MARCH 2000


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03/31 Ab,

Concerning "Just One More Time": glad I did not put anything in there that I did not want my wife to see.  Was reading her your comments
on the bottom of the message where you choked up and she asked what it was all about so I brought up the Just One More Times that I
sent you and she now wants a copy of them to keep. 

<Up on the soapbox>  To those of you that are still facing the dragon or who are just starting in the wildland fire business.  Over 30 years
in the business I have been everything from a Grunt to Smokejumper to Dispatcher to AFMO to Div Sup on a team, so feel somewhat
SPECIAL WHEN YOU GET BACK!  I had a good wife that realized fire was my mistress and something I needed in my life.  I was one of
those that believed you took no time off during the summer and the job came first.  Did not realize how wrong this attitude was till I went to
a retirement party and the guy broke down, cried and asked his family to forgive him for never spending anytime in the summer with them. 
That was in 1990 and I have scheduled time off each summer since.  You may think you are indispensable to the organization; but, believe
me you are not!  No, I don't care what your position or title is either!   If you have a serious illness and the Doc tells you to stay away from
work for 2 weeks, the outfit will still be functioning when you get back, right?  So what is a long weekend or even a week with your family
going to do?  Betcha not much.  The old argument "We need the money" is darn weak at best.  I know because it sounded weak
everytime I used it to justify not going on family weekends at the coast or to family reunions.  The time and money you spend on your
family that week/weekend will pay dividends you may not see for years to come; but, it will be better than any money you may have in the
bank during the same timeframe.  If you have people working for you and you think they should not have timeoff during fire season, you
need to seriously rethink your management methods.  Having them tell you in May they want to take the family somewhere in August is
acceptable believe it or not.  (They also need to understand, should you be in the middle of a lightning bust things may have be put on
hold.  If you have good people that respect you and trust your judgment, you won't have to say anything about sticking around.)  Over the
years I have seen alot of marriages/families break up because, in most cases, the guy did not give his family a little time in the summer or
acknowledge the sacrifices made by those left at home.  When you are on fire the significant other is still home taking care of business
and keeping the ship afloat.  One thing we always did at the end of fire season was find a babysitter, take a long weekend and go to some
expensive, exotic (translated: somewhere we had never been before) place and enjoy each others uninterrupted company.  (You made all
that OT now spend some of it wisely!)   When someone is killed or gets burned over and it is all over the news, sit down with the spouse
and kids and explain to them what happened and what you will do to try and keep it from happening to you.  If you think because they do
not ask that they do not worry or have questions, you need to get your head out of the smoke & heat and come back to the real
world.  My wife and daughter never asked much about what went on when I was fighting fire; but, that all changed on July 6, 1994.  I spent
alot of time answering questions about the news coverage and what I was doing to ensure it would not happen to me or anyone under
me.  If you feel you may be one of those that is putting family on the backburner as mentioned above, I write this not to condemn you; but,
to try to get you to open your eyes.  Eventually you will be out of the fire business, but your family will always be there unless you drive
them away before you retire.  <Off the soapbox> 

Had a unique opportunity in '94 to have my family visit a fire camp I was in.  Answered alot of their questions and let them see how Dad
lived when he was gone from home.  It was a real eye opener for them.  Try it if you get the chance. 


03/31 Ab,
I am very pleased as you should be, to see the old fire dogs adding to my 
original post of One More Time.....  A person doesn't really know what the 
outcomes of his/her writings will be until much later, and that is the fun 
part of life.  It has been said "Don't test the depth of the water by using 
both feet," but if that were the case in life nothing new would be attempted. 
 Your web site is such a great place to go and share thoughts, feelings, 
gripes, successes, and failures in the wildland fire service.

Pulaski, Firehorse, and Hickman,
I too remember the fire service before there were Strike Team Leaders, and 
dispatch tones.  I can remember when every fireman (today we are 
firefighters) could be a fire boss, fire engines were called Trucks, water 
tenders were called Tankers, and dispatchers were firemen too.  Fires were 
often reported by way of a local rancher running in and yelling that there 
was a fire on his ranch.  Offduty firemen were alerted of the fire by an air 
horn on the repair shop, the second truck on the fire was always manned 
(staffed now) by volunteers who knew as much about firefighting as the 
regulars, and they didn't need to be baby-sat on either.  We all worked on 
the fire until it was out because there wasn't anyone to relieve us.  Our 
families brought us food and a change of underwear, if they could find us, 
and they answered the phones and dispatched for us while we were out.  We all 
carried hand tools and were jack of all trades on the fire.  We didn't have 
to pay for the water we used to put out the fire either (can you believe now 
they bill us for putting out a fire on their property that they started?).  I 
remember the first air drop on my first brush fire.  It came from a WW II 
B-17 flying at around 65 knots, and up-slop!  The mud was called Bentenite 
and I believe it was a by product of Twenty Mule Team Borax.  It sterilized 
the soil for a few years after the fire.  And we all fought fire better then 
than we do now.

To those in the Federal Fire Service, 
Get deeply involved in your Association, http://www.fwfsa.org/.    You are
such good firefighters, but you are beating yourselves up 
and/or leaving the service too soon for a better pay, or you are having to 
retire too young, and you are not being compensated for it.  You owe it to 
your families to get the best pay and working conditions you can.  You owe it 
to the young ones coming up behind you who just want to belong to the best 
occupation in the world.  Keep this thought in mind, "Your employer is only 
renting your services, and if they can keep the rent down, don't you think 
they will"?

Stay safe and enjoy each day on the line is if it were your last fire, stay 
in touch with the friends, love a little, laugh a lot, and live life to its 

Hunter '45

03/31 Gotta do this...in thinking back to my trips both east and west...

One more time.. 
..of waking up on a cool Idaho morning to the sound of an elks bugling
and not being able to see 50 feet due to the inversion layer.
..of sitting on the side of a mountain at 8000 feet watching the colors
of an Idaho sunset against giant column of smoke.
..of looking into a valley of blackend ash on an evening bus ride out
and seeing the sparkling of hot embers looking like minature cities from
above the earth.
..of walking across an ice cold mountain stream in bare feet after
working on Division J all day in the hot California sun.
..in walking through burnt over sand in Florida in bare feet.
..in waking up to the sound of an Officer in the Army yelling at his
troops to get their 'La-Z asses out of the sack'
..in listening an Indian Hot Shot Crew do their Native Chants to their
Gods at the end of a fire.
..sitting around an open fire pit with a group of fellow fire fighters
and feeling more warmth than heat from the fire.
..and last, but no means least...Sitting watching in Awe at the awesome
power produced by a fire running up the side of a 8000 foot mountain and
realizing how large an effort it is for man to slow it and how small an
effort it would be for God to slow it with a small shower.


03/31 Ab,

When I first saw the logo for the Fed. wildland union I thought I was at the IAFF union page! It looks remarkably like our national union
logo, the International Association of Firefighters. It's about time someone gets you folks organized, when CDF affiliated with the national
union, good things began happening for us i.e.: shorter work weeks, better pay and retirement etc. Our employees association was good,
but with added muscle got better. If the Fed. wildland folks can get organized , there is no telling what can happen for you.I'll be interested
to see how things go!
By the way, CDF's latest controversy, is a uniform change. Yes, after these many years, the familiar green pants and tan shirts are going
away in favor of , (are you ready?) Navy Blue! Yes that's right, we are joining the ranks of every other fire dept. in the country. Who got this
for us, you might ask? Why, the union of course.
Look for our new fashion statement at a wildland fire near you .

Engineer Emmett

Not too surprisingly the FWFSA is affiliated with the IAFF, although the FWFSA is an association, not a union.  You're also right on regarding CDF and the benefits they've gained.  I worked for them prior to their getting organized and remember those meager days.  Ab.

03/30 just one more time...Id like to step onto the crew bus (or crew carrier nowadays) and smell 
the sweet mixture of sweat and smoke.

...stagger into camp still hot, sweaty and tired, reach down into the drink tub, grab a ice
cold milk and chug it down without takin a breath (and wishin it was a brewski).

...hear the friendly banter in the bus on the way back from a grueling shift slowly settle
down to quiet snoring.

...pitch one more FNG into the fold-a-tank.

...make that trip with the entire crew down to the bar after slammin line the first day of the
new season.

...pry my fingers off the saw to gas'er up again. (Those who were around before anti
vibration handles know what I mean!)

...Get back home at 2 in the morning after being gone for weeks and having to sit and sharpen tools so you are ready to go again tomorrow.

and the humorus flip side...you know you are old when someone makes up a "Just one
more time.." retirement list and uses words like, strike team leader and dispatch tones...
terms which that werent even invented yet when you started playin the game.


03/30 I hope you all have noticed the new Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA) logo at the top of this page.  This site supports and encourages their efforts.  While there are certain managers who discourage membership and espouse false rumors related to the ongoing efforts of this organization, I suggest you visit their site and decide for yourself if this hard working association merits your membership.  The organization's web site is newly relocated, revamped, and can be found  by clicking the above logo.  The new webmaster vows to maintain the site in the manner it's serious intentions demand.  All email to this site will now receive a quick, personal response.  I encourage each and every one of you United States federal wildland firefighters to join and support the FWFSA.  With numbers there is power.  You can make a difference.  Abercrombie
03/30 Mellie, 

Sorry for your friend's accident. The bad brush boys of Mayer are praying for his fast recovery. Now for you. So, so dissapointed I was to hear that
you were in my neck of the woods, and didn't even stop by for a nice vegetarian meal off the grill or a few drinks at the Brewery in Prescott. Oh well,
I'm sure sometime this summer our paths will cross. Just don't let it happen again!!  jk :)~ 

Hunter 45 and Firehorse, 

You guys just about brought tears to my eyes with your rendition of "Just one more time." I'll be 31 this May, and going into my 13th season in
wildland. I still remember my first fire in Southeast Arizona, loosing my virginity to a "very experienced" MSU college girl in Phillipsburg Montana on
the Combination fire in '88 (we were in town, not on the fire!!) working my ass off on many 18-20 hour days on the line, and losing personal friends on
the "Storm King" incident. I can honestly say that I would not trade those experiences for anything in this world. The friends and experiences you
attain over the years is nothing no one else can experience except for those of us who put our lives on the line every day, every season, every year.

I can only hope and pray that when I decide to retire (20 years from now), I will have my own list of "just one more time" to share with a new
generation of firefighters.

Ab, I'll say it again, thanks for one hell of a site!!
AZ Trailblazer (seems more people now me by this handle than my real name!! :)

ps, the rain 'isa' flying in Northern AZ. Looks like fire season is put off for a few more weeks!! 

firepup; you need help?? send me your request to: tim_irwin@hotmail.com

Last night I was quoting some of the "One Last Time" statements to my wife when I had to pause cause something happened to my throat.  It felt like there was a big lump or something.  My voice cracked, I had  a hundred flashbacks in 10 seconds, I had to stop talking.  She asked me if I was ok. . .I told her I'd never felt better!  Abercrombie

03/30 Several new logos on the logo2 page.  The Black Hills NPS is one of the best I've ever seen!  Ab.
03/30 Great Website! Good info. We would like to join your website. We are a 
Canadian/Swedish company and offer a full range of wildland firefighting 
equipment from pumps to nozzles including personal protective equipment for 
the wildland firefighter. We specialize in suppression/prescribe burning 
activities and consult for the Swedish Emergency Services. We have the first 
and only heli-rappel firefighting crew in Sweden. Visit us @ 

Glad you like the site, but there really isn't a "joining" process.  Look around, make yourself at home.  Send us photos of fire where you stomp 'em.  Ab.

03/30 Hey Ab, loved the old Dispatcher picture.  Got any more to share?  I
feel like we're kind of the forgotten link out here.     RTH

Don't have any more like that one RTH.  Don't worry, dispatchers are never forgotten for too long, they're too easy to blame for everything!. Ab.

03/30 Hey Ab,
Thanks for posting the NEWRL registration form...attached is a copy that should print cleaner.

By the way...If I were a MN Dept. of Natural Resources employee...still, I would have been fired for my reply about Gov. Ventura.
The DNR has been applying a policy regarding workplace respect to smokechaser/activists that publicly criticize any DNR or State official. fear tactic
to shut people up. That is the main reason someone had to risk being fired/blackballed to make our organization work. 

I have recently been contacted by a spate of Federal Forests...looking for experienced smokechasers to hire. Apparently they are nervous about the
lower and lower level of experience on the fireline...and think they had better hire some experience early in the season as cheap insurance. I could not
agree more.

I am sending them the list I have and have signed them up as subscribers...the NEWRL is getting much bigger than we anticipated when we started it.
Lots of firefighters looking for "blacker pastures" and lots of contractors and govt. fire folk looking to hire them.

Got to get back to work building the list.

Here's the new application:  NEWRL  Ab.

03/29 Hey Firehorse
I hear ya loud and clear brother. I too would like to get out and gear up just one more time. Got married and responsible,wildland fire suppression was
the victim in my life. However I will never forget the friends, the sights, and the wonder of fire. Maybe we will both get to saddle the helo and take
another ride, geared up of course.

My addition would be.... just one more time on initial attack, swinging a pulaski, snorting smoke, and ducking slurry.

Ya all have a safe summer now ya hear,

03/29 Hi Ab and all.

Bet you all thought yer pup had gotten swallowed into a deep trench of homework or something. Well, truth be known I did for a while.
Between tending to car wrecks with the VFD and quarterly finals I've been a bit busy, and I'll have to restate that that is the last time I'll not
read the page for over a week. Now for the point of this message: I need help.

Yeah, that's right, your exuberant, journalist/fire-fighter wanna-be pup needs help, and on no easy topic either. I have been assigned a task
to research and communicate my findings on any given topic, and, silly me, chose the on-the-job life of a wildland fire fighter, a topic in
whcih he has very little knowledge base to write about.  This being said, if any of you old dogs out there would be willing to share some
experiences with me I'd appreciate it beyond words. Some things I'd be interested to hear about include: How long you waited for dinner
back at camp, Equipment malfunctions (chains, pumps, even broken pulaski handles (HEAVEN FORBID!)), Discussions over coffee in the
morning, how much sleep you did (or didn't) get. Details details details. I may not be a skillful as a writer as Tom Clancy is in relating
everything, but I'd like to try to emulate his accuracy. How do you guys live while you are doing what you love? Dispatchers: I could use
words of wisdom from you as well, Maybe even spotters, or look-out tower keepers. I want to know how life is from the first waft of smoke
on the horizon to the last bit of soot you wash from your face.

Once again, if any of you old dogs would be interested in sharing
any thing with me, I'd appreciate it. Send e-mail to rangertiny@hotmail.com

Thanks in advance,

Tiny, the R-6 Fire-pup

For those of you who aren't aware of who Tiny is, get y'er butt in the Archives pages and do some research.  For the regular readers, help him out!  Actually Tiny, the One More Time thread may be all you need.  Thre is some great stuff in those posts!  Ab.

03/29 Hello Firefighters and Abercrombie

This is my first visit to your site. Nice colors and setup. Thanks for the 
unofficial version of the Rains Report. I heard I could get it here. I tried 
to download the official pdf version earlier today from a FS website. 
Downloading was taking a VERY LONG time and crashing other programs. I 
finally gave up. The version you link to is much easier to get onto my 
computer. I'm going to send some friends over here to get a fast copy. Do 
you do this often? It's a good service!


Glad you are here rkeck.  You ask, "Do I do this often?"  Do I do what often?  Do I provide a place for people to voice their opinions and post information that may not be obtainable elsewhere?  Hopefully. . . Ab.

03/29 re: notes about the video clip from Sacramento, from Mellie, HELLitorch
et al:

the webmasterboy for the CIIMW website is now aware of the browser
incompatibility problems and is working on them. patience is a virtue.


Yup, 'an knowledge is power, but only when it's shared.  Ab.

03/29 Mellie
To play the honor guard video in netscape, open real player and cut and
paste the URL (http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/fire/ciimw/ ) into the open
location window. It's not too good of a clip, but you'll get the idea.
03/29 Hey Ab.,

Have not had a chance to read They Said for over a week...lobbying in St. Paul...it is the legislative season.
To the post regardng support by our Gov. Jesse Ventura.
The MWFA has repeatedly asked the Gov. to respond in any way to our letters to him. NO RESPONSE.
Even worse...his commissioner of Natural Resources also refuses to respond...has told the very underlings that are responsable for causing/ignoring
problems to "deal with us". Since they would rather keep thier past mistakes quiet...they do not "deal" with us. Unless of course their edict to make an
example of me by officially blackballing me is thier way of dealing. Since this has been thier standard way of "dealing with troublemakers" in the
past...and they informed me in writing that my activism was "affecting my future employability" over a year ago...I expected it. What an impotent
response...considering that as the administrator of the NEWRL I now have more fire job contacts than any other person on the planet. 

I was a strong Jesse Ventura supporter when he was "talking the talk"...about creating a state govt. that is responsible to the people of the state...
unfortunately once he was elected he promptly(and conveniently) forgot about it. Just another politician with campaign promises...he doesn't "walk
the walk".
We have learned that to make significant changes (which the MWFA has) we needed to take chances and fight...going directly to the legislature and
media. I have no regrets for the chances I took. Risk=Reward. As always I am more than willing to help other interested in starting a similar
Association in thier state...or going national.

We have finalized the MWFA National EmergencyWildfireResourceList registration form and fee.
If you are willing to post it Ab I would appreciate it immensely. I can then devote more time to administering it and well...life.

10-4 Dana.  Interested parties can find the aplication here: MWFA Application Ab.

03/29 Hellitorch, Tonka and All,

Helli, thanks for the honor guard link. It doesn't work with Netscape. I'll
try to view it on a friend's computer. (I don't think the people maintaining
many of the FS sites realize that they're set up only for Internet Explorer
and, hence, exclude about 40% of the population of readers. Wonder if there's
a conspiracy going with Bill Gates?)

Tonka (and Ab and others), great job on the new FWFSA web page! The new look
and additional information are *SERIOUS* contributions to the statement that
we are "professionals"! As most of you know, the web is soooooooo powerful in
getting the word out. Thanks you guys, for doing the tedious work of making
FF issues known in Washington via the web and/or going there in person! Hey,
we need people to sign up! We'll have POWER in numbers!

Everyone, I hope you're being safe out there. A good friend whom I spent time
with last Wed. at the Sacramento meetings was hit by a 12"DBH falling snag while
hooking a slopover up here in our mountains. He's been in ICU since late Friday
with 3 cracked thoracic vertebrae. The docs think he'll be OK, but he's pretty
immobalized now! My prayers are with him and his family. 

EACH of you, PLEASE BE SAFE for all of us. I love ya'll.


03/28 Here's an unofficial link to the report known as the Raines Report, a report examining large fire costs:
 http://www.wildfirenews.com/fire/rains/   Ab.
03/28 A lot of hard work has been, and is being done to benefit you, the Wildland
    The FWFSA has been  in Washington D.C. addressing the IAFF
convention and visiting Congressional offices. There is lots of support
for our issues. To find out what they are, "stop Lurking"  and
lend your support, visit http://www.fwfsa.org
Don't stand by quietly reaping the benefits, we need your support!!!

Abercrombie concurs and will be working with Tonka to help promote the FWFSA as he overhauls and maintains the new, improved, web site.

03/28 Congratulations to Stan Stewart the new Los Padres Hot Shot Superintendent,
may the tradition continue.
03/28 MOC4546,

I have a copy of the 1983 Water Handling and Equipment Guide.  I will be happy to assist, what you got to trade?


Hunter '45,

You can add these to your "Just One More Time" list:

Just One More Time: I would like to be humping up the line or scouting ahead of the Division and thinking this is a young person's game
and it is time to quit.  Knowing full well that I would be back next year.

Just One More Time: I would like to feel the straps of my line pack cutting into my shoulders and waist at the end of a shift.

Just One More Time: I would like to be sitting in an Idaho wilderness Spike Camp meadow with 150 other people, eating dinner brought in
by a pack string and watching a gorgeous sunset.

Just One More Time: I would like to be in that same meadow hugging Tom Shepard as he got off the helicopter and feeling like I drained off
some of the pain he was feeling that September day in '94. 

Just One More Time: I would like to teach a class of 280 new people in Basic Fire School and have some of them come up after the final
exam and say they think they have found something they will love to do.

Just One More Time: I would like to be in the middle of a dying 20,000 acre South Zone fire looking for hotspots and run into an old friend I
smokejumped with years ago.

Just One More Time: I would like to go on a 3.5 mile training run and agree beforehand that we would not make a race out of it for the last
1/2 mile.  All the time knowing "Mouse" would pick up the pace on his 26" legs and I would be in hot pursuit with my 34" legs.  Then
spend our cool down time arguing over who started racing first.

Just One More Time: I would like to sit in the Glen Helen Regional Park and complain about the frozen turkey dinner I was having for
Thanksgiving.  (Just remembered the shovel box races across the lake there also.)

Just One More Time: I would like to be on a torch helping light a unit and wondering why anyone would knowingly choose to work in an

Just One More Time: I would like to get that late night/early morning call "The team is up" from the Ops Chief or "I just heard rumbling in
clouds to the SW and they are headed this way" from the lookout.

Just One More Time: I would like to hear my wife say "Not another fire T-shirt".

Just One More Time: I would like to have the Midnight Suns, ZigZag, Redmond and Prineville Hotshots on my Division and shake my head
at the amount of work they produced on a daily basis, day after day. 

Just One More Time: I would like to be in R-8 fighting fire with a fire rake.

Just One More Time: I would like to relive the last fire I was on with the knowledge that it would be that last time I would ever gear up in
Nomex, line gear, hardhat, gloves and Whites. I would like to feel the heat and smell the smoke.

Just One more Time: I will remember all the places I have been, country I have seen and most importantly; friends I have made thru
being connected to wildland fire suppression and fire prevention


03/28 I was showing the fireman that works for us your page so I thought I might
say Hi.

Ron Belveal

Hi.  Ab.

03/28 Hunter '45,
Don't feel bad, there's the contract fire people that are looking for
firefighters with your attitude and experience.  Give a local contract fire
company a call.   It may not be the steady shot of wildland fire, but it
will give you a chance to sip that morning cup of coffee with the crew and
push you to keeping that body in the best shape (as possible) for many years
to come.
03/27 Mellie
If you missed the bagpipes go to: http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/fire/ciimw/
click on Day-to-day highlights from the workshop and Video of Honor
Guard Ceremony. You need Real Player to run it.


03/27 The new link to the 310-1 Wildland Fire & Prescribed Fire Qualification System Guide - 2000 is:
To Hickman and Firehorse, 

I too, am fast approaching my last fire season.  My knees look like two old 
beat-up leather footballs from all of the repairs we have had to make on them 
over the years.  That being said, I just can't see myself not being able to 
make the next fire season,  even though it has to happen soon. 

I have put together a short list of things that kept me coming back each year 
for the past 30+ years.  I call it "Just One More Time".  There are many more 
reasons to come back than this short list, and I invite all the old fire dogs 
out there to add to this list of: "Just One More Time"

Just One More Time: I would like to make the morning shift change, sip that 
first cup of coffee with the off going crew, and make plans for the upcoming 
day with my crew.

Just One More Time: I would like to empty out my IA pack, replace the old 
chewing gum, eye wash, toilet paper, candy bars, and fusees from last fire 

Just One More Time: I would like to plan my vacation around the upcoming fire 
season, and be sure not be gone during the full moon period.

Just One More Time: I would like to feel the adrenaline rush as the dispatch 
tones are going off sending my crew on a fire response.

Just One More Time: I would like to hear our engineer yell "Holy Shit, look 
at that header", look up, and see the fire in the next district, and hope 
that we will be first on scene.

Just One More Time: I would like to wake up in the middle of the night to the 
sound of a major wind event, knowing that it’s a matter of time before the 
dispatch tones will go off.

