The Facts

  • Though the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law reportedly gave thousands of wildland firefighters a pay boost, the threat of their mass exodus looms as a potential pay cut could take effect in a few months.

  • The law saw wildland firefighters receive pay raises of either $20K or a 50% increase of their base pay. However, as the funding expires at the end of September, their pay may revert to its previous mark, which was less than $15/hr for some.

The Spin

Narrative A

In 2022, nearly 69K wildfires burned more than 7.5M acres of land across the US. However, the brave men and women in the federal firefighting services received little compensation for working tirelessly to combat these disasters. It's high time they received significant pay bumps and other benefits — or they may walk away and find more lucrative careers elsewhere.

Narrative B

While $15/hr is certainly not enough for wildland firefighters, the issue may not be a lack of funding but a corrupt and bloated federal firefighting regime. It's the result of the fire-industrial complex — a mix of government agencies and private contractors profiting from failed fire suppression tactics, which usually do little to prevent fires but make the USFS a lot of money in the logging business.

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