Be the One

Redding IHC Crewmember – 2016

The South Canyon Staff Ride is one of the most valuable experiences of the Redding IHC program. This staff ride provides a powerful and meaningful way to learn from the tragedy of Storm King Mountain.

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Another advantage of this event is the diversity of participants, ranging from first year forestry technicians to regional office and national office fire and aviation managers. The lessons learned and emotions felt on Storm King Mountain make this staff ride worthwhile and extremely useful in the development of high-quality forestry technicians and leadership.

Redding IHC concludes their intensive six-week training program with the South Canyon Staff Ride. After reading the South Canyon Investigative Report and “Fire on the Mountain” by John Maclean, Redding crewmembers speak and help facilitate at the various stands throughout the staff ride.

In addition to short speeches at the stands, participants engage in many tactical decision games. Tactical decision games encourage participants to engage in thought-provoking group conversations. Participants experience and learn from the actual fire environment, topography, and human factors of the tragedy on Storm King.

In addition to these facilitated conversations, Redding crewmembers perform the actual “1,880-foot run” that claimed the lives of so many on July 6, 1994. Crewmembers exhaustedly run past the stone crosses of the fallen with fire shelters in their hands, hoping to be as fast as Eric Hipke was on that fateful day.

Eric Hipke is a wealth of knowledge. Learning directly from him is a real privilege. Learning from his experiences and emotions really opens the eyes of forestry technicians and places all of the material into a meaningful, emotional context. As a wise person stated at the integration dinner, “Emotion is the glue that connects experience to memory.” All of the Subject Matter Experts are pivotal to a successful learning experience on Storm King Mountain.

The varying experience levels of participants also fosters a broader learning opportunity. First year forestry technicians have significantly different points of view compared to those of national office fire and aviation managers. Bringing all of these leadership elements together into one facilitated group allows the participants to share their backgrounds and experiences in a meaningful way, learning from those that have fallen in the line of duty. “It’s all about the people.”

The integration dinner gives everyone an opportunity to share one or two things that they learned from the South Canyon Staff Ride. People of all ranks shared some powerful lessons and messages, including: “Practice without consequences.” “Expectations drive preparations.” “You can’t eliminate risk, just trade it. Be sure to trade up.” “Emotion is not weakness.” “Be the one.”

The Redding IHC 2016 South Canyon Staff Ride was an incredible learning experience. I would encourage all forestry technicians to attend in the future. Everyone can and should learn something from those who fell on Storm King Mountain.

My Commitment to Being a Student of Fire

Redding IHC Crewmember – 2012

I have been an employee of this agency for eight years now and can honestly say that as a teaching tool no lessons learned experience thus far in my career has ever come close to providing what the South Canyon Staff Ride provided for me.

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I had attended the Rattlesnake Staff Ride on the Mendocino National Forest two times before attending the South Canyon Staff Ride. And though the Rattlesnake event was a well-coordinated staff ride, the differences that set these two staff rides apart are why the South Canyon Staff Ride is such an important training tool.

First off, the amount of investigative work put into the fire behavior analysis of this event coupled with the book “Fire on the Mountain” provide an extremely in-depth analysis of the event and the details surrounding it from beginning to end. That the Redding IHC gives this material out to its crewmembers to read and digest prior to attending the staff ride is extremely important because it sets the foundation for understanding the decisions and dynamics of the resources and the agency at that point in time.

This staff ride is historically important in so far as the agency is concerned because this tragedy was the catalyst for a fundamental shift in agency attitude by admitting, finally, that human factors were at play and, as a result, these factors would now have to be studied.

That Redding IHC uses its crewmembers to brief the folks attending the staff ride on the human factors that were present and in play during various phases of the fire is extremely important because it exposes the crewmembers to the concept of human factors and sets the stage for all those in attendance who may not be familiar with the details of the tragedy.

Perhaps the most important thing that sets this experience apart from the others is that at the very spot in which the event took place you get to hear the story from the survivors themselves. You can see it on their faces, hear it in their voices, and feel the emotion as they recount the events on the timeline and walk you along the ground where their brothers’ and sisters’ crosses still stand. I will never forget what I saw and heard from the survivors. Their stories will forever serve to reinforce my commitment to being a student of fire and a professional for this agency.

I’d like to point out that the combination of the above mentioned elements was critical to this staff ride and the effect it had on me personally. I felt fully engaged in every way due to the amount of information I was given, the time I was given to prep the human factors briefings, and the extra time we were given to walk the hill on our own to digest the information we felt was of personal significance.

