"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
I've been reading this talk about the Optimol mix for saw and pumps. We've
been using it for many years in saws, pumps, generators, etc. and the
stuff runs great! It's smokeless, it's a fuel stabilizer, and you mix it
100:1 in everything!,and it runs just fine! In fact, The Stihl company
won't even void your warranty if you use it in brand new saws. I was
reluctant to use it at first, and only used itr in old stuff, but the
longer I used it, the more I liked it. Now it"s all we carry on my
engine, with no more need for all of the different mixes.
It comes in different brand names, most being made by the same company.
The brand I use is called " Opti-Plus" and We get it at Daves
Small Engine in Weaverville, Ca. It comes in small bottles and gallon
||Welcome to AZ, Sky!!!! There are a lot of opportunities in AZ in
fire...there are several forests in Az from the southern end to the
northern end that hires engine folks, several good established hotshot
crews and many other positions from look outs, prevention and dispatch. We
have the BLM, USFS, NPS, BIA, AZ State Lands and several rural depts and
contractors that hire fire fighters for wildland. Az offers hot deserts to
high country timber and of course beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Az has
big cities like PHX and Tucson as well as very small towns such as Nowhere
AZ and Hope AZ. If you look at the ASAP hiring program you will be able to
find out contacts for these various locations..give them a call now and
ready for next season...
Well worn one
PS..Can ya'all tell I am a bit biased about Az?
Yep, AZ, right next to OZ, but twice as good! Yellow brick road? Can
it take you to that Nowhere AZ place? HAW HAW. Ab.
The Indiana DNR offers all sorts of wildland training - I took classes
last year on the last weekends in April, in Indianapolis. They have real
good instructors, reasonable tuition, and can usually get you into the
classes at the last minute. I know for a fact that they offer S-130/190,
and I-100, as well as pack test you. I found their schedules through MATS
(i think its linked somewhere on this site - a little help Ab?) Give them
a call, they're very helpful,
Go to the links page under training.
For the first 7 years of my career I worked on a district that used a
product called Optimal. Same theory as "only one". We used it in
Husky, Stihl and Homelite chainsaws, brushcutters and weedwhackers. We
also used it in all our portable pumps; Hale, Homelite, Wajax-Pacific and
Shindaiwa. All the equipment performed just fine with no malfunctions
attributed to the gas mix. Personally I think switching over to a
"one mix" product is the smart thing to do. I think it saves
time, money and space. Optimal comes in one gallon plastic tubes that are
easy to use and are very durable. Hope this info can help you out.
I know this will fall under a "Classifieds" Item but could
you post it on "They Said". Its time-critical.
This is a request for to anyone in North Zone Region 5, or to
anyone else who can help. I am putting on a Wildland Refresher
Course for my fire department and some other agency Red-Card
qualified personnel. We are in a serious budget crunch where
we cannot spend any money other than for essentials for day-to-day
or emergency operations.
This is my first formal refresher class for a paid department
and I do not have enough money to purchase what I need from NIFC
Ordering. I've already spent close to $100.00 for videos and
other training materials and props, and can't spend anymore.
So here is what I need: I need around One Hundred (100) of the
NWCG Initial Response Pocket Guides for 2001 labled NFES #1077
& PMS #461 (This is the new one with the "How to Refuse Risk
topic in it). This is the yellow pocket guide that is being issued
to all wildland firefighters and is used as a quick reference
on the line in place of the red Fireline Handbook. If someone
has at least 100 of these available I am willing to trade a Like-New
Federal Signal 56" All-Right AeorDynic Lightbar in Red. (Photos
can be sent upon request). This is my own property I got in a trade
and its the only collateral I have, unless someone wants a large
number of my department t-shirts in trade.
If anyone can help please let me know. Thanks.
If you got your application from Boise, then there should be a green
package of papers with phone numbers to all the Forest and there
Districts. You can look on that list and find the numbers you are looking
for, just find the Forest and the District you are looking for if you know
Once you do that make some phone calls and talk to the Fire folks and tell
them who you are and you are interested in a job. I can tell you the Los
Padres has done their hiring for seasonals already, but don't give up hope
there might be some people who won't make it.
Hope this helps you out and make those phone call's ASAP.
||I am wondering if I can get some input on crews, opportunities, etc in
Arizona. I am suddenly finding myself in the position of being a resident
that way by next season and have never really researched Arizona before
and am scrambling to find out as much as I can.
Any input is GREAT!
||The Jobs Page, Series
0462 and 0455
are updated. Ab.
||I would like to take a minute to reply to Rileys comments about wildland
structural..I may be a bit behind the power curve here on comments but
week and half events have put me out of touch with "They
Said"...the SW is
First off, I have worked wildland fire since 1976 and when off season I
have worked at structural depts from volunteer to paid and have had the
opportunity to be a site Fire Chief for a major aircraft testing Co and am
currently fulltime in wildland in the management arena.. I have worked my
way up from a ground pounder/hose person to ICT3/structural fire ground
command....with that said..
Mr Riley..we are all one big family of fire fighters made up from men and
women across the nation..we have a bond very few professions share. The is
no one branch of our fire operations that is more dangerous than the
others..each specialty has it owns risks inherent to the job. Perhaps you
may not realize the differences but they exist. You and I both take pride
in the field we have chosen...perhaps rather than compare the fields let's
take the time to learn more about the differences. I , for one and there
are others , will be glad to assist you in learning about our chosen
fields and to learn from you. With the proper training I would be glad to
take you on a wildland fire.
well worn one in the SW
||Some info on communication.
One thing that makes communicating on theysaid hard at times is that 70%
of human communication is done without words through facial expression,
gesture and timing. More is expressed through tone of voice. It's a back
and forth. We also gain clues to meaning via history with the communicator
and the context of the communication, from their age, gender, and
experience, knowing their life circumstances, much of it based on prior
interactions with them, usually face-to-face.
A good deal of that is stripped away in communicating here especially
with new people, those who post infrequently and those who are not so
adept at writing. We don't have faces to go with monikers or initials.
(Monikers are easier to remember than initials.) We usually don't have a
history. So we are more likely to interpret what they write in in the
context of our own experience and meaning. In the context of our own
issues and hot buttons. We react or respond from that place.
Sometimes in the reaction we get off the issues and get personal.
Well, Riley, and others lurking out there, we certainly can tell what
some of the hot buttons are among wildland firefighters. These are
important issues that have come up in reaction to your post, Riley. The
passion expressed is real and one reason why I love the people in this
community. They're passionate about their work. Also why I really
appreciate this forum.
One thing I like about theysaid is the leveling that occurs here. While
anonymity has its drawbacks, it has its advantages, too. Status is not
evident. We don't know who the ICs the DIVs the grunts are, unless they
offer that info. We don't know gender or whether someone is state, fed,
contractor, vollie, dispatcher, etc. What I like most is what my
imagination does to people. Except for Abercrombie, the theysaid-ers
who I have met in person are never so tall, so young, so handsome or
beautiful or buff or of the complexion (or gender?!) I imagined. They are
infinitely more interesting. As for Ab, he's just as I pictured him!
Out of curiosity I hit the search and looked in the archives to see
what Riley might have written before. Not much, in early March some
questions about the job he thought he might be getting, asking how the
system worked... A newbie for sure looking forward to his first wildland
fire job, wondering about certs and housing, etc. (Fedfire, good job at
figuring out what he/she might have been asking. I think you're right. I
appreciate your contributions here, too, along with Old Fire Guy who
always corrects me so nicely if Abercrombie doesn't first.)
Riley, I don't think anyone replied to your first post asking about
training and red carding, but when you are hired by the feds if you still
want to be, you will be trained. Relax about finding that training in your
area prior to hire. If you want to study ahead and have the computer
power, download the S-130 and S-190 and I-100 power points and have a
first go at the information. That's not really necessary though.
Thanks Ab for the forum. Thanks folks for the passion. Ya'll are tops
in my book!
OK, this wouldn't be a Mellie message without a big ol'
<hug><squeeze><chuckle> for all around.
||I have had a long time problem and worry that I have recently heard of a
possible solution but would like to know if others have been using a
project. In my world we have various portable pumps & chain saws that
different gas/oil mixes to operate. And I am always afraid that some
unknowing individual will grab the wrong mix for what is needed. Recently
saw a product put out by Oregon called "Only One", 2-cycle
engine oil. It
claims to meet all 2 cycle engine needs in that you can use this one
for all your equipment using a mixed fuel with this product. Additionally
have talked to a logger that says he has used Husqvarna
stroke engine oil with a universal 50-1 mix is all his saws, brush
weed whackers, ice auger etc at home for over a year with no problem.
I have several brand new mark 3's sitting in the garage but am reluctant
try this in them and have them get fried the first time out. Does anyone
have any experience with stuff like this?
One last note to Riley: See, I told ya so. I kept my comments brief as I
just needed to vent, especially cause it sounded like you are from near my
neck of the woods. Structural and wildland suppression are both equally
hard in my opinion and both require substantial knowledge and experience
operate successfully and safely. -enough said-
I applied in various locations for the seasonal wild land fire fighting.
Is there a list of phone numbers of the places I could call to see if I am
on their short lists? Thank you.
||For all the wildland FF's,
I'm sorry how my last post came out!!! I really need to learn to write
better than I do and I need to still learn how to think about how
something might sound first before I speak!!! So again I am really sorry
how that last statement came out. After I went back and re-read it a
couple of times I can see how it could be misinterpreted and how much I
sounded like a horses ass.
Fedfire said it how I was really trying to say it. My papers hadn't
come from Boise and I was anxious about getting hired. I didn't know how
the system worked. I just meant that the entry level training for wildland
was shorter and I could then start as a probie on the line. I didn't mean
that structural was harder than wildlands. I've done some of both and both
are equally as hard in their own respect. I have been fighting fire long
enough to know that I will never know all there is to know about fire,
wildlands or structure. I just meant that with wildlands I know that I
could be hired, go through the red card classes, and be able to perform on
a crew right away to begin learning more on the job.
So again I never meant to have my post be interpreted the way it was.
Next time, I'll try harder to say what I mean. I know how slow the feds
are at hiring and shouldn't have expected any more from the system than I
did. I should more than likely get hired by fire season 2005, with the way
things are going right now.
I still would like to ask if anyone out there knows how I can get red
card certified, while living in the IL, WI and IN area.
Missed the page for a couple days.
Reading through the posts I kept seeing the name "Riley" got to
the offending post and found out why. Ouch Bet you didnt expect the
Later Eric PW
||Another CDF BC
I have a CDF Captains interview coming up, any words of wisdom or strategy
you could pass along to one uninitiated in the CDF world.
More wildland and structure
I was not attacking wildland firefighters or defending structural
firefighters, my point was that if you look at what the agencies require
it is easy to see why some of the perceptions are out there. As it
currently stands a seasonal federal wildland firefighter requires
S130/190, I100 and possibly first aid, maybe 48 hours of training, an
entry structural firefighter will receive at a minimum, a 6 week academy,
medical first responder, hazardous materials operations and confined space
rescue, easily 300 hours and that is just the beginning of their training.
Wildland is often perceived as "easier" and if you look at the
job requirements as put forth by the respective agencies it is easy to see
why. Currently the USFS and BLM are formed largely around seasonal (temps
and perms) and part time employees (AD and contractors) compare this to
structure departments, who place the investment into hiring and
maintaining their people, even volunteer departments spend considerable
time recruiting and developing all their personnel not just a selected
few. Even volunteer departments generally have higher requirements than
paid wildland departments. Again I'm not saying wildland is easier, I'm
just pointing out why it might appear this way to the uninitiated.
Some of the comments made by those on this board show their ignorance
as well, invitations to structure firefighters to hike the line with
hotshots? How about loading up some hotshots in full structure gear,
150-200 feet of 1 3/4" double jacket hose (high rise pack), perhaps a
spare SCBA bottle or two and sending them to work a fire on the 40th floor
of a high rise, remember no elevators. Lets try and be constructive here,
not start spouting stuff as stupid as the first comment. Both structure
and wildland are extremely difficult to master and strenuous activities.
"While hiring prerequisites may be light, some people have the
drive to be all that they can be. So if you are looking at green pants,
they might as well be blue. You never know the skill levels of who you are
talking to on the line."
That is exactly my point, I know from experience that many Federal
Wildland firefighters have these skills, I did myself but they are not
required by the agency and in my experience they are not supported by the
agency. Often if you use them you are on your own. You don't hear "we
don't do that or its not our mission" from structural firefighters,
they may grumble about some things but they accept everything is part of
their job. Until the agencies start to follow that "be all you can
be" attitude that some of their employees have, I don't see the
respect for wildland coming up to the level of professionalism that
structure departments get. I worked engines in 2 regions and held
positions from GS3 newbie to engine foreman with the USFS. I am quite
aware of the capabilities of some USFS employees. I also know the
attitudes of others who wouldn't piss on a structure fire if it was full
of women and orphans. Instead they'd be chanting "its not my
job" while watching it burn. Before you accuse me of fabrication I
know of that example minus the women and orphans, despite having
copious amounts of water and two trained structural firefighters from a
local volunteer fire department on his crew, this engine foreman took no
action except to call dispatch to respond the local fire department, he
just stood by watching the home owner try to save their house with a
garden hose. Management fully supported that foremans decision.
Unfortunately to "be all you can be" often means going
someplace that will allow you to reach that goal, as it looks like you
have done "County Paid Firefighter". As I said, the Federal
Government is the training program of choice of many other agencies.
So to avoid any misconception, I hold the USFS in the highest regard
along with those of you willing to accept the new challenges facing you.
Lets not turn this into an Us vs Them because somebody spoke before
thinking. Anyone notice how few of the responses even made an attempt to
be constructive and provide real insight into Riley's question and educate
him/her instead of just reacting and spouting off.
Fedfire, good points, but now you're the one doing it. By throwing
in the "women and orphans", you're muddying the waters and just
asking for a reaction, not to the real issues but a personal gut level,
emotional knee jerk. Is that what you really want, a reaction? Hey,
EVERYONE, put down those dukes! Enough already. Ab sez so.
Regarding misperceptions of professionalism, we need to change those. We
need changes in the system, granted. As well as that, it's my opinion that
Federal Fire Agencies are in need of some marketing types of efforts, too,
like letting the local citizens and politicians know of additional
resources that their tax dollars are buying. When a new resource arrives,
call em up, tell them to come on down and see that new engine, meet the
new crew that has had this and that training, view the new helo. Take some
pictures. Let em put them in the paper. If we work with them and get the
prevention guys to work with them, we'll get ahead. It helps the political
types look like they're doing their jobs and it helps us. Ab.
I have been watching all these people complaining of Boise not rating them
as anything higher than GS-3 or 4's. The C-Form lets you RATE YOURSELF.
Your final rating is based on the experience that you yourself put on the
form, and verified later. So if people aren't rating out, maybe they
aren't doing a very good job explaining their qualifications.
Also, I get calls from people with no fire experience that say that they
rated out as a GS-7 or GS-8 because of college courses and want to know
why they aren't being hired for Captain level positions. Just because
somebody qualifies at the minimum generic level for a GS-7 or 8, that
doesn't mean that you meet the additional criteria for hiring at that
level, which is prior wildland fire experience. At the GS-8 level people's
lives are going to be at risk based on your decisions, and we need people
with a certain level of training to ensure safety.
Everybody have a good season, ours is just about gearing up in Northern
Take it easy, The fire community is about brotherhood, no matter what
company he is from. All firemen that have died, died trying. That is what
counts. Stay focused and lose the ego.
LATER..........LaPorte Rd SAW
For the record, Ab thinks An R5-er was particularly restrained in his
post. What counts, LaPorte Rd SAW, is not that "all firemen that died
have died trying", but that those firefighters who LIVE and WORK in
this wildland fire profession do their dam'dest to keep themselves and
their crews alive! Those who are longtime posters here know we do not
pigpile on structural firefighters or vollies or contractors or non-R5ers
because of their membership in a group. We are a fire family here. We
demonstrate that daily on this board.
But we do need to CORRECT the misperceptions of people WHO
DON'T GET IT.
To people who think a few weeks of wildland fire training is all it takes
and are not willing to alter THEIR ATTITUDE when corrected, I say "WE
CAN'T RISK YOU. WE DON'T WANT YOU."
My thanks to An R5er and to CAFSman and others for touching on
points regarding the complexity of wildland fire and wildland
firefighting. It's not surprising that some posts went beyond the issues
and got a bit personal. I hope Riley can see past the personal
affronts and keep reading and writing here to learn more. Chat is a good
way to learn some things without risking so much.
Riley, if you can take all this and learn from it and begin the many
years of training required to truly join the ranks of wildland
firefighter with the goal of acquiring WISDOM, I might have a beer with
you. Until then, you drink alone.
I started off with the F.S. in Southern Cal. in 1988. I am a wildland
firefighter to the bone. However, in response to Fedfire inquiring as to
what the FS requires to be a wildland firefighter, I am not sure how to
take it. Yes while I am a dirt monkey, I also have the following on my
resume. While hiring prerequisites may be light, some people have the
drive to be all that they can be. So if you are looking at green pants,
they might as well be blue. You never know the skill levels of who you are
talking to on the line.
MY point is that there are many FS who are well rounded firefighters with
more skills than cutting line.
- County Paid Firefighter
- CA State Structural Fire Academy Grad (3 mos full time academy)
(ladders, ventilation, vehicle extraction, interior attack, hydraulic
theory, pumping operations, water supply, ropes/knots, the whole nine
- HAZMAT First Responder Operational
- Emergency Medical Technician
- CA State Fire Marshal Structural Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2 (2
years verifiable structural experience and training)
- Confined Space Rescue
- S-205 Wildland/Urban Interface
- S-230 Crew Supervisor
- (Ah forget the twenty or so S- classes)
||Fires in Arizona. Link from Firescribe. Author is Judd Slivka.
break out in E. Ariz.
In NorCal in the deaths of Lars and Larry, the legal process against
the alleged arsonists continues.
If you are talking about the lacing I think you are, you skip the first
set of "hooks" and go to the second set, then you go back to the
first set and then to the third set, after that you continue normally. It
helps reduce "whites bite" without making the boots loose.
Wildland vs Structure
I've been a company officer in both structure and wildland departments, I
don't agree that Wildland can be learned in a couple of weeks or that it
is 10 times easier, I wouldn't agree that it is harder than structure
either, they are each very different requiring their own skills. I would
agree structure is more dangerous though, no wildland fire ever killed
300+ firefighters in one shot, not even back in the CCC days. Wildland may
not "be in a box" but it does allow far more advantage in being
able to pick your fight, an occupied structure doesn't, you've got to go
with what you've got, right there where you're at.
In defense of Riley, his statement is not an unusual attitude from
structure folks. Most structure departments see nothing wrong with sending
firefighters to a wildland fire without a Captain. Most wouldn't even
consider doing that with a structure fire. Its a mind set wildland is
"easier" since they usually get away with that attitude.
Ignorance is bliss. Personally I think that attitude is part of why
Wildland folks make less money and get less respect. Don't forget they
were still clearing out bars to form crews in the 1950's while fully paid
structure departments were very common by that time. It's 2002 and
apparently hiring seasonal 18 year olds every year is still acceptable as
are AD crews. Structure Departments are typically requiring EMT or
Paramedic, an Academy (generally 240 hours), hazardous materials
Operations to Specialist level, Confined space awareness and often a Class
B drivers license. What are the Federal Wildland agencies requiring? 40
hours or so of training? As far as wildland firefighters doing structure,
I recall several of you telling me to go join a structure department a few
months back on that very same topic (BTW my move had little to do with
those comments.) Many out there still don't believe wildland firefighters
should be doing anything but wildland fire (from what I hear even CDF
Schedule B runs into this).
While Riley could have been more diplomatic about his/her question it
is a valid one.
I don't have a good answer for you Riley except to say the current system
has many bugs, it is more concerned with GS grades and certs than
individual characteristics or resumes but as I recall structure fire
experience is creditable up to the GS5 level. If you are rating as only a
GS4 it may be due to how you filled out your application .The form does
not work well for those who are humble in their answers. Don't take this
as an excuse to lie: what you put down will most likely be verified by
potential supervisors before hire. I'd also lose the attitude, it won't
take you very far. Many on engines would probably welcome someone with
structure experience since that training is difficult to come by in
Federal wildland agencies. However if you have little to no wildland
experience you should expect to start at the entry firefighter level. I
was a Lieutenant with a Volunteer Fire Dept, had wildland training /
experience and a Fire Science Degree when I first started with the USFS
and I still started as a GS3 when I got hired. Believe me it takes more
than "a few weeks" to learn wildland, sure you learn the basics
in 40 hours but I've been in fire for over 10 years (wildland and
structure) and I am still learning and am far from knowing it all about
I agree with you Mellie, the money needs to go where it was intended,
if Congress wanted it to be used in the WO they would have provided a
budget for the WO.
For those of you who think USFS facilities are all fine and dandy, you're
lucky, I've seen condemned facilities "cleaned up" and reopened
on some occasions, 3 to a room in barracks that are barely big enough to
meet the specs for accommodating 1. There are some absolute S#$%holes out
there that people are paying the USFS to live in which are unsafe,
unsanitary and illegal. On the other hand the same could be said of the
fire station I work out of too. It is a Federalwide problem not just the
USFS. Until money starts being spent on the ground, Federal wildland and
structural fire departments will continue to be the training programs of
choice for agencies that choose to take care of their people.
For those who said the WO skimming money out of the fire budget doesn't
affect safety, they should think about that too. Less money reaching the
ground means less training, personnel and equipment. Sure when you don't
have all the resources you need you should adjust your tactics but it
still impacts the safety of fire operations when you are short of
resources. I haven't done a scientific study of the effect on fatality
fires but quite a few come to mind that resource shortages were
contributing factors even if only because the crews became fatigued
faster. Also shortages of "professional" wildland resources
generally get filled with contractors, inmates or local government
agencies. While some of these are very good, few really can match the
experience and quality of CDF Schedule B or Federal Wildland agency
resources which also becomes a safety issue when these resources begin to
work as the lead instead of supporting more experienced resources. This is
not meant as an attack on contractors or local agencies, as I said some
are very good but the quality overall is less consistent.
In a nutshell, here is how the CDF pays their people...
All Rank and File line personnel working conditions are covered in the
Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U) for Bargaining Unit 8. This public
document can be found on line on the Department of Personnel
Administration (DPA) web site. Look for bargaining units.
In that MOU, under the "Hours of Work" section, there are
descriptions for different shift patterns each classification works.
Firefighter 1 (seasonals) are covered and handled differently than Fire
Apparatus Engineers and Fire Captains. These latter groups are considered
"Fire Protection Employees". I believe the section is 8.02.
Overtime is paid after the scheduled hours of work are met based on a 56
hour work week (FLSA). CDF in 1985 entered into a "half time"
agreement with the state for hours between 56 and the CDF schedule. In the
case of a Fire Captain-Range A (station), this is 19 hours per week
because they work a 72 hour shift.
So, you divide the monthly salary by 4.33 to get the weekly salary, then
divide that by 72 to get an hourly wage, then cut that figure in half to
get the "half time." Multiply that figure by 76 (19x4) and that
equals what is called the "planned" OT.
"Unplanned" on the other hand, is all hours in excess of the
scheduled hours (regular days off) and is computed by multiplying the
hourly rate (determined the same way as above) by 1.5.
You'll find the hour rate pretty low because of the amount of hours in the
work week (72) compared to other FD organizations.
You should know though that CDF Firefighters (union) negotiated a long
term contract to eliminate the half time provision in favor of true time
and a half. Those of you competing on the open CDF Fire Captain Exam would
be well advised to take a position with CDF no matter the location, as
this change will significantly increase compensation (some estimates are
37%) by 2006.
CDF Seasonals are different. We can discuss that separately if you like
Another CDF BC
||Hi to all,
I need some help from some of the CDF Firefighters out there. I have
been trying to get copies of the CDF Green Sheets, which are the summaries
that go out to all CDF Fire Stations after an investigation is done where
firefighters have been injured due to wildland fire activities.
I have contacted a couple of Ranger Units in Northern California and
have been told "You need to submit a written request through CDF Law
Enforcement, wait two to four weeks for a reply, and give the specific
time, location, who was involved, and what agency was involved." The
problem is, I can't give that because I don't know all the specifics. I
need some documentation on smaller near-miss incidents for a wildland
firefighter refresher course. There was a time when these reports were
available to all firefighters to access to improve firefighter safety.
Suddenly they have become a closely guarded secret.
If anyone can help, I am looking for Green Sheet Incident Reports for
the 2000 & 2001 Fire Seasons. For the fires I know about, I want the
reports for the Concow, Poe, and 70 Fires, but would like to get the
reports for the last two years for the ones I don't know about. If anyone
can help it would be greatly appreciated.
If you think structure firefighting is harder or more complex than
fighting wildfires, then obviously you have never fought wildfires before.
I invite you to come to California or anywhere in the West just to observe
fire behavior and hike our lines. Terrain is steep. It's hot. The work is
very hard. The fire, often unpredictable. It behaves differently due to
many factors that vary daily and seasonally with terrain, slope, aspect,
vegetation type and weather. Not something you can be trained for "in
a matter of weeks". If you worked on one of our Hotshot Crews or on
any Hotshot Crew in the nation, you would see what hard work is all about.
I would love to see how long you would last doing a 36 hour shift cutting
fireline, or if you were to coyote out on the line for a week straight.
