Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?
Figure 1. Dude Fire Fatality Site - Walk Moore Canyon Trailhead sign Source: NWCG, USFS
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Ephesians 4:25
"The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything." Teddy Roosevelt
Authors: Douglas Fir, Joy A. Collura, and contributing others
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What follows are some of the written records regarding the June 1990 Dude Fire, (e.g. emails, Incident Action Plan, maps, and very detailed US Attorney's Office "Dude Fire Chronology" (90+ pages) "prepared for the purpose of defending litigation against the United States." In order to forestall any cover-ups or whitewashes, because I served as a Field Observer (FOBS) on the fire, my (DF) comments correct several repeated, questionable comments, errors, and outright falsehoods regarding the whereabouts of Perryville Crew Boss Larry Terra and the alleged Crew Representative (CREP ) status of Dave LaTour per the Overhead Resource Order form ("O-41 ordered 6-26-90 at 1755"), and /or clarification on some other points regarding fire weather and fire behavior.
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Proverbs 10:9
"Our difficulties and our dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them." Winston Churchill
This quote below is a very suitable and germane quote from the book that kicked off the High Reliability Organization (HRO) movement in the USFS. The book is titled "Managing the Unexpected - Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty" by Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe (2007) concerning accurate, truthful, and complete lessons learned.
"[T]he period right after the chaos of battle ... there are truths lying around everywhere that may be picked up for the asking. This is the moment of learning. But it wasn't long before candor gives way to moments of normalizing that protect reputations, decisions, and styles of managing. As soon as official stories get 'straightened out' and repeated, learning stops." (emphasis added - p. 109)
The June 1990 Dude Fire and all other wildland fire fatalities fit squarely into the traps listed above.
"They" may think they are promoting and instilling true lessons learned in today’s WFs and FFs, but in reality they are threatening to raise future generations in darkness, ignorant of the wildfire culture’s complexity and doomed to repeat the same mistakes for which so many have paid such a high price.
What follows is a February 11, 2004, email and attached contour map with fire perimeter locations and times from U.S. Attorney's Office, Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) Mike Johns (RiP) to Schoeffler regarding the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire environmental and human factors and how they related to the eventual extreme fire behavior and WF fatalities in Walk Moore Canyon.
Figure 1. Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Michael A. Johns (RiP), February 11, 2004, email thread to Schoeffler regarding June 1990 Dude Fire fuels, weather, topography,Walk Moore Canyon, firing operations, and Dude Fire Staff Ride Source: Schoeffler
Figure 2. Unutilized Staff Ride map of fire perimeter estimates and times, dozer line locations, non-anchor point (Watch Out #8). Note 0800 to 1400 fire perimeter indicating minimal fire spread during that timeframe. Source: Schoeffler
As a former wildland firefighter (WF) but NOT an officially recognized former Payson Hot Shot Crew Boss as he had boldly claimed, AUSA Johns (RiP) was particularly well-versed in basic wildland fire. Thus, he has correctly pointed out that those involved on the firelines were tunneled in on the environmental factors while discounting the subtle warning signs in Walk Moore Canyon. However, I believe he may have missed the mark a bit with this statement: "No one was lulled by this because everyone knew the risk of blowup." I know the Hot Shot Crews knew the risk, but did the Perryville Crew Boss or Dave LaTour really know the risk of blowup?
He was spot on with his knowledge about "the downhill [fire] run the night before" being a "typical local phenomenon under The Rim."
His conclusion that they thought their burnout plan had "a good chance of success in keeping fire out of Bonita Creek" matches what the Alpine Supt. stated below (posted elsewhere on this website).
"With the support that was here, ... including six HS Crews; [there was] a plan in place to burn around the subdivision. Fire behavior that we were in observation of, at least what we could see, on the slope was non-threatening, really, it was actually working to our benefit ... if we could get this firing show around it [Bonita Creek Subdivision]. I felt like there was a pretty good probability of success ... at least this front of the subdivision. What we observed was very light. I estimated two, three, maybe four at best ... upslope, up canyon winds with a backing fire, and whether the burnout was progressing over there was affecting anything - from my perspective, no - it was not. That continued right on through 'til on my chronology, right about 1400 (2: PM) ..." (emphasis added)
Figure 3. Dude Fire Map with Control Road (64), Fuller Creek Road (4WD) and Walk Moore Canyon Road (4WD), and notations for Corner House, Dozer Line, Burnout Operation, Safety Zone, and the non-Anchor Point (Watch Out #8) Source: Flathead HS, Schoeffler, Record Files
What follows are two pages of what I (DF) refer to as AUSA Johns' (RiP) "Legal Version" of the Dude Fire Investigation Report. I call it the "legal version" because the Serious Accident Investigation Team did their own regarding the operational aspects. However, it was insufficient as a more formal legal document. The U.S. Attorney Office one was much more detailed, comprised of a chronological blending in all the sundry interviews, analyses and reports, witness statements, references and reference materials, conclusory and / or presumptive "comments" regarding the June 26, 1990, Perryville Crew Entrapment, Burnover, and Deployment from a "legal perspective" to defend in Court of Law.
Figure 4. AUSA Johns (RiP) Legal version of Dude Fire Investigation Report regarding the June 26th Perryville Crew Entrapment and Burnover and Deployment period (1418 to 1422) Source: AUSA, Schoeffler
Figure 5. (AUSA Johns (RiP) Legal version of Dude Fire Investigation Report regarding the June 26th Perryville Crew Entrapment and Burnover and Deployment period (1422 cont. to 1426) Source: Schoeffler / AUSA, Record Files
This paper by AUSA Johns (RiP) is well worth reading. What Was He Thinking? Beyond Bias - To Decision Making and Judging by AUSA and Senior Litigation Counsel Mike Johns (RiP). This paper was prepared for the 2007 Serious Accident Investigations course, BLM National Training Center, Phoenix, AZ.
He examines and discusses in quite some detail the following areas: "Cognitive Biases, Outcome Knowledge and Judging Quality of Decisions, Coherence Based Reasoning, Knowledge Structures and Schemas, Dispositionist Thinking and Judging - causation, responsibility and blame, Interpersonal and Intergroup Conflict, and Cultural Cognition."
What follows is the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire "Day Shift" Incident Action Plan (IAP), also formerly known as a Shift Plan.
Figure 6. Dude Fire Day Shift Plan 6-26-90 Cover Page Source: Schoeffler
Ages ago, they called these "Shift Plans." Today, they are called Incident Action Plans ( IAP ).
Figure 7. Dude Fire Day Shift Plan 6-26-90; Incident Objectives Source: Schoeffler
Figure 8. Dude Fire Day Shift Plan 6-26-90; Organization Assignment Sheet Source:Schoeffler
Note: In the six records that follow, I, Joy A. Collura (JAC) has over the years seen inconsistencies on Scott Hunt and in his real time positions on Wildland Fires, so my Public Records Requests asked for his "Job Titles" over the decades; and this is what I received:
Figure 9a-f. DFFM email thread between Bill Boyd and myself (JAC) June 9-10, 2020 regarding a May 29, 2020, Public Records Request (PRR) Source: Proton Email; Joy A Collura
Below is an email thread between Bill Boyd (Deputy Director of AZ State Forestry - Public Records), Martha McConnell / Laura Blandford (AZ State Archive Library) and Joy A Collura:
Friday, July 3, 2020 4:00 PM
To: William Boyd<email@example.com>
Good afternoon, Bill.
Have a loving 4th of July weekend.
This is the update-
So how do I access this area?
"From: Laura Blandford Sent: Monday, June 22, 2020 10:23 AM To: Martha McConnell <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Arizona.Desert.Walker <Arizona.Desert.Walker@protonmail.com> Subject: RE: Yarnell fire - Dude Fire Good morning Joy, I’ve reached out to the Department of Forestry and Fire Management to try and figure out what records Boyd is referencing. Our records do not show the State Archives as receiving anything in addition to the records you have already seen. I will keep you posted.
to then this...
Just a quick note to confirm that the State Archives does not have the records that Forestry is referencing. You have the finding guide to the only records we have received from them. I believe the confusion arises over the difference between records management and archives, both of which are overseen by our agency. With records management, our agency (LAPR) facilitates government agencies with the storage of their records but the agencies themselves have to provide access to the records as they still have legal custody. With archives, agencies transfer legal and physical custody of records to LAPR and we (the archives) provide access. It seems that the records you are seeking are still under the legal custody of Forestry and you will have to contact them about getting access.
Laura Palma-Blandford Deputy State Archivist Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records Email: email@example.com Office: 602-926-3722"
Joy A Collura
Here are the 9g-m snippets (below) of the actual email thread:
Figure 9g-n. DFFM email thread between Bill Boyd, AZ State Archives Library, and myself (JAC) June 9-10, 2020 regarding a May 29, 2020, Public Records Request (PRR) Source: Proton Email; Joy A Collura
The June 26, 1990, IAP follows again (below). Divisions are used to divide an incident into geographical areas of operation. Groups are functional.
