Sadler Fire Staff Ride. 2011. Outline. Introductions Acknowledgments Objectives for the Day Sadler Fire PowerPoint Summary Stand #1 (ORGANIZATION: THE CREW AND THE COMMAND STRUCTURE) Travel to Stand #2 (1.25 hours) “The Big Safety Zone”/Field Study (Stand #2-Stand #6)
Outline • Introductions • Acknowledgments • Objectives for the Day • Sadler Fire PowerPoint Summary • Stand #1 (ORGANIZATION: THE CREW AND THE COMMAND STRUCTURE) • Travel to Stand #2 (1.25 hours) “The Big Safety Zone”/Field Study (Stand #2-Stand #6) • Travel to Elko (1.25 hours) • AAR/ Integration/ Evaluations/ Lessons Learned (at ELDO)
Credits/ Acknowledgments • Gabriel Donaldson: Facilitator/ participant guide formatting, PowerPoint presentation preparation; stand outlines/formats, etc . . . • William (Craig) Cunningham: Facilitator/ participant guide formatting, map formatting, facilitation and integration. • Shane McDonald: Research, interviews, site preservation, document preservation. . . • Tom Warren: Site preservation • Steve Dondero: Air Attack information, aerial organization information, general command overview . . . • Jeff Arnberger: Networking, command overview . . . • Dylan Rader: General assistance, command and situation information . . . • Matt Murphy: Maps • Gerry Beddow: Pictures, unit logs • Ruby Mountain Hotshot Staff: Setting up field stands, welding stand displays (Alex Lemelin) • Tom Turk: VHS Footage, situation information • All contributor’s to the Investigations Report, John Maclean and his authorship of the “Ghosts of Storm King” (Fire and Ashes).
Staff Ride Summation “Staff rides were developed by the Prussian Army in the early nineteenth century and have been used by the militaries in many countries since then. In the 1970's the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps turned to staff rides with great enthusiasm and now they are considered essential instructional techniques in advanced military schools and in field units. A staff ride is a case study that is conducted on the ground where the event happened . . .What makes staff rides particularly stimulating is that they are group exercises. A staff ride requires active participation by all . . . A staff ride should avoid being a recital of a single investigation report. Such reports rarely address the human factors that affect individual decision-making . . . The intent of a staff ride is to put participants in the shoes of the decision makers on a historical incident in order to learn for the future. A staff ride should not be a tactical-fault finding exercise. Participants should be challenged to push past the basic question of "What happened?" and examine the deeper questions of leadership and decision-making: "What would I have done in this person's place?" "How detailed should the guidance from a superior to a subordinate be?" "Can a senior leader make use of a competent but overzealous subordinate?" "What explains repeated organizational success or failure?" The study of leadership aspects in a staff ride transcend time and place.”* *TAKEN FROM THE WILDLAND FIRE STAFF RIDE LIBRARY/ FIRE LEADERSHIP WEBSITE: http://www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/staffride/main_about_staff_rides.html
Sadler Fire Summary “On August 5, 1999, a dry lightning storm passes through northern Nevada that ignites numerous fires. Due to a wet winter and spring, the fuels are abnormally heavy. Now, deep into summer, these fuels are measuring less than 80% live fuel moisture. Normal fire suppression tactics have not been effective on previous fires, particularly direct attack and burning operations during the heat of the day. The weather and fire behavior forecasts predict extreme burning conditions. This same day as the lightning storm, a Type 2 crew—the GNP3—is assembled in California. This crew consists of 21 members (17 FFT2s) from fuels and suppression modules as well as non-fire and overhead positions from various home units. The following day, they are dispatched to the Sadler Complex south of Elko, Nev. During the next two days, they work on the fireline. The next day, August 9, while conducting a burnout operation, six firefighters from the GNP3 crew are entrapped by wildfire.”* *(Taken from 6 Minutes for Safety dated August 9, 2009)
Sadler Fire Summary As of 8.12.1999 (3 days following the Sadler Fire Entrapment): “More than 1.3 million acres have burned in Nevada since August 4th . . .”
Fire Behavior/Weather Summary • Pages 21-25 in the Sadler Fire Entrapment Investigation covers fire behavior and weather in great detail. • Fuel loads in the entrapment area are/were the generic northern Nevada fuels of Pinion/Juniper, decadent sage and cheat grass. • Winds were 10-16 mph with gusts of 23-27 mph. • 8/9/99 Weather at 1400 hours taken by GNP3: • Temperature: 85 degrees • Relative Humidity: 13% • Wind speed/direction: Not noted • 8/9/99 Weather at 1511 hours from the Crane Springs RAWS: • Temperature: 84 degrees • Relative humidity: 7% • Wind speed 16 MPH with gusts to 27 MPH. • Wind direction: Southeast. • 8/9/99 Haines index for Elko: 6* *Taken Directly from Pages 21-22 of the Investigation.
