"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
JULY-AUGUST 1999

 

DATE
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08/31 Well, here in NJ, things are sopping wet.  Yes, we finally got some precip and it poured about 4-5 inches in the last two and a half weeks.  From what I've heard they are
gearing up one of our type II crews for duty in Northern Cal? 

Ab, I hear that you need engines, well, if you really need them NJ has at least two strike teams of type VI engines that were sent to florida and texas last year.  I would imagine
there are engines closer than NJ, but we're pretty much soaked right now.  We flat-bedded the engines out last year, and a long time ago we were gonna fly the engines out
west (in an air cargo, of course)!  I guess that Trenton would have to make them available, but they usually have to be prodded to make them available, and they refuse to put
our tenders available <shrug>.

Hopefully, we will make other handcrews available soon, and I will be on one of those two crews (I'm later in the rotation this year).

Doctor Moleskin

08/29 Yes, your forest is in dire straits right now.  Unfortunately, I had to make 
myself unavailable for personal family reasons.
At times like these I am reminded of what an old Fire Control Officer told 
me when I was a rookie: "Don't take any big fire personally.  You're not the 
one who made the woods flammable."  Just focus on all the IA's you caught, 
not the one that got away.

On a side note, I read where the average age of Forest Service firefighters 
is 43.  Since the minimum retirement age is 50 and maximum is 55, then we 
will have a 50% turnover in the next 7-12 years.  That's a lot of fire 
experience disappearing.  I know there is a lot of young talent that will do 
a good job replacing those retiring, but I still think it's a shame to lose 
that knowledge pool.

Gordon

08/28 These CDF postings raised a chuckle with me.

I just had a conversation with a CDF Captain longtime friend of mine who saw 
the postings also.  He told me he was envious of me because we get to travel 
all over the U.S. and do all sorts of different things besides fire.  He 
mentioned Forest Service personnel are always sent on hurricanes, floods, 
earthquakes, etc across the country, while if he goes out of county it is 
either covering another station or mopping up around rural homes.  He also 
noted that FS fires are usually in some 'pretty neat areas'(his words) like 
backcountry wilderness that he will never see except at his expense on 
vacation.

I guess it is all a matter of perspective.  The grass is always greener....

Gordon

Well, Gordon, I hope you and your friend get to come help us out, along with everyone else you know with a red card.  The last thing I did tonight at the end of shift was post the 209's to North Ops. . .  it looks like around 60 handcrews, with 65 more coming, many more strike teams of engines still back ordered, around 1400 overhead on site and more arriving by the hour.  There is a two day wind event predicted to begin around tomorrow afternoon (Sun) with speeds exceeding 25 mph in the upper elevations.  Since some of the large (still unstaffed) fires are either in or near major river drainages such as the middle and north fork of the Feather, it should be a mighty interesting day.  I'll truly be surprised if we're even able to hold on to the existing lines on the eastern side of the forest where the Horton 2 fire, at around 3000 acres is nearly contained.  The potential spread from the fires in the remote areas which range from around 100 to 800 acres is something no one wants to talk much about.  I guess there really isn't much reason for speculation, we'll just deal with the results of whatever happens.  Not too many folks here seem to care what color the engine is parked next to them is here.

The issue that compels my thoughts, and I've heard others express it aloud the last few days, is that just 5-6 short years ago we had enough existing resources on forest to attack, contain, and extinguish each of these fires before they could have escaped.  Yer budget gets cut year after year, each year it's another 10-15% down, you drop an engine here, lay of a crew there, reduce the amount of wet patrols you have, and what do you expect?  This isn't a drought year, we're not especially hot and dry, rather, it's just a kinda normal year.

I'm waiting so see the final accounting of the cost of these fires and will share it here when finalized (although I predict will be quite some time).  It has already cost the life of one civilian resident attempting to flee the flames of an unstaffed fire.  I challenge any member of congress to go to Berry Creek and try to explain to the husband and son of the woman that lost her life why congress funds less than 45% of the maximum effectiveness level of required suppression resources.  Go ahead, take some maps, some nice colored gaphic charts, perhaps even a nice powerpoint presentation, talk to them about acceptable losses, explain the philosophy of suppression cost versus net value change. . . I'm sure they'll understand!

I now reflect that while filling out the convenient little input boxes in the incident report that there are no boxes available for reporting loss of life.  Instead, we input how much money has the fire cost, have there been any reportable injuries to firefighters, or how many structures have been lost.  We wouldn't want to ruin congress's lunch with the disturbing news that the people they are voted into office to protect have died from their what must certainly be well meaning (but horribly greedy and shortsighted) intentions.  This summer, these fires, this loss of life, like many elsewhere in other years, will soon be forgotten except for a few.  Rather, the media will soon turn to our focus to other "newsworthy" content guaranteed to turn your guts with fear and disgust and at the same time offer more pablum for the masses showing how our fearless leaders are saving all us taxpayers money by cutting state and /or federal emergency spending.  Remember, when this fires season is over, congress still has that big old surplus pot of tax dollars to argue about, right?

I'll retire now, this diatribe has left me even more weary than I was.  Only five hours now to the morning briefing, I'll sleep well with a clean consciounce.  No doubt a much better rest than the crews forced to sleep in the fairgrounds adjacent to the sounds of the weekly stock car races the city or county apparently decided not to cancel.  I guess the hundred of thousands of dollars these fires are bringing to the city/county each day isn't enough while there are still a few hundred more dollars to be milked by continuing the races.

I won't be going to visit my old friends in Berry Creek any time soon.  I don't want to hear what they have to say.
Ab.
 

08/28 Boy, this whole CDF thing sure did ruffle some feathers, didn't it!The truth
of the matter, is that there are many people from many agencies that are out
there breaking their balls on these fires.Every agency has their "leg's" out
there who don't want to work and get paid anyway. I'm a die hard F.S. man ,
but you can't take away from the other folk's out there doing their job.We
all have a role on a fire , wether it be working in logistics , slamming out
some serious chains , or, what some have complained about , sitting on the
roadside doing some kind of structure protection or maybe structure
triage.The point is , is that when we're out there on the line , we have a
job to do , all of us. If you take pride in your job , do it well and don't
worry about what some other guy is getting paid , your job will be much more
fullfilling. Remember , there will be a time , either from old age or injury
(hopefully not the later ) that we will not be able to perform at the level
our job demands of us. So , in closing , have fun out there , wherever you
may be this season and most importantly , let's all be safe and look out for
each other. Thanks for listening.

Points well taken, I've had the priviledge of working on both "red" and "green" engines and have formed my own opinions, which, alas will have to wait for future posting.  I'm sure the CDF readers will have some comments as well, but most of them are either "sitting by a road" or "busting their butts" somewhere as this discussion emerges.  Gotta run, the briefings in 25 minutes, with another 16 hour day ahead  Ab

08/27 (Pilot Fire)
Well hell! Once again the troops are out there busting there butt to
catch a rager and mother nature had to go and step in. Oh well the next
24 hours will tell how well she did. Talking with some of the troops
from the lines it was one hell of a firefight the first 24 hours. The
secondary lines are being put in "just in case". And to south op's two
thumbs up to Terry, Brian and Bruce, and the rest of the staff in the
background.
Thanks for a job well done. Most people don't realize the work they
have to do to support us. I would comment about the "dink" complaining
about CDF but heck, who can blame them. I would love thier paychecks
and stay in hotels. By the looks of it around here alot of thier
personnel came from the Forest Service. Hmmm maybe we need to whine a
little louder. 
-op's normal

P.S. someone send in some picture's from this year so I can see what
I'm missing.

08/27 Regarding the issue of CDF milking fires for "money", I would have to agree.
Being an ex-hotshot and engine crewman for the F.S. there was nothing worse
than gearing up and heading up the hill and watching the boy's from the
"Red" engines sipping on an ice cold drink(not looking to awful tired or
dirty).I think that if most of these folks that work for some of these
agencies had to go on a "real" assignment , like cutting line for 24 or 36
or even 48 hours , or lay hose for miles with some of the old time engine
capts, they wouldn't even do the job. Being paid what these agencies get
paid,they should be doing all that , and more.
08/26 I worked as a wildland firefighter for ten years as a groan pounder and engine slug.  I have worked all over the United States and have worked with
every agency out there.  I feel the same way as the person in the letter.  I really liked Abs comment about the elephant.  It is a nice analogy about how
if you try and go up against the machine you will probably get hurt. Poor guy has a hard battle if he is going to try and take on the CDF.  Good way to
go about it the taking it to Gray Davis.  Too bad he won't read the letter they will just round file it. I guess that is what this forum is for.  Personally, I
have never run into an agency as a whole that has so many wining clock hogs in all my life as the California Department of Forestry. We had two CDF
engines on our forest under automatic aid.  We were in standby waiting for the lightning starts for the day.  We decided to put them to work doing
some minor project work.  All we heard the whole time was pissing and moaning out of them.  Then they demanded to stay in hotels at the end of the
shift.  That was the least we could do since we had them do work for us.  What a crock.  God forbid they ever have to go out of state where they don't
have a hotel in every little town.  If you work for the CDF and would like to respond to the letter intelligently instead of using straight out trash talking
try and back it up by giving us an example of what you have been doing when you received your overtime hours.  Give us some proof that 200
hundred engines (mostly structure engines) sitting on highway 101 for a week can help put out a wildland fire.

Good luck

08/26 For the board: 
Regarding the letter; I hoped everyone laughed as hard as I did. While there is a slim vein of truth running through there, there has to
be one of these in every crowd. Misinformed, and doesent quite get the whole picture. Another good example of this kind of
individual was this after a major fire here a few years ago.  A lady wrote into the paper ripping the state (and vfd's) because we
drove an extra mile or two to get to a lake to get water for suppression all the while driving right by a "perfectly good lake" which
was closer to the fire.  What she didnt mention or failed to understand was that the lake she was refering to had about a 100 yards of
swamp/marsh surrounding it, you couldnt get anywhere near the water with any apparatus.

Pulaski
ab, as for the class A engines....WELL, CALL US DAMNIT! We've got 80 some odd of em just sitting here collecting dust! ...a fair
number of em with cafs as well. .....oh well, its too late for me to go anywho... Hope yer holding up well!
Be safe!

