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"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
NOVEMBER 2000

 
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11/30 Ab,

Some of our members have simply sewn their patches onto a two sided velcro tag which they can then sandwich between the velcro which holds the shirt pocket closed. The result is a "floppy" patch which can be quickly removed for line duty and washing. Alternatively, I have seen a larger Nomex velcro patch sewn onto the front pockets, shoulders, etc. Logos can then be velcro'd more solidly to the garment yet still quickly removed for safety/washing. This is a little harder as nomex velcro is hard to come by...usually it must be salvaged from no longer usable (and sometimes beloved) fire shirts.

Dana

11/30 Not to start rumors, but did I hear somewhere that
they are changing the minimum age to 37?  Seems that I
heard this somewhere this fall.  Anyone know anything
about this?

firepup21

11/30 Pat (&Pappy if you'r still around) Here is what I have to date on upping the retirement age for
firefighters to 57 (and possibly upping the recrutment age to 37) Senate Bill H.R. 640 passed
the House but is stalled in the Senate by Cong. Leiberman. In ordier to get the full jist of this
bill you need to read the minutes of the presentation (I can fax them to you, just need a fax #)
Contacts on this bill are: Congresman Eaton Gallegly in Washington DC. (202) 225-5811, I
talked to a gentleman by the name of Brian Cliford in his office. If you read the amendments it
doesn't really give you the whole picture, basically these amendment are to title 5 United States
Code section 8335(b) & section 8425(b), OPM has no informaton as yet on this bill and can not
act until it is passed in to Law, It is up to the hireing unit to make age determinations not OPM,
OPM only does the rating as to qualification is the way I understand it. Also, I see nothing that
states the recrutement age will be upped to 37 to meet 20 years at 57(if the bill passes in to law),
but logic tells me this would hold true, don't give up hope, do your homework during your off
hours.

Rick

11/30 Well, here is something I got a chuckle out of.

A while ago we noticed our agency had nomex cargo pants in stock and we
ordered a new pair for everyone. I assumed they were through one of the
commercial vendors we have a contract with and not the rumored new GSA
pants. However upon getting them I said, geez, these look like a GSA
garment.Then, as I read the "instructions" that fell out of the pocket my
suspicion was confirmed:

***
User instructions
1 Pre use instructions
        Protective properties of the garment can not be tested by the user in the field.

2 Preparation for use, donning and doffing
        Put on pants to the waist, fasten fly and button. If required, the waist can be adjusted
using the adjust tape and buckle. (WOW! I always wondered how to put on a pair of pants!)

3 Inspection, Maintenance and cleaning
        Do not use this garment if it is not thoroughly cleaned and dried...(hmmm...guess we
better start carrying a fresh pair for each shift and be careful not to get wet out on the line)
***
pulaski

11/29 How do I overcome the age requirement for federal primary fire position? I am 36 and work for the State of Washington with the equivalent of a primary fire position and have held this status since 92. Any suggestions? 

Thanks, Pat

There was a pretty interesting thread on this topic beginning on 12/28/99.  The beginning of the thread may be found here:  nov-dec99.htm.  The bottom line is, however. . .it probably can't be overcome.  Ab.

11/29 Heard from someone here at the Fire 2000 Conference that Jennifer deJung on the Toyabee NF in R4 is the first woman to retire in wildland fire in the nation. Another bit of trivia. The first Hotshot crew was the Los Padres Hotshots formed in 1949.

Mellie

11/28 Tim:
I enjoyed your logo. Decades ago when I was on the El Cariso crew we proudly wore the "duck". But time and events hopefully bring knowledge and changes in practices. For those who would insist on wearing logos contrary to safety direction......a few months ago I taught a course in partnership with a state employee who still bears the scar from the burned patch sewn to his Nomex. He was a dozer operator overrun in the late 1980's, He has also authored an article for one of the wildland fire magazines encouraging others to be aware of the danger. When we let pride displace safety, people get hurt. Today, I would display the logo on my pack, not my Nomex.

Old Fire Guy

11/28 Hi,

I'm Chris Johnson, Fireline Engineering. I have a request from a fire fighter to develop a new steep terrain water tank. I'm a small company and don't have the funding available to develop the tank. Do you know of any Fire Equipment Development Grant programs available. My second choice would be a corporate partner to fund the engineering, design, and prototype efforts.

Thanks, Chris

11/27 Rick,

Retirement age is likely to be upped to 57. This would help the transition over the next few years and also be logical if the entry age changes.
Anonymous

11/27 Here's another contribution for the Logo pages.
Its my CDF station logo that we wear very much against policy.

Tim

Thanks Tim. Ab sez send in those photos and logos 'specially if you wear them your way (but safely).

11/27 I have seen some inquiries as to the availability of S-290 on CD ROM. The S-290 self-study course is available from NIFC, the catalog number is NFES -1592, the cost is $150.00

WP

11/27 I'll take you up on that DM if you would entrust your Red Skies to me for a bit. Too bad you're a state away -- we could tip a few together. Hmmm, maybe you were just there on fire. Anyway, I'll get Ab to forward an e-mail to ya.
Thanks [hug]
Mellie
11/27 Mellie, there is no commercial video copy of Red Skies' of Montana that I know of. I did a failed search a year or so ago. I was fortunate to make a copy a year or so ago, when I heard it was being presented on, I think, USA channel or AMC, can't remember which. That is the only way to get it. I might be willing to send you my copy to copy, though I am rather protective of one the best beer drinking movies around. The pulaski fight is a classic! And there are many other priceless lines and scenes.

DM

11/27 Hey, Will Puller,
Your piece on the squeek trees got into the Sept issue of Wildland Firefighter Magazine (p12 entitled "The Rub"). Just getting around to reading... It's a nice issue of the magazine if you can find it. Great job of editing, Brian Ballou!!!

Does anyone know if Red Skies Over Montana really exists out there in video land? I checked 4 places over Thanksgiving and no one had it. Ended up getting Firestorm instead. What a joke!

Have a good week. Rude shock, this going back to work after a holiday! If any of you are in San Diego for the Fire 2000 Conference and the BOD meeting, send me an e-mail via Ab (is that OK Ab?) and let's get together for a beer. Wow, that's tomorrow! I am looking forward to hearing what Jack Ward Thomas has to say.

Mellie

11/26 H.R. 460, If passed in to law, (upping the retirement age from 55 to 57) does this mean that the age one can be hired to meet 20 years for firefighter retirement goes from a max. of 35 to 37 years of age?

Rick

11/26 Is there a site where I can download a powerpoint presentation for S-290? I found and have used the 190 and it saved making a lot of overheads. If not I may have to make it myself.

Thanks
Rufus

Readers, anyone able to help with this? I know others also need this powerpoint presentation. Ab.

11/26 The jobs page is updated. For those of you writing in, there are many new fire jobs being posted, federal and otherwise. For directions to finding federal jobs, and the application process check the www.fs.fed.us/fsjobs and the story at FS NEWS about the Forest Service Hiring 3500 New Employees. The federal job series for fire are 462 and 455. Link to the current jobs being offered (OPM) under these two series appear at the top of the jobs page.

Ab.

11/26 Ab -- Firegirl's page is still parked in the same location; and your site is still at the top of the links! Happy Holidays to you and all our Brothers and Sisters in the FireWorld!

OK, couldn't get it to link the other day. Ab.

11/26 Hey AB,

I was just reading through the site and noticed a message from someone in the Bitterroot 11/11 They said that they might be able to help find our hero bus driver. Well that would be appreciated. I have come close but have not been able to get the name and a address or phone number. So I will gladly accept any help I can find!! There was no address for the Bitterroot person so if you can get it to me or give them mine ...Thanks!! I am enjoying the discussion on which crew is best..and have one comment...I work on a seasonal crew and the most important thing I have noticed is that everyone on my crew wants to be there 100% and is willing to put up with all the hurry-up and wait and basically wants to do the job we are there to do. NH crews seem to have gotten a reputation for being hard workers and yet we don't always go out with the same folks on every fire. However we are all flexible enough to work hard together. I think I read that you should be aware of what the conditions are like out there and be ready for it...or don't go. I had the best summer of my life and plan on being out there a whole lot more!!!

Firebabe NH#3

11/25 Gentlemen:

i have not yet heard one word about the Flamingoes (spelling may be wrong),The Utah State Inmate crew that has Type 1 status, and travels. I' ve fought fire with that bunch off and on for the last 20 years. And last year I saw that they also have engines that travel out of state also. Couple of there "Sups" I have meet and posed the question regarding how can you tell there inmates? You can't, unless you ask!

Not trying to start a war but, this is one good Type 1 "Inmate Crew".

Any feed back?
Mike
ex Hot Shot R-4 and many other agency's

11/24 I can speak with some measure of authority on this subject. I spent time as a Hotshot (R5) and was a CDF Fire Crew Capt for just under 4 years.

The bottom line is this:

The two crews ARE very different and have VERY different capabilities. The opinions posted here that each crew is only as good as it's leaders ring true as they always have and always will.

I learned more about fire behavior and line construction techniques on the Hotshots than anywhere else. I also learned a lot about human behavior in inmate programs-incarcerated people have different motivation than you and I.

When I see me old shot crew out on fires, I am still proud that I was a member of that organization. It is a fraternity that goes on forever. I am equally proud when I see the CDF crews getting ready for a big cutting show.

When run into other shot crews as a CDFer, most ignore you until they find out you were once one of them (then they wait until your out of sight and ignore you;>)

Inmates are NOT type 1 crews in the eyes of federal agencies and rightly so. Yes, they meet the minimums for ICS rating, but we all know what time of day it is.

ICS needs to recognize the inmate crew as something in between the shots and other type 2 crews.

Inmate crews should be rated as type 1"S" for security. They have special needs from that perspective and should be identified that way.

My opinion on the best uses: mix one hotshot crew with two inmate crews during a line show and look out! Shots doing the location and "P" line and the orange hurd bringing up the rear and the finished product (and it doesn't always have to be a freeway guys!).

This is the best of both worlds-brains and backs!

BR

11/23 To All ya goood buddies out there. That's just about as generic as I can make it..

All is good here in this part of the Ozarks, as Rod can verify, except for the rain. Hope all of you have a Good Turkey Day and don't OVERDO.. and if I don't get the word out before the Holidays. Hope they are good for you as well.

To Ab and his wonderful crew. Glad to see you can keep the politics off the page... enjoy watch'n the Dis--CUSS"N over the best type of crew. Worked with both types and found that it depends on the leadership and the willingness of the crews to do their assigned task and how well they get it done, reguardless of what color nomex or title they wear.

Opinions are like,....let's say "Belly Buttons"....or put in what ever part of the human anatomy that you may have that is usally not see by others, everyone has one. It's that some people like to show their's off more than others...

All have a good'n
Hickman

11/23 Today, be thankful for more than the "big bird". Be thankful for good friends, family,(even the one you don't like) your job, and this web site. :) Have a good day, as the dragon hibernates for the winter..........

donna

11/23 RK,
In regard to the demob from R-8 this year-
I am on one of the shot crews from So Cal that had the pleasure of being invited to your party. I was glad to be there. Saw some really good fire in the gorge in NC.

The crew always enjoys the trips to the Southeast in part because of how well we are treated. I was at Bald Rock years ago when there were just trailers there. The center is looking real good and the kitchen continues to due an outstanding job. The people there bent over backwards for us as always. We really appreciate being treated as human beings.

As usual, for most of the trip we were put up in motels, given vans and a supe truck and expected to take care of ourselves as normal adults. I like R-8's approach in this regard and hope that the type 2 crews that trashed the motels didn't ruin a great thing for all of us. I have spent more than one night at the Orange Bowl and the Chino Prison yard in So Cal and really like R-8's approach! Having our own wheels in the form of vans and a pickup is a fantastic way to deal with transportation for the shot crews!

We realize how NICC can work and understand (maybe not completely) what you are trying do deal with on a mass demob. From our standpoint you all did an excellent job.

One last note, Thanks to the staging area folks who mailed my cell phone back to me! I Appreciate the extra effort!

Tony (aka..Killer)

11/22 I have to add my two cents worth to the turkey cooking advice. I have cooked lots o birds on the Webber, Donna was correct in the placement of the coals and drip pan. But I found that the dampers need to be open wide and the heat high to get a good results, it seals in all the juices. With high heat it takes apx 11 minutes per pound (turkey at room temp to start), if you think the bird is cooking to fast you can then damper down after the first hour or so. But be sure to check for doneness with a thermometer. I wash and dry the bird, sprinkle with Lowery's Season Salt inside and out. If you want a smoke flavor add hard wood twigs to the coals. I use finger size green alder twigs but you could use any green/wet fruit wood that may be available to you, even hickory or mesquite. With smoke added the bird will come out almost black but not burned. I found it takes about 5 pounds of charcoal for a 10 to 12 pound bird. Once you do one bird on the Webber you will never want to use the oven again! Oh yes, do not cook a stuffed bird, cook the stuffing in the oven, the juices caught in the drip pan make excellent gravy, if you do not get ash in it. But if you do, pretend you are in firecamp.

WP

UMMMMM. Gravy. Ab.

11/22 I have had the opportunity to be in charge of a CDF Fire Crew for several years. I have to agree with my brothers in green that Hot Shot crews are more versatile the CDF Fire Crews. They have more flexibility in splitting up and more motivation than our crews. While I could cut line with most shot crews I could not say that I could perform as many tasks. I ran my crew hard, we trained hard and PT hard. This allowed us some pretty good performance in comparison to other CDF crews and some Hot Shot crews. I will say this about Hot Shot crews and some of you are not going to like it. Almost 3/4 of the experiences I have had with them have had some serious safety implications. Alot of freelancing, not listening to their division supervisor because their ego had been so pumped that they believe they are superior to their line supervisor, using non-approved tactical nets. You know "hey billy meet me over on channel 6", creating missed commo between agencies in times of critical fire behavoir or firing operations. So to reinterate CDF crews are not as versatile as hot shot crews, however if the shot crews would loose a little ego, pay attention to their supervisors on the line, and stick to the plan. They would have tremendous respect with other agencies they work with.

Jake

11/22 This string of inmate vis shots vis other hand crews is getting interesting. The page was starting to slow down a bit in the last few days.

Michael, I can see you are proud of your crew and the job they do in the pucker brush. But there are more fuel types then the brush models of So. Cal. My "astounding" statement was based on my 26 years of experience in all kinds of fuel models, working all sorts of crews. What kind of trail could your crew build in heavy timber type with fell and bucked, and the duff 12" deep? Would it look like a freeway then, what would your production rate be? My point is, your crew does good job in the country they work in every day, how would they perform in a fuel type and country that they have never seen?

A point was made as to the flexibility of inmate viris a shot crew. I look at a shot crew as 20 potential single resources, an inmate crew is a single resource. If you are letting your inmate lead person out of your sight with a squad, you need to be very careful cause that is a very unwise action, that radio he/she is carrying is no safety net. I have been "bit" more than once when I became the least bit trusting or complacent. Never forget the inmates are masters at gaining your trust then using a shank. What have they got to loose, if you break the rules? When I told myself "now I have seen it all" with some of the crap the inmates did, I usually was wrong cause something else would happen that would amaze me.

