• Joy A. Collura and emphasis added here on these

Part 2 of 5 - Underneath every simple, obvious story about human error, there is a deeper, more

Part 2 of 5 - Underneath every simple, obvious story about ‘human error,’ there is a deeper, more complex story - a story about the system in which people work. Will these formerly unrevealed public records change the account of what occurred on June 30, 2013?

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12 - KJV)

Views expressed to "the public at largeand "of public concern"

DISCLAIMER: Please fully read the front page of the website (link below) before reading any of the posts ( )

The authors and the blog are not responsible for misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others. The content even though we are presenting it public if being reused must get written permission in doing so due to copyrighted material. Our sincerest apologies for the delays. These posts were due out in August 2019 yet we had website research a matter, and we are now finally able to rebuild the pages and make them "live." This extensive post may offend some due to the time of the year, however, we must stay the course to release information because more is yet to come out in future posts. To avoid such offense to some, please avoid further reading the posts until you find a proper reflective time for yourself. I did ask many people who were affected by this tragic Yarnell Hill Fire event and they said it was okay to post it this weekend. I know some people would not want any of this out at any time, yet I also know too many for "mental health" reasons need this out ASAP. Again - please avoid reading any further if you are unable to handle "sensitive material." Thank you.

Before we begin, this is a First Amendment issue addressed "to the public at large" because we have the right, and the obligation, to thoroughly examine and reveal the details of Yarnell Hill (YH) Fire debacle and the Granite Mountain Hot Shot (GMHS) tragedy - something the Serious Accident Investigation Team clearly failed to do. I feel the need to express that these YH Fire and GMHS issues are sensitive and uncomfortable matters to bring forward. WFs, FFs, and the general public are starving for information on this issue. So, I am sharing what I know from personal experience and people's feedback about the InvestigativeMEDIA (IM) blog - that it aroused contention, even aggression, and anxiety. We need to talk about these matters sooner, than later. To meet and get to know some of the GMHS family, friends, and loved ones - and being in that situation - is challenging enough; to engage in theses dialogues and communications could either compound the problem, which sometimes makes it worse, or we can take the road to minimize our "fall-outs" or disagreements in a respectful manner. One of the nuggets I want to communicate is - however long it takes me, there will be one concise memorable message. I have learned that I may have gathered (received) too much information and this, at times seems to be all too complicated and layered. So, to mitigate that, I have been "going to school" to educate myself about the wildland fire world in order to show you - the world - how serious the YH Fire and GMHS issue is. In closing, this is extremely emotional, time consuming, and to do what I am doing has the potential for confrontational situations (which I try to avoid). I know what I'm doing is the right thing to do. Those young men should never have died, those homes should never have been destroyed, and our lives should have never been affected by this tragedy fire. When reading this blog, you may not comprehend or remember everything you read, but you will remember how it made you feel while reading it. I wish I had the topic to make one "feel great" even though it is a difficult situation, so I'm doing my best to relate to those affected in a very open and humane way. We address the decisions and actions and outcomes of these Wildland Firefighters (WFs) and Firefighters (FFs) and avoid making personal "ad hominem" attacks. I never thought my life would be so detailed or fixated on anything like this. We are focused here on "complete lessons learned" toward lessening the inevitable wildland fire tragedies that are unfortunately likely to occur. Some GMHS family members have expressed that I can walk way from this, yet they cannot walk away because of how close they are. I think about those young men and this fire every day (as well as so many others) and this is the path God has led us to follow.

Consider now the Ninth Circuit ruling on a First Amendment issue concerning the Crystal Cox vs. Obsidian Finance Group case on the rights of free speech in a "matter of public concern," a key component. The justices' holding vindicated Ms. Cox and allowed her the same free speech protections as journalists, (i.e. when truth survives free speech).

Obsidian Finance Group vs. Crystal Cox ( )

Hull, Tim (17 January 2014). "Blogger's Speech Rights Championed in the 9th". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved 2 February 2014.

