BOISE, Idaho — Legislation giving Idaho wildland firefighters hazard pay when confronting wildfires headed to the governor’s desk on Monday.
The Senate voted 35-0 to approve the bill that would see state-employed wildland firefighters get hazard pay up to 25% above their hourly wage. The bill to increase pay for Idaho Department of Lands wildland firefighters passed the House 49-19 last month.
Backers said the increase is needed to retain firefighters who get training from the state but leave to take better-paying firefighting jobs with other agencies that offer hazard pay.
“The result is a revolving door of employees that come and move on to other jobs,” said Republican Sen. Jim Woodward. “At two years, we see 40% turnover.”
Backers also said firefighters face significant risks on the job.
Starting Idaho wildland firefighters make $15 an hour. The hazard pay is expected to cost the state up to $390,000 a year.
The Idaho Department of Lands is responsible for handling fire protection on 9,800 square miles of state, federal and private land. It had one of its worst wildfire seasons in 2021 with some 225 square miles burned, six times the 20-year average and costing the state $75 million.
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