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  • Writer's pictureDoug Fir 777

Speak Ill of the Dead and Lie Or Honor the Dead & Search For The Truth They're Public Figures? Pt 2

Restating the post title beyond the limited Wix title allowance: Speaking Ill of the Dead By Lying About Them? Or Honoring the Dead By Searching For The Truth If They're Considered as Public Figures? Part 2

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

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

All emphasis is added unless otherwise noted.


Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5 (NKJV)

Certainly, if we want to learn from the past and honor those who have been harmed by people now deceased, we must speak honestly of the dead, even if being honest means speaking ill. Sydney Eileen - The Balancing Path (2021)

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, Ephesians 6:14 (NKJV)

Figure 1. GMHS Fatality Site photo of Investigators inspecting the site on July 3, 2013. Image from Dougherty, D. (2018), original image from Arizona State Forestry Division. Source: Institution of Fire Engineers


Introduction: 2023 is the officially recognized Tenth Anniversary of the June 2013 YH Fire and GMHS wildland fire fatality debacle. The journey began on June 30, 2013, when this author was a Type 2 Safety Officer on the West Fork Complex near Creed, CO. A military Vet Contract Engine Boss revealed a first-ever tweet stating that '30 FFs were unaccounted for on a fire in Yarnell, AZ.' This author stated that was impossible until our briefing the following morning which verified that 19 GMHS were killed on the YH Fire. So then, this author came to the conclusion on July 1, 2013, that there was a definite need to pursue what had happened - and more importantly - why it happened. Initially, and for several weeks, there was a strong desire by most to seek out those answers, however, as time went on things changed. And for years now, there has been a definite aversion to openly address almost anything accurate and truthful about the June 2013 YH Fire and GMHS debacle - unless it agrees with the "official" SAIT-SAIR report and their foregone "conclusion" of no blame, no fault. To wit, the YHF Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) followed the established format of first establishing a conclusion and then supporting it with their "facts" when they reported finding “no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol” There is clearly a definite knowledge gap regarding this historical wildland fire fatality. So, it will continue to be this author's intention through various medias and venues to explain why it is imperative to continue, while addressing the post title: Speaking Ill of the Dead By Lying About Them? Or Honoring the Dead By Searching For The Truth If They're Considered as Public Figures?

Consider now this very comprehensive, very elaborate, Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy research paper (2015 & 2018 substantive revision) tilted: "The Definition of Lying and Deception." From the paper: "Questions central to the philosophical discussion of lying to others and other-deception (interpersonal deceiving) may be divided into two kinds. Questions of the first kind are definitional or conceptual. They include the questions of how lying is to be defined, how deceiving is to be defined, and whether lying is always a form of deceiving. Questions of the second kind are normative — more particularly, moral. They include the questions of whether lying and deceiving are either defeasibly or non-defeasibly morally wrong, whether lying is morally worse than deceiving, and whether, if lying and deception are defeasibly morally wrong, they are merely morally optional on certain occasions, or are sometimes morally obligatory. In this entry, we only consider questions of the first kind."


A review from Part One (1/7/23) is necessary here: "This post will initially discuss and examine the "whistle-blower" and "truth teller" dichotomy and distinction. The alleged "lying" versus "telling the truth" standards should be self evident and therefore covered in context. The dichotomy of "complete" versus "incomplete" lessons learned is next. A somewhat detailed brief discussion on the historical fatal July 6, 1994, South Canyon Fire in CO and attempting to discuss and examine the human factors and human failures of the 14 individuals that perished, and comparing it to the June 30, 2013, YH Fire and GMHS tragedy in AZ follows. The use, benefit, value, and availability of Staff Rides and Site visits and, of course, the palpable favoritism or exclusion for selection based on the interested applicant's stance on the YH Fire and GMHS tragedy. The in-depth genesis and history of the derogatory and even unethical phrases and alleged actions and behaviors of "speaking ill of the dead" and "defaming the dead." Contrast those with the more beneficial and positive healing aspects of "honoring the dead." Next are the Ninth Circuit rulings on a First Amendment Free Speech issue regarding whether "bloggers" have the same First Amendment rights as journalists (Crystal Cox vs. Obsidian Finance Group) and the legal principles of "the public at large” and "of public concern" cited on this website. Then discussion and examination of "Conspiracy Theory" and labeling others as "Conspiracy Theorists" as a means to discredit and distract. And credible research debunking the matter. Further discussion and examination of the SAIT-SAIR and their Orwellian attempts to give credence to their "Factual" assertions and "Sensemaking" placing the burden of reaching conclusions and such on the SAIT-SAIR "readers." Brief in-depth discussion on the various 18 United States Code (USC) criminal violations regarding fraud, document and record (mis)management, conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and racketeering violations regarding the scores of YH Fire and GMHS Federal and State "Public Records." A FaceBook email thread discussing the YH Fire SAIT and such with one of the SAIT Subject Matter Experts. Brief examination and discussion of the alleged "Underground" Honor the Fallen Group. Several other examples of literally scores of the phrases, testimonials, and such about the June 2013 YH Fire that appear during Google searches."

