SUBJECT    (Previous Archive: Dec-01) Return to Archives Page
01/31 A few links from Firescribe:

Durango new home for Hotshot crew
Leroux Fire starters
report for duty May 20

01/31 This message came in from Jim. Many thanks.


01/30 Ab:
I have sent a request to my old Fire District (Mountain View) here in Colorado.
I asked them to contact as many Emergency Agencies in Colorado as possible,
to send Krs Evans cards and patches. I will try to contact as many firefighters as
possible and talk to my wife about her school kids also.


Sounds good. Ab.

01/30 A link to the Black Christmas Photo Gallery. 

Some 40 meter flame lengths here.


01/30 Here's the URL for the Washington post internet forum regarding the federal job hiring process:

I think the page is self-explanatory; you can submit questions or comments
during the hour (0900-1000 PST) or you can submit them in advance - which is a
good idea because these discussions can get pretty heavy traffic. One of the
points I hope gets across is this: if the wastebasket emptyers across the
country had serious concerns about federal hiring processes, it wouldn't be
news. But firefighters are the heroes in this country, and fire affects pretty
much everyone in this country. And it's going to get worse. Taxpayers CARE
about firefighters and the hiring process is really a cluster right now. This
needs fixing, fast.


Send in your questions and comments NOW in the next hour and a half! Ab.

01/30 I just wanted to give everyone a new mailing address for sending Krs Evans
cards, letters, etc. As of 1/23/02, Krs has moved to the Craig
Rehabilitation Hospital in Colorado. Best wishes can be sent to Krs at the
following address:

Craig Hospital
3425 S. Clarkson Street
Englewood, CO 80110

This hospital is one of the premier "model systems" rehab centers in the
nation and will be able to offer Krs some of the best rehabilitation
services available. Please keep him in your thoughts. Thank you to all
those who are involved in making contributions, organizing fund-raisers,
and keeping his situation in mind.

Casey Rice
Acting SCP Human Resources Operations Team Ldr.
01/29 The Jobs Page, Series 0462, and 0455 are updated. Just keep getting bigger. Ab.
01/29 Ab, yes the Home Grown Instructions came straight from the R.O. just as I sent them to you. Ironic that the timing coincided with the discourse on the evil weed.

Pulaski, I am pretty sure that they are starting the Home grown training library with the refresher stuff but I am pretty sure that it is going to go big real fast with alot of contributions from some folks that know how to build a good training presentation. If this thing is not managed right from the start however I think it could get cumbersome and become a pain as far as the upkeep and distribution goes.

Also note that the instructions state that the person who builds and submits the training presentation is the one responsible for getting their product out to the folks who request it. One problem is that most folks' email systems can't receive large powerpoint presentations due to limited data storage size. So the likely fix is to burn cd's and mail them to your buds who want to use your course.

That is all I know for now as I get more info I will post it here.

01/29 Ab and readers,

I heard yesterday that the USFS was refusing to pay true overtime to members of the WTC incident (Pay Cap Issues). Hopefully by the time I'm writing this, it's a dead issue.

I thought that the wording of HR 2814 and S.439 (the rider that was passed and signed by the PRESIDENT OF THE US of AMERICA) had the wording of wildland firefighters engaged in "emergency incidents" finally fixed that problem. (Fixed by the support and introduction of legislation by the Federal Wildland Fire Service Assoc. - FWFSA) I guess there is some confusion in the Agencies as to the wording of the LAW approved by congress and signed by the President.

FWFSA-Southern California

01/29 While we are on the topic of training, I have a question that I have been
wondering about for quite a while. Are there any training requirements for
contract dozer operators? I have faint second hand memories of hearing where
just anybody that can run the dozer was put in the seat to work on a fire.
If not does anyone as a normal routine do anything to train these

01/29 Thanks for letting me read about the "Fire World" out there. I figured it was time to have a word or too as well. I used to be a "Shot" for a couple of seasons and was injured on a fire late in the Fall, I feel that if I wasn't in the shape I had been in I would have died on the fire line. I greatly appreciated the crew for the enthusiasm they put into daily "P.T.s" I was always under the assumption that we were all there to be the best we can be.  I now work for an agency that sends out Type II crews on a continuous basis throughout the summer months and sometimes the fall months (Yes the Northern Region). If an individual is written up for poor performance (Physical), he/she is sent to stand before the "Man" as to why they were written up for their poor performance. If they are found to be of physical incompetence on the fire line, they are sent  down to be re-evaluated (Physical) again. Minor infractions are dealt with as well.

A fire guy
01/29 Hi. This is directed toward any Australian firefighters:

My name is Jessica Labranche. I live in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. I was wondering if you could give me some information about who I could contact about working fire suppression in Australia. I completed my S-100 Training (Forest Firefighter Training Course), Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Training, Transportation of Dangerous Goods Training, First Aid and Basic Rescue Training in 1999 and a yearly pre-fit (physical examination). These are the requirements for becoming a fire ranger in Ontario. I've worked for the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario's government agency in charge of fire suppression, as a crew member from May through August of 2001 and participated in numerous initial attacks on forest fires across  the province. I'm looking to possibly work in Australia your next fire season (November to April???). Could you supply me with information regarding the agency I should contact. Also I'm interested in information about your pre-job physical (passing requirements). I can be reached at this email address labranche1@sympatico.ca

Your assistance would be appreciated.

01/29 Hi Ab

I am an instructor at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA. The college offers AS degrees in Wildland Fire Technology. Here is an excerpt from the college catalogue:

Wildland Fire Technology
The Wildland Fire Technology curriculum offers a variety of options that provide students with multi-component proficiency training for employment with wildland firefighting agencies. Programs are available in Wildland Firefighting Operations, Wildland Firefighting Prevention, Investigation, Prescribed burning, and Wildland Firefighting Logistics, Finance, Planning. The core and prerequisite courses for all options are listed below. Students should contact the program coordinator for information regarding the specific courses necessary for the completion of each option.

101 Wildland Fire Behavior (3)
Three hours lecture weekly. Prerequisite: Wildland Fire Technology 302.
Acceptable for Credit: CSU
A study of wildland fire behavior including influences and wildland fire environment factors that lead to making fire behavior predictions. Skills necessary to make spot fire behavior predictions will also be covered. (GR) (S)

102 Wildland Firefighter Safety and Survival (3)
Three hours lecture weekly. Prerequisite: Wildland Fire Technology 302.
An exploration of the situations ad conditions that result in fire shelter deployments, serious injuries and fatalities for wildland firefighters. (GR) (F)

103 Wildland Fire Operations (3)
Three hours lecture weekly. Prerequisite: Wildland Fire Technology 302.
Acceptable for Credit: CSU
An exploration of the command structure and operational processes for ground and air operations in the control of wildland fires. (GR) (S)

The three courses listed here are on-line courses available for registration right now. Several NWCG certificates can be obtained by completing these courses. Also, these are three of the core courses that are required for any of the three Wildland Fire Degrees offered by Allan Hancock College.

Here is a link to the AHC web site and page containing information on the Fire Technology Program.


Can you post this link and my email address as a contact?

I will develop a special information page and give you that link also in the next couple of days.

Dan Ardoin
Chief of Operations, Vandenberg Fire Department
Associate Faculty Member, Allan Hancock College 

01/29 To R-5 recruiter for fire:

THANKS for your post. It's people like you, who have figured out how to
use a VARIETY OF MEDIA and comms channels, for recruitment and PR and
news and communications, who will survive and flourish in the next few
years. High fives to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unfortunately for all of us, ALL the agencies are still behind the times
when it comes to effectively using what's available for all the above.
(I'm not even going to get started on the top two acronyms for
incompetency lately in this regard, those being ASAP and DOI.) It's
people like you who keep the agencies and programs and local units from
drowning in the overall agency inability to get with the real world!

I very much hope you participate in the Washington Post online
thing Wednesday. And yes, it's noon EASTERN TIME, so for you
left-coasters it would be 0900. Be there or be square.

01/29 Trainer, 

Well, Ill be dipped! Thats great! ...but...why are they only asking for any "refresher" type training and not what folks have put together for the canned S & I courses?


01/29 MGM, 

Your situation is unfortunate. But I feel you did the right thing. I would also say that those on your forest in the higher positions would agree as well. It takes someone with integrity and strength to stand up for what is right. It seems to me that in your situation the LEO may have acted to fast. One, as a witness, your name should have been kept private. A little more investigation should have been done first. Especially with a supervisor. A (random) drug test would have been much easier to do. Although I do agree working with this person (if he knows it was you) would be difficult. However, one thing in the forest service that is really not tolerated is reprisals. I would agree with Backburnfs, if you feel you need to move on, then do so proudly. But, if I where you, I would look into your union and ask where is your forest support?


01/29 "anon IHC guy" asked: <<How do they deal with slackers and
slugs? Get rid of them? Force them into compliance with fitness
standards? Help them along till they're fit enough to be safe and not be
a risk? I'd appreciate input from the non-hotshot folks on this subject.>>

The usual procedure on our (CDF) Inmate-Firefighter Crews (all Type 1) is to document poor performance until sufficient documentation exists to "roll them up". This is undoubtedly easier with inmate firefighters than it is with union-represented paid staff. Two levels of screening consisting of first Cal Dept. of Corrections rather liberal weeding-out process, then a bit more rigorous regimen at CDF's two-week training serves to eliminate the main slackers. Then it's up to the Captain

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande
01/28 I was reading the board and saw a comment about Los Padres NF in particular.
And I just want to send this out as a thank you to the folks over there.


If anyone needs help, the people who work recruitment there have been
wonderful to me! Heck, one of them is sending me the questions for the Form
C, which has been the source of my troubles to begin with.

01/28 Pappy said some interesting things about "if you aren't paying me you
can't tell me what to do" and how he tells crew members what he expects
and that he expects them to abide by that.

Along the same lines, I hear through the grapevine that some shot supes
were called on the carpet this year by the union about how they enforced
fitness standards, bringing up the not-new argument about how "if you're
not fit enough to stay up with the rest of the crew, then you're
endangering us all." From what I hear, a union rep or two didn't like
the idea that slackers were pushed hard-from a safety standpoint-into
either keeping up during PT or finding another line of work or getting
into shape enough to keep up and stop endangering others.

I know how this works in hotshot circles, and I have to say I agree with
that and disagree (for once) with the union, but I'm wondering how this
applies on other non-hotshot crews. How do they deal with slackers and
slugs? Get rid of them? Force them into compliance with fitness
standards? Help them along till they're fit enough to be safe and not be
a risk? I'd appreciate input from the non-hotshot folks on this subject.

anon IHC guy
01/28 Has anyone out there got any info on "Synergy2000?" Ran across their
application for "Wildland HotshotFire Fighters and Engine Crews" on the
internet. Never heard of them, so a little curious about them!
01/28 Been seeing some posts about training courses that folks have made and
where to make them available. NIFC is building a website to catalog these
training courses and here are the instructions.

Home Grown Instructions


Hey trainer, did you supply the title or is that the way the instructions came? In light of the current discussion, it seems wonderfully ironic. Ab.

01/28 Hello Everybody,

I hope that you are all enjoying your "Slow" time of the year. I have been reading this ongoing talk about what you can and can't do while on assignment while your are not getting paid. Often you hear talk on crews about "if you aren't paying me you can't tell me what to do". I tell my crew people exactly what I expect from each of them at the beginning of the year and each and every day. I also tell them that they will hear other people say that I can't tell them what to do unless I am paying them and that technically they are right, BUT, it is also my choice who I will or won't take responsibility for on off-district assignments. If they choose to not respect my wishes they will not go off again with me. NO Exceptions!!! So far it has been very effective.

On the hiring process...BEWARE!!!! I recently heard that two guys I know recently certed out as GS-8's "on the demo certs" and last year they worked as a 4 and 5 and neither are even crew boss rated. Apparently the new process is easy to manipulate. Just wanted to issue a warning to all unsuspecting employers out there. Take care and have a great day!!

Thanks for the ongoing service AB, your time and dedication is really appreciated.

Be Safe,

Thanks Pappy. Ab.

01/28 Firescribe,

In regard to your comments about hiring and recruiting. We on the Los Padres National Forest have an active recruitment program going on right now. We have had three open houses on the Forest this year already, we have outreached to 100s of people in a short amount of time.

We advertise on the net, newspapers and by foot, posting fliers. We have helped out people from all over the US having problems with the ASAP process, by sending them information by the Internet and by mail. We do all this while working off our fire budget and having limited funding for advertisement and supplies. We started our recruitment program last year and have watched it grow and bring in quality people who love working for the agency.

Give everybody a reminder before the session starts, I think there will be a big turnout due to the questions and comments we get everyday.

Please don't take from my comments that I think our Forest is better then all the rest. We are just trying to do something to help out the Agency and show how much we really care and love our jobs. I hope there will be a big turn out for this on-line discussion. I too think there is a big need for recruitment.

R-5 recruiter for fire

Recruitment doesn't help if the application and hiring process is screwed up. This Ab thinks there is a big need for a better hiring process out of Boise/WO. Of course we need all others to keep up the  good work as well. Programs like yours help.

01/28 MGM, 
Sorry things didn't work out the way they should have, my opinion is
you did the right thing. If you are getting backlash for doing the right
thing that is just as bad as the original offense and you should go to the
Union and make a grievance, doesn't sound like you have anything to loose.

If you are already convinced that the best thing to do is move on then go
for it, maybe you will get to work on a unit hat has some integrity. Our
justice system is imperfect but it is still better than the other 99% of
the world, think about how the LEO guys must feel when the bad guys get off
on a technicality

I hope you can stop second guessing yourself and realize that you stood for
something and you tried to make a difference. I know a lot of people out
there respect you for the decision you made and would be happy to have a
person with your convictions and guts working with them. Hang in there.

01/28 I want to second what SoCalCapt has said about Foresters and Fire Wardens. I have been going to this little conference for 20 years and I have met many of the Luminaries of the wildland fire business in a small setting and the presentations are always current and pertinent to us knuckle-draggers. And in many cases I have found Chiefs and Agency heads etc to be very approachable under these conditions. So if you live anywhere south of Fresno I highly recommend it, its worth the drive and you can't beat the price for what you get.

Captain 1835
01/28 Does the government need to revamp its hiring practices? Can it recruit
the talent it needs to replace the thousands of employees who will
retire over the next four years? The Washington Post will host
Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, with an
online session for questions and comments at noon Wednesday on Federal
Diary Live at www.washingtonpost.com - maybe the troubles with
firefighter hiring could gain a wider audience and a possibility for
solution if some fire people joined this session and posted questions
and comments to Stier and the Post.


Is that Eastern time? Could you please send in a reminder on Wed morning? Ab.
01/28 Thanks for your input: This happened at the end of the 2001 season:

To make a long story short, I found overhead with a bag of weed, I went to his boss, it ended up at the Law Enforcement Level with me having to sign a report and be a Witness. The accused was given a Citation and Fired for this offense.

Both of these were later changed because of lack of evidence (my seeing it was apparently not enough to the Union guy but was to the LE), so it was fought and he ended up winning and now *I* am the one having to transfer off my forest because I'd still have to work around this person who happens to be a squad leader.

Was it worth it after the outcome? Being the crew narc or doing this in the best interest of my crew.

My opinion now, should have left it (i know this is not right) and just worked under him second guessing all of his orders.


01/28 The Southern California Assoc. of Foresters and Fire Wardens page has been
updated and has info on the upcoming conference and golf tournament.

Hope everyone has the chance to attend. Looks like great presentations again&
this year as well as the grueling and sometimes funny golf tournament.

It's not your typical conference. Take all of your REGULAR fire conferences
and add the wildland fire touch... You have to attend to understand... Hope
to see you all there....

Here's the link: http://users.tminet.com/rreiswig/ffw.phpl 

01/28 I love to smoke a little now and again. But if your puffing on Uncle Sam's
dime or his property, (and the last time I checked the crew buggy belongs
to him) you are toast. I also would never smoke on the line. I agree with
the others, if you can't stay sober for 14 days find something else to do.
Granted we don't make a lotta money, but to risk it for a buzz is stupid.
I've worked way to hard for this job to puff it away in the back of a crew
buggy. I think CDF has the right idea, pay portal to portal. No gray area

01/27 I would like to take a minute and recognize about 250 people that showed for the Krs Evans Fund bowling tournament in Oroville today. There were reps from 6 hotshot crews ( PNFIHC, TNFIHC, KNFIHC, MNFIHC, ENFIHC, RDDIHC) reps from Oroville City Fire and too many to mention friends, concerned citizens and retiree's (Yep, even Jim and Kathy Klump). The FWS sent in a generous contribution and the USFS Fire Academy students raised $800.00.

A big congrats to Joann Mathews and Rich Simon for the idea and to all the others (you know who you are) for the extra effort.

Who say's we're not a family. God Bless............


Ab adds, if anyone would like to send in a contribution, the address is
Krystofer Evans Fund
c/o Placer Sierra Bank
P.O. Box 780
Quincy, CA 95971

01/27 Winter is fickle in Southern California. 

500 firefighters responded to a 120 acre brush fire in the Cleveland National Forest/Orange County during the last few days. Starting under heavy Santa Ana winds, the fire briefly threatened 40 historic cabin structures in Holy Jim Canyon. Fortunately, the fire was deep in the bottom of Trabuco Canyon and winds were erratic. The steep terrain shielded the fire from direct 50 mph winds and this alleviated what could have been catastrophic spread in heavy chaparral fuels. Firefighters from the Orange County Fire Authority led the initial attack. Due to the off-fire season, the Forest Service mustered over 24 hours. 

In addition to Orange County, the fire was was staffed with resources from CDF and Los Angeles County Fire. Six helicopters including LA County's new black hawk chipped in. Proving once again, Southern California can have a 13 month fire season. According to one senior LA County Crew Supervisor, "It may have been small but It's all we got!" 

Since it looks like rain outside today, this memory will have to keep us all going till season begins again in the spring.

Contract County Guy

01/27 MGM,

Bottom line, as Government employees it is against policy/illegal to do any illicit drugs while on duty, period. This is a fireable offence, zero tolerance. I have dealt with these issues a few times with coworkers. The problem is that folks do this in the off season, then it becomes after work, then it's around the corner on lunch to on a secluded part of a fire. As an agency, it has taken us several years to get past the druggy look and be recognized as a professional organization. but, it takes a small few to ruin that image. Not to mention the safety aspects of working with someone who's thought process is impaired when quick actions are needed. Your best action is to talk to your supervisor in private. But don't expect immediate results. With everything, observations and documentation need to be followed through. Most likely your not the only one on the crew who feels as you do. Do yourself, your coworkers and the agency a favor, report it.

As far as off the clock on fires goes, the only real control supervisors will have is Portal to Portal. So if you're not involved with FWFSA join NOW!

01/27 One last shot at the MEA. It sounds as if this is indeed age related and maybe a class action law suit by all parties should be made by the American Civil Liberties Union. In Fed- Week last year I read that the Dept. of State was letting all of their converted temps. buy all of their time back that was accumulated after 1988. If this is true then it has set a legal basis for letting all federal temp. workers buy theirs back as well. I hope it is so because too many good, reliable, and skilled valuable employees are getting screwed by the system.

Hope all are chillin well over the winter.
RH in Medford
01/27 The number one thing, is "weed" (haven't heard that term since the
seventies) is illegal no matter when, where or your excuse for using it.
As for the drinking, it's all according to how much you drink and when.
If you are on-call and can return to the fire at any time, it is totally
off limits. If you have at least 12 hours before you're back on the
fireline, a beer or two is probably ok. But, I did say a beer or two.
Not falling-down staggering-drunk beer drinking. Hangovers aren't good
on the fireline either. 

If you are using drugs and not seeking help right now, you
don't belong in this business at all. You need to pull back
and get help before your life falls apart. You are a severe safety
hazard not only to yourself, but all those around you.

If you can't drink in moderation, you don't belong on the fireline either. It's
just another bad addiction you need help for. Whether under the influence
of drugs or alcohol, you are a liability to your crew, Mgt, and all others
who depend on you, INCLUDING YOUR FAMILY. Those of us who
have families are depended on by them. Why would you want to break
your family's hearts and trust for a little high times. It isn't worth it.
There are lot worse jobs out there, and if you get caught and fired due
to illegal drug use, you will be lucky if you can get a job shoveling
horse crap at a run down stable. It will follow you for life. Be smart
and don't throw your life away supporting a trafficker. The money you
give him may end up buying more drugs for his next stop. Where is that
next stop, could it be our kids bus stop or school yard? Don't destroy
yourself and your loved ones. It's not worth anything.


01/27 From Firescribe: What in blazes has the Phoenix fire chief done? Create a model for managers. 


