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12/31 Ab, I just heard through the grapevine the following info.

The GS-8 Fire Engine Captain position is alive and well in other areas.... 
NATIONWIDE!!! A reliable source told me that a Forest in Region 9 (and 
possibly also in region 3) are flying two of their Engine Foreman positions 
under the approved National PD as a GS-8 Engine Captains.

It has always made me wonder why we had approved NATIONAL position 
descriptions at the GS-8 level and they could only be used in California (as 
stated in the ASAP vacancy announcement process).

I guess we are progressing from technicians to professional wildland 

Other Region Supporter
12/31 Ab, the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA) IAFF Local F-262 has updated their web page. Lots of great info on what the association is, their goals, and pending legislative action. A great site for all Federal Wildland Firefighters throughout the United States. Also links for Federal wildland firefighters to join. Firefighters from ALL 50 states are encouraged to join.


FWFSA Member
12/31 Ab, attached is the link for the 2002 Special Salary Rate approved for employees in the 0462 series in Southern California. This rate only applies to employees of the USDA and USDI under the 0462 series in the following counties: LA, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.

While this is a significant pay raise, it probably will only prove to be a small speed bump in the problem of retaining and recruiting wildland firefighters in our area. The agency had requested a 30% increase over the national BASE GS pay scale, but received less when it went through all the hoops. Prior to this raise, employees were already being paid under a special salary rate or a locality adjustment (14-16% over the BASE GS rate). The initial raise took place in Pay Period 24 and the new table goes into effect on Pay Period 1.

Here is the link:
Look for table 0256 ---


12/31 My name is Michael and I was one of New Jersey's firefighters on the Rex Creek assignment. I was wondering if there are any photos of that fire. If so can you send them to me?

Thank you,

Hi Michael,
Mellie did a page of links to fires of summer 2001. Most are CA, but there are some Oregon and Washington fires. The link to the Rex Creek fire site is on there. Readers, let me remind you that you can now use the SearchWLF facility here at wildlandfire.com, link at the top of each page. Michael, you can enter "rex" or "rex and creek" and you will find the summer fires page with a link to photos. As far as downloading them onto your computer, find the thumbnail, click on it for the larger version, if available. When the large photo is on your screen, right mouse click and choose "save image as". Name it and tell your computer what folder you want to save it to. Happy browsing.

Readers, if anyone has additional pics of that fire, please send 'em in.

12/31 Hello there.

I understand that the difference between a burnout and a backfire is that a backfire is set to influence the main fire's direction. A burnout just burns out unspent fuel between the line and the main fire. Seen some of those. In my experience they were done indirect, way back from the main fire. As you may have guessed I don't have enough summers fighting fire to have participated in a big backfire.

Thinking over my summer. Wondering if any of you have some backfire wisdom to share. Or burnout stories. I think a lot of us need that experience.

Aside from summer fire, how can I learn more (and faster) about how fire actually behaves? I'd be willing to travel to someplace that has an active fuels program or even some on the ground hands-on fire behavior.

One other thing. I was surprised at was how long leaves stay on trees that have been in a burnout. I've been watching one spot on a 1999 CA fire and the oaks still haven't dropped their brown leaves. Snow and windstorms - they cling to dead trees. Can't let go.

Wag Dodge's (sp?) fire at Mann Gulch wasn't a burnout or a backfire was it? Just a small fire to let him survive.

Done my first summer
- does everyone think about fire this much afterwards?

12/31 I have a question,

Has anybody sent in there new application for the up coming fire season, if so have you got a confirmation letter back yet and was the process easier this year rather then last.

Hope everybody has a great New Year and AB, I hope your team won...


It didn't. <grumble><grumble> Ab.

12/31 Hallo!

We are a fire-brigade from neulengbach in austria. We wish you and your firefighters a happy new-year 2002.

Best greetings
Freiwillige Feuerwehr Neulengbach-Stadt
Wienerstrasse 201
A-3040 Neulengbach

Happy New Year to you and your crew too. Ab.

12/31 Has anyone heard details about a raise of almost 30% for Forest Service Fire employees as of Jan. 1st, 2002? Specifically in Region 5 South Ops. Thanks and Happy New Year everyone!

Seasonal Ground Pounder

12/30 Do,  de do,  de dum, de dum,  de dum.  Ab watchin' football...
12/29 I updated the Jobs Page and the Wildland Firefighter Job Series 0462 and 0455 yesterday. Ab.
12/28 John C,

CASCO Industries in Pasadena carries all types of Gear for Wildland, as well as Structural. The TX Forestry Service also carries a full line of gear that is available to VFD's and FF's across the state. Casco's number is 800/397-0930. Forestry Service is 936/639-8130 in Lufkin.

12/28 The NICC Situation Reports are now available on the Forest Service website,
along with the IMT and Buying Team rotation lists. There is still no sure
word on when the NIFC site will be back up, so this provides folks access
to the Sit report. Current reports are weekly - newest one posted today.
Also, the Forest Service electronic hiring site began accepting
applications on 12/03.

Sit reports: www.fs.fed.us/fire/fire_new 
FS hiring site: www.fs.fed.us/people/employ/asap 

Happy New Year.


Thanks, RD. Ab.

12/28 From Firescribe, a link to more info on the DOI's computer shutdown:

Indian Country Times (12/28/01)
Computer Shutdown Misinterpreted by Interior 

Ab sez, yeah, let's do a little of the blame game here...

12/28 We make controversy OK, but can we put down the Aussie fires?

Maybe this time, we get a chance.

ABC News - Row over offer of international help to fight NSW bushfires www.abc.net.au/news/justin/nat/newsnat-28dec2001-57.php  

The Fire Brigade Employees Union is urging the New South Wales Government to lease special super scooper aircraft from Canada to help fight the bushfires across the state, as most of them burn out of control.


12/28 New South Wales Fire Brigades Link:

12/28 Can u refer me to someone in Houston TX area who handles wildland NFPA1977 compliant jackets, styles 3300BASE & 4400SB?

Thank You,
John C

12/27 Thanks for the info, Everyone. Sometimes this website feels like my anchor, my home away from home! I talked with the rental property management about the lack of smoke detectors before I left and they're going to check into it.

Hey Guys and Gals. I'm sorry I didn't get in touch with some of you -- VG in Bend and Lasagna in southern OR. Coulda kicked myself when I realized I didn't have phone numbers along... SmokeTrails, I didn't get your forwarded message until  I got home. It would have been fun to tie in. Hope you're still enjoying the snow. Wow, 12' along the highway near Crater Lake and 18' at the lodge which is inaccessible. White Christmas there for sure!

I hope All of You are having a good break, if you're getting one. Sometimes it seems like vacation is just waaaay too short!

Wow, big fires in Australia! Take care you Aussies!

12/26 Quincy,

The FEO, AKA: Engineer, Assistant Module Leader, is primarily a supervisory position. Although the title is Engineer, the Assistant Engineer AFEO, is the primary driver. Your responsibility is to maintain the apparatus (mechanical, fire equipment readiness, inventory, etc.) maintain the station and to supervise the crew in the absence of the captain/module leader. You may only actually drive the engine a couple days a week.

Specific duties are at the discretion of the particular station/forest you work for. I can only speak from my experiences on the Los Padres and Sequoia. If the captain takes a single resource fire assignment (SRA), you cover the engine as the acting captain until their return, often working your days off. You are responsible for the engine, fire equipment and personnel record keeping, etc.

Some captains dont like to leave their engineers in charge and insist that they go on all strike team/single engine resource orders, a matter of trust if you will. My old captain was very fair and would alternate SRA's between the engineer, Asst or any qualified crewmember. Again it depends on the captain/forest policy.

A "Good FEO" is someone who is a very experienced firefighter, is a qualified Engine Boss, better if you are a Strike Team Leader qualified or trainee. Has good mechanical knowledge of the engine, good interpersonal skills, and a strong, safe work ethic.

Southern California has a lot of urban interface and some wicked fire conditions, you may find your engine alone in a firestorm and you must be able to act, and act safely.

I know this does not encompass all of the duties or responsibilities, but I thought I would give you my take on it.

A Former FEO,

12/26 Quincy,

Here is alittle about the FEO positions in R-5. The FEO acts as the Captain for two days out the week, the other three he acts as the engineer. You would work 5 days a week and usually work on the weekends, due to high volume of calls on the weekends. If you search the archeives (it might be the begining of this month or the end of Nov.) and read the post from USFS FEO, you will get an idea of the volume of calls and the variety of calls you will face in R-5.

That is just a bit of what the FEO does on my forest. If your looking for lots of action and a wide variety of calls, take the position. I would suggest brushing up on your medical training, haz.mat., LPG training, and most of all any training you have had on structure protection and fighting fire in the urban-interface.

It's very challenging and alot of responsiblitiy. You would have a fun time.


12/26 Hello friends,

We are a volunteer german fire task force (consisting of both paid and volunteer FF).

We plan on going down to greece this year again to help them fighting the devostating wildfires in their country.

Because we are still not under a gov budget we need help getting our PPE. The only useful PPE for wildland comes from the USA and we`d have to pay much money for customs if we order on the normal way. That``s why we post this request on your page.

If anybody of you know something about getting surplus PPE for wildfires, especially
- shirts
- pants
- goggles
- gloves
- helmets
- webgear
- shelters

I`d be more than happy if you email me at Mausi112@aol.com. Please send anything according this request to get in contact about the postage and so on!

Thank you very much!

Yours Detlef "Mausi" Maushake
German Wildfire Task Force

12/26 From Firescribe:


For fire contractors in the Northwest and Rockies ......

12/26 Hi All

hopefully everybody had a wonderful Christmas, and will have a great New Year.

For the Australian Bush Fires (Australian for Wildland) check out the main paper in Sydney at

My brother wasn't able to make it home to the parents for Christmas due to the roads (freeways and highways) between his house and Mum and Dads closed due to smoke.

Damn I should have picked this year to go back and visit the parents.

Cheers all

Lotsa other Aussie fire news links now on the WLF News Page. Ab.

12/26 Hi, i wrote in last week requesting info on the position of feo in region 5 requesting their duties schedules and what the job is like. i am considering a move from the east coast to calif to take the job but i wanted some independent opinions on it and no one has answered. can you point me in the right direction? thanks.


12/26 Looks like they may have an arsonist running about down-under. News is dated tomorrow from The Sydney Morning Herald so you can see 'They Said' has the news before it happens....that is unless you are on the other side of the world.



12/26 For more info on australian fires try www.abc.net.au/news for the latest news. Larst report was so 140 homes lost. and winds of 80kmh ! and then try clicking on rural at the top and then news on the drop down menu for some more info and photos from a 24 000 ha fire on the 20th December.

Stay safe

West Aussie FCO

Thanks for the information, West Aussie FCO. Ab.

12/26 Yes Mellie, smoke alarms or fire detectors are required under Oregon Law in a business setting such as a resort and if I was you I would call the local state fire marshall or fire district office and complain as it may save someone's life.


12/26 News from Down Under

Hope all had a Safe and Merry Christmas and to all of you may you have an even Safer and Happier New Year..


12/26 God Bless You Guys for trying...(An-R5er & Ab(s))

Yeah, I just recently upgraded to AOL high speed (cable modem) and last night my dial up account was canceled, but my high speed one was never opened... So I had to sort things out with AOL, all the while my e-mail account was killed. SORRY...

But everything is back up and running smoothly, so my e-mail should be good to go. In case it was lost or something, it is FM1Rommel@aol.com. THANKS SO MUCH!

Are trailers as prevalent out west as they are in the South East? Cause we lost two on Monday in part to trailer #1 setting the grass on fire and burning to trailer #2. Well, I guess for anyone that doesn't deal with them regularly; in an urban interface fire, be warned. Trailers burn hot and fast and it doesn't require much at all to set them ablaze. BE SAFE!

Merry Christmas everyone!

12/25 Hi All,

Merry Christmas and what a fine day it has been! I hope ya'll are enjoying family and friends as much as I am. Love to all of you!

I have a question. I'm in Oregon for the holidays, near Mt Bachelor. Can anyone tell me if smoke alarms are required (or not) in rental properties in OR? I'm totally blown away that there are no smoke alarms or fire extinguishers in this resort cabin. I know Oregon believes in less government, but fire safety seems rudimentary to me. There are fireplace and sauna, fake Christmas trees of mineature size with lights, other amenities and about 20 stuffed bears!... All are fire hazards... Whatsup with that?


12/25 Australian Fires!

I heard on the BBC this morning that SE by Sydney is making a major run. Any data out there?


I hope they're being safe. Ab.

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

From the Abs at wildlandfire.com

12/25 ....MERRY CHRISTMAS to all and to all a HAPPY and SAFE NEW YEAR!!!!!!!

From "Aircraft Dispatch" in R-3.

12/25 >From my family to yours: Merry Christmas to all!!!

Hoping everyone has a wonderful day. To those of you that have to work protecting the lives and property of the community you serve, please be careful and stay safe.


12/25 Hey Ab

Just drinken beer reading your site and saw douglas situation. I work for the Idaho city Hotshots. We are always looking for good people. If any one is wanting to work for a hotshot crew, give us a call. any how happy holidays


12/25 Merry Christmas to all.

As we look back over the year, we have lost some of our family members, so lets keep their families in our hearts, prayers and thoughts this day. To all of you out there Merry Christmas from my family and myself. Although alot of us have never met, you are still the greatest family in the world. There are many families, espically out west who owe their being able to have Christmas at home to you firefighters and support personnel. All of you have a great day. It is 80 degrees here in Florida. I guess I can stop standing outside waiting for the snow.


12/24 Any of you Region 6 folks who might know WA-DNR's Roger Autry... he's been promoted from Unit Forester (FMO) into the Headquarters Building as a Fuels and Fire Behavior Specialist in the Resource Protection division. He spent nearly 30 years on the line, watching out for his own crews and others as DIVS and most recently carded as FBAN.

Roger's experience and wisdom on the line will be missed. Hopefully we'll get to see him at some of the big shows.


12/24 Douglas,

I've been trying to e-mail some information to you, but I'm having problems with your e-mail address. Is this your correct address or has it changed? I'm getting a message saying you don't exist as a member with AOL. Please repost or maybe one of the abs could help me out.


We get the same message when using another of his aol addresses. Ab.

12/24 Hey Gang,

Seems when you get into management, you don't have as much time to "play" on the computer. It's been a real long time since I've seen the likes of "They Said". Miss you guys lots. Hope everyone has a safe and happy Holiday season.

For the statement about the sciene on the go PDA downloads, I highly recommend the fire liner and fire away programs. Been playing with the "behave" style of Fire Away, and really like it. Matter of fact, I down loaded it one morning last summer, and within 30 minutes, I was punch'in in the numbers on a 30 acre fire in my district. It was great to simply add the information to the fire report. Although, for those who have to type out on the DI 1202 form, not too friendly.

Hope to have more time this next year to contribute more. Best of luck for all!!

AZ Trailblazer

12/24 AB-

Here is a link to software that loads onto Palm devices. Has several different programs available.

I'm looking to try it as a training supplement for students at work.

Take care

"Another CDF BC"

12/24 To all,

Have a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year...


12/24 Hey guys!

Posted on here a few times before and now I need some help. I realize this is the hiring time for seasonals, and I am really hurting as far as trying to get squared away. I live on the East coast and there is no where for me to go to get seasonal employment. The Form C thing hasn't gotten me a reply for some reason the online BLM thing back in the day didn't work... If anyone out there has like "insiders" information (application) on ANY crews hiring please drop me an e-mail.

(e-mail@ FM1Rommel@aol.com)

12/24 Glad to see you posted the link for the Wildfire Safety Summit at MSO last month. I haven't gone through the whole thing yet, but I've especially enjoyed reading the report by Lark McDonald about the course from MCSolutions.

There were a lot of good things that came out of the Tri-Data studies, and one of the best things was this Fireline Leadership course. Oddly enough, it had a lot to do with the first year of the Great Northern Fire Crew out of Missoula this year. This crew is structured like a hotshot crew, but they're not a hotshot crew. They're actually a Type 2 crew, but they're not like other Type 2 crews. The 2001 season was their first season, and their story's online at www.fs.fed.us/r1/nfp/crew

This crew is a great success story for the fire agencies, for training, and for firefighter recruitment. It's also a truly fine opportunity for people who want to get into firefighting in a serious professional way, people who don't have any background. This crew took firefighter safety and fireline leadership to a new level this year, based partly on what Lark McDonald (et al) did with the fireline leadership concept, and mostly on what crew supe Bill Miller and the other overhead were committed to and what they did this season. What started out as a plan to improve diversity hiring in Region 1 has become a model for crew training, firefighter safety, and personnel recruitment. Check it out.


12/23 Hey All,

Cruise through wildlandfire.com. Still changing.... Stay tuned.


12/23 A little more history on Bill Cadola and the Type 1 Teams. R5 formed its first Type 1 Teams in 1973 I'm fairly certain. There were six. That first year I think Bill (who worked on the Klamath) was on the first Team 4 (Bill Howard's team) as a line boss and the next year as a deputy fire boss. He eventually moved up the chain of command but I'm not sure what years he was IC. He was a great guy and capable with a good sense of humor. Other guys from the Klamath on that team were Harry Taylor and Gil Davies. That was an era much like today with lots of changes including more women on crews and a no alcohol policy.

NorCal Tom

12/23 The Proceedings from the IAWF Wildfire Safety Summit that was held in Missoula in November 2001 is available on the Web at: www.umt.edu/ccesp/wfs/proceedings.php

Lots of good papers by a collection of international speakers.

Dick Mangan

12/23 Hi All,

This Ab is just checking in. No messages this morning. As most of you, I am also "on vacation" but continue to post the board while away from home. Hope you're all having fun and enjoying your family and friends. We each have much to be thankful for.


12/22 From Firescribe:

Campers admit to Leroux Fire in AZ. See what their plea bargain entails.

12/22 Yes, it is a frustrating situation with the DOI stuff -- especially so, being on the DOI side. As for the one post I read that said that DOI employees weren't even allowed to use their home computers to send out info -- hadn't heard that one -- but even if it was true, I'd have a couple words in response: BEE-ESS.

However, when I went to post this to Ab, noticed that the e-mail link on "They Said" wasn't there on my home computer -- maybe big brother DOI is a little more powerful than I had given them credit for!! Anyhow, will keep people up-to-date as much as possible (or as much as I know -- which is about the same as everyone outside DOI -- zilch) --

I finally just gave up, used what little leave I do have and went home.

Cache Queen

OK, the email button goes back, hopefully today. We'd hate for that rumor to gain any credence. We also feel for you who are suffering the pains of internet withdrawal. Ab.

12/21 To C. Bork and others

Bill Cadola was the Deputy on Team 4 when I was one of the two Operations
Section Chiefs. I had the pleasure of working with Bill on several fires
and seeing him at the annual Team 4 reunions.

He was serious, sincere and concerned about all aspects of his team duties
and his friends and family.

He will be missed.
12/21 From Firescribe

Computer freeze halts hiring of fire crews
By Judd Slivka


Hope that gets corrected real soon. See the jobs page. One answer to the fed problem, post those Dept of Interior fire job offers here on the Jobs Page as did one theysaid poster from Wisconsin! Ab.

12/21 Ab, you forgot to put a link/button to e-mail on the "They Said" page, makes
it a bit clumsy switching back and forth.

FFSS from Penn,
Re: Power Point Presentations. I-100 is meant to be a self study course and I
doubt that you will find a PP Presentation for that, but it is so short you
could do one in about an hour or less. As far as 261 goes -- can't give any
help there, may be one out there-maybe not.


Hey WP, I'm surpris'd you didn't sign that "Without Postingability" and/or "Without Powerpoint" or some such. Ya mean someone actually used that email button? Ab.

12/21 I updated the Jobs Page and the Wildland Firefighter Job Series 0462 and 0455. Ab.
12/20 I recently read about a 30% percent pay increase in region five. Is this
region wide, going to be in other regions, just forest service, blm, or
what? Thanks for anyone who can shed some more light on the subject.

12/20 Will be starting winter fire training in Pa. to get ready for spring. Looking for the following courses on PowerPoint I-100, S-261, and anything on Map and Compass. Any help would be appreciated.

FFSS in Pennsylvania
12/20 Merry Christmas everyone. Have a happy and safe Holiday.

I know you hear this alot. But thanks for the excellent web site and
the hard work you guys & gals put into it. It is very much appreciated
and makes the winter season allot more bearable. Thank You!!!


Thanks, it IS a lot of hard work and we appreciate the thanks. If you've noticed, we are changing some of the link buttons at the top of the pages. Haven't made the final changes on font type yet, but we are streamlining things. Hopefully the changes will make this time-consuming job a bit more efficient. This Ab still hasn't gotten to a number of photos and is likely not to until after Christmas. Thanks for your patience, photo submitters. We will get them up, and some nice ones there are. Ab.

12/20 Just read this morning that the judge is allowing most DOI websites to come back online. The
article added that resurrecting them could take a few more days. As of now I can't access any
of them, or the NIFC site, but hopefully the havoc is almost over.

Phyllis Owen, it was a pleasure to read your sweet poem. As Ab said, when all is said and done we owe a lot to you transportation specialists. 

Happy Holidays!
12/20 TAHOE TED - I don't have a contact at OZP but the phone number of
headquarters in Van Buren is 573-323-4236. If you know anybody at Mark
Twain, they should have contacts. They work together some.

12/20 Hello all-

Many thanks for the references to the Rappel bases, it makes the search a lot easier. It will definitely help this east coaster come back out next season.

12/20 I knew Bill when he was forest AFMO, and agree w/ ERL, he was one of those firemen you're glad you could say you knew. I don't know which team he was on but, I do think i remember seeing him on a 620 class photo at NARTC so maybe someone there could provide info. 

