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How Could the YHF Type 3 Org. July 2, 2013, AAR Cross The Line to Proclaim Excellence? 19 GMHS Died!

Author: Douglas Fir (Fred J. Schoeffler) and PRR Owner Joy A. Collura

Restating the post title beyond the pesky, meager Wix title space allowance: How Could the Yarnell Hill Fire Type 3 Organization After Action Review (AAR) On July 2, 2013, Cross the Line By Claiming Their Excellence When 19 GMHS Died?

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

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


Figure 1. John Adams "Facts are stubborn things" quote Source: Zazzle

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate. Proverbs 8:13 (NKJV)

"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right" - Thomas Paine, Common Sense, February 14, 1776.

"These are the times that try men's souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." Thomas Paine - The American Crisis. December 19, 1776

"Foolishness is more than being stupid, that deadly combination of arrogance and ignorance." Paul David Tripp (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) pastor, award-winning author, and international conference speaker. His nonprofit ministry exists to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.


This post concerns an After Action Review (AAR) performed on July 2, 2013, by key Type 3 Organization members of the June 30, 2013, YH Fire and GMHS debacle. This was a mere two days after the fatal GMHS event where 19 men died and 129 structures burned. The YHFR authors somewhat understand their encouraging stances to keep their Type 3 Organization going, even though they naively refer to themselves as a "Team." This little-known crucial AAR document lay dormant, hidden, and unnoticed in the confines of the AZ State Forestry Public Records for several years! And like some buried treasure, none of us unprivileged - "on the outside" - had any idea that this Public Record created by ostensible Public Officials - even existed. Indeed, none of us were looking for it either because outside the confines of the Type 3 Organization it was a well-kept secret. Until now! Over eight years of silence is a compelling reason to question the YH Fire Type 3 Organization's motives and post it publically.

The authors will also address several academic and organizational renditions of the After Action Review (AAR) process, examining the Type 3 Organizations hidden AAR as a whole as well as each of the individual participant responses; IC Hall's SAIT interview; other's reflections about the YH Fire and GMHS debacle; the known hazardous attitude of Groupthink, including its Team Player cousin that come into play; the downside of "consensus management" which has been determined to be the "absence of leadership;" Self-Justification and Cognitive Dissonance; the Wildland Rules and Guidelines, (i.e. Fire Orders and Watch Outs, etc.); Decisions and Outcomes matrix; justification(s) to publish their hidden AAR for the public good; references by IC Hall to the August 1985 Butte Fire shelter deployment provide an opportunity for brief discussions; encouraged Entrapment Avoidance recommendations, and finally, answering the YHFR post title question. Source information and /or links are provided as much as possible and as available online.


According to Michael DeGrosky, CEO of The Guidance Group in Wisdom Montana (2005): "The After Action Review is a process technique that uses a review of experience to avoid recurrent mistakes and reproduce success. As a vehicle for capturing and learning from experience, the AAR provides an effective tool of continuous learning for the organization." (emphasis added) Source: Butler, B.W. & Alexander, M.E. Eds. 2005. Eighth Intl. Wildland FF Safety Summit: Human Factors - 10 Years Later; April 2005; Missoula, MT. The Intl. Assoc. of Wildland Fire (IAWF), Hot Springs, SD."

So then, based on DeGrosky's accurate definition, should we question the motives of these Public Servants? Remember, that one of the "Three Big Lies" is "Trust us, we work for the Government and we're here to help you." Yes, indeed we should question their motives because their AAR reflects on what appears to be based on an overwhelming "consensus" that they had an "excellent" Team and did an "excellent job" and that they "must continue to be a deployment asset to the State of Arizona for near future fires." Most surprisingly, there were comments regarding their "sound decisions;" and unsurprisingly, that any errors or blunders or omissions were chalked up to "system failures" or the like rather than taking personal responsibility and owning up to them. The Command and General Staff and Operations sections were particularly problematic in "the lack of a Safety Officer" which they did acknowledge, to their credit, as a "significant void;" and there is strong suggestive evidence that one or both of the OPS ordered the GMHS off the Weavers that June 30, 2013, afternoon.

“'I think the staff ride is an insult to all of their loved ones because it hasn’t yet told the truth,' says Ted Putnam, a retired wildfire fatality investigator and Chino Valley resident who has been conducting an unofficial investigation of the Yarnell Hill Fire. 'The biggest tribute we should do for these firefighters is to tell the truth. ... Putnam says he has direct information from multiple firefighter sources who were at the fire in conjunction with evidence contained in investigation reports that leave no doubt in his mind that Arizona Forestry Division fire supervisors ordered Granite Mountain to come off the mountain and go to Yarnell. ... Putnam says the report’s conclusion defies logic. Putnam does not believe that Granite Mountain Hotshot [S]uperintendent Eric Marsh would have ordered his crew to leave its safe zone unless he was pressured by superiors to get the crew to Yarnell. ... 'Marsh’s action make (sic) no sense at all unless he was ordered off the top,' Putnam says. ... he cannot reveal his sources because they provided the information under the promise of confidentiality. But, Putnam says, he would provide complete details in a trial or other formal setting where he was asked to testify under oath.”

“'The incident management team screwed up just as bad as Eric (Marsh), and Steed did,' he says." (all emphasis added)

Source: Dougherty, John (April 4, 2016) Wildfire expert alleges state coverup on eve of hotshot families’ Yarnell field trip [Staff Ride]. InvestigativeMEDIA.

So then it sure looks and sounds like a no-brainer to the authors and others. Somebody with some funding and testicular fortitude should sue some of the YH Fire operational players into Federal Court so that Dr. Putnam can "provide complete details in a trial or other formal setting where he [would be] asked to testify under oath" and share what he knows.


The former prime minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher had this to say about some of the flaws of consensus: "Ah consensus … the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner I stand for consensus?" (emphasis added) Dolfing, H. (2019) Consensus is the Absence of Leadership.

