U.S. Bill to Increase Firefighter Pay Named For Cody Smokejumper
Written by Andrew-Rossi on October 26, 2021
Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney is sponsoring a new bill – named in honor of Cody smokejumper Tim Hart – to increase the pay and benefits of all federal firefighters.
U.S. Representative Liz Cheney is co-sponsoring new legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. She joins a bipartisan effort with Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA.)
The legislation seeks to overhaul the pay, benefits, and classification of federal firefighters. The efforts to stop nearly every major wildfire in the U.S. depend on the sacrifices of federal firefighters. The U.S. Forest Service employs most wildland firefighters in the nation – over 10,000 employees, combating wildfires in all 50 states and internationally.
The bill is named in honor of a Cody resident – Tim Hart, the smokejumper who lost his life battling a wildfire in New Mexico in May 2021.
36-year-old Tim Hart suffered a hard fall on May 24 while responding to the Eicks Fire in Hidalgo County, New Mexico. He was flown via air ambulance to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, where he passed away on Wednesday, June 2.
Hart’s memorial was held at the Spike Vannoy Stadium at Cody High School on June 12. Governor Mark Gordon attended, praising Hart and his singular bravery needed to be a smokejumper.
“Tim’s Act” will honor the life and sacrifice of Tim Hart by increasing the quality of life for all wildland firefighters.
Rep. Cheney issued the following statement upon introduction of the legislation:
“I’m proud to join Rep. Neguse in leading this effort to recognize the needs of our brave wildland firefighters who risk their lives to keep our lands and our families safe. I’m also proud that this legislation honors Tim Hart, a Cody native who we tragically lost earlier this year battling the Eicks Fire. Across the West, smokejumpers and their families make so many sacrifices on behalf of us all, and it’s critically important that we take steps to ensure that they receive adequate compensation for the dangerous work they undertake on a daily basis.”
Currently, wildland firefighters are classified as “forestry technicians,” and paid an hourly wage of $13.45. They are often not provided adequate health care benefits or housing while on the job.
Furthermore, according to recent studies, firefighters nationwide commit suicide 30 times as often as the general public, have a 30% increased risk for cardiovascular diseases and 43% increase for lung cancer.
Numerous organizations support the passage of “Tim’s Act.”
- Grassroots Wildland Firefighters
- S. Hotshots Association
- National Smokejumper Association
- Wildland Firefighter Foundation
- Eric Walsh Foundation
- National Federation of Federal Employees (N.F.F.E.)
- International Association of Firefighters (I.A.F.F.)
- Mystery Ranch Backpacks
- Team Rubicon
The Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Classification and Pay Parity Act is currently making its way thru the U.S. House of Representatives.
“This bill would take important steps in this regard while also providing access to essential benefits,” Rep. Cheney says. “I’m hopeful we can secure broad bipartisan support for this legislation that shows Congress will not turn a blind eye to the courage and valor of our wildland firefighters.”