JUNE 2001

SUBJECT (Previous Archive: May-01) Return to Archives Page
06/30 BC, we're downtown, staying at one of the dives on the boulevard.

things are going good, expecting some heat inNorthern nevada all this week. play safe all, and have a goodone.


06/30 I wanted to make a comment on the pack test. As a EMT-advanced and be part of the medical unit on alot of fires, I have seen both sides.

The Packtest is great for testing stamina and endurance for firefighters, however, we are seeing more and more firefighters come to medical w/ scars, kidney aches, and open ulcers or sores because of the pack test. The reason being- using piss pumps as weights and "forcing" or pushing the participants to get the best time. We have seen where some crews actually put more weight and shorten the time requirement so their crew can be "stronger" or better.

Lets not kill our guys!! As for the most part the crews are well taken care of and crew boss truly care about their crews.

Keep up the good work-- Y'all do a hell of a job :)

06/30 For those who love their jobs

I would like to throw my two cents in regarding the individual with diabetes. I am a hotshot foreman and have diabetes myself. I have only had diabetes for about five years, and like many others have had no problems. Doctors can only speculate the safety concerns regarding a person with diabetes that go on the fireline. Yet, it is solely up to the individual that has diabetes whether he or she can perform safely on the fireline. Most doctors simply go off of past medical records, and rarely consider the individuals comments and concerns. There are many firefighters with all kinds of medical conditions, some which are worse than diabetes. That still can perform the job effectively and safely. Which in my mind is the bottom line. The person that wrote about the ADA getting involved is right, lawyers would jump at an opportunity like this to fight for our rights. Regardless of what happens to the individual waiting upon the doctors word, I would like to be involved.


06/30 Atta_gal, lets go way back to the 1975 when the Step Test became the main physical testing procedure for hiring wildland firefighters for state, federal, and private contractors.

The Step Test was developed by a Swedish doctor, Per-Olaf Astrand in the 50s. It was noted at that time, in the 70s, that the Step Test did not evaluate muscular fitness of an individual. Studies were done in the 1980s, which showed that muscular fitness was a must for the wildland firefighter, but it was found out that many women did not have the level of muscular fitness needed, and Washington had the program put in the back-burner, so to speak, since it could have discriminated against women. Dr. Sharkey, who is a retired professor from the University of Montana Human Performance Laboratory, and other individuals, such as Art Jukkala, who worked within the Missoula Technology and Development Center, were very interested and concerned about the safety and fitness issues of the firefighters. They began to develop some type of fitness test, which addressed the needed of a fair physical test that did not discriminate against anyone. Finally in 1994 agency officials in Washington requested Missoula Technology and Development Center to develop a more efficient test, one that would remain inexpensive to administer.

In 1996, National Wildfire Coordinating Group agreed to replace the step test with the pack test, and gave a one-year lead-time to start the program. Finally in 1998, the Pack Test was pilot-tested. There was resistance from the employees union, as to the validity of the data that was used to pick the pack test as the correct physical test to use.

Then on January 11, 1999, an individual was taking the test at Paris, Arkansas, which is a part of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, and died while taking the test. On January 16, 1999, the US Forest Service suspended the test for their individuals. Other organizations continued to use the test. The Forest Service expressed concern that the test needed to address additional area of safety for participants. They had hoped to have recommendations on describing how to fully implement the tests sometime in 99. Now in 2000, there is a major importance on: Pre-participation screening procedures or PAR Q, Physical conditioning preparedness, and Administration procedures of the pack test.

This year, at least one individual has died taking the test, however, this individual was preforming the "Light" level or "Walking Test", one mile hike in sixteen minutes without a pack. Some agencies still use the "Step Test" as a measure of fittness. But I feel the Work Capacity Test is still one of the fairest tests available. Shy of being hooked to a heart monitor, walking on a treadmill, being in a doctor's office and sitting in a waiting room for a couple of hours, I think I'd rather be outdoors working up a sweat.

Old and Calloused

06/29 just got home from the martis fire. worked along side the cdf guys and have no complaints at all. div-i was full of ndf and cdf dudes. i will check my pictures out to see if they are any good ( i am no photographer ) and if one or 2 come out i will send them. more to follow !!

BC Davis

eric ! just missed ya. let me know when you are in town again.

06/29 Craig this is not to you, but to IA firefighters in general.

I agree with the things you said the folks on the ground need from a good dispatcher. From our side there are some things we as dispatchers need from our Initial Attack IC's to better serve you. And a little info for you in the field to know what we deal with. Some if this is for the younger crewperson, but hey, it never hurts to tell the old dogs this either.

I work on a Forest where the ECC is small and still understaffed. We do a lot of Incidents a year for our size. The communications system isn't the best, the district on the North side of the forest can't hear the district on the South. 9 tones we actively use to keep up with everyone. We have 5 radio freq's and 2 intercoms to monitor. The scanner picks up 5 local LE freq's and 4 other fire freq's. And to top it off we have 6 phone lines and NO call takers. And what do you think happens when an incident breaks? BOOYA all hell breaks loose. I'm not complaining mind you, I like working where I do. I also come from twelve years in the field, the last 4 as a captain. I've been in Dispatch for 5 years so I'm no greenhorn, although you folks in the field still amaze me with some of the stuff they come up with.

  1. Be patient, at times we need to prioritize the incidents.
  2. Keep us updated, the more we know the better we can anticipate your needs, and it will help us prioritize.
  3. Try to stay calm we know the excitement levels rise in direct proportion to the flame length.
  4. Everyone on Forest can't always hear you, you may be being walked on and we can't hear you. So be patient and don't loose your temper with us.
  5. If you need the "air" cleared for emergency traffic, say so and we will do it for you. "CLEAR THE AIR FOR EMERGENCY TRAFFIC".
  6. When (no matter how creative we are) we cannot get things to you in a timely matter, don't take it out on us. We are doing the best we can to fill your needs. It or anything like it may not be available.
  7. When you call us, let us know what freq and tone you are on. "Dispatch, Captain-32 Command tone 6". Especially if your in an area that you have had to search for a tone to get out on. And give it a second before you start talking.

  8. And I'll take your 4 & 5 for my 8 & 9.
  9. Let us know by your actions and words that we really matter.
  10. Always try to have a pleasant radio voice. I guarantee that if things have hit the fan in the field we have kicked it into overdrive in dispatch also.
Good luck out there and lets do our best to be safe.
Sign me, "UTF my ass you said you where Available"
06/29 I'm all for the pack test, it weeds out people that shouldn't be on the line. I've seen to many crews held up because of out of shape people. I have to admit, staff administering the test should be more responsible with people struggling. Come on people, you know you have to train before taking it! This test is easy with the proper physical fitness. Get off the couch and put down the potato chips!


06/29 Ab updated the Jobs Page, and Series 462 and Series 455. There are still lots of jobs out there, folks.
06/29 hello all.

since i really have nothing to do now while i wait for responses from other doctors, let me explain my situation a little more in depth.

to Brett, no i did not leave on my own free will. I have wanted to be a firefighter of any type since i can remember. I definitely did not leave on my own free will, i was informed by M and the Captain that the doctor would not clear my physical because "she was concerned about my health, well-being, and safety" and as a result, i could not continue to work for them........ this is a prime example of how rumors get started. so if you could, when it comes up in conversation or something, let them know that i did not leave on my own free will. and thanks for the number.....was it L? i can't seem to get a hold of him, but i am still trying.

now i know diabetics CAN be problematic, but i have had the diesease for over 15 years and have never been hospitalized or had any major problems with it, i think i know how to control it........but who ever asked me what i thought? actually, who ever listened?

now i have looked into the Americans With Disabilities Act. i did not read it all however. i found a lot of interesting things out but have not had to resort to them yet. i am getting a THIRD opinion about my health from a doctor i have never seen in my life, and obviously has never seen me. it seems that all of the Endocrinoligists in the state are booked easily into the middle of August, which does me absolutely no good. so, as a resort to "help me" get through the situation, the doctor that originally wouldn't clear me is having a friend of hers that is an Endocrinologist look at my medical record and make a decision from there............ i am crossing my fingers. if that goes well, i will have my job back and i will happily accept it. if not, then come the lawyers.

to everyone who thinks i am working for a poor agency with bad management, you are wrong. Yes, i do want to still work for the agency. they are a great group of people with a great and knowledgeable background. It is not the decision of my Superiors' that made me leave, they were as dissappointed as i was. they were just the messenger. My fate is in the pen of the doctor downtown, so i don't hold it against the department. i don't even really hold it against the doctor, i just don't understand the logic in her decision. i told her i took all the precautions to prevent a problem, which i did. it is too bad that you get through all the tests and.......... GASP......... the interviews, then go on to get hired and take a test that they say they will have the results back for before you start training so you can work any problems out. so you start training with a smile, knowing you are going to do something useful and exciting for a change. come to find out, after a week of training and nearly $600 later, that you simply won't be allowed to do it............. i will keep you posted on my situation. and still, i agree with Brett: don't rip on the agency, you don't know them.

thanks and have a safe season!!

Good clarification NP. And thanks for writing in Brett (if that's really your name). You who are with your "agency" know which one it is. The rest of us do not, so no "black eye" has been given. Hopefully this medical situation will work out.

Remember readers, 2500 to 3000+ people per day browse at wlf.com depending on how many fires are burning. Annonymity can help you get the info you need without risking your job. As those who post know, Ab gives initials when people do not provide monikers. Sometimes Ab even makes up initials (or names). You can also choose initials that are not your own if you feel your own initials are too revealing. (And then you can play with your initials as WP often does!) Ab.

06/29 For those who don't know,

The Gila NF, that has the Whitetail Fire, is in southwestern NM, west of I-25 and north of Silver City. If you go to the public Geomac site, you can get maps of all the current large fires, including the Whitetail. Click on the large "Geomac" button and then choose "jump to fire" in the upper right corner. Whitetail is the last one.


06/29 Brett,

I DO judge ANY employer that DISCRIMINATES against anyone based on a DISABILITY.... HARSHLY! It is not only a CRIME it is morally repugnant. If you carefully read our posts Denver Farmboy did not "rip" your local agency...and I only said that I would not choose personally to work for ANY employer that showed such obvious ignorance. If you chose to take it personally that is your problem.

By the way...any diabetic that has been discriminated against by representatives of any governmental unit (read deep pockets) would have law firms that specialize in ADA cases pounding on their door and crawling over each other to get the case if they were to "get the scent". I encourage each of the diabetics that have recently claimed such discrimination on this site to carefully and completely document EVERYTHING right now. Sit down and write out what happened, times, and dates, and have a witness sign and date it. This may come in very handy later... even if you decide not to bring suit.


06/29 Everyone,

I have a question. What do you all think of the new *WHITE* vehicles the FS is getting? We got the last green engine on our R5 forest the other day. Is *WHITE* the start of a new era? I'm going to miss the green, but they claim white is supposed to be safer and cheaper. Is that really true?


06/29 Reply to Goldilocks:
A few things that seasoned firefighters appreciate in a good dispatcher:
  1. Never question what we tell you is happening out in the field; if we say the situation is bad, it's probably worse than that.
  2. When I ask for something that cannot be gotten in a reasonable amount of time, don't just tell me it's not available. Be creative and always look for other options. You may know of a resource that could fulfill my needs even though it's not specifically what I've asked for.
  3. Never be closed minded and always be forward thinking. Be one step ahead of us. Try to anticipate our needs (food, water, sleeping bags, etc.) and arrange for those needs to be met before we ask for them.
  4. Let us know by your actions and your words that we really matter. When we haven't checked in for several hours, call us up and do a status check. Before you go home for the night, check in one last time to see if there is anything else that we might need. It's nice to know somebody out there cares.
  5. Always try to have a pleasant radio voice. When things hit the fan and you're dealing with frustrated often difficult people, try to maintain that calm, soothing voice. It helps calm the rest of us down just hearing it.
I know there are other things, but those are the ones that first come to mind. Anyone else care to add to that?

- Craig

06/29 Greetings,
Enjoyed the website. I especially like the airtanker shots.

I have attatched a photo of Neptune Aviations P2V aircraft T-10 in this years paint scheme that I took at the Albuquerque Airtanker Base in May.


Thanks CH. Posted it on the AirTanker2 page. Ab.

06/29 Ab, here are a few photos from the Gila NF taken yesterday. I know these are not spectacular blow-up/400' flame length/15,000' plume photos, but I find them just as interesting. They were taken on the Whitetail fire, which is being managed to benefit wilderness and other resources. The Forest has been managing several such fires for a couple of weeks. This is one aspect of wildland fire management that gets little attention. Just dedicated fire managers doing the right thing.


Thanks DM. Breaking fire photos, I like it. I posted them on Fire5 page. Ab.

06/29 Dear Ab,

Would you please consider the enclosed pictures for inclusion on the Photos - Logos page? It would please me very much to have you post the attached pictures of some insignia from my days as a Forest Service ground pounder. It would also serve to honor the many men I worked with during those days. All are ballcap insignias.
#1 CHILAO HOTSHOTS, 1974? to 1978, R5-Angeles NF; The character in the picture was supposed to be the Superintent Dick O'Connor.
#2 CHILAO HOTSHOTS, 1979 to Present. My buddy Jim Beard designed the new logo of a gorilla with a shovel in one hand and a chainsaw in the other while carrying a hosepack on it's back.
#3 SIERRA HELITACK, 1980?- 1985, R5-Sierra NF. Trimmer Helibase overlooking Pine Flat Reservoir. During the period I was working there we had two helicopters on contract from Roger's Helicopters down in Clovis, CA. One was an Alouette 3, then a souped up Bell 204.

Thank you,
Jim R

Historical ballcap logos... I posted them on the Logo4 page. Ab.

06/29 Hey, I am an EMS professional that has attended a few "Pack Tests". I have been employed as a firefighter as well. I have a question to pose to everyone, especially you folks who have any kind of problems at all, with the Pack Test, whether you've taken it or not and passed it or failed it. Why hasn't anyone challenged the integrity and/or the validity of the Pack Test? It is still a "work in progress" or have you not been told that? You are supposed to be informed of this prior to taking it. No court or jury upholds a fitness test (especially one that is biased as this is...) as the sole determining factor for employment.

Think about it... just because one has brawn, doesn't mean one has brains, or knows how to use them... also, does the phrase,"It doesn't matter how you do it, just as long as it gets done", mean anything? You career folks with retirement benefits especially need to heed this... if you are subject to it and don't or can't pass this test, you are subject to removal from your career positions, as well as losing your many years of paid retirement that you've worked hard for and are owed. This is happening now. I don't know about other folks, but I have never as a firefighter carried 45lbs, 3 miles in 45 minutes. Yes folks that's right... Get off of the high horse about it... I don't care who you are... No-one carries 45lbs, 360ft. per minute for 45 minutes. Bustin' line, pullin' and flakin' hose? Cold trailin'? Not 360 some feet a minute at a wildfire... c'mon... the Pack Test simulates ACTUAL duties?

Hmmm... Honestly think about it... I have observed people begging to not be stopped, when they should be...because they get only 1 chance for a "seasonal job" to feed, clothe and house their families for 6 months... "what a carrot in front of the mule", especially in rural areas where jobs are not plentiful... This is DEAD wrong, no pun intended with the highest respect to those that have fallen from this. Everyone knows what I'm sayin' here... So... Don't be afraid... stand up for yourselves, if you can't...if you wish, I will. I'm not afraid to. There's a lot more than just 1 or 2 of y'all out there that can relate to what I have said here... and remember... They Said It... whoever they are.

Feel free to write me at atta_gal@yahoo.com.

06/29 whats up gang? Just left Winnemucca NV for my daughters B-Day in Seattle. Drove the whole way last night. Lots of rain in the La Grande - Baker city area. Downpoured on in Yakima, and Cle elum WA.

But the Basin looks bone dry.

BC Davis. Drive down town WID youll see our engines along Winnemucca BLVD. Been waiting for three weeks to take possesion of our shop space, previous owner still moving his crap out. Anyways would love to get the scoop from you.

Later all and have a safe one. Hey Mellie ;)


06/28 Hey NP,

It was my understanding that you left on your own free will- I could be wrong- that's just what I heard from my crew. I even gave your crew boss M a number to call for an engine crew.

Fireonin and Denver Farmboy- don't be ripping on my local agency when all your read is a two line sentence. Don't make judgements.

Thank You

06/28 NP,

Above all else, please do not get discouraged by this. I too am a diabetic and I can tell you with absolute certainty that you are covered under the American with Disabilities Act. What you do with this information from this point forward is completely up to you. Denver Farmboy had it right though. If you are serious about pursuing this further, please get in touch with your agency's personnel officer and also any local agencies who deal with people with disabilities. The internet is a great starting point for researching what I've told you. The ADA has a great site full of information if you can stand to wade through it all. It can supply you with alot of information to help support your position. One other tidbit of information: the Forest Service does employ diabetics in fire. With a doctor's written note that your condition is manageable and under control, there is no reason for you not to be employed by that agency. If you choose not to fight with your local agency over employment, try the Forest Service. Good luck and keep us all posted on your situation. If there is anything I can do to help you in this battle, please let me know.

- Craig

06/28 The downhill/indirect line construction guidelines need to be rewritten. I've been told by three different captains that a crew must be working uphill towards the crew working down hill. These captains are also S/T leader and DIVS qualified. I have even asked a hotshot superintendent if a crew working up hill was a requirement and he said no.

All of the guidelines are straight forward easy to understand except the fourth one.

Communication is established between the crew working downhill and the crews working toward them from below. When neither crew can adequately observe the fire, comm will be established between the crews, supervising overhead and a lookout posted where the fire can be seen.

Some people interpret this to mean that a crew must be working towards them from below. I know that this is often a great idea, but not a requirement.

One of the items in old FLHB downhill line construction check list is to have the toe of the fire anchored. New check lists don't even have this a requirement.

Does "Downhill/Indirect" mean "downhill and indirect" or "downhill or indirect". What about downhill and direct with ample safety zones, clean black and good lookouts --LCES? Does a crew have to be working up hill? Are these now just guidelines and some old-timers are treating them like a checklist?

R-5 Alienhead

06/28 Looking at the National sit rep I notice that so far we are running about 10% fewer fires but about 10% greater acres(total). Does anyone else think that this is significant? Also can anyone tell me (Mellie?) what percentage of the job openings created (federally) by the full MEL have been filled by now? Ball park figure? 50%,60%,70%? More?

To the Diabetics that were turned down...rejected by "locals". Are you not covered by the "Americans with disabilities Act"? If so you may wish to approach them again (if you really want to work for them) before you approach a lawyer. A private employer would be totally screwed for pulling a stunt like that! Personally I would not want to work for an employer that shows such obvious ignorance of a condition that can be so easily controlled.


06/28 To the diabetic firefighter:

While in Massachusetts I read a newspaper article about a new treatment for diabetis (Type I). Great success had been achieved in transplanting Islets of Langerhans cells (cells in the pancreas that produce insulin) to restore insulin production. The people in the trial had been off insulin for up to a year after the transplant with profound success. Aside from pursuing the ff job, please check with your doc to see if this treatment would be available to you.

Tahoe Terri

06/28 For NP,

I work for the FS in your area and I know of some seasonal spots still available on my forest. Engines I think. Let me know if you want more info. Ab can send you my email address.


06/28 This is my first vist to this site, but G.B.F.F. & NP's post caught my attention. I would suggest that they both look into their protection under the A.D.A. (Americans With Disabilitys Act) federal law. They should check with their local agencys that help the disabled (i.e. local health department) or should contact their States. There should be a listing under "State Goverment" in their phoe book to tell them who to contact. That's WHY these laws where enacted folks! USE THEM! :)


06/27 As most of you know, we have fs engine clipart that the original Ab made on the engines 1 page. Well, Hickman's been work'n on somethin' too...

fire clipart

He says, "If someone needs it pass it out...and if anyone got anything I can add....send it in....

