SUBJECT    (Previous Archive: Aug-00) Return to Archives Page

On September 26th, Kent Swartzlander, FWFSA President, testified before the Civil Service Subcommittee. There were three panels who provided oral testimony which included; Congressman Richard Pombo, Congressman Tom Udall, FWFSA President Kent Swartzlander, and representing the Administration, Henry Romero from OPM.

Congressman Pombo introduced our bill (HR 2814). He also provided some very good testimony. Congressman Pombo represents the Tracy-Stockton area I am very thankful to Casey Judd, our CPF 5th District VP for his efforts in bringing Congressman Pombo on board for us. Thank you notes are in order for the Pombo office.

Congressman Udall of New Mexico also testified at this hearing. Udall was extremely supportive of the bill as well. Udall a Democrat and Pombo a Republican displayed great acknowledgement that this is a bi-partisan issue -- one of public safety.

Then came OPM, Associate Director of Workforce Compensation & Performance, Henry Romero. It turns out that Henry was the Administration's spokesman. That is, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior.

Basically, Romero began with supportive statements concerning the plight of the wildland firefighters. Then however, he began a testimony, which reflected a difference of opinion and support. In speaking for the Administration, he announced, "we all agree that a long-term solution is needed. Therefore, the Administration submitted a legislative proposal to Congress last week that would address overtime pay problems in two ways". This proposal would ensure that all federal employees would receive no less than their hourly pay for overtime rate and that their overtime rate would be the greater of a new pay cap of the GS-12/1 or their hourly pay. Indeed this would increase the pay cap by several dollars an hour - but will it fix the problem surrounding the exempt-no-exempt issue? NO.

Congress is our City Hall for federal firefighters. We need to be current and active with Congress to make change. This latest experience has further convinced me that only we, the FWFSA, have without a doubt, the greatest opportunity to make significant change for federal wildland firefighters.

Please go to www.fwfsa.org for further information concerning HR 2814 and a detailed account of President Swartzlander's work in D.C.

It's your future.

09/30 Donna,
Thanks for the information on the t-shirt business. I really appreciate your help.

After a few weeks of looking and searching and reading, well, let me say, you deserve a huge round of applause. I seem to be able to learn as much here on your site, as I could on any of a dozen or more combined. Outstanding job. Real-world people with real-world ideas and experience. Not just canned, "research has shown....." stuff. I'm only just starting in the red-carded business, but have fought all kinds of fires for my department for years. Still, this organized, safety oriented, and well staffed business is all new to me. Your site is a God-send! More and better information than I've found anywhere. Please keep up the fine job you are doing.

No use in posting all of this. Just the thanks to Donna. And to you if you wish. Take care and stay safe.

Sincerely, Bob

09/30 Hey Ab,

Tell craig "Thanks" for all the info he gave for my quest to find our mystery bus driver! It seems like I should be able to come up with somehing with all those numbers!! I knew you could help! I'll get right on it and let you know what I find!! FirebabeNH#3

THANKS CRAIG from Firebabe NH#3! It's nice when the magic of the network works.
(Firebabe, e-mail me if you didn't get those phone numbers.) Ab.

09/30 Ab, crew, and readers.

An idea that's been bumblin around in my mind is to make a little add-on for Ab here to be a glossary of Wild Fire lingo. What do you think? If you like the idea, put a bug in Ab's ear and maybe your pup can bring you a second glossary!

Any how.. to answer your question Mr. Puller.
You will note that the fires, not the firefighters, are the ones going through rehab. This term, short hand for rehabilitation, is more than likely derived from the fire acronym 'BAER' which stands for Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation.

This action, much like treating a person for wounds, encompasses all the ecological actions undertaken to ensure that a minimal amount of damage to the soil and to survivng plant life remains from the trauma of a conflagration. Such actions include laying out rice straw or hay and may include transplanting small trees and shrubs to ensure that as little of the soil exposed in the fire's wake is swept away by its opposite, water, in the winter months. This also ensures that the land affected by the fire will be able to sustain life again, including fauna as well as the flora by providing the animals with a food source. Without this action severe erosion from rains and wind could take place in the sometimes barren wake of the fires.

Well, I continue to like to think I'm close...

As Ever,
"Ranger" Tiny, the R-6 Fire Pup

Nice response, Tiny, and "yes" to your suggestion. A wildlandfire glossary of terms would be useful. There are some good glossaries out there, but none that exactly matches the varied content of this board. Then perhaps new readers like Will Puller will not be so confused by our strange terms. Readers, want to send in URLs of glossaries that Tiny might consult as he begins to construct ours? Ab.

09/29 Firebabe NH#3: here are some avenues you might try to track down your mystery bus driver.
Good luck in your search!

Contact the Rocky Boy Agency (Chippewa Cree Tribe) fmo@cct.rockyboy.org. If you contact them, reference order number: ID-CWF-016 (C-8) or MT-RBA-092 (C-8). The bus # was: #12 - EX531. I believe this bus was assigned to the Rocky Boy #20 crew (C-8).

Let us know the results of your search.
- Craig

09/29 Dear Ab,

I read on the web that at all the fires in Montana that they are going through "Rehab". Is that any thing like the rehab my Uncle George went through a few years ago? I hope not cause it only lasted a few months. I would hate to see the fires in Montana burn all over again next summer.

Thanks, Will Puller.

09/29 bob,
on the teeshirt website, here you go:
dick enck screen printing
p.o. box 54
artois, ca. 95913
email: reneck@glenn-co.k12.ca.us
phone: 530-934-4748
i copied this off their website this morning.
have fun
09/29 Have gotten several messages regarding the Jack Ward Thomas statement. Here are two of them and a link to it. Very impressive. Ab.

If you have not seen or heard the statement which JWT presented to a congressional subcommittee on the future of the USFS the attached document is for you. It is certainly worth the few minutes of your time to read and ponder.... Its applicability to other land management agencies has been noted and is appropriate. --OR

Here is a speech Jack Ward Thomas gave the other day to the Congressional Commitee on Forest Health. A mandatory read!!!! --CV

Jack Ward Thomas' statement

09/29 Hey AB,

OK, here's the info on the Crooked fire ...It was August 3, The crooked fire was in Powell, Idaho...The IC for the fire was Dave Johnson, The operations chief was Ben Kizer/Mark Sigrist . We were assigned to division A and the division supt. was Karrie Stevens and the air tac. sup was Terry McCabe. The crew boss of Rocky Boy #20 was Lenno Henderson. We were New Hampshire #3, Crew boss Alan Smith/ Dean Young.

That particular day they had pulled one of our crew to be look-out so there was nineteen of us . We were dropped off to do mop-up of a burned out area to 100 ft in. About noon the humidity dropped, winds picked up and trees started torching below and to the side of us. We headed to the creek, and realized that was not a suitable saftey zone so we crossed the creek and climbed up the other side to the road. Upon reaching the road, the fire had spotted across the creek and was heading up towards us. We realized that the road would not be a good saftey zone, too much heavy feul on both sides. We headed down the road and the fire ran up at us, crossed over the road and we were basically running. We were in the orange glow of the smoke and could feel the heat of the fire at our backs.

We had left our tools behind. I actually don't remember what we did with them. Anyway I had my shelter open and had my gloves on so if I needed to deploy I would be ready. It was an uphill run and we really didn't know where we were running to. A couple of the guys ran up behind me and told me to keep running but they were unhooking my day pack and the Med pack I was carrying. All of a sudden we came around a bend in the road and there in front of us was this school bus with the back door open and the driver yelling for us to pile in...

We did and he drove us out of there to safety. People were really getting tired so I'm not sure how much longer we could have kept it up. We were pretty wiped out after we got off and I'm sure we said thank you but My husband, myself and my daughters would like to send a letter of thanks as well as some others here in NH.

So, if you can find him I would be so glad. The guy who was pulled for look-out that day really had a scare because the helicopter pilot saw the fire blow-up over us and he didn't see us come out. This driver apparently took it upon himself to back about two miles up this logging road to rescue us, and I thank God he did!!

Firebabe NH#3

PS There was alot of radio traffic about what was going on and I presume he heard of our sit. from the radio transmission.

Thanks for sharing. Nice job the busdriver did. Readers, anyone know who this hero might be. Send out some e-mails, make some calls, ask around. Ab.

09/29 Thanks for the poster info J-Bob. Sent e-mail to my friends with the archive address.

Firebabe, Do you know if the situation was investigated or submitted as a Safenet? It helps all of us if we have records of such events and can figure out how to avoid them in the future.

Those who are still out, stay safe.

09/29 Firebabe NH#3-- Another needle in a haystack... Can you provide some more info to narrow the busdriver search? With more info I'll check around.

Can you pin down the date? What complex if any did the Crooked Fire belong to? Near what town was it located? Who was the overhead team? Type I or Type II? I take it you're a member of the New Hampshire #3 Crew. Maybe you could put your head together with your friends and figure some of this out. A 3 mi sprint -- another reason why we must be physically fit. Aside from the info, I'm curious if you had any inkling of problems, how steep the terrain was, if you dropped tools when you ran, what it felt like, what you thought, and whether people lagged to help others along. Want to tell the story? Gawd, I sound like Mellie! Anyone else have any stories?

OK, pushed a curiosity button. I'm done.

09/28 Hey Ab,
We were out in Idaho in august on the Crooked fire. Anyway we got caught in a blow-up and did the run for life...for about three miles. The fire was right behind us and a few folks were aware of our predicament. Anyway a Native American bus driver from Rocky Boy #20 backed his bus up this logging road to rescue us and we would like to find him and give him a proper thank you!! If anyone knows where we can find him, I would love to know.
Thanks and stay safe!
Firebabe NH#3
09/28 Another logo on logo2, complements of RS. Thanks. Ab.
09/28 Here's some info on the pack test


09/28 Hey Dan,
Can't seem to get the address www.dickenck.com to work. all of my search engines say no such thing. Maybe if you could round up a phone number or something. Thanks for your help on this. By the way, glad you made it out of the Concow campaign in good shape.


09/28 Ab, here is the link to the Montana Fire Poster from the USFS web site. They archive the pages, but don't provide a link.



09/28 Two new Storrie fire photos are up on the Fire4 page. Thanks Sting, some fine photos. Ab.
09/28 Evening A.B. and all,

Back from assignment on the Concow fire and IM glad that we only had as few as 5 or 7 F/F injuries and 1 civilian death. It was a real Blow-up. The worst I have seen in my 19 yrs. With the fuel moistures and humidifies as low as they were, add in a 90 degree wind switch with 10 - 15 mph winds and you get what you get. This is the first time I have ever had to abandon a structure but, after I saw the area in the daylight I'M certain that is why no one else had stopped there on the way by. All that remains at this spot on Nelson Bar Road is the Chimney and it stands as a reminder of what a home without 30' clearance can end up as. We were in a drainage with the fire coming at us from 3 sides. When the outbuildings caught it drew the main fire into the House and by that time the our H2O was just about gone. Sadly it was time to Beat It ! Everyone on our Eng. crew is fine other that the nagging doubts that maybe there was something else that we could have done. MOC4546, I'M glad you Moms house made it through. Thanks to the Forest Ranch WT for your support. (My Floto-Pump might be slow, but it did the job.) My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Nor Cal Dan

This just fell out of the server. Was sent Sunday night. Ab.

09/28 AL,
I'll search for the link to the firefighter Montana poster and news story as I get a chance today. Wonder if the USFS News page story was archived... Maybe someone around here knows.

The Canadians are willing and the Bitterroot Valley welcoming. Our northern neighbors are learning new Pulaski skills.


09/28 MH,

For the Packtest info, contact your local Forest Service Ranger Station Fire Mangement Department or BLM office. They should have an excellent publication you can look at/copy.


09/28 Two photos coming sometime today from the Storrie Fire, PNF from Sting. Nice to have those photos come in. Readers, should we provide a box snailmail address where you could send photos and logos if you don't have scanning capabilities? For simplicity sake, we probably couldn't return the photos to you unless you included a return envelope with postage. Also, posting them would still have to be at our discression.


09/28 For asha, Woodings Verona Tool, P.O. Box 126, Verona, Pa. 15147. 1-800-289-9889. Fax 412-828-1145. That's a customer service number.
09/27 What happened to the Montana Fire Poster that was displayed on the FSNews site? I sent a few firefighters there and they've sent me e-mail that it disappeared! Did anyone bookmark any of those links? Whatsup? I hate it when they do this!
09/27 A CIIMT logo on logo2, complements of Mellie. She says send in yer favorite logos. Ab.
09/27 Does anyone know where that good article is on the Work Capacity Test? Looked at wildfirenews.com and couldn't find it. I'm a volunteer firefighter trying to get trained up and in shape for next season.
Thanks, MH
09/27 hi,
i've noticed that the new fss pulaskis aren't nearly the same quality as the old ones. i found an old one at my station that said "wooding-verona" on the side but haven't been able to find an address for them. if you have any info on this company or any others that make old school pulaskis please email me at this address.


09/26 Ab,

Here's the California training schedule. The full schedule is huge. There is a summary that is 7 pages. It's in PDF format.
Click here: California Training

This national fire training site may be the one that most people have been accessing.
Click here: National Wildland Fire Training


Thanks @. One clarification, we need the link to the powerpoint LCES. I noticed its URL changed once this summer and updated that, but they've hidden it someplace new. Ab.

09/26 We currently have a GS-462-6 supervisory seasonal engine position open at Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve (USNPS) in South Florida. Closes on this Friday the 29th of Sept. (sorry for the short notice). Position runs a 3 to 4 person station with type 6 engine and firefighting swamp buggies. We do a lot of Rx fire work, including aerial ignition. All of our fire personnel do a wide range of fire work, helitack one day, engine or hand crew work the next. And Florida is not a bad place to be in the winter either. Job announcement is on the OPM website at USA Jobs.
09/26 Hi Ab,

Been trying to get into the Training/Education, National Fire Training Information link on the training links page with no success. All I get is a National Park Service fire site. I got in alright earlier in the summer. Now where is the info.?. Appriciate any help getting it cleaned up.
Mom of an Idaho fire fighter helping him out.

I haven't been able to find it either. Readers, any info? Also still looking for the URL to link to powerpoint LCES. Ab.

09/26 Readers,

I asked Chris if he'd send in more info on the photos from Manitoba and here's his response plus another pic of flames and plume. Thanks Chris. Fine photos. We'll put up a big version of the first one for wallpaper. Ab.

All three photos were from the Granville Lake fire in north-central Manitoba. The fire occurred at the end of May in 1995. I'm on one of our provincial Backburn Teams in Manitoba (we have four) and took the pictures from the mixing site where we were conducting a burnout operation with the helitorch. The fire was on a large peninsula on Granville Lake. Behind the island on the left of the Granville photo was a narrow spot where the fire could have jumped to the mainland and could have eventually taken a run toward the community of Leaf Rapids. Suppression resources were limited, burning conditions were extreme, and it was too dangerous to put ground crews in. The decision was made to conduct a burnout to bring the fire to the water before it could jump on its own. The Granville photo is a picture of the burnout. The "Mixsite" and "Incoming" photos are taken from the mixing site. "Incoming" shows the ignition helicopter coming in with the helitorch for another drum of fuel. "Mixsite" shows the ignition helicopter ready to take off with the helitorch. (The narrow spot I mentioned can be seen in the background). The final fire size was about 18,300 hectares (about 45,000 acres). The burnout only accounted for fraction of it.

Here's another Granville photo2 I found.

See ya!

09/26 Great site. Found out about it from another firenut I met down in Montana this fall. Came down with a crew of Canadians to the Mussigbrod Complex and had a great time. Thought I'd share a couple pictures from Manitoba.

Granville Fire
Incoming and Mix Site

09/26 Mary can check out the fire shirts at the following web site, www.dickenck.com
Dick is a local here in Nor Cal and I have know and bought from him for years. You can find him and his mobile screen print trailers all over the west during fire season. We tease him that sometimes he gets to the fires before we do !
Nor Cal Dan
09/25 Here's some important and timely news on overtime legislation that affects many of those who worked on fire this summer and will in the future. A Senate Subcommittee meets Tuesday (today) to review the issues.

Overtime News:

It's very easy to let your representatives know what you want them to do -- we're telling ours to support better overtime pay for firefighters, of course. Here's where you do it for the House and Senate:

House: www.house.gov/writerep/
Enter your State and your zip code, follow the simple directions, and you can easily e-mail your representative with your view.

Senate: www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm
Scroll down to your state and click on your Senator's e-mail address. Remember to e-mail both.


09/25 Hi,

I'm a wildland fire fighter from Minnesota and I am looking for a place or vendor to buy some shirts from the Montana Fires. I was in Libby, Great Falls, Missoula, MT but was Demobed before I got a chance to get something for my collection. Any info would be appreciated.


09/25 We knew we were dealing with a class act two years ago. Congrat's to you Ab.
All of you not home yet, be safe.
09/25 Fire Call: A Wildland Firefighter Speaks

We wanted to let you know nationalgeographic.com has just produced a web feature about wildland firefighters -- specifically, stories from one veteran ground-pounder about his love for his job, the risks that are involved, and why he comes back year after year.

You'll hear his story in his own words, illustrated with photographs by Mark Thiessen, a redcarded National Geographic staff photographer. Mark has been following and photographing WFFs during his vacation time for many years - and this summer, he took along a tape recorder too.

