Smoke from wildfires burning through bone dry forests and grasslands in the West covered the city of Helena, Montana on July 19, 2021 (Photo by Matt Volz | Kaiser Health News).
Wages for Montana’s firefighters will increase by $1.70 per hour starting with the 2022 fire season, the state announced Monday.
The bump in pay will bring the minimum base pay for seasonal firefighters to $15.50 per hour — making Montana more competitive in recruiting and retaining firefighters, according to a press release from Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office announcing the pay raise.
“Montana’s wildland firefighters are some of the most important and necessary personnel serving our state, especially with recent, more severe fire seasons,” Gianforte said in the release. “This well-deserved pay increase will help ensure our wildland firefighters remain the most skilled and mission capable firefighting workforce in the region.”
Heavy drought throughout Montana led to the scorching of nearly 1 million acres by wildfires this summer, forcing the state to spend nearly $50 million on suppression efforts.
As states in the West continue to endure longer fire seasons and more extreme fire behavior, supporting a modernized, fully staffed firefighting workforce remains a top priority for the state, the press release said.
“It is more important than ever that we modernize our firefighting workforce to effectively address the challenges we face during these unprecedented fire seasons,” said Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Director Amanda Kaster, in the release. “I’m proud that DNRC will offer higher pay during the upcoming season to the hardworking firefighters that continue to protect Montana lives, communities, and natural resources.”
In August, the Biden administration announced it was increasing pay for federal wildland firefighters to at least $15 per hour.
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