Of his collection, I like this one and this one the best. Nice job, Hickman.

ps. You all should know that the original Ab did the engine cliparts "by hand" back before technology made creating clipart a simpler process. He used them on some crew t-shirts.

06/27 Concerning the film "A wildfire named Jeremiah", if any one knows where I can find a copy of this film, I would also like to know. I've tried to find it but have not had any luck.


06/27 Greetings.

I am writing in response to NP who is looking for work because he was denied employment due to diabetes. I just went through the exact same thing! One of my rookies also has diabetes, and it wasn't until AFTER he had got a physical, a week of rookie school, did they have concerns about his condition. He had 3 different doctors saying that doing an ardeous job would actualy benefit him. It wasn't like they didn't know...he'd been doing volunteer work for the same agency that he works for now, for the past 8 months. I don't understand?!?

All I can suggest to you NP, is to go back and see if your AMFO, FMO, or FOS will back you up like our AMFO did for our fire fighter. Ours took total responsibility, and I'm pleased to say that all ended well, finally. Have a safe season!

~*~Great Basin Fire Fighter~*~

06/27 Well Worn:

I'm pretty sure the film you're talking about is "A Fire Called Jeremiah."


06/27 Hi All,

I updated Series 462 and 455 on the jobs page. I'll update the jobs page itself and get up the photos and logos that you've sent in as time permits. Ab.

06/27 Always read theysaid, very informational. yes, lurking' keeping up with what's happening on then wildland firefighting scene, and sometimes chuckling.
Melly's comments about the Martis fire were extremely thought provoking & interesting - I've been wondering why it remained a CDF fire for so long after most of the flames were in NV. As an old budget analyst, would like to see who is gonna pick up/share the $$ tab
NorCal news media actually interviewed an ElDorado Hotshot - does the El D have a PIO crew member now? (when my kids were Hotshotshots they avoided the press)
Also found the comments about the firefighters in "orange" a chuckle; Melly, some of us know who wears which colors - many more today than 4 or 5 yrs ago.
And, usually the Nor Cal media says "contained" instead of "controlled"
And, BTW, you kids going into wildland firefighting: mine bought Whites early on a Type II crew 1st season - next year a Type I HOTSHOT. so proud



06/26 Thanks to all in helping me locate movie...it may be Kelly Mountain movie but I think it is much older..basic story starts with tower lookout wanting to be jumper, he becomes one next year and in last scene he lands with helicopter and rescues his girl from the tower as a fire races up hill ..and her dog. Is this Kelly Mountain? I have seen it only one other time and it was on 8mm film stock.

well worn but not out of picture yet

Could it be Forest Smoke Chasers 1948 that RR gives the contact for below? Ab.

06/26 hey everyone,

i was just wondering if anyone knew of any BLM or FS jobs that are still available in R4?? i got hired on with a local agency and went through red card training and then they decided to not clear my physical because i was a diabetic. my crew boss told me that the FS and BLM can/do/have hired diabetics to work handline for them. please let me know if anyone knows anything!! thanks.


06/26 "1fsga" wrote

< < .....snip......{Hot Shots} are the best firefighters very seldom caught by the news video because they're out in the middle of no-where land doing what no others can do. But then of course, the news media is usually busy showing video of the CDF "firefighters" in orange. They're nearer to the media vans access and the orange shows up great on TV, and all of that makes for a "feel good" story.>>

The only reason I can figure out that the media shows relatively more footage of CDF Crews is that many of our fires are in the intense urban-interface area where the news media is more likely to show up. I can't quite see 1fsga's point on this. It's a matter of pride to us CDFers that our jurisdiction takes in both I-zone areas with their complex fire problems (including need for immediate suppression, with limited options for backing off to distant ridges, and urgent structure protection requirements), as well as very remote and wild country. All Type 1 CDF Crews (which is to say, all CDF Crews) are capable of extended assignment in very remote areas with minimal need for re-supply. Might need some drinking water eventually, but we carry enough of everything else for typically a full, working 24 to 36-hour shift. The only reason you don't see us kept out on the line for extended periods is that those (choice) assignments are given to the Shots on USFS fires. It's much easier staying out on the line than hiking out, then hiking back in, driving for miles each way, then dealing with all the Fire Camp B.S. in between.

"1fsga" continues:

< < Wouldn't one like to know what each "firefighter" in orange did to end up in prison. That would take the old shine right off the news media's "feel good" story.>>

I certainly agree that it would be nice if that information was provided. In the vast majority of cases the crimes are far less evil than the naive public would imagine. "There but for fortune........."

Michael - CDF

06/26 lsfga

Just for clarification. I was not picking on CDF with my post about the Martis fire. All of us who are involved in fire seek to understand how a large fire starts. I simply did not understand an online news report and thought at first that either I didn't understand some terms or that reporters were unfairly seeking to place blame. So I searched on for the "official" report. In my estimation CDF has as much integrity as FS as BLM as NPS and I have friends (and colleagues) in fire in all those groups. The blame game helps none of us in fire. Clear evaluation of processes can help us do better next time, however.


06/26 Hey well worn,

One of the Disney movies with a fire tower was "Fire On Kelly Mountain". Not sure if this is the one you meant but it is a good training film for some of the humorous sides and does show the commitment. My kids love it by the way.


06/26 Well worn,

Re the Disney Fire Movie, there's a movie on EBay right now, called "fire on kelly mountain" I'm not sure if that's the one that you are looking for. It's item number #1440506557. or search on Forest Service. The bidding expires on the 26th (today) around 1954 PDT. Hope this helps.


06/26 This post from RR must be the answer to some question, but I'm so jetlagged I don't know which one. Ab.

forest smoke chasers (1948)

Check with
audience planners , Inc.
5341 Derry Avenue # Q
Agoura hills CA. 91301

06/26 A New But Controversial Subject:

I have been collecting UFO and anomalies seen by lookouts and professional forestry workers and supervisors. So far 82 sightings are recorded and most ask for, and all get anonymity. The sightings are from all over Pac NW and N. California and all are difficult to find. Forest service agencies, understandably, are not interested in helping at all.

Those sightings from a distance are intellectually interesting to lookouts but those which make close approaches are very frightening. I have sightings scattered through the late 1940s up to the 1990s. About 90 % of active employees do not want their names or lookouts/stations listed. If you know of any sightings, please ask the persons to contact me or just have them write a good narrative description of their sighting with dates, places times, appearance, movements etc.. I have made my reports to some USFS supervisors but they are not interested. .....smile if you wish....but in 1959 my wife was with me during two dramatic sightings....both very near the tower....it wasn't fun.

Dr. Jim Doerter
80 Scenic Drive,
Ashland, Oregon 97520

06/26 Dear Ab,

I can't find any wildland (forest) fire designs and/or clip art. All of them that I have found are more structure/EMT related. Do your readers have any idea were to find some?


PS. I appreciated the responses last month to my request for Dispatcher Training. Now I'd like to know what all the seasoned wildland firedogs appreciate in a good dispatcher. Any takers?

06/26 Jim,
I didn't mean my post as a put-down to easterners. Thanks for your post, though. Made me realize how much I just love this website! Being in Massachusetts right now with all the "reserved" atmosphere, I even enjoyed an undeserved slam-dunk. Right on! If anyone thinks something is not right, spit it on out! Don't hold back! <grin>

Thanks for the well-written comments - you restated and emphasized the point I was really trying to make.

I'd love to meet you guys some day, but only if my hose is as big as yours. And oh, I'm not a he! <chuckle>

Tahoe Terri

06/25 Do you guys know if Chippewa boot comp. makes a wildland fire boot?


06/25 I saw where your readers were able to help an individual locate a out of circulation book and was wondering if anyone out there had any information on where I can obtain a copy of an old Walt Disney Movie about a tower lookout who became a smokejumper..it was late 60's and I have been unable to locate it thru sources so far including a letter to Disney. It makes a great prevention?PR film. Thanks

well worn but not out of the picture yet

06/25 Mellie,

Great! You're reading between the lines. It's great to see people out there are thinking about this. But who will ever know. CDF controls the new media so will that the truth may never be known. Who will investigate CDF? Maybe USFS - No I don't think so. USFS (the best forest fire suppression agency in the work) moved aside and allowed CDF to totally manage the Martis Fire while it burned in 2 different National Forest and mostly outside of the state of California. WOW

From a good source, (radio transmissions) the CDF Captain wanted to go back and check the escaped camp fire Saturday AM and was told "don't worry about it now, check it later in the afternoon". The CDF crew planned on making that check at 1:00 PM on Sunday but the Martis Fire broke out at 12:04. Yes - many questions????? Is it the ole Oakland/Berkeley Hills Fire thing all over again??? Someone forgot the basics of mop-up. We'll never know because no one will ever challenge CDF's final report.

I would like to hear from others that know more than I and possible the firefighters involved - wouldn't that be great.

BIG TIME thanks to the Hot Shot crews on the Martis Fire. These are the best firefighters very seldom caught by the news video because they're out in the middle of no-where land doing what no others can do. But then of course, the news media is usually busy showing video of the CDF "firefighters" in orange. They're nearer to the media vans access and the orange shows up great on TV, and all of that makes for a "feel good" story. Wouldn't one like to know what each "firefighter" in orange did to end up in prison. That would take the old shine right off the news media's "feel good" story.

Just trying to see through the smoke. Thanks for the site.


06/25 WHOA JIM,

I don't think Tahoe Terri meant to "dis" non-western firefighters or fire managers. I initially took offense at his post too...but upon reflection and re-reading realized that I agree with most of his points. When it is "green and raining" few people anywhere think about fire danger. People in metropolitan areas seldom do either. While no one likes being lumped together in such sweeping statements in general what he said is true. I don't think he meant to "bash" non-western firefighters. He had an especially good point in his statement "the task becomes how to raise the awareness of those managers to the need and requirements for wildland firefighters. Failing that, the question becomes how do you put in place systems that gets folks redcarded in a timely fashion. Banding together to work on such stuff often helps."

Speaking from personal experience I think it is a waste of time trying to "raise the awareness" of fire managers...they are usually only too aware of the problem. If other states are at all like MN in the structure of their fire program, a single person is responsible for getting the red cards issued. Yes, fire managers and firefighters must get the information to this person but this single person is usually "the weakest link"...unless they are being ordered by "higher ups" to delay issuing the cards.

So this leaves "banding together" to get the problem solved. Again, from personal experience THIS WORKS and is simpler than you think. If there is sufficient interest a nationwide alternative red card issuance system can be set up to take this "burden" off the backs of the states which are chronically "tardy" in issuing them. At the very least we can allow those firefighters who are serious about getting experience/opportunities to not be held back by the laziness of a single state employee. If anyone is interested contact me.

Dana Linscott

06/25 Tahoe Terri

This is a CROC! "People think about wilderness or interface relatively infrequently. If they're not from the west, they probably think about wilderness fire even less. For the vast majority of non-western fire managers I bet that getting people qualified to fight western fire is not even on their radar screen, let alone their priority list. You know how it is with priorities. The cues of a drying environment are not present as reminders."

Do you live under a rock? To think that ONLY westerners think or know about wildland fire is an insult to me. I live in Arkansas and you can bet that wildland fire is on my mind. I have many friends from the "East" who are very good firefighters and know that they can and will support the wildland fire community. The Southern area has MORE wildland fires and BURNS more acreage than the so called "Fire Regions" like R-5. I'm not proud of this statistic, but that's the way it is.

The redcard situation is/has been an ongoing problem for years. As I see it, the problem is those responsible for the redcards do not make it a priority and in many cases are just to lazy to get it done in a timely fashion.

It's not only redcards, but helicopter contracts have always been late to the field. I don't know how many times I have had to call Boise, just to get the daily and hourly cost information for a type II helicopter.

Now then it's my turn to bash the west. Just because your fire season starts later in the year does not mean that redcard and contracting issues are not needed by another geographic area. Maybe it's time to turn the power back on and see what's going on outside of your back yard.


06/25 Becky,

The book that you are looking for is entitled "Hank Winston, Smokechaser", authored by Montgomery M. Atwater and published by Random House (NY) in 1947. On line, I saw that there is a copy available in the library at Bemidji State University. Maybe someone out there can set you up with a copy.


06/24 Hello from SE Washington,

It cooled off the past couple of days, but the 1 hour fuels are looking mighty thick. I noticed the other day the fuels had cured nicely but suddenly they took on a bleached look as the last of the moisture came out of them. We have had a couple of 400-600 acre fires in the area of the TriCities. We are all crossing our fingers for high RH%.


06/24 This is for John from Mt.

If you go the the following address and look in Wildfire you can obtain information and handouts at no charge. Information comes from the National Fire Administration (your tax money at work). You can also obtain other information on Public Education and Fire Prevention that you might be able to use also.


Good Luck

06/24 I am searching for a book printed prior to 1964 called SMOKEJUMPER the main character is Hank Winston I think. It is a book my brother read over and over in the high school library and would love to read again.

If you can give me a lead to it I would be most grateful I have tried all the obvious book searchers.


06/24 John in Butte, Mt.,

If no one else has any better ideas for you, here's a few suggestions on starting your search. Check out the NIFC website at www.nifc.gov/news/nicc.phpl 'Prevention and Education' 'protecting your home from wildland fire'. Also under the same sub category there is a link to www.firewise.org. I took a very cursory look at it and it looks ok. Video, slides, etc included but it may be in Powerpoint format, I didn't go that far into the site. The NIFC site has quite a few related links so take some time and look around. Also, I know that there is a lot of information put out by the California Department of Forestry on fire in the urban interface, just go to the wlf.com links page under state and CDF should come up. If you are looking for hardcopy information, try contacting the Deer Lodge National Forest. If you are having a town hall meeting or your department wants some training, I would think they would be happy to assist. If you have no luck with them, the next time you are in Missoula, stop in and see the Missoula smokejumpers. They might kick someone loose to come meet with you, just not in August! Good work! It is very nice to see a rural department expressing interest in educating the residents they are protecting instead of just showing up with equipment after the fire is going. Smart residents and professional rural departments are invaluable when the fire, fuels, winds, and slope all line up!

Old R5'er

06/24 Hi All,

The following is a quote from the sfgate article on the Martis Incident: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/06/22/MN171859.DTL

Investigators with the California Department of Forestry and the U.S. Forestry Department responded to a fire in that area on Saturday and managed to extinguish a 30-by-60 foot blaze.

But another fire exploded east from the same start point on Martis Peak on Sunday, investigators said, pushed east by intense winds and fed by tinder-dry needles, pine cones and scrub brush.

Does anyone know what this means? Are they implying that that a 30x60' fire was put out on Sat. and something didn't get put out and started the fire up again on Sunday? Or does it mean that an unnoticed spot separate from the 30x60' fire flared and spread?

Checking around some more, I found these interesting sites:
Martis Fire at the FS site
Martis Fire at the CDF site

Hmmmmmm... report on the CDF investigation of the cause... Guess they're still trying to figure it out.
Martis News Release - 6/21/01 in PDF, but just takes a moment to load if you have adobe acrobat.


06/24 To Whom it May Concern,

I am doing research into wild fire fire safety equipment and have heard of a fire 'tent' which a fire fighter can get into to protect from flash over etc. Any information which you could send me or point me in the direction of would be much appreciated. Thank You,

Mathew Trainor
Swinburne University
Victoria, Australia.

06/24 Regarding the discussion of tardiness of redcarding:

I think I have another explanation besides conspiracy or even holding firefighters at home. I'm from R5 but in Massachusetts for a funeral. The contrast between my home Martis Fire area and here is like night and day. Here, it's green, humid and raining. I don't think fighting wildland fire is really on many people's minds. Indiana in the summer is similar. Here is one giant megalopalis. There are large metro areas in Indiana. Something like 95% of people live in cities. People think about wilderness or interface relatively infrequently. If they're not from the west, they probably think about wilderness fire even less. For the vast majority of non-western fire managers I bet that getting people qualified to fight western fire is not even on their radar screen, let alone their priority list. You know how it is with priotities. The cues of a drying environment are not present as reminders.

So then the task becomes how to raise the awareness of those managers to the need and requirements for wildland firefighters. Failing that, the question becomes how do you put in place systems that gets folks redcarded in a timely fashion. Banding together to work on such stuff often helps. But maybe some of ya'll will just have to move west...

Tahoe Terri


06/24 Hello, My name is John Troglia, I am a member of a rural Fire Dept. in Elkpark, Mt. I was wonder if I could get some info packets for the rural residents that reside up here in Elkpark? We, as a group, will be going around to meet neighbors, old and new, and evaluate their home and property as a pre planning fire safety session. I hope to get some pamphlets to hand out to these folks that will help them in case I can't get pamphlets locally, which seems to be the way it's going. Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you.
John Troglia,
99 Rocksprings Rd., Butte, Mt 59701

06/24 Proud firefighter in PA.

Please understand that I realize there are a few type 2 crews that could out perform most Hotshot crews, and yes you can find a few type 1 crews that should have their status revoked, and yes most always due to leadership. I am not an angry person.

You need to understand that I came from a crew that was in tip top shape, everyone except for the supe could perform the 1 1/2 mile run under 9 minutes. We could hike like billygoats and we could work with the best of the best no matter who it was. Everyone memorized the 10 and 18 along with the original FIRE ORDERS. We knew when to work and when to play. We were also trained to be sensitive to everyones feelings ( = .... We knew when to speak and when to shut up.

As for the professional statement I made, I'm sorry. I know that the majority of volunteers in this country are very professional and highly trained, and have probably saved more lives and protected more property than career firemen. On the other hand most paid, municipal, career firemen have a union to hide behind or I mean to protect them. Especially when it comes to physical fitness. Wildland firefighters do not... Anyways don't get your panties in a wad. I still love ya. I think you should pick a crew any type 1 crew and volunteer for 180 days and then tell me if you should be compensated. When upon your return to PA, you find that you no longer are employed by the company you previously left for your 180 days of volunteering, and you find that you have divorce papers on the table waiting to be signed, and your dog bites you because he can't even remember you, don't be surprised.

I think volunteering is needed and is definitley appreciated and thats just what the men and women of the USFS, BLM, FWS, NPS, AFS just to name a few are doing each and every year they return for temporary or seasonal employment when you consider the meager wages they do earn for the job and professionalism they deliver. I surely hope that no one does it for the money, I think we love it and it shows.

Hey Mike

I say "WHITES SMOKEJUMPERS" OR "NICKS HOTSHOTS" and for socks try "THORLOS" the mountain climbers are what I wear. They are thick, tall, and have padding in all the right places, and you only need one pair on at a time, this is my favorite reason. the socks are a little expensive about $15 a pair. As for the white bites, if you are in steep country all the time you will develop a calouse on the top of your foot over time, just take care of the blister and let it calouse up. After the calouse you will usually not have a problem except for hot spots once in a while. Your feet are definitely worth the money, a small price to pay for a little comfort.

Ohhh group hug

06/23 well one death in the line of duty is too much. in the past years i have lost a few friends to death. some firefighters say it wont happen here or to me, others say i dont need ppe, one that did not have his engine fire ready, one by his partner wanting to sleep..



06/23 Dusty,

Conspiracy? Probably not if this is the first year that your red cards have been "late". In MN we did not suspect "foul play" until the third consecutive season (Minnesotans are way too trusting). While it is possible that Indiana is withholding your red cards intentionally to keep you available for local fires it is more likely simply laziness on the part of the folks who are charged with getting them issued. Since red cards "expire" on Jan. 1st it would seem that they should be issued soon after but you know how things get put off until the last minute. Of course it is of no benefit to Indiana to issue you guys red cards if they are not required for in state fires, as is the situation in MN and there is a slight benefit to not issuing them until after your fire season is completely done since it prevents you from leaving Indiana to join in the national wildfire response. Hmmm. How long has this been happening in Indiana?

