APRIL 2000


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04/30 WP   was wondering if that picture was taken at the Easton Complex.   I swear
it looks like the hills above the easton airstrip.
    (sidenote)  when they ordered my engines,   they told me its rough
country,   "better bring the four wheel drives"

    when we got to the top of the mountain.  The fallers arrived in a Geo
Metro!  four big guys,   with saws, and all of their gear.   They said they
had to climb a couple hills full throttle in reverse to keep traction.

and have a good one.




04/30 Have added Dave's pics to a new photo page, Fire3.  There is also a new pic on the Engine2 page and a new logo on the Logo2 page.  And a new vendor on the Links page "jobs" section for A1FireOut.  Ab.
04/29 Here's some pics of the Coon Creek fire that I got from a buddy over there. Pretty nasty looking convection column. 
Later, Dave
04/29 Hello all!  Wandering if any one had suggestions on what to pack for,
hopefully, my first trip out west.  Also a site you might want to look at
or add to your links www.dfr.state.nc.us  This is the North Carolina Forest
Service homepage.  Thanks David
04/29 Hey Guy's!!

Coon @ss (Creek) fire is still go'in strong. 4 heavy's trying their best to 
lay retardant on the ridge lines in attemps to box this bugger, but due to a 
moderate cold front coming through the area, fire just changed directions 
and is headed for the Fort Apache Reservation. As far I know, the two most 
threatened pieces of property, Aztec LO and Murphy Ranch, has been saved, 
for now anyway. Tonto Forest Sup has restricted access to the fire area to 
the general population. Most of the hand crews were pulled off the line due 
to extremly extreme (if that is anyway possible) fire behavior!!

We were again red flagged yesterday, and an additional fire weather watch 
posted today. Not so blasted hot as the last couple of days. I can't believe 
we have already hit over 100* this year. We simply don't get temps that high 
until the middle or latter part of May. '96 during the Lone fire (April 28 
1996), we only saw temps in the low to mid 90's.

Conducting basic wildland firefighting down in Black Cayon City with the 
guy's and gal's of the BCCFD this weekend and next. Did a small training 
fire, about an 1/8 of an acre, 1000 hr fuels burned down to white ash with 
15 minutes, OUCH!!!!! Now, I've been doing this firefighting stuff for a 
while, and seeing that right there scares the hell out of me!!

Most of our resources (federal) are committed to the Coon. State resources 
are being requested out as I write, so those of you out there in other 
regions who may be deplyed to AZ, please be careful and stay well hydrated. 
I hope to see some of you out there and finally get to meet!!

MOC4546 and Kell, thanks for the info on the type 3 engine. Unfortunately, 
it doesn't appear that I will have anytime to pursue a T-3 engine until 
after the fire season.

See ya' on the line!!

Trailblazer Tim

04/29 Updates on the Coon Creek Fire on the Tonto, courtesy of Webgoddess News
Search ®





(nice Sikorsky shot and a map)

(good video here,including shots of plumes, tanker drop, and TV archived shots of the Lone Fire)

(okay, webgoddess-in-training, how's THAT for an example of how NOT to construct an URL???) 


(satellite shot of smoke, tanker drops, retardant story, and OUTSTANDING photos!)

(more airtankers than you can shake a stick at)

04/29         Hang tough Mellie! As a Wildfire Behavior Specialist from Canada I
know you are right. People shouldn't be in places where they have to deploy
fire shelters. It's fine to be aggressive on fires that cool enough to work
on but there comes a time when you have to disengage. People have to realize
that safety is an attitude not a bunch of rules and equipment. I am saddened
to see that the attitudes of so many people is still so mucho. It's great to
have a "can do" attitude but have enough knowledge and common sense to know
when it's going to get you killed. If Leaders on the fire line are asking
you to do something that goes against your better judgement or is beyond
your realm of experience then you better be assertive enough to start asking
some HARD questions and make sure you get real answers. Don't let them
discourage you Mellie your on the right track!! 
04/29 To PH:

There is a very good video on SC from ABC on their "Turning Point" program aired not too long after SC.  It was titled "Inferno on Storm King
Mountain".  Contact your local ABC affiliate for address in New York to obtain a copy.

To Hunter 45:

Reference your last "Just one more time":  I had a fire up the upper ends of the West Fork Rapid river in '94 that cam close to meeting your
needs.  Trail ran thru the meadow with above the trail being in a wilderness and the below the trail out of the wilderness.  Food was brought
in each day by FS packstring and prepared by a fella and his family over some kind of natural gas powered cook stove.  Each night was an
experience.  100+ people sitting in this meadow eating chow and watching the sunset on the other side of the valley.  Evenings the noise
was stopped early (We Division Sups were the camp Mayors and had a little more latitude to make and enforce "Spike Camp" rules. 

Definately one of the top five fires in my 30 years.



um, gee, after THAT one, what can I say?

She apparently did get some precip in her neck of the woods, but here in
R3 it's been the same old boring sun, day after day after day after day. 

For those of you wondering if the Melliegal is really as cool as you
think, the answer is yes.

She was not foolin' around when she said she took a little break from
FF1 -- she took a break and then some. She can play R&R better than I
can. We did indeed "pop in" on AZ TRAILBLAZER and he was one busy boy,
but I have to differ with her on the word "gullible." SHE IS the one who
thinks it ain't in the dictionary, just ask her kids!

This morning when I took her to the airport,
we accidentally caught a flash on the news about a fire on the Tonto.
Putting up a pretty good pile of smoke, it was, and I heard on the radio
on the way back home that it had about 500 personnel on it, along with
tankers, helicopters, and a pile of other resources. (The weird part was
that I was gonna drive, the "long scenic way" to Phoenix and we'd
have gone the Payson way, and we'd probably still be there, instead of
successfully getting her on the plane to SFO.) heh heh

Oh, and just by the way and stuff, when Mellie talks about shenenigans,
I haven't the faintest foggiest notion what she is talking about.

So there.


04/28 just wanted to say thanks for the site!  just got back from 2 days of goldmining with a ex hotshot.  we worked the same fire together in 85 when he was
on the Fulton.  Its really nice you talk to someone and realise that you know each other.  be safe.
Hey, Tim!  I really hate to burst your bubble, but I think that you and everyone who 
is in Region 5 should know how the State of California Dept. of Forestry and Fire 
Protection gets rid of surplus engines. 

When replecements are sent to the Ranger Units around the state, each Unit does a Fleet 
Evaluation. Right now, the CDF Models # 1, 9, 10, 12, 11, and 5 are in the process of being 
phased out, with the gasoline engines being removed first. Almost all of the gasoline 
engines have been removed from active, reserve, or training service. When a new engine is 
set to the Unit the Admin. Chief and the Fleet Manager decide which engine goes to 
reserve, and which reserve engine either goes to a conservation camp, or to the Davis, CA, 
CDF Fleet Center for redistribution into the State System (i.e., State Parks, Prisons, etc.)
or for release to other agencies.

If no other state agency shows an interest in a particular engine type, then it goes on a list
for disposal from State Service. Now the engines are stored in a secured area for six
months to as long as two years until a large enough group is made up to form a list. From 
this list CDF lists the year, make, engine model, engine type (gas or diesel), pump size, 
overall condition (very good, good, fair, poor, very poor, unserviceable), and if a specific 
problem exists, and what cost the CDF places and expects for that engine.

Local government fire agencies from around the State of California place their names on the 
surplus equipment list, and when a list is formed it is sent out to the Ranger Units to be 
passed onto the local govt. and volunteer fire departments within that ranger unit. When a 
fire agency looks over the list and finds something they are needing they fill out a form
giving out there agency budget, number of incidents, manpower, and the current age and 
condition of their fire apparatus, along with one to three choices from the list from first 
choice to last choice. The State evaluates this list of applicants based on who has the 
greatest needs, the oldest equipment, thier budget, and other minor factors.

Say you have two fire departments competing for a 4WD Model #5. One agency has a 
1965 structure engine, and another has a 1985 structure engine, there area size and 
budget are about the same. The department with the older engine, or the fewer number
of engines, will probably be awarded the Model # 5.
The state sets a price on what they want 
for each surplused engine which can run from $5000.00 to up to $15,000.00. One 
department cannot outbid another for an engine, in that it is awarded based on need. My 
volunteer company eight years ago was bidding on the old Model # 5 that was at our area's
CDF Station, and we are in a CDFContract county where CDF runs the County FD. We 
were primed to get the engine based on our equipment inventory, budget, response rates, 
area needs, and support from the Ranger Unit. Just before we were going final selection, 
the county government announced the purchase of  2 new engines per year, with one going
to a paid station and the other to a volunteer. We were slated to receive the second new 
volunteer engine, and when that announcement was made it sent us from the top of the list
right down to the very bottom. The next department asking for that specific engine recieved 

The CDF Ranger Unit also aids the local department they are located in for evaluation
sometimes as to where the surplus engine can aid in there State Responsibility Area 
(SRA) in that a department within an SRA sometimes may be given a higher priority over a
department outside the SRA. The only time that an engine is purchased at a surplus sale
by a member of the public is when the engine is totaled in an accedent. This month a 1989
International Model # 5 that had been rolled over and had been gutted for every valuable part
was sold to the public, and the only thing of value on the truck was the front and rear axles.

But don't give up hope. When the local government fire agencies are done with the old CDF
engine they can dispose of it how they see fit. Unlike federal excess property that has to
be returned to the government after is use, the local dept. ownes the engine outright. The
average life of a CDF engine sold to a local government is another 10 to 15 years once it 
leaves state service, but the condition of it varies.

For those of you interested, there was a 1972 CDF International Model # 9 that is being 
sold by the Garden Valley FD in El Dorado County (California) through the Fire Trader 
Magazine. Check there website or there most recent issue.


04/28 To FOBSIF (Feisty Old Broad Still In Fire), 

who said  "Just one more time I'd like to work with firefighters I respect, 
before they retire..."

You know FOBSIF, I feel you are in that same class of firefighters.  I am 
sure that there are many in your circle of friends that would be proud to say 
they have worked fire along side you over the past several years.

You are going to get the chance to work some fire sooner than you think.  I 
just returned from a camping / hiking / biking trip in central AZ (Prescott 
NF).  I was up on Granite Mountain on Tuesday and saw the lizards doing their 
pushups on the shady side of the rocks that day.  The whole west is hot and 
dry very early this year.

Just one more time . . .  I want to work a spike camp operation on a high 
mountain somewhere in Montana where the camp is supported by pack train and 
the morning and evening chow is cooked on an open fire by an outfitter.  That 
is Wildland Firefighting!

Hunter '45

04/28 For those trying to find friends, try this. 


Works if you know their last name! <nodding head>

04/27 Ab,
Well Texas has several fires going in West texas at this time. There
were about 20 lightning fires in the Davis Mountains, and there is a
fire coming onto the Big Bend NP from across the border.

We have sent some misc. overhead to Big Bend from USF&WS, a couple of
engines to Florida, and a helibase manager to Michigan. Also was told
R-3 had al their air tankers committed on the Tonto NF.

Pack your bags. I think we are officialy off to the races for this year.


04/27 Hi Curtis!!  Great to see that you're alive and kicking, but most 
importantly, not lurking.  Thanks for the kind words, the feeling is mutual. 
 I looked for your Lotus address today when I had a few minutes but couldn't 
find it.  Are you still FS?  I'll look a little harder tomorrow.  Don't 
worry, we'll hook up.  Till then, take care.


Ab, you can delete this part.  Hope this is ok with you to post.  I haven't 
had much time lately to do anything but work and I wanted to let Curt know 
I'd seen his message.  Soon as we get connected we'll get out of your hair 
with this kind of stuff.   Thanks, Tom

I'll leave the last part in Tom, just to let folks know I don't mind passing along message/address requests to help bring old/lost firefighter friends back together.  Since this site is non-profit and public service oriented, it just seems fitt'in.  Don't worry though, I NEVER release email address or any other info without the owner's written permission.  Ab.

04/27 Mellie, Thanks a lot for not taking CDF guy at his/her word. Keep posting, keep asking questions. I know I ask too many myself. I know you and
everyone who reads will learn from it. adftr
04/27 Lo ab.    Drove from seattle to Winnemucca last week.   Had some engines

from what I saw,   the plains from Yakima through to Ontario are pretty dry.
As is the desert in northern Nevada.   Saw an engine I fell in love with,
It was Nevada Forestry' freightliner FL70 type 4X   engine.   Incredible!
cost a couple huindred grand im sure but looked tough as nails.

If any one has access to this rig please get some pics, so We can copy the
body.  and build one of our own.  Ill pay for the pics, and dimensions!!!!!!

Good to see mellie wasnt run off.  I enjoy your emails mellie.

Catch you all later,   and be safe

Pacific Wildfire

04/27 I'm trying to locate any video of the Storm King Mountain, Colorado
fire.  If there is a documentary type video that would be even better.
Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks, PH

04/27 Ok, for the latest on R-3,

Lots 'O' activity to report. Past 24 hours reporting 11 fires with a total 
of 1600+ acres.

Just out my station door I can see  the Coon Creek Fire on the Tonto 
National Forest, which just went to a Plumn Dominated state as I write this. 
Tanker 00 on their way to Chico (Areo Union) for a quick maintenance 
somthing or other. I haven't seen this kind of fire behavior since 1996 on 
the Lone Fire.

So the question is; is R-3 going to have another season like '96?

In my honest opinion, most likely. If we continue to get a little moisture 
every other week, we probably wont be too busy, but as reported by Mellie, 
when her and Kelly made an unannounced, but well recieved visit, to my fire 
district (thanks for the hug Mellie!! :~) the local fuels here in NOrthern 
AZ are VERY primed and ready.

Our Trucks are up and ready, well manned, and currently on high alert 
(standby) for Eastern Yavapai County. We have had 3 red flag days in the 
last 2 weeks (low RH and SW winds) and seems we have a fire weather watch at 
least once a week now. Half of our local FS resources have been deployed, 
and our local type 2 overhead team is gone! I LOVE IT!!

Hey, question for the group. Our edeavors to purchase a type 3 engine fell 
through by way of our fire borad, due to the fact that I was only able to 
find one from the north east, and of course there were concerns about the 
potential rust. Can anyone out there direct me to the folks who auction off 
or sell used type 2 or 3 engines. I know CDF auctions some of there engines, 
but No one here knows who to contact. PLEASE, I need help!! Stay safe!!

AZ Trailblazer (the other Tim)

04/27 Ab, Mellie, AZ Trailblazer, Kelly, and et all...

Ab, thanks for keeping me from shooting myself in the foot all this time. I owe ya...several times over...

All right, first to all:

Those who were concerned the pup had thrown in the towel.. don't be.. that's my strong melodramatic side.. call it the gift of the Leo or
something, but I can be dramatic.. too bad I dislike theatrics. So, I'll still be here plodding along for the one year and two months left in high
school, working on writing and reporting, and getting into better hiking shape for a 50 mile mountain trek my troop is taking next year.
Thanks to all who helped and were supportive of the peice posted here. To those curious.. that IS the final form. If I change it I'd have to
re-write it all. I'm proud the way it is.. instructor's merking down or not.

First to Mellie...

I warned you bout picking on AZ didn't I? You have too much of a conscience or something like that.
Now you two kids kiss and make up.. (oh my...I sound like my mother! AGGGGH)

AZ 'Tim' Trailblazer.. I hope the two girly ladies didn't leave you with too many answers to too few questions. (Bonus point if you figure out
what that means!)

Kelly, I'm ignoring grammer in postings once again thanks to your enlongated lessons. Sorry for being dense in some regards...and denser
in others.. Who said being headstrong was a bad trait? Not I, and definitely not you.

All right, well I'm looking at more rain up here in the Washignton... well on this side of the mountains. We had some T-storms roll through
the Cascades last night, but I don't think anything was set off...

Take care all, and have a safe season.

Tiny, the R-6 Fire Pup 

04/26     How's this fire season look. The reason I'm asking is that my nephew 
wanted to know where would be his best chances of traveling and getting some 
good O.T.  He's been doing it about 5 years. Mid 20's.  Kind of a mercenary. 
Hard worker. Good head on his shoulders. 
   Which hotshot crew has the best chance of getting in on any early season 
action in the southwest?
   While I'm on the subject, Does region 3 look like it will burn as much as 
96? Because it was a lot of fun then.
04/26 Hi All, Hi Abercrombie!

Great to hear from you Curtis. Not too hard to post, is it? Please toss in your $2
worth. I'd certainly appreciate it. Hope your forest is not too dry. Those others who
lurk, we'd like to hear from you, too! It's easy and your identity stays as secret as
you want! 

We got some rain in my neck of the northern CA woods so maybe I'll get a chunk of
work done next week after all. Not quite ready for summer fire. 

R5 Engine Captain, welcome back! <hug> I thought maybe you were gone forever. You
haven't written in a while and I've missed ya!

This week, I've been having a little break from FF1 and my usual location and
activities. Got together with Kelly and another friend and we headed here to Arizona
on vacation. We popped in on Trailblazer Tim on the way to Prescott yesterday. Kelly
had been holding out on me about knowing Tim! <she's a brat!!!> We got it in our
heads that she should introduce me as her Cousin Rita. Just about the time Tim
figured out who I really was and had a hug, he had to run off to answer a call for
medical aid to Black Canyon City. (Oh well, and you seemed like you'd be such a good
hugger, too.) Tim, Tim, Tim I tried to visit as you said I should!!! I know ya still
think Kel is joshing you, especially after we introduced our guy friend as AB, but
I'm for real! Kelly's for real. Uhuoh, too many shenanigans! <big grin> Kelly says
shenanigans NOT, just natural consequences of finding someone so gullible as you.
(FYI, I am equally as gullible!)

It's really dry here in Region 3: fuel moistures around Prescott are between 60-70%
and chaparrel burns readily at anything below 80%. Serious wildland/urgan interface
problems! Today it was about 90 in the shade. Warmin' up!!! Hope folks out here stay

Hope ya'll are all having a good spring! Thanks for being part of my family!


04/26 Well, here goes...long time "lurker" first time emailer.  What a great
site & forum!  Especially in these trying times. Gives all of us a
"pressure relief" area if that is what is needed....first things first:

Your response to Tiny on 4/12 is a reminder of why I admired you and
considered you a true friend during our TFM days.  Sorry we have lost
contact since then.  I am back in R5 now and would like to hear from
you...look me up on the Lotus Notes data base to get my number( I will
do the same).  I have a picture of you, me and Eric after our final
presentation in Portland that is worth 10,000 words!  Hope to hear from

You are another person I admire just from your postings and enthusiasm
you bring to the forum.  As a member of the committee that put together
the DC workshop in Reno, you created quite a stir when it was discovered
a "private citizen" was attending the workshop and not only that but
sitting in the front row and taking notes! Oh My God...what will we
do???  What group is going to slam us now?  Only if ALL the attendees
were as enthusiastic!  I have 28 years, 3 regions & 4 forests behind me
and maybe 4 more years in front, and your level of enthusiasm is what I
hope for in myself and my fellow firefighters.  Keep on asking the
questions, tough & easy and provide the answers when you have them.

AB & et al,
ditto and great forum.  Thank you for your efforts.  Now that I am not a
"TheySaid" virgin any more, I will try to throw my 2 cents worth in once
in awhile. Curtis

04/26 I guess that I have been away from the site for way too long . . .
Thanks AB for the posts, its the most interesting reading I've gotten in a bit, (getting and giving training).
I for one appreciate those who can express thier passion for this business, some times mine clouds mine eyes. Especially when giving
a presentation on fatalities, or extolling the virtues of look up look down look around and LCES (or LACES, I luv that concept), and
of course the understandable feeling I have for the successfull Initial Attack!

