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

Categories: News

Yarnell-Feature1-3.jpg
Photo Courtesy of AZFS
A pyrocumulonimbus cloud rises over the town of Yarnell at 4:47 p.m. on June 30 at the exact moment when the Granite Mountain Hotshots sent a radio message that the crew's 19 men were deploying emergency fire shelters.
Increasing evidence reveals that reasons far from supernatural contributed to the tragic deaths of 19 of the 20 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Dispatch logs show that the Granite Mountain crew should not have been deployed to fight the Yarnell Hill Fire. The federal Southwest Coordination Center in Albuquerque -- in charge of dispatching hotshot crews based in Arizona and New Mexico -- refused Arizona's repeated requests to send the unit to Yarnell.

Granite Mountain already had been on grueling assignments in New Mexico and, upon returning to Prescott in mid-June, immediately was sent out to fight the Doce Fire that was ignited in the Granite Mountain Wilderness on June 18.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots may have reached the maximum consecutive days for work before mandatory time off was required, although officials at the SWCC have declined to confirm or deny that or otherwise comment on why they turned down Arizona's requests.

Despite the refusal by the SWCC, records show, the state contacted Granite Mountain superintendent Eric Marsh directly via e-mail on the evening of June 29 and requested that the crew proceed to Yarnell the next morning. The state Forestry Division declined to comment when asked whether it circumvented the SWCC by sending the dispatch order directly to Marsh.

Prescott Fire Department officials, including Wildland Division chief Willis, also wouldn't comment on this point.

Before the Granite Mountain Hotshots even approached Yarnell Hill, a substantial amount of information shows, serious problems already had engulfed the crew. The personnel-related matters call into question whether the crew met minimum hotshot qualifications.

The systemic crisis gripping an overworked crew -- along with its baffling decision to leave a safe zone and move down a canyon through a treacherous, 10-foot-high thicket of unburned fuel toward a rapidly approaching wildfire -- has raised fundamental questions about whether the nation's only hotshot crew attached to a municipal fire department was a blueprint for disaster.

There's a profound difference between fighting wildfires with chainsaws and shovels and riding firetrucks to rescue burning buildings, then blasting water on flames.

Hotshots clear fire breaks with chainsaws, shovel dirt to put out fires, and often start fires to burn out fuel -- fighting fire with fire. Their primary focus is bringing wildfires under control, not providing protection for homes and structures.

"The fire does what it wants to do," explains Rod Wrench, a former member of the Del Rosa Hotshots and superintendent of the Little Tujunga Hotshots, both from California. "Until the weather changes or the fuel changes or the terrain changes, there isn't much you can do."

The Prescott Fire Department has attempted to blend wildfire fighting and structural protection, two radically different concepts, inside one agency. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the city already is discussing reforming the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew for next season -- an idea some former hotshots find appalling.

"The absolute worst outcome from this horrible event is for the city of Prescott to get another crew," expert Gary Olson says at his Flagstaff home.

"You just killed everyone on the last one," he says of the Prescott Fire Department. "That has never happened in the history of wildland firefighting. And now you want to get another one?"

As Prescott struggles to recover from a disaster that has shaken the city to its core -- as a makeshift memorial surrounding the Granite Mountain Hotshots headquarters in a refurbished garage attests -- any criticism of the actions of the firefighters is more than most residents can bear. The hotshots have been widely hailed as heroes and even were declared the "Saints of Prescott" at a July 9 memorial service attended by many dignitaries, including Vice President Joe Biden.

These were young men: Three of the dead were 21, five were under 25, six were under 30, four were between 30 and 36, and their leader was 43. They leave behind wives, fiancées, children, and babies yet to be born. They were killed in the most horrific manner imaginable.

But as each day passes, evidence mounts that serious mistakes were made by the Prescott Fire Department, the state Forestry Division, and Granite Mountain's superintendent.

The Arizona Forestry Division's decision to let the fire burn the night it started on state land and then dispatch prison crews the next day rather than apply overwhelming force to put it out -- combined with a lack of sufficient aircraft to apply desperately needed retardant -- turned a manageable event into a catastrophe.

Arizona is "always looking to save money by going cheap," says Olson, who also worked for four years as a dispatcher in the Santa Fe National Forest, managing resources to fight wildfires. "Sometimes the fire gets away from you and becomes a big monster, putting firefighters at risk."

