State Senator Mike McGuire took to the steps of the State Capitol this afternoon to call attention to the firefighter shortage that is “threatening the lives and mental health of firefighters” across California.
“Fire season is here,” McGuire said. “…Experts believe that this year’s wildfire season could be one of the most hellacious on record brought on by the worst drought California and the western United States have seen in 12 centuries and the alarm couldn’t be louder: It’s time to fix the CalFire firefighter shortage. Ignoring this crisis makes our communities less fire safe and it puts the health and safety of CalFire firefighters at risk.”
SB 1062, also known as the Fixing the Firefighter Shortage Act of 2022, would immediately add 1,124 CalFire firefighter positions and advance a long-term staffing plan to confront the “new mega fire reality that we all live in.” Three CalFire firefighters per engine would become the new mandated minimum under the proposed legislation. It would also mandate an additional 16 crews of 48 firefighters each to provide on-the-ground support during fire prevention projects and controlled burns.
“I think we can all agree that our state is facing unprecedented destructive wildfires,” McGuire said. “…This severe shortage it’s putting the health and safety of firefighters at risk due to staff shortages. CalFire firefighters are working long overtime hours. Many times they are deployed 40 to 60 days in a row without a single day off. …The women and men who are the heart of CalFire would never say this out loud but they’re at their breaking point.”
State Senator Susan Rubio called upon fellow legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom to “step up and take care” of California’s firefighters. “I’m here proudly standing as a co-author of this measure to ensure that we put more firefighters on the beat to ensure that these fathers and mothers get to go home to their families, not only often but safely.”
CalFire captain Liz Brown likened California’s increasingly destructive fire seasons to a war zone. “We’re at war every summer,” she said. “You would never want your son or daughter or child to ever to be sent into a war zone without adequate staffing, equipment and resources. That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? That is exactly what we have done for too many years to count.”
More information on SB 1062 can be found here.