"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
OCTOBER 2000

 

DATE
SUBJECT    (Previous Archive: Sep-00) Return to Archives Page
10/31 Why do we feel we must aggressively suppress all human caused fires? Are we not a part of nature? If a fire is started, human caused, and can be controlled to benefit resource objectives why not utilize it?

Anonymous

Readers? Ab.

10/31 TO DEEFAMO's comments regarding how people should be selected.

I both agree and disagree with your opinion regarding the new permanent openings and how they should be selected.

First, let me agree with your statement that "problem children" can be the detriment of an organization, and that if you have a bad firefighter you don't continue to re-hire him/her year after year. If you have someone who is a screwup and does not toe the line by being a safe and productive employee then hold those people back, don't let them in. I'm talking about the people who do the minimum and expect the maximum in return, who show up to work in the morning with a minute to spare, who cut corners, who hold old and damaging opinions that affect crew performance and professional attitudes and public opinion. Absolutely, don't let these people in if they think its a free ride.

However, how many of these have been trying hard for permanent positions, who come back each season to the same low pay and no benifits, who love the job and try to overcome all the obsticles placed in front of them by their supervisors, management, and the Forest Service in general? You made a threat to a good many people who have tried for many years to get on, volunteered for assignements they didn't have to do, work hard so they could get your nomination for the JAC program but instead the appointment goes to some biology tech who's lucky to see two fires a year. The JAC program is joke and should be changed because the best qualified people are still not being selected on the basis of experience, knowlegde, skill, qualifications, and education but by "Who's your buddy?".

Have you ever taken into consideration that there reaches a point where you try your hardest to reach your goal, but the carrot keeps getting moved just out of your reach by rules and regs set up by the FS? Or worse, the personal games that perhaps a Captain, or AFMO, or FMO, or even Forest FMO pull to get their pound of flesh out of an employee who works hard for an appointment then is disappointed because the same thing happened to them?

Maybe some of these people have been "pain in the asses" to their supervisoprs because they reached a point where they are tired of being lied to and manipulated with words and promises that have been broken over and over again. This summer I watched a good friend quit mid-season because the lies and manipulations got so bad. He did engines for two season, Hot Shot crews for five season, and left a squad boss position in Alaska mid-season out of frustration because it kept getting "Now you need to this to please me to get an appointment" from his supervisor. He finally said "I'm tired of fighting for a position so I'm getting out of fire and I don't think I'm going back". A promising career has been killed now.

Is this what you mean by being a pain in the ass??? I understand that many of you people in the higher level fire positions were abused, taunted, and screwed over by the people who were once over you, and they probably did some really crappy things to you because they could get away with it, but the time for this attitude is past. Its not acceptable anymore either ethically or professionally. If you can't put aside your desire to inflict the same kind of pain others did to you maybe you need to go.

There is nothing greater that an employee who loves his/her job, that they are doing the job they love and are well motivated to be productive. How many people do you have as seasonal firefighters who are this way? How many really want the permanent slots and would be good employees? Are you planning on killing a career because John Doe seasonal temporary firefighter didn't wash your fire vehicle because he needs to service a saw, or Jane Doe seasonal firefighter didn't move that tool fast enough for you?

I agree with Ab and you that once a person fills a permanent position that it is very hard to get rid of them. And you know, if the person is a screw up it shouldn't be hard to fire them. But it is because of all the people who lost their jobs due to wrongful terminations. But I know that people are not clones or slaves, that they all have different personalities and traits that make them unique. If you have a bad person there let them know at the end of the season that they should plan on going somewhere else next season, your documentation as to why, and that you won't be allowing them back next season.

I may have blown this out of proportions from your opinions on this, but this is what your statement said to me. Finally, let me ask you this. If you were that concerned with how an employee works, if they're a "pain in the ass", if they're bad then take this into consideration.

There exists a man who still holds the opinion that "Forest Service fires should only be fought by Forest Service firefighters". In the 1980's this man lost a fire he could have controlled if he would have utilized the three volunteer engines, two state engines, and two BLM engines. Instead, his attitude came out and rather than use forces other than FS he turned everyone around and lost control of the fire. 2000 acres, $10 Million in marketable timber, and more than $2 million in homes and private property were destroyed because of his attitude. When the court trails were all over the FS paid for it. Later on when he was sent elsewhere he kept telling seasonal firefighters what they had to do "in his opinion" before he would allow them to move up or become permanent at his station (which by the way would take twice as long the way the rules say). No body stopped this guy, no one punished him, no one wrote him up, and today this guy is an upper level manager with a Region 5 NF. Tell me DEEAFMO, if you were or are serious about preventing the wrong people into the organization, what are you doing to get the bad people out? As long as this person goes unpunished its going to keep going, and going, and going.

MOC4546

10/30 To an Old Friend:

The agency was always on his ass for one reason or another
sometimes for a good reason, often it was pure bullshit.
We spent a lot of years on the fireline together,
and when I moved up the bureaucrat food chain
and he didn't, I never forgot him
we could call each other friend and brother.
And had that opportunity one last time
during the Storrie incident.
I am truly glad I have him a big hug just before I left,
and asked him if he had done any fishing lately.
He told me that day how many days he had left to retire,
and that there was hassle with documenting some of his time.
He was a good ground pounder, a gentle soul,
I'll have to listen for his spirit in the wind.
Life is a lot shorter than any of us really chose to believe.
Farewell Larry.
Maddog

10/30 An unofficial Wisconisn DNR fire logo (Torchy) at logo2 page and t-shirt design created by Keith's 13 year old son as a tribute to those who fought the fires of TX 2000 on the miscellaneous page. Ab.
10/30 Please send me information on recommended filter masks for wildland fire fighting. My department doesn't issue any and wants us to not use any non-approved masks. I need recommendations to alter the thinking of those policy makers. Thank You. You can reach me via e-mail at jparet@juno.com.
10/30 I am not sure that the situation is the same nationwide, but in MN there is an extremely high turnover of firefighters. This unfortunately leads to a high percentage of training dollars being spent on basic introductory classes. This leaves very little for advanced classroom education for firefighters that are serious about the profession and what "slots" are available are rarely offered to other than full time employees. After begging for more training for non-full time employees for years to no avail we have been forced to begin providing our own. Additionally, the real training is done on the job by osmosis, in that the experienced firefighters teach the inexperienced. Since the ratio of experienced firefighters to new recruits has changed dramatically over the past 5 years the level of training has also suffered. Unfortunately the MN DNR has discovered that when they provide firefighters with more advanced training they want to use it and often go to work in states with a longer fire season and thus are not available when needed in MN. They have tried trickery and threats which are for the most part ineffective given all the job opportunities with other employers but they have not tried sitting down and talking to firefighters as "equals" and trying to find a workable solution that mostly satisfies all involved. Frankly, I believe that they would be amazed at how simple the solutions might be and would be flabbergasted at all the small problems that have accumulated over the years due to this lack of communication. You can't attract and keep the best and the brightest by treating employees as if they do not matter once the fires are out.

If a manager at any level can't seem to attract and keep "good employees" and seems to think that they have a lot of employees who are a pain in the ass....it may be time to do some self evaluation on their "people skills". Just because most state and federal fire employers are somewhat exempt from the fair employment laws passed since the 1920's legally doesn't mean that there are NO consequences to treating employees in a manner that has been unacceptable for 80 years! To paraphrase Ross Perot, "That huge sucking sound you hear is the competition for good employees by all the other job opportunities out there." I won't disagree that there are pain in the ass firefighters, but many may not be incompetent...just undertrained,underappreciated, and underutilized. Just because a person works as a seasonal firefighter does not mean they are not capable of getting a better paying job for more regulated and competitive minded employers. Most have to make the decision each season to not make better money working for other employers in other lines of work. It is a hard decision to make, especially if you have a family, as the job is not conducive to marital harmony. I encourage all managers to take the time to discover why their pain in the ass firefighters are a pain in the ass before deciding not to rehire them or giving them a bad review when other managers call looking for recommendations they may just want more training, more action, or more hours. Some may be the very folks you want to keep and encourage...some may be duds, but you will never know unless you take the time to listen to them.

If the national fire suppression agencies are actually hoping to fill all these new positions which 100% MEL may create I wonder if anyone has bothered doing a study on how to attract the best and brightest to a not all that desirable job in a time of economic boom and low unemployment? I would be very interested in knowing what the actual retention ratio is for seasonal firefighters and what the factors have been determined might lead to a higher retention ratio. If this study has not been done I wonder what the WO will say when confronted by legislators with the fact that they have the funding but can't attract and retain enough firefighters. I wonder how the retention ratio of Govt. agencies compares to private contractors?

Dana
MWFA

10/30 Ab,
There are 4 BLM IHC crew sup's being advertised: Craig, SLC, Pocatello & Elko
dispatch dude
ps: yep your right the link for the job posting is goofed. Probably just have to search by http://www.usajobs.opm.gov .

If interested, link to jobs here: BLM IHC Super Positions I corrected the listing.

10/29 Well I will throw out a couple things in response.

First of all, as far as I know the only appropriation bill that has passed was 2001. There are no guarentees for 02,03,or 04. We can be optomistic and hope that Congress and the new administration will stay the course, but we are a little over a week from an election. Lets be honest, the moons lined up in our favor this year. Do you think we would be talking 100% MEL if it were not a presidential election year and we had a severe fire season? 94 and 96 were good years also, how close did we come to 100% MEL in 95,96,97,98,99 and 00? I think another good thing coming out of this is the focus on the way the money has been siphoned off in the past and not got to the ground. Lets hope that focus continues.

As Fireonin indicated, we have to step up to the plate or the golden goose is going to be dinner in short order. I do not agree that contracting 100% is the way to go, but I certainly think we need a good mix. I would be surprised if the contractors may not get some of their good folks siphoned off into some of these vacancies that are coming up especially in the lower grades. They have a large pool of good folks and as I indicated before we are going to have to do some looking for good ones. Sorry Fireonin I do not agree on the hiring the PA folks just cause we need folks. I think ramping up the JAC academy and other programs will allow us to get to good folks over the three year period. I think the winter message will be plan and spend it wisely.

DEEFAMO

10/29 Wow, the diversity of interpretation!

Since all these opinions are being tossed around, I thought I'd add to the frenzy...

I have some networks in and out of the FS ranks that include people supposedly "in the know" about this money we're getting. The FS is the one who says reaching 100% MEL is a 3 year program. Congress has an exectation that the staffing needed to meet firefighter productivity for 100% MEL can be achieved by June 2001!

The 3 year plan is ambitious. We'll NEVER be able to meet that 100% MEL level in the next 8 months. I guess we'll see who's interpretation wins out eventually, eh? For now, we can all have our opinions, but that and a dime won't buy a cup of coffee!

Now, DEEFAMO, I have a question for you. If these employees are such a pain in the ass, why do you continue to hire them? My experience is that performance problems are usually due to POOR SUPERVISION.

If an employee isn't "cutting it", then deal with that. Their performance should be based on elements tied to their position description. If they aren't meeting that performance level, counsel them and coach them to succeed. If they don't succeed, document their deficiencies, tell them they aren't performing and give them a chance to fix the problem. If that doesn't work, terminate them.

I've seen the FS rehire temporary employees for as many as 10 seasons. For some strange reason, their performance problems don't come up until you get ready to hire them for apprentice or permanent jobs.

By that time, you can't defend why you didn't hire them for a permanent job because you rehired them over and over again. Why were they good enough to rehire as a temp for multiple seasons, but you didn't want them for a permanent job? Probably because there isn't any documentation that supports they had any problems. Then you're stuck.

OK, so you hire them into apprentice or career conditional positions. There is still a probationary period where you can take action for performance problems. Once they pass that probationary period, it's much more difficult to terminate them. But look at all those chances you passed up. Performance problems don't go away. They haunt you.

We have a lot of hiring we have to do. We want to hire the best and the brightest for these jobs. Why are we plugging up positions with performance problems?

No one comes to work planning to do a poor job. Those that do are easy to see, and I hope we're at least dealing them THEM. Today's pain in the ass will become tomorrow's supervisors and leaders. Is that really what we want? I don't think so...

FOBSIF

10/29 Pretty cool site, I enjoyed it a bunch. I was wondering if you know where I could find grants for radio equipment like pagers, or hand held radios for a volunteer fire dept. I can't find anything yet and your site is the first site I've really found having to do with fire departments.
Thank you for your time,

Sincerely,
Steven
skussman@ria.net

10/29 DEEFAMO,

Your "warning" is timely but let's not forget that many manager feel that anyone not "toeing the line" is a pain in the ass. This too often includes those that see problems and refuse to take "that's not your concern" as a response. Just because some crew mwmber doesn't make your life simpler doesn't mean that they should be cut. Let's not forget that we don't have the luxury of a large available work force to choose from. Those folks that are currently working fire are about all you have, and I don't see a lot of extra incentives to draw new folks to the profession coming down the pipe.

But since we are posting warnings I have a few of my own. The warnings to the regional managers and WO from the legislators are that they are aware of the manner in which fire funds have been "siphoned off" to supplement other programs in the past and that it won't be tolerated as the MEL % increases. There are also indications that the GAO supports a greater use of private fire suppresion contrators since their overall cost is much lower than thier govt. counterparts. Since the private contractors are aparently willing to pay for experience much better than any gov. agency currently does it may be that they will soak up many of the best and brightest firefighters and they simply will not be available at govt. rates. I for one do not believe that the govt. agencies involved in fire suppression will quickly mend thier ways and that the legislators will be forced to activly prohibit them from continueing to "subsidise" non-fire related programs with the "new fire funding" everyone sees coming. I have spoken to quite a few fire folks whose first response to the announcement of 100% MEL was that now they could devote some more of the funds they currently spend on fire to other projects...and did not have a clue that legislators veiw this as a diversion of fire funds.

The simplest way for the legislature to ensure that fire funding gets to the fireline is to earmark it to be spent only on contracted fire suppression...and there is already strong bi-partisan support for doing just this. As the funding ramps up to 100% in 2003 the legislature is closely watching how "efficiently" the BIA, BLM, and USFS are at applying it to fire...and with the stroke of a pen can simply turn them into essentilly bean counting contract enforcers. Let's not forget that as much as we bitch about less than 100% MEL funding the reason that legislators have choked on it has been the ineffcient application (from their point of veiw) of that funding due to these agencies penchant for "misaplication"(again from thier point of view) of the fire funds they have gotten in the past.