6 brought up some very good points, bottom line all crews have their strengths and weaknesses. Shot crews are still the standard that all others are judged against. That does not mean that there are other crews that are not as good but when you get a shot crew you are getting a known commodity. With other types of crews - sometimes you get lemonade and sometimes you get lemons.

WP

11/22 hi ab,

in regards to grilling the turkey, you must first place the turkey on a chair. then take a very bright light, hold it close to the turkey and say "ok turkey, where were you the night of 11-22-00." but seriously, if your cooking it on a weber charcoal bbq, place two beds of coals opposite each other against the edges of the bbq, (not too large of a pile) between the coal piles make a drip pan of aluminum foil, when the coals are ready, place bird on grill, and cook with dampers on low. position grill in such a manner that the handles are over the coals. this way you are able to add coals as you cook, without lifting the grill. by placing a thermometer between the thigh and body cavity, you'll be able to tell when the bird is done. it may be necessary to cover the bird with foil, to prevent overcooking of the skin. it works excellent. a 20lb. bird took about 2 1/2 hours, be sure to cook slow.

donna

Excellent. Will try it tomorrow. FireTurkey. Ab.

11/22 It's been a while since I checked "They Said". Fyr Eater's comments (11/17) regarding the movie "Red Skies Over Montana" brought back some memories for me. My father was a jumper out of McCall from the late '40s to mid '50s. I remember watching this movie with him on TV when I was a kid. In the scene Fyr Eater references, the jumpers are trapped by a crown fire and retreat into quickly dug holes, covering themselves with wet burlap sacks as the fire burns over them. My father's comment to this scene was "You'd be roasted down to the size of a peanut if you tried that in real life" - or words to that effect. Otherwise, my recollection is that he felt the movie was reasonably accurate, especially compared to more recent movies like "Always" and "Firestorm".

BTW-another movie of the same era that fairly accurately portrays wildland firefighting at that time is named (I think) "The Telegraph Creek Fire" and was (again, I think) a USFS documentary/training film.

Keep up the good work.

Bullwacker

11/22 -- To Michael et al re: Type I crews and alleged Type I crews. Easy way to settle this. Are you familiar with the old acronym CTFMG ?????????

Re: South Canyon and the book: FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN info is online at: www.wildfirenews.com/fireonthemountain

-- wg

11/22 Firegirl's page disappeared. Where? Anybody ever do turkey on the grill? HAPPY THANKSGIVING. Ab.
11/22 hey all !
tiny, you are so right. we are here to do the same job.this is becoming one of the more entertaining issues here because it is starting to sound like a my kids arguing about whose bike is better than the others! or whose toy is the coolest.lets pull our heads out of our butts.we all have our strengths and weaknesses. ALL of us.we are all brothers and sisters of fire fighting.we have one hell of alot of more important problems to pay attention to than this. damn shame we all couldnt meet for a couple of beers and discuss this like the adults that we are.
tiny, we can have soda pop for you.lol.
BC Davis
11/22 I've kept my mouth shut as long as I can stand it re: dispatcher's comments on crews returning from TN.

First of all, anybody in dispatch knows that only the NICC gods can control where, when, what, or how contract jets are scheduled to pick up crews. We take what we get, when we get it.

Secondly, how long do you think it takes eastern crews to mobilize to the west? It often takes about two days from the time the order is received to wheels up on contract jets. Then, it doesn't matter how long they've been up or what time crews arrive, they're "fresh" crews.

As for motels on a western assignment, I don't ever recall spending any time in one other than as a single resource. Upon arrival by jet, I've been on crews that were bussed for hours in the middle of the night and put out in open fields with no shade (the yard at Chino Prison ring a bell?), and told to "get some rest, you're night shift". Now, there are times we go straight to fire camp. Again, any sites that are remotely shady, away from the main drag, or quiet (by fire camp standards) are usually already taken. So we're told to get our sack lunches and "find a place to bed down, you're night shift". By the time we round up visqueen and build hooches, noonday sun and generators crank up. Finally, after 2.5 days or so in travel status, we hit our night shift - always a treat. Maps, frequencies, briefings? Try "Here's an old shift plan from a few days ago. And watch out for snags. Oh and you might want to double-lunch. We've had some transportation problems." Not that I'm complaining about all night walkabouts with a DIVS looking for a line that doesn't exist, or trying to find enough fire or even enough fuel to build a fire to stay warm while we mop up, or waiting for transportation at the end of the shift that doesn't come until halfway into the next shift. It's only money and the pay is much better on the clock than off!

As a wise person told me when I first started fighting fire in the 80's...This is the way it is. This is the way it's always been, this is the way it's always going to be. If you don't like it, stay home. I'm not saying we should mistreat crews, but everyone should go into it with their eyes open. It's organized chaos at best, I don't care where you're going or how long an incident has been in progress. We've all spent time in the sun, wind, rain, and snow as Logistics scrambles trying to accomodate ever-changing conditions. As for crews being put up in sleazy motels, while it's not acceptable, it may have been true in some cases. Try finding 120 motel rooms, in the middle of the night, that are in close proximity to one another in a high tourism area. Of course, most national contract vendors are located in the west so you can imagine how long it would take to mobilize caterer and shower units needed for a fire camp. It takes at least 5 days to move national contract crew transport to the south. (Now that I think of it, I did spend time at a"camp" out west that was nothing more than a compound with one water spigot coming out of the ground.) If the motels were truly unacceptable, the Crewboss, Crew Rep. or IARR should have made sure the problems were addressed.

For the record, this was, by far, the most difficult group of crews we've received in a long time. Numerous motel rooms were trashed (why would anyone steal a telephone?) and at least 3 crews were demobed with disciplinary problems including alcohol and drug abuse. Getting back to crews coming home, it's highly unusual for us NOT to get our crews back in the middle of the night. It's up to Staging and Dispatch to make sure those folks are provided the opportunity for adequate rest before continued travel back to the home unit. We either provide drivers for those people who can make it the rest of the way home in a couple of hours, or bed them down long enough to meet regulations. If they leave before they're given the green light, the remaining travel time is not compensable. We make every effort to provide a safe, comfortable environment while folks are in travel. No one likes to be in Staging, but it happens.

It's been a long "season" for everyone and we're all tired. But...it's always fire season in the south. And while most of our fires are short-lived, six weeks (usually more like six days) is a long time to go without a fire around here. During our lulls this summer, we continued to staff our dispatch offices 7 days a week, 10-14 hrs. a day, to support western mobilizations.

It's been a long year, period.
RK

11/22 Hi all, been lying low, but the ever listening pup has had about as much of this pissing match as he can tolerate.

In the famous words of one of the US's founders. "A house united will stand, whereas a house divided will fall." Remember, gentlemen and ladies, that when this is all said and done the real foe is not the other crew or resource, but the dragon that lies in wait out in the forests.

I do think that it's good to let off a few kilopascals of steam, but don't forget to draw the line somewhere. Else you might fault yourself before even setting foot on the lines.

Shot or inmate, rotor head or engine slug, RFPD or Federal agency, your turnouts are still made of nomex, your emblem is still the Maltese Cross. And your duty is still to preserve life and property.

Tiny

11/22 In this season of counting our blessings, I give thanks for all of us. And I'm particularly thankful for the impeccable among us, regardless of crews they belong to or lead.

Mellie

11/22 I've just located this web site, and have been following it for a few days, but this pissing match between shot crews, CDF crews, IM crews is just got to stop. I'm on a shot crew, and have worked with poor shot crews, likewise, we've worked with great shot crews, poor CDF crews, and great CDF crews, and great inmate crews. Every crew, every crew mamber for that matter, brings a certain dynamic to the fireline that can not be duplicated by another crew, which is a good thing! That's why some crews (whether it's CDF, inmate or shot) will excell at mop-up, others will excel at felling and others will excel at line construction.

Furthermore, when it's go time, I really don't care who else shows up on the line, I'm personally looking for people with tools that can help dig. I don't care if they're in prison for grand theft auto, if they are on a CDF crew, if they're jupmers or if they're cost-unit leaders. Granted, I have some biases on who I would PREFER to work with, but that's not always my choice. Every crew is different, every organization is different and all leadership is different. I think it would be very difficult to generalize USFS crews as better or worse than BLM crews, BIA crews, PS crews or CDF crews. The thing I use to determine my career options is this question: "If I could choose any position, and have it given to me tommorrow morning, who would I choose to work for?" In my mind, whoever you pick is the best for you, and I can also guarantee that if everyone on the crew you pick feels the same way, you will truely have one of the best crews.

-Holly's Boyfriend (inside joke)

Welcome to the site. This same "us vs. them" thread has run for the last 3 years and must be allowed to run it's course. Must say that over all topics, this years discussion is the most thoughtful, inspired, and lacking flames we've had to date! Ab.

11/22 S, a couple points on inmate crews for you to consider:

Labor pool: Inmates did not get to where they are at by being high quality people. This is always going to be a limiting factor in the quality of a crew.

Supervision: Most programs that use inmate labor do not have non-inmate hand crews. The normal progression is to start on engines, supervise engines, and then supervise inmates. The lack of time spent as a handcrew member by most inmate supervisors is a weakness that is hard to compensate for. By comparison most IHC Supts have spent years on the line as firefighters, squadleaders, etc. and have a much better grasp on their jobs.

Flexibility: Inmate crews will always be restricted in what they can and can't do. They can cut line on remote areas of large fires. They can't work in interface areas without additional supervision, they can't break into initial attack squads, they can't fly commercial, they can't break off skilled crewmembers to do a specialized job, they can't be sent out of the country or in most cases out of the state, and they can't be used as a training ground for future fire management professionals.

Standard of excellence: If you notice, both Michael and BC DAVIS use the performance of hotshot crews as the level of excellence that other resources can be compared to.

Required superior performance: Lets look at the advantages that IHCs have over inmate and other Type II crews.

  1. Personnel Selection. It is very competitive to get a position on an IHC. Selecting officials have a large number of high quality applicants to choose from.
  2. Training. IHC crewmembers receive a relatively high level of training for their grade and position in the fire organization.
  3. Experience. Hotshots end up with the most varied experience, in the most varied fuels, and the most diverse geographical assignments of any fire resource there is.
  4. Physical fitness. You have to look at the raw material. IHCs generally recruit people who show up to work in good shape and increase that fitness during p.t. Michael puts down the time/military proven methods of p.t., but the line is the final analysis. Maybe Michael's crew is in good shape, but I have never seen a con-crew out hike hotshots. Never.
  5. Cumulative effect: Hotshot crews have high quality personnel, the best training, daily fitness opportunities, and the ability to train and work together as a team.

With all of these advantages hotshot crews should be the most optimal 20 person crew resource out there. It is not that they are better people, it is that they have all of the advantages. They should be able to more effective than 20 smokejumpers thrown together, 20 regulars thrown together, or 20 inmates. If they can not out perform any of these other groups it is time to get a new superintendent.

6

11/21 Hopefully the last one...
I know I am slow, but wanted to get the information correct.

Smith, Phillip Dewey
Age: 49
Cause of Death: Stress/Exertion
Rank: Sergeant
Nature of Death: Heart Attack
Status: Career
Emergency Duty: No
Incident Date: 11/16/2000
Duty Type: Training
Incident Time: 11:55
Activity Type: Cutting Fire Breaks (Wildland)
Death Date: 11/16/2000
Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property

Fire Dept. Info: Fort McPherson Fire and Emergency Services
1626 Lewis Circle, SW
Ft. McPherson, Georgia 30330-1052
Chief: David Ellis

Initial Summary: Sgt. Smith had just completed a wildland fire training exercise when he collapsed and died from an apparent heat attack.

Not all of us are full-timers in the woods. But I am sure that we all share the same compassion and sorrow for those families, fellow workers, friends, and communities, for our fellow fire fighters which have given the supreme sacrifice in the pursuit of their chosen vocation of Wildland Fire Fighting.

Hickman

11/21 I certainly didn't intend to start a "pissing match", and have cast absolutely no aspersions against the Shots. I simply started out by clarifying that, at least in California, there are very certainly "Type 1" crews that are not Hot Shots, and ended up having to defend against some rather rabid attacks. My goal is to simply assert the facts which are evident to those who are not consumed by agency-specific chauvinism, and to promote a healthier, less antagonistic work environment. CDF crews are, on broad average, every bit the equal of the Hot Shots. Because there are so many more of us, it is statistically reasonable to assume that the bell-curve is broader for us than for the Shots. Consequently there are more of us at both ends of the spectrum.

"WP" made the astounding statement that "Shot crew are about the best for cutting line, but fall flat on their butts when it comes to prolonged mop-up." Actually, straight-out extended line construction in extreme conditions is where we excel. We are marginally better than the Shots at this (again, speaking in broad averages), probably due to the nature of our Fire Mission and jurisdiction, where, in contrast to F.S. lands, we encounter lower-altitude fires burning with higher intensity in difficult-to-cut chaparral, in close contact with the wildland-urban interface where we do not have the luxury of falling back to distant ridges where dozers can work, nor do we have the luxury of time. We gotta do it, and we gotta do it FAST!! And the line has to be wide. Quite properly, USFS personnel tend to construct smaller line due to the greater esthetic value of wilderness and scenic areas, and the lower intensity of the fires. Where the shots excel, my long experience tells me, is in large, complex firing operations, and the USFS in general excels in very large fires requiring very large fire organizations and very long-term planning. I've been very impressed by their Planning Section and Resource Unit people. As to mop-up - yeah, we're very good at that, because, after the first one or two operational periods at every USFS fire we go to, the USFS personnel are very diligent about assigning all mop-up operations to CDF crews..................

I would also like to correct another misapprehension. CDF crews are completely capable of splitting up into platoons. Both the Captain and swamper carry identical King 210 channel Handie-Talkies, and we divide up as necessary to accomplish the mission. Just another myth. We DO tend to keep them close during the higher-risk activities, as I am sure any crew leader would do. Finally, "J" attempted to make the case that CDF crews do not integrate into the two-shift fire pattern. I am not sure what single incident he observed, but my suspicion is that this was simply a case of a strike-team which had had several 12-hour shifts go to 18-hours each, with virtually no time for sleep, and the S.T. Leader simply requested a little extra sleep time before coming out on the third or fourth shift. The buzz-word "MOTEL (!!!!!!)" reached some USFS person's ears, and there you have it!. There is no requirement that we be accommodated at Motels unless same can be accomplished without negative impact on our firefighting responsibilities. It is not a big issue with us. I've slept in the burn many times. Due to our pay structure, where we are paid continuously portal to portal, we do not have the incentive to drag ourselves out to the line when we are literally zombies just simply to earn some extra pay. There are absolutely no limitations on how long we can be worked, either the inmates or the paid CDF personnel. Other than the two-week (or is it now three-week?) R&R requirement, we could theoretically be kept out on the line continuously day and night forever. I have often been among many CDF Captains who have absolutely refused to be released at the technical end of a shift because some critical fireline or firing operation had not been completed, and it would not be reasonable to leave the line until the situation had been stabilized and fresh resources were at hand.

Michael

11/21 My opinion on the CDF inmate vs Fed Hotshot crew.... you use hotshots where you know you need to trust more than ONE person to get a difficult job done. With a CDF crew, you rely on the crew captain to make decisions for the whole crew, who does he rely on? the inmates and all their years of fire knowledge? I dont think so.

