The National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) recently held a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol to raise awareness of the severe issues facing the federal wildland firefighting workforce. The event was hosted by U.S. Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA). Speakers included Reps. Porter, Joe Neguse (D-CO), Andy Kim (D-VA), as well as NFFE-IAM National President Randy Erwin, Kevin O’Connor of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), Bobbie Scopa of Grassroots Wildland Firefighters Association, William Bowser of the American Federation of Government Employees, and NFFE-IAM Wildland Firefighter Justin Brown.
All speakers discussed the crucial work that wildland firefighters undertake, despite unjust wages, staffing shortages, and poor workplace conditions. Members of Congress advocated for bipartisan support of President Biden’s fiscal year 2024 budget, which includes funding for new pay tables, healthcare and mental health programs, and enhancements to housing for wildland firefighters. Many speakers asserted that without significant change, the wildland firefighter workforce would see even more workers leaving the service, putting communities and lives at risk.