PS - Barfy probably knows Bill's History, if anybody knows who this is...

12/20 Seeking a fire personnel contact at the Ozark National Scenic Riverways......does someone have a list of contacts/phone #'s in the NPS.......with the system down...makes it hard to find people.

Thanks in advance
12/18 Hello All,

UPDATE: As I mentioned before on theysaid, I have made T-shirts with the united-we-stand-twin towers-pentagon design that I'm selling to benefit the families of those who died on 9/11. (I have about 40 left.) They're 100% cotton preshrunk white T-shirt, sizes M, L, XL, and XXL, cost $12.00 plus $3.00 for shipping. As those who have ordered and gotten theirs can tell you: you can e-mail me for info, I tell you where, you send me the size and a check for the t-shirt(s) and I send you the t-shirts.

ALL proceeds (no profit to me) will go to the United Way September 11 fund (http://www.uwnyc.org/sep11/index.phpl). 

Orders and any questions to:
T_shirt911@hotmail.com (there is an _ after the T )


12/19 Hello,

Can anyone give me an idea of the ins and outs of the position of FEO with the forest service: daily schedules, responsibilities, negatives and positives about the job in general? any and all info would greatly be appreciated. feel free to email me at


12/19 I see that the announcement is out for Redmond IHC. This is a developmental training detail, and according to the announcement, employees from outside Region 6, the Forest Service and even state agencies will be considered. Dates of the detail are April thru Sept., 2002. Contact persons are Doug Johnson (541)504-7351 or Deb Blais (541)504-7344.

I also see that Redding IHC has an outreach out for a Squad Leader. The contact is Craig Lechleiter (503)222-5460

-Bald Paul-
12/19 GK and all,
Here is some new info on exclusive use helibases. www.ihogman.com/ihfa/htack/index.phpl

Thanks alot and I hope this helps out.

12/19 In the book "Memorable Forest Fires", Edited by Gilbert W. Davies and Florice M. Frank published by HiStory Ink Books, Hat Creek, CA, there is about 11 pages of William "Bill" Cadola's personal remembrances. This book is a great read mostly fires in the Cascades but stories from all over.

12/19 I can't give you all the details but I know Bill started on the Scott River District, Went to Happy Camp, and then became AFMO of the Klamath. I have known Bill and his family all of my life and am deeply saddened by his passing. I have many memories of him, mostly funny. Thank you Bill for being a part of my life.

I'm not sure what team Bill had and don't remember that they were known as anything but the IC's name.

Been lurking for a few years, great site, I consider it a must for my job to keep a feel for the pulse of the grunts,

And yes the DOI Internet is still down, creating a lot of havoc all over the place.

12/19 Folks are working hard at NIFC to get an exemption/security clearance to
the DOI order and get the NIFC website back up. If all goes well, it could
be back up right after the first of the year. Other DOI sites may be down
as long as late Feb but I understand they are working on a stand-alone site
to provide on-line application capability.

Thought this info might be worth sharing.

Thanks RD. If there's anymore update as time goes on, we'd appreciate knowing. Ab.

12/18 The Jobs Page and the Wildland Firefighter Job Series 0462 and 0455 have been updated. Ab.
12/18 Great pictures on your webpage!!!!. We used them for a 5th grade natural disaster project. Thanks!!!!!!!!!


You're welcome, I'm sure. Ab.

12/18 Was trying to get info from U.S.G.S. web site (United States Geologic Survey). Most of what I wanted I can't connect to. Found and interesting message at their web site: as of Dec. 8, 2001, the U.S.G.S and NIFC were both supposed to be up and running due to the Emergency Services work they do. All other DOI links are still down due to the law suit. What was interesting was the note that said the U.S.G.S. is working with the new Home Land Security section.

I hope every one has a safe and Merry Christmas and a good New Year.
Be careful out there stay safe and warm.
Local Agency Volunteer Engineer (L.A.V.E)
12/18 Can anyone tell me as to why the Washington Forests in R6 have nowhere
near the Perm. vacancy announcements as the Oregon Forests? I have been
scrolling thru the ASAP announcements and was amazed at the number of
people Oregon Forests were picking up compared to Washingtons. I have
got to say I'm a little disappointed, I was hoping there would be more
announcements for Wa.

Also why is it that some forests that I know are flyin vacancies for
perm. positions in Wa. are not on ASAP?

12/18 AFEO 33 / NorCal Tom,

To answer your question AFEO 33, Pierce will only be supplying 4x4's and water tenders. That's what the contract calls for. So if your station is getting a 4x2, then you'll be receiving an engine from Boise Mobile Equipment (BME).

To answer your question NorCalTom, Pierce will be building all water tenders for Region 5 (and other Regions). The Fire Equipment Committee is developing specs for a "tactical" water tender. This tactical water-tender will have similar capabilities to that of an engine, but serve primarily as a water-tender. This tactical water tender will have the option of CAFS with fully automated monitors (one on top, one on the front bumper). This option I believe is available right now on regular water tenders but will be paid out of the Forest budget ($15,000.00 just fro the CAFS unit). So when all is said and done, there will be two options to choose from on what type of water tender. As far as the engines appearance. The 4x4's will look very similar to the prototype that is located on the Plumas (4x2). I don't believe that Pierce classifies that as a Hawk.

12/18 Bill Cadola died yesterday. He will be missed. Here's the link to his obituary from the Siskiyou Daily News in Yreka, CA.    www.siskiyoudaily.com

They report:

He loved and excelled in his job as an assistant fire staff for the Klamath National Forest. Bill was an Incident Commander of a Type #1 National Fire Team for the USFS.... A celebration of his life will be held 11 a.m., Dec. 20 at the First Southern Baptist Church, 921 S. Oregon St. in Yreka with graveside service immediately following at the Fort Jones Cemetery.


Can anyone fill us in further on details of his career? When was he an IC and for what team? any other details or remembrances? Ab.

12/18 My name is Jeremy Powers and I'm the webmaster for Oshkosh and Pierce.
The links on the Oshkosh page are now fixed. There were extra slashes in
the links and IE is more forgiving about that than Netscape.

FYI, both the Oshkosh and Pierce sites were tested with Netscape 4.0 and
later, for both Mac and Windows, and was even designed to work, to some
degree, with several scaled-down limited browsers such as Opera.

Why, thanks, Jeremy. It's nice when links work for all our viewers. What say, NorCalTom, can you read this now? Ab.

12/18 Regarding the Pierce engines: Oshkosh has the press release on their
website. www.oshkoshtruck.com . Scroll down in the "latest news" to see the
headline and click from there. Pierce also has their GSA Authorized
Federal Supply Schedule Price List that may provide some useful
information. I didn't see Forest Service engines listed specifically but
saw NPS and BLM. www.piercemfg.com/gsa/index.php 

I am curious. Is the interest because of getting new engines or because
they are Pierce?


Readers, once on the site, the link to the article under "Latest News" that Shep describes doesn't work with Netscape. You get an error message "can't locate the server". You have to use Internet Explorer to read this article. (Does Bill Gates own Pierce and/or Oshkosh?) Ab.

12/18 Nor cal tom, I saw the article you mentioned, and am wondering about the 3.9 mil price tag?

56 rigs at 3.9 mil is a hell of a bargain. works out to like 65K + - each. I cant even buy a chassis for that much, let alone an entire rig.

This doi web site down stuff is getting old.

just a note, 
be safe later
12/18 Soooo....has anyone heard when, (or if) the DOI sites are ever going to come back online?
Rumors were they would be back last week and then nothing happened. Kinda strange stuff going on this year....

12/18 Just to clarify, Arroyo Grande is a 28 person rappel/helishot crew, we will be mostly staffed with apprentices. The few positions left over ( if any ) will be filled with temporary appointments. At this time we do not know how many positions we will have. If you are interested, please go through the normal application process. You are welcome to email/call us at the address/phone# provided in one of the preceding posts. If anybody would like specific information about the crew, I would be happy to help them out.
12/18 Several days ago Hickman sent a question regarding benefits in to Cynthia Y. Simons, Benefits Specialist at the DOJ. He cc-ed us. Here is his question and her reply.

----- Original Message -----
>>> " Hickman" 12/13/01 09:45PM >>>
I was reading a resent post in a fire forum about a firefighter who was killed during a wildland fire operation in Idaho. His family was denied benefits since he was under contract by a private contractor who hired him. The contractor appeared to be working under a contract with the state or forest service at the time of the incident. I guess my question would deal with a possible situation similar to this: If a firefighter was working under a contract with a company such as Rural Metro, which works under contract with cities or fire districts to provide fire protection, would their firefighters be covered under PSO benefits in case of death? If so what would be the difference between the wildland firefighter and the Rural Metro firefighter, since they both work under contract?

Thank you for your Information
<snip> Hickman

From: "Cynthia Simons" <CINDYS@OJP.USDOJ.GOV>
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2001 2:38 PM
Subject: Re: PSO benifits

Hi <snip> Hickman

The difference is whether the firefighter was being paid by the state, forest service or contractor.

If the firefighter was paid by the contractor who was under contract with the state or forest service when the line of duty death occurred, then his survivors would not be eligible for the benefit. If the firefighter was under contract, but was paid by the state or forest service then his survivors would be eligible for the benefit, if it was a line of duty death.

I hope this helps.

If have any additional questions you can e-mail us again, or you can call 1-888-744-6513.

12/17 Re the Pierce engines: There was an article on 12/6 entitled "Oshkosh Truck Subsidiary, Pierce, to Supply 55 Fire Trucks to U.S. Forest Service in California". The link to it went away almost immediately or I would have sent it in. The article said that
  • Pierce was going to supply the Forest Service in CA with 56 fire fighting vehicles for use on the wildland/urban interface. 
  • The order is valued at $3.9 million.
  • Many will be delivered by July, 2002. 55 plus 140 that CA already has increases the number of vehicles significantly.
  • The order includes 31 tanker trucks and 25 Hawk wildland trucks. (their term - trucks)
  • Something about the trucks being customized for the interface and meeting the requirements of the GSA schedule. 
  • Pierce committed to expand its model offerings for the interface fire fighting market and that it offers a CAFS.

Does anyone know if the engines will include a CAFS system? That would be a plus.


12/17 AB, just a comment,

As I understand it the DOI folks are under the judges orders not even to use their home computers for anything that has to do with their jobs. The only way to communicate with them is via Fax or Phone. It is getting to be a real pain in the neck.


12/17 engineer 41

when will pierce start making 4x2s? last I heard from my forest that we are getting the new engine from pierce not a 4x4.

afeo 33
12/17 GK-
sounds like AG is dooing a little recruiting.
12/17 I have a similar question as the one below about benefits... Please somebody tell me...

Which specific death benefits go to the families of wildland firefighters?

Which still apply if they were on contract?

What percentage of firefighters are on contract?

Another widow trying to figure it all out,
12/17 GK, 

Try the AG station on the Los Padres. The phone number is (805) 481-1280, or you could email tplymale@fs.fed.us.

12/17 WLF and DK,

Here is a site that you can get Interagency Helicopter Rappel Base Directory and Users Guide. Look up www.ihogman/ihfa/rap/.

This should be very helpful, if it doesn't work, log on to www.ihogman.com/ihfa/ and get a hold of ihogman and he will get you the info. Everybody there is very helpful.


For future reference, that link is on the Links Page under aviation. Ab.

12/17 Probably if you call BIFC and ask politely they will have a list of all resources nationwide on the computer and can e-mail it to you.

BIFC? Now let's not confuse people. Jobseekers/newbies, before you rush off to look up BIFC on the internet or in the phone book, best check the acronyms page. Even if you try NIFC, you'll find all Dept of Interior websites are down. Not one link to DOI sites on our Links Page works. No e-mail -- all their computers are offline. (Someone musta bribed that judge so as to get some holiday time off at taxpayers' expense.) The only way those from the BLM, NPS, BIA, and FWS are reading this page and in touch with the world is from their home computers, as I understand it. Any of you want to report in? Can you??? Helloooooooooo. Ab.

12/17 RxFire,
There is a 4.6 raise for all Forest Service employees that starts 1/14/2002.
Region 5 has approved a 30% raise which started this last Pay Period (#24). This is for GS-2 to 8, little less for GS-9 and up. With our locality pay it actually comes out to roughly 15%. I'm not sure if any other Regions are putting in or are getting this type of raise. Hope this answers your question...

You might want to check the Ramona Helitack on the Cleveland, Palomar Ranger District. There are plans for the 2002 season to convert them to a rappel crew/helishots. I have not heard if this will actually happen by 2002, but you can call the district (760) 788-0250 to be placed in contact with their rep.

12/16 GK,
I do not know where you could find a list of the various Rappel crews
around. Arroyo Grande on the Los Padres NF, is an FS Rappel crew. I don't
know the number off hand but if you call a Ranger Station in Santa Maria,
San Luis or anywhere in the surrounding areas I am sure they will be
willing to give you that information. There is also a Forest Service
rappel ship out of Kern Valley, I think they are out of the Sierra NF,
maybe Shasta-Trinity NF, again if you call a station or regional office in
that area, they might help you more. There is also a rappel crew out of
Alberta, Canada with the Land & Forest Service. Search the FS website
www.fs.fed.us and start sending emails looking for crews. Good luck!


12/16 GK-

Here's a site that links to some FS Helitack Rappel Bases in R6 

I'll look/ask around for others. How cumbersome to go through all the firehire locations as AW suggested, although that's an ingenious solution. I know I recently saw some kind of Rappel Base Directory/Users Guide and I'm trying to remember where. Bet you could get one from the Boise FS office or get them to fax you a few pages of info.  You'd think there would be a list somewhere on the FS intranet if no where else. I think the FS has close to 40 locations, NPS has two, and BLM has one or maybe two.

The new R5 Arroyo Grande crew made Type 1 this fall. They have a good rep. Keep them in mind when you're applying.


12/16 Sent in by Firescribe:

CNN story on the costs of fighting fire
Forest Service firefighting costs rising
12/16 Any one got a good example of some answers to the KSAs for FSJOBS-02-M002 that they wouldnt mind sending me, I could sure use some quality assistance, reply at  rickandurs@juno.com 

Ab sez: Here's www.fs.fed.us/people/employ/asap/index_series.php -- how to access the FSJOBS-02-M002 vacancy announcement. It's a word document. Click on the link. Form C and your rsum <heavy French accent> determine whether you make the cert list, so it is good to take some time and focus on this. Here are some application suggestions from ASAP. This is a word doc. (You can also find a link to it on the ASAP index page mentioned by DF yesterday, a few posts below.)

12/16 Hi All -

After reviewing what was being said the past week or two, I noticed some talk about the Pierce contract. I want to take this time to set the record straight. 

Pierce does have a contract to build the Forest Service new engines. The engines that will be produced will be 4x4's. Not 4x2's. The 4x2's will still be built by BME. Pierce will be doing the build-ups of all 4x4's and water tenders. All engines being built are still Model 62's, NOT 63's. The reason for the current 4x2 from Pierce is that it is a prototype. Pierce had to build what is referred to as a first article, so the Regional Fire Equipment Committee can review it and make necessary changes (and there will be). If you have any other questions please let me know. Happy holidays!!!!!

Engineer 41

Thanks for the clarification Engineer 41. Ab.

12/16 Dear Ab and all, 

Has anyone heard if the civil service is getting a raise? I have heard from friends in the military that they are getting about 6-7% increase in basic salary? I haven't seen anything on the opm website, but I could have missed it.

It's looking like it will be a White Christmas here in SE. Oregon.

Merry Christmas to all.
12/15 Hello6

I have had the pleasure of being a bus driver for a few of the Wildlands Firefighters crews. I think you people are awesome! To do the work that you do and still maintain the attitude you do, is truely awe inspiring! I wrote this for Choctaw 37, Snowball 6, the Globe Hotshots and every other man and woman who risks their life to fight our forest fires.

The Wildlands Firefighters

A lightning strike could start the blaze;
The smoke is seen through the morning haze.
It spirals up into the sky;
There is a fire on the mountain high.
The dry season is drawing near;
The call goes out, "We need you here."
Into the night, risking their lives,
Leaving their homes, their children and wives.
Wildlands Firefighters go where there's a need,
Putting safety first is the motto they heed.
Men and women in green and gold,
Hold the line and do as they're told.
They battle the flames that threaten our lands;
They fight them with shovels, rakes and hands.
They sleep in tents on the cold, cold ground,
Ever ready for the alarm to sound.
Keeping our forests safe from harm,
Woods and mountains and even the farm.
Duty calls, and for fourteen days,
They give up their lives and their own ways. 
So, if they happen to come to your town,
Say a great big thank you and cheers all around!
They give of themselves most selflessly,
That our National Forests may continue to be!

Phyllis Owen
(Transportation Specialist)
Good Luck to all of you and a very.......

Hey, Phyllis, same to ya. There's been more than one bus driver who has saved the lives of groundpounders in a tight spot. We're all on the same side. (And I know it didn't rhyme, but our women firefighters leave their children and husbands, too.) Ab.

12/15 AB, ABBY, ABE, ABETTE, and so on,

This would be a good addition to the Links page: 

And while you are in there, maybe you can correct the address to the OPM 
site, you have: http://www3.opm.gov/oca/payrates/index.php Somehow a 
'3' sneeked in be hind the WWW.


I added the new link referencing family benefits available following a LODD  to the Links page under "federal employees".  Also made the other corrections. Always 'preciate knowing about broken links. Thanks WP and Rhino. Ab.

12/15 A lump of coal for the bean-counter like musings about risk from michael. He will go far if he is in CDF with all the Forester-Accountants running the fire department.

Does he really have the cheek to talk about risk in terms of dollars...on THIS page? What about the risks of those doing initial attack on Late Season wind driven fires and going a whole day without aircraft, dozers, even crews? You talk about acceptable risk to the person at the end of the hoseline facing a 150' sheet of flame with virtually no back up, maybe even without type 3 engines.

A pox on you. Wildland fire resources should be available until the ground is saturated and herbaceous fuels begin their growth cycle. Sorry, but in So Cal that is December. And we (CDF) are budgeted until December 15. It was only Forester-Accountants trying to save a few days worth of salary that caused us to close.

Fireball XL 5

12/15 REMINDER - Round 1 Permanent Fire Jobs (Vacancy Announcements-FSJOBS-02-D00, FSJOBS-02-M002) went up on the ASAP site on 12/03 and people have to have their applications in by 1/15/02.

Not much time to get your stuff in a heap and out on the street.

Lots of jobs in R-6, 19 on the Umpqua N.F. alone, so all you temps and folks who want an upgrade, go get 'em. This web site will get you in,



Check out the jobs page for more details and outreach descriptions for jobs on the Umpqua. Ab.

12/15 WP, regarding the pot of money available in line of duty deaths:

Reference www.firehero.org/lodd/PSOBFact.php . Department of Justice,
PSOB Public Safety Officer's Benefits. The amount listed at $151,635 for
2001, I believe President Bush raised the amount after 9/11.


12/15 I want to thank you for all the information. For people that don't know
what to do, my son received a book of letters that were sent from all
over the United States from Firefighters sending their condolences. He
then saw how many people really cared about his father and was filled
with sorrow, but also pride that his father was a hero and died saving
others lives. That is the concern no matter if you're contracted or not.

We are all one brotherhood, but not from a Federal or State point of
view. Please ask your organization what you can do to change this and
help the next family that loses a parent! My son will never be the same
but he knows that there are a ton of people out there that care about
him and his dad.

DRC, and others, take a look at the link below that k. sent in for NWSA, a contract wildland firefighter association. I don't know anything about it and I know this is too late for your family DRC, but others might look into joining this organization. Ab.

12/14 The Jobs Page and the Wildland Firefighter Job Series 0462 and 0455 have been updated. Lotsa jobs in Oregon, Umpqua National Forest and jobs offered by the state of OR. Check em out.

Not nearly done with the photos, but here's a sneak preview of some photos of the Moose Fire in Montana, 2001. That fire burned over many jurisdictions in late August. Photos probably were taken by someone on Humphrey's IIMT. If anyone knows who the photographer is, please let us know so we can give credit.


12/14 http://www.nwsa.net/

President:      Rick Dice
Phone: 541-746-7528      E-Mail: RDice@msn.com

Vice President:      Mike Wheelock
Phone: 541-476-0033      E-Mail: mike@graybackforestry.com

12/14 USFS FEO,

When you were totaling up how much you are worth dead, you missed a big pot
of money! There is a federal program that pays a tax free benefit to any
firefighter or police officers family, if they die in the line of duty.

When I first heard about it years ago it was $60,000.00, later I heard it was
up to $100,000.00 and might be higher now. I do not know the name of the
agency that administers the program, can any one out there point in the right
direction (web site)? As far as I know the program does not apply to
contractors, but stuff happens and they might be eligible?

12/14 DRC,
Try contacting the NWSA. Maybe they can point you in the correct
direction to help you . They deal specifically with contract crews. The
president ( if I remember correctly) is named Rick Dice. I hope this may
help somehow. 
12/14 Hey Ya'll,

You really should go to Krs Evans' website and read and see the photos of his experience getting hit by the falling snag, being in the hospital in intensive care and now in rehab. Photos of his dad, crew who stood by him, etc. His story is very conversational, matter of fact and funny at times.  He has such a fine spirit, nothing of the victim, and his site is very interesting. (He also has some outrageous hotshot humor, the likes of which we aren't allowed to post here, if-ya-know-what-i-mean, Ab.) He writes every few days of new experiences, so it's always changing. Excellent writer. And has said that people he doesn't know are e-mailing and he really enjoys that. Go read, look, laugh, enjoy. Send him an e-mail. Krs is neither a victim nor down in spirit, but as JH said, he does have a big mountain to climb and would certainly enjoy the cheers from our sidelines. Hey Ab, I know you've posted this link before, but please put it up again.



