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08/31 Ab and All,

Now there's a fire near Hyampom CA, a smaller historical mining and logging town WSW of Weaverville -about 30 mi as the crow flies, further by road. Has maybe 1000-1500 people and there's a 300+ acre raging fire on the north side of town. Conditions are similar to those at Weaverville and over much of NorCal. Remember Folks, the Big Bar and the Kirk both started in late August and burned until Nov. The season's not over until it's over.

Be Safe, All,
NorCal Tom

08/31 Dear SoCal Capt:

I’m going to try to avoid another CDF versus Forest Service shouting match here by pointing out a problem that I think requires the attention of both our organizations. I have just completed a twenty-day tour of various fires here in California. I was struck by the number of local government folks filling command roles on both the Forest Service and CDFfires.

While many of these folks appeared to be dedicated to the job, an overwhelming majority did not have a clue about nuts and bolts wildland fire fighting. I saw forest agency engines sidelined while local government type 2 engines pulled assignments on uncontained fire lines. I saw Branch Directors from mainly volunteer fire departments try to direct forest agency personnel in handline location and firing operations. I do not think one of the individuals I encountered understood the versatility of a Forest Service or CDF engine strike team (i.e. firing or handline construction). Resource misuse was rampant and the potential for an accident, or at least additional resource loss was very real.

We in CDF are dealing with the retirement of over 400 experienced employees in the next several years. You with the Forest Service are facing the inexperience that MEL has brought you. Why than are we training local government to do our job when we have so many of our own that need the experience? Worse yet, we are placing our inexperienced personnel in the hands of those who have no experience themselves. It takes years on the job to understand fire behavior and even more years to balance that knowledge with resource application. Now it seems that a classroom, a task book and a team assignment is all that is required to place anyone in the drivers seat.

Once upon a time, when a fire occurred in the wildland, the District Ranger became the IC, the FMO (or in CDF’s case the Assistant Ranger) became the operations, and everyone from the dispatcher to the warehouseman filled out the fire’s logistic and planning needs. These people knew fire control in their area and also knew the capabilities of their resources. The fires went out, without political teams, just as they do today. Seems to me there was also a rule about fighting fire in country that you weren’t familiar with as well.

So in closing, SoCal Capt., I think there is a more pressing problem then who has had I-520 and who hasn’t. I think we need to ask ourselves who is training our own agencies next generation. If we don’t make some changes, there may not be anymore CDF or USFS teams in R-5.


08/31 Some Questions for SAMMI:
  • What are the research priorities at MTDC (Missoula Technical and Development Center and/or other fire research facilities)? Scientists must have a rationale for the science they do, if for no other reason than to apply for and receive funding.
  • How are the priorities determined? There usually is a more or less scientific way of prioritizing. By thinktank (brainstorming by experts with their own research expertise)? By focus groups (of whom)? By poll (of whom)? By priority of cause of injury or death of firefighters? By public opinion? Some combination? (I don't mean to offend by saying death, just need to be real here.)
  • Where does the fire shelter rank in the stack of maybe 15 or 20 most important research areas?
    • Was it even included in the researchable list to be prioritized?
    • If it's not first priority, what's ahead of it?
    • Looking at the research trend (or maybe just out of curiosity), where has the shelter ranked in the past, say in 1980 or '85? Is it closer to the top today?
  • Given its current priority or ranking (which we must assume is not number ONE), what is different today than a year ago (or 15 years ago) that might suggest it should move up?

If the fireshelter is considered the top priority or even the second priority, scientists working on it can test it and get it out in record time, much faster than is currently projected. I am convinced of this. We have some smart dudes working for us. Maybe we need to make a case for moving the fireshelter to top priority.


08/31 Fireronin

They may not even hold the firefighters responsible. Just another case of management lip service. How about keeping qualified experienced people home doing project work, while there is a critical shortage of these trained experienced people? If a firefighter is hurt or killed because of a shortage of trained experienced people, I will hold the Chief of the Forest Service and his equals in the Department of Interior RESPONSIBLE!


08/31 WA FF,

Although an earlier post to this site indicated that the investigation of the 30 mile fire would be out around Labor Day if you look carefully at the cited quote it said that it would be out AFTER Labor Day. Don't hold your breath. Call me cynic but I bet no one will be held responsible but the Firefighters themselves and no mention will be made of inadequate or antiquated fireshelters.


08/31 Isn't the ThirtyMile Investigation supposed to be out by Labor Day? Anybody know the status of that document?

WA Firefighter

08/31 Here's the first news report I could find. There's not much info on it. It's sad news and our prayers go out to the friends and families of these brave folks.



Thanks for the link. Sad indeed. Ab.

More from Firescribe (who searched on Excite on wlf.com's Links Page-News


08/31 Just received word (11:00AM MDT) that a helicopter crash occured on the Fridley Fire in the Gallatin National Forest in Montana. 3 occupants of the helicopter were killed. Details are very sketchy, but our crews have confirmed the crash and the deaths.

Scott Peterson, Rough Terrain Technologies Group
Proteus Fire Master

This has been confirmed. Ab.

08/31 Did the MEA raise to 37 when the retirement age was changed to 57?



08/31 I updated Wildland Firefighter Jobs Series 462 and Series 455. No new postings have come in for the Jobs page, but check out what's there. The Mendocino NF still needs folks. Ab.

Here's one to pose during the TV interview: If you are a firefighter or the relative of a firefighter, how much testing is enough testing for a new shelter design? If the government is providing flame-resistant clothing and fire shelters for your son or daughter, how rigorous do you think the testing should be?


08/31 This in from Firescribe:


<haw><haw> Funny if it weren't so serious. So I guess the Grizzlies aren't attracted to dirty sox, just food... (You might have to read familysaid to get the context of that one.) Ab.

08/31 The New York Times had a very interesting editorial yesterday, entitled "Playing with Fire", in which the author discussed the Administration's change in attitude toward management of the forest - including fuel reduction. Ab, I don't think you can link to it directly, but I wish you could. It's interesting.

Fire Ecologist

08/31 As you see if you read familysaid, I was contacted by a reporter from a TV station in Spokane to do an interview or to help with people who'd be willing to do an interview about the issues with fireshelters.

From a personal point of view I have no problem with doing it or coordinating, but I feel it would be important to have some data, percentages and other information I just do not have, in case the interviewers ask for some of those statistics.

Ab has offered to forward any answers to me personally as I gather some useful information. Before I offer a list of questions I might need answers to.....how abt some suggestions from you about information you would like to have presented in an interview. And anyone that would be willing to participate, please step forward. I think a mom voicing her opinion from a personal point of view is fine, but I think we also need people who know the nitty gritty on the subject ready to help.....so step forward here folks.....if not to do the interview, at least to help me gather the info to present......

thx Sammi

I'd be happy to cut and paste responses to Sammi to keep people's identity anonymous if you like. Just instruct me to "forward" or to "cut and paste". Ab.

08/31 Right on TCH!!!...

Its time someone spoke out regarding the CDF teams "being" type 1 incident management teams. They are NOT TYPE 1 Teams and should not be shown as so on the SIT report. Type 1 teams are federally organized, interagency teams with a vast amount of wildland experience throughout the United States and abroad. If CDF wants to have Type 1 teams, then they have to meet all of the quals and not flex their muscle with the NWCG and NIFC. The California (CDF) teams are localized and do not have the national experience as type 1 teams do. They have not completed S-520 (and many related classes) nor do they have the predetermined staff assigned functions of a type 1 team. Many of their positions are filled on RANK and not on experience. They do not meet the national MOB guide requirements. They should be classed as local teams (type 2). No other state shows their teams as such. CDF uses 310-1 for qualifications with the exception of training assignments and a few classes. Once you take the class, you are qualified.

In fact, most CDF teams would qualify for type 3 (extended attack) teams, as they do not fill most of the positions that Federal, Interagency Type 1 and 2 teams fill on incidents. Most of the CDF teams positions are filled locally.

One last point, with CDF teams presenting themselves as TYPE 1, the experience in type 2 teams is moot. During the Cerro Grande Fire (Los Alamos NM), a type 2 team took over suppression and instituted the first wide-scale rehab effort from a team. This effort involved suppression and a wide scale volunteer, contractor, and employee effort. But at the yearly California team meetings, the type 2 team was bypassed in their presentation by a CDF team presenting a LARGE GRASS FIRE (somewhere around a thousand acres or two) in Northern California. How complex is a large grass fire compared to a large timber, interface fire with national considerations involving thousands of employees and volunteers.

I know this is going to be a stir, but its time it is addressed and what the hey... we need to get our minds off of a few things that have happened recently....

SoCal Capt

08/31 Amber:

The name of the movie was "In the Line of Duty: Smokejumpers".


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v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^ Later this evening it's time for a little FIRECHAT PARTY in honor of a wildlandfire.com milestone. Today at 1526 PDT, we reached the 100,000th unique hit on the site this month - the first time 100,000 people have visited in a one month period. We Abs want to thank all members of the community for making this place a true meeting place of the wildland firefighters of the world!
08/30 Hello,

I am wondering if you could give me the name of the movie that was created from the storm king fire. Last week, we turned on the t.v., only to catch the VERY end of it, and we had no idea what the name of it was. We would really like to have a copy of it, but we have no idea what the name of it was. It was aired on USA, if that helps at all. My husband is a wildland firefighter, and grew up in the Bend/Redmond, Oregon area. I went to school with Levi Brinkley, and so we'd like to have this movie to share the memories. Thank you for your time.


08/30 Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of the two pilots. While they were not officially employees of a public agency, they were members of the family of wildland firefighters.....and they deserve our respect and to be carried in our memories.

Thanks to Deeply Concerned for sharing the BJA fact sheet regarding Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program. I was unfamiliar with it, and read it several times, then used my computer to search for "contract" or "contractor" hoping there might be some application......but to no avail.

I believe Vinnie is right when he states that the government does not provide benefits to contractors, that those who choose to work through that medium need to provide (or make sure their employer provides) that coverage. I hope such was the case for these two brave souls.

Question for our contract wizards who may visit this site: I note on equipment rental agreements, clauses that will have the agency pay for damages to contracted equipment beyond normal wear and tear.

  1. Could a clause be included in contracts to provide death/injury benefits?
  2. Could a clause be included that mandated that contract bidders must provide death/injury benefits?

It is unreal to think that firefighters will not perish in the future. It is not unreal to take action that will provide for financial assistance to their loved ones. Let's work for that.

Old Fire Guy

08/30 Ab,

Given the current discussion, would you provide this link to a widow's message on the air tanker message board.

Children of pilots killed in the line of duty ought to at least get to go to college for free same as if they were children of CDFers killed in the line of duty or vets injured or killed while serving our country.


Robbie (sister of a hot shot)

08/30 There was a question a few days ago about the California Teams showing up on the Sit report.

There are 3 sets of incident management teams in California.

  • There are the National Type 1 Teams, called Interagency Incident Management Teams, 5 of them (Gage, Vail, Raley, Gelobter, Studebaker). They are primarily federal land management agency personnel with some local government personnel.
  • Then there are the Type 2 teams. There are five or six of these and again they are federal and local government personnel. The difference in the teams is mostly the S-520 exercise and experience.
  • Then there are the CDF Teams. Largely CDF personnel and a few local government trainees now, there are 5 North and 5 South. The South IC's include Ristow, Lombardo, Sappok, and North IC's include Stovall and Walters. (I don't know them all). CDF considers them to be Type 1 and has demanded that they be listed as such on the Sit Report but they do not have S-520 and are short teams, meant to come to an incident and use local talent on the Divisions and Branches.
Maybe someday we can all learn to play together and have 5 Type 1 and 5 type 2 TRULY interagency teams.


08/30 This came in from AZ Trailblazer:
You may remember that C-Span decided to produce a program about wildland fire management highlighting the National Interagency Fire Center, and an actual fire, the Green Knoll Fire on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The producer and videographer, Richard and Bob, spent a day at NIFC filming operations and nearly two days on the fire. All told the crew filmed 10 hours of action, tours, interviews, and briefings.

The C-Span program will run Monday evening, September 3 (Labor Day) from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. eastern standard time. Larry Hamilton, BLM fire director, and Dennis Pendleton, FS fire director, will travel to Washington to be in-studio with the program's host. The show will include about two-thirds video (about 2 1/2 hours worth) from the NIFC and Green Knoll fire takes, and one-third live question and answer from phone-in callers. Green Knoll IC Joe Carvelho will also call in for about one hour. There will be 21 "vignettes" (6 from NIFC and 15 from the fire) or short video tours, stories or interviews. Again, these will be followed by explanation from Larry, Dennis and Joe.

Please notify anyone you know of who is interested or was involved in the program's development. If you have any questions about the program, please contact Nancy Lull at 208.387.5508.

Thank you to all who helped facilitate their work, and to those who provided interviews and information.

Nancy Lull, External Affairs
BLM, Office of Fire and Aviation
National Interagency Fire Center

08/30 Mellie,

Just a quick note re ATGS before I run out the door... my shot at providing an understanding through analogy.

You know how it is on firechat when 11 or so people are online at once. Comments from different people, threads understandable in context but might otherwise seem confusing? Participants have to be quick at filling in the gaps... and someone leaves for a moment to check the SIT and you loose track of em briefly? We can all laugh at the confusion that arises there. It adds to the fun and hysterical mix.

Well, the ATGS has a similar situation with listening to a lotta folks at once on one frequency and occasionally having to change freqs to communicate with the ground. It can get confusing... sometimes a serious circus with multiple acts. You can loose track... In the air, all involved know they must do their part in staying aware and communicating. So, the ATGS isn't like an air traffic controller exactly, but does supervise the airshow. At the same time, all who fly also have to do their parts at communicating and watching out (amid smoke and fireweather). Communication can be hairy at times... and the consequences of failure in awareness and/or communication are life threatening.

The investigation will sort it out. The possibilites as to why it happended are many.

08/30 Hi all, here's a comment made to strike fear into your heart, yes it really happened

Scenario: Urban interface wildland fire, 2 hoses with 2 FF on each extended out 300 feet per hose, engine down to 1/4 full, Police Dept at scene doing traffic duties,

Question: Engineer asked if he wants 2 lengths of hose pulled over to the hydrant.
Answer: "No because it would block the road and upset the residents"
Result: 4 firefighters running back to the engine after dropping the now dry hoses.

Thank goodness we don't deal with that crew much, wonder how many times they have to deploy their shelters??


08/30 Just a Quick note to express my deep condolences to the families of the air tanker pilots involved in the Hopland Fire tragedy. I am always shocked when I find out that our respective wildland fire fighting agencies have so many loop holes denying compensation for injuries suffered while performing our duties. I wanted to pass on to interested folks that perhaps the Public Safety Officers Benefits Program (PSOB) Act (42 U.S.C. 3796, et seq.) might be of use in this situation, as well as others (situations involving catastrophic injuries or death related to emergency operations) with similar circumstances. Ab, I'm not sure how you might post the PSOB Act, but I've included it as an attachment. Thank you for such a great web venue to express, and read about firefighting opinion.

Deeply Concerned.

I've put the PSOB Act on our site the way it came in, as a pdf file. To open it requires Adobe Acrobat (free software - you can find a link for acrobat at the NIFC site). Thanks for sending in the PSOB. Ab.

08/30 A special Thanks to the Air tanker Pilots and the Helo Pilots

It sure is a nice warm fuzzy feeling when you know these guys are around to try and drop stuff on your head. It's kind a like having a guardian angle with a giant water gun. On fires we get to see the other folks, dozer dudes, engine slugs, hand crew folks, and water tender guys, etc. We get to give them a hard time for being who they are and the good job that they do. In other words we get to say thanks and see faces and learn names and have a working relationship.

That usually isn't the case with pilots and the air crews, they are out there and they certainly are part of the firefighting team, but you rarely get to meet them and interact with them like you do all the other fire junkies. I just want to take the time to thank the pilots and air crews who support us. Not just the Pilots, although they are the giant nozzle where the wet stuff comes from, but the mechanics and retardant loaders and dispatchers and all the other people you don't see that get they noisy, nasty, smelly, life saving firefighting machines in the air and to the fires to help all of us on the ground.

It's too bad you guys can't hang out with us sometimes cause if you were with my group you wouldn't have to buy any drinks. Thanks for you help, sometimes you folks are a REAL LIFESAVER! Everybody be safe out there Mr. Fire hasn't taken his winter vacation just yet.

08/30 Mellie and peterpan;

Yes, congress and our government and the State of California say Lars and Larry were only pilots, contractors, not Firefighters. You and I, and Lars wife Terri, and their two boys, might argue that, but there ain't no Federal or State Firefighter death benefits here. Is it wrong, YES. Is it a major disgrace, YES. Will it change, ........only when you and I and all those folks out there like us who pray the tankers will come to help us, stand up, write our legislative representatives, and demand justice.

Condit's got the media tied in knots, but look at what the media's saying about these folk, "Aerial Firefighting Pilots die...." "Firefighters killed in a mid air collision ......." Why in Gods name doesn't that apply with regards to the Firefighters death benefit ? Lars was a good man, Larry as well, each would give you the shirt off his back or fly into the eye of the DRAGON if they thought it would help you and I. Why can't OUR government see that ? I don't know. Can't say POLITICS cause these folks serve the politicians. The tankers are a favorite backdrop for the rich and powerful. Can't say expense when we're spending Trillion$ on defense and such and we're asking for a measly $50,000 for each of these folks. Really for their families. Can't say fairness cause Lars and Larry died for us, and the folks of California, .....taken care of THEIR families is fair. Abandoning them like lepers or grafters or whatever isn't.

Airtanker crews are the bastard children of the fire service. Federal, State, and provincial. Yet without them, you and I would be bare naked when the wind blows or changes, or humidity drops and the the spots start taken, or the Division makes a mistake.

I'm sending my Fire money, $100 a piece, to Associated Airtanker Pilots for two guys who were my brothers, AND their families, MY family, cause the government can't see its way clear to honor hero's. I'm sending it to the

Associated Airtanker Pilots "Memorial Fund" in memory of Larry Groff and Lars Stratte
C/O Newhart Bookkeeping
711D Healdsburg Ave.
Healdsburg, CA 95488

To do what's right.

I know whats right.

And so do all of you.

Sign me "Northern Michael"

Thanks Ab. Lars was a good friend to me and to Fire fighters. Many times he flew the Plumas. His wife and children shouldn't suffer like this.

08/30 Anyone who contracts with the federal government does not qualify for any benefits. Does not matter if you are on an engine, a pilot, or wash cars.

Contractors better have some good insurance or no bennies.


08/30 In response to recent posts: Oobviously PP, you've done your homework. Congrats and TY for sharing your comments. Methinks contract CDF pilots should insist on the same SCIF blanket coverage for workers' comp ins that is available for disaster service worker volunteers and the SAR teams. (If my bosses read this, I'm history.)

As you so aptly stated: indeed, this latest tragedy should have been avoided; and yes, the general public has no idea about wildland firefighting. Yes, the media is "getting educated" FINALLY (some even report on the difference between containment & control), but the focus remains misdirected.

I've read some excellent posts in "they said" - the posts raise the conscientiousness of all readers. OldR5 guy, Melly & PPthe engine slug, your posts have merit!

TO ALL ON THE FIRE SCENE: BE SAFE! one foot in the black & a sharp eye out for the sneaky dangers.

old&grey in R5

08/30 Mellie,

Wondered if anyone else was looking past the press hype of catching the person that started the fire the AT pilots were killed on. A rookie lawyer will get this guy off without a whole lot of effort. They will cop a plea for a reduced sentence by:
1) Admitting he manufactured Meth.
2) He accidently started the fire.

Then the lawyer will attack the CDF for violating their own, or some federal aviation rules, and he's "Got'em". There had to be some violation of some basic rules, otherwise both planes would not have been occupying the same airspace at the same time. I am afraid by the time this is all said and done, it's is going to be turned back on CDF and/or the pilots. I hate to see this, but don't be surprised if it happens. If it had been a deliberate arson start it might have been hard to get this guy a reduced sentence, but so far I have not heard the arson word used on the news.

Too bad the "Slime Ball" could not get the chair just for making Meth!! Wonder how many people he has killed with that crap and he doen't even know it. Come to think of it, he can now add two more to his list. If he had not been manufacturing Meth, he would not have started the fire. For those of you in wildland fire that may think drugs, including pot, is a victimless crime; maybe this will make you reevaluate your thought process.


08/30 hi,

The FEMA grant actually totals $100 million this year. FEMA has asked for another $100M for next year. 19,700 departments made about 30,000 requests (you could make 2 requests) for a total of $2.98 billion. So far they have awarded 49.5 M. The awards are announced on Mondays.

We just got a letter from FEMA saying our second request (a truck to replace a type 6 brush) was not funded. Our first request (pumps) is pending.

More info at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/grants
r vfd

08/30 at approx 1200 hrs, there is a nice delta breeze making it's way into the valley from the SF bay area (bringing their smog), it promises cooler temps and lower humidity to the central Sierra region.

Be safe out there!

08/29 hi all,

I think its okay for now that law enforcement is focusing on nailing the person who started the Hopland fire. The media is simply reporting that as news and as a dramatic background to memorializing the dead pilots as heroes, which they are. In this case I have faith the true causes of this tragedy will be found and organizational steps will be taken to try and ensure it does not happen again. The FAA/NTSB investigation team will be quietly going about its business. There are many other players in this tragedy-- but none of them have influence over the crash investigators. That's a different situation from the can of worms that a burnover tragedy used to be when the agencies implicated were essentially investigating themselves.

There must be some CDF folks in some terrible agony and suffering now. I read in the paper today that the collision happened directly above one BC. He had eye contact with a pilot he knew personally as the man's plane went straight into the ground a hundred feet away. Whover erred, it was an accident. Good people make mistakes when they are hot and tired, when they are blinded by smoke or the sun, when for just a moment their skill level is exceeded by accumulated exhaustion, when there are too many things to do, too many things to think about, and too many things in motion, in a fatal unforgiving few minutes of time. Its a sad and tragic learning cue, for everybody, whatever that lesson turns out to be.

KGO talk radio devoted several hours to the crash yesterday. I was pleased by the emotion expressed by civilians who called in from their cell phones. They know nothing about wildland fire, but they've seen the planes fly over and they can understand a simple concept such as, those guys are our heroes and let's hang the drug dealer. The gnashing of teeth and finger pointing that is frequently a part of this wildland fire subculture will be lost on the public, as well it should be, cuz what does the public care about the devil's details? To paraphrase Carl Jung: understanding and imagination are fired by things that resonate in the realm of myths, dreams, and symbols. To the public its all about the emotions, rather than the fireline handbook. Those of you who can remember, think back to what has changed since the turning point of the South Canyon tragedy. Groundpounders are no longer regarded by the general public as a cadre of idiots leading the unskilled, doing a filthy job that only a fool could love. Congress suddenly is supportive. The four who died at 30 mile got a huge State funeral with a parade and millions mourned their loss. Now the crash of some tanker guys aren't annonymous casualties buried on a back page of a regional paper like in times past, but a major news story that is instructing the whole nation about the role of air tankers in wildfire-- and the poignant sacrifices made by dedicated pilots and their families. The public and the media today want to love a wildland firefighter whether on the ground or in the air, no matter what logo is afixed to the side of the rig, what color nomex they wear, or who the legal employer is. The worm, as they say, has turned. Despite all their blundering, the media is finally starting to want to get the story straight and the public is beginning to really care. And I think that's just great.

Who do the pilots work for? During the last 25 years, in a narrow and somewhat triangular slice of airspace-- from the Sonoma Air attack Base over to Ukiah and from there over to Cow Mountain--five air tankers have been lost. I think its five. All were contract employees. In the case of the Sis-Q B-17 pilot who was killed (in 1976?) workers compensation was provided by State Comp Insurance Fund. They refused to pay survivor's benefits to his widow and unborn child because the couple were "just living together" and not legally married. She sued them.

CDF was also sued, unsuccessfully, by both her and State Comp. They tried to argue that the pilot's job as an emergency responder should have been covered by the same Employee benefits as permanent CDF people. The suits and counter suits dragged on, I think, for almost eight years. CDF, as in similar cases, was judged to have no liability at all. So, the question of who these pilots work for is now by precedent a separate matter from what they do-- or even how we feel about what they do. Legally speaking, they don't work for CDF, and their employee status is similar to transportation company bus drivers who ferry crews to fires. And we seem to become indignant about it only when they die.

As with other politically driven processes the State Legislature will bring contract tanker pilots into the CDF fold if and when public opinion, elections, and budgetary allocations come into alignment to make that possible. Can anybody with real knowledge speak to the question of whether the contract pilots would prefer to be agency employees or not?

