2017 WOR Day 1: Wildland Firefighter

Category: 
Week of Remembrance
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Jun 2020

Ribbon symbol for survivor next to the Wildland Fire Leadership logoWeek of Remembrance June 30 - July 6, 2017

One of the few acts of free will that tragedy leaves within our control, is the chance to grow.
Our brothers have given us such a precious and hard-won opportunity to learn new knowledge and apply lessons.”

"Honor the Fallen” Member

 

June 30 through July 6 has been designated the NWCG “Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrance.” This week serves as an annual opportunity to renew our commitment to the safety of wildland firefighters as we remember those who have fallen in the line of duty. Over many decades, lessons learned from accidents and fatalities that have occurred on wildland fires have led to significant improvements in firefighter education, training, operational practices, and risk management processes. Unfortunately, wildland firefighting remains inherently hazardous, and we continue to experience accidents and fatalities. This “Week of Remembrance” is an opportunity to collectively remember our fallen firefighters as we continue our ongoing effort to enhance the safety of all wildland firefighters.

 

Background:

In 2013 the wildland fire community suffered 34 fatalities over the course of the fire season including the tragic events on June 30th on the Yarnell Hill Fire where 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots lost their lives. That summer it seemed like there was one fatality after another. Each loss affected our lives. However, the loss of 19 members of Granite Mountain felt like it shook the community to our very core.

A small group comprised of Senior Leaders in Fire Management, Superintendents, Fire Management Officers, Scientists and Experts in Human Factors connected in a grassroots movement to understand the events of June 30th and beyond. This group’s single motivation was to honor our fallen brothers and sisters by learning as much as we could. The group eventually became known as “Honor the Fallen” (HTF).

The Call to Action:

The mission of this group was not to judge or assign blame, but to engage in a sense-making journey, trying to understand the conditions, cultural practices, mental models, and examining our own vulnerabilities. The HTF group began several initiatives to engage the field at various levels to facilitate discussions around Yarnell as a springboard to stimulate dialog and influence change. The group facilitated preseason discussions at the national, regional, and local levels the following year. They utilized social media to reach larger audiences through Blogs, articles, and white papers. 

What the Core Group Learned: Reflection is one of the biggest lessons we learned. Much like your own reflection in the mirror that greets you every morning, we kept having to return to look at ourselves. To see both the good and the bad. As we sought to understand, we had to first acknowledge a reflection of our own actions, beliefs, and long-held views in what we saw.

What We are Asking You To Do:

  • Join us in a period of remembrance and take the time to reflect on your own actions, beliefs, and views of fire. Do you see what you want to see?
  • If you could speak to the fallen, what would you say? How would you acknowledge their sacrifice? What has changed for you? How are you leading others to do the same?
  • What is your ultimate responsibility as a leader?
  • What does “Honor the Fallen” mean to you?

 

Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

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