"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
OCTOBER 2001

 

DATE
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10/31 Just when you thought the season was over...... We escaped any serious fires this summer. However as I write this there are two fires burning (one north and one south of our response area). Driven by 50+ mph winds it looks to be a bad night. With less than an inch of rain in the past two months and unseasonably warm temps, looks like we will have a bad winter fire season this year. Praying for snow....

Take care out there. Adios,
CJD
Rist Canyon VFD, Bellvue, CO

10/31 "This week the BLM launched its new Bureau-wide photo database Web site where employees and the public may now view, print, and download digital images from the agency's National Digital Photo Library. The new site is found on the Internet at www.photos.blm.gov. It is designed to provide access to thousands of digital images relating to the BLM from State Offices and National offices."
Quoted from a Message to all BLM Employees

You can select any state or national center (including NIFC) and keywords in a search. I hope this helps your photo search...

smiles,
GISgirl

Thanks for the link and thanks to RH who sent in a similar message that also included the link. Ab.

10/31 Although each region is different from the others, this region (R6) is going to be preparing for 50% of MEL for the coming year. More will be heard about this in the coming month or so. I think that many of us knew that this past year's budget would not be the norm, nor that it would last much longer than a year. Personally, I felt it would continue only if this past fire season was another "killer" year, but alas, it wasn't. Can't speak for any other organization, or for that matter, any other region.

One important point to keep in mind... Many in our region were advised to not make plans based on 100% MEL in order to avoid what we all knew would be inevitable cutbacks. For those that heeded this advice, and say they planned for 80% MEL, the cuts that are going to be experienced will be much less devastating. And actually, I just got off the phone with someone that is completely prepared for a barebones operation (sad but true).

It's funny how often I look back at my undergraduate and graduate education and realize that perhaps the most utilized and practical course I took was not the course that focused on the impact of wildland fire on riparian zones, but rather the accounting/budgeting 101 course I was required to take!

Wet on the Hood

10/31 You know, i never wanted to go into business after college and even while i was there i knew i'd always become a firefighter, though i knew that the best qualities. So, i "did my time", got the degrees that interested me (Economics and Geology), and now i'm applying myself to be a firefighter. Until recently, i also only thought I could become a city firefighter fighting the fire and medical emergencies of my hometown community. Now i've discovered this new realm of wildland firefighting and I want in. Up until now, I've been an Eagle Scout, a BSA Aquatics Director, part of an Urban Search and Rescue Team, a lifeguard, a lifeguard instructor, an EMT-1 candidate (i just need to take the state certifying exam) and a Nordic Ski Patrol Candidate, though i had to drop that to graduate college. So obviously, my experience in the wilderness has been a lot more profound than most, which brings me to what i need to become a career wildland firefighter. I know i could make the "big bucks" as a city firefighter, but right now thats not important. I want to enjoy what i'm doing, and i feel that being out in the wilderness is where i belong -- but then i've always known that.

Right now I'm taking the prerequisite classes necessary for entrance to the Santa Ana Fire Academy. I don't know if that will open any doors for me where i endeavor to go, but i'm hoping (in my ignorance) that this education is the right one.

What do you think?

Where would you go if you were in my shoes? I'm still going to take my EMT-1 Exam and I'd love to still do a firefighting job that i have grown to yearn for, but i still lack the experience most of these jobs seem to require before hiring. How do I become a Hotshot, a Type I Hotshot/Handcrew member, Helitack, or other wildland firefighter crew member for either the State or Federal governments. I'm really in the dark and I'm really looking for any insight, though professional insight coming from those who have been where i'm at -like yourself- would be best.

Thanks for any and all information.

Joe

10/31 Photos for Kim

www.odf.state.or.us/photo.php
www.sover.net/~kenandeb/fire/hotshot.phpl
www.nifc.gov/gallery/
www.fs.fed.us/r1/pgr/fireinfo/summary.phpl (Hit and miss for photos 2000)
www.fs.fed.us/r4/sc/fire2000/pictures/ (Some good ones here)
www.firepix.net/ (Appears to be down at present, did have access at first of this week though)
www.wildfirenews.com/fireonthemountain/images/
www.montanafires.com/headline/10photo_large.php
http://fire.ak.blm.gov/

Need more???

Hickman

10/31 Kim and All,

It's strange the BLM/NIFC fire photo website was taken down. Maybe it's being updated or moved.

I revised the Fires, 2001 links list to include links directly to the fire photo pages. There are some fine photos on these websites, some perhaps useful for powerpoint programs. Last summer I only had time to follow and list those from R5 - and R6 when I could find them. Some sites have disappeared since I did this list the first time. It's great folks are archiving fire info. There are photos of hot fires and understory burns, of spike camp and meals in a bucket, of smokejumpers and parachutes, of airtankers and helos, of flames and fire weather, of smiling people and very tired folks. The team on the Happy Camp even did a fine photo presentation for why they burned out. Good info all.

If any of you from other regions know of fire websites that have photos, please send them in. I'll put them on our table. We can browse them or use them.

Mellie

10/30 I know its early, but has anyone noticed any budgetary changes (ie reductions) due to the WTC-Pentagon Attack? Our federal budget is going back and forth right now but we can't get an answer. Does anyone know if they will still get the extra manpower or will it be taken away?

MOC4546

10/30 Glad ya'll are back up. I was worried there.

Does anyone know where www.firepix.net went? That's the image library of more than 1,000 wildland fire images. You could click on thumbnails in different categories and order larger pics. I think it was a BLM site. I'm doing a training powerpoint and its disappeared on me.

Kim

10/30

After a few technical difficulties that were storm-related, theysaid is back up. A few posts got lost in the process. If anyone wants us to repost them, please resend them.

Wildland firefighter OPM Job Series 462 and 455 are updated. There's nothing new to post on the Jobs page.

Ab.

10/29 Hi Ab -

Did Bob (posted 10/20) ever get an answer to his question about Resource Tracking Software. If not - here is what our IMT uses.

ISUITE available from www.fs.fed.us/r6/fire/incident/ then go to the software download pages.

rm

I think someone else also replied. Ab.

10/29 Anyone know if the CDF Academies are still happening in light of California's hiring freeze? How about travel to the academy?

MGB

10/28 We're just one week away from the start of the Wildfire Safety Summit in Missoula, sponsored by the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF). So far, we have more than 325 folks registered, and have speakers from Australia, Canada, Spain and the US on the schedule: USFS Fire Director Jerry Williams will kick off with the keynote address.

This promises to be another bechmark conference in the records of wildland fire, much like the earlier conferences at the UofM on "Wilderness Fire" and "Fire and Politics".

There's still time to sign up and attend: check the web site at www.umt.edu/ccesp/wfs/ or give me a call at 406-543-0013 for more details.

Dick Mangan
Chair, Program Committee

10/27 Hey Ab,

Just finished fire season 27 and the rain and snow look real good. I know there are lots of folks still runnin and gunnin around the country but 87 days away from mama and the kids is enough for this ol' fire dog. Just really can't understand why we keep having shelter deployments, what is happening out there?? God Bless all you fire-eaters out there, make sure you take time for yourselves, your family and friends. Stay safe and keep one foot in the black.

Backburnfs

10/26 A shelter deployment occurred yesterday during a firing operation on the "70" fire. No injuries were sustained. Investigation team enroute.

180

Ab adds CDF Deployment News Release in pdf.

10/26 See familysaid for DMs answer to the Wife of NorCal Tom. She says thanks for all the info on terrorists and on the legislation.

Series 462 and Series 455 are updated. No new job listings have come in for the jobs page.

Ab.

10/25 New questions on familysaid from the wife of NorCal Tom. Please read her post and reply if you have any actual "facts" on the matter.

Thanks,
Ab.

10/25 To R-5er,

Don't feel you are alone out there. I was the dispatcher on duty when the incident on the Camusa Fire was happening and I too am still haunted to this day.

Stay safe and fly straight.
EX-R-5er.

10/25 Sad News:

I am sure a few of you remember Chuck Thompson. For several years he was an Ops Chief on one of the ORCA overhead teams. Was not only one of the truely great firefighters; but, more importantly, he was a great person all around. Always looked after his Operations folks and never heard him say an unkind word about anyone.

No matter how nasty the terrain, Chuck made the rounds of the fireline everyday. (Alot of Ops Chiefs would not get off the road.) He always encouraged and never put safety second.

The wildland fire community has lost a fire icon and friend!!

Firehorse

10/24 Thanks for the help with testing guys.

To clear some stuff though, We have always pack tested. Its even on video tape. (gotta CYA) anyhow we have it figured out now. Appreciate your input guys. Later

eric

10/24 Thanks for the mechanics' job info, guys.

Hey you R5 intel people! Nice job on the page of the large southern CA area fires. Way to go! Nice presentation.
www.fire.r5.fs.fed.us/intel/southfires.php

Mellie

10/24 All of the management recommendations can be found in the Thirty Mile Action Plan at:

www.fs.fed.us/fire/fire_new/safety/investigations/30mile/30mile_actionplan.pdf

TC

Thanks TC for the exact url. Thanks also to others who pointed in the right direction.

This is a pdf file and takes a few minutes to download using Adobe Acrobat 5.0. NOTE: If you don't already have Adobe Acrobat to read this file, go to www.fs.fed.us/fire/ and download it. Ab.

10/24 As a contracter you can do background check and durg test. as far as credit checks that is a thin line , i have seen folks with great credit rip you off . bad credit does not make you a thief and a poor worker.as a new contracter here in washington state and soon to be in nev . i do all the checks on folks that want to work for me . i dont do credit checks, it is a thin line as far as them if you dont hire someone due to bad credit it may cost you more in the long run...

MORE... I am looking for some gated wyes i need about 6 of them for a burn project that i have gotten . cheaper the better. also any one inch hose .. anyone able to help out on this. will pay all shipping.
thanks FIREDOC EMAIL IS FIREDOC55@AOL.COM

10/24 On the 30 mile Investigation results,

I am heartened by the fact that according to the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER "Forest Service chief Dale Bosworth accepted the recommendations for agency reforms that include reducing firefighter fatigue, better fire-crew leadership and accountability" resulting from the tragedy at 30 mile and its investigation. It is the responsible thing to do and the first step in making for a less deadly fireground.

Does anyone have any information on what these recommendations were and how they might be implemented?

Dana Linscott
MWFA

10/24 Mike N.

I too think you can get a copy from Kathleen G. or she can head you in the right direction. Yes, that is true, he was a Santa Barbara City Firefighter and he was assigned to the fire as a line EMT. He died from heat stroke. The helicopter I was assigned to picked him up after my old captain found him on the line. It was a very tragic accident that still haunts me to this day. Hope you find what you are looking for.

An r-5er

10/24 AB,

I must respectfully correct my fellow CDF BC on the job titles post:

FEM stands for "Forestry Equipment Manager."

Another CDF BC

10/24 Hi Ab,

I think I can help Eric with his questions about testing employees. The U.S. Dpt. Of Transportation REquires every employer of Licensed Commercial drivers to take and pass a drug test prior to starting work and they must hold a current medical card. It does not matter if the employee works only one day, you have to test. Non-commercial drivers can be tested as a pre-employment screening requirement. In order to comply with any EERA, whatever region, your firefighters must pass the pack test and records must be kept on file with your company. How did you get a contract in past seasons without pack testing?

Rock

10/23 Mellie,

In Florida, the mechanics are hired as mechanics. They don't have to be firefighters first although some rangers become mechanics becuase the money is better. The jobs are advertised as mechanics by the state just as the ranger jobs are. Alot of them are excellent and certified. They work on all the equipment from pickups to transports to dozers. I don't know any in my area who work on only one type of equipment. They fix it all and do a good job.

Ranger

10/23 Here's a Seattle Intelligencer online article on the 30-mi deaths.

Absolved: Four who died in wildfire

Put this together with the safety article reported by Firescribe... Anyone know if the original FS statements can be accessed on the web?

MP

Thanks MP. This article shows up on the Wildlandfire News page link at the top of the page. Ab.

10/23 Mellie:

CDF has two primary classifications for its mechanics: Heavy Equipment Mechanic (HEM) and the supervisor position of Fire Equipment Mechanic (FEM). Both positions are hired off an open list which the public can test for every few years. The department is required to supply a minimum level of fire training for these positions. Monitor the California State Personnel Board website for testing dates.

For those inclined to drive bulldozers, CDF is currentl accepting applications. Again see the SPB website.

CDFBC

10/23 AB heres some info I have for the Mechanic looking for work on the fire front. In the Basin the majority of camp mechanics are contracted pre-season.

I know several of them from Elko and Winnemucca. Great guys. You have to have your own service rig W/ Tools and be willing to live camp life for the duration. Often they are one of the last rigs to leave.

From speaking to them 75% of what they do is flat repairs. Looks pretty involving too. I have seen 15-20 tires sitting there waiting to be mounted BY HAND.

I am positive other regions also contract mechanics. Call the regional contract officer and they could send you the RFQ.

I hope this helps.

Later Eric.

10/23 Hickman and Ab,

Thanks so much for the video link. It's perfect for me.

steve

10/23 From Firescribe:

For the person who asked about the Camuesa Fire ...
Report calls FF death a 'red flag'

NYC ...
FF return from NY

Safety Plan ...
Forest Service outlines plan for wildland fire safety

10/23 Eric,

Background checks of this type are done all the time by employers. You need to have the potential employees written approval first. There are services that do this kind of check...which mostly consists of a credit check, past employment check, and sometimes a criminal history check. They can supply the forms and are relatively inexpensive.

Physical testing can be a can of worms...can't you simply require they past a standard or arduous pack test since they have to be red carded anyway?

Fireronin

10/23 Bob,

There are two programs that are in use by the Plans Section in the federal system. One is ISUITE which encompasses IRIS (planning section), ICARS (cost) and ITS (time unit). This can be downloaded at www.fs.fed.us/r6/fire/incident/software.phpl. This program still has a few bugs, but has a great 24hr help desk during fire season (very handy at 2am when you crash the program and all your resources disappear!). This software is used extensively outside of R5 and has the added benefit of being compatible with their dispatching software so acquiring IA resources is simple. R5 uses MRPS which isn't compatible with IRIS (yet, they're working on it). IRIS is a decent program and if you're trying to combine the finance section with plans, it's the way to go.

The other program is ICECAP and was designed by a BLM employee. You can download it at fire.ak.blm.gov/unique/docs/icecap/icecap.asp. It does require another software package to operate (and it can be a little spendy), but ICECAP is a great program and has really nice looking ICS forms for the IAP. Most prefer it over IRIS. Just depends on what you're looking for.

cj

10/23 MikeN-

Believe the firefighter that died of heat exhuastion was Santa Barbara City EMT Steven Masto (sp). You might be able to get ahold of the official investigation report by calling LP's public info officer (Kathleen Good). Interesting fatality...there may be a introduction to wildland elements training amendment to all firefighters (rattlesnakes, poison oak, heat exhaustion, hypothermia....) during basic refresher. Will try to get the report sent to you all.

SAWMONKEY

10/23 Hey All,

A question came in from a 40 year old retired army vet (Sarge) who is auto, truck, turbine engine, mechanic (licensed master mechanic) who is wondering how to get a job working on engines and other vehicles on wildland fires. I'm curious too.

Ummmm Sawzall, I have a Crazy Uncle Bob in my family. While he did teach me unrepeatable things about torque, though, and other cool mechanical practicalities, he doesn't know the answer to this fire mechanic question.

Anyway, can anyone answer the Sarge and me? Are the mechanics in firecamp former firefighters (Series 462 or 455) or are they kinda like the "militia" from the forests who come to do the much-needed paperwork and bean counting? Is there a different special series for mechanics on the forest or on fire? Are fire mechanics hired AD? Are they contracted? Hey Campslug, you mollusk you, are fire mechanics in the "campslug" category too?

Similarly, what about mechanics for CDF, WA-DNR, FL-DoF or other states' fire engines or county or city engines that fight wildland fire?

Thanks,
Mellie

10/23 for steve who wanted fire footage -

www.firewise.org/www/video_win.php

goood luck
Hickman

10/23 LODD benefits:

Here's some relatively new info on educational support for surviving spouse and children of CA firefighters and contract firefighters who die in the line of duty.

Until recently, CA law provided a waiver of fees and tuition for the surviving spouse and children to attend the California State University systems and Hastings Law School in the event a firefighter (or law enforcement officer) was killed in the performance of actual fire suppression (law enforcement) activities. The new bill SB-311 (Chesbro) signed on September 25, 2001 extended that law to include contractor and contractors' employees performing services for a public agency, so long as the contractor or the employee of a contractor live in CA and are killed in performance of actual fire suppression (law enforcement) activities. Public agencies include state, county, city or any local authority or public body within the state.

Perhaps other states have such laws? This does apply to the families of the tanker pilots who died this season.
AL

10/22 lo all, hey AB.

Ive got some managerial questions for those manager types out there.

I have some questions concerning hiring and firing. Is it legal for me to require drug tests, and credit checks of potential employees. The drug tests are for obvious reasons, and the credit checks are to help reduce the risk of being ripped off. When I send a crew out I have to send them out with cash, and company credit cards with very high limits available.

Also what about physical testing. Something similar to what Fire departments do to weed out applicants?

that about sums it up thanks
eric.

10/22 Does anyone know where I can get a copy of the investigation of the fatality on the Camuesa fire. The fire was on the Los Padres in 1999, and the firefighter died of heat stroke. Apparently the report was completed about a year and a half ago but was just released last week.

Thanks
Mike N

10/22 Hi Ab

I'd like to get a copy of the resource tracking software used by the FS in the Planning Section. Can anyone point me in the right direction. I hear there is a site where the software in question can be downloaded.

Bob

10/22 Sawzall,

I take it you are saying in the past a supervisor took a promising individual and worked them into a leadership role, now we have written standards, taskbooks etc trying to do the same thing.

I think you're a little off on your GS ratings. A GS3 only needs 6 months General experience (ie MacDonalds counts, a 16 year old can do that), a GS4 needs 6 months Job Related experience (ie 6 months as a GS 3). So far as I know there is no age or time in grade restrictions on Squad Boss. When I ran a Type 6, I typically started a FF1 task book on the firefighter (we ran 1 ENGB, 1FFT1/ ENGB trainee and 1 FFT2). Theoretically an on the ball FFT2 and a decent season could result in an 18 year old FFT1 after 1 season. I never had it work that way but it could.

I think I agree with you in concept, but don't quite understand if you are against the idea of quals or you are just saying quals alone are not important and consideration of the individual also must be considered. If its the second then I agree.

I also agree completely with the idea of taking what you've been given and trying to make that individual the best they can be. Complaining about them and telling others that they are unqualified will only result in more problems (tends to make the individual avoid you and pay less attention to your suggestions). I've seen this from both sides, at one time having obtained a position someone else expected resulting in their trying to turn others against me, based on the idea that I didn't know the local conditions true and that I didn't have enough experience, probably also true although I had twice the fire experience of that individual so their argument was kind of silly. I've also had employees hired for me that I wasn't happy to receive, in some cases they turned out great (in fact one took my old job when I left) while others were beyond my ability to make into useful employees of the Forest Service.

Anonymous, assuming you are this person's supervisor and you have given the individual the benefit of the doubt, your job is to document all of the details you have mentioned, including the responses of your supervisors. Once you have presented your concerns to them you are pretty much safe from liability of this individual, that may not ease your feelings if something does happen but at least you are protected from legal issues and your documentation may help place the blame on your supervisors who allowed the problem to continue, doesn't help the GS3's much but there is only so much you can do, ultimately all of us are responsible for our own safety and that includes speaking up.