So...whatever you do DEEFAMO don't tell those "pain in the ass" firefighters that you are not going to employ them next year...until you have actually found thier replacements. You may find you need them and they may already be looking for an employer that listens to what they say...and doesn't treat them like a pain in the ass.

Fireronin

There are some govt employees, however, who are less than competent. Those people should not be promoted even though there will be pressure to do so given declining enrollment. Remember that once in, it is very hard to get rid of someone employed by the govt. We need to maintain high standards. Our lives depend on it. Ab.

10/28 Couple of interesting items:

1) Kates Basin Fatality report
fire.nifc.nps.gov/bia/SAFETY/final_report.php#EXECUTIVE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

2) SIXTEEN (16) new IHC crews will be established this season.

Four New BLM IHC Superintendent Position Announcements on the Jobs Page. (Note: Ab sees only 3 and the URL for the USA Jobs doesn't work. Send in any corrections.)

In addition, the Forest Service will be adding a total of twelve new Type I Hotshot crews in fiscal year 2001. There are three conditions that must have attention for these additional crews prior to their establishment. The first condition is hiring to meet diversity goals, the second condition is investment of little or no new funding in crew facilities, and the third condition is establishment of these crews at a duty station within 2 hour proximity of a jetport. The following list portrays the geographic areas in which these crews will be located:

Northern Region: 1 additional crew
Rocky Mountain Region: 1 additional crew
Southwestern Region: 1 additional crew
Intermountain Region: 2 additional crews
Pacific Southwest Region: 2 additional crews (one will be a helishot crew)
Pacific Northwest Region: 1 additional crew
Southern Region 2 additional crews
Eastern Region 1 new crew
Alaska Region 1 new cost-shared crew
Total 12

These crews need to be established in FY 2001 with the understanding that it may take a year or two additional time to meet the national training, management composition, and experience requirements for geographic area coordinating group certification requirements. Message comes out from the WO, Fire and Aviation Management

Dispatch Dude

10/28 Well folks, it is time to think back a bit. Have you been a pain in the ass to your engine foreman, hotshot sup, jumper squad leader, afmo or fmo. Because we are going to fill more jobs than there are good solid folks available for. On my district we will fill almost 20 jobs. In talking with my AFMO and Suppression Specialist, they would recommend 11 folks off of our existing crew. So think about it. It is a great time of opportunity, but if you have been a pain in the butt, you are going to reap what you sowed. I will let jobs go vacant before I will put a problem child in there. So, if you have been a pain in the you know what, just because you have put in the time there is no automatic to the promised land. If a 13/13 is the promised land. It will be more than interesting to see how this unfolds. It will also be a little scary.

What happens if congress decides we can get by with 70% MEL in 2002? That is the track record. I spent 25 years trying to get an engine foreman on board with a tour. Now with the stroke of a pen I will have 20 folks on tours. I love it, but at the same time it scares me a bit. I have one year to go, so I will be more than happy to help build the empire, and thank god I will not have to be involved in tearing it down if it comes to that, because I think that side of the coin is going to happen. As things are set up, at least we will have the temps to sacrifice to keep our toured folks on board.

I am looking forward to looking at the applications for our jobs. Rest assured the folks are going to get a thorough look over and prior supervisors are going to be called. We will hire the best, and I am sure every FMO in the country is thinking the same thing.

DEEFAMO

DEEFAMO, The implementation of 100% MEL (actually MEL, or full funding at the Most Efficient Level) will not occur until FY 2003. The Forest Service is planning for stepping up to this level over a 3 year period. This is because we do not have enough facilities to house the personnel or the engines that have been budgeted at MEL and we need to train new people, all of which will take time. Congress needs to be committed to funding at MEL in 2003 and working up to that in the interim. While the need for facilities was not anticipated, requests went out last week and some additional money for facilities has already been approved. Hopefully, building up personnel, facilities and equipment over a 3-year period will set a trajectory for success that will not be cut off the following year (FY 2004), although that is always possible in government. Ab.

10/28 NICC's report of 10/27 shows just over 7 million acres, w/ 86,000+ fires, and Rx burns as 1 million+ acres, w/ 3700+ fires. Do Rx burns count seperately, and if not that would mean Y2K has set an all time record since record keeping began. Really awful how this destruction scars the landscape for several generations.

Danny

10/28 We got a notice that a web based Enhanced Outreach System (EOS) has been developed to improve management of all outreach notices generated in Region 5. The web address for this system is http://outreach.fsr5.com. Maybe other regions will be developing such sites. Thanks for posting job info on a jobs page, Ab. Maybe you could link to this, too.

AL

Will do. May the fun begin! Ab.

10/27 JW,

Good question on wheather responsible parties should be billed for fires that turn into a resource management burn. I would say yes! ..If they are found negligent in starting the fire, they should be responsible up to the point to where priorities changed from a total suppression mode to a management burn (or whatever you want to call it). Tax payers $ was spent toward something that they were neglegent in causing.

...and..I meant extreme to the point that they were billing a large fire bill to a private citizen. If you read the origional question way back when, the poster asked if agencies normally bill responsible parties as he/she had never or rarely heard it happening. I posted that article only as an example of where it was being done.

Pulaski

10/27 DT,

In response to your question about what is carried in the packs?
Well everybody is different about what they want to take out on the line with them. The five things you do need are, water, food, jacket, fusee"s ( flares ) and of course, your fire shelter. This year in my pack, I had 2 MRE"s, a thermal shirt, 2 pairs of socks, ( incase you have to cross a creek or two ) a small 1st aid kit, a poncho and 2 emergency blankets, and most important: the roll or two of toilet paper. Those are just a few things you can have in a pack.Someone else may have their own ideas of what they would carry. My pack is Eagle gear and I have no comlaints about it.
I hope this helped in answering your question.

Dennis R5

10/27 So J-Bob, Vinnie, or anyone else, what do you think *ARE* the real issues surrounding use of helicopters vs lead planes? Seems there are some valid points about LP pilot training & retention, and helicopters having comparable use (from the notes at the dir mtg.) Costs are important, but so is safety. I can't believe that NIFC or R5 would knowingly compromise that. Much as we might badmouth em, managers started out like all of us, as groundpounders, smokejumpers or fire people on the bottom rung of the ladder going up. They are us grown up, grown old, or at least more experienced, maybe.

What's really going on here? Are you afraid that the airtankers will be phased out also? I hear they're critical on IA and on fires that are more than 35 mi away. Is a lot of this about change being hard, about people being threatened that they may loose their livelihoods and feeling like what they've dedicated their lives to no longer has value? Todays technology and lower air space complexity must be acknowledged. How do we deal with span of control with the sky being so cluttered on big fires? How do we change in good ways or uncertain ways when change is needed? There is some science on these methosd, but maybe not enough. What is enough?

Acronyms -- here are some that are tossed around: ASM (Aerial Supervision Module), ATCO (AirTanker FixedWing Coordinator), ATGS (Air Tactical Group Supervisor), and HLCO (Helicoptor Coord.) So what if we do need more people with this training? We need more people with Division Sup training on the ground, too. Maybe we just need a committmnt to get good people and have those people get that training and then pay them fairly. Do those working in the ASM need to retire at 55 too? I am very interested in aerial firefighting. What is going on with all this and is it worth pursuing and how?

AL

10/27 Natural (lightning) fires or management ignited fires are the only ones that should be managed for resource benefit. Any unplanned human caused fire should be aggresively suppressed. In BLM The Field Office Manager has the responsibility to recoup suppression costs for any human caused fire, although it is discretionary wether or not a case is pursued. Any money that is charged and collected for suppression of a human caused fire is then distributed to the State Office and local Field Office to be used for Fire Prevention and Education.

lvcdog

10/27 Saw Pulaski's blurb about the fire cost billing in MN and read the news article. Doesn't look extreme to CA folks. A local highway patrol copter pilot is being billed here in N.Cal for a fire that he started while welding on a fence post. Four houses lost etc., etc. Many bills are sent for minor IA as well as large loss. In the '60s Johnny Cash was billed by the USFS for millions for causing a fire on the ANF. A new twist that needs to be thought out is who gets billed for fires that have the strategy changed from suppression to "managed for other benefits". An example is the Plumas's Storrie fire. If you worry about the dooryard burner's pockets in MN, should the Union Pacific Railroad be a convenient deep pocket for changing strategies that use the EFF fund as a resource management tool?

JW

10/27 BC Congrats on your new job. Where in Nevada will you be living? were in Winnemucca, and get to reno quite a bit. would love to get together and compare notes.

WP was digging around the office, and found a package that I prepped to be mailed to you, ran through the postage machine, then had one of my guys mail it. (I thought they mailed it) Point is i mailed it myself today. You should get it fri - sat.

What happened to the Santa Anas? havent heard much bout them this year. So Cal seems eerily slow.

Been fun, later all

eric PW

10/27 Helicopter Leads.

Just where do they propose getting these ATCO's to work from a helicopter? This past fire season only about 6 HLCO positions were filled through NICC because there were not any trained personnel available. This seems like another attempt to confuse the issue.

J-Bob

10/27 Ab,
Thought you might like to see a photo of a new tactical water tender from Targhee Wildfire ready for 2001 fire season. We missed this year by a few weeks. It may be a little homely and not quite as flashy as Lone Tree's Darley Phoenix, but it's built to get there fast, put out a lot of wildland fire and deliver a lot of water about anywhere you want it.
--10x10, 65,000 gvw Osh Kosh chassis
--4,100 gallon baffled, lined steel water tank, spring mounted to chassis. Dual 3 inch belly-draw water ports.
--58,000 gvw fully loaded
--100 gallon fuel tank. Effective 600-mile range (dry) with 20 percent reserve.
--50 gallon Class A foam tank, around-the-pump metered proportioner.
--300 gpm@150 psi Waterous midship pump with DANA hot shift PTO pump and roll.
--335 Cummings with 5x2 Fuller transmission and 3x Rockwell transfer case.
--Top speed, 75 mph. ETC

Ed Wright
Targhee Wildfire (Great Basin contractor), Idaho Falls, Idaho

10/26 Someone asked for the issues surrounding leadplanes to be laid out. Here are some notes on HELICOPTER USE ON LARGE FIRE INCIDENTS from the USFS Fire Director's Meeting in SF earlier in the month (anonymous source).

HELICOPTER USE ON LARGE FIRE INCIDENTS

AERIAL SUPERVISION BY HELICOPTER

  • Best aerial observation platform

  • Better visibility
    Designed for low and slow flight
    Preferred platform for reconniassance and target identification using the unaided human eye
  • When afforded human aided technology, the helicopter observation capabilities are enhanced tremendously
  • The helicopter platform that would act as ASM (ATCO/ATGS/HLCO) would not necesarily need to be a government employee pilot. Flight below 500' is its normal environment and contract pilots are approved for this special use activity. No special flight training would be necessary as this is the helicopter pilots' normal environment.
THE HELICOPTER AS A LEAD PLANE
  • USFS Region 4 evaluated the helicopter as a Leadplane (circa 1996) and was deemed successful although not followed up on
  • Airtanker pilots evaluated the platform as successful in that it had better target identification, better drop evaluatoin and fire lineup (track) especially in smoky, overcast conditions
  • In the early 1980s BLM-BIFC trained and qualified their helicopter pilots as Leadplane pilots using the helicopter as the platform.
    Successfully used by BLM and USFS
    Feedback from the airtanker was the same as the FS R4 evlauation.
  • Although successful, the program did not have a chance to grow due to budget cuts which resulted from the abolishment of the BLM Aviation program in 1983.
HELICOPTER VIS A VIS AIRPLANE AS A LEADPLANE
  • Determination of target identification? Helicopter is excellent in this role.
  • Determination of hazards? Helicopter is excellent in this role.
  • Determination of escape routes? Equal capabilities with airplanes.
  • Determination of visibility/turbulence? Equal capabilities with airplanes.
  • Costs per hour?
    Small Type III helicopter approx $550/hr
    USFS Baron approx $350/hr
  • Overall costs?
    Current LP program is very expensive, retention of pilots is poor, training is lengthy, current hiring procedures/ policies are poor.
  • There will be no flight training costs to the government with contract pilots.
  • The ATCO (not necessarily a pilot) will be in the helicopter during the identification/spotting and the identification/spotting/leading determining the fire tactics (fire expert).
  • The helicopter with ATCO can sit on the ground waiting for the next airtanker to show up. Saves flight time = money
  • Major drawback is speed, yet the theme is large fire and once it is on station and joined by its fuel truck, speed is no longer important. Would not have to fly to an airport to fuel, therefore saving time and money.
    Advantage = Available immediately to the fire. Multiple use.
  • Advantage = ATCO will receive, disseminate, and coordinate information immediately with the incident (in other words living right there at the fire with the IC and staff for face-to-face immediate response.
  • Flight exposure and fatigue can be reduced if there are long delays between airtankers. The helicopter can sit on the ground and observe from a vantage point.
10/26 Readers, here's a second job-related announcement on the JOBS PAGE. When you send these in, please say if you want to remain anonymous, give a location where job-seekers can get more information, and set a date or estimated date when the job closes. Announcements will remain on the site for a month before we delete them. We may choose to delete them on a Friday at 1600 PST for convenience sake. We will not answer questions about jobs, or "tie people in" with each other, as we delete e-mail after posting it. Happy posting. Happy job hunting. Ain't this great! Ab.
10/26 While I don't beleive in stupid questions, this may well border on it.

What is carried in the packs?

To my uneducated observation they seem to be overkill. Granted, I see the need for shelter, water, jacket, flares, lunch. But from the pics I've seen, the packs that everyone carries are larger than needed.

Please educate me.

Also would like to hear comments on pack types and training packs

DT

10/26 I love all the discussions going on right now. The federal wildland fire organizations are dealing with mixed feelings about $$$ coming from on high (FINALLY), and the quandry about how to find people to fill all these jobs.

