Why Has the Wildland Fire LLC Lost Its Ethical Compass Defending The YH Fire SAIT-SAIR? 2
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• Illustrate concepts, technologies and methods to actively engage the FLA and CRP processes.
• Examine case studies that describe a paradigm shift from blame to learning in the wake of an accident.
• Demonstrate the use of storytelling to exploit accidents and other unintended outcomes as learning events.
• Underline the concept of sense-making to enable FLA and CRP team members to overcome hindsight bias.
• Move organizations towards a learning culture. The workshop is limited to 56 participants
Prepare participants to serve as FLA and CRP team members.
Personnel interested and available to participate on review teams analyzing all types of accidents and near-misses. The Workshop participation is not limited to Fire and Aviation Management employees.
Total Hours: 40
None, However, preference will be given to individuals with experience in risk management, safety management and accident investigations."
This author, with a wealth of "experience in risk management, safety management and accident investigations" has applied for this course several times in the past few years and has been denied each time. Truth-Tellers and such are the exceptions to the rule evidently.
Figure 11a. Blurry Snippet of Learning From Unintended Consequences, FLA, and CRaP Source:
NAFRI NWCG Courses website
Figure 11b. FLA Witness Statements and Confidentiality protocol Source: FLA website
This Figure 11b. statement revealing the recognized unreliability and untrustworthiness of employee opinion statements is interesting with the recurring feckless "evolve" verbiage: "It's important to note that an employee's opinion on an event may evolve over time as he or she begins to make sense of the situation." (emphasis added)
Consider now the WLF LLC's willful blindness to reality with their overt attempt to manipulate wildland fire documentation and information to achieve their established agenda to avoid and / or discredit the truth about the YH fire and GMHS debacle. It readily appears that they openly and intentionally leave pertinent facts out of their Podcast, so it makes one wonder what other wildland fire mishaps they cover are skewed as well.
At this juncture, you have the option of either suffering through listening to the one-and-one-half hours of the podcast or like most people, opting for actually reading the Otter PDF transcript below for the Wildland Fire LLC Podcast - Reading, Reflecting, and Changing Behavior
If you choose to read the written words instead of listening, then please consider now the WLFLLC Center Manager Kelly Woods - USFS Plumas NF, Feather River RD (CA) Forestry Technician, and Graduate Master's Degree Erik Apland PodCast transcript titled: Reading, Reflecting, and Changing Behavior (September 16, 2021) transcribed in PDF format.
This author certifies that the transcribed PDF of the podcast is truthful and accurate to the best of his ability and the words that are posted are factual with minor spelling, punctuation, and grammar, etc. editing as noted below.
This author used an Otter.ai app for transcribing the WLF LLC podcast mentioned above. The document was saved in a PDF format after editing basic spelling, punctuation, and grammar while the overall content remained the same, e.g. all fire names mentioned had the name capitalized "Butte" and the word "fire" in lower-case (Butte fire edited to Butte Fire), the word "PPE" was originally "peepee"; "IRPG" was often "IRDB"; the author often edited out the speakers' titles and times ("Unknown 30:34") because they will be discerned when read in context; out of respect, capitalizing, e.g. Crews, Helitack, Engines, ets.; the Agencies and entities were initially lower case ("cdf, ccc, wildland fire lessons learned center, etc") and then edited to upper case; added hyphens in certain areas, i.e. "rules-focused"; you will note many areas of redundancy or stuttering, i.e. "this ... this" or "this, this"; lots of "Wow" by Woods; "clothing" was often clubbing; lots of mentioning "evolve, evolved, evolves, evolution, etc. that this author loathes because it means that it came to be all by itself with no human intervention; and new edits become apparent each time it's read.
The WLF LLC also favors the use of Fire Shelters for a variety of reasons, i.e. The Fire Shelter Guy." This is another issue as a result of the YH Fire taken on by the USFS, and that will be the subject of a future YHFR post. Generally speaking, if you have to deploy your fire shelter or rely on air support to "save you" then you have really messed up. In a word, there will NEVER be a fire shelter made, light enough to carry on the firelines, that would have withstood those extreme fire behavior temperatures that day. NEVER!
WLFLLC Kelly Woods - Erik Apland Reading, Reflecting and Changing Behavior (9-16-21) Unknown 0:00 ... reading all of these and really diving into them is, for me, I think what it took to pass from kind of the, well that's interesting to ... This is something that deeply connects with me enough to change my behavior. And that's a hard thing to get to. Unknown 0:22 This is the wildfire lessons podcast. Our goal is to promote learning by revealing the complexity and risk in the wildland fire environment. We share the lessons, the learning that follows is up to you. Hi, I'm Kelly Woods director of the wildland fire Lessons Learned Center on today's podcast I sit down with Eric Apland to visit about his analysis of being traveling reports posted in our Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Incident Review database throughout the podcast, you'll hear Eric mentioned multiple reports, some of which you may have read and others of which may be new to you. Either way, Eric has read them all and offers some unique conclusions lessons in perspective. My advice, as you listen, is to take note of some of the incidents, so you can look them up in our incident review database for further study to find our IRPG, visit our website wildfire lessons dot.net. Let's listen to my chat with Eric and see if there are any surprises for you in the conversation here. Okay, thanks for joining us today to talk a little bit about what you've been doing, what kind of research, what kind of deep dive into our incident review database,
and some of the cool stuff you've been finding so appreciate you being here. Why don't we start with you telling us who you are and how you got here. Yeah, great.
" ... Eric has read them all and offers some unique conclusions lessons (sic) in perspective.
" ... see if there are any surprises for you in the conversation here."
"look at all of the entrapments that we have on there"
How about this surprise? The entire WLF LLC YH Fire and GMHS Incident Review is readily available to anyone and everyone in the world?
"Yarnell Hill Fire Entrapment Fatalities (2013) with about sixteen different PDF reports, PowerPoints, Videos, etc. at your disposal that were clearly intentionally ignored in order to completely avoid mentioning it in their PodCast.
Intentionally deceitful! Misfeasance! Shameful!
"Hey Kelly. Yeah, it's really nice to be here, be able to talk about this. My name is Eric Apland and I started my fire career and in 2005 at Lassen National Park up in Northern California and kind of as a temp wandered around the West a little bit, until I came back to California and a few
mouth 10 years ago, I guess at this point and now on a permanent TEALS tack on the Plumas National Forest up in ... in Northern California, but this summer I've been a Field Operations Specialist detailed to the Lessons Learned Center and this looking into these Entrapment Reports that
we have housed on our Incident Review Database has been kind of a project I've been working on for majority of the summer so far,
It's been awesome to have you we've loved having you on our, on our staff and getting your perspective. And this project has been pretty cool and really it just, you know, the ... the assignment was to go through our Incident Review Database, and look at all of the entrapments that we have on there, any reports that we have that are tagged with entrapments or as entrapments, so that means starting the incidents you looked at I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, start at about 1910 and go through, you know 2020 All of those ... those things and so you're sitting in this really cool, unique position where you've read those reports, all in this, you know 120 Day detail, and it's been so fun to listen to you talk about some of your findings, and some of the things you've seen, so it just made sense. Let's sit down and let's do a podcast, let's have some fun. Let's pull some of the details out and, You know, talk about some events that maybe we don't even aren't at all on our radar is it community because they happened so long ago but
might have some really valuable lesson so I appreciate you, I mean, that simple assignment go through the IMDB (?), and look at entrapments you've taken it and just run with it and it's been so awesome, so I'm excited to ... to have you share some of what you learned so let's go to dive in, what are some of the things you found. So like you said, it starts the database the first entrapment that's, that's mentioned on there as 1910 was there great Idaho Fire blow up. And then from there it's, it's very sparse until you get into the 1960s and then it really picks up in the seventies and it's kind of exponential. From then, but there's a few things that seem to come out of it, for me anyway and they're interesting because some of them are very sort of detailed sort of small, day to day type of ... of issues and then some of them are much, much larger. So one of them that really came out for me was the evolution of our personal protective equipment and how that started.
You know where people were basically wearing what loggers were at that at that time, right 1910. Especially Filson kind of stuff and whatever if they could afford.
