Were Wildland Fire Fatality Staff Rides, based on revisiting Military Battlefields, designed to be 2
Were Wildland Fire Fatality Staff Rides, based on revisiting Military Battlefields, designed to be a unique method to convey the "complete" wildland fire lessons learned of the past to the present day Wildland Fire Leaders? ( Part One ) - 2
2019-06-29 | Arizona Desert Walker Joy A. Collura and contributing other(s)
Views expressed to "the public at large” and "of public concern"
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Wildland Fire Safety Strategy Meeting Gettysburg, Pennsylvania/ Emmitsburg, Maryland May 2-7, 2016 June 2016 ( http://www.everyonegoeshome.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/06/WildlandPaper-FINAL.pdf )
"Very importantly, there seems to be a rising sense among wildland operators and within the leadership of the NFFF that the current fatality rate for wildland responders is unacceptable.
”We took unnecessary risk, which was bad war, and the only bad war, I think, too, in all our tactics.” Page 228, Fighting for the Confederacy by Porter Alexander, CSA, in reference to the Battle of Gettysburg."
There are some really good RISK MANAGEMENT DISCUSSION POINTS on this website that you may want to consider.
A haunting anniversary in Yarnell Hill approaches. What have we learned? NFPA Blog Post created by michelesteinberg on May 30, 2018 ( https://community.nfpa.org/community/fire-break/blog/2018/05/30/a-haunting-anniversary-in-yarnell-hill-what-have-we-learned )
"Jeff Whitney, the current Arizona State Forester and State Fire Marshal, impresses me as someone who won't allow the important history of this disaster to be hidden away - that facing it helps all of us learn. NFPA
"Frustration but also resignation with the fact that there are things that we will never know about what actually happened and why certain decisions were made. The leaders repeated to us that they don't know why the crew "left the black" - the safe area where they spent hours that day. I wish I had left that event with more answers. I'm sure many people feel that way. Reviewing the staff ride booklet, I realize that the experience is meant to raise questions, and not necessarily provide answers. I can only hope that those who participate in this and other staff rides ask themselves the hard questions and find ways to prevent future tragedies in the line of duty.
"Take a look at the announcement from the NWCG. There, you will find information about the handful of commemoration events in both Arizona and Colorado, (My colleague, Cathy Prudhomme, also wrote a blog post last Friday about some of these events around the Yarnell Hill Fire. Check out her blog to learn more about what will be happening in Arizona.)
The announcement also provides a number of resources that, according to the NWCG, “will facilitate reflection on, and discussion of, the South Canyon and Yarnell Hill fires as well as some of the hazards that pose the most serious risks to wildland firefighters.”
( https://community.nfpa.org/community/fire-break/blog/2014/06/30/a-week-to-remember-wildfire-community-marks-anniversaries-of-historic-fires )
This blog and all related to the Yarnell Hill Fire is a dead end so far. "Oops, the page can't be found Sorry, the page you requested can't be found. You can go back and try again. (Jun 28)." I sent her an email asking her for what she has.
Source: USFWS Fire Management post. "Refuge Fire Manager a Leading Interagency Trainer - November 2008" ( https://www.fws.gov/fire/news/nm/trainer.shtml )
"To learn from the successes and failures of the past, in particular events which were of national significance to fire policy, and often included firefighter fatalities, the group sponsors “staff rides,” modeled after a military training technique utilized to review past battles. (all emphasis added)
"Wilcox, Fire Management Officer at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, has been involved in the development of multiple staff rides. He and his counterparts from other agencies choose well documented incidents which allow other firefighters to walk in the foot steps of decision makers and gain an in depth understanding of what led to the ultimate outcome. (all emphasis added)
"During a staff ride, participants conduct a preliminary study of an incident, visit the actual site to gain a perspective of the situation that occurred, and then integrate the lessons learned into current operations. When possible, fire managers who worked on the actual incident are present to share the information they had and thinking process at the time that led to specific decisions. Staff rides have been developed and conducted for such well-known fires as Mann Gulch (Montana, 1949), South Canyon (Colorado, 1994), and Cerro Grande (New Mexico, 2000). The integration phase encourages participants to reflect upon those lessons which can be applied to ensure mistakes on these incidents are not made again. (all emphasis added)
"Recently, Wilcox, along with five other FWS fire personnel from the Southwest Region, and a U.S. Forest Service firefighter and a firefighter from Sedona Fire Department led two groups through a staff ride of the Dude Fire (Arizona, 1990), which killed six firefighters. Participants included Bureau of Indian Affairs employees from the Western Region and the U.S. Forest Service Risk Management Council."