All of these components fit together like pieces of a lessons learned instructional puzzle. The Redding IHC provided all those pieces for its crew and for the collective group. Multiple agencies and personnel are present at this event. I truly believe that the quality of this staff ride has a lot to do with those who step up to manage the details of putting it together so that everyone in attendance gets the best possible product.

I was not aware prior to coming here as a crewmember the amount of time and energy the Redding IHC program invests in this staff ride. They fill multiple roles, from incident commander of the entire staff ride to team leads and squads who give informational briefings, from the introduction phase to the closeout dinner. They help maintain the trails and the stands of the actual fire site and are key players in the logistical coordination of the entire event. To lose their involvement would be extremely detrimental to the quality of the staff ride and would be a disservice to future crewmembers of the Redding IHC.

To put it bluntly, the Redding IHC has produced some of the finest leaders in the U.S. Forest Service over the course of this crew’s existence. There is a reason people come to this crew. They know they will be given a unique opportunity to receive high-quality training and have the opportunity to thrive in a pure learning environment. The staff ride and the experience gained from it epitomizes the Redding experience and ties in everything they teach during the previous seven weeks. It is vital that they are allowed to continue to uphold their training standard.

Redding Hotshots Share Their South Canyon Staff Ride Reflections

Redding IHC LogoThis week we will feature “South Canyon Staff Ride Reflections” from members of the Redding Interagency Hotshot Crew. Every year at the start of the season the Redding Hotshots travel to Colorado and participate in the South Canyon Staff Ride. Each member of the crew is asked to write down their thoughts and reflections on this experience.

Throughout this week we will share several of these reflections with you. As you will see, there is much to learn from these firefighter’s personal insights.


There is no ‘That Will Never Happen to Me’ Anymore

Redding IHC Crewmember – 2015

I still remember where I was in July of 1994 when the news reported that several firefighters had been killed on Storm King Mountain while fighting the South Canyon Fire. Many people remember where they were that day; it was an event that seemingly stopped time for the wildland fire community.

I, however, was not yet a part of that community, not a working member anyway. I was seven years old, standing in my aunt’s living room in Boise, Idaho on summer vacation. It is still clear in my mind to this day.

Redding 3

Growing up in the wildland fire service, South Canyon stayed with me, and I became more and more curious about it. I have studied it over and over, and though I’ve read every book and watched every video available, I couldn’t begin to imagine the impact that standing on the mountain with those who survived would have on me.

Before the staff ride, South Canyon was just a “paper fire” with a known outcome. Looking at pictures and maps, I found myself second-guessing their decisions, wondering how they could have taken the actions they did. However, hiking the mountain and hearing the accounts from the Subject Matter Experts gave me an entirely new and humbling perspective.

The “mistakes” no longer seemed glaringly obvious. During the tactical decision games, I found myself making many of the same decisions that were made that day. I realized that it was not a single major decision that led to the outcome on July 6, 1994. Rather, it was a series of small decisions that lined-up perfectly to result in tragedy.

Running the West Flank Line and touching the crosses brought South Canyon to life. The events that unfolded became more than just a story. I realized that tragedy like this could happen to anyone—including me.

There is no “that will never happen to me” anymore. Because of South Canyon, my generation has been raised to look at things differently, to speak up, and to challenge things that don’t feel right. It is my responsibility to gain every possible piece of knowledge and experience I can in the hopes of recognizing situations with life-threatening potential before they turn into tragedy, and to voice my concerns.

The South Canyon Staff Ride has encouraged me to continue to be a student of fire, and take every opportunity to walk the ground and learn from past incidents, especially tragedy fires. I have learned so much from this opportunity. However, I don’t think that the full impact that South Canyon has had on me can really be measured, just as the countless number of lives saved by the lessons learned from the sacrifice of those who died there will never truly be known.

 

It’s Here (and it’s purple)

By Travis Dotson

Yep. The new IRPG is out, and I guarantee you will not mistake it for an old one.

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2018 Incident Response Pocket Guides

Good call NWCG – this cover will do exactly what it’s intended to do – set this version apart.

But why are we even talking about the window dressing? Let’s get to the meat.

Check out the list of parts with significant changes:

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List of Significant Changes

That’s a lot of big deal stuff. You should go through this list item by item to get familiar with it.

See that last item on the list? You might want to pay special attention to that one.

