Letters from the West

Wildland Firefighter Foundation returns firefighter statue to Boise Airport

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation rededicated the statue at the Boise Airport Friday, returning it from Arizona where it was taken when 19 firefighters died there in 2013.

Jack Wilson, the man who came up with the idea of bringing together all of the wildland firefighting agencies in coordinated management in the 1970s, made the point that the statue is not just to commemorate the fallen.

“We dedicate this statue to all firefighters,” said Wilson, 96. “May God bless them all.”

The original statue was placed at the airport in 2005 with the National Wildfire Suppression Association donating $90,000 to build and place the art piece. On June 30, 2013, a wildfire overran 19 Prescott firefighters. The foundation, which owned the statue, pulled it off its mount in Boise and flew it to Arizona where it was used in the funeral ceremonies.

Boise Airport manager Rebecca Hupp thanked the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for its gift. This time, the city took ownership.

“I’m so pleased the statue has been returned to Boise,” she said.

Darrell Willis, the former boss of the 19 Arizona firefighters, said the statue was important to families of the lost firefighters and to the hundreds of firefighters who were there. The new statue donated to Prescott is a fitting memorial to all the lost firefighters, he said.