I know there are many different people who read this web site. (Ab, it's a testimony to the quality and integrity you put into this site...) So, for newbies and wannabies always remember to do this work because it's what you love to do. Sometimes that's the only thing that gets you up in the morning to put your feet in those frickin' cold boots! If you have the good fortune to work closely with a veteran, sit down and ask them why they have done this work for so long. You'll hear things like honor, duty, service, comradrie, espris de corps, great war stories and "I like digging in the dirt"!

In order to fill these jobs the way we're thinking we have to fill these jobs, we're going to tap into folks who don't have as much experience as we're used to. In addition to this, we're losing quality veterans who have coached and mentored many of us in our careers (Hunter are you listening????).

So, we have to be especially careful to make sure we are safe; that we invest in quality training; and develop LEADERS that know what it means to create an environment where people are motivated to give us everything they've got because they know their efforts are appreciated.

These are exciting times folks. The future of our federal wildland fire workforce depends on how much effort we put into recruitment, hiring, and developing technical and leadership skills. Do what you love and love what you do.

FOBSIF

10/25 hey all ! been out of touch for a while because i got hired by ndf. now i have to get my family moved out here (havent seen them since oct 2nd ) and get them settled before fire season. it took me a long time to find a job like this. especially at the tender age of 37 ! i will miss fighting fire in new jersey and left behind a lot of friends. for all of you who keep banging your heads against the wall trying to find work like this-dont give up ! i am proof that if you keep banging on doors and sending out apps, things will come your way. i am lucky that my wife and kids (who are leaving all their friends) are willing to be at my side to chase my dream. be safe and i hope to see you all during next fire season.

BC Davis

ps, i guess i need to find a new name

yeah, how about ... the firefighter formrly known as bc davis? ab sez congrats.

10/25 Ethan,

I believe Randy Unkovich is at Vista Grande Hot Shots now.

To everyone else, I am seriously considering going back to fight fire next season. My question is what do others do for work in the winter. When I was single I could make it through ok, now I have a wife a child and a house payment anyone else out there like this how do you guys and gals do it. My wife has given me the ok cause she knows it's what I love.

J.

10/25 HR 2814 is alive and well !! Can you say good-bye to pay cap ?? I sure can !!

Stand by...
GP

10/25 Hello,

Just wanted to help Ethan in his search. If he is looking for Stan Heinricks, he can find him working for the Nevada BLM on the Carson District. He is the FOS of both Palimino Station and Sparks. Good luck with the rest of his search.

UBear

10/25 Someone asked a while ago about billing for suppression costs...well, it looks like MN is going for the extreme with one of the fires from last week...and with all the air support they have and used, the bill should be a dandy! Article: www.pioneerplanet.com/news/mtc_docs/007718.php

pulaski

10/25 To all firefighters,
God Bless you all for being there for us all, you are truly heroes in my eyes.

Thank you
George W. Varney

You're welcome. Ab.

10/24 Tony,
Nice to hear an experienced line vet agree with me.

Mellie,
I feel honored to be worthy of your "wall of firefighters statements." To answer your question let me relate an experience I had my second year. I was the Crew Boss of a 10 person BD Crew. We were doing an initial attack on a going fire. We had a Type I crew above us and a 10 person DNR crew improving line behind us, a Sector Boss watching from below. Parallel attack, burning line as we go, up a 50% slope with cross slope winds 8-10 gust to 12 (if my memory serves me). First try, the fire spotted over the line and forced us to reverse back to the start point. Second try, new anchor point, same result. Third try, we get way out in front of it and nearly make the ridge at the top. The fire cuts the line between my crew and the DNR crew. They go down to the anchor point, we go into the black, picking our way through to a cooler, less smokey place to wait it out. I told the crew to eat their lunch since we were idle. Air tankers were working the area over pretty good and some red drifted into our position. I got a light coat on my sandwich and water bottle. I told the crew that anytime I get retardant on my food, I do not show a 30 minute lunch break. That is about as philosophical as I ever got in the black.

I totally agree that training is important for the novice, as that is often all they have to fall back on when faced with adversity. Formal training is a start point, a base to begin the qualitative training that takes place on the line. One of the most important concepts I tried to instill in rookies is to be observant, think about what is being observed and remember it. When you draw a line of fire across a burn unit, look back, analyze and mentally record the effects. When a surface fire stands up and surges forward, observe, analyze and record. This trains them to use their heads and build a personal experience database that will serve them well in the future. I think that is maybe a crude and informal "metacognitive schema" process. It appears you have got that pretty well nailed down! Your assessment of the differences between fire behavior in the Great Basin vs the Pacific West is dead on.

Finally, you are correct in saying that exciting times lie ahead. We face a great opportunity and challenge to significantly grow the workforce. My hope is that we, meaning all of us not just managers, recruit, hire, train, embrace, mentor, and develop them all. And maybe not under the old training paradigm. You have some excellent ideas, I know there are others as well. I know the standards folks hate that kind’a stuff, as they like to put training in a can and hermetically seal it until presentation. Sort of a "course in a can" that some find barely palatable.
DM

10/24 I wanted to pass along some sad news. We lost a dear friend and fellow firefighter to cancer at the beginning of September. Mark Whitney was a good friend of mine and gave me my first chance at being a wildland firefighter. I worked for Mark when he was the Helitack Foreman on the Indianola Helitack Crew in 1996 on the Salmon-Challis NF. Before Indianola he worked on the Bridger-Teton and also in California as a Hotshot and probably other places too that I am not aware of. After '96 he moved to New Mexico on the Cibola NF and then to Kern County, CA where he was the Helitack Sup. at Keene up until last year. I will miss his smart ass personality and fall-on-the-ground funny stories. Thanks Mark for giving me a chance.

May the Pink Flamingos carry your spirit forever.

firepup21

10/24 Looking through some photographs I began to reminisce about the years I spent slamming line (what do they say, you remember the hurt, you forget the pain). It gets in your blood and never gets out.

I'm looking for some comrades whom I've lost touch with, specifically anyone who was with Apple Valley Helishots in 1988, or Dalton Hotshots in 1989 and 1990. I would especially like to hear from my saw partner Veg-Man, as well as Ogie, Peach, Junior, Maurice, Mike Csatari, Randy Unkovich, and Stan Heinrichs (who was on a different crew).

If anybody out there can help me in locating these people, it would be appreciated. Just leave a message and I'll check back in a few days.

Keep your chains sharp and your canteens full.
Ethan Estey

10/24 FOBSIF and NorCAL Tom,

Some of the SoCAL GACC folks are away... If you're back today guy and gal, welcome home! We still need ya! Don't know what's up with the north. Maybe just time for a breather in spite of fire risks.

Also, some FS fire folk might be taking a break because R5 and other regions are gearing up for some major personnel, equipment and facilities upgrades working toward 100% MEL (Most Efficient Level of funding) over a 3 year period. That's about as fast as we can do it given the personnel cuts over the past 10 years. Translates nation-wide into training 500 ff per year for 3 years under MEL funding and offering an additional 500 positions next year under funding for PLA (Program Leadership Attrition). Now that we got MEL, don't know what I'm going to rant about! [huge grin]

Thanks for putting up the jobs link, Ab. We're gonna need it! As @ so aptly said, "ya gotta watch out what you wish for" and someone else said, "MEL has spoken". Time to take advantage of opportunity for the safety of us all and the safety of our country. I do hope that you younguns out there prepare yourselves well. It's not too early to be looking into training opportunities.

I would like to work on a training links page for this site, as time permits. If anyone has good training options, both for immediate firefighter training and for those who want to go the university route with fire ecology majors or other fire-related majors, send them to five_waters@hotmail.com or to Ab. (Good link, firepup21.) (If you university types are thinking about just being a biologist, hydrologist, botanist, entomologist, forester, range manager, etc, please think of adding courses that emphasize fire ecology. Our forests and grasslands evloved in the presence of fire. People will be invaluable who know how fire fits into the ecosystem picture and can explain that to fellow scientists and the public. Hey Tiny, whatsup?)

As most of you, I'm also looking forward to a shift in season, a nice fire in the hearth [crackle, crackle crackle] sustained rain coming down outside [drip, drip, drip]. Condusive to working on a training links page. But, we still have sun and the north winds... and the dragon lurking... Take care, my friends.

Thanks Abercrombie. We all love you dearly for the many things you provide, including this forum.
Mellie

ps Sorry Ab, for the length, I got carried away. Wow, what a time of opportunity we live in!

10/24 RE: sit reports, I have no idea what's up with the R5 GACC folks - you'd have to ask them. I definitely don't work for R5 any more (hi FOBSIF and waley with an r). I do know that the NICC kids in Boise couldn't post to the internet over the weeked because of some trouble with the DOI server and system upgrade - which bonked their ability to post stuff. Unless things pick up in a serious way, they'll go back to weekly reports after this week.
.webgoddess..
10/24 I ditto the dismay at having no current Sit Report. And I'm sorry to say that California's GACC web sites aren't great. Web Goddess, where are you when we need you!!!!

Anyway, a little Sit Report from SoCal...

The Angeles and LA City had a mutual aid fire yesterday that went about 50 acres. Ventura County had a 50-75 acre fire in Simi Valley last night. Both were wind driven--north winds, with low humidities. It was a short wind event, so the fires were caught at less than 100 acres.

I don't think anyone who has been in this business awhile really thought the season was over in California. But, you'd never know it by tapping into web sites that are supposed to be our sources for information. I don't remember reading in the Mob Guide that they don't do a Situation Report when we're "only" at Preparedness Level 1.

I bet we can all think of a fire we were on where we were eating rolled turkey in fire camp for Thanksgiving. And last year the Los Padres and Ventura County had a fire over Christmas, and so did LA County near Glendale. And the Angeles had a fire that ended one millenium and started a new one, while they were lining up floats for the Rose Parade!

Pack your long johns. It's ain't over by a long shot!

FOBSIF

10/24 Hey, anyone goin' to the New York Wildfire and Incident Management Academy this weekend and next week? It is at the Brookhaven National Lab in Upton, NY on Long Island. If you're goin' see ya there.

If you are curious they have a website:
www.dec.state.ny.us/website/reg1/acad.phpl

Stay safe out in CA and anywhere else the dragon is still breathing, we'll all be thinkin' about ya.

firepup21

10/23 IS SMOKEY DEAD?

www.fs.fed.us/rm/fire_game/game/topics/notebook1.php

Firescribe

10/23 Strong winds last couple of days, and ta da Fire Season in Northern California. Went to the Hidden Fire on Saturday 10/21/00, as an immediate need strike team. The fire went big quick, did some structure protection no real firefighting. Mostly we sat in the cold wind and protected structures. Upon arriving it looked like we would really have to hustle. The local fire departments, CDF, and USFS held it mostly at Butt's Canyon Road out of Middletown. It jumped the road in one spot and headed south, winds were gusting to 30 or 40 MPH. Hit it heavy with dozers and aircraft early Sunday and had a good handle on it by Sundayafternoon. By last reports the fire was at 4000 acres, don't know about number of crews or engines etc.
Many smaller fires and a few medium size ones to. Oakland had a fire start up were the big burn happen about ten years ago this weekend. Had about 100 acres in the San Jose area and lost one structure.

Just as Yogi Berra said, " It ain't over till it's over."
Keep safe, anything can happen, and usually does.
Local Agency Volunteer Engineer

10/23 We had fires around the SF Bay area yesterday and there wasn't a sit report to be found -- not NORTH, not SOUTH, not NATIONAL. www.nifc.gov/news/sitreprt.phpl still has Saturday's report up!

It's as though everyone thinks fire season is over and we've all gone home. I know we're tired andit's been a long hard summer, but this reminds me of the warning "burnovers often happen under mopup conditions in deceptively light fuels". Let's not let down our guard! The Oakland hills burned during Oct some years ago and we have North (Foehn) winds now, just as they did then. I hear from friends that the MendocinoNF and Six Rivers haven't had enough rain to preclude fire and they have North winds also. We in the Bay Area and north sre still at risk.

This morning the only real news I can find is at www.fs.fed.us/fire/news.shtml unless someone has something to report here. If so, write in!

SoCal, whatsup down there? Do you have Santa Anas yet? Just takes one spark if conditions are right!

NorCal Tom

10/23 Maria,

I hope you get a good response to your request but a bit of advice, some people tend to "embellish" their stories. One way to tell if a firefighting story is true or not is by the way it starts. As you know, fairy tales start out "Once upon a time." A fire fighting story that may have "embellishments" added usually starts out "This ain't no S--T!". I have been in way too many fire camps and have hundreds of stories and a lot of them started out in that manner. Good luck.

WP

10/22 I followed the link to the MNF Job opening. The GS-9 ADFMO is being extended due to lack of appicants. Where are the Captains and FEO's region wide?? Why aren't they putting in? As the old saying goes, "Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way". This is just the beginning. Get your resume's ready folks. The flood gates are about to open.

MEL has spoken.

10/22 Hi
My name is Maria. I am a nurse student from Norway. Anyone interested to share a firefighting story with me?
e-brandr@online.no

Ja, sure, ja. Readers? Maria, there's a good story about viking firefighters at wildfire news. Ab.

10/22 Thanks ALL for your feedback on entrapment and burnover. Sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I was called away unexpectedly to a meeting.

DM, your comments are really helpful. I loved your distinction: "a burnover makes one reflect philosophically, going into the black makes one reflect tactically, or should." (That one joins others on my wall of worthy firefighter statements!) It's clear you have a lot of experience and have thought a great deal about this.

One question: when you were younger and less experienced, did escaping into the black or being run out by fire (albeit along an escape route to a safety zone) make you reflect philosophically at all? Bet it did! I'll bet being able to make the philosophical/tactical distinction is related to a greater knowledge base about fire behavior and safety. I agree with you that experience is the best temper for keeping calm and thinking clearly. I would add that training is equally important for the novice who has few experiences in limited fuel types and terrain. The need for training opportunities and experience with fire for new firefighters will be paramount to maintaining fireline safety as experienced firefighters retire.

Pulaski, good comments. WP, I did see the video of the Crank Fire and several CDF burnovers. SAD...