Along this path of examination, it follows that there were certainly some issues regarding what author Kevin Hogan (public speaker and corporate trainer, teaching about persuasion, influence, body language, emotional intelligence, communication, and motivation) (2005) considered as the "Principles of Larger Numbers." The entire YH Fire Type 3 Organization appeared to have fallen right into this trap based on their July 2, 2013, AAR. Hogan noted: "It is a known fact that madness is the exception in individuals and far more common in groups. ... Groupthink takes over and people will follow the vocal proponents of a proposition. Most people are like sheep waiting for the slaughter. ... the more people there are in a group the more likely that the vast majority of the group will comply with whatever the leader is proposing. ... People act like animals in groups and are easily herded. ... Those in group settings are led by the unconscious minds of the rest of the group. ... the unconscious mind is far more reactive and emotional than the analytical conscious mind. The conscious mind rests in group settings, making [it] an easy target for both an ethical leader and an unethical" instigator. (emphasis added) The Science of Influence. pp. 78-79

In support, human performance consultants and authors LaReau and Long (2018) have this to say about the insidious Groupthink and maneuvering through the "Fog of War": "No group thinking. This is not the time for 'going with the flow' or sheepish behavior to avoid confrontation. If participants have a growth mindset, criticism can remain constructive and will be recognized as an opportunity to get better, not as a threat. Are you usually the loudest person in the room? If so, recognize that, and don’t hog the floor. Disseminate the information and rotate the discussion. Give everyone the floor to speak. ... Respect the perspectives of everyone involved. How you saw things will be different from the way others saw them. Call it a 'Fog of War.'” (emphasis added)

In 2006, Kevin Hogan teamed up with James Speakman (professional speaker, corporate trainer, and President of Speakman & Associates LLC) to go much deeper into those dark subjects to write "Covert Persuasion: Psychological Tactics and Tricks to Win the Game" which is rife with the diabolical and nefarious Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) language. Regrettably, NLP is considered to be an acceptable communication technique by some even with its dark history. Consider this "Reflective Resolutions" website for her marginally balanced viewpoint article titled "What is wrong with NLP?" "Covert Persuasion Tactic #28 - Don't Ask 'Why' Because the Answer is Meaningless. - It's often a big mistake to ask people why they decided to [do something]. ... Why? Because people don’t know why they do what they do. They simply cannot explain the reasons behind the decisions they make. But they will quickly tell you what they think you want to hear or something that makes them look good. But the truth, or the real core reasons, will never be known."

"Because they don’t know the answer to “why?”, just don’t ask the question. The key to success for you is to covertly deal with the subconscious mind while you persuade the conscious mind. ..." pp. 74-75 (all emphasis added)


In the book Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard (1980) there's a chapter titled: "Molding 'Team Players' for Free Enterprise" (pp. 188-201). Packard provides some very insightful comments on this subject which mirrors the subject of Groupthink quite nicely. "People who coalesce into groups, as any [military] general knows, are easier to guide, control, cope with, and herd. The team concept was an aid, if not an outright necessity ... " Former Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson (1956) is credited with saying: "Anyone who doesn't play on the team and sticks his head up may find himself in a dangerous spot." Magazine articles of the era "viewed the trend uneasily" and yet correctly referred to it as Orwellian Groupthink. Some authors noted that "'subtle but persuasive changes'" were taking place. Fortune magazine writer William H. Whyte, Jr. noted: "A very curious thing has been taking place in this country almost without our knowing it. In a country where individualism - independence and self-reliance - was the watchword ... the view is now coming to be accepted that the individual himself has no meaning except as a member of a group.'"[R]ationalized conformity - the product of social engineers.'" In a Changing Times (1954) magazine article titled: "The World of Tomorrow," by 1964, big business, government, and unions would tend to level people down to a common denominator where it would be harder for a man "'to be independent individualistic, his own boss.'" (all emphasis added)


Now then, switching to a more germane subject, consider several of the After Action Review (AAR) sources regarding its military genesis as well as several ideas and versions of the AAR from some non-military users. According to researchers and authors Salter and Klein (2007): "Facilitating a discussion rather than a lecture is a skill that must be developed and reinforced in training and in practice." Moreover, the AAR must be both a science and an art to assist one in cutting through the "fog of war."

Morrison, J. E., & Meliza, L. L. (1999). Foundations of the after action review process (ARI Special Report 42). Alexandria, VA: U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences. ADA 368651

Darling, M. J., and Parry, C.S. (2000). From post-mortem to living practice: An in-depth study of the evolution of the after-action review. Boston, MA: Signet Consulting Group. (book excerpt - out of print) (Signet Research and Consulting - Further Reading on Action Review Cycles)

Salter, M.A., and Klein, G.E. (2007) After Action Reviews: Current Observations and Recommendations. U.S. Army Research Institute

for the Behavioral and Social Sciences. Research Report 1867. The Wexford Group International, Inc.

LaReau, A. and Long. B. (2018) The Art of the After-Action Review. Fire Engineering.

Initially, the randomly insipid, yet powerful National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) states the purpose of an After Action Review for those engaged in wildland firefighting: "An After Action Review (AAR) is a professional discussion of an event, focused on performance standards, that enables firefighters to discover for themselves what happened, why it happened, and how to sustain strengths and improve on weaknesses. It is a tool leaders and units can use to get [the] maximum benefit from every incident or project."

"The AAR was developed by the military in order to create an avenue for feedback, promote evaluation and improve unit cohesion. The AAR is now used worldwide by military organizations, governments, and private industry. It is considered a valuable tool in high-risk professions where the smallest mistakes can lead to disastrous results." (emphasis added)

"It is essential for wildland firefighters to learn from our mistakes and to capitalize on our successes. The price we pay for failure can be exceptionally high and the amount of effort put into our successes is often left unrecognized. The objective of the After Action Review is to immediately identify these success[es] and failures. Once they have been recognized, further exploration allows the team to perfect it's (sic) skills and be better prepared for future endeavors." (emphasis added)

Consider now some NWCG Tips and Tactics (below) for conducting AARs

"When the Group is in Denial: One or more people think (let's use 'communications') went fine and are not discussing the issues. In order:

Act somewhat surprised. 'Really? Interesting. Are there any other thoughts on how communications went today?' Spur discussion with one of your own observations."

