Firefighting careers in California often start with a job as a seasonal wildland firefighter.
The position comes with hard work, difficult conditions and lots of overtime for up to nine months per year. But it lacks the labor protections afforded to full-time, year-round firefighters.
That means employees can work for the state for years only to lose their job over a minor infraction or a misunderstanding, said Tim Edwards, president of Cal Fire Local 2881, the union that represents state firefighters. “They’re full-time firefighters, and unfortunately in the state system they’re still considered at-will employees,” Edwards said.
The union is pushing for a change this year with Senate Bill 206, introduced by Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg. The bill would give seasonal firefighters the same disciplinary rights to which permanent firefighters are entitled under state law.