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Forest Service, OSHA reach agreement on Esperanza Fire report [View All]

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-26-08 01:15 PM
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Forest Service, OSHA reach agreement on Esperanza Fire report
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10:00 PM PST on Friday, January 25, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

The U.S. Forest Service has reached a settlement with federal investigators over a report outlining violations of safety standards that led to the deaths of five firefighters during the Esperanza blaze, a spokesman for the fire service said.

The settlement, which was announced Friday, comes after negotiations between the Forest Service and officials with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA released a tentative report in July that criticized the crew of Engine 57 and the forest service for committing six serious violations during the October 2006 fire.

Serious violations are those that created a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could happen and employers knew or should have known about the danger. An OSHA spokesman said previously that the federal agency sometimes amends its findings after negotiations or an appeal hearing.

Under the settlement, two of the six violations were withdrawn and the four others were amended, said Jason Kirchner, public affairs specialist for the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service.

Kirchner said the main issue for fire officials was that OSHA initially viewed some firefighting guidelines as safety rules that had been broken.

"We felt it was an incorrect assessment," Kirchner said. "They were not intended to be unbreakable rules. They are tools to help evaluate the situation and make decisions."

FULL story at link.

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