WASHINGTON – Salaries for those tasked with controlling the country’s deadliest wildfires are “ridiculously low,” President Joe Biden said on Tuesday.
Before a meeting with federal homeland security and emergency management officials, the president told reporters he had promised to end the $ 13 an hour salary paid to federal firefighters.
“I just realized – I didn’t know it, I have to admit – that federal firefighters are paid $ 13 an hour. It’s going to end in my administration. It’s a ridiculously low salary to pay federal firefighters.” , Biden said.
Biden would have hit the table and said “this is ridiculous” when he learned the salary, according to a pool report.
The base starting salary for federal firefighters – those fighting forest fires on federal lands – is based on the salary scale in the Federal General Schedule. According to the Home Office, an entry-level firefighter or ranger helper, depending on location and with room for education or military experience, can expect to earn between $ 11 and $ 14 per l ‘hour. The crews also receive overtime.
The nationwide median salary for a firefighter, regardless of location, was $ 52,500 per year, or $ 25 per hour, as of May 2020, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
States like California also employ prisoners to fight wildfires, often compensating them with as little as $ 2-5 a day.
Biden had the backing of the nation’s firefighters during the 2020 presidential campaign. The International Association of Fire Fighters publicly endorsed Biden, then a presidential candidate.
The work of firefighters will be more crucial than ever this year. Officials in Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington state have warned that the 2021 wildfire season could exceed the more than 52,000 wildfires reported in 2020 – a national record .
Biden also announced he would hold a meeting next week with state governors in the western half of the country, cabinet members and federal emergency management officials to discuss efforts to prepare for the upcoming fire season. forest.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: President Biden Calls $ 13 Federal Firefighter Salary “Ridiculously Low”