Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

Where the Wildland Fire Service goes to learn.

Operating as usual

05/08/2024

Compartment 22 Prescribed Fire Entrapment - March 2024

The Holding Boss requested that the engine, a local Type 4, prep a snag to prevent it from catching fire and endangering the public on the highway. The Engine Boss (ENGB) grabbed a council rake and attempted to access the snag area directly. This included climbing a three-strand barbed wire fence and navigating a patch of green vines
At this point, he observed there was “one tiny finger” of active fire
creeping in the brush 20-30 feet away with most of the fire about five chains away. He climbed over the fence and walked toward the snag (going approximately 20 feet), where he almost immediately encountered brush that he was unable to navigate.
Deciding to withdraw and try a new approach, the ENGB turned around,immediately noting that fire behavior had increased. His council rake was entangled in the brush. He therefore dropped it and continued toward the fence. After another step or two, he became completely entangled in the vines. At that point, the fuels around him “self-ignited.” The ENGB had nowhere to go.
During the next 15-30 seconds, all the fuels around and beneath him began to burn through. He was suspended in the air. He later recalled: “I felt like a puppet strung by a puppeteer”—caught above the approximately 6-inch flames.
The ENGB suffered a burn on his nose, 1st and 2nd degree burns to both elbows, both knees, and the back of one thigh. At the hospital he underwent surgery consisting of skin grafts to elbows and knees.

Lessons
Use the latest PPE.
While there were no visible “scorch” marks on the firefighter’s PPE, he did suffer burns to the elbows, which are recorded regularly in wildland fire situations similar to this one. Newer flame-resistant shirts are intentionally designed with double elbows to reduce injuries in situations just like occurred in this incident. Get flame-resistant shirts with double elbows.

Briars are hazardous – Do a practice walk.
Resources from out of the area or new to the area may not have previously navigated briars. Provide them field experience by
first walking them through the vegetation—without fire—to help reinforce the danger that briars pose during fire operations.

Read the full report here: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/compartment-22-prescribed-fire-entrapment-2024

Photos from Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center's post 04/26/2024

Refueling Drip Torch Burn Injury - April 7 2024
One crewmember located the “jerry” can of torch mix but could not find the correct nozzle. After searching the truck, the crewmember attempted to pour the fuel into the drip torch with no nozzle. While refueling the drip torch, a “copious” amount of torch mix spilled on the ground as well as on the lower right pant leg and boot.
Over an hour after refueling the drip torch, the crewmember was continuing ignitions and was standing among the vegetation that they had just ignited. The crewmember remembers thinking “this is really hot.” Looking down, the crewmember noticed that their right leg was on fire.
Remembering "Stop, Drop, and Roll" the crewmember stopped, dropped, and tried to roll after stepping away from the vegetation. Unable to roll, due to having their fire pack on, the crewmember stood up and started patting their leg with gloved hands. Successful in extinguishing the fire with patting the leg, the crewmember immediately notified the firing squad leader.
The crewmember sustained 2nd degree burns on the lower right leg just above the boot line.

Lessons:
Have nozzles, use them.
If you get fuel on clothing - swap the clothing.
With fuel soaked clothing fires - stop, drop, and roll is NOT the best option. Removing clothing quickly is best.

Read this 4 page report here: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/huron-manistee-nf-prescribed-fire-burn-injury-2024

04/12/2024

Lessons from an aviation incident.

"On October 31, 2023, an exclusive-use contracted Dassault Falcon-50 aircraft, carrying six passengers, experienced a loss of cabin pressure while departing Henderson Field, Midway Atoll. The crew performed an emergency descent and returned to Midway, where the pilot-in-command (PIC) determined that the mechanical malfunction was intermittent, and the flight would be attempted again. The Office of Aviation Services (OAS) was not notified. The passengers refused the second flight, and the flight crew departed again, only to experience another cabin pressurization malfunction, which resulted in another return to Midway."

Lessons Learned:
1. Kudos to the passengers for refusing the flight! All agency personnel are empowered to refuse a flight if an unsafe condition exists. Had the passengers accepted the second flight, they could have been exposed to hypoxia injuries, especially without an operable oxygen system.

Get the 3 page report here:https://www.doi.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2024-04/ll-2024-01.pdf

Episode 34 - Lessons From 2023 | Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center 03/29/2024

NEW Podcast Episode!

