2023 Week of Remembrance Day 3
Esperanza Fire (California) – October 26, 2006
Today’s topic is dedicated to all fallen firefighters and their families.
May we honor them through learning.
Early in the morning of Thursday, October 26, 2006, The Esperanza Fire was reported burning at the base of the hill in the town of Cabazon. A red flag warning was in effect due to high temperatures, low humidity, and Santa Ana winds. At approximately 7:15 a.m., five wildland firefighters from Forest Service Fire Engine 57 were overrun by the fire, while they were positioned near an isolated, vacant residential structure. All five firefighters were fatally burned by a sudden, intense fire run, up a steep drainage below their location.
We strive toward zero injuries and zero deaths while recognizing we can never eliminate risk. In honor of the five fallen members of Engine 57, we acknowledge that wildland firefighting remains inherently dangerous, which requires continued conversations with our loved ones and reevaluation of our risk tolerance. Despite our inability to eliminate tragedy we can preplan and prepare for the worst-case scenario while also choosing actions that reduce the chances of a tragic incident. While heartbroken, the people who experienced devastating loss from the Esperanza fire saw the need for change and inspired the resources and support programs for critical incidents that we have throughout our agencies today.
How can we preplan with our families and coworkers to create a support network in the event of a tragedy?
- Consider whom you would want to talk to your family if you were involved in an incident.
- When was the last time you had a conversation with your family and friends about your wishes in the event of your injury or death?
- Do you have a critical incident response plan for your home unit? Does your unit have trained Family and Hospital Liaisons?
- Schedule 1-2 times a year for your module to update Emergency Contact/Line of Duty Death (LODD) Forms.
- If you are part of a notification tree, take the Death Notification Class through the Casualty Assistance Program.
- Review A Preparedness Guide for Wildland Firefighters and Their Families, PMS 600 with your family and double-check that your beneficiary information is correct for federal benefits as appropriate.
- A Preparedness Guide for Wildland Firefighters and Their Families, PMS 600, – page 10, “Line of Duty Death or Injury.”
- Agency Administrator's Guide to Critical Incident Management, PMS 926
- NWCG CISM Desk Reference
- BLM Loss of Human Life Handbook
- Wildland Fire Learning Portal Courses (Type “CAP” in the search bar to access all program information)
- 10 & 18 Poster, PMS 110-18
- 10 Standard Firefighting Orders, PMS 110
- 18 Watch Out Situations, PMS 118
- Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
- NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
- NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
- RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
- Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center
Have an idea or feedback?
Share it with the NWCG 6MFS Subcommittee.