Should the City of Prescott Rebuild Its Hotshot Crew?

Categories: Morning Poll
Kyle T. Webster

In the aftermath of the Yarnell Hill Fire, which killed 19 of the 20 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, reports indicate that the city wants to rebuild its crew.

While it's still in the planning stages, it may not be the best idea, considering the issues surrounding the crew that was lost in Yarnell.

See also:
-Yarnell Hill Fire: The Granite Mountain Hotshots Never Should've Been Deployed, Mounting Evidence Shows

John Dougherty's report this week outlines several issues surrounding the crew, leading up to their deaths.

One wildfire expert told Dougherty, "The absolute worst outcome from this horrible event is for the city of Prescott to get another crew."

Keeping in mind that there's been no firefighter-death incident like this in recent history, consider some of the problems -- the crew didn't meet certification standards, after the Prescott City Council voted to eliminate two full-time positions from the crew last year. (This has also created major blow-back, now that some of the Hotshots' families are discovering that they're not entitled to benefits as survivors.)

The Prescott Fire Department has not turned over copies of the crew's annual "preparedness review," and the crew's superintendent -- who also died in the fire -- wrote in an employment review in May that it's "challenging to run a nationally recognized program with minimum standards and requirements that I am unable to meet."

Additionally, several officials have asserted that the crew was trying to protect a nearby ranch when the crew was overrun by flames. At least one former hotshot supervisor said the blending of a hotshot crew with a municipal fire department may have created some misplaced priorities for the men.

"There is absolutely no other explanation that I can come up with, no matter how much I think about it, except that their priority mission was to protect structures," former hotshot supervisor Gary Olson told Dougherty. "That may be what structural firefighters do, but there should be no way in hell that is what wildland firefighters do, especially when they are on foot and carrying hand tools."

Based on what you know, and what Dougherty has discovered, do you think Prescott should rebuild its hotshot crew?

Cast your vote below:

Send feedback and tips to the author.
Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

If being the only city in the country with a Hotshot crew is such a great idea, let's investigate why the fire departments in  Flagstaff, Winslow, Sierra Vista, Yuma and Lake Havasu City don't also have one.  Maybe their fire chiefs will go on record to point out why it's a stupid idea.  

Cris Cross
Cris Cross

Who would want to be on it. They wont get more than minimum wage. And if something happens to them they're family's will get left out in the cold.

Ruben DeClay
Ruben DeClay

Not if the city is going to avoid paying restitution death benefits if they die on the job

Leslie Jones
Leslie Jones

No. Working with no 'benefits' in such a dangerous job, is a slap in the face to the firefighters and their families, when the next tragedy strikes. The rules need to change if the public wants fire protection.


Paying the workers $12/hr while billing them out for $39/hr was making the city a lot of money, right up until the mega-million's taxpayers are going to get stuck with for the death benefits.  Paying the people on the line $12/hr while their incompetent double-dipping supervisor is sitting behind a desk making $62/hr plus benefits is part of the problem.  He seemed more interested in making sure he looked good than ensuring the people at risk were kept out of harms way.

Now Trending

Phoenix Concert Tickets

From the Vault