15,000 Federal Firefighters Could See a Compensation Boost

Sep 25, 2017


A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to boost compensation for federal firefighters. They call the current pay sphere an “injustice.”

Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) introduced The Federal Firefighter Pay Equity Act (H.R. 3733). It would require the government to incorporate federal firefighters mandatory overtime hours into the calculation of their retirement benefits accruals.

The 15,000 federal firefights currently work a 72-hour workweek, 19 of those hours are considered mandatory overtime. They are paid time and a half for those hours, however, the government calculates their retirement pay as if all 72 hours are regular work time.

These lawmakers hope their bill seeks to bring federal policy in line with the rules governing the compensation of state and local firefighters—their mandatory overtime hours are compensated more generously in retirement benefit calculations.

“These courageous men and women work grueling hours in the most difficult of circumstances. It is our absolute responsibility to provide them with a retirement worthy of the sacrifices they have made in service to the United States,” Connolly said.

Walorski said, “The Federal Firefighter Pay Equity Act will ensure these first responders get the full compensation and benefits they deserve.”

The general president of the International Association of Firefighters, Harold Schaitberger praised the bill. “I greatly appreciate Reps. Connolly and Walorski’s continuing support for federal firefighters and the issues surrounding fair calculations of their earned retirement benefits,” he said.

J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees said it’s “unacceptable” federal firefighters receive less retirement than they deserve due to the current rules surrounding mandatory overtime. “This legislation would correct the situation that has resulted in federal firefighters receiving fewer retirement benefits than they are owed. Federal firefighters work in dangerous and extreme conditions, and as such, they deserve to receive credit for all of the hours they work—not a partial compensation based on fuzzy math,” he said.

Connolly introduced a similar bill in 2016, but it did not receive a hearing.

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