Full-time vs. Part-time and the Yarnell 19.

arnisador

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Prescott united in grief, divided over firefighter survivor benefits

After Arizona's Yarnell Hill fire, Prescott is torn over survivors' benefits for the families of 13 part-time Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew members killed in the blaze.

Now, a conflict over whether to extend full survivors' benefits to the families of 13 firefighters killed on the job June 30 looms over Prescott
[...]
Six members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew were full-time city employees, and their families are entitled to full-time survivors benefits. Most notably, they're eligible for healthcare, though they must make regular premium payments.

But the other 13 were part-time workers, and Prescott officials have said state law prevents the city from giving their survivors the benefits of full-time employees. This week city officials had something new to say about the benefits — Prescott can't afford them.

It would cost the city an estimated $51 million over the next 60 years and would mean cuts to vital services to the people of Prescott, city spokesman Peter Wertheim said Thursday in a statement.

If the city were to make a one-time lump-sum payment of $24 million, it would be three times the entire budget of the Prescott Fire Department.
[...]
"The entire fire crew — they were on that fire shoulder-to-shoulder, using the same type of tools," Warneke said. "They had the same type of risks. They should have the same equal benefits."
[...]
Permanent firefighters qualify for pensions, healthcare and life insurance, among other benefits. Seasonal workers do not.
That means, for example, that the widow of a permanent firefighter is eligible to receive health insurance and a monthly tax-free pension payment for the rest of her life.

Juliann Ashcraft, the widow of Andrew Ashcraft, 29, has been the most outspoken survivor regarding the controversy.

She was told last month that she didn't qualify for benefits — including income and health insurance — because even though her husband was working full-time hours when he died, he was a part-time employee on paper.

More on this story, including a suggestion that the city is overstating the case w.r.t. the financial difficulty it would suffer in extending the benefits to all the families of those killed:

Prescott takes the cheapskate approach to dead Yarnell firefighters
 

Tgace

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Were the details of the benefits clearly stated and understood by the people when they took the job?
 

ballen0351

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My opinion would be if they were acting as full time employees at time of death then they are full time employees. I know the town charter does not read that way but I think if they take it to court and use the military as the example. Reservists are treated as full time when called up.

The one woman claims her husband was told he was hired full-time by the chief but he never submitted the paperwork and he was also killed so she has no proof.

Sucks they should change the Charter to read line of duty deaths receive benefits. You die in line of duty your family should get benefits
 
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arnisador

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Sucks they should change the Charter to read line of duty deaths receive benefits. You die in line of duty your family should get benefits

I think that policy is the only one that's fair and just, and was surprised to see it isn't so--that they instead distinguish between benefits for part-timers vs. full-timers in something like this. But apparently it wasn't the deal and they're sticking with that.
 

granfire

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That sucks.
Most of the hotshots/smokejumpers are seasonal.
If that sets precedent, I am seeing a lot of trouble in the future!
While those folks are hardcore and dedicated, I am sure many will reconsider doing this vital service for the communities, many of which not their own, to find something that secures their families should the unspeakable happen to them!

I can understand that this is a lot of money for the town, but they do not have to shell out 24 millions at once. Maybe they need to get creative in the fundraising department to fund their pension plan for these families who have sacrificed/lost everything to protect the public!
 

ballen0351

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That sucks.
Most of the hotshots/smokejumpers are seasonal.
If that sets precedent, I am seeing a lot of trouble in the future!
While those folks are hardcore and dedicated, I am sure many will reconsider doing this vital service for the communities, many of which not their own, to find something that secures their families should the unspeakable happen to them!

I can understand that this is a lot of money for the town, but they do not have to shell out 24 millions at once. Maybe they need to get creative in the fundraising department to fund their pension plan for these families who have sacrificed/lost everything to protect the public!
yeah according to article 51 million over 60 years. Im sure a city can find a way to come up with less than a million a year
 

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It's one guy in particular that bothers me. He was working full time. He and his family thought he was full time. He had all the benefits and was working year round, 40 per week. But was technically a part time employee... So no survivors benefits.


