Gov. launches plan to hire veterans as firefighters

Posted at: 04/01/2013 12:26 PM
Updated at: 04/01/2013 1:00 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

As spring winds start up, Forest Service officials say severe drought is sending us into what will likely be a record-setting fire season.

Officials say this means we need more forces to fight fires. On Monday morning, Governor Susana Martinez launched an initiative to hire seasonal firefighters from the ranks of New Mexico war veterans.

They’ll be trained and paid $17.50 an hour. Governor Martinez said they plan to hire at least 40 New Mexico veterans to fill the roles.

“They're used to working as a team, they're used to working under command, chain of command,” Martinez said. “They’re hard working, can carry packs, they are used to the hard work and the heat, where they come from in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I think they are very skilled at learning quickly and under a lot of stress.”

She also signed legislation that allows counties to contract work out to companies with fire-fighting experience to save money in off-season, and legislation concerning retirement benefits for volunteer firefighters.