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Author Topic: Official: 19 firefighters dead in Arizona Yarnell Hill fire - Prescott  (Read 13293 times)
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« Reply #20 on: July 04, 2013, 11:30:43 AM »

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/04/19285742-investigators-return-to-arizona-burn-zone-in-search-for-clues-to-firefighter-deaths?lite
Investigators return to Arizona burn zone in search for clues to firefighter deaths
July 4, 2013

Investigators on Thursday planned to comb the charred Arizona mountainside to learn more about how 19 highly trained firefighters lost their lives in the deadliest American wildfire in 80 years.
Besides examining the landscape, the investigators planned to use radio logs, including a mayday call, to recreate the men’s final moments before they were overcome by windswept flames on Sunday.
Investigators want to know whether the men established an escape route and took other precautions. They say they hope firefighters can apply lessons from the disaster in future fires.
“We’re really looking at and piecing together all aspects of the incident,” Jim Karels, who is leading the investigation team, told reporters Wednesday. “We’ll look at fire behavior. We’ll look at fuels.”
 
Authorities also plan to examine the more than 100 homes and businesses destroyed by the fire to make sure no one besides the 19 firefighters was killed. The blaze devastated the town of Yarnell, which has a population of about 700.
The nearby hilltop city of Prescott plans to press on with its well-known July Fourth celebration — hotels have long since been booked — but will remember the fallen firefighters in a ceremony before the fireworks.
Evacuees and relatives of the 19 killed planned to attend. Earlier this week, thousands of people poured into the Prescott High School football stadium for a memorial ceremony.
Almost $1 million has been raised for relatives of the victims.

Video at Link
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« Reply #21 on: July 04, 2013, 11:36:07 AM »

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/01/19238581-arizona-firefighters-young-dedicated-beloved?lite
Arizona firefighters young, dedicated, beloved
July 1, 2013

Jakob Schiller / Wired
Christopher MacKenzie (right) and members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew from Prescott, Arizona scout a piece of terrain before starting a burnout operation. MacKenzie along with 18 other Hotshots died Sunday while battling a wildfire north of Phoenix.


The 19 firefighters killed Sunday in an Arizona wildfire were young, brave family men.
Many followed in family footsteps when they decided to dedicate their lives to battling deadly blazes. And a number of those lost were in the beginning stages of starting their own families before they were trapped by a fast moving fire in central Arizona on Sunday.
They were a group known for being tough as nails, but with a lighter side that was needed to cope with the demands of the job.
But now, many leave behind wives and children who now understand all too well the sacrifices their loved ones made when they became firefighters. Here are their stories.
More....
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« Reply #22 on: July 04, 2013, 11:37:12 AM »

http://photoblog.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/03/19266801-faces-of-the-fallen-granite-mountain-hotshots?lite
Faces of the fallen: Granite Mountain Hotshots
July 3, 2013  (scroll over the faces of the firefighters at the link)
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« Reply #23 on: July 05, 2013, 09:51:06 AM »

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/05/photo-of-fallen-firefighters-stirs-controversy/2491043/
Photo of fallen firefighters stirs controversy
July 5, 2013

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- A photograph of 19 flags, apparently draped over body bags on a patch of charred earth, was published Thursday on a social-media page devoted to the Granite Mountain Hotshots, the firefighters who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire on Sunday.

The image appears to show the scene of where the 19 firefighters died, after an honor guard draped the body bags with flags while preparing to remove them from the hill the day after the fire.

The image turned up on a Facebook page at midafternoon Thursday with no comment, no credit and no explanation about its source. Within a few hours, almost 1,000 people had shared it on their own Facebook pages.

The picture immediately triggered a debate on the page over the sensitivity of posting the photo. It drew a claim from at least one family member that the image was intended to stay private, though it was unclear who would have made that commitment. It also elicited outrage from a fire department official.

The bodies of the 19 members of the hotshot crew were removed Monday and taken to Phoenix to undergo autopsies.