"Press a bit firmer: Finally, do one of two things. If the issue is minor, let it pass. If the issue is important, then you may have to make the point-blank observation yourself ..."

"Pursuing an Issue to its Root Cause: The Japanese say always ask 'why' five times. It's a good technique to make sure that you're really getting to the root cause of an issue."

"Using 'Negative Polling' to Ask Questions: This is an effective way to get quick agreement/consensus. It is faster than making sure everyone agrees." Make sure everyone agrees? Is this really a good tactic? Or is this the recognized hazardous attitude of Groupthink?

"Avoiding Win/Lose Decisions: Look for a win-win situation with the group."

The AAR techniques above and below are prepared by: Mark Smith of Mission-Centered Solutions (MCS) consisting of a Training Cadre, Consulting Group, Development Group, and a Logistics Team providing consultation for operational cultural change, leadership development, team building, lessons learned, etc. for clients operating "at the point of the spear" while often making "life and death decisions in real-time and often under great stress." And Dr. Michael DeGrosky - The Guidance Group (December 2003) (below)


Special attention should now be paid to Dr. Michael DeGrosky, who truly appears to be one of the non-YH Fire and GMHS-Kool-Aid Drinkers; very up-front and vocal about his anger regarding the YH Fire and GMHS debacle in his (April 2015) IAWF article titled "What Makes Mike Mad." It will be well worth your time to read his article to compare and contrast what his reactions are and what he has to say about the YH Fire and what the YH Fire Type 3 Organization presents in their feckless AAR below.

"When wildland firefighters die in the line of duty I often feel a sense of real frustration. OK, I admit it, I also get angry. Not everybody appreciates that and people have challenged both my views on firefighter safety and my occasional angry reaction publicly, privately, and anonymously. I am OK with that; we don’t get very far as agencies, as a community, or as an industry without putting stuff out in the open, talking about it, and working it out. In fact, I think we need to do that a lot more."

"First of all, anger is a natural reaction; the second of the five well-known stages of loss and grief, and we are all subject to it. ... I am ticked off about firefighter safety, I intend to stay ticked-off, and I think we all need to get a little ticked-off about firefighter safety. Not angry at the firefighters who die or get hurt; not angry at their supervisors who screwed-up (sic) and let their people down; but angry at agencies, an industry, and a community that is adapting far too slowly to all that we have learned about human factors and the human dimensions of fire. ... The U.S. wildland fire community seems completely unwilling to even discuss whether, when tragedy strikes, the wildland fire agencies can effectively investigate themselves or their interagency peers. Nor do we seem able to entertain the thought that perhaps it is time to explore a radically different approach to serious accident investigation. ... one must ask whether the results are generating learning and change on the fireground — practical, behavioral, meaningful change in the behavior of firefighters and the improvement in their safety. ... Finally, and this is something that really and truly ticks me off, when tragedy strikes, people and their agencies are lawyering up and clamming up. ... we must acknowledge that people and agencies withhold information because they are afraidafraid of the consequences of sharing what they know. ... The problems I describe above are big problems, ... These are problems that require resources. These are problems that require data and analysis creating a foundation for informed policy decisions. These are problems that require the ability to produce direction, alignment, and commitment. These are problems that require bold, decisive, and coordinated action at multiple levels of multiple agencies. These are problems that require leadership." (all emphasis added)


AAR Formats

The Standard Four Questions This is the AAR format originally developed by the U.S. Army. It is now used worldwide by other military organizations, government agencies, and private industry. The wildland fire support reference for this can be found in the Incident Response Pocket Guide.

Figure 2. NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG) AAR elements Snippet - p. xiii Source: NWCG, IRPG

"1. What was planned?

Review the intent of the mission

Key task assignments.

Desired 'End State' (what does 'Right' look like)."

"2. What actually happened?

Establish the facts

Pool multiple perspectives to build a shared picture of what happened."

"3. Why did it happen?

Analysis of cause and effect

Focus on WHAT, not WHO.

Provide progressive refinement for drawing out explanations of what occurred."

"4. What are we going to do next time?

"Correct Weaknesses - Focus on items you can fix, rather than external forces outside of your control."

"Sustain/Maintain Strengths - Identify areas where groups are performing well and should sustain. This will help repeat success and create a balanced approach to the AAR."


A proud and haughty man—“Scoffer” is his name; He acts with arrogant pride. Proverbs 21:24 (NKJV)


Consider now some excerpts from this 2005 IAWF Safety Summit.

Improving Our AAR Practice - Michael T. DeGrosky, Eighth International Wildland Fire Safety Summit, April 26-28, 2005 Missoula, MT. as well as some from the L-380 Leadership course

"As a vehicle for capturing and learning from experience, the AAR provides an effective tool of continuous learning for the organization. It is within this organizational learning context that this paper suggests ways to improve AAR practice within wildland fire agencies, and advocates three strategic actions necessary to systematically and comprehensively use the AAR process in wildland fire agencies." (emphasis added)

Total Recall - Dr. Michael DeGrosky, Wildfire Magazine article. "After-action reviews go a long way toward improving performance and reducing common error. But an effort to integrate the process into fire operations is needed. Michael DeGrosky addresses this issue and includes tips for conducting effective AARs." Read his "Total Recall" article reference here.

NWCG course description: "L-380 Fireline Leadership - is targeted at leaders whose decisions have immediate consequences in dynamic, high-risk environments. The intent is to provide small unit supervisors with the tools to build and maintain effective and cohesive crews/teams. Beyond a set of tools and techniques, this training experience should be designed to make an emotional and lasting impact. Essential guiding principles for achieving this impact include: enhancing the students’ understanding of the human dimension when leading others in dynamic work environments; utilizing experiential training techniques that will engage students in ways that challenge them to perform under realistic and high-stress situations; and motivating students to examine their role, strengths, and weaknesses as a leader." (AWIMA registration website 2022)

L-380 Fireline Leadership AAR format ( )

Emotion and Memory - "If human factors performance is important for effective learning, discussing the emotional aspect of an experience right away is critical. Terms such as frustrated, confused, unsure, apprehensive, and pissed off can indicate the emotional manifestation of a human factors breakdown. After time passes, most people forget that they were confused or frustrated about a specific situation. The emotional aspect of the event fades, and the event itself can be reduced to its technical aspect only." (MCS p. 3) ( )

( ) YHFR Part 1 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?

