MARCH  2002


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03/31 Hey Pulaski,

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 jugs.-good stuff!

03/31 Welcome to AZ, Sky!!!! There are a lot of opportunities in AZ in wildland
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 get
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.

03/31 Riley-

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,

Jersey Boy

Go to the links page under training. Ab.

03/31 Pulaski
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.
03/30 Hi Ab,
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.

03/30 Katy Fay, 

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 them. 

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. 

03/30 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!
03/30 The Jobs Page, Series 0462 and 0455 are updated. Ab.
03/30 I would like to take a minute to reply to Rileys comments about wildland vs
structural..I may be a bit behind the power curve here on comments but past
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
03/30 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! <smooch>

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.

03/30 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 similar
project. In my world we have various portable pumps & chain saws that use
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 I
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 product
for all your equipment using a mixed fuel with this product. Additionally I
have talked to a logger that says he has used Husqvarna "XP-Premium" 2
stroke engine oil with a universal 50-1 mix is all his saws, brush cutters,
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 to
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 to
operate successfully and safely. -enough said-

03/30 Hello,
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. 
Katy Fay
03/30 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.


03/30 Lo Ab.
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 responses. LOL
Be Safe
Later Eric PW
03/29 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.

03/29 Hey 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 Ca!

03/29 hey anr5er
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. 


03/29 Hey Ab,

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.

  • 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 yards)
  • 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)
MY point is that there are many FS who are well rounded firefighters with more skills than cutting line.

Rocky Mountain

03/29 Fires in Arizona. Link from Firescribe. Author is Judd Slivka.

Wildfires break out in E. Ariz. 

In NorCal in the deaths of Lars and Larry, the legal process against the alleged arsonists continues.

Arson = Murder? 

03/29 Boot lacing
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 either.

Mellie's comments
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.


03/29 RX Fire:

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 next time.

Another CDF BC
03/29 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.

MOC4546 (moc4546@cncnet.com)

03/29 Riley,
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.
03/28 Hey Ab,

I've been meaning to get that leadership reading list that I mentioned to you,
but it's been one thing and another and I only have a xerox copy, but give me
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 situations
which doesn't have much to do with the budget. But let's stretch our thinking
a little bit farther than that - budget cuts do compromise the public's
safety. Less money means fewer crews, less prevention, less hazard mitigation
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 rural
and volunteer fire departments. The FS awards grants to communities for
protection projects. If budget cuts trash those programs, things will be less

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 steps
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 one.
03/28 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!
03/28 To Riley:
If you think it's a piece of cake, come and try to keep up. "And that's all
I'm going to say about that"

To Strider:
Check www.Nicksboots.com they have the lacing pattern I think you're talking

03/28 Strider
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
located at?

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.

03/28 Strider's probably asking about the no-bite lacing, or 2-1-3 lacing,
which is here:
Works like a charm, too.
03/28 Riley

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.


03/28 Howdy Stider,
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!!
03/28 There's a special kind of lacing pattern for boots that someone showed me
last summer on the Star fire. It worked well for me, kept my boots laced up
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.


03/28 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.

03/28 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 nothing.

  • 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.
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.

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.

Thanks. CAFSman

Nicely put, CAFSman. Couldn't have said it better. Ab.

03/28 **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.

Good luck.

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.

03/28 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 one
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 (that's
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.


03/28 Ab,
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.
Thanks Ab,
03/28 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?
03/27 Hi all-

I just received info on two links relating to wildland & other firefighter
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
www.colorado.edu/hazards/ . 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
information sometimes.

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!

Thanks, trouble.
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.

03/26 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

03/26 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 go
regional about class A uniforms for Forest Service? Since R5 does have
a Honor guard. All perm employees should have Class A's.


03/26 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 not agree.

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 process.

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 University. Ab.

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.


03/26 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.

03/26 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 for
you. Just a short answer will suffice. Thank you for your time-


Readers, any short answers for Maggie? Ab.

03/26 Facilities:

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 know
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 was
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 because
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 safety
altho not fire safety.

