As wildfires, fueled by human-caused climate change, have grown more extreme, so has the burden on the wildland firefighters, and it’s pushing many out of the job they love, Thomson Reuters reports. “The seasons are longer, and we’re not being treated any better,” Brian Campbell, veteran of nearly two decades of firefighting for the U.S. Forest Service said. Donovan Lee, a 22-year veteran who quit last year agreed. “Every year for the last five years, it’s getting worse and worse,” he told Thomson Reuters, adding, “You make more money at McDonalds.”

Low pay and benefits are a major driver of shortages. (President Biden raised the minimum wage for federal firefighters to $15 per hour, still less than the typical salary of a local firefighter, less than a month ago.)

One-fifth of federal firefighting jobs are vacant, leaving firefighters to work overtime in increasingly-dangerous heat made worse by climate change. “If they pay more, firefighters wouldn’t need to be working overtime to get a livable wage,” said Kelly Martin, president of the advocacy group Grassroots Wildland Firefighters. “In a perverted way we’ve monetized risk taking.” (Thomson Reuters Foundation)