--Peter Pan (AKA Camp Slug)

08/29 I do not pretend to know all the details of the FEMA grants, but I will share what info I do have. The money (over $1 billion) was appropriated by Congress after the terrible fire season last summer. There was an application process, but the deadlines were months ago. The total amount requested was more than twice the amount of money that they had to give away. There were different categories (PPE, training, equipment, trucks, communication, etc.) and I think you could apply for up to three categories. We applied for two and are still waiting to hear if we got any money for new communication equipment. They have been making announcements weekly about which departments are getting grants.

I do not know if there are additional rounds of grants, or if this was just a one time thing. It sure was a blessing to our small department.

By the way, I loved the historic smokejumper pictures. My dad was a smokejumper in the mid-50s.

Take care & Adios, CJD
Carol, VFD FF

08/29 Here are some internet links to stories about the fires in norCAL from Firescribe that were prompted by R5Mom:


And a few more links to tributes to
Larry Groff www.pressdemocrat.com/local/news/29pilots_a1.phpl and
Lars Stratte www.redding.com/top_stories/local/20010829toplo008.shtml

08/29 Hi All, Mellie here again.

Between the fire in Weaverville and the AT pilots' deaths, I spent a restless night. I have a hard question to ask. Regardless of how the fire in the Hopland area started, is it not the responsibility of the ATGS to coordinate the overhead (air) operations? I realize that an investigation is underway, but it disturbs me greatly that the media is focused on how the fire was started and by whom. That's starting to feel like a smoke screen to deflect negative public opinion. To learn from this, we must discover how two air tankers could have been in such close proximity to begin with. Yes, I know there was smoke and I know from driving hwy 101 every other weekend for a few years that the evening sun can be blinding... But when such conditions exist, I pull over to adjust my visor or my sunglasses, I don't just keep driving blindly.

As I understood it from my FFI class when Steve Hubbard instructed us, the ATGS is the IC of the air ops. It is their responsibility to provide a safe 3-D workspace. On this fire, I heard the ATGS had 7-9 air tankers and a number of helos to coordinate. Don't the non-active ATs orbit away from the main fire to be called in on the same "salad bowl" flight path to dump their load and move on, leaving room (at least 500 feet of separation) for the next or for a helo drop? I'm just wondering what happened here? Mis-communication? Too much to coordinate? A pattern that was too tight? I know we need time for the investigative process to work, but please, those in charge should make it absolutely clear to the media that the CDF and NTSB powers-that-be are doing more than just focusing on those who started the fire. The fire community and AT families should be receiving more reassurance that the real cause of this mid-air collision will be determined, even if someone's butt is on the line and/or some agency looks worse than sterling. We have some serious lessons to learn here. This better not just be a case of "blame the firestarters", "high risk profession" and "pilot error".

One other thing, both of these fine men had children, Larry has a step-son and two grown daughters and Lars has two sons, if I recall correctly. Is it true they will not receive benefits that other CDFer's families receive (whose breadwinners die in the line of duty) - because their dads "just contracted" for CDF? Please, someone, tell me that this info is incorrect. Such a policy seems absolutely WRONG to me! As fire professionals, we should be taking care of families of our own.


08/29 P. Huntington,
Donations made in Larry's name be sent to AAP's memorial fund. Haven't heard yet about donations made in Lars name. Associated Airtanker Pilots "Memorial Fund"
In Memory of Larry Groff
C/O Newhart Bookkeeping
711D Healdsburg Ave.
Healdsburg, CA 95488


08/29 Jeremy:

The eastern region (R9) of the Forest Servie is in the process of developing a Hot Shot crew. The base for this crew is not in Michigan, but at Midewin Tall Grass Prairie just west of Chicago. The crew is currently classified as a type 2 crew. With experience (and when they meet established standards) they will become a type 1 crew and eventually a Hot Shot crew......probably take 3 years to reach that status. At this moment the crew is on its first assignment in R6. The last I heard they were still in need of crew members and hoping to get a full time superintendent and foremen. Currently they have excellent leadership on loan from R8.

Old Fire Guy

08/28 1915 PDT: There's a fairly large fire (500+ acres) in rugged, extremely dry NorCal, near Weaverville, CA, the county seat for Trinity Co. The fire started at 1430 near the Oregon Mt Summit along Hwy 299 and has been pushed east and now downhill by northwesterly winds that have become stronger (gusting to 24 mph) this evening and are expected to persist until midnight. There is spotting up to 1/4 mi away. Trinity County Hospital, the jail, the houses in the Kelso subdivision have been evacuated. There are about 150 people working on the fire which is under CDF jurisdiction. Line is being built on the flanks and the fire is about 5% contained, but crews have been pulled off the flanks numerous times this afternoon to move to the head to protect structures.

As we had our little bitty rain last week, I wanted to remind people that a little rain doesn't wet down the 100 and 1000 hour fuels. A few days of heat and drying breezes take us right back into dangerous conditions. Please be careful my dear friends. Not even a house is worth a life.

Condolences to the family and friends of the lost pilots. I have heard that they were truely fine human beings, loving and living life to the fullest and a real help to friends in need. They will be missed.

And to my friends on Carlson's Team on the Star Fire, "Ya'll be careful down in that Hells Hole area, ya'hear! It didn't get that name for nothin'!"

ALL of you now, listen to me -- Mind your fire behavior and safety training! Take nothing for granted, even mopup. Be safe.

Update at 2100: With erratic winds, the fire has jumped to 1000+ acres. Structures in Weaverville have burned. No one has been injured. Wow, be careful!!!

Update at 2300: Fire is currently 1300+ acres, has 2 heads, ugly. Smoky, smoky. Weaverville (population 3000) is being manditorally evacuated. About half the town has left. Most of the structures are antique wood, vulnerable to fire, and 12+ have burned. The good news is that the wind has dropped. The goal tonight is to save the town. More than 400 ff are fighting fire now. Thanks you all!! Sunrise is expected to bring high winds. But air support will be available. Thanks in advance. Hwy 299 and Hwy 3 are closed. Please BE SAFE!

Update 08/29 at 0600: 1948 acres burned 9 homes, 3 mobile homes, no power, telephone lines are down, schools closed. 1200+ ff are fighting the fire. Thanks guys and thanks for the air support! Winds are down but expected to kick back in on Thurs.

08/28 The Jobs page, Series 462 and Series 455 pages are updated. Ab.
08/28 I just read of the two pilots killed in the mid air collision, my heart felt condolence to the family, friends and co workers. If someone/organization has begun a monitary collection for the families, I would like to participate, please advise. Thank you for your time and please keep safe.

P. Huntington

08/28 To the TheySaid Board at Wildandfire.com,

I was wondering if you had any information about a type I crew being formed in Michigan or in that Region. I've had no luck finding information about it on other sites. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

P.S. Someone recommended to me that I direct my question to "Old Fire Guy". That he might know something too.

08/28 A MUST-SEE TV Program:

I saw a program note on CSPAN, on Labor Day, starting 6pm PACIFIC TIME, they will be holding a three hour LIVE show from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. There will be a tour of the center and viewers will be able to call in with questions, etc.


Danny, can you tape it so we can pass it around later to those who are still on the fireline on Labor Day? Ab.

08/28 mt:

It's too bad you received different direction from the various teams. I am on Walker's Team and I thought our instruction to the Check-In Recorders was very clear.

Our interpretation was similar to Carvelho's Type I team's interpretation. The policy says the first day counted toward your 14 day assignment is the initial check-in date of your current fire assignment. Carvelho's and Walker's team consistently agreed that because you may check-in very late in the day, you could lose a day of "work" because your check-in date and time was too late to put you out on the line. So we agreed that the initial date you worked was more appropriate.

As far as travel goes, this is what the Check-in Recorders were instructed for travel...

  • When counting 14 days: Travel to the fire from the home unit and travel from from the fire to the home unit DOES NOT COUNT. Travel between assignments DOES COUNT.
  • When counting 21 days (after an extension is formally requested): All days, INCLUDING TRAVEL COUNTS toward the 21 days.

So, when you're requesting an extension from 14 to 21 days, you really only get about 3-4 more days of work from that resource.

Here are some problems that I see that contribute to the inconsistency in implementing this policy...

  1. The ICS-211 Check-In forms do not include a block to record your initial check-in/work date because they have not been updated since the policy was implemented. The check-in date and time may NOT be the initial check-in date. It's just the date the resource checked in at that particular incident.
  2. The Status Check-In Recorder position is a CRITICAL position when you consider the information they are required to record. Yet these positions are qualified through "self study" guides, and more often than not, the people performing this job have never done it before. (That was the case on the Highway Fire. Although, I want to say the individuals performing this job were extremely conscientious and did they best they could with no training other than the OJT they got on the fire...)
  3. We have talked a great deal about the loss of firefighters in suppression, but support (also known as militia) personnel are not available to serve in these critical positions, regardless of the qualification prerequisites.
Believe me, I understand your frustration. We have been experiencing this frustration for many years.

Thank you for listening to my explanation. I'm not making excuses. I just wanted to present "the other side" of the story...

Take care and be safe!!!


08/28 It is with a heavy heart that I let all you fellow firefighters know of yet more deaths this fire season. Yesterday at the Ukiah air attack base two air tankers were involved in a midair collision. There were no survivors. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of these brave men who do some damn fine work. I will update you folks as to the names of the pilots.

There is one person in custody at this time and there is talk of charging them with murder.

The link to the articles in the paper is www.presdemo.com Sadly yours.


The link I put up early last night has been updated as more info becomes available. The names of the pilots are there: www.thekcrachannel.com/sac/news/localnews/ Ab.

More from Firescribe:

08/28 Just recently returning from a 14 day assignment from the Modoc Blue fire, spent two days travel to the fire. After 10 days of night shift we were demobed, and reassigned to the Highway Fire in Seqouia (walkers Team) we were told our travel from the Modoc did not count toward our 14 days. The new directive states travel to an incident and from an incident and any travel inbetween does not count toward your 14 days. Yet the next day when a Type I team from the Northern Rockies takes over the fire, our travel between fires does count, but to find that 14 days is only worthy of 1 day of R & R.

And on the Blue Fire our 14 days started the day we checked in, on the Highway Fire it started the day we were on the fire line. It seems a difference of opinion can mean the difference of several days. What is the new directive, and why can't the Fire Teams working in Region 5 at least be in some kind of agreement? So if you travel 2 days to a incident and spend 10 days on the fire then get demobed to another incident spend 2 days travel there, spend 4 days there, plus 2 days travel home, you still have only 14 days on a fire, and 1 day R & R. How is this fair? Someone please enlighten me on the 14 day rule. And how does it improve the well being of everybody for the purpose of safety?


08/28 Tonites (8/27) news report about the fatalities in NZ CA is devistating. My CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILIES OF THE PILOTS, AND ALL IN THE WILDFIRE COMMUNITY. I believe I speak for all who were in the this chat room tonite. Heads up to those on the line, be safe out there!


08/28 Heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the two tanker pilots. A few sites to visit as we take a moment of silence in their honor... And let's also remember Doug Gilbert who died in July on the same day as the kids on the 30-mi fire.

Memorial page for all fallen pilots at the air tanker pilots website:
www.airtanker.com/aap/memorial.php Their names will be added at the bottom.

Memorial page on the S2 site:

08/27 Local TV news reports that 2 CDF air tankers collided mid-air near Ukiah - details are sketchy.
Ukiah news reporter states, CDF confirms pilots of both planes are fatalities. The tankers collided mid- air approx 1900 this eve. Please convey my sympathy to the families of those sky warriors who lost their lives today.


This has been confirmed by CDF and here: www.thekcrachannel.com/sac/news/localnews/ Our prayers are with the families. Ab.

08/27 FYI -

The photo you have posted under the "Wallpaper" section of your website, labelled "Idaho," was taken on the Clear Creek fire (in the Big Creek area), July 27, 2000. I believe the photographer was Kim Soper, FBAN for Joe Carvelho's Type 1 team. It was on a Zip disk he left behind when the next team (Bateman) came in; I was working with the FBAN on Bateman's team at the time. That was one of many of his photos I included in a fire behavior & weather CD compilation through Sept. for that fire. No problem with the photo being on the web site - the official disclaimer on the CD is similar to yours - "use the photos for training, education, research, personal enjoyment, etc.; just don't sell them or use them for profit."

Just wanted the photographer to get credit; he took some good pictures early on at Clear Creek. Glad to see some good photos out there from last year's season.

Kelly Close
Poudre Fire Authority

Excellent info Kelly. Thank you. Kim Soper did a terrific job with that photo. We have it on our main page as well. We knew it came from one of the Idaho fires in 2000. It's good to know it was the Clear Creek. On some photos that are from public domain collections, we are not provided with complete information. Readers, if any of you know the history or photographer behind any of the photos we post with incomplete info, please send it so we can fill it in on the description page. We want photographers to get the credit they diserve and we'd like to have as much info on each photo as possible. Ab.

08/27 Boise on Fire:

It looks like there is about a 200 acre grass fire south of the airport. We lost all power to our building, which shut down the phones and computers. NICC was on backup power, so they should be ok.


08/27 Hey -

Just wanted to pass on the link to the Virginia Lake Complex fires in Washington State. Don't know if you link from your site to specific fire web sites....




Thanks, Jennifer. Yes we do link to specific fire web sites. Readers, there are a couple of nice photographic galleries on this site. If you want to see where this complex is, take a look at the large fire map.

08/27 The Snowshoe fire on the Salmon-Challis blew up yesterday. Anyone have any current news on it? I could see it from my cabin 60 miles away.

In Stanley, Idaho

08/27 I recently read an article that stated "Forty hours of training is all that's required to get on the fire lines". Is forty hours really enough training? I'll try to explain my thought process on this subject. I have been a Forest Ranger in the State of Florida since 1994. Upon being selected as a Ranger, I was required to fulfill a local unit contract before I could even think about going on to further training. After the contract is complete, which by the way includes training in the use of Fire Shelters, you can then proceed with further training. As you progress, you attend First Responder, Structure Firefighting, and Wildland basic Fire Control training. In all you receive about 500 hours of training. After all that training, I still don't consider myself an expert in wildland firefighting. I have a lot of knowledge, but every fire is new to me and takes on it's own personality. I am just as weary and cautious on every fire as I was my first fire. I always plan for the worst fire behavior to happen.

I have had some wonderful mentors also. They are the ones who have taught me not to jump before looking at how far down it is if you fall. LCES is pounded into you during this entire process also. Safety for yourself and your co-workers is the most important thing you can do. I suppose that after all the training and mentoring I have had over the years, I just can't understand how 40 hours of training is enough. The State of Florida has a wonder training program and some excellent instructors. Some of the training here is open enrollment which means it is not restricted to Florida's employees only. It could be very beneficial if you want to check it out. www.fl-dof.com/FCWFRMT/index.phpl Classes and dates are listed. I just can't see how 40 hours is enough!!

As I read the family postings, I just sit back, read and realize what a wonderful group of people the firefighting family is. There are no arguments on who has the best crews, or best jobs. All you read on that site is the love and concern that Moms, Dad's, Brothers, Sisters, and Grandparents have for their families that are on the lines. As in the "Fire Shelter" issue currently at the forefront, the firefighters can voice their concerns but with the families taking action also we certainly have a better chance of someone taking action on capital hill. The old saying "It will take an act of congress" will most certainly be true in this situation. The families are right, get those e-mails, letters and phone calls happening and maybe we will see one of those "acts of congress". One writer wrote that if we can forgive debts owed to us from other countries, we could afford new fire shelters. How many fire shelters could have been purchased with the money we spent to bail out the mexican government?

I am very proud to be a member of the firefighting family. I am also very proud of the firefighters families. We are certainly all one, whether it be Federal, State, Private Timber Companies or Contractors. Please be safe out there and always take a good look around you and ahead of you. See ya on the line or on the "fire chat".


08/26 A couple of articles compliments of Firescribe who sez, "Check the wlf.com current news listing for more good articles":

Reported problems this season:

More about the Thirtymile Fire and a report that the investigation will be out by Labor Day:

08/26 Don't forget to pop on over to FamilySaid to see what's up. Ab.
08/26 Thx R5...your explanation of hot shots-strike teams was a big help. Everytime I think I have this FF lingo conquered someone comes home with a whole different language.One of our kids is on a strike team and I was starting to get confused. Which happens a lot.

Inmates: Our son was on a structure protection engine last year down around Lewiston, Idaho with an inmate crew.(clarification, he wasn't an inmate) He said they were really good firefighters and very conscientious and friendly. He saw some of them again last week and they remembered him so they reminisced a bit.

Shelters: as pillows.....Funny!!!!! but true, and I bet they have been used plenty of times as such. I have tried to find information on how to actively and efficiently start a "riot" oops, not really. Seriously if anyone knows of a "how to" book or information on how to start and proceed with making significant changes, lobbying, etc, we could really use a how-to map. I would hate to have everyone spend all this time and energy on changing the shelters and then find out we could have been more effective doing it another way.

Open to any suggestion.....

08/26 Ab(s), thanks for creating 'family said'. Awesome idea!

I don't think anyone addressed your question about the difference between Hotshot Crews and Strike Teams. You probably already know this but Hotshot crews or Type I Crews are 20 person crews with built in overhead that includes a Superintendent, 2 Foremen, and 2 or 3 Squad Leaders (if there is the extra one, they usually run the sawyers). There is a whole rash of requirements that are needed to qualify as a Hotshot Crew, some of which include having a minimum of 5 radios, personnel that are dozer boss, firing boss, air ops, etc rated, specific training for crew members in addition to normal firefighter training, and having, at maximum, only 2 people on the crew that have no previous fire experience. We have Hotshot trainee crews this year. They will remain in training and be dispatched as trainee crews until 2003 fire season, and only then if they meet all the training and experience requirements. If you want more info, I am sure you can obtain a copy of the Hotshot Handbook somewhere online, I just don't know where to find it. Anyone? CDF refers to their inmate crews as Type I, however they are not Hotshot Crews with the requisite training, and only carry the designation of Type I within Region 5. (They still do an excellent job none-the-less; I believe they have very strict training specific to CDF, however, I never worked for CDF, just with the inmate crews on the line, so I don't know exactly what their training is).

A strike team, when referring to Hotshot Crews, is 2 Hotshot Crews that are mobilized together as a unit, with a Strike Team Leader overseeing the whole parade. A Strike Team of engines is made up of 5 engines, not necessarily all the same type or even from the same agency.

Also, I applaude your activism in reference to the new Roth Shelter. I sure would like to see the government address this issue immediately. The current ones are pretty much only good for a make-shift pillow. Figured I would tack this last on since Murray (great guy/great book) got a plug :) Check out Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean, excellent book going all the way back to '49. Good insight into why firefighters go back year after year even after tragedy strikes.

Old R5'er

I just want to remind people that we have a Fire Books page and a FF Reviews page here at wlf.com. We have a little agreement with Amazon.com that if someone buys anything on their site after entering through the wildlandfire.com portal - which you can do by clicking on any book cover/title on either page - we get a small commission. You can buy anything from a computer or camera to any other book, and wlf.com benefits. We don't benefit if you bookmark Amazon and go directly there the next time. Ab.

08/25 Greetings All,

After reading r3firetaz's post, a little anger set in. I know the team that was on the Fish fire, either individually or on team assignments, and I have always found them to be both experienced and professional. Its always easier to take potshots from hiding than it is to present your concerns to the team. If you have a legitimate safety concern, it is your duty and responsibility to bring it up to the Safety officer, Ops Chief, or the IC. EVERYONE benefits when safety is improved, and by not airing your concerns, they will not be addressed, and nothing is gained.

Sorry, Ab, every once in a while I climb upon my soapbox to shake my fist at whatever is putting a burr under my saddle. I now must find out how far it is to the ground from said soapbox.

Stay Safe everyone,

08/25 This goes out to a group of friends that I lost touch with (Red, Dave, Tony and Russ) Russ I heard you turned structure back east somewhere. Just to let you know I got a full time job on a UH-60 Blackhawk as a fight medic. But they farm us out to do fires. I got the job of teaching these fly boys ground firefighting. Its a good job. I remember one time when Dave, Russ and I were being flown in to a fire and Dave looked at me and said "we are being paid to do this?" That stuck in my head. You guys would love it. The ship I fly in can carry 850 gal in a bambi and the Firehawk can carry 1200 gal in a CDF belly tank. I just got back from the fires in eastern Oregon and am waiting to go out any day now. Well, Gotta go. I think about you guys every day and hope that you are safe. I know we have been doing this for a long time and our odds, or in Daves case Karma, will catch up sometime, LOL.

later, Dan

08/24 Here's a link to the FEMA site and the FIRE Act program.

It has been funded for another year with 100 million dollars. Its kind of tricky to complete the forms and is a competitive process so all grant writing assistance you can get will help. Also there are a couple of exclusions such that, if you are federally funded already, it is not available.

There is another program that provides some funding to Fire Services that respond to Federal incidents but I can't remember where the info is.

We have had to be very creative in funding our VFD with hamburger suppers, donation letters, and grant writing among other things. Raffles are also pretty good for raising some funds.

To keep costs low, I have resorted to building a lot of our own equipment in house, from tenders to aspirating foam nozzles and remote control attack nozzles. I built a high rate expansion nozzle that costs me $25.00 to build and it works as well as any factory nozzle. We also build our own low expansion rate nozzles that costs us only $1.25 to build. If you want to see how resourceful a lot of people can be in scrounging, talk to some Vollies and see how they manage. If anyone wants to see what these fittings look like, just holler. I've some pictures of them around here somewhere.

Stay safe,

The application date for this program expired on May 2, 2001.

They are still awarding grants from the original applications.

Go here to see ALL the information. www.usfa.fema.gov/grants/

Here's another article: www.usfa.fema.gov/grants/update.php


08/24 Ab;

Those FEMA grants can be used for wildland firefighting gear. Just last week a VFD in South Dakota called me up and told me they picked up a $32,000 grant from FEMA for wildland PPE. They have about 30 members. The kicker is they have to spend it by the end of the federal fiscal year. I would sure recommend that our vollies nationwide look at this funding mechanism.

Jim "Hurricane"

08/24 We have a crew here from Alabama in the Okanogan Valley. There are, or I should say the last time I heard (Tues.), close to 5000 firefighters from all over in the valley. Its been cool, and we had some rain Monday and Tues. but its going to heat up this weekend, along with gusting winds. We are looking at the temp. starting to climb again next week.

This is the first R&R for my crew, and they were really looking forward to it. I know how hard the wait can be, my dad was a firefighter, and now my nephew. 11 years ago when he told me this was what he wanted to do, my heart went to my throat. Every year he went out, the pacing started and the worry was always there. When we decied to start our own company he was the first person I hired, 1) because he's good at what he does, 2) Im so proud of him, and 3) yes, I know where he is. We are closer than ever and it helps his family not to worry as much, they can call and Im able to say where they are for that day. I wish there was a way every family could find out where their loved one is. I encourage the families of the other 5 f.f.s we have to call day or night, and if I don't have the answer I will do my best to get it. I never start a day without a prayer for every man and woman out there fighting to save homes, forests and lives.

Be assured,the valley is treating your husbands,sons and daughters with the respected they deserve. Cookies, candy, and any other goodie that can be thought of are being taken to the different camps, people sit along side the road and hand my men water as they go by, treats of all kinds, and I get many calls a day asking where a bake good can be taken to show their thanks. Well I've rambled on enough, but thought some of you that may have someone dear, here in our valley might want just a little news.


P.S. You can be proud of the great job they are all doing.

08/24 Hello all from atta_gal...

I just wanted to check in and say that I think all of you are doing a wonderful job... I was wondering however, has anyone ran into a JobCorps crew out there? My son is on the Timberlake JobCorps, Crew 2. He finally called me this morning. He has been at a spike camp, at the Olallie Lake Complex... the east side, for the past week. Does anyone have photos for posting of the JobCorps crews?

He sounded SOOO.... tired and very proud. My one and only baby is growing up... He told me that he now understands what it is to work hard and that as a FF, he didn't know how I could do it... He said people were very tired and hungry. He asked me to post this for him...

Hello my name is Shane, I know you folks work very hard... Thank you for the opportunity to go to a wildfire, to get some good experience and to earn extra money and to meet some really cool people. Please stay safe out there... It's an honor to serve you and to serve with you...
Shane couldn't speak to me for very long, he had a 5 minute limit. He is really hoping to get a fire shirt and/ or a hat pin, but says he doesn't know if he'll be able to because 1 of the 10 kids on his crew, who's under 18, went to a commisary and attempted a purchase of $200.00 worth of cigarettes. The JobCorps kids are only allowed so many cigarettes per month...Because of that incident, all of his crew was barred from commissary priveleges. No cameras, no nothing... Supposedly there's some type of mediation about that going on...

