Here is more from our forthcoming 2018 Incident Review Summary.

By Travis Dotson

Strange things do happen out there on fire assignments. Some of them are certainly outlier occurrences, some of them are not. Either way, these instances often provide an opportunity to re-frame and think about hazards we may not have recognized.


Check these events out – then do the exercise at the end.


“The incident personnel watched with binoculars as one of the two individuals put a scoped rifle on a bi-pod and looked up the mountain toward them.”

Miriam Fire Shooting Incident



North Spring Fire Septic Tank Incident



Blasting Caps Discovered During Mop-Up


Owyhee Fire Can Explosion

Davis Fire Can Explosion

Exercise (30 minutes)

Study these incidents.

Individually think about a time you were surprised on a fire.

Tell each other your “surprise stories.”

Discuss this question:

If we blame all surprises on “poor SA” –

what lessons are we missing out on?

3 thoughts on “Random?

  1. I have seen a few faux pas as a Dozer boss: an engine drove down my Fireline and got stuck, stopped line production to come back and pull them out! An engine drove up to house and sunk into septic tank, again stopped and came back to pull that engine out. On another fire, my own dozer became stuck on a stump, a chopper saved us by dropping a load of water from his bucket giving us time to find a solid tree to winch off of… another dozer sunk into a hidden bog, other dozer rescued! Dennis Benhower, Retired.

  2. I would add a complementary question to “What are we missing if we blame all surprises on poor SA?” The question would be, “What are we missing if we don’t consider it a surprise or just accept it as normal?” The reason I say this is I was just filling out an injury report this morning for a person who fell into a snow-covered window well; very similar to the septic tank incident. One of the questions that must be answered on the form is a version of, “How could this be avoided in the future?” My reply, “Stuff happens. We work in a dynamic environment and incidents like this cannot always be avoided without compromising the quality of service we provide.” I looked at the other incidents listed here and instantly related them to other incidents I have been involved in that are accepted at some level as normal. As a structural firefighter (who still gets to work on the wildland side occasionally), cans explode in every fire. Ammunition pops off. Crews are shot at during responses to shootings. We adjust but accept it as is without always seriously considering the lessons we may be missing out on.

  3. Looks like the 1980s and 1990s are reoccurring 20-25 yrs later……being shot at, stumbling into old non marked house foundations on USFWS refuges and private lands, spiked trees, numerous tripping hazards seen or unseen, hot dog IHCs and convict crews, tree stumps below grade, first year and 40 year firefighters….you know the green ones and the ones who know everrrrrything, truck rollovers, taking 2WD Type 6 into soft soils and then telling your FMO that this truck ought not be in the area while getting ones hardline wrapped around the duals cuz nozzleman couldnt get hardline ought of the way..

    Oh yeah did I tell u this was the 1980s and 1990s?

    See how something new is realllly something old and not so shocking…..welcome to the technology driven wildland fire world……we weren’t dependent on tech and GPS then…..old skoool with just as many SA issues to contend with

    Something new here?😀🤔

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