• Fred J Schoeffler and Joy A Collura

Doug Campbell (RiP) Did the PFD GMHS Know or Ignore his Tried-and-True Campbell Prediction System?

This preferred Title replaces the Wix website size constraints version - Doug Campbell (RiP) Did the Prescott FD Granite Mountain Hot Shots (GMHS) Even Know, Train In, or Ignore his Tried-and-True Campbell Prediction System leading up to and including their detriment on June 30, 2013? Part 1 of 2

Views expressed to "the public at large” and "of public concern"

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Abbreviations used below: Wildland Firefighters (WFs) - Firefighters (FFs).

Doug Campbell passed away in Ojai, CA on July 13, 2021. This is a tribute to our self-avowed Politically Incorrect Hot Shot Friend and Brother, Mentor, Leader, Visionary, and Creator of the Campbell Prediction System (CPS). Doug Campbell (RiP) was truly a remarkable man with a wide range of wildland fire interests in fire behavior, leadership, and human factors; enhanced by always being grounded by family, friends, loved ones, and collegues. Whatever he did, he did it with eagerness, enthusiasm and enjoyment. He was always respectful and always logical. He was at ease "speaking truth to power" for the benefit of all WFs and FFs.

He taught us to think of the predicted fire behavior intuitively, in terms of logic. Doug was truly blessed with an incredibly brilliant mind, equipped to reach the highest intellect, and yet still able to identify with and relate the simple aspects of reading a wildfire's signature to discern what it was telling us. He died, much too soon. However, many of us were blessed to have attended his lectures and read and researched and applied his works. And this is what was to eventually become the Campbell Prediction System (CPS). We promise to pass this "Old School" work on to others. Thank you. We will miss you.

Figure 1. Campbell Prediction System (CPS) website. Source: CPS, Bob Becker

Figure 2. Doug Campbell (RiP) news article unknown publication and date. Source: LinkedIn

Figure 3. CPS founder Doug Campbell (RiP) Tucson Sentinel article photo internet search. Photo not in actual online article. Source: Tucson Sentinel

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127: 1-5 (NKJV)

“The search for truth implies a duty. One must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.” Albert Einstein

In response to knowing of Mr. Campbell's passing, accolades like this one from an "Old School" Northern Rockies Hot Shot Supt. are common:

"Thanks for letting me know Fred. He was a good man and contributed a lot to ff safety. I learned more from him in one 8hr session than all the other fire behavior classes and lectures I attended through the years."

Here are several other from Wildfire Community Forum:

"FSFF - CPS is so simple and critical for a basic understanding of fire behavior. Thank you Doug for you (sic) innovation."

"Keestrokes - Got to spend time with him driving him around on the Aguanga fire in 84, my first season. Was like having a portable classroom for 10 days. Learned so much that a 40 hr would not even be in the same breath as training. He truly believed in the CPS and showed it worked every day. A true pioneer in Wildland Firefighting."

The author took the liberty of correcting some of the minor spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors in the sources provided; and also provided select links and / or hyper links as well throughout this post to the best of of the author's abilities. They will show up in an underlined, somewhat faded appearance. Clicking on the link twice will reveal a blue link which will take you to the source after clicking on it again.

The Campbell Prediction System - A Wildland Fire Prediction and Communication System - Fourth Edition - Author Doug Campbell

CPS Book Contents

Title Page - Preface - Introduction

Chapter 1: Predicting Change --

Chapter 2: Cause and Effect

Chapter 3: Solar Preheating

Chapter 4: Alignment of Forces

Chapter 5: Fire Signatures

Chapter 6: How to Say What You Know

Chapter 7: Now What Do I Do?

