June, 2002


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06/30 It is interesting to me to note in both this forum and the national/local press how much outrage is being vented against "the environmentalists" for their presumed fight against "forest thinning", VMP programs, etc., and their supposed culpability in the current siege of fire. First, most "environmentalists", including me, see exactly ONE major cause of environmental degradation, and that is !!!!!<<OVERPOPULATION>>!!!!.

Second, I suspect only a very few have ever fought against forest/fuel thinning. Local Air Pollution Control Districts have often been a problem, but that is a problem with bureaucrats attempting to fulfill their obligations, not environmentalists.

Third, and let me preface this by saying my 32 years of wildland fire experience have been solely in California, so I may be missing some of the nuances of the fire problem elsewhere, "REDUCING THE FUEL LOAD IN WILDLAND AREAS EITHER BY MECHANICAL OR COMBUSTION METHODS WILL NOT WORK". I am reminded of the time I was on-duty one evening at a CDF station in Riverside County, CA. Network TV had just shown a 2-hour movie (B-grade) revolving around a large forest fire. Shortly after it ended the station phone rang. The party at the other end wished to impart to me, as an agent of the state responsible for wildland fire protection, his insight into how to solve the problem. It seems that we have overlooked the obvious option of laying irrigation pipe over all of the wildland, and installing thereon numerous sprinkler heads equipped with fusible links. It is clear, now, that this would pretty much eliminate our wildland fire problem............

But this neophyte with the big brain is no worse than the thousands of people who should know better, including Mr. Pyne (loved his books, and I can only assume that his ivory-tower intellectualism has led him off the path of wisdom), and many professional wildland firefighters. Here is the problem: Take California. It has 100 million acres of wildland. Our Ranger Unit conducts several controlled-(VMP) burns per year. Their average size is about 1000 acres. Each of these VMP burns requires a great deal of our local resources to conduct. Helicopters, engines, Fire Crews, bulldozers, overhead and etc. IF the burn is 100% successful (??) we will have eliminated with each burn an average of one one-hundred-thousandth of California's fuel load. And let's hope those resources weren't needed elsewhere.

But waitaminute. From personal experience, I expect at least one out of ten of these to significantly escape control lines. This can often, with much effort and only minor augmentation of forces already there, and the exhaustion of us poor Fire Crew members, be controlled without anyone elsewhere being the wiser. But a smaller, but still very significant, percentage will escape and run wild, threatening life, property and governmental budgets. All this to eliminate a tiny fraction of the wildland fuel available. I understand that the locations of these control burns can be selected for the greatest possible strategic value, but I maintain that in order to make any significant reduction in California's wildland fire problem via controlled burning involves far greater cost and risk than the public will accept.

And don't even get me started on mechanical means. My very vigorous Crew and I spent an entire summer cutting, stacking and burning five acres of brush. It took four days to burn the piles, and the local Fire Dept. responded twice to situations while I was there that were looking dicey, and then, with another Captain in attendance, a major escape required a full CDF and local Fire response and scared the hell out of the local homeowners.........

Solution? Continue as we are doing, extinguishing to the best of our abilities all wildland fires which will conceivably present a threat to improvements and/or life. Let the timber companies fund fire suppression which threatens their timber. Or (and I support this final option, which has no chance in hell of coming to pass), phase out ALL wildland fire suppression over a period of about ten years, with the exception of commercial timber fires, the suppression of which will be paid for by private timber companies. The public will be warned that they need to provide for their own protection via not building in locations where fire will burn down their home, or to at least reduce the fuel load threatening their homes at their own expense. Meanwhile, existing forces will gradually be shifted entirely to structure protection. At the end of 10 to 15 years, only a minor skeleton crew of fire suppression forces will remain to assist in extraordinary situations.

How'm I doing?

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande

Mike, Here’s a couple of comments from my perspective.

I think I understand how you have determined that overpopulation is the main factor in your arena. As I see it, CDF typically is stationed and has direct protection authority for a majority of the wildland/urban interface as it constantly expands from the urban areas.

Counties failing to consider the impact of the relentless population expansion are those first in line to request the governor to declare a state of emergency so their residents can be eligible for assistance to rebuild in the same fire prone areas at a lower cost to themselves. I’ve seen it a hundred times: when a homeowner whose home has burned to the ground is asked if they will stay and rebuild, they respond that they will.

On your statement regarding you and your crew's seemingly insignificant contributions towards reducing existing fuel loading, I can only say that I would multiply your crew's efforts by the number of others attempting the same and multiply that by 15 years (your arbitrary time frame) of strategic fuel reduction and let's see the results. I am willing to bet they would be much better than you seem to think they would be.

Contrary to your opinion, I have personally witnessed large crowning timber fires stopped and held at areas that had been pre-treated. The most recent was last year. The Battalion Officer in charge of the fire had spent over five years as an engine Captain working on the fuel break. It was quite pleasurable to him to recognize that his five years of apparently mindless, repetitious, seemingly unrewarding work had paid off. As a member of a California Type 1 Team, I have have seen other examples where, not only did the fire die down when it hit a pretreated area, it was predictable that it would do so.

The reduction in existing fuel loads and the effort to modify the vegetation cannot be accomplished, or judged in short term, narrow perspectives. The reality of how long it took to change and produce our existing vegetation versus the reality of how long it may take to revert to a thinner status is unknown. Most likely won’t happen in my lifetime.

Your thoughts of ignoring history, fundamental biology and projecting only timber producers become responsible for fires fails to demonstrate a deeper understanding of forested areas. They provide not only lumber, but contain cities and towns that are and have been places of residence for several hundred years, they contain parks and wildernesses, they offer vacation areas for skiing, fishing, camping, reflecting and boating.

There are no structures in many of the above areas, but most exhibit symptoms of poor land management in the past. Let’s lengthen the time line of your ideals and concepts to a hundred years or more before we abandon our immediate needs for the health of forests and parks that we have fought so long and hard to obtain.

Original Ab.

06/30 Why are we bringing personnel from Australia & New Zealand? Canada does not count because they are our neighbors!!! We help them all the time and they help us all the time, to assist with the fire issues.

There have to be hundreds of fire personnel that have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do the work necessary within the USA. Many of the western departments have personnel that have the wildfire all the time.

I just retired from a wonderful volunteer fire district in Washington that has promoted and facilitate the training and learning to do many of these jobs, yet only a few of them have been "ordered as resources". Is not there a national training tracking system to know is out there to pull into the incident? Why not have Congress or the President allow these personnel go to the fires with the blessing of their bosses and companies to get the fire out? Two years ago, it was allowed to let the college students show up late because of the late run of fires without penalty, maybe it is time to do this sort of thing again.


06/30 Mudd Droppers: Air Tankers..
Bees: type four helicopters..

I think of more as I read some from others..

Rotor Heads: Helitack
Helislack: Helitack

Thanks Fightfire75
06/30 Wildland Fire Terms:

Driving for Dollars - The act if driving to or from a fire, when said
driving occurs exclusively or mostly on overtime.

Head Shed - Ones supervisory office. "I need to go have a meeting with the
boss at the 'Head Shed'."

I forgot two of my fav. fire names... In a fire season not so long ago, we
called the first fire of the season the "Ready, Aim Fire", and the last of
that year was the "Cease Fire".

We don't bend them, we don't break them,


06/30 Not Again...

AZ Republic scoop: BIA firefighter admits setting 'Rodeo' fire


Fireball XL5

06/30 The fire folks from Australia, New Zealand and Canada who came to help out in 2000 weren't your regular Pulaski-motor type firefighters: they were all top overhead, and their quals were rigorously compared to 310-1 before they were carded to fill jobs on our IMT's.

I suspect that these are the same types of folks being considered for 2002. Their own complaint: no cold beers in camp at the end of a long shift!


06/30 Re why we have not thinned the forests:

Back from CO for a few days and then off to who knows where... Interesting to hear about fire on the broadcast news, but some things are disappointing - and hard to believe - and make me angry!

Heard (on Fox?) Jay Inslee, congressman from WA (on the Forests and Forest Health Committee) say the environmentalists are not the problem - they have not stopped the Forest Service from using the money appropriated by Congress for the National Fire Plan.

Well, in one sense, maybe he's right - those who are bringing suit and making appeals to block hazard tree removal, etc. are not environmentalists in my mind, they are zealots so in love with their own power and/or so afraid of the government that they are incapable of reason.

"Let it burn." They want no mitigation of thick fuels, no interference of any kind. They, who were yesterday for the spotted owl and snail, don't care that catastrophic fire destroys the soil, leaves no habitat for spotted owl and snails and burns up more timber than can be imagined. Or that catastrophic fire destroys human's interface communities needlessly and can kill people from time to time. Will we be able to lay at their doorsteps the next deaths of the Public or of firefighters, say from an interface fire whose spread could have been prevented with shaded fuel breaks?

Inslee says that the Forest Service is using every penny allocated by Congress. He thinks that more money should be appropriated. Well, we could use more money to get the job done, but...

the unreasonable demands and legal blocks these extreme individuals are getting away with cost TIME, paperwork and taxpayer money in a HUGE way. Many of those "pennies" being used up from our budget for fire are "spent" when fed firefighters who could be doing more thinning or burning or research are instead tied up in researching rebuttals and providing frivolous FOIAs (Freedom of Information Act documents) that these extremist groups have submitted with the express purpose of "tying up" the system. They even have manuals on "How to Get Your Forest Service with a FOIA", for gosh sakes. It's a manipulation of the system, pure and simple. (Da*m, a FOIA is supposed to be a good thing, not a manipulation.)

Abs, I know you don't want to turn this site into a political forum. I don't either - but as many of us, I have seen the destruction from fire and I know how thick our forests are and how a little work, strategically done, could really help. The process of fuel reduction of the National Fire Plan needs to be streamlined. Development of that plan has taken the good scientific work of many intelligent public servants with a lot of Public input and we need to get on with implementing it. Guess I'm pissed at how easily a few radicals and a judge can bring things to a grinding halt... and how readily our congressional representatives say it's not the problem... Guess I'm just needing to vent a little.

Mellie, everyone I know who works in fire - we all consider ourselves environmentalists - bar none. I also have tended to vote Democrat thru the years. Maybe that's why I am seriously disappointed in Inslee's attitude that those who bring suit are not the problem. Sheesh! They are part of the problem and so is the judge!!! Everyone who is not part of the solution is part of the problem. (And IR-1, maybe I have just a touch of smoke inhalation syndrome - symptoms of frustration and anger occurring upon return from the fireline. Good post, that.)

ABs, thanks for all you do including this forum.
Tahoe Terrie

06/30 My guess is that foreign firefighters are being invited for several reasons.

First: We can use their help. This is still the beginning of what promises to continue to be a very long and active fire season. Resources will be low and in some areas already are. Those who are still at home (or find ourselves at home after being out and having a few weeks taste of the good life) probably are "stuck at home" because of local drawdown. At least that's my situation. Some of us need to stand at the ready for any developing local need. In current dry conditions across the West, any fire escaping IA has the potential to become a large fire. Hopefully over the course of the season different crews will share the "home duty".

Second: Having foreign firefighters visit and participate is the best way to educate them to our system of fighting fire (and to learn about how ours differs from theirs). Everyone knows that the PTB/OJT portion of our training is at least as important and perhaps more important than the classroom work. We live in a world on fire. We need to mentor others along and also hear their stories/methods.

NorCal Tom, rarin' to get back to the fireline

06/30 To Hon. Mouse,
Hey there.. I am just curious as why the R6 contracts or not out yet and why
bring ppl from overseas here to fight when we have 200 engines in the
Pacific northwent ready to go.. Lets keep US dollars in the US. I mean yeah
its nice to have support from other countries BUT I must say that we as
contractors are hungry to make money. Yes we have mouths to feed just like
anyone else does. But we are fire fighters too.. SO why not they send us..
If anyone has a idea to share email me at fightfire75@hotmail.com.. I guess
the next step to to email the USDA rep in Wa DC..


PS for everyone who is on a fire, BE Safe I can honestly say shelters saved
my life. August 13th, 2001 I deployed and made it.
06/30 John,

Let us not forget:

"Lawn Darts" = Smoke Jumpers

"Rotor Toads" = Helitack

In regards to classic fire names who can forget the Bald Peter Fire on the Warm Springs Res in '01!?

NV 'yote

Good job on a personalized moniker, you former "Coyote"you. Ab.
06/30 To Fightfire 75 and Aussies Coming:

I also am wondering about importing foreigners when we have people here in the states that are not only ready and willing to go, but also have sizable investments in time, training and money for the occasion.

A few years back AD Fallers in Central CA were hit with having to take the pack test in Aug. during our peak fire season. They even stopped a fellow faller enr. to Wyoming and sent him back until he’d taken the pack test. (Note there was no mention of the pack test in our contracts and the subject had never come up until it "instantly" appeared that year.) With USFS personnel so busy on fires few of us got the opportunity to take the test until after fire season was over so we were "out of business" in two of our peak fire months. ----- Firefighters from Australia and Canada were imported during our "waiting-to-take-the-test" time as well as military personnel.

Although I didn’t like it, I assumed this was political payback on a national scale as both Australia and Canada were pushing for more extreme gun control as was the US Administration at that time. I could see it as a political "you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours" situation.

I can’t even start to guess the what and why of what’s going on here. Puts an unknown meaning to the closing line of EERA contracts that say "Your continued support is greatly appreciated".

The Honorable Mouse.

06/30 Re Gov Davis and CDF:
The question as to whether the augmentation is due to the fire severity or politics, my belief is it is a little of both.

If the Gov were serious about California's Fire Department, He would restore the cuts of the last 25 years to the CDF initial attack system.

And people never thought airliners could be crashed into buildings.....
On a lighter note - John Macleans' request for fire terms:
"The Fellas" or "The Men"...Terms used to describe the CDF inmate firefighters (Orange Herd).

"Hunker" ...Lay down and take it easy on the line (out of sight of course). Two clicks on the HT when the DIVS walks by the point man!

"Red Army" = CDF

"Juice Suckers" ...Base/Camp slugs

"Engine Slugs"...Interchangeable term referencing CDF and/or USFS engine crews. Used of course exclusively by Hotshots and CDF FC'B's of the Orange Herd!

"The Parent Company"...A vintage term used by old CDFer's to describe the USFS.

"Another CDF BC"
06/29 Aussies Coming

I have no hard feeling about them coming over. I am a private contractor
worker and wonder why us ppl up here in Oregon and Washington are not goin..
I don't think it fair for goin out of country. Hey we are fire fighters here
too... I am more than willing to go down and make a few dollars, stay in the
USA. Ab can you find numbers for me to call? And as for S-290 I know you can
get it on the disc. and take it.


We did find an S-290 ppt. As far as numbers to call, needs to be your dispatching unit. Ab.

06/29 I'd like to look at the results of the testing and the comparisons of all of
the fire shelters that were presented to the Federal Fire and Aviation
Leadership Council (FFALC). Can anyone tell me where I can find it?
Thanks, Firefighter Jane

Call any one of the contact people listed at the top of the NIFC News release. You can probably get the info from them. Ab.
06/29 Caught a quick look at a headline this morning. Said Aussies sending
fire crews to Arizona to help with wildfires but first wanted assurances
against any law suits being brought against them, any truth to this?
Sounds like a ripple effect from the Thirty Mile Fire.

06/29 An Aussie torch's day in court:

It's useful to remind ourselves that there are those in our firefighting
community who may be a few bricks short of a load.

Here's an example of Australian justice at work on a despicable series
of arson crimes over the last Christmas and New Year's period:

- JohnA
06/29 Hey Mike, who sent in the question about S-290.
Please contact me. I no longer have your e-mail and someone has written in with info for you.
06/29 Abercrombie

Having had so much fun discussing favorite fire names, how about fire terms? There are lots of fire glossaries on the Internet. But they are short on some of the more descriptive terms: fire virgin, fire weenie, dopes on ropes, and so on (including the memorable acronym for deputy incident commander).
(In the interests of full disclosure, I am trying to put together a glossary of fire terms for a new book, this one of fire stories around the theme of the history of wildland fire.)

Anybody have any favorite terms to share?

John N. Maclean
06/29 Hay Stack Fires:
Having gone to many of these calls in the past 20 years, I have found several truths regarding what to do with them.

1. If the stack is on fire and the wind has blown any smoke into the remaining stack the whole stack is gone as far as use for livestock. they will not eat it at all. (right from the ranchers/farmers mouth)

2. Should you be lucky and have the fire at one end of stack, order the front loader (with cage) or bulldozer (with cage) and go to the middle of stack and have the exposure cut in half.

3. Order twice to three times the amount of personnel you have on scene. (you do not need them now but you will)

4. If, after the dozer has solved the exposure problem and the stack is Not 1/2 or one ton bales, your crews you ordered can now go tear the stack apart down to its basic components. (cut the strings, hand tools to make the whole thing about 6 inches high). Have lots of room for this so you do not put any of the good stack in connection with the bad stuff, ruins the stack again.

5. Be prepared to use lots of water, save the foam, waste of money. You will need a nozzle that can fog and have penetration when needed.

6. In my adventures with these they always seemed to happen at night and I almost always got home at dawn. (Hated them with a passion).

7. Be safe around the dozer, it was usually the farmer's and they are not use to working around large groups of people.

BC Don Zimmerman (ZIMM)

The Jobs Page, Job Series 0462 and Series 0455 Pages are updated. Ab.

06/28 Now here are a couple of fire dogs: Tim from the Marin Co FD and Glen from the Kern Co FD are FBAN and SITL respectively. As part of CIIMT 3, Joe Wood's team, they're scouting the Hensel Fire in Wyoming.

Some nice photos at this fire site. http://wildfires.nwcg.gov/wyoming/hensel/index.shtml after 06/22.


Thanks LAC. You can also get there from the Fire Links, 2002. Ab.

06/28 They Said Folks.

Many thanks the helpful replies re: hay bale - hay stack fires. I can tell I touched a nerve. Glad I’m not the only one that dreads the darn things. --- Hay Bale Fire King and respondent avoidance. I’m practicing my agony snivel and death twitch as I type.( I’m an AD so it’s easier to just "not be available", ...... but why take chances?) --- And Capt. Emmitt as Hay Bale Prince (where can I get more info on the "Magic Water" you spoke of?). ---- Mellie making air drops on "a" hay bale must make her Hay Bale Queen. Mellie, I’ve seen a semi truck load of hay going down the road with a top bale smoking like crazy and about to ignite. Are the flyboys and girls any good at moving targets? -----

Ab, you got a wealth of info on this site. All kidding aside, I for one appreciate the heck out of a source to "talk shop" with people that have probably forgotten more about fire fighting than I’ll ever know. - Hope I can return the favor somewhere down the line. ------- And to Mr/Ms Reason: I’m not real sorry you can’t "get into" the low-technical trivia of hay bale fire info on this fire fighting related site. I do like your idea of Hot Shots with pitch forks though. Are there OSHA approved pitch forks out there?

Thanks again and BE SAFE all, it’s going to be an interesting year.
Honorable Mouse

06/28 Good Morning All - A little opinion piece...

Caught CNN on the western fires this morning before starting my day and was pleasantly surprised by their report. It focused on what thinning and burning do to protect against hot burns and why the Forest Service has not been able to do that due to analysis paralysis, and gridlock court appeals by groups who oppose a particular action or any action. I hope that many Americans are watching. These issues need to be more widely revealed. Too bad it takes environmental catastrophe to get the word out. Colorado and Arizona legislators and governors are asking questions and speaking loudly... GOOD FOR THEM!

One statistic I didn't know but might have guessed is that 40% of the work of FS prior to fire is paperwork. Makes sense, given all the survey and manage and sierra framework, etc etc that CA has to go through simply for brush disposal and Rx burning...

And then there's the constant appeals and court litigation that mean even hazard trees are likely to rot before they can be removed. I'm just waiting for our local Humboldt County environmental group to bring a lawsuit to further slow the work that needs to be done on our northern CA forests. Don't they get it that doing nothing allows us to have the really hot burns that bakes soil and renders wildlands sterile for many years? No habitat for the spotted owl in that ashtray. We need some new Ninth District northern California judges who are willing to educate themselves enough on the fire ecology and fire practices/science to know when and how they are being used by extremists to block worthy action. The shaded fuel break up near Grizzly Camp (Six Rivers NF) knocked the Megram Fire right down. Immediately adjacent to that, however, the forest (formerly 10' diameter fir - LSR) was nuked. Our extremists think that's just fine. No management is good management. Go figure.

I honor our democracy (and still consider myself a liberal, a democrat, and an environmentalist), but sometimes lately I feel we all pay the financial and other costs of the extreme minority who have an ax to grind and know how to use the judges and court system to grind it. What a waste of money, time, and resources!


06/28 Some info on investigations into the Cannon Fire start and the AT crash near Walker:



Links to many more articles on the FireNews page. Give it 20 sec to load the most current search. Ab.
06/28 RE: Fireball XL5 on 06/22: While I agree with the general content of
your warning message, you also said, “Sometimes it's better to do
nothing”. I strongly disagree. Doing “nothing” demonstrates
inexperience, lack of information, preparedness, and leadership.

During an initial attack yesterday, I heard on the radio from the first
engine on scene that they were getting spots behind them and that they
had to pull back until additional units arrived on scene to help protect
them. Pull back is good. Doing nothing is bad.

There is ALWAYS something to do. Find a new anchor, establish a
lookout, preplan communications, secure the ignition point, take weather

Perhaps a poor choice of words on your part.

Always Busy!
06/28 Mike I did a search for S-290 a few months ago with no success.

06/28 Re: Anything to do with hay bales!

Whoaaa there bubba! Good grief, just found myself looking for the radio
dial at 0500 in the am to find out what the price of pork bellies are.
Eeeeesh, slow down with this stuff.

Dig a big hole in the ground, fill it full of water with all those water
carrying resources yer a’hoggin, and use the dozers to push the stacks
in. Cover it up with dirt when yer done and go do a Google search for
the hee haw web site.

What’s next? We gonn’a discuss the flame intensity of dem cornstocks or
da ERCs o’ alfalfa? When’s the last time we put jumpers on them hay
fields? Air tankers? Air attack on a hay bale? Need some Type 1
Crews? Haw, haw, Hotshots with pitchforks!

Ok, I’m done. I’m sure it’s a serious problem in some parts, just not
sure I can get into it on this site.

Hee, hee, let’s call a Type 2 team in.

06/28 Dear Ab, IR-1 and Mellie,
You may have thought "how rude!" You replied promptly to my inquiry and
I didn't even take the time to say thank you. Well, I didn't know you
had responded until a few minutes ago. I had no idea where to look for
the answer! I started playing around with wildlandfire.com again today and
then .. there it was!! THANK YOU!!!!! I think I know my way around now
and will visit you often.
Thanks again.
06/28 Hickman,

Saw that you were at Coal Seam, sorry to have missed you. I was in camp Sit Unit, you were at
the helibase. I think I will end up back in that area soon. IMTs are starting to rotate again.

Battalion Chief Don Zimmerman (ZIMM)
06/27 Ab,

By now most of you know the Cajon Pass (Interstate 15, north of San Bernardino) area is burning again. Fire started yesterday and is now over 6000 acres with no containment, three structures lost, per LA news.

Haystack fires are a pain. Smoke renders the adjacent stack unpalatable for cattle. All the suppression agents I have found, beyond water, will not guarantee the stuff will be safe to feed to anything. The one ton bales seem more prone to spontaneous combustion.

For those interested in what is going on with California's budget, the Governor is reinstating 20 million he had cut from CDF for this year. But the legislature must approve the new budget. The threats of IOU's is back after the state got a court ruling saying that government employees should understand that if no budget is passed, there is no money to pay you. The employee association is trying to get the legislature to pass emergency funding so people can keep food on their tables and roofs over their heads.

Be safe, summer has a long way to go and the live fuel moistures in a big chunk of the west, are record breaking low (Home Depots lumber is wetter than most live (?) trees. Safety is going to big our biggest job this year. LCES, 10's, 18's, and tailgate briefing need to be priorities.


06/27 Hay that's been doused with fire retardant of any kind is useless for
dairy or cattle herds. Bust the bales, spread them and water them down.
Make sure the dairyman/rancher knows that there may be some
contamination to the wetted hay from past use of the equipment.
06/27 I always call in the air tankers for a hay bale fire, or my Norwegian cousins. <smerk>

I won't tell you what they called me!
06/27 Mouse,
Class A foam set at about 1% will do the trick. Also see if the
farmer/rancher/dairyman has a hay-squeeze available to him. If you have to
bust the stack, I suggest ordering a 2nd alarm for staffing to get the job
done ( many hands make light work) Also, the product "Magic Water" works
just dandy for these type fires. I'm not sure I would let a stack burn, it
is a very valuable commodity to that farmer/rancher/dairyman. You also
should plan on an extended commitment, depending on the length and height of
the stack, in some of our station's first in areas, they have dairy farms
with huge stacks, some 50 to 100' long and 15 or 20' high or more. All of
our engines and water tenders carry hay hooks because of the ag nature of
the county, one station this year has had 6 hay stack fires!!

Hope this helps,
Captain Emmett
06/27 To the Honorable Mouse,

I've got to agree with Pulaski and say that when called to a hay fire if you can get out of it that would be the thing to do. I've had to fight way more than I can count and the best thing is to cut out what can be salvaged and stir what must be burnt. By far the wildest one that I've been on was a lightning strike into a hay trap that conservatively contained about 4,000 #1500 round bales we ended up sitting with it for 6 days with 5 plows, 4 VFD's with an estimated 14 tenders and brush trucks and the rancher's 3 loaders that were utilized extensively. We had to position a brush truck with every tractor and ensure that no brands started the tractors on fire. Even with those precautions we had to put out dozer fires 6 different times.

We had another that only contained about 20 bales and the owner didn't want us to spend the time or materials to sit there and watch them all night so I ended up taking a dozer and stirring them until they broke up and then buried the ash.

Stay safe, Keith

Since Pulaski is the Hay Bale King then I must just be a lowly prince.

06/27 anyone know where the s-290 course in online?
06/27 Hey Abs and the gang,

Just got back from the Hayman fire as a FOBS, I am
excited to see that ABC News picked up on the 8000
acre RX burn that was done on the north east side of
the fire. It basically ran out of steam when it got to
the burn - Imagine that!

Also there was a lumber mill that had done
considerable thinning on the east flank and guess
where the fire laid down when it came ripping (and I
do mean ripping) over the ridge?.

Hopefully prescribed fire will be front page news (and
I don't mean like los Alamos) as this fire season

center coordinator for the National Interagency
Prescribed Fire Training Center, Tallahassee FL

PS Check out our website for training opportunities
this winter. http://fire.r9.fws.gov/pftc

We have that one on the links page under training if you do want to find it this winter. Ab.
06/27 Mouse, Having unfortunate assignments to many hay bale fires here is my # 1 ROT: -if you are aware that is it a hay bale fire before you leave the station, do everything in you power to avoid having to respond...twist your ankle on the way out the door, feign death, what ever it takes!!

OK, with that out of the way...and you are stuck going... here is my tried and true methods of engagement (typically I am dealing with the large round bales ~5ft dia and ~5ft long sitting in farm fields)
#1- Look the situation over before you do anything, if you come in spraying water you may screw yourself in the long run and end up being stuck there longer (obviously if its really cooking and next to a building or something you have no choice).
#2- Separate any bales not on fire far away from the burning ones or suspected burning ones (hopefully the land owner is on hand and has a tractor set up to move bales, otherwise your are in deep doo doo from the start if there is a pile of bales stacked together).
#3- If you can, separate the burning stuff/parts from the unburned. Give yourself as much space a possible for the "hot" pile, You need to be real careful as the smallest hot spot can go undetected and get into your "cold" pile and ruin your day.
#4- Now, look at amount that is burning, if it is not much and you have time on you hands, letting most of it burn out may be the quickest way to deal with it. If you decide to let much of it burn out, you will need to help it along by fluffing it up to let oxygen get to the inner parts of the hot pile.
#5- If you have decided to put it out, now it the time to start applying water/foam (any class A works). Spread the burning hay out as much as possible, use mechanized equipment if needed and available. Otherwise, Mclouds, pitchforks work great, Shovels and pulaskis suck. Keep in mind fluff-spray-spread, fluff-spray-spread. When you think it is all out...do it all over again.

The key is the decision to let it burn out or try to put it out right away or let it burn up. I have found that unless it is a very small fire in one bale, it is much quicker to let as much of it burn up (after you have separated) as possible before putting a drop of water on it.

As for protecting them from spot fires, I have seen large hay bale piles covered with plastic to help protect it from rain but depending on the size of fire brands it probably isnt going to help much in preventing ignitions.

ok, thats about it...for what I know.
You have my greatest sympathy

Pulaski - the hay bale fire king

06/27 thanks Islander,

exactly what i was looking for.

Stay Safe
06/27 MNFF,
The only thing I can add to Islander's list would be some Immodium AD. It
comes in real handy when the MRE's hit you!!
06/27 MNFF

Here is the list I give to my engine crews for 14 day assignments. This assumes, though, that you get laundry service where you're going. If you're flying in, you may not get to take as much, but don't short yourself.


