Wildland Fire Associates was privileged to have had Dave Larsen as one of our associates. Dave was coaxed out of retirement to assist WFA with the Yarnell Hill Fire Investigation that the Arizona Department of Safety and Health contracted WFA to complete in 2013. Dave cared deeply about firefighter safety he was still working the problem long after the initial phase of the contract was done. It is important that we carry on as Dave would have, “slow and steady, safe and sure” with “strong work”.
Barry Hicks and Darrell Schulte put together these thoughts about working with and knowing Dave.
From Darrell Schulte:
I have known Dave since the “mid-1980’s” and worked with him on numerous fire assignments, but I can honestly say I’d never seen him as moved as the day we walked into the Yarnell fatality site with our new friends from ADOSH. Dave was speechless, as we all were when he first looked over the area. Then the questions cascaded out of him, as did his initial analysis of what might have happened. Dave poured his heart and all of his vast array of skills and abilities into our investigation. Initially Dave was reluctant to get “back into the game” since he was enjoying being “Super Dad” (one of his nicknames around the fire world was Super Dave). I had initially contacted Dave about Yarnell since I knew he’d bring incredible skills and wit to our team. Dave deferred to committing until he’d discussed it with Nan and his family, an obvious desire to keep his family first. Dave thanked me later for getting him re-engaged and working again on fire safety. After most of our initial investigative work had been completed, he remained committed and express appreciation for being able to contribute to helping the fire community once again. The ADOSH folks were, I think, initially shocked with Dave’s sense of humor in the midst of such a serious investigation, but came to quickly value his insight and professionalism during the investigation combined with his sense of humor. Dave could quickly analyze and be incredibly serious and focused on the investigation but could bring his humor to use to lighten the mood.
From Barry Hicks:
Dave loved to joke about himself and used to tell us he was the last of an almost extinct tribe from Bolivia. The tribe was in trouble because they were “easy to sneak up on”. I think he was alluding to his poor hearing so it would not appear he spent too much time on a chainsaw with no hearing protection. I’m afraid they are gone now because Dave Larsen was truly one of a kind and he will truly be missed; not only for his skills but for his passion for fire safety, his intelligence, his incredible sense of humor, and his devotion to his family.
Nan, you and the girls will be able to hear Dave’s voice if you are ever able to listen to the interviews that we conducted during the investigation. And Nan you will be glad to know that Dave acknowledged that you often told him that he mumbled. He and I would often get a laugh out of who had more “unintelligible” during the transcription of the interviews. He was always hoping I had more than he did.