Friday, January 31, 2014

Mound House Staff Ride - Remembering Keith Lemmons

Mound fire sketch
(Photo credit: Always Remember)
Looking Back and Remembering Our Fallen

In 1983, on the Carson City District, NV BLM, the Mound House fire claimed the life of Keith Lemmons. During the winter months of 2013, the staff of the Carson City District developed the Mound House Staff Ride. Staff reviewed the accident report, made multiple site visits, and conducted interviews with people involved with the fire including the supervisor of the affected fire engine. Once all the information was compiled, the staff developed four different stands to complete the staff ride.

During the spring and early summer of 2013, the Mound House Staff Ride was presented multiple times to over 175 total people. Those attending were from the local district and local cooperators.

What We Noted
  • The Bureau of Land Management’s Carson City District was experiencing an above average fire season. 
  • Fire danger indices were at very high to extreme levels. 
  • Acres burned were twice the annual average, and fire starts are well above average. 
  • Cooperative agreements were “old and weak between agencies” suggesting that they were out of date and/or not meeting the needs of the agencies involved. Most weren't even familiar with them.
  • Communication along the front country was very poor. 
    • Eleven different departments responded to the Mound House fire, all having their own frequencies.  
    • No mutually agreed command or tactical frequencies were assigned. 
    • BLM had one command frequency and one simplex frequency. 
    • No dedicated air-to-ground was available.
  • The engine crew involved in the burnover on the Mound House fire was a "thrown-together" crew. 
  • It was Keith Lemmons’ first day on the engine.
What We Learned from Developing and Delivering a Local Staff Ride
  • Remembering and learning from our District’s history helps bring the importance of what we do closer to heart.
  • Helped create District cohesion.
  • Helped in the understanding of high reliability organizations (HROs). 
    • Provided plenty of examples of HRO and where understanding the concepts of HRO may have helped.
  • Helped create even more District pride to see where we have come from.
  • Helped identify areas that need focused attention.
  • Provided an opportunity for the District’s cooperators to come together and learn and continue to develop positive working relationships.

From the Field for the Field logo

Thanks to the Carson City District, Nevada BLM for this From the Field for the Field submission. Contact Shane McDonald, FMO, regarding the process Carson City used to created their staff ride.


Ron Sampson said...

I will always remember Keith as a good friend and fellow firefighter. Keith and I grew up together, went to school together, and worked together in the Forest Servive. Keith was a highly trained professional wildland firefighter whose memory lives on in our hearts and is remembered in three monuments erected in his honor. The monuments are located in the Columbia Gorge (where he started his career), the firefighters memorial, and in Moundhouse Nevada. Comments made by the "Moundhouse Staff Ride" participants should be respectful of Keith's professional firefighting experience and should focus more on his fellow crew members who left him behind.

Stephanie Potts said...

Thank You, Ron.