Islander's List for Mobilization
06/27 Hi All

I’m wondering if there is a particular technique or retardants for extinguishing fires in baled hay - or for that matter loose stacks. In particular is there any preparations a stockman can make to protect haybarns and haystacks from spot fires ? In experiments I’ve found "wet water" was a help but you still needed to gouge out the burning hay as it would often re-ignite given a little time.

The Honorable Mouse.
06/27 FYI

Noon day report: San Bernardino Forest {BDF} has had 4 class D fires since June 3rd in the Cajon Pass area of the Forest for a total of 18,000 acres. This figure include the in-progress Incident named Louisiana burning on both sides of the pass @ this time.

06/27 From Firescribe: Could the nation finally be waking up to what it needed to manage fire on the interface?

Little Fires to End Big Fires (opinion)

Fight Fire With Fire (opinion)

Prescribed Burns Pay Off (good management as a result of the National Fire Plan)
06/27 Hello Ab,

I was wondering to what degree you think Gov Davis' recent allocations
of $$ for firefighters is political vs just in response to the dangerous fire
season. I thought I heard that there were supposed to be firefighters on
those engines earlier. Maybe I'm wrong on that. My brother is a firefighter
but has recently gone to Colorado so I can't ask him.

(Ab, Don't know if you will post this. I'm an interface homeowner and
I've done my best to make my home safe.)

Any CDF readers or others in the know? Ab.

06/27 Hi all,

I am getting ready to go out west for my first "big" fire and I am
wundering what I should take in my red bag. I saw the list for the line
pack but I was wundering how much and what you take in terms of clothes
personal items etc. that are not carried on the line. Thank you

stay safe,


List for the line pack can be found under FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). Readers, anything to add to this? Ab.

06/27 Bulldozers and the US Forest Service

By Sarah Foster 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
When the U.S. Forest Service asked Ron Largent, general manager of a major gold-mining operation in Colorado, for the use of some extra-heavy equipment to fight the Hayman fire, he was more than happy to help.

Cutting strings and red tape..............

06/27 Hello from hazy southern Colorado. Finally got an IA dispatch today, who
cares if it was a false alarm! Got us out of our rut and onto the pavement.
I was impressed with what they'll dispatch in the Extreme action class...
a couple of engines, Air Attack platform, bucket ship, and a jump plane,
though I don't know how many sticks of jumpers were on board.

Got to watch a spectacular thunderstorm develop here today, we'll go check
for holdover tomorrow. Another afternoon of hide and seek.

But back to the original intent of my post... 1/4 TURN! Being a DNR boy,
those fittings are near and dear to my heart... You can put 'em together in
the dark, when they're dirty, it doesn't matter how you throw out the hose,
field repair couplings are cheap and easy to come by, drag 'em around the
pavement/rocks/etc. and no threads will be damaged, no adapter needed to
hook up 1.5" to 1", need I go on?

I was going to say "tell them to quit their whining about the cost", get
some adapters, and start replacing threaded with 1/4 turn, but on second
thought, you "threaded" folks keep buying that stuff. That way when we want
to buy more 1/4 turn, it won't be back-ordered. *grin*

Speaking of hose, anyone have the chance to try the 1" toy hose? I used a
demo piece last year. Doesn't snag, kink, or blow out as often as the old
stuff. My understanding is we'll be purchasing it instead of 5/8" from now

Anyway, sorry to ramble on so long. It's still hot, dry, and windy here in
CO, so don't be fooled into thinking you're not going to be invited to the
party, just because one large fire is getting taken care of. Things are
still hopping. REALLY hopping.

Look Up, Look Down, Look Around,

06/27 Greetings:
For those that have loved ones on crews from the east, the EACC has the
IARR Crew Status Reports online now at http://www.fs.fed.us/eacc/iarr.rtf
06/27 Ab-
I suspect that Region 5 Fire & Aviation did not know there was a problem
with the web pages, as everything works fine if you are on a Forest Service
machine. Hopefully the pages can get fixed as they have been visible on
the FS side with updated information all week.

06/27 when i inquired if continuous hours of driving to a wildland fire is restricted by the fire agencies, i was
accussed of being a member of a rival fire response company. actually, i am a firefighter's wife and when
any fire related injury or death occurs, my first question is "can we prevent this from happening
tomorrow by reviewing the safety factors today so other families won't have to needlessly suffer? we
have received the fire calls at midnight when my husband is told to be ready at 4 a.m. does he sleep
between midnight and 4? heck no, his mind is already at the fire, thinking about what is ahead of him
and what his job (which he loves) will require him to do.
unlike a local fire company that responds to a fire in a shorter span of time, wildland firefighters are
responding from miles and hours away. it was finally recognized in emergency wards that patient care
was impaired when staff would work several continuous shifts. when firefighters are responding from
miles and hours away, their safety is impaired on the already dangerous highways if the crew has not had
sufficient rest time during their journey to the fire.
the van rollover was a tragic accident and as with any other injury/death accidents, my condolences go to
the family, friends, and fellow firefighters of the victims.
i would hope that at some point, the safety issue will be reviewed and possible solutions can be found.

I stand by my comment. Ab.

06/26 Wildland firefighters, if you have favorite t-shirt vendors who create shirts for different fires and ship around the country, let us know how to get in touch with them to see if they want to take a classified ad. We're getting LOTS of requests for fire t-shirts.


06/26 Just a note to update you about the Cleveland Engine rollover. The injured
firefighter will probably be out the rest of the summer. He has several
screws and a plate in his injured leg. Everyone else involved should be back
at work by Friday. The engine, on the other hand, didn't make it. For all of
you who aren't familiar with the Ortega Highway where the accident occurred,
it is a nasty, treachorous stretch of roadway, and we are very fortunate that
this accident wasn't much worse. Our thanks to RRU for everything. Their FIO
was wonderful in taking on the media, and the crews that responded did an
awesome job.

Stay safe out there, NOTHING is worth your life. Getting there safely is just
as important as your safety once you arrive.

10-18, LCES,
Socal Dispatcher

Good news. Thanks for the update. Ab.
06/26 Dear Abe: A long, hot, dry, stressful summer is ahead for our firefighters.
Already, the "Grim Reaper" has started making the rounds and this is not
good news.


06/26 Dear Ab, I'm looking for info or help on getting the R5 fire pages repaired.

For the past week none of the R5 links on their home page, www.r5.fs.fed.us/fire/
will work using Internet Explorer. My friends can get them to work using
Netscape and Opera Browsers, but I don't have any of those.

I've emailed the listed webmaster for the pages, chiggins<snip>, twice,
but to no avail. I even gave them the location of help pages to fix the
errors, which probably put me on their sh*t list......LOL.

I use the Situation Report pages to see the fires that my brother, a USFS
captain in the Angeles National Forest, has been sent to.

Is there any other way to get their attention and get the pages fixed?

Thanks for any help you can give,

Hmmmmmm, I see what you mean, some message about detecting proxy settings. There must be some readers from those offices who could help out. Go on you guys, help chiggins out! Probably overwhelmed with work as the rest of us are. Ab.
06/26 G’day again Abs, hope you're not stretched too thin & there are the usual feelings from here as were yours at Xmas – “how can we get there & help?”

One question re evacuation of civilians. Having seen the footage of the evacuation of Show Low, I’m curious why this is being done. Our EMA has found that leaving residents with their homes has proved to be an effective measure against losing homes to the fires. The qualifier is that the homes need to be prepared, i.e. defensible space of cleared space around the home, gutters cleared of leaves etc. By all means, get the aged/infirm & kids out of the way early, but our experience is that most homes are lost hours after the front has moved on and remaining embers have started fires that are left unattended causing the loss of the home. In fairness the traditional Aussie house is of brick & tile construction, whereas in the affected areas wood seems to be the preferred construction method. Is this a factor?

Also are the Canadairs getting any work on the Hayman or Rodeo fires? Had the marketing push here coupla months ago just curious if they are being committed in the remote areas.

Australia (whose country code is 61 if you need bods, trucks, rain (if we can!!), just call)

06/26 Bill M.

You may have seen that the fed agencies were set to adopt quarter turn couplings (QTC) this year, but they dropped that like a hot rock when all the managers and local fire depts. screamed about the cost. So NH and NPSH are still the official fed couplings.

Only the Washington DNR and local fire depts. in Washington use the QTC, and they got the idea (and the couplings) from CA. So, yes they are the same.

06/26 The entire CDF exec order from Gov Davis can be read at

06/26 AL and others interested in CDF fire budget woes, you may know this already, but maybe not...

There was an article yesterday that said we should get paid our same salaries as before -- and not the minimum wage even if there is no budget by July 1. All may remember that some CA court had ruled that state employees would get paid minimum wage if there is no budget by July 1. That wage ruling is evidently going to the CA supreme court and, while it is undecided, payment can continue as normal. Payments to state vendors can continue too, but may stop if the budget isn't approved by August.


06/26 CDF Fire update:

Calif Gov Davis signed an executive order for additional firefighting resources for SoCal. A minimum of 4 firefighters will be assigned to crews in Tulare, San Luis Obispo, San Diego, San Bernardino, Fresno and Riverside counties. A fourth firefighter will be assigned in Los Angeles, Orange, Kern, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties when needed. In my opinion, about time.

Davis also ordered CDF Fire to speed up fire safety inspections and authorized activation of 10 fire lookouts in NorCal. He called for implementation of the Aerial Infrared Imaging System (AIRIS) for flying and imaging fireline and hotspots. The cost will be between 8 and 10 million dollars, in my opinion a small amount when compared to possible losses in this very dry season. Again, about time.


06/26 An arrest on the ShowLow fire is not for arson.


06/26 Info40:

Check your sources. Two Calif Hotshot crews are assigned to the Rattle Complex- Kern and Redding.

The Shoe
06/26 Couplings:
Bill M.

I was asked that question a few years ago by one of my managers. Said "I
don't know, I guess I will have to take a road trip up to BC and find out."
He said "go to it."

Well, we took a nice drive to see the folks at BC Forestry, spent about 10
minutes trying different couplings from each side of the border, about 2
hours catching up on the latest news, went to lunch and then home.

Oh, I forgot to tell the boss that all the 1/4 turn we have says: "Made in
Canada", but I had to go north just to make sure.

I do not know if there are any other styles or types of 1/4 turn couplings
used by other agencies then WADNR and BC Ministry of Forests, but I know the
fittings I have used for the past 25 years will fit the ones in BC.

Nozzle Man
06/26 sir/madam:

While watching the fires on the news lately, i am amazed that someone has not come up with a hightech way to
combat the fires.... a thought: Has the government or forest industry looked into using a similiar weapon they
used in Afganistan. It was a devise they exploded in caves that removed the oxygen. Has or could a similiar
devise be used on a forest fire?

Pat Kane
06/26 LB,
If your dispatching unit knows they're ready, that's about it.
R6 Dispatcher
06/26 Great Basin Firefighter,

Many states have laws that increase penalties in the case where there is a death that is associated with the commission of a felony. In some states it can equate to a 1st degree murder charge, but not in Colorado. In Colorado it can lead to reckless endangerment charges which can be substantiated when there is a death.

06/25 You might want to check out familysaid for a picture of the new fire shelter and other information on it. Thanks to Robbie, whose sister is a wildland firefighter, for sending it in. Ab.
06/25 Response to LB,
I also have a R6 Contract and am patiently waiting to help. The problem
the agencies have is not enough managers to manage the resources available.
We could all pack up and go to the incident and throw a whole lot of
resources at the fire front (or in the case of AZ 2 miles from the front)
and we might be successful in putting it out!! But I guarantee you that
without sufficient support staff to do this in an organized fashion many
more would die... and we would waste alot of resources by not being
organized. It sounds like they are adding another type 1 incident team and
with that comes managers to manage resources such as ours. I know of some
R6 contractors that just left without dispatch and are on the fire line
getting paid, but they call that fire chasing (unethical) and my company
frowns on that practice. All I can say is to sit tight, be ready, make
sure your equipment is ready to go, pray for those on the fire line and
pray for your own safety if you go, if things get bad enough they will
call you! Remember it is only July 1st, things are going to get allot
worse!! I think the Rodeo fire will not be a record for this summer as far
as acreage goes.

Response to $$,
I don't care who started the fire in CO. Person or lighting, the problem
is not the one with the match because, as dry as things are, it is not a
matter of if things are going to burn, it's a matter of when! We as
citizens should be tallying up the cost of these fires, the deaths, and
bring a suit against the environmentalists who constantly stop or tie up
fuel treatments and commercial thinning on our lands. This has got to
stop!!! or our forest will continue to burn unless we do something!! I
know of many logging units that have more surviving species then what is
left over after a burn like these.

Just shooting off my humble opinion!!


Shall we name him fireMouth? Tongue in cheek. Ab.
06/25 BLMBob.

Steven Pyne, the silly, he left out the ultimate answer for eliminating the
fire threat to our nations wildlands, something I first heard in the '70's
when I worked in Southzone R-5. "PAVE IT AND PAINT IT GREEN"!!! Gotta
give the guy credit though he did mention the dreaded "L" word in his
"Hee-Hee, he said LOGGING." Gotta use your Beavis - Butthead voice when
you say that last line.

Later and B_SAFE

06/25 Cold Missouri Waters in MP3 format can be downloaded at:



Ab note: Thanks Pulaski. The size is 3508K so it will take a little time, but is worth the wait if you don't already have it.
06/25 Memorial Fund Established for Firefighters Killed in Van Roll-over

A memorial fund has been established for individuals and groups wishing to
contribute to the families of the five firefighters killed last Friday in
an accident near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Grayback Forestry, Inc.
established the memorial fund through the Wildland Fire-Fighter Foundation
to honor Daniel Rama, Baker City, Oregon; Retha Shirley of La Grande,
Oregon; Bartholomew Bailey, Baker City, Oregon; Jacob Martindale, Boise,
Idaho; and Zachary Zigich, Twin Falls, Idaho.

Donations can be made to any U.S. Bank location, account number:
153315069551, the foundation website, www.wffoundation.org, or sent to the
foundation at 1310 Vista Avenue, Boise, Idaho 83705. Donations can be
specified for individual families. For more information, contact Vicki
Minor at 208-424-1111 or visit the website.

Angelica G. Johnson
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Public Affairs
06/25 Can you provide the pertinent specification # for the Quarter Turn Forestry
couplings used in the USA?

How do they compare to the Canadian Quarter Turn Forestry coupling

Thank you for your assistance.
Bill M
06/25 My husband works for AAA Thunderbolt, signed up with R6 Malheur National Forest. They really want to help. They have been watching the fires on the media and don't know why they haven't been called to help. They have 8 trucks and crews ready to roll. Is there anything more to do to let it be known they're ready and raring to go?

Thank You,
06/25 Greetings AB & fellow brothers & sisters...

* I have a question that I am hoping someone can answer...I know that when a fire is deemed "human-caused" the person responsible (intentional or not) for causing the ignition is at risk for the likelihood of being held financially responsible for the cost of the fire suppression. But, if firefighters or the public are hurt/killed either en route to, actually on or as a result of that fire, can the person responsible for starting the fire also be held responsible for the casualties? Frankly put...can Terry be held responsible for the deaths of the 4 fire fighters who were responding to the Hayman Incident, or the 50-year old woman who died due to the smoke of the Hayman Fire (and her asthma)?

*Also, for those brothers & sisters who are fighting the massive fire in Arizona...I have family who had to leave their home behind and get to a safer place...a huge THANK YOU in advanced for your efforts despite the grim speculations on the outcome.

*My husband tells me, when one of us walks out the door to respond to a fire..."Before you make any suppression tactics, instill your 10 & 18, and base it on your LCES. In doing this, you won't get into trouble, and you'll come back home." It sounds simple I know...but it's so important to remember this in the heat of the battle. There are a lot of new people in supervisory positions this year out on the fireline, and to all of you...one of the most important things you can teach your crew besides safe suppression tactics... is what to do IF something goes to hell on you unexpectedly (they are never foreseen but you can be prepared). Practice your engine protection skills, and do it often. When things are slow, play the "What If" game, make sure your crew will be safe. It's probably one of the most important pieces of information you can pass on to them. They look up to you for guidance, and are hungry for more knowledge, use that opportunity to make them the best that they can be. I am not sure if you all are familiar with the song "Cold Missouri Waters" about the Man Gulch Fire, but every time my crew & I get released from a fire (no matter how big or small) we always play that song...it helps us to remember that our current safety guidelines are in place because someone else did not come home one night to their family.

Our job is just as dangerous as it always has been in the past, and every year we grieve the loss of brothers/sisters who die doing a job they are stoked about being a part of and knowing all to well, the risks that are at stake. Does this make it any easier to accept? No... Does it justify the mourning and sadness we experience each season? No, but we can learn from these tragedies, make sure their deaths are not in vain or forgotten, ensure our safety is never compromised, and that <YOUR NAME HERE> is never placed on our wall of Remembrance, or final details of your memorial service are being posted.

Next time you have a day off and are home with your loved ones, embrace them tight, hold them close and tell them how much you love them. Remember how good it feels. Keep it in your mind when you are rushing out the door to fight a fire. Make it your goal to return to them. And make it your goal to come back to WILDLAND FIRE.com at the end of the season to share your stories, wisdom and understanding to the crazy world that we all love..."chasing the dragon the roams our lands with massive destruction."

I did not intend for this post to sound negative, I along with the rest of you find this line of work fulfilling and can't imagine spending my long, hot summer days & nights doing anything else, but if you are unsure about anything... ASK! And if you don't feel 100% "safe" on an assignment, REFUSE! I promise, nobody will look down on you for wanting to stay safe & alive.

*May you all have a safe, fun and prosperous summer.

10, 18 & LCES,
~*~Great Basin Firefighter~*~

06/25 IR1,

Those were my symptoms exactly! I had trouble not thinking about fire for more than about 2 minutes at a time. One psychologist suggested my brain had been rewired during my multi-month exposure to fire and smoke. One person said that many in my condition and with my background joined the 180 Club as their lives were changed forever. They said the smokejumpers had the most members in this club...

Well, the support I received from Ab, R5 Firecapt, Hickman, WP, Old Fire Guy, the webgoddess, and others at this site certainly helped me past the early stages of my smoke/fire exposure syndrome. My life has indeed been turned around - no regrets. I am a participating member of the 180 Club. For a short time, I considered that some of us should organize a scientific study that could show if/how firefighter brains were rearranged by smoke/fire exposure. Then I decided <naw> I'd rather handle a Pulaski <smirk> than catscans, other scientific instruments, and records, and analysis <boring>.

Patrizia, there are people studying the effects of inhaling smoke, one guy at Harvard School of Public Health - Joel Schwartz - has studied the effects of particulate matter in smoke with an eye to its carcinogenic nature. If you get one or more of his articles, I'm sure you'll have a ballooning reference list to explore. Air quality is one of the leading areas of research these days. Also Roger Ottmar in the Seattle area has done some work.

IR1-2 (aka Mellie)
More coming, lemme go look on the net...
Ab add this please...
Go to Google search. Enter smoke and ottmar as keywords. A whole wealth of good and current research, including "Smoke Exposure on Prescribed Burns".

06/25 For Patrizia Palla who is researching the effects of smoke:

The consequences of smoke inhaled by firefighters
are varied and multiple. Here are a few symptoms of smoke inhalation
I’ve suffered or observed in others that I consider fairly common.

Soon after returning home from their first smoke inhalation incident
the victim may appear anxious and impatient. They may even confide a
secret desire to experience a repeat episode.
Friends or family members who have not experienced their own smoke
exposures are unable to effectively communicate with the victim.
The victim may suffer extreme mood swings, at times expressing high
levels of excitement as they try to relay their experiences to others,
then various levels of depression as they are unsure of the duration of
time until the next exposure.
After multiple exposures to equal or higher concentrations of smoke,
many victims are known to exhibit irrational periods of frustration and
anger even though they are allowed to remain home for extended periods
of time with family and loved ones. During the most pronounced episodes
the victim may display evidence of paranoia wherein they wildly begin
blaming co-workers, supervisors, dispatchers, or others for preventing
additional exposures.
With the onset of winter or rainy season, these same victims may
suffer an additional short-term depression with the realization they
will be free from exposure for several months. As they learn to accept
this reality, they normally return to their previous gentle and happy
demeanor. There are some however, whom never seem to reach a level of
saturation or contentment and will do anything or go anywhere in search
of additional exposure.

There is no known cure to offer those who experience their first smoke
exposure that will prevent them from seeking more. Little is known about
why or how they can be immediately and hopelessly addicted (even with
just one short exposure). Long time friends can be cast aside and families
destroyed by the victim’s obsession and their relentless quest for
another “fix”.

I offer these humble observations in the hope that your friend’s thesis
shed some wisdom and hopefully enlighten us all, that we may better
understand how to cope with current and future victims.

06/25 To me, Steven Pyne usually makes good sense. He's one of our own of course,
but as a historian, he has a long-range perspective that is really
interesting. In this NY Times editorial, he takes a clear view, free of hype,
hysteria, and agendas. In particular, I like where he says America doesn't
have a fire problem, it has many fire problems that require complex
approaches. It's a good antidote to listening to clueless politicians, news
announcers, and commentators asking inane questions about fires. Recommended
(Requires no-cost registration with the NY Times)

06/25 Info40 - 1) Might check the fire danger in R5. Might be its a just bit high. 2) IF a fire went and all the crews were in AZ watching the fire burn, where might R5 find a crew or two? (12 fires for 2000+ acres in SO. Cal yesterday). 3) R5 shot crews are much more part of the IA response than in other regions, and at current Planning Levels it just might behoove the prudent fire manager to have a couple around per their response plans. 4) Might be those R5 and NIFC folks know exactly what they are doing. Might be that action is debatable either way, but they made it and it seems reasonable to me. Type I crews are always in short supply at times like this, and if all were committed, they would still be in short supply.

It ain't fun sitting at home guarding the home turf from the "big one" but, like mop up, that is part of the job sometimes.

And if were to see "abuse" whatever that means, the press, NBC or any one else would be last ones I would call. In fact I wouldn't call 'em at all.

For WEB - Rotorwash? Hook? RemoteHook?, Chinbubble? Turbine? Blades.

Bed time,


06/25 Officer A. Moos -

In regards to your 6/19 post, I think good news may be on the way. I have it on good authority that FEMA is working on releasing some standard ICS guidance for all-risk use, in response to all kinds of incidents. In reality, the system was actually developed for all-risk use, but was largely tailored by wildfire use during its development as there were so many wildfires available for testing the system in southern California, where it was developed. It has of course been used for all kinds of law enforcement and other uses, including OK City, WTC and the Pentagon incidents, floods, hurricanes, airplane crashes, oil spills, hazmat, etc etc., but this may not be widely known. Anyway, the direction from Bush's proposed Dept. of Homeland Security mandates one standard incident management system for the entire government, which will hopefully be ICS. The Coast Guard already uses it, and the USDA and DOT may be on their way. Both the White House and FEMA Web sites have some information on this, and information on money planned for local governmnent and first responder use. Bottom line, streamlining emergency response could have a significant impact on mitigating incidents and saving lives, etc. and ICS has well proven itself.

My heart has been heavy since hearing of the tanker crash last week, and the numerous incidents and deaths since. A community I used to live in is burning up as we speak, and I think often of the crazy risks wildland firefighters take that are not understood, or dare I say, appreciated by the taxpayer?. My thoughts are with the entire community as you grieve lost friends and family, and as you fight like hell to save a town or a home. I used to say we were different than structure firefighters, that we don't save lives and homes, but I think that was my naivete coming through. If this season doesn't prove beyond a doubt that "we're all real goddam firefighters" then I don't know what would. I am sick to my stomach to hear of firefighter deaths, and furthermore to think that most of us are seasonal, no benefits, no year-round employment, with incredibly low pay compared to paid structure departments. I'm not sure what it takes to move forward from here, but you can believe I'll be looking for answers where I can. I have no doubt in my mind this season has only just begun... posted fire danger conditions in several of the GACCs forecast extreme conditions, and at the beginning of a very long and tiring summer.

PLEASE be careful out there. All indications are that this is a once-in-a-lifetime season. No home is worth dying for, no emergency is worth getting burned, and people are. Take care--

-from the concrete boondocks out yonder

06/25 Ab
i wanted to say thank you for keeping up this site. I also wanted to say thank you to every one that writes in. I am a daughter and wife of firefighters and i come to this site to get comfort and information from this site.
thanks Genia
06/25 Ab,
sorrow, grief, and prayers are all coming from the S. Front this evening. we have dealt with many tragedys this week, and can only hope that there are no more to come this wild fire season.
Although it is only june, I can only hope that all of us out there keep one foot in the black and come home to our loved one's every night (of when ever is possible).
Please every one, use your heads, and not your check books to decide on what's right to do. The couple of extra hours of driving or digging on the line are NOT WORTH what could happen!.................(I'll get into what we were hired to do and what we were hired to not do later)!

Please be smart/safe
06/25 A fifth member of the Grayback crew died today. May he rest in peace.

The company owner is quoted as saying "We felt we had one of the best safety policies in the industry, and we're just going to upgrade that and go from there." and the story goes on to state "The crew was on what was to be a 30-hour nonstop drive from Oregon."

In an other article the first fatality from Hayman has been documented. Real sad story.

The Colorado State Attorney General is looking into filing charges against Ms. Barton. If she is tried and convicted of a felony in a state court, there can be 6 six deaths that could now be associated with that felony.

I know that I am preaching to the choir, but if you are dispatched to a fire here in Colorado:
- The fire conditions beyond crazy. Keep your heads up!
- Enjoy the state. It is still beautiful here.
- Have some fun, make some money, bring a camera.
- Have a SAFE trip home at the end of a SAFE tour.
- Thanks for the help, we really appreciate it this year!

Sorry about the lecture,
06/24 On the evening news the announcer said that there were going to be 4 Type 1 Incident Management Teams on the joined Rodeo-Chediski fires and that was the most ever. Teams are Humphrey, Bateman, Dash and Martin. Does anyone know if this is true that it's the most? Wonder how the politics are with that arrangement. I remember how hard it was to have 2 on the bigbar.

06/24 Looking for the whereabouts of the midewin hot shot crew.
Any ideas? Have a family member on the crew.

06/24 thanks Fireronin, for your time and insight.
06/24 This is one side of the story, here's
the Terry that family and friends know:


06/24 Just to let everyone know, the Firefighter that was hurt on the Rodeo Fire,
was released from the hospital with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. According to
Fox news.

06/24 Connie Chung is interviewing the Barton family tonight. It's reported that they want to be supportive of Terry. CNN, 8PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific. I hope the family is ready for this. Usually the procedure for such an interview is that the interviewees receive interview questions ahead of time which they mentally prepare for.

Some years ago a friend of mine being interviewed by Connie got his list and prepared, but then Connie deviated and threw him a curve... Not a completely wildhair question, but enough to make him anxious in front of the cameras. He is a renowned scientist. Doesn't do anxious very well. Maybe that curve was added in an attempt to make things appear more "spontaneous". I considered it an underhanded journalistic ploy at the time. Hope that doesn't happen tonight. Different network, different policies? Hopefully not the same MO. We need clarity and fairness not some anxious answer that prejudices the Public for the sake of selling a few more commercials.

On another note, how about some more interesting monikers. WEB has the right idea Ab... Could have some new ones come out of this "big fire"... BentColumn, Anvil, 200000Feet, Burnout, Ash, Cinder, Torch, CrownFire (may have one of those), Coyote (definitely already taken), HeadLamp, RedBag, Combi'Tool <little madonna smile>. Aghhhhh, stop! I think people should get creative. Forget those initials, Ab! O'course, I'd hate to see some of my favorite initials change to monikers... Maybe we should come up with good monikers and have a list so people can choose... Ab, whatcha think? Can you tell I'm looking for a little lightness and humor?


Ab sez "Sure."

06/24 TK posted a statement that the rate of firefighters involved in motor vehicle accidents was lower than that of the general public. Would that it were so! Motor vehicle accidents consistently rank #2 (behind heart attacks) as the chief cause of firefighter fatalities. Take a look at the stories www.firehouse.com/lodd. It is bad enough that NIOSH published a bulletin this year, specifically regarding tender accidents, which continue to rate even higher proportionally in killing and injuring firefighters. View it at www.cdc.gov/niosh/truckroll.phpl .

While I agree that we should not be in a rush to blame anyone for the most recent accident, I think that eveyone should recognize that a "heads-up" attitude is needed on the roads, too.

sign me "islander"

I took what TK said to mean that firefighters on highways/roadways have fewer vehicular accidents under normal conditions when compared to the general public on similar highways/roadways under similar normal conditions. It's clear that wildland firefighters driving on wilderness roads and singletracks under smoky conditions, etc have more accidents and fatalities than the general public, in part because of the dangerous conditions, not because they're worse drivers. Water tenders are big and wide and heavy, which might put them at even more risk than other vehicles for rollover. Less margin for error in hooking that rear wheel on the shoulder.

Anybody know where motor vehicle accidents rank in terms of causes of the general public's fatalities? Could they be the biggest killer?

We need to be careful at all times when driving, but particularly when driving under extreme conditions off the beaten paths and particularly when driving large and/or unfamiliar vehicles.

TK, comments? Ab.