Travis Dotson and Kelly Woods talk about lessons the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center received in learning reviews and reports in 2023. Travis highlights some themes and shares his unique insights on data. Throughout the conversation, Travis and Kelly reference the Annual Incident Review Summary and the latest issue of Two More Chains which feature many of the lessons discussed and provide links to the source material. These documents can be downloaded at lessons.wildfire.gov.

https://wildfirelessons.podbean.com/e/episode-34-lessons-from-2023/

Episode 34 - Lessons From 2023 | Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Travis Dotson and Kelly Woods talk about lessons the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center received in learning reviews and reports in 2023. Travis highlights some themes and shares his unique insights on data. Throughout the conversation, Travis and Kelly reference the Annual Incident Review Summary...

Episode 33 - Firefighter Cancer and Wellbeing 03/15/2024

NEW Podcast Episode!

Firefighter Cancer and Wellbeing

Tune in to find out what recent presumptive illness legislation means for wildland firefighters.

Episode 33 - Firefighter Cancer and Wellbeing Erik Apland talks with Erin Phelps and Kat DuBose about wildland fire presumptive illness legislation, some lessons associated with filing a cancer-related claim with the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, and firefighter exposure to environmental hazards. Erin and K...

03/14/2024

NEW Two More Chains!

What Did We Learn in 2023?

In this issue of Two More Chains, we focus on lessons gathered in 2023 and offer some specific calls to action.

Get it here: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/two-more-chains

Photos from Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center's post 03/06/2024

Dogwood Trail Tree Strike - January 2024, Texas.

While felling a sizeable southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), a sawyer was struck in the face by a falling limb, resulting in multiple injuries.

As the tree started falling, the FAL3 trainee moved away from the tree at a 45-degree angle, as is taught during chainsaw training. The trainee moved a distance of about 20 feet, keeping an eye on the tree as it fell. Just before the tree hit the ground, a limb about three inches in diameter and three feet in length was observed falling from the crown in the direction of the trainee. The limb appeared to have pushed against a large pine and sprung back in the direction of the trainee. It happened very quickly and someone yelled out a warning. Just as the trainee was tilting his head up to look for overhead hazards, the limb struck him vertically across the forehead/nose area. It struck the front brim of his hard hat, pushing it off of his head to the rear and it smashed his safety glasses. He immediately fell to the ground.

The sawyer had several medical appointmnets where it was discovered his nose bone had several fractures, his nose cartilage was displaced, and he had a fracture to his right cheek bone. A surgeon determined that the bottom part of his nose was completely destroyed and would have to be surgically rebuilt.

Lesson from the report:
"It is universally understood and accepted that using chainsaws to cut down trees is a dangerous job, but that is typically the tool we grab when getting a tree on the ground is the task at hand. While it is not always viable in some instances, it may be possible to utilize other mechanical means to complete the job, trading time and expense for increased safety for personnel."

Read this 6 page report for more context and lessons:
https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/dogwood-trail-tree-strike-2024

Episode 32 - Chance, Pain, Healing, and Hope 02/08/2024

New Podcast Episode!

Kelly Woods visits with Tyler Doggett in a candid conversation recorded in 2022 about some of the mental health difficulties that often accompany a career in wildland fire.

Tune in for a story about trauma, injury, healing, and hope.

Episode 32 - Chance, Pain, Healing, and Hope Kelly Woods visits with Tyler Doggett in a candid conversation about some of the mental health difficulties that often accompany a career in wildland fire. Tyler openly shares his story which includes a chance search and rescue, a shattered femur, battles with alcohol, and the loss of loved ones. It...

Photos from Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center's post 02/06/2024

The full Annual Incident Review Summary is out!

All the incidents and accidents recorded last year summarized in 10 pages. Use this summary to guide your annual refreshers and prepare for the 2024 Fire Year.

Get the full document here:
https://lessons.wildfire.gov/annual-incident-review-summaries

Buchanan Ridge Fire UTV Rollover 2023 | Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center 01/29/2024

Buchanan Ridge Fire UTV Rollover - December 2023

As the operator drove the UTV around the root ball, the front tire gained traction on the cut bank and quickly climbed up the bank, putting the center of gravity too high, causing a slow rollover.

