The Grassroots Wildland Firefighters applaud the Biden administration’s announcement of a pay increase for federal wildland firefighters, authorized in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021. Most federal wildland firefighters across broad geographic areas will soon receive a base salary increase retroactive to October 1, 2021. The pay increase will be $20,000 or a 50% per year increase, whichever is less.
“We have been working tirelessly with legislators and USDA Forest Service and Department of Interior officials on significant reforms for federal wildland firefighters,” said Kelly Martin, President of Grassroots Wildland Firefighters. “We believe that through determination and focused advocacy we have day-lighted the many urgent reforms necessary for the next decades of wildland fire management. We are deeply grateful to the original sponsors of the bill that became the IIJA for allowing us to have a seat at the table in this important first step towards critical reforms. We also want to thank President Joe Biden for signing the bill into law and for advocating for federal wildland firefighters. Federal wildland firefighters are on the front lines of destructive wildfires that are becoming more intense and lasting longer. They work tirelessly and selflessly in service to their country, communities, and natural resources. We want to acknowledge those brave women and men and their families, for the hard work and ongoing sacrifices they make on a daily basis.”
“The administration got this right,” said Martin. “By including all geographic areas and the majority of those working in wildland fire they acknowledge that retention challenges are not just a western [USA] problem but a national one.” Grassroots Wildland Firefighters would also like to thank Secretaries Tom Vilsack and Deb Haaland and Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Arjandas Ahuja, as well as the others in the Biden administration, for their support.
While we have said all along that the IIJA is a first step to stem the exodus of wildland firefighters from federal service, it is more important than ever for our elected officials to pass H.R. 5631, Wildland Firefighter Pay Parity and Classification Act (Tim’s Act), for permanent, comprehensive reforms. Pay, classification, comprehensive well-being, and a system that does not leave our wildland firefighters broken, depressed, and suicidal is paramount to providing a workforce that is flexible, fluid, and capable of operating in dynamic situations in the field while fulfilling their obligations at home. Grassroots Wildland Firefighters call on senators to develop a companion bill and pass this important legislation through both the House and Senate. We owe federal wildland firefighters, and the citizens and communities and wildlands they serve nothing less. Martin also said, “Forest Service Chief Randy Moore stated in a Senate hearing on June 10, 2022, that his intent is to develop a permanent pay raise for wildland firefighters. As the only advocacy group made up of current and former wildland firefighters, we stand ready to serve as subject matter experts in these next reforms.”
Read Tim’s Act bill text
View Tim’s Act fact sheet