July, 2002

Home of the Wildland FireFighter

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07/31 Abs

These links should be interesting to the fire history buffs:


Comets? Astroids? Great Fires of 1871? Strange.... Ab.
07/31 PBY photos:

These photos are from Marcia Shorter, a recreational boater on Roosevelt Lake who was in the right place at the right time. PBY is a belly-scoop air tanker on contract with the Washington State DNR.

I hope to have some killer shots of the Chelan fire coming you way soon.

J.Foster, Highlands 26.

Nice action shots. I put them on AirTankers 6 photo page. Ab.

07/31 T-123 Memorial Photos:

I found these pictures of PB4Y-2 Tanker 123 and thought you would like to add them to your other photos of Air Tankers and list them as In Memory of PB4Y-2 T-123 as you did with the C-130A T-130.

Jerry, an Air Tanker Buff.

Thanks Jerry. I put them on the bottom of AirTankers 5 photo page. Ab.

07/31 Fireronin,

This issue on mandatory retirement age and minimum entry age and its effects
on people coming into our workforce as permanent employees has been debated
on this site more than once. I for one do not want to lose my fire
retirement, which seems to be a possibility if the feds allow those over the
37 to sign away firefighter retirement (young vigorous workforce, etc.). I
believe that there are plenty of secondary fire positions out there for
those people who are over 37 and just now trying to get a permanent
position. These positions include dispatchers, warehouse, some fire crew
supervisor positions, some helicopter managers, and a myriad of others.
None of these jobs preclude anyone from working on the fireline as a single
resource type in any position they are qualified for. These secondary
positions allow those with primary coverage to continue with firefighter
retirement and allows those without coverage to work also under regular FERS
retirement. The only requirement some of these have is prior line fire
experience, which in my agency is one 90 day season in a primary position.
With the number of both Primary and Secondary positions that are becoming
available from the National Fire Plan, finding one of these positions should
not be difficult. To get a one of these jobs a potential employee need only
be flexible about the position and location. If they are intent only on a
specific position on a specific Forest or District they may well be

Just another perspective.......

07/31 more info on the helicopter accident in CO at; www.thedenverchannel.com

07/31 Readers we're getting questions from the public as well as ff family members about the Southern Oregon Fires.
Let's take the Biscuit Complex as an example, since M and others have asked. Here's how to start to research a fire:

Here's wildlandfire.com's list of all fires this season with website info by state:

Here's the Biscuit Complex website from that page

New vicinity map (yesterday) for the fire from the Siskiyou page

(You can also go to the sites at the top of the state listings including the ODF site that sometimes have other links and info.)

Southern Oregon Fire Weather Forecast (Red Flag means watchout for wind, etc)
Siskiyou Fire Weather links page

Wildfire news search engine on our site, takes 15 sec to load
Lots of articles on Oregon fires

If you really want to get into it, you can go to our Links page under News and look at situation reports by Geographic Area (GACC). If you go on down to Weather, you can check NOAA Satellite images for infrared and smoke patterns. If you go to Geographic, you can check the GeoMac site for topography and fire perimeter. Sometimes you can luck into extra photos of large fires on the Incident Management Team websites. The list of Team sites are linked under Federal Pages on the Links page.

Just a few ideas for people lookin' and hopefully save answerin' a lot of e-mails. Ab.

07/31 Red Army Wife:

These house are just material things you're right there, but some people have spent their entire lives working for these homes. You should not view them as material, but as someone's life work. I've been lucky enough to only have to let one house burn in 8 years of fire. It also doesn't matter if it's a small trashy trailer or a multi million dollar home, it's the fact that it is SOMEONES HOME and we should do everything we can to save them.

We're not wildland firefighters anymore, we're interface firefighters. Just about everything that breaks 100 acres is threatening some sort of structure.

The meat
07/31 Given the fire behavior, etc, I want to remind us...


Five common denominators that contribute to accidents/incidents have been identified through studies
of tragedy fires. It is important for firefighters to readily recognize the following common denominators so that future
tragedies can be prevented:

  • Most incidents happen on smaller fires or on isolated portions of larger fires.
  • Most fires are innocent in appearance before unexpected shifts in wind direction and/or speed results in flare-ups or extreme fire behavior. In some cases, tragedies occur in the mopup stage.
  • Flare-ups generally occur in deceptively light fuels, such as grass and light brush.
  • Fires run uphill surprisingly fast in chimneys, saddles, gullies, and on steep slopes.
  • Some suppression tools, such as helicopters or airtankers, can adversely affect fire behavior.
  • The blasts of air from low-flying helicopters and airtankers have been known to cause flare-ups.
For firefighter safety tips, go to www.nifc.gov/sixminutes/s_six_minutes.asp.
07/31 Northzone5,
I have different Japanese interpretation of ronin e.g.. Samurai whose master has been outcast or assassinated. Rogue samurai. But your interpretation is not so far off. 18 years FF. Now ex FF. Outside the Fedfire system looking in. Pot stirrer? Yeah...but not just a potstirrer. I make a living now recognizing corporate inefficiency and fraud. I saw the Enron thing over 3 years ago. Worldcom was obvious by then too. I am slowly putting check marks along side the names of over 200 major companies that I recognized quite a while ago as "playing fast and loose" with their books. I wonder why it was so easy to see from the outside when even mid level managers did not have a clue?

Sorry I struck a nerve. In retrospect I see how it appears to be tossing rocks. I am sure lots of federal fire professionals have worked long and hard to provide the fire protection plan we now have. >From the outside looking in it still appears to be patched together and far less integrated than such a vital service should be. The efficiency of multiple bureaucracies attempting to coordinate with each other while each ones' bean counters attempt to shift "fire dollars" into non fire related programs as much as possible appears, from the outside, wasteful and dangerous. For Gods sake, most fedfire agencies don't even recognize experienced firefighters as professionals. It appears from the outside that a lot of thought has gone into a long series of mitigating programs rather than an integrated fire suppression effort. Having said that.. what exists now does pretty well with the resources they have. My main issue with the age thing is that there appears to be at least a "decade" of experience being wasted by the current age restrictions. If they are being recruited as ADs successfully and integrated into the fire management effort then that issue is moot. Regardless I don't advocate 50 year old FFs being "recruited" for permanent positions.

I think the "news agencies" including CBS have discovered that they get much more interesting stories if they look further than the "media handlers" provided by federal agencies in response to requests for interviews and information. The "pertinent information" they receive from those sources tends to be pretty "dry" and is often provided simultaneously to all the media. For better or worse as wildfire has become a "better story" they are going further and further beyond the "normal channels" for their stories. I think if you look closely you will see that they often feature some of the same issues discussed on this forum shortly after they are posted. Hmmm.


07/31 M asked if the fires would burn into CA? They already have! The Florence and Sour Biscuit are approaching 200,000 acres as of Tuesday night. They are less than 5 % contained and current plans are to backfire the two to make one fire, they are less than 2 miles apart. They have 27 dozers making a 30 mile fire line. Some line is on the power line corridors because they are a fire break as it is. Most people are on a 48,24 or 30 minute evacuation order. Houses and mail boxes are flagged with blue ribbon as being indefensible. One wildlife rescue is hauling away 10 + tigers in horse trailers! The fires are 3 miles from the towns. We have one truck on that fire and one on the Timbered Rock Fire. It is being described as hellacious fire behavior. Safety Zones have been used many times. Unbelievable flame lengths and it doubles in size every 24 hours it seems. The Timbered Rock is holding due to the weather inversion.

Keep safe and remember that a house is only a material thing.

Red Army Wife

07/31 More memorial information courtesy of Redding.com 7/31/02:
"Meanwhile, in the Almanor Ranger District of the Lassen National Forest,
where Engine 11 was based, friends and colleagues of the trio killed made
plans to attend a memorial service for Self tonight.

The service will be held at 7 p.m. in the Westwood High School Gym, said
Rebeca Franco, a National Forest spokeswoman.
John Self's funeral will be held in Wynoma, Miss. A trust fund for his family
has been established at the Plumas Bank in Westwood. Heather DePaolo's funeral is
being planned in Buffalo, N.Y. — her hometown. Details of SteveOustad's services
are not yet available.

I'm not sure if this is the same web site referred to in an earlier
"They Said" comment:

"Franco said the Forest Service is setting up a memorial Web site for
the three at www.R5.fed.us/lassen."

More heavy hearts for the helicopter pilot...

Thanks DG. Ab.

07/31 No, not again!!!!!

Goodby G, we will miss you.

Fly with the angels!

07/31 Once again, sincere condolences to the family and friends of the heli pilot who passed recently!

any stats on the percentage of contract aircraft that have gone down this year? contract vs agency

re Fireronin ronin is an ancient term Japanese for an outcast Samurai is this guy just a pot stirrer, an ex FF, or
some wannabe?

on a diff note: a 1st yr ground pounder is asking me for advice about how to avoid FLEAS in fire camp.......... sounds like a wonderful topic to introduce to They Said as a defuser, or maybe it would just open up a new can of worms. (*L* I read the info on my dog's monthly flea stuff, not for human use!)


07/31 Greetings and thank you for this great website.

When it comes to wildland fires, the United States is divided up into several different regions. For example, Northern Idaho and Western Montana are in Region 1.... Washington and Oregon are in region 6, I believe. I am looking on the internet for a national map which shows these different regions. Any suggestions?


www.nifc.gov/news/nicc.phpl at bottom. Ab.

07/30 So sorry to hear of the helicopter crash in CO. Too many deaths. Condolences again. When will they end?

Wasn't there some question last year on the appropriateness of using helos for mop up?

Jack V

07/30 The "Pines Fire" is really rippin' here at Julien (hills e of San Diego). I heard 13,000 acres. Can that be right? CDF is out in force for structure protection identifying the keepers and the looooosers.

Sign on SanDiego News is reporting:

After dispatching a force of 450 firefighters by Monday night, the force was
augmented to nearly 1,400 on Tuesday. Firefighters attacked the fire this morning
with 85 engines, 11 helicopters, nine air tankers, six bulldozers, and 31 fire crews.

CDF Engineer

That one is up on the current FIRES 2002 list. Link at the top of theysaid. Ab.

07/30 Are Sour Biscuit and Shelly Creek fires going to burn into California? Maybe they already did?


07/30 Howdy All,

Been working hard here of late and have'nt had time to check the postings, but I'll throw my hat into the ring on Inmate Crew usage. I have worked with inmate Crews in the State of Utah and I have to agree with BC Davis posting of 7/28. The "Fellas" as we called them were some of the best Type 2 Crews I've had the privilege to work with. Skilled in the Art of WF, in great shape to do the job, did'nt bitch and not one discipline problem. Perhaps some of the other postings were correct in their assessment as well, but speaking from experience, I agree with BC. I say "Right On" to the inmate crews out there and the personnel who are in charge of the Crews. Keep up the good work and hold your heads up high !!! Perhaps some of the "naysayers" lack the experience of working on fires with these Crews, but if you get the chance, talk to some of these guys and gals and you'll find out their human beings just like you and me." Paying their debt to society" ? I think so !!


07/30 Fireronin,

I appreciate your desire to change the retirement and mea system, but I am in that 50+ category and people our age who have worked in fire for many years should be thinking about turning it over to the younger folks one of these days soon. Along with experienced firefighters, many friends and coworkers who have chosen to retire are working AD in various supportive roles to transition the agency to younger folks. It is in the process of happening.

Granted, we have deficits in staffing of STL and other mid- to upper- level supervisors. On a whole, our work force is somewhat less experienced. Ten years ago we could call on our captains whenever we needed division group supervisors. Now we're lucky if captains are STL trainees. It's the Bat Chiefs that are division group sup qualified.

If we changed the mea, would we pick up many more that are division group supervisor qualified? I wonder. Let me point out that even if people in current positions are not as qualified as in the past, the way the system is set up, they still work within their capabilities and redcard quals. If we're short sups, we pull crews off and let it burn.

As Ab said, we're doing our best to get folks trained both in the classroom and on the job. Many (in R5) who retire continue to serve the agencies as trainers and mentors and fill-in in other ways. It is my opinion that we do not need to change retirement or MEA rules, simply fight fire safely, continue to train and mentor those less experienced and let the experience level rise. It may or may not take 10 years. Experience depends on where you are, what's going on, who's sponsoring you and supporting you. Some people see more fire and gain leadership skills faster than others. (Some few never learn even with the classroom and OJT we're dishing out.)

In my opinion, it would be beneficial if there were a few more bucks in the budget to allow each of our upper level FMO type folks to have a "shadow" so that when they retire there is someone to step into their shoes. Don't know if that will happen, though.

Regarding this summer and shortages. I would venture to say that if we had the same staffing levels as in the late 70s or early 80s, we would still be short this summer. This summer fire is different, vegetation is different, climate is different. Fire season started early and with a vengeance. Already I see people stressed, stretched and tired and we still have 2 months to go. Yup, this would have been a marathon year regardless, even if staffing was at pre-RIF levels. Generally I feel that on the fires I've been on we're doing our best to put safety first.

NorCal Tom

07/30 Heartbreaking news, a helicopter working in Colorado's Grizzly Creek area has crashed. It saddens me deeply to report the pilot did not survive.

Condolences to family and friends.

I say enough! One life is way too many to lose.




Here's a report: www.abcnews.go.com Condolences. Ab.

07/30 Ab,
Two nights ago the national news included a story on how the retirement of experienced firefighters has left the US with too few "managers" to safely put all the available firefighters on the fireline. Retired "managers" were being called upon to come out of retirement and Aussie "managers" are being "imported" to help alleviate the shortage short term. No plans were suggested to solve this shortage long term nor was mention made of any efforts to encourage the experienced firefighters who are not eligible for permanent positions to make themselves available. It went on to indicate that...over the next decade we will need more and more experienced "managers" while at the same time going through a period of accelerating retirement of individuals that have the needed experience and skill.

While this shortage was entirely forseeable/predictable I have yet to see indications that any preparations were made to prevent it when the decision to implement the current hiring push for firefighters was made. I appreciate our Australian counterparts helping us out of this fix,short term, but I can't believe that the USFS, BLM, and BIA seriously consider this "band aid" solution a responsible manner in which to provide a long term fix by simply repeating it year after year. Has there been any long term solutions proposed at the WO to this problem? Who would I contact to discover this?

Maybe I am missing something or don't have my facts strait.
The facts as I understand them are:
1.We are entering a period of accelerated retirement of personnel with the needed fire "manager" skills/qualifications.
2.During the forseeable future we will need more personnel with these skills/qualifications due to the increased likelihood of a higher number of difficult to suppress/contain wildfires due to drier/warmer weather trends and an exponentially increasing urban interface.
3.The needed skills/qualifications take at least 10 years to acquire and not enough "manager trainees" are anticipated having the needed experience to fill the projected need for at least 10 years. There is no safe manner to "accelerate" this qualification process since actual experience is so key.
4. An untapped "pool" of folks with the needed experience is currently ineligible for use due to current legislation which preclude them from "permanent positions" if they are over age 37. While they may be available as AD's it is unrealistic to expect them to accept these positions of high responsibility at AD pay rates. It is equally unrealistic to expect the USFS, BLM, or BIA to allow ADs to perform this function regardless of skill, experience, or ability.

I am sure that there are folks in the "upper echelons" that are smarter and better informed than I am but as hard as I look I can see no indication that a long term fix is being pursued/considered. Essentially they are "contracting out" these positions to the Aussies this year. Is this a prelude to allowing future contracting of these positions to US citizens? I suppose that would not require any additional legislation other than a liability exemption similar to the one just passed and would limit the financial burden to a year to year one rather than one that must be budgeted for long term. That might work but just seems like just a bigger "band aid" rather than a real solution and makes me very uncomfortable. I believe that those with the lives of firefighters in their hands should not be exempt from liability/responsibility yet am certain that no private individual would be willing to fill those positions without that caveat.

The new challenges presented in national wildfire suppression/control remain largely unadressed. What we have now is a slow changing policy/program designed for the situation which existed 50 years ago. Similar to the vintage aircraft that have been modified for dropping fire retardant rather than bombs it has a new mission which its' original designers never even considered a possibility. And like those old aircraft which are currently proving to be inadequate to the task at hand, a cobbled together, patched up national fire suppression "plan" is a strong potential killer of firefighters.

I have had some initial contact with CBS news and would like to be able to pass on to them accurate information regarding the long term plans of the USFS, BLM, and/or BIA on this subject. I would appreciate anyone that can set my facts strait or provide some clue as to what solutions have been considered. In the past I have too often watched the "media" dish out inaccurate information to wish to participate in that process...but since I am now involved I have to settle for just providing the best info to them I possibly can. Can anyone help me do that?


Fireronin, it is clear you do not work within the fed fire system and that you have an issue with the age restrictions placed on federal firefighters. If you did work within the Forest Service, BLM, or National Park Service, you would know that we are not working with a "cobbled together, patched up national fire suppression plan", but rather a carefully crafted and thought out plan that is the result of vast experience and countless dedicated hours on the part of fire professionals. Professionals at all levels have been considering and working on the staffing issues you raise for several years now and have a number of mitigating programs in place, at least in R5.

