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What Fatal Causal Factors Does PFD Willis Reveal - July 2013 GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference?

Restating the post title beyond the limited Wix title allowance: What Fatality and "Prescott Way" Causal Factors Does PFD Wildland BC Willis Reveal in the July 2013 GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference?


Authors Fred J. Schoeffler and other contributing authors

 

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


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Abbreviations used: Wildland Firefighters (WFs) - Firefighters (FFs), Serous Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) and Report (SAIR).

 

For if anyone thinks himself to be something,

when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Galatians 6:3 (NKJV)

 

"Are these statements, standing up to date as such uncontradicted, such that we ought to remain silent and close our eyes? ... Do we want to cover it up? Do we want to say there is nothing to it? ... There is nothing sought but the truth; there is no attempt in the resolution to bring out anything but what is a fact; and the result of such an investigation ought not to hurt anybody."

Senator Norris (Nebraska)


December 29, 1924, submitted Senate Resolution 286, Congressional Record January 20, 1924, pp. 1925-2126 [Proposed Investigation of Power Companies] directing the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the alleged Power Trust in the United States and its financial relationship with certain other public-utility companies and associations."

 

“If you do not engage in the illegal cover-up, you will be fired for insubordination.” and "The biggest mistake that you will make in life is believing that governments act in the public interest.”

and

"Knowledge is having a mental history of past events and wisdom is having the ability to relate those past events to the present and future."

Steven Magee (Truth Teller) BukRate

 

This is a fairly comprehensive post for all you Wildland Fire Human Factors and Wildland Fire Weather and Fire Behavior Nerds (and prospective Wildland Fire Nerds) that will examine the alleged wildland fire human factors that existed and allegedly contributed to the fatal GMHS event on the June 30, 2013, Yarnell Hill Fire. It is derived from the two July 24, 2013, Granite Mountain Hot Shot Deployment Zone News Conference videos in Figure 1a. and Figure 1b. below by Investigative Reporter and author John Dougherty (InvestigativeMEDIA) with Prescott FD (PFD) Wildland Battalion Chief Darrell Willis and numerous National Reporters. Subsequently, those videos were then transcribed the spoken words into a written PDF format using the Otter app below so that you can actually read what Willis and the various Reporters are talking about compared to the unreliable "CC - Closed Caption" hit-and-miss renditions in the two videos. Being able to actually read what is being said is most informative and enlightening giving you a new perspective on this watershed event and how it was imaginarily recounted by PFD Willis.


The Federal Wildland Fire Agencies have never lost an entire Hotshot Crew in its history. The USFS was close on a few earlier fires, e.g. Inaja (CA-1956), Loop (CA-1966), and South Canyon (CO-1994). So why did the Prescott Fire Department, under the State of Arizona auspices, lose 19/20 of its GMHS Crew in its fourth year of operation? For safety reasons the NWCG has had an ongoing mandatory recovery period for wildland fire personnel after 28 consecutive days of fighting fire, in place, for the last 25 years; brought about from the result of bad decisions. The GMHS was told they were ”unavailable” and so many of them did what most young WFs and FFs often do in that case. The Southwest Region Coordination Center initially refused to release the GMHS to the Yarnell Fire because they had just completed a 28-day tour. The night before many were out celebrating their much-appreciated mandatory rest period which resulted in a lack of mental clarity that would cost the lives of 19 individuals. Either the AZ Forestry or the PFD objected and sent an email to Supt. Eric Marsh, and he accepted the assignment. On June 30, 2013, the GMHS left a Safety Zone at the worst possible time to hike down into an unmistakable box canyon with preheated, unburned, extremely volatile chaparral fuels. This author alleges the Crew chose their least experienced and most hungover one to be the lookout from the prior night’s activities. There are drastically different philosophies and approaches to fighting an urban versus a wildland fire and a purely Wildland Fire Crew vs a Structural-Municipal Crew that engages in wildland fires. To exponentially compound the odds of this disaster, the PFD Wildland BC was their immediate supervisor and he fecklessly explains it. This paper details the contrasts between the two and the major causal factors virtually wiping out the entire Crew. Thus, it will be shown that a lack of mental clarity and poor decision-making areas literally contributed to their untimely, predictable and preventable deaths. Mark van Appen, a California FF and training officer wrote: “Aggressive fire companies do not make mistakes in the heat of battle - they make decisions” mainly summing it all up regarding the oft-debated, contentious Municipal / Wildland Fire Department dichotomy.

 

This is a story that needs to be told

And always remembered - truthfully

 

Figure 1. Snippet of Former Prescott Wildland Division Chief Darrell Willis, center, answers media questions on July 23, 2013, at the deployment site where the Granite Mountain Hotshots died on June 30, 2013. Source: John Dougherty (IM)


John Dougherty's two YouTube video titles below stated: "Granite Mountain Hotshot co-founder and Prescott Wildland Division Chief Darrell Willis answers media question[s] at the shelter deployment site where 19 members of his crew died on June 30, 2013."

 

This author used an Otter app for transcribing the two videos mentioned above and certifies that the resulting transcribed PDF of the two July 24, 2013, GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference Parts 1 and 2 are truthful and accurate to the best of his ability. Furthermore, the words that are posted are as accurate and factual as possible due to audio interpretations with minor spelling, punctuation, and grammar, etc. from our editing as noted below. There may be some excerpts out of chronological order. This author also took limited liberties by adding clarifying words and explanatory dialogue in order to clear up his numerous intentional obfuscations in bold black [brackets with italicized bold black text].


The transcribed Otter document was then saved in a PDF format after editing basic spelling, punctuation, and grammar while the overall content remained the same, (e.g. the author often retained the speakers as PFD Willis or Willis and as Reporter, even though there were several reporters) because they will be discerned when read or listened to in context. Select quotation marks (") will then be used to distinguish speaker comments or for clarification purposes. Furthermore - out of due respect - capitalizing, e.g. Crews, etc., and position titles; added hyphens in certain areas, i.e. "two-track" or "half-truth." You will also note many areas of redundancy or even stuttering, pausing, i.e. "this ... this" or "the ... the"; and sometimes new edits will become apparent each time it's read and noted in the Updates at the bottom of the post. "Summary Key Words" are provided as well from the Otter transcriptions and are listed below for both the July 2013 GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference Part One and Part Two.


Clarifications, comments, and critiques of statements made in the two videos will be addressed both in the main body of the transcribed PDF and in the Answer the post-title section near the bottom in order to maintain the flow of the PDF transcript and what PFD Wildland BC Darrell Willis stunningly reveals again and again. There will be several due to the controversial nature of this event. To be sure, Willis considered these men his "Adopted Sons." And so it's a permissible inference that he was likely in some form of shock. This author has a lot of empathy for the man, for the loss of his men. However, we should be compelled to question his wildland fire knowledge, skills, and abilities, especially those related to basic fuels, weather, topography, and fire behavior, his wildland fire leadership skills, his disingenuousness, and both his and the PFD Wildland Division safety attitudes. Speaking ill of the dead accusations abound with us Truth Tellers. On the contrary, we are honoring those men by exposing the truth and falsehoods that surround this debacle because Mr. Willis fails to do so.


