Wildfires are once again looming over California and nothing has changed. Well, one thing changed and that got worse. The forest service is running out of experienced “hotshot” firefighters. Because of crippling environmental regulations and bankrupt utility companies, nobody bothers to clear the underbrush away from power equipment. Every summer, the weather heats up and the dry winds blow.
Blazing wildfires a way of life
Organic California residents consider blazing wildfires just another part of living in co-existence with nature. By not disturbing the habitats of gray squirrels or some endangered species of woodlice, they prefer to allow humans to be burned from their homes.
Since nobody wants to cough up the cash to pay the heroic rescuers properly, for doing a job they shouldn’t have to do in the first place, they’re walking away and saying “good luck.”
The U.S. Forest Service reports that they’re “running short of the most experienced and elite firefighters in the country.” These are the “forestry crews known as hotshots, who travel the nation putting out wildfires.”
They have been doing “interviews with union officials and agency employees” to find out what’s going on. One lighting strike, stray transformer spark, or radical Democrat arsonist is all it takes to displace thousands from their homes.
The wildfires aren’t waiting for reinforcements to arrive and it doesn’t look like they’re coming this year anyway.
“A combination of low pay, competition from state and local fire departments and exhaustion from fire seasons that are longer and more devastating than in the past has eroded the federal government’s ability to hire new firefighters and retain the most skilled.” Especially in California.
Less than minimum wage
In the Golden State of California, they aren’t crossing the palms of firefighters. They don’t even pay as much as the burger flipper’s demand. Entry-level “Forest Service firefighters in certain parts of the state earn less than the minimum wage of $14 an hour.”
It’s no wonder that “staffing levels have plummeted” ahead of seasonal wildfires which scientists say “could be especially active.” Union officials are concerned but there is nothing they can do about it. “Federal hotshot crews are understaffed as fire seasons looms across the West.” That will affect lots of remote operations.
Blazes are already burning in California, Arizona and New Mexico. Because of their liberal upside-down priority scheme, “roughly 30% of the federal hotshot crews that work on the front lines of wildfires in California are understaffed.”
A bunch of the “typically 20-person crews have lost so many veteran firefighters that the remaining workers have been assigned to lower-ranking Type 2 crews.” That’s because they “don’t require as much experience.”
In California, getting a fire crew will be a crapshoot. “In some parts of California, engine crews that are usually the first to arrive at wildfires, dousing them with water before they can grow out of control, have shrunk to the point where they can’t respond to calls seven days a week.” Fire engines are sitting “unstaffed and unused.”
It’s not like nobody saw this coming. “We’ve known for years we were coming to a point where there was going to be a problem, and it’s manifesting itself this year. I haven’t ever seen staffing levels this low,” vice president of the Forest Service union in California David Alicea notes.