MARCH 2001

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03/31 Hey Ab:

I just got a call from a USFS rep. regarding availability for a "fuels" job that I applied for during the second round and they mentioned that they are going through the cert. list as we speak. This led to couple of questions that you (or Mel) and the crew might be able to help me on:

1) should I expect an interview call sometime in the near future and is there an interview with this whole process?
2) any pointers in preparing for a "fuels planner / specialist" position interview, if there is one?

Any assistance you can give is greatly appreciate. Thanks for all the hard work and dedication!!


Readers, I know some of you are involved in the hiring process. Can you answer Anvil's question? Mellie do you know? Ab.

03/31 Jobs page, Series 462 and 455 are updated. Ab.
03/31 MERT you're a little late this season. R6 inspections are between the 12-and 20th of april.

If you want to pursue it. Contact Carol Ford, she is the R6 Contract administrator for WA and OR. Her # is 503 808 2378. She is in the Portland USFS office. Ask her for a copy of the Engine Tender RFQ (Request for Quotation) Or Byron Brown for Region 4/2

That will get you the list of contract specs., engine inventory lists, performance standards, training standards, engine inspection sheets, and lists of contacts around the region to get inspected.

The pre season inspections can be grueling. If you have straight gear, and it is in order then there is no problem, things go smooth. (R6 has the toughest inspections I have been too - and I contract in R6 - R4 - R2 - and R3)

They all requre the same amount of insurance - 1 million liability w/ 2 million aggregate. You need 2 policies. One to cover the driving end of the business, and one to protect you professionally. ( you drop a pulaski on someones dome, or cut someone up with a saw, that kind of insurance.) Insurance is Mandatory with 3 seperate agencies named additionally insured. Without proof of coverage by June 1 in R6, they will not issue a preseason agreement - no if's or but's. Typical costs are between 1 and 3k per season per truck. Depending on how much extra insurance you get (comp -uninsured - med pay, etc) Experience also plays a factor in some underwriter's rates.

Inventory is pretty straight forward. email me and ill fax you the list of "Minimum Engine Inventory." For a type 4-5-6 engine it will cost about 10-12K without the pump and to equip it with new stuff. Slightly less if you can find decent used gear.

Forming your own dept is possible but costly. In WA ( my friend researched this), you have to find an unincorporated part of a county without county fire protection. Get enough locals on board and incorporate it. From there you would work with the County Fire Commisioner to figure out your suppression and aid coverage needs, and figure out where you are going to get the $ to do it. I hear its not impossible, I am sure I'm forgetting lots of steps in there.

After your inspected, have the insurance, the people, the inventory, signed up with no paperwork errors, you wait for it to burn. Then hope they need you.

You may wonder why some contractors like Aztec, Aces High, North Tree, Wildland Services, Ruby MTN, Pacific Wildfire (me), and a slew of others work lots. Its because we have been doing this long enough to have the contacts that know us, and havent burned bridges like some others. Some contractors chase fires - they will work, but not for long, and get black balled. I doubt there is a formal list as thats probably illegal. With teams put together from all over the country, it does not take long for word to get out about a crew - be it fed, state, or contract. thats the list

I am not trying to discourage you. But every year i see guys buy and build trucks in March then have to sell them in Oct. Do it right, from the beginning and it will be rewarding. Throw something together and you'll have problems from the get go.

I am by no means an expert at this. There are companies out there making way more than I ever will. I do make a good living, but had to learn the hard way. I jumped in it, and was lucky enough to get a great season my first year (94) as a contractor. 95 was slow, 96 was great, 97 dead, 98 good, 99 better, and 00 best yet. So do some research and check it out yourself. Find a contractor to help you out. Some will charge a percentage to show you what to do. But you get to gain from their experience and contacts. Good Luck

Sorry so long AB. Its just that after a good season everyone wants to get an engine, then fails because they didnt know what they are getting into. I've seen people get divorced, go bankrupt, lose years of retirement funds, or quit good jobs only to regret it.

Still hiring for Winnemucca. Call or email for more apps. only four spots left. 2 engb and 2FF

eric PW
360 731 2627

03/31 Danny,

I'm having trouble with the sit report also. What is Real Download and how do you do it? I wish they'd just do it the old way. That was so easy.


03/31 MERT,

Not to rain on your parade, but forget about this season! If you really want to form your own company and go after contracts, I'm assuming we are talking fire, hook-up with an existing company and ask them what it took for them to get started. Contact a government contracting officer. Walk before you run.

To address your stated problems, there is NO WAY to get around insurance! Every contract you bid on will require proof of insurance. Without it, one accident could lead to losing everything you have and will every have! About the only good thing about start-up cost is that they are tax deductable. Mortgaging your home may provide you with the capital to get started, but then if your company fails, you may lose your home. Will you be working year round or will betting on a good season to carry you through the off season? Business loans are available, but they will require collateral. Outfitting your truck and crewpersons will also add up. So will daily expenses such as fuel, pagers, phones etc. What about working capital?

You didn't mention them in your problem list, but have you every dealt with the Department of Labor? You think the IRS is bad!

Welcome to the real world! Getting into government contracts is alot more than just having a truck and bidding on work. But if it is your dream, go for it!


03/31 MERT

I dont know about the specific contract deals that you have to go through or even the grants. However, I do know that you can find old BLM, FS or state engines that are on the auction block. Usually you can find them fairly cheap and if you shop right you can find deals on any accessories that you may want. True, I do believe that the auctions usually happen either after the season or around the first of the year ( someone correct me if im wrong pls ) so it wouldnt help you this year, but for next year, it could save you some bucks... Good luck and stay safe


03/31 Anyone know why they changed CDFs nice website? There are new colors - blah grey and tan. At least the information still seems to be there, although I'm not used to the new format.

On another note, check out what firefighters take with them in Alaska: http://fire.ak.blm.gov/unique/docs/hiring/fireduty.asp Scroll down a little. Ab, your list on the faq page didn't include repellant. Is that a useful item in places other than Alaska (and Minnesota)?


03/30 Help!!!!!

I am with a group of 12 guys looking into getting a private contract. But here is where we run into problems.
1) They require workmans comp. Insurance and that costs a fortune.
2) We are unable to take advantage of grants and have to build a truck out of pocket. Costs a fortune also.
3) We were told we could become our own department but we do not know how to do this.

If any one has some info regarding these matters please help. We are really looking forward to this season but it seems like we may never make it. It seems like we are always running into roadblocks.

Thank you for any help you can provide.


03/30 County Rover

I was able to access the current Nat Sit Report thru Real Download then, Acrobat Reader. Give it a try


03/30 -- for County Rover:

Apparently NICC has decided to stick with PDF and isn't willing to budge on this. You can get the current sit report in html here: http://www.wildfirenews.com


03/30 Hello all,

I've been lurking for quite awhile. I'm looking for another way to get into the NIFC's sit report. For some reason, I can't get it to load. Any alternate sites, routes, or suggestions? Thanx.

County Rover (formerly mp)

03/29 Catching up on some of the photos and logos.

There is a logo of CIIMT 4 (Hutch tenured out as IC of that team and Aaron Gelobter stepped up); a new awesome picture of the fire in Florida 1998 "Green Burns" compliments of Marie; and a pic of LPF Engine Crew sent in by KC. (Who's that little FF in the background?)


03/29 Attn L.A. Cnty Camp personnel. While Looking thru the Logo & MocLogo sites I noticed that 5 (#'s 2 & 5 now closed -8-9 & 14) of the Cnty's 11 camps have posted their patches. As time permits this year, would it be possible to maybe post the remaing 6 (#'s 11-12-13-15-16-17 & 19) camps, even though they may be inmate camps?

Also noted that 16 of the 87 shot crews nationwide are posted. Hopefully more will get posted this year.

How about CDF? Maybe some of their 44 camps could post a patch.

And lastly how about all smoke Jumper crews/bases and Helo flight crews?

Patch Fanatic

Send 'em in, I'll post 'em. Best to send them as a jpg or a gif if possible. If you want to make a hardcopy photo and can get a good one with detail, maybe someone could scan it for the site. As camps close and patches change, the collection here becomes a historical record of sorts... (Montana firefighter and FLA RANGER, try sending your logos again.) Ab.

03/29 Ab, a note:

Jon Lee got the hotshot superintendant job for the Dixie NF. Not sure what they will be called.

03/28 Re: SC's Pack Test Worries

This sounds familiar... I had the same problem, or so it sounds. I'm a young firedog with high expectations for myself and it was devistating for me not to pass the PACK TEST... after two times of trying and failing, once not passing in the allotted time and the other by withdrawl after a mile, I was crushed. Anyway, I'm an exercise science and phsyiology major, and I started asking questions... went to a few high priced specialists and nothing helped. They suggested shorter but faster strides, brand new shoes, try it in boots (more support), and finally I gave up! That is until I went to an athletic trainer, he suggested a PODIATRIST, a foot doctor, as it turns out, my whole problem is in my arches. As the muscles that hold up the arch get fatiqued with overuse, mainly from the exaggerated stride to maintain the pace to pass the test, severe muscle strain of the muscles in the arch as well as in the Tibialis Anterior. The Tibialis Anterior is probably where you are recieving the most amount of pain, that leads you to believe that you have shin splints.

Give it a shot, see a Podiatrist, it may solve your problem. You may have to wear inserts which can cost a little bit o' $$$, but what's a little money compared to "livin' the dream!"


03/28 Since the topic of the hiring process has again reared it's head, let me throw in my two cents worth. Here are some stats: Our forest has hired about 28 new temporary people. This has taken two weeks and the efforts of 13 people (4 HR, one fire person overseeing it, and at least 2 fire people from each of the ranger districts)!

What a waste of time and money! In my opinion, the WO should have consulted those of us who have been through the temp hiring process in prior years before instituting this top-down decision. The WO *never* hires temps. They haven't a clue! They're creating a hiring process in a vacuum and it is way too complicated. This is in no way, shape, or form cost-effective in terms of time, effort or money! In addition, there have been some hard feelings created within some forests in the negotiating process as those on particular ranger districts, who worked so hard to find out who potential employees are and what they want, found those people traded away.

Now comes Round 2... The hiring deadlines are being pushed back a week or more as ASAP tries to deal with its backlog and other forests that aren't ready, scramble. I think we should stick with the current deadlines. When are we going to be able to get folks trained, let alone getting in our own refreshers and other work?

I know we're all doing the best we can. But why can't the WO consult those who are expert in the temp hiring process before taking an arbitrary action that complicates the process and affects so many?

Thanks Ab,
A Fire Fighter doing too much Chair-Sitting

03/28 More on HS & Sups:

The Salt Lake BLM hired Nate Lancaster as their hotshot superintendant from the Logan Hotshots- The Salt Lake crew will be called the Bonneville Hotshots.


03/28 Ab-

Thanks a bunch for the help. The number printed on the acknowledgement letters, 1-866-454-5402, seems to be incorrect or is having difficulties. Might want to pass this on.

I was able to contact ASAP, and an evaluator there told me I only qualify for a GS-4.

My last question on this subject: On the Demo announcement, a GS-5 can qualify based on education alone if you have greater than 120 credit hours that leads to a degree. Do you have to have the degree before you apply? In my situation, I have the credits, but I won't have my degree in hand until the beginning of May (before I start work for the season). Combining this with two seasons experience seems to fit the requirements (in my mind).

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a good season and I wish everyone the best and be safe.

Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

03/28 Brett-

I'm not 100% sure that there are any look out jobs still available, but below is the FS site that lists jobs and their locations (along with contact phone #'s):


Once you get on the page click on the "Locations/Positions" button located on the NAVAGATION MENU and then you just need to pick what region you want to work in. According to what I looked at today, there were still some look out positions left in R-6, R-5, and R-1. How accurate is this information...who knows? Your best bet is to look them up, get the contact person & number, and call them to see if the job is still available for Round 2 hiring. Better hurry, you only have until March 30th to get in on Round 2.

-S.Cal Helitack

03/28 Ab,

I'm new to theysaid and have been looking things over. I have a bit of input for Mellie and the FAQ page on FS hiring. There is another important factor that plays into how decisions are made as to which forest makes a job offer. That issue is the number of times the individual may be a "duplicate" across forests, based on the number of forest selections they turn in.

As an example, if an individual is duplicated on three forests, and a particular forest has three or four other duplicates, it isn't reasonable to think that a particular forest will get all their selections. What it boils down to is that there is inter-forest negotiation required and this process doesn't proceed as the applicant might think.

Here's our forest's process. During the temporary hire in round one, we were duplicated with the a neighboring forest on four selections. We ended up negotiating for three of the four selections but of those three, we were duplicated with two of those with a second forest. We ended up getting two of the original four and felt good about it. We can not expect to get every employee that has indicated multiple locations.

The employee has to also accept some responsibility though, in that they could ask to be considered for up to nine locations. A great number of applicants elected to do just that, fill in all nine. What the person actually suceeded in doing was reducing their options. If they were applying for a small forest that had few applicants as well as a large forest with many applicants, the chances that they would get the offer from the small forest was greatest.

What that means, is that employees need to go out, do their research, decide where they really want to be and sell themselves to only their top choices. If you don't let a particular location know of your interest to work there, you have a reduced likelihood of getting the job you may really want. If you open your opportunities to the world, you may end up some place you really don't want to be. I am sure this has happened. More is not necessarily better.


Welcome and thanks for the comments on a complicated process. Ab.

03/27 Ab, heres the new email address for apps.

Pacific Wildfire
will have 4 engb positions in Winnemucca NV and 6 FF also

EMT a plus.

we are not looing to train people for Winnemucca. We will consider training for our other locations so experienced only please.

call for pay scale, and other questions.

Pacific Wildfire
360 731 2627

thanks AB ;)

03/27 Hola AB,

I was wondering if anyone had any info on phone problems at ASAP in Boise?

On Monday, the 26th I spent almost every extra second I had on the phone trying to get through, but all I got was a busy signal that would switch to easy listening music if you held on long enough (trust me, I did that a number of times). Eventually I would just get disconnected. The number I called was 1-866-454-5402. I have it memorized.

Does anyone have an alternate number? A back door I could try?

Thanks, JT (still trying to get that GS-5)

I don't think you have the right number. The number to call ASAP is (877) 813-3476. Look at Mellie's FS job-faq page (link at top of theysaid). I just called and a message said "call between 8 and 4:30 Mountain Standard Time". You might also try sending an e-mail to fsjobs although time is short. I know those are reviewed every evening. Certs should be posted tomorrow. Good luck. Ab.

03/27 bend--

I hear that Ft C picked up a sup out of CA, Lassen or Plumas maybe

03/27 Ex Fed Engine Slug

Contractors can be located several ways. If you can get a copy of R6 Data base, You got them all. If you contact a Contractor Association that is local to your area of interest, they should help you. Try the WEB, some have sites, most don't, for example www.a1fireout.com

03/27 Ex Fed Engine Slug--

There is the private contractor that I work for hiring out of Washington State. Ferguson Management Company. We are based out of Albany Oregon. We have dispatch centers out of Northern Cali, Western and Eastern Oregon, and Eastern Washington ( Toppenish ). If you would like more info email me at mtfirefighter@earthlink.net ...

03/26 SC

About your pack test. I'd like to make a few comments - suggestions for what they are worth.

The term "Shin splints" are kind of a catch-all term that don't mean anything in particular. Might I suggest you contact a physical therapist (that is familiar with the physical working lot of folks - not all therapist are) and see if he/she can identify a little more precisely what you complications might be (if there are any).

You mentioned you were wearing "running shoes" to take the test. I'm a tree faller by trade and we pack around a 40 or 50 pound payload with saw and gear. I require stiff soles and a solid instep in my footgear for this work. (Please to keep in mind that each of our bodies are a unique combination, each with our own "physical personalities".) However, "running shoes" I'm familiar with aren't designed to carry a load such as is carried in the pack test. That could be a major part of your problem.

Don't be embarrassed by not passing the pack test. Be thankful you learned of a "limitation" (whatever it might be) before it became a danger to yourself and others counting on you on the fire line. You have one hell-of-a think tank and support group with "They Said". Stick with it Bud, you can work your way through this.

Have Happys,
The Honorable Mouse.

03/26 KC,

Here's a link for the AD Pay Plan.



03/26 Sad but true, Done In, and others, the lower one is in the food chain the more difficult it is to say "no." The young fire fighter in their first or second fire season may have received the basic fire training, but has not had real fireline experience. The individual does not recognize serious conditions, or concerns are muted because of faith (fear of) in their leadership. They have been drilled in the 10/18 but they are really dependent on their leadership.

Ask why most entrapments involve groups of fire fighters. Because they are trained to work as a team. The team accomplishes assignments, be it a engine crew, a type 2 crew or a type I crew. The new fireman is taught to function as a cog in a fire fighting machine. Good leadership will also teach the fireman when to act independently. But set back and watch crews in action. Are they a team or are they a herd of sheep with matching T-shirts?

Does extinguishing twenty "A" lightning fires and couple of "B" fires after a wet thunderstorm prepare the novice fire fighter for blow-up conditions?

I could get wordy on the issues, but for every entrapment there is a specific set of circumstances but so many of them involve the same violations of 10/18 that the pattern cannot be ignored.

Done In says the report is not the true story. I suggest he write his story. There maybe something we can learn. If he wants to protect his identity it could be written in the third person.


03/26 does anyone know of any pvt contracters that are hireing in washington state. i live here and like some info. i like to work for one ..

ex fed engine slug

03/26 "sad but true"

"Extremely lower level" hmmm lets be realistic. The lowest level, the crewperson, makes very if any decisions that could kill or harm anyone besides themselves, except something like timber falling. But the "BIG BUT" once you make it to the crewboss level you become what we like to call in our training class a "certified killer". We stress to our folks in training if you do not have the guts or fortitude to tell a superior "NO" when you know the assignment is to dangerous or beyond your crew/engines skill, you dont belong being incharge. The folks below you, especially the cherries that don't know better, are counting on you to make the correct and safe decision.

As you said, "Yes I know it is wrong. I have gone through it, and am sure many others have." I hope I never have to work with or for you. Your teaching the people below you the wrong things. Taking a bad assignment, that you know is wrong, because your worried about possible future placement, tsk tsk tsk shame on you. Your a "certified killer" with the safety off and the hammer cocked. Put your weapon back on safe and learn to say no the correct way.

