1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Penn Valley, Ca

    Default What's This About The Feds Being Short This Year

    In the other thread I noticed a comment that the Feds might be short staffing this season to "save money"...of course we all know exactly how that always goes. This was the first I had heard of it. What resources are going to be affected, Northern California in particular, engines, crews, helitack, tankers? And any guesses on how long till a big fire comes along and makes them change their tune


  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2004


    A good chunk of our budget got diverted to other things, it is typical for fire to pay way more than our fair share of the office space, computers, admin etc, this year seems to have moved a little more than usual. The national fire preparedness budget (the budget that pays to have crews standing by, the suppression budget is what pays to fight the fires) for the USFS was $666 million, only a little more than $400 million is actually making to the ground. The ironic part is our budget is a little bigger than last year but less money is actually getting to the field.

    Once the season starts many employees get funded by severity out of the suppression budget, how much is never known though, this year the managers are being told under no circumstances to go over budget, in the past deficeit spending was ok to a point. So since many forests have no way of knowing how much they really have are choosing to staff 5 days a week instead of 7 days, many of these forests are in Southern California. Personally I think its because they have such large organizations, I'm on a medium sized forest and we are staffing 100% this year, I haven't heard anything about North Zone but I would guess they will be leaning on the 100% side as well, there is just not much to cut back without having a major impact of readiness.

    I know BLM is in a similar situation and is cutting at least 1 helitack crew and possibly some hotshot crews.

    My guess is that if the fire season proves to be a busy one the money will miraculosly appear and all will be normal.

    The Federal budget is a mess, there is always money its just a matter of finding which pot its hiding in.

  3. #3
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Ailz, isn't that the story? I put in plenty of applications, and not even a response from the Forest Service. The only government response I got was one offer (which was retracted shortly thereafter) by the Department of Lands over in Idaho. It's off to a contract crew in Northern California... they're nice people, and provided we get a decent season I'll probably earn more... but I would have preferred to work on a federal or state crew. The experience should help next year (plus the fact that I'll have the required driving experience to work on my state's crews).

    But yeah... the budget seems pretty misdirected this year. What was it... $100m for human resources? I mean... I guess coffee pots have a remote chance of putting out a spot fire if you get right on it... but I can't see how giving a bunch of pen pushers a nice new facility is helping our fire suppression.

    If we get a bad season this year, expect good funding next year. Funding always comes a year too late.

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