SUBJECT    (Previous Archive: Jul-Aug99) Return to Archives Page
10/31 Hey all! Its been a while since I have added my 2-cents worth. As one of the folks from the east I  am taking all the comments about the conditioning and experience with a grain of salt. Yes there is some truth to it! In 94 it took 2 days to get used to the higher altitude. Since here in South Jersey with a elevation of maybe 300 ft above sea level, the air density might be a little different. At 36 I can still bark with the young dogs. It all boils down to physical conditioning. If you live in the highest moutains and are out of shape how are you going to survive in a firefighting environment? Next, I would like to agree with the comments about crews not having enough experience in western fires. TO A CERTAIN DEGREE!  Many brother and sister firefighters have been going out west for years. The problem lies in the fact that these people are now advancing to higher positions.I have had 2  14 day tours out west . Does that make me an experienced wildland  firefighter? Maybe not in terrain or other aspects of the west. I have been fighting wild land fires for 15 years in the east with some fires becoming just as dangerous in there own respect. We firefighters in the east do need the opportunities to gain experience in the west. The only way is to go there! In 94 we worked along side a hotshot crew from Oregon and was able not only to keep up but successfully complete our objectives! From the many comments from people here on this web page it seems that there is a lot of inexperience with your own ranks in the west with retirement and people leaving the fire service. When you folks started out is there any diffence than when we started out? NO!
BC Davis
10/30 Here's the main site to the Big Bar Complex:  http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/shastatrinity/fire/big_bar_complex/big_bar_complex_index.php  Ab.
10/30 To MOC 4546 concerning CDF crews being rotated out. CDF received a
Hazard Assessment and Sampling Plan from the USFS. This plan identified
ambient air quality issues within the Big Bar complex. It also included
daily readings obtained from air quality monitors located within the
surrounding fire areas. This same type of prolonged exposure to
firefighters last occurred in 1987 during the Klamath and Happy Camp
fires. Many CDF and USFS firefighters suffered sever respiratory
infections, pneumonia, and heath problems lasting many months after the
fires. After reviewing the hazard assessment and visiting the fire
area,the Deputy Director made the decision to rotate the CDF employees
on a 24 in / 48 hours out plan. After a 24 on the line the personnel
would be rotated to a clear area for 48 hours and then back for their
24. The Deputy Director advised the USFS of his intentions and indicated
that it would be invisible to them. ie CDF would provide all logistical
support required to make a smooth/invisible transition. It was important
to CDF to make this a non-disruptive as possible yet take care of its
employees health.  USFS decided they were not interested in this
rotational plan and made arrangements to have CDF personnel replaced.
CDF also advised them we would continue to provide any and all resources
they needed. However they would be assigned on a rotational basis. USFS
several weeks ago discussed health hazards to its firefighters. They
looked into providing O2 tents for rehab of its personnel. However they
felt the expense was excessive. Thank you for your time. RC
10/30 Hello all! Its been quite a long time since I've written;
life has been very busy working back to back to back 21's. I
too just made it home from the Big Bar. And I still have no
idea why I was there. I made it a little late in the game,
but what was the deal on this fire? For 2 1/2 weeks we did
nothing productive. Our crew sucked in so much smoke we had
to fill out exposure forms. I have never seen such low
morale levels in my life. It seemed like no one (management)
knew what was going on. The right hand had no clue what the
left hand was doing.
    Another thing that bothered me about this fire was
safety. For those who were there, we worked in divisions
CC,CB near DP44 & DP30 areas during the night shift. I have
never seen so many vehicle accidents (I saw 5). The cause?
Asleep at the wheel. The first week, we averaged 2 to 3 hrs
of sleep. No one saw a problem with this untill we threatend
to pull our units off the fire for lack of sleep. I myself
almost fell asleep at the wheel; which I thank God nothing
bad happened. Not to mention my crew and I joked around one
night about the 10-18's. The first night we made it to the
line; we counted 7 watchout situations right in the spot we
were working. I think I heard somewhere if you count 3 (or
maybe its 4) you are in a very high probability being
injured. We had over 10 crews working in this area.
    When we arrived in camp the first FIVE crews we talked
with to get some inside info and opinions literally all said
two words. Cluster F-. I don't mind dealing with the smoke,
living conditions, etc. I think that's WHY I do this. But
I've never left a fire feeling so confused. What happened?
10/30 MOC4546

The horse you talked to didn't tell you the truth. Big Bar and the Trinity
Alps are FS  AND CDF country.  CDF has a 4 crew camp above  Trinity Lake
and  4 or 5 engine stations up there.  The word from CDF' s Chief Deputy
Director on 24 in 48 out had nothing to do with terrain or how the fire was
acting. It was the air quality/ smoke. In '87 they had air quality devices
taken to the fire that showed how bad it was.  This time the quality
sampling was done by FS and showed it was as bad or worse.  Sounds to me
like a good decision re: safety and long term effects on permenent staff.
To bad every one wasn't as careful or apparently concerned.


10/29 Thanks to Pathfinder for a mighty fine pic of a sturgeon on the Rec page!  Ab.
10/29 I have never heard of a dispatch center telling fire crews after they
arrive at an incident that they are not to take action.  I don't think
that we are getting the entire story about this incident.  I agree with
the statement that the blasting crews may have prevented them from
taking action if there were still live blasting caps or other explosives
in the area, that would make sense.  As we all know there is nothing
worth risking your life over.  I believe that dispatchers across the
country would take offense at the statement from Benefield.  We do
provide a lot of information and resources for you, we do take care of
you, and we do try to look out for the best interest of the fire
fighters on the ground.  I know from being on the ground myself, having
a good dispatcher look out for you can mean a lot.  There are a lot of
us who have been on the ground and know what is needed and when you are
going to need it the most.

I have also worked with some great firefighters from the east, and yes
some have boots with out lug soles, but we all do it because we love
what we do.

I participated in the Seige of '87 in California, it sucked, the smoke
the steep terrain, the drug plantations....We all survived it, and we
all still talk about it.   I think we should thank the ones who had to
endure it this year, and wish all that are still there "God Speed" in
getting home to their families safe and sound, and hopefully healthy.


10/28      Hi Ab,  just got back from the Big Bar Complex, saw all the new posts and just had to say something. First, If I am a captain on an engine, I
     roll up on anything, be it a fire, accident, public assist, I will stop and act, regardless of the jurisdiction, that is what is expected of me by the
     public, whom I serve. If someone wants to get in my face, fine, I will know I did my job, I can take abuse, I just wont take it personally.  Second,
     the east coast vs. west coast debate.  While the east coast can field some fine troops ( I myself worked in NH for the FS for 2 years) they lack
     the experience and sometimes the lungs for our terrain. Example,  as a strike team leader in Oregon, I had 2 FS type II crews from Oklahoma,
     though they were a great bunch, they just couldnt handle the elevation and the higher I got them up the hill, the quicker they were dropping.
     Another aspect was the crewbosses, they had good management skills and met all the quals, they still had too little experience to be thrown
     into more than moderate fire conditions. As an R5 firefighter for 15 years, you cant tell me that with 1, maybe 2 trips out west every year, these
     folks are going to gain the kind of experience to deal effectively with our fire conditions, I wont buy it. Though I love my eastern, southern (
     yes I sweated my buns off in Florida, but I did what you do there too, I turned on the AC in my truck!) and midwestern bro's and sisters, We
     are different and the only way to find out is to come out here for a few summers, work on a shot crew, engine or rotor wing, and just compare. 
     By the way I have been to fires in Maine, NH, NY, FL, WI and every state west of the divide on fires. How about getting us out on some
     eastern fires so these westerners can know what black flies, chiggers and fire swatters are all about??  We are all in this together, just remember
     that.  Sting
10/28 re: Derek letter.

I suspect not all the facts are on the table here.  He said a blasting
crew accidently started the fire.  Was there a possibility of some live
explosive remaining?  Was the area secure from now unstable trees or

At military firing ranges across the country fires frequently start. 
Almost all of them have a 'no ground attack' policy.  The best nomex
won't stop shrapnel from an anti-personnel weapon.  Derek may have
encountered a similar situation. 

The common saying among all fire agencies is there is not bush or tree
worth someone's life.  If Derek's crew was prevented from direct action
on the fire I wonder if Derek was briefed on the whole situation.  I
have a strong disbelief it was a turf battle. 


10/28 AB,
    Here's what I found out. CDF told the Forest Service that they would
send resources to the Big Bar incident, but only if the crews were put
on a 24 hr on, and 48 hour off shift schedule. A lot of it came down to
how nasty that country is during the day or the night and what was being
done on the fire. That is what I heard from the horse's mouth. Although
after last night's rains, it may be a moot point.


10/28 I've heard a few question whether or not an IHC crew would actually say "Don't send us back to Big Bar". Well, it is true, a friend of mine
on an IHC crew just returned home for R&R after their second trip to the Big Bar. The superintendent stated that if, after their R&R, they
were offered an assignment to Big Bar he would most definitely (his words are unprintable) turn the assignment down. 

To tell you the truth, I'm damn glad I'm not there. After sucking all that smoke for days on end and now with the rain, there will most
definitely be some very sick firefighters.............firegirl

10/28 I agree that you are a product of your enviroment, but if you are in good 
physical condition then it won't take long to adjust to the changes in a 
different environment.  The point I'd like to make about the Eastern crews is 
that if you can cut line in the rocks, Mountain Laurel, Grape Vines and 
anything else you can think of in  Pa, Md, etc. than you can cut line almost 
anywhere else.  There's alot of us here in the East that are itching to come 
10/28 Wow! To stereotype all eastern crews on a single event 22 years ago is
unreal.  To follow up by recommending to western managers to "think twice"
before filling resource requests with eastern crews is even ridiculous.  We
in the Southeast could typify many western crews by observations in Florida
a couple years ago, but after a few days of adjustment to the oppressive
humidity and wet, swampy terrain...it's all good for everyone.

I hope all the eastern crews that sat fire-ready at home this year were not
victims of regional prejudices.

That's my .02

P. Look

10/28 Ab;

Some interesting information just came my way about the Big Bar Complex.
It was just like the Klamath and Happy Camp in '87 with the same bad (could
it be said almost deadly?) smoke concentrations for Firefighters.
Apparently this information was contained in the USFS Hazard Assessment and
Sampling Plan.  One set of samples came out like this for 21 October;  0800
hrs. 450 ppm, 1200 hrs.  439 ppm, 1600 hrs. 610 ppm,  2000 hrs. 996  ppm,
2400  hrs. 852 ppm, 0400 hrs. 822  ppm, 0700 hrs. 702ppm.   What does this
mean?  According to the source the standard air quality index classifies
Hazardous at 429 ppm. and "....potential health effects are serious risk of
respiratory symptoms and aggravation in sensitive people; respiratory
effects likely in others." it further states "The health protective action
list, everyone should avoid any outdoor activity and remain indoors or

Apparently the USFS discussed the health hazard to fire fighters several
weeks ago and looked into providing oxygen tents.  It was felt the expense
was excessive.

A quote from the original info source continues In '87  ".....many
employees suffered severe respiratory infections, pneumonia, and other
health problems lasting many months after the fires."