I also found his site thoroughly enjoyable in places and interesting in others. When you get to the front page and his name, click on it for all the other pages. Hotshot Down is a no-nonsense account from a good writer. Ab.

12/14 Some photos, lots of photos to do. Thanks for the many contributions. I'll get to them today. Ab.
12/14 DRC, I am very sorry for your loss and for all the members of our family of firefighters who have lost their lives serving the public in any capacity, paid, volunteer, inmate or contract and otherwise. There are many of us out here who would be glad help you out if we knew how to contact you or your representative. Do you have a trust fund set up for your son?

Remember it's not about the government, it's about us. No one else is going to care as much as we do.

Abs thanks for this forum - maybe we can do some good for somebody.

Merry Christmas and God Bless.
12/14 r3 Flyer------

Thanks mucho for your help. I had earlier called KNDO TV but they said they had no tapes left. Will continue hunting as I think that tape must be very, very touching and a very special event. Doesn't surgery get in the way of regular life, though. Darn and blast it.


12/14 Amen WAFF. 
But I have to say. I think you have a bad outlook on the
whole Fed vs. Contractor issue. Why do I say that? Because I worked as a
Crew Boss for a contract crew this year. All my previous experience was
with the Feds. Yes they do have it tuff and have to jump thru alot more
hoops than most people. But I never realized how many loyal brothers and
sisters are out there until I was on the other side. My crew worked
with shot crews who commended us on our work. People in finance helped
me fumble thru the hoops. We cut miles of line and rolled tons of hose
and mopped up over fed crews. We were commended and not once did I feel
like my crew was being looked down upon by the people we worked side by
side with. The rules were put in place by higher ups not our fellow
firefighters. That is all I have to say on that matter.

I too lost a friend this year and my condolences go out to the families
of our fallen brothers and sisters this year.
12/13 Hello all,

Abs, Would you mind if I solicit a little advertisement on the site for a recruitment open house on the Los Padres National Forest, for the 15th of Dec? We will be taking questions and handing out information on the up-coming hiring process for temporary fire positions for the 2002 fire season.

The open house will be at the Air Tanker Base ( 90 Arnold Dr., Goleta CA ). If you have any questions or need directions on how to get there, please call (805) 967-6115 ext 202.

Thanks alot,
12/13 GK about rappellers,

There isn't much information on the internet. So far the Federal agencies have done a pretty poor job of getting onto the internet. Probably the best way to get the information you want is to go to the firehire site, go into locations and call the districts that list helicopters.


pick the region
12/13 Have to agree with fireronin and mellie, I too did not respond as I had no useful information to offer, I was happy to see the first post from WAFF as I thought it showed there was somebody who was knowledgeable about the problem, I did not respond to the severe injury of the hotshot posts either for much the same reason.

DRC, I do wish you and your child well and am sorry for your loss. As far as better treatment for contractors, there are contract firefighting associations out there. Perhaps you might be able to contact them. I doubt there is much that can be done to directly help you at this point but they might be able to put you in touch with people who are trying to change the situation, to prevent this in the future. As Mellie said, California amended their laws to include contractors working for government agencies in the states benefits program. I hope you don't take the lack of posts as the people here not caring. I'm sure most just didn't know what to say.

As to the contractor vs "government" firefighters, the employing agency or company bears the responsibility for the bulk of the employees protection. I did a quick search on the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. For the most part the benefits are moral support groups, plaques and some undisclosed amounts of financial assistance primarily aimed at allowing the families to travel when necessary in relation to participating in the activities mentioned above. The college tuition assistance paid for by the Government has only applied to Federal firefighters since 1998 (and Federal Law Enforcement since 1996) and was basically intended as a recruitment tool. Other benefits only apply to members of the IAFF (which would exclude many federal firefighters), most federal wildland firefighters (except members of the FWFSA I would assume as well as volunteers and contractors).

A quick bit of math leaves me with this: if I were to die my family would get approximately $150,000 from the life insurance (which I pay for although at a lower government rate) plus tuition assistance of $404 per month (roughly $20,000 over a 4 year degree program) and the Forest Service pays an additional amount (2x my yearly salary? so say another $60,000) for a line of duty death and Social Security benefits (which contractors should be entitled to). So this is roughly $210,000 through the Forest Service, $20,000 from the NFFF, and Social Security. As I said above, the bulk of death benefits comes from the employer.

WAFF, if you want to discuss the contractor vs government employee issue at a more appropriate time I'd be glad to discuss that in a constructive fashion, I don't know all that much about it as I've never been on a contract crew but I'd be willing to learn, you obviously have some issues on your mind about that.


12/13 Jane, this may be the info you are looking for...Television Station KNDO,
1608 S. 24th Avenue, Yakima, WA 98902, had a film crew present that filmed
the entire event, beginning with the fire engine processional and ending
with the service at the Yakima Sundome. Earlier this video was available
for the cost of $25.00, all of which was to be donated to the forest
Firefighters Memorial Fund. This info was provided by an Information
Assistant at the Naches Ranger District, telephone 509.653.2205, ext. 228.

Hope this helps, 
r3 Flyer.

Thanks r3 Flyer. Ab.

12/13 WAFF,

You may have misinterpreted the lack of posts as lack of caring. I for one did not post because I had nothing practical to add to your earlier post. The only action I see as having any hope is to seek out a lawyer to recover damages or insurance proceeds through the contractor.

You said it all as far as I was concerned, including your condolences. I think all the folks that lurk and most that post feel that what you said represented us all. You gave the only advice I could have offered that might have been of use. If I had anything to add I would have and I think this goes for most of the other folks in the fire community that read your post.

Just because there were not a bunch of redundant posts reaffirming what your post said, doesn't mean that we don't care. On the contrary. We ARE a family. When one of our own is hurt or killed it hurts all of us. I have seen grown men cry for fallen comrades that they never met because it hurts so much. I have been known to do so myself. It doesn't matter who writes your checks...we are all brothers and sisters. And I think we all felt the same helplessness at being unable to think of better advice than yours. I did.

Yes, there are those that mistakenly display their pride in their own unit by treating others as inferior. Some are old and set in their ways, others young and foolish. Yes, there may be one or two that are miffed by your bringing up the shoddy way contractors are treated sometimes. Who cares. And yes, maybe you have a point that we should demonstrate a little more compassion toward our fallen comrades and their families. How specifically would you suggest we do this?

But please don't go away angry.. or go away at all. If you believe you are at all right we need your point of view.

Nuff said,
12/13 WAFF,

Many people who read here care about benefits for contractors and for vollies as well as for fed and state employees. Now you can even SEARCH back through the past theysaid posts to find all the discussions about benefits.

My friend Karen died when run over by her engine while fighting a fire in Redding CA, fall of 1999. She was a volunteer. Immediately ALL the firefighters in Denny Camp, not just the vollies, took up a collection for her two girls. The outpouring was profound. Richard Blood, a contract bus driver, was murdered at the Anderson CA Fairgrounds while rotating off the Big Bar Complex, fall of 1999. Through an oversight and the fact that the overhead teams were also in the process of wrapping it up and leaving, his family was not even offered condolences from the fed fire community until way later. (Correct me if I'm wrong on this, please.) While his children are grown and not so in need of educational funds, the lack of support from a high level was painful.

After Larry and Lars (contract AT firefighters) died in the mid-air collision this summer, many responded with support, financial and emotional. As the result of the hard work of a number of AT pilots' wives, a bill was passed in CA. It entitles children of those who die while fighting fire (or engaged in law enforcement) in CA to go to state colleges and universities tuition-free. (I believe the legislature must vote to extend it in two years, so your support to lobby that renewal may be called on at that time.) The point is that the change in law came about because pilots, their wives and the fire community spoke loudly about the inequities in contractor benefits and pushed to get the change done. Such balancing of support resources needs to happen across the nation.

As far as folks here not joining you in responding to DRC because they don't care about contractors, you're wrong. Here's an alternative explanation: People often don't know what to say when confronted with people who have lost a loved one -- especially when the person feels like a firefighter's child is not getting the support they need. Even I sometimes don't know what to say. Frankly, I was glad you replied so wonderfully to DRC.

So I hope you continue to join us when you feel you have something to contribute. But ultimately, it's your call.


12/13 GOLLY, I am so GLAD that WAFF got all that off the chest!! Gosh, Ab, a
person could develop an ulcer feeling that snitty and not blowing it off
on your site.

All seriousness aside, I suspect the reason that dozens of people did
not pigpile all over the post about the benefits for a lost contractor
is that many of us have been dealing with that issue for ages and ages
and ages. What happens when contract tanker pilots die? Who provides
those benefits? It's an old issue, an ugly issue, and not one that will
go away anytime soon. This is not about how agency firefighters feel
about contract firefighters, and contract firefighters are nothing new.
Seems to me like WAFF oughta get a better grip on the issue before going
off and spitting on everyone in the assumption that no one cared.

12/13 OK. Some one asked a question regarding benefits for a fallen FIREFIGHTER
that happened to be a contractor. Now, seeing I am the only one that
responded to her. I am concerned, well not too concerned, just disappointed.
Now I guarantee that if the firefighter would have been FED, BLM, or
whatever federal or state agency, everyone on this site would have been all
over that post trying to help her. But seeing that he was only a contractor,
I was the only one.

Personally I think that stinks. Its one thing to treat contractors
differently, kind of like hazing, but for gods sake, we're all firefighters.
We all deserve the same respect everyone else gets.

When are people going to realize that we're all risking our lives. We're all
working the same hours, we're all pounding the same ground. Until then,
unfortunately, we're going to have the segregation we have here.

Funny thing is, I used to be state. I never looked down upon contractors. I
treated them with respect as I would anyone else. But I had never
experienced what a contractor experiences every time they go into check in.
>From the look that they receive when they go into finance and get rerouted
( with a smug look ) to equipment time. To the introduction of a Div Sup that
was ex hotshot and dealing with that.

Frankly people its getting old. Realize that you yourself are there to do a
job. That job is to put out a fire. NOT to haze or treat people
disrespectfully or even differently. I know there is a human resource
specialist in camp, but thing is, they're Fed too.

It has become a game of pretty much us and them. Weather people think it or
not. It is. And I write this here due to the fact it applies here. If ya
don't think so, how many replied to the fallen firefighter post???

Now, this is the last time I am going to post and the last time I am
visiting the site. Sorry AB. I am upset at the fact that this isn't the
first time it has happened. It happen about a year ago with that inmate that
was lost and he left a 10 yr old daughter. No one but myself responded to
that. I just cant believe that people are that ( for lack of a better word )
stuck up, that they segregate firefighters to that extent.

People might ask who I am and what right I have to speak like this. I am a 6
year wildfire veteran. I also have 4 1/2 years of structure experience. I
have played the game and because I love my job so much, I continue to play
the same game every summer. And as a firefighter who has seen both sides
( contractor and state ), I have every right to tell people to wake up and
leave the old ways behind. Accept the fact that contractors are here to stay
regardless of how much you may dislike it or how poorly you treat us. Wake
up to the fact that we are all risking our lives and we are all doing the
same job.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that all who read this will be upset at the
fact that a contractor raised there opinion on how screwed things are and
take it out on contractors they meet next summer. Now I hope that doesn't
happen, but it probably will.

Everyone have a save summer next year. And to DRC, again I am terribly sorry
about the loss. I hope for a speedy recovery for the family.


Oh, my, WAFF, you're not the first person today to write in that you'll never post here again. (And the others were not  contractors.) Wonder if there's a dissatisfaction virus going around... Hmmmmmm, if it becomes an epidemic and no one posts, we might just have to shut 'er down. (tongue firmly in cheek) Ab.

12/13 Good Morning All,

We've been working on the website and have added a Search capability which we're in the process of testing. We'd like your help on this. If you can think of any word or topic to search on, please enter it and see what you find. For example, if I search for "engine", a lot of theysaid archive pages come up on which engine has been mentioned. You can click on one archived page link and the archive will come up. Within that page, you can search for engine by going to "edit" in the menu bar and going down to "find" or simply hitting the control and F buttons simultaneously.

More complex "boolian" searches can be done using "and" and "or" between multiple words. Directions for these are on the Search Page.

Can you find anything we've "hidden" from the readers?


12/13 Jane,
I've been asking around a little. You might try giving the Cle Elum
Ranger District a call. They are a close knit group and some of the
family members work there. I am sure they can direct you in the right
direction. (509) 674-4411
12/12 Where can I find a complete list of Heli-rappel crews (FS and BLM)? Only R6 seems to provide information about them on the web, so it is tough for those who don't live out West in the winter to get information.  Any help would be appreciated.

12/12 Dear R6FF

Thank you for your quick reply. Would you please offer my heartfelt condolences to any of the families involved. The hard work and sacrifices made by all concerned in the firefighting family are stupendous. If only the rest of the world could work together like the firefighting family we wouldn't need to be worried about anthrax, or anything else.

12/12 Jane,

I am friends with the Craven family. I myself do not have a copy. I can
ask around for you. Or maybe talk with Tom's brother. I will try to look
into it for you.


12/12 Hi All,

I had intended to purchase the tape of the funeral for the four firefighters but got side tracked by back surgery. Called the station in Yakima but they don't have any left. As my granddaughter is a wildland firefighter, am very interested---and very touched---by the activities.

Would anyone by chance have an extra tape of that funeral that I could purchase??? I really appreciate your time looking into this as I know that you are busy all the time. Thank you.

12/11 I found a little info with the air tanker problems on the Portrero Fire. According to sources, CDF-MVU placed an order for air tankers and it was filled. Once up in the air and after their first couple loads, the pilots where told to return to their home base, that they where grounded. This came down from the CDF Regional Headquarters. The reason for this was due to CDF's contract with the company that provides the pilots. Apparently, the company contract had ended and the pilots where not being paid since no contract was in effect. According to one of the pilots, they told everyone involved that they would continue to fly for free until CDF and the contracting company could come the some agreement. Unfortunately, CDF could not let them fly due to liability issues of not having a current contract.

Why the pilots were initially sent with no contract is unclear, except that the pilots respond without question. They were aware that their original contract had ended, but don't question contract issues when called to duty, since some arrangements may have already been done without their knowledge. According to one of the AT's, if they could have kept the tankers, the fire could have been picked up at probably 100 acres. It is not known if not having the tankers caused the structures to be lost. Overall, limited resources and the high winds definitely contributed.


12/11 Sad to say in the 21st century, its all about MONEY. CDF Southern Region should get all it deserves for closing fire season when there is less than adequate rainfall. Fire season is strictly a financial decision now, nothing to do with weather and climate like it used to be. In those times a minimum of 2" of rain was necessary to close fire season. The scientific basis of that criterion notwithstanding, it prevented situations like this.

Anyone remember the Viejas fire last year. Same thing happened. So the first bit of rainfall happens and no tankers, no dozers, no crews on the weekends and lo and behold, winds and no resources to send. The air tanker debacle I believe had to do with the fact that those planes had not flown in six days and there is a maintenance issue that needs to be resolved before they can fly. The second day of the fire they were available but not needed. Kudos th the MVU firefighters for such great firefighting with limited resources.

Fireball XL5

12/11 DRC

There was an issue similar to yours in the season of 2000. A prison crew inmate was KIA and he left behind a 10 yr old girl I believe. The dept of corrections is not required to hold insurance on the inmates that fight fire. So to make a long story short, the girl was left with nothing.

Now being in the private sector myself, I know what you mean with the whole segregation and being treated differently. As far as the benefits that should be owed, I wouldnt bank on anything from the government. I would check into the company he worked for. All companies are required to have some sort of accidental death coverage. If they didnt, I would get a lawyer.

Hope it helped and sorry to hear about the loss.


12/11 People are notoriously poor at risk assessment. Reason seems to be left out ot the picture entirely. Some factors should be kept in mind.
1) San Diego (MVU is "Monte Vista Ranger Unit, a CDF Ranger Unit - for those who did not understand that from Matt's posting) is normally out of fire season by about the end of November.
2) This year has been only slightly drier than average for the date, and the southern part of the state has had an unusually low fire incidence all year.
3) Society benefits when money spent to reduce loss is the same as or lower than the anticipated loss - Key word: "anticipated". It is unfair to fault decision makers after the fact when the loss is known.
4)In all probability the decision to end fire season and reduce staffing was the right one even in retrospect. Very likely the money saved is greater than the loss that would have been prevented had the money been spent. In all probability the home would have been lost anyway, and many thousands of taxpayer dollars were saved via reduction of aircraft contracts and staffing.
5) I don't know if California's budget picture had anything to do with the decision to end fire season, but in all probability it didn't. If it did, then someone fails in risk assessment.

Most readers of this site understand some or all of this, even if only intuitively.


12/11 Incident Name: Bell CDF-MVU started @1045 hrs. on Saturday. I believe the Ranger unit had 7 type 3 engines covered. Normal for them would be 18-26 type 3 engines during fire season. MVU closed the season Dec. 3. Cleveland N.F. had five type 3 covered. CNF provided 2 engines in the initial CDF dispatch, and quickly a strike team was ordered from CNF which included a FWS engine most on a call back. The winds felt more like in the 30 MPH range. Additional resources included strike teams of type 1 and 3 from RRU, BDU, BDF, ORC, San Diego City, North County, Heartland. ANF provided engine coverage on the Cleveland N.F. Newspaper today stated controlled at 1200 acres. How quickly we all forget last January's Viejas Fire over 10,000 acres. Months of dry weather, strong Santa Ana winds, budget driven fire season closure.


12/11 The fire that USFS FEO heard the rumor about was the Portrero Fire.

A fire began about 40 miles southeast of San Diego. A heater in a home caught fire about 11 a.m. Saturday. Fire was carried outside. Fed by strong 50 mph winds, it quickly became a fast moving brush fire and burned at least 500 acres. (That's CDF - MVU jurisdiction.) The small town of Potrero near the Mexican border was partially evacuated. Two homes and some other structures burned. I heard it was up to 900 acres Sunday.

If you remember, CDF closed fire season some time ago, although knowing Santa Ana wind season was approaching. News channels in San Diego slammed them for not having enough engines staffed. Budget in CA is hurting following 9/11 and the energy crunch. Long response times (up to 2.5 hr, were there dispatch problems too?) resulted in the loss of structures. An attorney was among those who lost a structure and criticizes CDF for not being ready for the wind event it anticipated. CDF claims it's not MVU's fault. Spin: MVU upstaffed engines, 24 hr coverage in the event of a fire, things could have been much worse. Downside: CDF did not staff the entire unit, aircraft, etc.

I don't know why the air tanker got turned around and grounded after one drop at the beginning of the fire. I heard it was a contract issue -- but don't know... Contract- because the season was over already? Could it have been a safety issue? Does anyone know? Regardless, people were pissed. There has got to be some online news about the fire, it was all over the 6 news networks down here.


PS, checked some of your news finding sites on the links page, ab, and here are some links:

Hmmmmmmm, one CDF spokesperson said "3 ATs, 3 helos and about 500 firefighters were working to surround the fire". Maybe the air support problems were early on...

12/10 Mellie has sent in this summary of points from Saturday night's chat with the FWFSA president. She says thanks to the prez for answering our questions. Thanks to the prez for his excellent work on behalf of wildland firefighters. Thanks to Bear for the lovely pointsettia decorations in the chat room.
  • Q: What are the hottest issues FWFSA is dealing with?
    A: Legislation for federal wildland firefighters. We're having a hard time getting a complete buy-in for the new bill that proposes 1) portal-to-portal pay and 2) that HP (hazard pay) be included as basic pay for retirement annuity calculations. There's a new administration and following Sept 11, Congress looks at everything differently.
  • Q: Is the version of the bill already created and in Congress' hands?
    A: Yes, we (FWFSA) initially create the bill. The draft of the bill has been in the Congressionals' hands for some time. I sent in some final changes via a phone call to a staffer last week. Regarding the current bill, the portal-to-portal part of the bill is costing more than previously thought because more firefighters are working now. We expect it will cost about 86 million a year and that raises a flag to Congress. The second part of the bill, HP inclusion as basic pay for retirement annuity calcs, costs less than 2 million a year and is probably acceptable.
  • Q: What congressperson are you dealing with and what is the process?
    A: FWFSA is working with Congressman Pombo's office. He introduced and championed the last bill that eliminated the overtime pay cap. Most people who were affected by the pay cap elimination bill don't even realize that FWFSA wrote it, had it introduced, worked to let Congressionals know about it, testified before Congress and pushed until it became law. Many think the Agency did it. You can thank the members of FWFSA.
  • Q: How often do you go to Washington and what is the reception at the WO or do you even visit them?
    A: I make one to two trips per year to DC, every March for the Firefighter's Legislative Conference and periodically other times to testify, etc. The WO is quite interested in our doings. They have been in the audience when we testify to Congress, but I don't visit the WO. I have met with the ex Secretary of Interior, the FEMA director, with OPM and visited more than 100 congressional offices over the years.
  • Q: How can the average firefighter make a difference?
    A: The best thing you can do is offer your personal time. Become a member of FWFSA, get with your chapter director and see how your skills will work best for us. We're having a convention in Sacramento on Dec 15. The convention info is at the FWFSA website (link at the left top of the theysaid page). We're reviewing issues and progress, entertaining any resolutions and electing officers.
  • Q: Is it open to all?
    A: It is open to all FWFSA members.
  • Q: Is FWFSA only for R5 or is it national?
    A: It's a national organization and can include employees of BLM, BIA, NPS, FWS and USFS.
  • Q: How many subscribe to FWFSA and what ratios are from each of those agencies?
    A: I think there are about 230 members, 90% of which are USFS from R5. I say again, you can thank them for getting the first bill through that eliminated the overtime pay cap.
  • Q: Is anything being done to add new members from other regions? If not, why not?
    A: The current strategy for out-of-region recruitment, aside from word of mouth and the web page, is that I go to workshops and explain what FWFSA is. Mostly these are hot shot workshops, both regional and national.
  • Q: I sent in all my stuff and deductions are being taken out, but I haven't received anything back. Should I do anything else?
    A: Sorry for the delay on the information. We need help providing better service. At FWFSA we're all volunteers and firefighters.
  • Q: Ab asked: We've had the FWFSA link up on theysaid for about a year and the recurrent comment is the lack of response from your website. Do you have any solution to that?
    A: During fire season things are tough. Firefighters who run FWFSA are out fighting fire. We need someone to help out who is not gone so much. We will discuss that at this week's board meeting.
12/10 My 12-year-old's father was killed fighting fires in Idaho this summer. I
have spoken with the National Fallen Firefighters' Foundation about
future help with college and they said that because Doug was on contract,
they would not be able to help my son. I don't understand why there
is no help for families of contract firefighters. Is there anyone out there that
has been through this before who can explain to me why there isn't a
Foundation for Fallen Wildland firefighters who are on contract? Why
does the government treat them so different?
12/10 The reason that you can not get on any of the Dept. of Interior web sites is because the US
District Court ordered the DOI to shut down all internet services due to a lawsuit involving
the security of data involved with Indian Trust Sites. Service was supposed to be restored
last Friday, but as of Monday night it was still down. Yes, this does mean that Quickhire and
all other BLM, BIA,and other DOI branches internet sites are down. Hopefully, it will all be
cleared up soon.