Figure 10. Dude Fire Day Shift Plan 6-26-90; Division Assignment (204) Div. A Source: Schoeffler
Figure 11. Dude Fire Day Shift Plan 6-26-90; Division Assignment (204) Div. B Source: Schoeffler
Figure 12. Dude Fire Day Shift Plan 6-26-90; Division Assignment (204) Div. C Source: Schoeffler
Figure 13. Dude Fire Day Shift Plan 6-26-90; Division Assignment (204) Div. D Source: Schoeffler
Figure 14. Dude Fire Day Shift Plan 6-26-90; Division Assignment (204) Div. E Source: Schoeffler
Consider now the IAP Division Assignment List for the Bonita Creek Subdivision as GROUP F, making it a functional versus geographic distinction. Groups are established to divide the incident into functional areas of operation. Groups are composed of resources assembled to perform a special function not necessarily within a single geographic division.
Figure 15. Dude Fire Day Shift Plan 6-26-90; Division Assignment (204) Group F Source: Schoeffler
Consider this from a Wildfire Today 2013 article, where a former WF claimed to be on the Dude Fire.
Commenter Ken says:
"As a young first year “Station Manager” (now called FOS, ADFMO, or Battalion Chief), I rolled into the Dude Fire as a TFLD with an engine in tow. We had driven all night and were supposed to be the 'fresh' crews for the day shift. As we rolled into the Dude Fire, things were going gunnysack." (emphasis added)
It was very common to get a fire assignment order late in the evening or early morning hours, and then drive all night to show up and be labeled as "fresh" crews. In addition, a Staff Ride a few years ago revealed a WF participant stating they were part of a Task Force of Engines from the North Kaibab that showed up in the Corner House area just as "things were going gunnysack."
And another one from a Zig Zag Hot Shot Commenter that sure looks like he was there. However, there is no other formally documented proof of what is claimed (i.e. the fire and hot gases rushing over them), based on some of the things Curtis Martin says:
"I was on the fire that day with Zig Zag hotshots working next to the Perryville crew. I handed a torch to them maybe 15 minutes before the thing blew up. Hot gas rushed over us. My lungs fried and I dropped to the ground to try sucking cooler air out of the dirt while Perryville burned. I had been discusted (sic) by the sticky red retardant that coated me from a tanker drop earlier. They had hit us directly and the goo ran down my back. That’s the only difference between my position and Perryville crew stringing down the valley from us. Many images remain burned in today. I remember the faces of Perryville as we met that morning on the trail. I remember the fellow that walked out of the fire in our direction. I forget if he lived or not. A few hours preceding the blow out I was convinced it was coming. I monitored weather. Noted the winds, the rain falling when humidity had been at 2%, all day. I said to those close to me 'it’s not good. Its going to blow.['] Were mid slope and not near the black. There must have been a hundred bad signs and clear failures to act according to rules and training. A few minutes later it came through the trees like a blast of toxic gas followed by exploding trees. We walked up slope and found the living. Then back down to watch a man walk out of the fire leaving the dead behind him. The whole week became madness as we went back in and faught (sic) the thing on the cliffs of the rim. I remember the town cobbler fixing my melted boors for free. It was an honor to be there with all those firefightes (sic) from.so many places and backgrounds. Its (sic) a thing that rarely fades. The sound. The speed that a spark would flash into a large spot fire. Instantly. Im (sic) all to often outraged as I read the yearly stories of more wildland firefighters burned to death in conditions they never should have been sent. The rules of engagement on the fire line are clear.and reasonable. Its (sic) shocking how frequently they are ignored. I wouldn’t trade that day for anything. But I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Burning to death is an ugly thing so fitting to but contradicting the colors and.beauty of a large fire. Craziest thing I’ll ever see. I miss those guys. (emphasis added)
Figure 16. Dude Fire Day Shift IAP 6-26-90; Air Operations Summary Source: Schoeffler
Figure 17. Dude Fire Day Shift IAP 6-26-90; Incident Radio Communication Plan Source: Schoeffler
Figure 17a. Dude Fire Day Shift IAP 6-26-90 Medical Plan Source: Schoeffler
Consider below (Figures 18-19) both the June 26, 1990, Spot Weather Report and the Fire Behavior Forecast No 1. The first thing to notice are the TIMES of each report and forecast. These indicate they were on the 30th at 2210 (10:10 PM MS) and 2200 (10:00 PM) respectively.
In other words, these were long after the deployments, burnover, and fatalities had occurred. The AUSA would ultimately end up word-smithing and maneuvering it into the Legal Version of the Investigation Report in order for it to "fit" or justify the Dude Fire Fatality narrative.
Figure 18. Dude Fire Day Shift IAP 6-26-90; Spot Weather Report 6/26/90 10:10 PM Source: Schoeffler
Figure 19. Dude Fire Day Shift IAP 6-26-90; Fire Behavior Forecast No. 1 at 2200 (10:00 PM) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 20. Dude Fire Day Shift IAP 6-26-90; Health and Safety Message Source: Schoeffler
Figure 21. Dude Fire Day Shift IAP 6-26-90; Transportation map Source: Schoeffler
Figure 22. Dude Fire Day Shift IAP 6-26-90; Incident map Source: Schoeffler
Consider reviewing the June 1990 Dude Fire content in this unique forum: THE HISTORICAL MARKER DATABASE (HMdb.org) The Dude Fire
The authors believe that it is well worth the time to read the following document. Consider now the detailed, lengthy Dude Fire Chronology to accompany and supplement the Legal Version of the SAIR.
In spite of the fact that I (DF) personally discussed and notified AUSA Mike Johns (RiP) on several occasions of the fact that myself and several other WFs on June 26, 1990, witnessed Crew Boss Terra traveling back and forth on the Control Road in an AZ Dept. of Corrections truck, at the Fuller Creek road intersection, after the fatalities had occurred and broadcast over the radio.
Unfortunately, Johns (RiP) continues to state in this legal document - as fact - that Crew Boss Terra was with the Perryville Crew the entire time in Walk Moore Canyon even though he knew that to be false. AUSA Johns (RiP) again and again, evades the fact that myself and other WFs witnessed him away from the Perryville Crew and during a critical time, that we talked with Terra about the Perryville Crew, and heard Terra state twice: "I should have never left my Crew."
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Proverbs 11:3
This is what I, DF, posted on or about June 21, 2020, and stand by as factual:
"On the afternoon of June 26th about 1400 or so, our DIVS directed us to pull out to the Control Road. While hiking out to the Control Road on the Fuller Creek two-track, I (DF) recall hearing over the radio on the TAC channel that the HS Crews' burnout had been lost. We then heard Zig Zag HS Supt. Gleason calling out over the radio on TAC about a burned WF. He then broadcast over the TAC channel a progression of various Perryville Crew fatalities and burn victims, totaling six.
While standing on the Fuller Creek Road and Control Road, (Figure 2.) we observed an AZ Dept. of Corrections (DOC) vehicle driving back and forth as he could not get through to the East. The fire powerfully crossed the Control Road. As we left the two R6 HS Crews we had been working with, myself, and a Payson HS stopped this vehicle and asked the driver what was happening. The man inside, dressed in a yellow jump suit said - "I should have never left my Crew." I (DF) noticed sodas and cigarettes on the seat next to him. I asked who his Crew was and he said "Perryville" and I told him that they were in a bad way. Once again, he said "I should have never left my Crew."
I (DF) inferred that this AZ State DOC Crew Boss had left his Crew to go to the nearby market at Mesa Del. Terra left Bachman with the responsibility of supervising the Crew even though the Dude Fire was her first wildfire assignment. Furthermore, several years later at a Payson, AZ Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin at Green Valley Park event I asked the visiting AZ Forestry and DOC personnel about Terra and they said he quit right after the Dude Fire. However, I have not verified that.
And what about the alleged Perryville inmate (Fred Hill) that supposedly was with Crew Boss Terra going for water? Many years later, the Globe HS Supt stated he had 'a son of the Perryville inmate' that supposedly was with Crew Boss Terra going for water. The son said his Father told him they had gotten 'some pot from some of the other Crews, and they were off by themselves smoking dope, and that's why they were separated from the rest of the Crew.' Look at the names and numbers of the Perryville Crew individuals and the map on Figure 74a.
AUSA Johns (RiP) in an introductory paragraph states: 'The following was prepared for the purpose of defending litigation against the United States. It has been edited for use in training and study of the incident. It still contains considerable duplication of information obtained from a variety of sources, as it is believed by the author, Mike Johns (RiP), [AUSA], to assist in understanding the incident from the differing perspectives of those who were there. Johns (RiP) is counsel to the United States and [alleged that he] was formerly the Payson Hotshot Crew Foreman where this fire occurred." (emphasis added)
Figure 23. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 24 ) Source: Schoeffler
These public records were in a three ring binder with numbered pages and may be out of order somewhat. Page 24 above in Figure 23. was placed there to indicate the AUSA intent in the first paragraph.
Figure 24. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 2 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 25. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 3 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 26. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 4 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 27. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 5 ) Source: Schoeffler
"(6/25/90 1830) The Type II Team was briefed by the District Ranger at 1830. The fire was about 650 acres. ... The Type II Team took over about 2000. At 2030 Tonto Fire Staff Officer Wagenfehr and [the] Type II Incident Commander decided to order the Type I Team." (emphasis added)
Very interesting point and revelations here that contradicts what I (DF) heard at that same meeting and posted ("Part 2 - Do our Wildland Fire (WF) Instructors foster "complete" lessons learned in the WF culture?") elsewhere on this website.