Sign me
Living in a slum during fire season.
03/26 From Firescribe:

White House under pressure from Congress releases wildfire money

Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives

03/26 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 people.

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 training.


03/26 For Mollysboy,

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.


03/25 Random Thoughts

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 info source.

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 exists.

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


03/25 Anybody heard anything about an entrapment in Tennessee??

03/25 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 real.

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.


03/25 Mellie:

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".

03/25 Thanks for the clarification Old Fire Guy. You are right on how Safety should work.
But the lack of FS accountability on cost pools and Primary Purpose Rules suck.
03/25 From Firescribe, a slew of Articles on SW Fire:

And lots more on the wildlandfire.com news page. Ab.

03/25 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.

03/25 Mellie, Here's some info on the Fire Funding for AZ. It's less than last year.

Fire Funding totals for Arizona national forests


03/25 Mellie:
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 tapping into
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 do"
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, retardant.....or
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
is not.

Old Fire Guy
03/25 Ab,
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 securely inside.

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 some day.

Stay safe!

03/24 K,
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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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 safety issue.)
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.
  • 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 to hear.

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 touch?

03/24 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 help?


03/24 RE: "cutter"topic

"..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?

03/24 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.

03/24 Ab,

Lots of discussion of 30 mile lately. We have read the reports. Lots of
accusations on "They Said," some very serious. Speculation on what the
crew/crew boss should have/or did not do. What we have not heard, other than
in the report, is what happened from the surviving crew members. Why did he
or she do what they did? What was their perception of the fire and how it was
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?....... I,
like many others have lots of questions I would like to ask, to help me
better understand.

I assume that they are most likely not "talking" under direction from an
attorney or FS Management, until all the issues are address and OSHA and the
WO accept the final report and mitigation measures.

03/24 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 surrounding environment.

Stay Sharp,
LaPorte rd. Saw

03/24 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
03/24 Hello All,
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!!!
Squad Boss1

Right on. He does have a wildland firefighter's turn of phrase... and as always, cuts to the essential... Ab.

03/24 LaPorte Rd Saw,

When you say "cutters" are you talking about brush or timber? (Out of
curiosity, are you from Indiana, California or Texas?)

03/24 Article about Krs from the Lexington Herald-Leader by Andy Mead:

Finding a new way of life

Another one by Andy Mead about the arson fires in KY.

Region has a history of setting fires


03/24 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 "DUH."

Enough for now, thanks for the forum.

West P.

03/23 R5er--

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 crewmen.

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.
The Quill.

03/23 Hi Ab,
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 Shackleton
and His ship the "Endurance". If you have been through the fireline
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 close.
This is an excellent example of quality leadership, check it out.
03/23 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

03/23 NorCalTom asked for clarification on a Dana Post about "top management"
and safety concerns. I'll second that. Dana also wrote about "the
misplaced priorities of the WO which make safety a lower priority than
budget concerns."

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.

03/23 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 real sleep.

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~

03/23 Hey all: I know it's perhaps a bit premature, but I saw that NOVA is doing a
show on fire this spring, according to their promo literature it seems it is
going to revolve around the 2000 season, following the Arrowhead IHC around.

The show is set to air on 7 May, and the website will be up around 30 April
at: www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/fire/


Please remind us closer to the date when it's gonna be shown. Thanks. Ab.

03/23 Dana,
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.

NorCal Tom

Ab just corrected the spelling. Thanks.

03/23 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.

Later, Dave

03/23 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.

03/23 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 own good?

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.

West Posting,
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.


03/23 Hello Everyone->

I received a call from Andy Mead of the Lexington Herald-Leader today- He says the
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.

03/23 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.

Never out distance your escape route protection.
Never commit to a foot race that has no options,
No room for error.


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
of shift,
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
03/23 Hello all,

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?

03/23 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.

03/23 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 chance.

I look forward to seeing some good applications on the next round.

Mike Benefield
Fire Operations Specialist/ Unit Aviation Officer
Burns Interagency Fire Zone
(541) 573-4330.