With a hotshot crew, you can count on them to be able to split into functional groups ( squads ) capable of making individual tactical decisions. Inmate crews cannot do this, one being a legal reason ( they are prisoners ) and the fact that most inmates do not have the numerous years of firefighting experience to function at the squad/crew boss level. This is the dividing line for me.

I saw first hand the difference when they used an inmate crew as a flycrew on an FS contract. The captains were damn good firemen, but the inmates did not perform at the same level as the previous federal helishots, physically and mentally.

Killer is right, it is apples and oranges. One emphasis point is, as with all crews, they are only as good as their overhead.

Sting

11/21 More federal fire jobs info at www.fs.fed.us/fire/news.shtml
Nice article...
Firescribe
11/21 Megan,
I just finished reading "Fire On The Mountain". Consider that with the "South Canyon Fire Investigation" and we will realize the commonality is that mistakes were made, no one individual was to blame, and everyone was to blame. You decide for yourself. I don't believe the report is available on line, although an "executive summary" is. Look at www.nifc.gov/scanyon/execsumm.html. Best chance is to get a copy from the government printing office. Mine carries a tag of "U.S. Government Printing Office: 1994-573-183 / 84023 Region No. 8"

God bless those fine young men and women.

Old Fire Guy

11/21 Meagan,
For the Storm King Mountain official reports try these sites www.fs.fed.us/land/scanyon.html www.fs.fed.us/land/scanyon2.htm Read Fire on the Mountain for an in depth report on the circumstances leading up to the deaths of our comrades in the South Canyon (Storm King) Fire.

Mike,
I am sure that you don't mean to imply that anyone is crazy to compare any "con crew" to any "shot crew". Although I am not sure that the fireline is a good place to have "convict work crews" I want to remind you that these folks ARE ALSO part of the fire community. They are not there because they have to be. They are there for the same reason the rest of us are, or should be. I also don't think that we should lump all convicts together as lazy or "undesirables". The "con crews" are made up of people that don't want to sit on thier butts and are willing to work thier asses off to be in the outdoors. Although ego is an important part of every firefighters psyche lets' not puff ourselves up by standing on another firefighters back.

Fireronin

11/21 Dear Ab,

Not sure if this information covers what Megan is looking for. I found the following information on Storm King awhile back. This site www.fs.fed.us/arnf/fire/fire.html has a research article
Research Paper RMRS-RP-9 Fire Behavior Associated with the 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, Colorado with a reference section that lists the following USDA, USDI, and USDC. 1994. South Canyon Fire Investigation (Report of the South Canyon Fire accident investigation team). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Commerce. U.S. Government Printing Office, Region 8. Report 573-183. 243 p.

This reads like it might be the official report.

I'm not a firefighter so I am unsure of the relevance or accuracy of the research, but found the paper interesting.

Regards,
Joan

11/21 oldboy,
nice try on dragging me into the inmate vs shot battle....apples and oranges don't compare and opinions are like the proverbial a__h__e..EVERYONE has one. Build the best crew you can, keep them safe, have fun and give the taxpayer the best bang for his/her buck.........Killer
11/21 Ab, Would pass along this link to Megan.It is the final report on South Canyon.

www.fs.fed.us/land/scanyon2.htm

Stay safe,Keith

11/21 ok ok, enough of this shot versus inmate stuff! we all have a job to do on the fire line.maybe my CDF conterpart is very proud of his crew because of the circumstances he works under.all of us who fight fire in the wildland should be proud of ourselves.the tone here could effect our working relationship in the future.at any given time we could be working side by side.lets put this petty bull**** aside and lets get the job done. yes there are some lousy crews out there. i have worked with some shot crews that were the best and had great attitudes towards who they were working with. i also have worked with crews that thought they could handle a 30,000 acre fire by themselves.if we didnt have a little pride about our own crews the fires wouldnt ever get put out! there are more important issues to focus on than this pissing match. well, enough of this.

BC DAVIS

11/21 Have been reading the exchange re: hot shots vis inmate crews. Just got one thing to say to "S," GET OVER YOURSELF! I worked inmate crews for 13 years and in that time I had crews that I would put up to any shot crew in the country and I also had crews that I would have sooner left at home. Unless you have run inmate crews you cannot begin to understand the crew dynamics that makes one crew run smooth and the other not. It could be just one "Sh.. head" gumming up the works. It could be that the mail was late or they think another crew got better treatment on some issue. The list goes on. An accusation was made that inmate crews are not in shape, well when a person gets assigned to a crew they are the worst conditioned person on the crew, but in a few weeks they are at the same level as the rest of the crew. You have to remember these people go out and do hard physical labor 52 weeks a year in all kinds of weather. This is not a summer job for them, they do not have start a PT program to get into shape. They get into shape and stay that way all year around and do it by working hard every day. The ones that can't or won't get sent down the road, or they did at my camp.

On the other side I have seen shot crews pull some shady pretty stuff, like taking the long way home for extra hours, or other actions to pump the OT hours. Stuff the inmate crews would not think to do (unless of course they were making as much a shot crew person). Shot crew are about the best for cutting line, but fall flat on their butts when it comes to prolonged mop-up. When it comes to mopping up and gridding a hillside give me an inmate crew every time, make that a female inmate crew. As far as garbage on the line goes, I have seen all kinds of crews leave a mess, the inmate crews that work in my state do not do that, they know it could cost them a day's pay, and the sup's know that they will be required to go back and clean up the mess. The worst messes I have seen are by type 2 crews that are organized on a 'call when needed basis' and do not have strong leadership.

If you think of value received for work produced, the inmate crew out perform all other types of crews combined, Inmates make pennies per hour compared to dollars per hour that the shots and other crews make, all the while doing the same job. Yea I know, they are in jail for a reason, but that is not the point of discussion here.

Remember, a crew is as only as good as its leadership, maybe you have been lucky in having a good crew sup. That could change next season.

WP

11/20 I've been reading this CDF v/s Hotshot stuff and have been enjoying a good laugh. To say any CDF con crew is the equivalent of a shot crew is crazy. Its nice that somebody injects a little humor into this group with all the depressing political news on lately:)

Mike

11/20 Hello, wow, what a great website, keep up the good work.

I just spent all last summer working fire, SO MUCH FUN, I was usually on the FS White River Crew out of Colorado (Rifle), what an experience. Part of our training was to hike Storm King....I did it before I was ever sent out, and after being in some crazy situations I have come to realize that things do happen faster than can ever be explained to someone who hasn't been there. This was my first fire experience, and I also got to work on the Initial Attack crew as well as on an engine for a spell. You can bet that I am going back for more. The reason I am writing is because a friend of mine has been bugging me to get my hands on an official report from Storm King, easier said than done..do you have any suggestions? Please email me with whatever information you may have, sorry if you are tired of talking to people about this subject, but after fighting fires not 10 miles away from that spot all summer, I am very interested in what the report has to say. I appreciate it.

Stay safe
Megan
earthwindfire50@hotmail.com

Suggestions, Readers? Ab.

11/20 BW,

What about rotavators? Our wildlifers use them pretty routinely on light fuel burns. In fine fuels they do an adequate job and are not as intrusive or long lasting as furrows. I know foam and/or wet line has been done, but for a larger burn I do not feel so confident using it unless I have the manpower there to staff all the lines until everything is moped-up. A foam or wet line is only going to hold as long as the foam or water stays wet.

well, thats my 2cents worth anyway.

Pulaski

11/20 Before conducting a controlled surface burn in our area, a fire break is plowed using a crawler tractor. I am looking for methods to develop a fire break without plowing. If foam or retardants are used, what type, application rates and application methods are used?

Thanks,
BW

I assume the location of these breaks will be in R8. Ab.

11/20 Ab, here's a letter from Dombeck to all employees:
www.spfnic.fs.fed.us/nfp/ff/allemp_111500.htm

And an important bit of info to add to the site for all those seeking employment in fire:
www.fs.fed.us/fsjobs/

Firescribe

Will link to it today from the jobs page. Ab.

11/20 J,

FYI, the person who sent in the deaths in the line of duty stats posted here often compiles the stats that go into such columns on the firehouse.com website. I don't know that we should link to firehouse when we sometimes get the info in advance of them. Of course people can check that site out if they want. (Nothing like rousing my competative edge. Hey Ab, maybe you should let me start a news section on this site! Just kidding. I'm still working on the training and education links pages!)

Mellie

11/20 I THOUGHT that my post would generate some conflict, and it eventually did! Believe me, I am painfully aware of the intense and unreasoning dislike that many Hot Shots have for us, having to deal with it constantly. I generally try to get things off to a good start by ignoring the obscene gestures and comments, greeting them with a smile and friendly comments as we go by, and then showing what a CDF crew can do.

Couple of points. "S" mentioned " his so-called Bad Ass Inmates", which I will clarify is a term I did not use. He also faults me for not giving the Hotshots sufficient credit, but my only comment on that score was to call them "consistently good". He states they (CDF Crews) make "very good" line ("freeway"), but then says they are unmotivated. Since line construction is the bread-and-butter of Handcrew work, the two statements do not seem to be internally consistent. My own crew, as well as those of most all of the other Fire Captains with whom I am familiar, is very motivated. The motivation comes through fierce competition which I encourage, and the desire that all humans have to excel. Part of the problem is the lack of consistency among CDF crews which means that occasionally a Hotshot is going to observe one of our lesser lights, and that impression is going to stick with him or her for a very long time because it is so at odds with the work ethic that is so well-instilled in the Shots (and the USFS in general).

"S" also disparaged the physical fitness program that I outlined. It is perhaps my fault for not stressing the full extent of what a CDF Fire Crew's full work schedule is like. First, I have observed the physical fitness routines which Hot Shots typically utilize, and on the whole they are not quite the equal of most of ours. Taking my crew as fairly typical, the "two days of PT" that "S" refers to are not "two days in which we do PT". They are literally "two days of PT"!! We arrive at the training site, immediately do a tool-up, then set off an a hike (always, of course, in full Nomex including both layers top and bottom, full PPE, tools, six quarts minimum of water, chainsaws, etc.). The average hike is about five miles and includes an average of 1000 feet of elevation gain (not counting those feet which are ascended multiple times due to dips, etc.). That is an average figure, and we have several which we do regularly of over 1400 vertical feet. Immediately upon finishing the hike, we begin to cut line. Our local training area for the last several years is the brush-from-hell (AKA Velcro brush, etc.). It is all on steep slopes, 12 to 14 feet high, heavily entangled, and with no naturally occurring windows. For the next several hours we do nothing but cut line with minimal breaks. I require that all fuel be entirely removed from the line either by throwing it over the adjacent average 12-foot brush (an amazing physical feat in itself), or by cutting windows. In addition, it is completely trenched and staubed full-width. We do this until there is only enough time to sharpen tools then head home. Any single one of these days involves more actual physical labor, exhaustion, calories, or whatever you care to measure than many shots exert in a week (not counting firefighting). We do it twice. The other three days are spent in heavy physical labor for eight hours each, not counting lunch, transportation and equipment maintenance time. We spend very little time in the classroom, attending meetings, etc. etc, and NO time watching TV, reading, napping etc.. Most of my crew is literally drenched in sweat all day, every day - I'm talking you could wring quantities of water out of their clothing. Compare this to four or five days a week in which an hour or two is spent doing calisthenics in shorts and t-shirts, then pedaling a mountain-bike around.................

As to the trash issue, CDF crews up until a few years ago were exceptionally bad in this regard. However I have noticed a very marked improvement as the issue has been addressed by CDF Captains. My own crew knows they will be punished in a variety of ways if I find trash on the line, and police themselves very well. "S" states magnanimously that it is not only CDF but also he has seen trash left by "Type II crews". I've got news for him. The Hot Shots' record in this regard is not so HOT! We have often been blamed for trash which I know without a doubt has been left by shots. Though it is the exception not the rule, they could certainly do much better. I have personally picked up sizable quantities of trash along lengths of line which I know without a doubt has been occupied solely by Hot Shots. And it seems that USFS engine crews are worsening in this regard. BTW - I have been pushing an issue without success, which I hope will catch on. By volume or weight plastic water bottles account for 90 percent of the trash on the line nowadays. I've arrived at this figure by actually collecting it myself in bags out of curiosity then examining it. As a result, standing orders on my crew are that at no time is there ever to be a container for water or Gatorade or anything else in their packs other than the CDF-issued one-quart canteens. If they are re-supplied on the line with small water bottles, they use those to refill their canteens, crush the water bottle, replace the cap, and place them back in one of the boxes. Not such a hardship, and if adopted universally would eliminate almost the whole problem.

Now, just in case my defense of our crews is misunderstood, I want to state again that I admire and respect the Shots! I don't think the taxpayers of this country have the slightest clue as to just how much they get for their tax-dollar out of those men and women, and if they did, they'd rise up in revolt over the grossly unfair compensation provided for such difficult and dangerous work.

Michael

11/20 hey ab,
i am just getting started with NDF. i run a inmate crew. we do project work during the off fire season and start training for fire season in febuary.although i am still new to the inmate crew situation, from what i have heard some crews are pretty damn good. it all depends on the crewbosses that run them.everything from training to pt is a direct reflection on the crewboss. inmates crews from NDF have a good rep and we want to keep it that way.most of them want to fight fire. motivating them for fighting fire isnt as hard as getting them to work on projects.would i compare them to shot teams? no, but they have the potential to be better then some of the type2 crews that i have seen.as for the guys who bitched about cleaning after a inmate crew,you need to tear the crewbosses butt for the mess! just dont sell these crews short.we are always there and willing to do any task given to us.
anyways, i hope everyone is resting up for next year!
BC DAVIS
11/20 Hello! My son is a wildland fire fighter on a hotshot crew and I would like to purchase a camera that is small enough for him to carry while he is on his assignments. What better place to find the perfect answer than from the most knowledgeable guys!! I sure would appreciate any information you could send.

Thanks again for all your websites. They were a life saver this summer!

joan.beck@wi.usda.gov

11/18 Ab,
on Inmates versus Shots - Appreciate their reinforcment, but not in the same league. We shouldn't confuse Type I with meaning better or best, it just a system classification, which is working poorly at best with only two catagories for crews ( many OSC's track seperately in planning assignments on their 215, including Type II's). Experience dictates usually a need for 2-3 CDC's to 1 HS. CDC Inmates, by design, lack flexibility, versitility, ability to fragrament. This has a direct effect on operational efficiency. And on occasion, we've needed 3 shifts of CDF/CDC to work a 2 shift fire due to accomodate travel times & rest for CPT's to a hotel.(yep, we needed 6 crews, but had to have 9). Yes, as in any agency some are much better than others, which is usually ditectly attributed to the leadership. This is also true in the Hothshot world.

To Contractors: With the increase in Federal Wildland Fire Budgets, I believe there will still be a need, but not a need for all of you. Hopefully we will now be able to follow our standards and not held hostage by NIFC with an engine is an engine (YEA, RIGHT). FINALLY, the cream will rise and the rest will fall out. I believe only the strong (good equipment, personnel, quality & product) will survive.