Based on the latest federal estimate, the Yarnell Hill "monster" cost $5.45 million to put down.

***

My Voice Nation Help
174 comments
garylolson
garylolson

Well…as it has been pointed out many times, information is sketchy and confusing regarding this incident. But, it is my understanding from talking to a source who I believe pertaining to this particular point, here is the distinction between what Blue Ridge did and what I believe Granite Mountain was ordered to do.

During the time in question, all of the roads going into Yarnell, not the highways, the residential roads leading into the neighborhoods themselves were all blocked with residents fleeing OUT, all of the lanes. Therefore no emergency vehicles could get into the neighborhoods to help with the evacuation and start engaging in structure protection.

So it’s not a question of whether Granite Mountain was trying to get back to the main staging areas where lots of people were standing around like the Blue Ridge Hotshots being safe while the blow up occurred, I believe the Granite Mountain Hotshots (after being told to) were trying to reach the back side of the neighborhoods to engage in structure protection and possibly help with evacuations such as checking houses for residents or etc.

Had they been interested in simply returning to the main business part of town on the highway, they could have simply walked south to the highway which is a relatively short distance while calling to be picked up on the highway in their crew carriers or Blue Ridges. BUT…that would have just put them standing around the parking lot like everyone else, so I don’t think that is what they were trying to accomplish or had been ordered to do.

What I was referring to…is why didn’t the Blue Ridge Hotshots see the need to try and reach the neighborhoods by going cross (they were in the same geographic area) country to reach the western end of Yarnell and especially Glen llah.

I did not intend my latest post to go down this rabbit trail of speculation in any case. I was just reacting to Dylan Howard’s post attacking John Dougherty’s article which stated in part, “The amount of ignorance shown in this article is overwhelming; it is not only poorly researched but extremely destructive. To even suggest that two philosophies on fire fighting (wildland and structural) were blended is misinformed.”

I had already told John Dougherty I was checking out of this discussion because “they” hold all of the cards and they have already written the narrative their way…period and now I am back spinning my wheels again going nowhere fast…so I am taking another vow to bow out of this discussion, but I will continue to follow it with interest until everyone else gets as disgusted as I am with how ****** up the powers that be are.

In the end however, they were not as bad as they have been in the past (this is not my first rodeo), and they did not absolve the managers and the agencies of any wrong doing and hang it all around the necks of the dead firefighters, which is what they have always done in the past. This time…they absolved everyone of any wrong doing or mistakes and they are going with the well…I guess **** just happens, nothing more we can do or say, Oh Well.

garylolson
garylolson

Hi Dylan. My name is Gary Olson. I worked on 2 USFS hotshot crews for 10 years. My first year (1975), I was the second to the last shovel on the Happy Jack Hotshots, Coconino National Forest, which is arguably the least important job on a hotshot crew. I became the Superintendent 3 years later after successfully doing every job in between.

I was the Happy Jack Hotshot Superintendent until 1980 when the crews slot was moved to Santa Fe New Mexico. The Santa Fe National Forest offered me the job of founding the Santa Fe Hotshots, which I gladly accepted because my alternative was to remain on the Mighty Coke and operate an engine (no offense). I was the Santa Fe Hotshot Superintendent until 1984 when smoke damage to my lungs and larynx forced me into another job, that of Forest Dispatcher and Coordinator of an Interagency Fire Operations Center.

I believe I am the source of the theory that the primary casual factor in the absolutely horrific deaths of the Granite Mountain Hotshots was their cross cultural training and value system that blended structural fire fighting with wildland firefighting. I did not make this up out of thin air. I arrived at this conclusion after countless hours of trying to explain the inexplicable and...carefully listening to and studying all of Darrell Willis' comments at the site itself and at the memorial service. I suggest you do the same.

Why do you think the Granite Mountain Hotshots left a safe area and chose to hike down a death chute choked with brush over their heads in clear violation of almost every fire fighting rule that has ever been developed over the decades (about 100 years) by studying the deaths of every wildland firefighters by all of the experts?   

So...with all due respect to your experience with the crew and first hand knowledge of both Eric Marsh and Darrell Willis. There are only two choices when it comes to explaining the inexplicable and the primary casual factor in the deaths of these wildland firefighters that is completely unprecedented in the history of hotshot crews...ever. Never...has an entire crew been killed...ever. The only comparisons are;

1. The Loop Fire of 1966...12 El Cariso Hotshots burned alive because they were building hand line in a death chute ABOVE the fire. This tragedy occurred in the Dark Ages of wildland firefighting before fire behavior had been studied as a science.      