03/23 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.

03/22 About leadership...

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 mentoring
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 develop
leadership in ourselves and others through mentoring and example.

BLM and the Forest Service (I believe) have been contracting with an outfit
called Mission Centered Solutions (303 646-3700) to put on a one-week class
called "Fireline Leadership." The class focuses on the leadership issues that
people encounter is high-risk environments where stress and time pressures can
affect leadership and result in loss of life. We have been putting engine
crew overhead, hotshots, helitack, and jumpers through the training, and it is
very well received and highly regarded by the participants. I'm making sure
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 it's
worth it. Look into it, and see if you can't get yourself and your people into
it. BLM allows credit for S-301 to people that complete Fireline Leadership.
I'm told that a leadership course for FMO types is available soon.

Good books on leadership are available through sources like Amazon or Barnes
and Noble. Check out "The Leadersip Moment" by Michael Unseem - he discusses
the Mann Gulch disaster from a leadership standpoint. Everyone that reads
this web site should be familiar with all the accident and incident reports
("lessons learned") that are available on the web and talk about them with
people at work.

Read human factors writings by about fires by Ted Putnam (Findings From the
Wildland Firefighters Human Factors Workshop, and The Collapse of
Decisionmaking and Organizational Structure on Storm King Mountain) and Karl
Weick (The Collapse of Sensemaking in Organizations: The Mann Gulch Disaster).
Diane Vaughn gave a paper to one of the IHC workshops on how the Challenger
disaster can give valuable lessons on firefighting - find it and read it and
discuss 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 owe
it to ourselves and each other to take those steps. You just have to set it
as a goal, and pursue it. Not too long ago, a BLM State FMO who thinks a lot
about leadership put together an interesting leadership reading list, and if
people here are interested, maybe we can get it on-line somehow.

The important thing is to take responsibility for developing leadership skills
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 affiliates. Ab.

03/22 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.

-Jersey Boy

03/22 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 fireservice.

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 leadership skills?

Do you send a kid to the JACT Academy for accelerated training and job placement?

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 second fire.

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.

03/22 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....


03/22 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 info@cpf.org.

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.

03/22 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 they
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.


03/22 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 "management".
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 monitor
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
play safe!
03/21 Ab,
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 Postings 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 Guys 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 dont buy the fatigue + strange s**t = incinerated fire fighters equation and I know most of your posters and lurkers probably dont either.

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 prevent it.

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 again, ever.


03/21 Abinezers and all, I would like to try something a little different here. I
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 discussion
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 is
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 hours
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.

Dan Fiorito
Union IHC Supt.

This is a good use of time and space. This is the website of the groundpounder, after all. Ab.
03/21 FYI. See attached agency memo from Jeff Scussel, acting National Wildfire Safety Officer.

/s/ KC
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 the effort!

If you have any questions, please give me a call. Ed will be back to work in Boise next week.

Jeff Scussel   jscussel@fs.fed.us
Acting National Wildfire Safety Officer

Condolences to family and friends. Ab.
03/21 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 here,
and quite often glean some very valuable info on what's going on in the fire
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 transport
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 sure
what you're looking for in the way of pictures, but you're more than welcome
to e-mail me at mtndv8@yahoo.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 a
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) community.
Maybe I can give back a little of what I received...?

Sincerely; mtndv8

Appreciate the thanks, mtndv8. Ab.

03/21 Radiogirl,

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 agencys 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 isnt 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 nave and ask someone to explain it to them. Often times, people just dont care about the other agencys 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 dont 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 its just an exercise in trying to get along and create a good working atmosphere. Bottom line is that you cant change your agencys procedures to please another agencys 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 wont 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, Id bet any amount of money that they could not tell you. And Ill 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.

Ive 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

03/21 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 Jefferson
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.
03/21 Loved the photos on your site. Check out the Cape Cod brushbreakers at
capecodfd.com. They are a little different from most wildfire apparatus and
you might find them interesting.
03/20 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

03/20 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.

