SUBJECT    (Previous Archive: Nov-Dec99) Return to Archives Page
01/31 This will be the last post prior to archiving this page.  As the readership and responses grow, the amount of days alloted to each page continues to decrease.  This month alone, this page has grown to 200K.  Last record page size was for Nov & Dec 99 which was just under 200k.  I think most of you will allow the time for that size of file to download, but I don't want it to get much larger in size.  I think the quality of the posts this month have been extremely high and well enjoined.  I will maintain, as always, the last few threads of this page into the next.  Abercrombie
01/31 Have added new photos to Fire2, Engines2, and Airtankers, check 'em out!  Thanks to the senders!  Ab.
01/31 John Maclean's book FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN: The True Story of The South
Canyon Fire is now online with a new website at 

The South Canyon Fire of July 6, 1994 has touched many lives in the
years since it took the lives of 14 firefighters on the slopes of
Colorado's Storm King Mountain. Those bonded to the fire range from
firefighters who survived the blaze to the family members of those who
died there to the other people who worked in fire that summer who will
never forget. This website is intended as common ground for anyone with
a tie to the fire; it includes photos from the book, an author's note,
book reviews, and ordering information.

Don't neglect to read Ab's review of the book here:
FOTM Review.  Ab

01/31 hey ab
       after hearing everyone complain about budgets and stuff i just got hit 
with a zinger myself. after spending almost 2 weeks in kentucky in november, 
i just found out now there was additional paperwork to be filled out before 
we get paid! it might not be that much but its the principal behind it. why 
wasn't it brought up weeks ago? i guess it doesn't matter where you come 
from-when it comes to government its usually gets screwed up! thanks for 
letting me vent.
bc davis 

Reminds me of that old analogy on the bathroom wall, ain't no job finished until the paperwork is done!.  Ab.

01/31 Good luck explaining MEL and the fire budget process to anyone.  The whole
thing is based essentially on a computer game where not everyone plays by
the same set of rules, actually they can kind of make them up as they go as
long as they stay with in the broad boundries.
MEL is essentially set by Congress, but it does not end there.  Once the WO
gets the money they can shift it around as they see fit, then the RO's can
do the same thing and then the Forests, and then the districts pick up what
crumbs are left to divvy up.  That is kind of an over simplification but
that is it in a nutshell.  Hence you can have folks in South Cal that are
funded close to a 100% and then folks in North Cal at 40%.  Regions
throughout the country are basically all over the map also.  So, you could
probably find the engine modules for example at the different levels of
MEL, but since everyone does not get the same level of MEL it would be kind
of tricky to get an accurate read on the number of engines that a given
unit would have funded without knowing exactly what level of MEL they got.
Good luck figuring it out and better luck trying to explain to folks that
will probably not have a clue what you are talking about. 
01/31 I had the opportunity to work with Bacon's area team in the mid-90's and found his attitude toward safety and his team philosophy to be
right up my alley.  Safety was always #1 and was never compromised when I was with his team.  See "WP's" response of 1/29 confirms
that safety is still #1 with Bacon since he had no air support, no roads and a three week inversion.  Same exact conditions on the Silver
Fire (Siskiyou NF) in 1987.  The first Type 1 team on that fire (Started Aug 30 and was controlled Nov 2) did not see the fire during their
first three week assignment due to the same reasons.  Bacon's team philosophy then was "If you think you are on this fire to bail out the
locals because you think they screwed up, you do not belong on this team.  We are on this fire as guests of the home Forest/District." 
Bacon's successor, Charlie Phenix, carried on the majority of the same priorities and philosophies.  The Klamath NF Forest Supervisor
called us in to takeover the Specimen Fire (Klamath NF) in 1994.  She was being strongly pressured to turn it over to a Type 1 team the
R-5 Regional Office and refused. 

 A few years ago the Type 1 teams had a very well deserved rep of being arrogant.  I believe this was a holdover from the "Good Ol' Boy's"
days, and in most cases is on the way out the door with a firm boot in the butt.  Since I have seen this attitude first hand on my old
District, I would like to add my boot to their butt also.  I do not know Mr. Dubois, nor was I at the Fire mentioned, so I will not attempt to
pass judgement on the man or his team.  I will however come to Bacon's defense from my past experience with the man and his teams.


01/31 Just a few comments about some of the posts the last week or so.

to dubois ic ea team:  Certainly I mean no offense to you, but just becuse someone has a ton of experience, that does not mean that they are a superior
supervisor, leader, mentor, IC etc.  A perfect example was a person who I worked with when I first came on board in my current position.  The
individual at that time had over 20 years exp in my exact position. I thought to myself, boy, this person is going to be a wealth of information.  To make
a long story short, this was definitly not the case. His entire contribution to my "growth" was, "dont worry about it". 

To whoever it was (couldnt find the post) who wote in about not trusting anyone not from R5:  Bottom line is I agree with you that you can only truly
trust those who you know and have worked with before. But, you just confirmed (maybe it was the way you said it) the theory (?) of the R5 arrogant
attitude (and no, it is not everybody, but a few make everyone look bad often).  Before you start to rip me, I grew up there and spent my first years (my
knees tell me it was too many but, great years they were) in fire there in the shot program.  I had heard about this from out of region folks but didnt
beleive or see it until I had been out of the area for a spell.  Yea you have the most fires there..but its not the only place that burns.

To tony@SBA and everyone else;  You seemed to say that there is no formal training or simulation for overhead teams (as a team) is this true?? 
..WOW! I find that disturbing.  Even in my small area we have annual training for our local type 2 team. The main session is for the folks outside of
operations, but the ops folks run the "mock" fire to stimulate the rest of the teams actions. We also have annual simulations for the ops folks


01/31 Those who can, do. 
Those who can't, teach. 
Those who can't teach, administrate

     --- The Vent

How timely!  Ab.

01/31 Ab,

I don't work for the FS - and am dismayed and concerned that the entire FS
looks at the meager fire budget as a slush fund to train non-fire folks.
Question:  Does this also mean that fire folks who go to non-fire training
such as mandatory EEO training can have their labor costs picked up by the
EEO shop?  And fire folks who go to related land management training such
as NEPA training get the tab picked up by the NEPA folks?  Or even better,
why should fire pay to develop models and procedures to manage smoke when
this is clearly an air quality issue?  This FS position seems to be a one
way street:  "fire" always pays, no matter what.

Puffin II

As with most Washington directives, the language of FFIS and "primary purpose" is vague enough that an amount of unreasonable interpretation is left to the Regions, then Forests to address the specific daily budget issues.  I must assume the reason WO directives are so grey is to allow the persons responsible for their inception to remain blameless should they be attacked.  How each Forest decides to apply the new directives remains to be seen.  Some of your suppositions appear to be correct, and justifiable, at least to me.  The wording of the "primary purpose" sez, the department or function receiving the benefits will supply the funds.  It should be very interesting to watch if various departments refuse to budge until they get a management code.  Some of the most common, recurring daily duties won't impact fire, cause fire is already raked at the Forest level for various departments such as telecommunications, administrative, information management, OWCP, Unemployment, etc., prior to receiving their "meager" fire suppression funding.  The other interesting feature is that it is not considered "charge as worked", rather to be considered as "charge for work planned".  The exciting difference being if you have unexpected costs that weren't included in your PWP's (Project Work Plans), you will show a deficit at the end of the year.  Strong wording is included to address those responsible for deficit spending.

Here's an example from an engine crew.  They happened upon a capsized diesel truck whose fuel tanks were spilling into a watershed returning from project work at the end of the day.  Overtime was incurred.  When they called Dispatch to get a management code for the overtime, who do you suppose was tapped?  You would be correct if you said watershed.  There was certainly no benefit to the fire organization.  However, one of the hardest hit departments over the last few years is watershed.  They certainly are without money to pay for these kind of situations, but, in this instance, they were charged.  Not only for the engine crew, but for a Battalion Chief, and a Dispatcher.  Just one small example of things to come, this is a bewieldering subject.  Thanks for asking.  Ab.

01/31 Everyone--

Let me preface this post with the admission that I've finally been "edited"
and I now understand AZ's "heh, heh, heh" of a few weeks ago. Let me make this
clear, Ab didn't say I cudn't post what I'd written. But, he did say, hmmm,
prettymuch ever-so-nicely, that he was ready to "throw down his shovel and grab
an inch and a half turbojet" if I did. (I haven't gotten to that piece of equipment
in fire class yet but it sounds kinda powerful.) He also had penned part of
his response, in which he pointed out that my post was like unto "the newest
convert preaching HELLS FIRE and BRIMSTONE to the choir with her backside to
the congregation." He's right, I was a brat and kinda crude yeah, I was <abject
pose denoting penitence>. So here's my much-toned-down message to the appropriate
audience -- the congregation of LURKERS out there -- who might have the info
I need. (I promised Ab I'd be respectful, as befits our hallow-ed setting.)

I'm researching MEL and the whole fire budget process for a presentation I'm
doing for a number of wealthy political activists. I need numbers and examples
that people can relate to--statistics on California (Region 5) would be ideal,
because this state is home for me. (Now, don't just say "oh sh..oot" and roll
your eyes heavenward. God is watching. Bear witness with me.<amen>) Can anyone
point me to public record or feed me private record? I realize that most of
you, who write to this site, don't work in the fire budget arena (that may be
Satan's domain? OOOPs, just kidding, Ab). You just feel the effects of a pretty
messed-up system. But some of you who LURK on this site, probably do have a
lot to do with the fire budget, especially if your e-mail address has a WO or
a RO in it. The public needs to know that something is very wrong with funding
for fire. <Pass the collection plate!>

So-to those who LURK out there, <yes brother> who have the information I need
and a CONSCIENCE <yes sister>, please point me to it <praise be>. 

Why are fire people so afraid of losing their jobs in sharing information that
is in the public interest for our national preparedness and security? When the
law was created which enjoined members of the USFS (including experts in fire)
against lobbying, I doubt if the legislators had this dangerous outcome in mind.
What if we have a fire next summer or the summer after and no one comes? The
public doesn't even realize that's a possibility-- Must people die before we
alert them to the danger publicly? 

Here are the questions I need to have answered: 

For 1999, the average fire operation for CA was at 60% of MEL, to the best of
my knowledge.

How many fire resources, say, engines did this fund?
What were the average fire suppression costs and net value changes due to fire?

What were the average acres that burned?

2000 estimates that FIRE in most forests will be funded at 40% of MEL. Is this
correct? (Except for those few SoCal districts that I've heard from one source
will be receiving almost 100% of MEL)

How many engines will this fund? (some estimates are that we're loosing 2/5
or about 40% of our engines---is this true? We have so few for IA and as resources
on large fires as it is. This makes my heart hurt for us. Bet it will make CDFs
heart hurt even more. Hmmm, Andy Tuttle lives down the street from my mom. Wonder
if she knows?)
What is the estimated (increase in) suppression costs and net value changes
due to fire?
What is the estimated (increase in) acres that will burn?

Looking at the MEL graph, I know that more money for resources to fight fire
is cost-effective in terms of less suppression costs plus resources lost to
fire. Looks to me like we could save $5-10 in costs for every dollar invested
in resources. Does that add up to a half billion dollars saved at the cost of
investing about $70 million in prevention?  To NOT INVEST more preventive dollars
is dangerous and pretty damned stoopid (OOOPS, Ab, that one just slipped out.
<abject pose with head hung and small grin> <AMEN>).

Please, fire budget LUCIFERS, er LURKERS (I reeeeally didn't mean that one Ab,
kinda like you didn't mean to call it a "gudget" a few posts back <grin>), if
you have any answers to these questions, get in touch with me. Just ask around.
I am not anonymous.<glory be> I am trusted.<hallelulah> I'd be willing to post
my full name, address, and phone number on this website, if people have information
(just don't tell my mom).

(Now Tiny, you pup, just don't be followin' my example, yahyear or I will tell
your mom!)

BTW, is anyone else in training who's as sore as me? Penance done...

Mellie from Five Waters 

01/31 OK!  Have spent a week procrastinating about why I even entered this site. But after re-reading the few postings about bigbar maybe there
is still some hope. I don't disagree with most everything that has been said. I do have a problem with bringing in specific names of
individuals/teams!  really uncalled for.  As I recall the National IC meeting is this coming week or next  week--if there is that much
dissatisfaction with these teams you all ought to let them know. If your on here you probably can figure out how to contact them. One
closing comment to ???? about advancing to type 1 overhead & having no managerial experience--I will leave you with this---how about 21
years as a FS district ranger out of a 34 year carreer which ends the end of this year.  & 21 years of that was in the R2.
dubois ic ea team

I'm not sure why you entered the site either, but next time don't procrastinate, jump in while it's still hot.  Regarding specific names being mentioned here, sometimes you just need to call 'em as you see 'em.  I'm not too worried about someone (or some team) being criticized unfairly, the site seems to be widely read enough that unwarranted or false comments are quickly and correctly addressed by other participants (just ask Ab.).  That is a prime reason not to practice procrastination.  If I get the impression from a post the person just has an axe (pulaski) to grind and addresses individuals rather than situations or subjects, their mesages are deleted without posting.  Ab.

01/31 Dear AB!
I haven't written for quite sometime.  I do enjoy your page though.  Recently here in R5, we lost a very good and decent man to a very
malicious and useless murder.  According to the news, they have caught the man responsible for the murder, but the loss of Jerry has
taken it's toll on many of the employees on our forest. 

Jerry Levitoff was the Air Base Manager for the Chester Air Attack Base for many years and he was very close to retiring from the USFS.  I
only had met Jerry personally myself this summer, while serving my time on the Air base during the Fire Season.  Although it was only for
2 weeks of my season, I learned very much from Jerry and his wisdom.  I knew Jerry from town, but I had never actually seen how
dedicated he was to his job and his friends until this summer.

For all of you fellow Firefighters out there, I ask you to please take a little time and bow your head and have a moment of silence for this
very good man. 
As far as his family goes, I pray that they will find peace and comfort eventually during their time of grief.
And for all you men and women out there, May GOD be with you no matter whether you are doing your job or just going home every night
to be with someone you love...
Amen to that.  Peace To you all..

01/31 Ab--

Here's the acronym list. There are only about a dozen acronyms I haven't been
able to find, out of the more than 180 that you all have used since the beginning
of TheySaid in 1998. (Ab, search the list for the ? to find the ones I didn't

I've learned a lot and I appreciate everyone's patience with me. You could have
just told me to go take the I-100, S-130, S-190, etc. courses! I think I've
learned more doing it my way, but we'll see if I ace the quiz on Monday that
covers I-100, fire chemistry and physics and SCBA. I'm the only "girl" left
in the class...the other 4 bailed... "But I ain't runn'in away and I won't abandon
the line..." to quote one of my heroes.

Mellie from Five Waters

Thanks Mellie, I'll review these out as time allows, meanwhile all readers are encouraged to provide input.  Checkout the list here:
acronyms.php  meanwhile, Tiny is reformatting the list into tables w/letter index for easy research.  Ab.

01/29 DJ

Saw your comment on Bacon being denial re: Megrim and Onion.  Since I was 
there at that time what would you have done if your were IC?  Given the 
situation -- No air support due to the smoke caused by the inversion for 
almost 3 weeks, no access or roads, and last but not least no friggen place 
to stand except the ridge tops or creek bottoms?  What would have been your 
course of action? 


01/29 Just saw a memo from the head B and F person at the W.O. which said something to the effect of "If you give a non-fire person, any
fire training fire must pick up all costs including salary.  I have not asked, but am assuming that this includes all refresher training. 
Don't know about other FMOs, but my budget can't support that impact at current levels.  This is part of the new Primary Purpose
mind set. (Have been trying also to figure out how Primary Purpose figures in with Ecosystem Management, and can't reconcile it.) 
Bottom line is that this will reduce the number of people avialable for fire assignments, and increase the non-fire staff's perception of
us as prima donas.  Decreasing personnel available for fire assignments on top of existing staffing shortages can hardly be consistent
with safety being our #1 priority.  Thoughts?

What you have heard is correct and from what I've heard, different Forests are handling the extra costs to their fire gudgets in various ways.  Some avow they will not pay any costs for non-fire folks.  Others are going to absorb all the costs, but have said they will demand (how will they do that?) the people getting training respond to the fire call, anytime, anywhere.  Don't be surprised if, in the near future, there is a fire camp and only the operations side shows up!

By the way, for those of you blessed with a strong stomach or others (not quite in tune) who could avoid puking, or throwing your pulaski at the tv. . . what were your thoughts when President Clinton proudly pronounced how much his regime had chopped the federal workforce and budget in his speech the other night?  What programs do you suppose the average American thinks are getting cut when he says things like that?  Do the people who live in the urban/wildland interface understand the consequences of what he said?  Do the people who have suffered from fires escaping national protected lands invading their cities realize the cause and therein, the responosibility?  What a higher quality of education the Prez sez,  the sons and daughters of America could obtain, if we can just get that extra 4 billion passed through Congress to support them.  Pity some of the young'ens won't get to attend school cause their homerooms will be ashes!  Ab.

