BLM firefighters honored as heroes

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This involves the crash of single engine air tanker 458 on July 17, 2007.

Associated Press – May 28, 2008 7:44 PM ET

RENO, Nev. (AP) – Five federal firefighters from Nevada and four from Montana have been recognized as heroes for their courageous rescue of a pilot whose air tanker crashed in the path of a quickly advancing wildfire south of Winnemucca last summer.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne recently presented them with the department’s prestigious valor award in recognition of the bravery and decisive action taken by the members of the Bureau of Land Management fire crew members based in Winnemucca and Lewiston, Mont.

The July 17 rescue occurred after a large lightning storm ignited the 8,000-acre Barrel Springs Fire.

The pilot of a single engine air tanker crashed while trying to make a strategic retardant drop so the crews cleared a buffer and scrambled to slow the fire’s advance toward the plane. They grabbed the disoriented pilot, removed him from the crash site and helped him remove his fuel-soaked clothes.

As they drove away, the flames consumed the plane.

Kempthorne presented the awards at a ceremony in Washington on May 13 to Mike Hendrickson, Lester McDonald, Mike Sperry, Scott Brandt, Mike McMaster and Andrew Snyder of Nevada, and Andrew Rishavy, Andrea Robinson, Scott Meneely and Steven Spellberg of Montana.

Cabela's employee discount for firefighters

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Cabela’s is offering an employee’s discount to firefighters and law enforcement officers June 2-4. It is only valid in their stores, not catalog or Internet orders. Here is a link to a 4.7 MB flyer. More details from their web site:

Hometown Heroes Sales Event
Cabela’s Retail is hosting an Appreciation Day for all Emergency Response team members, Firefighters, Law Enforcement, Military and Veterans. Stop in and receive Employee Discount with valid identification. Cabela’s appreciates all that you do! Certain restrictions do apply* Contact Store Event Coordinator for more information.

*During regular store hours, must show valid identification, Exclusions include but are not limited to Boats, Firearms, Ammunition, ATV’s, Trailers, Gift Cards, Gift Certificates, Licenses and certain other items. Discount can not be combined with any other offer and is on regular priced merchandise only.

Rumor has it that the employee discount varies from 0-25%, depending on the item.

10th Wildland Fire Safety Summit

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The International Association of Wildland Fire announced today their preliminary plans for a Wildland Fire Safety Summit next year. For this 10th conference in the series, they are still negotiating with a venue, but it is expected to be in Phoenix, April 28-30, 2009. Dick Mangan will be the IC or Chair.

Major emphasis areas for the Safety Summit will include:

1. 10 years after the Tri-Data Study: what is different?
2. Aviation Safety on Wildfire Operations;
3. Issues in Wildfire Safety around the World;
4. Safety in the emerging Wildland-Urban Interface.
5. New research in Wildland Fighter Safety practices, training and equipment
6. Firefighter Health and Fitness

If you would like to help put the conference together, contact Dick Mangan at:
blackbull at

They will issue a call for papers later.

Increased risk of bladder cancer for firefighters

It seems like there are more and more chronic diseases that firefighters are predisposed to get. Now you can add bladder cancer to the list.

ScienceDaily (May 15, 2008) — A new study presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) suggests that firefighters may be at an increased risk of developing transitional cell carcinoma (TCC, or bladder cancer) and should be considered for routine annual screening. Currently, no guidelines exist for regular TCC screening.

Researchers are from the University of California, San Francisco.

It is well known that prolonged exposure to certain environmental pollutants and chemicals puts humans at a major risk for developing bladder cancer. As the body absorbs carcinogenic chemicals, such as cigarette smoke, the chemicals are transferred to the blood, filtered out by the kidneys and expelled from the body through the urine. Greater concentrations of chemicals in the urine can damage the endothelial lining of the bladder and increase a patient’s odds of developing transitional cell carcinoma (TCC). Firefighters, who are regularly exposed to smoke and chemical fumes, may be at a higher risk for developing the disease than other groups.

Researchers explored this possibility in a screening study of 1,286 active and retired San Francisco firefighters. From August 2006 to March 2007, the subjects – mean age 45 (SD+9.7) – participated in voluntary urine dipstick testing and point-of-care NMP-22 testing. 93 Patients tested positive for hematuria and six tested positive for NMP-22. These 99 patients were referred for upper tract imaging, cystoscopy and urine cytology. Of the group, a single firefighter tested positive for both NMP-22 and hematuria, with two patients – both retired firefighters – ultimately diagnosed with TCC.

The age and sex-adjusted incidence for TCC is 36 per 100,000. These findings represent a higher incidence, suggesting that retired firefighters may be a high-risk group.

In Canada, the British Columbia government recognizes as an occupational hazard for firefighters the following diseases:

  • testicular cancer
  • lung cancer in non-smokers
  • brain cancer
  • bladder cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • ureter cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • leukemia

This means that full-time, volunteer, part-time, and paid on-call firefighters suffering from the diseases will qualify for worker’s compensation and benefits, without having to prove individually that the diseases are linked to their jobs.

Rather sobering, don’t you think?

California: Summit fire progression map

I just finished teaching a Situation Unit Leader S-346 class. Much of the class is about maps. The next time I teach it in September, I’ll use this fire progression map produced by the Mercury News as an example of what can be done. It includes some interesting facts about the fire that most official firefighter-made maps would not have, but it’s a great product for public consumption.

According to the map, within the first 16 hours the fire spread at least 5 miles and burned 3,376 acres.

Click on it to see a larger version.

Summit fire progression map