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Prescott: No promotions promised for Yarnell hotshots

PHOENIX — None of the 13 Prescott hotshots who were killed fighting a wildfire in northern Arizona were promised a promotion or full-time benefits, the city said Tuesday.

“I never promised to promote any seasonal Granite Mountain Hotshot to a permanent position,” said Prescott Fire Department Division Chief Darrell Willis. “Employment decisions such as promotions are required to go through a screening process and interview with the Human Resources Department, and final decisions must be approved by the city manager.”

The city said, even if Willis had verbally offered promotions, that such an offer would not be binding.

Several family members of the fallen hotshots claimed the men worked full-time hours and thus deserved more benefits. The city said the 13 men were part-time employees and are not eligible for full-time benefits, per law.

“It’s easy to get emotional and everybody wants to do the right thing, and the city absolutely,” said city spokesman Pete Wertheim. “But what is the right thing? Well, for the city it’s limited by the law. And we’re fully complying with it.”

House Speaker Andy Tobin has said he’ll introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session to provide benefits retroactively to the Granite Mountain Hotshots and any emergency responder who dies on state lands in the future.

Prescott said it would continue to work with the families of the hotshots to make sure they receive proper benefits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.