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Burns to firefighters can still be serious

Many people in Grand Junction may assume that the firefighters they see bravely working to keep people safe are safe themselves. Even though they recognize that there is considerable risk and danger associated with uncontrolled fires, the firefighters are also trained and have considerable safety equipment that should keep them safe. Just because they have the equipment and training, however, doesn't mean that dangerous accidents don't happen, leaving firefighters seriously injured and reliant on workers' compensation.

Take the story of a young firefighter who was looking for survivors in a house fire. He had been wearing his protective gear and it is likely that he was following the fire department's training and guidelines, but he was still burned on his neck, legs and wrists.

There was no way of him to know just how hot things were going to get, and the environment had rapidly changed to create a high degree of radiant heat. That heat soaked right through his thick firefighting uniform and he developed second-degree burns.

He was taken to the hospital and received some minor care. While he was released later in the day, he needed to return to the burn unit later. Whether the burns were more extensive than originally thought or the original emergency room physicians failed to properly treat the burns, the firefighter was forced to remain in the hospital for four days. Although this may not seem like a long time, this is four days of not being paid, four days of medical bills, and four days of pain and suffering.

It may be that Grand Junction firefighters are injured in complete accidents, but that does not preclude them from workers' compensation.

Source: The Daily Californian, “Never underestimate a burn injury,” Doug Greener, April 21, 2013

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