In reality, this author boldly and confidently alleges that Mr. Willis knows for a fact that his GMHS fatally erred on June 30, 2013, and the SAIT and their Fairy Tale SAIR also deceived and intentionally misled those in the wildland firefighting realm and the general public to somehow justify what they did as accepted and normal in order to avoid the painful truth of the matter. The GMHS leadership disastrously misjudged the obvious weather factors and fire behavior indicators resulting in the deaths of these young men. The deceptively edited - two exactly 9.24 second - Crew Net videos had malevolent radio transmissions professionally removed from the GMHS Mackenzie video, overheard by the alleged GMHS “lookout” McDonough. Numerous others, including the original, undoctored USFS AFUE recordings were also heard and recorded, along with a few three-ring binders possessed by USFS employees containing these transcribed AFUE recordings. In addition, several June 30, 2013, YH Fire personnel have recordings of the GMHS Crew Net transmissions (i.e "discussing our options") on whether to leave or stay in the black. They include threats.


These two videos, and now the transcribed PDF of them are a must, especially for WF and FF supervisors, to better understand the alleged "Prescott Way" that the author and many others, including the general public, consider a causal factor in the fatal outcome. As an experienced WF or FF, and even those of you in the general public that intuitively just “know” something is wrong with the whole thing; you should be squirming in your seats; maybe even cussing as you listen to and watch the video. Now reading his spoken words will put it much more into a new perspective.


Obviously, this is clearly an emotional, and sometimes disorienting, event for PFD BC Willis because this is both personal and professional for him. He literally considered these men as his Sons. The YH Fire and GMHS debacle is both personal and professional for this author as well but more from a distance having trained and worked with some of them, including BC Willis, at the AZ Wildfire Academy; and also worked with them at Hot Shot Conferences as a Steering Committee Chairman and as a USFS Hot Shot Supt. and Safety Officer on wildfires. The YH Fire and GMHS debacle was a clearly predictable and preventable event. And yet how is it possible to do everything right, according to the USFS-funded SAIT-SAIR, and kill 19 men in one fell swoop? All emphasis is added unless otherwise noted.

 

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;

James 1: 22-23 (NKJV)

 

Check out our 2022 Applied Human Factors, and Ergonomics (AHFE) paper with, virtually that very same title, in these separate links above and below (http://doi.org/10.54941/ahfe1001577) and in this longer one here.


As such, this author is a strong advocate for - and proponent of - knowing and heeding the customarily accepted and acknowledged tried-and-true Rules of Engagement and Entrapment Avoidance principles. It is this author's and many other experienced WFs and FFs' individual and collective professional opinion(s), and GMHS families, friends, and loved ones, and everyday citizens that PFD BC Willis allegedly outright belies many of these accepted and recognized wildland fire safety principles. Understandably, this author and others take umbrage with many of his assertions, conclusions, professional opinions, and logical fallacies.

 

“The biggest tribute we should do for these firefighters is to tell the truth,” said former USFS Smokejumper and Fatality Investigator Dr. Ted Putnam. He stated he has direct information from multiple FF sources who were at the fire pertaining to evidence contained in investigation reports that leave no doubt that the State Forestry Division ordered the GMHS to come off the mountain and go to Yarnell. ] "... all this screams at me they were ordered off the top [of the mountain" and "Marsh’s action makes no sense at all unless he was ordered off the top,” Putnam 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." [So then, the answer is really quite simple. Someone - anyone - sue Dr. Putnam or any one of the YH Fire and GMHS debacle players into court so that he’ll testify and reveal this.] Source: Wildfire Expert Alleges Arizona Forestry Division Covering Up Yarnell Hill Tragedy (New Times April 5, 2016)

 

Granite Mountain Hotshot co-founder Darrell Willis describes 19-member crew’s last stand on Yarnell Hill

InvestigativeMEDIA. July 24, 2013.


These experienced WFs and/or FFs comments are particularly meaningful:


Little T says 8/7/13, 11:38 pm "Chief Willis is obviously over his head as a wildland firefighter and I know he is hurting but he shouldn’t have given the press briefing (see video) after all he’d been through. His pot bellied associate wandering into this video only compounded the problem."


Another Hotshot 8/7/13, at 8:51 am "The more Darrel opens his mouth, the more damage he does. These comments are more off base than even those at the memorial. Maybe Joe Public eats this up, but anyone with fire experience is going to see right through his BS. I realize his judgment is clouded with grief, but it might be best to just let the report come out."


LZ 8/2/3, at 7:20 pm "As I listened to this interview I couldn’t (sic) help but get angrier as it went on. As a wildland firefighter for many years now retired I can only tell you I would never trust this man’s judgement on an incident. I couldn’t believe his ill placed rationale for firefighters taking risks to save structures. It’s lives (including thier (sic) own) property, natural resources, in that order. I also couldn’t help counting the number of 10 Standards and 13 situations violated. I understand this is a sensitive situation and my heart grieves for those families, but we’ve got to get beyond protecting reputations and tell the truth."

 

Consider now the InvestigativeMEDIA (IM) contributor Wants To Know The Truth June 29, 2016, at 10:17 pm post describing the PFD supervisory employee direction while Wildland Captain Eric Marsh was working on the Type 2 Initial Attack Fuels Crew 7, the precursor to the GMHS.


Here is the Public Record for Eric Marsh’s October 10, 2005 ‘Employee Evaluation’ for his performance as ‘Wildland Captain’ for Prescott's ‘Crew 7’, when his, at-the-time, current supervisor was PFD Battalion Chief Duane Steinbrink.


From Eric’s PFD Crew 7 October 10, 2005, ‘Employee Evaluation Report’ —————————————————————————————— Employee Name: Eric Marsh Job Title: Wildland Captain Evaluation Period ( Start ): April 10, 2005 Evaluation Date: October 10, 2005 Department: Fire Division: Wildland

Employee Signature: Eric Marsh Supervisor Signature: Duane Steinbrink Department Head Signature: Darrell Willis - To help you reach your goal,

New Plans / Goals / Training for the Next Rating Period

1. Be nice! 3. Practice all aspects of “the Prescott Way.” 4. Continue with wildland fire training.

 

So are the paths of all who forget God;

And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish,

Job 8: 13 (NKJV)

 

“There is no greater fool than he who thinks himself wise; no one wiser than he who suspects he is a fool.”


Marguerite de Valois - Born Princess Marguerite of France, Margaret of Valoi was a princess of the French Valois dynasty and a queen of Navarre and France. An educated woman of letters and patron of the arts.

 

Here, against this alleged deceptive PFD BC Willis and GMHS Deployment Zone turned Fatality Site backdrop, the appointed YHFR website and this author's goal and purpose with recurring AHFE papers are to establish an unstoppable force in the Truth Teller world of exposing the truth (and lies) about the predictable and preventable YH Fire and GMHS debacle; despite their fecklessly desperate and falsely perceived formidable opposition.

