Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently signed an executive order intended to provide state employees that also serve as volunteer firefighters in their communities up to five days of paid leave while fighting wildfires throughout the state. Executive Order D 2022 036 states the following:
Climate change is increasing the frequency, severity, and intensity of forest fires in Colorado. Fire season has become a year-round occurrence. As such, we need to maximize all of the State’s resources to combat wildfires to protect lives, homes, and properties. Volunteer firefighters and first responders provide critical support to suppress forest and grassland fires, and assist people during fire emergencies. As many as 70% of Colorado’s firefighters are volunteers. The volunteer firefighters and first responders face the same expectations as their career counterparts, including responding at all hours of the day and night, over long distances, and experiencing the same impacts on their physical and mental health as full-time firefighters and first responders. On top of those experiences and duties, volunteer firefighters and first responders usually maintain employment outside of their volunteer duties.
To ensure we continue to encourage Coloradoans to engage in this critical volunteer work, it is important that employers including the State of Colorado support employees who volunteer and take time away from their employment to help with fire mitigation and suppression.
The paid leave is only available when the volunteer firefighter is engaged in an “active formal volunteer fire response” and is not available for training or any fire response where the firefighter receives compensation. Click here for more on the story from KRDO News 13.