01/27 And There I Was,

Which is it, "what you do after hours is up to you" or "working on the line you need to be at your best"? 

For debating discussion, if you are doing drugs off duty on fires your whole crew should be sent home immediately no questions asked. What you will find is the other guys on the crew are not going to be to happy with you and you will probably get a beating for costing them money and DISRESPECTING the crew.

Wake up everybody who says it's OK to do what you want on fires when you are off duty. You are a guest to the people who live in those towns we visit each summer, you work for a respectful profession so act like it, not only do you disrespect the crew you are with, but you disrespect the agency and the people who work here.

If you have that much of a need to smoke weed while you are gone on fires, like I have read here already, look for a different profession, period end of story.

01/27 Eric PW,

All we hear is talk, nothing substantial. The question is "are there going 
to be cutbacks" is the same kind of question as "when is the first project 

We heard there was a proposal to cut all WA State employees salaries by 5%, 
don't see that happening yet. But anything is possible....Stay tuned.

01/27 hey
 i went to the open house in Santa Maria CA to hear about the 2002 FireFighting season and they were real helpful. Michael S. is a great guy. Los Padres forestry is a place to work.
01/26 Backburnfs,

I'm past the age of being able to die young also but I also don't want to
die old and miss all the winter hours with the new grandbaby. I love my
job driving fire crews but am uneasy sometimes with what what I know
probably goes on with SW and other crews. I wish we had drug testing
so I didn't have to play cop - wonder whether I should play cop. It's weird
to think you might get stabbed to death because of a disagreement with a
drunk crew boss - or one on drugs.

I understand why MGM asked the question about pot on their crew. I
think those of us in other roles have trouble asking the same question for
other reasons. There is more than safety on the fire line at stake here.

Ab, thanks for the board and thanks for not posting my real name. And
yes - if I knew for sure that there was drug or alcohol use - I would speak
up. I have.

You're more than welcome. Ab.

01/26 Lo all.
Fist of the heavy snow is falling on my back yard. Have to cross Snoqualmie pass tonight too.

Was wondering if anyone has heard of any cutbacks at WADNR from the budget fallout. We Testified at senate hearings for the Natural resources committee in Olympia. They were talking reducing numbers then.

Have fun all, later
01/25 What you do after hours is up to you. If you are being paid portal to portal (24/7), or staying on Agency property, then they can regulate what you do. Even then I have seen those that get portal to portal pay imbibing when they were at their motel.

This has come up before when they have had closed fire camps and kept people from going into town. Out in the middle of nowhere this is not much of a problem, as the nearest bar is too far to walk to.

There has been discussion to pay portal to portal so there can be more control over folks while off duty, but it has only been discussion.

People will be people, get a few hundred together and there will always be problems. That said, working on the line you need to be at your best, not only for your own safety but also those around you. The work, heat, and terrain can result in accidents from fatigue (physical and mental) caused by the night before.

And There I Was
01/25 Joy, I am not looking to die young (oops, too late for that), but if
somebody is gonna kill me 'cause I narced them off for smokin' or drinkin'
then I guess I'll see Jesus a little sooner than I had planned.

I am not going to stop doing what I think is right so I can live a little
longer, that would make a guy a coward or hypocrite or something worse.

If we have come to that point in "civilization" then it's too late anyway,
and we might as well go Downhill-Indirect every chance we get and get it
over with.

But I don't think it is that bad yet, or, maybe it is and I am just too
dumb to know it.

01/25 Marijuana: I cannot believe this is even an issue!

What part of the phrase "Zero Tolerance" do you not understand?

Use illegal drugs and get fired.
End of discussion.

And don't go cryin' to the Union. They'll support management on this one.

01/25 Ab and Dana, I did a quick poll of what I have (both fire training and
prevention stuff) and it comes to ~35MB.

The frustrating part of this is that it doesnt have to be so difficult. I
dont think we have to wait for "someone" to do it "officially" (put together
ppt shows). The fact is that people are doing them now, all that needs to
be set up is a place to put them where people can submit what they have done
and have them available to download (take it as it is/for what its worth)
from the net. The only cost, from the government's side would be that
somebody would need to administer the stuff as it comes in and maybe do a
little quality/duplication control, definitely not a full time job.


Pulaski, I agree with you about how easy Boise could do it. Having them host such a library would be best. Right now we're OK on space. Let's continue to work on whether there are other ppts that we should put up as space allows. Thanks for the offer, Dana, we'll keep your option in mind when things get tight.

Someone who is working on a S-212 ppt wrote in yesterday asking about sawyer, swamper, chainsaw, cut tree pics. There are a few photos on the site here. We don't really want to add a whole lot more. But if those of you who teach 212 have some photos that you use in your ppts and are willing to share, please let me know.


01/25 Does anyone know how I can get ahold of an old FS video on fireline construction with chain saws? I looked in the video catalog and didn't see it. I have also heard some Saw Doggies are  making a new one this year. Anyone know about where to get either video?

Fire Wolf

01/25 I try to speak in absolutes as rarely as possible. Safety is one of those
situations where I feel more comfortable in doing so. When it comes to
substance abuse, whether your drug of choice is marijuana, alcohol or
whatever......these substances are banned from fire camp. Weed is illegal.
Put your social values aside and focus on safety. If you are willing to
compromise safety to protect your co-workers then please, get the hell
outta Dodge. If you are too afraid for your personal safety to call
attention to violations that could endanger others, then please take the
road home, and don't come back.

Some years back I was involved with a situation where there was evidence
beer was being consumed by some of our fly guys. The pilot (wanting to be
the "hero") claimed no crew members had been drinking, that the entire 12
pack was consumed by him the previous evening. The crew said they didn't
want to rat out the pilot. In the end, we sent them all home. I don't
want to fly with a drunk. I don't want anyone on the team that would
conceal that I was flying with a drunk.

There are some absolutes. Safety is one. Either comply or leave.

Old Fire Guy
01/25 Ab wrote:

Hopefully the govt will get some that meet NWCG standards up on one internet site one of these days.

hahahahahahahaha Seems to me they have to get any DOI fire site up first! Geesh. BTW, thanks for keeping up with linking to the rtf sit reports every Friday. It's great that the FS has picked up the ball on posting those.

On a more serious note:
Joy, I also heard about a marijuana-related murder on a large Klamath fire years ago when I was looking into Dick Blood's murder. Does anyone have more info on the Klamath or Blood murders?
Another question. How do you bus drivers out there decide what to report and what not to report. I'm sure you all see and hear lots of different things as you ferry crews around.


I'm glad you appreciated Ab's humor. Best go see if the weekly sit report is out now and change the links page. OK, new one is up. Ab.

01/25 Pulaski,

re: ppt programs
I agree that the Govt. (having all the resources it has purchased with our tax dollars) SHOULD be way ahead of us on providing ppt. training aids. But if we wait for the govt. to do it we may be too old to see any benefit...probably be obsolete by then anyway (both the ppt and self). If you can tell me how much space will be needed I may have a place to put them for public access that will not place an added cost/burden on the Abs. I am willing to be part of the solution.

Dana Linscott
01/25 OK, reefer is illegal, clearly, and its procurement even resulted in death of a bus driver (or some other support person?) on a large incident on the Klamath many years ago. Sorry for my imperfect memory. What about alcohol? Use by a Native American crew boss may have been involved in the death of the bus driver who opposed that use in Anderson CA two years ago. But those may be more extreme cases of use. What about casual alcohol use in barracks after official hours?

Maybe this is all more of a case by case determination with alcohol... So Backburnfs, how do you report something when the people you're fingering might do you in?

01/25 Hi Ab!

Its easy for everyone to get preachy "drugs are illegal, you should report
Honestly, its probably going to be a harder decision than that. These are
your coworkers, your buds, (no pun)
But consider this, if a couple of your partners get busted, even off duty,
can you do your job without them?? If they make up components of (for
example) a type six engine team, you will be left high and dry unable to
work because they were in jail.
I think I would consider discussing their recreational use with them and
mention how it might impact you and your income.
Especially if there is one of them you feel you can talk with privately.
If that failed then I would consider my other options.
With me, people either really like me or really don't. (Opening for cheap
shots) because I am outspoken. If you piss me off you won't hear about if
from some guy who heard it from your buddy who heard it from... etc. I will
take you aside and address it man to man. Once dealt with its forgotten.
Step up, confront (not hostilely, just bluntly honest) your coworker, and then
deal with it. Yes, if this is uncomfortable for you do speak with your
supervisor... and follow all the other advise already given.

Good Luck Dude.
Flash in Fla
01/25 Hey Pulaski, I've thought about shifting my moniker to tractor plow. Abbette.
01/25 -US FEO: Hey, even if it was sarcasm aimed at me...'ah dont give a hoot! .. It would just bounce off my callused skin. ...and don't fret US FEO, its the same pile everywhere, just a different color or not as many layers (or more).

- My point was, all this "stuff" should be in one place instead of searching all over blazes for it. Yes, They Said has a great collection of photos and a modest pot of ppt programs. BUT, the Ab family has enough to do just keepin this site up to date (all for free for the users I might add) and (I feel at least) it should be a govt agency (the ones who put together and require the training) who should provide this not a private group.

- RE: MGM and the wacky weed question. Whats been said as a reply fits the bill, the only thing I have to add is that if a person cant go without their favorite illegal vice for a couple of days or weeks, mebbe they should look for a different job. ....I hear McDonalds is lookin for help.

-The age issue: Like everything else in life its not a black and white issue. I feel for the folks who have put years in as a seasonal. (and ya, I was one of those who gave up in the 80's and went elsewhere as the USFS was in the big hiring drought). There was a comment somewhere about the "old geezers" (My term, meant in fun so nobody get your knickers in a knot) should get out to bring in the fresh blood. Excellent points have been made by many different folks on all aspects of this age/retirement issue. Bottom line to me is back to the individual, and as I said its not black and white. In the past 5 years or so in my area I can look at two individuals who have retired. To one I felt grateful that he pulled the plug as soon as he could as he had pretty much been retired for a long time anyway and didn't "mentor" one iota to the younger guys. The other person I cringed that he decided to go as he was a tremendous leader and mentor.

-Ab, Really?? People have wanted my name?? HA oh well... I have entertained changin it to somethin else but am cautious of the local teasin, pimping etc if I use a name closer to home.

And while I'm on the anonymous nickname theme...(and this is directed to you iceman, as you whined about it a while ago) I see nothing wrong and even benefits to remaining anonymous on the board. I can see some MGT types making life difficult for those who openly discuss/slam touchy subjects here and some folks just don't want to get the ribbing from peers for posting on the board. I have posted with my real name, agency when needed or appropriate but I like not having to expose myself if I'm not of the mind too.

Well..sheesh! ..this is way to long...and nobody can make heads or tails of it anywho.
Thanks for the great site/service Abs!!


Thanks for the thanks Pulaski and thanks for your help. Powerpoints take up a lot of room and will probably be the first thing to go when we get into a space crunch. In the meantime, it's OK to have them here. Hopefully the govt will get some that meet NWCG standards up on one internet site one of these days. Ab.

01/25 Several people offered or sent in the lces ppt. Thanks Pulaski, NorCal Tom and FtBragg. I put up a version from 2000. Luckily it is a small one. Thanks also to Hickman for the S131. Ab.
01/24 Here's an online article reviewing actions on and after Sept 11 in NYC. It says wildland fire teams working there after 9/11 knew how to manage such a large incident and the key is the Incident Command System. I know wildland fire training helped me be a better IC. The part of the article about how well the teams managed the incident in NYC makes me proud to know and learn from Wildland folks.


Thanks for writing in CAFSman. The Lessons Learned stage... Ab.

01/24 MGM.

If I am not mistaken Marijuana is still an illegal drug, therefore if
you're smoking it on or off the fireline it is a law enforcement as well as
a safety and moral concern.

CDL rules say that you have to take a drug test before you get your
license. After you get one you are subject to random testing so that takes
care of a lot of people's urge to get loaded, since it could have some
definite affect on your being able to hold a license to drive heavy

I think the DOI requires all firefighters to submit to a drug test before
they get hired, but I could be mistaken.

That leaves the rest of the firefighters, State, Contract and Federal (FS)
out there untested and on their honor not to be using drugs (including
alcohol) when they are working, driving or hanging around firecamp or the
station after hours.

I tell my crewpeople that they are representing the Govt., themselves and
more importantly "THE CREW" when they are on the road. If they can't go 14
days without needing to drink, snort, smoke or shoot-up their favorite
intoxicant, they need to find another line of work.

If they show up to go on a dispatch after drinking I will leave them home.
If they get caught doing ANY illegal activity (including drugs) I will just
let the Law Dogs deal with them, people gotta be responsible for the
choices they make and I don't have time to be their baby-sitter.

If one of my co-workers comes to me because they want help with their
substance abuse problem before they get busted, fired or dead I will go out
of my way to see that they get treated with the respect they deserve and do
everything I can to help them.

May sound a bit tough but it ain't the 70's and we all gotta grow up

01/24 MGM,

Report drug use right away to your supervisor. The supervisor will gather information and hopefully will get documentation and all the ducks lined up before acting so there can be a serious consequence. The Forest Service does not do random drug tests, so we need to be on our toes. In the past for drug use reported to me, I let my ranger know and informed the LEO who took over. Marijuana is an illegal drug. (Some rangers or personnel people may not want to bring in the law right away but I think it necessary.)

With drugs on the job, on the way home or in the barracks, here's what I understand happens these days. It can be a process and requires 2 trained evaluators. People on our forest are having training prior to this next season so this evaluation part is a new and untried process for me. 

After a person is reported... two fire supervisors do a quick evaluation (eyes, coordination, etc). These evaluators must have a 2-3 hour training and be certified evaluators - capts, divs, bat chiefs who ever is above the person. If the person is deemed under the influence, they go in for a drug test (urine test). I think there must be permission from the Regional Office for that. The system takes it from there.

I encourage you to speak up. People who do drugs on the job or in transit put themselves and their crew at risk. For safety sake we all need to be responsible for our actions and speak up on the wrong actions of those around us. We need to be able to depend on each other. You can speak to your supervisor privately.

Fire Wolf

01/24 Great Safety Message, author unknown:

I Chose To Look The Other Way

I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.
It wasn't that I didn't care,
I had the time, and I was there.

But I didn't want to seem a fool,
Or argue over a safety rule.
I knew he'd done the job before,
If I called it wrong, he might get sore.

The chances didn't seem that bad,
I've done the same, he knew I had.
So I shook my head and walked on by,
He knew the risks as well as I.

He took a chance, I closed an eye,
And with that act I let him die.
I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.

Now every time I see his wife,
I'll know I should have saved his life.
That guilt is something I must bear,
But it isn't something you need to share.

If you see a risk that others take,
That puts their health or life at stake,
The question asked, or the thing you say,
Could help them live another day.

If you see a risk and walk away,
Then hope you never have to say,
I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.

01/24 MGM,

I have never been put in this situation before but here is what i think.
I think that if what they are doing affects their work effort it should be
reported through the chain of command. If at anytime there is any safety
issue involved i would act on it immediately. If it is not affecting
anything (except breaking the law) i would leave it be because reporting it
would not help the crew get along. I hope that that might help a little.

stay safe
01/24 I just put up the new revised version of Part 1 of S-190 on the Programs page. Thanks Pulaski for your revisions. It's half the size of the original. Also put up the 10-slide ppt review of I-100, intro to ICS. Again, compliments of Pulaski.

Unfortunately the DOI site is down so there is no access to the LCES course via our programs page. If anyone needs that one, you can write in here and perhaps we can put you in touch with someone who has it from last year. Ab.

01/24 I guess my sarcasm wasn't obvious, it wasn't directed at Pulaski more at the fact that once again an outside source had provided the solution to a problem the government hasn't even acknowledged yet. Basically the programs page and photos page does what Pulaski was suggesting, give the feds a few more years and they will probably start a committee to evaluate methods of power pointing training. The Federal Government should be leading the way we certainly have the ability and resources but unfortunately our wonderful leadership is content to follow in the wake of others.

01/24 Was curious on everyone's input on Marijuana smoking among firefighter during the season on AND off work hours.

The crew i worked for this year seemed to think it was okay so smoke after work and on the way home from fires.

What are your responses to this, and what would you do if you confronted this situation. IE catching your crewmember doing this?

01/24 Mr. Mouse,
In order to best simulate the likely condition of a chain saw in use I filled the tank about 3/4 full. I don't think it matters much though as my real point was that anyone standing by or passing near a "tossed" saw when it actually reaches the critical temperature needed to "burst into flame" is either already aflame themselves or superman. I don't want to discourage firefighters from thinking about each others welfare but at the time when you need to consider "should I drop and run" I don't want you to consider anything else for very long. In general we tend not to run away from fire but rather to hang around a bit too long for our own good. No one will shed tears over   chainsaw that burns up if firefighters decide its' time to run for their life. On the other hand we all die a bit when we hear the words "firefighter fatality". Of course if you are throwing a few saws away every season...it may be time to look for a new line of work.

How "large" are these Powerpoint files? I may have a free place on the web to stick them.

01/24 Climber

My advice is always talk to the people in the areas you are interested in working. For choosing locations there are two ways to go, call various places and see what kind of reaction you get, if they don't have many openings (or can't give you a decent answer) or if they are not interested because of your lack of experience then don't waste a block on them. On the other hand you can pick the places you would like to work and then talk to those locations so they know you're interested. When the applications are being sorted through its just a jumble of names, a few stand out due to some peculiarity (experience, odd job, an unusual name etc), if you have talked to someone where you want to work they at least have a face (or at a voice) to go with your application, this year we only had 1 of 5 positions filled when hiring started, of the four remaining 3 of those were hired because they called (and called and called) and talked to the Captain, this showed interest, at the very least they may hire you just to get you to leave them alone. As Mellie said don't waste a block on 999, it looks like it means "I will work anywhere" but it actually only puts you on a list if a location can't fill a roster with people that actually picked that location (I believe a location has to have less than 30 people on the list to go to 999).

The C form mix up is disappointing, we had several people locally who were given last years instructions, the wrong C form or the Temp application instead of the Demo. I can't believe this can be so difficult for Boise and the Forests to figure out, but I'm guessing once again we will be well into fire season before crews start filling out, why doesn't this process start in October or November so there's time to work bugs out.

Government.... Sense..... I think thats an oxymoron.

BTW there is a lovely collection of digital images on this site. I like your idea though, seems like NWCG should put converting the classes to powerpoint fairly high on their list of priorities, much better use of resources than that checklist to remind you to check your 10/18 checklist that you might be in trouble if.... that just came out. I mean really how hard could it be, hire a temporary GS4 to type the stuff up, get a few people who bleed really green to volunteer to go through the materials and voila, much better than having each forest and district duplicate efforts.

If Forest Service employees bleed green, then do BLM'rs bleed yellow and Parkies white? Any BLM or Parkies out there?

Have to say on the age thing, if we will allow people to work 20+ years as seasonals without benefits then allowing somebody over 37 to make the decision to accept a partial pension at 57 seems like it would only be fair (at least its their decision then) 10-15% of a wonderful government salary is still better than 0% of one (plus all the extra money spent on benefits the government didn't help out with). Better yet, how about reinstating the program (cut in 1988) to allow seasonal time to be bought back, at least it would reduce the number of people affected by the MEA. Why can we allow seasonals and non fire people over 57 on the fireline but not Permanent fire folks? In 2000 I was on a fire working for a Division Sup from Ventura County, I'm not sure how old he was but he told me he had been in fire for something like 38 years, he looked about 100 but he could hike better than most of the 20 year olds I had on the crew.

On the topic of retirement I just figured this out, under FERS we pay in 1.7% towards our retirement, when we retire we get 1.7% times the number of years worked up to 20 years and 1% for each year after. Were just getting our money back with 20 years and losing money after that (yes this is 1.7% of high three but its been in the bank for 20 years earning interest). What kind of deal is that, CalPers (most common California Fire Department retirement) is paid by the employer and pays either 2% or 3% at age 50 times the number of years worked (not reduced after 20 years of service). No wonder were losing people, if I left I could still retire at 50 and make more money based on less years worked. Less money and less retirement, Arrrgh this really makes a jackass indicator go off in my brain.

EH, I really like the NI Fire "Fire triangle" Logo you did, it would make a nice emblem for a national fire service if such a thing ever came to pass.


(pssssst FEO, aside from the Original Ab, Pulaski is one of the oldest posters here. Some of the earliest photos on the photo pages are his. He sent in a few of the powerpoints that we have on the programs page. He suggested books for the book page... Many have wanted his moniker. Sorry, already taken!)