Yeah, the Medical Incident Report changed. You know, that super critical communication tool we use when our sisters and brothers get hurt.

Look close:

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New Medical Incident Report

How many lines do you see? That’s right: 8 not 9.

Yeah, it’s different – that’s OK.

This is an improvement.

This is the one we have.

Uniformity matters.

Now do these two things:

  • Make sure you have this one (we all need to play off the same sheet of music).
  • Practice using this one. Drill Drill Drill – it really helps.

Eyes forward folks – let’s get to work on getting better.

Complaining is not work.


Download the new version here: IRPG Download

Ordering information for the new IRPG here: NWCG Ordering

Download new Medical Incident Report here: Medical Incident Report

Lug Nuts, Skid Plates, Gas Tanks, and Dozer Brakes

By Travis Dotson

The Winter 2018 issue of Two More Chains is out. You should stop reading this and go read the actual issue.

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You are still here so I will keep going.

A quote from the intro:

“We at the LLC have been accused on more than one occasion of shouting at the masses from the comfort of soft chairs in the tallest of ivory towers. Fair enough. Although you really should invest in a climb up to our high point. The view is great from up here—good spot for a lookout.”

This refers to all those times we have tackled topics like culture, identity, risk, learning organizations, and all the other big picture type stuff we like to unpack, daylight, and question in pursuit of growth. This current issue of Two More Chains is an attempt to level out our approach – get some nitty gritty “get better” lessons circulated based on recent incidents. (I spew my spew about the “get better model” in the Ground Truths section. Read it to get context on the highlighted pull quote below.)

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In the main portion of this issue a few nuggets call for action. These are not new if you’ve been paying attention, but it doesn’t hurt to have them float to the top for a polish every now and then. Here they are:


When the Wheels Come Off

Can you guess what these images have to do with lug nuts?

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The Floor is On Fire

Yep – dry grass and twigs collect between the skid plate and floorboard of several UTVs – then we drive around in the giant ignition source we all love to fight.

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Fuel Geysers and Your Brain

22 fuel geyser incidents recorded in 2017 – it’s still happening folks.

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TSA Opens Firefighter’s Fire Shelter Case

TSA doing their job could impact the unexpected emergency moment you carry this thing for.

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Those are all the real Nuts and Bolts type stuff. And then there is this, the best part of the whole issue:

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This is an interview with this dude, veteran dozer operator Bryan Baxter from the San Bernardino National Forest.

While he has plenty of lessons for your plate, you should go read this because it explains the rest of the story around this:

“Gary had to quickly jump over the blade to prevent being consumed by the tracks.”

Bryan took that event and inspired large-scale learning about the placement of controls inside the cab of certain dozers.

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Bam.

You’re still here.

Go read it, already: Winter 2018 Two More Chains.

What THEY Said

As our work on the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary continues, we’ve got some more analysis to share with you.  Read this.  Do the Exercise and give us some feedback.  The final version of the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary will be out soon!


By Travis Dotson

In 2017, the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center gathered information on more than 130 incidents. Most of these incidents have some sort of report. Many of these reports contain lessons from the perspective of those involved. Here are a few of those lessons – straight out of the reports. Click on the links to the reports if you want more context.


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“It’s always nice if fallers have an opportunity to assess and fell hazard trees in an area prior to other firefighters coming in. This is not always available or convenient.

When receiving your assignment, do you always ask if fallers have been through the area?

-What specific scenarios will trigger you to not work in an area until a full hazard tree assessment has been done?”

Tree Strikes Parked Engine


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Plan for Slow

“When establishing trigger points, considerations have to be made for the slow operational speed of heavy equipment (2-3 mph), the slow process for loading and transporting heavy equipment, and the length of the escape route.”

“Effective communications and lookouts ensured that personnel escaped prior to being overrun by the fire. However, there was little margin for error.”

Sheep Gap Heavy Equipment Burnover


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“ ‘Previous FLAs that I found on a quick Google search helped me make my decision to go to the ER. They were a good resource.’ Ricky cites the following document—created for Crew Leaders to carry with them and take to the hospital when presenting someone with a potential case of Rhabdomyolysis—as being especially helpful in his case: Rhabdomyolysis in Wildland Firefighters

IHC PT Rhabdo Case


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Get Gone or Look Up?

“Do you focus on escape and not pause to look back? Or do you take a few steps and pause for a quick glance back to make sure everything is good? You will have to make this decision for yourself. Use this incident as a way to discuss this ‘where to look’ dilemma with fellow sawyers.”

