Wildfire briefing, February 6, 2014

Arizona: specialty license plate for honoring wildland firefighters

Arizona firefighter license plate proposal

An effort is underway to create a specialty license plate in Arizona to honor fallen wildland firefighters. The cost of the plates will be $25 with $17 of that going to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to help support injured firefighters and families of those firefighters we have lost.

There is only one thing holding this effort back — $32,000 has to be raised to get the program started. The group working on this said:

Our nonprofit is set up, Our account is set up, now we need donations to make this possible! We need your help to reach our goal..and our goal is to start a long lasting/revolving fundraiser that will support injured firefighters and families of those that have lost a firefighter! These plates will be to honor the memory of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Soon you will be able to buy these plates and show your support on your vehicles! But first, we need to raise the money to start them!…every amount helps folks!

You can make a donation at youcaring.com, and more information is on Facebook.

Safety Matters, Topic #1

The Safety Matters group has established their first forum topic:



The idea exists that the Granite Mountain Hotshots died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and sometimes bad things happen. We strongly disagree with this assessment of the situation.

In order to get a clearer view of firefighter fatalities due to entrapment and burnover, we examined wildland fires from 1990 through 2013 where journeyman firefighters have died.

We started with an analysis of all firefighter fatalities that were attributed to entrapment and burnover based on statistics from the NIFC website Historical Wildland Firefighter Fatality Reports. We expanded our analysis to determine the common factors on fires that took the lives of experienced firefighters on eight fires with a total of 44 fatalities.

  • Fire Escaped Initial Attack – 100%
  • Type III Incident – 75%
  • Mountainous w/steep drainages – 100%
  • Fire Danger Rating (Extreme or Very High) – 88%
  • Brush a Major Component of Fuel – 100%
  • Experienced an Exceptional Weather Event – 88%

Question for discussion:  If firefighter safety is truly our Number One Priority, then how and why did 44 highly trained and experienced firefighters perish in this manner? (Especially in light of the fact that their actions did not directly result in saving lives or structures).

We will be exploring some of the more specific contributing reasons in the near future. We would now like to hear your thoughts on the question for discussion. Thank you for your participation in Safety Matters!

Facebook: Safety Matters: A Wildland Firefighter Forum for Change
Twitter: @FFSafetyMatters  ”

The Telegraph writes about the Yarnell Hill Fire

Mick Brown has written a long article for The Telegraph about the tragic fire that killed 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots on June 30, 2013 in Arizona. I have not had a chance to read it yet, but Mr. Brown did quite a bit of research, talking to quite a few people including yours truly.


Thanks and a hat tip go out to Hermione, Holly and David

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

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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.

5 thoughts on “Wildfire briefing, February 6, 2014”

  1. In the trades, an apprenticeship is generally 5 years and 10,000 documented hours of work and schooling at night and on the weekends.

    1. So, how about those that died on “Dude”; and “South Canyon” and “Thirtymile”; and “Cramer”; and “Esperanza”; and, yes – even “Yarnell”? Were all of those folks “journeymen/journeywomen”? And what about the long-term volunteers who have died in burnovers too – don’t their years of training and experience matter? Just asking?

    1. According to Wikipedia:

      A journeyman is a man who has completed an apprenticeship and is fully educated in a trade or craft, but not yet a master. To become a master, a journeyman has to submit a master work piece to a guild for evaluation and be admitted to the guild as a master. Sometimes he is required to accomplish a three-year working trip, also called the Journeyman years.


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