Read this one page report here:

Buchanan Ridge Fire UTV Rollover 2023 | Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

01/05/2024

Lone Pine Fire Tree Strike - August 2023

Prior to engaging the crew on the second spot, Senior Firefighter1 scouted the area for hazards and conferred with Captain1. He identified a burning snag in the spot. He pushed on its base and “sounded” it with his hand tool. The height of the snag was difficult to determine because it was dark, but the snag held steady while he sounded it.
Sawyer1 and Sawyer2 continued cutting fireline with their swampers on the left flank as the rest of the crew arrived. Sawyer1 pointed out the snag to Sawyer2 and they cut their line wide around the hazard.
Sawyer2 communicated that he would work around Sawyer1 and his swamper while they finished bucking a log on the ground. As they progressed, Swamper1 was 5-10 feet away from Sawyer1, picking up the log that had just been cut. No one in the area heard a noise that would alert them to a falling tree. As Swamper1 turned back around, he saw the hazard snag falling toward Sawyer1.
As the top five feet of this 30-foot, p***y snag impacted Sawyer1 on the back of his hardhat, he dropped to the ground in a seated position. Swamper1 pulled Sawyer1 from under the burning snag. Sawyer2 heard the impact and looked behind him. He saw Sawyer1 on the ground and rushed to assist. Sawyer2 spoke to Sawyer1 and told him he had to move because there was fire all around him. He asked Sawyer1 to put his arms around him so he could help pull him away. Sawyer1 replied that he couldn’t lift his arms.

Over the radio, the crew heard “firefighter down, positive tree strike.”

For the rest of the story, read the full reoprt:
https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/lone-pine-fire-hit-by-tree-2023

Report includes a PPE Performance Report by the National Technology and Development Program

12/18/2023
Episode 31 - Two More Chains – Fire Workers | Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center 12/15/2023

NEW Podcast Episode!

Episode 31 - Two More Chains – Fire Workers

Travis Dotson and Erik Apland discuss the most recent issue of the quarterly publication Two More Chains centered on the wildland fire worker. Travis and Erik talk about the history and explore a few of the hot buttons we face today as fire seasons and the workforce change.

Listen Here:

Episode 31 - Two More Chains – Fire Workers | Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Travis Dotson and Erik Apland discuss the most recent issue of the quarterly publication Two More Chains centered on the wildland fire worker. Travis and Erik talk about the history and explore a few of the hot buttons we face today as fire seasons and the workforce change. Download the issue at: ht...

12/15/2023

NEW Two More Chains!

Who Are We and How Do We Best Move Forward?

In this issue of Two More Chains, we explore what it means to be a wildland firefighter by considering how we got here, what makes us unique, what makes us the same and how we can best move forward.

Download the lateset issue here: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/two-more-chains

12/14/2023

Anvil Fire Medical Extraction - October 2023
At 1700 hours, a report of a medical emergency Incident Within an
Incident (IWI) came over the command repeater. The initial Medical Incident Report (MIR) was for “heat exhaustion, patient unable to walk and patient condition: Yellow” (“PRIORITY 2 – Serious Injury or illness. Evacuation may be DELAYED if necessary.”)
The firefighter’s location was in steep, rugged country with heavy timber, mid-slope in Duvall Creek drainage. A Rapid Extraction Module Support (REMS) Team Leader reached the patient in just minutes at 1704, having been enroute to the accident site after hearing radio chater on the Tac Channel.
A short-haul helicopter was available at the Helibase, a 5-minute flight away. However, the decision was made to carry the patient up the steep slope to a ridgeline that climbed more gently to a Drop Point that had access to a good road and crew vehicle. The total distance over terrain to the Drop Point was about one mile.
It was initially thought that the patient could be carried up the initial, steeper portion to the gentler ridge, giving the patient time to recover and hike out the remaining portion. The total time to the Drop Point was estimated to be 1-1.5 hours.
Once atop the steep section, it was determined the patient still could not walk and would have to be carried the remaining distance. Therefore, the total carry time was 3 hours and 18 minutes, with an ambulance ride still ahead.
They arrived at the Drop Point at 2052 hours, almost 2 hours after
sunset.

An AAR the following morning raised questions regarding risk management and what is the best tool for patient extraction given various IWI scenarios.

Is there a perception that a medical incident must be “Red” (“Priority 1”) before considering the use of extraction aircrat? A patient could even be “Green” yet be unable to walk with a twisted knee or ankle—and be in a compromised location due to geography or fire behavior.