One of our problems is that when firefighters hit 50, more than a few are tempted by the AD positions they see out there. In these positions, they can make 1/3 again as much money and not have to deal with the paperwork inherent in their regular Fed job. And I can assure you, many ADs are being hired as trainers of new people, as engine captains, as ICtype3 and some are even used as fill in as FMOs on districts.

As far as the media goes, if CBS news is really interested, they should contact the people that can answer their questions directly.


07/30 FireBill (RE: Guidelines for Disengagement),

You can find more information on the FS intranet for the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests FSWEB. Sorry, no outside link, but if someone wants to contact me through Ab's, I can see what I can do to send someone a cd of it.


Off the Oka/Wen FSWEB click on "Fire Vision" on the left frame.

AC Rookie
07/30 Ab(s),

Reading Cache Queen's comments as well as DW's, I have a few of my own. Removing just the "small brush, slash and understory" will help to keep fires from crowning when the ignition source is nearby but not from a rapidly moving fire front. 90 plus years of fire suppression has contributed to millions of acres of forested lands that are choked with vegetation, heavy down material and dead and dying stands. This is the reality of today. Debates may be conducted that seek to blame this or that for the situation we find ourselves in. However, we must deal with reality and not blame.

Removing only "small brush, slash and understory" does not go far enough to treat the problem. Thinning needs to include removal of larger understory trees than just those less than 10-12 inches dbh. Turn of the century photos portray open forests with little to no fuel ladders. Most small trees and brush were killed through frequent light intensity fires. 90 years of fire suppression has permitted numerous trees to grow into the mid to upper canopy levels. Today, we are faced with many forested areas that are dying from competition between trees, insect attacks and shading out. As these trees die, they create snags, a dangerous hazard to firefighters, and eventually increased down fuels. Research has shown that the past 100 years has been wetter than normal. It is being suggested that we are returning to a more normal, possibly below normal, rainfall pattern. Our forests are too densely stocked to support this over abundance of trees. Thinning is the most realistic method of reducing stocking while reducing fuel ladders and fuel loadings. This is not to suggest that thinning should remove the larger trees. Thinning should concentrate on removing the smaller trees sizes; but, were needed, some larger trees should also be removed until the desired stocking is reached.

Commercial thinning combined with precommercial thinning and down fuels cleanup would help to return forests to the more open conditions pictured in the late 1800s to early 1900s. It would reduce our reliance on imported timber, provide jobs, and reduce the cost of treatments. Lower treatment costs would permit more acres to be treated each year with the limited funds available. If any real headway is to be made in correcting this problem, commercial thinning (logging) needs to be an integral part of the mix.

As a long term R5 employee, I have prescribed, within numerous constraints, thousands of acres of this treatment method. Fuel ladders and down fuels were removed while the bigger trees were retained. It has been tested by fire and works. I sincerely hope that we are provided the opportunity to practice forestry that has been proven to work.


07/30 DV

If you use the incident website on the McNally fire you can check the updated maps such as fire progression and road closures (currently posted daily). So go to the following link and click on Maps:

Also the major fires on the map are as follows:
North of the fire are 1977- Bonita Fire and 1975- Flat Fire
(I believe those are the names-the years are correct)
East of the fire is 2000- Manter Fire
The most recent South large fire is the 1990 Stormy Fire

Can't answer any of the fuels questions...

07/30 Abs,
Keeping you up to date from downunder.
Sad to hear the news about the rollover & deaths.
All the best to everyone.
From: NSW Rural Fire Service
Sent: Tuesday, 30 July 2002 5:00 PM
Subject: Ministerial Press Release: NSW Firefighting Force Heading for USA

NSW Firefighters will lead a crack firefighting force heading to the United States next week to help fight the country's worst fires in half a century.

US President George W Bush will tonight officially sign a bill from Congress granting immunity from prosecution for Australian firefighters to join the firefighting effort in America. A formal request to Australian authorities will follow.

"In response, NSW will send the strongest contingent of 50 firefighters out of the expected Australian and New Zealand force of 110," Mr Debus said.

"The fire situation in the US is the worst that authorities have faced for more than 50 years. Hundreds of homes have already been lost in the flames and thousands more are threatened.

"These fires have been raging for several months and the official US bushfire season is only just beginning.

"The call-up of our firefighters is testament to their high levels of skill, training and expertise as seen during our own most recent bushfire crisis over Christmas and New Year.

"We should all be proud that our firefighters have earned such international recognition and respect."

The NSW Rural Fire Service will send 20 firefighters, National Parks and Wildlife Service another 15 and NSW State Forests also will send 15.

Minister for Forestry, Kim Yeadon said that a State Forests senior firefighter, who last week flew to the United States to assess the situation, has confirmed the need for Australian firefighters to assist in the effort.

"A NSW State Forests officer will act as an international liaison for the Australian contingent," Mr. Yeadon said.

"The Forestry Officer has reported that the situation is extremely serious and we should lend a hand as soon as possible.

"NSW firefighters will be on their tour of duty for up to two months and are expected to leave as early as next week, following rigorous medical assessment and extensive briefings.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Phil Koperberg said the force would report to the National Inter-agency Fire Centre, the body coordinating much of the US firefighting effort.

"They will be deployed primarily as fire-ground supervisors and aviation specialists," Commissioner Koperberg said.
07/29 Here is one of the pages of the McNally Fire website www.r5.fs.fed.us/sequoia near the Giant Sequoias. Look at the fire history. I wonder when those old fires burned if the fuels were small, or if there was lots of brush and small trees like today. Someone said the danger is that the crowns of the trees will burn. Is that a danger because the groves are down in the valleys with fire on the ridges or because of ladder fuels? I will have to go look after the fires are over.

Another good page Thinning project shows how little damage was done by the fire in areas that were thinned. I wish we had the freedom to do this without so many roadblocks to the process. It makes sense.

I wish there were more websites for California fires. If anyone knows of other photos of how fire acted in thinned areas, please let me know. I saw the link that k or kelly provided.

The R5 web is not quite up to par this fire season, but you could check the Wild Fires 2002 list which is up to date. Ab.

07/29 Hi
So sorry to hear of more firefighters deaths. Prayers for the familys and the injured. Hope they will be well soon. Please be safe out there.
07/29 I saw in another engine a few days ago a pocket card I think was entitled "Guidelines for Disengagement" but the guy didn't have a spare. Anyone know what I'm talking about, or where I can get one?

Look Up, Look Down, Look Around,
07/29 I felt this poem appropriate and hope you publish it on your site in memory of those who
have lost their lives doing what they loved to do, fighting wildland fires. Let us send them
our prayers down that road, for they are going to a better place to live.

Nancy, we can't publish it because of copyright laws, but the thoughts are nice. Ab.

07/29 Info on those lost and those surviving, condolences, info on the investigation and
on future public memorial services.

More details on the rollover

News release of condolences regarding the loss of firefighters on the Lassen engine
Lassen National Park website. The file is in pdf, but is small. Memorial information
will be coming out of this website we have been told.

Good job, Abs. We appreciate your efforts at keeping the wildland fire community
appraised of what is happening.

Remain vigilant.
Original Firescribe

07/29 AB:

Found this story this morning in Denver Post about the Air Tanker pilot
that was just behind T-123 at the Big Elk fire.

07/29 cache mtn fire (OR)

r-6 here. we got our buts kicked yesterday. evacs of 5,000 people and loss of two homes. more winds expected today

hope we can hold our own

07/29 July 28th Another sad day in the fire service
Condolences to the family and friends of those who perished on the Stanza fire engine rollover yesterday.
Best wishes for a quick recovery to those who were injured.
07/29 CDF Mike, you answered the question with your post.

NO firefighter clothing is meant to prevent injuries from "direct contact" with flame. Your injury is an example. Protective clothing is only meant to protect you from radiant heat and metabolic heat, and in cases of structural clothing, exposure to conductive heat through the fire atmosphere and through thermal barriers. Even ARFF proximity suits are just that....PROXIMITY SUITS.... protection from the radiant heat and not the actual flames.

Yes, you will counter....... but if I had a second layer?.... I wouldn't have gotten the burn.

Maybe if you were a little closer with that second layer... it may have gotten your airway singed and not just your arm. Thanks for us, you didn't.

I love your posts even though I don't always agree with you (actually, I agree with you alot of the time). It is nice to come here and just discuss the issues that affect all of us firefighters. Its great when we finally find the middle ground.


07/28 Currently two fires burning on the Siskiyou NF and adjoining private lands. Florence fire jumped the Illinois River to the south. Plume dominated fire currently 50,000 acres, burning S-SW. Sour-Biscuit wind driven, 17,000 acres, burning N-NW. Agencies think two fires will burn thru the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and join near somewhere in the middle of the wilderness. Currently constructing a 30+ mile dozer line along main ridge west of Cave Junction as last ditch attempt to stop this mega fire. If this line fails, fire will be on Illinois Valley floor within 2-7 days. Evacuation plans ready to implement for entire Illinois Valley area. 20,000+ people. Town of Selma and surrounding area in immediate danger within next 24 hours. One historic lookout lost and fate of boy scout ranch on Illinois River and historic guard station unknown at this time.

Please be safe out there my friends!!

Mellie, I await your arrival with bated (or baited) breath.


07/28 Mollysboy,

Thanks for the correction. I must've gotten my wires crossed between the
dawning of the Age of Aquarius and the rising of the Phoenix. It happens to
all of us at one time or another. Its some good reading.

07/28 "I personally helped compile a list of litigators in Idaho holding thinning and reductions projects up and found that less than 3% were subject to injunctions." The lack of information in that statistic speaks legion. It fails to say what percentage were appealed, or litigated. It also fails to include any mention of what percentage of timber harvest projects have been appealed, litigated, or subject to injunction. How many million of Federal (taxpayer) dollars per year are tied up in NEPA appeals or litigation?

Here is something else to consider. Why did Sen. Daschle need to have legislation to eliminate these projects from NEPA when he had already cut a deal with the Sierra Club? Because other environmental groups would have tied up these project in appeals and litigation. If the compromise had been as good as everyone said it was it should be able to stand up to the NEPA process without undue delay. This just verifies that the process has become corrupted.

It is also enlightening to note that the Black Hills portion of the legislation was passed by slipping it into a unrelated bill, that Sen. Daschle did not want debate on the subject.

Here is the Sierra Club trying to back-pedal after getting caught with their pant down. www.sierraclub.org/logging/fires_july26.asp

Sen. Daschle's website is strangely silent on the subject. http://daschle.senate.gov/

07/28 Con crews: Pro or con? (Sorry bad humor)

To BC Davis, I tip my helmet to you it probably is some big job you have.

I can tell you why the con crews are used at least in my part of the world.
The state inmates are brought in to fill jobs in base camp, cooking,
cleaning, garbage and other chores. In my opinion I've had much better food
from inmate cooks than about 1/2 or better of all the private kitchen
wagons. They seem to have more concern and pride with their meals, only the
heads of the private crews seem to have this care.
the others are just there to get a paycheck.

As for inmates on the line.. lets think about this having them (con crews) on
the line makes more sense economically and provides us not incarcerated are
free for IA.
Also it's said in my state law and probably as well as the fed rules and
regs that the cost has to be kept down.
Not to mention you said "They should do their time, in jail, until their
debt to society is paid."

The main point is repaying the debt to society here, they are doing it in a
couple ways: cheap labor, team work, self respect, pride in knowing that
they are doing a needed job paying back to society, these men and women are
typically close to being released and This can and probably helps the crew
members obtain a good work ethic.

It's just my thoughts.
07/28 I've always considered this site to be for all wildland firefighters, regardless of agency, so the recent heartfelt "I wish CDF had something as fine as this" is a bit of a non-sequitur. As to the CDF policy of requiring nomex pants over uniform pants and sleeve liners, yes, it adds a bit to the heat load. But since we train in the same gear, our heat acclimation is presumably that much more thorough. I initially resisted the extra burden of the sleeve liners, but shortly after it was instituted I happened to be on a fire in Ventura County wearing an illegal nomex shirt without sleeve liner. In light-to-medium fuels we had just cut a line that we were firing from. For the briefest moment a flame licked at my arm just below where my short-sleeve t-shirt sleeve ended. I ended up with a nasty burn about the size of a silver dollar. This is from probably only a one-second direct flame contact. Subsequent numerous cases of flame impingement have caused me no burn injury at all. I am an absolute believer in the two-layer concept. In fact the case mentioned above is the ONLY burn I have received in over thirty years of wildland firefighting. With the exception of some moderate hand-burns due to my all-too-frequent failure to wear my gloves......................

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande

07/28 For those that don't think NEPA has been abused in environmental law suits, the attached is good reading.

07/28 K.

I have a hard time believing that politicians will able to effectively orchestrate any kind of productive or
"reasonable" thinning of the national forests. It seems the money will end up in someones pockets, most likely the
near bankrupt (sarcasm included) logging companies. Its very easy for everyone to point the finger at the
enviros and accuse them of stonewalling the process when in reality people who live on the fringe of these
"wildlands" often dont take steps to create defensible space around their homes and then blame the system after
their inevitable destruction. Im going to have to disagree with Cache Queen on this one. I think the less political
the issue the more the "right thing" will get done.

07/28 May our thoughts and prayers be with our brothers and sisters who have been
lost this year.

Rich, it was pretty low to take a jab at one of the newer folks at "They
Said". Those of us that have been around awhile know how important it is to
hear other peoples views and make up our own minds. He had a valid question
and deserves some answers from all sides. You gave your answer and I agree
the Kelly York story is a horrible thing. Don't cloud his or her mind by
making them think they are a newbie and don't know anything. Give them a
chance, who knows, they may be the next Chief of your department someday and
talking down to you for you arrogance.

Here's my view as being a FS Wildland Firefighter for two decades. If I was
involved in a burnover, I'd be the first one to say double layering is the
way to go. If I was involved in a heat stress emergency, I'd be saying
single layers are the way to go. There have been some pretty good studies
done pointing towards my side... are there any that have been done on your

My thoughts are: I have a whole lot better chance of being involved in a
heat stress emergency than I do of being in an entrapment. I learned good
skills from the "Old Dinosaurs" that taught me the 10, 18, and LCES and
agree with SoCalCapt.

Here's a link that helps to exlain my views... It's an investigation about
several heat related injuries that affected a certain CA fire organization
on a seemingly small fire. This isn't a rare occasion, I see folks in yellow
and orange pants being taken off the hill all the time:


Please note the expert references it has made to USFS studies on heat
injuries as well as reference to Project Aquarius from the Aussies.

..."the United States Forest Service (USFS). The USFS does not make
recommendations about the amount of time which should be spent at work and
rest for specific temperature-humidity combinations, nor do they give an
absolute temperature (environmental or individual body core) above which
work should be stopped. The USFS does state that at a temperature of 98
degrees F and 30% relative humidity, the conditions existing at the time of
the incident, that "only heat acclimated individuals can work safely for
extended periods."

"The firefighters at this incident were wearing two layers of clothing;
undershirt and dungarees under NOMEX shirt and pants. For a workload of 450
kcal/hour, two layers of clothing, and a WBGT of 80.1 degrees F, ACGIH,
NIOSH, and OSHA all recommend that workers spend 30 minutes resting for
every 30 minutes working." They actually sent 2 hours working and a 15
minute break. Now calculate that same period with single layers... whats the

Here's my goal.... Have MTDC and CDF jointly produce a study. After the
study and recommendations... all agencies implement them. No politics, no
agency bashing, no personal agendas... what do you think?

Rogue Rivers
07/28 The information officer on the Stanza Fire just called with the following information for the theysaid community:
The engine that rolled over was from the Lassen National Forest, based out of Chester.
Those who perished were
Steven Oustad, 51 of Westwood CA
Heather DePaolo, 29 of Redding
John Self, 19 of Susanville

The two who were injured and are at Mercy Medical in Redding are
Alex Glover, 19 of Susanville
Ryan Smith, 20 of Susanville

The unofficial prognosis for the survivors looks good. We will post memorial service info when it becomes available. It is unknown right now exactly what happened. The Fire News articles have some information from the PIOs.


07/28 I have heard about the accident through gossip, are there any news stories or
links as to what exactly happened??

-fire killer
07/28 Here is a CNN story on the recent tragedy on the Klamath fire: Klamath fire I knew the acting captain on that engine. He was a damn good fireman, Had a great sense of humor, and he was the kind of friend you could depend on. Steve was a stand up guy. He will be missed by all that knew him.

-Former Almanor guy-

Former, I wasn't able to make your link work. Stories are beginning to show up on the FireNews page. Readers, see my post above. Ab.
07/28 Hi Ab!

WOW!! that's about all I can say after the Tanker 123 crash and now the news this morning regarding one our own Engines going down in a rollover on the Klamath... It's never easy when you hear about people you know or had the pleasure of knowing... I have a few good trinkets from the crew of Tanker 123 and even have a few pics of the pilot with his Tanker.. I will send the pic once I get it scanned..