Our hope was to give people who aren't firefighters (including the wives and husbands of WFFs) a sense of the job, the dangers, and the camaraderie. I'd be interested to know if you think we accomplished that goal. Thanks.

Jim Webb
(202) 775-6730

Thanks Jim and thanks to all at NG. It is gratifying to have a piece of our story told. After exploring it and your link to wildlandfire.com on Friday night, we had to take a few moments and celebrate. [clink] Thanks readers and posters. We'd be nothing without your fine insights, dialog, and photos. Ab.

09/25 Three very nice pictures of flamage and helos from Manitoba coming when I get time to post them today or tonight. Thanks Chris. Ab.
09/25 Read most of the letter content to AB. Looked over some of the pictures, links, and a few other sites. Enjoyed my journey of just about an hour. One question - how long do you leave the email on the board?

Thanks for starting such a website. Good work and pertinent info.


Welcome. The posts are not removed from the board, they simply stack from the bottom to the top of the month. At the end of each month they are archived but remain available for viewing. I added your initials to the end of your post. If you write here, it is easier if you have a moinker or initials or some other identifier so that people can respond to any thread you might start. If posters don't supply a moniker, Ab usually assigns some initials.

09/24 I'm still a bit confused on how one would order the Elk Bath picture from the Kodak Website. Is it necessary to save the file from an HTML reference to it on "They Said It"? (in what format?), then upload it each of us individually to Kodak? Or is it somehow available out there? I couldn't find it using the search engine on Kodak's website.

Yes, you save Elkbath-Big.php to your computer as Elkbath-Big.jpg and download it to Kodak.
Here's how in steps:
Click on Elkbath-Big at the top of theysaid. The image will appear on your screen as a .php file. Once it's there, position your cursor on the image and right click your mouse. Pull down to "save image as" and tell your computer where to save it. Remember where you put it. It should be saved as a .jpg. Go to the kodak site www.kodak.com/US/en/consumer/printService/
and click it open. Go to "Quick prints". Click. On the new page, choose the righthand option to upload the picture from "Your computer". Click. A window will open that has "browse" as an option. Navigate to your computer folder where you stored the picture and open it. In the box that says "files of type", select "all files" which will include the .jpg format. Then hit "upload". Follow the rest of the directions on the Kodak site. Enjoy. Ab.

09/24 Ab,

For the very well done National Geographic Online presentation on wildland firefighting go to this site: www.nationalgeographic.com/firecall . Be sure to have your sound turned on. When the presentation finishes click on the Scroll Down To Learn More button. There are six sites listed and one of those listed is www.wildlandfire.com. You have hit the big time Ab, and it is well deserved. This site is the best of the best. Congratulations.

Hunter '45

09/24 Hello Everyone,

OK, in my pursuit of acquiring a framable quality hard copy of the Elk Bath picture, I uploaded the large image to the Kodak site that Ab suggested and I ordered a glossy 8x10.


I got it in the mail yesterday and I have to say it looks pretty damn good. A little dark, but the resolution is good enough to warrant a frame. I'd give it a thumbs up. The 8x10 was about $12 with shipping, you can also order 5x7's. They were very quick with their shipping too, after placing the order it only took three days to get it in the mail.

It's been great keepin' up with everyone this season, I can't wait to be back in the action next year. If anyone is thinkin' about takin' a season off away from fire, I'd say think again. Sure, its nearing the end of the season and everyone is weary, tired of sharpening tools, organizing gear, cleaning the rigs, looking busy during down time, wondering if they should do it again next year. But take it from someone who tried to do something other than fire this year, it's really sucked sitting on the sidelines. Having weighed the pros and cons of the fire bureaucracy, I guess I have decided I am willing to put up with it. Life is too short to get a "real" job.


09/23 AB, The link to the National Geographic presentation is pretty good. But if you "scroll down to learn more" there is a link to Wildlandfire.com. I'm proud of ya, Abercrombie. Local boy makes good.
Later, Dave
09/23 Outstanding video Mark! Thanks for making something to help the "folks" understand a bit better, about the life that is "fire". I suspect there will be a plethora of this type of stuff soon, considering this extreme fire season, however, you have given it a true human face.
Thanks. -Bob
09/23 I'm a photographer who has been working on a photo project on wildland firefighters for the past 5 years. This year I had the opportunity to record an interview with a 52 year old veteran firefighter named Norbert Schuster, Squad Boss, Crew 3, Boise National Forest. He tells of his experiences to a Flash animation of my photographs. You might find it interesting.

It is on our web site now at:
I hope you all like it.

Mark Thiessen

Interesting, Mark, and thanks for the link. Ab.

09/23 Ab,
I took this this afternoon on an unnamed fire in east Texas. This crew is from Georgia, just came in this week. We appreciate all the help we can get. Thank's everyone.

GA dozer and crew

09/23 There's an update on the Harris Fire CO exposure issues on the USFS FIRE NEWS page.


09/23 Thanks for all the info on the Concow Fire. My friend is OK. Sorry for the death. No home or pet is worth dying over. Hope the engine captain and others who need it are getting CISD.

On a lighter note, I heard a good one from a bud who is just back from a remote (unnamed) fireline. He had to go into camp for some reason and a group of people were tightly clustered around the only laptop in the tent. They were all reading theysaid. "Hey, don't scroll up so fast..." "Let me see." "What does that one say?" Good chuckle.


09/23 Pulaski and Eric,

Would love to have a source for the CD with the "S" courses. Many of our guys just can't get enough time off from work to go to the academies and take the training. At least, this way they could get the high points, and then us certified guys could fill in the holes for them.

Please let me know. Thanks.

09/23 Another example of non enforcement. Wm. the outgoing sends his agent {Babbett} out to declare millions of acres of public land off limits to the public. in the name of Natl Parks, Monuments, Wild Areas, Prairie's etc in the Western States with zero funding for management or fire control. So who's gonna stop you from going onto that land, settleing in & making a camp fire to heat your water and food? Then when wildfire breaks out, no resources {& no roads} are available for many, many miles. Aint we got ourselves a great Guv'ment?


09/23 6.....
There is a huge difference between the Govt. being obligated and required to provide safety equipment. The majority of firefighters are not even covered by fair employment laws like the FLSA even though there are sections of that act that specifically deal with "agencies involved in fire suppression activities". Why? Because there is no way to enforce the law. It would be similar to asking you to hire 2 lawyers and instruct one to sue you and the other to defend you. Lawyers are practical people and after they had soaked you for as much as you could stand they would simply ask you which one of them you want to win. Unless an outside interest is willing to finance a civil suit (which would cost millions) for non enforcement of existing laws the USFS, BLM, BIA,etc. would be silly to "rock the boat". Can you imagine the immediate impact on career choices a manager would face upon even suggesting that the USFS spend an extra few million on footwear for employees each year. Get real! A friendly procurement officer may be willing to say that sort of thing to you but I bet he wouldn't repeat it in front of his manager. We are required to have good boots because the short term consequences of injuries to feet, ankles, etc. are not "deniable" and the costs would have to be borne by the employing agency..theoretically.

Look at the hazards that we all face when breathing in smoke or "excessive levels of CO" and the long term heath effects that have been documented by a plethora of studies. Did the fire suppression agencies respond by providing breathing apparatus? No, it was much more efficient (budgetwise) to simply tighten up the yearly cardio pulmonary test required to serve one more season. When a firefighter can no longer pass that test they are still several years away from being able to document it as a job related injury. Cost effectiveness is what it is all about...not laws and obligations. And I don't even want to start on Los Alamos and Hanford and the long term health effects on the health of those firefighters.


09/22 hheyyyy eric! whats your email addy? I would definitly be interested in the cd with the s coures you mentioned...I am mainly looking for 290.

..also, I checked the links page and the link to pacific wildfire didnt work (Im assuming that is your site)

..a tidbit for the boot allowance. We (state agency) do get a minimal boot allowance during each union contract period. It isnt much (would need to save for about 15 years to buy a top of the line boots), but its better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. I would think the career conditional folks should be able to work through the union to fight for a boot allowance (I believe you do get a uniform allowance right?) ..but for the seasonals..well...good luck & dont hold your breath.


09/22 Check the top of the USFS FIRE NEWS page. A gift for firefighters, and I don't mean MRE's, either. Every now and then, something cool DOES happen. !!


09/22 Shore Break,

I am not sure why you think you were exposed to anything worse than CO. A peat bog is simply a bunch of decomposing matter. You think that it might have something to harm you of another nature. Were you sick when you went home? What about all the people in northern santa barbara and southern san luis obispo counties that are still breathing that stuff. You think they want answers too? What do you expect to be told? The truth?

I was in Los Alamos, MN in May. I stayed on Nuclear Lab. property. You think the scientists were forthright with us there? All you can really do is fill out an exposure report, which you and your agency should be doing anytime you go to an incident like that. If you are in this business long enough you will develop problems because of the cumulative effects of the smoke, not one single incident. I suggest you have your department request an exposure report for your module, especially if you were in the group that was pulled off Division Y. You would want this signed by the I.C.


09/22 My engine worked two shifts on Division Yankee on the Harris fire near Vandenburg Air Force base. During that time we were completely enveloped in some really foul smelling smoke ( our engine still reeks ). The environmental folks took smoke and soil samples and told us the only thing we were exposed to was excessive levels of CO. I did not feel entirely reassured and elected to visit the Doctor. They took chest exrays and drew some blood. They found nothing wrong with me. I am sure that a lot of other people who have been exposed to that same smoke wondering exactly what they are breathing in. I am still suspicious about the toxicity of that "peat bog" smoke and I can only recommend that If you are the least bit concerned, you should have yourself checked out, or at the very least, get your exposure documented.

Shore Break

09/22 DT, thanks for the link to get Cold Missouri Waters. It sent shivers up my spine.

On a different note, something to consider. They government is obligated to provide for any safety equipment required to do a job, including wildland firefighting. Boots are considered safety equipment, as documented by the Forest Service Health and Safety code and other documents for other agencies. How can the government justify requiring the employees to purchase the most expensive item of safety equipment required? Talking with fire friendly procurement officers who have looked into the regulations, they have informed me that the government is obligated to provide boots to firefighters. With the projected increase in budgets anticipated, this might be a good time to take this on. If the government were to provide an annual $150 boot allowance this could resolve this issue by helping the firefighters and having the government meet its obligation.


09/21 Thanks for the post on "Cold Missouri Water". I haven't heard a song so hauntingly beautiful since "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" For those who haven't heard it there is a MP3 site, if you have a sound card www.soundmusic.com/keelaghan/index.phpl

This took me about 10 minutes to download with a 56K modem. It's 3506 K. Must say, got a little misty eye'd during the 4min 58sec ballad by James Kellaghan. Thanks. I needed that. Ab.

09/21 Maven

I believe that the TARMS report was flawed and the powers tossed it out! Sounds like you feel that Air Tactical can replace the Lead Planes? What that does is cut down on ONE airplane and puts 2 people not 1 in a more hazardous environment. If the ATGS stays high as they should then their risk is lower than buzzing around trying to do 2 jobs with one airplane. You ask about safety being compromised by having lead planes, I would ask you to visit the Air Tanker Board and see what the Tanker pilots think about your proposal.

Written Agenda's are not the problem, but personal agendas are a very real problem. The alternative is the "ASM Module" concept, which is IMHO a bogus proposal.


09/21 RE: Lead plane elimination

As both a firefighter and a pilot I simply cannot believe that lead planes will be removed...there are way too many reasons they are needed. To begin with, they are needed for accuracy...being lighter, faster, more maneuverable, and having more lift and HP/LB lead planes scout the drop sight and can do so before the "bomber" arrives on the scene. The communication between the two planes allows the bomber to set up their run from a distance and therefor not have to do last minute maneuvering (which is very difficult when loaded) thereby allowing a more efficient run and quicker turnaround. I simply cannot imagine a bomber having to do its' own recon...the fuel it uses and the slower turnaround times would eat up any savings achieved by the elimination of leads planes.

Even more important is the safety issue on the ground and in the air. On the ground having the lead plane come through right before the drop gives last minute warning to those on the ground that it is time to suck dirt or seek shelter. I have seen several injuries to firefighters who were hit by low level retardant drops and I am certain that eliminating this warning would result in many more than currently occur. In the air having the lead plane scout the runs before the bomber must slip thought is very important as downdrafts and updrafts are very common around fires especially in the mountains. This can cause two major problems for the bomber if they are unaware of them. The first and most obvious is that a heavily laden bomber simply does not have the lift and maneuverability to recover from an unexpected downdraft at low altitudes and having that lead plane flying the same "tube" of air right in front of it acts as a warning of such a downdraft. This helps keep bombers from running into the hillside...and any firefighters on it. Less obvious is the load factor on the airframe in a sudden updraft. Oddly a more heavily laden plane can take a higher force updraft without failing than one that has just dropped its' load of retardant. Again, having that leadplane flying the tube is an important warning that there may be an updraft which the bomber should be aware of and choose to go around or drop elsewhere.

As for the issue of congestion, I sincerely doubt that bomber pilots have been invited to the discussion...as they are pretty busy just making the drop with the help of the leadplane, who by the way is also looking out for and cueing bomber pilots of location and direction of other aircraft in the area. Taking the lead plane away will increase the pilots load mentally and make it even more likely that a collision will occur.

If it were not for all he other stupid moves I have seen in my career by fire managers (with the best of intentions) I would tend to believe this is a hoax.


09/21 I'm just getting a little r&r from the Concow fire. I'm on a Butte County Fire water tender. I was near where the Engineer got burned from trying to save the woman. She did refuse to leave her home. I had to set up the LZ for flight care for the engineer. I saw him walk from the ambulance to the copter. He had mainly 1st and a little 2nd degree burns to his face and back. Another engine crew from Butte had to deploy shelters earlier in the day. I believe they got overrun from a wind change. Also someone got hit in the head from a snag. As far as I know, all have been treated and released. Info from the 209 at 0600 on 9/21....8 inj 1 death 1834 acres 60% contained total people 1558. I know demob has started. I saw OES strike team, tenders and dozers lined up at demob. I'll be back there in the morning so more info to follow.

Vol Dave

09/21 To Mellie,

Here is the situation with the civilian death on the Concow Fire. This was a woman, in her 60's, who lived alone with her dog. Her home sat on the lower edge of a saddle with open fields of high grass around 3/4 of the house, barn and small outbuilding with a wooded area to the rear of the house. Around 1:00AM on Wednesday morning the fire was starting to spot across Pinkston Canyon Road and was being contained by engines and dozers. The wind shifted and the fire begain to spot across Concow Rd. from Pinkston Canyon Rd. to Nelson Bar Rd. Operations began recalling people and moving more engine and dozer Strike Teams from the Fire Camp in Chico back up to Concow. Forces were massed at the Staging Area and at Concow School (which was also being used as a Safety Zone). At around 1:20 AM the fire spotted across Concow Rd. and started making a fast run up an open slope at Concow Rd and Pinkston Canyon Rd. Strike Teams began forming up for Structure Protection Ops. all along Nelson Bar Rd. from Concow School down to Lunt Rd. The winds shifted direction and caused spotting ahead of the fire.

Butte County Fire Engine 71 (Richvale Sta.) was assigned to protect the structures on Stage Coach Lane. The woman's home had plenty of space but was not taken care of as far as defensible space in that vegetation was not cleared in critical areas. When the fire came up the woman was advised to leave, of which she refused. The Captain of Engine 71 tried to get her out of the house and to safety but she would not leave, to the point where they tried to physically get her to safety. She went back into the house to get her little dog or some kind of pet when the fire hit the house. The Engine 71's captain tried again to get her and stayed as long as he could before it got too bad, and narrowly escaped with burns to his hands and face by seeking shelter in the engine.

The house went up and she was still inside. Engines and dozers agumented the firefighting efforts to protect the structures and support the firefighters. Everything was done to help get that woman out but she refused to leave. Her home, barn, and two out buildings were destroyed. Altogether over a dozen structures have been lost on this fire so far, and ten firefighters have been injured. The captain was flown to Enloe Hospital in Chico for treatment of his injuries, which ended up being minor, according to crews and the newspaper, was released.

From 1:00AM up to around 2:00PM the fire situation was very fluid and everchanging. When the sun came up and the winds shifted again the fire began to move toward the town of Paradise, of which resources were prepositioned along Pentz-Magalia Rd. and some evacuations were taking place near Paradise (Paradise and Concow are separated by the west branch on Lake Oroville. When the second direction shift occured it moved toward Paradise and was moving up the Concow Creek drainage. Aircraft were pounding the fireline to keep it out of Concow Creek and possibly shifting directions again and coming back toward Concow School and around Jordan Hill Rd.

The resourses I saw included mostly CDF, a few OES Engine Strike Teams, US Forest Service engines from the Plumas, Tahoe, El Dorado, and I think the Lassen NFs, a few BLM overhead, and local government Strike Teams from Butte Co., Nevada Co., Placer Co., Glenn Co., Sacramento Co., Solano Co., Alameda Co., Tehema Co., Shasta Co., and others. There were a lot of Private Resourse Water Tenders and Dozers, but overall it was a CDF operation.

How do I know? I was protecting my mother's home up there. Her home came out with only a little damage to some ornamental brush. Defensible space is a worthy investment. I want to say thanks to the OES Engines from Sacramento County staffed by Sacramento County and American River FD firefighters who helped save my mom's house when the embers started coming down.
Thanks, guys.