03/20 Looking for Basis FF training (S-110/130/190), weekends only (F/Sat/Sun),
any agency, in western US.

03/20 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 mouths over.

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 results.

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.


03/19 ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

Greetings All,

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.


` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

03/19 -Radiogirl

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 company operations.

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 big headache?

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 of separation.

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 another.

Thanks for the space

03/19 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
positive reinforcement.

03/19 Hey, Ya'll,

Just want to remind you to visit Krs Evan's website, and catch up on our injured, but healing, Plumas Hotshot.

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.

03/19 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.

03/19 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.


03/19 Wanting to Sleep Better and others involved in the thirty mile discussion,

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 explanation.

I hope all who fight fire will have a chance to read this important paper. Ab, could you link to it again?

R6 Michael

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.

03/19 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 match?

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 interagency.

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 the best??

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.


03/19 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."

West Posting.

03/18 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.


03/18 Ab,
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.

03/18 Dana and DF, thanks for speaking up on the safety discussion about "30 Mile".

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.

03/18 They said,

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?

03/18 DF,
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. Ab.

03/18 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.

03/17 My name is Carlos Gomez and Im a forestfire fighter. Here you are some photographs of forestfire in Spain. Enjoy it. =

Juan Carlos Gmez Vidal.

Put em up on the AirTanker 4 and Helo 6 Photo pages. Ab.

03/17 To David;
I have some pictures of Viveash. Are you David Old from Old Wood? You Can email me at rmmcgee@jps.net.

Ab. thanks for the link.
03/17 David-
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.

Good Luck-
03/17 Is this online article suggestive of things to come?

Firefighting 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 being
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 management
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? We've all
heard of these things happening. Seems to me that safety against contractor
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
blacklisted themselves.

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 the
fan this season. Anybody in washington maintaining Situational Awareness
on this one?

All I know is that if bad crews exist and fire season gets bad, they will be
used. What's the saying, "We don't need bad crews until we need 'em real

Feeling gagged and frustrated in R6
03/17 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.

03/17 Dear Sir,
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 fire.
Let me know, would you please!
Best regards,


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 3. Ab.
03/16 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 of
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.

03/16 From Firescribe, Missoulan.com article on update on money for fire:

White House Releases Wildfire Money
03/15 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.

Later, Dave
03/15 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 and
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 head
down, loose their Situation Awareness and die.

Sometimes the dragon wins.
03/15 Hey DF, on that hotshot crew pic, which one are you???


03/15 Ab,

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 one
assigned? Were they assigned and then that part was considered not important
or too controversial? Is there nothing to learn by looking at human factors?

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 of
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 on
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!!!!

03/15 SoCalCapt,
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 members only.

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.

Dana Linscott


Wow..I am impressed.
God not only takes the time to post...she "loves" the site.

I am still chuckling.....

03/15 RxFire:

Six months by my calendar.


PS: Ab, love the website.

Haw, haw. Ab.
03/15 Dave,
If I may answer your 2nd question with a question of my own to you... How long has there been lightning?

03/14 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.
Later, Dave
03/14 I would just like to say good luck to the members of the FWFSA who are going
to Washington this weekend. I hope our letter writing helped out.

03/14 Here is a photo of Idaho City, Union and Arrowhead IHC's at the Prineville
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.
03/13 Greetings All,

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 benefits!


03/13 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.

03/13 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.


Gerald W. Williams, Ph.D., Historical Analyst
USDA Forest Service
Washington, D.C.

(With contributions by William Reed, Boise NF, Sandra Morris, Region 1, and Henry T. Lewis)

03/13 G'Day

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
Chris 13-3-02

03/13 Hi all-

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 CA.

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...

03/12 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 unforgiving.

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. (Emergency Worker).

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.


03/12 Hi,

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.

03/12 Dana,

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.


03/12 From Firescribe:

Here's some info out of Washington:
Lawmakers, White House clash over wildfire funds

03/12 Gordon,
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?

