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U.S. Firefighters Bill Clears House

February 01, 2001|MATT SURMAN

A bill sponsored by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) seeking to raise the retirement age for federal firefighters by two years received unanimous approval in the House of Representatives this week, the first bill passed in the new congressional session.

The legislation calls for raising the retirement age for federal firefighters from 55 to 57, in line with the age limit for federal law enforcement officers. Gallegly characterized the issue as one of fairness and public safety that could keep skilled firefighters on the line longer.

"We must act now to ensure we have the experienced personnel needed to fight our nation's fires, and be prepared to respond to future critical situations." Gallegly said on the House floor Tuesday.

The current retirement age was set during a time of high unemployment. With a tight federal work force and the many years of training required for senior positions, the legislation makes sense, Gallegly spokesman Tom Pfeifer said.

Firefighters are now allowed to retire between 50 and 55, at which point they must retire. The new bill would give them the option to work two additional years.

According to the congressman's office, the bill would save the government about $4 million over five years.

California is home to the most federal firefighters in the country.

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