The Atlantic; Fire On The Mountain. One Year Out From The Loss of The Granite Mountain Hotshots

Author Brian Mockenhaupt writing for The Atlantic offers a detailed review of the tragic loss of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots on the Yarnell Hill Fire June 30, 2013.

Mockenhaupt’s Fire On The Mountain is a long read offering details of the fire and conditions on the ground and air leading up to the deaths of the crew mates.  The ultimately conclusion is even veteran wildland firefighters can mistime or misread conditions on the ground. They saw their safety zone one half mile downhill and all considered thought they were in good shape.

Hiking out of view of the fire was definitely a mistake and certainly fire crews everywhere discuss this now more than ever before in safety briefings.

Towards the bottom of the article we get to what I believe is an inevitable response from this tragedy. Mockenhaupt points to where blame was cast. The Arizona State Division of Occupational Safety and Health determined in part as follows;

“(the) Arizona State Forestry Division, which was in charge of the fire, had provided an unsafe work environment that led to the deaths of the hotshots. The conclusion of the Safety and Health inspectors was that it had. “The employer implemented suppression strategies that prioritized protection of non-defensible structures and pastureland over firefighter safety,”

What I believe will develop from this is wildland firefighters from here forward will (rightfully) be commanded to pass over non-defensible structures as a rule.
Persons living in the interface that do not adhere to fuels clearance ordinances will be on their own. Further, those that fail to provide proper clearance can expect to be fined. Their negligence can make matters worse for complying neighboring properties and suppression efforts being undertaken to save them.

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