"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
||Been awhile---I could not agree with firehorse more--without getting
into politics too far, I would have to think the FS has gone down the tube
under the present administration & [snip] USDA undersecretary (who
supposedly will resign 1/2001). There is no longer a militia to support a
siege of 88 or 96 & when will the next one be---2000? Jacob's report
calls for permanent Incident Command teams & support---yep right! When
will this happen? Where will the $$$ come from? New administration making
things better---don't think so---95%+ population urban! But back to
politics , we sure don't want good ol AL there!!!
brush crew 1962
I am curious about this dragon wagon... does it operate in the same way
the terra torches do? Obviously, it's a large contraption built into a
huge piece of equipment, but I'm just wondering if it's the same basic
I've been trying to get some info on the DOE's risk management programs
and how or if they include or relate to wildland fire issues. I know they
have a strong interest in worker safety at nuclear sites that are being
cleaned up, but I'm not sure the extent to which this goes (ie...to
firefighters, etc.) I do know they contract at local levels with structure
departments for other fire coverage, although from what I remember not all
structure/VFDs want to be involved. Granted, this is just around one
facility. I've heard there are FMOs and haz fuel programs in the DOE as
well, but I'm not sure if wildfires are included in their facility
contingency plans and so on. The articles linked from this site make it
look like they were well-prepared for this type of thing, for monitoring,
etc. I suppose it would be an interesting thing to look into, for those
folks who do research on stuff like that. Anyway, we'll see what comes up.
Anyone have any info? I'm limited right now in my net searching time...
Firehorse... who will manage the trees if the USFS dissappears?
Interesting perspective, and definitely not one I've come across yet... :)
Where did Dombeck come from, if not the USFS? A state agency? I do know
where he got his degree...
Hey Mellie--I did send you a note, but I'm taking off Friday night or
Sat am, so I won't be available by email til Monday.
Have a good weekend all--
||wp! you cracked me up!!!!!!!!!! your ways of measurement is sooooooooo
true. although i might have maybe once or twice made a fire a little
bigger than it was. info like that is why this web page is the best. i
have turned on a few friends to this site that are not really into
wildland fire (if you can believe it) and they love it. they do say that
we all are mentally touched. its people like ab, yourself, mellie and the
rest that makes this page click. well just wanted to drop in and say
Just spent the last week in Winnemucca Nevada. The BLM folks there are
the nicest and most professional i have ever worked with. Right up there
with WA DNR.
We worked the Ragian and Rock Creek fires. Had a blast made some new
WP, liked your conversion chart. It will come in handy. I especially
liked the Structure engine formula. I think you nailed it on the head.
Heading back down to Winny this monday. We rented some office space
with four apartments. If any of you are in the area please stop by, and bs
with us. We are located right next door to the Winnemucca BLM field
office. Were going to place two engines, a dozer, and a tender there.
Looks to be a great season.
Be safe out there, and have a good one!
Thanks for the info; but have no desire to go back to the FS. Once
people found out I had applied and been accepted for disability I could
not believe how a good portion of the people I thought I knew opened up to
me. There are alot more disgruntled people within the FS than there are
people who feel fulfilled in what they are doing. The outfit has changed
so much since the early 70's that you cannot hardly recognize it as the
same agency I started with 30 years ago! Up until about 3 years ago I used
to hate weekends and lived for going back to work. This was especially
true of fire season! Used to take alot of flack from district folks
because it was not uncommon for me to show up at the office for awhile on
my days off. When the FS got deep into the RIF's and budget cuts, the work
load did not slack off, they just spread it out amongst those people
remaining. Now there is NO SUCH THING as "Quality" work within
the FS anymore! It is now, "Do the minimum to meet the deadline
because your plate is too full and you need to get on to the next
project". I feel sorry for those people that have 20+ years to go to
retirement. But by then there will be no Forest Service anyway. When they
made a political choice for Chief (Current Chief has no previous FS
experience. What "Rocket Scientist" made that decision?) rather
than bring them up from the ranks, that was the first nail in the FS
coffin. Would be willing to bet money that within 5 years you will hear
serious rumors of disolving the FS and within 8 years it will happen. (If
not sooner on either of those.)
Sorry "wt". Got distracted and ended up on the soapbox. I do
appreciate your help. Even though at one time I think I would bleed
"Green" if cut, just have no desire to step back into such a
negative atmosphere again. The FS was my second family and really miss
those I worked with over the years; but that is all I miss (OTHER THAN THE
FIRE ASSIGNMENTS THAT IS!!!) When I was first told I would be placed on
disability I thought my work had come to an end. Now, the longer I am away
from the agency, the more thankful to the Lord he took me out of that
situation. Too bad FS management does not have a clue what their people
are really feeling about their work. Think it would be an eye opener for
them. [stepping down from soapbox]
for some media info on the Hanford fire. Noname
Your post got me thinking. I am a Helitack Manager and am classified as
secondary fire, though I do have to pass the pack test at the ardous level
as well as meet the physical quals for heli-rappel. It makes sense to me
that if Hotshot Sups are primary then so should Helitack Supervisors. Does
not really matter to me as I have established my primary fire and
retirement wise it will not matter for me, but it could for others. What I
am really curious about is thier FLSA status. Are they now Non-Exempt or
Life here in Northern AZ has quieted down considerably due to the
"monsoonal" (NOT!!) flow that has caught us off guard, so too
speak. many small lightning fires here and there, but nothing to get
excited about. Lightning storms at night have been somewhat impressive!
You all refere to the "Dragon Wagon" and some have even
posted the Blue Monster from North Tree thinking that it is the Dragon.
Sorry, diffinatly two different "animals". Dragon Wangon came
about back in the late 70's early 80's and as reported in earlier
postings, has always been a BLM (western GB) toy. I understand that there
were only 2 built (please correct me if I'm wrong) and initially were
painted lime green. Yes, both fire and water was spit out, and even
occasionally fire retardent was also spewed out of its turrents (this was
before the class A foam craze!) Very effective for the sage brush fires of
Nevada. I also understand that due to the maintenance, they may not be
utilizing then anymore. I think the Unimog's with the 3oo gal tank and
small blade on the from might have been a little more cost effective for
I was up in Nevada last year, in a little place called Stagecoach (20
miles east of Carson City/Dayton) when I was headed over to the NDF office
in Carson. I had an opportunity to check one out parked out at a
casino/gas station (you know the place). One operator/driver. Not very
friendly (I don't think he was BLM). It was painted lime green, but had no
agency placards. Don't really know who owned it. Anyone out there know??
Anyhow, very impressive toy. Kinda wish I had something like it here at
home. If anyone knows if BLM is still operating them, or a private, let me
know. I'd pay good money and a steak/case of beer for a ride around the
AZ Trailblazer (I'm back)
The BDU style pants are availaible from National firefighter corp (www.nationalfirefighter.com)
cotton run around 75 or so and nomex are higher. The cotton are very
comfortable but do not wear near as well as the nomex. They offer gsa
pricing to wildland agencies.
dashed into the office today and picked up the book on Harry Gisborne Then
name of it is: The Gisborne Era of Forest Fire Research, Legacy of a
Pioneer. By Charles Hardy. My copy has a date on it of April 1983. The
only other idenfiying (quiet, spell check aint workin kelly!) marks on it
are USDA Forest Service FS-367. Im assuming that you should be able to
look it up somehow with that publication number. Ive had it quite a while
and cannot remember where I got it. Im sure it is probably out of print
||I have found in the past there has been some confusion between dispatch,
IC's, air observers, IA folks and others when it comes to accurately
describing fire size. I came across the following clarifications that have
helped the folks in our part of the world:
FIRE SIZE CONVERSION FACTORS
Burn area is expressed thoughout the wildland fire service in
"acres" as a measure of fire size. Acres, fortunately, turn out
to be very flexible and highly individualized units of measure, thereby
lending themselves well to all kinds of situations. This short
presentation is intended to make possible the truer interpretation of fire
size and the inter-conversion of various versions of the acre.
As a starting point, recall that what we call a "standard
acre" is defined as 43,560 square feet, regardless of shape.
Alternatively, a standard acre equals 10 square chains, 0.4047 hectares,
6,272,640 square inches, or 4.521 X 10-29 square light years. Keep in mind
that the following conversions are not entirely fixed and depend upon
whether the estimator is from a local unit or area office or fire district
or is hung over that day or whatever.
10 flaming acres = 3 extinguished standard acres. (having no doubt
shrunk when water was applied).
4 night acres = 1 daylight standard acre.
40 flaming night acres = 3 extinguished daylight standard acres.
100 prescribed fire acres = 50 standard acres.
20 acres seen from the air = 1 to 7 standard acres. (Depending on the
impressiveness of the smoke column)
NOTE: A minor digression on estimates from aloft:
It is common knowledge that a space-warp exits between the ground and
2500 feet altitude wherein flames, brush, rivers etc. all appear in
miniature as seen from the air. The following scale factors can be applied
(again depending on the mind and habitual biases of the airborne
Low brush X
Wadeable river depth of X
2.6 Barely survivable crossing
1 knee length
In addition to scale factors, some interpretation of fire behavior
descriptions are occasionally required, such as:
"Making a little run" ===> Firestorm with many spot fires
"Going to jump the road ===> Paint on the engine scorched, crew
sucking smoke, flames licking our butts.
Back to acre
5 timber acres = 3 brush acres = 1/2 grass acres = 1 standard acre.
1 steep acre = 2.5 flat acres.
Any acres reported by a structure fire department: Night divide by 10; Day
divide by 5.
1 no-fire-for-a-month acre = 5 been-fighting-fires-for-two-months acres.
I hope this presentation will help us all in the future and lessen the
confusion when trying to determine just how much ground is on fire.
Any questions? Test tomorrow. Ab.
||Ref the question on the "dragon wagon"
CJ posted two potos on 6/28 the one linked as another
is the true original dragon wagon. There were several that were first
built and used in Nevada by BLM. They were great pieces of equipment if ya
could keep them running and the shinny side up. I rustled through my files
and found an old water handling guide that has a couple picts and the
specs etc on it. One photo shows the firing torch in the stored road
position. I will figure out how to scan that photo and send it.
picture CJ provided was a snow cat that was on contract to move crews
in the eatly to mid 80s. I saw it once or twice, but that was it. It was
DANGEROUS and most smart folks refused to ride in it. That all ended when
it rolled over several times on a fire somewhere in the great basin --
believe it was about 85. Didn't carry water that I remember.
As for the North tree rig, it's a great piece of equipment -- bigger
and better than the old BLM Dragon Wagon. Of course, has water but no
Will get these up on the equipment page this weekend. Ab.
||Does anyone know the policy of the fire managers with respect to putting
firefighters in potentially toxic environments? Are there guidelines? What
they are? There have been two fires recently near nuclear facilities.
Presumably, wildland firefighters would not knowingly be put in harm's
way. In these days of downsizing, however, does anyone at any level of the
fire organizaion have the time to think about or plan for dealing with
During the Los Alamos mopup, I heard that there was DOD study done a
few years ago that showed NIFC was able to mobilize resources for fire and
other critical emergencies between half-a-day and a day-and-a-half faster
than the military could. If this is true and we had a national emergency
requiring extremely fast response to mitigate catastrophic consequences,
would there be pressure to send wildland firefighters into an unsafe
situation? I would like to see the article. Does anyone have the
reference? I would also like to know what the policy is.
||To Maddog et al:
The teams on the ground at Hanford know what the risks are. And yes
it's bushy, but precautions have been taken. And they are being careful.
If you want your job back there may be way. You said that you were not
covered by firefighter retirement so I am assuming that you were in a
secondary position. Any p.d. that requires an arduous fitness score as a
condition of employment should be classified as a primary/rigorous one
(rigorous being the key) FS personnel types will tell you otherwise, but
this was appealed at the USDA level and the FS lost. As a result of this
appeal the FS had to change the classification of all Hotshot Supt.s from
secondary to primary/rigorous. The FS had the mindset that the
classification is based totally on supervision, and ignores the law which
is based on supervision and the physical demands of the job. Don't
take no for a answer. What is really stupid is that someone at the AFMO
level should have the knowledge to be an asset to an organization, even if
you can no longer go out on the line.
Last year I was unable to take the pack test due to cancer treatments.
(I work for BLM where the test has been in place for a while) and it was
doubtful if I would ever be able to take it. I was told that, as an FMO,
my job was based on brain not brawn, even if I never passed the pack test.
Some bosses are better than others.
||Let NO ONE BS you, at HANFORD. I'd demand a rad clicker immediately if I
was anywhere near the fireline. They've been nuking stuff up there since
the middle of WW II.
Don't know where to get the BDU style nomex at. But was talking with
some of the FS guys today and they said the contract for the old nomex
stlye pant ran out and the new stuff is going to be the BDU type pant.
They said there going to cost around $110 to $120 a pair.
Anybody know why the supply cache's website is still down. Been that
way forever. I emailed them and they said to hope to have it back up in
July. What is taking so long?
If you would like I will email you or fax you a copy of what my state
says to take.
This one I can partially answer with some accuracy. I contracted a
medical disorder that took away my ability to pass the packtest. This was
verified by a doctor and a letter was written to the FS that I would be
unable to perform the duties in my Position Description that required
passing the test at the "Arduous" level. The paperwork was
submitted to OPM by the FS and approved to place me on disability
retirement. All this took place in less than 2 months. I was the District
AFMO; but was not covered under FF retirement due to a "break in
service" earlier in my career (would not have made a difference if I
had been covered). While I did not want to retire early, I could not argue
the decision. By trying to continue in an "Arduous" position, I
may have placed others in jepordy should things have gone to hell in a
handbasket on the fireline. There was one other person on our forest that
could not pass the step test or packtest and was also placed on disability
How others are able to have "Arduous" in their Position
Description, be unable to pass the packtest/steptest, be covered under FF
retirement and still keep their job, you would need to check with
Personnel or OPM. Maybe there is something in the rules/regs books about
having a medical disorder being handled differently than being out of
shape and physically unable to pass the test? Don't know the answer to
that one but betcha Personnel would at your local FS supervisors office.
(If there are any Personnel types out there reading this and you know the
correct answer, I would sure like to know.)
All this rambling may not answer your question, but the forest I worked
on was very specific. If you have "Arduous" in your PD, you
cannot perform at that level due to medical complications that in the
opinion of a doctor will not improve in a reasonable amount of time, and
the doctor will verify that opinion with a letter to the FS; you are to be
placed on "Disability Retirement". PERIOD! The only other
alternative is to put you in a 462 series job not requiring
"Arduous" in it's PD.
If you know of anyone on the bottom rungs of the ladder that got
"Retired" because they could not pass the test due to a medical
condition or out of shape, and there are folks higher up the ladder in the
same boat that have retained their job, I'd start jerking some chains,
rattling some cages, and rocking some boats! The rules should apply to the
AFMO's and above just like everyone else!!!!
You are correct on the "How it is interpreted"! Especially
within the FS. Not all forests within the system intrepret things the
same. Was the incoming Minnesota crew FS or someother agency? FS is
supposed to honor the rules of the other agencies, be they State or
whatever. If the Minnesota folks have a 21 day rule, the FS should honor
that, and visa versa.
||Here is one
picture of dragon wagons.
Thanks CJ. You get to ride 'em? The closest I remember is your
second photo, but still doesn't seem quite right. Probably cause it was a
time back when I first saw one. Oh well. Mellie, you get the idea?
||Kel-- Here's the North
Tree "tender". It is, as you say, a behemoth, but shoots
water (2500 gal), not fire. Also, it's not orange, red or yellow! I don't
think it's the *dragon* wagon.
Other trivia: It articulates in the middle, or it wouldn't make the
curves on mountainous roads. When you sit in the driver's seat, you can
only see what's behind you by watching the video camera. Pretty cool, have
to climb way up into the cab, like Jill up the beanstalk. Helped
substantially on the Megram last October! Thanks North Tree! (WP, I missed
out: I didn't hug that driver, either! I was a little intimidated...)
If Ab's dragon wagon is as big as we're hearing and shoots fire, maybe I
should borrow the North Tree tender. Wonder if they'd let me. Hmmmm...
PS. Rochelle-- If you're still about and reading, please drop me a note
at email@example.com. I might be down your way pretty soon and
wonder if you're going to be there or out on a fire.
||Tiny the Fire Pup,
A couple of posts ago you referred to both Abercrombie and Maddog as
"sirs". Taint so, their enlisted men.
||Wondering what other forests are doing about the people who don't pass
the pack test? We've had several on our forest that haven't passed it, and
not because they tried and failed, but because of medical reasons,
injuries, back, knees, even bypass surgery..their doctors won't okay them
to even attempt it. Which is okay, no one wants anyone to get hurt. But,
what are other forest doing with these situations. These people are still
in their positions, such as, AFMO, FPT, District Fuels Mgr. and what are
we doing about it? Nothing, they are still in their positions and even
have taken fire assignments, no doubt camp type postions. But, the thing
is, don't AFMO's have an obligation to be a duty officer and don't they
have to pass WCT at arduous, in case they get a fire. And don't FPT's,
sometimes have to be there, around the flames to investigate before things
get trampled on, and should he even be driving around in his little pumper
truck with water? And can the Fuels mgr, even go out near his burn, once
they light it? Evidently this forest is going to see how it plays out,
probaly limit them to being no closer to the fire, than a ridge or two
away...at first..then who knows....I think they will allow them to sneak
in alittle closer.
But us, lower on the suppression food chain, like engine capts, helitak
capt, crew sups and downward...the real flame eaters...if we couldn't
pass,for these same medical reasons, do you think we would be kept around,
doing anything other than our job for very long? Some of us think we
wouldn't be treated so kindly.
So, it looks like, its up for interpretation...who you work for, what
your job title is, how long you have to retire...Everyone of these folks,
can retire soon...
And then theres the 14 day rule. Los Alamos proved, it was also up for
interpretation, some stayed 14 days, some stayed for a second (with 1 RR
day)between, the second 14 days and many on rehab stayed for 21. Went as
helicopter CWN, dispatch asked us to stay another 7 days, after our 14
(totalling 21) Our home forest approved it, and S.W. dispatch said it was
a go, then the district ranger over there, said, no rules are rules, and
must take a RR day after the 14th, their own dispatch argued with them, no
they'll get the 2 RR days after 21, but he stood firm. Then the incoming
relief crew, (who were from Minnisota) said their contract read, straight
21 days..and that was okay with the ranger. We just went home. Let them
figure it out.
So, the talk is....any new "Rule", is simply how you
interprete it and we're still confused.
||The "dragon wagon" y'all are curious about is likely the
OSHKOSH/PHOENIX ATV that NorthTree Fire runs. They're mighty impressive in
person. It's an 8-WHEEL DRIVE rig with 2500 gal. capacity, a pump of 500
gpm, CAFS unit, GPS equipped, etc. The photo on their website does NOT do
this thing justice.
You can check 'em out at www.northtreefire.com/equipmen.htm
There was at one time (not sure if its still in print) a USDA
historical booklet on the works of Harry Gisborne. It is sitting on my
bookshelf at work, unfortunatly, I will not be in until monday. If I dont
see anything printed here by then I will post the info.
||Ab, Mellie, there is a picture of a Dragon Wagon in the book Fire
Apparatus in North America by Jurgen Kiefer. It was built by Lockheed and
is an eight-wheel drive vehicle that articulates in the middle. As Ab
noted, it could spew fire or water! It's a totally cool engine but I think
maintenance cost were prohibitive. If I can scan it in I'll send a photo.
Ya'll stay safe.
Thanks, I want Mellie to know what she's up against. Heh, heh, heh.
||Mellie, The one Dragon Wagon I know of for sure is "Draggin my
Wagon" into the sleeping bag at the end of a long shift. But; I think
the one you are talking about is an Alumagel (Known to the military as
Napalm) tank and pump mounted on a vehicle that shoots flames for a 100
feet or so. Seen one in a training film once but never in person. Used for
firing out from roads.
