Lewis W. Diuguid

Unfairness in death from fighting wildfires hurts families

Updated: 2013-08-20T22:55:51Z

By Lewis W. Diuguid

The Kansas City Star

Global warming appears to be causing more wildfires in the United States, attracting young people to fight the deadly blazes.

The New York Times reports that so far this year 26 wildland firefighters have been killed. But the paper also has found that the surviving families are learning that the firefighters aren’t being treated equally in death.

Some families have been turned down for federal benefits under a government program for survivors of first responders killed on the job. First responders who work for contract outfits apparently don’t qualify even though they work side-by-side with government workers putting out wildfires.

Contract firefighters end up saving taxpayers a lot of money, but families of those injured and killed have to absorb the pain of the loss and the cost in lost benefits. The difference can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It is going to become even more of a problem as more forest and wildfires erupt because of global warming and continuing dry conditions.

To reach Lewis W. Diuguid, call 816-234-4723 or send email to ldiuguid@kcstar.com.

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