The letter reminded me of the story of the three blind men trying to describe an elephant after fondling some of its parts and the three totally different images they described.  Had the author been one of the blind in the story, I suspect they would have been kicking and pinching the elephant and limped away with a very negative impression.  Ab

08/25 Here's a letter that might offend some folks!  clickme  Personally, today, I'd love to have a few strike teams of Class A engines for structure protection.  I'd love to pay them big bucks just to watch the fire (close up of course).  Ab.
08/25  I'm in Northern Calif. near Chico, (Paradise)  Lot's of fire creeping 
around and slowly backing down hillsides towards houses.  CDF engine crews 
are claiming that the fire behavior is too extreme to take direct action. 
However, there is virtually no wind and very high humidities. 
   I know that the heat and humidity make working very uncomfortable.  But 
isn't that what they get paid for?
   Last night I watched it slowly creep across a flat ridge with no effort to 
stop it. A couple of Hotshot crews could have put that  fire to bed last 
night.
08/24 Current news from Ab's forest. . . 39 fires for around 1000+ acres.  At 0700 this morning when I left work there were outstanding resource orders for around 10 type I crews, 15 type two crews, 30 engines (any kinda engines), 11 dozers, lot'sa water tenders, and several hundred overhead.  Many of the larger fires remain unstaffed due to lack of resources.  The largest, at around 700 acres should gain significant ground today.  These fires are all burning in heavy timber, most in steep, rugged terrain. A type I fire team should have taken over the southern end of the forest at 0600 and a type II team was to take over the northern/central area at noon today.  Be ready for the resource orders to hit your area soon!  Actually, I hope you aren't reading this and you are on your way here right now.  We've been expecting Nor/Cal to burn after a couple of abnormally wet years and wondering what would happen when we returned to a normal season and (due to budget cuts) there was no one  left to respond.

God, I love the smell of smoke in the morning!  Ab

08/23 nevermind, I found it!

http://fire.r9.fws.gov/fm/pms/forms/ics.php

thanks Jim.

08/23 Ab,
I am looking for a site where you can download ICS forms. I know I have seen
it before, but now that I need it I cant find it!!*#@&@.

Readers?  Perhaps I'll post them here when I get some time, they wouldn't take up much room.  Ab

08/22 Ab,
Do you happen to know the new url for the wildland firefighters
memorial? It seems they have changed and didn't leave the link at the
old url.....thanks
Michael Nelson
Wildland Firefighters Resource Page
http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/5561/index.phpl

Sorry Mike, I don't, but I'll bet one of the readers will know.  For reasons mentioned above, I don't have time right now for resarch.  Ab.

08/19 Ab:
   This is a pretty cool web site, and I've watching the opinions and
comments come in for some time and I think it's about time something
like this was in the making.  In regards to the poor soul on the Hotshot
crew with the bad Supe,  well guy, November is right around the corner
and my advice would be to find another crew of your liking or keep
beating your career up with overhead like this.  In other words it's not
worth the time.  This guy will probably  get what's coming to him but
don't stick around and find out that if he's going down he's going to
take a few people with him.  That's happened in one instance I saw.
Just get out with your dignity intact and move on to something bigger
and better.
    This is coming from a guy whose done some time on some FS District
line crews.  We know from fact and experience that any Hotshot crew is
damn good on any fire line and that we know you guys can really save the
day with hard work and motivation.  So don't feel to bad we know your
working hard out there.
08/18 Just in case your fire season is about over. . .Ab.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge will be seeking 6 wildland firefighters for the 1999 Fall/Winter Prescribed burn season. Housing will be provided. Blackwater is unique in that the majority of its 24,000+ acres is marsh land, the rest is dense woodland. This is a great opportunity for folks looking to gain prescribed burn experience in grassland or woodland fuel types. Also working in the marsh provides a number of unique challenges. Currently we are outfitted with two brush trucks, a bombadier, a marsh master,  2 ATV 's fitted for fire, two Sea Ark boats with flame throwers (for use on island areas), a dozer and a bombi. A new fire station was constructed and finished last year and is in use now. During the height of our burn season we are also joined by a helicopter and use aerial ignition on some of the larger tracts. Approximately 14,000 acres were burned last year.

Firefighters applying will need to be at least FFT2 certified and capable of passing the pack test (45lbs, 3 miles, 45 minutes) for red card certification.

Blackwater NWR is located in the town of Cambridge Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay. Washington DC is apporx. 2 hours from here, the Atlantic Ocean and beaches approx 45 minutes.

To apply please send an SF-171 or OF-612 to : Blackwater NWR 2145 Key Wallace Drive Cambridge MD 21613. This position will also be advertised on www.usajobs.gov in late august or early september. Two firefighters will be brought on in November and the rest by December or January with flexible leave times in the spring as well as oportunities to join up with eastern crews for wild fire duty as needed. 

For more information please contact FCO Bill Giese at 410-228-2692 or Jennifer Podgurski, 
Ranger at the same number. Serious inquiries only please. Thanks for passing this along and have a safe season.

08/16   This is another response to the hotshot with a poor supervisor.  I know 
that the Forest Service sends people to supervisor training.  But maybe the 
classes should focus a little more on the practical aspects of supervision, 
Like how to motivate people.  I know that may sound crazy to some, but we've 
all had supervisors who seemed to lack some element of common sense.
    Also, Seems to be an awful lot of  grievences being filed.  I guess 
people are seeing that only the squeeky wheel gets the greese.  It's gotten 
to the point in some places that people are documenting everything just to 
cover their asses. 
 Any thoughts on that?  ~Roscoe~
08/15 There were many snafu's, but the primary one was the inability to let all of the resources know when plans had changed. I was an engine captain with an FS strike team, we had an STL ( I myself am a qualified STL) who was more interested in playing Division sup than getting us utilized. We sat for a day in a campground while he ran around, we didnt hear from him at all, (yes this was brought up at the end of the assignment). Our assignment was to support the firing of Sierra Madre Ridge with the terra torch. We had no idea that plans had changed, largely due to him and the division supervisor we were assigned to. Another thing that bothered me was the naming and numbering of divisions, since when do we call divisions "northwest", "southeast", or since when does division C fall between Z and A?? If you were there you know what I mean.  I heard and saw a lot of things that just didnt make sense, that fell away from the basic ICS SOP. Things finally came together when we went to a 24 hour shift and a new day ops chief cycled through,  the shots/dozers got the lines in, the firing happened, holding resources were in place and most of all, better communication between Ops-Div-resources happened. I am glad we got through this incident without injury or loss of life, and NO I dont have all the answers, my main concern was MY crew and their welfare, but I did see a lot to file to memory when I am Division supervisor about "maintaining prompt communications with crew, supervisor and adjoining forces". A lot of good firefighting went on, with a lot of flexibility and common sense safety. We are all aware of the fatalities that occured there at Spanish ranch, I have fought lots of fire there in the Cuyama valley and the common denominator is "wind switches WIll be expected at any time". I feel the team did a good job overall but as with any team (I have been on a Type 1 Team before) there are always weak links. Lets hope there were many lessons learned, Be safe, Sting
08/14 This response to the Hotshot with the bad supervisor,
I don't have any quick cures for your situation, I guess if all else fails,
just go ahead and beat the hell out of him.  there comes a time when 
an employee can only take so much from an insufferable prick.  I
don't know that I would want to file a grievance for "mental cruelty"
or "embarresment", but I hear where you are comming from.  I also 
once had a supervisor a little like yours.  But mine was just more an
anal kind of guy.  He would notice that a crewman would make a mistake,
so he would post a notice wherever the lst mistake happened.  My
god, he had notes posted all over the engine bay, the telephones, the 
exit doors, the tool bin, the chainsaws, etc..  I couldn't beleive this guy,
arrogant, would not listen to anyone, alienated the entire fire organization
while he was only on a detail.  Whudda dumb shit!

I was the FEO on the engine he was running during the detail he was on.
I was out of action for a couple of weeks due to an injury when he first 
took over, but when I returned, the whole crew wanted to file a
greivance agaisnt him.  I stopped that, but later I had to wonder why.  I 
endeed up getting a very bad performance rating from him, but I know that
he also got a very bad one from the FMO.  When it was time for me to 
receive my rating from the FMO, via the detailer, he left on my days off
without giving it to me personally, I was in shock at what he had to say.
After I had saved his ass from waht would have damn near been a class
action suit!  As I sat there in disbelief, listening to what he had said
about me, my FMO smiled, ripped up the rating he had prepared, and
threw it in the trash.  The FMO then gave me a new rating based on what
had actually taken place.

The FMO went on to say that as long as they had a say in matters that 
this person would never work for them again, at least not for long.  I 
went on to captain that crew, and actually got a high performance bonus 
for my work that miserable year.  The anal guy went back to his home forest,
hopefully to wonder what went wrong.  I heaerd later his wife dumped him
and he is no longer with the FS.  Poor dumb bastard!  I was hoping I may
have taught him something about respect and humility.  Guess not!

If I have a point, I guess it would be that you never know who is watching
you, and from what vantage point they are standing.  Keep your chin up
and watch your back  Anyone who works for an asshole need never
apoligize for them or try to explain their ways.  Everybody knows an 
asshole when they see one, even another asshole.

Sign me vindicated Ab, that one difficult summer I spent wasn't actually a
waste after all.  I'm still out here doing well, and that prick is gone!

08/14 I would like to comment on the Spanish with regard to some of the previous 
posts from FO.  I was on the Spanish fire and can tell you were not  paying 
close  attention to what was said in the briefing.  When Will made comments 
to the fire not spotting, he related it to the upper portion of the fire on 
top of Sierra Madre ridge.    It took the fire 3 days to reach the top of the 
ridge and did not spot over the top when it finally made it there.  Pay 
better attention next time!!!  The wind patterns in the Cuyama valley are 
unpredictable according to locals, this has always made fighting fires in the 
valley difficult.  In the past there was a fatality fire on the Spanish 
ranch, this should give you a clue on what you are dealing with here.  There 
are a lot of factors that go into the decision making process of a fire of 
this magnitude.  In most cases a fire like this one would have been turned 
over to a Type 1 team which in my mind would have made no diference as this 
team handled it just fine. Decisions on these types of fire are difficult and 
not made just by one individual. 
It is easy to rake someone over the coals when you are not in their shoes and 
think you have all the answers.  Bottom line is the fire was put out and 
safety was not compromised.

Hike4fun

08/12 (some words deleted. . . Ab.)

