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(40,366 posts)
Fri Jul 6, 2012, 02:30 PM Jul 2012

The firefighters trying to save Colorado homes don't have health insurance


Wed Jun 27, 2012 at 09:00 AM PDT.

The firefighters trying to save Colorado homes don't have health insurance

by Joan McCarterFollow .

While Colorado goes up in flames, and the Republican wing of the Supreme Court writes the dismantling of Obamacare, the men and women hired by the federal government to fight wildfire are risking life and limb. Many of them are doing it without health insurance.

Of all the jobs where you might want health insurance, firefighting near certainly ranks near the top of the list. Firefighters spend two-week shifts working 18 hour days in dangerous conditions. Some develop breathing problems due to smoke inhalation.
But many federal firefighters are temporary employees, who only work six months out of the year. [...] Under federal regulations, temporary employees of the Forest Service do not receive benefits. That means no health care and no retirement pension.

“A lot of them are not making a lot,” says Bill Dougan, president of the National Federal of Federal Employees. “The only way they can afford insurance is if they have a spouse that might be able to get coverage under an employer. In some places that’s not an option.”
This is the status quo Republicans have been fighting for for the past two years. If the Affordable Care Act survives the Supreme Court Republican five tomorrow, it could help. Many of the firefighters make little enough to qualify for the subsidies to purchase insurance, making the premiums in reach. They'd also be guaranteed access to affordable health insurance, something that can be a problem for people in high-risk jobs.
If the Supreme Court five make the ACA go away tomorrow, nothing changes for these wildfire fighters in the immediate term, but they'll be denied those near-future benefits and the hope that they could continue to do this critical job and protect themselves a little bit. Their hopes go up in smoke, and Republicans will cheer.

Please sign this petition demanding that Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduce legislation to make these and other wildfire fighters eligible for federal health insurance.


To Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

It is outrageous that firefighters battling the blazes in Colorado and around the country are not eligible for federal health insurance. Pass legislation to rectify this immediately.
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(3,894 posts)
1. This article gives the impression of firefighters "risking life and limb" while not being covered,
Fri Jul 6, 2012, 02:36 PM
Jul 2012

which is a bit incorrect. While on the job, they are covered by workmens' comp. And since this work is seasonal, temporary, part-time, etc. I'm not sure very many are employed long enough to get insurance (based on the idea that at standard biz's these days, only full time employees, if any, and only after 90days to 6 months of continuous employment).

Anyway, the point being that should they be injured on the job of firefighter, they are in fact covered. However if they get a cold or get hurt otherwise outside of their firefighting, they are not.



(15,189 posts)
3. But they are ready at a minutes notice
Fri Jul 6, 2012, 02:41 PM
Jul 2012

That should account for something. And we need healthy workers for those jobs. They like the military, should have the best insurance. We all deserve the best, but till then, they should get 100% coverage all the time.



(3,894 posts)
6. I totally agree that they sould be during their service covered by the VA, totally.
Fri Jul 6, 2012, 03:55 PM
Jul 2012

I just wanted to clarify that they aren't being asked to risk life and limb, wherein if life or limb during service are harmed they would be left to their own devices. That type of health need would be covered by workmens comp.



(3,894 posts)
8. Well, that's a whole 'nother issue, but should still be workmens comp, though we are
Fri Jul 6, 2012, 04:01 PM
Jul 2012

finding post 9-11 that our gov't sucks at honoring such. Perhaps a solution, sort of hinted at above, give them long term VA access.

Omaha Steve

(99,556 posts)
5. Hire them year round 6 months firefighting 6 months cooking in a soup kitchen etc
Fri Jul 6, 2012, 03:51 PM
Jul 2012

Problem solved. They earn the benefits!

I posted about this before. Another post can't hurt.


This firefighter lost his life. He grew up just a short distance from our house.

Bellevue East grad who died fighting wildfire loved his work


It is a dangerous job!!!




(15,189 posts)
2. Service is service
Fri Jul 6, 2012, 02:38 PM
Jul 2012

Cops and firefighters should get some kind of veterans benefit. If it keeps going like this, nobody is going to want to fight fires, or maybe get killed doing their job. They should have public workers benefits that can't be voted away.


(53,061 posts)
7. I can confirm that these fire fighters have little coverage and are not well paid.
Fri Jul 6, 2012, 03:55 PM
Jul 2012

Many keep doing it year after year hoping to get permanent positions which will give them more stability but not much pay. Those that live near urban areas and have to pay higher rent are living just above the poverty line.
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