Montana Public Radio

Rich Cowger

Wildland fire managers told Governor Steve Bullock June 16 in a 2020 fire season briefing they’re ready for what could become an above average fire year made even more complicated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A firefighter stands in front of flames from a wildfire. Stock photo.

Wildland firefighting is a team effort. California has helped Montana during wildfire crises, and now Montana is returning the favor.

California’s fires have consumed tens of thousands of acres and forced thousands to flee their homes. With their resources stretched thin and firefighters battling fatigue, incident commanders reached out for help Sunday.

Sen. Nate McConnell announces the Firefighters Protection Act. The bill would allow current or former firefighters to file for health coverage or wage protection if they’re  diagnosed with one of more than dozen diseases. Jan. 29, 2019.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

Professional firefighters are again asking lawmakers to expand their workers' compensation benefits to cover chronic diseases they’re more likely to catch because of their jobs. However, the unknown price tag that could come with it is posing a hurdle.


A new tax on fireworks is up for debate in the Montana Legislature. The money would help pay workers compensation for volunteer firefighters injured on the job. But the fireworks industry is protesting against the policy that they say is unfair and will cripple their businesses.

There are roughly 8,000 volunteer firefighters in Montana and a quarter don’t get health coverage or wage protection if they’re injured on the job, according to a legislative study on the topic last year.