Have only seen one in real life, sadly it was prior to my packing a
camera. BLM used 'em in the Western GB, at least that was where I saw
mine, somewhere out of Ravendale a long time back. They do (did) indeed
shoot flames out one side of the unit. They also had a water monitor
mounted on the front and I think it was a track layer. At least two
tracks, maybe even four. Idea was that it could either burn out or put
down a wet line. A monster indeed! Anyone have a picture? Ab.
||I am trying to find 4 Oregon firefighters who were working on the Cerro
Grande fire in New Mexico on 6/15, to whom I would like to send the
picture I took of them and also the web address of all my burned-area
pictures (when it's ready). I was up in the Jemez Mountains with my
8-year-old sister Lisa taking pictures for a web page for my company about
the uses of GIS for fighting fires. We talked with the firefighters who
were having lunch by the road there, and they told me a lot of things
about firefighting which I am now using in my web page. One of them gave
me a home page address (www.Beckhous.CDS.com, except I must be doing
something wrong because that doesn't work) BUT I FORGOT TO ASK THEIR
So if anyone has records of who was where when, and could help me find
these firefighters, this is what I know about them: they were all from
Oregon, one was a federal employee, the other three weren't, I *think* one
was maybe named Scott and another might have been Mike, they were near an
area where there were HotShot vehicles, but I don't think they were from
those crews (they all had yellow hard hats, if that means anything?) and
the area they were in was right near DP-3 (maybe as far over as DP-4) on
the May 22 operations map shown on
They would remember me by my sister, whom they gave a candy bar and some
raisins to (I think she said thank you. I hope so.) If you have any
information which would help me get in touch with these men, please
contact me at Karen.Dahlby@auc.trw.com And to everyone who helped save my
home town and my parents' house and some national historical places from
the Cerro Grande fire, THANK YOU!
||I am looking for any information on Harry T. Gisborne. Any suggestions?
||Monday and Tuesday were my days off for nearly 20 years of my
There was really something cool, about working the
weekends (the brass was not bouncing around; just cool Fire Control
Officers; ah Jeez, I really mean, Battalion Chiefs); and not going to work
on Monday morning, when everyone else did was somehow perversely
satisfying. Terrible downside tho, two marriages ruined! I was often going
to do a not very scientific, probably quite random survey of the effects
of being a wildland fire fighting had on marital statistics. However,
having only to look around my own little corner of the flaming world, it
was apparent that I already had all the information I needed. What can I
say, you all know the truth? Not only does it take a very
"unique" individual to stay with wildland fire fighting as a
career, it takes just as unique family support system.
Now I met a whole bunch of fine fire fighters
over the course of 27 years of activity, and even a few more in 2 years of
behind the scenes dabbling; and as the barriers of turf wars gradually
eroded away; as the logic and precision of ICS and adopting the fire
service command structure prevailed; the closeness and intensity of this
"family" has grown. I ask you now, who among you does not feel
your tear ducts swell when you think of the tragedy of Storm King
Like the man said, you don't have to physically
know them, to be one with them. What you do have to be is TRUE to your
If I was buck naked 19 again, I'd probably be
trying like hell to land a job one of those real big green boxes of
engines that drive by every once in a while (real rare here at 92 1/2 feet
above sea level). Just so you know, being a tank truck operator, oh shit;
that dinosaur language again; IS the best gig in any fire department! Bar
I just thought I'd let you all know that each of
you are greatly appreciated by the family that you are part of. With your
head down feeling like it's about to explode, sweat stinging the corner of
your eyes, an unrelenting parchness gnawing at you; web gear grinding raw
spots, acrid smoke and fumes grasping the air from your lungs and the
energy from you body; pour it on with your spirit, heart and your soul.
Know this, that the reward at the end is one of great joy!
Wonderful peace of mind.
Among the 6 billion inhabitants of this frail orb, YOU will have
accomplished what only an extremely small handful of humans can claim.
PS I always use the handline slamming for my metaphors, somehow that is
the guts of this business.
Since the MN DNR stymied the our efforts to begin e-publishing the
NEWRL (National Emergency Wildfire Resource List) this year we have
implemented a slightly less sophisticated system...using the DNRs' own
forum board. Private contractors needing experienced smokechasers with
various skills can post the positions they need to fill along with a
telephone # and email address if possible and we will encourage all
available resources to check frequently and call if interested. A follow
up posting when the position has been filled will simplify the process.
There is no charge...and registration is not required unless you wish to
post. This might prove to be a valuable resource to both contractors and
firefighters. The address is forums.dnr.state.mn.us/~community_forums.
Look under Wildland Fire...Employment Opportunities
Our members seem to be happy that our move to implement the NEWRL
caused the MN DNR to more actively seek AD positions for them then ever
before...but many would much rather work for private contractors. We are
still looking into providing RED CARDS next year so the MN DNR cannot
prevent our members from seeking work elsewhere during the MN fire
season...as they did this year by withholding them. Does anyone know where
we start? We need to know the process by which Red Cards are issued and
what certification is needed for our Association to issue them.
Our members also are very interested in additional training...as
classes (such as engine boss) are rarely offered to non full time DNR
folks. Anyone out there certified to teach these classes should contact me
ASAP so we can begin arranging a class schedule, facilities, etc. Any
contractor certified to teach these type of classes might consider the
advantage of lining up next years positions by teaching these classes.
Getting the "pick of the litter" so to speak.
There is currently a major shortage of engine bosses etc. in MN as the
DNR fills the classes with full time employees whose supervisors then
refuse to release them for out of area duty. This makes it likely that
task books will be filled by in early spring next season while
smokechasers are still on duty in MN. In reality the majority of
experienced MN firefighters already have quite a bit of actual experience
with engines even though they may not have had the class.
By the way smokechasers from several other states have contacted me for
direction on how to start their own associations...I would encourage all
to consider that even a small amount of active representation may reap
great results. In our experience it has nearly doubled our members yearly
income from fire related employment.
||(um, warning: long post alert. those with short attention span should
Rochelle said about the TheySaid community, "... your comments and
insight and information have been keeping me educated and questioning
Hey, punkin, that's what this website is all about.
Despite the inability of a small minority of people who are hung up
with their own hangups (be that religious hangups or web-inexperience
hangups or agency-hidebound hangups), what you say is The Truth. This
website (for the several years that I've seen it in operation anyway), has
been just what you say - a means of keeping fire folks educated and
questioning ... and informed and cut down to size and jacked up to speed
and encouraged to keep on keepin' on and told to question stuff, and ...
well, an open forum for the discussion of all the topics and issues that
fly around in the wildland fire world with too many talkers and too many
questioners and not enough answerers in the standard forums. (er, forae?)
You said, Rochelle, that " ... this group of anonymous strangers
has come to feel like a group of close friends to me." Yea verily,
girlfriend, that's what this page is all about.
One thing about fire is that if you don't wash out in the first few
years, if you're still around after finding out what it's REALLY all
about, and if you still WANT to be around ---- well, there aren't many
strangers any more. That's partly because it takes a certain kind of
person to not wash out in fire -- a person who is resourceful, creative,
no-nonsense, cut-the-bullshit, and do the right thing even if it means
sacrificing your ownself to bail out someone else ... or even just Do The
Right Thing Now No Matter What. Another thing about fire is that they're
pretty much ALL close friends, whether you've met 'em or not. If you
haven't yet, you probably will pretty soon.
gosh (blush) sorry to wax poetic and all that, but i spent a weekend
with a bunch of jumpers, y'know, what can i say???? One cool thing about
fire online is the SHARING OF INFORMATION. This is what the internet was
all about back when folks like me'n'mellie found it. (hi mellie) The folks
who are still (in the year 2000!) afraid of it and confused by it, well,
shit, we'll outlive 'em. (chuckle)
Nowhere else in the "real world" (at least anywhere I've
been, and that's kinda the flavor of neopolitan) is there a camaraderie
(sp?) and a real understanding and bonding like there is in fire. And
perhaps nowhere else in government - federal, state, county, etc - is
there such a need for the open exchange of information - and such a dismal
lack of humans who can do it.
[pause for a bit of applause here for AB,
who DESPITE THE ODDS AND THE PRESSURE,
HAS KEPT THIS SUCKER ONLINE]....
(SOUND OF APPLAUSE)
[GAD, now i'm starting to write like mellie]
People in fire don't have to have met to be buds ... they can be
"anonymous" online (though a bunch of us do know each other) and
they can STILL be the best of friends.
That's why this website, this TheySaid page, is a draw to people like
you Rochelle, and Mellie, and TS, and Pup, and *all* you others ----
because it's a FORUM, an after-hours virtual gathering place for all of us
who have worked, do work, want to work - in the world of fire. It's an
online community in the bestest sense of the word. The people who don't
get it are the ones who wouldn't make it past the bouncer in a "real
world" gathering place of fire people.
||Thanks for the poetry, maddog.
I'll be eating my words now, and probably be off the site again for a
month or maybe more as my world has just inverted itself again. Just in
case I don't make it back for a while (at least as myself), I will let you
all know that your comments and insight and information have been keeping
me educated and questioning for almost two years. Strangely enough, this
group of anonymous strangers has come to feel like a group of close
friends to me. However, although you may not see me, you can believe I'll
still be keeping an eye on things around here. Thank you again, take care,
and stay safe...
||Quick note before I head back to CA tomorrow. For all those of you east
coast types, my trip here has been particularly interesting. Thanks. I
think of the times I've visited with nary a thought of fire, fuel loading,
topography, humidity, weather and I wonder where I've been all my life.
When I get home and get my pictures developed, look for two reports that I
hope Ab will post or link to. Wish I had a digital camera along, they'd
already be up here.
Thanks Maddog! Glad to know I won't go thirsty. Ab wants to know if
ya'll will all share a canteen with him, too. I told him, no, he'd have to
beat me at the brush truck vs dragon wagon pushing contest! [ha ha ha]
Psssst, Firehorse, FOBSIF, LL do you know what a dragon wagon is?
The mail tosser was confused this weekend so if anyone had a message
that got missed, you will need to repost. Ab.
I have found a source for wildland firefighter type pins. It took me
several years to find the source for "Bear Air" Wings, this is
the place. They have pins of: GSA engines, hand tools, agency logos, old
Smokey posters and more. http://www.jandmcreations
.com/ . Also found a link to the(?) wildland firefighters museum. It
is located in Capitan NM and part of a gift shop featuring Smokey items. Wildland
We have a link to J and M on the links page. Ab.
||Just got back in town from Las Vages, on a little R&R. I couldn't
help noticing the post on the Russian IL-76. The same out fit offered it
to us in Texas in 1996 and in 1998. All we had to do is send them a check
for $100,000 so they could fill it up with gas to get over here, we
decided to pass. However, 3000' flames, huh TJ, seems like we heard claims
like this before. We'll still pass.
||Ab, sir, I think you need some help for that wound...
(*ties a tourniquet to stop the hemorrhage of the green binary goo from
the digital laceration through the cybernetic epidermal layer near the
primary coolant pump*)
Okay that was for you medics and techies.. maybe someone out there will
catch the potential pun... digit..
WP - Thanks for the advice regarding the DNR office and fire prevention
etc, I'll be sure to follow up on that.
Maddog..sir?.. uh... I'm a bit lost to your words.. Did you mean that
"NEVER!" to be added to the 'Stop asking."? Such as to
read, in logical sense, "Never stop asking!" ? Sorry, if it's
one thing this writer has found to be the most difficult, it's
"Ranger" Tiny, of Region 6, who is still y'alls pup!
PS And yes, that 'Sir' title is required Maddog... as is yours, Ab...
||With respect to the airtanker and Global Emergency Response discussion,
>>I tried to go to the web site the article listed for
"GLOBAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE" "www.emerjet.com" and my
browser says there ain't one. Sent Mr. Anderson an e-mail at his HOTMAIL
(??) address and haven't received a reply. He and his staff must be
overwhelmed with work and e-mails and all so I guess I'll wait a little
I am the Mr. Anderson (John) who Guy says he can't reach and I want a
First, Global Emergency Response is now located at www.waterbomber.com
Guy didn't say where he found the GER link. Sadly, many links established
under the old URL cannot be updated and the original URL lost its #1 spot
in the leading search engines we worked hard to generate.
But the important one, to my mind, is alive here at www.uni-freiburg.de/fireglobe
. This may be the number one fire site for technical people anywhere.
Ab sez: JA's post continues here at IL-76
We do this to keep the size of the board to a reasonable length for
Upon the valley floor we can see the storm cloudings rising.
Among those that serve, are yhose who expect reality to be aware-
Careful, you have much to share.
Okay fellow wildland firefighters; whether you bleed a state color, a
or federal green -
this cat has got it!
There's passion the words we read.
There a sense,
of a new breed.
Let me tell you, my McLeod loving friends;
share a canteen with Mellie.
I read a couple of posts concerning the Russian IL-76, and I think some
misconceptions are surfacing. As a training chief on the East Coast,
working on international fire matters, I had an opportunity to fly with
EMERCOM on one of its firefighting missions to Greece, which was having
its worst wildfires in over a century in 1998. While CNN was calling the
fires unstoppable, and many of the smaller tankers were grounded, this
gently giant was able to extinguish two, 3,000' walls of flame in
mountainous terrain, in very windy conditions, with only one, 10-second
drop each! It made a believer out of me. The Ministry of Emergency
Situations, EMERCOM, offered two of them to New Mexico a few days before
Los Alamos was lost, but the USFS/FEMA refused the offer. The same thing
happened in Florida in '98. Although the plane is too big to engage many
of our fires, it would be very reassuring to know it is available when all
hell breaks loose.
||Regarding the Russian Giant Airtanker See also:
N.B.: Shoigu's from Tuva. Tuva is the ancient source of the same people
who make up the North American aboriginal community.
||Ab.. et all
Long time no type.. well not really, but still..
To the other 'firepup'.. Don't worry 'bout confusing anyone no more!
(Okay Kelly so it's bad grammar) I'm going to use my camp staff position
again... "Ranger".. heh. For those who don't remember, at camp
"Ranger" is the guy that fixes things..okay so he fixes
everything. You would be surprised how many people actually thought I was
a ranger with USFS or NPS etc.. Well I suppose some real rangers might fix
stuff.. any how...
Since I'm heading to camp again I thought it might be useful to ask for
some suggestions on how to go about minimizing the potential of an escaped
fire (such as a wayward campfire ember) to spread into something that
would cause serious damage. I already have in mind conducting a nightly
walk walk of the entire campground with a few buddies, slogging backpack
pumps, and I'll also probably emphasize fire safety at the daily meetings
of adult and youth leadership. Can anyone come up with something further
that I can do?
Thanks in advance,
"Ranger" Tiny, of Region 6
PS. I'll always be y'alls pup!
Just back from a successful federal UI RX burn and missed yet another week
of messages. I was interested to hear the government is putting out money
for hiring extra people?? Is this true? From what I'm finding around here,
it won't matter because no one can find qualified engine foremen, etc. I
have to agree with whoever it was that said long term permanent funding
and year-round training would be a good solution, not that this is news.
In these parts and over beer and smoke, we've identified that there is no
way to ever move seasonals up the ladder into single resource boss
positions as long as the majority of S-230 and S-290 classes are held in
the off-season. If you miss the total of like two or three of these
classes that are held in the entire country in the off-season (my numbers
are, of course, sarcastic estimates), you cannot get a taskbook initiated
until the NEXT SEASON. Seriously, this is no way to move people up into
CRITICAL positions that are apparently short everywhere (???). One
solution, in my opinion? Use some of this "extra severity
funding" to hold an engine academy or 12 this year ASAP, and/or other
single resource academies, and move some folks who are already working on
engines and in other misc fire/haz fuel positions into these trainings so
they will be around and ready to supervise NEXT year. It may not help this
year's shortage, but it sure might stem the problem next year because task
books could be completed THIS SEASON. Maybe this is a local problem, and
it's not a crisis yet, but we have more than one engine sitting around in
these parts without a boss for it. Serious waste of resources in my
Well, there's my ranting for the week. How is it that you get useful
ideas through to people who can actually make changes? A silly question, I
suppose, but I think we have some severe training and planning shortages
that need to be acknowledged and effectively dealt with by someone other
than an uneducated Congress. I know we have the staff and the capacity
within the fire community--how come it is that we never see a serious
investigation into something until firefighters and/or homes burn up?
Seems to me like this season could use some serious investigation at the
outset before MORE houses burn up, and so on... Maybe I'm just grouchy
because I need some sleep.
Take care all and stay hydrated... good lord it's hot out here (okay
Ab, maybe I'll concede some of your points about California from last
summer now... those mountains in the southeast were not nearly this WARM!!
I'm not giving up that they were hilly as hell though. You have to give me
credit however... I did move out here to see what all of the fuss was
about yer "western slopes" being "tougher" than what
easterners had to deal with, and so on. Of course that wasn't the only
Was wondering if you could post this for old fire guy in response to his
question about a 13/13 position. I just relocated to the east for a
computer/GIS job and am realizing that fire is where I really want to be.
I have 4 seasons of helitack/heli-rappel experience in Idaho and
California and am willing to cut out of my "real" job to go back
I'd love to hear more about his job and any others that are out there.
I have been checking out the USAJOBS site on a regular basis, just waiting
to send out some apps. What type of jobs are you looking to fill on your
You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am a different firepup than
Tiny the firepup from region 6. Don't want to confuse anyone.
Thanks for the forum, keep up the great work.
||> Ab -- Green binary goo! Say what??? We need clarification...
OH, I get it! You still bleed green, like USFS green with some computer
nerd genetics thrown in?! A family *TRAIT*? In the past there would have
been no hope, simply have to love you anyway (like the father who beats
his kids-- but they love him anyway cause he's their dad?!) NOW -- Well,
they're mapping the genome, perhaps those faulty genes can be repaired!
Or, Dear Abercrombie, is it more like *LOYALTY* -- misguided perhaps -- in
which case we could re-educate you? (Dunnow here, maybe we should be
emulating you!? [quizical eyebrow raised][head tilted]) Now, don't pull
out that turbojet you once threatened me with!!!! Iffin you do, I'm going
to get me a big red brush truck with a big welded
pusher-apparatus-out-front like BC Davis that can mow down almost anything
in its path if you're on flattish ground! CHALLENGE: Nozzle against brush
truck on flattish ground (if we can find some)?
(BC will you loan me yours? I promise not to total her!)
Yep, BC and me, we did tie in for several hours... Even had a quick
hug. (Wife, ya know!) I did take some pics of the wildland fire apparatus
he has -- neat-- and we told fire stories, talked about the insidious
politics of fire and about WILDfire in the NJ pine barrens that RIPS, like
fire rips through CHAPARRAL! We're planning a brief joint post about fire
and the pine barrens with pics when they come back! I took a picture of
him, too, but I know Ab won't let me post anything personal like that. I
think he's afraid someone will demand he post a self-portrait of the
webmaster guy with the green binary goo in his veins and it'll blow his Ab
image... [little, low chuckle]. Hey Ab, am I ever gonna get a hug???
[clear direct look]
I'll drop the turbo and go rustle me up a dragon wagon! Heh,heh,
Went to the Russian Jet site. Impressive but NOT. 135,000 lbs, in
retardant that would be 15,000 gallons US. Just what we need, a bigger
MAFFS tanker. The article says to build us more tankers in their other
(surplus???) aircraft, they'd just build more cans as thats all their
tanks are, cans with doors on em. How would they get coverage levels??
MAFFS gets it by dumping one or two tanks, no doors, no finess, just a
dump truck approach. Thats OK at 1500 gals at a pop, those MAFFS guys are
good, but it isn't the same at 7,500 gallons a pop. Whats the stall speed
of that thing?? 250 knots?? We get some hellacious turbulence off a SEAT
or P3 at 250 feet and 120 Knots, what will happen when that huge set of
wings goes by???? And we already know how tough it gets for tankers to get
into some of our terrain, how does this thing handle at low speed AND low
altitude ??? Wouldn't want to have one drop on my head. I heard some where
a 747 drinks 10,000 gallons of fuel an hour, whats the REAL cost of flying
I saw this at another bulletin board awhile back and I tried to go to
the web site the article listed for "GLOBAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE"
"www.emerjet.com" and my browser says there ain't one. Sent Mr.
Anderson an e-mail at his HOTMAIL (??) address and haven't received a
reply. He and his staff must be overwhelmed with work and e-mails and all
so I guess I'll wait a little longer. Wonder who in Aviation they talked
with, wasn't an R5 lead as far as I can find out. Why does this BS get
spread around, making us look like we'd refuse to use a valuable tool when
as far as I can tell most of em are just junk someones trying to pawn off
on the Government?
Ab posted the referred link because he wanted to provide an example
of what's being said about the USFS being unable to take care of it's
wildland fire threat and the alleged failure to use all available
As for how and/or why BS gets spread and recieves attention. . . BS in
the media is normally driven or pushed by organizations focused on a
select target audience who filter incoming data to conform to their own
pre-conceived ideals. BS media may often be discerned by the author
or web site's failure to acknowledge and/or publish dissagreeing
viewpoints. BS media proponents frequently target those unable to
discern reality from propoganda. The media audience may be
without personal experience to justify their opinons other than relying on
additional popular or similar biased media. REAL information
exchange comes from sites like wildlandfire.com and folks like you, Guy,
who view, dissect, and have the courage to dissagree with published mass
Abercrombie also wonders why everything with "Environment" in
it's title seems so ignorant or antagnoistic to those of us who dedicate
their lives to actively protecting and preserving it!
||Interesting to note the apparent inability to staff "augmentation
resources" with the "extra money." Now why would that
surprise any observer of the wildland fire fighting community? Which I
might add, the givers of the coin probably are NOT. So there is a shortage
of fire fighters, Jeez; you think after nearly 15 years of steadily
cutting the budget and workforce, while at the same time attempting to
make the whole spectrum of the remaining faces reflect the general society
at large that this wouldn't come at such a great surprise. But you know
what, I'm here to bet, that at the higher food processing positions, it is
a surprise; 'cause that's how out of touch with reality a top-heavy
The answer of course is to tell the American public, our elected
representatives, and okay maybe the Washington Office (read State or local
if you don't bleed green), that a well-funded wildland fire fighting
organization is an ultimate necessity. Especially at the inital attack
level! Tell them that funding to cover IA is really necessary because
there is no "militia" available to be the second wave; and it's
going to take those contractors & cooperators a little while to get
Take the time and tell them today.
