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Was the PFD "hero" & "sacrifice" rhetoric a causal factor of the 6-30-13 YH Fire and GMHS deaths?

Author: Fred J. Schoeffler

Restating the post title beyond Wix title allowance: Was the Prescott Way Prescott FD "hero" and "sacrifice" rhetoric a causal factor of the June 30, 2013, YH Fire and GMHS fatalities?

Views expressed to "the public at large” and "of public concern"

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Abbreviations used below: Wildland Firefighters (WFs) - Firefighters (FFs).


No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; … any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne (1572-1631) English poet, scholar, soldier, and secretary. considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets.

WW II veteran First Lt. Richard D. Winters spoke of how experiencing combat (and by proper extension wildland firefighting) shaped men: "Wars do not make men great, but they do bring out the greatness in good men,"

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. Romans 15: 1-2 (KJV)


"Stand behind truth-tellers. Courage is contagious. When one truth-teller comes forward, others follow. You may never have the opportunity to be a truth=teller, but it's within your power to support truth-telling for generations to come. When the integrity of our government and corporations is under attack, [truth-tellers] first-hand knowledge, sense of duty, and bravery as witnesses to corruption, crimes, or abuse of power are strong tools to fight back." Government Accountability Project (11/29/21)

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 (KJV)


Please spend some time to judiciously wend your way through the many articles, blogs, research papers, and videos concerning this YHFR post title question regarding heroes, heroism, sacrifice in order to come to your own conclusion(s) about this predictable and preventable June 30, 2013, Yarnell Hill Fire and GMHS debacle.

Figure 1. An illusion. Squint and focus on the white as figures and black as the background, you see a world full of angels and tutus dancing. Focusing on the black as figures and white as the background reveals a world full of demons. Source: M. C. Escher, Zimbardo

According to Zimbardo, "There is no clear line between good and evil, being permeable, allows people to cross back and forth between it. This is an idea wonderfully represented in an illusion. What M.C. Escher, a Dutch graphic artist, who made mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints is telling us is that the world is filled with angels and devils, goodness and badness, and these dark and light aspects of human nature are our basic yin and yang. That is, we all are born with the capacity to be anything. Because of our incredible brains, anything that is imaginable becomes possible, anything that becomes possible can get transformed into action, for better or for worse." (Zimbardo) Zimbardo is the world-renowned psychologist perhaps best known for his infamous Stanford Prison Experiment discussed in the text below Stanford Prison Experiment.

Norb Szczurek says October 6, 2015 at 10:34 am - I really don’t know why, if this is what happened it is being covered up. My only thought is that maybe due to the ineffectiveness from the early stages of this fire they don’t want a lot of detail to become public – I don’t really know I do think (if this is what happened) I agree with you and Marti in the fact that it makes the effort even more heroic. (emphasis added)

"Gary Olson says October 4, 2015 at 1:47 am - 2. Darrell Willis et al, put so much pressure on them to be hero’s (sic), make good press, risk a lot to save a lot, and thereby save the crew from the Prescott City Council chopping block because they weren’t revenue neutral or actually making money for the City of Prescott AND someone, or multiple someone’s, in a position of authority over Eric Marsh came up with a last minute Hail Mary Plan to back fire the backside of Yarnell from a hastily constructed dozer line and talked Marsh into buying into it and unfortunately, you have to add everything in Number 1 as well. (emphasis added)

In a December 2019 Prescott Living article about the Prescott FD, their Fire Chief stated: "Humility is a trait carried by most first responders that serve this community. Often categorized as 'heroes,' all those who serve readily downplay the tag and attribute their efforts as being 'just part of the job.'” (emphasis added) Delving further into this local news media will explain the article's "hero" statement because they have an entire special section titled: Everyone Can Be a Hero." It's generally accepted that Structural and Municipal FDs consider themselves as such. However, wildland firefighters are far from being considered first responders.

All the GMHS families, friends, and loved ones declared the GMHS accordingly: "They died heroes." President BO "hailed the fallen as heroes."

Former PFD Fire Chief Fraijo said the victims 'were dedicated, hardworking, well-trained, experienced people. ... Whatever may have happened there will be understood someday.'" (emphasis added) USA Today July 1, 2013

On the contrary, whatever did, in fact, happen there will be understood someday, if and only if, there are truth-tellers to stay the course. And for hard-core naysayers and hero worshippers to cease the hero worship and admit that fatal, causal mistakes were clearly made that day. The only true heroes are the Rookie GMHS who only knew to trust their supervisors to abide by their solemn supervisory duty to ensure the safety and welfare of those they supervise.