To those who died on the Engine this morning, My heart and Prayers go out to those on the other crews and to their families and children, etc... MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL and May God help those 2 others survive. Please keep us posted on when the services for those folks will be held...

To all of you out there involved in the firefighting whether red, green, white, etc it doesn't matter whether you fight from the ground, the air, up in the lookouts, or behind the consoles, you all have hearts and souls of Gold and you all are truly UNSUNG HEROES.. You never get the credit that all you deserve... I do hope that the tragedies that have occurred recently begin to dwindle down soon.. Is it me or has there been a lot of fatalities this fire season?

My condolences to the families, friends, coworkers, etc... of those who died this morning and to those who have died giving it their all and fighting the fight...

May you all Stay Safe and GOD BLESS,

C'More Illusions


07/28 BC Davis,

My problem with inmate crews has nothing to do with cost, or with how well an inmate crew does/doesen't perform. Furthermore, I treat all humans I meet with respect until they prove otherwise. As for your treatment when in fire camp, how to you expect free people who you are taking assignments and jobs from to treat you? (You in general referring to the entire crew.)

My problem is this: I am a free citizen, I've invested the time and money to get trained and prepared myself for a job that I am waiting to be called on to perform. The fact that incarcerated individuals are out there right now performing that job angers me greatly. As meko9 said "aced out of work by criminals". I don't believe it could be said in a better way. Try this in most other professions and see what would happen! LOL! Why should it be any different with wildland fire? I truly can't understand why this is allowed to go on. Free citizens that contribute to society (again see mako9's posting) should, without a question, be given preference over incarcerated individuals. It's a moral question, and hits home especially hard when you are not working. They should do their time, in jail, until their debt to society is paid.


07/28 I find it funny that as soon as someone challenges
anybody in the logging industry, people come out of
the woodwork (no pun intended) to defend it. I think
that is a natural by-product of getting laid off en
masse and having to retrain for other jobs close to
the industry such as wildland fire. Its no wonder
that everyone will jump into the "cut-it" camp simply
because this is what will employ hundreds if not
thousands of workers laid off for what they were
originally doing for the forest products companies. I
for one know that environmentalists/conservationists
didn't abuse NEPA (a common misnomer and an excuse of
everyone challenging conservationist thinkers) because
I personally helped compile a list of litigators in
Idaho holding thinning and reductions projects up and
found that less than 3% were subject to injunctions.
Its always easy to place the blame on one group but
the reality is that there might be a better way to
resolve our fuels problem than cut board feet of

07/28 Re: Rich, when he said today, "This is a quality site, I wish CDF
had something as fine as this."

Well Rich, CDF as an organization may not, but all CDF employees who
chose to participate or lurk here do!

Original Ab.
07/28 Rich,

I did watch the Kelly York Story- very moving. And in case you didn't
notice, I wasn't attacking the CDF policy- I was actually praising it
and wondering why other agencies haven't adopted similar measures.

Moreover, when I ask questions or challenge policies here on TheySaid,
I'm doing so to learn something new or to express a genuine concern i
harbor. And when people respond, I listen. In fact, opening my mouth
here on TheySaid has been highly educational- ex Mollysboy's "Project
Aquarius" post (how else would I ever hear about obscure Australian heat
stress research). Nonetheless, my previous postings generated a lot of
animosity, but I now know more and am better off for having posted them-
my concerns have been addressed.

And one last thing, there is a reason I joined CDF. Despite my
questioning, I think that the state of California treats their fire
fighters with a high level of respect, thanks in great part to the
presence of the union. No agency is utopia, but i am happy and proud
to wear the CDF badge.

-CDF Convert
07/28 Most Federal land management agencies have a legislative mandate for multiple use. While wilderness is an important component, so is timber harvest. A lodgepole clearcut reduces the fire hazard and allows for natural regeneration. Same with a commercial shelterwood cut in ponderosa. These harvests can be conducted in such a manner to treat the slash so that it will not be a fire hazards. Some fuel profiles will require biomass reduction through force account or service contracts. The point is that there needs to be a mix of tools in the land managers toolbox and that needs to be as broad as possible to meet the management objectives.

Forest management has been hamstrung from abuse of NEPA by preservationists and Daschle's bill is a backdoor acknowledgement of that. An unintended consequence of this is a backlash from the motorized recreational use organizations. One organization in my state has a bumper sticker which states "Wilderness, land of NO uses!"

Multiple use may be a hard pill to swallow for some, but that is what enabling legislation intended.

Right on Cache Queen!


I’d like to throw my 2 cents worth into the question you asked Cache Queen about what "Reasonable Logging" is. A couple of opening statements about my perspective for the sake of clarity and so you don’t over-do free speech with the "maybe" word to take a shot at my integrity. I’ve been in the wood products business for awhile ( I’m one of those guys that used to fight fire for USFS and wore jeans and a khaki shirt that SoCalCapt talked about) That said, I’m not speaking for forest products companies, just my own experience and observations as a life long resident of rural America, a wildland firefighter, and a logger of one sort or another over the years

I’m not sure what your historical research has been on these topics but both thinning and logging on the same operation was common at one time. At the same time it reduced much of the brush as fuel load as a normal part of the logging operation. This defrayed the cost of thinning, brushing and fuel load reduction to the USFS as they were generating revenue rather than spending tax payer money for the same end result. If you want to do your home work go back to the RARE 1 and RARE 2 reports (1970s I think), and the SNEP (Sierra Nevada Ecological Report), mid 1990s. When you study these works and what they advocate, and think about what was implemented, then consider the HEALTH OF OUR FORESTS today as compared to when we scraped tried and proven techniques of forest management for unknown ideas and lesser known agendas.

The Honorable Mouse

07/28 Very shocked and saddened by the news this morning. Praying that there will
be no more tragedies. We just sent an engine up that way and was telling
the captain about the narrow roads etc. on the Klamath although this could
happen anywhere. Please would someone post when/if a memorial will be held?

Another Fed Fire Guy

When that info comes in, we will post it. Ab.
07/28 I am saddened by the news this morning of the unfortunate accident in the Klamath. Be it red or green these incidents affects all of us.

To CDF? Convert: The purpose of the liners in the nomex shirts is for 2 layers of protection from radiant heat. It has been proven over and over again that 2 layers of clothing is better than one. Try asking your Eng. or Captain about things you know nothing about before making false accusations here. Don't believe it? Ask to watch The Kelly York Story.

To Ab. This is a quality site, I wish CDF had something as fine as this.

Rich, thanks for your post. I can attest to the fact that CDF Convert is truly that. As for his questions, he's trying to gain wisdom, not attack the agency. We are all looking for the safest alternatives and dialog helps when different agencies have different policies and regulations. We can learn from each other and from questions such as those asked by CDF Convert and others. Ab.
07/28 Prays are needed for all families and friends involved in this latest
tragedy. My heart aches......

Please be safe!

07/28 The Aussies did a major study in the mid-90's on the physiology of firefighting, called "Project Aquarius". They published all the individual studies in a special edition of the "International Journal of Wildland Fire" in 1997. But they also put together a "user-friendly" publication for common folk titled "Safe and Productive Bushfire Fighting with Hand Tools" in July 1996. Phil Cheney at CSIRO may have an electronic version available.

In that writeup, they find that 2/3 of the heat that firefighters are subjected to is metabolically generated, and only 1/3 comes from the fire. Their advice is that fire PPE should "let heat out, not keep heat out"! Most Aussies fight fire with a single layer jump suit, no gloves and sleeves rolled up.

The USFS-designed shirts and trousers are designed to allow air flow, which is critical for cooling; the Nomex material will give a fire fighter 20-30 seconds of protection from burns, enough time to get away from the heat source, or deploy a shelter. Another important body cooling factor is the head: ever hear the old saying that "if your feet are cold, put on a hat"?? Some studies show that 20-30% of heat loss occurs through the head. Cover it up, either with a knit hat, or with a face/neck shroud, and you reduce the amount of heat loss that can occur. Great in Winter, bad in fire season!

Structural firefighters go for complete body coverage, because of the needs of their job, but only have to work for a max of 20 minutes before their air supply runs out. Wildfire/Bushfire folks have to look at a much longer work period, with the cumulative heat stress effects mounting up over several days.

There are a growing number of reports of heat stress injuries and also a fatality among firefighters going with double-layers and full-time use of the face/neck shroud.

Looks like an area that needs some more study......?

07/28 This is for all of us who belong to the IAFF:
We need to help our federal brothers who fight fire that are still listed as
Forestry Techs. The Biennial convention is coming up in Las Vegas Aug
11-16. Resolution 53 will be brought up on the floor for the IAFF to seek
legislation to reclassify firefighters that are currently classified as
forestry techs. This way they will be entitled to the same benefits that
other federal firefighters receive.
Also Resolution 54 asks the IAFF to seek legislation to change
firefighter's pay to portal to portal. I know some (maybe alot) of you may
not agree with some of the IAFF's viewpoints, but these two resolutions
affect ALL of us.
PLEASE ask your delegates to give a positive vote for these two important
Thank you,

Hear! Hear! Ab.
07/28 Steep country indeed. So sorry to hear of the losses; what a year.

07/28 Ab-
So sorry to hear. We have been getting thick smoke from that fire for days.
The roads are precarious and perhaps present a greater challenge than the
flames in this neck of the woods.

I know everyone is being as safe as they can be.
My heart aches for us. Prayers for the two in the hospital and loving arms for family and close friends.
07/28 No details available, just heard of a USFS Fire Engine Rollover on the STANZA fire in CA. Possibly three fatalities. Condolences to fire service personnel, friends, and family. Have faith that there were survivors. Learned that miracles are possible since miners' rescue in PA.


I just spoke with the Information Officer on that fire who confirms that there was a single vehicle rollover at about 0200 and that 3 firefighters have died. Two more are injured and have been transported to the hospital. Condolences. I have great sadness at this news. The roads in northern California around Happy Camp are small with many treacherous curves. The terrain is very steep. Smoke is thick.

To all who are fighting fire, BE SAFE!


07/28 I'm with Cache Queen on this one. And I'm backing Daschle et al. What
they're proposing is not an end to all federal laws, nor a rape and
pillage disaster -- what they're proposing is a political move that
(finally!!) will bring the issues and dilemmas and problems to the
forefront, where discussion and negotiation may finally bring some sort
of solution.

Those who can't handle the mind-bending concept of "reasonable logging"
or "thinning" and who recoil at the very IDEA of selling a couple big
logs, well, gee. <shakes head> We assume when pilots fly that they know
what they're doing. We assume when surgeons operate that they know what
they're doing. Why can't people assume for just a bit that maybe
foresters who happen to be employed by a federal agency know what
they're doing, too? The legions of biologists and hydrologists and
archaeologists and foresters out there might just possibly know what
they're doing, too, and perhaps it's possible that ecologically sound
forest management plans might include fuels experts along with the
plants-and-critters folks --- is it too much to ask that the forest
experts we employ could be granted just a little trust in who they are
and what they do?

For a few good examples of what thinning and burning looks like relative
to unlogged and unmanaged, check this:


I have to stop now because I can smell soapbox.

07/28 to firewhirl and to meko 9

is your only experience with inmate fire fighters just with cdf? i run a con crew with ndf and we do one hell of a job on fires. yes, the cost is less then a free crew but the tax payers are getting more for their money then you think.

i have been on free, type 2 crews for years. i would put the crews i have run the last 2 seasons against any free crew i have been on. why do i say this? my crew is disciplined, my crew is loyal, my crew is in excellent shape and trained to do the job. yes my crew is full of bad boys. but when you can take hard asses from prison and turn them into a effective fire tool then you really have something. their motivation is the attitude that they receive from folks like you. they want to prove to everyone that even though they screwed up in life, they can make a difference on a fire. i was at the martis fire outside of reno nv last year. it was my first major fire with ndf. i was totally disgusted on how we were looked upon. it was like we were the red headed step children. but ya know what? on the fire line, we did our job. we were effective, safe and had no injuries. we did just as much work ( if not more ) then other crews. we make a difference. we are around when the kids go back to school. we are around for floods, truck wrecks, or any other incident that occurs.

dont sell con crews short. when you run into one, at least try to give the crewboss some respect because he/she has a tough job. not dealing with his or her crew but dealing with the attitudes of others.

BC Davis

ps, ab i need glasses and am too stupid right now to get them so excuse the spelling

07/28 DW:

No, not a spokesperson for the forest industry, just a lowly government servant with a realistic viewpoint, as I sit looking out my living room window at a P.pine forest regime that is no longer quite as resistant to fire as it should be, as a result of insect infestation -- which has not been mitigated by removal of the matchsticks -- large or small. I do admit the term I used "REASONABLE LOGGING" certainly is and was open for interpretation --- a WIDE one. In my perfect little world I'd like to see, yes, thinning, coupled with what I guess a better term would be a "selective cut"-- that is dictated by the forest habitat type that is being managed.

Although, as a last word (at least for this post!) it appears that management of resources has been replaced by management of appearances by many folks.

Cache Queen
07/28 I have waited a long time to see some great pics of waterdropping Hueys and
other helicopters on the web, they are just few and far between and the
pictures are usually dark and not so good.. Your photos on the other hand
were wonderful and show the true work horse that these helicopters
are. The Cobra was kewl to see and I was wondering if that was one of Ron
Garlick's Cobra's? Keep up the great work the site is wonderful and keep
the helicopter photos coming.

Thanks again.
Mike D.

I don't think it was, but I am sure I will be corrected if I'm wrong. Ab.
07/28 CDF Convert,

the Aussies did a study called Project Phoenix. It addressed the exact issue of single versus double layer protection. CDF now uses double layer bottom, top, and shroud. Fed folks use single layer. The question that has been asked many a time and I'm not sure of the answer. The Aussies had some answers...

It was found that the majority of injuries that had any relation to clothing were predominantly HEAT STRESS related. Their finding was that firefighter clothing was meant to provide protection from outside from radiant heat and maximum protection from within from internal heat.

Clothing for wildland firefighters is meant to provide protection from internal heat sources... Wildland firefighters are best protected by the 10, 18 and LCES, not from the clothing they wear. Old school wildland firefighters used to wear levi's and a denim or khaki shirt.

A part of the study compared burn injuries to heat stress injuries. I'll try to dig up the info and send it in to AB if someone doesn't beat me to it and fire assignments allow..

Just my thoughts...
07/28 From Firescribe, more on the deployment: www.oregonlive.com
All in the family on Hispanic contractors in Oregon: http://news.statesmanjournal.com
07/28 Wasn't sure for a while, but I've got it now. I agreed and then
disagreed and then got confused about firewhirl's posts. But this last
one did it, when firewhirl mentioned taking 200 lbs of saran wrap on the
back of the neck from 10 feet up.

I nearly took a finger off like that one day on a fire in montana, and
it was just from 3 feet up. Those industrial commercial size rolls are
huge and heavy (and they have a razor edge blade on them, unlike what
you buy in the store.) I duct-taped the finger up and served about 800
ff's before I unwrapped the finger and dealt with it later. Saran wrap
is brutal, man, don't knock it till ya tried it.

Anyhow, back to firewhirl. Hook yourself a job with the caterers, kid,
or buy the equipment and do your own contracting for food. You already
have the background and the competition's less. Call OK in Washington
for starters, they always need help.

Why? One, you make a whole lot more money than firefighers. Two, cooks
can outbitch and outwhine firefighters any old day. Three, as long as
you wash your hands, you won't be endangering near as many lives in camp
as what you sound like you're capable of on the line. And four, you
might live longer.. ...

07/28 Firehorse,

Get a grip! I'll visit next time already.


07/28 A note from National Geographic. Readers, if you haven't seen this, here it is. Make sure the sound is turned on. Ab.

Dear Editors:

Every year over 100,000 wildfires break out across the U.S., and this summer has seen the most destructive wildfires in Colorado and Arizona history, consuming acres by the hundreds of thousands.

But have you ever considered who the men and women that battle these fires are, what keeps them motivated against such formidable foes and why they respond to the Fire Call?

Log onto NationalGeographic.com’s Fire Call as Idaho wildland firefighter Norbert Schuster explains how beating back wildfires has impacted his life. Listen as he reveals why he continues to fight these life-threatening behemoths up to 14 hours a day, several months out of every year. Poignantly, the squad boss recounts one of the most harrowing days of his career.

For the entire full story, please visit: www.nationalgeographic.com/firecall.

Maxine Broderick
On Behalf of NationalGeographic.com

07/27 Can someone tell me about the PPE discrepancies between CDF and other
agencies? If you haven't heard, CDF issues nomex shirts with cotton
lined sleeves, cotton lined nomex shrouds, and gauntlet style gloves.
This seems to make good sense. I know some people say all the extra gear
is too hot, but at the very least, the lined sleeves on the shirts seem
like an easy, safe innovation that will provide extra thermal protection
without making a life much hotter.