06/24 PB,
Unless equipment needs to be transported it is SOP for govt. entities to fly firefighters to the airport nearest the incident they are assigned to if it is a long distance. Sometimes even when equipment needs transport it is loaded on flatbeds or trains and shipped to the incident. I think that is rare. Some employers try to save money by sending as many firefighters along with equipment as possible. I have seen as many as four packed in a front seat that only had two seatbelts. Bad policy! Also rare. Govt. entities usually get cut rate flight prices. Private contractors rarely get flight discounts so they tend to send crews to incidents via road trip more than the Feds. or States.

I have no problem with driving to a distant incident...as long as laws are not broken and safety procedures are followed. In most states all front seat passengers must have a seat belt available for use...some states require its' use. Many states require a "chauffeurs" lisc. when driving with passengers for pay.

Personally I find it near impossible to rest decently sitting in a moving vehicle. As such I don't believe that simply switching drivers regularly is a safe practice. The "fresh" driver could be as fatigued as the one being replaced. Safe driving is more than not falling asleep at the wheel...it involves being alert. Being alert requires rest...real rest. If you are driving impaired from lack of rest...you are endangering not only yourself, but your passengers and the public as well. 8 hours in a motel room every 24 hours might be a good standard...but 4 hours on the ground might me a good minimum. If you have to pull off into a rest stop and lay out your bed rolls for a few hours to remain alert please do it.

I want to restate that I am not implying anything bad about Grayback or its' policies. Nor am I pointing fingers at the driver or passengers that were involved in our latest tragedy. I am simply taking this opportunity to answer PB's question as best I can and hoping that any discussion will lead to a greater level of safety for my brother and sisters on, and on their way to, the fireline.

There was an earlier post about how it was difficult for ICs to determine how long incoming firefighters had been without rest. I would suggest that polling them as they arrive about when they left and where they rested prior to arriving would not be all that difficult. Of course Portal to Portal Pay for all firefighters (including private contractors and ADs) would be a policy that would encourage all firefighters to get adequate rest prior to arriving at the incident and going on active duty. Of course there would still be some that would be so gung ho to get to the fire that they would push themselves and those around to abandon some safety guidelines. Sometimes staying safe means saying no.


06/24 First firefighter injured on the fireline in AZ.

Extent and cause of injuries are unknown.

06/24 Greetings Ab,
Wow, is this ironic! From the upcoming events on the FireWise web site:
June 29
White Mountain Regional Firewise Workshop

Sponsor: White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Pinetop Fire Department
Sponsor address: 1845 S. Pinelake RD, Pinetop, AZ 85935
Time: 7:30 am - 12:30 pm
Location: Hondah Casino and Convention Center
Event Cost: $10.00
Brief Directions: 3 Miles east of Pinetop AZ at the Junction of Highways 260 and 73.
Description: Sponsored by the White Mountain Apache Tribe Fire and Rescue
and the Pinetop Fire Department with additional support by the Arizona
State Land Dept., Navajo County Extension Services and the U.S. Forest Service.
06/24 Why are all the R-5 Hotshot/MEL Crews Sitting While AZ Burning?

Just found out there are over 280 outstanding crew orders sitting at NIFC but
the R-5 crews are sitting. They "appear" to be committed to a local fire on
the Sit300 report but when you call and ask them what they are doing theyre
all at home. Huh!?!? As a TAX payer this irritates me to no end. Something
should be said about this and it should be looked into.

If you know of any abuse please report it. Better yet go to a local AZ media
site and report it. NBC in Phoenix would like to know about this.


06/24 Memorial services over the weekend for the three AT firefighters who died in the downed C-130 on the Cannon Fire.

On Sat a memorial for all three at the Douglas High School football field.

Also a very nice memorial yesterday for Steve Wass, captain -- at the Minden-Tahoe Airport. The Jimi Hendrix rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was awesome and so appropriate for Steve.

All three will be missed.

06/24 I have a different perspective on DVE's previous post. I believe DVE is
just looking for answers like the rest of us. Nobody can tell me they
haven't thought the same thing or had the same questions. I do not
believe DVE meant to be malicious. DVE just chose to express those
thoughts while the rest of us sit and ponder the same unanswered
questions. We all express our grief differently. It's time for everyone to
lighten up! Let's be supportive of each other instead of taking out our
frustrations on each other for the way we express ourselves in this forum
(even if it is sometimes done poorly).

IA Dispatcher
06/24 Here are several "slurry" fighter/bomber bomber aircraft taken at Jeffco
Airport Broomfield, CO on 6/21/02. You can put these on your website if
you want. Very nice website by the way!


Thanks, put 'em on the AirTanker4 and AirTanker5 photo pages. Ab.
06/24 Bonjour,

I was F/O on a Canadian A/C under subcontractor ops. for flight
test, air show demonstration, plus I collaborated in Greece for water bombing
with a355 MTM Hellenic air force (squadron). I am sending in some photos.
If you make me small place in your site for more, I will fill that place. Some
to come later are an air show in Istanbul, some in Ankara, from Elefsina Greece,
Zagreb and Zadard in Croatia and a picture of a Big chopper (skycrane).
Real one, huge fire, low pass, and more. Any way to get money from it?
My English is not too good because I am French Canadian, Quebec part.

The first two photos I sent were taken in Athens 2000 and I have more.
Look at the downwash of that one helicopter.
Thank for your time and interest and if you decide to go ahead with a
place for me you have to correct the text.

Pierre Hamel

Nice photos Pierre. I did correct your English a bit, but you did well. I will email you about sending more photos. I put the first two from Greece on the AirTanker 5 photo page and the third one on the Helocopter 7 photo page. Readers, can anyone fill in any more about the ship on Air5? Ab.

06/24 Hello Abs: Sitting around with the day off today while waiting for that engine assignment from here to there somewhere and browsed thru a grocery sack of old photos, and came across these among others. I,m not real great at scanning and mailing, but here goes.
#1 Hover hook by N.Carolina Forestry. The guy in the open door was the signalman and talked to the pilot.
#2 S-58 (?) Brainard Helis getting ready for a pick.
#3 Houeston Helis 212 in conference
#4 Crescent Airways 206 B3 on floats.
The first 3 shots were taken on a fire in the glades sometime around '87 or '88 .
The 206 on floats was taken in Minnesota where the Superior N.F. had a 100 day exclusive use contract from around '81-93 ? That ship also was contracted to Everglades N.P. for the winter season .

Will send more shots later as I find them. Also limit to 3 or 4 scans at a time so my ISP doesn't kick me out. Edit this as you wish..

PS give me a name of your choosing!

Thank YOU, WEB. Put them on the Helocopter7 page. Also put up a helitorch image "Torchin on the Colville Rez Spring '02" from Charles.

So ya want/need a moniker, eh? How about something connected with your helo work on fire? Like AirSupport or RotorWash or BucketDrop or Bambi? <HAR> Readers -- and I can think of a few of you who are waaaaaaay too good at monikers -- got any ideas what I should baptize him with? Must be "clean"... I know that might be a stretch. Suggestions can always be passed around off the record.

More photos in other categories coming soon. We'll need to update the dropdown menu on the left of all photo pages, but that may take a little time until the appropriate Ab returns. To find the new photo pages not on the dropdown menu, simply go to the Photo page. All categories are listed there on the grid and on the photo description pages grids.
06/23 Hi Ab,

Just a question and a comment or two. Does anyone know where you can send cards etc. for the Grayback firefighters? Being a mother and mother-in-law of 3 wildland firefighters and a mother who had one son die at Storm King in 94, I think the main thing people should remember is that the families need your prayers, letters, cards, and special memories. There is no such thing as closure; you learn to live with it. It is always in the back of your mind everyday. I hate it when the media say they need to find closure and I have told more than one of them there is no such thing. Most of the media were very good to us and quoted us pretty accurately. But when they asked you how to you feel, I really wanted to scream at them and ask them if they are some kind of idiots. How do you think we feel?

Please be Safe
Stay safe.

I pray for all of you daily.

Thanks, Kat, for writing in and for your prayers. Our condolences to you and your family for your great loss then and now. I wish you could know how many of us continue to grieve for those guys and gals we lost on Storm King Mountain. Ab.

06/23 I'll agree with all that now is not the time to point fingers after the
tragedy with the Greyback crew. It's barely summer and we've already lost 7
firefighters. I've also heard something about an engine crew being lost in
South Dakota a bit ago?

But... since we're on the topic... I think that in CA, if you're driving a
van/bus whatever with more than 10? passengers for pay; you need a
commercial license with a passenger endorsement. Would it have helped here?
Probably not. Except that someone with a commercial license _may_ have more
experience behind the wheel. Maybe not. I seem to recall that CDF used to
bring in relief drivers just for the crew buggies. Haven't seen that
lately, and I'm not sure why. I know I've had to stop on the way to and
from fires to wake up a little.

06/23 It was not my intent, and I apologize profusely if my inquiry was taken
as such, to lay blame on the driver(s) of the vehicle. My question was
simply is this SOP by FF agencies to have staff drive such a distance vs
flying them in. My heartfelt condolence to all the families and again,
my apology if my inquiry offended anyone.

06/23 I think there is one thing people should keep in mind about driving on America's highways: it's dangerous. Just because YOU haven't gotten in an accident lately or ever doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Consider that the percentage of firefighters involved in accidents in relation to the total number of firefighters traveling these highways is MUCH lower than the percentage of ordinary motorists involved in accidents compared to the total number of ordinary motorists on the road. And accidents happen. There were 11 crew members riding in the Grayback van, do you think the same person was driving all the way from Oregon? So let's cut out the blame sh*t and the what happened sh*t here and accept that statistically we are lucky that there aren't more accidents involving firefighters than there are.

*Thinking of our lost brothers and sisters AND those who are injured but still with us who have to face what has happened to them, and who already have more than enough strangers speculating on what happened*


P.S. to the Padre: With all due respect: on the fire line god ain't gonna save you, only your own brain will, so yes, there is at least one atheist on the fire line.

06/23 From Firescribe:

azcentral.com fire slideshow

lagrandeobserver.com rollover report

azcentral.com on shots

sfgate.com on life in firecamp
06/23 This rarticle by JOHN N. MACLEAN is running in the NYTimes on 06/23.

Tough Times for People Who Battle Wildland Blazes
(a no cost registration is required)
06/23 This came to us from several sources who assure us that it is alright to post it and that it important to post it. We agree. It is important to remember that there are perspectives and personal truths to be heard. We leave it to readers to form their own opinions regarding the media reporting on this case. Ab.

Subject: Thirtymile Administrative Investigation

To: U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell; U.S Senator Patty Murray; Hon. Rep. "Doc" Hastings; Forest Chief Dale Bosworth; Regional Forester Harv Forsgren; Forest Supervisor Sonny O'Neal; Fire and Aviation Director Laurie Perrett; and Human Resources Director Roy Roosevelt

Re: Recent disciplinary action taken regarding Thirtymile Incident

Date: 6/12/02

Following is a letter written by Bill Kampen, Pete Kampen's father. Pete is one of the eleven who has proposed action being taken against him. This puts a face, name and circumstances to some of what the Forest Service is doing. Bill sent this to the chief, regional forester, senator cantwell, and doc hastings as well as a number of other people. He and Pete both want to share this and it is OK to pass it on to whoever you see fit....d<name snipped>

<Ab note: If any of you would like to respond privately to Mr. Kampen, we will pass your comments along. We have removed his e-mail address and phone number from this document.>

----- Message from "William Kampen" on Sat, 15 Jun 2002 11:52:04 -0700 -----


Thirtymile Administrative Investigation

To: U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell; U.S Senator Patty Murray; Hon. Rep. "Doc" Hastings; Forest Chief Dale Bosworth; Regional Forester Harv Forsgren; Forest Supervisor Sonny O'Neal; Fire and Aviation Director Laurie Perrett; and Human Resources Director Roy Roosevelt

Re: Recent disciplinary action taken regarding Thirtymile Incident

Date: 6/12/02

After studying the USFS Thirtymile Fire Investigative Report, reading and cataloging the Yakima Herald's articles, and studying the heart-wrenching testimony of survivors, I have tried to make some sense out of the "Administrative Investigation" which is going on now. The observations below are based on factual information, logic, and common sense. Before I take additional action, I would appreciate your comments. Thank you for taking time to read this, and I will look forward to hearing from you.

A. Thirtymile Claims 11 More Victims; Herald Celebrates

Four very fine young people died in a tragic fire at Thirtymile last July 10. Nothing can erase the anguish that this has caused their families. My wife and I have great empathy for them, especially when we think how close we came to losing our son in this fire, too. We hope that they can soon find a path that leads to healing.

In late March, an article appeared in the Wenatchee World which seemed to blame our son, and him alone, for the tragedy at Thirtymile. We thought this must be some kind of mistake, since Pete was a trainee on the initial attack phase of the fire only, during which time there were no injuries. I e-mailed the reporter who wrote the story, Michelle Partridge, and in her reply she informed me that Pete was one of the "key people" being "targeted" by "critics and relatives" as well as "congressional leaders."

Further inquiry led me to the Yakima Herald website, where I was able to review all articles written about Thirtymile over the previous 7 months. I was appalled by what I found. We immediately wrote to Senator Cantwell expressing our concerns, but she declined to reply.

The Herald invariably directed its invectives at the "commanders," an ambiguous term that could mean anything from "all fire management" to "incident commanders." It was readily apparent from certain allegations made by the Herald that Pete was included in this group, and was definitely among those being so viciously and publicly attacked. Senator Cantwell, according to a Jan.10 article in the Herald, was distressed "that the Forest Ser-vice hasn't disciplined or fired employees responsible for safety violations at Thirtymile."

B. Rush to Judgment: The Helicopter

On September 2, over three weeks before the official USFS Fire Investigation Report was released, The Herald published four articles about Thirtymile, among them "Requests for Helicopters Came Late" and "Commanders Didn't Follow Safety Guidelines," both written by Tom Roeder. Both contained factual errors which reflected negatively on fire leaders, including Pete, which I assumed at the time were inadvertent. Now I am not so sure.

Let's take the helicopter allegation first, although Mr. Roeder's version of the story was put to rest long ago. The facts are that the crew leaders were initially told that the helicopter would be available for bucket use from 10:00 a.m. on, and they requested it shortly thereafter. When it didn't appear, they kept calling dispatch to ask when it would arrive, because without aerial water support their crew had little chance of controlling the fire.

After some bureaucratic rules were sorted out, the helicopter was finally allowed to take off at 2:38 p.m., too late to make a difference. As the USFS Investigative Report subsequently confirmed, this delay was due to factors completely outside the IC's control. For over four hours, NWR Crew #6, many of them young and inexperienced, fought to contain this fire until water support could arrive. When they finally abandoned their effort in mid-afternoon, all were exhausted, but safe.

C. Rush to Judgment: The Commanders were Responsible! .......

To read the rest of this very important perspective, click HERE. You can then scroll up or down for the full critique. This document is a "must read" and will be included under Documents Worth Reading on the Archives page and on the Site Map page with the links to the other 30mi documents. Ab.

06/23 Greetings from Italy!
A friend of mine - a firefigther - is preparing his thesis (School of
Medicine) on the consequences of smoke inhaled by firefigthers during
wildland fires. There is not much documentation available over here in
Italy, so I started to search the Net and found your website. Is there
any way that you can help me? Any article that has been published? Or
any link I may refer to?
Your assistance would be very much appreciated! Thanks in advance.
Patrizia Palla
06/23 I have been a "lurker" for a long time, and I just have say something.
DVE & PB: What happened to the Grayback crew is awful thing. Now is NOT the
time to decide the who, where, when, what why and how's. We should be
remembering and mourning. The authorities will figure out what happened,
and appropriate action will be taken. Think about the other 7 vans, the
probably had to watch what happened to their fellow crew, then had the rest
of the drive to think about what happened. For just a minute, imagine what
they are going through.

Everyone seems so quick to judge, these people are part of our "family." We
should give them the respect they deserve for giving their all.

My suggestion is to put all the negativity in the can and pray...this is
going to be a very long fire season.
06/23 To those who want to jump on the band wagon and run off about who caused
this and that, stop and think of yourself and your actions. Not one of
us that has been called to a burn job has not stepped it up a notch to
get there. Some facts to bring you up to date on driving regs. For a van
one only needs a valid drivers license. If you are driving a rig with
air brakes and also one that exceeds certain weight requirements then
you need a CDL which does have limitations on driving time, ie..ten hours
driving time and then a eight hour break. I am sure that the folks in
the accident had been trading off driving duties. Lets not point fingers
and blame when we don't know all the facts. One thing we all need to
remember, they are our brothers and sisters, lets take the time to pray
and grieve, support the families and survivors instead of playing the
devil's advocate. God bless those that we lost this year and their



Don't mean to sound off but some folks need to engage their brains
before there mouths.

06/23 Ab and everyone, back home from Colorado for 2 days then back on the road monday to ??.

Sitting here in La Grande wondering why this little town is getting more than it's share of grief this week. First the T-130 goes down and kills all aboard and now more of our brothers and sisters are killed in a vehicle rollover.

It isn't even July yet and engine crews are getting burned over in Southern California.

I don't want to sound like a cliche but everyone watch your and your buddies' backs, fronts and sides real close.

Don't be afraid to stop for an extra hour for a long lunch break while driving long distances. And treat your crews like they deserve to be treated. Get a motel and some good rest if you can when on the road. What is a couple of bucks for firefighters rooms out of the millions we spend on trying to slay these dragons.

Don't let the desire for a couple extra hours of OT allow you to try to push on another 100 miles when you know you need a break for the drivers or yourself.

Most of all enjoy the people you work with and your families while you can 'cause we don't get any guarantee on our length of service here on this ball of dirt.

God Bless all you who read this and especially the families of those who have bumped ahead of us on that long fireline to heaven.

Praying For Rain.

06/23 Dear Ab.,

Do you or anyone have a current needs list for the position of dozer boss, falling bass, strike team leaders, or task force leaders?


We've been talking about doing one. There is the Fire Job Connection on the Classifieds page. Ab.
06/23 As a former fire-rescue medic turned priest, just wanted to let you know we're praying for the safety of all of you out there on the lines. Watch yourselves and take care. (Someone once said there's no atheists in foxholes - I haven't found any on the firelines yet either! ) Take care and God be with you!

06/23 DVE,

Contractors aren't the only ones that drive long and hard to get to incidents they are dispatched
to. When I was "farmed out" by my state we drove our convoys strait throughout to the fire and
were often sent directly to the fireline without rest. Sometimes that meant we were without rest
for over 48 hrs. Now that ICs' may be held liable for doing so (if fatalities result) firefighters may
be somewhat assured of getting rest prior to being sent to the line. I am not sure about who
would be held accountable for allowing or encouraging "their firefighters" to drive long hours
cross country to a fire they have been dispatched to. I don't think there are laws prohibiting it but
the probability of civil suit for willful negligence might well be applied to any employer who does
so. Of course private contractors are more vulnerable to civil suit than govt. entities. I wonder if
most have a policy on this?

Grayback has a good reputation as an employer and I don't think they would encourage
firefighters working for them to exceed reasonable hours of driving when in "travel status". Of
course most of us don't need encouragement to do so. When we are dispatched most of us are
very eager to "get to the fire". I agree with Olddog about the authorities being able to determine
who was "at fault". Personally though I won't even care for a while. Now is the time for

I am sick at heart for my fallen comrades and my thoughts and prayers center on their families,
the survivors and their recovery. It is still early in the season and we have lost so many. Too
many. As the sun rises each morning I pray that we all will slow down, think safety first, and
watch out for each other.

06/23 For God's sake, DVE, let the wheels stop turning before you start to question everything that happened in the

06/23 Condolences to the family and friends of the Grayback crew who lost their lives or were injured in that tragic accident; and the slurry droppers last week - too many! So many lost in recent years, and I am still reeling years after the Prineville shots who lost their lives in CO several years ago. PLEASE, please, please, HEADS UP; be safe out there everyone...no heroics.
06/23 Why, would those firefighters have to drive from Oregon to Colorado.
Is this common practice in emergent situations like the present (AZ and
CO mega fires)?
What is the down time, after the long dirve, to recover physically from
an exhaustive drive like that. I just don't understand.
06/22 From Danny, latest update on evacuations, some photos and the AZ fires:

06/22 Look at these aerial views of the AZ fires:




06/22 The Rodeo and Chediski fires have merged, the news is saying.

Bill Jackson, a fire behavior analyst, said the columns from the two fires could
combine and the larger Rodeo fire could pull in the smaller fire, causing both
blazes to gain speed. The possibility has prompted authorities to call for the
evacuation of more than 9,000 homes in the Heber, Pinedale, Linden and Clay
Springs areas.

About 100 residents in the towns of Linden and Clay Springs have refused to
evacuate from their homes. Crews will not be sent in to remove those people
from their homes, Paxon said.
Please, please don't even try to stay and save them. I pray no firefighter looses a life because someone did not take responsibility for leaving. No heroics, please.

Sign me,
Not one more lost.
06/22 If I am repeating anything already posted here please feel free to edit. I feel the need to impress upon everyone responding to fires in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado or anywhere else, that the conditions here are unlike anything else ever experienced by anyone living or dead. Historic low rainfall records are being set each day. If we don't get 8" of rain next winter this will be the dryest 5 year period on record since the 1800's. Live fuel moisture conditions are lower than anyone has ever seen. A 39% was recorded here locally. Normal is 90-100% for this time of year. Energy Release is at record high all across the southwest and southern California.

All of this can mean only one thing. Get out of the way and let the fire go by. It is only bushes and trees. They will grow back, your flesh will not. Stand back and let the weather change in our favor. Indirect attack is not favorable in these conditions. Spotting distances on a very mild day can be 300'+. In a heat wave expect 1000-1 mile spotting distances with ignition probability of 100%. Get out of the way. There are no fires burning this year that were burning last year (except maybe the coal seam). They will go out. Sometimes it's better to do nothing. I know this is hard for us hard chargers, but this is no time to be aggressive.
Unsecured line will flank you.
Underslung line will have spot fires below you.
Downhill line will flank you.
Indirect line will have spots in the green between you and the
main fire that will get up and run at you at terrific rates of spread.

This is real folks.
Fireball XL5

06/22 My father woke me this morning. He had just gone online at MSNBC.com and read the following article:

The article mistakenly identified the van as from the Prineville Hotshots.

After spending two anxious hours on the phone with CO law agencies, hospital nursing supervisors, and finally the Prineville District Ranger, I can say I felt just a tiny bit of what the families of the Grayback crew members must be going through. My heartfelt condolences. I can only imagine the pain you are feeling.

God bless you all.

Papa (and father of a Prineville Hotshot)

Papa, it is so important to get the correct information out. This Ab was also shocked at the APs mistake. I would have assumed they would verify, verify, verify. This Ab sends hugs to you and all who need them, an no I'm not one of the guy Abs, but they would be huggin', too.
06/22 Durn it, this week sucked! As a safety guy, I just want to urge folks to think even more about what we are about. I usually don't go in for dire predictions, particularly where weather is a factor, but this season is already special, specially bad so far.

Those vans. Please, please if your organization is using and transporting folks in those extended vans, please have drivers understand them. At highway speeds there is little room for error. Two of the major manufacturers made these extended versions by just extending the bodies and not the wheel base. When loaded they go into skids easier with that weight behind the rear wheels creating torque and then as they are top heavy when loaded roll very easily. A couple or three hours pay on the line isn't worth anyone's life, and the fires aren't going anywhere. Slow Down!! I have seen a contractor van with about a 50 gal. drinking water tank at the back of the van on the roof rack. That scares me. You have a right to a safe assignment, and a right to safe transport also, supervisors need to deliver on this, please don't let your guard down. I don't mean to single out contractors, we have two of those machines also, use for dog and pony shows. We bought suburbans and sixpack pick ups for the crew for this among other reasons.

Ab, thanks for your comment to DVE. I am sure OSHA, NTSB, the Colrado State Patrol and probably the omniscient sen. cantwell and others will provide all the finger pointing we need on this one. Had enough of who's to blame in the last year. Just want folks to move ahead and keep heads in the matter at hand, keep safety their first and second thoughts on each move.


06/22 I think most of us at the Interagency Fire Center in La Grande are in a
kind of walking state of shock. I know I am. Losing the crew of Tanker
130, and now members of the Grayback crew from this area. While I don't
think I knew any of the Grayback crew members, I do know some of their
Mothers, Fathers and Grandparents. It may also hit a little closer to
home for me as my son is a firefighter. My prayers, my heart, and my
condolences goes out to the families and friends of both
06/22 I am shocked and saddened to hear of the 4 deaths of the Grayback crewmembers. The Grayback crew on the Big Bar Complex played a critical role in saving homes in Denny. Their supervisors were the best. The community even renamed a creek Greyback Creek in their honor. Wonderful people all. Although I am sure this is a different crew than 1999, I want to say thanks and send my condolences to all in that organization. Many tears this day.

My candle is lit.
06/22 How many hours were these people "on the clock"? Isn't there a safety rule to help prevent tragic
accidents like this? Did the company have it's employees disregard the safety rules? Please advise..


A little harsh, arnt'cha? From one of the other wannabe companies, meb'be? Ab.

06/22 Oregon Dept. of Forestry disseminated the following news release today.

For Immediate Release
Major Media Distribution
June 21, 2002
Rod Nichols,
(503) 945-7425, or
02-55 (503) 375-5810 pager


Four members of a La Grande, Oregon-based fire-fighting crew died in a
one-car rollover accident on Interstate Highway 70 in Colorado today.
Eleven members of the 20-person crew were aboard the van. They had left
La Grande today and were traveling between Grand Junction and Glenwood
Springs, Colorado, to the East Hayman Fire when the accident occurred
this afternoon.

In addition to the four fatalities, two other crewmembers sustained
serious injuries and were airlifted to a hospital in Grand Junction.
The other passengers had a variety of less serious injuries. All told,
the 11 passengers of the van were taken to three different area
hospitals for treatment.

The crew, Grayback No. 80, is one of several wildland fire crews managed
by Grayback Company of Oregon. A total of 16 Oregon contract crews is
currently battling large wildfires in Colorado.

The Grayback No. 80 fire crew had been dispatched today to the East
Hayman Fire, part of a 137,000-acre complex known collectively as the
Hayman Fire.

Cause of the accident is under investigation. The crew had been
scheduled to report for duty at the East Hayman Fire on Saturday. A
stress briefing team has been dispatched to counsel the survivors of the

Names of the four-crew members who died are being withheld pending
notification of their families.

Updated information on the accident will be available from the Northwest
Interagency Coordination Center in Portland, Oregon, (503) 808-2764.
06/22 From Firescribe, a Denver Post article:

Crash Kills 4 Firefighters
06/22 Ab:

I have read the post from Hotshotman regarding the downing of T-130. I am
concerned for that individual's well being. Agree with it or not, there is
such a thing as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I know...I suffer from it
after one burnover, one near burnover, one EMT call where the victim was my
fiancee and she passed away while I was working on her. There was no such
thing as a "debriefing" when these things happened to me. I and many
others like me at the time are paying the price.

One good thing to come of that though is the ability to recognize the
symptoms in our peers within the firefighting community. I believe
Hotshotman's post was indicative of a real need for the type of help
available now by means of critical stress debriefing. I urge all those
that might be close to the incident, to seek assistance. More
importantly, I urge anybody close to the individual that posted the message
to drag him or her, kicking and screaming if necessary, to the
professionals that can help to cope with this kind of trauma. To seek such
help is not a sign of weakness, lack of ability, or lack of
professionalism. More to the point it speaks to the individuals caring and
responsibility to themselves, their co-workers, their family.......

This is an ugly part of the lives that we lead; it is unpleasant to
contemplate, and even more unpleasant to speak of in an open forum. But
none-the-less, it is a fact of life in our profession. I agree with your
recommendation that critical stress debriefing become a part of any
firefighters healing process after a major traumatic event.


Thanks for sharing. We need to watch over our mental health as carefully as we watch over our physical health. Both have physical roots at different levels. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is real and Critical Stress Debriefing can help. There will be more needing it after last night's accident. Ab.

The Jobs Page, Job Series 0462 and Series 0455 Pages are updated.

A group out of Tonasket, WA needs an Engine Boss.

Readers, as you return on R&R from fires and want to upgrade or replace gear and boots, please check our supporters on the Classifieds page and those who support wildlandfire.com with banners. We appreciate their business.

06/21 Ab, I pulled this off www.airtanker.com... So sad. Hard to say anything. This
Summer is going to be tough for all and I pray that everyone comes home safe to their
loved ones. For the LaGrande folks at home, we're thinking about you on the
Okanogan. You were there for us during our tragedy and we'll be there for you.
T-130 fire fighter's and your most recent fire fighter's are in our thoughts.

Thinking of you in Okanogan....
PARACHUTE, Colo. (AP) - A van carrying fire personnel to a wildfire southwest of
Denver crashed Friday night, killing four passengers, a state trooper said.

Colorado State Patrol spokesman Don Moseman said the van was from La Grande,
Ore., and was carrying 11 people. It was part of a convoy of eight vehicles traveling
along Interstate 70 en route near Parachute to the 137,000-acre blaze.