Do you honestly think doing a surround and drowned is harder than that or
the fire trickier, more complex? If so stick to what you're doing and let
the MEN and WOMEN of the wildland community do the sometimes dangerous,
back breaking work of saving the Forest. My guess is people like you will
only last for about half the day before crying about how tired and hot you
are and how you ran out of water.
So go back to the luge position in your recliner at your station this
summer and watch the National News when big fires are going on. You can
tell your cronies how hard you're working. Don't forget to mention the big
wildland firefighting job that got away.
For the real Structure Firefighters out there, I do not mean to offend
you, just giving someone a clue who spoke too quickly.
I've been meaning to get that leadership reading list that I mentioned to
but it's been one thing and another and I only have a xerox copy, but give
a little time.
Before it completely dies away, I'd like to address something Mellie said.
She contended that low budgets compromised safety, and others (correctly)
pointed out that you aren't supposed to put firefighters in unsafe
which doesn't have much to do with the budget. But let's stretch our
a little bit farther than that - budget cuts do compromise the public's
safety. Less money means fewer crews, less prevention, less hazard
around communities, and larger fires just to name a few. These all pose a
direct threat to the the people that use wildlands or live nearby. BLM is
giving grants to communities for training, prevention, and equipment to
and volunteer fire departments. The FS awards grants to communities for
protection projects. If budget cuts trash those programs, things will be
It's great to see the people here concerned about the safety of the
firefighters and say that they can, and will, keep their firefighters safe
even in the face of budget inadequacies. But let's not forget that the
we take with fire preparedness, fuels treatment, education, detection, and
crews and equipment and aircraft and everything provide the public with a
margin of safety...and that costs money. Budget cuts _are_ a safety issue.
Oh, and Riley? Was that a troll or what? You were kidding, right? Good
||To Mr. Riley:
In my humble opinion people like you are going to get others killed!!!
I have been on both sides for many years. I hope there are not many of
your type out there. I look forward to working with professional structure
firefighters. I am sure they would not like you in their ranks and I sure
as hell would not want you in mine until you wise up!
If you think it's a piece of cake, come and try to keep up. "And
I'm going to say about that"
Check www.Nicksboots.com they have
the lacing pattern I think you're talking
Your inexperience and ignorance may be playing a key role in you not
receiving consideration for those positions. Take in the whole picture
and learn a little more before you decide to babble about something you
either have little or no experience in.
Ab where is the firefighter to firefighter spring cleaning classifieds
We're working on them. Have a few already. Send in a submission, 30
words or less, fire-related... Here's the WLF
Classifieds page-to-be and the FF Free
information. Don't you all need to get rid of some of that junk/treasure
cluttering your closet or garage? Here's the chance. Ab.
||Strider's probably asking about the no-bite lacing, or 2-1-3 lacing,
which is here:
Works like a charm, too.
I have been a structure firefighter for many years with the NPS. I have
a lot of confidence in the ability of structure firefighters everywhere
and will continue to help them in anyway I can. I am also a wildland
firefighter ( 22 seasons in suppression, including 7 on a premiere hotshot
crew in an overhead position ). I have little respect for people who
believe wildland firefighting is second to structure firefighting. Most of
us are able to do both in the federal service, although our equipment and
sometimes personnel may be limited just as any crew is. Get the facts
straight, jacka**, before you spout off at the mouth.
Check out Nick's boots website (nicksboots.com) , they have the lacing
pattern I think you're looking for illustrated there, lots of good tips on
boot maintenance as well.
Maybe Riley should give up and stay in structure, an individual who thinks
such as he does will only hurt himself or others!!
||There's a special kind of lacing pattern for boots that someone showed
last summer on the Star fire. It worked well for me, kept my boots laced
snug, but but I can't remember how to do it. Does anyone out there even
know what I'm talking about? Boots were laced normally at the bottom, but
toward the top you skipped some hooks and then went back to them in a
pattern that cinched them down.
||CAFSman and Pulaski thanks for answering Riley before I did. It never
ceases to amaze me how ignorant people are about this firefighting thing.
Ditto with not wanting any Mr. or Ms.Rileys working around me or my crews
until they get a clue.
||To Mr. Riley:
I was a Vol. Structure FF for 20yrs. It is nice to have the fire in a
box in front of me and I figure that is where it will stay unless I go
inside. When I took Wildland Forestry FF classes, I realized that I knew
When I was a Crew Boss a couple of times with a crew of Structure FF going
on a Forestry fire, I had to watch my crew's every step, because they
wanted to work like they had been trained and equipped. They had no idea
why I was giving orders about doing some things that were different than
they were trained in Structure. We were doing structure protection, and
even that is totally different in Wildland firefighting than what I was
trained to do in defense in Structure firefighting. I know I was glad to
have a FED crew beside me so I could ask them questions on how I should do
things, if I thought I was getting us in trouble.
- Forestry FF as far as I am concerned need to know a lot more about
what affects fire on a large scale and how to be prepared for it, than
we need in Structure.
- On structure fire, I get to ride to the fire, I don't have to walk
like most of the WL FF have to do most of the time.
- It is nice to go on a structure fire and have all that water in the
street, that you can waste. I wonder how I would get 5" supply
line from a hydrant to a forest fire so I would have unlimited
resources. It's nice to have that unlimited water supply most of the
time. I wonder how Structure FF would feel if they had to shovel just
dirt on that structure.
If I were one of these wildland Crew Bosses, with what has happened the
last couple of years with the type of fires we have been having, I would
want mostly Seasoned Wildland FF too. I still believe that Wildland FF
have to know a lot more different things to survive and do their jobs than
I have to know in Structure. Mother Nature doesn't wait for you to ask
what to do. She doesn't tell you to go outside the structure and watch it
burn down. Mother Nature will run you all the way out of the forest and
burn your structure too.
Wildland FF have to know wildland firefighting, structure firefighting,
and some have to be EMTs. Another thing: now hazardous materials show up
in wildlands and you don't know that they are there. And you have to worry
about the environment and what the public will say. So many things to know
in wildland firefighting.
Enough from me.
Wildland firefighters, I wish I could have been one of you, when I was
younger. It was a lot of fun when I worked with you and I learned alot
from you. I support you very much.
Nicely put, CAFSman. Couldn't have said it better. Ab.
||**if you think Im way out of line, you dont have to post this. But I
need to vent.**
Give ME a F'in break! If you really believe "Structural is ten times
harder. Anyone can learn wild fires in a matter of weeks." I sure as
hedoubletoothpicks dont want you on my wildland crew. However since it
appears that you are somewhere along the WI/IL border I can understand how
you can come to that conclusion. Being in southern WI does not have the
conifer content like farther north and, at least here in WI, we have not
seen a HARD fire season in 10 years; but things will return to more
"normal", its just a matter of when.
I suppose thats enough from me. Hope you have thick skin casue I am sure
you are going to get raked over the coals for that comment.
Been doing both wildland and structural for the last 15 years...ok,
wildland longer than that but if I tell ya I dont want everyone thinking
Im an old geezer.
||Hi again -
Sorry, Ab, I can't resist it anymore. Here is another handy link that I
just had to send in. I know we are coming up on what looks for all
practical purposes like a busy season, and most of these sites have some
good stuff on them either anticipating what is to come or showing what's
going on. I checked this site for all the links, and it seems to be the
with everything up to date, plus it's been updated to be more practical:
Yes, everything you need to know about mobilization and what's going on
linked off one site at the National Interagency Coordination Center
NICC, as opposed to NIFC). The government can be practical. Just thought
it was time for a little refresher on where to find this stuff since this
group has grown so much and this site is such a completely excellent place
to get information. Also, some of the GACC sites have been slowly
improving, and have some new stuff to check out. Well, be safe and be
Looks good. Someone needs to run a spell check on the page
(Geographic not Gepgraphic), but otherwise mighty fine. Ab.
With all the discussion on Portal-to-Portal pay for the Feds, could one or
some of the CDF folk give a breakdown of how their pay works in a 24 hour
period? For example... a former CDF seasonal explained to me that they
were paid a certain rate for the "normal duty hours" ( I believe
it was 0600-1800hrs), a different rate from 1800-2400 hrs, and something
else from 0001hrs - 0600hrs the next day. Also, that from 0001-0600 hrs,
if the crew was out or responded even to the edge of the driveway before
getting cancelled, they would get OT for the whole 6 hour time period
(0001 - 0600hrs) ( this is part of the "guaranteed overtime").
This example from the Northern Region and during 1991.
Quick question? Why do most of the Crew Bosses, who ask for firefighters,
need them to be," Seasoned Forestry Firefighters" only. Give me
an F'in break. Structural is ten times harder. Anyone can learn wild fires
in a matter of weeks. If all these crewboss's are hurting for man power so
bad, why are they being so picky? Especially when it comes to engine
crews. I've been on the panel (MPO) for the last 12 months, and have gone
through two schools for MPO, and the FS and BLM only rated me as a GS-4
because I'm only POC. If you have any answers I'd be very grateful. And if
you could hook me up with anyone you know who offers the Red Card Certs in
WI or IL, I'd owe you at least a drink or two.
||Can you all tell me why ADs get sh*t on when it comes to getting
training in VA? They call for training that you
have to travel 200 mi. for, and get this you got to go during the day and
here's the big the one -- you find out you have to
stay sometimes up to 5 days. Why? cant you all find some dum ass to give
this training in the evening? Or is this to
much to ask?
I just received info on two links relating to wildland & other
safety that are good to check out - they relate safety information to
recent incidents through the use of case studies. This looks like good
information to use in safety briefings, refreshers, etc. for this season
and to keep on file...
Main site: Some NEW NIOSH Publications Related to Fire Fighting:
Fire Fighters Exposed to Electrical Hazards During Wildland Fire
I know this is a wildfire forum, but I thought some of you might be
interested in checking out the Natural Hazards Center at
Their Disaster Research newsletter has
information on firefighter conferences, etc. sometimes, and they do have
some information about local grant programs, etc. They have also done some
research on events since Sept. 11. Their focus doesn't seem to be on
operational incident management, but you can find some gems in their
Wow, I can't get over how much this site has grown since I started
following it almost 5 years ago. There is no way I can keep up with it
these days, although I skim it often. Some day soon I swear I'll sit down
and catch up. Take care and be safe out there-
P.S. - Great job with the site, Ab - and good idea on fundraising. I know
you put a lot of time into this, and your work certainly doesn't go
unnoticed. Thanks again!
Check out the post on 3/20 on wildlandfire.com
fundraising. If anyone in the community is interested, email us. We
are contacting potential advertisers. Those who want in should get their
requests in soon.
Firefighters, time for a spring cleaning? List your fire-related
items for sale in the free firefighter-to-firefighter classifieds section.
Send in your ad. Read the directions: it must not be longer than 30 words.
||The FWFSA Reps have returned from the 2002 IAFF Legislative Conference
in Washington, D.C.. Overall the trip was a success. The FWFSA would
like to thank all the letter writers out there for the time and effort:
it paid off! Quite a few Senators and Congressmen knew about our issues
and were expecting a visit thanks to those letters. Thanks again to all
those that wrote and a special thanks to Mellie and AB for starting the
whole thing off! To find out what went on visit www.fwfsa.org
||Has anyone heard the latest on the portal to portal pay?
A question I'll throw out there. Talking on my Forest and now it might
regional about class A uniforms for Forest Service? Since R5 does have
a Honor guard. All perm employees should have Class A's.
||Maggie, you must be joking, but in case you're not I could answer your
question. First of all I don't consider my career all that dangerous, I
qualify for all kinds of life insurance with no special policy
restrictions or costs. I think electric company linemen or high rise
window washers are in a lot more hazardous professions, though they may
I have had a few close shaves in 20 + yrs of fighting wildland fires
mostly while driving to incidents on the freeway so that is not much
different that the close ones you have possibly experienced. Why do we
choose such a dangerous mode of transportation as a society?? Go figure.
Most firefighters I know do not believe they are risking their lives, they
are just doing a job they get a lot of satisfaction out of and maybe help
some people and make a little money to support their families in the
Other close calls with death have been, being close to bored to death
while mopping up or on standby.
Just Another Fire Guy
Maggie is gathering this information. She's a student at Ohio
Here's my 2 cents about the crew boss class.
It should be an early or mid career skills "check-up". The FS
should create a task book of real skills that crew bosses are expected to
have and be able to use. Have high standards! Show slides or videos of
fire behavior ask them what's going on and what they think is going to
happen next. Show slides of clouds--"what kind of weather might this
indicate..." Can they use a compass? Can the potential crew boss give
a clear, succinct briefing?
Make them do it and review what they did. If the student doesn't have the
appropriate skills don't pass them! Have the guts to say "no, your
communication skills aren't up to snuff, you need to practice more"
Have real life exercises (like the MCS Fireline Leadership courses), such
as responding to confusing radio traffic when you're confused, tired and
dehydrated. The group exercises water down the whole experience. The
natural leaders just become better leaders and the hesitant ones just
hesitate more. It should almost all be individual effort so that
individuals can practice making decisions, and dealing with the
consequences of their own decisions, since that's how it is alot on fires.
Of course, the need to communicate well with those around you is also
important, but decisiveness is not a skill that comes easy to everyone,
especially when it feels like you're in a fishbowl.
The course should address more of the psychological and sociological
factors that go on in crews. (There have been a few good issues brought up
lately like the paper on crew cohesion etc...) What about the fact that on
most crews conformity is the name of the game until something unsafe goes
on, then crewmembers are suddenly supposed to be able to switch to the
nonconforming part of their personality and bring it to the forefront and
become the safety superstar!? It just doesn't happen. Not only do unsafe
actions happen but unsafe whole situations--hours, days etc.. because all
of our training is in the realm of "follow the leader" (chain of
command) until you're not supposed to anymore, i.e. when you're in a
drainage that you shouldn't be in.
||Some years ago I had a great visit to Vandenberg AFB and had the chance
to tour the digs for the hotshot crew there. They not only have great
quarters, they have one heckuva training center, and the place is so nice
they could rent it out as overnight accommodations. Why? Not because they
had a budget, or had the government paying their way -- because the crew
supe was one very savvy guy, and he and his crew understood these things:
work your butts off on your own quarters partner up with other outfits
if you have to live there, fix it up
I don't know if the same crew supe is still there, or whether you could
contact him for info on what they did and how they did it, but if you
can't round him up, refer back to the list above. If you're living in a
slum it's your own danged fault.
||To whom it may concern:
I am a college student doing research on thanatology. I was wondering if
you could share some stories of near-death experiences you've had and what
it's like to be faced with death as a repercussion of your choice of
career, why you put yourself in such danger, and what meaning death has
you. Just a short answer will suffice. Thank you for your time-
Readers, any short answers for Maggie? Ab.
Mollysboy, I would bet you have not been in any of the FS barracks
(bunkhouses) lately and you probably don't even know how few there are.
Safety IS an issue. They are in really poor condition and in one case I
of, an accident waiting to happen, that will probably result in a lawsuit
when it does. Rats, rot, exposed wires that can scratch, loose thresholds.
Sec of Defense Rumsfeld (sp?) when he was in Idaho said that the military
govt housing was substandard and that is being addressed. I think the FS
needs to do the same.
I was in R4 last season, but had friends in R5 south area. They said it
the same there, when you could get housing. Two of them camped out all
season in the backyard of one of the supts. when they were on forest
there was no place to live.
I would also bet that no one at the forest level is willing to talk about
this. If they do the crews will get cut back to match the facilities. I
think this is a case where the rules from above filter own and impact
altho not fire safety.
Living in a slum during fire season.
House under pressure from Congress releases wildfire money
Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of
||Mollysboy, my point was that 8 hours is not enough training for anyone
especially any one who is running around in a hazardous environment
without any overhead around like the supply drivers and a lot of other
I said they "need to attend fire school" not what the
cornball rules say they should have. We need to be accountable for the
safety of everyone on a fire not just the line personnel.
Those civilians at 30 mile could have just as easily been a couple of
AD's from ground support delivering sack lunches.
We ought to change the rules if they only need 8 hours of initial
training. If we can't afford to train these people in the basics of fire
behavior and weather along with how to use a shake-n-bake, then maybe we
can put on some volunteer classes, I bet there would be a lot of takers,
especially if we gave hiring preference to those who had a higher level of
My third hand info has it there was an entrapment on the Back Forty
fire in Unicoi County that is under investigation. No other details.
First, for "Backburnfs": where does it say that bus drivers
have to go through the Basic 32 hour Firefighter course? Always thought
they (and lots of other AD-type drivers)
only needed the 8 hour "Standards" course. Interested in your
Mellie - I really appreciate you passion for firefighter safety, but think
you're really off base in tying firefighter safety so closely to
implementing the National Fire Plan. There are lots of points to discuss:
blaming the WO is "iffy" since they have to play by the rules
that the Administration sets down (Yeah, I know: not right, but reality -
- buck the "Busheys", and Mark Rey and his kind get a really
serious Timber Beast in as Chief);. As for the safety of "all
Americans living near Federal lands"......what about their
responsibilities for their own safety?? As Jack Cohen from the Missoula
Fire Lab has shown, the homes lost in Los Alamos were due, for the most
part, because the residents "living near Federal lands" failed
to do even the most basic fire prevention work on their own properties.
Probably the same situation will surface in the Ruidosa, NM fires in the
days and weeks ahead. How about individual accountability, even for
private homeowners living in the Interface??
Facilities as a risk to fire fighter safety - - a far reach in my opinion:
if it was really important, we could build military-style barracks,
require balanced meals in a mess hall and a nightly bed check so everyone
gets a good nite's sleep. "Quality of life"?? An individual
call, and having someone dictate that is really contradictory to why most
of us got into the forestry/wildfire business in the first place.
The overhead assessments for the cost pools are an issue - no doubt about
it! Needs Congressional direction.
As for the "Benefitting Function" versus the "Primary
Purpose" for treating fuels and conducting prescribed burns: Congress
funds the many aspects of the USFS as they see fit - range, recreatioin,
timber, wildlife, recreation, fire, etc. If they (our representatives -
yours and mine) wanted habitat improvement and fuels reduction, they'd
give the USFS the money and the targets to do it. No Range/ecosystem/etc
dollars for burning, then Fire is the only function both wanting AND
funded to do the job. Yeah, it takes alot of fire bucks that could be used
other places, but it really is just a Fire project as the situation
My bottom line: no one - - - not nobody - - - should care about my safety
as much as I do. It doesn't make a damn bit of difference if I'm funded at
50% or 150%: I owe it to myself and my loved ones to do the fire fighting
job safely at all times. If the
staffing/equipment/communications/leadership is inadequate to do the job
at hand safely, I have the personal responsibility and accountablity to
"just say NO!". Can't pass that on to the W.O. or anyone else!!
That all said - keep the dialogue flowing on issues like safety and
leadership. While we may not always agree on a subject, the converstaion
keeps the grey matter
||Anybody heard anything about an entrapment in Tennessee??
||Fallers, equipment operators, bus drivers and everyone else that gets
anywhere near the fireline need to go through basic fire school and
refresher every year after fire school. You and I know it ain't happening.
Where is the accountability? Are we going to have to wait until some
school bus driver gets seriously injured or killed waiting at the drop
point for the crew who is sitting in their safety zone to figure out that
we are not providing appropriate training to Emergency Hires (AD's). We
sign up thousands of these folks every year in the heat of battle give
them a set of nomex and a shelter and 5 min. of how to use the shelter and
send them on their way to drop hose and pumps off at DP 50 or whereever.
The lawyers will be having big times when this scenario plays out for
On another subject, a professional timber cutter is a great resource to
have around. I have had the honor to work with many excellent fallers over
my career they have taught me and other firefighters how to handle some
bad trees safely.
On the other hand I have seen a guy with a saw get signed up as a
faller and they couldn't pass the "A" cert on any unit. Usually
they get removed from an incident soon after they pull the starter cord
for the first time in front of a good falling boss, but not always. And if
they get kicked off a fire for lack of skills can they not just find
another fire to work on?
I don't think there is any certification process for AD cutters, at
least not that I know of. I have been falling hazard trees and snags since
1978 and I still have to get re-certified as a "C" faller every
two years. Another self-certification fiasco.
We are not logging big trees any more like we used to. Feller Bunchers
are replacing human timber cutters. Where are we going to get the numbers
of fallers needed to cut on west side timber fires in the future?
When you get the opportunity to work around the real professional
cutters get your saw team to work with them if you can. It will be a good
ojt session if you get a faller who has the right attitude and teaching
skills. You can tell the professionals because they are the ones who are
willing to walk away from a tree that they don't feel safe cutting, they
don't have anything to prove.
Hold your hands out in front of you, fingers interlaced, thumbs pointing
up. Now invert. You have just been shown the secret handshake for
"milking the fire cash cow".
||Thanks for the clarification Old Fire Guy. You are right on how Safety
But the lack of FS accountability on cost pools and Primary Purpose Rules
||From Firescribe, a slew of Articles on SW Fire:
And lots more on the wildlandfire.com news
||What is WO,A work order? I've Only fought fires for ten Seasons. And
that's one term that I haven't heard of before.
||Mellie, Here's some info on the Fire Funding for AZ. It's less than last
Funding totals for Arizona national forests
I appreciate what you have said about making sure the money Congress
appropriates gets to the ground. As with any federal program, others are
tempted to look to "fix" the shortages in their programs by
other, better funded (recently fire) programs to take a greater share of
the overhead or pool costs.
I've heard the R9 of the FS has limited "pool" costs to no more
that 20% of
the total regional fire budget......although some forests are coming in
below/above that amount.
I do find myself in disagreement with your perspective that lack of 100%
MEL funding, or siphoning of those funds places firefighters in danger. It
should not, and here's why. The firefighting effort must always be
designed to perform safely. If we have abundant $ and resources available,
that will give us greater options on how to attack a fire. Absence of
those resources should not and must not force us into a "make
mind-think. It does not mean that we initiate a plan of attack with fewer
resources than needed to do so safely. It does not mean that we must work
crews additional shifts (well into exhaustion). If we are constrained in
funding, or constrained in the use of a helicopter, dozer,
whatever, we must not allow ourselves to compromise on a safe plan of
attack. Our only acceptable recourse is to develop a plan that will ensure
the safety of our personnel and the public, even though this may mean the
loss of natural resources, public infrastructure, or private homes.
Those losses, while regrettable, are acceptable. Unnecessary risk of life
Old Fire Guy
With each fire season, we face the inevitable fact that there will be
injuries as well as fatalities as we do battle with our dragons. I try to
read each fatality report in an attempt to glean at least a piece of
useful information from the incident. Those folks have paid the ultimate
price and they deserve our attention. So, I take "pieces" of an
incident and try to find ways to improve the odds. After the Thirty Mile
incident, I began to take a harder look at Shelter Deployment, mainly the
mindset involved. We've all gone through the training... and the annual
refreshers... and done the deployment again and again with the practice
shelter. Most of the focus is being within the time constraints, and being
Last summer, taking a water break while humping up some switchbacks, I
began asking some of the firefighters "if it hit the fan right now,
with no other options, which precise spot would they choose to
deploy?" It turned into a pretty good discussion, very thought
provoking... and THAT was the point. "Drop there? You're gonna clear
that spot a little first, right? Otherwise you'll be sucking all that ash
you're laying in and, if you survive the burnover..." "Drop
there? What happens when that snag burns through?" "Drop there?
That stuff you'll be laying next to is gonna be burning awfully hot,
What's your shelter good for?"
I'm gonna keep pulling that one out of the hat because it gets people
thinking, and considering. If we all start pulling things like that
"out of the hat", even with different topics, maybe it will
"click" and matter to someone having to make a hectic decision
I am certain that people in the WO feel they support SAFETY and are
fostering an environment of safety. However, WO decisions and priorities
certainly impact firefighter safety on the ground as well as safety of the
public on the interface. My short list:
OK... About the National Fire Plan. I am coming to the conclusion
that the FS at the highest levels might not have the cojones to do what
Congress has ordered. Instead they keep changing the rules.
- Failure to execute the budget for the National Fire Plan -- impacts
firefighter safety and safety of all Americans living near federal
lands. Failure of the budget occurs
- at the level of MEL funding and
- as a result of cost pool levies.
- Failure to find and designate funding for facilities for new
firefighters -- potentially impacts their safety. Certainly impacts
their quality of life. (I won't talk about this one now... But it is a
- The Congress was very clear in mandating 100% of MEL to
implement the NFP this year. Right now my research shows that this is
how the MEL money stacks up:
- R6 60% MEL
- R1 68% MEL
- R7 68% MEL
- R4 70% MEL
- R5 is in the low 90s, I think. (If anyone knows the figures for
the other regions, would you please fill me in?)
- Cost pools are moneys for administrative support costs including
rent, utilities, office space, leases on leased buildings, line
officer salaries (Forest Supervisor, Ranger, etc), OWCP.
So, what's going on here? Well, I think the WO is gouging the fire
budget to indirectly support other Forest Service functions. There is
no evidence that money needed for administrative support per
firefighter comes anywhere near the cost pools levied.
What proportion of NFP money goes to cost pools? For every $2 that
goes directly for the fire program on the forest, another $1 goes into
the forest pot for administrative support. That's a 2:1 ratio
out of a pot of money that Congress explicitly designated for fire!!!
I don't think Congress had in mind that cost pools should get
half of what fire gets. This is a large increase over
previous years both in terms of proportion of the fire budget and in
terms of the total amount of money the forests receive.
