The 19 firefighters killed Sunday in an Arizona wildfire were young, brave family men.
An elite crew of firefighters trained to battle the nation's fiercest wildfires was overtaken by an out-of-control blaze in Arizona, killing 19 members as they tried to protect themselves from the flames under fire-resistant shields.
It was the most firefighters killed battling a wildfire in the U.S. in decades.
Professional Firefighters take an oath to protect life and property. They don’t agree to die, become seriously and permanently injured, disabled or ill by virtue of their occupation but in some instances, their demise for the sake of saving a life becomes a necessity.
Their profession requires that they get as close to a fire as possible and then apply water until it is extinguished. While the water part remains unchanged (since the Stone Age), ever evolving technology allows us to get deep into and closer to fires and their hazardous environments for longer periods of time than ever before. Fighting fires and response to related emergencies has become simultaneously more efficient and dangerous at the same time. The other challenge that remains unchanged is the notion of cutting costs on the backs of firefighters and then relying on their good nature and dedication to duty to get the job done even if it is at the expense of the firefighter’s safety, health and their life.
The disaster Sunday afternoon all but wiped out the 20-member Hotshot fire crew based in nearby Prescott, leaving the city's fire department reeling. Soon their names will be added to the National Fallen Firefighters Monument but in the interim we’ll grieve with their families and loved ones.
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