US Fire Administration releases information about line of duty death of Allen Johnson

Died the same day he was admitted to a hospital

Allen Johnson
Allen Johnson

Today’s announcement by the US Fire Administration about the line of duty death of retired US Forest Service firefighter Allen Johnson provides information that previously had not been widely known.

Allen Johnson was a retired 40-year Forest Service veteran serving as a Liaison Officer on the French Fire in California when he contracted COVID. He was working as an Administratively Determined (AD) employee on the Incident Management Team. On September 8, 2021 the Forest Service confirmed his death but with few other details.

The USFA announcement states that Allen was exposed to COVID-19 on the French Fire, tested positive August 24, placed in isolation at the incident, and transported to the hospital on Aug. 31, 2021 where he passed away that day.

That was not a typo. After testing positive he was in isolation at the incident for eight days, then transported to a hospital where apparently he died within a matter of hours.

Below is the text from the USFA announcement:

The U.S. Fire Administration has received notice of the following firefighter fatality:

Allen Johnson
Liaison Officer

United States Forest Service, Stanislaus National Forest, Sonora, CA

While assigned to the French Fire near Kernville, CA, Liaison Officer Allen Johnson became ill and tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 24, 2021. There were other confirmed cases of the virus on the French Fire. Liaison Officer Johnson was placed in isolation at the incident and transported to the hospital on Aug. 31, 2021 where he passed away.

Age: 68
Gender: Male
Status: Wildland Part-Time
Years of Service: 49
Date of Incident: August 24, 2021
Date of Death: August 31, 2021

Allen began working for the Forest Service as a seasonal employee in 1972 on the Angeles National Forest. In 1975 he received his first permanent appointment on the Cleveland National Forest as a firefighter before becoming superintendent on the El Cariso Interagency Hotshot Crew. He finished his career as district fire management officer on the Stanislaus National Forest, from which he retired in March 2010. Throughout his career he was a well-known incident commander and liaison officer assigned to two different California Incident Management Teams.

The Union Democrat, based in Sonora, CA, has a very good article about Allen.

We are thankful that the US Fire Administration has released facts on wildland firefighter line of duty deaths that have not been disclosed by the federal land management agencies.

May he rest in peace.

Other articles on Wildfire Today about line of duty deaths of wildland firefighters related to COVID-19.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

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.

6 thoughts on “US Fire Administration releases information about line of duty death of Allen Johnson”

  1. Bill, without knowing more details about his condition throughout the days he was in isolation it’s hard to validate my frustration.
    Thanks for not letting this go, any updates on how this was handled would be appreciated.

    RIP brother.

  2. Lots of people have died of COVID that they contracted on fires. IMTs have been released early during PL5 because of covid compilations (and resulting deaths), but it has all been kept under wraps. The PNW was especially hit hard, but not a word from the federal government. No wonder people are leaving so quickly. We do an FLA after a near miss, why not after teams and crews have COVID deaths?

  3. This information brings forth many questions.
    -Was Allan being monitored by an MD on the incident,
    -Why was he not sent home, home could mean his local hospital
    -Yes certainly Line of Duty, but maybe wrongful death, how can someone receive adequate care on an incident
    -Did Allan have a pre disposition concerning his health, it does not appear to be so
    -Why the lack of transparency by the agency, maybe for respect of Allan’s family

    I hope the various agencies take a very hard look at their actions concerning Covid management so as to avoid putting folks in harms way again in 22.
    Lastly this is all together very sad, especially for Allan’s family, this is not even a consideration of ones family that one could come into harms way on incident considering a disease like Covid, we assume that all CDC precautions are being taken.

    Bill I hope you dig deeper, there’s more to this story that needs to be told out of respect to Allan…..

    My sincere condolences to Allans family…….

  4. I was fortunate to know Allen when I worked on the Klamath NF. He was one of my favorite ICs to host. A quite, yet strong, leader. A kind and caring man. A smart and exceptional firefighter. I was so stunned and sad to hear of his death. And as the circumstances continue to unfold I find myself confused and angry. And really disappointed in the USFS for many reasons. We are almost two years into COVID-19 — can we not do better?

  5. Allen was just a great guy, a true professional and leader. It’s such a loss.
    Thank you, Bill, for following up on the story.
    My heart goes out to his family and I wish them only good memories and peace.

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