01/23 Hello All,

It is 10pm on the West Coast. There is a 150 acre fire on the Cleveland National Forest at this time burning out of control with voluntary evacuations in place. Santa Ana's are 30-40 mph with gust up to 60 mph.

Keep your heads up and be safe.
01/23 Climber,

Definitely DO NOT enter 999 as the geographic code. If you do, you will be the last to be offered a job. Doesn't seem logical, seems like the flexible person should get a good break, but doesn't happen that way.

I'm fairly sure that all forests out west hire temp summer firefighters. Different areas burn at different times. Arizona (Region 3) burns in the early spring and then the monsoons come. California (Region 5) -- norCal starts burning in June or July and can continue until November while soCal gets Santa Ana winds that fan the flames in the fall/winter. Some areas of CA burn more than others and you may be likely to see more action in some places than in others, but all crews in norCal were busy last summer. Shasta Trinity NF, Six Rivers NF, Plumas NF, Modoc NF, all those places saw action. But so did a lot of CA forests and so did many other western forests from WA and ID to NV, UT and AZ.

Here's how I'd tackle it. I'll use CA as an example, since I know it well. First, I'd go to the R5 Fire and Aviation website www.fire.r5.fs.fed.us and look at the state map of the national parks. If you click on the name, you may get the forest's fire website. Some links are broken, like to the Angeles. Some forests don't have fire web sites yet. But some present some good info. There are pictures of the environment and information about fire. Do they have trees or brush? Is it really hot and dry? How steep? How populated? Get a feel for some locations, if coming to CA is a possibility for you.

Also go to the page of CA fires, 2001. It includes some Oregon and Washington fires if they had a website with photos. (There are links to both these sites on wildlandfire.com's links page under Federal Agencies and Miscellaneous.) Browse through the fire photos, connect them with forests. This might start to narrow your search, say from all of CA to some places in CA, as an example. 

Now I don't know what other regions have in the way of fire websites and organized fire photos, but theoretically you could use this approach to get a feel for any area. Once you narrow down your options, get on the phone and call some forests listed on the FS Fire Jobs Locations page. Ask them how much fire they see, what their fire season is and if the crew gets to fight fire off forest. Tell the person you're speaking with that you don't know the area. I'm sure they'd be willing to tell you about it.

Then really decide where you're willing to work. Don't put in a code of any place you're not willing to move to for the summer. You may get offers from every place you list!

Anyone have other ideas?  It's too bad the BLM and NPS sites are down...
Ok, that's all from me for now. Good luck.

01/23 Hi there, 

I'm filling out an application for the first time and I'm to the Geographic Availability Section. I am wondering if it's a good idea or a bad idea to fill out one of the 9 slots as code 999 "go anywhere" or if I'm better off using it to apply to a specific crew. I have no fire experience, so I'm trying to give myself the best chance of getting on a crew. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


01/23 OK, OK, ..Ive been quiet too long I guess and have had to bite my lip
several times in the past few months with the topics that have crossed the
board. Soooo here is a new (at least I havent seen it tossed around here)
issue. Most everybody either has or has access to the microsoft power point
program as well as at least a small personal collection of digital photos.
Why cant someone, somewhere have a public depository of training and
prevention programs and photos available for public use. I will bet this
years salary that there are a ton of folks across the nation that have or
are putting together programs that would be useful to any number of
agencies or locations with a small bit of adjusting. The BLM site that had
the photo library was an excellent start, and I know that the NWCG had a
number of ppt programs on their site available for download. But it seems
that this is still a hunt and search to find what you want operation. Would
seem to make too much sense to me to have a central depository/library that
is available to everybody that they could load and modify to fit their
situation. Ive been fighting with this issue on a local level as well but
have yet to see any movement and I'm tired of reinventing the wheel when I
know other folks are doing the same thing.

..oh yea, I know why it probably wont happen....if its all free nobody will
be able to make a buck off it... (geez, I hope I'm wrong)

01/23 Fireronin (Re: Drop & Go Chainsaws)

In your highly scientific dissertation of 01/18 you advised you filled the gas tank of the seized up chainsaw before you pyro-ed it. Do you recall if the tank was topped off or only partially full? ----- Thanks.

The Honorable Mouse.
01/23 From Firescribe,

An article on the town meeting about the Potrero Fire near San Diego that occurred after CDF had downsized fire staff this fall. FS is blamed by one homeowner for not trying to save his burning house.

An informative summary of the far-reaching impacts due to the closure of the DOI web:

Re the DOI web blackout: All Ab can add is that you can see the tremendous impact on DOI fire jobs. Just compare the number of fire jobs in the current 455 series (range tech fire, largely BLM, NPS, BIA) with the number in the 462 series (forestry tech fire which include some DOI agencies, but more Dept of Agriculture USFS fire jobs). There are usually somewhat more forestry tech fire jobs, but 2.5 times as many as range? That's a huge difference. Will there be workforce shortages in BLM, NPS and BIA? Will our BLM, NPS, BIA lands burn hotter and larger this next season because of reduced workforce? Stay tuned.

01/23 Ab,
I won't take the time to paraphrase my first email of what was said on the CDF board. I think from your and other replies that matt got the message. Tim, another poster there, admitted that there was more than one Devil Fire. Maybe he was afraid of the consequences of a phone interaction with you. Son of Sluggo, who is also part of our community here, set the record straight on what theysaid stands for, the kind of information that is shared and the role Ab plays. Thanks Sluggo Jr. Couldn't have said it better.


01/23 Hey all,

I was just talking to my father who was at a terrorism committee meeting. At
the meeting a chief from the New York Fire Department gave them a briefing
about the September 11 attacks. He said that the Wildland fire crews that
came in to help were willing to do anything and were one of the greatest
assets that they used. He said that they should have called them sooner and
more people should know about them and use them.

Keep up the good work everyone, and stay safe

01/23 Gordon,
Thank you...that is the most succinct explanation of why those over 37 need to be protected from accepting a permanent fire position with reduced pension. It seems that the 1% per year computation of pensions is the real culprit rather than age though. It implies that those in charge expect to get 100 years of service out of permanent position FFs before they retire with a full pension. How patently absurd to propose such a prorate plan let alone let it stand in the way of having the most efficient, prepared, and safe force of firefighters possible. I wonder how long it would last if it applied to Senators, Representatives or heads of Govt. agencies?

More realistic would be minimum 2.5% per year based on a career FF that joined up at 20 and served his/her entire career till 57 as a firefighter. Hmm...20 yrs= 50%. One might even factor in the years that one served as a temporary firefighter. That would be a bargain for both the "Older Firefighters" and the Govt. What is the logic of calculating partial pensions on a nonsensical 1% per year rate? Maybe that is the problem...expecting logic to come into play. I've been in the private sector too long to work with the artificial make believe rules of "govt. service". It is a sad commentary when the beancounters run any organization using formulas that have no relationship with reality what so ever and those whose positions imply the status of "in charge" are so uncertain of what reality is that they dare not challenge the beancounters version of it. We need people at the top who are as willing to lay their (political) A**es on the line to get their job done just as much as the folks on the bottom do when they respond to a fire dispatch. In a business based on quickly solving problems created by rapidly changing conditions via risk taking it seems perverse that those at the top seem so averse to this concept while those at the bottom have no choice but to accept it.

NorCal Tom,
You have an excellent point about those at the top having more pressing problems. I imagine that if they can't get the basic hiring process to even appear to work after several years of trying their best, less important things like losing their experienced firefighters must pale in comparison. <sigh> I suppose I should just stop dreaming that govt. entities will ever approach something  resembling the efficiency of private enterprise. Of course with a deepening recession, the growing budget deficit, and the military unavailable for firefighting duty for the foreseeable future maybe I should not give up so easily. I suppose minimum standards of efficiency and rules that at least appear to have a relationship with the economic principals of capitalism might soon be "in vogue" again soon.

Nah...if they can't even get applications to the folks who wish to fill the positions they urgently need filled I probably should not hold out much hope that anything less important will breach the circle of advisors of those "at the top". I wonder if they even know about that? I don't recall hearing an acknowledgment from the upper levels that this was a serious problem that had come to their attention. Being out of touch may not solve the problems...but at least it allows them to not lose sleep over them while they accumulate a cushy pension for a minimum of service to the country.

01/22 Heres some more for the current photo frenzy. The Case Mtn. Fire picture is
from 1987, the SP2H is from 1996, (dont remember the fire) and the Crane
picture is from the Outlet Fire, Grand Cyn NP, 2000. Sting

Nice helo and AT photos, Sting. I put them on the Heli4 and the AirTanker3 pages. Ab.

01/22 Howdy, really like your site, it's very interesting and informative...I would
like to submit a couple of logos I designed some years ago. They are both
basically the same but also different...The philosophy behind them is based
on the fire triangle. You need fuel, heat and oxygen to have fire...I have
always felt that safety, teamwork and professionalism is needed to manage
fire. Anyway I designed these with that philosophy in mind. The national
Hotshot logo was adopted for the National Hotshot Conference which was held
in Mesa, Az in Feb 1992. The other logo was designed for all wildland fire
personnel. Thanks, and keep this site cruisin!


Thanks, I put em on the Logo5 page. Ab.

01/22 Thanks for the great post, Gordon, you give some fantastic insight into the management thought process. I'm sure those few who are over 37 and were hoping for a full time job will understand, and be forever grateful that the government is watching out for their best interests.

I can only suggest 3 things:
  • First, go back and read my original post, you'll find some novel suggestions. I believe there is a process already in place for employees to buy back temporary service time so that it can apply to their FERS retirement? Can't they do this with primary FF positions also?
  • Second, try thinking outside the box once in awhile.
  • Third, next time your in fire camp or on the line, look at all the folks that are over age 57. They happen to be in secondary FF positions, or other disciplines, or private contractors, and not held back by this stupid artificial barrier on personnel in primary FF positions. (Employees in secondary positions used to get more fire time than primary "homeguards", thankfully that has changed quite a bit with more homeguards allowed to travel.

    I know 3 ex FMO's, 2 district and one Forest, over 57, that are retired, but still work fires as contractors. One as a faller, one in overhead line positions, one in overhead team positions.
Sorry, but I have to include this, and its not directed at any one person... Freeman Dyson, one of our greatest physicists (read Starship and the Canoe) was asked if he ever wondered why he was so much smarter than everyone he was growing up with. He replied No, what he really wondered about was why everyone else was so dumb.

DA, R5
01/22 Gordon,

Thanks for the nuts and bolts financial analysis of the MEA. It is always good to have the beginning, bottom line information in evaluating a system and making any suggestions for change. Thanks Abs for the site to get the information.

DA said in a post in Dec that he thought the system hadn't changed because those who "could do something about it just don't care too much about it." I think this is true. And why don't they care?

They're very busy with other more pressing problems, like hiring, like training, like the budget... among other things. Maybe they can't wait to retire to escape attacks from people like us? Offered with tongue in cheek.

In addition, it's hard to change the status quo in major ways unless it is absolutely clear that the system is broken and must be overhauled asap. Or until enough people are yelling about it. Then the problem moves to top priority. Changing a system in place is often more difficult than creating the most efficient system from the beginning. From what I see on large fires, an alternative fire-hire system that suits the older firefighter is already in place. Some have gone to secondary fire positions or work in other disciplines needed by fire teams. Many have become contractors (where they make good money plus getting retirement pay). On the whole, those working in fire are intelligent and adaptive. They know that there is more than one way to create a fire budget or get that pulaski from the cache. They're great at the end run and creative problem solving, a sign of true groundpounding intelligence...

Similarly, for the intelligent and adaptable, there is more than one way to continue to fight fire after age 57. We see a lot of those old smart guys out there every summer. The only downside is that they often aren't afforded the status they deserve and some feel they have lost the status they had before retirement. Can they handle that? Most do. I don't hear much whining.

In any case, until fire employment alternatives for the over-57 firefighter are eliminated (and I'm not suggesting they should be because I'd like to take one of them when I reach 57), there will not be major pressure to eliminate mandatory retirement age or to raise the MEA again. Is it possible the system may be working as it should?-- maybe nothing is broken?

NorCal Tom

PS. WP, well not a politician, but I did get elected to a volunteer school board position once. I tenured out at first opportunity, luckily I didn't have to wait until 57.

01/22 Hey NC FF and all others dealing with a difficult USFS hiring process, here's
my story to add:

December (before Christmas), I call ASAP to get the Temp and Perm Demo
packages. Four Days later, I receive only the Temp. Not a problem, I still
have 3 weeks before the deadline for Perm Round 1. December 28, I call
Boise, they said they have no record of requesting a Perm package, but they
will send one out that afternoon. I wait a week. Nothing. I wait. On
January 8 I call to find out what is up. The woman that answered the phone
told me just to be patient, since I called on the 28th, the package probably
didn't go out until the 2nd of January. She told me to just wait. On the
10th, I called again. The same woman suggested that I go to my local Forest
Office to get the information and package materials. This sounds like a
sound idea at the time, but the following two days would prove otherwise.
On the 11th I called the nearest Ranger station office, up in Region 9, New
Hampshire, and am told they have form C, as well as all the other
information for the Perm positions and will hold a package for me to pickup
at a visitor center on Saturday. Saturday comes, I load up the Jeep and
drive the 3 plus hours to the visitor center. Upon arrival, I pick up the
package take one look at the C form Questions and grunt a sigh of pain- the
package is for Temp hiring. The person at the visitor center told me that
the questions were probably the same and to just use them. I didn't buy it,
and asked her to pull up the FS intranet to see if she could download the
correct information. The intranet was pointless-she couldn't log on. A
neighboring Ranger Station thought they had the correct questions, but after
faxing them over, I found that they too were the temp questions. We then
tried to log on to NICC or NIFC sites, but due to the affiliation with
DOI, the sites were closed down. I called the Southern Area Coordinating
Center (I actually called all of the centers, including Alaska, but Region 8
is the only one that picked up the phone) and asked the women down there in
Georgia for help with my dilemma. She tried for about an hour to find the
questions, but couldn't come up with the permanent form, only temporary.
I gave up. That night I went home and sent out the posting you will find
here in they said, screaming for help. I got a response from another Region
9er, only further out west, but the questions I was faxed on Monday were
still only the Temporary. I thought ok, it's Monday the 14th, no more
chance. I called Boise, explained my problem to two different people, and
finally someone gave in and emailed me the Form C questions (I had received
Form C from the Ranger District) for the Permanent Demo Positions. Using a
resume format and after receiving all appendices from the ranger district, I
FedExed my App in Overnight to meet the Deadline.

Lessons I learned:
  • BE VERY ASSERTIVE. You probably know more about what you
    are looking for than the person looking for it.
  • DON'T GIVE UP. Persistence paid off.
    are going to continue to use this format, the FS needs to make all forms
    available online from any computer. Their inability to track when and if
    hiring packages have gone out is very scary. I STILL HAVEN'T
    RECEIVED MY DEMO PACKAGE that I ordered. You can't blame
    every mistake on the Postal Service.
Also- I hope fires are not as mismanaged as this process. People will be
getting lost, falling between the cracks, and being left for the flames.
What can be done to help the FS change this deplorable hiring process?


Ab note: I am not posting all the job questions, comments and horror stories that come in on theysaid, but JT is not the only one reporting serious problems. There is a big glitch again this year with the hiring process. Job seekers, be persistent.

01/22 hay ab 

i'm new to this site. I was wondering if you know any thing about the idaho blm (shoshone) twin falls area fire program, i guess the engine program. ive heard that there engine academy is outstanding, i guess i wanted to hear your thoughts about their academy.


If anyone wants to write in, we'll pass the info along. Ab.

01/22 If you can stand one more comment on MEA:

There is a very good reason for max entry age. As noted before you cannot
get 20 years in before mandatory retirement. You can say now you are
willing to accept a partial pension, but your opinion will change as you
near the magic age of 57.

To qualify for the firefighter pension formula you need a minimum twenty
years of covered service. If you have only 19 years service (57 minus 38)
you will not qualify for the firefighter formula. Your pension will be
computed under the regular FERS formula of 1% per year of service. That
means after 19 years of firefighting your pension will be only 19% of your
high-three salary -- a pretty small amount. I calculate that if you started
as a GS-5 (RUS rate) and averaged a 5% salary increase every year your
pension would at most be around $800 to $900 per month in current (inflation
adjusted) dollars. You would be pretty bummed out if that was all you were
getting. You may be able to arrange staying in until you had exactly twenty
years and qualify for the firefighter formula, but that still only gives you
34%, and you are not guaranteed you will be allowed to stay; approval is on
a case-by-case basis.

You will have the TSP fund in addition to the pension, but you still have
only 19 years of contributions. To make up the difference you would have to
contribute the maximum amount possible every year, which would reduce your
current take-home pay to a low level.

You may not think so now, but the government is doing you a favor to cut you
off at age 37. The alternative is to be forced out with only a pittance of
a pension.

If you still want to make the government a career, apply for a non-fire job
(with no maximum age and a faster career ladder) and keep up your fire quals
to get as many assignments as you want. You may be better off in the long

01/22 Just heard a rumor that Pierce would be producing ALL of the new Model 62
engines on the upcoming contract. Has anyone else heard this. The source
seems reliable. I for one, would be glad to have Pierce make my next engine
since the two I've had over the last 10 years (Capt. and FEO) were both BME.
The BME product idea was fair, but there are no two identical Model 62's. I
worked on two sister Model 62's FS6330 and FS6331.

Both were possessed by the devil.

When you compare the plumbing on each they are similar but vastly different
when you had to make repairs. Every flex hose is a different size from unit
to unit, every length of pipe is different from unit to unit. Obviously they
were individually built, great idea if they came perfect and had no
problems. Bad idea if you ever have to get replacement parts.

I also understand BME has had problems since the beginning of the Model 62
keeping up to contract standards and delivery schedules. Its still a problem
since on our Forest, an engine will be almost a year overdue if BME delivers
it on the new promised date. Sucks to be them. They are driving an old Model
60 engine that I had in the mid eighties.

When I had my first new Model 62 delivered (boy it looked pretty), it came
with all the plumbing loose. The installer had started all the nuts on the
hangers but didn't tighten them. Also, the top compartments had the latch
hardware sitting inside. They didn't even take the time to finish the
installation. An aftermarket air line was crimped and later melted next to
the turbo. Pieces were missing everywhere. These engines were delivered
overdue and were obviously shipped out in haste to avoid contract issues. I
had the number 1 valve coupling hose fall off on a fire because it never had
a clamp installed. FS6330, FS6331, and FS6332 all had similar problems. Did
I mention the cracks forming in the fire body only a month after delivery?
(Damn tenth grade welding students). My new engines first season it was out
of service for 22 days.

Then comes the problem of contract inspection. I'll have to leave that one
for another day due to time.

01/22 The Federal Wildland Fire Service Association has updated their web page.
Its good reading and excellent info for Fed wildland firefighters.

www.fwfsa.org/newpresmess.phpl (Please title New Presidents Message)
www.fwfsa.org/faqs.phpl (Please title FWFSA FAQ's)
www.fwfsa.org (Please title FWFSA Main Page)


Readers, let me remind you that you can access FWFSA simply by clicking on the logo at the top of this page. Ab.

01/21 -NC FF,

That is not true about having rounds of hiring. The deadline for the first round of hiring just passed on the 15th of January, the second round ends on the 15th of February if I'm not mistaken. I would encourage you to get your resume or application done so when you get your C-form in the mail you can crank that out and send it off ASAP.

Remember this, make sure you send your package certified mail so they have to sign for it when the people in Boise get it. This will prove that your package made it and you have a name to go with it. You are not getting cheated out of a job, your package will get in on time for you to get a job.

Good luck and keep a positive attitude.
R-5 Recruiter
01/21 Hey North Carolina FF,

There are rounds of hiring-- 8 on the list for permanent fire jobs! The link to MEL Madness Schedule for hiring has been up on the Jobs Page since 11/30, along with some other information. Take a look. Seasonal temps are a different story. You just apply as soon as you can, as I understand it.

Deadlines for applications for Permanent Fire Jobs
Round 1 had to be postmarked by Jan 15.
Round 2 by March 1 according to the schedule (but I've heard Feb 15 too).

Permanent specialties include Hotshot, Handcrew, Engine, Helitack, Helishot, Fire Prevention/Patrol, and Fuels.

There was supposed to be more info out by Nov 30, so these dates might not be correct. I'll try to verify them or get new ones tomorrow when my contacts will be back at work. Maybe someone else reading here has the true schedule. In any case, hang in there NC FF. You'll get your chance. As someone said last Nov, be sure you  get a return receipt when you send in your application. Keep records. Good luck.

