Ill Firefighters Forced to Fight Bureaucracy

US wildland firefighters face increasingly dangerous work, as climate change drives more frequent and widespread blazes. But many firefighters injured on the job say government programs intended to assist them are failing.

“It's a broken system,” said Kelly Martin, president of Grassroots Wildland Firefighters.

From 2017 to 2020, the ~10,000-strong US Forest Service firefighting force reported 2,500 work-related injuries or illnesses—from smoke and toxin exposure to PTSD, issues the government is supposed to cover.
 
Yet firefighters are often denied care—or forced into a years-long bureaucratic rigmarole trying to prove their injuries or illnesses were work-related.
 
Thomson Reuters Foundation

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