This is just a little something  I need to get off my chest. We all
know that fighting fire and Hotshotting demand a tremendous amount of
mental and PHYSICAL work. Keeping this in mind, you should know that
getting into this line of work is going take a lot out of you.
Especially when you know you give your all and then some and basically
your overworked and underpaid. What Iam driving at is the fact that I
and all of my fellow crewmen do the best we can in a situation where our
Sup. is a total ass that flaunts his position like he's some kind of god
that is untouchable. Iam referring to (deleted) of the (deleted)
Hotshots.
    I will say that it might seem like I am pissing and moaning. I
assure you I'll stand my ground on that. What I am trying to find out is
if anyone out there may possibly agree with me. A happy crew is a good
crew and I don't expect a Sup. to be some angel of a guy. I do strongly
feel that a Sup. should be somewhat of player's coach that can inspire
his crew to kick some butt when the time calls. Not the kind of guy that
is only happy when he gets his way. (deleted) in a nutshell is (deleted)
man with an ego the size of capped column of smoke in timber
during a drought.
    To be clear on this I need to state that anyone interested in coming
to the (deleted) Shots in the coming future may want to reconsider. However
there will for the second time in two years there will be a huge
turnover . On a shot crew that's a red flag. The bottom line is this.
The overhead on this crew is in turmoil and you know what rolls
downhill. (deleted) is out of control and the word must be spread. The guy
would like to think that he is being some sort of an oldshool Hotshot
trying to make his crew tough. Ha, the only thing he does is sit in his
rig and try and take the whole damn fire over. Sure he's experienced , a
lot more than I am but he' s a jerk. I can honestly say I trust him with
my safety and my time. However that counts for very little when your
trying to make a crew a damn good crew.
   Personality counts for a lot when you work this job. You are
definetely not going to get along all the time. When your boss is more
like an old crabby lady than an old seasoned vet you must know that
November is not far off. That should be the least of your  worries.  I
would just like to say that on behalf of the CREWMEN of the (deleted) we
are proud of ourselves and the job we do. Despite the BS (deleted)  puts
us through we keep our heads down and pound ground. We are sorry for the
way (deleted) carries himself in camp and the rudeness he eminates.
Understand that he is in need of  Prozac and some serious mental help.
The guy is a loser with an attitude.
   The bottom line is this, (deleted) is going to ruin this crew if
something doesn't happen.
He has no respect for anyone but himself. He's very close to having the
gloves put on by many people. I am writng this out of respect for fellow
firefighters on (deleted). We want it known that our Sup. is a first class
schmuck that treats his crew like a pile of  dung. We give our all out
there and this guy just picks his nose and acts like some cool bully on
your childhood playground.
   In closing, I know it sounds like a complaining whining bunch of
dung. Maybe it is? No it's a message to all firefighters whether your a
slug, groundpounder, or whatever. Hard work comes with the territory,
but you don't have to get crapped on to do it. So to all overhead types
like (deleted), get a grip. Treat your people right, respect is a two way
street. To anyone reading this, please respond back Iam interested in
your views. The exact details of what goes on on my crew would take days
to write so just use your mind and figure it out. The next time you see
(deleted) in camp just watch him and you'll see. When you see the crew
give a shout and we'll shout back. Thanks for letting me vent, and on
behalf of the (deleted) Hotshots c-ya in the trenches.

Obviously, the sup'rs and the forest name were deleted, as much as I would have liked to leave them in (there's slander/liabilities on the internet too).   Coincidently, I recently heard similar stories about this sup'r from a longtime, respected div sup returning from a fire.  As my sympathies go out to this crew I also ponder how and why this person was ever promoted to a hotshot superintendent position.  I'm fully aware a shot sup'r position is not for the mild, nor meek, but it is a position wherein superior leadership (read leader, not pusher) skills, communication, and ability to positively interact with co-workers must be considered a top priority.  I can only surmise that longevity and perhaps this sup'rs ability to bullshit, threaten, or intimidate a weak kneed supervisor allowed him to promote far beyond his current skill level.

Regardless, you may just have to bite the bullet this year and find another crew next year.  Don't quit, don't let him mentally beat you down, and know that most everyone else already knew what and whom your message refers to!  Hopefully other readers will have a few better ideas than I was able to come up with this morning, duty calls.  Ab.

08/12 A couple of comments from Ab. . . apologies all around for the delay in posting messages from 08/09 to the present!  I suffered a major hard drive crash during my first days off in "21" daze.  I slept through my first day off, then tried to reinstall my TV card in a motherboard slot I already suspected was bad.  Result?  "Unable to read from drive C:" Oh shit!. . . but, fdisk, reformat, restore, and we're back!  Ab.
08/11 The Lowden fire was a good show. That was the first active fire we had
at my station this season. Im a firefighter in Trinity county with CDF. 
My engine was among the first CDF engines to arrive at the scence.I know
the local volunteers were not to blame for this incident, and it angers
me that they are even remotely blamed for the actions of BLM.  CDF was
not invited to this prescribed burn . I do not know as to why. The day
in question was a RED FLAG DAY. It is impossible to blame voluteers for
this kind of blatant disreguard.  If private citizens could not start
fires on a red flag day, why should BLM be able to?

Thanx A. nony mouse

P.S. I heard though reliable sources the the man responsible had been
shipped to Alaska. Can anyone verify?

08/10 AB,
  Thanks for your comments & posting my info. I guess I wasn't planning on your critiquing my six lines, but since you did I will rebut and clarify my original point.
  As an earlier reader posted correctly Will was the OSC not the FBAN. I was merely stating that when you make a comment such as "We cannot get this thing to spot, the fire won't hardly burn" on a major attack fire that has burned for 5 days already to the tune of about 7000 acres, your asking for trouble. As the other writer put, you could set your watch by the wind and fire behavior.
  Point of clarification #2. You are correct in saying that the OSC job is to implement the plan based on how to best contain the fire. Would it also be true that the planning process should be dynamic and based on the current and expected fire behavior? What the fire is doing now and what it will be doing in the next op. period? And maybe even debrief line personnel (Div.Sups, Supts, STLs) to find out what THEY who were on the line think about what will,wont & might happen or need to happen? Many of the folks I spoke with were never even afforded the opportunity to ask what resources they would need/like for the next operational period? 
  You are again correct in pointing out that offering criticism without offering a solution is merely bitching. I believe that and reiterating, had I intended to do a full blown critique of the fire. Not just merely pointing out that one person who lacked the humility & knowledge to make a comment like that in the briefing was doomed for failure, than maybe solutions to the problems would have been addressed. 
  Tough Crowd! I do enjoy the dialogue and the exchange. I wish you were there so we could go into depth further on this subject and others.
FO

Thanks for your clarification FO, I think many of us have worked with teams that may not be up to our own personal standards.  Is that an understatement?  It's really not such a tough crowd here and I do try to keep my opinions and judgements to a minimum.  Thanks again for your participation, the fireline resources need to know the quality of the teams they are dealing with before they arrive on scene.  If they aren't up to snuff, it might as well be said here as anywhere else.  On that note, I was just talking to Pathfinder this afternoon on his way back from Elko.  He advised that he was released from Ravendale to Elko, only to learn upon arrival that the type I team there had ordered a type II team for support.  What?  Ab.

08/10 Just in from fire in Ravendale.  Just a note, Before we recieved a moderate
rain, one of the fires in the complex moved 2.5 miles in 3 hours.  Not real
fast by todays fuel conditions but still fast enough to yell "yowzee".  Had
fun and was good to smell sagebrush smoke again.

Groundpig.

08/09 Ab, (or anybody else who can help me),
        My FMO says they're are no fire classes  being taught in my region (R8)
anytime soon...so me being the non-believer..i looked on-line and found
all sorts of classes that i would be able to take, so i asked big 'ole
FMO if i could take some of these classes..and he said i cant get into
them without his nomination. I think he's full of shit, but i was just
wondering.. Is he right?

thanks much,
***
Actually, he/she probably is.  If it's a federally sponsored course, you won't get in without your FMO's nomination to the forest training officer.  However, there may be other sources of training in your area.  Regardless, don't get into a pissing match with your FMO over this issue.  Just go around them or get another job where your skills and dedication will be appreciated.  Ab.

 

08/09 Please add this to the Lowden discussion

My comments are directed to the folks that wrote the Lowden Fire review. 

Hell, the Burn Boss met NWCG Standards for prescribed fire and his fire got
away. Leave the volunteers alone and quit blowing smoke. The authors
reference to the volunteers wasn't a revelation. Most volunteers don't meet
NWCG standards but still do a preety good job, that meets their departments
needs.

I drove around the fire on the Friday after the escape and the CDF
helicopter was dropping very expensive buckets of water on smouldering logs
and snags well inside the burn. I understand CDF decided not to participate
in the burn because they wanted to have their resources available for
wildfire. Well it looks like they did but not as they had planned. 

I'd like to see a representative of landowners adjacent to any government
land prescribed burn be part of the planning and execution. Seems like
there is enough blame and kudos to spread around.

Fudgie

08/09 hey Fire Patriots!!!

Just got back from Lyon County and the Carson City area in Nevada, just as 
all hell was breaking loose. I'm sure that this e-mail will get read when 
everyone gets back, but for those who are on the waiting list and that damn 
rotation for the Western Great Basin, HEADS UP. VERY NASTY fire conditions 
up there. They have put into effect fire restrictions and staging equipment 
all over northern Nevada. Very eratic fire behavior is what I saw and what 
I'm hearing from my guys. Sent several strike teams and single resources 
from the Grand Canyon State in the last few days up to the Elko/Winnemucca 
Area. I myself was requested several times as strike team leader, but 
unfortunately, because I'm a damn paramedic, and we had a problem with one 
of our shift medics I get to stay back and play shift captain. Sometimes I 
really hate being a paramedic, especialy around fire season. Oh well, I've 
got another 30 years on this job, and I'm sure that I'll be able to go out 
at least once every 3 years..
Anyhow, PLEASE, if you folks get out to the fires, keep your sh!T straight
and what out for your brother and sister firefighter's out there!

Capt. Tim "Hollywood" Irwin
Mayer Fire AZ

08/09 To Dads old cloths.
I was the El Cariso Hot Shot Super. during the years of 1961 & 1962.  We were reorganizing the crew and decided on 2- 15 man crews with a crew foreman for each crew.  This made the crew number 32.  Del Rosa and El Cariso Hot Shots had a DC-2 stationed at Ontario airport for our crews and 
one of the crewmembers said during the war it was called the ruptured duck.  The crew did not have a mascot, and in one of the crew meetings it was
decided that the concept of the Ruptured Duck would be our logo.  My wife was a good artist and produced the drawing of the mascot.  The injury to the mascot was the crew's idea.  What it represented was toughness.

For those who care the duck was sexless and not representative of any sex,
race or anything else, just an old mascot from the war reused.  I never thought it would last this long.  But there was no great thought put into it.  Patty Campbell got direction to make it like daffy duck with a splint, a blister and using a crutch.  We reproduced the duck on hardhats, vests and on the basketball backboard.  I can still see Mike Alaga painting it on the backboard in camp. 