Figure 1. Darrell Willis at GMHS Deployment Site Pt 1 Source: Dougherty, YouTube

Figure 1a. Darrell Willis at GMHS Deployment Site Pt 2 Source: Dougherty, YouTube

 

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


Albert Einstein

 

July 2013 GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference Part One


SUMMARY KEYWORDS - fire, Yarnell, lookout, area, deployed, Prescott, ridge, Sheriff, Blue Ridge, firefighters, chaparral, Crew, happened, drainage, coming, saddle, Safety Zone, bags, ranch, site


SPEAKERS

Darrell Willis (97%), Reporters (3%)


(0.08)

My name is Darrell Willis 'D A R R E L L W I L L I S.' I'm a Division Chief with the City of Prescott Fire Department. Well, you've all made it to the site where 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots [GMHS] died on June 30. This is exactly the ground that they died on. This is ah, you know, [a] pretty emotional place to be for me right now. And I'm sure you all you haven't had an opportunity to look at this site, and you look at the vastness of this hole that they were in, I think you have to put it in context of what they were doing that day, they weren't here. All day long, they were actually on top of the mountains ... to ... off of my left shoulder to your right, but you wouldn't have been able to see where they were actually coming from. But when you get back in Yarnell, you can kind of picture where they were coming from and stuff. You know, they were doing their job that they were assigned to do. And one of the basic tenets of wildland firefighting is anchoring the fire. There were structure protection groups that were in place in Yarnell, Model Creek, and the Double Bar Ranch, doing structure protection work. And basically, [GMHS] had our backs for the other folks that were there fighting [fire], doing point protection on the structures. And they were the ones that were going to ultimately, along with other Hot Shot Crews and other Crews, were going to provide a safe work environment or a working area for the others to work in. But somebody has to start first. So they hiked in not from the location that we came in, but a little further north, they hiked and got up on top of the mountain. And they're doing their ... their work ... all day long. I think you've all seen some pictures of some text pictures that were ... that were taken about a lunch spot that they were on. That's about a mile and a half from here, up. And if you look at look above me, you'll see a two-track road that leads out pretty much to the ridge line further north. And that's where they were at at the time. And then the fire behavior began to pick up that day. And this area that we're standing in right now was all green at four o'clock in the afternoon. It was ten-foot chaparral, very volatile fuel. In fact, we would have had a very difficult time, we couldn't have walked in the way we walked in. Normal people can't do that. But Hot Shots can find their way through. This was all green at the time, they saw that the fire activity was picking up and it turned a little bit. And there was a line of fire from the ridge top beyond where they were down lower into the valley probably a mile or two miles... and a half line of fire in ... it's Chaparral ... that started to move to the south. And, you know, most of this information I'm giving you was information that I've gathered based on some of the information maps and stuff like that. I happened to be on the fire on the north end of the fire that day, doing structure protection. So I wasn't really involved with what they were doing. But we are able to monitor the radio frequencies that they were on. And we heard that they were going to move out and start coming in in a southerly direction based on the fire behavior. So if you look up, there's a saddle up there just above this rock pile here that came through that area. And they started to move down in this area. My thought on it were ... was that they were not they were in a safe location. They were not satisfied and no wildland firefighters [are] satisfied sitting there and watching the fire progress without doing ... taking some action. They realized that the fire had changed direction, the wind was picking up out of the north. And they ... when they move back into that saddle, they saw the canyon ... Yarnell Hill that was unprotected. They also ... if you're up there and even if you turn around and look backwards, you see that there's a ranch just to our east down there. And I believe that they were ... felt that they weren't doing good where they were at ... they had to abandon their tactic of trying to anchor and flank the fire and go into what we call point protection and that's to move fire around the houses and protect structures.


(4: 56) I believe that that's what they were ... their intent was and when they moved down off of there, you know, they're carrying 40 or 50 pounds of tools, equipment in a pack, upwards of 70 pounds when you put a saw and the fuel and stuff on their backs, and they were moving down to protect this house. That's ... that's my theory on it. Like, [AZ G&F / ASF Spokesman] Jim Paxon had said, we'll never know. Because we don't know what 19 of the [GMHS] were thinking at that time. And there's no confirmation radio traffic that we're aware of. But they started to move down that hill and that drainage right next to the rock pile over here. And they started moving down, we have 60, say 60 pounds on your back and you're going downhill. They, you know, it's not, it's a lot easier to go downhill. But just kind of imagine for a little bit, having brush in that drainage 10 foot high, and you're walking down ... the winds blowing, there's a lot of fire activity on the other side, they're moving down with their eye on that Ranch to go back to protect. When they got over the saddle, and they got below this ridge line of rocks here, the fires totally blocked from their view, they can't see the fire over in that point. So they've ... they've committed to go downhill at this point. At that point, that's when things started to change dynamically with the weather. You know, we had some tremendous outflows and the ... the basically on some fire behavior stuff that we've looked at the fire was able to come around here and in this drainage and moved up this way, they had committed to go downhill, they were committed to come downhill. They ... they probably saw the fire in this area. And then we're looking for a place because they knew that they had fire on both sides of them, they had fire behind them. And now they have fire ahead of them.

 

[To the best of this author’s knowledge, Willis is allegedly the only one to publicly make this bogus claim. Consider now this SAIT-SAIR idealized image and official photo below falsely claiming that the GMHS "knew that they had fire on both sides of them, they had fire behind them. And now they have fire ahead of them. YHFR Figure 2a. (below) clearly depicts only fire below the GMHS. This is an ‘iPhone 4 ’photo taken by AZ State Forestry Brian Lauber at 1629 (4:29 PM) on June 30, 2013, near the Yarnell Ranch House restaurant looking west. The GMHS hiked right down into this fire behavior. This SAIT officially logged Lauber photo (IMG_1334.JPG) was provided to Brad Mayhew, the alleged SAIT Human Factors Investigator, and is part of the "official" SAIT photographic evidence. However, it was excluded from the SAIR; instead using the SAIT-SAIR idealized image Figure 18. supporting the bogus SAIT-SAIR ‘theory’ and PFD Willis' similar claim that the GMHS saw fire “ahead of them” and “behind them” at 1629 (4:29 PM) when the first GMHS “Mayday” went out. This author claims that the SAIT intentionally deceives with this half-truth that “... the middle bowl ,.. funneled the fire at a rapid rate of spread toward the top of the ridge.” Indeed, the 1629 Lauber photo clearly contradicts that claim."]



Figure 2. (left) SAIT-SAIR Figure 18. idealized image of supposed fire behavior Source: SAIT-SAIR Figure 2a. (right) June 30, 2013, fire behavior,‘iPhone 4’photo taken by AZ Forestry Brian Lauber at 1629 on 6/30/13 near the Yarnell Ranch House restaurant looking west [36]. This photo was provided to Brad Mayhew, SAIT Human Factors Investigator, however, it was not included in the SAIR. Source: Brian Lauber, WantsToKnowTheTruth, Google Earth


Quoting from the SAIT-SAIR on page 77: "[The YH Fire] moved from along the base of the main ridge and reached the bottom of the middle bowl, one-half mile south-southeast of the origin, and split into two heads. The southern head entered an unnamed drainage that this report refers to as the “middle bowl.” The northern head continued burning along the base of the ridge. (Figure 18) ... The fire entered the middle bowl and moved southwest. The middle bowl, a natural chimney, funneled the fire at a rapid rate of spread toward the top of the ridge. A professional photographer [Matt Oss video link] took a series of time-lapse images from a location near Congress and compressed 20 minutes of images into a 16-second video. The footage captured vortices that developed in the smoke. The fire crested the ridge top and was described as a “dragon’s tongue” by one of the aircrews in orbit over the fire. Est. flame lengths were 150 to 200 feet above the ridge top (Figure 19)."


Figure 3. (Snippet of Matt Oss video 1627 outflow winds and intense fire behavior noting GMHS location. Source: SAIT-SAIR Fireline Factors Case Study PowerPoint


Quoting from PFD Willis above: " ... the fire was able to come around here and in this drainage and moved up this way, they had committed to go downhill, they were committed to come downhill. They ... they probably saw the fire in this area. And then we're looking for a place because they knew that they had fire on both sides of them, they had fire behind them. And now they have fire ahead of them."

