Nation Mourns During Arizona Firefighter Memorial Service

As the fire service continues to try to understand the horrific turn of events that took the lives of nineteen firefighters from Prescott, AZ, on June 30, first responders from across the nation gathered on July 9 to memorialize those brave individuals. Thousands of firefighters, community members, and government officials packed an arena to pay their respects to the members of the Prescott-based Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting team who perished fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, which has destroyed thousands of acres northwest  of Phoenix, AZ.

Dignitaries such as Vice President Joe Biden, Department of Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, current Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, and Senator John McCain were on hand to pay their respects to the firefighters. The National Volunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) First Vice Chairman, Kevin Quinn (Union, RI), attended the event on behalf of the volunteer fire service.

“Representing the NVFC at the memorial service was a moving experience. I am honored that I was able to bring with me the spirit, thoughts, and prayers of nation's volunteer firefighters, rescue, and EMS first responders, as a tribute to the utmost courage and valor that these firefighters brought day in and day out,” Quinn said.

“It was also a special time for me personally, because my son, a wildland firefighter, was in attendance,” Quinn continued. “Being able to share this celebration of life of this dedicated crew and having the opportunity to meet some of my son's crew for the first time brought the memorial service close to my heart. We are extremely fortunate to have these men and women ready to respond at any moment.”

After a year filled with a tragic number of natural and man-made disasters and emergency situations, this is yet another reminder of the important role that first responders have in our nation. Amid grief and tragedy, we are reminded of the commitment and sacrifice of firefighters, EMTs, and other emergency responders every day of the year. We continue to remember all of the firefighters who have been lost in the line-of-duty, and to promote fire prevention, fire safety, and training to help reduce the number of losses and injuries.

If you would like to provide support to the survivors and coworkers of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has set up a fund to accept monetary donations. All donated funds will be used to help the survivors and coworkers as they begin to rebuild their lives. To donate, visit Firefighters who need help or emotional support during this very difficult time are encouraged to call the National Fire Services Member Assistance Program at 1-888-731-FIRE (3473) to talk with a trained counselor.