Forest Service Firefighter Testifies Before Congress About Harassment

A wildland firefighter with the US Forest Service testified before Congress last week about what she considered to be pervasive sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the federal agencies that manage public lands.

Denice Rice, a Fire Prevention Technician for the Forest Service with over 20 years of experience, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about being repeatedly sexually harassed and ultimately assaulted by a supervisor who she characterized as a “predator”.

Rice has worked in the Eldorado National Forest in California for the past 15 years. She told the house panel that women who complain are often retaliated against. “I filed a complaint and the instant I filed everything changed. Management removed all of my supervisory responsibilities, moved me from my location, and isolated me.”

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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