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California faces firefighter shortage


PETALUMA, Calif. - As Canadian forces continue to battle out-of-control fires to the north, California's fire season here is underway. 

As fire departments prepare, they’re finding a shortage of recruits willing to put their lives on the line for little more than minimum wage.

Sen. Alex Padilla is one of many advocates who want higher pay and protections for federal firefighters, many who start at $12 to $15 an hour. 

CalFire firefighters start at $20 an hour. 

That's simply not enough to make ends meet, said Steve Guiterez, a former firefighter who represents federal workers.

He said a temporary increase in pay expires Sept. 30, but this bipartisan issue needs to be made permanent.

 Otherwise, 11,000 federal firefighters will have to take a $20,000 cut in pay.

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