Sunday, October 6, 2013
Faulty Radio Communications may have led to Deaths of 19 Firefighters
It is a sobering and detailed report that investigators put together to try to ascertain what happened, why it happened and to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.
Because there were no survivors, investigators relied on recordings of radio transmissions, eyewitness accounts of fire incident managers and neighboring crews, including pilots flying tankers dropping flame retardant and helicopter pilots.
The report's key findings on communications:
"Radio communications were challenging throughout the incident. Some radios were not programmed with appropriate tone guards. Crews identified the problem, engaged in troubleshooting, and developed workarounds so they could communicate using their radios.
And, this telling conclusion:
"Radio traffic was heavy during critical times on the fire."
Did it mean the Hot Shots trying to escape to what they thought was a nearby safe zone - a ranch - weren't able to cut in on the traffic?
Here's more, quoting from the 122-page investigation report:
"Although much communication occurred among crews throughout the day, few people understood Granite Mountain’s intentions, movements, and location, once they left the black."
The black is considered a safe zone.
Quoting again from the report:
"The Team believes this is due to brief, informal, and vague radio transmissions and talk-arounds that can occur during wildland fire communications.
"Based on radio conversations, Operations and other resources had concluded the Granite Mountain IHC was located in the black, near the ridge top where they had started that morning. This resulted in confusion about the crews actual location at the time of search and rescue."
Finally, the investigative team made some key recommendations to the state of Arizona and the National Wildfire Coordination group.
Among them, increasing resource tracking, communications and real time weather information.
And, putting together an interagency task force to conduct a further analysis of what happened, as well as examining the human factors and wildland fire communications.
The report describes radio communications during the time of the fire as being very challenging. (K7DB, Yarnell Hill Fire Investigation)
Reported by Mark Abramowicz, NT3V
HOW TO READ PROPAGATION NUMBERS
The A index [ LOW is GOOD ]
- 1 to 6 is BEST
- 7 to 9 is OK
- 11 or more is BAD
Represents the overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Ap" if averaged from the Kp-Index) (an average of the eight 3-hour K-Indices) ('A' referring to amplitude) over a given 24 hour period, ranging (linearly) typically from 1-100 but theoretically up to 400.
A lower A-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Ap-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.
SFI index [ HIGH is GOOD ]
- 70 NOT GOOD
- 80 GOOD
- 90 BETTER
- 100+ BEST
The measure of total radio emissions from the sun at 10.7cm (2800 MHz), on a scale of 60 (no sunspots) to 300, generally corresponding to the sunspot level, but being too low in energy to cause ionization, not related to the ionization level of the Ionosphere.
Higher Solar Flux generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; Solar Flux rarely affects the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.
K index [ LOW is GOOD ]
- 0 or 1 is BEST
- 2 is OK
- 3 or more is BAD
- 5 is VERY VERY BAD
The overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Kp" if averaged over the planet) over the past 3 hours, measured by 13 magnetometers between 46 & 63 degrees of latitude, and ranging quasi-logarithmically from 0-9. Designed to detect solar particle radiation by its magnetic effect. A higher K-index generally means worse HF conditions.
A lower K-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Kp-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.
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