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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : opinions : letters September 30, 2014

8/16/2013 6:00:00 AM
Letter: Honor Hotshots by rebuilding crew


I heard recently that some members of the Prescott City Council are unsure of whether or not to rebuild the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew, and more recently have given "tentative" approval to this issue. This wishy-washy attitude really surprises me, and I can speak with some experience in this area, as I am a retired fire battalion chief.

I can tell you without a doubt that all 19 of the Hotshots knew and accepted the risk they faced each and every time they went to a fire, full well knowing that there was always a chance that they may be seriously injured or not return to their families. Although they got paid for doing this job, that was not their only reason for being there, as they had a deeply ingrained sense of serving and helping their fellow citizens and would do that willingly anytime.

I can also say that the firefighters I have known immensely enjoyed doing their job and had a great sense of fulfillment in their accomplishments. They got paid, as it is a fact of life that they needed to support their families, but they would have done it for free if they could have.

Now the Prescott City Council is unsure of the continuation of the Hotshots. Does this mean that we did not need them in the first place and therefore they wasted their lives for an unneeded function and an ungrateful city?

Anything less than full and whole-hearted support for the rebuilding of this crew is like a slap in the face to the memories of the 19 and their families.

Dave Ridenhour


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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, August 19, 2013
Article comment by: Needed Clarification

@Something to Add Thank you so much for the clarification. Why is it that the public has heard nothing about the Prescott Hot Shots in all this fiasco?

The reporting has been all about the Granite Mtn. Hot Shots.

Thank you for your service, it is greatly appreciated. It is my thought that Prescott does not need to replace its Hot Shot Crew for just the reason you have explained. Allow the federal government to hire the crew. It seems they already have. Again, thanks!

Posted: Monday, August 19, 2013
Article comment by: Jonathan Buttall

The families will all receive huge pensions for life and free health insurance, which actual retired local government workers do not get- they pay a very high fee for insurance and their pensions are half salary.

The City of Prescott will likely go bankrupt and be unable to afford new fire fighters or insurance for the ones they still have. Most of these families did not pay into the system that will make them very well off for life.
Yes, they lost a husband and father, as did hundreds of thousands of other families in that state who still have to worry about supporting themselves and getting health care, as the media didn't push for them.

The news media has lied about this entire story from the beginning.

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2013
Article comment by: Something To Add

Prescott Hotshots started as a fuels crew in 1972. In 1973 they became a hotshot crew. They use to be based in Groom Creek and now they are based at the Prescott Fire Center next to the air port. They are a U.S. Forest Service hotshot crew made up of 20 people. Even though they are a national resource and are sent all over the country to fight wild fires they have been here in Prescott when it matter to us the most.....Indian Fire, Lane 2 Fire, Gladiator Fire, Doce Fire, large fires befor those, and smaller fires that are kept from getting big that we dont always hear about. When they are not fighting fires they are doing fuels work in and around town. Not sure why the clarification has not been made by the media about the Prescott Hotshots and the Granite Mountain Hotshots. After reading articles and comments for the past month and a half my intent is to inform people in our community. Thanks for reading my comments.

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2013
Article comment by: Prescott Hot Shots

@Something To Add...Thank you for that clarification! Too bad the Prescott Hot Shots have not been brought to the attention of the public earlier on.

I for one, did not realize that Prescott had two Hot Shot crews. Is the Prescott Hot Shot crew, federally funded and work for the Forest Service? Tell us more...how many members, etc?

So, with that in the mix, again, Prescott does not need to rehire a Hot Shot crew.

Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: Wayne red Johnson

I am an old Prescott Az. hotshot myself. Why not put a fire lookout tower on Mt Francis sw of town? that's where most problem wildfires can be spotted from & where the prevailing winds come from to blow an erratic fire into town. back in 1976 & 1977 us Prescott hotshots cut fuel breaks in that country.I well remember working with tom Kelly mark zumwalt, George Kleindeinst etc etc etc.before most newcomers moved in to town. what's up with folks having common sense anymore. seems to have gone right out the window with the vehicle they rolled in on. red

Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: Something To Add

Just want to remind people that you still have a hotshot crew and you have had them since 1973.......Prescott Hotshots........Even though they are not Prescott Fire Department or paid for by the city, they are your hotshot crew, and I am sure they take alot of pride in their work and are proud to be based out of Prescott.

Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: Ellis Bell

The "might not" comments of our city atty are decoys. Do some research, Mr Paladini. Don't just say things to make an excuse not to try.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

If I remember right, this was the only municipally run hotshot crew in the USA. If that's indeed the case, than maybe a plea to whoever normally runs these operations would be a better idea. It might be federal. I forgot.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Tongue-in-Cheek .

"Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear to Tread"
WHAT THE HELL IS THE BIG RUSH. A fresh open wound not even scabbed over is yet is painful and needs to be protected until it heals. Once healed there will always be a reminder scar, but the pain subsides.
A WISE person will normally sleep on any important decision to make sure they are doing the right thing.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: It Means that the City May Be Uninsurable

Per the Phoenix paper yesterday: "If it recreates a hotshot crew, Prescott might not be able to get insurance, City Attorney Jon Paladini said.

“What I can say is there is a likelihood that rebuilding the Granite Mountain Hotshots could leave the city uninsurable,” Paladini said.

The June 30 deaths of 19 members of the crew, all of whom were city employees, almost certainly will spike insurance premiums for Prescott and dozens of other cities throughout Arizona, Paladini said.

Prescott’s insurer told city officials in a closed-door meeting this week that the firefighters’ deaths prompted a national debate among insurance agents about the liabilities of covering higher-risk specialized municipal police, fire and rescue units, Paladini said. The event in Yarnell, it has shaken the insurance industry nationally, especially when it comes to workers’ compensation,” he said."

"Prescott is insured for liability and workers’ compensation through the Arizona Municipal Risk Retention Pool, a non-profit made up of 77 Arizona municipalities that share the cost of liabilities. The city joined the pool June 1, less than a month before the 19 died when flames overran their position near Yarnell."

Prescott is not a large city like Phoenix with substantial financial resources. If it cannot get reasonable insurance, it cannot afford to engage in certain higher risk activities, particularly if those activities are often engaged in outside of city boundaries.

All this controversy about the financial implications of the Hotshots' death may well kill the very program that the deceased firefighters loved so much. Very sad.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Dear Mr. Ridenhour

Let's at least find out what went wrong with the last Hotshot crew before we build another.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: It Never Ceases To Amaze Me

How the citizens of Prescott who write letters like this think that the city listens or cares to what they have to say.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: slap in the face comment.

Sorry Dave. The Hot Shot Crew can be honored just as well if not more, by outsourcing the H.S. Crew to private enterprise, or the federal government where undoubtedly they will be permanent employees with benefits.

Prescott does not need it's own Hot Shot Crew. This tradgedy is creating havoc and possible bankruptcy of the town and very likely will slash the firefighters budget.

Three threatening wildfires near Prescott in 25-30 years does not warrant Prescott's own private Hot Shot Crew.

Can you explain why Prescott is the only city in the U.S. to have its own Hot Shot Crew? Is it to own "bragging rights" that we should rehire a crew?

There has to be a better way to fight wildfires other than jeopardizing young, productive lives and boots on the ground.

Your back-handed "slap in the face" comment appears to be another attempt at a guilt-trip aimed at a vulnerable Prescott population.

The generous outpouring of millions of dollars, love and support, memorials, etc. is enough.
Let's move on. No more Hot Shot Crews!

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