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Arizona and a nation mourn the loss of 19 firefighters

Published: Tue, July 9, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Not since Sept. 11, 2001, have so many firefighters died in the United States on a single day.

And for us Easterners, it is difficult to imagine what went wrong in Yarnell, Ariz., to snuff out the lives of 19 members of the Prescott-based Granite Mountain Hotshots who were among 600 firefighters trying to contain a blaze that burned 13 square miles and destroyed more than 100 homes.

We understand tornadoes. We understand fires that engulf buildings. We even understand acts of terrorism. But to truly understand a wildfire, you’ve got to be there.

And that’s what makes the lives and deaths of these men — the oldest 43 and most of them in their 20s, with the youngest 21 — so extraordinary. They had seen wildfires up close, felt the hot breath of a fire that was eager to consume anything in its path, and yet they put themselves in harm’s way again and again.

Brief biographies of the fallen Hotshots in almost every case mentioned their long-time fascination with and devotion to firefighting. Just as in urban fire departments, in some cases these were jobs pursued through generations of a family.

But this is a special kind of firefighting, one that involves days at a time on the front line wielding shovels, axes, chain saws. All this is done dressed in long-sleeved shirts, hard hats and heavy gear, battling not only smoke and flames but triple-digit temperatures.

It’s by and large a young man’s profession, but one that not only requires youth, but education, devotion and judgment. And a fitness regimen that requires hours at workout facilities, lifting weights, climbing rock walls and building endurance.

Last respects

There will be a memorial service in Prescott today for the 19 men whose bodies were brought in a caravan of hearses from Phoenix. Thousands lined the route of the procession and thousands more will pay tribute today, The bodies will then be transported for individual services by family and friends.

And through it all, each body has had and will continue to have an honor guard, a fellow firefighter who demonstrates the brotherhood that binds these squads.

After the bodies have been buried and the final tones of a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace” have faded, investigators will reassemble everything that is known about the wind and fire that trapped these men so that, perhaps, another squad can be saved on another day.

And if so, these men who chose to pursue a life of danger so that others may live will have one more addition to their legacy.

In the meantime, it is only fitting that we do our small part to pay tribute to these men as individuals. These are the Granite Mountain Hotshots who lost their lives in Arizona.

Andrew Ashcraft, 29

Robert Caldwell, 23

Travis Carter, 31

Dustin Deford, 24

Christopher MacKenzie, 30

Eric Marsh, 43

Grant McKee, 21

Sean Misner, 26

Scott Norris, 28

Wade Parker, 22

John Percin, 24

Anthony Rose, 23

Jesse Steed, 36

Joe Thurston, 32

Travis Turbyfill, 27

William Warneke, 25

Clayton Whitted , 28

Kevin Woyjeck, 21

Garret Zuppiger, 27


1dennismangan(14 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

The earlier editorial to which you refer described those city employees who who are happy to take a city check but can't abide living in the city as rats deserting a sinking ship. It was not a commentary on all city employees, only those who jumped ship as soon as the Ohio Legislature gave them the ability to do so. You're suggesting that the newspaper shouldn't honor fallen firefighters for their sacrifices unless it endorses the self-serving behavior of every firefighter or city employee. I'd disagree.

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2jupiter(116 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

So, by using the Vindicator's "logic," one is a "rat" for exercising one's Constitutional Right (specifically the right to live wherever one chooses)? One would think that a paper-whose very existence and relevancy is determined by the exercising of Constitutional Rights (1st Amendment, Open Records Laws, etc.) would champion individuals exercising their rights. But lets take a real look at this: The Vindicator isn't a neutral and true newspaper anymore than a high school rag is...The Vindicator exists as a vehicle to push political agendas, first and foremost. One of those political agendas is attempting to portray public employees as a "societal problem." This comes from the Radical Right's agenda at attempting to create a schism in society in the middle class. Because if the middle class is fighting amongst themselves (public vs. private) no one is taking the Right to task for their draconian policies which are the real reason why communities and the middle class are suffering.
One also has to point out the obvious in using a pejorative statement such as "rats" to describe any group of individuals. I would offer that name calling in a public forum such as an editorial, while done behind the mask of anonymity, is the true definition of the term "rat."
I take solace in the big picture however: Where one resides does not determine one's dedication or competency to their employer. The "rat's leaving a sink ship" analogy however is more fitting to those in the journalism field, however. How are those circulation numbers doing theses days? What's it like being part of a dying and ineffectual "profession?" (I use that term loosely as very few associated with the Vindicator are remotely professional.)
By all means-keep trying to appear relevant and unbiased while carrying your masters' message. It makes for good comedy for the rest of us. And please, the next time you call anyone a name, Vindy, have the courage of your convictions to publish your own name. It gives a modicum of credibility to what is so obviously just another propaganda piece.

