Posted by on June 21, 2022 1:34 pm
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Federal firefighter pay to go up as agencies struggle to recruit workers

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President Biden announced Tuesday that federal firefighters will receive a pay raise over the next two years, as fire seasons become more destructive, and agencies struggle to retain workers. Federal firefighters will receive an annual salary increase of $20,000 or 50 percent of their current base salary, whichever amount is lower. This year’s fire season is off to a rough start, as over 3 million acres of land have burned so far.

Federal firefighters will get a salary boost over the next two years, President Biden announced Tuesday.  

Agencies will increase wildland firefighters’ salary by $20,000 a year or 50 percent of their current base salary, whichever amount is lower. Firefighters will also start receiving backpay from October of last year, which federal agencies will begin processing “in the coming weeks” with additional payments to take place throughout July and Augusts. 

Funding for the pay increase will come from $600 million of the bipartisan infrastructure law that the president signed last years, as agencies work on “longer-term” reforms.  

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“But we know there is more work to do, especially as climate change fuels more wildfires,” Biden said in a statement. “I will do everything in my power, including working with Congress to secure long-term funding, to make sure these heroes keep earning the paychecks – and dignity – they deserve.” 

Last June, the Biden administration bumped federal firefighters’ hourly pay up from $13 to $15, a “critical first step,” Biden said. 

White House officials said in a statement that investing in firefighters is a matter of national security, since there is more than 460 million acres of land at a moderate or high risk of wildfire this year.  

Changing development patterns, management decisions and climate change are turning fire seasons into fire years, officials said in a statement, and increasingly destructive fires are “exceeding available Federal firefighting resources.”  

Over 3 million acres of land have already burned this, according to National Interagency Fire Center, and 2021 saw the largest amount of land burned in a single year ever.  

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