Out of concern not enough was being done to ensure the safety of wildland firefighters, on Monday, June 23, 2014, a group of retired experts from that community ("Safety Matters") made known their viewpoint by issuing a 17-page report detailing needed changes. Passages below from the Executive Summary tell the story of what you'll find in the report:
“A year has passed since the deaths of 19 firefighters on the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona. Another fire season is now underway. The agencies managing wildland fire have not made any significant changes to existing procedures, nor have they announced any plans for procedural or policy updates for the future. This reflects the apparent perception that the existing system is working as well as can be expected. Safety Matters disagrees.”
Read the full report at the link below:“Safety Matters has identified the following areas in need of immediate change, in order to provide for maximum firefighter safety. They include:
- A benefit analysis of values at risk (homes, private property, public lands) vs. the risk to firefighter’s lives.
- Development of an independent investigative body for serious accidents and fatalities.
- Direct involvement of agency administrators and program managers, especially when fires escape initial attack and incident management teams are mobilizing or in transition.
- Establishing standardized emergency communications protocol.
- Establishing uniformity in mapping systems.“
(Safety Matters, June 23, 2014)
Comment: Wow! This is a well documented, thought provoking report written by individuals who obviously care about the safety of wildland firefighters. Community leadership must now make a choice when responding to this report: Defend the institutional status quo by doing nothing, or fix issues brought to light and thereby enhance wildland firefighter safety. Of particular note from the perspective of EPC Updates is the discussion on pages 16-17 about the need for a standard "language of location" in the wildland firefighting community - U.S. National Grid.