Chapter 8: Don’t Bother Me Now

Chapter 9: New Tools

Chapter 10: The Fayette Incident

Part 2: CPS Rx

Chapter 11: CPS Rx – Prescriptive Burning

Chapter 12: CPS Rx – Alignment of Forces

Chapter 13: CPS Rx – Fire Behavior Observations

Chapter 14: CPS Rx – Fire Modeling

Appendix 1: Pertinent Information from the Fire Weather Handbook

Appendix 2: CPS Rx Example Escape Analysis and Test Burn Form



Recent CPS Posts

"Training, Readiness, Accountability & Proficiency (TRAP) - Fire Management in a nutshell: Hiring green people, putting them into various fire modules to protect the National Forest from wildfire damage is the reoccurring operation of fire management.

At first the crews are liabilities. Developing them into a cohesive protection force, following the guidelines of policy, forest objectives, and a Ranger’s changing focus is not a science. An old Chinese proverb is that “vision without action is a daydream and action without vision is a nightmare.” With a shared mission and vision statement proper accountability can create a better organization.

Journeymen fire technicians usually strive to gain the maximum protective capability and provide the margin of safety required early in the season. Rangers and management staff often overlook the value of and the need for the investment in training to accomplish this. TRAP is a program that displays the ingredients of a sensible fire management program and shows the relationship of influences upon that program. The program helps to foster an attitude of shared responsibility from the Line Officer and Staff to the firefighter crew-person.

At the start of fire season the Forest objective is to require proficient fire modules by July first. The Ranger wants a commitment from fire modules for project work during the formation of the modules. The DFMO knows there is not much accountability for the proficiency of the fire module but that the ramification of an under-trained crew of a wildfire could be life-threatening or the crew could easily become over-extended beyond their capabilities and fail to accomplish the assignment; thereby adding acres and threats to the crew.

The project on the other hand, is very visible and the Ranger can easily see accomplishment, or the lack of it. The trade-off of readiness for a project target is eminent [clear, obvious] The fire training and readiness is at a disadvantage in competing for priority. The right thing to do is obvious to the technician. The Ranger cannot see the concern because the background required visualizing the complexity is normally many years in the business of reading crews and fighting fires with them.

This kind of barrier to communication can be overcome. The ranger has little time to spend learning the intricacies, and needs a quick way to evaluate the whole situation so that he can make a good decision that the DFMO will accept without feeling he is responsible for an impossible situation.




The Cramer Incident - review of the 2003 Cramer Fire showing the similarities with the South Canyon Fire and demonstrating how the application of CPS using the Alignment of Forces concept could have prevented the two fatalities.

Figure 4. Image of CPS review of Cramer Fire fatalities consisting of 25 slides in PowerPoint format. Another Way to Prevent Reoccurrence. Source: CPS Cramer Fire

The July 22, 2003, Cramer Fire was "a tactical failure" and compares and contrasts the 1994 South Canyon Fire. Learning From the Past or Repeating it?

Visit the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Cramer Fire fatal wildland fire entrapment (ID - SCF) Incident Review for further research requiring extreme, critical discernment. You need to do this with the well known knowledge that ALL such mishaps are cover-ups, lies, and whitewashes based on preconceived "conclusions" with select "facts" to support it.

The Consequences of Politically Correct Management

When the Forest Service changed to a Politically Correct organization it resulted in hindering old standards of supervision. It took the authority to hire and fire away leaving the supervisors with the full responsibility of those peoples’ well-being and the safety of subordinates but less authority to act as before.

When selected as a Hot Shot superintendent I hired my temporary personnel. I made out the pay documents. I set the rules of behavior and let it be known that they would be enforced with discipline and at the worst-case termination. I found that this authority assured compliance and terminations were few.

As the District Fire staff on two districts I had occasion to terminate some who deserved it: One was a crew person who exposed his genitals to a Forest Service wife in the station compound. Two were guys found to be spreading fire as a crew was cutting fire line. Another was a firebug suspect who was finally caught in the act. The last person terminated directly was using drugs on duty, which was a firing offense. This was just before political correctness (PC) was implemented. How does one supervise someone if you cannot provide discipline when needed?