Tony, as you say, LCES is critical, as are personal and leadership responsibility. However, consider this: what Lookouts, Communication, Escape routes and Safety zones mean to a less experienced firefighter like me and what LCES mean to an experienced veteran can be vastly different. Before beginning a shift, a veteran knows to check the weather report, gather onsite fire behavior info and evaluate it at many levels. A novice might go through the same motions but not know what is important or how to evaluate the whole situation. A novice might not even realize something is lacking in their understanding of the "big picture". I can tell you from my own experience, it's the questions I haven't asked that get me in trouble. For example, where escape routes and safety zones should be placed depends on knowing what the fire is going to do during your shift. A veteran might be able to read the fire or anticipate the fire's behavior on that slope and aspect in that topography and fuel type at that time of day and with those weather conditions. A novice like me may not, unless I have specific experience under similar conditions--or have a good mentor/leader who explains or almost drills their crew. For the inexperienced, a situation that should be only a prudent move into the black or a safety zone can sometimes feel like and be described as a near-miss.

A communication issue related to experience may loom larger as experienced firefighters leave us in the next few years. I hope you overhead have considered this one: Ops may have a plan and feel they have completely briefed DIVS and crews. But some of the crewmembers (and some leaders filling in behind retirees) may be more inexperienced than in the past. Inexperienced groundpounders (new contract crew, new FS FF1, new DNR crew) may indicate that they heard and understood a briefing, but may not really undertand the implications, the watchouts, the effects of changing weather and fire behavior. If they've come to the fire from out of the region, the understanding problems are compounded. They may think they know what's what, but they do not. Fires in the fuels and topography of the Great Basin have their way with you almost daily in contrast to the Big Bar fire that, in retrospect, was pretty predictable overall.

Guess what I'm saying is that the workforce on the fireline is and will be changing dramatically over the next few years. We need to watch communication. We continue to need good accessable training at all levels, but especially at the entry level up through the DIVS level. I know more training (JAC academy) is planned. At the entry level, we especially need training that "learns new people up" about safety and fire behavior in the most efficient and logical ways. S130 and S190 are a start. LCES is better as a mneumonic (than FIREORDERS): it is shorter and has a reasonable focus for those trying to remember important information. (People are able to keep only 3 to 7 items in short term memory. 10+18 is too many!) From my experience, these two basic classes are "booklearning" lists of information. In my opinion, what would be more helpful is development of and training in a "metacognitive schema" or more logical approach for survival on the fireline-- and an integration of some live fire experiences. In the past we have had the luxury of a mentoring process. We have had more time to gain experience. Today learning time grows shorter and the crunch is upon us. We don't have enough experienced CRWB, STCR, STDZ, STEN and DIVS firefighters who can mentor us...

We also need people gaining the experience with fire. More Type I crews that work together every day and who see lots of fire get more experience. I hear that's in the works too. Sounds good to me! Exciting times afoot!

Mellie

10/22 -- The Arizona Republic has a special package report today on the fires of 2000, called THE BURNING SEASON, and it rocks.

www.arizonarepublic.com/wildfire/

k-bob

10/22 Hello to all,

I am writing in behalf of my town's volunteer fire deptment. I am a city councilwoman and our volunteers do not have enough equipment to operate with. I am searching high and low trying to find coats, boots pants anything that these men can use in their work. We are a very small town in East Tn. We live in Oakdale very remote area and we depend on our volunteers to do the best they can do. We have limited funds. If anyone can help or knows where I can get items donated, please let me know. You can e-mail me at the following address vep@highland.net. Please could someone out there give me some help? Thank-you for reading my note and take care and be safe.

Vera Pugh
Oakdale City Council
Oakdale,Tn. 37829

10/21 So as not to clog up theysaid, we're starting a new job announcements page to handle the wildlandfire openings that will be coming out over the next year. We'll put up a permanent link to it sometime this week. For those interested, here's the first JOB ANNOUNCEMENT.
Ab.
10/21 Just want to drop a note. A 30 year wildland firefighter passed away last weekend at home. He was only 49, just 4 months shy of his 50th. Larry Anderson started with the old 1973-78 helishot crew's on the Los Padres. He was on the Redding Hotshots in 1979 and on the Plumas since then. He ran handcrews, engines, worked in prevention and was the best damn eyes in the sky a groundpig would ever wish for.

We miss you, you cranky old f--k.

GP

10/20 Mellie,

I have not responded to your questions concerning burnover, I wanted to see what kind of response you got from others. What I have seen has been pretty good. But may I suggest that you take a look at two training videos that will give you a feel for a burnover situation. The videos should be available from your local CDF or USFS training people, they are both in the NIFC catalog. They are: Wenatchee Heights Burnover and the Crank Fire Burnover. There is a third video out there that was taken in 97 or 98 in Idaho by a FS film crew. At this time I can't locate the video or remember the name but maybe someone out there can help. The particulars were: Several crews, overhead and engines were forced to retreat to a small airfield while the fire passed around them. Although one would think that it was a burnover situation, it was not. The three video's may not answer all your questions but you may get another perspective of burnover.

Hope this helps.
WP

10/20 DM, Your comments of 10/14 to Mellie regarding the burnover question are right on time, well put and address the issue with extreme clarity. The basics(LCES), personal responsibility and the responsibilities of running a crew are three common denominators of staying safe. Your post is worth revisiting by every firefighter from the first year firefighter to the thirty year veteran. Thanks.......Tony (formerly @SBA)

This just fell out of the server. Ab.

10/20 "Blessed are they who protect property by bestowing it with the water of life, for they will be called Fire Fighters."

- Anonymous

10/19 Been having trouble with the server and getting messages posted to the board. Hope all is well now. New logo of the International Helicopter Firefighters Association from JE. NICE.

Ab.

10/19 Well, according to the Air Tanker Board the lead plane issue is taking the turn I predicted. Air Tanker Board

Vinnie

10/19 I Dont know any details, but CDF-NYP dispatch just (Oct 18, 1500) made an annoucment that an engine was burned over on a 100 acre, at 1500pst, fire. With 3 MINOR, thank god, injuries. The fire is in TCU. Whats up with the burn overs this year? I maybe, prolly am, wrong but it seems to me Ive been hearing about more burnovers this year than in past years, if this is right, is it heavyer fuels, or lack of concentration on the crew's parts. Just wondering. I'm not flaming the great firefighters in the USA.

DKJ

10/17 I am a Natural Resource major at Washington State University and I am writting a paper on Wild Fire Investigation. I would apperciate any links to where I can find some information an this topic. I work as an engine leader for WA DNR so I have some information but not enough.

Thanks,
Jeff

10/17 Hi AB!

Well, it has been an interesting fire season to say the least. Although this was my first year serving as a relief fire lookout, I learned so much about what goes on during a fire. After what was a very shaky beginning for me and the poor folks who had to teach me all that I learned, I now know the difference between cloud-to-cloud lightning and what lookouts actually are supposed to log in, which is ground to cloud or cloud to ground. LMAO I also learned that sometimes what looks like smoke, can also be equipment, pollen clouds, road dust from vehicles and even dirt devils. LOL IT makes me still laugh as I write this. I think that I also learned how tight the network is between all of the lookouts around each other. If somebody doesn't check in or isn't heard on the radio, somebody is calling to check on ya right away.

Of course I think that being the new person, I may have asked too many questions, which may have raised some brows a few times, but in the end, we all learned a little more about each other.

Thanks for such a wonderful experience. The sunsets alone were almost worth the wear and tear on me and my vehicles. LOL I loved watching the wildlife as well. To my superiors and everybody else out there, keep on doing what you do and never give up the fight. Stay dry and stay safe and hope to see ya again next season.

DEE

10/17 Vinnie,

DEMO positions allow management to hire the most qualified person for the job, especially if they are not currently employed by the agency doing the hiring. It is not intended to allow hiring of only minorities or women. However, if the best qualified person is a minority or a woman, I say "more power to them"! It's time for agencies to start hiring on quals. and not skin color or gender!

Has anyone heard more about the helicopter crewmembers who were taken hostage in South America (Ecuador - I believe)? The media has been poorly tracking this story with the Middle East crisis going on. Any additional information would be appreciated! -

- Craig

There was an article at the FS news site when it first happened. Anyone know anything else? Ab.

10/16 Well Mellie, for what its worth here is my 2cents worth on your burnout/entrapment question.

Sometimes its like, is it a backfire or burnout?...taste great or less filling? But then other times its pretty clear. One thing for sure is that quite often, especially if you are working direct, the black is at least one option for a safety zone. If you are working a fire and need to retreat to a predesignated safety area it is neither a burnover or entrapment (and a saftey zone is not a saftey zone if you need to deploy!). You did the right thing! ...planned ahead and made a tactical decision based on the behaviour of the fire for the saftey of your personnel. However, if you are in a situation where no escape routes or saftey zones are planned, or the planned routes & zones are no longer viable, it may be considered an entrapment or burnover, even if no one deploys. In any event a situation like that is one that needs to be reported and discussed openly as to avoid similar situations in the future.

...since you asked... there was one time that I had to dodge flames in the cab of the dozer I was operating. It was in light fuels (open wetland) and a change in fuels was funneling what winds there were through an area I was heading toward. I was merrily going long with only 1-2 ft flames and one trac "in the black" when all of a sudden it changed to 4-6 ft flames. I did not notice or realize why the behviour changed until after when I looked at the big picture, but at the time I did as I was trained, I turned into the black. I neither considerd it a burnover or entrapment, but I sure did talk about it afterward.

Unfortunatly all to often "we" get in to the blame game (dont get me wrong, if someone seriously screwed up they should face consequences) instead of openly discussing what happened and learning so that it is not repeated.

ok, thats enough for now...later

pulaski

10/15 Greetings Ab,

        I'm no personnel expert by any means, but I do have a couple comments on resumes, hiring, and the very near huge increase of new permanent or semi-permanent firefighting positions.

        First, if you've been scanning the "usajobs" site and haven't seen anything near where you want to work, just have a little patience. There will soon be hundreds of entry level jobs announced nationwide. With the recently announced increased budgets for the federal wildland fire suppression agencies, there will be more jobs than there are expected to be applicants. Those of you who have visited usajobs recently may be aware of a new feature available wherein you can initiate and complete a resume "online". You can save the resume on the server, and even better, you may submit the completed application electronically. It doesn't get much easier than that. I heard that any resume you complete online will remain for three months, then be deleted if you haven't updated it. Can't address that part but sounds about right.

        Now for a couple of ideas of how I view how the agencies will attempt to begin filling the new vacancies. The first place they will look is within their existing temporary employee pool for candidates who've shown leadership skills and begin accelerating their development. There are a couple ways I'm aware of where I'm from to convert a temporary employee to permanent. One is by advertising the job as a "demo" position and the other is by sending candidates to the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program. I don't know much about it other than what I've seen here: pub4.ca.blm.gov:80/caso/fireapprenticeinfo1.phpl I was looking for the Forest Service version, but couldn't find out anything about it on the 'net. Maybe they are combined with BLM, I don't know, but I'm sure some other readers will.

        Regarding resumes and what to use or what not to use. In my humble opinion, the SF-171 is OUT. It never was any good and the only reason it still exists is because some oldtimers (like me) know how to navigate it or have it digitized. Doesn't mean they ever liked it, even if they still use it for their own applications. The most important part of any application is and how the applicant addresses the "Evaluation Criteria".

        I recently agreed to be part of an evaluation committee, which means I spent two days scrutenizing applications and recording their "strengths & weaknesses". You must understand this can be an extremely arbitrary and negotiated process among the participating panel. On this panel I had the most fire experience and was considered the "subject expert". There was another member who also had a current fire background and another who virtually knew NOTHING about fire. Good mix as far as I could see. The person who knew nothing about fire had good input and noticed things me and the other fire person tended to overlood.

        I also should admit I'm not an expert "panel sitter" since the last one I agreed to be included in was around 14 years ago. The "Consent Decree" was in full swing during that time and I was so angered by the Forest Supervisor who gave the job to the lowest qualified person that it took me until now to finally agree to be part of another. Why waste my time when the outcome was pre-determined according to Washington required diversity goals? Anyway, I digress, but my point is that on this last panel, it was once again very noticeable that each appliant had attended the same formal training courses. They all had very similar experience and were all at about the same level of red carded quals and experience. So what made some of them stand out?

        The main thing separating the leaders from the crowd from my perspective were their extra-curricular (non employer sponsored activities or education) experiences. Let's imagine you are an assistant engine operator and you are applying for a Captain position. Every other assistant engine operator across the nation applying for the same job most likely has the same level of agency-provided training and no doubt they have all had some Captain experience from one detail or another. Ya gott'a separate yourself from the herd! You don't neccessarily have to have a degree in fire science to become noticable (it helps), but what you should show is that you are not satisfied with being AVERAGE and will go out of your way to obtain additional knowledge and/or skills to improve yourself.

        One last note and I quit. When you are addressing the evaluaiton criteria. Do:

  • Be brief, don't quote the criteria statement and just say that yes, you have the experience.
  • Provide one or two of the most impressive examples of your experience pertaining to the criteria.
  • Break down the criteria into individual components and address them separately. Many times they are run-on sentences. Address each part of each criteria individually. Make specific responses to each part.
        Good hunting!
        Ramble
10/15 I am interested in your career and I need to interview a wild land fire fighter. Can you help me?
DCLOHECY@oswego.org

Anyone want to help this kid out? Ab.

10/15 The rest of MOC4546 logos are on moclogo2. Ab.
10/15 The following legislative alert from Pat West was sent in by DC. Ab.

As expected, Thursday the Senate approved a version of the FIRE Act included in the FY 2001 Defense Authorization Act (HR 4205) by a vote of 90-3. The legislation now goes to the President's desk, where he is expected to sign it.

The bill would authorize $100 million in grants to fire departments in FY 2001 and $300 million in FY 2002. Volunteer, paid and combination departments are all eligible for the program. Instead of going through the states, the money will go directly to local fire departments-to your fire department perhaps.

But unless members of the fire service collectively take action in the next week, that funding may never materialize. The bill only "authorizes" Congress to spend the money; until the funding is "appropriated" there will be no money in the account.

"Before the fire service can begin filling out the forms for a grant, Congress must first deposit money into the account," as Bill Webb, executive director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) explained in a statement issued Friday. "And with only two weeks before adjournment, time is not our ally. For this reason, the fire service must reenergize itself and begin making phone calls to their local representatives."