The crew cut 28 miles of hot line in 1962 and made me very proud of their work.  We had injuries but none serious these years.  These years of working
with the men on the crew were the best of my 30 years in the Forest Service.
DC

Thanks much DC.  "Dad's old clothes" question and your quality response pretty much epitomize (along with many other past subjects) the reasons I had for initially beginning, and what keeps me working on this site.  Ab.

08/09 To Mustang 8337,

Take it easy, dude.  That report didn't knock the volunteer ff's -
you're getting worked up over nothing.  I know the people that put
together the report, and I can tell you they didn't have heartburn
with the volunteer ff's - the problem was with the federal fire
managers. 

The statement that the local vols didn't meet NWCG standards means
just what it says if you read carefully.  The vols hadn't been through
the NWCG-approved Rx training courses and they hadn't taken the
NWCG-approved fitness test.  That DOESN'T mean that they can't do the
job, just that they don't meet the standards that federal agencies
require of people on Rx fires.  The BLM policy states that ALL
personnel on Rx fires must be certified to the NWCG Rx fire
qualifications. 

Remember, Rx fires are NOT emergencies (unless/until someone screws up
big time) - they are planned events that are somewhat like project
work.  So all federal agencies require that the personnell that staff
Rx fires are trained and certified to the standards that the feds
require of their own workers on federal lands.  Since the Lowden Rx
fire was on federal lands (before it escaped), the BLM is bound by
regulation to only use people that meet federal standards and
certification. 

Rx is different from wildfires.  Wildfires are emergencies, so there
are signed agreements in place stating that agencies will accept the
qualifications of other agencies.  Even that changes after initial
attack - if volunteers are hired and paid by the feds to fight fire on
federal lands, they have to meet the NWCG standards.  Those are the
rules - if feds pay someone, that person has to meet fed standards. 

So that comment in the Lowden Fire report was a slam on the FEDERAL
fire management staff for not following FEDERAL policy...not a slam on
the vols.  Violations of policy HAVE to be noted in that kind of
report, so that's why it was in there.  It's no reflection of the
capabilities or professionalism of the vols - they just hadn't jumped
through the federal hoops, and shouldn't have been used because the
fed policy prohibits that.  Frankly, if the vols had been running that
burn, maybe they wouldn't have screwed it up, but unless they've been
certified to federal standards the regs prohibit using them and that's
just how it is. 

The vols may not have had anything to do with losing the fire, but
using them on an Rx fire was a violation of policy and had to be
noted.  Remember that the report was intended to note all the
violations of policy, not just let people know how the fire got away. 
Its primary purpose was as an internal document for BLM to use to tune
things up - it's pretty remarkable and unusually open of BLM to
release it on the internet for everyone to see.  I don't notice other
agencies doing that. 

the (not-such-a) lurker FMO

08/09 I have read and reread the Lowden fire review and wonder how many
others have picked up on what was NOT mentioned.

Incidents such as the Lowden fire do not happen spontaneously.  They
are the end point of a long chain of events, like falling dominoes. 
Every link in the chain is equally responsible for the end result. 
Interrupting any one of the dominoes achieves the same effect as a
no-go decision by the last one in the line. 

The purpose of the burn was starthistle control.  Starthistle is a
class C noxious weed -- a bad pest but not worth intensive efforts at
eradication.  It is widespread throughout Northern California,
including the adjacent private property.  As an aggressive colonizer it
would have quickly repopulated the site.  What were they trying to
accomplish by burning a single patch amidst others?  Are fire managers
automatically defaulting to prescribed fire for every resource
management objective? 

The plan was not written by a qualified individual.  Assigning tasks to
an unqualified subordinate is a common practice.  It is an excellent
method of skill development used by supervisors and mentors everywhere.
 But the work must be reviewed and approved by the trainer.  The
actions and the work of the trainee remain the responsibility of the
trainer.

Higher level managers must review all burn plans.  Who is the qualified
planner that signed the plan?  Who is the line officer that also signed
the plan?  Did either one of them recognize the plan had flaws? If not,
why?  If so, why wasn't the plan rewritten?  Is this a line officer
that does not provide sufficient oversight to fire management, allowing
fire to 'do its own thing'?

What kind of pressure was placed on the burn boss?  Did he have X
number of acres to burn this year or suffer the consequences at his
annual performance rating?  The report mentioned  Northern California
had an unusual precipitation pattern this year.  A wetter than normal
winter followed by one of the warmest and driest May and June on
record.  Spring burn windows were almost non-existent.  Was he behind
on his targets because of the weather?  Could target non-attainment
affect next year's budget?  Political pressures are real factors in
decision making and sometimes are the overriding factor. 

Surely the local line officer knew of the planned burn on a holiday
weekend with high fire danger.  Did he raise a red flag?  Did any
higher level fire managers voice serious concerns?  Any number of
higher level managers all the way to the state office could have vetoed
the burn. 

Some firefighters at the burn raised concerns.  By policy, all
firefighters have the right and responsibility to raise safety issues. 
But everyone knows that a serious challenge to an assignment you
consider unsafe often puts a little black checkmark next to your name. 
This unofficial reality dampens collaborative decisionmaking so
necessary at prescribed fires and on wildfires. 

Protection responsibility for the area lies with CDF.  Local state
officials raised concerns.  Did they downplay their concerns because
BLM is a Federal agency?

  In Federal investigations the system is never at fault.  Pressure is
on from politicians, the media, and Washington to burn more and more (
but don't make smoke and don't have an escape).  Burning is risky even
under the best of conditions.  Fancy speeches, more regulations, or
more policy won't change that simple fact.  Politicians and beltway
bureaucrats created a system that pushes fire managers into taking
risks and then hold the lowest level on the food chain as a scapegoat
when things go bad.   When you set someone up to fail you shouldn't be
surprised at the outcome. 

 There is plenty of blame to go around -- from Washington DC to
Sacramento to the people at the scene.  It looks as if the whole blame
is being dumped on the one guy who can't maneuver his career out of the
way. 

Acorn

Nice job Acorn!  I know I'd certainly like to hear the burn boss's "real"story.  Somebody give him this address and tell him to come here and spill his guts!  Well, that may not help his career either, maybe someone who was there and knows him could provide some insight.  Ab

08/09 I was on the El Cariso crew in 1973.  The "Ruptured Duck" was our logo.  One had to cut "hot line" before earning the privelege of painting the duck on the back of your Filson vest.  I'm unsure of the origin.  I did hear a couple years back that the duck had been banned as being politically incorrect.  Perception was the duck dated back to an era when most firefighters were male.  Hence it was a tainted symbol of oppression and discrimination......and the duck itself was considered too "macho".   I still have my vest stuck away in a cedar chest.  I wouldn't take a million dollars for the experience......and at my age wouldn't give ten cents to do it again.
....old fire guy.
08/09      I recently downloaded a copy of the Lowden Ranch Prescribed Fire
Review (July 2, 1999) in Trinity County, CA,  from the BLM WebPage. For
those of you who don't know, this was a BLM Control Burn that got away
from the Burning Ops crews and destroyed over 2000 acres and 24 homes,
costing over $2 Million in suppression costs and over $2 Million in
personal property damage. After reading the report I thought it was well
written and moved straight to the point as to the mistakes made and the
problems that occured as a result of the fire. I want to encourage
everyone involved in Fire Management regardless of agency affiliation to
read and review this yourself and with your crew.

      There are two major things that I do want to address regarding the
Findings Section of the Report. The first is the lack of information
regarding the pressure to do the control burns that is going around both
in the DoI and DoA. I have seen where Administrative personnel  have
pressured their FMOs and other Fire Personnel to do more burning but
completely disregard the FMO's reports about being out of prescription.
I am sure that this resource manager for Redding BLM was under that kind
of pressure and it may have been a large contributing factor to why the
burn had gone through. I am not trying to absolve the burn IC, but this
should have been brought out in the report.

      Most disturbing is the Findings Section under Safety/Training. The
report mentioned that because the Burn Boss could not get most of the
original resources he wanted he had to scrounge together whomever he
could find to fill the order. In the report it is mentioned that besides
the other Federal engines and crew that were called, two local volunteer
fire department (Lewiston VFD and Douglass City FPD) were asked to
assist in the burn. Both of these departments responded with three
Type-4 engines and a Type-2 watertender to support the operations. The
report designates that one of the federal engines and hand crews were
trying to contain the second reported slopover which is where the fire
had gotten away. I am not focusing blame on those crews, but the first
slopeover was contained by the local government volunteers without any
problems.

      What I am concerned is not who lost the fire, but the what the
report said regarding the Training of the Personnel involved at the
scene. The report stated the following:

"All federal personnel at the prescribed burn were trained and qualified
for their assignments. Rural/volunteer fire department personnel must
meet National Wildfire Coordination Group (NWCG) for prescribed fire
operations."

"Findings:

              The local fire department personnel at the site did not
meet NWCG standards."
 

      After reading the report, discussing the situation with those who
do control burns and work with local volunteer fire departments, and
discussing it with other control burn professionals in the field, I have
to ask what this statement has to do with anything at all regarding the
cause of this fire. Have the authors of this report decided "We need to
shift the blame around, lets focus on someone who has no say."? What is
the point you are trying to make? That volunteers are not fit to assist
with control burn operations when called upon, that because they were
present at the prescibed fire at request they had caused the fire to
escape containment?

      These local fire departments were called because the people who
were scheduled to assist with the burn failed to show up for one reason
or another, but when they were called they came.
They volunteered to assist with the containment of the burn, but they
were not (according to the report) actively using firing operations to
start the burns, but were there to support the operation. When a fire
takes off in a National Forest or Range land and it falls under the
influence of a volunteer fire company are those federal fire crews and
FMOs instructed to turn the volunteers around and prevent them from
assisting in the control of the fire? It sound to me like this is a
future policy in the making.

      I completely disagree with this specific finding in the report. If
anything, it shows that when a wildland fire takes off they will be
there to assist, and it may suprise many of you that a lot of these
volunteers know there stuff when it comes to wildland firefighting. Many
of those people are former seasonal firefighters, former firefighters,
or have been doing it for so long they can do the job. They were called
to help contain the fire if control were to be lost, and they performed
their tasks when curcumstances called for it. They did not participate
in the firing operations, just in the containment ops, which could be
considered as responding to and extingushing a wildfire.
I bet if we looked real closely at the training records of some of the
seasonal firefighters on both the federal engines and the handcrew that
we would find paid, federal firefighters who have not been trained in
S-234. I would agree with the authors' findings if the volunteer
firefighters were out using fusees or driptourches on the burn, but the
report says they were not.