09/21 For news on the civilian fatality and the Concow Fire, check here:
As far as finding out about resources requested for IA on that fire, NorthOps will know. Since the fire started in CDF jurisdiction, there should also be records for the request being made from Butte CDF. Plumas NF is closest, so they probably sent some engines. You could call any of those people and ask. As you well know, catching the fire within the first hour is critical under our current CA conditions.


09/21 Hi Ab, have enjoyed your site for some time and have a few thoughts.

First, Vinnie, you bring up two issues, 1) the elimination of lead planes and 2) kicking the aviators out of the F&A facilities in Boise. I'd like to hear more about aviators being kicked out, but want to share some thoughts on issues surrounding the lead planes now.

There is concern that the low level airspace over complex fires has gotten more and more congested and that this poses a safety risk. Although not lead plane or airtanker pilots, many firefighters who died this summer were part of our aerial forces. We have all seen aerial near misses of one sort or another.

If congestion is a valid safety issue, we should ask, "How do we reduce the congestion or better control it?" We could and should beef up aerial supervision. We clearly need enough ATGS for fires such as we had this summer. We didn't have them. But we should also ask hard questions like, "Are there any other ways to reduce aerial congestion without sacrificing the safety and function of current systems?" IMHO, lead planes are a part of the system that needs evaluation. Are they needed for targeting retardant drops? Do they contribute to safety of those drops? Is there some way that we can have the benefits of their targeting and safety functions without having to have another plane up there contributing to the congestion? Unless we are allowed to explore such questions, we will never come up with safer alternatives. It is clear that often a second pair of eyes is invaluable; but what about the alternative of having two pairs of eyes in the same aircraft, say an ATP and an ATGS?

This line of questioning is particularly timely in that pretty soon we're going to have to replace the aging fleet. We should figure out what kind of aircraft we will want in the future and can they be multipurpose?

Those people who are interested should take a look at the TARMS Report (begun in 1998, final revision in 2000). I'm checking to see if it's online.

For everyone's information, the poorly written e-mail memo (re agenda for the quarterly fire directors' meeting -that was read to me by a friend) made no direct statement that lead planes WILL be eliminated. It's clear that alternatives are being considered, however.

Fire Safety Maven

09/21 Ab, please post this.

I have been trying to find info on the woman civilian who died on the Concow Fire. There are no reports that I can find in the media as yet and there is no mention made on the sit report or at the CDF website.
Firescribe, you privy to anything?

In addition, will anyone who has any information on the resources used on IA please e-mail me at five_waters@hotmail.com or my other e-mail address?


09/20 Mellie

They are not planning on cutting lead planes, but want to ELIMINATE them altogether. "They" happens to be the person in charge of aviation for the USFS at the WO level. How about this! We build a building in Boise to house the Fire and Aviation staffs from 5 different agencies. Cool, now then because we have such a big support staff, lets kick the aviators out of the building. Matter of fact lets move them off the NIFC grounds altogether! You know we have to keep the admin clerks close so they can process or per diem.

Where do these people come from! It's like the story of the excess property guard that the feds build a whole staff around, and then lay off the guard for lack of funds!!!


09/20 Here is a little story about how U Guv'ment works: {speaking of eliminating the Lead Plane Program}

Once upon a time the government had a vast scrap yard in the middle of a desert. Congress said, "Someone may steal from this scrap yard at night." So they created a night watchman position, GS-4, and hired a person for the job.

Then Congress said, "How does the watchman do his job without instruction?"

So they created one (1) planning position and hired two (2) people, one (1) person to write the instructions, GS-12, and one (1) person to do time studies, GS-11.

Then Congress said, "How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly?"

So they created one (1) Q. C. position and hired two (2) people, one (1), GS-9, to do the studies, and one (1), GS-11, to write the reports.

Then Congress said, "How are these people going to get paid?"

So they created the following positions: one (1) time keeper, GS-09, and one (1) payroll officer, GS-11, and hired two (2) people.

Then Congress said, "Who will be accountable for all of these people?"

So they created one (1) administrative position and hired three (3) people: one (1) Admin. Officer, GM-13, one (1) Assistant Admin. Officer, GS-13, and one (1) Legal Secretary, GS-08.

Then Congress said, "We have had this command in operation for one year and we are $18,000 over budget. We must cutback overall cost."

So they eliminated one (1) position: one (1) night watchman, GS-4.


09/20 I read something written by "INFO" on the firefighter pay series on August 31. First I must say, I don't really care either way if they come up something other than the 0462 or not. If they (meaning OPM which is another gov. agency that controls those decisions) did and you were a benefactor, I don't really think you would complain. I will not if they so choose to do that. As for the other things you think you will not be able to do (i.e. snow ranger or rec tech)... who said you would not be able to do that stuff? Are managers telling you that? Are they manipulating your ignorance? If there is work, fire personnel will still have the opportunity to work. As for the comments about the people who work in southern california, you are way off. I am not sure who you think is a "lazy ass." I am sorry it took me so long to write by the way, I was too busy sitting on my lazy ass, oh no wait a minute... I was out fighting fire. Do not think those kind of people are not anywhere you want to look. The more places I go, outside of SoCal, the more lazy ass...not to mention backwards ass people I see. You should look in the mirror to see where you fit in. The complexity level of incidents is different in ANY given location. And hey, I cannot blame anyone for wanting to be a "municipal" as you put it... What's not to like...they pay more, you work all year, and get better benefits.


09/20 Ab,
The last few days as I have been reading your site I have seen a lot of discussion on the Super Puma helocopeter. With all the wonderful things they can do maybe with the promised extra money Mr. Clinton is going to give to the forestfire fighters, the Forest Service can buy more.

I was telling my friend from Newark about the helocoper and that some have firefighters that slide down ropes from the heolcoper to fight fires. He said when he was in the army they called thoes guys a "dope on a rope". Now, it seems to me that is not a nice thing to say, why would any one who risks thier life to fight a forest fire be called a dope? How about a hero on a rope?

Again, thank you for your time.

Will Puller

09/20 MKP,
I know of no specific site that deals with the firefighter retirement issue especially if you are fighting a determination as to your eligibility. I can tell you that the job series has nothing to do with whether or not you can or cannot be covered. It comes down to what is in the individual job description(s) you have operated under. If you are not currently approved rest assured you face a long uphill battle unless you can present a very strong case right off the bat. Unfortunately, the folks you have to present that case to could care less whether or not you are successful and in most cases will be of little or no help.

The whole thing comes down to a few basic issues you will have to prove, one were you in approved positions, second did you make your case prior to the cutoff date (83 or 89 I can't remember) and third did you make a direct transition from primary to secondary. You might make a case on a position with afadavits from former supervisors if it was not specifically covered, and you may be able to fight the transition issue if all falls into place. If you were FERS you need the 3 years as primary. Again, the series you were or are in has no bearing on whether or not you will be approved for coverage.

If you or anyone else are serious about wanting to pursue a potential case or want to dispute a ruling on your coverage the law firm of Mauk and Burgoyne in Boise are the experts in the field and have handled countless cases including mine. They do (or least they used to) take a look at your stuff and tell you whether or not it looks good for no charge. You will quickly find out if you kept enough records throughout your career to make a case. If you elect to go with it costs will likely run to 2-4 grand. Rumor is they have never lost one, but I cannot substantiate that. Good luck to you. If I can provide any other answers holler. I have been down this road and it is a long one, convoluted, with lots of twists and turns. And, nothing will happen quickly, you are looking at a couple years probably from the time you start unless you have a slam dunk.


09/20 Lo ab. Finally made it back to the house. Got the trucks parked, and am sitting down to pay some bills.

Whats up mellie

Lurker had a blast working with your guys in Nevada. You run a tight ship, and it shows.

WP, Thought i Saw your name on an IAP in Montana? tried to find you, but they said that team transitioned the day before.

WP's Daughter, I have never Chased fire; Dont have to, I usually have two-three outstanding orders as it is. You have me confused with another western WA contractor. Call me and i'll fill you in. I do my best to run a clean show. ask any of the teams i have worked with, read our evaluations, hell-ask my employees. As far as telling my story, i was answering questions asked by email.

For all those looking for the S -130, 190, 131, 230, 290 courses on power point. I have them on disk. Send an SASE and what you want and ill burn you a copy. The whole thing takes up about three fourths of a disk - 480MB.

Id like to thank all the agencies that used us, and made this the best year of my career.
WInnemucca BLM, Battle Mountain BLM, Ely BLM, Elko BLM, Eureka BLM, Montana DNRC, ODF, WADNR, Salmon Challis NF, Colville Agency, Freemont NF, Texas FS. I am sure I have forgotten a few, so i apologize.

later all, and be safe.

Pacific Wildfire

Also if anyone has Wildland services number in Reno I would appreciate it.

09/20 I am doing an agency profile for my Criminal Justice class and I am looking for some information on Arson Investigation. Any info would be helpful. If anyone could tell me of websites that I could check out too I would appreciate it.



09/20 FYI,
The BLM Director's report to the Senateand the need for support of the President's Plan...

Dispatch Dude

09/20 Info on the fire NE of Oroville CA and the burnover of a CDF engine.
09/20 Soccerchick702,
The song is called "Cold Missouri Waters" by James Keelaghan on a CD titled "Cry Cry Cry". It's a great song, I cry every time I listen to it!
09/19 MOC's right ON with his points about siphoning off fire money to other stuff. On the one hand, in defense of the line officer types who do this (and it hurts my teeth to say this) it's a natural human tendency: HERE COMES THE CASH COW, LET'S GET HER! It's like the sheepmen in Idaho who shrug when you ask them about shooting cougars on sight -- hey, if you waltzed lamb chops through MY living room, I'd probably try to grab one, too. It ain't the cougars' fault.

But what's to stop the historic peeling off of fire funds by these other opportunists? An order from Clinton? From Clinton? Another budgeting/fiscal change by the USFS? (shudder) C'mon, you WO types, tell us what it would take to hook up an IV from the checkbook to the fire folks in the field. You tell us how it could be done, you can betcherasses we'll get behind it. Most of us don't understand enough about the legalities and budget process to have valid opinions here, but we can help if you tell us how. We're all ears.

== R1 FIREBOY ==

09/19 I was wondering if anybody knows the name of the artist and title of a song about the 1949 Mann Gulch forest fire in Montana. (Dodge and crew)


09/19 Sting, thanks for shedding some light on the real events at the Storrie Fire. Just goes to show that people often criticize situations with only a few of the actual facts. Perception is reality for most folks! My forest is in a similar situation - employees from a cooperating agency criticizing and throwing around accusations with only minimal information to base their perceptions on (I won't bore you with all of the details). Very little truth to their version of the story, but I guess that's what one does to counteract poor decision making locally and in general cover your ass (as well as that of the agency you work for).

As for Sting's post on 9/15 regarding S.T.O.P., we had opportunity to have a Type 1 ship with module on our forest this year. The biggest problem we had was finding a place to land the ship on the forest due to the rugged terrain. We often used the ship for bucket work, but left the firefighters at the helibase with nothing to do. An unfortunate situation. Never the less, we appreciated the resource as a whole. The crew was excellent to work with. If the situation allows, we would welcome them back to Region 1.

Sign me....
Ranger's Wife

09/19 What's happening this Saturday? Some of our House of Representatives go to Missoula! I hope they get the real scoop and it's not just a photo op!

Committee on Resources, Subcommittee on Forests & Forest Health

More later--

09/19 Here's another lovely page of lovely fire photos.



09/19 Ab and all... There has been a lot of talk lately about the President's $1.6 billion budget proposal for wildland fire. The Forest Service recently submitted their DRAFT agency response to the President's September 8th Report. That draft document gives a good idea of what the Forest Service is proposing for the 2001 fire season. Check this out:

1) FULL MEL (most efficient level) funding for Preparedness. So, take this year's ACTUAL funding (74% of MEL) $359,840,000 and compare it to next year's proposed funding (100% of MEL) $607,890,000. This results in:

  • An INCREASE in the number of firefighters from 7,700 to 10,500.
  • An INCREASE in the number of Fire Engines from just under 800 to almost 1200.
  • An INCREASE in the number of Fire Prevention modules from 300+ to 500+.

2) Hotshot crews, airtankers, National Type II (efficiency) Helicopters, and Smokejumpers will remain the same. Although, there is some discussion about adding hotshot crews that would be funded by fuels management and other funding sources.

3) An ADDITIONAL $17,000,000 for hiring 500 new career employees each year for the next three years. (In addition, I understand, that most Regions in the Forest Service are looking at maintaining a 60% career fire management workforce. This will require hiring 4,000 NEW career firefighters for the 2001 fire season.)

Where are we going to get all these people? AND who's going to train them? All federal, state and local fire agencies are losing their skilled fire workforce due to retirement.

Now let's look at Fuels Management.

In FY-2000, the Forest Service was allocated $70,000,000. The proposed FY-2001 is $170,000,000. That's $100,000,000 more money than the Forest Service got in FY-2000!

So, how is this work going to get done? This is a classic case of "be careful what you ask for..."

Of course, there is no discussion about the continued pay inequities for federal wildland firefighters. Nor is there any discussion about incentives to encourage non-fire people to participate in supporting large fires.

Remember that I'm only talking about the Forest Service's agency response. There is so much more to this picture than I can talk about here. There are other aspects to the wildland fire management program that need to be addressed.

I thought this tidbit of information should be enough to stimulate a lively discussion here.


09/19 This is a Reply to Congress and President Clinton regarding the proposed $1.6 Billion for Fire Protection from Wildland Fires.

To Members of Congress and President Clinton:

As a Federal Firefighter who does both wildland and structural fire protection I applaud the proposals being made for additional funding to our wildland firefighting forces to help prevent devastating forest fires, to better combat these fires, and protect property in the interface. But do you really plan to follow through with these promises?

Every time additional funds are added to a budget slated for Fire Programs something happens that shifts the money away from the intended purpose. Instead of going to fund more crews, more equipment, fuel reduction plans, prevention programs, and advanced training the money suprisingly gets moved to "other" programs that are not fire related such as spotted owl searches, watering troughs for deer, and other "feel good but non-productive" schemes. If the funding was not shifted away like this then the officials in the Regional or Forest/Resource Area/Park Headquarters office will reduce the Fire Management budget enough so the additional funding coming in will "supplement" the Fire Budget.

For example: A Forest has $2.6 million set aside for Fire, and Fire will recieve an additional $1.2 million from the aid package. The Forest Superintendant has other priorities he feels are more important and will take $1.2 million away from Fire's existing budget and use it elsewhere. The additional incoming money has now replaced or "supplemented" the Fire Budget funds taken by the Superintendant to where it normally is, with the exception that a lot more responsibility has been placed on Fire because the Forest accepted the additional funding and the requirements for it. For the rest of MOC's message click here.

09/19 Sad to report that a 47 year old AD firefighter taking the WCT pack test experienced a heart attack and died a few days later. The test was being administered on the Monongahela NF in West Virginia. Initial feedback is that the firefighter had passed a pre-testing physical.

Firefighting is a dangerous occupation. Even our training and testing is not without hazard.

Prayers for the loved ones.
Old Fire Guy

09/19 Is there a fed or non-fed site that talks about specific things like a lot of us now non or ex-GS-462 fire people interested in arguing for fire-fighter retirement?? I have met plenty of folks who are doing this! Me ex-jumper, tired of x13 yrs GS-6, came back to GS-9 non-462 job, but just as much, or more primary fire experience.. Appreciate any help!
Thanks! mkp
09/19 Thanks FOBSIF, Danny. Got 'em. Hey all of you back from the summer firelines, at least for a little bit, welcome back! Mellie
09/19 To Dave, the Puma you are referring to was the LP ship. We were dispatched through the Tahoe where we were on IA standby, originally ordered for the Deadwood fire. When we arrived on scene at the Storrie fire, they were still working tankers and we were told to orbit to the east until the FW were done, after getting the green light to come in the pilots wanted to get a good look at the canyon, if anyone has ever been to the Feather River canyon it is laced with wires going every which way, across, parallel, up and downhill. Now I ask, is 18 minutes from being on scene, orbiting for the FW, getting a good look at a dangerous, unfamiliar canyon and finally finding a safe place to set down too long? I dont think so, with 2 pilots flying this ship we are looking at about 40 years minimum flying experience between them, and they were very concerned with the canyon. They did what they thought was safe and they also wanted to position the fly crew as close to the fire as possible to go to work. There was one LZ right next to the fire but it was full of vehicles and people so we set down just west of Rogers Flat. The crew got off and the bucket went on and they went to work, The crew walked 2 miles to the edge of the fire and picked up a few slops below the highway. You are right, there was nothing 10 buckets of water from the ship would have done to stop this thing because the fire behavior when we got there was already pretty erratic and after hearing about the folks who got clobbered by rocks cutting line up the west side, heck that line was abandoned by dark and the rest is history.

To Danny, The Super Puma can be configured for rappel, The plan is for next year with a regular 20 person FS rappel flycrew. The 214 ST is based at Kernville on the Sequoia, last word I heard is it has no belly hook, hence no bucket so it is just a troop hauler. Sting

09/18 Mellie, SDTDC might be San Dimas Technical Development Center {WO, Forest Service}. Hope this helps. If you know anyone in the serv, you might try to get a walk through some time. Really amazing what those folks are doing there. Also try the Riverside Fire Lab. Real interesting what they do.