If you want to get those grants, you need to call on Congressional members again next week and ask that the appropriators request $100 million in funding for the grant program. "Otherwise, you will find yourself trying to draw water from a dry well," says Webb.

Currently, the Congressional Fire Caucus Leadership (CFSI) is addressing this issue with the members of the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Veteran's Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and other independent Agencies. This subcommittee has the responsibility for funding FEMA. CFSI encourages the fire service to contact the members of these subcommittees (see list below) and urge them to support the $100 million for the program.

Once the president signs the legislation and if Congress appropriates money for the program, it will take FEMA several months to establish the system for administering the grants. Periodically check the CFSI web site (www.cfsi.org) for up dated information on these initiatives.

Rather than including this whole post on the board, you can go here for a list of VA/HUD Subcommittee members and simple and direct directions on how to reach them via e-mail or a phone call; and info on FIRE ACT BREAKDOWN categories and proposed budget (including Grant Program, Study of Fire Dept. Needs, VFA Program, Burn Research, Hepatitis C, and DOD Technology).

Pat West
Telephone: (919) 550-1053
E-mail: patwest@firefighting.com

10/14 Ab & All

Just wanted to let you all know of the National Memorial Service for fallen firfighters held last week in Emmitsburg, MD. The memorial service was for all firefighters who died in line of duty in 1999. Here in R3 we lost a young firefighter last year on the La Jolla fire. Whether as a mark of respect for him or for all the fallen firefighters, an Honor Guard from the San Bernardino NF attended the Memorial Service.

Details of the Memorial Service can be found at Firehouse.com.

Whether it is structure or wildland we are losing to many firefighters (one is to many), remember you are mortal and be safe out there. You are engaged in a war and your enemy has no qualms about taking your life.

Fitch

10/14 Mellie,

You have posed some excellent and timely questions. Allow me to take a quick stab at a few of them from my perspective:

A burnover constitutes an untenable situation where there is a high probability of injury and therefore requires additional protective measures, e.g. use of a fire shelter, diving behind a log, crawling into a culvert, squatting behind an vehicle, lying next to a dozer, etc.

Moving into the black, moving to a safety zone or executing a line reversal to an anchor point, are precautionary measures taken to prevent the situations mentioned above. The big difference between the two is the level situational control. If I have to move a crew to a safety zone, I am in control of the situation and the outcome. If a crew or an individual has to initiate additional protective measures, control of the situation becomes tentative and the outcome is usually uncertain. You can also think about this way, a burnover makes one reflect philosophically, going into the black makes one reflect tactically, or should.

I have found that a good gauge of the experience level of a firefighter is in how they use terms and how they relate experiences. How many times have you heard something like. "the fire is crowning out up here", and it turns out a tree or two torched. The same applies when things get a little tight, people get excited which can often skew their perceptions. Sometimes those misperceptions can have significant consequences, hence the Fire Order ...keep calm, think clearly... Experience is the best temper for that.

I can recall incidents where a crew or an individual has gotten in a bind and "dumped on the overhead." And there are times when the overhead should take or share the blame, but to allow incompetent overhead, or poor maps, or unclear objectives, or whatever, to put you or your crew in a situation where safety is seriously compromised is irresponsible. When I was running crews, I felt very strongly that I and I alone was responsible for the safety and welfare of my people. That was my primary job and I never relinquished that to anyone.

I believe that when a burnover/entrapment/deployment incident occurs, the hosting unit or Line initiates an investigation and a board of review. I have never been involved in one of those types of incidents, but I have been indirectly and directly involved in fatality incidents (aircraft), and that is what happens. I am not sure about filing a safecom on a burnover, which indicates that the overhead blew it off. It happens. Maybe others can better address that issue?

DM

DM, good comments. Let me add my 2 cents worth. A burnover suggests entrapment whether shelters are deployed or not. An entrapment signifies there was no escape route and inadequate knowledge of the fire behavior or activity. Serious charges to those in responsible positions. Ab.

10/14 DLD,

If you have been in personnel for 20 years, you should KNOW that one does NOT need a degree to fill a professional series position. All that is required is to meet the core classes as defined by OPM. Also on the DEMO positions, it is my experience that they are used to bring in minority or females only to fill those positions. Your second to last sentence says it all. That is where management is able to to do as they please.

Vinnie

10/14 Thanks for posting. Really, if I see anything in budgets, it's that there is going to be a lot of fire tech jobs opening up nation wide in the next year; some with firefighter retirement benefits, some without. Lower grades will have primary fire retirement benefits. Some secondary. If I was still looking to a Forest Service Career, which I'm not, I would not let having to come in at a lower grade be an over-riding thing--the FS will loose most of it's existing tech force in the next 5 years--opportunity is there like never before!

db

10/14 Hey thanks to the personnel folks for responding. Good advice. A couple more questions though. (Someone let me know if this personnel stuff is too off topic from fire and I will hush up)

Now that there are other options (resume, OF612) instead of the SF171. In general which format do the personnel folks prefer? I have heard a couple stories that many of the "old timer" personnel people prefer the SF171 since they are used to it. Is this true? Or is a neatly formatted resume better?

As far as answering KSA's: Sometimes it seems like you could write a whole page or two for each one. I am wondering how much is too much when answering KSA's (of course this depends on the question) I am guessing that a line or two is definately not enough.

My final question (and I promise it will be the final one). When you see a job announcement you want to apply for, and you are a little unsure of exactly what is being emphasized, is there anyone you can call to ask about that specific announcement? Can you find out who the person is who will be rating that job? I have always wanted to talk to the very person who is going to look at my application in order to see which formats etc. they prefer.

It seems that this is the most critical step and if you can't get through this part of the process then you are out of luck and it dosen't make a damn bit of difference if you had beers with the FMO last season. It seems like you do better to be schmoozing the personnel dept. instead.

firepup21

10/13 RE: THE PERSONNEL QUESTIONS BELOW,

I've been in Personnel over 20 years doing staffing, classification and employee relations. Most of my FS career in staffing has dealt with primarily three staffing tools: Internal Merit Promotion, lateral reassignments (those already with a FS appointment), and DEMO. Laterals are simple - moving from one grade/series to the same grade/series. Qualifications vary from one staffing tool to another; however, thru Merit Promotion and thru DEMO, it's fairly simply lined out on HOW one qualifies for a particular series/grade. DEMO is more flexible with the qualifications than the Internal Merit Promotion system. This is primarily due to the goal of reaching non-government (new blood) individuals and thus making the FS more diverse organizationally. Internal Merit Promotion requires a positive education for all professional series, e.g. GS-486-12 Wildlife Biologist needs a 4-year degree in Wildlife or a relative degree in that discipline. For technical, administrative and clerical positions, qualifications are usually one year of specialized experience at the next lower grade. Combinations of experience and education are applicable and also vary on the series applied toward. How specialized experience is interpreted varies. I can't speak for the acting Ranger, but my guess is that this person was in a technical series (not requiring the degree) and the position was advertised with a professional series. Again, without knowing the details, this is a wild sketchy guess at best on my part. And yes, it's very frustrating for those of us who are trying to get in with the government or trying to move on to another career. We are dealing with rules, regs, and some limited flexibility. What can make it more challenging/confusing is the differences in the interpretation of these rules/law by the personnelist or particular organization. Don't know if this helped - but for what it's worth, that's my 2 cents.

DLD

10/13 Some good articles at the FS news site.

BLM has a F&A Image Library of almost 600 fire and aviation pictures ranging from firefighters at work to aircraft and engines. Click on the thumbnail to bring up the info on the pic and then click on the solitary thumbnail to bring up the larger image. These are good for customizing powerpoint presentations.

The House and Senate Conference Committe on the Interion Appropriations bill submitted their final report to Congress. The House passed it on Sept 29 and the Senate is expected to pass it any day. Here is the report of Art Johnston, the Legislative Chairperson, Forest Service Council, National Federation of Federal Employees. Several noteworthy lines out of context to peak your interest:
..."recommendation for conversion of temporary seasonal employees to permanet seasanal status in order to encourage workforce retention.
"Concern remains high on growth of the WO and the lack of funds to the field."

Firescribe

10/13 To the person looking for the job related hotshot link, it's back up. Ab.
10/13 Hi all-

I finally got internet access at home again, which has made my day and probably my month (it's good to be back in touch with the world...) Here's some thoughts...

I found a survey for Federal employees about the Federal Wildland Fire Policy Review on the main NIFC web page. Unfortunately, I just recently found it, and it is due by October 15. The good news is, it can be completed online. Here's the address for NIFC's page:

www.nifc.gov

Here's My Personal Opinion on the best way to track down jobs (in response to firepup21's questions. I guess it's more of a general advice list...

1. In my mind, the best way to find out about Federal jobs and get them is to start at the "Current Job Openings" page on the USA-Jobs site (http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/a.php), and to search for fire jobs by series (0462 or 0455) or by agency (US FWS, USFS, NPS, BLM, or Dept. of Ag & Dept. of Interior).

2. Look at the job announcements, and get a feel for what the qualifications are.

3. Develop a killer application that sticks out from the rest. Follow the Optional Form 510 and make a huge resume if you don't want to follow the conventions of the SF-171 or the OF-612. This can be better, because your own format may be easier to read than the standard forms. A personnel person I recently heard a talk from gave these tips: Remember to use lots of descriptive words (plus good grammar, and good descriptions), include the number of hours worked per week (or it won't count) even if it was volunteer work, and make sure to include all the information that is asked for. She also said to include only information that is relevant to the job you are applying for, and to answer the KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities, aka KASOCS) asked for in the announcement rather than using a set you developed for another application.

4. If you don't have the training, skills, etc., get it. Figure out what it takes to move up, what the requirements are for each grade level, and try to meet them. This may take a while, or some serious finnagling (is that a word?).

5. Don't be afraid to apply for jobs you're not entirely sure you're going to get. It doesn't hurt to apply (although you don't want to clog up personnel processes if you're not serious). When I first started applying for Federal jobs (in '92), I had no idea what I was doing. After sending out a bunch, figuring out what I screwed up, improving, and finally getting the offers I wanted (after a few seasons), I figured out the process.

6. It appears as if most federal hiring processes rely heavily on rating applications. It doesn't seem to matter in many, many cases how many phone calls you've made and letters you've written. I've been hired for 6 federal jobs (and offered many others), and for most of those, I was hired because I was the next person down on the rating list.

The bottom line, in my mind, is that, antiquated or not, we are not going to change the federal application process. Supposedly the government is the largest employer in the US, and responsible for 1/3 of the GNP. So, the best way to go is to learn the game and play it well.

Okay, enough blabbering from me. I only have my experience to go on, and I'm sure others have different opinions. Good luck to everyone for the upcoming season, and let's hope they offer more than just 13/13s. Seems like it would be nice to have some more security with all this money we're supposedly getting.

Take care all...
rochelle (back just temporarily)

The Federal Wildland Fire Policy Review Survey was mentioned on the site before but is worth mentioning again. Fill it out if you haven't already. Ab.

10/12 don't know if 100% MEL will really happen but the Mark Twain NF in missouri has finished outreach for 12 fire techs 13/13 positions. Vacancy announcement should be out real soon. Intentions are to have on board by spring fire season (like feb- march 2001). Plus look for a couple of GS 9 FMOs (one in the next month) 2 more to follow + about a half dozen GS 7 fire techs sometime in the next year. Need to like a diversity of work like old dog said or need not apply
DB
10/12 Old Fire Guy,

I think your last post will be music to many ears, including mine. I am wondering when you say "start knockin' on doors" what the most appropriate method would be?

Would you suggest:

  • Letters to districts you are interested in working at followed by a phone call?
  • Just phonecalls?
  • Just letters?
It seems to me that sometimes it doesn't matter how many FMO ears you grab, if you can't make it through the bean counters in the personnel office and get yourself on a cert. then its hopeless.

(A friend of mine, spent 7 years a seasonal ranger, they made her job permanent, she applied and it turns out the personnel "folks" (whoever they are) told her she was not qualified. Now how can someone who has been doing a great job for 7 seasons not be qualified?)

Sorry for the tangent, but it is frustrating. I guess I am wondering what the best tactics are for acquiring one of these "foot-in-the-door" jobs. I am willing as are many of my fellow crewmembers to put in the 13/13 time, it just sometimes seems futile with the archaic gov'ment hiring process.

Thanks ahead of time for any advice you can offer. I would also love to hear from some of those mysterious "personnel people" if any are out there listening.

firepup21

10/12 Okay......some of the dialogue here indicates many of our seasonal firefighters are chomping at the bit for a chance for a permanent position.

It's coming! Congress is expected to approve funding for full MEL this year. A huge increase in fuels management is also in the works. Both are tied to accomplishments this year. That means the acres have to be treated by the end of September 2001. It also means that we will need a massive hiring of 13/13 appointees by spring. One number circulated is 1500 firefighters. Most of these will be primary or secondary firefighter positions. There will not however be a separate firefighter "series" created. Some forests will likely extend working these positions to nearly full time to meet other resource objectives.

Those of you who don't want to work in a "forest technician" (462) series and don't want to mark timber, do trailwork, or maintain campgrounds in the off-season should ignore this opportunity. Others who want the "foot-in-the-door" opportunity should beat feet to their nearest FMO and let them know that you are interested! Also keep a watch on the OPM job vacancy web-site. One eastern forest is already doing outreach for twenty four 13/13 positions. Opportunity knocks, but it won't kick down your door and drag you into a career. We're going to be looking for a lot of good people. Hope you are among them.

Old Fire Guy

10/12 I know that Drews Boots web page has some of this seasons fire tee's still for sale!
mike
10/12 I need some answers to the following questions. I think I know most of the answers, but maybe not.
  • What exactly constitutes a burnover, say in contrast to being run out or having to jump or move a vehicle into the black?
  • Does it always suggest entrapment and no safety zone and using a shelter or at least pulling one out?
  • If someone says an incident is a burnover what does that imply? How does it differ from, say, simply using the black for a safety zone while the fire burns around, or moving up and down a line, as we do when a fire makes runs at it, establishing new anchor points and working anew from there?
  • How might the same incident appear differently as a potentil "burnover" to an experienced vs an inexperienced firefighter? Any real-life examples? Where might definitions differ based on experience?
  • Are firefighters careful to use the term "burnover" correctly? It has very negative connotations with serious implications for the overhead team.
  • Is "burnover" ever put out as a rumor in camp as a way of dumping on the overhead or simply because someone needs something to whine or tell war stories about?
  • How does safenet investigate rumors of burnovers and entrapments? If we report them to safenet, do the overhead just get slammed or is there really a fair hearing? What is the investigative process? To some degree, does simply raising the question imply overhead lack control and potentially damages their reputation?
I could profit from hearing discussion on these questions from those of you with greater fire experience. As usual, I've laid out about 10 issues. Sorry about that, I still have lots of questions. This seems timely since we have had at least one media report of burnover that wasn't really a burnover and we've heard some reports of narrow escapes on the board and haven't heard the other side.