On some fire assignments some crew supervisors have taken their crew into high hazard situations and been run out. How many crew leaders have used a frightening situation to create a feeling in the crew of acceptance to follow the leader anywhere? Proper overseeing would be to sit the supervisor on a stump and tell the person to read the fire better and avoid these situations in the future. Do it again and you will be disciplined.

Fred Schoeffler’s paper [ Epic Human Failure on June 30, 2013 - AHFE (2018) ] has it right, that poor tactical actions that are risky but with no bad outcome are reoccurring with little proper oversight. What are the basic tools for proper supervision? Oversight is needed for the supervisor and by the supervisor. A weak link here is a potential built-in human factor problem.

I can just hear cries that we cannot go back to past procedures as PC makes things much better in the work place. Is it our vision is to abolish discipline administered by supervisors and replace it with write them up and report them to my superior? Crew supervisors need to have responsibility and authority to properly manage a group of firefighters. Supervision by “snitch” is just not acceptable as a viable control.

Crew supervisors and managers no longer provide common sense supervision practices under the current management program. Could failure of supervision be the unintended consequence of an agency attempting to become politically correct?

Providing appropriate supervision has been curtailed to the firefighters that deserve proper supervision. I think there is a lot more on this side of the problem to discuss but managing by PC may be a design fault. Unless proper authority to provide control to crew supervisors is restored the human factor accidents will continue to be a problem. It will not be fixed until this constraint of limited authority to properly manage firefighters is removed.

Supervisors should have oversight also. If a supervisor oversteps authority, the supervisor should be disciplined.

A reasonable recommendation would be to develop supervisors to use the authority properly. Depending on rules and guidelines like the ten’s and eighteens are necessary but not infallible. Crew supervisors usually prioritize the rules when sizing up an assignment. How important is my chosen escape route or my selected safe area today? If people misread the fire potential they cannot accurately predict fire changes that may be important. In high risk environments supervisors need to be competent.

We should not make heroes of victims of poor decisions; rather we should make heroes of people who do it right. The heroes are the people who lead crews in effective tactics and have no accidents in their past.

When Heroes are made of the firefighters who have been injured or killed what message does that send to the new hires? Do some think they too would like to be known as a hero? Why do we think that victims of accidental burnovers are heroes? Maybe we should seriously define our vision; that is, what one wants to become. Be careful what you wish for.

Many firefighters have made improvements to things within their control. These folks have gone beyond what was required and contributed improvements based on their experience and proven results.

Some examples are: Training, Readiness, Accountability and Proficiency (TRAP Drill programs) and IAP on I-pad. Wildfire Management Tool, “WMT”, which is a quick way to display weather values and BEHAVE calculations on a map using any mobile device. Another example is the Campbell Prediction System publication and training course. This was taught in many states in the United States, Canada, and Spain, accepted by field level management folks as a standard for how to read a wildfire and predict the changes in that arena.

This should be a goal for all firefighters and managers. Unfortunately, in this PC environment they face resistance to many good improvements. Sure, they can apply for an employee’s suggestion idea but that seems not enough.

Firefighters’ Concepts - A Questioning Exercise

Firefighters have some teaching that may lead to beliefs about information that is used to predict fire behavior changes. It is these believes (sic) that are responsible for many firefighters becoming trapped by unexpected changes in the fires behavior. In an effort to reduce the unexpected fire behavior situations this exercise using a questioning strategy is written. The purpose of this exercise is to combine your intuition and logic to fully explain what you believe.

The main question is: Do crew-leaders have enough fire behavior knowledge to predict normal variations in fire behavior to assure them of safe leadership on wildfire situations?

Fire danger the relative danger of a fire in an area. Fire behavior is the differences of fire signatures in a specific area of the fire ground and is time sensitive.


  • Which do you rely on, fire danger or fire behavior, to determine your assigned wildland fire tactic?

  • What are the causes of changes in fire behavior?

  • Where on the fire-ground does air temperature or humidity cause changes in fire behavior?