On fatalities and up to the date information, the site "firehouse.com" has sections for in the line of duty, and has current associated news clips. The site also has a wildfire section that is usually up to date with news clips. There is a clip on the fatlity of the Sgt.on Thursday, no details yet. Before that, on 11/10 a 69 year old VFD who lost his fight after 30+ days in a burn center from a wildfire in NE WY on 10/08.

On PPE, in late 60's LP Shots were testing pants for Missoula. They were a jean style, and the same weight. On IA we put them over our Frisco's for the first shift. On extended we went to single layer. In 100 degree heat with 2 pair of jeans and chaps, shirt and a Filson vest, we obviously were not astute to the issue of heat stress.

Be Smart & Careful Out There
J

11/19 Ab I haven't been to this site for a while but I must say something about Michael's comments on his so called "Bad Ass" Inmates.

Number one I have been a Hotshot for 5 years. the time I spent on the crew we did not limit our pt program to just a measly two days a week. we would pt five days a week. You were expected to be in shape right out the git. if you weren't you got your ass kicked on the pt hikes and runs. we also did project work after our pt's. I'll say one thing about the mates- they can make one hell of a freeway, there line is very good, but from what I have seen of the inmates they don't seem to be to motivated to go out and kick ass like a hotshot crew. Although if I was paid as much as they were I wouldn't be too motivated either. My biggest bitch would be they throw there trash all over the division they are on. It seems every fire I have been on in R5 we end up picking up after them, and I'm talking more than one trash bag. Not to put the blame all on them, I have picked up after type two crews as well. So Michael I think you need to rethink your opinion about the inmate crews and give the hotshot crew a little more credit than you did.

S

11/19 Ab, I have to come out of the woodwork and say thanks for the great wallpaper page and directions. Thanks to those sharing their photos, too. Wish I had some to send in. A few of them are getting to be pretty famous on the fire internet, like burnout, the airtanker photo and elkbath.

R2 Rod

It is satisfying to think of the fire community having such good fire photos to put on their computers. If you haven't had a chance to check these out, click the wallpaper link at the top of the page. I also updated the JOBS PAGE and the 462 and 455 series links last night. Ab.

11/18 Hickman has summarized the line of duty deaths relating to wildland fire fighting and sent in the following statistics on 21 deaths. As I was entering this, he sent another e-mail indicating that the list may not be complete. There was a Sgt. at Fort McPhereson/Gillem, who died in the line of duty at 11:55 a.m. Thursday. Reports show he may have been on wildland fire training exercise. Hickman will be looking for more information. I propose that readers take a moment to honor those who gave their all. Ab.

LINE OF DUTY DEATHS RELATING TO WILDLAND FIRE FIGHTING
1/2000 THROUGH 11/10/2000

  • Average Age
    48.6
  • Cause
    2-stress/exertion
    11-struck by
    5-exposure
    1-illness unknown
    2-lightning strike
  • Rank
    10-firefighters (ff)
    1-district forester (df)
    1-forest tech (df)
    1-smoke jumper (sj)
    4-pilots
    1-air tactical group sup. (atgs)
    2-crew chiefs (cc)
           1-fixed wing
           1-rotor
    1-passenger (helicopter) (ff)
  • Nature of Death
    5-burns
           1-mva @ prescribed burn
           1-plowing fire break
           3-overrun by fire
    1-heart attack
    1-cerebral hemorrhage
    11-internal trauma
           1-from explosion
           1-apparatus accident
           1-chute malfunction
           3-fixed wing accidents
           5-helicopter accidents
    2-electrucutions (lightning)
    1-unknown
  • Status
    9-volunteer
    12-career
  • Emergency Duty
    4-nonemergency
    17-emergency
  • Type of Activity
    11-cutting fire breaks
    2-advancing hose/fire attack
    5-driving/operating
    2-riding
    1-other (parachute accident)
11/18

I guess I am not surprised about the lack of comments on Michael's post that CDF inmate crews are as good as Federal hotshot crews, it really doesn't merit response. (fire up Sting, you too Killer).

On the subject of Helicopter fire pilots as a career, true the opportunities may be greater now than any time, but why would you want this job? (I know the why, but here are the facts). Helicopter fire fighting is seasonal work, you may work yearlong depending on the company, but not likely. You don't make the wages you think you would or think you deserve. The flight environment is the most risky you will ever encounter (except when you are getting shot at). The aircraft may be used for a variety of applications in the off season (read logging) that it is not intended for (over torque/temp/gross) and then you get it. You will never have a home/family life as you go where the company sends you or you don't work. The back stabbing in the industry is incredible.

Well this sounds exactly like the job of a seasonal wildland firefighter. We all love it but it really takes its toll. More power to anyone who really wants to be a fire pilot, we need guys like you.

oldboy

11/18 Along the IMWTK thread, here's one of my early experiences with hardhats ... I was an engine crewmember and my STTO at the time had the engine rear dualie's back over two hardhats, one aluminum and one plastic. As I recall, both were knocked to hxxx -- Moral was, he said, "Don't use your hard hat for a chock block if it's on yer head".
Bear
11/18 OK, so if one puts aside the pissy attitude toward flying anything and gets right down to it, sounds like the opportunites flying fire are good right now. I also have heard that the Vietnam vets will be retiring soon and more pilots will be needed. I also have heard that training is harder to get and more expensive for rotors than fixed wing. Flying fire may be more dangerous than cropdusting, but fighting fire is also more dangerous than cultivating a field of crops. So what else is new? Some of us are drawn to fighting fire whether in the air or on the fireline.

JW, if you have a moment, could you give some of us beginners and wannabees your hit on flying fire (either fixed wing or rotor) as a career? If you were advising a son who was hellbent on doing this, what would you tell him (or her) about how it might be done and the things to watch out for?

Thanks,
AL

11/18 Eric,

I don't have any stats on Helicopter pilot replacements or retirements, but I am a pilot and your relative that is thinking of a career in flying should know that the opportunity has never been better for folks wishing to fly as a career. It is not cheap getting the training, but several airlines have started thier own schools and virtually guarentee a job to graduates. Some will even subsidize the cost of training with a committment. Generally speaking it is much more difficult and expensive to get the training and experience necesary to get a job commercially, flying rotors than fixed wing and the job opportunities and pay are not nearly as good. But if he wants to fly rotors it probably won't matter. As far as flying fire, don't you like this relative? I believe the majority of fire deaths have been pilots on a consistent basis over the years. Also, a fairly high number of accumulated "hours" are needed before any rotorhead can get on a fire gig as all those deaths are embarrassing and expensive to the employers and they try to keep the number down by requiring experience. Most fire rotor pilots fly for companies that employ them year round at such exciting jobs as flying stuff to oil rigs, remote elctrical maintenance, ag. spraying, etc. If your relative is primarily interested in flying fire...I would suggest that he get his fixed wing commercial lisc. and get a job with a ag spray company. They will likely have the best opportunity of flying fire and not killing themself flying SEAT in the near future. This is the only "fast track" that I know of. I would still take out a fairly large life insurance policy on them when they start flying fire anyway though.

Dana

11/17 IMWTK

When the orange fire shirts were phased out, the first yellow ones were 100% cotton and supposedly were treated with a retardant and had to be retreated after every 3 or so washings. I have several I rescued when Nomex came out.

R5 stopped using the metal hard hats in the 70's. There were several electrocutions (walking into downed power lines). I believe one death was a state firefighter and another a utility company worker.

Worked with one NPS helitack crew foreman that swears a metal helmet saved a trail crew member who walked into the a rotor.

I managed to hang onto one of the original field issued fire shelters. They case is almost twice the size of the current model. They had cellulose insulation for heat protection. California Dept of Forestry personnel used to be willing to trade two nomex "banana"suits for one shelter, as they did not get theirs until the Spanish Ranch Fire in the mid 70's, even though I know R5 had them in use from at least '73.

Check out the classic movie "Red Skies of Montana". You can get an idea of how far gear and PPE have come. The old WWII walkie talkie had a range of about 1/4 mile and a short battery life. The jumpers use canvas blankets for fire shelters. It is Hollywood, but better than old USFS training films. And I was told the gear was fairly accurate.

Fyr Eater

11/17 Lo Ab ;)

Hey Guys, Im sorry about the Powerpoint programs I mentioned earlier.

I cant burn copies of them in my burner. They have that stupid anti pirate software included. (ever try to burn copies of DVDS?)

On another note, Anyone have some statistics on Helicopter pilots and upcoming retirements? I heard a hefty percentage were trained by the US Army for Viet Nam. That brings them close to retirement age now. The reason I ask is a family member is looking at flying for a career.

been pretty slow here guys sorry havent answered email timely. been away.

later
eric

11/16 Old TH said

"I'm looking for a report that will quantify the scale of downsizing (personnel, equipment, stations) of FS during the Nineties. Any help out there?
Also, "anything that would clarify the quality of FS initial and extended attack on the Montana-Idaho fires this summer. thnx to any helpful soul "

TH should move his measuring stick back to the 1980's if he really want's to understand what downsizing is all about!
The 1990's was like a hiring free-for-all in fire management, compared to the 1980's.
Hence- the large gaping hole in the profession between the pups and the geezers.

The In between guy

I'm not sure of the actual statistics on downsizing averages across the nation, but from my observations, threre was a slow (relatively speaking), continuous reduction in federal suppression budgets over the last twenty years to cause the woefully inadequate response capability for this last season.  With the exception of last year, when there was a small addition to the regular federal fire preparedness budget, I'm unaware of any hiring frenzies, even relatively speaking.  Local hiring conditions may have appeared to increase due to attrition or an unusual amount of concurrent vacancies, but a "free-for-all"?  Since you are an in-betweener, so to speak, you should be able to take your pick of places and/or agencies you want to work for this coming season!  Have fun scrutinizing the "help wanted ads", Ab.

11/16 I am looking for someone  who has information on the S-290 Interavctive CD-ROM.

Thanks

tekebird@yahoo.com

11/16 As you may have heard, the WO made a decision in mid October to implementan Aerial Supervision Module (ASM) program and to phase out the Lead
Plane program as we know it today.  Both programs will run concurrently until the ASM program is fully implemented.  In a nut shell, the ASM will:
1.  include an air tactical pilot and an ATGS in one aircraft
2.  not perform the "low level close proximity" lead as we know it today

(exact mission flight profiles yet to be developed)

The intent is to start implementation in FY01, but lots of details still need to be worked out.  For a 5 page document from the National Office, go to the following web site:  www.fs.fed.us/fire/aviation/asm/
dispatch dude

11/15 Hi all, it has been a while. With the planning effort that is going into this new fire plan, been busy.

I am working on power point presentations for training. Would hate to recreate training that others have put together, anyone coming up with new ones that they have not posted yet? I think we are going to have to have our acts together when we get into training these new firefighters that are coming into the organization.

Sure is an interesting era we are entering.

Getting crews home from TN has been a royal pain in the ass. Crew loaded up on plane to head home, from what I have heard 300 of them, anyway, they load up at 0200, only to have the plane go off the runway and get stuck. Think it must have been taxining out for take off. So crews get off the plane, unload plane, wait for new plane, new plane show up, load up new plane, sit on new plane, eat dinner on new plane, then get off new plane because pilots would run out of duty hours. Crews have been up for 35-42 hours by this time. Since when do we demob crews in the middle of the night. Where is the safety in that, or the true question why would we even do that. I believe they are finally scheduled to land in Boise at 1220 today. Rumors from our crew are that they put them up in the sleeziest motels around, blood stains on the walls. What ever happened to taking care of the folks who come to help you. I dont think that that is a good way of showing appreciation. I have always believed that when you bring in resourses from the outside, you take good care of them, you brief them on your conditions, fire behavior, weather, give them good maps, frequency lists, and most of all you treat them with the upmost care. Then when it is time for them to go home, you thank them for their efforts. Then then next time you need resources, they are willing to come back.

I guess that is enough, just disapointed in how things worked out this go around.

dispatcher

11/15 Posted a new listing for 16 BLM Alaska Fire Service, Fire Specialist career jobs on the jobs page. Punch the jobs link button at the top of this page. Ab sez "remarkable". Hey NJ guys, send in those Idaho summer fire pictures again. The last ones didn't make it. Ab.
11/15 WJ, I appreciated the time and consideration you put into your post on fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. Made more sense than anything I've heard or read lately. I hope that Bob M is reading theysaid. The issue of people supporting the medium they've been trained in (helicopters) is truely insightful.

Reread the Kates Basin Report. Makes me sick to my stomach. Same old story, crew (indirect) above a fire on a southern slope in the afternoon with the chance of upslope winds. Why aren't we trained early on to recognize these conditions as dangerous? What happened to the idea of widespread training in the Campbell Prediction System? Another case of people supporting the kind of training they've gotten in the past, only this time with fire behavior? Aren't we a sorry lot when it comes to inability to change for the right reasons? The Redding Shots benefit from the training every year. How about someone making a computer game that focuses on slope, aspect, time of day and wind/weather conditions? Just playing would help firefighters automatically focus on some of these critical factors that combine over and over again in burnover situations.

Al

11/15 Hi All--

Thanks for all the responses to the IMWTK questions. The first fire shelter? Nifty, a buffalo skin or, for the white man, Pulaski's mine. Both cool ideas. Neat recounting from the ole shot and interesting recollections about hardhats and gloves and nomex. Thanks for sharing your experiences, modern day Pulaski. The fire service is not really very old. Congrats to Sue Husari and Louise Larsen for being first woman hotshot and first woman to retire in fire.

Tiny, I've learned this week that type I crews are 20 person crews who work together every day under the same leadership and have a heightened production rate. Hotshots are a "National Shared Resource" while other Type I crews can be dedicated (more or less) to a specific forest or region. Type I crews usually see much more fire than Type IIs. We will need their fire experience in the near future as attrition hits us big time.

Glad you're still around "Later, Dave". I've missed you! Missed you too, Ole Hot Shot, you lurker, you! I owe you a call. Rochelle, thanks for checking in. And Hickman, your job finally let you come up for air. GOOD, I thought your promotion had shot you into the ozone. I'll e-mail when I get home. It's hard to be away from theysaid. Hey Firehorse, BIG HUG! I've been peeking in every once in a while. Gotta get my fix of the yellow and red page! Will get to working on the training links page soon, Ab. Everyone, send me any links you know of.

I have been at budget meetings for a bit -- ether lines hanging out of the ceiling tiles this week as fire planners in R5 crunch on the budget... Becky and Ron, I'm hanging out tonight with a few of your friends. Lately I've been MELLIE on MEL. You were right, Old Fire Guy, when you told me some time back how complicated and iterative the process is! At least forests in all regions use the same computer processes/software. Thank goodness we're working toward 100% MEL (at least theoretically). If forest line officers don't rake a bunch off the top and if we can create the barracks to house new folks, we might make it in 3 years, FOBSIF. BTW, thanks for the invites to the meetings, RQ. Very interesting to see how the R5 Director and FMOs make decisions and then how the message works its way on down toward the fire ground. Ideas for stepped-up training are heartening. Good job so far with the Academy, Shirley. I applaud you all! Love the can-do attitude, even if the situation is a bit overwhelming!

Wish there were some hot issue I could poke at with my stick or someone I could prod in the behind. Life in fire seems pretty d[snip] good these days if we can just keep on keepin on.

