The Biden administration increasing pay for the government's wildland firefighters to ensure they all make at least $15 an hour.

The plan announced Tuesday will give raises to about 14,800 firefighters, including 3,500 employed by the Interior Department and 11,300 who work for USDA’s Forest Service. The agencies say this will increase pay for about 70% of Interior firefighters and about 78% of USDA’s force. The raises will total about $31.9 million; $7.6 million for Interior and $24.3 million for USDA.

“With the growing threat of climate change, severe droughts and longer, more intense fire years, we must have more resources to protect communities, infrastructure and the environment we all depend on,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Supporting our brave firefighters with pay, benefits and career opportunities that reflect the importance and danger of the work that they do is critical to facing the mounting wildfire threat.”

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Interior Secretary Deb Haaland also underscored the threat of climate change in a statement on the news and said the government “must remain steadfast in our commitment to wildland fire preparedness and response.

“The brave women and men on the frontlines deserve fair pay for their work to protect our families, our communities, and our lands from the increasing threat of fire,” she said. “By improving pay, we will not only support our wildland firefighters in a challenging year but also improve our ability to hire and retain top talent.”

The pay increases take effect immediately, retroactive to June 30.

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