Detail of Aerial Photo *Approximate location of Engine 3636 and safety zone *Approximate location of GNP #3 Firing Squad when overrun by the fire whirl *Safety Zone *The “Y”/ The “Big Safety Zone is located ~2 miles south on the road/fire line Detail on next slide
From CP-11 looking North down fence line/dozer line on perimeter of the “Big Finger”
Looking from where the fire whirl crossed the dozer line towards CP-11 Detail on Next Slide
Highly Reliable Organizations (HRO) • Throughout the course of the day the term HRO will be utilized. • HRO stands for Highly Reliable Organizing or Highly Reliable Organizations and is a lattice work for ongoing safe operations utilizing a foundation, pillar and operating system grounded in a number of core values. • HRO’s are, in essence, organizations which operate under normally unsafe conditions in a safe manner; i.e. Nuclear Power Plants, Submarines, and Wildland Firefighting Organizations.
Highly Reliable Organizations Cont . . . • Core Values (Duty, Respect and Integrity) have already been integrated into HRO’s. • HRO’s are never achieved; they exist in a nexus of continued practice. That is to say, HRO’s are dynamic, and make mistakes. The difference lies in how HRO’s rebound and grow from mistakes. • HRO’s have a foundation and framework that support continued learning and growth with the objective always being that we will exist in a “Safety Culture”.
Stand #1: “ORGANIZATION: THE CREW AND THE COMMAND STRUCTURE” • Crew Summary: Golden Gate National Park #3 (GNP #3) is assembled in San Francisco, CA to respond to an incident in Elko County near Jiggs, NV. Comprised of 21 individuals, the crew participates in one training hike prior to a late afternoon departure for the Elko area. The GNP #3 is a mixed bunch of individuals who do not regularly work with each other (a regular’s crew or ad hoc crew). The CRWB and Trainee disagree on a plan to travel to the fire, with the two being separated by nearly a day. The Crew Boss does not honor his plan to rest overnight in Winnemucca, NV but pushes all the way through to the incident, leaving his trainee in doubt as he and a different driver stay in Winnemucca as initially planned. • Upon arrival at the fire Horton goes on a scouting mission; Naar arrives and through consistently poor communication a “search party” request is put in to find Horton; a helicopter announces Horton as “missing” over an A-G frequency; when Horton is retrieved Naar and Horton have a heated exchange.
Stand #1: “ORGANIZATION: THE CREW AND THE COMMAND STRUCTURE” • Tony Horton*: CRWB, 29 years old. Fuels crew manager; aspires to be a Hotshot Superintendent; 2 seasons prior IHC experience, 6 seasons with engines and helitack; emphasizes safety in pre-departure briefings; encourages open communication, states jokingly that “it’s all about money”; states that he’d like for he and Naar to have “shared” command of the crew. • Alex Naar*: CRWB (T), 35 years old. Law Enforcement Ranger; “stickler for rules”; prior structure and medical experience in Massachusetts; disagrees openly with Horton twice prior to departure from San Francisco (“It’s all about safety” versus “money” and waiting to depart CA until rush hour traffic has cleared).  Members of the Crew worked on National Parks Fire Crews,  held other Parks Service jobs,  had no fire experience. “Most of the crew had never met . . . Let alone worked or trained together” Fire and Ashes Page 105.
Stand #1: “ORGANIZATION: THE CREW AND THE COMMAND STRUCTURE” • Kelly Martin: DIVS on 8.7.1999; intended to inform the incoming team of GNP #3’s competence level and events which occurred during the transition time and GNP #3’s arrival to the fire. • Lydia Mingo: Could not keep up with crew during Physical Training hike; smoker • Keren Christensen*: 4 seasons prior experience; stationed in Yosemite; training to be a SQLD; recruited after being noticed by a firefighter at a structure station. • David “Ty” Deaton*: Ex-Marine; Graduated from Butte College Fire Academy in Chico, CA. • Derek Hyde*: Student at University of Southern California; “Brain”; 4 seasons prior experience; “clean-cut”; “poster child” for firefighting; later went on to be Computer Analyst in Washington D.C. • Peter Giampaoli*: “Gypsy”; Wore cheap boots . . . • Angela Hawk: Smelled alcohol on bus driver; stated at one point that “I didn’t want to become not part of the crew . . .” (after commenting later that crews were primarily male and she didn’t want to make waves) • Ellis:bus driver. • Profiles taken from Fire and Ashes, “Ghosts of Storm King”.