Sawyer Hit by Tree Top


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“When it comes to assessing fatigue, listen to your body and what it is telling you, not your mind. It may be necessary to accept low-quality rest in order to eliminate driving exposure when your body is tired. The lack of sleep adversely affects sound decision making.”

Return from Initial Attack Vehicle Accident


There you have it, just a few lessons from the front.

Remember, these are just words. YOU choose if they become action.

Circle up and do this simple exercise:


Do the exercise.

Exercise!

 Individually:

  • Identify one of these five lessons that is most important to you.
  • Write down two steps you can take to implement/practice your chosen lesson.

Together:

  • Share your top-priority lesson and implementation steps.
  • Discuss what you do with lessons that can’t be implemented until you’re out on the fireline…how can you improve the likelihood of remembering the lesson?

 

 

Sorting the Lumps

As our work on the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary continues, we’ve got some more analysis to share with you.  Read this.  Do the Exercise and give us some feedback.  The final version of the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary will be out soon!


By Travis Dotson

Graph showing 2017 wildland fire incidents

There it is – the 2017 season boiled down to a few lines and numbers. These are all of the “outcomes” from reports submitted to the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. (You can see incidents sorted by “Activity” in last week’s post: “Smokeless Danger“) I made up the categories and sorted them all. For this particular boring graph I tried to simplify everything as much as I could, lumping categories so I had fewer categories (like combining Hit by Tree, Hit by Straw, and Hit by Vehicle).

I’m a lumper…you may be a splitter. I’m ok and your ok (so I’ve heard), but I’ll go into a bit of detail for all you splitters out there. Let’s just go right down the list starting from the “top.”

Exertion – This was almost exclusively made up of Rhabdo and Heat Illness reports (28 out of 31) mostly because there is a specific reporting mechanism (Rhabdo/HRI) for those types of reports. This does not change the fact that the incidents did indeed occur, I just think it’s fair to acknowledge the reporting does seem to follow what we focus on. Nonetheless, HRI and Rhabdo will put you or your crewmembers in the hospital. Plan for it.

Fuel Geyser – Another specific reporting form (Fuel Geyser) helped us get more data on the danger of fuel in your face. So while it’s still happening, it’s fantastic to note that we are seeing significantly fewer injuries associated with the geysers. Is this the result of awareness and education actually working? We would like to think so. Either way, keep pointing that cap away from your vitals when you go to open the tank. Better yet – cover it with a rag, because the geyser remains a distinct possibility.

Entrapment – Big year for entrapments. Heavy equipment got caught the most. They get stumped and they move slow. Fire does not get stumped and it can go from slow to fast very fast. Firing Ops is the other time we often get entrapped – playing with fire is just that. One interesting note, in 2018, of the 20 reports that met the NWCG definition for “Entrapment”, only four chose to describe the event as an entrapment. Why do we avoid that term? (Get busy in the comments y’all.)

Vehicle Accident – Pretty standard. Driving is double-digit danger. We had a few rollovers and a chase truck vs power pole. But what stood out this year was the wheels coming off, or almost coming off. Three different instances of loose lug nuts. Go check your wheels right now (and get serious with those morning PM checks!)

Hit by Stuff – Mostly trees and branches from trees, but also straw from a helicopter. Most of the hit by tree instances involved chainsaw ops, but not always. Those trees will fall on you or throw their big branches at you randomly sometimes. Don’t hang out under them if you don’t need to.

Equipment Damage – Now there’s a broad category. This is usually vehicles being burned. This year there were three of those fire-damaged vehicles plus a couple big rigs (dozer transport and a skidgine) that rolled into trees – super close calls in both instances. Also, one engine’s light bar fell off on the way back to the barn. Check your brakes and the screws on your light bar.

Burn Injury – This bucket always shows up, but this year it wasn’t as full as in previous years. We had multiple instances of folks falling into hot ash, as we do every year. A fire-whirl rolled over an engine on a prescribed fire, someone grabbed a pump exhaust pipe in the dark, and one of those many fuel geyser’s did end up with a fuel ignition/burn injury. There was also one instance of a blown hose spewing hot water resulting in serious burns. In terms of burn injury lessons, this is the one you should read: Temple Fire Burn Injury

Medical Emergency – Super broad category, but it loses its umph when you take out the “exertion” events. What’s left is exactly what you would suspect – cardiac events, seizures, and other unpredictable, high stakes scariness. It might even happen while you are in travel status. Get ready.

