Currently state and local police, firefighters, EMT's and federally employed firefighters have death and disability benefits, but not contracted workers.
These contracted firefighters make up 40 percent of the firefighters battling blazes on fedderal lands.
The bill would give the surviving spouses and childeren of fallen contracted firefighters the same survivor benefits that thsoe other firefighters and law enforcement receive.
Merkley crafted the legislation after hearing from families of contracted Oreogn firefighters killed in 2008, but were deneid benefits.
This last summer, a contracted Sisters firefighter was killed in the line of duty, when a tree fell on him.