"Among other things, the intent of this YHFR post is to highlight the potential gaps in understanding the nuances of what is conventionally referred to as "whistle-blowing." This author prefers the more positive alternative phrase "truth telling" instead. And that includes debunking the Party-Line Naysayers' false accusations of us "speaking ill of the dead" while the fact of the matter is that we are, on the contrary, "honoring the dead" by revealing what we believe and have found to be true, are valid counter-arguments to their negative emotional pejorative and our solid support for the optimistic compliment above."

"This author prefers the more positive term "truth-teller" moniker over "whistleblower" due to the negative connotations and repercussions attributed to that label. The concept of whistleblowing is as old as society itself. The ancient Greeks had a term for it: parrhēsia, or fearless speech. Antecedents to modern whistleblowing laws can be found in feudal England. This author prefers the Truth-Teller moniker supporting our First Amendment rights of Freedom of Association and Freedom of Speech. In a word, this author also credits the aggressively acclaimed and highly successful Government Accountability Project for being in the vanguard protecting and providing for whistleblowers, defined as 'those individuals who challenge abuses of power that betray the public trust.'"


Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually. Your tongue devises destruction, Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. You love evil more than good, Lying rather than speaking righteousness. Selah You love all devouring words, You deceitful tongue. God shall likewise destroy you forever; He shall take you away, and pluck you out of your dwelling place, And uproot you from the land of the living. Selah The righteous also shall see and fear, And shall laugh at him, saying, “Here is the man who did not make God his strength, But trusted in the abundance of his riches, And strengthened himself in his wickedness. Psalm 52: 1-7 (NKJV)


According to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) PMS 210 (2014) (166 pages) Wildland Fire Incident Management Field Guide states, references, or supplements wildland fire incident management and operational standards established by the NWCG Chapter 1 – Firefighting Safety - Firefighter and public safety is the first priority of the wildland fire management program and must always take precedence over property and resource loss. Furthermore, Safety Responsibilities of Wildland Fire Supervisors General Responsibilities include: Personal actions describe safety more effectively than written plans or “rule books.” Firefighters’ actions tell what they consider important. Model good safety habits and demand the same from your subordinates."

Another perspective: "The Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) is a global professional membership body for those in the fire sector that seek to increase their knowledge, professional recognition and understanding of fire through a global discourse. With over 100 years of history, the IFE is instrumental in shaping a future world that is safer from fire.

"Through its ceaseless betterment and sharing of knowledge, it has led the way in enabling fire professions to become rigorously assessed through a well-established and dynamic system of internationally recognised (sic) membership grades and fire-related qualifications. The IFE delivers more than 6,000 exams annually.

"Managed for fire professionals by fire professionals, the IFE aims to promote, encourage and improve the science, practice and professionalism of fire engineering, acting as a beacon of established expertise and guiding the way to a fire safe future.

"The primary objectives and framework for managing the Institution are set out in our Memorandum, Articles of Association, By-Laws and Standing Orders."


Figure 2. (See also Figure 15. below) The Ten Standard Fire Orders and 18 Watch Out Situations Source: IRPG

Consider this InvetigativeMEDIA (IM) post from Robert the Second (this author) regarding the 1994 (CO) South Canyon Fire and comments made by "They Said" webmaster Abercrombie

Robert the Second says August 27, 2019 at 8:56 pm (

The following is well worth reading, from the former ”” – the self-proclaimed ”home of the wildland firefighter.” Among many resources on their site is the bulletin board, They Said It, which was first moderated by the original “Abercrombie” and now by Abby. They Said provides its readers with LCES: a Lookout for what we probably couldn’t otherwise see happening in the rest of the wildfire world; Communications to bring together a diverse group of agency, contractor and cooperator folks (and even some of those structure types); Escape routes for when the off-season or office day lasts too long or is just too far from the smoke; and ultimately, a Safety zone in the information, innovation and motivation to help bring us all back home.”

DEFINITELY check out the former – They Said archives (1999-2004) with a ton of good stuff! Especially read the "Common Errors 1919” and former Smokejumper (SMJ) Tony Petrilli’s witness statement from the South Canyon Fire report and “Similarities of Fatality Fires, Observations of Payne, 04/04” and all former USFS Hot Shot Supt. and FMO Doug Campbells’ (RiP) Campbell Prediction System (CPS) links. The “ They Said It” link below: ( ) will likely need to be run through the “Internet Archive Wayback Machine” link

( ).