Moseman said the others in the van had injuries ranging from minor to serious, and
were taken to a hospital. He said some other firefighters and support personnel in the
convoy remained in the area, while others continued on to the fire.
06/21 The Associated Press report on the four firefighter deaths this evening:

06/21 Just heard on the news koin news from Portland and the Denver channel 9 that 4 firefighters were killed in a wreck near Parachute CO. They were in a convey and supposed to be from LaGrande Oregon. More in the hospital. Save save.

Pray for the families.

This word has come in from several sources. Too sad. Thoughts and prayers.
Everyone take extra care. We need no more deaths.
06/21 From Firescribe:

New MTDC opens


06/21 hello every one,

i just wanted to write in regards the tanker 130 that went down at the cannon fire. just i thought i would past on this info, I was assigned to the cannon fire as a fire personnel on sunday the 16th, and i was at the fire and at the scene of the tanker 130 that went down, it was the worst and horrific thing that i have ever seen. having to work with the tanker and pilots all day on retardant drops and then all of a sudden I have the tanker go down in front of me no more then 200 yards away, but my sorrow and feelings go out to the family and friends of the pilots of the t-130, and i will never forget the radio traffic and the memories i have of this ordeal....

god bless the fallen brothers

flags are at half staff for those that have fallen
hotshot man

Such a tragedy is especially hard on those closely involved. I hope you have gotten critical stress debriefing. It is important to continue to get help if you need it until you feel better. Ab.

06/21 In response to JF about the South Fork fire near Monte Vista, CO. They
finally have a map up on the incident web page.


Stay safe - those of us that live and fight fire in these hills know
that there is nothing in any of those homes worth even one square inch
of your hide. Come home safe, we can rebuild the structures later
(hopefully with a little defensible space around them this time!).

Take care & Adios, CJD

Thanks CJD. The Fire Links, 2002 page was updated this morning. Looks like the nwcg has a new template for fed fire as of today. On our fire links page, all the new pages have been added to the old ones so you can browse fires on the web to your heart's content. Looks like they started with the Colorado and Arizona fires. Ab.
06/21 Was there an aerial attack plane lost last night?


Checked the AT message board. Seems there was but no one hurt. Ab.
06/21 Cheteski & Rodeo Incidents in R3:

80% chance the two fires will merge. If they do, will be 300,000 acres, one of the largest in US history (revised per viewer information)!! Currently they are 8 miles apart.


06/21 Bill Jackson, our FBAN on the Rodeo Fire says the infrared on the Rodeo Fire indicates it has burned 120,000 acres. He warns of weather later today that will lead to fire behavior that has not been seen before.

The fire is burning in heavy pine, fuels are very dry, 7-8% humidity and 40 mph winds are expected. This is a recipe for extreme weather behavior. The column may be pushed over.

Linden and Clay Springs are still at risk. The fire may get to Clay Springs today. Pinedale is still actively burning with at least 15 homes lost and at least 20 outbuildings. Good news is that 100+ homes were saved. The County is currently doing a damage assessment and the Red Cross will be making a more detailed list over the next few days based on addresses. Rock Road had some losses.

Be Safe,

PS. Ab, I will share this moniker willingly. I also enjoy reading the links provided by the larger "Firescribe" contributors, especially as I don't have time to search out interesting links right now. Now fess up, Ab, there are more than the 2 of us.

Only for us to know, unless you insist on revealing your identity(s)... Ab.

06/21 To the OTHER and obviously truly original Firescribe:

WELL. Okydoky then, no problem. I was mistaken. I thought Ab
gave me that nickname a couple years ago, but it's entirely
likely that I was wrong about that. When people have asked me if I am
Firescribe, I usually tell them that several of us are Firescribe. My
understanding has been that "Firescribe" is a name used for two or three
or more of us who send in links to stuff we've found that might be of
interest to others. I've never "signed" anything Firescribe, it just
gets posted that way. Or it has. I don't know now whether Ab will
continue to use it that way. Nor do I care. [grin] Mea culpa.


Correct on that. When you started sending in interesting links I asked Firescribe, who had been doing the same if they were willing to share the moniker, and they were. I will check if they still are. We appreciate the contributions of both of you but can understand the issues around sharing a "personality" when more gets shared than the links. Dare I say? <HAW><HAW><HAW> ...such a strange situation, possible only on theysaid. Ab.

In the meantime from Kelly whose links are sometimes posted under the Firescribe moniker:

Fantastic slide show of the Arizona fires here:

Photos from Colorado fires:

The plot thickens:

Hey leapers, check this out:
One of the EarthFirst jerks who pulled their stupid stunt in Missoula
yesterday claims he was a jumper at both RAC and MSO. Is this true? No
one in the courtroom would vouch for him so the judge wouldn't let him

06/21 Hi Ab. Please post the following to "They Said".

The Mendocino National Forest is looking for some detailers for the Summer.
These will be NTE 120 day details, and there is a possibility of temporary
promotions if the people qualify. We're Looking for the following

Two Crew Bosses for 20 person Type 2 crews.
One will be based out of Corning, and one out of Upper Lake.
One Dispatcher, based out of Willows.

Anyone interested, should contact Steve Decker or Judy Brazzi at

Thanks Much!

Tom Caves
Forest Fuels and Fire Planning Officer
Mendocino National Forest
06/21 Hello all!

Down here in the San Isabel NF on a severity assignment, working
Highway 12 area doing I/A, but none to be had so far. Lightning yesterday
afternoon didn't turn up anything, but we'll head back up for looking for
some holdovers later in the day. Thus far the people here in CO have been
very appreciative and supportive of our presence. The most commonly asked
question is "You drove that thing all the way down here from Washington
STATE?" Would love to catch a little fire but I think the folks here have
had enough. Ask me how my engine runs at 10,505 feet. *grin*

Fire Names- Being down here among the Spanish Peaks reminded me of a fire I
named "Two Dogs" my first season... found several empty Two Dogs ( a Spanish
Peaks product, I think) bottles in the campfire that started the whole mess.
My boss at the time was a stickler for geo-based names, so I convinced him
that there were two labradors running around the fire while we were working.

Maybe we'll see some of you down here later on, we've got several more days
left on this dispatch.

Look Up, Look Down, Look Around,
06/21 News services....
I am torn as without them the American public would be clueless about what is going on in their own country. But some times the accuracy is so bad that no news really would be good news. I think that the main problem is that they all try to "scoop" each other by rushing to get a story "out". Those reporters who will actually take the time to immerse themselves in a field enough to understand what is going on at an "event" are few and far between. This is mainly because those who do so are never on the fast track to promotion. We need to support them any way we can IMHO.

One of my duties as VC of the MWFA (MN Wildland Firefighters Assn.) is to liaison with the media/reporters. Most say "unless there is a big, uncontrolled fire there is no merit in a story...call me when there is". Only a few have shown interest in getting a background on anything having to do with fire. Unfortunately, stories submitted on fire are often torpedoed by editors who tell the unfortunate reporters that submitted "unspectacular stories" on lowered fire budgets, dwindling firefighter availability, or the need for fuels reduction pretty much the same thing. I gotta respect those that do thorough research and keep turning in such articles despite their superiors' strong disapproval.

on the other hand....
When I was working helicopter duty on the Red River Valley (of the north) floods many years ago I was notified that some news helicopters would be given the right to fly though our "no fly zone" in the flood area. Many took the additional liberty of landing at will to interview and get "visuals". Some were national news reps.

After the river stopped rising and it looked like the folks trying to save their towns and the many volunteers who came to help could take a short break I attended a Sunday service in a church in one of the small towns I was serving, intended to give thanks for the grace of God and infusion of volunteers that had saved the town from destruction. The church was packed with towns people, volunteers, and a small contingent of national guard service people in dress uniform. About 10 minutes in to the service I was called to direct a helicopter into the towns heliport. CBS had come to town. After landing they marveled at how deserted the town was and stupidly I told them that "everyone was in church". I kick myself to this day for being such a stupid hick.

They immediately ran to the church...which was obvious due to the huge amount of vehicles parked in front...and despite my warnings that I did not think it was a "good idea" they entered the church. Cameras (and bright lights) running they proceeded to "get visuals" of a churchful of people weeping with relief that their town was not going to be lost to the flood. About the time that I was stepping in front of the camera to tell them to leave, I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around to see the contingent of National Guard behind their rather large and imposing squad leader standing in the aisle. All he said was "we'll take care of this" and they proceeded to lift and carry the reporter and cameraman out of the church and to their helicopter. The suggestion was made strongly that they might want to consider taking off prior to the time that church let out, at which point it seemed to dawn on the reporter that they had done something "wrong". The cameraman had already climbed in and the pilot was firing up the engine but up to that point she had been screaming about 1st amendment rights violation and how dare they lay hands on her. As they took off, I relayed what had just happened to our com center and when they landed at other flooded towns in the valley they were met by either our guys or National guard squads and "escorted" around those towns.

I have a very hard time making myself ignore the memory of that incident whenever I have to deal with the media. One bad apple... or a very ambitious reporter.. can spoil the lot.


06/21 Fantastic slide show of the Arizona fires here:


06/21 Next time you hear someone ripping the government over what we spend on firefighting, or how big's the budget, remember these:

Almost 5,000 homes -- from cabins to mansions -- are currently threatened by the Rodeo Fire. That's one fire and $1 billion in real estate.

Two years ago it cost about $75 million to replace almost 500 homes in Los Alamos.

Now how much was that fire budget again?

06/21 I live in Colorado and my husband and I, both Colorado natives, were in
Pueblo talking to two mechanics about what is involved in your job. You
guys are very impressive and I just wanted to say thank you. Two of the
fires are in places very close to us, one in geography and the other in
our hearts. It is hard to express appreciation so the best I can say is
Thank you.
Chris Majors
06/21 Not to split hairs or get into a moniker war here, "Original Firescribe", but I used the moniker Firescribe first on this site in the spring/summer of 2000 when I started posting what I thought might be internet links of interest to those who read here.. This was before the News Page originated. I'm a bit attached to using it still and not having it politicized or confused with slams against reporters or anyone else. I find some reporters good and some to be avoided. End of story. I would rather try to educate.

So my clarification. I am not the one who signs themself as Original Firescribe, although I am the original poster under the moniker Firescribe on this website. Ab, I would like to continue using it.


Yes, Firescribe, and thanks for your good work through the years. You have brought enjoyment to this Ab and others, I would bet.

06/21 off the Coal Seam enroute to Million....

All Be Safe.... Later


Take some photos for us, Hickman. Ab.
06/21 From John:

Siberian smokejumpers to join firefighting efforts

06/21 I thought you'd like a quick pic from the Rodeo Fire near Showlow AZ. This pic was taken at about 1600 hrs just outside Winslow AZ, near the Tanker Base, about 120 miles from the fire. As I'm writing this note to 'ya, fire is 60,000+, unknown amount of homes destroyed or damaged, and folks on the Rim who haven't yet evacuated, are on their toes.

Fire did plume out about 1730 tonight. Just about every fire department in AZ has someone going to the fire. Rumor has it (and this came from a reliable FS employee) if the fire continues north and gets out of the pines, they're going to try and stop it before it reaches Holbrook, AZ on I-40. Also, as I was returning home from NM, visibility on I-40 was down to 100' this afternoon at about 1500 hrs. Winds were 35+mph. Predicted to go 40+ tomorrow.

Everyone stay safe, and we'll see 'ya on the Rim
AZ Trailblazer

Put it up on Fire 10 photo page. Ab.

06/21 On the subject of Reporters:

The New York Times has a great writer working from their Bradenton, Fl
office. His name is Tom Bailes. What sets him apart in my opinion is what
he is willing to invest in his background research.

A couple years ago Tom asked for and got permission to attend Basic Fire
Control Training(, or BFCT) with Florida's Division of Forestry. This is the
same school that Rangers in Florida have to attend before working the
fire-line. This school incudes First Responder, S130, S190, and several
other components.

After completing the school Tom spent a full season tagging along with DOF
rangers acting as a reporter/ volunteer.

His hands-on experience really showed through when he wrote his series
"Inside the Fire" last year. At last word this series has prompted a book
offer so maybe someday in the future everyone can read for themselves
what a fine job Tom did.

Good job Tom and thank you,

Flash in Fla
06/21 Ab,

I think it time for us to all of us to write, email, or call our US Senators and Representatives and bluntly ask why the suppression positions in the federal wildfire organizations are unfilled and unfunded. It is clear that there is not going to be a lack of overtime this year. I have talked to BLM and Forest Service personnel out west and they still have positions to be filled once Congress comes up with the promised money.

Arizona Governor Hull has asked President Bush for more help and is being told there are not enough resources to go around right now. Is the Federal Government hoping they can call on the military if things get worse. Somebody ought to remind them that they have military personnel committed to Afghanistan and numerous other hot spots.

California is playing games (saving money) with the staffing on their State (CDF) engines despite having opened fire season. The article I read, from the link in this column, about the Blue Cut Fire crew burn over definitely sounded like three people were on the engine. Last year engines from southern California responded to calls during the middle of fire season at the same 3 person staffing despite the Governor assuring everyone there would be four. So when things really heat up there, watch out.

We have an opportunity to try and get things done. It is going to be hard for legislative representatives to sit by idly on requests to get the jobs filled if there state starts to burn and no one is left to help. So take a few minutes and help make the promises a reality. It took the South Canyon Fire Tragedy and subsequent monster fires years to get things rolling on committed permanent positions. Now is the time to get this job done.

Everyone please stay safe and keep the families and friends of the crew of Air Tanker 130 in our prayers.


06/21 Old Firescribe,

I agree with you that most reporters do not know or care about factual
reporting concerning wildfires. I just tell myself they are in the business
of selling fishwrap, in the case of the print media. Case in point, the
Yakima Herald and the job they did on the folks from 30 mile.

The TV "personalities," well, they are in the entertainment business and
never let facts get in the way of a good story.

You can always tell if it is a slow news day by the amount of interest a fire
generates in relationship to its size.

One little tip I learned early on, if a TV camera shows up on the line and
does an "impromptu" interview, just start picking your nose about 20 seconds
into the first question and I guarantee you will not have your face on the 5
O'clock news.

06/21 Pilots Help:
note links fore and aft of this post

Fire Photo of the Week? www.sfgate.com
06/20 Memorial Fund with matching contribution:

Hawkins & Powers Aviation has established a memorial fund for the families of AirTanker T-130. Donations will be matched by Hawkins & Powers and distributed to the families. If you are interested in helping the families of Steve Wass, Craig LaBare and Mike Davis, please send your donations to

Hawkins & Powers Aviation, Inc. Attn: Genny Anders
P.O. Box 391
Greybull, Wyoming 82426
06/20 Please join us at a Memorial Service to honor our fallen heroes: Steve Wass, Craig Labare, and Mike Davis - the airmen from Tanker 130, who died in Monday's Air Tanker accident at the Cannon Fire in Walker, CA. The service will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 22, 2002 at Douglas High School in Minden, Nevada. The high school is located on Highway 88 just south of the junction with Highway 395.

For further information please contact the fire information desk at 775/782-1480.
06/20 Hey Jackson, nice post .......... but re: the reporter who went with a
"plume fire, in which winds rotate flames in a circular motion similar
to a tornado before the fire falls and explodes in all directions" --- I
gotta tell ya, that AIN'T poetic license! What that is is reporter
stupidity and laziness and editor ignorance. Combine that with the fact
that many reporters and editors don't have squat for a natural resources
background. Add to that the major phobic avoidance that most fire folks
feel toward the media and you get that kind of schitt in news reports.

I have ripped up more than a few reporters and editors over the years
(ain't that RIGHT, Q?) for their sloppyass reporting about fire.
They don't like the terminology we use, so they make up their own. They
say "surround" a fire when they heard from the PAO or IO "contain" a
fire. They think teams and crews are the same thing. They fervently
insist that hotshots are "elite." They haven't got a clue what "duff" or
"crowning" means, and they insist on changing "the fire will lay down"
to "the fire will lie down."

I finally figured out how to explain that last one to editors. Check
your verbs, dudes, it's lay, laid, laid, and it's lie, lay, lain. But
neither of those works with how a fire will lay down in the evening.
Here's the way to get it across to them: the guy hit a fly ball to deep
center. He did not flew out. He flied out. <har>

In something like six years now of writing for and about fire, I've
learned that quite a few reporters and editors in California can
actually handle reporting about fire and not muff it. Sherry Devlin with
the Missoulian can write about fire. Rocky Barker with the Idaho
Statesman is close. Judd Slivka with the Arizona Republic is the only
legitimate media writer out there that I know who has actually taken the
time and care and expense (oh, and pack test) to actually honestly
really professionally write about fire.

The rest of you fire folks, I don't blame you for being phobic about
talking to the media. I've heard some darned good scare stories and
horror stories about fire kids being badly burnt by the media (hi Cathie
and hi Bobby) but I don't see a solution in sight anytime soon. The
conference in Scottsdale last November was a damn good start, though ---
IO's from all over the country, with a few nasty Media From Hell folks
mixed in, and a few other assorted professionals. Let's hope that
concept and conference stays alive and grows.

Fire is a hot topic with the media, and it's going to get way more so
before it goes away. If you work in fire, you can't anymore hope to
totally avoid the media. One of these days your number will come up and
you'll find yourself staring at a lens with a mike in your face and
someone earnestly scribbling notes or holding a tape recorder in front
of you. Better you learn how (soon) to deal with that. And for all you
media folks reading this, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER.

~ The Original Firescribe.
06/20 The 92,000 acre Ponil Fire in Northeast NM is history thanks both to Lohrey's
Team's tenure here and rain today. Garcia's Team will close out Saturday.
Most of us are antsy for reassignment.........

Everybody continue to be safe. We are a long way from the end.
06/20 Reporters do use poetic license when describing fires. Here's a quote taken today from an MSNBC report about
some of the fires in Arizona:

"The blaze was described as a “plume fire,” in which winds rotate flames in a circular motion similar to a tornado
before the fire falls and explodes in all directions."

Cool! Falling, exploding fire! I can't believe that in my decades of firefighting, that I've missed something like that!

06/20 AL, nothing like R&R, I can't wait to get back.

Note that Wetzone Engineering did their press release from LONDON. Maybe they wanted to avoid hearing our hoots. Think they've ever heard of FIRE WEATHER? Imagine how that thing would do with one of the fire whirls? Fire lightning? Someone is paying them money to screw around with such ideas? Get a life!

(Bronx cheer)
NorCal Tom

06/20 Good to be home even if briefly for bill paying and laundry and to read theysaid. Glad youre still here. Checked the links and fire news pages. So much at our fingertips via the internet. You know much more about the fires than we do in fire camp... Just a different focus, I guess.

Here's one that grabbed me with a picture, no less. A water-raining blimp: www.msnbc.com/news/769579.asp From the same folks that came up with fire fans. Watch out, next they'll be talking squeak trees. A bit of the absurd. What a bunch of hooey.

There'll be some stories to share after the season is over, that's for sure.
LCES, and know that for some of these fires, the true Safety Zones are many miles away.
2 to 4 mph ROS, 30 to 100 foot flame lengths?
Even those fit, pack tested, tried and true could be in trouble without close attn to fire behavior...
Be safe my brothers and sisters.
AL, checking in.

06/20 Does anyone have info regarding the fire near south fork, CO or a map
indicating exact location of this fire?


06/20 Ab,

By now everyone will probably know how bad things are going in Arizona. I have watched several Phoenix channels since the Rodeo Fire Blew up. It started Tuesday afternoon and puttered around until about noon on Wednesday. It has since exploded to from 1200 acres to what was being reported as 50,000 acres by 2200 hours. The BIA/USFS were using the cropduster conversions in the morning, and continued to try using them until about 1500 hours, when the fire was estimated to be over 12,000 acres. I did not see any heavy aircraft. The area is in Arizonan's Rim country and is mixed timber and brush. Housing developments are small and scattered in the area. Three communities were ordered evacuated about 1630 hours, affecting about 4000 people. The evacuees are being routed to Show Low. Tomorrows forecast is for more afternoon winds.

The BIA did order all fire personnel off the fire in the afternoon when the fire was running at 3 to 4 miles per hour. There may not the fuel load there that Colorado has, but that is an impressive run figure.

Some local Phoenix TV websites are :
www.kpho.com/ cbs
www.azfamily.com independent
www.phoenix360.com abc

and the newspaper is the Arizona Republic. http://www.azrepublic.com/

Everyone be safe out there and remember your LCES, 10, & 18's.

06/20 Firenames from AZ.

Firenews from AZ, Show Low Fire on the Mogollon Rim. (pronounced muggi-own)

06/20 Drought Info from NOAA

SoCal Capt
06/20 Ab,
Dave was wanting info on Cannon fire. This is the IMT website for the
Cannon fire. It has maps, news releases, and a few photos.


You can also get to the team sites via the links page under Federal, the third link down is the list of Type I IIMTs. Sometimes when a new fire site goes up we find out about it first thru the team on it. Just added this link to the Fire Links 2002. BTW, I get a javascript error message and can't get into anything in the lefthand menu on the Cannon Fire site. There may be a problem with the browser I use (which 25% of our readers use). Ab.
06/20 Hi Ab,
Just wanted to let people know that a there was a USFS Engine involved in a
single vehicle rollover accident at Lake Elsinore Ca, Cleveland National Forest
on the Ortega Hwy. near the Lookout Restaurant. Had a number of us worried for a

The Firefighters leg/foot was pinned. He assisted in his own extrication done by
CDF/RCOFD personnel. Possible broken ankle/other than that he's fine.

Just a reminder to be very safe while on the road as well as on the fires we


Welcome RRU/BC. Thanks for keeping us apprised of the situation. We're really glad that all are OK and again ask people to BE SAFE. Ab.

06/19 Ab,

It's been a busy month across the West.

I hope all my wildlandfire.com friends are keeping safe and keeping others

If any one comes home on R&R over the next few days, stop by the CHAT page.
It would be good to hear from y'all and hear your experiences with these
record breaking fires.



Hey SoCal, I'll show up in FireChat at 8 PM. Cum'mon down. Ab.
06/19 I'm looking for info on the Cannon fire...water tender that crashed going to the tanker crash.. any info on driver, owner of the tender??

...also a map of the fire. I read it is threatening the town of Wellington.

thanks Dave
06/19 From Firescribe, an article in the Press Enterprise:

CDF Firefighter tells his story of the burnover and a doc comments on the firefighters' recoveries:

Links to many more stories on our Fire News Page. For those who haven't used it before, there's a 20 sec delay while the Moreover Search Engine finds and compiles the list of links to online wildland fire articles. Ab.

06/19 ok, on the lighter side, here is some fire name fun:

Flare Bear Fire: Official name of a small fire. Responsible party (an avid
bird hunter with dogs) was up on a ladder putting up a outside motion light
when a bear entered his yard, which he stated was common. His two dogs (one
puppy and one adult) were out and about but in the past had never had
problems when bears were around...not so this time. For some reason this
time the adult dog began barking at the bear. This gave the puppy courage
and it began barking and running at the bear. The bear did not like this
and began chasing after the puppy. The RP, fearing the bear would catch and
kill his pup, got down and tried to chase the bear off by yelling waving
arms etc. The bear did not like this either and bluff charged the RP. RP
immediately decides to go to plan B and runs to his garage looking for
something to scare the bear off...the rescue flare gun from his boat. He
returns outside the dogs still barking, bear still chasing, and fires the
flare gun in the direction of the bear. Flare hits tree and bounces off
landing out in woods starting fire. Fortunately this did finally chase the
bear off so he collected up his dogs, put them in the garage and grabbed a
shovel and rake and headed for the fire. Unfortunately it was a bit too hot
for hand tools so he retreated to the house, called 911 (the lookout towers
spotted it about this time as well) and returned to the fire with a garden
hose, but alas now the fire had spread out of reach of the garden hose. We
arrived shortly there after and put the fire out.

Naked Boy: Unofficial name but possibly only because at the time we didnt
officially give fires a name. It is however the name used whenever anybody
refers to this fire. Storyline: Local LE was called to a domestic problem
related to drugs. While LE was enroute our lookout towers picked up a large
black smoke which initiated a fairly large initial attack response. While
we were enroute, a 911 page came in for a garage fire (logging business
shop) at the location of the smoke we were heading too which was also the
location of the domestic call LE was headed too. We arrived on scene with
the garage fully involved and proceeded to protect the adjacent home. About
the time the VFD arrived a large pine between the garage and house torched
and sent spots all over the place starting numerous wildland fires. After a
few intense moments all the fires were contained but LE was still looking
for the person who was the cause of the domestic problem. At this point we
all figured to find him in the smouldering remains of the garage as the
resident stated he drove through the attached garage on the house ( in the
garage door and out the back wall) then drove into the logging garage where
the fire started soon after. But alas the search of the garage remains
turned up nothing and LE began a search of the surrounding area and still
could not find him. He did finally turn up a day later and the story we got
from LE is that during the fire he was across the street sitting in a tree
nekkid as a jay bird watching the whole thing.

pulaski --hey dont ferget to delete my name below!!

Oh ye of little faith! Ab.
06/19 Ab, Here are a couple more pics of T-130 for the tanker page.

Keep up the good work.


Thanks, I called them Memorial to T-130. Put 'em at the top of the AirTanker 4 Photo page. Also if ya haven't seen it, there's another photo at the bottom of AT 3. Ab.
06/19 Check out the perimeter maps for the Hayman fire. It looks like the
"dragon" grew legs yesterday.


No help expected from the weather today. I pray that everyone stays
safe out there. The blood red sunrise this morning was pretty ominous.
The fuels are as dry as I have seen in 20 years of firefighting in
northern Colorado.

Take care & Adios,
06/19 Got this off the AAP message board. Here's the address to send donations to help support families of the three Airtanker firefighters who died. Because this is a "contract" business, no government support is available to these families. Mellie

Associated Airtanker Pilots
Memorial Fund
Newhart Bookkeeping
711 D Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA 95448

06/19 Ab Note: Officer Moos originally wrote in to see if we had more than just the templates for some of the powerpoint ICS units. I've checked around and we don't. This is a followup correspondence.

Ab, Thanks for the quick reply,

Here is another for ya... ICS is a good tool but it was developed for
firefighting. I know that it can be adapted for any organization but it
would be helpful if a nationally recognized organization ( International
Association of Chiefs of Police, FEMA, FBI, etc.) would publish something
showing specifically how good this is for law enforcement too. One point my
organization has trouble with is the use of the term "chief". In most law
enforcement agencies there is only one Chief and he/she is not in charge of
finance or logistics. You see the problem... California has come out with
a "blue book" which addresses this. I am interested in any additional
information on the use of ICS by law enforcement and the practical aspects
of integrating police, fire, EMS, and public works response.

Thanks Bunches.
Officer A. Moos

06/19 To LBP and Flash from Florida,

Ah! LBP I hope you catch and release! (Although I'd be honored to be on your crew anytime anywhere!) Thank you.

Flash, I'll listen and learn, but I won't ever shut up :)

It's people like the two of you who make me want to become part of this life, and I'll take your lessons and advice straight to my heart and mind.

Thanks again to both of you, and you too Ab!
Tenderfoot in Montana
06/19 SINCERE CONDOLENCES to family and friends for those who recently lost their lives fighting fires world wide,
especially the 3 who lost their lives making a slurry drop on the Cannon fire. Everyone in the fire community is


The Job Series 0462 and Series 0455 Pages are updated. No new posts on the Jobs Page.

The FIRE Links, 2002 at the top of theysaid is updated. This page contains links to all fires, 2002 that have pages on the www. Many sites also have photos.

06/18 You know what's fun, when a newguy falls totally for the first crazy rumor
you make up, that's fun. Relax, Tenderfoot. I'm a FS fire foreman, I could
be your boss (if not now, someday) (Near Future) Memo came from someone a
little miffed that things like 30 Mile and the Haymen Fire keep on
happening, and what we as an agency do to try to correct it. For the
record, we don't need a bunch of new rules, we need to follow the old rules,
LCES and the Ten Standard FFO's (and I don't mean the F.I.R.E. O.R.D.E.R.S.)
There is currently no plan that I know of to psycho test all of us, Allah
forbid, but if one comes up, you heard it here first! Sorry to the rest of
y'all who bought that one like ol' Tender (you know who you are)... I made
it up. I couldn't help myself...


Trolling LBP? Looks like you hooked one. Ab.
06/18 Montana Tenderfoot,

I had been on the job for about 3 days when I received some of the best
advice I would hear for years. I was allowed to go on a 20 acre fire to
observe, and feeling the need to show my knowledge (gleened from being a
volunteer for a few years) I started to voice my opinion.

The ranger next to me with his 22 yrs experience turned and said "You're
here to learn. As of right now you may as well assume you know nothing,
because we will. Shut-up Listen Learn."

Rude? maybe. Right? definitely.
My partner is retiring this year with 35 yrs in. And with all the training
and schooling and effort I have invested, I am not even in his league. I
spend every day watching him and listening for that last tidbit of info that
might save my life, or at least make my job a little easier.

If you will read the archived posts you will find that many people before
you have voiced similar concerns about hiring delays and all. You may have
a fresh point of view, but with the flood of retirees and replacements, the
chances are slim.

More importantly, slow down and listen. LBP was being sarcastic. Hello???
His point was your point as far as the likelihood of that politically correct
memo is concerned.