We teach not to just say no and give the reasons "why", but to give them a safe alternative. There is always another way.

Abe, sorry for being so long winded. I'm sure you will get many responses to "sad but true", maybe one one of them will be more articulate then I am, but this one got me a little pissed off thinking this person is making life altering decisions for those beneath them, with that kind of attitude.

Take care and be safe,

03/26 I have heard through the grape vine that A.D. rates have gone up for the 2001 fire season. I have been searching for info online with no success. Could you please help by offering a suggested web page or even an email with the new rates would be great.

Thank you for your time.

03/26 Hello,

Just wondering if anybody had info on new supts. that had been hired for these new shot crews. Any info. on Craig (BLM), Elko (BLM), Salt Lake (BLM), Ft. Collins (FS), Idaho City (FS), or any others anybody has info on would be appreicated.


03/26 In some cases it is very hard to say no to an assignment. It is one of the major problems I see today and have gone through myself. It is not very difficult to get on the radio to the Ops chief if you are a division to re-asses the situation when things look bad.

At an extremely lower level of the incident command system there are some other circumstances. A firefighter that wants a future working at his/her favorite office in the world, has some difficult decisions. He/she needs a good recommendation. Yes I know it is wrong. I have gone through it, and am sure many others have. Sure, everyone can say no, but I am sorry to say at the bottom of IC chart that rarely happens.

"sad but true"

03/25 stu,

thanks for the advice and encouragement. The test was given on asphalt with a vest. Also I was wearing running shoes. thanks again for the help.


03/25 AB or anyone else that can give me some insight:

I applied to Boise back in Dec., got my first confirmation letters in Jan. and noticed I was rated as a GS-4 for everything. I notified Boise by phone, the guy I talked to said I would qualify as a GS-5 (two seasons fire experience as a GS-3, 114 credit hours (semester) towards a Forests Management Degree, 12 more credits to be finished with a degree 6 weeks from now). That was over a month ago. Since, I have received 5 different confirmation letters (changes of Forests on 2 of them) but have yet to be upgraded to a GS-5. With the second round of perm and demo hiring coming up, I really want to upgrade my rating to get a better shot at a permanent position. I have called Boise 3 times on this subject and all I get is the "we have a lot of paperwork to do, we'll get to you" runaround. Is there anyone down there that will pay attention to me? Does anyone know somebody who works at FSJOBS that I could talk to directly?


JT, sounds like you should be off to see the Wizard! Maybe one of our Boise ASAP lurkers can shed some light on this. Ab.

03/25 Good Morning Ab & All,

With a nice fresh cup of coffee in hand this sleepy Sunday morning, I was checking out the WLF news page. Since my national team is on 2 hour call, I've begun using the news page for possible indicators of assignments. Down the list a ways I see Central Taiwan has 45 hectares going, although since it was dated the 20th, it could be out by now. A trivial question came to mind as I scanned the article. What would the sack lunches consist of in Central Taiwan?

Thanks for your continuing efforts on the site and the news page. It's a welcome addition for quick and current world/national info.

BTW, since I wasn't sure how big a hectare was, I found this converter site and discovered 45 hectares is around 111 acres,

Now I've another question or two, does the site get any hits from Taiwan? How about from other countries? Ok, one more question. I notice there are often duplicate headlines on the news page. Is there any way to filter these out?

Have a good week all!
Just Curious

Hi Curious. Thanks for the conversion link. Useful stuff, even has "chain" conversions. I'll put it on the links page.

The answer to your last question about duplicate news articles is "no". Many newpapers get their headlines from the AP wires. While the newspapers may retain the AP headlines, most will modify the content to fit their own local or political needs and viewpoints. So, even though the headlines are identical, the stories usually contain slightly different information.

Regarding visitors. We have been tracking the numbers of visitors to the site for the last 7 mo. to see what pages receive the most interest. (Of course, we don't know who, just that people stopped by.) There have been 21 different visitors from Taiwan and other visitors from around 78 different countries.

Here's more about the overall viewing activity on your wildlandfire site: (These are all different visitors unless stated otherwise.)

  • Highest Day:  26 Feb.  2001  Page Views:  3,324
  • Highest Week:  First of Feb. 2001  Page Views:  17,966
  • Highest Month:  Feb. 2001  Page Views:  67,789
  • All Unique Visitors since 08/00:  387,712
  • All Visitors including and "reloads" or "refreshes":  509,959


03/25 S-205 Instructor,
The revision of this course has not been completed yet. When its finished it will have a new number, S-215. Look for it next year some time.

Done In,
I've tried hard to leave this alone but the mention of the Sadler report forces me to respond. I'll say this one more time: The Sadler report is flawed and is not the true story of what happened that day. If you were on that crew, you should be able to determine the discrepancies. I'm sorry you've had so many bad firefighting experiences. Maybe you should change where you work, because there are a lot of folks out there having good experiences. Yes, even in Nevada. I've had some there myself.


03/25 SC,

Don't give up! What type of surface was the test given on? I've found that a rubber track is much kinder to the body. Also, if the pack test vest are not used, a good backpack, I use an external frame type, with the weight secured high and close to the body, allows me to walk in a more upright position. A good pair of hiking boots and hydration are also important. This has nothing to do with preventing physical problem, but I have found that a CD player helps me fight the boredom of 12 laps and allows me to "space out."

As far as preparing for the pack test, I try to stay in shape by working in the woods year round and with visits to a local health club. Beginning about a month before the test, I practice a 4.1 mph pace on a treadmill. (No weight.) Once I'm comfortable with the pace, I "know" what speed I'll need once I put the pack on.

Yesterday, the company I work for administered the pack test. Out of nearly 50 people, we had only one not pass. At the end of 4 laps, he was beginning to experience leg cramps. Passing the pack test is a requirement for employment, however, more than one opportunity to pass is given by the company.

Good luck with your next pack test!

03/25 Just found a new web site that has a great power point presentation for I-200, I-300 and I-400, Modules 2 thu 17. They can be run from the web or downloaded. The site is---now be careful... www.wildlandfire.net


03/25 For those of you with young women in the family or young female friends, have them check out Camp Blaze for young women. Terrific opportunity to learn about fire and begin to get trained up.



03/25 siskiyou, firefox, bob lee and any of you other folks from northern nevada, give me a shout!

yes i am new to the fuels in northern nevada. i have fought fire in the pinelands of new jersey, the tall pines in montana, oregon, idaho and utah. do i have alot to learn about fuels in this state? hell ya. i like to think i have an open mind and very willing to learn from the experience of others. i would enjoy the chance to sit down with those of you who fight fire in these neck of the woods. give me a shout. it would be a great opportunity to get to know the folks i could be fighting fire with.

BC Davis

03/25 Ab et all-

Well, yer pup's made it into the begining on his FF1 Certification course... lookin forward to gettin this under my belt.

I had a question or two to ask of the old dogs around about.. see if maybe they know something the pup here don't. Are there any orginizations out there that have scholarships for those student firefighters (such as me *grin*) that award scholarships either from a national state or local level? And if so, perhaps there is a website or two I can get pointed at to speed me along my way? With GIS (that nifty (new?) plotting tool) and the new resource ordering system in the computers, I'm gonna go computer science and minor with forestry and you never know, might just prove to be some use somewhere on the line someday. Any and all help is, as always, deeply appreciated.


Tiny, the R-6 Pup and Firefighter Recruit

03/24 Hi Ab,

I have been reading theysaid since it was first brought to my attention, and kudos to your dedication & knowledge on wildland fire figthing.

I have been a wildland fire fighter in Nevada, for the Great Basin for 4 years. And although I am by no means an "expert" I can assure you this... IF there is a situation that we do not feel 100% comfortable with, we have no problem saying "NO". In my opinion, you look more like a competant and responsible fire fighter by doing so. Our local management will also tell you that SAFETY is 1st prioirty. Every day @ our briefings the management tells us "There is NO piece of land worth your life." Whether you are a smoke jumper, engine personnel, hot shot or overhead, we are all out there doing the same thing with the same goals in mind. To suppress wildland fire without any loss or injury to life.

DONE IN seems to want to try and cast the blame and play the victim. It's a shame he feels the way he does about our region. I am wondering though... Is he familiar with the 10 & 18? If you follow those at ALL times, you would never be involved in an entrapment. In every entrapment (close or fatal) you can bet that one if not more of those have been broken. To blame it on a particular region is ridiculous! My suggestion to DONE IN is to go back and take BASIC WILDLAND FIRE FIGHTING, and accept some responsibility. If you feel that you aren't well informed on as assignment, then ask for more information, your life and the lives of your crews depend on it. But as NV FIREFIGHTER said... ultimately, it is EVERYONE's responsibility to ensure safety. And yes, I have been on both logistic & the labor side of Type 1 & 2 fires.

Great Basin Fire Fighter (4 years & NO entrapments either)

03/24 Brett,

Haven't heard of any lookout positions since a few months ago when we had some in Oregon. I just ran through a quick check on the OPM Series 462 page that Ab puts up and there are none there either. It's a bit late. Angie, you're a CA lookout aren't ya? Do you know the hiring timeframe for lookouts for R5?

BTW, Ab, nice selection of lookout books on the books page.


Why, thank you. We aim to please. Ab.

03/24 To any one that can help:

I have recently failed the Bakersfield blm pack test due to extreme shin splints. Here is a little background 'bout me. I did the explorer thing in high school, did some testing and applied for some seasonal jobs. I was very discouraged by not getting hired and had to see if "the grass was greener" if you will. After working in the auto, ambulance and construction industries respectfully I heard about the feds hiring drive and thought I'd give it another chance. I filled out the apps and enrolled in a wildland fire mgt. course (local blm inst.) and basic firefighter class including s190, ics100, standards for survival and some of s130(kern valley ihc inst.) as well as training for the pack test. I loved and missed it, no way the grass was greener. I started getting the shin splints and was told to take it easy but keep training, so that's what I did. I started out ok but by about a mile into it, my legs cramped up so bad that I couldn't move my ankles and had burning pain up to my knees. Needless to say, I failed (very embarrassing).

My question, well, questions are these: first, any advice on overcoming this would be greatly appreciated and second I still haven't heard from the FS apps, if and when I do should I try theirs or scrap it for the season and just concentrate on PTing for next year. Also, I will be 28 now, will my age affect may being hired as a rookie (now or next year if not now)?

Thank you to any and all who respond. Have a good, safe season.


03/24 Ab and All,

Found this in the morning paper :

"G.A. "Tony" "Pop" Bailey, 79, passed away March 22 2001 at his residence in Arroyo Grande Ca"....." He possesed a deep and genuine love for family and friends. Unable to serve his country during WWII, he chose to serve his fellow citizens as a firefighter. He joined the Los Angeles Fire Department "Mountain Patrol" in 1944 and retired in 1980, having served as a firebreak construction and maintenance supervisor since 1963".

I did not know him but wondered if any of the old timers around here did. My condolences to his family and any friends who may read this.



I am considering turning it down. Maybe it is a character flaw on my part but misuse of government funds and programs does not sit well with me.

By all documents I can find via the Depart of Labor, I should be able to show up, sign my paperwork, and convert immediatley to a GS-5 PFT..... will that happen..... of course not. The agency would like to pay me for two years salary to give me training I already paid for out of my pocket. Allegedy the training is worth $5,000.00, well I paid 3,000 for it and took vacation time to get it. Why?...... because I enjoy my job and endevour to succeed and advance. All of this training I went out and got..... could have been provided for me in house at my station. Was it?..... no, Why not?...... Well is wasn't because we were busy!

I always have and still do think the program is a sham...in it's present and past forms..... it would however make an excelent extension of the ROP program that is in place in R-5.

I'm sure you would just roll over and take it if your forest RIF'ed you and then said well you can come back as a lead firefighter at a GS-5. It is a foot back in the door!......... NOT LIKELY

It's very easy to make judgements when you have been out of the field for some time riding a desk or cruising around in your DFMO rig....

Maybe i'm not a good candidate to be a "real" Fed Employee: I believe in taking care of folks that do a good job for you and not wasting $$$$$$$$$...... Damn!! there goes that Character flaw again.

On another note..... the consensus I have, from discussing the JAC with numerous folks, both in and out of THE Region (R-5) is that it lacks a good product on the whole. I am not saying that good people don't come out of it, I have several very good freinds and know alot of other folks that are quality fire people...... however I doubt that any of these traits came from the Apprenticeship.


03/24 Letter from Deputy Chief has made it to R8. My question is with the last part, "will be made available for fire assignment". That should make a whole lot of the work force that was still mowing grass around the district office after we had been on three details take notice. Also, this should mean that fire comes before "project work" which I think is correct.


03/24 WD, sounds like you should do us all a favor and turn the opportunity down,
that way you can remain on the outside looking in, and continue to bitch
and whine. You may be doing us all a favor. I find it pretty incredible
that someone trying to get a foot in the door is offered that opportunity
and then is not happy about it. I'll bet if the folks who offered you that
opportunity knew what your reaction was going to be they would have sailed
right by you on that cert. Your attitude should shout WATCH OUT to any


03/23 Nevada,

I suspect that a lot of firefighters under estimate burning conditions in Nevada. Especially if you are from areas that do not share the same fuels and weather conditions. It seems like I have spent enough time in Northern Nevada the last few years to register to vote. During that time I have been awed by the weather conditions. At night the winds pickup and blow weeds and fire all over the place.

During the day there are dust devils reaching hundreds of feet into the air. Brush, weeds, dirt and ash blow across all four lanes of I-80. You have a hard time maintaining control of your vehicle because of the cross wind. This is normal North Nevada fire weather. The temperatures are high and the RH is low. The flats turn into extremely step slopes. When you add fire to this mix things get interesting.

When things started settling down in "99" I thought everything thing was going to be lost when a fifty mile hour Northwind hit. I was amazed, no escapes. Vehicles rocked from the winds, tents went flying along with everything else. I believe good mopup and the lack of heavy fuels were the key in the lack of escapes. The clean burns were a factor. The problem is that you cannot depend on it. A spark and another 100,000 acres could have burned in a few hours.

Fire fighters live a life of airplane and bus trips to new areas with a whole set of local weather and fuel conditions. When local resources become overloaded limited local expertise becomes diluted. The Ten Standard Orders, and 18 Situations need to be running on your screen. When you get there early in the morning, things appear to be stable, the fuels are short, and you are tall and you wonder why they have not hooked it. A few hours later your mouth is dry and you wonder if that wind blows all the time. Another time you will go there and the fire has burned twenty thousand acres the afternoon before and by morning it is out. Who knows; I cannot think of a more extreme weather and fuel change than going from the Golden Gate Park to Northern Nevada in the summer. Remember, if you want shade in Nevada you must carry your own.

I must admit that my observations are that of an old camp slug with no knees, who no longer feels the heat of the flame, but those old lessons learned in years past play a part in my every day observations.

Nevada politics are interesting. In 1999 Nevada ranchers and politicians were demanding more aggressive fire fighting action. This was interesting in a State that normally would demand less of the Federal Government. Would these same people support upgrading engine foreman to seven and eights? I doubt.

My hat goes off to those BLM, NPS, FS, State, and local fire fighters who do battle in Nevada.


03/23 Dear Done IN

During the Saddler entrapment, you should have spoken up, since you had experience in the same fuel type and had been in a burn over in a similar situation!! And as for bashing Rangers, Hotshots and smoke jumpers, sometimes you get a bad apple but don't bash everyone. One or several of these folks may save your ASS someday! Someday that EMT/Medic who is working on you after a burn over or an accident on the fire line may be a park ranger! Rangers, Hotshots, and smoke jumpers are some of the most highly trained persons you will meet out in the resource management world. They have years of training in their chosen professions. As for type II hand crews, just because that crew was from Golden Gate NRA does not make them worthless. Type II crews come from every corner of the country, but they all have the same basic training and people move around alot. I think if I remember the Crew boss on that crew, he had just come from the Forest Service and had only worked for the NPS for a short while. So stop your agency bashing! In our highly mobile fire world I think every time a resource goes from one major fuel type or region to another, they should be given a briefing on local fire weather and fuels when they arrive in a region, such as was done in Florida in 1998.

So, Done In, stop your whining and finger pointing and speak up the next time you don't feel comfortable on a fire assignment. You have that right!

Fire Fox

03/23 -- for Matt:


03/23 Matt, I found one of the best ways is to greese them up really well, about 2 or 3 times. After you have a good coat of greese on them, fill them up with water (thats right,lol) and leave them for about 24 hrs. After the 24 hours, empty them adn let them dry. They'll be broken in pretty good.

Dont be the unfortunate one like me. Last year I had to buy a new pair of boots right in the middle of the season. Let me tell ya, my dogs were a hurtin bunch until they broke in. Thats when I truely found out the defenition of WHITE BITE, LOL.

Good luck

03/23 I fully agree with you on some perspectives of your response, however i did come in at the GS-4 level several years ago now......have busted my hump to train myself and get Agency paid training as well get regular promotions from withing the Seasonal temp system.

Not to mention the Fact that The program is being misused.....The Dept of Labor did not intend it to be used to hire qualified people, hence the name apprentice.....and the new SCEP (STUDENT CAREER EXPERIENCE PROGRAM) I am not enrolled in any Acredited educational program, which is a requirement as per the DoL...just wondering what's going on in peoples heads.

Seems like an excelent way to get the whole program axed!


03/23 The Jobs and Wildland Firefighter Series 462 and 455 pages are updated. OPM 462 and 455 listings just continue to grow. Unbelievable. There will not be enough applicants. If anything changes in how jobs are being handled in Boise, could one of you Oz-types fill me in so we can let Mellie (the Wiz?) know for the FAQ on FS jobs page?

NC DNR needs some "air" category employees - a pilot and a mechanic. (Check out the descriptions on the jobs page if you're a lurker of that persuasion.)

Kaitlyn and Carrie could use one more set of answers to their questions of last week. Thanks to the ff who have taken the time to write in... I've forwarded your responses on to them. I'm going to keep them on file in case other young people have similar questions.