We have learned that there are alternatives to depending on our state to provide red cards in a timely manner. While they are completely legitimate, we are somewhat concerned that if our top state fire officials learned of exactly how we are doing it they might attempt to close that door for us. As it is having this alternative tends to keep them slightly more honest when it comes to getting the red cards issued in a timely manner. If you have folks in Indiana that are serious about wildfire fighting and would like an alternative to waiting until your state gets around to issuing their red cards, have them contact me. Of course it is too late this year... but it is good insurance to have your own non state issued red card sitting in your pocket and the cost is minimal ( less than $20). Since I have not heard otherwise, I assume that Indiana is in the same league as MN or PA when it comes to firefighter "neglect" but of course there are few Midwestern states that really encourage their firefighters to "get a taste of the west" (or south). How are you gonna keep them down on the farm once they have seen Truckee?

Dana Linscott

For some links and interesting browsing showing maps/photos of wilderness areas around Truckee CA, go here:
Spectacular area. Ab.

06/23 A new CD-Rom containing 9 Fire Safety publications from the USFS Technology & Development Center in Missoula, Montana USA is now available for FREE. It's a compilation of the major fire safety work done at MTDC during the 1990's, and includes the full texts, charts and photos as they appeared in the documents. Specific publications included are: "Fitness and Work Capacity"; "Fire Behavior Associated with the South Canyon Fire"; " Surviving Fire Entrapments"; " Wildland Fire Fatalities 1990-1998"; "Improving Firefighter Safety in the Intermix"; "Health Hazards of Smoke Conference Proceedings"; "Wildland Fire Entrapments: 1976-1999"; and "Wildland Firefighter Health and Safety Consensus Conference Proceedings".

In addition to the entire publication, there is a separate section with fully down-loadable photos and charts/graphs that you can use to develop your own training package.

To request FREE copies of the CD-Rom, contact eranf@fs.fed.us and request the MTDC Wildland Fire Safety Collection (0151-2811-MTDC). Be sure to include a snail-mail address in your request.

Dick Mangan

06/22 The jobs page, series 462 and 455 are updated.


06/22 Dear Ab,

Glad everything at the site is back to normal!
I am just a city citizen who reads this site regularly (lurks, I believe you call it). The time has come for me to say what's been on my mind. I have camped and hiked in numerous National Parks and Federal and State forests. These places are where I can shake the cement off my shoes and soak in the splendor and majesty of the forests and mountains. And enjoy the peace and quiet. So when I read/hear about wild land fires, I am grateful for all you men and women who fight fire. You do this for me and other "just plain folk" you mostly don't know and almost never hear from. That you "like" doing this job makes you special in my mind. Fire scares the crap outta me. :-)

No matter in what capacity you participate in beating back fire, you play an important part in keeping America green for the rest of us.

Thank you for all that you do. I wish you all a safe fire season.


Thanks JJ and posters, you've made this Ab's day. Phew, now maybe we'll get back to our "normal" ab-normality? Ab.

06/22 Not too long ago, there was a posting from midwestern state-believe Minnesota or Wisconsin that stated their home state held up sending out their red cards. They are not alone! Just called state officials here in Indiana and they said "won't be ready for another two or three weeks". Sure glad I took my pack test in February so I could get all certifications early this year!

Is there some kind of midwestern conspiracy to hold us all up??

06/22 Glad to see you up and walking again. I hope the site makes a full recovery. Like other folks I had a mild case of hysteria and shortness of breath when no new gossip, uh I mean intelligence, was available for my morning stroll through cyberspace.

Sonoma, Lake, and Napa counties have been pretty busy the last few days. It may or may not slow down this weekend, they are cramming 100,000 people into Sears Point Raceway for a NASCAR event. You those of you who don't know it's mostly grassy rolling hills with poor access. I think I will see it on TV. or catch the papers.

Heard they down sized the acreage on the Truckee fire, apparently they down sized it after a good aerial inferred survey.

My two cents about whiners, the folks that whine the most are usually the ones that get left behind, or are watching all the others guy have fires and are active while they train and clean the bathroom and put on the fire prevention talks and shows, ( been there and whined about it, from first hand experience, pretty much a station staffer during 1987 firestorm. Boy I saw some awesome fires { ON TV.} while covering stations and doing all the other stuff we have to do. I believe it was a merlot 1987 vintage whine, for some it was great. Well at least I did get a Firestorm '87 pin!)

All for now,

06/21 Ab,
Damn! Did I get some people fired up when I asked the question which type of crew/resource whines the most? I hope most of the visitors to the site took it for what it was worth, just a little humor, kind of like poking a wasp nest with a stick (and don't tell me ya'll ain't never done that). For those of you that took offense, remember the 11th commandant:


How many people can I offend with this one?
Hear what happened when the crew sup took Viagra?
Nothing, he just got taller.

Wildfire dispatch Person

06/21 I used to work at the USFS station in Lakehead, California many years ago. Is there a way for you to set up a bulletin board where you can leave notes for people. It would be great to hear from friends I used to work with, or people I have met on fires off district.

just a thought, love the web page brings back alot of great memories

Ummmm.... Until our server and our e-mail choked, this was the place where people left notes for firefighters... Hopefully people will continue to do that. We've gotten quite a few friends back in touch with each other over the years. With our new ISP, we have additional capabilities including SEARCH. Soon you'll be able to search the wlf.com archives on a topic, location name, given name, or moniker. Stay tuned.

06/21 Howdy AB all gang...
Glad your back. I think I was going through withdrawals, or maybe it's just the heat??? Hey Capt Jim, the cool draft I use to reduce heat stress works GREAT! Some folks like Bud, but I Prefer Sierra Nevada myself...

But seriously now...
You can make your own rehab fan with your vent fan and a piece of soaker hose wire tied to the outside of the fan guard. hook it up to a suitable H2O supply, (hydrant,engine,garden hose, Etc) The water drip's out of the hose and is beat to a fine mist by the fan. I guess you could also use a misting system that is available at most home & garden outlets...


06/21 Ab
Good to see that everything is back on line again. I e-mailed the other day worried about why I couldn't get on. Mellie sent an email and explained things.

Everything in Southern Idaho is HOT and dry, just small fires so far. The weather will change this weekend with a cold front and lots of wind. I can hardly wait.

Again welcome back,

06/21 UPDATE! We are back up and receiving, welcoming any and all messages to THEY SAID IT. Thanks for your patience.


06/21 Just checked in and there's one message (posted below) in the inbox! Dare we hope that the abercrombie@wildlandfire.com address is actually connected? Lemme see. I will have to send myself some e-mail to test this out, unless any of you care to try?


PS. Ab updated the 462 and 455 Series and cleaned up the jobs page yesterday. Feel free to send in any new jobs posts, but send them to the abercrombie@wlf addy, please.

06/21 I was told about a cooling device that prevents heat stress. Called Cool Draft. I saw them at


They cost about $600.00 - does anybody know if they work?

Capt. Jim G.
Levitown NY

06/20 URGENT!  Despite promises of 24 hour conversion times, we are still without mainline conversion of the abercrombie mail account. Thus said, please hold all incoming emails until a future announcement here! I would apologize, but it ain't my fault! All was prepared, all was in readiness, everything was in order. We're work'in on it. We've got a scratch line around it and are prepared to back fire if need be.


06/20 The current info on the Martis Fire is to be found on the CDF incident website: Martis Fire
"Photos" along the left, links to a live cam that shows the smoke, but only if it's daylight.

You can also find a Perimeter Map of the fire. Once there, if you click on the small map you will get an enlarged map that takes about 30-40 seconds to load. Details within the burn area are covered in pink, so the map is not the most informative unless you know the area or have another map to compare it to.

The Sacramento Bee has one of the most informative online stories of the fire (June 19).

Martis update: www.sfgate.com


06/19 Line of Duty Death.
You've most likely seen this already, but:

Firefighter Son of state Oregon Rep. Gary Chandler dies at wildfire scene. www.kgw.com/kgwnews/oregonwash_story.phpl?StoryID=21670


06/19 The Truckee area should NOT be burning this time of year. In fact, it seldom burns at any time of any year.

One Who Knows

06/19 There's a huge fire -- the Martis -- burning between Truckee and Reno in the Sierra. It burned 12,000 acres in about 3 hours on Sun. and was up to 15,000 acres early Mon. Aaron Gelobter's CIIMT4 and Posten's CDF Team were assigned to the fire which is burning in very steep terrain on both sides of I-80. This is a hot and fast one. The column can be seen for miles and miles.

Ab, I found one online story on SF Gate, but I've been having trouble getting the wildlandfire site to come up and there would probably will be more that show up on the WLF News page. Thanks for that resource. Between the news and the sit report I check in here often. (Also, I hope all is OK with the site.)

Please be careful, people.
NorCal Tom

06/18 Ab,

I'm sure glad you're back up and running. I don't know what I'd do if this site disappeared completely. Thanks, Mellie, for letting me know what was up.


Yeah, thanks very much Mellie for answering the pile of e-mail questions I shot off to you before the old Ab account became nonfunctional. I just couldn't handle the volume of them while on the road. And thanks, posters, for your concern. Ab.

06/18 URGENT!! Wildlandfire.com is in the process of swapping our domain host. The exchange is completed and if you can read this, then your ISP server has successfully found our new host. We are aware there was an interruption and we apologize for any inconvenience. If you have sent email during the last twelve hours or so, you will probably need to resend it as we think they dropped our old server prior to having the new one up and running. Please wait to send any email until after 2400 this evening. We are promised that their "midnight" sweep will have our new accounts fully functional. If not, we'll post another message tomorrow.


06/18 For those of you who have written in, sorry I was not able to be more specific about the new crew on the Midewin. Hope this will help.

Midewin is seeking experienced and qualified personnel for the Crew Supt., assistant supt., 2 foremen, 3 squad bosses (permanent appointments) and 13 seasonal firefighters. The seasonals will probably be at the GS-3/4 level, the foremen to Supt ranging GS-5 to GS-9. The Forest Service will probably be looking at a variety of folks ranging from those with appointments already to new hires.

I would suggest interested people still on the ASAP list (and not yet hired) should modify their application to show Midewin Tallgrass Prairie as one of their 9 locations of choice.

Current regular FS employees looking for the opportunity to relocate and be part of a brand new crew should contact the Midewin directly.

Old Fire Guy

For information how to modify the location on your application or for information on how to apply for a FS job, check the FAQ about FS Hiring and the Jobs page. Ab.

06/17 I want to get this strait.
Is it whining when we say "I want adequate training. I want fair pay. I want experienced and effective leadership."? Is "why don't I get a fireshelter" whining? Or is it just whining when we say " My soda isn't cold. I'm wet and cold and tired. How come helitack gets cable and we don't?"?

I think whining is like pornography...I am not sure I can define it...but I know it when I hear it. For those that get decent pay or like fighting fire just for the thrill, I am sure that " we want to be paid fairly" must sound kinda whiny. And I suppose that for those just off of spike camp (and freezing their ass off at night while eating MREs and digging line till they pass out) hearing fresh troops bitch about the low quality of hot meals and how the hot water ran short in the showers probably sounds intolerably whiny. Hardships do exist in our profession that we must endure in order to accomplish our mission simply because nothing can be done to change them. Hardships also needlessly exist in our profession only because of poor planning, sloppy management, lazy individuals, etc. that need to be "whined" about good and loud.

Complaining about something you are not willing to do anything about yourself...that's whining, as is complaining about something that no one can ever change. My personal rule is that unless I can think of a solution and am willing to help implement it I keep my mouth shut. However, I don't think this gives me the right to hold others to this standard even though it think it is a good one. Throughout our history there have been "crews" composed of whiners that did nothing BUT whine and "crews" that did something about their concerns. The first group have been consigned to the scrap heap of historical ignominy, the second we revere (no pun intended) as national heroes. "No taxation without representation" was a "whine" (as perceived by King George) that is responsible for our way of life.

And yes I know that some of this is "good natured" humor...borne of the shared hardships and healthy competition that are unavoidable components of wild fire fighting. Some is healthy...but you have to be careful not to cross the line beyond mutual respect and when you are laughing at others and they are not laughing along that line has been crossed. When the fire is out who can claim to be most responsible for the victory? Type I,Type II, engine crews, bus drivers, camp cooks, pilots, medics, bookkeepers, dozer operators, overhead, and even helitack all share the glory along with every other person that worked on that fire...and deservedly so. Humors' good...respect is better...we need both.

But I must draw the line at joking about helitak crews eating too much lobster and getting tummy aches! We've had casualties cause of this...and believe you me they don't teach you to "watch out" for that particular danger in helischool nor have I ever once seen a safecom about it! And I don't know how many perfectly good catered lunches were ruined when I was on helitack simply because the USFS was unwilling to pay for a decent vintage to go with the smoked salmon and caviar. Domestic chardonney in plastic cups indeed!

Humor aside...
ALL FIREFIGHTERS deserve to be paid fairly for their service.
They deserve a tolerably dangerous working environment (it will never be "safe").
They all deserve safe drinking water and nutritious food.
They all deserve enough rest to allow them to combat fatigue and be alert.
They deserve prompt medical attention when needed.
They deserve adequate training and oversight to allow them to know what they are doing on the fireline.
And they deserve the respect of their peers and superiors for sticking with a dirty and dangerous job that precious few in today's modern society are willing to even consider trying.

These are minimums that I think we each fully deserve old hands and newbys alike. Cold soda, cots, and warm showers I always considered welcome extras.

I agree with some posts that incessant whining can quickly bring down a crews morale. But so can a "boss" who's answer to everything is "quitcherbitchen". I always tried to prepare my crews for the trials that they might face before they were "committed" and considered that part of my responsibility. If a member of my group...or a neighboring crew was uncomfortable and I could do something about it I felt it was my duty to do so. I have seen newbys ridiculed for whining about the sometimes harsh living conditions and grueling work by "leaders" that had failed to properly prepare them for their mission. That's not good leadership. Telling a newby who "whines" "my feet hurt" while he breaks in his first new boots to "quit whining" doesn't do anyone on the crew a service. Saying "let's look at your feet" and "heres how I break in boots" does.

Listen carefully to other firefighters concerns. Be compassionate. Don't automatically write it off to whining. Treat them like you would your own brother or sister. After all....that is what they are. Firefighting IS a very MACHO thing. Let's not get carried away though. None of us could do it alone. It takes a team effort...and that is what I think makes it so COOL. We are able to accomplish what we do because we work together...period. If a fellow firefighter is in a pinch we don't hesitate to lend a hand. We each depend on each other for our safe return home and if needed risk our lives (often without a second thought) to protect another firefighter from harm. That is WAY COOL!

When I am too old to fight fire...and I can see that day on the horizon...the things I will still cherish the most from my years of smoke eatin are the other firefighters I met and worked alongside and the fact that it felt like more than just a team or group. More than just esprit de corps or camaraderie or tradition. We care about each other like family. It feels rare and special. And it IS!!!
"Nuff" said.


06/17 Pyrojournalism:

-- http://www.arizonarepublic.com/arizona/articles/0617fire17.phpl


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The Abs here at theysaid wish that all the Dads out there have a wonderful Father's Day. We appreciate what you do for your families and for your country.

06/17 hey ab and all,

peter pan ( if thats your real name !!! ), you nailed it on the head !!!! truer words have never been spoken. one of these days we all in the wildfire world will understand that we are here for the same thing, to fight wildfire !!!! its not real complicated is it? i still say its management that is the real problem. doesnt matter if its fed, state or other. i have been crapped on by the best! i have been told i am too old for a job, i have been told that i dont have the experience, i dont care. i will keep plugging away til i get what i think i should.

as far as the damn type crew 1 and 2 crews, i think its a blast ! can we co-exist? of course we can. the breaking chops of one to another is all in good fun as far as i am concerned. we are in a nasty buisness. ya got to have a sence of humor to go day after day in the smoke, heat and lousy food that we all endure.

as far as the rotorheads, well that speaks for itself. i took the helitack course. i didnt get fed too well. i ended up buying alot of the drinks ( they owe me !! ) but i learned that their job isnt that easy. to stand under a damn object hovering 6 ft over your head is just plain nuts. but its their job and so be it.

the real nasty job has to be the folks who work in the medical tent. i would rather do mop-up for 3 weeks straight the listen to someone whine about their feet !!!!! now thats nasty !!!!! working on ones feet ! dont get me wrong, they are the best, but how can they go home and say " boy we kicked that fires ass today !! " . they are the ones we really need to thank for sure !!!!

well its been a while since i rambled on here so i better go. be safe out there. the time bomb is ticking. we have been on a few small fires. i think its teasing us ! the crap will hit the fan soon !! good luck and hope to see some of you this summer in northern nevada !!!

BC Davis

06/16 Ab,

Can you put these pics next to heliheaven, same place, same trailer, was there 1999 and 2000. They are pictures of when it was known as Lake City air tanker base (FL).

The air tanker base was put in the lowest part of the airport and when there was a heavy downpour, all the water from the tarmac drained there. The next year the tanker base was relocated to a higher spot and the helibase was moved to where it flooded.

The air tanker base manager got a big grin when I mentioned the flood from last year and putting the helibase there. I found a whole lot of humor in it also and could not resist sharing this when Jim called it heaven. Didge ya'all happens to get yo feet wet Jim?


I put them on heli4. Ab.

06/16 All I have to say as a veteran helitack crewmemeber:

We all make choices!


06/16 Clarification Re the Cerro Grande Report:
For those of you sending links to the same pdf file "Cerro Grande Prescribed Fire, Board of Inquiry Final Report", this is the same document that BLM Bob linked to a few days ago. The report is dated February 26, 2001 but didn't seem to appear until last week. Kelly e-mailed NPS asking for clarification regarding the "latest" report.

D'Amico at NPS replied as follows: "The report dated Feb 26 is the report that was released this past week. Although the report was completed on 2/26, it went through internal review and was not released until June 12."

That should be the final word on that. Maybe there is some additional internal memo, but like BLM Bob, I haven't been able to find it on the web. Thanks Kelly and everyone else for getting clarification on this. When I have time, I'll put a link to this report that can be accessed through either the wlf Site Map (that has lots of good reports on it) or the Archives Page (the Documents Worth Reading portion, which is due for an update soon...)

While you're cruising the wlf.com website, check out the additions to the wallpaper collection and the photo change on the main page. Thanks photo contributors. You make the photo collection the great resource it is for the fire community and the public. There have been some nice additions lately and lots of people wanting to use photos for training, as well as for their wallpaper and school projects.


06/16 Non Whiner or anyone else that might be able to help.

Q. Where can a state employee with 20 years of fire experience go to challenge or change the maximum entry age limit for primary fire? The situation is this, a couple of forests are looking hard at my experience and like what they see, but can't figure out how to employ me. I don't give a rip about retirement benefits, I just want to continue fighting fire. Hopefully the next 20 years with the feds. Anyone have any ideas?


06/16 Congrats to the man who made the point that the whiners need to stop and to AB from his comments about in-yer-face competition between crews...healthy competition makes the crews go round. I have seen Type 1 crews who were excellent and type 1 crews who I wondered how they made it to the drop off points.. the same goes with Type 2 crews.. it is the leadership presented and the willingness of those to follow that makes the difference. As for the whiners...well ..if it is prolonged and continues for the season then perhaps those whiners need to look for another line of work.. obviously they aren't happy and bring DOWN morale. Fire fighting isn't for everyone and definately not for whiners. I have been fighting wildland fires since 1976 and still at it and whiners don't return on my crews... I had enough problems bringing everyone home in one piece without adding whiners to list of problems.

