"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
||Greetings, I am the mother of James Brown, a Chelan (Washington state)
Rappeller who is in Provo, Utah today. He said he was interviewed
that I would be able to locate his interview under "current
have been unable to locate the catagory. If you can assist me,
It would be great to see him and forward the info to family. Thanks!
Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you! Diane Brown
||Just gettin up on the soap box for a second... We ran into alot of this
the Hi Meadow fire here in CO...
Apparently, alot of mountain residents took the Y2K thing very
and have stock-piled everything including gasoline and propane. This
we found to be located all over the property - 20 and 100 gal propane
cylinders buried under pine needles (to keep them cool???).
Anyway, I had to pull my shorts out of my throat several times when
structure protection and one of the things vented not 10 feet away (sounds
like a jet taking off). We found other stuff - buried/hidden bunkers
containing ??? didn't even go there, turned around and selected another
Just wanted to let everyone know the potential of what's out there.
close look at your surroundings before the fire gets there (if you have
luxury). BE SAFE!
||According to the SIT report, the US is currently 18% over the 10 year
average for number of fires and 82% over for the number of acres.
Interesting how less than 20% more starts result in the much larger ratio
of acres burned.
just another dispatcher working overtime.
||Thanks to Kent for the report on his trip back to D.C. So there it
federal wildland fire fighters, your agencies haven't got the interest,
expect the huevos to show up before a House Sub-committee to discuss the
overtime pay cap; and I would think a whole bunch of other items the
congresspeople would be mulling over, with 250,000 plus acres burning out
control in the nation. This is the kind of reaction that really
an old maddog, and is the kind of attitude we've been facing since well
before the mid-70's from our wonderful leaders.
Having just read the morning incident report, brother are we in for it in
August! They better skip right up to about 4 battalions of Army
the bat. Remember Yellowstone? The Siege of '87? Now
just how will they
deploy them remains to be seen? My last encounter with running an
dispatch operations last year, showed me that STL Crew (military) will be
very rare critter indeed. But I'm willing to bet my old boss is
right now. Go Big John!
I've got to go and take a walk and plan my next official vent on the
developments out of D.C.
Since most of you will be off on some coyote ugly mountainside right
I'll send out my wishes both verbally here, and mentally as I mediatate;
each and everyone of you safely navigate this fire season. Remember,
California is just now coming up to prime, so there's an incredible amount
potential fire yet to be. Be SAFE. REMEMBER your BASICS. Keep
up. HELP each other.
There is NO piece of ground, no resource more valuable than YOU.
Keep on, keepin' on
||As promised this morning. An update from FWFSA president Kent
FWFSA Legislative Update
A hearing before the Civil Service Subcommittee in regard to H.R. 2814
(the bill the FWFSA had Representative Pombo introduce) was scheduled for
7/26/00. Myself and CPF 5th District VP Judd flew to Washington DC
to testify at the hearing. Upon arrival in DC (some 12 hours prior
to the hearing) we were notified that the hearing had been postponed.
This apparently due to the administration’s indecision of their support
of our bill. The information I received while in DC for two
days was that the administration was going to hang their hat on the HR
1770 bill, which Cummings introduced nearly two years ago. HR 1770
provides all federal employees overtime pay which is the greater of the
current GS-10/1 pay cap or their base salary, which ever is higher.
In other words, you would have to be a GS-12 or higher to see a benefit in
this bill. Did you know that the most populated GS grade level is in
fact the GS-12 in the U.S.? This bill is figured to cost about 100
million dollars and will have almost no effect for our wildland
On the other hand, our bill HR 2814 is costed out at 3 million and
would effect those in the Captain ranks and above. The two bills
have no similarity. HR 1770 has ten co-sponsors to date (dead in the
water), and HR 2814 has 66 and still growing. We were provided about
2 hours with members of the Civil Service Subcommittee on this trip and it
seemed fruitful, i.e., we were able to educate them about the bill and the
issues in a more casual atmosphere. I was able to provide the Civil
Service Subcommittee with 8 additional written testimonies from our fellow
FWFSA members and was asked to provide additional information as well.
We have two potential occurrences here. One is that we can provide
enough convincing information to the Civil Service Subcommittee that would
allow them to mark up the bill to the full committee with recommendation
to the floor of the House. The other option is to reschedule the
hearing for September, at which time the Agencies would again be invited,
but if they fail to provide testimony or show up to testify, we would
continue the hearing without them.
We have hopes of including the issue of the inclusion of HP as part of
basic pay for retirement calculations into HR 2814 and will continue to
I also spoke with Senator Burns office about S 1498, our mirror bill in
the Senate. Some potential still exists for inclusion of S 1498 into
an Appropriations bill. There are some good folks in Burns’s
office pursuing every option.
All in all I was very dissatisfied that the Agencies did not provide
testimony or show up for this hearing. Especially when just 1 ½
years ago they in fact put in a request to the OPM to eliminate the pay
cap for firefighters. OPM’s reply was that they understood but did
not have the power to change law – that would take legislation.
So, the FWFSA provided the vehicle by crafting a bill which satisfied this
request and then those who originally requested this are seemingly not in
FWFSA President, Kent Swartzlander
||Ab, we would appreciate this note be posted on your web site:
We are looking for Wildland fire retirees or others with logistic
in Unit or Branch wildfire positions to work with a contract ICS team
managing a large staging area near Missoula, MT. The team is operating a
facility fire camp, and the camp is located in a forest setting with
of shade. Team members are housed and fed on site.
Pay is by the private contractor and higher than AD rates. A 14 day
commitment is required. Shifts are 12-14 hrs and pay is 8 hours base pay
time and a half for hours beyond 8. Pay rates range from $10-$35 per hour
depending upon position filled. Current NWCG red cards are not a
requirement. On the job training will be provided to get team members up
For more information contact Bob Alvord, Deputy IC at 541-975-4730. If
not be reached in a reasonable time email your name, phone number and
summary of experience to: email@example.com
||Any idea of FWFSA testimony results this week? Maybe a Place to read on
"Thomas" web site? Only thing I can find with a number is
the meeting & 2203.
Lots of people thinking the paycap was raised and a retro active back pay
Jan? Maybe somebody has a scoop? Swartzlander was there, no
news on the
FWFSA web page.......... "Neadermeyer"
I spoke with Swartzlander yesterday briefly, he said he was met by a
representative as he exited the plane and was advised the hearing was
canceled. I'll try to get a statement from Kent today. Ab.
||I, too, am wondering about the "rathole" of resources in
Nevada. The last few fires that I have been on in my area have had
little in the way of resources to play with. Since the national
preparedness level went to 5, we have kept staffed 3 dozers on ot, along
with an elevated manning level at all our stations
because the cup hath runneth over, so to speak, everywhere but here (not
counting the cricket fire, now at 60k acres and no end in sight), well,
stay safe everyone. Nytinarmor
UH1', 204's, 205's and 212's are grounded. It is
aircraft specific in some cases. The USFS obtained a
50 hour exemption from the FAA for it's firefighting
aircraft. CDF is using the National Guard to replace
some of their aircraft.
Latest word on the Bell helicopters I heard is that CDF was grounding
today until the first ones can be fixed, probably by Monday. Sounds
the federal word is that it will probably happen very soon.
Just finished reading Hickman's section, and Ab's response, and have
say. Number one, yes, it's been an incredibly slow week on the site.
attributed it to all of us being incredibly busy, as I'm sure you all
And second, I'm guessing, this is the big stuff we all knew was coming,
it's not a surprise. Kept waiting for it last year, but things just
quite come together in such an explosive fashion.
Well, my point is, I've been expecting this for some time, I suppose,
guess I don't really have any comments at this time. More of the
really: lots of fires, more and more houses threatened, resources
stretched. What's to say? Except, I'm too tired to say much at
take care out in the heat y'all, and be careful. Our wx here hasn't
quite as predictable as it can look in the wx briefing, so take care!
||Ab. Some cold news on a hot day:
All Bell helicopters have been grounded until new inspection criteria
on their main rotor shafts, dictated by the FAA, has been completed and
All AD hired tree fallers must pass the Arduous WCT prior to their next
All USFS dozer operators must pass the WCT at the Moderate level prior to
their next assignment.
Fact or Fiction?
Sign me Uh Oh.
||AB, the reason STL crew are a critical need is because they activated
military. Therefore they need 32 STL's for a 30 day commitment to
with them or they cannot put them in the field. This is the kind of
the portal to portal folks live for. With resources as short
as they are
wonder if we will resort to a "draft" of STL's. Everybody
be safe out
there, we have a long way to go with no relief in sight. Pager going
got to go.
I think I get your point and think we both read the same part the
same way. My point was that ten years ago or even a little further
back during Yellowstone with massive military activation the need for
STLCs wasn't refererred to as "critical", ya just ordered them
up and they came. What was that old cliche, something about having a
war and no one showed up? Ab.
||Good day from the Ozarks. Well as good as can be expected, anyway,
still sitting on the front porch watching a whole dang procession of cars
going by and haven’t found the right one to latch onto yet.
Would be out
there if I had not of have had an unexpected (Add obscene,unkind, and
profane language into this area.) commitment come up. But come
hope to be off this porch and dragging in a few vehicles to bury in the
yard. That is if you’ll let a Ozark Hilbille into your neck of the
The State of Missouri has sent out one crew, working on second, and
sent some overhead into Idaho and Colorado, but I’m still set here.
those which don’t like long post….STOP HERE!)
Have been watching ‘Theysaid’ for sometime and have seen a great
good information coming across the different post. Being a fire
living around a fire station putting up with a lot of BS, I I enjoy
down at the computer, both on and off duty and reading that others have
same problems as I, but only in a different area of service. To me,
dropping by the ‘Theysaid’ page and reading all the comments.
There are so
many areas on the net that you can go to and read a lot of ..DEEP.. BS,
to be able to come into ‘Theysaid’ and read what people think is truly
enjoyment. In just the last few months alone, I loved the comments about
Lookouts and all the information that was exchanged. Including
“humble apologies” and to your response…(Use to work in one of the
footers in Missouri and now wish they would take it down due to its’
condition, just because it’s not the same as it was in the good old
And, I too have walked a little funny once or twice from the butt chewing,
but remarkably Firecapt, those chew marks do heal) Loved
the letter from
the schoolteacher, which thought that ‘Theysaid’ was to rough a place
school students to visit due to the language and comments…(As if some of
these kids haven’t heard worse.) Enjoyed Utah Wife’s letter and
to it, (My wife has been there a time or two also) ‘Theysaid’ is
a place to
sit and speak your mind, express your thoughts, and even pop off a little
steam, even if others may not agree with what is said, everyone is
to their opinion and everyone has the right to speak their. Even if
don’t all agree which each other, we still can speak our piece and that
one thing that we should all agree upon. At least no one has walked
the page and shot someone else over a remark, although Firecapt may have
gott’n chewed on a little. Sometimes today’s world is to
Correct. We are so afraid of offending others and try to C.O.A’s
not Call Our Attorney, it’s called Cover Our Ass..ets) that we sometimes
forget how we got to where we are today. Men and Women (had to
and California Wives, Kelly, Millie’s and the rest of the female gender
covered to be PC) alike have fought and died giving us that right and to
those individuals I not only tip my cap, but remove it and cover my heart.
Before this fire fighter runs on to much farther, I’ve got a couple
questions for the creator of this page.
I once read in your page, where you had a huge number of hits during the
month on your page, I assume that you have a counter somewhere hidden from
all of us. I am curious as to when did you start
‘Theysaid’, your archives
go back to October – December of 97 and it appears that it had started
sometime before that.
Question 1: So how many times has your page been viewed since you
it or since you started counting?
Question 2: Did you ever think that it would take off the way it has
has it met your expectations from your original idea of what the page
or would do?
Question 3: And, (I know only a couple of questions) How much
you think “The Wildland Firefighters Web Page will go?
Thanks Again Ab! Enjoyed releasing the pressure of not being out
And I’m not sign’n off with another name (If’n you don’t like what
I got to
say or it’s to long….Lump it!)
Thanks for the kind, generous comments Hickman. Any and all
Ozark 'billies are welcome in my neck of the woods. I sincerely
welcome and appreciated your kind words. It's posts like yours and
the one a couple messages down, and all the others over time, that fuel my
committment to keeping this site alive. It never seems to fail that
just as soon as I began thinking this site may have outlived it's
usefulness or Abercrombie doesn't seem able to rise to the challenge, that
appreciation, a fresh flow of ideas, questions, or new, addictive topics
appear. The last week has probably been one of the slowest on this
page I remember. Course, sometimes I can't remember past last week,
especially during this time of the year. I enjoyed your
encapsulation of the messages posted here during the past several weeks.
It's a stimulating reminder of the variety of issues important to many
different firefighters, those who love them, and why Abercrombie must
remain focused on his duties.
As for your questions, interesting timing on your part cause I've
recently been asked in another email some similar albeit far more pointed
questions. I've been composing a reply to the message and am trying
to get it posted here asap. I will provide answers to
"who" Abercrombie is, "when" the site was born, and
especially "why" the site was created.
While you and any other curious readers await the shocking (mostly
boring) details, I'll answer some of your questions. First, I really
don't have a good grasp on the real "total" number of times the
site has been viewed since it's first publishing. I've experimented
with several counters prior to the one shown on the bottom of the main
page. Theoretically, according to the current ISP, it counts all
hits on all pages, but I don't think so cause several experiments show
otherwise. But it does provide a general idea or at least a ratio of
busy days compared to slow ones. Daily hits according to it are
normally between 150-200 hits per day. The interesting one to check
out is the little planet looking icon below it which was installed a month
or so ago. It only tracks the home/index page, but feel free to
click on it and explore what's lurking behind it. There may be a few
surprises for some.
Next question, I KNEW there was a huge vacancy waiting for someone
to step in and provide a place like this for the wildland firefighters, so
I have yet to be surprised at any success it may have. As a teaser
to the coming post I will tell you, I tried my best to give the
idea of wildlandfire.com away. Couldn't do it, those I approached
weren't interested. "Waste of time", they said! Long
time readers of this page are aware of several pages I've introduced
on the site to determine interest but there are two areas I haven't
changed much, the photo areas and "they said". I feel
comfortable assuring you these two areas are integral to the site and
As for the future, I've more ideas than time right now. There
remain extreme information gaps between many segments of our wildland
organizations I would love to try and fill. Some of them I don't
know how yet, others just aren't ready for the solution. Guess
you'll just have to stay tuned along with, Ab.
||If the camp was in fact "closed" vs "don''t drive
the govt rig to town"
there is a pay recourse. Comptroller General ruling yrs ago re a
on the Rainbow Fire covers this situation. The short version is you
be paid in accordance with the law. Use a search engine to look up
Case number. The phrase " Bill Smith and 20 Fire Fighters was in the
If you want help on this issue E. Mail me and I will send you a copy of
case, which I have in our union office.
I really enjoy the site... I have to admit, I've been lurking for some
just seeing what's going on elsewhere. We've been holding our breath
in Colorado this year. The Hi Meadow fire was a near miss... just 10
from our district. We had hand and engine crews on it for the first
until the weather turned and gave everyone a break. We had a
strike yesterday afternoon, 10 x 10 area in 1.5 - 2 feet of duff... fun!
took 2 hours to hike into the fire but we were able to stomp it out
non-the-less. More dry lightening storms today... guess what we'll
One question...is the Interagency Business Management Handbook
R-3 is burning hot and fast. Most of the remaining resources here in AZ
not be heading out of state until we get some monsoonal rains, if that
really ever happens. With that in mind, I hope that you folks keep the
going so that we can to see some different country.
Speaking of seeing different country, I may have an opportunity to take
new position in Texas. Yes, Texas! Not too sure if I want to give up my
coush job here as A/C, you know, with no responsibility and those really
short days at the office :). This Texas position is with the Texas Forest
Service as a regional fire coordinator. What I would like from the group
any info on the position from you folks from the lone start state. I know
what the job discription is, but I would like another perspective from the
folks on the street, those who have worked with fire coordinators before.
I would like to know how the operate, what is the opinions of those
departments that work with fire coordinators, and do they have a
inpact on the fire suppression/mitigation in the state.
I'd apprieciate any and all honest responses. Thanks in advanced for
your help. See on the big one, soon!!
I agree with the comments to pass up your concerns on briefing through
the safenet process -- good way to go. I was also in Nevada the last
couple weeks and have a real concern for the apparent lack of concern and
organization with some of the fire folks there.
As for the camp issue there are about four things to keep in mind.