Anyways, I would also like to add this personal note to all of you from me... Thank you so very much for taking my son under your wings and looking out for him... I am so very proud of him and am thankful to you folks for being good role models for him during his journey into "Growing up and learning what the real world is all about when it comes to hard work and team playing". He is learning that there really is more to life than immediate gratifications, drugs and alcohol.

Well, I guess I'll go for now, y'all... Keep a foot in the black... Good work, pats on the backs, hugs and lots of atta gals and atta guys to you all.


08/24 Series 462 and Series 455 pages are updated. The Jobs page has some fine offerings from Tuesday. Nothing new today. Ab.
08/23 To the MT guy (Paul) seeking funding info:

There's been some discussion on firechat about funding for equipment for Volunteer Fire Departments. I took good notes and those chatting agreed that I could share them here. Thanks to them. If anyone else has info, please write in.

Recipients of Fire Grants, a new nationwide grant program from USFA in FEMA were announced this week (see also Firescribe's link to the article yesterday). These grants are "supposed" to be a multiple year deal if funding is received. However, commentors suggest the fire grant program is probably more tailored for structure fire use. No one had heard of any awards for wildland fire.

Here's the link: www.usfa.fema.gov/grants/

One firefighter suggested the following as another good place for the MT person to check for info and advice. www.firefighting.com/default.asp?goto=grant

From a midwestern firefighter (as close as my notes allow), "We get our wildland PPE, backpacks, drop tanks, & pumps from the GSA contract. Our state forester allows depts to order from GSA thru them. It can save lots of money. However, sometimes things are cheaper elsewhere. We also get FEPP (Federal Excess Personal Property) thru our state forester for free-- (web gear, canteens, 10KW generator)."

FEPP is a "cheap" way to go if a dept can "play the game" with the state and folks don't mind fixing things. However, the Midwestern firefighter warns: "Each state approaches FEPP differently so what works for me in the Midwest may not in other states."

Here's the FEPP link: www.fs.fed.us/fire/planning/fepp/index.shtml
It's also got a permanent home on our wlf.com links page under Federal, third from the bottom.

All this Ab can say is that usually people don't realize how much vollies do with how little money. For many rural departments it takes a lot of pancake breakfasts to keep the fire forces up and running.
08/23 Hey Carol and everyone else,

I just saw your post and was wondering if you could send me some more info. on this grant.

Does anyone else out there have any info.?



08/24 Thanks for the support for remaining on the fireline. I called my university and they're letting me come back late. I'm sure I can catch up, the first three weeks of the semester are usually slow.

I'm glad someone told me about this site. Thinking ahead, I might stay sane until next fire season if I check here in during school. Thanks to whoever does this.

teacher's pet Hooked by fire

Hooked, read "Ab Speaks" (link above) to find out how theysaid began and who "does" it. Glad you joined our community. Ab.

08/24 Firescribe: remind the NF interface VFD folk there is/was 'seed' money available from the USFS (maybe FEMA too) for equipment; the requirement is an 25% "in kind" match & can be other than cash. If it's gone this year, the new federal fiscal year begins 10/1.

CA OES is keeper of a special fund (SAFE Account) to sell refurbished engines to VFDs at a greatly reduced rate.


08/23 Yesterday President Bush signed into law the measure raising the mandatory retirement age for fed wildland firefighters from 55 to 57.

This is good news for our fellow firefighters who have reached the 35 Year-Old mark and for those who don't want to be forced out at 55 years. Pass it on to all you know. For those of you in the 35-37 year gap, better contact those people you applied for and tell them to reconsider your application. If they say they won't, then let them know you'll be contacting a labor attorney regarding an age discrimination suit.


08/23 I just read that Colorado State is also allowing students who are FFs to start late. We have been blessed with an early monsoon season down here which has kept us out of the fire business for several weeks. However, I know there are probably some CSU folks out there on the lines in the NW and we don't want you hurrying back to classes before they are done with you. Of course catching up on all the work will be fun!

On another note, we were just notified that we also got one of those FEMA grants ($88,000!). This is almost twice the annual operating budget for our VFD. For our organization that is all volunteer and entirely donation based, this is a godsend. This grant will be used to buy new gear (both wildland and bunker gear) and new SCBA. For years our volunteer FFs had to provide most of their own wildland gear (except shirts, shelters and hats). We are also very excited to be ditching our hand-me-down bunker gear. We appreciated them when we got them because that was all we had, but it will be nice to have bunker gear that actually fits!

Hang in there and stay safe!

Carol, 20 year VFD FF

08/23 r3firetaz,

There is no way to "leap ahead of the NWCG standards......." Read Wildland and Prescribed Fire Qualifications System Guide PMS-310-1 (NFES1414) page V ---indicates that current standards and the old 1993 standards both madated prerequisite experience as TFLD prior to DIVS qualification. If you have had access to the training records of the personnel you question, and know they have failed to meet the requirements, then you should definitely file a SAFENET on this. Remember, safety is everyones responsibility, and if you have knowledge of unqualified individuals filling jobs, you should redeem that responsibility by reporting it. Good luck, and thanks for staying alert to safety.

Old Fire Guy

08/23 Would someone please explain the difference in a hot shot crew and a strike team crew? What are the qualifications and training for both? and what are the qualifications of the leaders of these crews?

thx Sammi

08/23 The New York Academy website is www.dec.state.ny.us/website/reg1/acad.phpl or you can call my good friend Chuck Hamilton directly at 631/444-0270. Chuck is the Academy Coordinator and does an outstanding job.

Ab about people that use all caps in their messages I have three words for you... <snip>
< Ab chews it up>
<Ab spits it out>


Hmmmmmm... much better. As you can see, THEM'S FIGHTIN' WORDS. Ab has been known to kickback all caps messages to the sender for a rewrite - or just drop the post completely, depending on his mood and whether he's warned 'em before. No need to take any of this personally, just one of Ab's little aesthetic quirks.

08/23 Long Island NY Fire Academy:

Their website is www.dec.state.ny.us/website/reg1/acad.phpl.

As I understand it, classes are filling up fast, so...


08/23 For the Vollies from Firescribe:


08/23 Hey Ab...
Just got off of a 14 day fire tour as a dozer boss and task force leader. The tour led me through Nevada to California primarily doing hotline.

I will have to say that I saw things that were refreshing and some things that were questionable. Guess the thing that is really bugging me right now is this. Several Type II teams that I worked for had op chiefs and division sups (in my opinion) with limited wildland experience. These folks seemed very well versed in structure protection and urban interface experience. It baffles me how we have system where a person can leap ahead of the NWCG standards and fill a position, ie. being a division sup or ops chief without having been a single resource boss, strike team leader, or task force leader and having hotline experience. For example, the Fish fire had 2 shelter deployments plus a dozer roll over in very steep terrain. There were no reason for these two unrelated actions to happen but it did. Both could have been avoided or mitigated with different strategies and tactics. Could this be a new "Watch Out" situation?

On the other hand, my hats off to those teams from Idaho and Eastern Nevada. Its a relief and a pleasure working for teams with many years of wildland fire experience.

One foot in the black and don't be affraid to fight fire with fire when dealing with sagebrush and cheatgrass fires.


08/23 For a large fire map try http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/ that is a page region 3 has and it has a link to a "large Fire" map that NICC puts out. Hope it helps.

Dispatcher from R-3



Just a note to remind people not to post in caps, which are interpreted by many as YELLING! We don't mind messages that are all lowercase and little punctuation... Ab.

08/23 Large Fire Map



I added that to the links page.... Ab.

08/23 Does anyone know of a good map site on the web that shows all the fires? Last summer there was one at the NIFC site. This summer there's a new Geomac site that you have on the links page, but most of the time the public can't get on it and it's so slow to load. I just want a quick peek, not some huge piece of technology.

OR Firefighter

08/23 For your information, Ab has a comment on the familysaid board.
08/23 Just popping thru having a few days of R&R... and catching up a bit with theysaid and "family said it". What a GREAT addition! I'll have to try the chat later when I have more energy to learn how it works. Thanks Abs!

A couple of things. Just like with fast track for aviation, we need to find ways to work with training the new folks up regarding fire behavior. We do need a state-of-the-art fireshelter. However, those on the ground should never be in a position where they need to use one. We need to put aside egos and look again at the Campbell Prediction Method for sizing up fire so fire can be avoided before the fire shelter deployment stage. IMO, Doug Campbell's logical approach to reading the fire's signature should be incorporated into training at a basic level. He's worked equally as hard with the same kind of dedication as Jim Roth has for firefighter safety. Parents and those of you who have never looked at his method, check it out.

Another thing - New people should see some fire by being required to work on Rx burns connected with fuel reduction (as per dictates of the Congressionally mandated National Fire Plan). Experience with fire is key. Let's make looking at fire behavior logical and FAST TRACK fire behavior experience. For really new people, memorizing a long set of rules just doesn't help much. [One of my pet peeves: Get the extreme environmentalists and their legal blocks off our backs so we can reduce the fuels in the forests. As those reading here know, fuel reduction is not about cutting trees for profit then burning. This is about survival of our national resources so we can all enjoy them! Some of the folks who have recently been evacuated from their homes on the Sierra interface should get on the bandwagon on the fuel reduction issue. Fuels need to be reduced! Fire behavior experience can be gained in the process.]

I do think acquisition of a state of the art fireshelter should be brought forward as a focus. We need to get on with it!

BUT, let's not forget other aspects relating to fire behavior knowledge and experience that are equally important in avoiding trouble on the ground. TRAINING.

NorCal Tom

Doug's CPS link is under training and education on the links page. Ab.

08/23 Ab I tried to post this a week ago....What if we took a date out of the calendar to email Congress to insist and enlist a FAST TRACK to find a better shelter ?....The power of numbers in the form of loved ones at home who wish for zero fatalities on the Fire Ground could wake up Congress and the NFS to get the money needed to get this thing done before we loose one more Firefighter...What do you think ?.....Remember 18/10 LACES....Godspeed till you return...

The Old Firedog

08/22 Re FAST TRACK:

Thanks for the quick answers!! Hopefully it appears the FAST TRACK isn't another CONSENT DECREE = PISSED OFF EMPLOYEES! Hope it works! It appears the Forest Service needs all the help it can get to survive, and to keep ALL of its employees in tune to SAFETY FIRST!! and not DIVERSITY FIRST! Maybe the agency does have a chance still....


08/22 Teachers pet:

For those that are interested, i know that Boise State University has extended the start of the fall semester for Firefighters. Students who wish to extend must call the admin. office as soon as possible. One draw back is students will have to make up any missed assignments and class work, the bonus, we are still rollin.


08/22 BG,

I can understand your concern with the program. Being a member of one of the five fast track teams, I can assure you, all of the personnel involved have a wide variety of aviation experience. Some of us have not had the opportunity to get the required training to move on to the next step until now. On the couple of assignments I have gone on with my team, I can report that the training and supervision I have received has, hands down, been the best training I have received since being in the Forest Service. The question has come up a number of times about being signed off too fast; that is completely false. I personally will not be signed off on different positions until I feel comfortable being in that position. If it takes 6-7 assignments, then thats what it takes. I know for a fact that I am not the only person who feels that way in the fast track program.

I read this page a lot and if there are anymore questions about the program I will be happy to reply anytime. Thanks, and everybody have a safe fire season.


08/22 Colleges and universities begin soon, some as early as this Monday. What happens to the firefighting forces when all us college kids have to leave? Last year Montana and Idaho let students go back to school late. Is there anything like that happening this year or do we have to skip fall semester if we want to remain on our crew?

Teacher's Pet Hooked on Fire

08/22 My opinion (yea I know) is: a huge percentage of the changes, reforms whatever you call it has come about when a deep emotion was twicked and it started a rolling effect in other people. MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, did not start by someone saying "oh today I think I will start an organization against drunks" no, it started when a child was killed, BIG emotion there folks.

Megan's Law, is about child killers......and the list goes on and on. I don't trust the powers that be in any field to make appropriate decisions for public safety based on percentages, dollars and the impact to the environment etc. Good grief look at Firestone......we have a bigger investment in the Shelter controversy than anyone other than our FF themselves. We have invested a lifetime of care, love, emotion, commitment to these people out there on the line. And all those investments can move mountains once it gets moving.

Even if we just let the "powers" know we are watching them, it will make a difference. Yes we need to educate ourselves abt the shelters, but I don't have to know the ratio's, the fabric content, the percentages etc. I leave that to the experts.

I want to know they are "activity" working on a better shelter and I want some type of accountability from the "powers". I would be willing to bet that everyone on this list would be willing to buy one of the new shelters themselves if they were available for their family member. Personally we would have to buy four but we would do it today if we could. (I'll sell the house).

I do apologize if anything I've written in the past was taken as an attack. Not intended at all. Everyone has their own agenda and I understand job security and all that. I just want every FF out there to have the best equipment possible....and if it is sitting on a drawing board or a conference table, then someone needs to get involved and get it moving.


08/21 I just got caught up on what's been going on with They Said (great job Abs!!). Firefighter Jane is right on with her message on August 8. I don't support the personal attacks I've seen in other messages but I do understand the frustration of people that chose to vent that way.

Old Fire Guy is right in part but I don't agree with him on one point. We do have to question those that shoulder the responsibility of national leadership, if the leaders don't lead.

JW gave some good points too but someone needs a kick in the @$$ somewhere. I can't believe that no one has updated the old MTDC specs. With all of the technological advances we have seen over the last 10-20 years, we need leadership to bring us forward. As Jane said there has been no work on the material that makes up the fire shelter until Roth came around. 6-7 years later still no improved shelter other than Roth's. MTDC should be working with Roth but it doesn't look like they have. What's up with that?

My 2 cents ---if you're not going to lead, get out of the way.

Be safe out there!
CA firefighter

08/21 Hey, BG,

Here's the info on Fast Track from July: FAST TRACK, 07/01/01.

In FAST TRACK, training is expedited both in class and on the job. Critical to the program is the small group approach to OJT on incidents. A Fast Track Training Coordinator (experienced aviation person) mentors 5 to 6 trainees who, as a group, are assigned to the incident. The mentor works with the aviation person and other team overhead on the incident to assure that necessary training is obtained to meet task book requirements. Individuals in the program have the benefit of individual feedback.


08/21 BG, Here you go.

THE SITUATION . . . Continuing nationwide shortage of Air Operations Branch Directors, Air Support Group Supervisors, and Helibase/Helicopter Managers. This shortage will only worsen in the future due to retirements. Current system is unable to provide enough training opportunities and trainee assignments to fill this void.

WHAT IS FAST TRACK? Designed to address the shortage situation, the Region 5 FAST TRACK Aviation Training and Qualification Program is an "accelerated development" program that provides training and experience in a condensed timeframe.

As an example, four required courses that are presently only available or offered at the rate of one course per year are presented all in one year. Emphasis is then placed on obtaining immediate and ongoing on-the-job experience for the Fast Track participant. In a best-case scenario, a participant could move from their current level of expertise as a Helicopter Manager to full qualification as an Air Operations Branch Director (AOBD) in a 3-5 year timeframe.

FAST TRACK MEETS ALL TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS . . . NWCG 310-1 and FSH 5109.17 standards will be met in full. Though training and experience is compressed into the shortest timeframe possible, Fast Track WILL NOT REDUCE OR DIMINISH the quality or quantity of training and experience required for an individual to become fully qualified in one of the targeted positions. HOW FAST TRACK WORKS . . . Candidates apply to the Fast Track Program. Upon acceptance, a personal training plan is developed for each participant based on their current level of aviation aptitudes and skills. Participants then attend an intensive 4-5 weeks of training.

Upon successful completion of training, Fast Track Teams of 5-6 trainees are formed and placed on a rotation schedule for assignment to incidents.

A Fast Track Training Coordinator (FTTC) accompanies the Fast Track team to an incident, acting as mentors to the trainees and liaison with Incident personnel (IC, AOBD, Training Specialist, etc.) and the Forest Aviation Officer.

FTTC's closely coordinate with incident air staff and oversee the training and experience process of each Fast Track trainee. They ensure that training standards are met and that experience gained and qualifications achieved are properly documented in Position Task Books.

THE RESULTS . . . Quality training and experience is provided each individual. The mentoring program allows for personal feedback to each participant on-incident as well as during the entire multi-year program. This approach potentially can produce better results sooner than the current training and qualification system provides.

Andy the Aviator

08/21 I am a retired Engine Capt. (1997) Forest Service. Just wondering what this R-5 Aviation FAST TRACK thing is?? Sounds a little scary?


08/21 JW,

Thanks for the insightful and level headed post!! We all have to remember there are always two sides of the story, unfortunately its hard for some people to look at things from both sides of the fence.

...Id rather be out there suckin smoke than sittin here watchin the grass grow..oh well, there is more than enough to go around, we will all get our turn.


08/21 I just read that Calif has 10 fire teams & to date we have been able to ID 5 of the type I teams. If any if uze out there work w/or know of the sites for the rest of the teams (type II?), please let us know.


08/21 Greetings Ab,

I wonder if we can find a friend of mine. Tate made a transitition from SE TEXAS to MN back in July. I had his new address before my computer meltdown. But I have lost all of that since. So I figure he still checks in here every now and then.

Thanks and stay safe,

08/21 From Firescribe,

A good article by Judd Slivka of Idaho Statesman entitled Firefighters: Safety shelters are dangerous Forest Service is working on new tent designs:

CDF has some info up on the CA fires that they're supervising:

08/21 The Jobs page, Series 462 and Series 455 pages are updated. More jobs on the Mendocino NF and the Kansas Forest Service is accepting applications for a Fire Protection Specialist position. Ab.
08/21 Howdy Ab-

Well the good ol Pac NW weather's going to kick in pretty soon, a band of weather bearing rain and snow is expected for the Cascades this Tuesday, so I hope it will help out the Icicle et all other complexes.

Your pup will be headed off to college here in 48 hours, off to get myself an edumication.. and maybe learn how to spell along the lines (Thanks Kelly for putting up with my lack of Merriam-Webster and The Little, Brown Book skills.)

Just a thought from the young one... supporting evidence goes a long way in debate... not meaning to criticize anyone in particular, but you're more likely to get me (and other humble firefighters) on your side of the boat if you can prove your point... you can get more people if you can do it tactfully... but, as I said, this is just a thought.

Carry on all, Summer is almost at an end... or so I think.

Tiny, the R-6 College-Bound Fire Pup

08/21 I would like to thank the Redding Air Attack Base personnel for the excellent training I received while on detail as an R5 Avaition FAST TRACK team member. I was given the hands on experience I needed to operate in the Tanker Industry. The operation is one of the largest in the country with much activity. As to date the base is approaching the 600,000 gallon mark. Many thanks to John, Jim, Rudy, the Bob's, all the pilots and mechanics, the firetrol crew, and the outstanding CDF firefighters who work the ramp.


08/21 Attached is an update on fire shelters. I'll echo an earlier comment that personal attacks are unprofessional. The folks in fire leadership today got there by earning it. They were putting their butts on the line (literally) while many of today's firefighters were filling their diapers. I don't question the safety commitment of our current firefighters, and they should not question that of those who shoulder the responsibility of national leadership in fire. I sincerely hope that the Roth shelter does prove to be better.

'nuff said.

(See attached file: Fire Shelter Talking Points)

Old Fire Guy

Hi Old Fire Guy. Thanks for reminding us. I posted this with your message last week (08/13) and linked to it again above to remind folks that a process is underway. And, um, the image of filled diapers goes great with my coffee. Ab.

08/21 "in the Loop"

me thinks your response was a little harsh in response to Sammi's comments. This not the forum for personal squabbles, but for sharing infomation. Never forget that all, whether on the line or sitting at home, want to best for all the FFrs.


old&grey in R5

Good Morning All. I'm cross-posting a few of these messages in familysaid as we work out the best flow of communication between this site and the new site. For more dialog check out what family members are saying. Thanks to those CIC (Comfort Incident Commanders) who know a lot who are supporting those who know less - about finding and following their folks on the fire information highway.

08/20 Just a few comments re: recent posts.

First, my compliments to the Captain on SHF Engine 6-3. I worked with him on two fires in NW NV recently, the Macy and Buzz where he was the IC. Both were low priority fires under the shadow of the Blue fire. As low priority fires there were limited resources assigned. From the air I was able to provide information and suggestions as to strategy. At one point on the Buzz we were discussing various attack strategies. Captain 6-3 established a cutoff level on the complexity of the attack based on his experience level and personal judgement as to how much activity with which he felt comfortable. The fire got bigger, resources worked safely, and most importantly Captain 6-3 established control levels that allowed him to successfuly command the incident. In "normal" times an ADFMO or DFMO would have eventually arrived to be the IC. Again, my compliments.

N. Calif. fuels have reached critical live fuel moisture levels. Short range spotting is occuring at moderate ignition and spotting index levels. Winds as low 10-12 mph will produce major runs in most fuel types, even on level terrain. Retardant will not stop fires as it did earlier in the year. Watch the smoke column, if it tilts in the wind or is flattened by low level gradient winds, don't get caught out under it. You may be between the head and down range spots. If you are downrange, as happens when chasing spot fires in the interface, and the column goes vertical it is defeating the gradient wind and will suck the spots back into the main fire at a terrific speed.

The summer doldrums are ending, expect more "normal" wind activity for the rest of the season. Be careful of the period between frontal changes, spread vectors change to slope and diurnal air movement driven ones from the lack of wind during the slack period. Don't be lulled into ignoring the micro climate and topography. If your attack strategy is dependent on having enough time to finish before the area becomes untenable, you probably will not have enough time.

Fire Shelters-
Let's get past the personal attacks and look towards how to make the system work better. I hate to say it but change in bureaucracy is incremental. The USFS has worked in the "design specification" mode forever and in some areas is now moving to "performance specification". NFPA standards are not law; they are guidelines based on input from a cross section of industry, research institutions, third-party testing labs, management, labor, and regulatory agencies. Adopting or using the standards is up to the particular agency. More and more the standards are being looked at by the courts as the model to be held against and by regulatory agencies as the best practice to follow.

The NFPA 1977 standard for wildland fire fighting safety equipment uses the "old" MTDC specification because it was the existing technology level when written. The review cycle of the standard is three years. There can be interim changes based on new technology, new information, or poor user experience to name a few. The new MTDC specification, if performance based, could be offered as an interim improvement with full consideration in the next review cycle. Both Mr. Roth and MTDC could both be at the same table and work towards a common ground. Is it a perfect system? No. But as a consensus based system, it tends to draw the polarized positions closer together.

Absent any other guideline or specification to follow, the MTDC design specification is the only one recognised by the federal agencies. Should any technical development center be focused on product design rather than performance specification? Probably not. This is where change is most needed. If MTDC can produce the performance goals, then the manufacturers should be able to market products that meet the specifications as proven by third-party testing. Your employer will then tell you which product they will buy for you to use based on cost, applicability, and, unfortunately, liability exposure.

I respect the call to action seen on this site. I suggest that individuals work together to improve the system and the product. The Wildland Fire Service Association is a good way to pass your concerns to management, which is not entrenched at this time, and legislators who have the ability to question with the budget as a threat.

I also disrespect character attacks. They're not needed to make the point. In defense of the individual attacked, I know that he has been to every fatal/severe injury fire entrapment site during his MTDC assignment as part of the investigation team. I know he cares about fire fighter safety. It may not be expressed the way the defamer would like to see it expressed. Put yourself in the other's shoes and figure out how you would be able to work within the system for change, and how much, and how fast, you may be able to create a change from outside. It's personal choice, I wish you well on your attempt.

The old CDF fire fighter picture-
The age of the picture is in the 1975 to 1980 era +/- a couple of years. The pants are nomex made by Workrite, in a boot-jean style. The thighs were cut so tight that many "studs" couldn't even get the right waist size past their knees. Fitting so tight, they passed the radiant heat to your skin. By 1980-81 we went to poly-cotton or cotton Big Ben's or other green jean under the yellow overpant. The radio is a five channel Dumont crystal controlled unit, direct only, no repeater capability. Helitack crews got the first programmable Kings in the '78+ timespan. The web gear is WWII-Korean War cotton battle harness. As to the shirt sleeves rolled up and no gloves, common for the era. No gloves made your hands tough! Patch is sewn on, not silk-screened. Early nomex had the "Cal Div Fire" bowling team patch sewn on. After the name change the shirts came plain and individuals put on their own shoulder patches.


