PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Some relief could be coming as crews battle wildfires across the state. The federal government is pushing to get its crews more money in raises and full-time shifts. This comes as fires in western states, including Arizona, continue to rage among drought conditions and during record heat.
Firefighters in Arizona hope that means more help for them as they fight wildfires. "It just seems that there's never enough when you fight these devastating fires," said Richard Ochs, Assistant Chief at Superstition Fire and Medical. "The national forest, a lot of it closed in Arizona, and that's because we're largely out of resources. If more fires start, it's going to be hard to find available firefighters to move in that direction."
President Joe Biden wants to increase the pay for federal firefighters. He called the $13/hour some of them make "ridiculously low."
This comes as members of congress hope to convert at least 1,000 seasonal wildland firefighters to year-round workers. The plan is to have those federal firefighters remove brush and hazardous fuels when they are not fighting fires.
"They may reduce the opportunity for a fire to even start, but when fires do start, they can be far less devastating," said Ochs.
Phoenix Battalion Chief Wil Gartin welcomes the potential for more help. "I think that will give us added horse power, man power, whatever you want to call it," said Gartin.
"I think the world has seen some devastating fires, especially here in the western states, so there's definitely a need," said Ochs.
The Forest Service and Department of Interior combined employ about 15,000 firefighters.