The upcoming bill from a bipartisan group of California lawmakers addresses a key issue — the state’s ongoing battles with wildfires — the old-fashioned way. It spends more money hiring more government employees, but doesn’t address why the current budget isn’t working.
The bill has yet to be introduced so we will need to look at it in detail, but the basic parameters have been widely reported. Have a cold. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, have proposed adding 1,124 permanent and seasonal firefighters to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). ).
The measure would also require the assignment of three firefighters for every engine (up from the current average of 2.7) and would require the completion of a personnel study. McGuire has said the payment is just a “upfront payment” for the need to hire more firefighters.
It’s hard to oppose legislation that enhances the state’s firefighting capabilities, especially after years of fierce fire seasons. McGuire also introduced — and Governor Gavin Newsom signed — a bill (Senate Bill 206) that would make the Firefighters’ Rights Act available to seasonal workers, giving them additional public protections. group.
While everyone appreciates the hard work of firefighters, Cal Fire faces the same problems that plague every bureaucracy – high costs and rules. Union work reduces the ability to provide cost-effective public services.
Due to unusually high staffing costs, Cal Fire had to rely on a minimum-paid inmate fire brigade. In June, Newsom decided to close one of California’s main training facilities for prison firefighters, which would force the state to become more dependent on well-paid workers.
The average total compensation for a state firefighter including overtime and benefits is about $150,000 annually (despite the relatively low base salary), with the median much higher in the United States. cities and counties. Many firefighters receive exorbitant salaries. Meanwhile, Cal Fire is against implementing low-cost measures (such as enforcing “protectable space” laws).
We are not opposed to hiring more firefighters, but the state must first assess how it is spending its current budget and consider alternatives.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/01/15/bipartisan-bill-throws-money-at-fire-problem/ Bipartisan bill throws money at fire problem – Orange County Register