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Colorado Firecamp - wildland firefighter training

Fire Origins
Remember. Learn. Share.

On Protection of Towns from Fire — Benjamin Franklin, 1735

On Making Official History Honest — Kent Robert Greenfield, 1954

LCES—a Key to Safety in the Wildland Fire Environment — Paul Gleason, 1991

Attitude Check — Bill Fish, 1995

TriData Phase IV, “Developing a Cooperative Approach to Wildfire Protection” — Charles Perrow, 1998

Lessons From Thirtymile: Transition Fires And Fire Orders — Jerry Williams, 2001

Loop Fire Disaster Brief — November, 1966

1967 Task Force Report

2005 Fire Prevention and Safety grant application




The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center is part of the National Advanced Fire & Resource Institute (NAFRI) in Tucson, Arizona

“The Lessons Learned Center is an interagency program supported by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) consisting of the federal and state fire agencies. The Center Manager is a National Park Service employee, the Assistant Center Manager is a US Forest Service employee. Other staff members will be represented by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Center works in cooperation with the Federal Fire and Aviation Safety Team (FFAST), the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Working Teams, and the National Association of State Foresters (NASF).” - (

This grant application was compiled with input and assistance from several of the individual agencies mentioned above. We have every belief that we will receive substantial assistance from agency personnel with the PMS-490 revision.

We have already received an index of the 16 wildfire-related investigations completed by the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program. A NIOSH investigator will also participate with the PMS-410 revision.

The fire departments in the Upper Arkansas Valley, U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service have committed to assist with the Wildfire Safety Drill.

The Novato (California) Fire Protection District will participate with the Wildfire Safety Drill.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

The implementation plan for any safety initiative aims to alter three things in its target audience: knowledge, attitudes and behavior. Colorado Firecamp does not underestimate the enormous challenge of the effort being proposed in this grant application. In this application, we have indicated a target audience of 500,000 firefighters. We honestly believe this project will benefit the entire American fire service.

Based upon our risk assessment, Colorado Firecamp has focused on a specific discipline (wildland firefighting) and a specific cause of firefighter death (wildland fire entrapment.) But, we believe this “open source” and “lessons learned” process can be as easily applied to other disciplines within the fire service.

We find encouragement in the words of Kelly Close, a company officer with the Poudre Fire Authority in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Kelly is a Fire Behavior Analyst and was a member of the Cramer Fire Accident Investigation Team.

Kelly wrote a paper for the Eighth International Wildland Fire Safety Summit, in April, 2005, entitled: “Fire Behavior vs. Human Behavior: Why the Lessons from Cramer Matter.” He made this impassioned plea:

“We have to stop the cycle. If no one does anything, if we continue on the current course of ignoring the problem, we will repeat Cramer, South Canyon and other tragedies over and over. The lives lost on Cramer, and continued loss of life, in the future, will have been for nothing.

“If, on the other hand, we face the hard issues from Cramer, work to understand the interaction of fire behavior and human behavior, and commit to understanding the dynamics and finding long-term solutions, we can begin taking steps toward preventing many future tragedies. It’s not too late. We can still learn much from Cramer, and can alter the course of the future in profound ways. It is absolutely worth the time and effort, and is vital. And it all begins with that all-important first step: the commitment to start.” (Close, 2005)


Our firefighter safety project is specifically designed to be sustained beyond the one-year grant performance period. We believe the “open source” concept will allow others to participate to this effort in very tangible ways.

Over time, the wildland firefighter fatality archive will be expanded to include other types of incidents, such as injury and near-miss incidents.

The PMS-490 curriculum will be easily updated in the future. As individuals or agencies are motivated to compile a new case study, they will have a tremendous resource in the archive. The indexing system will allow them easy access to both the specific incident and other similar incidents that add to the lessons learned.

Colorado Firecamp will maintain the equipment assets obtained through this grant to support such efforts. We plan to complete at least one new case study each year.

We believe that the Wildfire Safety Drill will become an annual event. Once established, it should be basically self-funding. As participants report the training benefit, fire departments will be willing to pay a modest fee to cover expenses.

Need for Federal Assistance

Colorado Firecamp exists on a shoestring budget of less than $15,000 per year. Yet we have attempted to make a contribution to firefighter safety though the limited means available to us. President and course coordinator Kent Maxwell has worked without compensation for the past 3 years. Work such as the preparation of this grant application, a website now exceeding 450 individual pages, our 501(c)(3) application approved by the IRS this summer, and coordination of 17 wildland firefighting classes (taught by combination of 16 different paid and unpaid instructors) have been the product of volunteer labor.

If this grant application is denied, we will still do our best with what we have. The investigation reports on the Colorado Firecamp website will be offered to Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. As time permits, we would try to add more. The archive would still be hosted on the website, although likely not in the usable digital format we are proposing.

The PMS-410 revision will not happen anytime soon without this grant. In the current federal budget climate, the federal wildland agencies are already facing significant loss of line firefighter positions.

The Wildfire Safety Drill will take place with or without support from this grant. Obviously, the event will be smaller and will have less impact than we want.

The priorities for Colorado Firecamp will not change, with or without this grant. Our time, talent and treasure will be spent doing what we can for the six names that mean something to us.

Track Record

This project will be larger than anything Colorado Firecamp has ever done before.

Coordinator Kent Maxwell also serves a volunteer captain for the Chaffee County Fire Protection District. In that capacity he wrote two grant applications totaling $59,700 for wildfire mitigation work through the Community Assistance program of the Bureau of Land Management. He serves as project leader for the mitigation work that is halfway through 5-year cooperative agreement.

However, we have had some smaller efforts worth noting. Through a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, we obtained the Point Fire investigation report from the BLM Idaho State Office. Although the 1995 incident is mentioned in several articles and other documents, the report had not previously been available on the internet.

During early summer, 2005, we adapted the Point Fire case study from a BLM training course. The case study (with 30 minute video tape) was presented for the firefighters of the Chaffee County Fire Protection District during the June IAFC “Stand Down for Safety.” Over the next month further revisions were made to the case study and the bulk of the investigation website was posted to the Colorado Firecamp website.

In August, the Point Fire case study video, 6-page instructor guide and 8-page student handout were mailed to all 293 fire departments in Colorado. A PDF copy of the case study was posted on the website as well.

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