Please oh please Honorable Elected Official, look truthfully into the
smoke reddened eyes of a wildland fire fighters and ask them what they
want most? (Besides clean socks and underwear.) (Okay, and maybe the
agency buying them their boots.)
As this fire season starts to cook, we all need to let them know OUR
That is, the issues of the rank & file. The groundpounders. The engine
slugs. The rotorheads. The dispatch darlings. Those tried and true militia
that still serve.
How about getting rid of the federal pay cap on overtime?
How about federal hazard pay counting towards your retirement?
How about being classified properly as a fire fighter?
How about funding at the most efficient level or (gads) even higher?
How about making this funding permanent so a workforce can be supported,
trained and be available?
How about a federal fire fighting agency?
........okay I've ranted enough.
But, so how about it?
Yes Maddog. So easy to cut and trim a little here and there during
the wet years. Not so easy to find qualified, experienced leaders
afterwards. Nice to be hearing from you again! Press on with the good
fight my friend. We gather beside you. Ab.
||In regard to the BC and the nephew wondering what to take in a war bag.
To the nephew. If you were carded by a firefighting contractor and
didn't get an orientation packet with a list of what to take, consider
asking the contractor.
Or better yet take your talents elsewhere. Perhaps the contractor
doesn't have it together and your just seeing a preview of things to come.
||Announcement: lil' timmy's running around the fire station
Hello to all you wildland folks out there!! Just want to let everyone
know that our beloved Assistant Chief, AZ Trailblazer, has just found out
that he and Cyndi are going to become proud parents!!!! Congrats to the
Irwins! and the future lil firefighter of the MFD!!
The bad boys and girls in blue of the Mayer Fire Management Division!!
||Hey Ab and All!!
Those silly kids I call firefighters are sometimes unpredictable. Yea,
I think that the announcement would be a nice posting. I have alot of
friends that I communicate with on "they said", only because
some are soo busy, this is their only avenue to communicate with the free
world during fire season......
Been real busy (no pun intended... :)) with lots of fire activity and
dry lightning here in the Prescott Basin.
Ab, thanks for checking. That was very considerate of you! I truley
feel the family part of this job on this site!! I just wish all wildland
firefighters had access to this incredible arena!!
Talk actch all later!!
Tim AZ Trailblazer
See next post to see what the announcement is. Congrats. Ab.
||hey all! got home from florida. i love the state but i will never take a
flight following assingment again. the folks from dof are great and i will
fight fire there anytime. today i had the pleasure of meeting mellie. she
great people. for those of you who know her-i feel as
lucky as you all should be. she had a real interest in my station and how
do things here in south jersey. i hope you all enjoy the pictures she
the brush truck is my pride and joy. if it came down to my wife or
fire in the brush truck- well- i would really miss my wife. well enough
now. hope to see ya this summer.
||physicals in r8:
Took mine today. If you are over 40, overweight, and male, expect the
whole ball of wax. I did not have to take all, except for my interior
structure quals said I did. Passed with no problems, and Doc says I'm
crazy for doing this stuff. I told him if they would check my blood sample
close enough, they would find fire in it. Keep healthy & stay head's
Hmmm. Cut my finger the other day and some green fluid with
what appeared to be bits of binary flotsam floating on the surgace oozed
If you haven't seen this yet, you need to atleast take
a look at it. Don't know how useful it would be in
the US but wow I sure would like to see it used once.
Its makes the C-130 look like a toy. Then again if
something like this is used where would our O.T. go.
Here's the link.
||Hey! Does anyone have a contact for a Cerro Grande fire T shirt
missed one this trip! Thanks
||Help please with the following. An eastern region (FS)
forest may seek a
firefighter for a 13/13 appointment, option to work additional time
depending on funding. Question is should we look locally and
are there experienced folks out there who would relocate for a GS 5/6
Ab: you can post or answer yourself if you think it would cause too much
Old Fire Guy
I'll post it cause you may need a little help filling the position.
On just my forest this Spring we're trying to fill 13 suppression
positions. Some have been filled, some are undergoing eval panels,
but the lack of diverse applications is dissapointing. Not
unexpected, just dissapointing. As many forests around the
region/nation have received a little bonus suppression funding this year,
they are trying to restaff engines and crew positions that have been cut
in prior years. Not such an easy task to do as it turns out.
So, ok, fine. This year there is more money for more engines.
Now how many FEOs and SFEOs were there last year who sat around unemployed
and waited for this to happen? Where will all the extra overhead
come from to fill these renewed positions? Imagine you're a fairly
happy AFEO working at a nice station, good boss, and a wife and kids.
Are you really going to want to put in for a permanent transfer of station
to an engine that has already been cut once due to lack of funding for a
50 cent per hour raise? Oooops, you may transfer only to find
there is no "bonus" funding from Congress next year. Which
engine would you suspect would be cut? I'd be asking some pointed
questions before I accepted any promotion/position offers this year.
||Ab and readers,
I have set up a page for wildland fire cartoons and jokes.
The front page is there with a email link. If your readers have anything I
can put on the net please email the cartoons or jokes to me. I would like
to get this off the ground soon. All content needs to be wildland fire
related. I may post things that are specific agency related if its worth a
good chuckle. Jokes, cartoons and IAP covers welcome.
My email account for this email@example.com
Thanks for your time and effort Abe, I'll give this 30 days. If there
is no response I'll take the site down. It was created for IE and is off
set using netscape. I will fix this so it views better on both. Any hints,
helps or criticism will be appreciated.
||Tony "Killer" Duprey is back with L.P. 'Shots. Congratulations
||I'm looking for nomex BDU style pants made by "J&G
Creations"?, I've seen jumpers and shots wearing them. The pants are
made from rip-stop nomex and have reinforced knees and butt. I can't find
the company listed, any info would be greatly appreciated.
Please e-mail me at:
Dispatch page would be nice. It does not mean we cant jump in here
every now and then does it?.... Helped the neighbors out with a 100-200
acre grass fire today, wind driven, but not a bad size for this time of
year. Had a 2 acre fire in the timber yesterday on district not too bad
considering that the grass is really green up there. I think we are going
to be busy in Eastern Oregon this summer. Will keep you all posted. How is
everyone dealing with the handing down of more money for staffing? Are you
able to find any qualified folks to do the staffing? We already have 19
rookies and are short a couple of Engine Bosses, detail requests have gone
out but not too many bites yet.
You'll always be welcome to jump in here. Readers who are web savvy
may also have answers to some web questions that arise. Ab.
Here is the California Interagency Incident Management Team 5 New Web
You can link to it if you want.
Yes and yes again. Ab.
||Awake in the middle of the east coast night (while still jet-lagged!)
and I came across new websites for Steve Gage's CA team 3 and Dale Dague's
CA team 5. Terrific idea! Market on!!!! Let's see all of them! The public
want to know our firefighter overhead!
||Greetings folks. After some some persistent encouragement and
promise of assistance, I'm beginning construction of a "Dispatchers
Corner" area for this web site. I welcome any and all thoughts
from dispatchers on this subject as I develop the content. I've
noticed quite a few dispatchers responding to questions the last few
months and I appreciate their experienced input. I'm aware there are
many different agencies using a wide variety of software programs and
computer equipment to try and meet their responsibilities without adequate
support or information exchange. Ideas under consideration include
pages for links to common software and updates, a similar posting area as
"they said" for submitting questions or answers, sharing of
existing web site links to enhance dispatcher's capabilities. Ideas
for discussion already include DMS (why the heck can't they provide a form
with selectable boxes and a submit button), WildCad, MIRPS, what do
I do when my C drive fills up, updating radio consoles, where to go to get
a good training assignment, and use of mandatory uniforms. Again, as
I ponder the development of this area, I invite your comments and ideas (I
may also be looking for experienced widlland fire dispatchers to consult
and a volunteer for site maintenance). Abercrombie.
I am a BC in a city fire department in northern CA. My nephew just
private outfit in central OR and has been carded as a hand crew member. He
called to ask what he SHOULD have and what would be NICE to have when sent
out into the field.
I gave him a list of what I take when I go out of coutny on strike team
assignment...but you animals are a different sort and travel a little
lighter....do you have a list of essentials to pass along to a new kid?
Good question Mark. I won't hog the board here, but will tell
you my MUST have on a hand crew was SOCKS, SOCKS, and more SOCKS.
Other underware is pretty nice too, although it can be reversed and used
over and over. Kidding, just kidding about the other underware.
||The following has been in my desk for several years, it is titled "common
firefighting". Although the verbiage is dated, basic
fire suppression have remained constant over the years. WP
Good post WP. I've added this post to the Archive Page which
is now the home to "They Said" archives and all other documents
available which are deemed significant, including those which used to be
on the now defunct Hot Air page. Ab.
||Some photos from a fire in the jack pine barrens of NW Wisconsin this
..Lets everybody be safe out there, looks like it will be a long one.
I don't know what you do as far as fire fighting and I'm not shitting
on you but I can't seem to get my boots to last more than a season,that's
one of the reasons I started to buy Nick's. I worked the last 5 seasons on
a hotshot crew and at the end of the season the tread was gone and the
stitching blew out so I would have to get a rebuild, but my Nicks I would
only have to get them resoled. Some guys on the crew would only get a
month and the stitching on there Whites would blow out. In my opinion
whites are not what they are cracked up to be you are just paying for the
name, Nicks are a way better boots.
||RE: boots -- the good people at Nick's Boots in Spokane (www.nicksboots.com)
have ALL the information you need about boot care. They (and jillions of
others) recommend OBENAUF'S
||ZKP and BC, I'm in Medford now and will be in Moorestown, NJ also. Won't
make it to South Carolina. BC let me know how to reach you (e-mail me at
firstname.lastname@example.org) and let's see if we can hook up. I'd like to see
your setup. Doorsmaurer, thought of you when I saw all the PA signs. You
guys live in this humidity all the time? Going to have to do my kicks
tomorrow before dawn! Today felt like a trek in a sauna or a slog thru
peasoup! Awesome thunderstorms with lightening this afternoon. Had
forgotten how cool that can be!
PS Hickman, was tempted to bail out over Missouri. The deciduous woods
here remind me of your neck of the Ozarks only flatter. The birds sing in
a foreign language and hide among *leaves*!
||hey mellie! what part of new jersey are you heading to? if you are in
the southern part of the state, let me know. i will give you a tour of our
neck of the woods. we do things a little different than you are used to.
||what part of the east are you comin to Mellie?
im headed to south carolina myself tommorow...we're glad to have yuh...
come see some flat land fire!!!
||Over 30 years I had the honor of owning four pair of Whites. You need to
soak them in water overnight, then wear them till they are completely dry.
This forms them to your foot. The manufacturer told me years ago to use
mink oil and not neatsfoot (sp) oil. Neatsfoot will rot the stitching. You
should periodically flush the insides of the boots with fresh water then
when dry, rub "Lexol" on the inside of the soles. Bootmakers
claim boots wear out from the inside out (Kinda like dry rot). If you run
your hand along the inside soles and they feel cracked it is time for a
resole or rebuild. Whites are good for three total rebuilds. If you take
care of them they will last you for many years!!
||Sore Butt in R3
Sorry to hear bout your problems. Thanks AB for telling how things are
done up here. Like Ab said, every dispatcher in R6 - R5 - R4 - R2 - R-1
has a contractor list in front of them. It lists the company name, VIN
number of engine/tender, Make, Model, License#, address, Phone numbers,
and contact person. It lists EVERY piece of apparatus that contractor has,
and they are individually Numbered.
One of my engines here is # 56-04H1-9-117101 another is 56-82X9-0-033
and so on. So it would be hard to say " hey i got this one to"
Unless thay work it under the AD schedule. This is done frequently. Evry
now and then a good deal comes along after contract awards. So you work it
When I sign my gear up every region does it pretty close to the same.
The gear is inspected, performance verified, minimum inventories met, and
qualifications proven. Every contractors personnel is listed in a national
registry by company name. SS# s are taken at fires. Picture ID in the
regions im contracted is required.
As for "sub" contracting. They really frown on that
everywhere I work. That doesn't mean you cant point them in the right
direction. Just by association and being in this industry most of my
friends are firefighters, and contractors. I know what gear they have, and
if they are available. Last night I had beers with five of my contract
buddies, Between us we represent 25 engines/ tenders, so it obviously is
in our interest to help each other out.
When I get dispatched, they ask what I have available. I tell em- they
order it. When IM out of gear, I tell them about my associates and
Makes their job easier. and gets my friends work. I do not gouge them
for this, as they do it for me too.
Sometimes (if its a local forest or one that knows me) they will just
give me the "E" number for them. Otherwise They'll call them
directly. About 25% of the work I did last year came to me this way.
I have no idea how long you have been doing this. But it took me three
seasons to make all the necessary contacts to make a living at this. Call
around to the other contractors on your list, tell em whats up. Join the
Associations, go BS with the feds. They know what you are trying to do.
Many of them will be doing this when they retire.
And by the way the going rate for subs is 10% not 20%
I know plenty of contractors in Phoenix, Flagstaff, St.. George,
Albuquerque, Sedona. Give me a call and ill hook you up with them. then
maybe you could help me out someday.
Another note -----As for Radiation badges being issued. All those would
tell you is what you have ALREADY been exposed too. its not like they are
going to beep, or sound alarms. Radiation would be one of the lower risks
in my mind. Id be afrraid of all the unknown crap dumped and not recorded.
Las Alamos has been pumping out plutonium and bombs for decades! since
WWII!!!!!!! There are a number of chemicals produced as by products,
Cesium, arsenic, Chlorines, PolyChlorinatedBiphenals (PCB). Hell I know a
contractor that worked there in the 80s, he says they buried tons and tons
of Asbestos back in the trees (right where GPers would be cutting line.
Secret facilities make excellent dumping grounds.
253 221 6903
800 704 4594
||RF - You da Man/Woman/whaterver. A few beers in me now but I have to say
that while it is tempting and fun to flame the WO and fire overhead, let
us not forget that AFM/FAM is really only existing in support of line
officers and whatever direction ends up in FS manuals and policy
statements. Some of the threads here seem to assume that the fire gods
have bottom line control over what happens at the field level. However
much fun it is to blame the WO we must remember that line officers must be
political whores and no matter how much we feel fire is the be all and end
all, it is just another biip on a line officer's radar screen. If Big Joe
and Mary Jo and Al West and Q could be kings/queens of the world they
would probably make sure that MEL was not a joke and that fuels management
was not a band aid and that fire professionals/technicians had the
support/funding/paychecks/respect/grade level that is appropriate for the
current fire situation the country is in. Politics drives everything and
line officers are the ones where the buck stops. If fire had control we
wouldn't be messing with idiotic stuff like FFIS, Primary Purpose,
realignmemt, and other nonsense
(Apoloigies to non FS watchers)
So does everyone know that there is a very cool tower in the WO that no
one is allowed to enter because it has a direct line of sight to the White
House across the Mall? As if Lee Harvey Oswald was a forester).
As soon as I left "the beltway" I sold my Allen Edmonds
wingtips on consignment and used the money to rebuild my Whites. Burned my
'de rigueur' canvas Lands End attache in effigy (kept my umbrella -- it
rains alot where I live now) and ordered a 8460-01-193-9769 Briefcase,
Nylon Duck...just like the one I had before I left for the WO. Dug out my
musty old bandanas out of the bottom of my drawer and threw those stodgy
red/white/blue neckties I wore specially for Monday morning "Stand
Up" (Doctor (snip), PhD. always looked so preppy). Kept the
Nordstroms suits in case the K.D. Lang look comes back in. Oh yes and I
had a sex change operation. I hope my cover is good!
[Snip]ing it yourself? Ab.
||sitting here in florida working a flight following assignment for the
DOF. not my cup of tea!!!!!!!!!!! these guys have there stuff together and
are well organized. the thunderstorms throw out lightning every day and we
all hold our breath to where the next fire will start. going home in a
couple of days and hope to help out in the west. every one be safe and
keep your heads up.
||Don't know where else to go so i'm bringin it here.
There are some contractors operating out here that
simply don't play fair. When they recieve a request for a resource and
don't have any resources left they should say so, that way the requesting
agency will turn the page in the resource book and call the next in line.
But does that happen? No, instead the contractor accepts the resource
number and then sells it to another contractor and just calls it good
business. He then wants the sub. to represent themselves as a member of
his company making it seem as if he has much more equipment than he really
Don't let this happen to you, if you get the call
from this guy for your equipment ask where its going to, tell him you will
get back to him, then make your own call and get your own E number. Every
time you pay him 20% of what should be yours, he gets bigger and you get
BUTT SORE CONTRACTOR IN R3
Where I'm from, each contractor is assigned to a hosting Forest or
agency representative. They come to know each other quite well. When the
local GACC wants to order a contract engine or crew, they contact the
hosting forest. It would be mighty surprising and suspicious to have the
contractor offer up an unknown resource. First of all, if an engine was
requested, it would need to be inspected prior it's dispatch. If it was an
emergency dispatch on the hosting forest, the resource may proceed to the
fire, but the contrator representative will meet them at the fire. The
personnel staffing the engine would also be listed and inspected. Those
personnel not on a pre-approved list prior to dispatch would be asked for
documentation certifying their positions and if acceptable, added to the
list. If inspected on a fireline, personnel staffing the engine not on a
pre-approved list would be fired, along with the rest of the resource,
immediately. Handcrews are also scrutinized and inspected in the same
manner prior to approving and accepting them for assignment, I'm not a
contract inspector and I don't doubt what you say is happening elsewhere.
From my observation though, I can guarantee it hasn't happened on my
forest, though there have been other subtle sleights-of-hand attempted. As
loopholes are discovered and closed, punishment is administered, we
re-examine the contract, shake hands, and the process continues.
I've heard from those who complain about their hosting forests holding
them hostage against the real/imaginary event of having an escaped fire on
their own forest. I understand this is a real problem for some
contractors. I've heard enough conversation to know this complaint is
legitimate. I've also experienced it as a leader of several federal agency
resources. As a resource boss I always subscribed to the policy of
"fight the fires you got" and worry about the ones that haven't
happened later. As a manager, I understand the importance of maintaining
some balance of resources to have a fighting chance against new escapes.
However, as I struggle to maintain the balance and maintain a committment
to a nationa reponse effort, I also desire to admister fair play and
equity to both agency resources and contractors. It ain't easy, but do you
think it would be better if contractors are administered at the National
level as is being discussed and planned for? If you are being held hostage
by your forest, you may. If you have a good working relationship with your
forest you might be in for a very big surprise.
Personally, I think the problem you describe in your email would
flourish with national or even regional administration. I think it would
defeat and play against the ICS concept wherein management of resources is
kept at an acceptable level.
PS. I think you came to the right place. Name names if you wish. I may
not post it, but I'll certainly pass it along to the appropriate
||Thanks all who e-mailed. RF, I got the whole thing, no [snip]. Amazing,
good coverge on the news last night. Hope someone taped it. Besides
citizens, there are a number of knowledgeable university faculty who are
retiring soon who may also rattle the WO and congressional cages (excuse
me, dilbertian cubicles!) ... We need ever-more capable people who can't
I sat in on a meeting with the PHD while I was working as an AD. She
called the meeting and did not even tell her staff what it was about. 30
minutes into the meeting we were still wondering about the reason for the
meeting. She sure didn't like my comments as I didn't have any wart's to
worry about, but she was lost as to who I was and why I was attending a
Just after SC, she wanted responses from the field on safety, but all
she used were a few snippits for the Chief and Staff Meeting. I don't know
where or what she did with the full compliation of safety replies, but I
have a full copy and plan on putting them on the web.
||Thanks to Pyrodactyl for correcting my obvious error in describing the
WO FS food chain.
The "snippet" was beautiful. Now there's a deep spook if I ever
And please, not Sir, althro the stroke to my ego was wonderful.
Biz. If everyone that reads or visits this web page, would also take
the time to address their specific issues to their elected
representatives, we could build the groundswell that is needed to get the
politico to do what they are elected to do; listen to the voice of the
people, and respond appropriately. If anyone has a line on a transcript of
that national news broadcast where FS types admitted a shortage of ff
resources, pleas let me know.