As for the in-yer-face competition...it is a good motivator and every crew should be proud of the accomplishments and reputation and aaas long as expressed in positive way I say go for it! We are all working towards the same goal.. getting the fire out with no injuries. I saw some very memorable "competition" on the Hunter liggett fire in 1991 (if memory serves me right).. crews did an excellent task and the overhead team was probably amazed at how the competition led to the fires containment... crews got to assignments in record time, cut some strong line that held and had a great time in camp ribbing each other about line produced . This went on between the type 1 and type 2 crews as well as with in the types.. all went well.

Congrats on this site ("they Said")

sign me as well worn but not ut of the picture yet.

Welcome well worn and thanks for the congrats. Ab.

06/16 Done-in, thanks for your post about Richard Aguilar.

Okay, about type one versus two, and whiners and snivelers, etcetera. I was on green and red engines and on class I and II hand crews in three regions. I was on fires alongside helitack people and smokejumpers, volunteers, urban fire crews, convicts, I saw 'em all. At the end of it what comes back to me is something I heard on my first- ever fire. I was a GS-2 district smoke chaser in R-6, all young and starry eyed about heroes from the sky. A wise smokejumper, leaning on his shovel, spit and said, "it's all the same when you get on the ground, buddy..."

I guess maybe I finally learned the truth of that, what that meant. I think of crew comparisons much differently now than I did then. I'll illustrate part of it this way: imagine there is a good seasoned hotshot crew whose leader takes an FMO job on another forest. A new super comes in and his aggressively immature leadership style initiates massive turnover. Now you have a hotshot crew that, when the next season rolls around, is packed with people with little experience, and/or who don't know each other, and the leadership is in turmoil. Imagine the hotshot crew arrives at a fire along with a class II crew whose leadership really has it together, who have been together in a good program for a while, and on the Class II crew there are some experienced hands, and the crew has good morale. Theoretically, which should be entrusted to fire that tricky west flank--the hotshot crew, or the Class II crew? Is there a right answer to that question?

The point is, whatever is true about a hotshot crew is also true about any other crew. Inside a crew the quality of human experience is going to be a reflection of leadership and that is going to reflect again in crew retention and in the ability of the crew to undertake assignments. Just so I remember to say it: I've seen a few CDF con crews that were every bit the equal of a typical Forest Service hotshot crew, in terms of the quality of their work, no doubt. And I was damned glad to see them show up.

I don't much care for comparisons but I've heard a lot. When I worked for CDF they sneered about the Forest Service. When I worked for The Forest Service they reviled CDF. Every other agency looked down on BLM. Crews from the same agency dumped on each other. Crew members put down people on their own crews. In this subculture of wildland fire a lot of feeling is driven by secret fears of failure: somebody has to be a loser and it ain't gonna be me. So you help find somebody else to pin it on. The game has been played forever. I've played it. its a tradition, but its a stupid, hurtful tradition. What crew is better? We might as well be asking who was better: El Cariso at one fire with twelve dead or Prineville at another fire with nine dead. Everybody who has done this work has felt the whole world and all the questions in it narrow down to the next intake of painful, choking, vomit breath; narrowed to just one more lurch up a slippery fifty percent talus slope; narrowed to just one more back-bent rubber-armed grub of that pulaski. Everybody who has ever done this work knows what it feels like when your face is covered with snot, you're blind in hot smoke, stumbling in the stobs, runnin for your life. Everybody knows that voice in your head that says at some point, you're too weak, you're not going to make it, you can't do this anymore, and instead you keep going long, long, after any sane, reasonable, citizen would have quit and gone home. Everybody who has done this work can recall those moments when there is nothing now but the world of fire and there are no more questions about what time it is, what kind of meat was that, are we on overtime yet, aren't we great, shouldn't I be a squad boss, and doesn't that other crew suck. Money, jobs, status, none of it means anything anymore. All that is left is your breath, and the faith, and the will, and the heart, and the love that it takes to put everything you are on a fire line.

Take it from an old guy. The shared experiences are the ones that are important. The ones that divide us are the delusions. And saying such and such crew or agency sucks only reflects the historic powerlessness and widespread Lack of solidarity among federal and state wildland firefighters. If you don't like being at the mercy of random social policy experimentation consider that the first steps to gaining the keys to political influence and national recognition come from respecting the unique collective worthiness of all your brothers and sisters in fire. Be nice to each other 'cause theres something in it for everybody.

(but I am not now, nor have I ever been, a sniveling rotorhead).
--Peter Pan

06/15 Here's another photo for the gallery.

It's a pix of a OAS-contract SEAT making a drop at a recent fire dept training in South Dakota. That hydraulic gate makes all the difference in the world in delivering an effective pattern with a smaller plane.

Jim "Hurricane"

I put it on the AirTanker2 page. Ab.

06/15 Helitack Heaven in Florida

Photo posted on Heli4. Ab.

06/15 Here are some prescribed burning pics from the mendocino, this last spring.
And Yes, they were under control................


Very nice flamage and a double column. Photo posted on Fire5. (Sometimes I feel like a 4th grader with my baseball trading cards.) Ab.

06/15 Here are some photos that I have taken on our unit. Hope folks will enjoy if you decide to use them.

Really enjoy your site.

Welcome JB. Nice photos of ping pong balls being dropped from a helo and I presume a Rx burn incorporating ping pong balls. Please send in some more info on the photo locations and situations. What's the scoop on the helo and the cabin? I see it's on the Cherokee NF, that must be TN? We don't have so many photos from R8 and these are nice ones. I put them up on the Heli3 and Heli4 Pages. Ab.

06/15 Here's a picture I took the day after the Big incident was really cooking.

I am going to try to get some pictures that were taken on Saturday the 2 of June, the day it started...

Dennis R5

That would be nice. Is that photo taken from Big Flat? I put it on the Fire5 Page. Ab.

06/15 Updated the Jobs Page, and Series 462 and Series 455. Ab.
06/15 More on the Leroux Fire. Link from Firescribe:


06/15 Lucky,

You might want to read p. 45 of that document I referenced, which only becamse available on 6/14. It's the "conclusions" page and the final paragraph says; "While the Board did find errors in judgement, it also finds that the planning and implementation actions of the principals were not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable in light of the information they had prior to the burn annd were in compliance with (blah, blah, blah)."

But you may be talking about the NPS memo "Response to Cerro Grande Board of Inquiry Report." I've got a faxed copy and you've summarized it pretty well. I tried looking around for a web copy, but no luck so far.

I hear many interesting rumors about the report and the response.

And just to keep the joke thig going:
Q. How does a smokejumper change a light bulb?
A. They just grab ahold it and the entre world revolves around them.


06/15 Hi Ab (real or other wise!),

Well it finally happened. Engineer Emmett promoted to Captain in CDF. This all came about rather quickly, we are loosing folks to retirement faster than engineers can become available to promote. 200 of us got on the captains list and to date I think 160 or so have exchanged yellow hats for red ones. By the way, this list has been out for about 2 weeks!!

Wish me luck, it looks like I picked a good year to promote, I think fire season will be a good one this year!!
Stay safe out there!!
Captain Emmett

Congrats Emmett. I hope you, too, have a good safe season. Ab.

06/15 Mike,

Abit of clarification. White boots are not made by Drews or Nicks. Drew's sells Whites. Nicks are another brand of boot manufacturer. White Boot Inc. is located in Spokane. 1-800-541-3786. Can be reached by e-mail at whites@whiteboots.net. Have owned three pair of custom builts since 1973. Will probably cost you around $300 or better if you have them custom fit rather than off the shelf. Drew's can fit you at their store or you can get instructions from Whites themselves.

If you have a normal foot you may find them off the shelf at Drew's or anyone else that might carry them. Make sure you wear the same type socks you will wear with the boots in everyday use. Also, make sure they fit snug enough to be somewhat uncomfortable. THEY WILL STRETCH! If you have a high arch and narrow lower leg like I do, they are worth the extra cost for the custom fit. If you are going to fight wildland fires, do not scimp on your boots. There is a big difference in the long run between a low end boot ($100-150) and a high end boot ($250-300+) When your living is made on your feet such as wildland fire fighting, you will be glad you spent the extra dollars. Have never regretted one dime spent on good boots.

Break them in by filling them with water and letting them set overnight. Wear them the next day till they dry out and they will form to your foot. "White Bite" can come even after broken in. Especially if you only wear one pair of socks. Best to wear cotton socks with thick wool socks over them.

Once you buy a good pair of boots, take care of your investment. Follow the manufacturers recommendation for care and upkeep. When I was a smokejumper, many of us would thoroughly clean and oil them between fires. If you do not take care of them, heat from mopup and dirt will ruin them in no time at all. My first pair of boots were a $100 pair of Westco's back in 1970 (Alot of money back then). Did not oil them and they lasted less than a year. First pair of Whites cost $175 for customs.

Enough of this. Everyone has an opinion on how to take care of their boots. This is my opinions from 30 years of pursuing 'The Passion".


06/15 Hey Bob.

Thanks for the link but I already saw that one. There have been a few. I'm talking about a new report from a different board. It just came out about 3 days ago. The new one exonerates all park service personel. Blamed it all on incorrect indices that day. But it's nobody's fault.

I cant seem to find the new one. It dosen't even say what agency it was from. (Wasn't nps or gsa this time)

On another subject, All this griping about helitack is really getting me down. Helitack isn't the cakewalk people think. Why I remember one time, I ate so much lobster for lunch that I got a tummy ache and had to lay down for a while. Or sometimes when you drink an ice cold soda too fast, you get a head ache. Or your motel dosen't even have cable. It can be hell out there.


06/14 Wildland Dispatch Person,

I think the biggest whiners and complainers are those that write into this site. They complain about entry age into a primary fire position, mandatory retirement age, inefficient hiring systems, taking the pack test, how bad Type 2 crews are, how elitist Type 1 crews are, they whine about this crew being better than that crew, and a plethora of other things.

Whining and complaining does nothing to change the system or make things better. I suggest all you whiners and complainers get involved at every level of your organization and come up with real solutions.

Ms. Firedog, If you are managing a helicopter that is being called a "limited" helicopter it should be staffed appropriately and you should not be doing overhead recons and crew shuttles. That is one of the limitations that the Region, Area, or State has accepted when they decide to call it a "limited use helicopter".

Non Whiner

Tongue firmly in cheek, Original Ab replies that he wasn't aware the majority of the posters on "They Said It" were helitack members.

Kidding, just kidding! Stop being so serious for a moment and enjoy the highly spirited, in-yer-face competitive attitude. Next best thing to being on a fire I've observed, is firefighters laughing at each other and themselves. Most of us know how illogical our lives and careers are.

06/14 Ab the Original,

You are CORRECT! Heliwhiners win hands down. I tell people that the noise the hear each morning coming from the helibase is not the ships warming up, but the Helitac crew calling for more: ice-lunches-water-soda-shade....... Did you get to Big Bar two years ago when the helibase was above the Ranger Station, next to the house with a pool? (that they had an open invitation to use) From the main camp it looked like the base was on a bare knob, but once up at the site it was bordered by large oaks and pine, the crew was staked out in the shade, the ships grounded by the inversion and all the while they were on the clock for at least 12 hours a day. If they could have figured out how to have their meals hot canned, I think they still would be there!

No fires in the wet NW yet, I am getting calls for some resources but it is damn hard to shake many people loose, I just tell them that "sucks to be you, the request was for Hawaii." You need to make your plans for the R-6 dispatchers work shop now, it is going to be held in Seaside OR in late March.


06/14 I am a Wildland firefighter in PA and I enjoy reading this column but I am really concerned about the bickering going on about PA volunteer wildland firefighters and DCNR. I consider myself proud, to be part of the firefighting community and welcome the chance to use my skills, education and training that I received from DCNR. I have taken this and created a Specialized Wildfire crew to serve my community. We receive a tremendous about of support from DCNR even though we are based from a volunteer fire department. The members on my crew are not in it for money but to do the job of suppression from initial attack to mop-up, there are times that we become frustrated with some of the policies that the state has but remember they are mandated to be responsible for the management of the forest and forest fires. I don't have a problem with how much money they get paid it is their job. Remember that warden crews are VOLUNTEER. last I looked it met doing things without compensation. I consider compensation knowing that my crew had a impact in suppressing the fire yet it nice if you do get some monetary compensation every bit helps but that shouldn't be the only reason that you are out there. I have given up numerous hours, days, weeks at my job to do something I love to do. My family also has to endure this also. I guess if you want the same compensation as DCNR personnel get a job with them, I sorry that you feel the way you do there are better ways to change the system, than whining about it. Try writing a letter to DCNR, or organizing a caucus to get things changed. Contact your local District Forester. As what went on at this year camp the newbies got a good taste of reality of what can happen out of state on details. I wish that it could have been done the last several years but don't knock DCNR they are trying to improve the system, but we have no idea what constraints they are under, also they have to meet the federal standards in training. Also about Fire shelters in PA. Tell me the last time you heard about someone being burned over ? Also if you or your crew are trained and remember the 18 watch out situations and 10 Standard Fire Orders this reduces the chances for things to happen. Also are you telling me that volunteer firefighters are not PROFESSIONAL I beg to differ what separates volunteer from career is a pay check this doesn't mean they are not PROFESSIONAL. You seem to be an angry person with out a plan of action except bashing anyone, anything, anywhere you would be better of directing your attention to gain support not piss people off. Well I am still proud to be a professional volunteer wildland firefighter that well answer the call anytime, anywhere, anyday.

Proud Volunteer in PA

06/14 The Leroux fire north of Flagstaff is burning as I write this... 1240+ acres burned as of this morning, est. 50% contained. Saw the Wolf Creek Hotshots, from Oregon, passing through town earlier today on their way to the fire. 760 other personnel already on the fire as of this morning.

And wouldn't you know it, but I'm sitting here typing this and not on the fire (grumble grumble). Just spent the spring on a fire crew in northern Minnesota and loved it - my first, and hopefully not last - wildland fire job. When I got back I called the local USFS to ask if they kept lists of casuals so I could get on some federal fires this summer, and was told they did not. Is this true? Did the casual firefighter program get scrapped, or just locally, or what?

I've been able to think of little else since getting back except getting back out on more fires - did that happen to any of you when you were rookies? :)

Got some great photos from Minnesota, and some (at a distance) of the Leroux fire in Arizona including slurry bomber drops. Will have them up on the web as soon as they are scanned. We also went across the Canadian border once and worked with the Manitoba Forestry - have some photos of them too.

Hmm, how should I sign this?
"Bum Pup" if it's not already in use.

06/14 speaking of whiners:

has anyone with the fs heard about a contractor in reg 6 filing contract complaints cuz his company wasn't awarded a crew contract for a forest he has never held a contract with? the fs at leastdoes one thing right with their contracts, cost isn't the defining item. if they think that if they pay alittle more to their exisitng contractor because he provides a level of service that they know the other contractor out there can provide, shouldn't that company be paid better? not according to the whiner in oregon. he provides a service that is ok at best and feels he should have the contract. I feel that it's like buying a car, why settle for a hyundai when you can afford a mercades!!


p.s. does anyone ever have anything good to say about or-cal?

06/14 To Lucky, here's the (not-too-hard-to-find) CG Board of Review report: www.fire.nps.gov/fireinfo/cerrogrande/reports/Board_report-feb26final.pdf

To County Rover, You're a bit off on your description of White's boots. White's is the *original* boot company that made the design that Drew's and Nick's imitated: www.whitesboots.com The first, the best - accept no substitute ;^)

To all: Q. What's the difference between the helicopter and the helitack crew?
A. At the end of the day, the helicopter stops whining.

Ex-rotorhead BLM Bob

06/14 Hey there folks.

Here's a link to the most recent report (6-12-01) on last years Los alamos fire: Cerro Grande fire. I had no luck finding a copy of the report itself. Perhaps it's not yet on the net.

Being an old rotor head myself, I'll have to agree that they do win the whinning prize. Which reminds me of a couple of old jokes.

What do you call 10 smokejumpers in a cellar?
A whine cellar.

What does a hotshot do when there's a grease fire in the kitchen?
Backfires the living room.


06/14 Mike,

Whatever you do don't buy Danners. I used to get them in the early 70's when they specialized in work boots. As soon as they went to making hiking boots the workboots became junk. Stick with the Redwings for now. Whites can be bought at several companies but alot of Northwest folks go through Drew's out of Klamath Falls. They are online at drewsboots.com. They have alot of variety and cater to firefighters. some of the brands they carry are Whites, Nicks, Westco (my personal favorite), and their own models which are very reasonably priced. Good luck!!


06/14 Mike,

Whites are a style of boots made by two companies, Drew's and Nick's. They are for the most part, custom made to your foot. I bought mine from Drew's, I think they are in Oregon, and they are a pleasure to do business with. There are many different styles and options to choose from. Check out there web site and look under firefighting boots; they make every other type of boot imaginable. There are about 7 or 8 to choose from. I've heard they are a pain to break in (commonly referred to as "White bite"), but I had no problem with mine. Like I mention before, they will cost ya a couple hundred or more and there might be a backorder because of the time of year it is. But check 'em out there worth it. www.drew'sboots.com

County Rover

06/14 Original Ab.
Hey guy. Your brethren out east need some help. We are committed to starting a 20 person crew that will grow to become a fully qualified Hotshot crew. This obviously will take a minimum of two years, but we've gotta start. The location for the crew will be at the Midewin Tallgrass Prairie located west of Chicago near Joliet. Midewin just formed a few years back and was formely a military ordinance base (building and testing weapons). Anyhow there's enough smoke that I don't need to blow anymore so here's the skinny. At this moment, there is an empty field with water and electric service. Contracting has procurred an "office" consisting of a doublewide trailer. Phones, computers, desks etc are all on order. Old bunkers will serve as temporary warehousing. Vehicles are being leased, equipment bought. That leaves personnel........ We are looking for 7 permanent employees including a crew supt., and assistant, crew bosses, squad bosses and the remaining 13 seasonal firefighters. So far we have one position filled. But hey! We've got until July 1 to get this up and running. We'll consider qualified detailers, negotiating as needed. Why should someone come to Illinois to be a firefighter???? Think of the opportunity to be there at the start of a new crew, pick it, train and equip it, and lead it. Not every day the chance to be a pioneer comes along. Oh by the way, the crew will need a name too, and a logo.

Here's where I can use some help. I've been involved in the evaluation of location, and game plan for implementation, and I'm hanging in there on my own trying to help in the recruitment. So......give me some ideas or names of folks that could be persuaded to take on this type of challenge. Again, we want this crew up and running this summer, and spending the bulk of their time on going fires.

Not much to ask.
Old Fire Guy

06/14 County Rover,

Thanks for the advice, and also Jim "Hurricane", thanks for the words of wisdom. I did check the Redwing Loggers, and I can get a pair of them, but what are these "Whites" you speak of? Also, at Scheel's, they said a pair of Danners w/o insulation would be their best idea. I'm still searching around and could use those numbers if you could give them. Thanks alot again.


06/14 Original Ab,

I agree that Helitack is right up there with Hot Shots and DISPATCHERS, but anyone who whines about supporting the folks in the field or on the line needs a good ass whipping. How Big a Boy are Ya!


Jim, if you're thinkin' of takin' on THE ORIGINAL, I wouldn't. Ya won't win! Ab.

06/13 Hi Wildland dispatch Person ,

This is the "old" Ab responding personally, I just had to answer with my opinion. There isn't any doubt in my mind, it's a slam-dunk! It isn't hotshot crews, nor engine folk, they only whine when they ain't a go'in. The number one, highest maintenance resource I've ever had the pleasure to meet and work closely with is HELITACK!