Just One More Time: I would like to feel my boots wrap around my ankles as I 
lace up in the early morning dew.

Just One More Time: I would like to stand in the chow line with a hundred 
other strangers of all sizes shapes and origins from all around the country, 
anticipating the sausage and eggs, OJ and hot coffee.

Just One More Time: I would like to get that 2300 hour phone call from the 
dispatcher telling me to be at some far off ranger station for an 0500 
Operational Briefing.

Just One More Time: I would like to lean over the hood of the truck with the 
Crew Sups and Strike Team Ldr’s and work out a plan for the day.

Just One More Time: I would like to come off the fireline, squat down waiting 
for the ride back to camp, leaning back on my pack and knowing that we all 
gave it a 100%.

Just One More Time: I would like to stand around the warming fire in the 
evening at the spike camp and talk about all the fires we fought in the past 
and how good we were then. compared to now.

Just One More Time. . .

Hunter '45


03/27 Re:  MOC4546 post about things that need to change for wildland fire folks...

MOC, I couldn't agree with your post more.  In fact, I posted something 
similar a couple of weeks ago.

There is only one problem with your post...You talk about not being 
"political".  Unfortunately, the issues going on with the federal wildland 
pay issues ARE POLITICAL.

We are in a cycle where Congress allocates our budget.  They base our budget 
on what we tell them we do.  Right now, NFMS is the budgeting tool we use to 
tell them how much money we need to be at our "most effective level". 
Nationwide, we are not consistent in what we think is "our business".  We are 
also not consistent in our thinking about our cost/benefit for the land we 
protect.  All this plays a factor in the money we get to do our work.

I work in R-5.  California is constantly being criticized as being "out 
there" when it comes to how we do business.  Ya know what?  We DO do business 
differently.  We have to.  Our seasons tend to last longer.  We have some 
issues that other regions don't have to deal with.  I'm not going to list the 
issues, you all know what they are.

There are a lot of good people out here taking on NATIONAL issues for the 
greater good, including many that you've addressed here.  The biggest battle 
we face is the "traditional" mindset that "older generation" fire folks hold 
onto.  Many of these folks are currently in policy making positions.  We hear 
things like, "FS fire modules are here for management and protection of the 
natural resources.  We are not funded to be a professional firefighters.  We 
are not funded for medical runs."  So guess what?  We are not funded for 
other "risks" unless they are directly related to protection of the natural 
resources or requested by FEMA.  Because we don't tell Congress this is work 
that we do.

This is the mindset that keeps us from making much progress in the areas you 
say we need to advance.  I don't want to imply that EVERYONE in policy making 
positions holds onto the "habits, traditions and past practices" that hold us 
back.  There are several upper management officials who are working very hard 
to help increase the incentives for more FS employees to support fire 
management activities.

It isn't fair to lump all management into a "cesspool".  For every manager I 
hear saying "that's not the way we do it", I've heard ground pounders say the 
very same thing.  We should be proud of our traditions.  I've worked for this 
organization for over 20 years because of some of these traditions.  But we 
also need to know when to evolve beyond those traditions.  Appreciate where 
we come from, but don't hold on to those beliefs to the point where we 
paralyze ourselves.  If we don't start evolving beyond these pay issues, 
we're going to become extinct.

Firefighters who love this work also need to get paid for what they are 
worth.  They can no longer feed their families on their love for this job. 
They need to feed their families 12 months out of the year, not just 6 
months.  They need to earn salaries that are equal to the risks they take on 
and the professionalism they display.

I heard at the CIIMT meeting last week that the portal-to-portal issue is 
dead.  I heard that the 24 hour shifts are just a ploy to get 
portal-to-portal pay.  So, we're being told we can't use them as viable shift 
options to put fires out.

These are all RUMORS!  This is all BULLSHIT.  We have many tools available to 
us to help us get our work done.  We need to use as many of them as we can. 
A hammer may work to pound in a nail, but it doesn't work well to install a 

I've challenged you to write to your local Congressional representatives to 
get them to understand the issues.  That's the external way to get these 
issues addressed.  If you continue to depend on internal sources to get these 
changes made, it won't happen quickly.

We need to attack this issue from both flanks just like we would attack a 
fire.  These issues won't get contained if we don't do this.


03/27 There is a lot of frustration out there about the
packtest, primary purpose budgeting, max-out pay, the
decreased number of the "militia", etc.  Seems to me
that we have 3 trends that are going to come together
in a train wreck:

1. Fewer firefighters available to put into the field.
2. Extreme fire behavior becoming more comman due to
fuel accumulations resulting from past fire
suppression.  You see alot more fires blowing and
going now than you did in the 1970s.
3. More people building their houses in the woods and
not following any type of interface safety guidelines.

The net result is that we are going to have more large
fires (exhibiting extreme fire behavior), have more
resources (houses) in the wildland to protect, and
will have fewer resources to use to do our jobs.

The bottom line for me is that if I can help keep the
people that I work with SAFE!, I won't lose to much
sleep about the rest.  I will continue to try to do my
job to the best of my ability with the resources
provided, but if we lose a few houses in the process,
oh well.  Sounds callous I know, but I have yet to be
stampeded by rich people asking me for advice on how
to build a fire-safe house out in the woods.

I hate to sound like a motivational speaker, but the
future is full of opportunities.  If you supervise a
group of firefighters safely through a potentially
hazardous situation you can educate them and possibly
earn their respect.  If you refuse to send them into
dangerous situations you are doing the highest calling
that you can do as a fire supervisor. 

Folks, things are going to continue to appear to go
downhill.  So what?, we can not much about it.  Keep
your people SAFE and just recognize that we are going
to be handed incredable photo opportunities!  Keep
that camera ready!


I don't see you as being callous 6, just realistic (or for those readers with a college degree, pragmatic).  Many firefighters I know spent part of the off season trying to rid themselves of guilt feelings over escaped fires they used to be able to catch.  Ab.

03/27 I'm looking for wildland fire "slang" terminology with meanings.  A local
band is writing lyrics and ask for terms used by wildland firefighters.  The
normal glossary terms I have, but it's the slang that's really needed for
music.   email to firemeup@fire-stop.com         Thanks!
03/26 Ab:  Just love this short term memory of mine.  I'm currently working on a Ford F-8000 with a Marmon Harrington factory 4wd conversion.  I need
some misc. parts and most importantly is where can I contact Marmon Harrington for service manuals, etc.  can you help?
thanks again Ab.
03/25 G'Day 
Well, obviously i found your site, and it looks good. But i also need some help (If you can). Now i'm in Australia, a member of the New
South Wales RFS(Volunteer). Basically what i'd like to know is this. do you guys get paid to do fire fighting as a full-time job, and if so,
how would i go about getting into it if i wanted to come over to America for a season or two? Wellthanks for your time, and i hope to hear
from you soon.

Ben Barry

03/25 Dear Sirs!

I liked Your site very much. I would like to ask You for permission to 
install link to Your site via my own site .Fire Service in Republic of 
Belarus. (http://www.armybook.com/fire/index.phpl). There is interesting
information in English installed on my server. The information devoted to
fire-fighting engines in Republic of Belarus, fire-fighting engine history 
in Russia from the book .The Complete Story of Russian Fire Engines from 
1700 to 2000. (in English and German) and can be useful for those who call 
on your server. If You have nothing against installation in Your room the 
communication that pointing to my server (HTML code is appended to the 
letter) I would appreciate to You extremely. Allow me to express my 
sincere gratitude for so necessary and useful server. 

Yours faithfully
Serg Berg


Just call me Ab, Serg.  Drop the "Sirs" stuff or I'll start looking over my shoulder to see if there's a Colonel or General behind me.  Don't get too excited folks, the web site serves as a port for selling a book.  That's ok, I'm a capitalist too!

In response to the note from Hickman about folks getting too old for the line; but, still having valuable experience to assist the fire
suppression organization.  This has been a problem within the FS since I got involved 30+ years ago.  One thing I tried to do was sit down
once a year and counsel each person on the Zone (Two Ranger Districts).  I wanted to know their ultimate goal in fire suppression, and if
we supported reaching their goal would they then make themselves available.  If their only interest was in Operations, they were then
counseled to consider a secondary track besides Ops.  Some drug their feet and only wanted to do Ops and Ops only.  My usual
approach at that point was to give them a scenario of:  What happens when you hit the big 50 and the old body starts protesting all the
years of humping the hills or just plain gives out?  If you do not have a parallel training/qualifications track going, you can, and probably will
get left in the dust.  Most managers and bean counters figure you don't have enough years left in the organization to warrant investing time
and money in your training to bring you up to speed for quals in any area outside of Operations.  They probably have some other young
person that they are grooming for that position that they are willing to put the money into knowing that in the long run they will get several
years out of them vs. five more out of you.

For those of you that are just starting or are relatively young I know it is hard to think of doing anything on a fire other than going up
against the Dragon in hand to hand combat.  But; I can guarantee you that some day you will not be able to face the Dragon head to head,
but still want to help kick his butt.  Get with your Fire Management people now and start that parallel fire career track!  You can still devote
most of your time to Operations jobs; but when the body says enough is enough, you will have some qualifications to fall back on that will
still keep you in the fire suppression business.

A sidenote here:  You may be a well qualified Operations Stud/Studette that is a real go-getter, then sudenly out of nowhere you get
smacked up alongside the head with a rare disease like I did and you are left out in the cold.  I figured I had alot of years left of doing the
job I loved almost more than my family (My wife considered fighting fires to be an acceptable mistress!) and the next thing I knew I was out
of fire suppression altogether and out of a job.  Enjoy every fire you go on as if it was your last, cuz it could be!

For those of you that will be on the lines this year my heart and prayers are with you!  I follow the NIFC daily reports and you will have one
person that will never second guess your decisions on a fire.  I read this from someone in "They Said" in a note from 3/25 and it is some of
the best advice I heard in 30 years of fighting fire: "All these guys know that their fire shelter is not on their belt but between their ears." 
A lot of wisdom in that statement! 


Thanks for the post Firehorse!  Most firefighters are aware of the risk from fires, but as you point out there are other situations life may bring to modify your dreams.  I'm personally glad you are watching the site and sharing your thoughts and experience with us.  Ab.

03/25 Supe's party was an eye opener to me and probably to many other younger LP guys.  We are lucky to have worked for Supe and Bone.  There aren't many other real "old school" guys left these days.  Most all of the guys that are lucky enough to get to work for these men know about paying their dues and learning from the best.  The ones who stick it out and stay on the crew long enough to get something out of it are quality young men.  They would be successful at whatever carrer path chosen.  All of these guys know that there fire shelter is not on there belt but between there ears.  Many have collage diplomas.  These young men are a great asset to the federal agencies and the fire fighting community in general.  Why do over half of them end up choosing another career despite there love of the fire line?  Lack of benefits?  Budget cuts?  Non-merit based promotion?  This problem is not central to the LP it happens everywhere.  There is a large population of people directly and indirectly involved with wildland firefighting in the United States that is silent.  Let someone know that you don't agree with agency policy.  Write your representative.  The knowledge men like Supe have shared need not be lost because of politics. Most Politicians have one goal, from Bill Clinton to some district, and most forest supervisors.  They want to stay in office.  If we can bring a powerful voice to the table in Washington, things will change.  Maybe we will not lose some of the quality people that have been lost in the past.  That knowlage can stay where it belongs...... 
03/25 Here is a little feed back on the packtest.  On our unit we tested 113
people, 111 of those passed.  Those are not bad odds.  We tested every
size and shape of people there are.  The best part of the packtest is
that it is up to the individual to do it.  Get in shape and be ready for
it, it is as simple as that.  It is a much better test than stepping up
and down on a box for 5 minutes, and letting some scale tell you if you
are in shape or not.  I found that I could pass the step test with a
higher score if I took the test on the mens box and mens scale than on
the womans box and scale, what is up with that......

Yes is is more weight than you may have packed in your regular line
gear, I think when I was on the shot crew the limit was 35 pounds, add a
tool or bladder bag to that and there you go.

Most of the dispatchers in our office take it so that they can
participate in line activities either in the spring or fall.  This
promotes them keeping their line quals up and getting them out to see
different places on the district.  All in all I think it helps them do a
better job.

I know that the majority of folks on our unit believe that it is a much
better test of endurance and strength than the step test ever was.

Good Luck,

03/25 Having been in the FS for almost 30 years, I am priveleged to have known and 
worked for the Supe.  There's no other like him, and certainly no other that 
has developed so many young "sports' " into the fine folks they are today.

His party was fitting for the dedication he put into his career.  Klinger 
from LACO who MCed the shindig had me pissing my pants I was laughing so hard!
My thanks to Stan "the bone" Stewart, Tom "shorty" Clack, and last but not 
least, "killer" Abu Bin Laden Duprey..They put together a hell of a good time 
for us all! JW

03/25 Those "embarassing" BBQ aprons that I presented to Linane at his retirement 
party are a great gift for someone who knows how to have fun, and is not 
concerned with fitting into the Politically Correct world 24 hours a 
day..Guaranteed you'll have a great time at anyone's BBQ with one of these 

Want one? Contact: jwa1057@aol

03/25 The BLM in Moab Utah is looking for qualified fire fighters for the 2000 season especially a qualified
 engine operator or assistant foreman. If you are interested or know someone who is contact the
department of work force services before the end of the month at 435-259-3700.
Thanks, Terry

Now here's a new type post for the page. . . an outreach announcement for employment.  Very creative Terry.  Ab.

03/25 capt. 73:
I'm currently checking with a friend of mine who mfgs. cafs system to glean some more info for you.  I'll try to find the addy and get it back to you
asap.  please email me at rmmcgee@jps.net 
03/25 Where the FS is becoming short handed and then there
are those which can not pass the pack test, but those
individuals could be very valued assets to the fire
service in other ways.  There are more levels to the
pack test than the ARDUOUS.  These individual which
can not pass that part should still be able to preform
within other areas such as Safety or in Fire Behavior
Areas or even be able to put their years of experiance
and knowledge to use in the upper end, Staging,
Office-type work with occasional field activity. 

I agree that knowledge is very important on the line,
but is it not just as important on the head end?  I am
sure that a lot you these individuals are more than
able to direct or lead others.  But they are unsure of
their abilities.  I like many others would love to be
a ground pounder as long as possible, but time is
getting short for that.  Now is the time to start
thinking about doing something else, like educating
ourselves in (a real DURTY WORD)...MANAGEMENT...
If you can survive in Management, then you can change
things for the future. Change the things that needed
changing in the past, keep you heads-up and improve
the things that need improving.  If it takes going all
the way to DC, then do it.  Just don't set out on your
behinds and watch the world run off. 
If you know of someone who can't make the grade as a
firefighter, but they are a good leader, encourage
them in moving up the ladder.  It sometime take an
attitude adjustment to do what you want and if you
can't adjust your own, then maybe it is time to get

..(as I climb down off the soapbox)..there's two cents
you can take to the bank.. and I hope it earns
interest for you..


03/25 Note from Dana to Ab regarding responses to "HOLY COW" post on 3/23:

Hey Ab,
I received 47 responses...most from firefighters...some from contractors...2 from Govt. employees. More today!
The contractors seem to be networking well and are enthusiastic about the new resource from what I can see here.
It appears that some NIFC folks would rather not have to dispatch "human" resources...would be happy with equipment only.
Others in Govt. agencies (western) are happy that contractors will have access to resources from the Midwest...hope it will cut down
on "predation" of "their resources". Am still waiting for final OK from MWFA working committee on registration forms and fees.
Would you consider posting them on your site so they could be downloaded easily by firefolk? Currently I am emailing copies to
individuals...but will be swamped if the volume keeps up. Am also considering web site of own but simply cannot devote the time
right now. Thanks again for your help...this may be a big change in wildfire employment.
 I personally hope that it will lead to the formation of a nationwide counterpart of the MWFA which will actually fight(as we do) for
better working conditions, better pay, higher safety standards, and real benefits for wildfire fighters. In just the few years that we have
been in existence we have increased the actual value of "firepay" by nearly 30% in MN. We have had to initiate lawsuits(several
against the state and one against the Forest Service) and lobby hard to get the results...but we got result in a relatively short period of
time and our membership has grown exponentially as our smokechasers realized that their support increased our clout and more clout
meant better working conditions for them.
Edit and include this in "they said if you wish.
Dana Linscott
Vice chair

Dana, when you are ready for links to the ap's, just let me know.  Ab.

03/25 Hi All--

Just got back from a day in Sacramento at the California Interagency Incident
Management Team meeting. Hellitorch, Sthil, San Bernardino Honor Guard, I thought
of all of you when I heard there was an Honor Guard event. I missed the bagpipes.
I was hoping someone took it in! Thanks Helli for reporting! Man, I'm bummed
I didn't get to meet you! Next time carry a drip torch or some larger identifying
object! I often carry a notebook. Drives those who are paranoid CRAZY!

My invite was from R5 and my visit was brief. (I only got permission for one
day away from FF1. My CDF instructor is just RELENTLESS!) I hustled down late
Tues. and mostly heard the afternoon presentations Wed., including Quintanar's
one-crutch classic! Nice talk, funny! Ray sounded like a strident cross between
the Preacher and the Law. He went off on computerized timekeeping on incidents
(barcodes on redcards, no less!), WFSA projections and fire perimeters, ICTs
needing to understand local agreements with soverign entities (Indians), the
murder of Dick Blood, problems with unclear IAPs, the "need to follow rules
we've set each and every time, no exceptions" in terms of zero tolerance, AD
crews, etc and <catch of breath> demonstrated correct and incorrect ways to
conduct a briefing! Anyone want more on any of these topics and we'll try to
get a thread going...

Ray also mentioned the 14 vs 21 day assignments. It was discussed in a meeting
in depth before I arrived. Can anyone shed some light on that? If not, I'll
give him a call, clarify and report back. Sounds like there's more latitude
than first thought... 

The other interesting presentation IMO was an overview of proposed California
IC Certification System that will bring all agencies involved in ICT-level fire
into the same system (NWCG 310-1) with course work, PTBs and peer review. (Remember,
one of the first questions I asked theysaid last Nov related to discrepancies
in training. Felt like deja vu.) The board addressing this includes California
fire chiefs, OES rep, USFS, state Fire Marshall, and 3 other organizations.
With CDF and greater city fire services involvement along with USFS, standerdization
of the training (OJT) portion is necessary--but I don't think there was a CDF
rep. (At the level below the ICT, we need to have the same standards/requirements
for contractors and AD crew members as for other groundpounders, etc. Contractors
may be working on this. What about AD crews??? Comments to the effect that these
crews have seriously declined in quality of late especially as a fire has dragged
on as the BigBar did.) 

Had dinner with Team 5, Dale Dague's team. FYI, I've heard that Dale has a birthday
complete with embarrassing "song" every team event! What a hoot! Of course,
the logistics person (Carl R.) had to do dinner logistics at first, but that
was taken over by the info person (Dave F.) who had all the answers, the big
smile and the camera. The finance person had to get the bill, collect the money
and come up with a payment plan. As a dedicated Federal economist, when there
seemed to be a financial shortfall, she demanded to know who had ordered the
dip for the bread sticks (no one had) and wanted that charge stricken! Turned
out there was more money greenbacking in and all worked out... Great fun-- great
team SPIRIT! (and to the team 5 guy I talked to after dinner who said that theysaid
is like family, I agree <ohsohappy grin>)

Thanks to L.L. who let me coyote at his place in Upper Lake, to Brian who invited
me to dinner, to RQ for inviting me, to Hutch for the hug, and to others...
 To firedoc, I don't feel comfortable answering that question on the internet--


TO cs.o. AND bs AND ab AND firechick AND FireBooger AND mtwo AND Eric
AND Tony AND everyone else on the pack test stuff:

jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeminy christmas already on the development and
applicability of the pack test compared to step test and so on and so on
ad nauseum. I've been meaning to put this online in html for a
loooooooong time and still haven't got to it. I swear I'll do it soon,
okay?????? IN THE MEANTIME, though, here ya go, in (ack) pdf format, the
goods on the pack test and its development and testing and testing


Pay attention to the directions and click on the "pack test" link. 

NOTE that this was written over a year ago. Keep that in mind as you
read it! I plan to update it and put a fresh version online soon --
including addressing the questions about "what about the firedogs who
flunk" and other current questions and issues. For now, though, please
SHUT UP about how it is or is not relevant to the real world on the
fireline!! At least until you know how and why it was developed!

<end of tirade>

thank you.

Kelly Andersson. <=and no I am not Mellie.

03/24 Everyone,
     I am looking for a copy of the old Water Handling guide that was published back in 1983 and reprinted in 1987 or 1988. This book has a
white cover with either red or blue lettering, and contains specific information regarding wildland fire engines, and specific equipment
related to wildland firefighting. If you have a copy please post your e-mail so I can contact you. I need it for a research project, but no one I
know from fire management can locate the book or something similar.

      To the person who has passed on the subject regarding the problems our brother and sister wildland firefighters from Minesota are
having getting longer employment, out of state fire assignments, and better pay and benifits, out of curiosity have you appoached your
Governor, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, been notified about it and if so what has his response been? Seeing how he was elected on being
against stuff like this, I am curious as to what he said about it.

      As to the Great Contractor Debate, I want to put my two cents in. I have worked with and know many people in the contracting
business in Region 5. Some have outstanding equipment, some older but well functioning equipment, and some bad looking equipment
but it does the job.
All of the contractors I have met are professional, consistant in the perfomance of their assignments, and do not try to do a half-ass job.
There is a place for contractors in the wildland fire community in the initial attack, support, mop-up, and prescribed burning operations that
we have going on all over the western USA. But contractors are not, and should not be a replacement for the paid, permanent government
firefighting staff. We have all read in this month's "They Said" the different opinions on contractors with their positive and negative
asspects. If you have surfed the Internet and have seen just how many contractors are out there, the level of professionalism that many of
them maintain in their training, personnel, and equipment there is going to always be a place for them. 

      They realise that much of what the contract out for is fire suppression, either IA or mop-up, and that there are good years and bad.
1997 and 1998 almost put many contractors out of business, and in Oregon I understand as many as ten contractors folded or closed up
because of the lack of fires and project work. I have heard all this about supporting the contractors and bidding out RX burns, establishing
standby and training fees, use of contractors on first and second alarm responses, and using them on out-of-area campaign fires. I have
also heard back and forth that the forests and land agencies support such a plan, but when it comes down to it nothing happens with
these proposals. These people want to work, not just collect a paycheck for existing. Many contractors try to hustle the work in proposing
RX burns, fuel management, private urban interface protection, and have expanded to providing training courses, hazard reduction, disaster
management and other non-fire operations. 

      But contractors are not, and should not be a replacement for a government fire agency. If the forests continue to use contractors for
fire suppression they need to support them by following through on agreements made for levels of work. The attitude of "We know you
want to go to a fire, but we need you here incase we break a fire, so we're not going to release you to other fires and keep you here. But
unfortunately we can't pay you until we have a fire and we send you to it." does not pay the bills or feed the family. There has been too
much corruption in the past by contracting out tasks without some king of government oversite and a government type of crew to compare
it to. If we keep contractors, then they need to be treated equally as far as assignments by ALL agencies, no favorites, no special uses,
no "hiding resources" for a fire that has yet to exist. Contractors also need to understand that just because you get on the list does not
mean that you will go to a fire (like the right to own and bear arms), that this is ON-CALL. If you wanted the 40-week Forest Firefighter Job
then you should apply for it. Contractor also need to be honest with there employees about the number of times they may go out, keeping
them informed of the status of there company like where they are on the response lists, being honest about projected work assignments,
and letting them know if problems occur that can affect future fire assignments. 