This is a great critique of the South Canyon Fire debacle and fully supporting the Fire Orders and the 18 Watch Out Situations by “They Said” Abercrombie “Assuming there may be a few readers left with me here, I’ll now address the issues noted in the second paragraph of this article. The failure of a firefighter, all firefighters, any firefighters, regardless of rank, to follow established rules or guidelines have little to do with weather forecasters, district managers, or dispatch centers. Yet, Mr. Maclean in his ignorance and some of the readers of his book seem to prefer blaming some of these individuals, or others who were far from the fireline.

"An excess amount of uninformed, misplaced, insinuations filled far too many pages of the book as the author critiqued decisions and placed blame on those making decisions about when the fire first ignited, how long it was left to burn, whose jurisdiction or responsibility it was, and how long it took until resources began to attack the fire. I consider this extraneous information as fluff, dander, and fill to make the book fit the parameter of a novel at around 275 pages. Most of dialogue, interviews, and conclusions fail to address the primary responsibility of each firefighter to comply with the fundamental rules already existing to govern their actions and behavior."

“It didn’t matter if the South Canyon fire was burning for a week or a month, it didn’t matter if the fire was 5 or 500 acres prior to initial attack, or if there were 10 or 100 airtankers five miles away ideally spinning their props. Understand?" Abercrombie continues below ...


"It doesn’t matter and has absolutely no bearing on why the firefighters died. Do you get it?"

"The primary responsibility for a crew’s safety lies with their crew supervisor. Period."

"It doesn’t matter who the IC is, who the Division Supervisor is, nor the Branch Director, nor any other person in an observing status. It’s the crew supervisor!"



“I believe adequate training was provided these people to prevent this scenario from happening. They just didn’t follow the rules. I would like to have the capability of making sure each firefighter reading this understands that a similar situation may happen to them on any given fire. My hopes are that each of you are aware that you have the right to “question authority.”

"Ensure you understand and are aware of the 10 Standard Orders and the 18 Watchout Situations! Make sure you understand them and apply them to every fire you fight. You have the right to refuse any assignment you are uncomfortable with. You have the right to say NO! "

“Seldom politically correct, always fire correct. . . Abercrombie"


According to the NWCG NWCG Report on Wildland Firefighter Fatalities in the United States: 2007-2016 (PMS 841 - Dec. 2017) the "official" YH Fire claptrap is endorsed. presented as accurate and factual, completely omitting any mention of the fact that the GMHS was already in a Safety Zone, several firing operations, violations of the Rules of Engagement, and yet instead focused on their failed deployment zone and fire shelter use.

Yarnell Hill Fire (2013)—19 Fatalities (footnote omitted)

"While suppressing the [YH] Fire, the [GMHS] was traveling through an unburned area toward a safety zone when the high-intensity fire rapidly advanced and overtook them. The fire’s extreme speed of 10 to 12 miles per hour eliminated any opportunity for the crew to reach the safety zone or return up to the canyon rim. The crew had less than two minutes to improve a shelter deployment site by using chain saws and burning out the area. The crew had deployed their fire shelters close together in a small area when the fire overtook them. The fire shelter deployment site in the box canyon was not survivable because the heavy brush caused direct flame contact to the fire shelters and temperatures exceeded 2000°F as the fire swept through the site." (p. 4) (footnote omitted)

Figure 2a. Refusing Risk - Authority and the Judgement of Emotion lead-in photo Source: Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (WLF LLC)

Looking closely at this WLF LLC photo above in Figure 2a. you'll definitely see these WFs or FFs without hardhats while on the fireline and (at least) the far left WF or FF obviously has his (or her) sleeves rolled up while on the fireline. This WF and FF human behavior depicted in the Figure 2a. photo above was defined in researcher and author Diane Vaughan’s 1996 book titled: The Challenger Launch Decision as, “The gradual process through which unacceptable practice or standards become acceptable.” Or, as two separate medical field authors put it, "when doing wrong feels so right" - more commonly known as the "Normalization of Deviance."

Consider now the NWCG Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (i.e. Red Book) (2023 and archive 2013) Head Protection - Personnel must be equipped with hardhats and wear them at all times while on the fireline. (2013; 07-10) All personal in the fire area will wear helmets at all times. (2023; 07-174) Fire shirts are included as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and are called "Yellow long-sleeved flame resistant shirt" (2013; 07-09) Required Fireline PPE - Long-sleeved, flame-resistant shirt (yellow recommended); must comply with NFPA 1977 (2023; 07-172)

Other PPE are Fire Shelters with this direction: "Supervisors and [FFs] must never rely on fire shelters instead of using well-defined escape routes and safety zones." (2013; 07-10) and (2023, 07-173) In reality, it's clear that the GMHS ignored that one completely on June 30, 2013, however, the SAIT-SAIR in Fairy Tale fashion, concluded otherwise. In the words of the arrogant, Federally-funded SAIT, their untenable SAIT-SAIR conclusion unequivocally states this bogus foregone conclusion: "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. And found no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol." (p. 4) Based on that impossibility - reframed in the positive - our prior Feb. 13, 2022, YHFR post is worth visiting: How was it possible to do everything right and yet 19 PFD FFs died in one fell swoop on June 30, 2013?