09/18 Ab, I found the following several years ago, it is a preseason training program that I highly reccommend. WP

From: The Oklahoma Forester
"Fire Training"
by J. Howard Parman

For the first time in six years I didn't go on any wildfires. I was ready though. I trained and prepared for this fire season better than any previous. I was in the best shape of my life.

How did I do it? The first thing I did was lose twenty pounds. I did that by giving up the things I loved; pizza, potatoes of all kinds, pasta, beef, pork, lamb, chili, corn, crackers, white bread, fried anything, chips, cookies and ice cream. I ate so much poultry and seafood I felt like the Chicken of the Sea. But no sacrifice would be too great, I was going to be in the best shape of my fire fighting career.

Then I worked on my endurance. I have two sons under 5 years old at home so I decided to do everything they did. When they ran,.I ran. When they walked, I walked. When they slept, I slept. I lasted three days. After that all I could do was sleep, no matter what they were doing.

But I got my stamina up. My weight was down, my strength increased but I felt I was ignoring an important point. I was missing a key element. Then while reading "The Goat Roper News" it slapped me between the eyes like the free end of a pigging string. I was omitting mental preparation.

I needed a program that toughened myself up mentally. Something that would make me immune to hurry up and wait, the ridiculous decisions by no-nothing overhead and USFS-way-is-the-only-way attitude. I had to devise my own program since no one had ever thought of such a thing.

So I developed the Get Mentally Tough for Fire Fitness Program or GMTFFP. If successful I could market it and be some sort of Yuppie guru consultant making big bucks. As a consultant, I would stroke my chin, nod sagely whenever someone asked me a question and never give them a straight answer. But first I had to try the program on myself. I figured a week would be plenty. Click here for the rest of the story.

09/18 Thank you Sting for the data on the S.T.O.P. Module program. BTW, where does the 214 call home?

Hunter or whoever else might know, I have some questions about the Kern County helo:
Where is it stationed?
How many members in the helitack crew?
Is the ship configured for air rescue when not in service for wildland fires?
Does it have an L.A. tank or will it be fitted w/snorkle?
When did the Cnty get this bird & is this its 1st fire season?

Thanks, Danny

09/18 Does anyone know these California unit designators?
SDTDC, POW, LVN, OCO (Might be San Dimas something, Poway FD, La Verne FD, Orange Co something down near Mission Viejo)
They're not in the nwcg list.
Thanks in advance, Mellie
09/18 Just checked out the NIFC website. There's a questionaire on the Federal Wildland Fire Policy Review that has a deadline of October 15th. They're looking for input from the field.

ca firefighter

Ab sez this is a chance to share our fire expertise. The questionnaire is here:

If you need or want to refresh your memory on the Federal Wildland Fire Policy Review, you can find it here:

09/18 Hey there. I'm a writer working on a book with a firefighter hero. Would of any of you be interested in helping me with my research by sharing personal experiences and/or answering questions? Are there any reference materials you could recommend?

Thanks so much for your consideration!

Pat White, Chicago

09/18 Thanks sting for the info on the Super Pumas. Has there been any talk about rigging these things for rappel?

OK, everyone, I have sent off an order for an 8x10 glossy of the Elk Bath picture from the Kodak web site that Ab posted. I will let everyone know what the quality is like when I get it. That Kodak site is pretty cool. And I really like the idea of turning some of those other great pictures into wallpaper quality size (bigger the better!!)

Carry on everyone, remember it is still only September. Be careful out there!!


09/17 Everyone --

Look at this! They're going to CUT lead planes! How will the airtankers SAFELY get into steep and narrow northern California valleys to target their loads without the help of lead planes??? Think of the Feather River area. Think of the Salmon-Trinity Alps! Post your protest here and/or on the Airtanker board. We loose too many of our brothers and sisters of the sky as it is! www.airtanker.com/wwwboard/messages/1320.phpl


09/17 AB,

The way I understand it one of these Pumas made a sort of initial attack on the Storrie fire on the Plumas last month and instead of setting down and getting the crew out and putting the bucket on and doing some water drops, as he was asked to do by air attack and/or the IC. He just flew around boring holes in the sky. Not that it would have mattered much to a fire in the Feather River canyon, but then again.....


09/17 Firepup and Danny,

There are 2 AS332 Super Pumas, an S-61 and a Bell 214ST on board in the STOP program. The Super Puma is based at the Santa Barbara Air Attack Base. It is currently configured to carry 16 souls in back with all gear internal, the 660 gallon Bambi bucket is stored in the tail compartment. The way we have it set is that 13 are on the fly crew ( firefighters ) with 3 helitack on board to handle the bucket and do any support work if needed ( helispot staffing, manifesting etc.), also the ship is double crew ( 2 pilots). We had to take out 2 seats to be able to load all tools, gear, saws, sigg boxes inside the crew compartment. The remainder of the daily contingent of firefighters and helicopter support travel by vehicle to an IA or off forest fire in a convoy of helitender, fuel truck, mechanics and chase rig. So far we have done 8 initial attack fires and one project fire ( Storrie, PNF) since August 16th. The best showing so far for IA was a Santa Barbara Co. fire where the ship put out 15 firefighters within 20 minutes of being dispatched and dropped 50,000 gallons of water in 3 fuel cycles. ( It also helps when a lake is right next to the fire!) The Super Puma is a workhorse and travels at about 120 knots cruising speed.


09/17 We worked a large burn today here in east Tx with 6 VFD's and plows from TFS. Bad Interface exposures but none lost. Paid Department that had jurisdiction only has 1 Brush Engine so they had to call us. My reason for sending you this that the Helitack that was doing drops is out of Ketchican AK also the pilot was from CA. So if you're missing him, we appreciate his help. If anyone knows the pilot tell him thanks. He made a close quarters drop on one of our brush rigs avoiding a possible blowup. They were almost where they shouldn't have been.I didn't find out about it until later.

Stay safe,

09/17 AB & All

Well fire season must be over. R3 is in the process of demobing their shot crews. That must mean no more fires this year. I understand the 6 month rule but enforcing it in this fire season. Where is common sense? Forget aboput Colorado and that R3 really hasn't had any monsoons to knock the fire danger down. Perhaps if we need shots out this way we can ask CDF for their inmate crews. No wonder the government has such a poor reputation. Well perhaps the snow will come and give us some rest. Wouldn't bet on it this year!


09/17 Engine pic from the Burns Interagency Fire Zone (BIFZ) (E-615) posted on Engines2 page. Ab.
09/17 AB,
This is just a response to a couple of things.  I have been skimming the 
webpage quite a bit lately, as I am sitting in a dispatch office on 
assignment, and I know my father is an extensive reader and writer to your 
First, WP (that's my dad, he's pretty cool), should know that the combi-tool 
is ACTUALLY, less than what he said... $40.77 in the NWCG Catalog.  And he 
SHOULD have one, I'm pretty sure one was sent to him.  And yes I am being a 
*&^%head, like father like daughter.
The other thing is, I was reading through some of the archives and noticed 
that Eric from Pacific Wildfire has explained and told his burnover story a 
few too many times.  One thing to say to that... that's what happens when 
you go fire chasing w/o a resource order.
Thanks for you time.
WP's Dsptchdaughter

Not sure what happened to Eric can be so easily explained, but I get your point.  Ab.

09/17 Ab,

It was my pleasure to work with a lot of fire folks from around the country this summer on the
fires in Idaho.  As a R-5 retirey I took great pleasure in meeting the folks who work for the
State and Federal resources agencies.  A special group was the AD's from Minnesota.  Having
read on your pages about their struggle with the DNR for appointments and benefits I have a
better understanding of some of the individuals.  They did a great job in the West.  These are
highly motivated people who deserve better.  I knew they were in trouble when they think
that FS employees have a good deal.  Of course I always compare the benefits with the FS vs.
what CDF employees make.  By the way FS employees from Minnesota are great also.  Yes
the CDF folks were nice and did a good job, they just got paid more for doing the job.

The folks from Idaho, Texas, the Carolina's, and the Southwest all did their job. 

The joke of the summer is the 15 day limit.  It is expensive and removes talent from the fire
fighting resource pool.  One of the reasons the program fails is the continued downsizing of
the resource agencies.  In 1962 my engine foreman told me that empty seats on a fire truck
do not put out fires.   I wonder what he would have said about all the empty seats this


09/16 Firescribe, way to go on tracking down the Elk Bath
picture guy!!!  Now the question is, are you, Mr.
McColgan, willing to share your negative?  It is one
of the best fire pics that I have seen.  I sure would
be willing to fork over some cash to have an 8x10 of
it on my wall.  If you are interested and have time
this winter to get a few 8x10's made let me know.  You
can find me at firepup21@yahoo.com.

Sting, I would be interested in hearing how those
ships and crews are working out.  I am assuming they
are Puma's?  Last year on the north Kirk at the
helibase we had one through the entire fire and it
sure saved our ass a few times when pulling crews off
the line near pumpkin time.  We were all wondering if
it would be put into use again this year on a more
permanent basis, since it seemed to be a very
functional type of helicopter. I sure enjoyed working
with them and I know the helibase manager did too.
Fill us in on some more details, like where they have
been used this year and how the crew organization is
working etc.  I am curious to know in what situations
they have been deployed?


See my note a couple messages down referring to the Missoulian.com's article on Mr. McColgan.  Sadly enough, he probably won't be able oblige any requests for further photo requests, BUT. . .it appears to me, although I have yet to use this service, you can send in a digital photo to the following url and they will make an actual print photograph of your digital image: http://www.kodak.com/US/en/consumer/printService/

You let the rest of us know how it turns out.  Send 'em the BIG'un from the link at the top of this page.

09/16 Sting,
Reference the LP's S.T.O.P. module.  When the ship is sent on IA, is it configured w/27 souls on board or does one part of the module travel by ground. 
Where is the module's home station?

Thanking you in advanve

Danny McLean

09/16 The link to the Missoulian.com news article reported here yesterday on "elkbath" has been archived, I found it here now: Missoulan Archives in case anyone missed it.  If it changes again, just do a search on the Missoulan.com web site for McColgan.

A copy of the photo also now resides here www.nifc.gov/gallery with a place of honor on the main page.  Unfortunately, even when you click on the thumbnail, it only expands to 357 x 284, hardly large enough to provide this picture justice or to use as wall paper.

In our ever present quest to bring you the best, we originally archived it on the Fire Photo4 page at 800x494, but for those of you who use 1024x768 rez. or larger, I've obtained the pic at 1756x1084.  This file is in .jpg format and is about 167k large which will download rather quickly.  To make it your Windows wallpaper (windows desktop background) you will need to convert it into .bmp format and stick it in your windows folder.  The easiest way to do this if you use Netscape or Internet Explorer, is this. First, click here, to download the pic, then after it is done downloading, right click and either "Save as Wallpaper" (Netscape) or "Set as Wallpaper (Internet Explorer).  It will instantly replace your current wallpaper with the elkbath photo.  One small note of warning, the resulting .bmp, either Netscape Wallpaper.bmp or Internet Explorer Wallpapaer.bmp, which will be in your Windows folder will be around 5.5mb, although this shouldn't be an issue with Fry's selling 45Gig hard drives for $159.  Feel free to rename the photo to anything you want after you are done here.  I personally put a 1 in front of all my wallpaper image file names so when I want to review them using "My Computer" or the file manager (Windows Explorer), they are all together at the top of the directory.

However you chose to do it, I guarantee it makes a damn fine background.  And I tip my hardhat to Mr. John McColgan!

I've been considering for some time adding a new photo page devoted to wallpaper size photos of the best pics we have on the site.  Drop us a line and let us know if you are interested and which photos on the site you consider wallpaper quality.

Enjoy, Ab.

09/16 DT, as several readers commented the tool you are referring to could be one of several "out there." I would bet though by your description it is the "combi-tool." The combi-tool is nothing more than the standard military entrenching tool with a long handle on it. The tool can be configured to be used as a shovel, pick, hoe or chopping/cutting tool (the side of the shovel has a cutting edge). The tool is available through the GSA catalog for about $45.00 to $55.00. 

Of course what you may have seen was a "highbred" tool cobbled up by a Hot Shot crew some where. I have seen the most unusual tools carried by crews from around the country. In most cases they were "developed" to meet certain conditions found in the part of the country where the crew was stationed and work well there. Standard fire tools; shovel, Adz eye/hazel hoe and pulaski work anywhere in the world. 

Some of the specialized tools used in parts of the world just won't work every where. An example is the leaf blower used in the Midwest and parts of the county where leaf-litter is the main fuel. A leaf blower just will not work out west where the wood debris and slash is 20-30 tons to the acre and higher. Another example is the Mcloud tool or the Council tool, works well in pine litter and light fuels with little or no duff but is not much good with heaver fuels and slash. The council tool is an example of a tool created by a crew needing a tool to do a certain job in a certain area. It was nothing more than a 24" piece of hay mower blade with a handle attached. All goes to show that necessity it the mother of invention. 


09/15 AB: First off I have the L.C.E.S. power point saved to my hard drive. Maybe we can find the link. If not i'll send it to you and let you work your magic with the computer keys. Hope all is well with you and yours. Been a very interesting summer. One fire I was on we had Divs pulled in the middle of the day for demob and that was'nt an uncommon practice! Anyway let me know if this will help you. be safe

About the LCES in pp, have a copy now. thanks to all responders -- esp to Hotfingers and RR. I'll send the copy to those who want it now and look further for the place to link to. Ab.

09/15 About the mystery tool, I think you are talking about the rinehart or the chinkadero, maybe even the hazel hoe, but I bet, shovel looking but bent like a hoe with a short handle it has got to be the rinehart. to answer what it is used for it is an earth mover placed in tool order right behind the palaskis, but it can be placed anywhere in the order (depends on what kind of dirt you are digging in.) it,s a good tool and used right it can speed up the line a lot. 


09/15 The tool referred to is the combi-tool. Half Shovel and half Hoe( really more like a pick). It is a tool that with a twist of the base of the tool can be moved to a shovel only. One edge (can not remember which side) has a slightly serrated edge for minimal cutting of vegetation. 
09/15 The mystery photographer of the Elk Bath Photo has been tracked down. He's John McColgan, FBAN on Joe Stam's Type 1 Alaska IIMT. He took the photo on August 6, 2000 at the East fork of the Bitterroot River where it crosses under Hwy 93 near Sula MT. Read his story here:


09/15 I took this in 1988 on the Fayette Lake fire. Bridger-Teton NF in the Jim Bridger wilderness. From RDC.

Nice photo. Put it on the Fire4 page. Ab.

09/15 Hi Ab, 

Is everybody aware of the S.T.O.P. (Standard Category Type One Project) that Region 5 has in place now? It is a program to supplement current initial attack forces in California with crew-carrying heavy helicopters. As of now there are 4 in place, stationed on the Shasta-T, Stanislaus, Sequoia and Los Padres. Each has a type II flight crew (up to 20 persons) and a full 7 person helitack support crew. This is phase one and the plan is for these to go to exclusive use, full service contracts. I am involved in the Los Padres crew and I just wanted to get some feedback from you all on the viability of this and see if you have come across any of these modules this year. These are not intended to replace current Type II & III modules but to supplement. 

Take care and be safe, 


THANKYOU SO MUCH for the information and thought fullness you put into your email. I'm a student back from the fire season, who is concerned about a couple of individuals-- as is my crew. 
Again, I really appreciate the info. I'm back in a flatland state so information is pretty scarce, good thing for the internet. 

Best Wishes, CK

09/14 Does anyone know where the LCES in Powerpoint format went? It was at www.nv.blm.gov and I followed and updated its move once for the PCPrograms links page, but now it's moved again or disappeared with no forwarding link. Ab. 
09/15 Hey Firewolf...If OT is OT what about AD OT? The official line is that it is "taken into consideration" when AD rates are set. This is a mathematical impossibility. Even if it were not impossible to do so...it would work out that when they are most needed they are paid less "imaginary OT" then on the years when they are not. 


09/15 Ab, 

I've been enjoying your site and the discussion. I'm a Southern Indiana Vol. Fireman and while we have our share of wildland/brush fires, it's hard to imagine a "campaign fire", but it makes for great reading. 

I have a couple of questions: I have seen in several pictures a hand tool that I have never heard descirbed. It looks like cross between a hoe and a small shovel, bent at an angle. What is it called and how is it used? 

Also, several places I've read stories that would lead the reader to beleive that there is good Money being made on the fire lines. As a person who has worked as a GS-856 for DOD in every grade from 4 to 11, I well know the GS System. GS-4/5 isn't that great of pay. Something less than $10/hr. I do know that in the Strucural Firefighter Grade, they do magic with Overtime and Hazard Pay and turn GS-4 Base pay into on the order of $40K in gross pay. Is that what is happening in the Wildland Fire Fighter series? 

Washington, IN

Readers, any answers? Ab.

09/15 Ab,

In Regard to Mr. Puller's comment on clothing sizes and the term 'Overhead'. 

Overhead, as most seasoned Firefighters, (and yes, even this pup) have come to know are the managers, the generals if you will of the game of chess played between the conflagrations and the nomex-clad heores of the western summers. 