On another note. I have some PDF recruitment notices for the Elko BLM Fire program that I am
going to be putting on the web in the next couple days. I will post links on "They Said" to
each notice after I upload them. The recruitment notices are for Elko Helitack and the Ruby
Mountain Hotshots, and the positions are seasonal and will be filled using Quickhire.


Danny put up a link on 12/07 to an article that explains why the sites were shut down. It's good to hear they'll likely be back up soon. Ab.

12/10 anyone have an idea when the fed sites will be back up?

I'd like to know the answer to that, too. It is possible to get some info from the FS website - especially the links page can get you to some regional sit reports, at least those that are being updated. Hey you Boise lurkers and readers, can you fill us in? Ab.

12/10 USFS FEO,

Pierce has built a M 62, cloned off of a Boise Mobile engine. It is a nearly exact copy, with a few refinements. R5 Fleet accepted Pierce as a supplier of M62s, so both BME and Pierce will handle the buildup. I saw and drove the Pierce prototype at the Regional Fire Equipment Meeting in Reno last month. Nice truck. Having two suppliers will definitely speed the MEL buildup.

NZ Capt.

12/10 To answer USFS FEO's question,

I was up at the FireTec Reno Show and got it from the Pierce Rep at the Convention Center. Pierce got the contract because they beat the price that the other guys wanted for the 2WD Model 62 and 4WD Model 63. The Model 62 was going for $172K and the FS placed an order of 55 new engines for this year, and another 50+ engines for next year, of which Pierce will be delivering the first 55 around Fire Season. He also informed me that part of the reason for the mass purchase was that there was a rapid push to remove the Model 42's from service.


12/10 'Lo all.

Thanks for the input on hand crew diff's. I wanted to relate a story about Wildland vs struct. It may not settle any debate but it does address the "should we stand by and watch" question.

One of my partners had an experience a few years ago. He was operating a tractor plow on a large fire putting in his line when he came out of the brush and smoke into a yard. The house was in the middle of the woods and except for the fact that the back porch had already caught fire, was pretty defensible. He wanted to save the house, but what to do??? Stop and use the garden hose and let the fire run??? This ranger lowered his blade and tore the porch off the house. We kid him about it now and then but really, how clever!!!!! We usually don't have scba, or bunker gear, or other equip for structure defense, but we all should have our most important tool, our wit. I hate blanket statements "We never make entry, We always do this or that". I agree with the earlier post that said we weigh the gains vs risks & make a plan based on this. Who knows what we would do when the time comes, all I hope is that I use my head and chose my course wisely.

Be safe, Be well.
Flash in Florida

12/09 Jim,

Give FEO a break. He/she does not need to go to work for some other agency. I am proud to have FEO in Forest Service. It's people like this who help the agency progress and give their employees a better work place. I would bet, that his/her crew is one of the most trained crews on the forest.

If you can't understand what we have been writing about for the past few weeks, then you will never understand. Its comments like "go work elsewhere" that get me real mad. This is the exact reason that we are losing quality people to other agencies.

What do the qualifications you mention have to do with IA anyway? Even if FEOs comments were from a second or third year seasonal, you should still respect those comments, listen to what they have to say and have a civil debate about it, instead of saying you should go work for another agency.

USFS FEO, to this R-5er, your comments and commitment to the Forest Service is shining through, keep up the good work and as you already know you're not the only one who has the same views and commitment to change and progression.

I may be missing the point from Jim, but telling a fellow employee who is raising important issues regarding IA on the interface to work for another agency gets me fired up.

12/09 Hi All
Last year there was talk of Pierce taking over some or all of the production of the Model 62 from BME, anybody heard anymore about this?

This issue of non-wildland fire is starting to turn into a yes we do, no we don't. I had no idea it was so controversial. Others feel free to continue. I'm happy to read what your thoughts are, but I've said enough. So this is the last from me (unless I think of something else :-). Please stop directing questions specifically at me. I'm starting to feel like a theysaid hog. There are others who can answer some of this and it's hard for me not to respond to a question directed at me.

So, Jim your solutions:

A. Join a Municipal FD
Starting to look into it, solves my problem as long as I keep my recreation activities off the National Forests.
B. Work for CDF
Also starting to look into it, again solves my problem but is basically sticking my head in the sand
C. Contract fire suppression to the State
Wouldn't save money. Federal law requires the same coverage and CDF costs more, but if they did this, I guess CDF would have to hire a bunch of people, hmmm see B.
D. Convert those Forests to National Parks
Ex president Clinton was working on this. It didn't go over so well. Take a drive through some of the communities near the places he designated National Monuments.

How much timber is harvested from those forests?
Not much, a little salvage and that is being reduced too.
Are those forests primarily recreation forests?
Yes, they are not allowed to do much else.

Have you ever been on a shot crew, helitack crew, or even a hand crew?
Are you qualified as a crew boss or Division Group Sup?

I don't see what it matters for this discussion but, yes, I am a crewboss and strike team trainee, and I have worked crews as well as engines, no shots or helitack. This topic primarily is related to initial attack resources (engines, patrols) so I don't get the connection.

Hey -- to get something else going, I heard CDF had a fire yesterday and grounded all their tankers over contracts while structures were lost. Anyone have any further information?

12/09 hello all !

its been sometime since i have posted on here. no one told me teenagers could make ones life so fun ! i have been trying to keep up with the comments here. i could have sworn i saw this debate about fed agencies responding to structural fires a while back.

in my humble opinion, anyone who is employed to fight wildland fire should have at least basic structural fire training. why? because during the course of a wildland fire, a structure could be involved. you may have structural engines there. but if its a life and death situation, and the structural folks just do not have the manpower to handle it, do you just say " well we are not trained? ". that is unacceptable. as for ppe, proper gear can be purchased and should be purchased for wildland engine folks. 

basic structural fire training should be done once a year. training can be accomplished by working with the career or volunteer fire departments in your area. this also fosters a good relationship with those departments and you get to know and understand what they do and the same for them. you get to know how they do things. you can also get them to understand how wildland fire fighters do things. cross training is the way of the future. just the same as for the structural fire fighters. 

where would the structural folks be if they didnt get their ems training? most emergency calls nowadays are ems related. so now most structural departments require ems training. its called progressing with the future. and this brings me to my next subject. all wildland fire fighters should have ems training. the need for this speaks for itself. most of the fed folks would be open to different types training and responsibilities. this directive has to come from above. the policy makers. sooner or later they will see the light and realize that wildland fire is more then just more then trees, brush and so on. there are too many structures being built in the wild. the interface problem is a growing problem and is spreading faster then most agencies can handle. the problems of the past should be a lesson and a reminder that we need to grow with the interface problem. lets face the problem head on and be proactive. end the whining and bitching and work together as state and fed agencies. i have said it before, if we all put our heads together we can come up with a solution to make this work. but, we need to work together !

i am not the most articulate of writers nor am i an expert on this, but the interface is a passion of mine and i feel very stong about this. i am sure i will get yelled at by some but thats why this forum is so great because there are so many people on here that do care about the wildland community. 

ab,thanks again for creating this.

BC Davis

You're welcome, BC. Ab.

12/09 USFS FEO
It seems to me the answer to your problem is;

A. Join a Municipal FD
B. Work for CDF
C. Contract fire suppression to the State
D. Convert those Forests to National Parks.

How much timber is harvested from those forests?
Are those forests primarily recreation forests?

Questions for you that may help me understand some of the things you are
writing about. See I'm an old fat guy and it takes me awhile to
comprehend the R5 whine (btw, I spent my early career on the Sequoia and
Sierra NF).

Have you ever been on a shot crew, helitack crew, or even a hand crew?
Are you qualified as a crew boss or Division Group Sup?

12/08 There's been a request for a party in firechat tonight at 2100 Pacific Time (9PM). Come on down! Ab.
12/08 I was just responding to the earlier post that made it sound so simple, "stay within agency policy and you will be fine", because I don't believe you will. At the very least, the morality of standing by will follow you until you die.

It might look paranoid to you, but my point was that in our current situation there is no acceptable choice. I don't think losing one of your crew is acceptable, but to the public "firefighters" standing around while people died would be more unacceptable. While an exterior attack is not necessarily the most efficient method of suppressing a structure fire, it is better than nothing and it is safer for the crew. However it is not an option if the building is occupied because you will very likely speed the process of killing those inside and if they have not exited the building when you get there they probably can't do so alone. Again we are left with two choices: standby and protect the trees or make an interior attack. And basically we are left with two options 1). follow agency policy and be partially responsible for the death of a member of the public and the repercussions of that or 2). break agency policy possibly saving a life, but knowing that any injury or death of your crew will be blamed on you since it goes against agency policy.

I'm just pointing out that the agency policy needs to be reviewed to bring it into the present. We don't just fight "forest fires" anymore. We are putting policy decisions on people who's jobs should only require the proper application of tactics -- not politics and morality -- while those at the top protect themselves behind an outdated policy. It also prevents proper support to those on the ground.

I do know some forests are dealing with this situation more openly than others. The four southern forests taking a lead in this and the Model 62's can provide initial attack of structures at least enough to support a rescue. 

I know where I am we get dispatched for specific things (medical aid, vehicle fire etc) rather than the euphemistic "request for aid" described by others. So I guess we are ahead of them but that is still a forest by forest and district by district thing. We are a National organization and it seems like those at the top don't know what we "really" do.

So to sum up what I meant: 
NO, placing your crew at risk is not acceptable to me, but neither is asking me to stand around while people die. So until the "responsible" jurisdictions start putting fire stations on the forest, I don't see any other choice than for the federal agencies to accept additional duties.


12/08 The Jobs  Page and the Wildland Firefighter Job Series 0462 and 0455 have been updated. Ab.
12/08 The question was "why go inside a structure fire when it can be attacked
from the outside?". Reword it to ask why a wildland firefighter attacks a
hot section of line instead of attacking from the outside (indirect). Use
the KISS principle when looking at fire and use the same mental process on
both so you don't get too confused. After 33 years, not always repeating
the same year again, I like to keep it simple.

Resources and capabilities, personal and organizational, determine how you
handle and event. I once had a BC from the City of San Francisco ask me how
wildland firefighters could even deal with running major fires. I asked him
how he dealt with major high rise fires. The principles are the same, you
hold the fire to the least size that you can based on resources, capabilities, 
and safe operating practices.

Back to the question. Houses have been saved with small amounts of water
applied from the exterior. Houses have been lost with lots of water applied
from the inside. When the attacking power isn't enough to overcome the power
of the fire you have to move on to the next option. So, if you have the
resources to make an interior attack (water supply and flow rate, PPE,
training, personal expertise) and the fire is at a stage that allows you to
make an interior attack in order to protect life or property then it can be
the most efficient attack to make. An exterior attack, or an interior from
the wrong end of the structure, blows fire through the uninvolved area
increasing damage (like a poorly planned burnout?). Would you run into a
wildland blow-up area? No, and you shouldn't run into a fully involved
structure. You pick the attack based on risk v. gain. Fire is fire whether
it is in a box (house, woodstove) or out of the box (wildland, burnpile).
Use the same process for both: exposure threat, life safety, property
conservation, confine, contain, control, extinguish, and overhaul (mop-up)
and you too can astound others with your skill!

A firefighter is a firefighter, only laws, policy, and cultural attitudes
stop us from agreeing that we're all the same. Time to go to "my" national
forest and cut the christmas tree for this red trucker household. Bailey's
Irish Cream in my cocoa sounds like a better cookie chaser.

Happy holidays too all of you.

12/08 A recent message on the board here posed several questions regarding burning building entry and at the same time, offered us their own paranoid conclusions

One part of the message stated, “if someone on the crew gets killed. . . you are actually probably better off”. The reason you might be better off, the writer continues to say is that, “When the media is screaming. . . do you think you will be protected”, and went on to ask, “do you think your agency will stand behind you”?

This same posting warned others that “When the congressional hearings begin”, as if the standard of conforming to agency policy is unwarranted. Well. . .I certainly had to read the message a few times try and understand what the sender was really saying.

My hammered response is that I would rather face a Congressional Committee of any kind, any time, anywhere, and proudly provide them a “we don’t do that” statement than face the family of any firefighter who died when I was responsible for directing suppression activities beyond my authority and responsibilities. Did you really mean to say these things?

I like to think that if I follow my agency policies and procedures I will be personally protected from legal suites against the government. However, I also understand and accept that I am not immune to tort claims against myself for any activities I partake in that may be within or outside my agency policies. This awareness has led some employees to subscribe to personal insurance to protect them from such malicious legalities.

When climbing the tallest mountain and times are tough. . .stop, sit down, enjoy the view!

Haw, haw!
12/07 Ab and All,

I am so happy that I provided a service to the board in getting a few people all fired up, it is getting cold out and that should help with the heating bills. We need a few more lurkers to step up and speak their mind. Let me think for a while and maybe I can come up with another "thought provoking post" that will irritate a few people enough to come out of the shadows.

NorCalTom, you restated what I was thinking in a much more kinder and gentler way, thanks. Have you ever thought of running for office? 

Lots of comments about running into burning buildings. My question is why do the structure guys do that if no one is inside? At our state structure fire academy, the instructors are asking what is wrong with an exterior attack? Can the same suppression action be accomplished by breaking a window and sticking a hose inside? What put the firefighter at the least amount of risk? Is it an iron clad rule that all burning structures must be entered that are fully involved? Help me out here.

Must go, it is time for coco and cookies.


And beddie bye? Ab.

12/07 USFS FEO,

I have agreed with alot of things you have said during this huge debate. But saying that R-5 does not have the equipment to support an entrance of a structure fire is not true, especially on my forest. 

Our new model 62's could easily supply a hoselay to do an interior attack if needed. So would the 1 3/4 hose that we carry on all of engines. The only thing you would have to worry about is, do you have the water supply to support your operation.

Yes I know you said some of the Districts have the equipment, and I am just stating that my Forest has the equipment and some training that we get from the local fire departments.

I think if we take all this energy and point in the right direction, which is to your local Rep. and congress, then maybe we could get the changes we are all looking for. I have read it in here before, If we have a strong showing then we can get things done, instead of waiting for the next Cerro Grande Fire to happen for people to realize what we are asking for.

Keep up the great research, you have come up with some excellent statistics.

12/07 Been wandering through the archives.... someone was looking for a pump to replace a Mark 3.

If you're still looking for a good pump to replace the Mark 3, you might look at the Hale Fyrpak, I've seen several of these in use and plan to get one when possible. If I recall they weigh 35 or so pounds compared to 58(?) for the Mark 3 and can pump nearly as well as the Mark 3 -- 70gpm and 220psi max vs 85gpm and 350max on paper. (Personally, I think it does better in reality.) Ghe only thing you might want to consider is elevation, the Hale is a single stage pump not a 4 stage like the Mark 3 but from what I've seen for most situations it performs just fine. It is also much smaller, less tempormental and comes with a real pack frame if you need to hike it in. However, it is deafening. While you should always wear earplugs with a portable pump, the Hale will make you pay right now if you don't. If I recall the price is $2300 not the $3500 or so of the Mark 3.

12/07 AB, Found this item while lurking about in the news.

Interior Dept Blacks Out Websites by Court Order This could be a difficult situation if it happened during fire season...


Mellie, I think this provides the answer to your question about the NIFC site. Ab.

12/07 Anyone know what's wrong with the NIFC site? It's been down for quite a while now.


12/07 Update on Krs Evans the Plumas Hotshot who was injured by a falling tree in Tennessee the end of October:

Krs was moved Friday evening 11/30 to the Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital for treatment. He will be there for at least 6 weeks. I talked with his mom last week, and he is committed to maintaining a good attitude and do what he needs to get healthy.
The address is:

Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital
2050 Versailles Road
Lexington, KY 40504
Attn: Krs Evans - Patient

Just a reminder, you can check on his condition and get updates on www.southernregion.fs.fed.us/boone/2001fire/01krsinfo.php  
This may end now that he is in the Rehab center. (It was still working today. Ab)

He is also now connected and able to read e-mail and visit his web site. You can contact him directly . His e-mail is - 
If you're inclined, he has a web site you're welcome to visit. His web site is: www.krstofer.org

Donations can still be sent to:
Krstofer Evans Fund
c/o Placer Sierra Bank
P.O. Box 780
Quincy, CA.95971

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation, a private non-profit corporation, has also been of assistance to the Evan's. Pins to honor fallen wildland firefighters, or bricks at the Wildland Firefighter National Monument. are also available through them. There web site can be visited at: www.wffoundation.com

Keep up your support, Krs has a tall mountain to climb.

Krs has written an account of the accident, his injuries, treatment and what he's working on now in his page "Hotshot Down" on his website. His great attitude shines through and can inspire us all. This Ab says, "You GO, Guy!"

12/07 Hello All,

Some clarification from some higher up places. I have been doing a little research:

I think most posters are missing the boat on "structure protection" and whether or not the USDA Forest Service and other federal land management employees are allowed to "enter" a burning structure (not their own home). Policy indeed says that FS firefighters are NOT allowed to enter a burning building. This doesn't mean entering a structure doesn't happen, but that when it does happen, the supervisor is outside their zone of authority. Certainly won't stop supervisors or FS employees from saving lives though.

We DO provide tons of structure protection. The theoretical reasons are twofold: 1) to protect interface communities and 2) to prevent the structures from burning and further endangering the "forest". Policy says that we aren't fighting structure fires, per se. On the one hand, we're protecting people themselves on the interface from fire coming at them from the forest. On the other hand, we're protecting the forest from a fire that began in a structure.

Provision of SCBAs and turnouts seem to cloud the issue. However, they are not provided to aid entry into a structure, merely to protect firefighters from breathing toxic smoke when in proximity of a structure fire, vehicle fire, or toxic dump fire.

Technically, those on our forests do NOT respond to medical aid requests. However we DO respond to "requests for assistance" to other agencies responding to medical aids. Our crews do NOT provide medical treatment to victims, but we may be first on scene and WILL attempt to save lives when necessary.

The only federal wildland firefighting agency that has a policy and training to engage in structural firefighting is the National Park Service and for them it is only for structures in certain designated areas, such as structures at Yellowstone or the National Monuments around Washington DC, etc. The Department of Defense also has structural firefighting units. This means that according to policy, the BLM, the FWS, the BIA, etc technically are not supposed to enter a burning building either.

Now my opinion: Every wildland firefighter I know would try to save a life, regardless of agency "policy". And, public needs on the interface have grown. More wildland firefighters in some dense interface areas are being called on to save a life in non-traditional ways that go against policy. Some forests rely on semantics to get around it. For example, dispatches for "assistance" are tacitly understood by those who are sure to be first responders to really be dispatches for "medical aids".  But, for example as others have said, if something goes wrong and firefighters die entering a structure, the investigating team will lay the blame on the firefighters and their supervisor as clearly as if one of the 10 Fire Commands had been violated in a wildland burnover incident. Because of lack of structural training, it seems that at very least they would find a violation of "Fight fire aggressively, but provide for safety first."

As Ab said some time back, non-Fed firefighters and the Public do not realize that technically Forest Service (and BLM, FWS, BIA) firefighters must follow this policy. People see an engine and they think "Thank god, help has arrived." And in fact, help has arrived. Firefighters are "helpers".

So, de facto, the policy as it is carried out has changed, especially in some areas of the US like California. The WO should try to understand what is really needed and what services are being done and then work to bring fed policy, training, equipment, salary, and job series title in line with reality.


Thanks for the research, NorCalTom. FYI "de facto" means "in fact" or "in reality". Ab.

12/07 Pardon me for editing Beigefoot's recent comment regarding structural firefighting a tad in my response. His/her post actually helped put the problem in very good perspective.

What if (here's the obligatory hypothetical situation) you and your crew make entry on a structure fire caused by a passing fire front.