01/29 You may be interested in checking out the web site below for
information and downloads of wildland fire simulations by Cricket
01/29 Ab, to all the whiners who fear the pack test and want the biggest excuse to 
get rid of it! A little advice practice what you preach,  get the hell in 
shape now! There is no discrimination at all w/ the test procedure, contrary 
to those of you who are now realizing that fact.  The step test is only a 
barometer for an office job!  No union should complain about the pack test 
either! It's about "REALITY 101 YOU ARE A WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER", so get out 
there now and pay up and if you still cannot get in shape you have always 
been a liability anyway. Jeffsz00tv
01/29 AB,  One of these days I will learn not to listen to you, but I went ahead and got the on-line version of this new Storm King book.  Man,
does it suck !  I mean the content probably isn't bad but with all the grammatical errors, incorrect word usage and misspelling it is almost
impossible to read.  They keep going over the same information I think they do it to lengthen the book.  It is terrible !
But I don't want to overly influence anyone, so I'm going to figure out a way to get this thing to you, just be sure that
you read it so you will endure the same torture that I have. I did fight my way through about half of it but had to quit to
give fair warning to you and anybody else who might be thinking about reading this atrocity of a book.

Hee, hee, hee, does that mean you don't like it?  Ab.

01/29 Ab, I just found your site and I wanted to say THANKS !!!
IM a Local Gov. Vol. F/F from No. Cal., We were VERY busy last fire season. We send a Type 3 Strike Team out when ever North Ops calls and they
called this year. We were called out 7 times and spent the equivalent of 21 days away from our home, families and jobs. I read through you archives
and I would like to comment on a few things...
The Motel thing, I don't mind sleeping on the ground but, when it is 116 degrees and you are expected to bed you crew down and try to get some rest
and re-hydrate ???
I can't complain too much because when I pointed that fact out to the I.C., we were given the option of being released . 
We were lucky, we only had 1 injury (due to being clobbered by a Prune Truck passing in an intersection.) and 2 mild cases of heat exhaustion.
Keep up the good work AB and remember that Strike Team XGL-3050-C will always be there doing a good job.
Your # 1 job is the protection of life and property, your # 2 job is to make friends and influence people. Lets leave them with a smile on their faces.
Fireman Dan

What a breath of fresh air Dan!  Your post is welcome!  Ab.

01/29 DJ,
 Intolerant - unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression. Websters New 
Collegiate Dictionary.
I understand that you are entitled to your opinion no matter how wrong you 

As to the remarks concerning the disappointment with the type 1 teams, I have 
been on one for two years now and still see vast room for improvement.
The arrogance issue, whether it is perceived or real needs to be dealt with. 
I have been on both ends of this issue, and it is a real detriment to a teams 
being able to get the job done. 

You speak to Teamwork.. That may be the biggest problem with the type 1 teams 
today.  We call them "teams" and even add the adjective "type1" to them. We 
call them out whenever incidents get "too complex" for the local teams.  So 
when do these "Type 1 Teams" get together and practice? We run simulations, 
train and drill, drill, drill with our engine, hotshot and helitack crews. 
We even decided a few years back that a 24 HR "operational refresher" was 
needed at the beginning of each fire season to knock the rust off. So why not 
get these teams together for drills, simulations and refreshers?  Maybe we 
need to call them Type 1 "Overseers" instead of teams since every "Team" I 
know of gets together and practices before the games. We even allow our 
contract aircraft revenue time to keep in the groove and test the equipment 
if they haven't flown in a set time. 
So what I would and have proposed is we have preseason refreshers and graded 
simulations for our supposed "best" before they are allowed to manage an 

As for Firefighter Safety......We have an organization that is paying lip 
service to that phrase! If we have so many folks questioning and saying no to 
assignments, then we either have incompetent overhead or have failed to 
adequately train and retain our experienced folks. 

As for my spelling, I apologize for not being a college graduate..but 
wait..maybe some of my common sense is still intact...

Tony @ SBA

01/27 Does anyone out there know of a web address for a copy of the Sadler
Incident Investigation Report?  I can not seem to find it at any BLM or FS
site.   Thanks!


Since there still seems to be interest in the doc, I stashed  copy here, and a permanent link on the "Hot Air" page, just so's we don't have to look so hard.  Ab.

01/27 I ain't scared of no stinking pack test!!    It's really simple, pass your in, fail your out.  What's the beef?  As far as the "full timers", same rule applies.  If
someone fails, it's their choice, lack of comittment to PT. 


01/27 (RE:  Responses to Dubois's request for comments, message edited.  Ab)
Arrogant - making exorbitant claims of rank or importance. Webster Dictionary.
Do you guys think that those holier than thou attitudes of yours don't show through your obviously thin veneers. If you are disappointed
with type 1 teams here of late get on a team and make it a better team, if your arrogance will allow you to. 
TEAM WORK, think about it.  Mr. DuBois has asked for information and all you cocky fatherless buzzards can do is spout off. Put a cork
in that and offer some valid testimony for the investigation.
You poor guys, they see through your thin characters and so you receive arrogance for arrogance. 
Seemed to me that Bacon was in denial while at Big Bar he kept saying that the
Megram wasn't doing anything, but now that we have 20-20 hindsight I guess it is safe to say that it indeed was doing something. If your
idea of looking out for firefighter safety is inaction then maybe he did good. While you are at it why don't you run spell check on your next
message, it lessens your credibility to misspell so many simple words. 
I've found that the best policy is work together, teach, learn, understand don't stand on any prejudices whether they are geographical or
based on any other differences that you and the other person may have. 
So now that you Archie Bunkers of the fire world have had your say, is there anyone out there who can help Warren with the investigation?
01/26 So Mellie........Did you actually meet the purported authors?   Did they 
maybe remind you of snake oil salesmen or what?


Somebody buy the .pdf version and email it to me. . . I feel the urge to do another critique!  Ab.

01/26 Ab, get quite a kick out of your site.  Looks like you catch your share of
bitchers and whiners, but that is what the site is for I guess.  Kind of
interesting how each region or area thinks they are the only ones that can
fight fire.  Maybe we should just build fences around the geographic areas
and let no one in or out.  I have been in this business for 32 years and
started at the bottom and have done the crewman, engine, hotshot, jumper,
afmo, fmo thing and now have about 3 left.  I have pretty much been there
in one capacity or another if they have wildland fires.  Nice to see
nothing has changed - same bitches, uninformed people drawing conclusions
on things they know nothing about but pass themselves off as subject matter
specialists.  Maybe if these folks put as much energy into meaningful
change it would benefit us all.  I know I have been there, I can bitch with
the best of them and be as cynical as it needs to be.  But in the long run
that does nothing to help ourselves or the organization.  Maybe some of
these folks can pick up on that quicker than I did.  Of course it takes a
hell of a lot more energy and perseverence than just bitching.  A good
healthy dose of reality needs to come into play somewhere, also.  Maybe I
will jump in occasionally in the future.  I just read a bunch of your
archived stuff and could write a book in commenting to some of the stuff.
Remember, we the unwilling, led by the unqualified, have done so much for
so long we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.  I'll keep
watching, continue to have fun with your site.  DFMO
PS. You CJRL folks are welcome to it.  Give me some synthetic staflo
anyday, but no GSA synthetic.  later
01/26 Greetings Ab,
  Here is a pic from the strange side.The hole that is actually on fire is an electric connection for a home.All we could do is let it burn itself out.Later,Keith
01/26 Oh my god, excuse me, is this a book about Storm King written by trailer trash
who brag about getting kicked out of English !)!??? Spare me! Talk about the
greed motive! 

Seems we met this couple when they crashed the hot tub at our motel in Glenwood
Springs on Christmas night following our hike up the mountain. I shoulda let
my firemen smash the guy!


01/26 Beat but not broke, 

Any time you get a team away from the fuels and
logistics they are used to operating in you are going
to have problems.  Our system is set up advance people
with egos (not management skills) higher up into the
fire organizations until they obtain Type I IC status.
 They rarely have the management skills, training, or
personalities to be effective in the positions. 
(There are some exceptions.)  R-5 teams have the
reputation of being poor to marginal outside of
California.  R-5 crews and engines tend to perform on
par with other resources, not worse, not better.

As far as R-5 culls not making it up the ladder, am
amazed at your perception.  If you really do believe
it I would like to talk with you about some real
estate opportunities where you could make lots of

While there are some people that I do trust I trust
with my life, to a point. And I'm sorry to say very
few of them come from...R-5 or R1,2,3,4,6,8,9, or 10. 
Hope you don't mind if I don't pull any punches.


01/25 Heard somewhere there is a new book about Storm King, does anyone out there know anything about it ?  I have to say after Macleans
article in the daily news about how 'Just saying no' was something new to his world, well I have questions.  It is bad enough that over the
years almost everyone has a ' Hell no I wont go' story, but why do some supervisors keep wanting to put firefighters in dangerous unsafe
positions on the line. Then this post from DuBois about the Eastern Area team, I try to find solace in the watch out for number one
mentality but that doesn't always work, yeah I mean watch out for yourself but what about all those other firefighters out there. Whether we
want to believe it or not we are all basically cut from the same cloth I mean heroes are heroes and luckies are luckies. As far as the hose
argument goes I'll offer an analogy,  if you were buying a part for your truck would you buy a lightweight part or a heavy duty part.  I can
hear someone saying, ' How far are you gonna carry that part?' I found that over time the synthetic stuff is more fragile to abrasion and
puncture, but that cjrl sure can get heavy especially for those who are long of tooth.  Later, Dave

Yes there is a new one, click here for information:  On Storm King Mountain, The Legacy, The Lesson  Ab.

01/25 I hope you may be able to help

I am program manager for the Denali Hotshots a (co-op) crew managed by
Chugachmiut with BLM, Alaska Fire Service.

How or can you update the Hotshot contact list with the correct
informaation for the Denali Hotshots.  We are listed on the National
Mobilzation Guide.

Location I am referecing.

I open Wildlandfire page, Click on National Interagency hotshot crew
page--then I go to that page and click on recruitment information, then
go to National IHC contact list.

Need to update the information on this page.

Denali Hotshots
4201 Tudor Centre Dr. Suite 210
Anchorage, AK  99508

Phone (907) 562-4155  Fax (907) 563-2891
e-mail gene@chugachmiut.org

web page:   www.chugachmiut.org

Contact Gene Long

Gene Long

It appears that page is maintained by the Lolo Hotshots.  Here's an email link  mailto:skarkanen/r1_lolo@fs.fed.us Ab.

01/25 I may be opening myself up for much controversy, but I am part of the
Southwest region Dispatch Steering Committee, and we are putting on our
week-long workshop next week.

I would like to hear from you'all to let me know of any issues or
concerns with the dispatching world. We will be forwarding concerns to a
panel on the last day, and would like to have some input from the
outside world.



01/24 There are around 15 new photos. . . one on Fire2 and one on Crew to complete the pages, a new page for handcrews on Crew2, some Apache helicopters on Helicopters2, and new airtanker photos.  You will see that the table of photo selections on each photo page except for the main photo page has been deleted.  When you are done viewing the photos on each page, just go to the top of the page and hit Photos, or your back button.  Enjoy.  Ab.
01/24 Warren,
Just a few comments on your posting, did your team crompromise safety?  I 
don't know, I was there long before you got there.  Was your team arrogant, 
most likely so.  In the past 26 fire seasons I have worked, I would rather 
get poked in the eye with a stick than work with most Type I teams.   I do 
understand that the teams are trained to work and react on a much larger 
scale than the type II teams.  But the arrogance, aloofness and unwillingness 
to listen to the locals is what we all remember about the Type I teams.  I 
still remember the R-6 team that ran it's "Team Flag" up the pole above the 
Colors about 10/12 years ago and just about had a mutiney from all the vets 
in camp and then wondered why every body was pissed, DUH!  Is your team 
arrogant, how do they treat the local folks?  Do your folks try to get as 
much information from the departing team as they can, or do they "reinvent 
the wheel"  and disreguard all previous planning efforts?  When you come into 
town do you bring a big bag of Taxpayer money and spend like there is no 
tomorrow, when the local folks and type II's are told to "watch the costs"? 
Only you can answer, but if you feel more than a little anomosity toward you 
and your team, there might be a good reason.
I worked with Dave Bacon's team when I was at Big Bar and I can say that the 
man had safety as his first consideration,  He was concerned with the welfare 
of the troops and the team members reflected his attitude.  He had a young 
Ops chief that was gung ho and really wanted to go off do some "unwise"
things.  Dave kept a tight reign on him and ALWAYS kept safety first.  That 
attitude extended from the line to the camps. 


01/24 Warren,
Geographical Location Resource discrimination??  I see that as meaning the 
trust factor and you betcha I practice it...I don't know you, no matter where 
you are from, I don't trust you.  This isn't to say that you are not a dirt 
slammin fool or a great human being..all it means is that I haven't worked 
with or heard from someone that I do trust that you can be trusted to protect 
my backside when the world goes to hell in a handbasket.

A very wise old man that just retired after a long and distinguished career 
as an R-5 Hotshot Sup taught me by example this practice my first year with 
him in '74.
No matter who the "lookout" was that was watching our backside..if the supe 
didn't know him,(and sometimes moreso when he did) one of our crews squadies 
or foremen that was "trusted" would somehow wind up with that sector boss or 
whomever was acting as lookout...

As "Beat but not broke" stated there are culls in every region..There are 
also different tactics, methods and hazards with every regions firefighting. 
Last I remember one of the basics was "ask a local"..this includes local 
agency wisdom whether it be R5 or R8..Local knowledge is worth its weight in 

Fire Teams DO need to be in charge and make decisions. They also need to be 
smart enough to listen to the folks who do it every day. I am disappointed in 
the type 1 teams here of late..and this does not apply to all members..I see 
lots of rainbow teams made up of different agency personnel. Lots of reasons 
for this happening (politics to availability) but if I was a national IC I 
sure would be looking at the experience level of my division sups and 
operations sec chiefs. 
A  weak Operations Section Chief can be overcome by strong Divisions but a 
strong Ops will never overcome weak Divisions..especially on large complex 

I agree with "Beat but not broke", I am sorry if you get you feelings hurt or 
feel that I am discriminating against you because I don't trust you, but my 
pink backside and those of the crews need to get home at night. 

sign me...former hotshot and current airdale slug @ SBA

01/24 The "Photo Description" page is now up and running - please advise of any bad links.  Ab.
01/24 Hi there!
I really enjoyed your web page!  I'm one of those dorks that says "Gee I 
wanna be a firefighter when I grow up!"  Acctually I'm doing some research 
into the field for Vocational Rehab.  I have to convince the VA to send me 
to the local University for wildlands firefighting and it's not going to be 
easy.  They want to ship me off to be an art teacher or something. 
If there is anyone that you know who might be willing to share some 
information about the wildland firefighters' life and job and all that stuff 
could you please pass them my email?  Anything I can present to the VA would 
help me out a lot!  Right now I'm on my own in this and I dont know anything 
about anything.  I'm not about to pretend like I do either.  I have a friend 
who used to be a firefighter and worked as a medic once for the state
wildland firefighters.  All I know is what I've heard from him as he sits 
back and tells his "sea stories."  (He's a reliable person but he cant tell 
me all the details I need to know and present to the VA.)
I was only trained for shipboard and aircraft firefighting in the Navy and I 
never had to fight a fire because I wouldn't let my aircraft catch on fire.
Since I'm the one asking for someone to contact me, I'll give you some info 
about me to pass along so I wont be such a stranger:
I'm 24, I live in Alaska in a little town called Delta Junction. (I love 
this state and this is where I'd like to be a firefighter.)  I'm a Gulf war 
vet who was a helicopter mechanic in the Navy.  I also worked out on the 
flight line doing all of that fun stuff:  Launching the birds, servicing 
them, inspecting them ect ect.  I was a ground pounder though, not a crew 
chief.  Those guys were the helo gods.  I was just a demi-god.  (hehehe just 
kidding. I wasn't that great.)
I've always wanted to be a firefighter but the oppertunity never came up so 
I went out and had fun as a helo mech.  Now I have the chance to try and do 
what I've always wanted to do.
Wish me luck.  The VA is one tough cookie!
Goodbye and thanks a ton!
-Michelle   (alaskasnow@hotmail.com)
01/24 Warren- 
Don't let your position as an IC blind you to whats
going on around you. I have fought large fire(as I'm
sure you have) from coast to coast, Alaska and Canada
to the Mexican border and damn near every place in
between. I must say it is VERY sad, or should I say
scarey to see the levels of knowledge out there in
other "geographical locations", as you put it. Yes I
am from Region 5 and a longtime hotshot. We have been
called arrogant, egotistical and a few names I prefer
not to put in print. The truth is we just don't pull
punches here. We will tell you when your full of it
and hopefully offer you an alternative. We see the big
fires year after year day after day. Don't get me
wrong we have a few culls here that have no business
being in fire but they seldom make it up the ladder.
    I have taught courses in other regions and could
not belive the captains and engineers didn't have a
grasp on basic fire behavior. The other instructors
and myself were dumbfounded. It wasn't an isolated
person it was the whole class. Many of times just
sitting around camp BS'ing about fire you could get a
feel for a persons knowledge or experience. Many of
them made me wonder how they survived this long. For
those of you out there that work every year to become
better firefighters my apologies to you. I know there
are some very good dirtdogs out there that I would be
proud to have on my crew.
    But for those of you who just exist to get a
paycheck, or the overhead who can't take the criticism
or accept a different idea, don't call me
discriminatory because I won't trust you to watch my
back. Those that I do trust I trust with my life, to a
point. And I'm sorry to say very few of them come from
outside R-5.
    My kids like to see thier dad when they can, and
thats one of the reasons I am the way I am.
    P.S. Hope to see you on the front lines, that is
if your worth a damn.

sign me Beat but not broke.

