About Us

The Wildland Firefighter Institute conducts research and analysis on fatalities, injuries, equipment, and technology. We are a Wildland Firefighter Watch Dog Group where anyone can report to us anonymously to seek positive change in Wildland Firefighting practices. We offer scholarships for safety investigation programs and courses through donations to related wildland fire programs. We are an advocate for an accredited School of Wildland Fire at Universities to teach fire for, and of the future for firefighters who seek to major in Wildland Fire Science. We outreach to local communities to teach how wildland fire affects them, and the importance of defensible space. We strive to find new safety techniques and equipment to benefit the safety of Wildland Firefighters.

Interagency Bear Jaw Fire and Fuels Management Crew Photo Courtesy of Molly Ottman
Interagency Bear Jaw Fire and Fuels Management Crew
Photo Courtesy of Molly Ottman

From the Yarnell Hill Fire a great majority of the Wildland Firefighters, first responders, and dispatchers suffered PTSD from the deaths of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. We have personally felt, and we have seen the effects of PTSD, which is why we will facilitate PTSD counseling for any of those involved in any fire tragedy.


On June 30th, 2013 19 Wildland Firefighters of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew from Prescott, Arizona died when they were entrapped in a canyon at Yarnell, Arizona in the Yarnell Hill Fire.

Andrew Ashcraft's funeral service
Andrew Ashcraft’s funeral service

From this great loss of life three women, Juliann Ashcraft, Deborah Pfingston, and Roxanne Preston worked together to form the Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute. Juliann lost her husband, Andrew, Deborah lost her son, Andrew Ashcraft, and Roxanne lost her husband, William “Billy” Warneke in the Yarnell Hill Fire. Through their grief the three women dedicated themselves into learning about Wildland Firefighting, delved into discovering what truly happened to the Granite Mountain Hotshots that led to their deaths, and committed themselves into protecting the safety of Wildland Firefighters so that another preventable tragedy like the Yarnell Hill Fire does not occur again.

Billy Warneke flown into Marana, Arizona from Prescott, Arizona for his funeral service. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Warneke
Billy Warneke flown into Marana, Arizona from Prescott, Arizona for his funeral service. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Warneke



roxybg2Roxanne Preston- Chairman, Founder, Widow of Granite Mountain Hotshot, William “Billy” Warneke
read more about Roxanne Preston




Deborah&AndrewDeborah Pfingston– Vice Chairman/Director of Education Division, Founder, Mother of Granite Mountain Hotshot, Andrew Ashcraft
read more about Deborah Pfingston



Family - MomJuliann Ashcraft- Part-Time Vice Chairman, Founder, Widow of Granite Mountain Hotshot, Andrew Ashcraft
read more about Juliann Ashcraft



DougHarwoodDoug Harwood- Board Director, Former Granite Mountain Hotshot and City of Prescott Firefighter
read more about Doug Harwood




waldock_b_1William Waldock- Board Director, Professor in Safety Science – Crash/Safety Investigation
read more about William Waldock




VickiBoswellVictoria Boswell- Board Director/Treasurer, Project Manager – certified with experience in the human capital management industry, Experience in training for human resource industry, Business major and consultant
read more about Victoria


Rosalva Zimmerman- Board Director,  community outreach, youth development, and regional program management of family resource centers, and mother of a Black Mesa Hotshot
read more about Rosalva







Pamela Walrath- Board Director, Environmental Consultant, absetos and lead program manager, former wildland firefighter
read more about Pamela




Andrea Bradley- Secretary, Firefighter and Family Support volunteer; Mental Health Nurse, resides in Bend, Oregon with her husband and two cats. In her free time she enjoys hiking, snowshoeing, and hunts for abandoned pioneer buildings to photograph. Before starting work with St. Charles Behavioral Health, she received her BS from Oregon State University in Human Development and Family Sciences, majoring in social work. After losing a family friend on the Yarnell Hill Fire, she decided to seek volunteer opportunities that advocate for firefighter safety. She is passionate about anything outdoorsy, and mental health avocation.



McGroderPat-WEBPatrick McGroder III- Legal Advisor, Pat has been recognized by his peers as one of the finest trial lawyers in America.  He specializes in high profile, catastrophic injury and wrongful death litigation.  As an architect of social change, Pat has been on the cutting edge of litigation that has led to HMO reform, road design improvement, motor vehicle and aviation safety changes and nursing home regulation.



Linda Lambert- Social Media Manager, Linda brings over 20 years of experience in marketing, sales and fundraising. Her versatility and keen insight have allowed her to bring her expertise to many diverse products and markets.  With a clear understanding of how to determine the best strategy to network and establish a following she has helped grow numerous companies with their online presence via building websites and social media. She loves the challenge and creativity of her job.

As the aunt of Andrew Ashcraft it is Linda’s passion to help spread the mission of the WFGI and help bring about change to the wildland firefighting family.

Laura Berbusse- Grant Writer/Consultant,  After five years of professional experience in fundraising and communications in Utah, Laura started her own consulting firm, Granted Fundraising Consultants, in 2016 with the goal of helping nonprofit organizations across the nation further their missions. To her role as development consultant for Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute, she brings skills gained from creating successful communications, fundraising (including crowdfunding), and grant writing campaigns for Girl Scouts of Utah and Utah Film Center and from maintaining and growing strong partnerships for Sundance Institute. Laura’s favorite book is Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean, which was introduced to her in high school and has instilled in her a passion for helping wildland firefighters ever since.

Mission: Wildland Firefighter safety is of the utmost importance to our organization. We will champion firefighter safety through independent investigations, education, and real life support for firefighters, families, and the fire community. Truth-Transparency-Accountability- Change, the future for wildland firefighter safety is now.