 

[Willis continuing:] And so at the site that's fenced behind me, they began to do some work. And you know, the timeframe is really, really short that they had to work. They cut ... they started cutting out a safety zone with their saws. And then about 4:45, somewhere in that ... that range, the fire was moving up to him, my understanding of the last radio transmission was that they were going to burn out around them. And what that means is they were going to let it backfire around the circle that they had cut out for their safety zone. And then they deployed their shelters. There, we had nothing other than we had no radio transmissions or anything else behind them. So the fire came around this drainage and came up this way. And for an hour and a half or so and I don't know the exact minutes on it, you know, we lost contact with them at that point in time. So right in that fenced areas where they deployed where they died. And that is basically the events that we know. There's ... there's a lot of other things, other factors that are being considered, you know, the weather and stuff like that being studied, so that we can really piece it back together, but the voice of what actually happened, we'll never know, we're not going to have that information from them. But I can tell you that they died with honor that they stuck together. One of the things that is very unique about this situation is 19 Firefighters saw and felt the same way. They ... nobody cut and run the other direction. Nobody tried to get out of the way. They all deployed, they were a very cohesive team. And they were in a very tight deployment area. All of their shelters were pulled, and they all deployed at the same time. And they all died in this location. From then that night, Department of Public Safety when the ... when all of this was going on, you can kind of look back and the whole town of Yarnell is on fire during this whole situation. And so we've got two big incidents going on. We've got a crew that's got an entrapment, and we've got structures to protect. So the incident continues on. They separate that out, they had an incident within an incident. Some of the folks within the incident began trying to get aircraft in but the smoke was so thick, the column was so high you couldn't get aircraft in once they finally were able to get aircraft in at the top of this ridge where the two-track trail is. The DPS helicopter was able to find a couple of two or three bladder bags or yellow bags that carry water and they were left from the previous night. And so it kind of gave them an indication and then they were able to slip in ... in under the smoke column.


They were able to confirm that ... where the Crew was and where they deployed, they dropped off a paramedic, confirmed that there were 19 fatalities at that point ... the paramedic got in his helicopter. And they moved out of the area. The other aspect was [that] we had some folks back in Yarnell on ATVs. When this area cooled off enough, they came up on ATVs, three of our Brothers from the Prescott National Forest, and actually confirmed again that we had lost 19 firefighters. And at that point, the few of us that were here that were with the Prescott Fire Department determined that we weren't going to leave these guys here. So when it cooled off and stuff, we stayed back a little bit and spent the night up here within this vicinity until the Sheriff's investigation took place. And the investigation was going to happen at daybreak. You have Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher led that investigation, the Sheriff was here on site."


Very respectful [the] way that they handled it. In fact, the Sheriff even brought 19 flags with him. And so when they get their pictures and sketches and everything that they had to do, about six or seven o'clock in the morning, the bodies were [body] bagged, and they were lined up basically where we're standing right now. Identity ... they had no identification, there were names or numbers put on the bags ... that draped flags over the bags. And personnel from the Prescott Fire Department along with one dad, Danny Parker, his son Wade was one of the fatalities ... is a Chino Valley Fire Captain. And he asked ... called me specifically and asked if he could help bring his son off the mountain. And so he helped us. There was a number of us that did that. We brought pickups in and two at a time to took them out to the ... to the Ranch House and loaded them up into the medical examiner's cars. And, you know, that's basically the story of what happened here. You can ... you can look around. You can speculate, you can say a lot of things. All I can say and I ... I know it's getting redundant, but I would have ... I would have been with that group blindfolded. They could have led me down here, I'd have been with them. I have complete faith and confidence in the leadership, Eric Marsh, Jesse Steed, the Captain, all the Squad Bosses, very seasoned firefighters, they would have never taken a risk that they didn't think ... you know, it's a risky business. But they don't take undue risk, very safety conscious. And it's just one of those things that happened. You can call it an accident. I just say God had a different plan for that crew.


Reporter: Chief again, I know Hindsight is 20-20. Could you comment, though, on how common it is for a Crew when they go onto a ridge to leave a member as a lookout? If they ... when they go into a bowl like this, how common is that? And how does that fit into just general policies and firefighters?

 

["That fits into just general policies and firefighters" with the officially ordained: “LCES and Other Thoughts” principles by former Zig Zag HS Superintendent Paul Gleason (RiP) (Mountain Scholar)]


"LCES stands for lookout(s), communication(s), escape routes and safety zone(s). These are the same items stressed in the FIRE ORDERS and "Watchout" Situations. I prefer to look at them from a "systems" point of view, that is, as being interconnected and dependent on each other. It is not only important to evaluate each one of these items individually but also together ......."


"A key concept--the LCES system is identified to each firefighter prior

to when it must be used. The nature of wildland fire suppression dictates

continuously evaluating and, when necessary, re-establishing LCES as time and fire growth progress ......."

 

Consider now a Snippet from a former AZ State Forestry official rightly critical of GMHS Supt. Marsh’s leadership decisions. Payne was vilified by many within AZ State Forestry and credited with speaking the truth by the majority of others that supported him for his integrity and honesty.

Figure 4. Snippet of AZ Republic Dennis Wagner discusses the sensitivities weighing on investigators in the GMHS deaths and the report that the Crew Leader made a serious miscalculation in the eyes of a State Forestry official. Source: KPNX TV- Phoenix, YouTube

 

Willis: They do it every day. They're ... they're you know, one of the things that we really emphasize and they emphasize is ... look ... Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes, and Safety Zones, but there are points during that workday, that you don't have that in place. They have a lookout ... he was on the other side, he had two escape routes. Brendon McDonough he ... he had two escape nets, the [BRHS]. They were on the other side of this [BRHS] picked Brendon up and he was able to escape, or he would have been the 20th victim. [BRHS] wouldn't have been there to pick him up. And so we had the lookout in place. But there are times when they're out here in this environment that you don't have all of those standards in place. And especially with them moving like they were ... you couldn't leave anybody behind. [Say what? Bulls**t! Read and/or watch how Willis deftly contradicts himself here asserting that they do it daily but other times they fail to when on the move. Which one is it Mr. Willis? The official NWCG mandate is clear: "... The LCES system should be automatic in any tactical operation where an objective hazard is or could be present." (NWCG - LCES)]

Figure 4a. Snippet of NWCG WFSTAR Is Your LCES Adequate" video closed caption text "It has become the cornerstone for [WF] safety and inspired another generation of firefighters Source: NWCG, WFSTAR, YouTube

 

(14:09) Reporter: Where was Brendon from where we are now?

 

Part Two - SPEAKERS - Darrell Willis, Reporter


Reporter (00:07) What time was it that ... Do you know, when Brendon was left behind and in relation to when the fire started running on this spot??"


Darrell Willis (00:18) In this environment, they wouldn't have left anybody behind. They would have if they would have left one it would have been two. They made the determination that they were coming this way to go protect that structure. So they completed their assignment and we're moving to another location to complete that ... I know it's sometime after four. I don't know exactly.


Reporter (00:46) It all happened after four o'clock ... though those events you mentioned something about them building a fire to protect themselves from the safety ... a safety fire to protect themselves from the wildfire that was running. Can you talk about that because it's an interesting strategy I think is very peculiar to wildland firefighters?


Darrell Willis (01:05) No, it's a very common occurrence and in what the backfiring situation was around the deployment, they didn't have enough to cut a larger space for a safety zone. And when you're cutting that stuff, you have to do stuff with you have to handle the brush and move it you can't just leave it on the ground because that's not going to be any good, so they're cutting and moving this Chaparral and Manzanita, and they're moving it off to the side. So to give it a larger buffer,


Reporter ( ) What gave you the ... go ahead. Sorry, were you still finishing?


