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Regional News

Idaho House votes to allow hazard pay for state wildland firefighters

Wildland firefighter generic photo
Courtesy of Inciweb
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The goal is to help Idaho retain more of its seasonal firefighters.

The Idaho House has approved a bill aimed at helping the state recruit and retain qualified wildland firefighters.

The chamber on Friday voted 49-to-19 to allow the state Department of Lands to offer hazard pay to the seasonal workers it hires to fight fire. The bill’s sponsor is Sandpoint Republican Sage Dixon.

“For those wildland firefighters that are working under hazardous conditions, it would allow the differential pay to be up to 25% of their existing hourly wage and only under specific conditions, when they’re fighting active fires or working at an active heli base," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Sage Dixon [R-Sandpoint]. "These are the men and women who go out and protect our private federal and state lands, as well as our homes and businesses and it’s often difficult to find these folks to work and we’re in tough competition with other states as well as the federal government.”

Timber and firefighting associations support the bill, saying it’s a safety issue. They say they often lose experienced people to other agencies and have to staff their crews with a lot of first-time firefighters.

The bill now moves to the state Senate.