Read more in the full report:
https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/anvil-fire-extraction-2023

12/08/2023

Oregon Tree Felling Chainsaw Cut - October 2023

The tree would be felled with its natural lean by quartering it downhill. The sawyer used a standard conventional undercut to create a notch (AKA face cut). The sawyer then initiated a horizontal plunge-cut starting from the back and center of the tree. This cut extended all the way through the hinge and out the undercut. As a result, a portion of the hinge located in the center of the tree was removed, leaving two uncut sections of the hinge on either side. Each side had a large strap of wood behind the hinge that extended along the bole of the tree on both sides. The intention was to subsequently cut each of these straps separately, ensuring that they reached the desired thickness for the hinge.
During the back cut the tip of the chainsaw guide bar made contact with the strap wood, resulting in a kickback that was forceful enough to cause the guide bar to exit the back cut and strike the sawyer on their upper right arm.
The sawyer and road guard decided to address the wound by applying a tourniquet for the one hour drive to a hospital. At the hospital, after a thorough examination, it was determined it was safe to remove the tourniquet, which had been applied for nearly two hours. The 6-inch wound was sutured closed using 22 stiches.

Lessons:
Develop a cut plan that aims to minimize complexities while achieving the desired result.

When a tourniquet is the primary method employed to stop bleeding and there is a likelihood of long transportation times, it is crucial to carefully evaluate the potential consequences for the affected individual’s life and limb.

Get the full report here:
https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/oregon-tree-felling-chainsaw-cut-2023

Reflections on the Selma and Nuttall Staff Rides 12/05/2023

New Blog Post!
Reflections on the Selma and Nuttall Staff Rides

The staff rides explored themes of moral courage, cultural change, principled leadership, resolving disagreements, sharing critical information across cultural barriers, and loyalty.

Reflections on the Selma and Nuttall Staff Rides This blog post compares the staff ride experiences at the Nuttall Fire and Selma Civil Rights March. The author reflects on the nature of historical change and the small scale on which individual humans enact change.

11/28/2023

Morrisania Mesa Fire Entrapment - 9/30/2023

Before personnel from the BLM and USFS engines could complete their hose lay around the nearest residence, winds again substantially increased out of the west, causing the fire to hook south around their initial hose lay and make a run toward the east through the pinyon-juniper.
The fire covered approximately 200 yards in less than two minutes. Winds were estimated to be around 40 to 45 miles an hour.
The USFS and BLM engine captains decided to pull out with their engines. The BLM captain had difficulty disconnecting his engine from the hose lay due to the water pressure in the system. By the time he was disconnected, there were multiple spot fires
around his engine. The flaming front was only a few yards away.
He was able to get into the cab of the engine before the front passed around it. Then, despite poor visibility, he was able to drive his engine back onto the nearest road to where the USFS and BLM seasonal employees had already escaped.
The flaming front that impacted the BLM Type 4 engine had flame lengths of approximately 20 feet that melted several components on the back of the engine, including the electronic tank to pump switch which was now inoperable.

What are your local standard operating produces for engine protection (such as cut and run, engine protection lines, engine placement)?

Have you practiced engine protection drills?

Get the full report here: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/morrisania-mesa-fire-entrapment-2023

11/21/2023

NEW Data Points!

Over a 10-year span we have recorded eleven separate incidents related to UTVs catching fire.

Recurring Lesson: Equip all UTVs with an accessible and serviceable fire extinguisher.

Data Points is a publication produced by the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center to highlight a collection of similar events or lessons signaling a need for specific action. Data Points is published on an as needed basis as the result of ongoing analysis.

Get the latest version of Data Points here:
https://lessons.wildfire.gov/data-points

