Fire Management
Pacific Region

2006 R1 Firefighter Operations and Safety Workshop

During the week of May 8 th the fire management group gathered at Sheldon-Hart National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Lakeview, Oregon for the Regional Firefighter Operations and Safety Workshop.

Day one focused on the following regional and national issues: all terrain vehicle safety, communications, Foundational Doctrine, Incident Qualifications and Certification System (ICQS), personal protective equipment, preparedness reviews, medical standards, sand table exercises, and an overview of the Joint Apprenticeship Program. Excellent logistical support was provided by the Lakeview Interagency Fire Center , the Fremont National Forest and the Lakeview District Bureau of Land Management. Safety Workshop participants hear details of the 1939 Rock Creek fire

Day two consisted of a “Staff Ride” of the 1939 Rock Creek fire near Orovada, Nevada . Staff Rides have been used for years by the military to teach leadership, study lessons learned from past military engagements and to gain insight into the decision-making process. The Rock Creek Staff Ride is one of several that the wildland fire community has developed over the past ten years to provide in-depth studies of fires. They include a preliminary in depth-study of the event, a field study review, an analysis of the actions, and discussion of lessons learned.

The Winnemucca District Bureau of Land Management’s Fire Management Organization developed and hosted the Rock Creek Staff Ride. Five enrollees from a nearby CCC camp lost their lives fighting this fire. One of the main things Region 1 firefighters took from the lessons learned is that despite the passage of almost 70 years, many of the same factors leading to the fatalities then, could easily happen today. When asked one month after the Rock Creek Staff Ride what he had learned, engine leader Ethan Somers from SE Idaho National Wildlife Refuge Complex said “ I learned a lot, especially about the importance of crew cohesion, communications, command and control.”

Our entire fire organization was richly rewarded by their participation. Efforts such as this allow us to become a stronger learning organization, helping us to limit the number of mistakes, and continue with safe, effective and efficient operations in the complex world of fire management.

To minimize cost, firefighters camped out at Sheldon and Malheur National Wildlife Refuges. Traveling, camping and preparing meals as a group also allowed us to build camaraderie amongst ourselves, and further relationships with our partners from the interagency wildland fire community.

Last updated: September 9, 2008
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