In a July 1, 2013, The Two Way NPR article of the YH Fire and GMHS debacle posted: "In a statement issued by the White House early Monday, President Barak Obama [PBO] called the fallen firefighters heroes." Here's the president's statement: "Yesterday, nineteen firefighters were killed in the line of duty while fighting a wildfire outside Yarnell, Arizona. They were heroes — highly skilled professionals ..." (emphasis added)

It was interesting to note PBO's statement regarding the Federal Government: "The federal government is already assisting, and we will remain in close contact with state and local officials to provide the support they need." According to both a SAIT member and an AZ Dept. of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) investigator, it was obvious to them that the USFS was "controlling the investigation" because the USDA Forest Service funded the YH Fire Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) and ensuing Report (SAIR). Ironically, the USFS personnel on the YH Fire was limited to the Blue Ridge Hot Shots, most of the aircraft and the Aerial Firefighting Utilization and Effectiveness (AFUE) Study, and a few misc. overhead positions. The article also noted: "Officials are promising an investigation into what happened." Of course, they are! So that they could control the no blame, no-fault narrative. Because with Federal USFS Funding comes Federal USFS control. (emphasis added)

There is also the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) link that has family, friends, and loved ones' testimonials for nine of the GMHS within the Prescott Living media well worth viewing.

A local Prescott business, Crystal Creek Builders had this to say: "It was a tragedy that the community of Prescott will never forget. On June 30th, 2013, nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots died fighting the Yarnell Hill wildfire. The lives of these heroes were unexpectedly cut short and are still mourned and remembered. ... May we never forget the brave Granite Mountain Hotshots heroes who perished protecting the community of Yarnell, Arizona." (emphasis added)

A July 10, 2013, Orange County Register article by David Whiting titled: "Whiting: Hotshots as heroic as they come" where the author used the words and phrases hero, heroism, life on the line, and sacrifice quite a lot.

Figure 2. (left) Orange County Fire Authority firefighter Seth Andres warms up on the bass drum just before the GMHS memorial service Tuesday in Prescott Valley, Ariz., for the 19 Hotshots who died in a wildfire June 30. Andres is a member of the OCFA Pipes and Drums. Figure 2a.(right) Firefighters from Sacramento stand during the National Anthem during a memorial service for the 19 fallen Hotshots firefighters. Source: Whiting, Orange County Register

Discussing the GMHS Memorial Service in Prescott Valley, Whiting's article notes:

"As the memorial continues, you find yourself contemplating what defines a hero. "But what if we had no one willing to face towering walls of fire racing at gale-force speeds?"

"Consider that it was only six years ago that a dozen firefighters in Orange County were forced to deploy their final-hope fire sacks that were similar to the ones that the Yarnell 19 died in. Our firefighters were fortunate. They lived. I don’t recall any celebrations for those firefighters, standing ovations calling them heroes." (emphasis added)

Say what? "Forced to deploy"? And no "celebrations" or "standing ovations calling them heroes"? Are you kidding me? Minus all hindsight bias, they had several options to escape harm besides deploying their fire shelters. And standing ovations and hero staus because they deployed their "fire shelters? With all due respect - WTF?

"Perhaps the definition of a hero is personal."

"Pastor Ron Merrell of Heights Church takes the stage and addresses his God: 'It felt like a bit of hell these last few weeks for the Granite Mountain Hotshots. … Would you please replace the despair with hope? We’re desperate to see some heaven now.'”

"Merrell continues, giving his perspective on when someone becomes a hero: 'These men were heroes before they lost their lives.'” (italics and underline added)

"Tim Hill, president of the Professional Firefighters of Arizona, echoes Merrell, noting that the 19 who died knew of the terrible risks battling wildfires. Hill says, 'We gather in honor of the sacrifice of our members.'” (italics and underline added)

"Yes, sacrifice." (italics and underline added[)


Clueless O'Biden. The memorial service is for the GMHS, a municipal wildland Fire Hot Shot Crew, and he is talking about municipal firefighters saving his home when it was hit by lightning - allegedly - or just making that s**t up? Either way, it is a False Analogy fallacy and comparing apples and oranges.


"But Biden uses the word “hero” so often it devalues one of the most significant nouns in the English language.

