NPR profiles Jeanne Pincha-Tulley

Jeanne Pincha-Tulley has been a Type 1 Incident Commander for nine years. Almost long enough for the novelty of having a female Type 1 IC wear off among other firefighters.

While her team was managing the Mountain Fire in southern California last month between Idyllwild and Palm Springs, National Public Radio did a profile on her. You can listen to it or read the article at the NPR site.

Below is an excerpt from the article:

…Pincha-Tulley listens and texts other members of the team while Lane continues with his update. Being in the incident commander’s trailer is like being in a hive. There’s a near-constant buzz.

People come in and out; phones ring; radios squawk; lunches go uneaten.

In the time it takes [Operations Section Chief John] Lane to give an update, the area fire chief for Cal Fire walks in, as well as a liaison for the sheriff’s office, a member from communications and a guy from finance. Pincha-Tulley scribbles her signature on a form as a radio update comes in.

“And secondly, the retardant line with the helicopter across that ridge there heading towards the wilderness is progressing really well,” according to the update.

Lane then explains that the fire has crossed over their containment line in one section. They’re calling in the largest air tankers, DC-10s — or VLATs for Very Large Air Tankers, as firefighters call them — to try to box in the new threat before it spreads. Pincha-Tulley asks how that’s progressing when the radio squawks again: “So far we’ve been pretty successful with that.”

“There’s your answer,” Lane tells her. “It’s being dealt with.”

In 2008 and 2010 Ms. Pincha-Tulley was in the news for managing the 48,520-acre Castle Rock Fire in Idaho as well as other fires, here, here, and here.

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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.

2 thoughts on “NPR profiles Jeanne Pincha-Tulley”

  1. Great report by NPR – I’ve worked with Jeanne over the years, and she does an excellent job!
    But the problem for me is that Jeanne has had to be a Type 1 IC for 9 years: sounds like a failure on the part of California’s senior fire managers to move up the next generation of IC’s in a timely manner. Surely California has sent hundreds of qualified folks to 420 & 520 during the past decade? In spite of being the most populous State, they still need to keep folks in the same position for that many years, and also use untold numbers of Fed retirees as rostered AD’s on their teams? (Look at the numbers of folks from the Chester FD).
    California is not alone in this matter: The Great Basin, Northern Rockies, Rocky Mountain and Southwest GACC IMTs are all loaded with members of their “good ole boys club”. Check out the GACC rosters if you doubt me. Do we really need to have a former T-1 IC now serving as a Deputy T-1 IC; how about a rostered T-1 OSC that is more than a decade into retirement? Where is the management responsibility to grow new leaders?
    The top position in the US Military is “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs”: 4 years, and you’re out, not back as a Deputy or an AD. The next generation of Leaders is in the pipeline! Imagine Colin Powell being called back as a Division Commander when/if we invade Iran? Why is the wildland fire organization in the US so different?
    I have no problem with ADSs (I’ve worked as one too) but question why we/they should be filling jobs that Agency folks should normally fill, and why the old “3-year rotation” on IMT’s is being ignored?
    Looking for your thoughts,


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