On a similar note I hear lots of people complaining about how fast people are moving up in the organization; true in the past bottlenecks and little hiring made 10 year GS4's common and it often took 10+ years to go from GS3 to engine captain,. Sorry but that just isn't how it is anymore, there are major shortcomings in our applicant pool, just hope your captains have 6 years experience, then at least they probably spent at least 1 year in each of the lower positions. I have seen 3/4/5/6/7 positions flown. I don't know how that is supposed to work but the jobs are out there. I have to agree with sawzall. Training and selection are going to be key, and remember the person you train today may be your boss tomorrow.

USFS FEO

10/21 I wasn't sure how you take in photos for the photos page but hopefully you can post this one. It kind of fits with the current times, etc. It was great to see and got alot of comments from the folks on the line. Scroll down for the full effect. Thanks

SH

You did just fine. Thanks. I like the full effect. I posted it on the Helo4 page. Ab.

10/21 Ab, please post this link. It doesn't show up on the NEWS search. This commentator thinks Marin Co CA will burn just as Oakland did. There are many places in CA like this. You'd think the public would learn.

The Fire Next Time

EW

10/21 Sawzall,

I agree that you need to have patience and teach people....

however when an individual claim all sorts of Hot shot experience and Engine experience in several regions and they are applying for an FEO position they shouold have those skills and meet the minimum requirements for the job. The days of "know how or gain the ability in x # of days is over" When Management hires an individual for a supervisory position, they should be qualified. I specifically told the selecting official that I did not feel any of the applicants on the cert were qualified. Sure, they met time in grade experience, but being a GS-5 on a fish squeezing crew in AK and having one 14-21 day assignment on a type two crew in 2000, does not make you qualified to be an FEO who is resposible for being ENGB 2 days a week, actually 5 or more days a week since there was only one ENGB for a two engine station where both engines worked 7 days a week.

If you don't understand that....that means Every Day there was not a qualified Person to run that engine module. yet Management let that happen.....if the kids on that engine would have been hurt in any way, the fault lies on Management above me, who I told and the crew because they would not step up and tell the FMO when he asked....

As for being an ass. If Something is wrong and you are made to employ either an unqualified person or an unfit person you have a duty to be an ass and try to fix the situation.

"Anonymous"

10/21 Because of qualifications its now technically possible to be a GS-3 as early as age 19. With some early academic education somebody could be a GS-4 with as few as 12 months actual combined field experience. You can have a squad boss eligible individual as early as age 21. What chainsaw or tool maintenence skills that person has depends on many factors and most of them based on whether they grew up urban or rural and/or if they had an old Grandad or crazy Uncle Bob puttering around in a garage who took the time to teach them about tools.

Tool sharpening is a real skill of precision and dexterity that takes patient practice. It also takes a lot more skill and experience to be a good tool maintenence person than it does to be a groundpig assigned to shovel number eight on a Hotshot Crew. If you grew up in an urban area and then had some short seasons on a fire crew that had no brush disposal or timber stand improvement projects, what would you know about chainsaws? Some crews do nothing but cut line. Some crews are on fires so much their project work is only in theory. On some crews only specially designated people do sharpening. And there are crews where saws are exotic status symbols that shovel number eight only sees and hears from a distance. Even some smokejumpers, the truth be told, ain't so hot when it comes to tool maintenence.

As an aside, I recall that CDF used to hire unskilled ambulance drivers with no fire experience at all, send them to a six week academy, and then give 'em a fire engine and three or four firefighters to initial attack fires with. It was a weird concept, but yet it seemed to work out okay. Before the ambulance drivers got hired they had to take a written test and then they were interviewed personally by some fire captains. It was all somehow, kind of personal.

Since 1970 we got a lot of standards and a whole bunch of qualifications for positions. Where is the evidence that those standards and qualifications are, in fact, saving the lives of these GS-3's and GS-4's everybody is so worried about? Where is the statistical evidence that says the current overburdening levels of standards and qualifications makes todays fireground any safer or crews any better than they were in 1970?

You need some standards. But its a lot of BS to say that you can take a person who is not socialized by birth and community to outdoor or forest work, pour 'em into yellow clothes, build 'em some calluses for a few seasons busting ground with their faces in the stobs, and at the end of that and some slide shows and movies they are going to understand what its all about and be leaders. Its wrong. Because it ain't the training first, its the person and the experience first. Its the whole person, and not the symbolic parts of their qualifications that makes them real leadership material or not.

If you unravel it backwards you see that each new standard and qualification came about only because somebody bought the farm or got hurt. Like a bunch of superstitious medieval peasants hanging garlic over their doors to keep the boogy man away, everybody then believes like religion that the new standards and qualifications actually addresses and mitigates the symbolized threat. Then its all about the qualifications and the standards, eclipsing the most important essential thing of all--what goes on between someone's ears, and what what makes them tick.

Tragedy strikes in spite of the standards and the qualifications, because of the same things that went on before we had them. It always turns on the way people think and how they interact with others. Who is really qualified for anything is an ongoing open question. The constant finger pointing and name calling that goes on reflects a historical fugue on the problem of determining which men match the mountains. Today, the proof of ability in the woods and on the wildland fireground is increasingly symbolic. Actual experience and practical ability is now secondary to a qualifications theory of risk management that amounts to a belief that you can abolish trouble by making trouble against the rules.

"Anonymous", I'd say if you have a squad boss who can't sharpen a pulaski or a chainsaw, teach 'em how, and try not to be an ass about it. You need to be patient. People learn better when they're treated with respect. Think back to when you were in diapers and your mother had to sharpen your chainsaw for you. You didn't always know all nor were you always right about everything like you are today. Everybody has to learn sometime.

Good leaders bring out the best in people by setting a positive tone in the workplace, even to the point of making the best of a bad situation. If you poison the well everybody drinks out of they'll all feel a little sick. They'll blame their feelings on whoever you pointed the finger at. Give some thought to whether you've helped this person--by word and deed--and if you haven't, how thats helping you and your organization get through a troubled time.

--Sawzall

Hi Saws, great to see you showing up here on the board. Ab.

10/21 "Anonymous",

Sounds like what happened to you was not uncommon this year.

I know a few old SRB engine types who jumped over to contracting after many seasons with the feds. Most are in their early to mid forties. A couple of folks said they put in apps this year to see what they could get as far as temp positions. (Age precluded them from permanent positions)

No one got offered anything more than a GS-5 lead crewman on an engine. One guy was a carded STEN.

So basically he or she would be lower on the chain of command than that recently hired GS-6 afeo with three years experience.

I realize that the pay scale isn't your call. But a temporary GS-6 or 7 would lure more people with agency experience. On a wide scale I believe this could fill a lot of gaps in FS crews for a year or two.

Just my thoughts,
-Lucky-

10/20 Non CDF'er
I believe Woody is retiring. The 2 engines in Northern Calif. are closing one engine on Mon. The FF1s that were hired for 4-0 staffing are being laid off as well as the extra FF1s at the 2 engine houses(normal for this time of year).

What is happening to my dept? Change with a capitol C. A new contract that will mean more money in 5 years or so, hopefully 3% at 50 retirement (if CDC, CHP,DFG, OES et al get the better retirement, we do too). Yes, some have left CDF for greener pastures, I heard of a division chief leaving to go to Santa Rosa FD.

Keep in mind, 1/3 more pay and 1/3 less hours is a big draw to people that can't wait for the system to pick them up or who just plain don't like the long hours, short staffing, low pay etc, etc that CDF offers in buckets. We are very much better off now than we were when I started 24 years ago as a Seasonal. I made $400.00 a month, no benefits, 5- 24 hour days, no overtime, really old stations, the list goes on. Now, at the heady rank of captain, I am for the most part happy with my life. Now if I can just get my oldest daughter to go to college and stop fooling around, I would have it all!

The future of CDF as a fire dept. is indeed bright. We are in a state of change, and as you know, change comes slow in government service. I would not change my career for anything.

Don't worry about CDF, we are here to stay!!
Captain Emmett

10/20 steve,

I don't know about video footage. You might try emailing the database manager of the BLM Fire and Aviation Image Library (www.firepix.net/) or get in touch with someone at NIFC (www.nifc.gov/) and ask. Look on the Acronyms Glossary at the top of theysaid for meanings of unknown acronyms.

Ed

10/20 MG

Here's info and photos on Stam's AK team in New York City:
http://akteam.ak.blm.gov/

Here's the link to Lohrey's PNW Team 2 that is demobing today. They have a slide show that only works with recent versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Otherwise there are no photos or readily available links to photos:
www.pnw-team2.com/wtcs/

R10 F/F

Ab sez links to these Incident Management Teams sites are available on the links page accessed under federal.

10/20 A few CDF questions from a non-CDFer. Rumors are flying:

Is it true that Woody Alshouse (sp?) the Deptuy Director of CDF retired a few days ago? Anyone know who is likely to take his place or how that might affect CDF policy? Guess I could find this on the internet somewhere. Anyone know where?

I heard CA is instituting a hiring and spending freeze on all CA budgets. Is this true? Does it mean CDF will be laying off the seasonal work force at a time when there's been no significant rainfall and the fuel moistures are still at extremely low levels across the state? Also wondering what effect a freeze would have on open rolls and beefing up their workforce. I hear a lot of CDFers are jumping to City and County FF jobs that pay 1/3 more money for 1/3 less time on the job. What is CDF coming to? Seems they have a lot of problems if the rumors are true...

non-CDFer, but curious about the future of state fire departments

10/20 Ab please say, Thanks to AG from MG re the online photos of washington.
10/20 "Anonymous",

Remember, the 3 year rule only applies to aviation currency. 5 years for all others, (ops, log, finance, plans, and the other general staff position I can't remember right now...can't be due to the 8 beers I've had...) However, I would put in a word of caution, if you've been away for 5 + years without an assignment I would suggest you attend a training session again. Never can be too safe. The animal does change.

GP

10/20 Looking for the Helena Engine Crew who was in West Yellowstone The last week of August.

very Important.

Tahoe TED

10/19 Hi,

I'm looking to acquire about 30 seconds of high quality footage of wildfire on federal lands. It is for a documentary I'm producing for my master's thesis.

I've heard that the federal agencies have an archive that is public domain.

Can you tell me how to get in touch with them?

thank you for your time,
steve

10/19 MG,

If you go to this site you can access the CA Team 3 that was at the Pentagon....

www.fs.fed.us/fire/fire_new/news_info/news/FEMA_2001-09-19.phpl

AG

10/19 Old fire guy,

I agree, it is everyones responsibility to have safety as a first priority. Unfortunately this is not the case.

On your reading in between the lines. Sure I had a candidate in mind for the position, and there were legitimate reasons he was not selected..... no big deal....that happens...... but when the selected individuals application was shown to me.....I expressly said I didn't want him due to his lack of current qualifications. I would rather have nobody than someone I would have to nursemaid.

I had a crew comprised entirely of rookies.....well, one with a couple seasons of CWN type 2 militia crew work from a trail crew that took no initiative to lead (even said as much, "I'm a GS-4 I just want to be told what to do not make decisions"...... next in line had 2 months experience with no fire time at all. The other 3 were full blown rookies, one of which could not pass his Pack test. How did he...Family freind of the AFMO who told me to "take it easy on him"..... plus my assigned FEO (note I was to have two, as I was in charge of two Engines was to have one fully qualified ENGB and one FEO as assistants.... what I got was an assistant that I had to babysit more than my rookie crew.) Now if you count....That's

  • One Assistant: no experience in 5 years or more, who didn't know how to sharpen a P.
  • One vacant Assistant Position
  • One FFT2: with little experience and none in the past 3 years, who said he wanted no responsibility.
  • One FFT2: with 2 months experience and no actual fire experience, but an excelent worker
  • Two good rookies who would work their asses off.
  • One Rookie who failed his Pack test by more than 5 minutes on the first day of work. Mind you that two days later he was passed by the family friend AFMO.
That's six people all of whom need direct supervision, in two Engines, who are directed to go opposite directions every day. Is that Safe? No it is an accident waiting to happen at best.

Another note: On the crew not feeling safe on daily assignments or on a fire..... each crew came to me and expressed this concern, Both individually and in groups. I passed this on up the line and told the crew to express this to the AFMO and FMO. I cannot force them to do that.

In addition, the District Ranger and the Crew boss for a squad boss assignment he went on, expressed concerns too.

Management had a bur under their saddle to have a complete crew.....I have correspondence that states, I don't care if they are qualified or not...just get a body.

That is just plain wrong.

"Anonymous"

10/19 I'm looking for a link to fire team websites in new york city (Lohrey and Stam) or fema website that has photos of the nyc operation now.

Did the CA team that was in Washington DC some weeks ago have any photos up? We hear a lot about the wtc, but less about the pentagon. Ab, if someone has photos, maybe this website could put up a few pentagon photos on that same page with the memorial logo? Any chance you could add the logo to the wallpaper page?

Thanks for all the work you do.

MG

We'll see about making time to do the wallpaper. Some people have already done that themselves. We'd be happy to put up pentagon and other wtc photos. Ab.

10/19 "Anonymous"-
Yes. Any manager that assigns a fire job that the individual is not qualified to perform is to be "blamed". Any FMO or AFMO that assigns that individual as a squad boss, if that person is not current on their quals.....is to "blame". Any person that permits an unsafe act to continue is to "blame", and any crew member who has legitimate safety concerns, but refuses to express those (CYA?) is to "blame". Until we get it that everyone is accountable, we'll continue to lay our brothers and sisters to rest.

On a separate note (and this may be reading between the lines incorrectly,) I sense there is a fair share of animosity because someone other than a pal got picked for the job. It is hard to imagine the "entire crew feel unsafe to work with him daily let alone on a fire...", is not based on some level of resentment that is not truly quals or safety related. Lastly, qualifications that lapse require repeat of a task book (someone else mentioned this in an earlier message). If you have folks requiring complete retaking of all coursework either 1. They believe significant changes to the training have been made and need to be learned for this person to be "qualified". or....2. They did not read or understand the 310-1.

Bottom line is there will always be someone who disregards the standards we set for safety. When they drop the ball, that means someone else has to pick it up, and excuses of "it's not my responsibility" or "I'm only a GS-?" don't wash. Safety is everyones responsibility and if it takes the last guy in line with a McLeod in their hand to hollar "whoa" then that's what they have to do.

What's the alternative besides more sad gatherings?

Old Fire Guy (who started out as a GS-3 last McLeod)

10/19 Mellie and All,

I have been hearing rumors that if you don't have next year's positions set and contracts signed ( I can't remember the exact date ), you're not going to get those resources at all due to MEL budget cuts due to the war.

Is there anyone out there who can confirm or deny this rumor?

An r-5er

10/18 Party now in FireChat at 2145 PDT. Ab.
10/18 FYI

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

Anthrax Information Resources for First Responders
To help America's First Responders cope with the Anthrax threat, the U.S. Fire Administration has posted Federal guidelines and other information resources about responding to bioterrorism incidents at

www.usfa.fema.gov/hazmat/bioagents.php

JE

10/18 Old Fire Guy,

Lets say an individual gets hired to an FEO position.....he has not fought fire at all in more than 5 years..... he is hired against the advisement of the selected individual's first line supervisor because management wants a body there whether it's a qualified/current body or not. The individual shows up to work and the first line supervisor and the entire crew feel unsafe to work with him daily let alone on a fire, yet management says "Oh he's just in a new area...give him time"....he goes on an assignment as a Squad Boss on a type 2 crew and his squad is taken away from him the first day.

The guy supposedly has all sorts of experience on hot shots, engines etc. in R-5, yet he can't sharpen a Pulaski or a chainsaw properly, he does not know how or what gridding is under any name.

This is the perfect example of why people Die.

Who is to balme? The supervisor? He sent it up the chain of command.

The AFMO, who knew of the problem but did nothing?

The FMO, who said oh he's just in a new area...give him time....? To Kill someone?

Or is it the crew who didn't express their displeasure with the FEO when asked by the FMO if there are any problems? Young kids, and that's what most GS-3's and 4's are, are not likely to pipe up to an FMO whom they have seen once in 3 months and who has only said 4 words to them.

The ability to see and confront problems is the only place where sh*t should flow uphill....particularly when it is sent on up the line.

On the 310 guide: I have had numerous freinds who have let their currency expire on some fire qual. and they have been made to take the entire regiment of classes again. Just because you took the classes 7 years ago and have not fought fire in the past 5 means you remember any of it.

I don't know about the rest of you folks.....But I know when I'm 75 years old, I'll still remember how to sharpen a saw, every handtool known to wildland fire and know how and what gridding is.

"Anonymous"

10/18 Lots of discussion on red-card qualifications, who needs to carry a red card, timeframe for expiration of quals....etc. People accustomed to action are often reluctant to "read the manual", but the manuals on fire safety are written in the blood of people who lacked the knowledge/information contained therein. Our fire critiques are used to identify what worked, what didn't, and what changes are needed. Most often we find that sufficient direction already existed......we just failed to be aware of or to follow that direction.

So, check out the Wildland and Prescribed Fire Qualification System Guide, www.nwcg.gov/pms/docs/310-1new.pdf. Also, review the 10 standard orders, and the 18 watch out and apply them! Lastly, remember that the person most responsible for your safety is you.

I'm growing damn weary of reading of the loss of talented, beloved young people because standard operating procedures were not recognized or ignored. Again, these "rules" were written for your protection, and in someone elses blood. PLEASE!

Old Fire Guy

For quick reference we have all these links and others listed on the links page under safety. Ab.

10/18 To anonymous re quals,

Your currency goes away NOT your qualifications. Just get an assignment as a trainee and be signed off and you are good to go.

JE

10/18 Hmmmmmmmmmm, questions about the hiring process. Let's see if I can remember what I've heard...

As you know, ASAP was used last year for Temp and Merit Promotion hires and organized at the national level with some problems - mostly getting quality vs eligible rosters out of the system in a timely fashion based on Form C. In terms of "timely fashion" what I mean is that with national hiring, all regions follow a top-down schedule (last year, MEL Madness) which may or may not work with a region's own hiring and training needs based on their own regional fire cycle.

Anon, R3 Firehire Gal and Fred, I've also heard that the WO bought AVUE, another software package, but whether it is ready for the hiring process right now is in question. We can't wait. We need to get going. Estimates are that R5 is already almost a month behind the hiring curve to meet the Feb. cert date. Evidently current certs expire at the end of Oct. and new certs will reflect the new hiring process.

To reach MEL 2002 in R5, if I recall correctly, we're going to need to fill 500 positions and to backfill appx 200-300 positions that will become vacant due to merit promotion. That's 700 to 800 total, as many positions as last year.

As of last week, the verdict was still out regarding software program and whether hiring will be nationally coordinated. Merit promotion hiring may or may not be done at the national level. Temp hiring (GS-5 and below) may be organized at the national level and again use ASAP. Whether nationally or regionally coordinated, if ASAP is used I hope last year's problems will be addressed. As far as the AVUE program goes, it's is likely to have its own unique and unknown problems. There is supposed to be (or already was?) a HR meeting in Washington this week to make a decision on some of these issues.

As information comes out of those important meetings, it would be nice to be updated here. Two other possibilities exist in R5 if hiring is not done nationally: One is that we'll contract with OPM to do the job and produce certs (probably a costly process). The other is that R5 as a region will use some other undefined process or program.

