Feds Issue Citations On NW Firefighter’s Death

By Jessica Robinson

A federal investigation into a firefighter's death last year in Idaho finds hazardous conditions that could have been prevented. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or OSHA , faults both the Forest Service and the private Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association for a number of workplace safety violations.

Correspondent Jessica Robinson obtained a copy of the citations.

Jessica: “Well investigators were looking into the death of Anne Veseth. She was a 20-year-old firefighter employed by the U.S. Forest Service. And what OSHA found was that there was a hold list of problems with the fire she was working at. There were problems with communication … The way escape routes were defined was apparently just ‘go down the slope’ … Helicopters were dropping retardant without notice to crews on the ground. And crews were working in really steep terrain with a lot of timber that was coming down around them. OSHA inspectors said essentially that if the fire managers both in the government and this private timber association had been following the protocols they’re supposed to a lot of these hazards could have been prevented.”

Correspondent Jessica Robinson says OSHA can't issue financial penalties to other government agencies. But it is fining the timber association $14,000.

Meanwhile the Forest Service is expected to release its own report on Veseth's death soon.

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