In March, during my rather educational visit to
DC as an attendee of the IAFF Legislative Conference, a large number of
things became quickly very clear to me. Over the course of this summer, as
each of us survives the Fire Season 2000, I'll share some of these
observations. Let me begin by saying that many structure firefighters are
right there next to the wildlanders in spirit and commitment. Most that I
talked with, could not believe the situation with, status of, federal
Their mouths literally dropped open when I told them that yes I fought
fire on the line for 16 years and from the ECC for 11; and yes, I was not
classified as a federal firefighter. Our efforts in educating these folks
went right to the highest level of the IAFF with the new incoming
President. These people are a great asset to us. At the local level I
would encourage each of you to educate those cooperating folks you end up
sharing hot canteen water with on some bust ass scorching day over your
head in Type 13. To conclude today's little rant, retirees do really have
other lives! Our elected reps in DC have these staffs. These are young
kids, some I got my fifteen minutes of fame with, I could have been their
father. They are educated, trained and positioned to be filters. To be
briefers. To be brief. To listen with a sometimes concerned expression,
but mostly to make sure the "boss" doesn't have to deal with
every Joe and Jill that wants a piece of them. I came away with the
distinct impression, that if Senator So and So or the Honorable Who Who
did hear what my partner and I were delivering, I'm sure it didn't carry
the dedicated waver in their voice that my message to them had. So I
returned to my little farm in the valley, committed to keep hammering
these folks. And that's what I ask you all to do. Hammer on them.
Let them know the issues, in respectful, short to
the point communications. Continually. As a wildland fire fighting
community the issues before us at the start of the 21st Century are
massive, no less than life and resource threatening. Each of us can do the
best we can, after all you are professionals; but without opening the
eyes, the minds and ultimately overturning mis guided management, each of
you is faced with more than a few full fiery shifts alone on that
mountainside, while your resource orders are being prioritized at Boise.
Keep on keepin' on
Just a reminder to be safe out there. There were three New South Wales
Aust. firefighters killed (Claire Dean, George Fitzsimmons and Eric
Furtan) and four seriously injured ( Mark Cupit, Luke McSweeny, Natalie
Saville, and Jamie Shaw) when a fire that they were doing mop-up on took
off. Exact details are still real unclear. Funerals for two of the victims
were on 6/16 (Aust Time). A State memorial service is to be held sometime
They have established a fund raiser for the frefighters
PO Box 1967
Hurstville NSW 2220
Cards and letters can be sent through
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
PO Box 1967
Hurstville NSW 2220
||Hurray for the firefighters refusing to work on the Los Alamos site. If
you want to really know what the story is, talk to the grunts on the line.
I know for a fact that there are signs on the property, in the woods too,
that say Radioactive and "no digging deeper than 2 feet". I only
hope that the grunt that I know, who fought the fire on the Los Alamos
site never comes down with something. By the way, his crew was told that
the assignment was voluntary. They filled out the paperwork for possible
future health problems.
||RF - Kudos on a very insightful depiction of the inner workings of the
WO, I hope your cover is good. I have spent a little time in the auditors
building on details and concur with most of your observations. By the way
I recommend anyone who has the chance to detail there for a short time
(not during fire season of course, so you you do not miss anything good),
if for no other reason than to spend some time sightseeing in DC and wear
a suit or dress for probably the first time in your adult life. I don't
know if they still do it but they used to drag detailers in for a photo
session with the chief and send you home with an embarassing glossy 8x10.
I've never shown mine to another soul. What I found interesting was how
the decisionmaking process in DC seemed to be all over the board -
sometimes they would poll the 'field' and go through endless iterations
and reviews, sometimes whoever was in the room at the time would get to
make the call, and other times somebody just 9/1ed it.
||In re: to Mellie's question of who [snip]'s boss is and why can't things
change... Mellie -- Mellie -- Mellie... does one REALLY think that once
they get assigned to a cubicle on the second floor of the Auditor's
Building that things really change? Well all I can tell you is what I saw
from my crummy cubicle at WO-FAM. Rather than spend time trying to politic
for another job up the food chain (ah yes -- as one Forest Supervisor told
me, "you must get WO exposure...") I chose to just remain quiet,
do my job and WATCH how issues were handled or not handled. During my
tenure M[snip] and DOCTOR [snip], PHD were the Directors, FAM. They were
[snip]'s predecessors. OK -- who reports to who? Director, FAM reports to
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry (SPF).
While I had my neck down in my second floor cubicle, "Big"
A[snip] was the Deputy Chief, SPF. I had a huge amount of respect for the
man. Prior to coming to WO he was Forest Supervisor on the [snip]. I felt
he was very in touch with the national fire program's needs though he had
other arenas to attend to (Coop Forestry, Urban Forestry, etc.). I could
tell his interest was really fire (he had some great fire paintings in his
corner office). At the time [snip] was still an Assistant Director and I
recall taking notes for her during meetings between her and "Big
A[snip]". You could tell "Big A[snip]" was really concerned
about fire. "Now tell me again why we should support R-5's request
for SCBAs???" or "[snip] did WHAT with the air tankers???"
Now M[snip] was a "good 'ole guy" and somehow I could never read
him. You wouldn't think he was the Director, FAM from the way he talked or
the way he presented himself, but I know he had the respect of all of us
in the cubicles. He'd sit in his cubicle and polish his shoes several
times a day.
Now remember Mellie even Director, FAM sits in a fabric partioned
corner no bigger than the BMA's office on a district. Heck -- Director,
FAM doesn't even have his OWN office! Even District FMOs have their own
office! Director, FAM had a plastic cubicle like the rest of us on the
second floor! I felt "Big" A[snip] had the concerns of the
national fire program at heart and I think it showed during his tenure
(199snip-9snip).I thought morale was really strong on the second floor
when "Big" A[snip] and M[snip] were there. Though I sometimes
wonder if their retirements were precipitated by the [snip] airtanker
controversy ---SAD, SAD, SAD.
Along came M[snip]'s successor to Director, FAM -- DOCTOR [snip], PHD.
and "Big" A[snip]'s successor to Deputy Chief, SPF -- [snip].
Now you want to talk about "blind leading the blind." I recall
typing a briefing paper for Dr. [snip] about the differences between a
Type I crew and a Type II crew. Remember I'm preparing this for the
Director, FAM!! As much as I liked her as a person I didn't really see her
sinking her teeth into fire issues. Sure -- sure I'd see her rush off to
"meetings on the hill" but I always wondered what she was
telling them!! I'd shove her briefing papers into her attache and she'd be
off. My question was how could she present the issues in front of
legislators if I'm only giving her the briefing 15 minutes before she has
to speak?? In any event I saw the morale and confidence of the WO-FAM at a
pretty grim time. I didn't get the impression that Deputy Chief, SPF
[snip] ever worked on a ranger district and I know [snip], Director, FAM
never worked on a National Forest (she came from [snip] State DNR).
OK--OK -- so who yields the REAL power?? Let me answer it with this
story... I had to give Asst. Secretary [snip] a briefing a week or so
after the SC tragedy. So I'm sitting in his office ACROSS the street from
the Auditor's Building sipping yuppie Starbucks coffee that he has brewed
in his office while updating him on the Northern Rockies Fire Siege. I
tell him "my BLM counterparts tell me that Interior Secretary [snip]
is going to request an initiative to increase rx burning". He puts
his mug down and scowls "...I'll be damned if I'm going to let Sec.
[snip] of Interior become the National Fire Chief!" Oppps...too much
French Roast, eh [snippy]boy???
OK Mellie there you have it. I think the power to change things resides
in 1.) Deputy Chief, SPF or 2.) Assistant Secretary of Agriculture. Now
let me say this and these are only my opinions and this may sound sad and
somewhat critical... I think there are two types of folks that get into
the WO. Those that want to make a difference (M[snip]? "Big"
A[snip]?) and those that use their position to get ready for the next
position in WO (Associate Deputy Chief?). I didn't see much happen during
the Dr [snip] PhD and Deputy Chief, SPF [snip] days. Was I a trouble maker
when I was at WO-FAM? No, I just kept my head down and ears open...
By the way I've since gone deep -- Deep -- DEEP undercover and feel
secure I can write these things. Ab, thanks for keeping the annonymity
I did not expect the response to my last post. Apparently a lot of lurkers
agree...including several with the USFS and various state agencies. Major
mismanagement by those in charge of fire suppression and up.
I thought it was interesting that tonight on the National Evening News
(both NBC and CBS) the USFS publicly admitted that there now exists a
critical national shortage of experienced wildland firefighters. They went
on to indicate it will only get worse as the summer progresses.
It was also on the national news that 100 firefighters had refused to
mop up on the Los Alamos fire because they did not believe that there was
no toxic material present. They were offered radiation detectors(badges).I
wonder what the consequences of that will be? I know ADs are not paid
enough to risk that. I would have refused too.
I foresee that as a result of the homes lost...and the admission of a
critical shortage of experienced firefighters the legislators will hold
hearings next session...and a likelihood that the purse strings will
loosen for fire funding...but that the mis managers will still manage to
cover up their part in the major degradation of Americas' fire suppression
ability. This despite the warnings for over a decade. The next few years
will be very interesting for fire fighters.
Thank you so much for that clear, well-written explanation. I have
admired your political work, dedication, and focus for quite a while. You
are a role model for me. We desperately need people like you who have
researched the problems in fire, are finding ways to illuminate the
problems to others, and coming up with solutions. You are not alone in
your assessments. I hear the same issues from many folks in the FS at all
levels. You are a particularly articulate proponent for change, however. I
really liked the things you wrote on the MN website. I also agree with you
that the "badguys" are not evil.
I don't know the Jacobson Report. The Rains Report (Policy Implications
for Large Fire Management), stated that hourly rates for state and local
employees were twice as much as for federal employees and three times as
much per shift as for federal employees (p33). The report doesn't mention
contractors. Authors of the Rains Report say, "The Agency does not
have the will to make the necessary fire policy, funding and
organizational adjustment to ensure that fire management is positioned to
be the effective cost-efficient program it needs to be for the 21st
century." The Jacobs Report (An Agency Strategy for Fire Management)
suggests that much of fire suppression will be contracted out. You can
still find these two reports by going to USFS
fire news.shtml, and moving to the very bottom of the news page. You
can download them from there in PDF format. I don't think there has been
any effort to suppress information in these reports, if these are the ones
you mean, it's just that sometimes there are less than competent people
trying to get them up on the web. This gives the appearance that there's a
suppression conspiracy afoot. Information technology is changing faster
than the Forest Service's ability to attract, hire, and pay competent web
people. (Not you Ab! I know you do it for love.) There's also an
antiquated process that keeps the best from being hired. I should talk to
Congress about that!
Cruz's address is the Washington Office, Fire and Aviation Management,
but Lavin is listed as the Director. Cruz is not anywhere in that WO
directory. See for yourself! ....Confusing.... I do need to get some
of this straight before I take off on Saturday. Other than that, I will
have to be careful to speak only from experience as I make my way in this
new arena. Luckily, some of the people I'm meeting with in NJ will be able
to give me pointers, too. (And hopefully I won't miss any fires while I'm
I feel like Tiny, like I ought to call you Mr. Maddog, Sir. Thank you
for decloaking and joining us with your wisdom. I agree with you that
firefighters are a professional lot. I have never seen people who study
and train as hard as we do. We should talk some more about that. LATER…
BTW, when I worked on the acronym list, your posts often made me laugh
so hard that tears ran down my face. I still recall my favorite, but I
think Ab would censor it if I recounted it at this evolution of theysaid.
Anyway, suffice it to say that you are one of my heroes of this website.
You, Ab, Ramble, and Pathfinder, what a thing you had going in the
"early days" trying to get this forum off the ground. Thank you
for your vision, your humor, your sacrilegious turn of phrase. I'm glad
you're not dead and that you're not Ab's creation -- I was never exactly
sure that he wasn't talking to himself those years ago! And Abercrombie,
thank YOU for your persistence! Now all we need to hear from is
Pathfinder and theysaid will have come full circle! Welcome back, Maddog,
Sir! [little salute, heels clicked together]
Thanks for the help, everyone.
If anyone can lay out the WO fire hierarchy with names and positions,
please e-mail me at email@example.com ...
||Actually Big Joe does not report to the Chief. The Director for Fire and
Aviation reports to the Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry,
whoever that is at the moment.
||The SMOKEJUMPERS 60th ANNIVERSARY celebration will be held this
weekend in Redding, California. More information's available from the Region
5 Fire website, the USFS
Fire News page, and the National
Smokejumper Association. The festivities celebrate 60 years of
interagency smokejumping history, hosted by the Region
||It's true, I've been lurking in the background, absorbing the excellent
dialogues, comments, observations that this fine site sponsors. To ALL of
you, keep on, keepin' on! Some of you may recognize the moniker that signs
this posting, most will not; let it suffice to say, I retired after 27
years of federal wildland fire fighting, a couple seasons ago, however, I
still slam hotline in other ways.
As a true fire fighting dinosaur (Fire Control
Aid, circa 1965), I just wanted all of you to know, that this season has
all the classic early manifestations of a very HOT, LONG, and dangerous
one. Please be careful, trust those instincts, and trust those around you
that you can. Watch Out!
Someone recently commented that we need to market
FIRE. They certainly were on the right track; what we need to do is break
the corporate/company/mass media control line, and get the truth out to
the general public. Each of us needs to find a way to educate our
legislators who see virtually only the white wash that is painted before
Somehow, somewhere, the simple statement: (for the
Federal sector) must be answered without the gobbygook of political tongue
"Why doesn't the Forest Service Fire
Management organization receive funding at the Most Efficient Level?"
Jesus, we certainly spend enough of the tax payer's money trying to figure
out what that level is.
Another brief comment. There are many many irons
in the fire of wildland fire fighting, and regardless of the color of your
uniform, or the structure of your organization, there is one shared
factor, doing the job. It is an honorable profession whether it's your
full time gig, or something you've stumbled into as part of a volunteer
Finally. Some asked who Joe Cruz boss is, why that
would be the Chief; however, in the unreal world of executive branch
politics, the line of authority is very blurred by the shades of covering
one's ass. The Forest Service has NEVER honestly admitted to itself, that
YES, by God, we actually do have professional fire fighters. Still, to
this day, some of the most elite professional wildland fire fighters in
the world, are humbly tagged Forestry Technicians, are not classified
properly, are not compensated equitably; yet continue to answer the
sirens' call (those left) unselfishly. There is a whole bunch more I can
ruminate on here, well save that for another time.
||So Cal Dispatcher,
I was happy to see your response to the WOMEN on CREWS. When I worked
on the Prineville IHC we had 8 Women and 12 Men. The women have a tendency
to balance out the crew, they definitely had as much stamina as the men.
It is not who fights fire better, it how you use the skills to make an
effective crew. I can tell you that the ones who where whining and
complaining about being on the same piece of real estate for several
weeks, were the MEN, not all of them, but we had several. One in
particular was even sent home because his attitude sucked and it was
bringing down the crew, and being in California in 1987, we did not have
time for the bitching and complaining. The assignments were tough, and as
a crew we just did not need that kind of attitude.
The years I was on the shot crew, we had two distinct crew
personalities. The first year we lost a crew member to a drunk driving
accident, the crew was very tight that year. We were not as physically
strong, but we could outlast most, mostly on attitude. The second year we
had a very physically strong crew, the women were doing 60 push-up's in a
minute (yes that it chest to the ground), but we had the "Bitchers
and Complainers", and it brought the crew down, so attitude was
really poor. That makes for a long season, especially when you are still
in fire camp and it is a week away from Thanks Giving, and you are
wondering if the caterer is going to feed you processed turkey for dinner
I really believe that the fire fighters that we bring up through the
ranks are only going to be as good as we teach them to be, men or women.
We all need to ensure that we are passing along our knowledge and
experience to these new fire fighters. Teach them to take pride in what
they do, and TEACH them how to do it safely, so they make it home after
The deal with stamina is all BULLSHIT, you have to be physically fit to
do the job that we do no question about it. A good PT program, and some
crew competition is a must. This crap of just because you are a woman you
don't have the stamina to keep up is BS.
Spent some time in Santa Fe Zone Dispatch in May, would like to thank
the folks down there for making my time so enjoyable. I would like to say
they have their act together, and have a good group of support people
helping them out.
Have a safe season folks,
The bad guys are not evil...they are just afraid of their superiors
either discovering they have made or failed to correct major mistakes.
Some of these mistakes may have been inherited when they got their
position...and "hidden" by whoever had the position previously.
Some are clearly not competent to perform their jobs. Most "bad
guys" simply are not used to being criticized by folks that are not
I am unfamiliar with the Federal scene...I had to take the USFS to
court to even get strait answers to my questions. If you are asking who is
ultimately responsible... that would be the guy at the top of the
organization. It has become obvious to me that before he takes any heat
all the folks below him will have to take it first...and they work hard at
deflecting responsibility so unless it becomes a national issue little
will change quickly.
But that is currently happening...lot's of homes burning makes the
taxpayers uneasy. As we all know...due to the continued explosive growth
of the urban interface nationally (its a nice place to live) more homes
will burn each year. Looking at the MN fire occurrence maps for the past
decade I can see this clearly...the vast majority of our fires start in
the Minneapolis interface... those are the fires that become TV images.
When homes burn more questions are asked than when firefighters burn...sad
The GAO recently published a report clearly stating that there is now a
shortage of wildfire fighters and that in the next few years it will
become a critical shortage. They were led to believe by the USFS that the
immediate problem could be ameliorated by simply brining in more
ADs...which apparently they think there is an endless supply of. And that
is a big part of the problem...there is not. As long as the mid level
folks believe that they have an endless supply of cheap labor...which can
be treated like the average employee in 1924 not 2000 ...all serious
wildland firefighters will not receive the pay, benefits,or respect that
they are due.
There was also recently published a report (Jacobson ?) which as I read
used actual firefighting costs to determine who put out fire most
effectively. Feel free to correct me if you think I have mis read it. It
said as I recall that "local" (state?) resources are the most
expensive costing much more than federal which was the second most
effective fire fighting force. The most cost effective fire fighting
resource was PRIVATE CONTRACTORS!!!! It appeared to me that the report
also said the folks generating the report felt that nearly all the reports
generated in the last few decades had NOT been implemented and they felt
that this ones recommendations would also be ignored. Pretty cheeky folks
either close to retirement or going into other lines of employment I
thought. There was some evidence that the WO level folks had tried to
suppress the report...unsuccessfully...but I notice that it is not widely
VFDs are also experiencing a real problem with filling their ranks with
experienced fully trained firefighters. Most are not trained or equipped
to fight wildfires...and are rarely compensated adequately for their
efforts. I have found in general that the people responsible for actually
fighting fires are exceptionally responsible people...and responsible
people usually take on more responsabilitys...take them seriously and can
soon no longer afford to go fire fighting. In a free market economy the
fewer (insert commodity here) available, the more it costs. Currently
there is only the beginning of a free market economy when it comes to
wildfire fighters...thanks to private contractors in the equation. The
compensation paid by private contractors IS the true economic value of
wildland firefighters. Currently the free market value is over 3 times
what ADs get. That is a substantial difference.
So remembering that the primary efforts of any bureaucrat are directed
at covering their own ass so they can continue to be compensated at a much
higher rate than dictated by a free market...more and more fire
suppression responsibilities will be directed to private contractors. As
these contractors need more experienced employees (compensated at 3 times
the fed rate) the endless supply of ADs that the Govt is depending on in
the future to make up for past inattention and mismanagement will be
suddenly gone. This will be a critical point in time...and I unlike the
GAO do not believe it is 5 years away. I believe that an organization
representing wildfire fighters is on the horizon...not one that just has
firefighter in its' name but one that is more like a union...willing to
fight for individuals as well as the entire membership. This is what we
have in MN now and despite the DNRs' best efforts we have made major gains
for our membership, nearly doubling the compensation of casuals in the
last 3 years. Next year there will be a critical shortage of casuals in
MN...this year there was a major shortage. As the Govt. has seen that it
is unable to retain experienced firefighters they have responded the only
way they could...by beginning to participate in the free market economy.
Even though they (as do the Feds) have laws dating from the 1920s which
have allowed them defer participating to this point, they can no longer
afford to do so.
There is often the perception by non casuals that if ADs are better
compensated they are getting shorted...the opposite is true. When ADs are
better compensated so is everyone else. This is one of the major fears by
MN mis managers...that if they fairly compensate casuals the folks that
are represented by a union will demand better packages too. When those at
the bottom are better compensated everyone "above" them
benefits. In MN we attempted to create a national availability list that
was primarily available to private contractors...the MN DNR responded in 3
ways...First they lowered the number of hours till OT from 80 to
40...which meant a substantial increase for those serious about fire,
Second they withheld all casuals red cards till the MN season was
"over" ...and third they put forth a real effort to immediately
place MN casuals on Federal fires as soon as they were issued the red
cards. Normally they do not. This has been a real benefit for our
membership...even though the implementation of the alternative list is now
delayed till next year. This year we will concentrate our efforts on
gaining the ability to issue red cards our self...and on providing more
training for our members...which the DNR has been loath to do since few
casuals with advanced training have stuck with them. The list is set up to
handle thousands of firefighters...from all over the nation...as long as
they have a red card. I believe that the Feds. and other states will have
no choice save to participate in the new free market (fire)
economy...since the alternative is being embarrassed by huge wildfires
burning homes and the questions that will follow. Does anyone think I am
way off base here?
