Idaho Organization Agrees to Fine in Firefighter Death

Officials from an Idaho firefighting organization reached an agreement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over citations and fines levied after a 20-year-old firefighter was struck and killed by a falling tree while working on a wildfire last summer, reports The Missoulian.

The Orofino-based Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protective Association has agreed to a $10,500 fine, down from the $14,000 fine that OSHA proposed in February for the death of U.S. Forest Service firefighter Anne Veseth of Moscow.

Idaho Department of Lands spokeswoman Emily Callihan said the original citation would have made it impossible for firefighters to do their jobs.

The Feb. 7 citation said the initial attack team violated eight of the 10 Standing Firefighting Orders and took no action to mitigate 11 of the 18 “Situations That Shout ‘Watch Out'” listed in the Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations, including maintaining proper communications, being aware of weather conditions and ensuring escape routes and safety zones were properly identified.

Callihan says the original citation would have required firefighters to leave any fire where standard firefighting orders couldn’t be followed or dangerous situations were present. OSHA realized the wording of its initial citation could prevent an initial attack on many fires, allowing them to grow and become more dangerous, Callahan said.

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