Carry on... Ab.


wl: I've been there and I agree with BC, it is --nearly-- as easy as saying "no". I had the occassion on two separate fires last year to say "no". There was discussion with Ops, I articulated my concerns and we changed the assignment. In '96 I pulled an entire division 30 minutes before the fire blew up and ran a mile beyond our position. No arguments or repercussions at all. The key is being able to identify what it is you don't like about the assignment. Articulate a violation of any of the 10 or failure to mitigate any of the 18 and you are on rock solid ground. Articulate that you don't like to work with people from a certain location or agency, and you'll lack credibility. Safety is above all, your responsibility.

WD- Having participated in the process here is one possible explanation (might not be applicable in your particular situation). Experienced firefighters qualified for higher GS level jobs will find themselves facing some tough competition. Although fully able to do GS-7 level work, all vacancies at that level may have been offered to other equally qualified individuals. That leaves lower paying jobs that your application said you were willing to accept. Are you overqualified? Sure. Will you be likely to move on and upward in the near future? Sure. Government jobs do not establish grade based on an individuals capability; grade is established by the requirements of the job. If we need a GS-3 shovel operator we aren't going to pay a GS-8 wage just because the individual is capable of commanding an engine. My advice: Get your foot in the door and shinny up the ladder just as fast as your talents and willingness to be mobile allow. I came in as a GS-3 and plan to retire at the 13 level. You can too.

Old Fire Guy

03/23 How come when fire stats are reported they never mention the number of dozers or tractors or however they call them? I am not a track head by any means but those loud, lumbering, dangerous things sure do a lot of work on a fire. Just wondering? Sitting around and waiting for the 2001 floor show to begin so I can go dancing!


03/23 Dear Done In,

I hope that you are doing well, I think a lot about the people that were on that crew and wish well for everyone. If you were on the NPS crew at the Sadler then you know who I am.

I need to point out something, though. At the Sadler there were no BLM overhead anywhere near the crew on the line or in the chain of command from the IC down to your crew boss. The only BLM people on that part of the line were the two engines, and they weren't calling any of the shots. The overhead at the entrapment location and that were involved on the overhead team at the fire were all from other agencies. The fire was on BLM land, but that was about the extent of the direct BLM involvement in the entrapment.

If you haven't read the report, you can download it here at this site at: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/sadlerreport.pdf

The names and affiliations of everyone involved is included in the report. Though BLM is hardly a perfect outfit, BLM people weren't involved in the entrapment. I am very sorry that you had such a close call at a fire on BLM land, but you should place the responsibility on the proper people. Let me know if I can be of any help - I read this site pretty regularly.

All the best,
Bob Lee

03/23 Some good news, I landed a job on a BLM Hotshot crew. Anyhow my question is, whats the best way to break in a new pair of boots?? I just received a new pair of Drews boots and want to break them in right. I'm sure some of you firedogs have gone through quite a few pairs and I would like to know any tricks or tips that might help. Thanks in advance. AB I would also like to thank you and give you credit for my success in the job hunt. BTW, we've been pretty busy here in VA this spring. It's been fairly dry and with people burning off their gardens and trash it's resulted in some pretty good hours. Not really big fires but, hey there's smoke in the air.


Congrats, young Matt. I'll let the readers tell you about boots... Ab.

03/23 Here it is, finally! Money to implement the National Fire Plan and a link to more info on the NFP for those of you who want to know more.



03/23 Hey my name is Lance and I am a High school student. I am writing a research paper on smoke jumpers and was wondering if you could provide me with some information such as there training, pay, or a basic outline of what they do. I found a link to your website through the National SmokeJumper Association. If you could please send me some information at falconcc85@hotmail.com it would be a great help.

Thank you for your time.

03/22 The RAWS website at http://www.fs.fed.us/raws has been upgraded and expanded. Most NFDRS stations are due for their annual preventive maintenance site visit, and the timing on the updates to this page couldn't be better. New sections include the RAWS field guide, a photo collection, contacts, tech notes, and a primer - a guide for the "once-a-year RAWS Tech." Another new feature is the opportunity to sign up for the "RAWS NEWS," an email newsletter with updates on the RAWS program. We will be continually adding content and other enhancements. We welcome your feedback - let us know how we can improve the website to make everything you need available online.


03/22 Ab, this letter came into my email box yesterday through Union Channels. Has anyone else seen it yet? What are you doing about it? I have not seen anything come through official channels on official letterhead yet. Anyone have a copy of that one? I know about everyone is probably testing already, I know we are.



Letter to Regional Foresters, Area Director, and Station Directors

Effective immediately, all persons shall fill out the Health Screening Questionnaire (HSQ) prior to conditioning exercises for, or taking, any level of the work capacity tests (WCT). The HSQ must be reviewed by a qualified, certified medical officer (physician, physican's assistant, or registered nurse) prior to engaging in any activity. The medical officer will determine whether a person is cleared to start conditioning, take a WCT, or whether a physical is required beforehand. People taking any of the Work Capacity Tests, i.e., light duty, field test, or pack test, shall only that test necessary for their red-carded position as described in the Wildland and Prescribed Fire Qualifications System Guide (NWCG Pulbication PMS 310-1) and must be made available for fire assignment. Revisions to the administrator's guide are forthcoming. This change to the April 14, 2000 MOU concerning WCT procedures has been agreed upon by the Forest Service Partnership Council. If there are any questions please contact your Regional Safety Officer or the National Ground Safety Officer.

Michael Rains
Deptuy Chief

Haven't seen this, dispatcher. Many of us are just back from the CIIM Workshop in R5. Ray Quintanar stressed that all should be training for the WCT. There was one death in Mississippi of a woman doing the light fitness requirement and then another death, the details of which escape me. Everyone, here's the stuff you need to know: www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/fit.shtml

03/22 BC davis,

You make it sound so easy to refuse an assignment. Sounds like you have never been in that situation?


03/22 Hey anybody know of any look-out positions still available?!!!!


03/22 lo Ab.

Re Done ins comments on NV fires.
You definately need different tactics to fight basin fires. I started in R6 where Timber and slash predominates. It is definately an experience to see a thousand acre blow up on night shift.

Three years ago I expanded into the basin. Fires move fast here, sometimes faster than you can drive through the sage and PJ. I thought a timber fire moved fast. We showed up at 0600 the first day of the West Basin fire near Jackpot NV. that sucker burned 30-40K in a couple hours. WOW!

We were assigned structure protection and were waiting on a dirt road between the house and the fire. The fire was coming at us steadily with 10-15 foot flame lengths. and a 15 mph wind driving it. It was making steady progression towards us, when it just turned to the left and paralleled the road and then turned left again and went back over the little rise it had crossed previously.

Wind and topo play a big role in where basin fires go. I had a lot to learn and am still learning with 50 basin fires already.

To slam Fire Mgmt in the basin is a mistake. They may seem more3 laid back and easy going, but when it comes to fire they are totally professional. Folks like "Lurker" in NV will surprise you with how much they know and feel on a fire.

Like BC said if your not comfortable with an assignment let em know. theyll know that maybe you see something they dont. Any decent mgmt officer will respect your decision and alter plans accordingly.

anyhow just my two cents worth.
later - and see you all out on the line. 60-70 days to go!!!!
wheres the hot spot going to be this year? cascades are looking good to burn


03/22 Saw a mention or two about entrapments...I'm currently working with MTDC and NWCG on entrapments, shelter deloyments and burnover fatalities and would like ANY info on past occurences...official reports, rumors, etc... In order to decrease the future risk to firefighter safety we all need to collect all the bits of info we can!!! Contact me at smunson01@fs.fed.us...anonymous is OK!


03/22 I would have to agree with NVFIREFIGHTER. Not only does your safety rest on your shoulders, but so does everyone elses. Everyone is to look out for everyone else on a fire. Go back and rewatch your Standards for survival videos and take another look at your watchout situations.

I know for a fact ( and everyone who knows me agrees ) that if I felt uncomfortable in a situation, I would pull out of there as fast as I could. Also, if a crew memeber were to come to me and say they felt uncomfortable or saw somthing I didnt, I would strongly reassess the situation I was in. You have to listen to everything and everyone. I guarantee that at the 0630 morning breifing, the fire wasnt where it was at when it entraped your crew.

Last thought. REMEMBER, youre fighting fire. Youre fighting a massive, unpredictable and destuctive element of this earth. You cant just be out there wondering out in the woods. You have to be aware of your surroundings at all times. The second you let your guard down, it will bite you in the ass, which you know by now. And remember, Assumtion is the m,other of all F***ups , and excuses are like a**holes, everybody's got one. Take responsibility for yourself and your crew, lead by example, it is really easy to pass the buck, but it is difficult to take responsibility for a screw up, especially one that could have gotten people killed. Stay safe everyone. The season is starting up early. See ya out there.


03/22 Ab,

These aren't really PC programs, but that page on your site is the only place that I can see they would fit. These are fire programs developed by a firefighter for PDA's using the Palm operating system. I downloaded the demo programs (zip files) and installed them on my wife's Palm. I was impressed enough to order a Palm for myself.

The first is Fireliner. It performs hydraulic calculations such as flow rate, friction loss, pump pressure, water requirements, hose weights, etc. There is a line production calculator, engine and other resource type classifications, safety rules, and other reference material from the fireline handbook.
www.palmgear.com/software/showsoftware.cfm !!!etc

The second is Fireaway. I think this is the best of the two. It is like having the Behave program in your pocket. Some of the features of the FireAway software include- determine RH from wet and dry bulb temperature, predicted future RH based on current readings, fine Dead Fuel Moisture, Probability of Ignition, Midflame Windspeed calculated from 20' Windspeed, Behavior module (like DIRECT in FIRE1) instensity, direction of max spread, & haul chart.

The above are freeware demo programs that limit some of the inputs, but they will give you the full flavor of the capabilities of the programs. The complete version with no input limits (both applications) is available on CD-rom for $89 from The Supply Cache Inc.

The demo versions or the complete software (again, $89) are available from the developer's site- http://www.scienceonthego.com/


03/22 Our DNRC Fire and Aviation Mgmt. Bureau homepage is www.dnrc.state.mt.us/forestry/dnrcfiresite/index.php Could be another very interesting wildfire season in Montana. Current drought conditions are worse than 2000. Stay tuned.


03/22 Can anyone tell me why, with the new Nation Fire Hire deal, people with 4 plus years that have held GS-5 and 6 positions as fully qualified Sr Firefighters and FEO's are being offered GS-4 Apprenticeship positions.

It is my understanding that these positions and the Dept of Labor program that enables them are for entry level people (ie: one season)

I myself was offered one of these positions....I have had 2 seasons on an active engine as GS-5 Sr firefighter and one season as a GS-06 where I was the sole operator due to lack of a GS-7.

I have a fully signed of Crew Boss Task book and all classes that crwb entails. 90% of which I paid for out of my own wallet and leave ballance.

Does it make any sence to retrain me? Hold me back from advancing?

best case senerio, in two years I could be back at the GS-6 level, that is with no competition.


Does it make sence to even offer me this position.


03/22 hey done in !! i am getting ready for my first fire season in nevada. i work for ndf. i got a kick out of your posting to say the least !!!!!!! i have heard so many things that i guess i will have to see what happens for myself. but believe me, i will cover my ass and my crews ass. i have no problem telling anyone NO if the assignment is a bull#%&^ one. i dont care if the pope is the fmo. so wish me and my crew luck and you never know who you might meet here !

BC Davis

03/22 Ab,

Anyone have an estimate of the cost (labor, travel, etc.), including opportunity costs (work that didn't get done due to involvement in the issue) due to the "desk audit?"

Puffin II

03/22 This is in response to DONE IN's comments about the Sadler Fire and BLM Management in Nevada. I have fought fire for the BLM in Nevada since 1995 and I think that you need to take a look at yourself before you start placing the blame on other people for what is your ultimate responsibility, YOUR SAFETY. If you were a member of the Park Service crew that was entrapped you have to keep in mind that when the order was sent it was made with the assumption that whomever filled the order would have the experience and qualifications necessary to at least meet Type II requirements. I can tell you for a fact that if local management knew that they were getting a crew thrown together from Golden Gate Park with minimal or zero experience they would have never been allowed on the fire.

Also, and I have seen this first hand many times, crews come to the Great Basin and they have no idea what type of fire behavior to expect because all they see is desert and no timber. Well, in case you haven't noticed in the last couple of years the grass and sagebrush in the Great Basin can go to a 100,000 acre fire in a matter of hours depending on conditions. Crews that approach Great Basin fires using the same strategies and tactics used in other areas are going to be ineffective and useless. It is a whole different ball game here and the people who don't respect the fire potential become the subject of review teams and entrapment reports. Conditions change so rapidly that what might be a good plan during the morning briefing turns into a slew of watchout violations and hazards before lunch.

Lastly, the managment problems that you refer to can not be blamed on local districts in Nevada. Many of these fires are managed my teams that get the majority of their members from out of state, once again people that have no clue about Great Basin fires. Believe me, there is nothing worse than going to one of these fires and being told how to fight fire from some guy from Califonia, New Mexico, etc. who is totally backwards on effective strategies for fires in this region.

But, once again the ultimate responsiblity for your safety rests on your shoulders. If they give you an assignment that you are not comfortable with, don't do it. Tell team managment the situation and work something out.

-NVFIREFIGHTER (6 years in NV and not one entrapment)

03/21 As one of the many Captain's involved in the recent "desk audit", I felt I must give thanks to a particular group of people..... OUR FIRE MANAGEMENT

I would especially like to thank the Region 5 Fire and Aviation Management staff, the Forests FAM staffs, and the District fire staffs. I would also like to thank Jan Cawthon, the personnelist from the San Bernardino NF who was such as help to us.

Those folks gave the support to keep the GS-8 and GS-7 positions alive and spell out to the folks in the WO what was expected of the Captains in R-5. The Management folks understood that the guidelines that have been given to us in regards to interface fire management and prescribed fire could not be accomplished without the use of a mid level manager/supervisor. They saw that the role of a wildland firefighter has changed and that it was a whole lot more than "just putting out wildfires". Some of the things that I feel that were greatly supported by OUR MANAGEMENT in the Region, Forests, and Districts were:

..... as part of OUR understood position description.........

  • - Captains preparing and implementing type 2 and type 3 burn plans
  • - Instructing local, regional, and national training courses
  • - Serving as Incident Commander Type 3 and 4
  • - Managing a remote site ... ie-fire station...
  • - Performing all risk duties as a supervisor and IC
  • - Preparing and implementing unit project work plans
  • - Supervising a workforce that was in place from 9 to 12 months / year

Without the support of our management on this issue... the war would have been lost before the battle began....


Thanks to "They Said" and the Abs for being a sounding board and an excellent supporter of wildland firefighter issues... you are also responsible for the positions remaining as is.. THANKS TO "THEY SAID" from the R-5 Captains

/s/ Rookie-Capt

....PS...... "6" thats your answer in a nutshell......

03/20 Does anyone have an idea of where we'll all be spending our summer this year?


/s/ SoCalCapt

03/20 The Sadler Incident I was crew member on the incident and have been treated this way about five other times. Anybody hear about the Caliente, Nevada fire in 1994? I also heard about another burn over in Nevada that was not mentioned. Regarding Sadler, you just had to be on that park service crew to see what went down. Leadership is not made. It is an inherint quality. Until the Park Service gets away from its assinine position that a Ranger is a born leader of men (When all know that the person is an idiot) and the Forest Service quits putting hot shits in charge, these problems of safety will not go away. I have been to Nevada twice and been entrapped twice and both were B.L.M. shows with lots of ex-shots and jumpers in the overhead. BLM stands for Basically Lousy Management. I for one will not be going back to Nevada for the Trifecta.
What do you have when you have Nevada overhead up to their necks in sand? Not enough sand.

Done In

Sounds like a good decision. Ab.

03/20 I heard that S-205, Fire Ops in the Urban Interface has been changed or upgraded and is now called S-215. Does anyone out there know what was changed/upgraded and whom do I contact to get the new S-215 instructors package? Thanks!

S-205 Instructor

03/20 I think consensus on forests is that we should now have open rosters for seasonal temporary folks. Enough of the current hiring system. Let's just do it? Anyone disagree?


03/20 Here are some interesting IMWTK trivia provided by Greg Greenhoe at the CIIM Workshop in Sacramento today:
  • On the peak fire day last summer - Aug 29, 2000 - there were
    • 28,462 firefighters on duty
    • 667 crews
    • 1,294 engines
    • 226 helicopters
    • 42 air tankers
    • 84 fires greater than 100 acres
    • 1,642,579 acres on fire in 16 states
  • The Clear Creek Fire had the largest, longest sustained run of any US fire, burning more than 30 miles in heavy timber.
  • The Montana fires alone engaged
    • 2,379 state and federal firefighters,
    • 1500 local firefighters and
    • 950,120 acres burned
NorCal Tom
03/19 Ab,
Yes, Carrie and I still would like wildland firefighters to answer our career questions.
The questions are as follows!
1. What exactly is a wildland firefighter?
2. What type of working conditions are there?
3. What does the job require? (Education? Training? College? University? etc...)
4. How many hours do you work a week?
5. On average what would a wildland firefighter make per year?
6. What personal charactreistics are required for someone to be successful in your job?
7. Do you think that there will be a lot of demand for wildland firefighters in the future? Why or why not?
8. How do you think the job will change in the future?
9. How much job security is there for wildland firefighters?
10. Do you enjoy your job? What are somethings that you prefer about it? And what are somethings that you do not prefer about it?

Thank you for being very cooperative!
Kaitlyn and Carrie

Kaitlyn and Carrie, we all are wildland firefighters, which means that we fight wildfires in the woods, in the desert, in the grasslands, in the mountains, and on the wildland/urban interface (where cities meet the woods). Thus, I added "wildland" to each of your questions.

Readers, any of you who would like to respond to these girls (or young women), send in your answers and I'll forward them on, after removing your e-mail address. Ab.

03/19 I teach ceramics to firefighters and have been looking everywhere for a mold of a wildland firefighter: figurine, mug, anything. Do you know of any?

- Diana

03/19 Not to muddy the waters on the issue concerning pay for engine captains (or foremen as they are known in 49 out of 50 states) but why are qualifications never considered when looking at pay. My thought would be to establish a base pay for a position, then give a bonus to folks who get qualified and keep current in key positions, IC type III, Burn Boss II, FBAN, ATGS, etc. Right now there is not always much incentive for working up in some of those areas, especially burn boss. No extra pay, lots of extra pressure to get acres black, and lots of extra liability. Your thoughts?


