A student of fire helps launch the Gabbert Fellowship

The IAWF establishment of the Bill Gabbert Fellowship in Wildfire Reporting was initiated by a generous donation from  Mark C. Sedenquist, a long-time supporter of WildfireToday, good friend of Bill Gabbert, and a 50-year student of fire.

Sedenquist worked on the Angeles National Forest in 1973-1974 on Engine 314, and on the Coronado National Forest in 1976 as Silver Peak Lookout.

“Over the last five decades, I’ve become a student of wildland fire,” he told us. “I have many friends in the community — some still serving on incident management teams, others retired.  And just to provide perspective, my home and business burned in the 1993 Altadena Fire in southern California.”

Bill Gabbert, Canada Icefields Parkway
Bill Gabbert on a road trip,
Canada Icefields Parkway

Sedenquist had a long series of email conversations with Bill, and he still serves as a fire reference and resource to others. “Even though I now live in Las Vegas, Nevada, friends and family in California still call me first when they spot smoke in the local hills and want to know what they are looking at. And thanks to the wonder of digital scanners and optical devices, I can usually provide real-time information faster than the local media are providing about their local fires.”

When the Gabbert Fellowship launches its first reporting projects, we’ll be the first to thank Mark Sedenquist, who demonstrates the value of being a student of fire — a concept Bill Gabbert often revisited.

We ask you to join with Mark Sedenquist and others to add your support to the Fellowship fund.

As we solicit donations to help fund the Fellowship, we will also ask for your ideas for what the Fellowship will become — and we’re interested in our readers’ and advertisers’ ideas about its management.

For more on Bill Gabbert’s work, check out these reflections by Chuck Bushey and  Wade Ward.

Bill Gabbert’s fire legacy

Longtime fire journalist Bill Gabbert left us way too soon last year, and many of us will miss him and his contributions to the world of wildfire for a long time to come.

It was pancreatic cancer that took him, and he had a rough go of it for his last year or so, but then he was one of the fortunate few who go quietly and easily in their sleep.

Bill Gabbert, Canada Icefields Parkway
Bill Gabbert on a road trip, Canada Icefields Parkway

When the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) accepted Bill’s generous offer to continue the form, format, and platform of his wildfire journalism websites, we were hoping for many conversations with him, with more time to absorb his advice and knowledge.

Those conversations were far too few, though, and the time far too short. But we are now pleased to announce the BILL GABBERT FELLOWSHIP in Wildfire Reporting, which will fund and mentor and publish the sort of innovative wildfire reporting that Bill exemplified.

An initial donation from a longtime supporter of Wildfire Today helped launch the program. Building on an auspicious start, the IAWF is now accepting donations to honor Bill’s work by developing and supporting a funded program to encourage innovators in wildfire journalism.

To remember Bill and support his legacy into the future, just use the red “Donate Online” link at iawfonline.org/donate – unless you specify otherwise, all donations to IAWF this year will support the BILL GABBERT FELLOWSHIP.

Later this year, officers will announce an application process to screen people and projects that feature reporting by fire-savvy writers and innovative media projects for Wildfire Today and Fire Aviation, with some articles jointly produced with Wildfire magazine.

In the next few posts — by Chuck Bushey and Wade Ward — we  share a few memories  from Bill’s friends and colleagues. Let us know if you have more.