Where's it going? We paying those line officers more? Hiring more
administrators? Renting more office space? By the way, bunkhouses for
firefighters aren't included in this. In addition, in all other
businesses, you get a break when dealing in larger volumes... Not in
the FS. No efficiency here! (As a comparison, FS cost pools are
getting 33%; on scientific grant applications you can only
designate a max of 12% of your total budget to go to these
kinds of administrative costs. Dontcha think the Republicans who hate
top-heavy bureaucracies are gonna love looking at my figures?)
- But that's not all: there's the double whammy. The WO rakes off even
more money by changing the financial rules for paying the bills.
This is gutting the fuels program, which is a critical preventative
part of the National Fire Plan.
For those who don't know, in the past there was something called
the Benefiting Proportions Principal. Under it, the cost of a
Rx burn was apportioned among the forest functions that benefited from
it; for example, 50% was charged to fire, 25% to wildlife, and 25%
went on botany's tab (for noxious weeds). Now that fire has a funded
Congressional mandate, the WO says we're to use, the Primary
Purpose Rules. No more apportioning. Under these rules, if it can
be said that the primary purpose of the Rx burn is fire hazard
reduction, fire has to pay it all! Sounds like they're rewriting the
rules so fire is made to pay the way of all of the other functions of
the Forest Service.
I think the message from Congress is clear: Get the money to FIRE
for the NFP. Get the job done. The Forest Service WO has a resistance
to that clarity. Those at the top keep reinterpreting what they don't want
I'd like to think the FS WO has the wear-with-all to move money to fire
that has been taken out so we can accomplish what has to happen to meet
Congress' mandate. If they don't, I think they need to get real
with the Congress, with the public and with FS employees about what can
really be accomplished SAFELY.
In this day of terrorist threat, I also think it wise if wildland
firefighters are ready to help out in whatever capacity we are called to
serve. Readiness to accomplish the NFP in terms of workforce, equipment,
training and living facilities puts us closer to being ready to serve our
country in other ways if the need arises.
David, the rancher/business owner from New Mexico, could we get in
||r-6 crews are wondering if dispatches to nm are in the works. heard lot
of rumors flying. like to hear something concrete. anybody got info to
"..should a faller have basic ff training? Pass the WCT? Wear nomex?
Carry a shelter?" Without a doubt YES!! (with a possible exception to
the entire basic ff training series.)
I would ask the same questions about contract dozer operators. What is
normally done with those folks? (I asked this a while ago and didnt get a
peep back). I vaguely remember in florida in '98 hearing about (this is
second hand and I didnt see it myself) non-fire trained folks jumping on
dozers. Granted most contract dozer operators are not doing initial attack
and they are supposed to have a dozer boss with them, but that doesn't
happen all the time. Does anyone spend any training time with these folks
(contract fallers and dozer operators) to get them on the same page?
||Just got off the phone with our dispatch.
Word is NM has four different fires burning at this time and mass ordering
is coming down the pipe. I guess the largest is 8,000 acres and has burned
32 homes already.
At this time I would say fire season is upon us, for those of you getting
ordered up, please be safe and keep your head up.
Be careful everyone.
One link to a www.cnn.com
-- NM fire story. More stories on the news page, link at the top of
the page. Ab.
Lots of discussion of 30 mile lately. We have read the reports. Lots of
accusations on "They Said," some very serious. Speculation on
crew/crew boss should have/or did not do. What we have not heard, other
in the report, is what happened from the surviving crew members. Why did
or she do what they did? What was their perception of the fire and how it
behaving -- or not? Just how tired were they? How fast did the column
collapse and envelope them? How much time did they have to deploy?.......
like many others have lots of questions I would like to ask, to help me
I assume that they are most likely not "talking" under direction
attorney or FS Management, until all the issues are address and OSHA and
WO accept the final report and mitigation measures.
||Stu and all-
I'm sorry I should have been more specific. I want to know what
fireguys think of contract cutters (generally fallers on timber fires)?
And what everyone views as a professional operator within the fire
agencies? Is it someone who is just kick-ass aggressive? Someone that
takes in account the consideration of others? Is it being a "C"
faller? When fireguys and gals hit the line with saws, no matter the
vegetation type, is it always with professionalism? Do you feel there are
enough examples of pro cuttin' out there? I don't . The awareness of this
subject doesn't seem to come up enough. Training and videos are great but
are no means a substitute for experience. Day in day out....cuttin'.
Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. As for me,
I'm from N. California. I cut timber professionally for helicopter loggers
and contract my services as an emergency wildland firefighter. Wildland is
where my career started nine years ago. I have seen alot of cuttin' both
on fires and loggin' and I have this to say......there is no room for egos
when runnin' that saw. Be careful and observe, yourself, others and your
LaPorte rd. Saw
||LaPorte RD asks what makes a "cutter"?
Good question, one still being debated. Within the FS one must
differentiate between a "sawyer" and a "faller".......
the former cutting brush or downed timber, and the latter cutting standing
(live/dead/burning) trees. What's the opinion out there? Are they separate
jobs? Differing standards? If we hire a contract faller, should that
"firefighter" have basic ff training? Pass the WCT? Wear nomex?
Carry a shelter?
Old Fire Guy
After reading Enuffsaid posting dated 03/23, I promptly copied (hope
thats'O.K) and passed it out to each and every Crew member in our
"food for thought" section of our newsletter (with appropRiate
credits, of course). I think Enuffsaid hit it right on the head, and I
have'nt heard or read better advice in a long while. Perhaps more readers
will take this advice and share it as well!
Be careful & safe out there!!!
Right on. He does have a wildland firefighter's turn of phrase...
and as always, cuts to the essential... Ab.
||LaPorte Rd Saw,
When you say "cutters" are you talking about brush or timber?
curiosity, are you from Indiana, California or Texas?)
||Article about Krs from the Lexington Herald-Leader by Andy Mead:
a new way of life
Another one by Andy Mead about the arson fires in KY.
has a history of setting fires
||Re: S-230, Mr. Fiorito, when working on the rewrite of S-230 please do
not forget that the course is titled "Single Resource Boss" not
"Twenty Person Crew Boss." The material in the course pertains
to all who could supervise different types of single resources on an
incident. Sometimes we forget that in the Resource Boss taskbook, one does
not have to supervise a crew of twenty to complete the TB. A crew can
number from 2 to 20. Too many times I have been asked "how am I going
to complete the TB" when we (state agency) do not have twenty person
crews like the feds.
DM, In hope of not sounding pissy to your response to my previous
posts, needless to say, I disagree with some of your statements.
Specifically "Selecting one of the worst possible places to wait it
out." My question to you is; would you of taken the crew down river
through the crowing fire that blocked the road? Or, would you of taken the
crew up river where the timber and brush was thicker and the canyon (dead
end) was much narrower? Would you of disregarded the advice of "air
attack" who was overhead informing you that the spot looked good,
talas with no vegetation on one side and the river on the other side? What
would you have done?
To often I hear "what the problem is and who is to blame". I
do not hear solutions often enough from the people doing the complaining.
Solving problems is part of leadership, standing back and laying blame and
pointing fingers is counter productive, leads to hate and discontent (low
moral). If any one wants to move up in the fire organization, remember the
higher you go -- the tougher the decisions get. It is called
accountability. It is easy to be one of crew and pitch crap from the
ranks, it is not so easy to be up front. I remember years ago, a young
engine leader got his first assignment as Crew Boss on a relativity small
fire and was running his legs off. After the fire was over, he said to me
in amazement, "The job is a hell of lot harder than I thought, I
thought all a crew boss did was ride around in the truck and talk on the
radio, you got to be thinking all the time." My response to him was
Enough for now, thanks for the forum.
Your rumor is correct about R3 forests asking for fire severity money.
I think just about all of them asked for it to use one way or another. The
A-S and Coronado started looking at doing this as far back as early Feb. I
think the Tonto did, as well.
One of the Az. forests is using some of that money to create a
10-person IA handcrew out of some of its 'shot crew overhead and senior
And for those of you who didn't see the news ... a human-caused fire
that started in grass north of Ruidoso, N.M., has burned 32 homes down as
of Sat. nite. It's called the Kokopelli Fire. Blame it on the gusts that
reached up to 60 MPH and shut down the airshow a few times. The fire has
spread into thick, snarled PPine thickets. Five Type 1 crews, 2 Type 2
crews ordered along with six Type 6 engines; not sure if the orders were
all filled. Bateman's Type 1 IMT was mobilized Saturday afternoon.
Conditions out here are pretty much like '96. In fact, the live fuel
moistures throughout Az. are actually lower than they were then. So are
the 1,000-hour fuels.
There seems to be a real fear out here that two large fires at the same
time might tax the nation's still-mobilizing fire resources
Be safe out there, folks.
On the leadership issue, April 7th (here in California, check your local
listings) on the A&E channel there will be a movie about Ernest
and His ship the "Endurance". If you have been through the
leadership class you will know who/what I am talking about. He led an
expedition to Antarctica and was stranded for 2 years on the ice, finally
being rescued. All without losing a single person, though coming very
This is an excellent example of quality leadership, check it out.
||Hello, I think the topics posted here are great, this is the necessary
communication needed to forward the fire industry. I am looking for input
from the community on how they view professional cutters on fires? From
the timber industry or within their own agencies, what makes a
professional cutter, anyone?
LaPorte Rd Saw
||NorCalTom asked for clarification on a Dana Post about "top
and safety concerns. I'll second that. Dana also wrote about "the
misplaced priorities of the WO which make safety a lower priority than
Now I rarely get excited anymore about such stuff, but I believe I'll
make an exception on that one. Dana, which priorities exactly are you
slammin' here, and who or what exactly in the WO makes you think that?
That's a pretty serious charge to level.
||Dana, I agree with some of what you said. Fatigue is a major factor in
accidents and people get pretty worn out after a couple of days without
It seems to me though, that the feds have really tightened up in the
last few years on the issue of long shifts. It's rare to get much more
than 14 hours except during the first couple of shifts on a larger fire.
I don't necessarily think that a crewboss is derelict in his/her duty
by working some long hours. Maybe I'm missing something here, but racking
up overtime has always been the name of the game. From where I'm sitting,
a good crew boss is always looking for ways to get the crew some hours.
Taking a crew off shift to rest is good policy in a perfect world.
However there are times when there are so many fires burning that
resources become scarce. In that case there are no reinforcements
available. (S**t happens) and initial attack becomes extended attack.
If anybody can't pull a 15 hours shift, they're probably in the wrong
line of work.
~2 cents worth~
||Hey all: I know it's perhaps a bit premature, but I saw that NOVA is
show on fire this spring, according to their promo literature it seems it
going to revolve around the 2000 season, following the Arrowhead IHC
The show is set to air on 7 May, and the website will be up around 30
Please remind us closer to the date when it's gonna be shown.
I appreciate your perspective and concern, but I think West Posting
probably was referring to Fed Fire today, not Minnesota Fire overhead
behavior from some time ago. West, please correct me if I'm wrong. And
West, I agree with you from my perspective.
Brauneis's article contains a great deal of wisdom. I add my vote to
teaching the 10 Fire Orders that way. We need a way for groundpounders and
their crewboss to look at and emphasize the situational nature of the
process -especially watching out for transitions. The Orders need to be a
logical, practiced and automatic way of looking at engagement. A fire
behavior course (revamp of 190) that involved some critical thinking about
fire behavior with respect to engage/disengage of the fire would also be
an improvement over the lists. (BTW, I'm pretty sure it's not Carl with a
C, but Karl with a K.)
Ab, thanks so much for this forum and the oversight you all provide.
Ab just corrected the spelling. Thanks.
||Hello, When I was driving by Bishop yesterday, it was cloudy and windy
real windy anyway it appears wildfire season has kicked off with a major
fire along the Owens River near the Laws Railroad Museum. Could be the
start of an interesting season.
||I know no one asked for this, but this is my comment on what needs to
change in S-130.
Just want to throw out there again the short article done by Carl Brauneis
reminding us of the ORIGINS of the 10 Standard Fire Orders and their
intent. They were initially taught as "Rules of Engagement" and
I think this approach is one we should teach, not the catchy list as they
are currently presented.
Ab, don't you already have this on the site somewhere?
Yeah, had to use the search for that one. Here's the link. Original
Intent Ten Orders. I'll put a link to it on the Site Map. Ab.
||Just another fireguy,
I have also worked till I dropped. Can that possibly be within the
work/rest guidelines? I don't think that their intent is to say it 's OK
to work for 40+ hours without rest as long as a firefighter gets to
"catch up" on it eventually. From the studies I have seen and my
own experience, after laboring 8 hours mental awareness is going downhill
fast. At 15 hrs. the term 'situational awareness' becomes a joke. Any crew
leader that allows his crew to work that long in a dangerous situation
without "real rest" is derelict in duty. Any manager that allows
a crew leader to work this long without providing "real rest" is
derelict in duty. Any IC that allows anyone under him/her to go into or
remain in a situation without adequate rest where clear thinking is the
basis of safety is derelict in duty. Any WO level executive that allows
those under him/her to exceed reasonable work/rest ratios is derelict in
duty. If safety of ones employees is really the highest priority of those
who employ us why are they not held responsible for this type of
dereliction of duty? Is this another example of us being too macho for our
The widespread acceptance of fatigue on the fireground is an indictment
of everyone employed by the fire suppression agencies in positions of
power and an example of where the burden of "safety first" is
NOT being shouldered. If a firefighter dies because someone did not have
situational awareness after adequate rest the burden lies squarely on the
shoulders of that firefighter. If a firefighter dies because they had been
working for 15 hours and was too "dopey" from lack of real rest
the burden lies squarely up the chain of command. Fatigue is not the
culprit...it just points to who actually is. I agree that if the
responsibility for firefighter injuries and deaths is placed on
"fatigue" it is a whitewash. The responsibility of those who
were derelict in their duty by allowing crews/leaders/ICs to become too
tired to have adequate situational awareness must be addressed. To blame
dead firefighters for not following the "10 & 18" when they
were not capable of doing so is a cop out. Should we allow our employers,
who are legally responsible for our safety, to place more burden on us for
safety than they are willing to accept themselves? I find that
unacceptable on a moral, ethical, and legal level.
Re:"if top management ever gets "wind" of a safety concern
not being addressed"..."there will be hell to pay by the person
who did not address the concern". From my experience this is simply
not true. It should be...but sadly...is not.
I do agree however with your assessment that "the problem is each
and every one of us." This is especially true if we do no more to
ensure our own safety...starting with requiring those above us to
participate in the "safety program" more than they do. Simply
saying "be more careful" by implementing more safety directives
is ludicrous. The way I interpret the OSHA 30 mile report the problem is
that although the fireground is a dangerous place by its' very nature,
current practices make it more so UNNECESSARILY. I believe this is mainly
due to negligence and fear of criticizing the misplaced priorities of the
WO which make safety a lower priority than budget concerns.
I received a call from Andy Mead of the Lexington Herald-Leader today- He
interview / story will be printed Sunday. I guess UK lost a game or
something so now there's room. Anyway, go check it out- he read most of it
to me over the phone, and it sounds like a cool story.
Here's where to go: http://www.kentucky.com/mld/heraldleader/
'Cource as soon as I get it I will mirror on krstofer.org.
See ya on the hill someday, I hope-
Hey, KRS, as we say on our main wildlandfire.com page, "we're
glad you found us, take yer boots off and 'take five'." Hopefully
you'll be getting those boots ON & OFF regularly in the near future.
Thanks for the tip on your story. We've enjoyed your journal. Ab.
||Food for thought after 25 years in the wildland fire profession.
Leadership is important,
but always having a way out,
knowing where it's at,
when to use it,
and protecting it at all times is even more important.
ALWAYS HAVE A WAY OUT.
ALWAYS GUARD and PROTECT YOUR ESCAPE ROUTE.
Never out distance your escape route protection.
Never commit to a foot race that has no options,
No room for error.
ALWAYS HAVE A WAY OUT- AND PROTECT IT.
If you ever get thrown together into a crew of strangers,
Strangers without trust,
Strangers without knowledge,
-Of each other and the boss,
Get the mating dance done
before you face the flames.
Until either you are relieved or the boss is,
The boss man/woman gives the orders.
Until then help the boss do their job better.
For good leaders are often made by the people who follow them.
If your ego is greater than the sum of your fear,
perhaps you should consider selling used cars instead of fighting fire.
Dead heros might indeed have died brave,
but in the end they are still dead.
Cherish those times when everyone makes it to the chow line at the end
Healthy and safe.
Count you blessings and stop your bitching.
Because this day could be your last,
By nothing more ominous than a chance change in the wind.
Become a good example to others and
Others will follow.
Mr. Enuf Said
Been hearing rumors of R-3 getting severity money and ordering up crews
and equipment to come out like in '96. Has anybody else heard this?
||I have a few comments about people trying to move up as fast as they can
and who gets put in positions of leadership.
From my own experience I have probably worked for or closely with 2
dozen or so "supervisors" (Crewboss and up) from different
agencies, out of those I would say only 2 or 3 were good leaders. Many
were good firefighters but few knew how to manage people to get the most
from their crew and to do the most for their crew. A few were terrible
leaders and the worst were also poor firefighters. I place myself
someplace in the middle, I'm a competent firefighter but I'm still
learning about being a leader. The worst part is I have seen little help
from any agency as far as developing leaders. The only really useful
instruction I have received came through experience and those few real
leaders I've had the privilege to work with.
As far as people seeking promotion too quickly, the seasonal nature of
the wildland business makes this a matter of economics. Not many can
really afford to spend more than a few seasons as a 1039, GS4, I think
most of us would be happy to spend some more time in the back seat to
watch a good leader at work. The truth is I have learned much more since
taking higher level positions because so many "leaders" follow
the mushroom principle (keep 'em in the dark and cover 'em in BS). I have
taken most of my promotions out of necessity (if I don't go for it the one
who gets it is will be even worse than me), I may have some room to
improve but at least I will improve and know my limitations, many won't
and don't. How many of you have seen people promoted despite their being
incapable in the lower position because "they are a hard worker"
or "have done their time", my personal favorite was "he has
a family and needs the money". This was of a person who couldn't even
grasp the basics needed to be a firefighter let alone to be an FEO.
Thankfully in this last case, the error was seen and corrected before
anybody got hurt.
My comments on S230 Crewboss
More time is needed and it should be used more efficiently. The class
should be aimed at the target level, I found much time was wasted on
things that should already be known when you enter the class. More time
should be spent on developing a crew and managing the crew off an
assignment as well as on. Also a little time should be used to cover the
other "boss" classes (Engine boss, Dozer boss etc) just so the
crewbosses have a better idea of what those jobs are all about.
NWCG classes are primarily written for the Federal Wildland agencies, they
should reflect this, we are not portal to portal. The class should not
provide instruction as though we are. Spend some time dealing with ways to
handle the fact your crew will be off shift at times instead of pretending
that we have authority and responsibility for them 24/7, we don't....yet.
Spend a lot more time on tactics: why do we wait until Strike team leader
to provide a tactics class, that should come right along with S290, not
wait until S336. By the time we get a tactics class, we don't need it (as
offered anyway) because we've done it. Also get away from the group
exercises. We generally don't get into little groups and brainstorm during
initial attack, at least not successfully, yes a quick word or two to
develop the plan but I've seen people try and debate what actions to take
and watched the fire go hell bent for the next county when quick decisive
action would have more effective and often safer. I find most of the group
exercises become one or to "do'ers" one or two
"also's" and the rest "followers" so this doesn't help
anyone. Make the wall flowers come up and defend the plan they came up
with; it just might help them develop some confidence.
Finally don't write the class down to the lowest common denominator as
it currently is. Not everyone should be a crewboss. When I took EMT you
had to get 80% to pass with a C, nothing less passed, the dean of
instruction questioned the instructor on the high failure rates. The
instructor's response was he would send all the C and D EMT 's to the
deans family in an emergency. That was the end of the discussion the Dean
then understood why there was a high failure rate, so do you want the C
and D crewbosses running your kid's crew? I don't.
One final comment since I've got email again
Portal to Portal, many seem to think such a thing will never pass, I heard
much the same about the 0081 Firefighters pay reform that passed in 1998.
This was a major increase in pay for those working a 72 work week. Just as
in portal to portal, the agencies fought against it as being too expensive
and it only passed due to the work of individuals, the IAFF and CPF. I
left a GS5 0081 job for a GS5 0462 job with the USFS in 1998, I wound up
making more with the USFS with a mediocre OT year. Now returning to a GS5
0081 job from a GS7 0462 job with the USFS I am making considerably more
despite a good OT year with the USFS. The 1998 pay reform was much more
expensive than the portal to portal will be and it passed because it was
hard to argue that the current system wasn't unfair.
Anyway Good luck to the FWFSA members in DC (actually I guess their on the
way home now).
Fedfire, thanks very much for your great help in the letter writing
campaign. It will be interesting to hear from FWFSA members when they get
over jet lag. Ab.
||Dear Jersey Boy,
This is a challenge to the best qualified and most dedicated firefighters
east and west of the Rocky Mountains. Go to this website www.fs.fed.us/fsjobs/fire-hire.phpl
Follow the directions, access the permanent fire jobs -Send your
applications into the Forest Service. Note that you would like to work on
the Malheur National Forest at Burns, Oregon.
Get your application in ASAP ( within the next week). This will be for
round 3 career hiring in May. I am looking to possibly hire at least two
assistant engine captains GS-5/6 and one engine captain GS-6/7.
We have heard much complaining about the difficulty of getting a permanent
job. Meanwhile I am having a hard time trying to hire firefighters with
very limited numbers of applicants on hiring certificates. So now is your
I look forward to seeing some good applications on the next round.
Fire Operations Specialist/ Unit Aviation Officer
Burns Interagency Fire Zone
||The other night, I was in chat and was visiting with Mellie about seeing
where some of the leaders of the IMS teams from the Wildland had met at
the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md. http://www.usfa.fema.gov/wildfire/imt-meet.php
Now there's a discussion on 'They Said" about Leadership and the
ways some of us build, develop, and struggle with leadership. Some
mentioned week long classes, some special training, and some just are born
with it... For those of you that are looking for training in leadership,
you might look at the National Fire Academy program. "Ahhhh but
that's for the sturctural dudes..." some of you may say.
"Ahhh, but it's not....." I've been through the NFA classes
dealing with Interpersonal Dynamics in Fire Service Organizations, Fire
Service Communications, and the some of the other NFA programs dealing
with Leadership: Strategies for Company, Personal, and Supervisory
Success. Not to forget about classes like: Strategic Management of Change,
Shaping the Future, Managing In A Changing Environment, and the Managing
Company Tactical Operations (MCTO) classes dealing with Decision Making,
Preparation, and Tactics. Granted, some may be geared to the Structural
side of fire fighting, but Leaders all come from some where and they all
are well versed in many skills.
Sometimes, the name of the classes are a little deceiving, like Fire
Service Communications. It's not "Learn'n how to talk on the
radio", it deals with verbal, written, and body communications. Now
some of the classes are 12 hours long and some are 2 weeks, but when you
look at the cost.... you can't beat it.. If you attend the classes at the
NFA, it will cost you a meal ticket...about $170 for two weeks.
Transportation is provided by the Fed's. You will have some personal
expenses, like time in the Pub, class pictures, class shirts, and maybe a
vehicle rental if you want to see the sites around the area, but it is
well worth it. You do have to fill out an application to get into the
classes at Emmitsburg and you are limited to one trip per year.
On some of the classes, they turn down as many at 30 applications for
every one they accept. However, if you want to stoop so low as talk to
some of the Structural Dudes in your state about training available, you
might be able to pick some of the training up for as little as nothing...
In my state, we have House Bill Classes, which are provided to
firefighters at no cost...and these are some of the classes I've
mentioned. Granted, we may not all be Leaders, but those which wish to be,
can find the education. Sometimes, we may have to lead others along the
way just to get them started..
Remember, "It always easier to Pull a Log Chain than it is to Push
one." and they sometimes get hung up too.
Some people seem to be born with the qualities, some aren't. So why take a
chance? If you haven't got born leaders, build them. Training and
people to develop leadership qualities is a prime responsibility of fire
supervisors and managers. There are books and training courses on the
subject, and every one of us can make an effort to take the time to
leadership in ourselves and others through mentoring and example.
BLM and the Forest Service (I believe) have been contracting with an
called Mission Centered Solutions (303 646-3700) to put on a one-week
called "Fireline Leadership." The class focuses on the
leadership issues that
people encounter is high-risk environments where stress and time pressures
affect leadership and result in loss of life. We have been putting engine
crew overhead, hotshots, helitack, and jumpers through the training, and
very well received and highly regarded by the participants. I'm making
it's offered to everyone in my program. The course is also part of the
curriculum in the Advanced Academy of the Apprenticeship Program. Not
everyone goes to the JAC, but they can take the stand-alone course.
It's a spendy thing - $20,000 for a maximum of 22 people - but I believe
worth it. Look into it, and see if you can't get yourself and your people
it. BLM allows credit for S-301 to people that complete Fireline
I'm told that a leadership course for FMO types is available soon.
Good books on leadership are available through sources like Amazon or
and Noble. Check out "The Leadersip Moment" by Michael Unseem -
the Mann Gulch disaster from a leadership standpoint. Everyone that reads
this web site should be familiar with all the accident and incident
("lessons learned") that are available on the web and talk about
people at work.