  • Does solar radiation have a larger effect on fuel moisture than humidity?

  • How would you call a difference between fuel in the sun and fuel in the shade?

  • Why do solar radiated forest fuels burn differently than shaded fuels?

  • Are tactics different between types of fires?

  • Can you describe a fire by type and use the appropriate tactical approach for suppression?

  • Why is timing of a tactical plan important?

  • At what time of day are there more extremes in fire behavior and why?

  • If you have a map of a fire perimeter, can you describe the future of the fire? “What is the fire telling you?”

  • When you fly or observe a wildland fire what information are you gathering and for what purpose?

  • Pick a map of a wildland fire showing perimeters or spread perimeters and describe what information you gain from the map.

  • How can you tell where the fire behavior changes will go beyond the threshold of control or safety?

  • Can you identify by a symbol or a word these points on a map?

  • Can you assign a word for a predicted head fire signature?

  • Can you make a fire behavior prediction on where and when the fire behavior thresholds of control will change?

  • Do you have a language to explain the cause of fire behavior change as well as the cause, timing and location of a potential run?

  • If you do not know how the fire behavior will change are you at risk?

  • If you cannot explain your prediction can you share your prediction effectively?

  • Should a designated lookout have the knowledge and experience to provide safety by the observations made?

Wildland Fire Burnovers: More or Less? -

Using the Experience of Wildland Firefighters

There are many experienced wildland firefighters who have learned the art of wildland fire fighting. These individuals have vital safety procedures and knowledge that could be made available.

Also, a number of important programs have been invented that, when implemented, add to the safety of wildland firefighters. Some of the programs are:

The Campbell Prediction System (CPS) that teaches how to think, and predict fire behavior changes and when an attack can prevail or fail.

( )

Drill programs that assures crews and individuals can perform to an acceptable standard before dispatch.

The Wildland Management Tool (WMT) that improves calculations of BEHAVE and incorporates new language and concepts.

( )

Field Leadership training improvements that establish valid and appropriate standards.

Mission and Vision [M & V] statements to guide decision making. The Mission is what you do, the Vision is what do you want to become. Establishing Mission and Vision statements for all who direct people should be a standard requirement. Supervisors should review and council their folks in order to school them in the necessity of acceptable statements. Some accidents can be traced back to the M & V of individuals who have poor missions and visions. Statements of “becoming the best” had better have a scale or that is simply a foolish wish.Do supervisors or accident investigators inquire as to the M & V of leadership folks?

Do all individuals know and demonstrate how they determine when and where a wildland fire will change and become subject to control or not? Can they name the training program they depend on to assure the action they propose to control wildland fire situations is safe and effective?

The administration–from the Supervisors level to the national centers of wildfire administration–does not incorporate these improvements. As they are presented to the administration, the ideas are resisted or discounted at one of the levels of the fire management system.

There seems to be no program to incorporate such improvements into the overall program. When the originators of any change of thinking retire or give up, the improvements are lost or halted at the next level above the ground troops.

This note is intended to bring this situation to light. There is no program to capture new and important information and incorporate it into the national system for all who fight the wildfires. All can benefit from knowledge gained over years of doing the job.

One thing that I have observed is that there is no oversight for the District unit management that helps the to bring their unit up to a known standard.

My mission and vision has been to improve and make wildland fire fighting and management safer for the firefighter and to employ the knowledge that has been developed by firefighters.

A recommended path to this mission and vision would be to employ a task force of people who have provided improvements to the system to gather the knowledge and implement the findings with the full support of the Secretary of Agriculture and the president of the United States of America.

The results of this plan will reduce the hazard to wildland firefighters. To disregard this is an admission by the agencies of a resistance to the changes needed to reduce wildfire accidents.