Brothers and sisters, when you finally get home, take it easy and regain
your strength, take your vitamins, eat nutritious foods, and go to the
doctor at the first sign of respiratory problems. I didn't in '87 but did
when I started coughing up blood and my sides hurt so bad I thought I'd
broken some ribs.


10/28 Has anyone else read the Aerial Delivered Firefighter Study (ADFF Study) ? I find it just a little disturbing. A 2 to 1 cost advantage of jumpers over
helitack. I can not help but wonder if there are serious flaws to the study. I realize that jumpers have cheaper transportation and generally can deliver
more jumpers per fire, but more often than not how do they get picked up? What about the work helicopters do upon arrival to fires. ie: bucket work,
cargo transport, or transport of local personnel to the fire. I really have a hard time reasoning how the addition of one airplane and 30 jumpers would
have a 2 to 1 cost advantage over 3 helicopters and 30 rappelers. I hope someone can explain this. Maybe I'm just an old rotorhead worried about my
10/27 OK, all discussion is off, why you ask?...because it's raining.  1.4 inches
at my NFDRS station in 8 hours and still going.  Katybar the door folks,
and turn out the lights....the fat lady be singing.  It may indeed dry out
this week, but not enough to start things up again.  Good news for the Big
Bar effort.  Looks like the rain line is about Bay Area and north. 


Yessss. . . Ab!

10/27 Uh-oh, Ab---I'm sure you've hit a nerve with many eastern-types, although you
did say "at the risk of offending some folks..."  I think it's not offense
has come across, but misunderstanding of eastern fire situations.  Every
wildfire I've been on this year in the east has been in extremely steep
country.  In fact, on most of these fires as we were breathlessly making our
way uphill we were heard more than once to say "and they say we don't have
slopes in the east.  What the &$%*#@ is this??"  You may have us on the
elevation, but we've got steeper slopes and hillier country than you might
imagine.  Awfully big assumption too to say, "most of them had never even seen
mountains like those on the Klamath which loomed 7,000+ feet above us", or to
base all of your knowledge of eastern resources on one crew.  The folks I've
met and worked with in the east are conditioned to the humidity here, in
addition to the rugged terrain, and perform at or near the same levels I've
seen on several Type II crews out west.  Plus, large numbers have been sent
west on many details before, many come from western fire backgrounds to begin
with, and certainly more than a few of us have seen mountains over 10,000

I'm surprised after all the talk on this site about "interagency cooperation"
and how firefighters need to get actually sent to fires to get experience that
you would make such comments about easterners.  In fact, I'm sure folks in
Florida both this year and in 1998 got a kick out of seeing "well-conditioned"
western firefighters sweat and groan in what was, for them, low humidity.

I will give you that we may not see as much fire, but we are not out here
training and conditioning and maintaining our equipment, caches, training
programs, and so on so that we can sit here and watch when the country has a
nasty fire season.  1994 saw many eastern crews head west, but for some reason
we didn't seem to see this in 99 (probably because we were too busy with our
own fires).  I think it's a shame that we have so much time, talent, and
experience waiting around, and people who may hold the same assumptions as
yourself nervous about ordering eastern crews.  I'm not speaking for the whole
east coast, and I can't vouch for every eastern crew or overhead person or
anything, but when everyone in your side of the country is dead tired and worn
out from a busy fire season is it safe to keep relying on those same tired
resources?  Or maybe it wouldn't hurt to look at another area of the country
where firefighters are chomping at the bit to get some experience, to see some
fire, to fill task books, and to see exactly how different your steep slopes
are from ours, cuz I bet they're just as wretched.

I'm not trying to sound argumentative, but with so much emphasis on how
wildland fire should be an interagency effort, it seems like that's what it
ought to be.  I was just very surprised to hear such divisive comments after
all the talk on this site seems focused on getting away from that name-calling
and we're-better-than-you stuff.  Thanks for the board, though... lots of us
out here in the southeast check it regularly--since we've got so much free
time!  : ) 


Ouch!  Thanks firechick, for your well written, friendly, and slightly pointed message regarding my post this morning.

Let me clear a few things up.  First, I refute the inference that Abercrombie promotes or said anything encouraging divisive, interagency comments.  Although I neglected to mention it in my early morning post, the Hog fire was a USFS fire and the Southeast crew I refered to was a USFS Type II crew.  No inter-agency bickering or divisiveness going on here, the crew I observed just wasn't prepared.

I also appreciate your reference to "steep" slopes and "hilly" country from the fires you've been on this year!  I think all wildland firefighters can appreciate the reference to "difficult terrain" when they see it in a SIT Report, and even first year firefighters know that escaped fires mainly rely on either slope and/or wind.  My point on this subject was that some hills are much higher than others and can take a lot longer to climb.

Finally, I appreciate your helping me out on my main point wherein your message you state that the folks in Florida watched the "western firefighters sweat and groan" the last two years due to the humidity.  I'll go down now and cut & paste a statement from my post this morning, here it is, "you gott'a remember you're a product of your environment".  With this statement I was addressing the issue of a prior message here on the board where the author wondered why NICC doesn't sent more requests to aquire additionial Eastern resources.  Although my focus in this statement was on East coming to West and the possible difficulties awaiting them, I'm  informed and in this same "They Said" space I have relayed stories of the differnces and difficulties of Western crews/engines deploying in the East.

10/27 I found the Derek letter rather interesting.
Obviously a situation whereby the initial attack resources should have employed a little more situational awareness and a little less "incident command by dispatch console"  (that's ICBDC for those who need another acronym).
The moral of the story is- stabilize the situation when it is easiest and safest to do so, then
you can play the political games.  This requires another acronym to be employed-OG (Operational Gonads).  OG requires experience and a strong sense of situational awareness,that can withstand both external and internal scrutiny.  If our initial attack IC's fail to command, based upon their first-hand xposure to the incident, then dispatchers will continue to do so by braille.  This is not to say that dispatchers are evil people, many are outstanding at ICBDC.
But that should not excuse us from our responsibilities to promote reason and sound fire suppression tactics.
Mike Benefield

The way I read Derek's letter is that there were USFS personnel "on-scene" preventing them from taking action.  When Derek said they, "would not let us take action", I can only wonder how far the crew would go to enforce their statement, perhaps there was a grader or dozer parked across the road.  A younger, inexperienced Captain might not have the chutzpah to tell a grizzled roadcrew gang with a truck load of dynamite to get out of the way.  If the events happened as Derek saw it, I suspect, and hope the impeding crew are still picking tar & feathers off their arses!  Ab

10/27 Greetings AB..........
I continue to enjoy this page.
However there have been disturbing topics. To be specific the one from Derek 
concerning the ODF and FS situation.....I was under the impression that we 
all have graduated to interagency cooperation and mutual aid agreements, 
this is disturbing , not only in the fact that someone failed in initial 
attack, failed to do just whats right , failed to do something no matter 
whos juristiction. Whats up here?
Have we not graduated from the old thinking of its MINE dont touch it.
Although Derek didnt say WHO told them not to take action I still have a 
difficult time believing........
Another is the topic of the Shasta T fires and resource orders....
Yes there are orders outstanding, for multiples of everything.....
when was the last time you remember this magnitude of ordering to North Zone 
in October?????  Not in my career, South yes but north.....no.  I have crew 
persons who have taken layoff at the end of the last Pay period saying "Whew 
this has been long enough, I need to go on with life" and they have 600+ hrs 
OT from a northeast cali engine crew!!!!!!Im in use or loose time now myself 
and we have 1000's of acres slated for the fall burn season (if it arrives). 
Burnout is a factor!!!! I urge the overhead and NORTH OPS to go the NICC and 
get em from east if they are available!!!!
This may be their chance to come west! Who is left that hasnt had a fill for 
the 99 season????? And yes some ranger units have said no to sending 
resources to the Shasta, either on reassignment or initial orders, why? 
Your guess is a good as mine except for the desire to go on and get the back 
log of work done , rain and weather permitting.
I agree that we all need to do our share and I have with filling 7 OH 
positions and 5 off forest assignments with my engine this year. Now I have 
to take time off to get myself and my home in shape....Winter is coming and 
it will suprise us all if we dont get it together.
I send my gratitude to all that have sacrificed thier personal lives and 
time to support the efforts the year, believe me it had been a unique season 
here in north zone, one we will chalk up right there with 87 and all of the 
others before.
Above all.... remember our brothers and sisters who have given the ultimate 
sacrifice, they are the heart and soul of us.... Do not forget that anyting 
can happen, at any time...... Be safe all of you, my brothers and sisters in 
fire suppression where ever you may be.....

R5 Fire Capt

Thanks for your open and honest letter Cap'n!  Yer right about the shortage of resources and the burned-out look I've seen in quite a few firefighters lately.  On my forest, most of the non-suppression personnel have been pulled or withdrawn from the ranks of availability.  There's a huge backlog of work waiting for these folks and on that note, I'd like to personally congradulate them for all their efforts this year.  Without the myriad effects of their support, a fire camp could be a very ugly place.  Lot's of of hungry, tired, dirty firefighters facing lack of equipment and pay problems (I know, this scenario may seem typical, but it could be much, much worse).

Regarding your and Firehorse's comments on handcrews to the Big Bar Complex, I can believe there are IHC crews who would rather fight fire elsewhere.  But, I find it difficult at best, to believe any IHC Superintendant would be overheard saying they didn't want to go.

Also, the idea of requesting handcrew resources from the east may pose additional problems.  At the risk of offending some folks, and I don't mean any disrespect, I recall taking a bus ride from fire camp to a drop point with a crew from the extreme southeast during the Hogg fire of 1978.  As I was noticing their footware, which consisted of older, wornout, non-supportive brands, I also watched their faces as they saw, for the first time, the terrain we would soon be ascending.  Most of them had never even seen mountains like those on the Klamath which loomed 7,000+ feet above us, let alone spend the day hiking up them.  Their jaws were literally dropping in amazement as they were given a last minute briefing prior to departing the drop point.  Within the first hour of the hike their crew was beginning to slow, after the second hour they were lagging behind, by lunch they were a memory, punctuated with occasional radio requestes for volunteered moleskin deliveries.  While they all appeared to be tough looking and in good shape, you gott'a remember you're a product of your environment.  Topography, altitude, and weather, in addition to daily conditioning combine to prepare resources to complete their objectives.  I'm sure this crew performed admirably on their home unit, but it ain't the same in the Northwest as the Southeast.  The point is. . . there just aren't enough of the proper resources to meet the needs and ya can't just go grab a crew and throw 'em on the line without evaluating their abilities.  Now you probably knew all this already, but I think it bears rememberance.

Word of moderate to heavy rains in the far north of R5 yesterday with some spreading to the lower north today, although longer range is for more above normal temps without precip.  Ab sez, "let the rains begin!"

10/27 AB - Looks like fire season is finally over here in SW Oregon.  Rained fairly good last night and today.  More rain predicted for tomorrow.  Most of the
ODF folks will probably be laid off by the end of this week.
Talked with one of our FMO's that recently returned from the Kirk Complex (DIVS with NW IMT).  He said some of the IHC crews (Did not say which
ones) on the North Kirk were asking not to be sent to the Big Bar complex.   Kinda ties into what MOC4546 was saying earlier?  Rumor up here in SW
Oregon is the La Nina is going to make for a dry Fall/Winter in South Zone.  What is the word from Southern Cal?   Was last there in '93 for the
Firestorm (Not to be confused with the sorry movie of the same name!  Made me embarrassed to be an ex-jumper.)

