Biden promises raise to federal firefighters
Federal agencies have underpaid firefighters for years, one former firefighter said, and many are leaving for better-paying municipal departments. The Biden administration announced Tuesday that firefighters working for departments such as the National Park Service will get a 50 percent raise or $20,000, whichever is less, to try to keep the department from fizzling out under staffing shortages. The money comes from an infrastructure bill to provide back pay and a raise for two years.
How bad are the shortages? The National Interagency Fire Center mobilizes crews upon request, but last year, it had to leave almost 1,900 orders unfulfilled for lack of firefighters. It had just 92 unfulfilled orders in 2019. Last year, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to raise the federal firefighter minimum wage to $15 an hour. Long-term funding is still in the works.
Dig deeper: Read Kent Covington’s report in The Sift on the most recent western U.S. wildfires.
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