03/19 So how exactly do PDs in regions other than 5 need to be posted to describe engine captains that qualify for GS-8? Is training they provide a part of it? I presume Rx burning fits in because of the year-round 7 day on-the-job. Anything else?

Just Wonderin' in R3

03/18 A couple of points to clarify the "helishot" issue. In ICS terminology, the correct term is "fly crew" or "flight crew".

In its concept, a "flycrew" crew combines the skills of helitack support with initial attack/large fire support handcrew. Yes, by ICS terminology, it will be rated as Type 1, but only within the realm of ICS, see the Field Operations Guide for all the "criteria".

In the 70's & 80's it was more common to see these crews, they were one of the first to go when the guv started its fleecing of the fire service.

As far as the Super Puma being at FHL, that is old and inaccurate info. There will be no ship at FHL, the Type 1 (whether Super Puma or S-214ST) will be at Arroyo Grande on the Los Padres. It will have a rather large module, almost 30 people, will be rappel qualified, and able to put 15-18 bodies on the ground upon an IA dispatch.

In reference to Jakes post, you are referring to the Fire STOP (Standard Type One Program) helicopter from last year that was based out of Kernville. This was the Regions program to (rather hastily, I might add) augment the airforce for the region considering what what was happening in the rest of the west. It wasn't easy coming up with 4 available Type 1 Standard Category (people carrying) ships, so we took what we could. It just so happens that the 214ST didnt have a belly hook at the time, hence the reason it had no bucket.

The term "helishot" associated with the Fire STOP program was inaccurate, the region applied the term to the modules, not the crews. By all logic, the crews were not type 1 rated considering they did not meet the ICS or the IHC criteria for a type 1 crew.

Considering the price tag for a Type 1 ship, this will probably be the first to go when the guv gets the bill. It would be better to use the 212/412 platform for the flycrews. It worked well in the past, the problem was there were not very many of them.


03/18 el medio fd

Here is the latest info I have as of last Tuesday. - Jim

This is a message from the FEMA's US Fire Administration.


WASHINGTON -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) announced today a toll free information line is now available for the new Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The toll free number is 866-274-0960. Calling hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. E.S.T. The line will also accept voice-mail messages after hours, on weekends, or if the line is busy. Questions may also be sent to a toll free fax line, 866-274-0942, or e-mailed to usfagrants@fema.gov

The complete set of grant application forms is not currently available, but will be posted on the USFA website in the near future. The forms will be downloadable from the web site, but it will not be possible to electronically submit completed application forms. Further information will be posted as soon as the Interim Final Rule is published in the Federal Register. An announcement will also be mailed to every fire department, state fire training agency, state fire marshal's office, and to allied professionals.

All Assistance to Firefighters Grant applicants will need to complete several federal forms in order to prepare a grant application. There will be a 30-day open grant application period beginning shortly after the Interim Final Rule is published in the Federal Register.

In addition to program specific information, applicants will be required to complete the following generic forms:

  • SF 424, Request for Federal Assistance
  • FEMA Form 20-20, Budget-Non Construction
  • FEMA Form 20-16, Summary of Assurances
  • SF-LLL, Lobbying Disclosure
These forms are now available on the USFA Website at www.usfa.fema.gov/grants/. A brochure, Developing and Writing Grant Proposals is available for download in PDF format. This seven-page document explains the basic steps in Federal grant proposal writing. Grant applicants will also be required to submit program specific information that must be correlated with the above forms. Potential applicants may familiarize themselves with the generic forms; however, it may be premature to fill them out at this time. The SF 270 form listed on several websites would be used by awardees to request funding transfers, and it is not required unless an actual grant award is made and a subsequent transfer of funds is needed. Anyone interested in serving as a grant evaluator should contact one of the following fire service professional groups:
  • Congressional Fire Services Institute - www.cfsi.org
  • International Association of Arson Investigators - www.fire-investigators.org
  • International Society of Fire Service Instructors - www.isfsi.org
  • National Association of State Fire Marshals - www.firemarshals.org
  • National Fire Protection Association - www.nfpa.org
  • National Volunteer Fire Council - www.nvfc.org
  • North American Fire Training Directors

Each Evaluation Panel will meet for one week at the National Fire Academy in late May and early June to review grant applications.

Good info. Thanks Jim. Ab.

03/17 If you know of any information on how our fire dept. could get a grant to obtain so new equipment? It would be very helpful. We are a small dept. and need all the help we can get.

Thank you
el medio fd

03/17 My limited information tells me that the Super Puma has a 20 person Heli-attack crew on it. They are Type I rated but I do not know the composition of the crew. I believe they will have rappell capability this year or they are working on it. This incredible aviation resource will be stationed out of Hunter Ligget on the Central Coast of Calif.

Sure as hell beats the Bell 214 Heli-Shot Helicopter with NO Bucket that was stationed in the central valley of Calif. Thats alot of helicopter sitting on the ground.


03/17 KSL,

I was on a heli-shot crew back in 1988, and for all I know things could've changed by now. The crew was Type I, interagency. We were stationed at the Apple Valley Station, California Desert District, BLM. The ship was a Bell 212 that had been modified. Although I later found that I prefered being on a hotshot crew, that ship rocked!

As a general rule, there were eighteen people on the crew with rotating days off. At any given time, nine people were to fly in the ship, with the remainder of the crew on helitack duty. Assignments were on a rotating basis, with exceptions taken to experience, expertise, and weather (the higher the temperature, the less weight a ship can carry).

All members of the crew were helitack qualified, although most of us did not really like helitack duty. We were largely used as an initial attack crew. However, due to a constant demand for ships, we were sent throughout the Western U.S., and put on assignments like any hotshot crew.

I only served one season on Apple Valley Helishots, and then went to a hotshot crew. As strange as it sounds, I preferred humping into a fire over flying into it. Plus, it seemed as though you ended up spending more time in the field on a hotshot crew. So I guess it's just personal preference. As stated, I prefered being on a hotshot crew.

Anyways, this was some thirteen years ago. I may have forgotten some things and some other things may have changed by now. Nevertheless, I hope this provides you with some information.


03/17 S.I.

Saw your request re: contrating/driving fire bus's. I can't tell you which way to go, but let me offer a few facts/advice.

As with any call when needed contract, there is NO guarantee of work. Bus companies are called when needed, location and price are the main determining factors as to which company gets the first call.

If you are a company owner and do not have other work to keep your bus's running all year, you have approximately 100 days to make your money for the year. If you owe lots of money and it is a "poor" fire season--well you can do the math.

I suggest you find a job with an established company, drive for a season, learn as much as you can about the fire bus business, and then make your decision.

Hope this helps.

03/17 I was wondering about these Heli-Shot crews. Where are they located? Are they an actual type I rated crew, or are they a 20 person helitack crew that breaks up into IA squads. Do they Rappell? I am just curious because I have heard rumors of crew being formed with a Super Puma that was going to be a type I crew that was Rappell capable. If anyone has any info let me know.


03/17 I just got offered my first "temp" job for the season.

Not a PSE, but, what the hell.......

They're beginning to start......


03/16 Firehorse,

I havent heard of making GS-7's or 8's in to GS-9's as AFMO's. But, if the position has program management as a requirement, then it meets item 1-6 of the FES and deserves a GS-9 if supervisory and a GS-8 if non-supervisory.

ac (Amature Classifier)

03/16 Dave, Brax, firenwater, all--

The question should not be: Should the Captains in California be GS-8's?
Rather, it should be: Should ALL Captains who have the same responsibility be GS-8's (whether Flagstaff, Prescott, Boise, Glenwood Springs, etc.)?

For all of you who care, the reasons the GS-8 engine captain positions are staying as is in California (and not to be confused with supervision -ie- the GSSG) are these:

  • Level 1-5 Knowledge Required
  • Level 5-3 Scope and Effect
These items can be reviewed at the http://www.opm.gov site.

In Region 5, Engine Captains are serving "a majority of their time" in positions of ICT3 and developing and implementing burn plans. These are the keys to level 1 and level 5 and to their GS-8 ratings. If other regions have a problem with this and they apparently do (as per the OPM appeal decision that started the reevaluation), then they shoud re-write the PD's of their folks to include these items.

In Region 5. Capt's supervise a year-round workforce, thus, the engine captain exercise for the certifiers. The San Bernardino NF had over 70 employees involved in that exercise. This is more firefighters than most Forests employ in a typical fire season. Fires happen in SoCal year-round---- Viejas Fire = Year 2001 (Jan. 2001).

Captain at Large

03/16 Series 462, 455 and the jobs page are updated. There are about 55 more positions advertised on the 462 series than last Tues. BLM Rawlins WY field office is offering 2 heli jobs and 1 lead range tech (fire) position. Get those applications in. We're not done yet, folks! Ab.
03/16 Hi Dave, having just gone through the recent audits, I felt I had to give some info...
  • for rating of GS grades the following info is the MOST inportant....
    • Level 1 Knowledge Required (The knowledge of the professional series supported (ie- forestry, biology, soils, etc...) (For any GS-0400-0499 position)
    • --Level 5 Scope and Effect (How that knowledge relates to the program being applied... and its long term success...)
  • And as a supervisor, how the GSSG applies to that position......That is, how the positions are rated for grades..... Not for how many one supervises... Only the GSSG item 5 takes in to account how many folks a supervisor actually superises......
The GS-8 Captains won their position based on these factors.....
and "Dispersion"...
and after the audits... these positions should spread nationwide based upon the actual duties performed... "IF THE POSITION IS A SUPV. FORESTRY TECHNICIAN INVOLVED IN SUPPRESSION, PRESCRIBED FIRE, AND FORMAL TRAINING (ie-college level)....

//Former Capt//

03/16 Howdy Folks...
After being a school bus and transit bus driver, trainer, and manager for more years than I'll admit here, I'm sick of the rat race. Several of my friends and employees have been, or are fire bus drivers and all say they love it.

I'm thinking of driving firebus this season and possibly becoming an owner/operator with my own bus or even a small fleet with paid drivers next season, contracting to USFS.

I'd appreciate hearing feedback regarding pros and cons, good and bad experiences you've had, what you look for in a good transportation provder, equipment, driver, service, etc. If I start this business, I want to know what the REAL users want from it. Thanks for your input!


03/16 Ab, you were babbling about engines and 5 day effective vs 7 day effective and sayin thats the reason those engine slugs get gs 8's. I don't think so! There are better reasons for dollars than supervision. How do you explain an Initial Attack hand crew Captain that is stuck with 7 wages. For my money I'd rather have a 'complicated piece of machinery' to run with 5 or 7 FFTRS than a hand crew with 10 people 7 days a week (14 FFTRS). Which do you think is more complicated the machine or the people? Theres a whole bunch of reasons those guys get 8's outta the deal, mostly to buy bigger hats.

Later. Dave

I don't remember you (or anyone else) saying the IAHC captains shouldn't be 8s. The hotshot superintendants are 9s, the hotshot foremen are 8s. The hotshot foremen only oversee the activities for 8 or nine people five days a week and have no suprvisorial responsibilities except in the absence of the super, who I must add is very seldom absent. The IAHC captains can have full supervisory responsibilities of 9 people 5 days a week, responsible for project planning and accomplishment, and station maintenance. A position description comparison along with a corresponding desk audit should alleviate this descrepancy, hopefully in the near future.

To specifically address your last question with tongue firmly in cheek, new people are more complicated, but once training and working together for a while with good supervisors (who deserve to be fairly compensated), maybe the machine -- that is, if the fire behavior is held constant. Ab wants ta know: Is that hat's bigger than before? or hat's the size the overhead wear as they try to hold the fire to a constant or at least figure what it's gonna do?

03/16 Hey out there,

Just heard the FS is looking into making all AFMO's GS-9's instead of 7's and 8's. Anyone know anymore?


03/16 Fired up a saw today, felled a snag, bucked it up, and like all ex-hotshots, started reminiscing.

About a year ago, I posted a message in which I was looking for some comrades whom I've lost touch with. I received a few replys, for which I'm grateful. However, I'd still like to hear from anyone who was with Apple Valley Helishots in 1988, or Dalton Hotshots in 1989 or 1990. Or, if anyone knows the wherebouts of Mike "Veg-Man" Ceriello, Dan "Ogie" Ogden, Tom "Peach" Nyberg, Bill Fonda, Junior, Maurice, Don-Ho, or Alex Csatari, if you could drop me a line, it'd be appreciated. My e-mail address is eestey@amphi.com, or you can post a reply on this site.

For whatever it's worth, the only story I've ever read that describes what it's like to be on a shot crew is Norman McLean's novella, The Ranger, the Cook, and the Hole in the Sky: USFS, 1919. If you've never read it, you ought to. Although hotshot crews didn't yet exist, he describes what it's like to be on one. If you read it and don't get a little choked up, dammit, then you were never a shot.

Keep your chains sharp and your canteens full.

03/15 Already Hired,

Your comments are spot on. I came in with the Viet Vets and can attest to the fact that many of my peers brought to the Agencies a high level of maturity and ability to supervise people in very stressful and hazardous environments. Those type of attributes, and there are many others, while invaluable, are sometimes overlooked or not considered. I was initially hired not because of a point preference, but because I had demonstrated strong supervisory skills, skills I acquired when I was 19 years old. That gave me a nice edge years later in the job pool. It has been a good program that has brought top notch people into fire management and I believe, will continue to do so.


03/15 ab,

Just returned from Colorado after a quick trip to hike Storm King. Hiked on Sat. and ended up having good weather considering what was happening in the rest of the state. Trail was still icy in parts and muddy. Wasn't too bad getting up to the overlook of the west flank line. Rest of trail was snowy and muddy. The west-flank fireline still had deep snow and was very soft, so made hiking very difficult. The crosses are all uncovered though and easily visible. Was very somber looking over the items left and thinking what must have been running through their heads when things went down. Especially the two helitack guys. How close they were to the ridge top on the west line is very surprising and sadening. Another few seconds and none of this would be talked about. The mountain is great memorial and should be hiked by everyone involved in wildland fire. I was expecting a much longer hike and steeper country. But to second guess anyone that was on the fire is absurd and does no good. Have to wonder though, what could or should have been done different and if any of it would have made any difference. The registration box is well marked with stickers from various areas, crews, and people. Added crews logo to box, adding to many different shot crews that are represented. I would hope that more people take the opportunity to hike the mountain to learn and pay tribute.


03/15 -- BLM Bob
After your comments, I went back and reveiwed your statements, and mine....

You are correct, you did give some very good information (damn near excellent). I would have to say I probably jumped the gun with you and may have been a bit excessive and possibly out of line. I apologize.

Momentarily Bored---
I have a little experience with riparian areas, although I don't quite understand your questions.

However, I have seen swamp fires burn the tops of the swamp while you're slushing through 24" of water dragging a hose to put the cattails out before the fire reaches the hillside......


03/15 MH

They should have known that. There was 0 wind in town and the 911 operators were swamped. The Forest came back with the excuse that maybe they needed to let the public and other officials know when they were burning. ;-)

Ab, could you include the attached photo? BTW it's not as pretty as the Elk Bath picture.


Here's the smoke sinks photo. Ab.

03/15 The national sit report from NICC is now available on the web in html from wildfirenews.com/

It's about 10K in size, compared to 88K in PDF format. The tables are not formatted, so if you really need to see the figures in table format, you'll have to suffer with the PDF format until the folks at NICC get it back together. Don't hold your breath on that, though - they say the PDF format is a "cleaner end product," whatever that means.


03/15 Jim:

The effect that you are describing is known as an inversion layer. It occurs when cold air gets trapped beneath a layer (or cap) of warmer air. This happens due to diurnal heating of the ground. When the sun goes down cool, denser air flows downward into valley bottoms, canyon bottoms, etc. This causes the warm air to trap the colder air beneath it. Smoke, dust, and other particulates get caught in the denser cold air as there is no vertical air movement inside the inversion. The inversion will remain until solar energy heats the cold air enough to allow it to rise and "break through" the inversion layer. Many times fires that are beneath the inversion layer lay down with minimal activity until the inversion breaks, then these fires blow up due to the sudden increase in air movement. This can happen in a matter of minutes during early morning hours. I have also seen fires burning in the middle of the night where in the lower elevations there is no fire activity due to the cooler air temperatures but there is active fire near the same elevations as the inversion layer. Hope this helps you out.


No lakes in your neck-o-the-"woods", eh? Ab.

03/15 Re: no downgrade. . .letter in the mail.

Excuse me if I hold off popping the cork on the champagne till the letter arrives. Even then, it will most likely be a "virtual" cork. I've passed this milestone before and have yet to preceive a logical reason to revisit. I suggest the person(s) responsible for the uneccessary review restitute the government for the costs incurred by those forced to participate. I also recommend a spot cash award for all those who have suffered mental anguish caused by the event. $500 might help ease some of the emotional distress and make the incumbents feel more appreciated.

Has any thought been given to providing on-site counseling for those feeling betrayed one too many times by their agencies?

Rhino (with chinks in the armor)




03/15 Jim:

I am not familiar with the term "Smoke Sink", but am very well acquainted with the phenomenon. It is not a new thing by any means. It is a facet of "lake effect." In spring and summer, lakes, and in particular large lakes, are cooler than the surrounding land and cause the air over them to cool and sink. If that air is full of smoke it will capture and hold the smoke. Then with air continuing to rise from the surrounding land, there will be an onshore flow, blowing smoke inland. This also happens with sea breezes.

I can think of a couple of examples of this. In the mid 90's one of the National Forest Districts in Wisconsin did a prescribed burn in July (non fire season). During the afternoon the smoke rose and was carried out over Lake Superior with a southwest transport wind. That evening it came back ashore in Chequamegon Bay. It wasn't as thick as your example, so that there weren't any serious visibility problems, but it caused quite a few citizens to call in reporting forest fires in the neighborhood. Another time, a very large wildfire on the North Carolina coast sent a column of smoke out to sea, which came back ashore in South Carolina.

As to why it happened only once in the last 20 years, I can only guess that it just happened that the transport winds, mixing heights, tonnage of the smoke and timing of the burn were in the right alignment to cause the smoke to remain concentrated and to be captured by the lake effect.


Welcome and thanks, MH. Interesting info. Ab.