     One thing that affects all of us, public or private, is the use of the military on fires. National Guard helicopters and air tankers are not
supposed to be used unless almost all air resource, which are predominately privatized, have been committed to all fires and the
maximum drawdown limit has occured. Military personnel are not supposed to be used unless ALL public and private resources have
reached maximum drawdown. Yet on very large scale fires this happens regularly. 
You may think its not so, but think back to where you were during the Siege of '87, Yellowstone '88, or the other big fire years. I can name
MANY goverment IA crews, AD crews, possible put-together crews, engine crews, and others who were not there but were available to go.
The forests, contractors, and the Wildland Firefighter Union need to come together and get a solid, binding agreement with management
regarding the use of military soldiers to act as firefighters, either IA or Type2. Use up EVERY GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE CONTRACT
FIRE CREW BEFORE CALLING THE MILITARY FOR ADDITIONAL MANPOWER. When these people come in they have to go through
the Basic 32-hour  Academy (s-110,130, and 190) which means that the crews on the resource list who are READY TO GO are not being
used. Decide which way to go, and stick with it.

      On the pay issue, I keep hearing how so many of the overhead want a simpler pay scale for wildland firefighters so they get fair,
comparable wages, but management (or a single bean counter trying to make a name for themselves) continue to water it down so they
don't have to pay a fair wage. So let me put this suggestion out:

* Move the 0462, 0455, 0303, and other wildland fire catagories out of the Technician Series and make them Firefighters in the 0081

* 24 hour staffing may not be feasible in all locations, so continue with the 40-hour except where urban interface is commonplace.

* Stop being "wildland" organizations and move into the "all-risk" responsibilities like responding to medicals, traffic accedents, haz-mats,
rescues, ect., on a seasonal schedule, rather than a year-round operation. More and more agencies have expanded there operations and
responsibilities to be more competitive, productive, and harder to cut.

* When going to campaign fires, move to a Portal-to-Portal 24-hour pay scale where your paid from the time you leave home until the time
you get back. Do not use a flat rate, but rather continue on the 40-hour schedule with overtime after 8 standard hours per day, but do away
with hazard pay, night differential, Sunday differential, and all those little incremental payments as a trade off. Lay down the law that you
are on call 24 hours a day, no excuses. Which mean no bar hopping, no alcohol, no shenanagans, and no bad behavior like have occured
on long assignments which blacken a crew's record and agency's reputations. We are professionals and we should be paid, treated, and
act like professionals. 

* Those personnel who are at the GS-10 and above levels need to have the overtime cap removed so they to can be fairly paid for there

* Government employees who are not Primary Fire but have signed up for it should receive the same pay mentioned above under the same
curcomstance, however, all Primary Fire employees need to be utilized before calling out secondary fire crews. Too many time in the past
fire management personnel have be available for assignments but employees who work outside fire get called before they do. This has to
come to an end. 

    Along with this forests and districts have played the game with Region as to resource availability as to "they are not avaialble" to go out
of region. When you are called, you go. When single resources are called, that forest needs to send them and GIVE THAT EMPLOYEE
TIME TO CATCH UP WITH THEIR OTHER DUTIES!!! No more "you can go to the fire for 21-days, but your project due dates are still the
same. That is B.S.!!! You get called to the fire, then give the employee the time to catch up.

Boy, its easy ot get side tracked when your on a roll.

Finally, everyone needs to get involved, from the 35 year veteran to the first-season firefighter, in what goes on in there district and forest
fire management programs. Work together to meet the goals. Know what's going on, keep informed. Share the wealth and don't play


03/23 Has anyone had any experience with the Econo-CAFs system from CFX in El Segundo?  According to the manufacturer, it will pump 100 gpm of water, compress air, and inject foam with one small Honda engine to give CAFs, water, or Class A foam, all in one unit.  It uses a 12 cylinder rotary design to do all this with one 6 HP gas engine or potentially a 24 volt motor.  Has anyone used one of these or its bigger brother?  We are trying to see if it makes sense for us to get one of these.

"Captain 73"

Don Stevens
Poulsbo Fire Department
Kitsap Wildland Team

03/23 HOLY COW!
There must be an awful lot of lurkers out there...my last posting resulted in A LOT of responses...I just spent the morning trying to respond to them all...ended up sending a "kind of form letter" saying please be patient. All "work wanted" emails will get this "form response" and regular updates unless they really request specific information not supplied in the form response. Please,for now at least, keep your emails brief. I have all I can do getting the AAL up and running. I try to read every email I receive...but don't be discouraged if it takes a few days to respond.All potential employers will have their email addresses placed in our mass email program and will receive a test letter next week.

Thanks for your understanding.
Dana Linscott
Vice Chair
(MN Wildland Firefighters' Association)

03/23 not being in the wildland firefighting experience very long it just
seems to me that the pack test is more job specific than the step test.
how many times have you gone to a fire and repeatedly stepped up and
down in place.
pack test is an overall test physically and mentally.
i would rather be on a crew with members that did the pack test.
it doesn't discriminate, if it's in your heart to fight fire, then train
for it.


03/23 "Boo"
  I must commend you on your work regarding the TX Wildland
Firefighter patch logo.  It's a very unique design.  I combed the
volumes of message boards and was fortunate enough to locate 1 single
patch; however, I paid (traded) dearly for it!  Thanks for your


03/22 AB: if I was a contractor I think I would find me a Indian rez that has a killer fire and RX program and buddy up. lots of $$$ in the interior dept.
03/22 Ab just curious what is going to happen to those individuals that can not pass the pack test that have
been in fire for many years and are permanents. I know there are individuals in the FS that have peaked
my curiosity at how they could have passed the step test let alone the pack test.  Are we going to fire
them if fire is their primary job and they can not pass this test. I'm waiting to see how many grievances
and lawsuits come out of this.

I've heard several statements/opinions regarding the consequences of the failure of folks being unable to pass, but haven't seen much quotable in writing.  Theory might be that they would be classified as "physically unable to perform" and thereby forced from their positions.  We'll just have to wait and see the actual results.  I kinda think the ones who want to and are still physically capable, will pass and others may be transferred or placed in some kind of "sunset" position.

Before we get too wasteful though, let's remember many of those who are currently unable to pass may be victims of prior fire injuries.  For those  unaware, fires can be extremely hazardous and wearing to several parts on a persons body and they add up over time.  Although these people can still pass a five minute step test, their knees, ankles, or backs may not support them in the new test.

At some point in time, after receiving their injuries, these firefighters made a decision to keep fighting fires, safe in the belief they were and would continue to be able to pass the existing physical requirements.  Would it be fair to those who fall in this category to merely fire them?  Some of these employees have over 20 years of excellent service and fire experience behind them.  Do we want to toss these veterans who have sacrificed so much on a shit pile just because they may not be the first one's up the hill?  I don't think so.  Ab

03/22 Last month I emailed a "contribution" to "they said" about a project by the Minnesota Wildland Firefighters Association which will establish an Alternative Availability List for wildland firefighters. This was in an effort to combat the practice of "sandbagging" our members (withholding their names from the national availability list without their knowledge in order to keep them around in case they are needed locally). I included my email address for those wishing to respond, linscott@rea-alp.com and I had quite a few responses, most of which were enthusiastic about the concept. 

Some were individuals wondering if they could participate as a "listee", potential employees, looking for a way to make a better living as a firefighter by either working for independent contractors, or at least working more during the fire season.  Quite a few stated that MN was not the only state which engaged in the practice of sandbagging.
Others were independent fire suppression contractors who were interested in the AAL as a simple way to find and contact experienced firefighters without drawing from the rolls of the areas and states for whom they depend upon for fire suppression contracts. The most suprising contacts were from the State forestry and fire suppression agencies which were interested in having access to all the resources they could muster...many of whom were caught short last year when the only resource they had was the NIFC maintained National Availability List. 

Accordingly we are now incorporating provisions for two AAL's one which will go to private contractors...and one which will be available to Agencies of State and Federal Government.   I  believe that the service can be provided for a cost of $10 to $20 per season, per individual. At this time we intend to charge $10 to Minnesota Wildland Firefighters' Association  members and $20 to non members.  Since we have no provision prohibiting Non-Minnesotans from joining...and in fact have quite a few as members now from adjoining states which do not
have an organization like ours to represent them...the actual minimum cost to be on the list is $15 for the first year. If my cost calculations are wrong...I have pledged to eat the overrun myself. This is not intended as a profit making venture, I have volunteered my time to develop and maintain the AAL for the first year...and in the unlikely event that there is a profit generated it will be donated to the MWFFA to support its' ongoing efforts at forming an actual prototypical  wildland firefighters union.

The AAL will be emailed at no cost to subscribers for the first year...there may be a charge in the future, and of course if it proves to be a valuable resource such a charge would be justified...and could help keep the cost to individual "listees" to a minimum.

You must have a current red card to become a "listee...contact me at linscott@rea-alp.com  for a registration form and further details.

Please spread the word to fellow smokechasers and to potential employers...the more that participate the better the AAL will work. For further information contact me via the email address above.

I hope you all have a safe and profitable season.
Dana Linscott

03/22 Hello all--
I've just been informed that Jim Furnish, Asst Chief of the Forest Service,
will be here on our lovely campus for at least two days.  I hear he'll be
speaking on careers and employment (as we know they can be two different
things) with the Forest Service  and also on the direction of the FS.  I,
personally, am loaded with questions for him and will be attending both
events.  However, as always on this site, there are rumblings of issues
that people are looking for answers to.  I definitely love to take the
opportunity to put a little pressure on policy people whenever I can, so if
y'all have a major issue you'd like me to try to ask about (that he might
know about and be somewhat accountable for), feel free to pass it along
(but very soon).

Also to you FS types now taking the pack test... good luck.  And to
dispatch dude:  thanks for the note about Interior folks taking it for 3
years now.  I've seen just a few people fail it, and they're the same
people I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to work with.  Most park service
folks have stopped whining, from what I've seen.  Also to dispatch
dude--you said you heard of potential physicals for arduous work ratings.
Who pays for these, and where do you get them taken?  Is this one more step
to making the seasonal life even harder to coordinate?  Just wondering if
anyone else has heard anything....

TO MTWO:  you sound like a person I used to know.  You're not from PA by
chance, are you?

One more question:
I'm starting to work with the local types about coordinating some type of
basic wildland training for volunteer departments and local conservation
folks that is suited to the midwest, particularly the flatlands.  The basic
S-130/S-190 training is more suited to working within the ICS (ie: what to
take in your red pack, how to deal with fire camp, etc.) and in hilly
country (emphasis on southern slope fuels being drier and hotter, box
canyons, etc), so we're trying to find some sources for training that teach
fire behaviour more for grasslands (and corn!) and firefighting using
local-type resources (such as combines--thought you'd all get a smile out
of that one...).  Anyway, no use re-inventing the wheel, so if anyone has
any ideas or contacts, please let me know.  I think we're not the only
midwesterners headed down this route either, so maybe if anyone's out there
we could start something.  Who knows....

thanks all--


03/22 Smoaky----Best words of fire wisdom I've heard of in a very long time!! 
warren EX ic EAICT
03/21 so who is the contracter that is not going to get the contract.. also the guy 
in eastern wash  that stole all the gear . he took a medical retirement...he 
needs to be in jail.. yes there is some junk out there but we as pvts need to 
look over that and clean our own game up .. to eric i may not agree with you 
some  times but i do respect you   ...firedoc
03/21 Ab,
Contracted crews & equipment resources in R-6 are already contracted and
administered at the regional level. But, they are ALWAYS dispatched at
the local or zone level, just like national resources, IHC's, type II
helo,s and IMT's.  Whats new in R-6 this year is that, contract crews
will part of the mix of agency crews dispatched by the local host units.
The dispatching all use to take place out of Salem (Oregon Dept
Forestry),  now they are dispatched by local area units and will be
considered part of the mix unless the RO comes across agency only.

I have a hard copy of  "Policy Implications of Large Fire Management, A
Strategic Assessment of Factors Influencing Costs, USDA FS, Jan 21,
2000.".  I will lurk around to find the electronic version and post.

As of Friday, March 17, pack test is still the test of record.

Tony @ SBA,  You mean in 26 years working for the green machine, this is
the first time you've been led around in circles? Hard to believe. Quit
whining thou, Interior folks have been doing it for 3 years now.

Rumor I hear, is that the test will be scrapped all together next year
in favor of a SF-78 like form and doctors authorization for anyone at
the arduous level. That would be great because the questionnaire puts us
all in a weak  position acting like MD's anyway deciding if all should
go to the doctors, stress EKG's and all that crap.

Dispatch Dude

03/21 Kel,  I completely agree with you on the whole media thing concerning the 
Forest Service.  I'd suggest the feds take a page from the state's book.  In 
northern Cal. CDF are the media darlings. The public loves them for the most 
part.  Their PR people understand that public perception translates into 
public funding. 
    Most of the public has at best a vague notion of the  "Forestry Service" 
and when they do think of  the Forest service they think of smokeJumpers in 
Montana or some other far off place.
    Mellie,  As far as the pack tests go,  sounds like it's purpose is to 
discourage older people from qualifying for line duty.  This would make sense 
since every agency goes through a changing of the guard every twenty years or 
so. I'm sure most twentysomething newbies see fortysomething part timers as 
obstacles in their careers.  I know that sounds harsh but were any of us any 
different when we started out?
03/21 Tony, Tony, Tony....@SBA, did you just get back from Linanes party when you wrote your little, what was
it....'Horse Lick?", about the pack test. Cause it sounded like maybe...you were alittle pumped up. I don't know, the
scenerio, in my mind immediately went like this, what was it..Division, BC, Capt, FPT, HS and Heli sup's, Airbase
Mgr. (?) and one militia, who? You all are (500 or so) back slapping happy at the party, couldn't  pick a better place
to vent about this "ludicrous" test. I don't mean to be unfair, but I wouldn't compare the L.P. to many other forests
and their fire shops. You have a hotshot crew and several helitak crews. Your overhead is younger, you've all been
there "together" for a long time, and the good ole boy...thing has been alive and healthy, on at least the last district
you worked...was and probaley still is one of competition, it is hard to be on a forest, much less district with a shot
crew...and Not Be In Shape? You guys are animals...(that was a compliment) The LP, comes with visions of
helicopters on every district, night flying ones, hot shot crews, helishot crews, 5-6 engines a district, more
districts...yada,yada,yada. Well not now, but once, huh? 
  The Step Test sucked, it was so, primed for CD, and just because you could pass it, didn't mean you could do
the 1 1/2 mile run. The run..... what happened with that? Was the run, EVER, totally the only test and mandatoy? 
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the pack test, suppose to simulate carrying hose packs or bladder bags, not only
that, but it's suppose to put your whole entire body in check,  your upper body strenth,your legs your endurance
level. Not just your Areobic capacity, as with the step test, doesn't mean you can hump a pulasky for long periods
of time. You say that you never in your career, carried 45 lbs and walked really fast on level ground, EVER!!! (Well
Dah!) But what about carrying 45lbs  really fast on non-level, up, down and steep ground, for any length of time?
  What was very interesting to me, was admitting it got you in the knees? Now admit it, with all your years in
fire...you've iced them knees up before, you simply got mad that you had to do it again...must be sitting alot in your
present job? Was it because of those knees?  I'd say if the pack test is hard on your knees, at level ground,
perhaps that in itself is something to worry about. ? 
  I heard this nasty rumor, that the LP was thinking about hiring more 13-13's, so they would get the 3 chances the
permanent employees are getting with the pack test, (as opposed to the one chance the temps are getting) and
have them on longer, so that they can stay in better shape?
  I think it would be a good thing to 'administer a real pain in the neck', phsyical agility tests put on and done by the
federal firefighters in other agencies...the GS-808 (I think, don't quote me on that series). Course until the Forest
Service keeps calling their firefighters forestry tech, this pack test won't be the last silly test.
  Their are alot of fire shops out there, in R5, that aren't as tight, committed or as competitive as yours. There is
going to be fall out, those who haven't gotten with the program are going to feel it, this test will not be easy for
someone who hasn't stayed fit, and for those people who don't work in fire, but are red carded, the numbers might
dwindle some, along with the tighter red card rating policys, if you don't use your quals, you loose your quals. The
avaliable resource list is going to get short. 
    So, lets get this right, your pack test proved to you, that you are extremely physically fit, ...except those dang
knees, are all beat to shit over it. 
  Explain to me again, why this test is so ludicrous? 


Without wanting to see much more on the pack test, I've also heard physically fit folks complain about knees and "shin splints".  Some young, some old.Ab.

03/21 To Keith, Cbork, MissSZQ, Stihl on the fence, "@" and last but not least
- Mellie:

I saw the Honor Guard presentation this morning at the California
Interagency Incident Management Team meeting in Sacramento. The
presentation was professional and NONDENOMINATIONAL. The Mann Gulch
memorial presentation was very well done. See... we can all get along!



It is the 50the reunion of the Los Prietos Hot Shots, the first USFS shot 
crew, formed in 1949.  It is spring, a beautiful day, a beautiful time, four 
generations of firefighters have come to this once in a lifetime event.  Many 
see people who worked with their fathers, their grandfathers.

It is Region 5, but the people come from all over.  It is a microcosm of the 
agency, other regions, the nation.  It is old home week for many veterans 
that will never see each other again.  Others have the majority of their 
careers ahead of them.  Perhaps there are five hundred attending.

I am watching and listening and happy shaking hands, strong firm hands that 
have held the tools of our trade for over a half century.  How many pulaski 
strokes, how many miles with a drip torch?  I feel the strength, the 
heartbeat, the common inseparable bond that makes us family.  I am a veteran. 
 I got in when you could still fight fire.  A long time ago.  I worked with 
men who were, are, legends.  They were OK.  I am OK.

I look, I see that in a few short years the legends will be gone.  We will
lose them.  We have not replaced them.  We now have kids with twenty years 
in.  Victims of the system.  Victims?  Yes, unfortunately, sadly, victims.

Before the PC consent decree system took over in the 80's, you could fight 
fire.  The system now teaches you the tactical deployment of fire shelters 
that go to six hundred degrees while you're in it, teaches you to think that 
you can survive in the fire storm you are caught in if only you remember all 
the rules.  The system teaches you to operate until you drop of heat 
exhaustion in one hundred degree weather with the double layers of an arctic 
explorer, teaches you how not to take action if one of the thirty eight

thousand things you are required to remember pops up, how all the grains of 
sand in the desert must be in just the right place before you act.

The system has designed grid lock and death on the fireline.  Why not put a 
body bag in there too?  Rotting corpses are dangerous.  Bugs, disease, 
unsanitary condition.  Maybe a bottle of disinfectant will help.

Break a rule, go to jail.  Incident Management Teams disbanded if anything 
happens on their watch.  Fry the little guy.

Before, a long time ago, you were trained by your mentors to think 
tactically.  Safety was taught as a tactic, not a value, not a set of rules, 
not some abstraction of academic leaming.  Ten Standard Orders and go.  You 
were taught to anticipate, you were shown how to use your logic, your god 
given wits, your experience, the experience of others to create tactical 
action based decisions.  Move.  Fast.  Slow.  Backwards, forwards, sideways, 
up, down, all around, hold still, all in the same instant.

Not today's trench warfare on the fireline.  Next wave!  Never go downhill. 
Ask someone else what to do.  Wait for orders.  Get a weather report.  You 
gonna bet your life on the weatherman?  How many millibars does it take to 
cook you?  Ask the weatherman.

I get a call now and then.  "Hey, Smoaky, we've got a job for you!" I think, 
do you have a job for me, or do you mean you need some credibility to stamp on
your screwed up plans and I'm it if I want to be a whore?  Or do you really 
mean it?  If I say yes, will you listen, will you make changes accordingly, 
will you activate the information into tactical action?  Will it make a 

Or will you use me as the token that you need, the right name there so that 
you can proceed with your PC bullshit that doesn't work?

"I don't know", I answer, "I'll get back to you."

If you were serious, really serious, you would call me and my peers and tell 
us that you were serious and that you really wanted to put out the fire, or 
light the fire, or save the lives.  You would tell me that beheading the 
victims of the system is not working, will never work, and will only lead to 
an agency(ies) that can no longer fight fire.  You would tell me that you
will listen and take note when you are told the things you don't want to hear 
and the true things you don't want the public and the Congress to hear.

It's a risk.  And boy, we cannot take a risk because we want zero risk 
firefighting and fire lighting and zero risk promotions and don't make waves. 
 Risk nothing and you will get exactly what you ordered: ZERO.  And it'll
cost lives and a million dollars an acre.

But now you know, we know, you've seen the light, you know you need to do 
something in this moment of opportunity that will soon pass.  You need to 
capture the expertise, the ancient wisdom that can make a difference.

We can help change the damage done in the last twenty years, a generation or 
two of victimized firefighters who were never passed the torch as the torch
was passed to us.  The victims need help.  How many more fatal fire seasons 
do we have to have?

Just remember, some of us do not have many fire seasons left.

03/21 Tate,
Sorry pal I think your out of luck on finding a Texas Wildland Firefighter patch. That was a patch that I designed to give to volunteer fire fighters that completed the TFS basic wildland course. When I turned over the training program to someone else two years ago they decided to discontinue the patch. If you find one hang on to it there were only about a couple of  thousand made. In fact I don't even have one anymore.
03/19 hey AB,   Was wondering if anyones read any reliable predictions for the 00'
season.  Its probably kinda early who knows.

Dispatch Dude,   your right, I was refering to the Engine/ tender
agreements.  NOT the EERA.

AAs for issuing a notional contract,   I am all for it,  would streamline
the interregion, dispatch process.  Unfortunately i have heard rumors of
this every year since i started.

My thoughts are with our fallen Brother in SD

Heard the "Pack Test" was suspended?  any truth to this rumor?

Anyone know what happened to the VFD chief in North Central WA that was
caught after pillfering tons of FS gear at wildfires over the last 5-10
years?  Heard it took a couple U-Haul rigs to confiscate the gear?

After reading responses to the Contractor debate I see no sense in arguing,
everyone that replys here is informedand knows that there is  good, and
marginal equipment out there.  Just like in every agency.

I consider myself to be one of the good guys,  so im happy with that.  One
last note,  If there is crappy equipment on a fire i consider it the
agencies fault.  Regardless of who holds the pink slip.   Reason?  The
hosting agency is the final word.  I know for a fact that every piece of
equipment going to the line is inspected at the scene.   JUNK is obvious.

All the Equipment specialist has to say  is NO.   It might b a hard thing to
say but more than feeling uncomfortable is on the line   If it is unsafe
send it home.  If it is Marginal send it home.

And there are associations that foster the kind of self regulation that was
mentioned in the THEY SAID pages.  I belong to the WCFA  Washington Contract
Firefighting Association, and the NWSA  National Wildfire Suppression

       Theres not much more i can say bout that.

And to the emailer that wishes to remain anonymous thank you for the
compliment. The R6 contract administrator knows about the contractor you
mentioned to me.  They will no longer be eligible for a contract.  See folks
the system works.

Later all
253 460 7323

Eric, in my world, the next fire season is always going to be the best and hottest ever!  Ab.

03/19 While on an engine strike team in Tx in 99 there were a mixed bag of TFS, NPS,USFS,other state and contract engines. I am USFS employed but, was
not on one of their engines. Contract engines did not have all the bells and whistles of the gov engines but were quite capable along with their crews.
Same for all there except one. The sorriest of the bunch was an engine crew from r8. Nothing wrong with their rig, just themselves. All others worked
as if they had trained together but there was one bad egg.  It's not always the contract guys and gals that are the problem. adftr
03/19 We missed those of you who didn't make it to the 50 th year Hot Shot reunion
at Oak Grove Park just north of Ventura. Mark Linane's retirement shindig was
the best thing we've EVER seen. The rank and file firefighters were showing
up by the hundreds. 500 attended.  Everyone met many old friends again.  They
came from all over the country-- Montana, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, California,
Michigan, etc.