Fire shelter M-2002, Forest Service specification 5100-606 is required for all wildland firefighters. (2013; 07-173) and (2023; 07-173).


"In the absence of post-event processing and reflection, organizations likely fail to capture lessons learned in order to build the capacity of individuals and teams to meet future challenges."

Extreme Leadership: Leaders, Teams and Situations Outside the Norm (2013) Elgar Online


Considering Figure 3a. below, the 2023 Arizona Wildland Fire Incident and Management Academy (AWIMA) Schedule of Classes. Look closely. Where do you see anything at all about a Yarnell Hill Fire Staff Ride or Site visit? You see it nowhere! Because there is no such course at the AWIMA. Why is that? And Yarnell is only an hour from Prescott, AZ.

Figure 3. Post the Truth image. Source: Facebook

Figure 3a. Snippet of the 2023 Arizona Wildland Fire Incident and Management Academy (AWIMA) Schedule of Classes. Source: AWIMA


Consider the Nov. 1, 2018 WLF LLC article below titled "Has Nothing Changed?" by WLF LLC Travis Dotson. First off, note the mostly dark image, verbiage, and artwork, and what the author is priming you for; validating the SAIT-SAIR “conclusion” of no blame, no fault, and that somehow this predetermined "same old thinking" (The tried-and-trued Rules of Engagement and Entrapment Avoidance principles) are a vicious circle and the natural and inescapable consequences are "the same old results" (the GMHS supposedly following all the Fire Orders and heeding and mitigating the Watch Out Situations)

"The subject matter is of great interest to us here at the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. ... It has to do with wildland fire. It has to do with learning. ... It has to do with a monumental trauma in danger of being rendered inconsequential."

Figure 4. The same old thinking & results image Source: WLF LLC

Continuing ... "The subject matter is of great interest to us here at the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center." [You're kidding me, right? If it "is of great interest to us here," as they claim then what happened here when the WLF LLC failed to mention either the YH Fire or the GMHS even once in its one-and-a-half-hour "Reading, Reflecting, and Changing Behavior" podcast?] Go to our YHFR post titled: Why Has the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Lost Its Ethical Compass Defending The Federal USFS-Funded June 30, 2013, SAIT-SAIR Conclusion of No Wrongdoing? (YHFR 6/2/22)

Here are some notable author quotes and comments from the article:

"It’s written by Kyle Dickman." [Recall that Dickman was the very first of many YH and GMHS tragedy authors with his book The Burning Edge. He also wrote the online Outside magazine article (10-30-18) mentioned in this WLF LLC article - curiously minus a link - and titled "What We Learned From the Yarnell Hill Fire Deaths" the same title of Dickman's Outside magazine article. Notice Dickman has craftily included you all in there with his all-inclusive "What We Learned From the [YHF] Deaths"

[And then both Dickman and WLF LLC Dotson went even a step further with his "What We Learned From the Yarnell Hill Fire Deaths" while referring to the Honor the Fallen" group with these most stunning and telling statements "to make sure the {YH Fire] … forced some much-needed changes to the job’s outdated culture." [Forced? Much-needed?]


"On January 2014, ]eleven] veteran firefighters from the nation’s biggest fire agencies—the vanguard of fire, as they were described to me—met in Yarnell.

“'We could see ourselves making the same decision they’d made,' said Travis Dotson, a member of the [WLF LLC], a federally funded organization that helps firefighters improve their performance.

"Dotson and others formed an underground group called Honor the Fallen. Included in its couple dozen members were some of the highest-ranking firefighters from the various agencies in the wildland fire business: the [USFS, BLM, and NPS]. … to make sure [YH] … forced some much-needed changes to the job’s outdated culture.

"To spark 'an age of enlightenment' in wildland fire.

Dotson - 'Before Yarnell, it was about getting better at fighting fire. After, it’s been about getting better at accepting death.'”

And remind me once again - why is there a need for the WLF LLC to be "Changing Behavior" when the Rules of Engagement were - and will continue to be - working just fine? Along those same lines, a Safety Matters member, a retired smokejumper, and National Park Service manager (the same person) similarly noted: “For better or worse, NWCG has taken the position that the 10 Standard Fire Orders are now to be considered guidelines and not absolute orders. ... No explanation ... why rules that have been in place for 50 years are suddenly guidelines (emphasis added) (Thuermer, 2014) This telling statement sends a clear message. They worked and continue to work!