08/20 Talk about making an example of someone,
Black Hills NF – On 7/23, Jan Stevenson of Newcastle, WY was sentenced for starting the Jasper Fire. She was sentenced to serve 10 years in federal prison with 3 years supervised probation upon release and to pay restitution of $42 million. She must request permission from her parole officer to travel through Federal or State forest lands. Additionally, the State of South Dakota has arson charges pending against her, which carry up to a 25-year prison term. The 10 years in federal prison was an upward departure from the sentencing guidelines for 18 U.S.C. 1361, Depredation of Government Property. The court accepted the following as reasons for the departure: the high value of property damaged when 7% of the Forest burned, and the disruption of governmental function when all levels of government became involved in the suppression effort. Region 2 LEI would like to thank SA's Paul Steensland, Robin Poague, Bob Darling, and Ron Pugh who came from other regions to provide assistance on this case.
08/20 Sonoma County:

Ripped off 95 acres of under brush and trees along the Russian River yesterday. Pretty radical fire behavior for being along the river. You had to watch out for all the rats that got burned out of house and home. Looks as if it was started by an unattended camp fire.

Sonoma County sent at least one strike team down south, San Andreas, I think. CDF hired out one of our rigs and 1 engineer and 2 firefighters to augment staffing. Man it looks like it's starting to get stretched on the equipment side of things already. Yesterday we had to get an air tanker form Redding for a fire in Sonoma County.

Sending some pics from our zone training in July. Mobile attack kind of stuff.

Keep safe and keep watching the weather, don't get burned and drink lots of liquids.

I posted the photos on Crews3 page. I also posted a hotshot crew photo from the Lakeview Complex there and others on the AirTankers3, Helicopter4, and Equipment2 pages. Ab.

08/20 Cross-posted from familysaid:

"In the Loop"........ Please explain.....
"Whiners???????? Don't know what they are talking abt?" Who?
Are you yelling at those of us who are supporting the Roth shelters, or yelling at the people who are being quiet on the subject? Or are you just yelling?

What is your interest in this subject? Are you personally involved on one side or the other or possibly a journalist looking for a different scoop on the fires?

If personally involved, I pray that yourself or the people in your life never have to deploy.....I have received one of those calls at 3am with the voice on the other end of the line saying Mrs_______ this is Chief________ and I said "Is he alive?"

I have no problem telling anyone which side of this issue I am on, how abt you?

hope you have a better day.....

08/20 >
> To all the whiners carrying on about the Roth shelters, (1) you don't know
> half the details you're whining about because you haven't bothered to find
> out, and (2) keep your eye out for a good media story on this coming up soon.
> In The Loop
08/20 We have large quantities of nomex clothing, coveralls, and gloves made for the US Air Force for immediate shipment. Do you know who to contact in Washington state or Oregon who are despately looking for these?

Abe Schwarzman
Schwarzman Export-Import Co
New York

08/20 Ponderosa Fire, Saturday nite, (nite crew) onto Sunday morning. Fact.
6 dozers, meet at the ridge, 3 to the bottom, 3 to the top. Fact.
Dozer boss will be there any time with assignments. Fact ?
Dozer boss went home or somewhere, did not show. Fact.
No dozer work done that nite, 3 on top ridge, 3 on bottom, sat all nite and could not do any work. FACT.
Parts of this fire are a real circus. Fact.

Sign me...
Heard the above.

08/20 One who knows---I have to agree with Vinnie: right on. Check the fire dangers posted on the GACC sites, or read your handy (or not so handy) mob guide for two words: draw-down. We can't send out so many resources that we can't do initial attack. It definitely sucks to sit at home while there are fires, but think big picture, think about a country with enough fire that we're at preparedness level 5. If we don't IA fires, they get big and we're in worse shape. Sometimes those engines and crews sitting at home can save the rest of the country from even more crises (of course, it still sucks).

Re Fireshelters/Fireshelter Testing---Firefighter Jane and Firefighter Families: Do it. I just wouldn't want to be the one to deal with the FOIA request! But, it would get the information we all need out there....

Please be safe out there. Fire danger levels are at extremes or near extremes in a bunch of places.

----trying to see the big picture

08/19 TO ALL,

As I sit here in my station house, reading the They Said page and looking at the Sit-Rep Report on NIFC, I just heard notices for local government Fire Departments (here in California) to start calling up firefighters who want to go on OES (CA's Office of Emergency Services) Strike Team assignments. As I write this, it was advised over many fire radios that the locations would be at Yosemite National Park (which has a 1000+ acre fire southeast of Yosemite Village) and the Ponderosa Fire (formerly Wemar Fire in CDF NYP Ranger Unit) for a four to five day assignment. Here it comes for California, guys! Everyone start checking the bags and going over the engines one more time. In particular to our volunteer firefighters who fight the same wildland fires, because although you may not be called immediately you may be first in.

To those crews covering the different fire stations, don't make the same mistake CDF made last year by not listening to the locals and the local volunteers as to weather and fire behavior factors. Those people live there, and know what the wind does.

Amen to the Forest Service Chief! IF he did send a letter out to all Forests telling them to send all qualified fire people out (See, Republicans can appoint good people).

Everyone be safe. We've had enough injuries and fatalities for this season and several more.


08/19 To Meko9

Sounds like some other readers came back with some good advice while addressing your complaints. You might want to heed it and maybe you might learn a few things that some of the rest of us have learned over the years. Thought your attack on R6 was a pretty "Cheap" shot. Especially since the decisions that affect you come from NZ and NIFC, not NWCC or anyone else in R6. Since a couple others gave you excellent feedback I won't add much more than this:

  1. Get with your local or forest fire management folks and let them explain to you how the system works, then learn to use it to your and your crews advantage. You apparently have not been with the outfit long enough to know how to work the system.
  2. Before you start attacking your brother and sister firefighters in R6 (or any region for that matter) you really need to grow up!!!
  3. In 30 years of wildland firefighting I have seen good and bad from every region, agency and contractor. There are alot more good in all those areas than bad, so deal with it. It is part of life! Just don't let the bad ones get you hurt Bro.
08/19 Howdy,

As a member of a small volunteer fd in montana, I am always looking for gear. We are in desperate need of clothing and other equipment. The other night, one of our crews got on the scene of a going fire and could not tell the dispatcher where they were exactly. They had to describe how they had gotten there. We need some gps units very badly. I'll will be talking to some businesses this week I hope ( I have to make a living too.) about donations. But, the fire season is heating up here as in other places. We also need suggestions as to how to get some money for our volunteers. I figure in the last two weeks I have lost $500 - $600 in personal income alone. And I haven't been able to go to very many fires.

Well, enough of that whining.

Thanks to all of you out there for your much needed help.

08/19 Living in the Okanogan Valley and having men out fighting to save homes, and forest we grew up in, hunted in and played in, with each new crew that arrives to help, we are so thankful. We may be short handed but Im so proud of each man and woman out there day in and day out doing everything they can. You're all hero's, with a hard job to do, and there needs to be a whole lot more thank you's. When I hear someone complain firefighters could be doing more, I simply tell them, walk a day in a firefighters shoes, then come back and talk to me... God bless each and everyone of you. You're in our prayer's.


08/19 Check in with "Family Said It" for tips on how to follow firefighters in your family. Ab.
08/19 Folks
We are one in the same. we all are firefighters. who cares if you are fed or pvt, you do the same work dig the same ground and sweat as much. just remember the 4 who where killed and stay safe.
firedoc [ex fed now a pvt] rest in peace tom
08/19 To those R5 crews complaining about not getting reassigned. I and many other qualified resources are sitting on the East Coast hoping to go out. I am a HEMG and I have to sit around because I have to go to a cultural resource meeting. Because the NPS thinks this is more important! This meeting could be postponed! R-5 folks I worked in Sequoia NP in 1987 and we had a thousand strikes in one afternoon resulting in over 100 fires in the park alone. If the lighting comes you will get some work!

Be safe

08/19 Hey federals: Dont get all full of self! I am state, ODF. we use crews- state fed and contract. were always glad ta see ya show up. pound fer pound some of the contract crews are the best , they work hard, stay on the job and accept assignments that are plenty tough. there is no need ta pump yer ego by puttin down other firefighters.
08/19 Old Dog -
The letter from the Chief of the Forest Service has gone out or will be out by Monday. I don't know the exact wording, but it's the "let your people go" letter.

One who knows -
Right on the Money!!


08/18 listen buddy i am sorry you cant play in r6 not my fault but contract crews are just as good as you fed people so back off we are tired and kickin but up here with or with out your help so if you want to be nice maybe you will get places ok

contract crewboss/stl

08/18 Meko9,

It is frustrating isn't it? But you likely don't know the whole story. First of all, it isn't R6 calling the shots on your crew's availability. I suspect if North Zone put your crew available for National use you would be gone. I suspect your crew is part of a Regional "reserve" based upon fire danger in CA. Northern Cal is one good T-storm away from being in the same boat as 6.

As of saturday the 18th, the Rocky Mtn area had 10 type 2 crews listed as available nationally, 2 available in RMA, and 2 confined to local dispatch area. Not sure why the 10 crew have not been mobilized. Seems odd to have the Army/Marines mobilized when 10 crews sitting at home. At a guess, they will go to relieve crews hitting 14 days.

Also this forest could supply at least one more crew, but this will not happen as they are not available due to "targets", also a lot of overhead. Apparently things are not bad enough to require all redcarded folks to drop what they are doing and pitch in. Frankly if it was as important as the news reports and releases indicate, at lot more resources could be made available. There is a lot of heat to produce fuels reduction/National Fire Plan project work, whic may be more important to Washington than releasing folks to hit fires.

Have patience, you'll get you share, and be damn heads up and careful out there,


08/18 Meko9,
Three things: The larger picture is that R5 is drawn down dangerously low. We need some of you on region. In addition, there's a wind event predicted for tomorrow/day after and we need to be ready for that. Finally, it makes more sense and is more cost effective to send crews out of region that can stay the whole two week tour, than to send ones that must rotate off after a week. Frankly, we need you at home for a little bit.

Take a deep breath. Fire season is going to continue for a long while. Please, think like a marathoner. You'll get more than your share of firefighting before the season is done.

To those of you single resource people,
Please call dispatch to let them know that you're available, if you are. We have crews ready to go, but lack supervisors. We're short crew bosses and squad bosses. We need management in all areas, aviation included. Call in, please. Be sure you're on the board.

Be safe All,
One Who Knows

08/18 I am on a R5 handcrew and am disillusioned with whats going on in R6. We were recently released from a fire near Alturas, after calling for reassignment I was shocked to hear from NorthZone to go back to forest, there were no assignments. After a giant WHAT?, I was told that only resources out of R5 w/ more than 7 days left of their 14 were being sent to R6 and that R5 was holding onto resources.

After being pidgeon holed for 5 days - not listed as avail when Nor Cal started blazing and watching R6 handcrews (even contract crews) rolling by to my regions fire - I am a little fried. What is going on? It seems that every little fire in R5 gets inundated with handcrews from R6 (mostly lackluster contractors though) but it doesn't work the other way. Why? Is R6 afraid that if R5 er's show up they wll have to raise the bar for their own handcrews? I have worked with many R6 crews and am positive the bar is much lower for them up there, but why? Shouldn't our objectives all be the same? I know that the FS (like CDF) is using the media to let everyone that things are tight (with an underlying message to congress to keep that new money coming) but knowing about the pidgeon holing thats going on, how can I believe it. I am with 19 other EXPERIENCED personnel who feel the same, as we stack sticks and move rocks that I am sure the Natl. Guard can do (or atleast get more training) while R6 burns. I dont understand what is going on, can you answer my questions?

And yes, we have plenty of cheese to go along with our whine out here!
Thanks for the great site,


08/18 Hey all,

Yet another call for everyone to be careful! No one was around to get hurt, but I hear the 30 mile fire is up and running again. With the heat and stretched resources this summer these larger fires may not be put to rest until the snow flies!!

Fire Bee

08/18 Please visit our new "Family Said It" page, a forum for wildland firefighter family members to share information, ask questions, and discuss issues unique to them. I may cross post some items of discussion until visitors to wildlandfire.com discover and become used to checking the other page and contributing.

Hey Family, glad to have ya and don't be a stranger to this page (or firechat), either!

08/18 Hey AB,

What's up with the military?? Those folks are not even trained and being given "crash courses" in firefighting...When there are many of us who are trained, some highly trained, still waiting to be called...are those calling folks out aware of all the resourses that are still waiting???? They should use those that are trained and available before they call in the untrained folks...am I being too logical???


08/18 PC... I had to drop you a line because you should know you'd be welcome in the chat room... even if you are not a firefighter yourself. It is an educational experience, and the more the merrier (or something like that...).

Sawmonkey... I think the Sit500 (CA) is not published on the web anymore for arson prevention reasons or something similar. I know it's still published internally in the GACCs but you would have to contact them to find out how to get a copy.

In other news, I spent some time catching up on the board tonight, and have been thinking for a while about some of the comments. I am noticing that a lot of folks out there, firefighters and their families, are looking for more and more information about fire situations, resources, locations. I myself have come to depend on the web for a tremendous amount of fire information... we do in fact live in an information age. However, only five years ago during my first fire season, my parents could get little more information about where I was on assignment than they heard from my roommate who heard it from a friend of a friend who worked for the Forest Service and heard it from someone there who had talked to dispatch three days before (small town). This morning's (the 17th) National Sit Report showed over 600 crews, over 900 engines, 176 helicopters, and 3377 overhead committed. That's a lot of people to track, and you know the numbers have grown since the information was collected for that report late on the night of the 16th. Anyway, priority one is to get people to fires safely and to keep them safe. I definitely understand the desire to track the people you love, but dispatch centers are swamped just trying to get people moved from point A to point B. A friend of mine says anyway that "the only constant is change". Either way, I have to say that I am amazed at the explosion of fire information every year on the web... what an awesome technology, and perfect for the fluid world of wildland fire. I do think that fire management is moving toward better information on the web, too, but it takes time to transition people, mindsets, data, processes, and technology.

Ab and all, thanks for the forum... it really is priceless...


08/18 Colorado Mom, Sammi, and others -

If you want to see action I would start by making a FOIA (freedom of information act)request to the Forest Service on all information related to the current fire shelter and Mr. Roth’s shelter. This would include all information and data related to testing of both shelters, all recalls or safety notices related to the fire shelter, and all investigation reports where fire shelters were used. I would ask them explain why they discourage and ignore work or suggestions by folks, other than technology and development, to improve the fire shelter (Vinnie’s message that is archived suggested there are other safety equipment involved). I would share this information with the media, OSHA, your state governor and Congress in a letter writing campaign. Technology and development will try to buffalo you with questions about the testing of Mr. Roth’s shelter but don’t let them get away with it (see my earlier message that is now archived).

I spoke to Jim Roth through email and he shared with me that by the end of this year, the test procedures should be established and MTDC should have an idea of what a fire shelter should be in terms of the tradeoffs of weight, bulk, survivability, and cost. It's expected they will design their own and put it out to bid in GSA. His shelter would have to wait 2-5 years before NFPA performance based standards are in place for "standardized testing". Why???

I’d like to know if there is an exemption to this NFPA standardized testing. How long do we have to wait for technology and development to provide a better shelter? And why do we have to wait? Is there someone connected with GSA that is going to take the work that Mr. Roth has done and tweak it just enough for their own personal gain?

With over 22,000 firefighters on the fireline, and now military personnel, there are families across the country that should be concerned - but they can make a difference. They haven’t listened to us but maybe they’ll listen to you. We all would appreciate your efforts!

“Firefighter Jane”

08/18 Hi my name is trevor and i live in adelaide south australia. I like the site .it is one of the best i have seen. I am a volunteer fighter over here which we are called country fire service. We cover all calls from grass fires, house, office and also do hazmat, road cash. I will let my mates know about this site as well. once again it is a good site.


Welcome Trevor. We do have Aussie readers and contirbutors, some of whom have suggested links under worldwide on our links page. Check em out. Please do tell your friends about us. Ab.

08/18 RE: The CDF fire picture

This picture would be from around 1984 to 1988 when the patch changed again. The green roll is a brownie uniform jacket. He is not wearing the rest of the required attire that was mandated at that time-most noteably the lack of yellow bottoms. Looks like the good old "Oshkosh B'gosh" not green nomex.

Don't know the context of the photo, but it looks like we he wasn't ready for much battle. Probably a good thing the guy is looking away.

Be safe out there!


"They went yellow in about 1973 to differentiate from inmate crews who kept the orange, although you still could see orange for years afterwards on overhead and camp slugs as a fashion statement."
The overheads and camp slugs wanted to be identified as inmates? ? ?


08/17 Hi All,

At the request of Sammi and others, we've created a "Family Said It" page. We Abs and some of the posters tossed this idea around last summer, as those of you who were reading then will recall. There are many more people including family members who are reading and contributing now and we see a special need for spouses, siblings, and parents to share issues, concerns, ideas and information. Over the next few days, I'll create the appropriate links among pages so that new readers coming to the site can easily get to the "familysaid" page. For the moment we'll try to sort incoming mail to the correct page, and post a pointer to it on theysaid when it changes - as we do with the jobs pages. As always, we're here to support the wildland firefighting community.


PS The Jobs page, Series 462 and Series 455 pages are updated.

08/17 "A.L." wrote:
<<.........snip.........I overheard a conversation the other day as I passed a crew on my fire - that CDF fire people are working 1/3 more for 1/3 less pay. Is this true? How did this come to pass? Why isn't this public knowledge? ....>>>

I believe that what A.L. heard is a reference to the fact that CDF fire-suppression personnel work a 72-hour workweek (actually almost 36% longer than typical municipal firefighters) for a pay rate about 30% less than the average pay for California municipal firefighters. But I am sure we will not get much sympathy from the primarily USFS readers of this board, whose pay has been historically even worse. CDF compares itself to municipal firefighters in this fashion because we do all of the things they do, and wildland as well. The job is much more dangerous and involves much greater total effort, and requires just as many skills and technical knowledge. The taxpayers are, of course, completely oblivious to these facts. In order to compensate us just equally to the average municipal firefighter, which would not be sufficient, we would need at least a 50% raise due to the much longer work-week. But we are getting zip this year, and have fallen steadily behind private sector pay raises and inflation for several years. Much of this applies to USFS firefighters, too, and they are also grossly underpaid.

"Mike from Arroyo Grande"

08/17 ab,

the CDF guy in the picture: I'll bet the gloves were stashed in his web gear. The picture couldn't be much older than 12 years or so, going by the shoulder patch, web gear, radio harness, and how he has his shroud fixed. The first shelters came in about 1975 as a sort of flat, skinny, orange-colored rectangular canvas pouch. They were never carried in the field as a roll. Its some kind of cot blanket it looks like.

A little pictoral history here: The aluminum hard hats were in use until late eighties (in some places) in the lower 48, but could be seen in Alaska until fairly recently. IR type crews, Hotshots and helitack, had to have plasic hats as early as 1975 to be able to go to california fire because of the elecrical conductivity problems in the south zone urban interface. The first nomex shirts were orange. They went yellow in about 1973 to differentiate from inmate crews who kept the orange, although you still could see orange for years afterwards on overhead and camp slugs as a fashion statement. The pants started coming around 1976 in dribs and drabs, and until 1978 were sometimes in unusual colors. There were blue nomex pants, light green, dark green, and brown...so it could really be nomex pants in the picture. People without nomex pants ususally wore blue Levi 501's or black can't bust 'ems with their buck knife. Considering the helo, the shirt, the haircut, and the pants--whether nomex or not--I'd place the picture as 1976.


08/17 Definitely an Allouette, one of our hospital's flew two out here for air ambulances. I once built them an asphalt landing pad and they calculated the dynamic loading wrong. The first time they set the bird down, it sank through the asphalt. We had to remove it and replace it with concrete.

Stay safe, Keith

08/17 Lo AB, Lo Mellie. Having a blast in the desert. Winnnemucca - Elko is just blazing. As is the entire west. I have come across a few safety concerns with all of the inexperienced personnel hired by the fed. Any one else?

Was also wondering if anyone knoew of any numbers concerning the loss of employees to college?
Be safe and keep your head.

Later all, eric
Pacific Wildfire

08/17 Hi, All!

Getting the Storm King Mountain fire shelter approved has been stalled for years; red tape seems to be getting in the way of keeping our loved ones safe on the line safe. Now there appears to be some interest from Congressional members such as Senator Cantwell (Washington state) and Representative McInnis (Colorado). Is there a way we, as families of firefighters, can organize and be vocal about the need for a new fire shelter? I'm thinking that MADD started with one mom - there are already lots of us. Any ideas?

Colorado Mom

08/17 The helicopter shown (heli 4) is indeed an Alouette III, model SA316B, I think. The bucket appears to be a Hawkins-Powers collapsable, pneumatic system, twin dump gates. The black hoses ran up into the side compartment of the helicopter where the compressor was installed.


08/17 Here are some photos of the column and helos (bucket dipping) on the Trough Fire:

Thought this might be interesting to those not familiar with one new term this year -- "white pup".
For an explanation, go to
New Term from the team at the Lakeview Complex in OR.

For those non-firefighters who haven't ever seen a "pumpkin", check out Kern Helo 2 on the Heli 3 page. (Thanks for linking that, Ab.)

I want to say GOOD JOB to all the computer specialists out there on fires. This job is ever more complex as we try to integrate and make available information on all aspects of each fire - from record keeping, tracking resources and people, and providing information for those in the field, as well as for the public and media who want maps, photos, road closures and other info. We appreciate what you all do with slow phone lines and other barriers to easy implementation.

Hey All, give those firegeeks in camp a big round of applause!

<sounds of clapping> <arena cheering in the background>

08/17 Ab,

This year has been quite a busy one for myself, Eagle, Graduation, FF1 Certification, College... but not so busy that I forget about my close brothers of my own district whom were sent out to aid the battle in Eastern Washington. I'd just like to ask that my extended brothers and sisters through this site help the men from Island County Fire District 2 as they seek to help you. Oh.. and make sure to see them home safely as well. Manpower is low everywhere, and while we send what we can spare to help, we, as everyone does, hope that we can manage on the home front as well until their return.

Tiny, the R-6 Fire Pup

08/17 A.L. don't believe everything you hear: CDF folk are paid according to grade & classification, as per the personnel contract. CA Department of Personnel Administration monitors that! If those FFers have a prob, they should take it up with the timekeeper & go from there...me thinks they haven't seen those paychecks yet! Second-guessing & grousing erode morale Seems Davis does support FFers, why else would OES have called up their engines (manned by the place they were loaned to) and sent them to the Gap fire - cause the Gap is surrounded by roads - not only I80.

P.C. no reason your brother shouldn't have found a phone if sent to another fire - lots of phones along the way... maybe he needed the sleep more! And, no need to apologize for sending an email here - we all worry about our loved ones when they are on the line & don't call as soon as we'd like.

To ALL: BE SAFE OUT THERE. it's a bad year....pray for rain in the West by mid-September. We want you home safe & sound!

old & grey in R5

08/17 To Fire Guy 8;

Barricade Fire Stopping Gel is not the only retardant to bite the dust with the authorities. Take Pyrocool:

Pyrocool won the USEPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. In the Czech Republic, Pyrocool reduces the number of operational flights needed to extinguish by 2/3rds. Firefighters all say the same thing - as fast as the Pyrocool is sprayed, the fires go out and stay out. And Pyrocool contains no cyanide. In Time Magazine (Aug 21, 2000) Frank Carroll, a former Forest Service worker discussing the need for new tactics stated "We're like alcoholics: we keep taking a drink, thinking we're going to get a different outcome". And you're right, FG8; there is something amiss in all this.

(The writer has no financial interest in Pyrocool or Barricade Gel.)
John A.

08/17 HELP

If anyone knows of any available aviation resources would you contact Jim Evans at (208) 850-0376? I need about 30 helicopter managers right now.


08/17 Regarding the family who is keeping track of their firefighter:

Well, much to his dismay one of our sons was sent home today with a "severely sprained knee". He sure didn't want to leave his crew....but the doc said at least 72 hrs rest and see the ortho surgeon next week for ok to go back. Thx to the medical people out there taking care of him and everyone else...apparently they did a great job getting him taken care of and off to the hospital. So far it seems everyone is taking a real "safety first" stance and I appreciate that.

As for the place to keep up with family members out on the fires.....I agree it is very hard to keep up and the not knowing is very hard. Luckily ours was on the TACO fire in central Idaho and the Nez Pearce Forest has an awesome web site for fire info....doesn't list crews or people but at least we knew what was happening with the big picture. Our kids are really good about calling every chance they get so we really appreciate that......cell phones are worth the cost. was terribly worried but he is home now ....


08/17 Re the historical photo:

Looks like an Alloute III helicopter and an early model griffith bucket.


Got any year estimates? The nomex shirt but not pants. The aluminum hardhat. The ship and bucket. Clues, my friends. Ab.

