1. #1
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    Default 3 of 4 lost F/F's had 1 week training?

    It would seem from the local news reports that many of the wildland firefighters on the scene of the fatal fire in WA State were teenagers, part-time summer help with ONE WEEK of training. I am going to reserve comments on the tactics employed since there is very little info on that being released yet, but the policy of sending these inexperienced kids into the conditions found in that forest should be examined and those responsible held accountable. Does anyone else find it disturbing that the only solution we have to manpower shortages is throwing teenagers with 7 days training at tinder dry forests? I'd like to know what standard allows that.

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    I dont think those young folks had only one week of training. By all news account, yes they were not very experienced. I think one was at his "first" fire, but, if U.S.F.S. employees, they all had to have graduated
    from "basic forest firefighting class". I might add however,that I wonder why the crew chief (21 years old)was the only one to survive. Yes it was tragic, but U.S.F.S. veterans with years of experience could have
    been in the same situation with the same results...

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    why the crew chief (21 years old)was the only one to survive

    The crew chief was Tom Craven, who was 30 and had 12 years of experience...and was also killed.
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    I'm in New Jersey and I'm sure most of you folks probably think we don't have anything resembling woods but, I'm here to inform you that we do and we even have an honest to God Forest Fire Service! Let me tell you that the training provided to us is a grand total of 32 hours. This includes a few hours of ICS training (not really necessary because most taking this class already have structural firefighting experience), about 20 hours of classroom instruction, and 8 hours of doing prescribed burns. After completing this course you can go and take the "Pack Test" for your federal "Red Card," in other words, you take a hike with a backpack that weighs about 30 pounds and finish the hike fast enough and you're now cleared to go anywhere in the country that the state sends you and fight wildland fires! Scary, ain't it?? If these kids got a full weeks worth of training, they got more than I did!! As far as their being young goes, we all had to start out at some age. We have Junior firefighters and Explorers that we're training to jump right onto the lines the day they turn 18. Now, I realize that we're not going to hand them a nozzle and show them the door to a burning building on their 18th birthday but, I believe you can see where I'm going with this. Let's at least show these FELLOW FIREFIGHTERS, OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS the respect they deserve after making the supreme sacrifice, I hate seeing them referred to as "kids." Yes, they were young, but they had the "balls" to go out there and do the job, let's at least give them the respect I feel they have earned.

    [ 07-13-2001: Message edited by: Eng522ine ]
    Stay safe all.

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    To Eng522ine: No one is disrespecting anyone. 4 of our own died. What lesson can we learn from this? Do we need better training, better equipment, better leadership, or was everything in place and it was just their time? Without asking questions, we won't know.

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    To: Dalmation90 Regarding my contention that the crew leader was 21 years old...

    I can only go by the accounts I read. In the "news" forum of firehouse.com you will see an article by MELANTHIA MITCHELL 7-11-01
    Associated Press Writer SEATTLE (AP) --

    "Jason Emhoff, a 21-year-old Yakima native...
    Emhoff was the leader of a five-member crew fighting an Okanogan National Forest wildfire Tuesday night...His crewmembers, who stayed behind, wrapped in the makeshift tents, perished as the flames overtook them"

    To: Eng522ine Please re-read my post. I never referrd to anybody as "kids" like you state, I think I used the term "young folks".
    I do believe that at the age of 44 I have the right to call 18 or 19 year olds "young folks", a not so condencending term.

    In fact your reply that "they had the
    "balls" to go out there and do the job"
    when in fact two of the crew were female shows a little disrespect on your part.

    My post was trying to impart my feelings that the U.S.F.S. are some of, if not the
    best, trained and qualified wildland firefighters in the US. You dont have to agree with me however...

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    This was very tragic...unfortunately we see this all the time...we even see men and women with 20 years of fire experience killed in these types of situations. I don't know what happened, or how much training they had, but this should definitely be looked at by WA State officials - as any LODD death should be. I guess the sad part about all of this is that we have all put ourselves at danger or gone into something with little training and have been "lucky" to survive. I took the NJ State Fire Fighter 1 course and passed with flying colors...however, this didn't mean squat when I got out there in the real world of fire fighting. They really protect us and shelter us in those classes. My first live structure fire was about 4 months after I completed the course and I got pulled in with a member of another station as his backup on the hoseline. I was scared to death! I wasn't trained for what went on in that house, I had never seen that much fire, felt so much heat, held onto a hose line pushing that much water. We all pretty much go into fires knowing the basics....fire is very unpredictable and no one can tell you what it will do, it finds what will burn and it takes over. These four young people lost their lives to fire, it is a shame, and it is very very tragic. But whose to say that they were any less qualified than I am now with 2 years in the fire service? Not me. Everyone has a different style, a different understanding, and we all just pray that we make out of the fire on any given day. God bless their family and friends, and God Speed to these brave fire fighters.
    Never forget those who went before and sacrified to make us better and stronger as a fire service and a nation. 09-11-01 forever etched in time and our memories. God Speed Boys!

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    The reason for my original post was to question the wisdom of sending part-time summer help students with little training into conditions like these, not to question the integrity or courage of those killed. As a firefighter I feel a personal sense of loss whenever one of our brothers or sisters is injured or killed,as I'm sure we all do, so lets drop the "disrespect" issue now. At 41 years old I feel I have the right to refer to 18 year olds as "kids", no disrespect intended and apologies to those offended. My original question remains, what policy allows people to be sent on a fireline with what would seem to be little to no experience?