01/24 Ab, Warrend DuBois and Readers:

To refresh the memories of the early firefighters on the Big Bar, here's the
map of the Onion, Fawn and Megram fires from about the time DuBois is speaking
of. This is from the Northcoast Journal, Arcata CA, October 7, 1999. There's
another map I got someone to pull off the web after the blowup of the blowdown
-- which created those huge lobes on the Megram to the west.

In addition, here's the timeline on the early IC teams:

Dave Bacon's Southern CA Type II was at Big Bar from August 25 through about
September12 (at which time the Onion was almost contained but the Fawn and Megram
had not yet burned together.)

Mike Weltch's Orca Type II took command of Big Bar Complex on Sept 11. Their
last IAP originating from Big Bar was on September 16. I talked to the Information
Officer on Sept 15 and he said they were moving to Orleans to have better access
and to work on the northern part of the fire. (Actually, I think the decision
was made to bring in a Type I team because the fire was growing and the next
type I team on the list was DuBois' team.)

Warren DuBois' Eastern Area Type I team arrived on Sept 13 and took command
of the southern part of the fire, operating out of Big Bar on Sept 16 or 17.
They remained through October 3. 
If you refer to the NorthCoast Journal map, I think the area that Warren DuBois
mentioned is the outermost area, i.e., the stippled areas. On the west during
a wind event, the Megram jumped the control line along Devil's Backbone dividing
Trinity from Humboldt County (Six Rivers NF). It moved east and southeast and
overran Grizzly Camp and Groves Prairie, from which 300 people were evacuated
in the middle of the night. A Hoopa man had a cardiac arrest and died. 

Bateman's Southwest Type I Team came to Big Bar on September 26 (through October

To Warren DuBois:
You made the statement, ".I really believe that there still persists, in this
new century, discrimination associated with geographical location of resources,"
By this, do you mean that the safety investigation was prompted by a bias that
western firefighters have a negative stereotype of a team from the East? 

Let me tell you what I know.

At the end of the Onion, I did hear a lot of grousing from the local FS people
(the lookout, the Denny campground FS person, and one FS employee from Salyer)
that they were poorly treated by DuBois' team. At the time it seemed like the
whining could have been due to personalities and having to deal with a new group.
At first I chalked the comments up to too many days in the smoke and inability
to get out of the smoke on days off. We were all edgy. 

Later, I heard a rumor from other sources (than the locals) that safety had
been compromised, and that DuBois' team had less experience than Weltch's Orca
Type II Team in the steep terrain and inversion conditions. I heard that DuBois'
team, (*especially the head ops guy(s)*) was arrogant and treated fireline troops
as expendable fodder, staking them out coyote for a day or two more than was
normal or safe. I don't think that these comments were simply the result of
discrimination against a team from the east. When I asked, several people said
the problem went beyond lack of experience. Rather, it was a fundamental difference
in safety style from Weltch's and Bacon's teams. I heard enough complaints from
different levels, (from people on the line up to people in higher positions)
that I felt the rumor regarding compromised safety couldn't just be dismissed
as smoke- and stress-induced. Frankly, I was glad when I heard later that the
situation was being investigated.

In my time on the fires, hearing this rumor was one of the things that peaked
my concerns for firefighter safety and made me start to worry about people I
had come to care for. 

I want to know the truth or falsehood regarding these safety allegations against
DuBois' team. Who might know? Here's a list of the shot crews, other hand crews
and people who worked on or supervised the lines during that time. 

La Grande Hotshots: Jay Rasmussen
Blue Ridge Hotshots: Rick Miller
Entiat IHC: Marshall Brown
Prinevillee Hotshots: Lance Honda
Zig Zag Shots: Gina Papke
Boise IHC: Randy Skelton
St Joe IHC: Hadley Hawkins
Boise IHC: Randy Skelton
Helena IHC: Larry Edwards
Midnight Sun IHC: David Matier
Ferguson 8: Alberto Davila
Rogue River Crew 9: David Treskin
Eagle Pass 2: Ira Rambo
C & H91: Alex Coronado
C& H 84: Alesandre Delfino
Coria 1: Everado Coria
GHR 2: Ernie Wortman
Skookum 23: Jerry Cargill
SRV 13: A Mendoza
SRV 29: E Rendon
SRV 11: Francisco
Bruce Nichols, Larry Wright, Rex Crabtree, Robt Cunningham, Tom Romaine, Bob

If you're one of these people or a member of one of these groups and have specifics
to report one way or the other, I hope that you contact Rex Mann. If readers
are friends with any of these people, ask them if they felt safety was compromised,
or not. It would be good to know if the rumor/allegations are true or false.
The environment of safety needs to come from the top down, delivered as a clear
message. If the message of safety wasn't made clear by this team due to unsafe
assignments, corrections should be made. On the other hand, if the allegations
are false and this team did not compromise safety, it would be a shame to loose
their efforts on fire's behalf.

Mellie from Five Waters

01/24 hi people,
I am aremote area firefighter in australia.if anyone wishes to swap a cap,shirt.badges etc e-mail me.
01/23 I have been watching this site for some time (4 months), kinda waiting for more dialoge on the BIG BAR complex! More then $70 Million
spent but very few e-mails except from the lady in Denny.  The Easten Area Type 1 team spent 21 days there & had allegations of safety
problems. This was associated with a large aerial burnout & when the Megram jumped control line on the west perimeter & onto the Hoppa
reservation & Six Rivers national Forest.  Anyways the the Eastern Area Coordinating Group has elected to not sponser a Type 1 team in
2000 & has ordered a review of the teams performance. Rex Mann on the Daniel Boone NF is team leader in this review--I would
appreciate any concerns/safety issues/positives be sent to Rex. The real reason I have come on line on this, is that I really belive that
there still persists, in this new century, discrimination associated with geographical location of resources, which we can ill afford. Hope
this gets something going.

Warren DuBois (IC EA Type 1 Team)

01/23 No Name,

This past fire season (one which we never really saw an end to), we utilized 
"severity" patrols here on the Prescott Forest and surounding state lands. 
As the KBDI's increased and fire danger increased, the local resources were 
about taxed. Not only did we have to provide coverage to the severity's, but 
the potential for a large incident in in the "Basin" kept everyone on their 
toes. A request from the state to increase resources on the severity patrols 
could not be handled by the local fire agencies, so a call to the privates 
went out. Thank God for Johnson's Fire Service and Nezbit's Fire Service. 
Both private companies are from the Phoenix Metro area and kept their crew 
available for the better part of the patrol season. Believe me, there was 
enough jobs else where in the southwest to make their endeavors much more 
lucrative, but I think because thier "homeboys" from this state, they might 
have felt an obligation to stay instate.
Now, I have worked with both ownwer/operators mentioned above, and with 
Aspect, a local private from Chin Valley. I have been soo impreased with 
their operation in regards to firefighter safety, communications, and 
equipment, that I myself thought about doing some part time work with them. 
No Name, I had no intentions of disrespecting the privates. My comment to 
Kieth was simply that if you go into the business, keep your firefighters 
safe, well trained, and well equipped. As we well know in this business, it 
doesn't matter if your private, fire district, or federal/municipality, 
there are those crews that ruin it for everyone. The public doesn't care 
what the name of the company is or from what town your from, they want you 
to handle their emergency responsibly, effectively, and safely.

Now, for Keith from Texas;

I work as the district fire management officer for my district. My 
responsibility lies in upper management, training, payroll and billing, 
cooperative negatiations with the state, and just about anything else the 
fire district can throw at me, in regards to our district's wildland 
division. I also play shift captain/paramedic on A platoon when I have free 
time (yea right!).

My last letter to you was a liitle harsh, I will admit to that, but I want 
you to know a litle about what you are about to get into.....

Now, for part "B" also titled....AZ Trailblazer's Guide to Starting Your Own 
Wildland Fire Suppression Service.

First, contact your regional fire control officer or district forester 
(FMO){state or federal}in your area. He/she will advise you of the fire 
suppession needs of an area. If you have several local fire departments 
already doing a good job of wildland fire protection, you as a private may
not get called out as often (supply and demand). Once you have an 
understanding of their needs, it's alot easier to come up with a plan that 
complements their endeavors. You will also want to send out your feel'ers 
(networking) to get an idea how the local fire agencies will adapt to you 
being around. Some agencies have some major hang ups working with privates 
(we talked about that one last time). No need for you to offer services in 
an area that has agencies in place that may send you packing as soon as you 
get on scene (some areas, the first on scene fire agency has the authority 
to request, deny, or hold additional resources. This may not be the state or 

Equipment comes to mind next. You can go all out and purchase hundred 
thousand engines or you may want to build one yourself. Remember though, if 
you build an engine yourself, you must still meet the specs for the type of 
equipment that you are supplying. A type 6 engine spects is the same, 
regardless of entity. This includes water tank, pump capabilities, amount of 
hose, etc.

If your an owner/operator, you will need a couple of folks to help you get 
your job assignments done. Training can come from several sources. Local 
fire departments, state resources, or the feds come to mind. Most training 
oportunities come in the winter, early spring in most parts of the country. 
Several web sites on wildland training are available. Most are updated 
monthly. Also, most of the training is relatively inexpensive. Start off 
with the S-I 100/200 level classes. And no, you do not have to go through 
all of the S100 classes to start taking S/I200 level classes. The more 
training that you take and the more experience you gain, the safer you will 
be when you IA a fire.

Contact a bookkeeper for your books, and contact your insurance carrier as 
to their thoughts and recommendations towards your new business. They my not 
want to carry you, but should be able to recommend an insurance carrier.

Once you have the majority of the items mentioned above, remember that 
district forest guy. Get in contact with him/her and initiate that 
Cooperative Agreement (contract). This legal document will list the 
equipment that you are providing, an amount of money negotiated for services 
rendard and for personnel (if your personnel are seperate billing from your 
equipment), insurance and compensation companies in case equipment becomes 
damaged off a fire or someone gets hurt or sick, and the state/federal 
agency's inpection and approval for your equipment.

Doesn't sound all that bad. So, if you got that all american entraupaner 
idealistic mind of yours on the right track, give it a shot. As we all know, 
because of LaNina, the southwest and the southeast is going to be the big 
$makers this year. Let me know what else I can do for you!

AZ Trailblazer

01/23 Hello, again..Ab, very interesting conversations going on this site, I enjoy the fire fix that I get on it, during this...precip-less winter.  But,
back to the pack test, I've been reading about the test working well, eles where, but here...in California, R-5....it just isn't happening.
Slurpy Drinker, said it well...what will happen to the fulltimers, who don't pass?  I have worked in Suppression, since, the Hog Fire 
(1977)..which by the way, I would have loved to carry out synthetic hose on that one, and I know...alot of people, who will be hard pressed
to pass it. I can pass the test, have been able to for a couple of years now, since I first heard of it, but... plenty of people though, are
hoping it will go away. Why is the region dragging their feet? Is it possible, that..it might turn into a serious problem? I have seen on many
job vacancies, with other agencies..that it is required, the step test is out, but here...I just don't get it. But yes, we are waiting for the big
word...is it in or is it out, this season. I say, lets get on with it and get ready for the fall out.  It amazes me how fast we are, to get rid of a
temporary who fails the step test.  What will we do with the fulltimers.....baby them, and in the mean time, our red card list of available
people will dwindle...and if we have another hot season...filling orders might get tight. I know I sound, pretty negative, but I have waited for
years for the step test to be eliminated. I just don't get, why a region, that prides itself in being a front runner in so many areas of
suppression...is having cold feet?  M2
01/22 Hope I'm not too late to weigh in on the hose thing.
Just gotta take issue with the advice to find a new job if your engine uses synthetic on IA.  Try to remember that not every part of the world
has 30 miles of road in every square mile.  Its not unusual for us to lay out 2500 feet of trunk before you even think of putting in the first
lateral.  If I made my crew do that with CJRL, I hope they'd find a new way to make money.

R1 Engine Foreman

It's never too late to speak up here.  There are many kinds of initial attack, some dictate delay and others are urgent.  I've spent time attacking high rate of spread, rapid deployment, immediate need attacks with structures threatened and also the type you mention where you have extended time and distance considerations just to arrive on scene.  In my earlier comments I was addressing the immediate need, close quarters type of IA, but I failed to say that, didn't I.  A distance of 2500 feet seems more descriptive of a trunk lay than an initial attack line.  CJRL withstands>

Transfer interrupted!

ion than synthetic hose.  Period!  If those qualities aren't an issue, sure, I'd rather carry 400 feet of synthetic than cjrl.  Abercrombie 
01/22 OK--

Fess up whoever you are!

I got home from San Francisco a little while ago to quite a number of voice
mails and several e-mails accusing me of somehow getting the picture of the
Denny Road THANK YOU sign out on the OFFICIAL FS internet! Friends said they
got it as some part of a large mailing. Others said they got it as a forwarded
message. One even accused me of hacking into the system. All were quite enthusiastic!

So, since I only sent it to Ab and this site, someone else, dare I say our resident
WEB GODDESS, must have done this wonderful thoughtful deed!

THANKS! and thanks AB. What a wonderful circle of people you all are! 

Mellie from Five Waters

PS. Taking confessions at Five_Waters@hotmail.com

01/22 New photos will be added today and I will be working on deleting and reposting the "Guest" series into their specific subjects matters.  Hit your refresh button frequently during the next couple of days to insure you see the latest updates.  This project is going to allow me plenty of opportunities for creating bad links, so let me know if you find any (after the couple of days is up).  I'll also add a couple more topic pages such as ""Logos" and "Equipment".  I've tried to keep each photo page at 25 thumbnails for faster downloading and would like to hear comments on how that is working for you.  Conducting this site from a backwaters area and on the road, I'm frequently reminded of slow transfer rates.  As always, your comments, positive or otherwise, are encouraged.  Ab.

PS:  Speaking of "reload" or "refresh" (R&R) buttons, I've been contacted this week by several people complaining that when they connect to a site, let's use a weather forecast site as an example, they always get an old forecast and have to hit the R&R buttons to get the newest update.  Here's how to correct that inconvenience.  Your version of Netscape or Internet Explorer may be a little different, but I think they are all pretty close through the last few updates.

Netscape:  From Main Menu, Edit, then Preferences, click on the + by the Advanced, then click on Cache.  On the right hand side/bottom where it says,"Document in cache is compared to document on network", click one of the radio buttons to suit your fancy.  "Once per session" is what I use, but if a site you visit frequently also changes rapidly, you may want to use the "Every time" option.

Internet Explorer:  From main Menu, View, then Internet Options, make sure the General tab is selected, then Settings in the middle of the page.  At the top of the page are similar options to Netscape.

01/22 (RE:  Pack Test)
Im wondering what would happen to the fulltimers if they don't pass? I Know about two years ago some engine crews had at least 1 to 2 people fail
per engine. I see also, shortage of other forest service personel also. The forest Service is going to lose out on alot of single resource personel. Slurpy
01/21 AZ, Sorry to hear of your bad experience with "Privates"  I question the
legitimacy of those you meet in 96.  R6 has the thickest contract in the
nation and Private Contactors must meet the same training requirements as
Personnel.  Our Engines and equipment endures rigorous inspections.  Valid
R6 Contractors had in 96 and do today come equiped with "Red Carded"
Personnel and proper equipment including PPE, Fire shelters and Radio"s.

On another note, if I may be critical of the System, We are the last hired
and first fired, experience is hard to come by.  I have far more Wildland
experience in my local rural fire dept than on Incidents.

Integrate Privates into your Team and you will find that we are hard working,
dedicated and willing firefighters not afraid to do the dirty work.  We
love this kind of work, money is secondary but necessary.

I have been in this game since 91 and hopfully my Strike Team might show a
profit next year.  We keep hearing how Privates will be playing a bigger
role in the future-------When?  I have trained enough Firefighters to
supply a small army only to lose them to "burger flipping for lack of work.

