12 Questions for Dick Mangan

Today we have the third 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.

Below we hear from Dick Mangan, who retired from the U.S. Forest Service as the Fire Program Leader at the Missoula Technology Development Center at Missoula. He currently is the owner of Blackbull Wildfire and is an Angus cattle breeder.


Dick Mangan
Dick Mangan, with Molly and Riley

When you think of an excellent leader in the fire service, who comes to mind first?
Of the folks that I’ve worked with over the years, former Northern Rockies IC Steve Frye comes to mind immediately as a top leader. Of non-Fire leaders who have been influential leaders in Fire, Bob Barbee at Yellowstone National Park and Oroville Daniels on the Lolo National Forest really stand out for their courage and commitment to fire.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone before their first assignment as an Incident Commander?
Know your people, trust your people, ask the tough questions, don’t be afraid to admit you are wrong and then try again.

If someone is planning a prescribed fire, what is one thing that you hope they will pay particular attention to?
Never sugar-coat the “worst possible scenario”: plan for it, and if you can’t manage it within prescription, don’t ever light the match.

What was the first very large fire you were on?
Wellman Fire in SoCal in 1966; over 100,000 acres.

What color should fire trucks be?
Red seems to be readily identifiable to the Public, but as a USFS guy for 30+ years, I’m partial to Green.

What was the first job you ever had?
Newspaper delivery boy.

What was the first job you had within the fire service?
Engine crew member at Feather Falls Guard Station, LaPorte RD, Plumas NF in 1964.

What cell phone do you have for personal use?
Real old fashioned Flip phone.

What kind of computer do you have at home?
Dell PC and HP laptop.

What gadgets can’t you live without?
Beer hook and wine corkscrew opener.

What was the first vehicle that you bought?
1956 Chevy step-side pickup.

What was your most memorable vacation?
17 days in Italy with Barb and another couple in 2009, never staying in a hotel, eating and sampling vino in the local communities, and experiencing the local culture.

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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.

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