Sedona AZ (February 7, 2017) – U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today issued the following statement after receiving assurances from the Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that seasonal firefighters will be exempt from the federal hiring freeze:
“Securing this commitment to exempt seasonal firefighters from the federal hiring freeze is a big win for Arizona. I would like to thank the administration for their cooperation in ensuring that Arizona will have the manpower to combat catastrophic wildfires that pose a significant risk to our state’s reliable water supply, rural communities, and wildlife.”
Today Flake received the following response from USDA to his recent letter urging the department to use its authority to ensure its continued ability to fight wildfires following the implementation of a hiring freeze on federal civilian employees:
“USDA Acting Deputy Secretary, Michael Young, has exempted several critical public safety related positions from the Presidential Executive Order Hiring Freeze to ensure a safe food supply, fire-safe communities, safe and secure public lands, and rapid emergency response to natural and human-caused disasters. USDA and its sub-Agencies will implement these exemptions.”
On January 23, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum ordering a hiring freeze on all civilian employees across the executive branch. The memorandum included an exemption for military personnel, while also providing federal agencies and departments the authority to exempt certain positions that are necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities. Read the order here.
The U.S. Forest Service, an agency at the USDA, typically utilizes nearly 10,000 seasonal employees each year for wildfire-related activities.