This one from the AUSA Dude Fire chronology strongly suggests that the Incident Commander basically turned Quisling and betrayed his own Fire Team by joining forces with the Forest FMO to order the Type I Team without even giving his own Team the benefit of the doubt.
"I (DF) don't recall who the IA Incident Commander was at the time. As a Field Observer, I was encouraged to attend the Class Two Team in-briefing, including District and Forest personnel, and the Forest Fire Staff (FMO). I am glad I went, it was definitely an eye opener. Once the in-briefing was over the Tonto NF FMO stated: '... By the way, I have already ordered a Class One Team with the transition to occur at noon.'
"Needless to say, the Class Two Team personnel were pretty upset about that, saying things like: 'we haven't even been on the fire yet' and 'you never gave us a chance to prove ourselves' and the like. This would later come into play because the Class Two Team personnel were reluctant to let go of the operations - especially the Walk Moore Canyon / Bonita Creek Subdivision firing operation."
"This was a common SW Area noon transition time in those days, that thankfully ceased because of what occurred on the fatal Dude Fire."
This is one of the major issues that must be discussed at Stand One of the Dude Fire Staff Ride.
Figure 28. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 6 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 29. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 7 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 30 Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 8 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 31. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 9 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 32. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 10 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 33. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 11 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 34. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 12 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 35. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 13) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 36. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 14 ) Source: Schoeffler
It was Eckstein that brought more fire shelters - and there is no Coronado HS
Figure 37 Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 15 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 38. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 16 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 39. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 17 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 40. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 18 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 41. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 19 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 42. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 20 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 43. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 21 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 44. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 22 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 45. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 23 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 46. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 24 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 47. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 25 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 48. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 26 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 49. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 27 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 50. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 28 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 51. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 29 ) Source: Schoeffler
"(6/26/90 1230) [OPS] Cooke went to the subdivision to tie the overhead in with the crews. ... At the time he did not establish specific division breaks, which expanded with the fire, but sent the supervisors to scout their areas while he did the same. ... When he walked down Walkmoore Canyon the main fire near the Perryville Crew was 200 to 300 yards from the dozer line backing down the sideslope with calm winds. There was no indication that the fire would make the kind of run on the line there that it did." (emphasis added)
What follows below in Figure 52. "(6/26/90 1230) [DIVS Whitney] about a half hour to an hour before the blowup he went down to check the ... Southwest corner of the burnout, which was the Northwest corner of the subdivision. He heard the fire had crossed the Control Road so he went to check it. He headed out but was told by others trying to enter the subdivision that they could not enter. He saw 150 to 200 foot flames, knew they were trapped and called the line, Prescott [HS?], and told them to pass the word to get into a safety zone. They built the [safety] zone in the black from the burnout." (emphasis added)
Figure 52. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 30 ) Source: Schoeffler
"(6/26/90 1245) LaTour could see ... Some runs but well above Bonita Creek on the other side of Walk Moore [Canyon]. ... Fire would come to a ridge and then die down. The Zig Zag and Redmond crews passed them going up the line. Latour had the crew spread out and watching for spots. ... Latour could see the main fire slowly coming down but not in their drainage. ... There was some wind, squirly (sic) 3ith some spots showing up in the drainage. He put the crew back to work improving line. [DIVS Group] Ashby called and said to stay below the Alpine Crew. They had about a 200 yard gap between them. [OP] VanTilborg ... was checking the burnout around the subdivision." (emphasis added)
The fire is signalling its intentions to Perryville CREP and alleged Lookout LaTour. He could see some runs well above Bonita Creek on the other side of Walk Moore Canyon and watched the fire come to a ridge and then die down. He could see the main fire slowly coming down but in another drainage. He noted that there was some squirly wind with some spots showing up in the drainage. Anyone else kinda concerned or at least noting the increasing fire behavior? How about those spots showing up in the drainage ... and the WFs more-or-less ignoring them?
Figure 53. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 31 ) Source: Schoeffler
"(6/26/90 1300) [DIVS] Gil had trouble holding line all morning. They lost a spot which they planned to line later in the day with a dozer. ... Except possibly a spot to the Northeast, all the spots were between [the] dozer line and main fire except one small one East of the [C]orner [H]ouse and North of the road, West of the dozer line (surrounded by line) long before the blowup, and was easily put out with water." (emphasis added)
It is notable that DIVS Gil had trouble holding line all morning and lost a spot that they planned to line with a dozer later in the day. Line spots later in the day? And it's okay because all the spots are in between the dozer line and the main fire. WTF? Negative! You deal with spots as they occur - immediately!
Figure 54. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 32 ) Source: Schoeffler
(6-30-90 1630 - above) Hot Shots experiencing strong, gusty winds, losing their spot fires, losing their burning operation, Perryville WF Hatch walking out of the smoke at 1433, and "the fire kept coming."
Figure 55. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 33 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 56 Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 34 ) Source: Schoeffler
"(6/26/90 1315) At 1315 to 1330 the crew sequence down Walk Moore Canyon was Alpine, Perryville, and Navajo. No burnout was taking place. The fire was backing down across the canyon about one third the way down from the top." (emphasis added)
Figure 57. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns(RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 35 ) Source: Schoeffler
"(6/26/90 1330) Redmond Hotshots completed the burnout around the corner house that had the handline around it. Zigzag Hotshots took over the burnout and continued down the dozer line at about 1330. ... At about 1315 to 1330 [OPS] Dundas pulled West side crews back from their burnout operation on the Southwest side because it was apparent they would not be able to contain the fire and should let it go on down toward the Control Road rather than try to build new line east to Bonita. ... This was not an evacuation, only a tactical decision to discontinue a burnout operation." (emphasis added)
"Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision." Winston Churchill
In spite of a few, key bad decisions that cost several WFs their lives, there were a lot of good decisions made that day.
Figure 58. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 36 ) Source: Schoeffler
"The possibility of thunderstorms did not prompt LaTour to remove his crew because the fire was West of them on the ridge and above to the North of them and he did not believe they were in jeopardy, and believed a thunderstorm would not threaten them." (emphasis added)
Elsewhere, LaTour admits to seeing fire activity in Fuller Canyon to the West. This may have been the LaGrande HS burnout blunder
"(6/26/90 1345) Before Scopa walked down to see LaTour he drove to a higher house in the subdivision and looked at the fire. The main fire was still to the North of the subdivision and may have also been on the ridge to the West of the [C]orner [H]ouse but there was no fire to the Southwest of the [C]orner [H]ouse." (emphasis added)
It was likely the R6 HS burnout gone awry that Scopa saw: "The main fire ... may have also been on the ridge to the West of the [C]orner [H]ouse." (emphasis added)
"(6/26/90 1345) At about 1345 to 1400 ... The main fire on the ridge to the North of them, was still actively burning about midslope with smoke billowing in a Northwest direction. It appeared to be a little closer to the dozer line at his location but of no immediate threat. ..." (emphasis added)
Figure 59. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 37 ) Source: Schoeffler
(6/26/90 1345) TERRA FALSELY CLAIMS HE TOOK CREWMEMBER FRED HILL DOWN TO THE CONTROL ROAD TO GET WATER (ABOUT 1345) LEFT ASST. CREW BOSS BACHMAN IN CHARGE WITH CREP LATOUR - HE HAD THE HANDHELD RADIO IN HIS TRUCK WHEN I (DF) STOPPED AND TALKED WITH HIM AT THE FULLER CREEK AND CONTROL ROAD JUNCTION STATING TWICE:"I SHOULD HAVE NEVER LEFT MY CREW."
An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies. Proverbs 12:17
Figure 60. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 38 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 61. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 39 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 62. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 40 ) Source: Schoeffler
"(6/26/90 1400) ... At the time of the blowup ... wind totally dominated the fire environment. The fire spread approx. 1.5 miles during the first half hour of the strong wind event. The fire crossed Walk Moore Canyon at this time, flashing from the West side to the East side of the Canyon, followed immediately by burning of the surface fuels. ... [Andrews] underlying report and photos show set of needles ["Needle Set"] indicating wind driven fire approached [the] crew from [W]est to [E]ast, while some leaves contra [Latin term for “against” or “opposite to” or “contrary to"] in ladder fuels down in the canyon indicating turbulence or direction change. Her report notes spread rate of flash fire across canyon much greater than hour-long rate." (emphasis added)
As a visual analogue, what follows in Figure 62a. (below) is a photo of a rolling HRV wave of smoke filling a canyon on the Las Conchas Fire (2012) with intense HRV cross-canyon flash fire behind it that would have been similar to what occurred on June 26, 1990. This was described by Andrews and shown in Figure 62b. (below) and what very likely occurred in Walk Moore Canyon on the afternoon of the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire.
Figure 62a.(left) A wave of billowing smoke
Figure 62b. Idealized image of wildfire HRV. Source: Finney et al (2015) Role of buoyant flame dynamics in wildfire spread. PNAS
Figure 63. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 41 ) Source: Schoeffler
"(6/26/90 1400) At about 1400 winds were calm, the fire was backing down toward Walkmoore [Canyon ] 200 to 300 yards from Perryville. Flathead and Zig Zag [HS] were conducting the burnout down into Walkmoore [Canyon]." (emphasis added)
Figure 64. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 42 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 65. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 43 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 66. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 44 ) Source: Schoeffler
This next page contains the 1400 and 1415 "total absence of winds, a calm was noted in Walk Moore Canyon ..." (emphasis added) and gust front and downbursts and downslope winds excerpts.
