- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - A Prescott retirement board on Friday granted public-safety survivor benefits to two more families of firefighters killed in the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire.

The Prescott Board of the Public Safety Retirement System voted unanimously to award survivor benefits to the wives and families of fallen Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters Sean Misner and Billy Warneke.

The city had contended Warneke and Misner were temporary seasonal workers whose survivors are eligible only for less generous death benefits from the state’s regular public employee system and didn’t pay into the public-safety system.

However, a Yavapai County Superior Court judge recently ruled in favor of the family of Andrew Ashcraft in a similar case.

Ashcraft, Warneke and Misner were among 19 Hotshot firefighters who died June 30, 2013, when the wildfire swept over the Prescott Fire Department crew’s position in a brush-choked canyon in rural southwestern Yavapai County.

Ashcraft had worked on the crew for 16 months while Warneke and Misner were hired just three months before they died.

The state law governing eligibility in the public-safety retirement system requires employment for at least six months, but the families’ lawyer said both Warneke and Misner had committed to working a seven-month fire season.

As in the Ashcraft case, attorney Patrick McGroder argued that the city enrolled Misner and Warneke in the wrong retirement system.

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