Enough negative, Lets work together for safety an effectivness.  And yes I am a
certified instructor.

no name

01/21 Well, I guess it is offical now, the 14 day assignment is now in place.  I 
was told by someone in the big bunkhouse that they had the letter in hand 
announcing the decision.  It will be a full 14 day fire assignment, travel 
will be exclusive of the assignment, so it looks like so instead of 21 days 
away from home, it could be 17 or 18.  I was not told if the R & R policy has 
changed.  I am sure we will find out more as time passes.


10-4 WP, as reported here on 01/06.  Ab.

01/19 In other news. . . I am currently being pestered by intitutions,organizations, and corporations requesting permission to use photos from this website.  It appears as this site grows in global awareness, there are many willing to pay for the rights to use our photos.  I have refused all rights to any photos shown on this site not taken by me unless I have contacted the photographers responsible.

The header on this page is true.  I am without any kind of readers list enabling me to contact those who have volunteered photos.  I will begin keeping a database (private of course) of those of you posting photos.  For the pics already sent in, I will post a message here saying someone has requested the rights to their photo(s).  The requesters are being a little vague on how much they will pay, but I think they should be charged based on several parameters.  Basically, who they are, profit or non-profit, national or local, etc.

Bottom line is that your photos are being seen from a much larger audience than you may have suspected and they may be worth money to you.  The most common current requests are asking for pics of firefighters wearing their personal protective equipment.


01/19 Attention!  This is good news for some of you who have questioned the existence of such a program.  A new training item from a long time reader, contributer, and supporter is now available from this site.  This is a full MS PowerPoint Program for S-130, Firefighter Training.  The program file is quite large at 6+MB.  There are no charges for the download or use of this program and it may be downloaded here: S-130.  A permanent link will be created on the "Programs" page.  If you would like to contribute PPT programs you have done to the cause feel free to contact   gobelj@mail01.dnr.state.wi.us   Ab.
01/19 OK, can't keep quiet any longer..been reading, hearing and seeing lots of 
"just say no" bandwagonning.  Nothing wrong with just saying no..all those 
bushes and trees WILL grow back..houses WILL be rebuilt.  Flesh is harder to 
replace..I don't want to be the supervisor that tells a kids folks that I 
burned up there little one.....BUT along with just saying no we have a 
responsibility as firefighters to figure out and offer fire management 
alternative ways to accomplish the objectives.....an ex-longtime hotshot and 
current airdale slug...

I'm glad your button was finally pushed.  An occassional push of a button on those who think they know it all, those who lurk, and even those who think themselves quite comfortable here is always appropriate.  That is my mission here!  I appreciate your response, and agree with your thoughts.

Sometimes I don't like an assignment.  I normally try to offer alternatives, I may just say no, other times I just nod my head and smile till they go away. . .  and do it my way.  Ab.

01/19 Keith, email me at fire2boo@inu.net and I'll see if i can get you headed
in the right direction in Texas. That is if AZ hasn't scared you off.
01/19 Hello, Just to let you know we have started a wildland firefighter museum in Capitan,N.M. home of the famous Smokey the Bear. We recieved our
M.O.U.from the U.S.F.S. and our looking forward to hearing from all interested. Please see our Home page under our shop name for right now until we
get the museum page complete.  www.smokeybeartoys.com or www.smokeybear-shop.com.
01/19 To Mellie:

Seems that you've found that fire training you were looking for, EXCELLENT!!!!!!! Pass your classes, add 45 pounds to that pack and cover
your 3 miles in 45 minutes and you are mostly there. Then either go to: www.fs.fed.us/people/employ    or call toll free 1-877-813-3476 or
e-mail employment/r4,ateo@fs.fed.us, and request an employment package if you are interested in seasonal firefighting for the FS. th Six
Rivers, Shasta T and several other northern forests are using the national recruitment for the filling of temp fire, and other, positions. And
find your local fire staff folks and make your intrest known!!!! A face with a name always helps.......
The physical agility I mentioned for Feds (FS yet ? ), is the pack test, or to be politically correct, the work capacity test.
3 miles, 45 minutes, 45 pounds...........

to AZ :  You are correct in you assesment of CJ as being much more durable than SOME pure synthetic, but as MS has said....If you
stick to basics you almost cant get into trouble, pay attention to your equipment!!!!!!! Inspection, cleaning and replacement are the keys
here, you dont run your tires until they are on the cords, do you? I hope not, and if you use your equipment to that level of wear then as
they say...  the shit will hit the fan.
 My point is: that if folks are paying attention to what they are doing, well trained as to what to look for and not everyone head down in a
stump hole then you can avoid many, many problems, after all, fires dont just explode into a conflagration without some indicators just like
cars dont explode except in hollywood.
I for one will trade twice the weight for twice the reach when my crew is laying hose and they are drilled and drilled and drilled in the
protection of that line. And consequently the care afterwards, (they hate that part) its a life line as well as a supply line. If the water runs
out?? been there done that!!! Start throwing dirt or know where your escape route and safety zones are!
Back to basics and take advantage of technology! I remember when there were similar disscussions regarding class A

01/18 Ab,

Here's a memorial picture that a neighbor downriver from Denny asked if I could
send--in case some of you who helped our community didn't get to see it. This
sign on the Denny Road thanks firefighters of the Big Bar Complex of fires,

Also--R5 Fire Capt,
What kind of physical agility testing is there? mentioned in your post(1/17)?
We haven't started pulling or rolling hose in class yet and I know there are
performance tests associated with that later. Should I be asking questions about
agility connected with those tests? 

I've been working out by power walking three miles a day and dancing. I'm planning
to add a 35 pound pack to my walk soon, then plan to set an uphill course some
weeks after that. Should I be lifting weights also? (A firefighter friend says
the step test is more psychological than anything if you're in good shape.)
None of the instructors have mentioned training yet, but the second week of
class starts today and I think they've been trying to see who sticks with it.

Wow, you guys train a lot! Me too, at this point...:) Ain't it satisfying to
feel a little burn in your calves!


See the photo here:  Denny Road Dedication , and on the Guest3 Photo Page.  Ab.

01/18 Hey Ab!

A wet Calif. greeting to you. I just could not leave the great Y2K hose debate alone. Synthetic hose is ok for structural type
firefighting, we use 13/4" synthetic on our type 1 equip. and have found it to be a great asset . It is light, easy for one person to
maneuver in the narrow confines of a single family dwelling and can be re-racked wet. In Oct. when we re-supplied our type 3
engine in San Diego, we were given synthetic hose from a CDF station's hose cache. I did not want to use it, but after laying all 1200'
of 11/2" cotton jacket and all 800' of 1" laterals, I had no choice. Needless to say, upon our return to good old FKU ( ICS speak
for Fresno/Kings),we changed the synthetic out for good old cotton.
Cotton vs. synthetic? To each his/her own. Just be aware of where the hose is laid, clean and dry after each fire and test it each
spring!  Stick to the basics of hose and you can't go wrong.

Engineer Emmett
CDF Fire

01/18 oh crap!!

Sorry to have caused such a ruckus RE the synthetic's. To put an end to this 
whole thing, at least on my end, 'cause I'm sure this will not be the last 
comment on hose, since the fire season is right around the corner, let me 
tell you the story about the type 3 getting it's paint blistered and melting 
the code lights.

This occured last year on an unnamed (protecting the inocent!! :o)BLM 
response area somewhere in the Arizona high desert. Small lightning strike
went on to become a a fire about 20 or so acres. Fire in itself was 
contained and an "experienced" federal (protecting the agency, and no, it 
wasn't the BLM folks!) engine crew was in the process of mop up. They 
deployed about 100' of 11/2" synthetic hose line that was utilized during 
the initial attack of the fire. This line remained employed as the crew 
mopped up. Apparently, as the story was told to us, somehow the line was 
stretched across some "hot vegetation" what ever the hell that means, 
causing the hose to burst. At the same time, the wind shifted creating a 
flare up of an island of unburned brush to take off to the races. The engine 
crew was operating in the black, but had position the engine in close 
proximity to the island, resulting in, well, let say, an embarassment to a 
local crew. (Anyone tell these guys about burnout op's??)
The "accident report" which was held internaly by the fed agency in 
question, commented on the "fact" that if the crew had deployed the "much 
stronger and reliable" cotton jacket hose, this incident could have turned 
out differently.

Sounds like a bunch of BS to me, but, like I said this is what was told to 
me. Now, in our case (my district),yes you are absolutly correct in stating 
that our crew was too close to the fire. After some corrected "can do" 
attitude adjustment, and some remeadial training on running attacks with 
engines, my people are a little more educated as to the limitations of all 
hose lines deployed, not only on our rigs, but everyone else's hosepacks and 
loads in the county.

In closing, I truly believe that cotton jacked hose is more sturdier (is 
that even a word?), more reliable, and can stand up to the constant 
deploying and reloading and cleaning that occurs on every fire. Also bear in 
mind, I also believe in the fact that cotton jacketed hose last much longer 
(seasons or years, what ever you prefer) than syntetic's. That comes into 
play when it's budget time!

Ok, the ball's in your court!

AZ Trailblazer

01/17 Give me a break! The synthetic hose caused the fire to burn up the
Engine! The synthetic hose caused the fire to jump the road and required
escape behind the Engine! I am glad that I am nearing retirement age.
What ever happened to individual responsibility, what ever happened to
baseing tactics on the current fire behavior, what ever happened to
posting lookouts, Etc. Hose burns up because something went wrong. It is
not the hose's fault. I have less problems with synthetic hose than
cotton hose. When synthetic hose gets a pin hole all that happens is
that you loose a little water. When cotton hose gets a pin hole you know
it will break very soon. Don't blame the hose! Look at why the hose
burned up and learn what you did wrong! GO BACK TO THE BASICS!
01/17 hey ab! its been a while. that's my ugly backside in the NJ crew shot for 
1-14-2000. myself and my crewboss was the ones cut off by a blowup. in the 
picture, i was looking for a place to change my underwear! on the comments on
plastic hose-i love it. we have drug our hose through hot embers, across hot 
exhaust and anything else you can think of. any type of hose can fail at any 
time. it takes responsible fire fighters to make any piece of equipment work. 
if the time is taken to inspect your hose after an incident your chances of 
failure will decrease. many times i have seen hose (equipment in general) 
thrown back on only to have it fail at a later time because the hose wasn't 
inspected! crap happens on the job! i have had cotton jacket hose fail for 
the same reasons as plastic hose. different strokes for different folks.
back to the picture: the incident was filmed by a news crew and the footage 
was to be sent to Boise to be turned into a training video. i would like a 
copy of the raw footage for training in my department. any clues on how i 
could get a copy? or anyone who could help me get a copy? 
                                                           keep up the good 
work ab!    BC Davis
01/17        Earlier this month I wrote an opinion piece for High Country News's 
wire service about the Sadler Fire, based on the official investigative 
report by the BLM and the subsequent report by OSHA.  Since that piece 
appeared, questions have been raised on this website and elsewhere about the 
integrity of the investigative report  -- whether it told the "whole story," 
and even whether it was fundamentally true.
    Further, it appears that for several decades crews have regularly 
exercised the option to Just Say No. I was aware that refusals occasionally 
happened in the past, but they appear to have been more common, at least in 
recent decades, than I knew or reported.
     This is a serious enough situation to warrant a more thorough reporting 
job than the one I did for the opinion piece.  I am doing a more extended 
story on the Sadler Fire for Wildland Firefighter Magazine -- they asked and 
I accepted.
     It is in everyone's interest to have a thorough, independent account of 
what did and did not happen on the Sadler Fire, regardless of whether it 
confirms and expands on, or conflicts with, the official version of events. I 
cannot tell the story without cooperation from you in the firefighting 
community. Anonymous accusations don't make it.
    What actually happened when the hotshot crews "declined" the assignment 
to light the backfire -- who said what to whom? What were the incident 
objectives for that day? What sort of outside pressure, from ranchers and 
politicians, was on the supervisory team?  What happened on the National Park 
Service crew that resulted in their accepting an overly dangerous assignment? 

    If you have factual information -- personal knowledge about the fire, 
sources who might be helpful, that sort of thing -- please e mail me at 
    John N. Maclean


Ab, I have to take a bit of time to bash at you a bit regarding your comments about synthetic hose and finding another job...........
I have been running engine crews for 10+ years now, (oh god has it been that long?), and using synthetic based hose for initial attack and
mop up. Yeah I must admit we've had our failures, mostly due to somone not paying attention to what they were doing, but nothing as
severe as that mentioned previously in your site. If your hose melts you are too damn close! Or , you're not using reliable hose type.
Spend a little extra on someting that wont melt in the sun! Cotton jacket has its place for sure but the new combinations are the wave of
the future.
 As for the comment on the smaller, etc persons, yeah that is true to a point , however anyone that can pass the physical agility testing
deserves to be able to try the job. I've had large, well built men give it up because it was too difficult and small built women kick some
serious ass on initial attack and lay CJ and Synth to make you cry as well as take more smoke, throw more dirt and extinguish more fire
than some other crews I've not had the pleasure of working with. So give up the "little" attitude! I would give my first ot for some of
the small people I've had on crews to still be with me now! All of which stood less than 5'6" and 110 lbs. I guess its another case of the
best go elsewhere and get "real" jobs where they can have family and "free" time. The rest of us, who have had the unfortunate malady of 
hoping that someone will learn about us and love us for who we are. Fear not though! We firefighters are becoming the most respected
and  popular people in this country, in part due to web sites such as this and some of the publicity we are getting these days. ( Did you
check out some of the fire fighter toys offered this x-mas season?) And of course due to some of our very dear fans such as 5 Waters! Thanks!
And dont get me started on Fed rake offs! My forest had a rake off to the tune of 600K for the coming year, we've been researching where
it went.......... still can't find it. maybe its the new supervisors office??? Yeah that impacts us Big Time, I cant even buy a freakin' roll of
chute cord more or less go to some cutting edge training. Heaven help us if we hire a new engine capt. from any distance, last hire cost
us 20K!!! That screws me for damn near 1/2 a year salary, or temp fire fighters for a fire season! And...... Wo is talking about why we cant
support large fires...........and ....... beefing up initial attack, at 60% of MEL??? Who are they kidding??? Themselves I guess.........
Well enough soapbox . Keep your heads up and looking around everyone, if it doesnt snow we'll all be back in norcali next season, that is
if we're not living in so cali first!


I stand corrected regarding the adjectives I used referring to physical limitations of firefighters.  They were inappropriate and failed to project my intended thoughts.  Hasty, late night maintenance of the site may be the blame.  I realize and agree with the ideal that "desire" and "committment" in a firefighter can overcome initial perceived physical limitations.  I have taken the liberty of modifying my comment, but am unable to change my opinion of synthetic hose near the fireline on initial attack.  Ab.

01/17 Ab,

Thanks for the info on the GGNRA "3" crew that was involved in the Sadler 
Incident. My letter to this forum made it to the Presidio Fire Department 
and the wildland folks across the bridge over at the Marin Healdlands and I 
got the answers I was looking for from my old fire brothers. Again, thanks.

To the folks that are still using or thinking of spending (waisting) $ on 
synthetic hose, please, for the safety of your crews, DON'T EVEN THINK OF 
PUTTING THAT CRAP ON YOUR ENGINES!!!!! After one local  incident which 
resulted in the loss of a type 3 engine and some pretty excited 
firefighters, our district ONLY deploys cotton jacketed 1" and 1 1/2" hose. 
I still know that the FS guys up the road utilizes "synthetic's" in their 
hose packs, but I think thats about it. My guys do have to watch out for 
these hose packs, due to the interagency coop that we have here. We have 
thrown hose packs for a mile to find that we were handed "syntetic's" toward 
the hotter part of the flanks. What a lesson that was!


Your question regarding private contractors and info on it, first and 
foremost, watch what you get yourself into. Yea, the potential for big money 
and some great excitment may sound inticing, but as time and weather 
patterns move on, you may have a lot of overhead (not fire camp overhead)and 
some very expensive equipment sitting out on your lawn not doing anything as 
wet thunderboomies come rolloing into your area.
Also, for God's sake, PLEASE train your people to NWCG standards. I 
personally (speaking as a strike team leader) have a lot of reservations 
when dealing with "privates". In '96 on the Horseshoe Fire on the Coconino, 
my engine met up with some "private" from R-6. These poor fools had no idea 
where they were, no radio, and not a single shelter amongst the three 
firefighters. I was the engine boss on that particular assignment and 
quickly brought the situation to our strike team leader. Come to find out, 
they were actually assigned to another division, had no idea who their 
strike team leader was, or, you'll love this one, the NAME OF THE FRICK'IN
FIRE!!!!! Just who in the hell let these guys out of fire camp in the first 
place?!?!?!? Scary stuff, my friend, very scary stuff.
Here in AZ, Rural/Metro is the biggest private wildland contractor in the 
state. We have a few "mom & pop" operations here (similiar to Oregon's I-5 
corrider group), but they payed their dues and promote a very professional 
and highly trained group of guys and gals.
Once you get your capital expenditures (equipment) and training your newly 
hired firefighters, remember as a private, your responsible for all the book 
keeping, insurance, the political influence (networking) needed to keep the 
assignments coming in, and will be held accountable for any accidents, 
foul-ups, or bar room brawls that your firefighters may encounter during 
their assignment. A good sound business plan will help out a lot. Oh, by the 
way, did I mention that you may want to retain an attorney at law for any
possible litigation that may come knocking on your door. God, I love working 
for the County!!! :)
Kieth, in all seriousess, I don't mean to discourage your future endeavors 
as a professional contract firefighting group, but depending on how involved 
you want to become in this business, play around as a county or fed 
firefighter to gain the inside knowledge of the upper management side of the
house. Good luck and be safe!