Currently, initial attack activity in So-Cal is light. . .although Santa Ana season looms.  Ab

10/27 I think your web site is great. I love firefighting, I am currently a
Volunteer firefighter/EMT-B in Sullivan County Pennsylvania. I have
never seen the kind of fires that are pictured on your site, but I have
seen some wild stuff. We believe that we should attack the fire, when on
scene. Its better not to wait for the air tankers from the PA, DCNR (
Department of Conservation, and Natural Recourses). The largest fire we
have ever seen was a 500 acre forest fire, that burned 5 days before it
was finally realized that it might be a serious problem. Our area is
very rural, and heavily wooded. We rely on a single Fire Lookout tower
for our 450sq mile area. I noticed that your page did not include a
tower. So I am sending you a pic. It is located on the SGL 13, in
Ricketts Glen State Park. This is one of eleven area towers, that are
still active. We also drive around the mountain tops with glasses,
looking for spot fires, and spotting smokes. The only wildland
firefighting equip. is about 6 Indian Packs, three fire rakes, and a few
fire swatters. I tried to send a view off the cab, but the panorama did
not load. Well, there is tones coming off the receiver, so I better go!
Thanks for reading my letter, and I hope my pic is helpful.

Enjoyed your letter C.M., but the pic didn't arrive with it.  Please send again.  Ab.

10/27 Sonoma County sent a strike team (planned need) out about 2:00 am 
Sunday 10/24/99.  The report from 
up North is that the team is supporting 
a firing out operation, location is unknown.  Have no idea how long they
will be up there.  (Keep up the good 
Local agency vol. eng.
10/26 I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction.  I am
currently a student at Lake Superior State University finishing my
bachlors in fire science.  I am doing a study on the monitary value of
prescibed fires  vs. wildland fires. If youhave any info please e-mail

Thank You, 
Kevin Cote'

10/26 On  Saturday October 16  a volunteer fire fighter (Karen J. Savage) was
fatally injured in the suppression efforts of the Jones Fire in Northern
She left behind two small girls  Anna (10) and Emme (6).
Donations are being accepted at :

                        North Valley Bank
                        p.o.box 1150
                        Weaverville, Ca. 96093

Lets remember that anything can happen, heads up brothers and sisters.
I don't want to go to another funeral!

10/25 I just heard a bizarre report from my fellows in CDF, that fire camps
and agencies are withholding resources from going to the Big Bar Fire in
California (Region 5). It was told to me that resourse requests for the
Big Bar Incedent (which has been going since August 23) are severely
backlogged in being filled. A large reason is that other fires are able
to release more engines and crews, but have told them you can stay here
and mop up until its finished or you can go to Big Bar. Crews and
engines are being held for less important reasons it is said because of
how nasty the terrain is and other reasons. I hope this is not true,
because we are now in the season where crews are beginning to be laid
off. If you need engines and crew for this fire start pushing harder, or
start calling the smaller agencies who are starting to lay off people.


Some parts of your comments sound a bit dubious, but other parts I know are true.  There are many outstanding requests for resources for the Big Bar Complex.  I also saw Saturday that two R5 Hotshot crews had been disbanded for the season, one being the Lassen, but I forget the other.  I'm not sure how this happened when I'm aware of another R5 Hotshot crew returning home for two days r&r, then going back to the Complex for another 21.  However, one reason could be that gov't agencies and private agencies alike are finding it difficult to field complete modules due to a shortage of qualified crewmembers.  A large percent of them have returned to college.  I can't comment on resources being given a choice of mopping up or being assigned to the Big Bar, sounds kinda silly though.  Ab

10/25 I'm looking for a web site or info on how to order s-series level training 
books for home study prior to taking the class.  I work for a professional 
fire dept. so I have lots of reading time.  I'm trying to learn all I can 
prior to taking the class.  If anybody can help me and my crew would be most 
grateful.  Ab, keep up the good work on the site.
Doorsmaurer@hotmail.com or Blunders12@aol.com

Thanks Doorsmaurer. .
The following text was copied from 
"For self-paced courses in S-260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 266, I-100, 248, 252, 253, 256, 259, 342, 359, 362, 363 and D-105, contact Cindy Steger, Northeast Area Training at (715) 365 8931"

10/23 In response to Jim Gobel WI-DNR, Boise will as they update courses put them into powerpoint.  I talked to them last week about getting the slides from S-290 into CD-Rom and that may happen when they update the course.  Otherwise it is each of us doing each of the courses ourselves.  I just spent 4 days doing S-190/S-130 converting into Power Point, have other classes somewhat done, but time is money and as a FS employee have little of either.  Best guess is to trade back & forth for courses at this point.

Wes Shook
Training Battalion Chief
Los Padres NF

10/22 You know that old saying: ....no good deed goes unpunished?  Well, a while
agoI put together (with the gracious assistance of some of you out there)
power point programs for all or parts of the S130 & S190 courses. They came
out well enough that now I am tasked to do the same with 290 & 390. Does
anyone you have anything with these courses in ppt that you are willing to
share? Im also wondering, for anyone who is in the loop,  if the fed
government is gonna start putting together their standard courses in
powerpoint or similar formats.
Thanks, and be safe out there 
Jim Gobel
Fire/Forestry Technician
810 Maple St.
Spooner WI
10/21 RE:  Derek
On the forest I work, we rely heavily on cooperating agencies for IA suppression resources.  These agencies include CDF, BLM, and two adjoining forests.  While there have been mutual aid agreements for years, two years ago we went a step further and initiated a policy we termed "automatic aid".  Now, during an initial dispatch in previously agreed upon areas, the responsible agency may directly dispatch anothers resources.  All that is needed logistically is for the individual resources to monitor the different agencies frequencies.  For example, when another agency dispatches one of our engines, the requested engine simply advises our dispatcher of the response as they begin rolling.  We've found this to decrease the getaway time lag compared to  a formal telephone request by as much as 10-15 minutes.  It should be known without saying, but yes, the first unit on scene attacks the fire!

The main hurdle to implementing this policy during opening discussions were a few Battatlion and Division Chiefs who felt they were losing authority for some of their protection areas.  As they now realize, all that's happened is they're getting more resources arriving a lot quicker than they used to.  It took several meetings and a new formal agreement, but now all shared resources have maps delineating exactly where they can be dispatched on each agencies auto aid areas.  In the case of our forest being on a district lightning plan, the cooperating agencies are advised of the situation and that all requests will need to go through our dispatch office.  Works for us.  Bear

10/21 RE:  Derek
I have found over the last decade that it is usually one person near or at
the top that can propagate the type of rediculous "that's our fire, don't
touch it!" kind of attitude.  In most every case, whether I have arrived on
an incident that is ODF protected, FS, or BLM (I work for BLM) action is
taken immediately.  In one ODF area of the state, however, the head guy is
very territorial.  I was once told to take no action on a little 10 x 10
lightning struck fir and wait for a state engine to travel the 2 hours it
would take to get there so they could extinguish it.  Now it was no big
deal.  It certainly was not going anywhere.  But the head guy in this area
is just very hard-headed.  We could have taken care of it in an hour or so
and saved them a headache of a 4 hour round trip.  Everywhere else I have
been it is always the closest resource dispatched and a state engine may be
released from a BLM fire after other resources arrive, but would certainly
never be told to wait until a BLM engine arrived on scene to take action. 
So what I have seen is a lot of good people being forced to follow one
person's misguided leadership.


10/21 To Derek,

I'm curious what unit you were working for where the story you described happened. Having worked in R6 since 1985 before migrating to
R5 this past year, I had the opportunity to work alongside many different agencies -- ODF being a key partner in fire suppression efforts in
my 'old' stomping grounds. We had an excellent interagency program and cooperative efforts were vital to meeting objectives, regardless
of who was supplying the firefighters and equipment (fed, state, private, vfd, etc.).

I have never come across a situation as you have described, and if there were anything I would whine about it would be the 'white trucks'
failing to let us know when and where they suppressed a fire on our turf, and not inviting us to the party on own forest. However, my
experiences are limited mostly to the eastern portion of the state.


10/20 Regarding portal-to-portal pay.  I understand this is a dead issue......but, if  p-p were implemented as straight time only (no H or overtime) then a 21 day assignment would result in 504 hours of pay.  As an alternative scenario, 21 days of 16 hour shifts with Hazard pay every day will yield 528 equivalent hours of pay (do the math).    Question is: When is the last time you had that kind of  21 day assignment? 

Subtract the days of travel, R&R, short (10-14 hour ) shifts, mop-up shifts......and you come no where near the portal to portal  yield.   Feds figure 2086 hours make a year's pay.  As a fire staff officer, if I could offer the troops the equivalent of one-quarter of their annual salary for a single 3 week detail, I 
would not have recruitment problems, I would have to beat them off the bus heading west.
In the meantime, stay safe out there.
Fire Staff Officer
Hiawatha & Ottawa NF's

10/20 I am fairly new to the PC/Internet world and only recently stumbled on your "They Said" page.  Have found some of the commentary very interesting. 
Guess I am out of touch with the apparent FS/CDF controversy that seems to take up a considerable amount of time and space.  The last time I worked
with CDF was on the Specimen fire on the Klamath NF in '94.  All the personnel on my Division were CDF (I was FS) and they were all outstanding
individuals, both overhead and crews.  At that time I first heard of "Portal to Portal" and the motel issue.  We happened to be too far from the nearest
motel so all the CDF folks stayed in camp.  Did not hear a complaint from any of them.  Checked on the "Portal to Portal" issue when I got back to my
home unit.  Our Fire Staff was very familiar with it having been involved in a study for the FS.  According to him, in the long run it would not only save
the government money, it would also cost the firefighter on the line money out of their pocket.  No OT and no hazard!  No, I do not remember all the
details, nor do I bring this up to keep this burr under someones saddle.  Just some food for thought and to let folks know things are not always as
they seem.
I recently read the book "Fire On The Mountain" and found it to be an excellent book.  It confirmed some things I had previously heard from a close
friend familiar with the problems between BLM's Grand Junction District and the Western Slope Coordination Center (Pg 25).  Would highly
recommend this book to anyone currently in the wildland fire business or anyone that thinks they may want to get into the business.  If nothing else it
has taught me the very important need to document, document, document!!!   This leads into the letter from Derek concerning the Thomas Fire and his
concerns about being first on scene and being told it was FS land and to stanby.  Although I do not know all the details, that sort of attitude should
not be tolerated in any wildland fire organization whether it be federal, state, city or private.  In the area I work the FS and Oregon Department of
Forestry work very closely together.  Our dispatch center is staffed by ODF personnel and dispatches for both ODF and FS out of a federal building. 
When I was the AFMO, the first engine onscene for a Forest Service fire was the IC.  Made no difference if it was FS or ODF.  80% of the time in a
mutual aid block, the ODF was first to fires on FS land.  The public does not care if the fire is on ODF protected or FS protected land, nor do they care
who puts the fire out.  All they know is they are paying for a service and they could care less who provides it.  Whether it is a green engine or a white
engine means nothing to the public.  They simply want the fire put out in a safe and cost efficient manner.  If what Derek says is true, some heads
should roll; but I would not hold my breath.  This is the first I have heard of this and would be interested if anyone out there has more details.
Your web page is now "Number One" on my list of favorites and I check "They Said" a couple times each week.  Keep up the good work

Thanks fer yer response Firehorse!  I found the Derek letter pretty disturbing and have bit my tounge several times today awaiting any informed  response from other readers.   I'm still waiting for any authoritive response.  I want to have a hard time believing the events Derek described, but I fear it may have happened.  I agree with your assesment of the public not caring who puts the fire out.  It's certain they don't care who does it, but they pay taxes for someone to do it!  Unfortunately, most of the general public pays little attention until their own house is threatened.

