Wildfires in California are not uncommon between May and October each year. In the most recent Apple Fire, an estimated 7,800 people and 2,600 residences were evacuated. While thousands of people flee from the fire, firefighters have to go into it and risk severe workplace injuries or even death. Reportedly, the fire is raging over an area of almost 27,000 acres.
Fire safety authorities say over 2,500 wildfire fighters are working to stop the fire. Twelve helicopters are dropping water to form containment boundaries from the air, along with two Cal Fire air tankers. Miraculously, only one firefighter has suffered injuries so far, but many more are at risk. No details have been provided about the severity of the injuries the firefighter suffered.
Along with the burn injury risks and the poor visibility, wildfire fighters risk threats of inhaling the smoke, entrapments or burnovers, slips or trip-and-fall injuries. The firefighting vehicles, including aircraft, also pose injury risks. Other common consequences of prolonged exposure to wildfires include heat-related illnesses, rhabdomyolsis and cardiac deaths.
Injured wildfire fighters may find comfort in knowing that the California workers’ compensation insurance program will have their backs. They can claim benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages caused by workplace injuries. However, firefighters whose injuries caused disabilities might qualify for more extensive benefits. This is where the skills of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney come in. While the injured firefighter works on recovering, legal counsel can navigate the benefits claims process to increase the likelihood of maximum applicable benefits.