Death benefit approved for seasonal wildland firefighters

DENVER - Families of Colorado seasonal wildland firefighters who die in the line of duty will get a $10,000 payment to help with funeral costs and other expenses under a new law.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday signed the bipartisan-sponsored bill.

Seasonal wildland firefighters generally don't receive any health or insurance benefits. The seasonal firefighters are temporary employees of state and local agencies.

The federal government already provides death benefits for state and local firefighters, including part-time firefighters. But Colorado lawmakers say the $10,000 payment is designed to immediately help surviving families while they wait for federal benefits.

The legislation was inspired by the deaths of 19 firefighters at Arizona's Yarnell Hill fire last year.

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