Rest in peace Len Dems

Len DemsWe were saddened to learn today that Len Dems passed away last night, December 5. Len had been the Regional Fire Management Officer for the National Park Service’s Intermountain Region since February of 2005. He had been battling cancer since last summer when he was diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma of the spleen.

I have known Len for about 20 years and worked with him occasionally on fires, all-risk incidents, and various projects. He was very well-respected in the wildfire community for his leadership, intelligence, and good nature. Len could very easily break into a smile at the least provocation.

The National Park Service has a page devoted to his professional life. Here is an excerpt about his recent years:

…Len was promoted to the GS-14 Regional Fire Management Officer position in February 2005. He has held that job until retirement. He is a respected leader in Fire and Aviation Management by his organization, state cooperators, and the interagency Federal fire agencies.

His ‘Red-Card’ reads: Incident Commander T-2, Plans Chief T-2 and Prescribed Burn Boss Type 1, along with several other qualifications.

He served on interagency fire overhead teams throughout his career as well as NPS All-Risk overhead teams, notably during the Yosemite Flood of 1997. He was instrumental in development of and participation with the original Interagency Wildland Fire Use Teams. He has developed the configurations of the Fire Use Modules and the Alpine Hot Shots, based nearby in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Other notable accomplishments include his participation on the original cadre for the first national Prescribed Burn Boss course RX-90, NPS representative and cadre member for Advanced Wildland Fire Applications S-580, cadre on the course development for the Fire Program Management Course and the Region 2 regional lead for its field presentation, author of the original NPS Business Rules for the FIREPRO budget, active member of the FIREPRO steering committee. In addition, he was engaged with numerous task groups and subcommittees, serving as chairperson and ongoing NPS representative to the Region 1 coordinating group.

Len participated in numerous incident reviews most notably the Cerro Grande Fire Board of Inquiry and Dutch Creek Board of Review and many others in the western States.

A CaringBridge web site had been providing his friends with updates on his condition.

From the NPS Morning Report, the plans for the services are:

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 9th, at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church, 6673 W. Chatfield Ave, Littleton, CO 80128 (map).  Following the memorial service, a Celebration of Len’s Life will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Denver Botanical Garden’s Green Farms Barn located at C470 and Wadsworth (map).  NPS employees attending the services are encouraged to wear Class A uniforms, Boy Scouts are encouraged to wear Class A uniforms and firefighters are encouraged to wear Nomex.

Condolences may be sent to Jenny Dems 7322 S. Miller St, Littleton CO. In lieu of flowers the family request that donations be made in Len’s name to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and/or donate blood in Len’s name. Non-perishable food, toys, etc. are being collected at the Celebration of Life to donate to a local charity.

Rest in peace, Len.

Len Dems
Len Dems on the left with some other guy 😉 January, 2008. Photo: Marsha Rogers

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

10 thoughts on “Rest in peace Len Dems”

  1. I just stumbled on to this – thanks for all the wonderful words. He would be so suprised and honored. The boys and I appreciate all the entries.

  2. Sorry to hear of the sudden passing of the well respected IMR FMO Len Dems.
    Len brought interagency coordination from just a nice concept to full implementation in the positions he worked in which is a tremendous task to achieve. We will all continue to benefit from his work for years to come.

  3. What a professional and also a wonderful individual we lost. Always thinking about others before himself. You will be missed down here but must have an important job to do in heaven.

  4. His friends at Shenandoah National Park remember him fondly. He was a fine man and a thorough professional.

  5. I’m sorry to hear of Len’s death.
    He was a good person to know and work with along with a detailed understanding of fire and all risk.

    It’s sad to see him gone before his time.

  6. Len was an oustanding person and a good friend. He will be missed!

    Rest in Peace my friend!


  7. Len was my Deputy IC and treasured friend! He will be missed and the void he leaves behind will be felt by his fire family! RIP my friend! and Cheers to a new beginning of no pain, sickness and sorrow!


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