$15/Hour for USFS Fire Jobs

Mike Archer’s wildfire news email today has this item:

The U.S. Forest Service has more than 120 fire-related job openings in the Stanislaus National Forest, paying from $15 to more than $35 per hour, and the agency is hosting an in-person application-assistance and hiring event in Sonora today.
Stanislaus National Forest to host hiring event Tuesday in Sonora for 120+ openings https://www.uniondemocrat.com/news/article_3a99fa0a-9b88-11ed-aab7-33e4233e8071.html

The article says it’s not quite $15:

The job openings represent all aspects of the forest’s fire operations, from basic, boots-on-the-ground wildland firefighters, who start at $14.38 and can earn up to $18.06 per hour; to fuels managers, who start at $27.07 per hour; and assistant forest fuels manager, who start at $39.69 per hour, Forest Service spokesman Benjamin Cossell said Monday.

I’d say $14.38 isn’t going to attract folks. What amount would? $20/hour?

3 thoughts on “$15/Hour for USFS Fire Jobs”

  1. Grassroots Wildland Firefighters has been working on this since 2019. You probably remember a statement in BIL which stated firefighters would receive a 50% pay increase or 20k whichever is less. This first step should have provided an entry level GS3 (CONUS-RUS) ability to make $20.67 an hour and time and a half overtime rate at $31.00. The debate that ensued from government lawyers after BIL was passed was to only pay out on a BASE rate not BASIC hourly pay rate.

    Do to the fact this is ‘pay increase’ is only a supplement, the employee misses out on the higher OT and Hazard rate AND they miss out on additional government matching with their TSP contributions.

    This BIL ‘bridge funding’ is authorized for 5 years but likely to exhaust funds by 2024.

    Firefighter attrition rates and high vacancy rates are not just about low oppressive wages. Firefighters have to apply for single increment job promotions; often hit a bottle neck at the GS8 or 9; and often takes 15 years to get to this 8/9 grade level. If jobs are not supervisory you might find career ladder jobs but they are few and far between. People live at remote duty stations far from home and still have to pay rent for government quarters and goes without saying away from their families for 6/8 months out of the year. This year the USFS did grant 3 days off after 14 but DOI’s policy is only 2 days after 14. Check out our website for how we are tackling systemic issues and proposing administrative and legislative reforms.

    We are about to stand up the Workforce Work Group as part of the Biden/Harris Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. I welcome your ideas and debate about how our government agencies can recruit, retain, train, and promote a highly responsive and experienced fire workforce capable of 21st Century wildfire and prescribed fire implementation.

    • Thanks, Kelly!

      A suggestion.. there’s a page to submit recommendations. I always like to read other peoples’/organizations’ comments.. but I did not find a place to look for them.

  2. It sure seems like the Forest Service has underestimated how important the lower level positions are in the Agency’s mission. Whether it is in Fire, Timber or Recreation, the Agency has treated them poorly, denying them life’s essentials, like status, health plans, retirement and even the ability to compete in the job market on an even footing. It seems that the Forest Service has made their bed, and now they have to keep sleeping in that 40 year old thing. I guess they could also outsource those positions, to make sure that important stuff gets done. How long can they pretend that everything is fine?


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