The photo was posted on a page devoted to the team, although under the "about" section, it is described as "a community, news, and donation page (that) is not directly related to the Granite Mountain Hotshots personally."
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« Reply #24 on: July 07, 2013, 09:47:32 PM »

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-arizona-firefighters-prescott-crowds-20130707,0,5775918.story
Arizona wildfire: Prescott welcomes Granite Mountain hotshots home
July 7, 2013

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- They waited hours in 100-degree heat, waving American flags, purple balloons and signs with messages from a community that vowed never to forget the Granite Mountain hotshots and their sacrifice.

The bodies of 19 firefighters killed combating the Yarnell Hill blaze that burned through nearly 8,400 acres in central-west Arizona had been released from the Maricopa County medical examiner's office in Phoenix on Sunday. Crowds gathered to honor them along the way and welcome them home.

Spectators who had been talking, sitting on rocks and licking ice cream cones began pushing their way to the edge of the sidewalk as a stream of police cars and motorcycles materialized around a bend. Then came 19 white hearses, each with the name of the firefighter it carried printed on a placard in a window.
Some clapped as the procession made its way through. Others held signs: "God Bless Our Firefighters." "They will never be forgotten." "Thank you. We love you."

On one corner, someone had placed 19 white crosses shrouded in a gauzy purple fabric. Down the street, someone released 19 purple balloons.

"Here, everyone feels the pain in the loss of these lives," said Rayna Yoss, a native of San Pedro who retired to Prescott in 2010.

The procession cut through scrubby desert terrain and small towns. It stopped close to the place in Yarnell where the fast-moving blaze overran the firefighters on June 30.

In Prescott, where the Granite Mountain hotshots were based, hundreds of people lined the route. Many arrived hours early.
 

Photo Gallery of Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona.  (38 images)
  http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-arizona-yarnell-wildfire-pictures,0,4416681.photogallery
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« Reply #25 on: July 07, 2013, 09:53:12 PM »

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/07/arizona-hotshot-firefighters-return-home/2497433/
Fallen Arizona firefighters return home
July 7, 2013


(Photo: Michael Chow, The Arizona Republic)

PHOENIX -- After a solemn procession that took more than four hours, traveling from downtown Phoenix through Wickenburg, Congress and Yarnell, Ariz., the bodies of the 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30 have been returned home to Prescott, Ariz.

The closely watched, slow-moving caravan of 20 white hearses reached the outskirts of Prescott, where the doomed Granite Mountain Hotshots crew was based, at 4 p.m. PT on Sunday.

What appeared to be thousands of people lined the streets to welcome their firefighters home. As the procession entered downtown, some held their hands over their hearts while others cheered, saluted and wept.

The 19 members of the hotshot squad perished June 30 in the worst wildfire tragedy in Arizona history and the worst in the nation since 1933. Their bodies, which had been in the custody of the Maricopa County (Ariz.) Medical Examiner's office for most of last week, arrived at the entrance of the Yavapai County Fairgrounds on the way to the nearby Medical Examiner's Office in Prescott Valley around 4:40 p.m. Sunday.

A plane circling the fairgrounds dropped two sets of 19 purple streamers in the distance to herald the return of the bodies. The crowd was silent except for the sound of people taking pictures.
 
The fallen firefighters' Phoenix colleagues had been taking care of the bodies since early last week. An honor guard and crossed ladders received the bodies Monday when they arrived for autopsies.

Large crowds gathered along Phoenix streets for the emotional send-off. An ensemble bagpipe band played as the vehicles emerged from a parking garage. Firetrucks from Phoenix extended their ladders as a salute, with a large American flag hung between them. Trucks from other Valley fire departments also lined the street.

The procession met a similar outpouring of support at every turn along its journey.
 
In Yarnell, the procession passed by rows of fire trucks, emergency vehicles and a string of 19 Arizona Public Service Co. utility vehicles, many of which displayed American and Arizona flags.