Yeah. And then so there's ... so there's that piece of it right and then, of course, the fire shelter as a part of that. That came later. Then there's things like the issues that ... that would come up in these reports, usually starting more around the 60s, and 70s that are still issues now or are
things that we seem to have finally started to address, even in my the 15 years of my career, the last 15 years, there's how these reports have changed and how variable they are, because I think there's a kind of an assumption that the older reports are a certain way the newer reports
are a different way. Right, but that's not actually really true, they're kind of a really, I think [it] depended on who was writing it and what their directives were and, and there are some old older reports from the 60s and 70s that that say some things that are really surprising that are said in different terminology than we would use now, but are definitely things that, that we could say now, and have the same sort of sensitivity to things like mental health and personal well being that kind of stuff that, that we kind of talk a lot more about now and I think aren't we don't think about being in seven days. So there's, there's just a wide variety of different things that ... that come up and it's been really fascinating to see this, let's kind of dive a little bit more into the reports initially I definitely want to talk about the [PPE] thing because I think that's something that's pretty fascinating, and, you know, looking at that evolution but I ... you know at the Lessons Learned Center of course we're, we like to, to look at the reports we like to look at how the Learning Culture has grown and evolved in huge piece of that is how reports have evolved. So, dive in a little bit more. Give me some more details on like what you might have seen in, you know, early reports, whatever pick a decade. Up until, you know, like maybe what was going on in the 90s versus what we're seeing now give us. Yeah, talk about that a little bit.
Yeah, absolutely, starting with 1910. That first 50 years from 1910 to 1960 There are only 13 reports that are in there. Obviously, there are many more entrapments than that in those 50 years, and those early ones are very factual there, but like I said, they're very variable, you really can't tell exactly what it's going to say, I mean what's fascinating about them to me is that there really are a pretty interesting window into what it looked like to
fight fire in the first 50 years basically of since the ... the Big Blow Up, and how, how different truly different it was then, versus even, even in the 60s and 70s and certainly now, like in what ways, what are some great, so, you know, the only organized type of crews that seemed to exist at that time were like the C's right the CCC program in the 1930s otherwise, it was
kind of, you know ranchers would show up or they have some loggers that were nearby and they'd come over.
Very little, sort of existing organization. And, you know, these were times when these land management agencies existed but they didn't really have much as far as an existing organization. And so, if you think about
something like that, you know, we may have had at that time, different kinds of fire safety training where, you know, I think, don't go above a fire. Don't be downwind of a fire that sort of thing, or have a safe place that you
can escape to. Those are those go back decades and decades, those kinds of themes without calling it LCES are yeah we're having 10 and 18 and that kind of thing. But, you know, if you're a logger or a rancher who lives nearby or whatever the case, you probably haven't had any of that kind of training you may think you know some things intuitively but that's probably the extent of it right. So, the some of the things that that happened, where we had I mean sort of shocking in a way, you know like the Griffith Park Fire right and I think it was 1933 down in LA County, yeah it was ... it was, I think one of the largest fatality fires in US history, at least, firefighters that after 1910 probably. And, you know, largely because I think there wasn't really much of an organized firefighting force at that ... at that time.
It's fascinating to hear you bring up Griffith Park Fire, and, you know, how many people have studied that or looked at that or even know that that fire took place is kind of an interesting thing because it goes back into, you know, the several decades ago and I, that's pretty interesting that he can say it's got that many fatalities and, you know I'm this is my 30th fire season and I'm going home. Okay, I better look that one up, you know, you know.
Yeah, that was definitely been the case with me as well. There's been things like I've heard of Griffith Park, right, that's it, that's about it. I'd heard it, it, that it had happened but I didn't know really anything about it at all, and there are fires in there that I didn't even know that happened, never heard their name before you know pretty major fires, but to get back to the report thing. So that was kind of the first part of the first 50 years, you know, it's sort of it's hit or miss. There's huge things that probably happen
that are lost to history, unless somebody decided to write it down. And then there's kind of a period in the 60s and, and getting into the 70s when it's kind of hard to categorize it ... it's certainly not the. It's not the kind of rules-focused sort of reports that ... that came a little bit later. That stuff is in there, you know, a focus on once they had developed a 10 and 13 at the time. Once they had developed that, then there is [a] reference to those things, but often there are some of these reports that really do look at,
they wouldn't call it human factors but they talk about those types of things, and look at more sort of more deeply or try to question more deeply like why, why do these things keep happening and what can we do as an organization to, to change that, whether it's the Forest Service or a lot of stuff came out of the state of California during that time, but it doesn't really matter, you know, depending on the agency doesn't necessarily matter. There was kind of a focus on the sort of systemic change versus really rules-based stuff.
I'm curious Eric did you, you know, some of those things that started getting highlighted in reports are some of them, things that we as a culture have found some resolution to are some, or some of those things ... things that still linger today that we still grapple with how to address.
Right, yeah, yeah, no, definitely that so both right, I think. So there's the PPE part right that that is very very slowly, is instituted, you know the bringing there's mentions of fire of flame-resistant clothing right. And then, that ... those mentioned started in the 1960s. And you see it for 10
years. At the same with fire shelters, it starts in the 1960s and you see it for 10 years that maybe we would have had a different outcome here if, if these people had been carrying fire shelters but at the time they weren't required they may not have even had access to them at all, Right, but there's a lot of references earlier than I would have thought about things like work to rest guidelines. I thought that was a newer kind of guideline than ... than it is something that's been around for ... for quite a while it's I
think it's mentioned in the Butte Fire report, which was a fire in Idaho and in 1985. I believe it's mentioned in there but it's certainly mentioned around that time, and that continually comes up, the use of hospital liaisons. There was a fire in the State of California. In the early 1970s, which I believe is a first time it's mentioned that somebody. Yeah, it was really cool. Where they assigned a Battalion Chief [there was no such thing as a BC in the wildland fire lexicon in 1985] to be at the hospital every day with a burned firefighter, to be there for the family and be a liaison between the hospital and family it's really, it's really cool to see that.
Yeah, that's a lot earlier than I would have speculated that that kind of concept would be implemented addressed and implemented so I absolutely and then as far as stuff that's brought up and then not fully addressed say there's a lot of that, the biggest one, I think the most surprising one for me was finding a reference in a report, and a fire called the Mac Two Fire [unable to locate anything on this wildfire] which ... which happened either right adjacent to the San Bernardino National Forest or on the Forest, I can't remember, but right up next to it down there in Southern California, in 1971, and they mentioned in the report, in fact, it's a pretty significant bulk of the report they mentioned how, at that time, the US Forest Service was in, particularly the Pacific Southwest Region California was having a hard time competing with County Fire Departments. And at that time the California Department of Forestry CDF, the competing for employees, because of their working conditions. The state of housing that the ... the Forest Service could provide for people and pay that they were not competitive at that fascinating 1971 that's identified in a report and we certainly are still grappling with that, right, it's a big one, right. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so that was, I was, I was shocked to see that and they really do delve into it in pretty great detail to this, to the extent that they even have photos comparing bunkhouses on the San Bernardino versus what the ... what the State had It's really amazing how they took it really seriously.
That's very, very interesting. Anything else with reports that. Yeah. So the big thing that I think people talk about with these reports is that there was this period of time up until the early to mid-2000s And there was a lot of work done at that time with people who were very serious about developing, you know, sort of a safety culture right where that was not punitive, and before that, and obviously, there's a reason why that happened and there are, there are things that were written in the 80s and 90s that are shocking to read, how you mean from like a punitive standpoint, like, yeah, like how judgmental I guess would be the word that
I would use and it's, it's really, it's very common kind of calling people out, sometimes almost by name in very harsh terms, it's certainly not anything that you would see now, you're focusing on one person was the at fault for this whole thing rather than looking at the collective organization and how what happened and what can we learn from it really about assigning blame and moving on, kind of zero, yeah exactly one that ... one that really comes to mind is the Ship Island Fire, which was in Idaho and in 1979. It actually says in that in that report that. [There was a Hot Shot Crew on the helispot that the two WFs decided to use as a Safety Zone. The HS Crew wisely left the area and went elsewhere for safety. The two WFs that remained stacked all the gear on the helispot around themselves and it was the gear and the intense heat from the fire and that burning gear that caused the problem. Gloves became mandatory after this fatality fire. Moreover, Woods continues to discuss this fire and accuses the Ss and Helitack of disagreeing with the accident report -"if it existed"].
Indeed, "it existed" then and does exist now on their very own WLF LLC website in two separate documents. Pay close attention to how the alleged "Investigators" and USFS their high-level Management clearly attempt to deftly wordsmith and manipulate what is "allowed," contained within these "official" reports and USFS correspondence.