Readers, if you know anything, please inform us. I'll also try to stay abreast of decisions and report them here. In the meantime, the jobs page continues with fewer listings as we all take a breather and I'll update the jobs-FAQ as the hiring season comes up to full speed.

Mellie

Thanks, Mellie. Ab.

10/18 Ab...

Thanks to all who have given their insight to "Fire Cost". The bottom line is that taxpayers want and expect good customer service when the time comes.

I believe that its better to be a bit on the safe side rather than run the risk of loosing a fire. Pay now or pay later? I'd rather side on the pay now, lets put the bucks into suppression (stopping a disaster) rather than into rehab (cleaning up afterwards) which means being more proactive. Also believe that the bucks going into the fuels program now is probably one of the more proactive steps taken in a long time. Fire will always be a integral part of ecosystem management. Congrats to the 1100hrs of OT. Hope that it came with a lot of sweat, dirt, and smoke.

R3Firetaz

10/18 The Mann Gulch plane returns to Missoula

www.missoulian.com

Kelly

10/18 I have heard that the WO has bought AVUE and will probably be trying that program out for hiring this year. Another new system... Hope they have field tested it. Anyone else know anything more on this?

R3 Firehire Gal

10/18 I am seeking documentation on the regulations for currency in Red Card qualifications.

I am under the impression that if you do not have a qualified assignment within 3 years, your qual goes away. ie., If I leave firefighting for 5 years...all my quals become worthless....That meaans I have to go through all of the training again.

Am I correct?
Ab, Please post this as
"Annoymous".

10/18 The Forest Service Fire Hire website with all current information can be accessed at:

http://www.fs.fed.us/people/employ/asap/

The asap stands for Automated Staffing Application Program. There you will find links to the positions available, locations, how to apply, Form C to fill out, etc. Good luck with this process. They worked out some bugs last year. Smokejumper vacancies are flying now.

W-O-F

Thanks W-O-F. For those of you new to wildlandfire.com, there is an acronym glossary that has such info. The link is at the top of this page. Acronyms are updated weekly as new ones appear on the site. ASAP and the link to the asap site have been up since sometime last year when ASAP was first mentioned on theysaid. Ab.

10/18 CJ

I have heard that a job that I want to apply for was going to be flown using AVUE. The person who told me didn't know anything about AVUE or where I could get more info on it. All he knew was that it was a possibility. Since then I have been searching the web and asking everyone I know about AVUE and have not found a thing on it. Tonight I searched the F.S. web site (fs.fed.us) and found the acronym in some meeting notes and name attached to it. I emailed this person who works for the WO to try and get some info, hopefully she responds. If you or anyone else know about AVUE please speak up. If not I will share any info when and if I get a response.

Fred

10/18 VV,
Thanks for the info on the Zuni crew in NYC. That's who they were. My nephew would be interested in making a photo for his wall if you have one to share.

adftr was right. The slideshows at the Bateman Team site took forever to download but are worth the wait.

PB

10/17 Yes sir,

Things are fine, a little wine
makes me feel aglow
A small little look
a good book
and off to sleep I go

Goodnight. :)

Groundpig.

10/17 IA Dispatcher.

Office slug?? I think not! A dispachter is as near to a God on this earth as one can come. Don't you relize the power you hold? Anybody dis's my dispatch center or dispatchers is doomed to a summer of project work cleaning outhouses and picking up trash. We hear a lot of "Sorry Dude" have gotten any calls or "Dude", I let the phone ring, why did't you answer? or "is something wrong with your radio? you better have the radio tech check it out."

I found out long time ago you don't piss off the cook and you make nice to the dispatcher. We pay homage to the ones who control our summers with flowers and candy, it works wonders. Just take it from one who learned a lesson the hard way a long time ago.

Just sign me a
Wise Person, (now)

10/17 Anyone know about the FS hiring process for this year? Are they going with ASAP or AVUE or something else? Will it be national or regional or local? Did they learn from last year's problems with Form C and hardcopy or digital or both? Will they clear the lists of last-year applicants soon and start over? I wouldn't mind hopping into the mix again with more experience but I was wondering when would be a good time??? Shouldn't the forests be working on the process now to be ready for training in Jan and Feb?

CJ

10/17 In regards to the Wildland Fire Safety Conference 2001 we currently still have space available in two of our tours we are offering.

1. Bitterroot Fires:
One Year Later Drive Down the Bitterroot Valley, stopping at various sites along the way to take a closer look at these landscapes more than a year after the summer 2000 fires. The Bitterroot Restoration Project Group will be on hand to conduct a portion of the tour and answer your inquiries. In Sula, you'll have the opportunity to compare salvage versus non-salvage practices and view comparative sites. The amount of hiking will be dependent on interest and weather, so come prepared to spend a significant portion of the day outside.

Date: Monday November, 5th
Cost: $70.00 (lunch, snacks and transportation provided)

2. Touring Missoula A rare opportunity to visit topical(not tropical) sites in Missoula all in one day. Visit the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Smoke jumpers base, Fire Science Laboratory, Fire science exhibits at the historical Museum and the new Missoula technology and development center. Resident experts will make presentations at each site and be available to answer questions.

Date: Monday November, 5th
Cost: $60.00(lunch, snacks and transportation provided)

For further information about the tours or to register please contact Lisa Gerloff at 406-243-4623 or by email.

10/17 Hey Old Guy!

SoCal Captain is back after a month long computer problem... (hopefully fixed) .. Your comment about the 081 series was great!! But guess what... I worked 081 for a year and a half... Thanks for your suggestion that I work as an 081, maybe you should try it. I had half of the responsibilities and none of the supervision but was paid as a GS-7, but the job sucked... I came back to the FS because the FS is where I belong...I love wildland firefighting and serving the people (caring for the land and serving people). I don't want to work as an 081... I want the 0462 firefighters to be respected as "Professional Wildland Firefighters" not semi-skilled Forestry Technicians...... NATIONWIDE

Wildland firefighting should be as much a professional series as forestry, botany, archaeology, or hydrology. I agree that those series require more classoom, but wildland fire suppression requires more field and fireline experience (12-20 years to become a Captain). Why keep a group of people labeled as technicians when they perform the same level of protection as professionals? Believe it or not... we offer college credit now for wildland and fire science courses.... and there are even wildland fire science degrees!!! After completion of the apprentice academy, apprentices are almost half way to an AS degree!! I think the FS still doesn't recognize any of those credits towards the 0401 series even though they are classes offered from the FS sponsored programs.....

SoCal Capt

10/17 To USFS FEO –
Thank you for your last post and for summing things up so well as I apparently failed to in my original post.

Over the past few days, I have taken a few moments to do the math as well and have found that a seasonal can potentially work that much overtime sticking to work/rest guidelines, etc. The real issue (once again not very clearly stated) was that I don’t believe it can be done safely. Overhead and management should be paying more attention to this and not setting our firefighters up to be in this situation (except on limited occasions for I.A.). By the end of a couple of 18 hour shifts, nobody is at their best and it doesn’t get any better when you pull those kinds of shifts for 14 days in a row repeatedly.

To J.L.M. FKA Concerned –
Like USFS FEO, I don’t get the jealousy part either. Where did that come from???

I’m happy and proud as well in my position as an “office slug” (a.k.a. dispatcher). If I wanted to dig line, I’d be out there sweating with the rest of your crew. However, I find my family and family values to be more important to me than making money and would never sacrifice either for the lifestyle of a hotshot crewmember. Trust me, I make plenty of overtime myself. Money is not an issue; the family will always come first.

Having said that, I’m struggling to see where jealousy comes into this.
Awaiting clarification…
I.A. Dispatcher

10/17 I don't understand all the talk about getting 1100 hours of OT by a seasonal. I agree with old dude in great job getting 1100 hrs. Our hotshot is alittle over that mark.

Good job old dude.

An r-5er

10/17 Crown Fire:

Keep your eyes open for the San Bernardino NF... A secondary firefighter Fire Prevention Technician position is open.....just need to make the contacts and submit the application.....

/s/ Crazy Gideon

10/16 Regarding comments made by "concerned about the future of firefighting".
Congratulations on breaking the 1100 hour OT mark.
We need more meatheads who like to work hard, spike out all the time, and are desperate for money.
I am a little confused on a few matters that Concerned mentioned however.
  • He can't survive on a measly 600 hours of OT per season, yet he does like to see his kids more than just a couple of times per year.
  • He doesn't like noise in fire camp when he's trying to sleep (apparently doesn't work any night shifts).
  • Those who make noise in fire camp obviously don't work as hard as Concerned does.
  • Seems to believe that "down time" is good for catching up on the rest he doesn't get back in fire camp.
  • Concerned likes spiking out because he gets a good day's work in even though he might not get any support from helicopters.
  • Concerned hates wasting taxpayer's money, even though he thinks that much of the fire program is a waste of money. (Must not be talking about his part of the fire program.)
  • Concerned get's real mad when someone sticks a gun to his head and forces him to use unwanted equipment.
  • He doesn't like wet parking lots, when there's miles of roads that need water.
  • He doesn't like dozer lines next to roads, helicopters that dump water in the interior and clueless overhead who are overly sensitive.
  • He doesn't like engines on wilderness fires and cats that sleep with dogs.
  • Concerned doesn't like complicated fires that clutters his mind when common sense is all he needs.
I get concerned whenever I see rigid thinking operating in a fluid situation like firefighting.
Some things come with the territory, I say keep an open mind and do your best with what you are confronted with.

A word of advice- hug your kids more and work a little less OT.
Old Dude

10/16 Ladies and Gentlemen: As another fire season draws to a close I wanted to thank you, my friends and colleagues in the silver state for your assistance for a safe and profitable experience. The season is slowing down and most of us WAE folks are being furloughed for the winter. The districts may keep a few of you until it snows or for training. Please continue to be safe in what you do on and off the clock. My special thanks to everyone, I was priveliged to work with and for in the center of the state. We have great people on our Engines and in the office.

Thankyou :

  • Troy : thanks for making Eureka Station your home. I have worked for a few supervisors but by far you have been the best. I have worked for great people before so If some of you out there are concerned please dont be. Troy started anew in a new state & new district. We always knew where we stood with you and you made all the difference in our season. thanks for your support.
  • Jeff (who will be on the shots next season up north in the trees) for your hand work and great attitude.
  • Dave (our Big Dumb Animal) for your dedication to step up to the plate as a crew lead and AFEO, best of wishes to you with the shots and/or a rappel crew next year. You always have a home in eureka. Ian, You grew in your job thanks to a great many people over the years. You a great assistant foreman and one day you will be a terrific EML, hell I'd work for/with you any time.
  • Theron, thanks for bringing strentgth and knowledge back to our crew this year, you too will make a great FEO/foreman when you choose the right time to make it.
  • Chris "WID" I wont embarass you with your nick name nationally. Thanks for coming to nevada, I will not bash any one who comes out here from NYS again. Your doing a great job here "safe, smart and strong" and I hope you're my AFEO next season, I can use all the good help I can get. Good job on your FFT1, ICT5 & ENGB.
  • Paul, I wish you had stayed longer, you have a good start for your first season. I hope you solve the problems and get back into the game.
  • Shawn: You have a great start as well, Thanks for leading 45 this year as Captain and doing a fine job for yourself and the district. The R-5 things will be released from you system in time and a R-4 calm will fill you. I know I've done it myself.
  • Miguel: I'll be looking for your application this spring, great job on your detail and great timing.(1/2 day here and we hit a type 3 fire in ely).
  • A SPECIAL THANKS goes out to our severity crews (agency and contract) who visited this year, Thank you for your assistance on our district fires. Engine 73 COF, Keith H & derrick, eric and erik. You were voted our best severity crew by our kids this year congrats. Thanks for your hard work. Hopefully we'll see all of you next year.
  • Thanks to all of our centers CNIDC, MINDEN, ELY & ELKO for sending us on assignments and keeping us in COMMO.
  • Thanks to D&D for being our fire staff.
  • Thanks to Lisa & Mike at Bam & Austin for your help and support this season.
Have a safe winter every one.

eml johhny.

10/16 Last week I read a report in the paper that the c.d.f. investigators did not hold the c.d.f. engine crew responsible for not checking the martis fire, even though they mopped up the camp fire the day before. Seems to me THEY SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. If they couldn't check it themselves they should have made arrangements for someone else to do it.

Put it this way, if they would have checked the fire like they were supposed too, would we have had the martis fire?

hugh

10/16 I don't get the jealousy bit, I'm happy and proud to be an engine slug and have no interest in living the life of a hotshot. That out of the way, I said that it was possible for a 1039 to get 1100+ hours without exceeding the work rest guidelines. I just don't think all those hours are gained without occasionally exceeding the work rest guidelines, everybody exceeds them at some point, engines, overhead, crews etc and there are valid reasons to. They are guidelines not laws and there are approved exceptions to them (IA is the big one, but there are many other valid reasons).

That is where I was going with the comment about overhead signing times, it is the STL, DIVB or IC that need to held accountable for unacceptable hours, crews are trying to do what they are told. If the overhead signs the times they are validating the violation of the work rest guidelines if there was no good reason for it. They should have pulled the crew off the line earlier. As far as common sense goes, that is true to a point but a recent article just showed that the lack of one nights sleep is the equivelent of a blood alcohol level of 0.1 legally drunk in most states. How much common sense do most drunk drivers show and really how sharp are you after 24-36 hours on the line? It happens to all of us but I know I'm not at my best by the second sunrise.

Not quite clear on the disagreement

USFS FEO

10/16 A friend who owns a screen printing business here in Hot Springs and whose father is a retired fire fighter has shirts that have the memorial pin logo. He went ahead and took a small picture of the pin and paid $400 to have separations made. The separations are what they use to make the silk screens. Anyway the colors are a little washed out, but I like them (I already have two). Steve has already sent a box of shirts to the pentagon.

To see and\or buy the shirts goto memorial shirts.

Click on the little picture to see a bigger version.

Jim

10/15 To WG, Thanks it seems to me that you must have been there sometime.

To I.A. Dispatcher and USFS FEO,
This is very simple if you do the math you will see that a "mere seasonal" can work more than 1039 overtime hours. To save you the trouble Idid it for you, lets say a "mere seasonal" was hired on April 8, 2001 and worked the pay period without any overtime. RDO's, Fri & Sat. Starting April 29 she was working 16's every 14 , with one mandatory day off in between. She was laid off on October 9th at the end of 16 hrs. I figured 144 hrs overtime every 14 day tour with the exception of two tours at a mere 128 and came up with a total of 1,552 hours of overtime. Now I ask you, did she break the law? I may be off on my pay periods but I'm not going to look.

I think that adequate rest falls under common sense. Believe me if I'm too tired somebody is hearing about it.

Remember jealousy will get you nowhere. I love you all. I can feel a big group hug comin' on!!

J.L.M. FKA Concerned

10/15 A visit to Bateman's site and pictures are worth the time it takes to wait for them to load.

Thanks
adftr

10/15 To anyone who visited the sand bar at the ThirtyMile fire. Did the sandbar have a lot of moisture in it? If it did, would this present a problem with a heat wave from a crown fire hitting it. Would moisture make the air denser and harder to breathe inside the shelter? Also, would there be a serious threat from steam burns? Just a thought.

Observer11

10/15 Mellie – I am going to do some winter time research on "pluralistic ignorance." I am formulating an idea. If you acquire a copy of the Abilene Paradox video, could you let me know?

JTB – Here are photos of the sandbar. The shelter gives you an idea of size. There were additional sandbars nearby as this appears to be an old oxbow. The only reason I could think that the crew might not have considered it was the fire across the river to pushed them (radiant heat) away from it. Or as you say, and are probably correct, the time for considering alternatives had lasped.

FIREDOC – I agree. You got my point.

CDF BC – Here is a photo of some willows in a large riparian area above the deployment site. I do not believe the live fuel moisture mattered. This is a good indication of the heat being pushed ahead of the flaming front. These were oldgrowth willows and alders!

DM

I put all three photos of the sandbar and the willows on the 30-mi photo page. Ab.

10/15 About the Thirtymile Fire deployment site;
I've visited the site and I don't want to be a Monday morning quarterback and say what people should have done, but...the sandbar looked big enough to me to hold the 14 people easily. When I was there, I wondered why no one set up on the sand. The willows were not consumed - in early September they were just browned from scorch, leaves still on.

True, a tree did fall on the western edge of the sand bar (I don't know when though), but the road was just as vulnerable to falling trees so I think it's a draw on that issue. It's my opinion (and only an opinion) that the sandbar looked like just as good a deployment site (just as survivable) as the road, if not better.

Seeing it the way I did, the theory that the crew was surprised by the fire hitting them seems to explain some things about where they deployed. Only the people that were there can explain why they did what they did, but they may have been in a hurry and I believe the sand bar was between them and the fire. It would be hard to muster the nerve to run toward a raging crown fire to a deployment site.

I never saw the site before it was burned, so it's hard to say how it looked when the fire was bearing down. For instance, when I was there, the rocks were clean as a whistle, but the report said that during the burnover there was a lot of needle-cast and stuff that burned under the shelters that were on the rocks.

But there seemed to me to be no reason to rule out the sandbar...at least after the fact, when the smoke and flames were gone and there was plenty of time to consider all the options.

For what it's worth,
BLM Bob

10/15 PB .....

I'm a member of Bateman's Type 1 Incident Management Team who just returned yesterday from the WTC Disaster in New York City. Yes, we did have the Zuni Hotshots from the Southwest Area working on this incident, so that is most likely who your cousin saw. We also had the Midewin, Augusta, and Jackson Hotshots as well. All of them did an outstanding job, and it was a pleasure working with them. If you log on the the Bateman Type 1 Team website (available through the Southwest Area homepage or the links here), there are alot of pictures from our assignment with the crews included. If you'd like more, I have pictures of the crew(s) at work.

Thanks -- VV

Link to Bateman's team at home and in NY city (and to the other IIMTs with websites). Ab.

10/15 To the person who asked about the sandbar at the 30-mi.
If you can get the whole report to download properly, the first page is a pretty good photo of the site. More closeup than Abs photos.

Is it common in Washington for the Air Ops to order engines on an incident? In R5 they only recommend and the IC takes the action. How sad and ironic that the engine not ordered by the IC was the one who called tired F/F in to fight a spot fire. and why didnt the engines check in with the IC on their way up the road? The IC should say timeout we need to reconsider when the going gets tough, but didn't the squad boss volunteer? I know things can get confusing on the ground sometimes and leadership is not always clear.

Sorry for the Monday morning quarterbacking. I don't mean to add to peoples pain.

R5 groundpounder

10/15 Not to stir the pot here, but I have wondered if the crew boss and the squad bosses at 30mi had worked together much before the incident. Knowing Tom, who was quite a leader and a fine human being, I am still puzzling over (torn apart over) the confusion that led to his and the others' deaths.

FIREDOC, none of us are blaming, just trying to understand to prevent its reoccurrence.

I love you all. The death of anyone in our fire family is such a tragedy.

Mellie

10/15 Green engines
While the White with Green stripe actually looked pretty nice, I'm happy to see the engines stay Green, I agree with the recognition factor and have seen white and green used by at least one other agency (I think it was Eldorado Hills, CA), plus white and red or white and blue are fairly common. Green is fairly unique to the USFS, on a safety factor NFPA recommends white reflective stripes over other colors due to the best visibility. As far as diferentiating from other resources (timber, rec etc), we do have that FIRE on the side and won't the other shops still be going to the White and Green design? I also noticed the new engines have a much larger Shield on the door. Thanks for the info on the old engines I'll have to make an effort this winter to track them down.