With quotes from MCS Mark Smith - Honor The Fallen - "The Big Lie"


"Because power corrupts, society's demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases."

John Adams (1797-1801)


Discussed in a great deal of the various AAR literature are the virtues of confidentiality, privacy, integrity, and privacy - and how they square with the AAR method are reviewed next. In the case of the deadly June 30, 2013, YH Fire and the GMHS debacle, the overly condescending Type 3 Organization attitude and responses in their July 2, 2013, AAR - a mere two days after the fatalities are notably troubling. And so, the authors will take a pass on the documented "code of conduct" prong and post the full PRR-released two-page AAR for the public at large and their binding right to know.

According to the two social psychologist authors, Carol Tarvis and Elliot Aronson (2007) of Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me. Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts: 'Self-justification and the need to justify our actions and decisions - especially the wrong ones - is what's known as "cognitive dissonance.' [It] is a state of tension that occurs when a person holds two cognitions (ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions) that are psychologically inconsistent with each other ... [and] produces mental discomfort ... Dissonance is disquieting because to hold two ideas that contradict each other is to flirt with absurdity. ... a person would distort his or her perceptions of the group in a positive direction, trying to find good things about it and ignoring the downside. ... Confidence is a fine and useful quality; ... But an unending need to be right inevitably produces self-righteousness. When confidence and conviction are leavened by humility, by an acceptance of fallibility, people can easily cross the line from healthy self-assurance to arrogance." (emphasis added) pp. 10, 17-18, 311. Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me.


"If it be asked, what is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic? The answer would be, an inviolable respect for the constitution and laws." Alexander Hamilton


"Confidentiality - Advocate and demonstrate privacy and confidentiality. What happened in the AAR and who said what should stay within the confines of the AAR. Although specific information may come out as a result of the AAR, the details about what was said by individual crew members should be kept confidential. This code of conduct should be strongly enforced, as it is the foundation that enables all crew members to speak freely and confidently without fear of retribution or attribution."

"You can reinforce this conduct by taking the following kinds of action:

• Selecting a private place to conduct the AAR"

• Purposely removing or destroying drawings and other information that

is used or constructed during the AAR."

• Allowing other parties to view the AAR only if all crew members have

given permission and are comfortable with it."

• Reprimanding crew members who disclose inappropriate information

concerning the AAR to others or otherwise undermine the

confidentiality of the AAR."

"Issues that need to be brought to the attention of higher-ups should be

done so independently by the supervisor. Supervisors should try to

concentrate and disclose the what not the who of issues that need to be

elevated from an AAR." (MCS p. 4)

"Failures - Inquiries and analysis should concentrate on what is right, not who is right. When a failure is identified, determine what should have happened, and secondly what didn’t happen (or happened wrong)."

"Individual Failures - Identifying an individual crew member’s failure is permissible, as long as it goes to the source of the problem. A discussion needs to focus on what should have happened, not at the personal integrity of the individual or individuals involved."

"Personnel reprimands should be left out of the AAR because such actions

are disciplinary and do not further the learning of the AAR. That is not to

say, however, that a disciplinary action may need to be taken as a result of

information that comes out of an AAR" (MCS p. 8)


Consider the two images (Figure 3. and Figure 3a. below). The renowned GMHS MacKenzie (RiP) photo of them positioned "in the black" at around 1600 on June 30, 2013, wearing their fire gear, ready to engage, while observing aggressive fire behavior below them. For all practical purposes, experienced and knowledgeable WFs and FFs would consider them "safe." Compare and contrast this image with those several images progressively detailed in Figure 3a. (below) over four-minute to a five-minute time period (1551 to 1555) with the winds and the ensuing fire behavior noticeably increasing. This is far afield of any WLF LLC-hyped "hindsight bias."

Figure 3. GMHS Christopher MacKenzie (RiP) June 30, 2013, YH Fire photo. Source: GMHS Mackenzie (RiP),

Figure 3a. June 30, 2013, 1551-1555 est.YH Fire and GMHS MacKenzie photo images of Crew, Fuels, Terrain, and Fire Behavior Source: MacKenzie Photos DropBox, Collura PRR

And yet, in this well-known and well-publicized Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR) poster (Figure 4. below) titled "Only Minutes - Blowup to Burnover" the GMHS spent at least 52 minutes discerning the potentially dangerous situation they were witnessing below (Fire Order No. 3) and the obvious non "hindsight bias" expected outcome, given their local experience and knowledge of the fuels, weather, topography, and fire behavior. The continuous question on this is why?!

Australian author and Human Safety Systems Consultant David Clancy accurately details the hazardous nature of wildland firefighting and questions whether acceptable risk can be defined. He writes: "Firefighting is an unquestionably dangerous activity that requires the application of skilled judgment on many levels to achieve the safest possible outcomes. Because firefighting has inherent risks, the ability to determine which risks are or are not acceptable is fundamental. As [John] Adams (1995) has written, “The future is uncertain and inexplicably subjective; it does not exist except in the minds of people attempting to anticipate it” (p.30). Yet firefighters need to be able to predict the future to some degree in order to plan for current and potential risks on the fireground. Risk in firefighting is as inevitable as the occurrence of wildfires." (emphasis added) John Adams and his Research Gate article (1995) titled "Risk" as well as other germane research publications are available in the above link.

