Tester’s bill allowing firefighters to stay on the job passes Committee vote

Senator’s bill ensures seasonal land managers can apply for permanent positions

(U.S. Senate) – As wildfires flare up across Montana, Senator Jon Tester’s bill to keep seasonal firefighters and land managers on the job passed the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today.

Tester’ Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act allows temporary seasonal wildland firefighters to compete for vacant permanent positions in the federal workforce. Many temporary seasonal employees, including wildland firefighters, are currently cut off from many career advancement opportunities that are available to permanent seasonal employees.

Tester’s bill, which was approved unanimously, removes barriers in the current hiring system that lead to higher training costs and a less safe workforce.

“Montana needs experienced firefighters at the helm. If we don’t allow these folks the same opportunities to advance, they are forced to quit their jobs even though they want to keep protecting our communities. That doesn’t make any sense,” Tester said. “It’s time for the full Senate to pass this bill so that we can keep firefighters and other forest workers on the job through the rest of the fire season.”

The bill affects employees who work for the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. To be eligible, employees must accrue four seasons of work with good performance.

Tester’s bill, which is cosponsored by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), is available online HERE.