They whine when they aren't dispatched, they whine when they are dispatched, then get cancelled. They call from their comfy easy chairs at the fire helibase and whine about not getting enough hours, they whine about getting too many hours. They whine about rotating and trasporting pilots, crewmembers, mechanics, or fuel tender personnel. They whine about not flying, they whine about flying too much, the pilots being overworked, the pilots being overworked They whine about their cases of sodas in the cooler not having enough ice, they whine if they have to walk too far to the porta-potty, they whine if the porta-potty is too close. They whine if they don't get to stay in motels, they whine if they have to drive too far to a motel. There's more whining if there aren't enough sack lunches to high-grade or if their shade on the helitender fades by the afternoon. There really ain't no end to it.

Haw haw haw! As you can tell from my early pics and comments on the site, I loved being in helitack, but I was always a little embarrassed of all the whining.

Old Ab.

Hey Ab, did you want me to post this or was I just supposed to forward it? Ab. (but not the original, obviously!)

06/13 Here's a Leroux fire slideshow including shots by Tim Koors (Arizona Republic), the photographer travelling with the Globe Hotshots.

-- www.azcentral.com/slideshow

Here's another, Judd Slivka and Tim Koors reports:

-- www.azcentral.com/news


06/13 Peter Pan:

Agular is or was working for Eagle Pass Reforestation out of Medford, Or. He drives a school bus the rest of the year. All of this controversey over crew types and ability leads me to say that a crew is only as good as the crew boss. I was mad the last time I wrote this site about Nevada. The services just have to quit making incompetent people because of personel friendship, affirmative action, or job titles accredited firemen. All those who are groaning about the age barriers just have to suck it up and get into other jobs in wage grade or timber/recreation in a fire friendly environment.

Done In to Redone like the mythical Phoenix arisen from the ashes.

06/13 Here's a photo:

Pine fire on the Modoc NF, 1999. Tanker 25 making an intentional low drop to avoid a nearby creek. All personnel had been notified and a dry run was made first.


Good one. I put it on the AirTankers 2 Page. Ab.

06/13 Ab,

A few weeks ago there were several highly charged posts discussing who were the better crews, type 1 or type 2? The people who said that Hot Shots who were the best of the best sounded a little biased, as did those who held up the type 2 crews as being "just as good."

As a new dispatcher and dealing with all sorts of crews, engines and overhead - as we start an early fire season, I have one question, who are the biggest whiners? Over the past few days I have been on the receiving end of some world class whining. If there was a whiners academy award, I have few nominations. I have my own thoughts on this one. Any one have any nominations?

Wildland dispatch Person

06/12 I was a helicopter manager in Florida during the change from full modules on the Type 2's to manager plus one, under the IHOG amendment. For those behind on the IHOG changes, this happened in late May. This particular change was not handled very well by FICC in that it was not thought out and initially all FICC did is dump more worries on the various helibase managers (how many abandoned rental cars can a helibase manager manage?). Presumably, support for both the helicopter managers and helibase managers has improved since the initial changes were implemented.

I've worked the manager plus one deal in Texas, where at least on my helibase no one was ever expected to stay more than a shift or two on IA. The extended IA expected in Florida requires more support if the modules don't have enough crew to also drive a chase vehicle. There are times when a manager does not want to have to depend on the contractor for a ride out of the woods. Even when it seems OK within the contractor/gov rep relationship, just how does a manager justify a cowboy double date in a contractor pickup? Who gets to skip the seat belt?

As far as the availability of resources, in Florida the 14 day limit gave me six different crew members during my two weeks (none of them from Florida). Some had minimal training and some had not worked on a helicopter for years (up to seven years, which supposedly should have resulted in a change in "qualified" status). Some appeared to never have actually hooked a bucket, most had never worked radios at a helibase, and none were helispot qualified. If I had had to do the job with just one other person, only one of the six arrived ready to brief and go, three needed a couple of days refresher, and two should have had task books in hand. Fortunately, all of them were pleasant, hard working, and had great attitudes.

Another disadvantage of the IHOG amendment answer to downsizing is that it makes the ships limited use. There seems to be no official provision to deal with the difference between troop shuttle operations and the occasional needed recon. My interpretation is that if safety and strategy require overhead recon, those overhead are crew members required for the mission. Other managers may feel differently (particularly the managers who cannot grasp the difference between "limited" and "restricted").

In any case, I encourage my fellow Westerners to try out an assignment in R8. Don't let the hospitality and relaxed atmosphere fool you. There is plenty to learn in the land of flammable green, and the people who live and fight fire there have a lot of wisdom to share.

Ms. Firedog

06/12 Mike,

I guess the best advice I could give you is "you pay what you get for." (Is that how the old saying goes? Looks funny on paper.) Anyways, cheap boots will give you cheap results. Your feet in most cases are your only transportation around most of a fire area. They are your life! If you can't walk because your feet are bloody, bruised, and blistered you're out of commission and friggin' miserable, trust me from personal experience. If you plan to do this for more than one season don't be afraid to drop some bucks on boots. My "Whites" are one of the best investments I have ever made! After you get them broke in, they are like wearing slippers. They are pricey ($200-$300) depending on the style, but you'll thank yourself in the end; so will your feet. I had to eat Ramen noodles for a couple weeks after, but it was worth it. I''ll give you some phone #'s if you want them.

County Rover

06/12 GIS Girl If your job is limited to camp duty, working with maps and data, then moderate is fine. If you plan on getting on the line, and working with GPS's collecting data, then you should be at the arduous level.


06/12 Thanks everyone for the info.

The main reason I had the question is that GIS is currently in the technical specialist area. There is no official description in the Fed system that I know of (I work BLM) and I did not want to limit myself when on a fire. The 310-1 description on the different physical levels was very helpful. I think moderate would be sufficient and next year I'll train for arduous.

thanks again,

06/12 No new listings on the jobs page, but USA-OPM Series 462 and 455 are updated. Ab.
06/12 Peter Pan,

You're not alone, I too missed the age requirement and can not enter into a primary fire position. This is my twentieth season in fire duties for a state agency. State time does not appear to transfer to the fed system. Five years fire fighter, three as an engine leader, one year as a smokejumper on severity funds for Region 6, and the remainder as a fire warden. All that time, averaging 8 months of employment a year, and I am not reachable because I am 37. Even if the powers to be decide on changing retirement age to 57, it will not help you or me.

Can someone tell me what the retirement age is if a secondary fire position is landed?

DNR Warden

06/12 Mike;

See if you can get a pair of Redwing Loggers without the steel toe. Replace the nylon laces with rawhide laces, and make sure your boots are broke in before showing up for your first day of work at your duty station. Your supervisor will tell you how to take care of your boots. If you find that your first season of wildland firefighting is something you like, then you can move up to a more expensive, custom built boot. Good Luck!

Jim "Hurricane"

06/12 gisgirl -- f you want to read through the 310-1, go to the acronyms page, the very bottom for the link. Tiny put that on there when he was but a child.

tiny -- have a good summer!


06/12 Greetings all.

Wow, lots of complaints from the hiring process. I'm just going to say that the best things in the machine we call the Guvmint are simple.. so if there's any body out there who is revamping the hiring process or considirng it, make it simple to do, and not some drawn out bruhaha.

Okay.. now that that's cleared up.. I'm gonna be shoving off here right after Graduation (Yep, yer Pup's growin up, gradeatin hi-school and stuff (can you tell I didn't learn spelling?) and I'll be headed back up to the midst of Okanogan County again to reprise my role there as a BSA Camp counselor and the 'fire-guy' of the camp. I even got myself some new Smokey posters coming my way too... now if I could just get a better bladder bag or two I'd be all set. Something I wanted to ask you guys was what your thoughts are on the beloved hand-tool the Pulaski. My camp initiated a new policy last year that said that our mini-fire-crew was not allowed to carry any sort of axe or sharp tool. I, of course, rebuffed this because I know that the Pulaski is a good hand tool in the right hands.. so, that being the case, what would be a good way to restore my access and/or any alternatives? (Axe and Hoe come to mind, but I like stuff that's in one package.)

Thanks much y'all and have a good one for me...

Tiny, the R-6 Fire Pup

06/12 Hey. I'm hopefully a soon-to-be seasonal firefighter, but I still have to get a good/new pair of boots. There are you wildland fighters in my area to ask, so what are the best boots people have found? I have a Red Wing Shoe Store, Sheel's, and other shoe/boot stores at my disposal, I just need to know what it is I'm looking for (Idaho is my possible area of working).

Thanks for any info.


06/12 Ok, could not help but jump on the band wagon with the training and quals differences. What a pain in the #@#, why don't we get our act together and decide on the qualifications needed to do the job. I am the training officer for an interagency zone. Do you realize how many manuals and I have to look through to ensure that I am following the regulations for each qualification. Too many. The worst part being that I can not keep up with all the changes, and ensure that I am meeting each agencies standards. Quite frankly it makes me quite nervous. We have a good training program, and I hope that someday, it will not matter which agency you work for, if you go out as a HEMG, you will have all had the same training, and will have had to meet all the same requirements.

310-1, 5109.17, BLM Red Book, IHOG, ISOG, we have different requirements for doing the pack test, physicals every three years, medical professional looking over each questionnaire. Keeping up with the paperwork alone is a full time job.

I hope that the LURKERS out there are listening, and are working on the issues. We need to be consistent, and we need to make sure that the standards are stringent enough to ensure that we are sending out fully qualified folks to do the job, and do it safely.

It seems to me that we have removed some of the steps for the lower quals, ie ENOP, engine operator, we go from a squad boss to an Engine boss, except on the BLM side we have an enop task book, but it is not a recognized position anymore. We need to add a few more stepping stones in there to ensure safety. We have brought on a lot of new folks, who are minimally qualified. They need the structured steps to follow.

I would like to hear how other blended units are handling the influx of new people, and how they are keeping track of it all.

Lets hear it for full time training officers on the forests or district or zones. It is a full time job, and should not be one of the other duties as assigned. It takes up more that 25% of someones time. That is what my PD says it should take up.

Sorry for the soap box AB, but it is very frustrating, it should not matter what agency you work for, the standards should be the same.........


06/12 GisGirl,

The fitness level for any positon is listed in 310-1 for each position. The FS has new direction out in FSH 5109 that lists training and experence, over and above 310-1, for FS personnel. If you are a Fed you will have to abide by one of the two publications. If you are a State or other goverment employee you will have to abide by your local directives.


06/11 gisgirl

It's my understanding that each red card cert has its own level of physical requirement based on the requirements of the job. You needn't do the "arduous" level if you only need "moderate" to get your red card. Anyone know more about this?


06/11 As a current Forestry Firefighter and a former, now retired, National Guard aviation soldier, I have been fortunate enough to see this issue from both sides. First off let me say that military flight crews are some of the best trained aviation personnel in the world. In the US Army, basic flight training takes at least 51 weeks to complete. After that, they are mentored by very experienced pilots for quite a while before they command their own crew. If you compare the hours flown compared to the accident rate, you will find the military accident rate excellent. What even makes it better is you factor in the extreme hazardous flight environments the military is subject to every day. If you do some asking, you will more than likely find a lot of the pilots you work with on fires learned their trade in the military. Never knock the men and women in uniform, it's people like them, past , present and future that allow you and I to be able to express our views as we wish.

On the other hand, I do agree that the National Guard pilots need more fire training. The pilots in the flight company I came from received some fire behavior classes and practiced with the buckets (By the way, they were some of the best, most dedicated people I've ever known) . I don't think this is enough training. I would have to agree that they should be fire certified. The National Guard command will not agree that this is true. They will state that the time is not available to commit that many people to full fire training. They will also tell you that Firefighting is not their primary mission. They are only acting upon the orders of the Governor after he declares a state emergency exists. You see, that's when the federal money starts pouring in. The worst part of all, is not the lack of crew training, it is the involvement of military commanders who really know nothing about fires or flying. Don't worry about the flight crews, your in good hands there. Worry about the military managers. You see, the National Guard is more political than it is Military. If it's a high profile mission the golden haired boys, as we always called them, are out looking for that next news reporter so they can be seen and usually have no idea what their talking about. Its all about being seen and heard not how good you are. But, I also constantly read on this web sight how personnel are dissatisfied with the fire management on the civilian side. I really don't see a difference.

In Florida, we have some National Guard ground troops who are trained to do Mop Up work. They receive training from the Division of Forestry. It is good to have them with us. They are all volunteers and hard working . They allow us to provide better initial attack capabilities. They do a wonderful job for us.

As far as the Military taking over aviation duties, I don't think this will ever happen. I think that the states involved in fires every year have too much political pressure form private organizations for this to happen. I think this idea is just a military managers pipe dream to drum up some federal money. The bottom line is this, if they don't have time to train and firefighting is not their primary mission now, I don't see anything changing later. See ya on the fire line, be safe.


06/11 Howdy...
If y'all aren't feeling very philosophical or like reading a short essay, then you should skip this one....
In the last few weeks I've been thinking about where I was last year at about this time, and I couldn't help but think about how much of an impact this site has had on me. It's been almost a year since I officially stopped writing in as my old self, and I just had to drop y'all a line to say "hi" (more anonymous this time, though? I sincerely doubt that...).

Three years ago, when Florida was burning like crazy, I was stuck in an office of sorts after a half season as a hotshot the year before (hey, I tried it...) and I was going crazy not being tied in with the fire scene. That was my fifth year of fire obsession, and should have been my third season in fire. That's when I started cruising the web for fire stuff. And, I did get sucked back in to fire... it has that effect. Thankfully. I don't know what else I'd do with my life as I am so into this job. At that time, and since, I've asked for a lot of advice from people on this site, and have received some real gems. I've often been touched by the lengths people here will go to to help each other out, and I'm not sure I ever got to thank some of the folks who wrote to me with information and offers of help on some projects I never ended up finishing. Here I am three years later in a dream job with a look at the fire world I would never have imagined having this soon in my career. I look at this site now with an amazingly different perspective, and after keeping mostly quiet the last few months, I couldn't hold back any more...

My theory on why the web sites around the country are inconsistent is that we have a big country and a lot of agencies and personalities in the game. Each site is designed to suit its local users, although there are some efforts to standardize certain pieces. Fixing broken links and correcting some of the things mentioned on this site is often a bigger project than it appears.

Statistics on the situation report are not the official fire statistics. The sit report is a daily "snapshot" of fire activity, and the reporting units do not always correct the reported acres to match the official record. Agencies maintain official stats, but these are not easy to track down. Fire stats also exist in NIFMID and SACS, but that's about all I know about that.

I am frustrated to watch the folks on this site struggle through a convoluted hiring process, and I wish there was something that could be done to fix things, but people are doing all they can. I know there's holes... I see some big ones where most of the people I work with talk about their upcoming retirement. Mine's 20-30 years out. I can see the training gaps too--trouble getting people through it fast enough to fill engine foreman jobs, let alone to be division sups, section chiefs, and ICs. The thing is, I don't think we can fairly blame the majority of this on fire management. The US Government--Congress or whoever--has set up a seasonal employment scheme for wildland fire that does not encourage retention, fast training, or rational career paths. When you depend on a seasonal workforce for your long-term firefighting strength, with few benefits and little year-round job security (if any), the system is eventually bound to run into a stalemate. No wonder there's so much trouble this year, but I think the problem lies within the system, not with any specific management style. Restructuring the interagency fire organization, the seasonal workforce, the pay plan, the series, or any number of other things may be effective solutions. But, I think it's up to us to get in there and do it. I've had one heck of a learning experience here, and seen that any group of people with crazy ideas can go a long way in this business. It's impressive. So I guess my point is, although it's frustrating from many angles (been there), there is some really really cool good stuff going on. Guess you'll have to take my word for it, but I will tell you that I watch this site for input on how well I'm doing my job. I guess it's too hard for me to stay anonymous on this site anyway with people who know me already. Although I don't agree with all of the things on this board, I often depend on it as a heads-up to what's stirring out yonder. And, I do miss being a regular part of this group, even though I just don't have time to write in when I'd like to (see, these long letters make up for many short ones... it all works out...). Thanks as always to all y'all for the news links, questions, info, and inspiration.
Be safe-

-a crazy idealist attempting to stay that way
PS--to FOBSIF... I liked your advice to Tim. It reminds me of why I started following this board in the first place.

06/11 Oh well, my panties are all in a bunch again, and my mind is tangled up with questions. I'd cut my right arm off and eat it if that would get me into a permanent wildland fire position but I missed the age cut-off eligibility by, I'm not exactly sure, maybe three years. I guess if I'd seen this job windfall coming I would have, should have, stayed where I was at some point, and become the 15 year seasonal wonder, but who knew. We were all sort of expendible, there seemed to be no future in that, and I tried to find something better. Snort.

I had six seasons with USFS in district initial attack hand crew, engines, Hot Shots, last red card qualification squad boss; two seasons with CDF; one season with BLM in cadastral survey, one season with the California Conservation Corps as a counselor, three seasons with a nonprofit doing environmental resoration and fuels management. I made an attempt at starting my own business manufacturing wildland fire protection systems for the urban interface, and finally I had three years of volunteer management work in groundwater remediation. It was just one long trail of experimental programs, force reductions, budget cuts, and in the end I literally had to give my services away. Since this hiring frenzy has been going on, though, its got me dreaming again... I've been wondering about non-fire technician openings with federal land management agencies. Anybody know if there are those jobs, how I find out about them, and how somebody like me could get one? Also, anybody know where Richard Aguilar ended up after Wolf Creek, and what he's up to these days, and why there isn't a National Interagency Ground Pounders Association or a National Engine Slug Association?

signed, peter pan

06/11 Folks: In ICS, "types" of anything (engines, crews, helicopters, fires, IMT's, etc.) are referred to by the Arabaic number, not a Roman numeral (i.e., Type 1, Type 2 NOT Type I, Type II); that's why your Red Card says OSC2 instead of OSCII. Just thought I'd get that out there for ya since one of the main componets of ICS is "common terminology." Have a good, safe season.


06/11 Ab
Here are a couple of pictures that i took last year. You can put them in your pictures pages if you want.

Tanker 25 P-3 is on the Moccasin Mt fire Piute Indian Reservation Northern Arizona. July 2000.
The next one is Tanker 151 DC-4 at the Pine Hollow fire Grand Staircase National Monument, Southern Utah, 2000.
Tanker 130 is a C-130 on the Cable Mountain fire, Zion National Park Southern Utah, 2000.
Helicopter 7PA Papillon Helicopers Rod the pilot, bucket drop(s) Simpkin Springs fire Dixie National Forest, Sept 2000.

Earl L., UT fireguy

Thanks Earl. Nice. Howd'ya get the closeup of the tanker and mud? I put them on the AirTankers 2 and the Helicopters 3Pages. Ab.

06/11 LVCDOG

My My My, as Yogi Berra once said "it ain't over till its over"

The IHOG has/is being changed to ALLOW Type II helicopters to be placed in "Limited Use Category" Manager plus one, National Guard helicopters will NOT be required to have a civilian manager, Physical requirements for managing a Type I or II restricted helicopter will be lowered. More to come via agency directives.

The bottom line is that as resources become rarer IMT's will get creative once again and become more and more mission driven. The more mission driven incidents occur, the more politicians and fire hangers on start to make policy.


06/11 Just an FYI on the Ca. Nat. Guard program in R-5.

