Forest Service Chief Randy Moore Says Increased Payments for Firefighters Has Been Achieved
Written by Caleb Nelson on June 23, 2022
The Forest Service is celebrating “countless hours of advocacy, negation, hard work, and downright grit” with its recent success of making good on its promise of higher pay for firefighters.
According to the USDA and the Forest Service, “By the end of June 2022, USDA Forest Service wildland firefighters on the roles prior to May 21, 2022, will begin seeing additional pay, which is retroactive to October 1, 2021.”
Remaining wildland firefighters will begin seeing additional pay between “early July and August 2022.” The pay, as the Forest Service explains, will be a portion of an additional “$20,000 per year,” or 50% of their base pay, whichever is less. The base salary increase applies to all firefighters’ designated positions regardless of whether they are permanent or temporary.
According the Forest Service, the federal wildland firefighters have faced challenges for decades because longer fire years and “more severe fire years.” Their pay has not kept pace with their counterparts in the private sector and in state and local government.
The Forest Service states, “Climate change, overgrown forests, and a growing number of homes in the wildland-urban interface following over a century of rigorous fire suppression continue to fuel increasingly dangerous and complex wildfires. Resources and staffing have been stretched thin year after year. Our frontline wildland firefighters have long deserved this recognition for the grueling work they do.”
Randy Moore, Forest Service Chief, says, “This is a short-term measure to get additional pay to firefighters as soon as possible. Now, we can begin working on a longer-term solution to address core issues, including, a permanent pay solution, portal-to-portal pay, housing issues and firefighter health.”
Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a down payment toward investments in a stable, professional, and permanent wildland firefighting workforce.
Moore continues, “I am grateful to all who have supported us reaching this milestone, including Congress, our partners, and colleagues across the Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, Office of Personnel Management and the White House Office of Management and Budget.
“I want to share a special note of appreciation to Deputy Chief Jaelith Hall-Rivera, who has led the effort, unwavering amidst the many challenges in the path to accomplishing this milestone. Thank you for your leadership. In addition, a sincere thank you to colleagues across the Forest Service, including our dedicated team in Human Resources Management, leaders in WO Fire and Aviation Management, and the entire wildland fire workforce, whose interdependence and support helped us accomplish this milestone.
“I look forward to updating you later this summer as we advance our work to build the well-supported, more permanent wildland firefighting force needed to address the wildfire crisis.”