      The volunteers did what they were asked to do, and continued on
with there tasks of protecting life and property when the fire went out
of prescription and became a wildfire. If anything this is a great
training tool for volunteer firefighters who respond to wildland fires
because it gives them a great opportunity to see fire behavior and get a
chance to practice their training if the fire escapes the control lines.
The same could be said for our paid seasonal firefighters for either the
federal, state, or local governments. Nowhere in the report was there
any negative mention of performance regarding the volunteer firefighters
or there equipment except for this one part. CDF and other agencies
have, in the past, invited volunteer fire resources to come and observe
and participate in control burns because of the training value it has
and the hands-on practice it allows, it also gives paid and volunteer
crews a chance to work together on a fire, thus allowing for better
understanding of each other's capacities.

      If it is such a concern that you feel that volunteer or other
local government fire agencies should have the S-234 Prescribed Fire
Operations classes, then get off your butts and put the classes on. I am
sure if you offered it well in advance, where everyone could attend and
the costs were kept down they would come, they would participate if when
you have a control burn they are asked to come. Volunteer water tenders
are called to support burning operations regularly if and when paid
water tenders are not available, and the same goes for engines and
personnel when others are not available. We have it documented in this
report. The ironic thing is there are so many seasonal and volunteer
firefighters who would be willing to go through and take classes like
these if they were allowed to attend, instead of sending that biologist
or favored office slug who does not work in fire regularly but uses
their status to get into the class, or the current mode of "This person
is career-conditional, and we need to send them instead of you."

       I feel subliminally, that making this single statement sets up
two very negative and dangerous ideas regarding local government and
volunteer firefighters. First, that if they don't have the training or
equipment that meets OUR preferences, then they should not be called.
This is setting up turfs and kingdoms, "You can't come to my fire
because you did not go through MY PERSONAL HOOPS!(or the more X-Rated
version involving kneepads)", or this means you can't go to a National
Forest wildfire because you did not have the Forest Service's wildland
firefighter class, and the CDF wildland firefighter class or the
community college's is not acceptable. Second, it causes distrust and
friction between paid and volunteer fire agencies that should not exist.
When it comes to fighting the fire, when on the line there is no
difference between the two. In 1988 during the 49er Fire in Nevada
County, CA, many of the direct attack and support resources on that fire
were volunteers. We all have to work together regardless of our status.
For many of you, that volunteer was one or your closest
resources. It doesn't do well to piss in the pond you drink from.

     When large scale fires hit and paid resources are committed, its
local volunteers that pick up the slack and become the paid
firefighters. I can remember several times in my time where volunteer
engines with volunteer crews and paid local government fire crews and
engines were called to staff at paid forest fire stations for up to two
or more weeks without relief. Many of you out there now will probably
see more volunteer water tenders out on campaign fires than private
contractors or other paid water tenders.

       When the statement was made "The local fire department personnel
at the site did not meet NWGC standards", what specifically are you
getting at? What did they do to contribute to the loss of control of
this prescribed fire? I read nothing in the report that indicated that
the actions of the local VFDs caused the fire to escape its boundaries.
If there is someting that they did to cause the destruction of 2000
acres and 23 homes, come out and say it! Your combined agencies offer
these classes to your own people through the year, why won't you open
them up to those outside and within your agencies, regardless of status,
and at your cost? If its that important then don't deny it to anyone.

     Maybe those involved in writing this report should be more specific
as to what their personal heartburn is toward other fire agencies? I
sure would like to hear about it. Particularly the names of the people
who produced this specific part of the report. I know I would.

Mustang 8337

08/08 r.e.  FO's thread on the Spanish fire,  Will was the day ops chief.  The FBAN's were right on with the weather and possible fire behavior.  Day two
the fire moved out of the flats  ( sage, grass, scrub oak ) to 80 year old chaparral along the Cuyama front country. Once this happened OPS
decided to back off and try indirect dozer lines, which were hard to do because the lack of decent ridges to use, the original lines were put
anywhere from 5-6 drainages away. I dont know how they expected to fire these lines, we didnt get any Federal Type 1 crews til the 3rd or 4th
day. When the Cat 1 crews showed up, they went right in and said lets go direct where we can and thats when we started getting a foothold. You
could set your watch by the afternoon winds, NW 10-25. The fire would run laterally with the wind and lose the wind and run up the drainages for
some spectacular runs with area ignition, fire whirls, long range spotting, the whole range of extreme fire behavior. It would run up about 2/3's of the
way and peter out because the fuels moistures were still pretty high on the upper levels  ( elevation change from valley to ridge was about 3000' ) we
successfully fired the ridge with the Kern county terra torch ( good job if I do say so ) fighting
 strong ridge winds from the NE. We held it on the south side, but they lost it on the northwest side due to the NE wind for a slop of about 300
acres, but quick action by air, hotshots, dozers and T3 engines saved the Russell ranch and knocked it down. I know there are holes in this
summary, but my opinion was that too much caution by day ops going indirect put us at the mercy of the winds and I dont  like being that far away
from the black. A very expensive fire, 8M. Wondering why brush could have such a high price tag, but hey, the shower and laundry units were in
place on day 2!  and it takes a lot to feed 35 strike teams of CDF crews......   Sting

Thanks Sting!  Ab.

08/08 I was going through some of my dads old clothes (he passed away 6 Mos
ago) and found one of his old El Cariso Hot Shot sweat shirts. It had a
character of a wounded duck on the front. Wing in a cruch and neck brace
with a stick. I thought this pretty interesting. Any El Cariso folks
know what the back ground is? Is it still El Cariso's character they
use. He was on  the crew I believe late 50's early 60's. Thanks
08/06 Another war story re: medivacs

I was helibase manager on a fire several years ago ( another Klamath
fire ) when we received an urgent medivac request.  Only a light
helicopter could get into the helispot so I sent a 206.  The initial
plan was to fly the patient directly to the hospital because the crew
medics radioed the kid was in real bad shape.  Then the pilot radioed
the helibase and said to get the camp paramedics ready with full
equipment and the patient needed to be transported by a medium
helicopter.  Upon landing the kid was in real serious condition with
unequal pupils, irregular heartbeat, and labored breathing.  We were
putting him in a 212 with the local paramedics and their life support
gear when the Ops came up and ordered us to transport him in the 206. 
The reason he gave was he didn't want to lose the medium helicopter (I
pulled the 212 off heli-mopping duties).  Fortunately the Air Ops got
Ops pulled aside and out of sight and we sent the patient in the 212
anyway.  I never heard anything about my 'insubordination' and I didn't
care if the Ops was pissed.  Taking care of the troops on the line is
always my number one (and number 2, number 3.....) priority.

 BTW the kid pulled through OK. 

Acorn

Glad to hear the final decision was the correct one.  It's inconceivable, and should be criminal, when those in strategic positions are unable to determine, or adjust to changes in priorities on an incident.  I've requested several emergency evacuations from the line and am very glad to say that each incident was given top priority and was expedited with the best, quickest possible means.  Ab.

08/04 Ab, in response to your request on responding to Doug on lighting of
Lowder with perimeter & alignment.

>From my experience it isn't uncommon to blacken from your highest or
upwind point first & work off a black line.  Many of mine have had
similar alignment.  The problem  on Lowder was the existing and
forecasted wind speeds. I'd have started in the same place, just a
diffeent day.

I read the report, and while the prescription window wasn't included, my
generic Rx window is usually a >5%FFM & MFW <10, along with other
parameters. 
BUT, that is the window (some call it a barn door).  I believe we have a
Rx to meet resource objectives and control the fire.  So, a key is also
the ignition method & pattern, direction, rate & method are critical. (
We learned this well when we first started using helitorches. A lot of
fire can offset other variables.)   Having a large window doesn't mean
you have to burn on the hot end.  We often use wind to off set fuel
moisture, increase consumption or reduce scorch.  We don't light at the
top end of wind and low end of fuel moisture, unless we have a strong
established black line.  Most long time burners will tell you the first
black line on your escape prone edge is the most critical. We also don't
light when out of Rx.

Would I have burned that unit, sure, but not under those conditions, the
spot foredcast was calling for winds to exceed Rx (and they did).
Burning in alignment isn't an uncommon practice, but like Lurker
said,"Timing is everything", there are lots of hours in a day and days
in a year.

I teach in Rx burning that writing the burn plan is important but
planning the burn is more important. Poor planning often results in poor
implementation.   Also burning with target fixiation usually results in
problems as well as burning when strong winds are forecast. 

I encourage all burn bosses to read the report, then follow agency
policy and the approved plan.  Our agencies don't pay enough for you to
take personal risks to meet targets. 

Sage

08/04 Just got back from the Klamath, where I was on the same Div. as the
Plumas Hotshots when they were hurt. Seems a squad was securing a spot
below the main fire when a 40' log let loose and came down at them.
Being that it was extremely steep (120%) and rocky it was all the
firefighters could do to get out of its way. Two of them got clipped,
and throw down the slope. Both suffered moderate injuries to their
knees.
    The really bad part was in the time that it took to get them off the
hill and to the hospital. A medivac ship (with winch or short haul
capability) was ordered by the Supt, but was vetoed by Ops for some
reason. After about 2 hours litters were finally brought in. After
another hour and great effort the injured had been brought up to a newly
contructed helispot. It still took another 20 min for the medivac ship
to show up! I learned later that when the ship got to the Helibase,
there was no ambulance to meet them. Ops wanted them loaded into the
back of a pick-up for transportation to the Medical Unit instead of a
hospital. Finally common sense prevaled and they were transported to the
hospital (2 hrs away).
    If we are going to suppress fires in the steep, remote areas that we
do, we need to have the commitment from the teams running the fires that
personnel safety is of number one importance and that the people who are
sitting back in camp sipping sodas are not second guessing those who are
out in the field. There is no piece of ground so important that we have
to put our firefighters at a greater risk than they are already
experiencing.
    The real fire season is just starting- Stay Safe.       -Tonka

Thanks for the info Tonka.  I guess the most obvious question is, "why weren't the injured flown directly to a hospital?", the back of a pickup?, what?.  Ab

08/03 To lurker FMO
Thanks for the thoughts and do not stop offering an opinion.
At least you have an answer to solve the problem.
I look at what the test fire is telling me and when spotting
happens I determine if the fire behavior is getting worse
or getting better.  It was getting worse so I would have
cause to shut the burn down.
Doug Campbell
08/02 To all,

If the report on the Heber HS gets posted on the web, I'll send in the
URL.  If it just gets issued through channels, I'll see if I can't
summarize it. 