The CNG utilizes CH-47 (Chinook) and UH-60 (Blackhawk) helicopters in R5 for fire suppression as well as other disasters in California. The aircraft are approved Standard Category through the USFS and CDF. On board the A/C is a qualified USFS or CDF manager that fly's with the aircraft as part of the crew during the fire mission. These managers are either helicopter coord. or ATGS certified. This allows safe coordination on fires with Air Attack and the folks on the ground. You can speak fire talk to the military helicopters because you have a firefighter onboard the aircraft. Prior to putting these aviation technical experts in the aircraft the military had some minor problems understanding tactics and who was playing in the aerial arena. Ie dropping on backfires or islands burning out. So if you are working with a Calif. Nat. Guard helicopter on a fire don't be afraid to give us a call and line us out on what you want. We are here to serve the ground pounders and provide a safe/effective service.

Ray C.

06/11 I'm writing in response to a few things I've read in the "THEY SAID" column.

First of all you guys in PA that think you can fight fire for FREE need to head to your deployment zones, (some call them safety zones but I have rarely seen a so called safety zone that hadn't been burned over) and deploy your fire shelter, (if you even carry one) and STAY THERE!!!!!!!! What is wrong with wanting to be paid? Do you consider your self a professional? Any professional I know gets paid and paid well. Take for example the NFL or Major League Baseball. Hell they love the game so I guess they should just play for the glory. Look at Lawyers and Doctors they even admit that they are "PRACTICING" either medicine or law but they are compensated. Wildland firefighting is a whole different ball game than structural firefighting. You don't fight a structure fire for 15 - 45 days, you don't spend every hour of your summer missing your family wondering when you'll get to a phone and at least be able to call, to hear your childrens voices, to talk to your wife and she says your check was short because 80 hrs of overtime didn't make it to direct deposit.

I love fightin fire but in wildland were not talkin about Ole Joe's house down the street burning... we're talking about Initial attacks and if that doesn't get it we go to a type 3 Incident or maybe a 2 or 1. Have you ever been on an extended attack? and you think we should quit bitchin?

Oh and who was talking about the type 1 and type 2 crew commoradity? Do you actually believe that the two do the same thing? Well have I got news for you. Your head is stuck in the cumulus nimbus, and you must hang out at the station way too much. Have you ever been on a Type 1 crew ? no I mean a HOTSHOT CREW, a real crew. Until you have don't ever say that again. I guess we should just call any crew with transportation, radio's and tools Hotshot crews. That way nobody's feelings would be hurt. We could all hold hands and skip down the fireline wouldn't that be nice? IN YOUR DREAMS. and I hope not in my lifetime just shoot me if it really happens. Oh what am I talking about it is already happening because people like you think we all do the same job -- bullcrap!!! What about Helitack? do they do the same thing or smokejumpers or dispatchers huh ? I can't here you. And another thing you better watch yourself while your racing for the nozzle on the "attack line" because that over aggressiveness combined with ignorance and indiffernce is what gets people killed. Let me just say that In wildland firefighting there are many resources with the same goal but we do not do the same job. It takes us all, working together to achieve the goals of the IC kinda like a "prepositioned chess game".

I am not fighting fire any more because I can't justify the time spent away from home. I love it but cannot afford it. You see you can play Billy Bad Ass somewhere else. You see on march 24 ,1998 I had a wife and three cildren ready to go for season # 8 but that night my life changed forever. Our seven year old daughter was hit by a car and she passed away. Now tell me again that we need to quit bitchin about money. Thats what it all comes down to, what is your time worth? See for me I would love to have all the time back that I spent out on the line for mere pennies. I could have worked a 9 to 5 like the rest of the world and spent more time with my family, maybe I could have gotten to know them a little better. Now I am torn because I love fightin fire and I love my family. I don't know how you decide. So now I keep in touch with a few dear friends and family and live the fire life vicariously through them and my computer. And you better not let them hear you say there is no difference. We all do the same thing. Have some pride.

Sorry if I offended anyone but you pissed me off.

P.S. If you really want to fight fire come out west, Region 5 is looking for a few good men ...or women

06/10 Norcal Tom and Jim,

The current requirements for Helicopter Manager in the 310-1 does list ICT4 as a requirement. The training for ICT4 includes Single Resource Boss as a requirement. The IHOG mandates all of the required 310-1 training and most of the suggested training courses to work from FFT2 to ICT4.

This past winter, the current IHOG work group went through proposed changes that were both politically and operationally driven. There were several who stood up to oppose the politacally driven changes. This included a proposal to allow Military Crew Chiefs to manage helicopters on Federal fires, a proposal to allw project helicopter managers who have no fire background to manage restricted catagory helicopters on fires, a proposal to change the pack test requirements for those people managing restricted catagory helicopters from arduous to the moderate level, and a proposal to allow 1 fully qualified manager to manage 2 restricted catagory helicopters. The only proposal that made it through the workgroup was to allow 1 manager to manage more than 1 helicopter as long as a second manager ordered and the same restrictions are in place as they were last summer. The Forest Service and the DOI aviation policy folks have put out interim guidance to allow this practice until the revised IHOG is published.

The current IHOG working Group is comprised of Helicopter Managers, FS Helicopter Operations Specialists, Pilots, and Aviation Training Specialists. They do not want to bend to the political needs of the agencies, but want to make things safer and more efficient for everyone using helicopters in teir operation. If you have any input or changes, contact your ageny rep on the workgroup, he will support changes if they are appropriate.


06/10 NorCal Tom

Number one is that Rich and I were only two of the many folks who constructed the original IHOG. The current version is based upon years of field use and input from hundreds of field going users from all agencies. BTW, the IHOG is being revised, which may be good or may be bad depending on what the intent of the changes are (some may be politically driven).

The IHOG lists requirements for Helicopter Manager that are mandatory (I-100, S130, S190, S217, S200, S201, S205, S230, S260, AND S-290)

310-1 Has NO REQUIREMENTS, but lists additional courses that may help (I-200, S281, S260)

The IHOG is policy for many federal agencies and only used as a guide by some states. If a State uses a federal resource that is governed by the IHOG then the State must abide by the IHOG. Because of the differences in IHOG and 310-1, this poses a real problem when it comes to staffing. My interpretation is that the federal resource MUST be managed by someone who meets the IHOG requirements.

Its easy to see that the IHOG trained person will have a better background than a 310-1 person. Conservative is not the right word to use, more qualified seems to fit better. My personal experience has been that most people meeting the 310-1 need more supervision and in some cases are downright unqualified to manage a CWN helicopter. Don't forget that these people are trained to do IA in addition to large fire support. Many State personnel are ADs and cannot support themselves logistically in the field ( I know, its not a 310-1 thing). Also don't forget that not all large fires are federal, and many States manage them very well with federal assets.

The National Guard is mobilized by the Governor and utilized how ever they want. My guess is that the NG sees the cash cow of firefighting and wants all or a piece of the action. There is NO requirement for the NG to have ANY fire training. Imagine a NG helicopter roaming around your fire without radios that can communicate with the ground, or don't understand what happens when they split a head fire. Lets see now, would a CH-47 Chinook with a 25-50 foot line and 2000 gallon bucket blow any fire around during a drop? How many times has someone had their burnout suppressed by a military helicopter. NG ships are not normally painted with high visibility paint and being green are hard to spot. Having said that, there are some excellent NG units that fight fire (Texas and CA).

Finally I'm sure the FS and BLM fire managers have their opinions, but cannot express them fully without having severe fallout to their careers. Now that Congress has thrown a wad of money at the firefighting community, I'm sure they feel like they should determine policy, regardless of how it affects safety. Congress needs to listen to the people they hired to manage a safe program and not listen to politically correct whiners.

Vinnie, I'm not sure that what you say is correct, but it sure needs to be out in the sun light.


06/10 OK, here are Danny's final fires and acres totals for 2000 (summed from NICC). Ab.
                          FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2000 - 1000 MST
                             NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS LEVEL I   
   WILDFIRES                          RX FIRES                    TOTAL FOR Y2K
Fires     92,250                   Fires      4,697              Fires     96,947
Acres  7,393,493                   Acres  1,192,220              Acres  8,585,713
06/09 Vinnie or whoever else knows about helicopter regs:
I borrowed a copy of the IHOG from a friend who's gone away on fire and I found the 310-1 online. But I look at all those words and wonder: Can someone tell me simply - what is the difference between the two? I take it that the IHOG is more conservative.

Jim (if you're reading), I recall that you and Rich Tyler wrote the first IHOG and it's since been revised. How much does it differ from the 310-1 and in what ways? Vinnie, how are the rules and regs being changed based on politics rather than safety?

A few months ago, John linked to this article about the air national guard wanting to take over some part of the fixed wing firefighting. I asked a TX aviation friend who knows Bush if he would read the article and tell me what he thought would happen. It was his opinion that Bush's frist impulse would be for the military doing some of the aerial firefighting. I know we're short of aviation personnel, do we need some help? Or is this like we should be as safe as we can with the system we have in which people are trained to fight fire? Maybe the issues raised in this article are entirely different than the issues surrounding IHOG regs. Perhaps some overlap?

I don't know what to make of all this. Does anyone? From what you say, Vinnie, it sounds like the NPS guy (overhead?) has an opinion. Anyone know if FS and BLM FAM overhead have any opinion on the military doing more fixed wing and helicpoter firefighting? Anyone know how this would impact us groundpounders aside from what Vinnie said? I'd like more information.

NorCal Tom

06/09 ALCAN209
Guess I can't sit back and keep my opinion out of it....I am one of those fire managers in North Zone you are blaming for the hiring disaster that is still going on. Well, I refuse to accept even one iota of it. You see, I and every Div Chief, BC and Captain on my forest as well as the two human resource folks and the SO fire staff, have been working hard for 6 months now trying to make sense of the process and get enough good folks hired to staff our engines, crews and the rest of it. Some of these folks had nearly 100 hrs of hiring OT before the first fire, including me.

I agree with you, there is definately a hole at the GS-6 and 7 level. Most of the vacancies were from people who got promoted or left for CDF. And many of the vacancies were on the books for several years because there has been a lack of people at that level to chose from even before MEL madness. We HAVE tried to hire from the outside on demo certs. We HAVE considered folks on temp certs at that grade level. We have done everything we can to get resources staffed. The process has got us beat back but not beat down.

Yes, there are some engines on 5 day staffing because of this. Do you think folks like me WANT it that way?? It's easy to sit back and look for a convenient target to place blame whenever things are not going your way. Our media and congress have set a fine example of this. Just walk a mile in the other guy's shoes first. You might find out there is a bigger picture than you can imagine on your own. Your help is far more valuable than your criticism.


PS. If you are qualified at the GS 6/7 level and you want a job, make sure your app is good for engines AND crews AND fuels or any other resource you might want to work on......We can't get to you for an engine job if you only marked that you wanted to be on crews. This has happened alot at all grade levels.

06/09 Alcan,
In a psychological sense, calling firefighters "bodies" does imply expendable resources and not human beings. When the TriDat Firefighter Awareness Studies were done, (under Safety on the Links Page) one of the recommendations was to create a climate of "professionalism" and thereby enhance an environment of safety. The term "bodies" does NOT contribute to creating an environment of safety. I have several firefighter friends who trecked to Storm King with me who just might POUND you if they caught you using such terminology.

As far as the lack of more than one qualified engine boss on north zone engine crews, this is a potential problem for those wanting/needing 7-day coverage, but not one that was unforseen. Many people qualified at this level have moved to other agencies, including CDF. Many have moved up in the current fed hiring process to fill in behind those retiring and to beef up the organization at higher levels. There is no blame to be placed here. We will be as safe as we can be with 5-day coverage, where that exists.

So, do those hiring want only 5-day-a-week engine coverage? Absolutely not! And I don't know of any temps out there who haven't been scrambling to apply for these jobs. I do agree that there are some firefighters older than 35 who have good experience and could be hired if the rules were different. They're not. Start an organized movement to change the MEA rules!

It was clear when the mandate came from Washington that we could not achieve MEL in one year. That's why a 3 year plan was developed. It was also clear that we'd run out of people qualified at the DIVS level about round 2 of the hiring process. The math wasn't hard to do! A study was done last year showing that the DIVS level was the constricted point in the hoselay. OK, so 3rd and 4th yr people need training assignments to move up and fill in. Most in the Forest Service and BLM agree. There is a plan for fast-tracking the training process so it won't take 5 years. People are working hard at making this a reality this fire season.

I just want to say, from having worked on the jobs page at wlf.com, answering e-mails about jobs and asking way too many questions of engine captains and FMOs at the forest level, to harrassing others on up the food chain... Forest Service and BLM people involved in this process are working hard nights and weekends with great integrity to make this re-emerging fire organization be as good, safe, and professional as it can be. People are working their butts off - from those figuring MEL (and what is possible) on down to those doing the hiring and training! (I haven't asked NPS and FWS people, but they're probably working equally hard.)

To all of you who are working so hard at all levels, I say, "HATS OFF TO YOU!" You are our best!
And please everyone, be safe!

06/09 Hello..

My son Shaemas lives in Eugene, Oregon. He has fought fires for the last two years. He just called me and said he would like to pursue a career in woodland firefighting. He is a serious but fun guy who is 27 years old and I think most of the hell raising is done with. As he is just waiting for the call..I thought I'd research the field for him.
My question...where is the best training available and how does one set a path that will lead to good money and a future.
He is willing to travel anywhere and as he does not have a family to think about..maybe this job is a good choice.
I've reviewed some of the job openings...it appears that experience is key in most of the work..I just thought that some training would help get good work too.

Any thoughts?
Thanks In Advance..

06/09 A Very Real Threat to Firefighter Safety

There is a very real threat coming from many different sides. Consider that the military is trying to take over firefighting, especially with aviation. Rick G of the NPS thinks aviators are elitist and is pushing NWCG 310-1 requirements for aviation over the IHOG among other things.

Since 1988 type I and II helicopter usage has gone up 1000% and accidents have gone DOWN 600%. Most aviation requirements have been written in blood and experience.

Rules and regulations are being altered for political reasons and not based upon safety.

How does this affect you? You may be riding in a helicopter managed by someone with only S-217 training. Military aircraft may be roaming around with no civilian management on board. Most military pilots do not have any fire training. You may loose a friend because of political expediency.

I could go on and on, but the gist of this message is to make you the firefighter aware of what is going on and serve as a heads up. Compare this to the National Sit report being in PDF instead of HTML and you will be able to recognize how big the threat is.


06/09 Palomino

CD for S-290 is available from NIFC. Cost is $75.00 I think. Order # 1592. I don't think this should replace classroom course, but it will help get you up to speed.


06/09 Old fire guy.

Yes, you did miss the point. Perhaps I didn't express myself properly.

I never meant to imply that unqualified people should ever be put out on the line What I meant was that the outfit could fill those vacant jobs as temp or AD positions.

There are experianced and qualified people out there who are perhaps past the MEA, or just aren't interested in signing up with the gov permanent, for whatever reason. Contractors recruit former fed employees who take the summer off from their regular jobs to fight fire. Not neccessarily for the money, but because they love fighting fire.

As far as that filling the gap with bodies, I'm sure you've heard that term out on the line when there's a flare up. "Send some bodies over here" Does not imply a suicide mission. It only means that more personnel are needed in the containment effort.

My other point concerned the fact that many north zone engine modules only have one qualified engine boss on the crew. Hence only 5 day a week coverage.

My question is what's being done about it? Are those 3rd and 4th year people being given training assingments? What's the plan for fixing this problem? Slow track on training? 5 years before somebody gets carded as a squad boss? That's why there's a shortage now.

It looks like northern california and southern oregon could be ground zero this year with fires. Anybody remember 87? This year could make that look like a church barbeque


06/09 KM ( fellow firefighter ),

I realize I may have opened a "can of worms" by stateing my opinion in this forum about Pa DCNR, however, being a decorated veteran, I feel I have the right to do so, as well do you, my fellow American ! I do not fight fire for fun, I am a PROFESSIONAL, as I am sure you are as well. We , as PROFESSIONAL firefighters deserve to be compensated as such ! When you leave your family, your job or business to go on a fire assignment, is it for practice? Change my attitude ? I think not ! Drag my crew down? I think not !! Employee of DCNR ? How do know I'm not ? And since when does anyone "have to go out west" ? NO sir, I will not "quit bitchin ", not until things change here in the Commonwealth to benefit everyone who has a hand in preserving our precious natural resourses from wildfire!!!! Simply stated, I will not endanger my Crew or myself, for ANYONE who thinks we do this for the "perks"!!!! Stay tuned my brother (sister ? ), I have lots of ammo!!! And I WILL continue to BITCH until things change !!!!!! Hey km, I might even be in your crew, and if I'm not, I'll bet theres' somebody in your crew who feels the same way, if not MANY!!! PLENTY more to follow.......

Tired of it in Pa.

PS.You ought to try and feed your family on the wild game you've harvested, it's better for you and with the right preparation, very tasty!!!!

06/08 Does any one know if there is a computer/ self paced S290 (intermediate fire behavior) course, and if so where I get it from?

Does anyone know where to purchase fiberglass replacement handles for a pulaski or super p. (longer handles).


06/08 I know that last year I tracked very closely the daily stats for all states, & I kick myself for not saving the final 12-31-Y2K reading, but I'm certain that the numbers were as stated below. Here is the site where I tracked all activity last year.



06/08 Haven't written in quite some time and have not seen any "Just One More Time" in awhile so will start the ball rolling and see what happens.
  • Just one more time: I would like to feel my excitement level increase when the clouds start to build!
  • Just one more time: I would like to feel that level increase 3 fold when the cloud starts to get that classic anvil top!
  • Just one more time: I would like to feel that level increase 5 fold when I hear that first "Rumble"!
  • Just one more time: I would like to feel that level increase 10 fold when I see that first downstrike!
  • Just one more time: I would like to feel that level increase 20 fold when I first see the smoke column!
  • Just one more time: I would like to feel the level increase to "Unimaginable" when I finally am on the fire, feeling the heat, smelling the smoke, hearing the flames crackle (or roar).
  • Just one more time: I would like to be on the fireline with those who share the same passion I do.
  • Just one more time: I would like to look into the eyes of that first season rookie see that same passion realized for the first time.
  • Just one more time: I would like to feel the camaraderie that made some of those same people closer to me than my own brothers or sisters.
For those of you who visit this site, have not been on the fireline and do not have "The Passion", you will never identify with I have stated above. For those of you who have been on the fireline and still do not have "The Passion", you will say I am "One egg short of a dozen". For those of you who have "The Passion" you will say "Right on. Preach it brother"!!!!!

Those of us who are retired (whether by our choice, age, or disability) will cherish those times when "The Passion" was so strong you could not believe you actually were paid to be in that place, at that time, with those people. For those of you still humping up and down the line you think, "How could anyone give this lifestyle up for something else?" Eventually the day will come when you too have to walk away. Build those memories and friendships! They will both be with you the rest of your life!


Belt it'out Firehorse! Glad yer back. Ab.

