/ Modified aug 7, 2013 9:10 a.m.

Law Changes May Ensure Hotshot Families Survivor Benefits

AZ house speaker drafting a retroactive legislation; mother of one of 19 firefighters having a news conference in Prescott Wed.

Thirteen of the firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire were only seasonal Prescott city employees so their families don't qualify for full survivors' benefits, but a legislative leader wants to change that, The Associated Press reported.

Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin said he's drafting retroactive legislation to provide regular benefits to any responder who dies on state lands, as was the case for the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots killed on June 30.

The Prescott Daily Courier reported that, if changes are made, the survivors of the 13 deceased Hotshots would qualify for benefits, such as health care.

Tobin's statement supports demands by one of the perished hotshot's mother made Monday.

AP said Deborah Pfingston, whose 29-year-old son, Andrew Ashcraft, died in the tragic blaze, will have a news conference in Prescott Wednesday to pressure the city to provide family survivor benefits, regardless of a full-time employee status or not.

City officials said on Monday they couldn't legally posthumously reclassify the men as full-time so their families could receive additional benefits, AP reported.

Tobin said the seasonal firefighters' deaths are a wake-up call because use of seasonal and part-time employees is increasingly common.

AP said another bill planned by Tobin would have the state cover the costs of the death-related retirement benefits provided by Prescott.

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