O northern hemisphere summer has punished the countries at the top of the map, especially the United States and Canada. In Uncle Sam's land, forest fires are more intense and numerous than usual, which causes a serious problem of shortages of firefighters to control a large number of fires happening at the same time.

To date, fires have burned the equivalent of 1,25 million football fields in 2021 alone, largely due to widespread drought that hits the US. This represents an increase of more than 119% compared to the same period in 2020. However, the shortage of firefighters is not just due to the increase in workload.

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a lot of work, little money

Firefighters putting out a forest fire
Low wages and increased workload are making few people want to work fighting forest fires. Credit: Inglis Blaine/Pixnio

According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the low wages for seasonal work also in firefighting have meant that fewer and fewer people are interested in acting as federal firefighters in the Forest Service from United States. This is a concern of the agency, since the number of forest fires is expected to increase due to climate changes.

The situation has become so serious that several former firefighters have been invited by the Forest Service to return to work this year. Some said they would consider the invitation, but others, who joined state agencies in firefighting forces, ended up declining the invitation because, they said, they were earning more money in more stable work.

California inmates

Today, part of firefighting, particularly in the state of California, which has been particularly affected by drought and fires, uses the labor of inmates, who are paid extremely low wages for hazardous work, and cannot continue like firefighters after they've served their sentences.

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Next year, California's prison fire-fighting program will be phased out, which has caused great concern for the Forest Service, which still doesn't know how to make up for the sudden drop in personnel. According to experts heard by WSJ, the best option is to pay better salaries to firefighters for their work, which is not only essential but also dangerous.

With information The Wall Street Journal

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