11/18/2023

Lone Pine Fire Entrapment - August 15, 2023

At the end of the left flank hoselay, FF-1 and FF-2 started to realize that the fire behavior below them was increasing. Their planned escape route into the cold black was less viable as the flank of the fire picked up—and escaping uphill would prove difficult. A first-year firefighter, FF-2 recalled, “I had three ‘Oh S***’ moments. One, when I looked back and realized how hard it was going to be to go back up. The second, when the fire activity picked up around me. And the third, when we lost water to the nozzle.” Flames from the leaf liter started contacting the brush. Instead of pulsing and laying back down, flame lengths started burning through the brush at 4 to 6 feet.
Realizing the situation that was in front of them, the senior firefighter (FF-1) requested a helicopter drop to cool down the fire underneath them. Through broken communication, the IC4 understood that FF-1 and FF-2 were in a compromised location and asked the K-MAX to drop on the fire’s left shoulder. The K-MAX banked low and dropped a bucket on the fire. But, almost immediately, the fire behavior picked back up, consuming brush and sending oak-liter embers all around them.
FF-1 started yelling and screaming at FF-2 to get moving up the hill. They were forced to bump laterally, away from the left flank of the fire and into the green. As FF-1 looked back to FF-2, his exhaustion was apparent, but it wasn’t clear whether or not he realized the gravity of the situation. FF-1 thought about running and making his own escape, but knew he would never forgive himself if something bad happened to FF-2.
FF-1 recalled, “We had two choices, drop packs and run for it—or deploy here.”
Next, there was a lull in the winds and FF-1 saw an opportunity to get both of them out. He grabbed FF-2 and began pushing him up the slope. Together, they made it back to the trunk line above the wye and were relieved to find the rest of the crew had made it out.

For those who were involved in the initial atack of the Lone Pine Fire, it took several days and several conversations to ultimately call their experience an “entrapment.” They knew it was life-threatening and they knew it was dangerous. But calling it “an entrapment” seemed too extreme.

It wasn’t until reviewing the NWCG definition of “Entrapment” with Six Rivers National Forest leadership that personnel were able to define their experience. There was no atempt to cover up or water down the experience. Strict interpretation of the NWCG glossary showed that it did meet the “Entrapment” definition. While codifying their experience in this way felt uneasy to many, the more they talked about it at every level, the more emphasis was placed on learning from it.

Read the full report here: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/lone-pine-fire-entrapment-2023

11/07/2023

Williams Fire Entrapment
On Friday, October 6, 2023, at approximately 1520 hours the Williams Incident occurred in the San Benito – Monterey Unit. A CAL FIRE engine was attempting to gain access to the vegetation fire when it became inoperable. As the fire progressed, it became established in a drainage below the engine’s location. The crew deployed two engine protection lines to defend their position while the fire burned through and past their location, causing them to seek refuge on the passenger side of the apparatus. A Fire Captain and two Firefighters suffered minor burn injuries.

Throughout the entire incident, the command presence and calm demeanor from all the involved functions and individuals played a pivotal role in the positive outcome. Upon further evaluation it was discovered that the Engine experienced a critical electronics failure
in the Body Control Module (BCM) that prevented the engine from moving.

Read the full report here: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/williams-fire-entrapment-2023

10/18/2023

Engine Damage
As the driver was pulling out of engine bay, the passenger side cargo bin door of Engine 7225 was left open and came into contact with the building and garage door frame. This caused damage to both the cargo door bin, garage door frame, and a load bearing wall. The cargo door is still functional. The garage door framing will have to be replaced.

Lessons:
We are going to amend some of the current SOP’s by adding a large mirror on the wall, giving drivers a better view of their surroundings. We are also going to move the keys to a strategic location where drivers complete a walk around by walking to where the keys are hanging.

Get this 2 page RLS here: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/montana-dillon-engine-accident-2023

320 Road Fire Entrapment 10/13/2023

New Blog Post!
"At this point, the Crew Boss turns and notices that A2 truck’s rear tires and bumper are on fire. Access to the vehicle is hampered by the heat from nearby spot fires."
Get a glimpse into the important lessons from this firing operation.

320 Road Fire Entrapment This is the story—originally featured in the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center’s quarterly publication Two More Chains—of a firing operation that resulted in a very close call.

10/11/2023

UTV Hit by Tree - Sherwood Creek Fire, Texas

Dozer 1 inadvertently sheared a 100-foot-tall pine tree. The operator did not feel the dozer shear the tree but saw the tree fall. He looked out and saw the taillights of the UTV turned vertically and immediately got out to assess the situation. The operator saw that the tree landed on top of the UTV and flipped it over on its side. He checked on the swamper who appeared to be uninjured, although his foot was caught in the UTV. The operator assisted the swamper with removing his boot, which freed him from the UTV.

