NFFE Praises Reintroduction of the Tim Hart Act to Reform Federal Wildland Firefighter Pay and Working Conditions
May 9, 2023
Today, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) thanks Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO), and Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) for reintroducing the Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Classification and Pay Parity Act, also known as “Tim’s Act.” If passed, the legislation would deliver necessary sweeping reforms of pay, working conditions, and physical and mental wellness programs for federal wildland firefighters.
Tim’s Act was introduced during the last Congress but did not pass the Senate. However, portions of the bill were signed into law through separate legislation because of NFFE’s work on Capitol Hill, including the creation of a specific federal wildland firefighter occupational series, expanded presumptive health coverage, and protection of wildland firefighter’s “6(c)” accelerated retirement.
“Although we made significant progress during the previous Congress on federal wildland firefighter issues, there is still so much work to be done,” said NFFE President Randy Erwin. “This Congress must pass Tim’s Act to support wildland firefighters with critical reforms before we lose more firefighters to state and local fire departments. The women and men who risk their lives protecting our communities from the growing wildfire crisis are being failed by the federal government. We must provide these brave public servants with permanent fixes to pay, housing, health care, and mental health services. Congress can do that with Tim’s Act.”
Tim’s Act would reform physical health care and wellness programs, including the creation of a national registry to track chronic diseases caused by exposure to hazardous environmental materials while on the job. Further, mental health services are a major priority of the legislation, as it establishes a mental health awareness campaign, trainings, and a new support network for firefighters and their families.
If passed, federal wildland firefighters will be allowed to earn retirement benefits for temporary seasonal employment, which will retroactively apply to the last ten years of service. The bill will also offer firefighters the opportunity to secure tuition assistance and provide rent-free housing for those serving on duty more than 50 miles from their primary residence. For the first time in decades, Tim’s Act will reform pay to slow recruitment and retention losses, and firefighters will be paid for each hour they work while on a deployment or an assignment.
“For far too long, federal wildland firefighters have been asked to do more with less,” continued President Erwin. “We have reached a breaking point to where this system has become untenable. If we do not take the necessary steps to fix it, we will not have an adequate workforce to protect our country from wildfires. It is not hyperbole to say that communities will burn, and people will die. NFFE implores Congress to pass The Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Classification and Pay Parity Act immediately.”