Pay Uncertain For Hotshot Crews Battling Wildfires During Government Shutdown
SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — The elite firefighting crews known as “hotshots” who fight wildfires across the country are continuing to work despite uncertainty surrounding their pay during the government shutdown.
Managers with the Del Rosa Hotshots crew based in San Bernardino declined to speak to KCAL9’s Crystal Cruz, referring her to a local press spokesperson with the U.S. Forest Service.
Calls to the spokesperson were sent to a voicemail recording: “I am not in the office at this time. I am on furlough.”
Attempts to reach the agency’s Washington, D.C. office by phone and email were met with the same automatic reply.
However, Leo Kay, Director of Communication for the U.S. Forest Service, issued the following statement Wednesday about whether hotshots would be paid for work during a furlough:
“Agencies will incur obligations to pay for services performed by excepted employees during a lapse in appropriations, and those employees will be paid after Congress passes and the President signs a new appropriation or continuing resolution.”
The United States Office of Personnel Management also has information about shutdown furloughs online.
KCAL9 contacted several hot shot crews around the Southland, but no one would consent to an interview.
In a statement, William R. Dougan, President of the National Federation of Federal Employees said federal employees have endured enough cuts to wages and benefits already.
The statement reads in part:
“Federal employees have already endured three years of frozen pay, cuts to retirement benefits and over a week of unpaid furlough days. They have given more than their fair share. Even more furloughs under this shutdown will be the straw that broke the camel’s back.”