08/17 R8 cancelled their air attack aircraft contracts when there's a shortage of them. Whatsup with that!!! There seems to be no support from the R8 Forest Service Fire Director for aircraft going west when they're so desperately needed. It makes one wonder about the egos and politics involved here. You can bet there are some pretty pissed aircraft contractors in R8. Two aircraft are even being recalled from the western fires. I just can't believe this! Doesn't this Fire Director have the least sense that we're all in the firefighting business together?

Firefly Fred is seeing RED!

08/17 just a quick note on the shelter issue that mr roth has been working on. the reason that the feds have not gone to the new shelter is simple. if they say the new shelter is better than the current issue then they are also saying that the shelter that has been in use for years is not that great of a product. so if they keep the old "shake n bake" bags then all is well and they wont be forced to say that we were forced to use an inferior product.

as far as the news footage of the shelters getting burned over that every body saw on tv the other night, all that i can say is, if you deployed in fuels that thick and expect to live i wouldnt want to be on your crew. the shelter is a last chance for life option. it was never made too give you a force field from the effects of fire. it's only there to give you limited protection from radiant heat. the shelter instructions say you should put the shelter in an area clear of vegetataion. the vid clip showed shelters in a nice heavy patch of fuel.

shame on the media for only giving a damn about wildland firefighters after they are dead. shame on the govt. for not giving a damn about the people who work the line.

looks like my quick note got a little long. interested in your replys. stay safe and watch your back.


08/17 Hi Ab; Here's what careful international scene-watchers have read about the IL-76TD firefighting aircraft from Russia and the Forest Service's responses to it: www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/5089.phpl##13

MSNBC's Michael Moran called it "pride". Pride is the deadliest sin. Here's what was written last year: www.geocities.com/vadivale/tooproud.phpl

In my opinion, there's far too much hubris in aviation and in firefighting for the good of the communities and the environment we are called upon to protect.

At the rate the USFS is going, nothing's going global as the FAO wants it to www.fao.org/WAICENT/OIS/PRESS_NE/PRESSENG/2001/pren0113.php

It needs to go glbal and here's why: www1.unep.org/geo-text/0040.php (The Big Picture).

Cheers; John A.

08/17 fireguy8: We used Barricade in sevral trials at last fall's academy in Bastrop ,TX. Found it to work great. I have also used it extensively in industrial applications to prevent flash fires when burning/welding around heavily greased equipment. (and, NO, I don't sell the stuff.)


08/16 A bunch of historical photos were sent in that were part of a group of training photos. If anyone knows anything about where they were taken, date or photographer, please let us know. Note the aluminum hardhat and blue jeans in one of the helo photos. What kind of a bucket is that? Ship? Can anyone guess approximate year it was taken? And the CDF firefighter. No gloves ... is that a jacket or a sleeping bag? Fireshelter? Any guess on year? Photos posted on Fire6 and Heli4. Some pics of the Stream Fire on Fire6 also. Thanks contributors. Ab.
08/16 I just got this helo photo from a friend who is flying fires in Spain.


I put it on the Heli4 page. It's a far cry from dip sites in the American West, isn't it? Guess ya use what ya got. Ab.

08/16 Ab,

A month or so ago I remember reading an observation from Doug aka Moondoggie. In his observation he noted that in an AP photo, there were several minor safety violations. And although none of the infractions were that serious, they were part of a poor safety equation. Well I am looking at an AP photo of a supervisor on the Monument complex fire in Oregon talking into a radio with sleeves rolled up and no gloves. (This I could overlook since he is overhead!) But Ab,- NO HARDHAT! With smoke in the photo he was not apparently very far from the line.

As busy as it is out there, this is no time to be lax.

D.B. former shot from beantown

08/16 I'm back in town briefly. It's cooking out there. Good question what will happen when more crews demob and need a break. It's hot and fire is unpredictable. Seems there's less hurry up and wait this year, at least so far. People will need a break. We may not have enough support when people are on manditory R&R.

I overheard a conversation the other day as I passed a crew on my fire - that CDF fire people are working 1/3 more for 1/3 less pay. Is this true? How did this come to pass? Why isn't this public knowledge? I thought Davis supported firefighters. He was on the news the other night saying he did, at least so I was told. Was that just lip service? I'd sure appreciate it if someone could fill me in on what this is all about. I have friends in CDF, but they're off fighting fire.

BTW all you CFRers, thanks for the good help. And many thanks to the CDF air support folks, too. We all wear the same nomex, even if you get to have patches on yours.

08/16 I am trying to find out information about a 1931 forest fire around Priest River, Idaho and the 'bear paw' area.


08/16 Mr. Ab, Sir,

I have a suggestion that I wish the Forest Service would take notice of.

My brother is the captain of a Forest Service station in the Angeles National Forest. His engine and crew was sent out to Nevada and Northern California on August 7th. Neither his wife nor I have heard from him since and we have no way of knowing if he is at the same fire or may have been sent to another fire.

We wish there was a website that would list the engine numbers and station names of the fires that they are working on so that families could know where their loved ones are or have been sent to at any given time.

Whew, hope that all made sense. I would go to the chat room, but I am not sure I would be welcome there as I am not a fire fighter.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of Engine 19 and its crew, from the Angeles National Forest, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Thanks, and love the info on this site.

No "Sir's" here, PC, but we'll post your note and see if it gets a response. Glad you enjoy reading. Ab.

08/16 My name is Dennis and i am a 26 yr veteren of the fire service, i was wondering how a person could go about volunteering to go out west to help. Be it in a support role or on fire line, i have completed wildland fire training already. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
08/15 Fresh out of Boise on the evening news--

West Goes to Highest Fire Alert:
More than 20,000 firefighters are battling fires in 11 mostly western states. We're at preparedness level 5. Right now a lot of firefighters are on the line. Resources are stretched tight and will probably be even tighter when tours are up in a few weeks. We may need the military. Good to plan ahead...

Daredevil Fire Fighting:
An interview with Mike Apicello, veteran smoke jumper, who now works as the PIO for the Forest Service at the NIFC in Boise.

Military may be Called on to Fight Western Fires
And check out the gallery images.


08/15 That was an excellent report that CBS TV News did on the USDA Forest Service's approved standard issued fire shelters and the new fire shelters developed by Jim Roth and his Storm King Mountain Technology company. Those fire test pictures that were aired were worth a million words and proved that Jim Roth's fire shelters are far superior to the currently used USDA approved fire shelters that are mandatory PPE at all wildland fires and Rx fires. The question begs an answer as to why Jim Roth's fire shelters are not now being approved and issued by the USDA Forest Service?

One more item of similar note. There has been a gel developed called, Barricade Fire Stopping Gel. This stuff really works well and may be far superior to class A foams for fire suppression and exposure protection of structures at W/UI fires. The Barricade Gel company cannot get federal approval to use this proven firefighting tool at federally run fires. Why?

There seems to be something amiss with all of this.

Fire Guy 8

08/15 A previous entry mentioned a "swamp engine." I couldn't be sure but from the pic's it seemed like what we call a soft-track. I don't know how common this equipment is, but it is a long-time favorite in some parts of Florida. It is basically like a brush truck on wide tracks. The claim to fame is the weight distribution. We are taught in BFCT that the soft track can go anywhere a man can walk, (as far as how heavily it pushes on the ground.) I know the Everglades district is supposed to have two of these, I don't know how many others are around.

Also, on 8/9 Mike N. states that Wildland fire behaviour is predictable, but I would have been more comfortable if he had gone on to qualify that the best prediction is an educated guess. Didja ever notice how the weather service after years of jokes started giving rain prediction as a percent chance???? Thats because you can predict weather, (and likewise fire) only to a certain degree of certainty.

There are too may variables to form conclusions. You can predict fire behaviour perfectly in a controlled enviroment. This earth is far from such. We flatter ourselves to state otherwise. We observe 10 - 20 factors affecting weather and therefore fire behaviour, when there may be thousands of things going on. Yes fire behaviour is predictable, as a best guess.

My opinion,(Thanks for the forum,)
Flash in Florida

08/15 Received an interesting E-mail yesterday, but I don't know the date of the incident. Regardless, it shows some people can think on their feet.
> Subject: MDF - Blue Fire Engine Incident

> At about 1600 this date, a federal engine assigned to the Blue Fire (Blue
> lake south of Alturas, Warner Mountains) was cut off from leaving an area
> of the fire due to increased fire activity. The 3 person engine crew
> contacted Blue Air Attack which directed the engine to an open area. The
> Air Attack arranged for extraction of the crew by helicopter, which was
> accomplished. The crew members are safe at Alturas.

> NOPS received notice of a possible entrapment at 1641 hours. It was
> unknown what ground resource was involved. All available air tankers ( 13
> USFS and at least 2 S-2s) were diverted to the fire. This included
> several from both Oregon and Nevada. Blue Air Attack directed the tankers
> to drop on and near the engine, which probably was saved.

> Confirmation that the crew had been safely extracted was received at NOPS
> at 1710 hours.

> This is a reminder to be very aware of the fire situation, no matter what
> your assignment or perspective. All fuels are burning extremely well.

> Thankfully the crew recognized early enough that help was needed and made
> the contact. Thankfully also the Air Attack made the right moves.



May be the engine entrapment on the Modoc that Ol' Fire Dawg referred to yesterday as being one of the incidents that occurred recently. It's good help was handy, but Folks, just remember, we can't rely on air support to save our butts. Ab.

08/15 The West, from norCali to Washington and inland into Nevada and Idaho, is burning. We went to Preparedness Level 4 yesterday. Resources are tight and that's an understatemnt.

Check out the large fire map:

And the risky areas:
Drought Monitor Map.

Friends have been asking about fuel types and environment. Here are links to some sites that have photos. From there if you like, you can link to other info on the fires.

I really like the fire incident template that is being used by many. Last year photos were posted on team sites to a large degree. This year, photos and fire information are often being posted on a separate site related to the forest on which the fire is burning. Via the template, the same info is provided for each fire in the same format which makes viewing info a simpler process. I like what R5 is doing with providing info on the forest sites. Stutler's R6 team is doing a good job with reporting and archiving, too.

Here are some examples. Nice photos here:
Modoc Complex (Modoc NF)
Blue (Modoc NF)
Gap (Tahoe NF)
Trough (Mendocino NF)
Lakeview Complex (south central OR)
Fish (CA/NV west of Reno)
Stream (Plumas NF - contained)

Also Fire History 2001 in Yellowstone some nice maps and photos here. The standardized format makes browsing among fires simple. A fine record for an area that needs to burn. Also, a professional statement to the public that fire is taken seriously.

One R6 site that has been instrumental over the past two summers in archiving info on fires and raising consciousness that we need a record is www.wildlandfires.com/ (Its url is very similar to ours!) Once there, click on the region to find a list of fires and links. Last summer they listed links to many of the large fires that burned and to some of the smaller ones, as well. Cudos to this group for seeing the need to have an enduring record. As far back as 1999 on the Big Bar Incident, these guys were talking about creating a fire history on the web. (Hi Doug.) To view ourselves as professional and for the public to recognize us as professional, we must have a recorded history.

Thanks to Ab, too, for fostering the collection of historical photos.

Well, happy browsing. Be safe.
Mellie (from Five Waters! and thanks to all who have helped train me up!)

Mellie, you're welcome and thank you for this summary. Ab.

08/14 CBS Evening News did a great interview with Jim Roth on his fire shelter tonight. The news story is at:


The story states that "the Forest Service still isn't interested (in the Roth shelter). It refused a request last year to field test the fire shelter created by Roth. The National Interagency Fire Center told CBS News Tuesday that it is still developing parameters for testing." Still developing parameters? WHAT!

While our tech and dev folks are "developing parameters", Mr. Roth with the help of others has developed a far superior shelter, which as I stated in my message below "independent certification labs, various universities, and even the Forest Service have verified the data they’ve provided." Hello, is anybody listening?

"Firefighter Jane"

08/14 According to the Tanker pilots board a lead plane was sent home from a fire. Does anyone know what the cause was and who it was?


08/14 This may seem an odd question but I'm using the answer to illustrate a point about the need for personal consumption of water. First some background, a few weeks ago while camping at Lake Wenatchee State Park (WA) we attended a camp program on fire prevention. Part of the program included a crew of fire fighters who had worked at the 30-mile fire. One of the crew members showed us just what he carried in his back pack. And here's my question to you...I cannot remember if he said he had 4 or 6 quarts of water in his pack. Is there a standard amount of water that one would take when heading to the fire? Would that be expected to last all day or for many days?

On a different note, I must say how impressed I am with your web-site. It does a great job in supporting those wonderful men and women who put their lives on the line for the rest of us. The photos alone are an education in the hardships and dangers they face. I salute you all.

Thank you for your assistance.


I'm sure some ff will answer your question, Sara, about whether there's a standard amount. But if you take a look in the July archives, (07/10) the Professor has a suggestion for his wife in fire camp... Ab.

08/14 No new jobs announcements have come for the jobs page. But, Series 462 and 455 have been updated. Ab.
08/14 CDF has released announcements for exams for the following:
Fire Fighter II (Paramedic)
Fire Apparatus Engineer (Paramedic)
Deputy State Fire Marshal

Info regarding qualification and the exam process can be found on the California State Personnel Board website at www.spb.ca.gov

Once on the site, go to Exam Bulletins. You can either look under "Exams Posted This Week" or under "Exams By Department".

08/14 38 states have a "presumptive disability" law on the books specific to the job hazards of firefighting. The Federal Employee Compensation Act does not provide benefits based on presumptive illness for federal fire fighters.

HR - 2163 is legislation which will establish a disability presumption for federal fire fighters. There are lots of "new" employees starting careers with MEL. I have Lost two very good friends to Cancer this year, wildland firefighters who were 18 & 27 year employees. Please take a minute and read the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act.

thomas.loc.gov .

Give your Congressional Rep a call, ask them to support the Bill. Those of us who have 25-30 years of firefighting should waste no time contacting Congress. I just wish the Act had been in place for my friends and their families.


08/14 Good news for Jason Emhoff:



08/14 In the Coeur d Alene Idaho Press today was a large story about an injured FF....D.A. - 33 from Nordman Idaho, an experienced FF - who was injured Monday morning when hit by a falling snag. She was helied out to Holy Family Hospital and later released. She was with a six person crew doing mop up on the Squaw Valley Road fire in North Idaho. Her crew did initial first aid and carried her out to awaiting medical personnel. She was airlifted to Spokane. There are 6 new fires reported in the Priest River Idaho Dist. Another 10 fires are burning on DOL forests in the same area.


We wish her well. The rest of you look up, look down, look all around. If I recall correctly, more people are injured or die from falling snags than from fire. Anyone have those stats? Ab.

08/14 Greetings all

does anybody know of any pvt contracters that are looking for engine bosses or crew bosses. i am red carded for both and looking for some work. please let me know


08/14 To All Firefighters,

The season's just now picking up steam and we can't afford to get caught up in it to the point that we forget the basics. I know we're all runnin' and tired but let's take some time to tail-gate up with our crews for a refresher. Look at what's happened so far this year. And these are just some incidents that I've heard of and verified in my travels, I'm sure there are more. We all know about 30-Mile. How about shelters deployed on the Fish Fire out of Doyle, Ca, Two Firefighter's burned on the Peavine fire in Nevada, Engine crew entrapped on the Modoc, the last three all happened in 3 days. Let's take the time folks...I know we're tired and having fun all at the same time but none of us want another '94. Let's be careful out there.

Ol' Fire Dawg

08/14 A bit more info: The woman who was injured after a jump from battle mountain and flown to Boise is one of the alaska jumpers.

And in a separate incident a spotter out of Redding broke his leg during turbulence in-flight.


08/13 For Tahoe Terry,

The Winnemucca Rural truck got stuck in the mud, and was overrun by the fire. The truck was burned up, but the crew was safe. I'm sitting here @ my mom's watching the Clear Creek Complex burn right outside her window. It's dangerous out there folks...10/18 & LCES!!! Be careful out there.

Great Basin Fire Fighter

08/13 Is there any place that sells used gear such as Wildland pants, shirts, packs?


08/13 Greetings to All,

Ab do you or anybody else out there know of a web site that would pertain to Crews available for assignments ? What we hear around here is "we're on the board ", what board would that be ? Anyone have an idea or is this official speak for "I don't know ". Thanks in advance !


08/13 Re the Fire Shelter process: Found the attached in some files. I don't know who authored.

(See attached file: Fire Shelter Talking Points)

Old Fire Guy

Thanks Old Fire Guy. Ab.

08/13 Was heading west across NV on I-90 and the road was closed. Talking with some folks there, I heard a rumor that a Winnemucca Rural engine got burned over but that all are OK. Is this true?

Please be safe out there. It's burning all over the place. With the erratic fire behavior folks are at risk. Be very careful, especially for the new kids.

Tahoe Terry

08/13 Greetings,

The last I heard about the smoke jumper that broke her leg & hit her head is that they flew her to Boise, the bump on her head wasn't as "major" as they thought, and she is doing better. The leg is broken (femur...OUCH!) Her husband (also a jumper) is with her in Boise.

Best of wishes to her & her family for a speedy recovery.
From The Fire Family (no matter how they get to the fire)
Great Basin Fire Fighter (Engine Slug)

Thanks for the info. Ab.

08/13 There appears to be some confusion concerning the "Proteus" machine that was on the Valley Complex fires. The machine and crew that was on this fire (the one in the valley photo file) is not connected with RTTG.

If you need any further info (Dr. Mark, 7/31) concerning that particular machine and crew you can email to swilbert@imine.net. Thanks Star (8/03) for the Kudos.


08/13 Hi,

Do you accept business links for your website? I was thinking of the following site, which is mine. Thanks for your consideration.


I'll put it up here right now. Ab.

08/12 As soon as anyone hears how the NV jumper who broke a leg is doing, could you please fill us in?

A Winnemucca Wellwisher

08/12 i am writing to say thank you to the U.S.F.S. san bernardino strike team that stopped at red rock and north virginia on a wildland fire while enroute to the fish springs fire by doyle calif. the fire took place on saturday 8-11-01 just north of reno. i hope that your fellow crew member that got burned over will be alright. i talked to N.D.F. and they told me he was being flown to loma linda calif. for surgery on his hands. you guys can stop by anytime at my vol. fire. station and i owe you a cold one or a good meal. you helped save my house as well as helped my firefighters get the job done, and nobody asked you to help. thanks again!!!!!!! i hope you guys can access this message before you head back home and have a safe trip doing it too!!!

mike b.
peavine vol. fire chief

08/12 That lightning bust of last week led to some fires that are becoming larger and have informative web exposure.

Info on fires in the Modoc Complex northeastern CA can be viewed here:

The R6 ORCA IIMT team (Type II) which is managing part of the Modoc Complex has nice a website at
In my estimation, they did a great job at the beginning of the Big Bar Complex in '99. (Ab, please put their logo on the logo4 page. Thanks. Ab did.)

Info on fires burning in the Lakeview Complex in southeastern OR (just north of the Modoc) can be viewed here:
The slideshow gallery shows the topography and fuel type of this part of the country and the extensive air support used.


PS. If Boise is only providing the sit report as a "snapshot" for the WO managers, then they need a reality check. Everyone in fire who I know reads the SIT every morning early - including weekends - and prefers non-pdf format. We're in the internet age, folks. Is there another Mr. Ego in charge of the SIT or is it simply a matter of too few resources? If more computer support is needed to do the sit report early and in html format, please let us know. I'd be happy to contact my congress people to get that support.

08/12 Here is a historical photo for the collection. The Serna fire in 1934 on Picuris Peak - Carson National Forest, burned 1800 acres.


Thanks, BD. I put that one on the Fire6 page also. Ab.

08/12 Here's a photo of the Fish Fire Column. Taken from a residence in Portola, a town in the eastern Sierra (Plumas NF).


I put it on the Fire6 page. Ab.

08/12 Hello all: I received a very thought provoking note from a person I fully respect, and I know he wouldn't me sharing it with other like minded individuals that truly care about fire programs and the PEOPLE. Here it is:
After High School my daughter came to me and told me she was applying for a summer position in fire and was wanting to take fire school (S-130/S-190). At the time I thought it was a great idea for her to become a chip of the old father’s block. But as time wore on I evaluated the thoughts of my daughter joining the ranks of firefighting, the same time thousands of others were joining. Was she going to get the proper training? Who was going to give her this training? Who was going to take her on her first fire? Who was going to look after her welfare? A million questions ran through my head. I know for a fact that there were several people that I did not want her going out with. Bottom line is that I just didn’t trust them. It dawned on me that I had to answer some really hard questions myself. Of all the fire courses that I had put on over the past 18 years, had I given good instruction and applied the proper training? Had I ever mis-lead someone in a training course? Was I the right instructor who should be training these individuals? Have I ever signed someone’s task book before they were ready? Have I ever hurried someone up the ladder or gave someone less training to get them through the hoops? Only to find out later that this individual is now taking my daughter on their crew to a fire. It was looking to me as if there was no one qualified enough to take her out (in my mind). Not long after fire school the news was out that the fire community had lost several firefighters in the Pacific Northwest. Some of them were rookie firefighters with very little training and little experience. What kind of training did they receive? Who trained them? Who was looking after their welfare? Several things came out of this little brain storming of mine.
  1. Give it your all and I mean everything when it comes to training. Don’t do it hap hardily just to get people through the course.
  2. Make sure when you sign someone’s task book that they are fully qualified.
  3. Supervisors, remember that every individual you supervise, is someone else’s son or daughter. They have the same questions and concerns that I do. I realize that I cannot go on every fire to make sure my daughter is being properly trained and given safe assignments. So I have to trust you in the decisions you make. That you have been properly trained and have more than adequate experience and knowledge.

I can honestly say looking back over the years I have been in the fire organization that I have always given it my all when it comes to training. I have always taken care of the people who work for me as if they were my own son or daughters. The question I will leave with you is "who will you trust" to take your daughter on the fire line?


Also -- In answer to Jim -- when I worked at NICC -- the sit report needed to be out by 0530 on weekdays as an info tool for the Washington D.C. offices. So....on the weekends, when they are not necessarily working, it comes out later. Originally the report was used as the "factual straightforward scoop to the upper management." Now -- everyone else uses it as well (which is good!) But that is what I believe is still the reason for the delayed weekend reports.

Cache Queen

08/12 From Firescribe, more info on the two incidents:


www.appeal-democrat.com/081201/081201Wildfires.shtml (info at the end regarding the medical status of the burned firefighter)

Further clarification from Firescribe and Ab. It's our understanding that the Missoulian article describes only TWO current incidents, the 2-shelter deployment on the Fish Fire (firefighters from Tahoe NF working near Doyle) and the firefighter with serious burns (who stopped to help near Reno). We add our voices to the "heads up" request made by Beigefoot and wish our burned brother a speedy recovery.

08/12 Heads Up, Everyone,

It was a bad day for all concerned here on the eastern side of the sierras, had a shelter deployment on the Fish Fire near Doyle, CA, and had two federal firefighters burned on a 5 acre fire just north of Reno. Early word is that both incidents are being attributed to fire whirls in heavy fuels. More information will be forthcoming on the Sierra Front IDC web site, and a national investigation team is supposedly been activated for the deployments on the Fish fire.

Just drives home the point that its just not going to be the big ones that can get you. Heads up and stay safe everyone.


08/12 Hi Ab,

I would like the complement you on a very interesting page. I'm a rural fire-fighter from Queensland Australia. I've just spent a few hours surfing your page and its links and found it easy to navigate with quality content. Your letter in 'Ab Speaks" says a lot. The content on "They said" is an insight into the background feelings for your contributors and has many similarities to the page I read here in Australia (www.maguires.com/Southeasters/index.php)
I will recommend your page to my friends.
Keep up the good work.

John Murphy

Thanks for the recommendations, John, and thanks for writing in. Ab.

08/12 In response to "Vinnie"

I agree that a huge ego has retired. I find it odd mr. ego has found himself the Program Chair of a Wildland Fire Safety Conference. This conference is sponsored by: International Association of Wildland Fire, Interior West Fire Council, USFS F&AM, NWCG, Northern Rockies Coordinating Group, Montana DNR&C, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, MTDC, Missoula County Fire Protection Association, and The University of Montana.

As you open up the brochure for the conference there is a "Call for Papers for the Wildland Fire Safety Conference. Papers and posters with the following focus areas are being sought: Staying Safe on the Fireline (LCES, Fire Shelters, Avoidance, etc.)...." To submit a paper you had to send an abstract by 6/15 to none other than. Guess who? The program chair to screen. I hope there was a group of individuals or panel that gave fair weight to all papers. There are some good people at UM (mainly Ronald Wakimoto) that I hope assisted.