Stand #1: “ORGANIZATION: THE CREW AND THE COMMAND STRUCTURE” • Command Summary: The fires in Northern Nevada were growing fast and combining. The activity, size and complexity of the fires prompted the birth of the “Sadler Complex”. August 9th did not start off well; the organization of the command structure and resources was disjointed, to say the least: “At 6:00 a.m., shift briefings were conducted by the IMT at the ICP and by Branch II Director Dan Huter at the Jiggs spike camp. The briefing at Jiggs started without an announcement and some of the crews and overhead missed part or all of it.” To complicate matters, the weather forecast and outlook were grim: “The fire behavior forecast issued on the Incident Action Plan (IAP) called for extreme fire behavior with high rates of spread. Dry conditions with increasing southerly winds were expected in the afternoon. The minimum RH was expected to be 6 to 12 percent, and a Haines Index of 6 was forecast. Fine fuel moisture was expected to be 3 percent.” The Incident Action Plan indicated a lack of adequate fire line supervisors, displayed by Tom Shepard being listed as the Division Q and Division O supervisor. There was an obvious disconnect between planning and operations, as Branch Directors were tasked with creating their own Branch plans, not to mention the fact that Branch II’s organization had become vague and ambiguous: “In the IAP, the northeast part of the fire was shown as two divisions - O, under Shepard, and Q, under Mike Head. At some point, that was changed to one division - - Q - - with Shepard as division supervisor. There was confusion throughout the day on Branch II over division locations, assignments, and chain of command.” Much of the confusion was due in part to a team transition occurring between Ed Storey’s Type 1 Team and Paul Hefner’s Type 2 Team. The transition between the teams occurred at 0600 on August 9, 1999.
Stand #1: “ORGANIZATION: THE CREW AND THE COMMAND STRUCTURE” “On August 7, 1999, the Elko Field Office and NDF ordered a Type I IMT. The morning of August 8, 1999, Ed Storey’s Type I IMT arrived in Elko, Nevada. Team members received an agency briefing at 2:00 p.m. and attended a transition briefing with Hefner’s team at 7:00 p.m. After the meeting, Storey’s team went out to the ICP and the fire line to begin the transition. Storey’s team assumed control of the Sadler Complex at 6:00 a.m. August 9, 1999.”
Stand #1: “ORGANIZATION: THE CREW AND THE COMMAND STRUCTURE” You have been tasked with mobilizing a crew in San Francisco, California, travelling to Nevada and working on a fire in Jiggs, Nevada. You’re crew is comprised of regular employees with an eclectic set of backgrounds, some of whom have never fought a fire. You have been assigned a Crew Boss Trainee, and it has been requested that you leave as soon as possible. • As the Crew Boss for the GNP #2 crew, conduct a pre-mortem which addresses mobilization, travel, suppression, demobilization and return travel to San Francisco. • What Tools are available to us to aid in a safe, timely and effective mobilization and departure? • As the Crew Boss what would be your priority with this new crew? How are you going to ensure that you focus on that priority? • Is two way communication flow necessary for a Crew Boss and Crew Boss Trainee to effectively interact with each other? How could you, as a Crew Boss Trainee, effectively communicate concerns/ issues to your Crew Boss without inviting conflict? What could Naar and Horton done to ensure that they were on the same page concerning travel to the incident? • The Incident Response Pocket Guide was not a tool that was available to firefighters in 1999 . . . What if we didn’t have a tool like the IRPG? • What other tool do we have to consider while trying to safely and reliably organize, manage and engage all aspects of wildland fire? Are there “small failures” which need to be addressed/ tracked, prior to arrival at the Incident Command Post which has already occurred? It is 0600 on August 9th of 1999 in Jiggs, NV. You are the Crew Boss for GNP #3, who has driven all night to arrive at an incident and are without your entire crew due to a miscommunication or lack of communication. You are attending a morning briefing and do not get an Incident Action Plan, but hear talk of Red Flag Warnings and extreme fire behavior. • Assuming that you want to work on the fire, what things might need to be clarified prior to engaging or even travelling to your division assignment? • Considering the Incident Command Structure and interface of elements within it, what areas of the ICS are failing at this point in the incident? How might a Branch Director, Division Supervisor, Operations Section Chief or even an Incident Commander mitigate and/or draw attention to these failures? What strong reaction would you take (as a fire line supervisor) to a seemingly weak signal that the organization is crumbling? • As the Crew Boss do you feel that you could safely engage a division of the fire at this time? Why? Why not?
Directions: • Some maps are available for drivers, we will meet at “South Fork Staging” and convoy to the site, driving through the Lucky Nugget Subdivision • From Idaho street go left on 12th street towards the Ruby Mountains, go left on Lamoille Highway, go right at State Highway 228, turn right on County Highway 715, take a right on Lucky Nugget Road at the southeast edge of South Fork Reservoir. • Parking is on the road ~100 meters after the right turn. • We will depart South Fork Staging in 1 hour and convoy to the “Big Safety Zone” . . . We will turn around at the “Big Safety Zone” and reconnoiter at the “Y”. • Donaldson’s Cell: 775.934.0843 . . .