NFFE Calls on Congress to Implement Solutions Recommended by Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Matt Dorsey
September 29, 2023
Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) is calling on Congress to study and implement the solutions recommended by the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. As required by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA), the Commission was tasked with creating policy recommendations to address the wildfire crisis in the United States. The 50-person Commission released a 340-page report yesterday, which emphasized the need to increase both pay and staffing levels for the federal wildland firefighting workforce.
“It is no secret that low pay and staffing levels are serious obstacles to properly addressing the wildfire crisis,” said NFFE National President Randy Erwin. “The Commission’s report solidifies the need for Congress to provide appropriate funding for federal wildland firefighter salaries to protect this country from dangerous megafires, which are only increasing in size and severity. If firefighters are not paid a living wage, we will simply not have a workforce to protect America from the wildfire crisis.”
The Commission’s report highlighted that low pay has led to issues with recruitment and retention, and because the workforce is not as robust as it should be, wildland firefighters only have the capacity to carry out reactionary fire suppression duties. The Commission recommends that Congress invests in creating an expanded and sustainable workforce that can also perform necessary proactive risk reduction and fire mitigation work, as well as post-fire recovery duties.
“This report makes it clear that Congress is remarkably far behind in creating a well-equipped workforce that has the ability to properly address the wildfire crisis,” continued Erwin. “To those lawmakers who have been opposed to even doing the bare minimum in passing the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act, I urge you to read this report in it’s entirety to understand the dire consequences of Congress failing to do its job on this issue. Congress must implement the recommendations provided by the Commission or communities will continue to burn and people will lose their lives.”