Point being that even in retirement, a political person's ego can still hinder what goes on unless the real ground pounders all become part of the solution. The time has long passed to ask or as "Firefighter Jane" did, to make employee suggestions. Her suggestions began 2 years after shelters were a requirement...still nothing done to this day. So all that read this site, wake up. Don't leave the work to a handful. It would be quicker, I hope, if a mass of people responded.


08/11 For sawmonkey:

Some of the GACCs post a sit500 on their websites. In the Northwest they include it in their "Morning Shared Resources Briefing" at www.or.blm.gov/nwcc/nwcc-reports/amreport.php

The list of GACC websites is at www.fs.fed.us/fire/reports.shtml


Thanks Kel. Sawmonkey, we have a link to the fs.fed.us/fire site Kelly mentions on the links page under "news" www.wildlandfire.com/links.php. We also have links to the GACCs along with links to the Incident Management Team websites which can be accessed via the links page www.wildlandfire.com/docs/IIMT.php

08/11 Sit Report

Does anyone know why the sit report comes out later on the week ends? Is it because the fires are kicking back because they know it's Saturday? Do the fires get more intense later in the day because it's Saturday? Inquiring minds want to know.


08/11 does anyone out there know the link to the sit500. it shows the crews availability each day. cant seem to find it anywhere.


08/10 The Jobs page, Series 462 and Series 455 pages are updated. Ab.
08/10 Readers, in response to my request for historical photos, the Brown family has sent in a collection of 17 smokejumping pics from the early 1950s. I put them on their own page - Brownie's Smokejumping Memoirs - with links to a description of "Brownie's" smokejumping career and info on the photos on the description page. We Abs want to thank the family for sharing these wonderful historical photos and some little vignettes of smokejumper history. Ab.

This is how it begins:

My father's name is Leo Keith Brown (his nickname was Brownie in the jumpers). His first summer out of high school (1947 - Nampa, ID) he got a job with the Forest Service working in the McCall jumper base kitchen. The next summer ('48) he was hired as a jumper (not quite the experience level required today!). He jumped out of McCall in 1948, served in the Navy in 1949-1952, and then jumped again out of McCall 1953-1956 while he was in college. I believe he worked a fire or two with Wag Dodge, but he didn't know anyone else at Mann Gulch. Pop was promoted to Squad Leader in 1954. After graduation from college, he was offered a job with the Forest Service. With one son already and four more to come, he accepted a higher paying job with the Civil Service Commission.

He always followed the wildland firefighting profession with keen interest, particularly the jumpers, of course. He was very eager to read the report on Storm King when I was finally able to pry a copy loose from the office, but was completely disgusted by what he saw as a whitewash by higher-ups. As he lay on his deathbed, my brothers and I took turns reading to him from books about smokejumping he had collected over the years. He passed away July 7, 1999. He was the finest man I've ever known.

I had never seen most of these photos until after he died. A lot of them were old and damaged. I've cleaned them up as best I can. While he was alive, I'm pretty sure he'd have been pissed at me for sending pictures of him to be pasted on the internet, but I don't think he'll mind now.

My mother thinks most of the photos are from the '53' or 54 season. I've listed what I know about each.

For more, view the photos or read the photo descriptions.
08/10 It is my hope that many things will be better now that a major ego has retired. I know for a fact that Mr. Ego blocked some new safety items from USFS personnel by placing unneeded testing and requirements on the product makers.... As a person who knows it ALL, how could someone develop something without consulting Mr. Ego??....


08/10 Mike,

I agree....but conversely if an "old guy" HAS been sharing their knowledge does it make sense to take them out of the fireground? Many are being shut out simply because of their age and the fact that they would not be entitled to a full pension upon mandatory retirement age for firefighters. I believe a great many would be more than happy to accept a prorated pension based on their number of years of service upon reaching mandatory retirement age. What happens now if a firefighter quits, is fired or leaves the profession for any reason prior to a full term of service? Aren't they provided with a prorated pension?

Look, I am not talking about creating a geriatric fire corps, simply not "drawing the line" at 35 or 45 when it comes to hiring. This is creating an experience and safety gap that will persist for the next 20 years. For the fire suppression agencies who insist that firefighter safety is their primary concern this would seem to be a major blunder. Of course many who give lip service to this credo only really care about either keeping their current job or advancing their careers. I believe the current fire shelter is a "shining" example of the fact that for many at the top firefighter safety is definitely NOT their first priority!

How on earth is it a private individual has created a more effective fire shelter when there are people on the USFS payroll whose job supposedly includes developing better safety equipment for firefighters? One would think that after Storm King someone in the WO would have asked the question "Could a better fire shelter be constructed of materials developed since the current shelter was produced?" I know I did...apparently others outside the WO did as well. Why is it that the USFS, BIA, and BLM have not rushed in to help develop any shelter that shows promise. The answer I fear is cost. Replacing the current and probably obsolete shelter would cost millions. And unfortunately...if you can be relatively assured that you can always hang the primary responsibility on the dead firefighter (as is always done) a firefighters life is relatively cheap. Its' the same relative cost based decision that Ford made when it decided not to spend the $7 that would have made the Pinto less susceptible to fireball in a rear collision. There is one important difference...Ford paid dearly. The government and its' officials cannot be held liable for firefighter deaths even if negligence could be proven.

I look at it this way. If your child is in a boat and cannot swim you make them wear a life vest. This is so they can survive if they fall overboard. If you really care about your child's safety you don't buy the cheapest vest you can...you buy the best one. If however you just want to avoid those embarrassing questions if your child drowns and deflect criticism for not doing enough to safeguard them, then the cheapest is "good enough".

Nuff said.

08/10 From Firescribe:

The Trough Fire near the community of Stonyford on the Mendocino NF:
and another good one:

A fire near French Gulch (west of Redding just north of Hwy 299 at the west end of Whiskeytown Lake):

And, in Montana, here's a winner:

08/10 Here are a few pics of the 30 Mile fire on the Okanogan N.F. you might find interesting. They were taken from H3 which was on the eastern edge of the fire.

30 mile North is the north part of the fire, and 30 mile South is the south part of the fire.

30 mile origin shows where it started, and the large version of the origin is a larger pic. You can see where it started, then crowned then ran up the side of the valley. The deployment site is at the lower left side where the river sandbar can be seen by the road.

Apoligies for 30blowup it is a scan of a picture of a polaroid taken by Goat Peak lookout located to the west.

signed, AND THERE I WAS....

Thanks for those. I put the four photos on the new ThirtyMile Fire Page. I didn't post the scan of the polaroid as the quality was so poor. Perhaps someone else will send in a photo of the blowup.

08/10 In response to "Firefighter Jane" and Jim Roth,

Both of you are right on target. I know for a fact that what Firefighter Jane says is true. There is a little paper trail involved in employee suggestions. I can not imagine the mind set of someone who is worried about the "logistical problems of major magnitudes." Why would we send our troups out without the best technology/PPE available? ARROGANCE!

Why should wildland firefighters be dictated by an ego or arrogance? There are many rules of engagement to follow to stay reasonably safe. I can see many people would deny the fact that they would ever be in a deployment situation. What if though? Would you not want the best possible PPE or shelter? We cannot control the actions of everyone on the fireline. So, what if for some fluke reason someone else unknowingly puts you in harms way. Would you not want a superior fire shelter? Lets just imagine a one in a million chance. Which would you want? MTDC or Storm King Technology fire shelter?

Just think about the technological advances since the creation and improvement of the current fire shelter: Numerous space shuttle missions, computer technological advances, the internet we use to write these messages, palm pilots, cellular phones, GPS, GIS, lazer printers, and these are only a few that we use and know. Why not a technology advance in our fireshelter?

I would encourage all to check out the Storm King website. Mr. Roth is trying to be part of a solution. An old saying comes to mind, "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!" Mr. Roth knows first hand what it's like to lose a loved one. I am sure that he can tell you what goes through the minds of family that fallen firefighters leave behind every day! Mr. Roth's only quest here is to try to prevent anyone from having to suffer the lose he has. That's reality not ego/arrogance.

So, how can people become part of the solution? Mr. Roth do you know of anyone wildland firefighters could talk to? Is there a contact at OSHA that might want input from GROUND TROUPS about the fire shelters? Would the contact for OSHA be at a state or federal level? Is there anything that the independent firefighter unions can do to help organize a response to speed up the process in the name of safety? Any contacts would surely be welcomed, only in the name of SAFETY!


Abercrombie adds: www.stormkingmtn.com

08/10 Glad to hear that everybody was safe! But, I would be interested in any photo's or information on the water tender, the make and model, year of mfg., and how it made it through the burn over.

As you already probably know, we do make fire curtains, fuel line wrap and hyd. hose protection for engines, tenders, tractors, dozers, etc. to protect the operators from the flames. We are always trying to improve our products from "lessons learned". Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Be safe,

Jim Roth
Storm King Mountain Technologies
2311 W. Silver Lake Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90039

It's not clear that the water tender was burned over. It may have been more of a prudent defensive move to get the driver out. If anyone knows, would you please fill us in. Ab.

08/09 The Trough Fire on the Mendo went from 1200 to around 8000 acres today. Not much wind just lots of very dry fuel. We lost a cabin and a barn. A water tender made a wrong turn, got headed up a road he didn't intend to travel, ended up on a mountain top and was plucked off by helicpoter. Carlson's Type II team has done a great job. Studebaker's Type I team is taking over tomorrow.

Be safe All, Stay hydrated.
NorCal Tom

08/09 Another lightning link sent in by Donna, Kelly and Guy. After testing by some faithful readers, I put it up on the links page under weather. Ab.


08/09 Here is a piece of equipment I don't see on your site. They called it a swamp engine. Don't know all the details, but it was from Minnisota, maybe someone can fill us in. Photgraphed in Lake City, FL.


Thanks. Put 'em on the Equipment2 Page. Also put up a slew of new logos from the US and abroad on Logos4, and a pic of a pair of PB4Ys at Grand Junction onAirTanker3. Ab.


Dispatch Dude,
Wildland fire behavior is predictable. But in order to predict fire behavior one must understand fire behavior and how it will react when influenced by weather and topography. Fire Order # 3 states Base all actions on current and expected fire behavior. Now in order to comply with this fire order I have to make a prediction on what the fire behavior is going to be. These predictions must be made before we engage with the fire and continously through out the shift. (and predicting fire behavior does not gaurantee the fire will only last one shift)

I agree it takes experience, and understanding to make accurate predictions on the fire line. A good fire line supervisor (engine captain / acting captain, crew supervisor / forman) should be able to make a more accurate longer duration prediction than your computer. Computer models are good for the planning meeting but on the line it takes a person with knowledge to interput what they are seeing.

This does not mean that we must keep all of the old folks around. If someone has been working fire for 20 - 30 years and has not shared their knowledge and taught those around them, giving them two more years will not change anything.

Mike N

08/09 Fireronin,

Your post had some good points, so I felt compelled to respond or maybe just ramble a bit. I agree with your assessment of the "predictability horizon" of wildland fire and your comment on how the models work well when all the variables are in a box. Fighting wildland fire is indeed a "moment to moment" experience which is why a critical skill a firefighter needs to acquire is the ability to gather and process information very quickly and make rational decisions sometimes, literally, "on the run" in the face of uncertainty.

I also concur with your statement that, "no computer model can predict what the fire, you are working on, will do in the next 30 minutes." In fact a computer model can never accurately predict what a wildland fire is going to do. As they say, "all models are wrong, but some are useful."

Recently a freelance writer who was working up an article for a science-oriented periodical approached me. Someone who believed I had a wealth of experience with the various predictive models and their applications introduced this individual to me and I reluctantly agreed to chat with him. As I recall, the working theme of the article involved the use of computer technology in predicting wildland fire behavior and he seemed fairly stoked to sit down with a practitioner. His enthusiasm waned a bit when I stated, up front, that I rarely, if ever, relied upon computer spread models for fire behavior predictions, nor, I opined, should anyone else. It went downhill from there.

I emphatically believe that best processor resides on ones shoulders and if the hard drive is loaded with years of wildland and prescribed fire behavior observations, one has an invaluable analytical tool at ones immediate disposal.

In one of my more passionate sermons to new and promising fire fighters I talk about taking time to look at what every fire is doing. Look back at the line of fire just applied with the drip torch. What’s carrying a fire? What’s affecting it, pushing it, why did it do that, etc, etc. Observe, deliberate and cache the knowledge. I urge them to make that a habit, a routine. Intellectualizing the fire. I believe this is part of the mental conditioning you alluded to.

To be able to recognize a potential situation before it develops allows one to pre-formulate several potential courses of action. This is how one is able to "out think a fire" or think out in front of it. This then allows one to make good decisions at critical times with what seems to be little forethought. When in fact there was a good deal of processing going on both consciously and subconsciously clear up to the decision.

As much of wildland fire fighting is mental as physical, which is one reason for its appeal and why it attracts the best and the brightest from the community and why a loss is such a staggering tragedy.


08/09 The Trough Fire on the Mendocino NF, four miles west of Stoneyford, CA, is blowin' and goin'. Brush fields, hot and dry. Country made to burn every once in a while. This area is not too far from the location of the Cabbage and the Franklin Fires we had last year. Be safe people. Watch those up and down canyon winds.

NorCal Tom

08/09 In response to "Firefighter Jane" concerning the problems with the current fire shelter, I want to say that you are right on target with the problems that we pointed out to the USDA Forest Service as early as November 30, 1994. This occurred just five months after the South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, with no improvement to the fire shelters in the field as of this date! Our fire shelter product line solve's the problems that Firefighter Jane so astutely pointed out.

Since then, we have been improving our fire shelter designs, making them lighter, smaller in size, and decreasing the survivability/cost to get the government authorities interested in our product. We are continuing to provide all information, prototype materials and full scale fire shelters to the USDA Forest Service, whenever requested for testing. All of our information, materials, and fire shelters that are field tested have been given to the Forest Service at no cost to the government. No government funding, no grants, no venture capitalists have been funding our efforts, only family savings and the goodwill of firefighting friends.

We finished our fire shelter development effort in December of 2000, and offered it to the USDA Forest Service for the year 2000 fire season. The response was to test our fire shelters for the formulation of an NFPA standard that will take 3-5 years to adopt, and to undergo ASTM tumble tests for durability and abrasion. Please note that the existing USDA Forest Service fire shelter has not been subjected to, nor let alone ever passed, any of the types of tests that the Department is imposing on Storm King Mountain Technologies improved fire shelters. Our offer to get fire shelters in the field for the 2001 fire season, was met with silence.

Although we will continue to support ANY federal agency in advancing improvements in firefighter safety, firefighters can no longer have Storm King Mountain Technologies continue efforts at a government bureaucracy snails pace.

Firefighters put their lives on the line everyday! You need a choice of a fire shelter that works in radiant heat environments, or one which will give you a fighting chance of surviving a burn over. More information to follow!

Be safe,

Jim Roth
Storm King Mountain Technologies

08/09 Hi All,

The bill to raise the mandatory retirement for firefighters to age 57 (which passed the house on January 30) passed the Senate on August 3 and was cleared for the White House. A message on the Senate action was sent to the House on August 6.

So, now we wait for the President's signature. Once it is signed, I will request the Department to raise the maximum entry age for primary (rigorous) firefighters to 37.

As soon as it is signed into law, the mandatory retirement age will be changed. You will not have to wait for OPM to put out some regulations regarding the change.

I will keep you posted.


08/09 Okay, there's a lot of talk about not having experienced crewfolk and management folks, OH WAHHH, quit the whining....Why are the USFS and the DOI wanting to contract Fire Management personnel from Argentina and Austrailia? They said this on the 31st of July to the Senate House Sub-Commitee (Dale Bosworth, Chief of USFS and Tim Hartzell, DOI-Wildland Fire Coordination Director). A few weeks ago, I wrote referring to the wrongful applications of the Pack Test. Hey folks, this really needs to be checked and nipped in the bud. My intent is not to ire folks here, but...Among several people, I know of 2 extremely experienced, safe, intelligent Battalion Chiefs who've been basically reduced in their ranks to "Water-boy and Errand Girl". How disrespectful and what a slap in the face. A new replacement comes every 3 months...brilliant.

Now our most experienced Fire Management folks here have 3 months experience-District Ranger and 5 months experience-DFMO and he's already looking to transfer. The 2 BC's (They have been here for 13 years the other for 30 years, their whole full-time permanent careers)are for one reason or another unable to take and or pass the Pack Test. They can do EKG stress tests and the step tests just fine. I wonder where the funds will come from to pay for folks to come here from other countries to supervise, since "Experienced folks aren't here". HMMMM....What a crock-o-crapola and blatant lie... Hmmm... where's the $$$ paid into retirement by "Experienced, safe and intelligent folks who can't pass the Pack Test" going to, since they'll no longer qualify for their retirement and must be moved into non-retirement covered positions? Did I hear the word AUDIT on C-Span? I sure hope it's a financial one instead of a service oriented one... Either way though..if there is mismanagement of funds or disservice to employees...it needs to come out...Some folks just cannot pass this 3 year old test which has proven deadly and injurious itself, time and time again...

A few weeks ago, someone rebutted my concerns of the Pack Test by saying the "safest" people are the ones that have taken and passed this test. Well, no 2 fires are alike-ever! There is no place for complacency, ever...Brawn is not always experienced and/ or intelligent. Intelligence and experience is not always accompanied with brawn..(This was my point, some folks just don't get it.) The fire season is just starting to pop along really good now...May everyone be safe, stay healthy and hydrated. Change your socks often as well and watch out for snakes and ticks...

P.S. I think the investigating team of the 30 Mile Fire do a mighty fine job...as do all of you other fire and aviation folks...

08/08 I have posted the ThirtyMile Fire Memorial Logo on our Miscellaneous Photo Page.

I had to take a look at the historical photos at the US Dept Agriculture site after SB wrote in reminding us of the link. Thanks SB. Many people do not know the site exists. To publicize this resource a bit, I converted to jpg 6 of the pics that show changes in our firefighting equipment and put them on the Equipment Page with appropriate descriptions and links. Many thanks to the photographers who took the photos and to those who contributed them to this USDA Forest Service archive.

If any of you who come from wildland firefighting families have such photos among your family memorabilia, please consider making the pics available to the public in digital form at the FS site or at wlf.com. The smokejumper photos of his dad that Bullwacker sent in for the Airborne FF Page fits this category. These are an invaluable record of days gone by.

I put two of the best lightning links on the Links Page, Weather. Thanks All.

Stay safe and hydrated out there in the heat.

08/08 Thanks to "MB", "Kinks", "Tree" and "Donna" for the great lightning URLs!

Mike from Arroyo Grande

08/08 I started fighting fire the 2nd year that fire shelters were made a requirement. We didn’t do any actual training deployments as there were not enough shelters, and they were expensive to replace. I remember talking with the more experienced firefighters about shelters. They told me they didn’t trust this thing, to not count on it, and they said if they got cut off from a safety zone they would turn around and take a deep breath to end it quickly. I carried this with me throughout my career – to not depend on the fire shelter.

When we finally started deployment training, I was concerned that there was only one size for fire shelters. I knew I would have problems holding the shelter down due to my small size. In order to get a tight seal around the edges I have to pull the shelter around me, which causes the shelter to lose it’s pup tent shape. This means smaller firefighters have almost no pocket of breathable air and the shelter material is in contact with their entire body, which we know from training, is not supposed to happen. I also thought that maybe taller firefighters would have difficulty deploying due to their height. This was confirmed when I spoke to taller firefighters. They have to somewhat curl and fold themselves so as not to put a head or boot through the top or bottom of the shelter. They too have direct contact with the shelter material.

At the time the solution seemed quite simple – three sizes of shelters are needed. I talked to the fire managers I worked for and they recommended sending an employee suggestion, which I did. I didn’t expect the reaction I received from the technology and development folks. I was told that “this creates logistical problems of major magnitudes”, “occasionally 2-3 people have had to occupy a single shelter”, and the problems with getting the “right size shelter to the right size people”. What are the “logistical problems of major magnitudes”? God forbid I ever have to get into a shelter, but if I do, I’ll need another person in the shelter with me to help hold it down and keep the pup tent shape, and taller firefighters can’t fit more than one person. We get the right size nomex pants and shirts don’t we?

After numerous attempts with employee suggestions through the years, that included design changes, I got nowhere. In most cases I never received a response. It also occurred to me that temperatures of flames in wildland fires average about 1600 degrees but the current shelter material starts to break down around 475 degrees. Might be a problem - but I figured if such an improved material existed I was sure the folks at tech. and dev. would look into it. Through the years they’ve added straps and flaps, which were supposed to help firefighters of all sizes in holding the shelter down but sizing is still a problem. The most recent focus over the last few years has been the plastic cover but no work to my knowledge has been done on improving the shelter material itself.

There have been success stories with the shelter and some not so successful. The training states that more than 250 lives have been saved - with great emphasis, but there is no detail on what happened when the shelter did not protect firefighters. This information is needed as part of the training.

In 1994, the entire wildland fire community was shaken when 14 of our best were killed at Storm King. The out come showed that the firefighters did not follow all of the 10 standard fire orders and 18 watch out situations, that poor decisions were made, that maybe if they had dropped their gear and ran they would have made it, that there were no adequate weather forecasts, etc. Most of those firefighters attempted to deploy their shelters. Even if they had been successful in deploying their shelters the temperatures of the flames that hit them well exceeded the capability of the shelter material to survive. In better deployment sites the shelters were successful, but in the areas where firefighters were trapped with poor deployment sites the fire shelters failed or would have failed.

Last month four more of our finest died on the 30 Mile Incident. Rumors of lack of experience, poor decision-making, and no helicopter bucket drops because of the ESA are coming out of the woodwork. I’m not going to speculate until the investigation comes out. But, I can say that a group of firefighters pulled their shelters, laid down on the ground as they were trained (maybe not all in the best locations - I’ll wait for the investigation), hoped and prayed (maybe even believed) that their fire shelters would protect them, but four firefighters lost their lives because their fire shelters failed. Yes, there obviously were other significant factors that led up to the deployment but at least four fire shelters failed and four firefighters died.

In 1994, Jim Roth, the brother of one of the fallen firefighters from Storm King, turned his grief into action. He couldn’t understand why we had a shelter that could not protect firefighters from average flame temperatures of a wildfire. In 1994, he started a company that he named “Storm King Mountain Technologies” in honor of the 14 firefighters that lost their lives on Storm King. Mr. Roth organized a team of firefighters, scientists, and engineers to improve fire shelters and PPE. Their goal is to “make the best protective equipment for firefighters so that when all else fails, (i.e., tactics, management or Mother Nature), a firefighter has a fighting chance of survival”.

I’ve seen the video of testing that was done in Canada, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the superiority of the material of the Roth shelter. I know one of the firefighters that worked with Mr. Roth on this study as well as others. He has attested to the superiority of the Roth shelter over our current shelter. This firefighter is a man that is one of the most respected in the wildland fire community.

Now you would think that our tech. and dev. folks would embrace the work of this group – NO. They have not embraced Mr. Roth; in fact, it seems to me that they’ve made every attempt to discourage Mr. Roth. They claim that the performance data for the Storm King Technology shelter is questionable. However, independent certification labs, various universities, and even the Forest Service have verified the data they’ve provided. Storm King Technology has been publishing their findings for over 6 years. I’d like to see the test data on both the current shelter and Mr. Roth’s shelter.

I’ve heard that tech. and dev. says it weighs too much. Mr. Roth trimmed the weight (and aren’t we supposed to carry 45-lb packs anyways???), I would carry the extra pound or two. I’ve heard that tech. and dev. says it’s too expensive. I’ll pay the difference for the superior shelter myself (which we shouldn’t have to do), as it seems there is a limit to the price for safety. Different sizes of shelters aren’t needed for Mr. Roth’s shelter so there wouldn’t be a “logistical problem of major magnitudes”. Mr. Roth’s shelter doesn’t need the protective cover so the existing problem with the cover wouldn’t exist.

It appears that any attempt to recommend change to the fire shelter by anyone other than the technology and development folks is met with resistance. Why?

I did visit the tech. and dev. website and they’ll do some testing starting August through October on “other fire shelters” with the results presented in Jan 2002 - finally. We’ll be watching.

"Firefighter Jane"

08/08 Ab,

I found this one last night while readin bout the 30 mile fire...just go read some of this stuff, maybe it should be required reading for "members"??



08/08 Here is one site for lightning strikes from Medford, OR, to Fresno, CA. It has links to other info.



08/08 Ab,

Ditto on that lightning link, it used to work really well. I think that this one is actually better.

LightningStorm.com | Free Lightning Explorer

Here's another useful related link.