"[O'Biden] takes the podium and immediately addresses the heroism issue. He calls the firefighters who saved his sons in a tragic car wreck heroes. He adds that heroes saved his home when lightning hit." (italics and underline added)

O'Biden has obviously confused the OCFA municipal firefighters with the AZ State Forestry wildland firefighters.

Goethals, G.R and Allison, S.T. (2012) Making Heroes: The Construction of

Courage, Competence, and Virtue. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 46: People use the term hero frequently in our culture, and most people can easily name several heroes. Our research explores how people think about heroes as well as the determinants of heroic behavior. People's heroes may be real-world figures or fictional characters. They are thought to be competent enough to achieve at a high level, moral enough to do the right thing in difficult situations, or both. People's conceptions of heroes reflect both schemas about what heroes are like and narrative structures about how they act. We consider the possibility that images of heroes and common hero narratives reflect evolutionarily based archetypes. Given that typical conceptions of heroes include high levels of competence and morality, we consider aspects of self, including self-efficacy, self-affirmation, self-theories of intelligence, self-guides, and self-control that enable people to achieve at high levels and to act morally, even when doing so is difficult. We discuss research showing that people's needs for heroes prepare them to perceive struggle and to root for underdogs. Work on a death positivity bias and admiration for martyrs illustrates the centrality of self-sacrifice in hero schemas and the perceptions of heroes. Finally, we propose a taxonomy of heroes based on various dimensions of influence such as strength, duration, direction, exposure, and origins. The subtypes of heroes in our taxonomy are Transforming, Transfigured, Traditional, Transparent, Transposed, Tragic, Transitional, Transitory, and Trending. In addition, we consider a Transcendent Hero category, referring to heroes who affect their admirers in ways that combine the influences of other types.

Consider now several July 23, 2013, GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference PFD Darrell Willis Comments.

Figure 3. GMHS Deployment Zone - Fatality Site News Conference (July 23, 2013) PFD Darrell Willis Comments. Part 1 of 2 Source: YouTube, John Dougherty

Figure 3a. GMHS Deployment Zone - Fatality Site News Conference (July 23, 2013) PFD Darrell Willis Comments. Part 2 of 2 Source: YouTube, John Dougherty

Granite Mountain Hotshot Shelter Deployment Site, Yarnell, AZ (7-23-13) PFD Willis comments"

... I would have followed them blindfolded... “ Suggesting Groupthink here. A recognized Hazardous Attitude.

they emphasized ... (LCES), ... , however, there are points during that workday... you don’t have all of those standards in place...especially with them moving, couldn’t leave anybody behind. ... wouldn’t have left anybody behind“ Contradicting established wildland fire safety protocols.

“... just one of those things that happened... you can call [it] an accident...” This was clearly NO accident that just happened!

... it’s a very common occurrence... backfiring [around yourself to create a Safety Zone ...” Negative! Just because the GMHS had done this several times on the 2012 Holloway Fire (and elsewhere?) fails to achieve "common occurrence" status.

More contradictory, inexplicable statements by PFD Wildland BC Willis: “we were able to monitor the radio frequencies ... no [WF] is satisfied sitting there [in a Safety/Zone] and watching the fire progress without ... taking some action ... they died with honor, ... stuck together, ... saw / felt the same way ... protected themselves as a last resort ... picked the best location in this bowl ... **why do [FF] run into burning buildings** ... it’s ingrained in them ... not going to sit up there when... potential for people to be at risk somewhere.” (**Fallacy of False Equivalence or False Analogy** enormous ‘leap’ from structure to wildland fire)

Source: Human Factors Influenced the 30 June 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire Fatalities PowerPoint converted to a PDF from the Central Arizona Wildfire Response Team (CAWRT) Refresher Training March 23-24, 2016, at the

Glendale Regional Public Safety Training Center


Acknowledging that the author was not on this Orange County, CA Santiago wildfire - nor did he talk with anyone one who was, it's important to take a brief pause at this point to explain how - from an experienced WF viewpoint - this totally predictable, preventable, and bogus event occurred from the perspective of those who were involved; and then to attempt to place it into proper "what happened and why - sense-making" perspective based on those who were. Go ahead now and inhale and breathe after all that ...

Santiago Fire Shelter Deployment (video clip) - Fire shelter deployment from October 22, 2007, by Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) engine crews. Photos by Karen Tapia Anderson of the Los Angeles Times.

