Senate staffer apologizes for office pool on acres burned and aircraft crashes

The Senate staffer who ran an office pool to guess the number of acres burned each year and how many firefighting planes would crash apologized this week. Frank Gladics had been running the annual contest since 2003. It was open to staffers on the House Senate Energy and Appropriations Committees that oversee federal firefighting operations.

Criticism of the pool came from Lynnette Hamm, mother of Caleb Hamm who died on the CR 337 fire in Texas last summer, and the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association.

Robert Dillon, spokesman for the Republicans on the committee, said Gladics started the pool because of his frustration with U.S. Forest Service wildfire management, including the agency’s decision to ground aging aircraft. Dillon said “We certainly understand this is in poor taste and it’s been stopped. There was no disrespect meant and we are horrified anybody would think we disrespect the sacrifices the firefighters have made.”

Frankly, I don’t have a huge problem with a guess-the-acres contest. What bothers me is competing to correctly guess, according to the Grist site that first broke the story,

…how many fire-fighting planes (“fixed-wing, heavy-slurry aircraft”) will crash…

When air tankers crash, the crews almost always die. This contest where the prize is a “When Pigs Fly” hat or a “Holly Jolly Christmas” hat, is extremely disrespectful to the living and dead crews of firefighting aircraft, and all firefighters.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

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.

7 thoughts on “Senate staffer apologizes for office pool on acres burned and aircraft crashes”

  1. My military training has always emphasized that “the best defense is a strong offense”, so I recommend that those of us in the wildland fire community stop bitchin’ and whinin’ about the Senate Staffer’s pool and instead start our own “Congressional Pool”. Here are a few things we can guess and bet on: 1. how many members of Congress will send sexually explicit emails or photos to someone that is not their spouse; 2. how many male members of Congress will father children by someone not their spouse; 3. how many memers of Congress will be indicted for illegal business or election activities; 4. how many members of Congress will be accused of unwanted sexual advances towards members of their Staff or congressional Interns; and the tie-breaher: 5. how many Congressional Staffers will leave their positions to become “whores” for the C Street lobbyists? With only 535 members of Congress, our chances of getting the right answers are way better than betting on acres burned.

  2. Would be nice to get some staffers with actual wildland fire experience in those positions so they can see both sides rather than a bunch of clueless people who have always worn a suit to go to work.

  3. I considered myself a Republican for several years but that changed a couple years ago and appears to have been a smart choice.


Comments are closed.