Just wondering,
Mellie

10/12 i was at mt, id, and tx during this years fires. every damn time we would reassigned the tee shirts would come out. iam tryin to find the dealers who carry them. saw one that was "the world class fire fighter" shirt. if you have info how get or contact a vender please let me know.
thanks
blrock 212
heliattack fuel truck driver

There was discussion of tshirt vendors and addresses at the beginning of the month. Scroll all the way to the bottom or check the last archive (end of Sept). Ab.

10/11 More logos from MOC and their descriptions on mocLogo Page 1. If anyone has more info or anecdotes, send 'em in. Ab.
10/11 JG,

Your simple question does not have a simple answer. Charging for suppression or EMS can be controversial. There are a lot of factors to consider, depending on which state the person who answers your question is from- you could get 50 different answers. My suggestion to you is that you study your states' laws and see what is allowed. Then go to your governing board and make a proposal as to a fee schedule and when to enact said fees. You need to ensure that what ever is decided it is put into policy and administered fairly to all who receive services.

The state I live in the law provides for a "milliage" or tax to be placed on the VALUE of IMPROVEMENTS on any property for the support of a Fire Protection District. An improvement is a house or building but can be a paved driveway on an empty lot, if the assessor placed a value on it, the milliage is applied. The law also allows for charging for services in certain circumstances, negligence is one. Not all FPD do charge for services, some do and some don't. As most of the FPD's are volunteer in my state, they find it is a large task to bill and even more difficult to collect. In my state the DNR routinely charges for wildland fire suppression if negligence is involved. Mostly it is done when a permitted burn escapes and it is found that the "burner" has not followed the conditions of the permit. This is a very simple synopsis of the law but I hope it give you an idea how the law works in other states.

WP

10/11 For those of you that might be interested, a link to the report by US Fin and Feather. Re: Hanford fire. It is in PDF format.
Hanford Report

WP

10/11 I'm looking on information on policies or general opinions on whether to charge fire suppression costs to citizens. I live in rural Maine serviced by volunteer fire departments and one chief said his community never charges and others have told me they have. Legally, they can charge if the fire isn't extinguished and the fire department is called.

When I spoke to the dispatcher of another town, she said, "One lady called us because she couldn't put out the fire and we charged her for it". A member of Search and Rescue (for another safety field) said their policy is to never charge for their services because people will wait until it's too late before they call for help if they think they will be billed for it.

I'm looking for what the consensus, if there is one, as to what the industry as a whole thinks of this, and, or policies.

Thank you for your time,

J.G.

10/11 Stu,
Didn't see the picture with your post. Here's your good warning up again with photo. Also posted Keith's GA crew and dozer to the  Equipment2  page.
Ab.

Stu's message:
Colorado Memorial photo reminder, it isn't over yet! Don't forget the basics!
Stu

10/10 This came from a city dispatch center, changed one or two words to make it fit wildland a bit better. I can relate to most of it.

YOU KNOW YOU'VE BEEN A DISPATCHER TOO LONG WHEN.....

You spend more on fast food than on utilities
You answer your home phone dispatch
You answer your dispatch phone with "hell" instead of hello
The only thing that gets your adrenaline going is the walk to and from your car

You find humor in the engine crews mishaps
You're only happy if you have something to complain about
You consider patience a weakness, not a virtue
Your dog doesn't recognize you and the kids think you're just the person who stops by every now and then to bring groceries and do the laundry

You truly believe that stupidity should be painful
You ever had to put the phone on hold so you could laugh hysterically
Dinner consists of a 2 liter bottle of soda and whatever you can scrounge from the vending machine
Family members comment about how "nice" you used to be before you started this job

You believe in the aerial spraying of Prozac and/or birth control over certain parts of the region.
You can carry on more than 4 conversations simultaneously
You can resume a conversation 4 hours later in mid sentence and everyone knows what you are talking about
You have the bladder capacity of a water tender

You get impatient listening to people relate a story; you just want the facts
You believe that 90% of people can't look up a phone number
You can talk on the phone, listen to the radio and type requests into the computer at the same time without missing anything

You can relate a 10 minute story over a 2 hour time period, after many interruptions without losing your place
You see stress as a normal state of life
You refuse to allow anyone to say "have a quiet shift"
You know the phone number of every restaurant or business that delivers food, especially late at night

You can only tell time on a 24 hr clock
You acknowledge your friends and family's remarks with the time
You spell everything phonetically, even when you're not at work
You work an 8 hour shift and you consider it "half a day's work"
You can have lunch break for 30 seconds outside of the office if you time it while sitting on the toilet

Source/author unknown
WP

Thanks, WP, these are very good. Ab

10/10 I think pay scale should be the same as food servers think they should make for serving us food. Food servers think they should get 20 to 25% of what their meal they serve is worth. How much is the forest you help save worth? I for one would love to get 25% of that! HoWee that would be sweet. Boy do we get ripped off!

Old FEMF but not as old as some.

10/10 Valley Guy,
I also remember the Mk 26 pump and used to carry one in our crew rig all the time. It was a great pump for it weight and size. But, that high strung Rotax engine had a tendency to shoot pistons into orbit which, I think, lead to it's demise.

DM

10/10 Joe Triolo

I personally like the Mark 26 portable pump. Its a scaled down version of the Mark 3 and is several pounds lighter. They don't make it anymore but you can probably find one at the MNICS cache. Our crew purchased a Gorman-Rupp backpack pump earlier this year and put it to use this summer. The crew thought it was a real workhorse and used it to pump a hoselay in the Sierra high country for 36 hours. One problem is that you get a cheesy fuel tank with it. We modified the pump to take the 5 gallon jerry can system of the Wajax units. We also purchased a Hydro-Wick 250 that we loaned out to another agency this summer. I heard that the HW 250 went out with their hotshot crew and used it alot with few complaints. Haven't heard much good about the Mini-Mark but then again its not in the same class as a Mark 3 or a Shinidawa GP25.

Valley Guy

10/10 MOC, I'm VERY impressed! Hey Doug, why dontcha take some pictures of all the stuff on your fence? Dincha hang some old signs up there? And ask your ninety+yr-old ff dad about some of these logos. We need some fire stories from the REAL oldtimers. Use that tape recorder. I'll transcribe them. Same goes for the rest of you OLD geezers. And no Hunter, I don't think yer old enough! Just kiddin'. If you wanta tell it, I'll try to get it into shape. [chuckle][HUG] Mellie
10/10 Joe Triolo,

If you are looking for a pump you can carry to the fire, consider other pumps than the MK-III. It is awful heavy to be carried very far by one person and except for a few refinements you are dealing with a pump that was invented in the 1950's. There are pumps out there that will come close on the performance scale and are lighter. The Hale FyrPak comes to mind. Good performance, much lighter and comes with an integrated packframe. Excellent pump for hauling into fires some distance from the nearest road.

USDA puts out a publication with lots of info on pumps, engines and other waterhandling equipment. Get a copy and look thru it. Main thing is, alot has happened since the MK-III came out almost 50 years ago. Check it all out.

Firehorse

10/09 Posted some logos from MOC4546. He sent in a lot, maybe 42 of them, 2 pages worth. I'm posting a quarter at a time so as not to overload myself with work. Take a look at mocLogo1. Have also put in a mocLogo2 page that is currently empty, but will be busy building it over the next 10 days. Thanks to MOC for sharing.

Some of these logos come from old signs, some from patches. Some are older, some more recent. All are from R5 except the MN one that I'll put up in the next batch. If anyone has any stories to tell about these logos, please send them in. The antique FS ones are variations on a well-known theme. Does anyone know where that original design came from? It's as recognizble as Smokey Bear.

It would be nice to know the stories on the designs, date or creation, or any anecdotes surrounding them. Hit up some of the oldtimers around and get them to tell you about these patches, signs, and posters. I'll post the info the description page and link it to the logos.

Thanks again MOC.
Ab.

10/09 Unable to link with the Hotshot crew homepage from your links page.
Gene

Anyone know where Steve Karkanen's collection of hotshot crew websites went? Used to be here.
www.umt.edu/globalfirenet/nationalpage.php
Ab.

10/09 Word on the Journey is that it's lightly misting right now. 100% humidity. Sorry, Mellie...

Season may not be over yet, though. Check this SouthOps sit rept. Scroll all the way to the end. CNF (Cleveland) and SNF (Stanislaus) are extreme and SQF (Sequoia) is very high. Word on the Sequoia is they're due a little rain on Tues or Wed, but we've heard that before. (Ab, we should have a permanent link to the unit identifiers, acronyms of another sort.)

Here's a link of a more political/editorial nature regarding the blame game:
http://www.hcn.org/wotr/dir/WOTR_000926_Quillen.phpl

Firescribe

10/08 Hey all,

Fires may be winding down in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and other parts of the Rockies, and in Texas and Oklahoma (firemap and wildlandfire update), but fire danger is still HIGH to VERY HIGH in northern CA: it's high in the Shasta-T, Plumas, and Klamath NF and very high in the Eldorado and Tahoe. Haven't checked soCAL, but the Santa Anas down there could still be a problem. We've been having North winds off and on up here, our kind of Foehn wind (pronounced "fern", Tiny)-- the equivalent of the Santa Ana.

We currently have one that's growin' and goin' a bit south of us called the Journey (Six Rivers NF, Mad River RD, east of Ruth Lake, Picket Peak Lookout). Linda Szczepanik's Type II team is on it. Fire danger is only moderate in Six Rivers, but Ruth Lake area is a more inland and pretty dry part of the forest. Had temperatures in the mid 80s yesterday and today. No rains yet. Terrain is extremely steep, lots of snags and no roads. Makes containing it difficult.

Some reports on it here:
www.nifc.gov/news/sitreprt.phpl and here:
www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/north/sitreport.php

Hmmmmmmm... hope the guys/gals are staying safe... You take care LL and all.
Mellie
I'm itching to go, but must contain myself!

10/08 Joe Triolo,

Here is a link to a source for Mk III pumps (and others).
www.wildfire-equipment.com/

Follow the links to the pumps section. It lists all the options and pump performance comparison tables.

Deepwoods

10/08 Hey AB,

The search for our heroic bus driver seems to be getting close. We think we found out the name of the driver but the person I spoke with said he is not around right now and that he left a message with my phone number for the guy to call me. So lets hope we have the right person! Thanks for your help and those who responded with the info. I will definitely let you know when we actually find him!!

FirebabeNH#3

10/08 Joe,

SEI Industries has 2 pumps that you might be interested in. Contact Brenda Phillips at (604) 946-3131

4-stroke Briggs and Stratton gasoline engines
Simple maintenance with universally available parts
Large Twin impellers for strength and durability
Self-priming from 20 feet (6 metres)
No Exhaust Primer necessary
Low fuel consumption
Lightweight (67 lbs 60 USGPM or 95 lbs for 120 USGPM)
Marine grade aluminum casing
Replaceable 3-way discharge port
Quiet operation (Approx. 78 Db.)
Large Passages
Optional Yanmar Diesel Engine

The rugged and economical, engine-driven self-priming Firefighter™ and Firefighter Plus™ pump units are the perfect tool for pushing water further and higher. With up to 50% greater pressure generated by large twin impellers, water and foam can be pushed greater distances.

Jim Evans

There's a link to SEI Industries on our links page under commerical. Ab.

10/07 I am looking for information for my fire department on lightweigh or back pack forestry pumps especially the Mark 3 pump that you might carry. If you carry any of these pumps or know of a company that does could you please send me more information including price quotes and optional equipment.
Thanks for your help.

Joe Triolo
PO Box 8380
APO, AP 96557

In january I will be returning to a Department in New Hampshire and have been tasked with putting together a forestry cache trailer.

10/07 Ab, I think the reason for the pay cap was so the troops could not make more than the regional forester for the USFS, and was adopted by other agencies. Looking at it from both sides I have a few comments. I have worked the last few years as an AD-5 at $30 per hour doing the same work that a GS 13+ would normally do. I don't think that is an unreasonable amount, matter of fact I think it was not enough at times. I do know there was a contractor overhead person who attempted to get hired for $1,600 a day. I also know many double digit GS's who go for the hazard pay to offset the pay cap. I do hate to see the DD's getting full pay to drive a truck when they keep a lower paid employees from going on fire assignments. I worked with Viejo while he was at NICC and know he earned his pay.

J-Bob

10/07 Hey Fireronin, I agree regarding the huge desparity in firefighter pay! There should be some concesus between govt. and the private sector regarding a set rate for all firefighters and include overtime for all! It is ridiculous that an Ad gets one pay and a forestry service firfighter gets all the extras, such as hazard pay and overtime...is it hazardous for one person and not the other just because of a pay grade? That just does not make sense. I believe that all aspects of the fire service and EMS are underpaid...we are putting our life on the line...yet baseball and football players recieve millions of dollars to play a game...does anyone else see something wrong with this picture???
Firebabe
10/07 Viejo,

I am a bit confused, I agree with you that just compensation is due for all fire fighters. But only those on an incident? What you are saying is that if a fire is not on the home unit then exempt employees should not receive a fair overtime rate?

My point of view is a bit different, I remember a lot of those "double digit" folks working along side of me 20 years ago chinking line, sleeping under black plastic and eating C-Rats (pre-MRE days). If you remember that was the time before the Kitchen and Shower contract, before tents and real sleeping bags were issued, before hand washing facilities and sani-cans were a regular part of fire camp. Just because a fire is not in a home unit does not mean the hours are just as long or the work is any less stressful. I feel those folks have paid their dues and just compensation is warranted.

