At the morning briefing of the San Diego unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on a recent Thursday, the director emphasized the dangers of complacency. He reminded firefighters of the fact that mopping up hot spots when fighting wildfires is no less dangerous than battling against fierce fires. He said most injuries -- and subsequent workers' compensation claims -- occur while dealing with charred rubble and burned trees.
Hours later, a 32-year-old father of a 2-year-old toddler lost his life. The director reported that the man was a member of the San Diego unit's strike team who had been with Cal Fire since 2009. He was a fire apparatus engineer and was busy with mopping up and checking for hot spots when he was killed.
Details of the circumstances that led to this tragedy were not published, and authorities say an accident investigation team will work on determining the cause of the fatality. The Cal Fire director urged the deceased firefighter's colleagues to spare a thought for him whenever they find themselves becoming complacent and less vigilant. Authorities expect the fire to continue for several weeks to come.
California firefighters have to face many life-threatening hazards in the line of duty, especially during the season when wildfires are prevalent. Families who lose loved ones on the job may be entitled to pursue financial assistance through the workers' compensation insurance program. They are free to seek the help of an experienced workers' compensation attorney with the complicated process of claiming death benefits to cover the costs of funerals and burials along with lost income.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Firefighter killed battling Thomas fire as powerful winds pose new threat", Joseph Serna, Brittny Mejia, Javier Panzar, Dec. 14, 2017