"I think it sets an important precedent that bloggers, for First Amendment purposes, have the same rights as others do, as for example the institutional media does," Volokh said in a phone interview. "There have been plenty of past cases around the circuits that point in that direction, but this is the first time that the 9th Circuit has specifically ruled on this, and this is one of the cases that has focused on bloggers. Most cases have dealt with other nonprofessional media, but this one is particularly the first clear blogging case that I know from the circuit courts." (emphasis added)

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9th Circuit Issues a Blogger-Friendly First Amendment Opinion–Obsidian Finance v. Cox ( )

When Truth Survives Free Speech ( )

Blogger gets same speech protections as traditional press: U.S. court

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U.S. Court: Bloggers Are Journalists - Even when they're libeling you

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Obsidian Finance Group vs Cox Law School Review (

"In defamation suits, the matter at issue must be of public concern and a plaintiff must show that the defendant acted negligently in publishing an assertion of fact, regardless of whether the writer is a member of the institutional media." (emphasis added)

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"The Ninth Circuit found this case fell in the grey area between the defamation standards for public figures, which require a showing of actual malice, and private defamation suits under a negligence standard pursuant to Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. Declining to base First Amendment protections on whether a speaker is a journalist, the panel held that Gertz is not limited to institutional media defendants, and case law supports not providing institutional media with greater protection than other speakers. The panel also held that the blog post was of public concern ... The panel also affirmed the district court’s summary judgment on the other blog posts, finding them to be pure opinions and lacking an assertion of objective fact." (emphasis added)

The Ninth Circuit Holds—Correctly—That a Blogger Has the Same Defamation Protection as a Journalist ( )

Protecting The Free Speech of Censors: The Crystal Cox Saga

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Obsidian Finance Group vs. Cox - Wikipedia

(,_LLC_v._Cox )

To underpin and underscore pertinent issues in this post, we begin by addressing several important issues discussed in other wildland fire fatality Learning Reviews and in the Serious Accident Investigation Team ( SAIT ) - Serious Accident Investigation Report ( SAIR ) and other publications and venues, many that are Yarnell Hill Fire (YH Fire) specific, prior to delving into the July 2019 Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics ( AHFE ) Conference images and issues presented in Washington, DC.

This Part 2 of 5 section contains information, data, images and photographs, videos, and links on the following: Ninth Circuit First Amendment caselaw; the Coordinated Response Protocol (CRP) and Learning Reviews; former Yarnell Hill Fire Chief Peter Anderson (RiP); Sesame Street and Shrine Fire / Fuel Break Corridor Fuel Treatment activities and projects; the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC) and their alleged "Honor the Fallen" series; "securing the scene" of the YH Fire GMHS deployment / fatality site; the legal Touhy Principle and Federal Housekeeping statute that the Federal Government utilizes to control what their employees are "allowed" to share in records, testimony; the disparate treatment of USFS Aerial Firefighting Utilization and Effectiveness (AFUE) Study; Freedom of Information (FOIA) Records Requests regarding all the USFS aircraft Air-to-Ground radio transmission records on the YH Fire; USFS and USDA Office of General Counsel (OGC) emails regarding the possession and status of the AFUE records and contained in a "3-ring binder;" USFS and USDA direction on the AFUE records, USFS employees talking about the YH Fire; Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR) Weather Channel video by then WLFLLC Manager Britt Rosso sharing his thoughts on discussing and talking about the YH Fire and the GMHS; hearsay exception testimony from Agency employee conversation with GMHS Asst. Foreman Jesse Steed on the morning of June 30, 2013; Sun City West FD FFs photos and videos of June 30, 2013, aggressive fire behavior in the 1624 (4:24 PM) time period and several crossfade YouTube videos of the same by WTKTT; excerpts from the "Our Investigation - Our Truth" podcast talking about a "backburn" [firing operation]; creating and maintaining defensible space; 18 USC criminal codes regarding Federal records management and handling of records, including violations for concealing and / or destroying records; some interesting and informative AZ Republic articles, photos, and tweets posted as a Pulitzer Prize series, including alerting the Wickenburg hospital about the possibility of several injured firefighters; You Tube video clips of YH Fire IMT and misc. WF supervisors personnel radio transmissions pertaining to the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor area likely firing operation and observed fire behavior; discussions about wildland fire topography (saddles) and fire behavior (fluid dynamics and Venturi effect); and several human factors quotes.