Hey Ab, nice reply to those guys who were talking behind our backs. And thanks for the backup, everyone. I like our community solidarity even if its strength is that it's fragmented! Some good info shared here and some fun too. Gee, I seem to remember when our language was somewhat raunchy and our attacks were more personal. Hmmmm, are we MAINSTREAM  now or what? <grin> I THINK NOT!!!


01/21 To All about the Form C-

My application has been messed up. When I first called to get the Form C for
fire positions they sent me one, but the questionnaire for the Form C was for
non-fire positions. So I called the next day and I explained what happened,
so they said they would send me a new application. It was approximately 14
days from then till this last Friday, when I called again because I had yet to
receive one. So they said once again, that they would send me a new one. I
am waiting now. I feel like I am getting cheated, like my chance of getting a
decent firefighting position is being robbed from me.   :(

Also, the girl who was working the phone told me that there were no rounds
this year. Only that the sooner the application was in, the better.

Anyone know what the deal with that is?

01/21 JA,

You want to flame a country's way of fighting fires as a way of pushing your sales barrow then you are already wasting TheySaid space.

I have flown from one side of the US & driven back again. I have traveled the SW US and lived in Colorado for a year. But that would never give me the thought that I could be an expert to try & tell them they're doing it wrong. You seem to think that because you read it on the internet it's true, and have blind faith in words of politicians. Mate, have I got a bridge to sell you!!!!

The tests were done by the Australian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC - the equivalent of the US IAFF - www.ausfire.com), which is why the whole country has not gone down the heavy fixed wing path. The FBEU is not a member of AFAC. But hey, since the pollies are talking about other resources maybe you might want to make another trip to talk about your DC6's. In fact make sure you base your presentation to Commisioner Koperberg on the FBEU's statements, just so he knows that the Union is behind you, and other "knowledgeable commentators" you've read. Although I don't know why we want Berlin airlift machines when we can get real grunt with Firehogs (http://www.firehogs.com).

good luck

Cold War joke: Soviet Tank General meets Soviet Infantry General under the Eiffel Tower. One says to the other "So who won the air war?"
01/21 Hey all,

Has anyone heard the rumor that the Forest Service may delay hiring until round two due to the large number of incorrect applications submitted? Talking with a R5 BC it sounds like lots of folks applied using last years form C questions which are not the same as this years. Anyway, it is something I heard.


There was a post last month or the month before warning forests not to hand out the old form C. We posted it on theysaid and the jobs board. Don't know if the rumor is correct though. Anyone know? Ab.
01/21 Oh wow, have we got some lively discussions going on

Very tongue in cheek.
The comment that when the fires were raging in Australia, and even though there it a MOU for US fire fighters going to assist, no fire fighters were called for. Maybe the Aussies were trying to E-mail the DOI but because their sites were down they could not get through.

Age Issue from a VFD Standpoint
My VFD has last year brought back into the fold 2 ex members, ages 70 and 68. The amount of experience these guys have of 80+ years serving on the department in and around our town is invaluable. Yes we usually engine slug it on wildland fires, and not suggesting that they join a smoke jumper crew. We don't expect them to put a hose lay 500 feet up a 60ļ hill, but I do know that if I have the nozzle I won't be looking down at the fire with my feet 4 feet off the ground because somebody has slammed the valve open and instantly given me 200 psi (had that a couple of times). That we will be pulling other engines out of ditches because they were so focused on the flames they didn't watch what was in front of them. That they will be the ones with me changing out hose, checking equipment etc. as the new guys are all standing around swapping war stories. There is no-one I trust more watching my back than those two.

Not advocating that CDF and USFS go around retirement homes recruiting people, just trying to point out that just because somebody isn't within a certain age bracket doesn't mean that they are totally useless.

More on the Aussie Bush Fires Within one week of the fires in Blue Mountains around Sydney the Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney's main news paper) web page had big headlines about the "Over Zealousness of Fire Break Use." As it turned out it was one resident complaining that their property value had decreased because the Fire Brigade had cut a dozer line next to their property line between them and the bush (and yes in front of the advancing flames).

Where do these people come from? Maybe the TV stations there need to do a show like Americas Most Wanted, entitled Australia's Biggest Idiots or Australia's Most Self Centered. How much would there been worth if there was no line? Must have been a real dump if the property value increases with a smoldering pile of ashes on the lot instead of their house and a 8 foot wide strip of bare earth on the other side of the fence.

01/21 Remember the Storrie?

Salvage debate in deadlock


01/21 Ab,

Attached (hopefully) is Skycrane working St. Mary's Mission fire, part of Virginia Lake Complex near Omak Washington. Dated +- 8/15/01. Ship was working hot spots for SCIA-1 crew nine. Crew Boss Dennis Trentham. Photo by Jess Neville. You may add to photos if it meets your qualifications.


That has got to be one of the nicest helo photos I've seen in a while. The photographer caught it at a perfect moment. Thanks adftr. It's the last photo on the heli4 page. Ab.

01/21 Ab,
Thought I'd share several of my favorite photos from the successful BLM Beaver Dam prescribed burn in the Ely District of Eastern Nevada.

Targhee Wildfire

Thanks, really NICE ones. I put them on the new fire8 page. Ab.

01/21 Update on the effects of the DOI website blackout from Hickman:

From another perspective:

Here's one that is fairly informative from 12/11/01.....  and the problem persists:

01/20 Fireball XL 5

ďHappy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.Ē Tolstoy. 

01/20 With the big increase in new replacement engine for Region 5 Forest Service, does anyone know what the order of replacement is specifically going to be? I heard that the Model 42's are the priority replacement target, but what about the other engines other than the newer Model 62's (ie, 51s, 52s, 60s, 61s)?

As for the engines that will be replaced where will the old engines be assigned, or will they be surplused out to local government FDs?

Any equipment managers have the skinny?

01/20 It's been said before I'm sure, a library of training programs would be nice to have access too. Everything from Basic 32 on up . All can send in what class they have developed/adapted on the pc so others can use, learn and adapt into the crew training program.

Just a thought.

We do have some ppts on the site (Programs Page), but should probably review those... and see if we have any others that could be shared. Ab.

01/19 wa/st

The computer system does not "red card" you, Your FMO/Training Officer or
who ever is tasked with the responsibility to certify, is the one to say you
are qualified. The computer is the file system that keep every ones records.
If your boss has a typewriter and blank red cards, you are set.


When the "fur is a-flyin" and the "feces is being slung" I just remind my
self that options are like ASSHO*LES, every one has one.

01/19 Re: the Honorable Mouse's inquiry -

On a fire last season somebody tossed a full gas can
(the plastic kind) in the brush and forgot about it.
When the fire came through a bit later, the thing blew
up like a baby atomic bomb (didn't hear any 'bang',
but the noise of the airshow, a passing train, and/or
the flames could have drowned it out). Impressive,
but probably not a good deal if you happen to be near

On the other hand, I've never heard of the metal
'jerry cans' or sigg bottles exploding, and some
sawyer buddies who have caught their saws on fire
(hey, it happens) say they tend to go out pretty
quickly without damaging or igniting the fuel tanks.

Hope this helps.

01/19 CAPT. MATT,

I agree with AB about having CDF personnel chime in with job announcements and good advice, isn't that right CDF BC? If Capt. Matt had any sense at all he would have clearly recognized that the letter from 1999 was posted by a contractor or other fire agency.

I for one do not know any USFS personnel making almost 4,500 in two weeks or who would be sitting around camp wasting time by watching people come in and out. In my opinion the person who wrote that letter better take a good look at him or her self and ask the question "why am I wasting tax payer money sitting in camp making 4,300 in two weeks."

Capt. Matt, take that chip of your shoulder and read between the lines, it does not matter in this forum if you are from CDF, BLM, BIA, NPS, or USFS, everybody is treated with respect and yes on certain occasions we do disagree with one another. That is why many people read and post their opinion on this web site and I think that's why Ab started this web site.

Capt. Matt, try and not get all caught up with the USFS-CDF bashing that has gone on for way too long, we all do the same job and in this day and age we really do need to stick together and put the bitterness behind us.

That is just my opinion. Notice how I used all capital M's.

01/19 OB
Koperberg has come out against buying the very choppers you seem to like.
(Canberra Times)

Do you have complete contempt for the express views of New South Wales'
Fire Brigade Employees Union? Did they not witness the CL-415 tests? Do
they not call for seasonal rotations from Canada? I hardly think you're in a
position to summarily dismiss other aviation assets you have not really
tried and which work in jurisdictions all over the world. Knowledgeable
commentators have written into your prominent newspapers and elsewhere e.g.
on the RAAF C-130, which is readily adaptable to waterbombing through
purchase of tanking kits from the US.

You should be prepared to head off a disaster. You don't want to light a Los
Alamos or a Lewiston with your prescribed burning if that goes ahead. You
need to be fully prepared and co-ordinated for suppression before you torch
even if some very small percentage of prescribed burnings go wrong. Again,
it a universal (western firefighting) truth that some very small percentage
of fires; the big ones, causes a very disproportionate amount of the
damages. Don't think for a minute that valuable ground-pounding first-strike
and mop-up forces would be entirely displaced by aircraft as that is far,
far from the case.

I would like to hear it from Bombardier reps too. I'd like to hear their
side of the story. Oz-fires may be different, but they're not *that*
different. I have other Australian firefighter opinion besides your own and
that of your Brigade Captain to go by. For example, I have heard regrets
expressed at a high, professional, firefighting level, not the Dromander
Wing Commander level, on waiving through opotions on the P-3C, C-130, and
the DC-6; especially the latter two. So opinion is not as firm as you would
want people to believe it is.

Your politicians (e.g. Anderson and Ripper) are chatting up a national fire
response policy even to include NZ response capability. Indeed, the
insurance industry will have its say too as normally, who pays the piper,
calls the tune. I have read you should not expect a rate rise with only
AU$70m in damages.

I recognize the great, proud, skilled Oz volunteer tradition but cannot
escape reading about costs to small business of releasing employees to the
bush fire and would like to see a proper economic analysis objectively
conducted on the system. Facts are sometimes inconvenient things.

I have visited Australia in a representative capacity and, of course, flown
over it. We're not about to settle anything here, so we shouldn't try. This
just burns up valuable TheySaidIt space and aggravates people. Leave it to
the politicians and objective aviation experts. Planes fly just as fast as
the bush fire and in many cases, much faster. This whole discussion reminds
me of the old military discussions generals once had; army vs air force.
Some of the arguments army generals used weren't cricket. Of course, we know
that air forces eventually overcame objections and proved their worth.

The very best. No worries;
01/19 Hey! What's up? Being a man of many and varied interests, I input "submissives" into my search engine, as I am wont to do, and up pops this strange website with a post by one "Original Ab" dated 01/18, with my target word highlighted in the second paragraph! But my excitement is tempered by the absolute lack of any redeeming prurient interest in said post. You guys are beyond kinky........

(nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

Mike CDF from Arroyo Grande

hahahahahahahahaha. When we were testing the search key, we tried some various words like squeak tree (and others!) just to see what came up. It is interesting what you can find way back in the archives. Ab.

01/19 JA,

please, for the sake of clarifying in my mind, tell me your experience in fighting Australian wildfires or if you have ever visited here. I'd hate to think that you're Monday quarterbacking on something that you have only read about.

I'm also desperate to understand your statement of "economically prohibitively costly volunteer system". A system that doesn't involve wages for 70,000 volunteers, of which 35,000 are active firefighters? I've seen some of the figures bandied around from the 2000 US fires that if those costs were used here would bankrupt the economy in 2 days flat. If you're trying to put that in houses lost then you've really not been here to know the terrain or been involved in these fires to have seen for yourself how this has occurred. Many people had not properly prepared their homes and suffered the consequences. Sounds like what happened in the US 2000 fires. Other homes on the south coast were holiday homes that were unattended & thus unable to assist with the defense of their homes, especially after the fire front had passed but embers were still present. As for who judges the judges, you probably don't know that out here 67% of fire funding comes from the insurance industry. They are also responsible for 100% insurable losses. The remaining funding comes from State & Local Govt. On top of that comes public opinion. So I think it's fair to say we get scrutenized enough as I'm sure the insurers would be asking questions if they were suffering large losses. And on top of that all fires get investigated by the State Coroner. I hope that's enough checking for you.
As for aircraft, and to get something clear. Australia is the same size as the continental US. In the US fires of 2000, not the whole bag of ground & air assets were able to stop your fires. So put that in an eucalyptus environment where on Boxing day (26th Dec) one fire traveled more than 100km in 6 hrs. It was extreme fire behaviours that only rain could have and did stop these fires. Same as US 2000. Fixed wing has been trialled here and deemed unsuitable. For mine I would say that they're not flexible enough to operate in many of our areas. There a no airstrips and travel times would make it pointless for unsupported direct attack and spotting distances make retardant lines useless. On New Years Day the Erikson dumped 680,000lt on one fire. The difference is that while there may not be airstrips, there will always be paddocks & dams. You may not know this, but now you do. We also find the flexibility of choppers with buckets fantastic. Land, drop off the bucket, pick up the incident commander, take them for a recce, decide on strategy, hitch up bucket & go off to support ground crews.

Now you're unfortunately left yourself showing a lack of knowledge about our fauna. Kangaroos outrun fire & koalas have been burnt in wildfires long before man black or white set foot on this land. Now you want to bring up sheep losses, they've come from grassland fires that run way too fast for air support of any sort to be any good. Not to mention those losses were from a fire the week before Xmas. But I've asked my mate who is an Air Attack Supervisor, Brigade Captain and a sheep farmer to review your comments for his own reply.

But we do have to say thank you to the people of the US for donating $50,000 (not sure if it A$ or US$) which was donated to assist victims of the fires, not the firefighting effort.

At the end of the day, just because you see a bat & a ball it's no good trying to use the rules of baseball on a game of cricket.


01/19 Folks, few CDFers go to the page Shannon is referring to. Its a whine page with most of the folks who post signing "anonymous". Must all be related as they have the same name. This public, open site gets posts from every fool under the sun, all saying they work for CDF and know whatís going on. Most haven't got a clue and prove it by their foolish comments and bickering. If the folks who post to that public site really knew much, they'd be working to fix our challenges instead of whining on the web. CDF Firefighters (the Union) has their own members page thatís currently difficult to use but a fix is in the works. We just don't have members with the skill's lined up like the "Ab's", to do it right away.

I've worked both sides of the hose lay and found great firefighters and wonderful folks both places, I've also found some I stay away from and don't give the time of day to. Every organization has 'em. This site is my first stop on the web each day and I value the discussion and the experience that is shown here regularly. The Ab's do Stellar work in posting our comments and at times sifting the wheat from the asses...excuse me ,chaff,  and you all are pro's. Most of what's here bares this out. Fire doesn't care what color your truck is or who signs your check, it only respects bravery, intelligence and hard work. You folks slay the dragon and thatís good enough for me.

Sign me a CDF Wildland Firefighter and proud of my brothers and sisters all across the nation.
01/18 Capt. matt Shannon,

Welcome to "They Said".... based on your views I must say -- crawl back
into your "agency is best" hole and finish your career. We won't miss you.
(and your Agency probably won't either) You obviously haven't kept track
with reality and NOTICED the real issues that are discussed and presented
here. If you think this is a Forest Service or Fed page, you have been
FIRE COMMUNITY to express their views and opinions (even yours).

This page (sorry Ab if I go on... ) allows every firefighter a chance to
present points and lessons learned. If you feel so bad that your agency is
being ridiculed, present YOUR opinions (not your agencies)... don't just
quit "and take your toys home". Personally, the letter that I saw that
started your furor is ridiculous... How could that make you mad ?... It
should have made you laugh at the ignorance of the writer.... Wake up...

matt, from the Fed side, this page serves a purpose of letting us talk about
the things we like about our organization and throw tantrums about the
things that we dislike. Posters here are from ALL wildland fire
organizations... State (yes even lots of CDF), Federal, Local, Volunteer,
etc.... We ALL get a chance to speak and express our opinions. I have been
applauded here and have been beaten down on many occasions. I don't always
agree with whats being posted... But it's the discussion that makes us ALL
get some education on the career of our choosing and how to make it better.

matt, hope you reconsider your choice to never return..... Another voice on
this page is another learning experience.

01/18 RE: CDF Discussion Group

Thank you AL for the interesting report of the CDF discussion group regarding our web site. Since the CDF board is unavailable for my response, Iíll take a brief editorial moment here:

∑ For those who are unaware. . .wildlandfire.com allows dissenting opinions, regardless of how unpopular or ignorant they may appear to others. The letter from the ďseriously disturbed personĒ remains on the site to remind each and every one of us that no matter how we may perceive ourselves, there are others with differing views. Our privacy/disclaimer page clearly states, ďWildlandfire.com may or may not agree with each submissive, but we aggressively promote and will protect the right of each individual or organization freedom of speechĒ. It means what is says, folks. If you want a warm fuzzy place to read about how bitchíin and cool you are, yer in the wrong place. If you are looking for a place where everyone looks and thinks the same way you do, you may feel alien.

∑ I personally took the photos on the Devil Fire whose helibase was just a couple miles outside of Big Bend, northeast of Redding as the photo descriptions say. I donít remember what year it was (between 90-94), but I do remember name of the CDF helibase manager I worked with. There was a fatality from a heart attack suffered by a volunteer while eating dinner at that fire. Anyone who disagrees with me on the photos or my description of them and would like to call me a liar in person may use the EmailAb button at the top of each page and provide their home phone number. I will be happy to call them and correct their historical ignorance.

Our Privacy/Disclaimer page stands as written. Opposing thoughts and opinions, however contrary to our or your beliefs and our individual loyalties to our own organizations are published as we deem appropriate.

Original Ab
01/18 to USFS FEO:

Yes CDF is very much a big organization with many organizational problems. What did F. Scott Fitzgerald say, something about every happy family is different but every unhappy family is the same, something like that. We are suffering from a few maladies that I can put my finger on and they are all kind of interconnected. One is we are trying to decide what exactly we are, fish or fowl.

Many of the younger guys and gals don't have the wildfire background because of age, experience or lack of fire activity, so they think we are a municipal fire department, and I'm not sure we aren't! I have seen some decision making the last few years that makes me wonder. We used to tease Orange County because each time they had a fire it appeared that they forgot everything they knew about fighting brush fires (Orange left CDF in 1976 or so). Well now the same thing is happening to us. The other things going on contributing to the above is the turnover in the workforce, much discussed here, and a little demon called AB 1127, the be a manager go to jail law here in California. Basically it says that if something happens on a fire and you can't document that you did the training, the tailgate sessions, the code of safe practices, the project safety work plans, etc, you as the engine Captain are PERSONALLY financially exposed to liability.

So getting back to the web gear deal, after the Pechanga Fire burn injuries they did an experiment at UC Davis with a very small sample size, two I think, with applying flame contact to different kinds of web gear. Well the FSS gear lasted about 2 seconds longer before bursting into a flaming torch, so voila, no private vendor web gear. because see now the managers in Sacramento have this knowledge and if anyone else gets hurt because of web gear .... well you get the picture.

The bottom line is that yes we have many problems, and we have many excellent firefighters and once in a while we actually do manage some pretty fair firefighting. Mostly its in the initial attack phase and nobody really notices. I love my job as a Schedule B Fire Captain (a type 3 engine crew), but some days are better than others. We have micro managers but most of them have really short memories. Anyone remember the newly strict mandatory Chock Block policy? I didn't think so.

Fireball XL 5
01/18 Hi All, just got back from my bosses office, filling out some single resource task books, but they can't be entered into the system because of a judges order, am I still considered a qualified single resource eng/firing boss or do I have to wait for it to be entered, Back to work soon pack test and lces in a couple of weeks take care
01/18 We updated the Jobs Page, Series 0462, and 0455. Series 0462 has grown by at least 50 jobs since the last time we posted it.

Also added Hoosier engines to the Engines3 Page and a Hoosier helo to the Helicopter4 page.

01/18 To all,

FSS web gear is coming out with a new pack I hear. I saw one and looks very comfortable. It doesn't look any different from the other packs that the jumpers are making for people who order them.

I wasn't able to ask very many questions about it, so the next time I see the guy who has it I'll ask him about the particulars with the pack and get back to everyone who is interested with the info.

01/18 Fireball XL5

you may or may not be able to answer this but, is CDF as uptight and obsessive with rules and regulations - always and nevers - as it seems to outsiders. This is a serious question as I went ahead and applied for the Captain and Engineers lists this time around. I'm not really interested in trading a lack of direction and support in our mission for an overabundance of direction for the sake of regulations. This example of webgear is new to me but pretty well sums up my concerns. I know once you get out into the field it is a matter of crews, all agencies have their good, bad and scary. With the Forest Service an Engine Captain is pretty much the master of his/her domain. Can the same be said of a CDF Captain or do they live under the constant direction of their BC and Sacramento? I don't have contact with anyone who works for CDF anymore or I'd ask them.

