Firefighters battling wildfires and for higher pay

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While many state firefighters are battling wildfires, some are fighting for more money. (KFSN)

While many state firefighters are battling wildfires, some are fighting for more money.

"This is my dream job, I always wanted to be a fireman," said one Cal Fire seasonal firefighter.

The firefighter does not want to be identified but he told us he does want his concerns heard.

"The fact that we are getting paid the same as someone working at McDonalds-- that's insulting."

The union said entry level firefighters currently start off making minimum wage-- that's $10 an hour. Low pay, according to the union, is pushing some firefighters away.

"We have seasoned captains who are with our department for 10 or 15 years who are testing with other departments," said Mike Lopez, President of Cal Fire local 2881. "When you can go work for a city or county for a third less hours and make a third more money why would you stay?"

"The morale is very low right now with Cal Fire, and, yeah, they're all testing with other departments," said the firefighter.

The union said for the last year, its bargaining team has been meeting with the California Department of Human Resources to discuss ways to increase pay.

Action News reached out to Cal HR and was told, "The state is actively engaged in bargaining and looks forward to continued meaningful negotiations with our labor partners. Out of respect for the process, we do not comment on specific bargaining points or the status of negotiations."

But according to the union, the administration has not proposed anything it feels is acceptable. For that reason, representatives for the state's 6,500 Cal Fire firefighters plan to protest at the state capitol next Monday.

We also reached out to local legislatures but got no comment as well. One office though said it thinks it will be tough to get any politician, especially during wildfire season, to speak out against higher pay for fighters.
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