Sinema Bill Preventing Pay Cuts for Wildland Firefighters Clears Committee with Broad Bipartisan Support

Jul 20, 2023

Sinema’s Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act maintains firefighter pay Sinema secured in her bipartisan infrastructure law

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee approved Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act – bipartisan legislation she introduced with U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) that protects the pay raise secured for wildland firefighters in Sinema’s bipartisan infrastructure law.
“We’re preventing unfair pay cuts to Arizona’s brave federal wildland firefighters who put their lives at risk to keep Arizona families safe. I’m proud my legislation earned strong bipartisan support, and I look forward to getting it passed into law,” said Sinema.
Due to funding limitations, pay is set to revert to previous levels on October 1, 2023. Given the lower pay and grueling nature of the work, there is great concern about the ability to meet the staffing and labor levels required to adequately respond to wildfires across the country. Sinema’s legislation would prevent these cuts from taking place.
A recent report conducted by GAO found that the most commonly cited barrier to wildland firefighter recruitment and retention was low pay. Officials and stakeholders unanimously stated that the pay is too low and noted that the pay does not reflect the risk or physical demands of the work.
Sinema’s Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act supports federal wildland firefighters by maintaining the pay raise Sinema secured in her bipartisan infrastructure law. Sinema’s legislation helps ensure the federal government can recruit and retain a sufficient wildland firefighting workforce, and that these brave men and women feel supported as they protect and keep Arizonans safe from life-threatening wildfires.
Sinema’s bipartisan infrastructure law also made historic investments in wildfire mitigation and recovery – including directing the federal government to create a new occupational series for wildland firefighters. 
In May of last year, Sinema urged the Administration to establish a special pay rate for federal wildland firefighters to prevent staffing shortages and strengthen Arizona’s wildfire response. Following Sinema’s request, the Administration announced a temporary pay raise from her law.