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Fire chief: Hotshot crews first to arrive, last to leave

When it comes to fighting wildfires in Arizona few resources are more effective or more dedicated than hotshot crews.

Phoenix Fire Captain Wil Gartin told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Rob & Karie on Monday that hotshot crews are the first to arrive on the scene and the last to leave. They are specialists in what they do and many times they do the most with what they are given.

“These are young men who have given more of themselves than they expect to get in return and they want to give up themselves for their community and state,” said Gartin.

The conditions that these firefighters face change at the drop of a hat. The Yarnell Hill Fire was the perfect storm. The hotshot team was so close when the winds changed that they were forced to pull out their shelters. These shelters are used as a last resort to shield the firefighters from the scorching flames as weather conditions change unexpectedly.

“To think about what they went through in their final minutes is almost too much to ponder,” said Gartin.

The training to be part of a hotshot crew is indefinite. These firefighters are in top physical condition and must move their way up in crews after their basic training. But sometimes even the best training is not enough.

“I think every firefighter that puts on a uniform every morning…everybody knows going in that it could be their last day,” Gartin said.

For volunteer, fundraising and other ways to assist those affected by the Yarnell Hill Fire, go to