JUNE 2000

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06/30 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

06/30 Hi there--

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 principle.

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--

06/30 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 howdy.
     BC Davis
06/30 Lo all,

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 friends.

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!


06/30 wt,

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]


06/30 Look here:www.tri-cityherald.com/hanfordfire/story33.phpl for some media info on the Hanford fire. Noname
06/30 wt
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 Exempt?
06/30 Hey Gang,

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 WGB.

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 block!!

AZ Trailblazer (I'm back)

06/30 Blackhand,
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 now.


06/30 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:


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 observer).

Air View                               Factor                  Ground View
Low brush                              X 3           Towering impenetrable brush
Wadeable river depth of        X 2.6        Barely survivable crossing water
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 adjusting>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

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.

06/29 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.

The first 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 fire.

Adrenalin Junkie

Will get these up on the equipment page this weekend. Ab.

06/29 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 this risk?

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.


06/29 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.


06/29 firehorse,

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.


06/29 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.
Be careful.
06/29 Blackhand,

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.


06/29 Firewatch,

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 retirement.

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.


06/28 Here is one and another 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? Ab.

06/28 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 five_waters@hotmail.com. I might be down your way pretty soon and wonder if you're going to be there or out on a fire.

06/28 Tiny the Fire Pup,
A couple of posts ago you referred to both Abercrombie and Maddog as "sirs". Taint so, their enlisted men.
Later, Dave
06/28 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.


06/28 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.php
-- kellygal
06/28 C.Rupp

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.


06/28 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. Ab.

06/28 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.

06/27 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 NAMES.
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!
--Karen Dahlby
06/27 I am looking for any information on Harry T. Gisborne. Any suggestions?
C. Rupp
06/27 Monday and Tuesday were my days off for nearly 20 years of my firefighting career.
    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 Mountain?
    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 calling.
    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 none.
    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.

Be safe.

PS I always use the handline slamming for my metaphors, somehow that is the guts of this business.

06/27 Ab,

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.

Dana Linscott
Vice Chair

06/27 (um, warning: long post alert. those with short attention span should skip this).

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,
[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.


06/26 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...


06/26 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.

06/25 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 Firefighters Museum


We have a link to J and M on the links page. Ab.

06/24 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.
06/24 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 interpreting poetry...

As Ever,

"Ranger" Tiny, of Region 6, who is still y'alls pup!

PS And yes, that 'Sir' title is required Maddog... as is yours, Ab...

06/24 With respect to the airtanker and Global Emergency Response discussion,
Guy said:

>>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.

I am the Mr. Anderson (John) who Guy says he can't reach and I want a chance here:

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 downloading. Ab.

06/24 Ranger:
Upon the valley floor we can see the storm cloudings rising.
Stop asking.

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 color
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.

06/23 Hi gang,

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.


06/23 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.


06/23 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!

06/22 Hi all--
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 opinion.

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 reason... :)


06/22 hey Ab,
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 to fire.

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 forest?

You can find me at firepup21@yahoo.com. 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.

06/22 > 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, heh. Ab.

06/22 Ab;

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 this ??

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 equipment appropriately.

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 media information.

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!


06/22 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 bureaucracy evolves.
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 there.
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 issues.
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?
How about............
........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.

06/22 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.


06/22 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!!

06/22 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.

06/21 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 is
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 we 
do things here in south jersey. i hope you all enjoy the pictures she took. 
the brush truck is my pride and joy. if it came down to my wife or fighting 
fire in the brush truck- well- i would really miss my wife. well enough for 
now. hope to see ya this summer.
                                       BC Davis
06/21 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 up. adftr

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 out.  Ab.

06/21 Russian airtanker?
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.
06/21 Hey!  Does anyone have a contact for a Cerro Grande fire T shirt vendor?  I 
missed one this trip! Thanks


06/21 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 train, or
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.

06/20 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 ftoons@firetoons.20m.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.

06/20 Tony "Killer" Duprey is back with L.P. 'Shots. Congratulations Killer.


06/20 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:
Thanx, Blackhand
06/20 Ab,

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.

