A military installment in Arizona commonly called the “Boneyard” houses many retired-and aged-military planes. Some Arizonans, however, may be surprised to find out that another agency of the federal government salvages these planes and re-designs them to fight wildfires both in Arizona and in other parts of the country.
Unfortunately, several work accidents related to these planes have led to firefighters’ dying or suffering serious injury. Some attribute this disturbing trend to the age of the plane, claiming that the plane is a safety hazard because is more prone to a mechanical breakdown, particularly under the extra stress of being flown near a large wildfire.
While there are no doubt many, if not thousands, of federal employees working in Arizona-including, perhaps, some of these firefighters and pilots-it should be noted that they are not subject to Arizona’s workers’ compensation system. Federal employees have their own federally funded workers’ compensation program, although it in at least some respects resembles the workers’ compensation program of this state.
In any event, however, all employers in Arizona have an obligation provide their employees with safe and up-to-date equipment for their jobs. Using old equipment that is no longer up to the task for which it was designed may lead to serious accidents on the job and prompt claims of employer negligence.
Even if it is not “negligent” strictly speaking, under Arizona’s no-fault workers’ comp system, an employer will likely still have to cover an employee’s costs if that employee gets injured by equipment that is out-of-date.
Source: NBC News, “Despite warnings, aging firefighting aircraft still flying, and crashing,” Justin Runquist, et al., Dec. 23, 2012