The Q: "Do you as the engine foreman have the training and experience to judge how long you have before the roof collapses? or recognize the signs of flashover or backdraft? or the hundred other things that the average burning building will do to try to kill you?"
A: Maybe, depends on the individual.
If relying strictly on agency provided training, No.

Q: "Does you agency train you to a level that you are prepared to handle the job?"
A: No.

Q: "Do they equip you properly to do the job safely?"
A: Marginally in R5, elsewhere no, unless some other region has added SCBA to the inventory.

So far your points are valid and I agree, but lets just tweak this a little bit to understand the problem.

R5 policy and common sense say that with the current state of affairs, entry of a burning structure will only be made to protect life, so lets take this hypothetical situation and turn it around just a tad.

Scenario: Your crew arrives on the scene of a burning building. You and some of the crew happen to have some structure training (volunteers or seeking employment with a structure department), you have SCBAs and structure coats, there are living people in that building, the "local" department is 45 minutes away.

Say you do not make an effort to enter that building and rescue those people and they die while you stand by or make an ineffective exterior attack (and possibly contribute to the problem by pushing the fire around) because structure fire is not in your agency's policies. When the S*** hits the fan do you think your agency will stand behind you? When the media is screaming about how "government firefighters" (how fast they will drop the Forestry tech title) failed to act resulting in deaths, do you think you will be protected? When the congressional hearings begin just how long do you think you will still have a job? Sure agency policy was nominally against it, but the media will play up the fact that some of the crew had fire training, and they had a fire engine and air packs (or at least nomex clothing and helmets). The media and the public don't see a difference. Can you picture an agency rep explaining how "we don't do that"?

On the other hand as you mentioned, if someone on the crew gets killed - see the situation Beigefoot outlined regarding blame from the agency. Unfortunately you are actually probably better off if you lose one of your crew: the public is more accustomed to hearing that firefighters die and it would probably get less attention than if they were standing by while the building burned - acceptable losses and all that.

That really sums up the problem. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

As R6FF and I mentioned earlier, the NPS now provides some structure training and I was surprised to see they are also addressing this by putting "structure" responsibilities in the PD of 462's, as it currently stands I can't even pay to send somebody to an EMT refresher class. I can't speak for those of you in the other regions but in R5, it is really just a matter of the region providing some better training, better standards, (some forests carry only 3 SCBA, some 4 and others 5, some issue full structure gear some only coats). Finally deleting "we don't do that" from their vocabulary would be a good start on taking some of the liability issue off the supervisors, let them worry about using appropriate tactics and when to get out. Fry them when they truly make a bad decision not give them a choice between 2 evils.


12/07 Ab,

This a great debate!! I love reading about the "all-risk" problems. And because its great fun reading about it, I thought I would add my 2 cents....er...well maybe 1 cent (it is Christmas, ya know...). It has been my understanding since I started in the fire service about....a long time ago...that USFS, BLM, NPS had a standing policy about not accepting the idea of "all-risk". (If I am wrong, please accept my humble apologies) MY view is that if you do not have the training to do these incidents, and your agencies policies are to let the city-county-state agencies handle them, don't accept the liability.

What if (here's the obligatory hypothetical situation.) you and your crew make entry on a structure fire caused by a passing fire front. Do you as the engine foreman have the training and experience to judge how long you have before the roof collapses? or recognize the signs of flashover or backdraft? or the hundred other things that the average burning building will do to try to kill you? Now, I am not knocking or casting dispersions against the character or abilities of the average engine slug, because I am one. Does you agency train you to a level that you are prepared to handle the job? Do they equip you properly to do the job safely? And if, god forbid, if something goes terribly wrong, will your agency stand up for you and the decisions that you make?

Now, onto my soapbox....Firefighting, in my view, is a simple thing, as long as you remember the golden rule. EVERYONE GOES HOME AT THE END OF THE SHIFT-CALL-INCIDENT SAFE, ALIVE AND HAPPY. I cannot stress this enough. I don't care if you came from "all-risk" department before you went to work for your agency, you have to live within the policies and training of your specific agencies. If you don't, and something does go wrong, I'm sure in our litigation-happy society, someone will brutally drive this point home to you. And it will probably happen after your agency cuts you loose to the lions.

Well, after that nasty trip to my soapbox, I believe its time for me to step down and partake of a wee bit o' guiness. Yelling and shaking my fist at the heavens leaves me a bit parched......

On a happier note, in this time of yuletide spirit, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas!!!

The Beigefoot........

12/07 AC, Couldn't have said it better myself.... I guess it back the valley of the shadows of lukers until someone gets me all fired up again! (Thanks WP!) Just not enough time to follow everyday. Stay safe all, and have a very happy holiday if I don't post before then.
County Rover
12/07 Just to clarify for some of you who seem to think you know everything.
When I worked for the NPS in 95 we were offered and took a structure
firefighter course. Now my question is if they offered the course why
would they not want or expect us to use it. They do expect us to and we
did. One of the structures on the park caught fire we gained access and
did a search not knowing if the cabin was occupied or not. Being 1 1/2 hr
from the nearest county (vol) department wouldn't you think it be a good
idea for all ( FS NPS BLM ) to start providing this training to everyone
involved in fire. I am trying to find out why some of you think this is
so wrong.

12/07 hello 

i am working on a proposal for national geographic on wildfire. One of the topics is the differences and/or similarities between fighting fires in the United States and fighting fire abroad. can you steer me in the right direction to try and find some information on this? thank you very much. 


Readers, If you have any info (and I know some of you do), I'll put you in touch with Lori. Ab.

12/07 Ab,

I hear so much of folks saying whether its the FS respsonsiblity to protect structures or whether we actually do offer protection, I present the following points:

So far this year, as a FOREST SERVICE EMPLOYEE, I have protected structures in Kentucky, Washington, Nevada, and California. Last year, I was on interface fires EVERY month of the year. Our strategies and tactics have been to provide this protection since these were fires leaving National Forest Land and spreading on to private or State protected land. To me that means that Regions 4, 5, and 8 are violating FS policy as protecting private lands. Its time to realize that Regions 1 through INFINITY experience the same problems. Interface Areas means there is no more old style Forest Service. Time for those policies to change and folks to realize that we have gone from resources oriented (multiple use) to public (park) oriented operations. I challenge a Forest to say they are a majority "Multiple Use/Multiple Yield Forest" versus a recreation Forest. I believe there is little funding nowadays for a nonrecreation Forest. Just my opinion.

//Old School Forest Service Converted//

12/07 With all the other fun I missed the earlier comment about the type 1 crews,

The forest I'm on got two of these crews this year. From what I saw of them and the comments I've heard from others both were very good particularly when you consider that this was their first year and they had to get organized. Both drew heavily from the hotshots for overhead and fuels crews for crewpersons, both met the standards for type 1 but were rated type 2 since they didn't meet the standards in the IHC guide. I'm not really into crews so I'm not very familiar with that particular brand of politics. The only downside was they decimated the forest fuels crews while trying to get good people. The Hotshots mostly lost a few mid level people to them but the fuels crews lost most of their experienced crewpersons and overhead. While many of us were busy filling and refilling openings, I really don't think this was a good year to be running a fuels crew unless you enjoy the hiring process, it seemed like those guys were hiring completely new crews most of the summer.

Ok, I'll admit 20 seasons is a bit excessive but if you were like me and got a demo in the mid 90's. Many people hired in the late 80's and early 90's rag a lot about all the seasons they worked as a temp, like that is all that matters. Lets just say its one of my buttons - experience is important but having the ability to learn from it counts just as much. Being willing to move for an entry job or promotion makes a big difference too: it was some of the best advice I ever got. I can't offer much sympathy for somebody who insists on one specific job at one specific location. As one of my co-workers says be gumby. GS4 drivers and model 60's, they were a little before my time, but those diapers you picked up on pamper patrols were not mine.


12/07 Hi Abs'

On Sat Dec. 8, 2001, the Pelco Corp. in Clovis Calif. (makers of security cameras and a "face recognition" airport security software program installed at Fresno /Yosemite Airport) will be dedicating a memorial devoted to Sept. 11. The CEO of the company, David Mc Donald has built a beautiful monument to the fallen firefighters, police, Port Authority officers ,EMS folks and the passengers and crew of flight 93. The memorial has been designed with a lawn, flower garden and flag pole area, but I understand the center piece is a large granite rock with a brass plaque bearing the names of these heroes. Mr. McDonald is flying 1100 or so firefighters and cops and their families to the dedication. The public is invited to the ceremony, folks are advised to begin arriving about noon to the plant, the proceedings start at 1300hrs. I think it would be a grand gesture if any USFS, BLM, or NPS firefighters living in the area attend as a show of support to our brothers and sisters from New York. I have heard CDF, Fresno County Fire, Fresno City Fire, Clovis Fire and the Air Guard Fire Dept will have a roll in the proceedings. I know this info is on very short notice, but I think it would be worth attending.

Captain Emmett

12/06 Ab, here's the real scoop on the SoCal Special Salary rate for your readers: (They'll have to read carefully and slowly to understand the whole process... but they asked.)

In 1989, the USDA and the Forest Service applied for a special salary rate with the OPM for the four Southern California forests. It was approved and implemented for pay period #1 in 1990. It included an increased salary for employees of the Angeles, Los Padres, San Bernardino, and Cleveland Forests who served in the 0462 series. A couple of years later, the USDI BLM changed their 0455 series employees to 0462 series employees and requested that they be included in the special salary rate. They were approved. The special salary rate was requested to curb retention and recruitment problems encountered from cooperating agencies (Ie- CDF, LA County Fire, local departments) and local fast food establishments that offered competitive salaries and benefits.

In 1994, locality payments were approved for many areas in California. Currently the locality pay for the LA California area is 14.37%. As the years have gone by, the special salary rate request was never renewed or updated and the locality pay has approached and even surpassed the special salary rate. Currently, some employees are paid at the special salary rate table or at the locality table. Employees are paid at whichever table is the higher rate.

Recently, a group was set up to review the previous special salary rate and update it to 2001/2002 standards. A review was held looking at losses of employees to other agencies and to other fields as well as cooperating agencies salaries. It was determined that USFS firefighters in SoCal were being paid between 45% to 120% less than their counterparts in other agencies at the GS-3 to GS-12 level (Firefighter to Deputy Chief Level or Forestry Tech. to Forest Deputy FMO Level for those of you outside R-5.). The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has significantly affected the USFS organization in R-5 and has currently opened up their recruitment to Forest Service employees. A local national fast food chain pays employees the same as we pay entry level firefighters and offers them benefits after six months of employment. We not only compete against other fire agencies, but against fast food restaurants, supermarkets, auto supply stores, and general markets.

The request for approval was submitted to the USFS Washington Office and it was approved. It was then certified by the US Department of Agriculture and submitted to OPM for action. It currently sits in OPM for approval.

How it works.... The request was for a 30% increase in the FY2002 base GS scale for 0462 employees in the SoCal Forests. What that means (since we already get about a 14 to 15 percent special salary rate or locality adjustment) is that most employees would get about a 14 to 16 percent increase, plus yearly base GS scale COLA increases. This is where everyone gets confused with the 30% versus 15% raise.

Its only a start. In 1990, the initial special salary rate was effective in reducing the number of lost employees. By 1994, the effect of retention was totally lost. Since 1994, the Forest Service has spent millions of dollars on retention, recruitment, and training of new employees. Hopefully this will solve those same problems for a few more years.

Hope that answers the questions.

**SoCal Captain**

12/06 AC,

The comment was a cheep shot at you structure guys, I am guilty! I work with a lot of structure folks and have to take any shots I can -- when I can, it is kinda like self-defense. Unless I have just made a donut run and then they are all really really nice.


12/06 To all,

I guess this issue must have struck one of the big nerves in my body and after rereading my post I didn’t really explain what I meant very well and sounded kind of harsh. I guess I just wanted to vent and wasn’t thinking clearly. I’m not the best at putting down on paper what I’m thinking in my head.

The Government agencies don’t owe you a thing. I will attempt to clarify. What I was trying to say is that the job doesn’t automatically turn into a permanent position sometime down the road. Use the job to gain experience and as a stepping stone to try and get a better paying job within the fire profession at a variety of different agencies. I guess I didn’t like the feeling of the agency coming in and telling me one day that I didn’t have job anymore because of funding when I still had bills to pay. So why should I feel obligated to try and stay with them? Also, I’m glad to here that there are still some PFT employees that actually care about their temps and think they should be treated fairly because that doesn’t happen everywhere.

Next clarification, my GS-7 position was funded by a variety of programs, which included fire. Thus, duties weren’t strictly fire but due to the shortage of available firefighters I was asked to do an extensive amount of fire (that were within my qualifications) since I already had my basic firefighter training from when I was a volunteer before taking the position. And while doing this I never worked beyond my qualifications. Even though I didn’t like the other parts of my job I stuck with it because I loved to do wildland fire. I guess I thought it would be easier to get on PFT this way and work my way into a full time fire profession. But it didn’t work out so I tried a different road.

Third clarification, I’m not opposed to change but when it comes to “all risk” agency where is the line drawn, where does the funding come from? Currently, they’re are a lot of programs that are having trouble getting funds. Is fire even going to be funded at 100% MEL this year? If the forest is going to assist then they should be getting compensated for their efforts, meaning dollars from the jurisdiction that they are covering. It sounds like the forest should be working a little harder in obtaining these funds so they can provide the needed training and equipment.

Lastly, maybe the watch out, structure comment was a little harsh but I was told not to provide assistance beyond my capabilities or training because if I did and something went wrong I wouldn’t be covered by my agency. Now that is a scary thought! This doesn’t mean I don’t want to help people in time of an emergency but I just don’t want to make that fatal mistake due to the lack of knowledge. I would rather provide assistance with in my abilities and wait for assistance.

In conclusion, I think this is a great forum with a lot of different opinions and great ideas. Hopefully, when it comes down to doing the job we love, we can put our opinions aside and work as a team and cover each other’s back. That is what I miss about working on a wildland fire crew during the summer, the since of team and teamwork that is used in the job.

My apologies for rambling on for so long. Back to the lurking fence I go.

Ex-temp employee

Please don't go back to lurking if you find something more to join in on. That's what makes the forum go round. Ab.

12/06 Country Rover- thanks for the back-up.

We got into a discussion at work about the structure protection in national
forests- it ended with "do the best you can". I am wondering if there are
FS/NPS firefighters in the national forests/national parks with structure
training and equipment? and when there isn't is there a structure department
within a decent response time?

in the end lets all remember that we are on the same side, regardless of

stay safe,
12/06 Ex-temp,

While I am glad you stopped lurking and shared your thoughts I disagree.

First, the govt. like any other employer, does owe their temps several things. An accurate job description would be one thing. I have yet to meet a first season temp that really knew what he was signing up for. A "living wage" might be another. Adequate training and supervision to do their job safely, coverage for injuries and long term health effects due to the job, the best personal protection gear available, enough rest to allow clear thought,...I could go on. Just because you fill a temporary position doesn't relieve any employer from the moral obligation to treat you "fairly". In reality temps having no union have no recourse no matter how unfairly they might be treated. That fact does no one any good...including the "govt.".

And while I might agree that the FS should not be an all risk agency the fact remains that it is and is becoming more so every year. Can't turn back that clock.

I also want to remind everyone as Christmas approaches that there is a link under "books" on wildlandfire.com that goes to Amazon.com. and for which a small percentage of purchases ( I don't know how much) helps to support this forum when you access it through that link. If you are looking for last minute presents or just hate the whole "Christmas at the mall" scene like I do this ain't a bad way to do your shopping and help the abs pay for this site at the same time. Lot's more than books and I just got free shipping to boot.

Nuff said,

Thanks Fireronin for the plug for our association with Amazon. Let me put a link here so everyone will know what it looks like.
This is it:
           In Association with Amazon.com           Purchases made after entering through this link get credited to wildlandfire.com and the small "commission" on each order helps defray costs of this forum. So please don't bookmark Amazon on your computer, but come back to the books page and enter through our site whenever you want to buy something from them. FYI, entering through any of the book jackets or links on the books and book review pages provides the same service.

12/06 First off, I am not going to a long spiel on my qualifications -suffice it to say I dont live at desk or at the butt end of a hose lay. Been there done that.

Second, no one here ever said you should have to have 20 seasons to be a PFT or a PSE, only that 4 seasons is a little light to be expecting 12 month a year employment.

Third, I worked in South Zone R-5 at the start of my career (not a job). I decided to leave after awhile when I got tired of being sent with the Model 60 and shiny hardhats to pickup the dirty pampers that the slobs left in the creek, and responding to TC's in the canyon because that is where the drunk drivers decided to crash their rigs and hurt themselves (and others) several times a month.

Fourth, I have only respect for anybody who wants to work on an urban forest such as the 4 Southern Forests or the Mt. Hood, for that matter. But there are a lot of us who like living in "Outer Mongolia" where we can breath clean air, drink the water, and raise our kids where they don't have to worry about getting capped in a driveby. And we are just as skilled at doing our jobs as anybody in any color truck.

Fifth, the pay issue will always be there and we will never get paid enough for what we do, because there is not enough money in the world. However, you have to admit that it is getting better (remember when South Zone Engine Drivers were GS-4's?) Probably not cause you were in diapers.

Sixth, Don't give up, ever. It don't matter if I train 1000 firefighters to be my boss, or go to another agency because the money is better. As long as they stay in the fire service I figure we got what we needed.

God Bless all you Dragon Slayers out there.

12/06 Hello Everyone,

I am not sure I want to jump into this, but I can't resist. I started my career in the USFS (R-5) about twenty five years ago. I read this site regularly. I now work for a Municipal type Fire District (all-risk) that has large wildland/interface areas in California. My district sent me to Missoula for the Safety Seminar last month which was most surprising.

The attitude of the Federal Wildland Firefighters that were so vehemently opposed to any kind of structural protection. Almost an attitude of how dare these people be where I have to deal with this issue in my Forest. I have never fought fire outside California but I am a Strike Team Leader and go into the forests, many times a year through our state OES requests. I don't recall any hesitation by fire forces on any these fires that I was on to commit to this action.

When I worked for the USFS as an engine slug I remember protecting structures on dozens of fires. Now my questions. Has there been a change in attitude when it comes to this tactic? Maybe this attitude comes from regions outside R-5? Are the people that express such opinions so far removed from the taxpayer that they forget who are paying their salaries? I am not advocating risking lives for property. I am wondering if training is being offered on how to recognize a structure that can be safely protected?

I do want to say that I learned a great deal at the Safety Seminar. I wish it would have been better advertised to my Local Government colleagues. I think there was about a dozen of us out of the 400 participants. I think the more we rub shoulders with "Strictly" Wildland Firefighters the more understanding we would have of each others worlds.

Thanks for letting me keep in touch with my roots,

12/06 Hello all, been lurking for quite some time, but WP got me real fired up.
What do you mean where NOTHING BELONGS TO YOU? I'm really glad I don't live
on your forest. At least in R-3, I KNOW its not "policy" to run into a burning
building from a FS perspective. You're not trained to and don't have the
proper equipment. Understandable. A question coming from a structure guy who
also is an EMT, HAZ-MAT (ect., ect) and an ENGB/CREWB.... What is wrong with
running into a burning building? You can't tell me if you know, you just
MIGHT be able to save someone else's property you won't even give it a shot???

Where AC asked, "what's wrong with running into a burning building?
Doesn't everyone do it?" He/she is right on the money. I feel, if you can make
entry safely and within reason you are OBLIGATED to. Even though I may have
not had the proper PPE, I have done it (and almost paid for it) and would do
it again. Why did you sign up for this job; I thought the role of a
"Firefighter" was to protect and save the lives and property of others. Our
dept. has a policy which I think you should consider... "Risk a lot to save
what is living" "Risk some to save what is salvageable" "Risk nothing for
what is already lost".

Also, in regards to the " Sometimes for those of us from other places you
do seem like a bunch of whiners, you tend to forget you get a bigger piece of
the budget pie than a lot of other regions and still want more while I have a problem
buying a new shovel" comment. To me YOU sound like the whiner! I don't recall
wanting to be a "Firefighter" to become a Millionaire. Most, no acutully ALL of my
Wildland PPE and equip. comes out of my pocket (and what I can scavange from
the Govt.), because I chose the role of being a "Wildland Specialist". It was
one of the best moves I ever made! Ya know why? I love the line of work. I
haven't got caught up in all of the political BS, and the ridiculous nit-
picking which I see go on every season. The sad part is it only seems to get
worse. Yes, I do get paid (quite well) and I do have a year around job. But
you know what? To me that is a perk to this job, which I EARNED. I would, and
many others do, this job VOLUNETEERLY. For the love of this line of work.
It's not all gold, glory, and hot trophy girls to meet you in base camp.

If you were on the Big Bar (Mellie's Comment) getting your ass handed to
you like the rest of us, I would also gladly given you a shovel. Or a pulaski,
drip torch, or a seat on my engine! I WILL NOT start baggin' on the "new
guys" because I'm not an Ole Fart myself, but I have been around the block
once, twice, or six times and you remind me of when I was new. All I can say
is, its not all about you, and this job was a CHOICE its not always an easy
one. And ALWAYS remember, if you're not happy with your position, no matter
on what forest or city you live in... There is ALWAYS someone else who would
be thrilled to have you job and would be willing to take it........

County Rover
12/05 First of all,
I am a 26/0 permanent employee, so my complaints about how seasonals are treated comes from my concern for my employees and where the agency is headed, I have my PFT so that matters little to me personally. I have seen many temps abused and I don't like it. I have time invested so I think I am entitled to speak my mind on that topic, if that makes me a whiner, so be it. As far as salaries go, yes I knew the pay when I came on board, I'd like to see them improved and I am doing what I can to do to get to that by joining organizations like the FWFSA, paying attention to political issues, voting and looking for any other means that may help in that regard. If you read my last post I think it is pretty clear how much loyalty the government has had for us.

