Roxy Warneke joins benefit battle for seasonal 'Hotshots'
Warneke held a news conference Thursday at the Golder Ranch Fire District station 377.
CREATED Aug. 15, 2013
PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - They served the same, fought the same and died the same.
Now their families, all 19, deserve the same.
That was the argument made Thursday by the widow of fallen 'Hotshot' Billy Warneke.
Roxy Warneke has a baby on the way, and Tuesday marked what would have been Billy's 26th birthday.
In the hours before he headed to Prescott, she thought he was being paranoid.
"He pulled out his medical records and on the very first page, there were x-rays of his teeth, his dental records," said Roxy of her husband. "And he said 'If anything happens to me, you're going to need these.'"
Roxy Warneke says her husband knew the risks involved his job, but she calls the difference between seasonal and full-time benefits, $328,000 versus millions in insurance, a hole in the system.
"They all courageously went there together. None of them fled, and so they all deserve equal treatment," she said. "It's not just for the Yarnell 19. It's also for the future wildland firefighters."
Wednesday the city of Prescott said the pricetag made providing full benefits impossible.
$50 million over 60 years.
But in a letter to Governor Brewer, Warneke writes '...fire lines... make no distinction by time card...', adding 'I am nearly six months pregnant... on the day our baby daughter is born, she will have no health insurance coverage whatsoever.'
"They won't break me," said Julieann Ashcraft, in a previous interview.
So far this has been a war waged by the fellow 'Hotshot' widow.
"I have the truth on my side," she told reporters.
Although, her concerns center on whether her husband was indeed full-time.
Still, the attention is garnering support.
"I believe it's important that the state seriously consider its obligations," said Arizona speaker of the House Andy Tobin.
Earlier this month he told 9OYS he is drafting legislation to let the state provide equal benefits to all 19 families.
Thursday his staff said support in Phoenix is high leading up to a vote, likely in January.
But that's not soon enough says Warneke.
In her letter, she asks the Governor call a special session for this bill.
Thursday, we received a response from her office saying it is possible, but, "There are numerous legal, policy and fiscal questions that must be considered ...it's critical that policymakers get it right.'