WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) joined the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation to increase firefighter pay – bolstering recruitment, retention, and well-being, which will improve wildfire readiness, alongside Congressman Joe Neguse (CO-02), Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Congressman Scott Franklin (FL-18), Congressman Josh Harder (CA-09), Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-47), and Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05). Senators John Barrasso (WY), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Joe Manchin (WV), Steve Daines (MT), Jon Tester (MT), and Alex Padilla (CA) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
“Our federal wildland firefighters are our primary line of defense against wildfires,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act made critical investments and temporarily authorized pay increases for these brave men and women on the frontlines. I am proud to join my bipartisan colleagues in leading the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act which will ensure our federal firefighters can keep this critical pay increase, as well as access to mental health resources and adequate time off for recovery.”
“Our federal wildland firefighters are on the frontlines of every wildfire in our country. They are irreplaceable. For years, many of us have fought to secure critical pay raises for these brave first responders, which we successfully enacted in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and it is simply unacceptable and inexcusable for Congress to not immediately renew these provisions,” said Congressman Neguse. “However, while the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act is an important starting point, it cannot be the finish line. We need to pass this legislation to ensure our federal firefighters are fairly paid, but our work is not over. I will continue to advocate for the passage and enactment of Tim’s Act – making certain our federal firefighters have the support they deserve.”
“These courageous men and women work grueling hours in the most difficult of circumstances,” said Congressman Connolly. “It is our absolute responsibility to provide them with fair compensation and fix this looming issue expeditiously. I thank Congressman Neguse for his steadfast leadership on this issue.”
“Wildland firefighters endure hellish conditions often living in remote areas for weeks on end, inhaling hazardous smoke, and enduring temperatures of up to 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, all the while working for up to 18 hours a day to protect our families,” said Congressman Harder. “At the very least, they deserve a living wage and support for their mental and physical health. We can’t risk losing any more of our wildland firefighting force in the middle of wildfire season while more and more devastating wildfires put our homes and air quality at risk.”
“Californians count on wildland firefighters to keep us safe; docking their pay and benefits, as we already face a recruitment and retention crisis, is simply not an option,” said Congresswoman Porter. “I am proud to back this legislation to stave off the worst harms of this fall’s firefighter pay cliff, but Congress has a lot more work to do to maintain a strong wildland firefighter workforce.”
“I’m honored to join this bipartisan effort in support of our wildland firefighters, who run towards danger to keep our communities safe. Unfortunately, time is running out to ensure they continue receiving the pay they deserve," said Congresswoman Chavez-DeRemer. "The Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act is urgently needed legislation that will ensure these courageous heroes are well compensated for their selfless dedication and service to battling dangerous wildfires."
“In terms of addressing the growing wildfire crisis throughout the United States, the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act (WFPPA) is absolutely critical to prevent the worst-case scenario within the federal wildland firefighting services this year. If the provisions within this law do not pass by September 30, federal wildland firefighters will endure a pay cliff of a 50% cut to their base pay, up to $20,000. If this happens, a mass exodus of highly specialized firefighters will begin that may be impossible to stop,” said National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) President Randy Erwin. “Thankfully, there is a tremendous amount of bipartisan support for the WFPPA in both the House and Senate. In addition to continuing existing practices on pay, the bill recognizes the 24/7 working life of wildland firefighters while on assignment, and it calls attention to the burnout and exhaustion that these firefighters experience throughout the year. I call upon every member of the Congress to pass this bill quickly. The WFPPA represents a first step in modernizing the federal wildland fire services so that in the future, the country can see fewer smoky days."