Today, on the first annual National Wildland Firefighters Day, I join Americans across the country in expressing my deep gratitude to our wildland firefighters who heroically protect our communities and natural resources from wildfires. .
Recognizing their service and sacrifice on this day is especially important as we continue to ask more of them year after year. Over the past year and a half, I’ve met firefighters in Idaho, California, Colorado and New Mexico who are working day and night to keep people safe as fires get bigger. , more intense and more difficult to control because of climate change, the accumulation of dangerous fuels in our forests and the evolution of land use patterns.
Firefighters can spend months away from loved ones, working bravely to save lives, homes, schools, businesses, natural resources and wilderness areas. Beyond firefighting, these dedicated women and men also work year-round to protect us from wildfires before they start by doing the important fuel management work needed to reduce the likelihood of fires. catastrophic fire. This work is hard and extremely dangerous.
That’s why my administration continues to make supporting this workforce a top priority. Building on what I initiated last year, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act has authorized new initiatives and historic resources for wildland firefighters that we are now implementing. This includes a substantial salary increase, new programs to support the mental and physical health of wildland firefighters, and the creation of a suite of wildland firefighter jobs that will improve recruitment, retention and career growth opportunities.
We are also strengthening our firefighter workforce, including converting more temporary firefighter positions into permanent jobs. And we’re further supporting our brave firefighters by doing all we can to help reduce the risk of catastrophic fires, including proposing a nearly 60% increase in hazardous fuels management funds in my budget request for the fiscal year 2023, and investing an additional $2.5 billion in this work over the next five years through my bipartisan infrastructure act.
National Wildland Firefighters Day will take place each year during the previously established Wildland Firefighters Remembrance Week. I’ve attended too many memorial services for the dead, including almost nine years to the day honoring 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters who died battling the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona. They were among the strongest, most disciplined, tenacious and physically fit firefighters in the world. So this week we will also reflect on firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty and renew our commitment to wildland firefighter safety. We pause to remember them, commemorate their selfless service, and thank their loved ones for their service and many sacrifices.
God bless the firefighters and their families across our nation.