Figure 26. PDF JPEG image of the Actions and Decisions & Orwellian Doublespeak - Coordinated Response Protocol (CRP) and Learning Review from Saddleback Tree Fatality Learning Review - Section 7.1 Introduction - p. 28 (USFS Modoc NF - CA) Source: USFS

The above Orwellian Doublespeak posted above as a PDF JPEG image comes from the USFS Modoc NF Saddleback Tree Fatality Learning Review. What follows is a key example of the word manipulation that your alleged "Investigators" are up to on a Learning Review of the fatal Saddleback Fire Tree Fatality where a Smokejumper was killed on the Modoc NF in Northern California on June 10, 2013..

( httpd:// ) You will need to copy and paste this link to access the Learning Review and / or Google search the details.

Please think about these bold and assertive Learning Review statements that follow. I think most readers would agree that these two individual words "actions" and "decisions" are clearly two separate and distinct words with two separate and distinct meanings. Right? Yet, this CRaP (I took some liberties here) bunch wants us to believe that "the difference between [them] could not be separated" and by merely placing a vertically diagonal slash (" / ") between the two words in the report made it acceptable as separate words individually or a "combination of both" words together. Furthermore, they go on to boldly assert matter-of-factually that the separate and distinct words "actions" and "decisions" are "consequences and not causes."

The authors confidently argue that this ongoing, unsettling word and truth manipulation has occurred with all wildfire SAIT Reports, Reviews, and the like where WFs were killed by fire - all the way back to the Mann Gulch Fire on the USFS Helena NF near Helena, Montana in 1949 where 12 Smokejumpers and one WF were killed by wildfire.

To respect words and their conveyance of reality is to show respect to the very foundation of U. To manipulate words is to seek to manipulate truth and to instead choose falsity and illusion over reality. The manipulation of words is itself a violent act. …” (emphasis added) (Cummins and Pieper)

Source: Cummins, M. (2011) Words: Pieper’s “Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power.” The Alternative Path

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In addition, the English, Political author George Orwell referred to the above as an "instrument for ...concealing or preventing thought" and that "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful." ... He went on to state that "It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. (emphasis added)

"Orwell refers to these words as "meaningless words" and goes on to state: "It is often easier to make up words of this kind ... if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. ... A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better." Orwell cautions that "This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases ... can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anesthetizes a portion of one's brain." (all emphasis added)

It all reeks of the insidious term "Doublethink" he describes in his novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four." Orwell continues: "Simply put, doublethink is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in one’s mind at the same time. ... To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to [be] contradictory and believing in both of them ... This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. ...Moreover, doublethink’s self-deception allows [those in control] to maintain huge goals and realistic expectations: ... Since 1949 ... the word doublethink has become synonymous with relieving cognitive dissonance by ignoring the contradiction between two world views—or even of deliberately seeking to relieve cognitive dissonance. ..." (all emphasis added) Source: George Orwell Politics & the English Language (1946)

With regard to the Figure 26 (above) Orwellian Doublespeak issues addressed, here are a couple of verification sources below, with debunk the "actions and decisions are consequences, not causes" falsehood.

"Research shows that people infer the time of their actions and decisions from their consequences."

"Consequences are the outcomes, or results, of your actions and decisions." (emphasis added) Source: Matute, H. et al (2017) Learning to infer the time of our actions and decisions from consequences. Consciousness and Cognition, 56

"When the unintended consequence of a decision is favorable, there is never an issue. The favorable outcome is considered a bonus. When the unintended consequence is adverse, depending on its impact, the decision-making process is questioned, as is the leader who made the decision. (emphasis added)

"In both of these cases (ignorance and error), leaders make decisions on issues without considering the unintended consequences, or before needed information is obtained. These are decisions that are not well thought out nor operationalized. (emphasis added)

"Immediacy of interest: where “someone wants the intended consequence of an action so much that he purposefully chooses to ignore any unintended effects,” to the peril of the decision maker and the organization. Hubris is one cause and is defined as excessive pride or self-confidence, arrogance." (emphasis added)

"Consequences and Responsibilities"

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Consider below the photos of Glendale FD patrol rig in Figure 27 (1556 - left) in Yarnell and unknown vehicle (1645 - right) on June 30, 2013, looking at respective increasingly aggressive fire behavior.