As far as webgear goes NFPA 1975 specifies construction and materials for personal gear, so I would say its safe to assume any quality line pack is as safe as another, utility and comfort are completely separate issues. I can't imagine anyone believing that the FSS gear is better in anyway than the other line gear out there, I think its safe to assume who ever came up with that regulation hasn't worn a pack in a long time. I'd think you could dump the FSS gear on ergonomics alone, I know of fire departments that have replaced old recliners based on that (Not joking about the recliners, apparently cheap recliners cause back problems).

A couple of other sources for packs, fire cache offers several types, ruffian is particularly useful if you have special needs since they custom build their packs to your order.


01/18 Fireronin. Re: Dump & Run - Chainsaws

Many tnx the feedback on ditching chainsaw and fuel can in case of Dump and Run. Your scientific approach to the situation is highly commendable. The only "excitement" level Iíve ever seen from similar scientific approaches is when the saw or fuel container are slowly heated to extreme temperatures (such as on a large rock outcropping or cleared area where the flame is too distant to ignite the plastics or paints. Within a vehicle on fire might also be an example). Out of many many "scientific" observations, only one saw built up pressure to rupture (a defunct Polan 655.) The rubber-like gasket between gas and oil tank melted to the extent the gasoline and vapors in the tank finally forced their way out. No big deal, it hissed flame out a few feet like a blow torch for about a minute. By then the plastic gas cap either melted or caught fire from the exterior. Results were much the same as yours. A gas/oil plastic container (again, one situation of many observations), which had fuel on itís exterior finally caught fire (the container was already severely swelled up.) For reasons un-noted, it fell over (possible from the plastic melting at the base) and shot a geyser of flame and sort of squirreled around on the ground in little circles like a miniature rocket a few seconds, then just burned once the pressure was released.

Your highly scientific report is now included in my on-going compilation of pertinent information.

If anyone out there has observed or has documentation available of saw or gas can "exploding" I'd much appreciate the info.

The Honorable Mouse

Well, Ab,

AL here. My button is pushed. The "chat" room that matt was talking about is the CDF
posting site. I've been laughing a little and shaking my head a little as I
read the posts about this letter. What a waste of time and energy the CDF
site can be. Most of it is just embarrassing. Anyway, this is what they're
saying about us. Sounds like they'd like to start a pigpile on you Ab.
Strangely enough, I think the powers that be within our CDF organization
wished for something like theysaid for sharing information and got this CDF
site instead.

Here's the dialog that has been happening:
>From Anonymous

Note from Ab: Rather than posting the text from the CDF chat board, I am contacting AL to see if he is willing to paraphrase what he read there about wildlandfire.com.

01/18 With all due respect, OB, rejecting larger fixed-wing firefighting aircraft in Australia has become the rule, not the exception. All decent larger fixed-wing aircraft proven here, there, and everywhere, have been rejected by the States, especially by New South Wales, which didn't even have its own Erikson.

Who judges your judges? For you to suggest the DC-6, the C-130 and the P-3C are unproven on this board is heresy.

And it is the height of hypocrisy and pure sophistry to insist that these aircraft are "unsuited to Australian conditions" while insisting a larger chopper is the very thing.

You either want control of your fires or you show the rest of the firefighting world that your economically prohibitively costly volunteer system means more to you than the homes that burned, the lives of the 6000 sheep and countless Koalas and Kangaroos that burned, and the pollution you swing over into Kiwiland.

Your acting prime minister and also WA's acting premier Eric Ripper said aircraft on a national as opposed to a semi-functional state system are to be considered, and Ripper wants a/c that can go national and do New Zealand too. At a range of 219 nm, the Sky Crane, as sound as it is, would be into the Pacific Ocean with less than 20% of its journey completed. And with refuelling stops, a Sky Crane would make it from NSW to WA in about 18 hours.

Greg Norman plays championship golf with a full set of clubs. By analogy, Australia is fighting fires with a bunch of putters and an 8-iron.

The US State Department sent you US$50K to help out with your disaster. This will help defray the $800K you paid to the Antonov drivers who brought NSW the Incredible Hulk and the Georgia Peach.

Have a nice day. JA
01/18 to whom it may concern
I just found this site through a chat room that referred to a letter posted to governor Davis.
I find that your posting of this letter violates your own privacy/ disclaimer statement.
if you had read this letter and know anything at all about c.d.f. you would know it to be filled with lies and inaccuracies.

this was my first and last visit to this site and I will advise my brother and sister firefighters to do the same
sincerely matt Shannon fire captain
p.s. I am not afraid to use my name


Well, matt with a small m. Guess we haven't missed your company so far although we do have some terrific kick ass CDF participants here and we do put up CDF job information on our jobs board. The only letter I can figure you're referring to is this one: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/ca_letter.php and you didn't hear about it through OUR chat room. We have no current ax to grind and this was buried deep in the archives. That letter is from 1999 for gosh sakes! So who's talking about us behind our backs and where? Perhaps you should clue in the folks you're chatting with. Little bit touchy, aren't you? Readers, what do you think? Ab.

01/18 To all the professors of Dump and Run-ology,

After several reads of your tactics, all of you have flunked one of the basics
of the concept....Keep your gloves (a) on your hands (b) firmly attached to
your person...as you dump all of those cumbersome things except your radio,
some drinking water, and something to shield/filter your breathing during what
could become hours inside that shelter during deployment. Again, don't get rid
of your gloves, as Jason of 30 Mile Fire will attest!!!

R3 Flyer.

01/18 G'day Abs!

Firstly thanks to the messages that were posted here that showed support & concern for how things were going here.

While we would have loved to have given the opportunity to have had the opportunity to bring some of out US counterparts out here in exchange for what happened back in 2000, what needs to be made clear was that there was only one state (NSW) that was being impacted by these fires. By contrast Victoria to our south had snow and Queensland to our north was getting heavy tropical rain. This contrasts with your Summer 2000 that had so many fires going for so long in so many different states that sapped the strength of your overhead/IMT's that you needed support of the Aus/NZ contingent, which I think only totalled under 100 (in the 80's from the top of my head). As other posters have said needs to be stated again, that the vast majority of bushfire (wildfire) fighting is done by volunteers, with people qualified to hold positions that what would otherwise in a US context be held by career staff. Our tanker (US engine) strike teams are run by vols, our airbases are run by vols or a career staffer as airbase manager or airops manager with the rest done (apart from flying) done by vol crew. Other IMT positions can/are held by volunteers. It needs to be understood that many districts only have have a handful of paid staff (& they're the well off ones) with the remaining work done by vols.

Now for JA's comments. I really don't know whether he's an Aussie trying to have a shot at his own or a northern hemisphere person that's never been here. Either way his comments are so way out of line I call them ill informed to be polite. We all know that various parts of Australia (the world really) have periods of extreme weather, the fires here of '94, '97, '01 are examples, but with all things weather, they are unpredictable. Bringing additional aircraft (which have actually PROVED themselves) was a necessity, as so many others have been demonstrated but not considered suitable by the fire services (at the angst of those who would benefit from the contracts). If JA wants us to read to the bottom of the link, where a union official representing paid firefighters who do not have major wildfires as a prime focus making claims (which in a local context fits in a larger campaign which need not be filling these pages) which are dubious in nature, should be discounted.

In regards to claims we are the "best in the world", I might point out a link from Firehouse.Com relating to some of the crews that visited to help: Australia fires. This is the true attitude of our firefighters, where the Australian culture is very much a "tall poppy" syndrome of bringing people to the level. Our environment is very different to anything that our US brethren have, with the exception of those parts with large eucalyptus areas (around LA/San Diego?). In a previous msg posted a link to a report that was done by a bloke from CALM in West Aus that went over on the 2000 deployment that identified things that we could both learn from each other. With any luck this will develop in to a situation where there will be exchanges that will have a meaningful benefit sometime in the near future.


NSW Rural Fire Service

G'day to you too, Mate! Welcome back, OB. We were thinking of you while Australia burned. Ab.

01/18 Mouse,

Thanks for asking the question. I had been very bored and had a seized up chain saw I could not seem to get rid of... always thinking there would be some use for it someday. With several inches of snow on the ground I went right out and filled it with mixed gas. In the interests of science (OK I was just bored) I set the 1& 1/2 gal plastic can of mixed gas down next to it after splashing a bit of fuel around to pile of debris I had "saved" from our dry fall season. After lighting it (yes it was far away from anything flammable) I went in the house to get a er, um...refreshment and came back out to monitor the "experiments" progress. As the half full fuel "can" heated it started to melt and burn more and more vigorously. I noticed that the plastic gas cap on the saw started to melt as well and gas started to spew and burn as the fuel in the saw began to boil. all to soon my experiment was over without resulting in the explosion I had in some ways hoped might result.

Based on my results I would say in response to your question.
DROP THE SAW AND FUEL AND RUN. Anyone far enough in back of you to be there when the fuel lights off is probably too far back to make it safety anyway and the small fire it will create will be dwarfed by the fire already in progress.

Anyone feeling that this needs further research please send your non-tax deductible donations to: The old firefighters entertainment fund/chainsaw safety study. Care of this site.Donations will be used for purchase of otherwise useless chain saws, mixed gas, and...er refreshments. Maybe next time I should take a video to document the study.

I always suggest that shelters be checked for holes since the thin foil outer cover is really all that protects you via reflectivity. Any pinholes in the outer foil can lead to rapid failure of the "shelter" in a real deployment situation and subsequent injury or death to the firefighter inside. I don't recommend initially opening the shelter to check it, rather one should look for loose grey dust in the clear plastic package and/or other signs that the reflective foil is degrading along the folds. I do recommend however checking closer if you do see any sign whatsoever of degradation by opening up the shelter. Do it as a group exercise in full sunlight as if you can hold it up and see pinholes the shelter is no longer useful for its lifesaving purpose and should be discarded. This is the only real way to learn how to judge how much actual deterioration may exist during future "in the bag" inspections. I teach that any visual deterioration is too much. Would you feel safe jumping from a plane with a small rip your parachute? I wouldn't.

Removing defective shelters from their bags also effectively removes them from service. Don't leave obviously worn shelters in their bags...they may be mistakenly handed out again.


01/18 Regarding the discussion on dropping tools and packs: Perhaps one of the most critical survival skills is one that's most difficult to actually do on a fire. Between 1990 and 1997, 23 firefighters died carrying packs and tools while running uphill from a fire. If you're going to escape, you have got to get your shelter out, drop your pack, and run. You're up to 20 percent faster without your  gear. Most of these fatal entrapments, according to Ted Putnam, could have been survived if firefighters had dropped their gear and run with only their shelters. At South Canyon no firefighters dropped packs; two dropped their tools only when they started to get burned.

There's an article about this online here: wildfirenews.com

01/17 Still catching up with photos and still have more to do - but the pile is getting shorter.

More engines on Engines3, and more equipment and a dozer on on Equipment2, patches from the Union IHC and Arroyo Grande Flight Crew on Logos5, some 6 or 7 fire photos on the new Fire8 page, one new AT on Airtanker3, some nice Arroyo Grande helo and crew photos on Airborne Firefighters, some photos on Crew3 of the new Roosevelt crew in Colorado, the AG crew down on the LP, and some guys chowing down on the Mexico8 Fire in '99.

Thanks to USFS-FEO, backburnfs, Harry for his widow maker photo, Mike Patti and Dan Johnson from Washington state for the Virginia Lake photos, and NoFX for the Arroyo Grande pics. Mellie is working on a page featuring the AG Flight Crew that she hopes to have done soon. Thanks Mellie. As you look through these photos look at the varied "jobs" that wildland firefighters do. USFS-FEO sent in a dozen photos that went on different pages, but taken as a group show diversity of task.

Again, thanks to everyone who is contributing. More came in today. I'll get to those asap. BTW, if I am missing anyone's photo, drop me an e-mail. Ab.

01/17 To the EGTHIAh People (Everything Goes To Hell In A Handbasket) AKA "Dump & Go."

Iíd appreciate feed back re: the following. Iím an Emergency Falling Contractor with the USFS. (Me believes AD to you Fed. Type) The gear we carry is much different than that of most "line equipment" of most wildland firefighters, and even this is inconsistent depending on whether we have a swamper or not.

My question - and Iíve posed this at several training sessions, is - What should a faller do with his saw and gas can (usually a saw mix - bar & chain oil combination) if he has to "Dump and Go?"

"Just get rid of it" is the most common response in training sessions.

O.K., Iím telling my age but Iím a Nam Vet, and you donít just look after your own hide at the possible expense of your fellow fire fighters. My concern is the volatile - read possible explosive - nature of sealed petro containers (the saw and the gas can) along the escape route to a safe area. At this stage Iím of the opinion that: 1- It would be best to "toss" your saw and gas can away from the exit trail (escape route) so other firefighters using the same route arenít endangered by your Molitov cocktails. 2- It would be better to free the lid on both the saw and gas/oil can to prevent a build up of pressure and subsequent "explosion" that might send metal or plastic shrapnel in all directions.

A second consideration I have is where and how to carry my fire shelter. My work belt is rigged up on GI suspenders and web belt. Falling wedge pouches on left and right side. The only place Iíve found to carry the fire shelter is off the back left suspender (I can reach it in a panic situation there and it doesnít beat me up when Iím pounding wedges.) This work belt can come off real quick if need be (Iíve practiced it) but in a "drop and Go" situation I would have to, 1- unshuck the falling belt, 2-detach the fire shelter, 3- and then carry the fire shelter by hand to wherever Iím going.

------------ Any feedback, opinions or consternationís will be appreciated.

The Honorable Mouse
P.S. Thank You Ab and Crew for giving us a forum to think - tank on.

Yer welcome, Most Honorable. Ab.

01/17 Hi guys, I've checked in a few times to get the latest "news". I have another letter from Jim Roth I will post asap. 

Question: None of my guys are here for me to ask- someone in a previous post mentioned failing to check the shelters for holes etc. Are the Wildland FF at the start of the fire season suppose to unwrap the shelters and inspect them and then put them back in the containers? Or do we just assume they are up to par when we buy them or they are issued them? I am surprised with all the FF around my life I have never even thought abt it. maybe they are checking them and I just never heard abt it. I Just assumed they were inspected and ready to go? Well, I think I just answered my own question........

We have used the FS packs and some cheaper ones we bought but without exception my guys use the Eagle packs now. They are pricey but well worth the cost as far as construction and being able to stand up to the rough treatment. And the comfort level is very good. We have given them as Christmas gifts to the FF in the family and actually they were the hit of the day for a couple of them. So put them on your Christmas list with a copy of the catalog.


01/17 Are you looking for a seasonal job on an engine crew?
Redwood National Park is advertising for a crew (GS-4's & GS-5's) on the beautiful northern California coast. The jobs will open on 1-18 and close on 2-15. There aren't many fires in the redwoods, but the crew does spend a fair amount of time getting dispatched to areas throughout CA (sometimes beyond). You still can't access the NPS website, but the jobs are advertised on USAJOBS at www.usajobs.opm.gov. Look for more parks to begin advertising soon as we have gotten word that vacancies can be input from other federal (non-DOI) agencies; today a memo arrived stating we could input from home computers under certain circumstances. With the hiring season rapidly approaching, I expect more DOI agencies will be finding creative options for advertising their openings. (The local Army recruiting office provided our access...) Stay safe out there!


01/17 Howdy everyone,
I noticed on the Arrowhead IHC's website (before it got shut down!!) that
they were going to be featured on PBS' show NOVA sometime in the beginning
of the year. Since their website is shut down, does anybody know when it
will be on?
01/17 For virtually any news piece you care to mention, ABC-Australia will allow an archives search. But not when it comes to sensitive firefighting aircraft issues.

In one/two less as many decades, Australia has managed to turn aside 5 firefighting aircraft. They are:
(a) the DC-6
(b) the P-3C Orion
(c) the C-130
(d) the CL-series Bombardier and
(e) the IL-76

....while taking on "Elvis" the Sky Crane -- as a panacea aircraft in this year's mad chaotic scramble. Fortunately, no-one was hurt or killed although they lost over 100 homes.

In the final analysis, Australia shipped two more Sky Cranes from Oregon in the belly of an Antonov for $800K shipping costs .....and then it rained. They had to do something.

They call themselves "world's best firefighters" - remember 2000 USA? I'm not so sure. This too shall pass.


*GFMC captured the piece here for anyone who wants: www.uni-freiburg.de/fireglobe/current/globalfire.php  
Go to December 28 and scroll down.

2001 Line of Duty Deaths Summarized by Hickman

Hereís what I have ended up with for Line-of-Duty Deaths for individuals involved in Wildland Fire. And, as usual, I have a different set of numbers than the Federal Government. I came up with 18 individuals. As I stated at the beginning of the year, not all were involved in actual fire suppression, but were involved in the required duties of a Wildland Firefighter. The one individual who was not listed was a firefighter was working for a company that had contracted with Federal or State Agency to provide fire suppression equipment and manpower for wildland fires: Brad Lee Bishop, 25, who was killed when his engine ran off the road and struck a rock embankment on September 7, 2001. He was working on the Lost Fork / Monarch Fire, which was located on the Lewis and Clark National Forest near White Sulphur Springs, Montana. As stated in the report possible cause was falling asleep while driving.

  • Average Age of Firefighter: 33.8 years
  • Causes:
    • 2-Stress/exertion
    • 10-Struck by or in contact with
    • 5-Caught by or trapped by fire
    • 1-Illness unknown
  • Rank:
    • 12-Firefighters
    • 4-Pilots (3 fixed wings & 1 rotary wing)
    • 1-CoPilot (rotary wing)
    • 1-Crew Chief (rotary wing)
  • Cause of Death:
    • 5-Burns (overrun by fire)
    • 2-Heart Attacks
    • 1-Unknown
    • 10-Internal Trauma
      • 3-apparatus accidents
      • 1-falling accident
      • 3-fixed wing operations
      • 3-rotary accident
  • Status:
    • 4-Volunteer
    • 13-Career
    • 1-Seasonal
  • Duty:
    • 2-Nonemergency
    • 15-Emergency
    • 1-Unknown
  • Duty Type:
    • 13-Fireground Operations
    • 3-Responding/Returning
    • 2-Physical Testing
  • Type of Activity:
    • 6-Cutting firebreaks
    • 2-Fire Attack
    • 6-Driving/Operating Equipment
    • 1-Riding Equipment
    • 2-Physical Testing
      • 1-Walk Test
      • 1-Pack Test
  • States where incident occurred:
    • 5-Washington
    • 2-California
    • 1-Kentucky
    • 1-Colorado
    • 1-West Virginia
    • 5-Montana
    • 1-Tennessee
    • 1-Mississippi
    • 1-Idaho
Now that 2002 has started, may we all be SAFE this year and be aware that it only takes a second for things to go wrong.


01/17 Herr Warden

Yep...you got me grinnin' and noddin'! Let's not forget the rookies with the
wide eyes, endless questions, and total exhaustion inroute back to station
all over a 1/10th acre lightening fire. Just when they think they've got it
down a few years down the road you make 'em an IC their first round and it
starts all over. It's what keeps this ol' dawg in the game!

Ol' Fire Dawg
01/17 Fireronin

Thanks for the clearing that up. I am about 95% in agreement with you,
mainly the part about getting your mind into the save yourself, and the rest
of the crew, mode. I certainly don't want to be the primary reason for a
funeral or anyone else's for that matter. Keep safe, and always have a
safety zone. I think I may even go check my fire shelter this weekend.


01/17 Onelick, We had engines on Upper willow, and the sheep fires. Look us up in WID.
Upper willow was a blast, ill send ab some great pics
have fun everyone and be safe
eric PW
01/17 Good to see the logo from Tasmania online. However, the Taz logo on my
nomex is older and way different. Can we get the other version(s) online
too? Anyone out there got the other ones?

International Fire Logo Protective Associationģ
01/17 have any of you ever raced a fellow firefighter up the side of a mountain in a non-emergency situation? i am sure almost, if not all, of you have. if not, i recommend you try it on the first fire you go on in 2002. it is a lot harder than you could ever imagine. all the stair-stepping, running,
thinking, and training you have done do you no good. IT BURNS about 10 steps into it. i am sure, and would hope, it is different with a wall of flames chasing you. i wouldn't know and would prefer not to.

now i was taught to drop EVERYTHING except your fire shelter and, if it is an option, a water bottle and RUN. if you have a radio with you, it is strapped to you so leave it there.

