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‘Father’ of Granite Mountain Hotshots resigns from Prescott Fire

PHOENIX — After 30 years on the job, Prescott Fire Department Wildland Division Chief Darrell Willis said he was retiring from the City of Prescott at the end of April.

Willis founded the Granite Mountain Hotshots, 19 of whom died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013. Only one member survived.

He said his decision to step aside came down to a difference of opinion with city leaders on how to protect the community from wildfire.

“The best thing (about the job) was working with the men and women of the Prescott Fire Department,” he said. “… it has been an honor to work with them.”

Willis created the Hotshots, a team within the Prescott Fire Department, that became a Type I Inter-Agency Hotshot crew in 2008.

He said losing the majority of the team was the low point in his life.

“Living the past 20 months with the loss, the families, the friends and seeing the devastation caused is absolutely the low point.”

Come summer, Willis will be part of a statewide team that fights wildfires.