Darrell Willis (01:57) No, that's fine. What gave you an indication that they were using saws ... we can tell by what's left here that they're … they're cut stobs that are still up there. We know that ... where they placed the saws. That was one of the other aspects here. There were three saws that were placed far away from them because of the gas and stuff in it far away from their deployment zone up against the brush, and along with their fuel. So that was a way from where they deployed. You know, one of the things that I failed to mention was we had air attack ... we had an air attack up at that point in time to that, you know, you talk about lookouts you don't always depend on ... on aircraft. That's ... that's a rule, but it was another set of eyes. That was up there ... that was trying to relay information to them and stuff like that.


Reporter (02:45) So you mentioned that they were coming down likely to protect this structure here with any indication that they felt they were getting in danger as they were heading that way. Were they going for a safety zone over here or were they heading for the site to protect that structure? And then they got into trouble here.


Darrell Willis (03:01) You know, it's all speculation at this point in time, but in my heart, I would know that they're not protecting themselves, they're gonna go and they're gonna protect that Ranch. It's very visible. I mean, we can look back and say, if you were standing here and you're a firefighter, where would you go? You're gonna go there to protect the house ... not necessarily protect themselves. They protected themselves as a last resort.


Reporter (03:26) Chief, they came down to ... I mean it's all ... looks black right now was … is there a way you can tell the fire come down there and around here at the same time? Or how did this area get engulfed in flames ...?


Darrell Willis (03:38) And that's something that's, you know, a number one thing but the leadership, the superintendent, the captain, the squad bosses ensured that every one of their people was in their shelter before they got in.

 

For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed,

nor hidden that will not be known.

Luke 12:12 (NKJV)

 

July 2013 GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference Part 2


SUMMARY KEYWORDS - fire, shelters, firefighters, deployed, protect, thought, moving, talk, left, mentioned, hotshot crews, outflows, judgment, behavior, escape route, situation, decision, adopted sons, saws, ensured


SPEAKERS - Darrell Willis, Reporter


Reporter (00:07) What time was it that ... Do you know, when Brendonowas left behind and in relation to when the fire started running on this spot?


Darrell Willis (00:18) In this environment, they wouldn't have left anybody behind. They would have if they would have left one it would have been two. They made the determination that they were coming this way to go protect that structure. So they completed their assignment and we're moving to another location to complete that ... I know it's sometime after four. I don't know exactly.


Reporter (00:46) [New York Times (NYT) Fernanda Santos] It all happened after four o'clock though, those events ... you mentioned something about them building a fire to protect themselves from the safety ... a safety fire to protect themselves from the wildfire that was running. Can you talk about that because it's an interesting strategy I think is very peculiar to wildland firefighters.


Darrell Willis (01:05) No, it's a very common occurrence and in what the backfiring situation was around the deployment, they didn't have enough to cut a larger space for a safety zone. And when you're cutting that stuff, you have to do stuff with you have to handle the brush and move it you can't just leave it on the ground because that's not going to be any good, so they're cutting and moving this Chaparral and Manzanita, and they're moving it off to the side. So to give it a larger buffer, and get away from the direct radiant heat or direct heat that's on them, they're lighting a fire out in that brush around them. So when the fire hits that it gives them a buffer. It's not a flame front that's ... that's actually getting ... they do that around houses all the time to get a little buffer from the ... from the flame front coming in.


Reporter (01:55) What gave you the ... go ahead. Sorry, were you still finishing?


Darrell Willis (01:57) No, that's fine. What gave you an indication that they were using saws ... we can tell by what's left here that they're they're cut stobs that are still up there. We know that ... where they placed the saws. That was one of the other aspects here there were three saws that were placed far away from them because of the gas and stuff in it far away from their deployment zone up against the brush, and along with their fuel. So that was a way from where they deployed. You know, one of the things that I failed to mention was we had Air Attack ... we had an Air Attack up at that point in time to that, you know, you talk about lookouts ... you don't always depend on ... on aircraft. That's ... that's a rule, but it was another set of eyes. That was up there that was trying to relay information to them and stuff like that.


Reporter (02:45) So you mentioned that they were coming down likely to protect this structure here with any indication that they felt they were getting in danger as they were heading that way. Were they going for a safety zone over here or were they heading for the site to protect that structure? And then they got into trouble here.


Darrell Willis (03:01) You know, it's all speculation at this point in time, but in my heart, I would know that they're not protecting themselves, they're gonna go and they're gonna protect that Ranch. It's very visible. I mean, we can look back and say, if you were standing here and you're a firefighter, where would you go? You're gonna go there to protect the house ... not necessarily protect themselves. They protected themselves as a last resort.


Reporter (03:26) Chief, they came down to ... I mean it's all looks black right now was is there a way you can tell the fire come down there and around here at the same time? Or how did this area get engulfed in flames ...?


Darrell Willis (03:38) The high fire behavior, folks have said that it came around here. And if you look, if you look at that little swale here. It basically would lead you to believe that the fire came up this direction that little swale here. It basically would lead you to believe that the fire came up this direction and up these little drainage holes here, and they wouldn't have been able to get they couldn't have, you know, it may have taken them 20 minutes to get off that it would have taken ah 45 [minutes] to get back up or more to get back up that so once you're committed downhill there's really no way to make any time going up here. So if they had fire here and they were trying to climb, they would have never made it. Their best option was where they deployed. If you look at how this is laid out, you know, we're talking minutes when they made this decision. There's a little swale here and then that back where they deployed, right in that there's a little protection you know, it comes up and I'm ... I'm ... there's no doubt in my mind that they chose that, that point for a reason because that's going to lift the fire off of them a little bit here. So you see, we come up to a kind of a little swale, and then it dips back down, right in the middle there where you can see kind of some lighter color, that's where they deployed right in that area there. Very, very tight area. So we know that you know, Eric and Jesse, were ... were thinking about that even in the situation that they were in. One of the things that I wanted to emphasize is, you know, there's been some discussion, some didn't have their shelters on ... Some didn't play this up.


We know 19 shelters were deployed. And there's a process when you deploy shelters, the leadership is the last one in those shelters. I don't know what happened. Some of the ... some of the firefighters did not have their complete shelter on him. But ... but you can't even take that in consideration because the heat was so intense, the shelters broke down. So we don't know anything about that. But we do know that they all deployed their shelters. And that's something that's, you know, a number one thing but the leadership, the superintendent, the captain, the squad bosses ensured that every one of their people was in their shelter before they got in. That's just policy and procedure.


Reporter (05:57) How hard would it have been for the shelters to break down? What temperature does ... does that start?


Darrell Willis (06:03) I don't know the facts on that. I know that after 19 years and five days after Storm King [Fire] this ... this is when this occurred, the Storm King situation. I know that after that event in Colorado [1994 South Canyon Fire], there was a new design for fire shelters, and it was based on that event. And so you know, they had the best of equipment ... we didn't ... we didn't skimp on anything. One of those, you know, they're referred to as tents or whatever ... fire shelters to $500 and we have one on each person. And, you know, they're the best of the best equipment that money can buy.


Reporter (06:40) The process in setting up [an] escape route. You mentioned that Brendon McDonough had his ... his route planned out is that something that's communicated back to two supervisors that this is going to be an escape route, or how does that work?