I figure this will probably set you off and you will most likely take it as
someone else with ego and attitude, but I hope you will take a chance to
breathe, slow down and consider if there might be some good advice here for
you too.

Good luck out there, bud, maybe if I go north or you go south we can argue
our points over a cold one.

Flash in Florida
06/18 I have been a volunteer rural firefighter for six years and have finally decided
to take the jump to wildland firefighting. Searching through job listings on
the internet (Thank you, Ab, for linking to the job sites!) that many openings
have a cut-off date of around February, yet the position doesn't close until
August or November.

Am I getting in too late in the game to have a chance? On average, are all of
the positions usually filled by this time of year and how often do positions
open up throughout the summer?

Also, what are the chances of someone like myself, who has six years of just
volunteer experience, have in being able to get hired in a permanent or even
temporary/seasonal position?

I have submitted a few applications (BLM and BIA, via the internet) and plan
to submit to the forestry service as soon as the paperwork comes in. Are those
three services typically enough to get hired on or is it necessary to apply at
the state level as well? Does filing an application on internet really worthwhile,
or should I mail in forms to those agencies as well?

Thanks, in advance, to anyone out there who can answer these questions. If these
can be found in a FAQ online somewhere, please post a link. By the way, the FAQ
on this site and the NIFC are very well done, but are still a little vague, yet

Also, thanks to Ab for a very resourceful site.

WillFightFireForFood in Missouri
06/18 Blue Cut/Injured Firefighters

About 3:30 p.m., the flames caught fire crews while they were positioned to protect a house east of I-15 near Summit Valley Truck Trail. The trucks were overrun, and at least one firefighter deployed an emergency shelter for protection from the flames, Gibson said.

Three firefighters suffered first- and second-degree burns and were flown to a hospital, said Ron Hunt of the U.S. Forest Service.



Thanks, Irish. Slideshow at that site. Ab.

06/18 A Grain of Insight From a Newbie:

It's very interesting when you tell people that you want to be a wildland firefighter. Those in the business say, oh, so you're ready to work in 90 to 100 degree heat, with your face in the dirt and no shower for a week, out on the road for weeks at a time. Hike up and down the roughest terrain, live in fire camp, etc. , etc....

The true test is trying to get a job in fire! If you can wade through the B.S. of actually getting hired, then wade through the B.S. of all the veterans who look down on you, then make it through the B.S. of waiting to be called after you've devoted yourself completely to training, mental and physical, for a couple of weeks...then these other "hardships" are a drop in the bucket. All you administrators out there who are so busy, remember, you've got people waiting who are willing to give 110%, and they need to know what's going on with something they've devoted so much time to.

Tenderfoot in Montana

P.S. to LBP about the (Near Future) Memo:
I am LMAO at the typical and predictable government reply your memo concerns. As soon as something like this situation hits the public eye, you need to make it look as if something is being done. Terry Barton is a human being, just like the rest of us, and being emotional is part of it. Who among us has not performed some symbolic action in our lives comparable to burning a love letter from some past (or present) partner? Yes, it's unfortunate that the situation which occurred did, especially involving such a veteran employee.....but let's face it, that's all it is, an unfortunate situation. Are you willing to spend the dollars required to psychologically evaluate every employee who needs a red card from your ever shrinking budget? "Anyone found to have experienced sadness, depression, or poor judgment will not be issued a red card until their condition can be evaluated and corrected with the appropriate therapy and medications." That's all we all need....a government appointed psychologist to tell us we need therapy and medications! You scare me.

06/18 I want to say thank you to the hundreds of firefighting
professionals that did an outstanding job of battling the
Bullock Fire near Tucson, Arizona. Your hard work and
dedication is greatly appreciated. I realize that most of
you have been reassigned to other blazes, now, and are
working to protect homes in other areas of the country.
Please stay safe out there. I wish there was something I
could do to somehow let each of you know how important
you are, and how much you are appreciated.

Anne McD

You're welcome from ff everywhere. Ab.
06/18 Please be careful All,

I heard from a friend that the Colorado dragon is on the move again.
We need to make sure that EVERYONE comes home safely.

Please, please take care of yourselves and take care of one another.

It's been difficult trying to find out how are the CDF folks who
faced the firefront at Cajon Pass. Here's what I have heard:
the burns on the three were on hands, elbows and noses and that
they will recover. There was one shelter deployment. At least for
some time all three were at Arrowhead Regional Hospital.

I haven't heard more about the victims of the water tender rollover.
I hope and pray they're alright. As someone learns more, please
let us know.

Everyone, when an apparent emergency arises remember that it's
easy to want to be hasty so as to work faster and do more.
People in fire are helpers. Responding quickly is second nature.
Be safe first if you have the urge to hurry. We need everyone
to come home safe and sound at the end of the day.

My heart goes out to all who have lost loved ones or who've had
loved ones injured in the last few days. I have my candle burning
(safely) even as I write. My heart also aches for Terry and her
family and her big mistake. Emotions can cloud judgment in many
different kinds of situations.


PS. Pulaski, I'm glad you came to visit my part of the world... <BIG HUG>

06/18 Any more info on the conditions of the two CDF engine crews that got "overrun" (burned over)? Wish they would post a news release or something on the CDF fire site.


06/18 I met the crew of Tanker 130 while it was stationed at Libby Tanker Base (AZ) in '99, really
nice crew. The co-pilot gave my crew a tour of the aircraft while there. It was the first
contracted C130 to enter service as an AT and if I recall correctly first entered service with
the military in 1954 or 1955. There was a section of the bulkhead in the cockpit that had been
signed by each of the aircrafts crew over the years. For anyone interested there is a nice
photo of this tanker making a run in 1999 over Sonoita, AZ on the Airtankers 3 photo page.
My condolences to the friends and families of the crew.


Thanks Fedfire (formerly USFS FEO). Readers, it's the last one on the page. Nice photo and a nice way to remember them, doing what they loved to do. Ab.

06/18 Shame on you Ab! Chief Egle's foolish remarks do not justify this nasty slam at everyone and everything non green.


06/17 Check out Airtanker.com for latest on C-130 crash
Ab, names have been released. Please post for all friends and co-workers who may have known these fine men.

Hawkins and Powers C-130 Herc, #130.
Captain Steve Wass,
Right seat Craig LaBare,
Engineer Mike Davis

- IA Dispatcher


This is a loss for all of us. Condolences. Ab.

06/17 Sorrow

Some of us are reacting with anger but all of us are reacting with profound sorrow. May all of us be safe as this now becomes a fire season that has claimed some of our very best.

May God bless the three aviators who are no longer with us and may God bless their families in these most difficult of times.


06/17 For Riley:

Yeah - Dana sent you the latest and greatest about OWCP. It is all there is. I'll add my two cents worth. I was injured on the job over three years ago and found out one of the "wonderful" perks of being a federal employee - OCWP! You have very few avenues to go down if OWCP chooses to ignore you. You cannot sue, hire an attorney, or CALL anyone (no one answers the phone or you get stuck in the "chose the follwing options" vortex) to try and get them to hurry up deciding about your case. The wonderful OWCP person on my forest tried month after month to get ANYONE to return her calls or answer her letters. No luck. I ended up using my own health insurance to pay for medical bills and surgery. I had to resort to calling my congressman and having him contact OWCP about my claim. So far, THEY HAVE IGNORED HIM TOO! OK - I'll have to admit, if they are as overworked as some of my fellow employees, I can see why it takes years to get any answers. Just have your friend DOCUMENT everything (pretend you are a dispatcher and document "until you drop"). Document letters written, phone conversations (if you get any), doctor visits. Get receipts! You get the idea.

Good luck

06/17 Our prayers to the family of the three that died in the C-130 crash that killed all on board. Also, a fire near Winnemucca, NV burning along the railroad tracks caused visability problems to those driving on I-80. A 7- car pile up, including a tanker carrying cyanide (tank not leaking) was a result. Unknown injuries as of 1830 Nevada time. Already at a National Prepardness Level of 4, lets all remember to be safe out there. Hope to trade stories with you all in October. 10 & 18.

~*~Great Basin Firefighter~*~

06/17 (Near Future) Memo

In light of the tragic events leading to the Haymen Incident, ALL U.S.F.S. employees will undergo a mandatory psychological evaluation as part of the (re)certification process. Anyone found to have experienced sadness, depression, or poor judgment will not be issued a red card until their condition can be evaluated and corrected with the appropriate therapy and medications.


06/17 Riley:

It sounds like your friend filed a CA-1 for a Traumatic Injury. He will be covered under "continuation of pay" for 45 calendar days from the date of injury. His pay comes through his regular agency just as if he were still on the job. If he is still unable to return to work after those 45 days are up, his agency puts him on sick leave, annual leave or leave without pay (his choice). If he choses to go on leave without pay, he fills out a form CA-7 to get reimbursed from the Dept of Labor (OWCP), where they will reimburse him 75% of his salary (if he has a wife or dependents) until he is able to return to work. The 75% is non-taxable, so it nearly evens out to what he'd be taking home from his salary. If he uses his sick or annual leave, he can re-purchase it when his injury has resolved itself and he's released back to duty. Hope this helps set his mind at ease. Stay safe!


06/17 I wonder how Chief Jim Egle is feeling tonight about his idiot statement.
the other day.

06/17 From Firescribe

CDF Firefighters overrun: Three firefighters suffered first- and second-degree burns


06/17 Blue Cut Fire, R5 San Bernardino Natl Forest

Fire is out of control again. 3 CDF Firefighters have been overrun and
airlifted to local burn centers with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. Mandatory
Evacuations in Oak Hills Community with approx 1000 structures threatened.
I 15 closed in both directions. This is the latest as of 1700 PT.


06/17 Just finished with the news and the grapevine. A C-130 went down on the outskirts of Walker, CA after completing a retardant run. The accident was caught on video and it appeared that the wings bucked at the center spar. After watching the video, I hold little hope of any survivors. After the accident, a water tender responding to the fire caused by the crash rolled, and the crew of two had to be extricated, with one being careflighted to the regional trauma center with spinal injuries.....definitely a bad day for the Sierra Front.

Just watching the news, NTSB just confirmed that there was 3 confirmed fatalities in the Tanker.....the thoughts and prayers of the Firefighters of the NDF go to the crew and their families....

Stay Safe, Everyone

06/17 CNN showed an amateur video of the fiery crash itself. It looked like the right wing was on fire and both wings came off. The explosion was horrendous.

Found this on the wlf news page.


Tahoe Teri

Ab note added later: An AT guy reporting on the AAP who reviewed the video frame by frame later said there was no fire before the wings came off. We all want to know what happened, but let's be careful to leave the investigation to the investigators.

06/17 The AT crash near Walker CA (eastern Sierra, 90 mi S of Reno) was confirmed by R5 FAM.
Medical crews are responding.
The tanker was likely to have a crew of three.

Also reports of a vehicle rollover, watertender enroute to the crash.

Thoughts and prayers for all involved. Please be safe, people.

06/17 A Sad Day........

Looks like we lost a air tanker today on the Cannon fire in Walker, CA. Details are sketchy right now, but more will follow soon. Here's godspeed to the crew praying for their safety, and god bless their families.....

Stay Safe, Everyone........Beigefoot......

Ab is trying to confirm this and prays it is not true...

06/17 Update on post from earlier today:
I did hear from Tallahassee that as of 2003 we will also only honor redcards
of the same calendar year. (I think thats the best way to explain it.)

So here's my question:
If all redcards expire on Dec 31st each year and you
have a fire on January 2nd, (realistically how quickly can you get renewed?)
what happens? Is there anykind of overlap built into the system?

I still hope so see what yall have in official NWCG or NIFC memos or any
internal memos from major entitys.

Thanks Again,

Ab sez, Will some major entity (or acronym) please write in with this info?

06/17 Riley,
I am not a "fellow federal employee" but I found this...on the following site www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/owcp/ca-11.php .
Don't know if it will help. If they are represented by a union, that may also be a source for help.

I wish it were better news.
06/17 does anyone know where i can see a list on the net of all the available
or unavailable crews per region/forest? and is there any way to find out
where a certain crew may be sent?
trying to find friends

Sometimes such info is available at the regional level, but often not. (Check the Links page and look under News and Reports then Situation Reports by Geographic Area for the places to start exploring.) Here's the reason why the info you want might not be available. Say a resource is assigned to a fire and the fire is contained before their 2 week work period is up. Or say another fire starts nearby. The resource is now needed to fight the new fire. It may get reassigned there without a record of the reassignment being sent to the home unit. This has been happening in Colorado as new fires start and as priorities change based on values at risk. Ab.
06/17 Thanks for your CDF fire information post, FFF. What a fine piece of writing: Fire It Up! Ab, thanks for archiving it under Documents Worth Reading.

I agree that the public probably doesn't have a clue about how the state funds fire or that the bureaucracy can reduce effectiveness and potentially affect public safety. Fire + the cash register = politics. What is really being funded? Does the public know?

The problems with both CDF Fire's identity as a fire organization and funding of CDF Fire are similar to our FS fire issues. At least in the fed system we have fire managers at the highest regional levels who have been firefighters on the ground earlier in their careers. We have your problems with appointed non-fire managers at a higher level. How can people who have never fought fire know enough to advocate for appropriate funding? People who lead fire organizations should be mandated to have firefighting experience.

NorCal Tom

06/17 To all my fellow Federal Employee's,

I need some help here. One of my partners, a GS-0083 Police Officer, just got hurt making an arrest last week. The officer will not be able to come back to work for six (6) months. Heres the problem, HRO/OPM just told him that he will only be covered with full pay for the next 45 days, then he will have to use his sick leave and annual leave, when that runs out He might get 75% of his full pay. The 75% is only done by a case by case basis. Can anyone tell me where to find the federal governments workman comp laws? Because if this is how it works, then all of us federal civil servants are in deep trouble.


06/17 News about the person who allegedly started the Hayman Fire:

Comms problems:

Re fire names, here's one from yesterday from the R3 intelligence news and notes page, a new fire that started on Father's Day. www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/webdaily/swaintnn.php

"6/16 1606 SNZ...New fire start, Father's Fire, Las Vegas district, approximately 2 miles
south of Buena Vista."

06/17 THANKS to firefighters, air tankers and helicopters for working so hard on the fire at Bodfish/Lake Isabella, CA (30 mi n. of Bakersfield in the Sierra). Hot and smoky, you work very hard. We appreciate it.

Some houses burned, 5 I think, but it could have been much worse. The wind made the thing really go. Someone said it burned 3500 acres in no time. A bunch of us (mostly older generation) had to evacuate. Things are looking better now even if we're not out of the woods yet.

For those of you homeowners reading who have houses in the woods, clean up the brush and dead lower branches, get the junk out of your gutters, roof with non-flammable materials. They called my place a "keeper". I was glad I had the cleanup done.

Sara the grandma

You're welcome and THANK YOU for doing your part. Wish more people living on the interface made their homes fire safe. Ab.

06/17 Hey guys,
I was just speaking with the powers that be about DOF employee's redcards
and they were unaware of the necessity for the 2002 date stamp.
According to their information the cards are good for 1 year from time of

Now I am sure that your info is better than ours, but could someone give me
an official link or post that will convince them?

You guys know how it is: the little guy may have better intel, but it isn't
real until it is sent down from the top.

Flash in Fla
06/17 Regarding FIRE NAMES:

There was a fire called Dead Man Fire in eastern Tahama Co, CA in 1972. It was 600-700 acres and killed no one. At the time I was amused by the name and wondered how they would get folks to staff it. It wouldn't have been funny if someone had died.


06/17 Hey Ab,

Sad day here in CO. We found out at the dispatch center like everyone else, on the news. While I don't agree with her actions, and know she made a grave error in judgement, people have been known to make horrible decisions when emotionaly distraught. I do feel sorry for everyone that was involved in this incident, including all the people that lost their homes, business', firefighters, everyone involved. I also feel sorry for Terry's family and her. The fire was not maliciously set to start the largest fire in Colorado history, like a previous writer mentioned. It was a stupid accident.

We all have a rough road ahead dealing with these issues, especially for people directly involved with the incident. Now is the time for all of us to pull together and try to understand this tragedy. There will be plenty of negativity from the public, let's not start amongst ourselves. While I did not know Mrs. Barton personally, many people who do, have said only good things about her. Ask yourself have you never made a stupid decision while being very emotionally upset. Sure you can say not to this magnitude, but just ponder the question.

keep up the good work everyone on the firelines and keep your chins up. :)

06/17 Dana... good reply, and I respect your speaking up for your beliefs. Going
the distance refers to being an employee in a primary fire position with
one of the federal agencies in our state. You have concerns and
suggestions for improving the "system " and speaking your mind is
something that is not admired by my employers. Try living with
discontent and the result of speaking your mind once you've gone beyond
beyond the point of walking away from a lifetime of service. Try to make
a fresh beginning in a system that has little to no use for an over the
hill ground pounder and you will understand that little to no options
exist to one who has spent a lifetime chasing fires in between endless
brush cutting , sign painting, and other B.S. busy work kind of crap the
non fire fighter overhead throw your way. Live with your concerns year
after year, season in and season out then you will have gone the
distance. Give em crap for me, they've beat this 'ol dog too long. The
end is the only hope in sight.... and it is near. Thanks.

06/16 "Another CDF BC,"

It would be interesting to see the cost of the different engine strike
teams you mentioned.

What would really be interesting would be the see the TRUE cost of
agency strike teams.

Unlike agency strike teams, the private contractor's rate has to cover
all operating expenses, including capital outlay, (the engine itself, hose,
etc.) fueling and maintenance, labor, workman's comp, liability insurance,
vehicle insurance with just a little left over, hopefully, as "profit."
With agency strike teams, the cost seems to be limited to labor, fuel,
repairs, and per diem. With no profit motive, why economize! Being
"self-insured," the taxpayers will be there to bail out anything that goes

06/16 Sorry but I have to say it.... How ignorant do you have to be to burn a letter from "your estranged Husband" while you are patrolling the Forest to enforce a fire ban? I know I might take some heat for this, but please where is the common sense at. You can be upset about family issues, but you really don't have to start one of the biggest fires CO has ever seen.

An R-5er
06/16 From Firescribe:

Aw sh*t...

06/16 Dear Ab,
I am interested in the topic of contractor engines due to the fact that
they seem to be getting an increasing amount of fire calls. Is there a web
site that I could look up to find out about job openings? Even though there
seems to be a need for fire resources I have found that my summer of making
money and increasing my fire experience has consisted of long days of
sitting around. I'll still be waiting for that first call, and for those of
you out on the line be safe.
Sincerely, the temporary New Mexico couch potato.
06/16 Firescribe - Have you seen this article?
US officials anticipate record wildfire season


06/16 WEB,

Gosh, I don't think I even speak for all the "part time" professional firefighters in MN. I don't know what you mean by going the distance though, I wish I did. And I sure don't know what you mean by "quit whinning". I say what I think and do what I say, personal consequences be damned. If focusing attention on the current shortsighted and wasteful wildfire suppression policy of the MN DNR by testifying on a regular basis before legislative oversight committees AND suggesting alternatives is whining....I am a whiner. I guess I always considered those that constantly complained about problems but failed to ever do anything to improve the situation as whiners. As a result I have a personal policy of not complaining about a problem unless I have a possible solution AND am willing to put myself on the line to help fix the problem.


06/16 Fact: ALL OES engines are lime green (unless it is still one of the very old models that hasn't been replaced yet).

Fact: ALL OES strike teams are not lime green. They are not staffed 24/7. They are available unstaffed 24/7. Exception: if the engine is acting as a reserve in place of a front line engine.

RE: the Colorado Fire Chief...Nah, never mind. He's probably embarrassed to death himself by now. Good theatre though....NOT!

RE: "Fire It Up"... Hope the director reads it. Looks like the shoe is fitting pretty snug....


Let's post the daily costs for the following resources:

Type 3 USFS Strike Team
Type 3 CDF Strike Team
Type 2 OES Strike Team
Type 1 OES Strike Team
Type 6 Private Contractor Strike Team

Let the chips fall where they may! Take the challenge.

"Another CDF BC"

I'd be curious to see these. Ab.
06/16 omg, Ab did I open up a can of worms?

yes, the Sacramento Bee is slanted, remember they are in the CA capitol city, and someone needs to remind the editor to corral his writers until they have FACTS! (muttering about that statement that they stopped by the memorial for 14 smokjumpers who lost their lives at Storm King fire - did someone forget about the Prineville shots)
FACT: not all OES engines are lime green, only some.
FACT: the strike teams OES sends are for STRUCTURAL, and those engines are manned (personed) 24/7 *used on home turf.
FACT: if OES calls for an engine, it goes; who "persons" it is decided by someone else, usually - not all FF have wildland experience before "personing" that engine. lots of those engines are at locations where the biggest wildfire is a grass fire. (highly unlikely that someone from a city has wildland/timber experience).
FACT: yup, those "strike teams" will be reimbursed 24/7, probably with hazard pay too.

but it all makes good press for the civilians.

please withhold my name!

I don't think the SacBee article is necessarily slanted because of an error like failing to mention the shots. That comment was not central to their report. They should check the details, however.

Withhold your name? HAR I don't even know what it is! Ab.

06/16 AB, Time to Fire It Up!

The debate over the cost of a CDF strike team vs an OES strike team is stark! What has ALWAYS amazed me is how the media portrays our local government brothers and sisters. I have to give credit to our OES friends, they have the media's attention these days.

You would think that the Office of Emergency Services was a huge fire department. What it is really is a fleet of unstaffed engines scattered throughout the state. They are headed up by a small staff of "Chiefs" in Sacramento. . .

This article is a "must read" and will be added to the Documents Worth Reading on the Archives Page. To view in its entirety, see here: Fire It Up! Very nicely done! A prime example of why this page exists! Ab.

06/16 v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^



06/15 Well, perhaps all of the talk about how we should be one happy family is just talk....BLM Bob is right, it is unfortunate that there are some in this profession that have the "We're-going-to-stop-this-fire-or-die-trying" mentality. But they are everywhere and not just confined to Volunteers. But then Ab chimes in with his thoughts...I'm trying to figure out who he is slamming....VFD's? OES? Anyone who isn't in a "Green" Strike Team? I have to say that I have seen just as many "Green" Strike Teams sitting in lawn chairs as I have seen VFD, State, or Municipal Strike Teams....and the cost issue...well, if cost is a issue, then don't request "Non-Green" Strike Teams. However, since there isn't enough of the "Green" Strike Teams to go around....just a ramblin' thought...still a little rummy after putting in 1800' of sod today...

Stay Safe Everyone.....from one of the newest to the ranks of Safety Officers...Beigefoot

Most families I'm aware of argue and disagree on a variety of issues. It's ok. Ab.

06/15 To Chief Jim Egle of Trumbull, CO...

Dear Sir (use the term loosely),

I know you live in a little town smack dab in the middle of the woods (so do I) BUT your attitude is insane! How you got to be appointed as Chief is a mystery. You are ignert like BLM Bob said. You WILL GET SOMEONE KILLED ONE DAY. I hope none of my friends or family ever fights fire with you., unfortunately some already have. I have spent time as an EMT/Volunteer firefighter, Wildland firefighter, and now a dispatcher also have a degree in forestry, you are NOT a credit to the firefighting community, structure or wildland.

As far as getting no support from the Forest Service, (per the article that seemed to be written to promote his ego) I think that's a bunch of Sh*&. When there is a severe drought, high winds, erratic fire behavior pushing a fire straight towards your town and you think the best answer is to stay, put people in the direct line of the fire to save million dollars homes from people who could have helped save their house by creating some defensible space and want to complain about smoke from prescribe burns that could have reduced some fuels to help prevent this disaster, YOUR priorities are in the wrong order. How do you expect support with that attitude. NOBODY'S house is worth anyone's life. You obviously have never been to training or maybe your ego got in the way and you couldn't listen. It's too bad your firefighters think your way is the right way. This is a severe incident, and should have been treated like one. You think you would have learned after Schoonover, a couple weeks ago.

I don't want anyone to loose their home, BUT people that want to live smack dab in the middle of the woods need to take some responsibility for their own actions, as to what they build their home out of and how they landscape, there are ways (proven) to help your home be "survivable" in the event of a wildfire. PEOPLE NEED TO WAKE UP. I can say this cause I live smack dab in the middle of the woods myself. We battle the same thing in our community. It is not up to all the government agencies to hold people's hands, grab a saw and do some work on your own property so we can concentrate on actually fighting the fire and not putting people's lives in danger to do so.

Sorry to rant and rave, but the article really hit a nerve. I have no patience for those attitudes. If those are your kinda parties, I hope I NEVER get invited.

Sincerely, radiogirl

PS to all those real hardworking firefighters, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, we couldn't do it without ya!!! You are my heroes.
06/15 Dana,

I find you comments interesting but please don't think that you speak for all MN. professional firefighters. Don't you only speak for those that work fire only part time? What do you do for a paycheck otherwise? I gotta admit that you have some good points, but untill you go the distance, quit whinning.

06/15 BLM Bob,

If your near Chief Egle do me a favor, and punch him straight in the grill!!! What an #$%@#$%!!! I just re-read the PD's for hotshot crews and also looked through all my firefighting training manuals, just seemed that I missed the part where is said that Houses come before the lives of firefighters. To bad someone couldn't arrest Egle for criminal endangerment to a civil servant. Well I've vented. You all take care of yourselves on the line.
06/15 You are right on the money BLM Bob.
Chief Jim Egle of Trumbull sounds like he has been watching too much TV.
He does promote the image a "true hero" though.
Wheither it's good or bad, wildland fire does have a way of thinning out
the gene pool when it comes to "true heros" like Jim.
It's the poor innocent smoes who happen to be tagging along with the likes
of Jim that seem to pay the price for such
foolish illusions. I have concluded that Jim is merely a Type One used car
salesmen (UCST1) who has inadvertently elected himself savior of the world.
Obviously operating beyond his Red Card Qualifications of a mere Type 3
World Savior. (WST3)
06/15 Someone weighs in on the economics of privatizing fire...

Today's interesting fact: Since the Prescott National
Forest closed to the public three or so weeks ago
(after an interface fire that burned four homes),
rangers there have written more than 75 citations for
people who continue to go in the forest.

Another link of interest...

06/15 Ab,

I have recently been on a few fires in Colorado (including the Hayman fire) after taking two seasons of down time. It's great to be back. Especially the one night a fellow friend and I found an older woman in her home and helped her out to safety. I've done a lot of things for my age all the while trying to narrow the field down as to what I want to do with my life. In fire I get the best of all worlds. Adrenaline from the fire, from the people and from the hard, hard work day in and day out. There is nothing that I love more than what fire gives me. some day when I feel experienced enough to lead a fire team or engine crew into a fire I want to seriously consider owning and operating a contracted team. My one question has to do with the present and my future.

What is the demand for contracted teams and are they worth the effort to build and operate one? If there is anyone out there with info on these specialty teams or just would like to brag about their own team , please do and email me if you like.
Thanks and take care this season,
06/15 From Firescribe, some federal funding news:
06/15 Hi all:

In regards to a some earlier posts:

It seems that despite the states budget crisis, CDF is going to add an additional ten engines and a helicopter in Southern California.

Camp Cuts:
I have heard rumors about fire crews being cut, but this seems to be coming from the Department of Corrections. The budget calls for a decrease in the number of beds in the state's prison system. It seems that CDC may make those cuts from the Camp system. I think its more of a political leverage point then a real threat.

$20 Million to bill local government:
CDF was going to begin billing local government for non-wildland fire emergency (medical aids, structure fires, etc) responses. This was calculated to offset a $20 million funding cut. The union has managed to throw that idea out and avoid the funding reduction.

Hiring Freeze:
After some bad press the governor froze all state hiring. I have heard that this is already softening up for some emergency positions. Before the freeze hit the Department managed to certify (that is offer jobs to) everyone on the week old promotional Captains list. Certing that entire list allowed access to the open list and some of Forest Service folks have been offered jobs. The bottom line; if you made the list, you have a good shot at a job.

It wasn't us, it was OES. Other states won't use us because CDF costs so much, yet the pavement queens lead the charge out of state and really ring up the charges.

Naming Fires:
When I was a Captain in dispatch, my partner developed a policy for naming fires: Before naming it, imagine what the tee shirt will look like.

Whats New Department:
California Assembly bill 2234 would rename CDF Cal Fire and move the Deparment out from under the Resource Agency. The Union is pushing it and the Department is against it.

With the exception of December and January, we have sent at least one strike teams of engines out of Unit every month for the last year. In twenty years, I've never seen that happen before. Southern California never had a winter. Be careful this summer.

06/14 Ab,

I noticed that the new fire shelters have been approved. They are slightly heavier than the old style, but the news release did not mention anything about whether or not they will fit in the existing GSA cases or the multitude of cases incorporated into line packs and other web gear. If they don't fit the existing gear many people will tend to stay with the older style due to the cost of replacing gear that was purchased with their own money. Just a thought.

SoCal Captain
06/14 Oh dear! Just when you thought folks were catching on, Chief Jim Egle of Trumbull shows just how ignernt (and dangerous) some people can be.

"You need to be prepared to die up here if it comes to that," Chief Jim Egle told the group as he emphasized how strongly his volunteers felt about saving
the area's homes.

