Wildland Fire Safety & Health Reporting Network

SAFENET Event Information
Create Agency Corrective Action

20170910-0001        [Corrective Actions]
Event Start Date:
08/29/2017 1300
Event Stop Date:
08/29/2017 1330 
Incident Name:
OR-UPF-000406 Umpqua North Complex
Fire Number:
Local Unit:
Incident Type:
Incident Activity:
Line, Support, Transport to/from
Stage of Incident:
Extended Attack, Other
Position Title:
Safety Officer 2 (SOF2) Division R and Crew Representative (CREP) 
Line Construction, Prepping road for firing operations 
Management Level:
Resources Involved:
Crew, Equipment, Overhead 
Contributing Factors
Contributing Factors:
Communications, Equipment, Environmental, Human Factors, Other
Human Factors:
Decision Making, Leadership, Risk Assessment, Fatigue, Performance, Situational Awareness  
Other Factors:
Conflicting values regarding safety, Attitude, Arrogance, alleged unprofessionalism, Negligence, inattentiveness 
Describe in detail what happened including the concern or potential issue, the environment (weather, terrain, fire behavior, etc), and the resulting health issue.
The Umpqua North Complex consisted of about 12 fires varying in size and complexity at the time of this reported incident. There were moderate to heavy inversions on the firelines daily, so the WFF were subjected to varying degrees of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning as well, also resulting in dulled senses and impaired judgement, with dull headaches, confusion, and forgetfulness.

I was the Type 2 Safety Officer on Division R and worked with the CREP that was driving the vehicle in question. When he contacted me about the incident, I suggested going to Ground Support and trading this vehicle for another one. I am transcribing the incident as written in his typed statement and it is attached below.

"On August 29, my Dodge Ram 1500 was parked and had been idling for about 10 minutes. I was standing a few feet away when it shifted, without input, from park into drive and began traveling on a path to collide with another parked vehicle. I rn towards the Dodge, opened the driver's side door, and kicked the brake causing it to skid to a stop. The distance between the two vehicles at the time was less than 5 inches. Upon further research, we established that my make and model RAM was indeed plagued with faulty circuitry in the dash mounted shifter knob. It appears this very same condition is reported to have already cause at least one death, and dozens of injuries."

"On August 30, I brought my vehicle to ground support, relayed my experience and requested a different truck. While others at ground support were helpful and attentive to my request, one particular GSUL met me with obstinance and disrespect. He told me that without a computer readout from the truck, there was no way to tell if the story I relayed ever happened at all. I found this odd as the #1 incident objective is firefighter safety. Had I not been able to stop the vehicle, it would have collided with the other vehicle and both would have been badly damaged. Even worse, had my coworker been standing 15 feet to the left, he would have been pinned between the trucks causing severe injury or death."

"When I informed this GSUL of the findings of my research, he responded, 'Do you know how many recalls are out there? What do you want me to do?' I told him it should be documented and my truck replaced. To this he replied. 'It wouldn't have happened if you had used the parking brake.'"

"The disrespectful tone, and the utter disregard for our primary incident objective left me speechless. I was begrudgingly given the Chevrolet truck I requested and hurried to catch up with my crew."

"As the job title implies, 'Ground Support' works to ensure personnel get the support they need to safely travel to and from the fireline. I felt I was given very little support in this matter and feel that this too should be documented. As a Alaskan firefighter, I would be remiss in not reporting any resource demonstrating such negligent, unprofessional, and deficient tendencies representing my state or organization. Thank you for your attention to this matter."

As reported by a Task Force Leader, this similar Dodge Ram incident also on the Liberty Fire in Montana the first week of September on a Dodge Ram 3500? series truck with a column shifter arm. He said his truck was idling, in park without the parking brake engaged, and it shifted into reverse (without the shifter arm moving) and began to travel downhill. He also had to hurriedly open the driver's side door and stop the vehicle.
Immediate Action Taken
Reporting Individual : please describe actions you took to correct or mitigate the unsafe/unhealthful event.
From the fireline, reported to IMT Safety Officers via text message that the incident had occurred and the recall link.

Had CREP write a statement of the incident ensuring anonymity.

Talked with Safety Officers and Deputy IC about the alleged unprofessional GSUL experience and the apparent conflicting safety values.

Passed on to other Safety Officers and WFF that this was occurring.

Corrective Actions


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