New Law Might Keep Wildfire Firefighters Off Top Jobs
YAKIMA, Wash. - People who work for the U.S. Forest Service are becoming concerned, now that criminal charges have been filed against an employee.
Ellreese Daniels has been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter for his role in the deaths of four firefighters in the 30-Mile Fire.
Some wildfire managers worry that mistakes they make on the job could come back to haunt them in the form of criminal charges.
Lawyers for Daniels and other federal employees say the criminal charges are inappropriate. Several firefighting veterans say the new rules have them buying personal liability insurance.
Gary Jennings of the Naches Ranger District says the new legislation could keep people from wanting to hold these positions.
"I believe that it will reduce the number of folks that will be stepping up in those roles, or they'll restrict themselves into roles that don't expose themselves," he said.
The 30-Mile Fire deaths brought about the changes in the way the forest service and other federal firefighting agencies attack wildfires, as well as new rules for reviewing wildfire deaths.
The families of the dead firefighters successfully pushed congress to require independent investigations whenever a forest service crew member is killed.