It gets better/worse. Read it at: http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/3199766p-4248244c.phpl

Boy, it only takes one person to screw it up for everyone. Can someone please pull his pass, kick him out of the pool, show him the door, or just have him breath into a paper bag for twenty minutes so's he'll calm down before someone gets hurt?

Take care of yourselves - he may not be the only one out there like that.

Shaking my head,

Ab sez he's more than once lead the real "green" engine strike teams into the fire as they passed OES engine crews a sitt'in in those lawn chairs.  Volunteers?  What?  You know what those folks get paid per day? Last I checked you could get three USFS/BLM strike teams for under the cost of one a' them.   Ab.

06/14 I have a friend on the BLM - California Helicopter 555 "Triple Nickel" team, I think out of Bakersfield. Do you have any information or suggestions as to how to get any information on the team's activities or how to track them? I cant seem to find anything on the web.
Thanks, Mike Shore


From Firescribe:

FEMA Photos of Coal Seam Fire

Garfield Co Photos of Coal Seam Fire

06/14 There's been some talk on my forest about what happens if this fire season continues as it started and where we might get more trained firefighters say in July... or in Aug... or when students leave for school. Is there anyone at the national level looking at how that might happen?

06/14 I'm a cop who is also an EMT. I am trying to get my agency up to speed
on ICS and the unified command system for large scale, multi-agency
incidents. I found that the ICS power point slides listed on your website
were very helpful in teaching others about it. However, about half of the
modules were not completed. They only displayed a blank master template.
Any chance the entire course will be out soon. Or, can you recommend
another resource.


Officer A. Moos
Critical Incident Planner
Greensboro Police Department

I can't get to this until next week and our powerpoint advisors are off fighting fire. Has anyone bookmarked that link to fed training powerpoints? Couldn't find it in a  quick wildlandfire.com search. Maybe there's something quicker for Officer Moos there.

While I'm here, I want to thank people for sending in some great photos. If any more of you have contributions, I'm going to work on them in a batch and make them a priority on Monday morning. Please get em in. With the season as it is, no telling when I'll get to photos again.


06/14 Hi Ab(s)!

R-5 Engine,
You can get the taskbooks from www.nwcg.gov/pms/pms.php, click on taskbooks, choose the one you want, and if you have acrobat reader, you can print off as many as you want. If the link I gave you doesn't work, just go to www.nwcg.gov, choose "publications" in the upper left hand corner and proceed.

Old R5'er
06/14 Re: Fire Names

One of my favorites was the Ampli on the Carson District of the
Toiyabe. Too much time in Dog Valley I suspect. Fire names have never
been an exact science....sometimes where they begin is not where the
notoriety is gained. I named one Little Valley in 1984 which quickly
went over and down into Carson Valley. After backfiring around
Governor List's ranch that night to save it we had a lot of attention.
Seems to me the old "policy" was naming fires after employees at some
point. Statistically, the best answer is to use a geographical


06/14 Out of here tomorrow evening to Denver then Grand Junction, headed for the Coal Seam fire.
Be looking for some of the 'TheySaid' gang if any of them out there.


Have fun. Be safe. I've seen more than a few on the evening news. Ab.
06/14 AB

Thank you for your response to Leona in CO. guess no one sent you the link to the Chron's column in Thursday's
paper the one that states that CA OES sent a strike team (engines) to CO, and implies CA are the only
PROFESSIONAL FFs...........argggh and I live in CA! (I can't wait to see the backlash from that article!) 


Didn't see that one. Ab.
06/14 For those of you wondering what is going on in CDF, you may find the following letter interesting. It is written from Tom Gardner, President of CDF Firefighters to CDF Director Andrea Tuttle.

Among the contents, is reference to a 20 million dollar budget short fall. The letter was posted by President Gardner on the Union's web site, so it's public.

(AB, if you want to check this, go to www.cdf-firefighters.org)

Looks like things are heating up a bit.

"Another CDF BC"
June 11, 2002

Andrea Tuttle, Director
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
P.O. Box 944246
Sacramento, CA 94244-2460

Dear Director Tuttle:

As president of CDF Firefighters, I am privileged to represent the men and women who are the first to
respond and are at risk every time CDF handles a crisis.

On June 10th we attended the budget conference committee and were pleased when the six members
followed our recommendation and voted unanimously to restore the 20 million dollar hit against CDF.
However, we were bothered that the decision appears to have had little to do with the input of our own
department. It continues to be perceived among our members that the decision to target local government
was poorly conceived from the outset and placed an historically effective mutual aide system at risk.
Even more, the possibility of losing twenty million dollars during a particularly dangerous time created
undue confusion in the field. Our members questioned whether or not CDF would be fully prepared to
continue the necessary hiring practices needed to handle their mission of protecting the people of

As president, I am disappointed that the department has been slow in responding to what all of us believe
has the potential to be an especially egregious fire season. There is a concern that the limited fire
experience at the top level of CDF has created a vacuum where management is unable to draw upon the
personal knowledge that is inherent to those who have spent years in the field. 

As you have seen from the Palmer Drought Index, the southern half of California is currently suffering
from extreme drought conditions. In some sections of the state we already have fuels burning at a rate
normally seen in late October. While we are aware that the governor's office has recently become
proactive, and some much-needed action is going to be taken, we are dismayed that you were so late
taking a leadership role. We are concerned that CDF has become too mired in bureaucracy, and is
jeopardizing their fundamental mission of being prepared for an effective initial attack.

Except for the meet-and-greet with Tim, CDF Firefighters have had very little opportunity to discuss our
concerns with you personally. I would be willing to meet with you at your convenience.

Tom Gardner
President, CDF Firefighters
06/13 Does anyone know the web site to order NWCG student workbooks?
R-5 Engine
06/13 I am not a firefighter, but I wanted to find a way to express my thanks to all of the firefighters working so hard in Colorado. Your efforts are heroic and your sacrifices significant. Thank you very much!

Leona S.
Colorado Springs, CO

You're welcome from wildland firefighters everywhere. As most people simply trying to do our jobs well, we appreciate the appreciation. 

It is really terrific to hear your governor referring to those fighting the fires of Colorado as Fire Professionals. It is little known by the public, but federal firefighters, even most of the Incident Commanders who oversee the whole shebang from Fire Camp are classified as "Forestry Technicians". It's a sore point among most firefighters that we are not even called firefighters by our federal government.


06/13 Here are some humorous ones.

A fire in Potato Creek was of course called Potato Fire. Another lightning
caused fire 5 days later not 100 yds from the first was called the "Two

A friend told me of a fire on the day Jerry Garcia died named the "Sugar
Magnolia Fire" after his favorite Grateful Dead tune.

Upon hiking into a single tree lightning fire we found a dead doe lying on
the ground underneath the tree with a fresh burn hole clean through the
abdomen. Hence the Doe fire.

Lassen NF had a Squirrel Fire with a hilarious story behind it. It was a
hot, hot day and the air attack plane was parked on the ramp with all the
doors and windows open. A smoke was reported and all the usual responders
took off running. The air attack plane was halfway down the runway when a
squirrel suddenly ran up the pilot's leg, across his chest, and jumped from
his shoulder into the gear in the back. He was so startled he damn near
crashed. The air attack officer kept trying to find the squirrel while
flying, but only could get glimpses as it ran around the inside of the
aircraft. Upon returning to base and landing the first one out the
aircraft door was a small furry streak. The fire ended up only a 1/4 acre,
but laughs lasted a long time.

06/13 Following up on the email re: crew typing: www.or.blm.gov/nwcc/Publications/logistics/crewstd.pdf 


Ab note: This is a 210K pdf file, not too large and has some very informative tables.

06/13 Reading about the Bald Peter shirt reminded me of a shirt I picked up last season from the Porcupine Bay Fire. Though the name was innocuous and non-offensive, the shirt certainly raised eyebrows.

The porcupine is holding a structural nozzle, aiming it at a flaming snag. The fire stream leaving the nozzle will leave you laughing or gasping... take your pick.

Ab, I'll scan the shirt front at first opportunity.


FireBill -- Thanks. We may or may not post it. Lots of kids do read the site. Ab.
06/13 I was on one of the original two engines dispatched to the South Canyon Fire on July 4th. As told to John Maclean; after hiking off of the hill and meeting with the IC, we started to think of a name for our size-up report to dispatch. I suggested "Canyon Creek" but there already was a small fire earlier that year named that. So, we were looking up on the hill from the South Canyon Exit and so it became the South Canyon Fire. That's the story as I remember it and if the other four people that were there with me that day remember it differently then correct me.

The fire was far from Storm King Mountain for the first four days but by July 6 when it blew up, the locals saw it on Storm King Mountain from town and didn't know the US govt had already named it.

I don't believe the Grand Junction BLM ever shed responsibility as Molliesboy said, they in fact included us as a USFS engine which began one of the best truly interagency programs I have seen.

After flying family members of the fallen firefighters and planting crosses, I'm glad I didn't have to refer to the fire as the "MILF" fire. I agree with John that fire names are better than fire numbers and even at times finding a new geographical name can be difficult after you went to your seventh "Hog back" fire in two years.

Fred with Roosevelt IHC: Stay safe and say "HI" to Becky.
Sincerely, Nic S.
06/13 I have been looking on the web for a site that shows request for
resources and what region they have sent the request to, but have had no
luck. Anyone know if there is such a site and what is the URL?


I believe that is restricted information. Ab.
06/13 I have always enjoyed the names of wildland fires. The
best one I have seen in my 15 years in this business
was "The Bald Peter Fire" on the Deschutes National
Forest in Oregon last year. The T-shirts were quite
comical, so comical that the IC banned the t-shirt guy
from selling them. I am one of the lucky few to have
one and have been offered as much as $50 bucks for it.
This is one shirt that I will definitely keep until it
literally falls off my back.

XR5Hotshot, got a digital photo of your shirt for the miscellaneous page maybe? (Oops, if we post it, the WO may ban our links from all FS websites. Oh, I forgot, it seems they did that long ago! In spite of the fact that about a million schools send their students here for one reason or another as do PBS and National Geographic.)

HAR! Ab.

06/13 From Firescribe,

Colo. Fires Redefine Life on the Edge Growing 'Red Zones'
Where Suburbs Meet Dry Forest Raises Risk Issues:

Storm King reminder. The message, "be safe in spite of public pressures":

Fire shelter history and update:
Fire council selects shelter made in Missoula

School feeds demand for firefighters

Firefighters unwinding with a game:

hahahaha, good game photo. Ab.

06/13 WP,
No apology needed. We all need to vent sometimes. Especially when the matter(s) are so close to the heart. I believe that we have an opportunity here to make the fireground a less dangerous place by attempting to hold ALL those responsible (and still alive) accountable for their contributions to the 30 Mile Fire tragedy. I believe you when you say the rumored sanctions are not fair but I wonder what you mean by fair.
  • Do you mean that they are inappropriate?
  • Do you mean that because the individuals being sanctioned are suffering already because they knew those killed (and possibly feel responsible in some way) and adding to that burden is callous and unnecessary.
  • Do you mean that because others with the same culpability in the past have not been sanctioned and it is unfair to suddenly begin applying a new standard of accountability without warning?
  • Or do you mean that because we are given a set of "safety rules" which mainly serve to allow scapegoating of subordinates by their superiors it is unfair to hold those subordinates accountable?
  • Maybe you mean something else?

Since I have been one of the very vocal in calling for accountability I feel the job is incomplete till all responsible for needless injuries and deaths on the fireline are accountable and any sanctions resulting from a determination of culpability are fair and even handed. I would sure like to have some hard facts to work with in this discussion but precious little information has been released about the pending sanctions. Until information is released that explains clearly why the individuals were singled out for sanction and how the level of sanction was decided upon I don't see how we can say they are appropriate or not. We all hate to see a fellow firefighter disciplined especially when the stigma of responsibility for firefighter fatalities is attached. It is a horrible burden to bear.


06/13 In Spring 2000, we hit IA on 5000 ac in Mio, Michigan, the old Mack Lake
burn. As they explained it, their Dispatcher, Pablo, had been dying for some
activity. On the day it started, he was gone elsewhere for the day. You think
they were razzing him when he saw the fire reports start coming in?
"No Pablo".

Sure is awesome seeing JM on the "porch".

Stay safe! "Kicks"
06/13 Fire names

When I worked in R3 I always kind of hoped for a fire in Deathtrap canyon, in the
Whetstone mountains south of Tucson, AZ. Just thought it would have added a bit of
excitement to crews getting dispatched, "get your gear were going to the Deathtrap
fire". Never happened though.

06/13 Hey Ab,

It's Rocky Mountain....... Just landed home for mandatory days off. Our shot crew (Roosevelt IHC) just pulled and tour in the southern part of Colorado. we pulled most of it on the fires in Trinidad which started in Colorado and burned into New Mexico. This is my tenth year fighting fire and I'll tell you what..... please let forward my warnings to anyone who may pull a dispatch out here.... it is dry, dry, dry... with P.O.I.'s (probability of ignition) at 100 % +... The spots are spotting..

be careful

06/13 hey Ab, me again..

About fire names..... I agree with Mellie and others. The Aircraft thing is the most important, sometimes you just have to go with the initial report and sometimes dispatch names it after that, first and foremost to get resources to it you have to. Often fires do end up being a little further away from the original location. That would pose more confusion to re-name it, not to mention a paperwork nightmare! Another point to look at is that fire investigators don't generally like creative names that don't refer to a geographic. It is hard to justify sometimes in court. Imagine the possibilities and all of our proper lawyers and law enforcement types on the stand referring to some of the fire names we have heard, that never went beyond your district.

I have a few good fire naming stories, as I am sure everyone does. One of our engine crews named a small fire the "MILF" fire. Well I had not seen American Pie yet. No further needed for those of you that have seen it. For those of you that haven't, all I can say is watch the movie and you'll know what I mean. They named it this because of a hot mom out near the fire. Well when I found out what it meant we HAD to re-name it. It was a pain in the butt to do. Also when I was on the engine crew, we went through a whole summer naming everything "yeti" ie: "Yeti cliff", "Yeti roof" etc. One of our engine crews is naming everything the " flaming .... buffalo, marrisa, turtle etc. this season (carried over from last season).

While it is fun to name fires after whatever you can think of, examine the name and see if it is one you want to see plastered on the news everyday--my only piece of advice. Because you never now what can happen in the IA stage of the fire. I like the fun in naming them to.

signing off --radio girl :) Keep safe out there everyone--love to FF friends and families.

06/13 Eric queried us thusly: <<Hi. I'm working on a story about how wildfires get named. Evidently there was some confusion about the name of the big fire near here last week. >>

Eric got some good responses from other members, but in the discussion I noted one thing seemed to be missing. It may be a provincial CDF thing, but, as a former Emergency Command Center Operator (now a Crew Capt.), I was under the impression that ICS required that all names be "ONE WORD". Anyone have the low-down-skinny on this?

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande
06/13 Hi Ab,
This was on the NIFC site tonight:


Wonder if they'll have a trade-in policy....: )
Stay Safe,
06/13 I'm looking at developing a shorthaul rescue line for pulling out up to 14 men at a time, from a bad situation getting worse, when they are unable to move to a suitable LZ for pickup. It's using the same applications the military uses in the Special Operations arena for emergency extract of teams. I have no wildland fire experience and would like to get some professional opinions on this from the people on the line. I understand no matter how good an idea is, it has to go through the red tape. I have a copy of the IHOG, and would like to get a copy of the Rappel and Shorthaul guide to see what I'm up against.

I'd be more than happy to explain in more detail to interested parties and get there honest opinions.

I've doing alot of research, and you are true hero's. You deserve every possible chance to go home to your families, I just want to add another chance.

I appreciate your input.
Russell Cannon

06/12 Consider this-- we couldn't have all those really cool t-shirts (you know you collect one from every fire you go to!) if the fires were given just a number. After so many days out who could remember if you were on Fire # 22B or was it 22C? The t-shirt artist wouldn't have anything to work with and it would be boring.

Most fire names are politically correct, but every now and then a funny one sneaks by-makes you chuckle a bit!

The Megram Fire (Big Bar 99) posed so many problems in controlling /jumping, they started calling it the "migraine fire". The Info Officer posted proper pronunciation for the name because it isn't pronounced as it looks, but everyone still called it the "migraine fire".


06/12 Names are great for fires, as long as they don't confuse the folks responsible to manage them. South Canyon is across I-70 and the Colorado River from Storm King Mountain: when it was reported as being in "South Canyon" (no legal, no Lat/Long), the Grand Junction BLM folks decided it wasn't their responsibility. The rest is history.....!

06/12 The Plumas NF ECC is looking for a little dispatching help this fire
season. We're short two full time positions, so will be running
consecutive 14 day assignments for the duration of the fire season. If
you're qualified as an IA, Support, or Law Enforcement dispatcher, give
me a call.

The air's clear, foods good, motels comfy, and we'll pay the travel,
perdiem, and wages. We'll even provide some wheels for ya. The
atmosphere is mellow, the staff enjoyable, the office is air conditioned
w/two big picture windows with tree covered slopes in the background.

You can work the 14 days straight, or take a couple days off to go
exploring. 12 hours per day guaranteed, if desired. See the following
link for a little more about Plumas County.
http://www.psln.com/qchamber/ If you like it so much you want to stay
past the 14 days, we can work on that too.

CAONC already has the resource order and is working on it. Hurry
up, call me and I'll name request you.

Steve Myers
or email smyers@fs.fed.us
06/12 Okay, now we're having fun. Nominations are now open for best fire
names. You must justify your nomination besides being just a cool name
or we won't consider it. [grin]


We could go for that. How about another list of cool fire names from the past? Ab.

06/12 To Dispatch Babe

Yep, I watch They Said. Interesting point about the naming of fires.

On a technical level, I suppose there's no such thing as "misnaming" a fire, though I defer to those of you who fight fire professionally to come up with a definitive answer. But then, why not use letters and numbers? Fire X32 burned 30,000 acres today and threatens Denver. Fire X31 burned an acre yesterday and died out. Doesn't sound very compelling to me.

Names carry meaning. The Willow Mountain Fire of 1949 has been called the Mann Gulch fire from about the day after it killed 13 men. The Rattlesnake Fire of 1953 struck like a viper, when a wind unexpectedly and viciously turned downhill, and killed 15 people.

The Big Blowup of 1910 is a landmark in the annals of firefighting, though it took a while for that name to be applied. The South Canyon Fire is often called the fire on Storm King Mountain.

The reason I made such a big deal out of the naming of the South Canyon Fire is that it was the first of a series of little errors, meaningless in themselves, which added up to catastrophe. The South Canyon Fire did not break out in South Canyon, as first reported. It did not die out on its own, as expected. It did not stay on Hell's Gate Ridge while the crew girdled it with a fire line, as was hoped. One little mistake linked to another in an unbroken chain, which is the prescription for disaster on the fire line, or anywhere else.

For what it's worth, I think Coal Seam Fire is a good, descriptive name for the one burning right now near Glenwood Springs. I would hate to see it called Fire X33.

I look forward to seeing other opinions on this topic, a good one.

Sincerely, John N. Maclean

06/12 Mellie's right - no fire is mis-named. South Canyon Fire was right;
hey, it's their fire, they can call it what they want to. What's
important is not what the name of the fire is, but that once it's named
everybody calls it by that name every time they talk about it. How many
times have you seen in print the "Storm King Mountain Fire" when they
were actually referring to South Canyon Fire? That'd help out alot in
Dispatch if one person called it "Storm King" & another called it "South
Canyon" - pretty soon people would be thinking they had two fires out
there (which is always a possibility). Bet if all the "They Said-ers"
checked back through their lists of fires they've been on they could
come up with some pretty cool names that weren't necessary geographic in
nature. Like Mellie said, naming fires isn't an exact science - &
that's a good thing.

06/12 Mellie said, "You could argue that fires are never "mis-named."

Y'know, I've thought about this for several years now, ever since I read
John Maclean's book about South Canyon. He repeatedly points out that
the fire was misnamed. That's always sort of bugged me, 'cause I
couldn't understand his justification or reasoning for insisting on
that. What all do y'all think? Was the South Canyon Fire "mis-named"
even though it was on Storm King Mountain and near South Canyon? John?
You reading this? What do you say? Readers? ......... most important,
maybe, how about the folks who were there and (especially) the dispatch
folks on that fire? What do you think?

(note to ab: maybe this qualifies for a line under IMWTK?)

* dispatch babe *

I'd say yes on the IMWTK. Ab.
06/12 Fires are usually named after some nearby geographical feature, but naming is not an exact process. You could argue that fires are never "mis-named".

If lookouts or other spotting and reporting resources cannot pinpoint a fire exactly or if they're incorrect about its location, it can get saddled with an incorrect location name. The Onion Fire on the Big Bar Complex (1999), for example, was located by a Forest Service worker in the woods on the Six Rivers National Forest who lined it up with Onion Camp. Actually, lightning had struck on the north side of Big Mountain on the Shasta Trinity National Forest, some miles away.

Fires are not always named after a geographical place. Sometimes fires are given names of events that happen on the same day. One fire on the Six Rivers was named the Hugo Fire, since it occurred on the same day as Hurricane Hugo.

After you get tired or overloaded with fires, say there are12 in one day, you might find yourself naming the next ones after your kids. Or your spouse might be driving and report a fire and you name it after them.

The only time you don't name a fire to proximity, is if the name you're using may also be the name of the person igniting it. For example, say there's a fire reported on the McDonald (arbitrary name choice) Ranch. You wouldn't name it the McDonald incident if you have any reason to believe McDonald could have been the one who lit it. Think of the problems that could cause in court.

One might ask, "why there is such a hurry to name an incident?" Incidents must be named before ordering aircraft, which is done about 30 seconds after you're out the door on IA. This is one of the challenges for IA ground resources -- to be able to name your incident quickly so as to clear your head and be able to get on with fighting the fire.

More... If there's an area that has a lot of fires and few geographical place names, you might get something like "Clear River 1", "Clear River 2", .... "Clear River 10" etc. Sometimes naming in high frequency fire areas is a real challenge for an FMO whose primary concern is IA. (Oh, I heard from one FMO that being able to name fires is kinda like a status thing... Some who work their way up to the position of FMO partially do so to be able to name fires. Then they hit a season where they get totally burned out on the process.)

There are about a million interesting fire naming stories out there. Hope others will share theirs.

06/12 Hi. I'm working on a story about how wildfires get named. Evidently there
was some confusion about the name of the big fire near here last week.

Could we talk about that?

I almost surely would have to name you because our paper generally doesn't
use unnamed sources and I see from your website you enjoy anonymity. If you
are unwilling to be named could you hook me up with someone who is familiar
with how fires get named - maybe even someone who has named one himself?

This is for tomorrow's paper so I have to finish up by about 6 pm MT.

Eric Hubler
Denver Post
06/12 Greetings All,
I'd like to get some advice from any of you that are inclined to respond. I'm a second season engine contractor operating out of Region 1. I employ a former Hotshot and we are attending classes as they become available (we've completed 230, 231 & 290 this Spring). We are trying to do a better job for our customers - in order to do that we need more time on fires. We don't feel that it's professional to "chase smoke", but we do understand that new equipment is a big risk with big payments. We applauded the rising standards here in R1, but need fireline time in order to get Task Books signed off - Catch22? We have joined the new Northern Rockies Wildfire Contractors Association and will continue to attend training when it's available for contractors.

While I can appreciate the "closest/cheapest" strategy utilized by the government from a taxpayers standpoint, from a fire fighter's standpoint it's less appealing, and from a business owner's it's rotten - unless you're the outfit fielding the absolute minimum requirements. As someone that operates an above average piece of equipment (1985 Unimog U1200) and is willing to happily do what ever the current task requires it would be nice to hope that we would get more work...Unfortunately Contracting/Dispatching tells me that an engine is an engine and they just go down the list, and as a type 5 they don't go down THAT list very often - Did I screw myself by signing a type 5 contract?

We offer a lot more utility than the average engine but don't see a way to stand out with Contracting/Dispatching - especially if they're shopping for type 3's and 6's. With that in mind I've contacted various R1 Fire management folks and asked what they suggested. I have been told everything from, "That's the way it is", to "Call the zone center managers and let them know you're available". We don't want to piss anyone off but by the same token we would really like the chance to go to work....Any suggestions on shameless self promotion appreciated.

Ab, thanks for the forum, and thanks for letting me vent a little. Readers, thanks for your time and your responses.

Stay Safe,

06/12 Hi Radiogirl

Just talked with your home office. Thanks for sending people our way
in Kitsap. Getting ready to head out, have all the work done in the
home area and hope to leave soon.

06/12 From Firescribe:

Citation Issued in Happy Valley (CA) Fire

Contract crews from the NW fight fire in CO

In this second article National Wildfire Suppression Association gets a nod. For more info on this organization, check the classifieds page for their link. Ab.

06/12 Greetings again from soggy eastern Canada. We have received a week of damp
weather that has put the FWI down to 0.2 (low) here the tower operators have
been down for a week now but I bet they will pay for it before summer is
over. We have had to respond to 2 starts this year. One to assist our
neighbouring dept with a fire along the railroad and another one that was
kids having a campfire. My daughter has been hired back with DNR again this
summer and although her job is research she has been to keep her boots
handy, she worked the Afton fire last summer and enjoyed it. Well enough
from me. You all stay safe out there.
06/12 Lo AB:
Sent two engines to the Hayman Complex today, Looks like a scary show.
I see lots of gear heading southeast. Looks like we're sending more tomorrow.

Have fun all, and be safe>

eric PW
06/11 Hello Radiogirl!!
Visited your work space today. SM is working hard on redcards.
Keep Bruce and all safe down there
06/11 Hi
I am trying to locate a Boggs Mountain CDF coptor 104 patch any ideas where to get one?


The Jobs Page and Job Series 0462 and Series 0455 Pages are updated.

One of the moms has a question on FamilySaid.

06/11 So all of this talk about let your people go to fires, So I get myself made
available and nothing's happening. So I'll just sit here on my "RED BAG"
watching the phone hoping it will ring!!!!!!!!!

Nugget from R-6 with a M-80 wait'n to go
06/11 Be careful out there, you firefighters have become a precious resource
that due to state and federal budget cuts, station closures and
skeptical political practices, there are too few of you to go around.
Thanks for all that you do. I don't believe we the public, and other
civil servants, say or hear that enough.

And to the CDF seasonal, California rarely passes a budget on time, its
embarrassing but true. But at least they can't give you IOU checks

Hang in there -
Pat Huntington, So. CA
06/11 Fireronin,

My apologies, as stated - I was venting. If I took a cheap shot, (and I did) I am a sorry. The sanctions that are rumored to be imposed on the OKF fire leadership is harsh. While I do not know any of the individuals personally I know people who do. Everyone who knows them will tell you that you will not find a more dedicated and concerned group anywhere in any wildland agency. The allegations and potential sanctions leveled against these fine people have devastated their lives.

It is disconcerting for those of us in R6 who know the people who lost their lives, who know people who were on the incident, who knew what the situation was at the time of the tragedy, listen to others from all over the county demand that "someone be held accountable." I am not saying mistakes were not made, but are the rumored sanctions fair? OR, just an effort to appease a grandstanding politician (no I did not vote for her and will not in the future), to quite the press (Yakima Herald, they needed something to write about other than apple prices and drug busts) or an effort to soften any law suit by the grieving families. By the way, we are all part of the family that suffered the loss and still grieve.

I have not thanked the AB's lately for this forum, it provides more to some of us than you will ever know. Thanks and a big kiss to Mellie for all her work, I hear she is a real babe.


06/11 Hey Ab...

well back in Colorado one week after I flew home to WA. Working the Hayman fire now. It is been, but getting crazier here by the minute. Thoughts go out to everyone on the firelines now, and their families. Keep it safe, heads up.

To Partrick in Bremerton--get ahold of Kitsap Co!! I work for the WA DNR and we do all their red card quals and they have some really good people over there that are very interested in any wildfire assingments they can go to. They also maintain & staff one of our pool Engines. We are a very proactive region as far as using qualified Fire Service (structure and volunteers) people for lots of assignments. Contact them they'll hook you up.

And to I.A. dispatcher.. you are so right. While we want to be able to help people talk to their children, mostly we just don't have the time. And though you mean well, please remember your children are grown... they will call you when they can-- they are probably out bustin their butt on the fireline, cause you raised them to do a good job. Also remember somtimes it is hard to get to the phone at fire camp, even with time limits. 300+ people and one phone... you do the math.

Signing off from Colorado.
Radiogirl :)

06/11 Ab,

Quick note on this Hayman Fire (one of 8 burning in CO), burning just on the SW outskirts of Denver.
At more than 75,000 acres burned, it's the largest fire in state history.
It's run about 20 miles from where it started on Sunday (from campfire) at more than a mile an hour (500 acres per hour).
The Red Flag Warning weather (hi winds, low humidity, high temps) and the dense forests made for crown fires yesterday and we just had to get out of the way. Last night winds shifted and temps dropped some.
Many fewer resources here than I'd expect (~270 ff, 18 engines but a slew of ATs and helos) Thank god for the pink stuff.
I heard several thousand folks were evac on Sun from Park (Taryall Reservoir area), Jefferson and Douglas counties. Trigger points have been established and when one is reached, it begins the next round of evacuation. Last night more thousands were evacuated or being prepared for evacuation from Perry Park and Roxborough Park neighborhoods.