Firefighters in full dress lined up along the street.

The hearses, each of which bore the name of the firefighter inside, were escorted Sunday by two dozen motorcycle officers, including five from the Prescott Police Department. There also were four trucks from the Prescott Hotshots and two from the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
More...

Video at Link
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« Reply #26 on: August 07, 2013, 08:28:53 AM »

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/08/07/widow-fallen-arizona-hotshot-firefighter-seeks-death-benefits/
Widow of fallen Arizona Hotshot firefighter seeks death benefits
August 7, 2013

The young widow of a firefighter who died with 18 others while battling an Arizona wildfire in June has reportedly been denied the lifetime benefits she sought to raise the couple’s four children.

Juliann Ashcraft, 28, said she will receive workers’ compensations and a one-time federal payment of $328,000 in the death of her 29-year-old husband Andrew, who was among the Granite Mountain Hotshots who were killed on June 30 while fighting a wildfire near Yarnell, CBS reports.

“I want to be able to just be mourning my husband, be supporting my children, be figuring out what our new normal is,” Ashcraft told CBS. “As shocked as I was that my husband went to work and never came home, I’m equally shocked in how the city has treated our family since then.”

But Ashcraft was told that her husband and 12 others among the group were seasonal employees whose relatives are not entitled to the millions in lifetime salaries and health benefits, even though he worked 40 hours a week. Just six families of the 19 firefighters killed will receive the benefit packages, CBS reports.

“I said to them, ‘My husband was a full-time employee, he went to work full-time for you,’” she said. “And their response to me was, ‘Perhaps there was a communication issue in your marriage.’”

Ashcraft, who may sue the city of Prescott, said she had been counting on those funds to raise the couple’s four children, the youngest of whom is 18 months old.
 
Ashcraft’s mother, Deborah Pfingston, has planned a news conference Wednesday in Prescott. It was originally scheduled for Tuesday.

Pfingston said city officials promised they would retroactively reclassify the seasonal, temporary employees as permanent so the families could receive additional survivor benefits.

City officials have countered that they cannot legally and posthumously reclassify the men as full-time employees so their families can receive additional benefits, including health insurance.

City spokesman Pete Wertheim told The Associated Press that six of the firefighters were permanent employees. Thirteen, including Ashcraft, were seasonal.
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« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2013, 10:33:50 AM »

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57597545/hotshots-families-may-get-full-time-benefits-under-draft-bill/
Hotshots' families may get full-time benefits under draft bill
August 8, 2013

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« Reply #28 on: August 08, 2013, 10:34:49 AM »

http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-201_162-10017398.html
Fallen firefighters remembered

Photo gallery with seventeen images.
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« Reply #29 on: August 13, 2013, 09:53:16 PM »

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/13/officials-firefighters-not-promised-full-time-jobs/2650963/
Officials: Firefighters not promised permanent jobs
August 13, 2013

The city of Prescott, Ariz., looked into whether any of the firefighters who were considered seasonal employees were told that a permanent job was forthcoming before they were killed on June 30.

PHOENIX -- Officials in Prescott, Ariz., have found no evidence that part-time firefighters working on the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew were promised full-time positions, city officials announced Tuesday.

The announcement was the result of an internal inquiry by city officials to determine whether any of the wildland firefighters who were considered seasonal employees were told that a permanent job was forthcoming before they were killed while battling a wildfire on June 30 near Yarnell.

Of the 19 who died, six were classified as permanent employees by the city, which employed the crew as part of the fire department. The other 13, the city has said, were seasonal employees.

That status — whether each man was classified as a permanent or seasonal worker — is the key factor in benefits paid to their survivors. Families of the six permanent members are eligible for benefits that include health insurance, life insurance and pension payments that could be worth millions of dollars more than those allotted to the other 13.

