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Improved firefighter safety could reduce need for workman's comp

Colorado first responders, such as police officers, firefighters and EMTs, are often required to put themselves in harm’s way for the good of the public. Though their jobs carry some of the highest amounts of physical risk, their employers are still expected to take any reasonable measure to keep them safe. If they are injured, workman's comp can help them with varying expenses resulting from the accident, or it can be paid to their family if they are killed. Some retired firefighters from out of state recently took it upon themselves to speak out regarding the safety of their still-working colleagues, saying that they may be facing unnecessary danger.

The five former fire managers began the campaign after 19 firefighters were killed in a large wildfire. According to them, firefighters are being routinely sent to emergencies without being properly prepared. They even claim that in many of the devastating fires that took the lives of multiple firefighters that no other losses were actually prevented, implying that their deaths might have been in vain. The former firefighters say that more oversight is needed and that supervisors need to properly assess the potential dangers before sending in first responders.

OSHA fined the state forestry division in Arizona that handled the fatal wildfire last year, saying that measures could have been taken to minimize risk to the firefighters. Many of the agencies that dispatch these brave men and women say that their budgets have been reduced, making it more difficult to maintain protection. The retirees responded by saying that the creation of protocols and enforcement by managers could save lives, which should be a top priority for the sake of both the public and the emergency workers who are trying to help them.

Those first responders who have been injured on the job, or the families who have lost loved ones to an on-the-job accident have the right to file a workman's comp claim. These claims could help cover lost wages, funeral expenses, or other costs associated with the accident. Colorado emergency workers may be able to help themselves better by seeking professional guidance concerning the laws and procedures that encompass workers’ compensation.

Source: wyofile.com, "Retired firefighters; wildland colleagues in danger", Angus M. Thuermer, Jr., July 22, 2014

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