Fire Shelter Entrapment Report (38 pages) and Pattee Fatality Investigation Report Ship Island Fire (43 pages)
"One of the problems they think is that Crews, that there was not retribution for Crews that didn't produce line. And because that time ... time the California Department of Forestry CDF, the competing for employees, because of their working conditions. The state of housing that the ... the Forest Service could provide for people and pay 1971 that's identified in a report and we certainly are still grappling with that, right, it's a big one, right. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so that was, I was, I was shocked to see that and they really do delve into it in pretty great detail to this, to the extent that they even have photos comparing bunkhouses on the San Bernardino versus what the ... what the State had It's really amazing how they took it really seriously.
Yeah, that ... that sentence made it into a report, it's amazing and in the same report, it says a little bit later on, that when the fire was first identified, I believe, certainly Smokejumpers flew it. I believe the Helitack crew flew it as well and both of them separately said they didn't believe the fire should be staffed at all. It's a very strange thing, it's almost like they ... it's almost like they didn't read their own report if it existed. It's so contradictory and all these different things, and then ultimately the firefighter who passed away on that fire you know they have criticism for him as well and it's like I said it's not ... it's not the kind of thing that you would see now. And I think in that respect of, that's a good thing that the change that has come about.
Yeah. What are ... what are your thoughts just like I said, you've just read all of these reports. In this short timeframe. So what are ... what are your thoughts on reports of, you know today or the last few years and, and how those look, and it seems to me there's more of a focus on a narrative, telling a story. You know, looking for opportunities to learn. What's your reaction to what the contents look like now and how we can apply them back to the [fire] community to learn.
So it's often the case that the ... the newer reports, tend to be, in some cases longer, but it's because they look more seriously at things like ... like human factors and so there was a fire in 2011, a Coal Canyon Fire in South Dakota, where a type six engine got burned over, and in that case,
there is a long discussion of why there were actually two separate burn overs that were very close to each other.
And there's a long discussion of why. In the one case, the people who were driving the Type Six Engine decided to go forward, rather than back up, and then includes even photos of what it would have looked like, from their point of view, what it would have looked like out of the windshield versus the side mirror, and why they would have chosen to go forward, which ultimately ended in a pretty narrow draw, which is where the attract with that ... that burn over happened. And then on the same fire on the same road, there was a single firefighter who was standing in the road, when there was a sudden flare-up.
Right. And rather than move forward, away from that. He laid down in the rough. Right. And there was something similar that happened in the past, and when it happened in the past, it wasn't commented on, It was just this happened with no explanation as to why. Really anything it was just sort of left sort of an explicable, but in this case, in both the case of the Engine and then the single Firefighter on the road they really dug into why would you ... why would you do something that now, with hindsight and knowing the outcome we think looks strange. And I think, I think that particular report puts it in very, very well, why it made sense to do what they did.
That's, that's pretty awesome because that's one of the things is getting. When we look at these reports we want to be able to suspend our hindsight bias right and look and think about what were they seen and what did they base their actions on instead of just judging and saying, well, I would never do that. Because how can we ever know what we would do until we're faced with the same situation, seeing the same thing so yeah that's ... that's a pretty cool thing and it takes narrative right to get there, you can't ... you can't just have bullet statements and say this and this and this, these are the facts of what happened. You need that narrative in there to tell the story to paint the picture so that the reader, it brings the reader, closer to the event to maybe even get an emotional
connection to actually learn, and your emotional connection may still be, I would never do that, that's fine.
Figure 12. Hindsight Bias and Counterfactual image and explanations. Source: WLF LLC
Woods and Apland continue: Once you've at least thought about it, you've got more details. And if you find yourself in that scenario now you almost have at your own slide it's one from reading and studying, but you kind of have a slide and you think okay, I've thought about this before this is what I'm going to do or this is what not, what I'm going to do or this when I'm, you know, going to avoid doing so. So that's where that narrative is so important. So yeah, pretty cool.
This author alleges that a contradiction is occurring here regarding their earnest Mission Statement and prescribed intent because WLF LLC Woods and contracted-WLF LLC and PNF employee Apland never once discuss or even mention - throughout the entire one-and-one-half-hour PodCast - anything at all - nothing - about the June 30, 2013, YH Fire and GMHS debacle where 19 men died in one fell swoop, where they did everything right according to the Federally-funded SAIT-SAIR.
This is telling - critical - because it shows the true nature of the individual and collective WLF LLC motives and their alleged continuing manipulation of, and resistance to expose the truth! The truth that we all know exists and that so many are virtually starving for.
Yeah, I totally agree. I think it's ... it's critically important and I think that one thing that I've gotten out of this, of doing this project is that you really have to take seriously the idea that you're going into this, to learn why something happened to people who are basically in your exact shoes.
Yeah, professionals with a set of skills, a set of experience on which to base their actions. Why did they have the outcome they had, right, and whether, even if it looks, even if things look strange.
Now, because our (sic) maybe some of our practices are different, they were still, you know, in a ... in a situation where they took, you know, the ... the slides right like you said, they looked at their decision space and they made a decision, it's exactly the same as you would do now, and I think you have to, you do have to spend time with some of these, especially the longer, some of the longer ones because they're in, you know, [the] vast majority of cases they're long for a reason and there's really good stuff in there. It just, you have to take it seriously to take the time to do it. Not that you have to read them all, but, but if you're going to, you know, try to learn and really derive, you know, hopefully maybe change your behavior or train your Crew or something like that and like really really dive into it and take it seriously. Unknown 22:53 Well I think that's the you know the, the notion of honor through learning, right, we honor all of the members of our [fire] community who've, you know, had bad or good outcomes, whatever, you know, by learning from them, studying and yeah I definitely appreciate that, you know, you mentioned the Ship Island Fire from Salmon-Challis National Forest, 1979, [The Salmon and Challis NFs were formed in 1908 and combined into the Salmon-Challis NF in 1998] and I want to talk about that a little bit because I want to kind of launch into some of your findings about PPE and you know as I, as I recall from ... from that fire firefighter, Kyle Patee, you know, lost his life on that fire, getting in his fire shelter, without gloves, he had given his gloves away to somebody got into the shelter and then couldn't hold down the shelter, because it got so hot, and he didn't have his gloves. So that just, you know that fire has always really resonated with me.
This author found no evidence to support Woods' claim that "he had given his gloves away to somebody got into the shelter and then couldn't hold down the shelter, because it got so hot, and he didn't have his gloves."
I ... you know I remember my own little sketchy scenario in Nevada, quite some time ago but you know flying in the helicopter. We were going to see if we could take some action on, you know this big fire outside Battle Mountain, and jump out of the helicopter there were four of us from our crew, take off our flight helmet, shove our flight gloves, in the, you know with our helmets, put them in the ship, [the] pilot takes off. Now we turn and we're, we were ready to see what we can do to engage, you know, start doing ... implementing our plan. We did have a plan when we got on the ground but the fire behavior changed so quickly.
And we had to basically you know it's kind of started coming out at us from a couple of sides and in the four of us had to make the decision. We just got to find a spot that we can pop through this, just run through the fire, get into the black is kind of where we were. But I remember in my head Ship Island Fire. I mean I distinctively remember that I did not have my gloves on because I was in a hurry, you know I just threw my hard hat on through, you know, toss that stuff in the aircraft and started to go my gloves were in my pack because I was a Rapeller and we didn't have our gloves outside, because we need if we were going to rappel, we didn't want our clothes hanging out, right. So, my gloves are in my pack and I remember as the four of us were looking for an opportunity to maybe find a break in the flames or smell (sic), you know, I remember thinking, oh my gosh, I don't have my gloves if I end up needing to get into my shelter. This is not going to be good, so it's so resonated with me that that story always did, and here I find myself in that situation, right. So, so talk a little bit about PPE, you know, gloves, fire-resistant clothing, and of course, shelters, what ... what are some of the things you pulled from the reports related to that.
