Senate committee passes appropriations act maintaining wildland firefighter pay

March 15, 2024

The National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) expressed its approval as the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations passed the Fiscal Year 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

This legislation ensures the continuation of current funding for federal wildland firefighter pay, including the bonus provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

This move is crucial in maintaining staffing levels for the upcoming fire season.

NFFE National President Randy Erwin highlighted the impact of this decision: “This is a significant development for NFFE members and all federal wildland firefighters,” said Erwin.

“For months, these selfless men and women have had to live with the possibility of their pay being cut in half overnight.

“Many NFFE members have traveled to Washington, DC, contacted their representatives, and done everything they can to advocate for the compensation they deserve by protecting the country on the front lines of the wildfire crisis.

“Today, their efforts have been recognized and Congress has delivered on their obligations for this year’s fire season.”

Investment in wildland firefighting workforce

The Appropriations Act allocates over $4 billion for wildfire suppression and an additional $6 billion to the U.S. Forest Service.

It underscores the Senate Appropriations Committee’s support for a permanent increase in firefighter base pay and its commitment to provide the necessary resources for implementing compensation reforms as per future legislation, such as the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act.

Further efforts for compensation reform

“NFFE is pleased with this outcome, as we can now further focus our attention on passing a permanent base pay increase through supplemental legislation,” Erwin continued.

“Thank you to Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Murry, Ranking Member Bozeman, Interior Appropriations Chairman Merkley, Ranking Member Murkowski, and every member of the Senate Appropriations Committee for your support of the brave men and women who serve our country as federal wildland firefighters.

“I look forward to working with both the House and Senate to pass additional legislation to enact comprehensive reform to pay and benefits for our wildland firefighters soon.”

FSJA Comment

The passing of the Fiscal Year 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act by the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations marks a key moment for federal wildland firefighters.

This decision not only safeguards the pay of these vital workers but also shows a clear understanding by the Senate of the essential nature of their work.

With increasing instances of wildfires, ensuring that these firefighters are adequately compensated is critical.

The focus now shifts towards the possible implementation of a permanent pay increase, as well as broader reforms in compensation and benefits.

This development signals a strong support from the government for its wildfire fighters and their indispensable role in managing the nation’s environmental challenges.

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