EDMONTON – Some crews hired to battle forest fires will now have to pay room and board at the base camps where they’re lodged. The province has decided to charge the fire crews $300 a month for a bed and $5 a day for food, but the fees will only be applied when the firefighters are in base camp.
Rob Harris, with Sustainable Resources, says they wanted to make it fair for all fire staff, since some live in their home communities during the fire season and have to pay their own way, while others live for free in the camps.
“It creates an inequity between staff,” he said.
Harris says longer-term employees tend to be the ones who work from base camp, and that the more than 2,000 seasonal firefighters will still have their food and lodging paid for.
The Alberta Union of Public Employees says the extra cost will lead to fewer people willing to take the jobs.
But Harris says the job pays well and has always been in demand.
“The wages can top anywhere over $30,000 for a four-month period,” he said. “Needless to say, these are pretty sought-after jobs. We get lots of applications every year.
“For example, last year our type-one positions, we advertised 233 of them and we had close to 700 applications.”