Arizona Firemen Deaths Blamed on Agency Incompetence

Santa Ynez Valley Hot Shot Crew Member Sean Misner Among the Fallen

Thursday, December 5, 2013
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Sean Misner
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Sean Misner

A 26-year-old Santa Ynez Valley firefighter’s death, along with the loss of 18 other Hot Shot crewmen earlier this year, is being blamed on an Arizona agency’s incompetence.

An Arizona state safety commission’s report released this week found that the death of Sean Misner and fellow crewmen fighting a wildfire near Prescott last June was due to poor planning by their superiors, faulty communication, and being sent to fight a horrendous blaze to protect buildings and pastures that were “indefensible.”

They were called to fight a fast-moving fire without proper briefing, with inadequate maps and radios that failed to allow them proper contact with their commanders, the commission found.

No proper risk assessment had been made as to their safety or an awareness by their commanders of the danger faced by the Granite Mountain hotshot team, said consultants to the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health. The Arizona State Forestry Division now is being fined $559,000, and other state officials proposed payments of $25,000 to dependents.

Misner was nephew of Montecito Fire District operations chief Terry McElwee and grandson of former Montecito fire chief Herb McElwee. Misner’s wife, Amanda, gave birth to his son two months after his death. Misner was a graduate of Santa Ynez Valley High School.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Sounds like Agency Mis-Management!

dou4now (anonymous profile)
December 6, 2013 at 6:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

$25,000??? Are you kidding me? Add 3 zeros, you'll be a little closer. Oh, and don't forget to fire the idiots who sent these men to their death, and revise your Incident Command Procedures.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
December 6, 2013 at 9:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ugh, $25,000, completely pathetic. May all those firefighters rest in peace.

mtndriver (anonymous profile)
December 6, 2013 at 9:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hmmm, sounds just like the management of the Jesusita Fire. But what did these fire misfits say?? It was a weed-eater companies fault…

Priceless (anonymous profile)
December 7, 2013 at 7:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What was even worst that the City of Prescott has denied them benefits and of course Obama.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
December 7, 2013 at 9:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It was NOT agency incompetence. It was the Hotshots leader that took them to their deaths. They were in a SAFE burned out area. They observed the fire advancing on a home and they left the safe zone and were lead right into the danger zone. It was a mistake by the on scene leader of the group.

Perspicacious (anonymous profile)
December 7, 2013 at 8:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)


Did you read the article? It said, "was due to poor planning by their superiors, faulty communication, and being sent to fight a horrendous blaze to protect buildings and pastures that were “indefensible.”

Can you point to the section in the article where it states, "On scene leader" as being singular???

It was totally "Agency incompetence". Over and out……..

Priceless (anonymous profile)
December 8, 2013 at 8:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The team leader isn't any good without all the support they get, without that support the team leader was left with his instincts alone, and that makes for a dangerous situation.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
December 8, 2013 at 12:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Priceless, read the in depth article in Outside magazine on this incident. That is what I base my opinion on. Read it and you will agree with me.

Perspicacious (anonymous profile)
December 8, 2013 at 3:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I read the actual report not one in a magazine. Even the actual report tried to minimize the fed's responsibility. It is to bad that these people who were in charge are not held responsible. But then again, when is government ever held responsible for anything…...

Priceless (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 8:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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