I would really appreciate any input on this...feel free to directly
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
||Maps of fires and fire prediction:
National Predictions from NIFC and hit the narrative button at the bottom
for the regional forecasts.
||Dana, and Dispatch Dude
AD rates are way to low. I have worked as an AD for the last 4 years
and I have to argue $$ every time I go out. Not only that some States have
AD rates that are unreal. Example Montana pays straight time for the first
80 hours, after that EVERY hour is time and a half. The down side is the
hourly rate is lower than the fed's AD rates.
Another problem with being an AD is per diem. AD's get actual cost,
even though you are doing the same job as a full time person (who is
getting per diem) at the same location.
My observation is that AD's sustained the aviation part of the Texas
wildfire situation for the last 2-3 years. There simply was not enough
qualified folks out there to keep the aviation program staffed without
using AD's. Air Tactical is especially short of qualified people.
There is a movement afoot to hire contract overhead folks. The pay
scale is way below AD rates, because the contractor is making money and
telling the fed's that they can save money by using contract overhead. Who
is the big loser in this deal? THE EMPLOYEE.
I can tell you first hand that the Forest Service is worried about
having a "1994" type year, because they CANNOT support that type
of staffing level. Are they doing anything about the shortage? Hell no.
I believe you will see AD's on IMT's at the Command & Staff level.
My rant is that there are so many type 2 IMT's that it drains the
qualified pool of folks. Say Montana has a low fire danger, but keeps
their 11 tpye 2 IMT's availible for in State rotation. What does this do
to other area's that are rotating out the IMT's every 14 days?
Traditionally Regions 8 and 9 of the Forest Service have provided more
people to sustain a wildfire seige than anyone else. Now look at Florida
and Texas using those resources. It limits the number of folks from R8
that are availible. Also by looking at the statistics the same folks go
out time after time. How many folks are trained and qualified, yet will
not leave their local area? Lastly more and more people are getting burned
out early in the season and full time folks have a huge pot of overtime
money, so they don't want or need to respond to the next call out.
I sure hope some of this makes sense.
||I guess that I qualify as a longtime lurker, but I finally have been
drawn out by something that I read here. There has been a lot of debate in
this column about hotshots, inmate crews, type twos and contract crews. I
agree that a crew is only as good as their overhead, but not that gender
makes a difference. The comment was made that females don't have the
stamina that men do. Having spent three seasons on a hotshot crew(one of
them in 94/1000+ hours of OT), I disagree. On our crew the women were
there right up until the bitter end, even on extended attacks of 24 or
more hours. We had a woman sawyer and she could outcut an awful lot of men
I know. Maybe we were the exception to the rule, but I doubt it. Women
pace themselves differently then men, but the job gets done because the
CREW was good at what they did. We as a wildland family need to stop
looking at people as men and women, and start seeing them as firefighters
We lose credibility as an organization when we lose site of our primary
mission, and start to bicker about who is better or worse. If a crew does
a good job for you, make sure that you let them know. if a crew does a bad
job, or something unsafe, document it and make sure that the documentation
gets back to the home unit. This is the only way to effect change.
This looks to be an extremely busy year, and the weather for the next
three days shouts watch out!
Be safe out there,
||Rochelle and all,
Just called one of the Fire Infomation people (Bill Nelson) on the High
Meadow Fire near Bailey CO. The 3 F/F who were injured (smoke inhalation)
have been released from the hospital. They were from the Douglas County
VFD. It is not clear that their engine was burned over. Evidently, there
are lots of rumors and few facts. A team will be investigating the
incident. Yesterday the fire was a very aggressive ground fire with
torching and crowning; erradic and strong winds hampered retardant drops.
Steve Hart's Type I team took over yesterday at 6PM. The fire is 4500+
acres, 10% contained. A total of 39 homes and two outbuildings are
confirmed destroyed and 150 more homes are threatened. There are 7 Type 1
Crews, 8 Type 2 Crews, 65 engines, 2 dozers, 2 helicopters and 3 air
tankers (shared with the Bobcat Fire), 160 overhead, 430+ personnel total.
Last week there were sub-freezing temperatures that frost-killed some
vegetation including Gamble Oak. Warnings exist regarding the dangerous
vegetation situation, and possible winds, although today was calmer than
was earlier predicted. Here are some places to check in addition to the
Sit Report URL I put up yesterday:
national fire news
info on the High Meadows Fire
links to other fire stores around the US
||RE: Dana Linscott
Dana, WO = Washington Office. (National Level)
Fobsif, Excellent examples of seemingly great use of AD hires to fund
training crews, positions etc. So. Cal is ahead here. The use of AD's is
certain to grow as workforce declines increase the need. I recently read a
memo that spells out use of AD's for IMTeams, excluding Command &
General Staff. How long can that last. AD use is creeping around. Tie that
in to the pay cap issues, FSLA, portal to portal and endless others, its a
dam mess and cluster waiting for the next 4-6 year end of the Federal
(& state perhaps) declining workforce whoo-hah. Then what. Dana, you
have spent a long time sorting thru the AD mess, you don't need my help.
Be interested to see future posts.
Just finally got access to the web after being on the road a few weeks.
Holy cow, am I behind on the postings. It'll take me a while and some free
time to catch up, I guess, so I'm just going to be out of the loop.
Finally made it to CA, by way of the Colorado Fire Academy, which it looks
like some of you were at. No clue if I met you or not, but I did meet a
few folks who watch this site. I was glad to see so many structure fire
people from around CO and a bunch of other states all over there getting
cross training for wildfires. Learned a ton, glad to have gone, etc. etc.
Anyway, we are a bit low on resources from what I can see around here cuz
everyone went to CO. So, hopefully we'll all be busy around here soon,
what with extreme fire dangers and all. Still trying to figure out what
the heck is going on around here. Planning to burn next week... we may be
the first feds to try it since the moratorium. Anyone else? Wish us luck!
And so on. I'll let you know how it goes (hopefully we won't make the
news... it's in an UI area...). Take care all and be safe.
Does anyone have any info on the engine that got burned over yesterday
near Bailey CO? We're looking for anything we can find. Thanks.
You raise very good points in your post. Since you opened up the arena
for discussion about AD crews and pay, here's another take...
I don't think people "wanna fight fire and earn a poor
wage..." when they have other options. Sometimes they don't. The
Angeles and Cleveland have AD crews that provide more benefits than
"poor pay". There are Type 2 AD crews that are sponsored by
local community colleges through agreements with these forests. These
crewmembers earn college credits during the fall/winter/spring and get to
apply what they learned while fighting fire on a Type 2 AD fire crew
during the summer. They earn "work experience" in addition to
their "poor pay". These crews are highly motivated,
career-oriented and have Forest Service crew supervisors. These folks are
entry level firefighters and want to start somewhere. Their AD crew work
experience makes them highly competitive for temporary and permanent
The Angeles recently went into a partnership with Los Angeles Valley
College to sponsor a student coop program for a WILDLAND Fire Science
Technology program, where after they finish the program, they earn an AS
degree in WILDLAND Fire. This is only the second college in California who
offers a WILDLAND Fire Science degree.
The college's coordinator is Karl Smith, who is a retired wildland
firefighter and worked for the Forest Service, CDF, and local government.
The curriculum is based on NWCG courses, which have been accredited for
college credit by the State of California.
There are also AD crews that are sponsored by inner city communities.
These crewmembers are also highly motivated and career oriented. The
difference is they haven't always had opportunities to get into this work
because of where they live or they haven't been able to afford to go to
college. The money they earn during the summer allows them the opportunity
to go to college which they hadn't been able to do before.
All of these crews have served as applicant pools for SoCal's temporary
employment workforce. Not everyone becomes a career wildland firefighter.
But the ones who do choose this business as a career have a passion for
this work and are excellent employees.
Like you said in your closing, no federal wildland firefighter thinks
they get paid what they should. THEY DON'T when you compare the training,
physical fitness requirements and risks they take to do their job. But
most of them don't stay in their jobs because of the money. They just love
what they do. If they want money, they leave the feds and go to work for
local/municipal fire departments.
This is a big problem in the Forest Service that had better get some
attention before there are no wildland firefighters left. These folks love
their work, but their families have to eat all year round, not just during
the summer and fall.
Feel like I've been out of the theysaid loop a little, although I've been
lurking on friends' computers. I was in the SF Bay Area last week. Somehow
got involved in a call-in NPR talk show (a first) about fires on the
interface. Having listened for a little while before my turn, I made a
list of "clarifying" points, got on, and innocently ran through
them. The host cut me off! Rudeness personified! He didn't really want to
dialog. He went on to spout some more nonsense that sounded true. He was
called to task by an interface firefighter from Petaluma (thanks if you're
lurking!) and a woman from Berkeley who backed me up. Way cool. The host
never regained a good rabble-rousing line. Too bad... [awwwww]
R5 leadership: WE NEED TO MARKET FIRE!!!! We need to really USE the
internet to do it!!!! The PUBLIC is ready to hear our story!
So, does anyone know what exactly the hierarchy is in Washington? I
used to think the buck stopped with Cruz. Now I've been hearing that his
boss tells him he shouldn't reveal all the problems with fire to Congress.
Who is his boss? I ask because I'm heading east near Philly to start
talking to political Friends there about MEL among other things and I want
to get the right "baddest guys". Hey Dana and Tonka, whatsup?
Ya'll stay safe. Check out the newest national fire situation report.www.nifc.gov/news/sitreprt.html
We may have had rain in northern CA lately, but we have temps in the 100s
today! Things are mega-hot, dangerous and burning elsewhere -- including
the Bobcat (207 personnel, including 4 crews) and High Meadow (431, 10
crews) fires in CO; the Outlet (328, 10 crews) and Magdelena (164, 7
crews) and the BAER Rehab efforts on the Cerro Grande (1328, 43 crews)and
Viveash (203, 7 crews) fires in the Southwest (before the monsoons wash
all away!); the Wing (94, 5 crews) fire in UT the Calabasis (233, 5
crews)in SoCA yesterday, Shilo (365, 7 crews) and Berryessa (150,6 crews)
near Sacramento today; and 4 fires in FL (<300, 1 crew).
YEOWW, EVERYONE BE SAFE! Milway, AZ Trailblazer make sure someone is
watching yer "six". (New term I just learned!) [smerk] And
FOBSIF, now you're a "brother"?? [big chuckle]
PS I want to say thanks again to my instructors at HROP for a great 5
month fire class! 14 of 41 made it all the way through and about half of
those are starting wildland firefighting in the next week.
We do not disagree...AD rates do not reflect an effort to take
into account OT/ Hazard pay/etc....in any way. Legally they are
supposed to. The legislation that enables rates of pay to be
administratively determined requires that it does and during my
research last year and subsequent federal suit I had the USFS folks from
Wash. DC. swear that they do reflect OT/Haz. Pay/etc.! I have nothing but
respect for someone that can say that with a straight face...it must take
extremely good self control.
There has been legislation passed which partially exempts the
employing agencies "engaged in fire fighting activities" from
the laws passed since 1925 protecting workers from unscrupulous
employers...and legislation passed which was designed to provide some
specific protection to wildland firefighters employed by the Govt.
Unfortunately the Govt. agencies involved in fire fighting activities
apparently are able to use the exemptions and ignore the protective
legislation and get away with it.
ADs unfortunately have traditionally been the huge pool of fire
fighters that are depended upon to provide more and more
"backup" for full time employees. Due to "mismanagement by
the employing agencies, mostly a simple failure to even follow the laws
providing for minimum standards such as the FFLSA and a further failure to
provide competitive wages that pool is fast shrinking. The USFS and other
agencies know they are not treating ADs fairly...but seem unwilling or
unable to change. The effect is that they are hemorrhaging experienced ADs
faster than they can be replaced by Green ones and have for several years.
This is not conducive to creating a wildfire fighting force that can
contend with multiple large fires.
At the risk of sounding out of the loop entirely...who or what are
WO's? And what is the WO level?
In most other industries those temporary employees that seasonally back
up full time employees in critical emergency situations are actually paid
more than the full timers. That is what happens in a free market economy.\
as is evidenced by the wages being offered to ADs that go to work for
Even the former Soviet Union could not beat the pressure for a free
market economy...I doubt the UDFS and/or individual state agencies can for
much longer either. Its only a matter of time before the free market
pressure for fair and equal treatment of ADs will force a major change.
When the shortage of experienced fire fighters reaches an unacceptable
level wages and benefits will raise to attract them back. Unfortunately
the mismanagement of ADs by the agencies engaged in fire fighting
activities will cause a lag in workforce availability...there won't be
enough for a period of several years. This period will be marked by many
large wildfires burning up homes...I believe we are already in that
critical period and that the fires in Los Alamos and the current ones
N&S of Denver (50 homes yesterday) are a harbinger of the trend we
will see all summer and for years to come. This will not be acceptable to
the general public...the investigations next winter will be very troubling
to those responsible...and they are already spinning in an attempt to
provide themselves some deniability.
In MN we have a graphic example of the problem nationwide...when those
at the top don't do their job and are caught napping they will do anything
regardless of the legality to cover their asses and save their
job...unfortunately this usually does not include owning up to their
mismanagement and correcting it.. This year MN was short 200
firefighters...the attrition of experience could not be made up with even
raw recruits...and had the Mismanagers in the MN DNR not withheld all red
cards until they no longer needed the casuals the would have been caught
with their pants down and wildfires raging... Next year they will not be
able to do that particular end run...and unless they quickly start damage
control now they will be caught with casuals gone next season.
||A few months ago there was a posting commenting on a fire chief in
Washingtion State stealing
Federal equipment and getting off free and clear. The investigation has
been wrapped up and
the Chief has pleaded. For more information you can read the newpaper
story at the web site of
the Wenatchee World @ http://www.wenworld.com/news/tuesday/news.html#3
I read the newspaper article and think it is very clear. Everyone
uses large fires as an excuse to replentish thier cache. While West is no
exception, he just happened to cross the line with someone who turned him
in. It is a fact that local and national caches recover a small percentage
of their supplies from a large fire. It is a very common practice, both in
the past and presently. Sometimes, there is a person who crosses the line
somehow and gets setup as an example.
I remember in the far past that firefighters would trade nozzles and hose
for cases of beer to a local volunteer fire department. Under oath my
memory would lapse of course. Ab.
||To Missy: Try South Ops in Riverside. You would enjoy it there, its
nothing like what you described.
All the folks on the floor (and in ops) at South are highly professional.
||RE: Dana Linscott
Vice chair MWFA
The Federal AD rates are set by the agencies, (Interior & Ag), at
the WO level and are not meant to create equality between these casual
hires and regular statutorily determined pay rates, (GS, WG, etc). Because
of the temporary use of these hires, an emergency or potential for one
must exist and their use is limited and not intended to replace regular
paid employees. The pay rates are set by geographical region, skill level
and are set annually by the agency. Those positions requiring a level of
expertise at the AD level are negotiated in advance, usually, and not to
exceed a certain cap, $30 or $35, depending on the geographic area.
I disagree that these rates reflect an effort to take into account
OT/Hazard/Etc, they can't be. If you were a crewmember (FFT2) at AD-2
western region $10.68/hr, you are not getting paid the same as a typical
GS-2/3/4 Federal FFT2 OT/Haz $13.96/$15.25/$17.10, even if we are talking
federal temporary 1039 employees. Bottom line, you wanna fight fire, &
earn a poor wage at it, AD is your path.
AD use has it's place, think about how many AD crews the feds put
together as a funded program, (SRV, Montana FF), it is an employment
opportunity that is regularly used. Is it fair that we ask the AD employee
to perform exactly the same standards/training/experience that any regular
GS redcarded person does, but pay less, NOT. BUT understand, that you
probably won't find any lurkers here to say that the regular GS scale
employees are paid too much either. Hah!
Pay issues are always something to chat about. Chat away.
||Trying to let folks know that I have not abandoned my web site, Wildland
Firefighters Resource Page. On the 27th of May I was been hit with the
biggest blow of my life. My son, Private First Class Jason Michael Nelson
was lost in a automobile accident while on leave from the United States
Marine Corps. He was on active duty stationed at Camp Johnson, North
Carolina. Even though he was in the Corps. when he was home he always
looked forward to have the chance to get out and get dirty fighting the
He was a member of the Serpentine Hills Wildfire Crew and although he
never had the chance to do out of state fires he worked as a member of the
crew fighting fires with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry and if I must
say so myself, he was damn good at it. He had planned to come along and be
a member of the out of state crew as soon as he got his Marine Duties
under his belt.
Not only have I lost my son, best friend and companion, the state has
lost a fine and dedicated firefighter as well as the country losing a
fine, proud and bright young man, soldier and wildland firefighter. I will
get back to updating my web site when I can get my head back on straight,
please bear with me.
One thing that I am sure of is that Jason is now watching over all of
us and guiding us along the way.
Michael C. Nelson
Forest Fire Warden 17-6
Valley Forge Forest District
PA Bureau of Forestry
||FOBSIF: Right on brother!!!! CF5945
||This reply is in response to "T" ( May 30), and FOBSIF. We all
know, the best crew is only as good as their experience, supervision,
training, and conditioning to do the job. (not in any order). If the crew
boss "LEADS FROM THE FRONT, AND DOESN'T PUSH FROM THE REAR",
(and all the other clichés, thank you ROUGE WORRIOR), the crew works. But
introduce a weak leader, a great crew turns into a tub of GOO. I agree
with "T", juvenile crews should be "type 2" but I will
disagree about female con crews. They don't have the long term stamina of
their male counterparts, YOU HAVE TO PLAN FOR THAT!!! If you set the
standard and don't get weak because "They're females", they will
||I have never worked for a private contractor...but I have worked
alongside them. The only difference I have seen is that often they are not
as well equipped as their Federal counterparts. This has changed over the
years and I would not have any qualms about working for one. In fact I
would prefer it. According to the research I have done over the past year
private contractors pay and benefits are almost double the AD rates. This
is because the private contractors must operate in a free market economy
while the Feds. and States can arbitrarily set their own pay scales. Is it
any wonder that there is a national shortage of wildland firefighters? Can
anyone tell me who the actual persons are that Administratively Determine
what the rates are each year? I have researched this heavily and although
the AD rates are supposed to "take into account" hazard pay,
overtime, etc. the rates do not appear to do so by any standard. In
our state (MN) the "casual" rates are set by one guy...who has
admitted publicly that he is not qualified for his job...and proves it on
a pretty much constant basis. Why would a person with
responsibilities to his family work for in a profession that exposes them
to extreme health hazards for about half of the pay and benefit package of
the average pizza delivery driver? Combine this with the fact that the
work is of uncertain duration, and seasonal at best, that those doing the
hiring do not treat you with anything resembling respect or common
courtesy, that you can be fired anytime for anything and can be easily
blackballed from the profession, and it is not hard to see why the average
wildfire fighter is much less experienced than a few years ago. More and
more I see the ranks filled with students, who for a year or three have an
exciting (sometimes) seasonal job and no compelling need for competitive
pay or benefits...and when they no longer need to attend school each
winter they go get a real job. I am not 50 yet...but I have been
firefighting for 18 years and realize that I am a much more effective
firefighting tool than I was 10 years ago...despite the fact that I do not
have all the physical ability I used to. "Experience is worth paying
for" is a concept that has been accepted by private contractors for
some time now but apparently will never be accepted by the Government
agencies responsible for fighting wildfire. In addition to firefighting I
have been in private business (not fire) for 30 years and know for a fact
that simply because of this there will be more and more private fire
contractors each year and fewer and fewer experienced "casuals"
working for the govt. They are more efficient economically, which is all
it will take to continue the trend that has been forming for years. This
is mainly because they operate in a "real" world environment and
react to real world situations instead of to some directive or
administrative determination plucked from the air by a beurocrat. If a
contractor screws up they actually have no choice but to take
responsibility...in contrast to a "firecrat" who usually is
given the option of early retirement or even a promotion to keep
their mouth shut about the responsibility shared by those above them in
Personally, I never did fight fire for the money...but I can see where
a national force which depends on thrill seekers and the economically
destitute for the workforce is headed. The comments about
"scraping the bottom of the barrel" at the end of the
season are simply an indication of how fast we are getting there. In
order for the trend to turn around the "old boys" will have to
admit they have made some mistakes...and take responsibility for those
mistakes...and that will simply never happen. The Los Alamos fire may very
well be the best thing to happen to firefighters in years. It caught the
attention of the public and did not involve firefighter deaths..which is
what it usually takes. Of course it will be treated as an anomaly until it
happens again, and again. No one cares about wildfires until their home
burns up...then the embarrassing questions start being asked. Even
though that "problem" has been "solved" in the usual
manner (early retirement of the "responsible party) I doubt that the
folks whose homes burned will accept it. It might be possible that
the "Chiefs" promise of a billion dollar settlement without
involving lawyers would work but for the fact that it is based on the
insurance companies not suing to recover their massive loss. The lawyers
will be involved and after years of litigation the questions will be asked
in public. How did our national firefighting force become less
effective at a period in time when it needed to become more
effective...and who was responsible?