I am not sure if this is a topic in question or not, but i am bored so i am writing in. Dump-n-run.........as opposed to what? save the governments money on the pack or "bat belt" and slow you down up to 50%? No thanks.......leave it and don't think twice! you pay your taxes! shed it WHILE you run.

D.K.S. (don't know sh*t)
01/17 LAVE
In the Storm King investigation, Ted Putnam concluded that the firefighters on the west flank fireline could have traveled 30% faster if they had dumped all their gear except fire shelters, and run. This would have made the difference between life and death for most of the twelve.

Fireball XL5
01/17 Howdy everyone,

Hey Brian, try Bagmaker.com, ruffianspecialties.com, and my personal
favorite: PGBag by Harold Dramstad 800-585-1351 from Helena MT.
Hope this helps. They are alot less expensive and better quality.

Hey BCDavis, and Eric? from PW, I was out your way this summer
on the Coyote Creek fire, Winnemucca staging, and the Upper Willow fire. I
looked around for both of you guys, but no luck. BCDavis, the one crew boss
that we were working with said you were on the Sheep fire. Sorry I missed
you guys.

01/16 LAVE,

I understood OK I think...but I teach dump and run too.
1.Dump the tools...frees your hands and gets you in the right mood for what may come.
2.Run!!!!! Get to a Safe place. (With luck you had this previously established and it is within a reachable distance.)
3. As you are contemplating why you are running...Grab your fire shelter (It is all we have as the pilots equivalent to a parachute.)
4. Shed all available remaining weight, retaining your radio if you can.
5. You are in a race for your life...and how the rest of it will be spent. Try only to think of things that will help you WIN!!!
6. It is OK now if you want to start a discussion with your maker...but don't make any promises you don't intend to keep.
7. Don't stop running unless you are forced to or reach a place that is safe to deploy.
8. Once you have determined (prior to step 1) that you should deploy, don't stop until you ARE deployed. 

It would be a great shame to put all the rest of your fire family (who care more deeply about you than you may ever know) through the trauma of knowing you would have been able to survive if you had the chance to deploy but "for reasons unknown" failed to do so. Also, I doubt you will be charged for an "unnecessarily" deployed foil wrapper and it will give you a chance to see all the little holes in it you failed to find prior because you did not think it was "important" to check the integrity of your fire shelter.

I am, of course, very open to suggestions on the dump and run method I teach as I would have the greatest trauma of all if I ever have a crew member or other FF I trained in deployment die due to the possibility I did not DO MY JOB the best I possibly could. I have talked to a few who have had the opportunity to have that thought run endlessly through their head. All have said they would rather have forfeited their own life.. and I believe them.

I don't mean this as a rant.
It is a good thing to discuss.

01/16 Here is a link to a clip on wildland firefighting on the national geographic website.



01/16 Fireronin has a good grasp on the "old guy" issue. I fear some of the contributors to this forum are more than alittle eager to place any who would wish to enter into a primary fire position, after the age of 36, into a trouble maker category. There are many reasons why someone may wish to enter into a primary fed job. Some may wish to transfer from a state position to a fed position as I do. After 20 years with the state, I would like to try my hand with the feds.

This is of course, purely selfish of me. I take great gratification from harnessing the enthusiasm and exuberance of young or first-time firefighters and being there to guide them through successful knock down of a fire. The excited chatter, faces aglow, adrenaline still pumping... (some of you are reading this and smiling while nodding). Or how about when the reigns are handed over for the first time and you ride back pocket or are the whisper in the ear that keeps things safe. Makes me excited for the next season to start. Federal, State, or County, I enjoy fire. I guess I fit into the "trouble category".

Herr Warden

01/16 Ab has been catching up with photos and still has more to do. Thanks for your patience, Contributors. Swamped with work...

New photos of Larry Groff's memorial service up on Miscellaneous, of a Camp Pendleton and a WA DNR engine on Engines3, of some old equipment, antique engine, and dozer on Equipment2, a Tasmania patch and Rocky Mountain IMT logo on Logos5, and a night Happy Camp Fire back burn photo on Fire7.

Thanks to L.A.V.E., Jim911, Bill S, and CKN. If you sent in either of the logos, please let me know. We had a computer glitch that lost the e-mails accompanying those photos. Again, thanks everyone.

Phew. More to come as Ab happily slogs back through the pile of not-yet-posted photos...

01/16 BENEFIT for KRS
Is it possible to announce this event on your website? There should be an
event jpg file attached and the following krs_benefit text is from Joanne Matthews whose
number is on the flyer.

Thanks much.

Here's the flyer jpg. It's a little large -- 114K, but very nice. Ab.

01/16 There is a company out of Redding, Ca called TOP STITCH that makes good quality comfortable line gear that works.

All, check it out.
The owner is an old BDer.

01/16 FireballXL5

If you train your crew to dump-n-run, does this also apply to the web gear?
The same web gear most firefighters wear the Fire Shelter, aka. shake and bake, on? I agree that the FSS stuff is caca, but the way I read what you are saying does not compute. I like my little silver security blanket, as meager and unsubstantial as it is. Plus my web gear has my water, my handi-talkie, and minor things like communications names and freq. with it. Yes I will dump hose bags, packs, tools, and many other items but my "Bat Belt"? Maybe I am misunderstanding you.


01/15 backburnfs and Brian

I agree that the FSS Gear is mostly crap with a capital C, however we in CDF have been told that we can wear nothing else. 

The link is www.benchmarkmfg.com. I have persisted in wearing my eagle gear www.eaglegear.com anyway because I feel like I stand a better chance of being injured by the poor web gear load carrying or the lack of drinking water and food and gear that I can carry -- than the outside chance that my web gear will become a flaming torch on my back when I am over-run by fire, as the brain surgeon-forester-accountants in Sacramento have said. I train my crew to dump-and-run instead.
Fireball XL5
01/15 The Jobs Page, Series 0462 and 0455 are updated. Ab.
01/15 Firehorse,

Your post had me laughing so hard I was spewing coffee! I will get back up there to visit you one of these days. Thanks for the info on the jumper base.


01/15 Hi

I am looking for PC simulations programs to train wildland firefighters. I know about the cricket software program. If there are any other programs available please forward me the information.

South Africa
01/15 Brian, why would you want FSS web gear? The stuff is next to worthless. It is ill fitting and the strapping system, suspension and layout is junk.

Get yourself into Eagle Gear, MMI, Ranger or any other commercially made linegear and you will be a much happier camper. If you can't afford that, go to the military surplus store and get some GI web gear with canteens and butt pack and you will still be better off.

Most GSA stuff is a waste of time and $$ in the development and the production. They send the stuff to the field for testing and our opinions, we tell them it's junk and they build it anyway.

Then they try to tell us that the better designed and built commercially available products are off limits for purchasing.

Sorry MTDC folks, but remember the line flail?? It was tried in the 40's, 60's and 90's and failed to flail every time.

Next they will tell us they have built a better fire shelter, but maybe I should quit before I get started on that subject.

01/15 hi there,
I am looking for wildland firefightin jobs in australia. I live in canada but would like to travel down there in fall 2002. I was wondering if you knew where i could look to find any info so i could get a firefightin job while i was there.
thanks for your time


As I understand it from what has been contributed here, most firefighting jobs in Australia are volunteer. Ab.

01/14 Skyeblue,

Hope everything works out for you. Remeber if you want to apply with the Forest Service you have to go through ASAP process.Right now you have missed the first round cut off date, but don't let that discouirage you. You have plenty of time for the second round cut off, and If I remember right that is not until February.

In the jobs section of this web page you will find the phone number to call Boise and ask for a temp. hiring package. If you can't find it here it is, 877-813-3486 or e-mail for a package (only) at fsjobs@fs.fed.us, you can not apply on-line this year due to the problems they had last year. If you have any problems or need any help or advise I left AB a number you can reach me at and I will be more then happy to help you out getting a job with USDA.

Good luck,
01/14 Glad to see my post got some good response.. but..
sad to see the response from Der Other Manager. I know quite a few
dispatchers and some dispatch center managers at forest and zone levels,
and I think they are all top notch people. And they all love their jobs.
>From Der's post, I can guess that you are not one of them. (Reminds me of
the attitude some some supervisors had towards Vietnam vets some years

I would doubt there are a whole lot of firefighters in this situation of
over-37 and still a temporary employee..but there are some..and it could be
for a number of reasons. And in my opinion, they are getting a bad deal. I
also think that by relieving this artificial barrier, some with job
offering authority would be able to sleep a bit better at night, than after
telling a 38-year old, maybe with a family??..that he/she is out of luck,
and the past years of work will not gain them a thing..

DA R-5er
01/14 Where can I order FSS web gear? I have had no luck finding it.

Thank You,
01/14 Hey Abs and all,

Haven't written in awhile, been very busy with my new
job at the Prescribed Fire Training Center here in
Tallahassee. Things are lookin' good we've got about
36 students out burnin' up the woods all across
Florida as I write. Hopefully some of this enthusiasm
about burnin' will make it's way out west. I am truly
impressed with how much of a way of life prescribed
fire is here in the southeast. These folks are getting
some work done.

On another note, I am looking for a powerpoint
presentation on I-100, you know the basic ICS course.
Any ideas?

As always thanks for keeping us all talkin'

Someone asked for an I-100ppt earlier and a regular on theysaid sent us his version. I'll send it to ya. Ab.

01/14 After a weekend of reading my contract with my current employer I found a
loophole! I am going home tonight and updating my resume and applying
everywhere I can!! 

My first fire season is potentially only months away instead of over a
year.....I don't think I can verbalize how excited I am!

01/14 Thought you might want to post this to They Said. Not the best of news. Certainly much food for thought.

USFA Releases Preliminary Firefighter Fatality Statistics for 2001


Sobering. The same info came in from Firescribe. Ab.

01/14 R5-er,

It is my understanding that until the current federal push to hire, there were a very limited number of permanent positions available. Because "fire" is such a physically demanding job, when given the choice of hiring older temps or younger ones for permanent positions, managers had the tendency to hire younger ones...since there was no fear of being accused of (or sued for) age discrimination even then. You could "train them up" to do things your way and could get them to do things without question that older, wiser, more experienced firefighters would at least wish to discuss first. Unfortunately, many if not most of the really newsworthy fire disasters in the past few years have been mainly due to fireline inexperience. Cerro Grande comes to mind immediately. 30 Mile does too.

I understand...believe me.. and I am not sure I would not have made the same decision given that circumstances. But the circumstances have changed dramatically...we seem unable fill all the positions that were created by the current hiring push. The old rules are now not only unethical but inappropriate for the good of the nation. If we allow the bean counters to put us in a situation of having an inadequately sized fire suppression corps which consists mainly of very young, mostly inexperienced wildfire fighters they will be at a much greater risk, the nations wildland will be at a much greater risk and the citizens who live or recreate in or near those wildlands and the wildland/urban interface will be at much greater risk.

That is what I see happening in the near future. I am very well paid to make such projections in my "real life" job. I truly wish I saw a brighter future on the path we seem to be taking. Unfortunately I think the folks at the top are only looking as far as the next presidential election. They don't adequately care about what happens in 3, 5, or 10 years down the road. If the bean counters say that hiring 37 year old firefighters will make budget projections "look bad" in the near term.... no one over 37 will be hired. It is that simple. In my experience those bean counters have no concept of how "expensive" a catastrophic fire season can become. They see risk management as a numbers and $ game mainly. They also tend to be removed enough from the fireline to see dead firefighters as little more than statistics which are either acceptable economic losses or not. Of course "politically" being caught with your pants down during a bad fire season just seems to increase your budget the next season. So erring on the "conservative" side is a win/win situation regardless... for those not on the fireline or close enough to think of firefighters as people rather than simply "resources".

The folks at the top know that what they are doing is in their own best interests. Everything else is secondary.


01/13 About the age issue,

The big question I have with some of the points that are being brought up is this, why haven't the people who have a bunch of seasons in and are over the age of 37 been picked up years ago? Everybody in Region 5 knows that we have been picking up Apprentices like crazy for the past 4 to 5 years, why haven't these employee's been with the Academy?

Here is some controversy for you and this should stir the pot a little. I think these employee's are just like the ones we have on our Forest, all they want to do is complain about the agency and how they haven't got a fair shot at being a permanent and they are being passed up for jobs. This is a bunch of BS. My Forest has been picking up 10 to 20 apprentices each year for the past 4 years. If they really wanted the job, they would have been picked up in that time period and before they hit the cut off age.

So if you are under the age of 37 right now and want to work for the USFS now is the chance. The opportunity is there. Don't be like some and wait until it is too late and then start to complain about the cut off age.

01/13 Howdy All

As far as the older guys go, if they can keep up with the pace, let them
stay. If they must retire just because of age, all "you" have done is rob the
younger firefighters of knowledge and experience that can only come with age
and time.

01/13 Hi Ab!!
We just got a hard frost down here in Florida so we expect to get busy
again. My wallet screams in joy.

This post is to try to respond without arguing or belittling two people who
recently posted knocking older Firefighter's worth and value.
(Todd and some dispatcher)

My partner has 34years in (and he was no pup when he came on).
His experience has saved my butt and taught me loads that books don't know.
Further, while I can work harder, he works smarter. He can still outlast
lots of the younger guys on the fireline. I say more power to him if he
works till I retire in 17yrs. If he can pass the pack test, he can carry his
load. I'd rather have him than twenty young guys who don't know diddly
about what they are saying.

Other Dude, (not a slam, I can't remember your name.)
You are sooooooo wrong!!!!!!!!
We had a Ranger with DOF that had severe eye problems. He had to leave the
fireline, (something many of us have nightmares about...).
He chose to try to adapt and has become the best dispatcher I've ever worked
with. He understands what we are describing, he knows how we think. He
considers things the other dispatchers don't.
One example, in Fl the main tool is the tractor/plow. We get committed in
one area, he sees the big picture and moves other units to staging areas
that provide coverage for our district. Other disp. wait for us to scream
for help or for one of us to call our supervisor, who calls the OIC who
calls the Disp.'s boss who tells them to do it.
I took great offense to your post for his sake and for the idea that anyone
forced to do your job as a secondary choice would be bad at it.
Dispatch probably wasn't your first career choice either bucko.....

Thanks for the space to say a few. I tried not to get too preachy. If I did,
just remember I was defending two older men who have saved my keyster

Abe Lincoln said "I may not agree with the next man's opinion, but I'll
defend to the death his right to have one." (AMEN!!!!)
I hope we all stay safe and are around to disagree on this site for years to

Flash in FL
01/13 Oh goody I didn't start this one


Thats all fine and dandy but I thought that was what the pack test was for. If someone comes in at 18 or 50 and accepts a job, they know they have to pass the pack test to remain in a primary fire position. If they are 50 they are going to have to try that much harder or plan other options. I don't know one older person who would not be willing to accept a partial pension over no pension. I believe all the pack test fatalities have all occurred to people under the magic age of 55 (now 57). If we didn't screw people out of the retirement they earned working years as a temporary seasonals since 1988 then maybe we wouldn't have all the people "complaining" that we won't hire them. CDF seasonals begin earning retirement after 6 months of service.

What sense does it make to refuse to hire a crew boss rated person with many years of temporary service as a permanent crew boss when they are 38 but we can keep bringing them back as a temporary crew person until they are 70 to train their boss how to be a crew boss? I've got a guy on my district who has 20+ years as a temp in fire, but he couldn't get my job because of his age. You can't tell me I'm the better choice to lead people into a fire situation, but that how it worked out.

Most of the California fire departments do not have age restrictions in the 30's. I believe CDF will hire a permanent employee until the late 40's. I've seen 44 year old firefighters who can outperform 25 year olds and 18 year olds who get worn out tying their boots. You can not tell me that a firefighter for LA, SF or Oakland does not face the exertional stresses that wildland firefighters do, they may sit around on wildland fires but they work their butts off when in their element and they don't have maximum entry ages.

While Washington gives lip service to the "hiring crises" not much seems to be happening, DoD structure departments, and the wildland agencies are still struggling to fill and retain positions at all levels. How are we supposed to compete with 1/2 to 2/3 the salaries, 1/2 the retirement and mediocre benefits that we pay out of our salaries while other agencies pay for their employees, I've seen several jobs that would pay me several hundred dollars per month more based on less deductions rather than more salary.

An entry level CDF firefighter makes $200 a month more than I do as a GS7 and pays less out of each check to retirement and benefits and they are losing their people to other agencies because they can't compete. So while we struggle to fill positions, we ignore perfectly qualified individuals because they're to "old". I don't know what's going to happen in 5-10 years when the bulk of the retirement crush hits, maybe 20 year old Captains with 19 year old engineers and 18 year old crews. Oh I know, maybe we can lower the age limit to 16.

How about letting people determine their own abilities and limitations and not using some abstract number pulled out of thin air to determine this. Was any scientific study even done to help determine this magic retirement age or did somebody just say "that guy looks old, hey old guy how old are you?" "58" "Ok, that guy is too old, let's make the maximum age 57". Besides it really doesn't matter how old they are when we hire them because most will probably get trained up and go work for someone else before they're 57 anyway.


01/12 HELP!

To anyone out there that has a copy of the 2002 Instructions For Completing the Qualifications & Availability Form (Form C) for the DEMO Fire Hire Announcement # FSJOBS-02-D001. I need them SUNDAY. Email me with the forms in an attachment or Email me directly and I will email back with a phone and fax number.

Thanks for all the help

01/12 Der Other Manger, Todd and you other firedogs out there worrying about us old guys not making it, save your breath.

I may not be able to hump the hills like when I was 18, 28 or 38 but I get where I need to be, when I need to be there and I am a liability to no one.

Actually I would like to think that 28 years of fireline experience would be the kind of an asset you might like to have around when things go gunny out there.

I agree that being a good Engine Captain does not always make a good dispatcher or a good B.C. and we all should take advantage of any details and training opportunities we can get so that if, God forbid we do get injured or have the bad sense to grow old, we can do a less physical job and still be a valuable employee.

We only have two options in the age arena, we either die young or get old and die.

Prevention, dispatch, fuels management and people mgt. (AFMO/FMO) are good places for old, sick and crippled firefighters to work when they can no longer do the Ops thing.

As far as the lame/lazy ones go, I guess if our first line supervisors would do their jobs they would not be a factor for more than a season or so anyway.

Age doesn't matter as much as ATTITUDE, except to the personellists, and they are not the ones who are out there throwing dirt with us.

I know a lot of firefighters young and old and I respect all of them. Because this job isn't easy at any age, anyone who thinks it is, either hasn't done it or is slacking.

They already raised the age limit to 37, I don't have a problem with raising it to 40, but I wonder about someone who waits till 40 to figure out they want a primary fire position, and I am not just thinking about their age.

I guess I am done rambling for now. Later.

01/12 From Firescribe

You might find yourself or your crew described here:

01/12 Ab sez, Yeah, it's Donnelly alright. Confirmed here:
01/12 Todd

Regarding old guys working in fire. If you mean fire as swinging a tool and
humping the grade you're probably correct that in some cases they are pushing
it. However if you mean fire as anything to do with fire suppression you're
off track.

If you can make a case for a lot of guys over 57 not working in fire and
gracefully retiring, I can make a case for some persons much much younger
than 57 leaving fire and applying at Walmart as a greeter.

Old Fs with a wildfire background continue to bring a lot to the table, and can
and do fit in to the fire organization in many places. 

I started fighting fire when I was 17 and retired from the FS at age 50
after 32 years in fire. I'm still red carded, only now, in non line work in
the command and general staff, and am looking forward to the upcoming fire
season. I also did have 2 seasons of line suppression assignments after 50
as IA on a type 6 engine, leaf rake and a leaf blower.

I will be 67 next month and I'm planning on walking down the hill and
kissing all of those cows. Why don't you run down and join me and kiss one?

01/12 Todd,
I agree that "old guys should just gracefully retire" and I think the ones that are not fit to be on the line would actually "gratefully retire" if given the incentives that other "industries" offer. I am all in favor of pruning and thinning! I was not encouraging lawsuit for age discrimination. In fact I think I explained why it would not fly. As for "old guys" that are fit to serve in fire in some useful capacity...why are you so eager to "chuck them over the side" just because of their age? I don't care how old you are...if you are not fit mentally and physically to do your job you should find another line of work. You might be surprised at how useful the experience of "old guys" is...though I hope your surprise is not manifested as you are simultaneously wondering "How did I get into this situation?, How do I get out of it?, Why didn't I see it coming?, and I wonder if I will see the end of this fire or if it will see the end of me?"

As a fire suppression family we would really be screwed if we could no longer attract young physically fit, eager, trainees. Just as we would be totally screwed if we fail to retain enough experienced, physically fit, mentally alert "older guys". As for judging anyone by their age alone ,16 or 60...phooey!