To Mellie: remember the one thing I tell all of the folks I give fire training to . . . " There is no such thing as a dumb question, the
only dumb thing is having a question and not getting an answer."

To cdf engine guy: <snip> Idle back a bit may be appropriate but keep your mouth
shut?? Enthusiasm is the thing there guy and all of the folks that have admitted it are ringing true. I was, still am, but with the
reservation gained through many years of experience. I never, ever squelch questions, put them off for a bit if the situation
warrants but never squelch 'em. If thats the environment you work in then you need to take a second look at YOUR situation.

Well off of my soapbox for now.
Its prescribed burn season, WCT's, training and preseason readiness. Thank you god for the rains, its way to early to go for fire
camp and 14 day assignments!
You All be safe!
I'm going to try to keep up a bit more so's I'm not so late in posting. And hopefully get some good pics in soon too!

R5 Firecapt

04/25 We are a company that offers wild land firefighting gear such as line packs,
and chest packs.  We would like to be added to your list of links. You can
link us at www.thielsen.net.

Thank You
Thielsen Outdoor Gear

04/24 Tony,  I heard you may be back in the greens come the first week of May.  Its about time!  Take it
easy on those young-uns going up the hills.
04/24 I've really enjoyed the recent discussions on fire training, instructor 
quality, women in the fire service, and fostering the enthusiasm that new 
folks bring to our business.

The Angeles NF just completed their sixth Wildland Fire Explorer Academy, 
which ended with an awesome graduation April 16th.  The graduating class
included 33 young men and 1 woman, whose ages ranged from 16-22 years of age. 
 The lone female kicked ass, and dusted many of the guys in the class.  She's 
a petite, highly enthusiastic person, who loves this work.  She was voted 
"most inspirational" for this graduating class.

The academy provides 96 hours of classroom and practical training.  Two of 
the most heavily emphasized courses are S-190 and S-130.  These two courses 
are FUNDAMENTALS they must learn in order to understand this business.

The classroom time is really a struggle for them, especially the "cold 
fronts" part of S-190 (or what WP called wind shifts).  But, we make sure 
they get to apply the principles in the field, and they grasp it right away 
after that.  We can't simulate the wind shifts though.

I love working with these young people.  They want a job--ANY JOB--in the 
fire service.  Their enthusiasm is contagious.  It reminds me of why I work 
for this outfit (FS).  Altho, I was taken aback a little when I first talked 
about when I began my FS career in 1978, and they all whisper, "I wasn't even 
BORN yet!"   Now I just laugh with them and remind them that the alternative 
to being "this old" is being "dead".  I'm perfectly happy being "this old".

One of my favorite stories to tell these folks is about my first job as a 
temp on an engine (back then it was a Model 51).  Since I was the first woman 
on that module, I was always given the job to "scrub hose".  I noticed that 
none of the guys ever had to scrub hose, so I questioned it.  I was told 
that's all women knew how to do (it was like scrubbing floors), so that was 
my job.  My response was, "since guys don't know how to do it, they need the 
practice..."  I eventually got reassigned to the hot shot crew.  I think they
wanted to scare me off.  But I carried my own weight (and them some, being a 
woman and a member of one of those "underrepresented groups").

I want to thank MTWO for his/her comment on women in the fire service.  I got 
my job before the whole "consent decree" action.  Bernardi had already filed 
her EEO complaint that eventually resulted in the class complaint.  It took 
10 years to deal with that initial complaint (complaint filed in 1971--CD 
implemented in 1981).  Nobody ever questions if the reasons for going into 
the class complaint were valid.  They just focus on how badly the Forest 
Service implemented the damn thing.

Bernardi's complaint would have stayed limited to her IF those problems were 
limited to her experience.  But they weren't.  Bernardi's complaint was about 
TRAINING, and how she kept training new guys and they got promoted while she 
kept getting passed over for promotions.  It became a class complaint because 
it wasn't just happening to Bernardi.

Fudgie's talk about how he was able to hire the Lizzy Lake engine foreman job 
many moons ago happened all the time.  No one ever questioned that.  Why?

Stop and think about someone in your past who was a good firefighter and 
someone who was not.  Unfortunately, minorities and women represent their 
"group".  When one fails, they are held up as an example about how "they" 
can't do that work.  When a non-minority male fails, he's just a bad 
firefighter/employee.   Everybody knows good and bad firefighters.  How do 
you react to them?

I'm going to quote a veteran firefighter friend of mine.  He says, "Some 
people have 20 years of experience.  Some peope have 1 year of experience 
they repeat over 20 years..."  This is so true.

I'm still in fire, although the FS pays me to do another job until the fire 
bell rings.  I love my work.  Wildland fire IS ADDICTIVE, I have no doubt 
about that.  I think my adrenalin will always go up when there is a red flag 
alert, smoke on the horizon, or the fire bell rings, no matter how old I get!

Just one more time I'd like to work with firefighters I respect before they 
retire...  That's real soon for some of my best fire buddies.

FOBSIF (Feisty Old Broad Still In Fire)

04/24 Yet Another Tim--I read your post last night while I was late-night
lurking, and it sounds amazingly and exactly like a story I heard coming
from a state near you.  Either we know some of the same people, or this
happens way more than it should.  I'm hoping it's the first.  You're right
about the solution--to be heads up and to try to be a good leader- I hope I
can fit the bill.  It's ironic though that the hand-up that some agencies
seem to give women & minorities, sometimes fortunately and sometimes not,
has often put them in the very position were they were before--having to
prove themselves all the time and work twice as hard.  I knew it going in,
though, and I think it forces me to try to do an excellent job when I know
everyone's watching.  Some people, I think, could use that extra bit of
pressure.  Can't say I always succeed, but you have to learn somewhere, and
you don't improve unless you get out there.
MTWO--great to hear the CDF story as well.  I've not heard the history of
how these things happened in other agencies.  It's good to see that some
folks do realize it's the agencies who are to blame for "IT" and not the
women themselves.  I for one would much rather be hired because I've worked
worked hard in fire and have accumulated enormous student loan debts (and
knowledge, of course... I hope...) to get where I am now, but I can't say
that I wasn't once hired as the token female.  Can't say that's a good
environment to be in either, by any means.
Mellie--you can bet I'm not changing the accursed thesis at this point, but
it would be a great study for someone, especially in studying education or
training.  Personally, I think NWCG could use a few more of these folks on
their teams of people who plan/write fire training courses.  Some of them
could use a little improvement, and maybe then it wouldn't be so hard to
learn about wind shifts associated with a frontal passage.  The more I
study fire, the more I see opportunities for research outside of just the
fire behaviour stuff.  Seems to be studying the wildland fire community
would be a lot more interesting than a lot of the other "stuff" you see
coming out of universities.  I'm biased, of course.  My thesis is on
"completeness" (working on a better word) of fire incident reporting in the
media, focusing on an urban interface area.  The idea is that humans'
involvement with and impact on huge fire "disasters" isn't acknowledged,
and people won't stop doing silly things in the urban interface, etc. until
the problem is acknowledged.  Sort of.  It's mostly to see what makes the
news (running crown fires, people's houses burning down) vs. what doesn't
(the house next door that didn't burn down, surface fire that's not so
exciting, etc.).  I'll let y'all know how it turns out if and when it ever
gets done.  Looks like it's going to at least be spread out over another
fire season at least. 
04/23 hey ab .. do you know of a list of foam that has been baned by the feds . 
they say some of it is toxice.. thanks steven

I'm not too current on the subject, but know that Firetrol was recently placed back on the ok list after a suspension.  You can find more information here:  http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/news.shtml along with a couple other links on the subject.  Ab.

04/23  Ab

    First and foremost I would like to thank you for this site!  It's a must read for me every time I get online, right behind the sitreport.  I've
been lurking for quite a while, and have finally decided to jump in with a comment or two.  The recent postings dealing with aggressive
firefighting vs safe firefighting have really touched a nerve with me.  Let me first state that I always try to keep safety in the front of my mind,
on every assignment, fire or not, and I feel that as a firefighter and a leader, safety is the number one priority for me.  Let me also say that I
believe every federal and state agency has done a very good job training firefighters to be safe.  But have they done too good a job?  Has
the emphasis on safety downplayed the importance of aggressiveness, especially in initial attack?  Sadly I'd have to say yes.  A few
examples will highlight my reasoning.  While assisting another agency in my local area, I've witnessed IC's decide that a fire burning at
0200 in light pine litter with 1 foot flame lengths was "too hot".  I've seen the same agency refuse to allow firefighters to IA a fire
approximately 1/2 mile easy walking from a road because the terrain was "too steep and dangerous to attempt to walk in at night".   In
Texas a couple years ago I watched in angry amazement as 2 engine bosses from my strike team argued that the safest way to deal with
a spot fire that had jumped the line was to leave the black, drive acrosss the draw and watch the fire.  It should be noted that we would have
had 100 yards of flash fuels in between us and the fire.  I'll stop there, although I could fill a book with stories like that.  Of course, I could
also fill a book with stories of overly aggressive firefighters almost getting burned by totally disregarding safety.  What I'm saying is the
same thing BW said,  "Aggressive attack and safety can both be accomodated ."  But, aggressiveness has to be emphasized along with
safety.  Aggressive initial attack keeps fires small,  and a small fire smoldering at night is much safer than the same fire the next afternoon
at 100+ acres and rolling.  Just thought I'd throw in my two cents worth and maybe roil the waters a little bit.  :) 


04/23 Mellie,be like a sponge,absorb everything good and bad,and then separate the good from the bad, always ask questions, one day it might
save your life and the life of your fellow firefighters.You will find out through out your fire career that you will never have all the answers for
situations that come up on the fire line,keep your head up and be positive.Roady
04/23 hey all!  its been raining like hell here so there wont be too much action 
any time soon. i wish there was a structural site like this. anyways, i have 
been trying to get hired by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. since i am 
37, the opportunities are getting slim. it doesn't look good. it seems that i 
don't have " friends" in high places! so too the people who are looking for 
work in this business, don't give up! the jobs are out there if you look hard 
enough. i wish i lived out west where the opportunities are. do it while you 
are young! i am no old fart but it gets real hard once you get past 35.
    i am looking forward to stand side by side fighting fire with you folks 
from the west.

  BC Davis

04/22 MTWO,
Trust me, your blasting of my posting did not keep me off line. I have been 
hammered by some pretty salty old dogs in person for my opinionated 
expressions. A little lambasting by an anonymous, cyberspace individual or 
two or three is not going to dent the crusty old shell! On the contrary, I 
would hope that you continue to express your opinion both in this forum and 
to anyone with whom you disagree in person!! No apologies are 
needed........Tony @SBA
04/22 Dear Rochelle,

Glad to hear of your decision to continue both with your degree program and
with fire. I was very interested to hear of your observations regarding S-190
and S-130 taken by Job Corp and agency personnel, and the impact of experiences
and learning styles on an individual's ability to learn the material. Have you
considered doing your thesis on these kinds of questions? Elucidation of learning
processes in a person's acquisition of this kind of information could be a great
contribution to the fire services. As our current fire force retires, it will
be more and more important for individuals, even at the entry level, to know
about fire behavior and how to stay safe while fighting fire aggressively. We
need fire folk such as yourself who are interested in studying these issues
so that such courses can be taught more effectively. 

I've left my e-mail address with Abercrombie and asked him to forward any response
you might have to my post. Perhaps we could talk about this if you're interested.


04/22 Tiny Loved what yu wrote.  Keep going,  I'd love to read the finished product.
04/22 mellie,
      keep on asking the hard question! its the way you learn. i have pissed 
people before by asking questions that seem to go against the grain. it seems 
that you are catching some flack but if you don't ask, how will you know? it 
seems that every agency adds a twist to the federal standards. get use to it! 
 to those folks who got pissed my her questions- lighten up! I am sure you 
all have asked things that seem outlandish. you know what they say about 
                  BC Davis
04/22 Just like to say thanks to the Jumpers out of Boise for taking time to help 
with training, Larry & Carrie in prescribed fire in the Grand Canyon.

Ed Van Steinburg
Harpers Ferry National Park Service.

04/22 Rochelle,  my experience with women in fire includes both kick-butt firefighters and severely dangerous individuals.  One supervisor
was expedited through the system with virtually zero fire experience, put in charge of a strictly operational crew, and nearly killed us
on three separate occasions.  We could only count on seeing her backside going to "patrol" the dead black every time a tree torched. 
No exaggeration.  Since she was both a woman AND minority (excuse me, I meant person of an under-represented ethnicity) she
was untouchable.  Regardless of the crew complaints, documented safety violations, and poor performance evaluations, she could not
be removed.  I'm not sure what became of that situation, I left that sinking ship like any good rat.
I've been pushed to hire diversity candidates over some better qualified white guys.  Some folks see seasonal firefighters as a
convenient method to increase quotas for the rest of the agency.  Also been told "don't bother applying for that
position/training/program" because I happen to be in possession of a penis.  I'm really not bitter (just sound that way), and try to give
everyone a fair shake on the fireline. 
I'm not alone in these experiences, and it means a woman who's an average firefighter isn't always taken as seriously as her male
counterparts.  A woman who's an outstanding firefighter will go far, but many will question the reasons for her advancement.  One of
my fellow engine crew leaders (that's what we call a Captain in the desert wastelands of Utah) is an excellent firefighter, but I see her
fight the "I know how YOU made it here" battle constantly!
I dont' mean to be discouraging, sounds like you've made the best possible life decision.  I think the best way to combat the male
attitude backlash of these rapid advancement programs is to be a heads-up firefighter and admirable leader.  I'm also moving back to
CA next month, hope to see ya'll.

Mellie,  the response by CDF engine guy is, unfortunately, also quite common in the feds.  Particularly among the third and fourth year
folks.  I can appreciate your enthusiasm, since we require fresh eyes to take a hard look at our programs.  When I first turned to the
dark side of the force, a forester from NM explained that bureaucracies can only change significantly from the outside.  The people in
positions to make changes are so firmly entrenched that they have the most to lose.  Pretty wise for a tree painter.

AZ Trailblazer,  our area warden from Utah State Lands and Forestry told me they will also be following the fourteen day rule,
primarily because the people he sends out are usually married to federal resources on crews or strike teams.  Don't know yet about
the Flame-N-Gos or contractors.  And, yes, I also believe this new policy sucks crap of the dog.

Tiny,  me farfighter and don't wryte too goodly.  Many sorries.

Yet another Tim

04/22 CDF Trainer,
In regards to the"falling" issue in your post to Mellie...Last week myself 
and another FS Faller from the Los Padres NF had the pleasure and honor of 
being invited to help instruct CDF's version of S-212 on the SLO Ranger Unit. 
The CDF instructors who put on the class are highly competent fallers as well 
as firefighters. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the instructors, the way the class was presented and the 
students who were very attentive and willing to learn. I would hope this type 
of interaction between the agencies continues as it fosters good will and 
interagency cooperation where it is needed most...on the fireground!

Tony @ SBA

04/22 Wow what a great forum you have here, I'm glad I found this. I'm up way too
late "lurking" as you say, but had to say hi.
  I spent 5 of the best summers of my life stomping through the hills here in 
So. Cal. with the FS. Unfortunatly, like a lot of others, endured budget 
cuts, shortened seasons, lack of sending "JAC" candidates, etc....  And then 
pushing 30, with a new baby, sad to say it was time to hang up the White's. I 
went back full time to my "winter" job as a carpenter, worked steady and got 
the bank account back up.
   It's been 3 years now, and I miss it every day. It was the only job that I 
woke up in the morning happy, knowing I had to go to work. Was it the right 
choice? I'm not 100% sure. My bank statement looks better now, spend more 
time with my son, and home on his b-day, instead of some hillside on the
Klamath.  Yea, but those times on the Klamath! Memories I'll never forget. 
    Mellie, you mention the addiction?  You got that right! We all have it to 
some extent, some more than others. Why else would we enjoy waking on a cold 
dewey mornings in a paper sleeping bag to go sweat in the smoke for 14 hours? 
I still have it and I'll always remember the great times, and I'll never have 
to wish that I "would of liked to have done that".   Ask lots of questions, 
be informed, follow your dreams.
  Anyway, I've got a great lounge chair out back pointed towards the San 
Bernardinos for when the tankers start circling, and you never know, I've 
still got at least 1 more season of tread on those White's.

 Have a safe season...... may get a little warm

Get them damn spiders outt'a yer Whites and contact the closest hotshot crew to see when you can start work.  Christ, the very idea that you would worry more about financial security, your home, your family, your future. . .make me respect you as a person, "G".  I hope you have a pool in front of your lounge chair in the back yard so's you can take a cooling dip as you watch the airtanker runs and remember what it's like to be cutt'in line up those hills.  "Yes indeedy", you can tell all your carpenter friends as you fire up the barby and enjoy another cold one, "I used to do that for a living"!  They'll raise their eyebrows and perhaps smile, ask a couple questions. . . but they won't understand.  Ab.

04/22 The second, I read the CDF Engine Guys post, I thought "IT", but backed off from saying anything.  But then Rochelle, got me to thinking. 
(The last time I blasted off, over Tony@SBA and the pack test, he hasn't come back on line, that wasn't my intention, please except my
apologies.) I have a tendency to run with emotion...and then do alot of apologizing later, sorry. 
  Anyway, my first thought about the CDF guy, was....(another,  "Whank boy" ) his problem with Mellie, isn't that she is outspoken, but that
she is Female!  The real hostility here, sounded to me, like it wasn't what she was asking, but that "SHE" was asking it.
    CDF, saw the writing on the wall, during Genie Bernardi's pre-consent decree lawsuits and started adding women to fire before, the forest
service, was forced to. Women who worked their way up the CDF ladder ( generally speaking ) in the 1970's and 1980's...did it the right
way, they earned it...(keep in mind I'm speaking ... in broad general terms...there are exceptions) The forest service, ignored the court
mandated consent decree and when, after, the 5 years they were given  to increase their numbers from something like 10 percent to 43
percent...they came up with an increase of  less than 4 percent. The court said, "Excuse me, but you must not have been listening..." Then
they found them in contempt and gave them an additional 3 years to beef up those numbers. And beef up they did, they came up w/the
JAC program, and with upward mobility & accelerated development positions and they crammed women, and later minoritys down the
throats of many and took opprotunity away from the many, many deserving men out there who had worked hard and thought that they
would be rewarded for their efforts. Alot of folks, got walked on, but...it takes a real man, a real person, with a fair and honest heart to Not,
take it out on the females but the agency who did everyone wrong. 
  CDFer, you sound like a boy scorned, and better yet, from your own quote,"So i need to tell you from some fire folks that are near." You
appear to be just the messenger, seems those fire folks that are near, are also using you to be their kick dog, since they themselves don't
have the cajones, to jump in and say what they think of Mellie, themselves.
  I don't think what Mellie has written in her postings, have made her, look like a know it all, an expert or a pro. In fact they have shown, that
she is articulate, expressive, intelligent, sensible, logical, comprehensible and rational. Unfortunately, your posting shows quite the
  I worked for the USFS for years, but now I also work for CDF, and if anyone ever spoke to me the way, you just spoke to her, telling her to
Back off, Slow down, Keep your mouth shut...you'd be on your ass, as well as off  my crew. You better do some rethinking here son, or
you will never be anything more, than the engine crewperson, you appear to be.
  I for one, would like to know, why it is you are so pissed off? That she was invited to dinner with so and so, and you weren't? Now, "That
Scares", me. 


04/22 This posting may be a little late, but concerning the high failure rate of 
some students in S-190.  I have taught the course many times over the past 
years and the one concept that I have difficulty in teaching is wind shifts 
associated with a frontal passage.  I would bet that is where most of the 
people taking the course are failing.  If you live or have lived in the 
Midwest, the concept should be easily understood, because weather patterns 
have no geographic barriers to disrupt air flow.  But where terrain masks and 
redirects air flow depending on location, people who have not lived and 
worked in these areas all their lives have a difficult time understanding the 
wind shifts.

