Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) are joining Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in urging the Biden administration to implement provisions related to wildland firefighters in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act following its expected enactment. Amid historic wildfires across the West, federal firefighting agencies are facing major staffing shortfalls due to a significant pay gap between federal and state wildland firefighters.
In a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and OPM Director Kiran Ahuja, the senators wrote, “We ask that your agencies begin working together now to be in position to swiftly implement the pay increase for federal wildland firefighters, the development of a distinct ‘wildland firefighter’ occupational series, and the conversion of at least 1,000 seasonal firefighting positions to permanent positions once this bill is signed into law.”
Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen have championed policies to support Nevada firefighters and led federal efforts to combat wildfires. This year, Senator Cortez Masto introduced her comprehensive Western Wildfire Support Act to help prevent, respond to, and recover from wildfires. Just last month, Senator Rosen led a group of Western senators, including Senator Cortez Masto, in a joint effort urging committee chairs to include funding for wildfire prevention and relief in forthcoming budget reconciliation legislation. Both senators also helped secure over $8 billion for wildfire prevention, suppression, and restoration activities in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, including $10 million for wildfire detection equipment.
Full text of the letter is available HERE.