Now then, as for sizes.. perhaps I should refer back to the humor a bit earlier involving nicknames of the different types of modus operandi that the fires are delt with, you've heard the terms Ground Pounders, rotor Heads and Engine Slugs. While it has been in my readings that these three groups typically razz each other about their chosen method, it is with due regard that the pawns of this chessgame call thier generals with the same affection. Small, Medium, Large, and Overhead could be meaning to range from anything from body shape to mental ego. But then again, it is with all due humor and the tounge frimly in cheek. I strongly suggest you find out what context it is meant in. 

Also, it has been in my brief observances that no one person knows all there is to know about wildfire. I myself know just a little, more about the acronym and the lingo than about the Dragon himself.

'Ranger' Tiny, the R-6 Fire Pup 

P.S. also note, Mr. Puller (and other curious readers) that my title is in qoutes, meaning that it is honorary. Those who wish to know more can email me at rangertiny@hotmail.com, and I'll be glad to tell ya'll bout my first wildfire and why I'm called 'Ranger'.

Tiny, you have a lot of the fire terms down pat. No one has explained "Camp Tootsie" to Mr Puller... Ab.

09/14 Firefighters,

Some info is out on Overtime Pay from Gary Wilson, the WO Pay and Attendance and Leave Manager. He says that the first checks will be processed as Special Acts Awards at the end of this month or the first of October. 

  • The President's authorization only covers this fire season. The DOI and FS will cover fire OT work only form March 1,2000 until the end of the season and is not retroactive to 10/01/99 as first said. 
  • Overtime work under severity authorization and charged to a S-code will not get the bonus.
  • Payment is limited to $10,000 because it is processed as an award. People entitled to more than $10,000 will get the difference in subsequent bonus pay processing that will be made as necessary.
  • The pay will be charged to a p code, one p code for the entire nation, regardless of what fire the person worked on.
  • The total compensation limit is still in effect, but is only expected to affect those in the highest bracket, that is GS15.
A letter will be coming shortly, they say, and things may still change. 

PS. In my opinion, those who work under severity authorization should also receive equal OT compensation. OT is OT.

09/14 URLs from Firescribe:

NIFC home page for CK; check this daily for the Salmon Report 

FS News
Stories about CA fires, MT fire rehab and other subjects 

A report on why Los Alamos burned. Explanatory pictures and text. This should be mandatory reading for people living on the interface. Cohen has some interesting ideas. 

Managing the Impact of Wildfires - A Report to the President, 9/8/00 
Some key points:

  1. Continue to make all necessary firefighting resources available.
  2. Restore landscapes and rebuild communities.
  3. Invest in projects to reduce fire risk.
  4. Work directly with communities.
  5. Be accountable.
The report recommends increases in fire preparedness, cooperative programs with local communities, fuels treatment, and burned area restoration. That 1.6 billion won't last long.


09/14 Ab,
The more I read your site the more I become interested in forest fire fighting and the people who work on the fires. I have a friend from Newark that says he knows all about forest fire fighting, as once when he was in the army he got to fight a fire somewhere out west. Anyway, we was talking about the special clothes that you firefighter wear and he said they come in four sizes: Small, Medium, Large and Overhead. I have never heard of a size called "overhead" what does this mean? Thank you for your time. 

Will Puller

09/14 CK-- You were right about part of what you said. The Twelve Mile Fire (about 250 acres) was started by a bottlerocket on July 5 by an acquaintance of the two people who were burned over, not by a family member. Upon arrival at the hospital, it was found that the woman and man had less extensive burns that initially thought. They are still being treated, but I think their prognosis is fairly good. I'll send some info to Ab to forward to you. The Salmon Report will be out soon. It is currently being reviewed by all involved. Keep an eye on the NIFC Home page for it. Please share this information and help your teammates get closure on the incident. It's hard to come upon a scene, work hard and then leave, not knowing what happened. Getting valid information and talking about it is good. (I'm glad we found that needle in the haystack; now let's see if you can get it back in the sewing kit!) 

Wanted to get the correct info out. Will post my usual interesting URLs soon... Stay tuned.


I never had too much info., but here is a brief outline of what our crew knew. A male and female took a dozer up to the fire that was started by a family member. I think it was started by firecrackers. They were not firefighters but owned a home near the fire. i believe the male suffered 50% burns and the female 70%, and they were flown to the Salt Lake City burn Centre. It was a difficult situation for the crew to deal with. We were digging line and we could hear the dozer Idling about 500 ft. above us. The burn over happened before we arrived on the fire. I heard the outcome for the lady was not good. It was difficult to go through that situation and then leave the area after our 14 days and not receive any more information. 


09/14 ok, here is my 2 cents worth on the 14 day assignment topic. 

From what I understand part of the reason for the reduction to 14 days was in an effort to get more of the non-full time fire folks out of the office to help fill overhead positions. For that reason it does make sense (although Im not sure it helped, as there are a pile of other reasons why folks dont want to commit) 

It seems to me that part of the problem is that "they" seem to want it one way or the other. I see no reason why the full time fire folks (shots, engines, helitac etc) should be limited to a 14 day assignment except in cases of fatigue. yet I can see how only signing up for a 14 day assignment would help get some other folks out there in support positions. Most of these people have other non-fire jobs at home and the longer they are away the bigger the pile is when they get back. 

Our agency had around 16 engines to various places in the west and I know for a fact that at least two of the staffing modules sent out committed to 3 wks from the get go and did stay the entire 3 weeks. 

Seems to me the simple answer (and I know Im probably missing a few points here) is regular fire modules (engines, shots, IMT's etc) 3 week commitment. For all others 2 week minimum and 3 wk maximum which is agreed upon when the call comes or what that person has signed up for on "the list". ...nahhh...too simple 


09/14 AB

You hit the target squarely in the bulls eye with your reply to concerned citizen. Having lived in South Dakota a few years back I can vouch for that state's tendency to elect some rather strange individuals to high office. Janklow is certainly one of them. It appears that his staff is composed of yes men. At least the General should be investigated by the military and if warranted court martialled! I am sure if our federal folks had any guts Janklow himself could be prosecuted, but its an election year! If concerned citizen has never been on line, he or she should keep their mouth shut. We have lost too many brave souls because of the greed of developers and the pliable mores of those on zoning councils. Next time let mr Janklow fight his own fire. After he's killed off a bunch of SD natives perhaps they will understand why professionals run the fire wars. Arrogance indeed! 

Hopefully this year's war is winding down, although there is always Southern California and it seems in 2000, Texas. 

Take care of yourself and your crewmates, 


09/13 Dear Amazed,

Fire emergencies always bring out the local Boss Hogg sniffin for votes.
I have seen it in Washington State, Colorado, and quite a few points in between.
Watch out situation #19: Local Politicians not in contact with the incident organization and armed with a mandate.
You can expect this sort of behavior from Billy Bobs who love the Federal Government as much as they love having a root canal done. Over the years I have seen some pretty arrogant federals come barging into a sleeply little town somewhere, scare the goats, disrupt the banjo music and generally make fools of themselves in the process.
I understand that it is important to be sensitive to the custom and culture of the places that we are called to respond to, however when it comes to fireline safety--the fire community cannot tollerate politicians without redcards poopin in the punchbowl.
So the next time Boss Hoggs' cousin Elmer shows up with the horse tough chained to the flatbed, direct him to the staging area manager for further directions and thank him for his support. Don't sacrifice the standards that so many have died for in the name of political expediency.

Capt. Jim Bob Plumb Bob
Hurleyville VFD

09/13 Ab,

I couldn't agree more about the lack of usefulness in finger pointing and name calling among those responsible for controlling wildfires whether they are Federal, State, or private. We are all brothers and sisters and should treat each other with the respect we ALL deserve for putting our lives, health, personal relationships, etc. on the line. In any profession there are incompetents whose grasp exceeds their reach. We shouldn't allow anyone to use these individuals foibles to paint any segment of our family with a broad brush unchallenged. I applaud and support Ab for stepping up and setting some facts straight. 

However, I have been involved with trying to change things via legislative action for quite a few years now...and cannot agree that the voters are responsible for the (in)actions of the folks they elect to office. Click here to read the rest of Dana's piece. 

We do this to keep the size of the board to a reasonable download length. Ab. 

09/13 More photos -- From DCR, photo of the Jasper SD fire column taken from Newcastle, WY on 8/26 at about 1900hrs. Two helicopter photos of the Kern Co. Fire Department Helicopter Program taken by Hunter summer, 2000 during the dedication ceremony. Thanks photographers. Ab. 
09/13 Dear Concerned Citizen, 

With all due respect, I think Amazed was right on-target with his comments. The situation in South Dakota was dire. Firefighters were unnecessarily put at risk and over a long period of time. The problem existed from the top of state government down. Janklow was completely out of line and your officials did not stop him; if anything, they supported him. Unfortunately, some high officials who may be good, reasonable people and may have spoken out against him also ended up appearing incompetent by association. For those people, I am sorry. 

I feel that Amazed was fairly explicit in his finger pointing (except for one sentence in the third paragraph). He implicated Bill Janklow, the State Forester, the General in charge of the National Guard and one high level state employee who was planning a backfire without the ICT on the fire. Put yourself in Amazed's place, as many of us were this summer in South Dakota. We come from various places around the US, from state, town, city, and county organizations, from USFS, BLM, NPS, BIA, and other federal agencies TO HELP. We come TO HELP. We get to SD and find certain "officials" putting firefighters in harm's way. The national firefighting policy is rigorous. Safety standards are high. They are based on the loss of many lives over a number of decades. Attitude toward safety is not arrogance. Safety is and must be our first priority. Our occupation is extremely high risk even when all precautions are taken to guard against mistakes. Some of us die every year, even when we don't have stupid politicians doing stupid things -- and even when officials who might council restraint either cannot or do not. 

Unfortunately, Amazed did make one general derrogatory statement about high level state fire people, but consider his frustration. When he comments that they are ignorant about wildfire, I think he's referring to fire behavior and safety on the fireline, not the historical wildfire management policy. That policy may have added to the heat of fires this summer, but did not create fire. However, if we all agree to fight fire safely with a view to its behavior, fire need not cause so many deaths. 

I'm sorry that you feel some of your friends, family, statesmen and women were verbally slandered in one sentence Amazed wrote. We felt like some of ours had a gun held to our heads for some months. 

A Concerned Groundpounder 

PS. In my book being voted OUT of office is being impeached. During a summer such as this, in a situation in which firefighers are at risk NOW, there is not time to vote someone out of office. 

To read Amazed's letter, go all the way down to the first post of the month. Ab. 

09/13 Concerned Citizen, 

While I don't have personal knowledge of the fires in South Dakota, I have talked to many who've fought the fires across Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming during this year's variation of the fire season. I've recently listened to several stories of Type I and Type II teams arriving at large uncontained fires where hundreds of personnel and resources were already actively involved in suppression activities. Those already on the fires weren't worried about equipment inspections, time keepers, sack lunches, porty-pottys or cared who was in charge. 

They were concerned with saving their and their neighbor's properties, or even their towns. Volunteers, city, county, and state agencies along with private contractors, loggers, ranchers and others combined to do the best they knew how at a time when there was little organizational structure to provide any experienced guidance. 

I personally applaud these home town heroes. Each and every one of them who were willing to get off their butts, risk themselves and their equipment as they fought to save themselves and their neighbors during some never-before-seen, or at least recorded, explosive fire activity. 

I also applaud the fire teams who've sacrificed so much of their time and health this year as they continue to make themselves available to respond to various Regions as each one tries to cope with their fire seasons. These people are also heroes; without them there would continue to be chaos. I ain't forgetting the groundpounders, slugs, rotorheads, & flyboys & girls; without them there wouldn't be any teams. But we all know that and this is a different subject. 

What I don't like to see, or take much pride in publishing here, are posts from those who have limited perspectives and the uninformed or stereotypical conclusions they deduce based on their ignorance. 

Amazed made a mistake by stating, "the high level state fire people are arrogant, demanding, ignorant about wildfire, and extremely uncooperative". You retaliate by stating, "It has been my experience that it is the federal personnel which are arrogant, demanding, and uncooperative". I say enough of this. Further experience or exploration of the facts, on both your sides, may, hopefully, gain you a broader and wiser perspective. 

One more thing I would like to address to A Concerned Citizen is your reference to the USFS where you stated, "After all look at what a great job they have done so far this summer, the culmination of decades of intelligent forest and wildfire management". 

First of all, before I forget, Type I and II teams are not solely composed of USFS agency personnel. I think you would be greatly surprised on the various city, county, state, and various federal agencies represented on these teams. 

Now, the fire team who arrived in your area certainly had very little input on where your local government decided to allow people to build their houses and how they planned to protect them from fire. As I recently listened to an area command team provide an overview to an arriving Type I team, I was struck by the aggressive message that the team was NOT there to suppress or try and contain the fire, but rather to ensure the protection of lives and property in the paths of the fires. Who allowed all these communities to expand into such undefendable, dangerous, fire prone areas? Who benefitted from these ill-advised decisions? 

What fire team arriving in a new area has had any input to the amount of logging done in the areas that supposedly now suffer from decades of forest management? Hundreds of communities and most of the United States have benefited for "decades" from all this "mismanagement", as they gladly accepted and spent the timber receipts earmarked for their towns, schools, counties, and the price of cheap lumber to build their homes. Your city councils, county officers, and elected government officials actively promoted and encouraged the cut-and-run harvest of your forest which now decides to rid itself of the buildup. 

The US Forest Service does not create its own policy. Congress mandates how the USFS will "care for the land". If you dislike how your forests have been managed, I suggest you direct your displeasure to the appropriate source. The people in your area have voted to send people to Washington to represent your interests. Whether the electee listens to you or to big business in your area, you are responsible. It's YOUR fault that there is a buildup of forest litter and there is a lack of initial attack forces to suppress the fires needing suppressing. Take your issues to your elected leaders now, while the smoke is still visible. 


09/13 I would like to respond to the message written by AMAZED. While I agree with many aspects of this letter I would like to make a few brief comments. I agree that Janklow is a loose cannon and has likely done irreparable damage to the State of South Dakota’s reputation in certain circles. Anyone who has any knowledge of the goings on with Jasper Fire know that the governor was way out of line in his so-called management of a fire that was beyond his control. However, I do take issue with several points made by AMAZED. When the letter talks of “high level state fire people are arrogant, demanding, ignorant about wildfire, and extremely uncooperative” I must make some corrections. There are many state employees who have as least as much knowledge of wildfire as federal employees working on the same fire. In fact, several high level state fire people were operating within the Incident Management System and did as good as job as any federal employee. To lump hard working and knowledgeable state employees with the likes of the governor and his ilk is just plain wrong. My biggest problem with the above statement, which obviously has come from a federal employee, is that of the pot calling the kettle black. It has been my experience that it is the federal personnel which are arrogant, demanding, and uncooperative. I will not go so far as to say that they are ignorant about wildfire, but I can say without hesitation that federal employees have big egos and even bigger attitudes. After this summers spate of wildfires I find it humorous that AMAZED would have the audacity to claim state employees are ignorant of wildfire considering that it is the management of the federal lands that has been, at least, a major factor in this summers conflagrations. Perhaps AMAZED should take a look at him/herself in the mirror. It seems pretty clear that federal firefighters have inflated egos and big opinions of themselves. This is clear from the tone of the letter. Just throw ‘Interagency’ out of firefighting terminology and leave it up to the Forest Service and other federal agencies to go it alone. After all look at what a great job they have done so far this summer, the culmination of decades of intelligent forest and wildfire management. Congratulations. 


A Concerned Citizen 

P.S. Note to AMAZED, the governor is a lame duck and, therefore, does not need to be voted out of office. I hope for the sake of AMAZED that this is not indicative of the accuracy of other statements made in the letter (but we have already gone over this, have we not?)

09/12 As a fomer USFS member,now retired and working in the private sector, I could stay back and look at the 14 day rule being imposed this summer. It is not working! 
  • Crews and overhead just get going when their time is up.
  • Regions were counting travel times in the 14.
  • It had to cost a small fortune for transportation.
  • Lost production time at the shift changes.
  • Nobody liked it.
Whoever thought up this one should take a second look with a vote from the firefighters themselves, including the Incident Commanders. 


09/12 Ab, 

I am sending you some pictures taken on the Thompson Flat Complex in Montana over the past month. To keep the file size down I will send these pictures in three parts. The first picture is fire related, the second block is aircraft related and the third block is of a unique piece of apparatus. I zipped the blocks so as not to jam up your server. 

The first picture is of the blowup on Division M. I don't have many fire pictures because every day I would delete pics from my disk so I would have room for the next days pics. 

The Helo block was of November Golf and Alpha Golf (Type 1 Canadian aircraft) dropping retardant around a large spot fire outside the control line in top of the ridge in Division O. I also have a picture of 453 CC (Type 2 helo) dropping retardant on a large spot fire in Division O. 

The apparatus pics are of a Skidgion (Skidder Engine). It has a 550 gallon water tank, a 350 PSI high pressure pump, as well a low pressure pump with drafting capability. I ran across it being built up at a welding shop in Superior Mt while doing structure protection triaging. I was impressed with the detail and quality of workmanship. Being from Southern CA, I have not run across a Skidgion before so it caught my eye. Later when they were completed, the owner transported it to the fire. It was never used on this fire, however. 

Hunter '45

Thanks Hunter. Posted the pics in Fire4, Helicopters3, and Equipment2, respectively. Ab.