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arnisador

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[h=1]For Families of Dead Firefighters, a Fight Over Compensation[/h]
In life, firefighters from disparate states and backgrounds work side by side, fighting the same blazes on the same terrain. But in death, families say, they are sifted into different categories based on their official employment status. Whether they were full-time or part-time, government employees or contractors can make a difference amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, providing some families with a financial lifeline from the government and others with barely enough to pay for a funeral.


Questions about how to compensate these families have a greater resonance this year, one of the deadliest for wildfire crews in a decade. It has been a summer of tearful remembrances and makeshift memorials from North Carolina to Oregon, to central Arizona, where 19 hotshot firefighters died in the chaparral mountains. In all, at least 26 wildland firefighters have died so far this year, according to government figures, and blazes are still raging across the West.


Now, as families begin navigating thickets of insurance claims and benefits paperwork, some are raising criticism of what they call flawed and unfair government rules that create a posthumous imbalance among firefighting families.
 

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All the more reason to make sure you have life insurance. Dont wait for the Govt to take care of your family.

Interesting perspective. I think of a survivors pension as an employer issue, not a government issue. These guys happen to be government employees.

But, I agree about the life insurance.


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Makalakumu

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Private insurance seems like the best idea here. Funding pensions and benefits like this is not going to work long term because the tax base can fluctuate so much.
 

ballen0351

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Interesting perspective. I think of a survivors pension as an employer issue, not a government issue. These guys happen to be government employees.

But, I agree about the life insurance.


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Yeah I don't count on my pension or survivor benefits. With seeing what happened in Detroit I may not have a pension in 20 years. I read an article that police and fite pension in Detroit could be cut to .17 on the dollar
 

granfire

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But that's because sticky fingers dipped into the funds....

I hope your private investments fair better than my nestegg...died in the last round of financial troubles...

Seems that both markets are afflicted by the same type of peole who like to play fast and loose with other people's money!

One more point: Can you even get life insurance as 'part time' firefighter or smoke jumper?
Isn't that type of insurance bought in a group setting from the employer? Not unlike soldier's packages. After all, people in a lead ladden environment are a bad risk...

Either way, the (un)fair city of Prescott. not sure if I'd trust them sending in a package like that...seems they are great at penny pinching and bean counting!
They could instead shine in this moment of tragedy: Organize a big shindig, ball or dinner, to benefit the survivor fund. Make it an annual thing, they should be able to raise the money....

But nooooooooo.......
 

Makalakumu

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That's part of the risk though. One of these reasons these jobs pay so poorly is because the government subsidizes the whole thing. If people had to pay up front in a private business sense for the real risk of smoke jumpers, these guys would be getting paid several times more.
 
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arnisador

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I also wondered if life ins. would exclude injuries from having such an occupation from coverage.
 

ballen0351

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I also wondered if life ins. would exclude injuries from having such an occupation from coverage.

As a newly licensed life insurance salesman. It would depend on how the policy is written. But police and fire are not generally excluded you might pay a little more
 

ballen0351

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I forgot these guys where smoke jumpers they might not be allowed but regular fire fighters are not exempt. We don't have smoke jumpers here so I don't know how that works
 

granfire

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That's part of the risk though. One of these reasons these jobs pay so poorly is because the government subsidizes the whole thing. If people had to pay up front in a private business sense for the real risk of smoke jumpers, these guys would be getting paid several times more.

You are making no sense.
Well, if you build your house in a wild fire area, the fees and taxes you pay to the community ought to cover the expense.
No need to government subsidize.

As to pay...you can't send any tom, dick or harry in....good idea to spend nothing on them...strange mindset....
 

Tgace

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Hes one of those "private ownership" libertarian types......subset of the Freeman movement IMO.

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