In my classes I ask what happens to the wind at a certain time of day, which 
direction the "weather" comes from and if there are any other weather 
conditions unique to their home area.  I then relate local conditions to 
frontal passage and seem to be successful in relaying the concept.  But the 
most important things I try to teach is one: know your local weather and 
where the winds come from, and two: if you are away from home fighting fire, 
talk to a "local" about "their" weather.


Never too late for good info WP!  Ab.

04/22 hi Ab. don't worry mine isn't full of a bunch of belly achin,"holly" never in my life, any way people we are in the middle of burn season, no  stories? well
I tell you mine.We just finished 1000+ acers this week all helitorch and hand, we had great burn off, top elevation was 5000, bottom1500  last week we
did 900 gonna be a good fire season here in northeastern washington state,oh ya the next time you flat landers are out here fighting fire, when you are
walking up one of our mountians for about an hour, think about the step test then see how much you have on your back and I will garuntee you it
won't be 45lbs?
 later all be safe
04/22  Reality time now folks.  Something that I was taught 20 some odd years ago about fire.  It's so great getting started, But remember that most Firefighters die between there 2nd and 12 year.  This is from structual training,but I've realized it applies to the wildland side also.  Rare instances (are) that someone with mega years of experince dies on the line. 

Don't get down on Mellie to hard CDF ENGINE Person, remeber that you had that same enthusiam when you got BLESSED by fire!

I"ve known people I feel had mega experince and they died on the line.  But I know by their performance in Colorado, that he did save
lives.  Some of you people know who I'm taking about.  Bless your soul brother!  Anyway, Miss Mellie don't let this individual give you any crap.  I met you at Div. Chief 2000 and I may have some stories that will help you on your assignment.  AB knows my addy if you need it again.

Eric:  have had a few people contact me re: work:  There in your neck of the woods not mine.  rmmcgee@onemain.com (I think, new server) or try

thanks for the time Ab.  please spell correct as you see fit.  If I'm not mistaken Mellie is doing something about stress re: firefighters.  If so tell her that I got some great stuff for her!

Thanks again Ab.  Please edit as proper sir. but I think you get my drift.  (on the addys, my server just changed hands, should be the first one not sure.)


I'll fix your post a little, but I ain't heat'in up your MRE's, nor making coffee for ya.  Ab.

04/22 Hi Ab

You ask(ed) me if there were differences in foremen during my first five
years vs. my last 5 years. That would be the period 1953-1958 and 1980-1985.

Understanding that there are exceptions throughout, these are my

I'd say in the fifties the foremen had less performance standards and
accountability for themselves and their crews. Most foreman were financed
most of the year with the rest of the crew as seasonal. Training standards
were not used to the extent that they were in the eighties.

The foremen of the eighties had to deal with year round management of their
key people because of extended financing. Also there were training and
performance standards to be concerned with.

Selection for promotion was more informal in the fifties. When I wanted to
fill the Elizabeth Lake Engine Foremans position I called the person I
wanted on the phone, on another district to see if he wanted the job. When
he said yes, I called his FMO and said I understood that Pat wanted to move
to Elizabeth Lake and take the foremans job. Dates were agreed to and the
move was completed. I didn't look at rosters, read performance appraisals
and the like. I think the movement to competion for vacancies has done alot
to improve the system, break down clans and overall has resulted in a
better organization.

Ab, I hope this info is informative. Please post or delete as you see fit.

I want to post it.  Ab.

04/22 trailblazer,    concerning commitments and contractors.   We too are
required to meet the same federal standards.   Went through My RFQ  (request
for Quotation)   and see that we are limited to a 21 day stint.  easy to
take careof though on our end.   As we know when we are approaching the
3weeks and can bring in fresh people.

Mellie   i enjoy your letters,   dont be discouraged.   I am sure you know
your limits.   as long as you know them your safe.

later and have a good one

(Posted a little later)
one other note,   I have an engineering background.   Almost all of the
studies I have read stress the fact that Shelters are dsigned for radiant
heat protection, and a minimal amount of direct flame contact protection.

No matter how prepared we are out therer,   accidents will happen,   weather
changes unexpectadly.   We all know the risks going in,   and unfortunately
less people aill come out than go in.

Short of wearing Kiln entry suits, into a wildfire,  there isnt much more we
can do?    I mean we already get some of the best forecasts available,   we
have overhead with decades of experience,   Accurate maps, and good gear.
I think ( my opinion only) is that we are probably approaching the limit of
safety possible.  Just as the airlines have approached their maximum safety
level,   so has wildland firefighting.      there are still going to be
crashes.   and unfortunately there are going to be deaths firefighting.

just my opinion folks

04/22 Hi Ab

I'm glad you had a chance to expand on your comments regarding, following
the ways of the seventies. What your saying makes alot of sense and follows
some of my observations too.

In your reply you asked me if I was around since the 70's, do you remember
your first five fires? How safe were you, how good was your supervisor?
How do they compare to your last five fires? 

I started in 1953 and retired in 1985. Let me tell you though, some of the
negatives that you mentioned in the seventies were around big time in 1953
and for too many of the following years, with exceptions of course. Yes, I
remember a couple of my first five fires and one of my last five too, I
also remember special fires in between like the Magic, Sundance, Corn
Creek, Marble-Cone and some lesser fires we hooked at less acres because we
made good decisions, had some luck and the right people at the right place
at the right time. 

I remember my supervisors too. Some for me were better than others, and all
but a couple had the interests of the Forest Service foremost in their
actions and minds.

My first fire as an employee was with Tony Cambis in July of 53. He was a
patrolman and I was a crewman on the engine. For some reason the foreman
was on a day off and Tony was covering the engine, with me as the only
crewman. I'd been on a month or so with no training, much like your initial
rememberances of the seventies. We went to a fire in Little Tujunga Canyon
at Gold Creek. One thing stands out on that fire and that was, Hugh
Masterson, alone on initial attack fired and held the south side of the
Gold Creek road and singlehandly kept the fire from going farther north
into roadless national forest land. Hugh was a real fire god and one of my
future uncles, who could kick my butt and praise me in the same breath. My
early fire uncles also included, Verdie White, Fred Tyler, Tex Strange, and
T.L. Biddison. 

For my second fire the foreman was back but still no training. When we
arrived at the fire above Monrovia we got off the red 1940 cabover Ford.,
milled around and stared while the fire below us headed our way. Non
training was kicking in. Foreman told us to get our plastic hard hats on
and be ready to work. I put one on that had the letter F in front. No one
on the crew knew including me that the F stood for foreman. However a
county chief did and gave me the assignment for the crew. I passed it on to
the foreman and we went to work after I swapped hats with the foreman.

Fortunately for me anyway, I got promoted after two months to TTO or Tanker
Operator and started working for a foreman who trained and expected
performance. I won't go into the rest of 1953 but there were lots of fires
and lots of assignments culminating with the Fish Fork, Barrett and a fire
just to the west that went over Christmas and into the new year.

My last five fires were 32 years later and I was a forest AFMO. I can
remember my last one. I went, not because I was needed, but because I
figured it would be my last one. I was getting nostalgic then and not sure
if I really wanted to retire. I remembered the old friends, the smell of
coffee in the morning, the siren announcing get up time and I wanted to be
part of it, just one more time. Then the next day I was driving down the
road realizing , that's all folks.

In regard to safety. I never made a decision that resulted in a fatality or
major injury. I did pull a couple stunts that could of got folks hurt, but
realized in time what we were doing was wrong and pulled out. Fred Tyler
was my boss when I was a  Hot Shot Supt and he told me that it was only
burning brush and to dial down my actions accordingly. That was early in my
career and it stuck with me and became my personal motto. I was fortunate
enough twice to over-ride a decision by another person and move folks out
before they were threatened by a major run. I don't know why I recognized
the threat and the others didn't. Perhaps it was Fred's comment or the
hairs on the back of my neck standing up.

Did I contribute to the solution or was I part of the problem. I think some
of both, but I sure had a hell of a ride.


p/s; sometime I'll tell you the Fudgie story.

Ok, but remember, this is a family site.  Wait a minute, no it isn't!  You can say damn near anything here.  Thanks for the synopsis of your first and last fires.  Ab.

04/21 Hi there everyone--
Thought y'all might be interested to know I decided to take the job, and
work on the thesis in the winter.  Can't say that's gone over real well
here, since no one here sees where you can get a degree AND fight fire.
However, the midwest is not what I'd call extremely aware of what the whole
fire scene is all about.  Anyway, I see the degree as one tool in learning
about fire, but I think you need the experience too, and I guess they won't
be able to argue with me when I'm in California.  Yep, that's right, after
all yer talking about those darned hills last summer, I wanted to come out
there and see what all the fuss was about, minus the humidity of the
southeast I tend to whine about.  Just kidding... I've been west a season
or two, but not yet in south CA.  So, maybe I'll get to meet one or two of
you folks.  Hope so.

Mellie-- haven't heard from you since the CDF Engine Guy posting... I hope
he didn't scare you away.  I can say I also got some trouble for my
enthusiasm my first year (and even my 2nd), and after taking 130/190 and
going to a few fires, I was fairly convinced I knew a hell of a lot.  You
grow out of it though, and I think the whole thing starts to humble you
after a while.  I hope you don't let it bother you a whole lot... my
enthusiasm still makes people think I'm crazy.  And, I'll venture out on a
limb here, and say that women in firefighting are kind of an issue with
some folks.  Especially women who have the potential to move up fast.  It's
a tricky subject... and one not discussed on this site, that I remember, in
the last few years.  Any ideas?  As a matter of fact, I'd like to see what
the general thought is out there....

My condolensces to Lamar Y'Barbo's family in Texas. 
Two weeks ago a volunteer firefighter from about an hour from here was
killed after responding to a grass fire under some kind of storage tank
containing unknown (at the time) gases or liquids.  As a result of his
death and six other volunteer FF deaths in the state in the last year, the
state leg voted to give each of the surviving families $100,000, because
they were volunteers.  Not sure what to think of this, but the picture
seems unjust somehow.

Thanks for all yer encouragement.  Ab- I swear you had written that I
should go into fire, and talk to you when I was 50 and see if I had made
the right choice, but it's not on the post anymore.  I'd have to say I
continue to make the right choice, I hope.  This will be my 2nd leave from
grad school for fire, but now at least I'm done with my classwork.  And,
you may be interested to know that I think I'd rather spend more time in
the field learning tactics and logistics before getting that desk job in
the urban interface.  We'll see..

I support your choice.  As for the alleged Ab posting, it is entirely possible.  As for Mellie, don't fear her running away.  Ab.


Are you really CDF? You're not correct in many of your statements about me.
Are you correct in that statement about you?

Let me clarify about me: 
1) I am not an expert. If I did know it all, I might not be shocked/sleepless
as occasionally I am.
2) I *WAS* Mellie citizen, but never JANE and then the fire came and I'm not
quite sure yet even who Mellie is in the context of fire -- except addicted,
learning and not gagged.
3) All my close CDF friends, except one, have been in touch with me. None are
you, ENGINE GUY and no one knows you.
4) I have never had to go up to anyone in FIRE and invite myself. If the truth
be known, it makes me feel a little shy and very thankful that I've been as
accepted and encouraged as I have been. Really fit in? Well, we'll see. I'm
still on probation and might be for a while. That's OK with me. I think I'll
be in/on fire for the rest of my life. So this is just time spent completing
my PTB.
I'm sorry ENGINE GUY that my questions and speed scare you. Honestly, you wouldn't
be the first person I've frightened that way. I don't mean to do that. Really...

To all who are answering my questions and clarifying issues, THANKS so much.
Your responses are wonderfully rich and informative. To all of my CDF friends,
THANKS. Your willingness to dialogue makes me proud to be your friend. You are
all the BEST. (Engine Guy, you still have the potential to be a friend, too,
if you want.)

BTW, I do keep my ears open, but I don't know if I could gag myself, back off,
or slow down even if I wanted to. Fire has me in its grip. <grin> I'm addicted,
as one friend said, like a moth to the flame, like a needle in the vein. I THINK
I'M IN LOVE! Ya'll provide some of the fix'ins.  Thanks for understanding my
enthusiasm. I can't help it!

As always-- Mellie

PS. Thanks for the forum AB. Thanks for posting, Engine Guy. (Don't mind Tiny
about the grammar thing. He's just supporting me in his dear young man way.
We all know theysaid ain't about grammar and spelling, but about sharing ourselves
as best we can.)

04/21 Mellie, Ab, at ell:

     Mellie asked a couple of really good questions that deserve an
answer. In regards to S-190, no CDF does not offer it to our new Fire
Fighters. Instead we offer a 67-hour curriculum as well as public safety
first aid, CPR and Hazardous Materials Operations level (the full course
lasts about 16 days). The 67 hour course covers the material in federal
S-190 course in addition to structure fire operations (ladders, SCBA,
etc.). Why don't we use S-190? Well it’s a guess on my part, but I
suspect that for one, it would hinder our ability to modify the
curriculum to fit our needs, secondly, we’d be purchasing material from
the federal side that our own academy can produce. There are probably
other reasons as well. I have been involved in joint academies between
CDF and USFS and have found the biggest difference is in that we throw
in the structure stuff and a few more performance exams (one-person
hoselay, mobile attack, etc). Those Fire Fighters who do not pass the
performance and written tests are supposed to be terminated. (In an
aside, we are seeing more and more new hires that have certificates from
Junior Colleges. Some unit accepts these at face value and I question
this practice).
     The second part of your question Mellie brings out a good point.
CDF is weak in the falling classes. I personally try to get my employees
into the local Forest Service class because the quality of the course.
Since we don’t have as many big trees in the south end of the state, we
may never catch up with the forest in this respect. Unfortunately the
bottom line is that it is up to the individual as to what he or she is
comfortable falling. Fortunately, for most of our major falling jobs we
generally contract private individuals.
    In regards to the R-6 Fire Pups comments, we need to serve both our
internal and external customers, that is those we deal with as fellow
professionals as well as the public. Communication must be encouraged in
all directions
    Mellie, don’t be discouraged by those of lessor writing skill. I
admire your honesty.

A CDF Trainer

04/20 Ab et all,

Thanks to those who gave feedback to my peice, both the good and the bad. Heaven knows I need all the help I can get if I'm going to make
this idea of mine work. My instructor gave my paper back today, graded 71/80 points. He deducted nine points because its a
'Writing/Editing' Class which means that  I'm supposed to rely on my fellow students to do the editing. I do not, however regret the
assistance offered to me, as my motive was to one day get it published, and I feel that the work is effective, and as accurate as I could get
it based on information recieved. It is also, for the most part, grammatically correct, which brings me to the point of this letter.

While I'm not overly anal retentive about things being grammatically correct, and I do realize that we as humans can not be 100%
grammatically correct, and I do realize 'They Said It' does not have a grammatically correct behavior to it; I do wish to ask the posters to
please try and think before they post something. Case in point: 4-19-00 Message addressed to Mellie from a 'CDF Engine Guy'. I shouldn't
have to say this, but that post needs work. It was clearly written by someone who did not take the time to sound half-way literate. I can cite
violations in spacing, punctuation and word choice, without worrying about what is said in capitalized letters, but to keep spam down I shall
not. I sincerely hope that the people who fill out official reports and handle paperwork can do so above the level displayed in that post.

Moving on, I wish to ask some questions of the CDF Engine Guy. Do you view all interested personnel, civilian, military, or fire service etc
who ask questions and try to make comparisions or try to make logic of a situation with the same contempt? Is your attitude about people
who try to get a foothold in the fire community universal, or is it reserved for those who ask questions? Were you reprimanded for asking
questions in your career? 

"Why is Tiny asking these questions?" you ask. Well, to put it simply, I wish to know if my original perception of the wildland fire
community as being closed off into it's own little world is correct. Before posting here my first time in December I had rarely seen a post
written from the entry-level fire fighter that I could tell was from one, and I do believe that I have the record for youngest poster here. I remind
you all that I am a high school junior, a Life scout in the Boy Scouts of America and a Cadet Ensign in the Naval Junior Reserve Officer
Training Corps. I have had extremely little wildfire experience, and I have had little structural fire experience with the VFD. Speaking of my
VFD, the funding for the County has fallen short and the VFD was forced to 'RIF' the high school volunteers, there were four of us. I use the
RIF term with caution because it's hard to 'fire' a volunteer. The reason behind letting us go was because they lacked the funding to have us
certified as FF1, which I believe was the class, I may be missing a letter. Yet despite this I have seen a 'blurred picture' of sorts. There are
those who are willing to let the curious in, yet there are those who are stalwart and unmoving as a granite cliff.

So, I ask again, is the Pup under a misconception of the wildland fire scene? Is there a 'social barrier' between the firefighter and the civilian
which he or she serves? Should the Pup tuck in his tail and find another dream to go with? To save Ab the trouble of posting every
response, feel free to send them to my hotmail account: rangertiny@hotmail.com

Trying to keep a foot in the black and my head out of the smoke,

Tiny, the R-6 Fire Pup

04/20 On Mellie's question about the situations - My tired old brain seems to remember in IR Crew training in late 70's that the original 13 situations came out
of an acedemic study called "Common Demoninators to Disaster" which was used in training(at least on our crew) in a similar manner to Standards for
Survival and such more recently.   And yes these came about because people, often more than one, died or were injured.  The other 5 were added as a
response to additional incidents.

Was a bit dismayed that someone was advancing the idea safety was getting in the way of agressive fire control ops.  This is wrong.   Aggresive attack
and safety can both be accomodated.  That is what having skilled firefighters is all about.  If you can't fight fire aggressively, but provide for safety
first, find another line of work. (Hmm - we have heard that some where before.) - 

Things are starting to happen - stay safe out there - BW

04/20 Mellie,

Sounds as if you offended the CDF guy a bit. Not to worry, one thing that 
folks need to understand in this businees is that everyone interputs things 
a little bit differently. I guess that if everyone agreed with each other, 
then we would be living in "1984".

I truely appriciate your questions and enthusiasm!! For some one of your 
age, to be highly motivated in learning as much as possible in old man fire, 
it is highly commendable..  ;) I sometimes wish that some of my 18-19 year
old recruites can have a little more "gumph" in learning. Oh yes, generation 
X'ers. Funny thing is though, I 'is' one myself!!

Now, on to my question of the day. Has anyone seen the new federal policy on 
assignment commitment times??? I understand that it is now policy to be on 
assignments no longer than 14 days, excluding travel time. I also understand 
that this policy was brought about as a safety meassure for the IHC crews. 
No more 21 day assignments and one day R/R and then to the next assignment. 
GREAT! (sarcasim)

Due to the fact that, as a fire district under a IGA with the state, we are 
classified as a state resource, Arizona State Land and New Mexico State 
Forestry. With this in mind, that means that as an engine crew, we will be 
held to the same standard (as per the southwest [R-3] mob guide) as the rest 
of the federal crews. Also, if after out 14 day stint, we wish to take on 
another assignment (and who doesn't) we will be required to take one day R/R 
(on our own ticket) and either re-up on the same assignment, or be 

My question to the group is::

Is this policy being upheld by other state fire agencies, like ODF or NDF or 
Texas Forest Service?? I would assume that CDF has their own policies in 
regards to how long they can be out for. Also, does this policy apply to 
private contractors. If not, as a private, you guys may be able to out do us 
fire district guys, because now you can remain on the fire as long as the IC 
wants you there.

Personaly, I feel as a state resource, this policy sucks dog crap. I do not 
want to send my crews out of state (like Florida) and have to have the crews 
rotate every 14 days. I know, I know, most of your comments will be; if you 
don't like the policy don't go!

Any comments?!?!

