Firefighters feeling the financial heat of a slow fire season

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by KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on July 27, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 27 at 11:15 PM

SPOKANE -- A slow fire season is usually good news.  But some firefighters in the region said that is not the case this year.  A lack of wildfires is forcing some into unemployment.

A wet spring and summer in the Spokane area has delayed fire season.  Crews that would normally be fighting fires are forced to sit and wait.

Employees at Chewack Wildfire have yet to fight a single fire this season.  The company employs 45 firefighters during the summer.  But with no fires to put out, there's no money to put in the bank.  And that is leading some to file for unemployment.
 
"We have some that are solely depending on fire season.  The problem with that is you are relying on Mother Nature to make you or break you," said Chewack Wildfire Vice President Todd Graves.

Employees said fire season is already a month behind because of the wet summer weather.  Last year it was the same story.  Nobody was deployed to a wildfire.  Employees are not the only ones hurting.  The business itself makes almost half of its profits during fire season.  The other half is from fire prevention which is keeping the company afloat.  And because of that, a few employees are getting a paycheck. 
 
Firefighters said once it starts, the fire season could be a big one.  They said they are more than happy to put the flames out.

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