22 May 2008, 12:49am
Latest Fire News
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Staffing for fires worries senator

by Jason Pesick, Staff Writer, Redlands Daily Facts

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is concerned the U.S. Forest Service has too many firefighter vacancies heading into the fire season.

A letter to Feinstein from Mark Rey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary who oversees the Forest Service, shows that there are 363 vacancies in Southern California out of 4,432 positions.

Feinstein, D-Calif., said she is concerned that many of the vacancies are among midlevel firefighters.

“These are key fire leadership positions. Without them, some fire engines might sit idle just when they’re needed most. This is unacceptable. We simply cannot afford anything less than a fully staffed firefighting corps in California,” she said in a statement.

Casey Judd, business manager for the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, said that Rey, in his letter, backed off from an April 1 commitment to Feinstein that all positions would be staffed in time for the start of the state’s fire season.

“I want to reiterate that we feel … we have the resources to meet our firefighting mission this year,” said Jason Kirchner, a spokesman for the Forest Service’s California region. … [more]



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