The passing of an icon: Rick Gale

Richard T. Gale passed away at his home in Boise, Idaho Friday night, March 27.

Rick had been an icon in interagency fire management and in the National Park Service for decades. He was one of the first Type 1 Incident Commanders and Area Commanders, was Chief Ranger at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area north of Los Angeles, Chief Ranger of the National Park Service, and the National Fire Management Officer for the National Park Service.

Rick was the Area Commander during the 1988 Yellowstone fires and was the Incident Commander of the first Type 1 All-Risk Incident Management Team formed by the National Park Service in 1991.  (The team is shown in the photo below.)

For 25 years he was involved in S-520, Advanced Incident Management and S-620, Area Command as an instructor, evaluator, and Steering Committee Chairperson.

Hurricane Andrew Incident Management Team
NPS Type 1 All-Risk Incident Management Team at Hurricane Andrew, southern Florida, August, 1992. Left to right: Bill Gabbert (Planning Section Chief), Steve Holder (Logistics SC), Bill Pierce (Operations SC), Marcia Blazak (Finance SC), Rick Gale (Incident Commander, sitting w/white shirt & sunglasses), Pat Tolle (Information Officer)

After his retirement in 2002 following 41 years with the NPS he continued his involvement in wildfire by consulting. He served two 3-year terms on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Wildland Fire, retiring from the board in December, 2008 after serving the maximum number of consecutive terms allowed.

I worked with Rick many times in a large variety of situations and incidents.  He had the willingness to do the right thing even if it meant battling stupid rules.

When he worked in the NPS Washington office there was a sign on the wall at the end of the hall that said: “What have you done for a park today?”… a concept that is a little too rare in Washington these days.

UPDATE, March 30

The remembrance celebration for Rick Gale will be scheduled for mid-day on Friday, April 3 in Boise, for those who may be making travel arrangements.  When more specific details are available, we will post them here.

UPDATE, March 31

THIS POST has the details about the funeral or remembrance service.

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