Source: Clancy, D. (2011) GTR-NRS-P-84 Can Acceptable Risk Be Defined in Wildland Firefighting? Proceedings of the Second Conference on the Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire (comprehensive link of 203 pages)

Figure 4. 6-Minutes for Safety Escape Routes 1 Blowup to Burnover Source: NWCG, WFSTAR


Consider Figure 5. (below) a Snippet of the original two-page July 2, 2013, (1230 hours) YH Fire Type 3 Organization After Action Review (AAR) "Yarnell Hill Incident AAR" just two days after the fatal debacle. Although AAHIMT is undefined; it could possibly be a typo with an extra "A," and stands for an "All-Hazard Type 3 Incident used for extended incidents. ... Type 3 AHIMTs are deployed as a team of 10-20 trained personnel, representing multiple disciplines who manage major and/or complex incidents requiring a significant number of local, state or tribal resources." Source: Public Records Request (PRR) by Joy A. Collura.

Advancing the Capabilities of Type-3 Incident Management Teams through

Implementation of a Tiered System To Quantify Readiness. Source: Soulé, J. (no date listed) Advancing the Capabilities of Type-3 Incident Management Teams through Implementation of a Tiered System To Quantify Readiness USFA Type-3 All-Hazard IMT (AHIMT) Technical Assistance Program Fire Program Specialist, All-Hazards Incident Management Team Program Manager, Emergency Response Support Branch. U.S. Fire Administration. 16825 S. Seton Ave. Emmitsburg, MD 21727 USA (Predecisional Draft V-3.0 – For Review Only)


Figure 5. Two separate pages of July 2, 2013, YH Fire IMT functions AAR Source: Collura PRR


Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV)


"In attendance were Roy Hall IC, Glenn Joki Deputy ICI Mike Reichling P102, Howard Carlson Logistics, Brian Lauber Plans, Byron Kimball Fuels Management, Dana Schmidt Liaison, Glen Buettner GIS, Paul Musser Operations Chief, Brad Zettler Air Support Supervisor, and Bob Ortlund Air Ops Branch Director on conference phone. The following are the items discussed from 0900 to 1000 hrs July 2, 2013." (all emphasis is added below) These are all written in the third person.


Please be fortunate to consider immediately below the actual never-before-made-public-until-now AAR recordings from the InvestigativeMEDIA dropbox for YH Fire investigative documents and records; posted as DropBox links. Source: Az State Forestry, ADOSH, InvestigativeMEDIA, Yarnell Hill Fire

You will begin to hear discussions about the ongoing ADOSH investigation and the actual AAR posted here in Figure 5. (above) around the 28:30 minutes - mark in the Glen Joki 8-15-13 WMA - 33:21 minutes recording that this AAR "... process is internal ... the position we're going to take as an Agency is most likely ... may very well refuse to turn it over to the press ... that will fight to turn it over ... we did the AAR because we knew we had to internally, to improve ourselves ... the confidential part of our file is confidential from the Public Request stuff but ... the lawyers will obviously have access to everything and so, even if it's confidential in our folders, it's not a hundred percent ... but it will keep it out of newspapers' hands. ..." (these quotes are transcribed as accurately as possible to the best of our abilities and will be corrected accordingly if need be in a future update)


"There is not in all America a more dangerous trait than the deification of mere smartness unaccompanied by any sense of moral responsibility."

President Theodore Roosevelt - Abilene, KS, May 2, 1903


"Overall IC Statements: The IC thanked the incoming IMT Type 1 for their support and understanding of the situation. Also, for a very smooth transition taking over the incident. That the team must continue to be a deployment asset to the State of Arizona for near future fires. He stressed that we will never look at fire the same way again based on a comment made by a non-team member. Plus, that we all must get back on the bicycle again meaning not to quit but to build on this experience to make us a better team members (sic) and an overall team. This event will live with us forever and if we need help we have our team and external resources are in place to help all of us through this ordeal. He also indicted (sic) that has complete confidence in every team member. With everything considered the team did an excellent job." (emphasis added)

Consider now some Snippets of IC Roy Hall's July 8, 2013, SAIT interview by SAIT members Jay Kurth, John Phipps, Mike Dudley, and Jimmy Rocha six days after his July 2, 2013, AAR in Figures 6, 6a., and 6b. (below). Talking about the 1985 Butte Fire, he makes an excellent point about a Safety Zone being relegated to a Deployment Zone and no longer being a true Safety Zone once fire shelters are deployed. However, he is barely able (or unable) to contain himself as he reveals his arrogance at - or close to - its zenith with the following statement.

"You understand who I am. ... That is who I am"


Figure 6., 6a., and 6b. IC Roy Hall SAIT interview. Source: Collura PPR

Figure 7. August 29, 1985, approx. 1500 photo of Acting Flagstaff HS Supt. Roy Hall (left) and Payson HS Supt. Fred Schoeffler "resting" in the clearcut Safety Zone. Source: Schoeffler

Because of Hall's comment, a short detour is necessary at this point to address this 1985 Butte Fire feculence. Indeed, it is both ironic and predictable that IC Roy Hall would fail to mention Fred Schoeffler and the Payson Hot Shots that worked right there with him on the very same fire (Figure 7. above). Was it Fog of War? Oldtimers? Or was it because Schoeffler was actively truth-telling about the June 30, 2013, YH Fire and GMHS debacle? And yet Hall arrogantly and pridefully mentions only himself and the Carson Hot Shots in the renowned August 1985 Butte Fire on the Salmon NF in Idaho where 73 WFs and FFs deployed fire shelters and 45 others - including the Payson HS, Flagstaff HS, a Toiyabe NF Engine Strike Team, a Dozer and a Water Tender, and the respective operators - sought refuge in a clear cut, which was always our Safety Zone, without deploying fire shelters. This is the fire that started would become known as the genesis of the "fire shelter movement" because fire shelters were supposedly only effective in grass and light brush. And this fire also fits well into the cover-up, lie, and whitewash category of tragic and near-tragic wildfires. By the Grace of God, nobody died on this fire. The Toiyabe NF Engine Stike Team Leader was Steve Karkanen who later became the Lolo Hot Shot Superintendent in Montana.