06/08 Proud (I assume),

I feel compelled to respond. You are a fast disappearing breed of firefighter. Few experienced wildfirefighters are willing to fight fire for NOTHING! ADs are the next fast disappearing breed as they work for about 1/2 to 1/3 of fair market value of their service. Since we live in a free market economy it is unrealistic to expect anyone to do anything for free. I too once fought fire for free...that was how I got started. But once I had some experience and the folks RESPONSIBLE for wildfire suppression wanted me to forgo other income to fight fire for them I expected reimbursement for the time I spent fighting fire. Truth be told the pay I received never came close to the income that was unrealized while I was on fire duty but I not only enjoyed fighting wildfire, I thought of it as a "duty"...similar to military service. However those were MY reasons for firefighting and I could not in good conscience blame or ridicule others for needing adequate compensation to justify the major commitment being a professional firefighter is. To consider any pay for fighting fire a "perk" is unrealistic. I had several chances to be employed by the MN DNR if I would agree to shut up and stand down when I saw a heads up situation developing similar to that in PA but I couldn't lower my standards. I MN we had several folks with your attitude of "quit your bitchen and either fight the fires or get out" with the result that the majority of experienced firefighters "GOT OUT". I don't think you really want that. Neither do the full time DCNR fire folks. It makes their job controlling fires much more difficult and dangerous. In addition it is likely that due to a severe shortage of experienced firefighters they may be prohibited from "going west" themselves to fight fire as has happened in MN. There goes their "perks". Please think about what you are saying to "Tired" about attitude and then read your own post....who really displays a "bad" attitude? I got the feeling that you were telling "Tired" and crew to shut up, do what they are told and stop asking questions. Since you admit to not being a professional firefighter I wonder why you feel you have the right to accuse those that are of having a bad attitude. When I am out west or in MN for that matter I want people that will speak their mind as a safety factor. I don't want to order someone on my crew to so something against their better judgment and have them remain silent.

"Tired" you have my vote. You keep on "bitchen" if that's what it takes to alert your state DCNR fire officials that a problem is fast becoming intolerable. You won't be doing anyone a favor by remaining silent...though it is obviously much easier to do so and of course you do risk losing your red card if you don't.


06/08 Attn: AC (also from PA)

Your numbers for Y2K are off by quite a bit. They are: 96K+ fires & 8 million + acres (both Rx & unctrl'd). New century set new records. And since the daily report has all the required data for an annual report, on Jan 2nd the annual report should be available, not some time during the following summer.


Danny, so you're advising for accurate numbers to go to the national sit report archives, find the last day of Dec 2000 that is reported Dec 29, 2000 (since the first day of the new year reported is Jan 4 and they're already into '01 YTDs). Then sum the wildfire and prescribed fire categories for the total acres? There is still no record of fire "cause". Usually the regional GACCs have those "cause" stats reported in their SITs. Maybe not all. Haven't looked into where those are archived. Readers, anyone know where or know how to get those stats from NIFC? Ab.

06/08 The Jobs page, Series 462 and 455 are updated. Still a lot of jobs out there goin'beggin'. NM FWS needs some permanent firefighters. Ab.
06/08 Tim,
The ASAP recruiting process could (and hopefully will) be much better at explaining what it means when one applies for up to 9 forests. They should also include explanations of how the 13/13 or 18/8 positions work. You are doing the right thing in correcting your application to be more specific as to what you need to make a career work for you. Do a little more. Call the FMO on the forest, and the personnel officer if the FMO can't answer all your questions. Many forests can only offer the 13/13 at this time.....but remember a 13/13 is a minimum guarantee of work. A lot of forests will want to retain the fire hires year round to accomplish other resource type work. The additional cost to keep you working is negligible compared to the costs of unemployement. Ask them what their plans are for the positons on their forest. A fire experienced vet? Hey, your chances of getting picked up somewhere are pretty good. Good luck!

Alcan 209 -
Gee, I hope I am reading your message wrong. Yes, there is a shortage of applicants for jobs in some locations. Most of the fire jobs were open to new hires (seasonal and AD folks were welcome to apply). If your suggestion is to "fill the gap" with unqualified people, then not only no, but HELL NO. We owe it to the people hired and the folks they will work with that assignments are commensurate with qualifications. If that means that some positions go unfilled and we have to wait for backup from elsewhere, so be it. Yes, I know that it has been done in the past. I also know that the cost in bodies is way too much to pay. Please tell me that I missed the point on what you were really trying to say.

Experienced folks,
Watch for a GS-11 forest fmo, and GS-11 fire ecologist/prescribed fire coordinator positions in the Lake States to be advertised shortly.

Old Fire Guy

06/08 Hello Ab -

Are there any stats that summarize the over 92,000 fire in 2000 with their causes (i.e. arson, lightling, Rx Burns, Bug Kill, etc.)

I checked out the formal 2000 Summary published by NIFC but did not see any breakdown. Is it too soon for such an analysis of the data for over 3,700,000 acres that burned last year?

AC (also from PA)

06/08 Tired in Pa and Crew

The point that you try to make about whether I hunt or not is not valid. Yes I do hunt and I have spent a lot of money in my hunting supplies much more then I have for may gear to fight forest fires. I do not intent to hunt for a living or even feed my family for a year from hunting. As much as I would like to, I do not make a living Fighting Wild or working for DCNR. I have never expected to receive money to fight a fire, what little money I make is just a perk. As for the DCNR people they are doing these things to feed a family, this is their job. They, like us, do not have to go out west but they do have to fight the fire in PA. So the overtime that they make is just a perk to them. You could have had the chance to be a employee of DCNR if you would have wanted to so quit your bitchen and either fight the fires or get out. It is of my opinion that you are the type of person who can drag the moral of a whole crew down if you were to go out west, and that is very bad. I suggest that you change your attitude or I hope that the state takes your red card.


Ab thinks this must be the former Proud to be from PA person.

06/08 I hear the Forest service in north zone is having problems filling permanent fire positions. So much in fact that many engine modules have gone down to 5 day a week coverage. What's the problem? not enough qualified people who need jobs?

Sounds like somebody needs to clean out the barn starting with fire management staff.

In the real world it's about production. Whereas in government it's more about the process.

Here's a short term solution: Open up some of these GS 6 and 7 jobs to temps and AD's. That would fill the gap until you can get people qualified. Of course you managers out there have probably already thought of that, huh?

Think of it in a tactical sense. What do u do when a flank gets overun? Put some bodies in there.


06/08 FOBSIF,

Thanks for taking your time to answer some of my questions. In response to some of your comments I do agree with alot of what you had to say. I should have only applied for the forests in which I wanted to work. When I was filling out my application I had no idea of the hiring process. I had only chosen four locations that I would have moved to. I just assumed that all permanent jobs were year around. I soon found out that they are not, that is why I did not accept the positions that I was offered. I have recently changed my forest locations to just one. I am assuming that because I was offered positions at other forests, that took me out of the hiring round for Daniel Boone N.F.

Having been in the military, I know the nature of this job. Its hard work and the hours are long sometime. I do understand that and so does my family. I think I could be a very good wildland firefighter but no matter what, I would never put a job ahead of my family, no matter how much I might love the job.

One last question; How exactly does the 18/8, 13/13 pay periods work? I understand that you have so many pay periods that you are in a pay status and so many pay periods that you are in a non-pay status. What I don't understand is do you keep your benefits all year or just while you are working? Do you draw unemployment while you are not working or do most firefighters have other jobs?

Thanks for your time. I am still new to how these things work but I am learning. I am very determined to become a wildland firefighter, it may not be this year but hopefully in the near future.


06/08 Lookout Towers:


Wonder what will happen next?


PS Added from the next e-mail:
By the way I not a Demo-rat or a Rip-pub-i-can, I be a fire fighter, who just has a favorite spot in my heart for the "Box on Legs".
Hate to see another state start phasing them out.
But I guess that's progress!

Now why didn't I put that on the other message? I had a tear in my eye.....by the way, want to buy some property in Florida, I got some I'll sell...

06/07 I would like to echo what Jim said about the problem with 14 day assignments and the problems we had filling positions in Florida. I was a FICC in Tallahassee, and the Overhead desk had a horrible time trying to fill requests. When I got there, the policy was that 14 days was the limit. Period. Finally, they eased it for aircraft personnel to allow extensions, but by then they were way behind the power curve in getting positions filled.

I fear that we will be in the same boat as last year, limited assignment lengths and a broken National dispatch system. I know of several people with needed qualifications that could not get an assignment, until they made some phone calls to Florida and told someone they were ready and willing to go. Then Fla. people were able to work the system backwards (no Name Requests though, that might be sinful).


06/07 Question...
What is the difference between being carded arduous versus moderate?

I am working on my red card but still have to complete the pack test. I can do moderate easily but arduous (the extra weight not the distance) might be a little tough. If at a fire I will be working on computers (in camp) with the possibility of GPSing (most likely in a helicopter).

Why would I choose doing one level over the other?


06/07 I just got back from Florida and would like to hear what you folks think about the 14 day tour. I spent about 70% percent of my time making sure we had replacements and that the replacements were briefed on how Florida operates. I for one think the morale was less than it could have been for the helitack folks, because of just getting into the flow and then checking out. For my money the 21 day and out tour fits what we do a lot better. Consider that exclusive use folks are on at their base and when they get dispatched, they could get a 14 day assignment on top of having been on 7 to 14 days prior to the assignment.

Safety First


06/07 Ab,

This message is for Tim who asked questions about the USFS hiring process...

This is the first year this "fire hire" process was applied nationwide. We've seen MANY ways it could be improved, but we've also seen many ways it has provided opportunities that didn't exist before. My experience is the process favors firefighter applicants. I know it hasn't always felt this way to some of you, but it really does.

There used to be a time when we could only apply to three forests in any given year. The application period was much shorter (about 1 month vs. 11 months in this process). Back when I applied for my first FS job, if you were offered a job, you better take it cuz there wasn't gonna be another one offered.

But there are some things that haven't changed, and are just good things to do if you are interested in directing your own destiny when it comes to getting a job.

1. You should only apply to the forests where you want to work. If you didn't want to move your family, then you shouldn't have listed forests that would force you to do that. Just because you COULD apply to 9 forests didn't mean you HAD to apply to 9 forests. You can still amend your application to change where you want to be considered. If you don't amend your application, and continue to be offered positions for forests you don't want to move to, eventually the word will get around, and you won't be viewed in a favorable light.

2. Make a decision about what you want. Do you want a wildland fire job badly enough to be away from home? If so, then discuss the decision with your family and decide to work where the job is offered. If your priority is staying closer to home, then either follow the recommendation I made in #1 or seek a different line of work.

3. If the Daniel Boone NF is where you want to work, I'm assuming you have some connections there. "Grease the skids" and call some of the local fire managers to let them know of your interest. Better yet, stop by and make a personal visit. They have looked at literally thousands of applications, and you have a much better chance of getting a job where you want when they can place a face with a name.

4. Be honest with the people who are calling you. If you have a preference for a particular place, tell the people who call you about your interest in their position. I've seen fire folks sit for hours on the phone, calling A LOT of people for days. Almost every firefighter they talk to has been offered multiple positions. Many of the firefighters are genuinely looking for a good job in a place they find desireable. But there are some applicants out there who are playing games and tell every fire manager who calls them that they are interested in THEIR job. So when the fire manager calls back, the person says they got a better offer someplace else, and the fire manager ends up back as square one.

(If you firefighters think YOU'RE frustrated with this process, I know a whole bunch of fire managers who are MUCH MORE frustrated than you'll ever know. I hope if we use this process next year that applicants have to prioritize the forests where they want to work. It sure would save some time and eliminate some of the frustration on both sides of the phone.)

I have one last piece of advice for you Tim. This business we call wildland fire is our passion. I know of many families who didn't make it because the lifestyle we live is tough on families. You have to have a very supportive family unit to survive long absences and seasonal work.

I know many people (men and women) who love their families very much. But there is something about our work that gets into your blood. There is a bond that exists in the wildland fire "family" that is just as strong (sometimes stronger) than your family at home. We live together for weeks, sometimes months at a time. Be sure your family at home understands what it means to be in this business because it's a tough lifestyle and can wear and tear the best of families.

Good luck with your job search. See you on the big one!


06/07 Hey "Proud to be in Pa",

Well, at least someone else from Pa. responded. Perhaps there are some things you're not aware of that are happening here in the Keystone State. First off all, do you think it's fair that we get "reimbursed" for expenses while working a fire and the DCNR personel are making time and half and double time? Is it fair that on Specialized Details (out of state) that DCNR types make that same time and half and double time? I don't know were you hail from, but where I come from, our crew has to raise every dime we spend on PPE and equipment. I'm proud to be a member of the Pa Specialized Crew, and have been for quite some time, but I'm tired of hearing the same BS over& over again every year! Policy is dictated to us from some damn politician and year after year we swallow it and do the job while getting close to no support at all !! The FMOS' running most of the fires see the same thing we do, but are powerless as well to initiate change (for fear of losing their jobs!). NOW is the time to say enough, take "the bull by the balls" and have our say in policy and decision making! Be PROUD of being one of the Keystone States finest, but remember, when it all happens out there, you and your fellow crew members are the guys' "bustin ass" on the lines and doing the dirty work. Don't you feel you should be properly equipped and compensated for your effort? Do you hunt? Ever wonder were all that revenue goes? Stay tuned, more to follow.......

Crew member of "Tired of It in Pa"

06/07 I know I am new to wildland fire suppression and all, but from what I have read, there is a lot of animosity between all the crews out there. In my experience (mostly structural work) all the fire departments were happy to be at a fire and to lone a helping hand. With structural firefighting all the glory is being on the attack line, and the dirty work is rolling hose and doing overhaul, but no matter if you were from a volunteer station/paid/city or county department you were smiling,helping and trading off war stories while rolling hose up in the middle of the night during a winter rain.

The lil' story that Boustellay (bob) gave made me feel a little better, a contract crew helping a federal crew, it was kinda sweet :) It made me feel like there is a brotherhood among wildland firefighters and was a much nicer change of pace from the Type 1 Crew vs. Type 2 Crew saga a while back.

Well, guys what can I say, I hope I get the chance to powwow with some of you guys this summer and work hand n hand with you. SO DO YOU SENIOR GUYS THINK THIS SUMMER WILL BE WORSE THEN LAST YEAR? BE SAFE AND TAKE CARE!

(NC Western Detail Crew)

06/07 Mellie,

The photos on "Fire4" were taken on the Sonoma coast near Gualala. The work we did on the Bear Wallow fuel break was done on the Honeydew watershed just over King's Mountain from the Randall Fire. The fuel break started at the Lightning Trailhead, dropping down Bear Wallow Ridge to Honeydew Creek. I'll have to take a look to see if I have any suitable photos from that project.


PS from a slightly later e-mail: I don't seem to have any photos of the Bear Wallow area but I do have one of the coast at the Sinkyone Wilderness, which is about 20 miles south of Randall Creek.

06/07 Hay Tired in PA,

I just want to say that I'm proud to be a Wildland Fire Fighter from PA. I also know that DCNR is not perfect but they are making an effort to male things better i.e. the in state hot shot crews and money is being made available to the warden crews and volunteer fire depts. to buy more equipment. I think your attitude stinks and that if you do not like the way things are being done here you should hang it up or move. I'm sure nobody came begging you to go to camp and be part of the PA Wild Fire Crew. So quit crying.

Proud to be in PA

06/06 Ab. Great Site.

I just returned from assignment in the Nevada Desert.

Had a great time, suspect we will be spending more time there this summer. (looks dry) I wanted some help from the readers out there.

I wanted to thank the Guys at Pacific Wildfire from Winnemucca Nevada. They helped us fix our FS engine along side the highway. They didnt have to and we probably made them late. The crew I am refering to was in a white international type 4 labeled "Interface". They had all kinds of gadgets- air tools, welders, plasma cutter, hand tools up the wazoo, Microwave, fridge, and a CD changer. (I had time to look around while they fixed my engine)
Please pass along my thanks whoever knows them.

Boustellay (bob)

Welcome to theysaid. Eric from PW posts here. Ya'll be safe y'hear. Ab.

06/06 Ab,

Here are some photos of of some new engines that belong to Aces High, a wildland fire contractor in College Place, WA. He is one of the contractors we have used and fields good crews and top notch equipment equipment (as you can see). He is building these himself and plans on putting 5 out this summer. I asked and received his permission to send these.


I put them on the new Engines3 Page. Ab.

06/06 This year was my first year to apply for a firefighting position with the USFS. I was contacted and offered two jobs. One was with the Cherokee National Forest and the other one was with the Hoosier National Forest. I declined the offers because they were not fulltime positions. The only reason that I could not accept those offers is because I would have had to move. However, I was contacted by the Daniel Boone National Forest of my interest in working there. I told them that I was very interested in working there, since this was the forest in which I really wanted to work. I never heard anything else from them so I am assuming that I did not get one of the positions there.

My questions to anyone who could help me out are:

  • Do I still have a good chance of getting selected later in the future, since they have shown interest in me.
  • Will I need to apply again or will my application stay on file?
  • Final question, Can anyone tell me if this is typical hiring for the USFS?
  • I am very interested in wildland firefighting but I also have a family to think of, that is the main reason I had to declined those job offers. If I am going to move I have to have a fulltime position.


06/06 I just read the Arizona republic article on the shortage of wildland firefighters. It's really a shame in a lot of ways.

Of course it's also a shame the way the forest service made virtually no effort to retain good people over the last couple of decades. I know that many heard the same story over the years: "Come back next year and we MIGHT have a permanent job for you" "We can't send you off forest because there MIGHT be a class A lightning fire on the district", "We cant send seasonals to any training because some permanent MIGHT file a grievance" "If you don't like it, get another job. there's plenty of 18 year olds out there"

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. It won't last long, but I'm glad the shoe is on the other foot for a change.

We've all seen a lot of good people bail out of the system over the years out of frustration. It wasn't about the pay scale so much as it was about respect and a little opportunity, and overtime. That's all they ever wanted.

Are there any fmo's left who understand that temps need to get lots of OT so they can make it through the winter?

I don't blame them folks one bit for jumping ship. They have to look out for themselves because that's what their bosses are doing.

Thanks, -Lucky-

06/06 Florida fire photos with your morning coffee? Images of these residents so close to the flames is a little nerve wracking...

South Sarasota County FL photo gallery: www.newscoast.com


06/06 Hey Everyone,

I'd like to pass a few kind words to John Maclean, author of Fire on the Mountain. This week we are hosting the Utah Wildland Fire Academy here in Richfield, UT. John was kind enough to come to Richfield and give a talk about his book. I just returned from his presentation with a new appreciation for his passion on the subject of Storm King and firefighter safety in general. As he presented slides and told the story of that awful July day the silence in that auditorium was amazingly powerful. As he clicked through images of the fire and even more chilling, the removal of 13 fellow firefighters from that hill, every one in that room had stopped breathing. Thank you John for bringing our story to the public. If anyone out there gets a chance to meet or see John give a talk, please attend, you won't forget it.

July 6th is approaching once again, lets have a very safe season.


06/06 Greetings ,

Same old, tired stuff again this year, but with a twist! PA DCNR actually took the new guys to the field most of the afternoon and evening Saturday and set a fine example of what NOT to do in the "woods". Like setting up our Sat.nite MRES under a huge snag ( honestly guys, if the newbies could see this, why not you ?). Oh yes, let us not forget the fine example set by the DCNR guys running the show out there who, in their haste to return to the IC for their steak dinner, ( which everyone who was there paid for ) forgot to have water available for the crews in the field. Thanks to the "old hands" in the advanced course for giving up what they had on the way out, otherwise, we might have had to tell the "newbies" the real deal ! Anyway, much of the same BS Sunday at DEMOB. time. Clean up the barracks, all spit&polish ! Nothing wrong with that at all, but have you DCNR types ever heard the one about making a silk purse out of a sows' ear ? Cracked and decaying floor tiles can take only so much wax and polish ......know what I mean? However, most of the instuctors there did a fine job of teaching the "newbies" the ropes, and this Firefighter thinks we have some very good people on board for this year, and hopefully, years to come!

Anyway, enough "carping" about all this, lets make a change! I know many of you PA Firefighters read this column, and I know alot of you feel the same way as I do. Lets do something about it ! Write to this forum and let me know your out there! If you're afraid of backlash, use a "nom de guerre" just as I have done, we can keep secrets just as well as they can !

Still tired of it in PA

PS. How do I get my 6 bucks back?

06/05 The Jobs page, Series 462 and 455 are updated. Ab.
06/05 Hi, I was browsing your archives and photos. Here is a good international fire site for the links page:
Fireglobe, the website of the Global Fire Monitoring Center(GFMC), an Activity of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). www.ruf.uni-freiburg.de/fireglobe/

They have many links and a very nice worldwide photograph archive. www.ruf.uni-freiburg.de/fireglobe/photos/photos.php

Arnfinn (from Norway)

Thanks. I added FireGlobe to the worldwide links page. Ab.

06/05 In today's Arizona Republic... Is anyone in Washington listening?


Bucky O.

Here's the journalist Kelly and Bucky O. mentioned. Good piece. Ab.

06/05 Hey Tired,

I didn't mean to imply that MN is the worst or the only state with major problems with fire program mismanagement. Believe me the email I get from other states who have no wildfirefighter association often make me feel very lucky to be a MN smokechaser! We have learned a lot on how to effect change in our state that I believe would work in any other state as well. Contact me and I may be able to save you a few years of wasted time learning how "things are done" and what doesn't work. Let me tell you that with so much of the most experienced fire talent being sucked up by the "Feds" due to the $1.6 Billion appropriation non-western states like MN and PA have never had a better opportunity to initiate change for the better in our state wildfire suppression programs. If you want to DO something about it contact me. Cause as great a forum as They Said is...what I will tell you is definitely NOT for public consumption. That goes for any firefighter in any state that wants to do something other than CARP about problems with their states fire suppression programs. Besides I think I take up too much space on They Said as it is and I am sure many readers will agree.

Dana Linscott

06/04 Firepup 21-
Re: the use of GeoExplorer3's and data dictionaries

If you want to incorporate the national data dictionaries into specifically what you do (since you can only use 1 data dictionary at a time usually it's best to build it to what you need while adhering to the national standards) I can help out. It takes mere minutes if you know what you do and what you want to know.

Good luck,

06/04 The up to date North and South Zone sit reports (and a bunch of other stuff) are on R5s new Intelligence page:


06/04 Kelly sent in this post about ten days ago and it got lost in the ethers. I'm posting it now because it identifies by name the two journalists mentioned a few days ago by Bucky O, an AZ poster. Ab.

I'd like to alert y'all to a lurker or two who may be delurking online but who are definitely delurking on the fireline. Judd Slivka is a reporter with the Arizona Republic out of Phoenix, and his sidekick Tim Koors is a photographer. They've been covering wildland fires and fire issues for the paper (and for Gannett News Service). What's new this season is that these two have gotten really serious about it.

Both Slivka and Koors completed their basic wildland firefighter courses. They passed the pack test (at arduous) and they not only have nomex, they have gear. They'll be tagging along with the Globe 'Shots this summer, but may also show up on fires throughout R3 and the the rest of the West.

Why am I telling you this? Because these are not your average media types, that's why. Judd knows the difference between a crew and a team, he wouldn't dare say a fire was surrounded when it's been contained, and he isn't looking for someone to crucify about fire controversy. He actually understands not only how a fire behaves but also how the fire business works.

If you meet up with these boys this summer, or hear that they're on your fire, seek 'em out and talk to 'em. They're good guys.


06/04 Keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground ...
and be prepared to give leads where you come by them.

Date: June 2, 2001
F.B.I. Warns of Growing Arson Campaign
The F.B.I. warned on Friday that the Earth Liberation Front, a shadowy
environmental group, was stepping up a nationwide campaign of arson.
Source: The New York Times
Section: National

To read the rest of this piece, go here:
www.nytimes.com/2001/06/02/national/02TREE.phpl?searchpv=day02 (requires free account)

John A.

06/04 Stu,

I wondered where the Mattole fire was in relation to the Rx firebreak work you did. Ab, could ya link to Stu's pics in case people want to see what the coastal veg. scene is like? He worked on the Mendocino coast, not as steep and inaccessible as the Randall Creek drainage to the north. Coastal vegetation is thick, as always without fires knocking it down, and very dry this year!

The Mattole fire (CDF) is 300 acres, 75% contained as of this morning. If you've hiked the 25 miles of Lost Coast (ocean side of the Kings Range; Petrolia is the town to the north, Shelter Cove to the south), you'll know right where Randall Creek is, just south of Punta Gorda and draining into the ocean. Almost unclimbably steep, cliffs, and I remember the PO and rattlers, too. (And tapeworms in the creek form the cows that were grazing the hillside. Yuck! Made me real happy we carried our own water on that trek.) At least it's not too hot, predicted to be in the upper 60s today.

The Asbestos Forest, yeah, right. Anyway, reports are that at one time yesterday there were 4 helicopters on it, 2 ferrying in crews, 2 doing water drops. There are four 20-person crews there now. (And if anyone can climb those hillsides, it will be the crew whose pt person - a former Pike Shot - has been heard to say, "Run em til they puke and then run em some more!") No engines, obviously, because it's roadless. They don't know how it started, but a boat out on the ocean reported it at something like 0300.

I was talking to a CDF friend this morning and he said they also had starts at Whitethorn and Sprowl Creek in Southern Humboldt and the vollies put them out before CDF got there. The Whitethorn Volunteers are a kick ass bunch. Hitting them on IA is the key to keeping them small. Whew-wheee, I think we're in for it this season!

If anyone knows of fires that burn up to or through existing firebreaks or shaded fuel breaks, could you please take some photos and/or let me know. It helps to have visual arguments for the fuel reduction we need to be doing out there. I heard that the forests burned hot and black out near Susanville.

Thanks all,

Stu's pics are on the Fire4 Page, last row three on the left. Ab.

06/04 Bear Wonders,

After listening to babble regarding the apparent lack or capability of others to find and/or read the available daily situation reports, I selected tonight to go to the

www.fs.fed.us/fire/reports.shtml page to see what all the hubbab was about.

What I found from clicking on the Sitreport found on the above link are as follow:

Location                Size                Currency
Eastern Area            384K                Current
Southern                436K                5/25/01
Southwest                92K                Current
Western Great Basin     Page Cannot Be Found
Eastern Great Basin     228K                Current
Rocky Mountain           96K                6/1/01
Northern Rockies         69K                Current
Alaska                   10K                Current (asp page)
Northwest                65K                10/23/2000
Northern California      57K                5/28/2001
Southern California      57K                Bad link (takes 3 clicks to find current)

Now, as you can plainly see, some links don't work. How can that be? Aren't these links coming from the "official" national page? How can the links to Western Great Basin, and Southern California be lost or different?

Who knows. Let's check the currency, Southern and Rocky Mt, Northwest, & Northern Cal seem to be a little behind. Looking good to the public I'll bet.

Only one PDF, Western Great Basin. Now that's independancy. Seeings how the WGB is known as the "sinkhole" for other regions resources, this may not be too surprising.

My point is. What the heck is wrong with the system? Are there no rules of conformity? Are there integrational problems? Are some regions merely chosing to not conform? If so, is there no one to force them to comply? Shouldn't all GACCs be mandated to provide a uniform standard of firefighter or public information service?

Why is the Eastern Area report 384K large and the Northern Rockies only 69K? Oh, never mind, I see the source code. But why is Alaska doing an .asp when others are.. .

Never mind. Now I've lost my train of thought as my beer just fell into the trash can..


06/04 Mellie,

There is a RAWS station on Cooskie Mountain, which is about 4 miles north of Randall Creek. Looks like they had some strong gust, but at least the temps have stayed low! Nasty country, steep, poison oak and snakey! Definately ground pounder territory. Please keep us posted if you hear anything new about this incident.


PS: It looks like it won't be testing the Bear Wallow fuel break. (7 or 8 miles away.)

06/03 Hey Gang -

Here's another one that's not too big yet: CDF has 40 acres burning on the Mattole (northern CA near the coast - Randall Creek, Kings Range). Sunny and windy, a bit cooler than further inland, but dry. Firefighters are being flown in. Someone said that Smokejumpers from Redding were flown in (yesterday?) but I haven't verified that.

First time on a fire for at least one new fed crew, who were running around and bumping into each other like weebles all excited this morning.


06/03 The news search engine here missed this one:


Bucky O.

06/03 Thanks for the clarification Dick. I guess I didn't remember that from last year. I *am* kinda chompin at the bit and do have my warbag packed and sittin by the front door.

I do think my other observation is valid, that to some degree the fed intel firesite communications on the web seem a bit less than crisp and coordinated. Go here and then look at all the sit reports (under GACCs). Some are more up-to-date than others.

Thanks for the link, UBEAR. Someone will have to send a message to the webperson who keeps that fed/fire/reports page to fix the Western Great Basin sit report link. Seems critical to me that all these links are valid and current. And if we have another summer like the last one, maybe overhead should rethink waiting until 0900 on weekends to post sitreps. We're in an internet age...

OK, I'm outta here soon. Thanks for theysaid, Ab, and everyone who gives feedback. You're cutting edge.
Stay safe,

06/03 Hey All,

After reading the latest in the saga of the SIT Report, I noticed someone needed the newest link into Western Great Basin site...well here it is

Hope this helps out. Maybe someday they'll get the SIT Report into something more user friendly, until then, the saga continues!


06/03 Ab -

"Al" sounds pretty upset about no National Sit Report by 0630 on a Sunday morning: as far back as I can remember, the times were always 0530 on Monday-Friday, and 0900 Mountain Time on weekends and holidays, even at PL IV and V. Take a look at Page 46 of the National Mob Guide.


Well, ya know Dick, when yer younger, ya can smell it, and don't yet have yer marching orders, ya always think there should be more info NOW. Hey Al, check the mob guide. Chill. Got yer war'bag packed? Ab.

06/03 Northern Cal. fire article.



06/03 Fires must REALLY be burning. No National sit report out yet and it's 0630 PDT. What happened to 0530? Fires take a break on weekends?

Now that I look around, there are NO SIT reports anywhere and the latest reports may be days old. Anyone know why? Eastern, SW and Alaska are the best with yesterdays reports up. Rocky Mountain, Northern Rockies and South Zone haven't posted since 06/01. Eastern, last posted 05/28; Southern last posted 5/25; and North Zone last posted 05/28. Western Great Basin gives an error message from the FAM links page.

This shouts WATCHOUT to me. Broken links on pages, lack of information, WOW. Lack of a html version of the National Fire News is the least of our worries, IMHO. Of the regional fire websites, R3 fire website seems to be the most on top of it. What gives with R5 fire? Hate to be so negative on such a nice dry windy northern CA morning, but I can smell the smoke! We're not ready in the communication department.

Safety, safety, safety... Take care.


06/02 Fire on the Shasta T -- Big Bar area -- Szcezepznik's Type 2 team was called up this evening. It'll probably be on the morning sit report or I'll send in an update.

NorCal Tom

06/02 Wow that was some great info re Types of Njines. Now would someone be able to provide a similar list for Models. Example: Forest Service Model 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's? CDF models 1-19?


06/01 Hey Ab,

I was looking at your engine pictures and didn't think it would be complete unless you had some pictures of a Unimog. So here they are. I was a crewmember on Unimogs for my first three seasons, and in 1998 and 1999 I was the foreman of 2931 (Super Mog). For those who don't know the Unimog is made by Mercedes Benz, and they are a perfect truck for the fuel types and terrain in the Great Basin. Engine 2931 has a 350 gpm pump and holds 730 gallons of water. The most impressive feature is the hydraulic blade that we use to cut line. Many people who don't understand Mogs are under the impression that they are not reliable and prone to serious break downs. What they don't understand is the stress and strain that these trucks are subjected to. With proper care and maintenance I guarantee these trucks can out perform anything on the lines today day in and day out.

I have another question that I hope someone can help me with. I remember a post back in late March or April about a NOVA episode about wildland firefighters. I have been checking PBS every week since then and I have not seen it. Did I miss it, or has it not been aired yet?

Looks like Nevada is shaping up for a repeat of the 1999 season. Conditions are already about 2 months ahead of schedule. Soon the lightning will come down and NV will burn 1 million acres in one day again. Hope everyone out there is ready to suck down some burning sage.

See Ya Soon,

I put em on the Engines2 Page. Also put up a CDF "transport" of another sort on the Equip2 Page. Ab.

06/01 Greetings,

Here we go again, another season of firefighting and I'm ready to go......oops, almost forgot, not until I have my annual ( and I do mean annual ) training with the PA DCNR. Seems' the folks at PA DCNR think its' a necessity to have training at least once a year, anyway! Why not train over the winter months so we'd be ready for our fire season ? I can only guess the answer would be the same as the reason we are not issued fire shelters in PA ( if anyone can answer that, please let me know ! ) Anyhow, you guys in Minnesota have nothing on "us guys "in PA. Rather, it appears we have very much in common. Well, must go, we have alot of new guys going to "camp" this year, and I have to "get my game face on ", or at least prepare to feed them a dose of BS, just like DCNR will be doing this weekend ! More to follow........Be safe out there !

Tired of it in Pa

06/01 For the little kid in Australia: Please copy and paste the following long URL into your browser.

http://alltheweb.com/cgi very long url just take my word for it!

Please notice that the very first URL you see has a bit about Ash Wednesday and Good Friday fires. Any examination of the Australian bushfire needs to start with this grim event.


06/01 Notes from the dusty borderlands...

SWA went to PL3. Pretty standard, and actually a lot later this year than last ... In the last two weeks, 20 homes in AZ have been almost lost because of interface fires ... in one case, 7 homes near Florence, AZ nearly got burned after a truck accident started a fast moving brush fire. State land dep't couldn't fly tankers out of the usual airport since a presidential visit had shut it down. L'il fire near Safford yesterday came withn 15 feet of toasting a house and jumping a road; only a timely SEAT drop kept the fire away.

Be on the lookout for a reporter and photographer from the Arizona Republic in Phoenix this summer. Can't remember their names, but I've met 'em a coupla times. Both are red-carded and pack-tested at arduous, and both can tell the difference between a crew and a team (and they can tell the difference between a line animal and a REMF). They'll be following Globe IHC from time to time and covering other fires on their own. I was told they plan to be covering out-of-region fires this summer, too. They'll also be working for Gannett, which owns the Republic, so they'll be reporting for about 100 newspapers and t.v. stations, the reporter said.

Other news: Looking dry in the Southwest. Everyone keeps waiting for something to pop definitively. AZ land department is trying to get severity funds to start patrols, but not enough acres appear to have burned yet to jumpstart the politics.

Stay safe.
Bucky O.

06/01 Jobs, Series 462 and 455 are updated, the Month of May is archived. Byron the Aussie kid researching bushfires says, "Thank you for all that you have done for me. Also I have plenty of info about bushfires."


06/01 Well, it seems things are starting to heat up all around looks like its going to be another busy year. My buddy BCdavis will be getting his share of work with his new job. Well, I hope to get some good trips out this year I don't think it will be hard with the way its starting off. Oh yeh BCdavis drop me your email address and I will keep you up on the boys back east.


06/01 Horrible,

I have almost always been treated exceptionally well by the MN DNR foresters I have worked with over the past 15+ years. I do not think that any of the MN DNR employees I worked alongside were "horrible" people. In fact I don't believe that I have called any of the people in the DNR horrible. In general I have the highest respect for the employees of the MN DNR and have been proud to work with them. That said....

I HAVE stated that MN treats its' firefighters horribly...but I don't think that this is intentional for the most part. I do believe that the top fire management official in the MN DNR is unqualified for his position and has a profound lack of understanding of how to competently fulfill his duties. I also believe that this has led to a rapid deterioration of Minnesota's ability to suppress wildfire and a sharp increase in the cost of fire suppression in MN. I believe that there is a lack of leadership in the MN DNR which is very bad in a "top down" organization like the MN DNR. I also don't believe that there are many MN DNR foresters that would argue those points. For the most part I believe that the "horrible treatment" is due to neglect,a lack of communication, a lack of strategic forethought, and the accumulated effects of fear. I have quite a bit of communication with your peers in the DNR and to a great extent they are fearful of making any bold or critical suggestions to their superiors. They fear being rebuked. They fear being sanctioned. They fear being fired! With good reason. To appear to criticize the MN DNR is considered by top Forestry officials to be insubordination and adequate grounds for dismissal.

The MN DNR commissioner (a former FBI agent) following the directive of our governor (a former "pro" wrestler) decreed that the budget will NOT increase, period. Then, violating his own directive committed nearly 15 million dollars on 2 pieces of fire fighting equipment (2 Bombardier CL215 waterbombers). Would you dare mention this contradiction to your superiors? If so would they dare mention it to theirs? I bet not! How can one of Minnesota's largest employers operate in a efficient manner when no one dares appear to criticize decisions made by their superiors? No private business possibly could.

How about the myriad of other contradictions in MN DNR fire policy that seem to defy common sense. I present as evidence your own statement that "effective this year, agencies won't red card contractors. Contractors wishing to be available for out of state use will need to contract with the USFS." . What MN contractor could survive on Minnesota's "2 month maximum" fire season? They MUST contract out of state. And they are definitely a resource that MN will need in a bad fire year. In fact we needed them last year and were lucky they were available. But instead of nurturing or supporting them the direction went out from the top DNR Fire official(s) that "smokechasers" that work for contractors will no longer be redcarded by the DNR. The clear message being sent to MN contractors is if you compete with the DNR for firefighters by offering fair market wages to experienced firefighters you will be punished by the DNR.

Any serious firefighter that wants to justify the huge commitment that one must make to be a serious firefighter has three choices in MN. CLICK HERE for those choices and the rest of Dana's post.

06/01 "Horrible" Minnesota Guys --

While I agree with most of your statements, I must disagree with the training statements. I have to beg, borrow and steal to get into any training in Minnesota. Hell, I've even offered to pay for the classes myself; no dice. I'm normally always avaialbe in MN in April, 3/4 of May and often October. The classes seem to get filled with Full Time Foresters who don't really want anything to do with fire; they want to plant Aspens. More Timber sales. Often times possibly they want a week away from the office.

<<Now I'm getting into policy issues for the whole group; the following are not directed at you personally...>>

Plus, what about the policy that full time foresters can only go on one two week tour a year? (Unless the national planning level goes to some astronomical level, I think 4 or 5. Correct me if I'm wrong on that one.)

In my opinion, MN needs to decide weather or not the state wishes to have a fire good/adequate fire suppresion force. In my opinion, they have made the decision they do not.

When the boundary waters blowdown goes up in smoke (and it will, one of these years) the public outcry is going to be trememdous. Questions will come up such as the fed's funded to MEL, why didn't the state learn and follow? In my opinion, heads are going to roll once that event occurs; and a few people out there (even some FT'ers in MN DNR), myself and probably Mr. Linscott are going to be there asking the same questions.

While I have no doubt of your dedication, I have not seen it in my supervisors when I work in MN DNR fire programs.

Although, I will admit MN isn't a lost hope for fire. The USFWS does a pretty good job comparably speaking. And that's a good point.....How come the FWS maintains a full compliment of fire personnel throughout MN (overhead down), including 1039 temps, but MN-DNR does not feel the need to staff comprable personnel?


06/01 hey all-

enjoy your site. found a site that i thought many others may be interested in if you havent posted already. www.firewise.org/pubs/peak_fire_seasons.

also, curious to find out if other hotshot crews or type 1 crews have gone through inspections from ffmo. had inspection after our critical and wondered if other crews have gone through this inspection. temps are heating up all over. stay hydrated!


Cool link! Ab.

06/01 The Nature Conservancy had a good article in their May/June issue: Promethius Unbound

I found these points interesting... Who woulda thought?

  • The Conservancy stands alone among American conservation organizations by having the only in-house fire-management staff.
  • They burn from 60,000 to 70,000 acres annually.
  • Over the past 12 years, the organization has conducted 3,892 prescribed burns with only 20 escapes, all of them minor.


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