I agree...but what about the young firefighter that, after he is "vested", loses his enthusiasm for his job, allows himself to go to pot physically, etc. Just because you will not be eligible for a full pension does not mean you should be "protected" from accepting a job that will not provide you one. Lot's of experience out there between the ages of 37 and 47 that will be wasted under current policy.

I make a very good living providing simple solutions for complex problems and... this is not even a complex problem. There exist many very simple solutions for this relatively simple problem. They just cannot be implemented because of lazy people that would have to "do the job they are paid to do" at the top.

Nuff said,
01/12 Now I have gone from "Hurt" to "Crushed". Mellie came up hwy 199, came right by my house and I was ignored? <tear in right eye> Oh the pain! <tear in left eye> The heartache! <tears streaming down cheeks> The mental anguish of now knowing one of the true literary geniuses writing in here should be so close, yet so far. <tears turning to sobbing> I could have passed from this world a contented wildland firefighter and now I may be doomed to wander firefighter heaven knowing I was so close, yet so far. <huge sigh here> I, being a true firefighter, will "suck it up", "cowboy up" or do whatever it takes to carry on, for this to shall pass. Why should I allow this setback to affect me anymore than doing a double shift with no water and food, or running out of radio batteries half way thru the shift, or getting a blister with no moleskin in my pack, or God forbid, not having any TP when the hershey squirts hit. Yes, it is true that I shall overcome this personal injustice and carry on in true wildland firefighter tradition as my brothers and sisters would expect me to do in this circumstance. Of course it wasn't any of them that were mentally slapped up alongside the head now that I think of it. But, rest assured that I can handle it, troops. So you can all go to bed tonight and sleep soundly knowing that I will persevere in the face of this travesty of justice. Hopefully when you get in a tight situation on a fire this coming season, and future seasons, that you will remember this experience that I have had to suffer thru at great personal sacrifice, and it will inspire you to overcome your present situation and come out smelling like a rose. Carry on lads and lassies! But enough of this sentimental dribble.

The old Siskiyou Smokejumer base closed in the early 80's. The top portion of the jump tower is now at the Siskiyou Rappel Base in Merlin and used as a practice rappel tower. USFS retains use of the warehouse. The rest of the base and runway were turned over to the county. Alot of the buildings and grounds are in some disrepair, which is too bad. When base was active, the buildings and grounds were always kept in very good condition. During fire season, one group of jumpers did nothing but grounds maintenance. Place looked great.

01/12 DA, Fireronin, and others past, present, and future,

At the risk of antagonizing those over 37 years old and those who
support their beginning a career as a federal wildland firefighter or
those who think they might find a cushy, sympathetic position as a
ďsecondary firefighterĒ upon their achieving the dubious achievement
of age 57, I offer the following.

Twenty years of fighting fires is a long time. While those of us who
have held primary firefighting positions know that each season passes
quickly, we have little knowledge of what the next year may bring.

As a forest dispatch manager with 19 years of fireline experience, I
consider the idea espoused by DA-R5er of being forced to accept those
over 57 years old into my area so they may continue their career in
secondary positions highly objectionable. While I feel primary
firefighting experience desirable for a new dispatcher, I would rather
take a high school graduate and train them than I would a 57 year old
who lacks the necessary skills. The author of the latest post should
also know that I and my staff also would rather not be the "acting"
Incident Commander as we dispatch certain fire prevention techs to fires
who are incapable or unwilling to climb the hills to lead the responding
resources into fires.

Sorry folks, Iíve seen too much of it and it angers me. A firefighter
gets injured and management says letís stick Ďem in dispatch. An engine
captain gets too old to keep up with their crew, stick Ďem in a
prevention job. Someone files a grievance or a pleads a hardship case
and they wind up in dispatch cause management doesn't know what to do
with them. They become effective barriers or examples of

The fact is, there arenít many firefighters Iím aware of who have
sustained the motivation or the physical ability to continue on in a
primary firefighter position beyond the age of 45 or so. I know a few
who have and I know there will be those who disagree with me, but from
my observations there are a majority who havenít.

What should happen is. . . before firefighters become unable to sustain
the physical demands of their position descriptions, they plan ahead to
insure they have the education and training to advance to administrative
or management positions. We need these people to promote to the many
positions that are currently being vacated. Some firefighters neglect
to do so or do not have the ability, be it mental or physical and thus
become a handicap. Some of these people spend their early careers
thinking they will always have the desire and ability to pound the
line. They refuse to acquire the necessary skills to further their
career. A damn good engine captain does not necessarily make a good
Battalion Chief. And a great Battalion Chief doesn't guarantee a good
dispatcher. It's a different world.

I have little patience or time to train those who have neglected
considering their future nor put up with any lame ducks. I oppose any
and all who think the dispatch or prevention arena should be an open
dumping ground for the old, lame, sick, or crippled.

Not that there is anything wrong with them being that way.

Der Other Manager
01/11 The Jobs PageSeries 0462 and 0455 are updated. Ab.
01/11 No disrespect meant but we don't need old guys over 57 working in fire. That's even pushing it in a lot of cases. In my opinion, older guys should just gracefully retire. Age discrimination ---Phooy! I was pissed when I couldn't start fighting fire at 16. Didn't see me threatening lawsuit. ---Phooy again!


Didn't live in Oregon, eh? Ab.

01/11 My heart does go out to those temporary employees over age 37 that were hoping for a break and did not get one.

If the federal government wanted to, they could treat you better and make you eligible for appointments, IMHO. One solution is to move you to a secondary FF position after age 57 (support dispatch, prevention technician, fuels, BD, trails, recreation). The other is some sort of buy back into retirement, where you would pay the Feds some amount of dollars for your temporary years to give you 20 years in at age 57. If I'm not mistaken (and I probably am), there is already a program in place for this?

The other solution would be to start litigation. Has anyone ever contacted the lawyers that handled Conelly vs. Glickman in R-5, just to see if they would be interested in another class action suit? It sure seems like age discrimination to me.

Unfortunately, I think the one underlying reason this situation exists is because the people that could do something about it just don't care too much about it.

Good luck, I do hope something works out for you all.
DA, R-5 er

Donelly vs Glickman?
01/11 JC, about your interview

I remember several questions from my CDF interview for a station in a small town somewhat north of San Francisco. It was my first year and I didn't have any fire experience aside from my Regional Occupational Program (ROP).

One was a scenario "what would you do?" that determined if you knew not to step beyond your training in providing medical assistance. Other people got similar questions relating to chain of command in questionable situations regarding fire/rescue training. The correct answer was "Get my supervisor" or have someone get my supervisor simultaneously with some logical approach. 

A second scenario had to do with a hazmat hazard and the correct response was not to get close at all, but to use the "rule of thumb" - hold your thumb out at arm length (like artists do when measuring perspective) and you should stay far enough away that your thumb covers the questionable spill or problem. That's pretty far. Also keep others away.

A third one had to do with how to handle a guy who was not pulling his weight in the firehouse, not doing daily chores or being too messy. I wanted to say I'd smack him if my words didn't work, but they were again looking for a "report him to your superior" after trying this and this and this. 

Finally, they asked some question that got at how important I thought PT was and what athletic activities had I done in the past and I related my past activities to the physical skills I'd learned on field days with the ROP.


Ab, would you add this on to my post -that I ended up going for a FS job because it started earlier in the spring, was more wildland fire and I got to travel out of region fighting fire. It was a good choice for me.

01/11 R-5er and Fireronin,

Guys, thanks for the insight on this age thing, many people for some reason are not up to snuff on the issue.

I have one more question that I would like to pose, is a Fire Prevention position a primary or secondary position? It seems to me that I've seen it flown as a secondary covered position and not subject to the age requirement.

Be Safe
Older Firefighter

01/11 Hey Older FF,
(Actually compared to me you a young pup),

The reason that was repeatedly given to me that the Federal permanent positions are not open to those over 35 is that it would be "unfair" to them as they would not be able to serve long enough to get A) any pension or B) only a partial pension when they reach retirement age.

While I agree that it would be unfair to them if they were unable to get ANY pension I think if the employer were UP FRONT about it most "older firefighters" would think a prorated partial pension is entirely fair.

When I have voiced this opinion to the Federal folks giving me that explanation they just kind of shrug in the universally acknowledged international sign of "I know this is Bull****, but what can I say... that is all I was told."

As it now stands if you are over 37 you are not eligible for a permanent position. I don't think that will change. I suggest that you may wish to give the Feds the international sign for "I am taking my experience and expertise elsewhere" by showing them the back of your head as you leave their office and look to employment with a private contractor. 

I think it ironic that if any private contractor attempted to give a BS reason like that for allowing or committing age discrimination they would get the international sign for " I am going to sue your A** and take everything you own" and the Justice Dept. would likely join in the action on the side of the "older firefighter". Ain't life interesting?

On the surface this would seem to be the same thing...but if you dug deep enough I am sure you would find that the Feds. have exempted themselves from this anti-discrimination law just as they have exempted themselves from many Fair Labor Standard Act statutes when it come to wildland firefighters. And I am sure that you could find a least one federal lawyer that could keep a strait face while arguing that because it is technically legal it is also ethical. So like I said...this is not likely to change.

Nuff Said

PS. Has anyone noticed if the OSHA report on the 30 mile firefighter fatalities is available yet...or is that Web site down too?
01/11 Old Firefighter, 

Here a simple answer about the subject you have raised. Anyone applying for permanent status most be less than 37, this is due to the mandatory retirement age of 57 which was raised from 55. Hope this helps. 

01/10 Hello firefighters

In case you missed it, all 17 ICS training modules are available at the following URL. www.nwcg.gov, click 'Publications" (upper right hand corner), then >click "ICS Training and Forms", then click "ICS Training"


Bob, we have a link to nwcg on the links page under training/education. I have tried that link repeatedly. It has been down as long as the nifc, blm, nps, etc sites. Do you have some special access? Ab.

01/10 Skyeblue,

Are you looking for anything in particular or just trying to get a head start on your training?

NWCG doesn't have much in the way of training materials online, most is only useful to Agency personnel (Task books etc).

Don't know what texts your school will be using but the Firefighter Handbook on Wildland Firefighting by William Teie is very well done, I think he took most of the NWCG material targeting Firefighters to the Crewboss level and rewrote it. It is far easier to read than the official NWCG texts without all the typos and less dry, the humorous illustrations help too. He is was a CDF'r but I won't hold that against him.

If you're interested, you can get it through the Amazon link on the Books Page under Training/Education. Just click on the book cover. When you order it that way, it helps support this forum.

I believe the price was around $35, its one of the best wildland text books I've seen and I have a fair collection by other authors. Teie also does the Fire Officers Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, it is also very well done but a bit more expensive.


Thanks for supporting our site financially USFS FEO. Every little bit helps. Ab.

01/10 Dear Ab,

Earthobservatory has a couple of satellite photos of the Aussie fires.
NOAA's Operational Significant Imagery has some, too

01/10 hey all! not to ruin anyones fun, but just a friendly reminder that the fat season is just about over with so ya better start a regular pt program. april is closer than you think. good luck to all of you in the upcoming season!! and i look forward to working with all of you on the fireline. until then......

eager for fire
01/09 Hi all,

First my thanks for a site as valuable as this one. I am a new Type 6
engine contractor in Washington state. The information here and in the
archives has given me a lot of background and help in getting things set up.
It will all help me to do things the right way and I am looking forward to
meeting some of you on the fireline.

I do have a question for the other contractors or anyone else familiar with
this. What are the requirements for licensing an engine that will be called
out of state? I have seen some engines with an apportioned plate but others
with a standard one. Is the apportioned one required and what are the pros
and cons of each? Didn't see anything about this in the R6 contract.

Thanks for the help!

01/09 To All,
I would like to know why there is a age limit on federal permanent fire
jobs, but not on temporary fire jobs. I'm already 37 and have several
years of fire experience (state, federal ) and education. It seems to me
that this is based on more of a monetary reason for retirement purposes,
than for the actual physical ability to do the job. The federal
government says I cannot work in a permanent fire position, but on the
other hand I can work up until age 57 in a temporary fire position. Do
not both jobs require the same physical effort? How come they do not use
temporary work experience in determining if one falls under the age
limit, only permanent covered positions apply? I have talked with many
people on this subject and have not really got a clear answer. Some folks
say that "yes" you still can be hired over the age of 37 and others say
that "no" you cannot, none of them have given me a definite for sure yes
or no. Several individuals have said that you can buy into the special
retirement system, but they cannot elaborate on it. Even the personnel
people in my park cannot give me a definite answer. I hope I'm not
beating a old horse to death about this, I only hope for a clear and
concise answer on this issue.
Thanks All
Older Firefighter
01/09 Hey JC

Good luck with your interview. I have 12 years on a career dept. in the North east. The only advice I have for you is to be honest and straight don't try to get your way through with any BS. More then likely the person doing the interview would pick up on it. Don't be afraid to say I don't know if asked a question but do offer to find the answer or ask what the answer is. Also before going to your interview sit down and think really hard why you want to be part of one of the most rewarding careers. Good luck don't be afraid to ask if you would like more help.


01/09 Hi All

Am glad to see that the fires are diminishing in Australia, though their still not out of the woods yet (pardon the pun). When I was on a bush fire brigade many years ago, we were taught to consider a eucalyptus tree in front of the flame front as a 44 gallon drum of gas. Crowning fires in the US are the closest I've seen to what a decent sized Aussie Bush fire is like.

Am also relieved to see that they are actually recognizing the fact that fires are eventually won by the people on the ground. For a while there, reading the Sydney Morning Herald on the web, the reporters and politicians seemed to think that the helicopter was able to knock down, mop up, cut fire lines, brew its own beer, sell more papers, pick the winning lotto numbers, get the politicians reelected and solve world hunger in one drop. Thank goodness they have released that. It has to be a well co-ordinated group effort of all involved.

Enough for now


(definitely home sick sitting here in the cold, when fires are raging back at Mum and Dad's)
01/09 Hey AB,

The surf has been pounding the left coast for the past couple of weeks, I love the winter time.

Just read some reports on Erickson sending two more sky-cranes to Australia, and the fires are starting to ease up alittle. Those poor guys need a break, keep your spirits up Aussies and stay safe.

01/09 I looked into it and all classes I am taking are listed as "subject follows NWCG standards". I can't get into the NWCG site or NIFC site (both are listed on my future coursework) any ideas on how to link to them?

I have been having my kids follow the fires down under with me and my oldest son has expressed a desire to see the pic's of the fires from space as mentioned some days before. I have looked all over and can't find them can someone also point me in the right direction on this one? The boys are actually very concerned about the plight of the koalas and have asked if the can help, so they are saving aluminum cans and picking up trash around our neighborhood (I give a nickel per piece of trash) and want to send the $$'s to help. *shrug* can't argue with helping out!


The NWCG and NIFC sites you mention are some of the DOI sites that we've been talking about that are down due to a federal judge's ruling. Read back through last month's theysaid and you can learn all about it. Ab.

01/08 Apparently the BLM seasonal fire jobs are going through
https://jobs.quickhire.com/scripts/qhwebfedblm.exe  which must be a private
contractor, since the agency itself is still disconnected from the web.


01/08 Someone has started a bad rumor about crews being sent to Australia. 


NICC has not received any orders from Australia. The two countries need to sign a MOU to allow for the movement of resources between the countries. The only resources that might have gone to Australia are some of Erickson 's Helicopters. (Erickson has a contract with the Aussie Gov't.) Please share this information with your fire folks and local contract resources.

Happy New Year.

01/08 Did you know that you only need to be 16 yr. old to get a seasonal firefighter position with the Oregon Department of Forestry? Check out the Jobs Page for details. I updated the Series 0462 and 0455 pages also.


01/07 Hi all-

Haven't read the site much since like, summer, and I always feel terribly out of touch when I don't write in. So, since all y'all seem to like reading a lot since you follow this site, I thought I'd catch up on all of that writing I haven't done and add my two cents worth...

Skyblue... looks like you've gotten some good advice... all I'd say is that I think a wildland fire science degree may help with the personnel rating process of your application, but it won't necessarily qualify you for line experience on a fire UNLESS the courses you take are official NWCG-type courses. I don't know if they have to relate to taskbooks or not. I think it's good advice to tie in with a local unit... that's the best way to learn the system and what you need to do to get in. It's been my experience that it doesn't matter what education you've had-the agency still wants you to go through their qualifications process. I can appreciate this in some cases, but most of the time it's a huge waste of money for the agency and the person. Also, I know the North Lake Tahoe FD has a wildland fire handcrew and maybe does some fuels work you could look into if you don't have any luck with other agencies in your area... might be worth checking into.

"Done"... I'm thinking this site would not be what it is if we didn't all think about fire some in our free time. Capt1835 makes has a point - I heard the Pechanga burnout was textbook style and excellent... but I also think RX fire is also a good place aside from just hotshot experience to learn fire behavior and how to get things to burn the way you want them to, with the right tools even.

USFS FEO--Hey, I'm confused too (about the disdain for a wildland firefighter series), and it's good to see I'm not the only one. Best I can figure out is, if wildland firefighting gets its own higher-paid series, we begin encroaching on the chiefs and lawmakers. IE: we're currently on a scale where engine/hotshot foremen & sups are GS-06 through 08s, BCs/AFMOs are 09s, DCs/DFMOs are 11s, Forest FMOs are like 12s or so, regional assistant directors are 13s, the deputy is a 14, and the director is a 15 (maybe not in all regions). Above that you hit the regional forester world, etc. If wildland fire seriously moves into its own series, and starts to make the kind of money that NON-LA-type city firefighters make, let alone southern California rates, you have some issues with the higher-up levels -- not to mention budgets. It seems like the same kind of problem you have on a fire when a truck driver makes more money than the IC. Anyway, this is just the only rationalization I've been able to come up with about why a FFT series is so troublesome. What I'm really curious about is how come the military uses a FFT series and we don't? Ahh, life's great mysteries.

Well, that's enough for today. Take care and be safe- Happy New Year!


PS - Happy New Year Ab(s)! Long time no see... Maybe this spring, eh? Whoever y'all are

Welcome back to the fray, Trouble (with a capital T). From what I've heard, the meal truck driver always makes more money than the Type I IC. That is inequitable. The Abs.

01/07 Ab, here is the latest...

As far as we can tell, the 0462 Special Salary rate was approved with a few exceptions for the four Southern Forests, BLM, Fish and Feathers, BIA, and other Interior Agencies.

>From GS-2 to GS-8, a 30% increase was applied to the BASE GS level at step 1. At the GS-9 through GS-12 it was stepped down significantly.

After the level of step 1 for all grades, the NORMAL (and I use that term loosely) step increase for the BASE GS level was applied. It appears that ALL special salary rates receive the same tiered step interval no matter what your pay status is. As you gain a step... you loose a dollar..... The good news is.... WE ARE NOW ONE OF THE HIGHEST PAID FEDERAL EMPLOYEES GROUPS AT OUR GRADES" in the country. We almost caught up with the LEO's in the LA area adjustment. I know, its not much.

The only way I can spell it is that here is your new table for SoCal, I guess it's better than a kick in the butt....:

2002 salary rate

01/06 JC,
I just interviewed and was hired by a small department. For the interview
just do the same as you would for any interview. if it is anything like
mine, the questions they will ask will try to relate previous job experiences
to situations faced as a firefighter. try to use examples from any fire
experience you have and you should do well. Good Luck.

good point about adapting FS terminology to that of the rest of the fire
community. with a few sacrifices we can all make it easier to work

I hope everyone had a good holiday season.
Stay safe
01/06 Backfire vs. Burnout

The key words here are indirect and direct.

"Backfire" is an indirect method (especially in hot, fast moving fires) of using natural barriers, dozerlines, roads well away from the main fire. It is a command decision, usually planned out but at times can be hastily put together.

  • Pros: MAY (emphasis on MAY) influence the spread of the main fire , Put line in using existing or natural barriers, back off to more manageable fuel beds
  • Cons: Depends on weather, winds, lines being in, holding forces, pre-determined escape to safety
    If it isn't done right, you might lose your shorts or make a really big mess (anybody remember the Marre Fire?)

"Burnout" is a tactic used in direct attack as a way of straightening and strengthening fireline, allowing you to put line in where you want, i.e. through lighter fuels, making it go faster.

  • Pros: makes for stronger line, is done at the crewboss (or trusted crewmember) level,
    "bringing the black" with you gives you access to safety
  • Cons: putting fire where there is no fire i.e. cold trailing, putting too much fire down and losing all your work
Disclaimer: These pros/cons are not all inclusive, just some things I thought of.

Where to draw the line between direct/indirect? depends on the complexity of the situation, remember things are very fluid when its romping, one minute direct the next indirect, as long as the job gets done and no one gets hurt.

