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Arizona Wildland Fire Deaths Lead To Chief Being Forced Out

Arizona wildland fire deaths lead to fire chief stepping down

The Arizona wildland fire deaths in June have led to the Fire Chief who lost 19 men stepping down. As soon as November 14, Fire Chief Dan Fraijo is leaving the department.

In June, a wildfire began just outside Yarnell Hill, Arizona, which took the lives of 19 firefighters remembered as some of the best the department has ever known. President Obama and Senator McCain joined forces at the time to mourn the losses of those brave men, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.

The decision to leave the department was initially called a “mutual agreement.” Fire Chief Dan Fraijo disagrees with the idea that the agreement was mutual, however, citing his employment agreement stating that either side only needed 30 days notice. Apparently the decision had been made for him.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots, also under Fire Chief Dan Fraijo’s supervision, was the only specialized fire crew in the nation run by a city, and the Arizona wildland fire deaths claimed 19 of the 20 men on that crew. Proper procedure was followed in fighting the fire, but there was a communication lapse of 33 minutes which may have been to blame in the last hour of those men’s lives as they huddled in what they thought was the “safe zone,” burning alive. There had also been a tanker filled with flame retardant chemicals hovering just overhead at the time.

That combination of facts led to the possibility that the tragedy may have been avoidable. However, according to the reports, the wind shifted around 4pm, blowing the fire which had been receding away from the Hotshots crew right back at them.

Prescott City Manager Craig McConnell told the press that he and Dan Fraijo both knew a time would come when the city would need a “more permanent fire chief.”

Hotshots supervisor Dan Fraijo said that announcement was news to him, and he’d thought that the job was permanent when they hired him. It appears the communication was lapsing beyond just the wildland fire, according to the Fire Chief now stepping down.

Arizona Fire Chief Dan Fraijo steps down

Arizona Fire Chief Dan Fraijo steps down

It also appears that Dan Bates, a Prescott firefighter and vice president of the Prescott chapter of the United Yavapai Firefighters Association, had been looking to get rid of Dan Fraijo for some time.

What do you think of the Fire Chief being forced out after the Arizona wildland fire deaths?

[images via az.gov, bloomberg.com]

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