08/08 The Indian Springs Fire is located near Bonanza Oregon and the Oregon Department of Forestry has primary protection responsibility. The Indian Springs Fire did burn some small portions of BLM and FS lands, a ODF Area Team is in command of the fire working closely with the Fremont Forest/Lakeview District BLM. Last evening @ approximately 2030 hrs, a contract engine (GHR) was returning to ICP from the fire line. While on the county road, and near base camp the Engine quit running (there are reports that the Engine had problems for several hours prior to this event). In an attempt to get the Engine running and into base camp, a 51-year old opened the hood, and was pouring gasoline into the carburetor while the 2nd person was attempting to start the engine. There was a "flash" and knocked the 51-year old from the engine compartment, and on fire. He spilled additional gasoline from the container, which created more fire. The 2nd person, using a fire extinguisher and rolling the 51-year old, extinguised the fire. Fortunately there was ALS available at the Incident. The patient was first taken to Klamath Falls and then to Portland. He has 2nd degree burns on appromimately 20% of his body (mainly arms, hands). The prognosis is good, expect to be in the hospital for 2 weeks, possible surgery afterwards. There are RUMORS of a burn over on this incident, this did not occur. This info. comes from the SOFR on the ODF IMT, there will be a followup investigation by ODF.

Joe Stutler

08/07 A firefighter on the Indian Springs Fire just east of Klamath Falls OR was burned over 20% of his body when his engine stalled and caught fire. The story is here:



08/08 I seem to recall you placed a lightning link somewhere, Ab. The lightning page on your Intellicast link has been out of service for some time. Was that the one, or was there another? Anyway - anyone have a current, good, URL for lightning strikes? Some years ago when I was in the San Luis Obispo ECC (CDF-County Fire), we had an ALDS page that was fantastic, but no one knows how to access it anymore..........

CDFMike from Arroyo Grande, CA, USA...

I took it off the links page today. It was the Intellicast Lightning page and hasn't worked since I put it up. I'll keep an eye on the intellicast site to see if it returns. In the meantime, anyone have a good lightning strike site? Ab.

08/07 Anyone know where Pete's Cottonwood Fire page moved to? The link to it on the links page under miscellaneous gives a 404 message. Check out the other miscellaneous pages there - the Helishot Photo Album, Firegirl's World, Tom's Place and the US Dept Agriculture site with the huge sized black and white ".gifs" of historical firefighters. Kinda neat.


Readers anyone know what happened to Pete's? Did he take it down? Ab.

08/07 I listened to an interesting news dialogue on wildland firefighters and recent events. One of the reporters focused on the issue of experience among firefighters, and more specifically, those involved in the 30-mile incident.

He asked for clarification of what was meant when a young firefighter was said to have a "year of experience," or in a particular case "3 years of experience." The expert (and this person was very accurate and well versed -obviously a firefighter at one time) made it clear that the agencies often use the word "year" or "years" differently than what most people consider to be a year. That in reality a great many wildland firefighters work for 2.5 to 4 months per year. He actually stated a statistical average for the last five years. So that when a person is said to be a 3-year firefighter, it could very well mean that he/she has two seasons (of 3 or 4 months) and is just beginning the third.

Now, don't go and get all ballistic on me, I realize that many of you work 6 months or more each year (myself included), but that's not necessarily the norm. And with a huge number of newer, younger, and therefore less-experienced firefighters on the line, we need to be careful.

I know that it took me three seasons to get my first true year (AKA 12-months) of firefighting in the early-80's.

I guess my point is that those who are older, more experienced, and with actual years of experience should make themselves useful and available.

Be safe this "year" everyone. The worst may be yet to come.

R4 "Helirapper"

08/07 CK,

We can predict nearly anything, including how "fire" will act, to a point. Unfortunately, fire, like weather does not have a long "predictability horizon" in that in only a short amount of time "chaos" will distort our predicted behavior into unpredicted behavior. With weather the 95% predictability horizon is about 12 hours and the 50% horizon is about 24 hours. A fire in a box in which oxygen and fuel are limited is considered highly predictable in that its' 95% horizon is about as long as the fuel will last. Wildfire has a MUCH shorter horizon. If I recall correctly the most recent computer models for wildfire have a 95% horizon of about 30 minutes and a 50% horizon of about 60 minutes. This is assuming of course that all the information input is accurate and current which is a near impossibility. Fighting wildfire is a moment to moment experience and if your cannot see the fire yourself you need to have an accurate remote observation every 10-15 minutes to be safe. Then you need to accurately interpret the remote observation all the while hoping that the observer has enough experience to accurately report what they see.

I think a lot of the discussion on "inexperience" playing a part in the recent deaths of four of our comrades hinges mainly on each persons definition of what constitutes an "experienced" firefighter, crew leader, supervisor, etc. No computer model can predict what the fire you are working on will do in the next 30 minutes and neither can a human brain that hasn't had the "experience" to program in how fire behaves and what constitutes an unacceptably dangerous position in relation to fire.

I have watched the experience level in MN drop so dramatically in recent years that in many cases it is unacceptably dangerous for anyone to be on a fireline in certain types of fuels. I am afraid that I am also watching it happen as fast in other parts of the US as well as in a slow manner nationally. I know there has been a lot of discussion on what good physical shape we must be in to fight fire effectively. I think there should be a little more about the "mental condition" that a firefighter should have. (OK I know a lot of jokes could be inserted here) Simply put it is nearly impossible to outrun a fire once it is obvious you should try since it can outrun nearly anyone if on a slope or in front of a wind. We can however "out think" fire if we have enough experience to know what to look for and how to recognize it. Classes cannot teach that...only prolonged contact with fire itself can.

I may be repeating myself but WE NEED TO KEEP "THE OLD GUYS" ON THE FIREGROUND and it is unacceptably dangerous to have any legislation that discourages this. I don't know how any legislator can be pointing a finger at anyone and blaming "inexperience" without first taking responsibility for helping to create a less experienced fire suppression corps by limiting in any way the ability of those over 35 to contribute their experience on the fireline. Has anyone in Washington thought that many would be happy to simply accept a prorated pension based on their years of service if they join up after age 35?


08/07 CK

So you are under the impression that wildfires are predictable. Silly you. The only thing predictable about wildfires is that if you get in their way, you get run over. The 10 & 18 provide opportunities to stay out of the way. If we were so good at predicting wildfires, why does it usually take more than one burning period to put them out? Lets face it, many of the fires we do put out would go out on their own. The ones that don't aren't so predictable. Rocket science it aint....as Gordon Graham says, predictable, predictable, predictable........94 degrees, 11% RH and wind, sure is predictable. The 10 & 18 don't predict fire, it predicts behavior of people. In most cases follow those & stay safe.

Dispatch dude

08/07 Danny

I'll post pictures in a day or so just as soon as things slow down here a little bit. We have had a fire start every day for the past week. Quick initial attack by air and ground has held them all to one burning period.

East coast fire gal

08/06 Everyone,

The Jobs page, Series 462 and Series 455 pages are updated for the first time in a few weeks. YAAAAAAYYYY! OPM USA-Jobs now has a selection process I can work with so I'll resume updating the both wildland firefighter series pages along with the jobs page itself every Tuesday and Friday. (I won't do it tomorrow, though).

Phew, I thought I was out of work for a while there! I have deleted all old outdated job announcements from the jobs page and ask you to send in some new ones. If you have any special jobs you'd like to see filled, let me know. I'll put them up.


08/06 More articles from the Modesto Bee from Tree:

Part 2: Crew 4 members brace for battery of tests to prove they can be Type I firefighters

For family members, firefighting in the blood

08/06 I was told about your site so checked it out; my daughter is in one of the photos, she's the one who told me about it. She's in Crews 2 and titled 'waiting in Denny' God bless all of you firefighters!!!!!!


Hi Sue, Mellie is working on an extensive set of photos of the Big Bar Incident, but it was neat she shared some of her "women in fire" pictures with us last winter. Ab.

08/06 Hey All,

USFS Chief Dale Bosworth was testifying before a House Subcommittee today on the Nat. Fire Plan at lunch time PDT. It was shown on c-span. --Info on ff policies, hiring, audits, 30-mi fire, etc. (Lots of speculation from the peanut gallery. That Rep McInnis (? I think the same who last week blamed it on failure of bucket drops?) was mouthing off this time about it being dispatch's fault.) Hmmm, just wish folks would let the invesitgative team finish. I heard they should be done late this week. Is that a true rumor?

Re this c-span report, check for reruns this eve. Hopefully they'll reshow it. I missed many of the Quest&Ans and would like to see the whole thing, preferably with a beer in hand.



08/06 Why are dozers not reported on the NIFC report? I know dozers and hand crews do most of the ground work on a majority of fires. I have never heard of a good explanation and was wondering if anyone had the answer to this obscure question.

It's getting hot in Northern California as I type, be safe, drink lots of liquids, and keep your eyes open and mind sharp.


08/06 Some talk last night on fireCHAT about Type I (T) crews, or new Type I crews that are gaining the experience to have full National Type I status. Here's a story from the Modesto Bee - link from Firescribe - about a crew on the Groveland Ranger District, Stanislaus NF who are making the transition from Type II to Type I crew and what that entails. (The title is a little much, but a good article.)

Blaze of Glory: Hotshots

08/06 Ab,

I was on the Chilao Hotshot Crew during the 1972 and 1973 fire seasons before going on to a long career in the fire services.

There is a question mark next to 1974.

This logo was designed during the year of 1972 as I was with the two fellows who put it together.

Dick O' Connor was seen as some what as fruitcake by most of the crew because of his many quirks, but not one of these oddities ever put into question O'Connor's fire fighting leadership and expertise.

Several years after I was on that crew I went to the Mt. Baldy RD. on the Angeles NF and joined the ranks of the First Region 5 Helijumper program started by Mr. Rogers and Lewis Yazzie in 1975 and 1976. This crew was Crew 7 Bravo.

I designed the patch for that crew that has the lightening bolt.

Maybe someday it will show up on your site.

Happy Trails

Robert S.

Welcome, Robert. Perhaps you'd send in a pic of that patch. Thanks for the info. I updated the description. That's what I love about this place: if someone doesn't remember the details, someone else will. Ab.

08/06 wow! I haven't read "they said" for 5 days - lots going on.

The fire engine-logging truck incident didn't make the news here - best wishes to those hospitalized.

Mellie - would suggest all who are attending fire science classes at the community college level to take as many hazmat courses as possible, hazardous materials everywhere - the local dump, gas station, passing trucks, trains, etc.

To those who have no experience with western states fire fighting, you can't speak from your personal experiences, so listen to the folks who've done it to be prepared for a totally different scene. (folks in the west should do likewise in case you get an assignment east)

Anyone who is interested in the CDF fire hiring/tests - as soon as it's available it should be posted on the CDF website, or check the spb.ca.gov site and be sure to read the specs (hint: CA does not want the same degree of info the USFS wants on an application)

TO ALL: be safe! we want you home for Christmas

old&grey in R5

08/06 Hello to all:

Does anyone know if the USFS is utilizing local EERA's in Region 6 this year? I know that the R-6 Engine/Tender Contract is again with us this year and the pages of available resources has again multiplied up to the 20's. Are local resources being signed up on EERA's or not this year? I have heard that some resources are being signed up but not Engines or Tenders and that these are only being put on a resource list or some such thing. It would be nice to know. To supplement our Agency resources it would be nice to know which way the home districts are going to go on this. We have used some of these local resources for many many years and it would be really good to know if we can still rely on being able to call them or if we have to go strictly from the R-6 contract.

Thanks for any info.

08/05 From Firescribe, some info on a Senate panel approving a bill that bumps back wildland firefighter retirement and that may affect MEA. The House passed a similar bill earlier in the year.


08/05 Recruiting in Fiscal Year 2002!

The latest information I have received is that our Forest will receive every MEL resource we requested (be careful what you wish for!) to implement for Fiscal Year 2002. This equates to dozens of new jobs both perm and temp. I urge everyone on your Forests, Districts or Parks to talk with your FMO's and get involved this Fall/Winter/Spring to plan and implement a major recruitment drive on your unit. This should be a nationwide commitment and priority for all federal land management agencies. A college student that I recruit in R-5 may be someone you employ in Colorado. Don't forget to use your lower grade fire employees. Some or your 13/13's and 18/8's need to be involved and working this year on recruitment. Our younger employees can bring to the table an ability to relate to young recruits, plus they need to feed their families too. Staffing is hurting and it will not get any better if we do nothing, but if me make a strong effort to extend our hand out to meet potential employees, we can make a difference.

Talk to your FMO's now and develop a recruitment plan for the coming Fiscal Year.

A Concerned Employee!

08/05 East Coast Fire Gal; Can you get/post some photos of the PORTERS in your area?


08/05 I've had some folks in the Federal world inquire about the rumor that CDF will have an open exam for Fire Captain. Well here is the latest from the union:

To all,

Earlier this week we were presented with a "draft" of the new OPEN Fire Captains exam. The department, it seems, is in a hurry to get this exam out, possibly before next fire season. We believe we were able to convince the department to reconsider some of the MQ's and we are waiting for the revised version to be delivered on Monday.

The department claims that they have 20 plus FC permanent positions, as well as, 40 plus limited term positions throughout the State that they can NOT fill.

We have additionally communicated our concerns to the department, that the incentives for our members to respond to the limited term positions need to be addressed.

This situation is addressed in MOU section 15.3

more to follow, stay safe

Good luck to all,

08/04 One can predict wildfire if one follows the 18 watchouts and fire orders. If we could not predict wildfire then we would not be able to fight it. Other crews were on 30 mile and were able to predict the fire; they did not die. With that said, I'm not trying to sound callous. It was a horrific thing that happened, and as a firefighter I continue to be saddened by what happened to those individuals.


08/04 Ab,

The first hand account of the Thirty Mile Tragedy is chilling and should be required reading for all wildland firefighters, structure firefighters should read it to understand that a Red Card is more than a class you take to remain on the active list.

The Old Firedog

08/04 Hello everyone:

I enjoy THEY SAID a great deal. I read it every day I'm at work which lately here in eastern Canada which is alot. We are experiencing extreme fire danger at this time. My heart goes out to the family, friends and co-workers of the young people killed at the 30-mile fire. An incident such as this knows no boundaries when it comes to touching the hearts of wildland firefighters.

We should pause and reflect on our past experiences and future assignments. Every time we action a fire take a little time to "THINK". Size up fires very carefully. Consider the present and forecasted weather. Examine the fuels. How will topography interact with the weather and fuels to impact the fires behavior? Ask yourself. What is the fire doing now? What time is it? Are things going to get better or worse? Is your assignment going to make any difference? It's great to be young, strong and keen but don't just "BULL" in and start at the line with out taking the time to "THINK", it might be the most important thing you do in your life.

On another note the machine you call a Proteus is not new to this area of North America. We call them Porters and have used them for the past 15-20 years. They are very versatile and can do many tasks for you. The biggest drawback is the cost. But if you need water in a bad place they are one of the solutions.

Keep up the good work Ab.
East coast fire gal

08/04 To whom corresponds:

My name is Ignacio Contreras, I´m 25 years old and I live in Esquel, Patagonia Argentina. I have worked as a firefighter since the year 1996 until the year 2000 at "Nahuel Huapi National Park". Since then until now, at the "Dirección Provincial de Bosques y Parques de la Provincia del Chubut" (DPBP: Provincial Forests and Parks Service of the Province of Chubut), as a technician working for an Agreement between Argentina ("PNMF" - National Plan of Fire Management) and Canada ("Proyecto 2000" - Technology traspass), on the Canadian Fire Weather Index.

The job for the Province of Chubut includes dictating courses to firefighters (incuding fire related Metheorology, Fuels and Topography). The job for the APN includes dictating courses to firefighters, being "Fire Crew Supervisor" (for the last three seasons).

Besides I am about to finish my career in "Forest Engineering", (a few exams left). I have heard that there are many wildfires raging the US, and I would like to apply for a job there as a firefighter during this seanson (or next one if this one is impossible). If is there any chance of that, I am looking forward to your response. If required, I could get recommendations from "APN" (National Parks Administration), "DPBP" or "PNMF".

Please, I would like to know what shall I do, forms to fill, etc.. If you cannot help me with this, I would appreciate if you could tell me who to contact.

Many thanks for your help,
Ignacio Contreras

Readers, any suggestions for Mr. Contreras? Ab.

08/04 I spend every morning reading They said. Being a new contractor Im trying to learn all I can, and the web sites offered are a great help. But that's not why Im writing. It goes deeper. I live 20 miles from where the thirtymile fire was, I had a crew out so I set listening to my scanner, and heard everything that took place with thirtymile from the beginning to the end. Even today I still hear the words, I go to sleep with them and wake up with them. In my heart everything that could be done was done. If I thought for one second that when I send out the six people who work for me, They were'nt going to be safe, I'ed quit today. My son has been a wildland firefighter for 11 years, and now works for me as an Engine Boss, he knows his job, and does it well, and Im very proud of him. First and foremost with him is safety. It's the one thing I hear him talking about, over and over with each new FF2, safety first, and ask questions and keep asking until you get an answer. No one can predict a fire, or what it will do, and this can happen to the oldest firefighter, or the newest. So be safe out there, and remember, you're always in our prayer's.


Thanks for writing in Oddie. This Ab sends you a hug. Glad you join us every morning.

08/03 Here's an early patch of the Redmond (R6) Smokejumpers. Designed by a jumper named Mike and made in Salem at the State Pen.


Thanks Wally, I put it on the Logos4 page.

I also put up 3 fixed wing aircraft photos one the AirTanker3 page. Thanks for the pics and info on these ships, JE. There are 3 more new fire photos from Jim on the Fire6 page: can anyone spot the helicopter in the helitorch pic? Wow, look at those Tetons. Burned near there at Jackson Hole and burning at Yellowstone right now. Check the current Wildlandfire News. Ab.

08/03 Old Fire Guy,

Your statement about improvising when needed is very true. But why should our hands be tied when they don't need to be. I don't know a wildland firefighter who doesn't love the out of doors and most have a great respect for it. We don't need non safety oriented government acts and regulations to hinder our firefighting activities. We can take care of the forest but can do it with a little common sense instead of being required to abide by regulations not set up for wildland fire situations.


This post came in yesterday and I overlooked it. Based on the further clarification from PB, it doesn't appear that our hands are tied. Ab.

08/03 I was the Dozer Boss for the prototype Proteus on the Valley Complex, and I must say it was the most interesting assignment I have ever had. The machine and crew were very new to firefighting, and it was a challenge to try and find the best uses and limitations of Proteus. As far as limitations go, there weren't many, and the real challenge was to find something we couldn't do. Proteus, I believe, is the beginning of a new breed of contract firefighting machine, and I urge agency and private land managers to take a serious look at this machine, it will do whatever you need, and then some. Good luck to the guys at RTTG! I can't believe they stuck with the name Proteus, though.


08/03 You might want to publish the attached memo from the F&WS. I think it will clear up some confusion and misconceptions out there.

Note that back in 1995, the F&WS said quite clearly that the ESA was NOT to take precedence over firefighter safety, and that response to a wildfire is NOT to be delayed pending contacts concerning T&E species.

The memo clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of ICs and resource advisors as regards endangered species.

I think it's safe to say that the ESA itself was not responsible for the deaths on the Thirty Mile fire, and that as far as the F&WS/ESA are concerned, firefighter and public safety are the highest priority.

This begs the question of who was interpreting the ESA for the Thirty Mile.

sign me,

Click HERE for the memo. Thanks for your persistence, PB. Ab.

08/03 Ab

Re CDF Engine vs. Log truck - Here is a link to the story from the Redding Record-Searchlight www.redding.com/news/stories/20010803lo001.shtml


08/03 Hi A.L. I'm OK.

Here's what I've heard. The vehicle accident happened on the Lassen Modoc Unit on Hwy 139 just before 1100 yesterday (08/02). An engine (4 crew - FAE and 3 FFIs) had stopped on the roadside to check something. It was hit from the rear by a logging truck. The impact flipped the logging truck on its side. The engine rolled over, came to rest upside down and caught fire. Two of the crew got out through the windshield and got help putting out the fire and helping the others out. One person in the back released their seatbelt, and the other was released from being suspended. They were all taken to the hospital. I don't know the true extent of injuries, but no one is critical as I heard it.

A.L., wasn't my engine. I really hope everyone is alright. Our jobs are dangerous in many ways.

Just sign me - Ralph

08/03 Ab,

After a couple of months of non-participation, my computer is now fixed. I would like to applaud the National Park Service and the BLM in California for advertising their Captains (Foremans) jobs as GS-08 in California...... It looks like the Forest Service R-5 Captains Issue is spreading statewide and to other agencies.... if your PD matches one of the nationally approved PD's, then your grade should also be afforded the GS-8 grade. Hope it spreads nationwide.... A captain in R-5 is the same as in all of the other regions.. This is from an R-5 Captain.... and one who has seen its the same in every region.... Foremans and Captains, review your PD and if it matches the ones in R-5, request a desk audit.... this time an audit is a good thing...

Our support to you... and thanks for your support on our fight....


08/02 Does anyone have any details on the CDF engine that was hit by a logging truck and turned over in the Lassen area? I have a friend up there. Hope all are OK.


08/02 1st hand account of the thirtymile fire



08/02 On the Thirty-Mile fire;

Please let the investigation team do their job, and remember as each piece of information/rumor comes out, it may be out of context, only one side of the story, or just wrong.

Last year, I was asked by an overhead team for permission to dip (type 1 helo) out of a lake, and just as implied here, we had a long discussion on the impacts to an endangered fish. In the end we went to another lake, which added about 3 minutes to turn times on the drops. This is normal. Add to this the time it took the resource advisor to track me down, for me to find the biologist, etc and it takes a while. At no time did anyone indicate an immediate need for the water to protect firefighters.

On the objectives list on the WFSA, delegation of authority, and daily plans, firefighter safety was listed first, just ahead of T and E species habitat protection. If at any time, firefighter safety was a question, IC had full authority to dip anywhere any time, without contacting me, and he knew, mostly because we had that exact conversation at transition. In the delegation of authority, this was made quite clear. Other issues that came up were using dozers in one of Clintons roadless areas, and dropping retardant near a stream which was a municipal water supply.

My point is, the IC had full authority to do what was necessary to protect his firefighters. If he needed buckets to save firefighters and waited to call me, I would have been very peeved (pissed is the right word) with him. Actually, after two weeks of contact with him, I am absolutely confidant he would have blown off anyone on the face of the planet and protected his firefighters. He is a damn good man. Of course he had control of the helos.

I would like to hear the dispatch tapes. I have observed that folks dislike dry mopping and the first thing a lot of IA IC's want is bucket drops, and dispachers are sitting there triaging the requests. I can see how a bucket operation request could get to look "routine" to a dispatcher. However if a critical need was comunicated, then I really want to see the thought process in denying an available resource. But I am going to wait for the investigation report before I make a decision. What looks now as someone being evil or stupid may end up a communication problem, that may be endemic to all of us. Remember, while loosing the fire may have been the likely result of not getting the buckets, was the cause and effect link that loosing the fire meant going to shelters recognized by the folks making the decisions? I doubt it. I suspect there will be more to it than this.

Well enough, stay safe, ask for what you need,


08/02 A research article in "Fire Management Today" on buckets and fish appears in Vol 61-1.

http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/planning/fmt/fmt-pdfs/ Then click on fmn61-1.pdf (which is 4th from the bottom).


This is a research paper by Justin Jimenez and Timothy A. Burton entitled "Are Helibuckets Scooping More Than Just Water?" Informative and instructive reading. Please note that if you download this pdf file which takes a few minutes, you get the entire 48 page Issue 61. The article begins on page 34. Quiz tomorrow. Ab.

08/02 Dear "Kelly":

I didn't "fallaciously" do anything. We stated our opinion and you stated yours. That's what's great about America, we both get to do so.

As far as your opinion concerning our "professionalism" is concerned, we believe that the facts that we reported are correct and do not intend to issue a retraction based on your comments. We still believe that there should NOT have been a delay in obtaining water to help protect the fallen firefighters. As we have said at least twice, we sincerely hope that all of the facts come out and the actual cause of this tragedy is determined by the appropriate authorities.

It would also be our hope, in some small way, that we contributed to that process and the public awareness of it. We have nothing but the utmost respect for wildfire firefighters and simply tried to point out a potential environmental regulation problem that may have contributed to this tragic event.

As far as your other criticisms and vitriolic statements about us are concerned...like I said, you have a right to your opinion.

Most Respectfully,
C. L. Staten, ERRI/EmergencyNet News

08/02 Speculation criticized in firefighters' deaths



08/02 C.L. Staten fallaciously defends the "article" on the emergency.com website by saying it was written by a firefighter -- implying that this somehow lends credence to what was posted. Experience in fire does not make one a good writer any more than a background in journalism makes one a good firefighter.