Mark spent 28 years as the Superintendent of the Los Prietos Hot Shots.  That's
the record-holder for time as a Supe. There were some great stories told. A
BBQ apron given by JW Allendorf to Mark was a shocker. Mark even turned red.

We should have more events like this to honor our own and share with each other.

Old Hot Shot

03/19 I have been in the fire game for 17 years and had good and bad goings with 
pvt contracters, mostly good .. we all in firefighting do the same job and it
makes no diff if you are a govt firefighter or a pvt firefighter ..there are 
good ones and bad ones.  Well I hope this year as a new pvt I can do a great job at it 
and come home safe. To me it is not the money but it is a life style...stay 
safe one and all .. and to mellie  are you single ...FIREDOC
03/19 "6"
Thanks for keeping me honest.  A little clarification on your points:
    1.  For the first 8 hours, the wages of a crewperson on an AD crew and a
contract crew are about the same.  After 8 hours, the contractor is required
to pay time and a half.  So you may have a point that after 8 hours, AD's
may be a better value.  But once again, with AD's you need to add the cost
of out-fitting and also the cost of their transportation.  (The contracted
bus that stays with the crew.)
    2.  The quality control problem, hopefully, will be solved by better
sign-up inspections, honest performance evaluations and the contract
inspectors.  As far as hidden cost of administering contracts, most of the
contracting officers I have worked with find it a lot easier and quicker to
administer contractor invoices rather than dealing with AD's time keeping.
(A contract crew submits a single invoice for man-hours per shift while an
AD crew submits a crew time report that needs to be transferred to up to 21
fire time reports.  Also with the AD's  there ususally is an equipment time
report for saws and perhaps one for the transportation.)  I've spent time
with the "time unit" with both cases and the contractor route is by far
cleaner, faster and a lot less frustrating.
    3.  The medical cost I was referring to were off-site medical bill, such
as doctor visits.  Currently, most incidental medical supplies or services
(aspirin, chap stick, band-aids and simple exams) are not charged to the
contractor, the same as with AD's.  However, any doctor visit and/or
services is paid by the contractor or their workman's comp, not charged to a
fire management code.  AD's are covered by the fire management code.
    4.  You are correct, and I apologize for implying that AD's are covered
by unemployment insurance.  They are not.

Dispatch Dude,
    Yes, contractors have cost the entire year, fire or not.  But, even in a
slow fire season, there is plenty of work both with private industry and
with government contracts.  An a matter of fact, working on government
non-fire contracts pays the crewperson a higher wage than working on fires,
thanks to the Davis-Bacon Act.  (I could never understand why the govenment
requires contractors to pay their employees more to do a task that they
required their own FS regular employees to do!)
    Finally, I must agree with you, AD's cost almost nothing when not in


03/18 Ya'll--

I am still recharging batteries here (and doing a bunch of performance requirements
and hanging with my gang), but I'll help with the public and making the issues
public. No one has a gag order on me...nor can I yet be threatened with the
loss of my job. We do need the media behind us and I have some ideas on that.
The USFS would be well advised to launch a media campaign ASAP. 

<little madonna smile>


Many others have the same concerns as Tony. While in AZ, I spent time with some
really buffed-out, in shape fire women who are in their 30's and early 40's
and thought nothing of running 10 miles before dinner. They also had good upper
body strength. But they're concerned about knees and backs and the pack test...
Just thought you should know. None of them are ground pounders any longer, but
they want to keep up their certs in case they need to fill in on an engine sometime.
They come from one of the real fire-going forests down there where a large proportion
of people are encouraged to be ready for fire and participate...


03/18 Hello, my name is Jerry Vohn.I am lurker in Phoenix .During the mid 70's I was a tto on the Coconino, I worked on the Blue Ridge district
.Among my friends and coworkers were Bill Krushak and Buck Wickham .Around 1980 I became uninvolved with fire ,then in 94 I met up
with a contractor and began operating a potable water tender out of Phx. Now I am a fire camp slug every chanch I get.I re
ally enjoy providing water resorces and helping any way I can  .The oppertunity to get into the fire life is  something I look forward to every
season.I have not been to a firecamp without meeting up with someone I have known in the past.I hope to see some of you this season.

Very refreshing Jerry, or is your name really "spaghetti"?  Just kidding.  Ab.

You mentioned contractors' costs during a slow season - insurance,
vehicles, training, etc. Have you looked lately at the plans for fuels
treatments and RxFire on federal lands? The work that needs doing plus
the budget we have for it minus the BD crews that we don't have any more
should equal some contractor work.

Dead right on. Waaaaaaaaaaaaay too often the public and the media are
left out of the plan. Any successful campaign must include both! It's a
lot of what's been missing in marketing the fire program! Some of the
USFS F&AM folks found out last year just how this can work; the media
are not always the enemy. Or enema. 

Whoa, I guess HB pushed a button there, eh? heh heh. I agree with you,
though, on the MEL topic -- some clear answer/explanation from the
USFS/Chief/WO is in order here! Regarding IA as insurance, that's great,
but the public and Congress aren't likely to sit still for several
million dollars worth of IA sitting around or mowing the grass during a
slow season. What else could they be doing though? Looked around in the
woods lately? Trails, fuels, campgrounds, fire prevention work, yeah
that's seen by some as grunt work, but it beats no work. 

What Lundgren said -- about the difference between the amount of MEL
Congress delivers, the amount requested, and the resulting potential
loss of property/resources -- is the sort of information that the public
would go loopy over if they understood it. That's where it becomes
critical to bring in the fieldfolks, the public, and the media. 

And finally, on the pack test, TO TONY:
Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez, dude, try reading a thing or two and learning a
bit about what's going on before you run off at the mouth like that!


I did mention there's plenty of work for the IA crews, including helping clean up some of that accumulated forest litter (you know, that litter which has grown to outrageous proportions due to 100 years of FS mismanag. . . yada, yada, yada, & more b.s.).  However, it's now becoming politically incorrect to take those job opportunities away from public contractors who have the capabilities and desire to perform them.  And you certainly aren't suggesting the FS resume maintenance of public campgrounds after they've been contracted out to concessionares for many years now, are you?  I personally think the tax paying public would be perfectly happy to pay the "insurance" bill.  I admit there may be some who would rather pay hundreds of millions to have a sattelite vaporize prior to completing it's mission due to a fifth grade arithmetic error between the vendor and gov't scientists, but not many.  How'za about somebody ask the voters what they want!  Ab.

03/18 Hi everybody!
my name is hughe im working on forest fire in quebec since 5 years and
i'll be glad to had a correspondance with other firefighters in canada
or somewhwere else so my e-mail is:
Hotmail: hug_gergeron@hotmail.com
03/17 Here are some more details about the firefighter from Delmont, SD, who died
Thursday from burns he suffered on a wildfire near his home town on March 7.
The funeral will be at the American Legion hall on Main Street in Delmont,
SD, on Monday, March 20, at 10:30 am CT.  I hope we have a lot of
firefighters there paying their respects.

Engine Dude

Firefighter dies from burns
Argus Leader
published: 3/17/00
A volunteer firefighter died Thursday, 10 days after he was severely burned
in a wind-whipped prairie fire near Delmont. Robert Buhler, 62, suffered
second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent to 80 percent of his body.
The nine-year veteran of the Delmont Volunteer Fire Department was being
treated at the Avera McKennan Hospital Burn Unit in Sioux Falls. The wind
was blowing nearly 40 mph March 6 when a controlled burn about four miles
south of Delmont got out of control. The fire found fuel in the dry grass
and brush of a ravine. Buhler was on the hill, near the firetruck, said
Delmont Fire Chief Kevin Hanten.

"The fire flashed up the hill," said Hanten. "He couldn't get out of there
fast enough." Volunteer firefighter Robert Kurtz was near Buhler when flames
roared up. Kurtz was wearing protective gear and received minor neck and
facial burns from the flashover. Buhler was not.   "He was visiting in
another town and didn't have time to go back and get his stuff," Kurtz said.
"He knew we were really short-handed and that we needed help. He's a hero."

Two men from Delmont have been charged with misdemeanors in connection with
the blaze. On March 8, Douglas County State's Attorney Brad Kerner filed a
misdemeanor charge against Doug and Delbert Bitterman for burning land
without a firebreak. They could get up to a year in the county jail and a
$1,000 fine if convicted. Kerner could not be reached for comment to see if
there would be additional charges filed in the wake of Buhler's death.

The fire marshal's office and the state Division of Forestry are still
looking into the circumstances surrounding the fire. South Dakota Fire
Marshal Dan Carslon said the last firefighter to die in the line of duty was
Donny Marso in 1977. Marso was helping to fight a fire outside of Pierre,
when the truck he was in rolled and killed him. Carlson said about 30 to 40
firefighters have been killed since the early 1900s.

Hanten said Buhler was a semi-retired bachelor who also served as the
department's secretary. "He was kind of a quiet guy, not real outgoing. But,
he would do anything for you if you asked him," Hanten said. Buhler was
known throughout town for his quiet nature and helping hand. He was
dedicated to his community and a member of the Development Corporation and
Community Club. "He was really, really easy going," Kurtz said. "He kept a
lot to himself. He didn't smoke and didn't drink. He was more of a home
person. He took care of his folks until they passed away."

03/17 Mutual Aid is a Good subject.  In the 70's and in to the late 80's when
we rolled on a wild fire (we are a Rural Fire District) on goverment
land, we would work until the BLM got there and then we were treated
like the bastard calf.    They would release us as soon as possible.
They didn't want us any where around their fire.    No contact no
training was the rule of order.  Then in the late 80's when the Loman
Fire and Yellowstone Fire took place things started to change.  The BLM
and FS came to us and neighboring units and asked us to be more
involved.  They offered training and train the trainer type training
for all units in Southern Idaho.    Now when thing go to heck they call
and say "When can you get there?"    We have an excellent relationship
with the BLM now and look forward to working with them.  The almighty
dollar I believe has spoken here.  For which we are grateful.


EERA's for equipment in R-6 have NO standards, NO pre-inspections,
performance or inventories to meet. The only exception may be on the
Wenachee or Okanogan, I've heard. Perhaps you are referring to the R-6
Engine & Tender Contract in which case you are correct on all points.
I won't get into the VFD's, or Rural debate, heck we have really good
relationships with ours. Can't speak for everywhere.

Privatization of the fire environment is here all right. No argument
from me. Is it appropriate, perhaps, is it always cost effective,
doubtful. Heck for that matter is the whole business, cost effective,
not the way funding is strained thru the Federal budget process.
National Pre-payed programs, like SRV, Alaska FF, Montana FF, all should
be maximized since there are already paid for. Yep there will always be
exceptions, but they should be just that. I've been around the block for
a day or two and seen the changes in the wind.

So you want me to shed some tears? I should have turned up the volume so
I could hear the violins playing. The fire economics eventually adds in
costs even you didn't mention, (nice overview thou), how about the added
costs of a weak fire season, lots of wet storms, no business. Still have
to pay all that stuff right? Insurance, vehicles, tools equipment,
training, those costs get added on too. Now we have to pay for slow
season expenses, when the AD clan doesnt add much to the pre-pay.
Alright, if all hell is breaking out, contract equip is gonna play, ( we
sent ours to FL 2 years ago), they get a good workout. Just don't make
me cry myself to sleep.

Happy Irish.  Dispatch Dude.

03/17 DISPATCH DUDE said contractors in R6 operate on a regionally issued
contract for engs/tenders, and they have to pass inspections, show
training and quals. But DD says that ain't enough. Well, rumor has it
that NATIONAL contract quals are in the works, and would be administered
regionally. Sounds like a step in the right direction. DISPATCH DUDE
also mentioned the "Policy Implications of Large Fire Management, A
Strategic Assessment of Factors Influencing Costs, USDA FS, Jan 21,
2000." Well if it's been out since Jan 21, then where is it? What's the
big secret?

 |===|===|===|===|===|  "just wondering" in R6  |===|===|===|===|===|

I also heard the rumor which was allegedly stated by a NIFC level contracting officer.  To clarify a bit, private contractors including engines and handcrews will be administrated and dispatched at the Regional level, similar to other current national resources like shower units, caterers, helicopters.  Time frame?  Uncertain, probably not this year.  Ab.

03/17 In response to a couple comments from Lasagna:

      > >  It takes leadership (not managers) and a willingness to listen
      > >  to the issues to institute change and reverse the downward trend
      > >  that has been clearly evident these past few years. 

THERE IS INDEED a big gap between leaders and managers. Part of what
makes a leader is the willingness (and ability) to listen. Listen to
whom? To what? Who did the best military leaders listen to? Their
infantry? Their politicos? Their intel and line scouts? Their own
hearts? Maybe all of the above? A good leader has the wholehearted
support and loyalty of the people in the field. Another thing that makes
a leader is the ABILITY to institute change. That requires not only
knowledge and skill but also the courage of one's convictions, the
willingness to do battle -- call it cajones. 

And the "trend that's been clearly evident these past few years" ???? 
The issues we're kicking around today are in many ways the same damn
issues we were facing 40 years ago. Check here: 
www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/1957   Sometimes you have to look back quite a few
years to see how much things change -- and much they don't change.

    > >  A fundamental reform of the system is needed to retain 
    > >  existing teams and recruit new talent to staff additional 
    > >  teams.  These reforms need to be made and supported at the highest
    > >  level of the agencies and backed with sufficient funding 

Fundamental reform is indeed necessary, and yes it must be supported at
the highest level, with adequate funding. But it's also critical that
any such change is understood by and supported by THE FOLKS IN THE
FIELD, or it just won't fly. In looking at how fire is funded, one must
consider that Congress does not just hand over big truckloads of money
and tell the fire agencies "Here ya go, spend it any way you want." The
USFS and the BLM can't just go to Congress and explain the facts of life
-- that's called lobbying and it's a no-no. The USFS and other agencies
*also* can't just go to the media and tell THEM the facts of life,
because they often get *spanked* by their bosses for it. (Ask around and
see if you can find anyone in fire right now who's operating under a gag

The key to making the changes that need to be made is GOOD STRATEGY.
Maybe there is one. But if it's truly good, it's got to include the
groundpounders on the ground, the flyboys in the air, the non-fire
segments of the natural resource agencies, AND the public, AND the
media. Without ALL of that in place, there will be no meaningful
fundamental reform that succeeds. 

~~ Cannelloni

03/17 On the discussion about the Jacobs report -- one of the critical points
in the discussion is that MEL is for initial attack. The support
problems are with large fires that escape initial attack, along with
associated problems of non-fire-appropriated people, type II personnel,
and -- maybe most important -- WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD OF 100 PERCENT MEL

... pick a probability between zero and negative two ??

Other important issues (e.g. line officer relationships) will *not* be
solved by funding changes. The FMOs need to do a better job of staying
at home and supporting the LMP and the LO. Of course there is a lot of
second-guessing and yeah-butts in the Jacobs report. (But that's to be
expected. No surprises there.) BUT WE NEED TO MOVE ON FROM HERE WITH THE
DISCUSSION. If we don't like the answer, that's a different issue.

Also, it's worth noting that the fire management folks in Washington DO
ASK FOR 100 percent of MEL (since at least 1986) -- and routinely get
turned down.


Interesting, but confusing use of terms here HB.  You state "the fire management folks in Washington" have been asking for 100% of MEL and are turned down.  In March of '99,  this is just last year, immediately after the budget was announced, Chief of the FS, Mike Dombeck appeared before a House Subcommittee on Appropritations wherein he was addressed by the Chairman as follows.  "The service you provide for wildfire prevention and suppression is tops and is something that America still relies on you for. Yet, your request for wildfire preparedness is down to 67% of the most efficient level. Your sister agencies at the Department of the Interior have requested funding to support 85% of the most efficient level: why is your budget lagging so far behind?"

Perhaps HB, you may be able to clear a few things up here.  Who are the "fire management folks" you speak of?   Who is turning down their requests for 100% of MEL?  And why does it appear, according to the above excerpt, which can be read in it's entirety here, the Chief is only asking Congress for 67% of MEL?  Is the Chief or other intermediates arbitrarily reducing the amount of MEL the Forest Service officially requests?  There appears to be something amiss.

A recent NARTC attendee confides that Stewart Lundgren, Fire Operations Specialist in the Washington Office (i.e. National NFMAS dude), appeared briefly before the trainees to explain the WO budgeting process (no info provided on the above issue).  At that session, Mr. Lundgren stated that the difference between the amount of MEL Congress delivers, the amount requested, and the resulting potential loss of property,lands and resources is referred to as "Congressional Risk".  Now there's an cute phrase!  It reminds me of "acceptable losses", "casualty reports" or "expendable resources" used by the military (as they avoid saying dead soldiers) referring to their personnel and equipment loss when statistics are compiled after combat.

What "initial attack" resources really are is insurance.  Just like personal life insurance (which they frequently are), they may not be used on a  daily basis, although someone, somewhere, does.  BUT, history dictates, they WILL be used over and over.  When they aren't actively providing fire suppression they can provide income from unit projects.  When that interferes or competes with private jobs, pay them to train and  prepare for future suppression.  The mere existence of  the thousands of State, County, and city fire departments across the nation is evidence the majority of citizens don't seem to mind paying for the insurance these agencies provide.  How do the voters in the states suffering the enormous losses of property and resources from huge damaging fires the last five years feel about the cutesy little term of "Congressional risk"?  Would a few, some, many of these fires have been stopped during initial attack if the resource capabilities from just ten years ago were still in place?  I certainly think so, readers?

If enough of you agree with me so far, let's now calculate the amount of money it took to suppress those major fires we feel sure would have been contained during IA, add the dollar amount of the property and resource values lost, then request a small part of that be given to the DOA and DOI to get them up to 100% MEL. . .ooops, well deja vu, imagine my embarrassment.  We've already done that part.  Haven't we?

03/16 Stu, You make some valid points.  A couple of
1.  Are the trade-offs that you mention worth $13/hour
($150/day) per firefighter ($3,000/day/20 person
2.  What about the hidden costs of contract
administration?  The qulity control problems that have
been acknowledged by all who have worked with
contractors can only be corrected by increased levels
of administration and increased cost.
3.  The majority of medical expenses are handled by
the medical unit.  Are you saying that contractors do
not reimburse the government for times when their
employees utilize services that are intended for
government employees?
4.  AD cost to government does not include
unemployment.  If contractors include that in their
costs then  the net cost to government of using a
contractor is increased.

Eric, "If the engine is a hazard, it is canned right 
there.Believe me they  are rather thorough"  That may
be the case some or most of the time, but their have
been some real pieces of junk that have showed up on
the line.  Reason?, lack of contract administration.

-FireBooger-, you are correct, no arguement with any
of your points.

I am not a contractor, but I think it would be in the
contractor's best interest if they formed a
self-regulating organization that would set member
standards, inspect members for compliance, and serve
in a regulatory function.  If contractors are to be
the wave of the future (which I believe to be only
partially correct) the earlier contractors face up to
these growing pains the better.


03/16 Ab and All,

I know this may seem like beating a dead horse, but heck here is one more 

The LP administered it's first official pack test today. The group of 12 was 
made up of 1 Division, BC's, a few Captains, an FPT, Hotshot and Helicopter 
Superintendent, the Airbase Mgr and 1 militia. The test was taken at a very
nice track at a local high school. The test was taken by all except one at 
the arduous level.  All passed with times that averaged in the 39-41 minute 
range. There were also a couple of exceptional times in the mid 30's. I have 
no problem with staying in shape, PT'ing and testing for a physical job. No 
wanking on that side..in fact  I am a firm believer that 2 hrs a day keeps 
the doctor away,

What I do have a problem with is walking around a flat track real, real fast
with 45 pounds on my back in under 45 minutes.  What in the heck has this 
silly test got to do with fighting fire?? Measures my work capacity you say? 
I wasn't even winded at the end, but I do have a couple of very sore knees 
and shins. This little demonstration that we put on today was almost the most 
ludicrous thing I have ever done in my 26 years with the Forest Service. (the 
most ludicrous is another story).

If this is the best "test" for employment our drawing board can come up with 
then maybe it is time to move the drawing board.  Really feller's, you must 
have created this test just to see how gullible we are and whether anyone 
would actually implement it!!

What we really need is a test that emulates what we really do..like line 
construction, hill hiking at a realistic pace and laying hose. I have never 
in my career on either the hotshots or engines put 45 lbs on my back and 
walked really, really fast on flat ground for 45 minutes. Guess if I wanted 
to trash my knees and back a little faster than the job already does I would 
have given it a try though.

In my humble opinion Management has traded one inexpensive, easy to 
administrate worthless test (step) for a more costly, pain in the neck to 
administrate worthless test (pack). Must be new math..way to go feller's!!!

Thanks for the opportunity to vent Ab..gotta go ice my knees and add some 
more ibuprofen to my system........Tony@SBA

03/16     Mellie... i dont recollect that you gave me any fruit, but i appreciate 
the gesture. I personally was on a Ferguson crew, and i thought we did a damn 
good piece of work. I guess i was unclear in my statement. I rather enjoyed 
my stint as a digger in the many trenches around onion, and remember a few 
very cold, solemn nights "holding and improving" while the prineville boys 
and girls ran around with flare guns, and the ocassional fireboss wielding 
his TerraTorch. The equipment of the contractors may not be the most 
attractive nomex or even decent packs most of the time, but there is alotta 
heart and soul, and more than enough willpower to crank with the best crews. 
My crew was reclassed in redding to type 1 and was set in charge of a small 
burn called the Swift fire in Coffee creek. It was a fantastic experience, 
and was run by 3 of our overhead, all ex-USFS gents, as well as many newer
and more verile employees. Then supplemented later with 4 other oregon based 
contractor crews, and well out of reach of any engine, as we all know. This 
just goes to show you that an all contractor fire CAN and WILL go out in 4 
days at 200 acres......
The automotated application system is a bit rough isn't it?  Its a new system, and like most new systems in the FS it usually sucks for a while.

The Jacobs Report - Hmmmm.  Interesting.  I wish I had my copy , but I loaned it, but I seem to recall the team thought this organization would be
budget neutral.  I believe with assumption that a lot of the cost of the teams would be funded out of fire fighting emergency funds that are spent
anyway.  Ok.  Also local fire resources would not be mobilized for large incidents except during rare emergencies.  So where does the cadre of folks
gain large fire management experience to fill in behind folks leaving the teams come from?  I am sure it would be worked out at some point.  Added to
@'s excellent points, I think the implementation team has a lot of work ahead of it.  Need to look for unintended consequences.

100% of MEL?  I would be real suprised if we ever saw it.  Most MEL's are based on NFMAS analysis, which can be made a very complex model, with
the analyst controling a lot of what comes out by assumptions going in.  Most of these that I have looked at are really nice organizations, but I doubt
you could sell it to the politicians for more than a year or two.  But most organizations at 60% of MEL would make it in a slow year, but average years
seem to run a high probability of overwhelming the local folks at some point.  What seems to be going on is get funded around 60% then spend
several months groveling for supplemental bucks to move it up to 75%, then if things look bad go for severity.  Of course if you get the extra money,
then you have to deal with the Boise for personnel as the rehires you were counting on got tired of waiting an found a job with the BLM. If Congress
and WO ever did come up with 100% MEL, all it would take is a '93 and "what do we need all these guys for" would set in.  I bet consistant funding at
80% would be ok, better than what has been going on anyway.