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    How is this different that a department that allows members to enter into a buring building prior to receiving firefighter certification? It doesn't matter how long a person has been a member. If they don't have the training they should not be doing the job.

    In this instance, the participants had 40 hours worth of training. I realize that conditions out west are different, but in NH the only requirement for firefighters is a 16 hour class in wildfire fighting. And that is only if the participants want to receive firefighter certification. We even have a law that allows the local Fire Wardens to impress civilians into service if necessary to fight a brush fire.

    Whatever your opinion, it is a tragic set of circumstances.

    [ 07-13-2001: Message edited by: FP&LS Guy ]

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    Hey DevilDog...
    No problem, but the press does get their stories mixed up from time to time!

    From the Seattle Post Intelligencer:
    At 30, Tom L. Craven was the oldest. He was also the most experienced.
    He had been fighting fire for 12 years, and as the "squad boss" he was in charge of the five members of his young crew.


    The AP article picked up the fact that Jason Emhoff had been reported to be a squad leader with a crew LAST year, and made an assumption he was the squad leader on this crew.
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    You now what? 3 out of the 4 people that were killed in this incident WERE kids! That doesn't mean that they were any less of a fire fighter than anyone else. It means that this was a sad, pointless waste of four young lives.

    Was I the only one who could foresee this when I saw the USFS desperately recruiting people to work out west over the winter? I knew that they would be throwing people to the wolves, because that is what they do. Should prisoners and military people with no fire service background be used in this role? No. But, in typical federal government fashion, a program to fill spaces with bodies is created to give the illusion that all is well.

    As a fire service and as a country, we have to give a serious look at how we fight wildland fires. There have been lepas and bounds improvements in the way we fight structure fires, etc., but it seems that little to no attention is being paid to wildland fires. If we don't, than this type of stuff will continue to happen.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Let's step back and take a look at the big picture.Firefighting is a brutal,body beating profession that is NOT USER FRIENDLY.It is well stated that this incident which took away 4 young lives needs to be investigated so that corrective action can be taken.No matter what we do,we cannot bring these people back.They paid the ultimate price for what they believed in,a profession,our profession.For those that have never been there,fires in the west have different characteristics than fires in the East.But ALL fires are dangerous.We need to learn all we can about this terrible tragedy so it will never again take one of our own.But is this possible?As long as brave men and women put themselves into harm's way the possibility of tragedy exists.Only training,EXPERIENCE,and the Graces of Powers beyond us keep us safe.May we honor to those who have passed before us,and strive to let no more join their ranks.T.C.

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    It is so sad we allow kids to do dangerous things.

    Gosh, what are we thinking allowing 16 year olds to get drivers licenses.

    Or teenagers to handle deadly weapons, large and small, in the military.

    Or wet behind the ear 21 year olds to intoxicate themselves. Heck, most of them aren't even out of college yet!

    Mistakes happen. Accidents happen. Events, foreseable and unforeseen, occur.

    I doubt very much the age of these firefighters contributed in any appreciable way to their deaths. Nor do I believe 40 hours inadequate for basic wildland fire training -- for goodness sake, EMT-Basic is what, 120 hours or so?. More training is always better, but adequate is adequate. Experience? That might be more of an issue, but you don't get experience unless, well, frankly you experience it.

    [ 07-14-2001: Message edited by: Dalmatian90 ]
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    Hi D Kelly, my name is Jason for the Record, I'm one of these kid teenagers from washington state, who, just so happens lost some friends on the 10th of July, the year of our lord 2001. Just like every other fire fighter on the fireline the "part-time kids" you bashed, my friends got the same training as everyone else. I would also like to point out that when a 25 acres quiet fire goes from mop-up to blowing up to 2500 acres in 2 1/2 hours, this would be something called, Rapid-Area Ignition...no amount of training will save you I think but I would love to see you join the newsies in ****ing on the graves of my friends in yellow wildland gear at the 30 mile fire...and makes those of us in the fire service cry at your stupid comments and questions. see ya on the fireline.

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    Hsar1, I am deeply sorry for your loss, and was in no way "bashing" them. Any amount of experience may not have helped here, but we need to find out, and my issue is not with those who were lost, but remains with those who feel a week of training and part time experience is enough to be first in on fires like this. You wouldn't be allowed into a structure fire with that amount of training. People gain experience only one way, seeing and doing the job, but they should be introduced to the dangers gradually until they and their crews feel comfortable with their abilities. I have instructed several recruit classes at the state fire academy and feel I have at least a marginal understanding of training issues, and will always question every aspect of every firefighters death so we can learn what went wrong and how it can be prevented in the future. Training and experience are the best weapons, and youth works against you on both of these counts, and if this was an issue here it needs to be addressed, if not we need to move on and find out what was. I am sorry you feel by questioning the situation I was bashing them, that was not and never would be my intention, and I offer my apology.

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    Ok, I will go with you that way, the fire that crew was at, was supposedly 25 acres that was currently in mopup that went from a small small bit of smoke to area ignition. I feel that even if you just recieved your basic fire fighter training all the better, it is fresher in your mind, but more training can never hurt.

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