Yesterday as we were getting ready for a short getaway to celebrate my husband’s birthday, we heard about the tragedy of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot fire crew. 19 of their 20 members were killed when they were apparently overrun by the Yarnell Fire in Arizona. These courageous young men, whose ages ranged from 21 to 43, accepted a job that most others would shy away from. They put their lives on the line to help save the lives and property of others. Sadly, they were take from us far too young.
My husband started his career working as a Hot Shot firefighter while in college. He later joined the LA County Fire Department where he worked for thirty years, the last ten as the foreman of an inmate crew that performed work similar to that of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots. He rarely talks about the challenges of his job and refuses to be called a hero. He maintains he was just doing the job he signed on for. A job that took him away from me and our children for weeks at a time. I know it wasn’t an easy job and his body paid the price of the stress of a career that took him up and down mountains in high temperatures and Santa Ana winds with an ever watchful eye on the fire and, more importantly, on his crew. Whether it is a blessing, fate or luck, he survived, as most firefighters do. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the firefighters who are asked to pay the ultimate price for their courage.