Militia (god I hate that term!) as we remember it from 70's and 80's is dead.  Ain't gonna come back.  Aging workforce is a reason, pay cap is a reason
(doesn't bother me, I just like fighting and lighting), change in agency mission is a reason, downsizing, specialization, certification, and (please be
gentle with me) workforce diversity.  Before you start in on me it ain't due to bad or evil people, its due to that very diversity we sought, and the outfit
losing the idea that forest protection is part of the job.  In gaining a Forestry or other NR degree programs in the 60's 70's, fire control and forest
protection was not an elective, it was part of the job.  Fire management, to extent of actually doing it, is now optional unless you have a fire position. 
Was it 94 or 95 the 75% of the workforce would be redcarded and available edict came out?  Studiously ignored as I recall.  I do not recall the Ranger
inquiring as to how many folks had even bothered to step test, much less pass it as I recall happening in the past.  Downsizing and specialization - no
one to cover work back at the ranch any more.  Even folks who could cover can't cause they arn't "certified".   Of course everything is more
complicated, which forces specialization.  Example: in about 84 I was happily doing fire behavior predictions on a TI-55 (which beat charts and
nomographs) for the first time for a burn plan when we got the call that our neighbor district had a prescribed burn go bad on 'em.  The call was bring
all you have, so we cleaned out the office - literally.  The Ranger personally was asking why of the three or four who didn't grab their stuff and ruling
on excuses.  One of our pre-sale Foresters failed to have his boots at the office, boy did he get a chewing!  We put 2 type 6 engines, a 1000 gal WT,
and about 25 people on the road with tools, rations,  water on the road in an hour.  This was about 75% of the workforce that worked there.  Didn't
think anything of it.  Was part of the job.  I doubt you could see a response like this now.  Rangers won't get involved, will take no for an answer. 
Remember many of our line officers do not have any fire experience or very little and were not indoctrinated that forest protection was part of
everybodies job.  Its too bad holding a redcard is not part of job performance elements.  Wasn't back then but was in there as "other duties as
assigned".   I will say this, there could be hope.  Our non-fire seasonals, as a group, seem to be a willing as ever, but of course are unavailable due to
"targets".  So as a duty officer you get tired of asking and eventially you stop.  Its easier to order up crews.  The problem, to use trendy terminology,
is the outfit underwent a paradigm change, we brought it on ourselves, and to go back would take more will and backbone than the agency posesses. 
So naturally, there has to be a practically self sufficient fire organization, cause there ain't any militia, or it is very small.  Well enough.  Stay safe out
A CO used to go Lurker. 

03/16 Damn, this is the last time that I do not check the postings for more than 
three days, must have taken an hour to catch up. 

Just a comment for Wildfire Eric, you stated that the FPD folks (VFD in some 
states) do not need red cards.  Not true in WA State, L&I regulation require 
at least WFF-2 to suppress a wildfire.  But the definition of a wildfire-in 
L&I regulations is "any forest or brush fire that takes one hour or longer to 
suppress."  This has to do with the heat stress encountered while wearing 
bunker gear and chinking line or packing a 4" hose line to piss on stump (I 
have seen it happen).  If the fire takes longer than an hour then the 
District is allowed to "platoon" its firefighters in and out of the action so 
the 1 hour rule is obeyed.

Any District that gets called up for wildfire suppression by a state or 
federal agency, is reminded that any folks that they send must be carded! 
More and more WA structure firefighters are getting carded, but there are 
still Districts out there, mostly in the true urban areas, that will not give 
wildland training to their folks for one rea$on or another. 


03/16 Wildland Fire Fatality in South Dakota

According to National Public Radio, the Delmont, South Dakota firefighter
who was seriously burned on a grass fire on March 7 passed away this morning
(Thursday, March 16).  No details about the funeral are available yet, and
can't provide any more information.

I hope that all firefighters who can will be present at the funeral of our
fallen comrade, with engines when possible.  I will keep you posted with
more information as it is available.

Engine Dude

03/16 Hey out there.........
Contract fire came about to fill a void.  A void created by budget problems,
mother nature, some mis-management of our forest lands over the last 50+
years and "way out there" environmentalist (Big Bar).  No way can any one
predict what's going to be needed in resources for the next fire year.  One
year the gov't has too much and the next year not enough.  When gov't
resources run out, here we are, the Freelance Fire Fighters of America.
With changing times, we change.  Chasing fire was in a few years ago but a
big "NO NO" now.  We were not that good then, but a lot better now.  Some
slow fire years we find other things to
do with our time.  On big fire years, we'll meet the
challenge head on and love it all the way.  Just like the rest of you FF.
Why not? it's fun, challenging, and a good way to stay in shape while making
some money.  Can't beat that.  We (contract fire) are not out there to take
your jobs. We are out there to support your fire agency when needed.  And as
the Oregon contractor stated, we are trained under the same courses and many
have worked for USFS/BLM.  If we don't come up to the standards, run our a--
down the road.   Shape up or ship out.    Thanks for the work USFS and BLM.

If any of you are concerned about what's going on out there, take a look at
the cover page of February Wildland Firefighter.  WOW, a fire breathing
firefighter or is it what I think it is???


03/16 Does anyone out there have any comments on the new automated temporary
hiring process that they are using in Boise.  We are trying it this
year, and I have found it to be a pain in the # # #!!!!!!  They system
is not all that user friendly, it took 8 days to get a cert, and then it
only had one person on it.  We have several units here locally, in the
past we have had the temps put in their applications at the local
employment office, from there we gathered up the applications and went
over them.  This year on the BLM side we had close to 150 applications
for the jobs that we had to fill.  To only get one name on a cert does
not cut it.  I would love to hear if anyone else has had the same
experiences?????  It is suppose to be better not a step backwards!!!!!

Good luck hiring if you plan to use this system, hope it works better
for you than it did for me.


03/16 Burt-

The Megram did not get as far as Orleans as you can see from the map at the
site Ab mentioned. It also didn't burn Crogan Hole or Bear Hole in the Trinity
Alps. They're east of the fire's boundary.  The eastern and northern boundary
of the Megram went from Slide Creek (near Old Denny) on the east; up to Mary
Blaine Peak, Dees Peak, Potato Mountain and Eagle Creek; and more north around
to Young's Peak; then almost over to Salmon Mt at the "head" of Devil's Backbone;
and some down into the Red Cap Creek drainage. Some good photos from the north
from the Shasta-Trinity side are here. http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/shastatrinity/fire/summary/photos/big_bar_photos.php
Note that all three lower photos are of the Salmon Canyon environs a little
to the east of Orleans. Check out what happened as the fire blewup into the
blowdown on Sept 27and 28 during the wind event. Just stupendous! (BTW, that's
the Trinity Alps poking up in the distance.)  Other photos as the fire crossed
Devil's Backbone into Six River's National Forest are available at http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/sixrivers/fire/photos.php


03/16 Ab,
A short note regarding contractors.  As the amount of private suppression vendors increases, so does the competition among them to get the disatch.  I've seen the quality of experience and professionalism rise dramatically in the last couple of years.  Bear
03/16 Sounds like some forests/agencies need to look to the SW Oregon area (Mainly Grants Pass/Illinois Valley)
to see how mutual aid should truly work.  Under good ol' MEL the Siskiyou staffs one type 6 engine on the
eastside of the forest and one on the westside.  The eastside (Two Rivers Fire Zone) covers two districts for
about 512,000 acres with a fair amount in wilderness areas.  The majority though is outside wilderness.  Most
of the Zone is under mutual aid with Oregon Department of Forestry which has access to 12 engines (mixture
of 200 gal and 500 gal with a 1500 gal at headquarters), 10 person handcrew, plus a type II helo as the fire
danger goes up.  Whenever there is a fire, the closet resource is assigned.  No matter if it is on State or
Federal.  As the danger goes up, more resources are scheduled to respond.  More often than not, State gets
to the fire first whether it be on State or Federal land.  Never seems to be problem who is there first.  Not sure
if this is a big issue around the wildland community but I would bet it is.  One thing to remember:  we all want
to protect our little bit of agency area and don't like others sticking their nose in; but, to the public we are
wildland firefighters and they could care less who puts out the fire.  They just want it out and don't care what
color the engine is or where their paycheck comes from.  Just "Protect my home"!  If some of you out there
are in this "It's mine, and you can't play with it" thought pattern, look at this side of it.  The Two Rivers
averages somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-10 fires per year and the ODF averages 200-300 responses per
year.  Gee, I wonder if it would be to the advantage of Two Rivers (or any federal agency) to respond to mutual
aid blocks outside the federal lands.  Alot more chances to make $$$$$ folks, not to mention gaining more
wildland fire experience, moving up the Operations ladder faster and possibly setting yourself up for another
job opportunity should the Feds continue to cut budgets and downsize.  (Sidenote here:  in 1987 the Siskiyou
staffed something like 20-25 engines on the forest seven days per week.) 


03/16 DISPATCH DUDE, if you are really concerned with TAXPAYER'S dollars, let's be
honest about the TRUE cost of AD's vs contractors.  Perhaps you are unaware
or just decided to ignore the basic facts (as some of the "bean counters" in
Cost Units) as to what you get for your dollar from a contract dollar.  Here
is a little lesson in "fire" economics:
    1.  What does the AD rate ($10.68-$11.72) per hour cover?  The wage of
the employee.
          What does the $23-$25 per hour for a contract employee cover?  The
wage of the employee, and the hidden expenses that ARE NOT covered with an
AD rate.
     2.  What are the hidden cost?  Insurance, as in unemployment, workman's
compensation, and  liability.  The hiring agency covers that for the AD.
Medical expenses during an assignment.  True, minor problems are covered at
the Medical Unit, but doctor visits are the responsibility of the
Transportation; part of that
higher contractor rate covers the transportation cost just getting the
contractor to the assignment.  This includes PURCHASE COST (or rent/lease
cost) of the contractors vehicles.  Dispatch Dude, priced a vehicle lately?
Along with the vehicle purchase price, include upkeep and fuel.  Fueling at
an incident is not FREE.  (Fueling cost in fire camp is deducted from the
contractor's invoice.)  Most AD crews are provided transportation under
contract.  That money does not come out of their wages.
Equipment; contractors must purchase their Nomex, PPE, hand tools, etc.
Chainsaws with the contractor are generally not signed up for an hourly rate
as they are with ADs.  The contractor must pay for the upkeep and fuel/oil
for their saw.  (No going to supply for FREE fuel/oil, chains and parts.)
Other capital expenses; required (by contract) equipment such as radios,
first aid kits, etc.
    3.  Profit or LOSS.  After covering all the cost, both upfront and
hidden, what is left is the contractor's profit and at times, their loss.

Don't get the wrong impression that I am anti-AD.  Been there, done that.
The AD ranks are an excellant source for hiring!

Fire Booger and Eric provided rebuttal to the other topics of concern so
I'll let their comments stand!


03/16 Hey Ab I am interested how far to the north did the Oinion/Meagram fire burn.  Reason i am asking is I took a
trip up to the area when the fires were at about 8000 acres.  I worked on the Orleans RD SRF in 89 and 90
and am curious if the fires made it to Orleans.  I recall looking at Devils Backbone from Orleans Mtn and
wondered what that area would burn like.  Sounds like it burned very well.  I guess I am glad I seen the area
before it burned.  Also my wife was a back country ranger in the Trinity Alps around Crogan Hole and Bear
Hole did these areas burn?  I almost made it up to the Big Bar late in the game but I was finishing up work as
a FOB on the Kirk North {a nice piece of flat real estate especially around Double Ventana Cone at H66} Well
have a nice day. Burt

I don't seem to be able to make a connection this morning, but try the Klamath NF fire page.  They used to have some maps of the fires. Klamath NF   There are also a couple of maps here Fire Maps Ab.

03/16   In regards to your comment on, mutual aid, "how viable is it?" you ask, "to get a true mutual aid system
running ." I remember years ago, lets say in the ... 70's, and early 80's, while I was working USFS in N.Cal,
when an incident got toned out, everyone got to roll. The closest resources got their first, and who's side of the
line it was on, got worked out later. Depending on the fire danger, low, med, high, would depend what your
dispatch level was, while you might not be one of the resources dispatched to the incident, if you looked it up
in the Run Book, for every engine dispatched, another one would bump up and cover, the vacated station.
   Very few people remember the run books, I thought they were pretty damn viable back then, what happened
to that system, it was in place and now it's gone. I was pretty simple, something like on a low day, the two
closest engines would cover a certain type of incident, on a high day, the 5 closest might roll, but another 5
got bumped up to cover, being that much closer, in case more resources were needed. Now, it isn't unusal for
a red engine to fly by a station where a  green engine is parked....
  What happened? It didn't matter what color your engine was or what agency you were from back then. Now it
smells a little more like, politics, budgets, red tape, and who's in office, to me? Remember the forest service,
before...say, ah Regan. We did alot of things different then, with our fat little budgets and big fire
shops...When you only have two engines on your forest (only kidding) you don't want to share your little
smoke with the engine of another agency...even if it is closer, damnit. 
03/15 Hey Ab,
I know this does'nt pertain a whole lot to the site but I was wondering how many of us out there that no longer
fight fire are lurking on this site? I check in at least once a week just to see whats happening. I woked in R5
and R6 for six seasons as a crewman and a foreman on engines and had the time of my life. Unfortunatly I
needed a more stable income ( wife and kid ) so I went to work for a family member and am doing just fine.
Although when spring comes around I get that itch. I guess it never really gets out of your system. This is also
not the first time I have written.

To Eric I have seen the Imax movie Wildfire with a friend who also no longer fights fire and we loved it. It got
the old blood pumping. Its only about 45min. long.

I hope everyone has a safe and active fire season.

The web counter suggests about 3 in 100 respond or post a message.  That's a lot of lurkers.  Ab.

03/15 Hey-- E-- 

Some contractors on the Denny side of the Big Bar were good and some, not. Pick
on some other contractors than Greyback and Ferguson though. They did a FANTASITC
job at Five Waters and in Denny as well as on the east side of the Onion!!!
A creek was even named after Greyback in Denny!!!

E, did I hand out fruit and veggies to you on the Denny Road? 

Mellie from Five Waters 

03/15 While sorting photos, I rediscovered a photo taken on 11/1/21 on the El
Dorado National Forest.  The photo has nothing to do directly with fire, but
I am looking for information about the photographer.  One of the men in the
photograph is J. Bruce.  I am not sure if R. Berriman is in the photo or
took the photo.  On the back of the photo is a description of the photo
signed by R. Berriman, Ranger.  The information I am looking for deals with
"Ranger" Berriman.  Does anyone out there on the ENF know anything about an
incident on a fire that occurred, I believe in the thirties, in which
"Ranger" Berriman was fireboss.  I have heard that it might involve fire
fatalities.  Thanks.  Stu
03/15 Catch up time folks and my apologies to the senders for slacking.   Ab wouldn't want to be compared to a no-good private contractor, although of course, I am, in a way, private, at least as far as this site is concerned.  On that subject, get a clue Dispatcher Dude!  Private contract fire suppression is here, it's been here, and it will play a larger part in the future.  Most difficulties and alleged problems you mention can be corrected and traced directly back to poor agency administration and weak fireline overhead.  Non-performing contractors milking a fire can be identified and sent home, performance can be documented and the weak can be weeded.  If this isn't happening it's the fault of agency supervision, not the concept of contracting.  I also dissagree with the ideal that private contracting suppression is the training ground for future federal agency employees.  Rather, it's well documented that the feds provide the training and experience for new employees who then parlay their skills into higher compensating and more respected positions of employment with state, county, and local fire departments.  See here for just one small example:  Recruit

Seven nice new logos on a new logo page, Logo2.  As with all photo pages I try to keep them at 25 thumbnails or less for faster downloading.  I also want to demonstrate that some of that MEL you've been reading about is actually reaching some of the places needing it the most.  Here's a pic from a dispatcher showing their new radio system to prove it. Dispatch  Tounge firmly in cheek. . . Ab. 

03/15 Fire booger, love that Nick, anyways This will be my last message
concerning Contractors.

To get an EERA'  Emergency Equipment Rental Agreement in R6  You have to
have your equipment inspected.

The inspection consists of four parts.
    #1.  Is Mechanical.   If the engine is a hazard, it is canned right
there.Believe me they  are rather thorough ( I didn't look over the engines
this well when I bought them!)

#2.  Is inventory.   There is quite a list of gear that one needs to fight
fire.  We all know this.    Most contractors have more then the Minimum
Required Inventory.

#3.    Is performance.   The pumps, must pass performance tests.  It must
blow 147Lbs at 50Gal minute for engines(the PSI reqd to shoot a stream at 50
gpm through a 3/8s orifice and at the end of 100ft 1.5" hose),  and be
capable of pulling about 12 feet vertical of draft.

#4.    Fourth is Qualifications.   All personnel must be carded,  with One
ENGB qualified person per engine.  In addition,   a resume of every person
the contractor wishes to employ must be on file with the Portland Office
prior to their employ on Wildfire incidents.    Using people not on your
list or in the Federal Register is grounds for   termination of the

Then how do you ask are these "Junkers" getting on the line?   They are
working the AD Administratively Determined?  rates.   This is a loophole
that allows ANYONE to call themselves a contractor, and work a fire.   They
fall into the same loopholes that VFDs do.  (I AM NOT CRAPPING ON VFD's HERE
SLACKERS in fact doing a training burn with them the 26th)  this class is
allowed to show up at a fire uninvited, and ask to work.  They arent
required to hove a single tool, or piece of hose, or any insurance - other
than the minimum required to drive there.  They dont even have to have red

These are the guys making all of us look bad.  If you see someone like this
dont put up with it.  Tell the IC, and they'll can em.  They arent supposed
to use them for more than 24 hours anyways.  Until they can replace them
with a qualified piece of contracted apparatus.      Call me if you have
questions or concerns.

Once again  99% of my guys worked the fed system, and just prefer the
private sector.  Does this mean they forgot everything?  they become less
safe?  We all do the same refreshers you do,  we all have access to the same
classes you do.

Pacific Wildfire

03/15 The post from "@" rang my bell and prompted this response.

The agencies inability to staff an adequate number of professional Incident
Management Teams is a complex issue comprised of many factors.  Some of the
factors are manageable and within the control of managers responsible for
this important task.  It takes leadership (not managers) and a willingness
to listen to the issues to institute change and reverse the downward trend
that has been clearly evident these past few years.  A fundamental reform of
the system is needed to retain existing teams and recruit new talent to
staff additional teams.  These reforms need to be made and supported at the
highest level of the agencies and backed with sufficient funding for the
objectives mentioned above to be successful.

Having served as the Information Officer on Type I and II teams through the
years, (and many other positions) I have had the opportunity to listen to
many concerns and comments from overhead teams, line officers, "fire
managers" and all types of firefighters.  Combine this with comments from
the public (during and after incidents) and many issues and suggestions are
consistently mentioned that could change the system for the better, if only
the "right leader" would listen and take appropriate action(s).

Primarily, the issues or common threads expressed by many (including myself)
for attracting and retaining team members are the economic and social
recognition factors involved with incentives.  They are being reduced and
degraded rather than improved.  Recognition and acknowledgement of the
duties along with a realistic salary that reflects the commitment of time
and experience needs to be reformed.  There must be valid economic reasons
for assuming the responsibilities of a 3-year IMT commitment.  Assuming the
salary from your normal job and applying it to the responsibilities of an
overhead team simply does not make sense.  Being on call-back all season
long and traveling across the country and away from your family is never
recognized.  Support, or the lack of support from the home office is also
sited as a reason for not taking on fire assignments.  Normal work
assignments simply do not 'go away" when the fire is out and you return.

I cannot begin to address all of the factors responsible for the downward
trends and the inability of the agencies to staff IMT's with this simple
post, but at least this discussion forum begins to get people thinking in
the right direction.  A classic quote from one well-known line officer
usually begins this way..." I have no opinion, but here is what I think..."
Let's hear from others on this subject...


03/15     I do get a kick outa looking at things from both sides of the fence. I 
personally am a structurally trained and currently enrolled paramedic 
student, but rode the contractor bandwagon to 2 fires in cali this year -- 
consider it from the side of the many people who dont qualify, have been 
turned away by the USFS or other governmental organizations, or just dont 
want to work in the bureaucratic world they see in the govie jobs. The
contractors are the training grounds of your future governmental 
firefighters, and the retirement plan of many ex-shots and ex-overhead. This
is also the pool with whick you do NOT have to be out there mopping up the 
po-dunkers and the (*&$#in stumphole you put out last night and every other 
night for the past week. They are the boneheads that are willing to do the 
really nasty jobs that noone else wants to do... how else do you think that 3 
miles of hose you just plumbed into division B got outa there when you left 
for cali or nevada? Its all in your perspective my friends. Its just like 
anything else out there on the line, you have your good crews and your bad 
crews. I know i worked with a few that i wished would go back to the prison 
they came from or crawl back under that rock, but hell without them what 
kinda variety are we in for? Its the experience we are out there for... cuz 
we could all make a helluvalot more money pushin pencils. So just dont forget
where your partner came from.. mighta just been a Skookum lackie, Greyback 
slacker, or in some cases..... a Ferguson rook.... Be safe out there


03/15 RE: Contract equipment/crews

Well, sure every piece of cake has yummy frosting. Yes I can count the
excellent highly qualed, ex-agency outfits, functioning to stay in the
business as good to go. BUT, is that really the standard that showes up
on the incident dispatched with good intentions. Give me a break. The
folks in R-6 operate on a regionally issued contract for engs/tenders.
They have to pass inspections, show training and quals, but I can tell
you that ain't enough. Yes these folks get performance evaluations,
documented, that given a calm wind and a short downpour they can keep
100 feet of black along the line the same color thoughout the burning
period. But it's a tough go. The vast majority of contract
equipment/crews are in for the money. MONEY. MONEY. If they work really
hard they cut off the MONEY. OK, sure we are all in it for the
money....sure....if you think so. Hey i'm getting paid even when it
If you think contract equipment put out Big Bar. Excuse me. If that were
the case why did the fire duration last from Aug 23-Nov 3? Cost 81
million bucks, and light up 140,907 acres. Eventually it'll snow or
rain. Low prioritization, overall lack of crews, and other wilderness
etc issues dragged these out. If you wanta read some interesting stuff
check out the "Policy Implications of Large Fire Management, A Stratigic
Assessment of Factors Influencing Costs" USDA FS, Jan 21, 2000. 43 pages
of analysis triggered by Kirk & Big Bar.

There are standards, hell for the R-6 contract, it's clear. Ask yourself
how many of these folks ACTUALLY huffed out a 45 min/45 pound WCT? Get
this....They are self certifying. We have good outfits here locally, but
we also have something lots less than that.

Bottom line, M-3 funding for FS, 75-80% BLM, and bet on the come. Makes
you wonder why they fund National Resources, Air-tankers/IHC
crews/smokeleapers at 100%, IA preparedness resources at 40-80%. Are
they betting on large fire support, thats the way I read 100% funding of
National Resources. Outside of leapers, which you make look at as IA
resources, air tankers & type I crews are mostly committed to Large Fire
Support. We bet we will loose. What would happen if we funded IA
resources at 100% MEL.  I bet we would save money.

03/15 Thanks SO MUCH for speaking up "@" 

A few more thoughts on the agency strategy:

NIMO teams WILL make the overhead more "elitist" and not having the BLM included
in the overhead will make it even worse! BLMers what are your thoughts?????
You're being cut out of the loop! We need ALL who are committed to fire! 

Think what this "AGENCY STRATEGY" does to you who are my friends on the fireline
(the group of friends WITH WHOM I have the greatest allegiance! and they include
BLM groundpounders and other cooperators!) If we have a new elite group, will
not the argument follow that THEY are the only ones who are worthy of the category
"professional firefigher"? Screw that!

What is the WO doing on legislation regarding pay and job classification for
FFers??? While I'm at it, portal-to-portal would simplify the system on the
incident and in the home forest afterwards! Let's see how those savings might
compare to the existing system!!! These things can be modelled, folks!!! (Damn
it, give me the data and I'll do it!!! WO, don't just give it up because it
seems to cost more upfront! Are there any "critical thinkers" who are WARRIORS
out there in Washington? Or is the system so SUCKY that no one has a chance?