1. There are work/rest guidelines which management needs to manage.
2. There are very clear guidelines for pay in the Interagency Business
Management Handbook; you may want to pick one up and share it with your
3. You didnt say it, but implied that you are on an engine. If so, there
are driver duty hour and rest guidelines as well as fitness for duty
issues which, as a module leader, YOU are responsible for, as well as
4. Management has the option to have an open camp where you are free to
come and go, but they can restrict the use of agency vehicles and simply
not allow the rigs to leave camp.
One final point -- as a module leader (driver or foreman) you are now part
of management whether you want to be or not. Firefighter safety is the
issue. Be safe out there!
Well-put. It's great to have the variety of input on issues like
this. I echo, be safe. Ab.
Dombeck is a little late! The letter to agency managers and forests
should have been sent out months ago! Please, my friends, *stay safe*
wherever you are! In FF1 we were taught that the fire we come to fight is
not *our* emergency. It has got to remain someone else's emergency for
firefighters to continue to think clearly and act safely. Do not take a
chance with your lives! No physical place or "resource" is worth
risking life over, including my own place -- although I am mighty thankful
for your help! The bottom line is this: Places can be rebuilt. Plants and
trees will grow again! Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem. Stay safe
for the sake of your families, your friends, us, your fire community!
I hear from groundpounding, helitack and overhead friends in Nevada,
Idaho, Utah, NM that they are tired already, stretched thin already, there
are not enough resources already and it's only July! A call is put out for
12 helitack and none come. More engines are needed everywhere. Engines sit
idle on many forests because there are no module leaders, no crew! (In R5
engines were cut by 10.2%, dozers by 13.9%, firefighters by 5.8%.
Helicopters increased by 1.9% and that's still not enough! The cuts
resulted from the 25% of MEL that was not funded or the money that got
used up paying new *indirect* costs under the new budgeting system that
some yahoo brought in from Dept of Commerce!!! Primary Purpose my
deriere!) Right, the budget increased by 15.5 million dollars in R5 this
year (thanks WO) and we got only ONE MORE ENGINE out of that deal! Please,
Lurkers, tell me I'm wrong! The Forest Sups and other forest line officers
need to wake up to the fact that the cash cow may burn this summer because
of the slabs they chumked off its sides as it walked through the yard on
its way to fire! Fire money needs to get to the ground FOR FIRE for it to
be helpful! Don't they get it that the logical consequence of not having
enough firefighting resources is that STUFF BURNS! Stuff burns BIGTIME!
OK -- to the R3 Dave who likes short messages, two looong paragraphs so
far. I'll quit preaching to the choir! Dave, I want to say thank you --
for your help. I don't know who you are, but I know that you helped a lot
in R3 earlier in the year.
Mikey, get well bro. We need you back with us facing the dragon on two
good feet! Nuff of that lolligagging in the hospital! The world is burning
Hadn't seen the Chief's letter through the usual, trickle-down
official distribution email yet, thanks Mellie. It does appear to
come a little later in the year than normal and sadly enough, this year
may have little effect in producing additional Ops. resources.
Because. . .there aren't any, at least on my forest. Interesting
issue that STL crews are the "most critical need".
Interesting in that any firefighter who has reached the level of Squad
Boss or above knows who REALLY puts out large fires. HANDCREWS.
Read the National Sit Report on any given day for the redundant following
cliches; remote area, high elevation, inaccessible area, limited access,
steep and rocky. This means handcrews. All the engines, hose
and water in the world aren't going to help you here. So where are all the
handcrews and Strike Team Leaders necessary for these typical large fire
needs? Glad I asked.
On my Forest we used to have five ten-person Initial Attack
handcrews. All crew leaders and assistants were STL qualified.
The crews were frequently combined into twenty-person crews for off forest
assignments. Either the leader or assistant were available at all
times for individual STL assignments. We now have zero IA handcrews
or the ability to produce even a single FS regular crew. We also no
longer host any OC crews where we used to have four. Here's why.
NFMAS sez engines have a higher production rate than handcrews.
Comparison runs in NFMAS show more engines and less handcrews are more
effective in stopping the number of escapes thus a lower amount of large
fires. Consequence, handcrews dissappear. NFMAS doesn't know
or care what happens after the first 24 hours or once the fires exceed a
certain size. No one person dictates to Forest FMOs to reduce their
handcrews and focus on engines, the allocation committee simply reduces
handcrew funding to a level that they are forced to. I heard one FMO
who has little use for many large engines complaining that his funding was
down to around 25% of neccessary budget for his handcrews.
This may be one area (STLCs) private contractors will be unable or
unwilling to fill the void. The level of experience necessary for
this position just isn't easy to come by and can't be found by advertising
in the local help-wanted ads. Comments please: where have your
handcrews gone? Ab.
The information in your 7/26 post regarding the poor briefing in Elko
should be reported. Please consider submitting a SAFENET report.
Information on SAFENET is available at www.nifc.gov/safety_study/index.php
Click on the SAFENET information bar for reporting procedures, etc.
||Maggie & R5 Firecapt
Great! Sounds like someone DID listen! (crossing fingers)
I know that on our forest, if we can get our lookouts up and running,
registered and safe for visitors (and with volunteers doing most of the
work at that!), the ones with paid staff can get the support to do the
Hang in there and keep us updated!
||HAPPY BIRTHDAY MELLIE, FROM YOUR FIRE FRIENDS!
||Hi Ab and All (well, maybe not all since a lot of firefolk are on the
line instead of at their computers!),
What's the the rathole of resources in Nevada that might not get
supported? From what I've seen, there are no extra resources anywhere!
||Dear Ab and R5 Firecapt,
WOW! Whatever you said or did regarding the Lookout Issue for your
other half, must have woke up some of the folks around the country...
Since your first posting regarding this matter, The Fire folks on our
forest have already started to make a list of things that need to happen
for safety reasons more than any other... They also issued some letters to
the lookouts that basically reminded them that part of their job
description was to be responsible for minor repairs and if they needed
larger repair or materials that they should contact their immediate
supervisors or use chain of command to get what they need to provide for
their safety first..
I know a lot of people don't look at the Fire Lookouts as being Fire
people, but does anybody remember what their very first FIRE ORDER is??
Fight Fire Aggressively, But Provide For Your Safety First.
It seems as some folks do forget that the LOOKOUTS are FIRE People even
if they didn't have to take a pack test to get there.. Sometimes, their
jobs are long and drawn out as they are constantly on the lookout for any
kinds of smokes. They have to use their own vehicles to drive to the
lookouts, well most lookouts do, but some agencies do give them a agency
vehicle to drive. I know on the forest I work on, the lookouts have to
conquer some serious terrain to even get to the lookout, i.e., narrow
paths along big rock crags and some of the other ones, you even have to
hike as much as 1/2-3/4 of miles with their food and drinking water. I
think you are right FIRECAPT, if my other half was dealing with those
kinds of situations, I would definitely speak up about it. It seems as
though she may have been too afraid to say anything... Was there any bad
blood between her and the folks she works with? I am curious as to why she
didn't speak up about it though. SOunds more to me like she was afraid
that even if she did say something to the right folks, that she probably
would have got reamed for it.. Just MY OPINION as well.
In my experiences on my forest, I do think however in many situations
that some of these lookouts should be required to either have a medical
exam of some kind or have to take a Light Arduous Type of test as to a lot
of their job requires them to climb high elevations in all kinds of
terrain. ANd if they are having to hike in to where their lookout is, then
that is practically as much weight as what a person has to carry for a
pack test... I think that part of the job should be evaluated. AS if
somebody has a heart condition of any kind, the elevation can cause some
serious other health problems.
Please do keep all of us updated on your other half's situation. I'm
sure that if you rated a call from a Supervisor, that you probably got a
little slack for your comments. Hopefully, you were able to wake up some
folks as to some of the situation of their lookouts and if they are having
problems getting money to buy materials and such, then they should also
think about maybe putting up a donation can at the lookouts and then maybe
sending a form letter to all local businesses that the lookouts overlook
and protect and see if any of the businesses are willing to donate time,
materials or money to help in restoring parts of the lookouts and keeping
it safe not only for the employees, but also for the public as well. I
know that on our forest, the local public visit the lookout quite often
and would give almost anything to make sure that the lookouts stay in
business so that they will feel secure about their homes being protected.
some of them even come up and pick up the garbage and help with small
Well I hope all works out for you and your other half, like I said
please keep us updated on the situation and if there are any ideas that I
can help you with, please feel free to ask.
GOOD LUCK TO YA and EVERYBODY STAY SAFE THIS SUMMER!!!
||did anyone get to elko in the last week or so? we had an am brief and
that was the poorest brief that i have had in all the years doing this. no
sit report. no weather and we where also told that we can not leave the
camp to go into elko after our shift. but they then said this was not a
closed camp but we can not leave......OK i am confused. how may i ask can
they do this and not pay us? we where paid for 12hrs standby and not paid
to stay all night... can someone help me understand this? i need to tell
my engine crew...
||Hey all . . .
Been a bit busy on the home front, its hell to be the ones protecting
the home area, LOL NOT!.
I have to say that there is now a regular schedule for water deliveries on
the towers I mentioned, repairs are starting and a fumigation has
happened! So good things are happening . . .
Thanks are in order to the supervisory folks responsible for these
All take care out there in Idaho, Montana, Colorado and California.
Remember . . . the dragon lives.
Word has it that R5 will no longer support the rathole of resources in
||Friday, July 21 at 11:30 AM a fire started at Five Waters in the orchard
near the road as Dick was mowing the high grass there. He ran over some
rocks and a spark ignited the tall grass.
Unaware, he mowed on, Around and around 3 or 4 times. It finally
reached critical mass and he was astounded by the billowing plume of
smoke. He screamed for Marj working at the cabin. Dread filled them both
as they realized what was just beginning.
He and Marjie were the only ones there and battled the spreading blaze
alone for ONE HOUR! Alone...they battled a blaze threatening all that they
loved. Alone, each on a different side, with little contact but working
till it seemed like they would burst.
Each time it seemed they had it controlled the wind would pick up and
defeat all their efforts. Each time they felt they could relax even the
slightest, the fire would pick up again and advance. Here, then there,
then over there, then back where they had just come from. How could they
win this battle? Stay focused, stay focused.
It jumped the ranch road to the other end and, without a phone, they
had no way to call for help. They could only rely on Ironside and the
lookout's vigilance above, their presence in the valley. The overlooking
safety net of the USFS fire lookout at the top of Ironside Mountain! It
was all they had! Please come! Where are you? It could not be swift
enough. Please, oh please, come!
At 12:30 Tom and his nephew, Ted, arrived to help perpare for the
upcoming wedding only to find the valley engulfed, the smell of smoke
everywhere. The dread, the sinking feeling was too overwhelming for words.
But they dove right in, grabbing tools, water hoses and collectively
beseeching the firefighters, the wind, the fire god to be on their side.
Marj and Dick were so thankful to see them, to feel their presence, to
know they were not alone. Help has arrived! Thank you god!
But it was not to be... yet. The four of them valiantly battled on,
only to be beaten back here, then there. But they were winning a few. They
stopped the fire from reaching the equipment shed and all the volitale
fuels and lubricants. They stopped it from backing down across the orchard
and central pasture. Dick was driving the tractor over crazy hillsides
cutting through to the bare earth to make fire break and keep it from
spreading down the valley. He stopped it above Martha Dyer's grave.
But advance it did, it would not stop, it just would not stop! It moved
with the wind, it moved up the hill! It would move one direction and then
turn 90 degrees without rhyme or reason. It really looked like they had it
stopped, really, it looked thataway. Really. Stopped. Really. Oh, please,
please be stopped...
Then the first green truck arrived! Oh, thank god they are finally
here! We will be saved! The time was 1:30 pm but who cares at this point,
they are here! But he was a lone law enforcement officer with no fire
fighting capability. As they breifed him, a sickly parasite-ridden pine
torched and, like a roman candle, it spewed flames and embers too high
into the sky! Too high! Oh my god we are lost! And a breeze caught them
and it jumped the road and was moving up the hill again. Oh tragedy, oh
defeat. Thinking, I can't go on any more, I've got to go on. We've got to
stop this thing! I absolutely cannot do this anymore. My body will not do
this any more.
Right then an areial tanker arrives and drops PhosCheck, a fire
retardent, beyond and above the advancing flames. Then two engines and
their 3 man crews. They string out fire hose and begin laying a wet line
and circling and pinching off the advance. The aerial tanker arrives again
and again, and two more loads of PhosCheck slow the advance. A chopper
arrives with its water bucket and begins making precision drops on hot
spots. 3 or 4 more engines, two water tenders, two crews to cut fire line.
The dragon had turned but it does not feel like that to Marjie and Dick
and Tom and Ted. It is only 3 o'clock and they will work on until after
6:00 pm before they feel comfortable enough to break, to slow down, to
breathe, to get a drink of water, relax and reflect. To wonder at what
they just did. To marvel, to recount the tales, the funny encounters. To
cry a little at the frustration. Stein and Bryn, Bob and his family will
arrive near 3:30 to help with mopup.
We are still telling and re-telling the story. Drawing maps, developing
photos, wondering, worrying, trying to understand. Supporting, consoling.
To learn, to do better next time. We have been lucky. We will be better
prepared. More knowledgable, more aware, in closer contact.
Perhaps the lookout will as well.
The wedding will proceed. We will all rejoice. Come and join us. Come
and be careful in our valley.
We love you all.
Here are the photos of one end of the valley before
(from the ridge above) and after (from a plane) photo1
||Some interesting sites to check out, complements of Firescribe:
locations of the large fires
great info on the current large wildfires around the country
numbers of fires and acres by decade, by cause, and suppression costs for
historically significant wildland fires
prescribed fire costs
||Hello everyone, yes and RED, just made it home to sleep in my own bed
one night and the phone rang. (Idaho this time) hey Red tell Dave and Tony
Hello for me. Thanks bro. ....and to all of my fellow brothers and sisters
in fire, it's 94 all over again, so heads up.
Ya'll won't believe this, but we had a 5 acre fire at Five Waters
yesterday and it could have been VERY BAD. Here's to resources for INITIAL
ATTACK. All I can say is ohmygod. We were using our new tractor with all
safety features and had made firebreaks. We were concerned about hot
tailpipes of city folk lighting stuff off (wedding remember), so we were
cutting it. Something sparked in the star thistle. Fire took off and
romped in the very tall thick dry grass. Extended family members did a
pretty good job of holding it at the edge of the meadow below the road,
but it lit off a dead pine and jumped across into the trees, heading
uphill into the only watershed not burned in the Big Bar Complex.
Before it was contained, we had 5 engines from Big Bar, Junction City,
Burnt Ranch, Hyampom, and Salyer. Thanks guys!!! Two water tenders were
sucking on our stand pipe's 283 lb of pressure-- thank god for that! Also
had great handcrews: and the FS Trinity 3 Handcrew, CDF Hardrock Criminal
Handcrew, and the Trinity Conservation Corps. Steve Decker (Div from the
ShastaT), you did a great job! Thanks, Bud, will hug you in person.
Special thanks also to the CDF Vina Helicopter crew, the air attack plane
and the 3 airtankers. By all accounts it was the retardant drops that made
the critical difference in picking it up. Let's hear it for the retardant
dropping boys of the Redding Base. Many thanks!! Enjoy lurking on your
I wasn't at Five Waters when this happened and I want to say special
thanks to John Wendt (my bud, FMO Six Rivers), Ron Raley (dear man on the
Shasta T) and Mark Stevens in Weaverville (must meet you in person) for
providing information and holding my virtual hand.
I realize I find it harder to be the person away than to be the person
on the line. Can't believe I missed it!!! But we may have a few more
adrenalin junkie family converts to the fire scene. Have been wishing for
clones to help me get word out to the public! Seriously, I can't wait to
see pictures of the nomex clad and blackened faces of my extended family.
I'm told they were a sight! I'm just glad everyone is OK. I'm very
Stay safe! Sparks fly right and left. Fine fuel is tall and dry out
there. Watchout! Love you all!
Glad all is well. Ab.
||The Government Accounting Office (GAO) conducted an investigation of the
Cerro Grande Fire that burned into Los Alamos. A .pdf copy of their
testimony originally prepared in anticipation of a hearing on July 20
before the Senate's Committee on Energy and Natural Resources can be found
It has excellent graphics, including aerial photos and maps. If you
view it online it takes a long time to load each graphic. The best way to
see it is to save it to your hard disk, get a beer while the whole file
downloads, then read it off-line.
I was starting to think I was the only one here... Ab.
||Hi all, here are two articles that may be of interest given recent
at Hanford and radiation testing
money for logging, less for fire
||Lo ab et al.
Having a blast. Its been six weeks since ive seen my home... or a
computer. Weve done the Ragian, Box Canyon, Rockcreek, Vigus, Strawberry,
Cherry Creek, and are currently on the Fenster fire in Salmon Idaho.
