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Local seasonal firefighters receive health benefits

For many, a summer job means waiting tables or guarding lives at a nearby pool, but some throw themselves right in the middle of dangerous wildfires.

Now there’s a well deserved benefit extended to seasonal firefighters.

“We’re putting our bodies through rigorous activity,” said Ben Bristol, a seasonal firefighter.

But come winter and fall, eastern Idaho doesn’t need as many firefighters and more than 100 seasonal fighters head back to school or another job.

Among those is Bristol, who has been fighting fires in the summer for nine years, but even nearly nearly a decade of loyalty doesn’t get you health benefits.

“Either they get it through being a student or don’t have it at all,” said Bristol.

That changed July 17, when the White House extended federal health insurance benefits to temporary firefighters like Bristol.

“I think it’s important to maintain our health as we get older,” said Bristol. “Ipay for my own health insurance right now for my wife and kid; it’s kind of expensive.

Beyond the benefits, it’s nice to know their hard work is recognized.

“I think it’s imporatnt to think about the people who are working hard and working rigorous hours,” said Bristol. “Ithink it’s a good idea. I haven’t heard a whole lot about it yet, but if it makes more sense than the individual (insurance). I see a lot more people jumping on board and getting a hold of it.

There are more than 134 firefighters who work seasonally in Eastern Idaho and around 8,000 across the country.

Apart from health insurance, all firefighters are covered by workman’s comp if they are injured on the job.

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