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With wildland firefighter pay cliff just months out, thousands sign survey demanding action

 A wildland fire hand crew hikes toward the Spring Creek Fire in Colorado
A wildland fire hand crew hikes toward the Spring Creek Fire in Colorado

In less than three months, federal wildland firefighters face a substantial pay cut – that is unless Congress acts. With a recently launched petition, firefighter advocates are raising pressure for action.

In 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided funding for temporary pay raises for those firefighters. But at the end of September, that money runs dry. There are several legislative optionsfor making those raises permanent, but Riva Duncan, executive vice president of Grassroots Wildland Firefighters, said inaction could have serious consequences.

“On October 1, we're going to see a pretty big exodus of folks looking for other work that's out there,” she said.

Her group, which has been pushing to improve the working conditions of wildfire workers, started a petition last week calling on Congress to “pass a permanent pay solution.”

“We're hearing there's good support, but again, there hasn't been any action,” Duncan said. “And even if legislation passed tomorrow, implementation of anything is going to take time.”

As of Monday afternoon, nearly 8,000 signatures had been added, according to an update from Duncan. Many shared their reasons for lending their name to the demand.

“Firefighters put their lives at risk every day to protect everyone,” one signatory wrote. “If they aren't there, what happens then?”

Hey everyone! I’m Murphy Woodhouse, Boise State Public Radio’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter.

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