Worst fire season ever!

As I start my 32nd fire season, I look back and reminisce on my previous 31 fire seasons (especially when I became a new C/O), and humbly ponder, will this upcoming season be the worst fire season ever?? I doubt it.

With the influx of new/newer company officers/module leaders, I can’t help but be overly cautious regarding sound fireground decisions being made in and about the fire scene.

I rely on and trust managements decisions to promote our future (our replacements) leaders. But the cautious portion of me is terrified.

I guess what I am asking from the old dogs is, please share on this page, stories, quotes, slides, and lessons learned, that set you up for success, so we can pass this experience on to our up and comers.

My .02,
You can have all the 10’s & 18’s, LCES and downhill checklists, every policy and procedure known, but if you do not back it up with sound decision making, the previous does not matter.


Great topic
With the state of education in 2024 and students being taught
WHAT to think instead of
HOW to think.
The increasing percentage of retirements by “seasoned” FF
Compared to the Increasing percentage of “new” CO.
You have valid concerns.


Very true and a topic that is often overlooked by those who make policy and law.


Heck, that was a major concern in the mid 2000’s when I retired, I can only imagine today what leadership is out there! Standards have been reduced, open FC lists, etc. Wow!


Open List Fire Captains have been hired for over 40 years by CALFIRE. Do the names Paul Benson or Scott Upton sound familiar?


Paul Benson was a good guy. Was my Unit Chief for awhile. He hired me. The hiring process today isn’t as difficult as it was in the 90’s. Back then there were 1000’s of people for every job, you had to sell yourself and your experience to get hired, promoted. Today, there’s very few people for all the openings and if you can walk and breath you get a job or promoted. That’s all I’m saying. Much different times, and some extremely talented individuals as leaders with backgrounds and experience to make very serious and tough decisions. When they gave direction you knew it was the right thing to do! That’s all.


It starts with formation and the institutional values of teamwork and transparency, that we do not bet our lives, our homes, and our work, on one chosen one with a chainsaw, or a secret council. This includes not betting the budget on fortune tellers with digital crystal balls.

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It will be your worst fire season ever if you get in a vehcile accident. More firefighters get hurt going to or returning from calls. Speed kills! I heard a BC get on an engineer for, “Driving an Engine like it was going to be the last time it was going to be used”. The engines need to last 10-15 years. Take it easy on the roads. New drivers don’t know all the limitations of the rig and thier own ability. During my 36 year career, I got in two accidents, both could have been prevented if I had slowed down. Both were during the first part of my career. You don’t feel very good when the Deputy Fire Chief comes out to do an investigation. Not my shining moment. Make this year your “Best Fire Season Ever”, by keeping yourself, your equipment, and most importantly, your people safe by driving in control.



This accident was easily preventable if the supervisors had taken action and I was saddened by the lack of disciplinary action from two individuals I knew personally and they wouldn’t have tolerated anything the driver was reported doing prior when i was there back in 2005. One was my supervisor who later moved up to center sup. I had to have a class B with passenger endorsements before I could drive THAT van, I needed that license to promote. We always put 3 people per crew on vehicle inspections and 1 would always be on seat belt detail to get them from between the seats, corpsmembers would always stick them between the seats when we were on the road.

This accident happened 10 years to the day I left the ccc, the driver was the same age i was in the ccc, and same first name. I had actually worked with a few of them a couple days prior at Millerton lake. Crews always talk to each other about the job, who needs to fill out an I-D-10-T form, and supervisors chat with the crews.

When reckless behavior gets ignored by those higher up it normalizes the behavior and the guys at the bottom stop reporting it and then something bad usually follows. I work along the most dangerous 3 mile stretch of road in fresno county and I don’t like seeing a 35000lb truck going 65 in a 50.

Let’s normalize the good behaviors, taking advice from the more experienced while encouraging the newer guys to keep their ears open but don’t stay silent because you are allowed to ask questions.


This hits home. I might have expected more heat on Duncan for putting the keys in his hand and allowing him to skate on the vehicle inspections and seatbelts. Corpsmember, I drove both 15-passenger vans and duallys. I was the Academy and Construction Unit Duty Driver for a little while, the dude picking people up from the SLO Greyhound station at 2am in '92. Especially, after the heat that came down on the crews for being caught in sunglasses when we were supposed to be in goggles? Coolio. You put on the seatbelt, or you got out of my vehicle, no exceptions.


Tried to send you a personal message about a few issues fresno had but couldn’t.

Hm. Checked my settings. Nothing obviously turned off. Not trying to investigate the thing, just that it’s one of those fundamentals, like formation, the Cs should be tuned in to, particularly those who would ‘play the top’, imo. In retrospect, it’s easy to say, “…and that’s why I was content to be a senior Specialist.” I had the ambition, too, but it does seem abundantly clear that Finnell’s rise was much too fast. All that I could say, at this point.

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Every year in our returning seasonal rehire training Chief Miller would tell us this was going to be a bad season. Whether we had a lot of rain that boosted the grass crop or little rain and things were dry, things weren’t looking good.
Expect it to be bad and train for the worst.


Any Fire Season can be the worst ever! If you/your troops are Unprepared, Untrained, not Motivated,
Lazy, and don’t give a rat’s a@@ about anything. When they do get to an incident it shows(total chaos)
or as we use to say a Sh!t Show. We have all seen it, do be it.


Doesn’t even have to be a large fire or traffic.

95% humidity and your sweat ain’t cooling you down like it did last week. The same grade you rucked and conquered all Spring makes you a heat casualty in 70-degree temperature. That would ordinarily be bad, but how much worse if you and your crew were in retreat from a blow?

It’s just when you are frustrated, that suddenly this grade is kicking your ass and all you want to do shed all this stuff that’s trapping the heat on you, that you need to be doing your best thinking and realizing, “an hour from now, I’m gonna need this stuff.”

…and you need it secure, because if a truck does comes roaring around the corner, and you have to bail off the road, you don’t need your helmet, pack or fire shelter going its own way on down into the bottom…and, truth be told, you may be wishing you hung on to your tool, to scrape away burning material, if you do end up having to deploy that shelter.

This sort of thing can go on and on…red books, best practices, and training; these are the things that can save you and yours when instinct fails.


Perfectly Stated!

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