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In wake of deadly Maui fire, Vail reminds visitors of wildfire preparedness as mitigation efforts roll on

August 15, 2023, 11:28 am

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, fifth from the right, talks to Vail Fire Chief Mark Novak, left, and other stakeholders at the site of the proposed 3,059-acre Booth Creek Fuels Project — a joint wildfire mitigation project between the town and the U.S. Forest Service in East Vail (David O. Williams photo).

The Town of Vail recently issued the following press on its “Stay Wildfire Ready” program for visitors in the wake of the deadly Maui wildfires. U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, who represents most of Eagle County and all of Vail, Boulder and Fort Collins in the massive 2nd Congressional District, was recently in town to meet with firefighters and review the Booth Creek Fuels project in East Vail. Neguse is a leader on wildfire mitigation and firefighter pay issues (see Neguse press release following Vail release):

The recent wildfire disaster in Maui serves as a reminder that visitors to our community may be unfamiliar with emergency notification and evacuation procedures. Vail Fire and Emergency Services along with the Ready, Set, Go program have joined forces to pilot the wildfire preparedness program “Stay Wildfire Ready”, which is designed specifically for visitors.

Short term rental owners and managers are encouraged to participate in this important free program. All that is required to participate is to post a Stay Wildfire Ready flyer in your unit. The flyer is provided by Vail Fire and Emergency Services and provides wildfire and evacuation preparedness information for visitors. The program will also provide reusable grocery bags for visitors. These reusable grocery bags have wildfire preparedness information printed on them.

Short Term Rental owners or managers who participate will also be provided with a Stay Wildfire Ready baseball cap that features the Vail Fire logo. To learn more about the program and how you can participate contact Wildland Program Manager Paul Cada at pcada@vail.gov or 970-477-3475.

Click here for more information

Rep. Neguse Leads Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Federal Firefighter Pay

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO), Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus and Ranking Member of the United States House Subcommittee on Federal Lands, introduced the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation to increase firefighter pay – bolstering recruitment, retention, and well-being, which will improve wildfirereadiness, alongside Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Katie Porter (D-CA), Josh Harder (D-CA), Rep. Scott Franklin (R-FL), and Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR). Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) introduced this legislation in the Senate, along with Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Jon Tester (D-MT).

This legislation incorporates parts of the pay provisions from Tim’s Act, Congressman Neguse’s comprehensive firefighter pay and benefits legislation. Tim’s Act is named in honor of Tim Hart, a brave smokejumper from Cody, Wyoming, who tragically lost his life on May 24, 2021, while battling the Eicks Fire in New Mexico. 

Since taking office, Congressman Neguse has worked tirelessly to bring federal resources home to recovering communities and advocate for increased support for wildland firefighters, wildfire prevention, and forest management. Tim’s Act would increase base pay, improve deployment pay, support enhanced pay management oversight, and boost firefighter physical and mental well-being by ensuring firefighters receive paid rest and recuperation leave.

In 2021, President Biden enacted elements of Tim’s Act through the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law created a new classification series specifically for wildland firefighters, temporarily increased pay, and established new support systems for firefighters through mental health services.

The temporary pay increase expires on September 30th, 2023, making it necessary to pass the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act ahead of this deadline. This bill will permanently increase federal firefighter pay and will open the door for additional pay and benefit improvements from Tim’s Act.

“Our federal wildland firefighters are on the frontlines of every wildfire in our country. They are irreplaceable. For years, many of us have fought to secure critical pay raises for these brave first responders, which we successfully enacted in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and it is simply unacceptable and inexcusable for Congress to not immediately renew these provisions,” said Congressman Neguse. “However, while the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act is an important starting point, it cannot be the finish line. We need to pass this legislation to ensure our federal firefighters are fairly paid, but our work is not over. I will continue to advocate for the passage and enactment of Tim’s Act – making certain our federal firefighters have the support they deserve.”

“These courageous men and women work grueling hours in the most difficult of circumstances,” said Congressman Connolly. “It is our absolute responsibility to provide them with fair compensation and fix this looming issue expeditiously. I thank Congressman Neguse for his steadfast leadership on this issue.”

“Our federal wildland firefighters are our primary line of defense against wildfires,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act made critical investments and temporarily authorized pay increases for these brave men and women on the frontlines. I am proud to join my bipartisan colleagues in leading the Tim’s Act which will ensure our federal firefighters can keep this critical pay increase, as well as access to mental health resources and adequate time off for recovery.”