Yeah, there's so much in there. I think actually something that, having read all of these right and ... and seeing this, this evolution from ... from just kind of thick cotton clothing to flame-resistant clothing. First, just the shirt, then shirt and pants. And then throughout the decades, especially when often in these in these reports there will be an analysis of PPE especially starting maybe in the 1990s. And so and it will look at how did it do, right, for further development and seeing that really made me think, in a new way, which I was kind of surprised that I had never thought about this before, but what [our] PPE is actually supposed to do, and what it's capable of and what it's not capable of, And that kind of led me to a really, really great video, that's on YouTube of a, he's a Fire, or was I don't ... I don't know if he's retired or what but he was a Fire Captain with LA County. His name is David Leary, and he does a, it's a presentation and he's giving to a rookie class, where he talks about falling through a roof on a warehouse fire, and he says, the reason why he's here, is because he was
wearing, everything. And the only thing he has all of his PPE that he was wearing, lay down on the table. And he said, visit this is what the Department issued me I was wearing, all of it. And he said at all of this, all this stuff all it did was buy me some time at it. And I never had thought about it like that before. And, you know his big point was, he was walking on a roof, and all of a sudden, he had fallen almost 20 feet into a burning building. It happened instantaneously. And so whatever, whatever he
was wearing the moment he fell through the roof is all he was ever going to be wearing but didn't ... didn't have time to put a shroud on, get his gloves on it, that was, yeah.
And I think that's one of the surprising things for me that has come out of doing this just personally is that I've always definitely been someone who would have the gloves clipped to the pack, and with the thought that I
could just throw them on when I had when they, if it ever got hot or something like yeah I had mine inside my right yep check that box. Yeah. But in reality, that's just not true. When fire reaches you, or heat or whatever it is, but what you're wearing is what you're probably going to be
wearing, you're probably not going to have, there are cases of course where people have some time, and sort of watch the fire come but. But in, I would say the majority of cases it's whatever you've got on his way, is all that's
all you're ever going to have on, and it's not going to get better. So, so that's ... so that's that part of it sort of the flame-resistant clothing the gloves. The fire shelters is a, is a really fascinating topic we could probably do a whole podcast just on that multiple probably, but one thing that I just looked this up to get a real number, And of course, these, these reports
aren't ... aren't comprehensive to everything that happened, but I think that's an important thing too for us to always remember in this processes. These are the reports we have, you know somebody took the time to study it to draft it to submit it to lessons learned. That's what the IRPG is so it's not inclusive of every single activity or event or incident that's happened over time.
No, no, not by any means. I mean I remember meeting someone my first fire season who showed me some scarring on his ... on his wrists from being in an entrapment, with a fire shelter and I, I've never found that in the database, I don't know where it was, when really it's interesting so I. But in looking, I look this up this number. And just in the period of 19 1985 through 1989 And really, there were about 600 fire shelters that will deploy, which is half of the total, what's it and it's ... it's fascinating because they got to such a huge number because it during that time there were these mass sheltered deployments of ... of dozens of people whole divisions in some cases yeah Butte Fire. Yeah, the Butte Fire in 85 same Lake, Lake Mountain Fire both on the Salmon in 1985, there were several. 1988 was actually the had the most shelters deployed there was a layout entire Division, 107 people got into fire shelters up in Montana. Just, you know, shocking. And what, what came out of that for me anyway is that they, they really ... really worked. And, and, especially those that Butte [Fire] and
Lake Mountain Fire, those are, in many cases, I'm sure not across every different location that people were at, but in many cases, they certainly ... certainly saved people from being injured, but I'm sure there would have been, you know many fatalities as well. And as it as it is, you know, in the report at least according to the report, there really weren't any burn-related injuries associated with the Butte Fire in particular or I believe Lake Mountain Fire too, which is, which is pretty incredible. Yeah, so to get back to, to kind of fire shelters and you know how they, how they kind of came about through the lens of ... of these entrapment reports, and the first reference that I found was from a letter that the Chief of the Forest Service wrote after the Sundance Fire, which was in North Idaho in 1967, and is an entrapment of a Dozer Operator and what I believe at the time was called a Sector Boss but basically a Division. And they were out, way, way ahead of the fire. Right. I mean, miles. But it so happened that
that day the fire ran, something like 15 miles, very unexpected. And, and so they were caught and, and, at that ... time, fire shelters did exist, But the belief was that they were only really useful in very light fuels like grass
and light brush, and so they were only issued to Crews who were fighting fires in that kind of fuel, and so you didn't. This was a big timber fire up in north Idaho, so nobody, the cash didn't even have fire shelters to issue to
them. And in the attached to this report is a letter from the Chief of the Forest Service that says, even if in this case, where they were, maybe it would not have helped them, they should at least have been given a chance to try to use it right, and that was in 1967, and it took 10 years of ... of more entrapments and more fatalities, to finally get to a point where they became mandated across the board, which was in 1976. And then, so that was in 1976, all Foresters [and] Firefighters at least we're required to wear a fire shelter, no matter who the fire belonged to, so to speak, and then you'd have 10 years later, a little less than 10 years later, you have all of these huge entrapments you know, dozens and dozens of people. And what's fascinating about it is that immediately. In ... in, I mean, as a rule in all
of these reports, they say, what's happening is wrong.
The beginning of the shelter is also the beginning of the shelter stigma as soon as people actually started to really use them. They really focused hard on trying to stigmatize using them. I don't think that of course, they would put it in those terms. I'm sure that our, I believe they were worried that people were taking undue risk because they believe that they could
because they had a fire shelter. But you know I think the result of that, I think it's pretty clear that there is this huge stigma around it that ... that we've been dealing with since then some of the things that are said in these reports from the, from the mid- and late-80s are again they're shocking you know the recommendation that there should be an 11th Fire Order saying that you can all, you should only use a fire shelter as a last resort. And so it's kind of an interesting question like, is, is a show is a fire shelter, a piece of PBE like Nomex, that, that you should use, if you
think there's a possibility you might be burned or, or that the air is not going to be breathable, or, you know, really significant Ember fall or something like that. Should you just err on the side of caution and use it or should you treat it like a last resort. And I'm almost like I'm only going to use this thing to save my life and any other use of it is legitimate, which is kind of the way that those reports are written that if you weren't if it wasn't immediately life-threatening, then you probably shouldn't have ...
have used, and it's interesting because if you can improve your conditions, and, you know, prevent some sunburns, or get better air, you know, to protect your lungs or if you can improve your conditions. It's like you put on a shrub to, you know, improve your conditions or you ... you know you do these things but. But yeah, that if you pop a shelter you know that stigma, it's not about well, I wanted to improve my conditions, you know, right, yeah it's ... it's really pretty fascinating, is it truly PPE? And if it is,
then we need to change that narrative of last resort, it's like now I was improving my conditions so I deployed my shelter and not feel this justification well I didn't really think it was necessary I, you know, because obviously the danger in that last resort is, when do you cross the line from having plenty of time, and then it's last resort and now you've squandered your time, and can't get yourself a good spot to deploy your shelter you don't have time to do the things you need to do to get your shelter, a good seal a good location, all of that so yeah that narrative of last resort, lead you to that you know precious seconds, you know, last.
Yeah absolutely and, you know, something that I didn't know about really at all until I started reading these was how common it is for it to be necessary to remove one usually says one, but sometimes both gloves to get the fire shelter open, and it's something that I know that they have
been working on for decades, and, and it is better, but it's, but it's still there. And, and so you can read about that going back to the, I think the first time I saw it referenced was in 1987 Yeah, they talked about there being at the at the entrapment site there being multiple of, like, right
handed gloves, left, left in place because they couldn't, manipulate, opening the shelter, and that just carries on, and so like you said, if you're, if you're thinking, you know, okay, maybe I'll take it out of my pack, and I'll
hold it. Or maybe I'll take it out of its case, and I'll hold it in this, that, that sort of soft plastic medicine (sic). You may get to a point where if you're in the situation where you actually do have the time, right, where when you finally decide okay, it is, it is too hot, I need to use this thing, where all of a sudden now you realize you can't, you need to take your gloves off to open it and now, and now there's, you know, fire, wind and, yeah, exactly. Yeah,
and all that stuff. Yeah, I think that, and it and it's, it's mentioned, more, you know, in the last say 10 years, that people's main trauma survivors say, We need to look at you like training on this as not being sort of this extreme last resort, kind of thing because you're kind of setting or you can be setting yourself up to, sort of, fail, yeah. What I think that's a really interesting thing, what, you know, based on your readings, specifically with ... with focus on fire shelters. How would you change fire shelter
training annually, I mean we're all supposed to do it and you know we wear gloves or we try and visualize you know some people have a fan going. Some people run up here, you know, all kinds of things, but based on an actual analysis of shelter deployments in our, in our business, how would you change the training, what would you recommend people do.