Mission Center Solutions (MCS), Military Veteran, and Honor the Fallen member Mark Smith states: “Over time, the relationship between tragedy and rulemaking sewed into the culture the belief that firefighters die only when they break rules. ... While these rules are well intentioned and do indeed save lives, he says they also impose a false sense of control in a wildly chaotic environment. ... There’s a relatively high probability that a tree eventually crushes you, you step on a bee nest, grab the business end of a chainsaw, or get burned. Yet somehow, most firefighters Smith polled believe they work in a low-risk environment—something more like a factory floor. ... if the Forest Service admitted the incredibly high chance of death their people are exposed to, their firefighters—or maybe their families—might demand fair compensation.”

Please consider our YHFR post (4-28-22) titled: What Are the Underground Honor the Fallen Group Ulterior Motives For Defending the GMHS Decisions?


Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental depicted in Figure 3a. below.

Figure 4a. Snippet of Beware of Doug warning sign & Far Side images Source: SignMission, Far Side, Wayfair, Twitter


Without counsel, plans go awry,

But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

Proverbs 15:22 (NKJV)


And why is it that those Arizona State Forestry (AZSF) Staff Ride and OMNA International YH Fire Staff Ride are so highly vetted and disparately restrictive? Where the "truth doesn't matter in a Staff Ride" according to an AZSF Staff Ride Coordinator (and former CDF employee). And having been an eyewitness and crucial YH Fire fireline supervisor - Blue Ridge HS Supt. Brian Frisby - also be an active participant and YH Fire Staff Ride Subject Matter Expert spuriously be considered as "a distraction" by one of the cadre or participants on one of the early beta-test Staff Rides. How about if "they" are intent on concealing the truth about what happened on June 30, 2013? Then I can see how "they" and their small minds would consider BRHS Supt. Frisby as "a distraction." (YHFR December 7, 2018)

Regarding the OMNA International option, this author submitted an email request for the Dude Fire and YH Fire Staff Rides on December 14 , 2022, and has never received a response from them as of this posting.

Figure 4b. OMNA Intl. Staff Ride Request Snippet for the Dude Fire and YH Fire Staff Rides, submitted by this author on Dec.14 , 2022. Source: FJS

“Wildfire fatalities continue to occur from the same causal factors. Staff Rides are a valuable asset in the “lessons learned” tool box to reduce them, however, when based on deceptive “investigations,” how valuable are those “lessons learned?” An overlooked statement: “ [they] should avoid being a recital of a single investigation report. Such reports rarely address the human factors that affect individual decision-making. … providing participants with a variety of information sources is important” [38]. (emphasis added) The YH Fire requires different “information sources” to be factual."

And yet the YH Fire and GMHS SAIT-SAIR is clearly and unequivocally one-sided and they want to keep it that way by selectively blocking attempts to include any other supporting or contrary information they are ignored, criticized, rebuffed, labeled a "Conspiracy Theorist," Speaking Ill of the Dead, etc.

Reference [38] above is from the official Government “NWCG: Wildland Fire leadership Development Program. The Staff Ride (2019) publication.

( ) [Whoops! "Page not found" error message? Imagine that. This NWCG Leadership Toolbox Staff Ride link cited here and used for years in papers and such is now mysteriously missing; even from an Internet Archive Wayback Machine search! This is likely far from a mere coincidence]

Figure 5. Snippet of NWCG Staff Ride, Case Study, Site Visit article Internet search from above link "page not found." Source: NWCG


WantsToKnowTheTruth [WTKTT] says May 4, 2019 at 3:35 pm

And as for people “not getting the memo” that the Yarnell Hill Staff Ride product was headed for obscurity after it was finished… ... you can (apparently) count former Arizona State Forester Jeff Whitney on that list.

In an interview with the Prescott Daily Courier on April 29, 2016, the very week that another ‘dry run’ of the Yarnell Hill Staff Ride had just been performed, Whitney himself was hyping the ‘importance’ of it all as a “learning tool” for the entire WF industry, and also said that he expected it would be ‘conducted’ four times a year on an ongoing basis…

Arizona Forster Jeff Whitney said he foresees the Yarnell Hill Fire being a learning tool for years to come, with as many as four staff rides a year conducted at the site.” So somebody was bullshitting even “El Jefe”… while he was still actually working on it.

The Prescott Daily Courier - Article Title: Families, officials walk in final footsteps of the Hotshots. Published: April 29, 2016 6:02 a.m. – By Cindy Barks (Unfortunately, reading the article will require a reader subscription.)

