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U.S. Congress Subcommittee hears testimony on bill advocating for wildland firefighters

Two firefighters walk behind a wall of a grass fire.

This week, the U.S. Congress Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Landsheard testimony from stakeholders who are advocating for the Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Classification and Pay Parity Act.

It's a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Representative Liz Cheney who told the subcommittee that wildland firefighters need to be better supported by the federal government since they are protecting the West.

"Making sure that we're in a position where we are providing the kind of resources wildland firefighters need, kind of benefits they need and the kind of commitment they need through the adequate pay and salary," Cheney told the Subcommittee in a brief statement of support.

The issue is garnering attention as the wildfire season is getting longer and more destructive. Federal firefighters-who already work in poor conditions—are having to work even longer hours with limited time to recharge.

The bill would increase firefighter pay, give them better physical and mental health benefits and classify them as emergency responders.

Bill co-sponsor and Colorado Democrat Joe Neguse said the passing of this bill should be a no-brainer.

"We are pushing our firefighters to the brink and it strikes me that there is an issue like this, where we have Republican and Democratic support, support from stakeholders, support from the administration. I can't seem to find anyone who opposes it, that we could get this done," said Neguse.

The legislation is named after Tim Hart; a Cody-based wildland firefighter that passed away this summer from injuries he sustained while fighting a fire.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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