Kyle Dickman: “Stop expecting firefighters to save your homes”

Kyle Dickman, a former wildland firefighter and author of a just released book about the Yarnell Hill Fire on which 19 firefighters were killed, has written an opinion piece for CNN titled Stop expecting firefighters to save your homes.

Below is an excerpt from the article on CNN:

…But asking firefighters to risk their lives to save unprepared homes from the most volatile blazes is like asking the National Guard to control a hurricane. It’s negligent. Even still, firefighters want to help people and put their training to use, and it can be hard for these brave men and women to recognize the limits of their abilities…
In the aftermath [of the Yarnell Hill Fire], some of the 127 homeowners who lost their houses during that blaze sued the State of Arizona for failing to protect the town. The judge threw out the lawsuit, and in doing so, gave active support to the rarely spoken truth that firefighters simply cannot stop the highest intensity fires. We’re witnessing that reality now more than ever…

Mr. Dickman’s book is titled On The Burning Edge: A Fateful Fire and the Men Who Fought It.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Kyle Dickman: “Stop expecting firefighters to save your homes””

  1. What few realize is that the suit against the State is due to the fact that they refused help to control or extinguish the fire before it got to the stage that created the devastation and deaths.

  2. If memory serves, didn’t the Pacific Biodiversity Institute do a mid-July 2013 report based on before- and after-fire photo analysis, concluding that many Yarnell Hill homes were doomed or at very high risk of loss, and showing that which structures were lost was fairly predictable?

    1. I believe this is the report you are referring to:

      Their assessment based on Google earth was that 89% of homes were in direct contact with vegetation fuels.

      Preliminary assessment of structure damage (this report was released July 2013) show their identification of not fire-safe homes was correct 30% of the time (the homes they guessed would burn did), while only 5% of the time were they wrong in evaluating a home as fire-safe (the homes they thought would not burn actually did).


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