Figure 5a. Turnout gear belonging to the GMHS is displayed at their memorial service at the Prescott Valley Event Center in July2013. Source: AZ State Forestry / Courtesy photo, AZ Central

From that article… ————————————————————————————- PRESCOTT – When the State of Arizona and 12 families of fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots settled a wrongful death lawsuit in June 2015, the Arizona State Forestry Division agreed to do nine things.

Now, about 10 months later, a number of those points have been accomplished, and others are in the works, say officials with the State Forestry Division.

First on the list was a promise to conduct an eight-hour question-and-answer session with the Hotshot families to “review data and information and to answer questions posed by the families and their consultants / experts.”

Other points included the creation of “lessons learned” and “staff ride” documents to help prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future, as well as a number of steps toward improved training, technology, communications, and instruction on estate planning and family care plans.

Arizona State Forester Jeff Whitney points out that the staff ride process has been underway for months, and is expected to wrap up before the three-year mark of the Granite Mountain Hotshot tragedy (June 30, 2016). Creation of a staff ride was a requirement of the Hotshot lawsuit settlement that was reached nearly a year ago (June 29, 2015).

The process also is integral to wildland firefighting, and was among the recommendations of the Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation that came out in September 2013.

As Whitney explains it, a staff ride is a multi-phase process that has its roots in the military. First comes a preliminary study of the incident or fire, then an extensive field study of the actual sites where the fire occurred, and finally, an opportunity to integrate the lessons learned from the fire into future firefighting efforts.

The draft staff ride document from April 2016 lists five goals. First among them: “Create a memorable learning experience that helps participants make better decisions supported by the application of recent and relevant history.”

For Whitney, who in 1990 was on the team battling the Payson-area Dude Fire during which six firefighters died, the “lessons-learned” aspect is crucial.

“How can we prevent this from happening?” he said. “It’s important work.” Whitney came out of retirement in January 2015 to accept Gov. Doug Ducey’s appointment as director of the Arizona State Forestry Division. He was a part of the mediation that culminated with the June 2015 settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit that family members brought against the state.

He stresses that the staff ride is not intended to be an investigation into “what went wrong?” Rather, he said, the exercise puts wildland experts into the place of those who made the decisions during the fire.

“It’s important that we get some clarity around what occurred there,” Whitney said. “And it’s important that we try to do everything we possibly can to equip our current and future fire managers with more information, so they’re better able to do situation awareness and opportunity recognition.”

The 47-page April 2016 Yarnell Hill Staff Ride draft included a step-by-step schedule for the team. Among the defined stops: the Yarnell Fire Station; movement to the ridge top on Yarnell Hill; a “sense-making and communication” session at the top of the ridge; descending to the saddle, defined as “closing the window;” and the fatality site, which the document refers to as “realized ultimate reality.”

Along with background about the crew, the draft staff ride document includes situational information, and the tactical decisions that were made.

The document notes that participants in the exercise would be “tracing the route and decision-making of the (Granite Mountain Hotshots) and their colleagues as they faced a rapidly changing fire environment in an effort to manage the Yarnell Hill Fire.”

Whitney said the family involvement in the Yarnell Hill staff ride was somewhat unique, because of its place in the settlement agreement. The 40 experts who participated this week came various agencies all over the country. Their feedback will go into the creation of the final staff ride document.

Whitney foresees the Yarnell Hill Fire being a learning tool for years to come, with as many as four staff rides a year conducted at the site. (He said access to the site is still being worked out).

Noting that staff rides usually take eight to 10 years to complete, Whitney said the Yarnell Hill exercise is well ahead of the norm.

“We’re going to have this done in three years,” he said. I’m extremely pleased with the progress to date. It redeems the commitment I made.”

Thanks to John Dougherty and InvestigativeMEDIA (IM) … the actual ‘digitial (sic) product’ was obtained through a valid Open Records Request, and has always been sitting online ( in all of its bullshit glory ) at the following PUBLIC location(s)…

The 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire Staff Ride Facilitator’s Guide InvestigativeMEDIA drop-box

Special version of the YHF Staff Ride Facilitator’s guide used for the ‘Family Input’ trial staff ride that took place on April 5, 2016…..

So ‘they’ can’t ever say it doesn’t exist or was never finished.. The only thing that remains to be learned is why ‘they’ are not PUBLISHING it and making it truly ‘available’ along with all the other staff ride products already bought-and-paid-for with taxpayer dollars.

And of course … the link is kinda important - The Atlantic (2019) "When Making Things Better Only Makes Them Worse - Our very attempts to stave off disaster make unpredictable outcomes more likely." Erik Larson

Gary Olson says April 30, 2019 at 8:25 am ... RTS [Robert the Second, aka Fred Schoeffler], This article discusses theories that seem to support my positions on the 10, the 18, and LCES and undermine what you so strongly believe and that is all of those rules are important."