AZ Trailblazer

04/20 CDF Engine Guy
Whoa there fella.   Sure you're right that Mellie's recent messages have
carried the tone of greater knowledge and experience than she may be due.
So what?    That's called enthusiasm and guess what, we all went through
that stage; I did , you did, and now it's Mellie's turn.  The experienced
firefighter will smile inwardly, and take the comments in stride.  Yes,
Mellie, don't forget the virtue of listening, but dialogue is an integral
part of learning......don't be afraid to continue to offer your opinions.
CDF Engine Guy, take a deep breath and ease off.
Old Fire Guy
04/20 Mellie;

Don't be put off by the <deleted> that called itself CDF ENGINE GUY and its
post of 4-19.  Sounds to me like you hit a nerve.  Ask every question
you can, learn from everyone around you. Only in that way might you not
have to repeat our mistakes.  Yes, I am CDF and proud of it.  I'm not so
proud of some of my intolerant brothers and sisters, but every agency
has some.

Keep on it Mellie;

04/20 Melee,

Absolutely no need to apologize (4/18) for your questions.  I feel you formulate them well and are asking questions that alot of others
probably would like to ask but do not have guts to put online.  I find your comments/questions to be most refreshing and usually

As an instructor over the years from local, level 200 courses to courses put on at the Regional Training Center I can attest to the fact
there are very good instructors and very poor instructors.  Just as there are very good courses and very bad courses.  The one thing
an instructor or course coordinator needs to bear in mind if he/she feels the material/course is inadequate:  you only need meet the
intent of the material.  If you can add pictures/videos, personal experiences (without getting into abunch of "war" stories) and humor
you can greatly enhance the quality of your presentation.  If you are a course coordinator and have someone who is not doing the job
of getting the material across to the students, you have to have the brass to critique the person and possibly not bring them back
next year.

You are refreshing Mellie and add so much to this website!  Keep the questions coming and continue to inject your enthusiasm into
the site!!  If someone has a problem with your questions, maybe they need to do some soul searching and try to figure out what you
have said/asked that has them thinking again.  I have never known you to attack anyone, so keep it up.  I am sure some of my posts
have gotten more than one person in a "Tizzy".  While I try not to offend, personally attack or otherwise get people riled up; after 30
years in the business, I figure the pot needs to be stirred once in awhile.  While employed with the FS I stirred the pot when I felt
it needed to be stirred and a persons GS rating did not stop me; so now that I am retired I will continue to stir the pot, stimulate
conversation, rattle cages, rock boats or whatever term you prefer.  But, I will always try to do so with respect and honor to those of
you that are on the line "Facing the Dragon" with the bottom line being to pass on 30 years of knowledge that hopefully others may
find useful and maybe keep someone alive.


04/20 Mellie--
I have heard that the 18 watchout situations were developed as a result of
fatatlities on fires.  I heard this in my FFT2 training a few years ago,
and I think it may even be in the S-130/S-190 literature for teaching the
course.  In the two courses we taught last year, that fact (or not) was
used.  I'm sure there is information on this somewhere, but I don't have
time to check it out just now.

Also, the two S-190 courses we taught last year were taught to a
combination of Job Corps and agency personnel.  The agency employees'
scores ranged from just barely passing (you need 80% on two separate tests)
to high 90s, while almost all of the Job Corps students failed the tests in
both classes.  This is probably from a combination of factors, the most
notable being that these basic fire training courses are not set up well
for teaching the wide variety of audiences, experiences, and learning
styles that are out there.  The Job Corps kids excelled when we got them
into the field, and when we actually went outside and LOOKED at some
terrain.  In the classroom, however, things were different.  Anyway, there
you have my limited perspective on S-190.  Overall, I think many of these
courses, most notably 130/190, are somewhat if not totally lacking when it
comes to practical application of knowledge, course setup, arrangement of
the parts of the course, and the overall approach to teaching the course.
This is something I'd like to work on improving, but that's another story.

You've gotten some great answers to your questions on this page, I hope you
never stop asking questions.  I've only been in this field for a few short
years, but the more I learn, the more I find that I have mountains more to
learn about the whole system and operation.  Reading the posts regarding
your note got me thinking about where I was when I first started in fire,
and I find comments like Dana's hard to argue with.  Your first several
times (years??) at a fire can be very intimidating, and it is hard to speak
up about something when you are obviously new and inexperienced.  It's also
easy to fall into the trap where others may act like just because they have
so much more experience, that they have a better fire sense than you and a
better sense of what is actually dangerous.  In my opinion, you should
always be heads up, and keep an open dialogue between everyone working the
fire about the hazards, conditions, fire behaviour, safety zones and escape
routes, etc.  It has been my experience that no one on a fire has much of
an idea of what anyone else's comfort level or experience may be, so
communication is of course the key, and like everyone else said, common sense.

Now I've written a long post myself by accident.  Many thanks to everyone
for the advice recently about this little education dilemma I've been in...
it's really very awesome to see such support from people I don't even know,
especially since fire-people are pretty hard to come by out this way.
I'll let you know how it turns out (I've got a feeling...).  Take care--

04/20 Mellie and all those who talked about the S-190 test

 I just finished the basic apprentice academy "The Jac Academy" that the Forest Service offers.
This was the first year that they required people to pass the S-190 test or you will be removed,
you only get one shot at it there were no retakes. 10 people failed that test out of 90, these
people had multiple fire seasons under there belts. I have no idea why they failed maybe the
thought they knew more than they really did who knows, the point is there are probably more
firefighters out there who would fail the S-190 test than you really think.

04/19 mellie.   what  has made yousuch a pro and know it all on fire. yes i do know 
you and also know that you think if you have dinner with so and so team that 
makes you a expert..  WRONG.. not to long  a go you where jane citzen and now 
you are some type of know it all .. and that scares me .you have gone up to 
folks that have been on this line of work for years and tryed to fit in THAT 
WILL NOT WORK . so i need to tell you from some fire folks that you are near 
BACK OFF AND SLOW DOWN. keep your mouth shut and ears open ........ a CDF. 
04/19 Ab, this is a great site,i have been lurking here for a couple of months,it is good to read other opinions about wildland fire from people
who work for other agencies, I worked for LAC Fire for 14 1/2 years, 7 years on a Heel-attack crew at Camp, then the last part of the
7 as a Dozer Swamper,i am currently a Dozer Operator for a contractor ,non-fire just dirt work so i can get time in the seat to come
back as a fire dozer operator,regarding S-190 i took the test and passed it, then 2 days later was in S-290,which really opened up my
eyes,anyways lots of rain & Snow down here in So Cal,Stay Safe...Roady
04/18 Ab & All.
I noticed some comments on respirators recently on your page.  Since I
have acquired some knowledge about respiratory protection over the last
25 years I'll share my thoughts with you.  There has been some
monitoring of various & sundry toxic gasses on wildfires (prescribed
burns I beleive).  The particulate (smoke) appears to be the main
problem.  Carbon Monoxide (CO) does not appear to be found above the
OSHA Permissible Level (PEL) of 50 Parts per Million (PPM).  There are a
host of other toxins which can exist in smoke probably many which we
don't even have standards for.  So whats a wildland firefighter to do?
Protect your lungs and airway.  Use a dust & mist respirator and hope
that the levels of the gases present will not affect your health.  I
have looked at the Hot Shield & the Whiffs.  They do not appear to have
NIOSH/MSHA approval which is required by OSHA.  However if they work and
keep your face & lungs from being burned use them.  There is an approved
dust mask made by Moldex, the 2300, which as long as you are not right
on line will provide good protection.  It is light and can be carried in
your pocket when not in use.  Get to close to the heat and it melts.  It
even has an exhalation valve which means you dont keep rebreathing your
own exhaled gases over & over.  As far as protection from CO which is
odorless & tasteless you are looking at airline or SCBA respirators.
Not to practical on most wildfires.  SCBAs are heavy & even though the
bottle says it is good for 30 minutes those who are working will use up
the air in about 15 minutes.  Then you have to change bottles which
means you leave the line to get a fresh bottle.  Leave the SCBAs for
structure firefighting, which could be added to your tasks in the
future.  The place where SCBAs could be used because of the toxic soup
is on interface fires.  Man made products are much more toxic than
trees.  If you want to get more information on respirators contact Brian
Sharkey, the Industrial Hygienist at MTDC.

Enough of the lecture.  Be safe out there.


P.S.  We have had the red flag all day here in New Mexico.  About a
dozen major fires burning tonight.  The winds are supposed to drop to
10-20 knots after midnight.  Pray for those on the line that they all
come home safe.

04/18 Mellie,

Not sure what kind of S-190 class you attended; but I have never heard of such a high failure rate before.  We used to to do a one day S-190
in Basic Fire School and very seldom had a person fail.  If they did, we would sit down with them and go over that portion of the final exam
question by question.  Then follow up with the home unit and let them know they need to work with the person abit more.

Proper shelter deployment does not gurantee survival.  It will not help you if it is too hot or windy.  From reading the reports and talking with
one of the investigative team for South Canyon, the feeling is that what got the folks was "Super Heated" gases that could not be survived,
shelter or no shelter.

Tom Shepard, 

If you're reading this site let me know via Ab.  Tried to send you a message and apparently it did not go thru? 


04/18 As someone who has taught S-190 and S-290 and assisted in S-390 for about 5 
years I can tell you that if those figures are accurate something is wrong. 
The subject matter is not that difficult, so I guess that maybe the 
instructors should look at their methods.  As far as the fire shelters go, 
they will not take direct flame contact.  Anybody that thinks the fire 
shelter is adequate is sadly misinformed. The safest plan is to never base 
your operation on the necessity of using the thing.
04/18 Hola

I copied the following statement made in reply to changing times in
wildland fire on 4/15.

"Good people are being burned or dying following the ways of the "70"s,
there are lessons to be learned for those capable"

I'd like to see this thought followed up by the author. Maybe I missed
something in the seventies. 

To me the seventies brought Safety First, an attempt to recognize and
identify the areas to improve wildland firefighting safety, techniques,
position appointments and a whole lot more. The seventies also brought the
start of the gradual decline of funding to meet suppression needs and the
court encouraged system to promote or appoint a class of person, in some
cases not qualified to be in the position.

What were the ways of the seventies that resulted to loss of life today.


Thanks for questioning my comment Fudgie.  Once in a while, a comment which seems perfectly logical in my mind fails the transfer to the printed page.  In this case I was referring to my experiences in the early 70's as a rookie firefighter with CDF, then later, the USFS.  At the time of my first fire working for CDF, I was totally untrained.  In fact, I joined my engine crew on a fire my first day of work.  Prior to working my first fire with the USFS my fire training consisted of reading a FS manual on basic firefighting and another on fire weather.

As a first year crewmember, I did not question authority, nor did others desiring to keep their jobs.  Those who asked too many questions seldom lasted.  Formal training was non-existent for seasonals.  The extent of my training prior to receiving an appointment was limited to  knowledge passed on through my immediate engine boss, (you know, the STTO).  Current fire information in any form or context was extremely limited and when produced, dated far too late for benefit.

Cliches, rumors, and rules-of-thumb however, were plentiful.  I'm not saying they were all bad, many were good and still are.  The poster's comments I recently replied to included two cliches reminding me of those times.  The first one about keeping one foot in the black is still good, it just reminded me of the other part of the cliche as I  learned it, "keep your head down, your mouth shut, and one foot in the black".  I didn't like it then and still don't.  The other comment, "double lunch and hook it" invoked a memory of the first fire I had escape initial attack wherein I was made to (subtly) feel responsible for allowing it to escape.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't crying then and I ain't crying now!

In addition to Safety First as you mention, I also remember Firescope, ICS, and new OSHA standards emerging in the 70's.  These were all welcome and encouraging standards, however, they didn't begin showing up until the mid to latter 70's, they weren't all greeted with enthusiasm, and some of them are yet to be adopted nationwide.

There remain some in command who view the past as the "good old days" and have thus failed to progress or learn anything from the last twenty plus years.  The wildland firefighters who work for these people are at risk.  These are the same supervisors who precipitate, envoke, and are the primary targets of the "file a grievance" attitude mentioned by JAFO, so prevelant in some areas.  I also disagree with the idea that the "drop back and punt" is an accepted or preferred method.  I, and many others I know use our supervisorial skills to best prepare those who work with us to vigorously attack all given situations at the first opportunity.  We are prepared!

When I said, "Good people are being burned or dying following the ways of the "70"s, the above firest three paragraphs ran through my mind.  While I may have failed to communicate these ideals in the earlier reply, I find it apparent the the continued, needless loss of firefighter lives support my viewpoint.  By the way, if you've been around since the 70's, do you remember your first five fires?  How safe were you, how good was your supervisor?  How do they compare to your last five fires?  Abercrombie

04/18 Mellie,

You hit on some very touchy questions, not for myself, but for some of the 
other folks that are out there. As far as if the folks on the South Canyon 
Incident would have survived if "they had properly" deployed their shelters, 
this will be one of those debatable questions that some of us will ask over 
beers at some little layover bar on our way to another assignment (anyone 
been to Lone Pine CA??). I don't think anyone in their right mind would
venture to even answer that question, even though official investigations 
have come up with some BS answers. I lost three close friends on that fire, 
and I truely believe that certain things happen for a reason.

Yes, unfortunately the 10 & 18 come about because of firefighter fatalities 
and injuries. LCES came about the fall/spring of 1995 just as the "official" 
report on the South Canyon incident. Over the years, as "things happen", 
every agency attemps to  incorporate a little acronym to help people out in 
remembering safety messages and the like. Thats great and all, and believe 
me it took a few seasons and lots of push ups before I could recite the 10 & 
18 in my sleep, but non the less, I thinks the number one issue is the lack 
of common sense. If today's basic and advanced level training programs would
instruct with a kinda "common sense" approach to fire behavior and weather, 
then, I would presume (not assume) that most of our tragic incidents would 
be reduced (never eliminated, unfortunately).

As far as your question regarding agency specific "quals" for assignments, I 
can't say much for region 5. I worked as a ff/pm at Golden Gate NRA 
(Presidio) and can honestly say that there was some variations to 
qualifications. Its sorta like taking a battalion chief from a southern 
California "city" fire department and essentially giving him/her a strike 
team of engines to Laguna Beach on a wildland assignment. Unfortunately, we 
still "give out assignments to the title, not to the qualified".

I'm sorry to hear that you have some un-motivated instructors. I teach 
locally, everything from Sate ff 1&2 to EMS. I love to teach wildland
clases, because that's what I'm good at. I purposely extend the state basic 
wildland class from 32 hours to 48 hours and incorporate live fire. I know 
that the state land folks are a little upset when they can't fill up one of 
their classes, but I have a waiting list for mine. Again, going back to what 
I said earlier, as an instructor, you have to keep your students highly 
motivated, instruct with a common sense to safety approach, and reward your 
students for a good job!

AZ Trailblazer

04/18 Later in the Day


I'm sorry if I offended anyone with my post. The concerned e-mails I've gotten
from friends today indicate that they're expecting I'll get blasted by ya'll.
Guess I'll handle that if it happens. I just need some answers regarding what
is typically taught in CDF intro FF1 class (FF1: 5 month 10 hr per week class)
and what comes next if people fail parts of it. I also need to know what proportion
of each S-190 class (NWCG wildland fire-behavior) passes it. Part of what made
me so upset before I posted yesterday, is that these ideas about fire shelters,
use of chain saws, and watchouts were presented as off-the-cuff comments in
my class. (Given what I was told about watchouts, I added the cynical the part
about protecting the government from tort, although this also was hinted at
by one of my structural ff instructors.) 

I generally think my FF1 class has been excellent, but have been shocked in
different moments by comments made in the last 2weeks. I would have thought
that discussion would have revolved around how to never put yourself in a position
to use a fire shelter. Instead, I find the instructor blaming the people who
got burned over or killed for not using them correctly, AS IF THAT'S THE PRIMARY
ISSUE in the context in which it was mentioned! Would the proper use of fire
shelters have saved those at Storm King. I don't know. On Christmas afternoon
(see miscellaneous pictures), I stood there in the height of the wind. The fuels
were cool then. I can imagine the preheat on a hot windy July afternoon. Preheated
flashy fuels burn the hottest, don't they? Seems to me that if glue were to
ignite, it likely would have on that afternoon, even if shelters had been deployed
correctly. But in class when I mentioned this and the study described at the
Div Chief's Mtg that indicate fire shelters shouldn't be relied on in certain
situations, my comments were brushed off. I need to reread the South Canyon
report about fire shelters. I know recent research shows that direct flame contact
causes the release of flammable glue vapors that may ignite inside the shelter.
See http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/deployment.shtml . 

What tipped me over the edge yesterday were additional instructor comments.
"You don't have to pass S-190 to get picked up by CDF", and "CDFers don't often
make handline 'cause there are 11 convict crews (in this 200 mi-long part of
northern CA) to do that; and new hires work on engine crews". (I know that USFS
hires those who don't yet have S-130 or S-190, but these courses are REQUIRED
for redcarded FF1, aren't they? If CDF hires some of the guys in my class who
haven't passed S-190, when will they get fire behavior training again? They'll
have CDF FF-certs of some sort. What are CDFs agency policies for passing S-190
before going to wildland fire incidents? If "safety policies are agency policies,"
will my guys end up on the fireline this summer without having any more education
in fire behavior at this level (even if this isn't really enough)???? Thoughts
about this woke me up in the middle of the night. As I said when I started posting
here in mid-Nov, I need to know how the system works and how my friends stay
safe from the ground up and the top down.

Friends who have e-mailed, thanks for all the links and stuff to study up. I
have already read most of that information except for Kelly's. 
. She says that the instructor is technically correct in saying that no one
who has deployed a shelter properly has ever died. So let me ask, when did we
come to know what "properly" entailed -- after Storm King?

God knows I'm not wanting to hurt any of you with all this. I love you!!! 

I need answers that will let me sleep at night. I also don't want to just blast
my instructors or their course... Sorry if I've done the equivalent of blasting
you all instead.


04/18 mellie, 

No fire shelter will protect under all circumstances. 
They are designed to protect from radient heat, and
only to a point.  Just as a seatbelt and/or airbag
will not protect you if you drive off a 500' cliff
your shelter will not protect you under all

Other than NWCG sanctioned training/qualifications,
everything is subject to your agencies standards.  The
USFS uses A, B, and C felling qualifications while the
BLM does not.  The BLM drug tests, the USFS does not.

The 13 (now 18) situations existed well before the
country went litigation crazy.  While they might be
used in a legal defense, that is not why they were
developed.  They were developed to help keep all of us
safer at work, and that does not bother me.  6

04/18 Mellie asked,
> > Is it true that no firefighter who has deployed a shelter
> > properly has ever died from fire?

 see  http://www.wildfirenews.com/fire/articles/ted.phpl

Other info on fire shelters is at: 
  http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/alert.shtml (september '99)

Melligal also asked: 
> > > Is it true that each one of the 18 watch-outs are the result of someone being
> > burned over or hurt on a fire?

I've never heard THAT. It's true that the ten standard 
orders are, though. See history:

The 10&18 are online at:
and LCES is here:
and there's a fatality report here:

Hope that answers a few questions.

04/18 Mellie,

Trying to "properly deploy a fire shelter at the last minute (as the Storm King Mountian casualties did) can be impossible. Even the
Phrase "properly deploy" is loaded. As I recall to be "prperly deployed" a shelter should be in bare dirt or black, not to close to
combustable material, and tightly sealed to the ground to prevent hot gasses from leaking in. In less than perfect conditions it is often
very difficult to "properly deploy" a shelter. Several of the casualties on SKM appeared to be using the shelters to sheild themselves
from the wall of fire as they ran uphill...probably because the heat was so intense that thier Nomex was smoking from the radiant heat
and it was apparrent to most that due to the terrain and other factors a shelter could not be properly deployed. I encourage you to
practice deployment in a very strong wind...40mph+ and imagine how hard it would be to get and maintain a good seal...if you can get
the thing deployed at all in the 30 seconds I consider marginal deployment time.

