"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
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.
||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
||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
||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
suspicion was confirmed:
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)
||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?
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.php.
The bottom line is, however. . .it probably can't be overcome. Ab.
||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.
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
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
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
||Here's another contribution for the Logo pages.
Its my CDF
station logo that we wear very much against policy.
Thanks Tim. Ab sez send in those photos and logos 'specially if you
wear them your way (but safely).
||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
||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.
||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.
||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.
||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?
||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.
Readers, anyone able to help with this? I know others also need this
powerpoint presentation. Ab.
||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 -- 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.
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!!!
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
Any feed back?
ex Hot Shot R-4 and many other agency's
||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
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
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
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!
||To All ya goood buddies out there. That's just about as generic as I can
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
||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
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
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!
||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.
UMMMMM. Gravy. Ab.
||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.
||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
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.
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.
Excellent. Will try it tomorrow. FireTurkey. Ab.
||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
Keep up the good work.
||-- 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
||Firegirl's page disappeared. Where? Anybody ever do turkey on the
grill? HAPPY THANKSGIVING. Ab.
||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.
||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"
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'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
It's been a long year, period.
||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
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.
||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.
||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.
||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
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.
- 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.
- Training. IHC crewmembers receive a relatively high level of
training for their grade and position in the fire organization.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
||Hopefully the last one...
I know I am slow, but wanted to get the information correct.
Smith, Phillip Dewey
Cause of Death: Stress/Exertion
Nature of Death: Heart Attack
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
||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.
||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.
||More federal fire jobs info at www.fs.fed.us/fire/news.shtml
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.phpl.
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
For the Storm King Mountain official reports try these sites www.fs.fed.us/land/scanyon.phpl
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)
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.
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.phpl
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.
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
||Ab, Would pass along this link to Megan.It is the final report on South
||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.
||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
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.
||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:)
||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.
Suggestions, Readers? Ab.
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.
||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?
I assume the location of these breaks will be in R8. Ab.
||Ab, here's a letter from Dombeck to all employees:
And an important bit of info to add to the site for all those seeking
employment in fire:
Will link to it today from the jobs page. Ab.
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!)
||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.
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!
||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!
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
||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.
||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.
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.
||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
1-district forester (df)
1-forest tech (df)
1-smoke jumper (sj)
1-air tactical group sup. (atgs)
2-crew chiefs (cc)
1-passenger (helicopter) (ff)
- Nature of Death
1-mva @ prescribed burn
1-plowing fire break
3-overrun by fire
3-fixed wing accidents
- Emergency Duty
- Type of Activity
11-cutting fire breaks
2-advancing hose/fire attack
1-other (parachute accident)
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.
||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".
||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?
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.
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.
||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
||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
Hence- the large gaping hole in the profession between the pups and the
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.
||I am looking for someone who has information on the S-290
||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
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/
||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
||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.
||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
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.
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
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!
||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
||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
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.
||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 !!
||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,
p.s. If you are interested in an agency fire GIS job and have solid
arcinfo arcview background- e-mail me at email@example.com - I'm
curious what the interest level is out there.
||RE ; First Recorded Fire Shelter Deployment
October 29, 1804
......Green buffalow Skin was thrown over him
by his mother......
I wondered if anyone else had read the Journals of Lewis and Clark.
||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.
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
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
||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.
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.phpl
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
||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!
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.
||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
||First Recorded Fire Shelter Deployment
October 29, 1804
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
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
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
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
Sorry use up so much space. This is a good late night bull session
Thanks for your thoughtful comments JW. It was my request to
Anonymous that the information be divided in half because was so long. Ab.
||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
Pulaski, do you know how many lives were lost in the Hinkley Fire
(and others) around that time? Ab.
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...
||I'm sure you've been there before..
wonder how many others have...?
Enjoy the little bits of trivia y'all are come'n up with..
||-- 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?
||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...
||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,
||Here is the FINAL Kates Basin fatality report: fire.nifc.nps.gov/bia/SAFETY/final_report.php#EXECUTIVE
||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.
||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.
||IMWTK: More trivia
How about the first fire shelter deployment? Think beyond the
"traditional" fire shelter.
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
||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
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
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.
Old Fire Guy
||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.
||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.
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
Don't know any women fire retirees, but it's been just about long
||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!
||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?
||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.
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
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.
||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 .
And the first ones were aluminum, right? Today they have to be
plastic because of concerns for lightening strike. Ab.
||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:
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
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,
||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......
Ab agrees and added the bold for emphasis.
||-- 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."
||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.
||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.
||Inquiring Minds Want to Know (IMWTK)
What was the first peice of PPE issued to a wildland firefighter, and
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?
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.
||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
- 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
- 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
- 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.)
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
||Don't forget the 2000 Annual Lookout Meeting, Sat Nov 11 at the Anderson
(CA) Round Table Pizza 5-9PM. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more
||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.
||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.
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
||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.
Good advice, BW. Ab.
||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?
The Fire Twins :) ;) (well, kinda! NOT)
||Regarding Blackie's poem on wildfire, you can also just click this link:
Yep, that takes you right to the poem. Faster than mine, bump up.
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.
||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.
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/
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.
I put it on the Logo2
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
||Ab, just an update to my post of yesterday, the "Lessons
Learned" posting board at NARTC is supposed to be up on November 6th.
Here's an article in yesterday's Redding Searchlight on Dick Blood's
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 email@example.com. (I will not reveal
sources, nor will Ab.)
A link to the Searchlight article is provided in Siskyou's post
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
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
||Snake River Sparky
I agree with you as I have seen some of the same.
||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
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
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?
||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.
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.
- 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.
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
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.
||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,
- 3) And for the Career folks:
This is someone's idea of a very sick joke
But it all counts towards 30 years.
||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
||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
Thanks Honorable Mouse for the clarification.
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.
||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
and a nice fire season 2000 overview with elkbath revisited at NIFC
NATIONAL FIRE NEWS
||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.
||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
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
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
and that's all I got to say.
Your questions regarding the management of human caused fires for
resource benefits is an old and complex issue with many parts and pieces:
To list a few.
- Agency Policy and Objectives
- Process vs. risk
- The Wilderness Act
- The definition of "natural" fire
- Management ignited vs. naturally occurring
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 :
You should find of these publications enlightening as they provide some
excellent discussions on differing points of view on the subject.
- 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
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
Think about it!
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
||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
With that said I am going hunting for a couple of weeks.
Good hunting, ya'hear. Ab.
||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.
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
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
||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
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.?