Met the Lurker in Nevada. He runs a tight ship down there. Very
Got most of the rigs out, and looking forward to ripping it up
tomorrow. Met some great Shots from North Carolina. Great bunch of folks
to work with.
Looking to rotate some folks in and out, so call if you're interested
in working some engines.
800 704 4594
Rock N Cindy at Woods. Call Wajax Pacific in Kent WA, they have some
slip in units available. Rick up in Stanwood @ Northwest Emergency
Equipment has them in stock also, great preices too.
later all and have fun out there!!!!!
Big bash/brother's wedding happening in the Trinities soon. Get me a
mocked up letter, I'll make some versions and copies and I'll bet a bunch
of friends, family, residents will do a mail/fax in with me! (Any friends,
drop me a note (hotmail) if you wanna come play with us!)
YOU GO GUY! Yeah, let's get the word out! Firefighter pay changed some few
years ago because spouses got together and lobbied.
||The enclosed editorial appeared in the Capital Press, the biweekly
agricultural newspaper for N.Calif. and the Northwest States. I thought it
might be of interest in light of Maddogs comments concerning testimony to
--------------------------- WILDFIRE DANGER INCREASES!
Fire protection agencies are stretched to meet demands for service in
these days of tight budgets. Federal wildfire agencies are severely
challenged. The Forest Service may be hurting the most, with BLM close
behind. This is not good news for those of us living near public lands.
In 1999 both agencies saw over 2.4 million acres in their protection in
California and Nevada burn. The firefighting cost, according to media
reports, exceeded $500 million. Losses to private property, natural
resources, and endangered specie habitat are also estimated to be in the
millions of dollars. The Northwest was spared... last year.
Significant factors in fire losses are continued agency downsizing and
budget cuts. Optimistic observers think the BLM may have bottomed out, but
the Forest Service, according to many employees, is still bleeding.
It is hard for me to understand the Chief of the Forest Service talking
of restoring the land from past abuses, managing for healthy ecosystems
and sustainable natural resources while wildfires run amuck across the
forests. Successful use of prescribed fire is also compromised by loss of
fire protection resources. It boggles the mind to weaken fire forces so
that control of both prescribed fire and wildfire is marginal at best.
How in the world can Forest Service leadership champion its
"Caring for the land and serving people" mantra while the
ability to control fire declines putting firefighters, the neighbors and
forests in harm's way? I am told that fire funds are now the largest part
of the Service's budget, but, according to many experienced firefighters,
there aren't adequate resources for basic wildfire protection. It is as
though there is a big disconnect between the leadership in Washington and
the people in the forests.
One problem might be how fire management funds are spent. I hear from
Forest Service people that as high as 60 cents of every fire dollar coming
from Congress goes to non fire programs. I am told most diversion is
because the Service was left with a huge infrastructure and many mandated,
but unfunded, programs when timber activities collapsed. However, in my
view the Forest Service needs to do some serious soul searching about
agency mission and priorities. Consciously deciding to put the public, the
forests and firefighters at risk is not caring for the land and serving
The fire protection issue is more than funding and the number of
firefighters and equipment available. Effective and efficient management
of prescribed fire and control of wildfire requires trained, committed and
experienced people. Downsizing, budget cuts and retirements have left the
Forest Service short of experienced hands with wisdom acquired from years
spent doing the on the ground fire management. Replacement of the veterans
requires a commitment of time and money.
Cooperative relations with state and local fire agencies, once an
outstanding example of agencies working together, are deteriorating as
people and funds grow scarce. I hear from colleagues in the fire business
concerns about the continued erosion of Forest Service firefighting
capability and leadership, especially in rural areas. State and local fire
agencies cannot pick up the firefighting slack left by Forest Service
When the National Forests were established, a primary direction was to
protect forests for future generations, and control of wildfire was a
priority. Later, with the help of science, the beneficial use of fire
became accepted. However, some bad experiences with escaped fires slowed
its acceptance as a management tool. Today many people advocate aggressive
fire use as the antidote for "over protection" and as an elixir
of forest health. But to achieve beneficial results without causing harm
is still a challenge.
Some voices advocating burning are not overly concerned about escaped
fires, but there is a different perspective from those who own the smoking
foundations or blackened land. Unfortunately, this cavalier attitude may
influence some people holding the purse strings. Strapped for money, some
decision makers may rationalize that maybe they can slip by, and if there
is a fire escape it probably isn't a big deal.
I can understand the dilemma of having more demands than money, but in
my mind management of a public trust by random events and rationalization
is inappropriate. The neighbors, along with firefighters, should not be
put in harms way by short-sighted decisions that ignore the realities of
fire on the land. Paraphrasing Smokey Bear, "Don't play with
[John F. Marker is a partner in Wildland Firefighter Magazine, a
monthly trade magazine, and a farm owner in the Hood River Valley. He has
been involved in wildland fire protection activities for almost forty
years including a career with the U.S.Forest Service.]
||Greeting my wildland firefighting brothers & sisters
I give you a challenge.
On July 26th, the President of
the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association will be testifying before
the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on Civil Service.
This testimony is in support of H.R, 2814 the Federal Firefighters Pay
Equity Act. To date this bill has 58 co-sponsors in the House, and ten on
the Senate side where S. 1498 mirrors the language. This bill, if enacted,
would lift the infamous overtime pay cap for federal employees. Some of us
have been asked to submit formal written testimony.
I ask each of you to take the
time to rough out a brief letter, fax, e-mail or even call your elected
Congressional representatives in support of the legislation, getting it
out of committee onto the floor and voted AYE! If you don't know the
address, e-mail or even who reps you, let me know I'll let you know, I've
got the 106th Congressional Directory memorized (yeah, right!). Make it
short. Add a bit of autobiographical background. Be polite but make your
point. Other issues that also will be presented before this Subcommittee
will touch on proper classification for federal wildland firefighters (OPM
is supposely working on this), portal to portal pay, inclusion of
Hazardous duty pay for purpose of retirement calculations, increasing
funding to fire management to reverse the very ugly state the federal IA
forces have been slashed to; among others.
Recent events at Los Alamos,
Hanford (got it right), reprecussions from last year's fire season make
the time right to step up and voice your personal protected opinion on
these very important issues. As citizens of this great nation we all
should be appalled by the condition the federal fire wildland fire
readiness has become. I would also ask that you spread the word and get
family and friends to do the same.
I would be happy to provide a
generic draft if anyone wants it.
Keep the faith.
Send in a generic letter and I'll link to it. Ab.
||Ironman, congratulations on getting your saw certification! Don't forget
to know when to say no. What you worked out was slick. Maybe you can find
a cure for this one:
Important man on forest would just as soon certify everyone as B. To
me, B is skilled sawyer. Lots of casual sawyers on district with no
training and little experience. Important man says "woe is me".
Forest Saw Person will not certify my guys after 4 hours of training.
"Woe is me" No other C sawyer will certify his guys either.
Important man has brilliant idea. "I will certify my own guys".
Health and Safety Code says it takes a C Sawyer to certify a B sawyer.
Important man himself has no saw training or certification. No big deal.
Important man will certify anyway.
with saw in hand,
important man turn into impotent man.
Sorry, cannot sign real name.
Sign me: Sawgash
After going through the posts about the fire lookout, I figured I might
as well drop in my two cents worth, coming from a lookout volunteer’s
point of view.
I completely agree with raising a stink about the H&S issues. I
about fell out of my chair, dead (though the thud would have been
equivalent, the drop itself would not even compare to a 1000 foot fall!)
when I read the post about the conditions of this lookout. The
organization I volunteer for would NEVER put anyone at that kind of risk.
Over the years we’ve opened more lookouts, but it wasn’t done without
going through all of the archeological and geological….yada yada yada
surveys. (I figure you folks probably know more about this kind of stuff
than I do and why it’s required…etc.) In fact our group just recently
received a donation for one of the lookouts but nothing can be done with
the money until the techy guys get in there and do their thing.
So, I guess my question is this: If our organization has to go through
this kind of red tape (Yes, I understand there is protocol and I’m not
by any means arguing that!) for what might seem a simple project, then how
the heck can a district, forest folk……etc, ignore such conditions and
hazards that are a risk to their PAID personnel?? That’s some major,
scary stuff! Granted I don’t know anything about that particular
area..etc, but sheesh. If we so much as have a wingnut out of whack,
we’re throwing on the tool belt and fixing it. But then I guess the
difference is, we’re also open to the public. I’m curious is this
lookout also available or open to the public to hike up to and visit?
(Double YIKES if it is!)
As far as getting the ball rolling, yes there are many grants and
organizations out there that can help. FFLA was mentioned and is a good
start. Grants are also a great way to go but the homework better be done
first. That would mean getting someone up to the lookout that can
hopefully give a pretty damn accurate estimate for restoration costs. But
it doesn’t stop there. If you want more money as a whole, tag on the
costs of other lookouts, including the restoration costs. All they need is
someone who knows the cut and dry and who can write it for them.
Here’s another trick... all of your local congressmen/women have
funds set aside every year for various organizations, needs, etc. They
LOVE to spend money on this kind of thing! It’s called a “Member’s
Request” and has to do with appropriation committees, local members of
legislature within the district…etc, and from what I hear they’re VERY
easy to get, even more so than grants.
Home Depot gives grants to Forestry and Ecology, Home Base has a
partnership and donates supplies and even little businesses love to donate
stuff to fire lookouts. Face it, lookouts are cool and people love them!
Ok, so now what? Well, it’s up to the district where the lookout is.
Maybe someone can nudge them along or merely suggest “ok..here are some
ideas that came up, why don’t you give it a try.” There are so many
avenues for getting these lookouts up to par. There should be no excuses
and definitely, no one should be at any risk of injury or worse.
I take it, from the general census, that you all feel the same way the
lookouts need to be open and deserve attention, not only because of their
part of history but because they’re still a valuable asset. I sure hope
someone is listening.
Okie dokie I’m done ranting. Again, this is just the opinion of a
“every-other-weekend-volunteer” who LOVES those lookouts!
Crawling back into the cab!
||Hey Ab, please pass on my e-mail addy to MTWO as I'd like some info . .
And Thanks to Firehorse for the support on the lookout issue . . .
Well I guess I stirred up the proverbial bees nest as I got a personal
call from the Battalion thats resopnsible for these towers. I must say
that I havent had such an ear bending in quite some time.
Therefore . . .
I offer my humble appologies to those whos toes I may have so smartly
trampled on. It was not my the intention to piss y'all off only to enter
into some converstaion and blow off some steam as Ab has stated that this
site is for.
I did not intend to infer that the local engine crews have nothing to
do, I am an engine captain and know whats up. My intent is to make a
point. And i guess i made one, but not the right one.
And so I reiterate in my oh so humble manner that I do appologise, no
hurt intended, and that I have NOT reported anything to the all powerful,
(dare I mention it) OSHA. Believe me I'm not a glutton for punishment, I
had my station "safety inspection' not 3 days ago an now have a
laundry list an arm long to work over, not to mention uprooting
underground fuel tanks and general disruption.
So I hope that there is "no harm no foul" called in this
purely personal expression of opinion. I feel the need to make perfectly
clear that this is MY PERSONAL OPINION, not related to any other person or
related to any official capacity.
call me . .
My friend, do not appologize for opening a discussion on unsafe
conditions within the fire organization. We live in a country that insures
freedom of speech and we owe it to our own to make problems known.
To all posters here: If you anticipate repercussions from a question
you raise, please protect yourself by not offering too much personal
information that could make you identifiable. We try to be alert to these
issues for you, but do not catch all identifiers. Feel free to use a
second alias if people know you by your first moniker. We will protect
your identity to the best of our ability. Ab.
||Lookouts are easy to forget, you don't see them everyday, and you've got
to go out of your way to make the trip. We have 9 lookouts in the zone,
with 6 staffed. Yes, they are a maintenance headache, yes they are out of
the way, yes sometimes it's inconvenient to make sure everything is up to
standards, BUT, they do report 63% of the fires detected around here and
we would have some serious problems without them. They don't cost that
much in labor, GS-3 & GS-4's. We spend about $600/yr in annual
maintenance, and occasionally we have to spend alot more for a major
repair or improvement. We have the same problems as everyone else with
remote sites that sit out all year in the elements, exposed to the worst
weather conditions, vandalism, rodent & bird & other critters, yet
we can't live without them. And we don't want to. Most of our lookouts are
reasonable folks with reasonable needs. The FMO at that unit that is
ignoring the obvious should just get out of the lookout business. Do you
think he would let his other resources degrade to that kind of condition,
engines with crap falling off, not working etc. Helicopters with oil leaks
and cracked windows? That would probably get someone's attention. The
NFMAS Fire Planning process accounts for detection, (lookouts), in the
modeling portion. He needs to do another run without any detection and
then try to sell the fact that he never catches any fires because they are
already humugous when his fires are discovered. The State office/RO review
of that setup would generate some laughter for sure. A unit with a history
of neglect of their lookout facilities, doesn't need them. Get out of the
business before something bad happens to your folks. If not I'd say those
lookouts can do alot better in the PNW as experienced folks are always in
||Firehorse & R5 Fire Capt,
I don't think you want call OSHA to get the Fire Lookouts fixed. You
might end up with a total shutdown if OSHA really got their teeth in this
one. The problem that I beleive is common to almost all lookouts is
egress. One way in & out. OSHA says you need two exits. They have
dealt with the FAA and their aircraft control towers because of this
egress problem. FAA was using something called Sky Genie for an emergency
exit for a while. I don't think they are still using this but they do have
something. Now where OSHA wasn't going to shut the control towers down and
disrupt air travel they probably have no qualms about shutting down fire
lookouts. Who would know? As far as inspections state OSHAs have no
jurisdiction over Federal employees, so you are stuck with Fed OSHA. Maybe
good, maybe bad. Depends on the inspector. Good or bad, Fed OSHA cannot
fine you! The only thing they can do is write you up and put their
classification on the write up. Even at South Canyon the writeups the
Forest Service & BLM received said Willful and Serious. The writeups
are public record so that is where some of the pressure comes from not to
be written up or to fix things immediately so the problem goes away.
To beat a little more on HAZWOPPER. Yes 29CFR1910.120 is the Hazardous
Waste & Emergency Response Standard. If anyone wants to actually read
this you can go to www.osha.gov. Click on regulations, click on 29CFR1910
and find the screen containing the 120 Standard. There are other 1910
standards that apply to firefighters like Hazcom (1910.1200), Personal
Protective Equipment (1910.132), Noise (1910.95) and I'm sure a bunch of
Enough, its Sunday and time to kickback. Be careful out there!
||A couple of comments re broken-down lookouts:
1) OSHA can CITE the Forest Service, but cannot FINE federal agencies.
2) To get ball rolling:
Each forest has, or should have a Forest Safety and Health (Officer,
coordinator, program manager, depends on where, pick one) person. A chat
with this person should at least get a conversation going, won't guarentee
any results, but that is why that person is there. Forest Service, alas,
is a beast with a great deal of momentum and not much cash, so it tends to
continue in the current direction and be resistant to changes in
direction. Money is what usually greases the wheels. On a former forest,
we got a lookout rebuilt because a local land owner was attached to it,
served as the volunteer lookout, and did all the work. We supplied
materials, had to be quite creative in doing so (don't ask). Check in with
local saftey folks, give 'em a chance.
Second avenue - Union. If the forest is in a bargining unit and lookout is
in bargining unit position, call the union vice-president for the forest.
You may have to ask around a bit to find out who this is. They may or may
not be useful, depends on who and where. Most likely affilaited with NFFE.
My current forest is not in a bargining unit, a former forest has a union
rep sit in on all Leadership Team meetings. Union is variable in the FS. A
warning - if you get zero response from forest safety folks, safety
program is broken - be very careful!
3) Call OSHA. WARNING - be prepared for consequences. Some managers
don't take well to having a dime dropped on them, they will find out who
called. Good managers take it in stride and hold no grudges, bad ones, or
highly ambitious ones who take a black mark as a threat to their ambition,
react poorly. So at the very least, cover yourself by giving local
management and safety folks a chance to do the right thing. Protecting you
and your fellow workers from obvious safety hazards is the right thing to
do, so your bringing the situation up is the right thing to do and an
honest serious effort to investigate and mitigate hazard is the right
thing to do.
A Forest Safety and Health Program Manager
||Someone told me that last year a letter went out from Dombec in March or
April saying that fire is an emergency and a priority that takes
precidence over district targets. He hasn't sent out that letter this
year. Whatsup? No longer an emergency, or finally getting realistic about
One coastal NorCal forest (not 6Rivers) used to have trail crew that
were trained/redcarded by the forest to fight fire. They were able to work
on engines on the weekends at least. This year, the Forest Sup says,
"Sure, they can work weekends on fire, but the forest isn't paying
for the critical refresher and pack test." -- So, in this year that
we're short on engine modules, we have a situation where we could have
trained people available, but they are unavailable until further notice
because they have to foot their own training bill! By default he's saying
that until timber is marked and trail is complete they can't do fire at
all. Seems kinda bass ackward to me...
