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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Montana's seasonal firefighters get a pay increase

Firefighters on the Rice Ridge Fire in 2017 keep a watch for spot fires.
Firefighters on the Rice Ridge Fire in 2017 keep a watch for spot fires.

Montana’s seasonal firefighters are getting a pay bump. State officials hope the roughly 12% immediate raise will help recruit and retain more wildland firefighters.

The $1.70 per hour wage increase brings state firefighters’ minimum base pay to $15.50.

Gov. Greg Gianforte and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation made the announcement Monday.

They say it marks the first pay adjustment of its kind for the state’s seasonal firefighting workforce.

A press release from the governor’s office says the pay bump makes the State of Montana competitive with other regional fire protection agencies.

The pay increase takes effect immediately and comes on the heels of a season in which fire scorched almost a million acres in the state by October.

Rare December wildfires burned thousands more acres in central Montana.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at