2. The Battlement Creek Fire of 1976 (which I was on with the Happy Jack Hotshots) when 3 Mormon Lake Hotshots were burned alive because they were burning out their recently constructed hand line ABOVE the fire. They watched the fire burn towards them for about 4 hours, until it finally trapped and overran them.

3. The South Canyon Fire of 1994 when 9 Prineville Hotshots (an entire squad) were burned alive because they were building hand line ABOVE the fire. It is well documented that there was a break down in the command structure on this fire and neither the Superintendent or the Foreman (Assistant Superintendent) of the crew was with the squad who died.

That's it...in history.  

So...how do YOU explain the inexplicable? John McCain blamed the monster fire...all wildfires are monsters. Jerry Payne blamed Eric Marsh, that's to easy. Darrell Willis blamed God. God wasn't on that fire. So who do you blame? Or do you agree with the official report that nobody did anything wrong? That everyone acted in accordance with all of the rules and sound wildland firefighting principles and tactics? So...I guess... **** just happens and nothing could have been done to prevent this ABSOLUTE HORRIFIC TRAGEDY and therefore absolutely nothing can be done to prevent it from happening again?

There are only two choices here my young friend...either Eric Marsh and Jesse Steed broke almost all of the rules of wildland firefighting at one time and screwed up beyond anyone's comprehension...even that of countless people who have never even seen a wildfire much less fought one.

Or...it's like I said...Eric Marsh was just doing what he was trained to do, risk everything to try and get the Granite Mountain Hotshots to town ASAP to help evacuate the good citizens of Yarnell and Glen Ilah and try to save their structures (after someone ordered them to do so) ...even though most of these good citizens had done nothing themselves to create a defensible space around their own miserable properties. Which one do you pick? Choose.

On a side note...I don't believe in coincidences...do you? Do you think it's a coincidence that the only hotshot crew to ever be sponsored by a city fire department in the history of wildland firefighting is now the only crew that has been killed in it's entirety, with a exception of a lone lookout who was not with crew at the time.

Why didn't the USFS Blue Ridge Hotshots from the Coconino National Forest see the need to try and reach Yarnell like the Granite Mountain Hotshots did? I think it's because the Blue Ridge Hotshots viewed the structures in Yarnell and Glen Ilah just as I would have...and all hotshots should.

Those structures were just fuel in the path of that damn wildfire and were nothing but a potential source of BTU's just waiting to have their stored energy released with unstoppable fury by the Yarnell Hill Fire. And now...chances are very good all of the Blue Ridge Hotshots will all grow old just like me...history proves almost all ex-hotshots do...and I hope you do as well. Please stay safe.      

dylansstp
dylansstp

Hello everyone,

 My name is Dylan Howard and I worked on the Granite Mountain crew for two years and have known both Darrell and Eric for the past ten.  I currently operate a type six wildland engine and have eight years of working in the wildland realm.  The amount of ignorance shown in this article is overwhelming; it is not only poorly researched but extremely destructive.  To even suggest that two philosophies on fire fighting (wildland and structural)   were blended is misinformed.  Structure protection in the wildland realm is common placed and consists of checking property for fuel around the structure, hazardous materials, electrical lines, and propane tanks.  Based on that information we try to create fuel breaks, remove debris/hazards, and set up sprinkler systems.  We NEVER enter into houses and do not carry SCBA's (self contained breathing apparatus') which you see structural fire fighters with.  

When I worked with Granite Mountain we had a separate facility from the structural department and spent most of our hours everyday physically and mentally training on wildland tactics.  I have personally seen Eric turn down assignments out of concern for the safety of our crew.  I know Darrell personally admired and looked to Eric for input on tactics and conditions on the ground.  If Eric ever had a concern I guarantee he would bring it up to Darrell without hesitation;  I also know Darrell would never second guess Eric when safety was a concern.  

It is very sad and troubling to me these comments I am reading based on a poorly written article filled with misinformation and threaded with cynical accusations.  I only hope as people read this article they take the time to reflect that we need constructive dialogue and review based on the facts and not hollow accusations misplacing blame.

wattsinthepan
wattsinthepan

Best article I have read about the Granite Shots and the fire that took them.  I think what the senior management did in falsifying paperwork and self-deploying will come back to bite them and the city in the ass and pocketbook.  