It seems to me, with the obvious increase in fire and fuel danger due to "past fire policies" the budget should be increasing, not disappearing.  What's happening here?  Is the current Congress going to punish the taxpaying public for the mistakes make by a prior Congress?  The old Congress reaped the short term benefits of supporting jobs in the timber industry.  Who's the real loser here now?  I'm sick of hearing and seeing articles such as, "past federal policies of wildland suppression have lead to the accumulation of vast amounts of fuels in our National Forests"!  Who created the directives for the Forest Service managers during those "past years"?  Why don't we have enough resources anymore to protect the public"  Then again, perhaps there's even more unanswered questions than initially apparent.  I refer to the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for the Interior and Related Agencies as they question Mike Dombeck, Chief of the Frest Service, at a hearing earlier this year.  This document resides in the Hot Air page and is available here: Dombeck 3-99.  My forest last year was at about -57% of maximum effective level.  This year, who knows. Ab.

10/20 More new stuff!  Have added a page for links to important archived mesages and/or documents.  For now, the only link is from the main page under Hot Air.  As I was browsing through the site today I noticed there were many documents I considered highly important and would prefer they remain available for quick perusing.  Rather than leave them wasting in the archives of "they said it", I created a new page wherein I will maintain ready access to items I consider crucial to the future of the wildland firegfighter, regardless of when they were written.  As I have time to scruinize the archives of "they said it" I suspect I will be adding more to the page.  See it here:  Hot Air.  Abercrombie
10/20 To Derek,

That is an interesting problem, and not very effective if an agency really
means to "hit e'm hard and keep e'm small".  I would ask your chief
officers if there is a problem with your local agreements in regards to
authority and pay.  I hate to think two engines are sitting with a fire
starting to escape control right in front of them.  The prudent thing, of
course, would have been to attack the fire.  Unless, the value of the area
is not worth anything, then, of course, the prudent thing would have been
to go home and watch football.


10/20 With a couple of days off, I've done some redesigning of the web site.  Main events include overhauling of the photo pages, updates to pcprograms, correcting bad links, and a new Recreation page.  The main photo page now just has links to the other photo pages instead of having to wait for all the misc. photos to load.  There is also another guest page (guest3) with a few new pics.  I apologize, but I lost the information for the first three photos.  If the person who sent them in will advise, I will give credit on the description page.  The Recreation page is a page I thought might generate interest during the off season when there isn't much fire info worth discussing and/or ya just want to brag about something by showing off a pic.  I'm also working on a logo for the site and a design for t-shirts/hats.  Ideas for possible designs are welcome.  Abercrombie
10/20 This summer I worked on an engine crew for the Oregon Department of
Forestry.  It was a great experience for me yet being around fire my
whole life I was dissapointed by the way that all the different agencies
bicker back and forth and try to place the blame of a mistake on another
agency.  The Thomas Fire which broke on July 6th I belive was a prime
example of that.  It was the first large fire in the west this summer.
My engine was the first to arrive on scene.  We found that it had been
started when a Forest Service blasting crew had blasted out a tree and
their equipment malfunctioned and caused the blaze.  When we arrived the
fire was at about a quarter of an acre.  But because we worked for the
state instead of the forest service, and this was on Forest land, they
would not let us touch it until a fed engine showed up.  well the next
engine to show up was another state engine, so it took almost an hour
for a fed engine to show up.  By that time the fire had reached 10 acres
and was un stoppable.  If the Forest service had let us hit the fire
when we arrived it would have been stopped at 1 or 2 acres, instead it
burned of 2000 acres and tied up almost 4000 personal, 7 air tankers, 7
dozers and 7 helicopters.  Aren't we supposed to work as a team not as
seperate agencies.  I thought that is what our Inneragency was all

ODF firefighter type II

An incredible tale Derek!  Anyone from the FS wanna give their side?  Ab.

10/19 A link to Doug Campbell's website, www.dougsfire.com is now on the Programs page.  Doug is the inventor of Campbell's Prediction System.  New on Doug's site is a paper on the Storm King Fire.  Ab
10/19 Updated:  Items to dispose of:  Microsoft Windows 95 ver.A, full version.  Never registered, $20.  Also, have Microsoft Windows 95 ver.B, full version.  First 30$ takes it.  Complete package, never registered, with manual (such as it is).  The difference between the A & B version is basically USB, FAT32, and an updated driver selection.  I'll pay shipping to any of the lower 48 states for either product, other locations are negotiable.  Ab.
10/13 A draft report of the Aerial Delivered Firefighter Study has been
released. The ADFF Study assesses the size, location, and trade-offs of
smokejumper and helitack programs in the West, and also examines
decentralized versus centralized smokejumper base configurations. The
results indicate the aerial program makes a significant contribution to
initial attack fire suppression. The study team analyzed program levels
and trade-offs, and used two $1 million budget increments and decrements
for both helitack and smokejumper programs. Trade-offs were examined
with and without the use of call-when-needed helicopters. Alternatives
are presented in the report, and a management options team will report
their recommendations to Forest Service fire directors in March. The
draft report of the study is online at http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/adff
and comments should be sent to Greg.Greenhoe/r5_angeles@fs.fed.us 
  Kelly Andersson
  USFS Fire & Aviation Management
10/12 Ab,

Just finished reading Fire on the Mountian and I must say that the
author did a great job in digging up the facts and passing them along to
the rest of us. To everyone in the fire world, get the book and read it.
It is well worth the time to look at the facts therein and think about
similar situations that we have all been in. It brought back a few
memories of mine that I had long placed on the back burner. Do yourself
a favor and get the book. It not only is informative but it also pays a
tribute to our brothers and sisters that fell on Storm King Mountain. Be
safe folks and lets learn from tragidies of the past to prevent them
from happening again. We have lost to many good folks already.

I'm convinced, and now that I have some time to read I'll drop by amazon.com and get it coming!  Ab

10/12 What's your outlook on Cali. fires?  My fiancee' is there and I haven't a clue (nor does he) when he might come home!!!!! 
      -The Lost Wife

The two large fire complexes are winding down, resources are rotating out and being replaced on a daily basis, but there is much work remaining.  Warm days, but cool nights have reduced the amount of new large fire activity, but initial attack activity remains fairly active.  North winds forcast for Fri-Sat, anything could happen.  Ab

10/11 This has been the frist time Ive visited your site! Well done!!
I have to say that the only place I've seen such whining about R5, CDF and 
the FEDs is in a fire camp with nothing to offer, food shade or 
Get a grip folks!!! Do any of you remember C-rats in cans? Carry as much
water as you will need for the duration or paper sleeping bags for that 
matter??  Yeah I have enjoyed the bonus of rainbow strike teams with CDF and 
gotten to spend the off time after 36 hr+ shifts in a nice cozy motel, with 
a cold one at hand, its a pleasure and not the norm but we enjoyed it, each
and every time. However, any of us that have been around the block for a day 
or two realize that we have differing agency regulations and pay scales, if 
you dont like the one you're with, see if you can cut it another. I for one 
have enitrely too much time invested in a career to change, so I will enjoy 
my benefits when they come and suck up and tough it out when they are'nt to 
be had.
As for eastern crews sitting at home...... I had the great pleasure of 
working with NFS & NPS crews from the east on the MHRD Complex, they did 
outstanding jobs, were interesting to talk to and dedicated to their jobs. 
By the way when will you all invite me east to fight a fire?? 20+ years and 
I've been only to Texas...........
To those who complain about R5....... If your region, station or area 
does'nt get it then come on to the west. We're always looking for good, 
dedicated, intelligent fire staff. Watch the net..... seasonal jobs are to 
be had and we are also flying DEMO positions on engines starting at the GS-6 
level. Want the experience?? Apply or quit whining.
Yeah there's always room to improve ICS and IMT's, but you folks have got to 
be the ones to do it!!  So get off the stick and get your butts in gear!!
Dispatch whiners.......... do a stint in your local ECC and see if you can
handle multitasking, resource ordering, 911 and all of the other duties that 
these folks take on day to day, I speak from experience as a trainee 
dispatcher in an interagency command center.
AB... thanks for the good work and keep it up!!
R5 Fire Capt.

Thanks for the positive notes Cap'n!  Come back often and help spread the word about this site.  Ab

10/10 HEY AB!
I apologize for anybody thinking I was pointing fingers or callling names, 
but it was my interpretation that this no-name person was very unhappy with 
their job and their current struggles with the R5 Fire Management Officers..
I totally understand about all of the other things that people see in a fire 
situation.  I was just stating my opinion on what I thought of the whole 
damn thing.  I wasn't out to call anybody names or even  point fingers.  I
just wanted this person to quit putting down these folks who have been doing 
all that they  can with the resources and funding that they have.
As for my opinion on the rest of the folks who are out there working  and 
giving it their all year after year, I just wanted to tell you all that you 
are appreciated and recognized by many people out here.  there are many both 
positive and negative opinions on the Forest service as well as other 
agencies and their management, I was only voicing my positive opinion about 
your performances as well as for all that you do and all that you try to do.
My apologies to all who thought I was too opinionated and biased.  I was 
only trying to lend my support to these already stressed out managemnet 

No harm done, and you're right, there are still a lot of dedicated, committed, (and overworked) fire managers trying to make cookies out of dogshit.  Ab

10/10 Thoughts on some of the Email; I'm completely green but, the CDF
bargained for it, if you want it join the union or apply there.  They
have a right to request motels, and the IC has the authority to just say
NO.  After looking at the performance of some this  summer I can only
say the we're reaping the results of SOCIAL promotion, nuf said on that.
Overall a great season so far, lots of  OATS and lots of Fire.. CBork
10/09 Regular readers know that occasionally I aquire computer stuff, try it out, then sell it.  One reader has just saved herself a bunch of money by buying a brand new USB Visioneer Onetouch 5300 scanner for $77.00 with shipping paid.  I've got another package I need to sell.  It's a Diamond Homefree Phoneline Network.  It's basically a network that uses existing phone lines without interupting your phone service.  I tried it out for about two months, it works great, but I really never needed it, I already had a full NIC/HUB network wired throughout the house .  I just wanted to see if it would perform as Diamond MultiMedia advertised, and it did.  For the home computer users who want to share printers, fast modems, cdroms, or files, it works just fine.
Here's a link to more info:  http://www.thedigitaldreamhome.com/mainframe.cfm?products
I have the Phoneline Network Homepac Combo, and an additional HomeFree Network PCI card to sell.  The Combo Pac is currently lowest priced at Pricewatch for $122 with the extra PCI card going for $40.  These prices were obtained from www.pricewatch.com tonight.  I'll drop 20% off the price of these items cause I've installed them, (the combo pac, not the extra pci card) but they remain unregistered and still have the original warrantee.  That puts the price at about $130 for the set, and I'll pay the shipping anywhere in the US.  These item need to go fast, so if your feeling miserly (haven't bumped up your OT in R5 yet) and don't want to meet my suggested price, make me an offer, the worst that can happen is I'll turn it down..  I'd really rather sell all three cards as a unit, so don't ask me to break them up.  If you don't have three computers in your house yet, just wait. . . you will!  Ab
10/09 Roses & Noname, I've enjoyed, and have strong personal feelings about each of your perspectives, but please try to keep your messages impersonal, factual, and hopefully, informative.  I'll speak for myself and the rest of the readers readers here to say that we enjoy hearing each of your opinions without the name-calling.  That's why this site is here!  You can say damn near anything you want, but lay off the personal attacks, else I'll begin using my editorial sword.  Abercrombie
10/09 Regarding the shortage of resources for western fires.
I know that two Missouri state crews have been waiting since August to
be called. In the past the call for Missouri crews was predictable, but
not so this year. I do not know what is different, it may be because we
are also dry. But the impression I get is that someone has decided it is
too expensive to transport crews from the east. Or maybe they think we
do not have adequate experience.
  If a percieved lack of experience is the reason then a serious
miscalculation has been made. Most members of these state crews have
been on hundreds of incidents, including initial attack in several
western states during other years when there was no hesitation to call
us. The number of qualified crew bosses on the crews outnumber the few
that have not been out-of-state before.
  So if there is a need for more resources, do not say there is a
shortage. Find another reason, and if you find out why share it with the
rest of us.

