Died the same day he was admitted to hospital
Today’s announcement by the United States Fire Administration regarding the death in the line of duty of retired United States Forest Service firefighter Allen Johnson provides information that previously were not widely known.
Allen Johnson was a 40-year retired Forest Service veteran, French Fire Liaison Officer in California when he contracted COVID. He worked as an Administratively Determined (AD) employee within the Incident Management team. On September 8, 2021, the Forest Service confirmed his death but with few other details.
The USFA announcement indicates that Allen was exposed to COVID-19 on the French Fire, tested positive on August 24, placed in isolation during the incident and taken to hospital on August 31, 2021 where he is deceased.
It wasn’t a typo. After testing positive, he was isolated during the incident for eight days and then transported to a hospital where he apparently died within hours.
Below is the text of the USFA Announcement:
The US Fire Administration has been notified of the following firefighter death:
United States Forest Service, Stanislaus National Forest, Sonora, California
While posted to French Fire near Kernville, Calif., Liaison Officer Allen Johnson fell ill and tested positive for COVID-19 on August 24, 2021. There have been other confirmed cases of virus on the French Fire. Liaison Officer Johnson was placed in segregation during the incident and taken to hospital on August 31, 2021 where he died.
Status: Wildland part-time
Years of Service: 49
Date of Incident: August 24, 2021
Date of death: August 31, 2021
Allen began working for the Forest Service as a seasonal employee in 1972 in the Angeles National Forest. In 1975, he received his first permanent appointment in the Cleveland National Forest as a firefighter before becoming superintendent of the El Cariso Interagency Hotshot Crew. He ended his career as a District Fire Management Officer in the Stanislaus National Forest, from which he retired in March 2010. Throughout his career he has been a well-known Incident Commander and a liaison officer assigned to two different incident management teams in California.
The Union Democrat, based in Sonora, Calif., Has a very good article on Allen.
We are grateful that the US Fire Administration has released facts about wildland firefighter deaths that have not been disclosed by federal land management agencies.
May he rest in peace.
Other articles on Wildfire Today on deaths in the line of duty as wildland firefighters linked to COVID-19.