Darrell Willis (06:58) In his case, specifically, because he had a supervisor. He was, you know, Eric, and Jesse had in his case, specifically, because he had a supervisor. He was, you know, Eric, and Jesse had made sure that they knew how they were going to get him out of that situation. So that his escape route was ensured. What the other aspect of it was that when they caught ... when the fire had basically flanked them over here. They were picking and choosing their escape route at that point in time, that ... due to the wind factor, they had no idea that they were going to be here.

They thought they were going to be moving north. They had no idea what was behind them at this point in time.


Reporter (07:36) Chief. The ... Chief. There's a photo from 4:04 This shows the firefighters in the black. Yes. What's the risk versus reward the firefighters balance when they decide to leave the black and go into something like this? A deep crevasse? Have you .thought about that risk versus reward? And how typical was their decision to come into something deep like this leaving the black?


Darrell Willis (08:04) I thought about that a lot. And it's ingrained in firefighter's minds. Why do firefighters run into burning buildings? When it's just property? It's the same thing. These guys ... their goal is life and property in life to protect that and then the vegetation, historical, you know, things artifacts and things like that. So, you know, it's ingrained in them. They're not going to sit up there when there's potential for people to be at risk somewhere. Now there's a lot of talk about risk management. You know, the job of firefighter wildland firefighter in particular that we're speaking is inherently dangerous. I mean, you're dealing with tools and fire and chainsaws, steep rugged terrain and stuff like that. They wouldn't have done that if they thought they were risking their life. They thought that they had the option to ... to make it ... it's a time versus distance thing is what I'm saying. It's a judgment thing that crews they're making those decisions in ... in Montana right now. There's Hot Shot Crews that are doing that today. And that's the business that they're in. They ... there was a judgment that they made. And like I've mentioned before, I trusted their judgment. I trust their judgment today. It's you know, it's a decision that was made at that time and they thought that was the best outcome.


Reporter (09:36) Can you ... [you] mentioned that they expected the fire to continue going north?


Darrell Willis (09:41) Yeah, I don't think they recognized or, you know, I know they knew that the fire ... there was plenty of reports, thunderstorm outflows, things like that. I think that I don't think that they ... they were able ... were aware of how quick it moved. And, you know, because we were seeing the fire move and 50 chains an hour [approx 1.3 miles per hour] or something like that, which is which isn't uncommon in this field type and that changed to like four times that in a short period of time. And so what they were seeing during most of the day and what happened after, you know, 4:30 in the afternoon or whatever was ... was such extreme fire behavior that nobody expected. What ... what occurred, the fire behavior ...


Reporter (10:26) Is there a confirmation they did receive a warning?

There is confirmation? There's no question about it.


Reporter (10:36) I know they only had a very short time to pick a spot to deploy their shelters. But can you talk about how optimal spot this is for shelter deployment? I've just picked the goal is to try and get as much of a seal around you as you can lose.


Darrell Willis (10:49) The best they had at the time. At the time based, you know, on our thought that the fire was moving up this canyon ... [this] canyon is the best that they had at the time there was no other options. There wasn't an option to escape up hill. This is where they had to deploy.


Reporter (11:08) Yeah, and I'm not certainly ... not questioning their judgment to deploy. I'm just curious as to the terrain here. In judging the most optimal location.


Darrell Willis (11:18)I think they picked the best location in this bowl. You know, you look at it and study it. There's no place else that they could you know that they could go. I mean, you're in a box canyon here.

.

Reporter (11:33) Darrell, just give us a sense from a gut level ... does this spot mean to you?


Darrell Willis (11:39) I'm sickened, you know, 10 widows and 13 kids. I'm saddened for 19 Friends, just heartbroken about losing 19 adopted sons. I'm encouraged that we can all learn from this. I don't want them to have died in vain. I don't know what those lessons are right now. In ... in my view, right now,


I'm still looking through the smoke. I'm not seeing things clearly. But I know that they would want us to all carry on. They would want the [GMHS] to live on and continue to protect property in you know, lives and not to just grind to a halt and stop this and learn those lessons ... and what are those lessons? I think, you know, it's going to have to be ... you know ... more awareness are in judgment. And, you know, I take it back to some very simple steps. If, if all communities across the western United States had a priority on defensible space if they were taking care of the property, we wouldn't have to put firefighters between homes. What we're doing in Prescott, we're trying to make it so that fire comes into Prescott, you don't need firefighters, it'll lay on the ground and it'll go around the houses. And you know, we can't forget that effort. That's ... that's really important.


Reporter (13:13) You mentioned that the fire started moving, I think you said four times faster than it had been moving. Is that anything you've ever seen before extreme behavior like that before?


Darrell Willis (13:23) From my standpoint, this is the most extreme fire behavior I've ever witnessed.


Reporter (13:28) And is it something that you ever trained for ... something changing that quickly?


Darrell Willis (13:33) Um yeah, I mean, we always expect the unexpected. We, we, we always do that. When you put it in perspective of thinking, just the normal day-to-day logic you think not Yarnell now, you know, this is Payson or Prescott or Show Low or something like that. So to put that in perspective, but, you know, we do train for the unexpected. They've seen fire behavior and extreme fire behavior before the Doce Fire two weeks earlier, had extreme fire behavior.


 

And now to broach and then answer the post-title question: "What Fatality and "Prescott Way" Causal Factors Does PFD Wildland BC Willis Reveal in the July 2013 GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference?"

 

"For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound,

who will prepare for battle?"

1 Corinthians 14:8 (NKJV)

 

[Please consider these images and clarification comments and concerns below regarding PFD BC Willis’ statements made in the July 2013 News Conference video in order to put things more into perespective]


1) "And they're doing their ... their work ... all day long." [Eyewitness Hiker Collura watched and photographed them for hours hanging out, tossing rocks, and taking it easy for most of the day depicted in the photo below]

Figure 5. June 30, 2013, GMHS along mid-slope road allegedly"working" Source: Daily Courier


2) "But we are able to monitor the radio frequencies that they were on. And we heard that they were going to move out and start coming in ... in a southerly direction based on the fire behavior." [So then Mr. Willis, if ... "This is the only time anyone involved with the investigation in any way actually admits that they knew [GMHS] was ‘heading South’. When the SAIR finally came out… it never mentions the word South in any way and tries to establish that fire command thought that if Marsh and the men were moving at all that it was ‘to the northeast’ and ‘in the black’." said WTKTT on IM Feb. 28, 2014, Even though the alleged SAIT-SAIT "fact" that there was a 30-minute gap in the GMHS communication was later debunked and seriously brought into question."]

3) "They were not satisfied and no wildland firefighters [are] satisfied sitting there and watching the fire. progress without doing ... taking some action." [It always depends on the fire weather and current and expected fire behavior, every WF, and every FF that follows the Rules of Engagement and adheres to the principles of LCES and Entrapment Avoidance does; except the GMHS that left the safe black at the worst possible time, clearly in breach] "completely satisfied sitting there and watching the fire. progress without doing ... taking some action."


4) "They realized that the fire had changed direction, the wind was picking up out of the north. And they ... when they move back into that saddle, they saw the canyon ... Yarnell Hill that was unprotected. [If that is truly the case, then the GMHS really messed up by ignoring and failing to follow Fire Orders no. 1 & 3 and to mitigate Watch Out no. 15 regarding the wind dynamics while dangerously and knowingly moving into a saddle and a canyon during this unstable time. They succumbed to the "Prescott Way" to ignore FF safety in favor of attempting to save the town of Yarnell because: "... it's ingrained in firefighter's minds. Why do firefighters run into burning buildings?" and "we've got structures to protect" and "... just kind of imagine for a little bit, ... they're moving down with their eye on that Ranch to go back to protect. [So then, were they alleged WFs with a Municipal FF mindset based on his statement using the Equivocation and False Cause Fallacies, separate entities except in PFD Willis’ mind?]