It may be that your managers consider it's too dry to let you go.  There are many crews in R5 that have traveled further than Missouri.  Ab

10/09 I am responding to the person who obviously has a problem with the people 
who are the Fire Management Officers in the R5 for the U.S. Forest Service. 
If you think that these folks are being unfair and you feel you are being 
treated wrong, there are union representatives who you can go cry to.   With 
the amount of work that these guys have been doing this summer, they are 
using their all and yes, they have to always consider the cost of everything 
because they get it from their superiors.  It is not their fault if you are 
not performing to your fullest potential.  It has been my experience with 
these guys that they are always willing to hear what you have to say and any 
griipes you might have too.  All of these guys work hard year around to make
sure that everything is in order for fire season and to make sure their 
employees are receiving the training needed to perform their jobs in a SAFE
manner.  Their main concern is always, SAFETY FIRST.  If this is wrong, then 
maybe you need to re-evaluate yourself and your wanting and need to be a 
firefighter.  If you ask many of these firefighters, they will tell you that 
SAFETY is their number one concern.
Personally, I think you are just whining and you need to go somewhere else 
if you think you are being treated unfairly in any manner or take it up with 
your union representative.
This Fire Season has been a very trying and hectic time for all agencies and 
with limited resources and funds, I feel that all these guys have done the 
best that they can do.  You have to remember, these guys have superiors as 
well.  Sometimes, their decisions are not always their own.  However, they 
do get the chance to voice their own opinions with their bosses to see if 
maybe there might be a better way at doing things or performing their job in 
more safer manner.
I think you need to give these guys a break and To All of YOU FIREFIGHTERS 
who have been out there working your asses off and putting up with the 
political Bureacracy this Fire Season, YOU ARE THE UNSUNG HEROES!!!  Don't 
let little peons like these people rain on your parade.  YOU ALL DESERVE A 
BIG PAT ON THE BACK!!!  Keep on fighting with all that you got in your 
hearts and souls.  Saving lives and Cheating death  is not an easy job.  And
some of us out here  in the REAL world, do recognize all that you guys do.
So to the person who keeps whining about the Fire Management Folks in R5 
USFS, You need to get a grip and stand back and look at the whole picture. 
It is people like you who give all of us a bad name....
10/09  To Roses, I think you missed the point. It wasn't about animosity towards 
R-5 employees. It was about the limp dicks in overhead positions who either 
never were struggling seasonals or have forgotten what it's like.
  That flag waving crap sounds good when spike camps are a distant memory. 
Just don't try and close the door behind you.
10/07 I am just sending my comments after reading some of the comments about R5 
USFS employees.  I just wanted to say, that I have worked on many of the 
fire assignments in small capacity, but my other half is a a firefighter who 
has been on many of these fires this summer.  I have worked with all of the 
agencies such as BLM, CDF, USFS, and BIA and I have seen everybody work 
together as a team to get the main objective accomplished.  I have seen a 
lot of animosity towards the USFS employees from others, but all I have ever 
witnessed is the want and need for everybody to get along.
A fire can bring out many emotions with many types of people, some are good 
and some are not so good, but I do believe we all have the same objectives. 
So, I think we need to quit pointing fingers at who is doing what and start 
looking at what we all did together...  Fatigue can do a lot to a person's 
head too and even the little people suffer from fatigue while in fire camp. 
I saw a lot of fatigue while visiting my other half at the Plumas N.F. fire 
camp and many CDf'ers and USFS and BLM'ers were all gathering together 
getting along and just trying to cool off and rest up.  As for these ppl who 
whine about CDF getting this or USFS getting that, they need to quit their 
whining.  Those guys got there by working their way up the ladders.  Most of 
them all started from the bottom and have had their fair share of sleeping 
on the ground, in tents, in engines and they never whined until they got 
home.  And even then most of them never whined about it.
So, I guess what I am saying is that we all need to look at the positive 
side of a fire situation and quit looking at all of the negatives.  There 
are always negatives to a positive, but fighting fires is a job that most of 
those guys love.  It is in their blood.  They love what they do and they
don't sit around pointing fingers at each other and especially in the R5 
area, we are very active in making sure everybody gets treated fairly.  I 
have had nothing but good experiences working in the R5 region.  So I think 
YOu folks out there who think we are so bad, need to wake up and smell the 
10/07 To the person at NCC...
Thanks for letting us know you're making orders for resources... it's been
a frustrating season in the southeast making it onto lists of crews that
never go anywhere.  I know you mentioned that those running the crews need
to recognize that there is a shortfall of resources... and that those of us
with "book training" need badly to spend some time on some fires.  However,
it doesn't seem to be happening anywhere or at least not often enough.
Hearing from the folks in the Northeast that there is no training offered,
and being in a location that has sent few (if any) crews out the whole
year, I'm not feeling as if myself or others out east gaining a whole lot
of valuable experience that will supposedly be needed as the experience
leaves the field.  And, I'm a person trying to move up in the fire world,
trying to get the experience to someday move into more management-oriented
positions.  I realize that it doesn't do any good to gripe, so I'm
wondering if you have any ideas, or if anyone does, about what can be done
at the lower levels to make some changes.  Who do we talk to?  It is enough
to be a seasonal and to fight to get training when you only work six months
a year, and during high fire danger for most of those months (so they're
afraid to send you).  The seasonal system in itself is troublesome, and I
heard just today that supervisors who hire seasonals for NPS now have to
justify why they are hiring them, rather than NPS having to justify why it
can't hire full-time permanent fire or other otherwise "seasonal" personnel
to improve efficiency, training, consistency, and safety.  Realizing the
system is too big for everyone to sit down and have a talk about it, there
have to be other alternatives.  Those of us at the ground level have lots
of ideas and frustrations, but how do we let the people running the fire
show know what they are?  Just thought some of you all might have some
ideas... I would appreciate them and I'm probably not the only one.  I am
fascinated by this field and I love it, but it's spelling disaster and
danger to let things continue as they are.

To those of you still on the line or headed there soon, my thoughts are
with you and with those we've lost recently.  Take care....

  This is in response to that dispatchers comments regarding shortage of 
qualified personnel.  Where to begin? 
  First off, The best wildland firefighters come from California (F.S., CDF. 
BLM, etc.)  This is not to say there aren't some great people from other 
regions, But by and large California is the hottest place in the world. 
  However, over the years I've seen some great young talent rot on the vine 
and find other careers. 
  This is due to the fact that Forest Service fire management staff in R-5 
doesn't treat temps very well. They simply don't care.  Few training 
opportunities are offered to temps. The standard response is "If we offered 
formal training and details to temps, someone might file a grievance"
      These people have been dragging their feet on training new people to 
fill overhead positions.  They also don't seem to realize that most 
seasonal's priority is to get as much overtime as possible, since many of 
these people have families to feed.
   Management seems more concerned with budgets, retirement funds, and brown 
nosing than they are with the welfare of the people who make up the back bone 
of the organization. 
    If Management isn't willing to exert some leadership and take risks, they 
     get the hell out of the way.  Because there are plenty of people out 
there who still have the balls to put the good of the outfit ahead of feathering their own nest.
     On the matter of supposed resource shortages, Look at the Plumas 
national forest.  As I speak, there are many engines crews chopping at the 
bit on the Plumas.  The fire staff has this inane policy of only releasing 5 
resources from the forest at a time. Right now there are plenty of top flight 
crews confined to their stations for 8 hours a day. (No overtime) While The 
west burns. 
      On the matter of resource shortages, It would be interesting to see how 
many helicopters were committed to heli-mopping controlled fires while some 
good people were dying at south canyon in 94. 
   Anybody want to dispute that?
10/06 Ab;

Took this from the Associated Airtanker Pilots web site;

"Gregory Pacheco, the Penasco 5 Crew member who was criticaly injured by a
falling tire size boulder at approximately 12:00 am October 3, 1999 while
working the La Jolla Fire, Palomar Mountain, CA, passed away at 10:32 am on
October 5, 1999.  Gregory's family was with him when he succumbed to his

Gregory was 20 years old and is survived by a mother, 2 sisters, and a
brother.  He had three years of firefighting experience.  Gregory lived in
a rural community near Picuris Pueblo in New Mexico. 

Donations to the Gregory Pacheco Fund can be sent to;

Carson National Forest
208 Cruz Alta Rd
Taos, New Mexico 87571"

A moment of prayer for our fallen brother.

Be safe and look out Brothers and Sisters

Michael M.

10/05 I can appreciate your problem at NCC trying to fill orders.  Dispatch
sucks. Here is what really happens.  California really needs help, you call
region calls local, local says we dont have any, region tells you sorry.  They
wont tell you that they have 40+ private engines under contract boxed up and
hidden away.  Call us direct next time.  I can put 25 engines on the road
one hr from now if you would just call.

The real problem is this.  Agency down sizing.  suckering us into believing
that you really need us. so we spend lots of money to buy equipment, train
people,adhere to very thick and onesided contract on a take it or leave it
basis.  If there is any work, the low ball bid with the crappy equipment
and untrained crew gets it( so your not impressed) Try the middle bid and
you will get good equipment and properly trained Firefighters. If we could
get more work
we could even lower our price.

94 was the only year that I can call profitable.  There is no excuse to
have not used us in 98. there is no excuse to not have used  us this year.
We are ready willing and able but You dont know we are here becouse we are
boxed in.

So very soon agency resorces are depleted becouse of shrinking budgets and
retirements and the privates are bunkrupt.  Who is going to fight the
Maybe through NAFTA we can hire forgners and export even more money.

As long as I'm not working, your not out of resouces.  (Noname)

10/04 I have news there was a Southwest Indian Firefighter that was hit in the
head by a rock and tomorrow will be taken off life support..

