Over the last several years, the United States has been experiencing more and more severe wildfire seasons in the summer. Fires are becoming more frequent and intense, and firefighters have been stretched to capacity every time just trying to keep the blazes contained. With a new wildfire season upon us and a new administration in the White House, it’s time for firefighters to get a higher wage for the vital service they provide.
President Joe Biden will be meeting with a coalition of governors from the western United States today to discuss the current record-breaking heat wave, the greater occurrences of drought and wildfires, and how best to combat all of them. Part of Biden’s plan to address wildfire concerns is to both increase the number of federally-hired firefighters and, perhaps more importantly, increase their wages.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly salary for a federally-hired firefighter is around $55,000, with locally hired firefighters making maybe a couple thousand more. That’s well below the 2019 US median household income of $68,703, and to Biden, such low pay for such important emergency workers is unacceptable.
“The last few days alone, we’ve seen droughts and wildfires in the West,” said Biden. “I didn’t realize this, I have to admit — that federal firefighters get paid $13 an hour. That’s going to end in my administration.”
NEW: Biden to raise federal firefighter pay to $15 per hour https://t.co/CEWdCy1TwM pic.twitter.com/dvQe7kctQt
— The Hill (@thehill) June 30, 2021
Biden plans to raise federal firefighter wages to $15 an hour at the very least, and maintain those wages long-term rather than only boosting them for wildfire season. In addition, he’s hoping to have more federal employees trained in firefighting procedures as “surge capacity,” for when more manpower is needed to contain a large fire, and to funnel some money into the development of early fire detection technology.