Regarding professionalism, the beginninf FF class (FF1)is a PROFESSIONAL level
class! I know education and I know professionalism! The young "lean and the
mean" I joked about include honor roll high schoolers and eagle scouts. Unfortunately,
we have lost about 5 good people who live further out, who have terrific orienteering
and woods sense, and one or two who have experience with fire. How could we
have kept them? If some of the training we've done was available on the internet,
we would not have lost those guys. They have computers, but their families have
not provided them with cars to make it into town. One I give a ride to. His
daily deep-felt appreciation embarrasses me! When I've had to be gone, I've
tried to get family members to help him set up a ride. (He does not have a computer
and online training might not have helped him. But he does have friends with

I have to admit, if computer training had been available I would have found
it easier to stay up with material in the class (except for the performance
part)! But, for me, I'm so lost in FIRE that I'll do almost anything to keep
going. For the younger guys and gals on the verge of being hooked, practicalities
play a bigger part. 

And what about those we want to retain? What about training at the higher levels,
you guys? Can some of it be done on-line? As kids who join us come up, could
they do some of it online? Every company that's had to downsize has gone to
greater computer use and training. What's wrong with us? There are a few visionaries
wihin FIRE who are and have been TRYING to rise to the opportunity to use new
technology and pull us all ahead. Often there's not much support for them...
SAD that vision is so lacking on some forests! We seem to hamstring some of
our best at every turn!

So SIR BOMBARDERO-- here's to you and your agency strategy. I think go for 100%
MEL. If this makes me a whiner just send me e-mail at five_waters@hotmail.com
and I'll tell you what I really think! And screw the spell-checker!!!


PS Phew, Tiny, I love you... (Did she really say we shouldn't have a hug like

And let's get that 100% MEL ON THE GROUND!  Apparently, Congress believes it's providing 75% of MEL.  Why then is only 40-50% reaching the ground in Region 5?  A recently observed budgeting process flow chart reveals apportionment to "Earmarks & Bloodsuckers" immediately above the field units.  Umm Hmm, Ab.

03/15 Hey Ab  was wondering how your trip went.   Congrats Mellie, SCBA test is
tough especially for the smaller statured.

     Anyone seen the IMAX movie Wildfire?  its showing in Vancouver BC.
(about three hours from where i liive)   was wondering if it was worth the
drive.  I am tired of people thinking forest firefighting is what Howie Long
does in that movie Firestorm.  HA!

Read Dispatch Dudes rply to someone.  I agree Whining doesnt help anyone get
work.   As for wanting to play fire fighter.   80 percent of the contractors
I know are VFD members.  or are full time firefighters.    I hope none of
them look at this as a game,  as it is very serious business.    and as for
letting the fires burn to make money.    If that were the case,   we wouldnt
be around.  Its obvious if someone is productive or not,   the ones that
arent go home.

Just a thought.   Dispatch Dude,  PLEASE call me, as  we are trying to get
rid of the contractors that make us all look bad I could use your input.
Dont let a few rotten apples spoil the barrel.

Be safe out there.   Also Anyword on the fires in the Southeast.  the Sit
report isnt to helpful for details.   Got friends there and was wondering if
their keeping busy.

Pacific Wildfire  <---   signs his emails
253 460 7323

Thanks for asking Eric, last weeks trip was successful, this weeks is going well, and have high hopes for next weeks.  Ab.

03/15   Dispatch dude.  I can see what you're saying about contract engines not 
always being capable.  We've all seen our share of Jury-rigged engines held 
together with duct tape manned by people who played extras in the movie 
"Deliverance"  Not to mention sleazy contractors who stiff their employees.
     But you shouldn't paint them all with the same brush.  I've worked with 
a couple of good outfits that had first class equipment manned by retired FS 
div. bosses.  What would've happened had their been no contractors at the Big 
Bar complex?
   If the feds got a beef with low grade outfits, they need to develop some 
national (or at least regional) standards.  Since budgets keep getting 
smaller, contractors will become increasingly more important when resource 
shortages occur.  The agencies using contractors need to be more involved in 
quality control.  Part of this should involve red card qualifying 
contractors.  This would allow the feds an opportunity to observe things 
first hand in the spring and weed out the real goofballs.
      Some contractors are ex fed or state firefighters who got other things 
going and just want to spend a few weeks at a time on fires without spending 
the rest of the summer sweeping out an engine bay. 
    AS far as motivation goes, once the fire's controlled EVERYBODY doesn't
make as much money. A contractor has to impress the division boss in the 
hopes of getting a good reputation.  In the private sector it's about 
production.  Having worked both public and private, I can see how some 
government employees would have no conception of profits/production.
03/14 This post is in respose to Bombardero del Fuego,

I've been working with team members on the "NIMO Implementation Team".  The 
current proposal is to have 10 Permanent Incident Management Teams that would 
respond to Type I AND Type II incidents.  The total overhead they're looking 
at is about 400 people.

In the course of their research, team members found that in 1996, there were 
23 Type I and Type II teams activated at one point in time in Montana ALONE! 
What kinds of contingencies will be developed for incident 11, 12, 13....?

These same team members and I discussed the following scenrio...

Take a diagram (we used a box) where 25% of the total Federal population is 
currently going to fires.  That leaves 75% of the Federal population who are 
NOT going to fires.

Now, where do you think the NIMO folks are going to come from?  That's right, 
the same 25% who CURRENTLY go to fires.  We don't ADD to the existing 25% who 
currently go to fires.  We just shift them around in the box!

Most of these people are also filling many of our Fire Management positions. 
So, if we take them from the Fire Management ranks, where do we get the 
skills to fill in behind them?

Don't get me wrong.  I think there are several excellent ideas in the new 
strategy.  But what problem(s) are we trying to fix here?

We (the Feds and others) are consistently developing remedies to problems we 
haven't clearly defined.  So, we end up fixing the wrong thing, or making 
larger problems for ourselves after we "fixed" something else.

So, let's describe the problem.  What incentives are there for FS employees 
to leave their jobs and their families for several weeks; live in rustic 
dwellings; who often LOSE money because of the GS-10/1 cap on the overtime 
hourly rate; and have to document a break every few hours, regardless if they 
take one or not????

Instead of taking the 25% and moving them around in the "box", why don't we 
develop some incentives that will attract the other 75%?

A highly respected Fire Manager once described the situation like this...

He had two lines of people who wanted to go to fires going out of his office. 
 One line was short and the other line went around the block.  The short line 
included the few FS employees who support fires because they love what they 
do.  They don't need much incentive to go out there and support the cause.

The long line includes all the cooperators who get paid portal-to-portal, at 
twice the pay rate of their Federal firefighter partners; they get to go 
outside their "local jurisdictions" and travel all over the country at 
government expense; and they gain valuable wildland fire experience to boot.

Let's not criticize our non-Federal firefighter partners.  The problem is
with the system, not with the people.  I know there are a few people who are 
working with Congressional representatives to get this problem resolved where 
it needs to be done.  But, they need our support.

If you want to make a difference, write to your local congressional 
representative, or to IAFF, or send a letter to the Chief of the Forest 
Service, or the Chief of whichever is your agency-of-choice, and let them 
know how you feel.  Don't whine.  Especially those of you who USED to support
fires but don't anymore.  Tell them why you don't support fires 
anymore...MILITIA are you listening???

I apologize for the length of this post.  This is an important subject and 
needs to get some attention.


No apologies necessary, input on this subject is critical!  Ab.

03/14 To whomever can help me,
I am a student in the Santa Ana College fire program, and have been
assigned a project on a personel protective device.  Some people have
chosen sprinkler systems, some have chosen different types of structure
boots to wear.  As a future fighter, I am very interested in wildland
fires and was wondering if there's any new or experimental equipment out
there for the safety of wildland firefighters.  I've been looking at the
Cal-OSHA and NFPA sites but I can't find anything.  It doesn't have to
have a standard but it would help.  I would extremely apprciate any help
anyone could give me.  You can contact me at ffbear@hotmail.com.  Thank
you very much for your time.
                       Cameron Boyle

P.S.  If you can send me any info by mail, e-mail me and I'll give you
my adress.

03/14 Ab; the thought of a fire fighter getting burned like that just saddens me, just one thought, if Boise can make such a fuss and send thousands of dollars worth of fire fighting equipment to mexcio than why can't we outfit these volenteer people, Iam sure they would kick in a few bucks for some used nomex, god no's we have a shit load in our wharehouse.
03/14      An interesting thing happened the other day I think it was last week 
Wednesday, but Im not too sure, things have been crazy for me, mid-term 
weeks, a few car accidents, a minor structural fire. As you may or may not 
know, I am a young fireman at the VFD (Volunteer Fire Department). That 
afternoon, me and a few older dogs were lounging around the station, two of 
the college-going kids were resting after they had to hose down the command 
vehicle, a fire-engine red (okay so its clich color) Jeep Cherokee. I 
honestly think that they ended up wetter after hosing than the vehicle ever 
     Then a nice lady came in, looking for patches. She had talked 
animatedly with the desk clerk for a while. Through some discussion on the 
matter, she was referred to me, as the clerks son is in my Scout troop and, 
through that, the clerk knows me to be a patch collector. Unfortunately, I 
didnt have any patches of the type the lady was looking for; the FD doesnt 
make a separate patch, and we dont have an outstanding logo of any sort, 
also she was looking for forest and fire crew logos. I think I had mentioned 
that if I had anything like that, that I would have probably found a way to 
digitize them and post them to the theysaid logo page.
    Any how, as the discussion took its course I tipped my hand and said 
that I was Tiny, the firepup. The lady had a crazy look of disbelief, the 
kind with the jaw dropped open, blue eyes round, curly hair springing out 
etc. For a moment I thought she was going to faint. Regaining herself, she 
said that she was Mellie from Five Waters and gave me a big hug. Now, what 
are the odds that two collaborators on an acronym project that would be 
posted to this forum would meet? Considering our hometowns must be some 900+ 
miles apart, by roads. Any how, just wanted to say it was nice to meet 
someone behind the posts to theysaid, even though it was by sheer 
coincidence and, at that, for only for a few brief moments. She and I talked 
for ten minutes before our crew got called out to haul a car from a ditch. 
Off she went, heading home, the clerk said, and gave an admonition of
something about me needing to stick with ladies my own age, no matter if 
they were related with fire or not.

     Well, I had better get back to my studies. Stay safe out there all, and 
Mellie... dont quote me too often about what I said about the internet, 
okay? *Grin* And once again, good job on the SCBA Test!
(Yes, that will be one of the few times you will hear me call it that.. 
'Scott Packs' just sound better... but that's another tale for another day.)

As ever,

Tiny, the R-6 fire-pup

03/14 RE: Contract crews/equipment
You wanted my opinion, here it comes.
I'mma fed dispatcher,  and frankly,  I don't understand why you want my
help to dry your tears. You wanna play firefighter, get a firefighter
job, the States & Feds are currently hiring for seasonal help. You wanna
whine about it, go bag fries at McDonalds. The bottom line is contract
equipment has a place in the business, but it comes after Fed/State
resources  paid for with our tax dollars are committed or unavailable.
We have plenty of contract equipment out here every year. Wah! Frankly,
it ain't all up to what is cut out to be.  We use tax dollars to prepay
many National programs such as SRV at 100% funding levels. Close to
jet-ports, these programs hire 20-30 type II crews, trained and
available for the mission.  Paid  AD-2 & 3's ($10.68-$11.72 year2000
wage scale) this is cheap compared to an  average cost $23-25/hr for
contact crew members. What motivation is there for contract crews to put
the fire out, when you eventually will work yourself out of a job. Your
right the Feds are loosing folks thru downsizing and retirements. But
the answer isn't swarm the world with contract labor.
In R-6 there is an Engine & Tender contract that supplies hundreds of
engines. They are suppose to be trained to, (single resource boss),
level and crewed accordingly. Do you think these crews are all as
effective as agency engines, trained and working together daily thru the
season? I don't think so. Very few capable of mobile attack, working
direct lines, and independently functioning at that skill level. No,
what happens is you team them up with a COTR or STEN and marry them up
with some easy mopup to free up more capable resources. Is that a good
deal? Maybe, under the right circumstances.  Again, motivation to work
hard and put yourself out of work, nah aint going to be effective, every
fire would be a yellowstone and if the snow is gonna put em out, let it.

My bottom line is contact equipment in the right time, right place,
right job and right opportunity may make sense, but you be better off in
the rent-a-crapper business.

03/13 Hi All-

I need to confess that I've been kinda stressed out lately. Too much traveling
to fire-related events, being reminded of death, reading heavy reports and commenting,
facing family challenges, and trying to not get kicked out of Firefighter I
'cause of missing more than half the classes in February! Last week coming home
to the prospect of blowing FF I left me full of dread...

I had my SCBA-donning test late last Thursday, after travel to AZ and an overnight
in the Seattle area. As I went to class, I honestly didn't know if I could don
all that gear in the proper sequence fast enough to pass.  I'm the only "girl"
left and we have only 16 of our original 41 members. What are left are the lean,
the mean and me! The guys treat as one of them, kinda. They may like me more...
They're certainly attentive and protective -- sweet, really. I train harder
than they do aerobically, but still don't have their natural upper body strength
that helps when tossing that heavy tank over your head and slipping into the
shoulder straps. My hair was getting caught in the spider webbing and lots came
out. Many of them have the buzzed look but they hid the clippers when I threatened
to join them. <grin> I finally plastered it down with mousse. Bad hair day I
told them. They laughed. But -- when they asked, I told them I was doubtful
of my ability to meet the time limits with SCBA. Success was not clear. They
lectured me on ways to "adjust my attitude". Hmmm, I don't do pissing and moaning...
I just evaluate reality and invite the universe to co-create with me. Strange
pressures -- the guys DID NOT want to hear of the possibility of failure from
me. What was wonderful was that in a few more trials, I FELT it when my body
"got" it, the universe shifted, and I knew I was ready for the timed test. Is
it always that way?  In the end, I passed easily, with time to spare. I was
ecstatic!  Do you all remember such moments of challenge achieved? Tiny, I know
you do!

I've decided I still need to LIGHTEN UP. Last night, Hickman  (the Ozarks hilbille)
and I decided we needed to start planning the partyin' so we met in a "back
room" of theysaid and started with a coupla of cyber-beers <clink>.  Many jokes
and stories later, my sides hurt so bad from laughing that I thought I'd need
Doc Moleskin or AZ Trailblazer for at least a few ibuprofins! (BTW, congrats
AZ!) Ya' know, this is absolutely crazy, but the feel of this cyber-place we
all share does have somethin' of the feel of community, multiple perspectives,
dear friends, good times, laughter, sadness, and support. I'm glad to be here
with all of you. Thanks Ab for your subtle whit. (BTW, are you having a problem
with the site?-- or did we loose a week and the Jacobs Report into a black-cyberhole!
That would be a good place for that plan!) And thanks Hickman for all the silliness!
I really needed that!


PS If anyone has any ideas for games or activities here on theysaid and prizes
for winners, post them here or send your ideas to five_waters@hotmail.com 

Congrat's on passing the SCBA test Mellie!  Course we all here had no doubt.
As for stress, it appears to me when I've maximized my committments and then begin to doubt my abilities.  If you never feel it, you might not be trying hard enough.  It's also nature's way of telling us to "take a break". 

I'm not sure why there's a lack of response to the Jacob's report, but then I'm seldom able to predict the subjects evoking high interest here.
Press on!  Abercrombie.

03/13 The following link gives some details about a volunteer firefighter that was
entrapped and seriously burned on a vegetation fire in South Dakota on
Tuesday, March 7.  As of Friday, March 10, he was in critical condition with
2nd and 3rd degree burns over 60 to 80 percent of his body.  The link may
disappear from the newspaper site in a day or two.


Engine Guy

03/13 Hello all!!! Long time, no write for me. Sorry! I had a
little accident but I'm gonna be ready (hopefully) for the
already begining fire season. Pulaski I feel your pain (from
3/11 entry). Here in the southwest we spent a couple months
(Jan & Feb) of unseaonal warmth and fires and last week over
2" of rain in town, and even more snow up north.
Speaking of the tragedy in Memphis... it just goes to show
how stressful this job can be
and how bad things happen to good people. Does anyone know
of a motive? Did he just lose it? Awhile ago one of my
fellow brothers was having a problem with stress from our
line of work and was heading down a dangerous road. It's
amazing how much just taking a break can do. Go fishing,
hunting, or whatever. Although, we all love this work (if
you can call it that) its easy to get blinded to the signs
of stress and being burned-out! I guess I'm trying to say is
lets work hard, but let's work smart and safe. Take it easy
once and awhile, watch your brother's and sister's, and most
important watch and take care of yourself. Maybe we may
overt another tragedy like this.

Take care all, looking forward to the season,


03/13 RE: the agency strategy. The intent is to gather the best current
command-and-general-staffers and use both mentoring and OJT - which
would specifically include more frequent and varied assignments than
what teams usually get now. For example, several Type 1 IMTs (because of
GACC location, activation, and frequency of incidents in their area) get
frequent major incidents in a year. Others, though, for similar reasons,
do not. 

In an ideal situation, the NIMO "teams" will rotate faster and more
frequently than they do now. Experience would be gained through frequent
and varied assignments; e.g. fire use and LMP "strike team" updates to
reflect fire program needs and disturbance ecology (fire) effects. The
large incident management organization, in this scenario, would be
staffed with top-rated and DEDICATED (meaning committed and available)
leaders and professionals.

In the "ideal" organization, and in keeping with the concept - yes,
experience and knowledge can be gained much more quickly than is
currently possible. Professional risk managers note that high frequency
involvement increases knowledge, skills, and ability to deal with
incidents - especially in response applications. Some of us who have
been around fire a while understand that the more well-rounded you are
with the entire regime of wildland fire practices, the better resource
manager you become. 

--  Bombardero del Fuego

03/13 Hey All!!

As I reported last week of all the snow and rain, wouldn't cha know it, were're back in business. Prescott
Forest had a 1/2 acre fire up around Granite Basin. Also taking to Tony Sciacca (his kid just graduated
from my fire academy this past weekend) Prescott Forest FMO, he stated that on the Coconino, they were
getting 60 yard spots on a prescribe burn last week.

We have had absolutely NO green up from the moisture that we received. Looks like we will be heading out
to the Southern Area before to long to fight a little fire. 

Chief Tim
AKA AZ Trailblazer 

03/12 Happily I can say that we enjoy a excellant relationship with state
federal and several vfds in my area. All will respond to the fire call
and decide which agency is responsible after the fire is out. I have
reports that this is not the policy all over the state, but thank
goodness is is here. We do not have any BIA, NPS, or BLM lands so there
are not as many fingers in the pie. We have also not had any extended
attack or campaign fires to muddy the water either. I do know that in
some of the highest positions of vfds and the state there is some
bickering, but they are not there when there is line to be put in. adftr
03/12 More news links concerning Memphis tragedy from various sources:


03/12 Theres been some post about FS Firefighters and Fallen Firefighter
memorials and I'd like to post somethings I've found.

The Colorado Springs Memorial is an International Association of 
FireFighters (IAFF) memorial to IAFF's fallen firefighters.  Any FS folks 
who were IAFF members who died in the line of duty should be honored 
there.  If you know of someone who was overlooked, please contact IAFF and 
I'm sure they'll set it right.

The National Fallen Firefighter Memorial at the National Fire Academy
campus at Emmitsburg, Maryland, is for all Firefighters in the US.  Over 
sites on that memorial should be addressed to the memorial site on the FEMA 
website, or the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation at  firehero@erols.com

Important info;  anyone who's been to California lately may have seen the 
special Firefighter License Plates.  Well they've been setting $20.00 aside 
from every original plate request and renewal for the California Fallen 
Firefighter Memorial.  Along with a lot of other money raised through fund 
raisers and donations this has allowed California's Firefighters to build a 
memorial that will be larger than life statues of all types of firefighters
on a marble stage with a memorial wall to be placed on the lawn infront of 
the Capital.  The unveiling date is to be 12 October 2000.  This memorial
is for ALL Firefighters who have died in the line of duty fighting fire in 
California, no matter where they came from.  USFS R5 has been notified and 
I believe may already have sent in all the names they know of but it 
wouldn't hurt to send in anyone you know of.  They'll need a complete and 
accurate spelling of the Firefighters name, when they died and what fire 
were they on.  The accurate name is important as it will literally be 
"ENGRAVED IN STONE"  Send the information to the CPF (California 
Professional Firefighters Association) via their web site 
http:\\www.cpf.org or to the California Fire Foundation at 925 L St., Suite 
925, Sacramento CA 95814.  Attention Terry McHale

Lets get our info in and assure our fallen brothers and sisters are honored.

Be safe this season !!!
Michael M.

03/12 Hey all:

Just a quick question about mutual aid.  Does it seem to work well where
you're at?  I've experienced a one-sided version of it where the FS will
call out anything around, including CDF, BLM, BIA, and FS
engines/resources wherever they are.  However, CDF tends to work on its
own and does not even have other agency's resources in their dispatch
system (or so it seems).  There have been instances where CDF will call
an engine 10 miles away when another agency's resource is twice as
close.   I'm sure the FS and other agencies do the same thing in
different places, I'm not picking on our red-engined brethren (for a
change, ha!).  How viable is it to get a true mutual aid system
running?  It would be safest for the people we serve, and would end a
lot of inter-agency political bickering.  I look forward to your

--Nor-cal Firedog

03/12 Ab et all...

About Memphis:

This is really really sad, I agree. I also find it really scary. Not more than four months ago I was writing a fictional peice for my writing class
that had city firecrews respond to a fire call, and more than one fireman getting injured by a beserk man on the scene... this is really
unsettling for me... needless to say I've since deleted any copies of that work and have to wonder sometimes if coincidence is, or if there's
something out there.. I'm trying to tell myself it was only coincidence. Indeed I hadn't even turned in that work for an assignment... just of
those things I suppose. 

You requested links for news, MSNBC is typically good about that, and here are a few links to stories relating to the Memphis shooting



My thoughts are with the Memphis crews... and my deepest condolences.


03/11 Ab, 

A Moment of silence for our fallen Brothers in Memphis, murdered yesterday arriving on the scene of a  structure fire. A moment for the
Sheriff's Deputy murdered at the same location as well. They were all felled by  firefighter.

A very sad day for us all. 

Engineer Emmett 

I saw a spot on CNN today, but have no further links or information to distribute.  Readers please advise of any news links.  Ab.

03/11 to the individual about the dispatch ?
as a pvt contractor we have both contracts and EERA's:  Unfortunately our 'Home Forest' doesn't use us.  I spoke with a zone fmo and he said that he
just  tells dispatch what he needs, but the dispatchers never call.  I hope that this FMO and others realize that we are a viable resource to use on initial
and extended attack,  campaign fires.  etc.  A lot of us private contractors are ex agency, we've trained side by side with you folks in the past.  And
remember contractors can be requested by name.  It happens all the time in region 4.  lets see if R-5 can start the same policy.  Its bad when you have
to get an order from another GACC other then you own to go to a fire in your home region.
03/11 Interesting room.  I work for the FS but am not in Fire.  I am a crew sup of a project crew that responds to fires on the district and as a
single resource to larger fires.  I have worked in the FS for 12 seasons and enjoyed them immensely.  I enjoy going to and working on fires
especially as a Unlimited faller.  This is very interesting to read others view points on all aspects of fire suppression and all around
communication about the fire season as it progresses.  I'll be a frequent guest and contributor.  My wife said there should be a chat room
for the spouses that are taking care of business back home while we are out enjoying ourselves with the job we love in gods country.  Its
interesting to hear friends and acquaintances say how lucky I am to have a job working in the woods instead of being stuck in a office or
factory job.  I know this job will not make me a rich man but I did not get into this line of work for the $. Its for the chance to gather a life
experience few people want to or get the opportunity to pursue. Enjoy yourselves and don't forget to take a few minutes to look around and
realize even in the most harsh conditions on the fireline there is still a nice view of nature and the surrounding mountains  that people pay
big $ to enjoy on a vacation.      Later. (noname)

Ya bring a lump to my throat and damn near tears to my eyes, noname.  With the many daily non-fire issues facing us today it's easy to lose sight of our primary goals in life.  I sometimes receive email accusing me of running a site for whiners and complainers.  I'll allow there may be a bit of that, but as I see it, it's insiders talking about inside issues they feel strongly about.  Since some posters waste little time considering the politically correctness of their messages, I can see where those who may be a few steps removed from the fireline or those whose pension is the highest priority in their lives might want to look elsewhere for discussion more in line with their comfort level.  Fine with me, to those I say, "go away"!

