Cubin to Unveil Aerial Firefighting Bill in Buffalo
Legislation Will Extend Death Benefits to Families of Pilots and Crews
Event to Draw Air Tankers, Firefighters from Throughout Western U.S.

Washington U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin (R-WY) announced today that she will unveil a bill to extend federal death and disability benefits to the families of aerial firefighters in Buffalo this weekend. The event is scheduled to begin at 10:15 Saturday morning at the Buffalo airfield.

"These pilots and flight crews are basically on the front lines when it comes to fighting wildfires," said Cubin. "We lost a half dozen aerial firefighters last year, and their families deserve the same support that we offer to our other public safety officers."

Cubin said her bill will make tanker pilots killed in the line of duty while fighting fires eligible to receive benefits under the federal government's Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) program. Current federal regulations exclude the families of private aerial firefighters from receiving death benefits, even though public agencies contract with these private companies for firefighting services.

"These are the unsung heroes in our efforts to contain wildfires, and their families deserve to have this peace of mind," said Cubin. "Aerial firefighters serve the public good in every possible sense and their courage ought to be recognized."

The PSOB program is administered by the Department of Justice and provides a one-time lump sum payment of roughly $260,000 to surviving family members of those individuals classified as public safety officers. Unfortunately, air tanker pilots are not considered public safety officers because they work for private companies that contract with the federal government.

"While it's true that the pilots are flying for private contractors, they are flying over public land and they're protecting the lives and property of citizens," continued Cubin. "These pilots are protecting our wildlands, our resources, and, in many cases, our lives. We ought to return the favor and remember to look out for them."

The event in Buffalo will be open to the public and will include remarks by Rep. Cubin and representatives from the aerial firefighting industry. A T-11 air tanker, flown in by Neptune Aviation, will also be on hand.


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What: Rep. Cubin Unveils Bill to Protect Aerial Firefighters
Where: Buffalo Airport
When: 10:15 a.m. - Saturday, February 15