What most people don’t realize about these “elite” firefighting crews is that approximately 75 percent of the crew is made up of temporary workers. Until last year, when a hotshot crew and the National Federation of Federal Employees worked together and got them health benefits, they got no benefits for this dangerous work.
Although there are a few of these crews that are together for most of the year, the majority of them have a 120-day season, and are at the GS-4 ($13.41 an hour) or GS-5 ($15 an hour) level. These crews average 1,000 to 1,200 hours of overtime in this 120-day period.
Normally, the leadership of these crews (five or six positions) is very experienced and well-trained. The rest of the crew is made up of a varied number of what we call long-term temps that return year after year because this is what they love. The rest are often college kids that stick around for three or four years. These crews experience more fires in a season than most permanent district firefighters see in five years.
These are not high-paid government workers. Give them permanent seasonal jobs.