09/12 CK, Do you have any more info on the burnover -- I presume it wasn't firefighters since you include (public)? Did you hear if there were deaths or serious injuries or not so serious injuries or is this what you're trying to find out? It's hard to be a firefighter, feel some connection with people and then get rotated out, not knowing the outcome... Unfinished business that can prey on the mind and add stress. The only thing I can think of is a NWCG site called 1999 Safety Gram (PDF, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
that reports all incidents from the preceeding year. I don't think that report includes incidents in which the public were injured or died. Hey you Boise lurkers, please chime in here if you know how to find this information. It may take a check of old news articles. If I have time, I'll look. (Also at this site, Map and Compass for Firefighters is an excellent cirriculum for orienteering. Nice to see it online. Ab, we should add it to the training links.) 

Everyone, Here's something new on fire potential for the fall from NIFC:
Click on the link at the bottom for a narrative.


09/12 Cone knocking, hmmmm. I've been tempted to get some newbie to aim a hose down there once or twice! Under reduced pressure of course! Ever try seran wrap on the seats? When I was younger we did all kinds of pranks. Heard there used to be an image of a prank that the hotshots made up---posted in photos. Anyone know where that one went? How about a long tail of flagging tape on the DIV SUPs bumper? I know we're all about business, but we gotta have some humor for stress relief!
09/11 Speaking of porta-potties, what is the best tool for "cone knocking?" Remember, NEVER AT NIGHT WITHOUT A LIGHT! 
09/11 Don't you all think this is a good ol' Clinton legacy thing & that the ground will never see much more than about $.05 / buck if it ever comes about to begin with? Plus, the federal agencies couldn't begin to implement such a program (1.6 BILLION) due to all sorts of legal/enviornmental constraints even if they wanted too! 
Are we going to sucked into the next pres election? hope not!

Ab, keep up this page----one of the few things going in the fire world that makes any sense!


09/11 Mellie, you're completely right about the money getting to the ground. This is called "budget virga"


09/10 Hello Gang, 

I sent an email to Dateline about obtaining videos of the Storm King segment and about going a little deeper into the way the "fire system" works (ie seasonals, pay, benefits etc.) The more requests they get for the same type of story the better, so if you are interested in seeing more national coverage on wildland firefighters send Dateline a story suggestion at the following address. 

Whether we like it or not, the media can give us a boost when it comes to informing the uninformed general public. This is the first season that I have had people who would normally never ask me questions about fire actually get quite interested when a news story is aired. 

If you have a specific story suggestion please send it to: 

Dateline NBC
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112 

Also, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions: 

How do I order a transcript?
TRANSCRIPTS: Transcripts for NBC News Programs are available for purchase through the Burrell Transcript Service by calling 1-800-777-TEXT. 

How do I order a video?
VIDEO TAPES: Only selected segments of our news magazines are available on VHS cassette. For information call: 1-800-420-2626. 


PS. I love having this forum for discussion, Thanks Ab. Mellie, I am with you as far as what my home page looks like!! 

Thanks firepup21. Useful info. Mellie, filter this out to your folks. Ab.

09/09 How do you like this? On 9/9, the USFS Fire News and others reported that Clinton has recommended increasing overall spending for wildland fire programs to $2.8 billion, an increase of nearly $1.6 billion or $1,600,000,000. He thinks this might help fire? Well, let me tell you, it'll only help if it gets to the fireground! Last year 19 million dollars was added to the R5 fire budget and all we got out of that was ONE lousy additional engine! If this new money goes the way of those last big federal BUCKS, the nation should get a whopping big 84 additional engines out of the additional money!!!! Big effing deal (pardon my language, AB)! President Clinton, please make sure the money isn't raked off at all levels of the Forest Service, tossed to timber, tossed to contractors. This country deserves more than a mere 84 additional engines for fire next year! Those of you with WO in your e-mail addresses, watch out. If you allow the rake-off to happen, you too will be held accountable by the public and the face of the fire force may change permanently. 

Wally Herger and Diane Feinstein -- check into it! What was the amount of the increased money for the fire budget last year? How was it used? Where did the fire dollars go? Fat lot of good it did us this summer! Do we want a repeat? We NEED a Fleecing of America or a Dateline segment or both!

In addition to more engines than that, California and other states could use some money to build more handcrews to increase initial attack capability. How about 20 additional crews for CA -- 400 firefighters that could work to reduce fuels in the winter and be available on their forests to fight fire in the summer? We have been caught short this year. As it is, R5 is being laughed at because CDF is having to support us bigtime on IA. CDF and our other cooperators rightfully question whether we're carrying our share of the load. 

We could also use some of the money to employ younger people, like Tiny, who are too young for the fireline (say 16-18) but who could drive and provide camp support. This diverse group of guys and gals could work inexpensively on the fire's periphery, learn the ropes, and develop the motivation to make it through the rigorous firefighter training. They could provide the next generation of support for wildland fire, being mentored in from an early age. City fire stations cultivate such young people and end up with knowledgeable, dedicated, valuable employees. Why aren't we? 

My message is this: The money doesn't mean much unless it gets to the ground! The money may seem to be there, and it could be, but it's not filtering down! As for the sad old statement that fire has to pay its way, I say, "IT HAS AND IT IS!" One engine, 16 million dollars? How much more than its fair share must it pay? 

I tell you, if the money doesn't start getting to the firefighting level, the rumbling for a federal wildland fire service will get louder and louder. Much as my blood runs FS green, I'll help promote it! 

Mellie (on a rant, having discovered the bold!)

09/10 Lo AB, Mellie, CAPT H, Tiny, and all others 

Thanks all for the responses. We are still kickin ass out here. Engine 38, 41 and 44 have been out for 127 days now, half of that double shifted!!! LOVING the 2000 season! 

I am sitting in the Townsend Bowling alley, in Townsend MT. Been here for three weeks. Just transitioned teams Looks like A great bunch of folks here. 

You wouldnt believe the Local hire stuff they call an engine. Makes me cringe. NO red cards, No gear, No insurance, No nothing. 

They have assigned me an engine on with a 12V electric sprayer pump for a pump. 1 (one) Gallon per minute at 60psi? WOW!!! You can gravity feed more water than that!!! he was assigned to me on Initial Attack no less! 

AB, lovin your site! 

No end in sight for the 2000 season. Missing my girls, and have a ton of bills overdue! Mellie, Thanks for the Email and the call. Meant a lot. 

Finally got all of the damage fixed on E38. Did all the major stuff in one day, been working on all of the little stuff ever since the burnover.

Got some incredible video in Digital format; Ill email a small segment to AB maybe he could post. 

Later all and be SAFE!!!!!! Monitor all channels, IT SAVED OUR LIVES 

Pacific Wildfire

09/10 I'm just back from my fire season in Idaho and I have not been able to check out the site since May. This might be like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but I'm trying to get an update on two individuals (public) that were burned over on a fire I was on. It was called the 12 mile fire and was just south of Salmon, ID. I believe the incident happened around July 1. As the summer went along, my thoughts and those of the crew I worked on were with the individuals. I appreciate any information that will be passed along.


09/10 Ab, 

In response to Firepup21's request; GIS Technical Specialists (GISP) and GPS Technical Specialists (GPSP) may be ordered as single resources through geographic area coordination centers. The folks who are qualified for these positions work for NPS, BLM, USFS and various state and county departments. 

In California you can place an order for a GIS mapping team from the CA Office of Emergency Services and you'll get two fully qualified GISP's, a trainee and all the hardware, map data, plotters etc. There are also specialized mobile units called Situation Analysis Mapping units that can be driven to the site and are fully self contained with plotters, computers, mapping software, generators etc. All you have to do is staff them. 

Usually the GIS folks remain in camp and produce all those beautifully detailed briefing maps, fire progression maps, IAP maps, rehab maps and various other products used in the incident. The GPS specialists fly around the fire perimeter or hike the dozer lines and collect the data... sort of like a digital Field Observer. I happen to use Tactical Mapping System because of it's simplicity and the ability to create a shapefile that the GIS Specialists use in Arcview. 

We recently taught a one week training course in Boise titled "Field Applications of GPS for Wildland Fire Management". You can download all the lesson plans, software, PowerPoint presentations and view the streaming video lectures taught in the course from: http://www.nifc.nps.gov/gps/

Information about the training of GIS Technical Specialists may be obtained from: 

Tom Patterson

Thanks, Tom. I didn't format the ftp for clicking on it because you must have an ftp program to download it and know how to use it. So, if you know how and want to, cut and paste the ftp URL into the location box at the top of your page. Ab. 

09/10 Hi all!
For what it's worth, I saw the Dateline special last night, and was very impressed. It was not like something you'd expect to come from a major network news magazine. In fact, I'd like to get a copy from Dateline to use for training or whatever (I have poor TV reception), but I haven't had any luck with their website yet today. Anyone have any ideas?? I'll keep looking. Content-wise, it basically followed Maclean's book, with interviews from him and two of the firefighters at the Storm King fire. It was very tastefully done, in my opinion, and did a very good job of laying out the factors that led to disaster in an understandable presentation for the public. It's unfortunate that it took six years to get out in this format, but I'm glad to see something. The most disappointing thing, however, was that there was no mention of the fatalities and injuries this fire season. I was really hoping they would do some sort of tribute or mention at the end of the show, but there was nothing (maybe I missed it in the beginning?). 

I'm glad to see this kind of thing, and maybe the news networks will keep on doing it. What was the idea someone had about showing the seasonal situation, the fire preparedness situation, etc?? Okay, here's my contribution. The more fire-related stuff that makes these news shows, the more that fire issues make the media's agenda. Media research shows that the media's agenda generally leads (by a correlation of 70% or so most of the time) the public's agenda. The public's agenda, as we know, is or should be (we'd like to think) tied to politics. It's an election year. Tying together issues like firefighter safety, reduced IA capabilities, budget cuts, and the federal seasonal firefighter situation (low pay, no benefits, etc) along with increasing urban interface and fuel buildups (why isn't the urban interface the subject of national discussion like fuel buildups are? Easy to point the finger at the FS, but not at ourselves, huh?) would make a great couple of news magazine shows, in my mind. Wish I had the guts to put a bug in some network's ear. 

Speaking of which, check out Clinton's radio address for $1.6 billion for fire protection and damages... it's at the cnn.com site. Also, watch out for next week's Newsweek (Sept 11) with a profile on Arrowhead Hotshots and maybe some other fire stuff (a CA T1 team?). Thanks for the link to the Missoulian site--definitely great graphics. 

--Fire monitor (still watching)

09/09 AB 

The Elk Bath picture has to be one of the best. The biggest I could get on good paper was 5x7. Maybe the picture person will will come forward. Thanks for posting it. 

Things in Southern Idaho have really slowed down since the Labor Day rain and cool weather. What a relief, it took a big strain or stress off. But now it is starting to warm up again. We will still have more fires, but not of the intensity of the summer. 

Just for your information your site is a MUST everyday. The varity of things that are talked about run the gamet. The outhouse talk this last week was great. 


09/09 -- Update on the North Carolina Huey crash on the USFS FIRE NEWS page. 


09/09 I checked on the medical evacs and the dates on the two incidents were different. One with the separated shoulder occurred on Sept 4, while the life-threatening accident to the FS woman occurred on Sept 6. 

To the noname writer: A little distressed and cynical are we these days? Attribute the differences to politics without checking dates? Perhaps you should chill today with a beer and tomorrow get yourself out on the fireline pronto. Anyway, we here at theysaid are happy that the injured FS woman's condition has been downgraded from critical to serious and wish her speedy recovery. Good job medivackers! Ab.

09/09 Hey Ab and all, 

I think I would vote the Elk Bath Picture one of the best I have ever seen. I'd love to see that thing blown up to about 8x10 or larger and framed on my wall. So if the photographer is lurking, make yourself known, it is a fantastic shot! 

Was the Dateline segment worthwhile? I was out on an Rx burn here in NC and forgot to set my VCR. Any thoughts?

Also, does anyone know where IM teams get their Tactical mapping GIS folks from? Are these district FS/BLM folks? If anyone has any info on fire/GIS stuff I'd love to hear about it. 

There is/was a missing helicopter in the Virginia mountains. It got lost in some fog while ferrying to a spot to be put on display for schoolkids. Last news report said Gaurd helicopters were searching with IR equipment. 


If anyone wants me to resize the Elk Bath pic for wallpaper on a larger conputer, just let me know. FYI, 98% of readers of theysaid operate at a screen resolution of 800x600, or laptop size (1% have larger). In contrast, 23% of those reading ALL wildlandfire.com pages operate on a larger format. When visiting sites for the fire sites competition, perhaps one criterion for evaluation that you should consider is whether the page fits on your screen. I think all the excellent sites in the competition do. I'll repost those URLs later today in case you have more time to brouse on the weekend. (Yeah, right.) Ab.

09/09 AB,

A few posts ago, I requested a definition of what a "engine slug" was, Ranger Tiny was gracious enough to take time to answer my question and I thank him for that. Now, I have seen a new term and don't know what it means. Could someone be so kind as to tell me what a "Camp Tootsie" is? I assume it is a job at a forest fire camp.

Thank you. 
Will Puller.

09/09 Hey love the site. 
Its my first time in, but its great.
Now for the real reason i found it: 

I am a member of a SMALL town department that is REALLY on a low budget. We are in need of gear (new or used). We are looking for departments or businesses that might be interested in donating or discounting gear to us. We hate to ask for hand outs, but times are tuff in our small town. Any help or information you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you sincerely, Frank Rice member of the Buncombe Illinois Fire Department. 

This is a request done solely on my own doings and the town of Buncombe Illinois is not in any way responsible.

Again thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to give. 

09/09 Dear Ab and all, 

I put in 12 seasons with the feds before going to work full time for California Dept of Forestry and Fire. There is a lot of debate about how to change the fed firefighter program. I think it is high time they gave out decent wages and benefits when you put your tail on the line. Retirement sneaks up on you pretty quick and years of ground pounding take a pretty heavy toll. While my agency may not pay the seasonals well, we do give a chance to earn state retirement and they get health benefits. 

When I worked for BLM, one of our AFMO's figured it was actually cheaper for the Feds to keep us on year round, switching us to parttime resource work when the season closed, than paying for our unemployment claims. Maybe it still makes too much sense. 

To LJ (09/04/00): 

The observations about safety problems and qualifications should not be taken lightly. My agency does not use the "red card" system. I know someone who was offered a safety officer assignment and had the good sense to turn it down. He had no prior experience or training in the position. The person filling the orders must have figured he would take it, since he goes out several time a year as a field observer. 

I wish I could say this is an isloated incident, but I know of Fire Captains being sent out as field observers, who left with no knowledge of how to take field weather and returned with the same skill level. Firescope is supposed to coming up with a qualifications system (I guess using red carding would put someone out of work) that will be used by the different departments in the state. It is to help make sure it is what you know that qualifies you for the job and not the amount of brass on your collar. 

Everyone try to be safe. The Southwestern US is a long way from being ready to close down fire season. 

Fyr Eater

09/09 >From USO shows to what kind of show?
Firefighters busting their butts to US Army Kissing ____ ! 

Guess I'm too much of a Fire Fighter and not enough a POLITICIAN! 

Dateline From:
Fire Information Update
September 4, 2000
What happened yesterday? A non-life threatening medivac was successfully completed by the 101st Airborne. The injury was a separated shoulder. 

USFS Fire News
SEPTEMBER 08 -- WISDOM, MT: Four military crewmembers and pilots have been awarded the Army Achievement Medal for their efforts at evacuating an injured firefighter.
A severe accident on Wednesday, on Highway 43 north of Wisdom, injured a Forest Service employee in a head-on collision. Patient was evacuated by Eagle Dustoff.
Initially in critical condition with internal injuries, she is now reported in stable condition.

Did the story change? All I heard was that it was a critical injury. Ab.

09/08 Dateline comes on NBC tonight 2100 PDT and is about Storm King. Ab. 
09/08 Check out these graphics! Once there, you might want to download the pages. But beware, as they warn you, the five GIF files are *huge* (480-636K, 2-3 min apice at 28.8kps), so maybe you should think twice. There are some excellent graphics. I love the airtanker and the fireweather pages! Wish I had a large-sized printer! Spectacular posters for the "war room" wall! 

Have a good weekend, All!

09/08 The comment about the monster resupply job this Winter got me thinking. 
How many of the companies that provide the myriad supplies we use are publicly traded? 

May be some good investment opportunities here! I'll think I'll do some stock research and send my overtime to my on-line trading account. 


09/08 Hey Ab, 

I think everybody is missin the old boat on this "fire cause" thing. They should be thinking fire prediction instead ! You know , Animal behavior... This ain't no barking dog or missing cat thing like the Earthquake folks tell ya all about, this is MUCH bigger !!! Why do you think that all the birds fly south for the winter. They're on bombing runs!!! And what do you think those big Bucks rub their antlers on the trees for ??? You think Squeak Trees are volatile !!! 

Ya all have fun out there, Ya hear! And watch out for them Blue Thunder Huts.
Nor Cal Dan 

09/08 Hi all-

Came across the elkbath picture on the battleforce site (see link from 9/08)... see the "miscellaneous" photo page. Also briefly checked out the "wildfire links" page, but it's got so much good stuff I don't have time to go through it. Anyone know who's hosting this site? 