Next, thanks Dana, well said, I was about to stick my head in the sand and start humming loudly.

Third ex temp
How did you get a GS7 Fire position if you were only a FFT2? I'm guessing you were either an ologist militia or somebody was playing pretty fast and loose with the NWCG quals. I'm a GS 7 and supervise FFT1's.

You said
"So I'm the person that is setting in the lawn chair next to you. Because as it was mentioned early, computer people supposedly make a lot of money."

I don't know. Do you whip out a lawn chair and cooler when you are on a fire? If so then yes I am, if not then good for you. See you at the bottom of the hoselay (I'm an FEO thats where we live). I didn't invent the stereotype of the red or yellow engine surrounded by lounging firefighters, they did that all by themselves. This is not to say all municipal firefighters do this, but it happens. If you think computer people don't make a lot of money, thats news to me - maybe not Movie star or Bill Gates money but I have several friends in the computer industry and they all do much better than I do financially.

and you said
"Also, the Forest Service is not and should not be an "all risk" agency. Local governments have Structure Departments, Medical Services, and SAR teams for a reason, because they are trained and have the tools to do the job properly just like wildland firefighters have the training to battle wildland fires."

Call it what you like, I gave you my stats, but I can tell you 57% of my runs were not fantasies created by some secret desire to be a structure guy. Just out of morbid curiosity, I checked some of my past duty stations logs, they ran from a low of 20% non-wildland in R3 to a high of 73% in North zone. This idea of local departments is a recurring theme, exactly where is the "local" fire department 60+ miles inside the Forest boundary? I'm thinking they drive green trucks.Anyway thats what the public thinks. Hmmm, odd these locals also do wildland. Am I to believe there is something about wildland that prevents us from learning a little something about what they do?

and you said
"You stated that "The FS may not be all risk everywhere but R5 most certainly is, the problem is getting quality training and equipment for the missions being placed on us.". I certainly hope you are not performing these missions without proper training and equipment! Because if you are, that spells out a "watch out situation" to me."

I'm not some gung ho idiot jumping calls. All of these "non-wildland" calls were legitimate requests for aid and came through my dispatch. As far as performing without the proper training and equipment, lets put it this way, the Forest Service has not provided the training (I had that when I got here) and the equipment is often barely adequate to do the job and again often acquired from sources other than the Forest Service. I'm not advocating green Type 1 engines and ladder trucks but if it was admitted that we answer these all risk calls then maybe we could do it right.
... and finally you said
"If you want to do all that other stuff try and get on a structure department."

You're what about the 5th person to say that? I was on a structure department before I came to the Forest Service. Its not a matter of wanting to or not wanting to, it is becoming part of our job. If I am going to do it I'd prefer to do it well and that takes recognition, training and funding. I think we already do an amazing job of this despite the lack of support. I hope I live to see what we can do if this area gets the support it should.

4th to Firegoy, I like your thinking. It was somebody like you that helped me get my Demo, despite not having 20 seasons.

Finally, I have been really surprised at all the comments resisting improvement of the agency, I know I could work my seasonals from March to November - by the time you include pre-season training and opening stations to those late season fires, thats 9 months by my math. Do you all have some particular reason that you think temps are such a great system or is it just thats how it was when you got in? Personally I'd like to see us get back to that situation "the original ab" described a cert list 4,000 strong for one opening. When I went for an AFEO a few years ago there were less than 20 people on that cert for 6 openings in nice stations with trees. I don't think we are going to see that change as long as we're competing with flipping burgers (actually some of the burger places offer better benefits minus the great scenery). As far as offering 26/0, if the unemployment costs (80%) from the Angeles FMO are right, paying people to sit around playing cards doesn't seem like that much to pay - if it helps retain good people. Besides how many of us don't have a bunch of leave to use in the winter, sure can't use it during fire season. Yes, now is the best time in a long time for people to get in but it would be a shame to see us continue the trend of being everybody else's training ground.

Finally, Finally, sorry about the mix up, WP. I thought it was the R8 guy that wanted the shovel. Seriously though I know what you mean about the budgets. I got yelled at for replacing a firefighter's duct taped gloves with a new pair when I was in R3 (the tape was to cover all the holes). Apparently the FMO had saved for many years to get those gloves.

Finally, Finally, Finally
Thanks to the abs.


12/05 Ex-temp-employee,

Pull your head out of the sand! Even though the Forest Service should not be an “all risk” agency, it most definitely is, and not just in Region 5. From experience I can tell you that parts of Region 6 respond to “all risk” incidents as well. I agree that local government agencies should have the training and tools to do their jobs properly, but the reality is that many departments don’t have adequate staff or money to provide adequate training and resources to deal with all incidents within their jurisdictions. Therefore, they ask for Forest Service assistance on a regular basis. As for being a “watch out situation”, I’d bet money that you’d rather have someone with limited formal training and equipment respond to assist you in an emergency than no one at all! 

USFS FEO was right on several points:

1) the Forest Service in many places is an “all risk” agency, but many people just won’t acknowledge it.
2) There is no budget item for “all risk” incidents, but we are still asked to respond and assist.
3) Some local agencies (in my experience) fail to reimburse the Forest Service for our assistance in these situations.

Take, for instance, the scenario that DM mentioned previously. DM stated that he/she got to ride a jet boat up Hells Canyon in response to a wildfire. Assuming this was a Forest Service jet boat, I can tell you that the driver does get to charge his/her time to a P-code for wildfires, but does not get a special charge code for the hundreds of hours spent responding to search-and-rescue or medical situations in the heart of Hells Canyon, one of the most remote and rugged locations you could ever experience. Money for those situations comes from the recreation budget because local agencies once again do not pay the Forest Service for services we provide to assist them (even though they are supposedly the lead agency in these types of situations). On the reverse side of this, one of the local sheriff’s offices provides the Forest Service with some after hours radio monitoring (for employees who may be stationed at remote work stations and may require emergency assistance) which the Forest Services is required to pay for on a yearly basis. Somehow, that doesn’t seem quite fair.

However, I digress. My point is: USFS FEO made some valid points. If you don’t believe it, come spend some time in Region 6. We’d be happy to show you just how things are done around here.


12/05 hi im from kentucky and im with the kentucky division of forestry. i fight wildland fires. id like to have some info on fires in kentucky like pics and other stuff. if you could give me any info please e-mail me back at pauladams19@hotmail.com

thank you,
12/05 Ab,
correction on my previous message...... here is what i was getting at:

"and run into a burning building *WHERE NOTHING inside belongs to you*, join a structure department."

-sounds like wildland firefighters are not supposed to protect property that does not belong to them, that is not what i was told, where did you go to school WP?

And yes i do know that the forest service is not supposed to run into a burning building.... I work for the FS in R9 and have looked at the policys.

again, stay safe
12/05 hi all,
I have been busy and not been able to comment on the recent
discussion.....oh well. Just have a few things to say to WP in regards to
this post-

"and, if you think you have an obligation to run into a burning structure
to suppress a fire, YOU ARE WRONG! If you want to put on 150 pounds of gear
and run into a burning building WHERE NOTHING inside belongs to you, join a
structure department."

first, do you only fight fire on your property?-would not want you to save
something that is not yours...

second, is this a shot at us structure people? whats wrong with running
into a burning building? dosent everyone do it?:)

stay safe

AC, believe it or not, those who work for the Forest Service are not supposed to run into burning buildings. Many non-fed firefighters and the public do not realize this is true. Ab.

12/05 Ab,
I love fighting wildfires.
Until I had a family to provide for, THAT was all the justification I needed for accepting the low pay, non-existent benefits, irregular hours, sometimes brutal work, hazardous conditions, possible long term health effects, unreliable yearly income, and the inherent danger of the job. The obligations that come with a family changed all that. In order to continue firefighting, I had to find a fire position that provided a minimum level of financial security, create a reliable and profitable off season job myself, or give up what was in my opinion "the best job in the world".

I suspect that there are quite a few "young" firefighters that are willing and able to forgo a reliable income and decent benefits just so they can fight fire. The number of firefighters that have this option dwindle   quickly as they acquire families or learn the true nature of the job. I don't think that anyone disagrees that while the incidence of wildfire is likely to continue to grow along with the urban interface, fewer  experienced firefighters are able to provide their services for the "thrill of the job" and those trends are continuing unabated. This leaves our nation with a major problem of how to attract and retain enough firefighters long term to provide fire protection, instead of relying on a force which relies on inexperienced recruits. While the USFS 3 year plan to attract more fire fighters is a step in the right direction, I fear it will not solve that problem and is in fact creating a secondary problem of a lower ratio of experienced  "trainer" firefighters to relatively green recruits. No one that has spent time on a fireline for a few seasons can deny that this creates a greater risk for all involved until that ratio stabilizes at a higher value. Looking at the projections, this will not happen in my lifetime under the current plan which continues to rely so heavily on temporary positions.

Safely fighting fire is not a skill which can be taught in a season or two, and to rely so heavily on hiring "temps" to fight fire is as ludicrous as hiring temps to wage war, run power plants, or police our streets. It continues to be the choice of wildfire suppression agencies, state and federal, simply because they all have statutory employment exemptions which allow them to employ fire temps as if it were still 1930, while ignoring nearly all of the "Fair Employment" laws that have been enacted since then. They have lobbied hard to keep these exemptions and have fought hard in court to expand them beyond the legislatures' original intent, mainly so they can continue to use them as a budget stretching measure. This was good for the folks in charge of state and federal fire programs as they  received kudos for "doing so much with so little" but bad for every one else since it created the situation we have now. Fire fighters in "temp" positions lost out because they were unprotected by the same "fair employment practices" statutes that every other worker in the US takes for granted. Citizens lost out because they have to rely upon a much less than optimal fire suppression capability as their main/only defense against wildfires. Even migrant field workers from other countries have more protection from unfair employment practices than most temporary firefighters. This is even more disturbing because the money is there to reverse the trend but it is reportedly plundered to an unacceptably high degree before it makes it to the ground.

If the USFS is funded at less than 100% MEL this year I suspect that it is due to the single fact that the WO seems to be as unable to stop that practice as every other state and fire suppression agency. They were repeatedly warned when they received the first 100% MEL appropriation that the legislature was aware of this plundering and it HAD TO STOP if they expected 100% MEL to continue. If the USFS is requesting less than 100% MEL this year, is it admitting it cannot control the "raking off of funds" before they reach the fireline? I hope not. It would be a damning admission of failure in what I see as only the first step in providing for adequate future wildfire protection in the US, securing stable funding at 100% MEL.

The second step is attracting qualified individuals to train as fire fighters. The USFS made a good start on this last year and will hopefully continue to improve the system it uses to sign up interested individuals that are physically and mentally capable of learning to fight fire safely. Although the USFS is the current leader in attracting recruits, the application process has to become less cumbersome. I think they realize this and are working hard to make it more applicant friendly this year. Hopefully within the next few years they will refine the system enough to supply an adequate number of what are essentially often untrained recruits.

The third step will be to provide training for these recruits. This may be the most difficult step as training is and always has been "on the job training" and not simply coursework. Attending classes only makes you a green recruit with classtime. Until you can spend time on the line with experienced firefighters doing the work of fighting fire you aren't receiving training, you just know enough to be dangerous. Here is where I think the USFS and others have shot themselves in the foot by actively discouraging a huge number of experienced firefighters from being available as trainer/mentors to the recruits on the lines. The "old guys", of which I am one -- that have chosen over the years to fight fire as temps despite the disadvantages -- are the very folks they need most until the new recruits have enough experience to begin training the next generation of firefighters. We are currently prohibited from applying for the newly created positions. The only reason I have heard for this prohibition is that the USFS feels it would be unfair to hire folks that will not be eligible for full pensions at retirement age. Come on, full pensions? We never expected pensions when we chose to continue working as temps. I for one would be more than willing to accept a prorated pension and I suspect that many other "old guys" would consider this fair as well. Maybe they will eventually hire them as "independent contractor crew leaders". Probably not.

The fourth and final step will be to RETAIN trained, experienced firefighters. To do this they have to compete. Competition in this particular case is with every other job available to temporary employees in the off season. To rely on "loyalty" is not only ineffective, it is unrealistic. As another said on this forum "loyalty is a two way street" and no organization can expect loyalty from employees it treats unfairly or takes advantage of. As long as any fire agency say to them "our loyalty to you ends with when the fire season ends and we no longer desperately need you" they will not engender much loyalty from temps. In order to compete with alternative employers, the agencies involved must first start treating their temps "fairly" as all other employers MUST to comply with the Federal "fair employment practices" statutes. Legally right now they are not bound to do so. Realistically if they don't, they will NEVER be able to retain experienced firefighters unless they give up their exemptions to treat temps as "fairly" as all other employers must.

They may be able to avoid giving up those exemptions by actively showing more loyalty to temps on a year round basis. This might be exhibited by providing them first priority for off season employment opportunities, giving them job protection similar to that of the National Guard which would allow them to return to jobs they leave for "national duty" when the fire danger subsides, or actually creating more off season jobs for those firefighters that want them.

There are solutions for every problem and I hope that there are folks working along these lines, but in all honesty I don't see any indication that there are. Is anyone lurking with access to the WO who can enlighten me on this? I am not whining. I have found solutions not only for my own fire employment problems, but also for other firefighters employment problems as well. In fact I would love the opportunity to contribute to finding a solution to our national fire employment problem. I know how arrogant this must sound to most, but I know from experience how one person CAN make a difference.

A prime example of this is "the Original Ab". Without his efforts this forum would not exist and the myriad of individual positive changes that have occurred because it does would not have taken place. Thanks to you for making the effort and thanks to all the other abs that contribute to its growth.

Dana Linscott

12/05 How do you identify a family? Well they have the same roots, celebrate the
same or similar traditions. At times they bicker with one another over who
is doing the tougher job, or does it better, or cares more, or deserves
recognition. During or following times of stress, they may seem
particularly peevish with other family members.......but don't mistake that
for an absence of caring. When crunch time comes, they pull together and
defend one another with loving ferocity. Ain't it grand to be part of such
a family!

Old Fire Guy

Sure is. Ab.
12/05 I have been lurking on this page for quite a long time now. The pay scale and seasonal job issue finally struck a nerve.

First, the Government agencies don't owe you a thing. When you filled out the application to become a wildland firefighter it states what the pay range is and that it is a seasonal position without benefits! But yet you still applied. Why? I applied to get the experience, training and because I love wildland firefighting! I fought fire for a government agency for 4 years at GS-7 level and my only qualification was FFT2. Don't fight the system, use the system to your advantage. I knew the pay wasn't that good and the benefits were non-existent so I left. Now, I program computers and I'm part of wildland fire crew (that follows the government qualification system) in my company that responds to wildland fires that occur on company land in order to protect our assets.

Second, to USFS FEO,
So I'm the person that is setting in the lawn chair next to you. Because as it was mentioned early, computer people supposedly make a lot of money. Also, the Forest Service is not and should not be an "all risk" agency. Local governments have Structure Departments, Medical Services, and SAR teams for a reason, because they are trained and have the tools to do the job properly just like wildland firefighters have the training to battle wildland fires. You stated that "The FS may not be all risk everywhere but R5 most certainly is, the problem is getting quality training and equipment for the missions being placed on us.". I certainly hope you are not performing these missions without proper training and equipment! Because if you are, that spells out a "watch out situation" to me. If you want to do all that other stuff try and get on a structure department.

In conclusion, when people applied for a firefighting position they should have realized that it was seasonal and temporary. So get your training and experience and do with it what you want, leave or try to get on permanent but remember they don't owe you anything and you don't owe them anything because that is the way temporary employment works in Government and a lot of different industries.

12/04 As requested by one of the abs:

pay raises vs interest rates averaged over 10 year blocks

Years        Avg Pay raise  Avg Interest rate
1951-60         9.5%             2.1%
1961-70         4.8%             2.8%
1971-80         6.1%             7.9%  (Highest raise 9.1% interest peaked @13.5%)
1981-90         3.5%             4.7%
1991-2000     3.2%             2.8%  ( Locality pay began 1994)

Something else I found in the almanac was the 1990 Treasury, Post Office and General Government Appropriations Act, this incorporated the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act. The basic idea behind this law was to bring Federal employees to within 95% of comparable private sector salaries by 2000, 20% of the gap the first year and 10% each year after until salaries reached the 95% goal and then base future pay raises on the ECI (econ thingy beyond me, but this is the figure they are using now). Unfortunately, the previous administration overrode this by executive order in favor of "the presidents alternative pay increase determination". Wonder how the current administration will handle this in the future? By the way this 1990 law brought us the Locality Pay that took effect in 1994. Sure some of you knew about this but for the rest.......

Anyone familiar enough with retirement to give a comparison between "ours" (Fedfire) and "theirs" (them, the other guys, you know the guys that get more money). If you take away the salary issue, is it otherwise decent (assuming participation in TSP)? In other words if our salaries get "fixed", do we have a decent retirement?

And before I get jumped for my comments about the other regions and the budget, I know some of you have bigger forests (R1), some of you have more forests (R8 & R9) and some of you have more extreme overall conditions (R3 and R4). R5 combines these and mixes in a big boat load of people and structures who really like to build next to the Forests. I didn't mean to take away from any of the other Regions. I've worked in several besides R5 and I've seen how obnoxious we R5'rs can appear. I just get tired of defending that issue to people that have never worked here and working here is different than coming here on a fire. I actually had one person tell me R5 doesn't know how to fight fire. Thats why we have so much stuff. To the guy who needs the shovel, say something next time you're here, I'm sure we can look the other way for a few minutes, or better yet bring some of those funny looking tools you use in the South we can swap (but you've got to show me how they work).


haw,haw,haw,haw,haw,haw. Snort. Oh my... Haw Haw! WP is in R6. Undoubtedly he has a shovel, but right now I hear he's more attached to that ark he's building. He is also one of the funniest and funnin' guys going way back on theysaid. Ever hear of the "Squeek Trees"? You should visit the archives and read some of his posts... If we had a jokes page, WPs contributions would far outnumber those of other contributors.
Good research, FEO. Does anyone have the retirement stats? 

12/04 Does it really matter if a fireman has had X number of seasons? I know numerous "experienced" fire people who need to be overseen on the fire ground, not to mention the daily job. Safety being the guiding factor for most of us old timers, we want to provide a service that minimizes or eliminates the risk to our staff and others involved in fire suppression. If a person shows the strong level of intelligence and composure, it doesn't matter that they only have 3, 4, 5 years of experience. If it looks scary, they back out or do not go in. I am advocating giving the job according to the situation on site and the experience and strengths etc of the leader, something we've been doing in appropriate delegation of assignments for years. The manager still needs to be on site for the fire that is ripping and snorting.

Basically, what I am getting at is that: I would rather build my own fire supervisor than get one of those "experienced," dudes who is locked in as a marginally so-so supervisor. The one we build is stronger, faster, and, a lot of times, fire ground smarter (Sounds kind of bionic).

Whiners have a place in the fire service. I like to say work the H*** out of whiner and you get a winner or wiener. Plus, few things can beat baiting a person to have a little fun at the expense of a whining, bitching, and moaning employee.

We all know, attitude is what it is all about.
Fire Goy

12/04 Ab,

I have been reading the postings for the last several days with great interest.

I did not care to get into the fray. I will say I line up right behind "Ab the Original" on these issues.

Fire Dog R6,
Your post reminded me of something I call a "defining moment." That is a moment when you stop a say to yourself, "I have the best job in the world," or "I don’t believe I am getting paid for this." In the last 25 years I have had a good number of those; riding a WFO jet boat up Hells Canyon straight at a rapidly growing column, being woken by pinyon jays in the desert, glissading down a snowfield, using my pulaksi as a rudder, looking down into the Yosemite Valley from the top of El Cap’, to mention of few that come immediately to mind, there are a lot of others.

I have had opportunities do and see things few people, other than wildland fire fighters, can even conceive of. What is that worth? Can’t say, it’s a secret.

So, I have enjoyed the journey and the Zen I have found a long the way. It tends to makes other things shrink to insignificant background noise.


Last year there was a thread "One More Time" in which retiring/retired/soon-to-be-retired firefighters shared some of their magical "defining" moments. We've all had them. Amazing thing is, the feeling they invoke today is as fresh as the experience itself. Maybe one of the Abs should go back and pull those out into a list on its own page. Ab.

12/04 This is to the 30 and under crowd.

Free advice, it's worth what is costs, maybe a little more. Ok the essence of Fire Fighting is to do the job and to do it right. No politics, No posturing, No Bullshit. It is Bravery and Courage, Moxy if you will and Camaraderie, Sharing the Burden with the Team and Pushing Oneself. It doesn't matter if the fire is Forest or Structural when the alarm sounds and ya put on the Hardhat and Gloves or Helmet and SCBA, cinch it up tight, and respond, all the while trying to anticipate what it is you are going to find, how you are going to size it up, and what resources you will need and then what strategy to use to get the fire out. 

I have been doing this since I was 16 and now I'm 40 and I still get a rush and a sense of duty and accomplishment every fire call. When I watched our Brothers respond to the World Trade Centers and the sacrifice that was made by so many I am not ashamed to say I was in tears, and I was raised that Real Men don't cry, BS. Brothers and Sisters, look around you, we are few in number if you look at the demographics and we have something that not many people have. What is it, it's hard to quantify isn't it. I'm sure you must feel the same type of reaction when the Engine starts to roll.