Be Safe,


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.

06/19 Hi
Here is the California Interagency Incident Management Team 5 New Web Site:


You can link to it if you want.

Yes and yes again. Ab.

06/19 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!




06/19 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.
06/19 Hi there.....

I am a BC in a city fire department in northern CA. My nephew just joined a 
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.  Ab.

06/19 The following has been in my desk for several years, it is titled "common 
errors in firefighting".  Although the verbiage is dated, basic principals of 
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.

06/19 Some photos from a fire in the jack pine barrens of NW Wisconsin this spring.


..Lets everybody be safe out there, looks like it will be a long one.

Jim Gobel

06/19 Firehorse,

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.

06/19 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 for maintenance.


06/18 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 five_waters@hotmail.com) 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*!

06/18 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.
         BC Davis
06/18 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!!!


06/18 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!!


06/17 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 AD.

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 friends.

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.

Pacific Wildfire
253 221 6903
800 704 4594

06/17 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).

06/16 Pyrodactyl

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.

06/16 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.
         BC Davis
06/16 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 does.
     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 smaller.


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 destination.

06/16 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 be gagged!


06/16 RF

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 staff meeting.

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.


06/16 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 read one.

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 wildland ffers.
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

06/16 All

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 next week.

They have established a fund raiser for the frefighters
The Cashier
PO Box 1967
Hurstville NSW 2220

Cards and letters can be sent through

Brian Gilligan
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
PO Box 1967
Hurstville NSW 2220

06/16 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.


06/16 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.
Good times.


06/15 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 thing going...


06/15 Wow,
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.

Dana Linscott

06/15 To Dana:

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 away!)

To Maddog:

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 five_waters@hotmail.com ...

06/15 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.


06/15 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 5 Smokejumpers.


06/15 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 them.
    Somehow, somewhere, the simple statement: (for the Federal sector) must be answered without the gobbygook of political tongue twisting -
    "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 department.
    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.
    Be safe.
06/15 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 next thursday.

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 every assignment.

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,


06/15 Mellie,

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 their superiors.

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 but true.

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 disseminated.

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 linscott@rea-alp.com

06/15 Maps of fires and fire prediction:

www.nifc.gov/fireinfo/firemap.phpl National

www.nifc.gov/fireinfo/potentmap.phpl National Predictions from NIFC and hit the narrative button at the bottom for the regional forecasts.

www.fl-dof.com/fire2000/maps/613/061300.phpl Florida

06/15 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.


06/15 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 first.

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,
SoCal Dispatcher

06/14 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


06/14 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.

Dispatch Dude

06/14 Hey all--

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.

06/14 Dispatch Dude:

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 firefighter jobs.

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.


06/14 Hi Ab,
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.phpl
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.

06/14 Dispatch Dude,

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 private contractors.

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.

Dana Linscott

06/13 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.phpl#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.

06/13 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.


06/13 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.
Dispatch Dude

06/13 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 flames.

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

Condolences. Ab.

06/13 FOBSIF:   Right on brother!!!!   CF5945
06/12 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 amaze you.
06/12 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 the organization. 

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.

Dana Linscott
Vice chair

06/12 Before I get into the contract crews vs. fed crews vs. any other type of crew 
discussion, I want to thank Kelly for letting us know SoCal FINALLY got their 
act together and started posting situation reports.  I don't know if you had 
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 remember 
there is always another side of every story.  Every firefighter has had an 
assignment where they worked out well and where they didn't do so great.  So, 
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, inmates 
(both county and state) and Type 2 AD crews, contract crews, BIA crews, and 
OC crews in my 23+ year career (which by the way started on a Type I hotshot 
crew).  And ya know what?  I've seen many of them have good assignments and 
bad assignments.  They each serve a purpose on the incident they are assigned 
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.  We have 
hotline, cold trail, mop up, rehab and others.  Some of these tasks are more 
"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 to 
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 positive for 
the wildland fire service.  It's great for each crew to have pride in their 
work and for their crew.  But pride for one at the expense of another is 
destructive and has no place in our profession.