My thoughts are that  Capt. Marsh was told or requested to move to the town asap either by phone or a tactical channel.  They teach us all to turn down assignments if you feel they are too dangerous to carry out, but I know is easier when the order comes from outside your department.  To many times the intimidation factors come into play when the order comes from a department supervisor because it's much easier to turn down a member of another department because you don't work for them.  This is were it takes knowledge and a strong personality to say NO we are not going to do it!  

It looks like rules were bent and broken long before this fire ever started and after Prescott will have to pay for that.  If the AZ dept. of Forestry was holding back on equipment then they should be held accountable also.  As Chief Willis goes I feel God maybe waiting to personally greet HIM at the locked gate. 

Rest In Peace Brothers we will carry on the fight

Dave

Capt. 30 years wildland urban interface, 4 years helitack crew.

hurricaneric
hurricaneric moderator

Here's the latest letter we received in response to this cover story:

Hello,

I am a 25 year veteran of the career municipal fire service, currently serving as a Deputy Chief with the Yonkers, N.Y. Fire Department. I am a voracious consumer of fire and emergency services information of all types from a variety of sources. I would like to extend my compliments to Mr. Dougherty for an insightful, balanced and extremely well researched and written article.

I am sure that this article will play a significant role in the effort to determine the causes of this tragedy, and hopefully the implementation of better policies and procedures in regard to not only the actions of the Firefighters and their supervisors on the ground, but senior leadership in the fire service, as well as in the overall government and political arena.

Regards,
John Flynn

slenderman
slenderman

oh man that was bad !!!!! i mean really bad !

mrh0202201091
mrh0202201091

THE higher ups definately dispalyed poor leadership  skills at the least...These poor young men and women did not have to die like this..Someone should have lost theire job already.  

demarco13
demarco13

Yes, wouldn't surprise me at all if he was ordered. My nomination for who told him to leave "the black" and go save that ranch that didn't need saving would be...Jesus.

mike
mike

In a comment on the Investigative Media site where this same article is posted, Gary Olson states it is his belief that Eric Marsh was ORDERED to leave where he was and get to Yarnell to help ASAP.  Honestly that really seems to be the only way to explain the inexplicable.  If that is true and someone has not yet owned up to that, God help them.

Leah Cook
Leah Cook

A redeeming piece of journalism for the New Times.

onefingersalute
onefingersalute

The outside investigation team was requested by the State Forestry Division, and then tasked to investigate and provide a report with the results of the investigation to the State for their "review".

It appears that the team is made up of individuals that realize that to save lives in the future, the truth must come out, and they will not risk their reputations by producing a product that does anything other than that.

It should be a significant concern to all, though, that the report is the property of the State, and will be "reviewed" by the State prior to disemination.  With all the reports of potential culpability being bandied about, the State could have the motivation to alter the final product in such a way to put themselves in a better light.

They just need to let the report stand as is, verbatim, without one single change or deletion, or, as one might say, without taint.

justiceqb
justiceqb

The most bloated article I've read today. 6 pages of garble and miniature paragraphs of meaningless statements.  Tell us how they died!!!

LASERDAVE
LASERDAVE

Again David Turbyfill here,

First let me say that as a father of one of the fallen I have a lot to say and you will start to hear it if you stick around. I met with John Dougherty last weekend to cover some of my concerns about Wildland Firefighting Policies that we face here in the Western US. My concerns are not as much with the issues that John D. brings out in his articles about the Granite Mountain Hotshots, but wildland firefighting in general.

Next let me be Clear as Day here, while that I find John to be professional and publishes only what his reporting finds and leads to. But John, first I do have a problem with the with the TITLES/HEADLINE to both articles, I feel as you or the New Times have over reached and they are a bit insensitive to the community. This causes more backlashes from the Families and the Prescott Fire Department and doesn’t help your or my cause to understand the tragedy and ultimately effect policy change.

To one of the many points that the article brings up.

“The Prescott Fire Department has attempted to blend wildfire fighting and structural protection, two radically different concepts, inside one agency. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the city already is discussing reforming the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew for next season -- an idea some former hotshots find appalling.

"The absolute worst outcome from this horrible event is for the city of Prescott to get another crew," expert Gary Olson says at his Flagstaff home.

"You just killed everyone on the last one," he says of the Prescott Fire Department. "That has never happened in the history of wildland firefighting. And now you want to get another one?"