Yeah, I mean just, you know, going by the words of some of the survivors that are ... that are interviewed in these reports, you know, well first of all, taking the ... taking the training seriously. I know that someone I work with on the Plumas is they, they would, when he was a Smokejumper they used to. They used to try to do deployments behind the ... the DC-3 power-up and, you know, at high ... high wind right and they have really good sealing and yeah very noisy right ... right uncomfortable, and it gives you a sense of ho difficult that might be. So, so there's, there's sort of that thing which people have talked about right using fans and that kind of thing. You know
this is, this was brought up during actually a previous podcast on the ?? Bowl Fire in Arizona. When do you get training? When do you talk about using a fire shelter as a, as a shield, traveling like moving with it? Yeah, there was a fire in 2002 where it's called the ...the Price Canyon Fire in Utah, where a group of Smokejumpers, ended up being trapped and escaping or, you know, variety of different things but there was one fellow who used the fire shelter kind of as like a turtle shells we put his arms and legs through the straps and ... and with that on his back, you know, facing away from, from the oncoming heat. He dug himself out an area to the point of shelter, and it, and it's a brilliant idea right and I didn't see that referenced anywhere else. So I think, probably, at least you know, in my experience, I don't think I ever got enough practice, is kind of the, you go to, you go to the refresher, you go out on the lawn, and you're good for the year. Right, yeah.
And I think that's especially true of militia, and maybe places with that don't have as high of a fire load as well.
So it may be the case that there are, there are places you know like, like, behind the DC three right wherever where they do, where they do more intensive kinds of training but, you know, anybody could find themselves in that situation and. And so I think, doing, doing a variety of different, not just not just different sort of environmental conditions but also what the ... what the goal is, right, because to me in my in my sort of mental model, the goal is escape, until a point where I realize I can't escape any more, find a good place and then deploy it in that, you know that that prone position, wearing all my [PPE] right there are many many deployments that don't look like that, that were successful in some way, you know, prevented injury or, or whatever. So, I think, really training on that more in different ways, in ways that look different, would be potentially very helpful.
Yeah, and maybe, you know just increased dialogue if you're facilitating the training, increased dialogue. You know what, what is in the realm of possibility or what are some considerations and, as you say, listening to those survivor stories you know our last podcast that Mud Fire.
You heard the story from ... from Chris Fry you know, off the Angeles of what it was like for him and that decision making and one time, you know when things, the time were just closing and you gotta, you got to take care of it or you know the ... the South Canyon video that WFSTAR [Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refrehser] put out several years ago, listening to Tony Petrelli and Mike Cooper those jumpers that ... that deployed they're really taking those words, and ... and thinking about them facilitating a really good discussion rather than like you said, Yeah, popping your shelter in the ... in the grass and going. Cool, I'm, I'm done for the year check that box and I'm moving on, give me my red card.
Yeah, shake. Shaking it somebody outside shaking it. Yeah, because
the more we can have considered these things like wow, what would I do, given that scenario, the more we will be ready to make good decisions, critical thinking, you know, when we find ourselves in a decision in a ... in a space that we never thought we'd be in because nobody ever thinks Yeah, I'll probably deploy at some point, you know, nobody thinks that right we'll think it's never going to be m ... never going to be me, but, but really thinking about it and ... and studying and so it's cool that you've, you know, mined through all of this and come to some good conclusions. Yeah, and I think that how I looked at fire shelters and what I believed about entrapment has changed, you know, just in the past couple of months from doing that so I again my sort of mental model of what an entrapment and shelter deployment look like was the South Canyon Fire, and that happens, right, that happens with some frequency and often those are, those kinds of fires, those kinds of entrapments are the ones that have a lot of people associated with them right. But the majority of instances of entrapment, don't actually look like that really, they're more like, as a very sudden increase in ... in fire intensity or a very very sudden change in direction, that then you know oftentimes just immediately falls away again. And in that case, you may or may not have a chance to even get the fire shelter out but ... but those are ... those are entrapments as well. And that's not something that I really ever thought about at all. And I think that's where the sort of thinking of the fire shelter as something that could potentially be a shield, you know, could be, could be very useful and being ready I guess in your mind, to not have to try to eliminate any stigma, you might have to, like, what does it mean that I'm that I have to get my shelter either I'm crossing a line I'm stepping just immediately going forward, the same way that you would, you know, raise your hand to your face to protect your face from heat right, same thing. And those, those there are there are cases of those types of things happen.
Yeah, so one thing I'm curious about Eric is, you know you've gone through all of this, this work and I know it was sort of, I mean it was a lot of work, a lot of reading and study what is, You know, is there a report that stands
out to you that ... that people should get into the IRPG and check out now. And, and read and learn from. Is there something like that or what you know what ... what would you tell people what did you learn that you think other people could learn? (emphasis added)
" ... is there a report that stands out to you that ... that people should get into the IRPG and check out now. ... what would you tell people what did you learn that you think other people could learn.
At this point, any ethically honest, knowledgeable, and skilled reader or researcher, or curious citizen would conclude that the WLF LLC "Reading, Reflecting, and Changing Behavior" PodCast professionals - working in concert - have chosen to intentionally ignore the salient facts about the June 2013 YH Fire and GMHS debacle; and the dishonest SAIT-SAIR "conclusion of no wrongdoing." Furthermore, these readers and researchers, and others would consider this to be the perfect opportunity at this juncture to at least acknowledge and then address the biggest cover-up, lie, and whitewash in wildland fire history!
Clearly, this was no accident nor can it be considered one!
Continuing on with the PodCast transcipts. "Unknown 46:12
Yeah that's a great question, Kelly. I think I would say that my number one answer would be. Look for your area. Look, so look for your state. So, because you can select out in the IRPG, you can select out, you know, type of incidents so you can look for entrapment, and then you can put in your state, and just leave the rest blank and see what's there ... see what's there. There's some states you're going to come up with a lot of a lot, right, because in my case like I found out that there, there were multiple
entrapments directly an area that I work in now, and I was only marginally aware of a couple of them and completely unaware of several of them. Yeah, right, and so that that would be my first recommendation is, if it's an
area that you're working in, especially if it's like your IA responsibility area. Be very behoove you to know what happened and what's the history. Yeah, but you know it's a sort of generally speaking, I would say, I really ... really
thought that the Coal Canyon Fire so the 2011 in South Dakota. I really think that's a very good report, and really ...
It delves into so many different things that in the past had not been looked into, and really take seriously trying to figure out why the people who were involved, thought that they were making the best decision that they could. I think it's, I think that one's incredibly good. So if there's only one that would be that one. I also would highly recommend for [the] Pagami Creek [Fire] which is 2006 in Minnesota and that was one that involved, folks that were, I believe not primary firefighters that were obviously red carded and that but and they were clearing campgrounds in the Boundary Waters, you know, very major fire run happened, and they ended uphaving to deploy shelters, either in water deep water, cold deep water, or on the little sandbar, that is also a very good report and goes into a lot of different human factors and thought processes, not just among them. But what was going on back at camp as well as the planning process and sort of miscommunications or opportunities that could have been taken that weren't in the planning process at that one that was very good as well.
Consider now the WLF LLC Pagami Fire video, part of the "Fire Shelter Deployments: Stories and Common Insights" is a program developed by the US Forest Service Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC) that will help you understand what you may experience in a fire shelter deployment. For additional fire shelter information: www.nifc.gov/fireShelt/fshelt_main.html" (emphasis added)
But glaringly absent anything about Entrapment Avoidance thanks to Brad Mayhew which would result in him allegedly being rewarded as the YH Fire "Lead Investigator"!
Figure 13. Pagami Fire video Source: NWCG, WLF LLC, YouTube
A few viewer comments are in order, especially since they were criticized by several emotional, ignorant others: "Joseph Schmoe - 2 years ago
"I found it kind of interesting that in the lessons learned portion of the video, there was nothing mentioned of supervision, management not keeping track of their crews, not maintaining communications with the crews and being vague regarding mission objectives. It appears that those folks were on their own with none of the support that should have been provided them. I'm glad that these folks prevailed, but they deserved better." (emphasis added)
And "Tim Kasey 1 year ago (edited) - A few things that should be given emphasis: ... 4) I will say that I continue to see a pattern with all these lessons learned reviews. Seems like the weather forecast, wind direction and wind speed forecast is never taken seriously enough, and everyone acts like its a complete surprise when the fire spreads faster than expected. It moves at 1/4 the speed of the wind. Knowledge of the fire spread rate relative to wind speed, if understood, should make you take action and be out of that area 1 hour before it nearly burns over your location. No excuse for not understanding this in 2020.