AZ Trailblazer

01/17 Hey Ab I found this one while shuffling through some old photos at my folks..........
Its Quincy Ca. in the 40's at my best guess. The fire scar is behind what is now Feather River College and stretches nearly to Snake
I found it interesting and hope that maybe someone would know the name of the burn and maybe the year? All of my sources were either
not there due to war or not born yet...
Quincy Fire-40's
  R5 Firecapt

Great old photo, hopefully an "old dog" will know.  Ab.

01/17 All  National Park Service collateral duty firefighters who are age 55
or over now fall under NPS Directive P1815(2653).  This means that you
will not be able to participate in any arduous duty fire activities.

This action may have an adverse effect on your job mobility and may be
considered to be an act of age discrimination.  If you agree, please
write to your congress persons using the attached draft letter or one
that you compose.  Information is being gathered to see how many are
affected by this action.

If you are affected by this action, please write sending your name, age,
e-mail address, and the NPS facility that you are employed at
to:           <twooldforfire@netscape.net>

Also see the document included with this message here:  NPS Directive Response  Ab.

01/16 To Fireball,
  We tried the synthetic attack lines here for awhile and gave them up real quick.We found out that they were real susceptable to burnthrough,luckily
as in the case you mention no firefighters were hurt.The other thing we found is that when the synthetics get wet,they are about as easy to hold on to
as an eel.
  On another note I have a question that I hope someone can help me with.I have been trying to get information on starting a firefighting contractor
group here in TX.I can't find anyone in our state forestry service that can tell me where to start at.Any help would be greatly appreciated.
01/15 HI Ab,
I have been quiet for a while but now it is time to speak.  I don't know
if John Maclean is still looking at this site but this is directed to
him.  "Wildland firefighters can just say no" was a poorly researched
article and is not factual.  I personally liked John's book.  Not all of
the facts were reveiled but it is a good historical record.  But why
this editorial?  Were you trying to sell more books?  I have been a
wildland firefighter since '74.  Saying no has always been a option to
those who are concerned about there lives.  I have done so many times. 
The worst that has happened is that I was assigned to a mop up Division.
Big deal, at least I am still alive.  Every summer I hear more and more
stories about crews having to say NO!  Mr Maclean, you should be asking
WHY!  WHY are fire supervisors still trying to send crews into death
traps!  WHY are these fire supervisors not retrained or removed from
there positions!  I am tired of hearing about crews that need to say NO!

Speak on MS!.  Ab.

01/15 Here's something I never heard of,  but could affect us all, as here in Southern California more and more engine crews are using exclusively synthetic
1 1/2" hose for attack lines : 
after speaking to one of the investigators of a near miss in south San Diego County where engines were firing and holding 
a road when a flare-up impinged on their position, it appears that in the heat of the battle the 30' 1 1/2" mobile attack line made of synthetic hose
melted and failed, leaving the holding crews with a large flame front and no water.  They escaped with minor injuries by shielding behind engines
which sustained paint and plastic damage only, and the fire went over the road obviously.  I've been on hoselays where synthetic hose failed after
contact with hot embers, etc, but I never heard of it failing so quickly after brief direct flame contact! This does not bode well for the way we fight
fire in Southern Cal. 
Fireball XL5

Synthetic hose has the attractive values of being lightweight and easily deployed.  It also has the characteristics of being easily kinked and as you mentioned, easily burned.  Let me see now. . . when did that type hose begin showing up where I was fighting fire?  Oh, I recall. . . it was during the "consent decree" era in Region 5.   I remember the excitement of the synthetic hose and how it was viewed as having the potential to overcome a perceived "barrier" to the recruitment and employment of those unable to perform with the existing equipment.  If your engine is using synthetic hose on initial attack as the trunk line, I'd look for a job elsewhere.  By the way, where was the engine protection line?  Ab.

01/14 More new Photos:
Grand Junction A/T liftoff
Stockwell Fire
Pike Hotshot Logo

Very nice flamage on the Stockwell photo, thanks Tim!  All photos added to Guest3 page.  Ab.

01/14 New Photo:  NJ Crew
 New Jersey Crew 1 firefighters on the Boone Hut Fire Danial Boone Nat 
Forest Stanton Kentucky. Approx 2 min after photo was taken a major blow up 
caused the firefighters to evacuate this position. Minutes later the fire 
blew over this burn out operation as firefighters evacuated. Everyone made it 
out 2 crew members got cut off for approx 30 minutes but made it out safely.

Photo added to Guest3 page, thanks, Ab.

01/14 Old Fire Guy et al., 
Guess it was a poor choice of words on my part.  Instead of hoping against 
hope, let's learn from our mistakes like you said.  I've learned a lot from a 
lot of mistakes, some of them my own.  Every fire, I learn something new, or
re-affirm something old.  Hopefully everyone does.  When we become stagnant 
then safety will suffer.  Yes, I'm committed to safety and if we all are, 
then tragedies and near misses will not occur.  Teach Away!  We can learn 
lessons from a poor report as well as a good one, although I'd take the good 
one any day.   Sorry that my word is not good enough for you.  I'd be more 
than happy to sign a statement that corrects some of the inaccuracies of the 
Sadler report, at least the ones I'm aware of anyway.  I think I will, but
would that make my statements any more believable? 

You wrote a very good note, by the way.  I know my response won't satisfy you 
but it is all I can do at the moment.   Gotta run.


01/13 Hi all,

Your fire pup is back with a new and improved Acronym vocabulary! You all 
might have thought my helping Mellie out with Acronyms woulda shut me up fer 
a while... NOT! Okay so I, like Mellie had made a small promise not to post 
for a while, guess that didn't work!

To Noname who responded on 1/11, thanks for the vote of confidence, and for 
clearing that up some. I do however humbly remind all I only have very 
limited fire expierience, only remotley comprable with what you Old Dogs do.

Want to thank Doc Moleskin and AZ Trailblazer for responding so quickly on 
the Acronyms, a few less holes for me to fill on the sheet, for the rest of 
you I'll have the page, holes or not, done in the next two days, and, Ab 
willing, hope to keep it updated as long as I can.
Thanks Mellie for letting me help out, and don't knock all us youngsters 
yet... there is an aphorism 'Youth and Wisdom are rarely combined'. In a few
month's you'll get used to us guys...

Tiny, the someday R6 Fire pup

01/12 Check the FWFSA web site and click on "Notices".  New info is posted there on recent developments.  We are always looking for help to get the word
out!  Instead of complaining, jump in with both feet and help!!!!!!!  We welcome you!!!!!!  Don't wait to be told, ask what you can do!!!!! 


OK, here I go with two feet.  Here is a link to the latest posting under "Notices" on the FWFSA web site:

Here's a link to join up with the FWFSA:

Here is good information from the archives:


01/12 Mellie,

Nice to read all your words, don't edit yourself (that's what Ab's for!) 

ALS is Advanced Life Support

There are basically three levels of Emergency Medical Technicians (E.M.T.) in 
the country.  There is the EMT-B(basic), EMT-I (intermediate), and the EMT-P 
(paramedic).  There may be regional differences in the terminology, and scope 
of practice, but those are the basic levels of certification.

EMT-B's, basically do your basic first aid:  Splinting, bandaging, Oxygen 
therapy, assisting a patient in taking medications prescribed for them by a 
doc, spinal stablization, etc.... when you say EMT, usually you are referring 
to these folks.

EMT-I's are the next step on the certification ladder.  These folks can 
initiate regular intra-venous fluids (but not medications).  The clinical
signifigance of this is kinda complicated but that is very useful to a 
patient who might be in shock...

EMT-P's are the highest level of training one can get in the EMS field.  In 
some states they are MICP's (Mobile Intensive Care Paramedics), meaning they 
can do some pretty specialized things.  Basically, they bring the tools and 
medications of the Emergency Room with them.  They have communication with 
the ER doc, and can give medications, start IV's, and a whole bunch of highly 
skilled tasks.  Their training is a lot more in depth, also. 

Usually, on the wildland fire crews you have EMT-B's.  The main reason is the 
logistics of the equipment that an "I" or a "P" would need to be effective in
the field.  I mean, who's gonna carry all that junk?  Of course, there is a 
trend in certain agencies for a paramedic, who can carry some of the meds
etc, but that won't catch on for a couple of reasons I.M.O (in my opinion), 
chief among them the cost, secondly the logistics of providing medications... 
 I sense that I may be starting a debate here, but I just don't see it 
catching on for the crew based EMT to be an EMT P.  Perhaps in the base camp, 
but who want's to sit in camp???  <grin>

Dr. Moleskin

P.S.  I'm a Registered Nurse/EMT-B, but I chose not to take the route of the 
Medical Unit Leader, because I don't want to get stuck in camp staring at 
blisters on feet.... Not that as a crew based EMT, I don't see feet problems 
(hence the nickname), but at least they are the feet of my friends and 
crewmates.  ;)  Operations is much more fun than logistics.

01/12 Mellie,

My goodness, my deepest apologies to you and everyone else who has troubles 
with aconyms. I suppose that since I've been in the fire service for 13 
years, carded as a strike team leader, a fire captain/ paramedic for Mayer 
Fire District (county funded) and hold a BS in fire safety management and a 
MS in Public Administration, I assumed that those of us who venture into 
this site for info, to tell stories, or just to "vent" know what some of 
those acronyms would be understood. Silly me, just what in the heck was I 

So Millie, to answere your question regarding ALS gear, ALS is a commonly 
known Acronym meaning Advanced Life Support, which is a level of care 
provided by IEMT's (ooops! sorry, Intermediate Emergency Medical 
Technicians) and Paramedics (self explained). Now, there is something out 
there called BLS, you guessed it, Basic Life Support, which inturn refers to 
Basic EMT's (see above). In reference to the gear that we "ALS" providers 
would and do sometimes carry on our apparatus, this would include advanced 
airway adjuncts, life saving medications (drug box) cardiac monitoring and 
defibulator (that cool toy that makes the unconcious body do the funkie 
chicken on "ER"...NOT!)and so on. Here in Arizona, the capital of blue 
haired people and snow bird's (elderly), paramedics on wildland engines and 
hand crews are becoming the norm, at least for the city, county, and private 
fire service. This is due to the large number of EMS (damn it, I did it 
again, Emergency Medical Service) calls that most fire departments run. Here 
at the Mayer Fire District, we run mostly EMS and wildland calls, hence the 
idea of paramedics on our type 6 and 3 engines. Most of the fed engine and 
hand crews are providing BLS care, due to the fact that most of the 
seasonals are attempting to get on full time with a "structure" fire agency.

I hope that I have beat a dead horse into the ground on this subject. Now,
on to other issues. I was recently at our Prescott Basin Wildland Operations 
Group meeting when I was speaking with one of the Battalion Chief's (BC's) 
from another fire district. He asked me a question regarding the Sadler 
Complex incident in regards to the NPS crew. He indicated to me that the 
crew in question was from the Golden Gate Nat Rec Area (GGNRA). I worked as 
one of the first firefighter paramedics at the Presidio Fire Department 
(GGNRA) back in '94-'95 when the NPS took over the old army post. Can anyone 
confirm the info that the crew at Sadler was from the GGNRA. It would mean
alot to me. Thanks, and lets be safe!
AZ Trailblazer

Thanks for the info AZ, or is it EZ?  Just kidding, here is a cut & paste from the Sadler report:

On August 5, 1999, the National Park Service (NPS) Pacific West
Region assembled a Type II hand crew, called Golden Gate 3
(GNP3), at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in
San Francisco, California. The crew consisted of 21 members
from the following NPS units in California: Santa Monica
Mountains NRA (4); Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park (5);
Yosemite National Park (3); Lassen National Park (1); Lava Beds
National Monument (1); and parks around the Bay Area (7).

01/12 Spencer,
Okay, let's talk about commitment to safety.  Next week I'm teaching S-330 to a combination of state and federal folks.  Part of our presentation will
include review of Sadler.  We need to learn from mistakes and put that learning into practice, not just hope against hope.   So I'm faced with the
following:  I can believe and present what is in the official report, assembled from interviews, witness statements and logs.....or I can believe that there
exists a vast conspiracy amongst the investigating team members to discredit those who were cited for error, and do so based on falsified or bad
information.    OR (Here's where you come in)  YOU can present more than unsubstantiated statements;and help us all in the field learn what really
happened.   Then we can use that knowledge to better avoid situations that occurred and resulted in injury.   Please Spencer, I am not questioning
your integrity, I am asking that (if indeed the report is erroneous) you have the courage and commitment to help correct that.  And do so by
establishing factual signed statements from those on the scene.   If our commitment to safety of our co-workers is genuine, we need to be willing to
make the effort do bring forth the facts however discomforting they may be, and even at risk to one's career.  And I've known firefighters that would
risk their life without hesitation, but feared to speak against overhead lest they lose a promotion opportunity.  I don't know your situation.  I do know
that the people on the line deserve nothing less than the substantiated truth.    Old Fire Guy
01/12 I appreciate the information that I can get from of reading the comments in this forum, alot of which I cannot find anywhere else; however, I get tired
of people haggling over CDF vs. other.  I don't really care for these people bellyaching and it makes your website less valuable, especially to people
who do not live in California.

I hope you can keep posting information such as specifics on shelter deployments, other safety happenings and details of fires, crews, etc..  I know it
takes alot of work to host a site like this; thank's, Dave.

There hasn't been much discussion on that issue in a while, but when you have the two largest fire departments in the world working side by side a few issues are bound to flare up.  You are always welcome to begin a new thread.  Ab.

01/12 Hi-

After Tiny's comment about the frequencies and lengths of his posts and mine,
I SWORE I would just lurk for a week. Oh well-

I'm in S190 (and S130, public safety and first aid, CPR, rope rescue techniques,
topo map use and some other things) and just loving (NOT) all the very young
17 to 19 year olds in the class. (Sorry, Tiny, you're OK!) I knew I was in trouble
when the CDF instructor started asking about overhead and she meant the projector!
Could be a long time until May!

I've gone through all the old archives. Tiny is working thru them too and checking
me. There are a lot of acronyms, some of which Tiny and I know, like BS, SOB,
ICBDC (incident command by dispatch console, of course!) and OD (old dog) along
with the regular ones. 

Then there are others that leave much open to the imagination, such as the following:

  ALS   Doc Moleskin and Tim from Mayer Fire Dist in AZ, what is Advanced Life
  Support (ALS) gear?

  SWOFFT how about it?

  CPA "benefits for all employees including temporaries available thru CPA" Tonka
  (4/1/98), we want to know who!

  CWCG CA Wildfire Coordinating Group?

  FAT    Sting (6/22/99), some kind of a roster? Or the site at Hanford CA (FRESNO-FAT)
  (one of many that produces the fire weather forecasts?

   Ah, now we feel like we KNOW YOU ALL so much better--- Dig back in those archives
  and pull out the meanings, you old fire dogs-If they're fit to print, they'll
  end up on Ab's Acronym page.

  Stay tuned. There are more unknown ACRONYMS-What else do you expect from Tiny
  and me-we're just trying to do this in digestible pieces.  And, like, have it
  done YESTERDAY! Oh, and I didn't tell you that I'm a cognitive stress psychologist
  who researches firefighter posts to the web for jollies.

  On a more serious note, I may have a free trip to Washington DC in the spring.
  The reason I would actually take the trip is to get a chance to go visit the
  NIFC office, if there is one there, and to talk to people (GUVMINT and Forest)
  about MEL-which I think is about the stupidest counterproductive unsafe policy
  THAT I'VE EVER HEARD OF! (As my little brother would say, Uh Oh, Mellie is raising
  her voice and gearing up for the yelling stage.) Can anyones of you out there
  tell me to whom I should direct my OUTRAGE if I get to go and can schedule it
  around my fire classes? I clean up good and appear to have some CLOUT.

  See-Tiny, we did good-less than 700 words
  Mellie from Five Waters

01/12 To Lurker,  glad to see you up and about. Its been awhile since we've heard 
from you I'm thinking.   There is absolutely no speculation involved in my 
statements about Sadler, sorry.  My source is quite impeccable.  Apparently 
the Supt. that told you about the assignment declination didn't quite get the 
story straight.  Not his fault, he wasn't on scene at the time so I know he 
got it second hand, or maybe third hand and you know how stories can change 
when they pass thru different lips.  I guess we will never be sure of all the 
facts that day.  One thing we can be sure of is that we are all safety 
conscious individuals and hope against hope that episodes like South Canyon 
and Sadler don't ever happen again, and I mean not ever, and they can be 
avoided, you know as well as I, by proper training, proper planning, proper 
decisonmaking,  proper communications, proper attitudes, and by following the 
guiding principles, that they can be, so we really shouldn't bicker about it 
now should we? 