Wilcox has made a valid point here: "When possible, fire managers who worked on the actual incident are present to share the information they had and thinking process at the time that led to specific decisions." However, BRHS Supt. Frisby was considered "a distraction" on one of the YH Fire Staff Rides he attended based on comments made during an After Action Review (AAR) or evaluation form.
There is also the fact that there still are two Eyewitness Hikers that were on the Weavers that weekend June 28-30, 2013, who offered to help develop and participate in the YH Fire Staff Ride and have been declined and denied even to be able to attend one of their staff rides and was told nowadays they do it all through a NWCG / Lessons Learned and their committee for a nomination process. Yet I was able to get on the Little Venus Staff Ride this year without any nomination process or hassles.
Source: ( https://www.frames.gov/catalog/15805 )
South Canyon Staff Ride online ( https://www.southcanyonfire.com/south-canyon-staff-ride )
Staff rides push past the basic question of “What happened?” to deeper questions of leadership and decision making. Each year, firefighters and managers participate in a staff ride for the South Canyon Fire. The materials for this staff ride are presented online here, and provide a great deal of information about the South Canyon Fire.
NASF Wildland Fire Committee chairman Jim Karels June 14, 2019 ( https://www.stateforesters.org/2019/06/14/nasf-wildland-fire-committee-meets-in-rural-washington-state/ )
The NASF Wildland Fire Committee, chaired by Florida State Forester Jim Karels and staffed by NASF Fire Director Dan Smith, met May 29-30, 2019 in Winthrop, Washington, to discuss pressing national wildfire concerns including cooperative fire agreements, interstate forest fire compacts liability legislation, the concept of shared stewardship, funding for the State Fire Assistance and Volunteer Fire Assistance programs, and implementation of wildland fire technology. (all emphasis added)
Special meeting guests included Shawna Legarza, director of fire and aviation for the USDA Forest Service, Rich Elliott, member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Wildland Fire Policy Committee, and Jeff Rupert, director of wildland fire for the Department of Interior. Representatives from FEMA also provided meeting goers with updates on the development of FEMA Supplemental Response Teams and information on how state forestry agencies can support that effort and participate in FEMA’s wildfire mitigation grant program. (all emphasis added)
The meeting closed with a half-day field tour led by the Washington Department of Natural Resources and Washington State Forester George Geissler. Attendees visited the Thirtymile Fire (2001) and the Twisp River Fire (2015) sites and heard from several first responders who provided initial response on the fires. Today, first responders promote lessons learned through staff rides at both sites.
(all emphasis added)
Have questions? Contact Communications Director Whitney Forman-Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wildfire Expert Alleges Arizona Forestry Division Covering Up Yarnell Hill Tragedy
John Dougherty | April 5, 2016
"I think the staff ride is an insult to all of [the Hotshots'] loved ones because [materials associated with it don't tell] the truth," said Ted Putnam, a retired wildfire fatality investigator and Chino Valley resident who has conducted an unofficial probe of the Yarnell Hill Fire. "The biggest tribute we should do for these firefighters is to tell the truth." Putnam was provided a copy of the facilitator guide to be used during the staff ride by New Times, which obtained it from the state Forestry Division through an Arizona Public Records Law request. Putnam contended he has direct information from multiple firefighter sources who were at the fire in conjunction with evidence contained in investigation reports that leave no doubt that the state Forestry Division ordered the Granite Mountain Hotshots to come off the mountain and go to Yarnell. “I've been in this business longer and know more about this than anybody out there, and this all this screams at me they were ordered off the top [of the mountain],” Putnam said. Putnam, a former "smoke jumper," served as an investigator on high-profile fatal wildfires including the 1990 Dude Fire in Arizona and the 1994 South Canyon Fire in Colorado. Putnam is considered a leading expert in wild-land fire entrapment and has been cited as a pioneer in advancing scientific knowledge on the subject. He gained notoriety when he refused to sign the official accident investigation report for the South Canyon Fire, where 14 hotshots and smoke jumpers were killed, because he believed the report was untrue." (all emphasis added)
Putnam said the [SAIT-SAIR] report's conclusion defies logic. He does not believe that Granite Mountain Hotshots Superintendent Eric Marsh would have ordered his men to leave their safe zone unless he was pressured by superiors to get the crew to the town of Yarnell. At the time the crew moved off the mountain, the fire was sweeping into Yarnell, forcing many residents to evacuate. “Marsh's action makes no sense at all unless he was ordered off the top,” Putnam said. (all emphasis added)
He said he cannot reveal his sources because they provided the information under the promise of confidentiality. But he says he will provide complete details in a formal setting under oath. It sounds like it's about time to sue some of these YH Fire IMT and WF and FF personnel and YH Fire SAIT members into Federal Court to get Dr. Putnam to reveal his promised confidential information.
