From equipment to personnel, the world of wildland fire is made up of resources. Unless you are ordered as a single resource, your identity is attached to that of your crew, base or piece of equipment. Rarely will your name appear anywhere but on a manifest. During the Yarnell Hill fire, the Granite Mountain Hotshots were assigned as "C-5" on a crew resource order. On June 30, 2014, we didn't just lose a crew, we lost 19 individuals.
Like many of you, I have struggled with the death of these 19 firefighters, the near-death of another and those who rescued him. I've studied the readily-available information and talked with those in my sphere of influence who knew members of the crew, but more questions than answers remain.
There will never be just ONE thing that can forever change to stop a similar incident from occurring in the future. Details may surface, that shed some light on the tragedy, but the point of this blog is to recognize the individual lives lost. This crew was made up of husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons, brothers, grandsons, nephews, cousins, friends, church leaders, athletes, veterans, soul mates, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, partiers, exceptional students, Boy Scouts, lovers, speakers, advocates, biologists, naturalists, bikers, motorcyclists, students of fire and leadership, outdoorsmen, EMTs, carpenters, readers and writers. Each one was more than a resource. These multi-faceted individuals added value and purpose to their families--be it blood, affinity, or work.
Post-thought: Books and movies will be written; each giving us some perspective--right or wrong--of the individuals, the crew, the fire and those involved in the fire operations and accident investigation. We should always remember to temper our thoughts and actions with care and compassion. Our values of duty, respect and integrity will provide the mechanism to deal with whatever surfaces; care and compassion will form the bond that holds us together.