Firefighters come from all over to help during the wildfire season across California. Some of them suffer workplace injuries here. One out-of-state firefighter suffered severe burns to his stomach and legs while fighting fires in October. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has launched an investigation into the incident.
The victim is a 29-year-old rookie who was a member of a crew of 20 firefighters from another state. Reportedly, the incident occurred while the man was using his chain saw to make cuts into wood as part of a tactic to protect the roots of the trees from burning. As he stepped away to clear away rocks from the surrounding area, his supervisor asked him to check the fuel level of the chainsaw.
The firefighter unscrewed the fuel cap, checked the level and replaced the cap. He says he went back to work, and when the machine failed upon the first pull start, he pulled a second time. At that moment the fuel cap came off, causing the fuel to catch fire as it sprayed across his legs and stomach area. He was airlifted to a burn center with second and third-degree burns.
While workplace injuries caused during wildfire fighting are typically covered by workers’ compensation, the claims process in this case might be challenging. A California attorney with experience in dealing with out-of-state workers can provide valuable support and guidance. The fact that the injured worker is from another state might complicate the issue, and legal counsel can do what is necessary to obtain benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages on behalf of the injured firefighter.