Widow Of Firefighter Changes Safety Training

Widow Of Firefighter Changes Safety Training

21 October 2005

published by www.10news.com

Report Says Backfire Killed Husband, Not Cedar Fire

SACRAMENTO — The widow of a firefighter killed in the 2003 Cedar Fire made an impassioned plea before lawmakers Thursday, 10News reported.

Cathy Rucker, wife of Steven Rucker, addressed the Occupational Safety and Health Standards board in hopes of changing the safety training for wildland firefighters.

Since her husband’s death, Rucker has quit her job and devoted her life to improving safety.

Her crusade deepened earlier this year when the California Department of Forestry released a report on the Cedar Fire.

It led her to suspect an experienced captain did not follow procedure when lighting a backfire near her husband’s crew. She said she believes the backfire, not the Cedar Fire, may have killed Steven.

“He was not in communication with my husband’s unit or with any of the fire engines on the task force. His unit did not have a water supply. He was in a utility truck,” Rucker said.

CDF officials said the changes are unnecessary and that firefighters are already well-trained on backfires and improvements are being investigated.

But Rucker’s plea tugged at the hearts of board members.

“I do not feel comfortable denying this petition,” a board member said.

Rucker won a unanimous vote, breathing new life into the recommended safety improvements.

After the vote she bowed her head and said she couldn’t believe it.

“I don’t want any other firefighters to die in the line of duty due to unsafe backfiring situations,” she said.


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