I recently read Fire  on the Mountain..the true story of the South Canyon fire by John N. Maclean. The writers father Norman
Maclean wrote the classic account of the Mann Gulch Fire Young men and Fire. Considering that an average of 14 of us die each year
on wildfires I would encourage each of you to read these books. They stress the importance of NOT FOLLOWING ORDERS
MINDLESSLY! In both instances the agencies responsible for the circumstances leading up to the deaths blamed the dead for
ignoring their own judgment and following the orders given by their superiors. It appears to be SOP for fire fighting organizations such
as the BLM and USFS to quickly conduct an “investigation” which exonerates themselves of any responsibility in firefighter deaths.
Nearly all of the investigations that follow, both private and government sponsored are not so “kind”.Personally I found the reports
issued by those who might be held responsible significantly far less credible than the INDEPENDANT reports later issued by OSHA.
Apparently I was not alone as several of the USFS and BLMs’ own investigators refused to sign the “findings” issued by their
organizations because they felt there was a rush to assign blame anywhere but within the issuing organizations themselves? Compared
to the OSHA report the USFS/BLM report was a self serving whitewash at best and a botched coverup at worst.  No one was
surprised when the USFS report found that those who died were blamed for failing to follow the their own best interest and refusing
their Incident Commanders orders to build fireline which was clearly contrary to safety considerations. In fairness to the IC he was
desperate to control a fire which would have been put out at less than an acre if  either the BLM or the USFS had been following their
own directives and/or actually cooperating with each other. He requested resources which were available  but being “hoarded” due to
interagency non-cooperation despite direct orders and written agreements formulated by his superiors' superiors. There were several
opportunities over a period of days to put out the fire while it was small but eventually they were forced to take unnecessary chances
to put out the fire...and they died for their heroic if misguided effort. I have personally been ordered to do the same “stupid fireline
tricks”. It does not happen every day, but it is not uncommon. 
 The OSHA report found that the 14 unnecessary firefighter deaths occurred due to the “interagency rivalry, lack of communication
between the folks on the fire and their “supporting” agency(s), and the indifference of those in charge to the needs of those in the field”.
None of these critical contributing factors have changed significantly since then...those sitting at the top don’t value the input of those
doing on the line. Meanwhile a federal report just recently  pegged interagency cooperation at a new low. Great!
Having thus avoided bearing the responsibility  for the 14 deaths by blaming it on the dead themselves (who could not defend
themselves and whose next of kin were not given the opportunity to do so in the report) the “absolved agencies” then “solved” the
problem by requiring all firefighters to constantly have a “fireshelter and attend refresher courses each year to remind them that they
will be ultimately held responsible for their own death and what they can do to avoid it if possible. In the courses taught to raw recruits
as well as these refresher courses firefighters are told to refuse orders they feel place them in unnecessary danger. In reality they are
often belittled and reprimanded when they do...and see others that do so too often,fired. What is really being taught by those in
Nothing is really being changed to make smokechasers safer...but having implemented these “additional safety measures” top
management can now more easily deny that they have any responsibility for mass firefighter deaths in the future. Although vastly
improved fire shelters have been developed those “at the top” have decided that the cost/benefit is not worth implementing the change
to “new” technology. When it comes to firefighters last hope of surviving an unexpected and otherwise horrible death..30 year old
technology is “good enough” in the opinion of those who in addition to making the decisions will never have to depend on it for staying
alive. In the blast of a firestorm which can knock a strong man to the ground and than cook him before he can again rise smokechasers
call these old technology “fireshelters”  “shake and bake” for very good reasons. They are nearly impossible to hold down or deploy in
the wind blast which immediately precedes a burnover and the thin aluminum reflective coating degrades even while stored unused in
its’ container. When the reflective property of this layer is compromised the fire fighter depending on their “shelter” is rewarded with a
slow agonizing death rather than the quick one earlier described. The lame excuses which will be presented in the next round of
firefighter deaths by those who are really (ir)responsible should not be allowed to stand.

Dana Linscott

04/18 pulaski,

I have seen the movie you mentioned, but can't remember the name of it. Yes the the film was shot with Bear Divide IHC. A friend of mine
was on the crew while it was being done and managed to be included in it. It's worth a look, it's your basic wildland documentary. A lot of
the footage was shot on the Narrows fire on the Angeles. 


If fighting fire is what you want to do than do it! Listen to your heart not other people, only you know what is right for you. I my self passed
on a job with a state agency in another state for for my own reasons. Most will call me crazy or stupid it was a year round position with full
beni's and good pay. I was already forging ahead in another job, had a house in escrow and a 17 month old daughter. Do it while you can
and keep applying for permanent jobs. Persistance pays off it did for me unfortunatly a little to late, I was called for an interview over a year
after I had applied.


04/18 Everyone, a few questions (I'm a little upset): 

Is it true that no firefighter who has deployed a shelter properly has ever
died from fire? And thus, if one deploys a fire shelter correctly it will protect
the person? Is it true that the Storm King hotshots, jumpers and helitacks who
died did not deploy their shelters properly (and they would likely have lived
if they had)??? I need to go back to my Division Chiefs' Workshop notes and
look at the data on fire shelter temperatures and melting glue. That even was
a warning in our BigBar Complex IAPs. Anyone have a reference for that research
that was done in Canada? I'll check my sources too.) 

Is it true that on an interagency incident that CDF employees do not have to
have special certifications (like being red-carded as a Class Whatever faller)
to act as fallers on the incident? L.L., in Denny you were so damn strict that
a couple of times I wanted to go at some of those trees with my own chain saw!
Is it true that if I had been CDF, I could have? I was told in my class today,
"'safety policies are agency policies' and we don't make the FS wear breathing
apparatus and shrouds". (I wasn't even being argumentative or coping an attitude
<not even a little madonna smile> when I made a comment in response to the NWCG
film on tools. Please, I don't mean to be devisive with my friends in USFS and
CDF, I just need to know if I'm operating under some misconceptions. 

Is it true that each one of the 18 watch-outs are the result of someone being
burned over or hurt on a fire? Seems I said this in partial jest one time early
in my visits to theysaid about the watchouts existing to protect the government
from litigation--but is this really true??? What a f***ed up set of rules if
they exist only or even primarily to protect the gov't from tort! Maybe we need
to rethink this. 

40% of my FF1 class failed S-190 and often 50% fails it. (I probably got the
highest grade, but I have the most experience, too.) I understnd those percentages
are true of the S-190 taught by the FS as well. I'm asking questions and thinking
on that one. Why? Those of you who teach this class, what are your rates of
failure? These guys who persevere in my class (16 out of the 41 who started)
are smart and know how important this info is for their survival... They're
motivated to learn it... Why did they fail? 

This all makes me feel pretty crummy...     Mellie 

04/18 Boo,      Sorry to hear about Lamar.   My thoughts are with him and his
family.   unfortunately no one can be prepared for freak accidents like

   My family lost a dear friend this last week.  Dave Wilcox was killed in
Baja  while riding his Harley.    His family crews my engines with me.   He
will be missed.

   going to Winnemucca this weekend for engine inspections.    So ill get to
see firsthand how the conditions are ooking across much of the west.
later all, and BE SAFE

04/17 We buried Lamar Y'Barbo last Tuesday April 11th. I was going to write
after I got home from the services, however I got dispatched to Florida
for the 15,000+ acre fire they had near Naples.

Lamar was riding a four wheeler, while doing a prescribed burn on the
state forest. As he was firing out a line he ran over a small log and
flipped the four wheeler back on top of himself. Because the back fire
was starting to get close he started trying to kick the four wheeler off
of himself. During his kicking the four wheeler the gas cap came off and
soaked his nomex.

He was life flighted to the hospital in Houston with burns over most of
his body. First reports were very promising, however he had more lung
damage than the doctors first thought.

Lamar was 54 years old. He had worked for the TFS for 9 years as a
forest technician. He served as a fire chief for the local volunteer
fire department and was a former Green Beret. Fire Departments from all
over southeast Texas attended the funeral.

A full investigation report is still being worked on at this time. I'll
send it to Ab as soon as it becomes final.

04/17 Tiny,
There is no dishonor in asking hard questions.

There is honor in answering them.

This is an easy one.  Look at your family history.  If there's any bad backs, knees, ankles, feet, shoulders, etc. in the group, finish the
degree.  Then explain to your loved ones that you plan on having fun for the rest of your life and go back into fire.  It's good to have a
safety net if your body chooses your career path for you in ten years.

Any name you come up with for whatever it is I do couldn't be any worse than what my non-fire friends call it.

Yet another Tim (formerly Space Cowboy)

04/15 The other Dave,

I too have stood in front of more than one Basic Fire School and other fire suppression training sessions and become passionate and
emotional.  I am glad to hear someone else say they were deeply moved by South Canyon and are not ashamed to admit it to the world.  I
am sure there are more than a few that will read your note, and this note, and think "What a couple of wimps".  I have no problem with that
because I also know "Real men do show passion and it can be to the point of shedding tears in public"!  I know some will consider this
bordering on sacrilegious and I feel sorry that they are unable to display emotion in public.  They might find life in general would be much
less stressful and alot more fun if they showed those around them (including those at home) that they do have a heart and do care for those
around them very much.  No, I do not advocate being a "Crybaby" but emotions can be a powerful teaching tool in a classroom/training
environment as long as it comes naturally and is not some show you have conjured up.  People will see thru that very quickly. 

A couple years I would start fire school promptly on time by turning out the lights and playing the ABC Turning Point video made a week or
so after South Canyon.  Once it was over I would have the lights brought up and go into my feelings from 4/6/94.  The cadre noticed we had
no problem holding their attention for the rest of the week. 

One other time we were teaching a Task Force/Strike Team leader class and the Course Coordinator told me he had two structural fire
people in the class that tought they did not need to be there to be qualified TFLD/STL and it was a waste of time.  Went home and took
about 15 minutes of the Turning Point tape, edited it to another tape and came back for the unit I was to teach. Started out my speal with
"Understand there a couple of people that feel they do not need this class to go on the line and supervise people"?  Ran the tape, looked at
the two individuals and, told them with a bit of passionate anger "If you still feel you do not need this class, you need to get the hell up and
leave.  You are wasting my time, the cadres time, and your fellow students time, and placing people in danger!"  They did not leave
and stopped whining for the remainder of the week.  I don't normally single out people in public; but, felt under the circumstances it was

So, to "The other Dave", passion in the right place and correct quantities is an excellent aid to teaching and release of feelings.  Keep up
the good work and stay passionate Bro!!


04/15 For the board:

Just a random thought....with all the media attention these last few years (both good and bad) and the many wildfire related books, movies etc Im
wondering if the shot crews have better recognition with the general public that they are a fire crew? ...just wondering as I wish I had a buck for every
time somebody said that they thought we were a softball team or something back in the 80's.

...Just saw the smokejumper documentary put out by the national smokejumper association(?).  I Thought it was excellent. Was interesting to see and
many of the pioneers in the smokejumper program that I have read about. There was also interesting interviews with robert sallee the last survivor of
mann gulch and erik hipke from storm king.

...I also just saw an article about a person who made a movie about the hotshot program. It was in the latest issue (first since their reorg) of WILDFIRE.
Cant remember the persons name, but he worked right along side a southeren CA crew (I think it was bear divide) for a couple of seasons gathering info
and footage.  Has anyone seen this yet and care to spit out the opinion of it?


04/15     All that safety talk is good. Safety is important.  But let us not lose 
sight of the main objective, stomping out fires.  In the 70's it was "Keep 
one foot in the burn" , or "Double lunch and hook it".   Now days it sounds 
more like "Drop back and punt" or  "File a greivance"  What's going on 
anyway?   ~JAFO~

Good people are being burned or dying following some of the old ways, there are lessons to be learned for those willing.  Ab.

04/15 Have just received this post dated 03/30, must assumed it was stuck in my ISP mailer for a while.  Apologies, Ab.

Ab and all,
  I just learned today the Tx Forest Service had a FF critically burned on the 13 of March.He succumbed to his injuries on the 7th of April.
 The only details I have gotten so far are that he was working a Prescribed burn and an ATV overturned and burnt him.
 Perhaps Boo can shed some more light on this as he gets time.I wish to extend my condolences to the family and fellow firefighters in this time of
darkness.Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they begin the healing process.I do know how they feel.
   Stay safe,Keith

04/15 Ab,

    My instructor, who the hard working instructor he can be, just got back to me on email, he said my paper was very interesting, and he's
looking forward to how I'm going to present it in a few weeks. He's given me a bit of favorism for creative use of the assignment and
completion far ahead of schedule, which is nice. 

    That being said, I've decided that I might as well allow you to review the document, and if you like it and wouldn't mind giving it a home
here, I'd be honored to see it in your document collection, that and I hope that I've done you, and the rest of the wildland fire community
proud, by providing a truthful and accurate 'general overview' of who we are, what we do, how we do it, why we do it, and what we do and
don't like about our jobs. All right, I'll admit to being a bit presumptuous about the inclusive pronoun bit, but after all the stuff brought about
by this project, I feel a little more closer to standing on some mountain top somewhere, looking out over an island of black in a sea of green.
hopefully this will be the first of many 'official' writings I do on this topic. My "goal" for this peice was to inform the public, and hopefully sway
some attitudes to the favorable side, and hopefully they could see through the smoke and ashes that we all are just Human.. more than
capable of error and on the same token, more than capable of making an important contribution. Maybe some day down the line it will be a
publication in mass media somewhere, but for now I'll be content with my own classmates knowing what I have done, and sharing the credit
with you all. 

    Also, I hope that this peice is a part of the answer to one of my favorite rhetorical questions: "If Prometheus was worthy of the wrath of
heavan for kindling the first fire upon the Earth; How ought all the Gods honor those men and women who make it their professional
business to put it out?"

    I hope you enjoy this as much as I did writing it, even through the rough times and tough questions.

Tiny, the Region 6 Firepup

Thanks Tiny, it's not an easy task defining wildland firefighters, but you've done very well.  I'm sure the readers will enjoy and appreciate your paper as much as I do.  I'm happy to give it a permanent home here in the Docs section.  Readers can find it here:  Dragon Tamers  Ab.

04/15 Here's a few new photos I've been waitiing for a rainy day to post, my thanks to the senders for their patience, a smany of you know we were a little busy last week.  Three new pics on the Heli2 page from Mellie's visit to the Franklin Fire, very nice Mellie, the exhaust on the skycrane looks like a very nice place to mass roast weenies.  One new pic from Martin from the Robinson Fire, same forest last week.  It's wallpaper size and quality (might need to stretch it a bit on the sides for 1024 rez), so it's around 340k, and a nice pic from Hickman.  The last two can be found on the new Heli3 page.
Enjoy, Ab.
04/14 Tom,

Well said!


04/14 In the spring of '92 I had to deal with a fellow firefighter who had given his all for the good of the order, although I was a Medic in Viet Nam I
was never quite so affected by death as I was affected by this one. 
I had always thought that 'No one will die on my shift ' or ' no one will die on my Division' but it did happen and it is tough.  People are not
supposed to be caught by fires in the wildland, there is no reason to give it all up for an acre or a thousand acres. It just didn't make sense.
Afterword I went back to the forest and attempted to put on the yearly fire school just as we had done for years. I did it but it was tough, I'm
sure some of the younger firefighters thought I was nuts for being so passionate about being safe on the fireline. I am still very passionate
about safety and try to make everyone else aware of fires' ugly side. 
A few years later, 94, in the Northen Rockies a very similar hillside and very similar fuels brought back the tragic day.  I hiked up to the head
of the crew and stood defiantly trying to keep from running in fear, I stood there chest out, chin forward and attempted to bring my fear under
control. I may ahve succeded
I am telling you all now that we all need to follow the 10 Fire Orders, Remember the 18 situations, follow the downhill line construction
checklist, and use Lookouts,be Aware, have Communications, Escape routes and Safety zones. (LACES).
We are beginning another fire season in North America and I don't want to lose anymore of our brave friends. Please be very, very careful out
there. There is a line in the song, American Pie it goes, ' cause fire is the devil's only friend'.  I believe it to be true!
Later, Dave (the other Dave)
04/14 Rochelle, who said you have to make a choice and pick one or the other, your education or fire? Why can't you do both, alot of people have
spent their summer vacation's fighting fires and their off season going to school. Granted it may take longer.....I just hate it when someone
tells me, I have to make a choice..... It is true, school will always be there, but, sometimes its harder to find your way back to it. 
04/13 Hi all--
Got this off the Southern Area morning report for 4/13/2000.

"MERRITT FIRE – This 15,500-acre fire is located south east of Naples. The Media/Information Center can be contacted at
941-348-1700, xt 113. It was discovered on Monday, 3/10/00 and is 50 percent contained. A Division Incident Command Team,
Army National Guard, local firefighting agencies, Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Big Cypress National Park personnel, and
Asheville Hotshots are among the 210 people working on this wildland fire. A wind shift yesterday afternoon pushed the fire back into
burned areas. Equipment being used on the fire includes five helicopters, three fixed-wing aircraft, seven fire engines, four swamp
buggies called “panthers,” and eight water trucks. 
This wildland fire has destroyed 1 home, two trailers and some hunt camps. On Wednesday a fire engine was burned over, though the
two operators escaped harm. At this time, the fire’s cause is under investigation. This fire is burning in cap-rock terrain, where volatile
saw palmetto bushes and cabbage palm trees grow. "

I don't know anything more than this... does anyone else have any more info on what happened?
I've been stuck in the debate about whether to stick around and finish my degree in academia, or to get back out into the woods and
with all of you playing with fire again, and I'd have to say that the last few posts can be real tear-jerkers.  It's hard to sit outside and
watch, when I'd rather be back in the field.  They tell me that I have to decide to commit to a degree, or to fight fire, and I'd say I
know where my heart is, and it's not at the university.  I know whenever I read about something like this on a sit report and in the small
world of fire, it scares the hell out of me to wonder who it is and how shook up they are.  It bothers the hell out of me me to sit around
and study fire, and not to be around when the real learning gets done.
I think you raise some good questions Tiny, even if it is a tough subject to talk about.  You started a series of posts that make you
slow down a little and think.  It looks to be a tough season, and it's good to be heads up and to keep your wits about you. 
Good luck to all of you, and I hope I end up joining you again this year-- (despite the advice of almost everyone I know... Of course,
if I listened to them, I'd have been in an office 5 years ago and by this time would be thoroughly addicted to whatever anti-depressants
my psychotherapist might have prescribed... : )

(formerly the firechick, which just isn't very original...)

04/13 Melliegal said "Thanks Tom."
and added: "I know I'm not alone in wishing I could actually give you a
big hug." 

She's so right; there's a herd of us.
And Ab said, "Ditto from Ab."

Well, ditto from the webgoddess, too.

book by a fine human being who happens to be a  smokejumper. Murry
Taylor recounts his three decades parachuting out of planes and fighting
WILDFIRE. Murry now has a web site at: http://www.jumpingfire.com./

The rotor heads next door
ps: I still think there's better ways to get to a fire.