WP

10/07 Vieho,

I have seen precious few ADs earn $25/hour...plus per diem! As an AD 4 I would have been embarrassed making $12/hr (with no benefits)...if I would have known that there were AD5's making twice as much. Seriously...if you had known what private contractors were paying for the same work you would have really been upset! The fair market value of firefighters is set by private industry...which is paying way better than any govt. rates I have seen. And private contractors are subject to more than just the Fair Labor Law requiring that they be better employers. They also want their best firefighters to return next year. Few govt. reps. have such restrictions on how they treat seasonals and casuals.

While I think that no one on the fireline is overpaid...especially ADs...I do think that many folks "milk it for all they can". I have seen more than my share of full timers that wanted me to allow them to spend some time "loading helicopters" on my watch just so they could claim hazard pay...in a marginally fraudulent manner.

Some one needs to review firefighter wages and rates...there is too much inequity in pay between those that do and those that watch. I believe that this is a major reason that there is a critical shortage of wildland fire fighters.

Fireronin

10/07 Has anyone used the "safenet" forms? What response did you get?
www.nifc.gov/safety_study/index.php

adftr

10/07 I hope some of you guys hop in here to clarify Viejo's pay cap stuff. I know what he is saying about double digits is not true all the time. The pay cap can start hitting people someplace in the upper GS8 sometimes. Viejo, you sound a bit like sour pickles. Overhead should not suffer unfair pay because you haven't moved up and made the money you feel you should. I don't know you or how the NPS may forestall advancement, but do I detect a note of whining?

Ab, I'll do my research and come back with some exact numbers and an argument, if I have to. In firecamps everywhere there are those with GS ratings below 10 who might be affected. There are also the double-digit overhead including rangers who work overtime for fire and DESERVE fair overtime pay. They work the same long hard hours and sleep on mats in tents like the rest of us. Denying double-digit fire folk fair overtime pay deserves a single digit any way you look at it!

Mellie

You're right Mellie, the overtime cap can hit as soon as the GS-8/8 level. Certainly not "double-digits".

Let me ask, what is the reason for the pay cap in the first place?
I worked with a GS-12/6 district ranger this year who actually went down in hourly pay as soon as he worked over 8 hours in one day. Yes he was a double digit gs rating, but he still loved fire. Not only that, he FELT AN OBLIGATION TO FIGHT FIRE. How many non-fire management employees so we still have that even care about fire, let alone feel an obligation? How many district rangers even care about fire unless they are eyeing the fire budget to aquire some of it? Why shouldn't a GS-12/6 district ranger be compensated for the knowledge and expertise he brings to the fire team?

I am unaware of any private business who's employees would accept any kind of hourly wage cap such as the federal gov't has enforced.

I once heard the reason for the introduction of the pay cap but can't remember exactly what it was. Whatever it was, I recall the reasoning was so obsolete it was ridiculous --and now it's just one of those things that get left on the books because there just isn't enough political support to get it corrected. Ab.

10/06 Check out the "Current Fire Potential Charts and Graphs" link off the Intel page below:
www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/intel.shtml

Study up Tiny, test on Monday!
Firescribe

10/06 I just called my brother, a CDF employee, regarding your great web site. Put a lump in my throat reading your e-mails, as I recalled the fire at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in San Diego County a few years ago. The fire camp was set up at Green Valley Falls Campground and there was one historic Native American site we (Park staff) were really worried about. It seemed a call went out to not let the top of the hill burn and they didn't. It was truly amazing to me. I said thanks then and will do so again, thanks for saving so much for all of us. Your never paid enough for what you do or receive the recognition deservant of the continued heroic efforts, both seen and unseen by us, "the public".
Thanks, PB
PS Did they find the bus driver's murderer? sure hope so.

PB, we all appreciate thanks. It's nice to hear. The murderer of Richard Blood has not been aprehended. Readers, please write in if you know anything. Ab.

10/06 The Environmental Economics students and faculty of Reed College in Portland, Oregon and Whitman Colleges in Walla Walla, Washington are working on a collaborative course project to study how people value the restoration of Snake River Salmon and Steelhead runs. The students will use information from confidential responses to a survey posted on the World Wide Web to analyze some factors that affect how people value these runs. For this project to be successful, we would like to have as many respondents as possible representing the vast differences of opinion on this issue. So we encourage you to participate in this project by taking the survey found at
people.whitman.edu/~crouter/survey/intro.php

Thank you,
Jan Crouter
Associate Professor of Economics
Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA

Noel Netusil
Associate Professor of Economics
Reed College, Portland, OR

Nice fish banner there. Anyone, help out with this? Ab.

10/06 Blue Light
ICS designators ending in "G" are assigned to GSA. Perhaps Fresno has a GSA depot that was involved, (CA-FRG).
dispatch dude
10/6 It was only a month ago when I was detailed to NICC to work the fixed-wing desk that was I introduced to your incredible site. Please keep up the good work!

I am a "parkie" who, nearing retirement, gave up pulaskis and shovels to serve the remainder of my fire service in dispatch. I am a GS-5 Fire Program Assistant for the National Park Service. It was with great dismay that I recently learned of the latest effort to acheive "equity" in firefighter pay, specifically, the granting of full overtime to the GS-"double-digits" regardless of their position on an incident.

I will readily concede that those of you who serve on the hot line deserve full compensation for your efforts...I've been there. I will, however, argue the point that employees exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) should be granted carte blanche overtime compensation for fire-related service regardless of the position filled. It is my contention that firefighters and support personnel should be justly compensated for the jobs performed on the incident, not for the the jobs performed at the home unit. As a 50+ year-old GS-5 making around $12/hr I am a bit embarassed to report to an assignment where AD-5's with less experience are earning $25/hr (plus per diem!!!)

If we are going to acheive "equity" in firefighter pay let's make it across-the-board...let's all get paid for the jobs we do on fire...not for what we do at home.

It ain't over yet...STAY SAFE!

Viejo

10/05 A few weeks ago I asked if anyone would be interested in serving as a resource for my fiction novels. A great guy from Utah has been helping me out. He's with an engine crew. How about anyone else? Any other wildland firefighters willing to answer a few questions? If so, e-mail me privately at PSWHITE40@aol.com. Thanks!
10/05 Al,

Here's a bit of info on the leadplane controversy.
www.sacbee.com/news/news/local06_20001005.phpl

Firescribe

10/05 Re: 2000 Annual Fire Lookout Meet

Hey you folks up there in the north - How about moving the meeting to the middle of the state so we can come play too! (There must be a Roundtable somewhere around Fresno...LOL)

We have 8 lookouts staffed by over 300 volunteers here in SoCal. They would get a kick out of sharing with other lookout folks. So, what do you say? Think it's a possibility for future meetings?

Angie - Newsletter Goddess/Editor
Fire Lookout Host Program
San Bernardino/Angeles NF

10/05 Mark,

If your looking for winter work I'd see if I could get hired as an AD person during the burn season on your local forest> If not why not look into a private contractor? It's another viable option in my experience.
Mike
Woods Fire

10/05 A few articles of interest to firefighters from Firescribe:

www.fs.fed.us/congress/2000_Testimony/9.22.00_Waterbury_on_summer_wildfires.php
IC Bill Waterbury addresses a congressional subcommittee regarding summer wildfires.

www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/nevada/2000/oct/02/510852566.phpl
Firefighters get the Norwalk virus from food while fighting a fire near Reno.

10/04 Hey, everyone! We got a link on the NWCG Wildland Fire Education Working Team site!
www.nwcg.gov/teams/wfewt/NWCGBib/firefighting.phpl
It says, "Home Page for Wildland Firefighters - http://www.wildlandfire.com Site devoted to wildland firefighters. Includes current activities, an on-line newsletter and forum area."

I think that's pretty neat -- this site IS educational and safety-oriented.
Ab, I'd like to work on a links page that relates to education in fire at all levels, from links to the training programs that are available to beginning and advanced firefighters (like the urls @ sent in) to links to programs at the university level that deal with fire ecology and fuels management and those kinds of areas within other majors. If youth who fight fire in the summers want to get into fire as a career, where can they explore? There aren't any comprehensive places. I've found some scattered info on the web and it's not user-friendly. Well, I can do this when the fire season is over. Where I'm going to be from day-to-day is still iffy. Hey Danny, hang onto and keep up with those links. It's a pain in the derrier to look back through the site for all of them.

Wowsers, I'm really proud of Ab and all of us for asking the questions and sharing the information.

Siskiyou and All,
I have not given up on finding out more about the murder of Richard Blood. His candle is on my desk. I light it weekly. On Sept 30 it will have been a year since he was murdered. He was a nice man and I enjoyed talking with him very briefly on the Denny Road in the last days of the Big Bar Complex. I continue to ask bus drivers and others in the fire community what they know wherever I go. We all should be asking. The Anderson police have kept the investigation under wraps to such a degree that circumstances and knowledge of his death are falling through the cracks. Please, if anyone has information, write in and share it with us. We can all ask; we can all look. Ab will keep your identity confidential. Or write to me at five_waters@hotmail.com. Dick Blood was one of us, not a groundpounder, but one of our fire community. We all should know what happened to him and why. So senseless, so sad.

Mellie

10/04 Does anyone know this California unit designator? It showed up on the Weinstein 209. FRG. It doesn't show up in either NFES 2080 or ICS 420-1.

Blue Light

10/04 Strong rumor that CDF will be opening its Fire Captain list to all qualified. There will be two lists. One for CDF internal and the second open to those that qualify. All those on the internal list will have to pass on the available position. The position would then be offered to the open list candidates. This is being done to compensate for the massive retirements they are experiencing along with most other fire departments. JustFYI. Dust off the resume if interested.

Jake

10/04 My name is Mark Hunter, I've been fighting wild land fires for seven years with the Oregon Department of Forestry. I'm currently attending Southern Oregon University. My question is if i would like to continue fighting fires during the winter over sea's how do i go about that? Getting information, find a location that needs me? Please try to help me out. Thank you.

Mark

10/04 Danny,

In Region 5 the Forest Service has collected or attempted to collect suppression cost from responsible parties. CDF is very active in the area of collecting suppression cost. I am aware of two different times when the FS collected suppression cost from employees. Both fires were started by the children of FS employees playing with matches. I have heard rumors that the FS also criminal charged two employees (students) who were responsible for a fire on the Klamath?

In the case of private property owners and the government suing a responsible party the government comes last to collect any money. The example would be an insured individual who is responsible for a negligent fire. The insurance money will normal go to damaged property owners who sue before the government is paid off. Normally the private parties use the government investigation report to make their case.

When I started on an engine crew in the early sixties we could depend on the afternoon trains to start fires. On some hot afternoons there would be fire starts along thirty miles of track by the same train. For years the politically powerful railroads were responsible for many fires. Two things reduced the number of railroad fires, the collection of suppression cost and CDF stopping trains that caused fires.

The railroads became interested in preventing fires because it started costing them money. It became cheaper to maintain firelines along their tracks and make changes to their equipment then paying for fires. The result was that on one District railroad fires dropped from around seventy-five a year to two or three a year.

Powerline fires in California have been responsible for numerous large fires. Power companies chose between profits for stock holders and meeting legal requirements to properly maintain their powerlines. Thanks to CDF and the folks at their NYP Unit customers now have better electrical service. They proved in court that the power company was negligent in maintaining their lines. This cost the power company a lot money. As a customer I see the difference this brought about. Proper line maintenance means that I have not lost my power during the last two winters and the lights are not always flicking during winter storms when limbs are coming in contact with the powerlines.

The issue was brought up about the true and necessary cost of putting out a fire and what does the responsible party pay. The industrial violators have sharp attorneys who are very good at paring down cost. Items that are looked at closely are fire replacement, move-up, and aircraft cost. I recall a Forest FMO reviewing the cost of a small fire before certifying the bill for collection. All the fire replacement cost was dropped because it was an exchange of used for fresh equipment from the warehouse. The cost of heli-mopping was dropped. Approximately two-thirds of the total cost was dropped.

Clearly the actions of the initial attack folks can be questioned. The key is to act in a professional manner. Attorneys defending against criminal charges and the collection of suppression cost will target any and all actions taken by suppression crews. A little horse play can become a big smoke screen in court.

Ab, sorry about all the space.
Siskiyou

Good info, no apologies necessary. Ab.

10/04 Howzit:

My name is Ed te Tau and Im a New Zealander (Kiwi). Just finished fighting fires over in the states with a team of 10 Kiwi's and 70 Australians. Damn good experience and would give it another go if given the chance.

Im the Chief Fire Officer at Linton Army Camp, which is south of a city called Palmerston North in the North Island of NZ. Had fun browsing your web last night and gonna have another lookie tonight.

Made some good friends in the states which I am in the process of maintaining contact with. Thanks for the oppotunity of browsing your web.

Regards
Ed

Hello Ed, Glad to have your help this summer. Thanks for writing. Abercrombie

10/04 TO everyone,

Recently my paid department sent off a Federal Structural Fire Crew on a Type-1 Structure engine for the purpose of both providing Structure Protection and Wildland Fire Suppression during the massive fires we had 6 weeks ago. When they came back our Payroll Office made a decision we now have to fight. They changed our Pay Period Scheduled Hours thus causing our crew to lose a lot of overtime, denying travel pay, and doing it for only one pay period. Our PayPlan calls for a different pay schedule regardless of what we get sent to.

What I need is help with the following:

Back in the 80's the Forest Service had a policy of changing around an employee's schedule, either on a weekly or pay period schedule, in order to help reduce an employee's earned overtime with little or no advanced notice, or the agency would change the schedule after the fact to help reduce the overtime. For Example, a firefighter finishes his scheduled 5-day shift on a Sunday, in the middle of the pay period, and his supervisor advises him that his schedule has been changed and he will be moved to a Monday-Friday schedule starting tommorrow. The employee has already worked five days and a burning project begins that Monday, thus cutting him out of two full days of overtime. The employee has no recourse and is told thats it. The project has some intermittent problems and delays ensue, so when the schedule resumes the employee's schedule is again changed to reduce overtime. A rule or law was introduced that prevented this arbitrary schedule change except when it is a long-term, permanent, or temporary injury change. Does anyone know what was the Personnel Rule that prevented a single pay-period or schedule change to avoid paying overtime?