I think line officers should have to spend some quality time in fire as
a prerequisite for their jobs-- Come on, fire is what finances the forest
these days. Why doesn't more of the money get to the ground and more get
put into training? Hope this doesn't come back to bite us on the butts
this fire season!
Sign me: Wanting to work some fire, even weekends...
Already wondering about safety on fires. In Nevada recently, shots were
working 54-65 hours straight. They didn't need to, just wanted the
overtime. This could be unsafe. Was definitely excessive work hours. Sleep
deprivation contributes to unsafe work conditions.
In AZ there was an engine crew that worked 32.5 hrs before taking time
off. Not following work-rest guidelines or driving regs. What are driving
regs for the Class B, anyway? Is it something like can only drive 10 out
of every 15 hours? Module leaders who push themselves and engine crews put
everyone at risk. Two of the crew were green and didn't know to protest.
For the rest of the crew there's peer pressure and OT pressure. For the
leader there's ego and refusing to realize that people are not machines.
He pushes people to exaustion... Doesn't the IC or the line officer have
to sign off on deviations from Safety Regs? Correct me if I'm wrong, but
the Div signing off is not enough, is it?
Please be safe and report unsafe conditions.
We are looking for a CWN Engine Crew Boss and experienced WL firefighters
in California and Nevada for wildland fires and Rx burns. Is there any
system on the Internet that I can post this information? Your help is
||RE: The Lookout:
When I was on the Santa Fe N.F. back in may
during my first assignment there. I meet a Volunteer Lookout person who
got the ball rolling. To the point where I volunteered to install the
Linoleum that she was able to get donated. This was on the Pecos/Las Vegas
RD. This volunteer was able to get items donated for the lookout and was
able to get the DFMO, etc. behind her.
Just to let you know it can and will work if, you use
the right touch.
You all take care and be safe when the Fire Gods start dancing again!!
A sad note for the mountain communities of Auberry, Tollhouse and Bald
Mountain (CA) as well as our ranger unit, the Fire Chief of the Auberry
Volunteer Fire Dept passed away last week and was laid to rest in
Tollhouse yesterday. Mike Thompson was a fixture in the area well known by
all agencies in the Fresno County foothill area as a great firefighter and
friend. CDF and Auberry Fire put together a moving tribute to Mike, we
took him to rest in an impressive procession of local and federal fire
equipment along with many family and friends. Mike passed from
complications from leukemia.
It was gratifying to see the support to Mikes family.
I have been reading with interest the postings on young wives
attempting to deal with their spouses addiction to firefighting. My wife
and I are both employed by CDF, she as a Fire Captain in the Bay Area, I
am an Engineer in Fresno County. We have been together for 13 years now
and still find it hard at times to be separated by long fire assignments
and long commutes to work for both of us. This year for the first time in
a great while we managed to get the same shift days and can spend much
more time together. In the past, when I worked a 2 on 2 off schedule in
the valley and she worked the 3 on 4 off we both work now, it was not
uncommon to only see one another 7 or 8 days in a month, especially during
fire season. But through it all, we understood the fact that the fire
service was a calling and a career for both of us and that we are each
others support in the tough times. Every marriage has to be made of
compromise and communication and trust or it will fail. Just as my wife
has been in my corner through it all from my fireman days on a busy medic
engine to my current assignment in the hills, my support and faith in her
and her love for all things wildland from engine captain to finance chief
has seen her through many days gone to the big one. We are very lucky to
have an understanding of what goes on in the station and on long campaign
fires, this makes things easier to deal with. Missed birthdays and family
gatherings are common, our families take all in stride.
My point of all this ramble is, if you are in a relationship where one
spouse or significant other is in fire, communicate! Try to call home
every day, don't forget the little things in life that count, tell him or
her you love them and when you are together, remember to respect each
other and be as understanding as you can with the others fears about what
OK, I'm done.
Be safe out there.
||I know what Firehorse is saying about, "getting the ball
rolling" in regards to the poor conditions of the lookout. But I have
to wonder what your forest, district, ranger, FMO, etc...really think
about the lookout and it's upkeep. Doesn't sound like its a priority or
even on the list, and while, stirring the pot, might get some
action...what kind of action will that be? My first thought is, this
forest doesn't give a shit, and rather than spend money fixing it up, it
might be easier to just shut it down. And send someone up there once in
awhile with a hand held radio, to check for smokes, after a lightning
storm. What does your significant other say about you getting the ball
rolling? And if she is just the relief, what about the person who is there
full time? I would think, you should get that person to do the
complaining, first or at least get them on your side? But, my guess is, if
they haven't already complained, then perhaps, they fear for their job,
and so instead...they are just making the best of the situation
Worked on a forest with a lookout, similar to
yours, the cat walk was falling down, although once you got inside the
building, it was pretty safe. So, rather than man it full time and or fix
it, they just sent some one up during lightning...and that someone was
always the same person, a tiny little 100lb female. Who just skirted
around the bad part of the deck. And always, someone would call her on the
radio at the begining of her watch and ask, "make it over that
catwalk, Okay?" One of these days, she might not be answering back.
Thats when they will shut it down for good, no doubt.
Unfortunately alot of forests would rather not
deal with lookouts and their upkeep at all. I'm not saying that you
shouldn't do anything, because it sounds like this lookout while being
manned is definately a hazard, but you should also be prepared for the
possibility that the outcome might not be one that you like. However,
there is an organization FFLA, Forest Fire Lookout Association, that might
help give you ideas about restoration possibilities.
Also, if your forest should decide that it would
rather shut it down, there are other forests, that have used volunteer
groups, and gotten grants to pay for their restoration The McConnell
Foundation, out of Redding, CA. just recently gave a grant to the McCloud
Ranger District of the Shasta Trinity to restore two of their lookouts.
The McConnell Foundation give grants only to the northern california area,
I'm not sure how wide of a swath that is, but perhaps your area falls in
it. Also, don't overlook, your own local merchants to donate supplies. So,
maybe before you go get someone all in a huff with the threat of OHSA
fines and a big headache over the problems with this lookout, maybe you
should get your duckys lined up and be ready with a list of possibilities,
on how to fix them and where to look for some money to do it. AND, after
you've said and done all that, be willing to offer yourself up as someone
to be a part of the project. Its all about money, time is money, equipment
is money, and who has the time or the money these days?
Bottom line, what District Ranger (or someother
muckity muck) wouldn't just love to see their own swollen little
egotistcal face in the local paper, being congradulated and sucking up
kudos, over some wonderful community project, that didn't cost them a
dime? Doesn't matter that it wasn't their own idea, somewhere along the
line, because they gave the "go ahead", they will believe it
was. And you just might have that Lookout in better condition, than you
could have ever imagined.
Give it a shot. Send a message to me, through Ab,
if he doesn't mind, I can line you up with some amo, before you go in to
confront the bigwigs.
I'd be happy to pass it on. Duckys, eh? Ab.
One way to get the ball rolling on the poor lookout conditions is to
put in a call to Federal OHSA or State OSHA. The FS is not above being
fined for breaking OSHA regs. My last forest would have gotten hit with
fines of a couple hundred thousand dollars if they did not take corrective
action. Might also talk to the local FS union rep. Several years ago a
lookout on one of the sites in western Oregon could not be contacted. Upon
investigation it was determined the person had fallen off the lookout,
over the cliff and was killed. If I remember correctly the FS was raked
over the coals a few years ago for a person that was injured on a fire and
there was no communications with a dispatch center or anyone. Might check
the "Health & Safety Code" for the communications problem
and the others you were concerned with. See if they are addressed in the
good ol' "Green Book". If it is in the H&S and being
ignored, someone could be in some very serious "Doo-Doo"!! Those
are not "You might think about doing this", they are "You
don't do it unless you do it this way!!!
Not sure why nobody wants to visit the lookout in an official capacity.
That was always one of the highlights of my old AFMO job was to visit the
lookouts. Go to a lookout and get paid at the same time? That is a
all is well in chainsaw land, i hearded my FMO and my
sdupervisor into an office this morning and popped the question about my
proficiency. neithe one had any objections in front of each other, so this
afternoon i qualified, for the third time, to be a B faller. ive found out
that if you get conflicting stories from middle management, get em in
front of each other and let em battle it out. worked before, and worked
today...so im guessing it'll work the next time i "want"
thanks for everybody's help,
My first question to you is, have you asked your supervisor why they will
not recognize it? They need to tell you why. Maybe they do not feel you
are ready yet. Trust me, I have been a lead program instructor on our
forest for falling for some time now, and two B class trees are not enough
to consider someone as a B Faller. Of all the jobs you do this is the one
that will kill you in a heart beat. If there is any doubt in your
supervisors mind, I support them in their decision to not recognize the
Qualification. Find out where the problem is and ask for help to improve.
Practice practice practice. And if you do get carded as a B faller,
remember they can pull it from you anytime they feel you are unsafe and
don't meet the standards. Although there are some general standards, each
forest and/or district makes the decision on who will or won't be
qualified. This is one area; just because you pass the class, doesn't mean
you will be qualified.
Sign me, Pumpkin-Dropper
||Hey AB and all . . .
Been a while since I had the time to post, busy busy as all of us are
at this time of year.
I must say that I have to agree with many of the thoughts of all on the
aspects of being married/cohabitating with a fire goer, my significat
other now works lookouts, one of which is remote and requires a weeks stay
at a time. I guess now I know what she's been feeling for a couple of
years now, separation and missing the other half. I guess maybe its my
time to get a taste of what I've been dishing out for years now and
through several relationships, but I wont give up my line time yet!
Now this brings me to another subject . . .
Treatment of our detection people.
A friend works as relief detection on a northern R5 forest.
The condition of these facilities is disintigrating to say the least.
Safety violations abound, including loose boards on catwalks, no safety
rails on steep access stairs, (with 1000' drop to the rocks), possible
asbestos insulation, rodent access, and to top it off the Districts lack
of provision to power the cell phone that they provide, (the regular
attendant has been providing his own battery for this for years and it
also powers the water pump to lift water to the tower). When the regular
attendant has taken the batteries down the hill for charging or what ever
this leaves no water or phone in the tower. In addition the prevention
person is of the mind that it's a hassle for him to take water to either
of these towers except on his schedule and that if the phone is desired
she should provide the battery, therefore the cleanliness of these
facilities leaves something to be desired and personal safety may be
compromised as only one of these towers can communicate with a 24 hour
ECC. Is expecting people to pack 5 gallon water containers up unsafe
stairs, for long distances and at altitude just to keep a reasonable
semblance of personal hygene a bit rediculous? I for one find it to be
unacceptable! The most unacceptable part of the whole thing is the
district personnel attitude about the situations, they have been advised
and respond with admonishment. I have taken the liberty to inform the
province safety coordinator of these situations and recieved a promise
from him to look into the thing.
Part of what really chapps my hide is that the detection facilities and
personnel on my district/forest, recieve the utmost attention and respect.
I jump to the task whenever one of our detection facilities or persons
even suggests that they might have a need, this is even though I am not
responsible for taking care of this. All of the forests I have had the
pleasure to work on have given one of the engine crews the task of
providing upkeep and supply of these remote facilities, I find it
exhilerating to visit these monutain tops as it provides a completely
different perspective on the initial attack area and gives excellent
orientation to the crew members, not to mention builds repore with the
tower attendant. My friend has yet to see the nearset engine crew and they
are at the bottom of the hill, 30 minutes drive away from the closest
tower. What is the deal?? True that one of these towers is a 20 minute
walk from the parking lot, but that has NEVER been my excuse to not visit
and at least say HI.
Another allegation is that the attendant for the most remote tower has
a powerful someone in in their pocket. So what? Is this a reason to not
get things done or to deal with the problems associated with eccentric
folks who live in these places and seem to think that it belongs to them.
True that someone who lives in a tower for 10 days at a time begins to
think of it as home, but is it proper for them to complain that their
relief "used too much water"?? I for one find this a bit much to
swallow, especially when personal hygene and facility cleanliness are the
issues. As a concerned citizen, I will be visiting this remote location
myself today for my own perspective.
How are the other areas that have lookouts taking care of thier
personnel and facilities? Are they allowed to fall into disrepair and
require the employees to provide for some of the operating systems of the
facility?? I know for a fact that the local Natl Park that has a remote
tower that they are renovating and that they use a freaking helicopter to
supply the place! Helicopter cost vs a trip in a patrol rig to supply? You
all do the math . . .
Makes me wonder where the heads of some of these folks reside.
Its my belief that these folks that sit on windy, dry mountain tops
looking for the one that might get really big in our back yards need to be
taken care of with the utmost importance, they are the ones that help us
do our job of "Hittin 'em hard and keepin' 'em small". . .
Call me a concerned citizen. . .
||Mike, if you are looking for experienced firefighters try posting to forums.dnr.state.mn.us/~community_forums
under employment opportunities. We encourage our members to look there as
soon as they are demobed. The vast majority of Minnesota Wildland
Firefighters Association members have at least 6 years of wildfire
experience. Also there are MN folks with less experience who are not being
included in the national availability list with only one to three years of
experience in fire who have worked with engines but are not red carded for
it. If any fire employers are looking for firefighters, this might be good
place to post. You have to sign in to post so if you wish I can post for
you...just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am also going to start a work wanted section in the same forum so any
firefighters looking for work can post there. You don't need to be from
MN. Please remember to either post again when the position is filled (for
employers) or you find employment (for firefighters). This could be a
great asset to both if it is used wisely. Ab, feel free to direct folks to
me if you get employment related requests.
Gordon, I am very interested in the report that your classmate did.
Please if at all possible have him contact me at the above email address.
I would like to follow up on it and especially want to see his citations.
Fire fighters deserve to KNOW what the dangers are in fighting fire...I
really do not believe that we can depend on our employers to provide the
info...if they are even aware of it.
If there is evidence that we have a higher incidence of cancer we
should know it. This is especially true since the early effects of lung
disorders would show up as an inability to pass the fitness tests and by
the time the diagnosis is in too much time may have passed to hold the
employers responsible. Too often I have heard the response "they know
the dangers" when I know firefighters seldom do know most of the
dangers. I for one do not appreciate being treated like a mushroom...kept
in the dark and fed [snip].
||Howdy AB how is you and yours?
Just wondering if anyone knows how to get a slip on pump package faster
then 10 weeks?
Looking for any and all help regarding this. Its for a type 6 that we are
just completing. 200 gal, 100 psi, 50 gpm, If anyone can help it'll be
Mike:) Woods Fire.
i have had (and passed) S-212. i sawed two "B" size trees for
the fellow conducting that school ( May 2000) and i got my B card on a
fire detail in june 2000, but my forest will not recognize it. being in my
"lowly" fire position, i dont want to go above my bosses head,
but i do want the certification. my chainsaw instructor on district will
be glad to certify me, but the FMO will not give him the ok to do so.
any suggestions from anybody?
thank yuh much
better change my pen name b4 i get myself in trouble so im:
||Hello all. First off I'd like to say thanks to Abercrombie for this
site. It is great. I'd like to tell a little about myself. I'm a vol. ff.
Been with them for 2.5 yrs. Got started in firefighting with a temp job
with North Caolina Forest Service. I have applied for 2 positions with
them and am waiting to here something. I took the pack test for the past 2
yrs to go on national fires with NCFS. Last night we got dispatched to
Louisiana. Unfortunatley, I was an alternate and didn't get to go. So
disapointed, not mad though, just been looking forward to it. But it is
still early, maybe I'll get to go somewhere later in the summer. If not
there is always next year.
Where is Tiny? Still got the cast on his arm? Just wondering have'nt
seen him post lately.
Ya'll all take care and be safe.
Miss'in our firepup? Tiny got the cast off his arm, a clean bill of
health from his doc, and went off to camp toward the end of June. There he
is known as Ranger Tiny. He's teaching orienteering and related classes
and is in charge of fire safety. He walks around at night making sure
campfires are out. I'm sure as soon as he is back online we will hear from
||I hope you can stand one more response to the letter from the Utah wife.
I have a slightly different view on it. My husband and I have been married
9 years. He has been a firefighter for 7 1/2 of those years. When we got
married, he had never been to a fire so communication wasn't the issue. He
joined the Volunteer Fire Department in the small town that we lived in in
1992 and has been addicted to it ever since. He fought wildland fires for
2 seasons and I thought it would drive me crazy that first year. Not
because of what he was doing, but because I didn't know what to expect
since this was new to both of us. I didn't know that I wouldn't see him or
hear from him for weeks at a time. Hearing about fires on the news and not
knowing if that was where he was. When he returned after that first year
it was tough getting back into the "routine." When the second
season came around, we discussed at length the pros and cons of him doing
it again. Yes the money was great, but that wasn't the only consideration.
