(KRON) – “The human cost is being felt. Months without downtime, desperate calls for mental health, broken marriages and suicide.” said Cal Fire Captain Liz Brown. 

Brown joined state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle Wednesday to support legislation that will change how Cal Fire is staffed. They say while California’s population has doubled since the mid 70’s, Cal Fire hasn’t kept up.

“Cal Fire has the same amount, if not less fire engines and less personnel than we did in the 1970s,” said Pete Munoa of Cal Fire Union Local 2881. 

The legislation would add 356 full-time firefighters, so each engine could have 3 firefighters aboard. Right now the only way to achieve that is through mandatory overtime, which is taking its toll. 

“Many times they are deployed 40 to 60 days in a row without a single day off. And they’re deployed in incredibly traumatic conditions. And what we know working these long, 40 to 60 days in a row away from their families is leading to significant stress and mental health challenges among the calfire fire fighting force,’ said state Senator Mike McGuire, of North Bay. 

State Senator Brian Jones of San Diego said of the bill, “Senate bill 1062 will help save the lives of the men and women who helped save our lives.

More than 700 seasonal firefighters would also be added at a cost of more than $200 million a year, as well as a requirement that Cal Fire submit a staffing plan to the legislature so they can meet the demands of what has become a year-round fire season. Backers of the bill are hoping they can get it passed and signed by the governor in the next two weeks.