Every year we experience more extreme and prolonged wildfires, and the wildland firefighting community rises to the challenge of protecting life, property, and natural and cultural resources. On July 2, for National Wildland Firefighters Day, we show appreciation and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of every single wildfire responder. Thank you also to the families and friends who support wildfire first responders who make it possible for first responders to be out for weeks or months at a time.
President Biden issued a statement this morning about the commemoration:
Today, on the first annual National Wildland Firefighters Day, I join Americans across the country in expressing deep gratitude for our wildland firefighters who heroically protect our communities and natural resources from wildfires.
Recognizing their service and sacrifice on this day is especially important because we continue to ask for more year after year. In the past year and a half, I’ve met firefighters in Idaho, California, Colorado and New Mexico who are working around the clock to keep people safe, all while the fires are getting bigger, more intense and harder to control due to climate change, the accumulation of dangerous fuels in our forests and the evolution of land development patterns.
Firefighters can spend months away from loved ones, valiantly working to save lives, homes, schools, businesses, natural resources and wilderness areas. Beyond fighting fires, these dedicated men and women also work year-round to protect us from wildfires before they start by doing the important fuel management work needed to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic fires. This work is hard and extremely dangerous.
That is why my Administration continues to make supporting this workforce a top priority. Building on what I started last year, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act authorized historic new initiatives and resources for wildland firefighters that we are implementing now. This includes a substantial salary increase, new programs to support the mental and physical health of wildland firefighters, and the creation of a wildland firefighter job series that will improve recruitment, retention, and career growth opportunities.
We are also building our firefighting workforce, including converting more temporary firefighting positions to permanent jobs. And we’re further supporting our brave firefighters by doing everything we can to help reduce the risk of catastrophic fires, including proposing a nearly 60% increase in funding for hazardous fuels management in my budget request for the fiscal year 2023, and investing another $2.5 billion in this work over the next five years through my Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.
National Wildland Firefighters Day will take place annually during the previously established Wildland Firefighters Remembrance Week. I have attended too many memorial services for the fallen, including almost nine years a day, *in honor of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona. They were some of the strongest, most disciplined, tenacious and physically fit firefighters in the world. So this week we will also reflect on those firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty and renew our commitment to wildland firefighter safety. We pause to remember them, commemorate their selfless service, and thank their loved ones for their service and many sacrifices.
May God bless firefighters and their families across our nation.
*Link to Granite Mountain Hotshots memorial service coverage added by Wildfire Today.