Three critical new programs for the more than 10,000 federal wildland firefighters who keep the Central Valley safe were announced on Tuesday, June 21.
Federal wildland firefighters will receive pay raises of up to $20,000 or 50 percent of their annual base salaries for up to two years.
The US Forest Service will create a new program to help wildland firefighters address mental health needs including post-traumatic stress disorder.
The US Office of Personnel Management will create a new Wildland Fire Management occupational series in order to better recruit, train, and retain skilled wildland firefighters.
“Our firefighters are heroes who keep our community safe and they deserve to know we’ll always have their backs,” said area Congressman Josh Harder. “I’m proud to announce that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law I helped get done last year is going to do a world of good for our firefighters. They’ll see a raise of up to $20,000 this year, better support for their mental health, and a brand new round of recruitment to make sure every firefighting job we have is filled with a great firefighter. We have a brutal fire season ahead of us, but this is a critical step toward making sure we’re ready for it.”
The $600 million in necessary funding for these programs will come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law which Harder helped author and pass last year. During those negotiations, Harder successfully fought to include a historic $3.4 billion investment in wildfire fighting and prevention, nearly three times CalFire’s yearly budget.
During a critical House Appropriations Committee hearing this April, the congressman pushed US Forest Service Chief Randy Moore to do more to address the wildland firefighter shortages impacting the Central Valley and all of California.