Central San Joaquin Valley officials with the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service are waiting for guidance about how a federal civilian hiring freeze will play out for temporary and on-call firefighters.
President Donald Trump ordered the wide-ranging freeze shortly after he was sworn in as president in January. For now, officials at Sierra National Forest and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are not sure what it will mean and directed questions about the freeze to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Mike Theune, a spokesman at Sequoia-Kings Canyon, said the park usually hires 25 to 40 seasonal firefighters, depending upon the type of seasonal work the park is planning. In addition to fighting fires, firefighters also conduct prescribed burns.
Alex Olow, a public affairs assistant with the Sierra National Forest, also said officials at the site were awaiting directions from Washington. He did not know how many firefighters the agency usually hires.
Firefighters awaiting news on whether they will be hired did receive a hopeful sign Tuesday night, when the personnel management office issued a paper that excluded “seasonal employees and short-term temporary employees” necessary to meet traditionally recurring seasonal workloads, if the federal Office of Management and Budget received advance notice.
But neither Theune nor Olow could say for certain what that would mean locally.