-CDF Convert
07/27 CDF Mike,
Your remarks to firewhirl about inmates being cheap left out some very
important points. First of all 17 bucks per hour for a crew is reasonable
yes but don't forget each one of those guys cost the taxpayers 30-60k a
year to have incarcerated. that is $510,000 per year (probably on the low
side) for the 17,then add 50k for the capt, and 80k for the officers and
you get $640,000 per year per crew. that means that one crew is costing
us $1753.42 per day everyday (not including transport supplies etc.)
whether or not they are on fire. I as a taxpayer would much rather see a
law abiding citizen who is an asset to the tax base and not a hindrance
doing these duties on fire and on the prevention end. Those crews do have
a use that I can see and roadside brushing and trash pick-up, weed eating
along highways is a good job for them. I really don't appreciate the red
army always saying "inmates are cheap" when they have a negative impact
on the tax base. they don't pay for housing, gas, utilities, food, and
anything else law-abiding citizens contribute to. They compete with
legitimate contractors for jobs (though it is illegal) look at all the
money firesafe councils are getting and how CDF is sneaking the inmates
in there to do the work, not bidding the work out and keeping alot of the
money in house (which is also illegal and don't say it doesn't happen cuz I
know it does for a FACT) And to top it off a very small percentage even
stay in the business. I could go on and on but this is too tiresome and I
just wanted firewhirl and anyone else who's been aced out of work by
criminals to know there is someone on their side who knows what the
heffers don't want people to know.

07/27 Hey Cache Queen....

what exactly is REASONABLE LOGGING? I mean, illustrate for me the
difference between logging and thinning would you because, it sounds to me
like you feel that taking out trees such as say, P-Pine and Lodgepole are
warranted when these trees either resist most all but crowning fires or need
them to germinate. Everyone knows that it is the small brush, slash and
understory that carries the fires and this would require THINNING..not
logging, k? Or maybe you are a spokesperson for the forest products
companies would would like to take all the large stuff and leave the
gasoline behind


07/27 Hey Firebabe! Welcome Home

Is "life off fire" getting to you yet? While everyone else thinks you've
really lost it, it's only business as usual...

You started the fire in the fireplace - with a fusee.

You went to bed - and brought your clothes into bed with you and stuffed them
down near your feet so they'll be warm in the morning.

You had to get back up and fire up the generator - just so you could get some

You got up to go to the bathroom - grapping the toilet paper out of your gear

What's with all that toilet paper out in the back yard?

The toast started burning while you were brushing your teeth with the
Gatorade - you had to backfire the kitchen to save the whole rest of the
house (good thing you had the drip torch handy).

After you mowed the lawn - you edged everything "to fireline standards" with
your pulaski.

You started to water the lawn - but you've run out of hose for the laterals.

That's nothing - you've ordered up more hose (and they're slinging it in as
we speak).

You were supposed to just "prune" the shrubbery - not remove the ladder fuels.

Why's the ladder leaning up against the roof?

Who keeps shutting off the gas to the house?

You've retrained the dog - instead of fetching her stick and bringing it to
you, she has to take it into the green since the stick is "unburned fuel".

Escape route flagging all the way down to the mailbox?

You've decorated the end of the neighbor's driveway with red flagging -
because it's just not defensible...

The Building Inspector stopped by wondering what you were going to be
building after the dozer gets done - you've explained that it's a "safety
zone" (any idiot would know that the lawn's only suitable for a deployment!).

The kids are asking for stuff again... - you explain that those needs for
additional resources should have been identified during their last
operational period and thus be requested in a more timely manner.

ps - good thing you're only back for a couple days at a time!

Stay Safe! "Kicks"

A couple of other ideas to enhance the nostalgic nature of this post. For breakfast, make up a bunch of scrambled eggs, dye the eggs green and gray (not sure how to get that gray effect), put 'em in the fridge several hours, then remove and let stand in the sun in an area with plenty 'o flies prior to eating. Don't forget to make your lunch the day before and freeze it overnight. Remove early the next morning, put it in a plastic sack and tie it to your belt behind you, so's you have the opportunity to sit on it frequently before enjoying at lunch time. Ab.

07/27 CDF Mike,

Thank you for the info. on the economic side, I never realized it was so inexpensive to field inmate crews. Economics drives politics I believe.

On a different note: Damned difficult dirty and dangerous duty is what I would like. For years now I've stood for hours...yeah, sometimes12 or 16... in heat from 90 to 140 degrees, constantly bending and stooping, lifting heavy objects, surrounded by sharp tools with workers using other sharp tools at elbow's reach instead of 10 feet. Open flame and hot objects all around me. Even an open vat of 350 degree oil nearby. Althought there hasn't been any danger of a snag falling on me I have taken a 200 lb. roll of saran wrap on the back of the neck from 10' above me. I've also had my entire right hand 1st and 2nd degree burned. Numerous cuts, but still have all my digits. I can't wear leather gloves or nomex, although my kitchen boots are all leather and 8" high. You know what? I'd rather do this outside for a couple more dollars per hour with protective clothing and well trained crew mates at a reasonable distance from me.


I'm think'in I'd enjoy miss'in a few fires, rather than be behind bars 'n fences between times. Though I'm pleased to have missed fire whirl's experiences also. Ab.

07/26 "firewhirl" wrote:
<<I'm sure it's been said before by many, but why the hell are there inmate crews on duty
when a law abiding citizen like me who hasn't even had a traffic ticket in 10 years is working
some crappy fill-in job? They screwed up, why should they enjoy our backcountry and
fighting fire? Let's keep them in the can where they were sentenced to be, good behavior
or not. I know that sounds harsh, but it's their problem. Ah politics.>>

Wow! Such bitterness! I never considered politics as being a factor. Though there might be
something to that, I strongly suspect that economics is a more likely reason. A 17-man or
woman Inmate-Firefighter Crew costs $17.00 per hour for the whole Crew, plus wages for
the Crew Captain and Corrections Personnel. Much cheaper than a a Crew staffed by free
people. What part of your agency's budget are you willing to cut in order to pay for the huge
increase in funds needed to provide the equivalent firefighting power with free staff, firewhirl?
And I am sure that "firewhirl" has absolutely no conception of the conditions these Inmate
Firefighters work under. Though it has its moments, few would describe their experience at
the end of the season as "enjoying the backcountry".

BTW - I haven't had a traffic ticket in nearly 10 years myself, and I have to do very nearly
the same damned difficult dirty and dangerous duty myself. Shoulda stayed in school. Maybe
it's not too late for you, firewhirl.

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande

07/26 Mellie,

I must bow before one much wiser and astute in the ways of the political world than this lowly retired groundpounder. I am humbled in your presence, although be it in my computer. I feel I have brought shame to our friendship (even though you drove by my humble community on your vacation last year and did not grace me with an audience!) and I beg forgiveness. Because I am suffering such humiliation, I will report to the nearest ICP morning briefing, at which time I will, before national TV, throw myself upon my chrome-plated retirement pulaski. I beg your forgiveness Mellie and can only hope and pray that I have not cast an unpenetrable cloud over our relationship!

You have brought up some points that I had not considered. Well done as usual Mellie.

Your humble servant, footstool and fan,

07/26 Hi AB,

I have really enjoyed your web site the past two years, and feel it is truely an asset for the fire fighting community. I have been involved with fire since 1961 (as a summer time seasonal). During the off season I teach science in a small community in Western Montana. With my experience in the classroom I have been involved in teaching classes in firefighting. If anyone is interested I have set up powerpoints for Standards for Survival. Presently I am working on Units in S-290 Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior. So far I have Units 1 and Unit 7 done......I would certainly share these with anyone to keep our fire fighters safe..

Thanks again for your great site.
Montana Griz

We'll probably get more requests for your kind of ppts as that kind of training begins in the winter. Thanks for the offer. Please keep watching theysaid to see when requests come in. We did put the ppts on another server so there is space to store them if need be. Readers, dont'cha just love this community? Ab.
07/26 Donna, Dozer Support

Lima designates a Dozer Strike Team, Gulf designates a
Crew Strike Team, and Charlie designates an Engine Strike Team.


Thanks Rich, might as well add those to the Fire Terms/Nicknames list even though we're supposed to use clear speak. Ab.
07/26 Some interesting posts on FamilySaid. If you have a spouse, parent or sibling who would like to join in, invite them to. Some good experience and information being shared and we all know that most firefighters have a hard time with relationships. Ab.
07/26 ranger ash, sorry havent seen any 212, classes yet but if you hear any let me know and vice versa

p.s were getting our buts kicked here in oregon


I think someone was looking last winter and didn't find anything. Our ppt gurus are both away on fire. Ab.
07/26 Hey 6, and andy s, david g, jessica a,

6: From 18-34 was a ski bum (and still am!) and worked nights as a line cook, saute and grill work. Didn't get introduced to wildland fire till this year.

andy s, david g, jessica a : start sending applications out. check the jobs links here at wildlandfire.com. send out more applications. hope and pray. then send out more applications. make sure you're around your phone or pager. then send out more applications.

I understand we have lots of groundpounder rookie crew available, but there are two points that bother me as a trained and tested rookie who hasn't yet been called out:

1. See the posting below by IvansGirl on 7/23.

2. I'm sure it's been said before by many, but why the hell are there inmate crews on duty when a law abiding citizen like me who hasn't even had a traffic ticket in 10 years is working some crappy fill-in job? They screwed up, why should they enjoy our backcountry and fighting fire? Let's keep them in the can where they were sentenced to be, good behavior or not. I know that sounds harsh, but it's their problem. Ah politics.

Thanks all for the recent great postings.

P.S. It's logical: if the rookies don't get out there will continue to be a lack of experienced firefighters and leaders out there in the future.

07/26 Ab...

RE: Daschle language.....things are heating up! Arizona is upset and which state will be next? Oregon, Montana, and oh my goodness....could California want their piece of the action too!

Politically someone had to take the first step in doing the right thing! The swirl of emotions, comments, bashing...etc is just part of the process that will take place over the next couple of weeks. Those (extreme environmentalist) who are apposed to proper management of forest and rangelands are in a frenzy to stop any additional states from joining in. Long term of this means "Jobs in the Woods".

If you ask the people of Deadwood SD how they feel right now, they would say that this should have been done a long time ago. They are now faced with the second part of fire and thats the potential of flooding. Their properties are even at greater risk now than ever before. The next couple of weeks should be interesting on the political front.


07/26 Ab,

I wanted to thank the over 19 crews and hundreds of engines and overhead from Minnesota stomping the beast in the west this year. Most of them are the best available and always rise to the call. Although unable to join the fight so far, I know they're doing me proud. Anybody got any tales of these Minnesota characters?

07/26 dear sir,
This is a letter from many friends who are all interested in wildland fire fighting, here in denver, colorado. we were inspired by the determination and courage you guys show, and all the work you did to fight fires here in colorado. thank you. we were wondering if you could send us some information on how to get started as firefighters, like basic training, and stuff like that. any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. thank you again for all the help.

andy s, david g, jessica a
07/25 On 7/24 a shelter deployment occurred on the Winter/Toolbox Complex
(Forest Service jurisdiction). Following is a summation of the
information that is currently available:

The deployment occurred on the north side of the fire and involved one
20-person contract crew (Ferguson #53).
All 20 shelters were deployed.
17 crew members were transported to a hospital in Bend - 6 by ambulance
and 11 by van.
Some individuals were treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation, but
none required hospitalization.
All crew members returned to incident camp on 7/25.
The deployment site has been flagged, but the shelters were collected
and returned to incident camp.
A national Serious Accident Investigation Team has been activated.
Team Leader is Susan Giannettino, BLM Deputy State Director for
Resources for Idaho: Chief Investigator is Kathy Hull, BLM State Safety
Manager for Utah, Missoula Technology and Development Center is sending
Technical Specialists, and Forest and Fire Liaisons will be assigned.
The team will be in place by the evening of 7/25.
The OSHA area office is initiating an inspection of the incident.
Compliance Officer Alex Bedard will lead the inspection.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Temple Tait-Ochs
Safety and Health Mgr, R6/PNW USDA FS
07/25 Tahoe Terrie,

The R5 pages are still hit and miss for me. Getting to be really frustrating.
Their up then their down. Sometimes I can get to them using a work-around,
sometimes not.

07/25 Abs,

Two articles from the Washington Times (7-24-02 & 7-25-02) about the
Dashman's change of heart:



07/25 hi all,

listening to an additional dispatch a few minutes ago an heard ic ask
for a lema type and a gulf type strike team. in the recent past i've
also heard charlie type. what does this mean ?

donna, dozer support
07/25 Sorry firehorse, I'm weighing in with r3firetaz. I'm not furious about the
Daschle fiasco, I'm ecstatic.......even if it's only one state now, it's
time someone was willing to stick their neck out enough to make the first
steps and perhaps pave the way for the rest of the West that is living in
the dying forests without the benefits of logging.

I've gone through my required education, coming away with my forestry
degree......granted, that was many years ago -- but the basics of multiple
use are still there, and on a personal note, as I am one that lives in the
"stupid" zone (i.e., interface) -- and am also AWARE of the consequences, I
welcome the REASONABLE logging and thinning that needs to go hand in hand
with other fuel treatments. I guess I just don't understand what it is
that makes you so furious.....maybe I've missed the point. I do see that
the legislation at this time is just for one state -- but we can hope it
will start the ball rolling.

Cache Queen
07/25 Hi Firehorse, m'dear!

Hey, I think Daschle did something, started something with his rider that
needed to get started.

I take it you're viewing his action as a way he could support his constituency
while sneaking out of having to deal with the issue. Maybe... Instead, I think
he couldn't see any action coming from the Congress going the usual routes,
and decided to put a "foot in the door" to crack the impasse. The fact that he's
the majority leader of the Senate makes his foot even larger. As far as party
goes, I can use the fact that he's a Democrat when I talk with environmentalists
(extreme and otherwise) who need to be educated. If a Republican had done
this, it wouldn't carry the potential for changing the minds of Democratic
environmentalists, in my estimation.

I guess I still wish change in this country could occur more reasonably and
gracefully with all people playing by the rules. The "pork" stuff pisses me off...
as well as fire money designated by congress for FIRE going to other FS
areas and exorbitant cost pools. Oh well. Politics.

Hug to you, my friend!

07/25 From Firescribe:

Several with more details on the deployment:

Daschle perspective:

07/25 Deployment on the Toolbox fire. Do not have many details yet, 17 to ST.
Charles Hospital in Bend Oregon.

I just checked with the info officer on the team. Three people did not go to the hospital. The 17 that did were treated and released and are back in camp. Ab.
07/25 Hi Ab,

You have probably heard that a 20 person crew had to deploy on the Tool Box fire. Some to the hospital smoke inhalation and a few burns.

Stay safe.

Thanks for the info Kat. I'll also check further. Hope all are well. Ab.
07/25 EMT,
That was a CDF Strike Team from the MMU on the cover of Firehouse Magazine.
Capt. Emmett
07/25 Hello Fellow Comrades & families

I am a New Zealand base Wildland Fire Fighter. Currently doing a study course on fire. investigation. I would welcome corresponding with other fire fighters in the field on any fire related subjects. I also would like to hear from HotShot teams. One of my hobbies is collecting Patches from different fire departments.

Our brigade is situated in central north island, Rangitikei Rural Fire Service - our crew (15) members Our district is quite large and we work with our sister station Kiotatia and urban brigade's Marton & Bulls. We train weekly throughout the summer from October to April and then fortnightly in the Winter April/October. During the winter months we have theory exams and NZQA qualifications adding to our Red card qualifications.

We have two engines, one turns into a Command Unit at and the other a four wheel drive Hilux.

Currently, it is winter in NZ, but as August nears, so does our Spring arrive. This year, our winter has not really been cold, more wet than anything. The heavy laden moisture content will be a great start to our fire season no doubt.

If anyone would like to correspond with me, it would be much appreciated

Kind regards

07/25 JR,

I just stopped laughing my ass off for about an hour. I never was a wildlands FF, but your ryhme hit home because I used to be an Infantry squadleader. Thanks for the laugh, you brought back some good memories.


07/25 Daschle Implications:

Think about this everyone! Here we have a Senate Majority Leader and a Democrat on charge to run a road block for appeals and litigation, basically giving way to to federal land managers in his state to conduct business in a reasonable and responsible fashion.

The last administration with Democrat VP Gore at the helm almost brought conservation to its knee's. Lets look at this, conservation = wise use of resource (a republican stand point) and preservation = no use of resources (historically a democratic veiw point). The last administration created many new monuments with the end goal of preservation in mind.

Forest and rangeland health depends on conservation practices to prevent large dangerous wildfires. This language is going to the president for signature. This clears the way for South Dakota. The balance of the remaining states can then worked out in the near future! Someone should send Daschle a thankyou for setting the stage and tackling this issue.


07/25 Tom Daschle

I strongly encourage each of you reading this website to bring up and read the article mentioned in a 7/24 post from CI concerning Senator Tom Daschle. I hope it will piss off each of you as much as it did me. To think that this man, who is the majority leader of the Senate, would try to slide thru a rider hidden in a defense bill that exempts his home state from any and all environmental challenges to logging on federal lands is a travesty. In my opinion it is a slap in the face to every person in the remaining 49 states, every wildland firefighter that has to face down the "Dragon", and every homeowner that has lost or had a home threatened.