Does anyone know of any recent cases where such a thing has happened and what the outcome was?

Does anyone know what has happened to the proposed legislation regarding permanent employees being able to count temporary appointments toward retirement? There was a posting that was said it was currently possible in one of the Federal Employee Digest, but I can't locate it.

We have a problem with a personnel official who may be making decisions on her own, based on her interpretations of the agency rules or what past practices have been. When she was ask to consult a higher authority with either the agency's Washington Office or the Office of Personnel Management we believe she may have skewed the questions posed to these departments to favor and enforce her position on these issues. We are now contemplating getting support from the IAFF Union with a Labor Lawyer. A personal grudge has existed between this personnel official and our fire agency and we're tired of it.

Any help would be apprieciated. My e-mail is listed for direct contact so as not to clutter the board. Thanks.

MOC4546 (moc4546@cncnet.com)

10/03 Abercrombie and all-

I received some very good news today.
If you link to the DOE's Center for Risk Excellence homepage at: riskcenter.doe.gov/ and open the "newsletter" link, you will notice the latest issue (September). It is about wildfires and nuclear and hazardous waste sites. Click on the "Supplement" in html, and it will take you to a table of contents and a letter from the editors of the newsletter. They quote "an anonymous author" who "posted these concerns to a fire discussion group on the web." The questions they refer to were raised on this site on 6/29/00 (see the archives page). I'm not entirely sure how they got that quote, but I have a pretty good idea that I was involved. I am fairly certain they were putting this newsletter together anyway following the Cerro Grande, but once again, this discussion site has found fame (if only anonymously).

Please read through this newsletter and check out any links from the newsletter or the site to see what the DOE is up to in regards to wildland fire. I haven't read it yet, but am looking forward to it when I get the chance today. This piece may not answer all the questions, but it may shed some light a couple of pieces or some sort of process. I've heard heard several stories about the Cerro Grande about what really happened and so on, and I suppose this is another part of the story.

The power of this site and this network never ceases to amaze me. And once again, I am in awe of the power that we have in simply asking questions. I know there are lots of people out there doing the same thing.

Ab, can you sign me "anonymous" this time? Thanks, and take care everyone...

OK Anonymous it is. Interesting the audiences we reach. The site is growing because friends tell friends. We lurk, we read. At some point our button gets pushed or we have a question and then we write in. Ab.

10/03 Hey, NorCalDan,

Haven't you noticed? Now we are supposed to call them "Prescribed" burns. Wonder if that is because they keep screwing it up? Seriously, though, there are folks in every aspect of the business, who for whatever reason, just can't stand to be questioned. We have them, and I'm sure you do too. But questions should be asked. Especially before lighting and intentional fire. You had better make sure EVERYTHING is right. Or as close as possible. We just don't need more of these "escaped" burns. They make us all look very "Mickey-mouse".

And by the way, I'm a volunteer (8yrs) who just got red-carded and even some additional training. Of course, the old timers say all that training stuff is not really applicable here. And some is not. But I am finding more and more of it can be used if you just have an open mind. Our main job is putting the fire out, but not while unduly risking lives and property. The "Bubba" syndrome got us this far. Where do we go from here?

-Bob

10/03 The 2000 Annual Lookout Meeting is being held on Saturday, November 11, 2000,5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. at the Round Table Pizza Parlor (2808 McMurry Drive) in Anderson, CA. All Lookouts, Friends, Families, Federal, State and Local employees are welcomed to attend the Annual Lookout Meeting.

This is a great time to share stories of : The 2000 fire season; Visitors to the lookouts; Animals living in and near the lookout; and Other unusual events. Please bring photos, hobbies and works of art related to life as a lookout.

Anyone with questions or wanting further directions or info on accommodations, contact sonjapage@earthlink.net

10/03 I am looking for 4 Oregon firefighters I talked to in June who were working on the Cerro Grande fire. I posted on this board back in June, but have been reading this board since then, and realized summer is not the best time to try to find firefighters. So now that it's October, here goes again. I would like to send them the picture I took of them in the Jemez mountains. I was there with my 8-year-old sister Lisa taking pictures of burned areas, and they told us lots of stuff about firefighting which was educational to Lisa and which I ended up using in a web page about GIS and firefighting.

One firefighter gave me a home page address (www.Beckhous.CDS.com, except I must be doing something wrong because that doesn't work) BUT I FORGOT TO ASK THEIR NAMES. This is what I know about them: they were all from Oregon, one was a federal employee, the other three weren't, I *think* one was maybe named Scott and another might have been Mike, they were near an area where there were HotShot vehicles, but I don't think they were from those crews and the area they were in was right near DP-3 (maybe as far over as DP-4) on the May 22 operations map shown on
www.fs.fed.us/r3/sfe/fire/cerrogrande/maps/may22opsbriefingmap.php.
If you have any information which would help me get in touch with these men, please contact me at Karen.Dahlby@auc.trw.com.

Thank you to everyone who helped save my parents’ house and the Lab and the historic buildings in Los Alamos. I just visited again this weekend and my favorite trail is open for hiking now, and though it was right in the middle of the severely burned area, there are aspens coming up all over that should be spectacular in a couple years! I am so impressed with what the firefighters and rehab teams did. Oh, and I noticed that an area near town where thinning was done on the forest a few years ago (that really annoyed me at the time because it made the trail less shady and beautiful) was the ONLY place on the trail that didn’t burn at all! So I personally will be happy in the future to trust firefighters’ judgement on controlled burns, thinning, or whatever it takes to manage a forest.

–Karen

10/03 Ab,

I would like to keep the issue regarding the murder of Bus Driver Richard Blood alive. He was found murdered in his bus at the Staging Area for the Big Bar Complex at the Anderson Fairgrounds in Anderson California. Last month while in Boise visiting the Fire Fighters Memorial I noted that there was a marker there for him among many other lost fire fighters.

The key suspects were released from the fire and sent back to San Carlos, Az. The return of the crew to the Reservation has most likely hindered the investigation. The Redding Search Light had an article stating the Anderson P.D. made a trip back to Globe. How soon that crew was out on another fire I do not know. Clearly the key to resolving this murder is within the Globe community, and the leadership of the San Carlos Reservation.

I can remember back to the 1950's when crews from the Southwest helped fight major fires burning in Siskiyou County and the positive publicly that the crews received.

Based on earlier information provided by Mellie there is a concern about this incident within Region 5 management. I am also shocked at the massive number of Forest Service employees who are unaware of this incident. I am sure that if somebody has a clue they can drop a dime on the Anderson P.D. or the FBI.

Siskiyou

10/03 Ab,

Here's the link to the LCES Powerpoint presentation www.nv.blm.gov/2wgbcc/LCES/LCES%20123.ppt. Western Great Basin also has a workbook and handouts in PDF form on their homepage.

Also wanted to let you know that a group named Cry Cry Cry covered the song Cold Missouri Waters. I don't know if it is on the web, but I found it using Napster.

Take it easy,
DR

Thanks, that's it. Will post on the links page soon: ppLCES, not the song. Ab.

10/03 Anybody know what the issues are about cutting the leadplane program? I looked here and at the airtanker board to see if I could figure it out. Couldn't. The airtanker pilots and lead plane pilots are pissed. What are the pros, the cons, the alternatives in simple terms? I'd like to understand the issues, the politics, big egos? what the planes cost? not used on many fires anyway? how old they are? congestion? or if the pilots are just hard to deal with so boot em. Can anyne tell both sides? I mean, I don't like getting spammed and I do like to count on the red stuff being where it should be and thick enough to do some good... But I want more than someone just saying don't cut em.

AL

10/03 Billionaire Donates $500 to Firefighters, that's a good one! Loved it! hahahahahahahaha Pocket change!

Firescribe

10/03 I guess CDF just couldn't let BLM, USFS, and NPS show them how to have a control burn... Yesterday the TGU had a 500 acre control burn in the foothills west of Red Bluff Ca., Well it WAS a 500 acre burn. Last report was 3500 acres and growing. Dry, Hot, North winds blowing @ 15 to 20 with very low Rh. For those not in Nor Cal our version of the famous Santa Anna's are the North winds. I hear from some of the locals that several cabins have been lost and a repeater site is history also. So far no report of injuries thank God ! . I just don't get it ??? The folks that tell us to be fire smart smack themselves up along side their heads again !!!
And they have the guts to badmouth Volunteer folks !!! Please don't take the venting of my frustrations as an attack on all CDF, USFS, BLM, and NPS folks. Most are professional and do a great job and not all of them look down their noses at Volunteers. But, when it comes the time to remind them that THEY make ERRORS ALSO I will not hesitate to point it out. I have a lot of good friends it the TGU and I hope they don't take this as a personnel attack. Learn from this my friends and remember, we Volunteers will always be here to back you up when you call.
No matter how bad you treat us.
Nor Cal Dan

This just fell out of the server. It was sent in on Sat. Ab.

10/02 Pictures of the Northern CA Weinstein Fire from Firescribe. Nice ones of flames and an airtanker. Also links to the incident description and fire progression maps.
fire.ca.gov/incidents/webs/Weinstein/PhotosVideoAudio.phpl
10/02 Danny,

Yes, I do know of many times that the federal gov. has charged for fire suppression, albeit not recently. Over this past winter I worked to compile a fire history for my district (in Oregon) and mapping it all out in GIS. It was a lot of fun reading the old fire reports, but also incuded in each report was a billing statement for those fires that were proven to be started by certain individuals or corporations. Mostly it was the railroad, but some ranches were also billed. So yes, it has happened, but by the time I worked up to the reports from the mid-eighties the practice was almost nonexistent. I can say now that we never pursue it unless it is blatant arson, and even then I think it is just turned over to the courts for prosecution instead of trying to get repayment of suppression costs.

Tim

10/02 Danny, re collecting suppression costs. Yes! all the time. If there is a responsible party that was negligent in causing the fire we can bill them and collect right then and there, and yes it does happen pretty routinely on small fires of low cost.

pulaski

10/02 In reply to Danny,
The threat is used to show the fullest extent possible that someone might be held accountable. When have you ever heard of a first-time convicted criminal getting what they deserve and doing the maximum amount of time in prison or paying maximum fines?
Just isn't reality, Danny. However, there are agencies out there that do take cases like these to court and recover a portion of the costs for suppression efforts. I speak from experience working in a state agency. If they didn't, they couldn't afford to stay in the business or local landowners would be stuck paying higher assessments.
On a related issue, how can anyone in a government agency expect people (like Stevenson) to pay the full amount or a significant portion of the suppression costs when our own agency personnel (often but not always fire teams) spend money frivolously, as if the pot of money will never run out? I'll open myself up for some real criticism here, but our own agency personnel are often the worst offenders when it comes to wasting money that could be going towards paying for resources to battle seasons like the one we're experiencing now! No offense intended to anyone specific as I believe we're all guilty on some level. Sometimes the truth hurts!
- Craig
10/02 Danny,
CDF routinely collects for suppression costs on wildland and escape agriculture control burns as well as refuse and/or trash fires. We bill or take to court any illegal burning cases that the Dept. responds to. And Yes, we do collect!!

Engineer Emmett

10/02 What I want to know is: Did you catch any fish?

Our season is not by any means over with.We have finally managed to go one day without any fires,but the string was broke at 1 because we were out on another today.Our KBDI is still above 700 and there is no rain in the forecast for the next 14 days.I know that several out of state crews have been Demobed but there still a bunch of folks here.

Stay safe,
Keith

Did just fine. Ab.

10/01 Shore Break & Sparky,

The smoke that you inhaled may have contained something calle Polycyclic Airomatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Depends on what burned and at what temperature. This is a particularlly nasty group of chemicals. Not much is known about them except that many are carcinogenic. The best known is Benzo Pyrene and OSHA has a 200 microgram per cubic meter of air as the allowable 8 hour exposure (OSHA thinks everyone only works an 8 hour day). Apparently as your fire burns it will form some PAHs which attach themselves to common smoke particles. You then inhale the PAHs along with the smoke. One exposure will probably not create any health problems for you. Your air quality folks probably did not sample for PAHs. You can always ask them. Not a lot of material in the literature on these beasties. The best I could find were studies on the Indoniesia wildfires of 1997. Some very high levels of PAHs were monitored during these fires. Assume the best. The stink will eventually fade and you will suffer no ill effects. This underscores my belief that where possible you should be using a dust mask to keep this stuff out of your lungs. The Moldex products in my opinion the best on the market.

Be careful, California's fire season isn't over by a long shot. Of course neither is the Southwest and Texas. Could be an interesting time with many of the seasonals laid off.

Fitch

10/01 i am looking for a wildland firefighting game called fire pro or something of that sort could u tell me where i could get it or something like it

thank you
David

10/01 Fire Suppression Costs: If convicted, Stevenson would faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She also could be held responsible for suppression costs.

Can anyone state as a known fact if the government {@ any level} has ever charged & collected either from an individual or a comapny/corporation for the full cost {or even a very substantial portion} of a wildland fire? If not why have that threat on the books?

On another subject:

I have created two files for quick access to all reference/data links on theysaid {w/a few special photos} for the Y2K beginning w/Jan 1. One file is alphabetized by subject & the other is numeric by date w/links highlighted in blue so all you have to do is locate the subject of your interest & then click on the link to take you there quickly w/out having to read through 9 months of messages. If anyone is interested in receiving a {free} copy of these two files you may E me @ D952@mohaveaz.com. Both files are about 4 1/2 pages each.

Danny

Interesting idea, Danny. Works well if you use theysaid as a research tool. Ab.

10/01 Hey AB, Another question for you since you are such a great wealth of information!! (While I'm waiting for the results of my bus driver search ) I heard that some folks out West were thinking of putting together a book about the wildfires this past summer. What I was wondering is if any firefighters are contributing to that collection. My friend and I who were on the same squad together have been doing a lot of writing about the experience. We have some essays, poems and just quotes. We were thinking of putting the collaboration together but if there is a bigger pool of stories we might want to add ours to the whole. Have you heard of anything? I believe this was surrounding the Bitterroot fires,but I'm not sure. Thanks for your help. FirebabeNH#3
10/01 Check the USFS Fire News for info on the current norCA fire and other topics.

Will update the board later this evenin'. Gone fishin'.  Ab.

 
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