Friday, January 09, 2009

Fire on the Mountain (J Maclean) in brief

What I can say quickly about John Maclean's Fire on the Mountain is that I learned about wildland fire fighting. Of course, I have read other books prior to reading this one, have spent sometime learning some of the basic terminology involved in wildland fire fighting, the basic roll of air support, and some on how personnel work together fighting a fire. As such it is a little hard for me say what I learned where. So, perhaps I am learning because of repetition and reading about some things over and over again with Fire on the Mountain being the latest. However, I found his writing style easy to follow, and appreciated the glossary he provided. I wish that he had included an index.

I have to admit that I found myself wishing for a book on the world of wildland fire fighting that was not about a fire with a tragic ending. In this case, the notorious South Canyon Fire (Storm King Mountain near Glenwood CO in 1994) where 14 wildland fire fighters died. Only because I know that there are a lot of fires where wildland fire fighters do not die. I have a couple of books to that end in my to read pile, including the one that I am reading now, Fire in Their Eyes, so stay tuned.

I won't get into the South Canyon Fire itself here. Others have done that. Except to say that I read the investigative reports and some other reports written following the fire. As a researcher and writer, I was interested in the fact that his account and interpretation differed from the official investigative report. And that is all I am going to say on that. What I mean is that when I was doing academic research I would always try to research and then present all sides of whatever question I was interested in. I may only acknowledge a given side by a sentence or two in my literature review because doing so gave my research credibility. It was also necessary to get my research published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Here I am not going to do any sort of scholarly writing on the South Canyon Fire. But as a part of my learning process, I feel it is important to read these differing accounts. Who is right and who is wrong, Maclean or the investigators? I don't know. All I do know is that the more I read and learn about wildland fire fighting the more I hope and pray that wildland firefighters stay safe and practice LCES.

In case anyone is interested, while I did give prior to thought to what I wanted to say here, this is written off the cuff. Rather I sat down at my computer and wrote. Thanks for listening.

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