Every year we face more and more extreme and longer wildfires, and the wildland firefighting community faces the challenge of protecting lives, property, natural and cultural resources. On July 2nd, National Prairie Firefighters Day, we express our appreciation and appreciation for the hard work and dedication of every prairie fire responder. We also thank the supportive families and friends of the Prairie Fire responders who have allowed responders to stay away for weeks or months at a time.
This morning, President Biden issued a statement on the commemoration:
Today, on the first annual Prairie Firefighters Day, I join Americans across the country in expressing my deepest gratitude to the prairie firefighters who heroically protect our communities and natural resources from wildfires.
Recognizing their service and sacrifice on this day is especially important because we continue to demand more from them year after year. In the past year and a half, I’ve met firefighters in Idaho, California, Colorado and New Mexico who work day and night to keep people safe, all while fires are becoming more intense and difficult to control due to climate change, dangerous fuel buildup in our forests, and evolving land development patterns.
Firefighters can spend months away from loved ones, working bravely to save lives, homes, schools, businesses, natural resources and wilderness areas. In addition to fighting fires, these dedicated women and men also work year-round to protect us from wildfires before they begin doing the critical fuel management work needed to reduce the potential for catastrophic fires. This work is very difficult and dangerous.
That’s why my administration continues to make supporting this workforce a top priority. Building on what I started last year, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act has allowed historic new initiatives and resources for prairie firefighters that we are now implementing. This includes a significant pay increase, new programs to support the mental and physical health of prairie firefighters, and the creation of a prairie firefighter job chain that will improve employment, retention, and career growth opportunities.
We are also building our firefighting workforce, including converting more temporary firefighting jobs into permanent jobs. We also support our brave firefighters by doing everything we can to help reduce catastrophic fire risks, including proposing a nearly 60 percent increase in hazardous fuel management funds in my FY2023 budget request, and investing another $2.5 billion in this Work over the next five years through the bipartisan infrastructure law.
National Prairie Firefighters Day will occur annually during the previously established Prairie Fire Week. I have attended many memorial services for the dead, including for nearly nine years today, *A tribute to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona. They were among the strongest, most disciplined, stubborn, and physically fit firefighters in the world. Therefore, this week we will also look at fallen firefighters in the line of duty and renew our commitment to the safety of firefighters in the wilds. We pause to remember and commemorate their selfless service and thank loved ones for their many service and sacrifice.
God bless the firefighters and their families across our nation.
*Link to coverage of the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Service added by Wildfire Today.