I hope it makes you angry enough that you will take the time to fire off a message to Daschle and your own politicians in the House and Senate. If this had been a republican (No, I am not a Republican) you can bet Daschle and his cronies would have been all over this one like stink on a turd!

Read the posting and get angry enough to fire off those e-mails folks and send the article to your local newspapers and television stations.


07/25 This is for the guys/gals who work in Southern California, mainly Los Padres NF.
Firehouse Magazine July 2002 Cover

You all made the front page...Congratulations!
07/24 hey ab,

so they are activating the military! ah, that takes me back to 2000...when i was sentenced to be an mcad (military crew advisor) 30 days later, and after wasting a perfectly good fire season, a few of us mcads came up with some stuff to make us laugh about our situation. ala. jeff foxworthy, we called it ...you just might be an mcad.

1. If your crew digs only 5 chains of practice line, and 0 chains of fire line, you just might be an mcad.
2. If you breathe more 2nd hand cig smoke than fire smoke, you just...
3. If you never hear the word "superior" after the word "mother" you just...
4. If your crew refers to their tool, pack and the hill as bitch, you just...
5. If your crew refers to push-ups, scissor kicks and front leaning rest as "gettin' smoked" you just...
6. If your SFC maxes out the 300 lb scale at helibase, you just...
7. If your same SFC uses his inhaler 12 times while ascending "casualty hill", you just...
8. If at every sit-down break a "spades" game breaks out, you just...
9. If you are referred to as "sir" the first two weeks of your assignment, you just...
10. If one of your crew members get severely beaten on his birthday, you just...
11. If the only smokes on your division are Marlborough, you just...
12. If your shift, minus briefing and travel is only 3 hrs, you just...
13. If your crew cold trails with their lips and nose, you just...
14. If your crew asks for a smoke break "in order to inflate their lungs" be for climbing a big hill, you just...
15. If you deploy 0 ft of hose, but pull and butterfly 10,000 ft, you just...
16. If your crew championship wrestles deep into the night at spike camp, you just...
17. If the same ff that had to get jungle penetrator sling medivaced is in the chow line before you, you just...
18. If you plumb a mile of hose in the same division you pull hose from the week before, you just...
19. If your IAP instructs you to patrol and mop up 18 days in a row, you just...
20. If your crew can perfectly impersonate, Eddie Murphy, Michael Jackson, and all rappers, you just...
21. If one of your crew members loses his bad feet profile because he was hip-hoppin' to karokee during R&R, you just...
22. If one of your crew members suffers dt's from a lack of "church's fried chicken" you just...
23. If the highlight of the day is learning how to play dominos, you just...
24. If the only bars your crew sees are "water", you just...

all in fun, but i did make lots of money. everyone should try it once!

07/24 Ab added some photos, new photo pages, and photo descriptions last night.

The Meat sent us a number of photos from his collection. We scanned them and put them on Fire 12, Helicopters 7, Helicopters 8, Crews 5 and Engines 5 photo pages. We hope to get more info on where and when these pics were taken when he returns from fire.

On AirTankers 5 we added some new pics of Tanker 123 on the ground and in the air - and one of T-14's new paint job. Thanks contributors for the memorial T-123 shots and the others. The loss of our airborne firefighting brothers is still difficult. The Forest Service is having a memorial service for the crew of T-123 at the Jeffco Airport tanker base at 9 AM on July 24.

Also just added some excellent pictures of the Buck Rock Lookout on the Sequoia National Forest, pics of the interior, the views and the "perch", compliments of Bob-K. Thanks. Put 'em on the Misc 2 photo page. Those gals and guys keep us safe.

Wildland Firefighter Job Series 0462 and Series 0455 Pages are updated. No new jobs on the Jobs Page.

07/24 Hi Ab,

In mid May 2002 the Bullock fire started a blaze that made it to over 30,000 acres. I operate a small
water company in the area threatened by this fire. I was hired by the Forest Service to supply water
from my system. Our small village was evacuated for a two week period. Our Fire Department and
support crews were able to stay and help battle the fire. The Type One team was able to stop the
advancement of the fire at the Mt. Lemmon Highway and saved the village along with several
summer home areas. We are spared the loss of personal property through their work.

I was not sure if your organization was interested but I attached a photo and a poem titled "Bullock
Lessons." Please feel free to use these if you want. Thank You, for the great web site.

Michael S

Here's Michael's poem. I added his Bullock Fire photo to the Fire 12 photo page. Thanks. Ab.
07/24 Found the following in the Boulder paper this morning. "New slurry bomber flight path sought"



07/24 Brutus, a couple of points:

1."As for the government paying for the accumulated years of a seasonal's retirement deductions, pay it your self, I did!" Last time I checked if you are CSRS you don't have to pay for it, if you are FERS you can only pay back time for seasonal employment prior to 1989. That eliminates the folks we are talking about current seasonal who are trying to meet the MEA.
2.Bush proposed allowing investment of up to 18% of Social Security in the market, not all of it. I would rather be able to make that decision for myself.

firewhirl, what were you doing from ages 18-34?

07/24 If anyone knows of ANY qualified aviation personnel
who are available for a fire assignment, have them
call their local dispatch office or (208)387-5968.

There seems to be a good crop of helicopter crew
members already and more crewmember trainees than

A couple of days ago NICC had open orders for 4 AOBD,
13 ASGS, 21 ATGS, 86 HCWN, and 166 HECM's.


Also the National MOB guide says that with the
approval of the resource and their home unit they can
have days off and stay another week, or at PL 5 they
can do 2 weeks have days off and then do another 2
weeks. There is a documentation process that must be
followed to do anything over 14 days. I suggest that
folks get and read a copy of the National MOB Guide
and their GACC MOB guide.
07/24 finally, a medal for those moppers


and Uh Oh,

Ancient sequoias threatened by fire -- Blaze in southern Sierra out of control


More articles on the FireNews page. The ones that Firescribe contributes usually do not show up on that page. If you haven't visited that page, it takes about 20 seconds for Moreover to search the net on our keywords each time the page loads. Ab.

07/24 "Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle quietly slipped into a spending bill
language exempting his home state of South Dakota from environmental
regulations and lawsuits, in order to allow logging in an effort to prevent
forest fires.

The move discovered yesterday by fellow lawmakers..."

The whole article can be read here:

Daschle seeks environmental exemption for his state



God protect me from those who feel they need to protect me from myself.

That would be my "stupid" idea you are talking about. We are not talking about "wannabes" with no experience or ability to think for themselves . These are mature adults with a minimum required number of seasons experience and a needed skill. By age 37 no one should need "big brother" protecting you from yourself.

I agree that we don't need a "geriatric" workforce. We also don't need a workforce composed of "young" folks just working to get enough experience to find a better job elsewhere. We need a workforce composed of "young vigorous" firefighters who are paid well enough to stick with the job till they get old and "old experienced" firefighters who know that more fires are extinguished by folks using their heads than folks using their backs. Right now we are having trouble attracting (and hanging on to) enough of the first group to even replace the folks in the second that are retiring. And the firefighting force needs to grow substantially in the next decade.

Similarly there is the safety issue of having enough experienced folks on the line to say "time to run for the black" so we have fewer inexperienced firefighters saying "OH S**T...TIME TO POP MY SHELTER".

Considering that wildfire is projected to continue to be a growing problem for the foreseeable future we need a counter force that is growing proportionately. That is not the case currently. In fact many of the available "young and vigorous" cannot be put on the line due to the current shortage of overhead (read as: "old and experienced"). This bottleneck not only cripples the country's ability to suppress wildfires SAFELY, it affects the yearly income of "young and vigorous" firefighters. This is not a case of "if the old guys work the young will not"...it is more like "if there are not enough old guys available, the young sit on the sidelines and watch" collecting dust rather than paychecks.


07/24 www.forest.nsw.gov.au/currentaffairs/releases/230702.asp

Australian firefighters to help battle US wildfires
23 July, 2002

A senior firefighter from State Forests of NSW will today fly to the USA to determine how Australian firefighters can help to battle forest wildfires sweeping across 12 western American states, the NSW Minister for Forestry, Kim Yeadon, today said.

"For the second time in three years western USA is in the grip of major wildfire emergency and American fire authorities are asking Australia and New Zealand for help," Mr Yeadon said.

"Already, almost 1.5 million hectares of land across a dozen states has been ravaged by wildfire and local firefighters are currently battling more than 50 major fires.

"At this stage in the US fire season the total area of forest burnt is well up on the same time in the 2000 fire emergency which was regarded then as the worst in the USA for fifty years.

"Across much of the western USA the combination of drought conditions, expected hot, dry weather and high forest fuel loads make most forested areas vulnerable to rapid fire growth and extreme fire behaviour.

"In response to a request for assistance through Australia's National Forest Fire Management Group, State Forests fire manager, Mr Paul de Mar, is now on his way to the US National Interagency Fire Centre in Boise, Idaho.

"He will be working with US fire authorities to determine how Australia can most effectively contribute to the fire fighting effort and relieve exhausted local firefighters.

"We expect this will again involve sending a contingent of specialist Australian and New Zealand fire fighters including aircraft managers, incident controllers and field commanders with extensive experience in managing large, complex forest fires."

Mr Yeadon said that during the last major US wildfire emergency in 2000 Paul de Mar was one of nine expert firefighters sent to the USA from State Forests and the NSW Rural Fire Service. He was also team leader of the 96 member Australian fire fighting contingent.

"This time he will be the Australian liaison officer on the US National Multi-agency Command Group and will oversee the induction and deployment of the Australian firefighters when they arrive in the USA," Mr Yeadon said.

Daily Telegraph and SMH have news release also.


07/24 Ab-

I'm new to your site - my IC just turned me on to it last week. Very impressive, and thanks for doing it. I got the August National Geographic with an article about Russian smokejumpers today. I was not aware that they were the first to use smokejumpers. Here's a couple of quotes from the article that people might be interested in:

"Last year Avialesookhrana celebrated the 70th anniversary of its first flight. (It would have been the 75th anniversary, but when the first plane took off from Leningrad in 1926 to look for fires, the pilot made a beeline for Estonia and defected.)"

"After quickly turning a sapling into a shovel handle, one firefighter attacks with sand while another beats the flame with birch branches. If smoke jumpers kill a fire quickly, it adds a bonus to their monthly hundred dollar pay."

"Jumping is the thrill that gets them hooked. 'Two minutes fly like eagle, three days dig like mole,' Valeriy says of the smokejumper's life."

"Where there's a fire, there's a smoke. Asked whether he would rather run out of food or tobacco, one smokejumper says, 'You can catch fish in the river, but cigarettes?'"

There's more at nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0208.
Thanks again.

07/24 G'day Abs,

just to put up some links. The site for the A-10 conversions are http://www.firehogs.com. One
source of new airtankers that seems to be overlooked is the Russians, who have their fair share
(albeit unreported) of wildfires. Some interesting aircraft at http://www.beriev.com/aircraft/aircraft.phpl.

As a non-pilot, but an avid warbird enthusiast, one point that bothers me about the aircraft
used is the type of work many of the aircraft were originally designed as airtrucks - carry
loads on the straight and level or maritime surveillance - not do the type of air-ground
pounding they end up doing as airtankers. I'm not sure what level of structural beefing up the
aircraft get in the conversion but the original design specs wouldn't've considered what
they're now being used for.

Here's hoping that as more money is directed towards wildland firefighting that there will be
funds made available to improve the tanker fleet & those still flying do so safely.


If anyone wants to discuss the Russian alternatives, please go to the AAP board. We've had enough of that topic on this site. Ab.
07/24 Work Rest Ratio

Ivans girl:
See my posting from 7-21. It's a two to one work rest ratio not just 16 hours of work to 8 rest. Also I believe there are still provisions to have 2 days off in 21 days. Supervisors should manage this. If there crew returns from a 14 day assignment there supervisor may give them two or three days off on R and R if he feels they need it. Most places are dam* strict on this after last years events in Washington because FMOs and Fire staffs will be held accountable.

07/23 hey all,

been a while since i have posted on here. i believe that we fire fighters are the most well trained fire fighters in the world. we are well funded ( on a whole ) good equipment, and believe it or not, paid better then most countries. and in spite of all of this we still kill fire fighters. i believe that i am well trained. i try to do my damnest to stay as safe as i can. but i also realize that i have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. no matter how much we train, no matter how good the equipment is, no matter how good the personnel are around us, things happen.

we push ourselves for the greater good. its our nature. we enjoy the job we do. yes, there are some cases where things can be avoided and we try hard to avoid them. but things still happen to us. all we can do is our best. nothing more, nothing less. we can point the fingers at contract companies, complain that we work too long of hours. bad tactics and everything else we point the finger at. but when a tree falls on a brother or sister fire fighter, who do we blame?

instead of looking for blame for all the deaths that have happened in the fire world, lets look a little bit closer at how we fight fire. we follow lces, 10 and 18 and everything else. we need to continue to do that but lets stop pointing the finger and look a little closer at ourselves.

BC Davis

i lost 3 friends to fire this month and no one pointed the finger. it was refreshing to know that they died doing the same thing everyone else would do.

07/23 I am a R2 Prevention Specialist and I am looking for any prevention resources that I may have overlooked or that I may not know about.

With all of the brainpower and creativeness of the "They Said" group, I'm sure I'll get some great resources.

Some precip here in the Hayman territory, but the weather is calling for more hotter and drier weather this week.

Keep your heads up, your eyes open, and your radio scanning.

Prevention Buff - alo

07/23 Update on CA fire:

Fire Threatens Southern California Sequoias

07/23 Dear Ab,

I am curious about the BLM's policies regarding ample R&R for our exhausted and over-worked "Forestry Technicians." (Also amazed that by calling them seasonal "Forestry Technicians" the gov. can avoid providing many much needed benefits.) I keep reading about all of these fire fighters that are anxious to get out and fight fire, that are waiting for a call, and it seems that some that I know out on the line are not getting their required day(s) off.

I was under the impression that while in the lower 48, the policy is 14 days on to one day off, 16 hrs of work to 8 hours rest. I am also told that travel time is not considered time off, as the rest in the back of a van or waiting for a plane is not restful at all. Is this correct? And if so, than why has this been thrown out the window for some Type I crews this horrendous season. I am aware of one crew in particular that may have been worked over 40 days without a proper day of rest.

In a time when we are made painfully aware of safety concerns, and the loss of some of our beloved and courageous fire fighters, is the safety concern of fatigue being ignored?

Three weeks of exhaustion, let alone nearly 5 or 6 weeks, I'm sure has adverse affects on judgment, not to mention risk of injury when bodies far surpass their physical limits.

This frightens me. I worry that those higher up are risking the lives of our loved ones.
Please, what are the policies regarding rest, and are they truly enforced?


07/23 Does anyone know if there is a website I can download s-212 powersaw
training materials from such as Power Point presentations. I'm helping put on the
course and would like to find some new material for it. Thanks

07/23 Hey Ab,

Point taken. I well know what those positions are, as I've had plenty of time to study and restudy the Fireline Handbook while waiting to be called- and I did score 100% on my tests. Please don't hold my newbie status against me, even you were on your first fire one time. Seems like everyone who posts here has a million-odd years of experience or is family of someone who does. The object of my postings to "They Said" is only to represent the view of a newbie which you must know contains a certain amount of frustration. I only want to occassionally remind the experienced and overhead people that we are out here, and that everyone was where we are now at one time, and hopefully provide a few laughs too. Plainly there is a shortage of experienced overhead, for a myriad of reasons. But don't forget that the newbies will one day (we hope) become the experienced overhead that we are sorely missing.


07/23 From Firescribe:

'Smokey Bear' Voice Gene Moss Dies at 75

07/23 Mobilize the army!

Mobilize the structural firefighters!

How about mobilizing people who are already trained and sitting on their *sses?

What a joke!

Hey whirly newbee, didja notice WHO is being requested? Ever hear of something called the ICS chain-of-command (in I-100 me'be?). They don't need FF1 right now. Have lots of those. They need firefighters with specific supervisory skills (to keep FF1 like you and the crews safe and fighting fire efficiently). They need Strike Team Leaders, Division Group Supervisors and Aviation trained personnel. Do you even know what these positions are? How about ICS? End of quiz... Ab.
07/23 Dear Ab:

Anyone interested in making a donation can do so by sending it directly to Milt's wife and daughter at:

Shannon Brumley - Stollak
P.O. Box 2412
Cathedral City, CA 92235

Or contacting Melanie at the tankerbase. Melanie (or the person who answers the phone 303-439-0332) has all the bank information. I do know that the account is set up at Union Bank of California branch #334, in the name of Shannon Brumley, Milt's wife. All donations will go to the costs of the memorial and the care of his wife and daughter.

Thank you,
07/23 I am Milt Stollak's sister in-law. His memorial service will be on Sunday, July 28 in his hometown of Cathedral City CA at the Palm Springs Mortuary Chapel. Anyone wanting to make a donation can do so by contacting Melanie at the tankerbase in CO, or contact me for the account information that has been set up for his wife and daughter. Also, Jeeny at Hawkins and Powers can help in directing the donations.

