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To The Editor,

As fellow firefighters and the public mourn the loss of the nineteen Granite Mountain Hotshot crewmembers in Yarnell Hill Arizona on June 30th 2013, we are also left with the questions of how and why this tragedy happened. It will most likely take months for the Serious Accident Investigation Team, (SAIT) to complete their investigation. Without speculation, we already know a few facts for sure, the Granite Mountain Hotshots confirmed that they were initially in "good black." Good black is considered an agency and industry approved safety zone. We also know that the Granite Mountain Hot Shots posted at least one fire lookout to maintain safety for the rest of their crew. That lookout had to eventually disengage from his post due to the approaching unsafe extreme fire behavior. We also know that the lookout escaped down the pre-designated nearby dozer line to retrieve Granite Mountain's crew buggies.

What we still do not know is where the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew were headed and why did they not take the same path as the fire lookout? Instead the rest of the crew took a route down thru a box canyon heavily fueled with brush and trees towards a pre-identified safety zone at a private ranch. With a quarter mile to go, the fire entered the bottom of the box canyon and tragically blocked off all chance for escape.

A pre-identified safety zone is a location that has been identified and pre-approved by fire managers for that specific fire. The legal definition of a fire safety zone is a location where fire shelters are not needed to maintain personnel survival and is based on potential worst case fire behavior. Safety zones are not to be confused with deployment zones; which is a location where fire shelters are expected to be used to aid in the survival of personnel. Unfortunately, the pre-identified safety zone that was established for this crew, the (private ranch) did not qualify as a safety zone or even a deployment zone. Looking at current photos of the "pre-identified safety zone" it is difficult to discern that there ever was a ranch there due to the destruction of the fire. Tragically, even if the Granite Mountain Hotshots had succeeded in making it to the pre-identified safety zone, the (private ranch), it is highly probable that there still would have been a large loss of life.

Despite whatever decisions were made by the Granite Mountain Hotshots that day, the responsibility of this loss of life is borne by all of us. As we all know, the exclusion of fire and the lack of management of our forests had led to heavy, dense, and unhealthy forest conditions. Which has led to larger, more costly, and more deadly fires. We will continue to have these incidents of lives lost until we decide to improve the conditions of our forests through careful use of fuel treatments and prescribed fire. The ownership of continually having these fatalities also lies with legislatures for not consistently appropriating funds for fuels treatments, and forest management: Homeowners for not creating and maintaining adequate fuel breaks invariably putting firefighters lives at risk; and fire management teams who don't always require adherence to firefighter safety policy. This ownership also applies to all of firefighters (including myself) who should "if you see something unsafe, say something and do something." The fire realm is one of the few industries that is so dynamic in the quickly changing conditions that in one short period of time the decisions a firefighter makes regarding safety, strategy and tactics can quickly change to being non-relevant.

As firefighters we are trained to maintain the Basic 28, which are 28 points and the core firefighter safety policy. Often times in the heat of the fight, firefighters (myself included) allow these safety policies to become second priority if even for a short period of time. And often times these decisions are made with subtle approval from our fire supervisors. It is paramount that we as firefighters maintain dynamic decision-making otherwise we quickly find ourselves behind the curve and our decisions become a reaction instead of action.

I believe it is very unfortunate that we as a public send our young firefighters out to fight fire expecting them to preserve homes and forests often sacrificing their lives in the process when we should be mitigating fire risks and attempt to be more understanding when firefighters don't always succeed at these unrealistic goals. It takes a concentrated effort and continual support for firefighters to put safety first and homes and forests second. To maintain the safety of our firefighters I believe we need to maintain accountability at all levels. Firefighters are truly heroes for what they do and what they sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. We will never forget your sacrifice.

—David R. Vitelle, Firefighter and Trainer

In reply to "There is No Free Concert," (Feature, 7/25)

Free music. Just like free healthcare. If you think healthcare is expensive now wait until you see what it costs when it's free.


If BendBroadband has $750,000 laying around to dole out for philanthropic purposes (read tax write off and advertising) I am going to say they are probably charging WAY too much for services...

