After a fire or other incident occurs that had an unfavorable outcome, Wildland fire organizations typically conduct an investigation or review to cipher out lessons that can be learned. That of course can be extremely helpful and can reduce the number of similar accidents down the road. But looking at multiple incidents can uncover trends or themes that could be even more valuable.
The US Forest Service recently completed a “Metareview” of accidents and incidents, including fatality incidents in the agency over a 10-year period (2007-2016).
Five themes emerged:
Fatalities and injuries: Why are they continuing to occur?
Fiscal incentives: How does the current pay structure affect operational strategies and risk management?
Society: How do social and political pressures play into the wildland fire system?
Ecological soundness: How do ecological health and land management factors currently play into wildland fire decision making and strategy planning processes?
Communication/work environment: What do current successes and failures look like in the context of communication and the wildland fire work environment?
The seven-minute video below is an introduction to the effort.
The entire Metareview document can be downloaded as a .pdf, or you can peruse the individual chapters below.
One person who has reviewed much of the document described their impressions to Wildfire Today:
Basically the USFS is actually identifying a lot of their shortfalls and explains the policy issues they are having with conducting prescribed fires; describes that employee pay structures are unethical; describes why the current system by design is causing bad outcomes for employees both mentally and physically, and a lot more. Perhaps the most interesting part about this report is that there aren’t really any solutions offered.
This fall and winter, the Forest Service’s learning team will host webinars for the fire community to introduce the content and demonstrate how this learning tool can be used to transition from singular incident learning to ongoing, multi-format, iterative, shared learning.
Including 9 fatalities, 15 vehicle accidents, and 7 entrapments
The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center has compiled stats on accidents and injuries that occurred in 2019. Their website has links to more information about the four incidents in the “Lessons and Quotes” section.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced that at 8:43 a.m. September 4 one of their engines was involved in a single vehicle rollover. Four firefighters were on board. Three were treated and released, while one was scheduled to remain overnight.
The San Diego County based engine was covering a CAL FIRE station during the Creek Fire.
ABC30 reported that it happened on a rural road in the Porterville area near Avenue 56 and Road 240.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
Injuries to two firefighters were described as minor
(UPDATED at 1:09 p.m. PDT September 5, 2019)
On September 4 the Garden Valley Fire Protection District released a statement confirming that the burnover incident on the Country Fire involved one of their engines and two of their firefighters.
Here is an excerpt:
The two firefighters were transported to UC Davis Medical Center with minor injuries and released later the same day. The fire engine sustained major damage.
In an article on CBS 13 about the burnover, they quoted a radio transmission,“We have a burn over with shelters deployed. On that also would like one medivac helicopter.”
The same day the Fire District issued that statement, they also reported that the result of a recent election will require them to lay off three of their six firefighters. As the changes are phased in the staffing will be reduced from two firefighters to one, and 66 percent of the time that one firefighter will be a qualified paramedic.
(Originally published at 7:40 a.m. PDT September 4, 2019)
An engine was burned over and two firefighters were injured while battling the Country Fire in Northern California Tuesday, seven air miles east of Auburn. CBS 13 quoted a radio transmission,“We have a burn over with shelters deployed. On that also would like one medivac helicopter.”
Tuesday night CAL FIRE said two firefighters had minor injuries on the fire.
Steve Large, a reporter for CBS 13, said CAL FIRE is launching a “Serious Accident Investigation”.
.@Calfire launching a “Serious Accident Investigation” after Garden Valley Fire Department engine is burned over, and two firefighters hurt with minor injuries. Trying to determine how it happened. pic.twitter.com/sjAFIgq3UF
On August 6, 2019 a 72-hour report provided information about a serious injury that occurred August 3 on the East Evans Creek Fire about 18 air miles north of Medford, Oregon:
“On August 3, 2019, at approximately 0230 (PST), a snag fell and hit a member of a 20 person hand crew that was building direct handline on the East Evans Creek Fire during initial attack. The firefighter struck by the snag sustained serious injuries to the head and facial regions.
“The hand crew, along with adjacent fireline resources, initiated an emergency extraction of the injured firefigther via SKED stretcher from the tree strike site on the fireline to a pickup truck, and then to a staged ambulance that was already enroute. From there, the injured firefighter was transferred to a Lifeflight helicopter and airlifted to a regional medical center for treatment.
“The injured firefighter remains in the hospital in critical condition, and a hospital liaison has been assigned to assist the family during this time.
“A Lessons Learned Review Team has been assigned, and is working with the Butte Falls Field Office and Oregon Department of Forestry in Medford to provide a review and detailed report of the incident. The intent of the review is to learn from the events surrounding this incident and prevent future occurrences.”
The August 9, 2019 National Situation Report had the East Evans Creek Fire listed as a suppression fire at 156 acres with 10 hand crews, 16 fire engines, and 5 helicopters for a total of 287 personnel.
The accident was reported by the crew via radio. Members of the 20-person crew trained in first aid began treatment of their injured colleagues immediately.
The other vehicle, a 1996 Lexus, was driven by Linda L. Corr, 66. The report indicates that the Lexus drifted across the yellow line into oncoming traffic and collided with the crew carrier. Ms. Coor was transported by helicopter complaining of pain in her chest.
One of the firefighters was transported by CHP helicopter to Shasta Regional Medial Center. Another was taken by ground ambulance and the other eight were transported by U.S. Forest Service vehicles to local hospitals.
As of May 1 two firefighters were still in the hospital.
The crew had been engaged in chain saw training and were returning to their Redding, California base when the accident occurred on SR-299 west of Burney at 5:10 p.m. As is typical of a Type 1 crew, they were traveling in three vehicles — two crew carriers and a superintendent’s truck.
The Forest Service has released very little information about the incident.