Thank you for all of your kind thoughts and prayers. We continue to pray for the men still on the job.


Thanks for the info SL and condolences on your loss. He was a good man. Could we get more details on the ways to donate? Ab.

07/23 Contractors are minuscule compared to the US Government and consider the threat of lawsuit much more seriously. A single wrongful death lawsuit can put even a large company out of business and bankrupt the owners. The sad fact is that if the contractors provided death benefits for the families of employees it would put those families in a better position to sue. From a business point of view it is not a good strategic move to provide death benefits. The Govt. does not have to worry about this as they cannot be "put out of business" and have deep pockets to drag out any suit till the plaintiffs run out of money to pay their legal teams. Still, they benefit from not requiring private contractors to provide the same benefits Govt. employees get...so they don't.

Aerial firefighting ,whether using fixed wing or rotary, is a very expensive and dangerous endeavor. The cost of insuring pilots who fly these missions is also very expensive...but no more so than everything else involved. The decision to not insure their pilots is a simple strategic business move to encourage any potential plaintiff (and their attorneys) to settle out of court. None of this is new info to pilots. They (unlike new groundpounder recruits) know the inherent danger of what they are doing. They "choose" to accept the fact that if they are killed doing their job their families may be screwed. I know this sounds harsh...harsher than I want it to. I grieve for those firefighters killed whether they fight on the ground or from the air. But pilots can mot simply take a few safty courses and be put "on the line". Before you can get the opporunity to pilot an airtanker you have years of experience and ample opportunity to know what you are getting into.

I am a pilot, but not a commercial pilot. You could not pay me enough to fly a plane I did not trust completely. This is an attitude shared by nearly every other pilot. We check out our craft prior to each first flight of the day as thoroughly as we can but we still have to trust our employers to provide aircraft that are not inherently defective. Very good records must be kept on the inspections and maintenance of all aircraft...more so for any commercial aircraft such as airtankers. The FAA and NTSB will go over these records with a fine tooth comb during the mandatory investigation of aircraft crashes. If these records show that the employer cut corners they are going to have a very difficult time staying in business. They can expect some heavy consequences from the FAA. They can expect wrongful death lawsuits. They can expect to find it more difficult to get pilots to climb into their aircraft. There is much more unanimity among pilots than groundpounders...it is a smaller group. Bad contractors can't find good pilots. I wish it were the same for those who fight fire on the dirt.

I agree that we need an airframe designed specifically for the mission. Canada has done that...why can't we? I don't see why the Feds can't have their own fleet as well. Several states have done that. There exist several solutions to the problem...but I think as long as the govt. can find contractors who can find pilots willing to risk their lives flying antique aircraft cobbled together with antique parts doing a mission they were never designed to do nothing will change. In the end pilots are in control of the situation. And the more of their colleagues that perish the more in control they are. Eventually the military may have to take over fixed wing air support for wildfire suppression. Of course the cost will at least triple then.

Maybe this another good reason our country should have a single wildfire suppression agency.


07/23 I am a structures specialist on TX-TF1 Urban Search and Rescue Team
(http://usar.tamu.edu/). We worked the WTC site the week after the attacks.
One thing that I was hoping to get a picture of was spray painted on the
east side of WFC, across from where the north tower pile was. It said "the
strength of the pack is in the wolf"
. It was quite inspiring at the time,
as we did much of our staging in that area. It took a photo of it but the
picture did not survive the week. If you have come across a photo of this,
please let me know. It was written in orange marking paint.

Thank you,

Ralph Castillo
Austin Fire Dept.
Structure Specialist
Texas Task Force 1, FEMA USAR

Ralph, The wildland fire teams that were at the WTC are all off fighting fires right now. Perhaps someone of them took a pic of that. If there are any others reading who have such a picture, would you please let Ralph know? Sounds like a good one to post on our WTC photo page, too, if someone were to send in such a picture. Here's to the wolves! Ab.

07/23 Several notes on the functioning of the R5 Fire web:

www.fire.r5.fs.fed.us = nope.
www.r5.fs.fed.us = and nope.


here's another:
Tahoe Terrie,
I get error messages on all the links at some time or other. I only check once every few days now. Used to be R5 had the best sit report information that could be had on the web. It has been gone-to-hell for months now. Are there a bunch of incompetents running the shop there?

Isn't there someone who can figure out what kind of change was made that screwed things up? Sometimes it works in the morning and that evening it doesn't or vice versa or not at all. More frustrating than getting a 404 message is this sometime-on-and-sometimes-off situation. What a cluster.

Tired of checking the R5 web, screw it!



The United States Fire Administration (USFA) in response to a request from the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC), announced today a call for assistance in mobilizing wildland certified (NWCG Red Card) structural firefighters from fire departments across the United States, with specific skills as Strike Team Leaders, Division Group Supervisors and Aviation trained personnel.

“Due to almost record wildland fire activity, we are calling upon the fire service for all firefighters with certification in wildland firefighting and these skills, who are available for a 14 day mobilization,” said USFA Administrator R. David Paulison. “Those firefighters who are certified should contact, with their department’s approval, the nearest Geographic Area Coordination Center.”

If your state has an existing notification and response procedure (e.g. California), fire service personnel should comply with those protocols. Fire personnel in states without notification protocols should contact the Geographic Area Coordination Center nearest you. (List Attached)

As of this morning, 3,578,774 acres have burned. Over 1405 structures have been lost, and evacuations are still a reality for many people. Resources for wildland fires are depleted, and there is still officially 2 months remaining in the 2002 wildland fire season.

The Geographic Area Coordination Center (GADC) are listed for you. The USFA has been asked to assist the NMAC. For specific answers to your questions resulting from this request, you should contact the GADC nearest you.

Click GACCs INFO for snail-mail addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addys. Ab.

07/23 More about the chopper crash in this link from Firescribe. There was a critical injury. The other person is in fair condition:


More FROM Firescribe and Red Army Wife:

07/23 Don't want to jinx anything here, but the R5 north and south ops sites seem to be working - at least on my computer. Anyone still having trouble? My problems were so hit-and-miss, I'm just wondering if things really got worked out.

Tahoe Terrie

07/23 6,
Your post of 7/21 (Time to be blunt) hits the nail on the head. It is exactly
what I was alluding to...we do not need a geriatric workforce!

I would sure like to see where all of these so called "experienced" folks
past age 37 are that are supposedly going to save the FS from itself ?!!!!

07/23 FWFSA,

"The most fun and challenging experiences I have had are with the USFS." Right on Bro, I will back you up on that one. Wildland Firefighting is about as good as it gets. Only problem I had with it was the lack of support from the govt. and the managers that were too afraid to surround themselves with the quality firefighters.

"I don't think any firefighter is in the JOB for the money or the benefits.... " Yes and no. I did it because I loved the job. If I was single and didn't have a family to support you bet I would still be on the line. The problems that I ran into was I would spent 6 to 8 months a year away from my family "doing my job" and they would be left to tow the line. I knew it was time to leave when my Daughter called the guard station, that I was the station manager of, my house. By the time she 36 months old, I was gone for at least 20 0f them. In the end family comes first. Money and benefits are what it takes to make these days. If the pay equaled the amount of effort and sacrifice that Wildland Firefighters make every season then I think more people would stay in for the long haul.

I miss the time out with the overhead team that I was on. I miss the satisfaction of working with the crews and being a part of a team. But getting to know my Daughter overshadows anything I did on fires. She could care less that I spent most of my time in a helicopter or making plans for some division on a fire that is making national news. She only knows that her Dad now has the time to color and play barbie's with her 4 days a week, every week. For me that made leaving my dream job easy.


07/23 well, i've certainly picked an interesting time to get into wildland firefighting.

since i'm a complete maniac skier, i should have done this years ago. *sigh*

(34 now.....37 years? i better work my *ss off for the next three seasons for that permanent position!)

maybe some of you old fire dogs would enjoy some naive observations from someone who is putting maximum effort into getting into the life. i've certainly been enjoying every posting to "They Said" for the last 4 months, so let me say thanks to all and especially to Ab (all the Abs that is!)

-many "newbies" are probably in the same situation i am. wondering, during one of the biggest seasons in history, why they aren't in the field yet. done the training (I-100, S-130, S-190, twice!) and pack tested. sending out 1 application every day, it's been at least 20 apps now, and at least 80 emails. one reply so far: a postcard from the BLM in CA saying my application is being considered, that makes me :) at least i know someone's looking at it! i am on call for Grayback Forestry crew out of Missoula, MT, and am thankful that they have resumed operations after the horrible tragedy they suffered involving the van rollover en route to the Hayman Fire. i want to work for them and give my 110%, i was very impressed with their instructor, Rod Goss, he had a lot of good advice and had a knack for emphasizing safety issues so that you would remember them.

-which brings me to a "sore point" that maybe others have experienced: admitting that i started late, taking a private class from Blackbull Wildfire Services in April of this year from Richard Mangan (also an excellent instuctor who imparted some great advice and gave an excellent view on working for the USFS), i have had serious difficulty obtaining employment. i "freaked out" after Grayback Forestry announced they weren't sending out any crews, and called them to request my certification so that i could apply as a "qualified wildland firefighter" for available positions around the country. a receptionist told me she would mail me a document certifying that i had completed training and taken the pack test (arduous level)....this never happened. as the experienced people know, training and preparing yourself for a job like this is a serious undertaking, if you're at all serious about it, especially if you haven't done it in the past. in fact, just getting someone to give you the pack test (if you are not yet employed) is a major task anymore. after training without pay and preparing for and taking the pack test, i couldn't belive that i couldn't get a simple certification that i had done so. that's a rough one.

-i'm really into WWII history, when i first came to Missoula 6 years ago, i couldn't believe that the retardant bombers that fly out of here are actually B-26 Marauders! enough on that subject considering recent events.

-well, how wild can things get? the U.S. is drier than it has been in a while, and words are flying concerning how everything has been managed over the last century.

-one interesting point that no one seems to bring up except on the down-low, because maybe they're afraid of it: if you want a federal firefighting job you'll have to surrender your bodily fluids to a lab whose accuracy on your drug test is extremely questionable. and everyone is wondering where the experienced people have gone, LOL! seriously now: even in my limited experience with people who fight wildland fires, this is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

-unfortunately the world situation isn't conducive to peace and it's gonna take some serious money to reassure the American people that a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon isn't going to be detonated in their backyard....so even though it's a big, big year, wildfire is taking the backseat. many postings have discussed funds for fighting wildfires and especially benefits for wildland firefighters, but let's face it folks: the public only wants to spend money when the flames are scorching their homes and they're screaming "how could this happen here!?" we've all seen it, i've personally seen it, and even recently read it right on this page, so accept it. it's typical, but what's to be done? people want to live in the mountains, and many of them are too lazy to make their homes safer for wildland firefighers to defend.

-direct effect of the above situation: all you hear is "we don't have the resources", "we're short on resources", "it's the biggest fire in the state's history" on the news. meanwhile people are carrying their pagers who are trained, equipped and ready with their packs sitting by the door..... for a couple of months. go figure.

bitching? maybe. ready to fight fire? certainly. looking to stimulate some minds? without a doubt.


07/23 Some one in a recent message to the board said something like, "if a
person is over the MEA of 35, let them sign an agreement to accept a
reduced rate of retirement according to some undetermined ratio of how far
they are beyond the MEA.

I haven't heard anything as stupid since President Bush said when he
was running it should be up to each American social security recipient
to determine where their future retirement savings are invested and that
they should have the option of individually investing in the stock
market. With the thought I may be insulting a few, I state that the
average American depending on Social Security for their retirement does
NOT need the option of wagering their pensions on the stock market!

My point is that some people are unable to tell what is good for
them now vs. the future, they must be protected from themselves. The
current policies provide for this protection. Offering a reduced
annuity will only put a load on future taxpayers as the current wannbes
who now think they can survive on a reduced pension determine they
cannot and try to sue the courts in the future to recover enhanced

I'm sure there are some who warrant special consideration, but I'll
support the policy as it has been written and recently amended for those
up to 37 years of age.

As for the government paying for the accumulated years of a
seasonal's retirement deductions, pay it your self, I did! When you
stand on the bridge and try to decide if you want to jump in , be aware
of the depth and current of the waters you see.

0723 Abs,

Here is a very interesting letter to the editor of the local daily newspaper in Staunton, Va, which serves the area of the Augusta IHC's (USFS) home district. The paper is the The News Leader and can be found at www.newsleader.com This letter to the editor was printed in the Sunday, July 21, 2002 edition. I wanted to send you a link to the online version, but it has already been taken offline. This is the body of the letter, used with permission:

Firefighter's Time Could Be Better Used

As a taxpayer, I would like for someone to explain to me why the Augusta Hotshots are put on unemployment status for two straight months in the summer when forest fires are at their worst? The government had to spend money to get firefighters from other states sent here to our area to work our local fires at a great deal of cost, considering airfare, food, lodging, etc. This makes no sense, considering that Virginia's own firefighting team is laid off.

I realize the employees must surely need a rest, but two months seems a bit excessive. If they need more time off, why not take it in the winter, when there are no fires anywhere in the country? I have heard many reports of how the firefighters in the western region were so overworked from the enormous fires and had to turn to the military for relief. One would think that the Forest Service could manage their highly trained and valued firefighter's time more effectively by using them when they are needed the most and where they are needed the most. I hope after what we have seen in the past few months that the Forest Service will rethink how they use their resources - and most importantly our tax dollars. This is akin to ordinary citizens flying across country to buy groceries.

If we ran our homes the way our federal government spends money, we would all be bankrupt. A little common sense could really go a long way.

Evelyn W
Lovingston, Va

Used with the permission of the Staunton News Leader, Copyright 2002.

The Augusta Hotshots formed in June of 2001 and work a split 18 and 8 schedule. The 18 pay periods are roughly split into a 8 pay period spring season and a 10 period fall season. This is done to allow the Augusta Shots to service the 2 Eastern fire seasons usually running from early February to early May and from early/mid-October to late November. During June & July the crew is laid off, including the permanent 18 & 8 employees (all but 2 or 3 positions on the 20 person crew). The crew is laid off again in December and January. Most of the overhead remain on for the majority of each layoff period.

During the layoff period this summer, the immediate area in and around the Augusta IHC home district experienced many fires including several large fires in Shenandoah National Park. Crews from across the nation were brought in to this area of Virginia, as the Hayman fire burned in Colorado.


07/23 Re the AT thread:

Why doesn't somebody find out the cost of a new C-130 and add 25% to that
cost for the modifications necessary to make it into an air tanker and then
multiply that times 50 to get the cost of a new airtanker fleet? That would
probably make it fairly clear why we fly old airplanes. Second, did you
ever notice that the military loses airplanes on a rather regular basis in
spite of "superior" maintenance? In fact, it might be interesting to ask how
many C5's and C130 aircraft the military has lost in the last 10 years. I
think we have lost 2 in Afghanistan. How many helicopters? Intelligent
questions might provide superior insights to shots fired in the heat of


07/22 A recon chopper in So Oregon had a "Hard Landing" today at noon on a fire out of Trail. The pilot and copilot were airlifted to Medford, OR hospitals with orthopedic injuries. One is said to be critical now. Prayers go out to these men and their families. Be safe.

We are being pounded by lightning and everyone needs to be careful in the coming days.
Red Army Wife

07/22 I have been meaning to write in with this link to NWSA and to the names of those who died in the Grayback Forestry rollover. We are all sorry for this tragedy. Lives lost... Please be safe.

Got some spattering of rain in norcal this afternoon, but more like thunder cells moving through. We do not need more lightning! Things are VERY dry.

Re Firescribe's link: I hope this year we meet and surpass some "critical mass" in awareness of the need for fuel reduction associated with the National Fire Plan. Nothing like lots of interface burning to get homeowners thinking that a little brush disposal followed by Rx burn would be a better alternative than homes burning up in fire season. Good link, Firescribe!


PS to BLM Bob: You're right on most of those fires not being "indirect attack". I was thinking "direct" and then everything else. Guess I was equating unburned green between the firefighter and the fire with "working indirect". I can see that was a gross generalization on my part: although going indirect involves having unburned fuels between you and the fire, so do many other scenarios. (Thanks to the other new guy who wrote in to clarify that tactics do not vary by agency... I hoped that was not the case.)

PS to JW. Do you know where I can find the info on the Rattlesnake Fire? Point me in the right direction and I'd appreciate it. (Bet Ab would cut it and paste and pass it on.) BTW, good comments on the aerial firefighting program. Having good info is what this site is all about.

Pulaski is also looking for info on the Rattlesnake. Ab.

07/22 Ok I need a little help. I am a wildland fire fighter. Here is what I need: I
am looking for a job. I am about 45 minutes from the Deer Point fire here in
Chelan Washington. I am Engine boss Qualified. I am out to make money
and would like to stay in Washington state. SO if you all need help let me
know.. my email is fightfire75@hotmail.com. Email me with an address
and Phone number so we can talk.. Thanks ab. I also looked at the 462
and 455 job link.