This might be a valid question and thought if you live anywhere but in Prescott. Prescott Fire has not at all blended Wildland with the Structural together in terms of Training or operational management. The crew was dedicated Wildland Fire Fighters many including my son worked for the US Forest Service.Other than Division Chief Willis whom is the retired PFD Chief and it is my understanding that he has served more than his fair share of Line time. None of the crew members came from structural or suppression. From just a practical point of view while that many of us in the community want the Hotshots rebuilt, it will take some time, as per the Federal Requirements of a IHC Type 1 team

wazzmo377
wazzmo377

What a pitiful situation Prescott and the state find themselves in... Their fire officials are cheap-ass, incompetent fools who are about to make the families of the fallen hotshots rich. Serves the chiseling, ass-covering swine right.

hurricaneric
hurricaneric moderator

And one more letter received via e-mail on August 22.

"Thanks for this great piece of investigative reporting. I am amazed that neither the local Prescott newspaper (Daily Courier) of the local E-Zine seems to be incapable of doing anything close to investigative reporting.

"It currently looks like the Prescott elected officials and top city management have adopted  'circle the wagons' strategy and it appears to me that the news releases are being written or vetted by the City Attorney. The city has also hired a Phoenix public relations firms to help with additional 'air cover' or fallout (or more accurately, CYA)."

Keep up the good work.
Jack D. Wilson
Prescott Mayor Nov. 2007-Nov. 2009

hurricaneric
hurricaneric moderator

This letter was received via e-mail on August 22.  

As a resident of Prescott , I am somewhat relieved to finally have an article come out regarding the yarnell fire and the hotshots that answered some of my questions and lead me to ask many more . One of the questions I had for a very long time was.. what ranch was the ranch the hotshots may have been going to protect ? Who owned it ? ( person /company  ) Ive only seen a rough map of the area , I cant find a ranch anywhere ? Interesting when you go to the Yavapai county assessors mapping page and put in address's from google maps they come up as none existent in trying to research parcels in the area.
From:
D.R.

bgray59
bgray59

As a former Emergency Manager and On scene Commander, I dealt with a woodlands interface with a hazardous chemicals manufacturing plant.  I managed numerous wild fires which burned onto my facility.

It is extremely difficult to tell your bosses no.  It is, however, a necessity that you refuse to carry out orders which place your responders at unnecessary risk.   If necessary one must quit before violating the trust of your crew.

If the report is factually correct, then heads should roll at all levels and those managers who falsified the records, circumvented the work rules and allowed these men to go into this inferno should be held personally and possibly criminally liable. 

bgray59
bgray59

I wonder about the ownership of the ranch and any political connections

jacksonbales
jacksonbales

Hang in there firefighter families. The truth is coming out, and you will be compensated!

Simon32
Simon32

The Arizona Forestry Division's grave mistakes need to come out and not covered up.  They need to admit they made 19 fatal mistakes.  The State Fire Marshal needs to have bona fide training but  he is incompetent and was even demoted.  These 19 fatal mistakes didn't have to happen.

mike
mike

I have no connection with firefighting, but as a physician, I feel empathy for the crew superintendent.  Some jobs carry the responsibility that if you make a mistake, people might die.  In my case, a patient might die.  However I don't kill my colleagues or myself - I can learn from my mistakes.  The crew leader here got no such second chance.  And no matter how good we are, we all make mistakes.  Whatever happened in that last 30 minutes or so, I am sure the super was devastated by the realization that he had gotten his crew killed.  And whatever actually took place, I am certain that is how he viewed it.  I cannot imagine how horrible that feeling was. 

Jenna
Jenna

Thank you for the correction. I have full sympathy for these widows. 

jabber1dee
jabber1dee

Saying there should never be another Granite Hotshot team is not the way the 19 who gave their lives doing what they believed in is right.  I would think the 19 fallen would want others to follow after what they started and were proud of.  To not form another team is sort of a "disgrace" to those fallen.  I understand completely that mistakes were made and families are suffering as I know some of them indirectly.  Those that are "hotshots" in the waiting want to honor their memories.  Some of the families want them to honor their husbands.  Its not fair to say because mistakes were made their should be no more.  You learn from your mistakes and move forward.  Police officers do the same them everyday.  We all do.  Who are we to cast the stones at them?  Who are we to say anything negative at all?  Thats not what the town of Prescott needs or the Granite Mountain Hotshots.  I say rebuild, learn from this, and go forward.

mike
mike

@dylansstp 

As I said before I am not involved in firefighting, so maybe I will sound off base.  I believe everything that was said in the comment above.  That is what makes the decision to come off the ridge so perplexing.  Experienced wildland leaders do not seem to think that decision was really a close call.  So the "Why?" question hangs over everything else here.  The other criticisms in this report might be looked at, but without the decision to come off the ridge, the disaster does not happen.  This case seems particularly tough, as the fateful decision occurred so close to the time of their demise. 

