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

Biden administration approves long-delayed pay raise for federal firefighters

Firefighters building fire line.
Firefighters building fire line.

The Biden administration made good on a promised, but long-delayed pay raise for federal firefighters on Tuesday. The first of those temporary payments should be delivered next month.

The pay raises were included in the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law last fall.

It authorized agencies to increase federal firefighters’ base salary by either $20,000 annually or 50% of their current base salary, whichever is lower, through 2023.

The legislation said the pay hike would only apply to places where it’s difficult to recruit and retain firefighters, but later analysis determined that this difficulty is seen everywhere across the nation.

The infrastructure bill will cover the cost of the raises through September 2023. The payments will be included in firefighter paychecks starting this July. They’ll also get back pay for the raises dating back to October 2021.

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