On Tuesday, The Northwest Fire District announced its plans to disband the Ironwood Hotshot Crew at the end of this year’s wild land season.
During a press conference, Capt. Adam Goldberg said the district is one of four hotshot crews that are not federally funded, and of those four, the Ironwood Hotshots is the only crew supported by a local agency. A county or state supports the other three crews.
The crew, comprised of 20 firefighters, “does not match the long term strategic planning and financial goal of the Northwest Fire District,” Goldberg said.
Of the 20 firefighters, seven members of the full-time crew will be moved into other positions, while the 13 seasonal members of the crew will be let go after the wildfire season, which ends some time in October.
With this disbandment, Goldberg said the district plans to focus on its local community and improve its core services in an effort to reduce costs and lower the current tax rate.
Despite thoughts that the disbandment is taking place due to insurance concerns in the wake of the 19 Granite Mountain Hot Shots who died during the Yarnell Fire, Goldberg sad this is not the case.
“We learned there would be no additional insurance costs projected for this year,” Goldberg said.
In opposition of the decision, hotshot crew member John Hoelerich has started a petition at www.change.org.