5) "They wouldn't have done that if they thought they were risking their life. They thought that they had the option to ... to make it ... it's a time versus distance thing is what I'm saying. It's a judgment thing that crews they're making those decisions in ... in Montana right now. There's Hot Shot Crews that are doing that today. And that's the business that they're in. They ... there was a judgment that they made. And like I've mentioned before, I trusted their judgment. I trust their judgment today. It's you know, it's a decision that was made at that time and they thought that was the best outcome." [Willis most disingenuously and falsely stated that "It's a judgment thing that crews they're making those decisions in ... in Montana right now. There's Hot Shot Crews that are doing that today. And that's the business that they're in. This is interesting how Willis coyly includes other HS Crews doing this "right now" and "today" to help justify what the GMHS unsafely did as if those also do that. It is likely one of a few different fallacies, e.g. the Fallacy of False Attribution: (1) Appealing to an irrelevant, unqualified, unidentified, biased, or fabricated source in support of an argument; (2) Fallacy of Hasty Generalization in which someone generalizes from a too-small sample size. The conclusion of the argument is made hastily without looking at more reliable statistics which would enable the arguer to make a more accurate judgment about the situation or issue; or (3) Fallacies of Division and Composition assumed that one part of something has to be applied to all, or other, parts of it; or that the whole must apply to its parts.


6) "And I believe that they were ... felt that they weren't doing good where they were at ... they had to abandon their tactic of trying to anchor and flank the fire and go into what we call point protection and that's to move fire around the houses and protect structures. ... I believe that that's what they were ... their intent was ..." [The GMHS were secure in "the black" in their Safety Zone yet chose to leave safety adversely influenced by the dubious "Prescott Way" mindset].


7) " ... and they were moving down to protect this house." [Assuming he's talking about the Boulder Springs Ranch near the fatality site, it was deemed a "Bomb Proof Safety Zone" by the Structure Protection Spcl. at the morning briefing, so then it was needless "to protect this house."]


8) "That's ... that's my theory on it. Like, [AZ G&F / ASF Spokesman] Jim Paxon had said, we'll never know. Because we don't know what 19 of the [GMHS] were thinking at that time. And there's no confirmation radio traffic that we're aware of. But they started to move down that hill and that drainage ... And they started moving down," [What about the radio transmissions ("And we heard that they were going to move out and start coming in ... in a southerly direction based on the fire behavior") that were overheard in No. 2 above? Did the "Prescott Way" mindset to save structures overwhelm their training and common sense to commit to go downhill into a deadly drainage when the GMHS were secure in "the black" in their Safety Zone with the best view of the fire along with the Air Attack and the two Eyewitness Hikers witnessing ever-increasing fire behavior?]

 

[Basic S-190 NWCG-approved training clearly states: "Chutes and saddles. Topographic elements can be like a roadmap pointing out the path of a fire’s direction, and they can also act as warning signs for you and the crew. Some landscape features have played a significant role in past firefighter tragedies. You can count chutes and saddles among them.


"A chute is a steep V-shaped drainage, and a saddle is a common name for the depression between two adjacent hilltops. Chutes and saddles can: Drastically accelerate fires, alter the flow of winds causing erratic fire behavior, change the rate and direction of spread by acting as chimneys"


"Warning - Even seemingly insignificant chutes and saddles, and those concealed by vegetation, have caused firefighter injuries and deaths."


"Slow-burning fires in wide canyons can blow up as they enter a chute or saddle. Chutes and saddles can also alter the flow of surface winds and produce erratic fire behavior. Even in the absence of wind, these formations can change a fire’s rate and direction of spread by acting as

chimneys and literally propelling the fire up as if through a stove pipe."]

 

9) "it's a lot easier to go downhill. But just kind of imagine for a little bit, having brush in that drainage 10 foot high, and you're walking down ... the winds blowing, there's a lot of fire activity on the other side, they're moving down with their eye on that Ranch to go back to protect. [The truth of the matter is the chaparral was waist-high and NOT ten foot high as he claimed. Joy Collura showed him her photos of the waist-high brush height of the eventual fatality site before the men died. Again, is this Watch Out no. 9 the preferred Prescott Way of fighting fire again? ... "They were not satisfied and no wildland firefighters [are] satisfied sitting there and watching the fire progress without doing ... taking some action."]

Figure 5a.See Figure 58. above from YHFR post noting waist-high brush. Source: Collura Gallery

10) When they got over the saddle, and they got below this ridge line of rocks here, the fires totally blocked from their view, they can't see the fire over in that point. So they've ... they've committed to go downhill at this point. At that point, that's when things started to change dynamically with the weather. [Contrary to the SAIT-SAIR "conclusion" - The GMHS knew deadly saddles funnel deadly fire behavior. And this statement contradicts the SAIT-SAIR "conclusion" - "this ridge line of rocks here, the fires totally blocked from their view, they can't see the fire over in that point."]


11) You know, we had some tremendous outflows and the ... the basically on some fire behavior stuff that we've looked at the fire was able to come around here and in this drainage and moved up this way, they had committed to go downhill, they were committed to come downhill. [Willis justifying why they hiked downhill into a deadly drainage choked with unburned (green) fuel during obvious increasingly adverse weather ("outflows") when the GMHS were secure in "the black" in their Safety Zone contrary to their alleged wildland fire training.]


12) They ... they probably saw the fire in this area. And then we're looking for a place because they knew that they had fire on both sides of them, they had fire behind them. And now they have fire ahead of them. [Cagey deception and lies here! To support the SAIT-SAIR conclusion first and to support their idealized image above in Figure 2a. as a ruse?]

 

Seriously now - are you really going to hike you and your Crew downhill into this, with the aggressive fire behavior that you are observing?


Figure 6. (left) SAIT-SAIR Figure 18. the idealized image of supposed fire behavior Source: SAIT-SAIR Figure 6a. (right) June 30, 2013, fire behavior, ‘iPhone 4’photo taken by AZ Forestry Brian Lauber at 1629 on 6/30/13 near the Yarnell Ranch House restaurant looking west. This official photo (IMG_1334.JPG) given to alleged SAIT Human Factors Investigator Brad Mayhew. He never included in the SAIR. Source: Brian Lauber, WantsToKnowTheTruth, Google Earth

 

13) " ... but the voice of what actually happened, we'll never know, we're not going to have that information from them. [Deceptively, "the voice of what actually happened " [But the informative and interesting "Reactance Theory is the answer to the SAIT-SAIR "we will never know" at least seven times throughout the official "factual" report. This is quite telling! The Reactance Theory. Psychology Today. (February 5, 2021)]

Furthermore, Reactance Theory holds that when someone (Party Liner, Naysayer, etc.) states “we will never know” seven times in the SAIT-SAIR, that triggers a notion of attempting to conceal or hide something to those of us non-Kool-Aid Drinkers. And so, Truth Tellers like yourselves want to find out what it is that we will allegedly “never know” only because they said it and we should just accept it. It is also known as The Appeal to Closure: The contemporary fallacy that an argument, standpoint, action or conclusion no matter how questionable must be accepted as final because the point will remain unsettled. You want to inquire because they’ve piqued your interest and you want to know.]

