Tester: Wildland firefighters ‘earned their benefits’

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after news that effective immediately temporary firefighters battling wildfires across the country are eligible for federal health insurance benefits.  Thousands of wildland firefighters have fought fires across the Big Sky State this summer to protect Montanans, their homes, and their property:

“America's wildland firefighters who brave dangerous conditions protecting homes, property and our way of life deserve the same benefits as other public employees.  I’m pleased these courageous men and women will now have access to quality health care on the job.  They earn it every day.”

The Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Department of Interior announced last week that the agencies plan to offer temporary federal firefighters the same access to health care benefits that federal employees receive.  Those plans became official today.

Due to the seasonal nature of wildland firefighting, many federal firefighters were not previously eligible for health care and retirement benefits. 

Montana’s record-setting wildfires have burned 500,000 acres so far this year.  Official wildfire season does not start until August 1.