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Uno Peak Boulder Near Miss

Close Call – I didn’t have enough room to call this the “No s#!t there I was” category – but that’s what it is. When you end up cartwheeling over a dozer blade. When you’re driving down the road and your brakes fail. When a boulder rolls between two trucks. That kind of stuff.  Random exists whether we want it to or not.

Chainsaw Cut – This is a super sneaky category. There were only three chainsaw cuts this year, but the significance cannot be overstated. Someone died from a chainsaw cut.

All the cuts were to swampers. And it’s going to happen again. Go slow. Be careful. Respect the spinning chain.

Other – There is always “Other.” This year it was a fall off a ladder during structure prep, hazmat exposure during mop up, and a PT session turned search and rescue. Don’t hate…you could be next.

Ok, there’s all the dirty details you pesky splitters. Please do something with all of this information, at least do this exercise:


Do the exercise.

Exercise!

  • Get with two other firefighters and write down which category above means the most to you.
  • Talk with each other about why the category matters to you.
  • Take turns describing what kind of incident you are most likely to experience based on the numbers and your brand of exposure.
  • Write down three ways to prepare for your bad day.

 


 

Smokeless Danger

At the beginning of each year we summarize and analyze incident reports from the previous year.  Check out these previous summaries.  This year we will post individual topics here as we complete portions of the analysis.  Take a look, engage with the exercises, and give us some feedback.  The complete 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary will be out soon. 


By Travis Dotson

This is a graph of incidents reported to the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. This particular graph separates the incidents by Activity (what were they doing when the incident occurred).

There are lots of interesting things to talk about in this graph, please show it to someone who cares and have a nice little talk about what it means to you both. Maybe even circle up with a few others and do the exercise at the end.

2017_IncidentsActivityPTvsFire

2017 Incidents by Activity Graph

I’m sure we all have plenty to say about the “top 3.” They consist of:

  • Chainsaw Ops
  • Driving
  • Physical Training

These are all things we do on a regular basis. Just these three activity types account for 58% of the total. That means in 2017, whenever a report was created and sent to us, more than half the time it was related to someone running a saw, driving, or doing PT.

Take note that none of these activities require a fire. For many of us these are activities we do every day. That’s telling. It means things we do a lot are things that bite us in the ass.

What am I getting at? It’s pretty simple. The “danger” isn’t necessarily hiding on the fireline, it’s stitched right into your daily activities.

Are the briefings before PT different than the ones before the big burn show on Division Delta? Of course they are. They are different activities. Plus, none of us could tolerate a big deal briefing every day before PT.

Maybe I should reframe it: which operation is more likely to go bad? That, of course, is a loaded question. You can slice and dice the exposure, frequency, risk, danger, possibility, hazard pie all kinds of crazy. You could make this a spicy dish with whatever flavor your over analysis happens to be. You could also use math, but I think you might need other numbers to do that. I don’t have the numbers or the math mojo to tackle it.

But I do know that I don’t think of PT as dangerous. Turns out I’m wrong. Imagine that.

Get together with the people you PT with and do this simple exercise:


Wheel

Exercise (15 minutes) In small groups discuss the following questions:

Is PT really more dangerous than Firing Ops?

What is the danger of NOT doing PT?

Is your medical plan equally good for both operations (PT and Firing Ops)? – Should it be?

That’s all.

Now go PT.


 

Fatal Attraction

As our work on the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary continues, we’ve got some more analysis to share with you.  Read this.  Do the Exercise, and give us some feedback.  The final version of the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary will be out soon!


By Travis Dotson

We love to know how many firefighters died. It’s the only number anyone has ever frantically demanded of the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center – all other numbers inspire no urgency.

Why do we want to know? What is this morbid fascination? Is it morbid?

The highly esteemed Urban Dictionary has a definition for the term “Fatal Attraction” –

“An attraction between an individual and someone/something that is so strong, the individual lacks reason and logic in their thinking when dealing with their attraction.”

obsessed-with-work

Does our fascination with firefighter fatalities fit this description? Do we lack reason and logic when dealing with our attraction? The most basic line of thinking goes something like this – if we pay attention to dead firefighters there will be fewer dead firefighters in the future. That feels reasonable, but is it?

Here are the basics from 2017.

2017 Wildland Firefighter Fatalities

Vehicle Accident: 4

Medical Emergency: 3

Hit by Tree: 3

Entrapment: 2

Hit by Straw: 1

Chainsaw Cut: 1

Total: 14

Now what?