Figure 8. August 1985 Butte Fire Shelter Deployment, Salmon NF, Idaho. 118 WFs were burned over with 45 WFs seeking refuge in a clear-cut Safety Zone, and 73 deploying fire shelters. Source: YouTube, WLF LLC

Figure 8a. Look Up, Look Down, Look Around is a fire environment factors and fire behavior training video, released in 1993, which includes a more detailed video of the 1985 Butte Fire. Go to Scenario Two at 11:01 to 14:11 for the Butte Fire Source: YouTube, WLF LLC

Learning from Events: Butte Fire Staff Ride. Northern Rockies Fire Science Network. They disingenuously claim the following: "On June 28-30, 2016, the Salmon-Challis National Forest sponsored a 2-day Staff Ride to review and learn from the initial event. By 2016, many of those involved in the 1985 event held leadership positions in wildland fire management and were able to return, either as leaders of the Staff Ride or as participants to contribute their perspective and how the event has influenced their development and thinking. The staff ride stimulated individual and collective learning among the many survivors who returned, Forest leadership, and the Forest’s fire organization." (emphasis added) The plan was to develop an actual Staff Ride for future participants, including the need to possibly make it virtual because of the travel restrictions. This author's Description of Services invoice as a "Butte Fire Stand Presenter for the Butte Fire Staff Ride Development Group to include travel and per diem from June 28 to June 30, 2016, for the amount of $1,970.31."

Thomas, D. 2016. Butte Fire Staff Ride: Preliminary Study. Salmon-Challis National Forest, US Forest Service, 53 pp. Butte Fire Staff Ride Preliminary Study. This is somewhat disingenuous in that it was for what they called the Butte Fire Staff Ride Development where they paid for us to travel to Salmon for a week-long session of field trip site visit and discussion and videotaped all of it. Karkanen and this author were slightly politically incorrect and quite vocal about what had occurred and why. A lesson learned from Karkanen was; "You need to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism with IMT's and Overhead ..." And we told them to ensure the video remained unedited. However, there is evidence that they are going to have the WLF LLC edit the video based on an August 17, 2021, email from the Salmon NF Fire Staff Officer.

"Fred, in response to your question about the Butte Fire Staff Ride. We are currently working with the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center to have the staff ride materials and video posted. With some changes in leadership some items like posting of the Butte Staff Ride fell through the cracks. I have been working with the WFLLC to clean up the video due to some audio problems that were encountered. As soon as we can work through the audio issues so there is a good clear copy of the video it will be posted to the WFLLC website. We have not explored posting to the NWCG website, but that is something we can do once we get the audio problems fixed. I don’t currently have a timeline on the final product but it is something we are working on." (emphasis added) What BS! There was no problem with the audio and to work with the WLF LLC means there will be a cover-up and whitewash after lots of editing.

An email excerpt from one of the organizers is interesting about how to ensure a: "highly successful [Staff] ride and learning experience. My advice may sound too simple but after having helped put on a number of staff rides I believe it: “Be yourself. Have a good time. Don’t worry about getting ‘it right.' You (sic) job is [to] tell your story of what you experienced and there is only one person who can tell that story—you. There is no way to get it wrong." Really? No worry about getting ‘it right' and No way to get it wrong? Such a win-win situation!

Enough Butte Fire discussion for now. Another post for another day, however, it will soon be posted on the Project 10 & 18 International website, discussing wildfires other than the biggest cover-up, lie, and whitewash in wildland fire history.


“Through pride, we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience, a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune." - C.G. Jung (Carl Gustav Jung, was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. Jung's work has been influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, psychology, and religious studies.


Back to the July 2, 2013, YH Fire Type 3 Organization AAR discussion.

"In addition[,] the IC indicated he would not deploy any team Type 3 or 2 without an Fire (sic) Behavior Analyst. Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) - A team is available for team[s] and individuals through the NIMO located in Prescott." They had an FBAN. They needed an Incident Meteorologist (IMET) to forecast and interpret the weather.

"Deputy IC: Glenn said we have an excellent team and team members that are committed to the organization. This team should continue because we have the character and resilience to continue as a team."

"Safety: No team member safety position was filled until late on Sunday[,] June 30, 2013[,] due to a system failure in the ordering process. Although the position was backfilled by Marty Cole and Toni (sic) Sciacca later in the day. The delay was very concerning to the staff because the lack of a safety officer was a significant void in the command staff, At least they admit that there was a problem in this statement without any details: "'the lack of a safety officer was a significant void in the command staff, '"

"Information Office: Mike Reichling indicated that the media was very supportive of the team and actions talce. (sic) Based on phone calls and personal contact the public understood the challenges we faced in fighting the fire and the loss of the 19 firefighter[s]. A challenge was presented when the Granite Mountain Crew of 20 firefighters became unaccounted [for]. Then when the crew was found deceased information was not given out until after the City of Prescott Fire Department issued a media release. The team must be given delegation authority to issue statements in a timely manner to meet the needs of the team and our public."

"Liaison: Dana Schmidt reinforced Roy's comments by stating that with his law enforcement background Roy made [a] good decision under very difficult circumstances. Also, he stated that he feels we as a team should continue to deploy on fires. That this experience should not be the deciding factor to end the team," Never heard of any of Roy Hall's alleged "law enforcement background" until now.

"Plans: Brian Lauber supports the team staying together. This team has extensive experience and knowledge for management to draw upon. Management should refer to this experience and expertise in making decision[s] affecting management of the incident and complexity level. Also, he recommends that a team should be deployed as a team and not piece milted together. The need to identify critical fire potential areas statewide. These areas have the potential for catastrophic wildfire activity. The use of portable repeaters would satisfy the lack of coverage by [the] state radio system. He indicated that there is a culture to do a lot with very little. While when it comes to the deployment of the team the team needs to be deployed as a whole."

"Fire Behavior: Byron Kimball, indicated based on his experience that the team made sound decisions and did an excellent job. He totally supports the team and expects it to continue to be an asset to the Arizona State Forestry Fire Management program."