Figure 27. PDF JPEG images of June 30, 2013, 1556 (3:56 PM - left) in Yarnell from the Ranch House restaurant parking lot along Hwy. 89 and 1645 (4:45 PM - right) outside Yarnell near the Model Creek school area in Peeples Valley respectively, revealing WFs and FFs and their associated vehicles with increasing aggressive fire behavior and associated large smoke columns (plumes) in the background. The right photo reveals the GMHS burnover occurring in their deployment site. Source: PVFD

I question the intensity of the fire behavior observed in the Figure 27 (left) time of 1556 (3:56 PM). This detail may need to be examined further to determine if the camera setting was accurate and / or the metadata is accurate.

FIGURE 27 CORRECTION NOTICE: One of our contributing (non-local) authors incorrectly posted in our Washington, DC PowerPoint presentation captions that the direction the viewer is looking in the right photo is West. A Google Earth fact check revealed that the respective photographer, near the Model Creek school area in Peeples Valley, was actually facing in a Southeasterly direction. We apologize for any confusion or consternation this may have caused. Refer to Figure 27a Snippet below.

Figure 27a. Google Earth street-view image Snippet of approximately where the June 30, 2013, 1645 (4:45 PM) photograph was taken from next to the Model Creek school area outside Yarnell. The photo was taken from the vacant land next to the Model Creek school. The view is looking Southeasterly if you were standing where the photo was actually taken. Source: Google Earth

Therefore, the pair of photos in the Figure 27 AHFE PowerPoint presentation PDF JPEG image above reveals the Yarnell Hill Fire (YH Fire) scene on June 30, 2013, at the Ranch House restaurant parking lot (left) in Yarnell, AZ along Hwy. 89 and in Peeples Valley (right) near the Model Creek school area outside Yarnell, respectively. These photos reveal numerous WFs, FFs, and likely citizens as well, and their associated vehicles witnessing increasingly aggressive fire behavior with associated large smoke columns (plumes) in the background. Based on the time, the right photo reveals the fire behavior as the Granite Mountain Hot Shots (GMHS) fatal burnover is occurring in their deployment site.

Emphathetically, in both of the photos below in Figures 28 and 29, you readers can only imagine what we (two eyewitness hikers) experienced along with these WFs, FFs, reporters, and others are experiencing, thinking about, talking about, discussing internally and with others while they frustratingly listen to and anguish over the Tactical and Air-to-Ground radio transmissions of the GMHS, obviously in deep trouble, and then wondering - yet wanting to deny what they know is occurring - what they know from experience the final outcome will be.

Figure 28. PDF JPEG images of June 30, 2013, 1645 (DSC01159.JPG - 4:45 PM - left) and 1648 (4:48 PM - right), respectively showing WFs and FFs and supervisors and their associated vehicles, in the Ranch House restaurant parking lot off Hwy. 89 in Yarnell, AZ with noticeably more aggressive fire behavior in the background (right). Both photos reveal fire behavior at the time that the GMHS burnover was occurring while in their deployment site. Source: PVFD (left) and Michelle Lee (right)

Figure 29. PDF JPEG image of June 30, 2013, 1712 (5:12 PM) from Ranch House restaurant along Hwy. 89 in Yarnell. Smoke columns (plumes) visible in the background with WFs and FFs likely discussing what to do next and what just occurred with the GMHS burnover in their Deployment Zone. Source: Tom Story

Figure 30. Wildland Fire (WLF) LLC "Honoring the Fallen" November 2014 video talking about the June 30, 2013, YH Fire Source: WLFLLC and YouTube

"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King." Erasmus of Rotterdam This saying basically means that someone with even the slightest bit of vision or wisdom or knowledge could guide those who are ignorant or blinded from the truth, (i.e. the WLF LLC).

"Not many of you should become teachers ... because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." James 3:1.

