12 Questions for Mike Edrington

Mike Edrington

Today we have the sixth 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 may add to the knowledge base of our new firefighters coming up through the ranks.

Below we hear from Mike Edrington, who retired from the U. S. Forest Service as an Area Commander, with his last position being the Regional Fire and Aviation Director for the combined Pacific Northwest Regional and State offices of the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. Presently he is an associate with OQA, Inc. (an emergency services consulting corporation) and is an Assistant Area Commander on Area Command Team 3.


Mike Edrington
Mike Edrington

When you think of an excellent leader in the fire service, who comes to mind first?
Rick Gale, NPS (retired)

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone before their first assignment as an Incident Commander?
Allow your Command and General Staff to fulfill their roles and responsibilities and spend your time and energy concentrating on the responsibilities of the IC!!!!

If someone is planning a prescribed fire, what is one thing that you hope they will pay particular attention to?
“one of the things” Make sure that all cooperating agencies and other land owners adjacent to your project understand and support the objectives of the project and are part of the contingency planning.

One of the more common errors in judgment you have seen on fires?
Assuming that all communications in operations flow from the OSC to the DIVS to the STL/TFL to the single resource leader without loss of information.

One thing that you know now that you wish you had known early in your career?
One does not need to know everything about a position to be successful (delegation and trusting the knowledge of those working for you).

The stupidest mistake you have seen on a fire?
Burning out in heavy oak brush on the wrong side of the line for ¼ mile.

Your most memorable fire?
The Bitterroot fires of 2000

The funniest thing you have seen on a fire?
Hundreds of yards of copy paper and forms and records and tents floating above the ICP and base after a small “tornado” went through camp. (had to be there)

The first very large fire you were on?
Laramie Peak Fire, 1964, Medicine Bow NF

Your favorite book about fire or firefighting?
The Big Burn

The first job you had within the fire service?
Seasonal crew member, Medicine Bow National Forest, 1964

What gadgets, electronic or otherwise, can’t you live without?
Smart phone and lap top.

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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.