Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Report Chides Wildland Firefighter Leadership on Deaths

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.”
“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.“
Read the full report at the link below:

(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


  1. Go to as FSOMLE and Safety Matters are working together to make them change. FSOMLE sent a 32 page report to NWCG, USFS, and USDA and it has gotten some major attention. FSOMLE also sent it to a Senator to inform him of the issues. FSOMLE stands for Fire Service Organizational, Management, Leadership, and Ethics.

  2. How long will be status quo be tolerated? I know that humans make errors, but they should at least TRY to 'change' the problem areas in wildfire containment that continues to take the lives of our men and women that put their lives in hazardous positions..AT. LEAST.TRY.

    1. Trying to make a difference is what @fsomle and @ffsafetymatters is trying to get accomplished for the wildland firefighter. We are bucking a group that thinks there record is commendable. Pride cometh before a fall though. There has been over three decades they have had chances to change to make lasting and effective change, but it has not happen. Only people like you can join the effort for change and help us. The more that we bring a solid front the politicians and administration will get the message. That is our mission to never give up. Thanks for your comment as it expresses everyone's concern.