Could he have been requested/ordered to come down (granted he could have refused)?  The situation was rapidly changing that afternoon, things were happening quickly.  Could he have been told he was needed in Yarnell because lives and not just property were at risk?  That would certainly change the equation I think.  And could Chief Willis have had any role if a request/order was given?  My understanding is that he would not be in the chain of command on the fire.  He apparently also indicated he did not have any contact with them that afternoon.  Other posters here seem to think that was possible though. 

This tragedy is awful for a lot of reasons, but the fact remains that the proximate cause of the tragedy was an act of commission, not omission, about 20-30 minutes before they died.  It is going to be very hard to put this to rest if that decision is never understood. 

hotline_lz
hotline_lz

@wattsinthepan My thoughtsexactly. I know from experience what managerial pressure can do to even experienced crew bosses. I'll oblige you this time but not again you tell yourself. And you do it. It's something that goes on but is never talked about.

mike
mike

At first I was puzzled by this comment.  I cannot even contemplate what I fear you are actually saying. 

johnnymac33
johnnymac33

@justiceqb You're obviously to stupid to live. Did you ever learn to read? Or have you been on Mars lately and don't know what happened here. Try to follow here, dumbass: this story is about how the state of Arizona and the city of Prescott put 19 firefighters in harm's way and they were incinerated.

PrescottGrrrl
PrescottGrrrl

@LASERDAVE  Prescott local, here, David. John N. Maclean, the son of the late Norman Maclean (author of "Young Men and Fires" and "A River Runs through It") has authored 4 books on wildland firefighting fatalities. He has a page on Facebook (John N Maclean), and John is the person to reach out to. Many of us are begging him to research and write a book on the Yarnell Hill Fire. WFFs all across the U.S. have enormous respect for John. Please "like" his FB page and "friend" it as well. I did, and he responded to me. John is the one you'll want to talk with, in my very humble opinion. Prescott <3 forever to you and all the families of the 19+1.

wazzmo377
wazzmo377

Dave, with huge respect and sympathy for your loss, whether you want to believe it or not, the headline on this story perfectly sums up the situation based on myriad facts presented: the GM Hotshots Never Should've Been Deployed on that Fateful Day. The big reason is that some of them weren't properly t

rickaz59
rickaz59

@LASERDAVE The Hotshots were led, on the organization chart and in the field, by Eric Marsh.  Marsh was employed by the Prescott Fire Department and reported to Fire Division Chief and unofficial pastor Darrell Willis.  I don't think anyone disputes Willis comes from a structural background.  Marsh didn't start the Hotshots until 2005, and they were not certified until 2008.  Are you saying that Marsh trained and worked for Prescott entirely on wildfire training and deployment, for all of his career before 2005?  What is your source for that?

marcy
marcy

@hurricaneric 

The ranch is 0.5 miles at an angle of 254 degrees from the front loader in the picture

PrescottGrrrl
PrescottGrrrl

@hurricaneric The ranch is there; locals know which one. The ranch owners are so distraught, knowing that the 19 died nearby, that I'm not going to disclose the location. But, it is there. It would be nice if folks would respect their privacy.

nkbreen1
nkbreen1

@Simon32  I agree with you. The folks that are more conversant with the matter of fighting these awful fires, have a great advantage in discussing the final parts of this tragedy.  I am most concerned about  the decisions leading up to these awful choices that put this crew on the ground to start.

rickaz59
rickaz59

@mike Malcolm Gladwell, in a recent New Yorker blog post, wrote about research showing that 10,000 hours of practice and experience are necessary to master a skill. 