You said in an earlier missive that you got your information directly from 
the Division Supervisor that day.  I'm wondering which one, there were only 
about four of them running around that day on Division Q.

To Ab, thanks again for the wonderful site and letting us all air it out.

To John M,  You might not have all the facts straight but keep it up, I like 
your style and the beneficial thinking it generates.

To the rest of you that are out there, lets hear from you.


01/11 The FWFSA is alive and well.  There is a board meeting this month, so an Anchor Point is forthcoming.


Perhaps a discussion on web site maintenance and responsibilities should be on the agenda.  Ab.

01/10 To Spencer:
>From your last note, I'm guessing that you must have missed it when I
wrote here that I'd talked to most of the people involved with the
Sadler entrapment.  I was in Nevada the day of the entrapment and I
was at the Sadler fire the next day and I spent over a week there. 
One of the hotshot superintendents told me directly that the two
hotshot crews declined the assignment to fire the line until it was
secured.  He also gave a written statement saying the same thing to
the investigation team.  Your source told you one thing, the hotshot
supe told me another, and for what it's worth, Shepard didn't
contradict the HS supe. 

I'm only saying what was told to me by the people that were there. 
You can choose to believe it or not, but as you've noted, inaccuracies
and speculation should be avoided - so you should be very sure that
your opinions are based on fact and that you are not speculating.  It
seems like you're basing your contention on your feeling that you
don't think someone would have done something.  That's hardly a basis
to accuse people of lying - you should have facts if you're going to
do that. 

To 6:
Thanks for sharing that link to the Maclean story. 

To Bear:
The BLM has a mandated limit on the amount of funding that can be
raked off the fire program for administrative support - 10%.  The FS
does not have a limit.  But hey, you ought to see what some of the
regional offices rake off before the forests get a whack at it. 

It can be a real struggle to keep other people's fingers out of the
fire pie.  That story about the FMO that shut down the "free" radio
service for the non-fire folks was pretty interesting. 

And to everyone else:
The BLM, BIA, and Park Service (and I think the FWS) have been using
the pack test fitness test for the last two seasons - no step
testing.  The Forest Service is the only major federal wildfire agency
that is using the step test.  I'm an old guy (approching 50 in a
couple years), I live WAY above sea level, and I pass with no
problems.  I run most every day. 

Finally to Ab,
You should be proud of this web site - it provides a great forum where
people can hold discussions that are really interesting and probably
kind of important.  The discussions these last few months are very

The lurker FMO

Thanks Lurker, and thanks for your quality posts.  Ab.

01/10 Keith,

Good for you and the Bullard Fire Department on your FEEP water tender. I 
still love the idea that a few volunteers with some very ingenious ideas can 
take something old and worn out from the military and turn it in to a piece
of firefighting equipment that will benefit not only your department and 
comuunity, but at a great financial benefit to your department's budget.

In reference to the comment's to the on again/off again FS perception of the 
pack test, I have just heard (just this last Tuesday) that R-3 will be back 
to the pack test, at least here in AZ. I have understood that the test will 
be given out to all FS (fire) employees. For those that are over the age of
40, those folks will have to undergo an additional stress test (cardiac EKG) 
with their usual annual physical prior to the pack test.

Our Fire District (Mayer AZ) was one of the first fire departments to do the 
pack test. I was very happy to see that 96% of our firefighters were able to 
complete the test in times less than 40 minutes. Now, these folks were some 
of who that could not pass the infamous step test on the first try. 
Something should be said to that. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if 
one really wants to fight fire, one needs to stay in shape. Its easy for me
to say that, because I work for a county fire district and part of our daily 
duties include manditory 1.5 hour PT. I know how hard it is for seasonals to 
keep up with the pt.

01/10 Concerning FWFSA and the fed pay fairness act of "99" There is a complete 
lack of dissemination of information to firefighters on the ground, for some 
unknown reason? Swartzlander has battled hard for our cause and when change 
is supposedly arouund the corner, no news whatsoever? Someone out there has 
to let the cat out of the bag. What in the hell is the deal? Is it timing? 
Congress? or our agency? I keep asking but I am getting zero information on 
the congressional findings. Is it because it is to hard to be honest with 
folks? or is it to early to flap information. Somebody out there knows and 
needs to come out with the facts. It has been over four ugly months now and 
it's making me pretty weary?   Jeffsz00tv
01/10 Mellie, thanks for the comments.  Regarding the 180
club, it is a not a real organization, just a term
coined by well educated 455/462 fire fighters (myself
included).  As far as firefighting mucking up our
careers, that was meant tonge-in-cheek.  It is/was a
choice that we made, and while I am not making the
money that my education allows for, I could have made
much worse life decisions.

I would tend to strongly disagree with you on your
refusal statements.  Most Supts, Crew Bosses, Engine
Captains, Smokejumper in Charges (is that a real
word?) know how to take a situation where an unsafe
act is directed and turn it into a discussion where a
better plan is conceived.  The real skillful people
are able to make it seem like it was the IC's or Div
Sup's idea to begin with.  (These are the same people
who are able to tell you go go to Hell in such a way
to make you look forward to the trip.)  Fire tactic
decision making has always been a collaberative
process, some people realizing it more so than others.

Tiny, are you planning on working fire in the summer
while you go to school?  It is better than saying "Do
you want fries with that?" for a living.  You asked if
Mr. Maclean has been on the fire line since the
Saddler Fire.  As I understand it (John, corrct me if
I am wrong) Mr. Maclean has never been a fire fighter,
on the fireline, or had any personal experience in
fire suppression.  You have more understanding of what
it is really like.  You can talk to people until the
cows come home about being on fires, but until you are
there...   This editorial has convinced me that
Maclean has decided to try to ride the graves of
firefighter fatalities into some type niche for him to
fill.  He is now speaking with the voice of authority
about things that he has no experience in. (noname)

01/10 Mellie, as best as I can find. AD is for adminstratively determined.
01/09 M2, "Boo" is with the Texas Forest Service, state agency, I think you
will find that there are several state agencies that have been using the
pack test for some time now.

On the 14 vs 21 day assignment issue. I read a study that I beleive BIA
conducted, which showed about 70% of their accidents occured after the
14th day. But, if this does go into effect then the cost of fire
fighting just went up.

Here are some more facts according to a FS Briefing Paper from F&AM although it is over a year old.

  • Less than 2% (278) of fires in a severe year (1994) exceeded 14 days.
  • 589 folks surveyed indicate home unit impacts and personal/family issues far outweigh safety and cost issues.
  • 65% of female militia want 14 day and 65% of male militia want no change.
Huh?  Family. . . what's up with that?  Ab.
01/09 I said it once, and I'll say it again.  Don't believe everything you read, 
especially you, John Maclean.   The Sadler Incident investigation report is 
inaccurate.   The hotshot crews did not,  and I mean did not refuse the 
burn-out assignment, although yes, they had the perfect right to.  I really 
don't believe that Shepard ordered them to perform that task, then when they 
refused, ordered an inferior and seemingly unqualified resource to do the
same critical assignment.   Anybody that knows him knows that he just doesn't 
work that way.  What a bunch of hogwash!  The IHC's had some concerns about
safety zones that were being dealt with then all 3 crews were diverted by the 
Branch Director to other assignments than were intended for them.   Everyone
is entitled to an opinion but we need to be mindful that opinions should be 
based on the facts.  Stop perpetuating the lies and inaccuracies that show up 
in that report and.  Find out the truth before you embarrass yourself by
spouting bs.


01/09 I am currently a student in grand rapids Minnesota. I have signed up for firefighting classes in hopes that it will land me a job. I am willing
to work hard and travel if you can help me or have any advice please reply. 
                                                                Thank you,
                                                                               Isaac Winkelman (ikemeg@uslink.net)

Please see the response two messages down.  Last one, I swear.  Ab.

01/09 Greetings all again... the firepup with an update...

Looks like I have a pretty strong chance of heading back to the Okanogan
Highlands again this year, that is, as soon as I finish with the paperwork 
(*pause for mutter*) surrounding staffing at a summer camp. I'll be sure to 
get a picture  of the scorched area where the fire there took place. 
Returned to the root fire site in the local area, found it was still warm, 
maybe from decay, but regardless we shoved another two gallons of water down 
that thing's throat. We had an engine crew out today from the parks service 
(okay I'm not sure on the official agency, but it's a start) to look at it, 
they said to keep an eye on it and got recalled to the park to clear a
fallen tree across the roadway there.

Mellie, if you want any help with the Acronym thing, I have pretty decent 
web-page skills and I can spend time helping sift through the archives, 
maybe we can work together on it? (It can't hurt me any to learn them as 
well, you can send an email to rangertiny@hotmail.com so we won't take up 
ab's space with this *grin*)

Also, Mellie, reading your lengthy posts (I'm glad I'm not the only one who 
has that tendency.) I found the one about the new firefighters being 
attracted to OT. I don't know bout any one else, but I think that the 'warm 
fuzzy feeling' you can get inside outweighs that of the monetary reward for 
the job, and although I may sound crazy, it's the kind of job I'd like to 

Ahem... getting back to recent discussion(s) concerning funding, I was 
wondering if anyone had seen the latest copy of Government Executive 
magazine, it has an article regarding the Forest Service making an 
enterprise out of the trees. Does anyone know more on this? Maybe it'll help 
some.. of course more than likely any revenue it'll make will get swallowed 
in a black hole somewhere.

Pack test - 3 miles in 45 minutes with a load weight of (Okay I got lost 
here)on level ground eh? Sounds like fun, and a lot easier than hefting 
about 80 lbs up down and across the Cascade Mountains like I did 3 years 
ago. Also, I thouroughly dislike the running tests, maybe that's why I like 
the sound of it, anyhow... Sounds to me like someone doesn't want to change 
up there in management, probably afraid of the paperwork (or maybe the paper 

Thanks again Ab and all firefighters.

The someday Region 6 fire-pup,


01/09     Ok, I am very intrested in getting into the department of forestry, would 
you know where I can get more information so I can further my research to 
capture my dream? 
thanks, untitled40@aol.com

See the "Jobs" section on the "Links" page.  Contact your State department of forestry, contact the local community college or fire department for training.  This is the first and last message on "how do I become a firefighter" I'll be posting this year.  Ab.

01/09 No one in reasonable good shape should worry about the pack test.  Our
Conservation and Forestry departments have required the pack test for the
past three years.  Everyone does fine.  I have only seen two people not
pass and both were overweight and smokers.  Most folks pass with two to
nine minutes ahead of the 45-minute limit.  We also have fire staff that
pass with flying colors despite being short (around 5'2"), granted they
probably take twice as many strides as the rest of us. 

I think it's funny that I work for a state agency in the Southeast (i.e.
Region 8 of USFS) that has used the pack test since it was released, yet
the feds in our region still don't use it. 

Anyway...go practice a few times and get used to the weight and you'll be
surprised how well you do.

Ab, thanks for a great page and keep up the good work.


01/09 In comment to Bear's reply to my posting.  When I read your comment about 
fire crews doing non-fire work and not being funded it made me smile and 
think about what happened a few years ago in this part of the country.  Fire
funding got cut and one district had to cut its summer dispatch staff, it got 
into a coop arrangement with another agency so fire dispatch was not 
effected.  But you should have heard the uproar from the other folks in the 
district.  "Who is going to answer the radio for my summer rec workers" or 
"Who is going to be on the line for the timber folks?"  The FMO just said 
"come up with the funds and we can do something, you have been getting a free 
ride for years and now is time to pay."  Well, they did not come up with any 
money but somehow they survived.

Same thing with Search and Rescue, one district in the local forest gets hit
hard with SAR, but no funds to support the effort, so fire and rec have to 
eat the expense.

01/09 Hey Ab,
  Please forgive me if I mess up on this as it is my first try at scanning and sending images
      This is our main tender here at our sta.We obtained it through the FEPP program. 

It looks fine Keith, heres the link (clickme) and it will find a home on the Guest 3 page.  Ab.

01/09   No one has said much in reference to the pack test. I am in California, Region 5, does anyone know what will be going on here and when
it will be mandatory. Boo, replied that the test is alive and well in Texas...what agency was that with? and ADFTR, says it's on hold in
Region 8. Is any forest service, region doing it ?I can't understand why it is taking so long for some places to implement it, espescially this
region, when others have already done so...since, these decisions come from over and above the forest level, it makes me wonder...who
makes these decision? The Regional Fire and Aviation management group, the Forest FMO's, clearly not the people who "have" to take it.
  On our forest, the general impression from the fire troops is ...that there are alot of peole who may not be able to pass it. From DFMO's
on down, I have heard comments and concern, about their own possible inability to do so. Like, ADFTR, start training now, whats the big
deal? But the same people who are complaining, aren't working towards that goal. Is it possible that the message from the FFMO's is, that
if this is implemented, and labeled mandatory, that their forests might be seriously effected, by the amount of their fire staff, who will not
be able to pass it. I believe, because I haven't heard anything concrete one way or the other, and from what I see here at home, that to
implement this  test as mandatory, would only turn out to be extremely embarrassing. I am not talking about engine crewmembers, hand
crews, hot shots, or even helitak (who have implemented their own fitness test, for repellers, which is very admirable) I am talking about,
Engine Capt's, Prevention Techs, AFMO, DFMO's...and red carded people who work eleswhere, timber, rec, etc. 
  Is there any info out there, to dispute these rumors...Until I hear something, eles, I will believe that the region is holding off on making a
decision, so that a good number of people can retire first.
01/09 Speculation no more. Attended annual refresher training today and no
pack test was given. All present took step test and were advised that
the final notice on the pack test would be coming in 3 to 5 weeks. This
happened in r8 today. Thanks for the site.ADFTR
01/09 Hey Ab--I'm working on the acronyms.

Thanks Kelly--Your posts are always so helpful--

I'm back into May TheySaid with the acronym search. This will take a while since
I need to fit it around other things, but it's a real education. Just reading
the archives is interesting. I had heard about MEL (most efficient level, as
in funding for fire management), but what an ass-backward way of doing things.
In any kind of budget, one would never ask for substantially less than needed
to run the operation and then call that 100%! People who write scientific grants
ask for 30-50% more than needed because they know the budget will be reduced
in the end to what they really need. In fire's case, it's no wonder the easy
acres get the Rx burn and the ones that really need it don't because of not
enough money! So, who in fire does the asking in Washington? Are they a bunch
of wooses or what? Maybe these were the ones that Ab suggested should get out
of the way.. (Do fire people get sent to Washington as a punishment? Just wondering.)

Dave, regarding the 180 club. Do they also have members who go out and get an
education, have a great career and then become a firefighter? (I know, you can't
do it and retire in fire unless you do it before age 35. HUMMM probably not
too many.) 

Do you older ff's  perceive that becoming a firefighter mucks up your life?
I know that ff have the highest divorce rate of any occupational group: relationships
are hard to maintain because ff are away at least all summer and operating in
stressful situations that are hard to come down from. When the Onion/Megram
was over, I felt pretty estranged from everyone/thing in my former life. I even
got "yelled at" by former co-workers for not doing things they thought I should
have done. They had not realized that the fire lasted beyond early Sept. and,
to assume some responsibility, my communications with them from Five Waters
were poor to impossible. I had more pressing things to do than keep everyone
up to date.  FF friends told me that being yelled at was normal, that often
when they leave the forest or their regular jobs, people who aren't in fire
think they've been away on something akin to vacation. 

Well, excuse all the personal questions, it's my Nature to ask and try to understand.

6- I think John Maclean's piece was good. He did say that crews could now say
no and hadn't been able to in the past. While maybe not absolutely true in fact,
it is true in flavor. It is also part of  the legacy of heightened safety awareness
left by those who died on Storm King. 

Have you read the three firefighter safety studies that the interagency fire
group commissioned following Storm King? I've only read about half so far-but
it's very interesting. Their suggestion is to create an "environment of safety"
that comes from the top (IC) down and the bottom (ff on the line) up.

An example from BigBar--I talked to two hotshot crew leaders after they captured
the slopover above Five Waters. I was trying to understand the safety issues
and the decision processes within/among the groups and individuals involved.
Sure, bosses have refused assignments in the past and one did on that slop over,
but I got the feeling that it may be easier to refuse with less of an onus on
the refuser than it used to be.