The article says a team is investigating whether the firefighters died as a result of policy. Any time a fatality occurs, there is ALWAYS an investigation into what happened and why. This is just SOP -- and to imply on the website that the investigation was prompted by the helicopter and water dipping is WAY out of line.

Staten claims a problem with "environmental policies somehow becoming more important than the lives of firefighters." It may not seem important to differentiate between environmental policies and federal law, but there is indeed a difference. And let's be real here: on July 10 it wasn't a question of choosing between saving lives or harming T&E species. To imply that is to grossly and disrespectfully impugn people who are already in one of the most difficult situations a human could face. How crass.

The "article" on the website says that firefighters "are said to be 'outraged' by the what they say appears to be either bureaucratic bungling or wrong-headed environmental restrictions gone amuck (sic)." This is not journalism. This is not professional. This is unmitigated tripe.

But then the top of the website notes that "We Ask ONLY to Be Judged by the Value of Our Information."


08/02 Firenut,

Sad but true...those fish have zealous advocates...by and large wildfire fighters do not. Ironically...if the current shortage of experienced firefighters is any indication...we are rapidly becoming an endangered "species" ourselves. But if we got the kinds of protection that wildlife does fires would not get put out.

I have myself (as an engine boss) been ordered to not draft from a stream which was trout habitat (on a federal fire). This meant that we had to drive an additional 40 minutes to water and resulted in the watershed being burned over (as we predicted when ordered not to draft). No more trout in that stream...but at least their demise was "natural". Bureaucracy by its' very nature does not lend itself to common sense or logic.

Glenn and Flash,

Although every firefighters is "ultimately responsible" for their own safety many others possibly share the responsibility for firefighter deaths. Legally, if a person started the fire they can be charged with manslaughter or worse depending on intent. Morally the firefighters supervisors (all the way to the top) share the responsibility if they were inadequately trained or supervised. The fact that traditionally the old hands were the real trainers on the fireline as well as responsible for the safety of the "new guys" and that many of these experienced folk are discouraged from being on that fireline by inappropriate legislation means that the responsibility may also be shared by the legislators, aides, and lobbyists that are responsible for that legislation. Frankly even the voter/taxpayer must share some of the burden as it was their stinginess/lack of concern that set the stage for our current situation.

Yes we need to assign responsibility or those that share responsibility will feel free to continue making the fireground an unacceptably and unnecessarily dangerous place to work. And we need to have folks that have enough experience on the line to "know when to say no".


08/02 Every so often we engage in discussion regarding the constraints of resource protection. Staying out of wilderness areas with motorized equipment, constrained/delayed use of helicopters, chainsaws, retardent, etc. in "special" areas to protect soil, water, endangered species are realities we have or will sometime face as firefighters. When we view these constraints and delays as impacts that compromise our safety, we do so in error.

Why? Because to hold such a view we must conclude that the firefighting effort must continue with our original plan as had the "tools" been available (airtankers, helicopters, chainsaws, bulldozers). We adopt the "make do" attitude.

In fact, our commitment to safety (and our status as experts in fire control) demand that we acknowledge the constraints, and respond with a different plan of attack. It is our obligation to firefighters and resource managers to identify and articulate that if and when various "tools" are not available, then we can and must change our strategy. We need to continue our focus on doing the job safely, and point out that the "cost" of the constrained alternative is increased acres burned, timber lost, endagered habitat threatened, or whatever. Our response should say "Given those constraints, here is our new plan of attack and options....and here is what we will have to give up in order to maintain safety....." Any time we accept the constraints and continue with a plan of attack that compromises safety, then the onus is not on the backs of the resource managers, but on us as firefighters for divesting ourselves of our number one responsibility.

Old Fire Guy

Excellent evaluation Old Fire Guy. Ab.

08/02 RE: The following comments from "In the Midst of Motion, Stillness"

Thank you for the mention of our webiste and the various opinions concerning the "Thirty Mile Fire."

With all due respect, there was no "lack of respect and the gall it takes to oversimplify" intended...but rather an attempt to point out what appears to be problem with environmental policies somehow becoming more important than the lives of firefighters. Additionally, the comment about "bureaucratic bungling" was made by a firefighter who originally sent the article to EmergencyNet News by e-mail.

In light of the comments, please be advised that the article in question at www.emergency.com/ennday.php was written by someone with more than 20 years of fire service experience. Admittedly, not a "wildfire" specialist, but a retired fire service veteran just the same.

We certainly don't have all of the facts about the "Thirty Mile Fire," as it said in the article in question. But, perhaps the position expressed in the article at emergency.com was the emotion of someone who has seen all too many firefighters, police officers, and EMTs/Paramedics fall in the line-of-duty, not because of malice of forethought, but because of poor planning, training, equipment and leadership.

Most Respectfully,

C. L. Staten

Asst. Chief Paramedic (Ret.)
Chicago Fire Dept.

CEO and Publisher
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08/02 Fireman 889-

Thanks for the info... hard to get that kinda stuff whilst in the middle of formulating a degree plan and heading off to college in less than 22 days... Nice thing about WSU is that they have an on-campus student run FD to which one can apply, and if hired the FF can increase his training to FF2 and EMT and all that neat stuff... nice thing is even though I'm not garunteed to make it on the FD there I can remain a member of my home District on a 'leave of absence' type deal, which I think is pretty neat. Not too many occupations in the world will let you do that kind of thing...

Now if I could only make up my mind on wether or not to take the Chemistry program or the Physics program or the Forestry/Wildland Fire emphasis program or that nifty Journalism thing... agh.. the CHOICES! Any one out there have any reccomendations for a young college bound Fire Pup to study? Provided we get a response to my question, this might make an interesting file to tuck away somewhere too Ab, for all the young pups to follow...

Thanks again for the info Fireman 889... and thanks in advance to any who might answer my question too.

Tiny, the R-6 Fire 'Pup'

(Yes Mellie I'm still a Pup... check behind the ears, they're still wet! *grin*)

08/02 I have seen the news and read some of the comments on the fish/water/firefighter dilema. Unfortunatly the fact is that after initial attack (IA) the decision is made by a resource advisor or biologist about when, where and how much water if any at all can be taken. No matter what a persons ideology about the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the fact is that if the habitat is occupied, "modeled" or "critical" to an endagered species then after IA the decision is out of the hands of fire managers. The ESA is a federal law that was intended to restrict federal agencies from activities... even fire fighting.

If you find this not to be true, wait until your agency or unit gets sued over anything related to ESA. Watch what you are told by the regulatory agencies (without naming any names here, although you all know who they are) in any settlement agreements or Biological Opinions that follow. Although, often times it's people in our own agencies that tie our hands because they cannot make rational decisions, but rather let their ideology dictate. The ESA is almost 30 years old, and the time to rewrite it with some common sense mixed in is LONG over due.

What is worse, the magnitude of a small fire that requires taking a minimal amount of water out of a stream any maybe a few fish vs. the cumulative effects of a high intensity landscape scale wildfire that causes massive amounts of sedimentation with high mortality of fish? What is more "likely to effect population viability" of what every slimmy creepy crawly critter is out there?

I am by no means trying to say a helicopter would have prevented the tragedy in WA. I was not there and will try not cast blame. However, if someone has doubts about what comes first endangered species or bucket drops...I would put my money on the fish. I would not be so quick to call this "bureaucratic bungling."


P.S. I could not help myself...

Stillness says, "I've been avoiding a lot of the media hoopla about this fire because I can't stand the second-guessing by people who are not firefighters and do not have all of the pieces of the situation. " But then in another paragraph says, "A quote from the article: "Two former USFS firefighters familiar with the Thirty Mile Fire said getting permission to dip into the Chewuch caused the delays that led to the death of their colleagues." Practice what you preach!

Some clarification here. Stillness is not one of the "two former USFS firefighters". The quote comes from the Fox article. Ab.

08/01 Tiny,
FFII through the NFPA is basically an extension of FFI. They also taught us more knots for ropes rescues, and technical rescues (Swift Water, Extrication, Farm Vehicles) and you also take HAZ-MAT Operations. Plus you get to have a bona-fide flashover in the smoke house.

The OTEP you speak of sounds like the OMD, the medical director, who is basically the doctor on who's license you practice "medicine". If you go to court, he's right there in the suit with you, so he's gotta trust you. GET EMT AS SOON AS YOU CAN its good to have, and looks great on resumes.

I'd take that Epi out of my EMT-B bag, if they catch you with it, it's your and your medical director's ass they'll have if they find it on you as an EMT-B...also I'd add a roll of duct tape, makes good splints, and is great to lash someone to a backboard, used it this past sunday during a MVA when we ran out of spider straps.

Fireman 889

08/01 I am a Forest Ranger in Florida. I have never been out west, and I don't claim to know more or to undersand more than anyone else out there, but I would like to bring out a point. Whether it's Montana, Washington or Florida the person ultimately responsible for your safety is you. Not the weather service or a helicopter pilot who might have been able to drop water, nor even the incident commander. They all have a job, but You are the final protector of your own safety.

I think instead of headhunting for political agendas we need to accept that some very brave people did what they knew to do, this time it wasn't enough to safeguard them. Look the 30-mile fire over to use as a learning tool not for a scapegoat.

I refused an order from my F.A.S. during an incident this year. I operate a tractor plow. I was in the middle of a 50 acre blow-up he couldn't see from the other side of our 2000 acre fire. He radio'd me and my partner to attack the head, I called back that we were in the middle of a blow-up and needed to peel off to a safety zone. He responded, "No I need you two on that head." My partner and I got safe. We informed the other tractors of our situation and coordinated with them to fall back till the head passed through the stand of planted pines we were in and hit a two trail. We gave up about 50 acres more pines, but stopped the fire at the trail. When it was over my boss bragged about how well we did.

I don't know if there is a moral or point except to say many people have the duty to safeguard you. But you still are the final arbitrater of you r safety. If a situation doesn't feel right, maybe it isn't. Above your duty to perform, above your duty to respond, above all else is your duty to be safe.

Thanks for listening,
Flash in Florida

08/01 Firenut

Fire has been a part of natural ecosystems since the origin of climate on earth. (Fire Ecology H.A. Wright,A. W. Bailey, 1982). Fire in nature is not a bad thing per say and we should not disregard previous rules and regs. Having said that, there is one immediate exception, and that is to save human life. Excluding that, ecological/biological questions and concerns have a rightful place in tactics and strategies of containment. When we make descions as firefighters to fight fires, we tacitly agree to do so consistent with agency/ gov. procedures. I do not know the facts of this tragedy. And it truely is a tragedy. My heart grieves for the loss of four heros. But I understand there is no perfect fire, and all of us make a conscious decision to fight fire.


08/01 Ab,

The firefighter accounts from the Thirty Mile Fire strike an eerily similar chord. It was a year ago this weekend at the Crooked Fire where we were working the "supposedly" quiet flank of the fire. When the witching hour struck, we found ourselves across the creek, back up to the road, and heading outta there. It got more complicated than that, but... We had already covered some acreage heading out the road. The fire jumped the creek and was running up at our backs. "Firebabe" calls it the run for life. I'm sure that we came way too close to having to deploy but that was only an option when we just plain had nowhere else to go. The only thing that kept the fire from overtaking us was the helicopter pilot who realized we were in trouble and repeatedly did bucket drops to keep our escape route open.

The driver of the Rocky Boy crew bus overheard on his radio that we were in trouble. He backed his bus in about 1 1/2 miles, midslope on the ravine, and pulled us out of there. Hell, that road was hairy driving in "forward". If we'd ever loaded onto a bus like that when we were in school we'd have all been suspended! First time in my life that I was really happy to catch a school bus.

So what's the lesson reinforcement? Rely on your training. When you train, even in shelter deployment, don't cut corners, do it correctly every time. When you're working under pressure, ie, stress, you revert back to your training. If you've been taking shortcuts, you'll be trying to take those same shortcuts when you can't. On the line, reinforce your 10 & 18, and don't forget LCES. Pay attention to the reports from adjoining crews, etc. When things are beginning to heat up, the more lead time you get the better. In a busy fire season, when overhead resources get spread extremely thin, "there might be a chance that someone not particularly suited for, or trained for a position gets put into that position". In other words, pay attention to what's going on, ask questions if you have a concern, and don't have "blind faith" in anything. And, from the Thirty Mile Fire, whenever I think of shelter deployment, in training or otherwise, I'll be paying "extreme" attention to the spot I choose to deploy upon. Be safe...


08/01 Firenut,

Go ahead and vent if it helps, but Stillness had some very valid points and I'm not sure what your real issue is with Stillness' message. The truth, as I see it, is that bad decisions were made by many, but that lack of a single helicopter doing bucket work was not the cause of those firefighters dying. As Stillness said, we will never know all of the circumstances (pieces) that caused the tragedy and loss of our brothers and sisters in the line of duty.

You were totally correct in saying that this issue is A MAJOR PROBLEM. However, it happens more than people realize. It happened last year on a fire in R1 that I worked on. Helicopter was available, field personnel requested permission to use a creek (river?) to dip out of, and district management refused due to threatened/endangered fish in this waterway. Fortunately, nobody died as a result, but the fire did go project when it could have been stopped with some aggressive initial attack. Where was Dale Bosworth when that situation happened??? (Actually, Dale wasn't in his current position then, but what about his predecessor?) I hope you can see my point. I agree with you that it is a sorry situation when we cannot do whatever it takes to protect and serve our firefighters on the line. However, don't take it out on Stillness.

To Stillness, your observations are those of others as well. I applaud you for the courage to stand up and make your opinions heard.


08/01 There is an article today in the Rocky Mountain News (Denver paper) about the allegations leveled by Colorado Republican Scott McInnis that the Endangered Species Act contributed to the deaths of the four FFs in Washington. The link is:


My warning would be to be careful of Congressmen with not so hidden agendas. I will withhold judgment until I get the story from both sides.

By the way - the paper also reprinted the Seattle Times article with the FFs diary of the fire (including pictures). Great story - a definite "must read".

VFD FF for 20 years

08/01 Here is the answer to BLM Bob's question about how many smokejumpers it takes to change a lightbulb.

It takes one and all he has to do is hold it because the whole world revolves around him.


08/01 I am concerned that a head hunting trip is even necessary at this point of the Thirty Mile Incident. The bottom line is that every firefighter is responsible for their own individual safety. The folks who were burned over were working on a spot out ahead of the direction of spread during the peak of the first burning period. There was no time that a fire was more likely to burn in the third dimension (crown fire) with a rapid erratic rate of spread. Where was their safety zone?, their lookout?, their supervision?

The two civilians that were rescued certainly are glad these folks were there; however, I am concerned that some very basic fundamentals were overlooked. 10 & 18 are the foundation of the basics. Many say they are just too hard, but LCES didn't work either. It may seem harsh, but I really believe that most fire fatalities start with an error of decision which is made by the victim. There is nothing that requires people to compromise their safety in order to suppress a fire. There is a difference between aggressive fire fighting and reckless firefighting.

To be sure, this incident is another woeful loss of young lives. I sorrow at their loss and I wish comfort and understanding for their families, but it is a dangerous profession that we choose to participate in. Let's learn a lesson from this situation that maybe will save similar losses. Our work has to be based upon the safety fundamentals.


08/01 Stillness,

I couldn't help but get quite upset by your comments on the media using the endangered species act as an excuse for the four deaths recently in Washington. I don't understand how you can say this. If it takes 5-6 hours to get approval to dip water because we are more worried about some STUPID fish rather than fires and people - THIS IS A MAJOR PROBLEM. Might it have helped those firefighters is anyones guess - BUT it most certainly undeniably couldn't have hurt could it. You're right when you say not to rely on air support - but they knew the problem was coming and STILL some stupid buerocrat (sp?) was more worried about some stupid fish rather than firefighters. I say stand up and be heard people. I can't believe we have to get "approval" for water to fight a forest fire. As Dale Bosworth was quoted as saying - "Get the water first - ask questions later!" What's so difficult to understand about this statement. Makes perfect sense to me! Those families are going to have to deal with the question of "Fish or Family?" for the rest of their lives not knowing if this contributed to the deaths of their sons and daughters! I feel heads should roll and people should be fired for this even if its proven (how will they ever) this did not contribute to these deaths. STUPID-STUPID-STUPID how we managed to put the lives of fish ahead of the safety of our brave men and women firefighters! The enviros are going to have to think about this one long and hard.


08/01 Hello,

I'm trying to reach a band of wildland fire fighters on the Blackfeet rez who call themselves "Dog Brothers". These guys have historically fought fires in Glacier Nat'l Park. If you can help in any way please contact me at tmbrline@frii.com.


08/01 Hi Ab-

My brother gave me this address today for emergency net news:


There is an article there about the endangered species act and the Thirty Mile fire. For one reason or another, I've been avoiding a lot of the media hoopla about this fire because I can't stand the second-guessing by people who are not firefighters and do not have all of the pieces of the situation. This story to me looks not like "bureaucratic bungling" as they state, but politicians using a tragedy to make a case against environmental legislation. I am sickened by the lack of respect and the gall it takes to oversimplify what is no doubt a complex set of circumstances that led to the accident. I don't think we'll ever all know how all the pieces fit together, but blaming it on a helicopter that can't get water due to environmental protection is incredibly far out of line. I don't have 25 years in fire, but I do know that in all of my training, you don't depend on a helicopter for your safety, or on the availability of water. Here's the full article from Fox news:


A quote from the article: "Two former USFS firefighters familiar with the Thirty Mile Fire said getting permission to dip into the Chewuch caused the delays that led to the death of their colleagues." This article has a little more info, but I still can't see where in the world you can blame a lack of helicopter aid for this kind of tragedy. I always learned that air support is a blessing and can't be counted on. Why does everyone have to place blame, and so easily? I'm sure the real answers hit us all too close to home, and they're not so simple.

I also read "One Man's Notes from Inside the Inferno" that was linked from the Seattle Times on this site yesterday. Recently, I found myself for the first time in a situation where we had to back off and protect ourselves from a decent sized wall of fire. Being fire-lovers, we were all excited by the whole thing. Even so, I could not help but think about what happened in Washington, and facing more than a wall of fire with no safety zone protecting you and nothing but a fire shelter. I'm sure I was not the only one thinking that.

In safety news, I heard one of the Minnesota Vikings died after having heat stroke yesterday in training camp. It could happen to anyone, and the midwest is sitting under a major high pressure system-very hot. The injuries on fires I've been hearing about have been related to dehydration. Please take care of yourself out there.

In the Midst of Motion, Stillness

08/01 Heard about a safety officer on the Green Knoll fire, very angry that the Medical Unit Leader had ordered a paramedic to help the already exhausted EMT's at the fire. There was nearly 1,400 people on that fire!

As a crew boss in charge of 20 people, I appreciate those overhead guys and gals looking out for us! I thought that's what safety officers were supposed to do?

Maybe he is the next candidate for a heart attack??


08/01 OLd in R5

Yes it is sad at times that those who lead and those who manage don't always connect...this will and can improve if both sides are willing to listen and listen closely..we are all part of what makes up the team. I also encourage those new to fire to express their opinions and ideas for that is where new ideas begin ..and to those of us such as myself..please consider the new ideas...not every idea has to be implemented, just look at it with a bit of consideration.

I have worked many years in fire with majority in federal service and with a few years in fire with a major aircraft company as a site fire supervisor and if those in the federal service think there is a lot of politics in their units, try the private sector! It is good to be back with the feds!


08/01 I appreciate the quick reply on the Proteus. It is an interest to me as it may help prevent putting some firefighters in harm's way.

But, I would like to ad how much admiration I have for all of those who fight fire on the front lines and in the support roles. I don't think most people could simply sit on a couch for 16 hours, much less fight fires! I think 99% of average citizens would make it about 3 hours and be too fatigued and sore to come back the next day. I lift weights 4 days a week and do an hour of cardio on those days and 2 hours of cardio each "off" day. I don't know how many days I could do what you do. I have so much respect for your multiple abilities to hike in carrying your equipment, work long hours in very tough and trying physical and environmental conditions! I think you would be surprised at how many comments I hear when people see you on the news shows of how dedicated and hard-working you are! Each one of you is the embodiment of the American Spirit. We are proud of you and support you, even though you may never hear it.

Thank you
Dr. Mark

Thanks for the kind words. Ab.

08/01 Well, as far as being an EMT there are two types, National Registry and State, in order to practice you must be state certified/approved by the state. National Registry alone won't allow you to practice but it will allow (in most states) for you to get reciprocity. The federal government for the most part uses National Registry as its guidelines.

In most states and in the National Registry system there are 3 types of EMT's. EMT-B(basic) EMT-I(intermediate) EMT-P(paramedic)

In North Carolina (where I am) the basic is only allowed to administer 4 drugs, and it must be an assisted administration, with the exception of Oxygen. The other drugs are, epinephrine, glucose, and activated charcoal. What they mean by assisted is that the patient must be alert and oriented while you AID HIM IN USING HIS OWN DRUGS. To use any other drugs would be to ask for trouble, even aspirin, because there is a small chance that another drug the patient is on could react with the aspirin. Basics can also uses AEDs and SAEDs. Also the basic class is not designed to take you into deep medicine, because most basics are first responders, and other drug treatments take a long time to work, kinda in contradiction to the first responder concept and the basic class is not intended to make you a street doctor. That's for the medical aspect of EMTing; for trauma, the basic can do just about everything a Paramedic can do. I.E.- C-spine, splinting, bandaging, backboarding, using Kendrick Extrication Devices, XP1s, and other good type things.

As intermediates and paramedics go, the only major distinction is the drugs they can administer: both can intubate, start IVs, along with a bunch of other stuff the basic can't do. The difference in drugs are really only, morphine and valume. Both can push lasix, narcan, epinephrine, aspirin, alburtal, and all sorts of other good stuff.

As an EMT (thinking under the National Registry system) this is a short list of that I would carry:

Airway adjuncts (ex- J-tubes, Nasal Airways, Combi tube)
Burn sheet
Sterile water
Trauma sheet (for saw accidents)
BUNCHES of bandages
BP cuff/Styphoscope
Auto-injecter of Epinephrine
BMV (bag valve mask) or a pocket mask

As a paramedic (in addition to the above)-

Saline bag (to start IVs)
few needles
Benadryl (IV type)

That's about it. That may seem like a lot, but most of that stuff can be folded or compressed to fit into a small area and it's not that heavy. Sorry about some of my spellings, as I do not use those drugs, and do not see them. I am only a Basic. I put forth what I was taught in class and what I know from working and talking with the Paramedics along with reading county SOPs & SOGs.


08/01 Hi Ab.. long time no write.. for those interested, your Pup has been serving as teacher of the youth of America and as a defender of the Okanogan National Forest for the past month. The 30 Mile Fire occured not more than 50 miles from where I happened to be that day... My thoughts go out to the families of the fallen, and to our comrade who is in Harborview, a fellow Eagle, may his recovery be speedy.

Any how.. I couldn't help but notice on my 2nd full day home that the topic of what FF1 certification entails was brought up. Well I'd think NFPA is pretty standard across the nation, but for defense I'll state that in Washington State a person deemed a Fire Fighter 1 is capable of:

Operating in an emergency situation with direct supervision. This includes: all duties involving STRUCTURE fire containment, overhaul and salavge and Occupant Rescue; All duties involving VEHICLE fire containment, and Occupant Extrication.

In addition, the FF1 must know how to safely handle incidents involving HAZARDOUS MATERIALS and decontamination thereof.

In addition, the FF1 must know about Wildland Fire/Urban Interface conditions pertinent to his department/district's area of coverage.

Ahem... as you notice nothing is said that FF1's are redcarded.. Does that mean FF1's don't have red cards? No, some have gone on and taken the classes to get that lovely swath of paper, but don't get the two confused... Oh yeah.. using a chainsaw on a house fire is a heckuva lot different than felling trees...

Now then.. EMT.. now that's useful.. in my district in particular it means you get about 150% more calls than the just FF guys. The problem with EMT is that you need to have OTEP.. which stands for something like Operational Training Evaluation Program or something.. what it does is it keeps the EMT up to date. Now then, this will vary between departments, but in ours if you are medical (That's First Responder, EMT-B, etc) then you must attend every training night involving medical stuff (AED's, Pharmacology, Bloodborne Pathogens etc etc..) In addition to all the Fire drill nights. Now then, our department requests that you get at least to First Responder level within a year of being with the department, so no one really gets to weasel out of that for too long. The exception being your Pup who happens to be heading to College and won't be around to take the FR class.

Now then What's FF2? That's new to me.. oh wait.. that must involve the Foam thing.. And some higher end Fire Fighter shin-digs which give you more room to 'think' on your own... although I'm not sure..

The Still Wet Behind the Ears, Pup...


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