What's the point huh, I guess it is this. Fire Fighting is a Lifestyle and Choice, and face it none of us are going to get rich or even expect to but it would be nice to have enough to pay the bills in the Winter, so... Enjoy the Journey. I have worked on fires since I was 16 ( with the CDF ) which meant I wasn't even allowed to fight the fire, just hump the hose and fittings up the hill to the Fire Fighters. I have worked CDF, BLM, USFS, State of Oregon Forestry and Fire Protection, and as a Fire Contractor. This past summer on the Quartz Fire in the Applegate Ranger District in SW Oregon, as I was driving my Engine up through the fire on a dozer line in the middle of the night I thought to myself that I have the best job in the World and that most people don't even know this kind of job exists.

I have been reading about all the grumbling and accusations and the new acronyms that I don't know and all I can say is Life is Short, enjoy your crew-mates and assignments. Plan for advancement and continually better yourself but enjoy going places that nobody else will ever see and facing your fears and conquering them. I have learned that there is no such thing as a "CAREER" and it is erroneous to expect performance or education to ever be enough to somehow ride the crest of a career for the duration. I know because I just got my "dressing down" and went from management to unemployment all because of one more personal vendetta. But guess what, I still have my home and family and the occasional fire assignment (Fire Contractor now) and I am better off for it all. Hardship does build character!! Brothers and Sisters, Enjoy the Journey, that is the Secret and that is my free advice.

Fire Dog R6 
12/04 FS-FEO,


12/04 To all, 

I have been looking over the shoulder of my husband for the past couple of nights reading what has been said in your forum. I am discouraged to read the many opinions that lack support of fellow firefighters who simply express their desires to achieve higher goals within a credible department. I admit, as a wife of a Region 5 firefighter, I have had several doubts as to whether this type of career can support a growing family with today's economy, and often times it cannot without the financial support of a secondary job (mine).

My husband loves his career, not job, but career. He's great at what he does and I applaud him for that. I find it noble that one would want to raise the bar higher each time and strive to reach it. And if those goals are met, I believe status and financial compensation is necessary. I believe that is what these people are trying to say. If only some of the more seasoned vets can see that. You were once ambitious forestry technicians too. Didn't you strive for more? The answer I am sure is YES! Because you knew you were worth it and you loved your job (career) as much as the rest. That philosophy has not changed. Let these guys have their chance too.

I would be disappointed if a new seasonal employee came on board only to remain at that level? Isn't the goal for most of these men and women who join this team to be more than simply entry level?

It's not always the amount of time you put into the job that makes you deserving of a promotion, but the quality of your work and the integrity behind it. I commend all the men and women out there who are striving to do more and to be more. Good luck.

Supporting Wife of the Four Southern Forests
12/03 This is way cool, all I had to do was say "quit whining" and you guys took the ball and went with it.

I just have one thing more to say on the subject. This being an annon. type thing, most of us don't know each other or what sacrifices our families have made to support us in our life's calling. Also nobody knows how hard the old timers who are "still stuck in the' 70's" have pushed to make sure that you young'ns don't have to work 12 seasons with no benefits or retirement like a lot of us did.

Just know that we support all you firefighters out there and your families because you are just like we were once. (Not all that long ago.)

"Work hard son and you'll find, one day you'll have a job like mine." Cat Stevens

12/03 Original Abercrombie here.

I only had two points to make. 

  • One about those who think they are "due" a permanent job just because they have worked X number of fire seasons. If the shoe fits on that one, wear it. As far as the pay issue goes, I have always held that fed wildland firefighters make less than we should, given our duties and responsibilities. Curious in ca, I'm with you on all of us working toward a living wage.
  • The other was concerning MEL, why aircraft inflation wasn't included in the outyear budget submitted, and why Washington fails to request the amount of the submitted budget. I don't recall the actual amount requested vs the submitted this year, but it was substantially less.
Anyway, this "old guy" who is afraid of change and can't remember more than two years ago, must get to bed soon so I can get going in the morning!

Haw, haw. Great dialog. Thanks All.

12/03 Fire Surfer -
Sorry your in the middle of all this, we actually do get along most of the time, this is more like a lively discussion. 

To the rest of you people -
First of all, I do think the Forest Service is an awesome agency, if I didn't I would have been out of here years ago, however that does not mean it's not screwed up and has many things to work on.

To those not in the Western states, I admit I don't know enough about your situation to make an accurate statement, but I still doubt any Forest in the US does not have a need to address the non-traditional responses, you've got campers right? loggers?, miners? ranchers? they drive cars, trucks? they probably bring assorted chemicals into the forest, perhaps people set up drug labs? Fuel trucks travel your roads bringing gasoline, diesel, propane to your out stations? These people get hurt from time to time? Get lost? fall off cliffs? crash their vehicles?

I don't see any denial of the problem, just people hiding behind an outdated mandate, that probably still says we sell lots of timber. You may not get the volume we do in R5, but I don't believe these problems don't exist. Remember "Caring for the land and serving people." I don't see you as meeting the goal of the Forest Service by sitting in the station telling someone, sorry your cars burning up but were not responsible for putting it out, I'd give you a band aid for that severed arm but we don't do that here. Perhaps an exaggeration because I know most FS people are not that heartless but the reality is - that is what you're doing when you don't deal with these issues by having the training and equipment to handle them. I don't know, maybe you have local departments close by. In the west you're usually talking 1 hour as close (compared to 3-5 minutes in a city) an hour is too long to wait when you're hurt.

Region 5 may only be a "small" part of the Forest Service but there is a reason all that money comes here: 30,000,000 residents (10% US population), I count 164 Forests Nation wide. We have 18 of those Forests (11%), most are surrounded by high dollar housing, an average District here is 300,000 to 500,000 acres, some are larger, average Forest is 4 Districts. Some have more, How big is your Forest? and then add in fire occurrence. I don't mean to be an R5 ass, and don't want to take away from the other regions, but the comment that R5 gets too much of the budget gets thrown at us often. These are the reasons we get all that money (of course 30,000,000 peoples worth of politicians probably helps too).

To the "all risk" claim I made, I didn't say the Forest Service claimed to be an all risk agency, but it is a fact that we are, many people just won't admit it, as proof I offer the following, Incident teams regularly respond to non-fire disasters, Hotshot crews are being used more frequently for non-fire emergencies as well (LA Earthquakes, South American mudslides, hurricanes), Engines are used for STRUCTURE PROTECTION (and you said were not responsible for that), I went through my engines log book today and broke down our responses this past season

  • Wildland fire 43%
  • Medical aids / vehicle accidents 29%
  • Search and rescue 10%
  • Other fires (vehicle, dumpster etc, does not include wildland fires started by these fires) 14%
  • Hazardous materials 4%
and this is a fairly slow station for these non wildland fire response, since we have a municipal station nearby. Even the Hotshots in R5 respond to these emergencies.

If you read the FS manual it states we may attack structure fires, just not make entry, if you read R5 policies, we may make entry to protect life. Several forests have automatic aid STRUCTURE responses to provide rapid intervention teams for the local fire departments (these teams go in and pull the structure guys out when things go to heck in a hand basket). The FS may not be all risk everywhere but R5 most certainly is, the problem is getting quality training and equipment for the missions being placed on us.

You're right there is no budget for medical aids, search and rescue etc, doesn't mean were not being asked to do it and thats part of the problem too. The FS manual prohibits actions that will lead to a poor image for the Forest Service, refusing to provide this kind of assistance makes the FS look bad, therefore refusing to provide assistance is prohibited. (there goes the fire budget in OT and equipment to the local jurisdictions responsibility, who usually respond with a thanks and no reimbursement to the Forest.)

What I want to know is how we got so far behind the Parkies, they added structural duties to their firefighters and have 0081 firefighters in a few locations (and as I understand it are adding more) and they have park medics (basically paramedic light). At least by adding these things they can ask for the money for training and equipment (they may not get it but they can ask)

I never said I think I'll see a national fire service, its just a nice dream, and I think a good idea. We do already have 30,000+ firefighters, its just some are DoD, DoI and DoA, some are called Forestry Techs, others Range Techs and still others Firefighters (odd choice that last one).

The 180 day was changed to 1039 hours because Temporary Seasonals were being employed year round year after year without benefits or retirement, they were being abused and still are, if we are already working people 13/13 without benefits why not just do the right thing by these people and make these all 13/13 permanent appointments with benefits and retirement, tell the 37+ crowd up front they don't have a career in fire, instead of stringing them along.


I don't do this for the money, as so politely mentioned by many if your here to make big bucks go become a computer geek. You're right there, the first thing I tell people is we don't pay enough not to have fun at work. However there is a problem with pay right now, particularly if you live in R5 one of the most expensive places on Earth to live, although I haven't seen anyplace that the Feds are ahead of the locals. Out of curiosity I went through the Employees almanac here's the break down of raises since 1951 in 10 year blocks (average yearly raise over the 10 year period)

  • 1951-60 9.5%
  • 1961-70 4.8%
  • 1971-80 6.1%
  • 1981-90 3.5%
  • 1991-2000 3.2% (1994 locality pay went into effect but that doesn't enter into things for most FS employees, RUS locality)

So it is pretty clear we don't make as much as we used to, particularly when you throw in the double digit inflation 1970's

If I was here for the money I wouldn't be here anyway, I like my job and am trying to hold out for improvements that hopefully are coming, but when I'm on a fire working hard and the firefighters (entry level) sitting in lawn chairs make 2x my salary it makes me feel pretty stupid for staying.

"In my humble opinion*, FEO needs to circle the block a few more times to get a better perspective, as it is now, it seems to me that he has not even made it around the corner. AB, 20 plus years doing this job does tend to give us a different perspective, I guess we are 'them'."
Thats your opinion and you're entitled to it, but in my opinion I do have a pretty good perspective on how things are, I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday (more like last week) and I know what responsibilities are being added to my duties even if they are not on the PD. I don't just pull all this out of my a**. Also 20+ years does make you "them", you probably had these same arguments with the then oldtimers when you wanted to start using this compound called water instead of dirt.


Do you know the inflation rates for each of the 10 year periods you provide pay raise stats for? The comparison would make a stronger argument. Overall, very well said. Ab.

12/03 WP, you mean you weren't there on the Big Bar Complex to save me and my home, just the forest all around us???!!!!! And you didn't even have a shovel? I wish you had said something. I would've given you one!

BTW, I always learn a lot when the smokey fur starts flying! Wowsers, the old-timers vs the kids. Classic. You're not really mad at each other, are you?

Well, I love you all! <smooch>

12/03 Bear,

the ruling you are mentioning was a case involving a NPS employee...... seems he worked for years as a "temp" employee prior to the 1039 rule.

he passed away and his 15 years of park service employment left his wife with with no benefits, retirement, medical...nothing. She sued. Thus a rulling to stop the abuse of temp employees. Seems that the 1039 apointment saves uncle sam from paying medical benefits on temp employees. Thats the gist of it.

As for 26/0 employment.....I think it is a crock..... for fire folks anyway. yes there is training, burn plans, etc. But for duty locations that are burried in snow..... those people tend to read the paper. sit around and play cards....etc. Now as much as I like playing spades, Cribbage for you helislackers, I would rather be laid off and do something productive with my time.

For whoever posted about a federal fire service....it is a good idea.....get everyone on the same page..... gives the ability for highly trained crews to move with the regional fire seasons. and the potential to keep fire dollars winding up in the SO's pocket.

True there is a need for fire input on land management plans, but fire Money should not go to it........ sure, have firefighters do prescribed fire and BD, but that money was never intended to go to NEPA documentation. It is for fire management. Not timber or wildlife management.

Hell, I think and have thought for years that the Forests should be bought out by the private sector. Sell them....... How's this sound......Welcome to the Pepsi Tahoe National Forest. At least the private sector knows that top heavy organizations don't work....... need people on the ground.

I worked on a district that had about a half million acres..... at the highest level of staffing I saw..... was about 45 on the district, including office staff more than half field positions..... people who sweat when they work...... or at least make public contact out of the District office. Off season...... field going position cut to people..... 3 of which are fire. Now how much work on 500,000 acres gets done by 5 people?

Tahoe Ted

12/03 I updated the jobs page since some new listings have come in. Ab.
12/03 Just wanted to respond to USFS LEO who was in favor of a National Fire Service. Last week, our Law Enforcement folks were informed that they could not travel anymore this year for routine training and non-emergency details, and any supplies, even at the district levels, had to be approved by the WO. This is a great example of what happens when you stove-pipe an organization (LE did this 5'ish yrs ago). The autonomy is great for awhile but then the real world sets in. 30,000 firefighters full-time? We could use them as baggage checkers or sky-marshals in the off season, or as another poster said to shovel snow. 30,000 folks could clear a runway in a hurry.

We need to be realistic, what we have is far from perfect, but is outstanding considering the obstacles any gov't. organizations has to wade through just to be. The FS (and all agencies involved in fires) was called upon by the country after 9/11/01 because of our great organization and skills in handling emergency situations. That was a very proud moment. Do you ever stop to think how amazing it is on a large fire only a couple days old, how many state, local, federal, contractors, etc are working together in a fairly seamless operation? We're awesome when we work together. Let's stop moaning about "MEL less than 100%", or someone got the shaft in the hiring process, or they get paid more than me, wah, wah. If you truly love the outdoors, the job of fighting fire, money should not be your main priority anyway.

I'm not ragging on firefighters - because I am one. As far as fulltime employment, as others have said it, it depends on how bad you want it. I volunteered on districts 40 hrs/week in between seasonal positions for 3 years to get experience and make contacts before I got on. Do great, experienced folks get over-looked when hiring, you betcha, but no one promised life would be fair. If your determined, hang in there. With 20 years in the FS, I've never seen a better opportunity to get your feet in the door for full-time positions. This window of opportunity may be short lived though. Someway the country has got to begin paying for that little thing over in Afghanistan.

whitebread in R8
12/03 It used to be money was available from TIMBER REVENUE.
At the end of the season people were kept on as term employees to do fuel reduction. When the environmentalists showed up to protect the species that did or did not need protection or worked to save our last old growth it became apparent to the government to do away with the 180 appt. and the 220 extension. As a temporary you have to move around frequently to get rank, leave, and social security. I remember a temp with 24 yrs. in and met another on Silver Fire in 87 who was 64 and had been a temp since he was young. I was told by an old timer when I came in that If you are immediately liked by someone who can bring you in you will be a permanent soon. If not you have to suffer the fate of the temporary seasonal. In fire this is worse than in the other series. If a young person is single without children they can move about the country in various fire, rec. or maintenance positions. I wish that I would have had the opportunities as a younger man that people have now. USA JOBS and the advent of the computer has changed the way to job search immensely. Some folks out there might remember when you had to look at the microfiche at the state employment division after you were laid off and could not even read it. Remember when fire temps were detailed to the nursery when the season ended? Well as George Harrison said: "All Things Must Pass." We all just have to do the best we can with the opportunities available.

12/03 Hey All,
 I've a few comments on the seasonal/temporary/permanent thread. 
  • During a recent management discussion on raising an assistant module leader position  from 18/8 to 26/0, the issue arose that there were some in those positions who would grieve the action.  Apparently there are those who enjoy their time off and think it wonderful they are able to enjoy a paid vacation in Mexico and/or on the ski slopes.  These employees seem to be those without families and do not require a full time position, however they feel just as strongly against the upgrade as those in favor.
  • One of the largest backfires I've seen torch the unsuspecting occurred when OMB was pressed on how the federal fire agencies "abused" seasonal employees several years ago.  I am without the specific details, but the result is that agencies are now forced to lay off seasonals after a specific number of work days.  The amount of work needed or funding available is irrelevant.  Crews have been released from active incidents so they may be returned home and laid off.  Local management is annually forced to make decisions regarding missions and objectives.   They must balance the current fiscal years priorities against the next.  They must calculate the days needed to bring back the employees for training or critical workshops.  With the current accelerated training demanded, the number of days can be significant.  This results in employees being unavailable during the first and/or last parts of fire season.  With the demand for new module leaders at a historic high, this practice is, and has been unacceptable.
    Others will know the details of the ruling better than I and I invite them to refresh my memory.  But I remember being able to keep employees in work status until there was no more work to be done or the funding ran out.  I view the current regulations as a lose/lose situation.

    My conclusions are, think before you speak.  You may not speak for all employees in the same or similar position.  Examine the possible consequences of your requests and actions, the results may be unexpected and severe.  I'm not advocating one to "fiddle as Rome burns", nor am I opposed to change, although I dislike "change for change sake".  I am merely pointing out that there are usually wider perspectives, differing opinions, and the interests and desires of one individual must be weighed along with all others when considering national policy changes.


12/02 Fire Surfer

LA County FD published a report titled "Calabasas Incident Entrapment
Analysis" around 100 pages, drawings, interviews, photos. Should answer
all your questions. Excellent reading. Not sure where today you could
get a copy.

On another note I believe So. Cal. Forests have done an excellent job in
expanding the career fire positions. We are near 5 career positions on a
type 3 engine with only two seasonals. Mid 80's we were running with
four seasonals per engine.


12/02 Ab the Original and All,

Miss one day reading the posts and the board just explodes! As I read the
post from FS FEO, I was scratching my head (and other places) wondering "who
put an ember in his pants," then I got to Old AB's response, can't say I
disagree with you Ab. FEO obviously is from R-5 where SCBA's and EMT are the
norm, but remember R-5 is not the entire FS, just a small part of it.
Sometimes for those of us from other places you do seem like a bunch of
whiners, you tend to forget you get a bigger piece of the budget pie than a
lot of other regions and still want more while I have a problem buying a new
shovel. I have been to R-5 and the amount of personnel, new equipment and
support you have compared to other regions, just amazes me!

It was stated that the FS is now an all risk agency. Since when? You better
go back and reread the congressional mandate. MEL does not include any
structure suppression, no EMS. Search and rescue? Since when is the FS
responsible for search and rescue? That is still the duty of local
authorities, we assist and provide expertise but never are the lead agency.
And, when we do assist in SAR, who pays? Fire - recreation -- show me a
budget line item for SAR. The ONLY authority the FS has is to suppress fires
and enforce certain Federal laws on a national forest! There are agreements
in place for mutual aid and we do assist. We sent people to the World Trade
Center and Pentagon, but were never in charge, we just lent our expertise.

The reason you have SCBA is to protect your ass from the toxic substances
encountered while suppressing fires in a NF that might spread to
the forest. We have public roads with cars in our forests, cars catch on
fire, fire spreads to the forest, it is in our best interest to suppress a
car fire before it spreads to the brush (insert visual aid here). There are
private inholdings in the NF's with structures on them, is it our duty to
provide structure protection? HELL NO! It is our duty to prevent fire from
a burning structure to spread to the adjacent forest. SCBA is to keep you
from breathing toxic fumes while working those types of fires. And, if you
think you have an obligation to run into a burning structure to suppress a
fire, YOU ARE WRONG! If you want to put on 150 pounds of gear and run into a
burning building WHERE NOTHING inside belongs to you, join a structure

In my humble opinion*, FEO needs to circle the block a few more times to get a
better perspective, as it is now, it seems to me that he has not even made it
around the corner. AB, 20 plus years doing this job does tend to give us a
different perspective, I guess we are "them."

*Opinons are like AHs, everyone has one.

Guess so. <HAW><HAW> Ab.

12/02 Dear Family:

Yes I agree with some of what people are expressing. I can not speak for everyone, all FF's and all managers in every agency and dept. In Region 5 the forest service in North & South zone has taken the lead in more than wildland fire suppression. Our public look at us who provide a service to be a catch-all for all problems. Public service is a part of our jobs. Yes, the tax payer funds our positions and budgets & yes, as a tax payer WE contribute to our own funding. The Public perception does not differentiate between which agency provides which service, especially in a crisis. We do more than is in our job descriptions. EMS , hazmat, structure protection occasionally fire suppression aka (aggressive exterior attack as well as environmental protection and the protection of our public (often times from themselves) has been a implied. I know that other agencies and employees will not agree with my statements.

I care, not only about the plight of our public, but also about our own employees. Let me back up through time and tell a short story. I became a EMT 1A in the late 1980s. Why?- because at the time fires where caused by vehicle accidents and with these incidents, people got hurt. Our nearest medical assistance was 20 minutes from our incident if they were available. It was very difficult to stand by with a traffic sign in hand and watch people who might be saved, die or suffer from their injuries because our own agency said we don't do that and have a policy preventing action for assisting our own public. I decided to affect a change with in myself , get my EMT to render help to people (Public Or Agency ) in these situations. Is this service in our PD?- it may be or not. What is our moral obligation to our fellow man and woman? Is it implied by our public or somewhere deeper inside our own beings. You must decide for yourselves.

Would it be nice to work year round? Yes, it would but in most cases fire $$$$$$ will not pay our way. Within the Forest Service I remember at the close of fire season the topic of winter work opportunities came about. The seasonals, Temps at the time, were to be laid off. That was a sad time for me and everyone (for ELEVEN YEARS I went through this occurrence). Winter work for the Permanents, Career Seasonals (20/6, 18/8s 13/13s and JACs in some places) trail work, facillities, fuels, prevention and yes even in recreation. Work months and pay periods to fund employees a little longer and prepare for the off season. Even through these trying months the heart of many of us is still in the fire game. Ok now the challenge think about this. Detail to another unit, R3 & R8 do alot of Rx project and burning while many places are under the snow. Get more experience some where else, jump ship for a month, go to school, set your sights ahead (how do I get to a fire staff officer position?) take the next step toward your goals. Perhaps fire, as it is, is not your life long calling. If Money is what drives you, branch out. No one will blame you for improving the quality of your life and your family security. If your friends or management have heart aches with this, hey its your life not theirs.