Consider now the first Fire Order and four (#4, 5, 14, and 15) of the Watch Out Situations, dealing with the Fire Weather aspect of wildland firefighting

Cliff Mass Weather Blog This blog discusses current weather, weather prediction, climate issues, and current events July 02, 2013 - The Yarnell Hill Fire: The Meteorological Origins

Two days after the June 30, 2013, Yarnell Hill Fire and GMHS debacle, Dr. Mass had this to say. "This morning I took a look at the meteorology associated with the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona on Sunday, and the more I dug into it, the more disturbed I got. You will see why as I explain."

"The existence of the strong convective outflow winds is confirmed by an amazing video of the area from 4 to 4:20 PM ... . You will see strong winds picking up, an explosion of the fire, and then smoke pushing down towards the cam. You can see fire line explode along the crest."

Consider now some select Cliff Mass blog (YH Fire - Meteorological Origins) comments below from those with both wildland fire and wildland fire weather experience. Several are quite accurate and rather telling. The author took the liberty of correcting some of the minor grammar, spelling, punctuation, errors; and provided select links and / or hyper links as well.

"Tim Vashon July 2, 2013 at 3:11 PM

I was involved in the formation of Prescott's very first hotshot crew back in the early 70's. It started out as a Type II crew then became a Type 1 hotshot crew in 1973 -all under the USFS. ..... One thing that is driving me crazy about the way the media is reporting this is exactly what you point out - that somehow the weather was all a big surprise. What people do not seem to realize is that the fire itself creates its own dynamics, this is well known and should be anticipated. Planning an attack on a wildfire starts out with a series of "IF" questions, the biggest of which is: "What IF what we think turns out to be wrong? If we go to position X, what do we do if the winds reverse or change? What do we do if things go to hell?" Over the years, a series of rules and methods have been developed that account for even the most extreme conditions. It is a well known pattern of tragedies that no single decision is the cause, it is a series of mistakes, miscalculations and misjudgments taken together that are the problem. This time it will be no different. Losing an entire hotshot crew means some bad thing happened at the response co-ordination level, weather communications being just one."

"Wannabe AZ weather guy July 3, 2013 at 9:45 AM

The storm wind change was no surprise at this time of year. ... I believe the hot shot comand (sic) should have known weather would be unstable by looking up at the large structured cumulus clouds push that Cold Air mass that naturally falls towards the heat below 1500 feet. Again, locals expect this storm, and the Yarnell hill fire exacerbates moisture towards heat and every local would tell you there would be strong winds and maybe rain coming an hour ahead of the front moving S. That fire had a bullseye on it expecting S to SW winds to blow with verga rain or rain with extreme hail, with the fire that was unlikely to see rain or hail, but strong winds and unstable rain at about 1500 to 1800 hours (mst) will very likely be seen. "

"RentonRebelJuly 3, 2013 at 3:29 PM

@ WXMAN42, <

> d) As Cliff meticulously pointed out, the technology existed to prevent the deadly "surprise" on the Fire Fighters. I agree that lessons can and will be learned from this disaster. My point is that we need not wait for death to learn lessons. Meteorological research and resources are a public good which MUST be financed by the public it supports. Yes, the process exists where if requested an IMET is assigned. It was not requested in this case. The ability to assist fire fighters in fires large AND small exists without dependency upon special requests. This ability is specifically not employed because of political budget constraints. The policy to wait until death necessitates change processes is a political budget decision, one which is demanded by one specific political party and ineffectively repudiated by the other.""


Thank you for your analysis Dr. Mass. I am an NWS Incident Meteorologist based in Anchorage, AK, ..... The reason there was no Incident Meteorologist at the Yarnell Hill fire when it blew up was that it was still a "Type 2" or "Type 3" fire, not large or complex enough for the "Type 1" rating at that point to require a larger Incident Management Team. Who almost always will request an Incident Meteorologist. No matter what we do as well, as Incident Meteorologists, there are some realities to face. For instance, while serving as an IMET on a fire near Stanley, ID in 2006 I forecast isolated dry thunderstorms to occur in the afternoon around the fire area. ... At 4 pm that day (9/02/2006) isolated thunderstorms developed over one of the fires in the complex, and a strong downburst wind pushed the fire toward 34 crewmembers. I was not able to warn for this, lightning detection just showed 1-2 strikes after the fact some miles away. ... Yet all 34 firefighters were able to run through their pre-defined escape route to their safety zone, and made it. They were out of radio contact with our base for 90 minutes while this was occurring! ... So it is the training and quick action of the firefighters following their standard orders, in addition to our weather support, that keeps everyone safe. Thank you, Michael Richmond"

