Jeff Allen. Shane Heath. Josh Oliver. Bill Buttram. Steven Rucker. Eva Schicke.
These names mean something to Colorado Firecamp. These names mean something to the people who visit our website and read the accounts of firefighter deaths. These names mean something to those who read fatality investigation reports and want things to change in the fire service.
These six names represent our target audience of at least 500,000 firefighters in the United States.
They are six names from four fatality incidents: the Point Fire of 1995, the Cramer Fire and Cedar Fire of 2003, and the Tuolumne Fire of 2004. Included in this list are two volunteer firefighters, a career fire engineer, a state firefighter and 2 federal firefighters. They happen to fit the demographics of our formal assessment.
In 2000, the U.S. Forest Service compiled the statistical analysis, “Wildland Firefighter Entrapments 1976 to 1999” which concluded:
That complacency apparently runs deeps, as shown in “A Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service” conducted by the U.S Fire Administration and National Fire Protection Association in December 2002. Complacency almost screams in this statistic:
“An estimated 41% of fire department personnel involved in wildland firefighting lack formal training in those duties, with substantial needs in all sizes of communities.” (USFA/NFPA, 2002)
Two of our six names fit that category. They are part of this statistic:
The actual number fire department personnel involved in wildland fire is unknown. The USFA/NFPA survey questions did not gather that information. It seems safe to say that it is something over half a million firefighters. It is known that the federal agencies employ or contract an average of 30,000 firefighters and support personnel each wildfire season.
Another formal risk assessment was conducted by the U.S. Forest Service in 2004. A briefing paper written by USFS training coordinator Jim Cook, entitled “Trends in Wildland Fire Entrapment Fatalities” provides a statistical analysis of 329 firefighter deaths attributable to wildland fire entrapment during a 71 year period, with an average of 4.6 deaths per year.
Our six names died in three years (1995, 2003 and 2004) accounting for exactly 2.0 deaths per year.
During the time period of 1933-2003, fire entrapments accounted for 35% of all firefighter fatalities on wildland fires. The other 3 major causes of death are “gravity (hazard trees, rolling rocks, and falls), transportation (vehicle and aircraft incidents), and fitness (heart attack and heat stress).” (Cook, 2004)
The “Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study” published by the U.S. Fire Administration in April, 2002 furthers clarifies the risks:
Five of our six names were under the age of 30.
With regard to current and future risk, the “Trends” briefing paper states:
In April, 2004, a report was released by the Firefighter Life Safety Summit. The report included 16 initiatives to reduce the national rate of 100 firefighter fatalities per year. The report states:
One of the 16 initiatives (which have evolved into the “Everyone Goes Home” project) is #9: “Thoroughly investigate all firefighter fatalities, injuries, and near misses.” The report further explains:
The usefulness of learning lessons from fatality investigations was the basis of a paper presented at the Eighth International Wildland Fire Safety Summit, in April, 2005. J. A. Thackaberry, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Communication at Purdue University, wrote a presentation entitled, “Wisdom in the Lessons Learned Library: Work Ethics and Firefighter Identities in the Fire Orders.”
We believe the texts of our six names carry a moral force. With some
work, we hope to bring forth the moral force of other names. In a collaborative,
“open source” effort, we will cut through information overload
and interpret historic texts to apply to present day circumstances. Lessons
will be learned.
|© 2005-2008 Colorado Firecamp, Inc.||home schedule blog ENGB facility about us FAQ's|