Harder Calls on US Forest Service to Address Firefighter Shortages in Historic Wildfire Year
WASHINGTON — Today, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) called on the US Forest Service to immediately address the low staffing levels of federal fire fighters by identifying incentives to hire and retain more firefighters. This comes on the heels of yet another deadly wildfire year ahead. Presently, 30% of federal hotshot crews, the most experienced and elite firefighters in the country, are understaffed. Despite last year being the worst wildfire year on record in California with more than 4 million acres burned, and this year expected to be “particularly brutal” and “worst-case scenario” according to wildfire experts, the US Forest Service is still struggling to hire and retain firefighters.
“When every year is the worst wildfire year on record, we need to do everything we can to hire federal firefighters and keep them on staff. That’s not rocket science,” said Rep. Harder. “When a fast food worker in California makes more money than our federal fire fighters, it’s a no brainer. We need better incentives to hire and keep our heroes on the frontlines. The US Forest Service needs every tool possible to hire and retain the elite firefighters who often stand as the only force between a brushfire and a catastrophe. I’ll be pushing on this through the Appropriations process and just about every way I can until our state has the firefighters we need to get through what is going to be yet another deadly season.”
In addition to calling on the US Forest Service to prioritize incentives to hire and retain federal firefighters, Rep. Harder recently pushed US Forest Service Chief Victoria Christiansen to increase federal support for California volunteer firefighters.