04/13 Mr. Shepard,

I find it hard to write this response. I first read your words this morning, April 13th at around 5:30, and was instantly in shock. I can't help but
feel humbled and speechless, and at the same time, being put 'at ease'. In honesty, when I had seen the error of my question being posted,
I dreaded the entire reader base seeing it. I feared rebuttal, for the question as in hindsight it seemed a little cold and removed and devoid of
any emotion. I was a nervous wreck, expecting to have inadvertently stepped on someone's toes and unleashing fury far greater than this
world can ever provide. A few of the earlier responses here calmed my concern a bit. However, Mr. Shepard, you were among the last
people I expected to respond at all, much less in such a professional manner, to what must be a very personal matter. Your response,
along with those of others who have the same gift, has strengthened my long standing observations, documented in the project that is now
entering its final stages of completion. My deepest thanks to you, sir, and the others, who have allowed a pup to hang in there, despite
being overly curious, and who took the time to take a deep breath and answer the pup's questions, when no one forced them to. Hat's off to
you all.


P.S. This bit is mostly for everyone, The project, as it draws close to completion, runs 1,956  words. I'll be happy to furnish a copy of it
here when it's done, as this is your project as much as it is, if not more than it is, mine. Thanks again to: AZ Trailblazer, you better not stay
out too long; Firehorse, for putting up with my constant requests for clarification; RJ, for giving the perspectives from a new firefighter to your
present position; the pair of dispatchers for humor and the 'all angles' info; Hickman, for some links and such; Mellie, for editing me into
literacy; Ab for putting up with my next-to-psychotic guilt trip; and Of course to all who responded to the erroneous posting, for dealing with
a partial 'outsider' with such professionalism. Stay safe out there, even if only so I can have chance to have the honor of meeting some of

04/13 Thanks Tom. 

I know I'm not alone in wishing I could actually give you a big hug.


Ditto from Ab.

04/13 Hey AB,

The MN DNR set up a forum site. I would encourage your contributors and lurkers to check out the Wildfire Fighters Forum at
I don't think the DNR expected this type of free discussion on thier own site.

04/12 Tiny,  No apologies necessary.  I can't speak for anyone else, but I for one 
was not offended by your tough question regarding death on the fireline.  Its 
a question that we would rather not think about, but maybe we should.  I hope 
it got some folks thinking of how they would handle it if they were close to 
that type of situation.  I don't believe anybody really knows until that
moment arrives.  I think someone on the forum already suggested that there is 
no answer, and I agree.   This isn't easy for me but I will speak bluntly 
here, if a fireline fatality were to occur, and I certainly hope that doesn't 
ever happen again, those firefighters who lost a buddy will come face to face 
with your question(s).  Each will have to answer it in their own way.   When 
we got back from South Canyon, I didn't think I would ever fight fire again. 
 We took on these questions of yours, and also came up with some of our own. 
At each funeral, I asked myself what this crewmember would want us to do.  I 
couldn't come up with any answers.  We had a CISD after we got home that 
helped immensely.  The one in Grand Junction had been a disaster.  When I 
finally got home, I started building a fence, hoping I would find some 
answers in each posthole, or at least one of the postholes.  I didn't. 
Meanwhile, seven of the 10 survivors wanted to go kick ass on some fires. 
Two of the survivors opted not to.  Old Ironguts, one of the best firemen 
that ever swung a pulaski, volunteered to take those yahoos on and honor 
their wishes.   I stayed home and built a fence, still finding no answers.  A 
very good friend of mine took me golfing, sort-of.  We talked, he convinced 
me that going back out and fighting fire would be good for me, and good for 
the fire community.  On August 1st, eight surviving crewmembers plus two 
ex-crewmembers plus Ironguts, joined forces with the Redmond Hotshots and 
went to fight some fire.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done.  We were 
assigned to an incident that was in mop-up stage, then after one shift, were 
sent on a couple of new starts where there was actually some flame.  I was 
scared shitless, but I had some good buddies there supporting me and my crew 
and we got through it.  Redmond had a photo-journalist fella running with 
them that kept trying to look into my soul, but I never let him in.  I didn't 
sleep a wink for about three days.  We went on to several more fires after 
that, and I was truly inspired at each by the tremendous support from our 
fellow firefighters, and the great comments like "we're sure glad to see you 
guys back out here fighting fire".  Well, we couldn't have done it without 
that support, I'm sure. 

The following year, all eight of those survivors came back to help rebuild 
the crew.  I was deeply moved.  A couple of them are still with the 
Prineville crew today, others with other crews, or getting on with other 
careers.  For eight of us, fighting fire again was a means to an end.  For 
two, not fighting fire, at least right away, was their means to an end.  I 
have the utmost respect and love for each of them, no matter what their 
choice.   Most of us found some answers, probably none the same.  Some may 
still be searching.  Some of the answers I've found have generated new 
questions, so here I go again, looking for answers.  For me, the place to 
find those answers is the fireline.  For others it may not be. 

If you're looking for a good moral here, there isn't one.  Just that the 
choice should and will be up to each individual involved, to determine for 
themselves whether or not its time to form up and go back to the fireline. 
I'm glad I had a choice, and I'm forever grateful that me and my crew were 
supported enough by management to allow us a choice.  I know I made the best 
choice I could possibly make. 


04/12 I've used the terms 'rotorhead', 'earthpig' (hotshot),'hose jockey'
(engines),... etc. to describe myself when I did my stint through those
positions.  Most of us have served in all those capacities at some point
in our careers, and have a deep appreciation of the unique skills needed
and difficulties faced whatever the specialty.  Crews have friendly
competitions with each other, and the 'disparaging pejoratives' are
mostly just good natured jousting with old friends when we cross paths
on a mountainside or in camp.

You may occasionally encounter some sensitive sorehead who objects to
the slang terminology, but keep it light and in a friendly manner you
shouldn't have any bad reactions.  After all, you may be on that crew


You're right as rain Dave, which is just what happens to be coming down where I am tonight.  That's ok, a couple days of north winds will put things back as they were

Regarding intercrew rivalry and nicknames, I always encouraged it and still like to see it.  During each fire season I always felt it my job to instill the belief in my crewmembers they were an integral part of a superior unit.  As a crew supervisor, I've gloated as a member of my engine (slug) crew kicked butt on the handcrew during weight training.  Then again, I have proud memories of my dirtpig handcrews dusting an entire engine slug crew during a five mile shared run and I remember when a primadonna hellislacker on one of my helitack crews kicked an entire groundpig and engines crew's ass during another run.

Call 'em all what you want when they ain't around.  My point is. . . unless you've been where they have and walked in their boots, you call 'em Sir or Ma'm!  Ab.

04/12  FYI, the state of Florida enacted the Southeast States mutual aid compact
this week in anticipation of requesting out of state resources for fire
suppression. Looks like some tractor plow strike teams may be rolling south
before long...........speedo
04/12 Hey all,

This may be my last posting for a few days or a few weeks. We have picked up 
5 new large fires here in R-3 in the last 24 hours, and things are looking 
up!! Most of the fires are lightning starts from this wierd front that came 
through and sparked some dry strikes.

Prescott Shots are back (from North Cali) for the mando 2 days off, then 
being reassigned to the next one( most likely in R-3). AZ State is picking 
up on some federal requests and our engines are getting ready to deploy in
the next 12-24 hours. I haven't seen this much excitement around the station 
since '96.

Stay safe!

AZ Trailblazer

04/12 Ab,
Seen were someone was wondering about 'Ash Kickers' and ran across this post 
at another spot...

Hi everyone , I just wanted to say thanks to everyone we have had the 
opportunity to work with and for over the past 12 years. I have sold all 
(#7) of our stations, Florida , California , Idaho, Nevada, Arizona , Oregon 
and Missouri including 19 engines and 13 tenders. The name Ash Kickers will 
stay out here on the West coast and was sold to the individuals who bought 
engines and tenders. I am kickin backnow . I bought a fishing magazine, not 
just one but the entire magazine publication :)
Stay safe sincerely
Dave Pitts
If ever you need anything just drop me an e-mail at: 

04/12 Hi Ab and All -- 

MTWO, great commentary on the Rains Report! The Rains Report line you quoted
also came as close as it could to saying that we need someone(s) with BALLS
in Washington!!! Are they starting to listen to all of us???  (I was also surprised
to hear about early emergency funds being available when I was at Red Bluff
camp last week. Did the WO do that? If so, good for them! Now what about 100%
MEL?) Finally, I also agree that it would be good to find out what candidates
support fire and vote for those. For those of you who still want to read the
report, go to the quick download site: http://www.wildfirenews.com/fire/rains/

Dear "no longer a PUP" glad you're finally here. (Good to hear from a CO used
to go Lurker and others last month.) I also think National Incicdent Managment
Teams are further along in the works than we might realize. I wish it weren't
so, without much more planning and really pushing for 100% MEL. It makes so
much sense to see what adequate funding would accomplish before we leap off
into a totally new system. And, as @ said, it's a shell game with people: where
are we going to get more trained-up fire people? This last fire showed me that
there are 2 northern CA Type 2 teams who can get streeeeetched pretty thin.
Members of those teams-- will they stay on their home forests and IA or do they
join a NIMT? If they stay on their forests for IA, who do they pull on for added
man/womanpower when their forest goes up in flame? Can we look at the proposed
NIMT system putting in some real-life possibilities to see if it's even really
feasable? What are the new problems we just don't forsee? For those of you who
still want to read the Jacobs Report or see what the 11 issues are, check here:
http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/news.shtml In my estimation, proper funding would
solve at least 8 or 9 of the 11 issues!

On a lighter note... Thanks for the e-mail and posts regarding helo jargon.
Interesting world, interesting words. So here are a few more that someone told
me about: sliders (rapellers, I presume) lawn darts <smerk> and leapers (both
must be jumpers!). Sorry guys, just reporting and trying to learn! Is there
competition between these two groups? Kinda dumb question, eh? Must be.  A rapeller
probably came up with the "lawn dart" term. One of the strike team guys who
stayed at Five Waters (our ranch and my hotmail address, but not a pseudonym,
WP), while the Onion and Megram fires burned down around us was a former smoke
jumper. Nice guy, very chivalrous. Andy, man, if you're reading, I don't mean
to slur you or your mates! (Hey AB, do we need a glossary list? Just kidding…
REST YOURSELF! Throw some beef on the barbi, chill with your wife! RECHARGE!
As you once told me when I needed to hear it, listen to the body's message that
resting up is important! And that goes for all the rest of you out there who
burned out a little with all the Northern CA fires! We need you safe and healthy!)

Doug, I aced S-190. That info is important for survival on the fireline. We'll
see about S-290 and S-390, etc. 

FYI, there will be something coming out soon with more helicopter pictures.
AB will link to it, wont'cha, AB? 

Later --

04/11 OK, I may be late to the discussion...but Tiny got me to thinking about the worst. I have been on a MN fire where a firefighter dropped...older guy, in full structure gear....I was 20' away, second to get to him. He was not breathing and despite our best attempts (we continued CPR until he was hauled away by an ambulance) he died.  We went back to fighting the fire...never any counseling...nothing. He was a volunteer firefighter who responded in a rural MN  area that responded to the wildfire as they all do.

MN still boasts that it has never had a fatality on a wildfire. In fact in the USFS report Wildland fire fatalities in the US 1990 to 1998 MN is listed as one of the few states that did not have a fatality on a wildfire during that period. I personally, very personally KNOW that is not true. Who actually keeps track of these figures? Is there any check on accuracy? I know there isn't in MN.

I know it is off the track...but I felt compelled to ask.

04/11   Before, the fires on the Mendicino, I had read the "Policy Implications of Large Fire Management" A Strategic Assessment of Factors Influencing Costs:
The Executive Summary.  And my initial reaction was too laugh, not at the contents of the report, but at the fact that an examination of the incidents, in
this case the Kirk and Big Bar complexes was even called for. It seems ironic, that we'd spend more money to research why we spent 178 million to
contain these fires.  To me it seemed, obvious, as to what the findings would be. Money, the little we are given to prevent these big fires and the huge
amount we spend to put them out. If we had more money to begin with, maybe we wouldn't spend so much in the end.
  Some of the factors that were found to play a part in these incidents were, hot dry weather, smoke inversions restricting air ops, rugged terrain,
wilderness and its policys, heavy fuel, limited access, shortage of type I crews and lack of performance of type II crews, disparity in firefighter pay, lack of
red carded personnel, these seem to be givens, we've seen it before.  And several of the  major recommendations to improve the overall fire management
program nationally, included, emphasis on the National Wildland Fire Management Policy's key points, ie; preparedness, prevention, suppression,
planning, wildland fire and use of fire, administration and employee's roles, safety,  we've seen this before too.  With solutions  to increase initial and
extended attack resources, implement aggressive fuel management, update fire managment technology, etc. it simply all just boils down to more money in
the fire budget and developing long term strategy's with that money.
  The report says that the cost per acre for these complexes compare well, historically to the averages. And that these should be viewed as indicators of
what the future will hold, inless changes are made, now. So, historically, they weren't any more expensive than  the big fires in the 70's, and were't they
indicators, and all the seiges of the 80's weren't they indicators, as well? Budget cuts are simply a fact,  your yearly budget will  most definately be smaller
than last years, how can we do any better than we are doing right now? We are doing the best we can, with what we have. 
  The real findings, the most important of all this research, was the last statement in the report. That "the agency does not seem to have the will to make
the necessary policy, funding,  and organizational adjustments to ensure that fire managment is positioned to be the effective, cost efficient program it
needs to be for the 21st century." The final and most important finding, was to "reestablish the fire management program as top priority within the
  Well, with the onslaught of fires, in the last ten days or so, escape burns, lightning...yes, lightning fires already, it appears, KNOCK ON WOOD, that
perhaps someone finially got it. Bringing in resources, such as the out of region Hot Shot crews that are staffing N.Cal areas, CWN helicopters contracted
to cover helitak bases, early up start at Chico air base, and even bringing on some of our own fire crews early, and it's not even mid April yet. 
  It appears that the Kirk and Big Bar complexes, and all the heated discussion and dissatisfaction with the way the fires were managed, and the lack
there of, interagency cooperation (tribal relationships, etc). Was unfortunate in itself, but on a bigger scale, it was an opportunity to make a stand, one that
said..."If you thought these fires, were a pain in the butt, remember the past and just wait...for what the future will hold if we don't do something about it
  I don't recall seeing fire serverity money..so early in the season, so for my initial laugh, I am taking it back and hoping that we just might be seeing the
begining of a change, and the initial glimmer of light, coming out of that big black budget hole...

MTWO, thanks Ab, that felt good. 

  And as a side note,  I'm not one for politics, but in the next presidential election...take the time to research and vote for who ever you think is going to
continue with beefing up the fire budgets, we've had 20 years of the axe, lets try to find someone, who is pro-fire, not just suppression but fuel reduction. Or
this report, and its findings and the possible steps that are being taken now to change things, will just become  a short lived fluke.

04/11 Tiny,

One thing you have to remember, is that in spite of
the stories that are told and embellished over the
years, fatalities are not a comman occurance in our
lives.  If you do the job long enough you will lose
friends in the line of duty, but you also have to
remember that during that career you make friends with
many many people.  I have been in the business for 25
years, have lost 6 friends in 3 separate incidents in
the line of duty, but don't know the answer to your
question.  You have to remember that the local
agencies don't have a great deal of experience in this
field, so often their response is varied. 

After South Canyon the Prineville Hotshots were stood
down for the rest of the year, though some crewmembers
transfered to other crews and continued on.  Grand
Junction Helitack was assigned to the Ute Creek fire,
a pseudo-PNF on the White River N.F. for most of the
remainder of '94 under the leadership of Jim K.  (The
old foreman, Rich T. was killed 7-6-94)  The jumpers
just continued to live the dream.

The policy on fatalities involving aircraft is to shut
down the airshow over that fire for the rest of the
day.  I guess it makes sense, but sucks to be on the
ground and lose all of your aviation support.

Dave S., I don't know anything about "Whiffs" but I
will throw this out for thought.  I am uncomfortable
with a respirator, Hot Shield, or any product that
will increase my comfort level while allowing me to
get a substantial dose of carbon monoxide.  Any filter
that does not address CO is a two-edged sword.


04/11 hi ab: thought I would let you know ,I got my first "H" of the year, not bad for NE Wash, should tell ya that we had to dig ourselves out of a huge snow dift up by our
lookout,taking a short cut over the mountian in 70 degrees
               take care
04/11 Next time any of you are wondering what to do for fun while you are just
watching the Helicopter bucket show, just check out this link for the
latest in "good clean fun". 
oldboy.  Firediving
04/11 FirePup, you asked some very interesting questions concerning the death of a 
firefighter, to some who have been through a death of a crew member your 
questions may have seemed cold and calloused.  I do understand what you were 
looking for but as you must have found out, the forum was wrong.  It has been 
over 13 years since I lost one of my crew members to a snag and it still 
effects all of us who were involved.  I was 300 miles away when it happened 
and it took me several hours of travel to get to my crews, it was not a fun 
trip, this was before we knew what CISM was.  The crews were basket cases, 
the supervisors were questioning their actions and trying to place blame. 
Back then no thought was given to the other people involved, the first thing 
that happened was an investigator from the State L&I showed up to interview 
us and started to look for someone to lay blame on.  I can tell you that did 
not make the 8 hour drive home any easier.  We now know the value of a 
debriefing and the ramifications of not considering the mental condition of 
all involved in a serious incident.

The way things were done back then is light years from our training, 
certification and record keeping now days.  The incident did change the way 
we looked at a fire, that incident, changed State and Federal Policy 
concerning the falling of snags ASAP before crews go in after IA. 

For all of you reading this, if you or any of your crews are ever involved in 
any sort of serious incident, request a CISM team, no demand a debriefing. 
It does not have to be a death or accident where someone is hospitalized.  A 
near miss, a near deployment, a quick trip to a safety zone, all should be 
considered as reasons for a debriefing.  I had the privilege to participate 
in a debriefing in 1991 and since have had training as a peer debriefer.  The 
time and money invested is minimal compared to the benefits.  Any one out 
there care to share their experiences?

Five_Waters, is that a pseudonym for Millie?  Anyway, you forgot 
Helle-Donnas, and Helli-Whiners.  The difference is that the "Donnas" don't 
do much real work but they sure do look good in their flight gear.  A whiner
usually starts about 1100 asking for more ice and cold drinks, and complain 
if  dinner service is 10 minutes late.  Have you seen the R-5 HelliTac rigs 
complete with coffee pots and microwaves?


04/11 Dave;

In response to your question regarding "WIFFS" or Wildfire Survival Gear For 
Your Lungs, as I'm sure by now, you've got all the free handouts and info on 
the product. Now, For the real story....

I recently (about a month ago) bought the "complete" unit which consisted of 
the WHIFFS mask, neck shroud, and 2 filters. I also bought a couple of extra 
filters due to the high number of wildland incidents that my fire district 
responds to. I also have used the "HOT SHIELD" for the past 6 years, with 
some mixed feelings.

As far as the "hot shield" goes, I too bought it in San Jose, back when they 
called in the "Instructors Workshop". I played with it alot during the 95/96 
fire seasons. Here in the Southwest, the thing was a little to constrictive 
and Extremly HOT, especialy on days in excess of 105*-110*. Also, I didn't 
like the way that the hot shield fit on my face, with the N92 particular 
filter mask inside the hot shield. It bothered (iritated the hell) out of my 
nose. I eventualy took out the particulate filter and just went with the hot 
shield. I haven't used my hot shield for a few year, just simply because 
that it was too hot and just didn't feel right.

In the last month that I bought the Wiffs, I have used it 14 times. Mostly 
on fast running grass and chapparrel fires on the interstate. I have found 
it to be extremly comfortable, even with the neck shroud (I also have the 
standard helmet shroud). One thing that I REALLY like is the fact that you 
cannot smell the smoke, which of course means that your not getting the 
particulates in your lungs. PLEASE REMEMBER, this device DOES NOT ELIMINATE 
CARBON MONOXIDE!!!!! You still need to be breathing at least 19-21% O2 to 
maintain functions! Now, we haven't hit any 100*+ days yet, so I can't 
really say if its going to be comfy when summer gets here, but I do like it 
so far.