Pre-YH Fire and GMHS debacle, there was a tradition at the AZ Fire Academy whereby Challenge Coins were given to one student from each of the four to five S-130/190 sessions for those correctly stating the Fire Orders and Watch Out Situations from memory. It all changed after the June 30, 2013, YH Fire and GMHS debacle.

YH Fire Eyewitness Hike Joy A. Collura experienced this event at her AWIMA S-130 / 190 Course in her Fireline Mobile Technology class March 9, 2019, the AWIMA IC Dirk Foreman may be “old school” but he did state an unfortunate comment: During the Basic S-130 / 190 Course, the AWIMA IC - Fire Chief Dirk Foreman may be “old school” but he did state an unfortunate comment for my ears – he said when I asked about the challenge coin and if the instructor has to name of the 10 and 18 and he replied- “The 10 and 18 are two distinct and separate trains of thoughts … my asst is pretty adamant on basic wildland and doing those 10 and 18. I am from the other school … you should know what they are about … recognize some of it … learn ’em but if you want to repeat them word for word than go to your IRPG … remember the concept behind the 10 & 18.” [A double standard? Hypocrisy? Apathy? Complacency? How about to validate the SAIT-SAIR no blame, no fault conclusion?]



WantsToKnowTheTruth says March 16, 2019 at 9:19 pm "Brendan’s OWN PHOTOGRAPHS, which he took at 3:49 PM after ARRIVING ( safely ) back where the GM command vehicles were staged, prove that his own recent statement is totally false.

Those photographs are here ( where they have always been ) in the public evidence folder…


And… uhm… about an hour later… another weather event comes in and says “Hey… we got about an hour” before this weather storm comes in…”


The ‘second weather alert’ went out over the radio that day at 3:30 PM, and FBAN Byron Kimball NEVER said it was going to take an HOUR “before the weather came in”.

He specifically said the gust fronts could arrive (quote) “within the half-hour”.

He said it TWICE ( because that was IMPORTANT information ).

That ‘second weather alert’ by FBAN Byron Kimball was actually RECORDED in one of the Panebaker Air-Study videos…

———————————————————————————- AIR STUDY VIDEO – 20130630_153014_SEAT_EP.MOV

VIDEO STARTS AT 1529.04 ( 3:29.04 PM )

+0:37 ( 1529.41 / 3:29.41 PM )

( FBAN Byron Kimball ): Operations Abel, Fire Behavior, on TAC 1.

NOTE: Even though FBAN Byron Kimball specifically ‘calls out’ to OPS1 Todd Abel, the responder to this callout sounds more like OPS2 Paul Musser than OPS1 Todd Abel.

+0:43 ( 1529.47 / 3:29.47 PM ) ( OPS1 Todd Abel or OPS2 Paul Musser ): Go ahead, Byron

+0:48 ( 1529.52 / 3:29.52 PM ) ( FBAN Byron Kimball ): As per U.S. National Weather Service… within the half-hour… remarkable NORTHEAST… EAST winds… possibility of as high as 50 miles an hour or likely 25 (pause) definitely 25, 35 gusting 40… beginning east / northeast within the half hour. ———————————————————————————–

So it’s a ( new ) mystery where Brendan is now getting his “one hour” time prediction in his new “story”.

“and my crew’s workin’, they’re on the fire’s edge, they’re goin’ direct, they’re workin’ with helicopters… and at this point the… the fire’s moved so far north there was another town over that was threatened…”

Also wrong ( in the context of the time of the second weather alert ).

By the time the second weather alert went out at 3:30 PM… the Granite Mountain hotshots has long since ceased doing any real work at all. From the time they ate lunch, and for the rest of the afternoon, all they did was work backwards on the paltry 100 yards of line they had cut that day and were just ‘cleaning that up’.

That remains one of the most tragic ironies of that day.

The GM crew was doing so very little useful work ‘up there’ for most of the afternoon, there really was no reason for them not to have simply come down the way they went up, move their own vehicles, and get out of harms way.

Even Air Attack Rory Collins testified “They had plenty of time to return to their vehicles”.

And so… over the radio I hear my crew and they’re… ya know… “Hey… we’re headed to our escape route. We’re on our way out”… ya know…

“We’re gonna… we’re gonna meet up in town”. So I’m like “All right. Cool. I’ll see ya in about thirty, thirty-five minutes”.

Once again… Brendan seems to be ‘testifying’ that he, himself, had a direct two-way conversation with his crew even AFTER he left his lookout position… and during the time when the SAIT said they could not “verify any direct communications” with Granite Mountain.

And we had pulled outta the… the north end of the town we were at. We started movin’ more south to where the vehicles were. Where… ya know… someone had reached out to my crew… and… “Hey… how you guys doin? You makin’ your way down?” “Yea… we’re makin’ our way down”.