Red cards
If you read the 310-1 it states (and this is not exact I'm going from memory here) it is not neccessary for red cards to carried at the crew boss level or below (I can't remember whether crew boss is where it starts or below crew boss). Not that it is a good idea not to occassionally check red cards but thats what "the book" says. Personnally I've found the red card system and NWCG standards are played with pretty loosely, some places adding requirements and others letting stuff slide, I know of instances where FFT1's took out Type 6 engines and others that required additional quals before allowing an engine boss to run a Type 3 engine. Interpretation of the 310-1 is pretty off the wall sometimes.

The computer systems so far leave a lot to be desired(as with many of our computer issues), I've had quals deleted for no apparent reason and on at least one occasion had a qual added that I am not qualified for (I didn't even know what the job was, let alone know how to perform it) plus at least on the last computer program it only allowed space for 7 or so quals, I max that out and I just have the basics for my job, I don't have any idea how some one at the DIVB level or higher is supposed to fit all their quals on the card.

OT
Well a "mere seasonal" 1039 could theoretcally maintain their 2-1 work rest ratio with 1039 hours OT (8 hours base, 8 hours OT, 8 hours rest), throw in working most of their days off (14-1 limit) and you could reach 1100-1200 hours without violating the work rest guidelines. Add some 24-36 hour initial attack shifts (IA is somewhat exempted from the work rest guidelines) and the typical extension of the 1039 at the end of the year and is possible to reach that kind of time without violating work rest guidelines. Do most of these crews reach hours like that by following all the work rest guidelines? I'd guess no, but you would have to check their times which had to be signed by somebody of higher authority and that issue opens a whole new can of worms.

Fire cost
People who complain about how fire agencies spend money on fires are really barking up the wrong tree, Fire departments respond to societies wishes, currently society wants to see engines parked on every street corner even if it is a hand crew show, those engines are providing PR, maybe no structures are truly threatend but if there were no engines sitting on the corners and one structure was lost the fire community would never hear the end of it and would probably wind up paying far more than the cost of parking some engines, and that IC could kiss any career plans good bye. If you want to see costs go down teach people that a smoke 500 yards in the black is not a threat to them, get them to stop living in the wildlands, to build houses out of non combustable materials etc, bashing fire managers won't do much for the problem since they are just responding to the problem not creating it. When was the last time you saw a home owner walk by a strike team of engines crashed out lawn chairs telling them to get off the payroll and go home........ probably never, those crews are probably crashed out from all the milk and cookies those homeowners brought them for being there.

USFS FEO

10/15 If you read this page carefully, you discover the "mere seasonal" you're referring to is a hotshot. I don't think it's too hard to acrue that much overtime legally with the tight and full "mere seasonal" fire schedule they keep.

WG

10/14 This showed up in our shift plan one day on the Elk Mountain II complex in the Black Hills, courtesy of HR guy Jim Legg...

Getting Back into the Stream of Life after Fire Season
Readjustment

One day soon we will be returning to normal life, and it may not be easy. Here are some tips for a slow, sure withdrawal from the fire line life:

  • Make a tape recording of helicopters flying overhead so you can replay it for yourself when you go to bed. Turn on all the lights in your bedroom before trying to sleep. Put your dirty socks beneath your pillow. Sprinkle some dirt and pine needles on the sheets. Then have the milk man honk your car horn for you at 4:00 AM.
  • During the day, turn a stove burner onto warm, then sit on it. Make a sandwich, sit on it, go outside and drop it in the flowerbed, then go stand beside a full garbage can while you eat it.
  • Twice a day, hit yourself on the shins with a hammer. If you carpool to work, ride in the trunk. Then tell your carpool buddies to forget to pick you up when it is time to go home.
  • In the evening at home, start a fire in the fireplace, close the damper, shut off all the lights and read a comic book by flashlight.
  • For breakfast, cook a nice omelette, pour a cup of coffee, put both coffee and omelette in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes before putting them on the table. Then lay your head down in the plate and go to sleep.
stay safe, stay strong, stay together.
they'll be needing us again come springtime.

old-rookie

10/14 For J.L.M. f.k.a. concerned,

Can you (or anyone else out there???) spell out for me how a "mere seasonal" can earn 1100 hours of overtime in one season while adhering to agency policies, work/rest guidelines, driver duty limitations (this one may not apply here), etc.?

I'm not doubting you and your fellow crewmembers have done it, but I wonder how anyone does it safely and without breaking agency rules.

You mention common sense and training being so important and I agree that they are both incredibly important. However, adequate rest should be mentioned in there too. Being tired (from all of that overtime) could prevent our firefighters from thinking clearly and making difficult, life-saving decisions when it matters most.

- I.A. Dispatcher

10/14 Hi Abs,

You have the best wildland site on the Net and I thought that "They Said" might help me get an answer to a contracting question.

In July 2001 we responded to an RFP (NDB01059) generated by the BLM, Nevada, to provide engines and tenders for station coverage throughout Nevada to help the BLM reach and maintain MEL staffing. Initially, this RFP was to include all BLM districts statewide but was later modified to only include the Elko and Ely districts after the other districts had cut "side deals" with out of state under cutting (price) contractors. Eventually, only Type 5 4x4 and larger engines were solicited (no type 6s or tenders). This contract was for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. This solicitation was let-out by the BLM National Business Center, Denver. Closing date was 07/19/01 (right in the middle of fire season). We spent many hours preparing a response to the solicitation and its many amendments, at a very busy time. We have never had any response to this RFP, either from the National Biz Center, the BLM Nevada State office or the respective District offices. In fact, we have made many phone calls to all of the above and have not received one call back, on this subject. Rumor has it that both the Elko and Ely district offices again cut side deals with out of area contractors (contractors that did not meet the Regional Tactical Engine requirements for equipment and personnel).

My question; does anyone know what happened to this Contract? Was it not awarded because of the use of "under cutters"? Will it be implemented and awarded for next season? This RFP was poorly written and had several modifications but we that responded should be given the courtesy of some answers.

Thanks.
Real Region 4 Firefighters

10/14 Maybe someone can help me with this.

My New York City cousin said she saw a double line of native Americans walking in formation near Times Square a couple of weeks ago. I told her I thought it was one of our Hotshot crews from R3 since Bateman's team was there. Stutler's R6 team was too, but across the river on the NJ side. Does anyone know which crew that might have been? Does anyone have photos of the crew walking through the city? Her son would like a photo of them to add to his wall.

She says to tell everyone, "thanks so much. The kindness and support have been overwhelming."

PB

10/13 Ab sez - check out the great Air Tanker phtoto sent in by DV --

on the AirTanker 3 page.

Taken Oct 12, 2001 LA County near Santa Clarita.

Another poster sent this in from the AAP air tanker pilots' site. When asked which tanker it was, Barry said "I'm guessing T-127. I think that's the only one with that modified nose section HP operates."

10/13 The FWFSA web site is again up and running.

If you are a Federal firefighter that has or will befinefit from the Association it is time to consider joining.

-Tonka

10/13 Thanks JTB for the info on the sand bar and river situation. I wonder what the live fuel moisture was in the willows and how they looked after the fire passed through. Were they totally consumed or otherwise?

How many more fatigue related injuries and deaths are we going to have to have until the fire agencies finally adopt and enforce appropriate work/rest cycles?

The time has come for the 24 hour shift/24 off once and for all for initial phases of large fires. When the time is appropriate on an incident, roll the shift to a 12 and release the excess resources.

I don't desire to take any shots at those affected here, just trying to understand this whole thing to pass along to others to prevent it happening again.

Another CDF BC

10/13 Jackson,

I don't think it is as common for people to go on a fire and not be carded for that position as it is for a persons card to be as it REALLY should be. Since the red card system has gone to "the white cards", coming from NIFC, my card hasnt been accurate ever. I am qualified, by the NWCG, for FFT1, ENOP, HECM, FALB, ICT3, CRWB, and ect. but my red card only says HECM and FFT2. From what I understand, the card system, I dont know the system name, is very particular. If you dont have one course it could throw your whole qualifications off, also if you dont keep current it throws you off. I am pretty sure those engine personnel were qualified and had certificates and such to support that but some computer said they werent. I dont think any FMO (federal agency) would send a crew to a fire not being qualified for that position, but I have seen what you are talking about - not having your function on your red card. I think the system is good but has problems, like I said before - I have never had a accurate red card with all my qualification right.

signed,
"Red Carded... I think"

10/13 Jackson:

Yes, I have found that it is uncommon to have red cards checked. But I can tell you that when I went through my Crew Boss training on my old forest, I was told to always check for red cards. Afterall, a crew boss is responsible for her or his crew and their quals. This year I checked three times here in Region 6. I checked both BLM and F.S. firefighters on crews and not once did I find that everyone had a current red card (expired red cards don't cut it). And when working with the Sawtooth N.F. I found numerous situations where firefighters had not been issued their red cards in July!!

By the way, these folks had done everything they were supposed to do, physicals, pack test, etc, they were just waiting on the forest FMO to get his shit together. For some reason they couldn't go directly through the district FMO.

I have had to make someone sit down and wait at a base camp until a fax was received from an FMO, and yes, the firefighter was royally pissed off, but heck, it wasn't his fault! Or at least it wasn't completely his fault. It's everyone's responsibility to make sure they are current and up-to-date on their quals and their records. Don't count on other people...

Engine Dude

10/13 Mellie, et al.

Try to find a copy of The Abilene Paradox video; Peter J. Jordan, Janice M. Reynolds, Kirby Thomas; CRM Productions, New York, c1984. It might help us understand the 30-Mile tragedy a little better, and maybe even South Canyon.

anon

10/13 This past fire season, my first as a contractor and firefighter, an established contractor offered to add my equipment to his contracts for only 25% of my gross income. I would provide all the personnel, the fire trucks, insurance and he would take care of getting me dispatches. He also said he would help get me through pre-season inspections with his friends in high places. Since I had no fire or previous business experience this sounded like a great option. He also claimed to be able to "get around" the 3 crew person manning requirements and that he could also show us how to get our radios from the government, instead of purchasing them ourselves.

I didn't take him up on it and now realize this is illegal. What should I do?

In R4 and wanting to do it right.

10/13 Dan on the San Bernardino has a beautiful Mormon-Herrington engine (1940?) restored that he takes to musters down here.

180

10/13 Ab - sad news,

A good friend with Houston Texas Fire dept. called me this morning to let me know an HFD firefighter was killed this morning. This is unofficial but Chuck is a 30 year member of HFD so he knows whats going on. The incident happened approximately 0500 this A.M. One other firefighter missing and one critical. This has been a horrible year for firefighters everywhere.

Everyone please stay safe.
Biz.

Condolences, Biz. Please be safe, All. Ab.

10/13 To DM.
The real leader died in the 30 mile fire.

To all
dont sit there and bad mouth the dead firefighters from 30 mile. they where doing what the so call over head told them . tom died there he was a leader and a damm good one . but some good and bad will die doing the job..... it makes me sick to see all the arm chair wannabes bad mouthing some many .. let it go folks ... rest in peace tommy

FIREDOC

09/12

The Jobs page, Series 462 and Series 455 are updated. Jobs in the series are down by half due to closures. Current certs expire at the end of the month and the application process will begin again. A new round of MEL madness coming up!

Ab.

10/12 I heard about a recent fire where the Check-In/Status Recorder asked to see everyone's Red Card when they checked in. The results were surprising -- no one on a particular Type 6 engine crew had a red card. The crew called their Fire Management Officer who faxed to the fire camp a copy of some red cards for the three crewmembers. Everyone on the crew was qualified only as a Type 2 Firefighter. There was no Engine Boss, or even a Type 1 Firefighter. The crew was sent home, and their FMO complained bitterly to the Incident Commander.

Another person showed up to fill a resource order for Equipment Time Recorder (EQTR). He had not had any kind of red card for the last 3 years, and had never worked as or been red carded as an EQTR. He didn't even know who an EQTR worked for in the Incident Command System. He was pissed off when he was sent home too.

A couple of questions: Is it common for people to work on fires without being red carded for their position? How often have you had your red card checked at a fire?

Jackson

10/12 Hello,

My name is Jeroen I'm from Holland and I regularly watch national geographic. For about two ago I saw a report on firefighters. During this report the reporter visited a man who lives for 6 months in a house on the top of a mountain to detect fires.

This is where my request comes in. The reporter made circles with a helicopter around this house with a striking very beautiful sunset. I'm desperately looking for this (or these photos) and I've been through all the photos on this subject on your site.

Would you please be so kind as to inform me where I can find these photo's. The fire house on top of a mountain with a beautiful sunset.... it would be great if you could help me...

Yours sincerely,
Jeroen

He's talking about a national geographic special on fire lookouts. Any of you lookouts know anything about this? Ab.

10/12 Ab,

I didn't see this new info on Maximum Entry Age on your site or maybe just missed it. Please disregard if it's a duplicate. I'm sure folks would be interested.

Bubba

All of you who applied during MEL Madness and were told you exceeded the MEA should get in touch with the forests you're interested in if you're younger than 37. The current rosters will be kept open until the end of October and then there will be a new round of applications and hiring. Some forests might be trying to get in touch with you. There are still positions to fill. Ab.

10/12 To Mellie,

Sorry if you thought that the remark I made regarding professional and white engines set you off. Let me explain my comment further.

Over the last few years I have seen where Supervisor, Prevention, some Light Engines, and LEO vehicles were using the white with dark green reflective stripe. I have to tell you it looked good, it gave Fire and LEO a distinction from the rest of the Forest Divisions because of the nature of their roles (ie, Fire and LEO as opposed to Sivilculture, Timber, Roads & Trails, etc.).

I feel that although we are all part of a Forest, its Fire and LEO who tend to be the most visible when an incident is going on. I could go into other reasons that fall into other Catagories (such as stealing funds from the Fire Budget for useless programs and bogus "administrative" costs, but that would be redundant.

In my opinion, the white with the Dark Green reflective stripe is a good combination, it looks distinctive from other divisions, it would look good on a light or heavy engine, and it would be a positive and progressive change. Mellie, you have a very valid points as to why to keep the FD-Green separate from other agencies and I am not discounting any of them.

My suggestion was focused on a way to have more of a distinction for Fire and LEO from the General Forest. This looked like a simple, positive step in that direction, and that several in the Fire Community liked the new color scheme.

MOC4546

10/12 Regarding using the river or the sand bar as a deployment zone in the 30-mi incident.

A few days ago I heard a briefing from a 30-mi investigator. Someone raised the question, why not use the river or sandbar? The investigator said the sandbar was not all that big (perhaps 20 by 40 feet). There were willows along its margins and a large tree overhanging it that could, and eventually did, come down. These hazards are not evident in the post burnover photos. The river was deep and fast moving and, as someone posted last week, the water was cold. The crew went in after the burnover and were getting numb after being immersed for only a short time. Hypothermia would have been a risk with longer immersion.

As the investigator pointed out, the individuals did not really have time to choose their deployment location when the firestorm hit. They hadn't believed it would hit. They thought it would go by. The fire was on the opposite side of the river on the slope at their height. When forced to deploy, those on the road deployed there. Those on the scree ran a bit further uphill. Critical decisions that could have saved lives were left to the last moment.

JTB

10/12 USFS FEO

Try the Mt Hood NF for your restored FS engine. Several years ago the Bear Springs RD restored an old engine to pristine condition and has made it available to many different events over the years.

Firehorse

10/12 Anyone know what preparation and thinking there is at any level (wo or region) about wildland firefighters and/or teams being called in to a biologically or chemically contaminated area or one that may become contaminated? Anyone thinking about risk assessment, gear or treatment? I know we asked this question about radiation after Hanford and Los Alamos. Radiation can be tested for.

Even at home, we're dealing with new threats with anthrax, etc. I hope all our mailrooms are on alert and first responders are being particularly careful. Prepare for the worst. Expect the best. How can we prepare so there's no panic or as Mellie says, reverse of panic? Just so we're prepared.

Tahoe Terrie

10/12 Green vehicles -

Forest Service vehicles have always been green, at least in my lifetime. I love the green and think it symbolizes wildland well. If Bosworth made the call, I think it was a wise one.

From a psychological perspective, you see a green engine coming down the road, you know who it is - automatic categorization process. On a fire when there is no extra time to appraise the players, such color recognition is critical to minimize confusion and size-up. We all know FS wildland fire folk play a different role than red engine CDF or other state fire folk, who typically do more medical aids, structure protection, and may fight more grass fires when at home. FS fire folk play a different role than county, city and vollie firefighters who may have white engines. FS folk are different than yellow engine BLM folk and other fed crews - although perhaps not so different. When highly practiced skills and strengths on a fire vary, it is good to know at a glance who is who. Not to compete, but to identify and use their skills and strengths appropriately.

The public also needs the recognition factor. I know that at least some FS LEO vehicles are white. In remote rural areas (and many of you know where I'm from) when fire takes off and the call goes out, FS firefighters do not need to be confused with Law Enforcement. They need to be able to safely come in to deal with the fire with no confusion as to their mission.

As far as professionalism, I have never seen a more professional fire organization (at least in R5, my home) regardless of the vehicle color. That argument is crap!

Mellie

PS. Thanks to DM and Biz for comments on 30-mile. I agree with you both regarding accountability and yet also see the tragic incident from a group psychological perspective. The strongest evidence that the crewboss gave the order to come to the road is that at least one person on that scree heard it, acted on it immediately and survived. As I said before, what is ordered and what is heard may vary depending on the way the order is given, repeated and followed up on and the potential listeners' focus. Both delivery and hearing are no doubt influenced by the sense of urgency to prepare for the worst.

BTW, research shows that people who know about "the reverse of panic" (or "pluralistic ignorance") are less likely to engage in it. Perhaps we should discuss that phenomenon as well as panic in training. And maybe we should quit calling the fireshelter the "last resort" with our newest kids, although we all hope it will continue to be.

10/12 for the gypsy from the logo fairy:

Please tell NM Fire Gypsy to post current logo. Perhaps the logo fairy will strike again. If you can't scan it or don't have it digitized, is there a link to it somewhere?

10/12 White engines

I picked up a new engine this summer and the guys at Boise Mobile told me about the switch back to green for the large engines (Model 62, 70, 80 etc). This is because the large vehicles have to get painted anyway, unlike the smaller vehicles which come painted from the factory. I understand the light engines will still be going white with green stripes. Is that what you are refering to or is this something new leaving all our vehicles green?

Old engines

I recently attended a fire muster (old fire engine show) and was wondering does anybody know of any old Forest Service apparatus that has been restored or is in process? I have heard rumors that the San Bernadino has one but have not found out if this is true. Also when were the Model 50's in service with the Forest Service.

I'm putting together a series of pictures for my office showing the evolution of FS engines. So far I've got examples of the Model 20, 42, 50, 51, 60, 61, 62A, 62C. I'm interested in good photos of some of the other regions equipment as well as older equipment, most of these are from my own collection. The 50 and 60 are off this site, and I've gone through most of the agencies sites, anyone know of others. Thanks.

USFS FEO

All Forest Service Fire vehicles will be green for easy recognition. Those that were purchased, are already on forest and white may remain white. (Dozers will be yellow far as I know.) Ab.