03/15 Re the sit report in pdf only: FYI, there has been some discussion among the FS web-types that PDF may not even meet the criteria for the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whether it does or not, it's a hassle for readers to deal with. Ab, if this pdf-only reporting continues, maybe this site could offer a non-pdf sit report. I know that might be some work on a daily basis, but perhaps a few of us could help out so all can have ready access to the info...

NorCal Tom

Yeah, right, Tom! Thanks for the offer, but I'd rather Boise get it together -- they're getting paid to do the job. Now maybe if you wanted to help with some little animated gifs?... Ab.

03/15 I'm sitting in a workshop full of fire mgrs, hydrology types, and researchers. We are trying to get a handle on how riparian areas influence fire effects on adjacent upland landscapes. Also, how useful are riparian areas as anchor points, fuel breaks, safety zones, etc. Riparian is roughly defined as streams and ponds with their adjacent wetland vegetation. Clearly, the ability to fill a pissbag or engine from a stream helps suppression but what other effects are dependent on a healthy stream/riparian system? Any thoughts?

Momentarily Bored

03/15 Stu::

You dont reckon that you might have a copy of that (those) contracts for the crews...there have been some questions in my class about this very thing...if you want to be ann EMT...you have to have a Medical Director (short for a doctor who takes ultimate responsibility for your actions), but IF it is a condition of your job..then the agancy has to provide you with a medical director.

My EMT instructor is kinda out of the loop..so im wondering if he's right b/c if the shots require an EMT..according to my teacher..the FS (or who-ever) has to provide a medical director.

thanks again,

03/15 "already hired" ,
I am a veteran, 4 years military and 27 years forest service.

I would like to apologize to all the vets out there, I meant you no disrespect or discredit. I have once again proven that both of my size 11.5 whites will indeed fit into my mouth at the same time with room to spare.

Veterans should indeed have preference in our workforce as I did when I was discharged from the military and hired 2 weeks later by an FS "shot" crew.

The intended "slam" was at the WO inventors of our current hiring procedure and it's implementation. Giving Vets preference is one thing, but giving anyone 9 choices of where they want to work and guaranteeing them a job without letting the receiving unit interview, call references or have any say in the hiring procedure is a little farfetched and I would say bordering on coddling.

No, I did not mean that young adults should not be hired.. quite the contrary.. wildland firefighting is a young persons job! I commend you for knowing what you wanted to do early in life and going after it. Keep up the good work and stay safe.....

/disgusted (but not always!)

03/15 SUBJECT: The International Exhibition for Disaster Control and Emergency Treatment Services
Dear Sirs/Madams,

We would like to inform you that The International Exhibition for Disaster Control and Emergency Treatment Services will be held on 15-18,August 2001 in Shanghai, China. Various activities including a disaster control and emergency treatment forum, seminars/conferences, business talks and new products appraisals will take place during the event. The fair details and a Space Reservation Form are attached for your information. (E-mail them for those forms. Ab.) If you need any assistance, please feel free to contact us.

- The Civil Defense Office of Shanghai Municipal Government

- Education Network & Exhibition Services Ltd.
- OIC Advertising & Exhibition Co., Ltd.
- The Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Association (DERA)
- The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM)

Thank you. Best regards,
Kwan CHU

Education Network & Exhibition Services Ltd.
14E Cindic Tower, 128 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: 852 2598 7556
Email: enesjonathan@ctimail3.com

The Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Association
Mr.Bascombe J.Wilson Executive Director

The International Association of Emergency Managers
Ms. Elizabeth B.Armstrong,MAN CAE

03/14 A question for all you smoke eaters. Has anyone ever heard of the phrase "Smoke Sink"? Our local forest smoked out the town which is 20 miles away to the point visibility was less than 200 yards. The explanation was the cool air of a large lake that was close by caused a smoke sink. The interesting part is they have been burning around this lake for over 20 years and now the smoke sink effect is something new.


03/14 From Firescribe in response to various questions:
Map showing the large fires we had last year

Wildland fire potential map (in fire season this is the site of the fire maps)

Drought severity index by division

And here's a heads-up on a new video Firestorm 2000 that should be in stores by April.


Hello, I'm having a problem. I'm applying for a fire job with fish and feathers. (FWS) I've been trying to apply online, everything goes fine until you get to the Supplemental Qualifications Statement (SQS) The only part you can see is the answer sheet. With no way to know what the questions are. Instructions are not available for viewing through opm website.

Can anyone offer some advice?

Also, What area of the west is in drought conditions this year? i.e. any guess on where and when it will crank this year? Sounds like R-3 is wet this year.

Thank you,

Anyone know about FWS hiring? Mellie? Anyone else? What are the deadlines? Electronic or hardcopy? Anybody like ASAP to call to lead an applicant through the process? Ab.

03/14 Hey sec,

I wouldn't say I ripped RJH a new one. I gave some pretty good information (if I say so myself) from the BLM's perspective on the subject he/she asked about, and I closed with two words of advice. Hardly a "a damn gospel on all of our opinions on what a terrible, anti-christ DUI person he/she is."

And just so you understand my intent, it wasn't only for RJH - I meant that for all the firefighters that read this great site. Maybe, just maybe, some good-hearted but momentarily careless firefighter someday will remember what they read here and arrange for a designated driver. The world could be a better place.

And just to further toot my own horn, here's a story. Some time back, I hired a person into a GS-5 fire job that had been fired from another fire job because of a DUI. I took on that person that I had never met because they came across well, and other people gave good recommendations. That person is now a GS-12 in aviation, and doing a hell of a job. So I don't feel the least bit bad about my recommending a DD to RJH (and to everyone that reads this page), because I think it's good advice and I've tried to make some fairly positive contributions.

And when I go to rip someone a new one, it's never anywhere near as mild as what I wrote to RJH. ;^)


03/14 Hey "disgusted",

When I read your e-mail I had to seriously doubt you are veteran. Anyone who has sacrificed years of their life to serve our country, especially in a time of war deserves preference in hiring for a government job. It is a sacrifice that a person cannot understand unless you've been there, which I cannot believe you have. I think you need to quit crying about it and do your best to get hired with the qualifications you have. If a vet gets the job over you, tough. I've heard plenty of stories about vets who were hired over someone else who had better qualifications. I also know of alot of people who's qualifications were just a bunch of words on paper and when it came time to perform they failed. So just live with it, the policy is not going to change.

Signed-Already Hired

03/14 The SoCal SIT report is still normal. (I realize that doesn't do the rest of the world any good)


Anybody try the individual Regions to see if they have their own like R5/South?


03/13 Brax,

Had to reply to your question about how does california rate for GS8 engine captains. Couldn't agree more that the job is equally complex all over the country. The actual factor in the classification that made it rate out as an 8, was supervision. The 8's are on Type 3 engines which carry 5 people. With 7 day coverage that brings the total employees to 7. On the Type 4 engines and others there are only 3 people at a time (5 total employees). The fire community in california fought very hard to keep from having a different grade sturcture on different type engines. We all believe a captain is a captain and what makes the job complex is not the difference of 2 temporary employees. Apparently, among classifiers, grade level in the Forestry Technician series is more based on supervision than job complexity. The fire shop lost the battle in that one, but this go round may help change things for folks in other regions. I certainly see the potential for it. Just remember, we are all in this together and the last thing we want to do is pit different regions against one another.
Have hope!


Good clarification, firenwater. Another way to put it... The Type 3s carry 5 people but if they're on duty 7 days a week, two additional people are needed. FF do a staggered tour in order to have time off. In contrast, Type 3s that carry 5 FF for 5 days do not require staggered tours for the crew. Supervision is simpler. The Type 4s carry 3 people but if they're on duty 7 days a week, there must be two additional FF for the staggered tour. Supervising 5 people is the optimal number in the chain of command. Supervising more requires greater coordination -- and higher GS rating. It seems logical that all engine captains of Type 4 engines who supervise 5 people for 7 days (or 7 FF over the week) should be rated GS-8, regardless of their duty location whether in R5 or not.

Here's another question. Why shouldn't the assistant engine captain also be rated GS-8? This person supervises the crew on the two days a week the captain is off (40%) and supervises whenever the captain leaves for training, conferences, and other duties. Probably most assistant engine captains have such supervisorial duties more than half the time. Ab.

03/13 Dear Ab,

Just thought I would share good news with you for a change. I recieved a call today and accepted and offer for a 5 on one of the new Shot Crews. I thought for sure I was one who had slipped through the cracks. I'm pretty happy but I know also what lies ahead of me. I am sure it's going to be a totally different from So. CA. I'm 32 in a town where they are probably going to pick up alot of the crew from the local university. I guess it's time for a new pair of cross-trainers. Thanks for your advice and support.


Good news indeed! Ab.

03/13 Dear Disgusted:

What do you mean by kid gloves, I hope you are not implying that young adults should not work in the fire service. I'll give you a little background on myself, I started in a cadet program when I was 14, doing mop up/gruntwork/ sharpening tools all of that stuff. In the winter I took all the classes I could 290, 205, 231 etc.. I am now 21 and going into my second season on a rappell crew and squad boss positions. I feel that young adults have a lot to offer and that managers would be in a real pinch if they were not there. Let me know if i misinterpreted your email.


KSL, I think he meant the preference that military veterans are given in hiring for federal jobs. We're happy to have young people who have some experience firefighting applying for jobs. Sounds like you started young. Anyone want to explain to this young man and other young people reading how hiring a vet works, what demo and merit mean? We get these questions all the time. It would be good to add a jobs FAQ on these. Ab.

03/13 Hi, my name is lawrence clowry. I recently completed the I-100, S-130, and S-190 coursework. I have a B.S. in biology with such classes as ecology, plant taxonomy, plant physiology etc. I am extremely fit, I played soccer in college and i have run two miles under 12 minutes numerous times (this was part of our training). I am also in my second semester of fire science classes at my local community college. I am an extremely hard worker and dedicated person. I think that I am a good candidate for wildland firefighting. I specifically would like to get involved with a hotshot crew. I was wondering if you could give me any advice as to how to get this position. If it is too late for hotshots could you give me any info on other positions such as an engine crew and how to get these jobs. Thank you for your time.

Readers, comments? Have the opportunities for type1 crew passed for this year? Ab.

03/13 Hello,

can jou make a link to my homepage?
My homepage URL is: www.feuerwehr-ambulanz.com

And have jou a patch for me?

Sorry but my English is not verry good.


Nice homepage Phillip. Yours is mainly about city firefighting and emergency rescue. We are wildland firefighters -- forest, mountains, swamps, deserts, sometimes on the edges of the city next to the forest.

Hey Hickman, check out his Anemierte Bilder link on the left of his page. Anyone out there with clip art or animated gifs to share? We have a few we're thinking of putting up for reader use. Ab.

03/12 Hi all! Here's the formerly unsubmitted section of my Engine Captain post from last week. I can add it now that the no downgrade "letter" from Nelson is in the mail.

I was really surprised that the *official decision* took so long to come down from Nelson. All I could think was that he was trying to decide how to frame his response nationally so that Engine Captains in other regions would not also jump to GS-8 and cost big bucks. My only other thought was that maybe he thought he could make the non-downgrade official in the most quiet way. How much $$ was wasted on that exercise???

Guess if I were he, I wouldn't want to have to be the one to tell the new cost-cutting administration that All Wildland Firefighting Engine Captains across the country deserve to be paid what they're worth based on their technical expertise. So I'd try to think up some rational as to why it should only apply to R5. For example, "R5 has such extensive wildland/urban interface that engine captains there must have greater technical expertise and therefore deserve higher pay." RIGHT, like there is less interface in other regions of the country! Like structures at risk don't exist in Montana, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Texas, NM, the woods of Pennsylvania, the swamp interface of Florida or the Pine Barrens of New Jersey! Like only in CA does it get complicated because of the interagency participation even on IA?

I say all FS engine captains nationwide deserve the same pay schedule, GS-8. And soon!

There, that feels better. I hate to have to bite my lip before I've delivered the whole message! (And I'm still really proud of ALL of you!!!)

03/12 And now we offer kid gloves and every job to every vet, whether they expressed prior interest or not...nothing against vets, I are one, but you talk about monkeywrenches in an already unbelievable process!!



03/12 Hey Ab!
What is the criteria to qualify a enigne captain for a GS-08 instead of a GS-07? What makes California Engine Captains the exemption to the rule when the rest of the nation Engine Captains top out at a GS-07. Is the difference in the complexity, because I'm sure almost every Engine Captain outside of R5 would agree that there job is just as complex. The FS and the BLM detail Engine's to R5, should there pay be increased when on detail? Should R5 Engine be downgraded when outside of R5? Just curious everybody wants more pay.


03/12 In response to AL's note about the cumbersome hiring process: RIGHT ON!! After doing my electronic app on the avue/fsjobs site, I was later told to send in a hard copy application with a resume and just respond to all the KSA's hard-copy. Did that. Then I was sent a letter asking me to fill out the bubblesheets and send those in. Did that. Yesterday I got e-mail from the W.O. asking me to respond to all the questions again and fax it back. Did that too. I figure my chances of getting hired are now:

A. Double what they were before.
B. Triple what they were before.
C. Quadruple what they were before, since I have now applied 4 times and made it successfully through this ridiculous gamut.
D. About 25% of what they were before, since I'm now probably competing with my other 3 applications.
E. None of the above.
F. All of the above.
G. Gollygee, I think I am giving myself a headache.


03/12 The current temporary hiring process is too cumbersome. As with other jobs offered this year, applicants for temp positions can designate up to 9 units. If a particular forest's code comes up, that forest must give the candidate due consideration. Sounds simple, but some forests are receiving 2000+ names for consideration. The volume is overwhelming; the process, like digging line in molasses. I suggest that those of us in the FS send two e-mails alerting management to the problem: one to our Regional Head of Fire and the other to Lyle Laverty. Request that the process be simplified. We need to get our temps hired and trained in an expeditious manner. There's plenty else to spend our time on this year besides poring over a wheelbarrow full of applications.


03/12 Word from three independent sources says that the letter signed by Steve Nelson, HRM is on its way. There will be no downgrade of GS-8 engine captains. EXCELLENT NEWS! Congrats to you engine captains on the good job of demonstrating the technicality and complexity of your jobs. Thank you to R5 management for your strong support. Good support from FWFSA. Thanks also to Joan the HR certifier (and her group) for accurately reporting back to Nelson what was presented, and recommending no change.

Potential engine captains, remember that the deadline for postmarks on applications for Round 2 Permanent MEL and PLA hires is March 14 -- this Wed.

I'm really proud of you all!

03/10 Mike, and interested others...........

Just returned from attempting to hike the SK14 Memorial trail. Weather was absolutely perfect, trail conditions on the west slope of the west ridge become treacherous....icy and slick for long upgrade stretches where the sun dosen't make it. Where the ice isn't, runoff has made mud of the trail. My better half is not an experienced hiker, so we'll try again later in the spring (rather than risk injury and spousal wrath). Snow and snow showers were moving in today.

By the way: a tremendous THANK YOU to whoever cleaned and repaired the vandalism of the Two Rivers Park monument (Glenwood residents?).


03/10 Ab

My last words on the DUI issue is that the ONLY difference between RJH and a lot of the folks who read this board, is RJH got caught.

How many of y'all have gone to a bar, party, etc and drank 2-3 beers and then got in the ole automobile and drove it?


03/10 Jim,

Touched a nerve there, eh? I am trying to make a point to the folks out there who are job hunting and have not had a DUI, reckless driving, etc. Those events follow people for a long time and they should think twice before putting themselves in those situations. I do a fair chunk of hiring and these things things hurt peoples employment potential in our zone. I am guessing that is true most places. If you have a DUI or reckless driving ticket, I guess you can contact Jim's unit for employment.


03/10 6

So you are going to castigate this person for life for making a mistake! I guess you have NEVER made a mistake and will fall on your sword when you do.

I lost my privilege to drive in CA for 3 1/2 years because of poor judgment and two reckless driving tickets in one year that should have been DUI's, but I went on to have a 35 year stint with the USFS. I do believe I did ok in my chosen profession, even though it shouted bad judgment.

sec and Pure & Simple, Right on!


03/09 Does anyone know where you can get a current sit report in non-acrobat format?

The site I had last year hasn't been updated for awhile, and for some reason I can't seem to download acrobat on this system.


Hey, they went and put the !#*n sit report into pdf! And I noticed the last sit was over a megabyte big. Who wants to sit on their butt and wait for that bloated pig to download? PDF is NOT the answer. Where is the voice of logic in all this? G*! !#*n it, am I going to have to go to Boise to get all this straightened out? Ab. (Just practicin' up on my impersonation of the original Ab!!)

03/09 Article on Blackfeet Firefighters from Firescribe:


03/09 Bear,

It is a time to maintain clear heads regarding the forth coming decision on the audit of the Captain positions. To down grade those positions would be a crime against those employees.

"If" a down grade would occur clear headed decisions need to be made by each individual. A walkout can have very negative results. Approach such an action as you would downhill fire fighting. When you have the weather, fuel, topography against you, and you cannot see the fire, just smoke. You are lining yourself up to get burned big time. Remember when the Air Traffic Controllers walked out. They ended up locked out for years. Two years ago they started taking some of them back.

A friend who was an Air Traffic Controller and volunteer fireman walked-out. The cost was his job, his family, his health, and his sense of direction in life.

Two years ago I met one of the FAA controllers on a fire who was locked out after walking out. He went back to college and became a school teacher. If he stayed he would be retirement age, but he does not have enough time now. When the door re-opened after nearly twenty years he returned because he could make more money in a tower then he could as a teacher. He ended up divorced and a strange man in another state is raising his son.

Many times during a long career in the FS I thought of taking the big walk. I hoped the FAA walkout would be successful, but it died fast. I was offered a job outside for more money but I passed, because as much as I disliked my job on some days, I loved the job.

Clearly being politically active and contacting your representatives and the White House, along with having a good press package is a good approach. At one time I thought the Union was the answer, but changed my mind when I felt the leadership was off-the-wall. Contact your representatives in congress multiple times. Be polite, and non-threatening. If you are going to get anything, honey will get you more then vinegar. Threats close doors, and they may not reopen. Clearly in R5 the ability to compare the pay rates with CDF and some counties make a good argument.

The same pay arguments will not work in Idaho and Minnesota. If the battle is to be won, it will be in R5 with the support of other Regions who will gain in the long run. Study your options, many times I thought of jumping ship. Clearly I would like to have the same retirement as my CDF counterparts.

