Slaves in America: Will Work for Food to Save Your Home
This is shocking:
Uninsured and fighting blazes: Welcome to the Life of a Federal Firefighter
Right now, wildfires of “epic proportions” are tearing through the Colorado forests.
Thousands of federal firefighters charged with taming the blazes do not have health insurance.
That includes 27-year-old John Lauer. He’s a member of a Colorado-based “hotshot” crew, one of the teams of the most skilled federal fighters that gets deployed where fires are the worst. In six years, he has fought fires in Utah, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota – “Pretty much every state west of the Mississippi,” Lauer says. “Alaska too, once.”
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 (although as Lauer describes it, they can often work a full year’s worth of hours with the long shifts). 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.”
So the next time you think you might lose your home to a wildfire and you see guys and gals crawling through the flames,
remember: They’re lugging gear around that adds to their being hot as hell; they’ve been working for 18-hours straight; they don’t have health insurance (think about breathing smoke for 18 hours for two weeks multiplied by years and years) and they’re away from their families for weeks on end.
Making a batch of chocolate chip cookies doesn’t come close to thanking them.
Entry filed under: Musings.