Figure 67. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 45) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 68. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 46) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 69. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 47) Source: Schoeffler
"(6-30-90 1415) [OPS] Cooke says the fire was 200 to 300 yards from the line near Perryville burning downslope in light winds presenting no apparent problem for the burnout and no indication of a run like the one which occurred."
Figure 70. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 48) Source: Schoeffler
Consider now the LaTour peculiar comments and narrative regarding him as the alleged Perryville "Lookout" in page 48 (Figure 70. - above) and page 49 (Figure 71. - below). "(6-30-90 1415) LaTour had gone up the hill ... to look for spots. He would walk around to get a better view, where foliage interfered, never getting more than 100 to 200 yards from the crew."
An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies. Proverbs 14:5
Interesting - we say slightly disingenuous - statements here within the Dude Fire Chronology (6/26/90 1415) from LaTour (Deposition pages 55, 59-60, 71-73, 77-78, 88-93, 98-99, 101, 168, and 203) regarding the alleged Perryville Crew lookout(s) total numerous pages: "LaTour acted as a lookout, primarily for spot fires, and from time to time Terra, Bachman, Hatch, Denny were sent out to watch for spots, so that someone was doing so at all times. LaTour had gone up the hill while they were working on the powerline to look for spots. He would walk around to get a better view where foliage interfered, never getting more than 100 to 200 yards from the crew. He can't recall who, but someone was designated to watch for spots while he was above the crew when the blowup started. They used the more experienced people for lookouts. Where they were working when the fire blew up was no reasonable place to post a lookout who would have had a better view of the fire." (emphasis added)
The PACM minimally responded to this with: "I believe that's why Jeff Hatch was above me. He was up with a Navajo crew Lookout."
During the initial Dude Fire Staff Ride in 1999 - at the Deployment Site - I (DF) specifically asked who the Perryville Crew Lookout was. LaTour said 'It was me. I would hike up and down the hill during the day to check on the fire.' I told him that a designated Lookout was one who remained in place, not hiking up and down the hill.
Interesting statements here below too: "They [Overhead] found to their surprise that the [Bonita Creek] subdivision was surrounded by fire." (emphasis added) WTF do you mean, to their surprise! How are you surprised as the fire surrounds you?
Figure 71. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 49 ) Source: Schoeffler
"(6/30/90 1415) ... helicopter N-40MC ... carrying a sling load about 8000 feet [elevation] he experienced a downdraft and dropped several thousand feet at 3000 feet per minute. ... he flew the Rim several times ... and was jostled around by turbulence while dropping the load." (emphasis added)
"(6/30/90 1415) Helicopter N49673 made a [bucket] drop and filled his bucket on top of the Rim. During the 5 minutes he had left and returned the wind had shifted and was blowing smoke over the fireline. ... The smoke was about 50 feet above the treetops. There was a wall of flame between the treetops and smoke as far as he could see [in] either direction. ... The subdivision was no longer visible because of the smoke." (emphasis added)
Here we have documented evidence of the fire weather in the form of aggressive downdrafts at the 8000' level above the WFs on the firelines on the Dude Fire. Were these ever heard by or relayed to the WFs and FFs on the firelines below by these helicopter pilots or anyone else?
Figure 72. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 50 ) Source: Schoeffler
Consider the page 50 above Horizontal Roll Vortices (HRV) references - "An unburned strip of timber near the top of the ridge West of Walkmoore Canyon indicates that the Horizontal Roll Vortex might have occurred. However, no other indicators were found. ... Similar strips exist to the SE of the subdivision per [OPS] Leech and aerial photo. ... The needle set indicates the fire spread to the east, but in one location near the deployment site the needle set of the overstory was to the East while the leaves of the shorter trees and bushes pointed West." (emphasis added)
Since there are no known copies of Dude Fire HRV "Needle Set" photo images, due to USFS malfeasance, we had to resort to other sources to depict what we are referring to. We located some from the June 28, 2016, Cedar Fire in Figure 73a. and Figure 74a. below.
Additionally, these are some worthwhile Southwest and Tonto NF dates that should alert WFs and FFs: June 26, 1990 (Dude Fire) and June 28, 2016 (Cedar Fire) and June 30, 2013 (Yarnell Hill Fire).
Figure 72a. This sequence of six images, taken 0.75 seconds apart, looking down on a horizontal vortices within a fire. Source: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Inframetrics Thermacam, The COMET Program
Consider now these images and text below from The COMET Program S-290 Unit 11: Extreme Wildland Fire Behavior online course.
( http://stream1.cmatc.cn/pub/comet/FireWeather/S290Unit11ExtremeWildlandFireBehavior/comet/fire/s290/unit11/navmenu.php_tab_1_page_6.2.0.htm )
"The brightest yellow areas represent the hottest temperatures. FOD in each image refers to the 'Finger Of Death.' In frame 1, the arrow points to the starting point of the FOD in the upper right shoulder of the fire at the beginning time of 0.00 seconds. Frame 2 has arrow pointing to the FOD, which is beginning to form and burst forward at 0.75 seconds. The next image, frame 3, has the arrow showing that the FOD progresses further by 1.50 seconds. Frame 4 shows further elongation of the FOD at 2.25 seconds. By frame 5, the arrow shows that the FOD has extended to approximately 100 meters or 109 yards in just 3.00 seconds. Frame 6 shows the regression of the FOD to the main fire by 3.75 seconds."
"This sequence shows that a 'finger' of fire burst forward about 100 meters from the head of the fire at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour, and then retreated back into the fire within three seconds. Seven horizontal rolls and capping vortices are also identified in the third frame."
"Horizontal rolls within fires have been hypothesized as occurring with crown fires. However, actual documentation has been limited." (emphasis added)
"(6/26/90 1418) The fire behavior intensified rapidly and the fire began a major run towards the east and Bonita Creek Subdivision. Rates of spread were in excess of 200 chains per hour (13,200 feet per hour, 2.5 mph) with flame length of 300 feet observed by people at the scene. The fire continued with intense rapid spread in all directions. By 2100 it had spread 1.5 miles to the East and South, 2 miles Southwest and 1.75 miles Northwest. By 2100 the fire was 8-9 thousand acres." (emphasis added)
(6/26/90 1418 + 1149) Putnam determined a possible rate of spread of 18 mph at the deployment site based on time to run distances. Andrews calculated a predicted max spread rate of 5.2 mph with crown model at only 40 mph maximum sustained windspeed. Her report also recognizes the fire flashed across the canyon at a greater rate than this. A 60 mph wind would put the predicted spread rate above 9 mph which is [off] the chart. TV 12 video shows 11+ mph spread rate between [the] deployment site fire location at 1423 and [the] road into the subdivision at 1425.
Dr. Putnam goes into a lot of detail on run speeds and fire rates of spread. His analysis of the running Fitness Scores and times and the ability to outrun the rapid rates of spread is well worth reading.
"(6/26/9 1418) When Latour was a little over 100 yards above Perryville checking spots the wind became strong as it had not done before, and he ran back down to his crew." (emphasis added).
During the 1999 Fire Behavior Analyst Conference in Phoenix, the first Dude Fire Staff Ride, which was also the first USFS Staff Ride was initiated. I (DF) remember, at the Fatality Site, this series of remarkable statements by CREP LaTour: "The Perryville Crew Rep stated that the 'Navajo Scouts had run through their Crew telling them to get out, the fire was upon them.' Yet, they ignored that warning. Next, he stated that he had 'burning bark plates bouncing off my fire shirt' and ignored that too. Next, he stated that he had 'burning pine cones, sticks, and twigs bouncing off my fire shirt' and ignored that as well." And yet, they were still there, counting on the quasi-leader to do the right thing. And yet, he was ignoring it all!
Figure 73. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 51 ) Source: Schoeffler
Consider these HRV references on the Dude Fire Chronology page 50 (Figure 72. above) and page 52 (Figure 74. below) respectively that contain comments regarding the evidence of extreme HRV fire behavior that occurred in Walk Moore Canyon during the outflow, downdraft winds.
The following photos in Figures 73a. Snippet images of "Needle Set" when hot gases warp the vegetation. Note the roll effect of the HRV forcing the needles downward and laterally. These are Snippets from the Cedar Fire Entrapment (June 28, 2016 at 1615 hrs.) Video (link below).
Figure 73a. Snippet images of "Needle Set" when hot gases warp the vegetation. Note the roll effect of the HRV forcing the needles downward and laterally. These are Snippets from Cedar Fire Entrapment (June 28, 2016 at 1615 hrs.) Video. Source: Wildland Fire LLC, YouTube
Consider the source for the above "needle set" images in Figure 73a. above and below in Figure 74b. contained within the Cedar Fire Entrapment Investigation Briefing Video ( https://youtu.be/Yeprtvo2xsY ). The Wildland Fire LLC Cedar Fire Serious Accident Investigation Report is in the link below. ( https://www.wildfirelessons.net/orphans/viewincident?DocumentKey=46244496-12cf-4333-84f6-3b3084d06c34 )
Figure 74. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 52 ) Source: Schoeffler
This page 52 (Figure 74. above) contains comments regarding the extreme Horizontal Roll Vortices (HRV) fire behavior that occurred in Walk Moore Canyon during the outflow, downdraft winds.