I wish you the best, because you have earned it.


03/09 sec and Pure & Simple,

Maybe RJH was not looking for a lecture, but when you mess up you have to deal with all of the consequences. Beyond that there are many others who read this page. If this can get their attention, and if it helps them make decisions that avoid this type of error something good will have come out of this situation. During my hiring process, when all you have to go with is an application, that a DUI would go to the bottom of the pile. Good recomendations may change that, but it would be an uphill battle. To me a DUI shouts bad judgement.

deuce and BLM bob, right on

RJH, with the hiring frenzy that is going on this year, a seasonal with good experience and a DUI will have a better opportunity than in years past.


03/09 Hey Ab.,

Was there an expected time frame for the decision on the R-5 engine captain’s audit? I recall hearing rumbles the decision should be made and announced by early this week. What’s the hold up? I’ve seen enough court tv shows and movies to get the impression, the longer it takes the jury to deliver a verdict, the worse the news. Think a decision has been made and they’re just trying to glue the right spin on it?

Should, perish the thought, the Washington Office decide to slap the face of the engine captains in region 5 by degrading them, what do you think should be done?

Here are a couple of suggestions I feel appropriate.

  • Each and every wildland firefighter, and those who support them stage a one hour protest. By this I mean that a time is set and the plug is pulled. Around the world there is suddenly an extreme, noticeable absence of wildland firefighters. Reminiscent of a “blue flue” from past New York City police department activities? Everyone calls in “sick” for one hour, at the same time, on the same day. Ok, not those of you who have lives depending your services, even I’m not that gung ho (which is why we’ll never have the necessary leverage, we’re too dedicated). Let the national media get a hold of this rag doll and chew on it a while. I think I’ll begin making a few calls in ahead of time. Are there any local media journalists in your area who always have an axe to grind against the stonewall of federal bureaucracy? Let me know and I will add them to my list of priority contacts, it’s pretty big already.
  • For those a little nervous about participating in the above protest, how about wearing a small symbol showing your support for those directly affected? Perhaps a small black ribbon signifying mourning, an acknowledgement that if it can be done to others, it can also be done to you. You can even hide it if you need to, or wear it on your little finger, at least you would be participating.

Thanks for letting me vent a bit Mr/Mrs/Ms Abercrombie. Hopefully, no action other than token celebrating need be done once it’s all over (will it really be over, for all time, or could it happen again). After all, it took around 3 years for the current revised standards and position descriptions to pass. Why is there all of a sudden a need for re-invention? Someone complained, filed a grievance? If this audit is negative, just watch the real, organized complaining begin.

Does wildlandfire.com have a position on this or any plans if the worst happens?

Bear (What’s taking so long I wonder as I imagine wizards waving their arms as they attempt turning gold back into lead.)

Bear, wildlandfire.com always supports the best for all wildland firefighters and will take any measures deemed appropriate should they become necessary. Ab.

03/09 Re the failure to have a valid and timely verdict on the R5 Engine Captain GS Rating:

Just a few important things for all R-5 personnel to think about. You are not just USFS/BLM employees. You are also citizens who are represented by congress persons and senators. Your spouses and children, who will suffer as a result of an arbitrary decision, are also constituents of congressionals. These are the same congressional people who would really be concerned about why Steve Nelson (USFS, WO, Director of HRM) made some comments to the effect of a desk audit had about a 90% chance of causing a downgrade in R-5. What really might concern them is that he supposedly made this comment before any desk/field audit had been made.

If you are reading this you have easy and QUICK access to your congressional and senatorial representatives. Contact them as concerned citizens. Ask that decision makers in this be held accountable. Flood their interns with phone calls. Have your spouses and children write or call. Ask that who ever is the root of all this evil be held accountable! It does not help the agency retain employees, and we all know the problems here. There was a bill passed in the House of Reps to increase retirement age to ease the retention problem. This indicates that congress cares about our retention problem. Also, congress is who gave us MEL. This indicates that maybe congressionals care about staffing levels. Why would congress give us money so pencil pushers could arbitrarily question an existing PD signed by a previous Deputy HRM for the purpose of downgrading us? It's really not downgrading, but rather DEGRADING us as valuable employees. Now is the time to contact as many people as you can. Inform friends, family, write letters to editors of local and national newspapers, and most importantly WRITE your congressional reps. and senators!

Patrick Henry

Ab sez, to find your reps: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ Go down to the zip code option. Fill yours in. You'll get your three reps.

03/09 Re: Duece Bigg'alo & RJH

Aw duece, ya had all the answers in your first paragraph, then you had to go and bring all your personal garbage into the picture. Ya should'a quit. The kid had an honest and open question and you had to go and get up on your own bandwagon. Were ya thinking you were in a MADD chat room? Do you think the kid is proud of what happened to him? Was he/she asking for any part of your ethics or morals? I'm sure glad I don't work for you. I'd feel sory for you if I thought you needed it. You arrogant, imposing. . .wait, now I'm making a personal attack and that's now allowed here. Sorry Ab.


Carry on my friend, it ain't the end of the world, although it may be a depressing situation. I recieved a DUI. I was forced to stand aside for a while and watch as those who were once behind me stepped in to take my place. If your normal work-duty responsibilities include driving and the judge won't make an allowance for you to drive at work, you may also lose some ground. If your boss thinks you are worth it, they can try to intercede on your behalf. With the right "push" behind you, you could get clearance for limited work related driving. There is no clear cut answer I an offer as the laws can vary as much as a judge's mood.

There are some regions or areas, as I've already seen stated here, that might pass you over for promotion or perhaps even terminate you. Don't think the rest of the world is ready to permantly condemn you for a one-time mistake.

God bless those who have never been wrong. How wonderful, how marvelous their life must be as they sit on their throne of righteousness and judge the rest of us!

Pure & Simple (NOT)

03/09 TR Idaho,

We are currently preparing our March newsletter that will be distributed to our membership...which include quite a few folks that are qualified for the position you are trying to fill. If you want to contact me directly at linscott@rea-alp.com I will be happy to include a small ad in the newsletter. That goes for any other contractors who may need experienced, trained, wildland firefighters.

The one caveat is that you will likely need to provide them with a red card as MN has fallen into the habit of not releasing firefighters red cards until after our spring fire season is done.

Last year many contractors may recall that we attempted to facilitate employment of our members via an alternative list...which unfortunately did not work. This year we have set up a web site accessible by our members on which we will post any job openings if you wish. In addition to being accessible to any of our members it will also be downloaded, printed, and posted all over the state on a weekly basis. Contractors will then be directly contacted by potential employees.

We would ask only that once a position is filled you notify us ASAP so we can remove it from the list. I hope this helps.

Dana LInscott
Minnesota Wildland Firefighters Association

03/09 I would be more then happy to help Kaitlyn in her interveiw.

As far as TR Idaho. They can post a job opening in there local newspaper or even fliers in public places. True they may get a lot of responses and may get some people they dont want, but it just might snag that one person they are looking for. As far as what they should look for. It all depends on what position they are looking to fill. If they want an engine boss, well, we all know that you cant start a greenback behind a wheel. Just wouldnt be safe. Have them contact there loacl federal or state agency and what there qualifications are and go by them until they feel comfortible adn want to change them a bit, but I dont think they can change it to much. Good luck this year all and stay safe, we're supposed to have a bad one.

You know, I just got done reading Ab speaks and I must say, Kudos to you. You are quite correct with the lack of communication between fire fighters on the internet. I must also thank you, I assume from all of your readers as well, for creating this site and keeping it going. I know how time consuming it must be to reply to everyones postings and keeping the site up. I just wanted to extend my appreciation to you and your team for doing a top notch job on this site. Have fun this summer and stay safe.


03/08 To: "duece" Big or Low
       BLM Bob


Please don't rip RJH a new AH. Look, we will all agree that a DUI is not beneficial, but I'm sure it wasn't intentintial. If it was, RJH, we need to work on that.... But, the fact of the matter is RJH asked for an opinion; she/he doesn't need a damn gospel on all of our opinions on what a terrible, anti-christ DUI person he/she is. It is highly unlikely that RJH killed your friends or family. (However, not recomending that DUI is a good thing or acceptable). We are all sorry (I assume) of the death of a loved one, or friends. However, we have all lost friends due to stupid acts by other people.

RJH, it sucks you have a DUI. It is not beneficial. It will probably hurt you. The question is: "How much"? I have known people that have had worse (i.e. felony related acts) and that still did not limit their position or getting hired.

The thing to remember, is to tell the truth on the forms!


03/08 This is going to be our second season as a private contractor and I'm floundering around trying to learn a new business. My husband and his partner have past experience but worked for contractors some years ago. I need one more employee for our Type 5 engine but don't quite know where to look. I have looked thru the job vacancies on this and another website but noticed that they were all from government agencies. This brings to mind two questions: Where do the contractors post their openings and would most people rather work for an agency. Am I better off to find a young person who doesn't have a regular job yet and put them thru the training courses? Your input is appreciated.

TR Idaho

03/08 Hello!

My name is Kaitlyn and I (along with my partner Carrie) doing a project for my careers class. For our year end project we have to pick a career and get information on it! A piece of information that we must do is an interview! I was wondering if I would be able to send some questions that you might be able to answer. If you could email me permission to do this that would be great!


Any ff out there want to take on this "interview"? If so, e-mail me and I'll put you in touch. On second thought, Kaitlyn and Carrie, send in some questions and we'll try to answer them. Ab.

03/08 Ab & crew, et all..

I'm still reading here ya'll.. don't think that just cause yer pup's busy learning structural stuff thatit means you lost him... not hardly. Best wishes to all as the 2001 fire season begins to shape up, have a safe one.

Mr/Ms/Mrs R. Nichols-

I do believe you would treat "firestorm" as one word. Why? Mostly due to the use of the one word "thunderstorm". This is, however, just the pup's opinion and could easily be thwarted by a person higher skilled in the english laguage (You out there Kelly?). I am writing my own atory (fictional, however.. not clear if yours is factual or otherwise..) about the wildland fire service, although very simple and basic and has a few large holes in places when it comes to proper fireground operations on a wildland fire, but as I learn I am improving. My endeavor is mostly just for a high-school class/personal enjoyment, but you never know, the pup might just be an author someday.. <GRIN>

As Ever,
Tiny, the R-6 Fire Pup/Recruit

03/08 Dear Ab and the wildland fire community at-large,

We have a sad event to report. On Jan.18, 2001, Matt Leanard of Wildfire Support Services (W. Sacramento, CA) passed away of an apparent heart attack. He was 47 years old.

Matt, who was often controversial within the wildland fire service will be remembered as a husband, a fireman, a great fabricator and inventor. His work lead to the development of the co-ductor CAFS unit. His eyebrow raising Type 3 engine with on-board GPS mapping/computer and printer, was probably the most talked about piece of equipment in California. His towering 6'10" frame belied his compassionate "bearish" nature, he was always willing to pitch in a helping hand on equipment repairs for government or contractor associates in the field. His humorous "fire dawg" computer generated radio broadcast programs were widely accepted across the country.

A small service was held and was well attended by his family and friends, as well as past and present CDF & USFS personnel. Matt, often the most outspoken person to represent Contract Engine interests to CDF officials, will be missed by his fellow Ash Eaters, our condolences go out to his family and wife, Janice.

Rock & Cindy Woo

Condolances. Ab.

03/08 Dear Ab,

I came from South Zone Region 5 where most of the equipment are Model 60/61 Type 3's. I moved out to Colorado and Type 6's seem to be the norm. I was talking to a gentleman and he may reference to a Type 7 engine. I haven't got a clue. Are there any "Type 7" photos in the gallery or could you explain it to me. Is it a pickup truck witha bucket of water covered in seran-wrap in the bed ? :)

Thanks, I know I should have expert advice coming my way.


03/08 Hey Ab, thanks for linking my webpage, Its still under construction and I have a lot of pix to add. For those who know me, I am NOT the same Tom who did the book review, just wanted to make that clear.


03/08 re: //bunch of fire rats,

Mes think your post must have come from a group session of problem solving. The typical debris of said session often looks like this: /pics/hand2/partypit.jpg

But, in all honesty my only reply is HERE HERE!!!!!!!!!! WELL SAID!

...and mellie, a share of that applause is for you too!

03/08 Everett,

My best advice for you is to get a list of the Shot Crews and their phone numbers and decide where you want to go. After doing that call the sups. and tell them your interest and so on. Be sure to get the application from Boise. Don't just call once, if they seem receptive(everyone I have talked to was and its been 20 or so crews)keep calling them to tell them your interest. That's how I got my offer (last week); I think they got tired of hearing from me, so, they just hired me. Good Luck!!

One ofther thing....start early. I started making my round of calls in mid-Nov. They won't be hiring but at least they may start to remember your name after a few calls. Everyone I talked to was really great; I only encountered one bad apple last year, which was pretty good compared to the number of sups. I talked to.


03/08 Wow, thanks for all the info on the Tillamook Burn, Firescribe! What a cool website this is! I really like the job page and the job FAQ, too. Seems like I'm using the links page for one thing or another every day. Very helpful. Thanks everyone.


Thanks for the book reviews. Ab.

03/08 To those of you who are getting calls, don't wait!!. If you get that job offer even if its in a bad area get the foot in the door, stick it out and work hard for two or three years, then try to get in where you want. I know guys and girls who got that crucial opening, went ot BFE for a while and either stayed because they liked the area or got in elsewhere. I turned down an FS opening like that many years ago and waited ten years for that permanent opening. Another thing you could do is ask the job offerer can they wait a few days for you to give them an answer (ie, I want to talk to my wife about it.) then contact where you wanted to work to see where you rated. I found that Personnel has more up-to-date info than many of the FMO people. For example, I recieved an offer for a GS-4 FF position at a park, but I wanted the GS-5 that I applied for at that park. The FMO says he chose someone else whom I later found out was less experienced and lower rated for the job. I contacted another agency that I had put in for a GS-5, talked with the station manager briefly about my quals and experience, and 24 hours later I had the GS-5 job. I reached out and made a casual inquiry and got the job I wanted. It wouldn't hurt to call the place you wanted to work at, talk with the selecting official (hopefully its the FMO) be honest and direct him/her that you applied and want to work there, but have been given a solid offer elsewhere. If the official is honest and ethical he/she will probably tell you to either to take that job, tell you when he expects to make a selection, or if your even being considered. Remember, a bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. No one will fault you for being honest and direct trying to reach your goals.

To the guy who's concerned about the felony on the record, if you mentioned it on your application and it was not brought up again either by personnel or a hiring official then stop mentioning it. If you keep it up then they are going to have second thoughts about hiring you. Once its on the application you have disclosed it, end of story. They are responsible for asking you questions about past problems that you have disclosed on the application. If they don't mention it when offering you a job, then if your hired and it comes up later that was there mistake. As long as you disclosed it your OK. There are permanent and seasonal Fed FFs who have past misdemeanor and felony convictions before and during employment who hold positions. They will hold violent and arson crimes against you for sure.

To those of you seasonal firefighters and want-to-be seasonal firefighter in Minnesota, I wish I would have made this suggestion when all the feds were doing the initial hiring, and there is still a lot of hiring about to happen, but here's what you guy all ought to do: DON'T GO BACK TO WORK FOR THOSE GUYS! Make the trip out of state this summer for BLM, NPS, USFS, BIA, or USF&W for a firefighting job. Leave the agency hanging with no available firefighters and get the local volunteers to support you, and perhaps Governor Jesse will see what's going on with the mis-management and manipulation of the MN State Wildland Fire agency and make some critical personnel changes. I don't want to tell you to abandon the agency, but when they intentionally set things up so you can't get scheduled work or red cards to allow for overtime work, thats food being taken from your family's mouth. This problems not getting better, and you guys shouldn't put up with it for another fire season.

As to contractors, I know a lot of them and have worked with contract water tenders, engines, and crews and haven't seen many who were bad. I treat everyone with respect for the job they do regardless of who they work for, as should you all. If there's a bad contractor out there they won't last long with all the competition available. Its unfortunate that the contractors who really need the permanent ax are the ones hired to do staff positions.

Good luck to you all this season!! I hope you'll follow the most important economic safety rule there is: Fight Fire Aggressively but provide for OVERTIME First!


03/08 Ab:

The REDHAWKS have a new web site. Would you please link it to our logo on logo page one. http://home.earthlink.net/~alclarkson

Thank you
Al (Redhawk rep)

03/08 Hey Ab-

The ex prison Flame-N-Go hotshot crew is being renamed to the Lone Peak Hotshot crew- just thought I'd let everyone know

How many prison crews are out there? does anyone know?

Salt Lake-

03/08 for RP, two suggestions:

One, old ancient proverb says he who look for runaround often get just that.

Two, if you want help and have a positive outlook, you might try the FEPP pages and the VFA pages. www.fs.fed.us/fire/planning/fepp and www.fs.fed.us/fire/planning/vfa


03/07 Greetings:
I am writing a story about wildfire. Can anyone tell me if the term "fire storm" is spelled as one word or two ("firestorm" or "fire storm")?
-R. Nichols
03/07 RP,
Thats unfortunate about the govt surplus eqpt. Your state should be helping you get this stuff. However understand that it used to be a tremendous hassle getting anything good, and once you get it there is a workload on the agency to process everything and jump through the hoops every year as it is on their inventory as long as you have it so thats why your state may be hesitant.

Some of this has changed and there is a fair amount of good stuff availaible. WI just got back into the fed excess buisness and it is going fairly good. MN has been into it for quite a bit longer with good success. I dont know about any other states. This is how we do it. The state has dedicated one person as the coordinator for this. If a dept is in need of a vehicle (as of now all we are looking at is 6x6's (duce & 1/2) and 4x4 vehicles) they submit a form. We then we have people who are supposed to regularly check each depot (there are two here) and if something comes in that is satisfactory they notify the dept to see if they want it. If they do there is some costs (depends on what needs to be done (if anything to the vehicle to get it road worthy). If everything looks good, its theirs to use as long as they want it.

Another option is to buy stuff on your own. Several departments have done this as well, one even got a 6x6 that had never been used! It sat in mothballs for years. They put a new battery & fresh fuel and drove it home for $3000. It may cost you a bit more this way, but it is yours at that point. Going through it the other way it is still legally the feds property and when you are done with it, it either has to go back to the feds or go through the process of getting off the list.

