Senator requests top federal watchdog to assess fire prevention methods as wildfire season begins
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema urged the Government Accountability Office to conduct an assessment of the hiring and retention of federal wildland firefighters for effective fire management, and issue recommendations to strengthen Arizona’s federal firefighting force.
“Wildfires in the West are now a near-constant threat and we can no longer afford to rely on just a seasonal firefighting workforce. Transitioning to a larger, full-time workforce would add immediate capacity to fight wildfires nationwide, allow for greater flexibility in shifting personnel between regions depending on wildfire activity, provide more stable work opportunities and employee benefits, increase employee retention, and reduce agency costs and burdens associated with the seasonal hiring process,” wrote Sinema.
The Forest Service estimates that current fire seasons are lasting 78 days longer than they did in 1970. Sinema urged that, given the increasing threat wildfires present, the federal government must provide the necessary firefighting capacity and resources needed to protect Arizona communities.
Sinema recently introduced the Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substance Act—bipartisan legislation that protects firefighters, emergency response personnel, and communities from PFA chemicals found in firefighting foams.
In the most recent coronavirus-relief law, Sinema helped secure budget support for Arizona communities to retain police, firefighters, first-responders, and other essential services.
Click HERE to read Sinema’s letter.