There was the fact that he is gone 6 months, he was trying to finish his
Masters Degree and that would delay it for another year, and it honestly
scared me to death. It finally came down to my accepting that fighting
fires was not only what he did, but it was, and still is, who he is. It is
his passion. He has not gone back to the hotshot crew due to an injury and
a job within his degree field, but a day doesn't go by that he doesn't
think about it and miss it. He is a volunteer with the forest service
where we live now and that helps to keep the love of the job alive. I
guess the point that I am trying to make is that to survive this kind of
job there needs to be communication, understanding, patience and
acceptance from both spouses and never issue an ultimatum. Ya'll stay safe
Another firefighters wife.
||More on the los alamos/hanford thread.
A classmate of mine in college did a paper on this very subject.
There are low level isotopes in the background all over the world. In
the soil, air, water, etc. It is all natural and too low a level to be a
health hazard. Plants take up these isotopes along with all other minerals
and nutrients, and are incorporated in to woody plant tissue. Upon death
the material is slowly released back into the soil through decomposition.
When vegetation burns, it is released all at once. This causes the
long-known radioactivity 'spike' found in all fire areas. Officially, it
is still too low a level to be a hazard (the abnormally high cancer rate
among firefighters??). Of course, the labs also have methyl-ethyl-bad-crud
all over the place too. But some of the readings were the natural
low-level stuff found on all fires. You never hear about it on normal
fires because no one carries a geiger counter on a typical fireline.
||Well, advertise where you can I say.
The Burns Interagency Fire Zone, R-6 Oregon, is looking for a couple of
trained FFT2's to pick up on 1039 appointment, starting...hmmm...today.
Engine crew folks for Type 4,5 or 6 engines. Guard Station housing. If
interested contact Mike @ (541) 573-4330.
No I was not at Cerro Grande...I am in Smokechaser purgatory. You see
we have been forming what from the looks of it will be an actual
wildfirefighter union in MN and there have been consequences.
For my organizing and lobbying/testifying activities I was acknowledged
by our members by being elected to vice chair of the Minnesota Wildland
Firefighters Association. I was also blacklisted by the Head MN DNR Fire
In addition to not being allowed to be employed by any DNR area
supervisor (several asked) he also ordered that I not be issued a red card
by the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (although the center is a joint
Fed and Stated effort the person responsible for issuing red cards is a
DNR employee). Since the DNR retains all of my training and experience
records and they have refused to release them I am effectively prevented
from fighting fire this season.
I am being made an example of as are several others in the MWFA.
Several had been promised that if they would stick around for the MN fire
season (Spring) they would be guaranteed advanced training slots...only to
have them pulled when they accepted summer positions from independent
contractors during the "off season". Again on the orders of the
head fire manager. Just his management style I guess. We knew he would do
it long before he did...it has always been how he deals with firefighters
who fail to show him the "proper" respect.
In my case it was a blessing...a month and a half ago my mother was
diagnosed with aggressive colon cancer which had spread...and the hiatus
has allowed me to provide the loving personal care she deserves in her
last days. With out the heavy-handed tactics of the MN DNR I would not
have been there to insist that she could not wait a few weeks for an
appointment and she would have died with far less dignity and surrounded
by strangers. As it was I was my normal pushy self and after (being forced
to ) administer tests immediatly the doctors were operating the next
morning for an emergency surgery which while succesful was only the
If I had been away fighting fire, as I have for the last 15 years I
would have made it home in time to arrange for the funeral at best. Just
another unforeseen consequence of loving to battle the dragon.
Anyway, I was just informed yesterday that as a result of this Manager
the DNR was unable to recruit enough green trainees to make up for the
exodus of experienced firefighters (seasonal) for the second year in a
row. This year they came up short by 200! I have also recently discovered
that the vast majority of firefighters being dispatched out of state are
our members...the trainees are being treated the same way we were...not
having their names passed on for national availability. They won't be back
I have no idea what this guy is thinking...except that if we continue
our efforts he will have to answer to the legislature for his "lack
of management" and the decline of Minnesota's ability to suppress
fire...while at the same time fire fund expenditures have skyrocketed as
he attempted to make up for the shortage of available firefighters by
contracting enormously expensive equipment (air power) to save his ass if
a major fire breaks out. Of course he has no fire experience...inherited
his job from his boss...who died in the middle of setting up (still
unimplemented) badly needed major changes to the fire program.
OOPS! What started out as a contribution to the ongoing discussion
became a rant.
Being a firefighter involves much more than putting a fire out...and
while the "Govt" will often not acknowledge how difficult the
difficulty of the job we do...and sometimes seems to actually try to make
it more difficult to do so. It is a great life if you can pay attention to
your other responsibilities to your family and yourself. Safety is more
than not getting burned,broken, or cut now days. And unfortunately I have
not seen any trend toward our employers actually adjusting to the rapidly
changing nature of wildfire/interface fire suppression and the new dangers
presented. Structure firefighters had this same problem until they
unionized...and I suspect that is part of the reason that they have an
average lifespan of 15 years less than the general public. I suspect that
wildfire employers are in no hurry to "discover" how many years
fighting wildfire takes off ours. You know I once had a supervisor respond
to my question ..in between coughing fits after a fire...as to how toxic
pine smoke was by replying that it couldn't be too bad..cause it was
natural! Yeah, we sure are lucky that we don't have to breath in
unfiltered "synthetic" toxins on a regular basis.
There’s a USFS temporary employment memo that came out recently that
tells fire staff to cut out requesting exceptions to the temporary limited
employment regulation (the rule that temp employees may not exceed 1039
hr). The ’99 fire season was so severe that exceptions were requested
and granted, allowing some employees to exceed the 1039-hour limit. If
there is a continuing need for a fire position, a permanent position
should be created. Sounds great to me! Having permanent positions rather
than temp ones are better in this profession in which people work hard
training to fight fire all winter and fighting fire SAFELY the rest of the
So, on the one hand, it's good to hear the WO saying that providing
more permanent employment status is the right thing to do -- especially in
light of the fact that although there is currently more money for engines,
engines sit idle on many forests due to lack of qualified permanent or
I just worry that this year will be as extreme as ’99 and if we can't
get exemptions to the 1039 like last year, this screws us for the 2000
season. This also means that our fire guys on the forests and regions need
to take all their bigtime temporary fire staff, budgets, and planning and
try to put that into their budgets for 2000! Dontchaknow that is gonna
BUNGEE the budgets for next year, and like what do you think the response
will be when our fire guys' budgets take a SERIOUS hike because of this???
This is a bold stroke, a bold move, but I wouldn't bet a firecamp shower
on its political chances of success!!
Be safe out there,
hey Ab, PSSST, if you're still there... The fact that no contaminated
soil was found outside the compound at Los Alamos doesn't mean there was
none; samples may not have been taken in a "hot" spot. However,
there may not be much or any contamination. I don't know how good DOE
really is ... Still would like some info on their track record.
|| I've been reading but haven't had much time to
write, since I had been wondering if Utah Wife, would respond to all that
has been written about her. Am glad that she did, it was good to get more
clarification from her, about her situation, and learn that she wasn't as
uninformed about being with a wildlandfire fighter,as some of the earlier
posts seem to think.
My spouse and I were both wildlandfire fighers
(with USFS) when we met, and had been for at least 10 years. So, when we
started to talk wedding, and figure out a date...Fire Season was
immediately OFF limits, it was just a given. No missed wedding
anniversaries for us, however, we pushed it and got married, in May, and
the day after our wedding...one of us went on an out of state fire
assignment for a month. The honeymoon was rescheduled and we thought it
was worth the wait, a full week, at Heavenly, skiing over New Years.
Here's the kicker, our child was planned and
concieved, so that his birthday would be in the winter. Fire season and
it's importance to us, was a must..and when conception didn't happen, we
put it off until the next years window of opportunity. Sounds a little
anal, to reschedule, but we did and now our son enjoys birthdays every
year with both of us home.
Both of our birthdays are in the winter also,
(boy did are parents, do that right) we take vacations in the winter,
travel and visit family in the winter, and if it means taking our son out
of school, we just work with the teachers and schedule it. How much more
exciting is it for a kid to come home from disneyland in January and to
get to go back to school and tell all about it, than in the summer, when
everyone is off doing their own thing. In the summer we take our days off
together and cram in as many mini vacations as possible, and if there
isn't any lightning predicted for a while, we'll take an extra day or two
and do something special.
And those, hotel fire assigments, often turn into
visits. If it's not too far away and the hotel has a pool, load up the
water toys, and we're there. And if fire camp is near by, there's often a
need for hand delivering a care package.
20 years ago, this kind of stuff, wouldn't have
happened, but with cell phones, it is easier for familys to keep in touch,
we call our son, everynight if possible, at bedtime to help tuck him in
and make sure he knows how important he is. And its a must to bring
something back, for everyone, even if it's just another fire t-shirt.
With both of us being in fire, the talk when one
comes home is often, loads full of fire gossip, "guess who I
saw" or "you're not going to believe what I heard."
For our son, this is just the way it is, and
maybe when he gets older, there might be problems, like little league or
camp or what ever, but we'll just make sure it all gets, scheduled in.
When you have a mortgage, car payments, kids
stuff to buy, bills to pay, vacations to plan, the first thing we ask
is..."is it a little lightning strike, up the hill out back, or is it
some ripping blow out two states away?" The later,always gets the
spouse a running, to help you pack.
Which brings me back to the Utah Wife, we've all
been there, with the, hurry up and wait, standby status, but you know, we
look at it this way, O.T. is O.T. and no matter how easy or hard it was to
get, it is what the season is all about, sure we all love the flames,
getting filthy and sucking up the soot. But at the end of the season, and
you're boosting about how much overtime you've racked up, you don't ever
say, except those 50 hours waiting don't count.
And interestingly enough, it never ceases to
amaze me, all the fun and excitment the spouse left at home seems to get
away with, while your gone on your fire assignment, which in our house,
means the longer the better for everyone. The kid gets a new bike, the
wife goes shopping, the husband gets a new set of golf clubs...and
everyone is happy.
And how many of you firefighters, who have done
this for years and raised familys, see your children hauling around red
bags, no-mex and wearing whites? Something tells me, we'll be no
||The Los Alamos Fire Dept. is tracking for life thier firefighters, who
were inside the Lab's fence. Tests were done on soils, only contaminated
results were inside the 4000 acre Lab compund.
Agency wildland firefighter weren't inside the fence at LANL.
You weren't at Cerro Grande were you Dana?
||RE: hazmat surprises on fires, just be glad you don't have to fight fire
in Nigeria, what with its black market in fuels. See story online from the
very good questions? I saw the dam being constructed above Los Alamos,
it's going to be a 100 foot high to stop any downstream ash/mud flow off
the burned over rad site. And in Washington, that place was a nuke dump
before anything else! In fact several old and filled areas were burned
over. Now there's a problem with the gov't diving into this and getting
behind the idea that there MIGHT have been exposure. Anyone remember Agent
Orange? Gulf War Syndrome? My advise as dinosauric as it might be, but
based on my experience, is for the feds wildlanders to fill out a CA-1 or
is it a 2, if you where exposed to the smoke at either of these two
incidents. Now! Even months after the fact. Just fill it out and get it
into your OPF. Then, the spirits forbid, if 10, 20 years down the road,
your last chest x-ray shows spots, or what hair you have left on your
balding head (I'm sorry it's a male perspective) seems to be coming out in
clumps .. you've covered your ass. Sounds alarmist? Not really. I once
walked through a huge brush field one afternoon on the side of a mountain,
near a place called An Khe. It was dying, leaves nearly withering before
our eyes. The tree branches still glistened with moisture. The platoon I
was medic for spend three days walking through this "denying the
enemy cover" area. To this very day, as paranoid as it sounds, I
recall that little excursion and keep a close eye on all moles and skin
spots on my body.
To Utah Wife .. you've got it pegged! I think you guys are doing okay.
To California Husband. Right On! It took me awhile to learn those lessons.
For Moc4546 I'll try and find the answer about the temporary retirement
question. But my first guess, it's buried somewhere. Our wheels of
legislative remedies grind slower than a contract nurse tanker's turn
||Just a short post. Is anyone else worried about the possible exposure to
"hazardous materials" of firefighters at Los Alamos? Is anyone
tracking the firefighters that may have been exposed? Were any measures
taken to safeguard them? Did they even wear film badges? Heres why I ask.
Last night on the national news it was reported that containment
structures were being built to prevent possibly radioactively contaminated
ash and soil from washing into Los Alamos when it rains. The pictures they
showed of the construction workers showed they were all wearing disposable
suits and masks. The spokesman for the Los Alamos Labs who was present was
not wearing a disposable suit when interviewed...but you could clearly see
that he had been wearing a mask by the outline around his mouth and nose.
Clearly everyone who works at or for Los Alamos seem very concerned
that the dust may be hazardous...enough so to take measures to not inhale
it or take it home on clothing. This is, I presume, the same dust that
firefighters were exposed to during suppression and remediation activity.
Were they provided the same protection? From all indications THEY WERE
NOT! Please tell me I am wrong!
From what I know of Hanford it makes Los Alamos look like a clean room.
Were any measures taken there to monitor exposure and/or prevent
unnecessary exposure? If not we, as firefighters, have a very serious
||I don't know who this guy is that claims to be the wife of a Utah
firefighter. But my hat's off to you sir. That was brillaint. My side is
still hurting from laughing so hard.
But of course eveybody knows that they rarely get any big fires in utah,
Not like California, which has the hottest action in the world.
Pearls of wisdom from: ~A one eyed fatman~
FIRST OF ALL I HAVE BEEN WITH HIM FOR 9 YEARS. I
MARRIED HIM JUNE 99. HE BECAME A FIREFIGHTER IN SEPTEMBER 99. ALL I WAS
TRYING TO SAY IS THAT HE SAT AT A HOTEL WITH NOTHING TO DO. IT WAS A
STAGED FIRE CREW. I LOVE MY HUSBAND. I WILL NEVER LEAVE HIM NO MATTER HOW
LONG HE IS GONE NOR HOW OFTEN. I WAS JUST SAYING GIVE MY MAN SOMETHING TO
DO WHILE NOT FIGHTING A FIRE.
I LOVE TO HEAR ALL OF HIS STORYS AND ADVENTURES. I JUST AM WORRIED
BECAUSE THE LAST TIME HE WAS OUT ON A FIRE HIS DRIVER DROVE TO CLOSE AND
ALL OF THEM SINGED THEIR HAIR. IT JUST SHOWED HOW DANGEROUS IT REALLY IS.
RIGHT NOW HE IS IN GRANDJUNCHIN IN A TENT. I SHOULD BE VERY HAPPY THAT HE
ATLEAST CALLS ME EVERYDAY. WHAT I MEANT ABOUT 'FIGHT FIRE OR COME HOME'
WAS IF HES CALLED OUT ON A FIRE ONLY TO SIT IN A HOTEL, WHY CANT HE SIT AT
HOME AND WAIT IS ALL. I DONT WANT HIM TO GIVE UP FIRE. I LOVE THAT I CAN
TELL PEOPLE WHAT HE DOES... I THINK IT IS A WAY COOL JOB.
MY HUSBAND WOULD NEVER MAKE DEMANDS. WHEN THE LOVE IS STRONG WITCH IT
HAS BEEN FOR THIS LONG BUT WILL BE FOREVER HE WOULD NEVER DO ANYTHING TO
UPSET ME OR HURT MY FEELINGS ON PURPOSE. IM A HAPPY WIFE, JUST LONELY WHEN
HES AWAY. JUST SOMETIMES I DONT UNDERSTAND SOMETHINGS LIKE HIM SITTING IN
A HOTEL FOR A WEEK ....BUT I ASKED HIM ON THE PHONE. HE TOLD ME THATS HOW
THEY SET UP A TASK FORCE TO WAIT FOR A FIRE NEAR BY TO BREAK... SO NOW I
KNOW. I JUST MISS HIM. BUT I LOVE HIM SO MUCH ILL KEEP MISSING HIM TILL HE
GETS HOME THEN HE WILL HAVE HIS HANDS FULL WITH NOTHING BUT LOVE AND A
WIFE WHO IS GOING TO TAKE CARE OF HIM WHILE HE RESTS UP FOR THE NEXT FIRE.
BUT WHEN THE CALL COMES AND HE LEAVES ME AGAIN ILL START MISSING HIM
ALLOVER AGAIN. DID I ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS?