There are probably people in your area that buy from the feds regularly. They would be a good source of info on the system and maybe even keep an eye out for stuff for you. A clue for these types would just be to keep an eye open for someone who has a vehicle that is obviously federal excess and ask them how they got it. We have a guy here who is always buying ex military stuff and restoring it (the older things), using it for his buisness or reselling it.

Here are a couple of links to help you get started. DRMS (Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service) page. www.drms.dla.mil/
Your state may have a coordinating agency or web site for fed excess stuff, but I could not find one in a quick search. Here is WI's page just for your info. You might find some help there too:

Good luck


There is a link to an FEPP fed excess personal property on the acronyms page, too. Ab.

03/07 Hi All,

Nice rebuttal Fireronin... I always enjoy hearing from someone who writes as clearly as you do. <grin>

Some thoughts on the engine captain classification issue...
I've heard that the desk/field audit last week went well and that the classification team from the WO was very good. Too bad they weren't empowered to make a decision on the spot. I heard that the captains represented themselves well (even if it did rain) and that the R5 regional management was superlative in their support. All indicators of the audit point to letting the R5 Engine Captains remain at GS-8 (mostly because of the technical expertise required in the job, not so much because of dispersal issue).

Presumably, the classification team was back in Washington by Monday morning, with their recommendation to Nelson soon after. Now it's Wednesday night and nothing came today... The deadline for firefighters to apply for Engine Captain positions for Round 2 is March 14, less than a week away. Doesn't leave much time! The Washington HR Mgmt head, Mr. Nelson, needs to just give us the verdict. And soon so we can all get on with training and getting ready for the upcoming fire season.


03/07 ZKP,

Our Region 5 crew contracts requires either an EMT or at least a "First Responder" per crew. So to answer your question, yes there is a benefit to being an EMT. Your services could earn you a higher wage in the private sector. I can't speak for the government agencies, but I have not seen a Hot Shot crew that did not have at least one EMT. It might be the deciding factor in being selected for a Hot Shot position. It is a valuable asset in the fire community, but hopefully one that will never be needed. (FAT CHANCE!)

Anyways, thanks in advance,

03/07 Utah needs you engine captains:


Also, for Cheryl who wanted info on Oregon's Tillamook Burn:


03/07 RJH

Can it affect your job? Damn straight it can, especially if your a driver. No if, ands or buts if you loose your license and through the court system and you have the responsibility as a driver on your engine yes you can be sent packing. To hold a government drivers license you must have a current and valid state license. I don't know if this is your first DUI but stipulations can be put in the DL suspension so you can perform you work duties but that is up to the judge.

What can you do to remedy the situation, hmmmm not a whole heck of alot ride the judicial wave and lets see what else oh ya "STOP DRINKING AND DRIVING". And a firefighter to boot. You should be ashamed. You know what the consequences of your actions can cause. DUI sure beats manslaughter or the morgue. I take that back maybe you need to go to the morgue and see that baby still in diapers, or the teen that was on thier way home from school, or the wife that needed to make a quick run to the store, ALL killed by someone who "messed up", and decided to drink and drive. I doubt this is your first time, this may be the first time you got caught tho. Learn from it and drink responsibly. If you got a problem seek help. This one is going to cost you a couple 1000 dollars RJH. Your lucky if thats all it's going to cost.

Sorry for being long in tooth Abe I've lost friends, family, and responded to way tomany of these accidents caused by those that have "messed up". Take care and drink responsibly people.

sign me,
"deuce" Big or Low

03/07 response to Ethan Estey (10/24/00)

Ethan Estey,
Are you still out there?!
Hey I was on Dalton in 1990, (C.G., AKA Smiley!). Have you found anyone else??? I miss those good old days!! If you get this email me at murfdawg87@hotmail.com

03/07 To RJH,

BLM does not have a policy on DUI convictions as they relate to employment except for two things; you'll get canned if you try to lie about it or "forget" to mention it on an application, and you're in trouble if your license was suspended and your position PD requires a valid driver's license.

So, tell the truth if asked, don't try to cover it up. And if you lost your license, look for a job that doesn't require one.

One other thing, seasonals (temps) don't have a lot of employment rights, and if the person hiring isn't crazy about you anyway, they could look at the DUI as a black mark and skip over you pretty easily if you're not a vet. There are BLM offices in a lot of places (like Utah) that have a pretty conservative community, and a DUI may be a deal-killer for them. Sorry, but that's the way the world works, though there's nothing in the BLM policy that requires a hiring official to pass you over because of a DUI except for what I mentioned above.

Let me leave you with two words of advice - designated driver


03/07 Ab, here's my two cents worth regarding Charles Sasser's book Smokejumpers: Americas's Elite Airborne Firefighters.

I'm embarrassed to admit I actually read this book. Absolute trash! Being the first book to be published about South Canyon, it was hurriedly written, and without a lot of thought to the true facts. It is a classic example of someone trying to cash in on someone else's tragedy. This is bad fiction at best. I was totally disgusted with it and I recommend you remove it from this page.

Readers, this is one review possibility that I didn't anticipate. Has anyone else got anything to say, pro or con about this book? Please don't go out and buy it, but perhaps any of you who are willing could check it out of the library and evaluate it with Tom's criticism in mind. AZ Trailblazer, you gave it a favorable review. Would you review again in light of Tom's negative review? Should we take it down? Ab.

03/07 Hey Ab, finally started a personal homepage, got a few fire pix loaded with more to come. Could you add it to the links page? Thanks and keep up the good work.


Tom, nice page. More than a few regular posters have asked lately about the possibility of getting their url added to our links page. We're keeping a folder of personal and resource pages. We'll make a links page for those kinds of reader-related, non-comercial pages when we get a chance. Ab.

03/07 Previously Rocky Mountain Reject -

Don't start celebrating yet. They are trying to determine if you have a job yet and if you're willing to move to their area. We recently did the same thing on our district. Out of the 15 - 20 people we contacted to "determine their interest," we hired 3. Be sure to call them back and don't be afraid to leave a message. Show a real interest and enthusiasm in their jobs. It will help. Hope this helps.

Good luck.

03/07 RE: Hickman's post on fatalities.

It's true you can find Mangan's report on fatalities through the FEMA website, but it's available there only in PDF. If you want it in html it's here: www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/fatalities/


03/07 Can anyone tell me two things. One, can anyone tell me any information about the 2001 contract for private contractors. Any information would be usefull. The second is, could anyone direct me to information about predictions of the upcoming season. Information like precip, temp and departure from normal %'s would greatly be appriciated. Thank you Phoenix
03/07 Mellie...

I don’t totally agree with you that the best and brightest are hired first by the system currently in place. When you aren’t doing everything in your power to attract as many applicants as you possibly can to the "pool" from which you are choosing, the best you can hope for is the best and brightest in the small pool that has been created.

I would propose that lots’ more people "fell through cracks" than you imagine. I am not just talking about "contractor" ADs...but rather all the experienced fire folk that either are not Internet savvy and/or live in an area which is not filling many positions and whose personnel are unwilling to provide adequate information (hand holding?) to allow those who might be interested in a position to apply for one. The fact that the process is unnecessarily complicated and confusing is, I would wager, why there was such a dismal response. By its’ very nature "round one" appears geared to reemploy those already employed by the Federal agencies rather than bring outsiders into the "fold". I think there was/is/always will be, some degree of "lets’ take care of our own first" in the hiring policy of every bureaucracy...and the FS/BIA/BLM is not immune from this. I think the key phrase is those folks who were hired are those who "are known". I did not mean to imply that this policy screws ADs’...but rather that it screws the taxpayers. Of course I am also open to the concept that the majority of any snafus in the hiring process are mostly due to bureaucratic bumbling...there will always be some degree of that in any large organization .

I do think that all experienced fire folk should be solicited...ADs’ included. Not because they have been treated unfairly in the past...(Where did that come from Melie?)...but rather because our nation needs to quickly address the current critical unavailability of experienced fire fighters on the fireline. Although I don't think that "Contractor" ADs will be willing to "go back" to working directly for the Govt. as it does not appear to be able/willing to compete with contractors pay and benefit wise even they should be solicited. Yes (Hard) Mellie because we NEED them. I believe that this is what the Legislature mandated...ASAP...and what the federal agencies so mandated should be going all out to do if they expect the legislature to continue to pony up 100% MEL in the future. Private industry, when charged with the task of filling a huge number of vacancies, would first solicit responses from every firefighter that had ever worked on a fireline to determine the maximum number of possible resources...and not just once. After several attempts to solicit any response those that simply did not care enough to respond to a central 800# would go on the "B" list but would still not be written of as possible resources. Those that did respond by calling a simple to reach central clearing house would be sent an easy to understand and complete questionnaire along with the preliminary application preaddressed and stamped for ease of return to the clearing house. This would generate the largest possible pool of resources from which to pick those that would be contacted personally by separate task groups to verify information and walk the prospective employee through any further application requirements. Meanwhile other task groups would be busy determining the pay and benefit rates that would be required to attract and keep any employees hired by the process...on a basis that truly competes with private industry. Other task groups would simultaneously be attempting to determine what if any internal changes need to be made to encourage a high retention rate while other groups would address training needs...etc. Private industry would even encourage the "whiners" to expound on whatever subject they have to whine about...as there may be gold in the dross.

Yes Mellie...there should be LOTS of "hand holding"...as the "elitist" attitude too often displayed by those in fire that are perhaps rightly very proud of what they do hinders the process of responding adequately to the "critical shortage" and fulfilling the mandate of the taxpayers/voters via their representatives in the legislature.

But you missed my points...which are:

1) That I do not think that private fire suppression contractors will be hurting due to the current effort by their Federal counterparts. Opportunity indeed abounds since many states who were depending on Seasonals and their equivalent of ADs’ (MN calls them "emergency hires") are watching their "hardcore best and brightest" go bye-bye for the opportunity being presented by this Federal effort. To the contrary...I think that these states caught shorthanded will now be bidding against the Federal agencies for their services. and

2) That those Agencies are not doing their best to ameliorate the critical shortage of firefighters available to them for suppressing fires by attempting to attract as many of the remaining experienced fire folk as they possibly can to their ranks.

Is it possible that those directly involved in the process are too close to have a good perspective on the true problem...and therefore cannot see the solutions? I will be more than happy to eat my words if there is not a chronic "critical shortage" of experienced wildland firefighters in the upcomming years.


PS. I am certainly NOT whining about not getting a position. I did not apply, cannot afford one, and am too old anyway.

03/06 RJH,

I think a DUI will affect your consideration for seasonal rehire if you drive engines. Obviously because of the driving aspect. As far as it affecting any other part of your job, I don't think it could. I don't think your personal life off season can affect a seasonal position. If you are an engine boss, go to your boss in private and tell him/her what happened and maybe you guys can work something out. It all depends on how the court is taking action against you. No worries and stay safe this summer.


03/06 Hey -- just found out..(maybe everyone knows)..

I thought I had to get my round 2 ap. in a few weeks ago.......turns out, through the ASAP program, it's not due till the 15th (ish postmark, etc.)...get them in!


Close, it must be postmarked March 14. Check out mellie's FAQs about FS Hiring and the MELmadness Schedule she has there. It tells you all the deadlines. Ab.

03/06 I'm going on My Ninth season as A contract firefighter. I've witnessed alot of changes since i first Started, On My first fire season I had No fire training. (the season before I started I called A contracter and told them that I was Interested in fighting fires) One night they called and Asked if i still wanted to fight fires. Next thing I know is I'm in A crummy.Not knowing what to expect. The Next season training became mandatory. I never thought We would Go out of state . But in the last two Years I've spent most of My time in other states. And at one time their where some bad crew's. That were more in to making money then to get the fires out. But a Few years Ago the forest service made a smart move and pulled thier contracts. Us that are left still have a ways to go,in proving that the troble crew's are gone and they (the forest sevice) that we can And will do what their crew's do. I just wonder About this season with all the New goverment Crew's, How much are we going to be used.


03/06 Jobs page is updated as are the Series 462 and 455. For those of you who are still job hunting, there are 30 more 462 jobs listed today than there were on Friday when I updated last. Get in there. Find your ideal job(s) and apply or check your submitted applications for currency.

Good luck!
(And thanks you lurkers for the major east coast vote of confidence! Sending your messages in to theysaid via a circuitous route works for us. <BIG GRIN>. Not the original Ab, of course.)

03/06 Hello there,

My name is Everett and I am a 30 year old Montana Indian Firefighter from the Northern Cheyenne Agency in Lame Deer, MT. I've been kicking ash since 1988. I need some help. I am looking to pursue a dream. I've been wanting to work with a Type I crew for as long as I can remember. I've worked side-by-side with 'Shot crews countless times and I know that I cannot only hang with one, but excel with one as well. I just want the chance. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.


Everett, go to our FAQ page look for the question and answers about fire jobs; check the links and info on applying for fire jobs. Then go to Mellie's FAQs about FS Hiring.



>//bunch of firerats//

You're welcome. The Abs.

03/06 ab or anybody else::

im currently in an EMT class, and besides the obvious benefits of being a medical type guy on fires....are there any other benefits to this?? Im thinking they might like to have an EMT per crew or somthing the like?? Any managers have an answer?


03/06 Phoenix-
I served on a contract engine crew this summer-as a last resort. It seemed promising, started early and started hot. I didn't really notice any "BS" about respect until I got sent out with some bad individuals. The engine forman didn't know how to run a pump- and the other guy was so green I thought he was a ?leprechaun? He had no training just his red card- he even had steel toe boots. That go round in Colorado was hell- we went as a strike team of engines 2 lights and one heavy meeting 2 more heavies there. The engines were shit 1979 ford-1982 chevy and a 1985 international. no equipment- no tools. We did inspection and were missing over half of what was on our contract list. We were treated like shit, and we deserved it. The guys I was with got in trouble for language and sexual harassment. We were told we were an embarrassment to the word "firefighter" and I couldn't agree more. Needless to say i found a fed handcrew in mid season and jumped ship-i will never work for a contract crew again. they didn't get any respect because they didn't earn it. I am proud to work for the BLM I don't care what you say. If I happen to work with a contract crew I will be biased because of my past experience- until they can show me that they deserve to be out there I don't think they should be out there.

BC Davis-
i also worked with some guys from back east this past season- and they were a really good crew- don't take anything from some jackass shots- work hard and prove that you know what you are doing-


03/05 Ref. Dirty 8baller's request...

United States Fire Administration has a report that can be found through it's web site......

Wildland Fire Fatalities in the United States 1990-1998 This report, authored by Dick Mangan of the U.S. Forest Service's Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC), summarizes the causes of death for 133 persons who died while involved in fighting wildland fires in the United States from 1990 to 1998 ... That would leave about a three year span from 87 to 90 that he might be able to come up with...


Then type in 'Wildland firefighters deaths'


03/05 Hello from the great white north, I was wondering if anyone has any ideas out there on who to contact on getting state or fed. excess equipment for vol. fire depts. that have large areas of urban interface. It seems that here in PA all we get is a big run around from local districts on excess and its bullsh*t when they want us to extinguish forest fires in the district and surrounding districts. If anyone has any ideas or contacts that I could use, please e-mail me at RPWILDFIREPA6@aol.com. Thanks alot for your help.


I changed your mesage from all caps, so readers wouldn't feel yelled at. Ab.

03/05 Dear Ab,

Yesterday while I was gone at my present job, I recieved a phone call from someone here in Region 2 (sounds like Araphaho/Roosevelt N.F.) they left a message on the machine that went something like : This is so & so of the US Forest Service and am calling to check on your interest and continued availability for several positions, one is on the new shot crew, one is on a hand crew and one is on an engine crew, please call me back I would like to talk with you. I called back but, landed in a voicemail. Does this constitute an offer or are they thinning out rosters or what. I hate to go celebrate and jinks myself ya know. Any thoughts

PREVIOUSLY Rocky Mountain Reject
Thanks for your support telling me to hang in there..     :)

fingers crossed for you... Ab.

03/05 hey phoenix,

when i was with a type 2 crew from the east, our crew ran into the same attitude as you. because we were from the east we were treated like unwanted step children. not every time, not every fire but among some folks who thought we couldnt handle it in the mountains in the west. remember, respect is something that is earned. if you conduct yourself in a professional manner, you are a safe and efficient firefighter then the respect will come.when i was in montana last summer, a certain shot crew didnt even give us the time of day. their attitude was they they can handle their own fires ! even though it was over 20,000 acres. dont let it get to you too much. you are right in that we are to do the same job as everyone else. to put out the damn fire. sounds like a simple concept doesnt it? i have worked with contract crews, some were great some not. we cant put labels on a crew or group without having a good working experience with them. believe me, its no different with the structural side either. well enough for now. fire season is around the corner and my wife is counting the overtime already ! keep safe and enjoy !!!!

BC Davis

03/05 Phoenix,

You asked to send replies to your personal address; but sending this thru Ab because it needs to be heard by more than just you.

I speak only for myself and nobody else, nor do I represent any agency or contractor. Retired and glad to be out!

I was on the "Teams" in the 90's (when contractors were really coming on the scene) and we had some problems with contract engines and crews. Our problems mainly temmed from non-compliance with the contract they signed in preseason. Usually dealt with lack of required equipment, lack of individual ID's or trying to send more than 20 persons on a crew. Most of the crews I had on my divisions in '94 were contract crews and Hotshots. Very few Govt Regulars were around back then. I only remember one contract crew we had a problem with failure to perform and that was the crew boss and not the crew. Our overhead team had a reputation for being tough but fair on contractors. As long as they met the provisions of the contract they were treated no differently than any other crew by the Operations folks.

There was one exception to this. On a really tough fire in a northern California fire with a large portion in a rugged wilderness area, we did use one contract crew as we would have used a Hotshot crew. Those were the creme of the crop and easily rose to the top of the heap in our books.