10/12 I wish I could claim credit for this information, but I am just passing it along to get the info out, squelch rumors, you name it. It comes from a very knowledgeable and reliable source and hopefully will answer some questions that have arisen.

Cache Queen

Ab has posted the complete information at the link below:
FIRE SHELTER DEVELOPMENT UPDATE – 9/13/2001

10/15 To WG, Thanks it seems to me that you must have been there sometime.

To I.A. Dispatcher and USFS FEO,
This is very simple if you do the math you will see that a "mere seasonal" can work more than 1039 overtime hours. To save you the trouble Idid it for you, lets say a "mere seasonal" was hired on April 8, 2001 and worked the pay period without any overtime. RDO's, Fri & Sat. Starting April 29 she was working 16's every 14 , with one mandatory day off in between. She was laid off on October 9th at the end of 16 hrs. I figured 144 hrs overtime every 14 day tour with the exception of two tours at a mere 128 and came up with a total of 1,552 hours of overtime. Now I ask you, did she break the law? I may be off on my pay periods but I'm not going to look.

I think that adequate rest falls under common sense. Believe me if I'm too tired somebody is hearing about it.

Remember jealousy will get you nowhere. I love you all. I can feel a big group hug comin' on!!

J.L.M. FKA Concerned

10/15 A visit to Bateman's site and pictures are worth the time it takes to wait for them to load.

Thanks
adftr

10/15 To anyone who visited the sand bar at the ThirtyMile fire. Did the sandbar have a lot of moisture in it? If it did, would this present a problem with a heat wave from a crown fire hitting it. Would moisture make the air denser and harder to breathe inside the shelter? Also, would there be a serious threat from steam burns? Just a thought.

Observer11

10/15 Mellie – I am going to do some winter time research on "pluralistic ignorance." I am formulating an idea. If you acquire a copy of the Abilene Paradox video, could you let me know?

JTB – Here are photos of the sandbar. The shelter gives you an idea of size. There were additional sandbars nearby as this appears to be an old oxbow. The only reason I could think that the crew might not have considered it was the fire across the river to pushed them (radiant heat) away from it. Or as you say, and are probably correct, the time for considering alternatives had lasped.

FIREDOC – I agree. You got my point.

CDF BC – Here is a photo of some willows in a large riparian area above the deployment site. I do not believe the live fuel moisture mattered. This is a good indication of the heat being pushed ahead of the flaming front. These were oldgrowth willows and alders!

DM

I put all three photos of the sandbar and the willows on the 30-mi photo page. Ab.

10/15 About the Thirtymile Fire deployment site;
I've visited the site and I don't want to be a Monday morning quarterback and say what people should have done, but...the sandbar looked big enough to me to hold the 14 people easily. When I was there, I wondered why no one set up on the sand. The willows were not consumed - in early September they were just browned from scorch, leaves still on.

True, a tree did fall on the western edge of the sand bar (I don't know when though), but the road was just as vulnerable to falling trees so I think it's a draw on that issue. It's my opinion (and only an opinion) that the sandbar looked like just as good a deployment site (just as survivable) as the road, if not better.

Seeing it the way I did, the theory that the crew was surprised by the fire hitting them seems to explain some things about where they deployed. Only the people that were there can explain why they did what they did, but they may have been in a hurry and I believe the sand bar was between them and the fire. It would be hard to muster the nerve to run toward a raging crown fire to a deployment site.

I never saw the site before it was burned, so it's hard to say how it looked when the fire was bearing down. For instance, when I was there, the rocks were clean as a whistle, but the report said that during the burnover there was a lot of needle-cast and stuff that burned under the shelters that were on the rocks.

But there seemed to me to be no reason to rule out the sandbar...at least after the fact, when the smoke and flames were gone and there was plenty of time to consider all the options.

For what it's worth,
BLM Bob

10/15 PB .....

I'm a member of Bateman's Type 1 Incident Management Team who just returned yesterday from the WTC Disaster in New York City. Yes, we did have the Zuni Hotshots from the Southwest Area working on this incident, so that is most likely who your cousin saw. We also had the Midewin, Augusta, and Jackson Hotshots as well. All of them did an outstanding job, and it was a pleasure working with them. If you log on the the Bateman Type 1 Team website (available through the Southwest Area homepage or the links here), there are alot of pictures from our assignment with the crews included. If you'd like more, I have pictures of the crew(s) at work.

Thanks -- VV

Link to Bateman's team at home and in NY city (and to the other IIMTs with websites). Ab.

10/15 To the person who asked about the sandbar at the 30-mi.
If you can get the whole report to download properly, the first page is a pretty good photo of the site. More closeup than Abs photos.

Is it common in Washington for the Air Ops to order engines on an incident? In R5 they only recommend and the IC takes the action. How sad and ironic that the engine not ordered by the IC was the one who called tired F/F in to fight a spot fire. and why didnt the engines check in with the IC on their way up the road? The IC should say timeout we need to reconsider when the going gets tough, but didn't the squad boss volunteer? I know things can get confusing on the ground sometimes and leadership is not always clear.

Sorry for the Monday morning quarterbacking. I don't mean to add to peoples pain.

R5 groundpounder

10/15 Not to stir the pot here, but I have wondered if the crew boss and the squad bosses at 30mi had worked together much before the incident. Knowing Tom, who was quite a leader and a fine human being, I am still puzzling over (torn apart over) the confusion that led to his and the others' deaths.

FIREDOC, none of us are blaming, just trying to understand to prevent its reoccurrence.

I love you all. The death of anyone in our fire family is such a tragedy.

Mellie

10/15 Green engines
While the White with Green stripe actually looked pretty nice, I'm happy to see the engines stay Green, I agree with the recognition factor and have seen white and green used by at least one other agency (I think it was Eldorado Hills, CA), plus white and red or white and blue are fairly common. Green is fairly unique to the USFS, on a safety factor NFPA recommends white reflective stripes over other colors due to the best visibility. As far as diferentiating from other resources (timber, rec etc), we do have that FIRE on the side and won't the other shops still be going to the White and Green design? I also noticed the new engines have a much larger Shield on the door. Thanks for the info on the old engines I'll have to make an effort this winter to track them down.

Red cards
If you read the 310-1 it states (and this is not exact I'm going from memory here) it is not neccessary for red cards to carried at the crew boss level or below (I can't remember whether crew boss is where it starts or below crew boss). Not that it is a good idea not to occassionally check red cards but thats what "the book" says. Personnally I've found the red card system and NWCG standards are played with pretty loosely, some places adding requirements and others letting stuff slide, I know of instances where FFT1's took out Type 6 engines and others that required additional quals before allowing an engine boss to run a Type 3 engine. Interpretation of the 310-1 is pretty off the wall sometimes.

The computer systems so far leave a lot to be desired(as with many of our computer issues), I've had quals deleted for no apparent reason and on at least one occasion had a qual added that I am not qualified for (I didn't even know what the job was, let alone know how to perform it) plus at least on the last computer program it only allowed space for 7 or so quals, I max that out and I just have the basics for my job, I don't have any idea how some one at the DIVB level or higher is supposed to fit all their quals on the card.

OT
Well a "mere seasonal" 1039 could theoretcally maintain their 2-1 work rest ratio with 1039 hours OT (8 hours base, 8 hours OT, 8 hours rest), throw in working most of their days off (14-1 limit) and you could reach 1100-1200 hours without violating the work rest guidelines. Add some 24-36 hour initial attack shifts (IA is somewhat exempted from the work rest guidelines) and the typical extension of the 1039 at the end of the year and is possible to reach that kind of time without violating work rest guidelines. Do most of these crews reach hours like that by following all the work rest guidelines? I'd guess no, but you would have to check their times which had to be signed by somebody of higher authority and that issue opens a whole new can of worms.

Fire cost
People who complain about how fire agencies spend money on fires are really barking up the wrong tree, Fire departments respond to societies wishes, currently society wants to see engines parked on every street corner even if it is a hand crew show, those engines are providing PR, maybe no structures are truly threatend but if there were no engines sitting on the corners and one structure was lost the fire community would never hear the end of it and would probably wind up paying far more than the cost of parking some engines, and that IC could kiss any career plans good bye. If you want to see costs go down teach people that a smoke 500 yards in the black is not a threat to them, get them to stop living in the wildlands, to build houses out of non combustable materials etc, bashing fire managers won't do much for the problem since they are just responding to the problem not creating it. When was the last time you saw a home owner walk by a strike team of engines crashed out lawn chairs telling them to get off the payroll and go home........ probably never, those crews are probably crashed out from all the milk and cookies those homeowners brought them for being there.

USFS FEO

10/15 If you read this page carefully, you discover the "mere seasonal" you're referring to is a hotshot. I don't think it's too hard to acrue that much overtime legally with the tight and full "mere seasonal" fire schedule they keep.

WG

10/14 This showed up in our shift plan one day on the Elk Mountain II complex in the Black Hills, courtesy of HR guy Jim Legg...

Getting Back into the Stream of Life after Fire Season
Readjustment

One day soon we will be returning to normal life, and it may not be easy. Here are some tips for a slow, sure withdrawal from the fire line life:

  • Make a tape recording of helicopters flying overhead so you can replay it for yourself when you go to bed. Turn on all the lights in your bedroom before trying to sleep. Put your dirty socks beneath your pillow. Sprinkle some dirt and pine needles on the sheets. Then have the milk man honk your car horn for you at 4:00 AM.
  • During the day, turn a stove burner onto warm, then sit on it. Make a sandwich, sit on it, go outside and drop it in the flowerbed, then go stand beside a full garbage can while you eat it.
  • Twice a day, hit yourself on the shins with a hammer. If you carpool to work, ride in the trunk. Then tell your carpool buddies to forget to pick you up when it is time to go home.
  • In the evening at home, start a fire in the fireplace, close the damper, shut off all the lights and read a comic book by flashlight.
  • For breakfast, cook a nice omelette, pour a cup of coffee, put both coffee and omelette in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes before putting them on the table. Then lay your head down in the plate and go to sleep.
stay safe, stay strong, stay together.
they'll be needing us again come springtime.

old-rookie

10/14 For J.L.M. f.k.a. concerned,

Can you (or anyone else out there???) spell out for me how a "mere seasonal" can earn 1100 hours of overtime in one season while adhering to agency policies, work/rest guidelines, driver duty limitations (this one may not apply here), etc.?

I'm not doubting you and your fellow crewmembers have done it, but I wonder how anyone does it safely and without breaking agency rules.

You mention common sense and training being so important and I agree that they are both incredibly important. However, adequate rest should be mentioned in there too. Being tired (from all of that overtime) could prevent our firefighters from thinking clearly and making difficult, life-saving decisions when it matters most.

- I.A. Dispatcher

10/14 Hi Abs,

You have the best wildland site on the Net and I thought that "They Said" might help me get an answer to a contracting question.

In July 2001 we responded to an RFP (NDB01059) generated by the BLM, Nevada, to provide engines and tenders for station coverage throughout Nevada to help the BLM reach and maintain MEL staffing. Initially, this RFP was to include all BLM districts statewide but was later modified to only include the Elko and Ely districts after the other districts had cut "side deals" with out of state under cutting (price) contractors. Eventually, only Type 5 4x4 and larger engines were solicited (no type 6s or tenders). This contract was for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. This solicitation was let-out by the BLM National Business Center, Denver. Closing date was 07/19/01 (right in the middle of fire season). We spent many hours preparing a response to the solicitation and its many amendments, at a very busy time. We have never had any response to this RFP, either from the National Biz Center, the BLM Nevada State office or the respective District offices. In fact, we have made many phone calls to all of the above and have not received one call back, on this subject. Rumor has it that both the Elko and Ely district offices again cut side deals with out of area contractors (contractors that did not meet the Regional Tactical Engine requirements for equipment and personnel).

My question; does anyone know what happened to this Contract? Was it not awarded because of the use of "under cutters"? Will it be implemented and awarded for next season? This RFP was poorly written and had several modifications but we that responded should be given the courtesy of some answers.

Thanks.
Real Region 4 Firefighters

10/14 Maybe someone can help me with this.

My New York City cousin said she saw a double line of native Americans walking in formation near Times Square a couple of weeks ago. I told her I thought it was one of our Hotshot crews from R3 since Bateman's team was there. Stutler's R6 team was too, but across the river on the NJ side. Does anyone know which crew that might have been? Does anyone have photos of the crew walking through the city? Her son would like a photo of them to add to his wall.

She says to tell everyone, "thanks so much. The kindness and support have been overwhelming."

PB

10/13 Ab sez - check out the great Air Tanker phtoto sent in by DV --

on the AirTanker 3 page.

Taken Oct 12, 2001 LA County near Santa Clarita.

Another poster sent this in from the AAP air tanker pilots' site. When asked which tanker it was, Barry said "I'm guessing T-127. I think that's the only one with that modified nose section HP operates."

10/13 The FWFSA web site is again up and running.

If you are a Federal firefighter that has or will befinefit from the Association it is time to consider joining.

-Tonka

10/13 Thanks JTB for the info on the sand bar and river situation. I wonder what the live fuel moisture was in the willows and how they looked after the fire passed through. Were they totally consumed or otherwise?

How many more fatigue related injuries and deaths are we going to have to have until the fire agencies finally adopt and enforce appropriate work/rest cycles?

The time has come for the 24 hour shift/24 off once and for all for initial phases of large fires. When the time is appropriate on an incident, roll the shift to a 12 and release the excess resources.

I don't desire to take any shots at those affected here, just trying to understand this whole thing to pass along to others to prevent it happening again.

Another CDF BC

10/13 Jackson,

I don't think it is as common for people to go on a fire and not be carded for that position as it is for a persons card to be as it REALLY should be. Since the red card system has gone to "the white cards", coming from NIFC, my card hasnt been accurate ever. I am qualified, by the NWCG, for FFT1, ENOP, HECM, FALB, ICT3, CRWB, and ect. but my red card only says HECM and FFT2. From what I understand, the card system, I dont know the system name, is very particular. If you dont have one course it could throw your whole qualifications off, also if you dont keep current it throws you off. I am pretty sure those engine personnel were qualified and had certificates and such to support that but some computer said they werent. I dont think any FMO (federal agency) would send a crew to a fire not being qualified for that position, but I have seen what you are talking about - not having your function on your red card. I think the system is good but has problems, like I said before - I have never had a accurate red card with all my qualification right.

signed,
"Red Carded... I think"

10/13 Jackson:

Yes, I have found that it is uncommon to have red cards checked. But I can tell you that when I went through my Crew Boss training on my old forest, I was told to always check for red cards. Afterall, a crew boss is responsible for her or his crew and their quals. This year I checked three times here in Region 6. I checked both BLM and F.S. firefighters on crews and not once did I find that everyone had a current red card (expired red cards don't cut it). And when working with the Sawtooth N.F. I found numerous situations where firefighters had not been issued their red cards in July!!

By the way, these folks had done everything they were supposed to do, physicals, pack test, etc, they were just waiting on the forest FMO to get his shit together. For some reason they couldn't go directly through the district FMO.

I have had to make someone sit down and wait at a base camp until a fax was received from an FMO, and yes, the firefighter was royally pissed off, but heck, it wasn't his fault! Or at least it wasn't completely his fault. It's everyone's responsibility to make sure they are current and up-to-date on their quals and their records. Don't count on other people...

Engine Dude

10/13 Mellie, et al.

Try to find a copy of The Abilene Paradox video; Peter J. Jordan, Janice M. Reynolds, Kirby Thomas; CRM Productions, New York, c1984. It might help us understand the 30-Mile tragedy a little better, and maybe even South Canyon.

anon

10/13 This past fire season, my first as a contractor and firefighter, an established contractor offered to add my equipment to his contracts for only 25% of my gross income. I would provide all the personnel, the fire trucks, insurance and he would take care of getting me dispatches. He also said he would help get me through pre-season inspections with his friends in high places. Since I had no fire or previous business experience this sounded like a great option. He also claimed to be able to "get around" the 3 crew person manning requirements and that he could also show us how to get our radios from the government, instead of purchasing them ourselves.

I didn't take him up on it and now realize this is illegal. What should I do?

In R4 and wanting to do it right.

10/13 Dan on the San Bernardino has a beautiful Mormon-Herrington engine (1940?) restored that he takes to musters down here.

180

10/13 Ab - sad news,

A good friend with Houston Texas Fire dept. called me this morning to let me know an HFD firefighter was killed this morning. This is unofficial but Chuck is a 30 year member of HFD so he knows whats going on. The incident happened approximately 0500 this A.M. One other firefighter missing and one critical. This has been a horrible year for firefighters everywhere.

Everyone please stay safe.
Biz.

Condolences, Biz. Please be safe, All. Ab.

10/13 To DM.
The real leader died in the 30 mile fire.

To all
dont sit there and bad mouth the dead firefighters from 30 mile. they where doing what the so call over head told them . tom died there he was a leader and a damm good one . but some good and bad will die doing the job..... it makes me sick to see all the arm chair wannabes bad mouthing some many .. let it go folks ... rest in peace tommy

FIREDOC

09/12

The Jobs page, Series 462 and Series 455 are updated. Jobs in the series are down by half due to closures. Current certs expire at the end of the month and the application process will begin again. A new round of MEL madness coming up!

Ab.

10/12 I heard about a recent fire where the Check-In/Status Recorder asked to see everyone's Red Card when they checked in. The results were surprising -- no one on a particular Type 6 engine crew had a red card. The crew called their Fire Management Officer who faxed to the fire camp a copy of some red cards for the three crewmembers. Everyone on the crew was qualified only as a Type 2 Firefighter. There was no Engine Boss, or even a Type 1 Firefighter. The crew was sent home, and their FMO complained bitterly to the Incident Commander.

Another person showed up to fill a resource order for Equipment Time Recorder (EQTR). He had not had any kind of red card for the last 3 years, and had never worked as or been red carded as an EQTR. He didn't even know who an EQTR worked for in the Incident Command System. He was pissed off when he was sent home too.

A couple of questions: Is it common for people to work on fires without being red carded for their position? How often have you had your red card checked at a fire?

Jackson

10/12 Hello,

My name is Jeroen I'm from Holland and I regularly watch national geographic. For about two ago I saw a report on firefighters. During this report the reporter visited a man who lives for 6 months in a house on the top of a mountain to detect fires.

This is where my request comes in. The reporter made circles with a helicopter around this house with a striking very beautiful sunset. I'm desperately looking for this (or these photos) and I've been through all the photos on this subject on your site.

Would you please be so kind as to inform me where I can find these photo's. The fire house on top of a mountain with a beautiful sunset.... it would be great if you could help me...

Yours sincerely,
Jeroen

He's talking about a national geographic special on fire lookouts. Any of you lookouts know anything about this? Ab.

10/12 Ab,

I didn't see this new info on Maximum Entry Age on your site or maybe just missed it. Please disregard if it's a duplicate. I'm sure folks would be interested.

Bubba

All of you who applied during MEL Madness and were told you exceeded the MEA should get in touch with the forests you're interested in if you're younger than 37. The current rosters will be kept open until the end of October and then there will be a new round of applications and hiring. Some forests might be trying to get in touch with you. There are still positions to fill. Ab.

10/12 To Mellie,

Sorry if you thought that the remark I made regarding professional and white engines set you off. Let me explain my comment further.