Fight Fire

Remember that those interested and needing a job can go to the Classifieds Page and list themselves with the Fire Jobs Connection under employment. Then employers can go and see who is available. In coming days, carded firefighters will be needed. Ab.

07/22 moc4546

As someone who works alot with contractors here is what I have to say,

wake up things have changed and there wont ever be the good ol boy days of yesteryear when we actually had to get things acomplished again. Everyone in procurement knows that it takes the FS almost twice as long to do anything nowadays in this warm fuzzy circus as it used to and it is not do to number of employees it is lack of motivation and motivators. Most of these people have since retired or bailed out, now we're slapping crews together with trained but not very experienced personell and promoting people that shouldn't even be in fire. I feel the frustration from some of the older guys but I have always been told to find a way to win. I have been told more than once that contractors are here to stay and that it would be better to help rid ourselves of bad contractors by holding them accountable to their contract, aviation or whatever. All the good contractors I know take good care of their permanents and pay the FF's more than we do. I know there is not near the problem in R-5 as there is in R-6 with contractual accountability, (I know that'll p-off some but it's true, been there done that, left confused.)

It would be alot better for us to get behind the good contractors, not be afraid to rid ourselves of firechasers or slackers and work this new deal to the benefit of all. You sound by your isolationist attitude about fire you would be better suited with CDF. Dont forget, Each one of those inmates cost 50-60k a year, doesnt sound too cheap to me. I know by the way I sound I should work for a contractor and believe me, if the knees could, maybe I would. But I know this will work, fill our holes with good, able contractors, hold there feet to the fire and get sh*t done again.


07/22 Here are two Safety Alerts out in conjunction with the rollover of the Greyback Van.


07/22 AB;

To answer JL's question, there are no nationwide standards for STPS in the
National System, (PMS 310-1). Ideally, the candidate should be DIVS
qualified on the wildland side and wear the Capt or Bat Chief brass on the
structure side of the house. At a minimum, he or she should be TFLD
qualified on the wildland side and serve as an officer of the department. I
serve on a regional training working team that gets hammered on this
question all the time. I understand the NWCG is working on this very
question on national level and may set 310-1 standards for STPS in the
future. Hope this helps.

07/22 Re the article Firescribe linked to and the woman quoted:

Interesting concept. "tell me where I can build"..
That lady should get a clue... I can't ever remember a public lands manager dictating over private lands - where and how to build!

No one remembers "what can happen" when things are cozy, but "when hell rains" then no one forgets. Public fire education and awareness is not a new concept, it has been in place for how long? Since Smokey the Bear maybe!

What I do remember are the times that I've spoken to home owners that have returned to find their homes lost or saved. For example the Chedeski threatened many homes in Arizona, the heavy iron along with many went into direct attack against the fire... Even to the extent that the battle was being raged in peoples front yards because of simple fact that forests are met with front porch steps. New dimensions to herd-n cats (dozer bossing) are added when you construct line between the outhouse and porch! People that had their homes saved were very thankful.

Bottom line is that landscaping can be replaced, family hand-me-downs can not! At some point in time, hopefully in the not to distant future, the concept of fire proofing urbanized areas will be practiced by all land and home owners. Education and awareness will then be a success! Until then, we will come to the local area of that lady and others at any time of need. (Hopefully she will get a clue.)

OK now I can get off of my soapbox.

07/22 From Firescribe,

Here's a good one:
Fires rekindle forest management debate

As a U.S. Forest Service official briefed homeowners about a wildfire threatening hundreds of homes, a woman yelled from the bleachers:

"Don't tell me not to build a home in the mountains! I don't want to hear that."
and another:
Technology aids firefighters
07/22 pgc and Fedfire:

Isn't anyone else left? Are all of my old friends gone? I thought you were
all just busy fighting fires......

Is everyone leaving the USFS and USDI for pay and benefits? I've worked for
the feds since the early 80's (USDI BLM, USDA - FS, and believe it or not...
even US DoD - USAF) and have to make this clear.... The most fun and
challenging experiences I have had are with the USFS. I don't think any
firefighter is in the JOB for the money or the benefits.... They WILL NEVER
equal the private or cooperators even though we may hope.

They are in the JOB for the CAREER.

I'd hope that folks that really enjoy being wildland firefighters are
speaking out on why they can't stay. Maybe with their help, those of us left
behind will have better careers.

For those of us Federal (Wildland) Folks that are left hauling the long
line... there is a group working towards making things better... The Federal
Wildland Fire Service Association. Ab has been keeping a link up for us (the
Federal Wildland Firefighters - FWFSA - IAFF Local F262) for quite a long
time (thanks Ab for your years of continued support!!!) ... If you are a
Federal Wildland Firefighter, now's the time... Join in... contact your
local Chapter Rep... or just say HI.

FWFSA is working towards portal to portal pay, hazard pay inclusion towards
retirement, and proper classification of wildland firefighters as
FIREFIGHTERS under the federal system. You'd be amazed at the benefits you
are missing as a "wildland" firefighter.


p.s. - check out the latest updates on fwfsa.org

Hear, hear. Ab.
07/22 Ab,

I am trying to find someone to tell me what I need to do to become a STPS. I work for the State of Montana's DNRC as a Engine Boss, as a ITC4, I think that I have most of what I need to Qualify. I have 28 years as a structural fire fighter, with 30 + college credits that will cover a lot of the requirements. If you could steer me in the right direction I would be very thankful. I like your web site.


07/22 An-R5er,
I am replying to your statement "We have to talk." regarding contractors vs. govt. firefighters. Ab chided me with my original post regarding the two H&P airtanker crashes that my statement was trying to fix blame on H&P for the crash. The discussion transgressed from there because other factors came into play.

Let me state it very clear: A Firefighter is a Firefighter, be it the US Forest Service or Acme Private Wildfire Control. You die in the line of duty, then your family should be adequately compensated by the employer. Structural Firefighters in government service receive around $100,000 or more in death benefits through various programs government and private foundation wise. Wildland firefighters get lesser awards because they are "Forestry/Range Technicians" and get very little in compensation if they die in the line of duty in comparison.

I believe that the Government should not have to foot the bill for a private contractor's death, but they could pass legislation to mandate the contractor to provide a reasonable death benefit insurance package similar to what a government firefighter would get. The only problem is the contractor will have an impossible time finding an insurance career who would provide such a policy, and if he did find one I'm sure the premiums would be outrageously high.

I hate the fact that CDF and other government firefighting agencies have contractors piloting their aircraft and not government employees. I can go and talk to these pilots and say "Hey, dude. Don't work for CDF as a pilot because you don't get any benefits and no permanent employment." His reply will be "I have to support myself and my family, and piloting jobs are hard to come by that pay well". They could find a way to make it happen if they wanted to, but if the government were given half the chance, they would contract everything out if it "looked" like they could save money. If the states and locals would accept military service time toward state employee retirement maybe we would have a dedicated pilot program.

Between you and me and the rest of the world, I never have liked the idea of contracting out anything that is Fire Related other than non-hazardous support function such as caterers, shower units, etc. . Contracting out is the way the government gets out of having more permanent employees with benefits. The reality is the contractor's workers get paid a modest salary with little or no benefits, but the contractor reaps the rewards. You have the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer. The government spends almost as much or more money on a privatized contract as if they did the jobs with government workers. For the cost/benefit of the worker it would be better to have government employees.

I know people who work for several contractors now because they couldn't get a permanent appointment with an agency, they got sick of the Agency B.S., they retired but were still able to stay in the game, etc. . These people work hard for what they get and many of them work as hard as a government firefighter. They do this because they love it, but given half a chance they would go to work for the government.

How many people do you know around the country right now who have been out of work for many months would be happy to get a just-above minimum wage job? I'm not putting down contractors because many of them provide a great service, some better than the government could provide short of providing these same services with prison workers who don't have to be paid. Did you know there was once an idea floating around in the early 1990's that CDF would replace all the paid seasonal firefighters on the engines and helicopters with inmate firefighters because it would be "cheaper"? Thankfully, someone came to their senses.

I once worked on the Plumas NF as a firefighter and saw an old fire staffing plan dating back to the 1970s for one of the PNF's 6 ranger districts. It showed each district with four or five stations, five engines, a 10-man handcrew, a helicopter, a dedicated dozer, a water tender, and the Forest's Shot Crew. Today, the entire Plumas NF Fire Resources has just a little more than that for the whole forest. The government has never replaced the levels of staffing or equipment we had back in the 1970's or even the 1980's. It is because of our government's "costcuting" that contractors have to be called.

My comment on "it lessens all of us when the comparisons (private vs. government) and the Monday Morning quarterbacking comments start from the Peanut Gallery" was referring to those airtanker crashes and the rumors and stories being flown by the media of substandard maintenance with nothing substantiated, and the comments by the firefighting industry based on what they saw by picture and video tape. It was also in referral to the comparisons being made by the media of contract pilots not being government firefighting personnel.

As to the Air Tanker issue: Yes, we need to use NEW Airframes Designed for firefighting.

What is the cost to re-outfit the nation's wildland airtanker fleet with newer aircraft?: Less money than the government on a B-1B and B-2 Bomber (That's about 1.3 Billion Dollars) or half of what what the military spends in one day.

Will we see brand new airtankers?: Not as long as the government continues to surplus out it older aircraft out of the boneyards of Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ for airtanker use (and believe me, if you have been there you would know that won't happen for a good 30 years with all the spare aircraft and parts they have down there. The contractor will keep pumping the surplus aircraft until there are none left to be had, and then they will tell the government "Sorry, were getting out of the firefighting business because its not cost efficient."

This whole thing started with one question that I want somebody to answer for my own knowledge:

When an airtanker contractor has two or more incidents in the same fire season, with similar causes (such as the wings breaking away), will NIFC or the Fire & Aviation Management Office suspend that company's operations and have all their firefighting aircraft grounded and inspected before resuming operation? This is for any Fixed Wing or Rotary Firefighting Aircraft contractor, not to single out H&P. So for instance, if <snip> AirCrane or <snip> Helicopters has two incidents in a row with the tail rotor falling off would they suspend that contractor until all their aircraft are inspected?

How about someone answering this question so we can put it to rest.

To An-R5er, contact AB and he can give you my email address.


Thanks for the clarification, MOC. Ab.

07/22 Dear AB:

I am Fernando Bermejo, the Badajoz (Spain) Fire Chief and the Manager of the International Contest of Videos on Fire, Videofuego. First of all I can apologize for my poor English, and I ask you excuse my mistakes. John suggested I write to you when I e-mail him in similar terms that you can read following.

As I said, I am the Manager of Videofuego, the only international contest of videos on fire and firefighters activities. This contest was founded by me in 1987 as one of the activities of the commemoration of the first Badajoz Fire Service Centenary as a Professional Brigade. Since then to 1998 Videofuego was year after year compiling international video-productions as one event sponsored by the Badajoz City Council and other institutions, mainly the regional government of Extremadura, one of the autonomous community of Spain, in that is the province and the city of Badajoz. The Badajoz Fire Brigade depends of the Badajoz City Council. Each year from 40 to 70 productions from many different countries have competed to win one of the Golden Firefighter Awards. Videofuego has also a International Photo Contest and, from last year a Contest of Multimedia Programs.

From 1998, for not clear reasons, the Badajoz City Council turn his back to Videofuego, in spite of its many years as an event with no cost to the city. As the City Council and the Regional Council are governed by opposed political parties, was a problem to me (inside of the Badajoz institution) appeal to the Regional Council asking their help. I have to avoid political problems. In these circumstances, I decided organize Videofuego as a non-official event. So, with the help of my son, I founded Videotraining, a firm specialized in training videos on emergencies in Spanish, with the objective (not the only one) of generate funds to organize Videofuego.

I was, and I am yet, in a crossroads. In the first stage of Videofuego it was one of the activities of my Service and therefore I use a part of the time I worked as Fire Chief in the organization of the contest. Now I have to use mainly my free time to it, to avoid any problem with the City Council. I hope this situation change in the future but I need to consolidate Videofuego as a non official event, as a private initiative, to avoid similar problems in the future. Videofuego is something so important that has to be able to walk alone year by year.

Regardless of many expenses I organize the contest in 1999, not in the 2000 (for first time from 1987), and in 2001. In this new stage we also eliminate the public show of the videos presented to the contest, to reduce costs, but I want to take back next year. Also to reduce costs, we eliminated the traditional mail and use only diffusion through e-mail and Internet. In this point is when I need the help of you of others who know well the way to reach many people who can be interested in Videofuego.

This is the help I can ask you. Could you help me in the diffusion of Videofuego? Could you suggest me how to improve the worldwide spreading of the contest through Internet? I need the help of someone who has a deep knowledge of Internet, the world of firefighting and being an English speaker.

You can find information on Videofuego in http://www.videofuego.com but you can ask me all you wish about it.

I hope you can help me, at least with your advices.
Best regards,
Fernando Bermejo

Fernando, I'm posting your e-mail so firefighters reading this site will know of your project. Perhaps there will be someone who will have suggestions for you. Organizing world-wide events is a daunting prospect, but more and more possible with help from the internet. Putting out the word is a good beginning. Any suggestions, Readers? We'll put you in touch with Fernando. Ab.

07/21 -Lazarus-

I think that we are in agreement. I was fortunate in that I got my career appointment in 1989 and the vast majority of my seasonal time can be counted for 6C retirement. I don't understand how seasonal time spent "in harms way" should not be counted in a career. And I don't think that people should be forced to "buy back" seasonal time, when the Government got that time at a heck of a deal compared to FERS cost to government. It would probably take an act of Congress, but that might be a cause worth taking up. (How many members of Congress would want to be on the record of voting against the "Wildland Firefighter Retirement Bill"?


07/21 Fedfire,

You brought some great points to light in your post. I just want to add my 2 cents too your thoughts and lay down some of my own.

The park service will try to form their own structure program because they don't fall under the DOD's umbrella. They could follow the course work (which follows the IFSTA manual) but they wouldn't be able to certify under the DOD. I can't speak for the Park Service but I would think that they could go through their local state fire academy to get their certs. (that is if the govt. will pay for the training)

In regards to the DOD's fire program: "I don't really see the Military as an answer either. Military Fire Departments are primarily staffed with civilian employees because the military personnel are not around long enough to gain the skills needed to do the job well (they get activated, transferred elsewhere or move on to civilian careers)." Although we are civilians now, 90% of our staff (at our station, and yes we are DOD) are ex military or federal firefighters that have transferred from other agencies. (BLM, FS, NPS)

Why would people want to transfer? How about a pay raise? My base salary is now $48,106.24 and that's before any overtime. I would've kept my GS-6 spot (26,000 a year) with my former employer if there was any incentive to stay. I put in 10 years with them and had a blast. But a glass eye in a goats a$$ can see that Wildland Firefighters don't get the support they need and deserve.

We have 48 years of combined Wildland experience between the five ex Wildland Firefighters now working for the DOD fire dept. here. Not bad considering that some strike teams of Wildland engines barely pass that mark. I know that comment will ruffle some feathers but the truth hurts sometimes.

When I started in Wildland we had a core group of 18 people. We all had the best training and were good at what we did. Today, 14 years later only 2 have stayed with the agency. 3 have gone on to structure crews and the rest have joined the real world working 40 hours a week.

That's my limited experience with the Wildland world. But I know that my story isn't unique. Think about all the good firefighters that the govt. has chased off over the years because they don't really care how they treat their people. Kind of sad but until Wild- land Firefighters get the backing they need, the program will continue to degrade.

I hope you all have a safe summer.

07/21 MOC4546, re the AT discussion.

I also ask: Why is up to the government to pay benefits if that's not the business agreement? Why isn't up to the company who they flew for to pay for their benefits? Why is it always up to the government to pay?

You say "it lessens all of us when the comparisons (private vs. government) and the Monday Morning quarterbacking comments start from the Peanut Gallery." I don't think it lessens anything when you talk about contract and federal employees. We need to talk. But instead of people being on the news and in this forum who always bash the government and blame it for everything, why don't you go after the company who employs these people as you first suggested? Why doesn't everyone write a letter to that employer and ask them why two of their aircraft have gone down this year?

I too FEEL BAD for the victims and their families about the recent accidents that have occurred. I also think Fire and Aviation should take a long look at the fleet of airtankers we currently have and ask themselves if it wise if we keep contracting for aircraft from W.W.II. But with the way contracting is set up now as mandated by Congress, it is not the government's fault or the government's responsibility to pay.

My prayers are with the families and all the fallen firefighters, pilots and contractors who have lost their lives this fire season. I know it has been said alot this year but, lets all keep our heads up and look out for one another this season.

Be safe everyone,

Some good points R5er. I felt those articles and videos that Kelly linked to (7/18) blamed the government, the USFS (some of us) unfairly for the planes that went down. It's easy for the media to point the finger at the govt, which absolves the pointer and their audience of taking individual action (like writing to congress) to make an informed change. Someone would do us a service if they would lay out all the issues and educate us.

It's hard to know what must be changed. Fighting fire from the air is an unforgiving endeavor with no room for problems or mistakes. Airtanker contracting is a complex system: politics, business, culture, etc are involved. Most of us don't understand how it works. We just know the planes are old and we hate to see crew dying at the rate of 3.4 per year (5 this year).

