Good luck in this endeavor. No group deserves to be called firefighters more than the full-time wildland crews.
First of all I did sign the petition and hope that things do get better defined by the govt. Although at this point there seems to be more partisanship and bickering to see anything come out, but considering the devastation of wildfires and the loss of several wildland FFs, I also see this as a good wake up to the idiots in charge to show some bipartansship.
On the flip side of things, is firefighting the PRIMARY job of many of these FFs in question? What are the parameters that surround the jobs? I seriosly don't know enough of the wildland aspect in regards to FF. I spoke with a pilot for CALFIRE a couple years ago at an IAFF function, but this particular aspect didn't come up. However, his primary job is that of a pilot and really not the same as a FF on the ground. I know there are forest rangers etc who also do wildland FF, but again the FF component is not the primary job. I understand that many of those who do work as wildland FFs tend to do so as a seasonal employment and have worked alongside some of those who do wildland FF as a side gig. So I guess when it comes down to the actual topic and reclassifying the jobs, what does this really do? What changes?
Do you think federal wildland firefighters should be treated and paid comparably to their private, city, and state counterparts?
Depends. Asking such a question doesn't really delve into the many different aspects involved. As a primarily structural FF of a municipal dept, we still train and do some wildland FF, albeit, on a limited scale, yet wildland FF is another component to the myriad of other tasks I'm charged with knowing. My pay is comparable to other depts of this size and comparable with the jobs that are done, is it really the same thing that those in the federal wildland FFs do?
Wildland FF tends to be more of a seasonal aspect. While there are years where one can be very busy, there are those that aren't so much. I know of folks that are ready to go if called for a larger wildfire, but many of them never really were called out for a large fire. Why compare a seasonal job to someone who has a fulltime job as a municipal FF?
When it comes to volunteers, there are may vollys, especially in rural areas, who also do wildland FF and don't necessarily see the same compensation as even those current federal wildland FFs see. What makes a federal wildland FF different from someone like that?
In my state the DNR is the primary wildland firefighting entity. It seems to be run similarily to the federal wildland FF where there are those who hold jobs within the DNR that respond to wildfires, but it is not their primary job. The DNR also works alongside those rural depts etc for wildland operations, but nothing (I know of) denoting those rural FFs fall under the DNR for compensation. I know of a couple guys I work with who also operate with the DNR for wildland FF, but again, they are temporary employees and not the primary job.
If not, what makes other departments more deserving?
More "deserving" implies that all other aspects involved with a municipal FF..... (private tends to deal with a brigade and not necessarily on the same compensation level as primary FFs, and state tends to imply that there are state FFs, but doesn't necessarily apply across the country).....don't factor into that of what a federal wildland FF does. Essentially you are asking people to defend their compensation within their jobs. Is that really fair? Is a federal wildland FF doing structural FF and all the training that corresponds with it? Are they providing EMS? Are they providing technical rescue? Are they conducting fire inspections, public education. etc? Answers most likely are no. Essentially you are trying to compare apples to oranges, which isn't the case at all. The primary duties conducted are really not the same. Does this mean that a municipal FF is more "deserving"? Not necessarily, but the compensation and benefits justifies their primary job and the multitude of parameters involved.
Now, I'm not against having a better definition and better compensation for those who are employed as a federal wildland FF when they are called upon. I understand they are enduring hardships and time from family to save lives and property. I understand they train and put their lives on the line in the course of their duties. What I disagree with is believing that a wildland FF is doing the same duties I'm charged with in regards to the job components to sit there and have a comparison made as to why I would say I (a municipal FF) is "more deserving" of compensation. There are many volunteers who aren't even compensated to the same rate I am and they are compensated even less than a federal wildland FF. Asking to justify that aspect is BS in my opinion. I definately see a reason to push for better classification to the govt, but don't try to pit different FF aspects against one another to push for it.
The question pertains to the current classification in regards to terms like "Forestry and Range Technicians" and other such termed jobs. Since your push here is to have the classification changed, then that is why I asked what the PRIMARY job is. My point here is that one can be a forest ranger or DNR warden or any other type of job and they also perform wildland FF as part of their job. Wildland FF is not necessarily the primary job.
There are also many folks who are trained in wildland FF and ready to go if called upon in the terms of a seasonal capacity, but again the primary job in which they do is not FF. Much like a volunteer FF, their primary job, in most cases, is not a FF, but farmer, mechanic, shop owner, etc, etc. Those volunteers do fall under certain terms and definitions when they are operating in the capacity of a FF, but don't necessarily get the same benefits and such as a career/municipal FF does.
You're comparing apples and oranges when you phrase the questions they way you are. You essentially seem to be alluding that a wildland FF is doing the same as a municipal/structural FF when it comes to comparables. What you also omit, is a significant portion of wildland FFs who aren't receiving really any compensation whatsoever, in the terms of the rural volunteer FF. It doesn't seem like you are accounting for the bigger picture when asking the pointed questions you are.