"Operations: Paul Musser, as an original member of the team, feels the team should stay together. Also, he reinforced the fact that the team should be deployed as a team to function properly. Radio communication was a safety concern due to [the] tone guard on the transmit side of the frequencies. This was caused by the cloning of the radios." However, CYFD Todd Abel was the Line Operations (OPS) responsible for managing all operations directly applicable to the primary mission while Musser was the Planning OPS to better facilitate incident planning in communication and coordination with the Line OPS. One should seriously question why Abel was absent.

"Air Operations: Bob Ortlund, supports the team staying as a state resources. (sic) In his view the team did an excellent job and that the decision [making] met the objectives. Also, when he was the FMO on the Payson District of the Tonto NF the Dude Fire occurred he faced similar circumstances. He learned a life lesson and he feels the team will preserver and overcome. Air Tankers were not over the fire until after 1200 hours due to diversion to another fire. It was difficult to get good current intelligence from the ADC Aircraft Desk on aircraft committed to the incident and operating on the incident."

"Air Support: Brad Zettler, indicated he was very supportive of the IC and he wants the team to continue. He feels strongly about getting the team back out on assignment soon. All aircraft did not arrive on th[e] scene until after noon on June 30"

"Logistics: Howard Carlson, also an original member of the team, wants the team to stay together based on the history of team accomplishments. He indicated there was a delay in the ordering process leading to him not being called until 1830 Saturday Jun 29, 2013. Also, a delay in the pre-ordering process for logistics of critical items need to support the team.


To be sure, at this juncture, it is well worth considering and mentioning that OPS Todd Abel was missing from this AAR group - especially when one considers that the GMHS may have been "ordered down" to the BSR.


"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” John Adams (1770) Founders Online

Ignorance and power and pride are a deadly mixture, you know.

Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten


Conceding the fact that the YH Fire Type 3 Organization was less-than-fully staffed, these are some recommendations that clearly apply and relate to fireline personnel as well as Command and Operational personnel, toward the recurring overarching goal of Entrapment Avoidance. Source: CAWRT (2016) Powerpoint (converted to PDF) on Human Factors Influencing the June 30, 2013, YH Fire GMHS Fatalities.

2016 CAWRT Human Factors PPT

Recommendations for Doing it Right

Entrapment Avoidance

Talk With Each Other / Discuss the YH Fire and GMHS Fatalities, Human Factors, and Psychology to Learn While Encouraging and Fostering Healing (Document Publications)

If You Are The Boss, Then Be The Boss! Boss spelled backward is Double "SS" - "OB"! (USFA)

Know, Understand, Recognize, and Follow ALL the WF Rules by Heart (Hypocrite Reader)

Give Sound Leader’s Intent and Then Ask Resources For Input, Ideas, Suggestions to Avoid the Despicable Groupthink ((Army Major Phillip M. Johnson)

Heed Watch Out #4 dealing with weather and local factors influencing fire behavior (IRPG)

Know, Understand, and Practice Sound Risk Management (IRPG)

Practice the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) Tenth Man Rule, i.e. Devil's Advocate (Quora)

ALWAYS HEED and DISCUSS INSTINCTS, INNER WARNING SIGNS, and ‘GUT FEELINGS.’ If you have them, so do others (Fast Company)

Know How to Properly Refuse Risk (Turn Down Protocol) IRPG page 19

If You See Something Say Something to Others AND Especially Your Supervisor(s) (IRPG)

Use Direct Speech! - Avoid Mitigating or Hinting Speech (Shortform)

Speak Up If/When Uncomfortable With and/or Unsure of Tactics or The Plan (IRPG)

Avoid ‘Going Along Just To Get Along’ with everyone else, i.e. Trips to Abilene via the Abilene Paradox (Aspen Institute)


And now to answer the question posited in the full-length title: How Could the Yarnell Hill Fire Type 3 Organization After Action Review (AAR) On July 2, 2013, Cross the Line By Claiming Their Excellence? 19 GMHS Died!

Continuing - compare and contrast Figure 6. (below) and Figure 7. (below) with the fact that the ever so-less-than-modest IC Roy Hall's YH Fire Type 3 Organization was understaffed; these four analytics (1) descriptive (what happened in the past), (2) diagnostic (helps to understand why something happened in the past), (3) predictive (what is most likely to happen in the future), and (4) prescriptive (recommends actions you can take to affect those outcomes) detail that they especially apply and relate to both the Type 3 Organization's Command and Operational personnel as well as their duly assigned fireline personnel. And it is a permissible conclusion to apply them both toward the SAIT's dubious inference collectively: “The judgments and decisions of the incident management organizations managing this fire were reasonable. (SAIT pp. 3-4)

Figure 9. Decisions and Outcomes matrix Source: FJS CAWRT YH Fire and GMHS PPT (2016)


The answer to the post title question is really quite simple, to both those within the wildland fire field, as well as those non-WFs and FFs alike, because the Federally-funded SAIT - in its allegedly "Factual" SAIR conclusion - clearly states: “The judgments and decisions of the incident management organizations managing this fire were reasonable. Firefighters performed within their scope of duty, as defined by their respective organizations. The Team found no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol." (YH Fire SAIT-SAIR pp. 3-4) So then, everyone involved did everything correctly, right? Therefore - with all due respect - it is safe to say that it is a tenuously reasonable conclusion that the Type 3 Organization felt the same way, as reflected in their AAR, even though the SAIR would be released over two months later. It's even plausible - based on historical wildfire fatality cover-ups, lies, and whitewashes - that this SAIT predetermined "conclusion" was already shared with the Type 3 Organization shortly after the fatalities occurred.