I'm catching a bit of a sigh on relief on a break for the tough season on this website. Just so we don't get too relaxed... here's the address for south CA's potential assessment for September: 
www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/potential.php. Although ERCs dropped a little due to some moisture about a week ago, they're on their way back up (although northern California got quite a bit of moisture). No forecast for Santa Anas in the next week, although there is a bit of moisture in the forecast. KBDIs are still incredibly high for the southeast as well. Also, it looks like North Carolina state has a missing helicopter... check out the South GACC's web site for an update on the SAR. 

Stay safe out there, my thoughts are with you all.
--still watching...

So, you watcher you, dont'cha read the part in italics? I had to go back and make sure I had included it. Or does it go invisible in your neck-o-CA! [smerk] Ab!

09/08 Ab and all, 

Currently I'm the military liaison for the 3rd Battalion of the 327th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, assigned to the Valley Complex in the southern Bitterroot Valley in Montana. Interesting assignment - the 32 strike team leaders that are here with me give it a BIG thumbs up. Your readers may want to position themselves for a military assignment if they ever get a chance - it's been a good deal. These Air Assault soldiers are giving it their all and have pulled some hotline and burn-out operations off in a manner that would make a lot of firefighters proud. Now that we're cold-trailing and mopping up, they're bugging us civilians for more hotline assignments. 

Task Force Battle Force, as the military calls itself for this assignment, has set up a web page about this fire assignment that you all might find interesting:


For an old timer like myself, internet access from fire camp is something I find a little disconcerting...but there it is. 

Lots of 'diversity' at this fire - Aussies and Canadians as well as the military. Canadian language trivia question for your readers - what is "smudging"? As in "We'll be smudging this line for most of the shift, eh?" I'll give the answer next time I get to write in. 

Battle Force! Air Assault!

Good to hear from ya, Bob. ElkBath, the photo that WP sent in is on the miscellaneous page at the battleforce site you posted. You need pdf to view the photos. I cut the size way down when I posted it here. Perhaps we can find the photographer. Ab.

09/08 Hey Danny, speaking of stats, here's one I figured out from number of fires and firesizes for the current year compared to the 10-yr avg.

This year's number of acres burned is 123% higher than the 10 year average, but the number of fires is only 21% higher. This implies that the ones we let get away can grow very big because we don't have the resources to deal with them. 'Course, if we had the resources to catch them on IA they might not have gotten going in the first place. Wish someone would post the year's current costs vs the 10 year avg costs. 

Fewer fires in the Rockies, but check out TX, OK and LA!


09/08 hi, i hope you can help me or point me in the right direction, please? my husband operates a private dozer for CDF when the monsters get out of hand. i have been told there is a website that is for the dozers, but i haven't been able to locate it. i've tried a number of different sites, but none have links to the dozers. i found your site through a link on a message board on one of the websites i was in during the storrie fire in plumas co, calif. your website is excellent, especially for me, i'm also brand new to computers. please, any help or suggestions you can send would be greatly appreciated. 
thanks, donna 

Readers, any ideas for the lady? (Limpy, mind yer manners.) We have two photos on the equipment page. There was a thread here on dozers last winter. Ab.

09/08 Ab, here is a photo of a hybrid tender. Type III Septic Conversion. Yes, that is a draft hose going into the tank. 


We have to watch out what we discuss on this site. Will wonders ever cease? Posted to the Equipment page. Put WP's elk bath pic on the fire4 page. Resized it so you can use it for wallpaper. Ab.

09/07 AB, Here is an interesing statistic. 

NIFC was @ a level 4 prepardness {Jly 24-27} for 3 days, then the moster awoke & they were held captive @ a level 5 prepardness {Jly 28-Sep 5} for 38 days. Let's hope that the monster has been laid to rest & that NIFC can drop quickly to a level 3 or 2 and ALL Ffirefighters come home safely. Logistics. Just think of the huge re-supply that will take place this Fall & next Spring @ all 11 GACC's. 


09/07 Hello All

As a former Forest Service Ground Pounder I just wanted express my heart felt gratitude for your hard work this summer. The true heroes are the folks that fought long, and hard this summer against never ending flames and blinding smoke. My hard hat goes off to all the crews federal, private, volunteer, and anyone else who supported all your efforts. I'm a Montana native raised in the great state of Wyoming, that can tell you first hand people here are very thankful to have had you come to their rescue. Watching your battles all summer has made me very proud to have been a part of the wildland fire fighting community. I hope you all have a safe trip back to your homes, well deserved rest and some time with your families. 

Northern Wyoming

09/07 In response to "Tired of the Bullshit" I just returned from 6 weeks in Idaho. I made a point to use the women's porta potties. Or, I would put the "women" sign on an out house right after a series of morning visits by some type 2 crews. If women want to work in fire, They can't expect special priviliges. 
    What exactly is the job a these human resource specialists? They seem to think it's only to tell some lame antedote at briefing then goof off for the rest of the day. Or trying to catch people swearing. (They would use the threat of de-mob. Ha ha) I thought these people were supposed to help make camp life a little easier for those working the fire. Like getting newspapers, arranging shuttles into town, maybe even getting a satelite dish set up.
    On the matter of central Idaho hoarding engines, I saw that also. They turned them into hand crews to justify keeping them. Meanwhile, Montana burned. 
    We weren't allowed to use foam, and there was no night shift. No wonder those fires are still burning.
    On the upside, the food was pretty good. 
09/07 Thanks Keith, Ab and all. 
I set my home page to theysaid. What fun! All this talk about squeek trees, windwagons, sprinkler systems, and survival techniques for "blue" potties is a hoot. Hope all the lurkers have a chuckle over the humor that's been on the board lately. I certainly have been giggling, snickering, guffawing and snorting my way through the last few days! 

Today's USFS FIRE NEWS reminds us that the fire season is far from over. New lightning strikes in SD, fires in LA and TX. Check out the Keetch Byram Drought Index, paying attention to TX, LA, Ark., OK, Miss., CA and southern OR!!! The Santa Anas haven't even begun! Oooooooohlala! Don't give up dreams of coming west. We may really need you!

Thanks for all the laughter. In the midst of it all, stay safe! Safety is YOUR OWN responsibility!

09/07 WP, 

A little hint on the "survival tactic" for little blue Rockets: 

just because a woman just came from that particular Rocket, doe's not mean she actually warmed the seat for you. personally, if you catch me sitting on the seat, your darned lucky. usually it's only out of desperation. distance from the lid is this woman's "survival tactic". 

cheers, firegirl.net

09/07 It has been awhile since I have been able to visit the site and see the current hot button issues. LJ, I hope like hell the folks you sent that letter to take it to heart and start paying attention to what is happening out here. Heli-mopping is an accepted practice everywhere you go any more. Isn't one of the basic precepts to avoid an accident to limit exposure?? Dry mopping is a lost art. I have fought this battle several times this year and am looked at like I am some kind of idiot. I enjoy a helicopter ride as much as anyone - if it is required for what I am doing. I do not go looking for a ride at every opportunity. I know pilots like to get those hours and are plenty willing to jump in and go do bucket work, but someone has to have a conscience. Ditto on the rest of your letter. I think you will find it is the old dogs and the savy fire folks that are more apt to be disturbed by what we see happening these days. That is not a good symptom! 

The firefighter series thing kind of baffles me. What is the issue? Do we get some huge benefit we don't currently have if we are in a special firefighters series?? Is it an ego thing? Right now the only benefit I can see is FF retirement and that is not dependent on series, rather it is dependent on work history. It is fine with me if you want to put me in a firefighters series, but if I don't end up in one, so what?? If firefighters want some kind of special series I guess that is ok, but what about the folks in the militia?? Do they get some kind of blackmark because they are 460, 462, 486 or whatever and we are in a firefighter series. There are several non-fire folks on my district that have been gone virtually since the Los Alamos fiasco on fire this year and are still gone - what are they? Some kind of second class citizens of the fire world not worthy of recognition? 

That should do me for this trip. Back to the complex tomorrow. You all be safe! We are closer to the end than we were in April. Mexico is calling!


09/06 Mellie and others who want make theysaid your home page as a default. 

Here's how for Netscape Navigator:
Open NN. Go to the Edit header at the top of the screen and click on it. When it opens, pull down to the Preferences option and let it open. When Preferences opens, the screen for specifying home page location appears. Put a bullseye in the Home Page circle then enter the theysaid URL in the white box. /theysaid.php Click on OK at the bottom and you're set.

Here's how for Internet Explorer:
Open IE. Go to the Tools header at the top of the screen and click on it. When it opens up go to internet options and left click on it. The next screen that that opens will show General. The first item on this page is home page. Where it says address, just type in the URL. /theysaid.php Then click on Use Current and you are set.
Hope this helps.
Stay safe, Keith

09/06 AB, I read the post re: ladies only potties, I just hope that never happens. Most of the year I do not care if the "blue rooms" are labeled men women and/or other. On late season fires it is imperative that there is no labeling. A survival tactic that I have acquired and will pass along is that -- the best unit to use on an October or later season fire is one that a female has just used. The seat is warmed and there is not as much shock to the body. Less heat loss, less shock the quicker you can be up and on your way. 


PS. Attached is one of the most stunning fire pics that I have come across, entitled Elk Bath. Source unknown, fire unknown. If anyone knows who took the pic, please give credit.

You can click on the link above. Will put it permanently into Fire4 tomorrow morning. Really nice pic. Ab.

09/06 Opportunity knocks!
Old Fire Guy

Two GS 462-6 Forestry Tech Positions in NE Minnesota, one permanent full-time engine operator/timber in the Laurentian RD, Aurora MN; the other seasonal 13/13 engine operator in the Kawishiwi RD.

Call or e-mail:
For further information on these opportunities, or to express your interest in these positions, contact the following individual before September 30, 2000. 

Robert Kari 
Kawishiwi Ranger District
(218) 365-7600 

Barb Stordahl
Laurentian Ranger District
(218) 229-8807

09/06 All -
Hi guys, long time no type..don't worry though I'm still here.. Following weather reports like a hound etc etc. Take Care, Stay Safe, and Fight the Good Fight, wherever that takes you. For me, it takes me back to the class room. 

Mr. Puller--
In regard to your latest post, you ask what the following terms are; ground pounder, rotor head, and engine slug. 

While these are just a few of the "nicknames" associated with the firefighters, here's a helpful bit: 
Ground Pounder - This term is used to refer to the hand crews. It is with reference that these crews do most of their work on the ground, with their feet and tools constantly pounding it. These guys are your typical 20 man crew.
Rotor Head - This term is directed at the Helitack Pilots and Crews. It is derived from the fact that they fly in machines that utilize rotors for lift and thrust.
Engine Slug - This term is used to refer to those who drive and conduct fire operations revolving around a truck, which in the vernacular of firefighters, is called an engine. 

Hope this clarifies things a bit for you, 
'Ranger' Tiny, the R-6 Fire Pup

09/06 Hey, FIRESCRIBE, thanks for such a great photo site {www.nifc.gov/gallery/}. Some really good photos and the selection is super.


09/06 Dear "Tired of the BS", 

I'm a little unclear. Were you bugged by the curious firefighter's question or the manager's response? Or the fact that the FF asked for the human resources specialist? UMMMM, or the fact that that they (gender neutral) weren't there? Or were you just PISSed off! or felt PISSed on for having to use a non-"Ladies" facility? 

Was the manager female or male? That sounds like a thing women sometimes say about men! (URINE trouble if you're not telling the whole story here! [smerk] Although I would understand if revealing that info would constitute a LEAK and reveal identities! [guffaw]) 

When I asked about the "Ladies" B&Bs last summer at Willow Camp, I was told they were never used because no one at camp identified herself as a Lady. Since this was told to me by a woman who clearly was joshin' me, I did not call the resource specialist, although I think they weren't there that day either... Where are they when you need them? Involved somewhere in a coed group hug, no doubt! 

When I persisted in asking for clarification at an attempt to get at the truth, she said that the true story of their origin was this: 
Some R5 *male* FFs, probably hotshots, had requested that some portapotties be labeled "Ladies" so that all the females could line up in front of those ones and let the male lines at the others move at a faster rate! She said that having "Ladies" is less important in spike camp because there are so many trees the guys can take a wizzzzzzz behind. 

I couldn't quite tell from her facial expressions whether that one was the truth... 

sign me Jennybob [tongue firmly in cheek]

09/06 Ab,

I have just read the response's to the inquiry I made from the news release I found concerning forest fires caused from rub or squeak trees. It seems that a few readers do not think that the news release was real. Do you think I have been duped? 

It sounded very posable to me, but I do not know that much about the forests and such stuff. By the way, on the opening page of this site you mention that the site is for "ground pounders, rotor heads and engine slugs." What are they? An engine slug does not sound like a very nice thing. 

Again, thank you for your time and if I was duped I will be more careful next time. 

Will Puller

09/06 Hey J-Bob and other theysaid readers and RO and WO lurkers, 

I'm forwarding J-Bob's post to Rocky and Bull Winkle to tell them that there probably was a less costly and more efficacious solution to Will Puller's squeek tree problem. I am also suggesting that if they and Dr. Stu Pidass have any further problems to solve, they consult theysaid before spending the taxpayers money. Gotta admit, those windmills sure look impressive... and in an election year "impressive" counts! 

Ab, we need directions on how to make theysaid our "favorite" or "home" site, so when we log onto the internet, it comes up automatically. Any readers have this figured out? 


09/06 I overheard a conversation today between a curious firefighter and the facilities manager in a fire camp in Region 1. The firefighter, who was a male asked the facilities manager why there were signs on some of the porta-pottys saying "Ladies" only. 

The manager replied it was a R5 "thing", and that the "Ladies" didn't like having to sit down on the seat and be forced to have their face near the urinal basin which hangs on the wall. The firefighter then asked what the difference was, as the "Ladies" stalls also had the urinals in them. The manager said that since the urinals weren't used, they didn't stink. 

Of course, the next question the firefighter asked was why it was ok for the men to deal with the offensive odor when they used the stool in the porta-pottys. The manager answered, it doesn't matter, they're just men! 

Surprising commentary coming from an R5 employee, you know, the same R5 that created the consent decree monster. When the firefighter asked where the human resource specialist was, he was told there was none that day. 

Sign me "tired of the bullshit". Sometimes it's the little things that can bug me the worst.

09/06 This is a good story on Hawkins & Powers airtankers that even groundpounders will dig [ahem] enjoy. 


09/06 I am just wondering how our Fire Department can help in the wild land fire situation in the future, we have several firefighters that would be willing to come out and help in the event of anther wild land fire, that was as bad as this one was this year. If you could give me some information I would appreciate it. 

Doug Maw Jr.

09/05 Everyone,

Here's a really clear and present statement from Jack Ward Thomas that was sent to me by a friend this morning. He lays out what we need to do and how we need to do it to correct the current conditions that have led to our summer of conflagration, which he thinks is not an unusual summer, all things considered. I think it's especially timely in light of the recent posts on theysaid. For those of us working in the political arena at least part of the time, such a clear presentation is particularly invaluable. We must all rise above the BLAMEGAME to work most effectively! 

When we wonder what could be improved about the USFS, we need only look at their current FS news page for national headquarters in Washington. Now compare that to the quality and presentation of the following sites: 

Makes me very proud of the federal fire program (including ALL participants) and its presence on the internet!!! These fire sites and THEYSAID are the kind of presence that changes public opinion! 

READERS, Ab and I propose a survey. 
Go view these sites and send in your vote for the best to theysaid! Remember, consider the organization, the information, the ease with which you are able to navigate through the links and "pages" and the artistry. I propose 2 categories: 1) the site you like best as a person in fire and 2) the site you think the public might like best and why. Ab said he'd send your responses to me without any identifying characteristics. So, I'll just get the results but won't know who you are. At some time in the future, I'll compile and report the results here. Perhaps we can include comments. Look for a prod from me from time to time to get in your votes. 

Thanks for your participation, and may the contest begin....

09/05 LJ 

What you described was not limited to those fires. Part of the problem was sending type 2 IMT's to complex fires without an AOBD and/or ASGS. 

Have we forgotten 94 and the Rules! We Don't Bend Them and We Don't Break Them. YOU BET WE HAVE! Excuses are just that, excuses. We have been extremly fortunate that more people were not hurt or killed. 


09/05 Reply to Rod and others: 

Just got home from another road trip and broused through they said. I see several of our readers/contributers refer to the present GS0462 forestry tech job series as having been created in the 50s. This is partially correct: yes the 462 was a 50s brain child. HOWEVER there was also a GS 456 series that was widely used up until the early 1970s (72 or 73) which was, You guessed it, Fire Control Aid and Technician. There are but a few of us old duffers around who actually worked under those PDs and have copies of them still (retirement documentation). When all the non-foresters were hammered into the 462 it was sold as "additional career opportunities". For those of us in the 456, did we get screwed? YEP. Was there those opportunities? NOPE! I hope that everyone is paying attention to safety especially their own. Rememeber, you all need to also watch out for your folks.... 

adrenelan junkie

Thanks for the clarification Adrenalin Junkie. Ab.

09/05 I'd like to let everyone know about a new Wildfire Search Engine you can post links to your sites or others to. 

Check it out here: 


09/04 This memo was sent to FAM in Washington, as well as many others. 

