An Analysis of “24-Hour Pay” for Forest Fire Suppression Personnel

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This study estimates the overall percentage difference in total personnel compensation between the current pay system for forest fire suppression and a system of 24-hour pay, where employees are paid their regular rate of pay for 24 hours per day while on fire duty. Using a random sample of USDA Forest Service employees, divided among fire types, pay grades, and job types, we simulated the effect of 24-hour pay by recalculating pay from actual pay records. We also investigated how changes in shift length (the number of hours worked in a 24-hour period) and hazard pay rates would affect compensation and how changing the pay system would affect different types of employees. Findings show that changing to a system of 24-hour pay would result in a substantial increase in salary costs. Restricting shift length to 12 or 14 hours further increases salary costs under 24-hour pay, as does the addition of hazard pay. In addition, increased employee compensation under 24-hour pay is unevenly distributed among job categories and pay grades. West. J. Appl. For. 17(4):183–188.

Keywords: Firefighter pay; environmental management; forest; forest fire suppression; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; pay systems

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula, MT, 59807,

Publication date: October 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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