Safety in the face of the unpredictable fire conditions is the watchword and the action. Today may bring similar weather and fire conditions. Many more are likely to be evacuated. Homes will probably burn. Hopefully all will stay safe.


Thanks Charles. Ab.

06/11 Mike,

I am on a crew out of North Carolina and we were called out when the NP Level was a 2. That was in late May, sometime around the 20th. Before my crew was even home another module from NC was sent out. Now there is a another requested crew from NC with no personal...I am going to call tomorrow to make myself available for another tour.

So yeah, NC was already called up. I think this is going to be a rough year, especially in the South West. When I was there live fuel moistures were in the teens...


06/11 Stan,
I tried that BLM Quick hire also. It was real user friendly. But I never heard anything back either.
I guess the best thing thing to do would be to contact the individual units themselves. Talk to whoever is in charge and send some hard copies of your resume.

-- Gaurdian of Soggy bottom --
06/10 Mike,

Preparedness Levels:

Level I - Most geographic areas have low to moderate fire danger, little to no commitment of national resources.

Level II - One geographic area experiencing high fire danger, wildland fire activity is occurring and a potential exists for escapes to larger fires. Minimal mobilization of resources from other geographic areas is occurring.

Level III - Two or more geographic areas experiencing wildland or prescribed fire activities requiring a major commitment of national resources. Additional resources are being ordered and mobilized through NICC. Incident Management Teams (IMTs) are committed in two or more areas, or 275 crews are committed nationally.

Level IV - Two or more geographic areas are experiencing incidents requiring Type I IMTs. Competition exists for resources between geographic areas. When 425 crews or 5 Type I IMTs are committed nationally.

Level V - Several geographic areas experiencing major incidents which have the potential of exhausting all agency fie resources. When 550 crews are committed nationally.

Level I - Nothing going on.
Level II - Some things happening, but nothing to be worried about.
Level III - Things are starting to heat up.
Level IV - Everybody's busy, but there is still a pulaski or two in a warehouse somewhere.
(Ah Hell) Level V - Everybody's real busy. No crews, teams, or supplies left. Fires are going unmanned.


06/10 Can anyone explain in short how the different levels for the sit report
are arrived at? I thought it was by the number of type one teams on
assignment, not sure of that is right though..

Also, how far east are they pulling crews from at the present time?...

06/10 Dear Ab,

If any girl/boyfriend/spouses of FF want to chat about their experiences, I'll be in FireChat on Wed. evening 8pm PDT.

Keeping the "home-fires" burning,


Ab Note: We suggested to Ivans Girl that she might want to set a FireChat time for those missing their firefighters. Looks like Wed at 2000 PDT is the first time for discussion on firefighter relationships. Tell your girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses, etc.
06/10 WP,
Flash had it right. I did not intend to point the finger at you personally. I can see how you may have taken it that way due to my reference to your post and I apologize for needlessly raising your blood pressure. If your last comments are correct you are an example of the folks firefighters on the line want above them as part of their safety chain. My take on the new "undefined and therefor unworkable" (paraphrasing here) rules for overhead is that they are just a new extension of the 10&18 to those not on the line.

I have heard very good arguments that "strictly interpreted" the 10&18 are so undefined and contradictory that they are unworkable and function mainly to allow major responsibility to be shifted entirely to those on the line that are injured or killed. Similarly I am now hearing concerns from "higher ups" that the "new enhanced accountability" rules have unlimited potential to lay too much blame on them. I agree. Until those bureaucrats in charge of setting (bad) policy essentially allow themselves to be held responsible a fair and adequate level of accountability, will not exist for maximum potential firefighter safety. I know the vast majority of those actively involved in fire suppression are VERY responsible individuals who would love to have a clear cut set of rules to follow that would prevent any injuries or fatalities from occurring on their watch. Although the bureaucrats have attempted to provide such a set of rules, they simply do not exist. Since wildfire suppression by its' very nature must constantly adjust to ever-changing conditions, all we really have are guidelines that we try to apply as best we can. When the wind direction or humidity changes so do the "rules of engagement" so we make do with a set of rules that are impossible to not bend and rely on the awareness and ability of those around and above us to help keep us safe in an unsafe environs. Those that tell you they never bend the 10&18 have simply interpreted them into a workable set of rules, are choosing to forget when they ignored them, or haven't fully attempted to understand what they actually require. The Wash. DC functionaries behave as if by issuing a policy to "strictly follow the 10&18" they are absolved of any responsibility if tragedies occur and that policy was not "strictly" adhered to on the incident in question. I submit that by issuing unworkable policy or public policy that is contradicted by practical (private) policy, they are in fact most responsible for such tragedies.

The new "midlevel" accountability threat will encourage those who know they should not be in positions of responsibility to opt out. Some marginally competent will also opt out. And unfortunately some very competent and responsible managers will opt out of fire suppression because they now feel that they may end up being scapegoats for Washington bureaucrats due to the fact that the "buck" still does not stop at the top...but always somewhere lower. Bad policy makes the fireground unnecessarily unsafe, more than any other single factor. Until those at the top can be held accountable for bad policy which they promulgate or inherit but fail to change, firefighters will work under in unnecessarily unsafe conditions. Agency bureaucrats will no more willingly accept additional accountability than those overhead that are now held more "accountable" were. They will have to have no other option.

After the Storm King Mountain fatalities, firefighters, the media, and the general public stopped blindly accepting the "ultimately firefighters are accountable for their own safety" line and started asking "who else is also responsible for firefighter safety". When agencies were criticized by the public for conducting closed internal investigations that appeared to be designed to primarily absolve the living of responsibility for firefighter deaths, they were forced to give investigators more freedom to investigate or completely lose control of the process. And when those more open investigations determined that there was a lack of accountability which may have contributed to the 30 Mile fire deaths, Washington bureaucrats scrambled to create a new policy which would divert attention from their own culpability and lay all blame on subordinates. Although press releases from their Wash. DC offices stated that they accepted some of the responsibility (for firefighter fatalities) at the top levels I have never seen any indication that those at the top were actually aware of how their actions contribute to firefighter injuries and fatalities. This may honestly be the case. Just as the FBI and CIA are now admitting to having become huge bloated bureaucracies whose leaders are essentially out of touch with those in the field, the BIA, BLM, and USFS have fallen victim to creeping bureaucracy. As a result policies created inside the Wash. DC beltway designed to more effectively manage wildfire, give citizens in fire prone areas better protection, and provide better firefighter safety often have the opposite effect in the field.

Under the new "accountability" rules midlevel management can be held responsible for firefighter injuries and deaths as well as the firefighters themselves. While I think this is a step in the right direction, I agree it is not a fair policy since BLM, BIA, and USFS bureaucrats who are just as or more responsible are still exempt from accountability. If overhead personnel caught in the middle are willing to accept the likelihood that they will become scapegoats for the effects of bad policy as well as their own errors, we will lose a great opportunity to include those at the top in the chain of safety. I don't personally know any of the folks who are being disciplined for the 30 Mile Fire fatalities. If any of you do and think they don't honestly deserve all the "accountability" they are being served...now is the time to speak up. You owe it to them. You owe it to yourselves. And you owe it to us.


06/10 AB:
People here at work are telling me that the TV stations are saying that they are pulling the firefighters off the Hayman fire because of too dangerous and can not fly.

It is moving at a mile an hour and is over 60,000 acres.

Here is a news link so you can look. It should stop when it gets to the plains of Wyoming.


Good luck to everyone that is on the fight here in the west. It is going to be long.


Good photos and maps there. Also check Fire Links, 2002 for the official Hayman Fire website. Red Flag Warning with winds that make aerial ff impossible. Be safe all. Ab.
06/10 Mellie and All,

New fire on the Klamath and there's already a page for it: www.r5.fs.fed.us/klamath/incident/fork/index.php

Also check the fire photo archives for 1999. www.r5.fs.fed.us/klamath/mgmt/fire/archphotos.phpl

Thanks for the site and the record keeping.
Heading out... Be safe.
NorCal Tom

You're welcome. Ab.

06/10 You can go the USGS site, go to Volcanoes, then click on Hawaii, then go to
the daily update from Volcano National Park. They have some good pictures
of lava and some of fire. HOT site! (pun is intended)

Saturday, lots of wind, in Northern Cal., and had three outdoor fires, one
grass, one dumpster, and one deck fire. Pretty good flames on the last two
due to high wind. Wasn't as windy on Sunday.

Lots of little stuff going on, some C.D.F. strike teams out of district,
haven't heard of any local stuff going out.

Talked with a C.D.F. seasonal, Friday morning, asked how they felt about
getting minimum wage, if no budget is passed by June 30, and he said "I'll
will quit and go get my $10.00 and hour off season job back.

All for now, gotta get back to my real job.
06/10 From Firescribe:

Fire in Colorado
'It looks like nuclear winter'
Couple of Photos
Glenwood firestorm

Fire in Hawaii
Firefighting in Paradise

Fire Plan Perspective

06/10 ab

I see on the job announcements that BLM still needs fire dispatchers across the west. I've had my application in now for several weeks with no replys. I have nearly thirty years in law enforcement, retiring in two weeks, and interested in helping out. Any ideas how I can reach the right person to get a job?

Stan Stebbins
BLM Quick Hire # 20089

06/09 Familysaid is updated. Ab.
06/09 Ab,

I was updating Fire Links, 2002 and found this narrative describing Initial Attack on the Fruitcake Fire (part of the Rio Grande Complex, Rio Grande NF, Colorado. The IC told it to the FIO.


06/09 Be Safe!

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — A fast-moving wildfire burning at the base of Storm King Mountain early Sunday damaged at least 40 structures and forced 2,000 people to evacuate homes near this resort community.



06/09 WP,

I think you may be making a mistake that we all fall prey to.
A post is put up speaking to generalities, and you personalize it to yourself. If you are the sincerely as concerned for your crews as you represent, then FireRonin's post is not meant for you.

It's that simple. Breathe slowly and think, "Do all of your coworkers take the job as seriously as you?" "Does every person you work with make informed decisions fully weighing the consequences?" Dont be so defensive that you can't admit the truth. Just as all firefighters on the line don't put out the same effort to stay trained, keep sharp, pay attention to the 10&18, so likewise do not all overhead personnel consider all risks in the performance of their jobs.

These are the people that FireRonin was addressing. He was right to do so.

Just as I should be taken to task for my foul-ups on the fireline, so should the dispatcher/ or supervisory personnel who screws-the-pooch.

We are all part of a team, just with different responsibilities on it. If a baseball team had a coach who never corrected the pitcher because they were "better" "more important" or "above" the others then the team would fall apart. The other players would stop listening to him out of resentment. No one would never learn from their mistakes and there would be no team unity.

New Subject:
I am not a fan of a witch-hunt, but trying to learn from previous mistakes is another matter.

I have just finished a video called "Think While You Fight Fire 2002".
Among others the 30 mile fire is used as a learning tool in it with a narrative from a squad boss and interviews with some of the personnel.

I appreciate them reliving a traumatic event enough to try to help me avoid it.

Thanks for the Forum,
Flash in Fla
06/09 I would like to think every one that has ever fought a fire has followed every rule by the book. But as much as every body else wants to tell you that they do, it doesnt, and cant happen on every fire or any fire for that matter. We all work with what we have. Has any one ever been called to a fire at the moment your shift starts after a relaxing two week vacation and a perfect nights sleep ? Was your crew all 20 year vets you would trust your kids lives with who lived in the area all their lives and knew every inch of every sq ft of the location you were just called to ? Was the weather 65 and no wind ? Was the fire right off a paved road, lined with fire hydrants ? I think you all get the picture.

This is an extremely dangerous business. We are all aware going in and have to expect some risk that things are going to happen we cant foresee and are not consistent with current conditions or expected behavior. I am not talking about any particular incident or fire, but accountability. I am the one I look to for my own safety, not the guy twenty miles away on another mountain or the guy looking at a map or the one flying balloons. All the classroom time in the world does not make a qualified firefighter. And in kind, someone with 20 years in the Everglades probably will not have a clue in cheat grass and sage brush. The boat is being missed big time by letting the oldtimers get away from the fire service because of little pay, no benefits and too much bullshit. Lets use the time spent in class learning to fight fire not how to fill out more paperwork to cover someone elses ass. If we can do it right we dont have to cover any bodies ass. Or we could get congress to pass a law against wild land fires and they wont happen anymore.


06/09 From Firescribe:
Fighting fire in Alaska has some unique challenges.

Female members of the Washington Interagency Management Team 2 in Alaska on the Milepost 78 Fire
The answer to mosquito madness.

Smoking fish and sox in firecamp

Remote? Dispatch on the roof

For more Alaska fire photos and others, take a look at Fire Links, 2002 (and at the top of theysaid). Some new fire photos up on the Copper Fire also. Ab.

06/09 RE: Eligible to retire and no longer give a shit about fire!

If, as you state, you've 30 years of serving our fire master I offer my
hand in salute, right before I swing the back of it at your face and
advise you to not let the door bang you on the ass as you banish
yourself to the hell of your spineless existence. Please take the
snivel'in sender of the post on 06/07 signed 10/18 whose so hung up on
semantics that he sounds like ex-prez Clinton with you.

Your message appears composed of pathetic pleas for pity and I have
none. I suspect your motives. I doubt your sincerity. I scoff at your
reasoning. Just as the firefighters on the line know how to say no, if
any of your story is true, you also need to learn how to say no.

If you've so much leave to burn and are weak enough to allow someone to
keep you from using it, give it all away. There are a lot of deserving
folks on the leave recipient list that know what to do with your accrued

Go back to lurking and leave the firefighting issues to the grownups.

06/08 In regard to the topic of accountability: I hope this term is not being used as a way to avoid taking ownership for a firefighters mistakes. I know that the “Swiss Cheese Model” of errors starts at the System end of things and Management is also responsible, but remember who is most affected by the series of mistakes that lead up to a tragedy, or near miss. It’s the line firefighter. Many a smokejumper will tell you that he/she has been misspotted into a potentially hazardous area . They’ll also tell you that once they decide to jump, there is no climbing back into the airplane. Now, if the spotter screws up, who gets hurt? The same with other firefighters – there are incompetent Divs that have sent people down a canyon while not really being aware of the “10 and 18’s that are being compromised.” Who is the one in danger? In this time of volatile fire environments coupled with a diminishing knowledge base (due to retirements etc.) firefighters now, more than ever, need to cover their own asses. During your slack time, put away the hackey sack, and pick up a book on fire weather, behavior or tactics. Or better yet, create “what if” scenarios with your bros. Stretch or workout – whatever you do, it should be toward the end goal of preparing yourself for the hazards that you are going into. Management should in no way be absolved for their mistakes, just don’t get hurt because of yours.


06/08 Just some venting

I am assuming that the first paragraph of your post of 5-7 was in response to my earlier post about "asses hanging out." First of all I resent the insinuation that I - we -- those who are not on the line, are uncomfortable with accepting responsibility for actions/incidents/accident that occur on the line. I take my job very seriously, I WILL NOT send an unqualified person out, I WILL NOT bend or break the rules! BUT, I need to know what the rules are. AND by the way, the people who are making the decisions did their time on the line, I don't know anyone in the fire organization who does not know how to run a pulaski.

The dictates that were the results of the 30 mile investigation sound good, but without clear concise definition they are almost impossible comply with as written. I suspect they were written by a personal injury attorney. In today's litigious society there are always those who look for someone to blame and sue, encouraged by law firms looking for a piece of the action and/or politicians looking to get some free press. It is unfortunate that I, as a "decision maker" have to consider what, if any, are the legal ramifications of actions that I take. I make those decisions on the information that I have received and trust that the people supplying me with data are giving me correct information. I know my supervisors and those that supervise them will not tolerate any deviation of the rules (contrary to what you may think). I demand written documentation of training and experience and make decisions accordingly.

I am acutely aware of my responsibility to lives of the firefighters that I have a part in sending out. Every time I send out a person in a position of responsibility I ask myself "is this person up to the task?" Every time a crew goes out I ask "is the leadership up to the task?" I/we do not take our responsibilities lightly, your insinuations are insulting to the many people who are tasked with making the life and death decisions. You may have reasons for being so bitter and resentful but if you carry those feelings over to the line, then you are better off sitting on the beach this summer!


06/08 Hi Ab

Regarding the 30 mile fire and fires in the future.

I don't understand all the fuss about demanding accountability from our
fire professionals, unless those identified as failing in their duties did
nothing wrong and are unjustly accused.

Qualified fire professions that refuse an assignment because of concerns of
the new enhanced accountability might have a beef, if this new fervor is
only dressing for the real problems further up the food chain.

New enhanced accountability. Damm after 17 years of retirement I can still
spin crap.

Both my sons and one of my grandsons are wildland fire professionals and I
would be shocked if they would decide to stop fighting fire because of
accountability issues. However I will ask them and try to better understand
this different fire mentality if there really is one or if it's just a few
wankers looking for a forum.

Be safe and sure.


As I read it and hear about it, there is not a problem with accountability, per se, but with the fact that the rules have changed and no one really knows exactly what the rules are anymore. Ab.
06/07 I hate to disappoint some of you eager for Washington State US Senator
Cantwell's imminent departure from the Senate. She was elected in 2000.
Senators are elected for six-year terms (US Constitution; article I;
Section 3). She will be eligible for reelection in 2006.

Washington State US Senator Patty Murray was reelected in 1998. She will
be up for reelection 2004. Senator Murray has made no comments critical of
the Forest Service as concerns the actions taken last July at Thirtymile.


Thanks for the clarification, Cabal. <HAW><HAW> on the moniker. Good one. Ab.
06/07 Contract Engines


note amendments


06/07 Interesting "Letter to the Editor" of the Methow Valley News from Roy Skelton and Terry McCabe.

Goto: www.methowvalleynews.com

Click on "Opinions" and then "Our Turn by Roy E. Skelton and Terence L. McCabe"


06/07 Why the hell should risk my career and my life when
the agency disowns you at the first problem? For 30
years I gave every summer to fire, answering the call
and putting my family on hold. I missed my kids'
birthdays and family events because I was on a fire.
I hired a lawn service because I wasn't home enough to
mow my own lawn, and my wife hired contractors to come
and repair a loose board in the porch or fence because
I was gone. Then I worked extra hours to make up the
work and meet targets not done while gone. Fed up
with this I planned a nice family vacation last summer
(the first in a decade), but had the leave canceled at
the last minute due to 'urgent agency needs'. I
rescheduled for October, canceled due to critical
targets. My Christmas leave was cut short, I was
magnanimously allowed to take 4 days off during
Christmas week. At least my use-or-lose was carried
over. I scheduled another two weeks of leave in March
(canceled). Now I am looking at over 320 hours of
use-or-lose leave this year and I have a signed leave
slip for 4 weeks starting Monday. Just a few minutes
ago our FMO came in and told me to I have a fire
assignment. When I explained I had leave planned, he
said he would try and change it as I have critical red
card skills that are in shortage and have outstanding
UTF's. My reply was "THEN I AM GOING TO BE
AWOL! I have a month-long camping and fishing trip
planned with my grandkids and Fire can go to Hell!"

Sigh me:
Eligible to retire and no longer give a shit about fire!
06/07 My full time job in not in fire. Why would I want to go on fire assignments when I now know that management will not stand behind me? Too many of the 10 Standard Fire Orders and the 18 Watch Out Situations are left up to interpretation and/or are not something that is accountable. How do you prove that you are "staying alert, keeping calm, thinking clearly, and acting decisively"? Think about that.....How do you PROVE that? Your definition of alert, calm, clearly, and decisively and an investigators definition may be different and guess what now YOU get a letter in your OPF, or suspension, or better yet fired and management will not stand behind you AND in the Thirtymile case YOU could get legal action put against you for the death of a fire fighter. What about "Retain control at all times?" Control of what? The fire? Yourself? Your fire fighters you are responsible for? The weather? The wildlife? Ok, here's another one "Recognize current weather conditions and obtain forecasts." What is "current?" It's current now, oh wait, it was current, current was just a second ago. Current is gone. Do they mean a minute ago -- 15 minutes -- 30 minutes -- yesterday??? Oh wait, here's another one "Obtain current information on the fire." There's that magic word "current." Oh geeze....there's another one "Initiate all action based on current and expected fire behavior." ...and on and on and on...

All I ask is that all you firefighters examine each and every one of the 10/18 and ask yourself if you could PROVE on EVERY assignment that your situation could stand up in court, because YOU too could be one of the 11 on the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests. The 11 are everyday firefighters. They are not slackers and they are professionals just like you. The point I want to make is that if they want to hold us "accountable" for the 10/18, then lets make the 10/18 accountable items that are not left up to interpretation. I want all you firefighters to not be caught in the same situation as the 11 on the Okanogan and Wenatchee NF's.

SOCAL, sorry about your need. It doesn't make any of us feel good about it. I'd love to be there because fire is in my blood, but not worth it anymore.

As for the 11 -- Peace brothers! You are ALL good fire fighters and are missed in the fire community more that you know it.

To Maria Cantwell: My red card is in the mail to you!


06/07 Truths and D,

As firefighters our ass is "hanging out" on the line every time we accompany it to the line. If some of those who are not on the line are feeling uncomfortable because they may now be held accountable for their actions in the event that one of us is unnecessarily injured or killed...GOOD! If a few are so uncomfortable that they may be held responsible for not doing their job correctly if one of us loses our life and as a result chooses to not put themselves in a position of responsibility ...EVEN BETTER. If you are not certain you are qualified for a position of responsibility...YOU AREN'T.

Firefighters' lives are in your hands if you are involved in any capacity in wildfire suppression. You are part of the safety chain that keeps us alive. The higher your position the greater the responsibility. If you are uncomfortable with that responsibility knowing that you may be held accountable for not adequately discharging it you should not be encouraged to take such an important position. Rather you should be discouraged from exceeding your ability and training. That is apparently the current situation.

If a firefighter is injured or killed and the govt. finds that it was partly a result of irresponsibility on the part of one of their employees why in the world should they pay to defend those employees against civil litigation resulting from that negligence? They will of course do so (as they have in the past) because it is in the govts self interest to do so for such "co-defendants" in order to limit their own financial liability. It screws the injured firefighters and the families of dead firefighters and encourages those who are marginally qualified or marginally committed to safety to make decisions that place firefighters in unnecessary danger...but they do it anyway. BAD POLICY!

I am of the opinion that if we don't have enough qualified firefighters, support personnel, and overhead we should let things burn rather than overextend our qualified resources or encourage marginally qualified or unqualified folks to fill positions upon which firefighters safety depends. Otherwise we are simply trading lives for buildings and renewable resources.

I have recently been informed that due to the shortage of qualified (medium) helicopter managers the qualifications have been lowered. I can only assume that other positions in short supply will follow suit. BAD POLICY!

As for not having enough available resources.
I am qualified for positions from crew leader to helicopter manager and engine boss with nearly 2 decades of experience. But I am only able to fill those positions as an AD and work alongside less experienced individuals for less than half their pay/benefits. And when the fire is over I am supposed to go home and wait for the next call with no guarantee of income in the future or while I wait. This is because I am too old to apply for the federal positions that go unfilled. Screw that! I suspect that I am not the only "old guy" so insulted by the govts. defacto policy of firefighter age discrimination that I decided to get out of the pool and sit on the beach this summer.


06/07 I too agree with MORE Truth that some folks simply do not want to
participate because of the "witch hunt" attitude from the Thirty Mile Fire.
As a District Ranger, it is tough to balance a fire season like this one
and our other targets and responsibilities for our home unit. 30% of our
district are on fire details in 5 different States (1 in SoCal) as of
today, 50% are fire qualified but must stay around for now to meet our
Districts obligations to the public. Until we get to PL4 or PL5
Nationwide, my Supervisor expects us to get our District work done.
Shouldn't be too long before we reach these PL levels and then we'll open
the barn doors but until then, we'll do the best we can.

Hang in there everybody and stay SAFE!

06/07 Here it is, the Fritz Report/Fire Prediction for the Los Padres NF for the year 2000, the one folks have talked about in FireChat.

Note: Fritz is a retired Forest fuels officer off the Los Padres National Forest. He has been asked to write up these reports for the Forest each year. He writes his reports based on past fire history in the area, rain fall, fuel samples, and weather patterns. Remember this is a prediction; there could be more acreage or less.

06/07 To the TRUTH: here in R-6 we just brought our temps on and believe it or
not about 80% are new folks which is keeping others who are ready and rarin
to get out and see the country, on NO TOUCH! for training/fire school

Signed, NUGGET
06/07 Link to a story about smoke and smoke research from Firescribe. If you have a small monitor, it will be hard to read, as parts of the photo overlay the text.


06/07 The Copper Fire is more than 12,000 acres. Five homes have burned. More than 2000 people were evacuated overnight (town of Green Valley is at risk). Roads leading to Lake Hughes are closed. Conditions are smoky.


There's a new Sit Report up that gives more info as of 0715... Check the links page under news and reports. Ab.

06/07 To SOCAL Dispatcher and "The Truth":

Did you consider that some people are simply not making themselves available for fire assignments due to recent events surrounding the 30mile fire? I am a fire duty officer and have had 4 people (people in non-fire funded positions, but historically have been very supportive and taken assignments locally/nationally) that have formally said thanks, but no thanks anymore...or at least not for this season until the whole proposed disciplinary actions situation is played out. And consider this: 9 people on a forest, who traditionally sends hundreds of people out every fire season, are not being allowed to go.

So in my tiny little corner of the world & my brain - that count is about 13 out of the game. And consider if 1-5 people at every unit are doing that, the impact that it may be having.

MORE Truth

06/07 the CA OES fire branch testing stuff should be posted on the spb.ca. gov
site by now. not sure that OES has posted it, or where. they do have a
website, it is oes.ca.gov 4626-5587 or 5086-6146. ain't bad for the
double dippers!


06/07 As a results of the sanctions imposed for the 30 mile tragity, it is
appearent to me that little thought was given to some of the "new rule".
Just two that jumped out at me.

Crews are now typed 1, 2IA, 2 and 3, with various levels of experienced
personnel on each type of crew....No definition of what constitutes "one
season of experience". Your ass could be hanging out if your local
definition does not agree with Ms. Cantwells or OSHA's

Before being dispatched to a fire, dispatchers are supposed to inform the
"dispatchee" who the IC is, does this apply to all fires or just local
fires??? Again no definition and open to interpretation. Ass hanging out.

There are many more.

06/06 Ab,

You asked the source of the letter 30mileao posted yesterday. A
group of people wrote it on their own time, including employees, fire
chiefs, and a retired Type 1 I.C.

Another subject and answer to a question posted on theysaid :
Yes, Senator Cantwell is up for reelection this year!

06/06 Anyone know what's happening on the Copper Fire?
I heard it was going over 8500 acres and lots of people have been evacuated. My mom said only trailers are being allowed thru at Elizabeth Lake/San Francisquito to move horses and that the fire has jumped Lake Hughes Road. Smoke is thick. I hope it's not as bad as it sounds.

Please be safe. Nothing is worth loosing your lives over.
06/06 Copper Fire (Saugus area, LA County):

The fire was reported at 1440. ATs and helos dropped retardant and water.
500+ firefighters worked in temps of 100+ degrees until dark.
Fire was 10% contained.
3000 acres of brush burned.
One house and seven outbuildings destroyed.
Four firefighters were injured--
one firefighter was hospitalized with heat exhaustion,
one had a hand injury and
two were hurt when a bulldozer rolled over.

Be safe you guys.


Many/most Forests are holding people in order to meet their non-fire
targets. Someone needs to be held accountable for not making critical
resources available.

The Truth
06/06 I am new to this website. How do I find out about fires in California?


For the new e-mailers and readers who are asking:
Here's an online news article about what's burning in CA. Check the Arroyo Grande Flight Crew Photo Page for pics of a heavy Helo and Crew working on the Wolf Fire in the Ojai area.
Our News Page has lots more online wildland fire articles from here and abroad. (Russia is burning too.) Wait 20 seconds for the news search engine to come up with the links then browse away.

Also check the Situation Report and NIFC Fire News which you can find on the Links Page under News and Reports.

06/06 I was wondering if you could answer a question for me? On large fires, is there a firefighter
pool for volunteer firefighters wishing to assist with work? I am a full-time structural
firefighter/paramedic with a Red Card FF2. I have certificates for S130, S190, S131, S290,
S211, and S214. I would like to gain some experience and finish my task-book, but I can't work
for a Shot Team for a whole season. Is there such a place for people like me? Who would I
report to?

Thank you very much,

dukedaddy1@ mindspring.com
06/06 -=dave=-

Surely you do not suggest that one our elected Federal representatives, a
servant of the People, would use the Thirtymile Fire for personal political
gain? Perish the thought! I suppose next you will be suggesting the Yakima
Herald would stoop to sensationalism and yellow journalism to boost

06/06 I'm looking for any info on the following subjects S-290 Intermediate fire
behavior, S-230 Crew boss (Single Resource), S-234 Ignition Specialist. I would
like to get the books and study guides for them also. thanks much
for the help.

