"Wall Of Flame" Yarnell Hill Firestorm

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner
Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 11:15 AM
229AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Carl Rippy, North Platte, NE

Together, we will look at the sequence of events that led up to the fateful day of June 30th, 2013 at Yarnell Hill, Arizona. Nineteen elite firefighters known as “Hotshots” were lost as a 60 foot wall of flame overran the entire Granite Mountain Hotshot crew. A standard needs to be set for each Hotshot crew. Standard equipment should include up-to-date two-way radios GPS locators and satellite telephones. In addition a fire behaviour specialist should be assigned to each crew to relay fireline and critical weather information according to the GPS location of each crew via a satellite telephone. Two-way radio traffic was heavy and messages were garbled because of improperly programmed radios and an overloaded two-way radio network. Lack of communication and unclear radio messages fostered an assumption of the location of the Granite Mountain Hotshot team. In the crucial moments before the Hotshots were "burned over" we didn't know where the Hotshotters were. Losing communication with Granite Mountain Hotshots and not knowing their exact location left Granite Mountain Hotshotters to stand alone. GPS tracking devices give us location coordinates that protect firefighting crews by transmitting their exact location at all times in relation to fire lines. A qualified fire behavior specialist can commumicate viable and important information to fire crews before a crew is in eminent danger with a satellite telephone. Extreme conditions were caused by a gust front at Yarnell Hill, Arizona accelerating the fire line and unexpectedly endangering the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew. Critical and important weather information communicated clearly to a fire crew by a fire behavior specialist combined with the knowledge of the Hotshot's exact location will save firefighters lives.