Dr. Ted Putnam (2011), addressed several wildfire fatality investigations and such had this to say in his trenchant, insightful IAWF paper titled: "Accidents, accident guides, stories and the truth" and duly noted: "Sometimes investigators deliberately distort or do not report all the causal elements. Such biases lead firefighters to distrust the resulting reports, which can hamper our efforts to stay safe." (p. 1); "When information is deliberately falsified or withheld, Lies occur. Lies are deceptive accounts (intentionally meant to manipulate information) and make it difficult to fully understand the causes and conditions and once suspected they undermine the credibility of the investigators, accident report, accident guide[,] and organization." (p. 5); and "If our accident investigations don't promote finding and telling the Truth then Lessons Learned, firefighter safety[,] and High Reliability Organizations are just convenient buzz words; lullabies numbing us out rather than keeping us awake to underlying conditions and causal elements which best account for our collective firefighter realities." (p. 18) (all emphasis added)

Here are several of the obvious Fire Orders and Watch Out Situations that were either violated or ignored and unmitigated on the June 30, 2013, YH Fire by the GMHS, resulting in the fatal debacle:

Fire Order #2 - Know what your fire is doing at all times. Back-in-the- day it also included "Observe personally. Use scouts." Fire Order #3 - Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire. Watch Out # 11 - Unburned fuel between you and the fire. Watch Out # 12 - Cannot see main fire, not in contact with anyone who can. Watch Out # 13 - On a hillside where rolling material can ignite fuel below. Watch Out # 14 - Weather becoming hotter and drier. Watch Out # 15 - Wind increases and/or changes direction. Watch Out # 16 - Getting frequent spot fires across line. Watch Out # 17 - Terrain and fuels make escape to safety zones difficult.

Figure 10. WF Rules and Guidelines Source: FJS CAWRT YH Fire and GMHS Human Factors PowerPointt converted to a PDF

And clearly, Watch Out #4 - Unfamiliar with weather and local factors influencing fire behavior comes to mind. To be sure, this was their turf, their piece of dirt! Watch Out #4 had to be shouting out to them especially after working the nearby Doce Fire with quasi-prophetic aggressive fire behavior a week before! Had they individually and collectively "become a foreigner in a foreign land?" (Exodus 2:22 - KJV) It makes no sense!

Our ongoing informative and instructive YHFR website is rife with documentation indicating evidence of intentional lies and deception dealing with the June 30, 2013, YH Fire and preventable GMHS debacle: ( ) Moreover, despite this, many WF professionals at an October 2013 YH Fire and GMHS SWA Hot Shot Crew After Action Review Site Visit, during the Integration Phase, deemed that the catastrophe “was the final, fatal link, in a long chain of bad decisions with good outcomes; we saw this coming for years.” About a dozen WFs spoke up after that and stated they had attempted peer pressure over the years to get the GMHS to change their cavalier "we're GMHS and we thought we could pull it off" attitude and behavior and were obviously unsuccessful. Although, several GMHS did leave the Crew for that very reason, with one in particular documented in Kyle Dickman's book. Specifically, at least former GMHS Brandon Bunch seems to "have no secrets" and was willing to reveal some insight into this attitude. In author Kyle Dickman’s book ‘On the Burning Edge" he noted that Brandon Bunch left GM after the Thompson Fire in May 2013, shortly before the YH Fire (page 54). He stated that one of the reasons that he applied for a transfer to another Crew prior to the 2013 season was because: “The more seasons Bunch worked for Granite Mountain, the more he felt that under Marsh’s command, the Hotshots were always having to prove themselves.” (emphasis added) Alternatively, the word in the Hot Shot community was that it was because of a more personal nature. Source: Yarnell Hill Fire Revelations website (August 19, 2018) Part One - Who Do We Continue to Distinguish And Read About as the Likely Participants in the Undeniable Sesame to Shrine Corridor Fuel / Fire Break Possible Firing Operation?

PFD Willis disingenuously would later tell ABC News: "I believe there were circumstances that occurred and decisions that were made that we do not have facts on that contributed to their deaths ... We will never know what they were thinking or their decision process." Deaths of Granite Mountain Hotshots Expose Fight Over Airtankers. Ariz. probe finds one [air] tanker over [the] fire as rescuers searched for lost crew." ABC News online. James Gordon Meek. September 30, 2013, 1:24 PM (emphasis added)

On the contrary, we know exactly "what they were thinking or their decision process." What they were thinking of was abandoning their Safety Zone after "discussing our options" based on Figures 3., 3a., and 4. (above) of staying put or leaving the safe black for at least "52 minutes" while the fire, as always, clearly provided its intentions. However, Marsh, on the other hand, disingenuously and "intentionally vague" provided his intentions per Mike Dudley, in his June 20, 2014, Yarnell Hill - Unified Fire Authority YouTube video overview of the GMHS actions (i.e. classic Eric Marsh - talking on Crew Net only, no intentions of revealing where they were headed, what they were doing, their location, etc.). Source: Peterson, F. (2014) YH Fire SAIT Co-Team Leader M. Dudley. Unified Fire Authority YouTube video

Further addressing PFD Willis's "we will never know" comment from the paragraph above - "their decision process" was classic Eric Marsh driven entirely by Eric Marsh with "we're GMHS and we have to prove ourselves" and repeatedly resulting in "bad decisions with good outcomes."


"There are good men and bad men of all nationalities, creeds[,] and colors; and if this world of ours is ever to become what we hope [someday] it may become, it must be by the general recognition that the man's heart and soul, the man's worth and actions, determine his standing." President Theodore Roosevelt Letter, Oyster Bay, NY, September 1, 1903

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight. Proverbs 12:22 (NKJV)

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [b]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:11-13 NKJV

Knowing Jesus (accessed 2022)

Updated 1-29-22 2:29pm by Joy A. Collura: added actual 'snippets' from InvestigativeMEDIA of the article done by John Dougherty.

I am unsure why this section was added into this post and not able to interact to find out - "pause" phase - yet I do know both Fred and I were shared to allow Dr. Ted Putnam his time and space to simply focus on the Mann Gulch fire only.

John Dougherty, myself and Dr Ted had a conversation, and this article was made by Dougherty but that does not mean Dr Ted Putnam approves of either one, this post or Dougherty's. I want that for the public records, that piece of information.

One never knowing the background would simply assume Dr Ted Putnam was interactive in all this and he is not involved - and anyone who knows him - knows that he is only on the Mann Gulch area not at all involved in any levels to the Yarnell Hill Fire 2013 because it required truths to be spoken from the get go- I prefer to omit that section but until Fred and I speak, this is the best "counter" I can do versus removing the information. Fred wrote this post, and it is my PRR that he wrote about.



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