As for Wag Dodge's "escape fire", I dont think it is either of these. He did what he thought would work at the time. And it did, unfortunately only for him.


01/06 USFS FEO,

To make it short and sweet... good reply and not too controversial... your New Years vows seem to have worked... HAHA...Your views are shared by many in the wildland community and by most in R-5 ( I SAID MOST!!!) but they are too afraid to talk. Best wishes to you and the WHOLE Wildland Fire Community in 2002..... I hope all the lurkers.. (and those of you from the WO and RO's who are just watching) gain as much info from this site as I do.


01/06 I am looking for some help. I will be taking my first oral interview 
with a small city dept. and was wondering if anyone had any tips or 
links to sites that gave tips on what to say in the interview. Any help 
would be greatly appreciated.


01/06 Hi All, Happy New Year. I celebrate you all! May we be safe in the new year...

Catching up:

As far as "dwelling" on fire after the season is over, it's really common. Everyone thinks back over tactics and decisions. After my first year, I thought I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I hadn't even felt particularly distressed - except I musta been 'cause I chewed Larry W out for something not his fault. I apologized later. Turned out he and some shots had even hooked a critical slopover. <chuckle> We're still excellent friends. I think being on high alert for extended months (Adrenalin Junkie), breathing smoke with sleep deprivation alters neurotransmitters and brain cells. In my case, it's lucky I had so many fire friends who reassured me that my feelings were "normal". This website helped immessurably. Ab, was a life-saver. I love ya bunches, Dude! <smooch>

Oh, a Zulie is a Missoula smokejumper. Murray Taylor mentions them in his Jumping Fire, a book I just finished. What a read!!! With him, you live the alternating excitement and boredom. You smell the smoke, feel the heat, are ready to throw up with plane turbulence <ugh> and experience the treetop through your thigh<OUCH>. I almost peed-in-my-pants a couple of times. And, oh, the heartbreak over girlfriends. Fickle, fickle. I hope Murray changed their names to protect the innocent (well maybe not entirely innocent)! <little Madonna smile> I recommend it to all. There's quite a bit of history there as well as a dynamic summer fire story. NOT DULL! I had to get up in the middle of one night to finish it! Couldn't wait for morning. I also had to have a new look at the smokejumper photos on this website. Brownie was a Zulie. He was jumping a little before those same years.

Speaking of jumpers, does anyone know what happened to the jumper training site near Cave Junction OR? I looked for it as we drove hwy199 to Grants Pass and didn't see the tower. Has it closed, or just moved? (Firehorse, I missed you too, Bro. <hug> Maybe next time. K, you're up that coast somewhere, too! Another roadtrip!)

AW, love your "save your butt" category for Dodge's fire.

Sammi, thanks for sharing fireshelter info. Sounds like the FS is on track. Did you read that the Canadians don't even have shelters? Do I remember someone saying that the Aussies were just beginning to adopt them last year? After this season, I would think there might be a big push Down Under. GAWD, what huge flames greet us every night on the news! Hope they're being safe.

mp, I'm looking forward to some of your fire pics. Send em in.

Country Rover, I do not know Krstopher, but we have mutual friends. He has a dynamite website. He's a good writer and has an honesty and ease of expression that is refreshing. I hooted my way through his "What makes me laugh" page. He's also from northern CA and will probably return here when he can travel. I hope I do get a chance to know him. In the meantime, I'm going to keep checking out his website for updates.

As usual, I really enjoy the questions, answers and sharing of information that occurs on theysaid. It's good to see you "political animals" are pokin' that hornets' nest! Poke on!!!!

As this new year begins, I thank my lucky stars that I have all of you! (WP, Hickman, Jim, DC, Sting, MOC, Fireronin, DM, and the rest -- love you guys and gals!) The work and fun just never lets up.

(Ab, I checked, and this is not as long as USFS-FEO's posts! Imagine that!)

Commercial plug: Remember our fire books page and to order through Amazon to support our forum. Ab.

01/05 I thought the basic difference between a Backfire and a burnout was the intent, a Backfire is lit to influence the main fire while a burnout is to remove the fuel between the line and the fire. That has always been my simple understanding of the two. That said I too would be happy to get more information on the subject.

This may be a little semantic but wasn't Dodge's fire lit ahead of the main fire with the crew between the two fires. If so I would think it was neither a backfire of a burnout since it was lit to make a safety zone and save them, I don't think he gave any thought as to what if any other effects it was going to have (proper attitude to have in the situation in my opinion), that would sort of take away from it being a backfire and as you said it wasn't to reduce the fuel between the line and the fire which takes away from it being a burnout. Perhaps a new category is needed, how about a save your butt fire? :-) [Legal Disclaimer (No smokejumpers were hurt in this email and no insult is intended towards the 13).]


01/05 SoCalCapt
I have to agree with your assessment of the GS8 Engine Captain positions. Engines and Type 2 crews are about the only ones left without a National standard. I guess much of the irritation in many of my December posts is really directed towards the WO rather than the RO's and below. The RO's are the ones that should be setting their policies to meet their needs, not the WO. That starts sounding a little like taxation without representation, which resulted in another little debate about 226 years ago but my mind wanders.

I am also confused by the apparent disdain shown by some, about the Forest Service evolving from a forestry agency into a professional fire service. I am bewildered by the lack of interest of many and the outright hostility of a few towards the proposed Wildland Firefighter series and the adoption of common fire service titles in R5 such as Captain and Engineer. I thought we were supposed to use a common language. Many from other agencies get a funny look when you tell them you're an Engine Foreman until you explain its the same thing as one of their engine captains.

Well I'm going back into my cave now before I cause anymore trouble, Happy 2002 everybody. 


FEO, feel free to "mouth on" as long as you like. We know trouble is your middle name. Ab.

01/05 Hi TD,
IMHO, if the intent is what matters, I don't think Dodge's fire was either a burnout or a backfire. He wasn't trying to widen the line or to influence the fire's behavior. He was just trying to make a safe place so he and his crew could survive. I think it was inspired. Had anyone even coined the terms backfire and burnout in 1949? Anyone know when those terms were first used? Also, does anyone know what a Zoolie (or Zulie) is? (Not a fire. I think some kind of a person maybe a smokejumper?)

Captain 1835,
I have talked with some of my crew and they're thinking of fire and our summer experiences, too. "Dwell," that's a good word. I guess I'm normal after all. (Thanks for the anonymity, Ab.) Thanks for you insights, Capt. So maybe I should be applying for hotshots to speed up my fire experiences.

Done my first summer, aka Strider

01/05 Sven,

I have to agree with you on the majority of your postings and I think we are both aiming for the same goals. The only problem is that directly after the GS-8 Captain's audit, a letter was sent out by the WO saying that the GS-8 National PD was applicable only to California positions (and seems to be supported by the current ASAP announcement in clear print). I don't agree with the position that any of our positions are different from region to region. A PROFESSIONAL WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER IS A PROFESSIONAL WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER. That appears to me that the WO was trying to stop collateral damage from spreading to other regions (pure financial). From R-5 (at least from me), we would love to see the other Regions take up the GS-8 National PD on more positions. "Desk Audits" work for both the agency and the employee. Local PD's work great also, if they have a secondary desk audit (and a little pressure from above to make sure they are graded appropriately and not ECONOMICALLY)....

01/05 Done One Year,
dodge's fire was indeed a backfire, not a burnout. everything between a fire and a break (be it
natural or manmade) is fuel, IF the fire can sustain itself long enough to reach it. dodge's fire
might well have looked like the reaction of a madman, but you also have to remember that it
takes trust and b***s to lie in front of a flamefront in the here and now, and what you'll boast
about in camp. if you feel "creepy", something might just be wrong.

Skyeblue and other firefighters,
get your EMT certification~! in 2000, it made the difference between 10.00 an hour and 19.00
(i made more than the crew rep in Idaho and Montana).


01/05 USFS FEO

I am in the Reno, NV area. But am not "set" on staying in this area. My husband is POST certified out of Idaho, so Idaho is always an option, plus he has enough hours to get a basic certificate from CA so he could get on at a police department in CA....to be honest I am leaning towards getting back to where I grew up (Northern CA).

Again thanks for all the input!

As I start up my classes I am sure I will be back bugging you guys for more info:)


01/04 Hi Ab:

Been awhile, I'll send you more burning pics. Got to meet a man that was from your area. I briefed him on the buckhorn fire. Pulled up in his red L.A. county fire rig. The first thing I asked him if he was lost. He was a tall drink of water, thought we were crazy for putting cat lines in that steep of ground. I said I didn't do it the cat skinner did and besides it was cat logged about 25 years ago so what's the big deal.

nice guy. can't remember his name.

thank you for a great fire site
stay safe

Well, mp, you got the state right, but LA is a loooooong way from me... Ab.

01/04 Hello again :)

Thank you to everyone for the great input!

Unfortunately I am in a contract with my current employer until Sept 2002 but am going to look at other options in my area (on a volunteer basis or internship). My hubby and all of our friends are in public service I may see if someone can pull a string or two for me...bad I know but I really really want this!!

It is required to get First Responder Certified to graduate but is it more to my benefit to get EMT cert?

Oh yeah...lol...school starts in 2 weeks and I will graduate May of 2003 :)

Thanks again!
01/04 Skyeblue,

You didn't mention which area (State) you were looking at working, it does make some difference in the answer you get.

Otherwise I don't have much to add to backburnfs except, go talk to the crew leaders, AFMO, FMO etc depending on who is around this time of year in your area and who does the hiring, that varies. In Region 5 (California) generally the crew leaders hire, in some regions the AFMO or FMO do the hiring. If you are motivated and show interest (by showing your face around) it should not be that hard to get a temp-seasonal job, once you are there your supervisor should be able to help direct you towards your goals (that is actually part of their job). 

If I were looking to get into a job now I would go to an open house if offered, however I have not been involved in or heard any feedback from any of the FS open houses so I don't know how much or the quality of the information being offered.

30 is not to old to get started I was 27 when I started, age does generally buy life experience and teach job skills which is worth something, I don't mind teaching you your job, thats why I'm there, I don't particularly care to teach people how to be an employee (show up on time, work when not being watched, find things to do etc), I find that is often the benefit of hiring an older applicant they usually have some work experience from other jobs.

Education won't hurt but how much it helps depends on the location you will be working in, EMT is generally one of the more useful skills you can bring with you, most of the rest that you will need we will teach you eventually. If you can get into an S130/190 basic wildland firefighter class that will help also but again it is not mandatory that you be trained prior to hire. Also practice for the pack test, its not really that hard but it is not something you should walk into cold.

The MEA (Maximum Entry Age) has been raised to 37 years of age (I saw a message about it sometime August / Septemberish), that does mean that if you ARE 37 you are too old for a permanent primary fire job (must not have reached your 37th birthday) this does not affect secondary fire or temporary jobs.

01/04 Skyeblue,

I would definitely go to the open house where you live. You will learn and get a bunch of information on the job and how the hiring process works. Your age is not a concern yet, the minimum hiring age has gone to the age of 37 due to the retirement going up to 57.

If you don't find the answers you are looking for, Call this number and fire away (<snip> from 1000-1600 ).

Hope this helps out.


An-R5er, I snipped your phone number because we get a LOAD of e-mails here regarding job stuff. Someone of the Abs usually writes back to most of them. I don't want you to be overwhelmed with calls. Skyeblue, if you want this number, email and I'll pass it on. Ab.

01/04 Skyeblue,

Yes a degree will help you but you need to get three things EXPERIENCE, EXPERIENCE, EXPERIENCE.

Do all you can to get a summer job this season. Work with a federal agency, state forestry, private contractor, or volunteer fire dept. but get out there and sell yourself so you can get started on your career.

I have hired 100's of firefighters in my career and these are the things I look for.

1. Attitude. Positive, Outgoing, Teachable.
2. Physical fitness.
2. Wildland fire experience.
3. Other qualifications, EMT, CDL, Saw skills, etc.
5. Education.

Hope this helps. Good Luck.


01/04 Mellie,

I assume you had some personal contact with "Kristofer" being you posted his site on our forum here. I went there back when you posted, and have tried to go back since then. Problem is, his site is down. Do you know why? I went through a similar experience and I hope everything is ok. Any info you could give me would be great. Thanks.

How 'bout the pics from space over Australia. WOW. BE SAFE GUYS.

County Rover

I just checked and it's still there. His name is spelled in an unusual way and his nickname is Krs. Here's the link again: www.krstofer.org/. If you haven't visited, check it out. Ab.

01/04 lo AB,

Skyeblue, i may be wrong but i believe you can still get into federal fire till age 35, and are able to add your previous years experience to that to gain your cutoff age. I believe they are doing this so you can still have enough time to earn a retirement. but there are others more qualified to answer this, BC, Mellie, Lurker, Ab, etc

When we were in Australia, we were surprised to see how they fight fires. Its not uncommon here in the US to see a 10,000 foot hoselay or longer on a project fire. The aussies I was working with said "if we cant drive to within 200' of it we wait."

They also rely on volunteers heavily. Australia has the highest rate of volunteerism in the world. Well trained, well equipped.

Thats about all I got on that for now.

later all - Eric

The Minimum Entry Age (MEA) is 35. With retirement age being pushed up to 57, it would make sense if the MEA moved to 37, but I don't know if it has. Anyone know for sure? Hmmmmm...  I should do a wlfSearch to see anything conclusive was sent in to theysaid... Ab.

01/04 Hey Ab

I was wondering how the fires are fought in Australia. Do they use handcrews as much as we do here in R5 or is the terrain flatter so it is more sensible to use engines and tractors? Looking at the news coverage of how pure stands of Eucs burn makes our fires seem small in comparison, except when we have hard runs in large Old growth timber stands. 

Take care and to the aussies keep your heads up and watch out.

01/04 Ok I am done lurking :)

I stumbled on this site a few weeks back and find myself back here every day and each day I learn something new.

I had the dream of being part of a Wildland Fire Crew over a decade ago but I went the "safe" route as my family wanted (business ICKY)...well...push has finally come to shove and this is something I CAN and WILL do!! I start classes at the local college to get my degree in Wildland Fire Science in 2 weeks!

So now with all that I have a few questions.

Will having a degree make a difference or is just obtaining the certifications enough?

I am going to find problems with my age getting on a crew? (I am 30 but able to handle and enjoy the physical demands of the job) I only ask this because every one I have ever known in this field started young.

There is a Forest Service open house 2 hours from me this coming weekend....is it worth it to go to one of these? 

Thank you for all your help!

Welcome Skyeblue. Clarification is needed. Do you start in 2 weeks? I doubt you can get a degree in two weeks. <haw> <haw> We know about the push for accelerated training, but that would be too much. Readers, any answers for the other questions? Ab.

01/03 Australia is getting hammered. I just saw some news coverage on the net about the fires in Aussie land WOW!!! 

They are getting worked. I hope they catch a lot of the idiots starting must of the fires. 

Hey bushman, keep your eyes open and heads up for wind shifts. You guys are doing a fantastic job, my prayers will be with all of you to stay safe and injury free. 

Keep up the great work and stay safe. 


Yeah, 1200 mi of firefront that comes within 11 mi of Sydney. Lots of interface there. Yeow! Ab echoes your safety warning, R5er. Readers, check out the Current News page, button in the header, for info.

01/03 Eric W.

In your quest for knowledge Re: the BIA and DOI stuff, you probably saw this.

You are currently unable to access the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) web site because of litigation against the Department of the Interior (DOI) regarding access to Indian trust data or assets. On December 5, a court order from U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth required DOI and its agencies to disconnect from the internet all information systems until it can be demonstrated that systems housing or providing access to individual Indian trust data or assets meet appropriate security standards. We are currently reviewing all information systems and certifying to the court's satisfaction that all of BLM's computer systems protect all critical information. As a result, you cannot view the BLM's home page or send e-mail to DOI or its agencies.

We are working diligently to comply with the court order so that we can restore full service to our customers as soon as possible. Until that time, please telephone your local BLM office for assistance. We apologize for the inconvenience this presents.

Not only has this little injunction created problems for our internet access, keep in mind that the whole 'shoot'in' match has been messed with, to include governmental funding to local Indian Tribes and Nations. My PL93-638 fire suppression contract, which is in effect for the next 2 years, has been placed on hold. Although our Tribe is still providing wildland fire protection and prevention, our reimbuseable costs will not go through and be funded until such time the injunction is lifted. As you can imagine, there may be problems with funding fire positions government wide as a result of the current events. Lets hope not.

In question to your request for mechanical burning, here in the southwest, most Indian Tribes are in the prescribed burning or the old adage "Prescribed Natural Fire". In Indian Culture, it is not very nice to mess with mother Earth and destroy what is still living. Mechanical thinning kind'a goes in the lives of destroying the living. If you would like, I can offer some names from some of my Forest Service friends who know about mechanical removals. Have AB give you my e-mail. Best of luck!

AZ Trailblazer

01/03 Hi:

This is Eric Wessman at Natural Resources Consulting Engineers. We
routinely work as a consultant to various Indian Reservations and I am
presently working on a project for the Western Governors Association. I am
looking for functional web pages/links to BIA and Tribal Wildfire
management specialists. Two questions:

1. It seems all BIA web pages, I can find, are not operable. Can you refer
me to any that are ???

2. Do you know of any other links or people which might be able to answer
questions with regard to non-burning methods of fuel control??

Thanks Eric Wessman
 Natural Resources Consulting Engineers
131 Lincoln Ave
Fort Collins, Colorado 80524
01/02 Other region supporter;

A few points regarding the GS-8 engine foreman PD:
1) There are in fact three National PD's for engine foreman, based on engine size and number of people supervised;
     GS-8 PD for Type 3 engines, 5 person crew, 7 days
     GS-6 PD for Type 4-6 engines, 3 person crew, 7 days
     GS-5 PD for Type 4-6 engines, 3 person crew, 5 days
These PD's have always been available for use by any FS unit, not just R5. As an example, the Savannah River Institute in South Carolina has used the GS-8 one for quite a while.
2) Believe it or not, not every engine crew can be covered by the 3 standard PD's. For example, there are Type 4-6 engines with 5 person crews (R5 and R1 both have a few). There are also Type 3 engines with 3 person crews (R3 and R6 have lots).
3) Regions do not have to stick to the National PD's. Regions 1 & 4 run a lot of engines that are Type 4-6, 3 person crew, 7 days. They have developed their own GS-7 PD rather than use the National GS-6 PD.

01/02 Sammi requested info on the current status of the Storm King fire shelter. To read the letter she got back, click here.
01/02 I recently applied for a CDF Crew Captain slot does anyone have any good
information on these positions?


e-mail hotshots07@msn.com

01/02 I updated the Wildland Firefighter Job Series 0462 and 0455 pages yesterday. No new postings on the Jobs Page.

I have added several things to the links page:
1) The Forest Service link to the NICC Sit Reports (in Rich Text Format). When the DOI websites are restored, I will reinstate the NIFC sit report links.
2) Also, the link to the proceedings of the Wildfire Safety Summit - it's the last listing under safety. If you have any free time this winter, there are some good papers there. Don't forget to checkout 6 Minutes to Safety. Today's topic is hypothermia.


01/01 To Done:

Just a few quick thoughts on your reflection and backfire/burnout questions. Yes, most of us do dwell on the fires of the past, some for over 20 years or maybe forever in my case! My experience in many failed and a few spectacular successful backfires has been that you must have a place to start and a place to end. If you are just firing into never never land it rarely works. The other thing is having the right tools for the job. You can't fire chaparral with fusees (most years) and not just make a complete and dangerous mess. Quick Fire stuff or aerial torches are required, and not many are proficient at their use. I saw the Stanislaus(?) Hotshots do two excellent jobs two years ago on the Plaskett Fire on the LP and the Pechanga Fire on the Cleveland. That kind of expertise is not available except in the Hotshot ranks.

Captain 1835
01/01 Hi Ab,

I've been reading 'They Said' ever since I found the site this past summer,
around the same time I decided I wanted to get into forest fire-fighting.
I'm Canadian, in Ontario, and I'm hoping to join a crew this coming season
here in Ontario, I was wondering if there are any Ontario fire-fighters that
read your site, and if they have any information on the hiring process, any
useful hints on getting hired etc. (I've got my S100, chain-saw cert. etc)
I'm hoping to get on a crew in one of the more remote regions in Ontario.
If there's anyone that I could hook up with that is currently working in any
of the West bases that would be great!

Thanks for such an informative site, and have a great 2002!


Hi Mick. You're welcome. We do have Canadian readers/posters. Perhaps the young guy who sent in the helo, dozer and fire photos will have some suggestions. Ab.

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