The Human Element: Revisiting the Lessons of the Esperanza Fire
The decision to engage in structure protection or interior fire operations needs to be based on available facts, not emotion.
Timothy E. Sendelbach
October 19, 2015
What follows are a series of photos from June 30, 2013, in more or less, chronological order. Many times are approximated, (i.e. mid- to late morning, etc.)
Figure 2. Fire on Parcel APN: 800-20-045U/ 800-20-047S Arizona State Land. Peeples Valley area Fire Behavior on June 30, 2013 appx. 9:14am, after we, 2 hikers, left the GMHS Div A/Mystery Man on top of the Weavers - Old Grader site in lower right black oval. Source: Joy A. Collura
At this point the Granite Mountain Hotshots (GMHS) already passed us in Figure 1. but the next photo is one of the photos ( Figure 3. ) of the GMHS hiking up the 2-Track Ridge on June 30, 2013, a few minutes before the "timestamped" passing of the Yarnell Hill Fire ( YH Fire ) eyewitness at 9:18 AM.
We originally saw the GMHS hiking out past the "Old Grader" area except GMHS (Div A) Eric Shane Marsh was separate and away from the men; and by using Google Earth ruler I measured the distance of approx. 1.06 miles that DIV A was separate from the Crew scouting and tying pink tape to bushes (i.e. Wildland Terminology- flagging) that morning until his crew met Div A on the Weaver Mountain 2-track ridge "lunch spot" area.
The very first sighting the Hikers saw Div A was at GPS coordinates 34°13'34.55"N 112°46'59.46"W in a drainage near a boulder, which I reported to Holly Neill on our November 2013 hike. This drainage, if followed, goes right to the Sesame area as well to the Pumpkin - Boulder Springs Ranch (BSR) and that was at 8:04 AM. And within five minutes DIV A walked up to us the Hikers by 8:09 AM. That was right when you begin to hike up the 2 track ridge from the base - quarter way up.
Figure 2. Granite Mountain Hotshots hiking cross-slope, cross country through the brush (bottom right) up toward their eventual Lunch Spot in the Weaver Mountains on June 30, 2013, approx. 0915 hours (9:15 AM). The 2-Track Ridge road is in the left background. Source: Joy A. Collura
On every wildland fire anniversary, usually in the NWCG “6-Minutes For Safety” postings, this admonition is published: “This Day in History is a brief summary of a powerful learning opportunity and is not intended to second guess or be judgmental of decisions and actions. Put yourself in the following situation as if you do not know what the outcome will be. What are the conditions? What are you thinking? What are YOU doing?” (emphasis added) (https://www.nwcg.gov/committees/6-Minutes-for-safety) So then, why is it that we are not allowed to benefit from such a powerful learning opportunity when we are forbidden to "second guess or be judgmental of decisions and actions" that were very likely causal factors responsible for their deaths?
This clearly follows the 2002 Saddlebrook Fatality Learning Review "decisions and actions" logic and thought process by alleged "Lead YH Fire Investigator" Brad Mayhew particularized in this post:
Figure 3. Snippet of three GMHS in the brush with red hardhat on left and outstretched arm on the right at 10:36am. NIKON D80 photos. _6696.JPG Source: Filename "Deertrack Drive" photo collection of local anonymous resident.
Figure 3 and Figure 4 are proof that we need everyone's photos and videos so we can pixel through to properly time stamp when the GMHS were up on the Weavers and where the vehicles were on June 30, 2013. There were others that took picture(s) of the men
That 'private/unlisted' video link of three GMHS firing out in the brush is as follows:
Figure 4. Video of three GMHS in the brush on June 30, 2013, at 10:36am. NIKON D80 photos. _6696.JPG Source: YOUTUBE (WTKTT) - Filename "Deertrack Drive" photo collection of local anonymous resident.
As it turns out, one of the photos from that "Deertrack Drive" collection (from which the video above originated) contains a photo which actually SHOWS three of the Granite Mountain Hotshots ( including, apparently, Jesse Steed with his RED helmet ) on the two track ridge in same area the Yarnell Hill Fire Eyewitness took the photos of the men when we were up on that 2-track ridge on June 30, 2013, as shown in the photo below in Figure 5.