Brendan ( if you can believe anything he says ) NOW seems to be CONFIRMING that people in fire command had directly conversed with either Marsh or Steed ( or both ) and VERIFIED that they were, in fact, making their way DOWN from the safe-black.

And this VERIFICATION of their ‘coming down’ movement(s) took place DURING the time when the SAIT said they could not “verify” any direct communications with Granite Mountain.


IM poster/ commenter Watchout #11 says - March 17, 2019 at 4:10 pm

"I think it’s time I join in on the conversation after 5+ years. Growing up with Steed, Shumate, Darell (sic) and Papa Steinbrink, it’s time that these surviving men do the right thing(s). The Desert Walker and multiple others are inches away from showing America what they thought happened DID NOT and what was quickly dismissed IS THE TRUTH. The Desert Walker and The man on the “Rim” [Mystery Man] know the truth. We all do. 3.75 up, .9 down takes you to a place where the silence screams. I was taught nothing good comes from a secret."


Figure 6. GMHS hiking on two-track June 30, 2013, AM with "the black" above them Source: Joy A. Collura (The Desert Walker)

Figure 6a. (left) Photo taken by GMHS Christopher Mackenzie (RiP) at 15:50 on June 30, 2013. Source: SAIT-SAIR, IFE Figure 6b. (right) Photo texted by GMHS Wade Parker (RiP) at 16:04 on June 30, 2013. Source: SAIT-SAIR, IFE

From the InvestigativeMEDIA YH Fire post regrading BRHS Frisby: "Apparently, Blue Ridge Hotshot Superintendent Brian Frisby is sick and tired of being told he can’t discuss what he knows ( and has ALWAYS known ) about the Yarnell Hill Fire.

According to Deborah Pfingston and former GM Hotshot Doug Harwood… Frisby spoke to an entire California Hotshot crew just last summer about what REALLY happened in Yarnell, and whatever he told them was enough for them to realize the SAIT investigation was a total FARCE.

In their ‘introduction’ to their PODCAST Episode 8, published just 5 weeks ago on April 24, 2019, Harwood ‘reads’ an email they received from one of the firefighters on this Hotshot crew that Frisby spoke to.

Our Investigation, Our Truth

What Happened to the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshots PODCAST Episode 08: Your Changes, Our Change

Published: April 24, 2019 (–Our-Changes-e3qqcb)

Episode 8, Part 1

+0:48 ———————————————————————————————————– Doug Harwood: We have a comment from a firefighter on a Hotshot crew in California. He says…

My crew was lucky enough to work with Blue Ridge last summer. On one of the slow days the Blue Ridge supe ( Brian Frisby ) took time to speak to our whole crew about the events of that day. Between THAT conversation, and listening to your podcasts, I’m appalled by the FAILURE of our original investigation. Not only was it an injustice to the perished firefighters, it’s a disservice to our current firefighters as well. How are we supposed to learn ANY lessons from the tragedy if we don’t know exactly what happened?”

Doug Harwood: We want to thank that firefighter for his message.

Deborah Pfingston: Yes. Thank you so much." ———————————————————————————————————

And just for the sake of completeness…

From the actual Yarnell ‘wrongful death’ settlement agreement

NOTE: These ‘actions’ were non-negotiable. It was the COURT saying what MUST be done…

————————————————————————————————– Page 11 of 11 – Settlement Agreement and Release USDC CV-14-02308-PHX


What ASFD WILL do:

1. After all litigation is concluded, including appeals, ASFD will meet for a full day (8 hours) with the GMIHC families and their consultants/experts to review data and information and to answer questions posed by the families and their consultants/experts. Counsel for the State Forester and the survivors shall be present. To the extent possible, questions will be submitted in writing 2 weeks in advance of the meeting. This will be a facilitated learning process, and Forestry will provide a facilitator to assist with this experience. Plaintiffs may request that specific individuals from ASFD and others who were present during the Yarnell Hill fire attend.

2. After all litigation is concluded, including appeals, ASFD will request a Lessons Learned product regarding the Yarnell Hill fire.

3. After all litigation is concluded, including appeals, ASFD will request that NWCG create a staff ride for the Yarnell Hill fire and will make its personnel and information it has collected available. In addition, ASFD will recommend that family members of the GMIHC crew be included in the process of developing the staff ride, and that NWCG review how this Fire relates to the Common Denominators in Fatality Fires and figure out if there is a common thread. ——————————————————————————————————

“ASFD will request that NWCG create a staff ride for the Yarnell Hill fire”

They did that ( as the court ordered them to do ). The NWCG agreed… and ‘split no hairs’ about it being a STATE fire versus a FEDERAL one.