It is that time of the year again when wildfires tear through communities in California. Every summer, injured firefighters and grieving families of deceased firefighters file workers’ compensation benefits claims to help them cope with unanticipated financial losses. Lives have already been lost and injuries suffered in wildfires in Northern California this year.
A spokesperson for Cal Fire says this fire’s fierceness has firefighters saving people rather than containing the fire. They are exposed to temperatures up to 110 degrees and 30 mph winds with 5 to 10 percent humidity. To make things worse, tornadoes formed in the fire, causing equipment to be tossed around. It was so intense that some of the windows of Cal Fire vehicles were blown out.
The fire overcame a contract worker who operated a bulldozer, and he was burned to death while clearing vegetation in an attempt to make a firebreak. The following morning saw the death of a fire inspector who was involved in a fatal crash. Reportedly, three firefighters received treatment at a medical center for burn wounds to their hands, faces and ears. One of them was transferred to a burn center for further evaluation.
While these tragedies play out, injured firefighters might find some comfort in knowing that resources are available to assist with the navigation of workers’ compensation benefits claims. The California insurance program will cover their medical expenses and provide wage replacement. The surviving family members of firefighters who lost their lives can claim death benefits to assist with end-of-life expenses. They might also receive financial packages to make up for lost income.