Some of the families of 19 firefighters who died in the line of duty in Prescott, AZ are being denied benefits they thought they would be getting. Is the City of Prescott to blame, or did the Fire Service fail them? Read on…
Only one member of the 20-person Hotshot crew survived the blaze, and the families of the 19 victims were promised a half-million dollars or more in government benefits and private donations. The city promised all families a one-time payment of $328,618 and lifetime survivor benefits.
But now the city of Prescott is retracting its promise, claiming that 13 of the deceased firefighters were seasonal employees, thus making their families ineligible for survivor benefits – including health insurance, a life insurance payment, and monthly lifetime survivor benefits that could amount to several million dollars in the long run.
This entire situation is bad news. The loss of 19 firefighters…Husbands, Fathers, Brothers, Uncles, Sons, Friends lost while fighting a wildland fire in Prescott, Arizona.
Now, some of their families are fighting for benefits they thought they would get after losing a loved one.
If you have been a firefighter for any length of time, you should know by now that our benefits (local/State/Federal) aren’t simply handed out. They are fought for. We fight for them. We lobby legislators, have Political Action, and labor unions who fight for our rights and benefits. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.
Is it our fault, the fire service in general, for allowing this to happen?
I know what you are saying “Why should we have to fight for proper benefits in a dangerous job?” I agree. We shouldn’t have to. We should be given proper benefits, and some of us are blessed with localities who do offer proper benefits, but not all of us.
Specifically in this case, is it our fault that “seasonal” firefighters aren’t entitled to the same benefits of the “Full-Time/Non-Seasonal” counterparts? After all, the 19 member crew were all performing at the same level on this fire. Ultimately, they all gave their lives doing a dangerous job. That same job that most simply don’t understand.
Firefighters understand DTRT (Do the Right Thing). I am sure we can all collectively agree that the officials in Prescott, AZ should indeed Do The Right Thing and pay the benefits. I am certain that fiscally it may not be quite that easy. However, the run-around that the families seem to be getting doesn’t seem fair at all either.
Deborah Pfingston, the mother of deceased firefighter Andrew Ashcraft, told AP that city officials initially promised to retroactively reclassify the seasonal, temporary employees as permanent ones, in order to be able to provide the survivor benefits. But now, the same city officials claim they cannot posthumously reclassify the deceased men. (source RT.com)
At the very least, we need to make sure that this cannot happen to our families. Check out the benefits your family would get if you died in the line of duty. If they aren’t what you think they should be, or worse…what you thought they were, you need to fight for the benefits your family deserves. No one else is going to fight for us, except for us.
A note to the Officials in Prescott, AZ…
You may know these men, you may not. Prior to their death, they may have simply been just another employee to you.
I assure you they were more than that. I did not know them, but they were my Brothers. I know my Brothers, and we are a breed all our own. Much like our Police and EMS Counterparts, we are public servants who provide public safety. Those words are easy to read, our job is much more difficult and dangerous.
I don’t need to explain what firefighters do. You all have just witnessed what we are willing to do. 19 of my Brothers died protecting your citizens. They died. They don’t get to tuck their kids into bed anymore, and their wives won’t get to hug them when they get home. They didn’t get to go home.
It is not your fault they died. It is no ones fault. But they are gone.
Do The Right Thing. Make things right as you said you would when this happened.
They deserve it. Their Families deserve it. It is a small price to pay for the Ultimate Sacrifice they made.