06/06 Shots Mom’s Son,

I read your response to Shots Mom and felt a need to respond from a dispatcher’s perspective. You made some very good points in your message and I do agree that a family should keep up to date on where their son/daughter is during fire season. The best bet would be to track them via web searches or to ask their child to call home more frequently. What I need to disagree with are the following statements you made: “feel free to call dispatch during business hours or call the home unit FMO” and “what is important is your peace of mind and not whether someone is put out by a 3 minute phone call”.

Under your advice, let me tell you what could happen. Take two 20-person crews (at least where I'm from), a 3-minute phone call from each concerned Mom or Dad, and well, you can do the math. That’s about 2 hours of time that I don’t have to be reassuring folks that their children are okay. I cannot speak to calling the FMO, but I’d guess that the same thing applies to them as well. Time spent on non-emergency type phone calls is time taken away from a dispatcher who may be working an initial attack desk, trying to keep their initial attack resource needs met, and trying to manage resources from a safety perspective. (If you have any doubts, try sitting on an initial attack desk for an afternoon during or following a lightning bust.)

We (dispatchers) are more than happy to receive calls of an emergency nature (i.e. there was a firefighter injured on a fire, was it my child or there's been an emergency at home, please have my child phone home ASAP), but routine calls to find out where the crew has gone next should be avoided. To be honest, once a crew has left the forest or region, it is often difficult for the dispatch office to keep track of their every move as well. Crews get reassigned all the time and we’re only as good as the information we receive from the crew itself. Experience has shown that you cannot rely on reassignment information being sent to the home unit through dispatch channels in a timely manner if at all.

So, to Shots Mom, please keep the inquiry calls to a minimum. If there is an emergency contact that needs to be made, feel free to call us and ask for assistance. And last but not least, please remember that we all do appreciate your care and concern for your child. As Shots Mom’s Son stated, knowing that you love and care for your child can make a positive impact on morale and safety. Keep up the support and know that we are all praying for and working towards bringing our firefighters home safely this season.

- I.A. Dispatcher

06/06 Are all the forests and units having as much trouble filling orders as we
are? We have been UTFing as many as 25-30 overhead requests a day. It 's not
so much a problem with unqualified people, as not having enough qualified
module leaders to be able to take a person off an engine to send on an
overhead request. We are having to go to local cooperators to try to fill
these requests, and they are having a tough time filling orders too.
The way this fire season has started is bad, and it will only get worse.
Our fuel moistures are as low as I've ever seen them for this time of year.
There have been seven large fires in SOCAL in the last week, and counting.
California can't even provide personnel to staff our own incidents, and we
are also being impacted by requests from other regions. We are regularly
UTFing critical positions, and we still aren't in the height of fire season.
What is it going to be like in August when we are all competing for aircraft,
overhead, equipment and crews?

06/05 Hey all,
This last week has been great here. Lightning finally broke out and we have
had a lot of small fires. All but a few have been under 50 acres. I have
one observation about the 2/1 as it is applied here:
A ranger could come in at 8am work all day in the shop on his equipment,
get a fire that becomes an overnighter, and will be allowed to stay
overnight, usually being relieved and home by around 11am the next day.
Is this 26 hours on the clock (deducting 1 lunch period) a violation of the
16 hour shift or does only his fire time count???
If the fire is at 4pm and they really push to relieve him by 8am then he is
off in 16, but that doesnt take into account his fatigue from working all
day on other duties.

Yall be safe,
06/05 Hello Ab and All,

I started a new fire links 2002 page that will accumulate "wildland fire" sites for this fire season. Last year I did one that you can visit on the Links page under Miscellaneous --> California, some Washington and Oregon fires, 2001. This year I'm going to try to do more and keep a running list, hopefully with a little help from the rest of you all. Given the way the season has started, we're already a little behind, but many fires do not have websites. The Southwest, R3, has great info, as do Alaska and Rocky Mountain, R2.

So, a request... If you find a web fire site (wildland fire - fed, regional, state, county no matter how small) that has information, maps, photos, news releases, whatever, send in the url and Ab and I'll add it and the pertinent stats to the new page "2002 Fires on the Web". FIRE Links, 2002 at the top of theysaid and on the Links page under Miscellaneous.

Here's a unique thing I found this eve... Turn on the sound on your computer. Here's the sound of a 2002 fire on the Carson National Forest NM. Hear the wind?

Be Safe Everyone,


The Jobs Page and Job Series 0462 and Series 0455 Pages are updated.

Another nice post is up on FamilySaid. Colorado Mom has a question.

06/05 I'm looking for some advice on boots. The ones I have are required for
work, but 'illegal' for firefighting off post (military base- for my job
required to have steeltoe). I was hoping I could get some advice from some
experienced folks on what boots you think are good. And advice would be
greatly appreciated.
06/05 Does anyone in CDF or anyone else know, if we're payed minimum wage are they required to make up the difference when they pass the budget?


06/05 I would like to know if anyone has heard if portal to portal pay has
passed in Congress.


06/05 Does anyone know if Senator Maria Cantwell of WA is up for reelection this
year? That would sure explain a lot of things. Keeping your name in the
newspapers and TV News with inflammatory remarks against the Forest Service
is a lot cheaper than buying campaign ads.

06/05 To Old Fire Guy,

Something got lost in the translation. My point was not that we should bend the rules. On the contrary I think it would be great if we could walk away for safety reasons and the politicians would back us up. The point I was trying to make is that when rich influential peoples homes are threatened and we walk away, the same politicians that want accountability for deaths will want accountability for burnt homes and they won't want to hear that we pulled out because we were on our last box of radio batteries. I do not contest that some individuals may have some responsibility for the thirty mile tragedy but I firmly believe that the investigation was all about finding as many scape goats as possible. One charge against a manager is that "he failed to provide a work environment that was free of known hazards" Would the 'known hazards' be open flame?? or perhaps smoke? When you can tell me how to fight a fire without exposing people to any known hazards I'll believe this investigation was an honest search for the truth.

On the point about poor retention of experienced personnel, I agree 1000% When I started there were about 15 old fire dogs on the district that knew every cow trail, water hole and closed road with a way around the tank traps. You could name any geographic feature and they could tell you the best way to get there, what kind of fuel load it had and if there were any big bucks there in the fall. Prior to 30 mile I would put that number at 4. With the help of the suspensions, the number is now 1.


06/05 Ab - Please post this with a thought- ALL Firefighters need to realize, it could happen to YOU.

Wildland Firefighters need your support - please distribute far & wide!

an excerpt:
The employees positions range through all levels of the Forest. Proposed actions run from suspensions and reprimands to separation from Federal Service. These actions also raise the possibility that some of the affected employees could be denied legal representation by the Government in any civil or other action against them.

Here it is: 30mileoa

AB NOTE: We got this letter anonymously and are neutral on this issue. We simply provide the forum for the airing of views and concerns. People will need to decide what they want to do with regards to the 30mi actions and reactions.

06/05 Really appreciate and enjoy the time you put into this site. Thanks for doing such a wonderful job!


You're welcome. Ab.
06/05 it seems with all the fire activity that contract crews in central oregon would have been assigned to fires .is there a hold up at nicc due to all the fire orders or are feds just getting all the fun this year?

06/04 Anyone know where the best quality and best priced kevlar/Nomex pants can be found this year? I ordered a pair from National Firefighter last year, but I notice they're about $10.00 more this year and figured there MUST be a better price somewhere.

Be safe everyone.
Single Man Resource in Colorado

Please check the options on the Classifieds page. These good folks help support this website. Ab.
06/04 Old Fire Guy,

I was caching up on the recent posts and was going to respond to BBK but ran into yours at the top of the list. I agree with your response but would add:

A major factor in firefighter safety is experience. Many of the "recently hired" lack much of that and the age restriction exacerbates this serious problem. Old (experienced) firefighters were previously the "on the job trainers" that provided the majority of the REAL safety and effectiveness training for incoming "new" guys. For the first few years new firefighters are essentially learning how to fight fire safely and effectively and suddenly swamping the few "old guys" remaining with a wave of new recruits made the situation worse. BAD POLICY! Old firefighters are a resource that is not only underutilized...it is fast disappearing. In order to fight fire as safely as possible we need to attract the best we can, train them the best we can, and pay them the best we can...so those with skill and experience stay on the line in greater and greater numbers each year. Current policy precludes this.

Portal to Portal pay WOULD prevent many firefighters from exceeding the work/rest ratio when they are initially deployed to a fire...but not ADs. Unfortunately, ADs are the most vulnerable and often are a major source of replacement firefighters on large incidents. In addition to being unfamiliar with the terrain, local firefighting methods, and resources, they have the least access to training of all firefighters. Additionally, they are the worst paid and are therefore most vulnerable to the lure of excess hours and fatigue. Any policy which continues to treat them as "firefighting's bastard children" is bad policy.

A pretty good system is currently in place to prevent many needless firefighter injuries and deaths but without the participation of all, it does not work. It is unfortunate that many individuals whose jobs include safety related responsibilities seem unwilling to act responsibly unless there is a threat that they may be held responsible for failing to do so. The 30 mile investigation and disciplinary actions were a wake up call to such individuals who, through inattention, ineptitude, or inclination simply do not take their responsibility seriously. While I agree that no one can be held more responsible for individual firefighter safety than individual firefighters when anyone whose responsibilities include any activity that supports or provides for firefighter safety drops the ball, it is the firefighters that pay for it. This includes many whom I suspect have little idea that they are part of that "safety team". From the heads of the USFS, BIA, and BLM to the timekeepers, bean counters, and biffy scrubbers, we are all part of a relatively delicate chain of safety which keeps those who put their lives on the line as safe as possible in unsafe environs. When a crew leader drops the ball, it puts their crew and surrounding crews in unnecessary danger. When an IC does so, everyone on the incident in more danger... though they may not know it. And when a policy maker drops the ball either through unfamiliarity with the situation or an undue emphasis on political considerations, tens of thousands of firefighters are placed in a higher level of danger unnecessarily. Investigations are good in that they hold those in midlevel responsible for not fulfilling (or possibly even realizing) their safety responsibilities. Unfortunately when they are conducted as internal investigations rather than by non-affiliated investigators, they never hold the possibility of holding those policy makers to their responsibilities by pointing out failures at the top which create unnecessary danger for those at the bottom.

I believe that those individuals being disciplined are BOTH personally responsible AND scapegoats for those higher up in the organizations.


06/04 From Firescribe:

Wildfire season off to scorching start
Temperatures rise as 8,000 acres burn across state (California)

The Wolf Fire on the Los Padres, official fire site (CIIMT 2, Gelobter):

06/04 Is there a nationwide unable to fill list to be had on the web?
I know there is one on the SACC site.
All Dressed up and Nowhere to go...


06/04 Here is the web site of the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper that is near
all the Colorado fires.
There are about 3 articles about the fires.
Trinidad is where my wife was raised.

06/04 Minnesota Wildfires:

MN tax payers are reaping what the MN DNR has been sowing for the past decade. Our current spate of fires are being suppressed by a huge (and expensive) force of air resources due to a lack of available ground forces. To make up for this shortage firefighting crews from all over the USA are being "imported" to make up for the DNR's unpreparedness and lack of foresight. We used to have a large excess of MN firefighters well able to handle seasons like this...but no more.

To those crews now working in MN or on the way to help the remaining firefighters and people of MN say THANK YOU !!!! There is no reason that MN homes and forests should be lost due to the lack of foresight by MNs' top wildfire manager(s).

It is my hope that the MN Legislature will finally pay adequate attention to the exodus of firefighting personnel that has been occurring for the past decade (due to the new budget overruns as well as the huge and unnecessary loss of homes and natural resources) caused by the DNRs' inability to field a fraction of the firefighters they list as "available" on paper. The cost of fire suppression has skyrocketed and unfortunately this is what legislators (and taxpayers) tend to notice rather than the less obvious signs of management ineptitude. It is also my hope that while in the past MN has been a net contributor of firefighting resources to other states, now that the balance has shifted those other states will continue to be able to continue to send help to us in our years of need. I realize this may not be possible if our season is much worse than average.

This also may represent an opportunity for firefighters still looking for work (or experience) to find it in MN. As I understand, calls to the MN DNR by even minimally qualified firefighters are currently being aggressively followed up. Ironically, out of state firefighters are generally provided much better pay and longer hours than those few MN firefighters who have chosen to stay in MN rather than pursue better opportunities elsewhere. It seems that even though the MN DNR is willing to spend tens of millions of tax dollars on keeping helicopters and water bombers on standby they are still generally loath to do so for ground and engine crews. Instead the policy still seems to be save money by sending the local firefighters home ASAP and call them back only when they are absolutely neeeed.

When will they learn?

Dana Linscott
Vice Chair MWFA

06/04 The proposed administrative disciplinary action heralds a sad occasion, but a necessary one. Harv is right on that we owe it to ourselves to be accountable for our actions.

BBK, I know you are hurting, and that you speak from your heart with the experience you have.....but there is so much wrong with what you write. The answer to some of your questions is yes, we will wait for the weather report, we will wait to ensure communications are established. We will not assume that rookies on their first fire are savvy on weather conditions, road designs, and fire behavior. Yes, we need to rest fatigued firefighters even if there is no one else to send (we already have pilot flight time restrictions that are absolute). Yes, we will send the message to firefighters to "back off" if any of the 10 standard orders are violated. Yes, we will hold ourselves accountable.

Old Fire Guy

06/04 Abs et al,

While going through the annual Standards refresher this evening with my volunteer FD, the video stated that there have been no fatalities in Alaska. Is this true? The video is the one that starts with the 18 Watch outs, then progresses into the fire orders (the actual Standards for Survival video??) I think the video is a 1997 production.

Thanks in advance to any and all.
06/04 The Meat,
I'm sure hoping that was a typo. (week/weeks). So much for a 2 to 1
work rest ratio!
06/04 Dear Sir,

My name is Dick van Gasteren and I am an instructor pilot with the Royal Netherlands Air Force. In the recend weeks we trained with a Bambi Bucket that contains 2500Lites of water.
Our job is to assist the local fire department with bush and forest fire in the summer. aldo we are ready to drop the water at this moment we still have no radioprocedures with local fireDep.
Do you have any information about this subject or do you know where I can obtain this info?..

Much regard..
Capt H.J van Gasteren
chief Instr Pilot Royal Neth Air Force

You might also try asking this question at the Association of Airtanker Pilots Message Board. Go to our Links Page under Aviation to find it. Ab.

06/03 At about 1750 a fire started on the Angeles NF, called the Suzanna. Specific location: Hwy 39 and East Fork Rd. Looks like it could go well beyond IA. It's rippin... 200+ acres within the first hour.


06/03 I am looking for a new good old Red Bag. The one I have is kinda beat. I got
one from Supply Cache a while back but they don't have them now. I would be
grateful for some help.

06/03 Re: Hacking of State Employee Records

Mellie and CDFers...
On June 6, Senator Pease is holding an informational hearing in the Senate Privacy Committee, Capitol, Room 3191. Topic: "Recent Hacking of State Employee Records". CSEA is filing a health & safety grievance to address the effects of the security breach on state employees.

MORE... from CSEA... What state info was hacked:
The information obtained by the hacker included the first initials of the first and middle names and up to 13 digits of the last name of 265,000 state employees plus the social security numbers and the six digit codes for payroll deductions, including amounts of deductions. Representatives of were informed that the hacker did not obtain employee's birthdates, addresses, phone numbers or PERS, withholding, or direct deposit information.

CHP sent a letter to all state employees providing them with various options to guard against potential misuse of personal information. The letter is available here: www.chp.ca.gov.

For the latest information on how workers should respond to this crisis and to see what the union is doing, visit CSEA's website at www.calcsea.org.

Stay tuned.
yet another CDF BC

06/03 >From the Glades

Just wanted to say hello to all of you out there, it seems that my first week brought me 150 totals hours, not bad for the tropics !

We've managed to burn about 10,000 acres of Mr Sawgrass and Palmetto in two weeks, that includes about 4-7 inches of rain!

We still have a few openings for slugs from the GS3-6 Range. If you guys got skipped in the Demo round throw in an application here, our season "is just about over" but they are ready to dump us all on the western folks for multi months details. This is one of the most well put together fire programs I have ever seen.

Hope you all have a fantastic season in the west... looks very promising.

The Meat

PS.. The Mahi Mahi fishing has been fantastic :)
06/03 Re Arrowhead/Waterman

That training fire was an acre in size and after it was mopped up I heard they noticed a spot about 300 feet away. Must have been a real bad feeling.


06/03 A nice post is up on FamilySaid. Ab.
06/03 Been standing by waiting for a dispatch since 0600, NICC is a cluster they
don't know which way is up right now. Maybe tomorrow??

06/03 Article on accused arsonist firefighter, link from Firescribe:


06/03 Ab note: The following letter has come in from several R6 sources.

Subject: Thirtymile Fire
To: All Region 6 Employees

Yesterday, letters of proposed administrative actions were delivered to some employees associated with the Thirtymile Fire tragedy. The tragedy and the issuance of these letters has been the most difficult time I have faced in my Forest Service career; nothing else comes close.

I still mourn for our four fallen firefighters --- Tom Craven, Karen Fitzpatrick, Jessica Johnson, and Devin Weaver --- their families and friends. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of them. We owe it to them and to each other to place safety first, to embrace changes in our fire fighting methods and attitudes, and to care for each other.

Now, too, I struggle with issuance of the letters of proposed actions. The proposed actions range from letters of reprimand, through minor and major suspensions, to removal. This incident is a tragedy for these employees as well. They will forever carry with them memories and second thoughts --- "what if?" It is clear that no one meant for anything bad to happen at Thirtymile. Good people --- loved and respected by their families, friends and communities --- were sent to fight a fire, and as always there were associated risks. Many good decisions were made to limit injury and losses of life, yet managerial and supervisory mistakes were made. The mistakes made at Thirtymile were unintentional; however, some were serious and contributed to the tragic outcome.

The letters were given because we must be accountable for our actions to each other. They were not issued because I was directed, felt political pressure, or any other reason speculated in public. They were given to limit future risk, to improve skills, and to help modify organizational behavior. It is important that we not look back in a few years and find ourselves asking the question: "How could this have happened --- why didn't we learn more from South Canyon and Thirtymile?"

Accountability is a cornerstone we owe to each other. I'm confident that you want to be held to a high standard of accountability. It is an essential part of being able to place our lives in each other's hands during a high-risk venture such as fire. Our actions must ensure safety first, foremost, and always. During the Thirtymile Fire, they didn't. We don't break the rules…we don't even bend them, and when rules aren't followed, we must redeem our responsibility and take appropriate personnel actions.

This is a tough time for our agency, our Region and most especially the men and women on the Okanagon-Wenatchee National Forests. We can only get through this by following through on the steps identified to reduce the risks of another Thirtymile Fire tragedy.

Please take the time to listen and assist our fellow employees when you see a need. It is only by taking the time to care and being there for each other that we can heal ourselves.

/s/ Harv Forsgren

Regional Forester

06/03 All the newspapers are talking about the 3 fires in Colorado. The one down by Canon City and two down by Trinidad. What really wasn't told was about the many lightning caused fires in Eastern Colorado on the plains. They lost between 12-15,000 acres of grass land Saturday because of lightning and wind. They had to cut fences to get the cattle out ahead of it. They brought in large plows and disks to cut fire lines trying to stop them. I think that they are still mopping up out there today. A lot of ranchs will go broke now because there will be nothing for their cattle to eat. We think about what a forest fire does, but a grass fire with wind can run so fast that it won't singe the fence posts. If they don't get any rain out there the wind will start moving the dirt next.


06/03 Ab,
Not sure if you will post this or not, but this is in light of the proposed punishments for the 11 FS Employees from the Okanogan/Wenatchee NF's.

2nd Generation IHC Supt.

Here it is -- ONLY YOU. I assume this has been making the rounds... Ab.

06/03 I hope people are following what is happening to the folks in the Methow. This "investigation" and the disciplinary action resulting from it sets a very scary precedent for anyone who fights fire. Here is a copy of the I sent to my representatives in congress. It's long but I am pretty fired up.
Dear Representative

I have been a fire fighter for the US Forest Service for the past 13 years and in my opinion Smokey is playing you for a sucker.

The disciplinary actions taken against Forest Service personnel as a result of the Thirty Mile investigation are a ploy to get you off their back. They do not address the real causes of this tragedy and may have the unintended effect of decreasing fire fighter safety.

The ‘investigation’ was not about finding the root causes of this tragedy or looking for real solutions but was about finding some scape goats to satisfy you, the media and the families of those who died.

Most of the ‘report’ that I was given was blacked out so I can only address a few issues where I can figure out what the investigators determined.

One of the ‘findings’ was that the briefing given to the incoming crews was incomplete and did not point out that the fire was on a dead end road or mention that it was very dry.

I would challenge you to get an Okanogan National Forest Map, pick out one square foot of green (Forest Service land) and check all the roads in that square. I am confident that what you will find is that 90% or more are dead end roads. These roads were built for logging. They end at the last unit. None of them were built for transportation per say and if they tie into other roads it is only because that made that logging more efficient. All fire fighters know this. To hear someone mention that a certain road was a dead end in a briefing prior to Thirty Mile would have sounded as inane as someone telling you before a speech “remember, watch what you say.” The purpose of these briefings is to inform incoming forces of hazards that are UNIQUE to an assignment… not cover every possible hazard associated with fire fighting in general.

As for the ‘omission’ from the briefing of information about seasonal drying, I would like to point out that these crews drove right by the raging fire at South Libby fire on their way to Thirty Mile and that the news media and fire communities had been talking non-stop for a month about how this was the driest spring on record for long time. Again, it being dry was not at all unique to this fire and omitting it from a briefing was nothing more than failing to state the obvious.

Another ‘finding’ was that work rest rules were violated and that fatigue was a contributing factor. What the report does not point out is that there is no good system for tracking the work rest ratios of crews before they report their hours. The only ones who know how long they have worked when a new crew arrives are the crew. The system provides a disincentive for crews to report when they have been on duty too long since the more they work the more overtime they get. Expecting local fire managers to play detective to try and figure out who has worked how long in the middle of a fire emergency is totally unreasonable. For example if a crew shows up in the middle of the night, who is the manager supposed to call to find out when they went on duty? Everyone from their duty station is in bed. The real tragedy of this is that there is a system the Forest Service could use that would remove the incentive of fire fighters to work beyond their limits. It is called Portal to Portal pay. Basically, fire fighters are paid from the time they leave their duty station until they return. If they are too tired to fight fire safely, there is no monetary incentive for them to keep working. This proposal has been around for some time and is used by some other agencies. As I understand it, the Forest Service looked into it but decided it would be too expensive. If you want some heads to roll for the role fatigue played in the Thirty Mile tragedy, find out who decided the additional safety that Portal to Portal Pay would provide was not worth the cost.

A few more thoughts on the use of ‘un-rested’ fire fighters. The system also does not address what to do if your folks are out of time but the fire is still burning. Again I would challenge you to pull some records from last summer from the National Interagency Coordination Center in Boise ID. Take a look at the unfilled orders for resources. What is a fire manager to do if the fire is still burning but they have no relief crews? Are you going to back them up if they just send everyone home to sleep? Try to look objectively at the Thirty Mile fire without the benefit of hindsight. What if the manager had not sent folks when it was a couple of acres because they knew they were not rested and then the fire blew up, costing millions of dollars, destroying thousands of acres of timber and putting hundreds of additional fire fighters in harms way. When it comes out that the manager had a chance to catch it while it was small and had 40 fire fighters who were eager to go but kept them in camp to rest because of rule… what would the fall out for the manager be? I suspect they would be reprimanded for being an incompetent bean counting bureaucrat. With the benefit of hindsight it is easy to say the rule should have been followed at Thirty Mile but many times with wildfires you are faced with a choice between two poor options. Use a few tired fire fighters now and get it while it is small or wait until tomorrow and risk it growing into a monster. For every fire that gets big we catch a hundred while they are small. Do you want to send fire fighters the message to ‘back off’, make sure all the I‘s are doted and all the T’s cross and then if all the paper work matches and we have a current weather forecast and we have good radio reception and….and…. and… we can send some folks? I think this approach will result in sending more fire fighters into larger fires and more dangerous situations. As I write this, managers all though the Forest Service are trying to figure out what to do in these situations. I’d like to tell you they are rare but if you pull those records from Boise, you will see that the “book” solution, “order a relief crew” is a nice idea but in my experience most fires have not read the rule book and won’t wait for additional crews to arrive. The first Fire Order is to fight fire aggressively but provide for safety first. Much has been made of the safety part of this order but no one seems willing to acknowledge the value or the reason behind the first part. More checklists will not make us safer; they will just reduce our aggressiveness even more.

The last thing I would like to touch on is the real effect of these personnel actions on fire fighter safety. I’m sure the intended message is supposed to be “you are responsible”. In reality, the message I and many other fire fighters get is “your dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.” The managers on the Thirty Mile fire made the best decisions they could based on the information they had at the time. They left people who were qualified to handle a relatively small straight forward fire while they concentrated on a large complex fire 50 miles away. If the standard we are to be held to is that our decisions will be evaluated with the benefit of hindsight, none of us are perfect and we all risk ourselves both professionally and physically every time we take a fire assignment. I work for the Forest Service but not in the fire shop. Taking fire assignments is not my real job but is something I have voluntarily done to support the fire fighting effort. I am a very competent fire fighter with thirteen years experience. If these personnel actions are allowed to stand, I will not be volunteering for any fire assignments this season. To do so is to put my career at risk. I have always thought that if I made the best ‘call’ I could based on the information I had, the Forest Service would back me up. I don’t believe that any more. Take a look at the National Interagency Coordination Centers list of unfilled orders. For this time of year, the shortage is unprecedented. Others like me are reacting to the personnel actions taken by saying ‘no thanks.’ Many experienced fire fighters are thinking the same way I am and I expect the result will be that the lack of experience in the fire fighting ranks will be exacerbated and safety of fire fighters will suffer as a result.

I have not addressed any of the charges leveled against those individuals who were on scene. As I said earlier, most of the findings in my copy of the investigative report are blacked out to the point that I can not figure out what the investigators found or for that matter what they were looking for. From what is not blacked out, it is clear to me that this investigation started out with some conclusions and then went looking for facts to support them. If what you want from this investigation is something that is easy to give the press to show that we are ‘taking care so this never happens again’ then the heads this investigation gives you should work just fine. If however you really care about the root causes of this tragedy and really do want to make my job safer then this ‘investigation’ is an insult to you and a disservice to the families of those who died. It does nothing to protect fire fighters and will create an even more bureaucratic environment that will put fire fighters in more danger.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

06/02 Hey all you San Bernardino and Los Padres FF and you Everglades NP Dude,
Be Safe
, and we want to hear about it in FireChat when it's all said and done!

Ab, please add the following:
Some scuttlebutt from a CDF friend:
1 - CDFers will get Minimum Wage if no state budget is in place by July 15 and Safeway and other vendors are not carrying balances due for the duration of the budget crunch.
2 - The Hiring Freeze which Davis extended to CDF is accompanied by a 40 crew reduction. Is that 800 firefighters??? Is this a bad rumor or for real?
3 - 250,000 CA state employees social security numbers and bank accounts may be compromised due to a security breech.

Hey CDF Guys and Gals, if true, I just can't believe your bad fortune... Cum'on over for dinner...
Is there someone we should write letters to?

06/02 Smoky, smoky here in NJ. We have a 1000+ acre fire that has shut down 24 mi of the Garden State Pkwy. Very dry and windy. If you know NJ it's between Pinewald and the Double Trouble State Park.


06/02 Patrick in Bremerton
you are in luck. There are a few wildland organizations uin your area.
Kitsap County has a great program that gets sent out on WA state
mobilizations about 25 days a year. There are also 8 contract companies
within 60 miles of bremerton.
<Ab is forwarding the details>
bye Leo
06/02 A few comments re the Arrowhead Incident/Waterman Burn:

I'm glad CDF is stepping up right away to say it was an escape... If it went the way of the Martis and Fallbrook Fires, it might otherwise suggest a pattern of CDF non-accountability. At least BLM took responsibility right away for the Lowden Fire on the Shasta-T. When escapes happen, we all look bad. We look even worse if we don't "fess up" early on.

In this case, I wonder why a firing class was given permission to burn with Friday's weather conditions?
unstable air mass, predicted thunderstorms, 18% RH, 92 deg, upslope/upcanyon winds, fuel moisture practically zip, dead fuel probably more than 80%.

NorCal Tom

06/01 Arrowhead Incident - San Bernardino NF

CDF has admitted that they are responsible for this fire and have assigned their major incident investigation team to work with USFS to determine who and what went wrong. The incident started during a "firing" class being instructed by CDF personnel. It was held at the bottom of a canyon while a storm front was approaching. Ooops!


06/01 Dana,

I was curious because DNR Metro is going to hire me now- i didnt know that
they hire this late in the season. Looks like we will get some action here
in Minesoota-dont ya know. thanks

Stay Safe,


Looks like ya might have yer hands full: www.startribune.com. Ab.

06/01 Hi All,

Does anyone know where I can find a site that describes the Best Value
Analysis that R6 is using for their contract engines? At one time I found
it on the R6 website but can't find it now. Thanks.

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