—Todd Hanson

I think the writer of this article has forgotten to talk about another huge component of the equation, which is tourism. Tourists flock to Bend, partly because of all the music, and add many tourist dollars to support the community, pay to see concerts at various venues, and add to the crowds at all the free concerts as well. Many of those tourists, then are lured to live here, hence a real estate boom, again. I speak from experience. I have enthused about Bend to so many of my friends, some of whom have also chosen to live here, because of what is happening in such a small town. We have enticed many to visit, believe me. Bend is a wonderful town, and I hope the free music continues.



Bend Noise Ordinance Hypocrisy

My name is Lacey Cox and I wanted to share a potential story for your paper. I live on NE Scott St. between 3rd and 2nd Street. For the last three weeks my neighbors and I have had to deal with heavy construction, mainly drilling and excavating of our street, as the city attempts to fix the water lines. The most frustrating part is that the majority of drilling begins at 7 pm and lasts through the night till 7 am. Despite calling and complaining to the city works about the insanely loud construction that prevents us from sleeping at night, they refuse to halt night construction. This lack of sleep is affecting my job as an educator. They dismissed our reference to the city noise ordinance 5.50.025 section G which "prohibits constructing (including excavating), demolishing, altering or repairing a building, street, sidewalk, driveway, sewer or utility line between the hours of 10 pm and 7 am"

I find this to be extremely offensive that because there are only a few houses on Scott St., the city does not consider our complaints seriously. I just find it frustrating that the city was so serious about keeping noise levels down when it comes to music venues near residential areas, but when it comes to construction in a residential area they don't give a f***.

—Lacey Cox

In reply to Matt Gawlik (Dogs and People, 7/25):

Nobody hates your dog, just your dog's behavior. I don't personally care if you have a dog, or ten dogs. I do care that dogs are taught to behave. Keep them quiet, pick up after them, keep them on leash. At all required times, not just whenever you feel like it. These are not complicated rules, just basic human consideration in a crowded urban environment, since none of us are entitled to inflict consequences of our life choices on others. Owning a dog responsibly is a 24-hour job, for its entire life, and sadly too many owners are apparently just not up to it. Choosing to own a dog is in effect choosing to have a two-year old child who will never, ever, grow up. If this is your choice, fine, but understand and step up to that full-time responsibility and nobody will "hate" your dog.

—Jeff Perry

Sirs—The letter regarding dogs did not go far enough. Animals have the ability to form deep lasting relationships with humans that can be life changing for all parties involved. Proof of that is the documentary aired on Discovery last week about a man who had a relationship with a twenty-foot crocodile that spanned almost two decades. He had saved the animal's life and the animal was grateful and returned the favor with friendship. Tons of statistical evidence supports the therapeutic value of animals as not just pets, but friends and companions. A lot of animals make better companions than a lot of humans. But it takes a lot of work to have a good relationship with an animal, just as it does to have a good relationship with another human.

When I first moved to Bend (Doggytown) many years ago I hated dogs. They woke me up at night with their barking, I could not go to the Butte, to the store, park, anywhere in town, without being accosted by dogs, often running loose or barking and snarling at me as I got out of my car in the parking lot of the store, from an open car window or the back of a pickup. I thought it ludicrous that people drove around town with dogs hanging out of the car windows and even with dogs on their laps while driving.

A few years ago we were given a dog for a gift. At first I was incredulous, but then a miracle occurred and I started getting attached to the canine critter. After some time we decided to get another dog to keep the first one company while we were working during the days. Recently we acquired another dog, a little rescue dog that was found in a garbage can in a foreign country with some of its bones broken, some of its teeth knocked out and starving to death. It is amazing to see how the little guy has responded to some good treatment and affection.

Our dogs go almost everywhere with us. They hang out the car windows and sit on my lap while I'm driving. I can't imagine life without dogs. They have truly changed my life. They are the most wonderful companions you could ask for. And they understand me when I speak to them. I would sincerely suggest that those in town who hate dogs spend some time getting to know a mutt or two. There are plenty available at the shelters for adoption. For any dog-haters who also happen to be living alone, this would be a perfect way to add some companionship to your lives.

But if you simply choose to continue hating dogs, this is a bad place to do so. I think there are probably about three dogs per capita for every human in this town and it is not likely to change anytime soon. I think there is an old saying that has something to do with Rome that might apply here.

—Love my dogs


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