We all need to take a moment and make sure we are all looking out for
each other and be as safe as can be..   Be careful out there!  (Noname)

10/03 I am sitting in the National Coordination Center processing orders to be
filled for California fires, and I have read many letters of
dissapointment from crews and overhead that have not been called out to
I can only say that we ( dispatchers) have been crying for help to all
of the geographical areas and not getting much filled.
For the folks running the teams on the fires, you need to stand up and
recognize that there is a definate shortfall of resources! We have to
start allowing more firefighters to go to fires in a training mode, or
in a few years when all of the old fire dogs finally lie down and
retire, there will be hell to pay! Now is the time we should be thinking
about our future and allow these trainees to come in and get some real
fire experience....

It is hard to fight fires from a book!

D. Spatcher

10/03 I was just going through the training being offered through the
different agencies that list with MATS and came across a very disturbing
fact. There is not a single "S" class scheduled to be offered in the
North Eastern United States. I understand why the emphisis is placed
west of the Mississippi and down along the gulf states but there is a
high interest for training in the North East and Great Lakes region. I
was just wondering if this iss because of budget restrains or someone
with-in the region not doing their job to get the training scheduled? MN
10/03 In regards to "Fire on the Mountain" by John Maclean:  I agree that the writing is well worth the read for firefighters and supervisors alike. I
haven't finished reading the book yet, I'm now well into Part 2. But, from what I've read already, John has done a great job of researching
the 'truth' and the facts, as an outsider looking in. It is apparent that the author did his homework, and made some viable contacts before
publishing the book. This book (so far as I've read) is not a storyline intended to attract Hollywood, however I wouldn't be surprised to see it
hit the big screen.

There is a lot to be said and lot's to be learned from Maclean's book. He has made it a point to highlight the repeated misconceptions in
the days that led up to the burnover; and has included much of the 'dirt' that was stirred in the days prior to the tragedy.

If nothing else, reading the book will answer many questions for some, and I'm sure it will also torment others -- especially those within the
administration over seeing the fire after it's initial report; John obviously isn't too shy to mention names.

I have to wonder what the long term effects have been on some of the folks who were directly and indirectly associated with the burnover.
Personally, I know of two suicides, one was a hotshot in Colorado at the time, another a very close friend of mine who was also a hotshot
in Colorado at the time; and a third individual (who was a survivor of the burnover) who's death was not suicide but it has been questioned
as to their desire to live. Any thoughts from anyone out there? Any other information anyone would like to discuss? (Noname)

10/02 Subject:  Willow Incident, California 8-28-99
I am seeking to reach firemen who were involved with fighting this
fire.  Firemen were there from as far away as Michigan and the states of
Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, etc.  I would appreciate hearing about
their experiences on the line.  My email is blusky00@hotmail.com.  Thank
10/01 Ab, NJ just made two crews available for duty (i'm told) northern cal...

Any chance this may happen?  I know that it is very rare that we are called 
to california for many reasons, (distance being one of them).  However, I'm 
told that a lot of type I crews have lost their seasonal people to college 

Any thoughts?


I think there's a damn good chance, we've (Region 5) already hosted most of the available crews this side of the Mississippi, along with quite a few on the other side, and haven't even entered into the Santa Ana wind season yet.  Ab.

09/30 A good source of information on wildfire effects on wildlife go to:


Navigate the menus down to the particular species of interest and you
will get a short summary of known effects with links to the citations. 
You should be able to obtain the specific technical papers listed from
your university library.

The drawback to this database is it focuses on species specific effects,
not plant and animal communities in whole, and the summaries are often
heavy to techno-jargon.


09/30 Abe 

Just finished John N. Macleans book "Fire On The Mountain", the sad story
of the South Canyon Fire.   I have just reread his dads book  (Norman
Maclean)  "Young Men And Fire"  and the writing is eerie.  This will be the
definitive story of how and why our brothers and sisters died there on
Hells Gate Ridge.  Over and over again during the story I found my self
seeing the vivid memories of other fires and situations I'd been in during
the last 30 years. You will too.  It brought tears to my eyes more than
once as I read the true facts as discovered by an outsider, but it seemed a
brother no less.  Those facts answered many of the questions I'd had since
1994, and unfortunately discribed the same conditions I had imagined as the
reasons for the tragedy.  As Tommy pointed out in his 9-12 E-mail, we're
losing the Firefighters to age and retirement and being overwelmed by
administrators, to busy to walk the line, swing a tool, or sleep in the
dirt.  I feel very lucky to have had the experiences I've had but more
fortunate to have supervisors like my current Division Chief who is a
Firefighter more than anything else.  What happens to those we're training
today, the "newbe's", rookies or what ever your area calls em when the old
Firefighters are gone? 

I digress, but the book brought back many memories and current questions.
I hope Fire On The Mountain becomes required reading for every wildland
fire fighter, AND anyone who might supervise us or support us at any level
all the way to the President. 

Every one, From California to Texas, this seasons not over so be extra
May be one day we'll meet in Glenwood Springs and place our keepsakes on
the markers.  I'll buy. 

Michael Mattia

09/30 Hi!  My name is Tanya Linnell (Jeff is my boyfriend and he set up the
e-mail account w/o thinking of putting my name on there also).  I am
looking for some info that I can get on the web about fire suppression,
rehab, how wildlife is affected, etc... For one of my assignments in my
computer class (I'm going to school for Elem. Ed.), I have to come up with
a subject and a lesson plan.  We also need sites that the students can
visit and find their own info.  Since I live in Nevada and we've had
numerous acres burn, I thought that this would be a good idea.  If you
could point me to some sites, I would greatly appreciate it.  Jeff is a
wildland firefighter, too, but I thought that you would be able to get me
more info.  Maybe, Maybe Not.  But I would greatly appreciate it if you
could try. 



Check the links page which will take you to many more link pages. Ab

09/30 You know, I just can't get over this attitude about "them vs Us" mentality. 
When I first got involved in the world of fire 13 years ago, I had this 
vision of traveling through out the west, fighting big fire, and having a 
great time doing it. I like to believe that I still have that "fire in the 
belly" attitude about running out the door everytime the alarm goes off, 
regardless of what type of fire or where it's at. I have worked for the 
feds, city fire, and now a county fire district. Right at the present time, 
I'm riding the desk as an interim fire chief. Knowing that I have my own 
guys out there in California having fun as I sit here as a carded strike 
team leader pushing paper and running EMS calls, it concerns me that there 
is still this animosity between agencies, especially in R-5.
Here in Northern AZ, we all work together, and quite well if I don't say so. 
We all have a common goal to protect life, property, and natural resources 
(At leat that's what the Fed fire policy said). I have had my guys ride on 
the "green trucks as summer AD's and have had state guys give me a hand on 
auto accidents. I currently have 3 forest service guys in my department 
sponsored regional fire academy. See, we get along just fine here. So, what 
the hell is wrong with you guys over in R-5.
The concerns that I have with my folks over on the Kirk Fire is that they 
will come home with a different attitude (negative) about working with other
crews in an interagency fire assignment.
Who truly gives a sh*t if CDF or NPS or BLM or even FS gets to hang out at 
the lounge after a long day "at the office" and gets to sleep in a comfy bed 
with fluffy pillows. Lets remember why we got in this business to begin 
with, to have fun, make some $ for school, see big fire, travel the west, 
and meet some great people out there. Lets try and keep the politics off the 
fire line, O-TAY?!?!?! 

Be safe, Be nice! Thanks for your time! 

AZ Trailblazer 

From the mail received so far regarding the "us vs. them" discussion, it looks like there are just a few whiners looking across a fence with envious eyes.  I suspect a couple of things about these folks; they will never have the guts to cross the fence, if they did, they wouldn't be any happier, and they would continue to whine.  The overwhelming opinion seems to be there is no problem, quite the opposite in fact.  I wouldn't worry about your crews coming back with anything but a positive attitude and hopefully a high regard for the way suppression activities are conducted and how well folks in all agencies cooperate here in R5.  Ab.

09/30 Here is the link to the Mulit-Agency Training Schedule. http://fire.nifc.nps.gov/mats/matsframe.asp  it contains the course listing for all agency wildland fire training.  The site is maintained by the National Park Service in Boise, Idaho, and training managers from all over submit their information to this site.  Clay Hillin R6 

Thank Clay!

09/28 Regarding the idea that only CDF is authorized motel rooms.  As I 
 understand it, when a federal employee is on a fire they are in a 
perdiem status.  As such, they are authorized a certain amount 
of money per night for lodging expense, the actual amount being 
dictated by the geographic location they are in. 

During the Fountain Fire in NorCal in 1993 (I think), I was a strike 
team leader for 5 green engines.  After pulling several 36-40 hour 
shifts, we returned to the fire camp one night at the Anderson Fairgrounds. 
That night they were hosting stock car races at the fairgrounds. 
Needless to say, there was no sleep to be had at that location.  I 
polled the engine captains to see who wanted to take their crews to a 
motel.  Three of them decided they would and two were afraid that they 
would get into troubl when they got home.  I first tried, with no success, 
to get the motel manager to assign rooms.  While I knew that wouldn't work, 
I thought I would go through the motions.  I then went to a nearby motel 
with the captains and obtained rooms for myself and the three crews.  We 
spent the rest of the assignment staying in the motel, sleeping in clean beds, 
in quiet rooms .  When we returned from the fire we all filed our normal 
perdiem forms with attached motel receipts and nothing was said, nay, 
there were no questions asked. 

This is an option I have continued to use whenever I deem the sleeping 
accomodations unfit for a positive rest period.  (If, of course, there is 
anything locally available).  Interestingly enough, while I make no secret of this 
practice, I am never questioned!  Yes, I am a regular FS employee. 

09/27 I just returned last week from a 21 day stint on the Plumas N.F.  Mt. 
Hough Complex. After reading several of the comments concerning CDF and 
there motels I felt the need to share this. I work for the federal 
goverment in wildland fire suppression for the last 13 years. In that 
time I have experienced both good and bad situations from both fed. and 
state agencies. I believe if you looked hard at the people working for 
CDF you will find a lot of them with past USFS,BLM and NPS background. 
They chose to take a different path than the rest of us. I venture to 
say that most of us would jump at the chance to work for more money and 
better benefits. While assigned to the Mt. Hough Complex I worked with 
several CDF personnel that slept in tents on the ground like the rest of 
the federal folks. I one case a guy from CDF who had been sleeping in a 
motel every night offered me his room in return for my tent. I asked 
him  why the offer? His reply was that we were both firefighters and why 
shouldn't I have a good nights sleep in a clean bed. There is an 
attitude out there between some feds and state employees and it seems 
to  destroy that Interagency fabric that bonds us together. I can only 
say that I treat any other agency personnel as I would want to be 
treated and have never been let down yet. Just my thoughts on the 
09/27 hello, 
i am doing a school project, and i was wondering if
you could tell me how much money the average fire 
fighter makes. thank you for your time. 
09/27 Here is a quote for you from a CDF firefighter to reiterate my point to 
Grey Davis.  "I will be thinking about you when I am sitting in the 
 Embassy Suites sipping a drink raking in the overtime." 
"Where are you going to be." 
"Carmel baby" 
I don't know wether to cry about the waste or be happy for my buddy? 
I guess it depends on what side of the fence you are on.
09/26 Anyone know of the url for the listings of "S" course' on the web?
thought I had it but must have been lost........thanks..Mike
09/24 Ab made a mistake, I ordered a USB scanner by mistake instead of a parallel port for a gift and it will cost more to send it back and pay for the restocking fee than I wanna pay.  The shiping package is unopened, it's a Visioneer One Touch 5300, check out the specs of the scanner here http://www.visioneer.com/products/flatbed/onetouch5300/
Check out the price of it here http://www.pricewatch.com/ .  I'll sell this scanner at 5% below any advertised (rebates excluded) cost and I will pay for the shipping anywhere in the US (UPS ground) before I pay the return shipping and restocking fees to the vendor I purchased it from.  If ya want it just click on the Email icon at the top of this page and let me know.  This is a pretty decent scanner, all pics on this site that I have personally scanned have been from a similar, although older, Visioneer scanner.  Abercrombie.
09/23 RE: Last Post 
All I gotta say is "Ditto". 