Honor The Fallen - Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC) - October 2018

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The Wildland Fire LLC in the website link above asks a rather serious thought provoking, and somewhat disturbing question, and then they answer it somewhat ambiguously and equivocally making it tough to relate to and understand (posted below). They then challenge us to question our long held beliefs. Of course, we provide our responses, sometimes agreeing in total, sometimes in part, and sometimes challenging their challenges to us. Foremost, this is our First Amendment right and it is squarely in line with the WLF LLC Mission Statement: "To promote learning in the wildland fire service by providing useful and relevant products and services that help to reveal the complexity and risk in the wildland fire environment.".

"How exactly do we Honor the Fallen?" - "It's a tough question because it has a thousand answers. One of the most important ways to honor is to learn. We are always in danger of squandering the bitter opportunity that tragedy affords us." (emphasis added)

Absolutely, I agree that one of the most important ways to honor is to learn. However, what are we learning? Are we learning the truth about what happened and why? Or are we learning what the alleged "Progressive Thinkers" and detractors opposed to what works and those that want us to think that is solely and strictly within the confines of the SAIT-SAIR and nothing else?

The WLF LLC states: "This video is a glimpse of what many of us struggled with in the aftermath of the Yarnell Hill Fire. This is just a few fire folks walking the ground in January 2014 and grappling with how to advance our culture in the aftermath of devastation. ... Take a look, ... Making sense of bad outcomes is difficult, often impossible. ... But nobody wants the pain to be without benefit. ... Suffering without growth is tragic. ... Let's chose growth. ... One way to grow is to challenge long held beliefs." (emphasis added)

"One way to grow is to challenge long held beliefs. (emphasis added) This could be a true statement, however, the truer statement - from the alleged Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center - might be better interpreted and understood as utilizing those validated, tried-and-trued long held beliefs as "complete" lesson learned to be shared with other WFs, FFs, and those wanting to comprehend and understand.


"What are some of your long held beliefs? ... Are you willing to question them? ... Are you willing to consider a new perspective? ... And after all that, are you willing to actually alter your actions? ... Growth is difficult." (all emphasis added)

Apparently, this line of questioning is wholly based on the fact that these "few" WLF LLC "fire folks" strongly believe the SAIT-SAIR conclusion of "no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol" and that the entire YH Fire debacle and GMHS tragedy was an accident, just one of those things that happens, of whatever excuse they want to posit to square with the "no blame and no fault" way of thinking.

"What are some of your long held beliefs?" ... I believe in Almighty God and the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I believe in the strength and veracity of the tried-and-trued Rules of Engagement and the principles of Entrapment Avoidance. (e.g. Ten Standard Fire Orders, LCES, and the Watch Out Situations) There has never been a wildland fire mishap - by fire - when adhering to the Basic WF Rules.

"Are you willing to question them?" ... First off, why do I need to question them? They work and always have! I am NOT willing to question them. However, I am always more than willing to discuss them, defend them, and debate them if need be.

"Are you willing to consider a new perspective?" ... What is wrong with the "old" perspective that we need to question it? I am willing to consider a new perspective only if it enhances and /or improves upon the "old" perspective.

"And after all that, are you willing to actually alter your actions?" ... After all that, I am NOT willing to actually alter my actions, unless it enhances and /or improves upon the "old" perspective as stated above.

"Growth is difficult." Growth can be difficult, but not always, and it doesn't necessarily need to be.

These are the self-same individuals that, almost immediately after the YH Fire Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) was in place and certainly after the SAIT Serious Accident Investigation Report (SAIR), that were part of the intensive movement by many of the YHF SAIT members, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and select U.S. Forest Service (USFS) personnel to discredit the tried-and-trued "10 & 18" as well as the and the Rules of Engagement and principles of Entrapment Avoidance discussed elsewhere by former USFS Fire Director Jerry Williams. USFS Jerry Williams FMT link ( )These so-called, self-proclaimed experts believe that they are the only true guardians of what is to be discussed and believed of the tragic June 30, 2013, YH Fire wildland fire fatality truth and knowledge as published in the SAIT-SAIR. In other words, the "Party Line." They visited USFS Ranger Districts during their Critical Training sessions, Wildland Fire Training Academies, Wildland Fire Apprenticeship Academies, and many other forums to discredit the "Old School" ways as being ineffective "because 19 men died" - to focus only on the "official" and "factual" SAIT-SAIR for information and guidance.

