Where Was The Local USFS Recognition And Representation For The 30th Anniversary Of The Dude Fire?
Authors: Douglas Fir, Joy A. Collura, Scottie Briggs (photos), and contributing others
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Our YHFR blog titled: "Where Was The Local USFS Recognition And Representation For The 30th Anniversary Of The Dude Fire?"
Here is the NWCG link regarding Staff Rides, Site Visits, and the Virtual Site Visits. ( https://www.nwcg.gov/wfldp/toolbox/staff-ride )
We felt that we were in somewhat of a modified Staff Ride because of the presentation using the Dude Fire Staff Ride materials and format by Lassen HS Supt., along with added commentary by our Dude Fire SME.
Here is our "Virtual Dude Fire Site Visit (VSV)" for the 30th Anniversary of the Dude Fire which will reveal that the local USFS Tonto NF, Payson Ranger District's (RD) acknowledgment and representation was fecklessly lacking.
Other than some tiny Dude Fire Staff Ride brochures (Figure 1a-b. below) at the trailhead, there was a near-total absence of participation. In addition, there was minimal media coverage on the 30th anniversary.
Figure 1a-b. Dude Fire Staff Ride brochure Source: USFS, Tonto NF, Payson RD
Disturbingly, the media, whether on their own or by USFS mandated news releases, focused on the Very Large Air Tankers (VLATs) as the most powerful tools of today fighting fire. "It takes a whole team from the firefighters on the ground to the crews in the air to battle the large brush fires burning all across Arizona right now." ( Rich Prange - 12 News) This is a rote, boilerplate USFS statement that covers everyone "in the fight" but ignores the fact that it's all about putting on a show, laying down the retardant. In the end, it's the WFs and FFs on the ground that ultimately suppress the fires.
"[IC Trainee] Robertson says they will only use the air tankers when it’s a high-risk environment and they can be effective." This is a mostly untrue statement. They are used more often than not, under the pretense that "structures are threatened." The Air Attack Group Supervisors foist these on the ground forces actually managing the wildfires. Few will ever stand up to them and refuse or ask for an alternative, i.e. more accurate and cost effective heavy helicopters. (emphasis added)
As far as the "effectiveness" aspect, you will see these costly air tankers dropping retardant without being reinforced with control lines by hand or equipment from the ground forces. It is an old WF saying that "air support without ground support is worthless."
Unfortunately, the media avoided addressing the fact that it's the men and women WFs and FFs on-the-ground fighting fire knowing and utilizing the 10 Standard Fire Orders, LCES, and the 18 Watchout Situations. That is the country's most powerful firefighting tool. ( https://www.nwcg.gov/wfldp/toolbox/staff-ride )
Due to the COVID 19 Phase, we kept our Dude Fire Site Visit group to under five (5), which included the S130 / S190 / L180 EAC Payson Campus Lead and Co-Instructor, Jeremy Fultz, and photographer Scottie Briggs.
We arrived at the Pinon Cafe 7:33 AM until 8:36AM. There was a long wait for our food. Jeremy Fultz noted there was a Hotshot Crew that he spoke to when he had his Men's Group 6AM breakfast. Small introductions were made. The Northern California USFS Lassen Hotshot Crew stated they were here on Standby, and planned to do the 30th Anniversary of the Dude Fire and clean up some trail areas.
For most of the trail time, we kept to the COVID-19 protocols except for a quick snapshot here or there. I usually would engage with Hotshot Crews we meet, but this time I kept my distance out of respect to help minimize the chances.
We parked at the gravel pit above Stand One and met up again with the Lassen Hotshot Crew.
We went through Stands One and Two, and then went right to the Deployment Zone / Fatality Site. Our Student, Jeremy Fultz, went the full distance with the Lassen Hotshot Crew learning more about wildland firefighting.
Due to the fact that we have met many disabled people that wish they could pay their respects at these Fire Fatality areas, we decided to make a Virtual Site Visit (VSV) online here for those interested individuals.
I have taken many on the Granite Mountain Hotshot (GMHS) Trail, including one in a wheelchair and another one in an electric scooter. We had some challenges along the way but we did it.
This post is dedicated to you folks that wish they could do it, but are unable due to a disability, work schedule, or still to this day, are unable to emotionally go there in person.
Figure 2. Beginning the Dude Fire Staff Ride - Site Visit heading to Stand One Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 3. Heading to Stand One Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 4. Stand One - Lassen Hotshot Supt., Allen Schultze and Dude Fire SME Schoeffler presenting and discussing the NWCG Staff Ride Materials. Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 5. Continuing on Dude Fire Site Visit from parking lot / trailhead Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 6. Dude Fire Site Visit - Stand Two - Lassen Hotshot Crew Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 7. Dude Fire Site Visit Stand Two - Lassen Hotshot Crew Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 8. Dude Fire Site Visit Stand Two - Lassen Hotshot Crew and Jeremy Fultz Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 9. Dude Fire Site Visit Stand Two - Lassen Hotshot Crew and Jeremy Fultz Source: Joy A. Collura
The Lead Instructor, Photographer Scottie Briggs, and myself left the Lassen Hotshot Crew and went on to the Deployment Zone / Fatality Site, as Jeremy Fultz carried on with the Hot Shots to learn more about Wildland firefighting and terminology as they traveled to Stand Three - Corner House.
Figure 10. Dude Fire Site Visit heading to Deployment Zone - Fatality Site Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 11. Dude Fire Site Visit heading to Deployment Zone - Fatality Site Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 12. Dude Fire Site Visit - Deployment Zone - Fatality Site Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 13. Dude Fire Site Visit Stand Four - Deployment Zone - Fatality Site Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 14. Dude Fire Site Visit Stand Four - Deployment Zone - Fatality Site - Lassen Hotshot Superintendent, Schultze, speaks about some graphic details of a near-miss wildfire Source: Scottie Briggs
Figure 15. Leaving the Dude Fire Site Visit Stand Four - Deployment Zone - Fatality Site to Stand Five - Ellis Source: Scottie Briggs
Figure 16. Leaving the Dude Fire Site Visit Stand Four - Deployment Zone - Fatality Site to Stand Five - Ellis Source: Joy A. Collura
Figure 17. Stand Five - discussing Ellis and Gleason's LCES Source: Scottie Briggs
Figure 18. Group Photo - Lassen Hotshot Crew with SME, Schoeffler Source: Joy A. Collura
On the way back to Payson, we came upon the local Payson RD Engine Crew. We told them we had completed a Dude Fire Site Visit in recognition of the 30th anniversary and said they should have been there.
Unbelievably, they told us that due to the USFS COVID-19 protocol, they could only interact with other Crews and such on the firelines. Just another USFS opportunity to ensure that "incomplete" lessons are learned.
We were out there all day and went to Chili's (6:25 PM-7:39 PM) (We did wear our mask going in to Chili's as it is mandatory in restaurants.) - a gift from Jeremy & Scott. We then picked up my Himalayan salt for my buddies and finally got back at 8:16 PM.
This is a really important article that many of you either discounted or missed. Recently, an article went out that Google plans to erase all data that is over 18 months old - PERMANENTLY.
Please reach me for alternative areas to show where your loved ones were on June 30, 2013, so that you can retrieve and retain that important data.
Figure 19: Google Location History article Source: CNBC
Source: Mike Yung, YouTube