3:45pm

Tue July 10, 2012
Wildfires

Seasonal Firefighters To Receive Health Care Benefits

Seasonal Firefighters, including many who fought recent wildfires in the state, will now have access to the same health care federal employees receive.

The Denver Post reports that President Barack Obama directed federal officials to offer the federal health insurance option. Up to this point, federal firefighters were considered temporary employees and thus ineligible for benefits like health care and retirement pensions.

Colorado Senator's Mark Udall and Michael Bennet praised the decision. In a statement released shortly after the announcement, Bennet said it was unacceptable that firefighters did not have access to health care benefits.

“This is excellent news. Federal firefighters may be temporary employees but they leave a permanent mark on the families whose lives and properties they save.  All too often, their grueling, life threatening work requires many more hours than the relatively comfortable and safe jobs so many of us hold.”

Udall agreed, saying he was glad the president used his authority to grant firefighters federal healthcare.

“During this severe fire season, Coloradans have seen firsthand the great work our wildland firefighters do and the sacrifices they make to protect our homes and lives. It is only fitting that we do everything we can to support them.”

Meanwhile, Democratic House Representative Diana DeGette has introduced a bill in Congress that would also extend benefits to seasonal firefighters.