12 Questions for Greg Greenhoe

Greg Greenhoe

Today we have the second article of our series in which we ask current and retired leaders in the wildland fire service to answer 12 questions.

We appreciate everyone who is cooperating with this project. Some of their responses to the first three questions may add to the knowledge base of our new firefighters coming up through the ranks.

Today we hear from Greg Greenhoe, who retired from the U.S. Forest Service as the  Deputy Director of Fire and Aviation Management for the Northern Region, working out of Missoula. Presently he is working as an Emergency Management Consultant and Instructor.


Greg Greenhoe
Greg Greenhoe

When you think of an excellent leader in the fire service, who comes to mind first?
There are so many but the ones that touched my life are Lynn Biddison, Steve Gallegos, Tom Harbour, Chuck Mills and Jerry Williams. They were all great leaders and mentors and made a big difference in my career.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone before their first assignment as an Incident Commander?
Make sure you have qualified, competent people filling the positions on your team and you can’t go wrong. I was blessed with the best bunch of team members when I was an IC. Made the job easy.

If someone is planning a prescribed fire, what is one thing that you hope they will pay particular attention to?
Have a good plan and follow the plan!

What was the first very large fire you were on?
The Wild Bill Fire on the Coconino National Forest, October of 1973. 7,150 acres, not sure we would call that a large fire today! I was a brand new crew boss with an Inmate Crew out of the Federal Prison in Safford, Arizona. It was a pretty miserable crew! A month later I took a Papago (Tohono O’odham) Crew to the Burnt Fire on the other side of the San Francisco Peaks; now that was a great crew!

What color should fire trucks be?
You mean Engines? I really don’t care, as long as they have a good crew and can put “wet stuff on the red stuff!”

What was the first job you ever had?
Timber Stand Improvement Crew on the Tonto NF. It was a youth crew made up of Boy Scouts from Camp Geronimo just below the Mogollon Rim. That was 1965. Our crew boss was Bob Wagenfer who was also a big influence on my starting a career with the Forest Service. He took me on my first fire in 1966.

What was the first job you had within the fire service?
Smoke Chaser on the Coronado NF, Santa Catalina Ranger District, 1972.

What cell phone do you have for personal use?
HTC Android

What kind of computer do you have at home?
HP desktop, HP Netbook and a Kindle Fire HD

What gadgets can’t you live without?
My smart phone and netbook

What was the first vehicle that you bought?
Well I had a hand-me-down 1955 Ford Victoria, but the first vehicle I ever bought with my own money was a 1973 Chevy step-side pickup. Brand new from the dealership!

What was your most memorable vacation?
Well that’s hard but I would have to say Antarctica in 2000. Just an amazing place. Isn’t that funny though… The one continent that doesn’t have a fire problem!

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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.

6 thoughts on “12 Questions for Greg Greenhoe”

  1. I worked with Greg for a number of years on the Cleveland NF (R-5) and was always impressed with the completeness of every task he took on. One hell of a firefighter and in 1970 when I started on the El Cariso Hotshots I was indoctrinated into the forester/technician debate about who the best firefighters were, so he when Greg arrived a few years later, I found him to be the first forester in my career to gain my deep respect for his firefighting abilities. Interestingly I never knew he was on the 1973 Burnt Fire. I watched that fire start while I was camped next to a large Bristlecone Pine on Mt. Humphreys about 5,000 feet above the fire area (on leave from the FS while I was attending Northern Arizona University). Then there was the time Greg almost got Greg Nichols and me killed on US 395 when his leg went to sleep on the accelerator of a truck I was driving to a fire on the Inyo NF….. but that’s a tale for another time. Anyway I would put Greg Greenhoe way up there on the list of the best fire managers I saw during my 34 year career!

      1. Yes, long time and many roads traveled for us. Amazing how successful those members of the 1970 El Cariso Hot Shots turned out to be (although not all in fire service careers). Glad to see that your roads have lead you to such a worthwhile and noteworthy leadership in the wildfire management community!

  2. Great comments from Greg and I enjoyed reading them. I was one of Greg’s primary Operation Section Chiefs with his team during his tenure. The thing I remeber most about Greg’s leadership style was he had the confidence in his people and he gave them the freedom to do their job. Thanks Greg for a great 4-years. Dave

  3. I enjoyed reading Greg’s answers. It seems we may have crossed paths at some time but I didn’t make a long career out of wildfire management (unfortunately). I was on the Baldy Dist of the ANF from 1966-1970, the Mt. Hood NF (Helitack Foreman) 71, NIFC 74-75, FAI-BLM 76, 1st Chief of Wildfire Management (Forester IV) for Territory of Guam 1978-1980. Earned BS in Forestry from Northern Arizona University in ’71. In ministry and social work since then. Looking back on my life, I wish I had stayed on the Dalton Hotshots and had a career with the FS after graduation. Biggest influernces: Chuck Hartley and Paul Gleason. The three of us were on the Loop Fire together.

    1. Bob/Greg,
      Glad to hear from you as many years has passed since I saw you guys. I am still doing ATGS for the New Mexico Type II IMT Team. I retired from Chief of Fire Management with the New Mexico Forestry Division on December 31, 2002. Graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1972. Live in central Colorado now and have worked on a number of fires in Colorado as a AD ATGS.


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