Prescott Fire Department exhibit honors Granite Mountain Hotshots


by Fields Moseley

Bio | Email | Follow: @fieldsmoseley

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 10:41 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 30 at 10:41 PM

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- There are many stories about the Granite Mountain Hotshots: their lives as husbands, fathers, and the story of the men as firefighters. That is what the Prescott Fire Department is capturing with an exhibit open to the public this week.
"Ok. How does that look?" asked a volunteer, working find the right place for a picture.

Less than two weeks before the one year commemoration, a loyal group of volunteers was still working on the fire department's exhibit.
"We're Saw Team 7!" Katie Cornelius cheered.  "I just love this story."
Cornelius is the department's curator. She has been watching over all the things dropped off at Fire Station 7 in the weeks following the tragedy. And she's been learning about the items that have stories behind them.
"It's a sign of great honor to be given the broken spade," she said holding up a broken shovel placed at the fence by a former hot shot. "The firefighters really wanted to focus on the 19 guys."
So Cornelius started talking to hot shot members, past and present.
"You have a lot of people who were Granite Mountain Hotshot alumni," she said. "Over a hundred are alumni."
During this process, she cried and laughed with each new story. "Scott Norris was a Payson hotshot for four years," she recounted.  "His best friend was Evan Whetten."

In the case of Norris, his friend Evan recorded a song about him.

One line goes: "Seen a lot of hotshots give everything they've got, but none of them could ever hold a candle to Scott."

"This song represents these guys beautifully," Cornelius said with a smile.

The exhibit is made up of nine triangular sections of chain-link fence. The outside of the fence is covered in stories and pictures of the young men. The background on the inside is made up of t-shirts. They are the t-shirts from Fire station 7 donated by firefighters from all over the country.

"This one of Travis from family that they released," said Cornelius pointing to a picture. "Shows how close he is to the fire. Most people don't understand how close they get."

The exhibit is full of those details from how much their pack weighs, to their certifications. Cornelius hopes it gives people some insight into the often private, hotshot family.

"It's not about them as a dad, brother or friend," she said. "It's who they were as firefighters."