In the wake of the Yarnell Hill fire in which 19 wildland firefighters perished, much has been written about the loss of these men and the impact on their families, their community, and their fellow firefighters. What many didn't realize about the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew was their significant contributions to community safety through mitigation and creating defensible space near homes.
A recent article in Prescott's Daily Courier illuminates the valuable work that members of the crew performed over several years in collaboration with the Prescott Area WUI Commission and with residents in nearly two dozen neighborhoods at risk from wildfire. As we've written in this space before, the longstanding work of a multitude of local, state and federal agencies along with property owners has made a real difference in the overall risk potential of homes and business in Prescott. It is only with the loss of the city's wildland fire crew that the story of their role in making Prescott safer year-round has been told in detail.
As the city continues to ponder its next steps in recovering from this loss, the message captured in the article and repeated again and again by local and national leaders is that firefighters alone cannot solve the wildfire problem. Fireprone communities throughout the US must continue to pursue ongoing safety measures, use Firewise principles, and become fire adapted.
- by NFPA's Michele Steinberg