I'd like to here from some other folks that have played with the WIFFS, 
especially from other than region 3.

Stay Safe!

AZ Trailblazer

04/10 MOC4546,

Thanks for the response and advice for action, which I'll follow up on, right after I write this. 

To the rest of y'all:

Some of the readers unable to have been with us for the past 24 hours may wonder 'What question?' (Although from the posted response you may be able
to discern what I had asked.) And to those who are wondering why I'm asking, allow me to make a humbled attempt to explain what happened here:

In response to my request for information for my project I've been contacted by several firefighters (some lurkers, some non), both current and retired
(naming them all would be beyond me to do in the short amount of time I have to write this...) who have willingly supplied me with their experiences and
their knowledge, once again I remind them that my gratitude is beyond words. After the initial repsonse I sent out a batch of eight or so questions dealing
with a few particulars on 'life on the line' so to speak, those who have responded to that batch, again my gratitude is extended. However, as I was writing
my presentation I ran into a wall: 'What happens if something bad /DOES/ occur?' So, I fought with it in my mind and got up enough nerve to ask about it,
and pray I wouldn't be unleashing any pent up emotions and coming off as superficial and or pessimistic. I composed and dispatched the last question to
everyone assisting, and inadvertently sent one to Ab, who being the ever thoughtful posted it as a legit unedited post. Since then, it appears the question
itself has been revoked in full, with no heartburn noticeable to anyone else, however in the brief time it was published, it appears to already have gotten
atleast one unintended reader to respond.

I'm not good at writing apology letters, or letters of explaination, or those types of things, as I fear I come off sounding cold, metallic and removed. however,
I can't help, but in light of this slight human error on multiple levels, feel slightly guilty. I extend my sincere empathy to those who have been unfortunate
enough to have been with a crew that suffered a loss while in the line of duty, and I ask, humbly, forgiveness if I sent anyone flying off into the wildness like
a broken chain-saw blade.

I tip my hat to the wildland firefighters, repeating myself from a December post; You all do one helluva job, and do it well, sometimes, thanklessly.


Tiny the R-6 Firepup

On the subject of whether I post or not, sometimes it's difficult to determine whether an email is meant for public posting or not.  To help keep it straight I advise using the Subject line to make it clear.  One reader uses "Not for Posting" or "Please Post" which works very well.  Ab.

04/10 I am a captain on a rural FD, near Santa Cruz, Calif. At the recent Fire
Rescue West 2000 show, I saw a product called Whiffs. It is similar to the
Heat Shield product I have seen previously. I am inquiring if anyone has
used this product and what you thought of it. It looks "interesting" but my
Chief has some concerns. Please reply to DavidSc@CondorSys.com or

BTW, I am requesting the manufacture let us try some out at the
Hunter-Liggett fire school this June. Nothing like the real thing for a

Thanks for your time.

Dave Scruggs
Senior Software Engineer 
Condor Systems, San Jose Ca

Captain (Probationary), Boulder Creek Fire Dept.
Boulder Creek, Ca

In response to FirePup's question regarding a fireline death. From the engine crew standpoint if a crewman were killed on the line and with
his crew in the vicinity, the crew would be replaced by another engine and crew, and the crew will either be sent back to basecamp or
back to the station, with someone else transporting them and thier engine (if the engine's not involved). When they return they will be given
counciling to deal with the loss, and then given a few days off of administrative leave to bring things into perspective. In the meantime if the
engine is at the home unit a replacement crew will staff it until the original crew returns, and a temporary replacement is assigned. If the
incident occurs at a campaign fire a crew from either the engine's home unit, from the adjoining forest, or from the incident will staff it unit a
replacement crew arrives from the home unit. Ususally in a death the home unit will take the crew off the incident and send a replacement
crew for the engine to either continue staffing the fire or return the engine with the crew to the home unit.

The waiting to re-establish the crew is variable to what happened. If one or more of the crew is killed and the engine is destroyed it could
be next season before the crew is re-established. It also depends on the circumstances of the death (Fireline vs. Natural Causes) to see if
the crew continues. I can attest that during a Strike Team Assignment years ago we came across a Head-on Traffic Accedent that
resulted in a double fatality and four injuries, all critical. When we got in we were kept off the line, the whole strike team, for two days until
they could bring in a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing team in to talk about the incident. I did not realize it at the time, but there were
many people in the team, male and female, who were having a hard time with what happened. After the debriefing we went on the line for
eight days.

As far as a specific waiting period it depends on the incident. The crew captain has aheart attack and dies it may only be a few days, but
if its a particulary grewsome death it may be some time before the crew is allowed to return to work. In this case the crew may be broken
up and assigned to other engines with a group of replacements filling in for the original crew for the rest of the season. 

I can't answer for the Shots, smokejumpers, helitact, or crews, but I have heard that if a tanker goes down the home base and the
contractor are covered for two or three days if possible by replacement staff, but when thing go hot and heavy there may not be
replacements available, and they will have to go on. 

The best thing to do would be check with your region/agency HQ and ask them what the policy is.


04/09 So what's a CWN manager? Rotor head? Dope on a rope? Rotor jocky? Which ones
of these are derogatory and which inspire pride? Any others I should know that
will keep me from being sumarily ejected from a helibase or helicopter especially
while in flight? Any suggestions for what I can read to educate myself on the
helicopter world? I'm out of my depth on this new terminology and don't want
to make any unnecessary mistakes. (Someone told me not to fall in love with
a rotor head and right now, I don't know who fits that category... yikes!)
<no name>

PS If any responses are too embarrassing to post, please send your answers to
Five_Waters@hotmail.com <grin> 

CWN. . . "call when needed".  Refers to helo's that have pre-arranged contracts, but are not on an "exclusive use" contract, meaning they are only used when there is an immediate need (large escaped fires), as opposed to those who are prepositioned and used for intial attack.  The exclusive use helo's are guaranteed a daily wage through the fire season at a predetermined time segment.  So far, exclusive use contracts are limited to Type II and III' helo's, due I suspect, to the high daily rate a Type I would demand.  Ab.

04/09 oh yeah!!  Lets see those heli pics mellie!!  you could even e mail them to 
me if you wanted.  ( I dont know if ab can give you my address without 
putting it on the sight for everyone to see) lealeigh@hotmail.com
04/09 Mellie, what is your definition of "inaccessible terrain?"  That is where
handcrews shine!


p.s.  Hugh, I ain't afraid of no pack test!

04/09 Hi again all,
I know yer probably gettin tired of me dropping these mass email messages, 
but this is a nice way to convey the same thought to all of you, and 
hopefully not a whole lot of you mind greatly...

To those who I've already sent a batch of questions to, add this one to your 
list of ones you don't have to answer. It's a tough one, and one that I 
almost can not bring myself to ask, because of it's dire matter and weighty
response. If any or all of you choose not to respond I won't hold it against 
you, as it is a very deep question. If you do not feel you are qualified to 
answer this question, and if you have a recommendation for someone who you
think is and would not mind answering too greatly, then I would appreciate 
it if you could either forward this question to them or supply a point of
contact whence I can get in touch with them directly. If you do choose to 
answer, however, I once again would be indebted deeply. That being said, 
here's my last question(s).

If a fire crew of any type (hand crew, engine, helitack, airtanker, smoke 
jumper, hot shot and whatever I've missed) suffers a fatality on the fire
line, is it a common course of action to receive replacement firefighters 
for that crew prior to the next fire that crew is assigned to, or is there a 
waiting period before re-establishing the manpower of that crew? If there is 
a wait period, how long can it last?

My apologies if any one is offended by that question(s), and once again, if 
you choose not to respond, I do not mind.

Tiny the R-6 Firepup

04/09 Hello all! Long time, no read or write; missed you all.
Good luck JMV, I just got hired by our city department as a
structure f.f. on top of wildland, and I think it took about
10 years off of my life and added a few more grey hairs to
my shaved head! Good luck, I feel your pain. I love the WFS
logo. Very classy. Any chance of making stickers?
    AZ-T... Hope to run in to you soon; as you know were a
tinder box waiting to explode. 96 degrees in April? Its
gonna be a fun season.
    Take care all! Hey, I'm serious about making stickers!
Let me know.        mp
04/09 By chance does anyone know of the URL for ashkickers and xl hotshots,
the ones I have no lnger go anywhere.....thanks...Mike

I took Ashkickers off the link page due to the bad URL, but don't know what happended to them.  Ab.

04/09 Hey Gang, 
I thought we would get a long rest this spring but as you see fire season is here !
Up front and in your face! Spent 3 days in the Mendo. at the beautiful little community of Sky Hi on the Town fire, Mellie, Im gonna run into you one
of these days, you should have come down to the camp at Stony Gorge , Believe me, its much nicer than Red Bluff !!! Our Local Gov. Eng. Strike team
+ 2 Fish and Wildlife Engines were the only game in town the 1st night doing the structure protection thing and backing up the firing operation. The
next morning we were relieved by several CDF Engines, some only staffed with operators. I heard several of the overhead folks remark that when they
got the call to respond they had to ask if this was a April fools joke...  I guess this caught everyone short as we were scheduled to be released on the
2nd morning but were re-assigned for another shift because they couldn't fill orders for 2 more Eng. strike teams. Get ready folks, I think Nor Cal. is in
for another long one this year. See Ya out there.
04/09 Ab and all...

Phew! All right, so I had said I wouldn't go another week without reading.. seems my parents had other plans. I suppose it was alright, I
had the chance to help a few ranch hands do Rx burning to clear drainage ditches on my grandparent's property. It's interesting how
quickly dried grass, cattails and other dead weeds can catch fire so easily, even though we were armed only with a box of matches to do
our burning with. The wind was a light breeze all week, and not too variable, so the fire didn't get away from us. Although if it had, an eager
pup was on the scene, equipped with a shovel. (and no, I didn't have a camera again.. I must get in the habit of carrying one!)

Back to the site: (Yes AB, aren't side-tracks fun?! referencing yer comment on 4-02.. my how the days fly..) Mellie an' Hickman: I
thought we were just kidding about the logo thing.. don't worry though I'll have something soon to keep you on your toes (right after I write
this <expletive deleted> report) And yes, that means there's a little interest Ab. It's a good idea, lets run with it. 

RJ, Firehorse, AZ Trailblazer, the Dispatcher(s) and all others (lurkers and not) who supplied the info even in my week of absence thanks
again for taking the time and helping a pup out, and don't worry Ab, if you want a copy of it too (and most everyone who's helping does) I'll
have it in three weeks or less. As a side note I've dug out the beginnings of some of my fictional creations. I'll be sorting those out and try
my hand at making a Tom Clancy-style story about (drumroll) A wildland firefighter, look for it later on bookshelves (Okay maybe not! I'm
not that good, yet.)

Have I lost the touch of writing Mellie-length posts? I think not. Am I busy? Yep Not even a full day back from my trip and already
summoned to the VFD (RFPD for Keith the ever faithful acronym watcher (Its Rural Fire Protection Distrcit, but I'm sure y'all could have
figured that out, look for it in my next update of the glossary, if Ab doesn't beat me to the punch!) , SAR activity this morning, a pair of
wayward hikers, we found them... any how that's another story for a different day...

As Ever,

Tiny, the R-6 Fire-pup

PS Did I forget to mention side tracks are fun? Maybe it's just cause I'm tired... HA!

04/09 Hello All-

Whew, last week, what a week! Northern CA was certainly burning. If you followed
the news, Mendocino National Forest had three fires, the Cabbage, the Town and
the Franklin. I was asked to take pictures for the R5 Fire internet site and
went to the Franklin Fire last Monday night. Got into fire camp at Red Bluff
Fairgrounds after midnight and threw down my mat and bag. The dive-bombing bats,
incoming lowboys, water tenders, USFS trucks and their drivers bedding down
near me woke me up from time to time, but it was the stuff of a wonderfully
surrealistic dream. Briefing at 6AM and meeting friends... Howard Carlson's
Type 2 northern CA team had come to the Franklin Fire after mostly wrapping
up the Town Fire. Luckily, the Franklin had laid down overnight and plans were
to make final containment lines in the really steep terrain.

Went off to the helibase at 9:30. Got the grand tour and some education regarding
helicopters. Thanks Larry and Terry -- and thanks Paul for letting me climb
way up into your Sikcrsky. (Didn't trust me with the keys though, did you!)
Took some photos for the theysaid collection. Check out the jet engines!  Ab,
do you want pics of the Jet Rangers and the 212's? I have a lot of photos. I'll
scan and send you some. Just say the word! (I looked for some new cool engines
for you, but all I saw was the same-old green and reds! If you haven't noticed,
folks, Ab likes engines better than helicopters!)

After the helibase, we made it up to the fire. It was behaving itself after
a strong uphill run on Sat/Sun. This was my first experience with chemise and
whitethorn, which burned like a torch! Scrubby hot fuels compared to my Shasta-Trinity
neck-o-the-woods. If temps and winds had stayed up, not much would have stopped
those fires in such steep, inaccessible terrain. 

Everyone I talked with was surprised that so many fires were burning this early
in the year. All seemed happy to be there, but could not imagine continuing
at the same pace into the summer. (It will be interesting to hear how the 24-hour
shifts worked.) On Tues eve before I left, fire had hit the Plumas and Team
1 (the only other northern CA, Type 2 team) had been called in for that. Team
2 members suddenly realized that if there was yet another fire right away, they
would be assigned to that one as part of the rotation. Most of them did not
seem ready for that!  Reality check… Could be a busy spring and summer! 

Stay safe out there!
Your roving reporter (among other things!) -- 

Way to get out there Mellie.  You've already seen more fire than most of us this year.  Tisn't true about Ab liking engines better than helo's though.  I spent two years on a helitack crew, then six years as a CWN manager, all of which created fond memories.  Ab.

04/08 JMV,

First off, congrats to you for getting the chance at testing for a position 
that you want. Regardless of what fire agency you want to work for, getting 
a firefighter's job is very hard and competetive these days, but a very 
noble one that you will gain humbleness, respect for human kind, and 
knowledge about yourself.

To help you along, I'm sending you our questions that we put our applicants 
through. Keep in mind, I work for a all risk fire district, so don't take 
our questions as those that you might be asked. These are just a sample of 
what fire agencies ask when they are looking for the "RIGHT" person for the 
position. So, here we go!!:  click here

AZ Trailblazer

Due to the length of this post, I've put the rest of it on it's own page.  This helps keep this page smaller and maintains download efficiency.  Large posts are not a problem, I encourage them if they are quality!  Thanks AZ T. . .Ab.

04/08 To engineer emmit- geeze louise- you certainly paint a bleak picture for 
someone trying to get on with CDF.   Whats your stance on schooling compared 
to experience? (Noname)
04/08 AB   Its that time of year again.   I need folks to work with me this year.

I need ENGB engine bosses,  with experience,   EMT's,  and STL qualified
definite plus.
    Pay for this position will be 200 per day + expenses.  ( I used to pay
hourly but thetas way too much math)

I also need crewpeople  FFT1,  FFT2 .   Pay is 150-180 per day + expenses
depending on experience, and quals.   No need to describe the work.   Any

they can email or call me.

Thanks AB,   also check out our new rig.  Mercedes Unimog  Four Door.  this
one will be outside Warm Springs OR.

Eric Helpenstell
253 460 7323

04/07 Hello, AB

Just passing this letter I got from the USFA about the LDD program on the
national level from the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Foundation.  I hope we 
do not have to use this resource a single time this season, but if we do, 
here is a resource to tap into.

Dean Dysart

<<This is a message from the FEMA's US Fire Administration.

The following announcement is from the National Fallen Firefighters 

Thanks to a Department of Justice grant, the Foundation has developed a 
training program to help senior fire officials prepare for the worst--a 
line-of-duty death.

For several years, the Foundation has provided ongoing support to the
families of fallen firefighters. Many families encouraged us to expand the 
outreach to fire service personnel. They feel everything that a department 
does after a firefighter's death affects how families and coworkers heal from 
their loss.

The Foundation conducted a series of focus group meetings with chiefs who had 
lost firefighters in the line of duty. Chiefs of career, volunteer, and 
combined departments from across the country participated. All of the chiefs 
said they wanted to help the survivors but often didn't know what to do or 
how to do it. 

The Foundation held similar meetings with families of fallen firefighters, 
asking them to identify what departments did that helped most.

Using fire service and family input, we developed a 6-hour training program, 
"Taking Care of Our Own," which covers pre-incident planning, survivor 
notification, family and coworker support, and benefits and resources 
available to the families. 

During 2000, the Foundation will offer the training at various locations 
across the country. The program also provides valuable materials. 

We encourage you look at an overview of the course and to download and use 
several resources, including Planning Considerations for a Line-of-Duty 
Death, Notifying the Family, the Employee Emergency Contact Information, the 
Benefits Checklist, the PSOB Program Claims Process. Other elements of the 
program will appear online in the future. 

For more information, contact the Foundation at (301) 447-1365 or visit the 
web site www.firehero.org.

04/07 Haven't been to the site in a while, but gotta say, love that FWFSA logo!!  Just in from Team deployment to Mendocino.  A combination of pre-green
up fuel moistures, coupled with dry air mass and little to zero RH recovery and an advanced north wind event resulted in dryer that normal conditions
that was/were very condusive to fire spread.  The chapparell burned totally and fire stood up in the knobcone stands.  Fast ROS and spotting.   Six, R3
hotshot crew's are now staged in the northstate and severity funding has been approved.  Even though the weather has moderated, we are fast
approaching our busy season.  Hang on and pack up.  Fun City is just around the corner.


04/07 Hey Ab, just want to say great site, I have been reading "they said" for
about two years. Can't use the PC's at work to use for posts or respond
to others and it's been killing me.  I have 37 plus years in fire and
agree 100% with smoaky. Love Mellie and think she's a breath of fresh
air.  Also enjoyed the way you nailed the guy on the MEL and budget
issue. I think we (FEDS) will start seeing some more money coming for IA
and fuels in the near future.  But watch out for NIMO I think it's
coming..........No Longer a PUP

Glad you're finally here!  Respond away. . .Ab.

04/05 Hello Ab and all.  how are you this fine eary start of a fire season?  Jmv.  they are going to ask you ? regarding how'd you deal with a situation if
somebody wore your spare uniform while you where off duty.  they left it dirty, etc.  That's one ? I remember from my oral boards.  ( I was told by a
B.C.:  whished you would of said that I'd deck the individual,  that was his wish for a canidate to do!).  Any way lots of luck. 
04/05 To JMV,
        I Had some interviews with CDF in the early 90's and was asked mostly your average situational firefighter questions. For instance
you dont get along with another person on the crew how would you handle the problem. You catch another crew member stealing from the
coffee fund. what would you do. Why do you want to work fo CDF, what do you have to offer. stuff like that. You might want to pick up a
fire fighters test guide at the library or book store and go over the oral questions in there. I didnt get hired but thats ok I was already
working for the feds. Thought the grass might be greener on the otherside. My other comment I dont want to be taken wrong ( not trying to
start any shit ), is that at that time CDF was hiring alot of women so men were having a rough time of it. I dont know your gender or care
all I can say is all the luck in the world to ya. I'm sure there are some CDF people out there with much better advice so throw it out for this

Just one more time I want the whole damn experience.

From the guy who's no longer in it.