5) If I were working in an environment where the weather, wind speed, and wind direction could determine my fate, I would have a laptop with me at all times. I would have access to all weather information, fire information, and be sure to have a satellite subscription. It is becoming more and more apparent that office support can't be relied upon. Weather information needs to be accessed when fires are nearby. 6) I have yet to hear ANYONE say something like, 'I could see the fire, where it started in the 5 acre burn. I then pulled up the weather forecast to learn that a cold front was going to bring in 50 to 60 mile per hour winds.' This detail in fire behavior prediction IS easily understood today (by those who care to understand it)" (emphasis added)
And, of course, the typical less-than-insightful Pagami Fire FLA states: "This report is designed so diverse readers can find what they’re looking for." And include "Team Members" from the YH Fire and GMHS debacle SAIT-SAIR creators "Brad Mayhew (Human and Organizational Performance, Writer)" and "Randy Draeger, R4 Regional Health and Safety Director (Process Coach)."
Mr. Draeger, a former Marine, has prior Safety Director experience in the non-germane hotel management field. And please remind me how hotel management experience would somehow qualify him to be a Regional Health and Safety Director?
Continuing with the WLF LLC PodCast: "Awesome. Thanks Eric. Just in closing, I'm going to ask you, what is a personal lesson, you know, focusing on this, this huge deep dive you've done in these kinds of events. What's a personal lesson, what did you learn that you are going to immediately apply throughout the rest of your career.
I think I've been thinking about this and I think so. Again, you know, I have multiple answers so I have the. I'm going to come up with. What are the scenarios in which I need to be wearing gloves, not having attached to me, but actually have them on my hands, because I realized that I've been in a lot of situations where I should have been wearing them, and I wasn't right. That's one thing that's kind of a really easy, sort of takeaway right, but the ... the big thing for me is that it took, reading this stuff, and
spending hours and hours with all of this to get to a point where it actually did sort of have the emotional weight, that it would change behavior I believe I mean I haven't been on a fire since it started this so we'll see, I guess, but I do believe that ... that it will change my behavior, and it took time, but I, you know, there's some really hard things in some of these reports, and when you, when you read through those. In others, that was somebody, right, and, and I think like you said, you know, we, we need to, we honor these people by remembering and learning from them right, whether they were injured or ... or ... or passed away in the way of sort of reading all of these and really diving into them is, for me, I think what it took to pass from kind of the, well that's interesting to. This is something that deeply connects with me enough to change my behavior. And that's a hard thing to get to, I think. But that's where you're going to be able to make a difference in yourself, or with your crew, or whoever it is having,
finding a way to make that connection, so that it is truly meaningful to you, and not just kind of an interesting part of history.
Yeah, thank you. Thank you so much, Eric Apland for sitting down today, with ... with me, and for taking on this ... this project to really appreciate it. I gotta say Dude, the original assignment was go through and check tagging. He pretty much blew it out of the water. A plus.
Thanks to Eric for sharing his perspective. Keep in mind that this conversation only scratched the surface on the information that can be mined from studying incidents of the past. Also remember, it would be impossible to mention every entrapment incident that has occurred since
1910 in this one podcast, there's some amazing stories that you should check out if you never have such as the story of Zuni Hot Shot Chrissy Boone, who used your shroud to protect her Global's ???? hands during her shelter deployment on the Holloway Fire in Oregon in 2012 [NFPA]. (emphasis added)
Wildland Fire LLC Holloway Fire (2012) archive records, including a video interview by Travis Dotson. Human Factors are NEVER mentioned in the Accident Investigation Report.
In "The introduction to On the Fireline - The introduction to
On the Fireline - Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters,"
Figure 14. Snippet of Zuni HS Filler Crissy Boone - Holloway Fire (2012) North and West views of the fire shelter deployment zones when unable to keep up, separated from the Crew. Source: WLF LLC
The GMHS, as well as several other Region 3 HS Crews, were on this fire and witnessed the aggressive fire behavior and this DZ. They had all commented how well the fire shelter worked in spite of the fire behavior in this fuel bed that would later hauntingly, virtually mirror that of the YH Fire. They obviously underestimated the rates of spread and intensity that fateful day. The author contends that it was this fire and this fire shelter deployment that adversely affected the DZ judgment of the GMHS.
In "The introduction to On the Fireline - The introduction to
On the Fireline - Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters,"
Former USFS WF Matthew Desmond, turned PhD wrote: "Sociologists, psychologists, and organizational theorists also have tried to understand why firefighting crews break down. But the question of fault has been pursued with the deepest devotion by those most invested in the answer: agents of the U.S. Forest Service. Immediately after any burnover, an interagency and interstate investigative team descends on the burn scene with cameras, notebooks, tape recorders, and authority from the highest offices and soon emerges with a lengthy document, definitively titled a 'Factual Report,' that itemizes the causes that led to the firefighters’ demise." (emphasis added) Did this guy drink the Kool-Aid or what?
Woods and Apland continue: "[Or] some of my favorite lessons can be found in the info written about the Horse Park Fire and treatment, which took place in Colorado in 2008. Those involved in this entrapment capture their story and share lessons that have immediate practical application for others. I hope this podcast has gotten you interested in visiting our website and [IRPG] to conduct your own study of our incident reports. Also, remember, we rely on you to send us your lessons. Thanks so much for listening to the wildfire lessons podcast. Thank You"
Now then, you have to admit that was a lot more informative than listening to a PodCast for an hour-and-a-half, ey.
Consider these comments from a friend of the female Logan HS lookout (Ashley) that should likely be considered as credible, notwithstanding the fact that she was running in a "draw," i.e. a chute or chimney: "I know Ashley (the lookout) pretty well. As she told it to me, where she dropped her pack she had 40' flames in her peripheral vision on both sides as she was running north. It was hot and close enough she was worried 5-10 seconds would be enough delay to get her killed. Once she dropped the pack she was able to move faster, and continued until the smoke over her head was no longer completely black, then climbed the bank and lit her escape fire. It was a bit under a mile and a half from pack drop to escape. She's way fitter than I ever was, and I used to run that distance in about 15-20 minutes in rough terrain, with nothing trying to kill me. The draw she was following changes from due north to more northwest just past her drop point, while the wind shifted from blowing north to blowing east at some point during the day. Eric mentioned the wind hitting his face on his sprint north to the parking lot, but that might've been air getting drawn back in since it was so close behind. The parking lot is also exposed to the southwest, the mesa drops off there so prevailing winds could come down and account for it too. The fire burned past parking shortly after they left, so it definitely continued north. Lot evacuation was around 1708. You can see near the end of the video (00:11:10-end) that when the UTV with Roy aboard came tearing into the parking area, the fire was moving straight at them parallel to the road (which runs northwest into the lot) but the winds aloft were pushing the smoke up and to the side in the video instead of streaming straight over them. That would place the plume north-ish. Pictures from later in the day show the smoke rising almost due east, but her escape fire burned north-northwest. She set th at fire after the parking lot evac, so the plume was very likely still low, thick and headed north; she would have been in the middle of it until she reached her evac point which is masked by a ridge just to the southwest. The fire followed her about halfway up her escape route, but I'm not certain how far it had gotten before she got picked up by the helicopter. She told me there was a damn big wall of fire and black smoke looking south from her escape burn, and she was deeply concerned that the fire would reach her before her burn got big enough to be survivable. Then Air found her and the helicopter dropped in. That was around 1744. She's out again today, fighting another fire." (emphasis added)
What follows are a series of WLF LLC articles, posts, summaries, etc. of relevant wildfire information. And the authors do their level best by commenting and critiquing them by "putting genuine heartfelt inquiry and introspection into the matter.: All emphasis is added unless otherwise noted.
Two More Chains - Bad Apples? Spring 2018 Vol 8. Issue 1 Paul Gleason and Eric Marsh
"Let’s time travel our target shooting session.
Hmmm, what year should we jump to? How about 2013? It’s so easy. Eric Marsh might not have been Paul Gleason, but he’d led his crew on a hikeoff a fire more than once. Bad Outcome = Bad Apple? Try giving Marsh the leeway you give Gleason.