Later and a [group hug] all around! Knock yourselves out! Hey, Ab, hope you're having as much fun as I am! Love you, Dude! I like the jobs page and other improvements and links you've done, too!
Mellie

11/14 I'm looking for a report that will quantify the scale of downsizing (personnel, equipment, stations) of FS during the Nineties. Any help out there? Also, anything that would clarify the quality of FS initial and extended attack on the Montana-Idaho fires this summer. thnx to any helpful soul

TH

11/14 I am looking for pictures from the 49er Fire, Trauner Fire, Cottonwood Fire, Williams Fire, and the Pendola Fire, all of which took place in the California Department of Forestry's Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit.

I am working on a webpage in which I would like to include photos of those fires.

If you have any, please send them to me via email. If you know of anyone who might have some, please, pass the word on.

Thank you for your help.
TONY
tpeard@oro.net

11/13 Changing the hardhats, the way I remember it, the hard sell was to try and get the crews to switch over to the plastic after having had the aluminum ones for so long. Well being the company man that I am I was to convince the crews to switch so I did a demonstration. I didn't know how it would turn out but I took a diggin' bar and the two styles of hardhats and put them on the ground, I first dropped the bar on the plastic one, it made a small gouge and bounced off, then I took the bar and dropped it on the ol' favorite skewered that ol' thing like a shish-ka-bob. Nobody argued for the aluminum hats after that !!

Later, Dave

11/13 Being in on the GIS side of the agency (on the new fire stuff) I am seeing the total job lists coming out...
From what I hear there will be more jobs than people.
If you don't get the first FS group of jobs- just wait. BLM and NPS and state agencies still have to do thier job releases.
Keep hanging in there and good luck,
GISgirl

p.s. If you are interested in an agency fire GIS job and have solid arcinfo arcview background- e-mail me at gis_girl27@hotmail.com - I'm curious what the interest level is out there.

11/12 RE ; First Recorded Fire Shelter Deployment
October 29, 1804
William Clark

......Green buffalow Skin was thrown over him
by his mother......

I wondered if anyone else had read the Journals of Lewis and Clark.

Dennis

11/12 JW, I did not read the meeting notes from the SF meeting but I did read your posting two or three times. Seems the question is, depending on who is speaking -- we are better than you are. Each type of aircraft has its place, each needs specific supervision and direction (coming from an old air traffic controller). If the folks who attended the meeting would have just looked a little farther north to British Columbia they would have seen a fire suppression program based on IA air attack that works.

Their philosophy is "hit them hard and keep them small." When a fire is reported in BC the first thing that is launched is a fixed wing "Bird Dog" with a highly qualified "Air Attack." Depending on fire location and/or report, a tanker or helo is launched. The Bird Dog acts as IC until someone can get to the fire on the ground. The Bird Dog is lead plane and command and control. If the fire has both fixed wings and rotor's operating, then a second person is put in the air, in a helo, coordinating rotor operations. If the fire is remote, which most of them are, then a "Rap-Attack" ship can be dispatched, the crew repels to the fire and the helo starts bucket operations. All the while the Bird Dog orbits the fire. "Air Attack" is not the pilot, the feeling is the pilot cannot fly the plane and fight the fire at the same time. It is common practice to paint a red line around the fire, work it with a helo and follow up with ground crews. The crews might be several hours out but that does not stop IA.

Now a lot of what they do in BC is necessitated by the remoteness of the country and lack of roads. In BC they are heavy in air resources and light in hand crews and engines. We on the other hand (the US) are a ground based IA organization with air used as a support resource. What they do seems to work for them just like what we do works for us, of course both systems do not work all the time because as we all know -- only time and weather end all fires.

WP

11/12 Hey Tiny,
The place that does all kind of studies related to fire, is the National Institute of Standards and Technology outside of Gaithersburg, Md. I'm not sure if they do wildland PPE studies, but I do know they do testing on PPE for structural firefighting. They also do sprinkler systems, building construction, etc. Hope this helps, meanwhile we are real busy here in the East.

To the Grateful Bitterrooter: I'm trying to find out how the people in the SleepingChild and Little SleepingChild area fared this summer, we got demobed on the 19th of Aug and I am trying to find out if their homes were spared.
DoorsMaurer

 
11/11 Have added a new page for wallpaper sized photos. Unfortunately I only began saving the original photos within the last six months, so I no longer have a couple of the best ones such as Guest11 and Burnout on the Fire2 page. I would appreciate those senders to resend the original digital image if possible. Ab.
11/11 ab,
you asked how many lives lost in and around the time of the hinkley fire MN. Im not sure if an accurate count was ever determined. A pretty good guess is listed on the NIFC historically significant fires list @ www.nifc.gov/stats/historicalstats.html

One thing to realize is that the majority of acreage and lives lost in the hinkley and WI fires of 1894 occured on Sept 1 of that year. These were not new ignitions that started that day but fires that had been burning pretty much all summer (remember summer is not typically a high fire danger time of the year in the lake states). It was very dry that year so the fires did not go out on their own and the social feeling at the time was that people wanted to get rid of the trees so that they could farm hence there was no or very little suppression of these fires unless they threatened property. Most of the area that burned was cutover white pine slash from (we have photos taken from near the turn of the century and their isnt a tree in sight.) all the logging that was going on at that time. On Sept 1st. a huge front came through that blew up all these fires in to a frenzy burning a majority of the acerage and lives lost. In Hinkley there is an excellent museum which tells the story of that town and the fire. Today, except for the sandy soil areas the areas of the hinkley and fires in NW WI, hardwoods are the dominant tree cover. But white pine is slowly making a comeback.

...ok, thats enough history lesson for today. ...quiz at the end of the week.
pulaski

11/11 From the Pup's Corner -

Spent the federal observance of the Nation's holiday to remember our fallen Veterans in a bit of reflection. Not only about the foriegn wars, which are in and of themselves a tragedy, but also in the domestic battles waged across the states. I personally feel that one death is too many, regardless of when or where it happens along the lines, and with all the talk about PPE etc these past few days I got to thinking, wouldn't it be nice if there were an Research & Development force designed for the keepers of the Maltese Cross? If there is such a place, I don't suppose it has a website or anything that anyone knows of? I, for one, am curious about improvements (if any) of the gear used in wild land fire operations. My reason being is I'm looking for the support side of the orginization, as I find that is my best role, where I can meet the equipment needs of men and women. I particularly enjoy the fact my Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps unit has allowed me the opportunity to aid in the support side of their operations, including both direct issuing of gear and setting up a computer network to streamline the information regarding each Cadet's issue and other administrative files, as well as using telecommunications to take that idea and apply it to a wide region. There must be an application for new technology somewhere on the fireline or in the fire camp, right? I see CIIMT 2's website to be a good example of this, but little to no information regarding new technology being applied. I hate to think that soldiers of America's homelands are loosing ground in the technology front.

Well, I bid to the Veteran's of the home-lines a Happy Veterans Day,

"Ranger" Tiny, the R-6 Fire Pup

P.S. Cheers to R-5's Student apprenticeship program... any other Regions testing this out? I'm sure there's plenty of interested fresh meat for the grinder out there. Well, at least I hope I'm not the only one!

11/11 Ab,

I see there seems to be a dialogue going about PPE. I know that in '71 the Northern California Hot Shots (Redding) had fire shelters assigned and taken on the line while contract crews did not (contemplated using them on one fire on the LP). I checked my photo album and know that yellow fire shirts were in use in '71. (I still have an orange one with my gear.) I also know that in '71 we were part of the test group for the step test and had an additional member on the crew whose primary job was to periodically take pulse rates and asked us to categorize how strenuous the level of work was that we had been doing prior to our pulse being taken. This information was then recorded to be later forwarded to the researchers. I don't remember exactly when we began using the step test in R5. I do remember being required to take it in around '73, though.

DAS

11/11 I stumbled upon your site a few weeks ago. I am not a firefighter, just a very grateful resident of Montana's Bitterroot valley. I think I can locate the bus driver from Rocky Boy, if firebabe nh has not already done so. If you could pass my address on to her, so I don't duplicate her efforts. I''ll be near Rocky Boy in a few weeks, and I will see what I can do. It's such an amazing story. It really should be shared. But then, this summer is filled with amazing stories. A grateful Bitterrooter
11/11 First Recorded Fire Shelter Deployment
October 29, 1804
William Clark

The Prarie was Set on fire (or caught by accident) by a young man of the Mandins, the fire went with such velocity that it burnt to death a man & woman, who Could not get to any place of Safty, one man a woman & Child much burnt and Several narrowly escaped the flame. ... The couse of his being Saved was a Green buffalow Skin was thrown over him by his mother who perhaps had more fore Sight for the pertection of her Son, and [l]ess for herself than those who escaped the flame, the Fire did not burn under the Skin leaveing the grass round the boy. This fire passed our Camp last [night] about 8 oClock P.M. it went with great rapitidity and looked Tremendioius.

J-Bob

11/10 Ab;

Regarding the anonymous "copter v. fixed-wing" notes from the Fire Director's SF meeting. They have been on the USFS email system with the sender's names attached, so I guess that they should be considered public information. It appears to me that the helicopter community in the USFS is making a run at the big money coming out of Washington, D.C. Just like the unfinished presidential race, attacks against the "opposition" are in order to press the point. Tony K. hasn't even hung up all of his office plaques yet and the new concepts are coming in the door wrapped in safety wrapping. I offer these comments not arguing "good v. bad" or "parochial v. 'thinking out of the box' " but as additional discussion points.

My comments are mine alone. My 32-year career has been all CDF with the exception of one season on a hotshot crew. I'm currently an ATGS with previous assignments in helitack, engines, IA dispatch, and supervision in field and GACC operations. Nearly all of my time has involved federal interagency operations and planning but I'm sure that my characterization of federal operations won't be fully accurate so discussion is expected.

Both sets of notes center on large fires. Large fires don't just happen, once they were small. Even with the current philosophy of fire being good and Smokey not quite so good there will be a significant number of starts that make the undesirable list. Initial attack and extended attack incidents will remain the bulk of day-to-day fire suppression activities (or there is no need to be called fire fighters). Even with the incredible number of acres burned at various times statistics show that fires attacked with the intent to suppress are controlled at reasonably small size.

It is my perception that the federal fire suppression system has an organizational culture that, often due to a lack of resources, makes the transition from an escaped IA fire to a managed incident without much of a reinforced extended attack (could this be from the "olden" days of needing to declare an escape to get a P-number and EFF monies?). Once in the large fire mode it will take days to assemble the ordered resources, much less start the rotation pattern. This relates to aerial resources in that the fixed-wing assets are widely dispersed and, even at P-3 and C-130 flight speeds, reinforcements arrive tomorrow.

The idea and use of the ATGS, with trained and qualified personnel, is fairly new in many areas of the country. The history of aerial supervision in the federal system centers on the lead plane. More widely spaced than the airtankers, the leads were the direct link from the fire boss to the once they arrived. The single crewed lead plane has been asked to perform a much larger role in recent years. Improvements in aircraft and a wholesale adoption of helicopters have created more complex aerial environment than years past. The result is that there have been more fire fighters move through the helicopter ranks and line operations than will ever move from the fixed-wing ranks to line operations. Teams bring their own ATGS personnel for numerous reasons. The requirements for becoming an AOBD are a helicopter oriented development path.

Therefore I see these meeting notes as skewed information. All people are more comfortable with situations and equipment with which they have had a positive experience. It goes without saying that a loyalty to their background operational community is to be expected. It is visible in all elements of our total fire community. Skewed information isn't a bad thing; it just needs to be recognized. Now, I have my skewed comments about the notes.

Helicopter Use on Large Fire Incidents
Read these meeting notes carefully. As with every meeting a lot of discussion is distilled down to bullet points. Fact is mixed with opinion. Why weren't the two postings presented as one set of notes? Is there going to be an official stance made by the Fire Directors? Is there to be an effort to substantiate the points?

Aerial Supervision by Helicopter
"Best" is a qualitative term, hard to quantify in determining the attributes of an aerial platform. Not all helicopter have better visibility nor do all fixed-wing aircraft have poor visibility. Match the equipment to the task.

What is the role of the ATGS? It is both strategic and tactical. When alone, the ATGS assumes the roles of strategic operations, air traffic control, and the tactical role of fixed-wing and helicopter coordination. As complexity increases the roles are split out as with any ICS supervision position. At this time the lead plane serves a function that an air attack aircraft doesn't, as a low-level safety officer. The TARMS study suggested that a trained Air Service Module (read low-level trained air attack or two-crew enhanced lead) could perform various roles as needed. So the rendering presented by the helicopter community is that if you keep the ASM above 500' AGL then you've created a new job for the always-proficient helicopter.

Helicopter v. Lead Plane
Can a helicopter do most of the lead plane role? Yes. Will the quality of the flight safety for airtankers suffer? I don't know that answer. I do know that the airtanker pilots like the lead to fly the entrance and exit routes to perform a safety check before they put a heavy aircraft into a low elevation profile. Will the helicopter pilots fly the same profile as an airtanker doing the checkout? Most light helicopters at top speed don't reach the retardant drop approach speed of an airtanker. There are other ways of doing the business such as "show me" and "follow you" patterns for the ATCO that would work well. They haven't been explored enough in the U.S. to discard. Since these notes are based on a large fire situation then the conclusion is that early suppression isn't important and helicopter-oriented team based ATGS personnel have no need for a fixed-wing ASM.

Helitanker v. Airtanker
Are helitankers good tools? You betcha, when they arrive. Are there 50-60 of them available and dedicated to exclusive use contracts? No, not with a daily minimum of four flight hours, flown or not (@$28,000). I dispute the "facts" presented on turnaround times. Airtankers are going to have a longer flight time profile than a helicopter but compare apples to apples. When I worked in helicopters we far surpassed the airtanker output for our geographical area over the course of a season. I shut down airtankers on many fires and utilize helicopter for hot spotting after the retardant has knocked the fire down. Give me the money to have helitankers based in the same time response configuration as airtankers are in CA and we'll have a fun time, but we're only talking about large fires.

There is always room for improving the aerial fire fighting system. The TARMS study is a good effort. I only hope that reasonable people intervene and look at the study as a whole and work to build the best system to meet IA, extended attack, and large incident needs. The reason we are using airtankers and helicopters now is that they both have attributes that are needed. Instead of one aviation community back-stabbing the other for superior positioning let's get back to the needs assessment and use the anticipated flow of money to fix deficiencies instead of building kingdoms.

Sorry use up so much space. This is a good late night bull session subject!

JW

Thanks for your thoughtful comments JW. It was my request to Anonymous that the information be divided in half because was so long. Ab.

11/10 Not sure if it should count for deployments but what about Peshtigo WI 1871, Hinkley and others in MN and WI in 1894? Many folks took shelter in ponds, streams and wells. Not all of em were firefighters, but Im sure some were fighting to protect their homes and property. ..oh yea...I have documented a fire in WI on the same day as Hinkley, but in WI where several logging camp employees were caught by the fire and, in trying to protect the logging camp, escaped into the black.

