Thursday, December 05, 2013

Commission says Arizona State Forestry Division is at fault in deaths of 19 hotshot firefighters

"The Arizona Industrial Commission Wednesday approved $559,000 worth of fines against the Arizona State Forestry Division in relation to the June 30 deaths of 19 Hotshot firefighters saying the division "placed a higher priority on protection of homes and property than firefighter safety," reports the Daily Courier in Prescott, where the firefighters were based. Only one Hotshot survived the fire. (Courier photo: Hotshots reach the fire June 30)

According to the commission's report, the firefighters died because they weren't removed from harm's way immediately—consistent with policies. "The report says 61 more firefighters in nearby locations to unacceptable and unnecessary risks of 'smoke inhalation, burns and death,'" Dennis Wagner, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Sean Holstege report for The Arizona Republic.

The fines amount to $70,000 plus $25,000 for each firefighter who died. This is the full allowed amount for a "willful" violation, which doesn't denote malice but knowing negligence. "Investigators said key safety and planning positions on the Incident Command Team were not filled as required, and other important supervisors arrived late or abandoned their posts, increasing the risk to firefighters in the field," the Republic reports. "It became an emergency because of bad planning," the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health safety compliance supervisor Marshall Krotenberg said. (Read more)

1 comment:

BatWeb said...

Who is liable for the fines, the State, Agency, Department, Division, supervisors, or taxpayer? What departmental ramification will follow for example, firing, removal or dismissal? What policy or leadership changes will follow if any? What recruitment impact will this have replenishing hotshot recruitment. What other types of compensation will be forthcoming for loss of love ones?