Over the last few years I have seen where Supervisor, Prevention, some Light Engines, and LEO vehicles were using the white with dark green reflective stripe. I have to tell you it looked good, it gave Fire and LEO a distinction from the rest of the Forest Divisions because of the nature of their roles (ie, Fire and LEO as opposed to Sivilculture, Timber, Roads & Trails, etc.).

I feel that although we are all part of a Forest, its Fire and LEO who tend to be the most visible when an incident is going on. I could go into other reasons that fall into other Catagories (such as stealing funds from the Fire Budget for useless programs and bogus "administrative" costs, but that would be redundant.

In my opinion, the white with the Dark Green reflective stripe is a good combination, it looks distinctive from other divisions, it would look good on a light or heavy engine, and it would be a positive and progressive change. Mellie, you have a very valid points as to why to keep the FD-Green separate from other agencies and I am not discounting any of them.

My suggestion was focused on a way to have more of a distinction for Fire and LEO from the General Forest. This looked like a simple, positive step in that direction, and that several in the Fire Community liked the new color scheme.

MOC4546

10/12 Regarding using the river or the sand bar as a deployment zone in the 30-mi incident.

A few days ago I heard a briefing from a 30-mi investigator. Someone raised the question, why not use the river or sandbar? The investigator said the sandbar was not all that big (perhaps 20 by 40 feet). There were willows along its margins and a large tree overhanging it that could, and eventually did, come down. These hazards are not evident in the post burnover photos. The river was deep and fast moving and, as someone posted last week, the water was cold. The crew went in after the burnover and were getting numb after being immersed for only a short time. Hypothermia would have been a risk with longer immersion.

As the investigator pointed out, the individuals did not really have time to choose their deployment location when the firestorm hit. They hadn't believed it would hit. They thought it would go by. The fire was on the opposite side of the river on the slope at their height. When forced to deploy, those on the road deployed there. Those on the scree ran a bit further uphill. Critical decisions that could have saved lives were left to the last moment.

JTB

10/12 USFS FEO

Try the Mt Hood NF for your restored FS engine. Several years ago the Bear Springs RD restored an old engine to pristine condition and has made it available to many different events over the years.

Firehorse

10/12 Anyone know what preparation and thinking there is at any level (wo or region) about wildland firefighters and/or teams being called in to a biologically or chemically contaminated area or one that may become contaminated? Anyone thinking about risk assessment, gear or treatment? I know we asked this question about radiation after Hanford and Los Alamos. Radiation can be tested for.

Even at home, we're dealing with new threats with anthrax, etc. I hope all our mailrooms are on alert and first responders are being particularly careful. Prepare for the worst. Expect the best. How can we prepare so there's no panic or as Mellie says, reverse of panic? Just so we're prepared.

Tahoe Terrie

10/12 Green vehicles -

Forest Service vehicles have always been green, at least in my lifetime. I love the green and think it symbolizes wildland well. If Bosworth made the call, I think it was a wise one.

From a psychological perspective, you see a green engine coming down the road, you know who it is - automatic categorization process. On a fire when there is no extra time to appraise the players, such color recognition is critical to minimize confusion and size-up. We all know FS wildland fire folk play a different role than red engine CDF or other state fire folk, who typically do more medical aids, structure protection, and may fight more grass fires when at home. FS fire folk play a different role than county, city and vollie firefighters who may have white engines. FS folk are different than yellow engine BLM folk and other fed crews - although perhaps not so different. When highly practiced skills and strengths on a fire vary, it is good to know at a glance who is who. Not to compete, but to identify and use their skills and strengths appropriately.

The public also needs the recognition factor. I know that at least some FS LEO vehicles are white. In remote rural areas (and many of you know where I'm from) when fire takes off and the call goes out, FS firefighters do not need to be confused with Law Enforcement. They need to be able to safely come in to deal with the fire with no confusion as to their mission.

As far as professionalism, I have never seen a more professional fire organization (at least in R5, my home) regardless of the vehicle color. That argument is crap!

Mellie

PS. Thanks to DM and Biz for comments on 30-mile. I agree with you both regarding accountability and yet also see the tragic incident from a group psychological perspective. The strongest evidence that the crewboss gave the order to come to the road is that at least one person on that scree heard it, acted on it immediately and survived. As I said before, what is ordered and what is heard may vary depending on the way the order is given, repeated and followed up on and the potential listeners' focus. Both delivery and hearing are no doubt influenced by the sense of urgency to prepare for the worst.

BTW, research shows that people who know about "the reverse of panic" (or "pluralistic ignorance") are less likely to engage in it. Perhaps we should discuss that phenomenon as well as panic in training. And maybe we should quit calling the fireshelter the "last resort" with our newest kids, although we all hope it will continue to be.

10/12 for the gypsy from the logo fairy:

Please tell NM Fire Gypsy to post current logo. Perhaps the logo fairy will strike again. If you can't scan it or don't have it digitized, is there a link to it somewhere?

10/12 White engines

I picked up a new engine this summer and the guys at Boise Mobile told me about the switch back to green for the large engines (Model 62, 70, 80 etc). This is because the large vehicles have to get painted anyway, unlike the smaller vehicles which come painted from the factory. I understand the light engines will still be going white with green stripes. Is that what you are refering to or is this something new leaving all our vehicles green?

Old engines

I recently attended a fire muster (old fire engine show) and was wondering does anybody know of any old Forest Service apparatus that has been restored or is in process? I have heard rumors that the San Bernadino has one but have not found out if this is true. Also when were the Model 50's in service with the Forest Service.

I'm putting together a series of pictures for my office showing the evolution of FS engines. So far I've got examples of the Model 20, 42, 50, 51, 60, 61, 62A, 62C. I'm interested in good photos of some of the other regions equipment as well as older equipment, most of these are from my own collection. The 50 and 60 are off this site, and I've gone through most of the agencies sites, anyone know of others. Thanks.

USFS FEO

All Forest Service Fire vehicles will be green for easy recognition. Those that were purchased, are already on forest and white may remain white. (Dozers will be yellow far as I know.) Ab.

10/12 I wish I could claim credit for this information, but I am just passing it along to get the info out, squelch rumors, you name it. It comes from a very knowledgeable and reliable source and hopefully will answer some questions that have arisen.

Cache Queen

Ab has posted the complete information at the link below:
FIRE SHELTER DEVELOPMENT UPDATE – 9/13/2001

10/12 Can I access ics 100 here? If so how and if not where?

JD

We don't have ics 100 here. It's a farily straightforward NWCG course. Anyone know if this is online or if a powerpoint is available for download anywhere?

10/12 I heard something going back and forth about the Forest Service moving to white engines from the traditional puke-green FS color engines. AL said that the FS Chief put the idea down.

I thought it would be a great idea to move to white so that Fire Management would be distinct from the rest of the FS Divisions and that it would look more professional.

Can anyone give us some more information on the idea and why it has been suspended.

MOC4546

10/11 Hi All,

Thanks for the replies to Rob's interview questions. I'll send them to him. I might also post a few after checking with contributors to see if it's OK. It's interesting to see the variety of responses from the variety of firefighters.

Thanks also for logos, for patches and photos and the info on fireshelters. I'll try to get them up tomorrow. My, my we have been busy and productive bees today, haven't we?
Ab.

10/11 Ab,

It's been a long time... autumns here, I'm fianlly settled in at WSU, and things are going pretty good, so I decided I'd better let the "they said it" community know their favorite R-6 'Pup' is still alive and well.

Jim - thanks again for the pin idea, truly an honorable endeavor.

To Rob the student, good luck with your reasearch. It's heartening to see such requests coming in from students. For a long while there I thought I was the only one. If these old dogs here ain't sharing them bones, give me a holler and I'll point out a paper I wrote that maybe you can glean some info from.

To all, I hope that St. Florian watches over all of you and yours daily.

As ever,

'Tiny' the R-6 Fire 'Pup'

10/11 To MC
Thanks, and I do know exactly what you mean!

To WS
Foremen on a Hotshot Crew actually run the crew and make the Superintendents job much easier. Some crews even have two foremen. The Supt. doesn't have to be present for us to be effective, and can usually take care of any crew buisness needs if any arise.

If you are having problems with personel now, then be honest with them and don't hire them back, make sure they know why in their evaluation. Otherwise you're just asking for problems next year. When hiring, we spend a lot of time on the phone interviewing, we look for people with ranch experience or construction experience. When hiring first years or "rookies" it helps if they have some type of work experience or work ethics.

Ab I love this site!

J.L.M. f.k.a. concerned

10/11 I love your site! I am also a firefighter. I work for the Entiat crew in Washington. I was wondering if you had a better quality picture of the Rat Creek fire. I would really love to use some local pictures for my wallpaper. Do you have any pics of the Tyee fire? That burned at the same time Rat Creek did. Please let me know!

Josi

Josi, none here at the site. Readers, anyone have any to contribute? Ab.

10/11 Do you have any booklets or brochures on forest fires you can mail me for a project. The title of the project is: How forest fires affect our lives.

Thanks so much,
Michael Miller
184 Jennifer Circle
Rincon, Ga. 31326

Readers, anything we can point him to? Ab.

10/11 I am in search of a Logo!

We have been known as the Mammoth Fire Crew (NMS-N4S) for many years and we have evolved past our current logo. I am looking for a cool mammoth logo. One that would look *sharp* on Shirts, Vehicle Decals etc. If y'all have any ideas, I would truely appreciate them.

NM Fire Gypsy

PS: you have a great site here Ab. keep up the good work!

10/11 The Forest Service Chief has nixed the new white engine idea. Looks like the FS will maintain its identity and instant recognition with the green ones. Good news!

AL

10/10 To Concerned,
Nice way to put it all out on the table. If they are worried about wasted money they need to look at Heavy helicopters vs. too much food and whether you showed that your crew sat down and took a lunch during a critical time in the prime burning period. You forgot two things about spike camps and that is the amount of sleep you can get because there are no distractions like phones or shower lines to stand in. Phones and showers are essential when you can get to them, but some folks have a tendency to waste critical rest time using them. What better life to have than to get up, pound line until dark, eat, and drop in the dirt for a good nights rest. You also don't have to deal with other crews practicing their cultural rights late into the evening or early morning. (If you've been in this game very long you folks out there know exactly what I'm talking about when I refer to this subject.)

I am with you on spike camps otherwise. At this time they are a sorely underused tactic that is very effective both tacticly and moneywise. Spike or coyote tactics also decrease the amount of potential transportation accident exposure.

To WS,
I beg to differ with you on whether the foreman on a shot crew has any supervisory responsibilities written into their job description. Maybe the crew I was on was the exception but as a Squad Leader I worked directly for and was supervised by our foreman.One last thing for you, your reply said you had a crew that was a little tough to deal with. Better to deal with them now if you got them under the ASAP perm hiring so that the rest of use don't have to deal with them later. If they are seasonal don't let them come back and play and make sure that future employers get accurate information on the problems you had with them.

MC.

10/10 Hey Firefighters, here's a kid who needs some answers for his speech class. We'd be happy to pass them on. Maybe we'll post a few answers. You don't need to answer the question about name, but please identify your agency and whether you're seasonal or permanent. Ab.
  1. Please state your name and who you work for.
  2. What in your own opinion is the most valuable piece of equipment that you carry?
  3. Why do you like your job?
  4. What was your favorite part of training and how long did it last?
  5. Why are their only 400 smokejumpers? And why would you want to be one?
  6. Do you use any other vehicles other than planes and helicopters?
  7. What different kinds of equipment do you carry, besides the pulaski.
  8. Why is the Pulaski one of the favorite tools that you carry?

Thank you
Rob

10/10 Wow!

I will keep this short by saying this much.... What an awsome site! I was searching for the Elk-Bath photo all over the net and came across your site. I'm glad I did thanks,

Grahm

Thanks Grahm, it's messages like yours that keep us going some days. We do have an exceptional community. Ab.

10/10 to rm,

Thanks for the explanation. Being a minor local agency fire guy and low on the chain of command at that I did not know. I do wish that NIFC would give the stats, I've been in fire camp where there were 5 strike teams of type 3's, 4 strike teams of type 1's, and there were 10 to 15 transports with dozers on them and who knows how many more on the line. Dozers are noisy, dirt flinging, dangerous to be around machines that sure make firefighting a lot easier and besides we have one more bunch of folks to play jokes on and blame things on. But in all honesty they are good to have around.

L.A.V.E.

10/10

Series 462 and Series 455 are updated.

Ab.

10/09 I have a few comments about some of the things I've read today. I am but a mere seasonal and have just returned home with overtime just breaking 1100 hrs. I don't say that I have a "RED BADGE of COURAGE" but I am saying that I could do it again and again. Being on a Hotshot crew every season is a long one no matter what. Whether we earn 600 hrs of ot's or 1300 hrs. I am very happy to be home with my wife and children. Here is the dilemma, I have grown fond of wildland fire and I like my job very much but in order to afford that lifestyle I need to work as many hours as I can. The way I see it, for the time I spend away from home I should be compensated. I want to work as many hours as I safely can.

How I deal with fatigue is for one I stay physically fit, I don't smoke , I don't drink alchohol and I try and eat good foods. I PT as much as I can through the off season so when I return I am already in good condition. Over a long season my body breaks down and I do wear down so it is very important for me to start off in peak performance. When I am in fire camp sleep is the number one priority and nothing pisses me off more than inconsiderate people that stay up late talking louldly and carrying on with out respect for those that actually work hard and need the rest. The bottom line is take care of yourself and you can work long hard hours and be mentally awake. There is plenty of down time in this line of work Hurry up and wait so take advantage of it.

Spiking out is something that I absolutely love. I have never complained when we were sent too much food - at least we get it. This is much better than eating rat's for 3 shifts or not getting enough hot food, it seems I find myself on the latter end more often than not.

Spiking out is much more efficient. We don't find ourselves wasting time sitting at a helibase till noon waiting for a shuttle. We can actually be on the line working and get a good day's work in.

As far as wasting taxpayers dollars, much of the fire program is a waste of money. I can't stand to see us being pushed to use equipment that is not needed. We have trouble trying to justify our time out on the line, "you didn't show a lunch" or "nobody worked that long " after division has already approved it. Yet I see piece of crap water tenders in camp watering down the parking lot but not one drop on the roads we drive on. I see heavy helicopters burning fuel and time dropping on smokes in the interior. It's suppose to be burning in there. I think most fires are staffed with too many resouces, especially when it is all handcrew work, why are there engines even ordered? When we have roads to use for indirect, why do we use dozers to put line in only fifty yards parrallel to the road? Oh, so the road can be used for contingency line, I see. Why do we make fighting fire so complicated? This isn't rocket science, it's plain common sense and training . People that lack common sense and are in supervisory and overhead positions are the biggest waste of money. I'm sorry I'm getting off track. Every one wants to be sensitive to every ones feelings and this must stop!! Being nice and liking every person is fine and wonderful but when evaluating a person for advancement or for task book puroses it must end there. I expect people to be honest with me because I'm honest with them, and you'll never know how many lives you saved by being honest because you won't read about them in the papers or see their names in the obituaries. One can't worry about someone elses feelings when it comes to life safety. What do we need watchout situations for everything we do? We clutter our minds with all this crap its no wonder these young people can't think straight when the shit hits the fan. They're so busy trying to remember something they know that they have learned somewhere in some training class that they can't even remember the basics.

When I returned home I was eating breakfast with my son and I was talking about the Thirty Mile fire after reading the Investigation. I gave him a little scenario of what was happening and asked him if he were there what he would do? He thought for a couple seconds and then he said, "Dad, I would go to the River and get ready to jump in the water in case the fire came that close.?" He wasn't sure but he is only eight years old! WHEN WILL IT END???????????!!!!!!!!!!!

concerned about the future of firefighting

10/09 To L. A. V. E.

Dozers are reported on a daily basis from every incident that fills out the ICS209 - Incident Status Summary. Someone from NIFC will have to answer as to why these numbers are not put onto the national report. They should be on the report, if for no other reason but to show the TOTAL resources committed to incidents.

rm

10/09 NorCal Tom

You're a little off on GS ratings for hotshot overhead. the superintendant is a gs9, the foremen are 8's, I think the squaddies are 6's, maybe 7's, will have to check on that. And, I'll check, but I'll bet the foremen DON"T have any supervision responsibilities in their position description. After all, a person doesn't need two supervisors at the same time.

But your point on attracting crewbosses and retaining them is right on. Seems we're almost loosing control of new people coming in these days no matter how hard we try or what tools we have to work with. We have a difficult and squirly crew on our forest - thats probably not uncommon. Many are city kids. They don"t have basic awareness of the woods. Many lack work ethic, maybe not surprising for their age. They dont have skills to run equipment. We have individuals acting like kindergardners and threatening lawsuit when someone looks crosswise or they dont get their way. Its just a whole different animal than in the past and hard to supervise. Chain of command isn't supported at the forest or SO level, so the people who could work this out or just terminate incompetents or troublemakers have had their hands tied.

As you said. Theres going to be a serious lack in applicants for crewboss as those in the position go for the higher paying GS jobs as engine captains.

WS

10/09 WOF

Sorry, I misunderstood the direction you were going, it sounded like you were doing one of those "in the old days we used to walk to the fire through the snow uphill both ways and we were happy for the snow". I'm on an engine so I only go out with crews a handful of times a season at most but even with that I haven't seen spiking out used as much as it could be, often at the expense of the crews. It almost seems like some teams are afraid of leaving a crew out overnight, prefering to hike them in and out for most of their shift leaving little time to work.

As far as waste goes I too would like to see the agencies handle recycling better, I was raised on the idea and it bugs me when I have to throw paper, plastic and aluminium away. How many tons of paper are used in IAP's alone?

I don't agree that the better conditions of camps are a waste of money though, if you compare this to the military I think you'll see they've made similar changes. It is getting harder to find people that are willing to leave home for extended periods, improving the comfort of crews makes it a little easier to get them out there. The feds now have a 14 day limit, but this is still about twice the length of many agencies, and look at all the agencies now mandating that their crews get motels, think it is a coincidence that they have an easier time recruiting from an applicant pool that more and more thinks a 40' RV is roughing it?

The idea of spike kitchens actually seems fairly practical if you're talking about multiple shifts in one location, I'd like to see that even if only for the novelty of it.

USFS FEO

10/08 Over the weekend DM sent in some photos from Ground Zero in NY City. The post about them is already getting buried in the stack. You should not miss these.

We posted them on the new World Trade Center page along with our WTC logo. The thumbnails don't do them justice.

Thanks again, DM.
Ab.

10/08 I was wondering if anyone knows if or when the rating of the captain of the IA handcrews will be upgraded to GS-8. The hotshot crew supt and the engine captain positions are already GS-8. The engine captain supervises 5. Why not the handcrew crewbosses who supervise 10? I realize that in past NFMAS computations handcrew have not been deemed as productive as engines. This should be recalculated and rethought.

Regardless of the recalculation, we need handcrews in the rugged parts of R5. Engines can't do it all. Often you get engines out to the end of the dirt road in the Klamath or Trinities and they have to be left behind. Then the engine crew is just another 5 person handcrew.

Now that some folks have a season and some experience under their belts, we're going to have recruiting and retention problems with handcrew leadership if handcrew captains aren't upgraded to GS-8. If I was a young person and had a choice at that level, I'd jump into an engine captain's position rather than applying for the handcrew sup. Less supervision and more pay - no brainer.

NorCal Tom

10/08 To "cookie": Yes, except Burning Man is in the desert and Woman on Fire is usually out in the woods.