Read human factors writings by about fires by Ted Putnam (Findings From
Wildland Firefighters Human Factors Workshop, and The Collapse of
Decisionmaking and Organizational Structure on Storm King Mountain) and
Weick (The Collapse of Sensemaking in Organizations: The Mann Gulch
Diane Vaughn gave a paper to one of the IHC workshops on how the
disaster can give valuable lessons on firefighting - find it and read it
My point is that there are positive, valuable steps that can be taken to
develop and hone leadership qualities - they aren't rocket science, and we
it to ourselves and each other to take those steps. You just have to set
as a goal, and pursue it. Not too long ago, a BLM State FMO who thinks a
about leadership put together an interesting leadership reading list, and
people here are interested, maybe we can get it on-line somehow.
The important thing is to take responsibility for developing leadership
in yourself, and passing it along when you can.
Send that reading list in, Bob, and we'll get it up. Good book, A
Leadership Moment. Perhaps we can add a new leadership category to our
Fire Books page. Readers, order your books from Amazon by entering through
our Amazon portal on the fire books page to help pay the bills here. I
have also had good luck with secondhand paperback books from Amazon
||On the whole I agree with the quality of leadership being a factor in
the 30-mile incident, and continues to be a liability. The main problem
that I have heard running through various posts is how to attract and
retain quality leaders. First of all, the world of fire is no different
than any other profession in the respect that it has problems getting the
best people. Every job field is populated with a percentage of people who
have no business being in control. However fire differs from other
professions in the fact that here, bosses are directly and intently
responsible for the lives of their subordinates. When mistakes are made in
fire, the company's bottom line isn't hurt, lives are lost. One of the big
problems that I see as an Easterner who comes west in the summer is that
there is very tiny percentage of folks from the East Coast. Now I know
that this isn't an agency problem, but more like a human
resources/logistics problem. Imagine that the potential workforce could be
doubled - then the number of quality applicants for entry level positions
would double, and qualifications would be tougher to meet. This wouldn't
directly affect the overhead problem, but if you kept bringing people back
year after year, those qualified would conceivably move up the ranks.
Out East, people have no idea what wildland firefighting is all about.
They hear firefighter and they think of saving babies and ladders. Its
also a full time job here. Folks just don't think about the fact that it
could be seasonal work to start (i.e. college students). And lets not
forget that there is still an "old boys" network present in
fire. Its not as prevalent as it used to be, but for those who live in the
East, it can be a handicap. We don't live close to Nat'l Forests or Parks,
and hence few people know someone who can show them the ropes or even lend
a good word about them. It took me until I was in my mid 20's to get on a
fire crew - an entry level one, a job that I know I could have handled at
age 19. I am not bitter about it, but it's a part of the local culture. No
one here thinks about working fires in the summer, because it isn't done
here. In short, if the fire world is really interested in finding quality
overhead folks, they have to find quality entry level workers to start.
And it seems to me that maybe a good 1/2 the population doesn't even know
about the job opportunities that exist. I'm sure there are some damn good
firefighters in that group.
||CAMTK, MMN, Right on people. Not everyone is capable of leading or wants
to be a leader. That is real evident in the whole of society not just the
The question is, how do you identify, train, mentor and promote those who
are capable and willing to be leaders?
Do you pick the most physically fit, self-motivated, hardest worker on a
crew and assume that those are the traits that will, over time, morph into
Do you send a kid to the JACT Academy for accelerated training and job
Do you let anyone who wants to, go to the S-Courses and fill out their
task book, and then they are one?
These are the standard procedures we are using now and we are getting
about 75% maybe a little higher of people who have acquired actual
leadership qualities, 20% people who can fake it pretty well until
something goes bad, and 5% who should have never stayed around after their
I want to know how to up the percentages in this "kinder-gentler
fireservice that we have created," as CAMTK put it.
I don't have the answer but if we put our heads together I am sure we can
find a better way. Keep posting.
||Good Morning Ab,
I am happy to see good discussion of 30 Mile. This winter I was asked
to participate on a group to deal with some of the Action Items and how we
can address them.
I think my number one concern is leadership. In the fireservice we
expect everyone who desires to go any farther than a FFT2 to be a leader.
Not everyone is capable of being a leader. In this kinder-gentler
fireservice that we have created, we think that we can make anyone into
something they may not be capable of. We as fire managers, need to be more
open and honest with our firefighters, those who have great capabilities
in leadership should moved forward. Those who do not should not be moved
forward. We need to get tougher in our red card committees and determine
whether a person is capable of leading, before just saying yes to FFT1.
That individual is supposed to be a leader of people.
I also think that we need some sort of proficiency testing for all of
the leadership positions. In the current system, if you take an assignment
every 5 years you maintain your qualifications. I don't think it is
enough. We need to be proficient in all that we do, and leadership is
crucial. When you give an order it needs to be followed, not brushed off,
with we will be all right up here.
When I grew up in the fireservice, I asked a lot of questions of my
leaders, as a GS-4 you did not pay me enough to loose my life, so I
questioned authority, but I also had a great respect for authority. We
need to get the point across, when it is time to move, MOVE!!!!!
I also feel that in this new age of hiring, and lots of new people on
the ground, we need to assure that they are getting enough experience,
that they can make good decisions. We have to stop the fast tracking, and
let people be crew members for a while before they move up in our
organizations. Everyone wants to move up so quickly, and be more than they
can be. I am constantly telling people when they come to me for advice on
what positions they can qualify for, get some more experience at the level
that you are at, become the expert at that position, watch the fire
behavior, feel comfortable about leading people out of the dark hole, or
out of the bad situation, then we can work on moving up.
You cant expect people to have good situational awareness unless they
have good experience to refer back to. We have to turn all this
information that we provide to our firefighters into knowledge. We have to
assure that they understand the consequences of their actions.
I often wonder why more leadership was not ordered with the amount of
resources out there. Why did everyone think it was ok?
I guess the bottom line is get involved when fire managers are working
on the preplanned stuff, assure that adequate supervision and leadership
positions are identified along with all the resources, ensure that your
dispatch staff understand this also. They should redflag, when they are
sending an overwhelming amount of resources to a fire, that leadership
also needs to be dispatched to these incidents.
Supervisors of the resources ie. ENGB & CRWB's need to know their
own limitations, and know that it is ok to say that you need more
leadership on an incident. Pay attention to what is going on, and ask for
help before it is needed. We are a team, regardless of agency, we need to
work together, and spread the word. Get involved, and know your
limitations, and be safe.
Thanks for the time on the soapbox....
||Don't know how many of you are aware of the upcoming event in
Sacramento, CA. On April 6, 2002 there will be a dedication of The
California Firefighter's Memorial. This is a wall type memorial of
California Firefighters that were lost in action. The Memorial is located
on or adjacent to the State Capitol Grounds. The schedule of events on
that Saturday starts with breakfast with family members. Then at noon
there will be a gathering of uniformed firefighters on the North steps of
the Capitol with a procession starting 1300 to the Memorial site. Then
speeches, and dedication with the Governor and other dignitaries.
You can contact the Memorial Committee at 916-921-9111; Fax
916-921-1106. They have a very good website that has the most up to date
information http://www.cpf.org. You can
e-mail them at email@example.com.
If you plan on attending, they strongly suggest you call and let them
know what department, agency you are representing along with the number of
people. If you want to be in the procession, remember you need to be in
uniform. The Forest Service Honor Guard is scheduled to be there. For
Forest Service, it is highly recommended that dress be uniform trousers
and shirt, badge and name plate. No non-uniform baseball caps or NOMEX.
Other departments are Class A's or station blues.
For those who can make it, let's show up to honor our fallen comrades!!
Thanks for the heads-up, djchief. Ab.
||Most people feel they have enough experience until they come to a
situation when they don't have enough. Most people feel they have
adequate leadership skills until they find out differently.
We need to make sure that "leaders" know enough to know when
don't know and pull people back to reconsider. We also need to make
sure those inexperienced or ineffective in leadership are not required or
encouraged to lead.
Overhead who put poor leaders into leadership positions or who do not
provide supervisors with leadership skills necessary for the situation
must be held as accountable as those who are the poor leaders but
don't know it. Overhead might even need to be held more accountable.
||Dan and others:
The Crew Boss being the next step after FF1 can produce a wide range of
talent to the position in relation to experience. The class does go over
the basics well and builds a platform to start from.
This site "they said" has a lot of discussion about
This is where maybe the outline could be improved. Hopefully the persons
taking the class are motivated to move up through the Redcard ranks, so to
speak, and become our future leaders and not just for the next pay step.
Teach them that THEY are taking on a bigger role, that they will be held
accountable and that their liability level jumped dramatically.
Supervisors who will explain (if not asked first) their current experience
level and understanding of the local fuels, weather and topography are the
ones I feel comfortable managing. That way I will know if I need to
them or leave them alone for the most part.
Hope this helps. will be in Phoenix for a week. Will catch up when I get
I would have posted earlier, but I have been busy and had limited web
access, but I did some catching up last night. I read some things, in
regards to the 30 Mile Incident which compelled me to post.
I strongly disagree with West Posting’s assertion that "I would
have picked the same spot to 'wait it out'."
Or that some "strange s**t" happened that day.
I contend that the fire behavior that day was predictable and could
have been anticipated, to some extent, by anyone watching trends and
taking note of indicators. Too bad.
That resulted in a string of events that eventually brought a crew to a
place between the running, crowning main fire, and a rapidly growing (with
an assist from the former) spot fire.
I would not expect a crew boss to understand the fluid dynamic of two
rising columns of super heated air, but I would expect that individual to
understand the ramification of situating a crew between the same to
"wait it out." Selecting one of the worst possible places, and
seemingly completely unaware of that. Tragic.
Just Another Fire Guy’s statement "I think firefighter fatigue
is an easy scapegoat for, and basically a management white wash of the
real problems, i.e. lack of leadership at all levels on the
incident", is dead on!
One poster (wanting to sleep better?) suggested that there has been a
lack of discussion on the forum due a still hazy picture. We have read the
reports, and can not find many answers. Many of them are not readily
apparent, but if the fire management group on those forests took an honest
look inward, most would be quickly illuminated. Until that happens I must,
unfortunately, agree with FirePup91 who states "But I fear as others,
that it is almost an inevitability that others will lose their lives
performing a job that they love,..." uhmm.
So I don’t buy the fatigue + strange s**t = incinerated fire fighters
equation and I know most of your posters and lurkers probably don’t
The 30-Mile Tragedy had been festering for years, all that was needed
was a few things to get lined up. It pains me to say, and believe, that
there is another one brewing up even as I sit here and type, and a
different color hard hat, a new radio call sign, a better fire shelter and
another card to stick in my nomex pocket, will do little, if anything, to
I would hope that it will serve to strengthen our collective resolve, from
the ground, to do, whatever it takes, to never allow this to happen
||Abinezers and all, I would like to try something a little different
would like input from the readers of this site on what they would like to
see changed or left alone in the S-230 Single Resource Boss Course.
I am involved as a member of the team that is charged with rewriting the
course the week of 4/1/02. I would like to see the responses posted on
"They Said" because I feel that there could be some good
generated by this topic. Kind of a cyber brain-storming session.
To me the Crew Boss is the backbone of the fire organization and the job
getting more complex all the time. One thought I have had is, to increase
the course time to at least 32 hours and possibly up to two weeks, 24
just seems like a disservice to our up and coming crew leaders.
Abs, if you dont think that this is a good use of your time and space on
wildlandfire.com, you could just forward any input directly to me.
Thanks in advance for the help.
Union IHC Supt.
This is a good use of time and space. This is the website of the
groundpounder, after all. Ab.
||FYI. See attached agency memo from Jeff Scussel, acting National
Wildfire Safety Officer.
On Monday, March 18, a female employee with the State Department of
Natural Resource in Dillon, Montana passed away as a result of a probable
massive brain hemorrhage. She was a primary firefighter with the State
with 11 seasons of experience. Our condolences go out to her family,
friends, and fellow workers with the State and Federal Agencies in SW
Montana. The following are some facts as we know them:
Female - age 46
Primary firefighter as an Engine Boss, Type 4 IC, and Helitack crew
member. Excellent performance record.
Raised on a ranch in Dillon area, in great physical shape and never a
problem passing fitness tests at the arduous level.
Had been taking lunch hour hikes for the past 2 or 3 weeks to get in shape
for the up-coming fire season.
Had complained of headaches for the past week and had scheduled a doctors
appointment for this week.
While hiking at noon on Monday with a 20 lb pack, she collapsed to the
ground unconscious. Medical attention was on the scene almost immediately,
she was transported to the hospital where diagnosis was made.
She passed away at about 15:00. She was a registered organ donor, and her
husband has taken care of all the donor arrangements.
This fatality comes on the heels of the release of our agency WCT
guidelines, and a question could be asked, are we doing all we can to
avoid situations such as this. We encourage everyone to follow the
guideline process from HSQ, to medical examine if necessary, to
administered taking of the WCT. It is important to monitor the stage of
getting into shape as well as the taking of the actual test. Please pass
this information on as you see necessary with the assurance that
management is behind our process. Let's use this unfortunate incident to
bolster our efforts in the protection of our employees.
We are working with the State of Montana to involve the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation. The Forest Service in Region 1 will help sponsor
If you have any questions, please give me a call. Ed will be back to work
in Boise next week.
Jeff Scussel firstname.lastname@example.org
Acting National Wildfire Safety Officer
Condolences to family and friends. Ab.
First and foremost, thanks for the best and most informative wildfire
website on-line, anywhere. As a long time lurker (years, infact) I've
enjoyed the humorous and sometimes heated discussions that take place
and quite often glean some very valuable info on what's going on in the
world. Again; thanks much!
From June 2nd to June24th I was assigned to the Viveash/Pecos Helibase. I
am a Heli-Rappeller from R-4 (Price Valley) and during the course of my
(long) assignment there, preformed in just about every capacity (except
HEBM) that was required. That includes the preparation and aerial
of the "waddle" re-hab effort. This was (then) and still is
(now) one of the
best assignments I've ever had. Consequentially, I took a LOT of pictures.
I spent a lot of time in the air over this fire as well and was in and
around just about every Division/Heli-spot/Dip-site there was. I'm not
what you're looking for in the way of pictures, but you're more than
to e-mail me at email@example.com. Any help/info I can provide would be
my distinct pleasure and honor, as I was extremely impressed with the
gracious and good hearted way in which (I) we were treated while there. On
daily basis I was treated with respect and gratitude by all, in and around
the community of Pecos. I feel that you and your fellow citizens are to be
commended for the way we were all accepted into your (beautiful)
Maybe I can give back a little of what I received...?
Appreciate the thanks, mtndv8. Ab.
I too have worked for both State and Federal agencies during the last
10 years and have witnessed the very same things you identified in your
previous post. I personally believe that some of the attitudes between the
fire crews stem from a lack of understanding of the other agency’s
policies and procedures. For example, I have often heard the complaint
that state crews are lazy while federal crews are required to work harder
and longer shifts. In actuality, the state crews were directed to sit in
the compound yard doing nothing (except playing cards) until the fire call
came at which time they would gladly jump into their rigs and head for the
action. In comparison, the federal crews were required to actually work
for a full 8-hour shift each day, doing project work, patrolling the
forest road systems, making visitor contacts, etc. In addition, the state
crews were not required to do PT everyday, but the federal crews were. As
you can probably guess, this caused some friction between the crews from
both agencies. It isn’t that the state crews are slugs, they just have
different operating procedures than the feds. It is always easier to
criticize what one does not understand than to appear ignorant or naïve
and ask someone to explain it to them. Often times, people just don’t
care about the other agency’s policies and procedures, they just need an
opportunity to blow off steam and other agencies are an easy target.
What I try to do when faced with this type of situation is “kill the
person with kindness” and try not to take offense. The easiest way to
shut someone up is to ask them to show you their way of doing things. If
they are busy explaining things to you then they don’t have the time to
gripe or complain about the way you are doing it differently. Sometimes
you just might learn something helpful from viewing their procedures.
Sometimes it’s just an exercise in trying to get along and create a good
working atmosphere. Bottom line is that you can’t change your agency’s
procedures to please another agency’s personnel. However, you can use
these situations as learning experiences.
Unfortunately, you are going to run into some people from other
agencies who are difficult to deal with. Maybe they are unhappy in their
jobs or maybe they just have big egos. Whatever the reason, you probably
won’t change them. You just have to make the best of the situation.
From experience, I can tell you that it is possible for different
agency personnel to get along and accept each other (blur the agency
affiliations if you will). I have worked in an interagency dispatch center
for 10 years now, employed by one agency, but dispatching other agencies’
resources. I know both agencies’ policies and dispatch resources under
the appropriate guidelines, but I never treat one crew any differently
from the other. If you were to ask any of the field people which agency I
am employed by, I’d bet any amount of money that they could not tell
you. And I’ll try to keep it that way. If I can blur those agency
affiliations and associations then I set a better example for those who
work around me to do the same.
I’ve seen a lot of changes and improvements over the years and feel
that the trend will continue to move towards interagency working
conditions and management in the fire arena. However, there will always be
people who drag their feet in conforming to interagency workings. These
are the ones you will experience trouble with. To that, all I can say is
hang in there and make the best of the situations you find yourself in.
Being aware of the situation and being prepared to deal with those
difficult people in a fire setting are two steps in the right direction.
- IA Dispatcher
||Yesterday's mail brought the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue
Training Institute Summer Fire School catalog. It contained a very
pleasant surprise. They are cooperating with the Big Rivers Forest Fire
Management Compact to present the inaugural Midwest Wildfire Training
Academy. They are offering I-100, S-130, S-190, S-131, S-200, S211, S-215,
S-230, S-231, S-234, & S-290 during the school May 29 - June 3 in
City. The fees are $25 - $100 depending on length of class. This is very
exciting for some of us in MO. Check it out at
Thanks for the info Shep. Ab.
||Loved the photos on your site. Check out the Cape Cod brushbreakers at
capecodfd.com. They are a little different from most wildfire apparatus
you might find them interesting.
||I have recently come from the nwsa conference in Reno and am following
the national and regional contracts closely. there is a system in place to
watch the undesirables and allow the best to compete in the national
contracts. new companies can compete if they have the quality there but
few, if any, can show the quality needed to compete in this game so most
stay regional. yes the system is in need of regulation and it is up to the
quality crews and companies to set the standard. so watch out for the
undesirables. I personally know of a contractor who is going to set a
standard the rest of the contracting world will have a hard time catching
up with;. this is a professional career so some are going to act that way.
the rest, well lets hope they fall to the wayside and the government sees
the best crews and also disciplines the worst crews.
its a doggy dog world out there so let the best team win!!!!!!!!!!!
Ab sez: NWSA = National Wildfire Suppression Association
||For those of you that wonder about the validity of contractors or other
personnel on your fire; read the link below.
Obviously we have run into excellent contract crews and everything in
How should we police this, correct this?
This is the same AP feed about contract crews being hired improperly
as the article that "Feeling gagged and frustrated in R6" sent
in, but the question Sfirelake asks is different... Ab.
||Looking for Basis FF training (S-110/130/190), weekends only
any agency, in western US.
||OK, here we go. The subject of who is better or safer and our way is
better than yours is a great one for people to stick both feet in their
I, being a person who has tasted shoe leather more than once, should
know better, but heres my 2 cents.
Some agencies are BETTER than others. Some agencies will not accept or
participate in the SafeNet reporting system and therefore are losing out
on their ability to learn what safety concerns are being raised on the
fires they manage. Unfortunately, not everyone has the gumption to
confront a person in authority face to face about a safety concern or
violation. The SafeNet system allows for some anonymity in the reporting
of unsafe acts. The the best thing of course would be to bring your safety
concerns to the forefront in person and with conviction and if necessary
turn down an unsafe assignment or stop and unsafe operation immediately,
we all know this doesn't always happen and sometimes with horrible
Some agencies don't get a number of fire assignments to respond to due
to their responsibilities to a limited geographic area. Therefore the
personnel working for these agencies can be limited in the amount of
experience they get through no fault of their own. They may or may not
receive quality training, but no matter how much good training you get,
there is no substitute for working on a large # of incidents in many
different fuel types and weather conditions.
Some agencies are more constrained fiscally than others. Strategies and
tactics can be and have been based on the least expensive option rather
than the most effective one. Use of aircraft or other equipment may be
over or under used based on the amount of money available. There is a lot
of waste in the bigger agencies sometimes because of available $, but on
the other hand safety may be compromised by a smaller agency because of
lack of $. Less money spent on training and equipment before an incident
can also affect safety.
Some agencies pay their personnel a lot more than others and some rely
on volunteers. I am not saying that volunteers are better or worse
firefighters but recruitment and retention of quality personnel is a lot
easier if you can pay a decent wage.
Yes, we all want to be as safe and efficient as we can, but with just
the few items I have written about and an open mind, any one can see that
some agencies are much better at managing wildland fires than others.
Is working for one agency or another an excuse to be arrogant, rude,
unapproachable, or prideful (in a negative way). No, it's not. If you are
fortunate enough to work for one of the "better" agencies, use
your training and experience to help those you work with raise the bar for
their agency. And not just when you are working on an inter-agency
assignment. The same thing applies to working with people from other
regions or states within the federal agencies. I have seen a lot of
arrogance and unapproachability when working with crews and overhead teams
from the same agency that I work for, and it hasn't added to the safety or
the effective management of those incidents in the least..
In the world of Wildland Fire Suppression and Management we are not all
equals, that is why there are Type 1 and Type 2 crews and Type 1 and Type
2 Incident Management Teams out there.
Maybe we can't all just get along, but we ought to throw a rope to
someone and not a rock when we get the chance.
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We are announcing some fundraising plans for wildlandfire.com. As you
all know, the site has grown quite a bit in the last two years. It's grown
in size as well as in number of people who view it and use the resources
here for training and presentations, school projects, and non-commercial
brochures, to name a few activities. Making powerpoints training programs
available for download while the DOI fire sites were down this winter
taxed our current ISP arrangement for bandwidth use. Rather than cut them,
we acquired more space. This has increased costs. At this point, the site
has definitely outgrown our ability to pay for it out-of-pocket. We are
clearly at a point where we need for the site to pay for itself.
Many of you who know how much work and expense are involved have asked
how you can help. Here's our plan. We're going to have a classifieds page,
host modest commercial banners on some pages, and probably offer hats and
mugs for sale, although this last involves some work also. To continue
benefiting our wildland fire community, we plan that the classifieds page
will have a free firefighter-to-firefighter section.
For those of you commercial viewers interested in seeing what we have
to offer you in advertising at wildlandfire.com, drop us an e-mail,
introduce yourselves, and we'll show you. Our preference is to have old
friends and community members have the first shot at sponsoring a page and
advertising here on classifieds. However, in addition, we will soon be
contacting vendors of fire-related products to see who else might be
interested. Readers, if any of you have business friends or acquaintances,
let them know about us, or if you have favorite commercial fire vendors
who come to mind, please send their website link to us. We'll add them to
our list of people to contact.
Our goal is to offer the classifieds page by April 15 or sooner if it
fills up. In some ways, this seems like a big step, commercializing
something we Abs have offered as a service to all of us since 1997. Never
fear, we'll all work at maintaining the essential non-commercial flavor of
the site. It will go on.
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I have seen and heard much of what you have described and can say that
I don't agree with it either. BUT when it comes to training I will have to
somewhat disagree. Lets compare the Forest Service to other agencies for
instance. The Forest Service seems to accept qualifications from other
agencies at "face value". I have run across division Supts. on
the line, and after a quick chat find out that they are a member of a
local structure dept. Now I am ok with that, BUT they said that since they
are a Battalion chief with their dept. that they are equivalent to a
division supt. and thats how they got their red card. Now yes, they
probably had taken the appropriate "S" classes, but openly
admitted that he had no wildland experience.
The Forest Service requires a lot of classes, on the job training, and
time to get to that level. Some of these folks are good people with good
intentions and are open for suggestions, but there are a lot of "cook
book" firefighters out there that only go by the book and are not
listening to the words and wisdom of experienced wildland firefighters.
Tables turned, I don't think that since I am Engine-Capt.-qualified that a
structure firefighter would agree or trust me to try and run a structure
fire operation. OR to the fact that I may be equivalent to one of their
officers solely on the basis that I am already an Engine Capt. and that I
have taken a few classes in building construction, tactics, or multi
I have no problem with interagency at all. I believe we all have an
important role in the suppression of wildland fire. I too have also run
across barriers with other agencies just like you. For instance, at a fire
camp that had a Forest Service Incident Commander and a Washington DNR
Cache. The cache did not want to give me replacement gloves or adequate
batteries. There statement was "we are a state cache and don't supply
all the stuff you want or in the quantities you want like the Forest
Service does." Now, I understand it if you don't have it. But giving
me the gloves and telling me to hide them in my shirt so others don't see
them and want their own is wrong. Its not about State or FS, the fire is
paying for the replacement supplies. So can anyone explain why its such a
I believe we should all get along and be on the same page. But to get
there I believe each agency should have the exact same training
requirements in order to be qualified for any position. By all means I am
not trying to trash any agency, I know I have plenty of "not the
sharpest tool in the shed people" in my organization. Until we all
start reading from the same book, I think there will always be some kind
I hope I did not offend anyone and was not trying put any agency down I
am sure we all have had some conflicts with other agencies in one form or
Thanks for the space
||You commented about under qualified and trained contract crews. What
about the crews who are keeping up to and beyond the implied standards?
I have worked for the Fed. Gov. on engine, handcrews, and a shot crew.
