Fire Chief Gary Roberts

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Prescott, AZ: First City with Hot Shot Crew

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PRESCOTT – When the Prescott Fire Department’s Granite Mountain wildland firefighting crew members found out that they had become the first municipal Hotshot crew in the nation, they took a moment to tear the little “t” off their rig and then immediately set off on a rugged hike to the fire line in the heart of California’s Klamath National Forest.

That “t” stood for “trainee,” a label they had worn for two years while working hard to earn the elite title of Type I Interagency Hotshot Crew.

This season alone, they responded to 13 wildfires in four states while also helping Prescott residents create wildfire-defensible space on 95 acres around 12 homes. And they spent 2,000 hours in the classroom.

By the time they heard the big news last month via a call from the home department, they had been training for five years and waiting 3.5 months to hear whether the federal government had approved their request for certification.

Granite Mountain Hotshots Superintendent Eric Marsh was getting worried that much of his crew would disband for the season before the news arrived. Eight of the 20 members have year-round jobs.

Soon the news spread, and it felt great when other Hotshot crews that had supported their efforts told them they deserved the title.

His crew’s motto comes from his college motto: Esse Quam Verdi (To Be, Rather Than To Seem).

The concept of a well-trained Hotshot crew originated with the U.S. Forest Service in California in 1947, and today 85 crews are certified. Only four are based outside of the federal government, and the other three are state or county based.

It is only appropriate for Prescott to join the Hotshot ranks, since it is the oldest city fire department in Arizona – established in 1885. The city also was the first in Arizona to adopt a wildland-urban interface building code that requires wildfire-defensible construction on homes.

Written by Daiwalkr

October 18, 2008 at 5:39 pm

Posted in Wildland Fire News