Washington, DC – Congressmen Mark DeSaulnier (D -CA11) and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA1) issued the following statement after introducing H.R. 3907, the Federal Wildland Firefighter Recognition Act. This bill will direct the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to allow those who risk their lives fighting wildfires to be called “Wildland Firefighters.”
“Each year in California and around the country dedicated men and women put themselves in harm’s way to prevent, prepare for, and help fight the spread of wildfires. As thousands of acres currently burn in California, these specialized public servants deserve to be appropriately recognized as ‘Wildland Firefighters’ for helping to protect our landscape and the surrounding communities,” said DeSaulnier.
“Due to misguided forestry management practices that don’t allow for thinning and other prevention strategies, our forests are being consumed by wildfires at an alarming rate. Each year, thousands of firefighters risk their lives to protect our forests and property from the spread of these fires. They are known by titles such as ‘Wildland Technician’ and ‘Forestry Technician’ – vague terms that don’t reflect the scope of their duties. H.R. 3907 ensures these men and women are recognized by the proper title and terminology. When a destructive fire spreads quickly through woodlands, we call it a wildfire. When someone fights it, they deserve to be called a Wildland Firefighter,” said LaMalfa.
Since their establishment in 1910, 1,086 wildland firefighters have died protecting American homes, forests and National Parks from wildfires. Despite their dedication, these brave men and women are not able to call themselves Wildland Firefighters. Federal agencies instead use a variety of bureaucratic terms that do not reflect the dangerous work that these personnel do, such as “Wildland Technician” and “Forestry Technician.” H.R. 3907 directs OPM to develop a separate and distinct Wildland Firefighter occupational series for employees whose main duties and responsibilities are preparing for, reducing fuels for, and the suppression of wildfires.