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Lankford, Daines Introduce Bill to Streamline Ability to Hire Wildland Firefighters

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced the Direct Hire to Fight Fires Act that would provide the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior (DOI) permanent Direct Hire Authority to streamline the hiring process for skilled personnel in the firefighting or firefighting support capacity. The bill also directs the Forest Service and DOI to identify policies and propose changes to reduce the time and complexity of hiring wildland firefighters and support personnel.

“Bureaucracy should not prevent us from quickly responding to wildfires. When disaster strikes, the families and communities don’t want to hear that government red tape got in the way of hiring the necessary amount of people to stop the fires,” said Lankford. “Senator Daines, Representative Issa, and I are working to remove the red tape so we can streamline the hiring process for wildland firefighters and their support teams so that we can respond swiftly when disaster strikes.”

“Year after year, our Montana communities are devastated by wildfires and our brave firefighters’ response to these fires protects lives and our public forests,” Daines said. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to make it easier to hire the most skilled wildland firefighting personal in a timely manner to help keep our communities safe.”

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the companion bill to this legislation in the House of Representatives.

“The threat of annual and devastating wildfires is a deadly challenge that can only be faced with all available tools. Because California contains hundreds of thousands of acres of federally managed land – including the 50th Congressional District’s Cleveland National Forest – our federal agencies need more than equipment. We need to bring on new personnel to properly prepare for and fight the fires we know are coming,” Issa said.