I'm a crew boss for a contract crew now. The Company I work for has
provided training that, to tell you the truth, surprised me considering
the amount of money needed to provide this training. The instructors
were all former retired Gov. or state fire. All the crew boss's and
squad boss's have former years of experience with gov. state or private.
All are knowledgeable in fire. The Company seems to have a quite a few
returnees every year. They also have a great safety and work record. I
have worked for the Fed. Gov for a few years. I have chosen to no longer
have the bureaucracy headaches to deal with. So in short there are a few
contract Co. out there who do have their sh.. together and are safety
conscious. So maybe we need to give a little recognition to the ones who
do. We seem to be focusing on all the negative how about a little
Just want to remind you to visit Krs
Evan's website, and catch up on our injured, but healing, Plumas
He sounds like he's doing well, moved from Craig Hospital in Englewood,
Colorado back home to Quincy, California last Friday. At least his web
journal tells his story up until he left CO... and he's put up photos of
all kinds of things from him doing a back flip in his chair to his buds
making his CA home ready -- Lotsa cohesion there.
Check this out... NICE.... an anti-arson
poster he's made for use in the KY anti-arson campaign.
His journal is as interesting as ever, reflecting the same irreverent
Krs with his hotshot humor, talking about his crazy daily schedule, the
interview with the journalist from the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, the
nurse with the catheter tube and the big ring, his research on
wheelchairs, the pros and cons of the pain (feeling) in his ass, and on
and on. Go on, read it. Enjoy. Attitude is everything. Well, maybe up
there and equal with having a cohesive crew of friends who stand by you.
He has a bunch of good buds.
Take a break after reading the cohesion article.... Enjoy his site.
Go Krs! Here's to you and your pals.
||Here's something worth sharing:
Accident/incident Summary: Fatalities
and Entrapments 2001
from the NWCG Safety and Health Working Team, sent in by TC.
Ab put it in html for easy viewing. Just click and look it over.
||We updated the Jobs
Page, Series 0462
and 0455. Among the
job page listings, there's an outreach for permanent fire jobs on the
Salmon Challis National Forest in Idaho. Nice part of the country.
||Wanting to Sleep Better and others involved in the thirty mile
There were investigators focused on human factors participating in the
thirty mile investigation. One of them, a sociologist, Jon Driessen, PhD
wrote a paper "Crew Cohesion, Wildland Fire Transition, and
Fatalities". A couple of people sent it in to us with high marks
(Valdo and backburnfs). Ab put up a link to it on 3/7.
In the paper Dr. Driessen explains what cohesion is, describing
cohesion both within crews and between crews. He also laid out how a lack
of cohesion or bonding within the entire Type II crew could explain why
the squad boss from the Naches crew didn't "come down out of the
rocks" when reportedly ordered to by the crew boss. Pretty compelling
I hope all who fight fire will have a chance to read this important
paper. Ab, could you link to it again?
Here it is again, Crew Cohesion.
(Also permanently located on our wildlandfire.com Site
Map along with the 30mi investigation reports.) It's a 294KB pdf file.
Don't let that put you off. This is an important read. Ab.
||Hello all you fire dogs out there...
I would like to add a new element for discussion.
I have been around the Forest Service my whole life and worked as a
seasonal for them and (presently) the State. One thing I have noticed on
fires (sadly) is people's attitudes towards other agencies. On the
interagency fires I have been on, it has been bad! There seems to be this
underlying issue between Federal and State agencies. Why is this?? Aren't
we all out there to do the same job?? PUT THE FIRE OUT SAFELY &
EFFICIENTLY? Must it really turn into (excuse my language) a p*ssing
Being a mid-twenties woman in fire, I have had it done to me and seen
it done to other people (no sex or agency excluded). Do I have lesser
qualifications because I work for a state agency?? I think not. We all go
through the same training programs, in fact a lot of training now is
Why must some people that have fireline and camp positions feel they
need to turn it into a competition? For example...2 years ago I was on a
large fire in the NE region of Washington, working in ordering. I was
constantly challenged and questioned by a woman who was doing
Check-in/De-mob. The woman worked for the Forest Service and I worked for
the State. She CONSTANTLY referred to me when I was doing something
"That's not how WE do it in the Forest Service" or "That
doesn't matter to US, that's a STATE thing." Trying to stress that
her way, the Forest Service way, was the best or only way to do it.
Granted, I was new at that position. I was trying to learn and pilfer
knowledge from experienced minds. Teach me both ways -- wouldn't that be
Now I realize, due to us being in government agencies, we obviously
both do things a little different due to how our programs are set up. And
granted, we are trying to mesh everything together. BUT could we stop the
snide little remarks and try to work together AS A TEAM? That was only one
small example, I have witnessed many more, as I am sure we all have.
At the end of the day it doesn't really matter what agency we work
for......but that we got the job done SAFELY and Efficiently. Possibly
saving people's lives and natural resources along the way. I would like to
hear any of your thoughts on this subject and I hope I have expressed
myself fully without pointing fingers at any one agency, we are all guilty
of it at one time or another. BUT I hope to see that change. Hopefully
this summer will be different.
CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG!!?? :)
||I have been reading the post re: safety and the effects of 30 mile. I
"see" a lot of finger pointing at top management and others. I
see the accusations of cover-up and taking the easy way out. I know a lot
of top managers and each and every one is committed to safety on and off
the fire line. I know many more ground pounders that are just as
committed. So if all the folks that are posting are committed to safety on
and off the fire line and top management is committed why are we still
having this discussion? From my perspective, "I have found the
problem and the problem is each and every one of us."
There was a post the other day about people keeping their head down and
not paying attention; that is part of the equation. Not speaking up and/or
standing your ground when you have a safety concern is part of the
problem. (Let me tell you if top management ever gets "wind" of
a safety concern not being addressed or dismissed by overhead, there will
be hell to pay by the person who did not address the concern.) Unqualified
and under-qualified overhead can be part of the problem. So we all have
some ownership. So keep your head up, watch the weather, demand good
briefings and speak up if you have a concern! And if, God forbid an
incident does happen and your concerns are not addressed, fill out a
Safe-Com, be specific, be detailed, name names and do it ASAP. If you
don't and the situation occurs again, and it could have been prevented,
the fingers could be pointed at you.
Part of the OSHA findings were that the FS did not "provide a safe
workplace as required by law." The nature of fighting fire is
hazardous, we all know that, but we still sign up for the job and keep
coming back year after year. I remember how things were done when I first
started fighting fires and the tactics and conditions have improved
dramatically. We all want a safe place to work and strive to make that
happen but Mother jumps up and slaps us when we don't pay attention.
I have seen the presentation by the FBAN that was at 30 Mile. He went
over the sequence of events minute by minute. After he was done we all
asked ourselves what would I of done any differently? The answer is
"not much." The fire behavior on that day made him rethink all
that he had come to believe for the past 25 years as fact. Looking at the
ground, the way the fire was up canyon and up slope away from the area
where the fatalities occurred, I would have picked the same spot to
"wait it out."
Some strange s**t happened that day that still has me scratching my
head. About the time we think we have "the monster" figured out,
the models built that will predict what the fire will do, Mother tosses us
a curve. If any of you have the chance to see Tom Luchens (sorry if the
spelling is not correct) please do so and if you have the answer to the
unanswered questions please share, cause I sure as hell don't.
Time to put an end to my rambling, come back tomorrow for "Stupid
things I have seen on the fireline."
||While there has been discussion about what went wrong on the 30-Mile
fire, I have been fearful that we may, as a result, get more directives
such as a new and improved 10 and 18, Look Up, Look Down, Look Around,
etc. I believe what we have is adequate, but needs to be adhered to by
everyone equally, and adamantly, whether jumper, hotshot, AD, engine,
contract crew, etc.
Also I have heard, for almost a year now about the new fire shelters (I
don't recall the specs). It has been my position personally that the fire
shelter is almost excess baggage, unneeded weight to pack around. I
realize they have saved lives, and God bless the people who've helped make
that happen. I just think if you have to use one, something else, or
possibly many things went wrong first.
The question I have about the new fire shelter is: Will people take
more chances with a piece of equipment that may afford a larger margin for
survival in a burnover situation? Obviously this is a rhetorical question,
and meant to be directed towards less experienced firefighters.
I was on the 30-Mile fire as a member of the Entiat hotshots, and I
gotta tell you even in my limited capacity on that fire, I have sleepless
nights thinking about the what ifs and so on. I was not as affected as
some, or even others in different fatality fire situations, but I don't
want to ever deal with that again. But I fear as others, that it is almost
an inevitability that others will lose their lives performing a job that
they love, with or without a better fire shelter.
Here's a photo for you. Fire whirl inside primary thermal column. August
2001, Fish Fire on the California/Nevada border near Doyle, California.
Since this photo was taken more than five miles from the fire, it
appears the whirl is more than 1,000 feet high. What do you think? This
has to be the biggest one I have ever seen.
I put it on the Fire 10
page. It is a huge one. There's another pic of a firewhirl on the Fish
Fire, apparently taken in the evening and at a great distance, on the Fire
7 page. That one is taken by Dennis R5. Are they one in the same, or
did that fire spawn many firewhirls? Ab.
||Dana and DF, thanks for speaking up on the safety discussion about
I think firefighter fatigue is an easy scapegoat for, and basically a
management white wash of the real problems, i.e. lack of leadership at all
levels on the incident.
I have been involved in (as many firefighters have) a lot of IA and
Extended Attack fire assignments where we worked as long as 43 hours
before being able to get any real rest. Sometimes you have to keep going
till you find a place to tie off your line, have a weather change, or get
the fire to leave the subdivision, before you can crash. When rest time
comes you follow the rules and get your 2-1 even if it means going down
for 24 hours.
In the mean time, while you are waiting for relief, you have to be
extra sensitive to the fact that fatigue is taking its toll on you and the
other resources around you. You have to make allowances for fatigue, get
more input on those hard decisions, post an extra lookout, plan ahead a
little earlier, and work smarter and not harder. I guess that is what you
might call "situational awareness" in this case.
My point is that firefighter fatigue, while important, is not the main
cause of fatalities, unless you fall asleep at the wheel. A lot of
incidents have happened while crews were fresh, Prineville IHC at South
Canyon and the S.J.'s at Mann Gulch come to mind.
I think that since OSHA brought the firefighter fatigue thing up in
their reports, management sees that as a big dry handle on a slimey object
and have grabbed it because there isn't any other obvious hand holds on
the real issues. It's real easy to say "we are going to monitor time
sheets and work rest ratios for firefighters". It's a lot harder to
say to someone "Your lack of leadership and the fact that that you
were committed to a failed strategy with limited resources caused your
friends to die".
I hope this doesn't seem like I am being un-caring or harsh to those
who were involved because that is the last thing I want to be perceived
as. I just am getting real tired of hearing about people dying trying to
save a brush patch or some trees that are going to grow back, or someone's
house that can be rebuilt.
I think that the folks down here on the ground are up for a long 2002
fire season and it's not going to be any easier with management and OSHA
climbing on your back cause you worked (safely and effectively) a couple
of hours over the limit.
Just another fireguy.
Please put Kens hats at top priority. All those bald guys on his crew get
pretty upset when their heads get sun burnt.
Ab sez... as he visualizes the balding heads getting burnt... Please
note below (03/16) that Ken LPHS is looking for info on Cal Head Caps that
used to be sold by the Mardock Co. which has since gone out of business.
Anyone know where those guys can get them now?
I agree on your situational awareness points. I also think we are all
willing to accept that as long as there are firefighters, some will die
job related deaths. We should not accept as inevitable however, any
preventable deaths or deaths due to negligence. (I know you did not imply
that we should.)
Waiting to sleep better,
I too have been waiting for a more complete discussion on the "30
mile fire" deaths as well as updates on the efforts that the Fire
Gods are making to prevent fatigue-related firefighter deaths in the
future. I think both the USFS report and OHSA report agreed that the major
contributing factor was fatigue and minor factors that could be mainly
attributed to fatigue. My opinion is that fatigue-related firefighter
deaths are entirely preventable and essentially due to negligence which
extends all the way up the chain of command. We should not literally work
our firefighters to death.
Another contributing factor is that firefighters are trained to get
into their fire shelters quickly. This may have the unintended consequence
of implying that we should wait until the last minute to pop our shelters.
Since we have a new generation of shelters just around the bend, this
might be a good time to change our shelter training regime to reflect a
"Don't wait till the last minute" message. I am not trying to
blame the trainers. Our "fire culture" generally tends to be a
bit too macho for our own good and popping your shelter is wrongly
attributed to fear rather than just being prepared for the worst. This may
be the reason that we tend to get lax about safety zones and lookouts as
well. Due to this "attitude", most of us own a little bit of
responsibility for our brothers and sisters deaths on the line. As an
"old guy" I am no longer trying to prove anything. I just want
to put the fire out and get everyone home safe. I was much more macho when
I was younger and realize now that it compromised my own safety and the
safety of those around me. It is a hard concept to teach those caught up
in the required "risk taking nature" of our profession.
Firefighting IS a "macho" profession but we can't afford to act
like it is. The results are too expensive.
Since all the reports are out (I think) and there have been commitments
from the upper levels to implement new safety measures based on these
reports, now might be a very good time for a discussion here. I did not
know any of the souls lost at 30 mile personally but I think we owe it to
them to ensure their sacrifice contributes to a higher safety level for
their fellow fire fighters.
Ab...is there a link to these reports and results so we can all be
"on the same page" for such a discussion?
Links to them are all on the site-map.
||Ted Putnam's article "Up in Smoke" is posted online here:
It was originally written for publication in Wildfire Magazine, and was
based on a presentation made for the R5 Division Chiefs Workshop in
Reno. Linked from the article is an expansion of the original
presentation, explaining why the 10 Standard Fire Orders cannot be
followed; it is based on a presentation made in November 2001 at the
international fire safety conference in Missoula.
||My name is Carlos Gomez and I´m a forestfire fighter. Here you are some
photographs of forestfire in Spain. Enjoy it. =
Juan Carlos Gómez Vidal.
Put em up on the AirTanker 4 and
Helo 6 Photo pages. Ab.
I have some pictures of Viveash. Are you David Old from Old Wood? You Can
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ab. thanks for the link.
You might want to try and see if there was a Geographical Information
Systems (GIS) team on the fire. If so the GIS (mapping) team might have
had access to the ariel photos of the fire. Or someone might have data
where they could give you a copy of a map focusing on your area of
interest. Another area that might have had that information are the
display processors on the fire.
The GIS team or display processors might have passed that information onto
the local managing agencies (i.e. the local forest if it was a USFS fire).
So you might want to check with the GIS people at the local agencies.
||Is this online article suggestive of things to come?
crews hired improperly, state says
As we're going to a national contracting system for crews, who's to say
we're not going to be having this kind of a problem at a whole new federal
level? What are the standards? Can they really be enforced? How
will they be enforced? Do we have the manpower to enforce training,
equipment, and crew safety standards? How can we keep crews from
managed by someone else behind the scenes as the article implies they were
in this case? From the other side, how can we keep contractor
from garnering the earnings of others, especially if they've made a deal
ahead of time to "front" a less than qualified engine or crew?
heard of these things happening. Seems to me that safety against
transgressions like these lie in local knowledge of the contractors and
crews involved. Even that doesn't help in some cases.
Contractors who know of other contractors who engage in theft, political
schmoozing, and illegal proxy arrangements are often afraid of blowing the
whistle on them for fear of simply being considered sour grapes and being
Maybe we need a safecom kind of a system to which contractor violation
reports can be sent with anonymity. Just feels like the sh*t is gonna hit
fan this season. Anybody in washington maintaining Situational
on this one?
All I know is that if bad crews exist and fire season gets bad, they will
used. What's the saying, "We don't need bad crews until we need 'em
Feeling gagged and frustrated in R6
||From Firescribe, links to some Viveash photos:
And a current article on fire in the Southwest, including NM:
Thanks Firescribe. It's really interesting to go look. NM is already
burning, those in FireChat tell us. Further communication with David
indicates that, in part, he's looking for aerial photos, so as to be able
to illustrate the burn near his ranch house. They're deep into rehab. Ab.
I own the Viveash Ranch and would very interested in purchasing any photos
you might be able to come up with of the Viveash Fire, in particular any
aerial photos of the fire near my ranch house at the western edge of the
Let me know, would you please!
Readers, anyone have photos from the Viveash Fire in NM, June 2000? All
we have on-site here are the New Mexico 1 and 2 Viveash plume photos on Fire
||Good site. I am hoping to get some info on something. It is much less
important than some of the issues you folks are discussing. I am looking
for info on Cal Head Caps. Our crew has been wearing the same hat for many
years and the Mardock Co. who we would get our crew hats through went out
business. I've tried the www and 800 phone numbers, no luck. If anyone has
some info on Cal Head Caps it would be helpful.
Ken, welcome. No question here is less important than any other.
Glad you wrote in. Ab.
||From Firescribe, Missoulan.com article on update on money for fire:
House Releases Wildfire Money
||RxFire, et al
There has been lightning for a very long time, fire is even older than
plants on this planet, if you count molten rock. But lightning was
already here and has been here for a lot longer than any humans
anywhere. I think that was the point.
Even if they would have had kitchen matches, stone age humans couldn't
keep up with Mama and the lightning.
||Mellie; I am the one who is out of focus.
Sleepless; I think that we're not talking about 30 Mile because no one
really has the answer, or maybe we don't know what the question is.
You want to discuss Human Factors? Try these.
Human Factor # 1, If you put your head down and loose your Situation
Awareness, bad things WILL happen and people WILL die.
Human Factor #2, If you notice that people are putting their heads down
loosing their Situation Awareness, and don't do something to correct the
situation, you will be just as responsible for the bad things that happen
as the one's who put their heads down in the first place.
Human Factor #3, No one wants to admit that no matter how many Fatality
Reviews, OSHA Citations, Accident Abatement Plans, Fire Director
Recommendations are written, somebody, somewhere is going to put their
down, loose their Situation Awareness and die.
Sometimes the dragon wins.
||Hey DF, on that hotshot crew pic, which one are you???
I don't know if others are wondering about this. I'm having some sleepless
nights. What happened to the potential for discussion of the Thirty Mile
Burnover? Seems like we were all waiting for the report before speaking
out... Then nothing.
Why did no one explore the human factors aspect of the incident? Was no
assigned? Were they assigned and then that part was considered not
or too controversial? Is there nothing to learn by looking at human
Is there anywhere we common folk can look at the transcripts of interviews
with the crew for the dialog they remember? Leadership might think we're
doing all that can be done. Are we? Does human factors boil down to lack
sleep, two strong squaddies, a weak crew boss, a group who hadn't worked
together before, an engine that wasn't dispatched but through a set of
circumstances led the crew in? Does the culture of not using a fireshelter
until the last-possible-sometimes-too-late-minute play into it? Are we so
afraid of being accused of blaming the victims that we're not able to
address human factors? It's hard to know what is the truth without an
investigation of the human part of the incident, even if the final answer
some aspects is: we don't know. Did OSHA look at human factors?
Just sign me
Wanting to Sleep Better
Six months by my calendar.
That's near the top of the list for laughs this week!!!!
We have EWs in MN that were also only paid an hourly wage until we lobbied
our legislature and put pressure on our DNR to implement OT after 40 hrs.
Better pay, benefits, and working conditions are usually available
elsewhere and, like water seeking its own level, labor always seeks the
best deal available. This is especially true in our profession. Economic
laws are just as relentless and unignorable as the laws of physics and, if
you break them the main consequence, is that nothing seems to work the way
you planned. For example, the MN DNR ignored the economic law that
Minnesota's qualified firefighters would seek the best pay for their
service. Since previously there had always been an unending supply of
recruits available to replace the experienced firefighters leaving, they
felt that there was no need to do otherwise. That changed nearly a decade
ago but they failed to recognize it. They tried to "patch" their
plan by not providing the training that would qualify MN firefighters to
leave MN for jobs with other fire employers. This did not work.
Firefighters responded by funding their own training programs since
becoming eligible to work for other better paying employers quickly paid
back their investment. Other progressively more desperate and expensive
patches were implemented by the DNR and failed one after the other.
MN is now totally dependent on an incredibly expensive fleet of
aircraft and mutual aid agreements with other states. I can see the day
coming soon when that patch will also fail. I do not look forward to that
day. The MN DNR continued to be blind to the fact that their plan ignored
the basic laws of economics and as a result no patch seems to work for
long. I fear the end result will be disastrous in every sense of the word.
Both the MWFA and the FWFSA represent wildland firefighters' interests.
The economics of making a living as a firefighter obviously has a high
priority with both organizations. Our experience in MN is that in order to
accomplish the goals set by our members we must represent the best
interests of all MN fire fighters. Several years ago we implemented a
service to help our members find fire jobs with better pay, benefits, and
working conditions. We were immediately swamped with non-members wishing
to use that service. Since our aim was to pressure the MN DNR into
competing economically we decided to provide all MN firefighters with this
service at no charge. We understood that economically all firefighters
fates are linked and to ignore this law on a technicality would doom our
effort. Our strategy, which hinged on denying the MN DNR "cheap"
labor, would fail if we had limited the job finding service to MWFA
Similarly, my post raising the possibility that better paid FWFSA
firefighters might be replaced to an unexpected degree by
"cheap" labor (ADs) was not a request that the FWFSA represent
those ADs. Rather it was a suggestion that to not tie AD pay rates to
FWFSA member rates might have unintended consequences.
So...unfortunately... SoCalCapt if you are a FWFSA member and are
expecting to take home more pay due to the FWFSA efforts you may indeed
"feel the pain" of the underpaid, unrepresented and HUGE pool of
AD labor. If it becomes more economically advantageous for management to
work ADs harder while you wait for a call or head back home early, your
annual income might not increase despite the best efforts of the FWFSA.
I know you are probably in Wash.DC focusing on this effort along with
others who are willing to put forth the extra effort to make our
profession safer and more economically viable. I recall vividly how we had
to focus totally on our task when we lobbied the MN legislature for the
first few times for the very same reasons. It was a mixture of dread and
anticipation of impending opportunity, like watching a crown fire come
over a ridge. I hope you will be willing to continue this discussion after
you have returned and decompressed.
I know I join thousands of wildfire fighters across our nation when I
say, Good luck in your current efforts, we are behind you 100%, and thank
you for devoting yourselves to your fellow firefighters on a level which
(as I know from personal experience) consumes all you have to give. We ALL
owe you folks a huge debt of gratitude. Even those of us that are not
members of the FWFSA owe you more than you realize and I for one am
willing to help any way I can.
PS HOLY COW!
Wow..I am impressed.
God not only takes the time to post...she "loves" the site.
I am still chuckling.....
Six months by my calendar.
PS: Ab, love the website.
Haw, haw. Ab.
If I may answer your 2nd question with a question of my own to you... How
long has there been lightning?
||There is no doubt that humans have impacted North America more than we
can ever know. The disappearance of mega-fauna, etc. The use of fire to
affect vegetation certainly occurred. But I have two questions for those
who believe that it was a significant effect;
1. How long have natives been on the North American continent? (I believe
we are all immigrants, just a matter of time) and
2. How long did it take for the western forests to become fire dependent
Go ahead do the math, I got time.
||I would just like to say good luck to the members of the FWFSA who are
to Washington this weekend. I hope our letter writing helped out.
||Here is a photo of Idaho City, Union and Arrowhead IHC's at the
Oregon Wildland Firefighter Memorial taken by Britt Rosso Arrowhead Supt.
after the Bald Peter fire Warmsprings BIA, Oregon, 2001.
Ab put it on the Handcrew 4 page.
Well, everything is back up and running as before at wildlandfire.com,
including chat. Our ISP created some problems as many of you observed, but
we have put all a'right again. Cumm'on down to chat tonight.
There's still time to e-mail your legislators asking them to visit with
FWFSA reps. Look at Abercrombie's
original post. Make a difference! There are going to be over 300
firefighters on Capitol Hill, including our wildland fire reps. I'd like
to see that! For more info on FWFSA, the link is the logo at the top of
theysaid. Join up.
Good luck also to the firefighters advocating for aerial firefighter
||Ab--got this from the personnel office today.
Here is a quick update on the status of the fire backpay issue:
NFC was unable to finish up on this project until they had finished the
W-2 reissue project.
Beginning March 18 2002, unless there are continuing W-2 problems that
may delay this project another pay period, NFC will finish processing
the backpay payments (pay periods 16 through 26, plus interest) to be
sent directly to the employee's current check mailing address. These
payments will not be combined with the current salary checks but will be
a separate deposit/check.
Looks like there may be a new transaction code to use for the new
overtime provisions. NFC hopes to implement the new TC code in PP8
however, the programmers assigned to this project had been reassigned
temporarily to the W-2 project so the PP8 implementation date could be
That's about it for now. Will keep you posted as info. comes in.
||Sent in by DF, here's a terrific annotated bibliography. Click HERE.
We're putting a link to it on the site-map
with other documents of interest and importance.
REFERENCES ON THE AMERICAN INDIAN
USE OF FIRE IN ECOSYSTEMS
Gerald W. Williams, Ph.D., Historical Analyst
USDA Forest Service
(With contributions by William Reed, Boise NF, Sandra Morris, Region 1,
and Henry T. Lewis)
My name is Chris Heming, I am a Field Officer (7years) with the N.S.W.