Now, back to my point.  If an individual wants to see firsthand how some of these alleged whiners and complainers really feel about their jobs, just find a firefighter (any firefighter), engage them in conversation and throw in some personal attacks on their agencies or fellow firefighters.  I do not recommend this activity, nor will I be held responsible in any way for your physical well being.
     God, I love the smell of retardent in the morning. . .Ab.

03/11 dayum...spent last week fightin fires and savin lives...now today had to chip the ice and snow of the smokey sign to put the low sign back in! ..grrrr


03/11 keith: MY heart is with you.  I've been there regarding brothers that you work with and ones that are related to you!  Hang in there my friend.
go with your heart.
03/11 Just a note to inform the fire world, there is a new type 1 Hotshot crew in
the Rocky Mountain Region called the Tatanka Hotshots.  Last year was their 
first season, and they spent 73 days on fire assignments in Colorado, 
Wyoming, Montana, and California.  They performed well enough to officially 
achieve type 1 status in one year, so expect to see them around this season. 
  The crewbase is in Custer, South Dakota located in Black Hills National 
Forest.  They also have a very interesting logo.
03/11 To the Contractor who didn't sign his name.....
I don't dispatch for a Forest office, but we do use contractors where I
am from. To answer your question, we do not count of contractors to stay
in our state and be held in reserve for covering our fires. When we
assemble any kind of strike team, we try to ensure that at least one of
our trucks is represented by a contractor to "share the wealth". I feel
that we are the exception and not the rule. We rely on the contractors
in all areas of firefighting be it, engines, aviation or personnel such
as EMT's etc...

If we don't utilize these resources we will lose all of our extra help
when we need it.


I concur with your comments "zonie" and like to think my forest also takes good care (responsibly and fairly) of the several private resources we administer.  This is not to say there hasn't been occassional dissagreements, but by working by together, I feel we have an excellent working relationship.  I'm aware this is not always the case cause I was contacted more than once by others wanting to have us adminster them.  Their common complaint was their perception of being held in reserve.  I don't feel they were always correct, but sometimes it appeared so.  Ab.

03/11 Hats off to you Mellie, you have terrific insight.  Aside from funding, 
politics, and interagency cooperation, the statement that bothers me most in
the Jacobs report is when they talk about shortening the training ladder to 
Command and General Staff positions.   Five years??  I just don't get it.  I
wouldn't want to work for a Type 1 or 2 Incident Commander, or Planning
Section Chief, or whatever, who has only five years fire experience, would 
you?   Maybe I don't understand what they're driving at here but my recent 
fire experiences,,,,,,, well, not just the most recent ones but a lot of my 
fire experiences over the years indicate to me that it should take LONGER to 
move through the system than it does today.  Something there just doesn't add 


03/09 The Jacobs Report, where to begin-

I commend the National Fire Management Review Team (NFMRT) for recognizing that
there is a problem and that change is needed. I agree that change is needed.

However, from a scientific perspective, I am surprised that one more Pathway
to the Future did not PRECEDE the three pathways that are discussed. Funding
at 100% of MEL (Most Efficient Level) should be the ground zero from which to
start assessing the need for radical change in the system that they propose.
If we had 100 % of the funding necessary to run the fire program (instead of
only 60% of MEL), many of the problems that the review team discusses would

I propose that the FS hire the Brookings Institution to take the last 3 to 5
years of fire, resource, and cost data and submit it to analysis. If we had
had 100% of MEL during those years, how many additional resources would have
been available? Let them model what might have been the effects of those additional
resources on fire suppression and fire suppression costs? Before proposing any
other changes, we need to assess the implications of having 100% of MEL on resources,
staffing and costs.

Besides a system that is funded at MEL, I suggest that our modified system requires
that the line officers, including the chief, regional foresters, forest supervisors
and district rangers, need to have some experience in fire. It is imperative
that the people controlling the purse strings make funding fire (including hazard
identification, fuels management, the staffing of fire personnel in the summer,
etc.) a priority. We have seen what happens on a forest when a forest supervisor
does not support fire. 

Fire management cannot be separated from land management as the NFMRT points
out. Hopefully, the Laverty Report will expand on this. However, it may not
be necessary to completely re-engineer the system to Pathway 3 to get the additional
dollars (825 million?) for fuels treatment. Any new system will have at least
some problems. They'll just be new problems. (Ab & BLM readers, didn't the BLM
try some national team system in the 1970's with poor outcomes? I was a toddler
and I don't rightly remember--<grin>--)

One other problem is glossed over in the report. One strength of fire, as it
is done today, is its multi-agency approach. Will this change? Where exactly
do the BLM, NPS, and BIA really fit into Pathway 3? I'm not sure that we're
at the Implementation Team stage yet. 

So, is the WO really going to go for 100% of MEL as was reported to the R5 Division
Chiefs or are they going to settle for 60% and a "new plan"? Let's all keep
working and thinking on this. I am hopeful that solutions can be found.


03/09 Keith--a big hug for you and your family -->your pain is ours<--

FYI, when a person (even an EMT) is in great health and has a heart attack (silent
ischemia), it's unlikely he would think "heart attack" first. It's not even
on the radar screen. That's why this disease (that requires immediate action)
is a major killer.

Condolances to you and yours. I'm glad you had your brothers-at-arms with you.

Sign me "Every Firefighter"

03/09 My name is Charles Lehman, i'm a second year Fire science major at Lake Superior State University, in MI.  I'm looking for
schools out in Eastern Virginia or north eastern noth carolina with fire science programs.  Actually anywhere in the vacinity of
those states will do.  What i want to do in fight wild land fires, but i would like to have a degree in fire science so i have the option
of indutrial fire fighting.  Could you please send me some information if you have any on schools that you might have.  I would
greatly appreciate it.   My email address is mailto:paddleboat100@hotmail.com
03/09 well when your so called home unit finds out he has no contracters because
they have all gone out of biz .i hope they will think about it ..yes as a pvt
contracter you do need and have to look for work all over to live all 
year..the govt needs to use the contracters because in a few years the govt
will have down sized so much that all he will have to fight his 

I know.  Ab

03/08    Hello, Just wanted to say that this is a great website.  I'm not a 
firefighter myself, but I admire the heck out of you people.  You're 
overworked and probably underpaid. 
     I don't know what that fella from Arizona was complaining about.  Seems 
to me that nothing would make you forestry guys happier than lots of rain. 
That keeps the fires from burning and you could spend more of the summer 
doing fun things. (Like drinking)  because you wouldn't have to work a bunch 
of overtime. 
      On another matter, I think the government should cover the entire 
mountains with a massive sprinkler system.  I know it sounds like a lot of 
money.  Initially it would cost a lot, But,  Once the system was in place, it 
would pay for itself. 

Well JAFO, I'll agree with liking the extra time off during the summer, but then we'd have to sell our houses come winter.  As for the sprinkler idea, might sell it to Washington, but not here.  Thanks for the post.  Ab.

03/08 Ab. & All:

  I'm still looking for a source or any leads on the Texas wildland
firefighter logo shown on the "logo" page.  Keith, if your out there,
please help me out!  Thanks!


Greetings Ab and all,
  I want to voice a personal opinion on the principle of the honor guard.I don't intend to say anything about the Guard everyone here has been referring to because I have not had the oppurtunity to see them.
  I have served on an honor detail for numerous Firefighter funerals because of both line of duty and natural causes.I consider it an honor and a privilege to do so.We did not do this for any religous or political objectives.
  Forgive me if I have offended anyone but I had to say something.I buried my brother today who had also been an volunteer FF with us for about 8 years.I was felt a great sense of pride and respect for my brothers-at-arms that were there to share in my grief with me and my family.
  Now to get off my soapbox,I'll close by telling you that my brother denied all of the warning signs that he was having a heart attack and it killed him.  He was 36 years old and in perfect health.  Also an EMT that knew all the signs.

                           Stay safe and well,Keith

03/08 Ab  got some questions for the dispatchers out there.

I was wondering that when there is a crunch on resources  Engines/ Hand
crews/ etc.   And the dispatchers are having trouble filling orders.  Can
they use Contract resources without ordering them from their home forest?
The reason I ask is the fact that many forests use contractors as a kind of
backup.  Which would be great if we got paid to do it.  But we arent.  They
dont owe us a cent if we dont work.  I see a lot of contractors out there on
the verge of going out of business because their home forest wont let the
other dispatches know they have resources left.

I have to call all over the place to get work, ad they are happy to hear we
are available.  I hear comments like " your forest said they didnt have
anything left",   "your forest said they need to hold YOU as backup"

Just a thought.  Anyone out there got any ideas?

You questions are ones I've heard before from other contractors and the answer is no, you can't freelance unless it's to an area and agency outside the influence of your contracting agency and you have an agreement with the agency you are responding to.  This is only how I understand it and I'm no contracting wizard.  And yes, I'm aware of the perception of some forests holding on to contractors "just in case"!  If you feel this has happened to you and you have a good arguement, contact your main contracting rep and let them know.  Don't worry about makng the dispatch office mad, they're already screwing you over.  What will they do?  Make you stay at home?  I sympathize with all resources who are held for the fire that never happens when the rest of the state is burning.  Ab.

03/08 LAST CALL!!!  To all folks that will be attending the retirement party for
Mark Linane & the Los Padres Hot Shots 50 year reunion.  What we need from you:
        -Are you having just dinner or dinner and breakfast?
        -How many are in your party, if any?
        -Do you plan on making a presentation?
        -Do you need names of local hotels/motels?
On Friday 3/17/00 will be an ice breaker, drinking beer and telling tall
tales for those that are coming early.  There will be NO CATERED DINNER on
Friday night, so bring yourself something to eat if your going to eat.  On
Saturday 3/18/00 at 1200 we will have the LPHS reunion.  Dinner will be
around 1600.  At about 1800 the retirement party for Supt will start.
Unknown how long it will last.  After that the band will fire up.  Breakfast
the following morning will be served at about 0900 for those able to consume
food.  The location is Live Oak Campground, Highway 154 & San Marcos Golf
Course.  Same place where we had the Marre & Ogylvie fire camps.  If you are
attending and have not yet notified us please give us a call at the LPHS
office.  If no answer please leave a message.  Right now we are looking at
400+ people that have confirmed. 
03/07 Everyone,
The Jacobs Report is out 


If you want to print it and have difficulties, as I did, on 2 different computers
(got printer error messages), try starting with page 3 (executive summary),
printing through 20, skip 21 (which is numbered page 17) and print 22 through
31. 32 is a blank page. 1 and 2 are graphics or signed letters. 21 is also a
signed letter. (PDF has some problems.)

Good luck and happy reading!

Thanks Mellie, I'm far from home this week and won't be able to check it out, will see what I can do to correct the problems you experienced this weekend.  Telecommunications are rudimentary at my location.  Meanwhile, I'd suggest all fire suppression folks read this document and try to determine what it might mean to each of you.  I'll be interested in hearing your reactions.  Ab.

03/07 Now up and running for your viewing pleasure (the Jacob's report)!
03/07 Alaska Helitack,

The "new" style nomex pants you have been seeing have been around for a 
while.  I have seen the structure folks wearing them for the past few years 
as duty pants in some departments, blue in color.  I have seen a few catalogs 
that carry structure stuff where the pants are listed, try Pacific Wildfire's 
catalog.  It is my understanding that GSA is discontinuing the green nomex 
and will only carry the new style as stocks run out.  One reason is that the 
new pants are adjustable and one pair will fit two wast sizes and several leg 
lengths.  GSA will have fewer items to stock.  Good Luck.


03/07 Mellie,

Prescott has about 11" of snow. We got 2.75" of rain before it started snowing at the Mayer/Spring Valley Fire Station two days ago. It looked like we were about to start the fire season early this year, but as Mother Nature plays havoc with us, looks like the middle of April will start things off for us. I just wish that "winter" would come to us in November/December instead of March.
Some of you probably remember last year that we were busting fires in March when we got slammed with 6 inches of
snow on April Fools Day. 

Looks like Florida is off to the races. Anyone out there on their way or on stand-by for Florida??

Chief Tim

03/07 ab. working on the company logo to get it sent to you!

now seeing that we are all being light about last season heres a good one.
we were supposed to help some crews put in indirect line at night.  never been scouted in daylight.  after some of us had crawled under,over and around brush (typical to the BigBar complex) it was finally decided that it wasnt a good idea to go there in the dark. 
thank god they found the plantation they were looking for in the light.  but the funniest thing was, that after the fog rolled in that night.  They had decided to release all resources back to camp with the execption of 2 engines.  Mine and another PC's.  Our duty assignment was to perform a stationary patrol untill daylight.
that was one of my funnest assignments.

03/07 March 17,18,19 will be the 50th reunion for the Los Padres/Prietos Hot Shots.  It is also doubling as a retirement party for Mark Linane "Supe".  Supe retired earlier this year after 38 years working on the Los Padres NF as a fire fighter.  Most of those years were as the Superintendent of the Los Padres Hot Shots.  The party will be at Live Oak campground in Lake Cachuma county park.  There will be a $25 charge.  There will be food, music, activities, awards etc.  R.S.V.P. at (805) 964-5369  If any old LP Shots didn't know, now you do, so be there! 
03/07 thanks  eric  for the info on the foam unit   sorry about the spelling. see 
you on the fire line..........slookout
03/07 RE: direct on the Big Bar:
The lightning storm was August 23, and within days, about 300 fires were
going on 19,000 acres. Five of those fires became the Big Bar, which was
contained after 91 days at 140,907 acres. 

The area had heavy fuel loading and blowdown, many snags, and steep and
nasty terrain. Because of smoke inversions and the dangerous terrain,
firefighter safety priorities often precluded the use of direct attack.
Extremely dry conditions with high ERCs and heavy fuel loads resulted in
extreme fire behavior, sometimes forcing firefighter retreats and
changes in tactics. The complex -- in terms of priority for resources --
was ranked last out of eight fires in northern California. Because all
but one of the Big Bar fires were within the Trinity Alps Wilderness,
other fires in the state received higher rankings and therefore
out-competed the Big Bar for resources. 

By August 28, only eight of the 17 Type I crews ordered had arrived.
During the first ten days, orders were placed for a total of 34 crews,
and 16 of those orders went unfilled. In the last days of August, 20
type II crews were ordered; 10 of the crews arrived on the first of

Active uphill fire runs were noted on August 28, and a red flag watch
was issued for high winds on the next day. By then the fires had grown
to over 9000 acres. The Onion Fire had burned to within a mile of
Hoboken, fuel moistures were extremely low, and other fires were moving
in all directions. There were still no personnel available for the
Megram Fire, which by September 3 was almost 400 acres. The Fawn Fire
had burned to within a mile of heavy blowdown, and the Onion Fire was
within a half mile of the Dailey subdivision. Smoke was settling over
the area, and aircraft use was limited. Air ops were suspended on the
Onion Fire on September 7 because of continued smoke inversions; more
than 1100 people were now on the 17,542-acre complex. Heavy smoke
inversions and hot and dry conditions continued, with active fire
behavior; by September 17 the complex had grown to 42,436 acres. 

Sure, direct is a good idea. Sure, it can be effective. But making the
call to use indirect was a good idea, too, under the circumstances. That
was not the only reason that the Big Bar was a huge and expensive fire
-- and it won't be the last one, either.


03/07 Well put, Stihl. Very clear. We're pretty-much in the same place. --Mellie
To No Name @ Big Bar, Also Guessing that was your "no name" post on 3/4
to "RE: S.C."

Direct is great & an obvious first choice whenever Wx & resource
availability allow.  But it itsn't the ony tool in the toolbox, if it
were we wouldn't carry fuesses, torches & ammo.

KEY is ability to recognize best probability of success with available
wx & resources. As there are only two recognized strategies, DIRECT &
INDIRECT, it is of no suprise that most WFSA's (Wildland Fire Situation
Analysis) select the combination direct/indirect alterantive for

I have implemented both with success & failure in both.  Hotline with
hose or crew is a kick, but burning behind a cat or down a raod is also
a kick.

One could make the argument that South Canyon was the "Black", as even
black is a shade of grey.

I have a saying  and it goes like this: "It's OK to be lightning when
your fighting, but it's not OK to be fighting when your lighting!"

On the 10 & 18.  YOU CAN NOT VILOIATE or break the 18. They are
"watchouts" not stop action.  Many occur on both Direct & Indirect; i.e
wx getting hotter & drier; feel like taking a nap; making a frontal
attack; country you haven't seen in daylight; yada, yada, yada. they
should only be a key, and hopefully an instinctive key to an
experienceed firefighter, (not something you need to take out your
chiecklist for) that your decision making window is shrinking.

to all, be careful out there!

03/06     Well its a few weeks before NJ fire season startes but I think we are 
getting an early start. NJ traditionally starts its fire season in April but 
here it is March and we are already rolling. We have till March 15 to get 
prescribed burns finished but the fire weather has been a little to good for 
Hey Hickman (you Hillbillie, you)-- and all others who play the fire prediction

I'm not playin' 'cause I want some REAL fire, but check out these sites (thanks
to a *friend*) for some more grist for the prediction mill:


Remember, you should also keep up with your local weather channel if you're
serious about this. AZ looked like it would burn for sure last week when I was
there. They even requested that we bring our own water when traveling up to
Sabino Canyon outside of Tucson, because water was so low. Since then on the
Weather Channel, I saw it was raining rattlesnakes and horneytoads there! Is
that so?

What's it like there in your necko-the-desert, Doc Moleskin and AZ Trailblazer?
A little more damp, perhaps, or did it just all gully off? Let's see, you're
northern AZ. What about more southern--hmmm VG, what's it like in Prescott?
GA, what about Coronado? New Mexico crowd, seems you had rain, too. Wa'''Sup?

What a wonderful, crazy, laughin', huggin' crew that Region 3 fire group is!!!
And ya'll send in some patches, while you're at it, ya'hear!!!! I want one othem
with the antelope on it for sure!

Hey Ab, maybe we should have a prediction prize? Whatcha think, readers? What
would be good? (I'll help contribute to it!)


Great show on The Learning Channel last night called "Firefight: Stories
from the frontline. Wildfires". It featured the Bear Divide Hotshots and
also talked about smokejumpers, air support etc. No BS or glorifying, it
said how it really is, long hours and hard work that most people can't do.
If you get a chance check it out.

Former R-3 Shot

Great site Ab, even though I have been out of the business since my college
days it nice to keep informed, you know how it is, once its in your

03/05 I was in attendance in reno too, "@"'s response to itorch was thoughtful
and well done. Its hard to believe itorch was to blown of when the Honor
Guard recognized the criticism to the whole w'shop. On one hand these
issues should be addressed but, i'm unease whenever anyone is speaking
for unknown individuals to add creditability to an their concern. I also
don't like the idea that among firefighters there are those that are
eager to make an issue out of an honor guard and the prayer. It seems
alot of time is spent reacting to individual feelings. Maybe as the
theme of the W'shop stated, lets stick to the basics.
03/05 Ok, here is my first post... To all of the BLM firefighters out there...
I am a Forest Tech with the Alaska State Div of Forestry, and noticed a
lot of Fed firefighters sporting these brand new "kaki" colored BDU
style pants. All of the Alaska Shot crews and Alaska Jumpers had them,
and I even worked with a guy from Carson City, NV who worked a few days
in our area as a HECM who had a pair.... Now here is what I spent the
winter doing.... I found out that National Firefighter Corp. has a pair
that they just started making for the new 2000 GSA specs which is the
"kaki" colored Nomex/Kevlar blend in a rip stop style of material, but
they are not in the military BDU style, just the same as the others that
they sell. I also found out that a company called Barrier Wear is
apperently going to make a new line of pants some time in April, which
will be the same as a military BDU but with the traditional spruce green
nomex. What I am getting at with all of this is do any of you know any
other vendors that may be selling this type of pants or can any of you
Fed folks look in the inside flap of your new pants for a vendor name?
Any help that you can give me on this subject would be GREATLY
Thank you
Alaska Helitack
Abandoning fire lines at night??? Hmmmm what a
I've never seen a "whole sale abandonment" in my 11
years on the shots. But we have left areas that were
unsafe to be in, IE: fast moving rolling material or
those highly exciting 40 foot long 48 inch DBH
toboggans making thier presence known. Personaly I
prefer the night firefighting. Its cooler, usually
less intensity and the nasty burn shows are easier to
hold. Granted there is no aircraft but who in thier
right mind ties thier safe working to having an
aircraft overhead. Night Op's will always be there,
but if the risk is to high, it's time to monitor from
a distance, or move to a secondary-line. I presume
your one of the old dogs, buy some of the things you
said. To many times I've heard in camp "I remember
when". Those days are gone. The folks these days don't
and shouldn't follow blindly. They are fire educated
and hardworking(for the most part). I've seen to many
times crews pulled off divisions because they said
"NO". Hopefully your secure enough in your position
you can accept the "No" even if it doesn't fit your
plan. There is always another way. The fire just might
get a little bigger.
 Take care and give the ground pounders a break!
 Sign me: Picky about staying safe!
The Brothers and Sisters of the United Yavapai Firefighters, Local 3066, the Mayer Fire District, and Omniflight Helicopter-Prescott
Native 4 would like to congradulate Captain/Paramedic Tim Irwin for his recent promotion to District Assistant Fire Chief for the
Mayer, Arizona Fire District. 

We would alson like to congradulate Kent Courtney, former fire chief of the Montezuma-Rim Rock, Arizona Fire District, for his
appointment to District Fire Chief of the Mayer, Arizona Fire District.

Hope to see you all out on the "big" fires this year!!

the local 3066 VP


Help me understand. I have taken an interest in this thread because I
think the honor guard is a good idea and MissSZQ,
Hellitorch and yourself all seem to agree on that premise.

You agree with hellitorchs first point.

On the second point, it sounds like you agree with the what -
(Denominational vs. non.) It sounds like you are still struggling
with the where/when (funeral vs other venues.)

You called hellitorchs third point, a LOW SHOT because of the
THEIR SUPPORTERS of blind PRIDE and then go on to ask, blinding PRIDE
in what? MissSZQ was the one to say, I
am proud to be a part of this. I think I can understand how hellitorch
would think the level of pride has blinded those close
to this program. First his questions were not answered at the division
chief meeting. Then you suggest that it was how he/she
asked the question.

Anybody who has been in this business for very long has been touched by
the loss of a fire fighter, who was their friend.
Unfortunately it looks like the honor guard subject has evoked an
emotional response for a program that must be objectively
planned and managed to achieve a desired outcome, much the same as any
other program we run. If the desired outcome is to
alienate the minority of non-christians in the FS, then the honor guard
and chaplain should change nothing. It desired
outcome is to build consensus and support for this program then I think
there may be something to hellitorchs points.

It looks like everyone is in agreement that we should have an honor
guard. The only question that remains is what venue is
appropriate for denomination vs non. Personally, I am inclined to agree
with hellitorch on this one. Any venue honoring a
firefighter where the family is present and they would like this type of
service, is okay with me. Any venue with multiple
families present, the ceremony should be more non-denominational or
should be a moment of silence in a memorial service as
you suggested. I think any other venue should also should be non
denominational or should be a moment of silence.