. . .This is the scholarly tradition I was referring to in my book “Outliers,” when I wrote about the “ten-thousand-hour rule.” No one succeeds at a high level without innate talent, I wrote: “achievement is talent plus preparation.” But the ten-thousand-hour research reminds us that "the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play." In cognitively demanding fields, there are no naturals. Nobody walks into an operating room, straight out of a surgical rotation, and does world-class neurosurgery.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/sportingscene/2013/08/psychology-ten-thousand-hour-rule-complexity.html

So how many hours had these firefighters practiced their skill?  Maybe a few hundred, for the younger ones.  Even the older ones hadn't been in the wildfire business most of their careers.  The defenders of these victims like to call them "professionals," but of course my barber is a professional also, and had more hours of training before he was licensed, than these temps had when they were hired. 

rickaz59
rickaz59

@jabber1dee I would like Dougherty's next story to include interviews with the fire chiefs of Flagstaff, Winslow, Sierra Vista, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.  Ask them why, if having your own little Hotshot operation is such a good idea for Prescott, they aren't doing it themselves.  As the only city in the country that went into this business, Prescott must have had some really good reasons for doing it.  Surely their brethren in other fire departments are qualified to comment on them.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@jabber1dee  I think Dougherty's point was that the team shouldn't be re-formed unless there is a renewed commitment to properly funding them, their positions and their training, there is also a renewed commitment to operating the team in a fully compliant manner, and there is a renewed commitment to operating them under a wildland fire philosophy and not a structure protection philosophy.   If Prescott FD isn't willing to commit to that then no, the team shouldn't be re-formed because it will be another disaster in waiting.

Only articles like this hold elected and administrative leaders accountable and prevent the investigative report from being just a white-wash of the events (and mistakes) that occurred.  Without someone from the outside looking in and reporting on it, there is nothing to stop the investigation board or the Prescott FD from giving everyone a free pass or misappropriating blame. 

garylolson
garylolson

@mike @dylansstp For someone who is not involved in the wildland firefighting culture, you have demonstrated a spot on grasp of the situation with your comment. You have just hit the proverbial nail on the head. BINGO!

demarco131
demarco131

Only that the crew was very religious, as are a lot of us.

wazzmo377
wazzmo377

Trained. Another huge reason is that the Feds repeatedly said no to their deployment and the state and Prescott sent them into the inferno anyhow. Feelings aside, the blunt truth has become necessary.

jasonbennett48
jasonbennett48

I'm The source. Eric was hired and worked only for granite for his whole career with Prescott fire. He never worked for structure 2005 was when we became a hotshot trainnee crew. We got certified in 08. Before that they were a type 2 wildland hand crew. Which Eric worked and ran. Get your facts right.

jacksonbales
jacksonbales

@nkbreen1 @Simon32 Couldn't agree with y'all more. The state is most to blame for this, and Prescott is guilty of trying to hide the truth. The preemptive strike that Darrell Willis tried to do at the deployment site was shameful.  Didn't work on New Times and John Dougherty. And the sack hides behind God, claims God just had another plan for these poor schmucks.  

jasonbennett48
jasonbennett48

10,000 hours !!! That's it??? The average got a hotshot to get in overtime hours in 6 months is 1000 or more!! Not including base hours. Eric worked fire for 20 years plus. Do the math bro!!!

jasonbennett48
jasonbennett48

Well, the average fire season you work 1000 hours overtime. Not including base pay. Eric was in fire for 20 years plus. Do the math bro

dylansstp
dylansstp

@rickaz59 @jabber1dee There are quite a few other fire departments in AZ that have Type 2 IA crews like Prescott did until they reached the training necessary to become a type 1 hotshot crew.  

nkbreen1
nkbreen1

@jacksonbales @nkbreen1 @Simon32 If you take those arguments to the logical extreme the Lord voted for Mayor Kuykendall too.....when all else fails in those times though, people invoke God and plan too freely. If someone could tell tell me why God really wanted this to happen....why it was his plan, i'd be interested in hearing it...

rickaz59
rickaz59

@jasonbennett48 I am not your brother.  I understand, though, the comradeship among firefighters that leads them to consider each other family.  It's one reason why the occupation is the one of the last bastions of nepotism in public employment.  

Eric Marsh was old enough to be many of these guys' father.  The more I think about it, the more I wonder if he had a physical collapse that prevented the whole team from covering the last few hundred yards to safety.  It's the "leave no man behind" mentality of the military.  With a disabled crew leader, how much experience did the second in command bring to the job?  And why were so many "highly trained" Hotshots found outside their shelters?  It's consistent with no one being around to give orders.

Now Trending

Phoenix Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...