To Doug Campbell,

Well, a little Monday morning quarterbacking on the Lowden fire might
be fun.  I've got a copy of the plan for that fire, though I've never
seen the site so it's all speculation (right?).  The first thing that
strikes me is that the site prep requirements were not met (3 to 5
foot line to mineral soil on the east side) and the required holding
forces weren't there.  Now, I'm not an FBAN, but under the Rx (wind
max 5mph - desired 3; 1 hr. fuel moisture 6 - desired 8) the fire
behavior in the fuels outside the perimeter would most probably have
been acceptable IF the prescriptive conditions (and required holding
forces) had been present and they had been burning in May or June, as
called for in the Rx plan. 

Let's assume we're burning in prescription at the proper time of
year.  It looks like it might not have hurt to start the firing on the
downwind side, burning against the wind (if any) to blackline that
perimeter.  Another thing I thought when I first heard about the fire
was that for a smallish burn in fine fuels, it might not have been a
bad idea to wait until the later part of the day so you could see how
the conditions were in the afternoon, and you could use the cooling
effects in the evening to help control the fire behavior.  Firing
during late morning can give any escape the best burning conditions of
the day to really romp - which is what happened.  Timing is
everything. 

Or were you asking me if I'd like to burn the Ventura County project? 
Sure!  But I live a long ways away...  Anyway, it'd be near impossible
to really "test" our theories, since the conditions would be (and
should be) different, but I think I could have pulled off the Lowden
Ranch Rx fire without losing it, though not on July 2, 1999 'cause it
was totally out of prescription.  But as I pointed out, we're just
talking "shoulda" here (as in "they shoulda done it different"). 

the lurker FMO (who should be lurking more and writing less)

08/02 Here in Northern Division of New Jersey we are in what is being called the 
second worst drought this Century in NJ.  Rainfall over the last two months 
is just under 2 inches (most in the early part of july, end of June), where 
we normally have almost 9 inches.  Last measurable rainfall in my district 
was .3" begining of last week.  The governor issued a drought warning today. 
Between that and the third hottest July in the last 100 years is giving us a 
very, very busy summer season. 

I spent the weekend on a small fire helping the National Park Service in the 
Delaware NRA.  It was the fourth lightning ignite I went to in the last week. 
 For those of you out west, lightning ignition is VERY rare here in NJ, not 
to mention having a summer fire season.  At least three of those strikes had 
some small amount of precip but not enough.  The fire on NPS land was a bit 
over 4 acres, in steep, and rugged terrain, and it was a hike in.  After the 
cold front passed yesterday, RH dropped and some erratic fire beh was noted. 
I believe the plan is to get a helo to assist today. 

NJ has no air resources available at this time, the huey's are grounded while 
their engines get certified, and the planes are contracted during the spring 
and fall only (our usual busy times).  Instead we've initiated patrols for 
the part-time wardens.  We're praying that we don't get a major.

We are also having a problem with roadside ignites.  One stretch of Route 80 
has about 10 fires within 6 miles in one week.  Could be cigarettes, but 
we're starting to wonder....

Typically, we have about 10-15 new starts a day in my division (northern 
third of the state).  The KBDI is over 620, 10hr sticks are at 6, 100 hr at 
13.  These are all Extremely high for us in summer time.

Doc Moleskin

08/01 Where have I been? This is the one.

Getting into a good season, this last one of 1900's. Had allot of fun on the Spanish Fire and lots of good work and cooperation between the Red and
Green teams despite Ops inability to put the fire out. Wil if you read this, dont say in the Ops briefing "that we cant make this thing spot". That was
good for about three more days after the fire gods proved you to be ignorant and gave you quarter mile spotting. Hope you'll learn from that one.

Thats all for now.
FO

I'm guessing Wil would have been the FBAN on the fire?  We can't be to hard on those guys, FBAN can be one of the most embarrassing positions when the available data doesn't provide a good prediction.  One of my favorite memories of a briefing was from an FBAN in Yellowstone when he advised the fire behavior that day would be off the charts and that there was really no historical data to compare the information with.  He just kinda shrugged his shoulders and said "be safe out there".  And yes, you could say the fires showed and increase in intensity that day!  As for Ops putting the fire out, that's a different story.  All Ops can do is implement a plan based on how to best contain the fire.  Containment won't ever happen until the fuels, topo, and weather allow it.  I'd be interested in knowing what job on the fire you occupied that provided you the wisdom to offer these criticisms, (esp. without proposed solutions).  Ab.

08/01 Hi all- thank you all for the information so far on the Heber Hotshots at 
the Wagon Box fire.  If anyone knows where to get the preliminary report or 
any other information on the incident, I would really appreciate it.
Thanks again Ab for providing a site like this where we can find out what's 
happening with the other folks we work with wherever they are.  Any more 
news on the Plumas hotshots you mentioned before?  Take care all and be 
safe....

I know the two Plumas Hotshots were driven home a couple of days ago.  I've heard some concern on how the injury situation was handled on the line and in fire camp, but won't comment more until I have all the facts.  Ab.

07/30 RE: Lurker FMO
Thanks for the due respect comment but I wouldn't have ignited that project
while in the Rx window.  The escape potential was far too great.  The plan
itself put the east perimeter next to
an exposure that was in alignment with the 3 primary forces of wind, slope
and preheated fuels. 
Ventura Co. FD has one just like the Lowden burn to do in the near future. 
How would
you like to try to burn it and prove your contention that it was compliance
with the 
prescriptive elements that was the major reason it escaped?  I think that
would be a great
opportunity to try out theories, both yours and mine.
Doug
07/29 I was at the Wagon Box fire in northeast Nevada and northwest Utah where
5 members of the Heber H.S. received burns to hands/arms/face during a
burnout operation on July 22.  The information about the gloves and
shirt sleeves being off/rolled up is what we at the fire were also
told.  None of the burns were beyond second degree and the victims were
treated and released, although some were medivaced to the Salt Lake City
Burn Center.  There was no entrapment and no shelter deployment, only a
wind shift that forced the crew to head back across a road in Meadow
Creek Canyon and seek refuge in the black.  Not a safety violation other
than lack of proper use of PPE.
07/29 It was the Heber Hotshots who ran into the black in Nevada.  The official report said 5 firefighters burned their hands (2nd degree burns).  All have
been released to light duty.  An investigation is under way - they reported that no one had to deploy or were even attempting to deploy.  Guess no one
had gloves on.
07/29 Hi,

Thought I'd lurch out of the lurk mode to address a couple of the
messages here.

re: the Heber HS injuries.  The preliminary report from Nevada says
the burns were primarily to the hands of five crewmembers, and the
worst were second degree.  The crewmembers were treated and released
to light duty and are expected to return to full duty within two
weeks.  It appears the crew was practicing LCES, but when moving away
from a hot part of the fire through the black they went through an
area with "a high amount of radiant heat."  Looks like they might not
have been wearing gloves - no mention of sleeves.  It did not appear
to be an entrapment and no shelters were popped.  An interagency
investigation team will issue an official report...blah, blah, blah. 
There's also a reminder that the Great Basin is having unusually high
temps and fuel loading, and low RH and fuel moisture.  Heads up! 

re: Doug Cambpell's question about the Lowden fire.  All due respect,
but the planning of the burn wasn't the big problem.  The big problem
was that they were out of prescription when they started burning, and
the weather forecast showed that the conditions would get worse during
the day.  They didn't follow the plan.  They were also short of the
resources called for by the plan, and at least two weeks later than
the time called for by the plan (their state burning permit had
expired!)  The plan itself was slightly shaky in that 1) an
unqualified person wrote it, and 2) the plan wasn't accurate about the
fuels adjacent to the burn.  I should note that I haven't taken the
CPS training, but it's pretty clear to me that the execution of the
burn was were things got really screwed up, not the planning.  The
report can be found at:
http://www.blm.gov/nhp/Preservation/FireSuppression/index.php

the lurker FMO

07/28 I just reviewed the Lowden Rx review posted on the BLM web site.
I would like to ask the students who have taken the Campbell Prediction
System course to comment on their assessment of the perimeter selected for the burn, 
the timing and sequence of firing and the alignment of wind, slope and
preheating forces that were present and getting worse at 1pm the day of the escape.
Can you describe how the burn should have been planed?
Doug Campbell

Sage?

07/28 Just heard from a friend that some hotshots got burned on one of the Nev. fires. It seems they had their shirt sleeves rolled up and no gloves on. The
wind turned, they ran for the black, tripped fell and got caught. That's all I know. Anybody know any more??????
Dave C

I haven't heard about that incident, too busy running daily operations to read much of the fire news.  Comes a point in time that if it ain't happening here, I may not know about it.  I did hear that two Plumas Hotshots were run down by a rolling log on the Klamath NF.  They are banged up a bit, but let's hope nothing serious.  Ab

07/27 Abercrombie
I just now got back from a vacation in the back country of the Sierra
Mountains where we have been fly fishing in the wilderness for a month.  I
read with great interest the comments about my concepts of practical fire
behavior predictions for wildland fires. I put the web site on my favorites
list for further review.  From what I saw I liked it a lot.  I think ideas
from the real firefighters should be freely shared.   If people want more
information about The Campbell Prediction System, CPS they can visit my web
site at www.dougsfire.com
The system is a logical thought processes that considers what is going to
make a fire change for it is the change that is dangerous or provides
opportunity for suppression.  Wind changes need to be predicted and what
effect they will have on the fire behavior.  Fuel conditions including
flammability changes need to be considered.  Topography changes bring about
fire behavior changes and need to be considered.  The fire behavior observed
is the fire signature and that is helpful in understanding what changes are
in store.
I find some people would rather favor the hi tech mathematical model for
making fire behavior predictions on wildland fires.  Most of the time these
predictions are too broad to predict dangerous events.  The firefighter must
know what changes are in the near future and where the safety line is in any
situation or they will eventually get hurt. I wish I would have known and
could have applied CPS on the Romero fire where four firefighters were
caught in an unsafe position when a sundowner wind drove the fire down slope
and entrapped them.  I would have used the logic to move the firefighters
based on the forecast and evacuated them earlier saving those lives. I
have heard the argument that CPS would not have worked on the Romero fire. 
This is not said by any of the students of CPS.  This is said by persons who
are afraid to look at the wisdom acquired over the years by the experienced firefighter, what ever they called it.
Thanks for the message.
Doug Campbell
07/27 John Maclean, son of Norman Maclean, author of Young Men and Fire, is the 
author of a book about the South Canyon incident called, Fire on the 
Mountain, that will be released in October of this year. John, who helped 
edit his father's book, has spent almost five years researching the South 
Canyon fire, and the events that resulted in the death of the firefighters.

I thought an alert about the book might be appropriate for the firefighters 
using your site.