Does it feel any different?
Apples and oranges, you might say. (Ha ha.)
But is it really that different? An operational decision with an unintended outcome. What if the personalities were reversed? What if Eric Marsh was the Burn Boss/ICT3 at the House Burner Rx and Paul Gleason was hiking his crew to the ranch when they were overrun by fire?
Would you make sense of those outcomes differently than you currently do?
I’m guessing you would. You might try a little harder to see what you aren’t seeing, actively asking yourself: “What am I missing here?”But that Bad Apple bucket is enticing isn’t it?
It’s a lot less work to just toss the bad operator in and move on. Especially if they are dead. Especially if they weren’t “Agency”. Especially if they didn’t have the right kind of buckle. Especially if, especially if, especially if . . .
If the personalities were reversed this author alleges that Eric Marsh as the Burn Boss/ICT3 at the Los Alamos Rx would have done even more damage and Paul Gleason would never hike his Crew to the Ranch and be overrun by fire. Never! And the diversionary "when they were overrun by fire" statement is a Non sequitur logical fallacy when a conclusion doesn't logically follow its premise.
We are all amazing firefighters. We are all bad firefighters. It just depends on the day and the circumstances. And the outcome.
I know the Bad Apple theory is appealing. And it might even be true sometimes. But don’t get lazy and use it without putting genuine
heartfelt inquiry and introspection into the matter. Acknowledge the fire shifts where you were the Bad Apple. Acknowledge the future shifts where you will be the Bad Apple.
Everyone says: 'We all make mistakes.' I think we all make decisions using everything we have learned and experienced to this point. I think we all care deeply about the people next to us. I think we all want to learn from tragedy and heartbreak. I think we can do better.
Stand accountable for your beliefs. Stand accountable for your expectations. Stand accountable for how you judge the decisions of
others, whether you know them or not. Stand accountable for your contribution to our collective learning."
"There is no way to get around how uncomfortable it is to stand accountable for your decisions.” Paul Gleason
"The View From Here - "This collection represents collective insight into how we operate and why we must alter some of our most ingrained practices and perspectives." (https://www.wildfirelessons.net/HigherLogic/System/DownloadDocumentFile.ashx?DocumentFileKey=554f345f-1986-f00b-bc28-3f1bd498f4fc&forceDialog=0)
"This Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC) publication, first posted in December 2018, provides 16 essays that share a common theme: How and why we in the wildland fire service must alter some of our most ingrained practices and perspectives.
Figure 16. Snippet of Two More Chains "Lots of fires= Lots of reports = Lots of...?" (2015) Vol. 5, Issue 3 Source: WLF LLC
Dotson's post asks us "To Apply the Lessons" and then asks: "What if we knew what to 'do' with accident reports?" Really? We absolutely know what to do! First off, we need to presume that it has an untrustworthy predetermined conclusion and then to proceed accordingly with due diligence and critical discernment in search of the truth and why the accidents occurred.
Dotson also asks these questions about three separate hazard tree fatalities, two in California and one in Idaho. And then he curiously and rather disingenuously slips in one about the options GMHS had on a wildfire: "How much time did Luke Sheehy, Anne Veseth, or Andy Palmer have? Once they realized they were in trouble, how many options did Granite Mountain have?"
We know how much time the GMHS had based on the WFSTAR "Blow-up to Burnover" poster indicating "Yarnell Hill - 52 min." compared to these WFs that had mere minutes to seconds in those three fatal hazard tree incidents.
Figure 17a Teddy Roosevelt image. Source: TRCP Staff, 2011
Figure 17. Blowup to Burnover poster Source: NWCG, WFSTAR
The famous Theodore Roosevelt quote about striving valiantly and daring greatly
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
—Theodore Roosevelt - Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
"Most of these essays originally appeared in Two More Chains or were featured on the LLC’s Blog. From the 'The View from Here'”
"Introduction: This collection of essays—divided into three key categories: Risk, Culture, and Operations—daylights qualities and practices in the wildland fire service across a broad spectrum, from outdated and unwarranted to honorable and profound. We must acknowledge our current culture and its shortcomings while using its strengths to lead change.
"The main intent is to provide awareness for those decision-makers operating at crucial levels who are empowered to influence how we interact with fire across the landscape.
"We must align our perspectives related to risk and exposure if we are to advance our collective interest in the well-being of our workforce and our landscape.
"To fully appreciate the task at hand, we must also fully acknowledge the culture that supports and shapes the work as it’s currently performed. This collection is intended to illuminate the complexity of interacting with wildland fire while revealing the simplicity of shifting perspective. Common understanding will lead to action that will ultimately advance our collective well-being.”
"What actually gives me great hope is that, slowly, more and more leaders are abandoning the Big Lie in favor of the harsh truth that wildland firefighting is a very dangerous profession."
MCS Mark Smith
"The Big Lie Discussion Nuggets (https://www.wildfirelessons.net/HigherLogic/System/DownloadDocumentFile.ashx?DocumentFileKey=65c387e9-eb0f-b1d4-3d5f-e0a54c95f8ba&forceDialog=0) Good comments from WFs worth spending the time reading.
"2016 Two More Chains Fall Issue “The Big Lie” Feedback Responses
"Two More Chains - The Big Lie 2016 Fall 2016 Vol 6, Issue 3"
Everything that I’ve just presented and discussed here is open to more debate. More rigor. More examination. That is exactly the objective of “The Big Lie” essay and of the Honor the Fallen effort.
"Everything that I’ve just presented and discussed here is open to more debate. More rigor. More examination. That is exactly the objective of 'The Big Lie' essay and of the Honor the Fallen effort."
"Two More Chains Winter 2016 Vol 5, Issue 4 "As a survivor, it’s huge to talk about our experience. It helps us to get past it. And it’s so important to let other people know that this could happen to you.”
"Two More Chains 2016 Vol 5, Issue 4 Are You a Survivor?
(https://www.wildfirelessons.net/HigherLogic/System/DownloadDocumentFile.ashx?DocumentFileKey=721f7f79-ecff-583a-9d51-1a4aed7d09bf&forceDialog=0) WF that has never read a SAIT
"Two More Chains Summer 2015 Vol 5, Issue 2 Us and Them Be Nice
The Illusion of Control — Ready to tip some sacred cows?
April 12, 2022 / Wildfirelessons [This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 Issue of Two More Chains.] By Travis Dotson
In this following WLF LLC Two More Chains post, all emphasis is added unless otherwise noted. Albeit hitting on some very worthwhile areas of concern about Wildland Fire Safety, Dotson cunningly and deftly questions the effectiveness and viability of the Standard Fire Orders, "through the use of subtle dialogues and meaningful micro-acts." Even though the YH Fire and GMHS are never mentioned in his article, the message is clear - defend the YH Fire SAIT-SAIR and the GMHS debacle - affectively cloaked in their Honor the Fallen rhetoric.
"In the wildland fire service, we suffer from an 'Illusion of Control'. This illusion is so pervasive it’s never even acknowledged, let alone discussed. The ever-present assumption that complete control is possible puts us in a constant cognitive struggle to make sense of the frequent evidence to the contrary."
"We are not in control of the elements influencing fire, we are not in control of the other humans influencing our situation, and we are not even in control of our own perception of what the situation is."
"In spite of all this uncertainty, as we step into this dynamic and complex environment, we convince ourselves we are in control of our own safety."
"This unconscious self-deception—the illusion of control—is feeding our well-intentioned efforts to 'get better' at our current way of doing things. What if we dropped the illusion and accepted all the instances in which we gamble? Could this acknowledgment provide a new perspective on when and where we are willing and not willing to take chances in this line of work? Maybe"
"I am rather familiar with the fire line. When I’m there I know what the desired outcome is. If I come upon a stretch of line dotted with sketchy leaner snags I tell myself to be 'super heads-up' when I walk through. If I scramble down that piece of dirt and don’t get smashed—especially if a snag creaks and wobbles and I pick up the pace—when I’m back at the truck I can give myself credit for surviving (overestimating the extent of my control). But let’s face it, I was just rolling the dice. And I got lucky."
We gamble? Rolling the dice? And I got lucky?
This author refuses to believe in the luck rhetoric. How does that "luck" thing work anyway? Do you get a few hundred or more when you're born? Can you purchase them anywhere? How about those folks that were unlucky? Where do those "lucks" go?
