Bill Would Double Pay for Guard Members Fighting Wildfires

National Guard members called in to help fight wildfires will get a raise if lawmakers in Olympia OK new legislation.  Dan Frizzell from the
Washington State House Democratic Caucus has that story.

If wildfires are the new normal in the Evergreen State, so too are increasingly frequent deployments of National Guard members to fight those fires alongside professional firefighters. But thanks to a decades-old quirk in state law, their pay for that duty is tied to the federal minimum wage.  That’s a whopping seven dollars and 25 cents an hour currently, less than half of Washington’s minimum wage and far less than the firefighters they’re working with.  State Representative Mari Leavitt, a freshman Democrat from University Place, happens to have Camp Murray, the state’s National Guard headquarters, smack in the center of her district. She chose to make her first bill as a lawmaker one that corrects this imbalance.

LEAVITT: “Our National Guard members are folks just like you and I, and when they’re called for duty they answer that call, but we’ve been letting them down.  They’re paid less than state firefighters, and they’re paid less than our fast-food workers for doing difficult, dangerous emergency response work.”

Leavitt’s House Bill 1137 directs the state to pay Guard members fighting wildfires the going rate set by the Department of Natural Resources, or the state’s minimum wage of $15 an hour, whichever is greater.  In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.