 

14) But I can tell you that they died with honor that they stuck together. One of the things that is very unique about this situation is 19 Firefighters saw and felt the same way. They ... nobody cut and run the other direction. Nobody tried to get out of the way. [This is unequivocal, blatant Groupthink! And ensuring we know they all supposedly died together - again.]

 

[PFD Willis, while steadfastly attempting to protect the integrity and reputations of both himself and his men, defends and supports their faulty decisions and justifies the GMHS actions on June 30, 2013. His comments continually belie recognized and promulgated safe wildland fire practices. For example, here are two of his statements: (1) " ... in my heart, I would know that they're not protecting themselves, they're gonna go and they're gonna protect that Ranch. ... if you were standing here and you're a firefighter, where would you go? You're gonna go there to protect the house ... not necessarily protect themselves. They protected themselves as a last resort ..." Really? Since when do saving structures come before FF safety? Maybe in the "Prescott Way" but clearly absent in wildland fire.]


[And then his statement that they 2) "saw and felt the same way." And others like ("I would have been with that group blindfolded. They could have led me down here, I'd have been with them") strongly suggest the known menacing hazardous attitudes of the Abilene Paradox (the inability to manage agreement rather than the ability to manage conflict) and also Groupthink (a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome), These are both clearly identified and recognized within the trusted Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG) on page x. And you will notice that the GMHS decisions and actions fell into each of these categories below except maybe resigned because they felt that they could make a difference based on Willis' comments ("The Prescott Way.")


[The author and many other concerned, experienced, and knowledgeable persons contend that these hazardous attitudes exist in varying degrees in all WF and FF mishaps and fatalities where they are injured and / or killed by fire. They reigned fatal that June 30, 2013, day on the YH Fire, manifested as known perilous attitudes, decision-making errors, and engagements, ultimately resulting in their deaths. The authors and other WFs and FFs often expand on the Anti-authority attitude listed below to include: “The rules don't apply to us" and “Don’t tell us what to do.”]


IRPG Hazardous Attitudes

• Invulnerable – That can’t happen to us.

• Anti-authority – Disregard of the team effort.

• Impulsive – Do something even if it’s wrong.

• Macho – Trying to impress or prove something.

• Complacent – Just another routine fire.

• Resigned – We can’t make a difference.

• Group Think – Afraid to speak up or disagree.

 


"Well, you've all made it to the site where 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots died on June 30. This is exactly the ground that they died on."


"... they all deployed, they were a very cohesive team. And they were in a very tight deployment area. All of their shelters were pulled, and they all deployed at the same time. And they all died in this location."

 

[PFD Wildland BC Willis is overly obvious and unrelentingly confident about the GMHS timing, actions, and specifically, the location of them all deploying fire shelters together. There is something noticeably odd about that much specificity ("... this is exactly the ground ..." and "And they all died in this location.") when everyone at the news event already knows or at least believes that. And more so in relation to some recent Yavapai County Sheriff's Office (YCSO) evidence that Eyewitness Hiker Joy Collura gained, contrary to the SAIT-SAIR Appendix C. on page 87!]



Figure 7: Screenshot of SAIT-SAIR Appendix C.Deployment Site of the Yarnell Hill Fire. Body Positions of the GMHS on page 88. Source: SAIR-SAIR



"And, you know, that's basically the story of what happened here. You can ... you can look around. You can speculate, you can say a lot of things. ... I would have ... I would have been with that group blindfolded. They could have led me down here, I'd have been with them"

 


Figure 8. (left) GMHS Chris Mackenzie (RiP) photo near the lunch spot. Facing north, 1550 with Old Gader in the center and increasing fire behavior, Figure 9. (right) Near the lunch spot. Facing northeast, 1604. Sent with text message:GMHS Wade Parker (RiP) photo “This thing is runnin straight for yarnel jus starting evac. You can see fire on left town on the right.”. Source: GMHS, SAIT-SAIR YH Fire Case Study, alleged "Lead Investigator" Brad Mayhew, Fireline Factors

 

15) " ... they would have never taken a risk that they didn't think ... you know, it's a risky business. [It is fairly effortless to deduce that PFD Wildland BC Willis’ conclusions and the statements he made to support them in this News Conference less than a month after the fatalities, were clearly stunning. He was consistently, repeatedly denying almost everything that we do as WFs and FFs engaged in wildland fire, (e.g. Rules of Engagement, Entrapment Avoidance, Ten Standard Fire Orders, 18 Watch Out Situations, LCES, Common Denominators, Downhill Checklist, leadership, human factors, and so much more). Any other conclusion than that indicates someone that is on board with those dedicated Kool-Aid Drinkers and Naysayers that want to continue to support the Federally-funded SAIT-SAIR with it’s unsupportable “conclusion” of having done everything right, concealing the truth, avoiding the opportunity for any meaningful, complete lessons learned, and certainly healing that is so desperately needed for so many involved with this preventable debacle.]


But they don't take undue risk, very safety conscious. And it's just one of those things that happened. You can call it an accident. I just say God had a different plan for that crew." [Those "God" and "just an accident" and “If you accept that this horrific catastrophe - unprecedented in the history of hotshots - is because God had a different plan for those 19 men, then you’re not going to go beyond God’s will for causal factors, and that means you’re going to leave the door open for this to happen again,' says Gary Olson, a former superintendent of Coconino National Forest’s Happy Jack Hotshots, founder of the Santa Fe Hotshots, and, later, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management criminal investigator" comments were very controversial and generated a huge backlash from unbelievers and family members alike and many others like former USFS Hot Shot Gary Olson.]


Reporter: "how common it is ... when they go onto a ridge to leave a member as a lookout? ... when they go into a bowl like this, how common is that? And how does that fit into just general policies and [FFs]?


16) Willis: "They do it every day. They're ... they're you know, one of the things that we really emphasize and they emphasize is ... look ... Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes, and Safety Zones, but there are points during that workday, that you don't have that in place." [Total smoke and mirrors Willis attempting to buffalo the unwary reporters and square with the SAIT-SAIR "conclusion." Escape Routes are from danger to safety, which they already did . They then pervert the term as they are about to be burned over in their Deployment Zone calmly stating: “our Escape Route has been cut off and we’re firing out around ourselves …”]

 

Figure 9. Same as Figure 12. (below) Back cover of the Natl. Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Incident Response PockeGuide (IRPG) Fire Orders and Watch Out Situations which also contain LCES, a re-focusing on the essential elements of the Fire Orders Source: NWCG

 

17) "So when the Crew started moving to the south Blue Ridge picked Brendon up and he headed out that way. So that lookout was in ... and had his escape route, had his safety zone. He was out of there. And these guys were coming around this way. They ... they wouldn't have left o down there where he was. They made sure that he was taken care of." [The BRHS HS Supt Brian Frisby picked him out without any prior notification or preplanning by either the GMHS or the BRHS.]


18) "In this environment, they wouldn't have left anybody behind. They would have if they would have left one it would have been two. They made the determination that they were coming this way to go protect that structure. So they completed their assignment and we're moving to another location to complete that ... I know it's sometime after four. I don't know exactly." [Fire weather and current and expected fire behavior based on the Rules of Engagement and the principles of LCES and Entrapment Avoidance require that you leave an experienced Lookout.]

 

[Consider this undated NWCG WFSTAR LCES video Snippet below in Figure 10. below stating "it has become the cornerstone for [WF] safety and inspired another generation of [FFs]" clearly contradicting PFD BC Willis' statement above that "they wouldn't have left anybody behind. They would have if they would have left one it would have been two."]