U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines joined a group of bipartisan senators in urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to avoid mass resignations of Montana wildland firefighters and promptly pass their bipartisan “Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act.” Daines secured a pay raise for federal wildland firefighters in his “Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act” that will expire on October 1.
“Due to the dangers that wildfires pose to our forests and communities, a lack of action to ensure the fair treatment of our federal wildland firefighting workforce would jeopardize national security. Therefore, we request that you take all possible actions to ensure this critical legislation passes into law before the end of the fiscal year,” wrote the senators.
Due to funding limitations, pay is set to revert to previous levels beginning on October 1, 2023. Given the lower pay and grueling nature of the work, there is great concern about the ability to meet the staffing and labor levels required to adequately respond to future wildfires across the country. Daines’ legislation would prevent these cuts from taking place.
The letter outlines how a recent report conducted by GAO found that the most commonly cited barrier to wildland firefighter recruitment and retention was low pay. Officials and stakeholders unanimously stated that the pay is too low and noted that the pay does not reflect the risk or physical demands of the work.
Republican Senators John Barrasso (Wyo.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), and Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Alex Padilla (Calif.), Jon Tester (Mont.), and Martin Heinrich (N.M.) and Senator Kirsten Sinema (I – Ariz.) joined Daines in signing the letter.
To see more of the work Senator Daines has done to protect Montana Wildland Firefighters, click HERE.