Stihl on the fence

Hi AB,
     After looking at how people discussed how last summer's fire season went, I found some old Incident Base Situations
that shout "Watch Out" that came out some time ago. We all might learn something from them:

1.  You're dozing at your desk in the middle of the day.
2.  You're on the downhill side of the organization where rolling material can dump on you.
3.  You're downwind of the Xerox machine when it is turned on.
4.  You cannot see the main fire and you're not in touch with anyone who cares.
5.  You're at a planning meeting and you feel the wind blow or change direction.
6.  You're in an area where you are unfamiliar with local customs influencing social behavior.
7.  You're in a local bar which you have not seen at night.
8.  You are getting frequent hot spots on your butt.
9.  You feel your boss getting hotter and hotter.
10. You notice long lines at the restrooms after a meal.
11. You are in a boring area that makes demob difficult, if not impossible.
12. You feel like taking a nap in the chow line.
13. You have been given an assignment or instructions you don't like.


03/05 One new photo on Fire2 page and one on Air2.  Ab.
03/04 This is my first post to They Said, although I've been reading it with great 
interest for about 6 months.  I think it's great that there is a place for 
firefighters to express themselves.  This is a freedom afforded to us because 
of the country we live in.  We also have the freedom of choice.

With that in mind, I want to tell HELLitorch, I know most of the members of 
the Honor Guard.  I also know a Captain on the Angeles who has been allowed 
to serve as a Chaplain if his services are requested. Both the Honor Guard 
and Chaplain have had to serve in this capacity TOO MANY times in our recent 
past and deserve to be congratulated for taking on these "extra" duties.

The Forest Service is finally getting recognized for honoring our fallen 
firefighters just like other fire departments do for their firefighters.  We 
may not have control over our pay, but someone took the initiative to get the 
Honor Guard started, and I personally respect them for doing that.

As an American you have the freedom of choice.  If you don't like the Honor 
Guard, don't go to any more memorial services.  If you DO choose to go to 
(heaven forbid) any more memorial services, then take PRIDE in the fact that
we can now honor our fallen firefighters as they should have always been 
honored, and quit criticizing.

Better yet, why don't you JOIN the Honor Guard, that way we'll have someone 
who can meet all the other religious needs you seem to be concerned about.


P.S.  Mellie, I'm one of the women reading, and now posting, to this site. 
We are definitely out here!

03/04 RE:  S.C.     The black is one of the best safety zones around.  Any action should be scouted before sending people into a dangerous situation.  That is what air attack (visability permitting) and experienced supervisors are for.  Can anyone tell me how many 10s and 18s would have been broken by going direct.  If possible, I cant think of a better tactic of wildland fire suppression than direct line construction.  Hard work, yes, but going direct gets results. Maybe I can be enlightened, if anyone knows anything that works better let me know.  That is what this forum is all about, right.

Right!  Ab.

03/04 for the fella looking for the "Rowbon"  proportioner.  I hope your referring
to the Robwen Series of Proportioners.    We bought three odel  500 A
proportioners in 97.  They are an excellent,  well built machined, tool.  It
is obvious that they put a lot of design into it.   We upgraded them in 98
with the addition of their Stainless control panel.   Wwe bought ours
directly from Robwen.

They consist of three main parts  A control panel, that controls the flow of
foam and percent, a differential mixer type thing.  (this is where the foam
is  mixed and is plumbed inline after the pump)  and a foam tank that
contains a bladder inside.  This is where the foam concentrate is kept.  The
pump pressure surrounds the bladder thereby equalizing pressure in the foam.
The control panel then proportions the amount of foam injected Very
accurately mind you, into the stream.  It is then mixed in the inline
chamber, and sent on its way.

In operation it is very clean, easy to use, and reliable.   My only beef was
the Schematic didnt really match up to the new panel exactly.  Anyways email
me, and ill send you our operation manual.

PW  pacificrimwildfire@email.msn.com


You posted the forest service reports, but to get the most up to date statistics.  You might want to check NIFC's page,
even though they are only updating situation report weekly until fire season starts, this page give you an idea of where we are in the year compaired
to the last 5 years.


Actually, the first link on the page I mentioned earlier is to NIFC's daily fire report which is being updated daily.  The report you mention above is a synopsis of the main daily report.  Ab. 

03/03 HelliTORCH,

If you had stopped at your first point, I would have agreed completely with
you. I understand that your cause in this "thread" on They Said is to illuminate
the perspective of the minority religion (or non-religion) to the majority who
is Christian. Your comments have brought greater clarity to the function of
Honor Guard and Chaplain and the need to continue to make those functions clear
as acceptance is sought for each of the two groups in various venues.

Regarding point 2, I'm not sure that prayer should only be reserved for a funeral,
but PERHAPS prayer should be more non-denominational or should be a moment of
silence in a memorial service. Read on.

I feel that your point 3 is a LOW SHOT. In this you accuse HONOR GUARD MEMBERS
AND THEIR SUPPORTERS of blinding PRIDE (one of the 7 deadly sins, no less!).
Let me ask, blinding PRIDE in what? An overwhelming majority of us who attended
the memorial service supported it and the Honor Guard. This was evidenced by
the unanimous (or almost unanimous?) show of hands when we were asked, on two
separate occasions, whether we supported it. (I can't remember anyone raising
his or her hand in opposition. Did you?) Most attendees of the Division Chief's
Meeting were there. Were we all blindingly prideful? We WERE touched by the
sense of family and felt good about that. Do you think PRIDE is why we attended
or stayed? Do you think that PRIDE blinded all of us to the potential problem
that a Christian prayer might cause? I think not. I don't think you can possibly
know what motivates more that a hundred people, or even the 20 or so people
in the Honor Guard. It isn't the same thing for any two people.

I came because I had lost a friend, Karen Savage in a senseless accident in
the Jones Fire. (Check out the Denny Road memorial sign on the miscellaneous
photos page.) Her funeral was held while the Megram was still burning. I didn't
get to go. The Honor Guard Service meant a lot to me. I felt the LOVE of members
of the group in the room for each other and the acknowledgment that some brothers
and sisters were gone and that we needed to say thanks and acknowledge that
their lives had enriched our lives. Afterwards I had the sense that to fail
to acknowledge and appreciate our fallen comrades is a kind of abandonment of
them and of ourselves. And firefighters do not abandon their fellows. Nor would
we want to be abandoned if the tables were turned.

I do admit that I was caught off guard by the "in the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ" part of the prayer. I am a practicing Buddhist in my daily meditations
(all 4 to 6 miles per day) as well as coming from a Judeo-Christian background.
But, when I looked at my feelings and those of the participants at that moment,
I recognized the LOVE in the heart of the Chaplin and the LOVE from the Honor
Guard and the LOVE all around me. Karen was a Baptist. The Christian turn of
phrase would have suited her just fine. (In the Buddhist tradition, I noted
my fleeting discomfort, noted the LOVE, and put my attention on the present
unfolding action of the Chaplin, who was ringing the bell in the integrity of
the moment.)

After the service, the Honor Guard, standing outside, openly explained to me
the differing functions of the Honor Guard and the Chaplain. Interesting that
you felt "blown off" when you asked. (Perhaps it was, in part, in how you asked.)
Again, HELLitorch let me say that I understand your cause and appreciate it.
I commend you for raising the issue and continuing to push the dialog. In the
overall scheme of things, we would all know less had you not spoken up. 

Thank you Honor Guard. Thank you Chaplain. Thanks to those who are gone but
live in our memories and thank you, Brothers and Sisters, for not abandoning
each other.


PS Hey, Joe, I want a HELLITORCH. The drip torch you gave me is good but I want
a bigger fire!

03/03 so folks whats burning so far this year ..and where will it hit hard .does 
anyone have the stats on them ..also i am looking for info  on the rowbon 
foam unit .does any one know where i can get a book on it  thanks  fire doc

You can find fire information reports here:  http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/reports.shtml.  Ab.

03/03 AHHH...lake states checking in with the first fires of the year for us....its nice to be back in the saddle...and we typically have at least a foot or two of
snow on the ground yet at this time. Temps have been stedily well above average and precip well below normal since last fall.


03/03 Doorsmaurer, thanks for the information.  While the
IAFF might be a good organization, I think that it is
inappropriate for taxpayers to financially support a
union only memorial.  What makes it somewhat ironic is
that in El Paso County (where Colorado Springs is
located) there are federal firefighters that are with
the Air Force Academy FD, NORAD Air Force Base FD,
Falcon AFB FD, Peterson AFB FD, Fort Carson FD, a FS
helitack crew, and a FS hotshot crew.  There are
numerous professional firefighters who, through their
tax dollars, support the IAFF memorial, but would not
even get a sticky note with their name on it if they
were killed in the line of duty.  It sounds as if they
do things better in Maryland.

Would love to go back east and check out the sites,
Gettysburg would be fasinating.  Thanks, 6

03/03 fire season is getting underway here in the southeast. we have been pushing
pretty hard on hazard reduction burning the last few weeks.in fact we've got
a couple of helicopter burns lined up for next week. but we ran a 100 acre
wildfire yesterday that would have gone to 1,000 if the head hadn't run into
a wet pasture. as it was we caught it with 2 tractor plows, burning in a 10
year old pine plantation. Looks like it may be time to stop lighting and
start fighting.

take care and come see us..................speedo

03/03 For Bob Alvord,
I think that the distibutor you are looking for is now called Copart, located in Columbia, SC.  Call them at 1-800-774-3002 for a catlaog and price list. They carry a wide variety of t-card accessories, and they have had a quick turn-around on orders that I've placed with them.


03/02 MissSZQ,

Don't get me wrong. I support the HG concept. I admire and respect your
dedication to a program that will honor fallen firefighters. My only
points, are these: 
1) The honor guard is a new program trying to gain agency support.
The kind of support you need for this program to survive and gain acceptance
will not occur if future demos do not adequately explain the HG vs. 
chaplain relationship.  You are the first HG member or they said contributor to do this.
2)The use of a the Chaplain function for the Reno demo was inappropriate
and should be reserved for funerals only where those services are
3) I believe that because of the level of pride (one of the
seven deadly sins) that you; other HG members; and HG supporters
demonstrate has blinded you from even seeing this as a potential

 You said in your post, Understand that when we are requested, we
don't  go in with our own agenda, we do what is asked. While you may
have no agenda, I suspect that others in the group do. I base this on HG
member responses to questions I asked in Reno. I was basically blown
off. They were either unwilling to discuss it in depth or unable to
recognize my concerns.

Whether the HG program is a good idea or not - it must do several things
if it's going to work.  The Honor Guard must Reevaluate it's marketing
strategy and make appropriate changes to better inform it's target group
about the HG and the Chaplain relationship. If denominational options
are available, the HG program needs do a better job to inform their
target group. This is especially true in the case of a demo such as the
one in Reno. Lastly, the Chaplain function should only be activated when

 While I seem to be alone on this forum, I assure you I am not. I have
served as witness to several side-bar conversations and received
numerous correspondence addressing the same concerns that I have. The
Honor Guard's worst enemy is not me however - it's themselves.


03/02 For all you trying to find jobs, many of the federal agencies (mine included - BLM) hire from the local job service center.  All you need to do is send
your application to the job service center in the town your interested in and indicate you are interest in wildland fire.  The addresses for many job
service centers can be found on the internet.  Remember on you application to be neat and include as much detail as possible about your work
experience...it all counts.
03/02 Ab, here's some right info for Terratorch and Helitorch People:

    Let's cut to the chase with gel, terra torch, and helitorch info.

    Fire Con Mfg is the primary manufacturer of the majority of terratorches in existence.  We have manufacturred the terra torch since
1986 according to BIFC standards.  We have ATV sized terratorches to as big as you want!  (We're working on a backpack model.)  If
your terra torch or batch mixer was purchased directly from Fire Con or Simplex it was made by Fire Con at Ontario, Oregon (45 minutes
from Boise).  Fire Con products are no longer distributed by Simplex. 

    Our terra torches and batch mixers meet and exceed all DOT/USFS requirements.  We offer retrofitting for preexisting units to get
legal.  Contact us directly at 541 889 8630 or firecon@micron.net.  Within a week you will also be able to access information and
technical support at www.terratorch.com and www.helitorch.com

    Fire Con has recently joined forces with Fire Spec Ltd, now our aerial ignition division and the manufacturer of the only DOT/USFS
approved helitorch and gel mixing system.  Our Spec 2000 helitorch and the Spec 2000 mobile modular mixing and transfer system have
been designed from the ground up in consultation with the most experienced agency personnel to meet and exceed requirements of the
Missoula Technical Development Center and USFS Helicopter Operations.  We have approved retrofit kits to get your existing helitorches

    This UN/DOT/OSHA/EPA/Agency stuff is a can of worms.  We have the solutions!

    We are fire people dedicated to serving you and your agency with highest quality equipment and supplies, service, training, and
technical guidance.  We are available 24 hours a day.

    There are a lot of misconceptions and errors being made with gel mixing, gel recipes, certain product use, and ignition operations.  We
have over twenty years of experience with the art and will share our expertise with you at any time.  Contact us with your questions!  We
have the answers (almost all learned at the school of hard knocks).

    We need to have safe, effective, doable operations to get the job done and make sure everyone comes home!

    If you have any ideas on new products or how we can improve equipment or operations please contact us.  We depend on you, the
user's in the field for the right kind of thinking.

    We will provide further information here at "They Said", stay tuned.


Don't worry folks, I haven't changed my policy on commercials.  I allowed this one through due to the high interest in the current thread.  Ab.

03/02 ab: we buy the surplus naplam from the army it has the best consistancy to work with all types of torches, you have different types of tips
you use either on the helitorch or terra you don't have the right consistancy you are just wasting fuel.
03/02 Hola Ab

Could you post the following for me.

I'm trying to locate a source for a resource locator that comes in a folder
size, plastic with card slots that takes a smaller sized tee card. These
were distributed at one time by a company called Gillotte(sp) somewhere in
the Southern U.S.

These folders had pins between the section to allow extra panels to be
added for tracking additional resources.

Any info would be appreciated

Bob Alvord

03/02 I'm trying to find a job on an engine crew this summer, the location doesn't matter. I've applied to a few places but haven't heard anything. I
have my red card and was on an "on call" type 2 crew. If you have any suggestions or comments that would be great.

OK, that's it!  This is REALLY the last "how do I get a job" message I'll post publicly.  I do this last one as a courtesy to the private contractors looking for employees.  If you are interested, I will create a template containing each contractors name/address/email/phone information and use it to respond to this type of message.  I can also forward the messages to each contractor if they wish.  If you desire this service, you must reply stating such (even though I may already have your business posted on the link page).  Ab.

03/01 clarification of torch procedures we use.   I wasnt clear enough.   First
about the Gelling agent turning hard.   I was refering to the winter storage
of the set up.  as in real long term.  it has been my experience with Aluma
gel  that it gels like it should,  then thins out,  then the whole mess will
evaporate precipitating the unspent powder.   That was with our older
system.  As it was not air tight.  I havent  left any residue in the new
system.  so i couldnt tell you on that one.  But, i know that it is
airtight.    AS for DOT and OSHA.  WA dot looked at ours.  said it met their
approval.  90 gal  was just under the 100 gallon bulk transport laws.  I
called OSHA to inspect ours.   they have yet to get back to me.

As for Diesel affecting volatility.  true it will reduce it.  But that is
what the gelling agent is supposed to do.  Diesel counteracts the gelling
agent  with gas.   The distributor of Sure Fire told me that.  I have also
experienced it in the field.  It is no big deal unless your trying to make a
tank last all day.  you just have to watch the mix, and add more powder as
necessary.   Also you have to mix according to temperature.  Watch out.
Mix in the morning, it will thin out by afternoon,   or thicken up into the

We have always used hot water  and a little soap to clean our system for
storage.  Ive had no problems so far.  never tried anything else though.
heres the number for our sure fire distributor.  He buys the 50 pound bags
and will repackage down to as small as 1 lb.  about 9.00 per pound at that
size.   or 50 lbs were about 284 last season.
remember this stuff is a desicant,  keep wrapped up, and away from free
moving air.  as it will cake up.  if i remember right it takes about 4-5 lbs
Sure fire to 50 gal fuel, at 60degrees.  less if its warmer.   his number is
800 321 1037  (gary) havent talked to him since last september  worked then.

Aluma Gel is no longer used.  It is to environmentally unfriendly.  Anyways,
thats about all i got to say about that   <<<<-----  forest gump imitation

eric PW

yes there is a Red carded position TTOP  terra torch operator

03/01 Hellitorch, I am a member of the Honor Guard.  I am a Christian as some of 
the members are, I couldn't tell you what religion the others are because the 
Honor Guard is not about religion.  We are about family, even though the FS 
at times seems to loose the "family" feeling that I and many others of us 
love about the FS, we are still family.  I am proud to be a part of this 
group.  I am honored each and every time we are able to assist family and 
friends in saying good bye to a loved one, or do a flag dedication in 100 
degree weather,  or stand at attention in front of the toughest group in the 
FS, Fire and Aviation Managers.  You need to understand that there are two 
separate groups trying to get their programs accepted.  The Honor Guard and 
the Chaplains.  Each of the groups have separate SOP's that are currently in 
draft form.  We (the Honor Guard), had our brochure and SOP's available at 
the workshop.  The workshop was the ultimate opportunity  to show what we are 
all about.  Understand that HG and the Chaplains work hand in hand when doing 
memorial services/dedications or funcitons where both groups are requested. 
When asked to do the workshop, we all worked together to get the presentation 
perfect.  The HG's function was to present the colors, the Chaplains function 
was the verbal presentations and the final call.  The chaplain that spoke, 
spoke from his heart.  His intentions were not to offend or convert anyone. 
Both the HG and Chaplains understand that there are a variety of religions 
out there and we are here to provide a service for all.  What we can't do, 
we'll find someone who can.  Understand that when we are requested, we don't 
go in with our own agenda, we do what is asked.  If you have any questions on 
the Chaplains and how they have assisted FS families in times of loss, 
contact FAM on the Angeles, Lassen or Stanislaus NF.    MissSZQ
03/01 We have purchased our surefire from a company in orland CA (I believe) they also made the terra torch we use. Not sure if they are still around
though as I havent had any contact with them for at least 2 years. I will try to double check post their name and contact info

to eric @ pacificrimwildfire: yes, I have found that too much diesel well make the thickening process take longer or you will need more surefire.
However I still add about 15% diesel to the mix on the theory that it helps keep the volitility of the mix down, dont know if it actually does that but that
what I was told by the manufacturer and I have never had any problems if I keep the percentage in the 15% range of the total mix.  Temperature will
also make a difference..the colder the longer it will take to thicken. 

The surprising item in your list though is the filling with water and dish soap to rinse and the surefire turning to a thick paste.  I have never had a
problem with this. I was told by the manufacturer and since proved to myself that if you have an air tight seal any residue gell in the tank and lines
turns back to liquid in a few days.  Also that any moisture in the system causes havoc with the thickening process. Again the manufacturer advised
me to always flush the system with a little fuel prior to use  after a long period of the unit sitting. Again I have found this to be true.  When I do not
flush,  just the bit of condensation or moisture in the tank makes it difficult to get it to gel.  The same problem goes with trying to use old mixed fuel
(chainsaw or portable pump fuel) same problem, it wont gell worh a damn.  One problem I have had is when trying to add more gel after you have
already added you initial amount...BIG PROBLEMS! as the added powder just clumps up in balls with a gooey exterior and a dry center. What a pain! 
You can easily add more fuel if it is too thick, but I have found it difficult to try to add more powder to make it thicker. 

03/01 Firehorse:  thanks for the input.  I'm no longer a fs employee. im now in the private sector.  where can I get this info now?
thanks   Mike:)

who is the mfg of sure fire?

03/01 RE: terratorch info, problems have been found in recent assessments of
aerial/ground ignition systems and fuel transport/container systems.
None of the ground firing systems that were assessed met all of the OSHA
and DOT regulations. More info is on the USFS R5 fire page at www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire.
To Dudnick and other wannabes, check out the links there for fire jobs info.
-- kelly
03/01 Eric: I got your message and have emailed you, once again thanks for your help.  You too AB for doing all this for us.
03/01 For the person interested in the Tertaorch info:  If you are Forest Service, double check with your Forest Safety person on use of Alumagel
vs SureFire.  Alumagel was outlawed 2-3 years ago and the only approved gas thickener at that time was SureFire.


03/01 Notice:  The February message board has been archived here Feb-00.  The last week or so messages will be kept on this page for a while to continue the current threads.  Rather than have the Archives listings at the bottom of each "They Said" page (and trying to update them each month), there is now a separate page to access the old "they said" pages.  The main link to the archives will be at the top of this page immediately before the messages.  Thanks all who have contributed to this month's discussions, the quality and quantity of your posts are easily the best yet!
New logo from Cherryvale Fire on the Logo Page.  Ab.
03/01 for the firefighter looking for Terra Torch info.

We currently have three torches in our inventory.   The first is a 3 hp, gas
thing we bought used.  The other two were built last fall to do a prescribed
burn that lost funding.

After thousands invested researching, and building this is what we came up

Our ideal torch.  (what we built) 13 HP honda w/ electric start.   The best
tank to use is round as this facilitates the circulation of the gel.  I
fabricated three recirc valves, one top, one middle and one bottom.  All
angled at 60 degrees to swirl the gel, and to keep agitated.  All plumbing
is camlocked into place, with handles wired down to prevent accidental
opening  (pretty unlikely but cheap and easy to do).    We used an explosion
proof reel sold by grainger for the handling of fuel and flammables.    We
loaded the reel with 250'  7/8"  hose.   Here comes the part youll have to

    We used to use pressure washing gear as nozzles and triggers.  as this
is what came with our first one.  Problem is you cant get enough flow.  So
with a little research we went with Steam cleaning wands used to prep oil
tankers for repainting.   They have a minimum of 5/8"  waterway through the
valve.  they are also rated for high pressure 800+  (not that ill ever pump
aluma gel that high).    we then attached a self igniting low pressure
propane torch nozzle to the tip so the flame blows across the end at about
45 degrees.  Plumb a hard extension line so the little propane cylinder is
back by the handle.  and use the low pressure variety.  dont forget the
check valves!  important!!!   do it yourself and skid mount it  for about
4200 in parts new,   or buy from the fella in central OR  for about 14000.
same set up basically.  he uses a Briggs, and cheaper components

     Mix the Aluma gel, or Sure Fire  by the factorys recommendations.  We
installed an explosion proof (sparkless) air motor with a mixing paddle
permanently installed inside the tank.  hit this to mix it first, then the
recirc lines can do the rest.  Dont try to mix it like drip torch fuel.  Use
straight gas.  The diesel will cause clumps that mess everything up.  Our
friends at Santa Barbara County told me that.  I tried it my way, and
although it works,  it is inconsistent.  give it time to gel.   When done
fill completely with water and a little dish soap.  Let it recirc for ten
minutes, to rinse all the lines out.   fill with plain water and drain
again.  dont do this, and youll se why we put camlocks  on the joints!
Aluma gel, and Sure fire turns to hard dried toothpaste  like stuff, that
eats everything and plugs lines like clay.

As for operation practice before your needed.  be confident and be aware of
what your doing.    The above torch at max pressure  will shoot a flame a
little over a 110 feet.  pretty impressive.   unfortunately ive only put
about 5 hours on this one.  (for sale by the way)  email  me and ill
fax/mail you our design.  and the research i dug up.

later and have a good one
pacific wildfire.com
pacificrimwildfire@email.msn.com    Long one huh?

03/01 To Dana Linscott,
    Dana sounds like your organization is doing good work, have you
looked into what the FWFSA is doing? Have a look at the web site (see
Links page) and maybe make contact.
The Association has strong support in Washington from the Senate and
House as well as the IAFF.
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