"Anonymous July 4, 2013 at 8:26 AM


> There are a couple of things bothering me at this time. Live and dead fuel moistures at the time of the event were at historic lows. Fuel loading was at historic highs. As Malcolm Gladwell would say; "this is an outlier". This type of weather is typical for this burning period. What was not typical was the state of the fuels. On any other year a red flag watch or warning would not be issued for this geographical area for the threat of thunderstorms. But on Sunday with the georgraphical (sic) area under extreme burning conditions maybe it least a red flag watch could have been posted. I don't want to armchair the weather office but it needs to be looked at. You don't want to be pulling the flag up unless it warrants it. South Canyon was issued a red flag warning in 1994. Chris Cuoco' message never made it to the fireline. That was the tragedy. There have been countless burnovers and close calls from thunderstorms. Hell,the dude fire did the same thing. Predictable is preventable. You you can count on a fire being unpreditable under such conditions. That's the thing. In the end it is predictable. ... You can bet on the lack of acting on intuition which brought flam[e] on there backs. Just like Mann Gulch and South Canyon. Assumptions of the person above you in rank or in other agencies who knows what they are doing and not wanting to question their actions. We will see."

"TacomaSailor July 5, 2013 at 5:08 PM

The Wildfire Lessons Learned Center ( [] ) has a searchable database (Incident Reviews) of wildfire incidents going back many decades. The reviews of past incidents (in this case "entrapment" or "burnover") are very detailed and contain critical assessments and recommendations. Unfortunately, that database contains far too many similar incidents of entrapment due to sudden, but predictable, wind shifts. As mentioned the Dude Fire (Walk Moore Canyon in Payson, Arizona 1990) was very similar in cause and result with six fire fighters trapped and killed by a sudden wind shift due to convective activity. As a result of that incident many changes were instituted to diminish the potential for entrapment due to sudden, and somewhat predictable, wind shifts. The Australian Rural Firefighting organization produced a video in 2000

( youtube ) [The Dead Man Zone - the dead man zone is defined as the area that a fire can change direction in five mins] that documents the dangers due to sudden wind shifts. They detail many tragic events that have [o]ccurred during wildland fires in Australia. My understanding is that video is a required training item for all US wildland fire fighters. It is hard for me to understand how, with the strict standards set for US wildland fire fighters, especially LCES, and the modern understanding of the effect of rapidly moving convective activity on wildland fires, especially in steep terrain with many closed drainages how the Granite Mountain Hotshots were assigned the task that led them to their entrapment and how spot forecasts were not demanded by their superintendent, and how Yarnell Incident Command did not order their withdrawal when the convective activity moved so rapidly toward them. I am sure the Lessons Learned Center will do their usual good job of determining where the breakdown occurred in forecasting, or communicating, or on the ground decision making. ...

"Aaron Troy Small July 11, 2013 at 8:39 PM

@WXMAN42 Is there some reason that a direct comparison couldn't be made between this fire and the Dude Ck Fire ( [] )? Sincerely, it appears that virtually the same situation occurred again, yet nobody had learned from the last one, so it was repeated. The USDA Forest Service has to understand that when forecasted weather conditions show the risk of extreme fire behavior, it is going to be awfully hard to explain why people were exposed to it merely to protect property, despite the increased risk. No fire on extreme fire days is routine and no one should send crews in assuming it will be routine. [OSH