RICHARD “RICK” T. GALE (1937-2009)
Richard “Rick” Gale began his NPS career as a fire control aid in Lava Beds National Monument in 1958. He served as one of the first Type 1 Incident Commanders and Area Commanders and would serve on national Type 1 incident management and area command teams for 27 years (1971-1997). He rose to serve at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise as the NPS chief of fire operations before moving to Washington to become deputy chief ranger for the Park Service. One of his most significant assignments was serving as area commander for the 1988 fires in the Greater Yellowstone Area supervising 13 teams. In addition to his fire assignments and expertise, Gale served as a search commander on several large-scale search missions, and was one of the Park Service’s first law enforcement specialists serving in this capacity as chief ranger at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area from 1969 to1973.
A ranger with more than 40 years of field experience, Gale was a source of inspiration for many in the NPS and in interagency fire management and had long-term impact on many. He took a particular interest in the instruction of younger fire fighters. For 25 years he was involved in education and training and helped to develop numerous wildland fire courses. He served on the faculty and as the steering committee chair for both Advanced Incident Management S-520 and Area Command S-620 courses. He was a founding member of the Association of National Association of National Park Rangers and served as its president from 1988-1994. He was also a long-time member and served on the board of the International Association of Wildland Fire. In 1994 President Clinton presented him with the very first Harry Yount Lifetime Achievement Award in a ceremony at the White House. Gale never tired of working for increased wildland firefighter safety and better management of our forests and rangelands.