Forest Service chief urges lawmakers on firefighter pay

By Marc Heller | 04/17/2024 06:17 AM EDT

Randy Moore told lawmaker Tuesday a temporary pay raise for wildland firefighters has helped recruitment and retention — for now.

Randy Moore.

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. House Appropriations Committee/YouTube

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said Tuesday that the temporary raise for wildland firefighters provided by Congress is helping the agency hold on to personnel but that losses will resume if a permanent fix doesn’t materialize.

Moore told the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee that the Forest Service is meeting recruitment goals for the upcoming wildfire season and isn’t losing firefighters at the pace it was before Congress and the Biden administration increased pay by $20,000 or 50 percent of base salary.

He said such losses have “basically stopped” on the idea that Congress “is considering a permanent fix,” Moore told the panel under questioning from Chair Mike Simpson (R-Wyo.). Recruitment is hitting goals, he said, “but it’s tenuous.”


While Congress has extended the raise through a series of appropriations bills, it hasn’t permanently changed the Forest Service pay scales and provisions in authorization language, lawmakers said. Until that happens, firefighters will remain at risk of pay reductions at end of any fiscal year.