Get the full report here: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/shearwood-creek-fire-utv-hit-by-tree-2023

Check out this related lesson about nighttime visibillity:
https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/magnetic-safety-light-2023

Price Canyon Fire Entrapment 10/05/2023

New Blog Post!

This is the story of initial attack on a rapidly growing fire. This is the type of assignment we train for and learn from.

Price Canyon Fire Entrapment This is the story—originally featured in the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center’s quarterly publication Two More Chains—of initial attack on a rapidly growing fire. This is the type of assignment that wildland firefighters train for and learn from.

10/03/2023

Snow Hill Fire, Texas - August 2, 2023.
Crews engaged the fire utilizing tractor plows, engines, and aviation resources from multiple agencies. When two additional tractor plow units arrived, the fire had spotted across Harrell Road at the heel of the fire, and they were tasked with containing that spot. While engaging the roughly 15-acre spot fire, one of those tractor plow crews stopped to swap operators. During that swap, fire activity drastically increased and rapidly approached the crew, causing two swampers to escape down their line, both of whom received burns in the process.
"Jack, still wearing his line pack, hurriedly entered the dozer, closed the door, and quickly decided his best option was to grab a load of dirt with the blade and push through the flame front. As he moved forward, he felt the heat from the fire, but he and the dozer remained unharmed while he made it into the black. Meanwhile, Noah and Dylan were on foot and faced with two possible escape options. They could either escape into the green, or they could run back down their plow line to the black. Given the uncertainty of running into unburned fuel, they quickly chose to run down the plow line."

Get the full report here: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/snow-hill-fire-entrapment-2023

Two More Chains – Lessons from Firing Operations 09/29/2023

NEW Podcast episode!

Kelly Woods and Travis Dotson discuss incidents featured in the latest issue of Two More Chains, the quarterly publication produced at the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. Each of the featured incidents involves firing operations. Their lessons are diverse and meaningful. More information on each of these incidents can be found on our website, www.lessons.wildfire.gov. Click on the Incident Review Database tab and start searching.

Listen here: https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-8d4ay-14ba0be

Two More Chains – Lessons from Firing Operations Kelly Woods and Travis Dotson discuss incidents featured in the latest issue of Two More Chains, the quarterly publication produced at the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. Each of the featured incidents involves firing operations. Their lessons are diverse and meaningful. More information on ea...

09/27/2023

NEW Issue of Two More Chains!

In this issue of Two More Chains, we invite you to study some fires you may not recall or of which you may have never heard. We also feature a first-hand account from someone who ran for their life on one of those fires.

Get it here: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/two-more-chains

Photos from Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center's post 09/25/2023

Anvil Fire Chainsaw Cut:

Sawyer 1 suddenly slipped. The slope just off the ridge was approximately 20 percent. Sawyer 1’s feet flew out from under them. Due to the forceful nature of the fall, they also lost control of their “full throttle” chainsaw—it falling to their left, parallel to their body. Knowing they were falling dangerously close to the saw, Sawyer 1 reached out to push the saw away so they wouldn’t fall directly onto it—severely impacting three fingers on their left hand.

Lessons:
Wearing all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial for sawyers. In this case, Sawyer 1 had correctly fitted and worn all required PPE. This likely played a large role in reducing the severity of their injuries.

In a trauma situation, it is crucial for first responders to not only provide appropriate care for obvious injuries, but also perform a full body check on the patient. In this specific incident, due to the sawyer’s adrenaline response and other factors, a full body check was neglected. It was only discovered approximately three hours later at the hospital that Sawyer 1 had also sustained a chainsaw impact on the left side of their body during the fall, resulting
in an additional six-inch cut.

Read this 3 page RLS here:
https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident/anvil-fire-chainsaw-cut-2023

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Why Do We Have a Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center?

“The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center is the only place that maintains a comprehensive record of past incidents and accidents [Incident Review Database].

If we can’t learn from our history, then we should just consider wildland fire management a hobby and not a profession.” Regional Fire Manager

Where did The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center come from and why do we exist? These are important questions and their answers provide context to our mission and the variety of ways we carry it out.

In 1994, 34 wildland firefighters lost their lives in the line of duty, 14 of them on the South Canyon Fire. This tragic season triggered the interagency TriData Firefighter Safety Awareness Study that recommended a permanent “lessons learned” program be established for wildland firefighters: Wildland Fire Safety Awareness Study Phase III, Appendix A.

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