My 76-day perceptions from listening to the scanner conversations, talking to
the firefighters who slept on my floor, and later asking Larry Wright (Branch),
Pat Bailey (SO), Kittterman (leader for the ShastaT strike team), the shot bosses,
and ops on Team 3 about the slopover was that safety always came first, at least
on the Denny side. Not attempting to hook the slopover had safety implications
as well, as far as Pat Bailey the Safety Officer was concerned. (I still need
to talk to the boss who refused, to complete the picture--hopefully in Feb).
I know that safety was really important to IC Teams 3 (Stuttler's) and 4 (Hutchison's)
whom I got to know better than the others (because I was hired for the last
two weeks of the fire as an AD, whatever that is (another unknown acronym!)).
But--I get the impression that regardless of safety intent and conscious action,
safety can be compromised at transitions. For example, shift changes when we
fought fire at our mailbox, division or branch breaks (Five Waters was on one),
ICT changes (7 IC groups on the fire), firefighter rotations, and the psychological
fall transition that fire season should be over with folks returning to family
or home district. Another potential safety compromise related to politics between
the north and south sections of the fire and the people/resources they were
trying to protect. The north zone included the Hoopa Reservation, a sovereign
nation, with whom some agreements had been hammered-out regarding interactions
in the case of fire, but with whom interactions were covering new ground. The
south zone included Denny and the retirement community of Trinity Village. What
a mix of factors! 

OH MAN, here I am just getting into it and the gang is yelling that I have to
come help with the firewood! (If I burn it, I gotta help split and stack it!-bummer).

Til next time!
Mellie from Five Waters

01/08 Regarding WP's comments on the mowing of lawns and other building/grounds maintenance performed by fire crews in the USFS, I would like to hear how different areas are handling this with the emergence of FFIS and primary purpose funding.  Our forest seems to have glossed over it by calling it "incidental" duties or some such nonsense.  For those unaware, the new budgeting rules dictate that the benefiting department pays for the work done.  Seems to me the facilities maintenance budget should cough up some money.  Most fire budgets have around 25-30% raked off at the forest level for administrative support before the Districts see a dime.  Why is the fire organization being forced to provide the majority of funding for non-fire departments.


01/08 Just read the posts on the 14 day assignments Vs the 21 day assignments.  You 
can speculate all you want why the proposal has come up but the real reason 
is that all agencies have down sized so much that when people leave the home 
unit there is no one to do the real work.  It is not so much the crews or 
engines but the overhead who are not in fire and no one is around to fill in 
the blanks on the paper work.  Of course the crew and engines are missed, who 
will clean the camp grounds and other recreation work, BD, brush line for the 
timber folks, mow the grass at the district, paint the buildings and the all 
time favorite--meet and greet the public.

There are other motives than safety, I work for a state agency that has close 
ties to the Feds, every time there is a big dispatch and the district empties 
out, I can hear the whining miles away.  My agency has the 14 day rule with 
RR after the 10th day of continuous work.  Management still makes remarks 
about being gone, I just ignore the remarks and say "Damn, do you know how 
much OT we made, I can now buy some new shoes for the kids." 


I partially agree with your diagnosis WP.  The possibility of overhead being gone 21 days is a large part of the new 14 day policy.  I find it amusing that each year the incumbent Washington (USFS) Chief distributes a memo to all employees stating fire support will be the priority.  At the same time, those folks who are still willing to respond and support the fire organization are seldom given any leeway from their assigned duties.  On one forest this last Spring the Forest Deputy Supervisor distributed a memo stating that any fire going personnel "would not" be excused from completing their targets.  As a result of the downsizing over the last 10 years, most red carded overhead are overloaded with work.  During a conversation with a member conducting research on why our agency was having such a hard time filling fire resource requests I was asked if I thought the fire effort was supported at the National, Regional, Forest, and District level.  My response was no, no, no, and yes.  Ab

01/08 Hey all, yer favorite writing fire-pup is back again....

6, thanks for the info on the club, I don't think I'll view it as 
muck up though. Mellie hey thanks for remembrin the pup.
Kelly, thanks for the info on the glossary of sorts, and of course
tanks to you Ab, for putting up with all of us. 

 Note on Maclean, again....

(*dramatic pause for deep breath*) Maclean seems to contradict 
himself, the book has a few paragraphs of assignment refusal in it 
somewhere, specifically citing firing/verbal abuse etcetera when 
crews or members refused to work the line, but it makes the note that 
refusal had been practiced. In the new editorial he makes mention of 
assignment refusal again, but he makes it seem as if it's something 
new coming across the fireline. I think I see what he's getting to, 
is that now safety is being scrutinized more, assignment refusal may 
face less dire consequences. (Okay so my interpretation probably 
needs a LOT of work... but hey, that's what this place is about 
right?) Also, is this another case of ex post facto? I'm curious to 
know if Mr. Maclean was on the fireline since he wrote of the Sadler 
Fire in Nevada...

Tiny, the fire-pup

PS This is the first time I've read extensively into fire reports 
from the official sources (BLM USFS etcetera, you guys know them 
all.) So. Canyon, Tyee Creek, Big Bar, Sadler.. just to name the 
one's I've finished... I'm still amazed at the sheer amount of acres
that have burned in the different years... Thanks again to all the 
firefighters out there.

01/07 This is by no means a COMPLETE list of all fire acronyms, but it's a
-- kelly
01/07 Tiny, the 180 club is when someone goes out and gets
an education, has great career potential, and mucks up
his/her life by becoming a firefighter.  Their career
path went 180 degrees.  Most members of the 180 club
are smokejumpers.  Go to a base sometime and look at
the average education, it is way up there.

On a different not John Maclean is back with an
editorial in the 1/5/00 Glenwood Post. 

He contends that firefighters in the past did not have
the option of refusing assignments.  I hate to tell
you this John, but we have been refusing assignments
for decades, and very few people have ever gotten
disciplined for it.  If you look back to the 1966 Loop
Fire you will see that a hotshot crew refused the
assignment that killed 10 El Cariso Hotshots.  Ask any
hotshot supt. if they refused assignments prior to '94
and I bet everyone will say yes.  If that were not the
case there would be a bunch more dead firefighters. 
We were/are not robots who blindly follow orders. 


01/07 Best I can tell the S stands for 'Skill' courses as in Knowledge,Skills and
 Abilities (KSA's). And you were right about the I, it stands for 'Incident" ICS courses. 
This 14 day thing is a farce. You can travel for 3 days work for 14 and travel 3
 back home.  I agree with Tony shouldn't this be a crew boss decision not a mandate from Washington. Some
 folks don't know when to say when and work their people into the ground but with conditioning a
 person should be able to go 21 rest for 2 days and be able to go another 21.  The first time I
 remember running into the 21 day rule was Happy Camp '87, as a matter o fact the crew was asking me when we
 would get out of there. I told them at the time that 'those fires are still going boys, the best I can
 tell we are in it for the duration.' Several days later, on day 23,  we were demobed and went home only to come back
 4 or 5 days later.  It would seem to me to be more effective to keep firefighters that are familiar
 with the country around for continued suppression efforts.  Maybe the cumulative fatigue and constant
 exposure to smoke would wear you down after a while but a well conditioned person will do fine.
 The cost of shuttling people in and out after 14days would seem to be prohibitive, maybe thats why we
 spend millions on fires these days.  It did seem to me that the Type 1 teams out at Big Bar cycled
 through at a faster raste than 21 days.
     Later, Dave
01/07 Ab, have not been involved for a while, although I have been faithfully
keeping up on the chit chat.  There was a question about I & S courses
the S course stands for suppression skills and the I course stands for
the ICS related courses, P for prevention courses, D for dispatch, and R
for prescribed fire.  Hope that helps.

As for the 14 or 21 it really depends on the assignment.  Like Tony
said, you might  have a cake assignment, and dont need to go home after
14.  Sooner or later we will regulate ourselves right into not fighting
the fires.  It is dangerous, it is demanding and it can be done safely,
and as managers we need to take the steps necessary to make that happen
on each and every unit.  I think that this forum helps, in that people
are talking about it, and thinking about it.  It is great.

Happy Winter,

01/07 Ab,
First time on this site..pretty interesting!
I'd like to comment on the supposed new wording in the Mob Guide regarding 
length of assignment.
As a long time hotshot I think that managements attempt to govern length of 
assignment in the name of "safety" through the 21 or 14 day rule is ludicrous 
at best. Crew boss's know when their crews need rest or are able to continue 
working. As we all know, some years you pull all tough shifts and other years 
they are cake...a crew could be ready for demob and a trip home after a week 
or if the assignments are cake (motels, mop-up, etc..) the crew is fine after 
21 or more.  This should be CREW BOSS decision, not set in stone by 

If the powers that be really want to "promote safety as an interagency 
priority" they should grant portal to portal pay and parity pay to fed 
employees..so those employees aren't inclined to work beyond the "safety 
line" just to make ends meet through OT.

Interesting that govt and contract pilots are not held to the 21 or 14 day 
"gone from home rule".  Contract tanker and helicopter pilots currently take 
1 day off in 7 and can be gone from their "home base" all summer and nary an 
eye is raised!
I have had pilots ask me "what the heck?? You are going home after 21 and I 
have been gone all summer and am not being demobed! What are we, dogmeat??" 

As for the sending unit paying for the R&R, now there is a goofy rumor..If 
that happens I can see lots of resources being "unavailable" and lots of UTF 
orders! Lots of units out there in the red as is!!

Thanks for the site!.........Tony

You're welcome.  I should also mention that the italicized wording below was recently proposed and adopted by the NWCG.  The rest of it is, as mentioned, supposition and interpretation speculation.  Ab.

01/06 Reliable sources indicate the following new wording will appear in the Winter 2000, National Mobilization Guide (NFES 2092):

"In order to promote safety as an interagency priority, to increase the opportunity for widespread support for long term fire operations, and for efficient incident mobilization and demobilization, the typical and desired length of commitment on incident assignments will be 14 days, excluding travel. Strong consideration and management of firefighting resources must insure that back to back assignments are considered into the health, readiness, and capability of the resource. The health and safety of incident personnel and resources will not be compromised under any circumstances. There may be situations, where life and property are so imminently threatened that minimally longer commitments are necessary to smoothly allow for replacements. This situation as well as overall condition of the resource at that time shall be documented by the Planning Section and approved by the Incident Commander.

Military battalions are mobilized for 30 day commitments, by prior agreement, as well as the Strike Team leaders and battalion liaisons assigned to those units. Incident Commanders should give strong consideration as to the health and condition of these crews by varying the intensity and exposure of their assignments. Government and contract pilots should adhere to the standards in section 24.13 Interim Flight and Duty Limitations, NFES 2092."

Kinda smooth isn't it?  It avoids mentioning specific types of resources, just sez you will only be allowed to work 14 days on each assignment not including travel time.  There isn't a lot of talk about negotiating extensions, just the IC is allowed to approve minimal commitments in certain situations.  Will the IC approve entensions?  Perhaps, until there's an accident involving someone who has been extended.

Additional thoughts.  Some analyzers question if the 14 day work limitation goes back to when the last day off was had by the responding resource.  The current interpretation indicates it's possible.  Will this mean that during mid summer, a division supervisor or hotshot crew who worked their prior 6th and 7th days, (very common during mid season) reports to a fire on his 13th day of work and have the next two days off.  How would this affect an engine crew who has staggered days off?  Would one person stay in camp for R&R each day?  Can you think of more ways this will impact the fireline?  Does it apply to IMT's?  It certainly doesn't exclude them at this point.

Additional rumors have it that no longer will the benefiting agencies be responsible for providing the R&R.  Rather, the sending units assume responsibility for R&R.  Say it ain't so, Joe!  Stay tuned!  This will be interesting.  Abercrombie

01/06 Just got the word this afternoon that the pack test in r8 has been put
on hold. Trained for about six weeks to be extra ready, and now it's
back to the step test or 1-1/2 mile run. Any clues?  I feel the pack
test is the way to go, like it or not.    ADFTR
01/06 I have spent the day reading and viewing material on your page, and enjoyed it very much, however I couldn't get the archives from
Nov-Dec 99 to load.  Is it me or you?

Thanks for the site.  It must be a burden.

It's me.  I've corrected the link and appreciate you pointing it out.  You're welcome for the site and no, it's not a burden.  I enjoy providing the site and look forward to each new message. . .even if I get a good blasting!  Ab.

01/06 Ab, thanks for the pointer to your "what fire fighting means to me" (6/23) post.
It was as good as I remember, but a little harsh there at the end, on those
who are "long in the tooth", eh? I'm not so sure I want them (or you) to step
out of the way quite that fast. Well, maybe if they are averse to CHANGE, they
could go. But, maybe ya'll could wait until Tiny and others and I get trained
up first--well at least until I get trained up--Tiny is really a young-un!

Old fire guy, thanks for the info. And thanks to ya'll who e-mailed with info.
 I think I got the S-190 lined up. As you suggested, I went in to the FMO on
the forest and talked, called around and class starts on Monday. A friend on
the forest warned me that I might be bored, but she's not really INTO FIRE.
She also rolled her eyes and said she thought I was a gonner, whatever that
means--probably not a fire term. *grin*. She's right, though, I think fire alters
the brain into the "gonner" configuration. The continuous high levels of epinepherine,
norepinepherine, and cortisol (stress hormones) must mess with the neuronal
circuitry, creating new paths that never let you out of their fiery grip! 

You know, getting back to "FMO", one of the hardest things about fire and the
Forest Service, CDF, etc are all the acronyms. And they're not the same from
agency to summer fire organization. I still don't know what RIF is or what the
S or the I on fire courses stand for. Maybe I has something to do with Incident
Command. (Yeah, yeah, I will go to some training website and find out--like
the good little web researcher you're training me up to be.) But, if an FMO
is like a division chief, is an ADFMO (?)or DFMO like a strike team leader??
 I know a person can be at one level on the forest and at another on a fire
if they're trained and a red-card-holder for that position. (Ab, we need a glossary
of acronyms for this website, IMHO! Sounds like a good fire class project for
when we're not studying flame lengths or how to sharpen our pulaskis.)

One other random question, whom do we lobby to get a professional firefighter
series in the federal government?  Does anyone know? Maybe there already is
such a thing?

Mellie from Five Waters

RIF stands for "reduction in force", usually associated with a congressional mandate.  Most desired "downsizing" situations, at least in fire, through the last 15 years have been attained through attrition, i.e., either the person in a position promotes and the job is not filled behind them or the person retires and it is also unfilled.  RIF is a dirty word and is usually avoided by politicians.  USFS departments in addition to fire have been hit very hard the last 8-10 years.  People with 10-20 years in the same job have had their positions eliminated and have been reassigned to other positions.  The word coined for this action is "re-alignment".  It has basically allowed management to place people in positions they have no interest, skills, or experience in.  Of course, the person could just quit.

 I'm not as sure about the I & S course prefixes.  I assume the S designates a suppresssion oriented course and the I courses denote general Incident courses.  There's probably a training officer out there who can help on this one.  An ADFMO can normally function as a Battalion Chief (BC), although many are qualified to fill in as acting Division.  Most engine and crew Captains are (among other things) strike team leader and/or task force leader qualified.

I think your idea for a "glossary" of acronyms for the site is an excellent one!  I'd be happy to post it on it's own  page and keep it updated, if you have the time and want to create it.  Ab

01/06 Hey Ab, just a note, this won't be too long, I promise!

6, College bound I am, what to study, eh, I'll figure that out in the 
next year or two. What's the 180 club (sorry but you got a young 
fire-pup here vice you old fire-dogs *grin*) ? 

Ab, Mellie referenced something about what you think it means to be a 
firefighter, I'd like to see that as well if'you don't mind.

Well all, the gate's in, the signs are up, so our land hopefully 
won't be visited any more, still keeping an eye on our root fire 
tree. On a lighter note, I'll be spending a day in February planting 
500 Western Red Cedar trees, part of my Eagle Scout project to 
reforest an area of the local military base. Forestry sounds like a 
good major.. minor in journalism.. hey it sounds better all the time. 
(Yes I'm slightly crazy, I don't believe in working for money alone, 
more along the lines of the phrase 'Do what you love, the money will 
follow.' heh well, maybe.)

Thanks again Ab for the forum and the site, I'm learning with each 
post I read and each link I click. Also, thanks to all the wildland 
firefighters, for everything you do, wether you realize it or not.

Tiny, the aspiring wildfire journalist.

