In Ronald L. Boring (ed.), Advances in Human Error, Reliability, Resilience, and Performance. Springer. pp. 120-131 (2018)

Fred Schoeffler
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Arizona
Nineteen Prescott Fire Department, Granite Mountain Hot Shot (GMHS) wildland firefighters and supervisors (WFF), perished on the June 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire (YHF) in Arizona. The firefighters left their Safety Zone during forecast, outflow winds, triggering explosive fire behavior in drought-stressed chaparral. Why would an experienced WFF Crew, leave ‘good black’ and travel downslope through a brush-filled chimney, contrary to their training and experience? An organized Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) found, “… no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol.” Despite this, many WFF professionals deemed the catastrophe, “… the final, fatal link, in a long chain of bad decisions with good outcomes.” This paper is a theoretical and realistic examination of plausible, faulty, human decisions with prior good outcomes; internal and external impacts, influencing the GMHS; and two explanations for this catastrophe: Individual Blame Logic and Organizational Function Logic, and proposed preventive mitigations.
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