04/05 JMV,

If you have a State Fire Marshall  FFI cert, EMT-D or better, Haz-Mat, Confined Space, Swift Water, High/ Low Angle Rescue, been to a
local community college fire academy or have spent some time as a local govt. paid call firefighter, you face an up hill battle. If you are a
college grad. with a 4 year degree of some kind, you have a chance. Sound negative? Not really. I'm trying to get the point across that
employment with CDF these days is very scarce, at least in my neck of the woods. Competition is incredible for the few jobs we have
available. All of the above certs may seem to some as absurd, but the better trained you become, the more attractive you are to the CDF.
We run so many different types of calls other than fires such as medical aids, that the better trained a candidate is, the better a chance
he/she has. Depending what ranger unit you are hired by, will determine length of employment. You can expect to work 6 to 9 months per
year. In my unit, we have been using FFIs in the county in our Schedule A contract stations. The seasonals work with an engineer or a
captain in municipal/rural areas on a type I engine. So as you can see, your chances of employment are really based on education and
training prior to being hired.
 If you don't get hired this season, keep trying with us, but don't shy away from the USFS, BLM, or NPS. They are all fine outfits worthy of
a look.
Questions? You can email me at > e89fae@yahoo.com.
Good luck!

Engineer Emmett

04/05 I was looking on one of the other wildland fire websites and
went to look up the private contractor known as Ash Kickers out
of Idaho, and could not find any of there websites or information.
Does anyone know what happened to them or where they went? Are
they still in business?


Not sure, will do some checking when I have time.  Ab.

04/05 to jmv: what'your LCES's
04/05 heres some possibl;e interview questions JMV

The ones I like to ask when interviewing,

"do you think your appropriately dressed for this interview?"

    Every prospect looks  himself over,  the guys in suits say
        "I am not sure now, "   or " i  am sorry I thought this was to be a
formal interview"

    The guys in jeans,   always say something like " I had intended to wear
a suit,   but just got out of work"

    Correct answer?    "just say  "YES,  I AM"    The board wants to see how
your going to deal with an akward situation.   They want to see how your
going to deal with the media and public.   You have to be confidenty, and
speak well.

Next questions are,

        Why do you want to fight fire?
        Are you willing to travel?

    We usually ask a situational question here, Something like

" your dispatched to a median fire, with crews already on scene.   When over
the radio calls come over the radio  of a brush fire threatening a home"

    What do you do?      answer   go to the median fire.   if they need you
on the interface fire,  theyd call  you.   They are expecting you at the
median fire.

Remember to ask questions.   Nothing peaves us more than when we have to do
all the talking.  Be personable, and respectful.   Pretend your asking a
friend about the job.   Dont center all your questions about the
compensation.   But dont leave those questions out.  Ask about the pay
scale,  unless you already know.

ask  about benefits, towards the end,   but dont end interview with
questions about it.

let them know your looking long term.
    We hate hiring guys who say  " id like to work here for a while, then
move to somewhere else."    Whats the point?   why train him if hes bailing.

If thats your plan, dont let on.  Talk long term, and let them know youll be

Bring paperwork.   References,  Training certificates, SS card, Birth
certificate.   Many times when we interview,  we need someone NOW.  it also
shows that you plan ahead and anticipate needs.

every manager here has there own questions they like to ask.  those were
just some of mine.

Good look JMV   let us know how it went.


04/05 Heard on the news that Chico Air Attack Base would open two months sooner
than usual.  Pack your bags and get your hat, looks like daddy
may be busy this year.  Local Agency Volunteer Engineer (LAVE)
04/04 Space Cowboy,

Since it was my idea, ya gonna take me with ya to Hawaii right?

Interesting about your comments on people coming to your district and knowing more than you do.  Used
to be a real bad habit for Type I teams to come onboard with that attitude.  It is getting better though as
more and more management types have put the word out that they will not tolerate such behavior on their
units.  Had a Forest Supervisor get pressured by her regional office before we even transitioned with the
local ranger district, to dump our Type II team for a Type I team since the fire was in the rugged Marble
Mountain Wilderness .  She had a bad experience with a Type I team earlier that summer and told them
no thanks, she woudl stick with us.  Brought it in under two weeks with no major injuries or incidents.
Don't know how it is now; but, back in the early to mid 90's a Type II team consistantly suppressed fires
at 1/2 the cost per acre than the Type I teams.

When I was on the area team I relied heavily on locals to accomplish the assigned tasks safely and cost
effectively.  Always tried to get a someone familiar with local weather and fire behavior if at all possible. 
One time they gave me two days to backfire 3 miles of line.  There was a local very familiar with the local
BD program assigned to the fire in another position.  Went to Plans and got him reassigned to my
Division.  Turned the entire backfire operation over to him and he did the job in 11 hours instead of two
days.  I came out smelling like a rose and put him in for a $350 cash award later that year.  If you are in
unfamiliar country/fuels, you are an egg short of a dozen not to use local knowledge.  At least listen to it
when offered; but, the final decision is still yours. 

Been on both ends of the firefighter/dispatcher job.  Would be nice if each could do the others job for two
weeks.  I know it stopped my whining about dispatchers in a real hurry.  "Dispatcher" has apparently
"Been there, done that" from her response to my earlier mail about communicating with your family. 
Knew a Divison Sup a few years ago that had a young son that would not sleep while Daddy was gone. 
Told him maybe it was time to do something else other than Operations.  Don't know what he finally did.


04/04 Hello All !    I have an CDF interview for seasonal firefighter and I was 
hoping I could get some help with possible questions I might encounter during 
the interview?
 Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks and keep safe!


04/04 Hey Ab, I just came back from Reno and saw a fire in the canyon above
Doyle Ca. I guess the BLM had a control burn and the winds picked up.
Imean the winds picked up FAST!  I had gone into Costco in Reno with no
wind and when I came out it must have been blowin about 30 mph.
Structures were threatened when I went through Doyle. I stopped to take
some pictures but my camera was dead. I watched for about 40 minutes
until my wife informed me she had breathed too much smoke. I couldnt
understand since I could hardly taste it. I havent been in fire for six
years now so there wasnt much else fr me to do but leave. It looked like
the crews had a pretty good hand on stucture protection before I left
and a copter and air tanker were there. Nothing on the news here yet.
Thoght you might like to know. Of course you might already.
04/04 Hickman,

thanks for the site on the "droughts" . Great info for us fire managers when it comes to justify'in staffing


you silly girl, I've been out on assignments already. Can't be here all the time to back ya up.....Hey! what
in the hell is going on up there in NO Cali?!?!? You guysalready took my hotshot crew away from my
area. Can I at least have them back for a couple of projects first!! :)

We were out Sunday doing a test burn, you know, take a fusee and see what he fuels are doing, right?
1/2 an acre later and here we are chasing that damn thing with a brush truck. Totally embarrasing,
considering one of my reserve firefighter's father lives across the street from the station and whated the
whole thing unfold. Well, after a couple chuckles and free Pepsi's for the crew, needless to say, after 2
inches of rain last week, we have had no green up and we're looking at 95+* temps as the week goes on.
Looks like the Southwest is going to burn good this year. I think I need a transfer to Montana!

Heading up to Flagstaff for class this week, I'll try and keep up with you all and write when I can!!

AZ Trailblazer

04/04 To pulaski, Ab and all the other fire dogs out there
I would like to ask a question pulaski brought up on his posting on 4/4.  I have been in the fire game
since '94 and I've worked rural, state and FS and the only time ego has come up was last year when I
was bargaining for my position on a state crew.  I believe that the District warden was trying to maintain a
superior godly attitude when it came down to hiring.  Needless to say I didn't get the job , but I know
some other folks who had lesser experience than me did get it.
    Now my question: When does the professionalism start and the ego trip stop?  Especially for upper
levels of authority (i.e. District manager, supervisor, etc.).  Or I am just grasping at straws?  Also how do
I get around this so it doesn't happen to me or anyone else again.  Or is image a big part of being in
the higher echelon ranks?
     I understand many mangers don't fall into this category in fact many lesser known people I've run into
come out as superpeople but aren't recognized for their efforts.  When are going to learn?  If anyone
could answer these questions and point out some good ideas or comments I'd greatly appreciate it.  I'm
getting tired of analyzing all this and trying to rationalize it . Thanks
04/04    I know where you're coming from.I try to gather info from all of you at this site and occasionally to to input a
little wherever posible.I realize that east Tx is world's away from the west coast but we all run into particular
situations that tax our knowledge and skills regardless where we are.
   I truly admire everyone that that is here at Ab's site.I've noticed a little ego every now and then,but I realize that
it part of the way of life.Another point to remember is that we all face the same fire whether we are in Tx or AK.If
we make a mistake we are going to get burnt.
   I got to fight fire with a Mn Dept.of Forestry teammember here a year or so ago and I must say that I have the
upmost respect for him.Can't remember his name though.
   I hope to stay active as as time moves on.
                         Stay safe,Keith
04/04 space cowboy,  Well, it kinda made sense. I hear ya.  I believe the problem with that "roughly half the people" is ego.  At this point in my career I feel that the day I think/feel I know everything is the day you need to quit as you are gonna hurt/kill somebody and it may be you. 

I remember when I first came back to the midwest, my only experience to that point was in a western senario (crews in mountainous terrain) and I saw a fire training video from some mid western state wheild line.  I remember laughing my ass off at "such a stipid idea"  but now, after Ive had time for the chip on my shoulder to wear off, I kinda see things in a different light.  Most agencies have been around for a long time and have developed tactics and special equipment that fits their situation.  As long as it gets the job done...and safely, that is all that counts.

On a side note with the ego thing (and I really dont want to start that string of posts again)  There are good and bad folks within every agency.  Ive always thought it would be nice if everyone would turn in their agency patches/uniforms and have any vehicles painted a uniform color at the first check-in station they come to at an incident.  We are all there for the same purpose.


04/03 Why do roughly half the people that come to my district fervently believe they know tons more about fire
than the locals?  Why do roughly half the people I work with when I move to a new state vehemently reject
any methods different than what they're used to? 
I know, I know.  I've seen/worked in some rather backwards programs and heard/offered some pretty
goofy suggestions, too.  There was this one guy from...
A couple of seasons ago I almost grew up.  Realized that I didn't actually know squat about fire
behavior/tactics/weather/politics/etc.  Boy, was my face red. 
Seems the less I think I know, the more I learn.  (Did that even remotely make any sense?)

We've tried sending our non-fire savvy dispatchers out on IA, and occasionally forcing unsuspecting
firefighters to work in dispatch when things got interesting.  Many eyes have been opened ever so slightly. 
Any guesses as to who has a great time and who gets exhausted?

Well said.  After reading your soapbox I agreed to impose upon my in-law's condo in Hawaii FOR
A WEEK IN SEPTEMBER!  It's not July, but gotta start with baby steps.  As you can see I enjoy standing
on my own soapbox; I like the view from up here.

The page is brilliant.  Sorry if I'm re-hashing old gripes, but I've only been lurking for about four months
now.  Would assist with the logo, but stick figures probably isn't the image you wish to impart. 

I lurk no more,
Some people call me the space cowboy

Thanks for the compliment and don't ever worry about re-hashing subjects.  There are a few subjects that get hit on a couple times a year, every year, and they need the exposure!  Ab.

04/03 Firehorse,

your comments brought tears to my eyes.  How often do we tell the kids
that it wont last forever, or I will be home as soon as I can, and many,
many hours go by before we get there.  In 1994 I was being a stay at
home mom, when I got the call about the Prineville crew.  That day I
received more support from my fire family than I could possibly
imagine.  I had phone calls from all over the country making sure that I
knew.  I flew home as soon as I could get a flight out.  My daughter was
6 at the time and she called me that day, she said "Mom, some of your
friends died in a fire yesterday, but Michael is ok", I can still hear
her trying to choke it out.  We talked a lot about it when I got to
Oregon.  She cried and I cried.  After that moment, I decided to go into
dispatching, at least I can go home at night.  At least in my current
position I can make sure that the crews out on the line get the
information that they need to do what they do.  We all need to take care
of each other, and ensure that each and every assignment is a safe one.
I know that most of us have gone out on the line at one time or another
and done business as usual.  I know that I have been in more than one
situation where that feeling that you get inside of your gut makes you
question why are we doing things this way, isnt there a better way.  I
was always the one on the shot crew who raise the questions.  At the
time some thought it was weak, I just thought it was my right.  Still
do, and I hope that every organization is telling their employees to ask
the questions.  If you do not feel comfortable then ask the

Once a year I get to go out and participate in the RX Burn program here
on the district, last year I got 9 days out on the line.  It was the
time of my life.  Modern technology allowed me to call home every night
and say good night to the husband and kids, who are the most important
part of part of my life.

Spring burning will soon be upon us, be safe and have fun.


04/03 firehorse,
Jolly good, well said!  In 1994 I was on a shot crew
that had spent some considerable time in Colorado. 
The evening after the fatalities at South Canyon our
dispatcher called my wife and assure her that we were
not on that fire.  He went the extra-mile, and J.F.,
if you are monitoring this conversation my hat's off
to you.  (Other spouses were told by other dispatchers
that they were to busy to findout where certain
shot/helitack/jumper types were.  Some dispatchers
tend to forget that they are there to support fire
fighters, not the other way around.)  The FMO on the
incident that we were assigned to made a special
effort to line up a FTS phone bank so that everyone
could call home and assure that we were OK.  Thanks,
J.J.!     6
04/02 Hey Ab-

Hickman and Tiny and I think we ought to have a contest for designing a LOGO
PATCH for theysaid? … Seems like there are enough logos on the logo pages to
provide some ideas as starting points. 

Probably many of you have had some experience at designing logos for hotshot
groups. I've already been fooling around, er, doodling around -- make that working
with my colored markers -- ALL RIGHT, DRAWING, DESIGNING! some ideas for this
logo. (AB and FIREHORSE --I'm trying to keep this post CLEAN enough that I could
show it to anyone I might need to, either now or in my future life...)  Anyone
interested?  In this project, I mean?  How 'bout you, Ab? Any ideas, desires,
input?  Make that just IDEAS! Wouldn't want your wife to get the wrong idea!
 <LEER>  Is it SPRING or what?  (pssssst, if you didn't notice, Northern CA
is already a-burnin'!)

PHEW, made it through that, eh Hickman and Tiny? Maybe I'll stop there...

AZ Trailblazer, you come out of there! You're doing altogether too much fooling
around in the back rooms of theysaid!  Does Ab know about this???  Cut that
out ya'hear!!! Come right on outta there!  YES, I know how old you are, you
still shouldn't be doing that!!!  (yer' supposed to be discrete, see!)


I think it's a great idea Mellie and I'll take all the help I can get.  I've been working for about a year trying to come up with a great graphic logo for the web site.  Problem is, and I know it's true cause OPM classified me, I'm a technician, not an artist.  If I was an artist I'd probably be classified as a professional.  I'd have my own GS series and have a subordinate technician series to tell me what to do, when and how to do it, and be there to clean up my messes when I didn't listen to them.  If I was a professional, I'd create some more professional positions under me, then I'd get the technicians to teach my new protege's how to do their jobs, you know, just for a while till the pups understood what was going on and how to be leaders and such.  Course then after a while I'd be so bloated at the top I'd have to lay some of the tech's in case the government decided to "rightsize" again or I might  need to realign the budget to raise the salaries of my staff and I wouldn't really need so many techies around then anyway, would I?

That was an easy side-track wasn't it?  Seems I've inadvertantly activated one of my own buttons here.  Or perhaps I'm just avoiding the issue.  I could use a little help getting a logo going but it's not like I haven't taken an art class, I took mine at UNR, and not that long ago.  Man, I remember this red haired girl who sat two rows in front and to the left of me, she had the longest. . .alright, ok, I need some help.

If there are any readers who have the time,talent, and desire to help create an awesome logo for this site, I would be eternally grateful for the help.  The contest idea sounds like a way to get the competitive juices flowing.  If there is any  interest, I'll create a Contest Page and begin posting the artwork I receive.  Ab.

04/02 Don't know if anyone has seen this Drought Concerns
and Impacts information page or not.  Most are
familiar with Palmer and the Keetch-Bryam Indexs.  For
those of you which haven't, you might want to peruse:


Page comes out of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln,
and contains lots of information on preparation and
risk management rather than crisis management.

Be Safe

04/02 here is my contribution:  Just one one more time I want to wake up and kiss my wife goodbye:  and come back!!!!!!!!!!!!.   Here we go to year 24! 
happy season to you.
04/02 Hello Everyone,

I am from Indiana and would like to know if there is any site or listing that 
lists recent fires in or around my state.  If any one has any knowledge of 
recent fires that occurred in 98,99 or 00 I would very much appreciate any
info they could give me.  I will try to return the favor if possible!   Thank 
you for your time.  fox6778@cs.com

04/02 HELLO,
         THANK YOU 
P.O. BOX 7056
92315   E-MAIL-naturalmystic@mtnworks.net
04/02 Firehorse,

I was blissfully reading through your One More Time entries a few days ago 
when, much to my surprise, I spied my name in the midst of an eloquent 
passage.  I was deeply touched, far past the point of tearing up, and I want 
to sincerely thank you for sharing that moment.  If anyone has ever been 
hugged through e-mail, I certainly was that day.  You did drain some pain 
away with your hug in the meadow, and so have all the rest of you that have 
expressed your love, friendship and support  since that horrible day.  You 
have all made a huge difference in my life and besides being eternally 
grateful, I am extremely honored to be able to call you my friends.  Thank 
you all.


04/02 Hi  AB,
    While traveling back home this morning (in Northern California) I had to go up Interstate 5 to the town of Corning to look at a new car.
As I was traveling northbound up the highway, I look into the slow lane of traffic and I see the El Dorado Mobile Shower Unit Trailer moviing
up the highway with the red reflective lettering "FIRE EQUIPMENT - DO NOT DETAIN". I thought to myself, "Hmmm, must be a convention
or exercise going on, or maybe its going for repairs in Redding". I drive a little further and here's another Show Unit vehicle. After passing
the fifth shower unit I thought "They can't be going to a fire, its only April 1st". Well, it must be an April Fool's joke. I go up the highway
further and Look toward the Mendocino NF and see a LARGE Column of smoke coming up from up in the high country. I thought, "Hmmm,
must be a large control burn". I get home to my area and listening to the scanner, CDF is sending a STRIKE TEAM OF ENGINES to the
fire, with the request number E-6. Fire Season Has Started for Region 5, folks. Get ready for that pack test soon, because we are having
unusually high temps right now.


04/01 Firehorse,
No need to feel sorry, that was a mighty fine and truthful soapbox speech.
04/01   Federal wildland fire management agencies have suspended indefinitely the use of 
  specific mixtures of a retardant, after a study conducted for the agencies by 
  the USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center in Missouri was released last week. 

  The study identified a corrosion inhibitor in the retardant that may be toxic to 
  fish and frogs during the retardant decomposition process. The study indicated 
  that these mixtures produce trace amounts of cyanide that exceed EPA guidelines 
  for freshwater organisms. These trace levels can be hazardous for fish and 
  other aquatic organisms, but are not at levels hazardous to humans.  Based on
  the study, the use of these retardant mixtures has been suspended indefinitely. 

  More information is available on the USFS FIRE NEWS page at 
  Kelly Andersson
  USFS Fire & Aviation 

04/01 Ab and All.

(Long deep breath) 

I'd like to thank all who have responded, Katie, Mike, Sue the Dispatcher, Hickman, AZ, and Hunter 45 and Firehorse and the other
contributors of 'Just one more time:...' You're making the next four weeks of my class go a whole lot easier, and you're reminding me more
and more that this is a team effort, and that the bonds shared in firefighting (structural and wildland) often times double as an extended
famiy of sorts. You all can rest assured that I will go fire/journalism. From the passion I see here, and hear about at the VFD, it's just
something that becomes much more than what you do. It appears to /become/ you. 

Thanks again to all those who are willing to help, and to all who put their well being behind them, and put conservation and wildfire
suppression first. I admire you all, and hope someday down the line I might be able to add to the 'Just one more time' list. Do me a favor
and stay safe out there, so I can look forward to meeting some of you in two years.

As Ever,

Tiny the R-6 fire-pup

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