If you’re a federal wildland firefighter, you already know what I’m about to say. If you’re not, this may come as a surprise to you. The lowest paid people on a large wildfire… I’m including the kitchen help and those who are cleaning the toilets, the lowest paid personnel on the fire are likely the federal wildland firefighters. There might be some contract personnel down on that list, but for all the “hero firefighter” bs that we hear, isn’t it amazing that our firefighters are so pooly paid.
Municipal firefighters and some state firefighters can make more than twice as much as a federal wildland firefighter. And technically, the federal agencies who hire the fireghters don’t technically have any “firefighters”. The correct job title of the federal firefighters are actually “forestry technician” or “range technician”. If they were in a firefighter job title, they’d have to be paid more.
There is an organization called “Grassroots Wildland Firefighters” who are advocating for the federal wildland firefighters. This past week, their Executive Secretary testified before the Congressional Natural Resources subcomittee. Riva Duncan is a regular on my podcasts and this week we’ll be talking about the issues facing federal wildland firefighters including their pay, the correct job series (job title) and their health. Please listen and then share with all your friends and family who probably don’t understand the issues facing our dedicated and outstanding workforce.
We all have to deal with our supervisors at work. And while we’re dealing with our boss, our employees are having to deal with us as their supervisor. So we’re both an employee and a supervisor. That makes life interesting. We can bitch about our boss while at the same time our employees are bitching about us. A little self awareness can help us be better employees and better supervisors. Listen to this story and see if you have some ideas to make you a better employee and a better boss.
Often times in life, it’s the little things we do that are remembered. As a leader, we have to be aware that what we say and how we behave can have a big impact on our employees. And how we make our employees feel about us as their leader will effect their job performance and ultimately all our successes and failures. Listen to a story about how a small act engendered goodwill that I hope made a difference in several hundred firefighter’s lives. Please leave a comment if you enjoy this or any of the previous stories. Thanks for listening.
Back in 1996 I had recently quit my job as a Fire Captain at my Fire Department and had returned to school to get my Masters Degree. So I wasn’t currently working for a Fire Department or a Wildland Fire Agency. Instead I had been hired as a temporary firefighter for the summer and had been working for a State Agency and the Forest Service. Because I already had 22 years of experience at that point and carried the commensurate fire qualifications, I was utilized as a Division Supervisor when assigned to active fires. This particular fire was located in eastern Oregon. I was excited for the dispatch because I had never fought a fire in Oregon at this point of my career. So off I went to Oregon as I describe in the following audio story.
What is significant in this story was my perception of the man I was working for. I had never met him before but from the way he spoke to me, I assumed he thought I was a bit of a drone. But as you’ll hear in this story, he had a direct and lasting positive impact on my career. The lesson I learned from this is to not judge based on some hasty communications or limited knowledge of someone. My advice to other younger and often female firefighters I’ve mentored is to not be scared away from the gruff communications style of some of their supervisors. You don’t really know what’s going on behind his mustache. I hope you enjoy the story and please leave comments. Thanks.