National Parks & Wildlife Service in Australia. We are the leqd fire
suppreasion agency for fires on National Parks. In my area most of our
fires are lightning strikes in remote areas of the Wollemi N.P. we use
helicopters to winch us into the fire ground. Most of the fires are not
near any water so we do what we call dry fire fighting. We cut lines
around the fires and burn of them back into the main fire (strait
forword), although some times the weather and amount of strikes is against
us and we have a huge season like we have had. Did you see much about the
N.S.W. fires in the States on T.V? Anyway I have a swag of N.S.W. National
Parks & Wildlife Service patches/stickers and I would love to swap
them for some American one's ( fire related ) How do I go about this???
Could you please help with my collection Email me at
Just dropping in a quick note on some employment information I got
recently... I hear the Vandenberg Air Force Base is hiring for it's
hotshot crew right now... the jobs are in the GS-0081-03/04, in the
firefighter series, which is a higher pay scale than 0462 - even in
Southern California. The announcement CLOSES on MARCH 14th so if you're
interested I guess it is late notice but you might just make it... it's a
bit different process for applying and it's got KSAs. I understand this to
be a wildland fire crew that does miscellaneous project work on the AFB
etc. with only a month or so of furlough per year. It is definitely a Type
I crew, but currently does not do much nationwide traveling due to the
needs of the base, I think, although they appear to work around southern
This job is not posted on the USAJobs page, but on a military page at www.afpc.randolph.af.mil
-- look under civilian and then job announcements or something like that.
Sorry for the late notice... but good luck if you're interested!
Stay safe out there...
||Dana, the problem you addressed is not related to the FWFSA's issues but
we definitely feel your pain. Legislative change is often slow and
The California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection has a program that
is similar to the Federal A.D. program. Their program is called E.W.
A few (or more) years ago, the E.W. workers were only paid an hourly
wage. They are now paid time and a half after 40 hours. Maybe you should
address your questions and comments towards some of the CDF folks on
"They Said" and they might be able to tell you why it changed or
point you in the right direction for answers.
Was wondering if you could help me find Adam M. Jones, crew leader for
Wildland Firefighters in Oregon.
Can you tell me the best way to get a message to him?
Adam, write in if you like and we'll put you in touch. Ab.
The AD issue is a good one, but technically Ad's are not Federal
employees, they are contractors, hired for a specific emergency.The FWFSA
is only set up right now to represent Federal Employees.
Here's some info out of Washington:
White House clash over wildfire funds
You have a good point which no one seems to be addressing.
While I don't believe that contractors will be used more extensively
because they are cheaper, ADs are another thing. For a long time we have
all seen ADs used as a cheap labor pool mainly because they have no
representation. Their pay lags far behind that of their fellow
firefighters and if the FWFSA fails to address this issue they may be
creating a problem down the road for the firefighters they do represent.
The only way I can see ADs' not being used much more extensively to
replace full time federal firefighters if P2P is implemented is if AD pay
rates are brought to a level commensurate with full time federal
firefighters. I know that the FWFSA may feel that this is beyond the scope
of their mandate since they do not represent ADs but they should consider
this as an issue that will affect the folks they do represent and include
this issue in their current lobbying if they don't want it to lessen the
positive impact on their membership and be forced to go back to the
legislature later to recoup their losses.
The simplest way to do this might be to ask for a clarification from
the legislature on their intention when they last attempted to limit how
ADs employers were exempted from the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
Although they apparently attempted to protect ADs from being worked to
death without even basic benefits as a budget stretching measure by the
BLM,USFS,and BIA nearly a decade ago those agencies simply
(mis)interpreted the legislatures modifications to the FFLSA to mean that
they could continue on as they always had. I have heard federal attorneys
successfully argue that if there is any possible interpretation that
allows them to do so the court must not intervene absent a clarification
from the legislature itself. The fact that they had no other possible
reason to change the affected sections of the FFLSA except to provide for
some circumstances under which the BLM,USFS,and BIA must pay time and a
half OT to ADs was not enough...the wording had to have no other possible
meaning. You know lawyers...they can take the word UP and find 5 meanings
for it...one of which is DOWN.
We have been lobbying our state legislature for over 5 years now and
believe me it is far easier to get a clarification from the legislature
than a new statute. Legislators tend to be a bit pissed when they realize
that they directed an agency to change the way they act by passing
legislation and the agency simply chooses to interpret the legislation in
a way so they do not have to. Sometimes even a threat of clarification
from a few members can get agency action.
I know that FWFSA reps. monitor They Said It.
What is the FWFSA's position on AD pay/benefits?
We're working on our technical difficulties. Hope to have those
remedied completely in a few days. In the meantime, we just put the upper
border of navigation buttons on theysaid and got a basic photo table on
the site map and photo pages. Now those creating training powerpoints can
use them. You can access the site map from the bottom of the main and
theysaid pages. With a little work at navigation, I think you can use your
back button and get around alright. Another back button hint, if you
position your cursor over the back button, and right click, you can go
back more than just one page at a time.
Just checked and the chat doesn't work right now... Sure have felt chat
deprived the last few days... Won't be long before we have it back online.
Keep those letters going out to congress (people's local offices or
send them an e-mail). Then send in an email to email@example.com
and give us the info stated in Abercrombie's
original post. We'll get em to those going to Washington. The stack is
growing here. Thanks to the non-Fed supporters. Every supporter helps.
||Ab, I've heard of people doing this before, but my first time. On sunday
we had people over for barbeque and had materials so they could write to
congress. We cut and pasted and printed out letters. We talked about
issues and what is happening. It was a neat to have a focus on the FWFSA
Portal to Portal will entitle Federal Wildland Firefighters to be in
pay status from the time they leave their duty station until they return.
The proposal that the FWFSA President and V.P. will carry to Capital Hill
on March 18th will ask that overtime be paid at time and a half and that
all differentials will remain in place. It is not something new, the USFS,
Park Service and BLM have been paying their State and Local cooperators
PTP for years. Why not pay their own employees the same?
||The show on CBS was very well done. It brought back a lot of memories
and let the world know what our brothers went through. I was at ground
zero from 13:00 9/11 until 9/21 with an Urban Search and Rescue Task Force
and this was my first time to see it from the start.
I'll try to help a little. The shifts we work are 8 hour days five days
a week, unless your forest gets into severity or heavy work load. Then
they could work you as much as 16 hour days, 14 days in a row (still miss
the 21's). These are the same regs. if working an off forest assignment.
As for equipment, you will need to buy a good pair of boots. You get what
you pay for! Also, most crews will ask you to buy some crew t-shirts.
Usually $50, but they don't mind you waiting untill payday if your
strapped for cash. Which brings up another point. Count on not being paid
for as much as a 3-5 weeks after you start. As for your current certs. I
would call your perspective captains and ask them, also dosen't hurt to
get your name fresh in their minds again. Hope this helps.
||CAFSman and all,
You are right in your earlier post regarding being able to take do
extrication without JAWS. Sometimes we get caught up with the nice tools
we sometimes have access to and forget we can do a lot with our basic
I have been in structural fire and rescue for 20 years and have had
numerous training sessions on auto extrication. I have also opened up many
vehicles during actual rescues and training. I am very concerned with your
suggestion that the battery cables not be cut and especially with the
suggestion to energize the cars' electrical system with jumper cables.
Energizing these systems is inviting a disaster. Not only are you
creating the potential for a spark to ignite the vehicle, battery gases or
fuel, but there is a real possibility that the air bags can deploy.
Patients have been killed and rescuers injured when bags have deployed
during rescues. After an accident, there is no way we can tell what wires
have shorted or other problems created in the electrical/air bag systems.
Cutting the battery cables does not guarantee the airbag will not
deploy but it reduces the chances. Capacitors, feedback from other
equipment and static electricity can activate the bags. Even a bag that
has already deployed could be a multi-stage bag and could have another
charged unit that could cause it to reactivate. Some bags are mechanically
activated and need no electricity to set them off.
With the newer cars like BMW coming out with up to twelve airbags,
there is no safe place to cut without proper training and a good reference
book to locate the airbag systems. We all want to help at accident scenes,
but we need to consider all the consequences and keep ourselves and the
||This is a question regarding portal to portal. Since I'm on a type 2
state crew from the east, are we eligible for p2p? or do we get the AD
rates? On a different note, what did everyone think of the 9/11 show last
night on CBS?
||-Pete and MOC4546
Thank you for your response, it seems like with one question answered
it just brings up another.
-Pete, you mentioned The place where portal to portal comes in is when
you are in fire camp and in what is now non-pay status. I know this is a
minor detail, but does that include travel? Lets say a crew from
Washington is traveling to Arizona, which will take over a day, will they
get 24 hr pay from when they leave their station or only in camp after
they have checked in?
How about folks who work in different departments such as recreation or
timber who are called out to fight fires? Do camp personal in areas such
as time, supply, etc fall under the Portal to Portal provisions?
How soon do realistically see this passing and being implemented????
Does FWFSA have a document for viewing that spells out what exactly is
Thanks again for the time and space,
||Ab: Found this and thought I would pass this on to you to see if it is
something you could use.
Donate Old, Unused Gear Does your Fire Department or EMS Organization
have old gear that is going unused...sitting in an attic or
basement...creating a storage problem? Well, there are many Fire
Departments out there who could use it. An organization called
"Helping Our Own" has been established to act as the
"go-between" to get this gear into the hands of needy
departments all around the Untied States. For more information on the work
of this group, go to their website at http://www.helpingourown.com/. In
addition, the group is currently looking for a truck to carry the gear
from one organization to another. If you have a box type vehicle or know
of one which may be donated, please contact the group through their
website, or ESIP's Loss Control Department at 1-800-822-3747 Ext. 127.
Helping Our Own...What a great concept!
The majority of your information on Portal to Portal is correct
EXCEPT for the part about the differentials (#6). You WILL continue to get
Hazard Pay, Sunday and Night differential (you only get night when on
straight time.) Fires on your on District or less than 24 hrs, would be
handled the same as they are now. The place where portal to portal comes
in is when you are in fire camp and in what is now non-pay status. The
FWFSA will not sponsor or be a part of any bill that would let the
wildland firefighter get paid less than they are now. If you have any
other questions e-mail the FWFSA at firstname.lastname@example.org
||Something else to consider on PTP:
How much money are you going to make sitting at home after being replaced
a contractor or AD after the second shift? They are only paid for actual
hours worked and will be a lot cheaper than agency crews.
I have followed and been a proponent for Portal-to-Portal pay ever since
working for CDF back in 1987. I've heard a lot about different versions of
the PTP issue and this is the way I have understood it will be applied if
the political appointees and the Politicians ever sign off on it.
1. -Pete mentioned they are going for full time and a half. So is
that with our current pay scale of base and overtime rates or is there
potential of them dropping our base rates?
The Pay Rates will not be reduced for base or overtime. All the special
area rates and cost of living will continue.
2. Does overtime start after eight hours of after the first forty
hours put in?
If you start your day at 0930hrs and end it at 1800hrs, anything after
that is overtime. If you're on a campaign fire, you are on the clock from
the time you left to the time you return to the home unit. When at home
the start time begins when you start your day, be it 0600hrs or 0930hrs.
3. After your first shift on a fire, is it safe to assume that your
first eight hours starts at 0001 to 0800 and the rest of the day until
midnight is at time and a half?
That is one way it could be recorded on the time sheet. That has yet to be
determined, the PTP has to be approved first.
4. What would keep fire teams from working firefighters more hours
than needed? Or will the same rest to work ratios be followed?
There are rules right now that set down the work-to-rest ratios of a fire
crew. Unfortunately, we all know that the fire dictates the length of time
a crew works on the initial and extended attacks. As more resources arrive
and camps and teams get set up, crews will be rotated. If an Ops Chief
suddenly decides "Hey, these crews are now on the clock 24 hours, I'm
gonna work them death!!" he'll find himself dismissed from the fire.
The way things are being done now as far as record keeping, paperwork, and
processing time is excessive and PTP will reduce that workload.
5. What about firefighters who fight fires on their "home"
districts or forest? Do they still get paid 24 hours a day if staying at
IF they are on a large fire on their own forest/district and are on the
fire as a resource directly committed to that fire, then they get the PTP.
If they are on a smaller fire that goes to 0200hrs and the crew returns to
the home station after the fire has been contained the clock will stop. If
the crew leaves early to go check on the fire, then either the OT kicks in
there or the start time falls back a little.
6. Does Portal to Portal eliminate other differentials such as
Sunday differential, night differential, and hazard pay?
The answer is: YES. One of the trade offs for PTP is the elimination of
Hazard Pay and Night Differential. Sunday Differential is up in the air
because it is different from the other two. What you trade is the 16 hours
of OT with your 8 hours of straight pay in exchange for 8 hours of
straight, plus say, 6 hours OT, plus 14 hours Hazard. In the long run the
firefighter on PTP makes more money, it's easier to keep track of and
harder for Payroll to refuse or fight over the specifics of your time
sheet if they start questioning if you qualified for Hazard, or Night-Dif,
or even OT. Calculate what your hours were for the last big campaign fire
you went to based on PTP and what you received from that fire. You will
come out ahead under PTP and it makes time recording much easier and far
more error-free. [Ab sez, See Pete's correction on this one above.]
Another way to look at it is calculate how much money you lost during
"sleep hours" that were recorded as off-duty, or when you
returned to base camp for 10 to 12 hours on off-duty status before the
workday started again.
Some people are going to argue for continuing for the old system of pay
because they feel they may get shorted. I argue that the Shot Crew that
gets spiked out for 7 days on a fire would rather be paid for every hour
they are on the line than have a supervisor cut hours here and there for
sleep time on the hard ground. Portal to Portal has worked for CDF
firefighters for many years because there is no arguing with the pay.
This is just how I have seen the issue going, and the problem lies with
the Differential Pay Issues that some keep trying to throw into the mix.
||Great job on the letters going to congress people!!! We're getting
e-mails here. I'm still waiting for the special e-mail address to be
activated and will post it as soon as I hear. Some of you really have this
system down of contacting relatives and friends. I am doing the same.
I am changing Abercrombie's
original post to request people send letters to their
representative local addresses in states at home. The reason for this is
that Fedfire sent in a note saying that mail to Capitol Hill might be
delayed. This is due to the extra screening they have and the volume of
mail that arrives in DC. In checking around, I see he is correct. We'll
have much faster and better success if we use the local addresses. These
local addys are available on the websites for each of the congress people.
||OK, I have heard a lot about Portal to Portal but have some questions
before I jumped whole heartily on the band wagon. There seems to be a lot
of talk here on "they said" but I don't hear much from the
managers above me. I have not found much reading in detail about what
exactly is being proposed to congress. Unless of course I have not been
looking in the right places.
1. -Pete mentioned they are going for full time and a half. So is that
with our current pay scale of base and overtime rates or is there
potential of them dropping our base rates?
2. Does overtime start after eight hours of after the first forty hours
3. After your first shift on a fire, is it safe to assume that your first
eight hours starts at 0001 to 0800 and the rest of the day until midnight
is at time and a half?
4. What would keep fire teams from working firefighters more hours than
needed? Or will the same rest to work ratios be followed?
5. What about firefighters who fight fires on their "home"
districts or forest? Do they still get paid 24 hours a day if staying at
6. Does Portal to Portal eliminate other differentials such as Sunday
differential, night differential, and hazard pay?
If these questions have been answered before, I apologize for the
I was generally cleaning out my computer and found this photo,
simply called hotshots.jpg. I
think this dates from the days when we didn't post any faces of people.
Anyone know who this crew is, who sent in the photo and shall we put it
up? If the sender still reads theysaid, perhaps we will get some answers.
Otherwise, into the trash. I'm spring cleaning.
Exactly why I sent these pictures in. This is a wake up call, folks. This
burn stayed within its lines, thanks to solid burnboss/firing
We got about a 1/2 inch or less of rain here last week after this burn.
Unless we get deluged here soon, things are setting up for a hot season.
My name is Anthony Liberatore and I'm from Nova Scotia, and I'm really
interested in pursuing Wild Fire Fighting as a summer job. The problem is,
being Canadian it kind of hinders my chance of going anywhere in the US. I
was wondering if you could send me some links to places in Canada, I would
be greatly appreciative.
I told him the regular stuff like check our links page (world) and
the Canadian ff job post on the jobs page. Any Canadian firefighters
lurking out there who could point him in the right direction for summer ff
in Canada? Ab.
||hay riley ,
i worked in WY, on the interagency BTNF- GTNP (Bridger Teton NF-Grand
Teton NP.). the housing was alright for the jackson hole area if you
rented in town. if went to some of the other districts on the forest, they
were out there in the middle of nowhere, but they were nice (pinedale,
kemmer, grays river, big piney and afton). they have pretty good housing.
if you get on the jackson interagency with the park, jackson is really
expensive to live there. the forest service housing there is known as the
shanty town. i think that speaks for its self -old trailers -- but its a
roof over your head for the summer. the housing in the park isnt to bad.
little nicer, also trailers. i guess if they gave me a choice, i would go
to the park! last year the forest service subsidized a few one bedroom
studios for some of their new permanents in jackson. if you're lucky and
they put you up north in the park, its really nice up there. lots of
wildlife and quiet!!!!
||We updated the Jobs
Page, Series 0462
On another note, if you have sent in a fire book REVIEW and don't see it
on the review page, could you please resend it? Thanks to "Z"
for your review of Lookouts of the Pacific Northwest and to RAW for the
review of Fire on the Mountain.
Is the fire behavior on your Sage/Aliso
RX, a bit extreme for this time of year?
PS. Ab, would you add on to my post that I sent in my 3 letters this
morning. I hope everyone does. You should have a separate e-mail from me
with who my reps are, etc. Thanks for providing this service.
||I may have missed this one, but did not see it on your site.
www.nationalfiretraining.net This is the National Wildland Fire Training
web pages, if you go to this site you can find out all the 100, 200, 300,
400, 500 and 600 level training that is being presented every year. It has
much more on this web page also.
Just fir info.
Hi Beams, welcome to theysaid. We do have a link to that one. It's
the first entry on the Links
Page training/education. It is a good site. Ab.
I was wondering if you could help me with a few questions. It seems that I
have a good chance of starting april 15th with the forest service as an
engine crewman. Where, I don't know yet. I have no clue as to how things
are run, and was wondering if you could help me?
1. How are shifts run and how are the days off rotations run?
2. What kind of equipment would I have to purchase? Are uniforms provided?
3. Will I have to go through a certification course or will my state of
wisconsin certs carry over?
4. Is Gov housing decent? or is it better to find a place when I get out
there? So far all I know is that it could be Northern CA or WY or a few
I hope you can help me or could direct me to someone who could. Thank-you
for your time.
||Greetings Everyone. Abercrombie here. We need your help.
Our representatives from FWFSA are traveling to Washington DC on March
18, 19, and 20 to meet on our behalfs with as many key members of both
Houses of Congress as possible. Arranging multiple meetings may seem like
it should be simple, but it is not. Individuals can't just go to
Washington and "make the rounds". Instead they must follow the
rules and make appointments to meet with members of Congress. The stickler
is this: Congress people will meet only 1) with their own constituents and
2) with people that their own Congressional constituents ask them to meet
with. Thus, they will meet with our FWFSA messengers, but only if we
ask them to.
Here's an example. Say I'm from Shasta County. That's my home district.
I can go to Washington to see my congressional representative for Shasta
County. I will be granted an audience. It is my congress person's
obligation as my representative to hear my views. Alternatively, I can
write a letter to my congress person asking him or her to meet with
someone I am sending to talk with them about my views on important issues.
That person who goes to Washington then goes as my representative and will
also be granted an audience.
It comes down to this. The FWFSA people who are going to Congress are
willing to go to represent us on important wildland firefighter issues. We
need to give them the entre to meet with as many of our congress people as
possible. If at all possible, each of us needs to send letters to all 3
of our congress people (2 Senators and a Congressperson from the House of
Representatives), requesting that each of those people meet with our FWFSA
spokespeople. Unless the Congress people have our requests, our FWFSA
emissaries are limited to speaking only with their own congressional
So far, the FWFSA's own Congressmen and women have agreed to meetings
with them. Congressman Pombo plans to introduce legislation on our behalf.
However, we need co-sponsors and many representatives willing to vote for
WE NEED YOU. We need wildland firefighters, members of our
community (whether federal or not), and family and friends of wildland
firefighters. We need you to send requests to your local Representatives
and Senators designating our FWFSA emissaries to represent you in meetings
on Capitol Hill and urging those on Capitol Hill to give our FWFSA
emissaries a meeting time during those days.
It would be helpful if all of us, including extended family and friends
throughout the country, contact our Senators and Congress people.
At the same time, we need to have a record of what congress people have
been contacted so meetings can be planned with those people. This project
must be broadly grass roots and carried forward by all of us across the
nation for it to have the largest impact. If we all work together, we will
have great success.
Nuts and bolts, here is what I propose. Sit down right now with a piece
of paper and write a brief letter to your 3 congress people. Then, as soon
as you're done, send us an e-mail. I'll tell you what we'd like to know
and why in a minute. Keep your letters simple, short and put them in the
mail this evening, this weekend or as soon as possible. Do this as a
family activity if you wish. Your letters need to include something along
the lines of the following, which you can cut and paste:
Dear Senator or The Honorable CongressPerson So-and-So,
My representatives from the FWFSA (Federal Wildland Fire Service
Association) will be visiting Washington DC on the March 18, 19, and 20
to meet with members of Congress regarding issues that impact me as a
wildland firefighter (or as a family member/friend of a wildland
firefighter or as a citizen of the US who is concerned about
recruitment, retention and the safety of wildland firefighters).
I would like for you, please, to fit them into your busy schedule and
allow them to share with you my concerns and perspectives. I support and
want them to discuss with you your participation in legislation that
brings about portal-to-portal pay and legislation that includes hazard
pay in calculations for retirement. I also support the firefighters'
Presumptive Disabilities Act.
Thank you for taking the time to meet with my FWFSA representative. I
hope you will support this legislation.
To find your congress people and their local (non-Washington DC) snail
mail addresses, go to http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/.
Jot down all 3 names and addresses: one rep for the House of
Representatives two for the Senate. (We added this url to the links page
for future reference.) The sooner you mail your letters, the better, so
our FWFSA folks can arrange meetings. We are requesting that you send
letters to the congress person's local, in-state address because mail
going to Washington is slowed (due to extra screening following 9/11).
OK, to be able to arrange meetings on Capitol Hill, our FWFSA reps need
to know which Congressional people you contacted. So, we propose that
after you have sent your 3 letters, you e-mail us and let us know who
you are, which Congress people you wrote to, and whether you are fed
firefighter, other firefighter, family member, friend or simply concerned
citizen. We'd like your permission to use your name if we need
to when we contact congress people to set up meetings. What would be most
powerful is for the FWFSA reps to have your permission to carry a sheaf of
your e-mail support with them when they call on congressional members.
Send your e-mail to email@example.com.
Here are a few Skid Unit builders for you. They are all CAFS builders
also. Odin and Pneumax are two of the best CAFS builders. Mallory is small
but been in CAFS for many years also.
The reason I would get a CAFS unit, is that you should do a lot of
fighting before you run out of water. With a 200 gallon tank and a 85-100
CFM air compressor, you can have maybe two 1.5" lines to fight any
type of fire including structure, vehicle, or wildland. If you add a
bumper gun or deck gun on joy sticks, one person can really go at it. Also
someone asked about vehicle extraction. You have everything you need to
take apart a car. Most of you carry Handi-man jacks, come-alongs, winches,
hammers, hatchets, axes. You can take a roof off of a car with two people
with a 10lb hammer and a flathead axe in about 1-2 minutes. I have seen it
done by some firefighters from Nederland. Just use what you have at the
time. There is a lot of ways to get victims out of a wreck and you do not
need a high priced set of JAWS. It may not be the way the structure boys
do it, but you have plenty of tools on your trucks to do the jobs or you
can buy things at the hardware store. Cut up the seat belts for straps,
Socket and wrenches to take the doors or seats. Axes to take the
windshield. Just be careful, there are alot of things that can hurt you on
these cars now, such as bumpers, drive shafts, batteries, air bags. Do not
cut the battery cables, you may need that power for windows, seats. Carry
a set of battery cables on your truck, you may need them if the wreck has
a broken battery. Speaking of batteries, make sure that stuff you are
walking in is not battery acid. It is rough to walk when your shoes don't
have any bottoms. Protect your self. "PREVENT HARM, SURVIVE, BE
Thats what the FWFSA is proposing to Congress. We are going for full
time and a half. If you want to sign up go the FWFSA logo at the top of
the page. We need everyones support.
There are many new photos on Air
Tanker 4, Logo 5, Helicopters
6, Equipment4, Crew
4 and Fire 10 Photo pages.
Look at the photo descriptions. Here are some of the messages that came
Here is a picture of new Fort Hunter Liggett F.D. Logo
Monterey County CA.
Hey Ab just wanted to send in some pics from the North Fork fire near Bass
Lake this last summer. This first one was taken on Day 2 at about 1400 hrs
when things were starting to pick up. The second shot was taken near the
end of the fire during one of the burn shows. This was a sight to watch
while eating dinner after coming off shift.
heres a few helicopters. Rotormouse
During our annual exercise we pushed water a half a mile and up over 350
vertical feet from the porta-tanks near the engines in the center of the
photo. Pumps capable of this were B-211, WX-10, TSA-8.
J Foster, Highlands 26
Found these I took in Yellowstone. Two tankers were at staged at West
Yellowstone and Helo was assigned to Park Helitack while I was there.
ARDCO may look familiar I think they came out of Northern California...
