Wildland Safety: What Is Really Killing Us?

Issue 6 and Volume 156.

By Michael S. Terwilliger In 1949, the Mann Gulch Fire in Montana took the lives of 13 firefighters. They were smoke jumpers who mistakenly misjudged the potential of this fire and paid the ultimate price. I feel the only positive outcome of this tragedy was the development of the 10 Standard Fire Orders (see Table 1). As we all should know, these are hard and fast rules that are to be followed in some fashion while engaged in wildland fire control. While assigned as a superintendent of a hotshot crew, the late Paul Gleason took this a step further after watching firefighters die in the Dude Fire in Arizona and developed LCES: Lookouts, Communication, Escape Routes, Safety Zones. Gleason was aware that under stress we could not remember our birthday, let alone 10 orders. Conversely, if we remember LCES simply because four items are much more retrievable under stress, we…

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