As wildfires burn in New Mexico, US faces firefighter labor shortage


As wildfires burn in New Mexico, US faces firefighter labor shortage

  • With a busy start to the fire season in the Southwest, federal officials are rushing to hire about 16,900 fire personnel.
  • Hiring firefighting personnel has proven tough in a tight labor market.
  • Meanwhile, U.S. spending on wildfire suppression has steadily risen in recent decades. It reached a record-setting $4.38 billion in 2021.

SALEM, Ore. – The United States government has committed a record-setting amount of money to fighting wildfires this year during what promises to be a busy season, but it remains unclear whether the number of firefighters needed will be available amid a nationwide labor crunch.

With a busy start to the fire season in the Southwest and drought fueling high wildfire danger from the Great Plains to Northern California, federal officials are scrambling to hire roughly 16,900 fire personnel that include hotshots, smokejumpers and helitack crews, which are groups of firefighters that are flown in on helicopters to wildfires.



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