WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, helped introduce the bipartisan Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act to permanently raise the caps on overtime premium pay for federal wildland firefighters. Despite risking their lives to protect Nevada communities and forests from catastrophic wildfires, many wildland firefighters live paycheck to paycheck, working overtime without fair pay. While both senators secured a temporary pay increase for these firefighters in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and a temporary extension in the government funding legislation passed last month, various agencies have indicated that the pay raise funding will run out, lowering firefighter pay rates to an unacceptable level.
“Nevada’s wildland firefighters are heroes who keep our communities safe,” said Senator Rosen. “We must provide them with the pay they deserve, and I’m glad to help introduce this bipartisan legislation to permanently increase their overtime pay caps.”
“Our federal wildland firefighters risk their lives to keep our communities safe, and this commonsense legislation will remove unfair caps that are keeping them from getting the overtime pay they deserve,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I’ll always work to deliver the resources and support our firefighters need.”
“Year after year, our wildland firefighters demonstrate unparalleled courage and resilience, traveling extensively and confronting immense dangers to safeguard American communities, forests, and natural landscapes from the devastating impacts of wildfires. Despite their monumental service, it is disheartening to acknowledge that many of these 11,000+ dedicated professionals are constrained to live paycheck to paycheck due to host of factors, amongst them the prevailing pay caps. The challenge of overtime work without proportionate compensation, combined with the growing vacancies in permanent firefighter positions, underscores the dire need for addressing this discrepancy. The ‘Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act’ presents a timely and significant solution to this systemic inequity. By proposing to elevate the overtime pay caps and augmenting the potential maximum earnings for our firefighters, the legislation rightfully recognizes and compensates them for their arduous and indispensable service,” said Luke Mayfield, President, Grassroots Wildland Firefighters.
Specifically, the Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act would:
- Provide a permanent statutory fix for wildland firefighter pay caps, increasing the total possible take home paychecks from GS 15 – Step 10 to Senior Executive Service II.
- Expand eligible employees to include National Weather Service meteorologists who deploy with firefighters for the hours they work on wildfires.
- Require a joint report from the Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, and the National Weather Service on the necessary staffing levels of wildland firefighters and incident meteorologists.
Senators Rosen and Cortez Masto have been leading the charge to increase pay for federal wildland firefighters. They recently sent a letter to Senate leaders urging them to include a permanent salary increase for federal wildland firefighters in any government funding package. In July, Senator Rosen helped pass bipartisan legislation out of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to make the pay raise included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for wildland firefighters permanent. Last year, both Senators introduced the National Wildland Fire Risk Reduction Program Act, which would improve sensing technologies towards wildfires and standardize data collection to improve our national response to these disasters.