Dana Linscott

03/11 Hi All,

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 abercrombie@wildlandfire.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.


03/11 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 event.

Tahoe Terrie

03/11 Cody,

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?


03/11 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.


03/11 riley>

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.


03/11 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 tools.

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 patients safe.


03/11 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?


03/11 -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 being proposed?

Thanks again for the time and space,

03/11 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!

03/10 MOC4546,
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 fwfsa@fwfsa.org


03/10 Something else to consider on PTP:

How much money are you going to make sitting at home after being replaced by
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.

03/10 Hi Cody,
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 camps?
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.


03/10 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. Thanks!

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.


03/10 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 put in.

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 camps?

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 redundancy.

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.


03/09 Norcal Tom,
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 coordination.
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.
03/09 Hi,
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.

03/09 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!!!!


03/09 We updated the Jobs Page, Series 0462 and 0455.

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.


03/09 Sting,
Is the fire behavior on your Sage/Aliso RX, a bit extreme for this time of year?
NorCal Tom

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.

03/09 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.

03/09 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 other places.

I hope you can help me or could direct me to someone who could. Thank-you for your time.
03/08 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 representatives.

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 our legislation.

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.

Your name
Your address

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 abercrombie@wildlandfire.com.


03/08 Ab:
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 NICE".

Good Luck

03/08 backburnfs
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.
03/08 Hi All,

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 with them:
Hey There,
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.
Dear 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.
Hi gang,
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.

03/08 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.

03/08 Here's the info for announcing the Refresher Website.

Refresher Website 2002.

03/07 Ab:

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.

Valdo Calvert
Fire, Aviation, and Safety Program Manager, Huron-Manistee National Forests.

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.

03/07 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.


03/07 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.

03/07 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

03/06 Big A,

Ive 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, Id 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 dont 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.

Good luck!
- IA Dispatcher
03/06 to backburnfs

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.

03/06 <From Firescribe:
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 diversified.

R-1 Engine Guy
03/06 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 resting?
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 it happen.

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?


03/06 In regards to FED FIRES post rewriting the GS(081)classification standards.

Rumor has the re-write committee has a final draft of the classification
standards. It is basically designed to give firefighters 1 upgrade above the
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 Federal
Wildland Firefighters because they are not GS(081) Firefighters. The
standard does currently, and will continue to address Structural, Wildland,
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 !

03/06 Hi all
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 have
completed all the given tasks in a task book you turn it in for certification.
The committee decides whether the trainee is capable of performing the
position. They either ok the certification or deny it and request additional
trainee assignments.
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.
Big A
03/06 Gee Firescribe, there sure seems to be no lack of white males running the fire service. What are you saying?

03/05 Backburnfs posted:
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 rate today?
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

03/05 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?

Thanks much,
R-1 Engine Guy
03/05 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
eric PW
03/05 To all,

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 out.

Good luck to all.
R-5 recruiter

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. Ab.
03/05 MAC
I was referring to the departments that hire 0081series firefighters instead
of the 0455, 0462 series range / forestry techs. These are primarily
Department of Defense installations but the National Park Service, Veterans
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 hours
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 engine
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 series
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 asked. Besides
lots of the 0081 departments do a good deal of wildland too, so I guess it is
not completely off topic. San Diego Federal, Camp Pendleton, Ft. Hunter
Liggett, Ord Military Community, Vandenberg in CA and Ft Huachuca in AZ all
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 going
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

03/05 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 page. Ab.

03/05 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.

Series 0462 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 jobs.

OK, done. Ab.

03/05 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 work involved!

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.

03/05 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 answer?
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
rate today?


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.

03/05 Just Wondering:
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 are
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?????
Good luck.

03/05 Fedfire-
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?...
03/05 Hi!!
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.
Thank you!

Shelly DeHaven
Investment Centers of America, Inc.
Libby, MT

Anybody got any and is interested, please let us know. Ab.
03/05 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?

Just Wondering

03/05 From Firescribe:

Judge 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

03/05 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

03/05 Mo-
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.

