Federal government to spend $18 million to rebuild fire station destroyed by Dolan Fire

The federal government has balked at paying for the treatment needed by a firefighter who was severly injuried during the burn over

Dolan Fire deployment site
Dolan Fire deployment site. Engine & pickup. Image from the report

Congress has set aside $18 million to rebuild a US Forest Service fire station that was destroyed in the Dolan Fire in the Los Padres National Forest in Southern California in 2020.

The fire had been burning for weeks. The night before it reached Nacimiento station on Nacimiento-Fergusson Road 7 miles from the California coast highway on September 8, 2020, the fire ran for about three miles toward the station, burning 30,000 acres with spot fires three-quarters of a mile ahead. The fire personnel at the station during the burnover included two USFS engine crews, two dozers with operators, and the only Division supervisor working the night shift due to a shortage of personnel.

Below is an aerial photo of the Nacimiento guard station taken almost exactly two years before the burnover.

Nacimiento Station
Nacimiento Station, satellite photo, September 7, 2018.

Fifteen firefighters deployed into only 13 fire shelters. Four were injured and three were hospitalized. One had very serious burns.

The Forest Service will use the funding to replace the fire station, barracks, engine garage, and pumphouse, as well as a water well, solar connections, and access roads.

These funds were provided as Supplemental Disaster Funding through the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act of 2021.  The disaster assistance funding is a share of the $1.36 billion of supplemental appropriations provided to the Forest Service.

The federal government balked at paying for treatment for injuries to one of the firefighters

According to The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, California, one of the firefighters severly injured in the burn over is still dealing with not only his on-the-job injuries, but attempting to get the government to pay for his treatment:

Casey Allen said Monday that healing from his second- and third-degree burns is continuing, with only a few small wounds left on his ankles, and his Achilles tendon on his right foot is almost completely healed.

However, the news about Allen’s injured left hand wasn’t as good: Doctors may have to amputate his ring and pinkie fingers.

He credited U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal and his district representative Wendy Motta with finally breaking a stubborn repayment logjam so Allen and his wife Tina, who he called “my rock,” could be repaid for money they had to pay out of pocket toward his recovery.

Mr. Allen’s fiancée at the time set up a GoFundMe account for him. She wrote, “He will need hospital services for the next year at a minimum.”

Mr. Allen is suffering one of the ultimate indignities — being severely injured in a life-changing on-the-job incident, and your employer, the U.S. government, is balking at stepping up and providing the payment for your desperately needed medical treatment. The Office of Workers Compensation needs to be funded adequately by Congress so it can rebuild its staff and respond PROMPTLY to situations like this.

Casey Allen
Casey Allen

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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.

8 thoughts on “Federal government to spend $18 million to rebuild fire station destroyed by Dolan Fire”

  1. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires and provides a funding mechanism for rebuilding damaged/destroyed historical structures. I am not aware of any Act requiring the federal government to properly treat federal employees injured on the job to today’s medical standards of adequate, much less get them back to whole. We cannot even properly take care of our military veterans, much less Forestry Technicians. Keep fighting…

  2. Mr Allen was on the job working for the Federal Government, as my husband has. Any one of us might have to go into bankruptcy to pay for medical treatment as Mr Allen and his wife have, if they aren’t reimbursed. It should not be an issue at all, ever, period.

  3. It’s a god damn despicable shame that the Gov expects their people to go into harms way and then turns their back on their people when they’re injured. People need to be outed and F**+%%# FIRED over these situations.

  4. I am going to reach out to my elected officials and the Grassroots group with a proposal for an addition to a bill. Enough is enough with these stories. Between the USFS and OWCP it’s like eating a soup sandwich while swinging a football bat.

    “Any Federal Wildland Firefighter that gets seriously injured while engaged in firefighting operations should be eligible for free treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.”

  5. I had an injury. I filed the paperwork and my claim was rejected. After years and years in EEOC, they finally settled with me. The case cost the government over a million dollars, but they settled with me for mere pennies on the dollar. The amount didn’t cover all of the medical or lawyer bills. It’s sad (but not surprising) that they do not take care their people. I understand the anger and frustration, but this will not end, because the system is built to cheat the employee. The lawyers get paid to cheat you. A lawsuit will last for 5, 10, 15 years and cost them millions of your tax dollars. Why not give the injured person that money in 1-2 months. It would actually save the agency and the employee money. We have to change the way lawyers think of success. Instead of saying I worked on a million dollar lawsuit for the last 15 years, say I worked hard to give a million dollars to a firefighter who was injured on a fire and I did it in 2 months. I understand the frustration. I really do, but after fighting the NPS/FS I also understand the reality. They are not there to help you. Their job is to save the agency. Good luck everyone! Stay safe!

  6. I hope GR is making this their priority now, they are in the best position to make changes. Pretty sad that this can’t be handled in a timely manner.

  7. This is embarrassing, if this was not so disgusting it would be almost funny, to think that the big green machine and OWCP would leave this family hung out to dry, Go Fund Me…..REALLY……OK I am now laughing out of pure disbelief..Aughhhhhhhh!!!!!!! We have to do better….We just do….
    Again where is the accountability for the property loss, are you kidding….you could not even see the station with the dense canopy cover, I remember when I started we used to keep our fire station very much fire proof, it was our job….what the heck happened at Nacimiento….really what….those folks should not have been there when the fire came into the compound….Period. How sad to not have created defensible space, shoot they had 3 weeks and heck another 50+ years to get this right….it makes me very angry that we just look past all the nonsense.
    I truly pray for the very best for the Allen family they deserve much better….they deserve the very best and to worry who will pay for this is heartbreaking.
    Shameful is what it is, pure and simple……..Man this ticks me off……

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