Let's see..."we" downsized the "professional"
wildfire fighting force (inadvertently) over the past decade when we
downsized all the organizations involved in firefighting...and rely more
and more on "casuals", VFDs, and students...whose wildfire
experience is usually less than 4 years. So it appears to those who judge
things based on figures that there was a net gain in the firefighting
force...after all a firefighter is a firefighter, when in reality the
ability to effectively fight fire has dropped dramatically. Those in the
higher offices have little to no contact with the folks that actually
fight fire and rely on figures to make decisions so they may actually not
have a clue. Those providing the figures similarly don't have a clue. The
folks that have a clue and attempt to voice it are punished
because it makes their superiors look bad. The responsibility for this
goes right up the line to the top guy...but if history is any indication
the "blame" will be placed much lower.
Therefor I do not believe that anything will be done internally
to improve the govts. ability to fight fire and there will be no choice
but to rely more and more on contractors. This also provides one more
level of deniability (of responsibility) to those at the top. After all
when a contractor screws up (or is unlucky) the buck stops there. You may
not want it...you may not like it...but I would be willing to lay down
some serious money that is what will happen.
||Before I get into the contract crews vs. fed crews vs. any other type of
discussion, I want to thank Kelly for letting us know SoCal FINALLY got
act together and started posting situation reports. I don't know if
anything to do this Kelly Girl, but just telling us this information was
available is greatly appreciated.
Now, onto the discussion about the different crews. I know this
has been a
philosophical discussion based on our different experiences. Just
there is always another side of every story. Every firefighter has
assignment where they worked out well and where they didn't do so great.
do we judge them all because our first impression was not a good one?
Judgements are double edged. I have worked with Type I hotshots,
(both county and state) and Type 2 AD crews, contract crews, BIA crews,
OC crews in my 23+ year career (which by the way started on a Type I
crew). And ya know what? I've seen many of them have good
bad assignments. They each serve a purpose on the incident they are
to and their value should be based on that.
I'm not going to debate over which crews are better. What I am
going to say
is that we have many objectives to accomplish on every incident.
hotline, cold trail, mop up, rehab and others. Some of these tasks
"exciting" than others. But, just like we don't use one
hand tool to cut
line in different fuel models, we can't get by with only one type of crew
do the whole fire suppression job. That's why it is critical
for us to have
different resources for different types of fire suppression work.
Putting down one type of crew and elevating another does nothing
the wildland fire service. It's great for each crew to have pride in
work and for their crew. But pride for one at the expense of another
destructive and has no place in our profession.
I'm a little anxious here, but would like to ask a couple of things.
Not sure if this is the place or not, but I'm wondering if there are any
other dispatchers who can provide some clues on where or where NOT to go
for off forest assignments.
I recently took a fire assignment to a GACC (geographical area command
center) and what a mistake. There were six permanently assigned
coordinators at the center and it seemed like at any given time there were
4-5 of them "on the floor" giving instructions at any given
time. They all seemed to want to be in command and I was never sure
who was actually the shift supervisor. During my time there I only
received one shift briefing from a supervisor and I spent twelve days
there. I came away with over 100 hours of overtime, so you would
think there would be enough time for a supervisor shift briefing at some
I would receive orders from one coordinator only to have that order
countermanded a few minutes later by another "cordinator".
That's not too bad, I always track who gives me orders so I can refer the
next boss to the last directive, but it's not too helpful. The worst
part was this one coordinator who had absolutely now idea of what the
"big picture" was. She (oops), the person was
insistent on having every little thing done her (oops again) their
way. The person seemed very experienced in how to fill out a
resource order the most proper prissy manner, but beyond that, seemed to
have few skills needed to fit their position as a GACC coordinator.
I tried to do things according to my training and prior experience in
other GACCs and used National standards and policies, but they did not
seem to work in this place. I understand every region has it's own
policies and such, but I've never worked for a person that only knew how
to talk to you to say you were doing something wrong. I know I'm not
stupid, I am a dedicated and hard working employee but I will never accept
an assignment to that place again.
I must admit that there was one person who told me before I accepted
the assignment that thing were screwed up there, but I figured I could
help so I didn't really listen to them. They were right. So my
question is, where should I or shouldn't I go for my next expanded
||I agree with most everything except this "Sometimes you have to
your heart and inner feelings rather than the 10 Standards, 18 Watchouts
and LCES." That is one of the best ways I know to get yourself or
someone else burned up or otherwise injured.
|| Over fifty Guy
When I mentioned the good old boy network, I am referring
to the way the the fed agencies viewed the contract crews of the
past. I have been in WL fire for 18 years and 16 of it was
fed, so I know how contract crews were viewed. I was injured
on a fire and forced to leave suppression, and that took the life
out of me. A large contractor in the NW offered me a position
and my first thought was "A contract crew, yea right." Then he
invited me to come and look around. The visit was very eye opening
this man wanted the best, he demanded professional conduct and
superior training for his people. He offered me the job for what I
had to offer and he wanted my attitude about how a handcrew should
be to rub off on rest of the personnel. For this I thank him,
because he gave me back the job I love. And as far as me downing the
"Old farts" that is not the case, because you see am one of you.
||Sit reports for Southern
California are now online
||I have found over the years that those "Good Ol Boys" that
keep hammering on the contract crews are the ones that never get off the
road and down in the hole with the "Troops" where the action is.
As budgets decrease the contractors will be the main body of the
suppression forces and the faster the Agency "GOB's" realize it
the better off they will be. We have several contractors in Southern
Oregon that I would not hesitate to turn an IA fire over to. Those
of us that get our butts out of the truck and on the line know who they
are. As mentioned earlier, "The cream shall rise to the
top" and the contractors need to continue to police themselves.
But, if agencies see unacceptable performance/behavior and it can be
documented they owe it to those contractors playing by the rules and doing
a good job to report that behavior to the appropriate agency that deals
with the crew or engine/tender contracts.
For those of you coming up thru the ranks: You cannot lead from
the road. Get on the line where you belong and stay there for the
entire shift! Lead by EXAMPLE! Not from your TRUCK!
Wherever the hot area is in your area of responsibility is at, that's
where you should be. If you have true Hotshot crews on your area,
leave them be and just concentrate on supporting them with whatever they
need to get the job done. Face it, they have more fire experience
than 99% of the people supervising them. Had a fella worked for me
once that did not want Shots on his Sector. Think it was a major
case of mistaking arrogance for confidence. Stop and talk to the
ordinary folks on the crews, don't keep your conversations just with the
crew bosses. Find out where your crews are staying in camp and visit
once in awhile when off shift. Find out how things are going on and
off the line. If they are meeting resistance somewhere with the
Overhead Team and it is legit, go to bat for them. Watch the crews
in the messhall. When they are sitting there eating with their heads
down and not joking or carrying on conversations, it is usually a good
sign they are fried and approaching that unsafe mode on the line. If
they are an excellent crew/engine, go to Plans and let them know who those
are that perform above and beyond. Plans needs that info when they
start formulating a demob plan to see who goes home first. There is a heck
of alot more to being a STLD, TFLD, DIVS than meets the eye.
Sometimes you have to follow your heart and inner feelings rather than the
10 Standards, 18 Watchouts and LCES. As you develop your skills over
the years, these things should start to come to you naturally.
To Hunter '45: I agree with your statement. Too bad there
are still too many of the old timers that feel threatened by youth and do
not buy into the philosophy.
I hope that you are not right but more than likely you are,
the resoponse that I have for you is I wish we had room for all but you
and I both know that
this will never work. I am sure that as long as there are
private people out there the govt. will hire them and I don't have a
problem with that but don't
overlook those of us that already work for the govt. state or Fed. Because
we look forward to this income. I also would like to know what
you do for a
income the rest of the year when fire danger isn't in affect
||sounds cool Al you are right there is a bad drug problem mainly alot of
smokers and I see it all the time, but hopfuly this drug test will weed
but what gets me is that some how they always seem to pass the test, I
know I can fire them but when you are born and raised on a reservation you
tierd of having to box your way out every time you turn around and Iam
getting to old for that shit if you know what I mean.
Greetings from Espanola, location of the present ICP- North at Cerro
Grande. I've been here two of the fourteen allowed and just now got a
break. Couldn't help but lurk, can't help but say hello. Very interesting
use of F/F and materials here in preparation for the monsoon season. The
most active BAER effort you could imagine. A very good and early test of
the fourteen-day limitations and benefits.
In reference to your request for comments from the "Over The Hill
Gang", it has been my experience over the past 33+ years of fire
service that the best 45-55 Year Old Firefighters are the same one's who
were the best 20-30 Year Old Firefighters. We selected them early, trained
them properly using Classroom, Field, and By Example techniques. We let
them join us around the camp fires late at night to learn from us things
that are hard to duplicate in the classroom.
Now, we must let them walk shoulder to shoulder with us during the good
times and the difficult times so they could carry some of the load, and
watch us think though the sticky times. We can't pull the same hills at
the same pace for as long as we could when we were 30, but we can balance
that out by using our experience and the use of good young firefighters
that are willing to walk in our shadow (and some times make a shadow for
us to walk in). That is working smarter, not harder. We need a mix of
youth and experience in the fire service.
There are as many good prospects knocking at the door now, as there
were when we were young. We just have to identify them, hire them, and
give them the opportunities we had when we were their age. We can't carry
the whole load anymore, we must share it with the youth.
That will be our legacy.
You're right on all but one.
For contract crews, contract engines crews, USFS or whom ever. The basic
130/190 is the best thing going for entry level wl firefighter. I use the
190 as the wl fire behavior/weather for the CDF Basic. Get the common
sense experienced crew boss (hard to find in the cwn world) and squad
bosses up to 290 along with the rest of the courses needed and couple that
with and good attitude for all members of the crew and you've got a damn
good Type II hand crew. The one problem, it's hard to find 25 to 30 hard
core young handcrew firefighters that are in to 12 to 16 hours per day,
sleeping in a tent, humping their butts off all day, especially after the
excitement works off and you go for the long haul of maximum days on
somewhat cold fire line. Times have changed. The old timers stayed on a
fire until it was OUT. What are we going to have in 10 years from now?
Maybe the ABC shift, 1 on 1 off for 4 days and then 3 days off. Is it that
we're becoming a weaker firefighter or are there too many great easy money
jobs out there, or maybe a combination of both?? As far as the Feds
dumping their real experienced firefighters when 50 to 55 year old. Keep
doing so, the contract fire service will hire these experts. Hundreds of
thousand of dollars of training and experience - keep them coming. It's
not that hard to keep in shape when over 50, as long as you love what
you're doing. WL firefighting is what pushes us old fart to keeping in
good shape. We don't care about setting in the local gym trying to carry
on a conversation with a BS used car salesman. I've seen numerous times
when the old fart packs the gear of the 18 year old to the top of the
mountain. Attitude, attitude, attitude, if it's there, the rest of your
body will follow.
A Contract Crew Over 50 Guy
||Someone asked about the quality of the ABQ Channel 4 video. The quality
and content are very good. I am
1. Los Alamos resident,
3. Los Alamos helitac helper (Los Alamos county radio operator and
From a personal point this was one of the most violent fires that I
Thanks "jumping" in, Chuck. A first-hand perspective is
Watched the senate hearings last night. NM governor, Sen. Chenoweth, et
al. Was surprising to hear the numbers they spoke of. 40 million acres
listed as extreme fuel load. they want to burn it all, or mechanicaly
reduce the load. The number 2 billion was said. as a minimum at 50$ per
This comtractor/ fed crew thing is getting no where. As a contractor i
take pride in what i do. I work hard, and do my best everytime we go out.
I let our performance speak for us.
Every crew whether fed/state/vfd/contract/local needs to know who they
represent when they are out there. there are good crews, there are bad
ones. Some are well equipped, some arent.
Ive spoken up and had contract crews demobbed- Ive done the same to
federal, and state crews. I am not going to work with drunks or addicts.
No way am i going to place my guys under the leadership of someone who was
out drinking all night.
just a thought,
MP, Of course I don't think you're the bottom of the barrel. Nor did I
say that Indian crews in general are the bottom of the barrel. There are
some great Indian crews, just amazing crews, both shot and Type 2 crews --
tireless, devoted, courageous, team players, fun and funny as hell. Toward
the end of the last season, there were also some very bad Type 2 crews,
both Indian and other contract crews. There was fighting. Drugs were
around. As the season goes on and resources become stretched thin, we do
scrape the bottom of the barrel in terms of who we can get to fight fire.
I think we need to recognize there is a problem and figure out some
way to deal with it. I hate to think of having to further police our own,
but we may need to do that. Spot drug checks could be a deterrent to
drugs. Background checks could help exclude problem people. Using
computers to track who is on the crews will also begin to provide a
history and some security. The reservations and private contractors who
send out crews must also take responsibility to insure they are sending
their best or no-one. This could be a conflict for them. Money earned
often means "a pair of shoes for baby". Let's not pretend there
is no problem, just because it's not PC to talk about it!
CF, I disagree with you that the stereotype on contractors is largely
"placed" by the good old boys. True, stereotypes are categories
that may be taught, but often they arise when people observe the behavior
of others. In fire, astute observation of others can save our lives. I
think many stereotypes in fire come about because they *are beneficial*
for survival. If I judge wrong, I may end up dead. I do, however, also
believe that the way to dispel the stereotype regarding contractors is to
"work hard and earn respect"-- contractors must regulate their
own. I think the non-contractor fire community is more than willing to
evaluate contractor groups individually on their own merits. We must speak
out about the groups who are not up to par-- contractor or otherwise.
We're all in this together.
PS Creating a Type 3 crew category based on training is probably legal.
Testing those people differently than anyone else is discrimination. This
may be the reason why we must rely on contractors and their insurance
companies to do the checking/testing. This emerging industry, as with
other professions, must develop a way regulate its own!
||Does anyone know where I can get a copy of the Australian study called
"Project Aquarius"? It is a study dealing with PPE and the
effects of single layer vs. double layer. Any help would be appreciated.
||hey Al: I work for an Indian tribe and we have to piss in a cup on
monday what's your point? we the bottom of the barrel? we'll burn more
acres and cover more ground than any of you flat landers will ever do in
your life. So what's up
||I am trying to get in touch with anyone who worked out of Reserve, NM on
the Negrito Hotshots in '95 and/or '96. I have moved and lost all of my
addresses. My e-mail adress is email@example.com
John "Tex" Dean
I agree with you 100% about the bottom of the barrel, maybe raising the
standard far and above minimal requirements (130-190) The only way that
the private sector will break the stereotype placed by the good old boys
is to work hard and earn respect.
but that will deny people employment that is needed in certain economic
deprived areas, maybe a reclassification like a (Type 3 crew) will help
provide these people with income. As you well know everyone has their
place and is as important as the next, but in addition these people should
have drug tests and back ground checks.
P.S. I hope that things can come together for everyone
||In response to the pissy arguing about burnovers, there's a fatality
report online at www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/fatalities
that will answer this. Burnovers are the leading cause of death. Fifteen
separate burnover events from 1990 to 1998 killed 39 firefighters (Figure
Twenty were killed in two incidents. If you
look under "Organizations" you will find that from 1990 to 1998,
vehicle accidents and heart attacks caused most of the fatalities to
volunteer firefighters. During that same period, 46 percent of the
fatalities to federal firefighters were caused by burnovers. During that
same period, 56 percent of the fatalities to state firefighters were
caused by burnovers. Thirty-five federal employees (26 percent) died
during the period. Burnovers were the leading cause of death (16), and
that includes the 14 who died at South Canyon.
Contractors working on wildland fire operations suffered 28 fatalities
in the 1990 to 1998 period: 23 died in aircraft accidents (19 fixed-wing
and 4 rotary), with other fatalities occurring from falling snags, heart
attacks, and vehicle accidents.
Other information on firefighter casualties is available from FEMA at www.usfa.fema.gov/nfdc/ff_casualties.htm
||I think we all know that there are contract crews and there are contract
crews. What concerns me is how the fire organization regulates contract
crews, for example, Indian crew 239, when we're at the end of a long fire
season. The reservation is scraping the bottom of the barrel. We are
desperate. There are no drug tests. There are no felony checks. The BLM
uses drug tests. For the safety of all, maybe fire should too.
||Ab, I understand the point that if crews train year round then they
would be at there best, but does that mean that Fed or State crews would
still be better? Why can't Contract crews fall under that same standard?
The days of old are going away. The large contractors (most of them are
old fire dogs) are putting out highly trained personnel, and are providing
there firefighters with the best fire equipment available, I do agree that
there are still contract crews that fall short of the standard, but they
will fail and go away. Like an old mentor of mine said "the cream
will rise to the top."
I would feel a heck of alot safer being on an engine with two retired
federal firefighters than some green kid, or worse yet, some firefighter
with 3-5 years under their belt that thinks they've seen it all and done
it all. Who in their right mind would not want to be crewed up with
someone that is probably redcarded to at least the Single Resource Boss
level, if not higher. Give me age and experience over youth and enthusiasm
any day, any fire!!! As far as the comment about having a stroke and being
stuck with two 55 year olds: if they were me and a couple of my friends
who were still kicking young butts on the line and in the packtest when
they were over 60, you would be in excellent hands. Last year on our fire
zone (two districts) the fastest time for the packtest was turned in by a
fella in his late 40's, and the next fastest time was almost tow minutes
slower. Other than Hotshots or Jumpers, there were not many who could hang
with me when I was still pulling fireline duty two years ago. While most
of the people I know only work out to get ready for the packtest or
because they are FF funded and get paid to PT each day, I worked out year
round because I felt it necessary to be able to keep up with the youngest,
toughest person on the Division. "Lead by example, not by talk"
seems to have always served me well as a Division Sup!
So, my friend, before you make such brash statements about those of us
over the golden age of 50, think about the years of experience on that
engine the next time you are in a predicament, your "Pucker
Factor" just increased by 10, and you have two crewmen beside you
with a grand total of 2 months experience who are getting ready to
"Wet" their nomex! Two 55 year olds with a combined 40 years
(probably 50-60 years) minimum experience don't sound to shabby to me
Any thoughts/comments from any of the other "Over-the-hill"
retired, or approaching retirement crowd?
I have to chime in about the matter of volunteers. Many are very good
or excellent firefighters. On my forest we use them frequently and they
support us in our prescribed fire program. Problem is, unless you
personnelly know them you don't know what you're getting. At least in my
career volunteers seem to have had more than their fair share of accidents
and fatalities. In my home state of Wyoming a volunteer can become an
Engine Boss with NO ACTUAL FIRE EXPERIENCE. The State Fire Training
Officer actually told me that Forest Service standards were to high and it
was a wonder that any of us ever got qualified for anything. Check out
the state requirements for Engine Boss are S-130, S-190, Standards for
Survival, S-231, S-290, and a class called Engine Responsibilities, which
is a class on how to complete the paperwork to get reimbursed by the
Federal agencies. Completion of a task book is optional !
Some of the counties do follow NWCG 310-1, but not all of them. I work
with some of them every year and am glad to have them. Problem is, if I
don't know them how do I know if they are really qualified? Since any
state can have their own standards, when I go anywhere else how do I know
if those volunteers are qualified?
Standards for qualifications do exist. I think if you're going to play
the interagency game we should all play by the same rules. If I meet you
on a fire and question your quals or experience, please dont take it
personnally, I am just tying to cover my butt and yours.
On another note, I am trying despertly to fill an Assistant Helitack
Manager position. The announcement should hit usajobs any day now. Must
meet IHOG requirements for a Fire Exclusive Use Assistant Helicopter
Manager and meet the requirements to be a Heli-Rappel Spotter. Spread the
word, I would like to see as many qualified applicants as possible. Great
location (Jackson Hole) and a great supportive fire staff to work with.
||The skinney in r8 is that folks are being trained (retrained) to
administer the pack test. This isn't new, but I understand that everyone
over 40 will have to have a doctor's ok to take the test. Should know
whether it is a full blown physcial or a check-up, and who is going to
pay, so on and so forth, in a day or so. It ain't all tall cotton and cold
||In regards to Mellie's question re: DOI members on California Type 1
IMTs, there is representation from BLM, NPS and FWS on teams. In fact
there was a "Fish" that interviewed for a Type 1 Deputy IC slot
last year. There are also Fish folks on the Ore-Cal Type II teams. I
presently work for Fish and Chips but used to be on an Type 1 Team from
another geo area. All of us Fish and Chips folks working in fire within
California were either "piss fir willies" or "parkies"
most of our careers. In my case I used to be a FS District Ranger. Fish
adheres to the 310-1 Performance Based system like all the other agencies
that have bought off on it. Agencies are allowed to develop its own
standards for certain positions however. Those might include Engine
Operator, Tractor/Plow Operator, even a low complexity Burn Boss. Fish has
established its own Burn Boss Type III (RXB3) position that allows Fish
people to conduct "low complexity" burns. Now what "low
complexity" is defined as really gets hazy. Heck we had one RXB3
conduct an aerial PSD operation. In the FS I'm sure that a PSD show would
require an RXB2 running it. I wonder if the fiasco at Bandolier started
with someone thinking it was low to moderate complexity when it should
have rated out as a high complexity.
Apologies, R, your post from last month just fell out of my server.