One of the Air Support aircraft reports: "We just had a Crew have a shelter deployment over here." (1:18) With an incredulous response from another: "Copy. A shelter deployment?" (1:22)

Watch the video. This is a WTF happened scenario by a bunch of alleged "trained professionals" that supposedly "had to deploy, were forced to deploy, in order to survive an inferno."

Figures 3. a-f. Series of screenshots of October 22, 2007, OCFA Engine Crew fire shelter deployment phases from video Source: YouTube, Los Angeles Times, WLF LLC, OCFA


Consider now the full Santiago Fire Shelter Deployment video (if you can handle all the drama) and the separate Santiago Fire video contained within their 138-page After Action Review (AAR) of the Santiago Fire, October 21 to November 9, 2007, while paying close attention to the terrain, fuels, fire weather, fire behavior, radio traffic, the Fire Captains leadership, and decision-making, etc., including the incredulous Air Support personnel when told there was a fire shelter deployment in that video. "A shelter deployment?" he asks.

Notwithstanding the aggressive to extreme fire behavior from prior Santa Ana fire weather conditions mentioned in the Santiago Fire AAR, you will, hopefully, readily notice that they had plenty of good black to step into or even retreat downhill. Hindsight bias? I think not. How about some basic wildland firefighting. One commenter correctly noted: "This must have been embarrassing for the firefighters who had to deploy so close to safety."

(emphasis added) And "safety" was, in fact, very close!

And then the continuing drama below in the Whiting: Hotshots as heroic as they come article.

Figures 4. October 22, 2007, OCFA Santiago Fre Shelter Deployment video Source: YouTube, Los Angeles Times, WLF LLC, OCFA


Figure 4a. October 22, 2007, OCFA Santiago Fire AAR video Source: YouTube, Los Angeles Times, WLF LLC, OCFA

Figure 4b. Screenshot of October 22, 2007, OCFA Engine Crew fire shelter deployment from Santiago Fire video. Fire Shelter Deployments: Stories and Common Insights - "the best thing we did was get in our shelters" Source: YouTube, Los Angeles Times, WLF LLC, OCFA


"During the afternoon on Monday at approximately 1:20 p.m. 12 personnel from the OCFA, were involved in a serious near-miss episode, while on foot and suppressing a spot fire on the east side of Santiago Canyon Road, north of Modjeska. This was a significant life threatening event."

"The crew had been advancing a progressive hose lay on a hillside to contain a spot fire that had jumped Santiago Canyon Road. Upon reaching the top of a 200-foot hill, their hose line ruptured, causing them to run out of water. As fire encroached upon their position, they realized they were in an unsafe situation, and declared an emergency. Rapidly approaching and erratic fire behavior threatened their position and cut-off their planned escape route. They moved to a blackened area (previously burned) and deployed their emergency fire shelters as a protective measure. OCFA’s two helicopters immediately responded to this location, and made six water drops to provide support and protection for the trapped firefighters. Once the fire had burned through the area, they exited their fire shelters and were able to walk unaided back down the hill. Fortunately, none of the firefighters were injured, and the safety review immediately following this incident indicated that the deployment of fire shelters was very appropriate and based on their training."


"I don’t recall any celebrations for those [Orange County Fire Authority] firefighters, standing ovations calling them heroes.

"Before the service, a senior firefighter tells me he doesn’t think he’s a hero. He offers that he knew exactly what he was getting into when he put on the firefighter’s badge.

"His comment echoes what a friend of mine said when we visited Ground Zero in New York only months after 9/11. I called those who died heroes. “They’re not heroes,” she scoffed. “People who don’t know what they’re doing and save others are heroes.” Perhaps the definition of a hero is personal.

"Merrell continues, giving his perspective on when someone becomes a hero: “These men were heroes before they lost their lives.


Clueless O'Biden. The memorial service is for the GMHS, a municipal wildland Fire Hot Shot Crew, and he is talking about municipal firefighters saving his home when it was hit by lightning - allegedly - or just making that s**t up? Either way, it is a False Analogy fallacy and comparing apples and oranges.


"But Biden uses the word “hero” so often it devalues one of the most significant nouns in the English language.

"Dan Bates, a local firefighter, takes the stage and gets a standing ovation for praising Brendan McDonough, the lone survivor of the squad at Yarnell. With McDonough onstage, Bates explains the young Hotshot “is carrying on the strength and tradition of his brothers. Heroism."

