Poulsbo fire chief, paramedic attend memorial for Hotshots

From left, Paramedic Craig Becker and Chief Jeff Griffin at the Arizona firefighters memorial.  - Jeff Griffin / Contributed
From left, Paramedic Craig Becker and Chief Jeff Griffin at the Arizona firefighters memorial.
— image credit: Jeff Griffin / Contributed

PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Poulsbo Fire Chief Jeff Griffin and paramedic/union president Craig Becker flew to Prescott, Ariz. Monday to attend the memorial service for the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots.

The 19 firefighters who died when an out-of-control wildfire overran them were honored Tuesday by thousands of fellow firefighters and law enforcement officers, Gov. Jan Brewer and Vice President Joe Biden called them “men of uncommon valor” and thanked God that one member of the crew survived unhurt, according to Arizona media.

The firefighters — members of the Prescott Fire Department’s elite Granite Mountain Hotshots wildfire crew, died June 30.

Flags at Station 71 and 77 were lowered to half staff by direction of the Washington Fire Chiefs. All fire districts and city fire departments lowered their flags to half staff July 9 in honor of the fallen 19.

After the funeral, fire department members from all over the country and Canada stood in the blazing Arizona sun and saluted, as several buses — one bus for each family of a fallen firefighter — drove away, according to Griffin.

Griffin said they were going non-stop since they left Seattle but “every minute was worth the effort. The whole thing was incredible.”

At the memorial, Griffin saw empty helmets, fire-worn gear neatly stacked; widows, children, and parents holding neatly folded flags in their laps; and heard pipes playing and beautiful words spoken.

“I am humbled and honored to be part of a profession that includes men like these 19,” he said.

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