Figure 74a. "Snippet images of "Needle Set" when hot gases warp the vegetation. Note the roll effect of the HRV forcing the needles downward and laterally. These are Snippets from Cedar Fire Entrapment (June 28, 2016 at 1615 hrs.) Video. Source: Wildland Fire LLC, YouTube
I (DF) allege that Perryville Crew Boss Terra is lying throughout all this and /or AUSA Johns (RiP) has allowed it. He knew that Terra was lying to him and just shrugged it off ("what can I do" he said).
"(6/26/90 1419) The wall of fire on the East was advancing faster than the front on the West. ... One of the crewmembers' shovels caught on fire as he ran under the wall of flame, and they had to pitch the burning shovel out of the back of the truck as they escaped."
"(6/26/90 1419) A scenario consistent with all the evidence to date is at 1419 [Navajo Scouts] Notah shouted his warning while LaTour was running down to his crew. LaTour could see the lower crewmembers were running out when LaTour arrived. LaTour said 'Let's go' and the upper crewmembers grabbed water and tools and walked fast for a few seconds and began running. They ran until [cut off], covering about a thousand feet at rough 6-7 mph. The fire approached diagonally (from the NW to SE) to the dozer line at 9+ mph to reach the same cutoff point. This puts the crew close to where Hoke deployed. The main deployment site was reached at about 1422.75 with the flame front having already [cut off] Hoke below and above him. LaTour reached Scopa on the radio, counted to eleven (he was counting crewmembers who were deploying), Scopa then reached [OPS] Cooke who recorded the deployment time at 1423. Those who escaped reached the Control Road at 1423 to 1425 covering 3500-4000 feet in 5-6 minutes at 6 to 9 mph, a pace of a 9 to 7 minute mile. This is consistent with Putnam's experience, downhill running with gear at 6.7 mph, and with 'Fitness and Work Capacity', a 45 scorer running 1 1/2 miles at 7.3 mph, unfatigued on a track without gear. (Putnam then goes into similar detail for Springfield and Bachman). They were both [cut off] with the rest of the crew. Fire spread rate could not have been much slower than 9 mph and was probably faster in some locations."
"The fire was only 250 to 300 yards from them but Notah saw the flame front still inside the fire atop the ridge."
"(6/30/90 1419) Edison Notah could see the fire backing down the ridge to the west of them along the saddle, and could see it torching as it came up the steep nose of the ridge further Northwest of them. Flame lengths along the ridge were low except for the torching in steep terrain on the nose to the north. The fire was a few hundred yards across the canyon from them. He stepped back from the work and walked around to get a better view of the fire to the North and to the West. As he was standing above the dozer line looking at the fire to the West along the saddle of the ridge he saw a rolling crown fire come up the back of the ridge and roll over and down the ridge where before there the ground [surface] fire had been backing down. He then began shouting for everyone to run." (emphasis added)
(6/30/90 1419) Terra falsely claims he "received 2nd degree burns on the back of his neck, along with upper airway thermal damage and smoke inhalation as he ran out." I (DF) confidently allege that Terra self-inflicted the burns on his neck and threatened the inmates regarding him and Hill going for water.
How is it possible for Crew Boss Terra to both be with his crew in Walk Moore Canyon during all this and yet be seen and talked with on the Control Road and the Fuller Creek junction and admit twice to witnesses on that spot: "I should have never left my crew." And the SAIT stated that they knew three days after the fatalities that he was gone from the crew. How is that f**king possible?
Figure 75 Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 53 ) Source: Schoeffler
What follows are two maps for the Perryville individual Crewmember's position, locations, movements (left), and the other indicating their scattered fire equipment and gear indicating panic and pandemonium (right) in Figure 75a. below.
Figure 75a. Perryville Crew WF locations image (left) and tools and equipment locations image (right) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 76. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 54 ) Source: Schoeffler
"(6-30-90 1419) The fire was increasing rapidly and running parallel on the slope adjacent to them as they ran, crowning the tops of the trees. Dennison and his Crew Boss. Some of the Perryville Crewmembers passed them on the way down. They reached the road and the fire swept over them to another ridge across the road. They got into [onto] some engines and left until they saw their bus and left with all thier (sic) crewmembers." ... There were high winds and burning debris was falling and he could no longer see the fire itself. They could hear the fire but not see it ..." (emphasis added)
Figure 77. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 55 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 78. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 56 ) Source: Schoeffler
(6/30/90 1419) "Guy Jirrels, Chandler Fire Department ... when the fire blew he was above Perryville Crew and Alpine. He could not see Perryville. A hot blast of air came up into his face and then shifted and he could feel it on the back of his neck. They then left up the line." (emphasis added)
Please note the number of LaTour interviews and depositions referenced in the AUSA Dude Fire Chronology at the bottom of page 56 in Figure 78.
Figure 79. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 57 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 80. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 58 ) Source: Schoeffler
I (DF) allege that DIVS Whitney, on one of the Dude Fire Staff Rides, falsely claims that he was a Branch Director on the Dude Fire instead of a DIVS.
I, Joy A. Collura, (fact check and verified) contacted Whitney by email June 17, 2020, and he replied at 8:39 PM when asked directly by email- "I'm not interested."
Figure 81. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 59 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 82. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 60 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 83. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 61 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 84. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 62 ) Source: Schoeffler
What follows during the (6/30/19 1422) timeframe in the next several pages are Prescott HS excerpts noticing the changing fire weather and the Perryville Crew fire shelter deployments and burnovers.
Figure 85. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 63 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 86. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 64 ) Source: Schoeffler
What follows are USFS employee (the one hauling the drinking water in Walk Moore Canyon by ATV) Hanna's excerpts regarding loading his ATV and the Navajo Scouts and Perryville Crewmembers alerting him and utilizing his trick as an Escape Route
Figure 87. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 65 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 88. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 66 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 89. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 67 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 90. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 68 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 91. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 69) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 92. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 70 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 93. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 71 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 94. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 72 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 95. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 73 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 97. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 74 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 98. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 75 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 99. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 76 ) Source: Schoeffler
"He [DIVS Whitney] was surprised to see the fire burning downslope at 1330."
Figure 100. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 77 ) Source: Schoeffler
Prescott HS Sciacca statement: "After the Prescott HS reached the [Control] road at about 1427, they were walking to the safety zone when there was a downblast of wind of 35 to 40 mph. This was the first strong wind they encountered." (emphasis added)
This is a noteworthy fire weather event setting the stage for the downslope winds to follow.
Figure 101. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 78 ) Source: Schoeffler
Consider now this statement from the Dude Fire Narrative: "At about 1430, ... the fire, fanned by thunderstorm winds, became active on all fronts with major runs in all directions. All other crews were pulled into safety areas. Engines in the vicinity of Bonita Creek Subdivision were burnt over with no injuries, but several engines received damage." (emphasis added)
Figure 102. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 79 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 103. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 80 ) Source: Schoeffler
During the Perryville Crew Hatch rescue and attempt to get him extracted, "[Alpine HS] Mattingly considered deploying shelters there [Corner House area] if the could not locate the crews and safety zone quickly." (emphasis added)
Figure 104. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 81 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 105: Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 82 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 106. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 83 ) Source: Schoeffler
DIVS Behrens "on the southwest side of the fire. A dozer and Hotshot crews were constructing liner toward Bonita Creek (East). It was dark and smoky above them, It became dead calm and rained a few drops and the fire began to run in all directions, cutting his division in half. He ordered his crews to pull out to the [C]ontrol Road and he attempted to notify overhead and other crews, but radio traffic had increased and it was very difficult to make contact. It took about 10 minutes to reach the Control Road. ... They were able to stay ahead of the blowup as they walked out to the Control Road." (emphasis added)
Figure 107. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 84 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 108. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 86 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 109. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 87 ) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 110. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 88) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 111. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) Dude Fire Chronology ( page 89) Source: Schoeffler
Figure 112. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) from USDA Acting Chief for F. Dale Robertson, dated Sept. 21, 1992, regarding potential USFS employees being subpoenaed to provide testimony in the Chacon v. State of Arizona court case Source: Schoeffler
"This action arises out of the deaths of Joseph L. Chacon, Alex S. Contreras, James Ellis, and Curtis Springfield, all of whom served as members of a firefighting detail composed of inmates from the Arizona State Prison at Perryville, Arizona. Pursuant to an interagency agreement, the Arizona Department of Corrections contracted with the Arizona State Land Department to provide a labor force to the Land Department to support its regular firefighting obligations; the Perryville State Prison firefighting detail was formed in partial satisfaction of this contract. The four men were killed while helping to fight a large fire in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona on June 26, 1990. The governor of Arizona granted each of the decedents a full and unconditional posthumous pardon on November 6, 1990."
It is of utmost concern and most disheartening that the AZ State Forestry failed to provide a full examination of the Dude Fire.