"It was work that few see, that no one notices – until there’s a raging wildfire. And that’s when heroes start their work." (all emphasis added)

In an East (July 2013) article titled: Granite Mountain Hotshot honors crew in prayer, authors Brian Skoloff and Felicia Fonesca write: "GMHS McDonough had been assigned as a lookout on the hillside for his team on June 30 while they were battling a blaze on a ridge in Yarnell, ..... He notified the crew of the rapidly changing weather that sent winds swirling erratically and caused the fire to cut off their escape route. Then, he swiftly left his post for safety." (emphasis added)

Figure 5. (left) Firefighter Brendan McDonough embraces a mourner near the end of a candlelight vigil in Prescott, AZ on Tuesday, July 3, 2013. McDonough was the sole survivor of the 20-man GMHS after an out-of-control blaze killed the 19 on Sunday near Yarnell, AZ Source: Julie Jacobson, AP, East and Figure 5a. (right) Handsomely paid and smiling, Only The Brave movie advisor Brendan McDonough (left) played by Miles Teller in the film (right) Source:, 19 Firefighters Died. One Survived. The Heroic True Story Behind Only the Brave. Lone survivor McDonough and Only the Brave moviemakers honor the GMHS killed in 2013.

And so, you will definitely want to ask yourselves why was it that he was the sole survivor of the 20-man GMHS after an out-of-control blaze the 19 on Sunday near Yarnell, AZ"? The GMHS had been told they were "unavailable." For some insight on that, please refer to this December 9, 2015, InvestigativeMEDIA article ( )

"Fire officials have said McDonough did exactly what he was supposed to do." Really? And so, what does "he did exactly what he was supposed to do" actually mean?

"McDonough spoke briefly after reading the poem at a memorial in Prescott Valley, Ariz., saying he missed his brothers."

In a May 4, 2021, Prescott FD Facebook post celebrating International Firefighters Day, they posted "Today is International Firefighters Day, and we just want to say thank you to our Prescott Fire Department and the local firefighters in this area that work so hard to keep us safe. You are our heroes!" (emphasis added)

On the Prescott Firefighters Charities website: "We are the Official Granite Mountain Hotshots Charity: The Granite Mountain Hotshots were part of the Prescott Fire Department. Prescott Firefighter’s Charities is the official charity organization for the Prescott Fire Department and the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Our organization spearheaded fundraising drives for the families of the hotshots."

Figure 6. GMHS logo Source: Prescott Firefighter

"In June of 2013, the Prescott Fire Department experienced a tragic loss of 19 Arizona Firefighters “The Granite Mountain Hotshots” in a raging [wildfire] in Yarnell Hill. The Granite Mountain Hotshot Families and the community were devastated by the tragic loss. In this extreme time of crisis, Prescott Firefighters Charities was able to provide support and assistance [to] the families of these heroes." (emphasis added)


Author James K. Beggan of the University of Louisville writes: "Implicit lay views of heroes are overwhelmingly positive and do not focus on the potential problems that may result from heroic behavior. Similarly, a rarely challenged assumption of heroism research is that heroic behavior represents a social good that should be rewarded, encouraged, and even taught. Yet it is not difficult to demonstrate empirically that heroic behavior, regardless of how well intended, can backfire and hurt, rather than help, the would-be helper, the target of helping, and third parties in the background. By extension, training programs that promote heroism can be of questionable value to the extent that they encourage individuals to engage in heroic behaviors that subsequently produce a negative effect. A two-dimensional action-impact matrix is presented that crosses whether or not a hero acts heroically and whether or not he or she has a positive impact to identify four possible actors: the classic hero, meddling hero, meta-hero, and failed hero. Using famous characters from fiction such as Superman and the officers on Star Trek, as well as real life incidents and case studies, the dynamics of the action-impact matrix are identified in order to explore the reasons why a person should not intervene in some instances." (emphasis added) On the Downside of Heroism: Grey Zone Limitations on the Value of Social and Physical Risk Heroism. James K. Beggan. (2019) University of Louisville.

For a more recent article on the heroism subject, Emily Sheperd, a former USFS Hot Shot Crewmember writes quite a lot about the wildland fire hero myth in two separate forums Undark (Sept. 23, 2021) article titled Opinion: The Hero Myth of Wildland Firefighting: It’s not heroic to fight a problem that could have been averted with responsible policy. It’s tragic." And in another venue, Sheperd, E. (2021) It’s Not Heroic To Fight a Problem That Could’ve Been Averted by Good Policy. Science. The Wire.