Firefighters Andrew Ashcraft's widow, Juliann, and the father of firefighter Christopher MacKenzie have both asserted that they believe their relatives merited the benefits of a permanent job. Juliann Ashcraft has said her husband worked full-time hours and was recently given a promotion to a job she says merited full benefits; Mackenzie's father has said his son was promoted earlier this year and was in his probationary period for a full-time job.

City personnel files reviewed by The Arizona Republic list the men as seasonal workers.

According to a city statement issued Tuesday afternoon, "no improper promises were made to promote Granite Mountain Hotshots seasonal employees to permanent positions."

The statement quoted Darrell Willis, a division chief who oversaw the crew, saying he never promised to promote any of the seasonal members.
 
MacKenzie and Ashcraft had both applied for job openings for permanent spots on the crew, which went to other candidates. According to records of their test scores, MacKenzie had been next in line for the most recent position, followed by Ashcraft.

The fire department had requested two additional permanent positions in this year's budget process, but city management, facing a tight budget, decided not to include them in the final plan submitted to the City Council.

Payroll records also show that MacKenzie was given a pay raise for additional duties, though they classify him as a temporary or seasonal employee.

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« Reply #30 on: August 13, 2013, 09:56:18 PM »

http://www.azfamily.com/news/Battle-Over-Firefighter-Benefits-219500141.html
Battle over firefighter benefits in Prescott
August 13, 2013

 
As it stands now, the families of those seasonal employees killed get:

1. $2,700/month (tax free) workman's compensation death benefit (monthly, paid for by the city's insurer, the Arizona Municipal Risk Retention Pool (http://www.amrrp.com)
2. $328,612.73 - Federal Department of Justice Death Benefit (one-time, paid for by the federal government)
3. Free in-state tuition for herself and her kids. And, the federal college stipend for the kids.
4. Education Assistance  from the feds $987 a month for room and board
5. Arizona tuition waivers for spouse and children
6. Social security
The families of those permanent employee also get:
1. Life Insurance Payment: $100,000 (one time, paid by the insurance company)
2. Access to health insurance at the employee rate: Benefits vary depending on plan chosen, etc., but the estimated cost to the City of Prescott is $750/month
3. Lifetime pension benefits paid monthly by the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System of the State of Arizona (PSPRS). This benefit depends on compensation at the time of death, and earnings in previous years.
Seasonal employees do not pay into the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System. Still, Speaker Andy Tobin would have all benefits extended to all firefighters killed fighting a fire on state land.
“At the end of the day, they work hand in hand and use the same shovel so in the end I think they should be treated the same,” said Tobin. “I think they should all be treated the same, either have a pension based on what they paid in or a life policy or health benefits something proportionate and respectful.”
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« Reply #31 on: September 28, 2013, 08:58:27 AM »

It's been a really hard year for fire fighters and their families.   

http://www.kvue.com/news/national/225617292.html
Report to detail blaze, deaths of 19 firefighters
September 28, 2013

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — A highly anticipated report examining weather conditions, radio traffic and fire behavior, among other things, is expected to help explain how 19 members of an elite firefighting crew died while battling an Arizona wildfire. Officials, however, said it won't assign blame.
The Arizona State Forestry Division was set to present the roughly 120-page report to the men's families ahead of a news conference planned for Saturday morning in Prescott.
All but one member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew died June 30 while protecting the small former gold rush town of Yarnell, about 80 miles northwest of Phoenix, from an erratic lightning-sparked wildfire.
Early reports showed the fire caused little immediate concern because of its remote location and small size when it began June 28. But the blaze quickly grew into an inferno, burning swiftly across pine, juniper and scrub oak and through an area that hadn't experienced a significant wildfire in nearly 50 years.
The 20-member Granite Mountain Hotshots team arrived early on the morning of June 30 and headed into the boulder-strewn mountains. About nine hours later, the crew radioed that they were trapped by flames and deploying emergency shelters. Only one crew member who was assigned as the lookout survived.
The fire ended up destroying more than 100 homes and burned 13 square miles before it was fully contained on July 10.
No other wildfire had claimed more firefighters in 80 years, and it was the deadliest single day for fire crews since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Granite Mountain team was unique among the nation's roughly 110 Hotshot crews as the first and only such unit attached to a municipal fire department.
It wasn't clear why the firefighters left the relative safety of a ridge top or if they had received warnings of the erratically changing weather that whipped the blaze into an unpredictable inferno when they dropped down into a bowl surrounded by mountains on three sides.
At one point, officials asked for half of the available western U.S. heavy air tanker fleet — six planes — to try to control the blaze. Five weren't deployed because of the limited number in the nation's aerial firefighting fleet and the dangerous weather conditions at the time. One plane was heading to Arizona from California but engine problems forced it to turn back.
Forestry officials have said that even if the planes had been available, winds were so strong they couldn't have been used to save the firefighters' lives.
Some family members hope the investigation will explain why their loved ones died. Others say it will do nothing to ease their pain.
 
