California firefighters get shorter work weeks, but not for 2 years

Firefighters battling the Peter Fire near Anderson spray water on structures that burned in the 19000 block of Spring Gulch Road on Thursday, July 14, 2022.

A new contract for California state firefighters includes immediate pay increases but delays shorter workweeks by two years to alleviate work-related stress.

Cal Fire firefighters say overwork and the anguish of an ongoing barrage of wildfires have left them with escalating mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder. In an interview earlier this year with CalMatters, Cal Fire Chief Joe Tyler said the department was facing a mental health crisis and listed it as his top priority.

A CalMatters research in June revealed widespread fatigue and trauma at the state’s firefighting agency, Cal Fire, and firefighters described an epidemic of suicides and suicidal thoughts.

Experts say the stress of long hours and dangerous work triggers health problems, binge drinking, drug use and marital discord. Cal Fire does not track suicides or PTSD among its ranks, but many firefighters and their supervisors told CalMatters that the problems are rampant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *