My name is Roxanne Preston. I lost my husband, Granite Mountain Hotshot, William “Billy” Warneke, in the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013. Our daughter, Billie Grace, was born in December of 2013. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, my husband was called to greater things by our Creator five months before father and daughter had a chance to meet each other.
Wildland firefighter safety is the objective for the Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute (WFGI). I am proud to be one of the founding members. Having personally experienced a line-of-duty death, and upon learning more information about the deaths – finding out that firefighter safety was not a priority – was shocking. The preservation of structures during a fire does not trump human life. From the tragedy of the 19 deaths, and from the mismanagement of the Yarnell Hill Fire, I knew that I needed to take action. I do not want my husband, or his 18 brothers to have died in vain. I want to create a positive solution from their deaths. I believe that preventing firefighter deaths and injuries is a great tribute to their legacy.
My service to WFGI is a tenacious calling. I am passionate about keeping wildland firefighters safe because I truly do not want another wildland firefighter’s spouse to experience the devastation that I have endured. I want each spouse to know that despite the hazardous duty that their wildland firefighter undertakes each day, the WFGI will be a steadfast champion in wildland firefighter safety, ensuring that safety is a priority in every fire. I do not want another spouse to hear the words that their loved one died in the line of duty, and later learn that the death could have been prevented if workplace safety had been of the utmost importance.
I have a background in the business and the customer service fields. I have worked in business management, leading teams and independent stores to success and growth. From my business career and from my own personal direction I have organized, led, and taken part in fundraising for Global Greengrants Fund, Western Resource Advocates, Tucson Clean and Beautiful, The Humane Society of Southern Arizona, The Desert Museum, Give 2 the Troops, the American Red Cross, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, United Way, Boston Strong, and countless natural disaster aid groups. I currently sit on the financial subcommittee for Granite Mountain Hotshots State Memorial Park. I volunteer my time and my business strategies to fundraise because I strive to live by my favorite quote, “Be the change you wish to see in this world,” as said by Mahatma Gandhi.
I firmly believe that the easiest change that I can make change is through my own actions. I choose to take action by helping others. WFGI is my outlet for creating positive safety changes within the wildland firefighting world.