If you are a family, friend, or loved one of one of these inmates or DOC employee Sandra Bachman, and this is your first exposure to these revelations, I want to express my deepest condolences to you.
Figure 112a. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael A. Johns (RiP) signature page of letter above in Figure 112. Source: Schoeffler
"Survivors of inmate firefighters killed Dude blaze sue State" by Brent Whiting AZ Republic article dated December 21, 1990, requested by Tom Story on February 5, 1992. Unable to locate these articles online, including using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
In all my research and Public Records Requests, and AZ State Forestry stated to me by email that they had destroyed Scott Hunt's records. In this fax, this is the only time that Scott Hunt is identified with a job titled position as State Land Department District Forester.
"Inmates families file claims - Allege State Didn't Properly Train, Equip Prisoners to Fight Fire" by Mike McCloy Phoenix Gazette October 4, 1990
Figure 113. Proof of Story Request (x2) from October 4, 1990 and December 21, 1990, respectively, about the Perryville Inmate families filing wrongful injury and death lawsuits against the State of Arizona. Requests made by AZ Republic Tom Story Source: Record Files; Joy A Collura
Thursday, June 16, 2016
What follows are key excerpts of "The Big Lie - Honor the Fallen Essay Introduction." Unless noted otherwise, all emphasis is added. "What the [Honor the Fallen (HTF)] group seeks is best explained by one of its founders:" “'One of the few acts of free will that tragedy leaves within our control is the chance to grow. Our brothers have given us such a precious and hard won opportunity to learn new knowledge and apply lessons. We realize and seek to highlight that cultural and other human factors risks are just as profound and potentially deadly as physical risks on any incident." So true, however, we refuse to delve into the human factors and psychology in any detail at all now that the latest craze is with the newfangled Coordinated Response Protocol (which I call CRaP), RLAs, FLAs, and Learning Reviews - ad nauseum. "The results WILL be repeated unchecked unless we commit to looking inside, to looking deeper at how we think, how we talk and how we perceive ourselves." This follows the "incomplete" lessons learned that emanated from Sociologist Dianne Vaughan (Columbia and Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster) talked about elsewhere on this YHFR website. "Our end state is that the group’s efforts became a catalyst for continued cultural introspection into how human factors affect our decisions. The engagement generates a watershed event from the fire, having provoked thought, dialogue, questions and explorations in all corners of the wildland fire community. Yarnell Hill leads to a stronger, more self‐aware and more resilient wildland fire culture." These are definitely noble end state goals, however, other than interested individuals and groups, (i.e. Ranger Districts / Zones, modules, etc.) looking into human factors, and how it affects our decisions, there is certainly nothing in the alleged "cultural introspection" arena. And in Arizona, the alleged "provoked thought, dialogue, questions and explorations in all corners of the wildland fire community" is nonexistent, especially at the annual Arizona Wildland Fire Academy.
"Our effort was perceived as having rendered due honor and respect to the Granite Mountain Hotshots.'” (emphasis original) We would like to know - who were the ones that were allegedly "perceived as having rendered due honor and respect to the Granite Mountain Hotshots?" The seems as if a majority of the WFs and FFs feel that it's over and time to let it go and move on - "everybody knows what happened." Or as we recently heard from a National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) employee that most definitely drank the Kool-Aid when he stated - "it's been seven years." So ... what is that supposed to mean? At Staff Rides, Site visits, formal and informal conversations, presentations, discussions, etc. people are starving for information on the YH Fire debacle and the GMHS tragedy besides the bogus no blame, no fault, they and the IMT did everything right conclusion(s) and narratives in the SAIT-SAIR. This includes "we will never know" four times, and an idealized image of some alleged bogus fire behavior compared to a real photographic image with Google Earth overlay indicating GMHS locations, movements, decision points, etc. as shown in Figure 114 (below).
Figure 114. June 30, 2013, SAIT-SAIR Figure 18. (p. 77) idealized image (left) of YH Fire alleged split heads above and below GMHS. Lauber 1629 (4:29 PM) photo (right) with Google Earth overlays Source: SAIT-SAIR, Lauber, WTKTT, Google Earth
"HTF is ready for this essay to be shared. But as another one of our members put it so well:" “'…I can't help but feel that there is a conversation that needs to precede it. A conversation about our mission as suppression resources. Are we now in the business of intentionally risking lives to achieve wildland fire objectives? I ask because at least the [Agency] has never accepted that position before and maintains its stance on zero tolerance to this day. I understand that firefighters are going to die but there is a big difference between vehicle accidents and entrapments.'”
Here's a June 30, 2020, Twitter clip from the AZ State Forestry website regarding the seventh anniversary of the YH Fire debacle and the GMHS tragedy. "AZ State Forestry @azstateforestry: 7 years ago today, the wildland fire community lost 19 of their own. These men were more than firefighters; they were husbands, fathers, sons, & brothers. We will always remember these brave men - the Yarnell 19 - who gave their lives protecting our #Arizona #AZFire #AZForestry." (emphasis added) Excuse me - these men's lives were taken from them when supervisors failed to redeem their ultimate supervisory safety and welfare responsibilities. In other words, they NEVER gave their lives. This feculent Agency / Media news release drivel has got to stop!
"This essay takes the position that, by default, and for many reasons, risking lives to achieve wildland fire objectives is exactly what is happening. The debate on whether that is what should be happening is stifled by the denial that it’s happening right now." This is especially true with the latest trend in the USFS to pervert the alleged management and operations on "Resource Benefit Fires" with the 2019 Tonto NF (TNF) Woodbury Fire in and around the Superstition Mountain Wilderness area being a classic example. The USFS basically authorized the entire to be burned off by hand and aerial ignition after the TNF Forest Supervisor directed the Initial and Extended Attack forces and overhead - who had the fire contained at about 1,700 acres - to 'let it go' and that all aerial retardant orders would be cancelled. So then, those resources that had the fire contained were now exposed to additional, unnecessary risks. This also resulted in key sections of the Apache Trail being gutted and literally washed out during monsoonal rains. These sections will likely never be repaired due to the USFS trend toward Comrade Clinton's nefarious "Roadless Initiative" which is a deceptive means to an end to bypass Congress and create quasi Wilderness and / or Primitive Areas.
And as of the writing of this post we already experienced the same thing on the Bush Fire and may very well be able to include the less than 600 acres TNF Polles Fire in the Mazatzal Wilderness area as a Type 3 Fire transitioning to a Type I Fire.
Figure 115. Polles Fire (TNF - Mazatzal Wilderness Area) photo taken July 6, 2012, at 1619 (4:19 PM)revealing tons of retardant for Very Large Airtankers and virtually no smoke whatsoever. Source: Inciweb
Check this July 6, 2020, 1619 (4:19 PM) photo out very carefully. The USFS wants desperately to assign a Type 1 IMT, at over $1 million dollars per day, to this fire, that is at a whopping 572 acres of creeping and smoldering fire behavior, with virtually NO smoke showing. WTF! What f**king bulls**t! The Crews on the fire speak of heavy grass fuel loadings and typical PITA Junipers. "... Everyone knows it is unsustainable, everyone knows what is going to happen if nothing is done. Everyone knows it’s going to be really bad. Yet we demonstrate a complete lack of collective will to tackle the elephant in the room. Slight adjustments and tweaks are made that have almost no perceptible impact because they nibble around the edges of symptoms. The causes at the core remain unchallenged."
Those still posting on the YH Fire portions of InvestigativeMEDIA and our YHFR website address and challenge and tackle those issues that are addressed above on a regular basis. We accomplish this as Investigative Journalists and Truth Tellers with Constitutionally protected views expressed to "the public at large” and "of public concern."
"There were no illusions about the path we had chosen. From that moment on, death and injury were going to be a normal part of my life." In every work group, especially wildland firefighting or the military, fatalities are inevitable due to personnel making stupid decisions. All we can do is our best to confidently and courageously examine, investigate, research write, publish, present and discuss them in various forums.
"A state fire chief I greatly respect recently asked, 'Why are families so surprised or feel betrayed when their kids die fighting wildfires?'" It is an interesting question deserving of a defendable and justifiable answer. However, they wholly entrust their cherished family, friends, and loved ones to us as supervisors, fully expecting us to fulfill our almost sacred supervisory responsibilities to do our best to ensure the safety and welfare of those we supervise.
"I believe the answer to that is because of the Big Lie. The lie that wildland firefighting is safe. Young firefighters and their families are told that they have a "right" to a safe work environment. It is explicit in the Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation Operations "Every individual has the right to turn down unsafe assignments." (footnote omitted - emphasis added)
( NWCG, (2016) Interagency Standards for Fire & Aviation Operations, Chap. 07 Safety and Risk Management, 07‐14 ) I agree that the answer to that is because of the Big Lie. However, the "right" to a safe work environment and an actual "safe" work environment are mutually exclusive, (i.e. separate and very different from each other, so that it is impossible for them to exist or happen together).
We think this falls in line with the Federal OSHA "General Duty Clause" examined in the two Law Review articles below.