Figure 18. General George S. Patton quote on luck. Source: AZ Quotes
"Even in the times of being in the right place at the right time or moments of odd coincidences, there’s no luck or chance about it. God is at work in our lives everywhere, every day." (see Isaiah 46:4)
And then there is the WLF LLC HTF video - and the hidden danger of uncritical consumption of their messages. The ambiguous post-truth space in between truth and lie, reason, and instinct. "In the horrifying calculus of self-deception, the greater the pain we inflict on others, the greater the need to justify it to maintain our feelings of decency and self-worth." (emphasis added) Carol Tavris
In this germane statement that follows, George Orwell could so easily be referring to the June 30, 2013, YH Fire and GMHS debacle and how the WLF LLC is dutifully supporting the SAIT-SAIR conclusion while ignoring the truth and supporting the lies.
"We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right." (emphasis added) George Orwell
Figure 19. WLF LLC Honor the Fallen video Source: WLF LLC, HTF, YouTube
As it streams these words along for 26-seconds - "Students of Fire - Hallowed Ground - Sense-making - Self Reflection - Learning - Honor the Fallen" Visit our April 28, 2022, YHFR post titled: "Who Are the Underground Honor the Fallen Group, Couple Dozen Current and Former Federal WFs and FFs, and Others; and What Are Their Underlying Goals and Ulterior Motives for Defending the GMHS Flawed and Ultimately Fatal Decisions and Actions on June 30, 2013?"
According to the picture superiority effect, people will be more likely to remember the message because it’s an image that taps into our emotive impact. Therefore, streaming these words in this order is conditioning the viewer-reader-listener to believe what these HTF individuals are craftily stating, and likely contrary to your beliefs.
"In psychology, this is called priming, and whenever a person sees images, those images and ideas get automatically and involuntarily deposited in the subconscious. Once in the subconscious, those images unknowingly mix with nonfiction information from the real world, inducing entire populations to behave in ways that are contrary to logic and science." (emphasis added) Dr. Carlos Sabillion (Christianity Today 2020)
The Psychologist’s Fallacy: It’s Wrong to Assume that Your Interpretation Must Be Right. Effectivology. A logical fallacy that occurs when an external observer assumes that their subjective interpretation of something represents the objective nature of that thing.
Doyen, Klein, Pichon, Cleeremans (2012) Behavioral Priming: It's All in the Mind, but Whose Mind? PlosOne
Lumer, C. (2019) Unconscious Motives and Actions – Agency, Freedom and Responsibility. Frontiers Psychology, 21 Pervasive influence of unconscious factors on our actions.
Behavioral Economics (online) Conceptual priming is a technique and process applied in psychology that engages people in a task or exposes them to stimuli. The prime consists of meanings (e.g. words) that activate associated memories (schema, stereotypes, attitudes, etc.). This process may then influence people’s performance on a subsequent task.
Neuroskeptic (2013) Social Priming - Does It Work After All? Discover (online) "Roughly speaking, we might say that when someone is faced with two equally good options, even a small and irrelevant prompt can make them pick one over the other term" and some researchers favored the term "behavioral priming."
The authors and others allege that the WLF LLC, in order to maintain their YH Fire and GMHS SAIT-SAIR defense stance, is on a narrow trajectory to beat into the ground discrediting the viability of the tried-and-true Rules of Engagement and Entrapment Avoidance principles as invalid, outdated, problematic, and ill-suited for these modern times.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
Figure 20. HTF Curtis Heaton on the ground (January 2014) Honor the Fallen hike standing where the 19 GMHS made their last stand (left). Explanatory insert (right) Source: WLF LLC
And Looking Back Today
"I relived everything again in the fall of 2013 as I followed in the footsteps of the [GMHS]: Walking through the saddle that led to the [DZ]. Looking down at those markers where the 19 made their last stand. The ranch house/safety zone a few minutes farther". (continued below caption)
Figure 21a. Curtis Heaton on the ground (January 2014) Honor the Fallen hike standing where the 19 GMHS made their last stand. Source: WLF LLC
Heaton continues: "One of my favorite quotes that best describes my efforts in this personal story that I’m about to share with you is from retired U.S. Marine Colonel Eric Carlson: 'All history is remembered history.'”
"If you’re looking for a historical account with complete accuracy, look elsewhere. I have done the best I can to tell the truth. But it is my truth as I remember it, or at least how I have chosen to remember it. I considered researching locations, times, dates, etc. to ensure historical accuracy. But I am not going to pretend to be a historian.
"I am better suited as a storyteller. An old firefighter sharing his memories—accurate or otherwise. To all of my brothers and sisters in wildland fire, thank you for being a part of my life. And to those who have moved on, I hope I do you honor."
"[T]hey selectively remember parts of their life, focusing on those parts that support their own points of view. " Carol Tavris
This is sobering. “Burning to death on a mountainside is dying at least three times . . . First, considerably ahead of the fire, you reach the verge of death in your boots and your legs; next, as you fail, you sink back in the region of strange gases and red and blue darts where there is no oxygen and here you die in your lungs; then you sink in prayer into the main fire that consumes, and if you are a Catholic about all that remains of you is your cross.” (emphasis added) Norman Maclean’s “Young Men and Fire”
Heaton continues: "Again, I can share the physical death, those red and blue darts . . . The difference between me and them? I don’t know. I don’t think firefighters wake-up and ask themselves: What mistakes can I make today? Sh*t happens. Sometimes you just have a bad day and a bad day in the fire business, well, it can be fatal. We should honor the fallen by learning, not judging. I often wonder why I was spared; so I try to pay it forward. Without that experience would I have worked tirelessly to make our community stronger, to focus on leadership and risk, and to eventually rise to the highest qualification levels as Ops and IC, and ending my career as a Regional Fire Director? Probably not. Ultimately, it is not the good days that define us. It’s the bad days. And more importantly, who we become as a result of those bad days. Take care of each other. Heaton; Clear."
Curtis Heaton (2018)
The objective must be a culture whose leaders have the critical thinking
and risk decision tools worthy of people getting a very dangerous job done
with limited means to do it.
Figure 22. Einstein problem-solving quote. Source: Pinterest.com
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle (Classical Greek philosopher, student of Plato and founder of Western philosophy) and "Test all things; hold fast what is good" 1 Thessalonians 5: 21 (NKJV)
And now to address and answer the post title question: Why Has the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Lost Its Ethical Compass Defending The Federal USFS-Funded June 30, 2013, SAIT-SAIR Conclusion of No Wrongdoing?
Much of what follows below was derived from a September 2013 Firefighter Nation article by Mark Revere and even though it deals with mostly Municipal FFs, it applies because so were the GMHS and it should apply across-the-board. It is titled: The Role of Ethics and Morality in the Fire Service (all emphasis is added)
When the Moral Compass Fails
You don’t have to look far to see the need for ethics and morality.
William Penn articulated similar sentiments: “What is wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. Right is still right even if no one else is doing it."
Obviously, both WLF LLC NPS Woods and USFS PNF Apland and others in the WLF LLC are well-educated. ”However, being well-educated doesn’t mean that you’ll always lead an ethical life. How prophetic are these words written 100 years ago by Teddy Roosevelt: 'To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.'”
The citizens we serve hold the fire service in very high esteem–so much so that we are consistently identified as the most respected profession. This respect is based upon the public trust, which in turn is based upon our professional ethics and morality - our values.
We often use the terms ethics and morality synonymously. The reason for this is ethics comes from the Greek word ethos, which means “character.” Morality is from the Latin moralitas, also meaning character. However, there is a difference. Subtle as it may seem, the philosophy of morality is ethics. Morals are beliefs, practices,, or teachings regarding how people conduct themselves, while ethics refers to systems, principles, or philosophy or theory behind them. You live according to your morals, but you adhere to your ethics while doing so.
Mark Twain wrote, “It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”
The American fire service demonstrates physical courage on a daily basis. However, we must also cultivate the moral courage necessary to lead and protect our agencies, ensuring that all members are acting within the agency’s best moral and ethical interests.
Curtis Heaton stated above: "Ultimately, it is not the good days that define us. It’s the bad days. And more importantly, who we become as a result of those bad days." Okay then, so let us learn the complete lessons from what "bad days" the GMHS encountered, including and especially June 30, 2013, which ultimately led up to the fatal YH Fire and GMHS debacle.
Figure 23. Moral Dilemma image Source: Mark Revere (iStockPhoto.com)