Wildfire briefing, May 24, 2014

The reason one speaker did not show up at a fire conference

I was really looking forward to one of the presentations at the Large Fire Conference last week in Missoula. I confirmed on the schedule the time and room for the talk, got a good seat, and waited for it to begin. Instead of the fire expert that had been advertised, someone made an announcement that the speaker could not make it due to “travel issues”.

I found out today, Sunday, that even though the speaker’s topic had been approved by the program committee, the talk was advertised on the web site and in the program issued on the first day of the conference, the speaker registered for the conference, the talk had been prepared, and a hotel reservation had been made, the person’s employer, the National Park Service, at the last minute did not authorize the travel.

The speaker would have driven to the conference, a two to four hour drive from the place of work. And there would have been some lodging and per diem expenses as well.

Either there is something strange going on at that NPS site, or there is a serious budget problem that makes it very difficult for NPS employees to spend any money on travel, at least at that location.

Marines rescue memorial crosses in front of wildfire

Marines save memorial crosses
Marines save memorial crosses. Photo by Cpl. Marvin Arnold/Marine Corps.

About two dozen wooden memorial crosses at Camp Pendleton in California were rescued and removed shortly before a wildfire on May 16. The crosses represent fallen Camp Pendleton Marines. Below is an excerpt from the Marine Corp Times:

When [Cpl. Marvin] Arnold saw smoke nearing the hill on May 16, he began canvassing his company for volunteers.

“From a distance, you could see one or two of the crosses, and we knew they were going to catch on fire if we didn’t get them,” he said.

Ultimately, Arnold assembled six other Marines and three pickup trucks: two to collect and carry the crosses down from the steep hill, and one to stand as a lookout for the fire. It took the Marines less than an hour to finish their task, but they made it just in time.

“When we were pulling the last two of them out, we were at the edge of the hill and the fire was perhaps 30 feet away from us,”Arnold said.

After they left, the fires burned across the hill. For Arnold, saving the crosses was not just about preserving a piece of Pendleton tradition; it was about saving one of the few memorial locations that Marines can call their own, he said.

Former Marine now a Forest Supervisor in California

In another story about, in this case, a FORMER Marine, Robert Baird, the Deputy Director for Operations for Fire and Aviation Management for the U.S. Forest Service in Washington DC since 2011, has accepted the position of Forest Supervisor on the Los Padres National Forest in Goleta CA. Before he took the USFS job in D.C. Mr. Baird was a Branch Head in the Center For Irregular Warfare with the Marine Corps. Since January, Mr. Baird has been on a detail from the USFS to the State of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as an Acting Deputy Director.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to David and Dick.

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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. Google+

2 thoughts on “Wildfire briefing, May 24, 2014”

  1. We have the a similar problem as the NPS, at the USDA APHIS. We have money for training but none for travel. IMT Aglearn classes really are not the same as face to face team building classes.

    1. Last year I was denied travel money from my sponsoring NPS unit for needed refresher training as a AD helicopter manager. I’m on good terms with the local FMO and he said there was no travel money.
      I went on my own dime.
      I spoke with friends there who are FS ADs and they were funded.

      ADs are often used on fires providing valuable, highly experienced people with flexible schedules and priceless knowledge.

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