HE HAS A REAL JOB AT HOME TOO. THEY LET HIM OFF FOR THESE FIRES.
I WILL NEVER LEAVE THIS MAN. I JUST HOPE AND PRAY THAT HE WILL BE
SAFE........IN THE END HE PROBLY FEELS THE SAME WAY ABOUT EVRYTHING I HAVE
SAID AND HOW I FEEL ... YOU MAKE IT SOUND LIKE I MISS HIM BUT HE DOESENT
MISS ME. MOST OF YOU SOUND LIKE WE ARE NOT GOING TO LAST BUT WHEN HE COMES
HOME THE LOVE WE HAVE GETS EVEN STRONGER. I SUPPORT HIM. IM NOT CRYING TO
HIM. I DONT WANT HIM TO FEEL BAD WHEN HES GONE. HES DOING WHAT HE LOVES
AND BY DOING THAT MAKES ME LOVE EVEN MORE THAT HE HAS THAT MUCH
DETERMINATION. I KNOW ITS HARD FOR HIM TO CHOOSE HIS DREAM JOB/OR HIS WIFE
CHILD AND JOB AND HOME...
MY HUSBAND WILL ONLY HAVE ONE WIFE THATS ME. I WILL NEVER LEAVE HIM. HE
WILL NEVER LEAVE ME. IM JUST LONELY AS I SAID BEFORE BUT ILL GET OVER IT.
HE SHOULD BE GLAD THAT I AM AT HOME WAITING FOR HIM AND NOT MESSING AROUND
OR MOVING ON. I WILL NEVER SAY THE WORD DIVORCE TO HIM EVER..... I
AM THE ONE WHO DESERVES HIM AND HE DESERVES ME. I HOPE SOME OF YOU
UNDERSTAND WHERE IM COMING FROM. HEARING WHAT YOU HAVE SAID MADE ME
REALIZE I LOVE HIM EVEN MORE WITCH I DIDNT THINK WAS POSSIBLE... SO THANK
YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
I LOVE YOU VAUGHN
LOVE, UTAH WIFE
Thank you for your clarifications. As you can see from the responses
to your post, maintaining relationships with spouses/significant others
may be difficult for wildland firefighters for many reasons. He's a lucky
man to have you tending the home fires for him. Ab.
||Read some of the latest & if marriage is doomed, listen to some of
these folks! Hang in there & beat the odds! I've been married to the
same women for 30 years. Missed more anniverseries & birthdays than
most; all due to fire calling. Will have to admit when I read your
message, I thought I would be the last one to respond.
||TO ZKP, I understand how you feel, in that when I was doing wildland
regularly there was no consistancy with regard for certification. The
correct answer is, If you have had S-212 (Chainsaw) and have passed it,
and your forest/district/park has signed you to be a Class A-B-C-D Sawyer
and you have the documentation (Red Card Cert and Course Certificate) then
it does not matter who you go and work for. The Forest Service (Region 5)
has the greatest inconsistancies that I have found in that one forest says
"Your good to go" and another says "If you didn't get it
with us it doesn't count". The fact of the matter is, if you took
S-212, passed it, and have the sawyers card and red card cert IT DOES NOT
MATTER WHERE YOU TOOK IT OR WHO WITH.
The whole point to the S- and I- courses was so everyone would be on
the same page, that everyone would get the same training from the same
book. From my perspective, I got my S-212 from the Plumas NF, but two
years later the Lassen would not recognize it, but the Los Padres NF
would, and the Modoc would but I had to demonstrate proficiency (I had to
drop a tree safely), and this wishy-washy attitude of "you didn't do
it through us so it doesn't count" is even among the same forest's
districts in that one says yes but the other says no. BLM and NPS will
accept it without question regardless of who it was done through because
it was an S- course. If they feel you can't do it ask to be tested, and if
they are still saying no then ask to contact the Forest FMO Training
Officer or Forest FMO for his opinion. It is a tremendous waste of time
and money to run an employee through a course he has already taken and
passed because some anal hun wants to make you "jump through his
To all of you with the Utah Wife situation. The situation is not much
different for the Structural Firefighters either. Although many of them
don't get the 21-day assignments like our wildland counterparts, they get
caught working overtime and it turns into a 3-4-5 day stint. My fiance
worked wildland for eight seasons while I to was doing it, and she worked
the same duties, went to the same fires, did the same things and she still
couldn't (or wouldn't) understand why I couldn't go to her sister's
wedding, or her parent's aniversary, or why I missed her birthday. These
things are more important to women overall than men, even to those who do
the same job. If your spouse doesn't understand what you do then take them
to the station, show them the fires you go to, what the working conditions
are like, have them visit a base camp of a large fire, and let them know
"Honey, I can't come home until its out or I'm relieved, and there is
no other way about it".
To the person who let us all know about the bill to allow temporary
time count toward retirement. Have you heard anything more about it? I
contacted my State Representative and Senators and asked them to support
the bill, but I have not heard any more about it. Can someone give us an
||I would just like to say, Ab hit it on the head, with his last message.
His "wife" path and mine reflect each other. My first wife was a
wonderful love born in the wonderment of the Sixities. We shared a lot.
Grew progressively more and more disenchanted with our situation in the
Bay Area, and went for a big change. As soon as she graduated from UC
Berkeley (and having been tear gassed a number of times), and since I had
been a wildland fire fighter before meeting her and the devils of Vietnam
seemed somehow to stay viable when fueled by an urban environment: we
decided to move into the mountains, I got onboard with the Feds again. You
all know by now the intense love, passion and committment I had/have for
wildland fire fighting. Wife One as I now call her, liked the money I
made, the fact that I got winters off and we spent most of it in Mexico.
However, after a move downstream on the Klamath River, then a year around
appointment, then the increasing levels of responsibility and experience
had me working longer, away longer: our love waned, our paths split, and
others complicated the equation. We desperately tried to hang on, with
counseling, with transfering back to a more "supporative" area,
but, I was blinded by my desire to be the best I could in my chosen
profession, and I would sacrifice just about anything to achieve the goals
I set for myself. Well, marriage one was placed on the altar, and suffered
a fairly amiable death. Wife two was the one that I was going to raise a
family with. A decade younger than me, she was also a FS employee, so we
had a large support package around us. However, I was by now, moving above
the BC rank, qualified instructor in a number of areas, on a bunch of
committees, fingered by some to wear a certain mantle that I eagerly
sought. While the job didn't really end this marriage, it certain strained
the hell out of it. It just kind of dissolved with our son bearing most of
the scars. My lovely soulmate now, was totally and frankly briefed on what
she was walking into. An ABSOLUTE NECCESSITY for any pair bonding to
survive the intense demands of wildland fire fighting. However, several
seasons into this union, the old demon(s) started to howl again. I wanted
a career move, which required a geopgraphic relocation; several plums came
open; I was anxious to snatch one that I had been wanting for years. I
could feel my fire pulse quicken, I began again to put the blinders on. It
wasn't true enlightenment, but certainly a personal one that told me, this
time big boy, you must sacrifice the job.
So for all of you out there,
women and men, there is no easy way to deal with the facts; wildland fire
fighters are not going to be there. You must make quality hay when the
time is available. I echo Ab's recommendations. Example: I got married the
third time on Valentine's day, not in the middle of the summer as the
second. It takes a unique and sharing, understanding bonding to
successfully negotiate a career in this profession while sustaining a
Like the man once said; Life is
not fair. However, when at 0230 in the morning, your pager goes off; and
you must chose to take the assignment ETA today's date @1000 in Sante Fe
with your days off just starting and the truck needing new tires; or turn
it down because your child has their first t-ball game tomorrow; the scale
of fairness starts rocking even greater. I hope each of you have with your
significant other dealt with this or a similar possibility BEFORE it
arrives. If you have, you are on a course that may steer you and yours
through the rough and often uncharted waters of being a wildland fire
Off the box now.
Hit'em Hard and Keep'em Small & remember Safety First.
I read your post and immediately told my wife (California Wife) to
respond, if anybody knows about being a fire wife, its her. I would ask
you to have your husband read this post because the next part is for him.
10 ways to keep your wife happy during fire season:
1. Call her daily ( I have a cell phone for this reason ) any way you can
2. Dont tell her about your day until you have asked about hers
3. Miss her and tell her you miss her EVERY DAY
4. Pick up something for her, just something to let her know you thought
of her when you were there
5. Write a daily letter to her, dont mail it, just give it to her when you
get home, every page.
6. When you get home, make the best of the reunion, go on a date or
whatever SHE wants
7. Always end your daily calls with affection
8. Mention the amount of money you are making, have facts and figures ( my
personal favorite )
9. Do your own laundry when you get home
10. Dont talk about the next fire
I know I would not be able to do what I do without her, she gives me
peace of mind so I can do my job safely and with little distraction.
Good luck, I hope everything works out.
Husband of California Wife
||Wow from one little post comes all this chatter. Here's my two cents to
Utah Wife and especially those of you going on fires.
For those of you going on fires and want to keep a good home relationship,
here is my advice.
#1 Talk to your spouse or spouse to be, and explain in depth what being
#2 Don't question your spouses decisions when you are away on fire. They
need to be confident that what they are doing is right. This is the hard
to do. Support them in every way possible.
#3 Remember when you get home that inundating them with the your heroic
war stories may leave them feeling unfulfilled. They may envy your life of
adventure on the road. Envy may lead to hurt.
#4 When you do talk to your spouse ask about them, and what they have been
#5 The first and last thing you should tell your spouse is how much they
mean to you, or I LOVE YOU.
#6 Treat everyday like its a special day, you never know when the call
#7 Ask your spouse what thier hopes and goals are. Then do everything you
can to help them reach them.
#8 Call home as often as its feasible.
#9 NEVER call home to bitch at them.
#10 When at home ALWAYS think of your spouses needs first. Remember they
are holding down the homefront while you are away. What would you do
These things may not work for all of you but take what you can and be
considerate of the one you love.
Utah Wife, I feel for you, but I think you and your husband need to
have a good long conversation about your relationship. I hope you two
figure a way to work it out. You learning to be more independent will be a
good start for yourself. Just because he loves fire doesn't mean he don't
love you. Talk to him about your concerns and try to be flexible.
Sorry for the long post Abe,
Sign me, Looking to keep love alive
||For those of you that have HazMat questions, check out the federal
bulletin 29cfr1910.120 it should have all the answers to your questions
about who needs to know what and to what level everybody needs trained.
Any Hazmainiacs out there can correct me if I'm wrong, but I pretty sure
that's the correct bulletin.
|| I appreciate those who
offered their thoughts and advice to "Utah wife". This is
obviously a cry for help from a stay-at-home wife who's new to the fire
season life. And shame on those who basically just flipped her off. I know
there are those of you on your second or third marriages who should be
able to offer better advice. Don't be so callous, you know first-hand how
fire has affected your home life, good and bad.
My personal experience
dictates honesty is the best approach, but when new lust and love are
blooming, some issues, even when stated may not be completely understood.
A passing statement early in the relationship such as "there may be
times I'm not home for dinner", ain't really being completely honest
now, is it? After my first wife was unable to stand my absence, I thought
I made sure my second mate-to-be-for-life understood my committment. I was
certain this would work, especially since I married another firefighter.
Although it lasted a while longer than the first, it too succumbed to the
hardship of extended summer separations. Prior to my third marraige, I
spent many hours talking with my future wife about my other love, how it
affected my past life, and how it would surely intrude on our future. She
probably still doesn't understand all of it, but I tried to let her know
beforehand just how many hours of overtime 800 hours really is; how many
days off I would be working during the season, and how many important
events I might miss. I tried to explain how traditional, media driven,
big-business marketed days such as birthdays, father's day, mother's day,
anniversaries, Valentine's Day, and even Thanksgiving or Christmas had
little meaning to myself and others who try to prevent, discover, attack,
or patrol the firelines. Is three times a charm? I sincerely hope so, but
hoping isn't all that's required.
With these words of
caution to any prospective spouses or wanna be cohabitants of wildland
firefighters, and Utah wife, I'll share a bit of hard learned experience.
To the above mentioned fireline lurkers: when it is the off-season and
when you are home, you had best make the time count. You dare NOT wait for
a special day or occasion to show your love and consideration for your
significant other and I suggest you surprise them with dinners, gifts, and
as many evenings of "quality time" together as you can. You may
miss some of the calendar prescribed "special event days", but
you CAN make up for it when you are home. Treat every day you get to come
home as if it was your last.
i'll echo everybody elses comment about being home...in the past year i
have missed my 1 year annivershary, thanksgiving, 4th of july, my moms
birthday, my grandparents 50th wedding annivershary, mothers day, fathers
day, and even my own birthday. But i have been home for all the other
"unimportant" days, those are the ones that really matter to me.
chin up, he will be home when the snow starts falling 8-)
ab, i got chainsaw "B" certified by a FS AFMO on my last fire
detail...to make a long story short, my district wont recognize it...is
their anything i can do? doesnt the forest service have national
standards? or is my FMO being difficult again?
||After reading the post by "Utah Wife" I would of sworn it was
by my wife 20 years ago. How things have changed, now it's "when are
you going to get a dispatch?" "We need the OT".
You have not found much sympathy on these pages and it is not likely
that you will. Few of find a job that pays us to do something that makes
us feel totally alive. To take this work away from your husband because of
your demands might leave you with your marraige intact but a very unhappy
husband. As one who retired after 24 years in the Air Force I would like
to pass on this saying to you when you listen to your husbands complaints.
'The only happy GI is one who is bitching.' If the troops dont have or
dont express their boredom, anger at management, lousy chow, etc you have
a unit that is in real trouble morale wise. Losing morale can cost you
your life in war or on the fireline. Wildland fire is a war and while it
is fought without bullets it can be just as deadly as a shooting war.
Hopefully you will find the selflessness to support your husband. If not,
as others have suggested you should get on with your life & he with
Mellie, AZ Trailblazer, AB et all
I like the idea of support groups. The military has used them for ages.
Of course they have the advantage of a home base for a source of support
and usually thousands of families to form these groups. You probably get
no more than 10 % of the spouses/significant others involved but the group
is there. Perhaps Mellie's suggestion of an online support group is
doable. Perhaps even the agencies would take the lead in setting up such a
web site. You dont have a great cncentration of folks in one location so
establishing a group that would meet face to face would be difficult and
probably very limited in its effectivness. Technology Uber Alles! Finally
something immediately available that can help those left behind. I think
its worth a shot.
||I remember what it was like in the beginning of our married life and it
was hard to be left alone especially because I was so young and imature.
But over time I understood how much he really wanted to do firefighting.
And he was very committed to how he wanted to do it, where he wanted to do
it etc... Once I GOT THAT I backed off and found out I was a very
independent person and I like me! So he does what he loves and I do what I
enjoy and I'm a stay at home mom and he a good father whether he's here or
there. Just realize you are a strong person and learn to develop yourself
and independence and your relationship will be all the better for it! From
one who knows, been with Stu for 23yrs, Mrs.Stu
||Just have some of my own Haz-mat type stories to ad to zoniespatcher:
Eating lunch by dumpstrers filled with dead turkies is a bad idea the
flies get more of the mystery meat than you.
Our crew was mopping up a big pile of horse manure and a local news
crew was filming us thinking they were getting some good shots for the
evening news, When I told them it was just horse shit they didnt seem to
mind although they thought it was amusing. Yes we did make it on the news
as they told of the brave firefighters saving all those homes, there we
were ankle deep in horse pucky.
||To the wildland fire "widow" from Utah::
After reading the many post's regarding your situation, I must first
ask a simple question.....
Did you know what your husband did during his summers prior to your
wedding day??? And if he did, sounds as if there wasn't "proper"
communication as to his time commitments away from the home fires....
Not to get into marriage counseling and psych 101, but I feel from the
short but very direct posting that you provided, I feel that the root of
the problem is obviously communications. Your husband has needs and wants,
and yourself included. The both don't seem to connect, yet. And I do mean
a very high hearted YET. What a great time the both of you will have when
he finally comes home for those few days of rest. Please, give him the
oportunity to share with you all of his adventures with you and take time
to listen to his upcoming goals that he may have for the next fire
assignment. When it's your turn to communicate back, talk about all the
things that you did while he was away, and that you missed him being there
with you. As time goes on, explain the concerns that you may have about
his time away from you. I'm sure that with much time and understanding,
the both of you will come to a "small" compromise and will work
My wife and I have been togther for almost 2 years, and she knows how
much fire season means to me. She worries about the crew and I, but knows
that this is what I live fore every year. I have many firefighters under
my command that have basicly the same problems. We have a great fire
family here. When we head out the door for a few weeks, the wives and
girlfriends get together and support and watch out for each other. What a
great oportunity to strengthen our fire family. We all win with this kind
of organization. When the fire crews are supported by the fire district
and the "ladies club", as I like to put it, everyone is happy.