Hickman, any more info on 660? Thx. Ab.
I am a long-time visitor to your excellent website and love "they
said," and all the great links. I have lots of fire photos from 11
years of wildland firefighting and thought I'd send some that you may be
able to post. thanks for all the good work.
Attached are photos of the 1953 Los Padres Hot Shots....
Great Killer, Thanks. Readers anyone know who these people are? I
put them at the top of the handcrew4 page so that the old wise ones could
easily find them. Ab.
Some pictures from the Sage/Aliso RX burn from the Los Padres NF. This was
last monday. Sting
Many thanks to all! If the BLM people who identified the AT
photos that were sent in earlier from Germany could look at the new ones
that have come in, we'd appreciate it. Thanks Micha Popp for sending them.
And if you go to the Equip 4 page, check out the dozer up to its exhaust
pipe in mud. Icks, is that your dozer? Just wonderin'. Ab.
||Some time ago someone asked about Skid Pumps and what the Forest Service
is using. Were there any replies or recommendations? I don't think I saw
any and I could use that info too.
I don't think anyone did reply to that. Ab.
||Here's the info for announcing the Refresher Website.
Refresher Website 2002.
I thought I might pass-on to the "They Said" group (some may
have knowledge of it already) a very important article, Crew Cohesion,
Wildland Fire Transition, and Fatalities by Jon Driessen Ph.D.
Sociologist. It's my (humble) opinion that the thoughts/findings
concerning "crew cohesion" expressed by Dr. Driession are some
of the most significant discussion points relative to wildland firefighter
safety that have been published in many years. I hope you are able to link
the attached document without to much trouble.
On a different note, I want to thank the dedicated contributors to
"They Said"? and let them know, their diverse opinions and
insight about/into the many issues of fire/aviation/safety management,
have assisted me (and my peers) many times during the last few years in
developing solutions to important concerns that our region/forest
leadership has had relative to the forest wildland fire/aviation program.
Fire, Aviation, and Safety Program Manager, Huron-Manistee National
Thanks Valdo and thanks to backburnfs who also sent a copy. Here it
is, Crew Cohesion, a pdf file 294KB. For
future reference, I put a link to it on the site-map
page along with the links to other important documents. Ab.
||Pete, so you're saying that Portal to Portal means 16 hours of OT per
day, and 24 hours of OT on weekends?? Sign me up, and make it retroactive
for the last 27 seasons.
||Portal to Portal:
The big issue for FS on P2P is at what rate would we be paid if this
thing came to be? If there is even the chance that I am going to lose a
considerable amount of money with the system, why change to it? Obviously
there is a lot of interest in portal to portal, but how long will it take
to implement such a plan? If it is allowed for wildland firefighters
working for the govt. then will other disciplines in the FS start
screaming and shouting for it. I can see a timber-beast going to some
conference and getting paid for several days away from home. Likely this
wouldn't happen, but once you open the gate, the hounds may get out.
Would there be some upper limit on what wage can be paid with P2P? It
would be hard to reconcile a cache manager on a fire, who performs a
valuable function, but maybe at a vastly larger pay rate than the people
who are facing a higher level of risk on the line.
I agree that fatigue should be managed appropriately, and that is
everyone's responsibility, but also largely the crew/engine/etc. bosses
main job, to make the hard decisions based on experience and knowledge.
Whether there are enough qualified direct supervisors in fire is a whole
other ball of wax also tied into compensation and retention.
Personally I don't see portal to portal anywhere near the horizon
whether the benefits can be proven to the "legislature" in any
concrete terms. The current budget doesn't exactly show a ray of hope for
change in the near future anyway. Just a few more tidbits for thought.
||OFG asks how I personally feel about CDF's portal to portal pay, and
would I change it to the Fed's system or some other system.
The short answer is that I think that portal to portal is the way to
go. Not just because we earn more, but, as OFG mentions, there is saving
due to it being much simpler and easier to implement. It is also rational.
My earlier post(s) just brought up a couple of negative factors, but on
the whole I support it and hope USFS gets it.
CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande
I’ve worked with Redcards for many years and here is how my forest would
handle this situation:
First of all, your training should never been deleted. It should be
entered into the Redcard program and remain there regardless of whether
you ever complete a task book for a position. (You should always keep your
training completion certificates as well in case your current district
deletes your training records from the program.) Then you should take the
training before ever having your task book initiated. Once the training is
completed and the task book is initiated, you should be sent out on
trainee assignments. If your task book is not completed within 3 years,
the committee can choose to re-initiate the task book or throw out the
task book and pull your trainee status.
From your description, I’d guess that your committee may think you will
not be able to complete the task book by the necessary deadline and
therefore have chosen to pull your trainee status. However, it would be
worth asking the question. Also, you may want to reference the 5109.17
Qualification Handbook (for USFS employees) or the 310-1 Qualification
Guide (for other agency employees) and read up on the processes,
prerequisites, etc. for yourself. Remember, knowledge is power. Please don’t
let them get away with this without giving you a proper explanation. If
necessary, get a copy of the Qualification Handbook/Guide appropriate for
your agency and hold them to the guidelines specified in it.
- IA Dispatcher
The FWFSA's proposal for portal to portal would entitle ALL Federal
Wildland firefighters to be in pay status from the time they leave their
duty station until the time they return. Overtime will be paid at time
and a half.
Judge Halts An Army Policy on Promotion (washingtonpost.com)
wonder if this will carry over to fire?? >
Now Remember Judge Royce C. Lamberth is the one that ordered the DOI
Internet usage shutdown!!!!!! Obviously you haven't been on a R-1 IMT's
fire!!!! That goes for the Southeast as well, as I can attest to this fall
down in KY, TN, VA.................. The staging areas were somewhat
R-1 Engine Guy
||CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande:
Thanks for sharing information about portal to portal. I think there are
concerns about the benefits, and the consequences that, for us feds, keep
the issue confused. I've done the math, and PTP always comes out over
current pay methods for project length assignments. It doesn't when on
initial attack of greater than 16 hour shift.
Other questions/some answers I've heard include:
1. What's to keep management from working everyone beyond the level of
fatigue....we're paying them?
A: Work/rest guidelines are established as a standard for safety and apply
regardless of pay method.
2. Why should firefighters work hard if they get the same pay while
A. Look at the person on the line next to you.....do you think they (or
yourself) are really doing this just for the money? No, we've got a proud,
dedicated family. Paying them fairly won't negatively impact that.
3. Other effects on managing the fire?
A; We all accept that we work hard and want OT (for now). That sometimes
leads to crews finding additional work that needs doing, and being
"late" getting to their pick up point. Logistics are compounded,
and crews are more tired from a longer shift. Take the focus off of
earnings and emphasize that being better rested is a part of the job could
be a good thing.
4. What about cost?
A; Bound to be somewhat higher if people are earning more money. But, is
there not an indirect savings in the cost of managing timesheets,
recording shift hours, differentials, H pay etc......also the
"cost" of fatigue resulting in injury?
5. What are the chances of this happening for the feds?
A; I don't know. The subject won't go away, but only politicians can make
These are just some of the questions, and some of the answers I've heard
discussed. What else is out there? Maybe if we can ask and answer them we
can get the support for PTP.
Mike......overall how does it balance out for CDF? Would you ever propose
changing to the fed pay method? Some other method?
||In regards to FED FIRES post rewriting the GS(081)classification
Rumor has the re-write committee has a final draft of the classification
standards. It is basically designed to give firefighters 1 upgrade above
current level, ie. a GS 5 Firefighter could get a GS 6 if he/she were DOD
certified @ that level. The classification standards would include things
such as E.M.S. and Haz-Mat which are not recognized in the current
classification standard. This re-write still has to go to OPM, and be
bargained by the Labor Unions.
This Classification standard will not be relevant (unfortunately) to
Wildland Firefighters because they are not GS(081) Firefighters. The
standard does currently, and will continue to address Structural,
Aircraft & Shipboard firefighting.
To you Federal Wildland Brothers and Sisters. Keep fighting for better
working conditions, we 081 feds. finally got our pay system changed
in 1998, so it can be done.
The pay disparity between The Federal Wildland Firefighters and Federal
"Firefighters" is often a topic of station discussions.
It is a crime that you can carry SCBA's, Turn Outs, EMS equipment etc. and
still get told your services are not worth paying for when you are in Fire
Camp. Then they make you buy your own boots.. thats just wrong !
just wondering if any one can give me some background on red card
The reason I ask is because I have been notified that my district wants to
pull my trainee status as a crewboss. From what I understand, once you
completed all the given tasks in a task book you turn it in for
The committee decides whether the trainee is capable of performing the
position. They either ok the certification or deny it and request
What I don't understand is, can they delete your training records so as to
show that you have never taken the training? Also how can they justify
removing trainee status if you have never had a trainee assignment?
Any help is appreciated in dealing with " The Good Ole Boys".
Man, I hope
my applications come through for a good district.
||Gee Firescribe, there sure seems to be no lack of white males running
the fire service. What are you saying?
I remember hearing that CDF Captains in Yellowstone (1988) were getting
$36.00 an hour 24 hours/day. Could be just a fire myth. What is their
That has to be a mistake. OT pay in 1988 was MUCH lower. I believe I am at
the highest CDF Captain pay rate, as a Fire Captain B (Fire Crew Captain),
and I also enjoy the maximum longevity (age.......) enhancement that CDF
provides. Due to the vagaries and peculiarities of our contract and the
Fair Labor Standards Act our Overtime pay during NERP (essentially
non-Fire Season - i.e. Winter) is at the maximum. (Our base pay is divided
by 53 hours instead of the Fire Season 68 hours). That maximum, for me, at
the highest possible Fire Captain rate, in the year 2002, is about $32.90
per hour, portal to portal. It was much lower in 1988. And it is
significantly lower than that even in the year 2002 when on normal Fire
Season status (when we work a 68 rather than 53-hour work week, and
consequently our base pay is divided by a higher number). I think it is
very unfortunate that our USFS firefighters do not earn portal to portal.
For one thing, it makes life much easier for Division Supervisors,
bean-counters, and everyone else. And it makes sense philosophically (how
can they not pay you when they have taken you away from your home and all
your normal off-duty endeavors and pleasures?). Finally, it ends forever
the question of whether firefighters can get sh$*-faced while off-shift.
You can't! You're on the clock.
Just Wondering asked if health insurance and survivor's benefits
are paid to Domestic Partners of firefighters. To the best of my
knowledge, in California (CDF) they are not. Just Wondering also asked
"if not, why not". Damned good question. I would submit that it
is due to a failure in the concept and application of separation of Church
and State. There is no other conceivable reason. My personal view is that
all individuals should be treated equally, and that therefore those
benefits should not be paid to anyone. But it is certainly inexcusable
that they are paid to only a certain subset of people who pass a dubious
litmus test of being both married (not a secular concept) and of opposite
sex. Go figure.............
Old Fire Guy's post from earlier today is reasoned and
provocative. He is right in suggesting that the desire for additional pay
(at least among USFS firefighters, with their current unfortunate pay
structure) can quite possibly lead to cases of excessive fatigue. And
safety is paramount. But as a dedicated CDF firefighter I want to also
point out that portal-to-portal pay brings with it the baggage of
inefficiency. If you are paid the same whether you are out on the line or
not, many individuals will prefer to not undergo the deprivations,
difficulties and discomforts of line assignments when they can earn the
same in Fire Camp or Motels or staged at CDF facilities. A classic example
is: It used to be considered completely normal and natural to work a full
day of difficult and strenuous "grade project" with our Fire
Crew, then, shortly after we got home, get called by the Command Center
and dispatched as a Strike Team to drive all night. Upon arrival, we would
often be assigned to the day shift, and that could well be a 24-hour
shift. I may be somewhat unique, but I don't think I really am physically.
I found that despite being up for well over 48 hours, if I was assigned to
something worthwhile I was wide-awake and thoroughly capable of safely
doing my job. Most humans can manage that much time when necessary without
collapsing or being substantially impaired. My Crew seemed quite capable
of it also. Now, among the three Captains required to make up a Strike
Team, almost inevitably at least one will state that they cannot manage
the drive that night. Or, upon arrival at the incident, will claim that
they are too fatigued to go out on the line. But, they will always start
their pay (OT or not) at the exact moment they are committed to the
incident. Then they go home and sleep all night. Or arrive at the incident
and insist that they get a full shift off for R&R. Some might say that
this is reasonable and leads to increased safety. But how about the Fire
Manager who has to somehow order up a day-shift for the second burning
period? If there are multiple large fires, he might find that there are
nowhere near sufficient resources (whereas, in the past, those resources
WOULD be available by the next morning). So-the initial attack personnel
are kept on all afternoon, all night, and all the next day. Meanwhile the
property owners and taxpayers find that the protection they had counted on
is not quite as robust as they had hoped for.
CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande
||Hello to all,
I am researching some information on the engines that sucked in fire
embers into their air intakes and caught on fire this past few months.
Does anyone have the information?
R-1 Engine Guy
||Lo AB hey guys.
Just met with the Interagency engine tender committee in Salem Or
yesterday. Lots of info.
They had talked about the Wage determination for firefighters going from
6.60 something an hour to 17.60 per hour. Apparently the Labor department
has been messing up the determination for the last decade or so. This is
the correction. Any one else have any documentation on this?
later and be safe
Just FYI, the LP will be doing temp. hiring on 18th and 19th of March and
perm hiring the 20th and 21st for second round of hiring. For those of you
interested in a job with the LP make your contacts now, time is running
Good luck to all.
Good advice, make those contacts, even if you've gotten a note that
they'll call you. This is not a time to be shy. Express your interest. Let
those hiring put a voice and a personality, if not a face, with your name.
I was referring to the departments that hire 0081series firefighters
of the 0455, 0462 series range / forestry techs. These are primarily
Department of Defense installations but the National Park Service,
Affairs, FEMA etc also have some.
Why do we make more money? Because we work 24 hour shifts as part of a 72
hours work week. Our hourly rate is lower (we get paid the same for 53
as everybody else gets for 40, but we also have 38 hours OT per pay period
built in to our pay). The result is a GS5 step 1 Firefighter working a 72
hour week makes about the same as a GS8 step 4 Engine Captain working a 40
hour week. Before I made the switch from the USFS to the DOD, I did some
math. I would have to work over 700 hours of OT as an FEO to make the same
money that I get base as a 0081 firefighter. Since my best year on an
was just short of 600 hours OT... Plus I get to stay home with the family
more, have less responsibility and, if a new need arises, I can get the
training and equipment I need instead of getting a lecture about how it is
not part of the USFS mission.
For those who are interested, OPM is supposed to be reviewing the 0081
and may include federal wildland firefighters. I have not been able to
locate any current info on the status of that, though.
Sorry to get away from the wildland topic, its not my intent to lure away
wildland folks, or give a speech on "the otherside" but I was
lots of the 0081 departments do a good deal of wildland too, so I guess it
not completely off topic. San Diego Federal, Camp Pendleton, Ft. Hunter
Liggett, Ord Military Community, Vandenberg in CA and Ft Huachuca in AZ
have rather significant wildland programs.
On another topic I'm working on a power point program for federal fire
recruitment (all federal fire agencies, structural and wildland), I'm
to be traveling to some local colleges to drum up recruits. If anyone is
interested in the program I'd be happy to send it in to the AB's when I'm
||There are various fire behavior programs available for download. I don't
think they're restricted. Check out: http://www.fire.org/.
Check the post on 03/01 for a link and a bit more detail on the
Release Notes, etc if you can't readily find them on the website's main
||The Jobs Page is
updated. Some advertisements for fire use module FFs, helitack mgr, some
for fire effects academic types, some for ff at Point Reys NS and hotshot
crew for the Six Rivers NF, Lower Trinity RD, etc, etc.
and 0455 are
updated again. Back on schedule.
We're into Round 3 apps of MEL
Madness. Those of you who applied for temp positions, if you put
999 on location, e-mail ASAP right away and change that or you won't
be considered until after everyone else!
Some of you doing the hiring, if you need GS-3 crew folks, put out the
word. There will probably be some good extra ones in SoCal where there
have been many excellent applicants who will not all get local
OK, done. Ab.
First a quick thank you for all your outstanding work on keeping
"They Said" alive and well! I can only imagine the amount of
Secondly, as an ex- Fed/City firefighter I find myself consulting to
various school districts in California on their potential new sites in the
interface. Changes to the California Environmental Quality Act relative to
school sites mandate that the U-I setting etc. be examined in some depth
as part of the process, which in turn falls into the State approval
process for new school sites. Long story short, I find myself in need of
fire behavior modeling software that can help me with this issue. Last
time I looked, the best programs were mostly for "agency" users
and hard to come by for folks like me. Perhaps you or somebody on the
board has a sense of what's currently readily available. If so I could use
the advice and would appreciate the help!
Thanks in advance!
Thanks and yep, we're pretty busy. Ab.
||It's an old subject but does anybody have the proposed pay formula for
portal to portal? Does it include hazard and overtime rates or just your
base pay? How 'bout some of you FWFSA people out there. What is the
This has probably been answered before but I could use some current info.
I remember hearing that CDF Captians in Yellowstone (1988) were getting
$36.00 an hour 24 hours/day. Could be just a fire myth. What is their
Aside from safety issues and efficiency of record keeping, having
some down to earth figures that congress people can relate to is always a
good idea. Ab.
Good questions. Most federal agencies and many states will have a link at
their websites to "human resources" or "personnel"
with subsequent links to
pay and benefits. As to the feds, my understanding is that health benefits
apply to immediate family members (spouse, children, adopted, legal
custody). I don't think there is any health benefit if there is not a
recognized legal standing. Survivor benefits go to whomever the employee
designates (spouse, children, in-laws, guy across the street) but there
nuances over who might have legal priority. Check individual situations
with a federal personnel officer and don't expect a simple answer.....it's
just not their way. States?????
This may be obvious to you or some others but where? (what?) is the
"other" fedfire that you work at? I was under the impression
that USFS was the only fed fire? Why is the pay scale so much different? I
know this pay thing has been hammered to death but what is really standing
in the way of USFS firefighters getting paid more? Heard of a nearby city
with starting pay the same as a GS-9 step 4. How can the FS be so
incredibly out of touch? Any comments?...
We are trying to locate live wildfire footage for a presentation our rep
is going to be putting on. If there is any way you can e-mail us some live
footage, please contact me at your earliest convenience.
Investment Centers of America, Inc.
Anybody got any and is interested, please let us know. Ab.
||Hey Ab and all, maybe these are questions for union
folks, or maybe just anyone who has the answer. Are
federal and state employees' health insurance and
survivors' benefits extended to Domestic Partners of
firefighters? If yes, who can one contact for the
info. and paperwork? If not, then why?
Halts An Army Policy on Promotion (washingtonpost.com)
wonder if this will carry over to fire??
and here's another on the fire in AZ which may be a harbinger of the
fire season to come
Crews struggle to halt wildfire
||I'm glad to see people weighing in on the safety issue. Maybe our
continued dialogue will result in someone saying "Hey!" .....and
finally coming up with a plan that will keep our firefighters focused on
safety being our number one priority.
Here's where I'm currently at: I believe fatigue (not lack of training)
is our primary factor in people failing to follow the 10/18. I don't agree
that we should throw them out. I think the best way to monitor compliance
with the 10/18 is to be on the line with the firefighters. If trained,
experienced firefighters are experiencing fatigue to the point they are
not following the orders designed for safety.....they need to be rested.
The idea of paying them to rest is okay with me....but I don't think we
currently have the authority to do so. Yes, some will feel
"punished" by forgoing OT and the bottom line $ it represents.
That's regrettable, but the real bottom line is their safety.
I'll continue to push for checking compliance with the 10 standard orders.
Work to standard, or don't work. I'll also continue to argue against the
perspective that taking away a crew/dozer/aircraft endangers lives. If a
"tool" is lost or not available, the only proper thing to do is
modify your plan of attack (withdraw if necessary) to ensure safety. If
the loss of whatever "tool" places you in a non-recoverable
position... you had the wrong plan to start with. But hey, if others
believe they have a better course of action, keep pursuing it! You could
be right. As long as we get to the point that folks stop dying needlessly,
I don't care if it's because of my efforts or yours.
Thanks to everyone who responded.
Old Fire Guy
There are a couple different areas where GIS works with fire. There is GIS
within the ICS system (in the Situation Unit) and within the fire program.
If you want to be a GIS Specialist working in the fire program I recommend
taking a GIS certificate program (American River College has a great one
in the Sac area). There is a definite need for GIS trained people within
the agencies. If you want to do GIS on an Incident then there is an
interagency class that is offered to teach GIS people about fire- but you
need to be proficient in GIS first.
Then there is the specialist, say a fuels module leader, who can use GIS
as a tool in their daily job. This skill is usually gained by on the job
training, short courses, or college classes.
GIS is becoming a part of the reporting system (when available) for fire
perimeters, fuels projects, planning, etc. It's a good skill to have.
||I am trying to locate fire fighters for a book on the 24 Command Fire
that started on Hwy 240 near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in South East
Washington. If you worked this fire, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
||Anybody know what kind of need there is for GIS certified people who
work on fire in the summers and may work on projects possibly as a
contractor??? in the winters? What do the agencies need? Maybe I could
work into a perm as a ff with a gis strength. Just looking ahead to when I
am no longer able to hump the hills.
Is it a cert program involving a few classes or would I need a 2 year
aa degree? I'm not going to want to leave fire, but need to start
exploring future sustainability.
I'm from NorCal, and hopefully the locality pay adjustment will hit our
area sometime, so at least some of our people might do better pay-wise. I
know we want to retain folks and we also want people to promote. But
here's an issue that several SoCal higher GS level fire people have thrown
up to me.
During the recent SoCal Forests locality pay adjustment process, while
the lower GS employees were benefitted, the higher GS employees didn't
receive much or received a pay cut in some cases. What's the incentive to
promote past GS-9 when a socal GS-9 Supt making avg OT makes more than the
GS-11, GS-12 FMO living in the same locality?
I wonder if anyone who has gone thru the adjustment process knows if
there's a way to mitigate this outcome ahead of time for northern CA? We
need to keep our folks promoting.
||Ab sez, The Jobs Page
has been made current. We will update it again tomorrow if more listings
come in. The Series
0462, and 0455
were updated yesterday and will also be updated tomorrow. We got a bit
behind with the workload here and some of us spending too many hours on
chat -- but what fun!
||This should set the record straight as far as Forest Service
prerequisite training and experience for Squad Boss, ICT5, & Crew
Firefighter (FFT2): I-100, S-130, & S-190.
Advanced Firefighter/Squad Boss: Level 1 Training (Required): S-131 &
S-212. (FFT1) Level 2 Training (Can substitute approved equivalent
Level 3 Training (May complete recommended training): S-211 & S-216 or
Previous experience as FFT2 & complete FFT1 Task Book.
ICT5: Level 1 Training (Required): S-133 & S-290. Previous experience
as FFT1 and complete ICT5 Task Book.
Crew Boss (CRWB): Level 1 Training (Required): I-200, S-215, S-230, S-234,
S-260, S-270, & S-290.Previous experience as FFT1 & complete CRWB
Source: Forest Service Handbook 5109.17, Fire Management Qualifications
Handbook (2002 Draft)
Thanks for the follow-up. Ab.
||Ab , someone earlier wanted to know the quals for ict5, unfortunately
the Standards for Fire & Aviation Operations for 2001 doesn't have the
quals and I don't have a copy of IQS in front of me.
I would expect the following courses would pertain to this position:
S 130, S 190, I 100 , LCES & Standards for Survival. (you know the
basics of rookie training)
S 201 supervisory Concepts
S 200 Initial Attack IC,
With these courses a task book, a good trainer and some good incidents may
lead to being a good ICT5.
||Old Fire Guy : I don't know about measuring the distance to reefers but
I do think that providing a quiet "restful" place to sleep would
seem to be a minimum measure to help combat fatigue. Common sense.
Standing down a crew is perceived as a punishment because essentially they
are docked pay. Again, it has not proven to be effective anywhere in the
past and providing incentive to work safe has so I propose that we simply
use that which has been proven to work and not use that which has never
seemed to. Also, whenever you pull a crew you endanger other crews in the
area unless there is a fresh crew to replace them immediately. If a crew
is obviously a danger to themselves or others they should be taken off the
line and "refreshed" but not docked pay...unless we want to
encourage them to not come to our next incident. There are simple,
effective, and proven methods of safety enhancement that I do not believe
are being employed that might prevent injures or fatalities...and in the
end that is what we all want.
I have served on incidents where overhead that should have been taken
out of the chain of command and refreshed for everyone's sake. It is bound
to happen occasionally. I should say here lest I be misunderstood that in
my opinion the vast majority of folks in overhead positions are very well
trained and serious about their job...but that some are so gung ho that
they push themselves and those around and under them past the limits of
safety. Are SOs allowed to intervene as freely with overhead as they are
on the line? Would you feel as good about requiring an IC to stand down
(without pay) if he showed signs of extreme fatigue or even just enough
fatigue that he was forgetting some of the 10 & 18 as you would about
those under him/her?...I don't think your standards are too tough but I
think they should be equally applied and not financed exclusively by the
Firepup: I think you have some very good points. We do it to ourselves
to a great extent (fatigue). Because of our need to earn a living at the
wage provided OT is not just an option for most serious firefighters it is
a requirement. But AD's don't get OT and they experience the same factors
of fatigue...Hmmmm. Maybe this is primarily an issue based on mot enough
experienced personnel to fill the need and the need to attract and keep
employees through competitive wage practices. I think most ICs are faced
at least once each season, especially toward the end with the choice of
pushing crews too much or being criticized for an incidents expense by
letting it burn too long. There is also the pressure to push harder and
longer when interface structures are threatened which will I think be a
more frequent occurrence for the foreseeable future.