Stillman, N.G. (1987) Expansion of Occupational Safety and Health Law, 62 Notre Dame L. Rev. 969
Secunda, P.M. (2019) Hybrid Federalism and the Employee Right to Disconnect. Pepperdine Law Review, 46
"The lie is so insidious that it permeates the thinking of many fire managers and agency administrators to the point of denial, despite a steady flow of coffins standing as evidence to the contrary." For several years now, many Fire Managers and most Agency Administrators have very little wildland fire experience and therefore no wildland fire leadership skills.
"From 2000 through 2013, an average of 18.6 ground and aerial wildland firefighters died doing normal business on fires each year. In 12 of 14 years that number was well into double digits. In 2013, it was 34." It was solely because of the June 2013 YH Fire debacle and the GMHS tragedy.
"I am always challenged during discussions about risk during classes and presentations to wildland audiences. 'We're different than the military. We do not have acceptable losses.'" (footnote omitted) (Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (WFLLC) (2015) Two More Chains, Spring 2015 Vol. 5 Issue 1)
The wildland fire world does not have nor approve of acceptable losses. We do not engage on wildfires knowing that we will likely "lose" people in the process.
Arrubla, L.V.D. (2016) Normalization of Deviance: when non-compliance becomes the “new normal.” Living safely with human error. Human Factors in Aviation. ( https://livingsafelywithhumanerror.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/normalization-of-deviance/ )
"It appears you do," I respond. "It's almost 19 a year and for the most part the cultural fundamentals of trying to fight fire on the cheap with a seasonal militia based model are unchanged.” Once again, the wildland fire world does not have nor approve of acceptable losses. We do not engage on wildfires knowing that we will likely "lose" people in the process. And "fight[ing] fire on the cheap with a seasonal militia based model" is a Straw Man or Red Herring Fallacy because this "seasonal militia" still works for experienced and trained WF and FF supervisors.
"Is it surprising when a highway patrol officer is killed in an accident or shooting? Are we shocked when a structural firefighter is caught in a roof collapse? When a ship is lost at sea in a big storm? My Mom would have been distraught had I been killed, but she wouldn’t have been surprised."
There should be no surprises whatsoever, when anyone in any hazardous work group is killed in the line of duty. They are inevitable because they most often do stupid s**t or avoid following established rules and protocols. So then, all we can do is our best to reduce them.
"The truth is that wildland firefighting, like any realm in which people, machines and extreme natural forces collide, is inherently dangerous. One in which a seemingly small error, even being at the wrong time and place, can get people hurt or killed. How long do we try to "vector to zero" before admitting the data is telling us there is no such thing? Without a doubt, "wildland firefighting is inherently dangerous." So then, it's really fairly simple. Ignore the inaccurate data, become a Realist, and enlarge your views on the first-hand, matter-of-fact, empirical statistics. There is no such thing as zero fatalities in an inherently dangerous profession.
"Merriam Webster has a pretty simple definition of safe:"Free from harm or risk." (footnote omitted)
"It seems unrealistic one could be working on or above the fire ground and be free from risk. Here’s the interagency standards’ definition of safety: 'A measure of the degree of freedom from risk or conditions that can cause death, physical harm, or equipment or property damage.'" (footnote omitted) It is unrealistic. There will always be risk.
"The big lie turned from 'Free from risk" into "A measurement of the degree of freedom from risk". How does that measurement appear on a wildland 215A? Or discussion around "acceptable risk" in a WFDSS document or IAP? The point of origin of the Big Lie. If interagency policy defines safety as a measurement of something that never gets measured... how can that mean anything?" Because it is Orwellian Doublespeak (Called Newspeak in the book 1984, it is language that intentionally obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words). And even worse, and so endemic for so long now, it has now become Doublethink, where one is able to grasp on to two opposing thoughts as being true at the same time.
"If the definition of safety is meaningless, and in contravention of its true nature, so too will be all the policies, rules and checklists that flow from it. The garbage in, garbage out effect."
"Following progress down the left and right flanks of the Big Lie, the confusion magnifies. Platitudes like "the 10 and 18. We don't bend 'em, we don't break 'em", or "firefighter and public safety is your number one objective" – Actually, those are priorities not objectives. And ‐ they are two completely different priorities. Often you have to risk more with one in order to lessen the risk to the other."
"If real risk assessments ‐ using the two axis, probability/severity model ‐ were done in a tactics meeting on a typical wildland fire, here's what we'd find. That most firefighters are routinely operating in medium or high risk conditions."
"I often ask groups what they feel the risk level is on a typical fire assignment. The overwhelming majority say low, some say medium. This is shocking to me. There is nothing low risk about a 19 year old hotshot driving an ATV loaded with fuel mix down a mountain at dusk after being up and working for 12 hours. I would challenge anyone to do a proper risk assessment and get that below medium. A single engine air attack platform operating over a fire in severe turbulence is medium risk. I have done dozens of risk assessments for airborne operations and have never been able to get one of them under a risk level of high. This tells me every jumper is operating in high risk just to commute to work."
"Nearly 19 firefighters a year are dying because they are operating, even after mitigation, in an inherently high risk environment. Not because they are just violating rules in a low risk environment." We are just inferring here, but these almost have to be in the category of non-wildland fire burnovers, entrapments, and fatalities.
"I don’t believe the Big Lie is the normalization of this reality. The Big Lie is in denial of it. It stands in opposition to the wildland fire leadership values of duty, respect and integrity." (footnote omitted) (NWCG (2007) PMS 494‐2 Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, Preface)
"What actually gives me great hope is that, slowly, more and more leaders are abandoning the Big Lie in favor of the harsh truth that wildland firefighting is a very dangerous profession. The reality that people are going to get hurt and they are going to die." And this "harsh truth" is a good attitude to have and a good path to pursue.
"Many leaders have admitted to me in private that they know this. Yet they fear its admission is a license to ignore risks or abandon hard won safety standards. 'We can’t admit we have acceptable losses!'" Cowardly attitudes and behaviors from those alleged "leaders" that want to bury their heads in the sand rather than accept reality.
"A colleague, retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Eric Carlson, puts it best. “Oh no.” he says, “We accept the risk of losses. There are no acceptable losses.” ⁹ That’s the crux. Our loss of 550 special operators was not acceptable. Each loss compelled us to introspection and improvement. Just as that loss of 261 wildland firefighters has driven us to this discussion we’re having now." Wake up those of you in leadership positions and learn to '... accept the risk of losses. There are no acceptable losses.' That’s the crux.
"There is acceptable risk. There is no acceptable loss. But there will be losses. So where does that uncomfortable truth leave us?" Accept this and know that fatalities will occur due to a plethora of unexamined wildland fire fatality causal human factors and then do your level best to reduce those numbers.
"Simply, with the sacred duty to keep that loss as low as humanly possible. With the obligation to tell the truth to our firefighters and families about the world they’ve become a part of. Of the risks they will face. With making imperfect decisions using the best art and science possible. With redeeming the values of duty, respect and integrity."
We are in complete agreement here on the "sacred duty" principle, especially the part about keeping WF and FF losses "as low as humanly possible." And even better yet - for these Government Agencies to adopt and promote and take the novel step to set the example toward "the obligation to tell the truth to our firefighters and families about the world they’ve become a part of. Of the risks they will face. With making imperfect decisions using the best art and science possible." What a simple, novel attitude and notion, yet so difficult for those so entrenched and mired in the darkness of lies and deception.
"There are many aspects to that challenge of what needs to be overcome and how, but all start with foundational culture. What aspects of current culture can we attribute to the Big Lie?" The only reason these Agencies function safely, is because of the groundswell of action from the troops in the field at the local levels on the Engines, Crews, Modules, etc.
"The Big Lie fails to acknowledge that it is impossible to 'obey' the 10 standard firefighting orders to the letter on the best day. Do you truly know where your firefighters are at all times? Do you really have communications at all times? Therefore on the worst day, when a bad outcome occurs, you have automatically violated these yes or no 'rules' and are therefore guilty. This is a lawyer’s dream."
Since when is it - or has it ever been - a crime to fail to obey the Ten Standard Fire Orders? There used to be - back in the day - in the USFS Personnel Manual policy direction for those indiscretions.
"Senior leaders have begun to address this by calling the 10 & 18 guidelines and not policy, but these steps have been tentative and only partially implemented."
The Ten Standard Fire Orders are rules and the 18 Watch Outs are guidelines. The reason that they are "tentative and only partially implemented" is due to poor leadership, including the young leaders "friendship" practice and the double standards for management themselves.
"The Big Lie has begot a zero defect mentality whose main goal is not making any mistakes. Transparency and learning have become subordinate to covering one’s rear end, resulting in chronic under-reporting of near misses and other important lessons for fear of reprisal. We make culture. It is the result of choices, either conscious or unconscious."
It is nearly impossible to avoid making mistakes. The USFS talks of endorsing the principles of High Reliability Organizations (HRO) and yet, they continue to refuse to comply with the Five HRO Principles, which include discussing in detail, near misses.
"As the developers of the first Fireline Leadership (L‐380), Incident Leadership (L‐381) and now Advanced Leadership for the C&GS (L‐481) programs, my colleagues and I have spent decades looking deeply into the timeless lessons from humans’ experience in chaos in order to figure out what works and why." And thankfully, you have done that. We would still be waiting if we had to count on the USFS to do it. And it's management that needs those course and instruction much more than the WFs and FFs at the tip of the spear.