"In their last hour alive, with the fire racing toward them, the Granite Mountain Hotshots inexplicably left a safety zone — in this case, a ridgetop that had already burned to ashes. Why they did so remains a matter of dispute, but the box-office film depicts the team’s leader, Eric Marsh, as saying “we’re the only crew in position to save these homes” over the radio. It also depicts crew members complaining about being in the safety zone rather than actually fighting fire. (emphasis added)

"However, there’s no evidence of any such radio communication between Marsh and his crew. What’s more, whether the crew was displeased about their position at the ridgetop is pure conjecture, because nobody on the ridgetop survived. And leaving a safety zone downwind from the flaming front in order to protect homes would have been a violation of standard firefighting protocol." (emphasis added)

In fact, some of the credible evidence does, in fact, exist on the YouTube "Granite Mountain Hotshot Shelter Deployment Site, Yarnell, AZ - July 23, 2013) with PFD Wildland BC Willis videos Part One and Part Two statement clarifies "whether the crew was displeased about their position at the ridgetop." The Prescott Way “ ... no wildland firefighter is satisfied sitting there [in a Safety Zone] and watching the fire progress without... taking some action...” (emphasis added)


Here are a few interesting - both on-point and mostly clueless, comments as Snippets and/or transcribed from YouTube video. Here are some of the more accurate ones:

Figure 7. David Sexton comment Snippet from GMHS DZ News Conference video Source: YouTube, David Sexton

David Sexton 1 month ago "This event was 100% preventable if they'd had proper training & followed that training. I'm hoping that their training officer had the decency to follow the Bushido Code after this occurred. Yes, I read the investigation. It just verified what I suspected. Yes, I've been a wildland firefighter & fire officer: 15 years with what is now CalFire. I worked these fires every summer for 13 of those 15 years. The last 2 years were spent trying to get healthy enough to go back into the field after a hazmat fire cost me most of my lung capacity. I don't blame the crew, unless they were drawn from the local AZ. Stock, in which case they should have understood the effects of our monsoon weather on wildland fires. Had this crew followed the Standard Firefighting Orders, been in tune with & aware of the fire situations "That shout WATCH OUT", they'd still be here today instead of having been martyred to poor training." (emphasis added)

darren beller 4 months ago "They are heros (sic) feel so sad for there (sic) family's and kids"

Figure 7a. Hugh Gordon comment Snippet from GMHS DZ News Conference video Source: YouTube, Hugh Gordon

Hugh Gordon 6 months ago "This supervisor was sooo sketchy in this post I have to wonder what he was trying to cover up??" (emphasis added)

Figure 7b. Brian Chrusniak comment Snippet from GMHS DZ News Conference video Source: YouTube, Brian Chrusniak

Brian Chrusniak 1 year ago "Save it Willis, you are a coward and a politician , I am sure your guys love the fact that you are slowly manipulating the info to protect you and your local and state governments. I'm no firefighter, but we call that a BF. And its not best friend. Loyalty must not be something you consider to be important." (emphasis added)

OldSkool72 1 year ago "Real brothers, Real men, Real heroes." (emphasis added)

Figure 7c. Cpt. Crash comment Snippet from GMHS DZ News Conference video Source: YouTube, Cpt. Crash

Cpt. Crash 1 year ago "Til valhalla brothers... RIP. These men are true heros (sic) bred with Warriors blood" (emphasis added)


And now back on track with the heroism subject by former USFS Hot Shot Emily Sheperd. On the contrary, there is true "evidence of ... such radio communication between Marsh and his crew" on their GMHS Crew Net channel - the very same Crew Net frequency as the Blue Ridge Hot Shots with a different code or channel guard. (emphasis added)

"The fictionalized scene offers a false narrative of the tragedy, a narrative I call the hero myth. Whether on the big screen or in front-page headlines, the hero myth is remarkably consistent: Wildland firefighters selflessly battle deadly blazes to protect the public from nature’s unyielding wrath. (emphasis added)

"Newspaper coverage of wildfires contributes to the hero myth by favoring spectacle. Even moderate wildfires are called 'apocalyptic,' 'hellish,' and 'terrifying.' Since 2018’s exceptionally rare fire tornado during the Carr Fire, news outlets have been quick to exaggerate any small vortex of fire — a common phenomenon of wildfires — into a fire tornado. (emphasis added)

"In my own experience, when I tell people that I used to fight wildfires, they often react with horror or awe, or thank me for my 'service.' The implication is that fighting wildfires is dangerous and terrifying — a personal sacrifice on par with that of a soldier going to war." (emphasis added)

"[Their] sentiment is misguided in a couple of very important ways.

