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Home / WLF FamilySaid / Comment by Mellie

  • 12/13/2001
  • WildlandFire.com Team
  • 0 Comment

Many people who read here care about benefits for contractors and for vollies as well as for fed and state employees. Now you can even SEARCH back through the past theysaid posts to find all the discussions about benefits.
My friend Karen died when run over by her engine while fighting a fire in Redding CA, fall of 1999. She was a volunteer. Immediately ALL the firefighters in Denny Camp, not just the vollies, took up a collection for her two girls. The outpouring was profound. Richard Blood, a contract bus driver, was murdered at the Anderson CA Fairgrounds while rotating off the Big Bar Complex, fall of 1999. Through an oversight and the fact that the overhead teams were also in the process of wrapping it up and leaving, his family was not even offered condolences from the fed fire community until way later. (Correct me if I’m wrong on this, please.) While his children are grown and not so in need of educational funds, the lack of support from a high level was painful.
After Larry and Lars (contract AT firefighters) died in the mid-air collision this summer, many responded with support, financial and emotional. As the result of the hard work of a number of AT pilots’ wives, a bill was passed in CA. It entitles children of those who die while fighting fire (or engaged in law enforcement) in CA to go to state colleges and universities tuition-free. (I believe the legislature must vote to extend it in two years, so your support to lobby that renewal may be called on at that time.) The point is that the change in law came about because pilots, their wives and the fire community spoke loudly about the inequities in contractor benefits and pushed to get the change done. Such balancing of support resources needs to happen across the nation.
As far as folks here not joining you in responding to DRC because they don’t care about contractors, you’re wrong. Here’s an alternative explanation: People often don’t know what to say when confronted with people who have lost a loved one — especially when the person feels like a firefighter’s child is not getting the support they need. Even I sometimes don’t know what to say. Frankly, I was glad you replied so wonderfully to DRC.
So I hope you continue to join us when you feel you have something to contribute. But ultimately, it’s your call.

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