“Californians count on wildland firefighters to keep us safe; docking their pay and benefits, as we already face a recruitment and retention crisis, is simply not an option,” said Congresswoman Porter. “I am proud to back this legislation to stave off the worst harms of this fall’s firefighter pay cliff, but Congress has a lot more work to do to maintain a strong wildland firefighter workforce.”

“Wildland firefighters endure hellish conditions often living in remote areas for weeks on end, inhaling hazardous smoke, and enduring temperatures of up to 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, all the while working for up to 18 hours a day to protect our families,” saidCongressman Harder. “At the very least, they deserve a living wage and support for their mental and physical health. We can’t risk losing any more of our wildland firefighting force in the middle of wildfire season while more and more devastating wildfires put our homes and air quality at risk.”

“I’m honored to join this bipartisan effort in support of our wildland firefighters, who run towards danger to keep our communities safe. Unfortunately, time is running out to ensure they continue receiving the pay they deserve. The Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act is urgently needed legislation that will ensure these courageous heroes are well compensated for their selfless dedication and service to battling dangerous wildfires,” said Congresswoman Chavez-DeRemer.

“In terms of addressing the growing wildfire crisis throughout the United States, the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act (WFPPA) is absolutely critical to prevent the worst-case scenario within the federal wildland firefighting services this year. If the provisions within this law do not pass by September 30, federal wildland firefighters will endure a pay cliff of a 50% cut to their base pay, up to $20,000. If this happens, a mass exodus of highly specialized firefighters will begin that may be impossible to stop,” saidNational Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) President Randy Erwin. “Thankfully, there is a tremendous amount of bipartisan support for the WFPPA in both the House and Senate. In addition to continuing existing practices on pay, the bill recognizes the 24/7 working life of wildland firefighters while on assignment, and it calls attention to the burnout and exhaustion that these firefighters experience throughout the year. I call upon every member of the Congress to pass this bill quickly. The WFPPA represents a first step in modernizing the federal wildland fire services so that in the future, the country can see fewer smoky days.”

One Response to In wake of deadly Maui fire, Vail reminds visitors of wildfire preparedness as mitigation efforts roll on

  1. Bruce w Gillie Reply

    August 15, 2023 at 2:42 pm

    e have all heard and been horrified by the fires in Maui and the destruction in Lahiana.

    It could happen anywhere. And resort areas are not immune. If you have watched the news and seen that there are 100s of local residents there who need shelter and supplies to survive the aftermath of the disaster then you know how important it is to have volunteers to provide these services;

    Please consider training with the American Red Cross in Eagle County.

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    Your American Red Cross of Western Colorado is teaming up with the Western Mountain Regional COAD to offer the community TWO Shelter Fundamentals Trainings – the first will be August 29th in Eagle and then again the following day, the 30th in Carbondale. These trainings will take place from 10am – 3pm and lunch will be provided. We are hoping to get some support from the community by passing the word about this opportunity with the hopes that we can build up our volunteer teams in these areas. Please feel free to forward this email to your respective networks in Western Colorado.

    Our Disaster Response Teams provide 24-hour emergency response to local disasters, particularly house fires and natural disasters, ensuring that those affected have access to resources for necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing. We bring comfort and care to those families impacted. Once we’ve insured they have the shelter, food and clothing they need, we also offer Disaster Health and Disaster Mental Health Services, while providing additional recovery resources.

    Training Details:

    Shelter Fundamentals Training
    Option 1 – August 29th – 10am-3pm – Eagle
    Location: Eagle Public Library – Community Room
    Option 2 – August 30th – 10am – 3pm – Carbondale
    Location: Third Street Center – 520 S 3rd St. – Calaway Room
    Dress: Casual and Comfortable
    RSVP to Joshua.Stewart@Redcross.org (important for space and lunch requirements)

    Can you help spread the word?? Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions! Thank you!!!

    Josh Stewart | Volunteer Recruitment Manager Bruce Gillie

    American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming Eagle County Coordinatot,

    (970) 242-6646 (p) | (970) 545-2795 (c) American Red Cross

    Joshua.Stewart@Redcross.org 970-306-9152

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