Daines sponsors bipartisan bill to bolster wildfire preparedness

A bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) would create a new job series for federal wildland firefighters to more accurately reflect the hazardous nature of the jobs they perform. 

“In recent years Montana’s wildland firefighters have faced more intense challenges,” Sen. Daines said on Tuesday. “This bill will strengthen our preparedness for future wildfires and ensure we are recruiting and retaining the folks who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect Montana families and communities.”

Sen. Daines on April 20 sponsored the Wildland Firefighter Recognition Act, S. 1221, with original cosponsor U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to require that the director of the Office of Personnel Management create a classification that more accurately reflects the vital role of wildland firefighters, according to the text of the bill. The legislation would officially change the job series title from “forestry technician” to “wildland firefighter.”

During the previous wildfire season, more than 30,000 wildland firefighters and military mobilized to fight fires throughout the West, which ultimately resulted in the deaths of more than 35 people and the destruction of over 4,000 properties, according to the senator’s office. 

“Federal wildland firefighters put their lives at risk to protect us from deadly wildfires,” Sen. Feinstein said. “However, they often work for relatively low salaries and aren’t fairly compensated for their dangerous work.”

Sen. Daines in May 2019 first introduced the bill during the 116th Congress.