Garret Zuppiger, a redheaded 27-year-old, was one of the 19 firefighters who died on Sunday, June 30, trying to prevent the spread of the deadly Yarnell Hill Fire as it swept across central Arizona. Zuppiger was a Prescott, Arizona native and after college returned home to join the elite firefighting group the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
Here is what you need to know about this fallen hero:
1. He Went to University of Arizona
In 2008, Garret Joseph Zuppiger graduated from the Univeristy of Arizona, specifically the Eller College of Management. The University of Arizona wrote a story remembering Zuppiger’s life and time at the University.
2. He Used to Keep a Blog
Between 2010 and 2011 Garret Zuppiger regularly posted in a blog called “I’d Rather Be Flying,” which chronicled his travels through Arizona, his outdoor adventures, and his 25th birthday.
3. He Was ‘The Funny One’
4. He Has Been a ‘Hotshot’ For Around Two Yeats
A college friend recalled to the University of Arizona news that it was during their annual fishing trip in 2011 that Zuppiger revealed his intent to try to join up with the Hotshots. He had no experience, but his love of the outdoors must have motivated him to want such an adventurous career.
5. Only the Most Elite Can Be on a Hotshot Crew
The Hotshots are like the Navy SEALs of firefighters. Inter-agency Hotshot Crews are groups that specialize in going into fire areas on foot and removing things from their paths that will help prevent the spread and growth of the fire.
The role of the Hotshot is described as:
The name was in reference to being in the hottest part of fires. Their specialty is wildfire suppression, but they are sometimes assigned other jobs, including search and rescue and disaster response assistance. Hotshots not busy fighting fire will also work to meet resource goals on their home units through thinning, prescribed fire implementation, habitat improvement or trail construction projects.
Crews often need to hike many miles to get to the areas where they will be working, carry all of their supplies on their back, and can sometimes work over 12 hours a day.