USDA Forest Service
||Contact: Heidi Valetkevitch,
FOREST SERVICE TO CARRY OUT
THIRTYMILE FIRE ACTION PLAN
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2001 -- U.S. Department of
Agriculture Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth today accepted the
Accident Prevention Action Plan on the Thirtymile Fire and again
expressed his condolences to the families and declared that the
action items will begin immediately.
We must prevent tragedies like this one from occurring in
the future, said Bosworth. The Forest Service will work
closely with the National Wildfire Coordinating Group and our interagency
wildland firefighting partners to ensure that proposed changes in
management and policies are made to improve firefighter safety and
The Thirtymile Fire killed four firefighters on the Okanogan-Wenatchee
National Forest on July 10, 2001. The four are Tom Craven, Karen
FitzPatrick, Jessica Johnson and Devin Weaver.
The Accident Prevention Action Plan was based on the Thirtymile
Fire Accident Investigation Teams report and the Management
Evaluation Report developed by the Thirtymile Fire Board of Review.
The review board, chaired by Tom Thompson, deputy chief, National
Forest System, detailed action items for each recommendation.
Some of the key actions items include: emphasizing situational
awareness; transitioning from initial to extended attack; addressing
chronic fatigue issues; and strengthening fire leadership and accountability.
Other changes or recommendations may result when a separate Occupational
Safety and Hazard Administration investigation is completed.
The deaths of these firefighters were preventable,
Chief Bosworth said, Although firefighting is a dangerous
vocation, there are standing orders and preventive measures which
can be taken to reduce the likelihood of this tragedy happening
again. The Forest Service is committed to doing everything possible
to improve the safety of these unsung heroes.
For copies of the Prevention Action Plan, visit the Forest Service
website at http://www.fs.fed.us/fire.
On a separate but related effort at the request of Chief Bosworth,
the Accident Review Board has evaluated the witness statements and
the Sept. 26, 2001 report to try to understand more clearly what
happened during the final moments leading up to the deployment of
fire shelters during the Thirtymile Fire.
Additional review of the facts and witness statements surrounding
the 30-mile fatalities has uncovered no definitive evidence that
any firefighters deliberately disobeyed a direct order from the
incident commander," said Thompson, chair, Board of Review.
"It is possible the firefighters either didnt hear the
order to come to the road, or if some did hear the directive they
believed they were close to the road.