On a side note regarding the logging camp episode. These individuals were ordered to go to the logging camps and start prepping them for the winter logging season (that was the time the majority of logging took place back then) and "see what they could do to protect the camps from any fires" since it was such a dry fall. The writer stated that they went to the camps and "rounded up some oxen" and tried to plow up firelines around the camp. What the?? ...I guess oxen were just out there roaming wild around the countryside then. Unfortunatly for these hapless souls, it was Sept. 1 1894 probably the worst fire day ever in the lake states. Unless you really dig, you only hear about the Hinkley Fire on that day. I have found documentation of many large fires all over MN and WI on that day with the nearly same outcome as Hinkley but less life lost.

ok...Im rambling..

Pulaski

Pulaski, do you know how many lives were lost in the Hinkley Fire (and others) around that time? Ab.

11/10 Readers--
Added the 455 series that is used by BLM and NPS for filling Federal wildland fire job vacancies. Put links to our linked summary tables (drawn from and linked to the US OPM website) at the top of the Jobs Table. along with the link to the 462 job offerings. Will update on Fridays. Happy browsing... Movin' on up...
Ab.
11/10 I'm sure you've been there before..
www.firelookout.com/trivia.html

wonder how many others have...?

Enjoy the little bits of trivia y'all are come'n up with..
Hilbille

11/09 -- RE: the first fire shelter deployment, with the suggestion of thinking beyond the traditional shelter, well ..... that would have to be Mr. Pulaski and his flock down in a mine shelter, wouldn't it?

WG

11/09 Again playing on the computer and getting paid for it... Went looking for some answers to some of the IMWTK questions. Started looking for information on hardhats. Found on the NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL LIBRARY Pictures starting in 1952 where hardhats were showing up in pictures of western firefighters in Idaho. Colorado firefighters weren't using them in pictures about the same time. But from 1953 on hardhats were common, which the 'Saladbowl' appearing to be the choice. One picture in '63 showed the cap style, but that's the only one found.

Using the Black as a Safety Zone? Wag Dodge, Foreman of the Mann Gulch Fire on August 5, 1949, use fire to create a burnt area where he layed down in the ash and survived the burn over.

Woooops after 5pm...Quit'n Time...

Hickman

11/09 Shirley Sutliff, Apprenticeship Program Coordinator, FAM, sent out the Fire Apprenticeship (JAC Academy) Announcement today.

Her message: Attached is the vacancy announcement (OPM#2 Fire Apprentice Announcement) for the next round. Notice that it is only open for 3 weeks. Please distribute as widely as possible!!

Click here for the Vacancy, November 2000.

11/09 Here is the FINAL Kates Basin fatality report: fire.nifc.nps.gov/bia/SAFETY/final_report.htm#EXECUTIVE

AL

11/09 As to your question about the first fire woman retiree, that would be Louise Larson, who retired last summer from the Sierra. She was the Forest Fuels Officer when she retired. There are several of us within 3-5 years. If you want a good perspective on the history of women in wildland fire, check out Michael Thoele's book, "Fireline: Summer Battles of the West". Chapter 9 is devoted to the Sisterhood.

Becky

11/09 For simplicity in checking federal fire jobs in the 462 series that are posted at USAjobs, I have created a new link and placed it at the top of the jobs table. For the time being I will update this list once a week -- every Friday. If listings pick up or if it seems warranted, I may go to updating it twice a week. Also, be sure you check out the R5 EOS jobs link. Again, if you're offering a job and want to highlight it to readers or if the job you're offering is not found via these links, feel free to send in a description, closing date, and contact and we'll be happy to post it.
Ab.
11/08 IMWTK: More trivia

How about the first fire shelter deployment? Think beyond the "traditional" fire shelter.

Dennis

11/09 Ab

I remember the first fire shelter we saw was in 1961. They were issued to El Cariso Hot Shots for testing. The shelter was in a cone shape and was designed to be used standing upright. It had a slit in it for one to see where they were going.

One day on a fire in the Angeles NF we thought we would conduct a field drill. We had all of them deploy the shelter and walk around the hill we were on to "get the feel". Air attack saw us and tried to explain what he was seeing to the Fire Boss. We probably got our ass chewed for it but we did get the testing done. We never had the unfortunate luck to have to use the fire shelter while I was on the crew in 1961 and 1962, It was the best of my days in the service.

Ole Hot Shot

11/09 If I were an applicant for one of the entry level fire jobs soon to hit the web (I'm told Nov 15 is the target date), I would prepare an application with the following included.
1. Listing of all of the fire courses attended.
2. Listing of the number of fires worked on by size class with some narrative on variety of fuels worked.
3. Formal education.
4. Narratives with examples of the type of work done on fires. Technical skills. Experience with the various different types of pumps, engines, chainsaws, other tools. Ability to scout, take weather, operate a radio,.
5. Leadership responsibility/experience. Are you a squad boss, crew boss, ever been placed in charge of a group of people for even a short time?
6. Commitment to SAFETY! And, mutual respect in the workplace. Any EEO courses taken? Intergender Communications? Serving as a mentor to any rookie firefighters?
7. Resource experience? What good are you when there is no fire raging? Can you mark timber, build trails, maintain campgrounds, do wildlife surveys? Can you use a compass and/or GPS, ever do any landline work, plant trees? Can you give a "legal description" or find one on a map (helpful in getting you to the fire). Can you repair things? Are you computer literate?
Everything the evaluating team has to go on will be right there on the paper......only if you put it there. And with the WO putting out the announcement, you may not have more than the one chance.

Final tip: These are entry level positions. It's a foot in the door and you are expected to grow and maybe move on. Don't hold out for the perfect job in the perfect location (where you want to retire). If you are satisfied with nothing more than an entry level job, then I wouldn't want you and I doubt any other selecting official would either.
Good Luck!

Old Fire Guy

11/09 Ab asked: "Tiny, are Hotshots the only kind of Type I handcrew? If not, what are the requirements to qualify as being Type I?"

The California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection has around 180+ Type 1 Fire Crews. These are seventeen-person crews plus Fire Captain. Most are adult inmates from the Calif. Dept. of Corrections, the remainder are wards from the Calif. Youth Authority.

In my opinion, with 31 years as a wildland firefighter and over eleven of those years as a Crew Captain, our Fire Crews are every bit the equal of Forest Service Hot Shot crews. With this one caveat: the Hot Shot crews are more consistently good. The quality of our crews spans a wider range from so-so to outstanding. When speaking of averages, though, it is a very close match. My own philosophy of what makes a good fire crew is essentially 90% the ability to hike, cut for hours on end, and have tremendous heat acclimation. It is manual labor in the most extreme conditions. I strive for two days per week of intensive hiking and cutting during fire season (always in full PPE w/packs and tools, etc.), with the remaining three days on "grade projects", where I keep the crew hard at it with minimal breaks no matter what the weather. This keeps them in prime fire-fighting condition, and used to working together. The "grade projects" continue throughout the winter, though the hiking and cutting begin to scale up starting in mid-February.

Michael

11/09 ahh...those aluminum bullards! ..Mine is still hangin on the wall behind my desk. I beleive the first year that shelters were required at all times on the fire line was either 77 or 78. I would have thought the step test started earlier. There were two ladies on redding in 1981, Sue H. and Beth L. In 1982 Beth became foreman on the mendocino, I beieive that was the first female supervisors on shot crews..but then that was a long time ago and Im starting to get oldtimers I think.

pulaski

11/08 Re: IMWTK

I'll go with the thought that the hard hat was the first PPE...unless it was gloves.

Sue Husari may have been the first woman hotshot, but the first one I saw was, I think, Deanne Schulman on the Los Prietos crew in '77. I believe she'd been on the crew for a season or two then, but I'm going senile and could well be wrong. Deanne later went on to become the first woman jumper.

Don't know any women fire retirees, but it's been just about long enough.

BLM Bob

11/08 Again good question (about when hardhats). Trying to remember when the USFS started the step test--best i can remember was about 75-76 (I'm almost sure I took my first one in Saratoga, WY 5/6-75. Orange fire shirts--74? Fire shelter seems like late 70s?

Also heard the other day the FS is now going to consolidate all the new fire job hiring. Those that were already out reached or advertised will (might) go forward but new ones (a bunch) will probably be put on hold til they figure out the process. Bureaucracy at its best!
Old Ranger

11/08 Several new job listings. I can see I need to do a "how to" on finding your way through the maze of USAjobs, since you can't find fire positions under anything relating to "FIRE". We know it's series 0462, but first-timers don't. It's no wonder we have few applicants when youngsters can't even figure out how to find the job listings in fire. Ok, off my podium.

I'll toss out a few IMWTK:
When did the drip torch make its debut?
Were early lookouts mostly women and, of them, which one might be considered the most "stylish"? (Tongue firmly in cheek!)
Who was the first person who became widely known for suggesting use of the black as a safety zone?
When did the first airtanker drop a load on a fire and what fire was it?
Tiny, are Hotshots the only kind of Type I handcrew? If not, what are the requirements to qualify as being Type I?
Ab.

11/08 I heard there was a woman who retired on the Sierra NF, I think in the last few years, who might be the first one to retire in fire. Could someone there check around? Don't know her name. Sue Husari might have been the first Shot at least in Calif.
This is fun. Anyone have any other IMWTK questions of a historical nature? Some of this stuff should be recorded for posterity. I even liked that question about what gear people carried... and the rolls of toilet paper. Not too heavy, but sure fills things up.

AL

11/08 IMWTK.

The question regarding the first PPE (the term was not in use then) was good. The hardhat requirement caused some turmoil among the field going troops. Charlie Fisher was the engine foreman on the Oak Knoll Ranger District on the Klamath. The troops liked wearing their old felt hats and being told that they were required to wear hardhats in the field did not set right. His response was to show up to work in a suit he had made out of sheet metal. When they started talking about requiring steel toe boats he retired.

I am sure that Charlie wished he had one of those orange shirts for deer hunting when they came out. I pulled out my old orange fire shirt the other day but the material has shrunk a number of sizes.

Siskiyou

11/07 Couldn't begin to answer the 2nd question. But 1ST PPE had to be the hard hat. When? Good question! I know my first seasonal job in 63 we were given hard hats but had to supply our own calk boots in Northern Idaho. By the way still have it .
old ranger

And the first ones were aluminum, right? Today they have to be plastic because of concerns for lightening strike. Ab.

11/07 To Ab and the rest of his (questionable) crew:

Yep I'm still alive..and been watching.....just been busy with my new 40 hour job, which had turned out to be 50 hour per week job...

Well I would say that this year's fire season is just about over, except for those in the southeast. For the rest of us who are tring to educate the rest of the world, the year is just starting again. For those of you that have to set in front of a computer and build an educational presentation for firefighters the problems of keeping it interesting and entertaining can be a real challenge. I'm sure that a bunch of you may already know of this web site:
www.firepix.net
There's alot of good pictures to add into your presentations and a picture of you may even be there if you look real hard...

Good Luck and Stay Warm this winter
Hickman

11/07 Ab,

Tiny and Mellie were wondering about airspace restrictions for presidential security. I know that FAA creates a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) under CFR Part 91.141 whenever the President travels. The TFR prohibits any low-level flying in the vicinity of the Presidential party. FAA will give the particulars to pilots as a NOTAM (Notification to Airmen) during pilot briefings.

Hope this helps,
-JD

11/07 Re: DT and his comment "Enjoy venting the steam, but it won't improve..." Sounds like DT needs to sell insurance or some other private industry occupation to improve his attitude. I say if something's wrong -then fix it. Dead wood should be a fuels management problem, not a personnel problem.

I use to work for DoD as a firefighter and worked with some fine people. What scared me were the few folks who had pretty much dried up inside with regard to new ideas and focus. To them the world was one big violin that they accompanied their whining with. If you want to suck the energy and focus from an organization, just carry a few well placed whiners along for ballast. That's what keeps improvement in check and lots of whiney violin music in the air.

Bottom line -don't whine if you aren't willing to WORK toward improvement. HINT: The change occurs between one's ears before it happens in the organization as a whole. After 16 years the violin music gets old, and 30 years is much too long a time to waste one's life away in an organization which one is disgusted with. Perhaps it's time to let some young, snot-nosed kids take over......

Thunderstream

Ab agrees and added the bold for emphasis.

11/07 -- Might be important to note, contrary to Firescribe's earlier post, that the new ASM module won't exactly "take the place of" the leadplane program. Both safety councils in Boise two weeks ago supported for the record the current leadplane program. The acquisition of new aircraft for the team-approach ASM (with upgraded technology for both safety and drop effectiveness) will take a while ... and even after all the new aircraft are acquired and tested and used in the field, they'll still have the ability to perform the lead function when requested. Yes, a new way of doing things is being phased in. No, the leadplane program is not being "cut."

WG

11/07 I put a link at the top/right of the jobs page to the R5 USFS Enhanced Outreach System. You can search for fire jobs over the entire database, by forest or for individual positions. If other regions/organizations come up with similar systems, we'll make links to those, too. Our goal is to get the best in the best positions.
Movin' on up... Ab.
11/07 Readers, some links for your reading enjoyment and elucidation:

Check out the national sit report. Very high to extreme fire indices are reported in North Carolina, Virginia and California.

Here's the Southern Area morning report. Six type I teams (Gage, Stam, Stutler, Melton, Studebaker, Frye) and one type II team (Kearney) are fighting fires in Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky.

Some stories on the eastern fires at FS NEWS. Also info there and at FS AVIATION NEWS. on the new aerial supervision module program that takes the place of the leadplane program.

Firescribe

11/07 Inquiring Minds Want to Know (IMWTK)
Fire History:

What was the first peice of PPE issued to a wildland firefighter, and when (year)?

Who was the first woman hotshot, where and when?

Is there already a first woman retiree in fire? That is, have women been in fire long enough to have retired?

11/07 Readers, jobhunters,
Check out the newest job announcement: Martha's Vinyard, Mass and offered by the NATURE CONSERVANCY. Click the job button on the header for fast access. I listed all the info on this one because it's kinda fascinating. Ya gotta be able to drive a stick shift among other things. Sounds like you get some burning opportunities, too.
Thanks for sending it in, Mike.
Ab.
11/06 More notes from the 10/2000 Fire Director's Mtg in SF

WHY USE THE HELITANKER ON LARGE FIRES?

  • Contract data = A 2000 gal helitanker costs twice as much pre flight as a 2000 gal airtanker.
  • Facts = The helicpoter averages one turnaround each 6 min. The airtanker averages one turnaround every 48 min.
  • The airtanker would deliver 2,400 gal each hr.
  • The helitanker would deliver 20,000 gal each hr.
  • Results = 8.3 times the production per hour.
  • Costs = $1.70/gal delivered by airtanker.
  • Costs = $0.33/gal delivered by helitanker (not including cost of chemical)
  • ADFF study states a water/retardant ratio of 3:1.
  • National airtanker study states a water/retardant ratio of 2:1
  • (Both ratios unjustified, NWST study underway to establish justified values).
  • Blakeley study, Missoula, 1985. Tests showed that it is the water that reduces the flaming by absorbing the heat. Retardant provides the most benefit when water is in short supply. Increasing the amount of water ... reduces the suppression effectiveness of retardant ... until the chemical effect is completely overshadowed (Blakeley).
  • National Airtanker study stated that helicopter drops are two times as accurate.
  • Airtankers are most efficient in suppressing 1/4 to 1/2 acre fires, i.e., Initial Attack
  • Cost of retardant = approx $1.00 per gallon.
  • Cost of water = negligible (usually).
    (These costs are above flight delivery costs.)
11/06 Ab,

SEAT = Single Engine Air Tanker = Type 4 = Usually an Agcat or equivalent. Some come in a module with a fuel truck, water tenders, and ground support like a CWN Helicopter. Can operate off of unimproved roads for remote access fires.

