WILDFIRE

President pledges to raise firefighter pay in meeting with western governors

Jul 1, 2021, 6:15 AM
biden pledges increase firefighter pay...
President Joe Biden met with western governors, including Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, to talk about wildfires and firefighter pay on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Photo: KSL NewsRadio

President Joe Biden says he will increase federal wildland firefighter pay to help in a year of drought, heat, and more wildfires across the Western US.

He announced it in a virtual meeting with governors from the western states, including Utah Governor Spencer Cox, presidential cabinet members, FEMA and other organizations.

“Last week, I learned that some of our federal firefighters are making less than $13 an hour. C’mon man, that’s unacceptable to me,” said the president.

Read more: Forestry officials: Wildland firefighter pay, hiring need a boost

He says his infrastructure bill will include a pay raise to at least $15 an hour, with 10% bonuses on the front lines.

“These courageous women and men take an incredible risk running toward the fire, and they deserve to be paid, and paid good wages,” he said. “You know that expression, ‘God made man, and then he made a few firefighters?’ Well it’s true.”

Firefighter pay just part of a larger plan

The president said he is looking for other ways the federal government can help during this this wildfire season. Like through better forest management and fire prevention, including real-time ways to detect lightning strikes sooner, or more public education.

He also mentioned training National Guard troops to help in wildfires.

He allowed Vice President Kamala Harris, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and California Gov. Gavin Newsom to say a few words during the virtual meeting, but did not offer speaking time to Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and the others.

The full meeting is below. Scroll to the 35:00 mark for the beginning.

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President pledges to raise firefighter pay in meeting with western governors