Not all the Feds are anti-contractor but there are still alot of them out there. If you are reading this and are one of those that Phoenix is talking about, get your head out of the sand and do your job just as we did. If a crew or engine is unacceptable, document it and send them home. There are a few bad apples out there and it is your job to weed them out. Make them stick to the agreements and hold their feet ot the fire. If you continue to let them slid and figure the next team will deal with them, guess who the next team may be. You again! The contractors that are doing their job, let them do it just as if they were one of the old FSR crews. For those of you giving them a bad time just because they are contractors, GET OVER IT!!!!! They are here to stay and you better start learning how to make the system work for you rather than the other way around. You will get a real sharp contractor that that has political ties that is tired of playing your little game and you will be hung out to dry and deservidly so! One of the less than honest ones tried it on us and we had the documentation to back us up and he never showed up again.


03/5 RJH,

I asked a similar question here a couple of months ago. My 9-1/2 year old conviction, which I was open about on the application, hasn't seemed to have been an issue so far. My app made it through Boise and into the system without a hitch. I have gotten several calls asking about availability and interest, and none of them have even mentioned it. Time will tell whether I actually get a job offer though. However I am only speaking for myself. A recent conviction might be an issue that a conviction a long time ago wouldn't be, I mean, heck, our current president has a DWI conviction on his record. A recent DWI could also be an issue if you require a CDL. Just be sure you be honest about it on the app where they ask.

- AZ Desert Rat

03/05 Hi sec.

Sorry to hear about the bad deal from your outfit. I've been in a couple of similar stiuations myself when I was younger. Nothing against the great state of minnesota, but it's not exactly ground zero when it comes to wild land fire activity.

If somebody wants to to make wildfire a career, best bet would be to head west and get on a shot crew or a busy engine. That's where a person gets really tested. You learn a lot about fire simply because you are around it a lot.

Just my thoughts.

03/05 A new week... a few notes from Ab...

First, if you're involved in applying for a FS job, read Mellie's FAQ about FS hiring (link at the top of the page). Thanks Mellie and her helpers from Oz. BTW, she says, "Toto is fine but we're a long way from Kansas!"

Second, over the weekend we had a chance to catch up with the fire books and the review pages. We added a bunch of new fire lookout books, a few new juvenile fiction, a book or two about the Tillamook burn of 1933, and one about the huge stand-replacement fire in China and Russia in 1987. Check them out. To those of you who sent in reviews, they're terrific and they're up. Thanks much.

Readers, please brouse through the list and see if you've read or used any of these books for reference. Our goal is to have firefighter reviews of each one.

If you need or want any of these books, remember, if you link to Amazon from our book site, we make a small "commission" on the sale that can go to pay the website bills. We appreciate your support.

03/05 Lo Ab, was going to the meeting in Reno this week. Then we had an earthquake. Thought id go to the airport anyways to see if i could make it out, no luck. So im stuck.

Anyone know if there is any truth to the pack test being suspended?

Cant wait for this season to burn, been cleaning up the trucks and waiting for the call.

We have a few openings in Winnemucca for ENGB x4 and FFTx6. EMT or Paramedic license is a plus. Email me at MDMF007@msn.com and i'll send an app.

mellie hope you guys are doing good down there.

later guys
eric pw

03/05 Here's a sample of one of several reviews that came in from Cheryl. She also asks a question of the readers which is why I'm including it here.Ab.

Epitaph for the Giants, The Story of the Tillamook Burn by J. Larry Kemp is the fascinating story of a fire (complex) that burned 411,000 coastal Oregon acres in a couple of weeks in August 1933 About 250,000 acres burned in one day when the fire blew up and rained ash and tree parts down on ships 500 miles out at sea! Kemp intersperses daily fire reports with current newspaper headlines to provide the historical context.

This book (and the next one) hold a personal fascination because I live nearby and have fought fire. It embarrasses me to admit that I have never gone to look at fire effects on this forest. I need to go soon, and take my 92-year-old-great-uncle who was a FS ranger and was probably a Fire Warden on that fire. Anyone know of any NF displays or information of the Tillamook Burn?


03/05 Phoenix,

You are correct in the way some people treat contract crews, but the biases you have encountered may not be deserved today. I remember not to many years ago when contract crew members were those types that could not get employment any other place. A real rough bunch, their performance on the line left much to be desired and in camp it was not much different. I still can remember not to many years ago, crews showing up for work in tennis shoes or rubber boots, no training, no safety equipment and in various states of "mental alertness." As late as the early 60's the government was still "shaking out Skid Road for help." I remember a fire in the mid-80's where the call went out to the state employment centers (instead of Skid Road) for help, we got two crews with minimal training, brand new boots thrown on a fire that only "seasoned" firefighters should have been assigned. With all the drop outs and injuries they were more trouble then they were worth.

The National Crew Contract took care of a lot of the problems encountered with the early contract crews and I have seen a tremendous change in the quality of the contract crews. But, some still remember the old adage "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me." Keep on supplying quality personnel that produce a quality product and the biases will slowly fade. I can speak from experience on that one, as a State firefighter I encountered the same kind of biases from Federal folks when I first started. A lot of that had to do because we did not wear the same color clothes as they did, I ran top notch crews, did quality work but was not treated with the same respect as those dressed in yellow and green. It took a lot of years to overcome the biases, and in time we were requested over some of the other type 2 Federal crews in the State.


03/05 Hello to all you fellow firefighters out there. I am writing for a friend and co-worker Ken Brinkley. He and his wife Kathy lost a son on the Storm King fire in 1994. They have started a scholarship fund in Levi's memory and are afraid the funds may dry up. As of this year seven, $750.00 scholarships have been given away. I am asking that anyone who may be interested in contributing to keep this scholarship alive please send monies to the
Levi Brinkley Memorial Scholarship Fund
the Harney County Credit Union
743 Hines Blvd.
Burns, Oregon 97720
If there are any questions you can call Ken or Kathy Brinkley @ (541) 573-6542.
03/04 Hi,
I am seasonal firefighter with the BLM. I really messed up and got a DUI. I was wondering if this would effect my position working this upcoming summer. If it does, is there anything I can do to remedy the situation?

Thank you,

03/04 Wildfire News and Notes: The Congressional Fire Services Institute Announces Internship Opportunity



03/03 Interior Secretary to Tour National Interagency Fire Center
Provider: US Newswire
WRITTEN BY : US Newswire, DATE POSTED: 3/1/01
Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton will travel to Boise, Idaho, March 2, to tour the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). The tour of the fire center is her first trip outside of Washington, D.C. since being sworn in as Secretary Feb. 1.

"I am looking forward to this trip to learn first hand the state of our readiness for the upcoming fire season," said Interior Secretary Gale Norton. "Our focus is to ensure that we are prepared to meet the challenges of protecting communities and landscapes from the wrath of wildland fires."

The center is comprised of seven federal agencies and is the nation's coordination and support center for wildland fires.

03/03 Hey Lads.

I will be instructing a number of refresher courses for the office folk the next couple of weeks, one of the modules I'm putting on is Standards for Survival. My Question is, I am looking for the number of wild land fire fatalities since 1926. I know the book says over 250, but the book was also written in 1987 so I know unfortunately its over 300 by now I can't find an exact number. I dig your site, and get a lot of good information from it I hope you keep it up. Look forward to slaming line with you all this summer.

Dirty 8baller

Welcome... I'll bet someone out there knows that one. Ab.

03/03 Here's a page of Frequently Asked Questions (www.wildlandfire.com/jobs/jobs-faq.php) compiled by Mellie with the help of many others about the FS fire jobs application process. I'll put a link to it at the top of this page and the top of the jobs page. Thanks Mellie and all you helpers.

Oz, er Ab.

03/03 From experience, I don't feel sorry for states like MN if they can't find seasonal FFs. I live in MN in the off-season (still haven't figured out why yet); and they treat their seasonal FFs like sh*t. All kinds of good things happen, such as, the state withholding red-cards so people can't leave on on their own, not announcing classes, except to full-time - year round-permanent - non-fire personel, half of which don't want anything to do with fire.

Also from experience, most of the seasonal FF's aren't even full-time seasonal. You sit by the telephone, watching the weather channel to see if you *may* go to work in the next few days. Meanwhile, it's starts raining, or flooding, your preparedness level drops to I or II, while the rest of the northern hamisphere is on fire and MIFC won't release you, nor can you get your red card to leave on your own. I know why -- we're waiting for the blowdown in the boundary waters to start on fire. Then, then your red-cards will appear.

Oh, I almost forgot -- then they run out of skilled managers in a position (lets say ATBM or whatever), and you get the great opportunity to get thrown in that position (even though you're no where near qualified according to the books). But there's no way you could work on your task book while you're there, even thoguh you're not supposed to be doing that job anyway.

This is from my personal experience. But now that I got that ranting off my chest, it is a good place to get some basic experience before you jump to the FS, or to another state. Just remembering you need to have 6 jobs on the side to buy food.


P.S. (I'm laughing about these experiences now, but it wasn't so funny at the time!)

03/03 Ab,

Things are picking up here in Oregon. The "Powers That Be" are now using the "D" word (drought) on a regular basis in Oregon. Snow levels are 50% below normal and very unlikley to come up much. Temps in SW oregon have been running in the low 60's this last week. Also an 11 acre fire near Trail, Oregon last week. Fuels were dry enough to burn, yet ground was so wet a 1,000 gallon VFD engine sunk driving across a field. All indicators are that this will be as bad as '94 on the West Coast. Those of us that were around then remember that one well and hope it does not happen.


03/02 A set of Frequently Asked Questions about applying for jobs will be up in the morning. For those of you gearing up to apply for a second round or trying to finish a first round, stay tuned.

Just updated the Series 462 and 455 jobs. Yeow! Some 170+ on the 462 series alone and the 455 series is larger than 3 days ago also... Another round beginning! I'll update the jobs page itself tomorrow.


         I totally agree ronin. I couldnt agree more. I left a state agency due to low pay. I am sorry, but after 4 yrs and 3 promotions, 8.50 an hour isnt that much. So I went to a private contractor. Now it seems like they are trying to cut that off as well. Which makes no sense to me. The private contractor serves a very important roll in suppression of wildfires and despite a lot of peoples thinking, there are a lot of contractors who have very trained and professional crews.
         Which brings up another issue. I was mortified this last summer in the way contract crews were treated on and off the fire line. They are treated totally differant then any other crews. I think it is bunk the way that other crews and even some over head treat them. In some cases they arent even treated like firefighters.
         Now this hit me on a personal level, because I have fought structure fires as well as wildland and someone looking at me and smuging there face at me because I am not Federal nor state, MAKES ME SICK. I know other have seen this and it makes them ill as well.
         This is my personal opinion, but I think the federal government and states need to WAKE UP. Private cintractors are an asset they all should use and recognize. Treat them with respect for they are pounding the same dirt your Hot Shots or Jumpers are. We all wear Nomex and we all breathe the same smoke. So I ask anyone who has looked down upon any contract crew, "What makes us differant from you?" I hope to hear some responses. You can email me at mtfirefighter@earthlink.net Thank you.


03/01 From Firescribe:

Here are all 5 parts of the SeattleTimes.com story of CDF firefighters on the Concow Fire (CA).
In wildfire's way 1: Sizzling heat and dry land were a recipe for disaster

In wildfire's way 2: Suddenly, three are inside an inferno

In wildfire's way 3: Keepers or losers?

In wildfire's way 4: 'We've got to get out of here now'

In wildfire's way 5: Only one way out of the flames, and then...

The Erickson Aircrane guys are home again.
Hostages Released in Equador

The Bush Administration plans to cut fire funds in 2002 to pay for tax rebates.
Northwest could loose fire funding

03/01 Hello there,

I was just looking over your awesome site but found one little flaw, it doesn't have my crew's symbol up there! So I thought I'd send you it as an attachment. I am surprised, Baker is one of the best ya know:) Anyway, good job on a great web page, stay safe, and have a good summer.


Welcome and thanks for your logo. It's not quite summer, although the western fires of spring started April 1 of last year. I put it and another logo from the Chief Mountain Shots up on the Logo3 Page. Ab.

03/01 Fireronin -- a long answer to your questions/comments about ADs and contractors,

It may be that state agencies will have fewer people to call on for a while. The firefighter pool is shrinking because many temp, seasonal and AD ff who have worked at the state level are getting permanent fire jobs. States like MN may have to solicit back AD ff they have lost. However, states like CA will undoubtedly hire away experienced and new ff that have been trained up in fed fire academy programs and OJT. In R5, 30-40% of those trained will probably jump to state, county, and city fire departments, where pay and benefits are better. Until fed firefighters get their own job series and comparable pay for comparable work, attrition will continue to plague federal wildland fire agencies. Do we really loose bigtime on that arrangement? Individual fed trainers/mentors and those paying the bills may resent it, I probably would. But from a more global perspective, I don't think we really loose. Think of it this way. People highly trained in fire retain their training even if they jump to another agency. When training is stellar and people gain experience, our fire community and the country end up with an excellent overall fire force -- regardless of where individuals work and whether they're contract or agancy-based.

You ask if regional managers still feel it will take several seasons before they can fully staff the new positions at MEL?

Yup, the stepwise plan is in place for reaching the Most Efficient Level (MEL) organization by 2003, at least in R5 where I've had a chance to observe its planning and beginning implementation. The ultimate goal mandated by Congress is to have a fire force that can achieve the National Fire Plan (NFP). Achieving the MEL organization takes 3 years because we need to

  1. increase the firefighting workforce and build their skills (including Program Leadership and Qualified Module Leaders),
  2. provide them with eqiupment (such as engines, hoses, radios, gear), and
  3. provide support facilities. (Equipment and facilities are capital outlays not included in the MEL budget.)
In addition to a slug of MEL positions that are being filled this year, there are also 500 Program Leadership Attrition (PLA) positions that will be filled each year for the next 3 years (nation-wide). These positions were funded as a response to the projected retirement and past downsizing of the FS fire force.

OK, Round 1 of the FS hiring advertised 1640 jobs (nationwide, MEL and PLA) and had 5000 applicants. If all were qualified, there were about 3 applicants for each job (and that's just for hires in the the top box on the MELmadness schedule). From what I hear, a lot of good people got hired. We know there were glitches. This is a hurry-up situation. Fire waits for no slow hiring process... Hiring virga is not allowed!

For you people who fell through the cracks because of a database failure or because you couldn't get Scannable Form C online from Avue, don't give up. Your odds for being hired get better in Round 2!
        If you applied for Round 1, you may be in the job hopper already. Check with ASAP [(877) 813-3476] to see if your application is complete, correct, that you have the geographical codes you want, and that you put down your correct phone number. Call the forest(s) you're interestd in and check that you are on the cert and whether you're in the "quality" list or on the "eligible" list. If you feel you're quality, call ASAP and change the codes on Form C.
        If you need to apply, call ASAP for a *hardcopy* application, get it in, and rate yourselves as high as you can on the KSAs of Form C. Let me reiterate, if you're "quality", your application should reflect that!

You say: "It would appear to me that the current "snafu" ...works perfectly to 'lateral' existing non-ADs into the best positions rather than opening positions up to everyone in a genuine effort to beef up our national fire suppression forces as the 100%MEL was intended to do."

Fireronin, a few clarifications on this one. With respect to your implications regarding contractor ADs not having opportunity, it's clear you haven't looked at the FS Firehire website (and I use that as one example of Fed Firehire only because I know it the best right now). Go there. Take a look. There's something for everyone: D001 for new people who want a permanent fire position or for those AD who want a permanent position, M002 for those in the system already who want a permanent or higher position, and T003 for those new and returning who want a temporary fire season position or simply need to break into the system. You can look within suppression (Series 462), regardless of whether you're new or experienced, contract or agency. You can also look by geographical location or by job position within each region. Pretty slick, very informative. Opportunities for all... Schedule C lets you provide your KSAs.

In any hiring system, who who gets hired first for the best jobs requiring the most experience? Why, the best and most experienced firefighters -- in this case from FS, BLM, NPS, and some state because more people are applying from those agencies. Lateral hires? Some, maybe. But it's no surprise that the people first hired are those who are the best and most experienced and who are known. Move those people on up and the other less known and possibly inexperienced can fill in positions they vacate. Hopefully the "whiners" and poor employees are being left behind regardless of whether they're agency or contractor.

Are experienced people who have been seasonal or temporary or AD from state and county and city positions being hired in permanent positions? You bet they are, if they're very good and 35 years young or younger. I know for sure this is happening on SoCal forsets. I haven't inquired in NorCal.

So, you think ADs should be given preferences in this hiring process or have their hand held? You think they should be solicited? I don't know why anyone would want to do that. Because they've been treated unfairly? A lot of fire folk have been treated unfairly. Because we really need them? We do, but not if they're expecting special treatment because they've been "wronged". Get past it!!!! It's time to step up to opportunity or kiss it off and move on in another career! It would be nice to have you experienced AD guys applying and getting hired, but if not, fire will manage somehow. (That's the hard Mellie speaking. The softer Mellie would like to have you all!)

It's clear that the permanent positions to be filled in R5 this year can not all be filled by people already in the system in R5. The rest will have to come from elsewhere. My guess is that other regions are facing similar personnel needs in later 2001 "rounds" and over the next few years. Bottom line is that we won't have enough experienced people carrying on. To make up for that, we're going to need people coming in with experience and others coming in and moving up as fast as they can train and gain experience.

That need is being addressed in R5 by beefing up the Apprenticeship Program, at both entry and upper levels. Training is being accelerated: more apprentices are being accepted (500 this year in 4 academies with an advanced accademy ongoing concurrently, 1000 next year, 500 basic, 500 advanced), more trainers are teaching, classes are being provided more intensively in blocks like college classes. Apprentices will be working on preparatory material before arriving at the academy. They are earning college credit (toward Series 401). Simulation training is in the works. In a word, trainers are readying apprentices for a career in fire. Planning is underway for more OJT opportunities to fulfill PTBs for redcarding. The whole training/ experience process will still take time to accomplish, but perhaps as not much time as in the past. Streamlining is underway. Standards are being raised. Seems to me R5 fire management is operating in a new way to meet new needs.

Fireronin, and you who are AD and contract, opportunity abounds. Go for it! We can use your experience.

Geez, Ab, sorry this is so long. Edit me if you want to!

03/01 There's going to be a conference put on by the Western Rural Development Center and sponsored by many fine organizations.
May 15-16, 2001
Salt Lake City, Utah.

Among agenda items are an briefings on emerging initiatives that address community-based responses to wildfire risks, an intro to Firewise and Stephen Pyne for desert! For more information, directions for whom to contact if you'd like to present and the conference agenda, click HERE.

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