09/18 Just a quick comment on the discussions concerning the CDF pay issues. 
The gentlemen was right on when he described the situation the CDF was 
in in the 60's when I started out working for them.  The straw was the 
Contract County takeover in Orange Co. in 1970.  That started the CDF 
union push at collective bargaining which has improved their livelihood 
for themselves and their families.  When 13 of us started the FWFSA in 
1989 it was at the CDF union hall in Sacramento.  Their help was 
essential in getting what is now our foot into the door to Congress.
What many of the folks that write CDF bashing letters here do not know 
is that it was President Kennedy in 1961 that passed the law that does 
not allow Federal Employee's to have the same collective rights that 
many state and private organizations are allowed to do.  It is 
imperative that all of the Federal Fighters realize that your city hall 
is Congress and the way to get your message to Congress is through the 
FWFSA which is an association afflicted with the IAFF and the CPF.  In 
other words you have to pay to play.  We have the potential to be the 
single largest local in the entire IAFF structure.  However at this time 
we are only 189 members strong.  If things like true portal to portal 
pay elimination of the pay cap and hazard pay included in your 
retirement calculations, then instead of complaining about what the 
other guy has, improve your own life by taking the exact same action the 
CDF did starting 28 years ago.  Get it!!!.  The FWFSA web site will soon 
have the results posted on what happen in Washington DC this last week. 
And remember allot of folks say they are members who are not.  For the 
over 150 folks who have pay in over $1800.00 each into the coffers in 
the last ten years my hat is off.  In my opinion these are the 
professional wildland firefighters that everyone is always taking 
about.  For those of us who donate 2 days a month to making this 
operation run as smooth as possible plus fighting fires I would like to 
say that we are all Safety First Baby's who have seen the institution 
from within the organization of the Red Card system, ICS and Type 1 
helicopters.  However the gains we are looking at trying to achieve will
have to come from outside the organization.  Its your choice but 
complaining about what the CDF has gain will not help our situation.  If 
fact their gains can only help our fight.  If portal to portal pay had 
been in placed during the 1996 fire season which had an FFF expenditure 
of $994 million,  we have estimated that only an additional $50 million 
would have had to been authorized by Congress.  That's the exhaust off 
of just a few Scuds missiles sent over eastern Europe last year. 
09/18 Here's a jpg of the last three active fires on the Plumas cropped from an Arcview project.  Ab. 
mthough complex
09/15 Just a note, I've received a few new pics to be posted.  I haven't forgotten them, or a couple of links I've been requested to post, just haven't had the time to do 'em.  Please be patient, it's day 21 of the local siege and time for updates to the pages is limited.  Ab.
09/15 FWFSA reported that on 9/14 our bill was suppossed to be introduced in the 
house, has anybody heard any information on how it went. Senator Pombo of 
California was to follow up with detailed legislation. All eyes are on us 
today per the media and congress on why the retainment and reclassification 
issues have plagued the federal agencies. People get ready!!! Jeffsz00tv... 

Haven't heard anything yet, though I do know Granite Man is back there pushing!  Ab.

09/15 To Whom it may Concern: 

My name is Kris Hamilton and I am a junior At Ohio Northern University.  My 
major is Civil Engineering with an option in Environmental Engineering.  I 
am involved in our schools co-op education program wihch takes your 3rd and 
4th year in school and mixs your schedule between work and school. 
Currently I am working  in my 8th month with BP Chemicals.  I have always 
found forest firefighting highly interesting and as of late I have 
researched a good deal on the internet.  I am highly intersted in a summer 
job involved in this field.  The only problem I foresee myself running into 
is, although I am in excellent physical condition I have diagnosed asthma 
which I take medication for daily.  This fact made me ineligible for ROTC 
and this is also why I feel I will have problems getting into this field.  I 
guess what I am asking is 1) would my physical condition keep me from 
working on a fire crew, and if so, 2)are there other positions in this area 
of work that I would be eligible for.  I am a highly ambitious person and 
also a quick learner.  I would greatly appreciate any information you could 
give me, 

Thank you, 

Kris Hamilton

09/12 July & August comments have been archived with a link at the bottom of this page.  Ab.
09/12        Division? 

         I would like to know who is checking the credentials of the people 
acting as divisions supervisors?  More and more I am finding division supt. 
that seem to have little or no experience in wildland. They're all chiefs of 
some local city fire department. Most can't even read a topo. map and won't 
even leave their car to walk the division they are assigned. I find myself 
constantly explaining to these weekend warriors what needs to be done. 
    I have been in the fire service in southern California for 30 years, 8 
yrs on an engine and 22 yrs ether working on crew or running a crew. I think 
wildland fire fighting is a way of life. It takes years to develop the 
experience to be a safe productive wildland firefighter. Experience is the 
key from where I stand. How some flatlander can come to 2 or 3 fires a year 
and think he is qualified to be a division supt. is beyond me. How many more 
people will we have to kill or hurt before we decide experience is a key
factor in wildland fire fighting. As an experienced qualified wildland 
division supt. I would no more think I could run a high rise or Hasmat or U. 
S. A. R.  division then help with a space shuttle launch. How many more 
Calabasas's Inc. do we need? Sense when did a gold badge make a person an 
expert? Those people who work for CDF and USFS are the people with the 
experience and should be used as div. supts. regardless of their rank. 

Sorry I'm so mad. Be safe and watch your back side 


I think it's a well known fact that some local agencies promote their people beyond their level of compentence.  What has worked for me in the past when I'm unable to make a supervisor see the error of their ideas is to nod my head, smile, say "ok" a few times and then, when they go away, complete the assignment the right, safe way.  Since these types of sups are seldom on the line anyway, at the end of the shift you simply tell them the job is done and why you were unable to do it the way they wanted.  If the sups are totally out of line, try to grab some time with the ops chief and let them know your thoughts on the qualifications of the div sups.  A good ops will send them packing!  Ab.

09/11 Folks, 

       I read the comments about CDF below and felt a need to post a 
message. Like Mike, I come from an interagency background. I have drawn 
pay checks from USFS, BLM and for the last seventeen years, from CDF. I 
think all of us who have worked in an interagency setting know that 
culls come in all colors, red, green or yellow, and in about equal 
proportions. When it comes right down to it, work ethic, experience, 
intelligence, training and physical conditioning are what make a good 
wild land fire fighter, not the color of his ride or the paycheck in his 
pocket. Yeah, we get motel rooms (only when available) because our union 
fought for them. I, like most anybody will take advantage of that 
victory any time I can. On the other hand, I don't start earning 
overtime until I've worked 84 hours in a week. True, I sleep during that 
84 hours, but I sure can't have a cold one and at night a pager lives 
next to my head. 
     I feel really bad for the outstanding professionals in the Forest 
Service who have had to weather that agency's terrible cuts and changes. 
On the other hand, BLM seems to have changed for the better since the 
days when I worked there ("That's a pumper not an engine" and "blue 
jeans are acceptable instead of Nomex"). The bottom line though is that 
all the agencies have always had good folks and not so good folks. 

     On Monday, September 13, our Battalion Chiefs will begin wearing 
white shirts, instead of our old khaki greens. The word on the street 
is, that by July next year, all of our ground pounders will be in blue 
uniforms. This is a hard pill for many of us to swallow, but it appears 
inevitable. I suspect this change will increase the possibility of 
interagency dissension. I sincerely hope not. Please remember that it's 
not the uniform, but whose in it. 

Be safe 

Craig Konklin

Thanks for the response Craig.  BC's in white shirts huh?  Hadn't heard that yet.  I can only wonder at the underlying motivation for such a change.  Perhaps there's a well intentioned, but misguided  attempt by the heirachy to signify separatism from the ranks or maybe a larger, more sinister assimilation process into county fire plot in progress.  I'll watch with interest.

Your other comments addressing one agency vs another also present valid points and read well.  Ab

09/10   Can anyone help me?  I would like to find out what the rules are Concerning
federal engine crews covering CDF stations.  The interagency agreements call 
for 24hour staffing.  However, federal timekeepers are insisting that fed 
personel go off the clock for 8 hours every day.  Consequently, these people 
are ordered to remain at the station and be available while not being paid. 
CDF dosen't have a problem with paying these cover crews 24 hours a day. 
It's the forest service bean counters and fire management staff that are 
requiring 8 hours of volunteer work a day. 
   My question this: What takes precedent?  Fair labor standards act, or opm 
rules requiring a two to one work rest cycle?  If the feds are going to enter 
into these kind of interagency agreements they need to clarify the rules. 
Some f.s. engine crews have been known to rebel against this by leaving the 
station and walking to a nearby bar while off the clock.  On occaision 
they've been punished by their own dispatch by being sent home. 
      This problem isn't going to go away.  Are their any plans to resolve
  Thanks,   ~Roscoe~
09/07 Hello, 

I am a student in a firefighting training course for high school 
students.  I am involved in a cadet program here in Indianapolis, 
Indiana.  I have been given an assignment to research wildland fire 
suppression.  It appears that this is a very broad subject with volumns 
of information posted to the internet.  I was wondering if you could 
help me find some specific information on the subject or at least point 
me in the right direction.  Any assistance you can provide would be 
greatly appreciated.  You can e-mail me at: 
lshonk@pop.iquest.net.  Thank you. 

Chris Schultz

09/07 Abe; 

Don't know if I've met you but hope so and would like to. Your bulletin 
board is a great site and a place I goto get a different perspective.  You
can post this if you wish but its mostly to you.  I'm 30 years CDF from 
Riverside, Orange County, Shasta-Trinity, San Luis Obispo, and Butte.  I 
spent 5 years in the Joint Command Center in Redding and worked the seige 
of '87, among others. Many times at night after Curtis and John went home, 
the voice the Green trucks heard over the radio was a Red truck operator. 
In San Luis Obispo I was a hand crew Captain for 8 years. One year on the 
Arroyo Grande Helicopter (USFS). My entire career has been side by side 
with Green truckers. Most of the folks I've worked with have been great 
Firefighters and I'm proud to have learned from them and call them friends, 
CDF or USFS.  As any where there will always be bums. Right now I'm in 
Butte at the Air Attack base. A joint CDF/USFS base with no USFS staff. I 
am You, sort of. 

