"It's times like today that define who we are," he said.
When U.S. Rep. David Schweikert asked audience members to raise their hands if they knew one of the fallen firefighters, about a third of the crowd did.
In a shaking voice, Fire Chief Fraijo described a picnic he threw last month for his new recruits and their families. Earlier Monday, he met with those same families in another auditorium and gave them the tragic news.
"Those families lost," he said. "The Prescott Fire Department lost. The city of Prescott lost. The state of Arizona and the nation lost."
Associated Press reporters Raquel Maria Dillon in Seal Beach, Calif., Sue Manning in Los Angeles and Felicia Fonseca in Prescott contributed to this story.