The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (WLF LLC) YouTube video above states disingenuously that "This video was captured on site of the Yarnell Hill Fire in January 2014. The participants spent the day walking the ground and discussing the challenges facing the wildland fire service as a whole." (emphasis added) On the contrary, these were views discussed among and by themselves and NOT the wildland fire service as a whole, as they boldly claimed. These "progressive thinkers" say they want to protect their "Brothers" by "honoring" them in the process. And yet it is clear that they want to hide or obscure the facts of what transpired and why on the June 30, 2013, YH Fire - while insisting that these wildland fires are "too complex" and that we cannot do this alone anymore, that it basically takes the whole fire community because "no one individual or unit" is capable of that any longer, worst of all, from the USFS Program Manager for the National Apprenticeship Program, that the Basic WF Rules, the "10 and 18" no longer work and that we should instead have "luck decision conversations."

"Although we need the Word to keep things known in the common, people still treat specialists as if their nonsense were a form of wisdom." Heraclitus’s Fragments: Ancient Wisdom for a Changing World ( )

Even from circa 500 BC, Heraclitus’s advice is still valid because dangerously and disconcertingly, it is the unwary and trusting-without-verifying WFs and FFs that will treat these WLF LLC "specialists as if their nonsense were a form of wisdom."

This seems like a good segue to address the causal human factors as to the why question so many of us struggle with; why the GMHS did what they did is covered in this book by German psychologist, researcher, and author Dietrich Dorner (The Logic of Failure - 1998). They were most familiar with and fell right in line with what he remarkably concludes as being habitual: “... the violations of safety rules were by no means ‘exceptions’ committed for the first time. They had all been committed before – if not in this precise sequence – without consequences. They had become established habit in an established routine. The operators did things this way because it was the way they had always done them before.” (emphasis added)

A link follows for an excellent collection of short statements from Dietrich Dörner's The Logic of Failure: Recognizing and Avoiding Error in Complex Situations. Obviously, it falls far short of a viable substitute for reading and studying his book. The data collected in the many participants' own words show how people fail in their thinking and what behaviors aided them in understanding “dynamic systems” and thinking effectively and proficiently. ( )

Consider now a couple of recent WLF LLC posts titled: Has Nothing Changed? and What We Learned from the Yarnell Hill Fire Deaths (November 2018) Has Nothing Changed? November 1, 2018 / wildfire lessons - By Wildland Fire LLC Travis Dotson

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Pay particular attention to the insight of commenter "alex" who obviously speaks from experience, with some authority, with a fair amount of knowledge about the YH Fire debacle, the GMHS tragedy, working around / with some Hot Shot Crews, and the causal human factors that is counter to the SAIT-SAIR. Kudos to you "alex" and thank you for speaking your mind and sharing your thoughts.

"What We Learned from the Yarnell Hill Fire Deaths"

alex - November 2, 2018 at 10:05 am

"What we learned from Yarnell Hill. As an industry we learned that Arizona state OSHA and the Arizona Dept. of Forestry have very different interpretations of what needs changed and who might be to blame. We also learned that absolutely no one knows what actually happened. By now we have learned that people want to put a sticker on their hardhat, lament the tragedy and pretend like it never happened." (emphasis added)

On the contrary, there are plenty of WFs and FFs and Supervisors that were there that day that know exactly what actually happened ... and why.