06/11 HiAb,

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 point.

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 dispatch assignment?


06/11 I agree with most everything except this "Sometimes you have to follow
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.


06/11  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.


06/11 Sit reports for Southern California are now online again. kelly
06/11 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.


06/11 craig,
   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
Mo Morris
06/11 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 them out,
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 get
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.
   thanks mp
06/10 Hi folks,
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.


06/10 Firehorse,

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.

Hunter '45

06/10 To CF5945,

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.

Thanks ab
A Contract Crew Over 50 Guy

06/10 Someone asked about the quality of the ABQ Channel 4 video. The quality and content are very good. I am
1. Los Alamos resident,
2. Smokejumper,
3. Los Alamos helitac helper (Los Alamos county radio operator and Liason).

From a personal point this was one of the most violent fires that I have experienced.

Chuck Mansfield

Thanks "jumping" in, Chuck. A first-hand perspective is welcome. Ab.


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 acre.

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,

later eric



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!

06/10 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.
06/10 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


06/09 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 boarpen@yahoo.com


John "Tex" Dean

06/09 Hi AL

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


06/09 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 13).

Entrapments and fatalities
1990-1998Twenty 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.php kelly.

06/09 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.


06/09 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."


06/09 Ramble,

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 Bubba!!

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.


06/08 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 beer anymore.


06/08 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.

06/08 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.

06/08 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, puuuleeeess!

    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
    Ramble (again)

06/08 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 there too.

That means the unsuccseful contractors are disappearing, the better ones are growing. The government knows who they like, and the phone calls reflect it.

that about covers it.

AB you still in SW?
hope your feeling better Tiny.

later all, and rip it up!!!!!!!!!


06/07 Ab
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...

Stay Safe

06/07 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 papers.



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.

06/07 Hey All,

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 message!! :)

Hope that everyone is staying safe. These lightning fires are getting very frequent and a little crazy out there.

AZ Trailblazer!

06/06 Does anyone know if there is a power point presentation for all of the Lessons for Standards for Survival?


06/06 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
06/06 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.


06/06 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.


06/06 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.
06/06 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. Ab.

06/06 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.
Ron Lamoureux
Fire Chief
Strathmore Rural Fire

06/05 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
06/05 Dear Sirs:

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 suggestions? Ab.

06/05 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 : pubs/wo_mtdc@fs.fed.us

Dick Mangan
Fire & Aviation Program Leader
Chair - NFPA 1977
U.S. Forest Service
Technology & Development Center
Fort Missoula, Bldg #1
Missoula, Montana 59804 USA

Work: 406-329-3849
Fax: 406-329-3719
Email: dmangan@fs.fed.us

06/05 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.


06/04 Hi all!

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 else.

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!

06/04 Anyone have a photo of a model 45 engine they wouldn't mind sending me?


Stan (sbercovitz@earthlink.net)

06/03 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.


Dispatch Dude

06/03 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!

BC Davis

06/03 Good pictures from r3 at



06/03 Hi Ab,

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 that.

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 just begun.


Thanks for the perspective DAS. Ab.

06/03 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: rangertiny@hotmail.com

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

06/01 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...


06/02 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!!!


06/02 Everyone,

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 fire community!

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!

06/02 Everyone, FERS Buyback Act of 1999 could allow firefighters to buy back their temporary time performed after December 31, 1988, and before January 1, 1999.


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 necessary change.


06/02 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 federal lines.

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 that stuff.

Oh, and Cerro Grande WAS pretty impressive....

06/02 TO MOC4546,



06/02 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.


06/02 Hi Ab

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.


06/02 To MOC4546...

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.


06/02 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 13.

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?


06/01 New Firefighter,

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. Remember LCES.


06/01 Hi,
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.
jglenn@abqtrib.com or jolinegkg@yahoo.com
06/01 Hi AB,

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 might.

This is a new rule and unfortunately people are having a hard time understanding it.

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 property damage.

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 vehicles?

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.


06/01 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.
06/01 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.
06/01 Michael, 

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. 


06/01 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 of June.


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