The 19 firefighters who were killed during an intense wildfire in Arizona earlier this summer were hailed as heroes, but their surviving family members say they're not receiving the benefits they're entitled to because the elite crew was a seasonal squad. Now, a state legislator is pushing hard to provide full-time survivors' benefits to the families, the Prescott Daily Courier reports.
Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin is drafting legislation that would grant full-time state employee benefits to any worker who dies on state lands, and if passed it would apply retroactively to the firefighters killed battling the blaze. The move is the only logical choice, Tobin says.
"To be putting your life on the line for part-time survivor benefits is not what I consider appropriate when people are defending the citizens of Arizona, particularly on state land," he told the newspaper.
The controversy was raised earlier this week when the widow of one of those killed brought the discrepancy to everyone's attention. Juliann Ashcraft, the wife of deceased firefighter Andrew Ashcraft, maintains her husband was a full-time employee and is entitled to the lifetime benefits, CBS News reports.