When you sacrifice your life to save the homes and lives of others, you deserve a give back, and so does your family. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the humane one and the honorable way to say thank you. Unfortunately, the city officials of Prescott, Arizona do not think so.
When 13 of the 19 firefighters of the élite, hotshot crew in Yarnell, Arizona died fighting that massive fire, their families became ineligible for lifetime benefits that 6 of the other firefighter families are going to receive. This is because they were not full-time firefighters, but rather, seasonal ones. It does not matter that some of them worked full-time fighting fires and died the same horrible death – the city books of Prescott, Arizona say otherwise.
Is this fair? Are the lives and the futures of their wives and children worth any less than the other 6? Was the contributions and sacrifices of those 13 firefighters of any lesser value?
Sometimes rules must be followed, like paying out death benefits and long-term survivor assistance plans to those qualified. However, in a world where morals and values and civil liberties are easily stomped upon, surely exceptions should be made to honor those who go above and beyond the call of duty.
This is one of those exceptions.
The families of 6 of those firefighters who died will receive lifetime benefits. The wives and children of the other 13 will receive a one time payout of $328,613 and nothing more. Anyone who has even one child knows this is a mere pittance and insufficient for the lifetime cost of raising a child. That’s something those fallen firefighters knew about, and why they went out everyday and put their lives on the line.
Something should be done here. The lives of those saved by those dead firefighters far outweighs the expense of what it will cost the State of Arizona to pass a law qualifying the other 13 firefighters’ families for monthly and lifetime benefits. Thankfully, one lawmaker in Arizona is doing something about it. Andy Tobin, who is Speaker of the House of Representatives in Arizona, is drafting legislation that will make all the families of those 19 firefighters killed eligible to receive lifetime benefits. Hopefully, it will pass as law with bipartisan support.
It should pass as law. It’s the humane thing to do and the only right thing to do. Honor those who gave their lives so others could live.
© Joseph Rathjen – All Rights Reserved – 2013
- New Bill Could Boost Benefits for Some Ariz. Hotshot Families (abcnews.go.com)
- Arizona firefighter widow fighting for benefits (dailykos.com)
- Hotshot who survived deadly fire: “Why wasn’t I there?” (cbsnews.com)