The comments I've seen about CDF can be echoed about Fed Crews. The 
hotshot crews I've fought fire with were mostly top notch, but you know as 
well as I that with the number of crews you can field from across the west, 
there are a lot of crews who don't spend their time cutting line.  Their in 
the green by a quiet piece of line, day or night, using their lady shovel 
as a frying pan for their sack lunch. Granted most are not your "full time"
crews, most are type 2 oc crews, but just like us, some are our first line

Once upon a career I remember when we used to complain about your wages and 
benifits being higher and better than ours, but now its the other way. 
Why? Because we organised and worked hard in a small area (California vrs. 
the Nation) to better our conditions.  Even though we've changed the wages 
and benifits we get, we gave up a lot for the "frills" I've seen belittled 
by folks here. Yes, we use motels, we gave up a 4% pay raise we wanted but 
the state didn't want to give, for it. It didn't change the fact that we 
ALL carry a sleeping bag and ground pad with our war bag.  When I was 
pushing crews I slept in a spike or base camp, by the Federal folks, many a 
night .  On camp assignments more nights than not I've curled up under a 
cache trailer or inside a cardboard box from the sleeping bags from supply, 
to get some sleep. When all you've got time for is 3 or 4 hours, who wants 
the travel time wasted.  When the situation dictates we're just like you. 
 I've never seen any body give up fire pay, or availability pay or some 
other perk cause the other guys can't get it, we're no different. Remember 
we're on hard time on all assignments so when you folks are having a cold 
one once in a while during a 21 day siege, if I do it I'd loose 5% of my 
salary for 6 months. All I can do is drool when you folks rub it in. 

 The prime reason for this e-mail is to thank you for this site. Its not
primarily for me or any State person but I feel it's for FireFighters,
especially those of us who've climbed the mountains the engines and dozers 
couldn't and cut the line, when and where it had to go.  A pulaski, 
McKleod, chain saw, or combi tool would recognize your hands and mine, and 
many of our brothers and sisters can't say that.  In that we're the same, 
we're special. 

Now I manage the tanker base or fly as the ATGS and I hope we can get back 
together, as its all the same fire, just different places. 

Thanks Again;
Michael Mattia

Thanks for your viewpoint Mike and I agree whole heartedly with many of your comments.  As I've mentioned before, I've also worked both agencies and continue to work hand-in-hand with CDF and many other agencies.  I would love to expound on some of your letter, but I've about 15 minutes each morning to update the page, so will have to do it at a later date.  Ab.

09/07 Here's a link to the fire information on the Plumas NF.  http://www.r5.pswfs.gov/plumas/NewsRelease/TOCfires.php
09/07 Ab 
I took a look at the Willow Fire temporary web site with interest.  the 
address is: 
The page has 3-D maps with the fire perimeter on them that show the scope of 
fire and the problem they faced.  The fire perimeter when contained is out 
of alignment with the slope, that is it is entirely burning down slope. That 
is where the fire behavior became within the threshold of control. 
An indirect attack using cat lines, roads and firing out gave the 
firefighters the advantage while the fire spread went against the alignment 
of forces.  This is the tactic that made the stop. Good work Joe and team.

 Joe Stutler, the IC is and old work partner of mine and the addition of the 
web page is a great idea. 
I make a binder and view graphs of the information on the page for use in 
demonstrating successful fire behavior tactics.  I hope the idea expands so 
we that are left to watch can appreciate the work from the perspective of
the fire team and not just the news media. 


09/06 Went to the Butte Fires on a type 3 relief crew spent 36&>

Transfer interrupted!

the engine from falling off. 
We were released Tuesday the 31st of August and sent 
home. Had 18 fire dozers and upwards of 9 strike teams,

Transfer interrupted!

; San Bernardino was 
at 40,000 acres plus, but we returned to Sonoma County. 
Now today 9/6/99 the rumor is that they want type 3's for 
a 14 day commitment back up in Plumas, supposedly on 
one of the fires, Beane Fire, in the Butte Complex. Makes one wonder doesn't 
it. P.S. enjoy the web site to the MAX. 
 Local Agency Vol. Eng.
09/05 Hey Mike, 
                 As one who is also from the east and trained I have been waiting for "THE CALL" myself. The only reason I can give for the east not getting called is 
the drought conditions here. At least that is the answer I got when I asked here in New Jersey.I still haven't figured out how the whole dispatching system works. 
If you check out the Incident Situation Report it will show we have a snowballs chance in hell in going out this year! I can sympathize with you, We ( NJFFS) got 
sent to Florida and Texas last year but I got screwed out of both assignments. Training is tough to get beyond the basic courses so even as a single resource it 
is impossible. I know how you feel! I feel your pain! I haven't been out since 1996 and I am not getting any younger (ha,ha). A lot of guys are getting discusted 
and dont want to be bothered with western assignments. Well maybe next year we will get our shot. Be patient and keep safe! 
                                                               BC Davis 
Mike who do you fight fire with? 
09/04 Ab,

Been sitting here wandering why we are here and not out there. Can 
anyone enlighten me as to why crews up and down the east coast are
sitting wondering why they took the time and money to get trained and to
be available only to be left sitting on the sidelines when the west 
coast is experiencing numerous fires and a shortage of trained folks? 
Hate to grumble but been watching the sit reports for the last week and 
a half and can't help to be disgruntled. If there is still a need I hope 
someone puts a fire under the backside of the system and gets the rest 
of the trained folks involved, even if they are not from the western 
third of the country. 
Sorry for my demeaner but I guess I am venting the stress of sitting on 
the sidelines knowing that the folks working the trenches need the help 
and we sit by idle. 
Makes one wonder about those that are calling the shots. 


There's a lot of fire crews west of the Mississippi and not too much else is happening between here and the east coast.  I did hear a Minnesota #2 crew on the radio today, so there may be hope yet.  The current type I team assigned has discussed the possibility they may not have a handle on the fires when their 21 days is up.  If that's the case, we'll get another team and also be needing handcrew replacements in a big way.  It's now day 13 of the complex.  I was in the expanded dispatch office during the initial ordering phases of the two complexes and met three new overhead as they arrived, one from Colorado, one from Missouri, and one from New Hampshire.  Course, that's overhead, not crews.  Not sure of the outstanding orders for handcrews at this time, but as mentioned else where here, forest policy dictates type I crews only in the North Fork of the Feather.  However, there are needs for type II crews in some of the areas and both type of crews have already begun rotating out.  Reason being is that many of them came here from other fires so their 21 days are already up.  It's kinda like throwing a rock in a pond and watching the ripples expand outwards, they don't start at the edges of the pond.
 The "system", as I see it, is working as fine as it can with what it has left to work with.  Visualize if you will, a one legged, one armed blind man in an ass kicking contest.  Pity his poor crippled body, then take note, the one legged, one armed blind man, who used to have the full use of his senses and extremeties, remains a master blackbelt.  He ain't what he used to be and he may absorb some extra punishment, but he never quits, never whines, and eventually wins the battle!

09/03 Hi Ab, 

    When this lightning strike complex of fires took off (Almost 
two weeks ago) I was staffing my volunteer engine while on day's 
off from my paid fire job. We staffed out of the Jarbo Gap CDF 
station off of Hwy 70, and one of the first things we were assigned 
to do was go down and check smokes being reported up the Feather 
River Canyon. My team went as far down as Rock Creek and Hwy 
70 where we spotted three smokes one above the Rock Creek railroad 
tressel, and the other two were on the south side of Hwy 70. 
I got a rough coordinate on all three fires, but I could not 
find out what happened to them after they were reported to Quincy 
ECC from Butte CDF. I understand that they did get very large 
and were both located in "goat" country along the south canyon 
wall, in fact to the point that rolling and burning debris caused
the highway to close for a time. Can you give me any more detailed 
info on these fires than what is being given off of the Morning 
Situation Report? 

See the reply to sunash a couple of messages down.  Due to lack of resources, these fires were allowed to remain unstaffed for quite a while.  I anticipate a day off coming up and will try to put up a few maps here to show the situation a little better.  As you mentioned, this is indeed "goat country" and indirect attack with burnout operations is the only way to containment.  I've led crews up these canyons many times to attack fires and suffered injuries to the crew on some of them.  This is type I, read "hotshot" terrain only!  Ab.

09/03 As we get ready for the week end, as our weather in Southern Idaho bring 
a little cool weather and rain we think of the folks still working in 
California on all the fires.  Hopefully this will be a good weekend that 
will bring control of the fires. 

Everyone be safe out there 


09/03 I think it is more than obvious, that we are 
reaping the "benefits" of downsizing in the 
FS.  First we had the consent decree, which
drove many of our brighter firefighters to 
other organizations and left a bad taste in 
the mouths of many who remained.  Then 
Clinton and Gore came in with their 
downsizing of government.  Crews and engines 
and aircraft were cut.  The miltia was cut 
back.  No longer were we fully staffed.  We 
have fire planners, but their advice is 
ignored in favor of making of FMTs' goals of 
cutting budgets.  Their version of going 
along with the flow.  This fire, which isn't 
over yet, is not the mother of all seasons.
This many starts is really a fairly normal
occurance.  The difference this year is the 
lack of resources to attack fire.  Now days 
we are unable to support multible large 
fires.  The numbers are not there.  Also, I 
have noticed a great deal of hordeing of 
resources.  I am afraid that things will not 
get any better.  After this season is over, 
nobody in congress, nobody in the media will 
remember or even give a fu*k.  What makes it 
worse is the lying to the media that our 
public affairs folks and forest 
supervisors.  On my forest we have been told
to not let the media know how bad the 
situation is. 
Hi sunash, good to hear from you!  Don't worry, me and "coach" are doing fine.  We've beefed up our staff with some fine folks from Alaska who are doing us a great job.  As things smooth out a little, we're down to around 13-15 hours duty a day.  You weren't talking about us hoarding resources were you?  We do have a lot of handcrews, I think I heard 36 type I along with a mess of type II.  We are gearing up for a massive burnout for the Bucks fire the next few days and will be using every crew we have available.  Two fires have burned together in the area southwest of Buck's Lake to around 8,000 acres.  Due to a lack of acceptable fireline locations, the complex may reach 40,000 acres before containment.  The two fires were called the Big fire and the Buck's fire which is now just called the Buck's fire.  There was some adamant administrative adversion to calling the new gobbler the Big Bucks fire, although it certainly is.  Ab.
09/02 Hi! 

I have a brand new Robwen fire pump with a 13HP Honda engine and a 
Blizzard Wizard foam injector for sale. $2,100 including hose, foam 
nozzles, and various accessories. It was built for a residential 
protection system, but the &$@# never paid for it! Any suggestions about 
where I could advertise this on-line or elsewhere? I would REALLY 
appreciate any thoughts you might have.

            -Paul Budlong

Here's a good place, then try a message to alt.wildland.firefighting new group.  Ab.

09/02 A bunch of us "over the hill types" read your essay about the fire situation, 
sharing your frustrations and shaking our heads over the short sightedness of 
many of today's leaders. When the fall rains come we'd like to buy you at 
least one beer. 

John Marker 
Wildland Firefighter Magazine 

Thanks John, I've noticed myself glancing at the long range forecasts a little more lately seeing if there's any rain in site!  Nope. . .Ab.

09/02 Ab 
Thanks for the note on links. 
 I just heard about news of a shelter deployment in Idaho that happened on 
the Sadler fire.  It was posted on the internal e-mail of the USFS. 
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