Good question on BOI. I know Air Force One routes are protected by fighter escort. F-15's if I recall. Nada will even come close to Air Force One guaranteed!

Ray C.

11/06 Don't forget the 2000 Annual Lookout Meeting, Sat Nov 11 at the Anderson (CA) Round Table Pizza 5-9PM. Contact sonjapage@earthlink.net for more info.
11/06 A little off topic but if you have not visited www.classmates.com do so! Its basicly a collection house and forum for people from the same high school (or military unit) to touch bases. You can register, search and use the message board for free but to be able to get a registered persons email address you have to fork over a few bucks.(or just post a message to the message board looking for the person you are interested in and most likly you will get results). I started searching names of old long lost relatives, classmates and fire folks and have had fair success. The more the word gets out and people register the better.

pulaski

11/05 OK, OK, WP so you caught me! You're right, I didn't consult Tiny before I sent in the post and he knew the answers to the SE (only logical, he says, hmph) and the FPD (makin him look bad, he says). Oh well, blame it on too many margaritas on a Sunday evening. Beggin' your pardon, Tiny. And no, you can't have one, you're not ole enough! Thanks WP! Looking back at the post with BOI in it, you're probably right.

Anyway, still goin' crazy over FFIS and I will not look it up!

Hope everyone else is a s happpy as I am. Uh oh, Ab's takin away the keys to my computer.
Mellie

11/05 Ranger Mellie,

To answer your questions: In my part of the county the fire districts are officially called Fire Protection Districts (FPD). Changed from VFD's long time ago. Tiny, you should know that one, didn't you belong to 5 south for a while?

SE stands for "single engine," when not fighting fires these ships can be found spraying crops.

Did search on the FAA web site for BOI and all I could come up with for you is that the FAA uses BOI as the three letter identifier for Boise International Airport.

WP

11/05 Wanted to jump in on a couple of subjects.

New permanent positions. This is going to be the year many of you have been waiting for. If you have been a PA, you still may have a shot. But the system ain't, and never has been completely "fair".

Some jobs go to best qualified, some go to person who has put in the most time and is felt to be "owed" the job; some jobs will go to the best person in an "underrepresented group"; some will go to biggest con-artist; some will go to a buddy of the selecting official. It all depends on unit and person and how big the pile of applicants is. I was on a panel recently that the job went to third best choice, precisely because this person was the "strong local candidate".

So what do you do? Good high quality applications, well written, easy to read, give those rating the applications a chance to see what a good choice you are. Get help from folks who have been successful. Selling yourself is distasteful to most, but you must do it. If it's a FS job and you are responding to a DEMO announcement, see if there is a companion internal vacancy announcement. If there is, there will be Evaluation Criteria. Respond to them as if you were applying to the internal announcement. This is how the first cut will be judged, those who are merely qualified vs. those who are highly qualified and thus will be those who are actually considered for the job.

I repeat, get help. Apply to any job you think you may be able be happy with if you get it. The more you apply for the better your chances. You may be the selecting official's buddy, but an older or bigger one may also apply. While bitching about how unfair the system is, I hope you have observing how it works and how to turn it to your advantage. How do you think those biggies you love to hate made it? (OK some got lucky - right place at right time). Permanent fire jobs have been slowly increasing for years. Now it's going to explode, make the most of the opportunity.

While building this huge fire organization, I hope some thought goes to how to keep it. That means some accountability and way to show something for the money spent. There are places I suspect this new work force will have little marginal impact - on acres burned, as that is still very much weather dependent. Number of times you washed the engine and shined the brass per day during slow years won't impress folks much either. Number of person hours spent hanging out within 5 minutes from a major highway while its raining won't impress many taxpayers or congresspersons. Acres of fuel reduction, fire trails maintained, acres of thinning are different. Those could be impressive. Yep, you might even want to brag about how much garbage is picked up, picnic tables repainted etc. I suspect it will take a couple of slow years (before congress begins cutting funding again), but usually when congress wakes up and throws money, they get distracted by something else, somewhere else, and then the downsizing begins. The units that can show benefit, and bang for the buck will be in better shape.

Enough,.... good luck.
BW

Good advice, BW. Ab.

11/05 Tiny and Mellie here, catching up with the last 3 months of acronyms. We have just a few questions:

What is BOI airspace that is created for presidential security?
FPD? WP, you used this one...
SEAT -- What's the SE stand for? AT is airtanker, obviously.
FFIS is driving Mellie *crazy*. It's something to do with funds and budget, she thinks, but doesn't want to look it up! Anyone know?
Check the acronyms list! Any to add? Any to correct?

Thanks,
The Fire Twins :) ;) (well, kinda! NOT)

11/05 Regarding Blackie's poem on wildfire, you can also just click this link: www.npr.org/ramfiles/me/20000919.me.04.ram

WG

Yep, that takes you right to the poem. Faster than mine, bump up. Ab.

11/05 Hi AB,
Recently I had the opportunity to talk with a high level FMO manager from NIFC and asked some questions regarding the $1.6 Billion in funding the federal wildland agencies were getting. He told me that besides the many new IHC crews that will be coming on districts can expect the addition of one or two new engines per district/area (unknown if that was new-staffed engines or new-replacement engines). The good news was when I asked "Will the Forest/District/Parks/Refuge Superintendants be able to syphon off fire funds for the non-fire projects?" the answer he told me was "The additional funding cannot be used for anything other than Fire Ops, and that is the way the funding requirements were written."

I then asked about them trying to take money from the Forest's regular Fire Budget and was told that "The additional funding language specifically states that the Agency leaders cannot reduce the existing or future budgets of their FMO programs with regard to the additional funding (ie, the Forest Superindendant cannot take out $1.0 million of his current FMO budget for other projects because FMO is recieving an additional $1.0 million). In clear text, they can't take money away from Fire because Fire got extra money.

I hope this is true because for too many years the guys who don't like Fire won't be able to play anymore games, which I hope will mean no more BS project work that is not Fire Related. To you FMO's out there, keep a close eye on you budget allocations because its been made clear they can't take money away.

MOC4546

11/05 I found a great poem on wildfire on the NPR site. It takes a little bit of work to get to (unless your a computer guru, which I'm not). The poem is by Baxter Black who lives in Southern AZ near me and it's pretty cool. Here goes the process: go to www.npr.org then in the keyword search type in Baxter Black, when the menu pops up click on "Baxter Black on Wildfire". Enjoy, be safe and have a great winter.
Jim
p.s. It takes Real Player to play the segment.

Here's a direct, no-mucking-around way. Click the link below, type BAXTER BLACK WILDFIRE in the keyword search box, hit the find button; one item comes up (Baxter Black on Wildfires), click that and then hit "Listen to Segment". (If you're not familiar with Real Player but have it, the RP blue bubble pops up in your windows bar across the bottom of your screen and you open that.) The poem starts after a moment of being loaded into the buffer. The poem is 3 min 38 seconds and is awesome! Thanks Jim! Ab.    http://search.npr.org/

11/04 Hi Ab!
Well, as you know, fire season is at last over in Ca. I've gone back to the Land 'O Hook and Ladders. No More wildland fire for Engineer Emmett! I will still go out as field observer,line medic etc. but for the rest of my career, structure fires will be the order of the day. I had a very educational 2 year tour, but the lure of the city side of CDF drew me back. I've enclosed a logo for you of Fresno County Fire District's patch.

Enjoy!
Engineer Emmett

I put it on the Logo2 page. Ab.

11/03 Ab,

Appriciated Horn's thoughtful response to my observations. It's nice to hear someone in the Agency says that Engine and Tender Contractors have a place in the federal fire system.

Regarding his comment that 50 percent of your contract engines did not pass inspection, this could be good or bad. Good, if they were reasonable inspections for DOT, Red Cards and equipment. Identifying problems or non-compliance is good for us all. But if operators were ambushed by obscure decrees or local preferences and sent packing, then such inspections would take on a much different light.

Contractors should know the reasonable, consistant standards they must meet. These standard must be fairly and uniformly enforced, no matter what region our equipment is assigned to. In this, operators who don't make the grade will learn that they must either improve or get out of the business. As far as field equipment failures, here again is an issue where consistancy would be valued. Obviously, if an engine is working for prolonged periods in extremely rugged conditions, provisions must be made for maintenance above what the crew can provide. Sometimes this is difficult when fire scenes are remote and far from the nearest private Wrench. I have been on fires when we have had maintenance issues and we were told agency mechanics who were on the fire were not available to us.

Regarding PPE, this is another issue that needs much clarification. In five seasons and several regions, have never had an overhead team decree that clean PPE would not be changed out for like dirty PPE for contractors, with the exception of one fire we worked on this summer in Idaho that had a California overhead team. Even our regional contracting officer said the CA team was misinterpreting the "expendable" provision of our Region Four contract. We have always been able to exchange PPE, batteries, hose, Pulaski's, etc on an item for item basis--with the exception of the noted fire. Obviously, not being able to do this would be extremely difficult when on prolonged, remote assignments and could lead to serious safety issues and undue hardships.

We could bat this back and forth point for point, but the bottom line is uniformity. Unfortunately, it appears many problems can be traced back to the present a patchwork of state, local and regional contracts. We have worked in up to four different regions in one summer.

I understand there are efforts underway to create a national engine and tender contract that would be administered regionally. I certainly applaud such an efforts and would certainly like to contribute to its creation. Just give us a level playing field and make sure the whole team understands the rules...

Snake River Sparky

11/03 Ab, just an update to my post of yesterday, the "Lessons Learned" posting board at NARTC is supposed to be up on November 6th.
11/02 Hey Everyone,

Here's an article in yesterday's Redding Searchlight on Dick Blood's murder.
www.redding.com/news/2000/past/20001101toplo001.htm

I agree with the family that pressure needs to be brought to bear on the agencies involved to solve his murder. It's been a year. We all need to be moving toward whatever closure is possible. Hey you AZ firefighters, ask around. Write in under another alias if you're too well known under your own or e-mail me at five_waters@hotmail.com. (I will not reveal sources, nor will Ab.)

Mellie

A link to the Searchlight article is provided in Siskyou's post below. Ab.

11/02 Ab,

Wednesdays Redding Searchlight has an article regarding a lawsuit filed by the widow of murdered fire crew bus driver Richard Blood. Blood was stabbed to death in his sleep at the stagging area for the Big Bar Complex.

I suspect the widow is using this as a tool to get the murder of her husband resolved. As time goes on the murderer is less likely to be found.

The BIA needs to step up in this case and be helpful. I suspect that the killer(s) were hired again to fight fire in 2000. Read the article in the Searchlight and in the 11/2/00 SacBee at SacBee.com.

When I fall asleep in fire camp I expect to wake up for the next shift. In turn if something happens to me on a fire I would pray that my family would not have to fight to get the answers that the government should be providing.
www.redding.com/news/2000/past/20001101toplo001.htm

Siskiyou

11/02 Snake River Sparky

I agree with you as I have seen some of the same.

Fireguy

11/02 Thanks for the info Lurker 'cum Poster and Welcome,

I'm not surprised at your news of NARTC wanting to jump on the internet bandwagon, but am a little dissapointed by their apparent diss'ing of wildlandfire.com site by describing it as a "venting" area.

I must remain detached and a little amused as NARTC (and various other agency microcosims) belatedly raise their myopic eyes from the bottom of the pool and stuggle to blink the muck from their eyes. What brighter light than wildlandfire.com exists above them at the top of the information chain? I won't blame them for their discrimination and certainly won't hold it against them. We here at wlf.com hold dear and promote, via our Links Page, the idealism of the more information there is for wildland firefighters, the better off they can be.

I think NARTC wanting to provide a service comparable to wildlandfire.com is commendable. I can't blame them for wanting to establish a presence and who other than wildlandfire.com are you gonn'a copy when you're a few years behind? And, I can't blame them for mentioning their new service to a captive audience such as you were a part of.

If they or any others want to see "venting", I'll gladly forward the plethora of messages we receive that don't make it to the TS board.

Now, just where in the heck is the information on the JAC academy? We have a need to provide information here! Anyone responsible or "in charge" of the academy out there?

Abercrombie

11/02 AB, just got back from a meeting at the RO, heard from people in the RO and beyond. Mostly all are in a frenzy as how to deal with the increase in funding. Actually three "pots" of money are supposedly coming down the pipe line.
  • 1) The Presidents initiative
  • 2) Fuels reduction in the Urban interface
  • 3) Increased funding for fire districts grant programs-districts with less than 10,000 people.
From what I heard, there will be ample opportunity for advancement, 13-13, 22-4 and full time positions, many will be new positions. Additionally, there was some mention of money for new facilities, but I am unsure if it was a separate pot or included in the Presidents initiative. Several new IH crews are being planned, crucial to where they are placed is the housing issue, if your district has a housing for a crew, start lobbying.

One other item that caught my attention, a person from NARTC made a presentation (name not to be mentioned) talked about the NARTC web site as a place to "post" "lessons learned." This posting board is seen as a place where serious firefighters will have a forum to discuss issues of concern (my paraphrasing) "unlike They Said, which is a place for venting" (direct quote). Well, that kinda pissed me off.

There is venting being posted on this board, but also a lot of good information (and some BS). If this site did not exist, it would be business as usual in a lot of places. Just the fact that this site was mentioned from someone at the national level, means that the "venting" and other concerns are being read and it has had an effect! Do you think that an "Official" site would give the same unlimited access to as many people as this site does? NOT! I went to www.NARTC.net and did not find any place where "lessons learned" could be posted. Maybe it is being planned for a future addition?

Keep up the good work!

One of many Lurkers.

11/02 I've skimmed the various post concerning government emploee performance, terminations, hiring, etc. As a 16 year Civilan DoD (Deffense/Navy) employee (GS-856), I think I can comment.

Enjoy venting the steam, but it won't improve.

First of all Government, especially DoD, is completely opposite from private industry in its thinking . In private industry a person is rewarded for dong more with less. ( Surpressed a 100 acre fire with 25 people and $500, great job) In the government, people are promoted on the basis of how large of a budget did you manage on your last project or how many people did you command. To qualify for a GS-7 you must manage something along the lines of 2 GS-6's and 5 GS-4/5's it doesn't manner how little you did with those 7 people. I seriously suspect that if you read the KSA's for Fire Managers, good performance is not a qualifcation but the amount of experience is. (2 years as junior/assistant manager etc). Granted the examples may be off, but you see the point.

    There are 3 saying we pass aorund in DoD:
  • 1) We are 200+ years of tradition unhampered by progress!
  • 2) We the willing
    Lead by the unknowing
    Are doing the impossible,
    For the ungratful.
    We have for so long, done so much, with so little
    That we are now qualified,
    To do Anthing,
    With Nothing
  • 3) And for the Career folks:
    This is someone's idea of a very sick joke
    But it all counts towards 30 years.
DT
11/01 Some observations about employment from a management type (FS)who started as a ground pounder in 1975 and still goes to the line.