For one, wildland firefighting is not as dangerous as the media tends to portray it. " A 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics metric "lumps municipal and wildland fatalities together, and according to the US Fire Administration, wildland fatalities are far fewer than municipal fatalities." Many other hazardous occupations are equally - or far more - dangerous and fatal, but they are given short shrift in the news media. (emphasis added)

Former USFS Hot Shot Sheperd eloquently addresses this point. "But perhaps the bigger problem of the hero myth is that it misconstrues the very nature of heroism. Author Kyle Dickman notes in his GMHS book titled “On the Burning Edge: A Fateful Fire and the Men Who Fought It, the terrorist attacks on 9/11 brought firefighters to a war zone. The first responders and firefighters of that [9/11] day were surely heroes: people called to higher acts of valor and self-sacrifice than the duties of their station required. But as Dickman noted, the word firefighter has remained synonymous with hero ever since [9/11], even though no subsequent fire on American soil has been a war zone." (emphasis added)

"Therein lies the rub: The heroes of 9/11 saved victims of an act of terrorism that the public could not have planned for or mitigated. That’s why they are heroes. But wildfires, unlike acts of terrorism, can be planned for and mitigated." (emphasis added) This author is unclear on his or her

"wildfires can be planned for and mitigated" statement.

"Exaggerating the deadliness of wildfires props up the myth that wildfires are invincible. Invincible wildfires cannot be mitigated, and so the myth engenders inaction, but inaction will make wildfires worse. And, ironically, as wildfires get worse, inaction will put the lives of wildland firefighters at greater risk. It sometimes seems to me that proponents of the hero myth exaggerate the deadliness and heroism of wildland firefighting on purpose, as if to avoid change. Excellent observation! (emphasis added)

"I would like to see that change, and I would like to see the hero myth put to rest. That means acknowledging wildfires are not apocalyptic monsters, but natural phenomena that can be managed ..." (emphasis added)

So saith the experienced and knowledgeable former USFS Hot Shot Emily Shepherd - with this author in complete agreement on her article on the wildland firefighter hero myth, and hence, the endorsed municipal Prescott FD, Prescott Way, GMHS hero status contributing to their deaths.


What follows is from an Eric Marsh, Crew 7 (October 10, 2005) Performance Evaluation (Public Records Request) excerpt signed by both PFD Supervisors or Managers Duane Steinbrink and Darrell Willis, posted by WTKTT on InvestigativeMEDIA on June 29, 2016. It mentions, without defining, "The Prescott Way." Other gems include Be nice!" and "Do not YELL" in capital letters

"New Plans / Goals / Training for the Next Rating Period"

1. Be nice! 2. Do not YELL when things don’t meet your expectations. 3. Practice all aspects of “the Prescott Way”. 4. Continue with wildland fire training. 5. Contact Employee Assistance Program ( Horizon Care Link @ 866-252-4468 ) to help resolve problems that affect your personal and work life. 6. Meet with your direct supervisor on a MONTHLY basis for the next SIX MONTHS for an evaluation." (emphasis added)

It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity. Proverbs 21:15 (KJV)


Consider now several excerpts on the terms, hero, and sacrifice within a article about the three GMHS Marines (Jesse Steed, Travis Turbyfill, and Billy Warneke) and a video that includes PFD Wildland BC Willis being interviewed.

"The Ultimate Sacrifice - On June 30, Travis and fellow Marine Jesse led the Granite Mountain crew into the toughest fight they had ever faced with no second-guesses. They had a mission to accomplish — protect the community of Yarnell — and just like their time in the Corps, they were willing to lay down their lives to achieve that goal."

"Remembrance - In the tight-knit community of Prescott, it’s impossible not to be reminded of the brave actions of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots."

Jesse was the type, as I’m sure a lot of Marines or firemen are, if he had to go out, I can’t think of a better way for it to have happened,” Desiree said. “As tragic as that is, he died a hero.

"Representatives from the Marine Corps were also in attendance to give military honors to both Marine veterans in acknowledgment of their faithful years of service and exceptional sacrifice in their continued service as firefighters.""