First off, thanks for clearing some more of that up. As I mentioned in my first post I don't know a lot when it comes to the wildland FF aspect of things. Much of what I do know pertains to talking with those who do wildland FF on a limited/seasonal basis, or is part of their primary job duties.
The aspect in regards to compensation is more along the lines of how the questions were worded, seeminly pointed, as opposed to inquiring opinion. As it is, FFs and essentially public workers in general, have been too often called upon to justify their wages and benefits for their jobs, by those who have no understanding of the job, but believe they know what type of pay is best. When it comes to this, it seems to become another aspect of the same pitting FFs against each other. That was my original thought in the matter and why there is more to look at than just pay and compensation of a municipal FF and federal wildland.
When it comes to the actual compensation aspect in which you referred, the question I have is how does this differ from those that are part of a FEMA task force for USAR? I believe they are falling under the same parameters in which you described, when they are tasked away. Even if these are municipal workers, they fall under the federal aspects when they are sent out, they also camp out, eat MREs, etc while they are at an incident. They are not being paid OT for the entire duration in which they are out and if there is some form of "bridging compensation" between the member and their primary employer (municipality), then that is something worked out at the local level, not federal.
I am a member of our local USAR team, but much of the training I received was at the state location. There is a state team, which is similarily run, by how you describe. When there is state training etc, the member from a municipality is then an "employee" of the state. The only thing (from my dept at least) that a state member gets is time off from the job. The compensation they receive from the state is very similar to what you describe (sans the travel and prolonged deployment aspect since the state team has never been called up as of yet). When doing training for a week or so, the compensation is only based on the 40 hour week, broken into shifts, no compensation for downtime, and food is MREs or limited catering (since most training is at the same place). There is no compensation for travel time, mileage, etc.
Prior to implementation of a single state team, there were divisional Task Forces where an area conglomerate was established to be a regional response for USAR. When that was first initiated, there was OT paid for training that was off duty, but that was by dept contracts, with a grant from the state. Most of the training was day training (8 hrs) for a week to meet the criteria for rope ops and tech, trench ops and tech, confined space ops and tech. The shoring and concrete and steel was at the state location and one was only compensated OT for their off days. If they were there over the course of their regular duty, they received no compensation whatsoever. So if a guy was sent to train on (for us) a Monday, Wednesday, Friday round, they only were paid OT for the Tuesday and Thursday, and only for the training time (8 hrs).
So what I'm saying here is that while it seems there is definately a legitimate gripe that you have, the same thing affecting you does affect others in a different capacity when it comes to the compensation aspect. If looking for comparables between a federal wildland FF and that of a municipal, well I would say the compensation is quite similar between what you see and that of a municipal FF who is part of such a team like USAR. Just putting things into perspective.
Again, I'm not against what you guys are seeking and bid you the best of luck getting the bill pushed, but just note that such compensation aspects are not just limited to wildland FFs based on their classification. I could definately see a legitimate justification for an "off-duty" stipend when deployed, so there is something for endurring the conditions. Sort of like a company that has an "on-call" status, where there is something extra when in that down period where you could be called upon.
Yes, they should....petition signed.
just read the post on issue I was on the big windy fire in Oregon where a 19 year old firefighter died on fire line and we lost 19 of our fellow brothers this year which were all firefighters and seen as no other we all are one in this field no matter what area we work if any one sees us in different light well pick up bladder bag and pack hose up hill then ask that Question
This does clarify up more of my questions. The thing is though, what does the reclassifying your job really do beyond title? As I mentioned to John's reply, much of the compensation aspect he mentioned in regards to "deployments" is reflective of other federally backed jobs, such as USAR etc when responding under FEMA. There may be other contractual language etc from those task force members deployed from municipal depts, but that is stuff worked out on the local level, not federal. Essentially they aren't paid for travel days, the 24 hours while out, etc. Just saying there are similarities in your job and what other jobs are compensated at etc.
The other question is, how does your compensation etc compare to other federal FFs? What are the differences involved if they may recieve higher pay and benefits?
The more I learn on this aspect it seems to me you are looking in the wrong place for comparables when it comes to your job and that of municipal FFs. Even as municipal FFs, there is quite a variety among comparables for depts. It seems like you guys may get deployed to many different areas etc, and at the same time, there are vastly differing comparables of municipal depts between such areas.
It seems to me, the focus of comparables should be starting out on a similar level. If you are federally employed, wouldn't it be easier to use a comparable to that of a federal FF as opposed to municipal?
Are you unionized at all? Would it be more prudent to organize as a group to push for better pay and benefits as opposed to pushing a petitiion for elected officials to take up?
I will say I have a better understanding of things now, than from the original post and I do thank you and John for the explaination. Idon't see an issue, nor reason NOT to be reclassified as FFs, especially if that is your primary job. The issue I see is more about where you are looking at for comparables and perhaps consider contacting the IAFF in regards to the possibility of unionizing.