$15/Hour for Wildland Firefighters

According to YubaNet:

WASHINGTON ⁠— Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the implementation of President Biden’s pay initiatives to recognize and support federal wildland firefighters. The initiatives will increase the amount paid to approximately 3,500 firefighters with the U.S. Department of the Interior and more than 11,300 firefighters at the USDA Forest Service to ensure all firefighters are paid at least $15 an hour.

The pay increase will go into effect immediately, and wildland firefighters will receive a minimum of $15 an hour with a backpay date of June 30, 2021. To ensure the pay increase happens immediately, the Departments will provide pay awards to all frontline firefighters that earn less than $15 an hour to ensure their pay will meet that minimum. In addition, all temporary frontline firefighters will receive a $1,300 award and all permanent frontline firefighters up to GS-9 will receive an award equal to 10% of six months of their base pay.

Last week, driving through Bend, Oregon, I saw signs outside three fast-food joints offering $14 to $15 per hour, and one of them offered a $200 signing bonus. Firefighters make more than $15/hour, when you factor in overtime and hazard pay. But will a $15 minimum be enough to attract new FFs? Maybe if they were permanent, year-round jobs with benefits….


6 thoughts on “$15/Hour for Wildland Firefighters”

  1. National minimum wage rose in step with inflation and productivity from its start in 1938 until 1968. If that had not stopped a 1/2 century ago, today it would be illegal for anyone to work for less than $24 an hour. https://cepr.net/this-is-what-minimum-wage-would-be-if-it-kept-pace-with-productivity/

    “A full-time worker needs to earn an hourly wage of $24.90 on average to afford a modest, two-bedroom rental home in the U.S. This Housing Wage for a two-bedroom home is $17.65 higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, and $6.12 higher than the national average hourly wage of $18.78 earned by renters. In 10 states and the District of Columbia, the two-bedroom Housing Wage is more than $25.00 per hour.” https://reports.nlihc.org/oor/about

    Also when it comes to income inequality, you gotta have a Bernie reference:

    “The Boomer generation needed just 306 hours of minimum wage work to pay for four years of public college. Millennials need 4,459. The economy today is rigged against working people and young people. That is what we are going to change.” — Senator Bernie Sanders

  2. Yeah no thanks. I’ve been looking at a ton of jobs in public lands- I’ve got an MS in Forest Science, BA in Recreation Management, 15ish years in invasive species management and riparian corridor restoration… I’ll stick to seasonal jobs that are fun, not dangerous, and pay decently ($20+/hr plus tips) until people get a clue. Not that public lands jobs are hiring anyway…

  3. I would definitely encourage “Temporary Employees” in timber to apply for these permanent seasonal fire jobs, just to get your foot in the door. I highly doubt that there will be timber jobs that temps can actually compete for. Maybe in a few years, there will be a desperate (permanent seasonal) need for savvy timber people. It might be worth it, to further your forestry career.

    However, that would require Congress to act….

  4. Let’s not forget that these folks also earn hazard pay and overtime when working on fires. For some there is also night and Sunday differential pay as well.

    When these folks are not working on fires (and doing the same time of work as all kinds of other non-fire folks, I hope that there is recognition that those non-fire employees also should be making at least $15/hour…


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