Mellie may have been referring to a post on 6/23/99.  Ab

Some rambling thoughts with maybe a couple tidbits.    Pack Test: Forest Service will be resuming use this year as soon as implementation instructions are finalized.  Concerns for pre-screening, monitoring, etc that will provide for safe testing are yet to be completely worked out.  I agree it is a better test than the "step test" that I started taking in the early years of it's use.  Mellie, you've been bitten by the fire bug, and there may not be a cure (at least I've not been exposed to any cure).    Yes, tents were a rare item in the fire camps of yore.   We slept under the stars, skinny dipped in a nearby stream (females were rarer than tents) and I recall staring in awe the first time I saw a portable shower unit. 
Job opportunities:   Never give up!   I was told there was no chance of permanent employment.  Yet more than a quarter century later, I'm sitting in the fire staff officer's chair.  One hint: For fed opportunity---get in any way you can, receptionist, typist, recreation, timber.....then transfer into your preferred field.    Questions? Go visit with the fire staff officer on your forest.....most of us started out with a pulaski or mcleod, we don't have fangs (although we may be long in tooth).    Where and when are we going to hire some young blood?    I don't know.  Recent story
said of 30M FS employees, less than 70 were under age 30.     But look at the trend for downsizing......and the best bet for firefighters might be with a contract crew.   But then again, reference my opening remark about never giving up.......
Good luck to all of you who love the work.   You are appreciated! ----Old fire guy.
01/05 M2, we have been using ht epack test in Texas for the last two years and
most everyone here likes it. We have had more people past it that are
over 40 than were passing the step test. The pack test is something that
you can train for and pass, but we still recommend working out all year.
01/05 Hello,

I`m a 29-year-old german firefighter in the rank of captain. Since 1997 I`m 
spending my vacations in the LA area and have seen much of the LACity and Co 
FD stuff including several ride-alongs on stations in LACo.

My question is whether there`s a chance to work as a part time firefighter 
for a wildland fire comp with a ground crew during some time in the year?
Do you hire vol personnel?
I speak fluent english and I`m willing to do as much as I can to work for the 
CDF during the vacation.

I`d be more than happy to get some information according this or a link to 
find some info with other agencies.

Thank you very much so far.
Detlef Maushake

01/05 I have a question, regarding the upcoming and supposedly mandatory pack test? Is it for real? For the last couple of
years we've been told that it is the new thing, then every year we're told...it's still in the works? I personally, think the
step test, should be changed to something more unisexed, like the 1 1/2 mile run, with the idea that you either pass it or you don't. I am looking forward to the pack test, but right now it's optional, and alot of people are affraid that they  won't be able to pass it... I've been doing the step test since the 70's and to me it can be such a mental game, just standing in front of the step, sometimes, sends my heart racing...with the anticipation that I am alot older than I was in the 70's. I really like the idea of the new test, but I seem to be a minority in that view? Am I really?    Thanks, M2
01/05 Susanna:
        Statues of wildland firefighters are like hens teeth. You might try:

                Stay at Home

01/05 Hey everyone, I would like to start off by thanking everyone that has 
responded with words of encouragement, support, and advice.  The latest is 
that the Washington Office has said that there are "No exceptions to the 
Maximum Entry Age rule!".  I know as well as many of you out there that this 
is simply not the case.  What I would like to request from anyone and 
everyone out there is any case where an exception has been made, and under 
what circumstances the exception was made.  I need nothing with any personal 
information on it.  If you have a letter from a personnel office stating 
where an exception to the MEA has been allowed, please white out or remove
all personal information before you send it.  Please direct all 
correspondence to:


On another note I recently tried to get in touch with the folks from FWFSA 
and found out that their phone number on their web page no longer works.  I 
also noticed that they have not updated their web page in quite awhile.  Has 
anyone heard about the status of the Wildland Firefighter Pay Equity Act of 
1999??  Does anyone know what happened to the FWFSA??



01/05 Ab and MOC4546 and all you others out there--

What is RIF's?

The picture of the registration box (Guest 3, Storm King 2) is not clear enough
to read the stickers of the groups who left them. I know some 'shot groups are
the Flagstaff, the Santa Fe, the Mormon Lake, the Negrito, the Sacramento Hotshots
and one other. Also the Cherryvale Fire Protection District (Boulder) who stayed
at Five Waters while I was a Pookie Camp and left a card. I'd really like to
have a list of groups who have visited, whether they left stickers or not. If
anyone recognizes their group's sticker, could you please let me know via Ab's
site here or e-mail me at five_waters@hotmail.com. 

I've been trying to find out when and where I can take S-190 locally (northern
CA, Trinity Co, Humboldt Co, Lake Co. maybe). Now I'm hearing that it's important
that I take it from the USFS or CDF or the Junior College (I don't think our
local JC teaches it, but I'm still checking). I would pay for it myself if I
could just find it.

For a young person just getting into fire, the passion and excitement are there
in spite of (or maybe because of?) the long hours and rough conditions and physical
demands. Gotta admit, I've loved the adrenaline rush connected with my experiences
with fire and, at the same time, coming down from that is harder than anyone
but a fire person knows. If I were seasonal and had to find a job when my temp
fire job was over, I might have even been depressed-hard to imagine from such
an optimist as me. How do you temps do it?

I've been totally impressed with the performance, training and work ethic of
the government fire people I've met and with some of the private groups as well.
All of you whom I met on the Big Bar Complex fire were into fire more as a "calling"
than as a "job" or even a "career" as the psychology teacher says. You're passionate
people and most of you do it because you love what you do and can't imagine
doing anything else. Sure, maybe the newest youngest firefighters are attracted
by the OT hours along with everything else. But, those of you who continue in
the system, obviously, don't do it for the money. 

I couldn't believe that you experienced IC folk out there, say in the Forest
Service, take substantial pay cuts when you get into overtime hours. (Is that
also true for other federal agencies like BLM, Park Service, etc.? Are we US
citizens, collectively speaking, an equally unfair employer regardless of agency?
Why do I feel more than a little ashamed of us for taking so much for granted
and for thanking you so little?) All fire folk whom I talked with on the Incident
Management Teams (and some of you are at least as old as the Old Fire Guy, probably!)
were not sleeping in tents (when you got to sleep!) for the money. You made
it clear that, for you, money is less important than the feeling of making an
important contribution. You need to know that because you would do the job regardless
of pay, doesn't make our system of under-payment OK. Is this country shooting
itself in the foot, OR WHAT?!


I am worried about many of you retiring in the next 7 to 12 years. (One archived
post I read said that the avg firefighter age is 42 or 43 (can't remember which),
with possible retirement at 50 and mandatory at 55.) When you're gone, what
are we going to do for experience? Hey, you newbies who are newer than me and
are reading Abercrombie's site, go down to any USFS office and look at the age
of those who work there in fire. They're all baby-boomers. There are few 20-
or 30-something-year olds. I know younger people are hired for 6 months at a
time to fight fire. The economy's booming. After they get their credentials
and experience, when they are sought after by local govts or the private sector
who can offer more money and better benefits and a full-time job, how many firefighters
will continue to be "called" or inspired to national fire work either part-time
or full-time? 

Wow, this sounds so pessimistic! I'm not--I just wonder if you all think about
the future and where we're all headed in this transition? I know, I know--let's
not start whining. Does anyone have any solutions or anything to think about
that might provide a pointer to solutions? Having a professional organization
might help, but we need more than that. We need to be viewed as professionals.
Safety needs to be paramount but maybe the training system needs to be streamlined
and made more equitable across agencies. Pay needs to be fair. Enough of this--

Ab--someplace and sometime I read a wonderful post you wrote about what it meant
to you to be a firefighter. I loved it, but I can't find it again. If you remember
it and can find it, please point me to it or reprint it. Thanks-

Mellie from Five Waters

PS Maybe the Old Fire Guy was one of the IC team members I talked to--if so-oops-and

01/05 Tiny, it sounds as if you might have fire in your
future, one way or an other.  Don't let that stop you
from going to college, if nothing else you can join us
in the 180 club.  Keep us posted.


01/03 A new document announcing the new policies for USFS hiring practices can be found here:
USFS Employment. and the Nov-Dec 99 posts have been archived, see links below.  Ab.
01/03 6, and all

Hey, thanks for the support of the idea, 6, I do hope I can pull it 
off, maybe with a few more years and a few fires I can thresh out 
what it's like to actually be there. And with my Writing class coming 
to an end by summer and my Journalism one starting up in the fall, by 
the time I graduate high school I'll be ready for it.

You're right about the cover jacket, (As I said, my book came as a
present and had some writing on the front denoting it as so, the 
jacket was in in the pacakage and I looked at it and it struck me in 
the face, and also the two title pages just past the map of Hell's 
Gate Ridge on the inside of the front cover.) So I agree wholly that 
since this title addition is there that factuality and technicality 
needed a lot more work. I promise to keep that in mind: to be
technically and factually correct, as I continue in this new quest of

Now then, on to bigger and better things. I have a new fire 
expierience to tell ya'll about. (Maybe it's just me but I can't get 
enough of this stuff)

 January 2 2000, while out in the woods of my Boy Scout Troop's camp
ground (we're fortunate to have 10 acres of land where we can hold 
local camp outs about once a month) I was hiking with two of my 
buddies, the Youth Leadership of our troop, and we were setting up a 
compass course for this month's camp out, tentatively planned for the 
Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Weekend. While placing an Orienteering 
marker, one of them noticed a lot of steam coming out of the root 
structure of a tree that was growing out of a nurse stump. Under this 
tree there was a lot of pine needles kept safe and dry by the 
forest's canopy. Curiosity almost scared him to death when he dug 
where the steam was coming from then the heat source started to burn 
the pine needles. The small blaze grew quickly by the time I and my 
other friend had arrived to see what in the world the guy was getting 
all worked up about. And was threatening to ignite the tree. (Okay so 
in all actuality the drizzle that had been falling off and on that 
day probably would have spared it.) Quite calmly the other guy I was 
with told the freaked out one to take a breather while he and I put 
out the fire. It was a relatively easy task for us, simply grabbing 
our water we had brought for drinking and using the nozzles on the 
bottles to spritz att the little flames, in all I estimate about a 
three by four foot  area of pine needles had gotten scorched in all, 
but the temps were cold and the wind calm so it never got totally out 
of control. Curiosity struck us again though and we began to poke 
through the slowly rotting tree trunk to find the cause of this, when
slower burning embers stopped us as we used the last of our water on 
it. Moving along we came to what looked like an old hunter's camp 
ground, with hastily built fire ring and litter. Looking in the fire 
pit we found a small peice of charred wood that was stuck into the 
ground. Giving a hefty tug on it, it broke the loosened soil in a 
direction along which in about twenty yards, where we had doused the 
needles and trunk. Needless to say we will be watching for further 
root fires, since we now know people are using our land without our 

As I write this our long in the coming gate and 'No Hunting / No
Tresspassing' signs are being installed, throughought this week I'll 
be helping with that. Hope everyone had a safe New Year celebration.

Thanks again Ab for the forum,

Tiny, the aspiring wildfire journalist

PS I know some of you might be thinking 'Oh no Boy Scouts and 
forest fire...' I assure you that my troop has a strict policy on 
camp fires, cook stoves, and burnables et all, and the hunters camp 
we found is labelled as that due to the nature of the litter found, 
(A rotting carcass is one type we discovered.) and its 'tucked away' 
location, completely away from any of the paths and camp sites the 
troop itself constructed last summer is another factor. Also, sorry 
for the lengthy letters, Ab, I'll try not to bombard you and everyone
else with these too often. (*Grin*)


01/02 Hi AB,
    As per usual, just as the light comes over the horizon and you may
have thought that progressiveness and the fortitude began to exist your
hopes are dashed again by the "You did not take these courses through
us, so they don't count" B.S.!! Could the higher ups in Fire Management
get there people to realize that you get paid to do a certain job, and
playing this game is isolationistic, arrogant, and needless. What is the
point to take the I- & S- courses to better yourself in your profession,
make yourself more marketable for assignments and promotions, and move
up the food chain. I thought that we were beyond this kind of thing.
Evidently not.

      If those of you in the upper-UPPER Levels of Fire Management (like
Regions, States, Boise, NIFC, and Washington D.C.) NEED TO put out a
memorandum of administrative direction (a memo) to every national
forest, national park, BLM District, BIA Reservation, Fish & Wildlife
Refuge, Dept. of Defense Fire Agency, private contractor, and state
wildland agencies stating that all Certified Wildland Fire Training
Courses taught under the I-, S-, and other significant programs related
to wildland fire that are accepted and taught by said agencies, State
Fire Training groups, community colleges, private certified training
groups, and others, that ALL accepted training courses ARE transferable
among inter-agency and other fire organizations as long as they can be
verified either by contact or proof of passing (Certificate or
If you all can't come to an agreement as a whole, NIFC, Region, State,
CO-OPERATOR then there is NO POINT in Continuing this formalized,
restrictive, isolationist program. This means that those fire personnel
will stay on that forest for the rest of their career, with no hope of
transfer or promotion outside their home unit because if you move you
have to do all of your training from the ground up all over again,
meaning wasted money in needless repetition of training, wasted
personnel time, and more isolation from the rest of the fire community.

     Not everyone plays this game. Many Forests, BLM districts, some
National Parks, and others accept the training that has been previously
accomplished by a new or returning employee to the organization. But, IT

     The wildland fire service adopted the ICS-Incident Command System
so that everyone would be on the same command and position structure
when working an incident with other agencies. To help with that, the
courses we all take to update and refresh our skills and knowledge are
designated I-100, S-239, I-300, S-490, etc. to show that the accepted
training has been done to meet the employment requirements and fire
service subject standards. Everyone is required to take these courses as
a requirement of employment in there position. This is not the point of
the argument, just a statement of fact.

    What the argument is, why are there still parks, forests, and
districts still playing this game, especially in CALIFORNIA? WHY?

     I have worked in many of these agencies over my career, and as I
moved up in fire management I was hired not only for my experience, but
for the I-, S-, and other coursework I had done to reach the position I
am in now, that those agencies did not have the money to send me to or
could afford. They accepted these courses having been done through the
federal fire agencies, the California Dept. or Forestry, local community
colleges, the State Fire Marshal's Training Branch, private contractors,
AD Crew Instructors, retired federal fire instructors, and so on. If
many of the federal agencies accept these courses regardless of
where-who-what-why-how or who-paid-for-it, then why can't everyone? This
sounds so much like a way for an FMO to keep his/her buddies in the good
positions and does not allow for upward mobility or unnecessary
redundant training, or protect his organization for one reason or

     In the early 90's I worked with a fire captain (engine) in Southern
California who came over from both Wyoming Forest Service and BLM FMO's.
He was hired as a permanent captain and that forest made him redo ALL of
his I & S courses, taking months away from his field work. There are
many more examples I can give you of this same problem, but I won't go
any further with the examples.

     If we continue with this training and certification system, of
which for now it is a good one, then why can't we all come to a
consensus and agree that if your are certified (For Example) in
S-290 Intermediate Fire Behavior and it was done by CDF because the
national forest would not send you to a government S-290 course, that it
is to be acceptable? There are still forests, BLM Districts and, I am
sad to say, the National Park Service, once one of the most versitile
and progressive fire training organizations, that continue to hold this
backwards attitude.

This protectionist attitude needs to stop RIGHT NOW. Period! The FMO's
of these places are following their own agenda's, and if they don't know
about it, this means that members of their staff are doing it without
approval. If it happens in one place, its happening in all of them.

I hope that some of the Upper-Level Fire Managers read this. I hope that
they will send out a memo to everyone stating that at least allI- and S-
Wildland Fire Courses obtained by current Fire Management Personnel
(regardless of employment status), either on there own from a certified
and approved instructional center or from a previous fire employer, will
be accepted as part of their level of qualification.

By no means does every Federal Fire Management Office in California
retain this practice, thank God, but the ones that do place everyone in
the same catagory. Those of you who continue to progressively and
objectively review their employees trainings without politics should be
commended in the highest, and this statement does not reflect on you.
Those of you who continue this evil, restrictive practice upon your
current and newer firefighters to keep them down and maintain a
micromanaged level of control, let alone the destructive morale
environment it creates, and simply because you feel you can, need to
examine yourselves to see if you are doing good, or bad, and wheather
you still should be in Fire. We keep losing people because of our
agencies practices of not promoting, RIFs, downsizing, and the crappy
pay and benifits, or people moving to other fire agencies outside the
federal government because they will be treated as professionals and not
like dog droppings.




01/01 My boyfriend is a wildland firefighter. Can anyone tell me where to get a 
statue of the wildland firefighters monument? Would appreciate it very much.
01/01 Tiny,

I am amazed by the depth of your perceptions from your
limited experience and having read the book.  Great
comments!  You might make that fire journalist concept

The one area where we disagree is that Maclean should
be not held accountable because he is not a
firefighter.  The cover of his book states, "The true
story of the South Canyon Fire".  Based on this I feel
that Maclean has an obligation to be technically
proficient and factually accurate.  Maclean fails on
both accounts.  If you become a journalist you should
be held to the same standard.


01/01 Greetings folks and welcome to the new century here on "They Said".  I would like to take a brief moment to thank all the posters here for their comments, questions, and stories during this last year.  Your participation through your letters and photos keep this site alive.  It seems a very short time since I archived the first bundle of posts for Oct-Nov of 1997.  I took some time to browse the archives this last week.  From reading them, I feel my original desire to provide a source for open discussion, wherein being politically (or even grammatically) correct can take a back seat, is being met.  I'll soon be archiving the last two months of letters, so the download time for the page will drop.  This is the first time I've had to double up on tables for the page (each table will only take so many rows).  With the increased amount of letters, I will probably begin archiving on a monthly basis rather than semi-monthly.
Happy New Year (Century) to all of you!  Abercrombie
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