Every wildland firefighter should see this video.
It includes numerous interviews of wildland firefighters who were involved with, or were on scene during the entrapment and deaths of 14 firefighters on the 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain in Colorado.
With criminal charges being thrown around following mistakes made on fires in recent years, it is extraordinary to see firefighters speak so freely about a disaster that occurred on a wildland fire. The people being interviewed deserve a great deal of credit and praise for their participation.
Some of the opportunities for lessons learned include:
- You are responsible for your own safety.
- Take care of your fellow firefighters.
- If you see something, say something.
- Question decisions if they have the potential to adversely affect your safety.
- Downhill line construction can be very dangerous.
- Be a student of fire.
- Know your fire orders, fire situations, and LCES (lookouts, communications, escape routes, and safety zones).
- Maintain situational awareness. Trust your instincts and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Leadership and safety start at the ground level.
There were other lessons learned as well. What stood out to you?
None of this is earthshakingly new information. Experienced firefighters have heard it all before, but not necessarily from people who know very intimately WHY it is important.
The more you are exposed to this hard-earned knowledge, especially when it comes from survivors, it may actually stick. And new firefighters can’t hear it enough.
The firefighters who died on the South Canyon fire were:
- Prineville Hotshots: Kathi Beck, Tamera Bickett, Scott Blecha, Levi Brinkley, Douglas Dunbar, Terri Hagen, Bonnie Holtby, Rob Johnson, Jon Kelso.
- Missoula Smokejumper: Don Mackey
- McCall Smokejumpers: Roger Roth, Jim Thrash.
- Helitack: Robert Browning, Jr., Richard Tyler.
More information about the South Canyon Fire: