JULY 2001


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07/31 hey all,

i raised the question about medical emergencies. as a crewboss, i am always concerned about injuries that are outside our capabilties. i carry a adjustable C-collar and some large, thick pads plus that stupid little med kit they issue. i also carry 200ft of static kermantal rope, 3 carabiners rated above 3000lbs and 3 pieces of webbing. most of you will say i am nuts for carrying the extra weight but if a crew member falls down a steep slope, i have the ability to reach that person in a safe and rapid manor. i am not qualified to carry any meds other than whats in the first aid pack. and by the way, if someone needs an aspirin, they get it themselves. i have a good idea what to do for a major trauma injury but to maintain the quality of care til that person could be transported is a is a scary thought.

if anyone has ideas, i would love to hear them.
BC Davis

07/31 Kicks and Ab,

Thanks a bunch. This list of gear you sent has great value. Fires going in Washington; Port Kelly out after 5,000 acres and 6 wind mills; Union Valley seems to still be going.
No new news, farmers starting to burn off stubble fields (freaked me out this afternoon to see a column with a cap within my view, thanks goodness on the wrong side of the Columbia River). Fuels 135 are looking real dry, sagebrush is all washed out and cheat grass looks almost yellow, white color.


07/31 I was trying to find more info and pics of the Proteus Fire Fighting Machine. Any help is appreciated.

Dr. Mark

Hi Dr. Mark. This is Dr. Ab. You can track the Proteus discussion beginning sometime around mid-month of July. To make it easier for people to find the Proteus, I renamed the machine we had called "forwarder" to Proteus on the Valley Complex page and cross referenced it on the Equipment2 page. The link to its website is in its description; if you click on its name on the photo page, you'll go to the description and photographer info. Thanks to Doorsmaurer for sending in the larger pic of the Proteus. Ab.

07/23 Another Safety Comment following the 1994 Stand Down for SAFETY.
Historical Background from Ab.
Previous comments:
From:     James Brain:R6/PNW
Date:     Jul 15,94 11:21 AM
   Please see that everyone including those who are involved in a support 
role to fire gets this. Reply directly to the request for safety message 
ideas to the WO with a cc to our AFM mail box. Safety
From:                             Mail Room:R06FO3A
Postmark:  Jul 20,94   2:02 PM    Delivered: Jul 20,94    3:01 PM
Status:    Previously read Filed
Subject:   5100/5700 "Stand Down" for Safety
United States Forest Service       Gifford Pinchot   6926 E. Fourth Plain Blvd
Department of Agriculture          National Forest   P.O. Box 8944
                                                     Vancouver, WA 98668-8944
                                  (206) 750-5000     TDD (206) 750-5003
Reply To:  5100/5700               Date: July 20, 1994
Subject:   "Stand Down" for Safety
To:        WO Fire and Aviation
The four ranger districts and the National Volcanic monument, on the 
Gifford Pinchot National Forest, have actively participated in this 
well-timed request to "Stand Down" and revisit the safety procedures 
for fighting fires aggressively but safely.
There were many excellent thoughts and insights provided by our employees.
It is difficult to narrow these down to just two to be taken forward. We 
hope we have captured a thought or need that may not have been identified 
by others.
Our ideas that we would like to carry forward to you are:
1.   "Every" fire must have a lead person who has the capability, 
knowledge, and training to see the "big" picture. This person must 
be familiar with the terrain, prevalent weather conditions, and fuel 
types commonly found in this area. Additionally, this person must 
know and understand Fire Behavior and know how to organize and staff 
for his/her needs to fight fire aggressively and safely.
2.   When selecting the person who shall perform the "lookout" position, 
it should not be the person with the least experience, weakest in physical 
condition; rather, it should be a person with knowledge in reading weather 
signs, who understands fire behavior and can make well-informed decisions 
quickly. The safety and life of many rests with this person, and we should 
not limit ourselves on the quality of the person selected.
We sincerely hope that our ideas will be of benefit.
/s/ Fredrick A. Dorn (Acting for)
Forest Supervisor

07/31 Hello Ab and all, Atta_gal here...

I am writing in response to questions about EMT line gear and certification. I've worked as a FF and EMT at the USFS SRNF (R5). As a line EMT, I carried a 10 man first-aid kit and a radio, as well as a canvas carrier. I also (by choice) carried a couple of c-collars. I could have carried a trauma kit, however, I did not, because my primary duties were that of FF. Here at our forest, we did not have any specific outlines on what we were to actually carry with us, except for the 10 man kit. Backboards, major trauma kits, O2 and accessory items are left at the engine, in their appropriate compartments, as the FS does not use people in primary positions as EMT's, they are A.D.'d per incident as needed.

EMT's are allowed to practice within their scope of training and certification, while at an incident, nationwide. Patient care is transferred to local EMS personnel, upon their arrival to the incident. There are different levels of training which are taught, not only at colleges, but also at some volunteer ambulance companies and fire departments. Check your state's EMS Agency for classes and areas where they are taught. The most widely and nationally accepted coursework comes from the USDOT. (I teach this particular version, myself). These courses are called National Standard Curriculum, which can be tailored to individual needs. They consist of the levels of First Responder, EMT-Basic (ambulance and non-ambulance, combitube and defibrillator certification may or may not be included), EMT-Intermediate and EMT-Paramedic. Training, certification and licensure requirements are set forth by each individual state EMS Agency. Certifications and licenses issued are individually maintained and governed by your local EMS agencies. Some agencies such as CDF and the NPS certify their own personnel.

I hope this is of some help to some readers. I would be more than happy to answer any questions if I can...and if I can't help with answers, I would be more than happy to direct you to someone who can. I also suggest that you contact your Forest or Agencies' Safety Officer for information regarding this subject as well. I may personally be contacted at atta_gal@yahoo.com, feel free to write anytime.

Take Care Y'all,

07/31 Ab,

There is a very interesting article on the Thirty Mile tragedy in the Seattle Times, Sunday June 29th edition. I regret that I am so computer illiterate that I do not know how to send it as a link.

Old Fire Guy

Firescribe's message that came in just after yours included a link. Thanks to you both. Everyone, this is a must read. BE SAFE. Ab.

Here it is: http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/

07/31 Ol' Fire Dawg and others,

In my Firefighter I class (ROP program -CDF primary instructor with help from 2 city departments and FS), they were pushing further certs, both for EMT and HAZMAT. They did not recommend chainsaw training, but we really needed and had trouble finding experienced chainsaw people at the end of the BigBar Incident.

I was wondering what to tell our newest, youngest folks who want to make fire a career. EMT training is fairly easy to find at local jr colleges and universities. HAZMAT is inexpensive and fairly available training in my area. Chainsaw training seems a must to me, if nothing more than to be able to safely remove trees that come down across exit roads. Even I have used a chainsaw for that purpose. It takes a lot of practice to fell medium to large trees - and for people who have been experts, even takes a while to get back on the "flow" of felling, or so I've been told.

So - should everyone who can - get EMT? HAZMAT? What about chainsaws? Anything else?

07/31 Danny asked about smokejumpers:

From Chapter 63 of the 2001 National Mobe Guide, which can be downloaded at:

It says:


63.1 NUMBERS: There are approximately 429 smokejumpers in the system.
Number and locations are as follows:

          BLM Alaska                (Fairbanks)                 68
          FS Region 1               (Missoula)                  67
                                    (Grangeville)               30
                                    (West Yellowstone)          15
          FS Region 4               (McCall)                    70
          BLM Great Basin           (Boise)                     84
          FS Region 5               (Redding)                   40
          FS Region 6               (N. Cascade)                20
                                    (Redmond)                   35
Unfortunately, although there is a great deal of information in the Nat'l Mobe Guide, it doesn't say how many jumpers it takes to change a lightbulb. Does anyone out there know the answer to that?


07/31 Ab.

In regards your conversation on EMT's. I think that all regions should look at a program that has been active for many years in R1 and R6. The Incident Medical Specialist Program provides the protocols necessary to make it legal for an EMT to administer over-the-counter meds such as asprin, ibuprofin, cold meds and epinephrine (never in an inhaler) to firefighters on the line, as well as providing a system that covers wound care (blisters, cuts, rashes etc...) that are not covered under normal EMT protocols. Essentially when on an assignment the EMT functions only under established IMS protocols not their EMT protocols. IMS protocols are designed around the knowledge that it could take several hours to get a seriously injured firefighter out of the woods. Everytime an EMT gives out an asprin on the line or patches up a blister under their standard protocols they are risking their certification as well as personal liability.

In R6 an Incident Medical Team complete with Manager and Line Qual's EMT's is automatically dispatched with any Type 1 or 2 Team dispatched. Each team tries to have at least one Helicopter trained individual as well. These teams come with the standard kits as well as their specialized kits with all the over-the-counter meds, eye-wash kits and wound care supplies. In addition they come with a chain-of-command which provides for communication and prevents such tragedies as what happened in R5 last year when an EMT, whom I understand had not checked-in with anyone, died of heat stroke on the line. This also eliminates the ALS Ambulance in camp that can help with a critical injury but can't do a thing for crews with tired feet, scratchy eyes, poison oak and a case of the camp crud. It also eliminates the need for the Incident Management Team to have to figure out medical care on each incident. It is something to be considered.

Ol' Fire Dawg

Thanks for the info, Ol' Fire Dawg. Can you (or anyone) educate us a little on the benefits of being FF1 or FF2 and EMT qual'd, the types of emergencies one would be able to/not able to handle, etc? Ab.

07/31 Here's an online article on legislation to provide vollies bennies from Firescribe:


07/31 A forward from TC who says, "Thought folks might be interested in this!"

I'm not sure how to distribute this message to all employees in the Region so I'm asking a favor of you. Could you please pass this information on to the employees in your respective units. As you are all aware the Memorial Service for our 4 fallen firefighters occurred yesterday (July 24) in Yakima, WA. One of our local TV stations televised the whole event beginning at noon with the fire engine processional which was about 6 miles long and ending with the service which occurred at the Yakima Sundome and lasted a couple hours. It was a somber day but a day to remember. For those employees who couldn't make it to the service, the television station has offered to make video copies for $25.00 each with all of the money to be donated to the Okanogan-Wenatchee Firefighters Memorial fund. Anyone who might be interested should send a check for $25.00 to

KNDO Television,
1608 S. 24th Avenue,
Yakima, WA 98902.

Thank you! ..bc

p.s. I have forwarded this message to all employees on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests.

07/31 been there, done that:

not a very original s/n, but your views are well taken..... hope the disgruntled read what you had to say. so sad; those in management don't understand those they lead, and those they lead think management has no clue & wouldn't care if they did.

This is an excellent forum in which to vent - but never forget there are other potential firefighters who may avoid stepping up to the challenge and their goals.

whether management, overhead, support, ground pounder, engine slug, heli-bratt, jumper, or a pilot - you are a team & you are heroes; no weakest links: BE SAFE

old & grey in R5

07/31 Last night someone on firechat was asking what a line EMT carries besides personal gear. Someone else said that a fireline EMT kit probably contains a c-collar and compress bandages for large chainsaw wounds, aspirin and ibuprofin, epinephrine inhalers for bee stings or smoke inhalation airway inflamation. Can anyone add to that?


07/31 Ab,

In re: Don Zimmerman's request for a gear list, here's one that I've been "tweaking" recently. I usually print off a copy as a check sheet when repacking. As always, go "high performance, low bulk and weight".


Anyone wants this, I could send you a copy. Ab.

07/31 Interstate Products, Inc is offering a Free Cool Draft Unit all Fire Fighting Agencies with the purchase of 100 gallons of foam. Please call 1-800-474-7294 Check out our site at www.interstateproducts.com
07/30 Probably the best thing about a site such as this is that we learn there are two sides to each story... such as the comments about the Park Service and their fire program... I too have worked for the Park Service as well as the Forest Service ...my experience with the Park was nothing like the one described. I enjoyed my time with the PArk Service and wouldn't mind another opportunity.

I found there were good fire folks there with training and experience to do the job right. Management was also in tune with the fire program. I will admit there were times when we were not allowed off Park but that was due to extreme conditions in our Park... there are also times with the Forest Service as well when initial attack engines were returned to their Ranger district while crews from elsewhere remained on the district fires for next several weeks. But we did as we were told and found other fires to fight.

There will always be discontent with any program and sometimes there needs to be some understanding of the whole picture... and if someone is not satisfied with the program maybe they need to offer some suggestions to improve it or in worst case look for another agency. I am not saying that the opinions expressed were wrong... I have just had a different experience

sign me...been there, done that

07/30 chelan fire
4000 acres
10% containment
more to follow
looks like a little bit of quiet coming today


Thanks for the update, doc. Technically it's called the Union Valley Fire (SE WA state) if you want to read about it in the sit report. A news report: Seattle Post-Intelligencer Ab.

07/30 Dear MOC4546:

I could'nt agree with your sentiments more strongly! I worked for the NPS three times. The last time was very bitter. These managers just do anything they want to. The cult of fire is alive and well. It is not because the rules are bad but that behind closed doors and with old friends they can get away with it. I am not a novice. If you work across fifteen years you learn a lot of things. I worked at L.A.V.E. during 1999 and went to the Sadler Complex and was on four other fires as well. At the end of the season the superintendent of the Western Region sent me a letter of commendation for the way I handled myself during the investigation and for my efforts. During the next weeks things got screwy. I was asked by the Park Superintendent to give him an honest evaluation of personel. I did. People were crying for personel and the last week we were told we could be kept on for AD wages. No OT or H pay. Would any permanent in fire go on an assignment for free? I chose not to endanger my life for pennies. I signed a piece of paper guaranteed to come back on the next season. During the winter I was called and told that I couldn't be brought back because of economics. Then I saw an add for the same job at the same place. I applied and recieved a letter saying I was referrred but not selected. I was outraged. I recieved an exceptional on the written and oral evaluations and personel references. Strange!

IT GETS BETTER. I took a job at Golden Gate hoping to be in the mix in 2000. I attended national fire training of refresher, pack test, and shelter. I was told that I had to take a field excercise of a flag course with stations on my day off to qualify for off park assignments. This was/is complete bullsh**! Dan <snip> and Mike <snip> instituted this program and say that they feel good about it as IT may generate a new career for them. Dan took a job at Yosemite. He did tell me that he was going to lessen the standard later in the season. I never heard from them. Myself and about 100 others from Golden Gate never saw a fire during 2000. I called NorCal Tom and he was not even aware that this was going on. I had the Park Manager, Supervisor, and Chief Ranger call these incompetents on my behalf. Nothing. When will all of this bullsh** end? It is not the fault of the individual firefighters that the sh** happens on fires. It is the fault of the Managers for picking Crew Bosses because of friendship or other accounts. Each and every crew boss or manager should have a psychological profile done on them to see if they can do the job in a competent manner.

If private companies were run like the fire organization all personel would be looking for another job.

Done in to the Truth!

07/30 G'morning all,

A few catch'ups:

Re Firechat: While we were off on fire part of last week, something happened to the nickname file and it seems all were lost. Those of you who signed up with special monikers, please do so again. We're still working out the bugs in this system.

Re Photos:Thanks to all contributors. We're trying to get to them as time allows. There are a few new ones - a nice yellow and blue Ventura Co. Helo on the Heli4 page and another, Fillmore Fire '99, second from last at the bottom of the Fire5 page. I shifted the "torchin" photo to a new Fire6 Page. Send in more flamage and I'll put it up (as time permits in this busy fire season).


07/30 Just returned from the 30 mile fire. After visiting the accident site to pay my respects and flying the fire, there are still many questions. It is not the text book fire. There will always be the "If only they would of", but what would we have done if faced with the same situation? My own belief after seeing the site is that scree or talus slopes, while usually free of fuel, do not allow the ability to secure the bottom edge of a shelter. Hot gasses flow right around the pockets in the slope.

Lest we forget

07/30 Good article about 30 mile



07/30 Who has a list of stuff we carry in our bags personal and PPE? I had a bunch and have given them all away. Some of my new people want the list and I have nothing to give them.

Don Zimmerman, Hanford Fire

One list a bunch of ya'll made is posted on the FAQ page. Is this the one? Ab.

07/29 Im hearing some rumors of a possible Eng and W/T Burn-over with injuries on the Big Bend Incident in the Shasta Unit near Burney, Ca. If anybody has any news on this Pls-Pls-Pls let us know. Its shaping up to be a dangerous one in Nor Cal this year.

Be safe out there gang.

07/29 Hey AB and all out there,

A case of Pnuemonia and asthma complications have lead me to go off duty for the next 3 weeks, so I guess I have a bit of time to get caught up in here.

Stampede: The Oregon health and safety does put out a book on chainsaw safety, I don't have the number but try any of the ODF offices and someone there could probably point you in the right direction. (See the wlf.com links page under state.)

This season is having it's highs and lows, hopefully the remainder will be safe.

To anyone with knowledge: What is the latest deal with FS hiring? I heard that permanent hiring was closed for the summer, but that info may have been incorrect. If anyone can point me in the proper direction (I don't want to wait on hold to talk to someone at ASAP) please drop a message.

Best of luck to you all, hopefully I'll be out there again soon.


07/29 Smoke Jumpers:

Would anyone be able to state how many bases and number of jumpers @ each?


07/29 New fire start in Chelan WA this afternoon, dispatched a type 2 team. As of 1800 reported at 100 acres with one house burned and other threatened. Stay tuned.

Washington Person

07/29 From the comfort and safety of my home, I read with increasing amazement of the situations which await firefighters. You, also, could be sitting comfortably in your homes, but you are not. My granddaughter is a firefighter also, which led to my studying the art. Can't get off the computer as there are so many places to go with pictures, etc. If is totally fascinating to a homebody like myself as I used to be a mountain climber, etc., but due to a skiing injury am not able to pursue those activities any longer.

I just ache to be able to join your forces, and I admire everyone who has done so. In the future I will try to keep up with all the wonderful things you people do to help keep people like me safe.

I love you all.


07/28 hi ab,

a BIG hug to you. :) i am able to access the aap site now , i believe from your posting on the board. it still has some problems, but is at least readable.

again , THANK YOU for your help


Donna, we all owe a big thanks to Tree (a firechat person) who e-mailed the web person at the Airtanker Board delineating their main page problem and laying out the solution. Thanks, Tree! Ab.

07/28 Last year while working in Oregon I came across a book about the size of the fireline handbook concerning overall saw use, safety, falling etc; It was either from OSHA or from a similar state agency in Oregon. Does this ring any bells with anyone? I'd like to find one, or if anyone knows of any other good similar books/guides from other sources let me know. Thanks and be safe.


07/28 Hey all you guys and gals who are waiting to come west. Your time may be drawing near. We have two fires in norcal that are sucking up resources, at least folks I know - one on the Shasta T and one on the Plumas. Plumas fire -- sit report says 600 acres. It's over 3000!

Come on out, but be safe all.

07/27 Some Great news articles here on the Thirtymile Fire Memorial Service:



Thanks, TC. Ab.

07/27 In response to "Mike from Arroyo Grande, CA"'s posting of July 14 about the "Chaplaincy" program in CDF, I'm glad to see someone (CDF) finally understand the importance of such a program in the fire community. I hope it will spill over into the federal agencies as well. As much as the fire community seems to see itself as a quasi-military organization, I was surprised when I became involved in it a year ago, to find out that there is currently no chaplaincy program at the federal level, at least, patterned after the military chaplaincy. Incidents such as the recent deaths at the Thirty Mile fire, the tragedy at Storm King, and the fatalities that occur each fire season that may be less well known, but just as difficult to deal with, have strong emotional and spiritual implications for many people. When tragedy strikes, people need an anchor to get them through it, and what better way to meet those needs than to have their own fellow firefighters trained to help them. I hope that the CDF will continue to support the chaplaincy program. For those who don't like the religious flavor of the program, and indeed that is what chaplaincy is about, simply don't participate.


07/27 A few notes from Ab:

Some of you with personal or non-commercial fire pages have asked that we have links to them on wlf.com. Tom (not norcal Tom), Jim, A.L., some others... You have probably sent those links in at some point and we've mentioned them on theysaid. I'm willing to make a special links page that can be accessed through our main links page and call it something like personal fire pages. I'd also like to do the same for special resources pages like engine crew links. Danny, you got a list of all those links? Want to do a little research for me? Readers, if you want a link in, send it to us for review.

Another note. We are getting a number of questions here about what's wrong with the main page of the airtanker pilot's board. Spammed by phoschek so to speak. Some readers say they've written in and the reply has been that all is well. On my laptop in Netscape, that main page is messed up - 1/4 is yellow with a big red Sorry! and none of the links work. 40% of our folks reading theysaid still use Netscape. My guess is that you aap folks are loosing a great number of potential viewers. Would the powers that be on the aap board please fix it to be readable by laptops on Netscape so your folks quit e-mailing us? <grumble> <snort>

07/27 MOC4546

Is the person responsible for your diatribe, the same one who is trying to take down aviation, because they won't kiss his butt!!!? Sounds like a deputy chief ranger needs to retire.


07/27 As a result of requests from readers and those visiting firechat, I have created a page of links to the webpages and rosters of the National Interagency Incident Management teams (and Geographic Area Coordination Centers). The link for this page is now located on the wlf.com Links page under Federal Pages. Go check out yer favorite team's website or find the link to the rotation schedule.


07/27 The original announcement of the 1994 Stand Down for SAFETY.
Historical Background from Ab.

Department of Agriculture, United States Forest Service, Washington Office
12th & Independence SW
Washington, DC 20090-6090

Reply to: 5100/5700 Date: July 13, 1994

Subject: Fire and Aviation 'STAND DOWN FOR SAFETY"

To: Regional and Area Fire and Aviation Directors


In view of the extreme fire season that we anticipate to continue, we are asking each fire and aviation unit (smokejumper, helicopter and airtanker bases, including contract flight crewmembers; hotshot and engine crews; in-house flight groups; dispatch offices; and anyone else who is interested) TO 'STAND DOWN` FOR ONE HOUR ON MONDAY, JULY 18th, FOR A 'TAILGATE` SAFETY SESSION.

Please use this hour to identify what special measures we need to take to finish this fire season safely. During the session, safety procedures such as the "Fire Orders," "Fire Situations That Shout Watch Out," "The 12 Standard Aviation Questions That Could Save Your Life" (see enclosed) or other appropriate material should be used as the basis for discussion.

We request each unit TO SUBMIT THE ONE OR TWO IDEAS WHICH BEST EXPRESS EACH UNIT'S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY for the remainder of the 1994 Fire season. Please submit your ideas by DG (send to SAFETY 94:W02A) no later than July 20th.

We will compile and distribute the ideas so that all employees and our partners in fire and aviation may benefit. STAND UP FOR SAFETY!

/s/ Mary Jo Lavin

Fire and Aviation Management

07/27 Is the 1999 version of the USFS Health and Safety Handbook online? If so, can someone post the URL here for it?



07/27 The National Park Service (NPS) has demonstrated once again that their primary mission in Fire Management is not to maintain it but get rid of it. A prime example is the lack of support in one California park area, where this season almost an entire module is left vacant of seven fire postions (including some permanent slots) because NPS won't do the following:

A. Bring the wage levels up the way the Forest Service and BLM have done.

B. Keep people in acting postions for up to two years in order to save money.

C. Reduce interest in open seasonal and permanent fire positions because NPS is "trying" to get out of the housing business for Fire people (but keep giving housing to other NPS workers). Making them find affordable housing of their own where it doesn't exist won't get new people in the door. You think they will find someone who will give up their entire months pay just for housing?

D. NPS keeps playing the "Lets keep our forces at home when the rest of the world is burning but support fire requests by ordering crews from places like Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa", thus keeping our home Fire people from making quality money by not letting them go off-park.

I just found out about a guy who worked in a Park FMO office for over five years in California while his wife and kids lived up in the next state. They couldn't fill the FMO position for over a year so he was the actor, with no increase of pay.

This season they couldn't recruit anyone to fill either the open seasonal or newly opened permanent positions because of lower pay, no benifits, no affordable or government housing, no opportunities for overtime or off-park assignments (I really can't understand why ANYONE wouldn't jump on that opportunity). You may be asking "Where did last year's firefighters go?" Some went to other Fire Organzations and some gave it up because they couldn't break in and went to new careers. So this season they left an entire module VACANT. Well, this guy got a good opportunity offered to him which would get him closer to home and family at a higher wage and a better position, and he took it. I applaud him for jumping at the better opportunity and I wonder how he put up with the BS they made him go through. Now a Bio-Tech will be taking his place, and its a person who has no desire to be in Fire.

What's going on NPS? Why can't you bring the wages up to the other federal agencies? Why does your Overhead Management and Human Resources keep playing games with Fire Management by not offering competative wages, government housing, and cease manipulating things to your advantage because "This is the way we're going to do it, because we can." Why do you keep proving to all federal employees that NPS is deserving of the term "The most Nepotistic and Empire Building organization in the US Government".


If NPS wants out of the Fire Game, then stop playing around and have BLM, the Forest Service, or CDF come in an do Fire Management. Stop these half-assed attempts to undermine it.


07/27 Sorry Chris,

A few weeks ago when the Martis fire started a web cam operated by KRCA Ch.3 in Sacramento, Ca got a great shot of the fire on its Ski Cam located near Truckee, Ca on I-80. It was an AWESOME SHOT!


Think that one was the first? Ab.


YELLOWSTONE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. -- A new webcam has been installed in Yellowstone atop the lookout tower on Mount Washburn. The new webcam serves as an additional tool in keeping watch for fires in Yellowstone. The webcam picture is refreshed every 60 seconds, and the position in which it is pointing is changed periodically by Park personnel. To view the Mount Washburn webcam, go to the Yellowstone Net webcam page @ www.yellowstone.net/webcamlive4.php


07/26 A fire reported today is visible in real time from the My Washburn web cam. The lookout reports that the fire is about 3 acres located between Mt Washburn and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone which can be seen in the background. This may be the first web cam located in position to observe a fire.


Thanks Chris. Folks, the url is on the next post. Ab.

07/26 More on the MEA:

Max Baucus (D-Mont) asks for waiver for firefighters


07/26 Information on Yosemite fire


and check the wlf.com news page for more info as the day progresses.


07/26 this fire is about 300 acres 2300hrs Wed; news clip shows guys in orange; must be CDF fire; no news on any websites yet

R5 Mom

Hi R5 Mom, sorry I wasn't awake to post your reply. Morning's sit report says you're right: 300 acres, it is CDF and is called the Briceburg. No archived sit in html, gonna hafta read it in pdf. Ab.

07/26 Ab-
One again we suffer the family loss of wildland firefighters,
of all the words I've read, none ring truer than:
      "one or more of our professional mantras was not remembered"
a tragedy of this sorts, nearly classical wildland fatalities,
      mopping up on an "unassuming" burn;
reinforce the fact, that no wildfire is safe until the tips of your fingers
in the ash
      at the fire's edge, tells you the SOB is out!
Out there, on that cold, now controlled sector,
the ghosts of our sisters and brothers
are symbols of the sacrifice-
wildland firefighting demands the unique
the dedicated
those willing to sweat season after season.
God knows the pay is marginal,
certainly the living conditions generally suck.
Recently I read that smoke from wildfire maybe more harmful
      to lungs than previously thought.
Since '65 this business has coursed through my veins.
Each day I look to the geographical crest,
What are the cloud formations? What is the prevailing wind?
Predicted RH?
What's 24 & 48 hours out, headed this way?
Safety First.


07/25 Anybody got the real info on the new Yosemite Fire? Heard oneplace it was 50 acres in steep terrain, 15 mi E of Mariposa along Hwy 140, will there be joint command?

Wantin' some info

07/25 hey everyone!

just thought i would let anyone who was still wondering know that i finally got the news i was looking for :) i finally got a third doctor to give me a favorable opinion that diabetics can fight wildfires. no word yet on when i will be on a fire (crew boss-and crew-are on a fire) but it won't be long now. so i'll see you guys on the line. take care and be safe!


Good news! Be safe yourself. Ab.

07/25 All who are questioning the MEA, the topic is gathering momentum:

the Washington Post:

and the Philadelphia Enquirer

Someone should contact the woman mentioned in the articles with the url for theysaid (unless she's a lurker already?).

Congressman Stupak's efforts are mentioned. Here's the Stupak info that was discussed early in July on theysaid, the sample letter for the letter writing campaign, the letter from a Congressman Stupak gathering support for increasing MEA and the supporting article from AZ Republic.


07/25 Doorsmaurer,

The picture you indicated is indeed the prototype. There are currently 3 Proteus' ready for dispatch through Rough Terrain Technologies Group in Missoula, MT. Contact them at 406-543-6822 or at www.rttechgroup.com for more info.


07/25 Someone asked about the RH and other conditions on the Thirtymile ... if you go to the main RAWS website at www.fs.fed.us/raws you can search up data for RAWS stations for any day/time/location. Between 1400 and 1600 on July 10th the RH was down to 10 at the FIRST BUTTE station about 11 miles from the fire. Temps were in the mid-80s with wind gusts to 17 mph. I don't know what the conditions on the fire were like compared to that. But at another station about 25 miles from the fire, the RH dropped to FIVE with temp of 101 and winds gusting to 19 mph.


07/25 I have been trying to access the lighting site for a few weeks now and it keeps coming up that it's not available. What up with that?

About head lamps, Petzel has a new LED head lamp out. I have one and it's not on the level of the Duo but it is light and easy to store. It uses 3-3A batteries and it is suppose to last for a long time. I use it as a back up to my battery eating Duo.

Keep your heads up, and minds sharp, fire season ain't over yet.

07/25 Scientists are predicting less fire this year then last.



I guess when this year is over, the proof will be in the pudding. All I know is that we've had record lack of ppt where I am and the fuel loading is massive. Yeah, and they need a model that takes into account the last 200 years, not just the last 20!


07/25 R8 Morning sit report was in MS-word yesterday as opposed to pdf, Will it continue?, Will others follow?


07/25 I have kids of my own, and feel terrible about the young ages of the fire victims. I would like to just let them rest in peace. But I would like to point out a few items that I think should be looked at.

When i took my basic 32 quite some time ago, from a federal retiree with a long fire background, he said.. "We get our best licks in at night." I totally agree. Some regional/forest managers feel the risks of using hand tools at night outweigh the benefits... i totally disagree.

From what I have gleaned from the newspaper articles, there was no night shift on the 30-mile while it was small.

I thought the hard lesson of delaying fire suppression because of the dark and/or overtime costs was learned with the Oakland/Berkley fire last decade. Why does the taxpayer pay Type I crews to stay in physical shape if they are not allowed to put in a double shift and achive Control or Out instead of just Containment?

If there are true safety concerns, why not pull firefighters off line from 1400 to 1800 when fire behavior is most likely to be extreme? (Dont; waste your words talking about nightime southern California Santa Anna's, that is a different realm, and the exception to most other areas).

This fire was not on a cliff in the middle of the wilderness..it was on flat ground, along a road, good footing. There were a few snags...these can be avoided at night with some ribbon. Mop up at night would have presented no excessive dangers.

Point 2 - I read in one newspaper that the RH was 7% at the time of the blow up. Don't quote me on this.. its what i read and it could be wrong..maybe it was 17%... 7% seems absurdly low to me. I don't think I have ever heard of a 7% RH at anytime before in northwest timber.. or any forest environment. So, it could be a misprint.

But, if it was 7%? That to me is time to de-emphasize the fight fire aggessively, and emphasize.. But provide for safety first.

Sign me as "Loves-night-shifts"

07/25 Hey Fire Nut,

That sure sounds like that awesome machine we worked with at the Full Circle fire at the Lost Trail Ski Resort last year. There's a picture that I took under the Valley Complex photo page (entitled Forwarder). When it was working, the guy who was running it made it look like it was a creature that we never saw before. He was so smooth. Check out the picture and let me know if that is the prototype.


07/25 Sammi,

I can't recall everything 100%, but I was online late one night and found a company run by a brother of a hotshot crew member that was killed on Storm King, and he was developing some sort of shelter that could protect people from direct flame contact and provide protection at much higher heat levels. It was able to do this cause it did not use a glue to hold the fiberglass to the aluminum, instead this new shelter was "sown" together and used some different materials. The company itself isn't even ready to release a demo shelter for several years to come, as I recall. Even then, can you imagine all the red tape it would go through to get it approved for use on the line?

Here is the link for anyone who wants to read up. Storm King Mountain Technologies www.stormkingmtn.com/

Douglas from NC

07/24 It seems that Proteus has generated quite a bit of interest on this site. The company that mahufactures Proteus is Rough Terrain Technologies Group (RTTG) located in Missoula, Montana. One of my best friends is the owner of this company. These machines are incredible machines! The company owns and operates three of these machines. The capabilities of Proteus is incredible. 50% slope capability, GPS, Weather monitoring system on board, video cameras around the machine, 600gpm @ 150psi pump, helicopter reloading capability, 3000 gallon tank, operator controlled water cannon, etc... If you need more information, visit www.rttechgroup.com. The company is basically a self contained fire fighting company. They also have dozers, feller bunchers, lowboy tractors, water tenders, water trucks, water trailers, etc... They've basically got a lot of stuff!!! Their phone number is (406)543-6822. They operate multiple companies off of this phone number so don't think you dialed the wrong number. Just ask for Mike Mielke or Scott. Hope it helps you guys out. I encourage anyone to use this company. Everyone on their staff is redcarded, etc... Lots of fire time under thier belts. Contact them for info on the Valley Complex fires of 2000 as they were on them for a VERY long period of time.

Fire Nut

07/24 From Firescribe:

Info on coverage of the 30-mi firefighters memorial service:

Info on donations to the 30-mi firefighters memorial funds:



07/24 On July 21st a memorial for the Battlement Creek fire was dedicated in Parachute, Colorado. Parachute is located on I-70 between Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs. The 1976 fire took the life of an air tanker pilot and three members of the Mormon Lake Hotshot crew in two separate incidents. One Mormon Lake Hotshot was severely burned, but survived. (The fire is used as a scenario in the Standards for Survival training.)

The creation of a memorial was an effort that involved the BLM, USFS, CSFS, but the effort was driven by the Parachute Fire Department. The memorial was dedicated by U.S. Representative Scott McInnis.



07/24 Hey Ab,

Suggestion. Under weather on the links page you have an Intellicast link. How about instead of linking to only the main page you put up a link to their lightning page? I always watch this page in the spring for AZ and NM. I've also heard we're going to have more lightning activity in the Pacific NW and NorCal toward the end of the week. From that US map you can get more specific regional lightnning info. Also, I find the links at the top of that page to be the most useful for other aspects of the large US weather picture. Links there include maps of severe weather (storm cell movement), satellite imagery, surface and upper level (jetstream) maps and historic weather (patterns of the last few days). A very useful page altogether.


Firescribe, as I check that now, I find that the lightning page info is not available - a rare event in my experience. Intellicast rarely has glitches. I agree with you on the usefulness of that link so I've added it to the links page under weather. Ab.

07/24 FIRECHAT, Boy what a great idea. Finally get to talk with some firefighting celebrities & authorities! : )

[answer] "The Smith, the Klamath, the Trinity, the Mad, the VanDuzen and the Eel"

And [The Geographic Features question is...] "What are the correct names for the 6 rivers that run through the Six Rivers Natl. Forest?"


07/24 The Petzl Duo is a great one if you want to invest the funds to get it. usual sight distance without the halogen bulb is a couple hundred feet and both bulbs have adjustable focus. Another feature is a locking on/off switch so it doesn't get switched on in your line gear. If you upgrade this lamp with the halogen bulb pack lots of extra batteries. You won't make it through a night shift with less than four sets of AA batteries. Even with those drawbacks the Duo is a good investment. Anything to see better at night.


07/24 Please remember that the memorial service for the four who died in the Thirtymile Fire is today at 2:00 p.m. at the Sun Dome in Yakima WA.

More e-mails have come in from those wanting to know if the memorial service will be televised at 1400 or shown at some later time. Can anyone out there provide this information?

Theysaid and the firechat will go black during the memorial service timeperiod in honor of those who died. May we all take some time to reflect.


07/23 Another Safety Comment following the 1994 Stand Down for SAFETY.
Historical Background from Ab
From: David M. Lukens:R06F16D02A
Postmark:    Jul 19,94  3:57 PM    Delivered: Jul 19,94  4:49 PM
Status: Previously read
Subject: Ideas

The Wallowa Fire Zone FMO met with all smokechasers, helitack, and engine crews on our unit (approx 25) that were not committed to wildfire assignments on 7/16,17. Following are some ideas/comments relative to the 5100/5700 memo of 7/13/94 ......

  1. Communications between IC/intercrew/dispatch/NWS is a key fundamental. The use of "human repeaters" that can also serve as lookouts on smaller extended attack fires needs to be encouraged. This is particularly important in areas where commo back to dispatch is not adequate, and when frequencies are full of traffic.
  2. Use air-recon/air-attack on small fires and extended attack situations, even if aircraft traffic is not heavy. This set of eyes can help in spot fire locations, note change in wind directions from smoke plumes, and assist in commo between IC/other fires/dispatch.
  3. Review definition of Red Flag. Have NWS define on their forecasts to insure everyone knows what this term means.
07/24 I just bought a Petzl Tikka headlamp for personal use and would highly recommend it. It projects a very bright light, is lightweight, and the batteries last much longer than other headlamps. Generally, cost is about $35.


07/24 I was reading another article about the wildfire season and all the media coverage is getting old fast but a question did come up.......are the fire shelters used now antiquated, could they be improved with some space age material and shape to possibly help more? The question was if we can put people on the moon and bring a ship back thru the atmosphere why can't they come up with a better shelter, or is this as good as it gets?


07/23 The answer to one of firechat's questions of the day, from north to south:
the Smith, the Klamath, the Trinity, the Mad, the VanDuzen and the Eel

[Alex] Ah, Geographic Features for 200, And the question is ... ?

Just sign me One Who Is Really Enjoying the Firechat Addition to wlf.com. Thanks, Abs.

This is fun, isn't it?

07/23 CHAT.

Tried it out. It will work. Bugs will get gone. Thank you, ALL you Ab's,


Yer very welcome, we're sure. Ab.

07/23 Anyone out there recommend a good headlamp? Mine went out on my last trip and I need to start over. Recommendations welcome.


07/23 Anyone know if the memorial service is going to be recorded tomorrow? Will the Forest Service Honor Guard participate?

Somehow I'm still reeling from this... still so hard to believe.
NorCal Tom

07/23 Another Safety Comment following the 1994 Stand Down for SAFETY.
Historical Background from Ab
Date: Jul 16,94 2:44 PM







07/23 Here is a link to a newspaper article on the Y Mountain fire in Provo, Utah. It contains a great K Max photo.


Retired Ground Pounder

07/23 I don't know how many of you folks know Ed Freeman, but he flew fires and retired from the Bureau of Reclamation. This honor is well deserved and awarded way to late.



07/23 To everyone who showed up for the party in the FIRECHAT last night, thanks! It was really fun. I'm new to chat settings and didn't know what to expect. It's a bit like chaos when ya get so many people (10 max plus Abercrombie) holding so many conversations that converge every so often in hysterically funny ways. Can't remember when I've ever laughed so hard for so long! For those of you who haven't visited, go to the FIRECHAT help page. Go to FIRECHAT LOGIN. You can just peek if you want. Sign up your moniker. You can see who's there from the list and see if you want to login. Sometimes no one's there. Sometimes someone like Ab is waiting for company as they do other things. Evenings seem to be busier so far. Don't be shy; we're getting lots of first time visitors. You don't have to say much if you don't want to. You're welcome to feel it out. Yeah, after a bit if there's a crowd you might even find it difficult to get a word in edgewise. People are polite, but as you know, firefighters are veeeeeeeery clever and humerous wisecrackers.

The Abs will be putting up links to FIRECHAT in appropriate places on wlf.com soon. Jim made us a cute little icon. Thanks, Jim.

Later and be safe all,

07/22 Here I am writing in again... Just trying to get caught up with things on my list.

First of all, I want to share with you a letter that Jim Petersen, the director of the Evergreen Foundation, sent to the President of the United States on the 57th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. Many of you have probably already seen it. It's been floating around. The analogy he makes is that we're fighting a war in the woods - a war with fire, that we have a "war to win" and that Mr. Bush should lead us.

At first I had a bit of ambivilance in asking Ab to post it here. I realized I have difficulty with the use of military metaphors when advocating for fire; such terminology is pretty foreign to the mainstream public with whom I interact on fire issues. However, as I reread it, I realized that I absolutely respect the integrity, inspiration, conviction, and truths he expresses. Reminds me of my dad talking with passion on the occasion of a military anniversary. I know Mr. Petersen's letter will resonate with many of you who "fight the dragon" and so recently lost four young firefighters to that dragon. Hopefully President Bush gets and heeds the message exhorting him to provide leadership. The fervent message in Mr. Petersen's letter inspired me to join him in sending my own message to the President and my representatives.

As one who believes we cannot "control" nature, or ever totally "win" such a war without working hand-in-hand with nature, my letter has a different flavor and will probably include something like the following:

Mr. President (congressional representative),

It's an understatement to say we have a problem with devastating wildfire in the forests, on the plains and in the wildland/urban interface communities of our country. Acres have burned, lives have been lost. We need your leadership in finding and implementing solutions.

I feel strongly that we Americans can work to enhance natural processes in environments that have always included fire. By doing so we foster forest health while better protecting people who live in our wildland/urban interface. We can't control fire altogether, but we can encourage fire in the environment in ways that both make for healthy woods and grasslands and help people living in homes on the interface. We can reach these goals following processes already underway, that is, by continuing to implement the National Fire Plan as mandated by Congress. We need to reduce ladder fuels by removing small diameter trees, creating shaded fuel breaks, removing brush and doing Rx burning. In areas that have burned we need to reduce fuel by removing larger dead trees. We need to do these things in spite of assaults on the emerging new fire plan from many sides; assaults which include not only the opposition from a vocal minority of extreme preservationists and the legal blocks thrown up by the judges they appeal to, but also the rake-off of fire funding by FS management into growing "cost pool" management categories that prevents it from reaching the ground.

Mr. President (congressional representative), please remain steadfast in your focus to find solutions to wildland fire threat. Support national fire planning through whatever means you can.

  • Extreme environmentalists should not be allowed to set US policy or block the will of the people to find solutions to the threat of wildfire.
  • Maintain the promised funding at the Most Efficient Level (MEL) so as to provide the resources to truely address fire in our environment and to minimize its devastating impact. Fire planning is cost-effective, saving 7 dollars for every dollar invested.
  • Provide oversight to make sure those funds actually are used to hire, equip and train firefighters and do not simply add to a growing management "cost pool".

Please, help us continue to build our nation's wildland firefighting capabilities to a sustainable level so we can do the job reasonably while keeping our firefighters safe.

Thanks Mr. Petersen, for your passion and inspiration. I hope other readers are inspired by your message to write their own. Anyone who wants to, feel free to take any of what I've written, modify it however you wish (or not) and send it to the President and/or to your congressional reps.


07/22 Hi All,

Could someone please clarify the differences between primary and secondary fire jobs? I think I know, but don't want to steer jobs questioners wrong. Also, how does one ID a secondary fire job from the job description? or a primary fire job for that matter?

I worked on the series 462 firefighters jobs page last night. Here are some interesting stats showing the numbers of jobs based on categories of desired salary and education -which are OPM's new categories, a nice addition for those seeking jobs. The total number of jobs is 3 times the number of jobs that I posted before 07/06. File size went from 116 KB to 365 KB! It's informative to see the jobs lined out this way by increasing qualification level. Ab, if I keep doing this, I might have to divide up the tables for easier download. Think all those ones in the middle are supervisory?

Salary in                                                                     Number of 
thousands        Experience and education                                       jobs
$14-$20      3 mo of general experience or a hs diploma (GS-1/GS-2)            18 jobs
$17-$22      6 mo of general experience or 1 yr of ed beyond hs (GS-3)         45 jobs
$19-$25      1 yr of general experience or 1 yr of ed beyond hs (GS-4)         96 jobs
$22-$39      3 yrs of general experience or at least 1 yr of professional 
               experience or a BA degree (GS-5 to GS-8)                       194 jobs
$33-$62      1 or more yrs of responsible and independent experience related 
               to the job or a Masters or higher degree (GS-9 to GS-12)       108 jobs
$57-$88      1 or more yrs highly responsible and independent experience 
               directly related to the job to be filled (GS-13 to GS-14)        3 jobs
                                                                        Total 464 jobs
I haven't had time to cut and paste the 455 series yet, but will report those stats for comparison when I do it. Given how time consuming the process is, I am only going to update the series pages once a week on Fridays. I'll continue to update the actual jobs page on Tuesday and Friday.

Here's the link. It's a HUGE download. Series 462 Page


07/21 Ab,

The value of "They Said" to the firefighting community is never more valuable than when tragedy strikes. You give us the opportunity to come together to remember those we have lost or who are injured. Beyond this, we are afforded a great deal of information and references that help us not only better understand the tragedy, but what points to re-emphasis to those we lead. In this way we can help turn this tragedy into something positive.

I know that inaccuracies and speculation can always appear as factual when this sort of forum is used, but if we look at what may have gone wrong (without pointing blame), we can at least hit those 10, 18, and LCES points hard now and not have to wait 12 to 18 months for official reviews to come in. This may save another brother or sister firefighter from injury or worse.

My prayers are with the surviving family members, friends, and the injured. And I ask each of you to say a special prayer for those who survived, whose life's are now changed forever.

Thank you,
Fyr Eater

Thanks for the appreciation, Fyr Eater. Our prayers are also with friends, families and others who have been affected. Ab.

07/21 For those who haven't seen this letter from the Dale Bosworth, Chief of the FS, here it is. Make a note that the memorial service for the four who died in the ThirtyMile Fire is scheduled to be held at the Sun Dome in Yakima WA on Tuesday, July 24 at 2:00 p.m.



Date: July 17, 2001
To: All employees

When tragedy strikes any member of the Forest Service, we all feel it. As I said in "FS Today," my heart goes out to the families and friends of Tom Craven, Karen FitzPatrick, Jessica Johnson and Devin Weaver, and to all their collegues. Words truly cannot express how deeply sorry I feel.

Late last week, I went to Washington to visit with some of the firefighters from the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests who survived the entrapment. I also visited with other personnel from the Forests who lost friends and colleagues as well as other firefighters assigned to the fire.

While I was there, I extended my condolences and deepest sympathies to the friends and co-workers affected by this tragedy on behalf of everyone in the Forest Service. I asked that they also be extended, on behalf of all of us, to the families of these young people who lost their lives so tragically. This week will be especially difficult for the families and loved ones as memorial services and funerals are held. I'm sure they will appreciate all condolences and expressions of sympathy received.

I was also able to visit with some of the injured firefighters including the most seriously injured, Jason Emhoff, who received burns over 30 percent of his body. I told all of them that we are thinking of them and admire their courage as they recover from their injuries. For Jason this will be a long, difficult time for him and his family.

We also need to think about friends and colleagues on the Districts and Supervisors' Offices of the two forests who have suffered a tremendous emotional blow. We need to be understanding and sensitive as they struggle with the loss of their co-workers over the days and weeks ahead.

As I met and talked with the firefighters, I was once again impressed with the professionalism of the brave men and women who are on the firelines every year protecting life, property and our country's natural resources. I'm proud of each and every one of them and commend their dedication.

We don't know all the reasons why this happened. The investigation team is still at work. It is important for the future safety of our wildland firefighters that we learn all we can from this tragedy, and please remember firefighter and public safety are our first priorities.

/s/ Dale N. Bosworth

07/20 Remember, the WLF.com FIRE CHAT room is now open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Click on the link below for the help page and a link to the chat area. www.wildlandfire.com/chat.php

07/20 YAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY!!!! California Interagency Incident Management Team 4 (Aaron Gelobter, IC) now has a website.


Check it out. Good job Katy! Now all 5 CIIMTs have websites. For the other 4 websites simply change the number in the url. A team's website will tell you if the team is currently assigned and where.


07/20 Hello Sir or Ma'am,

My name is Jaime. I'm a fan of your website and was wondering if you could use a couple of more fire photos in your collection. This fire was in Fillmore, California I think back in 1998. My dad took this picture and sent it to me. I'm going to email another photo, but I have to do it seperately, the second photo is from the same fire. Thank you and I hope to see these photos in your collection.

Jamie U

Hi Jamie. Thanks, I posted one of your Fillmore Fire plume photos on the Fire5 page along with another flames fire photo that was sent in by JE. Ab.

07/20 I did get into the OPM Jobs site just yesterday the trick is to add a zero in front of the job series #, 0462 instead of 462. Hope this helps out your readers.


Thanks, SAH for the tip. I'll try it and if I can get it to work, and can get through all the other changes, perhaps I can update the 462 and 455 series tomorrow. OPM should know that adding a 0 (zero) in front of 462 and 455 is not the logical thing for people to do, especially if they've been searching for months without doing that. Wonder how many applicants have been deterred from applying in the last weeks since the USA-Jobs site procedure was changed? Hmmmmm.... Ab.

07/20 In addition to the jobs I posted about earlier, the Grindstone District on the Mendocino National Forest Still has the following openings... TC

For yet MORE jobs on the Mendo, see the jobs page. Hey, it's a beautiful place in NorCal, as this Ab can attest.

07/20 Hello from Peru

Here are a small collection of IL-76 photos. The very large IL-76 serves as an air tanker for fighting fire (but not in the USA) and as a cargo plane doing humanitarian relief around the world.

Here are some more URLs to more Il-76 pictures and descriptive information:
www.waterbomber.com and


Thanks Jose. I posted the Il-76 photos on the AirTanker2 page to keep them together (and rearranged the C-97 to the new AirTanker3 page). Ab.

07/19 Hey, Middle Aged Fire Guy Trying to Help an Older ex- Fire Guy (MAFGTHOFG),

I don't think the DOI or FS have made a change in the MEA. The status quo seems to prevail as described by the article online that suggests upping it.


COMT had a few "handouts" about the MEA on 07/09 if you missed those. Folks, write your congresspeople. We are loosing some good experienced people who didn't quite make the age cutoff.


07/19 -- for "Stampede"

The 10 & 18 in a nice printable format are here:

and en Español:


07/19 Safety Comment following the 1994 Stand Down for SAFETY.
Historical Background from Ab
Postmark:      Jul 19,94   2:44 PM   Delivered:   Jul 19,94   2:51 PM
Status: Previously read
Subject: Forwarded: NOTES ON STAND-DOWN
Date: Jul 19,94 2:44 PM



  1. Twelve (12) Aviation Watch - Outs
  2. Les: is this flight necessary
  3. Dave: Too much emphasis placed on pilots decision to Go/No Go.
  4. Region 8 detailer use video to map fires instead of people. Use GPS/Loran along with infra-red and video camera.
  5. Not just aviaiton problems
  6. Les: Type 1 Crews nationwide have been hurt metnally and physically this year. Hot line - Fourteen (14) straight days - crew burned out.
  7. Dick G.: Night shift working - long hours - wore out
  8. Helitack - CWN crew out - Seventy (70) days away from home
  9. Steve:   SWCC watch 2200 drive-home - don't dispatch late at night - people get to incident bushed.
  10. Expanded dispatcher - Alamagordo
    Crew bosses - Bus drivers couldn't see other dark contract bus driver
  11. On fireline - bad communications - more radios on line - means better communication - lets be aware of that
  12. Loss of Expertise:
    • Brain drain due to buy-out
    • Buy-out people cannot be back to be used as ADs.
    • Less expertise out on line
  13. 1970's   2000FF        1990's   700FF
  14. John K. - Talk about helicopter accident Chief Jack Ward Thomas here to talk to victims families. Jack Ward Thomas was very sympathetic to the families and survivors.
  15. Next day - Jack Ward Thomas - Mimbres with John Kirkpatrick
  16. Investigation Team

------------------ -----------------------------------
From:        MIKE ROTONDA:R03A
Postmark:        Jul 19,94        9:37 AM        Delivered: Jul 19,94        9:48 AM
Status: Previously read

The Abs would like to announce that the WLF.com FIRE CHAT room is now open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Click on the link below for the help page and a link to the chat area. www.wildlandfire.com/chat.php

07/19 What is the latest on MEA of 37 years old? I was told by someone that DOD "upped" the age to 37 for firefighters in the 081 series. Any change from USDA or DOI?

Middle Aged Fire Guy Trying to Help an Older ex- Fire Guy (MAFGTHOFG)

07/19 The Mendocino National Forest in northern CA needs a number of good engine captains. Check the jobs page. Goodgrief, the problems we've all had with the usa-jobs site and the series 462 and 455 listings. Gonna have to go see if they have the glitches worked out. R5's extended outreach still works for those of you who are still jobhunting. And check the Mendo listings. Ab.
07/19 Where can I find a good looking version of the 10 and 18 I can print out on computer and post on our office wall? I know I can just enlarge from the handbook, but just wanted to know if something was on the web that looked a little better than what our ancient xerox spits out


07/19 The media and Forest Service PIO's(PAO's?) are my ass! What Rebecca did to save 2 pilgrims is the the biggest thing I have heard of in all my wildland and military time. What she did was HUGE! How come I read the story in the newspaper on page 8, 9, or 16? WHY is it on that the TV news I only saw stories on philanderers, kookes, and astronauts? We need your help in a big way Redpoint and Quill ! We that teach in the Wildland ROP program need to get the media in our classrooms.

Be safe,

07/19 Ab, et al

These reporters don't sit around and wait for a firefighter to die. I'm sure that taking time out to go cut line, is something they don't have time for. And would we ask them to go to aircraft accident investigation school, have them spend some time packing sand-bags along the Missisippi, ride an inner-tube from Cuba to Miami, spend four days in the Arizona desert in July with no water? No we wouldn't.

Expecting them to write about fire front intensity levels...and BTU's per second....and all of the other technical jargon, is a little much for John Q. Public to understand. That's fine for a National Geographic show, but not for the Hidden Valley Tribune. The guy reading the paper or watching the news wants to know what happened, as we all do. We will get to read the final report, and maybe (just maybe) learn from this incident. The public won't learn from it, nor do they need to.

Next time the press is out there on the fireline of a normal fire, take the time to talk to them. Tell them what it's about out there. Show them. Too often the press is avoided. I remember paying "dollar fines" on the hotshots, when our picture was found in a newspaper. How many times have I had to explain to people, who had see the news or other T.V. show, that smokejumpers don't actually jump "into" the fire.

Be that as it may....there should have been a PIO on this incident (not when it happened as it was in IA stages) that protected the crews from these reporters, if they wanted. Did this person drop the ball? Did this person know that you didn't want to be bothered? Quite frankly there should have been a "gag" order out anyway, especially on questions regarding "what happened".....which unfortunately leaves only one question for these people to ask (to get the story), and that is......How do you feel?

Stay safe, KCP

07/19 Dear Frustrated:

If you or the young man (Jon) want to get a career in fire you have to remember to get a double major in Forestry and Fire Science at a reputable college and/or become a veteran. This might not be enough, as affirmative action for minorities and women with the Peace Corps individuals and relatives and the good olde boy buddy system for each others children in small towns rule the hiring process. I have seen this happen at least 500 times in different places. These days you have to have 25 hrs of graduate school to get on as a Taper to permanent. Managers can say all they want about how the system is working and that these things I state are not true. However, they are true. The current administration that has hired for this season has told a lot of young people that they have a career. At the start of next fiscal (OCT. 1) the money will be yanked away.

What the hell happened in Washington? Were the guys really that close to the engines and safety? Did they panic and wait too long to act? If the one ran to the engine then why didn't they all leave and run sooner? Did all have there heads down and working and was there no look-out?

Done IN to The Truth!

We all want to know what happened in Washington. If you read carefully and critically through the online articles that come up on our Current Wildlandfire News link, and read the 72 hour Fire Fatality Investigation report posted last night, you find answers to some of your questions. You start to get the incomplete picture. We need to be careful before jumping to judgment, however. We need time for all the information to come in, be evaluated, and settle out so we can see what lessons there are that we can learn. Ab.

07/18 Safety Comment following the 1994 Stand Down for SAFETY.
(See the post of yesterday for historical background. Ab. )


 From: Larry W. Lofswold
Postmark: Jul 21,94 1:10 PM
Status: Previously read
Subject: SAFETY

We will focus on the situation at hand. This means taking the
incident one step at a time, first getting to the fire safely bar
ground or air. This is the time to consider the weather report. Think
about what it said. If you don't have one get it! Next focus on size
up and make a plan and make sure everyone knows it. Focus on a good
anchor point and keeping one foot in the black and most of all focus
on the ten standard orders. If you are breaking any one correct the

07/18 There is a lesson in the post from the reporter and the earlier posts about CDF on the Martis Fire. The Martis posts noted that CDF is always getting the best media exposure.

I know that CDF makes it a point of actively recruiting reporters into wildland safety training. They've even issued them well marked Nomex. Does this get CDF publicity? Of course it does. It also increases the reporters safety awareness and improves their base line knowledge of wildland fire fighting.

On the other hand, this most recent poster tried but couldn't get in to a Forest Service class. Hmmm.


07/18 To Redpoint,

I'm glad to hear that you seem to have a keen interest in what we do. I tried to do just the mirror image here in our area and had no luck. I went to all of our local media and offered to include them into our FF1 courses and got no interest from them at all. Not one representative from the media made any effort to even reply to my correspondence. I had an ulterior motive, I suppose. Having them trained would make it somewhat easier for us to keep them engaged in a good way. More to the point, I am Capt. within a VFD. We rely heavily on donations, and realize that bad publicity does more harm than good. If we can keep the media in good graces with us, it translates into better quality of reporting on us, which will ultimately brings in more funding to keep the doors open.

It also makes it easier and safer for us to make sure that you get the stories and footage that you want to have for your audience. If I know that a reporter has a decent knowledge of what they will encounter, I have a tendency to allow them to get just a little bit closer to one of my incidents.

Stay safe,

07/18 Redpoint,

While I'm not a journalist, I had a little trouble finding out where to do the FF1 training last year. It seems the FS system is set up to hire first and then train new people. Persistence is needed as you call around. You'll eventually find someone who knows alternatives for your area. Most training I've heard of begins between Jan and June, depending on how long the class goes on.

Many western communities have a Regional Occupational Program, described by Atta_Gal. I did that training in my northern CA community - 4 days a week, 2 and a half hours a day for 5 months. It was taught by 5 people from 2 local fire departments, CDF, and FS. Those folks put in so many hours over and above their regular jobs. All who train are to be commended! Atta_Gal said to newbie Jon that it's geared to high schoolers.? "Sweetie", don't count on that! Info to read, understand, commit to memory on a daily basis, tests every Monday, routines to practice until absolutely flawless to be able to perform in less than a given amount of time, like donning SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus), deploying your fireshelter, and other procedures like medical assists that are not timed, but must be performed to the detail in order. Hah, the confined space maze in the dark with smoke, having to take off your SCBA to get through small openings, low oxygen alarms going off, trainees in a panic almost coming to blows over what to next... All in all, harder than many college classes I've been in. And the woman in charge NEVER called anyone "Sweetie". Yah, she managed the con crew in her day job. She was smallern me and cute, but even made me cringe at times. Yikes, I even e-mailed Ab for support a few times back then when the goin' got tough. Not whining, mind ya, just ff to ff. (BTW 14 of 41 who began made it through; I was the only female.)

As you work with wildland firefighters, you learn that it's always training, training, training in class and on the job. Most trained-up buncha people I know. Practice means that responses are automatic and automatic counts when you have only seconds to spare.

One training alternative for you might be to get invited to some location the next time someone here teaches S-130 and S-190 in their community. BTW, those two classes alone don't take 5 months, just a number of concentrated hours if taught that way.

Be Safe All.

07/18 Redpoint-

It may not be a matter of the Forest Service being uninterested in training you; my experience was that the Forest Service didn't have enough classes. I ended up going through the state land agency for my basic classes and then pack-tested with the Forest Service.

I'm lucky, since I'm in a Forest Service region with very forward-looking public-affairs people who were supportive of my efforts to learn more.

But even they couldn't get me into the FS classes. The state-sponsored class was great -- cost about $80. Call your local state agency.

The Quill.

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07/17 72 Hour Brief-Thirtymile Fire Fatality Investigation July 14, 2001 Narrative:

Forest Service Northwest Regular #6 Type II Fire Crew was entrapped by wildland fire, caused by an abandoned picnic cooking fire along Chewuch River 30 miles north of Winthrop,Washington. Fourteen crew members were involved in the entrapment, as well as two civilians who arrived at the entrapment site while trying to exit the area following a camping excursion. Fourteen shelters were deployed. One shelter contained one Forest Service person and the two civilians. Ten Forest Service personnel and the two civilians survived the burnover. Four individuals deployed approximately 100' upslope from the road. One person deployed an unknown distance upslope from these four. The remaining people, including the civilians, deployed on the road. After the initial deployment some of the individuals relocated to the river. The civilian's vehicle was destroyed by fire. The Forest Service vehicle sustained minor damage, but was driveable.

Preliminary Factual Findings:

  1. fourteen members of a 21-person fire crew were trapped after attempting to extinguish a spot fire adjacent to a road ahead of an uncontrolled fire;
  2. the initial crew assignment was reinforcement for the purpose of completing containment lines and mopup;
  3. the fire transitioned to active fire behavior during the early afternoon;
  4. after entrapment the crew took a position on a suitable deployment site;
  5. the crew had adequate time to prepare and deploy shelters; two civilians shared a shelter with one of the crew;
  6. 10 Forest Service personnel and 2 civilians survived; 4 Forest Service personnel died;
  7. one survivor had severe burns and several others had minor burns;
  8. preliminary autopsy reports show cause of death was inhalation of superheated air;
  9. radio communication was not a contributing factor;
  10. no significant weather event contributed to the entrapment;
  11. the fire was located in a steep canyon, with a variety of fuel conditions and loadings (mixed conifer and riparian);
  12. Energy Release Component was approaching maximum levels for this time of year.

Deputy Chief NFS
Investigation Team Leader

07/17 Comments following the 1994 Stand Down for SAFETY.

A historical note from Ab: Following the deaths of firefighters in 1994 on Storm King Mountain, there was one day during which folks stood down from activity and reflected on safety. At that time, those who wanted to were invited to send their safety reflections, comments and suggestions to the USFS WO. Many comments poured in from senior firefighters - from both ground and aviation folks. Most of the contributors represented the "wisdom" of the time and are now retired. In '94 these comments were collected by Jim Evans and sent in to the WO. As those who read here know, Jim and Rich Tyler helped create the original IHOG. Rich, a good friend with whom Jim collaborated on the project died at Storm King.

Well, Jim called today. He was cleaning his house and had come across 30 to 40 of the comments. Together he and the Abs decided to take this opportunity to bring these comments back into public view as messages from the past. We will present them one-a-day and hope they serve to reinforce what many of us have learned since then and continue to reinforce today. Please note that we present the scanned text of the authors. The capital letters are theirs. Ab.

Jim's message: Here are the first couple of items that were sent to the USFS WO following the '94 Stand Down for Safety. The sender is unknown right now, but maybe someone will recognize who wrote them and let us know.

Make sure that a safe anchor point is established prior to actions taken to flank the fire. Wet line construction will be followed by handline/dozer line and crews to hold the line. DO NOT USE WET LINE, RETARDANT LINE, DOZER LINE OR HANDLINE AS ESTABLISHED CONTROL LINE (IE !ESCAPE ROUTES) UNTIL IT HAS BEEN STAFFED AND PATROLLED. This means you may not get as much line constructed due to a lack of crews on the fires. The concept being that during Initial Attack of fires, you are rapidly approaching your limits to construct and hold line. BUILD AND HOLD WHAT YOUR CREW CAN HANDLE, ASK FOR REINFORCEMENTS, DO THE BEST YOU CAN. SAFETY FIRST.

Build line that you can hold with yourself and your crew. Before you get to the point that your crew is stretched out to far, stop and reinforce/hold that line and let your supervisor know you need more crews to continue line construction. Fire line built and held is better than fire line built and lost, especially when there are crews out past the lost line.

07/17 The memorial service for all four victims of the Thirtymile Fire is scheduled to occur on July 24 at 2:00 p.m. at the Sun Dome in Yakima. More information will be coming out later about the memorial service. If you do plan to attend, please wear your uniform.

During the Memorial Service on Tuesday, July 24 at 1400 PDT, our theysaid page will go black in honor of those who lost their lives. Normal posting will resume following the service. The Abs.

07/17 Hey Ab, Just voicing my opinion on this tragedy...there is a common denominator here that I am sure many folk see..that being that mop-up and small fires can bring on complacency within the crew..and nobody considers the moment a big risk..until of course the witching hour hits and the flames are running up our backs...this sounds familiar..like last summer when my crew did the "run for life". so my advice is to always keep those 10's and 18's as well as LCES foremost on our minds..and try not to get complacent...

By the way, Mellie, sorry your friend was among those killed on the fire last week...my heart goes out to all the families of those firefighters and the crew that was with them...

now, a thought on the squad boss who was qualified by "experience only" is this possible?? I thought you had to be certified and red carded to become a squad boss?? speaking of experience..yes the young pups need to get out on fires but again..isn't there a quota for how many rookies can be on one crew?? I thought it was two at most to each squad..which in my mind would be six..more than enough...these young people need to have some mentoring out on their first fire and those ol timers should be willing to help them out and we all need to watch out for each other ..isn't that what makes our job so special? Anyway that's my opinion for what it's worth..

Everybody stay safe out there!!!
We should be heading out to help you guys real soon!!
Firebabe NH

Firebabe NH, there are no rules regarding the number or proportion of rookies on a Type II crew such as the one in Washington. Hotshot crews may have no more than 20% rookies, however. Ab.

07/17 I am a reporter trying to cover the Thirty Mile Fire for one of the larger newspapers, and trying to do so fairly and humanly. I've covered fires before -- and other tragedies -- and know better than to ask "how does it feel." I don't want to defend my brethren. Some do the job well, some don't. Some are sensitive. Some are not. But I do want to at least explain.

All some of us -- myself, at least -- want to do is piece together what happened, period. Accurately. Fairly. Humanely. I have spoken with no one who was there, though I wish I could. I'm loathe to call people, for fear that I'd just be another of the jerks in the pack bothering people in pain. But there don't seem to be many other ways to tell the story. If we call people, we're the problem. If we don't call people, everyone else still does, and we're still lumped together as part of the problem. And we make no progress. I'm open to suggestions. (Early in the year, I begged the Forest Service to let me go through training. But there seemed little interest.)

I promise you ... all the critiques of the media you hear ... they go on inside the media too. Unfortunately, the culture is such that, frequently, the most insensitive bullies are the ones most likely to get the story -- and therefore are rewarded for those tactics. Like Pavlov's dogs.

Thanks for your ear. And my apologies to those who went through this tragedy or are family members and friends. As someone said earlier ... it sucks.


There are ways to get Firefighter I training on your own. If you live in an area that has them, ROP programs are excellent. Read Atta_girl's suggestions. Good luck. We need reporters who "have been there". Ab.

07/17 Whoa folks!

The recent tragedy has us all on edge, and well we should be. But let's not pull away and in the process trample each other. Safety is my number one concern and I'm sure it is for "Frustrated" and all who have chosen to respond. Let's look at this.

Frustrated - As you know by now, some will question your motivation, is it sincere or self-serving? I'll assume your concern is sincere, and let's look at your need for solution. Whatever agency you work for has (or should have) bought off on the national standards for qualifications. If you and other crew members have doubts about the quals of this squad boss, go to the crew boss, fmo or whomever you trust for a private conversation. Ask their assurance that the person has met the formal training, experience and task book completion for the red card they hold. That supervisor may not show you the documentation, but you should trust their response. If you do not have someone you trust, then you have a bigger problem (I would not be part of any team that I felt could not trust). If your squad boss has the quals, then put the hurt behind and sincerely give them your full support. They will need it.

To others who feel "Frustrated" is running on ego and unearned quals.....the same applies. If this person, with only 3 seasons experience has been rated as a FF1, then they should have been through the training, the experience, and the certification by task books (with fmo and training officer agreement) that this person is truly qualified as ff1. If those qualifications are not legitimate, then your beef is not with "Frustrated" but with the overhead who improperly certified those qualifications. Let's not start assuming blanket qualifications, or lack thereof, based on how things were for us when we were young.

I'll save the rest of my breath for prayers for our lost compadres.
Old Fire Guy

07/17 Re the press:

Look guys, it's a story..period. No one complains when the press comes out to do a story on a training drill, or when they build up the crews as heroes for saving a few houses. So when they ask a tough question about a tragedy, you have a choice to answer or not. Tell them how you feel, or walk away. They are merely doing what someone asks them to do. And as someone earlier said, the taxpaying public WANTS to know, because maybe they feel for the situation.....and the have a RIGHT to know what happened, because they pay the bills. But it is also your RIGHT to refuse to answer questions.

I've been there when firefighters have been killed in action, and it does SUCK....and it is a pain to answer questions from the media and investigators, but as a public servent and a PROFFESIONAL, you should be able to stand up tall and deal with it.

The best way to avoid it is to make sure that everyone comes home and makes it to the next training drill, so take care of yourself and the other's that you stand beside.


Standing up tall and dealing with it is easier when you're fresh and rested. One also has better judgment regarding what to say when fresh and rested. For those who are bushwacked by reporters after a 24 or 25 hour shift, this Ab recommends a "no comment" even if management doesn't. As The Quill said, there are some stupid, uneducated and/or insensitive reporters out there. No reporter who really knew what went on while on the line and identified at all with the wildland fire community would do that to crewmembers.

I like the idea of redcarding reporters. Let's train em up. Reporters, come into our circle, do our training, hike some miles in our boots, swing that pulaski (no whining now), bump up and then you can write about us with the insight bred of experience. Ab.

07/17 Jon,

I think your ambitions and being only 15 years old are admirable. I don't know where you live in the US, (I live in Florida) but most local fire departments have explorer programs. You usually have to be at least 14 years old and maintain a grade point average of at least 2.5. (Remember to hit the books, your education is the most important thing at this stage of your life.) If you really want to see what a career in firefighting can be like, start there. It will help you get your feet wet a little bit and you can decide from there whether you want to do this job that creates a sense of accomplishment and lots of self worth. You'll also make the best friends you've ever had that will last you a lifetime. Have fun while you can, don't try to grow up too soon. Right now is the funnest time you will ever have in your life. From graduation on, it all becomes real and you wish you were fifteen again.


07/17 Old Firedawg,

I couldn't agree more..when there are problems on the fireline look to the top. I wonder however if there isn't a communication problem...a "weakest link"... somewhere in the equation.

In MN the top guy running our fire program is a politically savvy guy, WITH NO FIRE EXPERIENCE, that felt that he did not need to listen to the folks on the line. And he was the guy giving his superiors and our MN legislators their information! He didn't have a clue and consequently neither did they. Our fire program has lost the vast majority of its' experienced firefighters as a result. Our state cannot train them as fast as they leave and as a result our experience level is rapidly diminishing toward zero. Luckily (knowing that a paper trail has been laid to their door and as a result they will be held responsible for any "tragic accidents") the MN DNR is working hard to retain its' experienced full time fire personnel. At least we will have overhead that has some experience for the next few years. Then the retirement loss of experienced fire managers will be devastating.

It is my understanding that the MN DNR is not allowing the vast majority of its full time personnel to leave the state for fire duty in order to have some experienced fire folk on the line. MN also now has its own air force of helicopters CL215s and retardant bombers SITTING ON THE GROUND to cover their ass if a big one lights off. As a result little of MNs ground equipment is earning its pay on western fires this year for lack of crews and the cost of fire suppression in MN is skyrocketing.

How ironic that the MN DNRs strongest argument against providing its' experienced seasonals with competitive pay and benefits was "that it would cost too much". You can't retain competent, experienced personnel if you are not willing to pay them fairly...and the biggest safety factor on the line (and above) is folks that are not experiencing something for the first time. Knowing when to say no and when to pack up and go are the signs of a pro. Experienced leaders know how to accurately judge the capability of their crew and how to avoid exceeding that capability...inexperienced leaders tend to bite off more than they can chew.

Dana Linscott
Vice Chair
MN Wildland Firefighters' Assn.

07/17 Does anyone have an address for Tom Craven's family where I can send a nice local newspaper article about his accomplishments at College of the Redwoods and how he's remembered from his JC years? If you send it in, I'm sure Ab will forward it to me. It needn't go on the board.


07/17 Jon, hello from Atta_Gal...

I understand that you are 15 years old, young man. You want to be a firefighter? Well, here is some information that I will pass on to you and others.

First of all sweetie, what state are you wanting to work in? Check with the departments of education... see if there is a Regional Occupational Program there. (A.K.A.- R.O.P.) Most counties in the states have one. The R.O.P. programs are geared towards high-schoolers, however the enrollment is usually open to anyone. You learn the basics of firefighting, both wildland and structure. This is a 190+ hour course. It is FREE education for folks. All you gotta' do is show up...you learn structural and wildfire firefighting techniques, including but not limited to...HAZMAT FRO, Public Safety First-Aid and CPR, S-100, S-130 and S-190, "Controlled Descending" AKA -rappelling. You can also earn your state's Dept.of Forestry FF1 certificate. You can earn a Fire Science certificate from your local Department of Education. If you'd like more info. about the R.O.P. program, feel free to contact me at atta_gal@yahoo.com This program however in some areas tends to be ignored...

Have you thought about your state's Civillian Conservation Corps, the AmeriCorps or the JobCorps? These are nationwide programs that if you qualify...you can get into, the opportunities seem endless. I am a Corpie's momma. My son is 17 this year...he's in the JobCorps, Timberlake-USFS staffed...He says it's the hardest thing that he's ever done, but he loves it and for this summer...He'll be travelling around to fire complexes, setting up Fire Camps...

Jon, you may even want to check into an Explorer group...Don't get discouraged young man, but you just may be a year or 2 too young. If you are, there's things that you can do to pass the time.

  • Take a First-Responder course. Go ahead and get that out of the way, there are no age restrictions for learning and getting certified in First-Aid and CPR. All firefighters have to have it.
  • Check into getting a work-permit, unless you already have one. A contract crew may be able to pick you up for the summer.
  • Do you have a driving permit young man? If so, get your practice in so you can get your Driver's License...this is important.
  • Are you still going to school? You'll need your education to get into the Fire Service. The more the better, if you have dropped out, contact JobCorps, it's open to anyone 16-25 years of age that has dropped out of school.

Hope this helps,

Good advice, Atta-gal. I'm going to create another FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) for our list and add some of the responses to Jon as the answer. We get these questions often and try to reply to them individually. We want the youngsters getting good info so as to be able to make career decisions for themselves in a few years. For young women Camp Blaze is another good learning opportunity. Anyone know of a similar camp for young men? Ab.

07/17 As a reporter who lurks on this list -- and who's also a red-carded firefighter -- I thought I'd throw my $.02 in on the media and ThirtyMile.

It pains me to see reporters ask "How do you feel?" It pains me because it's a stupid question, and because there's no good answer to it beyond "It sucks."

I don't agree with the charge tactics MT mentions. And I don't agree with having uneducated people out there. But there are a few dynamics at work here that everyone might benefit from being aware of:

  1. The Big Story. The burnover was IT for a few days. Why? In literary terms, you'd say it's the classic confrontation of man vs. nature. In other terms, it's news. It's something that happened, that also was very dramatic and very tragic. Tragedy unfortunately makes for big stories. The first impulse on The Big Story is to find empathetic characters -- people who may have gone through the same thing, or have had similar experiences. That's why the crews get asked questions.
  2. Getting the Story. This follows The Big Story. Everybody's reporting the same thing, therefore, media outlets need something different to report, to differentiate them from the competition. With no news coming out of official sources -- in this case, the IO -- the media will go out and try to get eyewitness accounts and/or quotes from people who might know what they're talking about. Keep that in mind. Just like IA, the first 24-48 hours of an incident to the media are the time when you blitz.
  3. "How does it feel?" Bad question. Usually asked by an unskilled or uncomfortable reporter. Best response? "Don't insult my intelligence with a question like that. If you ask me a more thoughtful question, you'll get a better answer."
  4. Does the press have the right to ask you questions? Yes. Almost to a man (or woman), wildland firefighters are public employees, and public employees are accountable to the public that pays them. The press is the public's representative. Never forget that. Should reporters be asking you idiotic questions after a 25-hour shift? No. They shouldn't be. But that's because there are stupid reporters out there, the same way there are stupid and insensitive people in every field.
  5. There are good questions to be asked, but there are not always answers. When those answers don't come out, then the media will start looking for other stories, which drives them to ask dumb questions of smokechasers. Personal circumstances kept me from heading up to Washington, but I advised one of the big papers up there on what to look for. The questions I told them to ask were never answered: What were the LCES contingencies? How were the commo links set up? Did the Type 2 crew on one flank of the fire know that a 'shot crew on the other flank was pulling out due to extreme fire behavior (reminiscent of the situation in 1990 with the Prescott Hotshots at the Dude Fire). What was the terrain like? Were the escape routes easy to access? Was a spot forecast issued? If so, what did it say? And if it was issued, did it make out to the people on the ground?

Those are valid questions that, when answered, will tell the public and the fire community what happened, and why four people died. But when that information is not forthcoming -- when answers can't be found -- the media will look to other stories. The IOs job is to be the liasion with reporters, but all too often they work at covering agency butt. By doing that, they work against the reporters who want to get the facts out there (and there is a legitimate need to do so, as those of you familiar with South Canyon and Cerro Grande will note).

The media was doing family stories, by the way. But that puts us in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation: When we do stories on families, people call us vultures, preying on tragedy. When we don't we get castigated for focusing on the news.

What are you going to do? The answer is be sensitive. The media can be sensitive to others -- there needs to be some training and thought here, but it is possible. But be sensitive to us, too. We have jobs to do, as well. When it comes to a natural disaster or a tragedy, most reporters are working around the clock, or close to it. Just like firefighters, most of us try to do them as best we can under adverse circumstances.

Remember we're not all evil. And if you want more qualified people asking questions on the line, get on your bosses to create a national training program for media. Push for a separate redcard entry, and push for reporters who earn it to be held to the same requirements as anyone else (arduous on the pack test, S-130/S-190 the first year, wildland refresher thereafter).

Be careful out there,
The Quill.

07/17 I say right on the mark for the Ol' Firedawg! I have harped on the dismantling of the world's finest firefighting organization for a long time now. Long before people within it's ranks started dying on a regular basis. Now it seems as though we have cocky rookies crawling out of the woodwork.

I have found that arrogance and inexperience can kill people real quick in this profession. So I ask, plead actually- that all you fine rookies out there would search hard for a little humility. Don't let the fancy t-shirts and hero speak blind you to the dangers of arrogance. Turn off the Mountain Dew commercials in your heads long enough to listen to those old farts who may seem from your perspective to be just short of fossilized. Everyone started as a rookie. From that start some quit to do other things, while others stuck with it to make a career out of it. There's something to be said for those who survived in this profession- take the time to listen to the experience of these people, it may save your life. Look out for one another, practice LCES.

Listen and learn. To those old farts out there, follow the advice of the Ol' Firedawg and me- we do need to keep our cynacism to ourselves and work toward practicing what we preach so that we may save some lives, namely the lives of the brave souls who choose to do this for a living.

Humble Joe

07/17 Old man Murry Taylor (the author of the book "Jumping Fire) wrote this in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times in Saturday July 14th edition...good stuff, great placement. I don't know about the ins and outs of you putting up a copyrighted story, but here you go.

The other way to get this would be to go to www.nytimes.com (requires free sign-up) and do a search on "Murry Taylor" (note the unusual spelling of Murry).

It's really great to see this in the NY Times. The feature to e-mail the article is down on the NY Times site right now, but I can think of some elected representatives that ought to see this piece.


Bob, we can't post the text because of the copyright. Readers, go to the www.nytimes.com/pages/national/index.phpl. Cut and paste Murry Taylor into the search box. A page opens and tells you the title of his piece. There's a link for signing up on the NYTimes for free. Read the article. Then send it to all your friends, family and your congresspersons.

If you're lurking Murry, veeeeerrrry nice job!

07/17 Frustrated,

I agree with the point of view expressed by Ol' Firedawg and Joeboy regarding 3 yrs of experience in fire being inadequate to be a squad boss. But this is not something new, it was happening in the late 80's and early 90's, and, yep, still happening today. Joeboy came down a little hard on you but made a couple good points that hold true. Maturity, composure, and wisdom are rare qualities in the young (but not unheard of!).

However, it seemed to me, your major concern was life experience being equal to fire experience rather than you just not getting the job. You have every right to be concerned! 'Life experience' does NOT constitute 'fire experience'. Even if one is mature, composed, has wisdom, and all the training in the world is provided, it does not make one an expert unless one actually has the chance to put into practice what one learned. Since you are the lead crewman, and you do have the fire experience, it is your responsibility to make the best of the situation. Do the best you can, lead by example, lend your advice when asked, and support your new supervisor in any way that is necessary. A willing attitude with emphasis on teamwork will go along way towards making your crew a cohesive and safe unit. An inexperienced and divided crew is a safety risk. You have the power to make your crew into a fantastic operational unit or turn it into a safety nightmare.

One last bit of advice and I will butt out. Even if it makes an uncomfortable situation, it is imperative that you voice any safety concerns to your Squadboss and Sup't if they are expressed to you by crewmen. Hang in there, your time will come....and always, always think LCES.

Old R5'er

07/17 Ab,

I urge all WLF crew leaders to follow this link to a well- written Yakima Herald News story containing the most complete eye witness account yet of the thirty mile fire. It seems to exactly parallel the initial findings report of the investigation team, but is considerably more detailed about the flow of events leading up to the decision that got them in too deep.


--Peter Pan

07/17 To whom this may concern,

I am a 15 year old male and I have become quite interested in fighting fires. If at all possible I would like some more information on doing so in which to include the requirements of becoming one or even volunteering.

Much Apperciated

07/16 Old R5'er

Thanks so much for your input. I do hope to get out and get some photos of these beautiful aircraft, and yes they will get posted here, providing AB will.


07/17 Does anybody know if there is a updated InciNet software program? The one I have is a DOS version and very cumbersome to use. If there was a Windows version the possibilities of using it for Restat or Sitstat in a network form in a real time format, to let Staging and the OSC know who was there or coming to the incident, where units are assigned. Units could get current weather conditions and forecasts, fire updates, and location info. With laptops and wireless communications, there are a lot of opportunities to lessen radio traffic and everybody to get the same message. Just a thought.


07/17 My wife and I were interviewed by a "Times" reporter wanting to get the inside story on why we do what we do. He asked her if she wasn't scared every time I left the house. She answered, "I've made my peace with it. I have seen the difference in him before this career, and since. I would rather have him doing what he loves, even if it means that he may be taken from me sooner, than have him just existing day by day in a job he only tolerates." These words came to mind when I heard about the 30-mile fire.

God bless those who have gone before, and give strength to those who remain to fight the good fight.

07/16 Wildlandfire.com tested our chat area this evening for a few hours. Thanks to all who logged in. We thought it a great success and plan to do it another evening soon. As we did this time, we'll announce it beforehand on theysaid. We learned some important things tonight and you all offered some good suggestions.


07/16 I've been lurking on this site for a year or so and finally need to speak. Or maybe it's more of a vent regarding the 30-mile fire and the media. I'm sure I'm not the only one frustrated with the finger pointing going on. Tom Craven was a good friend and firefighter, so I won't claim to be un-biased. This business with having too many rookies on a crew is going to be an issue for years to come. If they want to know why this has happened they need to look to Washington DC for the past 15 years and the steady dismantling of what was once the strongest wildland fire organization anywhere. What did they think would happen when we were not allowed to fill in behind retirees? And had no budget to train those we had left on board? Did they think that FIRE HIRE was going to be a magic band-aid and suddenly fully qual'd individuals would start crawling out of the woodwork?

When I started with this outfit it was a strong organization with all levels of experience and mentors and it took a while to move up through the ranks. Getting Squad Boss qual'd was a big thing! Now we've got 3rd year crewman like "Frusterated" thinking they have the experience to lead a crew! I think Joe Boy handled that nicely and won't harp on that. BUT What's going on! Last year I took a Strike Team Crew Assignment only to find out that one of my crews had 8 rookies! Most of them had never even been on a small lightning fire and we were going to Montana in August! Between the 2 crews we managed to reconfigure and had a decent assignment. But we had to turn down assignments because myself and the Crew Bosses were not comfortable at all with the experience of our crews.

It is a situation we're all going to have to deal with, we haven't been left with much of a choice. It will be sometime before we'll know something about what happened in Washington last week. We'll likely never know the whole story. Lets learn from what we do know, that Tom had a very young inexperienced crew. We're all going to be dealing with similar circumstances and need to recognize the limitations of such crews. I can only hope that we are allowed to bring this next generation up through the ranks and try to rebuild our organization. "Fast Tracking" seems to me to be a watch out situatuion as there is no replacement for time. But it seems we have no choice, we need to keep our cynacism to ourselves, watch out for the young ones, teach them well and stay safe. 30-Mile is truely a tragedy, lets keep it the only one of the season.

Ol' Firedawg

07/16 Nice piece on CNN this evening on Camp Blaze, the fire camp in Washington state (this year) for 16 yr-old+ girls to learn firefighting skills and see if they're interested in a fire career.


07/16 I recently came home from the thirty mile fire. You can tell from everyone on that fire that their thoughts are about our fallen family members. I wish nothing but a speedy recovery for the survivors and my deepest condolences to the family's, for they will be in all our hearts.

There is one thing that really IRKED me, "The media". I understand that with a tragedy of this type, they would want a story and the history behind our job. However, when they charge my crew asking how everyone of them felt about the accident and if the fire intimidated us, especially right after we get off a 25 hour shift. GIVE ME A BREAK. We were strictly instructed NOT to talk to the press in any way shape or form, yet these people were so desperate for a story that they didnt even know what the words " no comment " meant.

Beleive it or not, I actually had to walk a press person away from my crew just so we could go to the line. Thats right, he was blocking my krumy. Enough is enough from these people. They neglect to realize that we put our lives on the line everyday doing this job. We all understand and accept the risks that come with this job.

The point I am trying to make is that instead of asking how everyone felt about the deaths ( knowing that it bothers every single one of us ), why not try seeing how the family's are doing? Why not try to help them with THEIR loss and be less concerned about jumping infront of a vehicle just to get a sentence out of a tired fire crew?

Anyway, thats my beef. Everyone have a SAFE and productive season.....


Thanks for writing in. Rest up. Ab.

07/16 Current information on the Thirty Mile Fire is available at the Pacific Northwest Fire & Aviation Management Web site www.thirtymilefire.com/


07/16 Frustrated,

You hear he got the job over you because of his "life experiences"? Did you ask your supervisors why you didn't get that position? Three seasons of experience and you are qualified to be a FFT1? So that means that you could be as young as 21 if you started playing this game at 18. If you work for me, I am going to make the same decision. Experience is great but as a supervisor of a FS district fire crew, I'll take age and wisdom first. If you have questions as to why those folks did that, you need to ask. Good supervisors will let you know why and what you need to do different down the road. Neither qualifications nor lots of experience (which you don't have at three seasons) make good leaders, there is much more to it than that.

I could go off on another tangent about working as a team player to provide a better, safer work environment for you and your fellow employees and helping this guy out because you might actually learn something from them, but I know that the fracturing of your crew and the fears expressed by the other folks you work with has nothing to do with you possibly steering them elsewhere and constantly undermining this individual's decisions because "YOU didn't get the job 'cause you're qualified to be a FFT1." Do you really think that the rest of us who read this site daily want to hear about this? Solve this world crisis yourself. Start with your supervisor. If you don't get the answer you want and can't get closure, I'm sure there is a fast food restaraunt chain looking for an FFT1 to prevent grease fires in the kitchen next to the fry salting table.

Sorry to vent on this in front of the fire community but with the fatalities of late, this letter has struck a cord. Too close to the same time of year as South Canyon. Five days after and the media "experts" are already looking for somebody to hang. Even with the best training we will unfortunately have accidents and close calls.

Was anybody actually at fault for this incident? Too early to tell, but there should have been some indicator that things were changing. Even with seventeen years of experience (mostly with shot crews) this natural element that we love and fear still scares the s**t out of me with how fast and how furious it can get up and do what it wants when it wants.

Three seasons of experience and the job should be mine? I don't think so.

The focus is definitely on the fire scene now with this last burn over, especially since it is only July and we have potentially have four months left.

Let's keep all these new folks safe so they can really see what a great job they actually have landed.


07/16 Dear Ab,

Bum Pup's post reminded me of a site I found by mistake late one evening. If anyone wants a really religious experience, this link deals with surviving firefighter accounts from the 1910 Fires. The site even recounts Edw. Pulaski seeking refuge in the cave.

http://www.tpl.lib.wa.us/cgi-win/fulltcgi.exe/Forest_Fire_of_1910|disast er/firesfor.10
(The symbol between 1910 and disast are like a colon but two vertical lines that you can find above the \ on the keyboard.) I really hope you can load this site because it's worth the effort.

Here, Readers just hit this:
Unsettling Events

By the way... when I was reading the latest SIT report I saw the "Magnum" fire burning near the magnesuim plant. Doesn't that give new meaning to "flashy fuels"? Also, stay safe out there this season, I'm sure I'll see some of you on the line. (I'm the one with the yellow shirt and green pants!)


Thanks for your persistence, Kicks, in getting us the correct url. Ab.

07/16 Hi Ab(s) and all,

My condolences to the family, friends, and firefighting community. The deaths of the crew in Washington and the pilot of the SEAT aircraft in Idaho broke my heart.


I hope I understood your posting correctly. If you are looking for the actual Infa-Red aircraft to photograph, they are based at NIFC in Boise, ID. 104Z (red/whi) is a King Air 90, 107Z (red/whi) is a King Air 200, and 100Z (whi w/bro stripe), a brand new purchase, is a Citation. All these aircraft are owned by the USFS and dispatched by NICC. Usually the IR staff demob home to Boise after flying an assignment unless it is a long way away (ie AK, FL, SW) or an incident that has need of them for an extended period of time. You might get lucky and catch them (104Z is in Wenatchee, WA right now). Otherwise, if you are in Boise, stop by NIFC and check them out. They usually fly during the evening and night hours so visiting NIFC in the afternoon will give you a good chance of catching both the planes and pilots in station.

I don't think there is any IR aircraft in R5. The only other IR aircraft that I can think of, other than Call When Needed, is 111Z, which is 'owned' by Northern Rockies and based in Missoula, MT. It is usually used as a lead plane though.

Hope this helps,
Old R5'er

07/16 Ab-

One FS employee did not board that Heli in Stanislaus because the aircraft was not carded. Check those cards before every flight, fixed wing or Helo.


07/15 Lots of new photos up.

Some new ones on the Valley Complex (Valley Fire Page) from Doorsmaurer. Shows the smoke we work in. Not all glamor here.

Some fine new Logos of the Laguna IHC, the Lassen IHC and one from our Aussie mates on the Logos4 Page.

Here's one of the Martis Fire that came in while we were switching servers. I posted it on Fire5 The e-mail with it got lost. Please, if you took this or sent it in, let us know so we can give credit.

Many thanks to all contributors. These photos are used by many for training and educational purposes. As for the rest of us, we simply enjoy them. Ab

07/15 These are pictures from a very recent helicopter crash that occurred in California. It was a Navy Rescue helo out of Nevada. The accident occurred at a little over 10,000 ft elev. 6 people were on board, and believe it or not only minor injuries were sustained. The accident occurred during a search and rescue mission and is under investigation at this point so no speculations from me. There were some interesting stories that came from it tho.

Be safe out there,

Not fire, but definitely fine s&r helo photos. WOW -- so I made an exception and put em up on the Heli4 Page. Ab.

07/15 Ab,

A few new worldwide links.

NSW Rural Fire Service - www.bushfire.nsw.gov.au/main.php
NSW State Forests - www.forest.nsw.gov.au/
National Parks & Wildlife Service - www.npws.nsw.gov.au/news/firenews.phpl
Country Fire Authority Victoria - www.cfa.vic.gov.au (The Linton Coronial involves the death of 5 firefighters in a vehicle burnover in December 1998.)
Country Fire Service South Australia - www.cfs.org.au/splash.shtml

You've already got a couple of good ones there being FireNet & Firebreak.

Great page keep up the good work!!


Thanks a lot. We looked them over and posted 'em on the worldwide links page. Readers, there are some great Aussie links and others from around the world. Ab.

07/15 Ab, enjoy your web page. It gives an old ground pounder like myself a chance to stay in touch with the wildland fire community. I have been in the fire service for 28 years. 10 of those years were in wildland fire; CDF, U.S.Forest Service and National Park Service Hot Shot Crews, and BLM. I currently working as a Captain with a municipal fire department in southern ca. I am saddened and angered with the deaths of the firefighters in Washington.

Ab, my point! The Associated Press carry a picture of the accident with the headlines of the possible cause. The picture showed two firefighters mopping up the same fire that killed four a few days earlier. Did anyone else see something wrong with the scene? Look closely. Firefighter one: sleeves rolled up and no gloves! Firefighter two: sleeves are down but no gloves! A good example of safety? I think not! A serious infraction? Maybe not, but a part of the equation? Yes! I was not there so I won't speculate on the events that led up to the accident. Ab, what do you think?

Doug, aka moondoggie

Ab sez, "Lead by example and adhere to safety standards at all times."

07/15 Ab and all,

I guess I'm calm enough to post this now. First, thanks to the Class 2 Crew Supervisor who offered thoughts on the tragedy. Over the next year some carefully worded reports will be issued. In the meanwhile, people in charge of young lives on the fireground should be drawing every lesson they can about any apparent topographic, fire weather, LCES parallels between 30 mile and other disasters. Instead of armchair quarterbacking, maybe call it "review." No matter what, its all going to turn out to be about that tricky intersection where fire science and human consciousness meet. If you focus on the sociology of it now, who decided what and when and therefore who is to blame, yeah better hold off thinking too much. But any lessons that can be drawn, any thoughts that underscore all possible permutations of the ten and eighteen, thats good.

This WLF thing is a culture that is unforgiving of weakness. But a little self doubt might be in order, and healthy right now, for anybody in a position to be making potential life and death decisions for teen age firefighters or anybody else. Everybody has something to improve on. A good person who normally feels their act is together and their bodily functions emit only pleasant odors, they can still go on automatic, make a mistake, and overlook something important.

The Forest Service has been in turmoil for its entire historic existence, but no period of time has been more fraught with greater complexity than these last twenty years, or harder on those people who love the green trucks. I feel the organization is in a vulnerable state today because of the condition of the fuel, the retirement of the old warriors, the preceeding loss of a whole generation of traditional squad leadership, and now this sudden new pattern emergent in promotion and recruitment. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist, or a monday morning quarterback, to put it together that the bottom line contains heightened levels of riskiness and everybody is implicated in that for many reasons. Also, lets not take this wlf.com posting site for granted. There never was anything like it before. This equal community of brothers and sisters in wildfire is a blessed opportunity for sharing and learning without fear of persecution.

The 22 year old female firefighter who took the two civilians into her fire shelter, and was burned when she protected them with her own body, ought to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

--Peter Pan

07/15 The recent deaths have gotten me thinking. I used to live in Eastern Washington, and know the area well where they died.

Having been on the firelines I think we all feel a kinship that extends beyond our own crew to the entire wildland fire community itself, so news of deaths on the line hits home. This is truly a brotherhood/sisterhood. It's a reality check; sometimes when the adrenaline is flowing and the work exhausting it's hard to remember that yes, this can be a dangerous job. Most of us reading this have been there and know.

I've looked up some things from the past. We've come a long way from the days of untrained pickup crews in the 1910s and 1920s. 78 or 79 died in the big 1910 blowup, and during the late 1800s fires were known to take hundreds or even thousands of lives; the 1871 Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin took an estimated 1500 lives. With wildland fire increasingly in the public eye after WWII and Smokey bear, came the development of trained crews and the fire orders and watchouts, especially after Mann Gulch '49, followed by the modern red card system and ICS in the 1970s. But the reality is we are dealing with fire, and fire is dangerous. You cannot make it safe; you can only minimize the risks.

Wildland fire is interconnected with society at large in a way that many other things aren't. It's not just because of all the folks with homes in the wildland/urban interface that come in harm's way, but also because so many people from every corner of society wind up working in wildland fire for anything ranging from one season to many. Many of the older folks in the town I grew up in had fought fires with the CCC and had some stories to tell, and one church member had been a CPS smokejumper during WWII. My dad was a USFS "smokechaser" for a season, I followed in his footsteps; several college classmates did it or are doing it, and I recently found out that one guy I went to school with but haven't seen for years, who was known as early as elementary school as the best athlete in class, is now on a hotshot crew. Others wound up fighting brushfires and interface fires on volunteer fire departments. When somebody dies on the fire lines the grief goes far beyond our own community. One thing that bothers me is the news media's tendency to try and fix blame when this happens.

One thing I read in Michael Thoele's "Fire Line" is that every year, 1 in 50 air tankers on average go down. 1 in 50! Those do not seem like good odds. Does anyone know if the 1 in 50 statistic is correct?

About all I can say is, stay safe out there. Remember your 10 and 18!

Bum Pup

07/15 My sincere condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their young lives on the 30-Mile Fire in WA state, and my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the pilot who perished in Idaho. Best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery to Jason Emhoff.

Kids, be safe out there! Our prayers and well wishes are with you all. Your dedication is greatly appreciated, especically from friends who live in the Martis fire area.

Purple's mom

07/15 My thoughts and tears to our fallen sisters and brothers in Washington-

I think this year in particular we need to be extra careful in our job. The National Fire Plan hired, or is planned to hire 3500 new firefighters this season. It sounds like a wonderful idea until you think of all the overhead it takes to supervise 3500 NEW firefighters. Crews are stretched thin right now for experience. I have heard of one shot crew that lost ALL of its overhead. R5 recognized the need for more overhead and implemented the Fast-Track aviation program. I don't know what effect this will have, if any, on fire management this year. All i am saying is be super aware of your surroundings, if something doesn't seem right say something, and PLEASE review the 10 & 18's & common denominators.


07/15 For what? is a proper question. Fire hype, Fire cool? Time for this old dog to check out of the system. Big screen vidios in Base camp.. Heli shuttled to.. Hot showers every shift.. unlimited rental cars for helislugs ..motelrooms and highlife in the fast lane...good bye for me.


07/14 Ab's and all

After what happened to our brothers and sisters this past week, I am asking for any help you can give to helping establish the Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial. They are selling T-shirts, pins, and prints of the statues to raise money for this worthwhile project.

For more information and to see pictures of the T-shirts go to


07/14 Hey Ab-

I come from a local agency that runs two Type 2 crews. We try to run things like a Hotshot crew- we just lack the experienced personnel to be a Hotshot crew.

My problem is that I am in my third season and am FFT1/Squadleader certified, but my agency has put a rookie firefighter in the position of my squadleader. He is 33 years old, and from what I hear, they put him there because of life experience. But life experience and firefighting experience, are two totally different things. He gets his assignments from our crew boss, and usually asks me what to do. The other squad members tell me that they aren't comfortable, and even scared that he is our leader. They listen to me just as my squadleader does.

I know that if something were to happen like in the 30 Mile Fire - The shit would fly. Law suits from family members, and other national agencies.



07/14 CDF’s chaplaincy program did not replace CDF’s Employee Assistance Program. EAP and the Substance Abuse Program are functioning fine. The chaplancy program has been growing primarily because of the departments relatively new and popular funeral policy and the increase in the number of CSID teams. Unless you have information to the contrary, the chaplaincy program is non denominational.

A CDFer who reads this page.

07/14 History wins again. I am feeling low, low because we are failing to learn. Common Denominators have been around for years and years and years....I am feeling low for the four who died at such young ages. Tom, even at 30 is young in my mind. Jessica, and Karen and Devin, just kids.

We don't need more rules, but to adhere to, the ones we have are hard enough. I'm sick. I'm tired of young kid's dying on fires, I'm tired of firefighters dying during a pack test. To my knowledge, since 1994, 23 wildland firefighters have died on fires or pack testing. About 3 a year on average.

For What ?

07/14 Link to an online article from Firescribe:


07/14 No Scott, I was not asking about any communications plan(s) for the aircraft. My inquiry was to be aware of some really beautiful air assets for Forestry service so I might be able to go by an air base and get some photos of them. And just maybe see a ground receiving unit sometime. O, well that may not ever happen. The focus for most folks in the service is on the big tankers and very little if any on other assets of the air program, i.e. air attack, lead plane, smoke jumper aircraft, S.E.A.T.S., rotocraft of all sizes, and aerial platform aircraft (IR imagining). Another example is NASA's Starlink aircraft which is positioned @ Dryden, a superior looking design of the U2 air frame.


07/14 This may not be an entirely appropriate forum for this agency-specific post, but I think it may be among the most highly-read by CDF personnel. CDF recently replaced a secular and perfectly good "Employee Assistance Program" with a new "Chaplaincy" program with a strong religious flavor. And this flavor is strongly Christian. In addition to the name of the program, classes at our Fire Academy attended by employees selected to become Ranger Unit Chaplains are often started with a prayer, and there is strong religious content in the curriculum. Finally, graduates of the program are provided a uniform adornment in the form of a circular pin emblazoned its full length and width with a Christian cross. Several of us have lodged a complaint with the Department's Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, but we feel that a greater number of plaintiffs would greatly increase our chances. If Ab will allow me to place the following throw-away e-mail address in the body of this text mikew16461@aol.com

I will be happy to provide respondents with background information on the complaint's progress so far, and information on where to send complaints. That address, for those wishing to go directly to the EEO Officer is:

Karen Cohen Equal Employment Opportunity Officer California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection P.O. Box 944246 Sacramento, CA 94244-2460

"Mike from Arroyo Grande, CA"

07/14 Wildland Fire Mom,

Thank you so much for remembering the pilot who perished in the single engine airtanker accident along the Salmon River in Idaho. With the media running wild with stories of the fallen firefighters in Washington, I was afraid that Doug’s story had been lost.

We all need to remember that no matter what our position or job title, we’re all out to accomplish the same mission. My prayers are with the aviation community and Doug’s family as they grieve over this terrible loss.

Aircraft Dispatcher

07/14 Hi Ab and All -- from SoCal Dispatcher,

I am truly saddened by the fatalities in Washington, and my heart goes out to the friends and family they left behind. I had hoped to never hear those awful words again, "Wildland Firefighters killed....".

I wanted to let all of you know what an amazing family the fire service is. I was at a meeting for the Burn Run (a yearly event in Southern California that includes a parade of fire engines from three counties, a fire expo, a tribute to firefighters and a baseball game) and the support from the fire agencies was overwhelming. Almost every firefighter there came up to me to express their grief. The Burn Institute, who hosts the Burn Run will be calling for a moment of silence to honor our fallen, during the pre game ceremonies.

Please be safe out there this summer. We want to send you all home safe at the end of every fire.

So Cal Dispatcher


The tone has been sounded, "Gotta fire! Gotta go!"
The gear is all ready, let friends and family know...
Might be home tonight or may be gone a while,
Gotta go to a fire that is named "The 30 Mile".

That day many brave Firefighters fought that cruel and fiery beast.
Protecting our land, they fought with all of their might, to say the least.
Four of our Firefighters were slain in the final bout,
"The 30 Mile" fire was their last tone-out.

Now Jessica, Tom and Karen and Devin...
Have joined with the crews in Firefighters' Heaven.
These spirit crews, most elite and devout,
Protecting our fallen at their last tone-out.

We never know when a fire will bring tragedy with it...
May we keep in our minds and store in our hearts, the spirits of all of our fallen Firefighters.
May we offer comfort to their families, remembering that they too, answered a last tone-out.
May those that have worked side-by-side with our fallen Firefighters, remember what you saw, remember how hard everyone fought.
May we remember our fallen Firefighters in our judgements, passing along to the "Rookies" our knowledge and experiences.

Take care everyone,

07/14 fire fighter rebecca welch should be commended highly for saving and sharing her life with the 2 hikers she placed into her fire shelter. we are all proud of her for this unselfish act here at peavine v.f.d. north of reno. we have been into some hellraising wildland fires ourselves but have been very lucky as to not have had to rely on our shelters.

mike barry
peavine v.f.d.
fire chief

07/14 About the media and the 4 who died in the line of duty.

Maybe I am wrong, but I am a little upset with the way the media is handling this tragic loss of life. To me it appears as though they are on some sort of holy crusade to point a finger on someone, when what this was, was an accident. Firehouse.Com In the Line of Duty - 7/13/01 - Seattle Wildfire Deaths Explained. Read that and I think you will get what I am saying.

After reading the above I ask and say this:
I think everyone will agree that there were to many new people on the crew, but I ask this in return, how are new people to get experience? Lets suppose that all the people in that squad were 10 year vets. I still think there would have been a tragedy in the hills of Washington because it was a blow-up.

Look at the wording of the article, they are trying to evoke an emotional response; "Two of the four who died were teen-agers", I disagree, they were adults, keep in mind that at 17 you can be in the military, at war, killing people.

Weaver's father, Ken Weaver, told the Post-Intelligencer his son had 40 hours of training before being sent to the fire. ``What kind of idiot would send a kid with no experience into a situation like that?'' Weaver said. Remember they were sent to a 10 acre fire, under good weather conditions to MOP UP. They were not sent to fight a raging forest fire. 40 hours does not sound like much to the public, which is what the paper is trying to convey, but that's is a 9-5 regular work week, to be on a TYPE 2 CREW.

To me it just looks like the media is off to make this out to be a "murder" rather then an accident. And it appears that with this article they are trying to make the FS or any firefighting agency appear as though they are putting inept people on the line? I don't think they are.


My prayers go out to all involved in the fire.

07/13 Ab,

I mate told me that due to the problems with hirings the USFS is waiving Green Card requirements for people like Aussies & Kiwis to come work fires during our winter. I'm wondering if you've heard the same? Most of the Australian fireys are used to working with engines or handtools & used to faster moving eucalypt fires. While the majority are volunteers, we have 4 weeks annual leave which would allow a constant stream of firefighters for 3 week rotations, and with the current echange rate we'd be happy with the pay!! I'd appreciate any information about this.

There has also been a report produced concerning last year's ANZ deployment of overhead staff. It can be found at http://nrfa.fire.org.nz/publications/misc/ANZ_USA/index.php which makes for interesting reading.

Cheers for now

I haven't heard anything. Readers? While we have you here, O'B, any suggestions for links from Australia to add to the world section of the links page? Ab.

07/13 RANGER--

Fire on the Mountain is now on my reading list.
I think competition is a good way to motivate people to be fit.
I think you must be pretty fit.
I think the 19-year-old should feel pretty embarrassed!
I think the "young pups" who finished behind you should feel the way I did when a 73-year-old retired infantry officer outhiked me when I was in college (and that's not because I was in poor shape!)

Again, I don't know fire, except what I've learned from this site, but it seems to me any test that is there for safety (whether it's the safety of the firefighter, crewmates, *or* the general public) should have few or no exceptions. If it's not important for some people to meet the standard (because of hire date or whatever), how can anyone say it's important for others? Especially if the others are younger and (you would think) more able to meet the standard anyway.

I am praying God will comfort the families of those who lost their lives.

A little commercial plug: LS and Readers, if you want to buy a book or anything else that can be purchased at Amazon.com, please enter Amazon through Our Fire Books Page. You need not restrict your purchase only to the fire books that we feature. You can buy any book, computer, or anything else Amazon sells. If you buy something after entering Amazon through one of our thumbnail book "portals", wildlandfire.com makes a small commission that we can put toward paying ISP and other expenses. If you'd like to purchase something we do not have listed, simply click on any book thumbnail, enter Amazon, search for what you want and buy it. We'll get the credit. You need never go directly to Amazon again! Use our wildland fire doorway. Thanks, Ab.

07/13 Danny,

I am an infrared interpreter (IRIN) and believe you are asking about communications with the infrared scanner aircraft (National Infrared Operations group) dispatched out of NICC. When the aircraft is approaching/departing a fire (usually at night), they will be in contact with local dispatch for flight following, usually on Forest Net. Radio transmissions are kept to minimum while scanning because of inteference. Flight objectives are established ahead of time through Plans Section (Situation Unit Leader) of the OH team, who in turn communicates these to the IRIN, and then to NICC. Priorities and logistics are established at NICC. If there is no OH team assigned to the fire (typical for the initial scanner request), then the process is from IC to Dispatch to NICC, and the imagery is interpreted by a qualified IRIN. The IR aircraft does not communicate directly with the fire folks on the ground, the aircraft communication link is through NICC, the IR folks assigned to that fire or GACC, and the local dispatch.

Type I teams are familiar with this process, some Type II are less so. If you have more questions, contact your local zone dispatch or GACC, they should have a copy of the National Infrared Operations Handbook. Or contact the National IR Coordinator.

- Scott

07/13 I am the wife of a FF, and the mom to 3 FF... the youngest is 22, and I was just devastated when the news came on about the FF deaths. Even to hear one is hurt is terrible, but to die so young is way too close for us. We live in the mountains of the Northwest and have seen many fires. Not to mention the ones our family has personally been on, so we also extend our prayers and thoughts, not only to the families of the lost, but to the FF on the Thirty Mile Fire. It must have been heartwrenching to be there and know what had happened......... good luck to all this summer and, no matter what, if you feel it isn't safe, don't do it.... as I tell my gang everytime they walk out the door... don't be a hero!!!!!!!

SW - Sammi


Would anyone who is a regular reader of this marvelous site know which of the R-5 Forest (19) would have a mobile recv'r unit as part of cache assets to interact w/any of the three (3) air assets from the OAS? If so would you please ID which forest?

Thanking you in advance

07/13 Greetings ,

As more and more details emerge of the loss of our brothers @ sisters, take what you can from it and LEARN!! As stated here countless times, you don't have to have hundreds of acres involved for a tragady of this magnitude to occur. The firefighters lost sound remarkably similar to our own crewmembers, and I can only imagine how the rest of their crew must be feeling right now ! Lets remember, brothers and sisters, your safety is up to you ! Now I know it can get very busy out there, and sometimes things get over-looked, but for everyones sake, PLEASE pay special attention to SAFETY!!!! Try not to overlook even the smallest detail and treat every fire, be it 2 acres or a thousand, the same way!

On behalf of the Penn Hills Crew, our hearts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and fellow crew members of our lost brothers and sisters. We are deeply saddend by their loss......


07/13 Yesterday I drove by the local CDF station yesterday and the flags were at half mast, tears came to my eyes as I remembered our fellow firefighters. It also makes me want to be twice as cautious on the fire line. I know I speak for my whole department when I express our sorrow to the friends and family of there loss. It is also a loss to the whole firefighting clan, we didn't know you but we miss you.

Let's make this the last tragic incident this season, be safe out there, all of ya.


07/13 Hey BS,

Don't worry about being accused of "armchair quarterbacking". Yes, it will probably happen, but, we HAVE to role-play these situations to the max.

We've got to see exactly what happened, put ourselves in the same position (in our minds), and then make sure we don't make these mistakes again. It does appear that a number of our beloved LCES, Ten standard, and Eighteens, were not followed. There may be other factors involved that made the situation difficult to recognize. But you and I, and every other sup, crewperson, and overhead, HAVE to pick this thing to pieces. We've got to push people to quit making the same mistakes.

Yes, this is a dangerous profession. And sometimes, events will happen that could not be REASONABLY prevented. I realize there is a fine line between safety and aggressive fire-fighting. In this case I would bet that most of the folks there may not have even realized the potential that such a dangerous area provided. The only way to prevent all firefighting deaths is to stay home. But surely we can work on being more cautious, more "eyes-open", when going into these situation. And I guess, just recognizing a possible dangerous situation is the first step. Let's all remain open to whatever information is available. Thanks.

My deepest sympathies to the families, friends, and co-workers of those who gave their all.

Bob G.

07/13 BS

You are close on a lot of things........ Things happened fast and with destructive power. There are a lot of pieces missing and will come out soon.

I am glad you are not armchair quarterbacking and I hope the rest of you will avoid doing the same. We all need to learn from this, give it time and let the truth come out. Tom was a great man, he and the three others will be missed. To all, please don't believe all you read in the news paper, like I said there is a lot of missing information. Take the time and review your Fire Orders and Watchouts, they are there for a reason.

Was there

07/13 MY SINCERE CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN WA. STATE.. MY TEARS FLOW UNHEEDED as I type. But for the grace of God mine could have been there, cause I know they have experienced similar situations.

My concolences to the family and friends of the pilot in Idaho. Kuddos to the gal who shared her fire shelter & saved the lives of 2 without adequate resources - not many would have done that!

My best wishes for a SPEEDY RECOVERY to JASON EMHOFF.

Unfortunately, there will be alot of 20/20 hindsight about that mop up assignment in WA.

Mellie, didn't I see you on local Channel 10 news this past week? How'd that photo op get by CDF? lol

BE SAFE, my friends. listen to the old fire dogs advise about fire safety

wildland fire mom

07/12 I am saddened to hear about this latest tragic event. I am a crew sup of a type II crew with crewmembers that are the same age as those that left us too soon. I am a year older than Mr. Craven and have 14 yrs with the FS. I put myself in the same scenario during fire season when we relieve other crews on various fires and are in the mopup stage. I reviewed the common denominators of tragedy fires and found this one was right in there. Smaller fire (5 acres), Occurred in mop-up stage, Ran uphill on steep slopes, Innocent in appearance before blow-up. I have been working the scenario of what I believe happened from the information received on they said and am curious if my hunches are correct. I pulled up the Topo quad (Coleman Peak) of the fire area and found Thirty mile campground. What struck me right off the bat was the north/ south orientation of the main drainage and also how steep the slopes are. Judging by the topographic features in this area it is a narrow canyon that would intensify any wind event that did occur. I am not sure where the fire started but looking at the NOAA satellite photo of the fire and smoke column it looks like it was on the east side of the river. Again looking at the topo map it shows me a lot of hot slopes (south and southwest aspects) which could have been dangerous to work on when aligned with the wind event at the peak of the flammability curve. (1400-1800 hrs) Judging by the time in which the blow up happened 1500 hrs it seems logical.

Please I am not trying to armchair quarterback this unfortunate event but am trying to learn from it so I, and I hope others in the fire family, will not have to go through this again. Please I would like any feedback on my thoughts. Be heads up and pay attention to where you working. I feel we are in for a long summer the ways things are burning.


07/12 Tom Craven, the oldest (age 30) of the firefighters who perished in the Thirty Mile Fire is remembered in one of my northern CA communities as the guy who set the all-time rushing records for College of the Redwoods. He came to CR as a high school grad from Washington who excelled in football, basketball and track, and then broke all the single-season football rushing records for College of the Redwoods as freshman in 1990. He was phenominal! In '91 he hurt his knee and sat out the season but returned in '92 to break more records. After leaving CR, he went back home to Washington and played football for Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

Those of us who knew him here thought Tom had the greatest attitude, enthusiasm, and style. What an athlete! What a sweetheart! I didn't know him as a husband, a dad, a Forest Service groundpounder, but I can imagine how he enriched the lives of those around him as he enriched our lives. His death is a great loss to all of us on many levels. We'll miss him.


07/12 hey guys, Ty and i are in Eastern WA. Things are hot and dry over here.
BC, sorry I had to bail, duty calls.
Looks to be a Longgg summer. Take the six minutes (for safety), read and discuss them every day.

Be safe. No house, forest, or range is worth a life.
eric PW
360 731 2627
360 509 5858

07/12 During the last day and a half as I've read e-mails here, heard the names, seen the young faces emerge from the newspaper articles, heard from someone who knew them, I wish I could really reach out and touch you all, tell you how much I love you all, have a big multilayered, multibodied hug, share a few tears, yea, even wail a little. Even one death in our community is so hard, so sad.

Sorry to be emotional about this... but I know what I am feeling is shared among the Abs and repeated throughout our fire circle.

Take some time today and tell someone near you how much they mean to you. Share a hug, touch an arm, squeeze a shoulder. We share this grief. Ab.

07/12 I tried to get into the site this morning and was asked for a password. I don't remember registering a password when I first visited this site years ago. Was this just a way to slow down the traffic considering the tragedy yesterday? Do I need to get a password?

Ironically, this weekend I was going through my pictures from a recent hike up Storm King Mountain in Glenwood. I visit regularly to remind me to be careful and not end up as a cross on a mountain for my children to come visit. My heart goes out to the firefighters and their families in Washington.

Take care & Adios,

Hi CJD. No password needed here. We are experiencing heavy traffic at the site and behind the posting board. Ab.

07/12 The komotv link from sec is a good one. Here are a few more.

Personal Glimpses
Thirty Mile Fire Fatality Report
Wenatchee National Forest Fire Info

You can find current and breaking wildlandfire stories using a news link at this website that searches internet news headlines. Click the Current Wildlandfire News link at the top of the theysaid page and on the main page or look under the NEWS category on the links page for other options.

<hugs> to all of you,

07/12 hey all, it saddens me to hear about our brother and sister fire fighters death. lets all be reminded that we are not perfect, that we dont know it all and that life is such a precious thing. please be safe this summer.

BC Davis

07/12 Allan, The special you speak of was done by NBC on the program Dateline. Our S-130/S-190 class was shown it, and with this recent accident it brings home the dangerous reality of this line of work. I extend my prayers out to the families, friends, and other crew members who will have to cope with this incident.


Douglas (aka FMR)

07/12 LS,

Thanks for the book info, I will try to find it at the book store. Your ROTC instructor was more than likely correct. I would tell you what my Drill Sergeant told me about myself, but Ab would never print such things. I will tell you this. All-In-All, I think the pack test is a good thing. As with the PT test we took over the years, I approach it in the same manner. It takes preparation and I have a strong sense of competion when I take it. Usually I am the elder of the group, usually by at least 20 years. (That's two decades I think). There is no way I will give the young pups a reason to call me Pops or Grandpa. Out of my group last year, I was second across the line only beat by a 19 year old by 13 seconds. I was not a happy camper with that, but I guess it's that age -vs- gravity thing. Tell me what you think about some people being exempt because they were hired before a certain date. Although some of them are my good friends, I disagree with that policy totally. I believe that no one on the fire line should be exempt. If you really want to read a great book, read "Fire on the Mountain". You'll love it. A decade younger ? and a maintenance officer? you did good.

My fellow fire fighters, lets remember those 10 and 18's and LCES. It is rough out there and don't lose your situational awareness. IT'S EASIER TO SAY NO THAN GOODBYE!!!!.


07/12 Did I hear correctly?

On NBC Nightly News I'm sure I heard the reporter say that some of the firefighters were "sharing" fire shelters (not the ones who died, but others in the same group) because some of them didn't have one with them?!?

Say it isn't so!

According to the komotv link below, one of the firefighters pulled two civilians into her fireshelter with her, which probably saved their lives. I have heard nothing more. Ab.

07/12 More details on the fatalities at Twisp/Winthrop.



07/12 FMR-
i have been hooked on fire fighting since i was a boy wearing my dad's fire hat and sitting in the grass truck at the fire station he worked at. i too missed last years season (and maybe all of this years) but we have to look forward to many seasons on the line. stick with training (i'm an explorer) and see you safely next year!

i love reading this page and getting the tips and thoughts from the veterans

the 4 in Washington are in my thoughts

Roseville, Minnesota

07/12 Ranger,

How about this--along with the physical test, there should be a test for "street smarts"? (or "forest smarts" for firefighting?) Except my colonel in ROTC always said if there were none of us would pass it. And I got so annoyed when he said it, but the older I get (I will just say I'm somewhere around a decade younger than you) the more I see he was right. There is a book called "The Kinder, Gentler, Military" by Stephanie Gutmann which is the most honest thing I've read about physical standards and the military.


07/11 Our prayers and thoughts are with the family, crew, and all firefighters involved with our four brothers deaths.

Heads up folks, it doesnt have to be a 100k acrefire to kill.

be safe

07/11 LS,

The Air Force actually had physical standards? (Just kidding you, I spent 22 years in the US Army and you know the routine). I was also in aviation as a Platoon Sergeant in an UH-60 Helicopter Company. It's Good to converse with a fellow Soldier. You certainly do make some excellent points.

My point was not to say that the standards should be lowered so old dogs could pass the pack test. But, I still believe that experience and knowledge will out weigh brawn 99% of the time. The standards I was referring to were the Army Standards which does allow for the age difference. The standards were still extremely challenging no matter what age you are. I don't know what age bracket you fit in, (Mom told me it was impolite to ask a girl her age), but I fit in the over 40 bracket. The difference between my 2 mile run max allowed time and an 18 year olds run was only about 90 seconds.

I look at things this way, in alot of circumstances I have personally seen young strong men that have gotten themselves in some bad situations because they lacked the years of experience to be making such decisions. It has usually taken someone with years of knowledge to bail them out, and it has also placed more people in danger to bail them out. In most circumstances if someone with the needed knowledge and experience had been there in the first place, they would have never ended up in a bad situation in the first place. I also realize that no matter how strong or knowledgeable you are, fire is unforgiving. There is no way I can compare firefighting to the military. When you're out on the line, there are no dry fire exercises pitting the blue team and the gold team against each other, and there are no dry runs. It's the good team against the red team. Each fire is different and is a living breathing thing that is just waiting for a chance to clean your clock. This is why I believe that age needs to be taken into consideration when the pack test is administered. I certainly believe that the pack test is a good test and should remain. I also believe that everyone who is near the fireline should be tested. No one should be exempt. I'm not stating that someone 40 years old should be allowed another two minutes, but an extra 20 seconds could mean the world to some poor slugs who needed that knowledgeable person out there to keep them out of harms way.

You and I certainly agree on one point, todays military is no example anymore. It breaks my heart to see what it has become.

Ab and All, I read the paper this morning about our fellow firefighters in Washington. Mine and my family's heart goes out to them and their families and friends. Go rest high on that mountain, your work here is done we know you will be watching over us.


07/11 Another firefighter dies in the line of duty:

A ID Dept of Lands SEAT that was working a fire in Lewis Co Idaho crashed yesterday and the pilot was killed. Condolences to family and friends, and the "family" of the air tanker community...


(Ab, I checked and this can be verified in in today's (7/11) sit report.)

07/11 Four firefighters were killed on 7/10 in Washington during a burnover under unstable weather conditions. Another received 30% burns and is in Harborview.

Let us pray for their families and loved ones today.

Above all lets remember what we learned about fire behavior and the need for all to ask the question.. Is this a safe assignment? How will we mitigate LCES and FuelsWeatherTopography.

All factors need to be considered and all personnel need to ask questions about their assignment.

This is not a Monday morning quarterback statement; but is for the people out there are on the line today; wherever you are.

Stay Safe

07/11 Here's a Pacific Northwest/Seattle news report on the blowup that killed and injured the firefighters: www.komotv.com/news

Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends.


07/11 Ab,

This morning's news brought the Washington State news of 4 firefighters being killed when the fire apparently jumped the fireline. Here is a link that I've found.

CNN.com - 4 firefighters killed in wildfire - July 11, 2001


07/11 Ab and all,

I heard on CNN that 4 firefighters died and one was seriously injured Tues when fire overran a bunch of them east of the Cascades in Washington State. This is sad, sad news.


07/11 Lets hope and pray that the lord watchs over all firefighters in eastern washington. folks think LCES. i dont want to have to bury any more friends.


07/11 FMR,

You seem to be an intelligent and industrious young man (guessing about the gender) You ask, "Why do you have to be 18 to work the lines?" same reason you must be 18 to vote, join the armed service, enter into contracts, etc. You are not legally an adult until age 18, the magic age of maturity. You are to be commended for your pursuit of firefighting since age 16. Yes, you have amassed a great deal of knowledge, it will keep until you meet the age requirement to become a full fledged firefighter. Completed S-130/S-190, having your own compliment of forestry gear; good. Sorry to say, although you are a very mature not-yet-18 yr old, you are a liability because you are underage. If the requirements are waived for you, a whole can of worms opens up.

You ask why the FS or BLM doesn't have an Explore or Jr. firefighter program - it would be a major liability on the fireline, especially wildland fires. You didn't "miss out on a once in a life time event (last fire season)", there will be many more firestorms.

Check the stats about years of mismanaged wildlands. I'm sure the old fire dogs can provide you with various reasons, but consider what I've written. In the meantime; continue your dream. When you are 18, all the sups will want you on their crew and you will have an excellent opportunity to pick your forest of choice, as engine slug or ground pounder.

Good luck FMR, get those Whites ready for next season


07/10 I really enjoyed the photos you displayed of the Storm King Mountain fire line, and wanted to ask if you know the name of the television broadcast network and the name of the show that did a 1 hour special on the South Canyon/Storm King Mountain fire. I saw it and would like to write and see if I can order a videotape, but it was 2 or 3 years ago that it aired, and I can't remember the network or the program name.

Thanks very much for any help,

07/10 Bodine,
Like you, I get zero jobs when I put in any salary, prior experience and location=all parts of the US. In addition, I have to try repeatedly to even get the zero answer. The error message is the same one you get when the opm server is overloaded. Probably lots of frustrated federal job-seekers out there. Maybe opm just doesn't have the bugs out of their program yet. Anyway, check our jobs page. New jobs may have come open since last Friday, but they're not accessible on OPM as far as I can tell. While our jobs page is not up-to-date, most jobs we list there have not yet closed. It's as good as it's gonna get for the moment. Anyone else want to try to get anything in series 462 and 455 (choose "yes" in the category of enhanced eligibility, all of the usa, and all times). Here's the OPM site? Send me some e-mail if you figure out how to access fire jobs at any salary. Ab will forward it.

BTW, I like your moniker, Bodine. Way cool.

COMT, there is a legitimate movement afoot to change the MEA up from 35. I saw a rough draft (April 1) of a fine and informative letter to Secretary Veneman sent by the NFFE. Some congresspeople are genuinely concerned about not having enough supervisory firefighters. I say -- take the sample letter (modify it if you want) and send it in. It can't hurt. I don't think the FS is trying to cover it's be-hind from liability with any of this.

Tumanytreez, thanks for the info on the NM congresswoman who is watching to see if the fire budget reaches the ground. I have been researching what is happening with the rake-off. I'll send in a post in the next few days.

Thanks for retirement information Maw and Lorraine. I've been studying up and sending the links and info on to those newbies who are interested.

Old Fire Guy, good level-headed safety advice. We need people wearing their eye protection.

DM, I did not copy that video you sent, just drank the beer you recommended, watched it, and chuckled a lot. Those guys didn't have on eye protection or much other protection -- it was so old, vintage Hollywood. Guess I'll have to catch the other little show some other time.

You all be safe, ya hear.

07/10 Eric PW,

Software for programming your King from a laptop...........

Bendix King Radio
Product Sales & Support: 800-821-2900

You will need-

Part #LAA 0725; Computer Interface Cable. All E, G and L-Series $125.00 RS 232 cable for computer programming Portables and Mobiles and testing.

Part #LAA 1700CD; Windows '95 Software Pack. All E and G-Series $70.00 Includes programming software for all E and G-Series Portable and Mobile radios.

The above part numbers, descriptions, and prices are from the 2001 BK radio catalog CD rom. Those are retail prices. There are agency contracts for this stuff, check with the appropriate person from whatever agency you work with.

There is also software available specific to just E series and G series portables, but it is just as spendy as the above combined software.

I understand where you are coming from, but your radio folks might not be excited about you tweaking your radio from a laptop. There are other radio settings that you can screw up that can make their job more difficult. Speaking from experience, nobody calls the COMT or COML until they have scrambled things so badly during a programming attempt that they can't use the radio..................

Another COMT

07/10 My only connection with firefighting is that I have been fascinated with this site since firefighters saved my parents' house in the Cerro Grande fire last year. But since you bring the military into the pack test discussion--

I was in the Air Force as a female aircraft maintenance officer. The military has some reason for having different physical standards based on age because there is an up-or-out promotion system that means past certain ages you can pretty much count on that person never being the one assigned to do the physical work. Still it seems to me not the greatest idea because it's based on how things work normally, but the whole purpose of the military is to be available for abnormal, national-emergency situations, where the situation could require anything. (For instance, because unusual situations are possible, I had to get training on how to fire a pistol, which you would expect would never be a normal part of the job of an aircraft maintenance officer.)

But what really doesn't make sense to me (even though as a woman I benefitted from it) is the lesser physical standards for women than men. Everyone talks about a push-button military, but having been deployed in Turkey with a broken aircraft while the equipment we needed to fix it was in Saudi Arabia, all I can say is it's nice if you have an enemy who will stop fighting while you go get the equipment because you wouldn't want to ask your troops to do anything beyond what they are required by regulation to be able to do. The higher the physical standards, the more resources you have in an emergency situation (we used a couple of weight-lifter men once when we didn't have a hydraulic jack); and the lower the physical standards, the more you have to hope that the enemy has also read the policies that say it is okay for you not to have the physical ability to cope with the situation.

So I don't suggest looking to today's military as a shining example of common sense. And maybe the situation with fire is very different from the military, but I mention this because I just doubt that fire is any more fair or sympathetic to weakness than an enemy force.


Nice argument for the pack test, LS. Ab.

07/10 I have read many different opinions lately regarding the pack test, so I guess it won't hurt if I throw in my two cents worth. Not that my opinion is worth two cents, it just sounds good. Get this, where I work if you were hired before a certain date you are exempt from taking the pack test. That's right, exempt! I believe the cutoff year is 1993. Anyone hired after that is required to take the pack test yearly, anyone hired before that doesn't have to take it. They are sort of grandfathered in. The answer to all the questions just asked by readers is YES, they are still firefighters. I don't know exactly how many there are left working that were hired before 1993, there is a pretty good turnover rate here. I do know a few of them and most of them wouldn't come close to passing the pack test. I know a couple of supervisors hired before 1993 who take the pack test every year anyway, and to their credit, pass it. Good example of leading the troops if you ask me.

I have heard a lot of different ideas about the pack test so I would like give some food for thought. I am over 40 years old and take the pack test every year. I am only required to haul 25 lbs in less than 30 minutes. I usually do it in 24 to 25 minutes, but I know one day age is going to catch up with me. ( Ok no comments from you pups out there on old age and being over 40). The Military recognized this age -vs- gravity situation many years ago and restructured their APFT standards according to age. Although the standards are still tough, the requirements are different for a 40 year old compared to a 18 year old. Maybe the feds could look at the way the Military constructed their program regarding age differences and physical fitness and reconstruct the time requirements according to age. It may not be feasible, but its food for thought. I certainly wouldn't like for us to lose some good older personnel out there who mentor new personnel just because they aren't in as good a shape as a 20 year old.

Everyone be safe out there and remember your 10 and 18. I always enjoy reading the site because it shows we have a lot of great people out there who really care about this firefighting business and their fellow firefighters.


07/10 Hey Jeff,

Thanks for the info, I'm on a handcrew that is bent over all the time. That's why I want to upgrade. The one I have now slides up and smacks me in the helmet, the fusees slide out and go wizzing by my head and end up next to the line, that kind of annoying stuff. I've called Harold Dramstad, Ruffian Specialties, and Nimrod for catalogs. Is there anyone else? or anyone to stay away from? The one I have now will do for awhile. thanks for your help.

Yes you got the name right, (interpret it as you will)

07/10 Hey Mellie, or whoever is doing the jobs page.

Do you know what's going on with the usa-opm jobs website? They've added jobs salaries as a new search criterion category and now any combination of categories I put in results in NO or ZERO jobs available. Are you able to get this site to work at all? I notice wlf.com jobs hasn't been updated yet today (but it's really early). Heads up. You might also have trouble. As if we don't already have enough trouble with getting info about jobs and doing the application process...


07/10 Safety reminder.

The discussion on the work capacity test is excellent. Remember the purpose of it or any other fitness test is safety for the individual.....and those who depend on that person. Protecting the retirement of someone who is just short of the qualifying 20 is important, and should be addressed fairly, but it is a separate issue from who is qualified for arduous duty. Let's not compromise safety by waiving fitness standards.

Along that line, Jeff, I too am prone to heavy perspiration when working hard ( I sweat like a horse). But here again, we should not compromise safety for production. Think of the message you send to newbies when you neglect eye protection. You are telling them that sometimes you have to compromise safety to get the job done. I can tell by your writing that such is not your intent. Please, take time to stop and clean your eyewear however often needed. No amount of line is worth injury. Lead by example. As to following a bad order if the DIVS is willing to lead the way.......I'm not sure that following the fool giving the fool order is the way to go. I've said before, base your decision on the 10 and 18 and stand firm. That's enough from this sweaty old DIVS.

Old Fire Guy

07/10 Hey guys,

I hear a lot about the age of retirement, and its not fair for everyone, but I have a question, it is the reverse of that. Why do you have to be 18 to work the lines? I started firefighting when I was 16 as a Jr. Firefighter, went to a few woods fires and I was hooked. By 17, I had completed S-130/S-190, and (silly me) had my own compliment of forestry gear to use at my VFD's woods fires. Before the 2000 season ever began I was SEARCHING FOR SOMEONE who would pick up a 17 year old to work fires, to no avail. How come you have to be 18, I was in shape, not immature, and not into drugs, or other criminal activity, so I am not like a liability. So why must you be 18, and why does the FS or BLM not have an Explore or Jr. firefighter program? Anyone know? Or reasons why? Hope I don't sound to much like a baby, but it is like I missed out on a once in a life time event (last fire season) all because I was one year too young .


07/10 Hello from ATTA_GAL.

I would like to start this post by saying,"I appreciate your opinions and begrudge no-one of them".

Jeff, no apologies are necessary. A Jesuit monk once told me that it takes all kinds of people to make this world what it is. What a boring place it would be if all of us were alike. I could not agree any more, whole heartedly. Differences of opinion are necessary for venting, making all kinds of points (some of which may be more appropriate than others at times, but all should be respected equally) problem solving, idea gathering A.K.A.-Brainstorming, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...Besides I've always thought that if a person doesn't at least have an opinion, then one doesn't have much.

Mellie, thank you for helping with the clarification, you were right on it. A letter in reference to this has been sent to our Senators. There are some communities that are rallying and petitioning against the Pack Test as "Sole Determination of Employment" and removal of people from their positions (especially when replacing them with either Detailers or folks that aren't from the area who usually are only looking for another mark on the resume')as well as denial of and refusal to transfer folks' retirement with them. It is a very dangerous move to remove experienced, dedicated and knowledgable people (people who know the backroads, the water sources, topography, etcetera, etcetera...) ONLY because of the inability to pass the Pack Test, even though these folks are perfectly able to perform their every day actual and fireline duties in safe and effective manners, proven by their performance, safety and attendance records. Heck, these people that know their jobs, the areas where they live and work and water sources and back roads are being replaced by people who don't. If there's a fire in my back yard, I want the fire found and put out. I don't want someone "in charge" that doesn't know this area. My home could burn because of this, or one of your's or someone's you know. "Sorry your homes burned to the ground folks, I'm not from here or I haven't been here very long...uhhh, where's the nearest water source?" This isn't something that I want to hear from the people that are taking the place of others, only because they can't take and pass the Pack Test. I personally would be looking for major financial compensation from the folks that would be liable, because of ignorance and disregard for the safety of the communites that are bordered by USFS property. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for the Pack Test, but it shouldn't be the ONLY place.

Well, guess I'll go for now. Take care everyone. Remember to drink lots of WATER...GOOD HYDRATION is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Your life could depend on it. Remember: Hot wet skin = heat exhaustion... take a break to cool down. Find some shade if possible and drink WATER. Hot dry skin = heat stroke (Truly Life Threatening) this is big time trouble because the body's ability to cool itself by sweating has shut down and now the body temperature is rising. Emergency Medical attention and immediate cooling down measures are required. Place cooling devices (wet rags, ice packs) in armpits, behind the neck, in the groin area, under breasts, behind knees...anywhere there's heat. Give small amounts of WATER to conscious and alert folks, be cautious of nausea and the possibility of vommiting, which can make problems rapidly and significantly worse.

Have fun everyone and please be safe,

07/10 Hello All,

Remember to stay hydrated out there, whether on the line or in camp. If you don't, you can suffer muscle cramps, headaches, fatigue, constipation, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and sometimes death. If you get the camp crud, staying hydrated helps your body fight the infection. Consumer Reports (08/01) has a little equation for figuring how much water a person (with an average activity level at average temperatures) should drink every day. It's this: your weight (W) times 0.04 (the pounds of water lost per day) times 2 (the cups of water needed from all sources to counteract daily water loss). So a person who weighs 160 pounds should be consuming 12.8 cups of water a day (160 x 0.04 x 2 = 12.8 cups), at least half from water and the rest from healthful beverages, fruits and veggies. They say count 1/3 cup of water per fruit or veggie serving. (Each alcoholic drink requires 1/2 or more additional cups of water. No sodas allowed.)

Keep in mind: the water loss they talk about (0.04 pounds) is the average. Wildland firefighters work hard in hot environments for long hours and sweat up a storm, loosing much more than that.

Thus the admonition: "Drink, drink, drink!"
(Honey, I know you're reading this. That means you, at least 11.2 cups!)
The Professor (married to the Fire Ecologist)

Abs, I think this site is super. Thank you.

Thanks Prof. We work at this day in'n'day'out. Your appreciation is appreciated. Ab.

07/09 Here is some info on the MEA age limit for firefighters in the U.S. Forest Service.

One is a letter writing campaign with sample letter, and the other is a letter from a congressman gathering support for increasing MEA. The sample letter and congressman's letter with contacts info is provided, as is a supporting article. (Here's the link to it. Ab. arizonarepublic.com supporting article)

My own opinion on this is that the FS is trying to use this to try to reduce their liability in case someone has an injury, or heart attack. They have recently started a questionaire about your health. Next I see you signing a consent to release the FS from any liability. It is just another form of age discrimination and should be treated as such.


07/09 an anyone tell me where I can find information on burning indicies and activity levels?


07/09 Atta gal,
First I must apologize I misunderstood your concerns about the pack test. I agree with you it shouldn't be the only factor regarding employment, I don't know if it should even be used, I think that age and experience should DEFINITELY be considering factors. For those of us that can do it good for us but we never know what the future holds. I definitely don't want my retirement depending on whether or not I could pass. I think people should be inspected and evaluated just like equipment but this would be to costly. There are many jobs that a person could slip into (if he was lucky enough) that are still in fire that don't require an arduous level. Well I hope someone is working on this problem. I'm sure they are as we speak.

I hope I got the name right! I was wondering what your particular job description is? Because the Pack Shack does make a nice pack if youre not bent over working all the time. They make a two piece that is great for engines. For Handcrew work try an Eagle Pack. they are pretty good. We do not make our own packs but the Smokejumpers do make theirs. We use Eagle Packs that have been modified a little. I don't think there is a "comfortable" pack out there. It is hard to find good equipment but the way to find out is to ask around.

My comments about goggles-- they have their place -- on the ski slope or on the motocross track. They just don't work for handcrews. As a sawyer I tried everything. nothing works. I' ve worn bug eyes, they are just screen over your eyes , and I sweat so bad the foam soaks up the sweat until it is won't soak up any more then the sweat just pools and drips in your eyes. As stupid as it sounds when were on some hotline going direct I don't wear anything (you will never know my name).

As for downhill line construction-- it can be done safely and effectively. Just follow the rules and use good judgement. If you're uneasy and don't feel safe, say no or if you have a pushy Div.boss, ask him if he can tell you the ten and eighteen. He probably can't and tell him to come along with your crew. He can lead the way. Establish a lookout or two or as many as you need and use somebody from your own crew. Preferably a foreman or Superintendant definiteley someone with experience and an understanding of fire behavior. Have you ever heard of the campbell prediction system? It's a good system - all common sense, learn it. Just remember if your breaking the rules you might get away with it 99 times but that hundredth time might be your last or even worse, somebody elses, don't forget you can say no! safety, safety, safety!!!!! Where's the safety officer, don't be afraid to use one to your advantage. Sometimes you can put a know it all in his place. Don't worry about your perfomance evaluation, I think sometimes people let that get them in to trouble or in seriously uncomfortable situations. Don't let pride kill you.

Does anyone know what is going on for the new contract for engines and tenders for 2002 in Nevada? I am a little confused with what I am hearing?

thanks Jeff

07/09 Bob G.-

No question is a dumb question.

You know what a regular pulaski is already. A super-p is a pulaski that has the grubbing end bent to the side and an additional grubbing end welded flush to the original one, making an effective 5.5-6" cutting surface instead of 3". More resourceful folks cut the additional grubbing end in half and weld one half to each side, creating a more balanced and symetrical tool. Most hotshot crews, etc, fabricate their own but a reliable machine shop can do it for you if you don't have the equipment or facilities to do so yourself. Be sure to use top notch pulaskis (those _not_ made by Barco) because the 'pot' metal tends to deteriorate when heated by the welder and the tool will break more often than not. All that expense, time, etc for nothing. I can't remember the brand of pulaski we used to use for fabrication. Anyone?

There are some drawbacks to a super-p. The welded sections do create hard spots in the cutting edge that are difficult to file, and it takes a whole lot of strength and endurance to swing a super-p on an extended line construction shift. Drawbacks aside, the pulaski swingers on my crew swore by them.

Best of luck and stay safe.
Old R5er

07/08 Hey, know it will likely be viewed as another "dumb question", but, what is the difference between a regular pulaski and a super-pulaksi? And, if the super is better, where might I find a supplier for them? Thanks for any input, and I love the "they said" board. It seems to really reflect the general consensus on wildland firefighting.

-Bob G.

07/08 I visited your site while on initial attack standby in Nevada. Your article on the Silver State Hotshots, www.sierrafront.net, caught my attention and the photos attached were great. I happened to notice that the photo in the upper left corner is a photo of part of my helitack crew during initial attack on the Martis Fire on 6/17. We were working with two other R-5 helitack crews on a spot fire that went 1,000+ acres north of I-80 late that first afternoon. The photo was taken by David B. Parker of the Reno-Gazette Journal. I've been part of three R-5 hotshot crews and proud of it but want to give credit were credit is due.

R5 Helitack Supt.

Hi R5 Helitack Supt. That wasn't a wildlandfire.com story, but a link provided to sierrafront.net and an article in the Reno Gazette. We agree that it is good to give the photographer credit. You might e-mail the www.sierrafront.net editor with your information. Thanks for writing in. Stop by again. Ab.

07/08 LO All -having a blast in Winnwmucca.

BC just got back from Battle mtn. had engines in Austin, Eureka, BAM, and elko.

Give me a call (your Number is on my cell phone - the one I lost!)

mellie, happy 4th

looks to be a busy year. I have a request for all you techies out there. I need to find the software to field program King Bendix radios from a laptop. Working in the desert and needing to change freak sets when no one else is around is slow, and time consuming.

Does anyone know if it is legal to put critically wounded animals down? maybe save them from an agonizing death? IN WA I would call DNR/ FS on radio they would authorize it. Living in NV is a totally different game though.

later - and play safe
Eric PW
360 731 2627
360 509 5858
360 981 2829

07/08 Fred,

Yes, the FS used to issue "canned" rations. Many of the "P38's" (steel versions) that are floating around now are from that era. At one time, a three pack of Chesterfields or Viceroys was even included! One thing that hasn't changed is the edibility. For some reason, they remind me of pet food, but I've eaten worst.


07/08 I was wondering if anyone out there knew if the Forest Service used to issue its own rations. I was on a lightning fire in a remote area and found a rusted out tin can with what looked like the Forest Service shield stamped into the top and bottom of the can. The can was next to what appeared to be and old fire scar. There was also some glass jars that someone told me were circa 1950. ..................


07/07 Regarding retirement, when I got hired on as a term employee I got a 26 page booklet entitled: FERS Federal Employees Retirement System (An Overview of Your Benefits) R1 90-1. If you didn't get one I would request it because it does a pretty good job of explaining retirement. I would also recommend contributing to the Thrifts Savings Plan even if you are young. No one likes to think about getting old (including me), but it is a good program.

- Lorraine

07/07 RS

I don't know who was pulling your leg, but 7 and 8 LAL? That I would have to see in writing. Here is a link to the NOAA page that explains the LAL. I think they are hiding the pages with the LAL 7 and 8 descriptions. They must be to scarey for the general public. Hehe just kidding ya RS.


Take care,
P.S. I'm sure this is more then enough BS about the LAL

07/07 Does anyone know where to purchase fiberglass replacement handles for a pulaski or super p. (longer handles).


07/07 LC --

According to Eastern Great Basin Intelligence reports the Nebo creek Fire is making good progress, 45% ctn, with full containment expected 7/9. It's just a little over 4500 acres.

Cache Queen

07/07 Agree pretty much with Peter Pan, goggles have limited use in hand crew ops. In my hotshot days used them when using nozzels, during blowing dust, helispots, (and could't see much due to sweat and fogging) rest of time in my pack.

This old dog buys Uvex safety glasses with replaceable lenses, so the folks can have smoked for sun and clear or yellow for night work. We have bought other brands as well, the cooler looking ( at least in the minds of "young dogs") the more often you see them actually covering eyes.

Unfortunately the most common place this old dog sees goggles is very professionally perched on the hard hat, rather than over the eyes. Polycarbonate hard hats don't really need the extra protection. Eyes do. Goggles tend to be used only when absolutely necessary, safety glasses tend to be where they will do some good, over eyes, especialy if they give you that salty firefighter look similar to the "Bans".

The Forest Service will buy safety prescription glasses, though selecton may be limited and not quite so cool. Not sure about other agencies.

The long summer drying perirod is having an effect, fire behavior is geeting more and more intense all across the west, spotty moisture with the monsoons is causing spotty rains, so fuel moistures are becoming a tad unpredictable in from one place to the next in our area - take nothing for granted out there. pay attention--- and have fun.

Old Dog

07/07 LC-

The Nebo Creek Fire is not planned to be contained until Monday evening and the rain may have helped, except for there was a lot of lightning that came with it.

-seeing light shows in Utah

07/07 Have you heard anything about the fire in Nebo Creek, near Spanish Fork, Utah? All I know is that 4300 acres has burned so far. I was just wondering how close they are to getting it contained and if the rain helped at all.


07/07 What about L A L 7 and 8? I had a guy tell me last year to watch our butts as they were calling for "Class 7 lightning and 8 was as bad as it gets". The list given does not go near far enough. What about--High base clouds, no or very little precip, high to very high frequency of CG lightning, a good percentage of which start fires. Don't tell me it doesn't exist, as I have seen it. More than once. Is there a more modern and more accurate list out there? Good place to catch up on what is REALLY going on in the Fire world.


07/07 Not to beat a dead horse, but the S-290 workbook defines the LAL as:

LAL 1-No thunderstorms

LAL 2- Isolated thunderstorms. Light rain will occasionally reach the ground. Lightning is very infrequent, 1-5 cloud-to-ground strikes in a 5 minute period.

LAL 3- Widely scattered thunderstorms. Light to moderate rain will reach the ground. Lightning is infrequent, 6-10 cloud-to-ground strikes in a 5 minute period.

LAL 4-Scattered thunderstorms. Moderate rain is commonly produced. Lightning is frequent, 11-15 cloud-to-ground strikes in a 5 minute period.

LAL 5- Numerous thunderstorms. Rainfall is moderate to heavy. Lightning is frequent and intense, greater than 15 cloud-to-ground strikes in a 5 minute period.

LAL 6- Same LAL 3 except thunderstorms are dry. This type of lightning has the potential for extreme fire activity and is normally highlighted in fire weather forecasts with a Red Flag Warning.

The S-290 course was written in the early 1990s and I can't remember if this is the same standard as the old S-390 course, written in the 1980s. Regardless, LAL is still 1-6. Probably more info that you wanted.


07/07 Bill, what you have is a PIC of a C-97 "Strato-Freighter" built by Boeing. They were later converted into an air to air refueling tanker and called the KC-97. If you want to know more here is a link to more pic's and info: Strato Freighter.

Wild about Planes

07/07 The airplane is a KC 97. H & P has one on contract in Alaska. It will hold 3500 gallons and has a lot of doors (16?). It operates in the lower 48 occasionally. I didn't know they had a second one.


07/07 The tanker in graybull is a KC-97.


07/07 SW,

I have had experience dispatching Grayback crews for over 12 years now. From my experience, I can tell you that they are definitely a reputable outfit.

Their management staff is great to work with, any problems we have had with their crews have been quickly and effectively dealt with, and they are always receiving good performance evaluations. They are well liked and feedback I have received says that most people like to have them on fires.

As for getting employment in support positions (i.e. cook, camp help, driver, cache help, etc.), check with your local Forest Service office or the Oregon Dept. of Forestry (if you are in Oregon) about getting signed up as an AD or emergency hire.

If your interest lies more in the direction of supplying a kitchen unit or equipment (engines, tenders, dozers, etc.), check with the Contracting Office of those agencies.

- IA Dispatcher

07/07 The Tanker is a KC-97 and I believe there is only one under contract T-97. Normally this tanker works in Alaska.


07/07 Hey Ab,

That tanker at Greybull looks like a C-97. They had one in Alaska.

About those wayfarers--
Oops! Sorry to Lorraine and thanks very much to the individuals who pointed out my omission regarding the rayban wayfarer lenses. I wasn't actually recommending wayfarers, although I can see anybody would read it that way. I meant to be recommending clear poly shop classes, what IHC and smokejumper sawyers usually wear if they don't wear sunglasses or nothing. I get my wayfarers at an optometrists because I have corrected vision, and they work great for eye protection. The glass lenses are replaced with prescription polycarbonate lenses before I ever wear them. Some employers have a program where they will pay for that.

My main point about the goggles was they're pretty worthless for handcrew work, and Lorraine is going to a handcrew. Short history of me and goggles: the first FS crews I worked with never had goggles. Then I went to CDF for awhile. I think the California Conservation Corps pioneered the use of the Boulton rubber goggles back in the seventies and then CDF took them up. The old CDF guys hated them, along with nomex, and associated the whole business with posers. I got a pair wwhen I worked for CDF and thought they looked great sitting up there, very professional. Then I took them with me to an FS Hotshot crew along with a shroud and they had a good laugh at my expense, although I continued to wear them on the hat. I still use goggles, one of the new versions, but not really. They look cool, they just don't work out very well. The amount of sweat pumped out of your head during the kind of assignments where you really feel you want that protection from smoke and radiated heat cause the lenses to fog up no matter what. In order to make them work in those situations you'd have to have a pair built into a hard hat equipped with vacuum blower and a 200 pound refrigeration system run off a chainsaw engine (I hope no osha engineers are reading this). So, from my point of view it doesn't matter what goggles she gets. They aint gonna work on a hand crew. You know, its great to have safety gear, but if the safety gear doesn't work in the field, people aren't going to use them, even though somebody with clean fingernails got an award for making their use a safety regulation.

But, what do I know. How about some Hotshots jump into this discussion and have the last word?

--Peter Pan

07/06 I took the attached air tanker photo last week at the Hawkins & Powers facility at the Greybull, WY airport. I don't know what kind of airplane it is, but I bet someone reading They Said does. Hawkins & Powers has an amazing number of old aircraft sitting around at Greybull, including a lot of C-119's. They still use one C-119 for hauling equipment; but as you may know, the tails used to have an annoying habit of falling off during flight over a fire.


Nice photo. I posted it on the airtanker3 page. Thanks Bill. Readers, can anyone ID this?
We still have some more photos and logos to post. Thanks for your patience photo-senders. We haven't forgotten you, just that it's fire season and we're all very busy. Ab.

07/06 I updated the Jobs Page, and Series 462 and Series 455 pages. Ab.
07/06 Firepup21 and others in the Uinta

Can any of you help me out with radio frequencies? I've got most of the national freqs as well as much of the air-to-ground stuff. I seem to be missing the tactical freqs for local fires. Thanks

Retired Ground Pounder

07/06 Mellie -

You asked some good retirement questions ALL employees need to know when they first join any Fire Fighting agency. It's important, which is why I am writing this from a gov. computer. Unfortunately most employees don't get any information that will help them now for their future. If you stick around long enough you learn by picking up info. from others. It's a new day and employees have the responsibility to educate themselves and not wait for someone else's opinion. Educate yourselves now! Don't wait.

Here are two sites you need to cling to with just about all the answers you are seeking. www.opm.gov click and drag the right side till you see retirement, do the site index to the letter "R" Retirement, you now have a choice of CSRS or FERS, you can even pick the format you want it in.

OWCP is the insurance carrier for the Feds. You can print their 71 page booklet "Injury Compensation for Fed. Employees" from www.dol.gov/dol/esa/public/regs/compliance/owcp/feca810m.php.

It's taken me 24 season and not having FF retirement anymore to find such stuff out. Love the site but only lurked.

Sign me,

Maw, thanks for the links. It's great to have you lurkers become posters, especially when you write in with such good info. Ab.

07/06 Lorraine,

Comments on your questions about goggles on July 1; specifically which ESS models to choose. ESS recommends the Striketeam CF over the SJ because the CF offers more ventilation which allows moisture to escape from inside the goggle and will greatly reduce the chances of fogging. The vent filters on the Striketeam CF also keep out the vast majority of smoke.

These goggles are available from many distributors that are listed on the ESS web site at: www.essgoggles.com

As a safety tip on selecting any type of eyewear specifically glasses; always choose those that have lenses made from polycarbonate. This material will provide superior impact protection over any other plastic lens material and especially over glass lenses. You should always avoid glass lenses for use in work environments where there is any potential for impact. The Wayfarer sunglass that was mentioned by Peter Pan uses glass lenses.

ESS Technical Support

07/06 Don,

If wlf.com doesn't have your photo on the AirTanker photo page1 or page2, you could check the blm photo collection (enter, then select AirTanker). There are some other great photos there, too, but they're all small. If you find it, you can order a larger one. BTW, if you get an error message that the connection was reset by peer, it just means their server is overloaded with viewers. Try again in the morning or sometime earlier in the day.

Anyone out there with other ideas?

Good luck. If you find it, send it in and let us all see.

07/06 I was thinking about the pack test issue on the flip side. I think atta_girl (atta_boy?) is asking a different question than we've all been answering. And some of you invincible young'uns may have the same question 10-15-18 years down the road...

Come at it this way. Think about the BIG retirement carrot. What if you were so close to retirement, had invested a lot of years in your fire job, loved it, lived and breathed it, have lots of knowledge and have done a fine job. You've given this career your all - as only a wildland firefighter can - and then at the last, the retirement you've worked for is going to be snatched away.

Not passing the pack test may not necessarily result from letting yourself get out of shape. Sometimes people have a minor back strain, sometimes it's something more major. It can be a combo of genetics and circumstance that catches up with you at middle age, like weak genetics for back strain and lifting something like a pack jerryrigged for the pack test. TWEAK - there it's out. It may be like working in an environment where asbestos or fiberglass or smoke particles were floating around 15 years ago - and it catches up with you. Can't breathe well enough, can't pass it.

On one hand for safety's sake, we need people to be fit. On the other hand, after they've given their healthy lives to us, do we just throw people away and scratch their retirement? Yeah, you old and crusty dude, there are lots of other ways to serve, but you can't do them and remain in primary fire on a forest. You can't do them and continue looking forward toward retirement at 50, can you? I think atta_girl/boy is saying that some people who shouldn't be trying to do the pack test try anyway, because they're only a few years from retirement. I think s/he's also saying that s/he'd like to keep serving however s/he safely can, but if s/he can't, should s/he be thrown away?

What got me thinking about the retirement question is that a new ff asked me today how retirement from the FS or CDF works. In other careers, you work until you're vested in the system, maybe 10 yr. If you change jobs into something affiliated, your benefits and vesting often transfer or you can negotiate that. Some employers match what an employee puts in...

  • How does it work for someone working for the feds in primary fire?
  • How does retirement from primary fire differ from that of secondary fire?
  • Do those in secondary fire have to retire at any particular age?
  • What about if you're a LEO in your young life and miss the MEA but want to be an IC on a team? If you do that, do they make you quit at 55? If not, why not?
  • What happens if you get sick/hurt enough to have to quit fire?
  • Do you get disability until you reach 55 and then it changes over to retirement?
  • Can you work another job and still get disability?
I don't know any of this and I'd like to. Seems a lot of you newbies should be trying to understand this stuff too. Right now you're young and fit and full of beans. But life has some funny twists and turns. Sh*t happens to wonderful people. It's smart to try to figure out the parameters of the fire field so you can be as prepared as you can be.

So would someone please tell me how retirement works? How disability works? How does state differ from fed or does it?

PS Hey, you vollies, someone told me you never get to retire. Whatsup with that!

07/06 SW

Grayback is good. I've worked with them over the last several years as Division Sup. No complaints here. Does anyone have experience being an employee? It would be good to get that perspective also.

Fire Wolf

07/06 Mac - Thanks for the number! I'm betting that's the one I'm looking for.

Old and Calloused- I loved your comments about the jobs in camp that require a BRAIN and a lot of taskbooks. The more I learn about fire, the more amazed I am at what it takes.

For my part on the pack test debate, which it seems like we heard last year and the year before at the start of the season too, I will tell you that myself and several others have actually pack-tested with backpack pumps (old-style pumps, and not by choice, necessarily) and we didn't even have to fill them all the way up before they weighed 45 pounds. So yes, it is possible you'll be hiking fast carrying over 45 pounds (45 hard-to-balance pounds when they're sloshing on uneven slopes). And for my money, I'd rather not fight fire with someone who can't pull it off either-- I'd be downright nervous. Another fact - where I worked previously, law enforcement was required to pack test twice a year or face penalties and work limitations as well, so I don't think it's just fire.

Take care y'all...
... an idealist

07/06 SW,

Grayback Forestry is one of the better contractors in my opinion. Have worked with them on several fires over the years and they have usually proved to be better than average contract crews. Overhead (Crew Bosses) have, on the whole, been very good. Only had one back in '94 that was below avearage. We got ahold of their home base and the problem was resolved. I would not hesitate to recommend them as an employer.

Good luck!


07/05 Old R5'er

Your right on dude...there is the something to be said for having a Sup't with experience. Having been on a shot crew in the mid-80's and still pushing line today with dozers, LCES is and always should be the bible when determining go or no go.

Am not too much for debating but the pack test can be passed if a person dedicates time and energy to train 2-3 months for it. This ol' dog did just that!

Re Cerro Grande: I understand the results will be published soon and that there is going to be a meeting in Espanola next week for people who want to know more about Cerro Grande hazmat, smoke, etc.. Cornelia Be Bruian with the Taos News has more info - you can call her at 758-2241 ext. 121.


07/05 hey all,

was at the standard fire between lovelock and winnemucca nv. got to see some cool fire ( my crew did great ) and helped to keep the fire from getting big. got to come home today and will get assigned to another fire tomorrow. at least i got to come home to and have my wife clean some clothes. ( now all you women dont go harassing me about the last comment. grin :) ) will update you all as to what fires i come to next.

My wife will be putting up the entries on my progress of firefighting.

Danny, yes it was on a trailer like a bump on the log-

everyone be safe and Nevada is rocking! Hope to see some of you here.
BC Davis

07/05 I might throw this in about the Pack Test also; it’s not so much as to covering the distance of 3 miles in 45 minutes, it amounts to the comparison of how many calories or how much energy is required to do a job. Building a fireline with a Pulaski, chopping wood or felling a tree with an ax requires an individual to burn about 7.5 to 8.5 calories per minute. Humping a 45 pounds pack for 3 miles at a pace for 45 minutes requires an individual to burn about the same rate of 7.5 calories per minute.

As far as being required to pass the pack test to maintain your job, I believe the original intent was for those individuals which wanted to perform the “Arduous” duty of fighting fire are required to do the test. I somewhere read that there are approximately over 80 listed fire positions and that only 19 of which are listed as “Arduous”. Now if you want to be a “Camp Slug” (Hope I don’t offend anyone…..yaaaaaa right) that still leaves 61 other jobs that you can perform during fire duty. Some of those other 61 jobs have NO PHYSICAL FITNESS requirements. However, some of those 61 other duties do require one to have a BRAIN…and a lot of Task Books filled out.

Old and Calloused

07/05 Hi;

I am an old semi retired fire bum in Northern Nevada, i am looking for a copy of a picture that i had saved a few years ago, it is a picture of a C119 "flying boxcar" dumping retardant as it comes over a ridge right at you. My computer has since crashed and i managed to save most of the pics i had, except that one. Would you happen to know where i might find a copy of that picture for either purchase or download ?


07/05 Can anyone tell us if Grayback Forestry is a reputable outfit and would they be someone you would want on the fire with you?

Where would we get information on employment with support positions such as cooks, supplies for wildland?


07/05 Greetings All,

I whole-heartedly give my endorsement to the current method of testing endurance, the pack test. Also, I agree with the writer who said "Don't wait until the month before " or something to that effect. Get in shape and stay in shape, your life could depend on it !!

Also, anyone looking for a well made, low-slung pack should contact Harold Dramstad in Helena, MT. at 1-800-585-1351. A few of us in our Crew got packs from Harold just before the season started and we couldn't be more satisfied with there performance.

Stay safe out there !!

07/05 atta_gal, I have some questions about your problems with the pack test.

1) These people that are suffering from the Pack Test, are they in shape? You need to train before you take the test. The only people I see suffer are the ones that are out of shape. These are the people I don't want to see on the fire line because they're a liability.

2) I have a great deal of experience on engines and crews and haven't pack 45 pounds, 360 feet a minute for 45 minutes, but try packing a Mark 3 up a 80 percent slope staging pumps. Even packing hose on steep slopes is more physically demanding than the pack test. Have you done a lot of this type of work because its real world fire fighting?

Fighting fire isn't suppose to be a cakewalk, even know sometimes it is. I believe your a good fire fighter, but if you we're on my engine or crew you would have to strap on that mark 3 like the rest of us.


07/05 R-5 Alienhead--

I was going to comment on your observation about Downhill Line Construction but got sidetracked by the pack test debate. I agree with you, #4 is ambiguous and it should be rewritten/clarified by FMTG. I will drop an email to a friend and bring it to his attention.

I don't know how it was implemented before LCES was written in the winter of '90 because I worked on the hotshots starting in '91. At that time, it was explained and put into practice in conjunction with LCES. Regardless of whether we were cutting indirect or direct downhill line, and regardless if a crew was working uphill towards us, the choice was to do so based on the cumulative fire experience of the overhead on the crew. Fire behavior (et al) and safety issues were evaluated and thoroughly discussed, LCES was implemented, a full briefing was given, and off we went merrily cutting line. If a crew was working towards us, we established communications. If things changed, we reevaluated; if things got bad, we pulled out. LCES was the bible.

Also, something my Sup't always said was that if any crewmember did not feel comfortable with the assignment, they could sit it out in the safety zone with no reflection on their performance eval. The one time this occured, everyone had been up for about 72hrs and there was a miscommunication on the radio. Turned out, the entire crew did not take the assignment because a crewmember trusted in what our Sup't said, was still cognizant, and had the explictly stated option to turn the assignment down. Another saying was that no life was worth land that sold for a nickle an acre. Good advise to all those new crews out there.

Old R5'er

07/05 Idealist,

Thanks for the help, I've been looking at Ruffian specialties, and Nimrod. If anybody else knows of any others, or ones to stay away from, it would help greatly.


07/05 a big thank you to all for the info on the LAL's.


07/05 Hey there gang,

Well, as expected the 4th of July got our fire season off to a bang here in central Utah. We had a record 63 starts today across our interagency zone. Most of course were of the one tree variety, but I'm sure there will be some sleepers out there. There is a good one cookin' up on the Uinta (Nebo Creek Fire), we had been watchin' the plume all day while chasin' smokes. I guess this is just the beginning.

Have fun out there, there is a long season in front of us all.


07/05 atta_gal,

This old dog can and does pass the pack test each and every year, and yes I have to work out to do so. Never carried 45#'s? Hard to believe. Bladder bags, hose packs, line gear plus a chainsaw, humpin cubies up the line, all require ability to hump 45# or more. The pack test is a minimal level, and if a person can't do, would be a liability on the line, and like a hazard to oneself. In the good old days (or bad old days depending on persepective), we used to hump "smokechaser packs" long distances routinely that were 60-65 pound or more.

I also administer the test and have seen a few injuries, and very few folks who have failed, and never just cause someone was an "old dog".

My agency is not that cruel, if someone becomes unable to be a primary/secondary FF due no fault of their own, provisions can be made, if the employee is flexable. Otherwise there is medical retirement. If they just let themselves go, then they can suffer consquences. When you sign up as a FF and get the FF retirement, you bought into the program, which is stay in shape till you retire.

old dog

07/04 re: pack test:

If I'm not mistaken the purpose is to simulate the level of physical activity you might be expected to do on the job. Obviously, not everybody is going to be carrying 45 lbs at a fast clip for 3 miles, but some do this and more. And some do less. The pack test is a good average. A 5 gallon backpack pump full of water weighs about 45 lbs. I carried one regularly, and walked a lot more than 3 miles at a time with one on my back. When you add a pulaski, shovel, swatter, or driptorch, your fire shelter and canteens, etc. the weight comes to more than 45. I never did get on a scale to figure out just how much I was carrying for sometimes 3-6 miles at a stretch, but it was at least 60 lbs. I personally like the pack test and think it's a pretty fair measurement of endurance. When I took it, there were around 40 people taking the test, and only a small handful - I believe 3 - couldn't pass it. It's nothing that anyone couldn't pass with some training beforehand. One hint, train for it in mixed terrain, at a higher altitude and with a heavier pack than you will use taking the test. I used a 65 lb pack to train. Never did take the step test, that was before my time, but from what I've heard from others it wasn't as good of a test.

Fire photos from Minnesota, Canada, and Arizona coming shortly...just as soon as I get them scanned...

Happy 4th,
Bum Pup

07/04 Dana,

The Congresswoman you speak of would be Heather Wilson (R) from New Mexico. You can bet standing right behind her is her mentor Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM). He is very powerful in the budget realm of Congress and yes, they are serious about the right things happening on the ground. I believe funding of other specialties necessary to accomplish the WUI fuels treatments mandated by the National Fire Plan should not be percieved as "skimming", that's just part of getting the job done. Requires focus, prudence and caution though, because if the money doesn't make it to the ground and the WUI areas are left unprotected, the $$ will dry up as fast as a fire in cheat grass and heads will roll. ("Saint Pete", as they call him here in New Mexico, will see to that, one Cerro Grande is one to many.) The funds for hiring to meet MEL is a different ballgame.

- Tumanytreez

07/04 Lightning Activity Levels

Source: National Fire Danger Rating System -1978
Int. 39 Page 37-38

LAL 1: No thunderstorms.

LAL 2: Cumulus clouds are common but only a few reach the towering cumulus stage. A single thunderstorm must be confirmed in the rating area. The clouds mostly produce virga but light rain will occasionaly reach the ground. Lightning is very infrequent.

LAL 3: Cumulus clouds are common. Swelling and towering cumulus covers less than two-tenths of the sky. Thunderstorms are few, but two to three must occur within the observation area. Light to oderate rain will reach the ground, and lightning is infrequent.

LAL 4: Swelling cumulus and towering cumulus cover 2-3 tenths of the sky. Thunderstorms are scattered but more than three must occur within the observation area. Moderate rain is commonly produed, and lighting is frequent.

LAL 5: Towering cumulus and thunderstorms are numerous. They cover more than three-tenths and occasionally obscure the sky. Rain is moderate to heavy, and lightning is frequent and intense.

LAL 6: Rare but significant. High base clouds, no precipitation, low frequency of cloud-to-ground strikes (similar to LAL 3). High precentage of strikes start fires.


07/04 I haven't seen any responses to R5 Alienhead's question/comment (06/28 at the bottom of theysaid) about constructing downhill line. It's a good question. What do people think?

I have another comment. There are lots of new crews out there. They're really young, really inexperienced and really eager. Most are great kids. A few are really stupid. From what I've heard/observed, a few are into alcohol and drugs. Please, Sups, watchout and don't hesitate to can people if something's not right. I know some youngsters don't appreciate the enforced discipline. Probably I'm preachin to the choir here, in which case let me just thank you for trying to get these young folks into shape. I appreciate the headaches some of you are suffering. Remember we're molding the future fire force and safety is paramount.

Tahoe Terri

07/04 I'm not really an "old dog" I only have 15 years experience, but not only do I believe the WCT should be given every year I think it should be given every six months. Most those that, as you put it, "suffer needlessly" are the ones that wait till the last minute or don't get in shape for it at all. I'm one of the big boys myself. I'm short legged and built more like a block then an endurance athlete. I have had no problem passing it. If a person practices the test, gets into and the key word here is "maintains" their physical fitness level, they shouldn't have a problem.

Do I think the test is totally fair? No. Those that are short in stature and have a poor pack weight to body ratio are going to have to work harder. But the Wct is a hell of allot better then the step test. Until something better is designed, yes I do think think it should be used as a condition for hire and continued employment.

To address some other factors you put in.

  • # of seasons? What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Just because you were in shape last year doesn't mean you are this year. ALLOT can happen in winter. We care about what you are not what you were.
  • Knowledge test? Hmmm Thats what the qualification system (Red Card) is for. Maintain your quals. What is it STL for Superintendents, ENGB for Engine Captains and so on down the line. So don't tell me knowledge isn't tested and performed on a yearly basis.
  • Dedication? I guess we'll find that out on how much they are dedicated to their P.T. program. Dedication means many things, more then just showing up everyday.
  • Years of service towards retirement? Hmmmm so if your close to retirement, out of shape and can't do your job we should keep you anyways? I'm not sure what you mean there but I say drop the dead weight. If you can't perform you're a liability not an asset. I know for a fact that dam near everyone "suffering" on our Forest because of the pack test DOES NOT have a year round workout regiment and are the biggest complainers about the pack test. Until something else come along I'm a supporter of the WCT.
Sign me,
Didn't wait until the month before to get ready
07/04 Lorraine --
There is a way to be safe and not wear goggles without buying normal sunglasses... my last season in the field we bought OSHA-approved (for industry and construction) safety glasses that you can switch between shaded lenses and clear ones for night use (sold at some hardware stores and through construction industry and safety equipment suppliers). They are not approved by NWCG or CDF, but they are actual safety glasses that have survived shatter tests and have the shields around the top and sides. These are guaranteed to be safer than sunglasses. After watching many safety videos showing what sunglasses or other non-OSHA-approved glasses do to eyes and skin when they shatter, you would never find me wearing normal sunglasses on a fire. Any cutting or hacking activities (handtools or power saws) can throw material back in your face and potentially shatter glasses. Okay, there's my safety message of the day. One more thing--women and smaller people may want to see if you can get the smaller size as they seem to be made for some type of stereotypical big construction dude head. They're about $7-$15 last I knew, and you can get extra lenses to replace them when they get scratched.

Also, Onelick- we had a great low-slung pack that was made by a guy or small company in Montana. I keep losing the phone number, but I know lots of folks buy from this guy and maybe someone else knows who I'm talking about.

Atta_gal -- I think there are knowledge tests out there, and they should prevent most from slipping up through the ranks without it. Taskbooks and required time on the line before you move up to the next qualified position are one way, and KSAs and minimum requirements for employment positions (such as "must be ICT4 and Engine Boss qualified") serve to keep only qualified and hopefully knowledgeable people on certs. This is why we've had trouble hiring this year... there are not enough qualified overhead, and you can't hire someone without the experience and knowledge.

Okay, gotta get to work and see what's going to be on fire today...
Happy Fourth!
...an idealist


*-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy 4th!-*


from all the Abs

07/04 This is for EVERYONE on the 4th.


Jim Evans

07/04 Donna,
One more comment on LAL (Lighting Activity Level), j failed to mention that LAL "1" is "no lighting", you would think that "0" would be none but some weather wheenie type decided that "1" ment none, go figure? Now, on the other hand, if you ever see a LAL of 6 (a rare event, I am told) it means you are most likely in south Flordia at the wrong time of year.


07/04 Happy 4th of July!

I talked with Dennis Hulbert, Regional Aviation Officer for R5, a few weeks ago about the shortage of overhead in aviation. He filled me in on an accelerated aviation training program that R5 has implemented. It's called Fast Track and, in my estimation, is a solid, efficient, and expedited way to train and mentor new people. Hey you ICs, it's great to see that it's being supported in the field!

Here's a link to the newest Fast Track press release info. This info is presented as an attractive leaflet. So Ab could put it up on wlf.com, I removed the pretty photos and fancy formatting and did it in html. Not as beautiful as Dennis' paper version, but includes all written info that his version does.

On a related topic, I have always thought that another way to expedite training is to do some part of it via the internet. I came across an informative new "Interagency Aviation Training" website yesterday. It looks like online training is part of what's being done there. Ab, would you please put it on the links page?

It's on links under training & education. Ab.

07/04 Hello there, atta_gal here...I guess that some people just don't get what I was REALLY writing about, (the Pack Test). No, I was never a hotshot, I never sought that position, there are a lot of other JUST AS IMPORTANT and sought after positions. Actually I was an "Engine Slug". Proud of it too, and a darned good one,or so I was told and it shows in my performance evaluation... I also did some Prevention and a lot of Hand Crew work. Still, I or anyone I've ever worked with, have NEVER carried a 45lb. pack, 360ft a minute, for 45 minutes non-stop, for a total of 3 miles, while out on a project or at a fire. I've been to a few... For those of you that do actually do this every day at work, or at fires... My hat's off to ya'...

If you think the" Pack Test": Carrying a 45lb pack, 360 some feet a minute for 45 minutes without stopping, or 25lbs, 360ft a minute, for 30 minutes nonstop, should be THE ONLY FACTOR OF YOUR EMPLOYMENT...REGARDLESS... of your experience, # of seasons, knowledge, dedication, years of service with built up Firefighters Retirement Benefits........then Hmmmmmmmm. I wonder why there isn't some kind of KNOWLEDGE Test...unless, this doesn't really mean anything. Maybe it doesn't. I'm just seeing a lot of people suffer needlessly due to the Pack Test. I realize that there are possible plusses of the Pack Test, but there are a lot of negative ones as well. So enjoy looking forward to this and only this, each and every year...pray you don't suffer any injuries that hinder your ability to pass this test, as nothing else will matter for your employment.

I do have some questions to pose. Do you "Old Dogs" think you should take the Pack Test each year? Do you have retirement benefits built up? Did you know that if for any reason that you cannot pass this test, that you may and probably will be removed from your positions and be offered a position that's not covered by your built up retirement plan? All those years down the drain. (THIS IS HAPPENING AS WE SIT HERE NOW) Eye-opener huh? I am not totally putting the Pack Test down, though... I was endeared with the loving title of "Fuel Mule". In this type of position or any related ones, I can see where the Pack Test is useful, but not for Supervisors, Division Chiefs, Battalion Chiefs, BAER folks, etc., etc. I just don't see how you people can accept this as THE ONLY DETERMINING FACTOR FOR YOUR EMPLOYMENT.

Take care all of you. Have fun and be safe out there.

07/03 Peter pan -

Thanks for the info regarding the goggles. Jumping on the pack test 2 cents bandwagon - I think the pack test is a good test. It is much better than the step test, which anyone with a pulse could pass. I hope they keep the pack test around.

- Lorraine

07/03 Hey Jeff,

I want to upgrade my pack from a Pack Shack pack. What pack do you recommend to carry that much weight, or do you shot crews make your own?


07/03 Lorraine,

Goggles have that professional image thing but the truth is on a hand crew you sweat so much that no matter what kind of goggle you have they just fog up and then you can't see a damn thing with them on. I think they're more practical for engine crew work as in when you mop up hotspots or stumpholes and that nasty steam crud jets back in your face. Sawyers who are supposed to use eye protection mostly opt for shop glasses or during the day, sunglasses, or illegally nothing. In sunglasses I like the rayban wayfarers because you get a wide lens with good side clearance to let the moisture escape.

--Peter pan

07/03 Answer for Donna regarding LAL -

The highest number they use is 6. The difference between 1-5 is the amount of rain and the number of cloud-to-ground strikes in a 5 minute period. LAL 6, being the worst, is for dry lightning and normally issued with a Red Flag Warning. That's the brief version.


07/03 Dana,

From everything I've heard in R5, hiring of seasonal temp firefighters has been fairly successful. Hiring overhead to supervise the temps has not been so successful. Best estimates in R5 are that we've hired 2/3 to 3/4 of those we need to meet the first year's projected goals for hiring overhead. Needless to say, without enough overhead, we don't have the leadership for 7 day staffing of modules, and must settle for 5 day staffing. That means we're 2/7 short of the resources we had planned to have in this first year of moving toward MEL. Some forests don't have the staffing they had last year in spite of the hiring. Some have done better. Hiring continues. We also need to train people and get them moving up. We need to find ways to streamline the process and get people the needed taskbook experience.

As I think about implications regarding mobile resources to fight fire, insufficient overhead probably will also reduce freelancing. I would imagine that when it sacrifices a module, those individuals who formerly went off forest won't be allowed to go. I think my logic is correct here. If not, please correct me.

I heard through the grapevine locally that our gifted number-crunching Gary should be doing some analyses very soon that address overall hiring status given the R5 3-year projections for the NFP.

Dana, I don't know why you want the info, but if you're wondering if ff will still need to be hired/trained, the answer is a resounding "yes". It's clear that we need to continue to develop a fire workforce that can do the job into the new millineum. That includes hiring, training, the JAC academy, beefed-up OJT, and other ways to streamline or fast track the training process - and not only for groundpounders but also for aviation.


07/03 Mellie,

No plans to "dis" the folks in charge of implementing MEL or hiring. Just have a newsletter to get out to the membership and have had some calls with concerns that if folks did not "get in" last winter they were out in the cold. My guess is that 40-50% of the positions were filled (when accounting for attrition) but I would like to be as accurate as possible. I believe that there will be as many folks hired next winter as last.

On the "rakeoff"... Last year during televised hearings (CSPAN) I heard clear and loud warnings that "siphoning of funds intended for fire will not be tolerated" from a legislator (female) from NM (I believe) saw some pretty powerful people in the region turn kinda pasty colored as she pointedly told them she knew how fire funds were diverted and would be closely watching. I wish I could remember her name. Getting old I guess. Can anyone help me out here...I would sure like to post her email address so we could have a little "fraud, waste, and abuse" hotline.


07/03 Dear atta gal,

Where have you been working, I can tell that you actually believe yourself when you say that no one carries a 45 lb. pack. Well how about you carry mine for a season and then tell me it isn't that heavy. Depending on the environment it may weigh more than that. I can tell you have never been a HOTSHOT but I'm sure you have personal reasons. Oh by the way we hike much faster than that, we probably meet the minimums on 30% slopes.... and you think I'm kiddin..... I'm not being fecicious, I'd really like to know exactly what you carry in your pack. Definitely not enough to be self sufficient for 24-36 hours, because I know I don't Well I could be if I didn't actually have to WORK!!!! or EAT or DRINK.


07/03 Re: PROTEUS

BC Davis, you mentioned that the critter I was speaking of didn't leave the trailer. Is it brought in on a transport similar to a Dozer?

Doc, If @ all possible and as time permits would you try to post some clear up close photos of the unit? If not @ least let me know the agency whose name (if any) is stenciled on the rig and possibly it's home base. Also maybe an E addy of the mfg.

Thanks to you both

07/02 i can't seem to find an answer so i've come to the knowledgeable ones.... :) on LAL (lightning activity levels) readings what is the highest numbers that they can predict? i've heard them go to 4 in the past, but what is the max. on the numbers?


07/02 Good story here. The focus is smokejumpers, but there is lots of good info about fire and the current buildup in ff.



07/02 Hey Ab,

Finally got some pics scanned from the Valley Complex near Darby Mt. Hope they come through, this is the first time I've sent pics.

Pa #4


  • valley1 - Blowup from the Sula Complex from over a mile away. This blowup caused the Sula complex and the Valley complex to join the next day. This was taken as we were being evacuated from whiskey gulch.
  • valley2- Another pic of the Sula complex blowing up.
  • valley3- We were evacuated to the Sula fire station parking lot which just happened to be in the path of the blowup.
  • valley4- another pic from the Sula VFD parking lot.
  • valley5, 6, 7, 8- retardant drop on another division of the fire the next day.
  • valley9- structure protection on an historical outhouse. Being from Pa, we didn't see what was so historical about it!!! but the Div sup said it was.
  • valley10- A forwarder that had a 3000 gal tank and pump on it. We used it on the Full Circle fire at the Lost Trail Pass ski resort. It was amazing to watch that machine work.
  • valley11- Burning out at the Full Circle fire.
Mighty fine photos, Doorsmaurer. I posted them on their own Valley Complex page.

If anyone else has photos of the Valley Complex, send 'em in. Other complexes? Send those in too and perhaps we can have some more photo pages dedicated to specific locations.

Over the weekend we also got 2 photos of another pretty elaborate piece of equipment, the Suppressor. I put those photos on the Equipment2 page. Check out the specs on the description page. Link is under the photo.

07/02 AB,

The photo of a specialized piece of equipment on a transport in the Valley Complex collection is NOT Proteus. At least is doesn't match the photo I have in the Popular Mechanics magazine. You might ask the photographer if he can provide more data on it. Who owns/operates it, etc.


07/02 hey danny,

that critter that you were speaking of was at the martis fire and didnt leave the trailer. sorry i dont have any more info on it.

BC Davis

eric, give me a call

07/02 I have seen several chief/supervisor vehicles with the new white/reflectored green stripe paint scheme and to me it looks good and professional. I hope that the FS Fire and Aviation people continue this color on all their vehicles, and make it standard for ALL Fire Management and Law Enforcement in the USFS. This is a good thing in the vehicles will be more visible, it will distinguish Fire and Law Enforcement from the other departments on the forest, and improve the value of the equipment when it comes to surplusing.

The more Fire can distinguish itself from the rest of the organization the greater opportunities its going to have in the future.

As far as the budget issue goes, I thought that the additional funding we recieved was completely earmarked for Fire, and was written in a way that would prevent the Administration from shifting any of the funding to non-fire issues. Can someone contact a Congressman and show hard documented evidence where money is being shunted away from Fire?


07/02 i just returned from martis and did video work on the proteus. it never did get assigned that i know of while i was there. their machine is nice but has some very limited uses.


07/02 Danny,

The Proteus unit that you mentioned was assigned to the Martis fire, but I am unsure if it was ever put to use. You might look up the story that KRNV did on it on their web site at KRNV.com. I will say that the more complicated the tool, the more problems that you will have with it (re: The Dragon Wagon). LCES, Everyone, and stay safe....


07/01 Danny,

I'm working on a set of 11 photos from the Valley Fire sent in by Doorsmaurer. I should get those up on their own page by this evening. Among them is a "forwarder" that is a huge machine. Here's the link to just that photo in small size. Any chance this could be the one you're looking for?


07/01 Hi all! This is for Old and Calloused and Atta-Gal.

I have to agree with O&C with his comments about the pack test being a viable way to estimate firefighter fitness (although hiking on flat ground certainly leaves some room for error in a true estimation). I am sure an improved way will be thought up by the experts in future years but what exists now is certainly better than the old step test.

O&C, I am sure you meant it as joke about ending up in a doctor's office on a treadmill, etc, but I know someone that it happened to. He was required by BLM to take a series of tests administered by a doctor in order to retain his current position because of his age. He refused; he had passed the pack test with flying colors as well as the BLM higher standards: running the mile and a half in under 9:30. Long story short, he was reinstated back to his position after a year and a court battle.

As to Atta_Gal's comments on no one ever carrying 45 lb packs, a sawyer on a hotshot crew carries 45-50lbs of gear. This includes the necessities, a saw repair kit and extra chain, a dolmar, or if you are lucky 2 sigs of gas/oil, depending on the assignment, up to 2 gallons of water, and then we shoulder the saw which can be a new, light generation Stihl or Husky to one of the old clunky ones that weigh a ton. I personally carried this weight in '91 on a 7 mile powerhike to a fire in SoCal with a pace that exceeded what the current test is, and of course....it was all up hill :)

When it really comes down to it, be in shape when you report to work, get regular checkups from your doctor on your own dime and for your own piece of mind, and you shouldn't have any problems passing any test the government thinks up. The whole point of testing is to ensure that you are not a safety risk on the fireline.

Stay safe out there all.
Old R'5er

07/01 Mellie,

You know, I forgot that the movie in question was on the tape I sent. I think it was called "Fire on Kelly Mountain." Kind of a cheesy Disney fire movie, but good for a couple of yuks. I would have responded, but "I've been busy!!!!" Did you make a copy?. If you the person wanting a copy, still does, let me know.



I am hopping to find a person or group of persons who were on the 292K+ acre Valley Complex (Aug 2nd - Oct 4th) Incident last year (Y2K) located in the Darby/Hamilton, MT. areas. The reason for my search is to inquire about and hopefully get some photos of PROTEUS. About now you may be asking what the heck is PROTEUS? Well it is a new (next generation Dragon Wagon?) high tech multiple use fire njine that was built by Rough Terrain Technologies Group of Missoula, MT. last year, and quickly placed into service for (68 days) @ the Valley Complex Incident. It cost $350K and is named the Fire master. (Proteus) is the nickname given to it by the crews who worked w/it.

Some of the basic info in the current issue (August 2K1) of Popular Mechanics, page 24, list it as a self-contained firetruck capable of traveling far off road. It has a 3600+ gallon water tank, telescopic suction hose, fire suppression nozzle, telescopic boom w/grapple claw & saw, Dozer blade, double liner wheels, and inlet/outlet connections. No mention if it has back fire capabilities.

If you were involved w/the manufacture of this unit or were assigned to work w/it in Montana, would you please provide more detail on the unit and provide some photos if you have any. I tried researching the mfg.. w/out any luck. It could very well be a sub unit of the FS Technology Development Center in Missoula.


07/01 Hi All,

Last week 1fsga gave cudos to the hotshots on the Martis fire. Here's an online article (came out last week) on the Silver State Hotshots on the Martis. Some nice small photos go along with the text. (I also saw a mention of the Roosevelt ihc in another article. They're a new crew, aren't they?)

Dana, I'm trying to find a ballpark estimate of the percentage of new jobs filled on the way to reaching MEL (most efficient level). If you remember, it was clear early-on in the planning stage (at least in R5) that we couldn't reach MEL in a one year period. A 3 year plan was devised. The buildup required to get the fire force back to optimal was just too massive, both in terms of the people and the resources (barracks, engines, etc) needed. That's what happens when some people are RIFed and others go to other agencies or into other fields entirely over a 10-15 year period. At the national level, our country is not very good at planning ahead.

IMO, the planning done by the R5 Fire managers is another thing. Totally awesome! Ray and our mathematically-gifted Gary and the FMOs who make up the R5-BOD do such a good job. The fire men and women from the forests who number crunch below them do such a good job. The fire folks working on the hiring with a less-than-perfect, new and untried system also do such a good job.

One major problem that still exists is the rake-off of money designated for fire by non-fire forest management. As Joe Cruz was leaving last Dec, he told me that such rakeoffs shouldn't be more than 20% all the way down the food chain. It's way more than that. Hopefully Congress will require an ASSESSMENT and the truth will out. When Congress allocated money to beef up fire forces, I don't think they meant it should go to newly-hired desk-sitters whose job it is to track the expenditure of those moneys! The American people thought they were buying firefighters! Fire has a computerized accounting system in place now that tracks income and expenditures of fire moneys perfectly well and has demonstrated its accountability. The rake-off sounds to me like bureaucratic mismanagement of funds and the non-fire FS should be called to task for that. We need some accountability from those folks.

AL, I like the new white vehicles (with green stripe). They cost about $1000 less apice than the green and will probably bring more money on resale when their usefullness is past. Studies were done about 10 yr ago on car color and safety: Red and white were involved in significantly fewer accidents than other color vehicles. My guess is that white is easier to see in the smoke. (Studies anyone?) I think the willingness of FS Fire to change (economize, look to new systems of training ff and fighting fire, use of new technology) and its demonstration of accountability does indicate the emergence of a new era. Here's to it!

Be safe out there all you groundpounders!
Watch over the young'uns carefully all you sups!
I love you guys!

PS. Some personal catch-ups:
BC, I'm gonna be heading back to your old fire grounds in a few weeks. Want me to bring ya anything?
Hi Eric! Now watch yourself, ya hear!
Still Watching, I know it's a busy time for you, but you always had such good insights. Write in. We miss you!
DM, are you sure you don't have a copy of that old movie they were looking for? Not holding out on us, are you? I liked your Whitetail fire photos and comments.
Hickman, your wildland fire clipart selection is really great and much needed!
WP, glad you're having fun.
Thanks to all the people sending in fire photos and logos. I sure enjoy them.
Hi FOBSIF! Hi LL! -- don't run those new kids ragged! <smooch> <hugs all around>

07/01 I will be working on a handcrew this summer and was wondering if it would be better to get ventilated goggles ESS wildland technical strike team CF model or the non-ventilated ESS wildland technical strike team XTO SJ model? Any ideas?

Thanks. - Lorraine

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