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« Reply #32 on: September 28, 2013, 02:54:40 PM »

http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-yarnell-fire-report-20130928,0,6593973.story
No negligence in deaths of 19 Arizona firefighters, report says
September 28, 2103


Prescott, Ariz., firefighter Wade Ward stands alone in July at the fenced-in site where 19 firefighters died battling an wildfire on June 30. (Matt York / Associated Press / July 23, 2013)

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- Investigators found no evidence of recklessness or negligence in the Yarnell Hill wildfire that killed 19 Prescott, Ariz., firefighters in June, raising questions about how similar tragedies could be prevented in the future.
“The judgments and decisions of the incident management organizations managing this fire were reasonable,” concluded a report commissioned by the state of Arizona that was released Saturday. “Firefighters performed within their scope of duty, as defined by their respective organizations.”

The report, produced by a team of local, state and federal investigators convened from around the country, “found no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol,” though it did note some problems with radio communication.
The crew of 20 “hotshot” firefighters from the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew were found to be appropriately rested and trained when the blaze near Yarnell, a rural community in central Arizona, rapidly expanded with the help of high winds.

The area around Yarnell, thick with chaparral, was “primed to burn” after not experiencing a wildfire for more than 45 years, and the flames overtook 19 of the firefighters, as well as more than 100 buildings in Yarnell. The report called many of the Yarnell buildings “not defendable.”

The 20th crew member was separated from his comrades and survived.

According to the report, the 19 firefighters all died huddling next to one another, sheltering in a 24-by-30-foot area as temperatures reached 2,000 degrees.

But the report delivered little insight into what, exactly, the crew members were thinking or their actions in the half-hour before their deaths.

“There is much that cannot be known about the crew’s decisions and actions prior to their entrapment and fire shelter deployment at around [4:42 p.m.],” the report said, noting that heavy radio traffic had caused some confusion and that “some radios were not programmed with appropriate tone guards.”
 

Officials planned to hold a news conference to discuss the findings Saturday morning.

The full report and a video explaining the report are embedded in bottom of article at above link.
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« Reply #33 on: September 28, 2013, 03:05:17 PM »

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/report-detail-blaze-deaths-19-firefighters-20404776
Radio Problems Cited in Deaths of 19 Firefighters
September 28, 2013

A three-month investigation into the June deaths of 19 firefighters killed while battling an Arizona blaze cites poor communication between the men and support staff, and reveals that an airtanker carrying flame retardant was hovering overhead as the firefighters died.

The 120-page report released Saturday found that proper procedure was followed and assigned little of blame for the worst firefighting tragedy since Sept. 11, 2001.

All but one member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew died June 30 while protecting the small former gold rush town of Yarnell, about 80 miles northwest of Phoenix, from an erratic, lightning-sparked wildfire.

While maintaining a neutral tone, the investigation found badly programmed radios, vague updates, and a 33-minute communication blackout just before the flames engulfed the men. Investigators did not consider whether better communication might have saved the men.

