After it was revealed that there was a large discrepancy between the survivor benefits for the families of full time and temporary firefighters on the Granite Mountain Hotshots, some members of Arizona’s legislature have been considering what, if any, action should be taken for the families of the 19 firefighters that were killed June 30 on the Yarnell Hill Fire, and for future fatalities.
A committee in the state’s House of Representatives is taking up the issue today. Alia Rau, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, will be live tweeting about the hearing Tuesday afternoon. You can follow her at @aliarau.
According to AZCentral, the bills the legislature is considering could cover an array of issues, including:
- Who reimburses fire departments that helped fight the Yarnell Hill Fire.
- Who helps pay for Yarnell infrastructure repairs.
- Who pays death benefits in wildfire situations.
- Whether seasonal first responders can participate in state retirement systems.
- Whether there is a way to retroactively provide benefits to the 13 seasonal hotshots.
“Before the Yarnell fire, nobody thought we were doing anything wrong. We didn’t hear fire coming in saying ‘Our hotshots aren’t covered if something happens.’ We didn’t have cities saying, ‘If something happens, we’ll be in deep trouble,’ ” House Speaker Andy Tobin said. “This has been a punch in the gut. Now it’s time to talk about what we’ve learned from it and what our policy should be going forward.”