Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) joined Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) letter calling on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to swiftly implement provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to increase federal firefighter recruitment and retention. The provision would include new occupational series for federal wildland firefighters and pay raises for these responders. OPM, responsible for federal personnel management, has missed its target of May for completing this process.
2021 was one of the longest and most destructive wildfire seasons on record, exacerbated by rising annual temperatures and worsening drought conditions in the West. Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen are prioritizing efforts to provide federal agencies with the resources they need to hire and retain vital firefighters year round.
“We write to urge you to swiftly implement the requirement for federal agencies to create a distinct ‘wildland firefighter’ occupational series and to expedite the delivery of the $600 million in supplemental pay for wildland firefighters as provided in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA),” the Senators wrote.
“The implementation of these provisions will increase federal wildland firefighter recruitment and retention and improve their morale,” the Senators concluded.
Full text of the letter is available here.
Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen have led federal efforts to combat wildfires. Cortez Masto secured key provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law which provided $3.4 billion in wildfire prevention efforts in Nevada. Recently both Senators introduced the National Wildland Fire Risk Reduction Program Act which would improve our sensing technologies towards wildfires and standardize our data collection to improve our national response to these disasters. Both Senators also sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee supporting $1.154 billion for U.S. Forest Service firefighter salaries expenses in Fiscal Year 2023.