The report provides the first minute-to-minute account of the fatal afternoon. The day went according to routine in the boulder-strewn mountains until the wind shifted around 4 p.m., pushing a wall of fire that had been receding from the hotshots all day back toward them.

After that, the command center lost track of the 19 men. The firefighters either ignored or did not receive weather warnings. They left the safety of a burned ridge and dropped into a densely vegetated valley surrounded by mountains, heading toward a ranch. The report states that they failed to perceive the "excessive risk" of repositioning to continue fighting the fire.

The command center believed the hotshots had decided to wait out the weather change in the safety zone. They did not find out the men were surrounded by flames and fighting for their lives until five minutes before they deployed their emergency shelters, which was more than a half hour after the weather warning was issued.

Without the guidance of the command center, the men bushwhacked into a location that soon turned into a bowl of fire. The topography fostered long flames that bent parallel and licked the ground, producing 2,000 degree heat. Fire shelters, always a dreaded last resort, begin to melt at 1,200 degrees.

As the flames whipped over the men, a large air tanker was hovering above. But perhaps because of an early miscommunication about where the hotshots were headed, the command center did not know where to drop the flame retardant, the report said.

"Nobody will ever know how the crew actually saw their situation, the options they considered or what motivated their actions," investigators wrote.

Though the report points to multiple failures, investigators approached the incident "from the perspective that risk is inherent in firefighting." They recommend that Arizona official review their communications procedures and look into new technologies, including GPS, that might help track firefighters during chaotic situations.

The Arizona State Forestry Division presented the roughly 120-page report to the men's families ahead of a news conference Saturday morning in Prescott.
 
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« Reply #34 on: October 06, 2013, 09:01:02 AM »

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57606220/ariz-fire-chief-of-19-dead-hotshots-says-hes-being-forced-out/
Ariz. fire chief of 19 dead Hotshots says he's being forced out
October 6, 2013

PRESCOTT, ARIZ. The chief of the Arizona fire department that lost 19 wildland firefighters in June says he is being forced out of his job.

Prescott City Manager Craig McConnell told The Daily Courier that Chief Dan Fraijo is leaving by "mutual agreement" effective Nov. 15.

Fraijo disagreed.

"Mutual? No," he said. "There's an agreement that when I was hired that said, at any given time, either side could give 30 days' notice and I would leave or could leave."
 
McConnell said he met with Fraijo on Thursday and they discussed how Fraijo stepped in on an interim basis in May 2012 and the changes that followed, including his appointment as Prescott fire chief in February.

McConnell added that he and Fraijo "knew the time would come when the city would be seeking a more permanent fire chief."

Fraijo said that was news to him.

"That may be his intention," Fraijo told the Courier. "He did not have to tell me the reason, and I don't want to come across as angry, (but) permanent? Permanent to me was I had the job."

City officials didn't say why the decision was made. In the months since the tragedy, however, the Arizona Republic noted a rift between some city officials and the Fire Department had become apparent. In an earlier interview, Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall alluded to tension between city officials and the area's fire union.

Kuykendall would not answer detailed questions about Fraijo's exit Friday night, saying city officials would release information about it Monday.

Dan Bates, a Prescott firefighter who is also vice president of the Prescott chapter of the United Yavapai Firefighters Association, told the Republic the news was "horrific" and left the department "shell-shocked."

"The magnitude of losing 25 percent of our guys ... and a blow at this time for a chief that was so well supported and putting us in a direction ... it's awful."

Bates said city officials "looked at getting rid" of Fraijo last year.

"We made an appeal across the floor and all the guys wanted his leadership to continue. We talked with the council and they reversed that decision."
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« Reply #35 on: October 07, 2013, 10:07:54 AM »

http://www.azcentral.com/news/arizona/articles/20131004prescott-fire-chief-departure-reasons-unclear.html
Reasons behind departure of Prescott fire chief unclear
October 6, 2013

 


It is unclear what is prompting the departure of Fraijo, a familiar face around town. An investigative report released a week ago on the wildfire found “no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol” on the part of the firefighters, and concluded the fire that overtook the men was not survivable.

