2008 wildland fire fatalities, entrapments, serious accidents

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s Safety and Health Working Team has issued a “2008 Safety Gram” which can be found HERE.

Below is the cover letter that was attached:

To: Chair, National Wildfire Coordinating Group


From: Chair, Safety and Health Working Team

Date: February 2, 2009

Subject: 2008 SAFETY GRAM

The 2008 SAFETY GRAM is attached. It summarizes reported wildland fire fatalities, burnovers/entrapments and other serious accidents for all wildland fire management organizations throughout the United States in 2008.

Twenty-five fatalities occurred in 2008 when employees were performing wildland fire management activities. This is a substantial increase from the nine fatalities that were reported in 2007. The 2008 fatalities are listed by category below:

  • Driving – 2: Two fatalities occurred while firefighters were responding to a wildland fire.
  • Entrapment/Burnover – 1: One fatality occurred while firefighter was doing fire reconnaissance.
  • Medical Emergencies – 3: Three fatalities have occurred; one responding to fire, two heart attacks while fighting fire.
  • Hazard Tree/Snag – 1: One fatality occurred; firefighter was struck by falling tree top.
  • Aviation – 14: One fatality occurred when a S.E.A.T. crashed. One fatality occurred in a medical helicopter mid-air collision. Nine fatalities occurred when an S-61N crashed and burned. Three fatalities occurred when a P2V retardant plane crashed and burned on take-off.
  • Other – 4: Two individuals (VFD and Deputy Sheriff) hit by semi while directing traffic near fire. One fatality occurred when firefighter fell from cliff while scouting fire. One fatality occurred when a grader operator jumped from equipment and sustained head injuries.

Accident prevention is enhanced when firefighters and fire managers are made aware of serious accidents that have occurred over the year and can identify where our future safety emphasis areas should be. Please provide wide distribution of the 2008 SAFETY GRAM to your respective agencies and organizations. The SHWT will also distribute the Safety Gram via NWCG Safety Alert System and post to the SHWT website.


Please feel free to contact me at (208) 387-5175 or michelle_ryerson at nifc.blm.gov if you have any questions or need additional information.

s/s Michelle G. Ryerson

Thanks Dick.

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