Todd: Cover-ups...From personal experience.....I would never knowingly
participate in a cover-up. I have been asked to and refused. I have also
been conned into participating unknowingly. Once the report is published
there are very few effective alternatives to burning your career by going
public with what you know with the foreknowledge that your voice may not
be heard and you may just be discredited and disgraced if you do. Most
would wisely choose to remain silent and vow never to trust those that had
participated in the con again.
||I don't know if this has been passed around or not, but the revised IHOG
is available online in PDF format at http://www.nifc.gov/ihog/
copy should be available in April.
Yes I have "saved" vehicles before they became a car-b-que,
can sometimes you can't. I have also backed off fully involved vehicles
until sufficient resources were available.
Drowning dumpster fires is typical SOP even in structure departments, some
of that stuff doesn't go out easily.
As far as the SCBA's go, if you can stop the fire without needing them
but if you do need them wouldn't it be nice to have a fully supported
program. Any time you are fighting fire in the interface, the potential
exists. I know of cases where engines have been in a "safety
interface operations. Sure the fire didn't get to them but they sucked
of toxic structure smoke, thanks to some bean counter in an office who
determined that only 3 of the 5 firefighters needed protection.
As far as portal to portal pay and safety, I agree 100%, as far as
I also agree. While my reasons for leaving go beyond just portal to portal
it would go a long way to show a sincere effort by congress and the
to improve conditions for wildland firefighters. I work with another ex
employee and we both agree that if the USFS could even begin to match the
pay we get in the federal fire service (we work a 72 hour week) we would
both return without hesitation. Its a great job but scraping by every
Anyone know what the status of OPM's rewrite of the 0081 series is?
I believe ICT5 is now part of the FFT1/squadboss task book. The last time
checked all that was required was S130, S131, S190 and I100.
and if I remember correctly Crew boss required the above position plus
(now 215? urban interface), S230 and S290.
||Ab, here is an interesting site to view graphically for the current
Good one. Ab
||Any one know when the new ad5 rates will be out?
||FS Employee and Killer,
I too am going to jump on the band wagon with you guys, but with only one
Killer I see your point regarding the three guys you are talking about,
and Ias I told the last one who went to SB County, someone has to stay
behind and fight for all of us who choose to stay.
I am done talking about this issue. Let's not wait for the upper
management to help out with these issues. I have already started writing
my local Congress Person to look for the new portal to portal bill that
will hopefully be presented to Congress.
As I was told before and I know I have said this before, if we all came
together we would be the biggest firefighting voice the IAFF and CPF have
ever seen. How many issues would we get passed in Congress then?
Yes, I may be living in a pipe dream, but I grew up in the municipal fire
service that two of those Squad Bosses went to and I saw first hand what a
STRONG union or whatever affiliation you want to belong to can do for the
employees. My father and others paved the way for those new County
employees. If it can be done with a not so big department then, I know it
can be done here.
He didn't say it, but this Ab will. Go to the top of the theysaid
page and hit the FWFSA logo. It's a link to the Association. Check it out.
Sign up today. Some reps go to Washington next week. They need FED FFs
behind them. Power in numbers...
Just found out that the Interagency Aviation Pages are back up
||An FS Employee,
You hit the nail on the head regarding the issues of safety and retention
as they pertain to portal to portal pay.
It continues to appall me that the Land Management Agencies have no qualms
paying portal to portal to other state and local govt. employees (usually
a a much higher base rate) working side by side their own employees on a
max of sixteen hours a day! It is more than just a "problem," it
is flat out criminal.
My last three squad bosses on the hotshot crew are now working for a
county fire dept. and laughing all the way to the bank when they return
from a "Fed" fire, (and they go quite a bit)! They are using the
skills learned in the Forest Service but are getting properly compensated
for their time, knowledge and skills now.
I often wonder about the sanity of the rest of us that don't follow suit
to other agencies!
If the Feds wish to get serious regarding firefighter safety and
retention, they need to wake up, smell the roses and create that quality
work environment that I have been hearing so much about the last twenty
years or so......
||To go along with what "hsfb" asked, what classes are required
I believe Forest Service qualifications for ICT5 are Advanced
Firefighter/Squad Boss plus S-290. For FFT1 you might need S-130, S-131,
S-190, S-212, S-281, I-100, and S-211. This is close but I'd have to look
in the quals handbook to tell you for sure.
||what classes are required for ict 5
ie s-234 etc
I was going to suggest going to our links page and find the quals
handbook in pdf, but I see the site still isn't up. Ab.
||Safety, Safety Officers, 16 hours shifts, traveling, 2-3 weeks on the
road, loud fire camps, good diet? I appreciate the quality dialogue
happening in here. If someone supervises a group of human beings in a
dangerous profession, it should be important to that person that members
of the module are not getting so run down that safety is compromised.
If you were going to receive the same pay for being in a camp resting,
sleeping, calling home to see how the family is doing, taking care of PPE,
talking with friends, clearing your head and preparing for the next day,
the next fire, or the next 300 mile drive to a new start vs. staying out
on the line to squeeze every minute you can out of a shift and increasing
exposure to tired personnel, which would you choose?
I think as Feds, or for that matter entire fire service, the
overwhelming majority of crews, engines, overhead want to and arrive at an
incident and perform to the best of their ability. But lets face it and be
honest with each other, as FEDS have you ever worked a longer shift not
only because replacements didn't show up as scheduled or because you
wanted to tie in a last piece of line, but have you worked longer for
additional OT? We all enjoy the extra money, and in some cases lower grade
employees need the OT to stay off food stamps, pay school tuition or do
something a little extra for the family in the winter. A family that
didn't see you for long periods during the fire season.
So to the unions, FWFSA, anyone who lobbies politicians or just groups
who like to talk shop at the 19th hole. Tell any manager that will listen
that "portal to portal pay" will increase recruitment, encourage
laterals from other departments (boy would that be a change), reduce
fatigue, encourage personnel to reduce the number of exposure hours on the
line, stop after hour drinking while on an incident (including all the
problems that alcohol has caused in the past), and improve working
The state has it right, they understand the importance of retaining and
recruiting a quality workforce. I don't think we need hotels, but every
employee, especially operations personnel, deserve to be paid around the
clock from the time they lower the garage doors and drive off to God knows
what, to the time they arrive back at that same garage door and head home
to the family.
A FS employee
My department is looking at buying a couple of new skid pumps for our
pickups. Does any body have any info or opinions on what to get or not
to get. What brand is team green buying these days?
||Hi Ab and all,
First questions is, can anyone with solid information say anything about
the rumors going around that due to the War on Terrorism tell us anything
about budget cuts in DOA and DOI that is going to affect hiring for this
season? As it is now engines are being proposed to being staffed on a
5-Day basis rather than a 7-day, and possibly downstaffing two-engine
company stations down to one engine. Nothing heard about handcrews and
To Pyrolysis, I worked on the LP back in the early 90's and the pay
differential between the four Southern California Forest was 25% more, and
33% for the Cleveland NF.
||Pyrolysis, "tis true.......
go to www.opm.gov
click on "2002 Federal Employee Pay Tables"
click on "Special Salary Rate Tables"
Click on " Complete set of Title 5 Special Salary Rate Tables"
(near bottom of page)
choose ASCII format
scroll down to "Table # 256"
and there you will have it!
Thanks for forwarding the info from Sting on the airtanker photo........
Keep up the good work on the website and new chatroom........ even though
I don't always agree with anonymity and hiding behind "handles",
you have an excellent forum for new ideas and "fixes". I hope
that some folks from management are listening and dropping in at times to
feel the pulse.
The links site is extremely useful also.
Thanks Killer. Undoubtedly managers do. As for the links page, we
have been creating it to serve us and this group. Glad it's fulfilling
that purpose. Definitely still a work in progress. Ab.
Maybe one of you southerners can help me resolve a dispute between a
co-worker and I. Forgive me if this is redundant, I often miss weeks of
"they said" at a time. I have heard rumors of the "big
4" forests (ANF,
BDF, LPF, CNF) getting an average of $5.00 an hour more pay than the rest
us in region 5. My buddy doesn't believe it because we can't find the pay
scale on OPM to back up what I've heard from people. If it's true where
we find the pay scale so I can "in your face" him? On a
different note, we
are staffing one engine per district 7 days due to high(er) fire danger.
It's only March!
||All the newest info on the fire shelter designs and chronology:
Fire Directors Select Final Four Fire
Shelter Designs (oops, horizontal lines are off!)
Fire Shelter Talking Points
Fire Shelter Development Chronology
||Anything planned for Friday night chat? If so, what time?
Old Fire Guy
We are planning some formally announced Q & A chat sessions in
the near future, probably on a Thursday night. In those cases people
coming to chat will be asked to focus on our guest, who we expect will
have good info in response to our questions.
Last night was unplanned but informative on many fire-related topics from
JAC academy and MEL Madness schedule and hiring to the red flag warnings,
Santa Ana reports and firefighter pre-positioning for socal. Nothing
formal is planned for tonight. Hey, Old Fire Guy, this Ab is willing to
show up again tonight - what'say starting at about 1930 PST.
There's a youngish crowd that occasionally shows up at 2200 to check the
If you're new to chat, don't be put off by the multiple simultaneous
free-for-all conversations. It is a bit chaotic at times, like firecamp
chow line on the first day with old friends greeting and new folks meeting
each other. Feel free to lurk and join in when you want. Misspellings are
acceptable as is poor grammar. Most of us get finger-tied often. Virtual
beer may flow. Occasionally there is the poor unfortunate whose moniker
shortens to ik or iks. He didn't stay long last night but may have come
back later with a new handle. Many of us were dying of laughter. (Iks,
don't take this personally!) If you want to know how to change text color
or create a private message to someone or want to know what part of the
country people are from, just ask. We'll learn ya up. Regarding who is
who, with what agency and where they're from, some will say, some won't.
But no offense taken. It's a much gentler atmosphere than the theysaid
forum sometimes is and there's never a dull moment. And Pulaski, Abby and
Mellie promise not to gang up on you if you ever come back.
Not to over-simplify the issue of fatigue, but often I think it is a
function of OT. The incentive for most ground-pounders, not making a GS-9
Step 8 wage, is to make as much overtime as possible. That means that most
crews push for 16 hour shifts or more when and where possible. If you do
that every day for 2 weeks or maybe even 3 weeks, no matter who you are,
it is going to affect your performance, and possibly your judgement. If
you add other factors such as bad (meaning over-crowded, and loud) fire
camps then the amount of sleep can dip further. Some shower facilities are
set up with the same number of stalls for women as men. Not to be un-P.C.
but still, in general, there are a lot fewer women in fire camps then men.
The result is an hour long wait (not uncommon) for the men to shower. Even
when there are individual stalls for everyone, the wait can be too long.
If you get into poison-oak, you probably need to get those oils off, and
wasting even half an hour of precious sleep can take its toll. There are
other things such as improper diet, and physical conditioning that can
affect performance. It is not a question where fixing one little thing is
going to solve the problem. I don't have the answers, but thought I'd
weigh in on the subject -
||So Cal Fire Season:
Well CDF is mobilizing multiple strike teams of Northern Calif. engines
and crews for the upcoming wind event for Southern Calif. We have
repositioned several helicopters and fixed wing A/C to various locations
in the area. Additionally San Diego, Riverside, and San Berdo Units have
gone back to their fire season schedules and are hiring back as many FF's
as we can find that are not in school. An interesting statistic is we have
found that 87% of our fires have burned in So. Cal. during "non fire
season" Hence the re-opener!
Be safe folks. Keep the wind to your back and one foot in the burn. Good
luck to us all in So. Cal the next few days.
Lottsa talk about that state of affairs on firechat last night. All
of you, Be Safe. Ab.
||Old Fire Guy, Putnam thinks we should find an alternative to the 10 and
18. He has a PhD in how people think. Maybe we're going at all this
backwards. I mean, who even knows how big a safety zone should be
when the world blows up?
Ab, did you ever get that piece he wrote on the 10 and 18 and fire
investigations being compromised with parts of them being covered up?
His comments on the 10 and 18 made sense to me. His coverup comments
are harder to swallow. I know one of the people on the 30mi investigation
and no way would that person allow anything to be covered up.
We e-mailed Ted, asked for permission and have heard nothing. Most
people who sent his paper to us had favorable comments. Here's a link to
some of his info on the 10 and 18 from the safety summit conference in
Ten Standard Firefighting Orders: Can Anyone Follow Them? (.doc file).
All conference proceedings are on our Links
Page under safety - last line in the links table. Ab.
||Dana: You are right on about the importance of fatigue as a factor in
fatalities. Fatigue leads to mistakes being made, and that leads to
tragedy. How does one judge fatigue? Timing the hours of sleep available
and measuring the distance between the reefer and sleeping area might be
one method. I believe a better indicator is to assess how well people are
doing in following the 10 & 18. Fatigue is indicated when highly
and experienced firefighters stop paying attention to the details of
safety......they haven't kept their heads up for weather changes, or they
didn't discuss safety zones and escape routes before hitting the line. I
differ in that I don't see standing down a crew as a
"punishment" but as an
emphasis on safety is our first job, and line construction is our next
priority. Maybe they need relief in the form of additional rest. Bottom
line is how do we ensure that the people on the line, those most at risk,
are indeed following the basics for a safe assignment. I think the best
way is to be on the line with them, and to hold them accountable. Someone
back in firecamp may well share the "blame" but this would at
folks out of harms way. Too tough a standard? I doubt you would hear that
from the surviving family members.
GGFIRE: "Taking Care of Our Own" was sponsored byt the Bureau of
Assistance and National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Les Rosencrance
was one of the teaching cadre. Again, maybe the most emotionally intense
training I've had in 31 years of fire involvement. Learned some good ways
to work through a tragedy, and heard some real life experiences that might
have moved me to violence had I been the parent. Bless the parents and
spouse who survived a loss and had the courage and caring to share that
with our group. I'm sure it came with personal emotional cost for them,
but they recognized the importance.
Old Fire Guy
||BehavePlus has been formally released as a national system. Here's a bit
BehavePlus 1.0.0 is now available for download from www.fire.org. Full
details are given in the Release Notes (http://fire.org/cgi-bin/nav.cgi?pages=behave&mode=22).
A Users Guide, a set of tutorials, and FAQ are available. You can report
bugs and suggest changes through that site. And you can register your
email address to receive update notices.
Version 1.0.0 fixes all known problems with the Beta 1 and Beta 2 test
versions. Current users of Beta versions are strongly encouraged to
upgrade to version 1.0.0. If you already have a previous version of
BehavePlus on your computer, you must remove it before installing the new
version. Be sure to read the Release Notes.
forwarded from DF
||Old Fire Guy wrote:
<<CDF Mike: If complying with safety is "keeping us from doing
job".....God protect you and your crew.>>
I'm an atheist. I'll protect me and my crew. And misquoting someone for
the sake of argument, either deliberately or due to intellectual
shortcomings does not advance your theory that "in your face"
officers are a good thing for the Fire Service.
CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande.
||I'm going to be in FireChat for a while if anyone else is interested.
I've been a reader of "They Said" and of your excellent site
for several months, but have only just now got the time to sit down and
(slowly!) tap the keyboard.
A little about myself, I am a career (mostly structural) firefighter in
Sydney, Australia and also a volunteer firefighter in my local rural fire
district where about 70 per cent of our calls are wildland. We have just
come off some pretty intense, mostly interface type fires here as you guys
would be aware.
In reply to Sven's post regarding vehicle fires being other than total
loss, I have had at least two car fires in the last 3 months where
"good saves" were made. One was a under hood fire, where the
driver had the presence of mind to keep the hood down thereby slowing the
fire spread - with engine repairs and a small area repaint, this car would
be back on the road. Another was a stolen car let alight (fairly common
thing here!), the bad guys set fire to the seats, but then closed the
doors!! Result was fire starved due to lack of oxygen, interior damage
only, insurance company would repair maybe $5000 damage on a $20000 car.
Of course most deliberately lit car fires (stolen or insurance fraud)
result in close to total loss.
Also I would like to add that I am visiting the NorthWest USA (WA, ID,
MT - I will be based in Pullman WA) in late March to late April. I would
like to visit as much Wildland Fire related stuff as I can. On a previous
visit last year, I checked out the Smokejumper base at Missoula MT and had
a great time - thanks guys, this time I have plans to visit NIFC at Boise
ID and the Fire Lookout Museum at Spokane WA and as much other stuff as I
can. I would also like to check out and photograph USFS, BLM and anybody
else's wildland engines, and also swap wildland fire patches. If any of
you guys have any tips or leads here they would be much appreciated.
Take Care -
Hi Peter, thanks for the kudos. I'm sure some readers can make some
||Well all my apps are out (USFS, NDF,BLM, BIA and 2 small local agencies
here in NV). Now all I have to do is sit and wait. Not my strong point!
LOL I guess I will just have to put my extra energy into training for the
pack tests that will be coming my way!
Just a school to add to the 2 yr link...mine:)
They have the brand spankin' new Regional Training Center for police,
structural fire & wildland fire. Awesome teachers and good classes!
Again THANK YOU!
||With the talk of training, there is a need for new communications
technicians in the Forest Service and BLM. The only way to get your foot
in the door is to go thru the CO-OP program at NIFC or have military
The program at NIFC involves being a second semester student in the
electronics program at Boise State University or ITT also in Boise. After
classed you have a part time job at the radio shop at NIFC, www.nifc.gov/nifctour/nirsc.phpl.
Then in the summer you get a full time detail to a Forest or BLM district.
after you get your associates degree they will help place you in a
Give NIFC a call and ask for the radio cache for more info.
They have problems keeping people in that some of the students just use
the program to have a part time job until they graduate then leave for
more pay at Micron or HP, or they don't want to leave Boise. In the FS you
have the possibility of going from a GS-2 to GS-11 in 6 years. The problem
with the techs on Forest is that they are leaving to other agencies for a
higher grade level or to the private sector for more pay. Also in 5 years
about 50 percent of the GS 11s are eligible for retirement.
||Old Fire Guy,
After the 30 mile fire investigation(s) "revelations" about
firefighter and overhead fatigue being the major contributing factors to
these and other firefighter fatalities doesn't it make sense to have SOs'
attention focused on the time sheets and conditions in camp as a way of
preventing a similar tragedy in the future? Not just the line crews
either! If overhead is not thinking clearly due to fatigue it puts far
more people at risk than if a crew boss is suffering from lack of
I submit that the single most useful thing an SO can do is make sure
that everyone is getting adequate rest and quality sleep. This may include
providing a place for night crews to sleep away from the bustle of the
main camp, or "suggesting" that the IC take a power nap. (I'd
pay to see that!) Maybe simply placing the sleeping area of camp far
enough away from the caterers reefer trailers and generators could prevent
the next fatality. But SOs need to be empowered to do this and I don't
think they currently are. I think they have always concentrated on the
line because they don't feel free to scrutinize overhead or make major
changes in what may exist when they show up for duty at an extended attack
and they could probably do more good back in camp than on the line if they
did. I don't mean that as a slam on SOs...as long as we have fatalities we
need more effective SOs and we can't have that if we don't cooperate. They
are our version of an OSHA inspector except they do not have the
independence to demand changes to unsafe conditions that an OSHA inspector
would have on a private business. Maybe this should be changed as well.
Punishing a crew for not working safe only encourages them to become
less cooperative with the SOs. Wouldn't it be more effective to reward
crews that consistently work safe in some way? Private industry tried
(briefly) the former in the 1950's with dismal results...and adopted the
latter ever since simply because it works. It is sadly ironic that in a
business as safety oriented as ours our SOs have less clout than in other
less inherently dangerous workplaces and are too often reduced to the
status of roving nitpickers on the line while these simple to implement
proven strategies for safety go essentially unimplemented back in camp.
Vicechairperson MWFA (Minnesota)
||Old Fire Guy-
The "Taking Care of Our Own" session sounds like a good piece of
someone's part. Who was responsible for that? Can you tell us more?
||Here are the daily notes floating among the forests in R3-- from RT
how dry is it? so far---it is so dry
you get the picture---see attached!
rain portends busy fire season
days fan fears of fiery summer
burn 1,800 acres in S. Ariz.
||I just put up a lot of nice photos from northeastern Washington
state. Check the Fire 9 and Fire
10 pages, the Crew 4 and the Air
Tanker 4 pages. Cape Labelle, convection, lightning tree. Some fine
photos of big flamage on Fire 10 and a nice PBY photo on the Air 4 page.
Thanks to J. Foster for the contributions. Ab.
||Last week I was in Phoenix attending an interagency session called
Care of Our Own" which focused on training participants in how to
an on-the-job employee fatality (firefighting emphasis). Leaders of
investigation teams, supervisors, trauma psychologists, and (most
important) a panel of surviving family members led us through this
exercise. We heard stories of horrific treatment of family members,
insensitivity, and plain dumbness. We left with a better understanding of
the coordination needed to ease family members pain, and a profound hope
that we never get the chance to implement the training.
When might it be needed? The next time a crew is out there "getting
work done" and disregarding the 10 and 18. It's the common thread in
fatalities and it is literally killing us.
Oldguy: Thanks for your suggestion of resolving on the spot. It may
indeed be better than risking pulling a crew off the line. That's why I
asked for feedback.
CDF Mike: If complying with safety is "keeping us from doing our
job".....God protect you and your crew.
Old Fire Guy
||Hows it going ?
Mellie I was reading your submission in regards to wildland programs
being offered and its great to see your enthusiasm to help others. I dont
mean to be disrespectful by any means but In regards to the JAC program,
is some more information you might want to pass on. I just recently
the advanced academy and at this time the administration is unable to
college credits upon completion. This was not a big issue for some of the
people, but for others who were depending on the twenty four credits which
were promised in the contract to finish certain degrees, it was like a
Not to discredit the program, I thought it was great and, for any one
interested in attending it ,you can expect to get most all the training
some of the top people in the fire world. Also it really speeds up the
training process, which for some areas of the country it would take alot
than two years to get all of these courses offered.
One of the courses that stood out the most for me was the class offered
by the people at MCS. Fireline Leadership . It is a course that finally
deals with the "HOW" instead of the "WHAT" in regards
to leadership . With
most all the people who attend the academy, once you're done, your forest
district will probably be pushing you into some kind of supervision role
the concepts you learn in this class will help you throughout your career.
Probably the most asked question I get from perspective attendants is how
hard are the PT's ? I can tell you, you better be ready to do some
Many of the crew bosses that you might be assigned too are either shots or
smokejumpers. So it doesn't hurt to be in shape when you get there. Cause
their going to push you.
Well thats all I have to say about that.
I just wanted to thank you for this great web site. I work for CDF.
I am telling other firefighters about how cool this site is. I really
the great photos!!!! Thanks again
Welcome, FireFighter Crowe. The crowd here has sent in a lot of nice
I can only speak for my Forest in regards to the Apprentice Academy. To
get picked-up for the Apprentice Academy first you have to apply, and
that's for seasonals who want to make the U.S. Forest Service a career. We
usually open it up in September to all 1st year thru 10 year seasonals.
The Forest generally has a number of Apprentices they want to pick up for
the up coming Academy depending on the needs of the Forest and
availability of spaces allotted to the Forest.
Once picked for the Academy, the candidate must go through a physical
and a drug test before they attend. If they fail to do this then they will
be scratched from the program. They also go through an orientation before
they attend where they will order their uniforms and fill out the required
The candidate goes through the Basic Academy first which lasts a month.
The following year they go through the Advanced Academy and graduate at
the end. As you go through this process, you earn college credit for the
classes you attend which can go towards your AS degree. When I went
through the Academy, the College through which we received credit was
Hanford out of Salinas. Most of the classes you get are S-classes ie,
S-131, S-290, S-230 and a host of others.
This is just a brief statement on how the process works. I know I'm
leaving stuff out.
College: Our local College offers a State Certified Firefighter 1
Academy and host of other fire tech. classes. It also offers a wildland
fire degree. You should have them on your links page (allan hancock
college). As some of readers can attest, when you come to the Vandenberg
Training Center you are filling paper work for the College to get College
credit for the classes you are attending.
Hope this helps out,
||Since nobody else is biting on Fedfires' hint that
SCBA discussion might get interesting, here goes:
(keep in mind that as of right now, modules on my
forest that were 7-day last year are going to be 5-day
this year due to funding, and BLM is spending their
share of MEL on SCBA's)
1. Has anybody, anywhere, EVER responded to a car
fire and actually prevented a total loss??
2. It's SOP on my forest to respond to dumpster fires
with enough water to flood (not fight) the fire. Is
it on yours?
3. If we're so willing of late to "disengage" from a
fuels/weather/topography situation that is hairy, why
can't we "disengage" from a burning car/dumpster/house
and fight fire when/if the veg. catches on fire? Oh
wait, you say, we might run the risk of the veg. fire
getting out of hand. Well, think back to all the times
you "backed off" of a bee's nest, a snake den, a
cultural resource, a barrel of mystery goo, etc. What
makes a motor home so different? What about the last
time some joker touched off a slash pile in August?
Didn't you back off from the radiant heat to a safe
distance and put your line in there?