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3dennismangan(14 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Yes, "feeding at the public trough" is pejorative. But I'll repeat my response to your initial criticism: just because we disapprove -- even in strong terms -- to some behaviors of public employees does not mean we're being hypocritical when we find something praise- worthy in public employees. As to how many city employees have jumped ship, it's only been four years since the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the Legislature's prohibition of residency laws. It would seem to me that the five-year mark next year would be a good time to look at how many city employees still live in the city. But I do recall that even before the Supreme Court ruled, one or two guys announced they were moving and virtually dared the city to do something about it. And while it wouldn't qualify as "leaving the ship" it seems to me that relatively few of the city's recent safety force hires have been city residents. Perhaps we'll get a better picture on the five year anniversary.
As to Jupiter's remarks: There is no constitutional right to a city job that preempts the right of a city's residents to place residency requirements on their employees. The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken to that. In Ohio, the General Assembly used a phrase in the state Constitution to justify a law it passed that pre-empted the ability of subdivisions to enforce residency laws. That law was pushed by an odd coalition of union-beholden Democrats and libertarian-minded Republicans.
As to who has the "courage" to publish their name: newspaper editorials are traditionally not signed by individual writers because they represent the institutional position of the paper (and can be the work of more than one writer). It's not as anonymous as the postings on this board, although I'm using my name; I doubt that you were christened Jupiter.

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4dennismangan(14 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

No BS. Thanks for the conversation. I think we can also agree that we're starting to beat a dead horse here. While you may see it as moving the goalposts, I'll still await a five-year evaluation of the effects of the General Assembly's substitution of its wisdom for that of the residents of Youngstown regarding residency. And since you're giving me a pass on using a pejorative, I'll give you a pass on your contention that the people of Youngstown are not fit to protect the people of Youngstown.

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5dennismangan(14 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Now I see how the game is played. You can twist and exaggerate what other people say to your ends, but when you use a word it means just what you choose it to mean — neither more nor less. (credit to Lewis Carroll)

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6jupiter(116 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Mr. Mangan...one could offer that residency requirements are a form of "kick-back" to the municipality, being forced to purchase a home as a form of quid pro quo in exchange for employment. THAT certainly seems somehow less than noble, does it not?
As for giving city residents preferential choice in hiring...who is to say that this does not occur when it can? Many see no problems with offering bonus points on civil service exams for residency. The true issue with residency I feel is that individuals such as yourself (for myriad reasons) feel that public employees are somehow second class citizens, lacking the rights accorded to others in our society.
In addition to the audit that you suggest, it would also be interesting to perform an audit as to the EDUCATION and TRAINING of city resident employees versus non- resident employees. Also include disciplinary files (where applicable). THAT may tell a whole truer story as to "who protects what." Certainly a man of reason such as yourself would agree that in these austere times that it is essential to hire the "right person for the right job" regardless of such parochial concerns as to where an employee spends their free-time? And certainly a watch-dog of the public trough (your words) such as yourself would agree that when possible, the BEST trained and educated should be hired, regardless of capricious determinants like where one's home is? Are you a proponent of nepotism and cronyism as well?
Quit pushing an agenda disguised as public policy.

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7dennismangan(14 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

NoBS: It was your exaggeration that started the whole conversation. "The Vindicator recently - a few days ago - referred to Youngstown's firefighters, as well as the rest of the city employees, as rats." The rat characterization would have only applied to those who left, but you expanded it to fit your characterization of hypocrisy by the paper. You maintain that few actually left, but you haven't back that up with any numbers. All you do is assure me that the paper is wrong by your standard of right and wrong. At any rate, you obviously have way more free time to devote to these postings than I, so I'll be excusing myself.

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