A Manchester firefighter is expected to be on hand today when dignitaries and firefighters from across the country gather to mourn the 19 hotshots killed fighting a forest fire last week in Arizona.
Bob Welch, a firefighter assigned to the Amory Street station, is attending in his capacity as a drum major with the New Hampshire Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums, said Manchester Fire Chief James Burkush.
The Arizona ceremony will draw firefighters from all over the United States. The pipe and drum corp that assembles today will include players from throughout the country, Burkush said. Welch left New Hampshire on Sunday.
“It’s a very tragic event, and we’re honored one of our members is participating in the services,” Burkush said.
Also expected to be on hand today is Durham firefighter Scott McGrath, a former member of the Arizona Granite Mountain Hotshots.
The 20-member crew was battling a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz., on June 30 when the wind changed and redirected the intense flames at their position. Only the unit’s lookout, who was stationed on a nearby hilltop, survived.
Vice President Joe Biden is expected to give remarks, as well as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
Today’s ceremony will be on the minds of firefighters across the Granite State, said David Lang, president of the 2,000-member NHPFF.“Locally, every firefighter’s thoughts and hearts and minds will be with the families and loved ones of those who paid the ultimate sacrafice,” Lange said.