The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it will raise pay for federal firefighters to at least $15 per hour as part of a broader strategy to respond to wildfires.

A senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday that the raise will come through bonuses in 2021 so that the pay for firefighters rises to the equivalent of $15 per hour. 

A White House fact sheet said that in addition to the raise, firefighters who work on the front lines and are paid at a certain level can get up to a 10 percent retention incentive.

The fact sheet added that temporary workers who commit to continuing this season will receive a $1,000 award. 

The Interior Department will also hire 210 new firefighting employees and convert 575 from seasonal to full time employees this fiscal year. 

The Biden administration will also prepare for wildfire impacts to the power grid and improve emergency capabilities to respond to grid or electric equipment failure or power shutoff, the official said.

The announcements are set to come as President Biden and Vice President Harris meet virtually with Western governors and private sector partners on Wednesday. They also come as Western states are preparing for what’s expected to be a major wildfire season. 

The official said that since wildfires are becoming more of a year-round issue as climate change worsens, the administration will accelerate its plans to shift to a more permanent workforce. It’ll extend seasonal hiring, hire more firefighters and equip more federal employees and military personnel to be ready for wildfires. 

The administration will also aim to improve early detection using new technology and develop new apps, maps and other resources to provide information to people. 

The firefighter pay increase comes days after Biden vowed to raise pay for federal firefighters, calling the current $13 an hour pay a “ridiculously low salary.”  

Updated 11:41 a.m.

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