John Marker
Wildland Firefighter Magazine

07/26 I, too, am a second generation wildland firefighter.  There are three other
families with that distinction on my district as well.  I think it must be
in the blood.  My dad worked on my district every summer for 29 years while
a teacher during the rest of the year.  We worked together for 6 seasons,
but he now enjoys retirement (from teaching and fire) while I still go back
every summer and intend to do so until I retire from teaching (I followed
his footsteps into that endevour as well).

Tim
I and, I think it safe to say, many other firefighters envy you Tim.  While my father listened to my many stories while he was alive, I recall it was always hard to know if he, and the rest of the family, were able to understand or appreciate much of what I was tellinig them.  I'd bet you have some great Thanksgiving dinners treating each other with some great war stories.  Ab

07/26 Hello from Western Washington, not much fire action in the State as of yet. 
A few small fires here and there, understand that the SE corner of the State 
is dry and ready to go, but as we always say "if we don't have an early 
season we will have a late one." Firestorm 91 started October 16, 1991, 
before the Oakland hills fire. 

We did have an inferno in Bellingham, WA. a few weeks ago when a petroleum
pipeline broke, an amazing site to see, very lucky that only 3 young people 
died.  If it would have happened a day or two later on the weekend, the area 
would have been filled with hundreds of people.  Even though it was in a very 
steeply incised creek, very green and wet, as I always say - put enough 
diesel on the ground and anything will burn---well it is true.  It was so hot 
it burned the moss off the rocks in the middle of the creek, shattered the 
bed rock in places so you had to scrape off the loose rock with a tool just 
to get a safe foot hold.  The other amazing site was the pipeline company 
driving up with a check book in their hand and buying any thing the overhead 
team wanted. 

Since it is such a slow start to the season up here, I understand that Wa. 
State personnel have been put on the block for out of state dispatch, I will 
believe it when I see it. 

Keep the wind at your back and one foot in the black.

Wphires

07/26 RE:  Mike
I don't know where in Oregon your friend is working, but I work on engines
in Central Oregon and have been having a great year.  Over 200 hours OT
since June 14th, and dirty august is around the corner!!!  See you all
around!

Tim

07/25 My son works on the fulton shots, I have spent the last 25 years working in fire and am about 2 years out from retirement. The last i heard from my son
was sometime in early july they were headed to Alaska. If anyone runs into the Fulton shots will you please find Little Jerry and tell him to call his dad.
He is a radio on the crew. No emergency. Since i go out on fires frequently, i am always looking for people he does not know, to tell him "I know your
dad, and he wants to know when he is getting his fathers day gift". Have enjoyed this site and will vist more often. Someone should do an article on
parents and offspring who are wildland firefighters. Are we a minority? or are there quite a few numbers of sons and daughters who have followed
there parents career?

jerry sr. 

I think there are actually quite a few families with your situation, I know of three on my forest.  Ab

07/25 Just got a phone call from a friend working engines in Oregon........ He
is heading home on the 26th. No fires and no OT. said that he can't even
afford to pay his room and board. As he put it, so much for a hot season
in the NorthWest.
Mike

He may be just a little too far North.  Orders are, and have been flying all week for Central and Northern Cal, and Nevada, with no end in sight.  The Klamath NF is placing trainee orders as we speak.  My forest has held 58 fires to under 13 acres, but luck will soon be running out.  Engine and crew captains are being worked their 6th and 7th days just to keep the modules going.  Ab

07/21 Sage-

Wholly cow!!! Gotta pitch in my 2cents in here.  Your bottom line is right on the mark: ("If your looking to learn, use or teach fire
behavior, consider ALL factors" ) and campbells system is a big part of that. It is one that you dont have to be a rocket scientist or
computer guru to understand, but most of all it works in most situations.  And more importantly, you dont need a computer, or
nomograms to let you know what to expect when you are on the line.  Nothing is perfect in every situation, but campbells system is
excellent to keep you from being in the wrong location at the wrong time.  I cannot speak of the Romero or Eagle fire as I am not that
familiar with them and I understand that it will not fit well in santa anna situations.  But in Storm King it was (or would have been) right
on the mark.  To use campbells words "everything was in perfect alignment" for a big blowup @ storm king.

Yea, he uses aspect as a big part of his system, but to say that it is all he looks at is way off the mark. When I first read campbells
system so many things fell into place.  Admittidly, I have been out of the western scene for the most part these last few years but the
funny thing I always remember was the behaviour forcast.  Would always state what the worst case behaviour would be, but rarely
where and when to expect to see it.  I guess in my mind the ideal behaviour forcast to help the folks on the line would be to use the
behaviour models (behave or what ever you are using) and then use the campbell system to overlay on that and let the folks know that
on this slope in the pm you should expect whatever.

Beyond this is the safety factor.  Campbell pushes this in a big way in his "time tag tactics" Fight the fire where you will be at an
advantage and not where the fire is going to make a big run and put folks in harms way.

The bottom line (as you said it) is to look at ALL the factors.

Lets be safe out there!
Pulaski

07/20 Sage's comments re Campbell's system are good, but incomplete.  The NWCG 290 
method is the most accurate and comprehensive, and considers all the 
factors.  But it is difficult to use quick and dirty in the field. 
Campbell's method is user friendly on the fireline.  Both have a place in 
the firefighter's toolbox.

The two systems are essentially the same.  Both assess fuel flammability
using different methods.  NWCG gives weight to RH while Campbell's uses 
solar radiation.

Just learn them both and use the appropriate method at the appropriate 
place and time.

Gordon

07/19 For John Thomas: The Campbell Prediction System is a live and well. Doug can 
be reached at 805 646 7026, or 1210 Sunset Place, Ojai, CA 93023. He also has 
a web site and e-mail, but both addresses escape me for the moment.

John Marker
Wildland Firefighter Magazine

07/19 Great Site, Things are finally starting to take off on the Los Padres, bunch of lightning starts early this month. I think we'll be busy freom here on out!! 
thats all for now...see you on the big one!
 L
07/18 Have looked all over the net for lightning detection.  Looking for
source to pull up and look at , to check lightning activity in our area
in Southern Idaho.  Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks

Bish

There isn't anyone I'm aware of giving lightning strike data away free.  The Forest Service get's it's data from the BLM site:  http://www.nifc.blm.gov/nsdu/lightning/index.phpl, but that won't get you far without a login and password.  BLM gets their data from Global Athmospherics, Inc., http://www.glatmos.com/  who doesn't give much away free.  They do have a new free animated routine which provides a rough idea of where the last 24 hours of strikes have been.  Ab

07/18 Cambell's "prediction" is advertized in a number of wildland fire
magazines.
Though I'm not sure why you wouldn't use NWCG S-290.  Cambell focuses on
one element of one factor.
Aspect is only part of TOPOGRAPHICAL Influences and interrelationships
with FUELS and WERTHER.

Cambell's would not have helped on Storm King, as they were fighting
fire on the same aspect they perished.

It would not have helped on the Eagle Fire, where the burn victims were
hit with a subsiding air masss. 

It would not have helped on the Romero Fire, where the fatalities
occured at night in a Santa Anna event. And the list could go on!

Cambell's is a focus on one of the most constant variables of fire
behavior prediction.  IT (ASPECT) will never change!
All fires burn differently because of fuels weather and, the most
difficult to predict, weather.
SO, my advice (after instructing in fire behavior since 1975 and an FBAN
since 1981)is: If your looking to learn, use or teach fire behavior,
consider ALL factors.
Sage

07/17 RE:  John Thomas
Here is the link to doug campbells site:

http://www.dougsfire.com/

07/17 If you look in Firehouse magazine, the second to last page "parting shots".  That's a district warden in my division, meeting with the governor.  Those
are driver nomex shorts.  hehehe

Things are getting extremely bad here, each section has daily patrols, the whole northern part of the state has a stage II campfire ban (all fire must be
elevated), and there are no agricultural burn permits allowed.  Today there were 8 new starts in our area of the state, the largest being a 28 acre grass
fire in another section.  All the other fires have been caught by the local FD's before they get big.  We keep waiting for the other shoe to drop here.

This is the driest summer I can remember in at least 10 years. 

Doc Moleskin

07/16 Abercrombie's back from his brief sojourn, left Sunday and back today.  Hopefully my efforts will benefit us all, some directly, some indirectly, we'll see.  Things can be strange at the national level.  A couple of messages had to wait a day or two, I didn't have a connection from my provider where I was, although I updated the page long distance on Wed, but things should be back to normal now.  15 fires on my forest while I was gone, but not much acreage, (and one rekindle today, oops)!  Ab
07/16 Just wanted to let you know there was a story about the anniversry of the 
Storm King Mt Fire in this months edition of Firehouse Mag.  You may already 
be aware of this.  Please let your friends know about this article.  If you 
would like more info, mail me at ghshank@epix.net.
 Lt. Matt Shank
07/16 Been searching the net for a couple days and I can't find anything on the 
campbell prediction system, any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

John Thomas

07/13 Just checking in, Im on engine 602 in southern Utah. Just pulled a 21.
Things have been pretty active here. 

Someone asked if we had a deployment out here in Utah. Yes two
firefighter's had to deploy in sage and grass. They ended up in one
shelter due to a shelter being snagged on some brush. It's my
understanding that they were on their way to one fire when the happened
upon this one....

07/13 Just found this site, I like it.  Thanks for putting it up. 
This year looks like it might actually do something here in northern
California.  I just got off of the Lowden fire in Trinity County last
week.  2000+ acres, 23 homes, and 3 out-buildings.  Much of the fire
crowned due to high winds.  As usual, the fire was great, but the food
sucked. 

model 5

07/13 Hey Ab!
Well, July is off to a great start for us here in the Central Sierra, we returned very early Friday from the first long distance marathon strike team assignment for the Fresno/Kings Ranger Unit. We journeyed to Butte Ranger Unit on 7/1 and were treated to 4 days of initial attack fun while their folks were up north some where. After being released to return to Fresno, were ripped off by South Zone to respond to the San Bernardino Ranger Unit. After an epic non stop drive, we ended up covering stations and spending an interesting night shift on the Elliot Fire some where in the desert. Upon returning home, we had just turned off good old Hwy. 99 and were sent to a pretty good fire near Prather that was threatening structures. Along the way we assisted one of our Battalion Chiefs in a felony drunk driver stop( imagine 2 type 3 engines and a BC along a dark and windy mountain road, car in a ditch and a non English speaking dk driver and you have all the makings of a pretty good TV episode of some cop show or other!) As you can see, we are off to a good start, lets hope it keeps up. as I sit here at home pounding out this missive, the High Sierra to the north and east of me are showing some very impressive build ups, maybe we'll get some dry lightning in the next couple of days!
That's it Ab, here's hoping you have a great month!
Thanks again for a great page.
Engineer Emmett
CDF/FKU
07/13 It's time again to move the older messages to archive.  Please note that May and June have been archived as MAY-JUN 99 with a permanent link provided at the bottom of this page.
07/10 Greetings All, 
As the West begins to have it's first real fire season in three years, Ab is starting to see there may be times  when this page won't have it's usual daily updates.  Yesterday was an 18 hour day with multiple initial attacks and folks sent off to Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada.  New ignitions are appearing more frequently in the higher elevations, burning indexes are above 110, fuel sticks spent last week at 2, and the winds are crank'in.  I'll be on an unexpected assignment next week, but should be able to keep things flowing smoothly here.  Be safe, see you on my forest soon!  Ab.
07/10 How about a link to our web site? I like your theme and non affiliation. 