And they "know exactly what actually happened" that day, and that include yourselves - those reading this post. You do know exactly what happened, you just don't exactly know why!They were just firefighters. This is not what they were trained [to do]. Hotshots are never “just firefighters”. Hotshots are the elite of firefighting. They answer to no one below a division supervisor on the hill, they make decisions affecting the entire fire, they communicate with adjoining resources when they deem it necessary, they are completely independent of the fire to the point that they don’t even stay in camp with the 'just firefighters'. All of this culminates into a culture of machismo and elitism so strong that 19 people died and no one has any clue why they moved, where they were going or even what their intention was. How is it that we have hundreds of people operating on the line every day who have no accountability and are given such amazing leeway to make whatever decision they want without any outside input that 19 people died with the entire fire thinking that they were in a safety zone up to the moment they futilely tried to break through the radio chatter to try to get support." (emphasis added)

The guy is actually more on point than he realizes in many respects from the WFs and FFs that engage in wildland firefighting that I have talked to over the years since this tragedy occurred. And the "19 people died and no one has any clue why they moved, where they were going or even what their intention was" is classic GMHS pattern under the GMHS leadership.

"I know that if I took my crew out of a safety zone to march through decadent brush, without communicating with anyone, on a day when shifting, strong winds were expected. If I survived, I would be prosecuted." (emphasis added)

Prosecuted may be a bit much but chastised for sure. And more than likely you would not do that nor hopefully, have you done that.

"The fire culture of elitism allows crews to operate with no oversight and little accountability as long as the word “hotshot” is written across their vehicles." (emphasis added)

There is some truth to his claim about the fire culture of elitism allowing crews to operate with no oversight and little accountability as long as the word “hotshot” is written across their vehicles.

"This isn't about the inherent danger of the industry." (emphasis added)

Except for the Draconian punishment for foolishly marching through decadent brush without communication during strong winds, alex once again, is more on point than he realizes. It is a rather foolish and quite dangerous habit to hike through the unburned that fits right into the "Normalization of Deviance" and the "Bad Decisions With Good Outcomes" category worthy of some serious correction. And prosecuted for sure for being responsible for killing your men.

Whether alex or anyone else likes it or believes it or not, it really is "about the inherent danger of the industry" because wildland firefighting in general and Hot Shot Crews in particular, are key components of the wildland fire industry; so they are just gonna have to get over it and deal with it ... unless they want to be a part of changing it in order to reduce WF and FF wildfire fatalities.

alex - November 21, 2018 at 10:43 am "Please forgive me if this comes off as argumentative or insensitive. The impression that hotshot crews operate independent of instruction comes not only from decades of working next to them but also from the fact that 19 of them died and even now, no one has any idea what they were doing or why they left the safety of the black. Yes Eric Marsh was assigned as the Div. Sup. and this led to even less communication outside of that crew and no oversight whatsoever as the only overhead assigned to supervise that was part of the crew. Obviously the plan formulated by boots on the ground was bought (sic) into by the Div. Sup. because he was a crewmember and probably helped to create it. This is not independent? Who did he run that plan by that was his supervisor?" (emphasis added)

As stated above, on the contrary, there are plenty of WFs and FFs and Supervisors that were there that day that know exactly what they were doing. And a pretty good "idea why they left the safety of the black." And that includes yourselves - those reading this post. For one, no one held a literal gun to their heads and forced them to leave the black. They left of their own free will. Figuratively, they may have succumbed to the "perception is reality" fallacy so often bandied about and therefore, they may have felt emotionally compelled to obey an unsafe order.

Under stress, perception can have the force of reality. Make reality the reality."The point that I am trying to make is that while hotshots may be “problem solvers” or “the tip of the spear” ,they are still given more latitude than any other resource outside of smokejumpers. This is viewed as carte blanche to operate any way they feel. I have personally seen the results of this in having backburns lit under my crew by hotshot crews that no one knew were in the area, having aerial resources currently In (sic) use redirected by hotshots without any communication whatsoever, having hotshot supervisors give direction to my crewmembers without any recognition of chain of command and literally countless times that my crew has had to work adjacent to them only to have them pretend like we didn’t exist and I receive nothing but condescension, disdain and impatience from the supervisor when I make an attempt to communicate with adjoining resources (talk to the hotshots). Nothing has changed in regards to this behavior. I received that exact condescension, and disdain this season even." (emphasis added)

Once again, Mr. alex is actually more on point than he realizes in many respects from the WFs and FFs that engage in wildland firefighting that I have talked to over the years concerning his views on HS Crews, albeit somewhat jaded or maybe just experienced.