This happens from time-to-time. Ab.
||Well, here we go again contractor Vs fed. To the writer from R-5 am
sorry that you feel the way you do.( If I understand your point) but Its
true the contractors are here and they are getting better by the day.
Maybe you can remember back a few years ago, In fire camp (if you were
ever at a fire camp) there were nothing but fed engines and fed crews, as
far as the eye could see, what do you see now? I've been on the line for
18 years I know a good crew when I see one and there are very good crews
out there. ( Fed, St. and Contract) Sorry we can't just get the job done
without the hassle of jealousies getting in the way, but I guess that is
the difference in support and suppression.
Something else, what was that you said about contractors burned over,
and USFS crews putting out the fire and going home you had better look up
your fire history, before you start making comments like that. (just in
R-5) how many fed crews and engines, not to mention state crews and engine
were burned over in R-5 alone.(El Crispes)if you are in fire you will know
who I am talking about. Crank fire on the Lasson, Who was burned over?
What about the eagle fire on the same forest, who was that caught on the
highway? This is just a few to mention, should I keep going? This is not a
very nice thing to talk about and am sorry to remind my other brothers
about those times, but just remember the facts. I work for a very large
fire company now, but I've spent many years on a fed handcrew one of the
best in the U.S. so I've earned the right to speak my opinion. So to the
contractors out there stick with it, Train hard, earn the right.
CR (added by Ab)
If I surmise correctly, one of Ramble's points is: a suppression
resource working, training, making initial attack on fires, and responding
to other multi-risk events full time will be better prepared and more
effective than a contract resource. I believe it is the ambiguity of the
"as good as" that Ramble took offense to. Ab.
||RE: I'm so tired (snip)craig.
Hi Ab! Been a while since I had the time to write in,
but I'm here. Just lurking away, waiting for a button to be pushed. It's
pushed! "I'm so tired. . . yada, yada, yada!" Should be saying,
"I'm so sorry; sorry I'm not good enough to make it with any State or
Federal organization, sorry I can't make the cut, sorry all I get to do is
mop-up, sorry I don't have any initial attack experience, sorry I seldom
get to see the fire head, sorry I have to take space in the chow line!
Sorry I'm not on a fire so I can sit here bitching to my computer.
Being from R5, I long ago tired of hearing on
television or pictures in the newspaper about CDF and all the grass/brush
fires they put out while hearing little of the USFS. I've given up
listening to the media for any pertinent current fire information. If CDF
can't get there (read off the paved roads), there aren't any media. End
result is that the USFS is without media coverage cause they close the
roads to public traffic and their public information officers (PIO's)
aren't qualified to take them any further to allow them to cover the real
suppression activities. Easy enough to allow a newscam to drive along a
freeway and take photos of all the red trucks sitting beside the road
putting out smoldering fences or stumpholes. Another matter to have a PIO
take them by the hand and lead them to the fireline (oh the liability
issues this would create). This is a problem with the USFS and their
information personnel, not CDF by the way. I have no issue with the way
CDF conducts their business and their responsibilities. Just so's you all
don't get the wrong idea. It's the USFS public information system which
sucks. It's sucked as long as I've observed them (long time). The USFS
somehow has an image of themselves as the strong, silent, big stick behind
the back, Gary Cooper kind of agency. Hasn't worked, doesn't work, never
will work. Take a lesson USFS from the Army or Marines TV commercials. To
get the best, you gott'a advertise to the best. And you have to pay them
to compete with the rest! Why should the voters of California, or other
States want to press Congress to allow more money for federal firefighting
when they scarcely know there is a federal firefighting system?
Please allow me to put some spin on craig's theory
of evolution we can all understand. Any spectator sports challenged
forgive me, but let's use football as an analogy. As most know, there are
many different levels of those who call themselves football players. At
the top is the NFL, at the bottom, let's not go any lower than the high
school level for a comparison. Let's put a contract engine (high school)
in an initial attack arena with a USFS engine (NFL). End result on any
give dispatch? Contractor burned over, shelters deployed, possible
fatalities. USFS extinguishes the fire, rolls home, packs hose, and does
it again within 60 minutes. In your words craig, contractors are "not
as organized", no doubt, there is no regional, state, or national
organization I'm aware of. "Just as good", give me a break,
Contractors are always looking for people just as
the federal agencies do because they do not yet have the ability to offer
them a year around job and/or benefits. Sound familiar? Many retired
federal employees have taken jobs with contractors. Fine, good by me, it
increases the level of expertise of the contractors. In some cases, it may
also increase the effectiveness of the federal agencies. Want an analogy?
Good. If I moved to Brazil, I might raise the firefighter IQ of both
countries. Get it? Good, I was going to substitute "you" instead
of "I", but I know Ab don't like personal attacks.
Want some more? I'm aware of many retired federal
firefighters staffing or captaining engines for several contract agencies.
While I certainly have little desire to deny them their continued career,
let me state that Federal firefighters may retire at age 50 and must
retire at age 55. While they're not so old the're asking for knitting
needles or require an extra prune juice ration, there is a reason the
federal government has made 55 a mandatory retirement age. "As good
as", you said? As good as what? Get outt'a here with that sorry
stuff. So here I am just collapsed on the line from a stroke and I've two
55 year old fire engine crewmembers to carry me out. No thanks! Don't
wann'a be there.
In other posts here lately it was mentioned the
amount of private contractors had decreased while the amount of resources
the remaining contractors could field increased. This is good. This is
capitilism at it's best! Any time there is a new field where there is
profit to be taken, all those with an interest think they can be a player.
As has become apparent, those with the best management plan and those who
work the hardest will prevail. The big fish may eat many small lazy ones.
The aggresive small fish may turn and swallow the large. Let's just hope
Microsoft doesn't take an interest in this current chaos.
Don't worry craig you won't be in the papers. . .
until you've done something wrong. But then again, if the future is as you
describe, it's just a matter of time isn't it? Perhaps your future shadows
the National Park Service.
Thanks for the opprotunity Ab. Until I
||Craig, I know where you are coming from. The gov already is using us as
stl, div sups, etc. Last year I was strike team leader on three fires. an
associate of mine was division sup.
It all depends on the agency. WA DNR is a very close knit group. They
work with us and know our certifications, and capabilities. They would
prefer to have their own people fill overhead postions, but some times
everyone is commited. Some agencies are not as willing.
I know of several contract companies that supply overhead people to the
level II IC. these people were capable in the federal and state sector,
why not in the private sector?
Craig you must be in OR, or CA. this is my ninth season doing this, ive
worked with every three and four letter agency out there. Your right were
not going to disappear. The number of contractors has been shrinking but
the size of the fleet is growing yearly. Right now there are 326 contract
engines/tenders in R6 (or-wa) I could count the number on my contract in
R2-4 but cant find the list. I know the number of contractors is shrinking
That means the unsuccseful contractors are disappearing, the better
ones are growing. The government knows who they like, and the phone calls
that about covers it.
AB you still in SW?
hope your feeling better Tiny.
later all, and rip it up!!!!!!!!!
Was just killing time, by not working it to death and went back into
Wildland Fire Assessment System Map Archives for 1996 to 1999 at:
Looked up the date of June 7 for each year and compared it to 2000.
All I can say is.....SCARY.....and grab your as....sets...
||Just found out more info about why NJ isn't sending out engines. (rumors
are that florida has asked for them more than once this year already).
Rumor has it that NJ doesn't have the money to send the trucks via
flatbed, and won't drive them down. Cost is about $15,000 and since this
is not through NIFC, but through the Mid-Atlantic Compact agreement, the
sending agency is responsible??
SOoo... we sit until the new budget year starts on July 1.
As a side note, just read in the paper that our two hueys are going to
be allowed to fly again... whoopie, too bad I have to read about it in the
The WFAS page with gobs of links is at:
and other RAWS info and links are at:
Some fire weather archives and links. WFAS is Wildland Fire
Assessment System and RAWS is Remote Automated Weather Stations. Since
Kelly and Hickman sent in the same URL, I deleted it from this post. Ab.
Just a quick message in between calls. Zonie is very correct about the
weather out in R-3. HOT, DRY, and WINDY, with lots of DRY LIGHTNING!! Been
real busy with severity fire patrols and keeping everybody on my
department well rested for the big one!!
I would like to personally thank the folks that are down here in
Northern AZ from Montana, Oregon, and Idaho, who I have met over the past
couple of weeks. They have been out working on fire prevention details,
and from what I can see, you guys and gals are doing a great job. A
special thanks to the guys from ODF who, on behalf of the ASLD, stopped by
this past weekend for Mayer Daze. Your participation was well received by
the higher echalon of our community. Jenn, make sure they get this
Hope that everyone is staying safe. These lightning fires are getting
very frequent and a little crazy out there.
||Does anyone know if there is a power point presentation for all of the
Lessons for Standards for Survival?
||Does anyone know a web site that has an archive of fire weather data?
Specifically, I need the Haines index for a couple dates in March and
April of this year.
If you can help me out reply to Steve at
||To the guy who wanted the video suggestions: How about Inferno on Storm
King Mountain. Contact your ABC affiliate. It was aired on Turning Point.
There was a good piece on firefighters, smoke jumpers, a bit on the
function of prescribed burn, etc. It must have been on TV at some time, as
it had commercials. Dr. Brooks Sibley, a Humboldt State Forestry Faculty,
member showed it in one class I was invited to. You could call and ask him
what it was. I heard from students he had other good videos as well.
Anyone out there have a list of favorites. I wouldn't mind having an
alternative to backdraft! JUST KIDDING.
||yeah, i would give a nut to be on the line right now. Too all the
dispatchers in the west. Ill fight fire for food. Have engines will
travel. lol J/K the wife would kill me if i did that.
Since last week ive sent out 30 patches. Mellie I sent you one, also to
others in TX, AZ, BC, NY, Fl, Australia and lots too south cal.
I hearfrom multiple sources that they are expecting one hell of a
season. I am hearing sayings like "worst numbers in thirty
years" "Lowest rainfall in decades" "disaster, waiting
to happen" etc.
who knows for sure, we'll lick our wounds in November and see.
later all and have fun.
||I've got a topic I'll throw out for discussion. National policy states
that structure protection is the responsibility of states and local
governments, not the feds. Assuming a scenario of a lightning caused
wildland fire that is threatening a community, who should order and pay
for structure protection engines? Not too long ago everyone jumped on
board the P-code train.....but are the feds really ordering the equipment
or just advising the agencies with protection responsibility of a threat?
Old Fire Guy.
||I'm so tired of hearing on the news hotshots this and fed crews that.
They only make up about 50% or less. the rest of the crews come from the
private contractors and do we get any recognition? No, all we get is a
struggle. But we go on. Yeah, we're not as organized as the feds, but we
are just as good. No matter what is thrown at us, we will keep coming
back. I think in the next 5 yrs., people will see us as strike team
leaders, division sups, and in over head positions. I don't write this
because I want to be in the news or the papers, but to let people know
that we are out here, and were here to stay. With all the fed cut backs.
fire fighting as we know it is coming to an end, and starting a new era.
Where we all have to get along, so we all get a piece of the action. We
should all know by now that those in the private sector, will take over in
time. it's just a matter of time. So the feds can do one of two things (1)
fight it and get nowhere or (2) work with the contractors and form a
peaceful alliance, and help them get to the standards they hold dear.
Because one way or another, the contractors will take over. Maybe not all
of it, but they will take over. Sad but true.
p.s. You can send your thoughts to where you read this.
Readers are welcome to start a new thread anytime, as you just did.
||To whom this may concern.
Good day to you. My name is Ron Lamoureux, I am the fire chief in
Strathmore for the rural area. What I am looking for is some info on
wildland fire protective gear. mostly when we are on call to large grass
fires and also along the river banks. If you good point me in the right
direction I would greatly appreciate this. Also if you have any gear
looking to get rid of let me know. (practice gear and also probationaries
when on scene during their 6-mth trial period.)
Hope to hear from you soon!!
contact # 403-207-1066--bus. 403-934-3926--home. if required.
Strathmore Rural Fire
||to all the whiners: here we sit in washington state greener than hell
with resorces leaking out our asses and you all are bitching about the 14
day rule I'd give my left nut to go out for one. mp
I teach forestry and am looking for official and unoficial videos
concerning forest/wildland firefighting. If you could direct me toward
some videos, I would be most appreciative. Thanks you very much.
John M. Graham
Sir, Sir, SIR? Doesen't look like any SIRs here. Readers, any video
||The first in a semi-annual series of newsletters on Wildland fighter
health and safety issues is now available from the US Forest Servive
Technology & Development Center in Missoula, Montana.
Under the leadership of Dr Brian Sharkey, and the sponsorship of NWCG,
this newsletter will report the on-going efforts in the areas of: work and
rest issues; energy and nutrition; and fitness and work capacity.
For copies of the newsletter, please Email your requests (including
mail address and phone number) to : firstname.lastname@example.org
Fire & Aviation Program Leader
Chair - NFPA 1977
U.S. Forest Service
Technology & Development Center
Fort Missoula, Bldg #1
Missoula, Montana 59804 USA
||Has anyone seen the hour long benefit video of Los Alamo fire produced
by Albuquerque Eyewitness 4 TV? If it's good let everyone know.
Still cookin' in Arizona! Hotter and drier are the predictions for the
week. I sure hate to think how things are going to go when full blown
Monsoon season starts.
To reply to MOC4546;
You can ask AZTrailblazer, our agency utilizes VFD's as our firefighting
force. We would truly be lost without them. We have several folks from
Muni or VFD's who have esclated to type 1 team members or ATGS's,,,this is
unheard of in some states. A few days ago, we had a nasty fire along a
river that moved up into a populated area, the Federal agency who was in
charge made no contact with us or our VFD's on the scene regards to
protection of the structures, or evacuation of the town. We ended up with
a type 3 IC making the evacuation calls and ordering the structure
protection engines for this fire. In my own personal assesment, I believe
this particular Chief saved the Federal agencies bacon on this fire, only
one structure was burned. There is a belief that perhaps bringing in large
contract companies and staging them when we have a severe fire situation
is a good idea...I believe there is a place for contractors, when we
assemble a strike team or task force, I usually include one of these units
along with the remainder being either Muni or VFD's. Every one wins this
way. There is alot of expertise from the different agencies involved. Most
of those contractors have been employees of a state or federal
firefighting entity and can offer alot of experience.
I feel that the VFD's are skipped over or released early on fires
letting other federal or contractors to stay on later, they should be
alowed to finish their 14 day or whatever it is along side of everyone
ok, I got my 2cents in.....check out this website....
not only can you get a topo, but you can find an area you are unfamilar
with, I get calls from people reporting a fire that go much like
this....Theres a fire! my reply...Ok, where is it?...On the Hill!...my
reply...Which hill?...The Jones Creek Pass hill!!!and it is getting
BIG!!.....now I have no clue where Jones Creek Pass is, so I can go to
this website and fill out the form, and get a better idea of not only
where the hill is, but a topo and sometimes even an aerial photo! The
trick to this is fill out as little as possible on the form provided, do
not enter county, state or anything like that, just the geographic name
and hit enter.
Good luck and Stay Safe!
||Anyone have a photo of a model 45 engine they wouldn't mind sending me?
||Why beg for last years info, the 2000 Mob Guides books are out. For you
non-agency folks it seems that you can order the National Mob Guide direct
from the NIFC cache system. NFES #2092. 5 1/2 X 8 1/2 paperback version
$2.97 ea. GBK number is 208-387-5104. M-F only now (I think).
Here is the link.
||i do love the input on vollie fds. i have been on one for 15 years and
its a great experience. there are many departments that have no clue when
they get on location of a brush fire. they jump off the rigs with there
structural gear and go to work without any idea of what they have or what
the conditions are. in my department we work very well with the forest
fire service. yes, i am a part timer there but we have made the effort to
learn about the task. we dont look at it like its another bs call. we take
it for what it is.
the state doesnt even want vollies in the woods. is this a problem?
hell ya! what happens when the state is commited to a major fire? who is
going to handle the fire before it gets too big? i am a firm believer in
cross training. we dont want to take the states job. we just need to be
able to handle things until the state can arrrive. as they say, it takes 2
to tango. the commitment needs to come from both sectors- the state and
the vollies. you would think this is a reasonable goal. you would think.
well enough of this. just got done spending my weekend in baltimore in
haz-mat training. need lots of rest after that!
||Good pictures from r3 at
I have read with interest the comments about the 14 day limit for fire
assignments for this fire season. As a R-5 "militia" firefighter
with many seasons of firefighting throughout the region including hot shot
experience, I can see where the full time firefighters are coming from
when they express a desire to be gone for the maximum time possible on
each assignment. I've been there.
My understanding of the original intent for the 21 day limit was to
insure that firefighters would not be gone MORE than 21 days at a time.
After 21 days they were to be given time off to go back, pay bills, see
the family, etc. before they took off for another assignment. It now
appears to have evolved from being a limit to insure a person would return
to home base after 21 days to being an expectation that that person would
be gone for 21 days at a stretch. Those hired to fight fire as their
primary job should expect to gone frequently and for long durations
throughout a busy fire season--I've been there and expected and hoped for
However, as a "militia" (call-when-needed fireperson whose
primary job is something else) but still wants to continue in fire
suppression, the situation is different. Being called at midnight to 2 am
and being asked to take off in 2-5 hrs for 21 days is very hard for
militia to commit to. The Forest Service has grown much smaller over the
past 10 years. We don't have the depth outside the fire organization to
supply large numbers of militia as we once could. A few years ago if one
person left to take an assignment, there might still be three others who
could fill in. Today, if that person takes off there may be NO ONE to
cover that position. When you are dealing with contract administration
(timber sale, culture, etc.), someone has to administer the contract.
There are similar problems in other areas as well. I have had to decline
many assignments as well as make my personnel unavailable for assignments
on many occasions due to the 21 day limit. With a 14 day limit my
personnel and myself can be more available. As a former hot shot, I am
more than willing to let my people and myself be available for fire
(mainly operations line) assignments. (Everyone in my department is
expected to be red carded and available at least on forest.) But, as a
manager, I have to meet the objectives required of my department.
14 days makes sense for militia. 21 days, in my opinion, makes sense
for primary and secondary firefighters. I, too, have heard several
interpretations of the 14 day rule. It appears that only time will tell
how it is interpreted. I hope this helps to explain where others are
coming from and, most likely, one of the reasons for the 14 day limit.
Yes, we still have a militia out there, but its shrinking. We're still
ready, willing and, within time constraints, able to assist.
Be safe out there. It looks like a long fire season ahead. R-5's has
Thanks for the perspective DAS. Ab.
||Ab, Mellie, and others...
Don't worry none bout me.. that's a...request.. not much good at giving
orders.. too much of a laid back guy... Heh, of course the super-Tylenol
helps. Two weeks until I can type decently (that is, without this cast),
so don't mind it if y'all email and I don't get back to you too fast.
So, instead of worrying about me, worry about yourselves. Season got
into swing in latter parts of March, combined with NOAA predictions of
extended drought, it means that y'all be pretty busy this summer, plus
some, so tread lightly in the South West. Same goes for you guys in
Florida. Of course that always puzzled me. With Florida being hit by so
many hurricane's one would think that now Hurricane season's begun, we
could expect nature to right itself right? Okay so it's bad to fix one
disaster with another... I should go into meteorology and find some damn
way to funnel rain your way from up here in the Pacific North West. I
believe Eric at Pacwildfire and WP can testify to the motto of the region:
'Seattle Rain Festival: 1 Jan - 31 Dec!' Okay, time for me to stop this
codeine-Tylenol induced rambling.
Here here to the VFD/RFPD stuff being tossed about lately. I like it.
Too bad I can't comment on it more, joined up with the VFD here too late
in the year for anything other than auto-accidents and a pair of
structural fires, although from what I'm told there is wildfire abound
near where I am. Guess it only happens when we actually have sunny weather
A question to those who would know and would be willing to answer: Has
there ever been a need to dispatch 'Shot crews to Hawaii for purpose of
fire containment and suppression, if so when and which island were they
sent to? Just been knocking around a hypothetical situation in my mind is
all, not a whole lot else I can do, right? To spare Ab any unnecessary
mouse clicking, you could send the responses to my address:
So that being said, take care all, and I promise to try and take better
care of myself. Can't be a firefighter if I ain't in one piece, nor a
journalist-type if I can't write!
Tiny, the R-6 Fire Pup
||RE VFD comments
For starters I have been on two VFDs during the last 15 years, the past
12 while working full time with a state wildland agency. On top of this I
currently work with 7 other VFD's as a normal part of my job. While
working for the USFS in R5 many moons ago I had no contact with a VFDs
except for the one local one which probably did fit into the brew swilling
good ole boys club stereotype at the time.
The days of the "good ole boy club" type departments are
gone, but Im sure there are still a few out there. It s getting harder and
harder for VFDs to maintain active membership. Here as I assume most
places, the minimum training requirement have greatly increased the last
ten years or so. Also more and more employers are not willing to let folks
off at the drop of the hat to fight fires so daytime calls are
increasingly difficult to staff.