Does your husband work for the feds or state?? You should probably get
together with the other wives and "significant others" and have
a pot luck. You never know what might come out of it.... maybe a
"coming home from the fire with a large pay check party!!"
Good Luck, and don't give up soo darn quickly!!
||Just have some of my own Haz-mat type stories to add to zoniespatcher:
Eating lunch by dumpstrers filled with dead turkies is a bad idea. the
flies get more of the mystery meat than you.
Our crew was mopping up a big pile of horse manure and a local news
crew was filming us thinking they were getting some good shots for the
evening news, When I told them it was just horse shit they didnt seem to
mind although they thought it was amusing.
Yes we did make it on the news as they told of the brave firefighters
saving all those homes, there we were ankle deep in horse pucky.
||r.e. The Utah Wife
I am also married to a wildland firefighter, and yes he is often gone on
birthdays, our anniversary (July 14th), holidays and other events. We just
took a summer vacation for the first time in the 10 years we have been
married! And no, its often not convenient and can be lonely. I also work
for FS and must act as a single parent for most of the summer. Trying to
schedule my meetings, other job requirements, and childcare around his
unpredictible schedule often has me climbing the walls. However, my
husband loves what he does and I believe that that is important for a
happy marriage. Though he is often gone, when he is home he is there 100%
so what we lack in quantity over the summer we make up for in quality. And
the reunions after a fire assignment keep the spark going in our
relationship. The best advice I can offer is to accept his love of the job
(I enjoy mine too), make sure you have a good support network, and a
variety of outside interests that will lessen the impact of his being
gone. Fire season too shall pass, and fire checks can help make for many
happy off-season memories!
Well said! Ab.
Just thought i'd say hi. Found your site today. I'm an Air Attack Officer
from Saskatchewan, Canada. Like the photos, hope to send you some flame
How do I go about it?
Sending the pictures as a jpg attachment is the best, but I can
convert any format to the appropriate one for the page. I'm a bit behind
on posting photos but hope to get to it soon. Ab.
||Just finished a four page response to a Northern Californian
Congressman, who had sent me a package, which contained, among other
things, a 26 page review of fire fighting activities on a national forest
in his district and asked me for my thoughts and comments. To speak
generally, the review hit the nail on the head with what has happen within
the Forest Service, especially with regard to wildland fire fighting.
Those of us, and they appear to be a few visiting our great Web site, that
were green in the Sixties, got wise and safety smart in the 70's, became
enlightened when we decreed consent in the 80's, know that it's been
downhill for a while. In my response I again proposed what I proposed, 25
years ago, a Federal Fire Service. And of course I harped on all the usual
Fed wildland ff issues.
For those that asked:
interpreting poetry is the reader's challenge!
But back to this review.
"Records indicate the Forest is requesting full funding. However the
national office has chosen to as for only 70% of MEL (Most Efficient
Level). After indirect cost are taken this leaves less than 50% of MEL to
the field level."
This theme of no money
permeates this review and certain stands as a foundation stone upon which
the demise of federal wildland fire fighting organization is being built.
This particular national forest happens to be one I spent a few years on,
it's fire planner (MEL Magician) was my assistant for a few of those
years. His handle by the way is Balsa Man, but you might be careful using
it! So for you out there who "bleed the green," my advice is to
become active in addressing to your elected officials, your personal
concerns about this course. As professionals in the field, you do actually
carry a lot of weight, regardless of whether you're a FF1 or a Division
I am ready and willing to
assist any and all who wish to pursue this action.
For you who "bleed another
color" you to can do the same. Address local, agency specific issues,
but also address your concerns about the level of protection being taken
on your lands, the national forest, BLM acres, etc.
I promised awhile back to not
soap box too hard, and attempt - to keep'em short.
I enjoyed all the latest
postings. Keep up the great dialogues.
Oh I forgot, this review team
interviewed about 60 folks, and their report contains "Indicator
Comments." They read like fire alarms going off.
I'll let you know what I hear
back from the congressman. I'm actually hoping for a job offer! (HA HA) Me
in DC in a suit. Yeah, right.
Yeah, wouldn't that be the day. Ab.
||Dear Utah Wife,
Do try to get over it.
My wife of over 20 years just shakes her head and gets on with a life of
being married to a wildland firefighter. The quiet winters are all the
Some day a nice long summer vacation will be all the more sweeter.
My kids are my strongest incentive for getting my priorities straight --
which is a continuous effort on my part.
A firefighter's greatest sacrifice is not his life -- a loss of one's life
only happens once, instead -- it's the special times that are constantly
missed with those we love.
||This is for UTAH WIFE,
We all know how that is...hurry up and wait. Sorry to hear about him
missing your anniversary,but he is a very lucky man...
most of us sleep in tents......... Dennis R5
||Was sent on a local agency strike team, Code 3, from Sonoma County. The
first 12 hours was kick ass the next 72 was kick ash. Had a ton of fun and
had a great S.T.L. and the other 4 engine crews were good guys. Took a few
pictures I thought I would pass along. I would have more but the battery
in my camera died, but we survived. Be safe out there it's still a long
fire season. God Bless all the firefighters who have given their all this
Local Agency Volunteer Engineer
He's a wildland firefighter, he's 26 yrs old, and you've been married 1
year - you should be happy and feel lucky that it has lasted that
||Slurpy Drinker Shade Seeker,
Region 5 is not the only Region that requires an IHTG refresher. If you
would read chapter 2 of the IHOG you would see that all helicopter
crewmembers are required to attend a yearly refresher to be current.
Exclusive use Helitack crews have been doing this for years. When you
don't do something for a while you tend to forget things. Many folks who
fill CWN assignments only get once a year or less so the idea is to get
the brain thinking about Helicopter Safety....The Federal agencies also
require an LCES or Standards for Survival refresher every year for anyone
with fireline qualifications. Same idea.
||Hello Utah Wife,
In your closing FIGHT FIRE OR COME HOME do you mean 1) he should get
out there somehow and fight fire or get his ass home to you? Or 2) are you
joining with him in asking the overhead (bosses) to let him fight fire,
otherwise let him come home?
There's an important difference between the two. If it's the first, you
might need to reconsider being married to a wildland firefighter -- or at
least reassess your situation and perhaps adjust your attitudes. Fire is
his passion and if you make him choose, it will put him in a terrible
bind, and your relationship will suffer. Giving up fire is hard. It hooks
you. Just read posts here and you'll see why. I'm hooked. If I were told I
had to give it up, I wouldn't.
On the flip side, I empathize with you. Being the spouse of a wildland
firefighter is no cakewalk -- periods of separation, missed family events,
taking up the slack, having to create a pretty independent life while he's
away. Then he's back and you have to figure out how to function as a
couple all over again. When he returns, he may not realize how you've
grown while he was away, and may want to take charge of things you've
learned to do for yourself. Having been in control of getting things done,
he may come home making demands and wanting it done *right now*.(You're
female, so I'm saying he, but it's also hard when the woman is the ff and
the husband is left at home.) As an occupation, wildland firefighters have
the highest divorce rate. Pretty grim statistic and, no wonder, with the
separation and stress... Keep in mind, also that when he comes back, he's
probably getting flack for not meeting targets at work. Many left behind
in the office liken firefighting to summer camp... Go figger...
If, in saying FIGHT FIRE OR COME HOME, you're exhorting the overhead
(Bosses) to use the resources such as your man or set them free, I
appreciate your frustration. Why should he sit in a hotel when he'd rather
be living his passion? and making the overtime that makes the job bearable
for the one left at home. Unfortunately, sitting and waiting is also part
of the fire suppression process. Sometime he'll make enough money to make
it worthwhile and sometime not. (Now, if you were from Minnesota, there
might be yet other explanations!)
In either case, good luck, and good luck to him, too. From married
friends I've observed, it's not easy... but worth it.
Mellie (aka, the stress psychologist)
Ab, maybe we should have a spouses corner. Part of the frustration is
that spouses don't even know what to expect or how to deal with it. Not
whining, just trying to express feelings and get some answers.
||TO UTAH WIFE:
You're whining because your old man is addicted to fire and is gone
away from home for weeks at a time. You complain because he's "put up
in a hotel waiting," and you complain about your anniversary and his
birthday and the 4th of July. Here's a little tidbit of advice for ya,
lady. Get used to it or find yourself another boy with a "real
job." If you love him, you gotta love fire, too, like he does. If you
can't handle fire, then YOU CAN'T HANDLE HIM. Get out before it's too
late! But if you think you DO love him, then deal with your own life and
LET HIM LIVE HIS, see?
You close your post with "FIGHT FIRE OR COME HOME." It's like
this, see, he IS fighting fire. Your call-to-reality is this: MAKE A FIRE
HOME FOR HIM OR GET OUT OF HIS LIFE. He doesn't need whining from you, he
needs support. Deal with it or let someone who deserves him have him.
Sign me, Been There Done That (twice)
||Slurpy Drinker Shade Seeker, Region 5 is not the only Region that
requires an IHTG refresher. If you would read chapter 2 of the IHOG you
would see that all helicopter crewmembers are required to attend a yearly
refresher to be current. Exclusive use Helitack crews have been doing this
for years. When you don't do something for a while you tend to forget
things. Many folks who fill CWN assignments only get once a year or less
so the idea is to get the brain thinking about Helicopter Safety....The
Federal agencies also require an LCES or Standards for Survival refresher
every year for anyone with fireline qualifications. Same idea.
||My husband is a Utah Wild Land FireFighter
All he talks about is fire... Going on a fire.......... Well everytime he
has gone on a fire he is gone for 3to4 weeks. Most the time he is put up
in a hotel waiting. For the last week he has been in Colorado -- our 1yr
anniversary, his 26th b-day, 4th of july and he is still in a hotel.
FIGHT FIRE OR COME HOME
Couple ways you can go on your request:
1) Contact the your local FS supervisors office personnel department
and see if there is a GS-7 AFMO PD on file coverning what you want. Might
try this thru your regional personel office also.
2) If that doesn't work, or none available, get ahold of your regional
fire directory and start calling all the GS-7 AFMO's to see if you can
find one with your requirements.
||Hello Mellie, I'm not sure which Dave posted that thing about long
posts. But it wasn't this Dave because as you said I've been known to be
rather verbose at times. Whoever it was pay them no attention, post any
message just the way you want too. Anyway I usually sign off this way...
Just thought I would drop a line to let you know that I have been
visiting your site for a while and I think it's pretty cool. I like to
come home from a days work and read whats going on in the "smoke and
ash" and other hot topics. I have some pictures of fires going up
around me here in Northeastern Utah that I'll send as soon as they get
developed. today from here I can see smokes from the Wildhorse Fire in WY,
Buster Flats in CO, Klinger Fire in CO, and the Cone Mtn. in CO. Fire
going up all around us but nothing close.
Once again like the site.
Welcome SmokeSeeker, is kinda fun, isn't it? With regard to the
photos, what we like most is *FLAMES* to post. If you have any good
pictures of flames, send them in! Ab.
||Just read the posts concerning firefighters retirement, arduous duties,
primary, secondary etc. If anyone out there has a Forest Service PD for a
GS-7 AFMO that is classified and approved as primary I would certainly
like to hear from you. I don't think there is one out there but one never
knows for sure.
Thanks for the forum AB.
All of this talk of haz-mat..I have a good yarn to spin on this one!!! The
following are watch out Haz-mat situations...
You are fighting fire in a back yard only to realize the poor folks
living there are not using any kind of sewer or septic system and you are
ankle deep in @!#*.....
Backing down the side of a hill, near a horse ranch to pick up a spot
and realize you are knee deep in @!#*......
There is a fire on the fence line of the Ostrich ranch and the fire
consists of Ostrich manure 30 feet wide and a mile long! (that fire burned
for a month..slowly smoldering and causing a stink along the
A strange fire is burning in the dirt and flares up when you stir
it.....the fire is along the rail road near a copper mine....is it some
kind of copper nitrate? some mining chemical? sulfur? NO...it is pecan
tree duff that has been buried under ground and is now on fire from a
railroad spark...(this was discovered after the haz-mat team
A fire is burning near a farm...you move to evacuate the house and
check the barn...it is full of really angry pigs!!!
These are just some of my haz-mat experiences...the ones that can
really drive you crazy, but give you something to tell later
I do not know what area you are currently working, but,
a few words of advice since that appears to be what you are looking for!
Don't dwell on the negative about your present (past?) employer! Most
potential employers will think twice about hiring someone who left an
employer because they were not happy with their supervisor. Don't make an
issue of your gender. Instead, present a positive "sales pitch"
to your prospective employer. Let them know what you have to offer and how
it will benefit their organization!
Both government agencies and private contractors in
Region 5 are always looking for FF 2's that have something to offer.
FORGET THE PAST, SELL YOUR SKILLS!
||Sorry Dave, I'm the culprit. I will try to keep them shorter and I'll be
sure I put any message to you in the first paragraph, then you don't have
to read any further. BTW, seems like you've posted some long ones during
your tenure here. Or are you the other Dave?
||an interesting topic, haz-mat in the wildland! we are fortunate to have
several state certified tech that are trained to handle these types of
calls.we haven't had too many calls of this nature . when are the big wigs
going to realize that this is a new world? there are many more hazards out
there then most people realize. training is the answer ! we all dont all
have to be techs, but trained to recognize that a hazard could exist. but
then there are people who either dont care or are too caught up in
themselves to ask for help in something they have no clue about. some
advise- if you have any doubt about what about what you are up against-get
help. it doesn't matter if you are the low man on the totem pole or a
chief or higher, you dont want to take this crap home.
||I AM A FF-2 . I AM NOT HAPPY WITH MY CREW BOSS AND LEADER . COMPANY! I
UNDERSTAND THERES A LOT MORE JOBS OUT THERE ! BUT I DON'T WANT TO SEEM
LIKE A QUITTER. IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDERS... AS I AM A FEMALE , THERE
IS SO MUCH TO RECONCIDER TO FIND ANOTHER PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT . CAN YOU
PLEASE HELP ME?
||When you post a very long message, most people do not even get past the
The wildland firefighter's monument at NIFC was designed to be a
natural, wildland setting rather than just another lawn. Given the
semi-arid environment of Boise, there are a limited number of native
plants that can be used. Ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, aspen, blue flax,
bitterbrush, sagebrush, basin wildrye, etc., are not weeds as you suggest.
Rather, they are native plants typical of the area. All of the materials
and labor have been donated. For example, a local boy scout troop built
and installed the benches, and a local crane company installed the large
boulders from which the waterfall is constructed. I have
"caught" NIFC employees here on weekends pruning, weeding
cheatgrass, etc. Retirees return frequently to maintain the waterfall.
Vicki Minor, a local vendor and executive director of the Wildland
Firefighters Foundation, started the fund raising effort. The National
Forest Foundation volunteered its organization to help with fund raising,
etc. Many vendors contributed much-appreciated funds, such as the $25,000
donated by Era Aviation. The larger-than-life firefighter statutes were
commissioned by a selection committee which included representatives from
the Foundations, etc. It is a local labor of love. We who live here,
donated money for it, care for it, and visit it every day - love it. It
has also become home to several guilds of native quail. It is a cherished
reminder of those who gave the greatest gift of all - in a setting we're
sure they would have appreciated.
||Is it time for another soapbox?
Reading the post about hazardous materials got the
brain cells generating a great amount of electrical current and not all of
it was going in a steady straight path. And the following is an unedited,
ungrammatically corrected, flow of thoughts. Sorry if the spelling is off,
but that’s a computer for ya.
I was reading Al’s request for information about
policy/ies regarding putting firefighters in potentially toxic
environments and it got me to thinking. Being a structural fire fighter
and having to deal with Haz-Mat situations on just about every incident,
Haz-Mat information is just about as common in structural training as the
Fire Triangle. However, in the world of Wildland Fire Fighting, about the
only thing you hear about Haz-Mat is: “Try to prevent fuels and oils
from spilling into streams or onto the land when you refill your pumps.”
I am sorry for being short and I am sure that there is a lot more than
that, but you all know how much Haz-Mat Training you have had.
Usually the wildland fire fighter is not faced with
Hazardous Material situations. Or are they? One of the first assignments
my crew received on a Wildland/Interface fire was to seek out and
extinguish a dump fire in a residential area in Florida. No questions ask,
we went about our assignment. Luckily, we never found the dump. Was that
an unsafe order for a crew of wildland fire fighters to have?
