PHOENIX -- The Granite Mountain Hotshot crew that was nearly wiped out by the Yarnell Hill wildfire may not be reformed because the city is concerned about its insurance premiums, the city's attorney said Thursday.
Prescott Attorney Jon Paladini said the loss of the hotshots may raise the city's insurance premiums, making it fiscally impossible for the city to reform the crew.
"Is our insurer going to be willing to take that risk," he said on News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Mac & Gaydos.
Paladini said that the city is not sure if the city will face raised premiums as the Granite Mountain Hotshots were the only municipally-funded crew in the nation, making the city's situation unique.
The city, by law, is required to carry either worker's compensation insurance or be self-insured.
In response to questions as to why the city can't afford to posthumously give all the firefighters benefits equivalent to those of full-time employees, Paladini said a city like Prescott -- which has an annual budget of about $30 million -- simply can't pay out millions of unanticipated dollars.
"A city the size of Prescott, being relatively small, is no where near capable of absorbing risk on the level of, say, the state of California, the state of Arizona or the federal government."
Paladini said the crew was constructed in the same manner many other crews are: a few full-time employees surrounded by seasonal or part-time employees. This format helps to fund more hotshot crews.
"The practical reality is that if all hotshot teams were all permanent, full-time, benefited employees, even at the federal level, you'd probably have half the number of teams out there," he said.
If the city decides against reforming its hotshot crew, there are options. The city could bring in a less elite team, a crew geared towards preventing fires rather than fighting them or the state or federal government could station a crew in Prescott.
While Paladini said the city can't afford to grant the families full-time benefits, it would likely be open to the state or federal government stepping in to help.
"If there's a way for the state legislature to come in, if there's a way the federal government to come in and help out these folks and it doesn't come back to a direct cost to the citizens in the community of Prescott, I would suggest that our council members, our elected officials would support something like that."
- Claims from Yarnell Hill Fire reach $662M
- Feds again tell Gov. Brewer no disaster relief
- Companies donate fire gear to Yarnell
- Prescott to take down informal memorial
- Legislators to discuss responder coverage
- Fire payments for crew covered most costs
- Pendant honors fallen fire crew
- Phoenix store donates $100K for families
- Legislators ask Obama to reconsider fire aid
- Planes called just before firefighter deaths
- Couple gets back wedding ring after fire
- Arrests in robbing of evacuated Yarnell home
- DPS paramedic reported firefighter deaths
- Pat McMahon: Back to business
- Yarnell residents return to burned homes
- McCain honors Hotshots inside US Senate (V)
- Brewer asks Obama to declare emergency
- Joe Biden speaks at Yarnell Hill memorial
- Rob Hunter: Remembering the Hotshots
- SR 89 near site of hotshots' deaths reopens
- Friends, family share stories of Hotshots
- Surviving hotshot reads prayer at service
- Yarnell Post Office reopens after wildfire
- McMahon: Misplaced outrage
- Wyo. Hotshots raise over $8K for AZ families
- Displaced Yarnell residents go home
- Fire crews: Answer to why is someone has to
- McMahon: Blackened tears
- Procession brings home fallen AZ firefighters
- Photo of flags on firemen creates controversy
- McCain: Deadly Ariz. wildfire highlights need
- Burns, breathing issues killed 19 firefighters
- Yarnell Fire destroys 129 structures
- Firefighter built, tried to protect crew
- Prescott holds vigil for fallen hotshot crew
- Candlelight vigil held in Phoenix for fallen
- Final Word: Firefighters' deaths rallying state
- Widow of firefighter shares memories (VID)
- Storms with lightning threaten Yarnell Fire
- Time-lapse footage of the Yarnell wildfire
- Hunter: Leaving everything behind
- Emergency shelters last chance for survival
- Fallen Prescott fire crew members ID'd
- Report: Two fallen firefighters from Calif.
- Firefighter: 'Doing best we can' after deaths
- Reporter: No surprise last-ditch effort failed
- Humane Society deployed to Yarnell Fire
- For hotshots, preparing a way of life
- American flag greets fallen Prescott crew
- Fallen fire crew worked front lines
- VIDEO: Hotshot memorial in Prescott
- AZ leaders tweet sympathy over Yarnell Fire
- Surviving crew member was moving truck
- Celebrities react to those affected in Yarnell
- VIDEO: Procession for fallen firefighters
- Obama: 'Heartbroken' over AZ firefighters
- VIDEO: Prescott hotshot memorial
- Firefighter's group statement on fallen crew
- Dignity Health World Class People. World Class Company. Excellent care, delivered with compassion, for all in need.
- Eyes on Education A view of Arizona's education system from all angles.