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Investigation shows GPS could have helped prevent fire tragedy

by GPS4US 2013-10-02 14:27

The use of GPS tracking could have prevented the deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona, investigation results show.

In June, a blaze near Yarnell, Ariz., claimed the lives of the Granite Mountain hotshot crew. The investigation shows that, at the time of death, an airtanker was circling overhead, but was unsure of the location of the firefighters.

“Real-time information on the location of crews and the location of the fire, if those two things had been known, this accident could have been prevented,” Bill Grabbert, a retired wildland firefighter, fire-management officer and author, told the Associated Press.

The investigation found that proper procedures were followed, but also uncovered 30 minutes of radio silence prior to the crew’s demise.

“Wildland firefighters typically do not carry transmitting GPS devices but they do have GPS units to help them navigate,” said Arizona state forester Scott Hunt. “Part of the recommendations is to look at whether tracking GPS devices would better locate firefighters in the field.”

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