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11/98

As promised here's some quotes from Lyle Shook's goodbye message.
For you not in the know Lyle was the Regional Safety & Health Manager,
a position he took after 21 years in fire in fact:

"I left a 21 year fire management career following an ear/throat/nose infection that stopped my heart shortly. Follow-up surgery removed a blockage of dust, ash, lava dust, pollen, etc. from oxygen chambers in my head. Doctors thought wildland fire was a sort of dumb career to continue."

"On my first day in the Regional Office I received 5 direct verbal and written marching orders from Regional Forester Paul Barker:
1. Do not let the 1987 accidents happen again!
2. Develop an Accident/Incident investigation response procedure with accident investigator training.
3. Develop a Region Accident/Incident Database (RAID) system
4. Develop top to bottom Safety & Health Information Exchange Network.
5. Advise RF Team, ARF's and Forest Supervisors when compliance and major Occupational Safety and Employee Health and Welfare problems exist.

Of these 5, the first four are in compliance and operational. The 5th one is broke. Its failure indicates #1 may not stay achievable, and if #'s 4 and 5 collapse, history will repeat itself.

So what is wrong? In today's cutback government pressure, and cold cooperate line to downsize, combine jobs, increased work loads with less work force, shrinking budgets and more laws and regulations to comply with, the open door policy and active out in the woods approach, upper level management had has slowly closed its door and become silent in areas of Safety and Health for employee accident prevention and well-being. Bottom line, low dollar mind set to run operations at the bare bone, cutting training recertification, using own protective equipment, not performing fitness medicals, etc., in short cutting corners in employee safety that in upper management minds is valid, as it follows cutback management."

To make it worse continued organizational changes and cuts have created a non-trust and unsafe work environment for employees."

"More and more stress claims are being filed and if the agency created the emotional and unsafe condition and asked the employee to work in that condition we can expect accidents and claims..."

"Attempts to make presentations on the concern are put offer by to many other topics on agenda and written papers go unanswered."

"Region 5 is headed towards repeating the 1987 accident record, but its not going to come from all fire operations. Its going to be workplace violence, employees performing a hazardous duty and being emotionally distracted, worn out equipment, lack of Personal Protective Equipment, training or medical problems undetected."

In his own words, the retired Lyle Shook.

And just think about your work environment, not just the fire
organization, but the rest of the gang. How many are out in the woods,
and have been given training on using the handitalkie? How come the
expensive backbone radio/microwave system is fraught with problems?
Anyway, as the end of 97 closes in on us, there's plenty of food for
thought. SAFETY FIRST!

(the dog gone mad)

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