In the IC System, there is a position of Safety
Officer, who is responsible for the monitoring and assessment of hazardous
and unsafe situations and developing plans to assure personnel safety. Is
it a safe act to send a crew of wildland fire fighters into a burning
dump? I don’t even feel good about fighting a dumpster fire in a $1600
suit and wearing a $1200 breathing apparatus, breathing canned air from a
tank, and having enough water to flood the thing. But at the time, I was
ready to walk into a burning pit of Lord only knows what...DUMB... Where
was the assessment of hazardous and unsafe situations? Better yet, where
was the Safety Officer? And, even more important, where was my own common
sense? I know what this stuff can do and yet I was ready to fight the Fire
from Hell. As Fitch said: “Look in your own storage shed.” Better yet,
look under your kitchen sink in the trash can. We are a throw away world:
plastics, aerosol cans containing poisons, flammables, combustibles items,
and just about anything else that you can think of. And, I wouldn’t even
attempt to think of what the Government could or would hide on a
Governmental Area. Out of sight, Out of mind. I would just about bet that
there are Governmental areas that the trees glow at night.
He also mentioned the Emergency Response Guidebook,
which we too carry, but usually 98% of the stuff we run into doesn’t
have a placard or container marking. It may have a label and usually that
requires a person to handle the item just to read it. Several times, I
have thought about trying to read a label on a can under a sink with a
pair of binoculars, but never have. Even if I could have, when you mix
three of four cans of stuff together, what have you got then?
I could best shorten this whole mess by just stating
that a great deal of information needs to be added to the Basic Wildland
Fire Fighter Training in the Safety Area, which should deal with Hazardous
Materials. Safety Officers also need to be more sensitive about
assignments and informed about what crews could run into and how to deal
with the situations if found. And, we as fire fighters also need to
question our own abilities and knowledge as to what we are getting into.
After all we are our own last line of defense as far as being safe.
Remember, if your little voice inside starts to tell you that you are
about to screw-up, if you are like me, it’s usually to late. YOU ALREADY
Be Safe Out There
P.S. Mellie ref: "Hickman, I'm going to spank you if you don't
make it out to visit me!" If I don't make it into your neck of the
woods, you won't be the first woman to have spanked me and lived to tell
||I'm curious how many people have seen the Wildland Firefighters Monument
in Boise and what you think of it. I for one think it is an eye sore that
could use 5 gallons of roundup. The monuments are covered up with weeds
and the sidewalks are overgrown with weeds. The monument should reflect
serenity and a certain amount of reverence, which I don't feel when
walking or visiting the Monument. Look at the Fire Center Grounds and they
are all landscaped and well kept. If someone wanted to have native
grasses, then a small part could have been set aside for them, while
leaving the rest of the monument more pleasing to the eye and well kept.
||MGM, your little chart has just confirmed what I have suspected for a
long time. But you stopped short in your definitions. Please correct me if
I am wrong on the following:
Heli-whinner: the person on the crew that is calling base camp every
half hour or so demanding cold drinks, ice, food and motel reservations.
Some may mistake the sound this person makes for the helicopters warming
up in the morning.
Heli-donna: no known function (as far as I can tell) but to be in the
area of the helibase and is in clean (or new) tailored nomex at all times.
This person always looks as if they just got out of the shower and is
never seen doing any work. Treats non-helitack personnel with indifference
or disdain. Always found in the shade near the cold drinks.
And who is the person in the flight suit that looks more like a pilot
than the pilot does, but is not a pilot?
||MGM: How long ago did you work on the Las Vegas Helitack Crew?
||Mellie, and all,
You wanted to know about training in the other agencies and the VFDs.
I'll take a shot at it although I can't speak for those I have't seen. The
New Mexico State BLM does not train their people in structure or any kind
of HAZMAT response. If one of their engines is first on scene a vehicle
accident with identified HAZMAT cargo they pull back and call for help
from one of the Regional Hazmat Teams. Park Service does some kind of
structure firefighting training for their permanent folks. Seasonals at
least in some cases are shown how to don an SCBA and thats the extent of
their structure training. The Volunteers are like a crazy patchwork quilt,
some will put to shame the paid fire departments with their
professionalism. Some want to charge in and put the fire out before they
size it up. They often dont have proper wildland gear even though over 50
percent of there calls are going to be grass or field fires. Going out in
Bunkers on a wildfire is a sure ticket to heat stress. The states regulate
the volunteers. California is probably the one state that treats
volunteers like paid firefighters. They have to get medical approval to
use an SCBA per the OSHA Standard. However for most states if they become
to demanding your pool of firefighters dries up. Remember your volunteer
is not paid and yes they still have bake sales to purchase new equipment.
How good the volunteers are on any fire is probably due to their chief or
other senior officers. Here in New Mexico the volunteers get about 5 weeks
training at the State Fire Academy. You have to be dedicated to leave your
paycheck behind you to become an unpaid firefighter. I'm sure other states
have similiar programs. How good are they? There is one BLM Field office
in New Mexico that really appreciates the volunteers. Seems there was a
brush fire and the BLM engine vapor locked as the head of the fire
approached. The local VFD moved in with their engine which just happens to
carry 3000 gallons of water complete with deck gun (monitor). They used
the monitor to knock the fire down and then their winch to retreive the
I know agency policies for the most part say no structural
firefighting. But the interface is just going to get worse. If there is a
civilian fatality in a structure when there is a wildland engine sitting
on the road all hell will break loose. You think the political flack was
bad over Los Alamos? There were no fatalities there and probably only a
little radiation. My personal opinion is that wildland firefighters will
have to become dual qualified. I think CDF and to some extent the Park
Service have done this. May not be your preference but it might aid in
getting year around firefighters instead of using seasonals.
Don't mess around with those bottle rockets and other incendiary
devices this Fourth of July. There are more than enough fires to keep
||in response to Mellie--95% of population is urban & we (the gov't)
can change their perspective thru the internet!
Guess i'm glad I can retire! The present administration has put the
gov't resource agencies on a collision course of failures thru agendas,
giving in to all sorts of environmental BS & especially the new
younger read on things.
I need to change 1 thing to brush crew; it should be 63
my first temp position.
I do work in a state (but I'm FS) that has an excellent
natural resourse magazine, sent monthly for free to explain/demonstrate
what's going on! why can't the good ol' FS do this instead of wasting all
sorts of $$$$$$$$$$$$$ on NEW AGENDAS/ROADS INITIATIVES/PLANNING REGS! I
suspect it would be cheaper than the non-word we are getting out now.
But back to the internet salvation. How many of the
persons on the internet are going to tune in? 10 maybe 15%. ain't going to
the good part---I agree there are some really good line
folks still out there but the ranks are very thin! & yep I'd bleed
brush crew 63
||does anyone know someone on durango helitack..i am looking for Seth. he
was at the grand cyn last year ........
please email me
||From my season of good fun on Las Vegas Helitack
1/2 burning tree******** Single Tree Fire
1 burning tree********** Single Tree fire
2 Burning trees********* Two plus acres and send in the rest of the
crew, we'll be out for the night.
1-2 Acres*************** Nothing we can handle please call in a load of
jumpers find a nice cushy spot for a Helibase and lets get us some meals
out here ASAP.
||Why is that in Region 5 for you to have an assignment as Helitack you
have to go through a refresher course each year? Does Dividtions, Branch,
IC, OPS Cheif ? Also, I thought it was pretty standard for all
firefighters to pass S-130 & S-190 ?
Slurpy Drinker Shade Seeker
||Hi All -- Some catching up:
Fitch and Al: Thanks for the dialogue about safety. I think DOE has
already thought out the exposure to toxic agents issues. Rochelle, the
Other Tim, what's your experience? A friend who lives in Umatilla OR (sp?)
once showed me a calendar all residents get. Each day has a safety item
relating to actions to take in the case of a nuclear accident. Evacuation
information is prominent. Very strange but complete.
My guess is that if the study Al mentions was done by the DOD
(Defense), it has to do with response times to TERRORIST threat. In the
case of that kind of emergency, I agree with Al that there might be
pressure to use ICT firefighters and their militia, perhaps even in a
city, in spite of threat to FF lives. Overhead in the IC system/NIFC
should think of what they would do if ever such a "call to arms"
were made. If you find the reference, anyone, I'd like to see it too. I
could send it to the appropriate people with some pointed questions.
With respect to the hazards of interface fires, I learned some of this
in the CDF's FF1 class I finished in May. Somehow in that context it was
not so real as it became watching FF in the Los Alamos fire. I thought
they might have more problems with garage contents than with radiation
(because I think DOE is monitoring that). It's ironic that fighting
structure fire is not in the job description of wildland FFs employed by
the FS. Thus, there is no training for safety with chemical hazards
present in structures, except when training is done by some other agency.
I think that either the FS should stand firm on not fighting structure
fire on the interface, or we should train our people to fight it safely.
Forest Service FFs should have the job designation of FIREFIGHTER as do
city FF and not be called "technicians". (Please correct me if
I'm wrong on FS training). What is required for Volunteer Fire
Departments, BLM, NPS?
Firehorse, I also have heard rumors about restructuring fire and
dissolving the Forest Service. Such rumors go with any big change,
especially when distrust of government is involved. I also think the FS
will look different in 20 years, but I'd rather have it be a result of
questioning and planning than by default through budget cuts and
BrushCrew'62, part of the problem with lack of public involvement in
fire IS that 95%+ of the population is urban and wildland fire is not on
their radar screen. However, there is more interface than one might expect
in the east and south. If there were a good ad campaign and fire was truly
marketed to the public, we could change public knowledge and interest. I'm
not sure the internet will be used optimally by those of the current FS
leadership who are fire savvy. At times, there seems to be an inability to
get information critical to the fire operation out on the web, let alone
market fire to the public. There are a hodge-podge of formats, some of
which are not user-friendly, people who are good are not paid and
therefore not retained. However, as the current FS leadership retires and
younger people with web knowledge move up who can take responsibility for
hiring those who can use the internet as a tool for changing attitudes, we
may see some change. To bad that the oldies who have fire knowledge may
have to be gone before the new technology can really be utilized. Kinda
scary, actually. Loosing the wisdom that can protect the groundpounder to
rebalance the system with respect to the larger whole.
Firehorse, you lamented that, "FS management does not have a clue
what their people are really feeling about their work." I think many
of them do. Line officers (Rangers, Forest Sups) with a fire background
certainly do. They are simply part of a system that is under-funded and
whose purpose has become unclear with the decline in forest management and
the rise of a vocal urban preservationist minority. Those of us who find
ourselves bleeding green just need to define new goals that reflect what
we do today and market those -- with help from the public. (Lest my words
polarize, I consider myself a pragmatic global preservationist -- a little
more wide-thinking than my vocal local preservationist brethren.)
To the fun stuff:
BC Davis -- It's taking a little longer for our NJ Pine Barrens report
than I thought because I did the pictures on slide film. Darn, hate it
when I blow it! Anyway, stay tuned!
About the Dragon Wagon: Thanks for the pics, CJ, and the
clarifications, Adrenalin Junkie and others. As for you ABERCROMBIE!!!!
Don't be thinkin' I'm runnin' away. I may just have to pull down my neck
and face shield and put on my goggles! And hold my line!
AZ Trailblazer, welcome back! Rest up, you'll probably be heading out
again. If you end up in northern CA (Trinity or Humboldt County) let me
know so we can tie in, if I'm not off somewhere else. WP, you too! You're
a hoot! Hickman, I'm going to spank you if you don't make it out to visit
Take care all! Ab, thanks for posting this long one. Hopefully traffic
on theysaid will be slow on this holiday weekend... Here's to
INDEPENDENCE! [CLINK] and FREEDOM OF SPEECH! [CLINK, CLINK]
Thanks, Some day I may actually decide to fight that battle. Like I
said, I have already established my primary fire so primary/secondary does
not affect my retirement at all. But being FLSA exempt does affect my
paycheck. Driving or traveling home from a prescribed fire or any other
non emergency I can not be paid for hours worked after or before 6 oclock,
though the rest of my crew is. Thats why I was curious about the exempt
My team just got called out and I am on my way to Nevada. Take care.
||AL and anyone else who is interested.
You were curious about exposing wildland firefighters to potentially
toxic environments. Happens all the time when you work an interface fire.
All you have to do is look in your own storage shed for some really nasty
stuff. Those pesticides with EPA approval are for the most part nerve or
blood agents. Some of them are absorbed directly through the skin. Many of
them derived from our chemical warfare agents. Problem is you don't know
what Joe homeowner has in his storage shed. As best you can stay upwind if
an outbuilding/house is involved. In fact leave it for the structural
firefighters if there are any available, they at least have SCBAs and can
protect their lungs. I would fall back on Fire Order #1" Fight fire
safely...." If you don't know its safe you probably shouldn't be
there. One item which can help with hazardous chemicals is Emergency
Response Guidebook. As far as I know all engine crews carry a copy here in
R3. Not a bad idea for a crew boss to carry in an interface situation. If
you identify 25 gallons of "Methyl Ethyl Death" in a shed you
can look it up. If the guide page tells you to evacuate at least one mile
upwind do it, get everyone out of the area and let it burn. It takes
trained HAZMAT firefighters to deal with something like that.
As far as radiation which might have been present at Los Alamos and
Hanford you can easily protect yourself from alpha or beta. Your nomex
will work to protect your skin. You should use a dust mask to protect your
lungs. My preference is the Moldex 2300, only weighs about an ounce, easy
to carry & wear. This will keep the alpha and beta out. There are some
rugged portable radiation monitoring instruments that could be carried by
shots or any other handcrew. I was amazed that at Los Alamos the crews
were checked for radiation exposure on their clothes and equipment after
they finished their shifts. Apparently giving them a portable radiation
monitor to use on line was never thought of-or perhaps it was. Hmm!
Now what directives do you have for exposure to toxic environments? For
those of you who are under DOI you can look in 485 DM Chapter 4 and see
that DOI has adopted all NFPA Standards which apply besides all of big
brother OSHAs. NFPA has standards that cover just about anything you can
run into on a fire. Who enforces adherence to any standard? The first line
supervisor. Will OSHA cite you if someone gets hurt. You bet! Now the
lucky ones in the FS have an invisible safety program (outside of the fire
& aviaton section) which is the way your regional safety folks want it
to be! Whats the cure. Training, training, training! The interface is not
going to go away, in fact it will only get worse with time. You may all at
sometime down the road have to do structure protection and become dual
qualified for structure and wildland. The Park Service does this now. You
need some competent safety folks who care about their calling. Fire &
safety need to talk! From what I have seen there is little effective
communication between them.
To the best of your abilities be safe out there!
||Greetings Ab et al,
Been lurking awhile cause of nothing new to say. My VFD keeps here and
it's been so quiet. I don't want to get into politics eitheer But I think
George W. might be good for US. I know that he sure helped the VFD's
during the Siege of 96. He realizes what it takes to fight fires. As
always I thoroughly enjoy the site. You gotta know that the Hanford fire
is news when it makes the front page of a local paper in Tyler,Tx. but
there it was with pictures and all.
||Dombeck came from the BLM. I agree with Firehorse. I spent over 35 years
being a smokey and go back every so often as an AD. I was so proud to wear
the green's, but refused to wear them the last 2-3 years of my career. I
sure hope the "New" agency retains a half way good looking
uniform. It will be interesting to see what States do with their names
after the great merger. How about "Texas DNR" or "North
Carolina DNR" it would put them on a par with several other States.
There are a lot of Very good people left, but most of the power wonks
do not fall into this catagory. Lets hope for the best and fight for the
||Bobster, If you are required to pass a arduous fitness test as a
requirement of continuing employment you are in a primary/rigorous
position, period. It does not matter how many people you supervise or if
you excempt or not. This is how the BLM and NPS thier positions. The FS
does not view the law that way, they look at it as a level of supervision.
Their personnel specialists seem to have the attitude "If I can't
qualify for firefighter retirement nobody else should."
There aren't that many trees to manage anymore within FS lands. One of
the frustrating things to FS folks is the amount of their effort and the
taxpayers dollars that goes into preparing a timeber sale, then it is
stopped by a "Preservationist" (note I did not call them an
"Environmentalist") with a 35 cent stamp. The forest I retired
from has less than 7% of the lands available for timber management. And it
is not the least amount of alot of other forests within the agency. People
still need lumber for homes and then wonder why the cost of that home is
Dombeck came to the FS from BLM. Between him and the Undersecratary,
the FS is doomed. Especially if Gore wins the election. Many of the FS
folks in this neck of the woods are bailing out and going over to BLM.
Compared to the same position within the FS, the BLM offers: same work
with less accountability, less supervison and supervisor duties, and
normally two pay grades higher. BLM also offers less scrutinty by the
public, less interference from Congress, and generally a work atmosphere
similar to what the FS enjoyed up till about 4-5 years ago. This is by no
means a slam against BLM. Been on alot of fires with BLM and they have
some excellent firefighters. Also have several friends under the BLM
banner. Don't blame those FS folks at all that are transferring over to