03/04 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 ratmtent@bentonrea.com.

BC 10

03/04 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.

03/04 Ab,

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.

NorCal Tom

03/04 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!
03/04 This should set the record straight as far as Forest Service prerequisite training and experience for Squad Boss, ICT5, & Crew Boss.

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 training): S-281.

Level 3 Training (May complete recommended training): S-211 & S-216 or agency equivalent.
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 Task Book.

Source: Forest Service Handbook 5109.17, Fire Management Qualifications Handbook (2002 Draft)


Thanks for the follow-up. Ab.

03/04 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.

Johnnys 42.
03/04 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 groundpounders.

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.

03/04 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/ the hard
copy should be available in April.
03/04 SCBA's
Yes I have "saved" vehicles before they became a car-b-que, sometimes you
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 great,
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 need
exists. I know of cases where engines have been in a "safety zone" during
interface operations. Sure the fire didn't get to them but they sucked alot
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 retention
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 agencies
to improve conditions for wildland firefighters. I work with another ex USFS
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 winter
gets old.

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 I
checked all that was required was S130, S131, S190 and I100.

and if I remember correctly Crew boss required the above position plus S205
(now 215? urban interface), S230 and S290.

03/04 Ab, here is an interesting site to view graphically for the current Drought conditions.



Good one. Ab

03/03 Any one know when the new ad5 rates will be out?


03/03 FS Employee and Killer,

I too am going to jump on the band wagon with you guys, but with only one difference.

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...

03/03 Hi All

Just found out that the Interagency Aviation Pages are back up

03/03 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......

03/03 To go along with what "hsfb" asked, what classes are required for Crew

03/03 hsfb,

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.


03/03 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.

03/03 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 conditions.

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.

Be safe
A FS employee

03/03 Hey Everyone,

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?

Mike N
03/03 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 helitacks.

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.

03/03 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!

03/02 Ab,
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.

03/02 socal ff's>>
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 of
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 can
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!
03/01 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

03/01 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 action.

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.


03/01 FATIGUE:

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 -


03/01 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.

03/01 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 Missoula The 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.
03/01 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 trained
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 least get
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 Justice
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
03/01 BehavePlus has been formally released as a national system. Here's a bit more info--

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

03/01 Old Fire Guy wrote:
<<CDF Mike: If complying with safety is "keeping us from doing our
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" safety
officers are a good thing for the Fire Service.

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande.
02/28 I'm going to be in FireChat for a while if anyone else is interested.
02/28 Hi Ab,

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 suggestions. Ab.

02/28 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!

02/28 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 electronic experience.

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 permanent position.

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.


02/28 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 sleep/rest.

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.

Dana Linscott
Vicechairperson MWFA (Minnesota)

02/28 Old Fire Guy-

The "Taking Care of Our Own" session sounds like a good piece of work on
someone's part. Who was responsible for that? Can you tell us more?

02/28 Here are the daily notes floating among the forests in R3-- from RT
Braising Arizona:

how dry is it? so far---it is so dry that.............................well
you get the picture---see attached!

Little rain portends busy fire season

Dry days fan fears of fiery summer

Wildfires burn 1,800 acres in S. Ariz.

02/28 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.
02/28 Last week I was in Phoenix attending an interagency session called "Taking
Care of Our Own" which focused on training participants in how to deal with
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 their
work done" and disregarding the 10 and 18. It's the common thread in all
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
02/28 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, there
is some more information you might want to pass on. I just recently completed
the advanced academy and at this time the administration is unable to award
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 we
were promised in the contract to finish certain degrees, it was like a war.

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 from
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 more
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 or
district will probably be pushing you into some kind of supervision role and
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 running.
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.
Big Amish
02/28 Hello!
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 enjoy
the great photos!!!! Thanks again

FireFighter Crowe

Welcome, FireFighter Crowe. The crowd here has sent in a lot of nice photos. Ab.

02/28 Mellie,

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 paper work.

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,
R-5 Recruiter

02/27 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?

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