On two recent assignments in Region 4, I observed several safety issues concerning aircraft use, as well as firefighting safety issues. I feel a need to share these concerns with you, as one may have contributed to a fatality. I have twenty-seven fire seasons with the Forest Service, all in Fire Management. I spent time on Engines and Hotshots as a firefighter (since 1974) and supervisor (since 1979). My present qualifications are Ops Chief II, Planning Sec. Chief II and IC II (T). 

My Engine crew was assigned to the "Twin Peaks" fire (08/11 through 08/17) in Nevada. A Type II (R5) IIMT was assigned. I had an uncomfortable feeling right from the start about the teams attitude towards safety, as well as the overall incident objectives. The entire strategies and tactics seemed unclear through the whole incident. Divisions were assigning tasks to crews without knowing their Division and the needs. The Divisions were much to large for a Division Supervisor to maintain. 

Prior to the accident and fatality of 4EH, Helicopters were being used to heli-mop. The fire behavior and resources at risk did not mitigate the use of helicopters for mop-up. In addition, there were several engines available for hoselays and filling back-pack pumps. The decision to use helicopters in this manner was bad enough . . . but the personnel (AD Crew Supervisors) directing these helicopters to their targets were untrained and obviously unfamiliar with rotorwing use and capabilities. At times, there were several different folks on the radio directing the pilots. The temps were high and the air was dry. I do not confess to be an expert in aviation management, but I know the limits and capabilities, as that is part of my job. 

During the first shift, I observed (what I would call) several close calls, I got to an area where I could see the operation and BOLDLY took over. The Division Sup. assigned was glad I did and acknowledged that I would set the targets and priorities. One of the first things I did, was recommend that the helicopters were not needed. I was then advised by the Division to use them anyway. I coordinated the water dropping as told, but was uncomfortable. I shared with my crew, the concerns I had and we were lucky that an accident did not occur. The day ended without mishap. 

Something inside me, told me that this was not going to be a good incident. I felt for the safety of the pilots and firefighters, but was not in a position to do anything about it. Recent events in my career have made me uncomfortable in expressing my opinion. I now wish I had said something, I will never know if I might have saved the pilots life(?). 

Prior to the accident, I believe the helicopters were overloaded with heli-mopping. The pilots were surely fatigued. I am not privy to the outcome of the investigation, however I would assume that these issues may have contributed to the accident. When the accident occurred, (we) heard about it over the radio. We immediately responded to the aid of the pilot. My engine was the first fire truck on scene. We layed hose and assisted in securing the scene. One of my firefighters was an x-paramedic (qualified EMT). He assisted with the treatment of the pilot, although it was said he died instantly. Among several things that haunt me about this accident, one stays with me. I heard over the radio (prior to the accident), that the helicopters were just sitting at helibase. The Airattack on the fire was heard saying, "go ahead and make some water drops, there is not much else to do". That was 4EH's last mission. 

After the accident, my crew was pretty shook up. I consoled them as best I could. They said to me, "you were right"! For once in my career, I didn't like being right. I requested CISD from the Incident Commander for my crew. The Team had a session for the crew who actually witnessed the accident, but my crew was not invited. I have requested CISD from my District FMO, at least for the firefighter who worked on the pilot. 

We left the "Twin Peaks" fire and were reassigned to the "Glade Fire" in Wyoming. You'll never guess how the helicopters were used . . . HELI-MOPPING!!! Ten plus engines sat at structures (with no immediate or future threat), while helicopter(s) were mopping up. Hoselays could have easily been used and still maintain a structure protection status. Ten or more engines sat on their butts for FIVE days! 

I am concerned!!!!!! Although this memo is directed at the aviation issue, I have seen so much more.

  • improper footgear and PPE
  • using retardant to pre-treat days before the fire will ever get there
  • unqualified crew bosses
  • lack of training
  • poor quality training
  • lack of attainable objectives
  • enthusiasm without knowledge
  • not adhering to the 14-day policy
  • hotshot crews as well as others, extending beyond 14 days and even 21 days, with minimal time off
  • Type I and Type II IMT with minimal qualified "OPERATIONS" personnel
  • Type II crews being placed in complex tactical situations, way above their capabilities
  • engines and other resources being held, sitting or not being used (other than staging).
I have been held back in my career for speaking my mind and holding folks accountable. To a point where I fear saying anything. This memo has been run through my head and deleted several times, yet I feel it so important. The NEW people coming up in the organization are so inexperienced and some don't have a clue. We have folks managing incidents that have very little experience. 


In spite of the fact that LJ identified himself completely at the end of this statement, I will continue to adhere to our policy of anonymity and will not reveal his name, etc. Many of you will see this post elsewhere as it has just been released in R5. 
I sincerely appreciate your post, LJ, and the conflict you must have felt in deciding to push the send button. All of us must remember this: if we condone unsafe practices, by our lack of action we are promoting them. LJ, you have our support. Ab.

09/04 J-Bob,
I have a suggestion for your temporary tree greasers. Why don't you keep them employed as firefighters for the rest of the season? Then if any fires started, the location could be tracked and blame could be assigned to the individual that was responsible for the improper tree greasing. Of course, the grease used must be approved by the authority having jurisdiction (read tree hugging group) so that it meets all the requirements and stipulations that they can dream up.
09/04 Another firefighter dies, this time in Mississippi. Condolences. 

Some articles about weather and fire:

the precip in the Rockies:

and drought in Texas:

Just remember, folks, that a year ago on the Big Bar Complex there was half-inch of rain and many people were demobed. Exausted ff thought it was the beginning of the winter storms. Within a week things had dried out, there was a wind event, and the fire made a 5 mile run in one day. Resources were mostly GONE. The IIMT was scrambling! The fire continued for another month until the winter rains finally came in earnest. LET'S NOT GET CAUGHT UNAWARES or OFFGUARD as a result of a very little rain (some places got .5-1"; more got .1-.3")! Keep your eye on the Jet Stream as an indicator of sustained winter storm patterns. 


09/04 Will Puller 

How very extraordinary! I trust Mr. (? Dr.?) Pidass will be richly rewarded for his perceptiveness and perspicasity. 

A staff of temporary tree oilers or tree greasers would seem to be just the thing to alleviate this pressing problem. They could be hired in the spring before the fire season, on March 31 perhaps, and then let go when the need passed, shortly thereafter. 


06/09 In response to Will Puller's question, here is how one area of SoCAL is dealing with the squeek tree and storms problem: 

Squeek Trees and Wind Alternative2000As specified in the April 1, 2000 program directive, the locals were enlisted to locate and mark the squeek trees (SQs) in a random sample of forest to determine whether such a program was financially efficacious. The SQs represented such a large proportion of the forest that forest managers Rocky Ra'Koone and Bull S. Winkle decided that simply pruning or cutting some trees was not a sufficient remedy. Their cadre explored the possibility of laying a sprinkler system throughout the forest, as had been previously suggested. Given that current federal funding is only at 70%MEL and rakeoffs in fire budget occur at all levels of the forest, very few funds exist for this type of prevention. Thus, they decided that sprinklers were not a viable option, especially considering the long-term costs of water or powdered water. After much analysis and review, they determined that clearcutting was the best option. Dr. Stu Pidass conducted his own independent ass--essments and concurred. Clearcutting was done. 

On the naked hillsides this fall, they were then free to erect the more modern equivalent of the antique "wheeled wind wagon" to blow against prevailing winds to further counteract the effects of incoming storms spreading grass fires, thus solving two problems in the process. (See this letter to the editor for a new "take" on an old idea.) In the interview following this successful achievement with his chest thrust waaaaay out, Mr. B.S. Winkle stated, "We are very proud of the innovative solution we found for this problem. If a more effective and less costly one exists, it was not evident to us." 

Report submitted by Mellie

09/04 To my firefighter brothers!

I am a new red card holder from the Pelham Fire Dept. in Pelham, Al. This is the first e-mail I have ever sent, so it is probably pretty crude. I have been a structural firefighter for 27 yrs. I am 47 years old , so I have been a firefighter all my life. I have always had the utmost respect for wildland firefighters, but not until recently did I realize how tough you have it. I have just recently finished the red card course with others in our dept.
We are looking forward to being deployed and being of what help we can.

Our thoughts and prayers are always with you. Will be there soon. 
Heart of Dixie Hotshots+ 

09/04 I have a site dedicated to wildland firefighters families. The site is for postings of family stories and feelings of those left at home. Please include the site url on your message page. hometown.aol.com/twickee/hun.phpl
09/03 Ab, 
As an infrequent reader of this site, I appreciate the insight that it gives non-fire folks into the challenges faced by you and those like you. I was looking at some obscure government information sites today and found the following news release from earlier this year. Do you or any of the readers know if the program mentioned in this press release below was ever implemented? 

Washington DC, April 1, 2000: 

The BLM today announced that recent research shows that lightning is not the direct cause of the majority of wildland fires in the west. Rather, western fires result from the friction generated when trees and other vegetation rub together during high wind episodes associated with the lighting storms. BLM spokesperson Stewart (Stu) Pidass stated that extensive research has been done in the South Cascade BLM district by long time researcher Rick Ranger. 

Ranger formulated his theory after he noticed that an inordinate number of fires started in areas where the vegetation was thick with trees in close proximity to each other. To test his theory, Ranger used 1930's technology to generate the wind needed to produce the rubbing and, thereby, the friction needed to start a forest fire. The machine used was a "wheeled wind generator" or "wind wagon" used in the nineteen-thirty's to blow against prevailing winds to counteract the effects of incoming storms. The wind wagons were placed in strategic locations on ridge-tops and in mountain passes. In that case, the wagons proved to be less than effective and fell in to disuse. Ranger found two excess wagons on the district and used them for his research. 

Ranger's research has shown (error less than .1%) that rubbing vegetation or "rub trees", sometime called "squeak trees", cause forest fires. As a result of the finding, Ranger proposed a program whereby the public could assist agency personnel in identifying those rub or squeak trees and, through an intensive pruning program, reduce the fire hazard. A reward or bounty of $25.00 would be paid for each site identified and confirmed as a potential hazard. BLM Director Tom Fry was quoted as saying, "This is a very worthy program that encourages and rewards the public for taking an active part in fire prevention. We are pleased to announce that a pilot program has begun and identification kits are being produced for selected districts. If the pilot proves to be as successful as anticipated in the summer of 2000, it will be implemented on all BLM and USFS districts in coming years as kits can be produced and funding acquired." 

So, Ab and readers -- Anyone know the outcome of the pilot program and the status of further implementation? 

As you say, STAY SAFE--
Will Puller

09/03 Ab and others, 

Nice NIFC photo gallery here organized by fire name:

Update on Vail's CA Team 1 on the Storrie, moving camp and new photos since the last time I put up the URL:


09/03 LAVE and Al, 

Les Rosenkrance was NOT the Director of NIFC, but the Director of BLM at NIFC. Its one thing to have an opinion, but folks need to take a deep breath before posting and attacking others because their opinon is different. Well said Al.

Question? Will wildland fire policy improve once Babbit is gone? 


09/02 In response to Kellybob:
        I read the newspapers, I surf the net, I watch news TV, I even listen to the radio. You see I am kind of a news junkie. I also know something about the U.S. government too. Some of my sources are the New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, Worldnetdaily, and Newmax.com along with local newspapers and of course, "They Said". 
        According to a number of the articles, the Government Accouting Office knew about the flammability of the forests and they are the ones who reported the movement of money from the fire suppression budget into a fund to acquire more land. 
        Kelleybob, have you ever heard of a gentleman by the name of Les Rosenkrance, former Director of BLM at NIFC. Well, Mr. Rosenkrance resigned after he told his superiors about the lack of funding, lack of experienced firefighters and fire managers. He stated that he did not want to be responsible for deaths due to these oversights. These are just the "facts" that I can remember; there may be more but I haven't begun to research this fully. 
        I am not laying this entirely on the politicians doorstep, there is enough blame to go around. The bottom line is these politicians are there to take care of things like this and, in my opinion, they either didn't listen to their advisors or worse, they didn't care. Again, I do know something about government and I am doing my part as a citizen of this government, WE THE PEOPLE, to get problems fixed. As a very wise man said "It's not who is wrong, it's what is wrong, and fix it." Thanks for the soap box. God walk with all the firefighters and soldiers on the fire lines.
09/02 Wow, did everyone who isn't away on fire go out of town....? Hope you're all having a great weekend. It rained in my neck-of-the-woods this morning. Ab.
09/02 Hang in there....The fire season will be ending before you know it....You are all doing a great job!!!!!

P.S. If Firedawg reads this (and you know who you are) I love you and God Speed you back to me......in one solid UNCOOKED piece!

09/01 I am not a firefighter but I do work agency (BLM) and talk to our fire management officer (FMO) whenever I can. 

I don't believe taking ALL of the firefighting away from the agency is a good idea. Our FMO knows our staff, our land, and our issues. He understands what is on the public ground (T&E species, arch sites, etc.) and works to protect it. He informs the on-the-ground people who are fighting the fire what to protect and avoid. Without him damage might be done to valuable resources simply b/c of not knowing that the spindly little plant they want to bulldoze only exists in that one patch. 

Thank you for protecting our land and resources- when I get my red card I hope to one day support you all :-) 


09/01 Kelly    Bob, 

LAVE is right and so is the Old Fire Guy. Presidents strongly influence budget. The Wall Street Journal (08/30) article entitled, "The Clinton Memorial Flame" says this, 
"Voters might want to remember the Clinton-Gore decision in the most recent federal budget to cut funds for fire prevention, to $305 million, down from 322 million." Voters also might want to remember that Clinton-Gore "diverted that 'cut' fire prevention money to help bankroll Mr. Clinton's monument projects" including "vast tracts of land." That backs up LAVE's earlier comment about Clinton robbing the fire budget for his own self-agrandisement. Many believe this is true. 

In addition, lest we think this is of bipartisan motivation, Les Rosenkrance, the now retired head of NIFC told the Washington Times last week that the Whte House priority was for "using the money for land acquisition and a lot of different things like building a visitor center at a new monument." In a Jan.3 memo he had warned his bosses that the GAO had found federal firefighting capabilities "were diminished due to lack of funding." He added, "if a severe fire season results in injuries or deaths among fire personnel, the agencies will be held accountable." Did that warning never get up the food chain? Did the advisors not advise? or did the leaders of the large government organization not ask their advisors -- or worse yet, did these leaders outright IGNORE warnings that were given? Seems there will be blame to go around. 

What we need, Kelly Bob, is a CIVIL dialog among fire people with sometimes differing views, as MOC4546 stated in his opening statement. We need to discuss solutions, not place blame. Thanks MOC4546. 


09/1 Whew! It's been a long and hard fire season, one for the books. Signs of stress are showing with some of the exaggerated bickering evidenced on this site. Okay, so let's take a deep breath and remember we're all pretty much in the same business and while we are certainly entitled to our own opinions, we can temper them with some reality checks.

Here is my perspective (and I guess my view of reality)....based on 28 years with the FS.

The need for "firefighters" in the future will be met by a combination of permanent, seasonal and contracted resources. Certainly there is pride in being a "specialist" or "professional" in any field. But the need for people who do only one thing is limited in a multiple resource management agency. The first "forest rangers" did it all, managing grazing, timber, fire, minerals, wildlife.....whatever. And the need for versatility for most of our employees will continue. It better meets the agency needs and develops a better perspective for the employee.

As far as "politics" it has always been and is growing ever more important within the agency. Gifford Pinchot was a political appointee, throughout our agency history most chief's have risen through the ranks and recently again become political appointees. We all work for the administrative branch, and hence carry out our mission as directed by the administration. Political biases aside, no the President and his appointees do not directly pass the national budget.....but yes they certainly do influence the trade-offs and priorities that establish how and what is spent.

Should we have a separate "firefighter" series? There might well be room for that, but reality is it will not be a series that guarantees full time year round work to all those who now have seasonal employment. Economics dictate we just can't afford that. Don't forget the trade-offs. How many "seasonal" have helped pay their way through college as a firefighter. How many other resource professionals have benefitted from the perspective they gained through hands on firefighting experience? Want to forgo those opportunities?

Sorry to be so windy. Again, yes there is probably room for all and likely we'll have a firefighting workforce that has seasonals, forest technicians, contractors, and maybe even a "firefighter" series represented.

Now go out there and work safe! 

Old Fire Guy

09/1 Hi Abercrombie - With your permission.. 
My Pop turned 83 today. He was a CCC/FS hot-shot back in 39?. I got a few pix from your site to send him to set as wallpaper on his old-mac. He will certainly enjoy them! (Then I saw the written permission clause). You have an above average site. And so, with your permission.. 
All the best, Brian

By all means, and wish him a happy birthday from theysaid! Does he have any old pictures, stories, or fire wisdom to share? Ab.

09/1 A close call, some news updates and a lightning map, URLs from Firescribe:

Scary situation:
Also, a few WY fire photos to the left. 

Fuel reduction, salvage logging and thinning, a political tap dance:

Money (a few good bucks), marines (a few good men) and precip (a few good drips):

More Montana and Idaho fire update:

Storm cell activity and lightning in the west and elsewhere:
Click over on the upper level maps and check out the jet stream, dipping below the OR border, a presage of winter storms, but for how long? 

Copyright © 2014 FWI WildlandFire.com - All Rights Reserved. Your source for Wildland Fire News and Wildfire News and Information.