Regards 
Jim Evans 
-- 
IHFA Celebrating 52 Years of Helicopter Firefighting 
       http://www.ihogman.com/ihfa/index.phpl 

I'll get a permanent link put up on the link page asap.  Ab

07/10 A little poem to put a smile on your face.. 

The season's half over, 3 months to go. 
So far its been good, and the food; well no. 

It's monsoon season in the west; there's only rain in sight. 

Muggy, humid days and even wetter at night. 

Tons of ground pounders sharpening thier ski's, 
Hoping they'll get dull from cutting fireline and chopping 
down trees. 

Our engines sit in thier stalls, 
Wondering where are the calls? 

Pagers are quiet, wait was that a beep? 
No just rain and hail flowing down the street. 

The humidity high and the plants are green; 
At least for a while no fire will be seen. 

Sorry, I was bored and no one has written lately.

07/10 Just wanted to drop a note and say Groundpig has been having a blast 
hitting hot, fast moving grass/brush/interface fires this week. Excellent 
inter-department/interagency work.  Regardless of color the goal is still 
to put the fire out and the objective is to ensure firefighter safety and 
protect the public.  Cool, Right On and F--king-A.  We still do a few 
things right.  Hang in there Ab, and thanks for the support. 

GP.

07/10 Just wanted to drop a note and say Groundpig has been having a blast 
hitting hot, fast moving grass/brush/interface fires this week. Excellent 
inter-department/interagency work.  Regardless of color the goal is still 
to put the fire out and the objective is to ensure firefighter safety and 
protect the public.  Cool, Right On and F--king-A.  We still do a few 
things right.  Hang in there Ab, and thanks for the support. 

GP.

07/10 R-3 has slowed down a bit with the summer monsoonal flow doing it's thing. Light IA stuff here in the northland (NO. AZ.) Anymore moisture within the  zone, we're headed out of state for bigger fires!! About time!! 

Hey Dr. Moleskin!!  Caught your message regarding EMS care on the fire line. Something that has  been an issue for a lot of years. I remember on the Granit Fire in P-Burg  Montana in '88, our AZ State strike team had the only EMT's and Paramedics  on the fire. We saw quite a bit of EMS work on that particular fire, which I  thought was a lil strange for an engine crew from AZ to see. I remember  seeing an ambulance at the fire camp, but wasn't manned. During our 2 weeks there, we saw everything from bee stings to a tonic-clonic seizure (which  was initially called a code arrest) right in the middle of camp. The bad  boys of the Peoria Fire Department responded with their paramedic equipped  type 6 engine and treated the guy until a medivac helo showed up from  Missoula, some 45 minutes later. Thank God the guy made it. For being in such a lil town, nobody had seen or heard of paramedics before, and needless  to say, because of that incident, we were now the mobile "fire-docs" from  AZ, cruzing the back woods of the Granit looking for EMS calls and  supporting SWIFFT crews. 

I'm glade to say that, at least here in AZ, things are a lil better.  Most project fires have a staffed Medical unit with a couple of EMT's (who  may have a lil experience) and a staffed ambulance in camp. We also have a  few private contractors out there who provide VERY experienced paramedics to  the front line. These paramedics are experienced structural/wildland  firefighter/paramedics who are mostly off duty firefighters from the Phoenix  Valley area. Personnel are sent to divisions with their POV's with stocked  advanced life support equipment, some very advanced protocols/standing  orders and a cell phone to call the base hospital (try calling on a cell  behind the San Francison Peaks) if needed, complete wildland PPE's and a  potable radio. A great system that works for us, the folks that are out  there in the elements. I had to use them in '96 on the Horseshoe Fire after  my firefighter was stung in the lip by a bee.  I initiated ALS care with Sub-Q Epi, a breathing treatment of Albuterol and  O2, and a IM injection of Benadryl prior to the guys from "Paramedics  Unlimited" showing up. They continued with supportive care and transported  him over to the medical unit for further evaluation. Once again, proper EMS  coverage (BLS & ALS) for us firefighters out in the boondocks. 

Fortunately in AZ, our prehospital protocols are more advanced and  empowering than in other states. I can only hope when I send my guys out of  state, that they will get the same EMS coverage. Our fire district requires  us to maintain full ALS equipment (all except a cardiac monitor unless  requested by the state) on our brush trucks for off-county response. This is  kinda like a self preservation move on our part. 

Are there any others out there that maintain EMT/Paramedics on their apparatus, and if so, do you carry the ALS gear to go with it???  I'd love to here from you all!! 

Thanks for your time! 

Tim Irwin, Captain (AKA Capt. Hollywood) 
tim_irwin@hotmail.com
Dist FMO 
Mayer Fire District, AZ

07/10 Take a break from fire fighting and enjoy a little history that proves the  fight against the front office has been with us a long time by visiting the  USFS Retiree's Website(http://www.fsx.org/), and enjoy Ranger Selmo Lewis's observations. Selmo was a long time District Ranger on the Angeles N.F., and  also a gifted writer. Ranger Lewis was not the least bashful about sharing  his observations of the human condition, in and out of the USFS, with his  Forest Supervisor. 

Selmo was regarded, using the old terminology, as the finest Camp Boss and  Service Chief in the system. Strangers could find in camp by looking for the  man always with a bunch of grapes in his hand. 

John Marker, USFS(retired) 
Wildland Firefighter magazine

07/10 Hi I am trying to obtain pictures of drastic scenes resulting of forest fires or just fires in general. My name is Terry Hawkins and I am  working on a project with Texas Forest Service.  Our mission is to inform people all over Texas about the dangers as well as prevention methods  of wildfires.  We would like to find and use pictures for displays and brochures with statistics and other  information about fires.  If you can help us to find some of these pictures please call me or e-mail me.  Thank you. 

Sincerely 

Terry Hawkins 

Terry Hawkins 
Cutting Edge Comm. for 
Texas Forest Service 
4002 Broadway 
San Antonio, Texas 78209 
(210) 804-0125 

07/06 Well, things seem to be really cranking up!  I see by the NIFC reports that the west is burning. 

Well, here in NJ things are getting wicked as well.  Today was a class IV day (very high danger), and all agricultural burn permits were suspended. 
Good thing, yesterday we had a farmer in my section burning, and it almost got away from him.  We also instituted engine patrols to maintain a high 
state of readiness. 

There is no rain in sight and with the prolonged drought, it seems like we're gonna have a summer fire season.  Today we had temp of 102 degrees, RH 
36, and winds gusting to 25.  I think the KDBI was ~350, which is pretty high for us in July.  There is a cold front moving through tonight, but it seems 
that even that won't bring much if any rain. 

This is the worst start to July I've seen in years.  It sure doesn't look like we'll be released for out of state this year. 

Dr Moleskin

07/05   Hello, Great website.  Just wanted to say hi and share a few thoughts. 
   Looks like the first decent fire season in the West since 96.  Some other 
old farts might remember 4th of July weekend in 85.  The wheeler and Gorda 
rat fire. 
     I heard something about a shelter deployment on that big fire in Utah.
Anybody know anything about that? 
   Seems like some North Zone R-5 forests have been dragging their feet on 
recruitment and training of front-line overhead these last few years.  Many 
older crew boss types are nearing retirement or no longer have much interest
in off forest road trips.  This was apparent in 96.  There was little 
aggressive effort to fill in behind as openings appeared.  I sure hope things 
have changed. There seems to be a healthy pool of young talent out there 
working in fire.  Is the new JAC program addressing this? The old one was was 
so badly flawed that it bordered on crimnal. 
     Anyway, Keep one foot in the burn. 
  ~Roscoe~
07/01 Just wanted to say hello from nova scotia department of natural resourses 
helitack crew.I will be sending you some photos of our fires and gear.If you 
have some interesting stuff email it to me 
john
07/01 two comments/questions 

After reading the Arkansas tractor-plow fatality (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/face9830.phpl) report, I found it difficult to understand  why a fire agency dozer operator was equipped only with a portable radio in this high noise environment, with no advanced hearing or  transmitting technology incorporated into their communications equipment package.  This was one of the factors that led to this fatality  (although probably a minor one). Even when I began in the dozer business 10 years ago we had the sound from our radio piped into  the ear muffs of our hearing protection. Even with this we had to idle down when we wanted to transmit if we wanted someone to  understand us, at least we could hear incoming traffic clearly.  About 5 years ago we upgraded to an improved system that  incorporates a noise reducing boom mic that allows us to transmit while operating at full throttle with the transmission coming in loud  and clear on the other end. This is not rocket science, the technology has been here quite a while.  It is not terribly expensive and even  if it was, its the operator safety that is at stake. 

The second question regards fire shelters for dozer operators.  While my agency has water and a sprinkler system incorporated into  our fire units (something that is unique in itself, as I have seen no other agency with it) we also carry fire shelters on our dozers (with  the yellow cover off and the plastic opened).  As in the Arkansas fatality I know of another fatality and one near miss where the  shelters were not utilized. Why? I believe that it is because when we are working on an very active fire and it turns on us or jumps the  line we do not have any time to deploy, even if we deploy in the cab of the dozer (which is cumbersome in itself)  The best thing in my  mind in this situation would be to deploy in the furrow behind us with the dozer between us and the fire. But in most circumstances, especially when you are not bringing the black with you (burning out), there just simply is not time. While deploying in the cab has its  drawbacks (you are higher off the ground and more in the heat and flame) an alternative would be to have a shelter that drops down  from the canopy with one simple pull to release it.  The technology is here now for a fire shelter type material that has withstood 5  minutes of direct flame contact at 2000 degrees. While it is very expensive at this time, with a push or support of all the fire agencies  and the amount of shelters that would be needed the price should come down to a reasonable level. Rough plans have already been drawn up by some folks in my agency and we have a pattern for a prototype but since we are only doing this on a very small level we  are lacking any funds and time to push on this issue.  Would love to see the agencies or compacts that utilize a large amount of dozers  or tractor-plows join together to on this issue. 

Your thoughts??

 
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