In the months since the tragedy, however, a rift between some city officials and the Fire Department became increasingly evident. In an earlier interview with The Republic, the mayor alluded to tension between city officials and the area’s fire union.

On Friday night, Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall would not answer detailed questions about Fraijo’s exit, saying city officials would release information about it on Monday.

“As a matter of fact, this was finally, this afternoon (Friday), agreed on,” the mayor said.

Asked if Fraijo was fired, he responded, “Not at all. It was a mutual agreement between he and the city manager.”

Fraijo reports to City Manager Craig McConnell.

Kuykendall said Fraijo’s departure is not tied to the investigative report. “Not at all. There’s circumstances and they will be totally explained and it’s very amicable on everybody’s part.”

Not according to Fraijo, who when reached Friday night said, “It was not my idea.”

He said when he agreed to take the position permanently in February, part of his agreement was that either he or the city, through a “separation agreement,” could end his employment with 30 days’ notice.

“That part has been exercised,” he said. “I am honoring the agreement that I made. The city manager made a decision that he could make, and that’s where we left it.”

Fraijo said the city manager did not explain why the city wanted him to leave.

“We didn’t talk about that,” Fraijo, 70, said from his home in Prescott. “His feeling was that I guess it was time for me to go.”

Asked how his department would take the news, Fraijo said, “I don’t think they’re going to particularly like it. I don’t think the timing’s good, but … that’s what he wanted and I had to respect that.”

He said it was his view that he was running the department well.

Fraijo said he did not believe the decision was a response to the investigative report. Asked if it could be tied to the department’s relationship with the unions, he said, “That’s something the city manager would have to address.”

Fraijo began his firefighting career with the Phoenix Fire Department in 1965. His tenure with Prescott dates to May 2012, when he was hired as interim fire chief. He became fire chief in February.

Dan Bates, a Prescott firefighter who is also vice president of the Prescott chapter of the United Yavapai Firefighters Association, said the news is “horrific.”

“The magnitude of losing 25 percent of our guys … and a blow at this time for a chief that was so well supported and putting us in a direction … it’s awful.”

Bates said the department is “shell-shocked,” adding, “to have this happen now is one of the worst things we can see.”

Bates said that last fall, city officials “looked at getting rid” of Fraijo.

“We made an appeal across the floor and all the guys wanted his leadership to continue. We talked with the council and they reversed that decision.”

Bates said the news comes as city officials are expected to ask the International City/County Management Association to closely review Prescott police, fire and dispatch operations.

Such reviews are common at cities nationwide, city spokesman Pete Wertheim said, and it has been under consideration by Prescott for several years.
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« Reply #36 on: June 30, 2015, 08:41:19 AM »

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-ff-yarnell-fire-settlement-20150629-story.html
Families of Yarnell Hill firefighters settle legal claims with state
June 30, 2015

Te families of 12 men killed in one of the deadliest wildfires in the nation’s history have reached a settlement with the state of Arizona, ending a strained yearlong negotiation that divided the town of Prescott and raised questions about training and how the state fights fires.

The families of 12 of the 19 Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew members settled for $50,000 each, according to a copy of the settlement agreement. The agreement was announced Monday, one day before the second anniversary of the deaths.

A workplace lawsuit also announced Monday will ensure the families of the other seven firefighters killed on June 28, 2013, will receive $10,000 each from the Arizona State Forestry Division.

In addition to the financial settlements, the Forestry Division also agreed to make improvements in how it manages fires, including overhauling its radio communication efforts.

The Forestry Division also pledged to encourage the National Wildfire Coordination Group, a federal interagency firefighting group, to create a course that addresses “the reality of death,” and instructs firefighters to make estate planning and custody arrangements.
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  " Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."  - Daniel Moynihan
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