From a wildland agency viewpoint (or my personal view at least) you get
out of VFDs what you put in. With my agency we train one on one with each
dept as well as with numerous depts in larger training sessions each year.
This is on top of large fire exercises we put on every other year or so.
These are put on strictly for the VFDs that supply structure protection on
large fires. We put on S205 and "zone boss" (similar to div supt
for our structure branch) training every other year or so for the VFDs as
well. Chosen VFD members are on our local IMT and handle all of the
structural protection (we branched our ops section into a wildland branch
and structural branch) All this is not to say that they dont help out in
wildland suppression because they do. Typically the VFDs follow up behind
our tractor plows with 6x6 and 4x4s to help hold the line and mop-up (we
dont have the luxury of a pile of hand crews to call upon).
All in all you get out of VFDs what you put into it. Work with them and
train them, let them know what you need and expect and things will
typically work out great. Treat them like second rate crap and thats the
type of performance you will probably get.
OK, thats enough...kickin the soapbox to the next guy...
||My husband was a wildland firefighter based out of Reserve, NM for 2
seasons. Unfortunately circumstances have kept him from returning to the
job that he loves so much, but we want all of you know that you are in our
thoughts and prayers as this season is shaping up to be a monster season.
Keep up the good work and be safe!!!
There's some info at USFS Fire News. Please overlook the typos and
grammatical errors that "stand in silent tribute to all wilderness
firefighters". Yeegads, I feel like the grammar maid with my broom!
Is this the face our official national fire community presents to the
public? Mike, you need to hire someone competent like OUR webgoddess!!!
Make it so...
In all seriousness, a new Wildland Firefighter Monument was dedicated at
NIFC in Boise. A few nice pictures here. Also, some links to the latest in
fire news from across the US of A -- from Colorado, Utah, Florida and
other southeastern region states.
The thing I like the best about the wildland firefighting community is
the national interagency committment. It's great to hear from theysaid
posters from around the country, from VFDs to red trucks to USFS and BLM.
Interesting to hear from hotshots, about convict crews, from newbies to
old dogs, from those just back from the fireline to dispatchers who make
it all happen. I sometimes wonder what I'll do if I don't have my theysaid
"fix" every day. Thanks Ab! (Glad you're home. Rest up.) Thanks
Hey Readers, you need to know that we haven't heard from Tiny because
he has a broken wrist again. (Is it the same wrist, Tiny?) His truck got
creamed (totalled) by a drunk driver on Memorial Day. Thank goodness all
that was broken was your wrist, Pup! Get well soon!
Please be safe, my friends!
||Everyone, FERS Buyback Act of 1999 could allow firefighters to buy back
their temporary time performed after December 31, 1988, and before January
THIS IS A GIFT HORSE FOR MANY OF US IN FEDERAL SYSTEM - PLEASE - TAKE
TIME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
H.R.1606, sponsored by Rep. Kanjorski, (D., PA) the FERS Buyback Act of
1999 could allow firefighters to buy back their temporary time performed
after December 31, 1988, and before January 1, 1999.
This bill was referred to the House Committee on Government Reform on
4/28/1999 and referred to the Subcommittee on Civil Service on 5/10/1999:
It's still unclear, but this Bill may also allow firefighters over the
age of 35 to be hired into a career position if they have enough temp time
to retire with 20 years by age 55.
More info available at:
The way to make a difference is the same as strategy as my 5/27 post
for the Federal Employee Health Benefit.
Everyone affected must get everyone they know to get involved. A ground
swell of support from you, your co-workers, your friends and relatives is
required. Get on the Internet. Get people - a lot of people - fired up
about this. Tell them they need to write to their Federal representatives
and describe the above points in their own words.
As far as your elected representatives are concerned, the message is
heard louder depending on the medium in which it is delivered. A personal
visit is better than a telegram, which is better than a registered letter,
which is better than 1st class mail, which is better than an e-mail, which
is better than a “form letter.” Everyone needs to pack as much punch
delivering the message as they can afford.
Correspondence to your Senators and Congressional Representatives
should be professional, state the issues, and invite them to contact you
to answer any questions.
The more elected representatives that hear about this issue, the more
it becomes important to them, and the better chance of generating
||just wanted to respond to MOC4546 comments on volunteers (THANKS, btw)
I'm part-time fire crew in R-2 and full-time federal employee, and
don't get to go on as many fires as I would like to. I'm also a volunteer
with a local department. The department does a lot of mutual aid with
County Fire and with BLM/FS, as well as sending engines and crews out of
district to big incidents. Being on both sides of the fence, VFDs do get
snubbed, and the Federal crews (I'm talking engines here, primarily)
sometimes get accused of having a superiority complex. Our department
mainly does wildland, as we have a small response area and very few calls
other than wildland. Our training requirements are basically the same as
what my agency requires; in fact, my FMO assists in the training effort,
because he knows that the department is a valuable resource when the
crunch comes. I end up being a kind of informal liason between the agency
and the department, and as training officer, can kinda guide things along
VFDs often have the reputation as being a bunch of good-ole boy
beer-drinking cowboy firefighters (and some most likely are) but in my
experience they are a dedicated, hard-working group who put their lives on
the line just like everyone else. Sometimes I go on fires with the VFD.
Sometimes I go on fires with my agency. You know what? once we are all in
nomex, its really hard to tell who is who. Anyway, thanks for the vote of
confidence. and, yes, we do tend to know our own area pretty well, so when
it sparks up in our neighborhood and you get to come play, just ask a
volunteer to get the real skinny on water, roads, weather, access and all
Oh, and Cerro Grande WAS pretty impressive....
AMEN, FROM A 20 VETERAN VOLUNTEER F/F GOING ON STRIKE TEAMS SINCE 1987
IN R-5, THANK YOU...
DAN OF OBVFD
||I have been a reader for some time and I really love this page. I have
only been on two out-of-state- fires. I don't want to create any waves for
a great page but I would like to see 21 day assignments, I spend my own
time from my full time fire department to go fight the big fire on a 21
day assingment. The 21 days makes for a good pay-check for my family and
my-self for a good home prodject or maybe a well deserved vacation. Well I
will stop here for the time to see what kind of response I might get.
thanks, MO. Morris
I would like to make a few comments in support of MOC4546 words about
volunteers. On our small combination department the local BLM gave us our
initial training in wildland firefighting. They started with the S-190,
S-130, Standards for Survivial, S-131 and S-205. They then passed off with
a train the trainer courses on the S-190, S-130 and Standards for
Survivial. Every year we go through the same refresher that the BLM does,
we train our new people with the same classes they do. Are we red carded?
No we are not. Are we affective at fighting fires. You bet we are!
In our area the locals are called for their wildland engines as the
second and third out engines. Our water tenders are the first called.
The BLM theory around here is, the emergency agreement that we sign for
the season is hiring the truck only. The Chief of the department has to
certify that the folks on that truck are trained. We have to supply a list
of folks every spring to the BLM. This list contains the people that are
qualified to go out on the wildland engines.
MOC4546 you may have opened a can of worms, but at least I believe the
can holds water.
Thats enough, I'am rambling.
Wanted to let everybody know about a web site called Topozone.com. This
web site allows you to look up any quad map in the US in 4 scales 1:25000
to 1:200000. I thought this would be cool for people going to a fire in a
area that they never have been to before (all of us) to look at the
terrain on a map and get some idea if what slopes it is burning on or what
orientation the landscape is arranged. Its pretty easy to use just follow
the instructions and type in a general name of a landmark nearby and what
state it is in and bam out comes a topo quad of the area. Just for grins I
typed in Cerro Grande New Mexico and up came the map of the area. You can
print a 8.5 X 11 copy of the map but not sure if you can do much else.
Hope this works for those out there who would like to get a idea of what
they are going into as far as terrain goes. Looks like this is shaping up
to be a busy season for all of us. Keep heads up and be safe out there.
Don't forget about those snags.
This "new" 14 day policy is very ambiguous. Your discussion
with the FMO about "the true specifics" of the policy are only
HIS/HER interpretation of that the policy means. That's the problem. I
have been involved with the 14 day policy at various levels of the FS.
I've seen three different "policy letters" describing what it's
SUPPOSED TO BE. One of the letters was written by someone at NICC, one was
written by a Finance Section Chief, and one was written by an
Operations/Plans person. All three of the "interpretations" were
different. Each manager is left to "interpret" what is meant by
this "new" policy.
This comes back to what FOBSIF said in their post before. What problem
are we trying to fix?
The 14 days working, not including travel (which is more like 16-18
days when you add the travel) with 2 days off is not much different than
the 21 day policy. When you have fireline personnel out for 14 days, not
counting travel...give them 2 days off, then put them out for another 14
days, that equals to 28 days on the fireline with 2 days off. And when you
add in the travel time, you're talking 30-32 days with only 2 days off!
This work time to rest time ratio is WORSE than the previous 21 day
policy. By worse I mean, it gives fireline personnel less time to rest
than the previous policy. So, what problem is being fixed? Surely it's not
giving the firefighters any more rest time.
Now, I admit I'm not the greatest mathematician in the world. So, if my
math is wrong, I'll gladly listen to someone else add up the days for me.
As far as the 1999 National Mob Guide... I saw a whole bunch of them
laying around BIFC the last time I was there. I would suggest you contact
NIFC for a copy of the most current Mob Guide available.
||The discussion goes on, which crews are better? inmate or shots? I have
worked with both for almost 30 years and ran an inmate camp and crews for
Trying to compare the two is like comparing apples to pears. It all
depends on what the job is. If I have some hot line to get in quick and
have a choice I will take a shot crew every time, and maybe a select
inmate crew depending on the crew make up, The main item to consider is
how long has the crew been together and how many newbies are on the crew.
On the other hand, if I have a mop-up show, inmates are the best around.
See what happens to a shot crews attitude, moral, quality and production
if they have to mop-up for over 2 or 3 days. Shots want to be next to the
hot stuff, that is what they signed on for.
Now, I have worked inmates and shots together and have seen the inmates
roll over the shots, "kick them to the curb" and honk as they
went by, just to show them. Of course when they got over the top of the
hill they took a "long" break. Remember, inmates tend to be a
little older than the shots, work hard all year in the brush, are in good
shape, and have a little more muscle mass, they can do the job. What they
don't have it the classroom work, the ability to make independent
decisions or give much input.
Shot crews can be broken up in different configurations to accomplish
the task at hand, working with squad bosses or other overhead. The inmates
stay as a single unit, and have to be with the crew sup at all times. No
splitting the crew up, you do not have the flexibility with an inmate crew
as with a shot crew.
So what are the better crews? All depends, what do you what
accomplished and when?
The advise that Mellie gave to you is very good, check the sup and crew
boss out,( what there rep is) hook up with the seasoned fire fighters on
your crew and learn what they have to offer. And it is good experience to
look the beast right in the face. (Form a safe vantage point) There are
good people out there more than bad, no one wants to die. I hope to be
around to here more feed back, but looks like I must go and do my thing in
New Mexico. (see ya in 14) good luck to both of you Mellie and Newbie.
My name is Joline Gutierrez Krueger, a reporter at the Albuquerque
Tribune. I'm doing a color piece/retrospective on the Cerro Grande fire in
New Mexico and am looking for firefighters who wer on the line early on in
the fire. I've heard that some of the folks who were actually involved in
setting the prescribed burn were with the Black Mesa fire crew. I'd love
to talk to any of them for a personal glimpse at how it all went down.
Also, if anyone knows where Black Mesa is based out of and how I can reach
them I'd love to hear that, too. Thanks for all you do and for your help
in this project.
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
I need to get a copy of the 1999 Region 5/California Mobilization
Guide, specifically I need the Policy/Objectives, Administrative
Proceedures, Organization Cooperation, Directory, and Personnel. I would
be happy to cover any costs for shipping or copying, and would be happy to
trade some fire T-shirts for a copy of the Directory. I am trying to glean
information regarding agency cooperation agreements between federal
agencies and state/local government agencies, and the corrected and
current information regarding California's fire agencies. My most recent
copy is dated 1990 and I understand the 2000 MOB Guide is not out yet. If
anyone can help please let me know.
I talked with an FMO I know last week and asked him what the true
specifics were regarding the 14 Day Limit. He informed me that there was a
lot of dissention about it, primarily from engine and helitack crews. But
the way it is supposed to work is:
* 14 Days means 14 days on the fire grounds.
* Travel to the Incident and back home do not count as the 14 days. Anyone
who is counting travel time needs to be councilled.
* Crews that serve for 14 days are "supposed" to be released
from the fire for a two-day rest period and then can be returned to the
line for another 14 days, depending on the Operations Branch's decisions.
This can be extended for awhile past the 14 days is the fire conditions
warrant for all resources as we have seen recently with the Type I team on
the New Mexico at the Cerro Grande Fire. Crews don't have to be sent home,
they can be placed on R&R for two days and returned but it is up to
the staff to realize it. The rule definately needs to be refined further.
* The extentions they have talked about are based on the critical need for
specific resources (IE helitack, smokejumpers, etc.) that are in short
supply. So if they have two hundred engines on a fire and need shot crews,
the engines are not going to be held over the 14 day limit, but the crews
This is a new rule and unfortunately people are having a hard time
As far as what happened at the Cerro Grande Fire, the moratorium on
control burns will be lifted at the end of the 30 days for everyone to go
back to burning, except for the National Park Service. For now NPS's
control burns are finished for the season until otherwise decided. There
were a lot of things that were left out by the media regarding what
happened at the fire, and there was a lot going toward human error for
some understandable reasons which for one person are very personal and
will not be discussed here. Sufficient to say, those who were responsible
for the Bandolier Burn have been re-assigned to other areas and
responsibilities pending a Review panel which will determine the
punishment for them, which will be reassignment, demotion, or termination.
TO HELLitorch, I agree with you regarding the 13/13 appointments and
why we are losing people because of the lack of permanency and benifits. I
worked with a guy who came down from Region 6 many years ago who told me
that in order to retain people they made many of the positions 13/13 as
far down as the GS-04 position, which would give them benifits and keep
them open for work beyond the traditional 1039 hrs temporary appointment.
Everyone needs to understand that change is not going to happen unless you
participate in the political process by contacting your representatives
and getting involved with the Unions that have been organized. The
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the Wildland Fire
Fighter Service Asso. (WFFSA) are the ones who will help you get there.
Support comes by personal and financial participation. Don't let your
older fire supervisors slam you into not joining or helping, get involved.
AZ TrailBlazer. I was in Phoenix during the first of May for my
grandmother's funeral and was going to make the trip up to your area but I
was told that you were on the fire going near Prescott. I'll let you know
when I'll be out there next time.
Mellie. Keep on going! don't let anyone discourage you from posting and
saying whats on your mind.
To everyone. This summer is looking to be a good and busy fire season.
There are going to be many of you traveling all over to go to fires, cover
other forests and districts in areas your not familiar with, and you will
be at a disadvantage. If you find yourself in this position going to a
fire in an area your not familiar with there is a strong informational
resource you can use to help you better fight the fire: They are the Local
Volunteer Firefighter. THese people live in the area year round, respond
to all incedents in there area and not just wildland fires. They will be
familiar with the terrain, the fire conditions, the trouble spots, and
what the weather will do at a given time of day. Use these people's
knowledge and skills to help get the fires controled, don't discount them,
BS them, or treat them like crap. More and more volunteers are trying to
be pushed out of the wildland fire arena by people who use the excuse of
"We can't have them on the fire, they're not redcarded."
Regardless of the red card issue, they are a viable resourse, they are
equipped and trained to do the job and regardless of the pay issue they
are used very heavily in Region 5 for local and large scale fire
operations. They respond as single resources, on strike teams/task forces,
and work as hard as the paid people on the line. Guess where those first
in water tenders are coming from? Guess where that second or third in
engine is coming from? We cannot, regardless of organization, continue
down the road that is being paved now where volunteers are being pushed
out by paid engines in aiding in suppressing wildland fires, particularly
when the fire is in the home area. Guess what guys, many of those
volunteers have more experience fighting wildland fires than your second
or third year seasonal firefighter. CDF and the Forest Service here in
Region 5 in certain areas have been doing this and it needs to stop. So
what if there equipment is a little older, or if its a Type 2 engine
instead of a Type 3 or 4? They are a great resource to utilize and should
be discounted the way they are now. In a majority of the cases (at least
here in Region 5) the volunteer's equipment is in better shap than the
contractors engines and water tenders are, these people not only can fight
wildland fires but can free up IA resources for those duties by providing
Urban/Interface coverage, and handling threats to private property. What
is the political agenda for pushing the volunteers out of wildland fires?
To get more funding by placing a system in there that excludes a specific
group from a certain duty? That is discrimination. I seem to recall a fire
in 1987 where the IC said he turned the volunteers and other fire
resources around because "This is a Forest Service Fire, and we will
use only Forest Service resources" when he had three volunteer
engines there to at the very least give him water. He used the excuse
"they didn't use proper PPE" but that was found to be incorrect.
Because of that decision the fire went several thousand acres and
destroyed both marketable timber and millions of dollars in unnecessary
Everyone is using the excuse "how are they trained?" Well, in
Region 5 depending on where the Volunteers are located, many of them take
the time to go to the CDF 67-hour or Forest Service 32-hour course when
offered, or participate in a formalized annual wildland training program
either with a group of fire departments in their area or county, or
through their local community college. And just like any paid or contract
fire crew they can be dismissed from a fire for lack of performance or
unsafe work practices. During the Kirk, Tasajara, and Butte Complex fires
I saw more volunteer water tenders than contractors or paid water tenders.
Some were just basic put togethers (like what many contractors use) but
many were fire apparatus-designed water tenders being operated by
competant crews who in many cases go out on as many fires each season that
a seasonal engine crew will go on. Volunteers are not a threat to anyone's
job or funding. Volunteers are there year-round and go to the wildland
fires before, during, and after the official fire season. They know the
back roads, dozer trails, and special ins and outs of there response area
because it is where they live and should be utilized. Did you know that
the volunteers take the money they earn from there equipment and pour it
back into there fire company for improved fire/rescue equipment and
When I read the report from last year's Lewiston Fire in Trinity County
(California) the volunteers were called from two agencies to support the
control burn operation when the paid engine crews failed to show up. THey
were asked to help and they provided four Type 4 engines and a Type 2
Water Tender to help with the burn. They supported the burn and kept it
within containment as they were assigned. When it did escape in an area
they were not covering they fought the fire along with the paid fire crews
for several days. When the report came out rather than a mention of the
good job they did filling in for the crews that did not show, there was a
negative mention regarding Red Card Training in that "All crews on
the fire are to be Red Card Certified and trained. The volunteer fire
crews were not red card certified." Although the volunteers were not
responsible for starting or losing control of the fire, someone saw fit to
add this to the report that put an underhanded slant on one group because
they did not fit someone's description of a wildland firefighter. Those
people worked hard on that fire, and although nothing they did caused
injury or damage, a stigma has been placed there that is not easily
removed. It wasn't was said in the report, but what was not said and
insinuated by a simple statement.
There are those of you who keep the premise of "We don't want to
use them because they aren't trained the same as we are." Then fine,
the next time you put on an FS 32--hour or CDF 67-hour course why don't
you BITE THE BULLET, and invite them to attend AT NO COST? Take the reins,
lead by example, put your money where your mouth is! Find a way to make it
happen. If they don't or won't attend then that is there problem, and you
have done your share. Stop leaving the volunteers out of your operations,
because one day you guys will treat them so badly that they won't respond,
and you'll be the ones with egg on the face when it comes out.
This started as a simple request and reply, but has escalated to the
Can of Worms.
||As the calendar pages fly off the wall and we're already well involved
in the promise of a very eventful fire season, the May postings have been
archived. Good discussion topics this month folks. I'm glad to
see the CDF handcrews getting some respect, they've come a long ways over
the years. Watch the winds, post a lookout, check yer batteries, and
stay safe. Ab.
||Wha ya goin do, your havin a beer or 3 at a party, someone asks you to
cover for him on his team?? the next thing ya know your turnin down
assignments!! If i wanted to stay on the district i would have become a
forester, least then no one would be suprised. read the initial review of
the big hill fire today, interesting!! don't want to throw any rocks so
i'll read again and wait for the agency to throw em @ all of us.
Our team was on a tough fire in Northern California back in '94. With
the exception of one shift when I had a shot crew assigned, all the crews
on my division were contract and inmate crews. They all did a terrific job
and was very impressed with the inmate crews.
Inmates had excellent supervision, safety practices and work ethic!!!
Would take them anytime.
||Howdy! back at you Linescout. I'll be out your way later next week. I've
got to make a tour through Marana, and Colorado for the Wildfire Academy.
Then I'm going to Las Vegas to do my part on redistributing the wealth in
America. I'll be back up for fire assignments on the 17th and there seems
to be no shortage of demand.
Hate to break the news to Raven, but if your working for any Federal
agengy this year your not exempt. The only way your exemption is valid is
if your working for a state or other agency that doesn't use the 14 day
limit. R-3 is saying the 14 day rule as not had any adverse effect on
getting resources. We'll see if they are still saying that in the middle