New Ad from Cal Fire Union Urges Governor to Hire More Firefighters

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SACRAMENTO -- A new ad from the union representing Cal Fire firefighters claims the state hasn't hired enough firefighters in its newest budget.

Cal Fire Local 2881 President Tim Edwards says the job of state firefighters has gotten more difficult over the past few years, with wildfires burning more intense than ever before.

"We wanted to start running the ads to get the public to be more vigilant clearing their property," Edwards said.

The 30-and-60-second spots are airing in Sacramento. Edwards says they are meant to be informative.

"We want them to take some time to be fire vigilant, to clear their property to help us out so we’re not out there for prolonged hours at a time and days," he told FOX40.

Edwards warns his union may start airing more aggressive ads attacking Gov. Gavin Newsom's budget if state firefighter staffing levels do not increase.

That budget put forward 13 additional engines, 131 new firefighter positions, new air tankers, helicopters and dozers.

Edwards says that's not enough.

"It doesn’t even bring us back to where we were in 1974 or the proper staffing on the current engines," he said.

Edwards says the state really needs 31 new engines and a thousand more firefighters to give the current 6,000 Cal Fire firefighters a break during the busy season.

"If you were out 30 days 15, 20 years ago that was unusual. But now, that’s the common," Edwards said. "Our members, our firefighters have been working 30-40-50-plus days over the last few years on the fire lines without being able to get home to see their families."

Edwards says all the time away from home has taken its toll on his members.

A spokesperson for the governor sent FOX40 the following statement in response to the ad:

Our state firefighters are everyday heroes and a valued part of the state workforce. The Governor has made historic investments in firefighting this year and looks forward to a constructive dialogue to ensure we have the proper staffing levels, training and most up to date equipment to protect Californians from the growing threat of wildfires.

FOX40 also reached out to Cal Fire about state firefighter staffing but did not get a response by Monday afternoon.

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