Yes I had to look out for myself. I did heed the advice of colleagues that cared enough to give me some. I worked as a seasonal employee for TWELVE fire seasons and a few winters . This is not a long time for some of you out there, and a long time for others. This year a 2nd year seasonal overheard a conversation with a friend of mine at work and when he said "Do you remember the Paint Fire in 1990", and commented to the two of us "YOU'RE OLD". We were both shocked!!!! I remember a good hotshot foreman / Supt, speak of the Loop Fire, when I was just a pup and thought the same thing, so many years ago. But we listened for a lesson in the story, something that would help us keep ourselves and our crew safe and we both did.

If the whiners and those who were spoon fed their jobs think you are owed a living for nothing, YOU are sadly mistaken. If you can see yourself as a THEY OWE ME person, move on and look for a new challenge. We have some great folks working with us and folks growing with each new experience.

MEL was and is a good thing for all of us. are the goals realistic? Yes to some and no to others. Appointments grew on trees in some regions and helped many folks "who have done their time" get in. That made me feel good and bad. I remember those folks who gave us all so much, encouraged us to strive and seek a new experience to better ourselves, to move around and not stagnate - those folks who still got the shaft for one reason or another. Think about your own situation, worry about what you're doing and how to improve yourself. Dont count on MGMT to take care of you. They may not worry about where you're going. Do not repeat these mistakes and mismanagement of those persons who controlled your life and career in the past. Be better than that.

No more Hard Nosed attitudes and intimidation of employees. Now a direct quote of one of my AFMOs." If you don't come back to work for the district at this station next year, You'll NEVER WORK IN THIS BUSINESS AGAIN ". I wonder what he thought iwhen I came back to the district on a fire as a Engine Foreman that next season? If you're going nowhere, move on, step up to the plate, accept a new experience.

My attitude has been tweeked a little with everyone I have worked with and for. The good, bad and indifferent and all my experience of the past and present influence me. I will affect a change for my crew members, my unit and my agency. To be the best, treat all with mutual respect even though I may not buy what they tell me. Be open to new experiences. We are the future and we can lead or follow, changing with the times, "willingly or kicking and screaming all the way". "Ed Littler", taught us to make decisions right or wrong but once you do "Go with it and change as necessary to fulfill the mission". Thanks ED. Thanks to all of you who have guided and mentored me along the way. So many great people, I couldn't have made it here without you. Even though the lessons were hard and sometimes I couldn't see the big picture, thanks. My time with the Forest Service in R5 prepared me for my experiences with the Fish & Wildlife Service and The BLM, not only in R5 but now in R4. We may do things differently but we are working toward similar goals.

My greatest ambition was to become a Engine Foreman, Captain etc. Now that I have reached this ambition, I can only hope and strive to do it well. Six seasons now and finally a WAE "permanent seasonal ". If you want the status of a position work for it, HARD!!!!! Titles are not important, be the best you can be in all of you efforts, the respect and cooperation of all folks in the business is important. We need to work together - all of us in this business - be safe, work hard and look out for each other and accomplish our mission. Public service is part of our mission in whatever we do. Lets not lose sight of this.

Fire Season is not over. It never ends. Lets be careful and aware every time we go out to accomplish our individual missions.

Best wishes to you and you families.

Engine Module Leader, aka Still a pouge.

12/02 Backburnsfs and "the Original Ab"

That kind of thinking is exactly what we don't need in the Forest Service anymore. Are you the same people that go around saying we shouldn't be carrying SCBA's or have EMT's? Times have changed. Meet the new challenge.

Like it or not, the Forest Service is now an all risk agency. Its just that some of the administrators at the top won't admit it. Fire dollars to shovel snow? I seem to find plenty of fire related work in the winter, and having a few more bodies around wouldn't hurt (ever heard of thinning or burning, equipment maintenance, training etc the list goes on) and there are still occasional fires and other emergencies in the winter months (who goes out and rescues people in the snow where you work, fire does it here basically because nobody else does). If we're all such money grubbing culls then maybe you would like it if we went back to being volunteers. That is where you would really show your civic colors (and yes I spent many years as a volunteer). As for the tax payer comment, I'm a tax payer too, does that mean I'm self employed?

Why do we still hire temps, most places work them 6 months anyway, why not hire 13/13's in place of temps and start working on keeping the core "leadership" positions (lead firefighter, AFEO, FEO and SFEO) on 26/0 (crews and helicopter people will have to substitute the appropriate positions). Seasonals at other agencies get benefits, only the Federal government can still get away with bringing an employee back year after year without benefits. If you read the employee almanac you will see Temps were never intended to be used the way we use them. As mentioned in an earlier post, unemployment costs nearly as much as year round employment anyway.

R6 FF, don't take the comments of these two very seriously, they don't speak for all of us, I don't think you would hear much of that in R5. If you go back and reread their comments you'll find they don't even agree with each other, one tells you that 4 seasons is way to early to expect a 26/0 job and the other tells you that since you don't have a 26/0 its because you don't deserve one. In my experience 2 seasons is plenty to start expecting a 13/13 job unfortunately there are not many 26/0 jobs out there yet until you reach the GS7 or 8 level. You may want to head south (R5) though if that is what you want. Many of the South zone forests work their 13/13 and 18/8 people year round or close to it (some require 2 pay periods off). If you talk to some of the real old timers (from the 70's) some of them were Divisions or Ops chiefs after 6 or 7 seasons. Its mostly the 80's and 90's consent decree "old timers" that are fussing about rapid promotion.

I've seen many comments both Fed and CDF referring to seasonals that want permanent jobs as less than deserving. One in particular I recall from a CDFer that the people griping on a CDF site were just seasonals that thought CDF owed them something. Well you know what? We all owe seasonals something. We couldn't do this with out them and we should never forget that.

I'm rather surprised that with all the other concepts discussed in the plans following the 30 mile fire nothing was mentioned about retaining or improving the quality of the people we have. Anybody that says hiring new 18 year olds every year is the best way to safely fight fire is either delusional or lying. What it is, is cheap.

I guess I've beaten that horse enough for now. On to the next...

I am very much in favor of the idea of a single national fire service. It would do many things for all of us (except for those that don't want to do more than they already do) including the tax payers. It would provide the numbers to really get the attention of Washington (10,000 DoD firefighters and 7,000 FS, I don't know how many BLM, NPS, BIA, F&WS & VA would add) but you would be talking about 30,000+ firefighters speaking as one. Add in administrators who know how to get the budgets they need and know the problems facing the people on the ground. Such a combination would benefit all involved, DoD offers an established system for the non traditional responses (hazmat, medical, structure etc) and wildland offers more travel, OT and promotional opportunities for the DoD side. The country would also
benefit by having a large professional organization dedicated to serving the US instead of individual Forests, Military bases etc. I don't know how this could be accomplished, since so many higher ups are more concerned with maintaining their empires than providing better service. Really, what other excuse can explain the resistance of adding fire related duties to firefighters.

So if you have your 25+ years in and you think it ain't broke and you're tired of all us whiners, then please get out. You've served you time. Take your well deserved retirement. There are plenty of 15 and 20 year veterans ready to take your place and maybe we can start to bring the agencies into the 21st century. I don't mean to be disrespectful to the old timers but if you can't see the need for change its time to get out of the way. We can always bring you back AD to utilize your experience on the fire line.

One more:

"The whiners who want more money and to be called "Captain" need to go to work for those folks and quit crying about the USFS. There will NEVER be a "Fire Service" like what the law dogs have."

That is pretty much what many LEO's were told right up until they were put into their own organization.

The only possible explanation I see for comments like this, is selfishness: you don't want to see your job change so you insult those that are trying to do something about the changing times. Talk of hazmat, medical aids, urban fires (structures, dumpsters, vehicles etc) are not being talked about as a ploy to get more money. These are becoming common responses these days. We are already basically doing the same job as CDF and municipal departments, so why is it unreasonable to ask for similar pay and recognition. To ignore or deny that this is happening reduces our ability to get the training and equipment needed to properly deal with these responses. Maybe you work in a region that has not been affected by this (outer mongolia perhaps) but since I started working for the Forest Service, non wildland fire emergency responses have always equaled or exceeded wildland fire responses. This is not limited to R5 although that region is dealing with it more openly.

If you say you don't go to these types of incidents, honestly look at your situation and see if you don't go because the need doesn't exist or if it is because you play games to avoid responding. The next time you have a nearby medical aid and you pray the old radio doesn't work or drive so slow that the municipal department an hour away gets there first, think about the person you are ignoring. What part of "Caring for the land and serving people" prohibits our responding to non wildland fire emergencies? I think that motto supports our adding more capability to the agency.


12/02 Don't forget folks, that loyalty is a two-way street between the employer
and the employee. Seems to me re: these posts that many see it as working
only to the benefit of the employer. I personally know many excellent FS
employees who cope with ridiculous workloads and hours (not just in fire),
out of loyalty to the organization and their love for the job. Given the
demands of the work you all perform, why is the request for a living wage
regarded in such a negative light?

curious in ca
12/02 Wheweeeeee. Some hot topics here! So are we back to asking for less than the funding needed to get us to 100% of MEL (the Most Efficient Level) by 2003? If so, I can't believe it!!!

Fire Surfer, I don't have an internet source to point you to and I wasn't down in the Malibu Bowl area of CA then, but I found the following info about the incident in my notes from Doug Campbell's Fire Signature Prediction Course:
The Calabasas Incident was an entrapment, Oct 22, 1996, 10 FF injured, the fire below them in the Coral Canyon ran upslope (80% slope, very steep) to the road system of Malibu Bowl where they were defending structures. I have more notes on slope, aspect, time of day, etc. The Santa Anna wind event (of course coming from the NE) on Oct 21 changed on the 22nd (by noon) to a much lighter wind (onshore from a the S) and the fire shifted from a (foehn) wind-driven fire to more of a topography fire -- in which slope, aspect, time of day and fuels (heated and dried by the sun) became more critical factors. The change in the fire's behavior indicated a need for a change in firefighting tactics that was not recognized. The Malibu Bowl became indefensible. In the end, spot fires landing in the dry and sun heated fuels created a whole "area ignition" with flame lengths of 100-150 feet in the Malibu Bowl and overran the firefighters.

Since this incident occurred only 5 years ago, there are probably readers who have a first-hand observations to share. Maybe Doug or Will Spyrison who also teaches the Fire Signature Prediction Course could fill us in some more. (Either of you are reading?) How about a topo map? Anyone? Experiences, insights, recollections? Was there a breakdown in communication and leadership, too?

How big a safety zone is needed when flamelengths are 150'? How do you know ahead of time how long the flamelengths will be?


Ab, please add this on.
I just realized I clicked into my Lessons Learned Mode while writing my post. At the same time, I remembered seeing the faces of the burned-over firefighters in films that Doug showed in his class and crying. Please, if anyone reading this was in the Calabasas or a similar incident, I apologise if my comments add any pain.

12/02 backburnfs and Ab,

I agree with you 100 %......

The whiners who want more money and to be called "Captain" need to go to
work for those folks and quit crying about the USFS. There will NEVER be
a "Fire Service" like what the law dogs have. Don't forget that the
militia is the backup for the fires that overwhelm or escape IA. Most
of the IMT's and CWN folks are militia and will always be there
regardless of position and pay.

If the whiners do get a union going for them and hammer the FS with
their demands, then the FS will probably contract fire suppression with
CDF. Some forests already contract their suppression with States.

12/02 Well I am glad to see you all have an opinion. But I also do, as do many others like myself. I am glad to see you guys are still stuck in the 70's. But lets wake up here - it's not the 70's anymore. As far as you judging my work ethics by something I wrote, that truly shows your opinion on things. This is why things are the way things are. People like you cannot pull their head out of a dark place long enough to realize things have changed. There bigger and better opportunities out there. People are going to try to better themselves for their families. No matter how you feel about this, if you don't wake up and realize this, then there are going to be alot of good people leaving for greener pastures. So quit your whining and do something about retaining good people cause things are not going to change all by themselves.

12/02 Hello All,

I am doing a report for one of my fire technology classes and I need some help finding some information. I am reporting on the Calabasis Wildland Incident, and I am having zero luck finding any information. Can anyone tell me about that incident (when, where, what happened, why it happened, what happened after it to change firefighting procedures or technology) or point me to other sources that answer some of these questions? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Surfin' the internet for historical fire info (or Fire Surfer)

12/02 Abs,

Well, Lord knows you have allowed me the space to have a good RANT on this forum but it seems that unless the ab that posted the reply after backburnfs "What a bunch of whiners" post speaks for all abs it was inappropriate to post as if it does. If it does NOT then it should be posted separately and signed as "one of the abs" or even better as simply another opinion from an equal on the forum. If it was the original abs opinion I would think it would be posted as such as most readers would probably read it with a bit of additional reverence. Just my opinion.

I appreciate more than most the effort that all the abs put into maintaining not only They Said, but the whole wildlandfire site. And I know more than most how powerful the opinion of "the abs" can be on the folks that make the effort to post rather than just lurk. I think that for any one ab to discourage posting and encourage lurking defeats the purpose of They Said by discouraging the free expression of thoughts. "Go somewhere else" is a powerful and discouraging message that I don't think you ALL meant to send to anyone.

I personally believe that both the "whiner" and the "ab" that posted opposing views are "right". It IS better now than it ever was before for those that wish to fight fire and love the job, especially compared to the job conditions that existed 20 or 30 years ago. And it will have to get better if we wish to maintain a ground force of experienced and able firefighters capable of protecting the nation from catastrophic wildfire without accepting firefighter deaths as simply an "acceptable" fact of life and part of the job.

The DNR in the state I live in felt much the same way as the abs post. They told the folks that felt they had to treat their firefighters in a manner that was competitive or they would soon be unable to muster enough well trained firefighters to provide our state with adequate wildfire suppression capabilities "if you don't like it go somewhere else". These managers felt that they could not afford to pay competitive wages or offer dependable jobs to their firefighters and that looking back 20 or 30 years they should not need to as there had always been enough "loyal" firefighters previously. Unfortunately for our state times had changed and during the next 5 years we became little more than a training ground for firefighters that left after fewer and fewer seasons. Ironically the money saving measures that they employed ("go somewhere else if you don't like it") forced them to spend tens of millions of tax dollars on mobilizing resources from other states and investing heavily in air power as they had never had to do in the past. The money they saved by allowing/encouraging a depletion of the experienced firefighters they once had was a drop in the bucket compared to what they had to spend to cover their ass when those they told "go somewhere else" DID!

Privately I am sure they wish they had listened to the early warnings by those firefighters they thought were "whiners" but who were really harbingers.

Please, abs...don't publicly discourage any firefighters from posting their opinions. If you feel compelled to do so it better serves us all if you do it privately.

Dana Linscott

Good points, Dana. This Ab went back and added "the Original" to my post. I also changed the "take your whining outt'a here" to something more appropriate. All Abs do want the dialog, but obviously this Original Ab got his button pushed and forgot the power of Abercrombie's keyboard.

12/02 AB:

Tell everyone only a few more days left for the open exam for CDF Fire Captain. If there was ever a test to be on this is it. There might not ever be another open list like this. The last time there was anything close to this was nearly twenty years ago-the old crew foreman list (now FC-B).

December 6 next Thursday is the final file I believe.

One of the CDF guys

12/01 Backburnfs,

Yes, more people should be hired PFT. If we want to keep the employees who have experience and who have put in their dues, then yes, we need more PFT positions. I don't know anybody who truly loves to work six months out of the year only to get laid off and costs the TAXPAYERS unemployment.

I have known quality people who have been waiting for full time employment that have left the agency for greener pastures. If you would like this to continue, then yes, keep business as usual.

Yes, we do need a pay raise. The cost of living has increased since the 70's and it costs just little bit more to make ends meet. Yes, MEL gave us some better opportunities, but I still pray everyday that it will last.

I think the people who wrote in about PFT employment and making more money have a valid points. People who are being hired in this generation are different, they want full time employment, better pay, better retirement, and better benefits. I don't think there is anything wrong with that and when it happens you will probably be the first one to thank the people who right now are trying to achieve these goals.

There is one point on which I do agree with you, and that is for everybody to stay patient and, yes, everything will be ok.

12/01 What a bunch of whiners

Poor lowly Government Firefighters. You love fire and being outdoors. You have worked 4 WHOLE seasons and don't have a full time 12 month a year fire job? You dont get paid as much as the CDFer's. What a shame, the System must really be broke. What do you think? Somebody gonna pay you fire dollars to shovel snow? Or count McCleods.

I say this is the best time in 30 years for FFTR's to get PSE jobs. How many new fire positions last year?? How many new Hotshot Crews?? Anybody that wanted a job and had any skills got them.

The MEL money did hit the ground. The district I work on has 5 engines and a 10 person IA crew plus they hired a 20 person contract crew for a month and a half in july and august to beef up even more.

You people think that working a couple of seasons entitles you to a PFT position? You need training and experience. You need to be willing to go the extra mile. You need to prove yourself to be a trusted leader. Yes, you should even have a little LOYALTY to your employer the TAX PAYERS. That is why it is called CIVIL SERVICE.

If all you want is big $, you have chosen the wrong occupation, go build computers. But, if you love fighting fire as much as you say you do, hang in there and you'll do OK.


Ditto from the Original Abercrombie. . .why just just to get to some of the most promising NEW candidates last year, there were those offered jobs who would NEVER have been given a promotion in the past. They were offered jobs just to get their unworthy butts outt'a the way!

Can't get a full time/permanent job in the USFS and you've been around for four plus years? The forests have your number, they know who you are, and they aren't willing to sink to your level yet! Withdraw your application, you're probably blocking many more deserving people who have put in less time.

Ab don't remember 30 years ago, only 24. Couldn't get a full time job then unless you made a cert list that must'a been around 4,000 strong and you had to be at the very top of the list to even have a chance. Most likely you would then be stationed at some sh!thole back-country station that didn't even have electricity or running water. Wouldn't be a tree, or "forest" area for a hundred miles in any direction.

Go on whiners - go bitch on Whiners.com or to your mother, or to your congressional reps... Just know if ya send it in here there will be some who will take you to task, even one of the Abs might get on a rant!

So regarding the current budget... who's responsible for OMB not asking for MEL as it was established? I heard they thought it was too much money and one of the assistant directors for F&AM decided to request LESS than MEL. Thought Congress would get their panties in a bunch at the increased amount. Word just came out this last week that the new helicopters planned for Region 5 weren't going to be added this year. Now that raises a question.

If these additional aircraft resources were planned in MEL - remember MEL comes from NFMAS which is an outyear budget request done 3 years in advance - and Congress said last year that they were willing to fund MEL, WHY THE HELL ISN'T THERE ENOUGH MONEY TO FUND THEM????

I heard that a regional aviation spokesperson sez the helicopter vendors are coming up for contract renewal. Helicopters normally go on a 3 year contract. SO, what's the big surprise???? Didn't anyone know 3 years ago that there would be an increase in the cost of helicopter contracts? Isn't inflation built into NFMAS?

More surprises were announced in that the air tanker contracts may be rising another 1.6 million dollars. Again, I ask what the big surprise is? Jesus tits! Are these people in charge of budgeting so new that
they can't remember 3 years ago? Good grief, how long have we been doing this? The rest of the business world seems perfectly able to predict their needs based on their historical data.

But then again, they may not have leaders afraid to take a stand and request the appropriate amounts of money necessary to guarantee they produce a working product. I surmise the most successful companies aren't ruled by political appointee ladder-climbers afraid of their own shadows.

Ab, the original.

12/01 In response to LH,

Yes, your point is also mine. If you read my letter again you will see Ilay no blame on former or soon to be employers. The point I am trying to get across is maybe we need a reason to be loyal. Instead of feeling betrayed.

On a serious note as far as the private sector goes. What is out there? I would like to know more.

R6 F.F.

12/01 Firenwater said in passing something about the rake-off of fire budget each year for overhead.

I heard earlier this year that it wouldn't happen this year under the congressional funding for the National Fire Plan. But I also heard from a budget buddy this week that about 30 cents on the dollar got on the ground this year.

How can this be true? Is her estimate a one-time example? Did this happen in more than one place? She claims that other program areas sucked off the money before it got out to the districts and even the NFs and that the FMOs were left holding the "empty" bag. Tell me this ai'nt so.


11/30 The jobs fairy says this came in:
Please post the attached messages/documents for info on critical new fire job info.

MEL Madness 2002 -- the hiring schedule we've all been waiting for...
(Ab sez: There also was an Appendix A listing phone numbers and resources of all the USFS National Forests, Ranger Districts, etc across the country. We will not post that now.)

Here's a note from Kellie Persell (R5) relaying important job application information provided by Joy Thomas from ASAP.

"... It was discovered that the FSJOBS site is in a bit of a mess. They are working to update it and gave another site for use in the meantime.

Non-FS applicants should use the internet site at: http://www.fs.fed.us/people/employ/asap

Forest Service employees and management can use the intranet site at: //fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/hrm. (This site contains some additional information for applicants that will be useful for HR and Management personnel to have when doing outreach and helping applicants apply.)

Please ensure everyone is forwarding 2002 applicant packages and not the 2001packet or a partial packet! The only form from a 2001 packet that can still be used is the C form itself. Even the C Form instruction sheet has changed! <little snip>

ASAP plans to notify all existing candidates in the temporary and permanent data base that they will need to reapply if interested in 2002 employment. They have ordered postcards and plan to mail them out in the next 2 to 3 weeks."

From reading through the e-mail, it seems the biggest confusion at this time is that some applicants are getting 2001 temporary fire application packets from District Offices or they are getting only partial packets. Applicants, call the ASAP number and request a packet. Do not use an old or a partial one. The number is 1-877-813-3476. If you are a first time applicant, ask them what the procedure is.

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