How will you use logic and reason when thinking about this topic?

Is this year any different? Here are the numbers from the past ten years:

10yrsFatal

 

 

We can go past ten years as well. The average number of fatalities over the past 30 years is just under 17. In case you are wondering, that’s 500 deaths since 1988.

Now what?

I don’t know – and I’m the analyst at the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center.

What if we just thought about how we talk about Line of Duty Death?

Gather up with your fellow risk-takers and do this:


Exercise (30 minutes)Wheel

Part 1 (5 mins)

  • Individually list as many “sayings” as you can about Line of Duty Deaths – for example, “we haven’t found any new ways to kill firefighters” or “all our lessons are written in blood.”

Part 2 (25 mins)

  • Take turns saying one to the larger group. Discuss what these sayings really communicate.
    • Are they true?
    • Are they useful?

 

I have no idea if that exercise includes any logic or reason, but it does get us to examine the words we use and why.

Maybe we should try changing our words – or at least know exactly why we say them.

Mic Drop

As our work on the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary continues, we’ve got some more analysis to share with you.  Read this.  Do the Exercise, and give us some feedback.  The final version of the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary will be out soon!


By Travis Dotson

You got a mic? Are you a wrapper?

Ha Ha – lots of people didn’t get that.

Rewind:

  • Do you have an external microphone for your radio? (“mic”)
  • Do you wrap the cord through the webbing on your line pack? (“wrapper”)

See how it’s not funny when I explain it?

What the hell am I even talking about?

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An External Radio Mic

I’m talking about needing to ditch your gear, grab your radio, and run for your life. See, that’s where the mic cord becomes a problem. The problem is when you are trying to escape from a wall of flame bearing down on you it can get hard to do things – especially things that need to be done fast. Fiddling with intricate little parts is a giant pain in the ass – especially with gloves on, and when it’s hot and you know with more intensity than you ever have that the smallest delay is deadly. Literally deadly.

You know where I’m going. It turns out it’s rather difficult to ditch your gear, grab your shelter, radio, and water when your radio mic is woven through the gear you are trying to ditch.

For those of you who are thinking “just don’t weave the cord, let it hang loose” – you might never have tried to actually work, especially in brush, with a loose cord dangling here and there. The environment we operate in is mean. It turns out trees, brush, tools…even rocks, all have deceptively intense grip, strength, reach, and are plain old sneaky as shit. That cord will be grabbed and held when and where you least expect it. This is why we invest so much attention in a tightly woven cord. We are trying to outwit the wrathful reach of that vengeful vegetation.

Yes, the mic cord is intentionally woven tight for good reason. But that good reason gets tangled up with survival in certain situations.

Check it out:

From the 2012 Holloway Entrapment report: “Firefighter A moves into the only opening she can see, removes her pack, gloves, then removes the fire shelter, discards her fuel bottle, and attempts to remove the radio and water from pack. She has difficulty retrieving the radio due to the remote microphone cord being intertwined in the line pack webbing.”

From the 2017 Preacher Fire Entrapment report: “Iron Mountain lookout was trained to drop line gear to lighten his load. He knew he needed to take his radio, fire shelter and hand tool. He threw his line gear on the upper cut bank of the road to remove his equipment. The cord to his external speaker mic was woven into the webbing of his line gear, which is something that many firefighters do to keep the cord out of the way. The urgency of the situation made it even more difficult to disconnect his radio mic. He felt it took an extraordinary amount of time and was extremely frustrated when he finally removed the radio from his line gear.”

 

See the problem? Pretty straightforward. When you are running for your life and go to ditch your gear but want to keep your radio (as you were trained) that external mic can be a real time sink, and you got no time to sink.

So what to do? Figure it out yourself. I’m not trying to be an ass. I just know we are a bunch of inventive bunnies and we put a lot of stock in things we come up with ourselves which means you are likely much better served if you customize a solution that works for you. So go do it.

You just got served (a lesson that is).


Wheel

Exercise (30 minutes)

  • Gather up with a few other folks who carry radios. Discuss the practice of “weaving your mic cord” through pack webbing.
    • What are the pros and cons? (10 mins)
  • Identify 3 ways to avoid the cord problem from the entrapment fires listed above. (10 mins)
  • Decide as a group if there is a reason to make a rule about this type of cord set-up? (Take a vote if you need to.) (10 mins)

Go get your gear if you need to make changes.