Symptoms of being a pain in the ass include:
Being late for work. Leaving early. Complaining repeatedly about that which no one can change. Whining about trivial stuff. Refusing to change for the better what ever you can. Driving too fast and/or carelessly. Having to be told to use your PPE. Spreading nasty gossip. Waiting to be told what to do. Hiding from work. Refusing to do anything that is "not your job". Avoiding work that is your job because you don't like that particular task (this includes "forgetting" to do the task). Doing work you don't like poorly in the hopes that your boss will give up assigning it to you. Being rude to the public. Working poorly with people you don't like. Shouting at or verbally abusing other employees. Stealing. Starting fights. Engaging in careless work habits that invite accidents. Calling in sick when you are not. Not calling when you are going to be absent or late. Drinking/drugs on the job. Trying to get de-mobbed early when you are tired of that incident. Turning down assignments until the one you want comes up. Starting arguments to entertain yourself or to impose your way on others when it really does not matter. Exaggerating your experience and/or training. Cheating with another employees spouse.

All you job hunters - Will your former employers describe you with any of the above? Or will they say you report to work fit, on time, put in a honest days work, take care of equipment/vehicles, get along well with others, and learn new stuff at every opportunity?

Just sign me - Ms. Dog

11/01 Some new Command Fire photos on Fire4 Page and Airtankers2 Page from Zimm. Two CDF Kneeland helicopter photos on Heli3 Page from Mellie.

New job button at the top of each page takes you to the Jobs Page and a new listing for a Rx Fire Specialist; GS-7/9; Wind Cave NP. Also a new home button.

Thanks Honorable Mouse for the clarification.
Ab.

11/01 Ab
    Don't want to keep you in suspense concerning my proper title, it is "Honorable". --- Of course I'm honest also, as for honey, nahhhhh, doesn't fit the critter.
    Have Happys,
Honorable Mouse
11/01 Some good articles on fire rehab in Colorado, fuel loading reduction via thinning, weeds as fire's aftermath and, lest you think fire is completely over, fire in South Carolina at USFS FIRE NEWS.

and a nice fire season 2000 overview with elkbath revisited at NIFC NATIONAL FIRE NEWS

Firescribe

11/01 Snake River Sparky,

I appreciate your frustration and feeling under-appreciated, but take a look at this from the Overhead's perspective. On our tour this summer, more than 50% of the contract engines failed inspection; in addition, there were many minor problems with extinguishers, no photo IDs; some crews needed PPE, boots and shelters. As you implied, the purpose of the inspections is to maintain safety. We had one case in which a break line failed on a contract rig, it ran into a tree, and the crew tried to replace the line with a gas line. That kind of trading out the parts may set the stage for the next accident. I'm not saying your organization would do that, but it has been done and that's why minimal standards exist. Just think, if there were a vehicle fire and no working extinguisher and someone died, the IMT would be liable for not adhering to minimal standards. More importantly, we would have to live with the knowledge that the death could have been prevented. The fact that these standards have not been enforced 100% in the past, does not mean they shouldn't be enforced now, especially since the movement in fire has been toward greater use of our red hatted brothers. We do appreciate you. Couldn't do it without you. We also want you and all of us to stay safe. And the minimal standards need to be enforced across the board, not just with the known offenders among the contract crews.

With respect to the PPE and batteries: Contracts say that contractors should pay for consumable supplies such as PPE, PPE laundering and radio batteries. This also may not have been done in the past. I think we're all trying to find our way with this directive. What rules make sense in terms of all of us fighting the fire efficiently (as well as safely)?... If one or more teams does not enforce this specific rule, and then we do, we end up looking like the bad guys who are picking on someone. We're not. We're simply trying to follow our own rules. When the rules are followed, it becomes evident which ones are unfair or counter-productive. Then, if the rules need changing, let's try to do that. It may not make sense for contract crews to have laundry arrangements different than everyone else or get their own batteries out to the fire. It may not be safe if scanners don't work due to lack of batteries. Again, these rules probably were created because some contractor took advantage. How can we make things equitable but protect from those who would hoard batteries or trade out newer PPE for their old ripped stuff?

I don't think anyone this summer expected to get shiny green engines. We all knew how tight resources were. We all were stressed. We do appreciate the help you guys gave us. You're part of the fire team. I don't know what overhead you're talking about, but where that person was coming from may be entirely different than your perception of where he was coming from. Just asking you to walk a mile in our shoes and see if there's an alternative explanation...

That's my nickel's worth.
Horn

11/01 In reply to "anonymous", It may sometimes seem to the general public that wildland fire suppression is a self perpetuating body concerned only furthering it's own existence. Many of the fires in Idaho this last summer would validate that assessment.
    Massive resources were committed to fires burning in inaccessible terrain.
    Most here would agree that the wild lands throughout the west are in dire need of removal of excess fuels.
     This situation is the result of a hundred years of policy that dictated that ALL wild fires would be suppressed. This policy resulted in unburned fuels being accumulated to greater that natural depths. ( Also known as fuel loading. ) High fuel loading results in more intense fires. Whereas in a healthy forest, natural fires would be low intensity in order to clean out small amounts of dead trees, High fuel loading causes fires to destroy massive amounts of natural resources like timber and watershed. Among other things, this can caused mudslides and ruin salmon habitats.
    This situation is being addressed in Washington. More money is being put into Fuels management programs. However, since it took a century to create this situation, it will take some time to correct it. More and more fires are being allowed to burn on their own as part of this policy.
    Another thing that gets in the way are houses in the path of fires. When peoples houses burn up in wild fires, they like to sue the government. This puts fire managers in difficult positions.
    Fire fighters, like soldiers, do not formulate policy, They do what they're told to do.
    I hope that answered some of your questions. But there are lots of people who know more about this than I do.

To MOC, I agree with most of your comments about people turning sour after years of getting Jerked around. As temporaries trying to get picked up, we've all been jerked off with the vague promise of "Come back next year and we might be able to get you on permanent"
    The sad reality of it is that sometimes our mouth is our own worst enemy.
    Some people have found success at this by leaving the region and/or agency. It's always been a fact of life that in fire that a good job requires you to move to where the job's at, not the other way around.
    It amazes me that the Forest Service is still playing that game. The economy being what it is and the feds pay scale being pretty low, I would think that quality temporaries would be hard to come by.

and that's all I got to say.
~Limpy~

11/01 Anonymous,

Your questions regarding the management of human caused fires for resource benefits is an old and complex issue with many parts and pieces:

  • Agency Policy and Objectives
  • Process vs. risk
  • The Wilderness Act
  • The definition of "natural" fire
  • Management ignited vs. naturally occurring
To list a few.

As a Fire Manager and wilderness advocate, I have possess a fairly strong opinion on the subject. I could write a dissertation, but this is not the forum for such. I suggest you try to find the following pub’s :

  • INT-GTR-320 Proceedings: Symposium on Fire in Wilderness and Park Management, Intermountain Research Station, September 1995.
  • Wilderness Management, Hendee, Stankey, and Lucas, International Wilderness Leadership Foundation, North American Press, Golden Colorado, 1990.
You should find of these publications enlightening as they provide some excellent discussions on differing points of view on the subject.

I will say this though. I am aware of human and naturally caused fires that were managed under confinement/containment strategies for safety and economic reasons by fire managers who were, as Leopold states, "…using the utmost skill, judgment, and ecological sensitivity…".

Think about it!
DM

11/01 Anonymous-

From my limited knowledge, I'll make an argument to defend the suppression of some types of human caused fires.

Humans are infact part of nature, yes, however we are also dependent upon that nature for various things. One such thing is the land and the ecosystem of plants and animals and also the hydrological systems therein. Pure and simple, without plants you have no water. Look at the Sahara desert for example. Very few plants there, and thus, very little water. Water sustains all life as we view it.

You note that some human caused fires are set to meet resource objectives, and thus, the majority of fires set to meet a resource objective (Fuels Load Management as in Prescribed Fire) are allowed to burn, provided strict conditions are met. It is when the various variables are aligned so closely to allow the greatest control of a fire that Prescribed burns should ocur, however even the slightest change in wind direction and/or speed can (and in some cases, will) result in a small 5 acre controlled burn expanding into a devastating 1000 acre blaze.

It is when such fires as prescribed fires (Or training fires for those of the hook and Ladder)become uncontrolled, and or when humans either intentionally (arson, which occurs both in structure and in wildland forms) or unintentionally (cigarette butts, campfire embers not cold out, car wrecks, electrical power lines etc) cause a destructive fire, that the stance from the keepers of the Maltese cross, no matter whether structure firefighter or wildland firefighter, is firmly bound on containment and suppression of said fire to the ends of preserving life and property.

I hope this clarifies things for you,

'Ranger' Tiny, the R-6 Fire Pup

11/01 I will respond once more and then bow out of the debate. I meant my post on the PA's to encourage folks to think about how they do or have conducted themselves on the job. If someone brings a legitimate concern forward in a constructive manner, that does not make them a PA. I think we all know what at PA is and most of them know themselves. I also think that folks that are working for a supervisor that is a PA in many cases move on, I know we have had several come to us for that reason. I certainly sympathize with someone that would stick with a poor supervisor for whatever reason, but in the long run that supervisor is going to do them no good and they should look at moving on if that is an option.

Trust me, I would be the last one to put down a long term seasonal employee who has continued to hang in there and finally got discouraged and gave it up. Those that know me, know I am an extremely strong advocate for those folks. If most of us had not been lucky we would likely have done the same thing. We all know there has been far more of those good quality folks over the years that finally gave it up and left than we will ever be able to hire. To tell you the truth I don't think any of these folks that finally gave up hope and moved on were ever PA's. They were the good ones right up to the time they decided they had to do something else. MOC, I really think we are on the same page on this issue, I maybe could have expressed myself in a better way.

I hope as an organization all of us deal with the poor or marginal performers. Our history is that we do not. I refused to certify on a HEB1 trainee this year and am still being lobbied by the sending region to rethink it. I can only tell you I do my best, I have and had no control over your example of the person in R-5 that you referred to. Someone else dropped that ball. Have I ever dropped the ball? Lets just say I am a little nervous about one that is in the system. I did learn from that experience.

With that said I am going hunting for a couple of weeks.

DEEFAMO

Good hunting, ya'hear. Ab.

11/01 Ab, here is a link that those with an interest in prescribed and/or wildland fire behavior can get the new version of BEHAVE.

This is a BETA release, but is a significant improvement over the old command line version. Very cool program and the excellent graphics give it a nice touch.

DM

11/01 Ab,
Regarding MOC4546's response to DEEFAMO's remarks on personnel. Gee, I think I know the person he is referring to that lost the fire, and the specific fire as well. Sounds like Markleeville of 1987. I was a member of the Toiyabe Regulars out of Carson City on that gig. Lots of homes lost.

Regarding the [Ab edits: one of the CAIIMTs], we had an interesting go around with one of its members on the [ID fire] this summer. It was apparent he had an open disdain for engine contractors and did little to hide it. But, given the extraordinary drain on agency resources, myself and the few other engine contractors were ALL he had and probably all he would get. We were mostly Great Basin contractors managed by Byron Brown out of Denver--well trained and equipped crews and good equipment. (The gypsy crews, flat beds with water barrels and trash pumps strapped on had long since been sent home.)

We had all been on the fire, rotating our crews, for nearly six weeks. Shortly after [CAIIMT] transitioned in, they ran an inspection on our equipment, which is to be expected (and needed, after the brutal punishment our trucks were getting in the rugged terrain, and also given the fact that despite the long daily drives on steep, rugged two track from base to distant DP's and back, we were not put on spike, which would have cut down on the miles and punishment). We were told that from that point on, we WOULD NOT be traded dirty PPE for clean, radio batteries, broken shovels or pulaskis, burned over hose, etc. Basically, he said we were on our own on all accounts from now on.

When I brought to his attention our Great Basin/Rockies contact--which is a binding agreement between my company and the US Government--and its provisions, he said, "That's not the way we do it. I have no intention of honoring your contract." Now I know that engine and tender contractors are in somewhat of a neither world with federal fire agencies, and we're often viewed as the red-headed step children of federal fire suppression. Still, I would like to think we provide a valuable safety valve for fire managers. I don't expect a warm, wet kiss when I show up to a dispatch, but at least to be dealt with fairly and professionally.

I suspect that "Kirby," as I'll call him, thought that if he drove the contract engines off the fire, that, given the [fire's] political priority (Clinton visited), he would be able to back fill his engine needs with fresh, bright and shiny Greens. My suspicion became even more plausible when he flagged our engine for lack of fire extinguisher inspection tag, and another crew for a rock cut on a member's boot. One engine was flagged for minor repairs, but was not given access to camp mechanics and had to bring in help from Boise, nearly 150 miles away.

After discussing the situation with both my contract officer and a U.S. Senator, I went through channels and filed a complaint against "Kirby" with Region Four in Ogden. I have been fighting federal and state wildland fire since 1980 and have seen plenty of "Kirby's." None of us needs this type of Overhead.

Finally, I hope that in all the money that's going rain down on the agencies from the Great Eagle, there will still be a small corner of the woodpatch for us red-headed safety valves. And that arrogant [snip] like "Kirby" don't sprout around the West like fireweed.

Snake River Sparky

11/01 To Anonymous Re: Suppression Vs Let Burn.

A few words about myself to temper your evaluation of my opinion. I'm an emergency contract faller with the USFS, have commercially logged for thirty years or so and have a fair amount of fire line experience. I also do "Studies & Research" concerning ecological matters in rural and remote areas. My point to this verbiage is, I've experienced first hand many (surely not all) of the considerations of both "Suppression" and "Let Burn" wave lengths.

First of all, not ALL "Human Caused" fires are aggressively fought. What I think you are referring to are "unplanned" or "uncontrolled" fires. Prescribed burns, as the theory goes, are our attempt as humans to manage our involvement as "A Part of Nature".

If your not already familiar with all the book and leg work that goes into a "prescribed" burn, a little homework on your part will answer much of your question. To name just a few of the items that go into the think-tank. Wildlife and wildlife habitat - short term, long term. Watershed considerations. Weather, short and long term predictions. Resources available to contain (control) the fire. The "good" results Vs the "bad" results of the fire (these are often hotly debated issues in themselves). Effects the fire will have on air quality. The current and anticipated fire danger conditions. They threat to human life and property.

This is just a short list of things that need to be understood and APPLIED to a "control, i.e. prescribed burn".

If your referring to "unplanned" fires in your opening statement, whether human or natural caused, you are referring to an "emergency situation", or to put it another way, an uncontrolled fire. The first order of the day is to get the fire under control.

"Prescribed Burns" (fire that is under control) takes a great deal of time, effort and resources to plan and apply. Emergency situations don't offer this kind of optional latitude.

And then there is the matter of civil liability (also criminal such as negligent homicide) considerations if a fire is not AGGRESSIVELY controlled and result in property damage or takes human life.

Hope this offers you some food-for-thought.
The Hon. Mouse

Hon. Mouse, welcome. Ab wonders, is that Honorable, Honest, Honey or really just Hon.?

 

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