To USFS FEO: I agree that spiking out is necessary and prudent. It just seemed to be used more frequently in 2001 than I've seen before. I thought perhaps that was one reason the FS overspent its budget this year when we didn't have as severe a season as expected.

Here's how that 75 dinner snafu came about. When we set up firecamp it took two days to get a caterer from 3 states away. Everything happened at once in August and resources were thin. This fire was in the high desert-like country and the only place for miles around with green grass, electricity, and accessibility for trucks was chosen as the camp. The fire was an hour away by road and crews were spiked out on the top of the mountain at various drop points.

Two orders came in for 75 dinners, for two separate divisions. Somewhere in the communication of these radio orders it was assumed that these were the same order and one of them was dropped. When it became known that Yes, they did need 75 more dinners, the kitchen quickly assembled them and the hot cans were packed into a U-Haul truck to drive to the helispot at the base of the mountain. When they arrived at the helispot, it was 10 minutes too late. Flight time for the day had run out. So they brought the dinners back and threw them away.

Miscommunication like this happens frequently; hence the order "Be sure instructions are given and understood." Human error will beome a factor in times of stress.

My other issue was the oppressive amount of garbage. We have used U-Haul trucks and even ranchers' horse trailers to haul away the garbage when the local service is overwhelmed. And often, out in the middle of nowhere, it is impossible to recycle. The bulk of plastic water bottles, thousands of them, is enough to strain the system. Sometimes I wish we retained the old ways when everyone filled their canteens from the potable water truck.

You raise an interesting idea, cookie, with the field kitchens. In 1988, the year Yellowstone burned, all available caterers were tapped out. We were sent to one fire near Choteau, Montana, where the local Lions Club was cooking steaks out on their portable grills. I've never had a better meal - cooked by a Montana rancher. Sure it was primitive and we didn't have the variety provided by caterers these days. The national catering contract calls for certain food quantities, but in crunch times, we go without. Firefighters are adaptable by nature.

When we were on the Silver Fire in '87, in the Kalmiopsis wilderness of Southern Oregon, we worked with a packstring and their trainer to deliver hoses and supplies out to the line. It was Great! Back in the old treeplanting days of the 70's we used llamas to deliver supplies across the mountains. Some ancient methods are effective and preferable to some expensive practices of today.

This is one possibility I would like to see us explore more fully. If we, as a firefighting culture dominated by large government agencies, could be open minded and innovative enough to encourage alternate "technologies" we might do the job more efficiently and save some money. I'm not saying we should go back to the old days, as if we ever could. Just remember their lessons and skills.

W-O-F

10/08 OF612 and SF171 and Resumes
From my understanding a resume is now acceptable in place of both the OF612 and SF171 as long as it includes the same information (I just layed out a 612 and followed along when I did my resume). The advantage is that you can use whatever word program you have and are familiar with. I have applied for and obtained several positions in the past 6 years by using a resume in place of a 612 / 171. You should still check the job announcement though just to be safe.

Spiking out
It may seem expensive but if you consider the 1 or 2 helicopter flights needed to fly in supplies compared to the 5 or 10 to fly the crew out and the greater effectiveness of the resources both on the ground and in the air, the cost isn't really that high. I've been on fires where the crews have spent more time in transit than fighting fire, and then to make it worse, they get in just in time to watch the fire behavior pick up beyond their ability to get any work done and then they have to leave just as the fire is starting to lay down enough for them to get to work. I'm sure there are abuses both ways with spike camps but extra food is the least of them. 50 meals x $16 = $900 about the same as 1 hour of helicopter flight but safer. Spiking out is not a common tactic when others are available. It is generally selected when it is believed that for efficiency and/or safety it is better to leave a crew in place for 1 or 2 shifts than to keep moving them every 6-12 hours.

As far as creature comforts, it is pretty well accepted these days that a happy employee is more effective. The earlier post about fatigue enters into this as well, I'm sure all those computers and air conditioning help keep the team a little less frazzled and I much prefer working for a happy rested team than a grumpy tired team. If movies and popcorn was too much of a distraction for your crew, then be glad you never had camp in Nevada, try casino's and brothels for distractions. If your crew stays out too late and can't get up in the morning that is a performance problem which can be disciplined. If it continues they should be out looking for work. Personally I've never been interested in much besides bed and maybe a shower at camp but others are entittled to their opinion as long as we continue clocking people out at the end of the day.

I often hear people talking about the "old days" (usually its only the 80's or even 90's), well you know they once had horse drawn fire engines and hired firefighters off bar stools, crews could be worked multiple days without rest, there was no 2-1 work ratio and no 21 or 14 day rule. I think we've improved since those days. Be open to change. Don't think all expenses are wrong just because its a new idea, there are goofs with all aspects of EMERGENCY response because they tend to be organized chaos. Personnally I doubt you could find more than a handful of people in the nation that would complain about the government buying ice cream or entertainment for tired firefighters.

Now if you want to discuss waste, lets look at batteries, cans, paper etc that is used during non emergency operations, how about purchases of new computer programs everytime the old one finnally gets the bugs worked out. Much higher costs and no excuses.

USFS FEO

10/08 Anyone have suggestions for an experienced FS & BLM firefighter who is looking for a permanent seasonal secondary fire prevention position? My experience ranges from initial attack, engines, helitack, and prevention. I don't seem to see the advertised positions I was told would be around by now. Is it perhaps too early in the hiring season?

Thanks!

Crown Fire

10/08 Just finished reading the thirty mile report and have found myself pondering the question, "what happened?"

Is it really as clear cut as the report states? How could we ever abandon the use of unlimited water in favor of handline (and it's inherit "indirect" qualities)?

Did anyone ever consider drafting with the engine shown in the photos in the report?

I am disturbed that we could ever have a situation where a rock pile 100 feet above the lowest point of a fire would look better than a sand bar or river. I'm not taking shots, but ask the question how or why?

What training led those people to the decisions they made at that critical time?

What happened up there?

Another CDF BC

10/07 Regarding SF-171 Software:

Ab sez, This has come in from several sources. Thanks to all.

From NICC: Fed job kit at "quickneasy.com" (url below). Works really slick, but only drawback is can only open/print files on systems with installed software.

From RxFire: I use the fed jobs kit from quick & easy

www.quickandeasy.com/fjkv4/index.php

I found it very easy to use. It can be a royal pain in the arse if you have lots of experience to input, but once you get it all in... updates are a breeze. It will even print in the green color of the 171. *L* It was worth every penny I spent on it, as my apps look very clean and professional, even spell checked. This software will also let you switch between the 171, or the 612 pretty much with the click of a button. It gives you a KSA section, but I prefer to just use Word.

I have never tried any shareware, but have heard lots of horror stories, not to mention the hassles that are rumored to come with it, like having to send off your file to be printed by some special place. I don't know if there is any truth to that.

Another question from RxFire:
Since the forms have been brought up, those of you who do hiring, what do you and/or your personnel lists prefer... 171 or 612?

We Abs want to say thanks to the folks "in the know" at the govt level or otherwise who share the info and respond to questions asked here. We live in a great country in which free speech is valued and defended and a place like theysaid is supported. That is no more evident than in days like these. Thanks to you all. Ab.

10/07 To "Woman on Fire"
(probably not like Burning Man, right?)

I'm going to bet that there are spike camp options for communicating with the team when too many dinners are delivered to the spiked crews. Radio maybe? How'd the hot cans get there? Mule train? Helicopter?

A better question, though, might be this: What's happened to the (old and now unusual) practice of setting up a wilderness camp kitchen for spiked crews? ... It wasn't that long ago that a wilderness kitchen (provided by outfitters, camp cookies, et al) was packed in, set up, and operated just for a spike camp.

"cookie"

10/07 SF-171 Software:
Does anyone know how or where I might get (either purchase or shareware) software which will allow me to record my government application forms on the computer and disk?

I've seen people with the software, but they were given the forms on disk by others.

Thanks!
R6rappeller

10/07 There is one practice that was used by Overhead teams this year that bears some consideration. Crews were routinely "spiked out". That means they stayed out overnight, close to the fireline, and their food had to be delivered by truck or helicopter. This is very expensive. I saw times when the orders were confused, people didn't get any food, and we ended up throwing away 75 dinners in camp. Many other delivery glitches occurred.

These "hot cans" of food (white plastic buckets) create a mountain of garbage and waste - not the kind of thing a land management agency wants to be known for. The number of meals ordered is a best guess and all leftover food must be thrown away due to lack of refrigeration. We often tossed buckets full of milk, and steak, and hundreds of packages of condiments daily.

Meanwhile the Overhead teams were living in a comfy camp with electricity, phones, computers, and pavement. We even had our fire time slips generated by computer on the last fire. I can see why this is attractive to the Overhead; it makes their job much easier. But are we willing to pay for this convenience?

It's funny to think about the stories from my old supervisor, now long retired. He told of the days when a crew went out to fight fire with a can of beans in their pack. I know we've come a long way in providing for firefighter needs, but it may be time for the pendulum to swing back to the middle ground again. The taxpayer's union would appreciate it.

When I was a crewboss and the caterer started providing movies, popcorn, and frozen yogurt in camp, I complained loudly. This was keeping my crew up socializing at night and it was harder than ever to get them up in the morning. That was one expensive practice that was not repeated the next year.

We need to continually evaluate our practices and not look at the firefighting budget as a bottomless pot of gold.

Woman on Fire

10/07 Abs and all,
As I sat here and watched the Fallen Firefighters Memorial, I noticed one thing that made me proud to be a Firefighter and an American.

All of the Firefighters that were honored have made the ultimate sacrifice: their lives. But they were not Identified as "Structural FF's, Wildland FF's, Paid FF's or Volunteer FF's, or even men or women".

We are all vulnerable even though we do not think so.

I guess my point is: PLEASE remember to stay safe whether you are on the line or in an interior attack or whatever the case may be. I would far rather read of you here or know of you from these forums than to hear you spoken of at the next National Fallen Firefighters Memorial.

Stay safe my Brothers and Sisters,
Keith

10/06 Ab,

Here are some photos I took recently at Ground Zero. Post them if you think it appropriate. I know the focus here is on wildland fire but this is a sad and historic moment. Three of our wildland fire teams were in the east helping organize the response.

One of the many things I learned in NYC that amazed me is that the FDNY fire fighters are much like their wildland brethren. The similarities in speech, attitude, mannerism, etc., were uncanny...

DM

Thank you DM. Amazing photos. We posted them on the new World Trade Center page along with our WTC logo. Ab.

10/06 Now that we are Dozer-conscious, I ask for the third time this year, why are Dozers not counted on the NIFC daily report? They count crews, engines, air tankers, helicopters, and other stuff, why not count dozers on a fire?

L.A.V.E.

10/06 Hello all,

Just got done hearing about the 30 mile fire investigation. The LP had our old Supt.(Mark Linanne) give a presentation on the 30 mile fire, WOW. I just wanted to write in and tell Mark thank you for the great presentation and what a great job he did.

If anybody has the chance to hear his presentation you will certainly learn alot and see some the changes that sounds like are coming down. It's good to see some of the old fire guy's still involved with fire.

Thanks again,
LP

10/06 Hey All,

If you check the wildlandfire news page, you'll find some articles on large fire costs. Seems more like a media thing and a taxpayers' organization focus than a real issue the "public" has right now. Some in the media even find fault with findings of the taxpayers' organization.

Forest Service doing good job against fires.

On another note: Chief Bosworth has asked the investigative review board to revisit the finding that the crew boss ordered people to the road.

www.spokesmanreview.com

AL

10/05 Ab also added logos to the logo4 page.

Thanks to the Malheur Rappel crew for their patch and to the Northern CA CIIMT and the Central WA IMT for logos.

10/05 Ab,

Here's a dozer pic. It pic was taken during the 2000 season. We were at a lull when I took this but within about an hour, we were called out on a burn that ended up burning about 1400 acres of 8 year old plantation.

Both of these plows were on loan to us from Florida and they definitely earned their keep.

Stay safe,
Keith

Added it to the dozers page. Thanks Keith. Ab

10/05 Ab,

The attached photos were taken in Division X on the Thompson Flat Complex near Superior MT. August, 2000. The equipment and personnel were being moved off the division due to some impressive fire activity around the safety zone during the afternoon burning period. As it turned out, there were more pieces of equipment at the safety zone then there were perators, so the service truck was being trailered out of the area.

Hunter

Added 'em to the dozers page. Thanks Hunter. Ab

10/05 USFS FEO-

There are a few "5 or 6" Officers on the board of FWFSA. I volunteered for the Southern Chapter Director position. Kent Swartzlander is the President. Kent has been working very hard with Congressional Staffs, California Professional Firefighters and the International Association of Firefighters. The "Portal to Portal" legislation is being held up by IAFF at the National level.

FWFSA is an organization of Professional Wildland Firefighters with a volunteer "dues" of $10.00 a pay period.

Problem is simple:
The membership numbers are low, our Voice in IAFF is small. I have been a member of FWFSA for 3 years. I have signed up Chiefs, Captains and a few Engineers. Maybe there are some "LOCAL" Forest, NPS, FWS and BLM employees who would like to help sign up members. Take a look at "MEL" and provide a reason why the membership is low. An organization needs people, membership and dues. FWFSA will have its web site up. We will have a Statewide meeting and election of Officers. Want things to change? Volunteer, Join and become an Officer. Kent is doing an excellent job with little internal support. I am proud to have been given the Directors position. If you or a group of Federal Wildland Firefighters would like to learn more about FWFSA. Please give me an e-mail.

Michael Preasmeyer - Southern Chapter Director - FWFSA
Preasmeyer@aol.com

10/05 Tonka, about the FWFSA

I understand the difficulties of firefighters trying to run this group, I've done a little web work and its a pain keeping it updated in the winter. Unfortunately by having it down all summer, when potential members (lots of new Perm employees) have the money to join (don't laugh $45 is alot of money for many of us in winter months) it hurts possible recruitment since many may wait until next summer to join. I've also overheard a few people commenting negatively about "the new site" because they think thats where "their" money is going (to a website designer). If the core group of individuals is having trouble keeping up with the workload, I've never seen them asking for help. I'm sure there are others out there that would be interested in helping to improve their own cause with more than just money.

Don't take this as FWFSA bashing because that is not my intent, you seem have some inside knowledge and it seems to me that the downed site is hurting the organization. Is there any way for people to still join or do they have to wait until the website is fixed?

Thanks
USFS FEO

10/05 No new listings yet today on the jobs page, but the Series 462 and Series 455 pages are updated.

Ab.

10/05 In response to TJ

Not being around to deal with a web site may not be a vaild excuse- but you have to remember that the there have been 5 or 6 people, primarily Kent Swartzlander who have been doing the business of the Association for the last 10 plus years, all of it on their own time. Kent almost single handedly got the over-time pay cap eliminated, due to his repeated trips to D.C. (on his own time) and countless hours on the phone. I hear lots of whining out there about the FWFSA and why aren't things happening, but very little support from the people who are now benefiting from the efforts of a few.

TJ are you a member? Are you going to benefit from portal to portal pay or any of the other issues the FWFSA is working on? Are you able to donate some time and effort to keep things running smoothly?

Tonka

10/05 re: Dana's post: "You can't work safely if you can't think clearly."
Best thing I've ever seen Dana post.

This made me think of something I've been stewing on for several weeks now, at least since the 30mile tragedy and actually since about last fall. Since then, a number of us have talked about this "Prescription for Tragedy"

  •   Take a depleted fire workforce
  •   Add a braindrain of the most experienced (i.e. oldest) from the top
  •   Add a big mountain of money to boost personnel all around
  •   Add a herd of the least experienced to the bottom
  •   Scramble your butts off for training and experience
  •   Add one more thing:  a severe fire season like this year
What do you get?

You get the scrappy reporters beating the hell out of you because firefighters on the line are at risk because there are "too many rookies" on crews with "a lack of experience and training." At the same time the same reporters beat the hell out of us because we fight wilderness fires hard, and we hit fires hard with IA resources when few resources (read that subdivisions) were at risk from these "wilderness" fires. No one seems to notice the dual argument/dilemma here.

If we let those "wilderness" fires burn and the "cost-per-acre-burned" goes down, then the reporters can't bite the agencies so much with the fire budget cost for this year (which they've been doing a bang-up job of lately). But if we have hundreds of new rooks and we send 'em out on anything resembling flames, then we get beat up for IA'ing fires that don't threaten homes. Damned if ya do, damned if ya don't, damned if ya try, damned if ya both!

argh. And (hi ab) jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez too.
kelly.

10/05 pulaski asked "give me a good reason you wouldnt take to the river"

HOW ABOUT:
The water temps were just a bit below chilly. And it's realy hard to deploy in water.

Other than that, I wasn't there, I'm not going to second-guess. Just a thought.

R3firegirl

10/05 To "Tonka" who says the FWFSA site "has been down due to a clitch by the ISP, webmaster has been out fighting fire all summer along with the President, and other Officers of the Association, and hasn't had time to redo the page yet. (When the ISP was gobbled up by Earthlink, the web site was lost!)" ..... etc etc etc etc etc etc

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yada yada yada. This is a conglomerated message from about 4 of us who talked this evening .... if the FWFSA wants to be taken seriously by Congress or the media or the firefighters on the line or even the AB COMMUNITY, none of those excuses are valid. Two of the four of us got eaten up by earthlink this summer and we're all four still online, so that don't wash.

It's just like the IAWF claiming (for two years now) that website glitches or webmaster glitches keep them offline and their stuff is still "under construction." That's just totally bogus. Get with it or get off the game board.

..... JUST OUR THOUGHTS, no pun intended.
TJ

We Abs agree.

10/04 Food for thought:

Finally had a chance to let the 30 mile report sink in along with the other various stories on the subject out there. Without getting into all the ins and outs, finger pointing, blaming etc. I fall back to my origional thought before i even saw a photo of the burnover area. The area they deciced to hunker down in had 3 distinct areas for a possible safe haven: The road, the rock "scree" on the slope, and the river & sand bar.
...... Can anybody give me a good reason you wouldnt take to the river or at least the sand bar (with your shelter of course)????

pulaski

10/04 In respnse to USFS FEO on 10/3...

The FWFSA site has been down due to a clitch by the ISP, webmaster has been out fighting fire all summer along with the President, and other Officers of the Association, and hasn't had time to redo the page yet. (When the ISP was gobbled up by Earthlink, the web site was lost!!!) As things start to slow, should have it up and running soon. As far as the bill in Congress goes, everything has been put on hold due to the WTC. The FWFSA is still around and working for your future. Updates will be posted here as they become available.

-Tonka

10/04 On fatigue.

Firefighters, especially the young and inexperienced, tend to be gung ho/can do folks. Generally speaking, they also tend to have less disposable income than average with many trying to raise a family or pay for an education on what they make in a few months each year. While I have to agree with Mr. Unhoseable that few would brag about turning assignments down (for any reason) and that a favorite topic is how much overtime one may have accumulated, I have to take issue with the fact this is due to greed. Most simply need to earn as much as they can in a short season. I think that due to the new focus on less dependence on ADs and more on guaranteed incomes, this is changing.

