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Fred J. Schoeffler
Feb 16, 2022
In General Discussion
This is a photo of the controversial 2015 Tepee Springs Fire in Idaho posted on InciWeb August 28, 2015. Credit: Air Attack. So then, what and where is Division Siberia? This following post must be predicated on the fact that every supervisor's primary responsibility is that you are ultimately responsible for the safety and welfare of those you supervise - no matter what! Division Siberia is where you usually end up after you refused an assignment because it was illegal, immoral, unethical, or unsafe. Unfortunately, ****** assignments are irrelevant, requiring you to safely demonstrate to them for one shift only, that it is a poor option. First off, refer to page 19 of your Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG) "How to Properly Refuse Risk" - You've been given an assignment on an Incident. You mull it over based on the standard Rules of Engagement (i.e. 10 & 18, LCES, etc.). You either accept the assignment as given to you. Or you give them "No" with an option. They will either (1) insist you accept the first assignment as stated; (2) accept your option as proposed; or (3) assign you to Division Siberia which is usually a cold, mopped up, or already extinguished portion of the fire, and then eventually they demob you and / or send you home. As the attorneys like to say, if you "accept the risk" of whatever option you chose, then they hold up their hands while backing away and tell you "it's all yours. You're on your own." Call their bluff on any "insubordination" threats because only your Home Unit supervisors or managers are allowed to do this. At this point - presuming you have supportive supervisors or managers - you need to call your Home Unit supervisor and explain the situation. In a word, ALL wildland fire or firefighter supervisors will eventually be placed on these horns of a dilemma at least once, and likely many times, in their respective careers. Get used to it. Always do "the difficult right thing." This factual, well-documented wildland fire anecdote that follows is a prime example of lessons learned on How To Properly Refuse Risk and Death From Above and being sent to Division Siberia for two Hot Shot Crews' repeated failure to comply with an unsafe assignment, i.e. doing the difficult right thing. The above-pictured wildfire from the October 16, 2015, Wildfire Today article generated "two SAFENET reports state that hotshot crews had not been constructing direct fireline on the edge of the fire near the private land due to numerous conditions that made that particular tactic unsafe, including cliffs in the area, the location made it impossible to extract resources if an injury occurred, no safety zones were available if fire behavior increased again, and the presence of a nearby under-slung mid-slope fireline." "Two hotshot crews refused to take on the risk of the direct fireline assignment. After explaining their rationale to the IC and the safety issues involved, the firefighters were reportedly told by the IC: I’m the Incident Commander and you will do what you’re [expletive] told. "The official public response to the two SAFENET reports, issued October 5, 2015, said a “…team chartered by the Great Basin Coordinating Group [conducted] a review … and identified specific improvements and corrective actions, which are currently being implemented.'” The original (September 27, 2015) WFT article titled: Report of trouble with landowners on the Tepee Springs Fire in Idaho is much more detailed on the initial circumstances of this incident. Tepee Springs SAFENET ID# 20151104-0001 (09/01/2015) (https://safenet.nifc.gov/view_safenet.cfm?id=35163) Tepee Springs SAFENET ID# 20150916-0001 (09/02/2015) (https://safenet.nifc.gov/view_safenet.cfm?id=34902) Tepee Springs SAFENET ID# 20150917-0001 (09/04/2015) (https://safenet.nifc.gov/view_safenet.cfm?id=34903)
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Fred J. Schoeffler
Feb 16, 2022
In General Discussion
There are many versions of this. However, we believe the original Watch Out #19 version was originated by the USFS SW Region Tonto N.F. Payson Hot Shots during the remarkable 1985 wildland fire season. It includes the following: Overhead Trees, hazard trees, snags, widow-makers Gravity hazards and issues Lightning Rocks Power Lines Aircraft Aerial Ignition Weather Modification Every year for the past 20+ years, WFs and FFs are killed from the same mechanism (e.g. Trees, hazard trees, snags, widow-makers, etc.) Here's an October 2021 article by Lauren Hernández (San Francisco Chronicle) titled: Falling Tree Seriously Injures Four CA Firefighters. Four firefighters were airlifted with serious injuries after a tree fell and struck them while they were working the KNP Complex fire in Tulare County. Death From Above is mentioned in the article. The same wildfire and hazard tree incident are also covered here in Wildfire Today: Falling tree on KNP Complex injures four firefighters KNP Complex Incident Management Team said hundreds of giant sequoia trees have likely been killed in the fire, then revised their statement. Author Bill Gabbert Posted on October 8, 2021 Wildfire California, KNP Complex. Fred Schoeffler says: October 10, 2021 at 11:41 pm This is obviously another unfortunate incident that is both predictable and preventable. (Risk Management Consultant Gordon Graham) And [thus,] far removed from any “hindsight bias.” In 1985, we established a 19th Watch Out, i.e. Death From Above (Overhead, gravity hazards, trees, snags, hazard trees, widow-makers, lightning, power lines, aircraft, aerial ignition, etc.) For the past 20+ years, the mechanism responsible for maiming and killing WFs and FFs every year on wildfires and prescribed (RX) fires involves both dead and green trees. By definition, a snag is a standing dead tree. Mentioning this on a wildland fire suggests wildlife and the need to “save it” which requires building a line around it. Because of the need to actually fell the “snag” as being critical to “safely accomplish your mission” REQUIRES you to refer to it as a “HAZARD TREE” and thus should “allow” WFs and FFs to fell or cut down the standing dead, alleged “wildlife tree” Continue to use the phrase “snag the fireline, road, trail, etc.” but refer to all dead standing trees – and now even green trees, due to drought, fire-weakening, etc. as HAZARD TREES to allow you to safely mitigate the hazard by dropping them. Already this 2021 fire season, there was a fatality on a Northern CA wildfire from a tree (Death From Above) and it was not associated with a felling operation. This suggests that this unfortunate WF or FF was working in an area that had not been properly “snagged” and mitigated prior to entering. Hopefully, these WFs or FFs will have a speedy recovery from their injuries and there will be some valuable lessons learned from this. Then again – it’s been over 20 years now and we’re still maiming and killing WFs and FFs for the very same reasons, i.e. Death From Above. This YouTube video is a sobering Holy Shizer barber chair of a White Fir that many of you may have seen before; big White Firs and barber chairs. This is the condition of our trees. They're all hazard trees! Courtesy of Jeremy Cadotte
Watch Out #19 (Death From Above) Anecdotes content media
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Fred J. Schoeffler
Dec 13, 2021
In General Discussion
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Fred J. Schoeffler
Dec 13, 2021
In General Discussion
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Fred J. Schoeffler
Dec 13, 2021
In General Discussion
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Fred J. Schoeffler

Fred J. Schoeffler

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