Figure 5. June 30, 2013, mid- to late-morning photo of the Granite Mountain Hotshots "at ease" and not at work contrary to what was reported by the Daily Courier. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 6. June 30, 2013, mid- to late-morning photo of the Granite Mountain Hotshots "at ease" and not at work contrary to what was reported by the Daily Courier. Some with sleeves rolled up with nearby fire behavior to the right. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 7. June 30, 2013, mid- to late-morning photo of the Granite Mountain Hotshots "at ease" and not at work contrary to what was reported by the Daily Courier Source: Joy A. Collura
These men during this phase of the fire in this photo were NOT engaged in doing "work" or creating a fire break. That ridge has been like it is shown since the late 1960's. I watched the one hotshot use his Wildland tool to "toss rocks".
The Daily Courier did not report my photograph accurately, especially on the photo above, as they wrote the men were doing work. It has since been removed and you can go to Wildfire Today link to confirm:
Figure 8. Snippet of Wildfire Today article (July 21, 2013) (https://wildfiretoday.com/2013/07/21/hikers-photos-of-granite-mountain-19-before-the-tragedy/) Source: Wildfire Today
So then, if you are new to this blog or to InvestigativeMEDIA or the Yarnell Hill Fire and are just now learning about this, here are some quick recap photos to share that should be developed into the making of the Yarnell Hill Fire Staff Ride as viable "Information Sources."
Figure 9. Fuel, terrain, and fire behavior with a June 30th SEAT retardant drop (red) in the process of actually making a retardant drop in the brush on June 30th, 2013, approx late morning. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 10. Fuel, terrain, and fire behavior with a prior June 29th SEAT retardant drop (red) evident in the brush on June 30th, 2013, approx. mid- to late morning. GMHS barely visible in upper left corner of photo. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 11. Fuel, terrain, and fire behavior on June 30, 2013, approx. 9:00 AM. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 12. Fuel, terrain, and fire behavior we saw when we arrived in the area on June 30th, 2013, approx. 8:45 AM. This is in the area that AA Rory Collins used SEATS to extinguish the GMHS's burnout Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 13. Fuel, terrain, and fire behavior on June 30, 2013, approx. 8:45 AM. Mid-slope road evident diagonally in lower left. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 14. Fuel, terrain, and fire behavior on June 30, 2013, approx. 7:45 AM to 8:00 AM taken from drainage area where we first saw DIVS A that morning. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 15. Fuel, terrain, and fire behavior on June 30, 2013, approx. mid- to late morning. GMHS with black hardhat at black arrow in mid-lower left photo. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 16. Fuel, terrain, and fire behavior on June 30, 2013, morning time. Old Grader site mid-photo (black oval) and mid-slope road lower mid-photo (black arrow). Airborne retardant drop underneath down pointed arrows left photo Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 17. Fire Vehicles driving back and forth on the Sesame/Shrine Trail areas on June 30, 2013, approx. mid-morning Source: Joy A. Collura
I took this photo because Tex Gilligan saw all the aircraft hovering and some too low hovering and bulldozers making trails in dense brush areas with vehicles following the bulldozer (dozer). Gilligan told me that 'this fire is now being turned into a controlled burn and no human lives should be out here and we needed to get the hell out of there.'
Figure 18. BRHS Crew Carrier among the fire vehicles driving back and forth on the Sesame/Shrine Trail areas on June 30, 2013, approx. mid-morning. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 19. BRHS Crew Carrier among the fire vehicles driving back and forth on the Sesame/Shrine Trail areas on June 30, 2013, approx. mid-morning. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 20. Dozer building fireline (dozer line) along the Sesame/Shrine Trail areas on June 30, 2013, approx. mid-morning. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 21. Dozer building fireline, BRHS Supt. truck, and fire vehicle traveling back and forth on the Sesame/Shrine Trail areas on June 30, 2013, approx. mid-morning. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 22. Dozer constructing fireline and fire vehicles traveling back and forth on the Sesame/Shrine Trail areas on June 30, 2013, approx. mid-morning to late morning. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 23. Fuel, terrain, and fire behavior in the Harper Canyon area on June 30, 2013, approx. 1:00 PM with saddle just below and BSR below right. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 24. Fuel, terrain, and fire behavior along the Harper Canyon area on June 30, 2013, approx. 1:00 PM. Source: Joy A. Collura