From my point of view the 30 mile investigation focused heavily on the fatigue that was being experienced not only by the crew but also by the management above them. These folks also tend to be can do types and so tend to be subject to the same type of fatigue that those under them are. Fatigue causes ones ability to think clearly to deteriorate rapidly. This is one reason that pilots are strictly limited to a maximum hours of duty to (hopefully) restful sleep ratio. They work in a complex and potentially very dangerous/deadly environment. And so do firefighters and their managers. If firefighter fatalities occur because someone wasn't clearheaded due to substance abuse, they would clearly be at fault. However when one is unable to think clearly because they have exceeded their ability to endure the demands of the job in a good faith effort, fault is much more difficult to assign.

I suspect that the OSHA report on the 30 mile tragedy will focus on fatigue to a large extent as well. I hope that this, combined with the new and larger supply of firefighters, will allow those in the higher echelons of our nation's wildfire suppression agencies the freedom to implement some formal restrictions on firefighters and their managers work/rest ratios. It may have not been possible before now and it may take some time to make such restrictions workable but I hope some effort is made in this direction as a result of the 30 mile tragedy and the report it generated.

You can't work safe if you can't think clearly.
Dana

10/04 Mellie, your observations concerning the Thirty Mile Report were very interesting. I think the report is very good, even though there are a few things that are still unclear and a couple of things I do not agree with. Be-that-as-it-may, I think the review team nailed it.

One of the omissions in the report, (at least in my mind) was a discussion of human factors. I suspect the team may have chose not to go down that road for a variety of reasons. But you touched on a potential factor that may or may not have been in play. It was thought provoking nonetheless. And one thought that popped into my head was how woefully inadequate our wildland fire leadership training is when it comes to risk assessment and risk management especially at the crew boss level.

There seems to be plenty of places to point fingers and plenty of blame to spread around. And you can point at all factors - equipment, environment, management, whatever, but I have to agree with Biz. It comes down to the Crewboss. Everything around you can be completely screwed up, but it is up to the crew boss to manage and move the crew safely through the chaos or the "ambiguous dilemma." The Crewboss can not fall into the traps of group panic or pluralistic ignorance as it violates a critical fire order.

I have found that in any organization/group, big or small, there are real leaders and false leaders. Real leaders sometimes are not adorned with the cloak of leadership, but emerge in times of crisis when false leaders have failed and endangered the group. There was an utter failure of leadership that day along the Chewuch River. It was too bad that a real leader did not emerge. Maybe one did, but they ran out of time and the decision space had shrunk to the dimensions of the inside of a fire shelter.

DM

10/04 Ab sez "Hey Smokincharlie, the dozer pics are up on a new Dozer Photo Page." Thanks to J and Mellie for sending them in. Thanks to the logo senders also. I'll get to those soon.
10/03 Staging

I think opinions on suppression costs are going to vary considerably depending on who you talk to. Personnally I have never heard any member of a local community complain about all the firefighters hanging around, particularly when there is smoke showing. On the other hand there are organizations like taxpayers for common sense that love to bash us (generic fire community, but in particular the feds) anytime they don't think a fire was fought like an economics exam. Some of their points are valid such as the slow movement on let burn policies but they frequently show their lack of fire knowledge with most of their complaints.

If you're refering to getting stuck in some staging area, that happens frequently and some areas are more notorious for it than others. R3 and the LP in particular come to mind. That really seems to be happening this year all over. Funny though this is the first time in many years I haven't had a 14 day road trip of Nevada staging areas.

USFS FEO

10/03 Here's info on an investigation into how the crews got sent home for a dirty camp in GRIZZLY country, complements of Firescribe: www.billingsgazette.com
10/03 to R3FireTaz,

1) You should ask the public - this site doesn't seem to get a significant number of non-firefighters posting, so I think that whatever you read here wouldn't be representative of "the general feelings or perceptions of the public..." I could be wrong though. That said, I don't think the general public is too upset one way or the other. I sometimes hear from people complaining about the money being wasted, but that generally seems to balanced by people that think that the money spent on suppression is pretty small compared to what is spent on defense or entitlements such as social security. We're always getting told to keep suppression costs down, but in the big picture, I don't think suppression costs are so huge as to be on congress' radar screen. Maybe the fact that the public hasn't responded to your question means they aren't too concerned. But you need to be very, very careful about taking a few remarks by a couple of pissed-off publics as representative of what the entire public thinks. Hey, take a poll.

2) Yes, overhead teams do have the ability to interact with the local unit on resources being ordered for a fire before the team arrives. Usually the first thing that happens when a team is ordered is the IC contacts the local agency administrator and they parley on what's going to be needed. Then logistics faxes an order to the local dispatch or expanded. And the team can release whatever they feel is not needed, but they work things out with the local unit.

Sometimes the local unit or a MAC or the GACC may ask a fire to hold on to excess resources as sort of a staging area for other possible assignments or because there are delays in demob procedures. Sometimes resources get ratholed because the Ops/IC may not feel completely confident about being able to hang onto the fire, or because the incident has agreed to take on initial attack for the local unit. Or very occasionally it's just for show - to make the local public feel secure after a bad scare. That last doesn't usually last too long.

Sounds to me like you got stuck in a fire camp sometime this season and hated it.

hope that helps,
BLM Bob

10/03 hi ab,

just read smokincharlie's post. where or how do i find this group he is talking about? checked for it on the web and came up empty. i'd like to know more. hubby operates private dozer for cdf. i have some pictures of the dozers at the cohassett fire and the lines he cut. no way other than snail mail to get them to you though. i don't have a scanner or any way to email them. :(

donna, dozer support

I'll send you a snailmail addy. We can scan 'em. Ab.

10/03 Dozer pictures

Check out the NIFC site at www.firepix.net/fireaviation/index.phpl.

rm

Some large ones of those would be nice. One reader did send in a few photos. I'll try to get them up by this evening. Ab.

10/03 Hey Ab,

I need to raise the questions again and need help answering them by the veiwers. We are trying to get a general idea on the subject before we go to briefings.

1. What are the general feelings or perceptions of the public towards the amount of monies being spent for suppression?

2. Many of us have been on fires and have seen excess resources. Being caught in the clam shell game is something no one in suppression wants to do. Do overhead teams have the ability to interact with "the Local" agency regarding overhead & resources ordered prior to the Team arrival to the fire? And does the Team have the ability to actually reduce the number of resources ordered to save the overkill?

Thanks,
R3FireTaz

10/03 To USFS FEO

The Strike Team you were referring to in an earlier post about Surplus Engines was XGL-3050-C. Local Gov. from Glenn County.The Strike team normally includes Engines from Artois F.D., Glenn/Codora F.D., Hamilton City F.D., & Kanawha F.D. Surplus Engines are available through CDF held auctions held yearly and through the Federal Gov. Excess Equipment program. For more info contact your local CDF Unit or your local USFS FMO.

danfromord

10/03 Fire Dozers?

Why does no one take into account dozers? We have been out on wildland fires longer than, choppers, fixed wings, and even smokejumpers! So why don't any one talk, or have pics, of the fire dozers on the fire line? I have been working dozers on firelines for 30 years, and I am getting damn tired of being the basstered child. Every one only wonts us when things go to hell in a hand bag, and when its contained, they seem to act like we're not there. Calif. Dozer Operators Group or (CA. DOG) seams to to be the only group that gives a hoot. So why don't you use some dozer info. and pics in your WEB SITE? Come on and be a leader. I know the iron drivers would like it! Well I guess thats about it.

Smokincharlie

Al'right Smokincharlie. In the past, dozer operators have also complained that dozers are not listed in the stats of large fires when other resources are listed. We like dozers too, this Ab especially, but we can only put up the photos that are sent in see'nz we have no dozers of our own. We do have a few dozer pics under Equipment, Equipment2 and Crew 3 and on the new Creek Fire page. The pics of the dozer work on the Creek Fire show how important dozers are to firefighting. Check it out. Click on the thumbnail to get the full-sized photo and on the words below to read what we know. Readers, anyone have pics of dozers to contribute? Ab.

10/03 Anyone know whats going on with the FWFSA? Their website has been "under construction" for several months, with no way to get information, join or otherwise contact them.

Thanks

USFS FEO

10/02

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

Ab.

10/02 hello all.

i was wondering if anyone would konw of any good links or websites to look for job openings for wildland firefighters in Australia for their coming season. is it too late? if anyone has any info it would be much appreciated!! thanks.

Looking for a new experience

We have some good links from Downunder on the links page under world. You could start your search there. Eastern Sibera is burning too. Ab.

10/02 To Douglas,

Many local districts hire students, you shouldn't have a problem getting on a handcrew or engine. Just contact the district you're interested in this winter and let them know about your interest. If you already have experience, the Union Hotshots and LaGrande Hotshots out of R-6(Oregon) typically hire students, and in the past they sometimes combine both crews into one to finish out the season because students go back to school. One of them utilizes the Student Temporay Employment Program (STEP) through the USA jobs website at www.opm.gov, I'm not sure which one. Either way make your contacts early this winter. Good Luck!

-Bison

10/02 We have a new photo page of the Creek Fire. The photos there were taken by Al Golub who has been a photojournalist with the Modesto Bee for 35 years and shooting wildland fires since 1987. He got so interested in wildland firefighting that he took the Basic 32 course and gained some firsthand experience with the Stanislaus Hot Shots.

When the Creek Fire broke out on Sunday, August 18, 2001, Al was heading to San Francisco to cover the 49ers and Raiders football game. It didn't take much to reverse him mid-stream: he decided to cover the fire instead - much to our viewing enjoyment. Thanks Al for letting us show your photos here.
www.wildlandfire.com/pics/creek/creek.php

For a fine article on the Creek Fire from Steve Wiegand, here's Anatomy of a wildfire: Frightful vignette in yearly California drama.

Ab.

10/02 Howdy,

What an impressive Web site you have! I was having trouble finding out links to upcoming Basic Fire classes...would you happen to have any idea? I'm currently a fire lookout on the Inyo (Bald Mtn.) and want to get trained ASAP because there's a job waiting for me as soon as I complete the class. If you don't know, would you happen to have suggestions for who to contact? I am willing to travel among regions.

Many thanks and keep up the great work,
Chris

Thanks, Chris and welcome. We are not quite up to speed on training season yet although we have many fine links to training on the links page under training and education. Try that. Readers, have any other suggestions?

10/01 Cache Queen & T.T. ,

Cache Queen, I must apologize for the poor composition of my message and resultant lack of clarity. The altered documentation I made reference to, is that of which I have personal knowledge of on local issues of our Forest. These "incidents" and "instances" are both fire and non-fire in nature. One might conclude that pretext, such as this, exists in the Thirty Mile report and previous reports as well.

T.T., I doubt you could find what you were looking for in "Official Files" (e.g. "lost", "we don't keep those", etc.). I can tell you nothing has changed, and in fact has become worse. At this juncture I cannot be more specific....wish I could. There has been litigation and currently there is pending litigation . My involvement has earned me some ever so clever harassment, intimidation, and craftily designed threats. I do not suffer from paranoia, this is all very real! However, upon reflection, paranoia could be a job related condition!?!

The Forest Service is still comprised of some wonderful people who possess integrity and perpetuate the warm, fuzzy, "Lassie and the Ranger" perception, but we must be realistic and accept the fact that there exists some unscrupulous ..... I hate to say it...."bad".... people among us, both in the rank and file and in management.

I digress.......

Flingwing

10/01 The Ongoing Memorial Pin Saga:

Well, some folks increased their orders for pins without reserving them and some folks sent money without a reservation for a pin. So as of right now I have orders for 565 pins and only 500 being made. I am trying to increase the order to cover the overage and have enough for a few more folks.

Please, if you do NOT have a pin reserved by a reply e-mail from me do not send money. Also if you do have an order reserved, please do NOT increase it without contacting me.

I'm trying to make this work for everyone, but I need your help and patience.

Thanks
Jim

10/01 Mellie,

I tend to agree with most of your comments. However... the part about not slamming the crewboss I have to disagree with. I don't think he should be slammed but he does have to accept the responsibility of the actions of his crew. The senior person in charge is just that, the boss. Ultimately, their true function is to make decisions and see they are carried out. These decisions should be based on their experience, education pertinent to the job, and input from the situation itself, including coworkers. I was not there and I can not second guess descions made. But I will always believe that supervisors and bosses are responsible for their people's lives. I am only an engine boss, but when we go out, I take personally the safety of my crew. My number one goal on any assignment is to bring everyone back. The fire will eventually go out, with or without us. Unfortunately, I have not reached this understanding with out my own screw ups along the way. None resulting in critical injury or death however. (Crossed fingers.)

This brings me to my second point. Experience is probably the most important factor in any bad situation. Knowing when to shut up and take action is not something you can learn in a classroom, or in non-chaotic events. I have several years experience in wildfire and I am just now starting to feel comfortable in making appropriate decisions on scene. I guess I feel like the gravity of being a supervisor, at any level, on a fire is not always realized.

What happened was a tragedy. Families and lives have been changed forever. I can only hope that the powers that be will realize you cannot fast track leadership. True leadership comes from experience.

Sorry to talk so long. Lets all be safe out there.
Biz.

10/01 Ab and All... Was sitting here talking with another firedog from the northwest. We had several questions that we would like to throw out to the group.

1. What are the general feelings or perceptions of the public towards the amount of monies being spent for suppression?

2. Many of us have been on fires and have seen excess resources. Being caught in the clam shell game is something no one in suppression wants to do. Do overhead teams have the ability to interact with "the Local" agency regarding overhead & resources ordered prior to the Team arrival to the fire? And does the Team have the ability to actually reduce the number of resources ordered to save the overkill?

--------------
To Douglas... One problem that you may face with getting a job in R3 comes from the early fire season. Shot crews in the southwest start early and hang in there late. Doing a lot of research with the Shot crews is your best bet. Some crews hire students but like to maintain a base of 15-18 non-students for the late season (after school begins). Jump on the phone or email and start communicating.

Otherwise calling different BLM and FS offices and talking with the AFMO's about their engine or fuels programs will be your second best bet. Good Luck.

R3FireTaz

10/01 I would hate for the evaluations of the Thirtymile burnover to devolve into slamming a crewboss and defending a squadboss or vice versa. The events post-entrapment and pre-deployment were very much a social process in which every person participated, however inxperienced they were. I don't think what happened during that time period can be attributed to any one person, but must be shared by all involved in the incident and all others going on up the chain of command. To avoid a similar situation in the future, we must not interpret this investigative report as placing blame, but as trying to understand the processes involved so we can learn from them.

When I heard how unprepared the crew was for deployment in spite of having 50 minutes to prepare, I was surprised, but not too surprised. I think the crew and their leaders engaged in what psychologists call "pluralistic ignorance" (a group's under-reaction to reality) which is the reverse of a "panic" state (a group's over-reaction to reality).

I know this post is Monday morning quarterbacking on my part. At most it is clearly a very small part of the whole human factors story. (I'm not even going to talk about crew tiredness or perceptions that this was just a little mopup job or the cobbled-together characteristics of the crew.) Bottom line is, I wasn't there. I didn't talk to the participants. So please just take this as food for thought, if you will. If true, it is perhaps another reason why we must all become even more practiced in "providing for safety first" through training and experience and maybe rethink what that means with so many newcomers in our ranks and fuels so heavy in our forests.

Shifting-- <puts on stress psychologist hat>
Psychological research shows that people don't respond only to the "objective" characteristics of a potentially threatening or emergency situation (such as flame length and ROS) but to our own feelings and thoughts - our "subjective" interpretations of the situation. While deciding, we automatically observe and interpret what others are doing or thinking. This helps us form what we think is happening and helps us decide what action we must take. The process is largely automatic. We don't even realize we do it.

How do people define a situation as an emergency or not? Most emergencies begin ambiguously. Many of us have asked, "Is that guy leaning on the post over there ill or is he drunk?" "Is that child really being threatened or is it just a father appropriately disciplining a child?" Perhaps fewer of us have asked, "Is that fire we were mopping up this morning going to get to us way over on this side of this rocky canyon or can we just watch it blow by?"

One usual way to deal with such an ambiguous delimma is to postpone action, to act as if nothing is wrong and to see how others react. People size things up. Firefighters look to their sups and to other crew. Firefighters and sups are warned not to panic. So, in this group dynamic that is the reverse of panic, what does a person see when they look around? The person sees others who, for the same reasons, are also acting as if nothing is wrong. Each person, observing the "relative" calmness of the others resolves the ambiguity of the situation by deciding that probably no emergency exists. The group outcome is that everybody in the group misleads everyone else by defining the situation as not being a life-threatening emergency. Some psychologists think this "pluralistic ignorance" is more prevalent in emergency situations than group "panic".

I also knew Tom. I don't think he'd knowingly disobey a summons from a supervisor - especially if he thought lives were at risk. He was also a leader. However, like the crewboss, I don't think he recognized the extreme danger all were in. When the summons to the road was issued (if it was as the crewboss remembered it), any number of things might have grabbed his attention (such as reassuring an anxious squadmember). For whatever reason he and others might not have "attended to" or heard the crewboss. Of course I'm speculating, we'll never know. But I do know that we often don't think or hear straight - or remember accurately - when arousal levels are raised: We're in a state of "cognitive overload" with too much going on in our brains and bodies. That's why the practiced routines are the ones we fall back on. We need those correct thought processes and actions that are done automatically with little conscious thought.

Regarding differences in reporting, I believe the crewboss's account and others' accounts that differ can all be true and have integrity, each from their own subjective perspective and memories of the moments. In addition, before deployment, sparks and brands were flying, the wind roared. Not surprisingly, what was heard then and remembered varies.

Unfortunately, I think the trajectory for tragedy was set some time before the crew was entrapped on the road.

<taking off hat>
Please All, continue to be safe out there. The season is not yet over.
Mellie

10/01 Here is a link to an article on the Thirtymile Report from Firescribe. It lists what hasn't been done in the wake of other tragedies:

Seattle Times

10/01 Douglas, your best bet is to go to your nearest National Forest, BLM, National Park etc or go to places in the area you are interested in and talk to some of the fire folks (we really don't bite). Now through November is good time since most crews are still on but things are slowing down. Make sure you have made contacts by January because that is typically when we start taking applications. If the areas you want to work are to far to just stop by, call first so you don't waste your time with the places that won't touch your availability.

There really is no clear cut answer to your question about your availability because a lot depends on the area, the crews, your skills etc, some crews don't want people unless they can work 6 months, others really like to hire students, it can vary quite a bit even between the crews on one district, you may also want to consider dropping the Fall semester the first year just to get your foot in the door (May 20 is plenty early for most places but some would back off on the August date).

I don't know where you are looking to work but Region 3 (Southwest, basically Arizona/New Mexico) seems like it might be a fit, their season typically runs late April to July/August, when I worked there we hired lots of students, those who had to go in August left then, a few hung around until October.

But you really should go talk to people in the places you're interested in, that goes along way to getting a job with Federal agencies, since much of the hiring is done at the crew level, all the temporaries on our engine were hired because they continued calling and stopping in until we hired them, be polite but persistant. Applications can be name requested and spending the time to investigate shows interest in a position. There are also Student programs that you can be hired through seperate from the C form and again the way to do this is to stop in and talk to people. Good luck

USFS FEO

10/01 Douglas,

Yes that is enough time to get hired. The question is, will there be a captain or supt. to hire you for only three months. If you send in a resume with your form C, that will help out also. At this time the only way of getting hired on with the Forest Service is filling out the Form and sending it to Boise.

Good luck next season and if you need anymore help, I'm sure all you have to do is write this Forum and you will get many respones with good advice.

On another note, fire up USFS FEO. Good to read some of your messages.

also an R-5er

 
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