"Culture has to start with expectations. Many in wildland fire are asking – 'How much risk is acceptable in fire suppression?' Does engagement with fire always mean fighting the fire?"
"That answer starts with defining the mission and the environment in which it must be conducted [Government] organizations seek to achieve certain politically articulated goals. (footnote omitted) (Boin, Hart, Stern & Sundelius (2010) The Politics of Crisis Management) Those define the expectations of the American people, elected officials, senior leadership, and our leaders."
"Taxes are paid with an expectation of protection from human caused and natural disasters. While no reasonable person expects a firefighter to die or suffer serious injury protecting their property, they do expect [WFs, FFs] to put themselves in harm’s way in an attempt to minimize damage."
That may be the case, and it is especially apparent in busy wildfire years. However, we can and must refuse to succumb to the public's expectations if it would put our WFs and FFs "in harm's way" in compromising unsafe environments.
"In the current perimeter control paradigm, that means placing teams of people and equipment, all subject to the forces of Murphy’s Law ¹¹ into a chaotic environment fraught with friction, danger and uncertainty. Even the best model of probability and severity cannot diagram the exponential risk curve when multiple hazards and human factors begin compounding. Especially when the environment has the potential to change far more quickly than we can detect and react."
Using the Fire Orders and the Watch Out Situations and LCES - even in an alleged "chaotic environment" - is the safe and effective, tried-and-trued method of wildland firefighting that works every time.
"Because 26 or 18.6, or whatever the number may be, will never be zero, the objective cannot be a number. The objective must be a culture whose leaders have the critical thinking and risk decision tools worthy of people getting a very dangerous job done with limited means to do it."
"An over‐reliance on rules and centralized control is a far less effective approach to guiding human action in chaotic conditions. Its rigid inflexibility only adds to friction and uncertainty. Compliance models work well for managing money, vehicles and equipment. Not well for governing human behavior. 'Success as a resilient organization is built on a strong organizational culture and adaptive capacity.'” (footnote omitted)
Competent, experienced WFs and FFs are in agreement with relying on rules and avoid over-reliance as claimed here. This is the Straw Man Fallacy with a twist of the Fallacy of Equivocation (alternating between different meanings of a word or phrase, in a way that renders the argument that contains them unsound).
"Operational cultures that align to principles versus rules, conduct training and practice to communicate intent and support the use of professional judgment are much more agile and effective. 'The secret of their success lies in three characteristics: safety awareness, decentralization, and training' (Footnote omitted) These are safer than compliance based cultures because their operators are armed with the information, understanding, training and freedom required to make continuous risk decisions at their level."
You can still easily and effectively both "align to principles" and follow WF "rules" (the "10 & 18" and LCES) that work and keep them alive.
"For an organization to reach the difficult, but critical balance of safety, efficiency and effectiveness in a high risk environment requires a culture that places great value on team result, trust, truth, initiative, improvement and decisions aligned to the end state trying to be achieved."
We fully agree that "... it requires a culture that places great value on team result, trust, truth, initiative, improvement and decisions aligned to the end state trying to be achieved." However, they somehow seem to always drop off the most important "truth" portion.
"Once the desired culture is defined, budgets, programs, strategies and tactics, decisions and behavior can be aligned to it. Researchers can measure progress."
"When the inevitable occurs, liability investigations can be quickly screened for willful violation or gross negligence. Everything else can be defended using professional judgment and the reasonable person principle. Maximum learning can be gleaned from near misses, accidents and other flawed decisions."
This fully supports the fact that wildland fire fatalities and such are inevitable and all we can do is our best to help reduce them. And it supports our views on the less than credible and alleged "Factual" SAIT-SAIRs that result from them blocking any chance of learning "complete" lessons from them.
"The road to a culture that can walk that kind of talk is extremely difficult to achieve and maintain. There will be ups and downs and setbacks. But until the Big Lie is defeated for good, we’ll never get there."
"The truth is a worthy anchor point to begin to honor both the living and the fallen."
Outfugginstanding statement there. Too bad the USFS has failed at every turn to follow this sage counsel. See the Doublespeak and Doublethink excerpts above and elsewhere on this website. ( https://www.wildfirelessons.net/HigherLogic/System/DownloadDocumentFile.ashx?DocumentFileKey=d4ffe793-d529-f9a4-3205-2f093cab637c&forceDialog=0 )
Consider now some of the excerpts from the Fall 2016 "The Big Lie" which is apparently a sequel to the one titled “Honor the Fallen – The Big Lie.” But first, some thought provoking commentary from the Wildland Fire LLC (WLFLLC) folks that posted it on their website:
"Reactions to the essay have been uniformly one thing: Polarizing. ... Indeed it is. And in this particular case, polarizing is a very good thing.
"The way we see it here at the Lessons Learned Center, 'The Big Lie' has now provided all of us a common reference point from which to rally. It has become a catalyst for dialogue at a national level ..."
"We want thoughtful discourse as a path forward. We want to talk about 'The Big Lie.'” (all emphasis above and below is added)
As Mission Centered Solutions (MCS) Mark Smith points out in his “The Big Lie” essay, "... reflects two years of dialogue within a group known as 'Honor the Fallen' that was born in the wake of the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire and loss of the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots."
We posted here on this website (September on this "Honor the Fallen" group of approximately 30 "seekers" and analyzed their comments. We too are "seekers" - Truth Seekers. They claim: "The participants spent the day walking the ground and discussing the challenges facing the wildland fire service as a whole." (emphasis added)
"At the time “The Big Lie” was released and distributed last spring, Honor the Fallen included approximately 30 “seekers” within the wildland fire community, Mark informs. He says this group includes: hosedraggers, fire directors, dirt diggers, academics, ‘ollies,’ agency administrators, ICs, and FMOs."
That is quite a cross section of WFs, however, unfortunately, these so-called "seekers" were highly intent on discounting the known and ignored GMHS hazardous actions and attitudes that led to the fatal outcome on June 30, 2013. Their "Honor the Fallen" video is intent on discrediting all types of everyday wildland fire experiences that WFs have been safely and successfully managing for many years without burnover, shelter deployments, and fatalities. The worst one though, in our view, is the Program Director of the USFS Apprenticeship Program totally disregarding the Ten Standard Fire Orders and the need for "luck decision conversations" instead. Honor the Fallen ( https://youtu.be/TE6Rfa3Vuo0 )
Program Director Cota stated: (based on written transcriptions from the video, so some error may be present) "And the truth is we try and put these into these little boxes in these rules (sic) and the 10 and 18 that cannot, they're not gonna keep us safe; that's been proven time and time again. We can't follow our own rule, (sic) you know whatever they are. This environment, it's way too complex. We're really lucky, we do a good job at it. And I think that to that was luck, the, the whole luck decision conversation. Like ah, how often is it luck, ten minutes, five minutes earlier in a departure ..."
Please bear in mind that this is the National Program Manager of the USFS Apprenticeship Program that allegedly teaches (indoctrinates) the hundreds of new, up-and-coming USFS employees into believing this drivel and feculence. He required instructors that wanted to discuss and examine the YH Fire and GMHS debacle to first retain Regional and Washington-level preapproval of their lesson plan(s). Others were threatened they would be removed from the Academy. Is Orwellian pre-approved speech is Freedom of Speech?
The remarks underneath their HTF video state: "This video was captured on site of the Yarnell Hill Fire in January 2014. The participants spent the day walking the ground and discussing the challenges facing the wildland fire service as a whole." (emphasis added) Sounds pretty good doesn't it? Once again, we maintain that these folks in the so-called "diverse cross section" are selectively, selfishly and possibly even directed by the Federal Wildland Fire Agencies to postulate these views. In other words, these are NOT those "challenges facing the wildland fire service as a whole" as they claim.
"Mark explains that to call this assemblage of folks 'a diverse cross section' would be an understatement. As Mark tells us at the beginning of his essay, 'The Big Lie' benefits from their critical eyes and input." Say what? What "critical eyes and input?" See the above. They are selectively, selfishly and possibly even directed by the Federal Wildland Fire Agencies to postulate those views.
"A lot of people are choosing not to see the truth. I’ve received feedback that large numbers of people agree with the essay, and yet these same people are afraid to talk about it. Why should it be so hard to talk about this subject? That alone warrants some introspection." Amazing insight! These are all very astounding observations and discernment. And all true. And in Arizona, this is especially true at the annual Arizona Wildland Fire Academy where the Academy IMT is basically the June 2013 YH Fire Type 3 IMT, and so it is openly discouraged. And there is almost no public classroom discussion about the YH Fire debacle or the GMHS tragedy. You have to do it discreetly or covertly on breaks, at lunchtime, or at your home or lodging after hours, lest you draw the ire of the Go Along to Get Along and Don't Rock the Boat crowd. There are also those that would betray you and turn Quisling in order to curry favor with them that want to lord it over you. And lest we forget, there is the Tolerance versus Intolerance dichotomy. This insidious contrast that requires one to agree with everything "they" say or believe, i.e. tolerant, for fear that you may be branded as intolerant, i.e. disagree with anything "they" say or believe.
Figure 116. Chuck Connors - Branded movie Snippet Source: Sports Illustrated, TMG Sports