For the remaining members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, their duties remain the same. They will continue protecting the communities around Prescott from the wildfires, but now have the additional duty of living up to the example and sacrifices of their fallen brothers." (all emphasis added) Source article (24 July 2013 - Cpl. Chelsea Anderson)

Consider now a second article (video) about the YH Fire and GMHS Marines with PFD Wildland BC Willis and GMHS Jesse Steed widow Desiree Steed speaking.


PFD Willis: "The Hot Shots are like the equivalent of the Marines at war. They're the first in. The toughest job to take care of. They're the tip of the spear. ... At about four o'clock the fire behavior was beyond extreme." The Hot Shots are a support resource and generally not an initial attack resource as Willis asserts ("They're the first in.")

"And because [of] the fire behavior, I clicked back on their frequency and hear a couple things, that they need to move because the fire was coming back on their position, and they were gonna burn out around themselves, and deploy their shelters. ...."

Moreover, quite remarkably and unexpectedly, Willis admits here to listening to their GMHS Crew Net frequency at a fairly critical time.

Desiree Steed: "I'm sure a lot of Marines ... or firemen are ... I can't think of a better way for it to have happened. If he had to go out, As tragic as that is, you know he died a hero." PFD Willis: "They did it always to protect others. Every person there understood and knew that they were gonna protect the community of Yarnell, and if they laid down their lives to ... just like the Marines they knew what they had to do and there couldn't be an anymore honorable way to die than the way they died." (all emphases added)

Are you kidding me? Does he seriously believe this? "[They] understood and knew that they were gonna protect the community of Yarnell, and if they laid down their lives to ... just like the Marines they knew what they had to do and there couldn't be an anymore honorable way to die than the way they died."

Marine vet killed fighting wildfire (2 August 2013 by Member 26835147)


Figure 8. The Myth of Heroism image Source: Stephen Davies, AIER


Due to the vast array of "hero" and "heroism" articles, research, and topics, it is necessary to consider several select sources of Heroism, Heroism Science, Heroic Imagination Project, and others in no particular order. It is interesting that there are scant articles specifically on wildland firefighting, however, they are fairly in depth. Article abstracts, conclusions, summaries, or topic sentences are provided, corrected, and then posted in the American English spelling style, with all emphases added unless otherwise noted. A great deal of psychology is covered.

A helpful hint to get to the meat of the articles and research papers, unless, of course, you're a statistics Nerd, is to read the Abstract, Introduction, Literature Reviews, Discussions, Conclusions, Acknowledgements, and References. The Materials and Methods, Procedures, and Results are a personal preference for edification or education.


Franco, Z.E. and Efthimiou, O. (2018) Heroism and the Human Experience: Foreword to the Special Issue. J. of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 58 (4). "Heroism’s relationship to humanistic and existential psychology is not a modern one. Humanistic/existential approaches have their grounding in virtue, based on the ideas of the ancient Greeks; likewise, the word hero itself is Greek, and the ideal of courage and physical perfection extend from the pre-Socratics (Kahn, 1992), to Aristotle and Plato (Hardie, 1978; Kendrick, 2010), to modern philosophy (Roudinesco, 2008). Over time, the meaning of hero changed from focusing on physical prowess and fame to the physical or social expression of virtue ethics. From this perspective, heroism can be seen as the embodiment of actions that hold us to the highest standard of caring for another, even against great personal costs (Franco, Efthimiou, & Zimbardo, 2016). (emphasis added)

Allison, S. (2016) The Initiation of Heroism Science. Heroism Science: Vol. 1, Iss 1, Article 1. "In this article[,] I describe the nascent field of heroism science, as part of a broader movement for the promotion of heroism in 21st century societies. I identify several markers of its emergence and offer reasons why the science is now coalescing into an established and autonomous field of inquiry. Moreover, I discuss the importance of

maintaining a dynamic symbiotic relationship between the research and activist wings of the heroism movement. The aims and scope of heroism science are discussed, and reasons are offered for producing a science that is inclusive, transdisciplinary, and risk-taking. I examine all these issues within the metaphorical framework of initiation. Heroism is as old as humanity itself. For that reason, my use of the word initiation in the title of this article may seem surprising. Yet there is no denying that until the 21st century, scholars largely neglected the study of heroic behavior. The past decade has witnessed a burgeoning number of researchers focusing their attention, either directly or indirectly, on the study of heroism in its many different varieties (Allison, Goethals & Kramer, 2016). We have now reached a tipping point or, critical mass of scholarly activity and production, giving us occasion to acknowledge and celebrate the coalescence of a new field of study. The initiation of heroism science is good