Just for balance to your comment regarding the company, here is a comment from one person who feels H&P does good work in their shops.


07/21 This one is getting posted a little late. Date says it was sent night before last. Got hung up somewhere... (The AirTanker standdown has ended.) Ab.

You know Airtankers are supposed to have wings: thats what makes them different from Tenders. Its bad enough when a Tanker goes down due to pilot error or a mechanical failure like losing an engine but two catastophic wing failures this close together? I've always heard pretty good things about H&P compared to some of the contractors and these stories are painting a pretty bad picture, makes me wonder about the ones with lesser reputations. So now the P2's are grounded with wing problems, the C130's are grounded after T130 went down last month and now the PB4Y2's are grounded, whats that leave S2s, P3s and the DC series? I love the sound of the recips going overhead but even I'm wondering about the age of these aircraft (yes, I know C130s are turboprops but they're still 40+ years old).

My thoughts are with the families, I'm getting tired of saying that as I assume are all of you, lets hope this is the last.

As to some of the other comments, I agree with the money issues, the government hasn't shown much interest in getting to the heart of the wildland problem, MEL was a start but reasonable salaries and a more permanent workforce seems to be beyond the understanding of those with the money (anyone in Congress read They Said), if they won't spend it for their own employees it looks pretty bleak for contractors. I guess safety is #1 as long as it doesn't cost too much.

As far as Tankers go, the current system has worked pretty well all these years but a purposefully designed Air Tanker really should be a priority; 50 year old hand me down aircraft designed for use in very different missions is not the way to go if safety is truly #1. With the exception of fighter aircraft I'm pretty sure no other aircraft get stressed like a tanker and I don't foresee the Navy kicking a few F18's loose any time soon. If you've never been inside a Tanker it is amazing how much wasted space there is inside, an aircraft designed from the start as an Air tanker could probably be 1/2 the size of current tankers with a resulting increase in maneuverability. Ejection seats for the pilots might even be an option (Cargo planes don't have them because in their mission it is unlikely they would ever be needed), they would probably be rarely used (no time) but if it could save a few... As far as funding, I'm pretty sure the entire development could be funded for the price of one B2 stealth bomber, were not talking high technology, just modern aircraft made for the job at hand. I don't see the contracts as much of a problem as the aircraft, I'm sure a workable private/public system could eventually be hammered out that would make most happy, perhaps something like CDF has with Government owned aircraft and contract pilots / ground crews.

Helitankers are not the answer either, its not like they don't crash too. A skycrane went down a few years back when the main rotor failed killing the crew and just in the past couple of years I remember at least two 212's crashing with fatalities. Most of the large helicopters out there are also getting on in years. Besides, Tankers and Helicopter serve different functions and have their own strengths and weaknesses. Taking away one of the tools away would just make it harder for those on the ground.

I don't really see the Military as an answer either. Military Fire Departments are primarily staffed with civilian employees because the military personnel are not around long enough to gain the skills needed to do the job well (they get activated, transferred elsewhere or move on to civilian careers). I think pilots would prove to be the same. Wure the military pilots could get the job done but not as well as somebody who is planning on flying fires for a career, so you're back to government or contract pilots although using the military for maintenance support might be a good idea.

FB1, I don't know why trained crash personnel are not used in helibases, tanker bases are generally set up at an airport so presumably they have real crash crews. It's kind of ironic really the Fed wildland agencies won't really support the idea of letting their firefighters get into structures but have no problem parking a crew in wildland gear with Type 3 Engine at a helibase for ARFF instead of an Amertech or P-19 with a trained crew in silvers, go figure.

On a slightly different note: did you know the Park Service is making up their own structural certificate system instead of jumping on board with the established DoD system? Must make sense to somebody.

Well I've rambled on enough for tonight, would have been nice to be a little more positive, an entrapment is not exactly a positive note to end on but at least there were no injuries.


07/21 Drew:

Many of us have been there. Flames and smoke everywhere and you are told to bed down in the sage brush next to a cow pond in the middle of no where in Eastern Oregon. This issue has just been brought up on my helitack crew. The best way to deal with the 2 to 1 is to manage your time well. It takes a lot more thought for those of us on IA resources then the crews working on a project fire. In your example you could have gone 24 hours since it was an IA then go home, or a city park or school gym and get a good 12 hours rest. Another way to do it is to have gone off the clock at 2400 instead of 0400. You would have only had to take 6 hours off to meet your 2 to 1 and could have slept when it was cool and dark and be back up when the burning picked up at sunrise. You don't have to be in your sleeping bag the whole time you're off the clock. Go for a walk, make coffee, read a book, just don't be on the line working and make sure your time reflects the 2 to 1.


07/21 Ab,

The aerial firefighting program is an interesting animal. The agencies aim for the lowest possible price for an airtanker contract by awards that keep as many bidders as possible in business so that there is “fair” competition. The avowed goal by management is an “all turbine, 3000 gallon” industry. Yet in this most recent contract cycle the number of 1,800-2,000 gallon DC-4s on contract nearly doubled (from 5 to 9). This by no means throws dirt on the DC-4, it is still a very good platform, especially with a constant flow tank. One company apparently was asking too much for their services, at least as determined by the agency contracting offices. So they received no awards. When they sued, they got four add-on contracts. Maybe they were trying to capture some R&D costs before they had a product, such as a turbine conversion on a P2V. There hasn’t been much visible venture capital interest in an industry that flies each aircraft 200-600 hours each year.

If you look at the contracts you’ll see that they average about $250,000 per aircraft in availability over the season. That must pretty much cover the basic overhead to put the aircraft and crew in service. To my knowledge, the contracts restrict the amount of profit to a “reasonable level” of about 15%. Contractors actually get told to adjust their bids to get their profits inside the decreed margin. Are CWN aircraft, crews, dozers, and helicopters constrained in the same way? I can’t answer that. But 10 days of Type 1 helicopter @4 hours minimum per day ($7,000 per hour) is more than the total availability cost of most 110-180 day fixed-wing airtanker contracts. Additionally, the Type 1 copters have private industry work for machines when they aren’t firefighting, or they go to Australia!

Airtankers are best used in initial attack and extended attack. Airtanker Captains are carded as IA qualified. That means they are reasonably able to understand what the ground wants (do we?), determine fire behavior, and take action. So, in order to save money, aircraft are held until a ground person, or a “responsible IC” (not necessarily at the incident) decides airtankers are needed and a Lead plane or air tactical aircraft arrive first for further assessment. Is this the best resource use?

In the Real Fast GBMF (Great Big Mighty Flying-machine?) airtanker concept, the airbases are pretty far apart. Once you have a fire escape IA the flow rates needed are, in my limited experience, in the 15,000-30,000 gallons per hour range (with copter support Rotorheads!). That is 6 to 12 drops per hour. That flow rate is hard to get with one-hour turn around times and few tankers assigned. To fly the CDF/USFS R-5 flag, the bases and aircraft mix between the agencies does a good job a high percentage of the time. If an agency is willing to give up acreage to fire, for whatever reason, using retardant sparingly (according to some cost/benefit computer model using unsubstantiated subjective value sets) can be ineffective and wasteful. One scenario from an Air Ops Branch Director class years ago was a 10,000 acre timber fire with one airtanker assigned having a one hour turn around. The student who answered "release it, it's a wasted resource" took some flak for his answer. Are we still thinking the same?

Aerial firefighters put themselves in precarious positions to help ground-pounders. If you think smoke is bad on the ground, at 140+ mph it is a solid wall. When you are in a situation where you think you need air support to advance or just hang on the pilots will respond to your call. You think about your crew safety, what position are you putting your aerial team member in?

Yes, it is time for a real review of the aerial firefighting program. All of us need to have our aerial brothers and sisters in the best possible aircraft and of a sufficient number to provide a realistic service. We also need to look at how we use all of our resources and to what end.


07/21 OK "Pilot"

Maybe I got suckered in the "firedog" scam, even Einstein (who many call a genius) was wrong once in a while too. But my point still stands there are some folks out there with ideas that may work, some of them may be well meaning crack pots and sometimes these half baked ideas work. I am not a pilot, most likely never will be, if you say it wouldn't work, it more than likely it will not work.
Enough said.

Now to the real reason for this post. I was watching the Discovery channel late last night and they had a program on planes of W.W.II. One of the pilots of the B-24 had a very interesting statement. He said on the "B-24's the gas line ran through the bomb bay, and if the fittings weren't just so then you tended to have an explosion in the bomb bay if there was a spark down there." Now, again, I am no pilot but just seeing this after this weeks air tanker tragedy makes we wonder. As Mr. Spock says if one uses logic and the evidence Captain....

Everyone stay safe, check out your equipment and use your heads and go home in one piece. God speed to all those who can't this fire season.

Just one more thing, Ab, all the Ab's out there, thanks for all the work you good folks do on the web site, keep up the good work.


07/21 6,

I agree with you on many of your points.
However there is one thing: "are now hit with the 37 MEA and are without career potential. I feel bad for them, but they knew the rules (or at least could have figured them out) when they went into the profession."

According to the personnel people that I talked to, If someone were trying to get an appointment now, the only temp/seasonal time that could be counted towards retirement is that which occurred prior to 1988. And that's only if the person filed it back in 88. I don't remember anybody from personnel making a point of that back in 88.

It's just another opm rule with no rhyme or reason. "There's no reason for it, It's just our policy"


07/21 Concerning the retirement age, time to be blunt.

I don't know of any firefighters who started their career at under age 25 who have not been able to get an appointment prior to age 37. I know of some who had an early mid-life crisis and changed careers in their 30s and are now hit with the 37 MEA and are without career potential. I feel bad for them, but they knew the rules (or at least could have figured them out) when they went into the profession.

If people were to be let in at a reduced (>20 years) then you would have 60 minutes, Dateline, etc. screaming bloody murder when it became time for these folks to retire. (Retired Federal Firefighter on Food Stamps!)

If you used the system that GGFire advocates, you would end up with geriatric firefighters waiting to finish their 20 years. I don't think that would increase safety.

My suggestion would be to have a law passed which would allow for seasonal time to be counted toward retirement, free of charge, with the government sucking up the cost. Seasonals are the closest thing that Uncle has to slave labor, and that increased cost would just be the price of doing business. If you add up all of your seasonal time and still can not meet the 37 MEA, Sierra Foxtrot Yankee.


07/20 Just thought I would share this picture taken 07-18-02 at 6:34 PM on the Deer Point Fire near Lake Chelan, WA. It was taken by a Canadian Bird Dog (that's a lead plane from Canada that takes the Tankers in for their drops). Eh? : ) I've been in dispatch talking to the Canadians too long -- eh? Don't get me wrong here --> WE LOVE THEM! It's a joy to work with such professional people.

The fire started from an abandoned campfire in an unimproved camp site near Deer Point Campground (located about 1/2 way up the lake on the North side of the lake). This morning it was at about 10,000 acres. As of 1730 07-20-02 it's reported at 16,900 acres. We've been using our friendly neighbors from the North (Canada) for 4 straight days. We have to jump through a lot of hoops to get approval to use them and with our resources so low in the states. Our neighbors are the BEST to work with! THANK YOU CANADA!



Thanks. Put it on Fire 11 Photo page. Ab.

07/20 hey ab,

I understand the deal with 2 to 1 work/rest guidelines but we were dispatched (BLM Heavy Engine module) to a fire when we were already 10 hours into our day. We worked another 6 hours then we were told to go to sleep for 8 but this was 4 at night and it was nearly 100 degrees by 9 a.m.! No one could sleep through the heat of the day so we kind of kicked some black and looked around our area while other engines (fresh ones) rolled past us mopping up our line. Is this the real answer to the pressing issue? Please someone tell me.


07/20 I was with two families when they were presented checks from the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation. These people step in and fill a need ($) when
things are tough. The money comes with no strings attached. Vicki and her
folks do good work.

07/20 Job Series 0462 and Series 0455 Pages are updated. No new jobs on the Jobs Page. (Ab sez, click through on the Pack Test Weight Vest banner on that page and check it out.)

FamilySaid folks are making a list of hometown newspapers that have stories and photos of wildland firefighters and the fires they're fighting. If anyone has such papers, could you let us know what newspaper, what date, what crew and if there's a photo or not? The moms, who are gathering records of their kid's crews, would appreciate it. If you have those papers and could hang onto them for a little bit while we figure out how, maybe there's a way to pass them on to our proud moms. CO Mom has some from the Denver Post. Take a look. They may have some of crews in your area that they are willing to share.

I put up some AT photos from Minden Fire Base NV that came in from Bob K.
They are of Tanker 14, a DC6 and Tanker 126, a PB4Y. I added them to AirTanker 5 Photo page that has the memorial pic of Tanker 123. Thanks for the photos, Bob. I also put his photo of the plume of the Topaz Lake Fire that he took from Minden on Fire 11.


07/20 I can protect my crews from falling retardant....
falling airplane parts is another question.


Couldn't have said it any better.
Put the museum quality tankers where they belong-
in a museum.

Jimbo Duckncover
07/20 CAFSman asked about donations. Here's some information on the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Ab.


A wildland firefighter killed on the job often leaves behind family members who are not only overcome with grief and loss, but also bewildered by the prospects of surviving financially in a confusing world of financial disarray. No dollar amount of assistance can make up for the loss of a family member, but benefits that honor the service provided by firefighters can help.

That's what we're here for.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation provides cash payment support to surviving family members. New to our website is a collection of additional resources available to survivors. These include lump sum death payments, workers' comp, funeral benefits, pensions and retirement programs, scholarships, and other non-profit and/or private support. Federal survivor benefits (for firefighters employed by a federal agency) and benefits under the Department of Justice's Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) program head the list; recent changes in federal law have exempted many line-of-duty pension and retirement benefits from federal taxes.


We have a system online where you can make donations directly to the foundation:


For more information, contact the Foundation staff:
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
1310 Vista Avenue #22
Boise, Idaho 83705
Email: vcikim@aol.com

Vicki Minor, Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Ab asked a few more questions about administrative costs and earmarking the donation for airtanker crew families (or other specific families of firefighters) and found out the following:
Only FIVE PERCENT of all donations income last year was used for
administrative expense, and that administrative expense even includes the
cost of shipping to send memorial statues to families of firefighters.

How can this be so low? Because nearly all the work is done by
volunteers. And pretty much everyone connected with the foundation is or
was a firefighter.

And yes, you can specify where the donation goes.

07/20 Hi Ab,

In reply to my question "will an airtanker company that has two aircraft incidents in a row, given similar aircraft failures (the wings breaking away), have all of their aircraft grounded and inspected?" was not an attempt to focus blame or responsibility. You're exactly right, the investigators need to find out what happened and the amateurs (like me) should not make conclusions based on what we see and hear in the media.

What I am asking is an operational and regulational question. Has anyone ever heard of an airtanker company losing two or more aircraft right in a row like this in one fire season?

Last year CDF lost two S-2 tankers in Sonoma County on a fire that was started by a meth lab cooker due to the aircraft colliding with each other. Again, not focusing blame anywhere, but when something like this happens to the same company does the Federal Fire & Aviation Management Office (of NIFC) stop operations for that company until all their aircraft have been inspected or the individual incidents have been investigated?

I' m not trying to single out Hawkins & Powers or their employees. This company has been in the aerial firefighting business for many many years and you don't last that long if you have an unsafe operation. These incidents could have happened to AeroUnion, Neptune, or anyone else.

I feel bad about the loss of the five crewmembers from both aircraft company and for their families who have lost husbands and fathers. I am angered at how the government has used the excuse "they are contractors, not permanent government employees so they do not receive the same benefits that regular government firefighters (permanent or seasonal) receive when they have died in the line of duty." Its scary because the government has it in mind that contracting everything out is the solution to everyones problems.

I pray that our politicians can get their priorities straight and stop trying to go after Martha Stuart with congressional hearings into her stock trading and come up with some legislation to address this problem.

We have lost 11 firefighters this fire season, and frankly that is 11 people too many. We all know that we have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world and it lessens all of us when the comparisons (private vs. government) and the Monday Morning quarterbacking comments start from the Peanut Gallery.

We need a better benefit package made available to all wildland firefighters regardless of status or agency. The airtanker crews have the most hazardous tasks of all because one small mistake can cause disaster for everyone.


Actually, I think we have lost 14 and that's too many. Ab.

07/20 Good Alternative JLP

I spent the day doing air attack on going wildfires in Colorado and also in
deep, distracted thought about what to do about our current situation
regarding airtankers that fall apart in the air. And, oh yeah, I did air
attack all day. It was not my best day after what happened yesterday.

I agree with Todd's proposal in TheySaid to a point regarding helitankers but
we still must have a fleet of airtankers available. Reasons:

First, helitankers are one tool in our box. I used them today in a situation
which, fortunately, was the proper situation. We succeeded. I squelched a
request for airtankers for two reasons: They were not the proper tool for
the situation and you all (who have not been spiked out for two days) know
the other reason.

Second, airtankers are a critical tool in our box and have evolved over the
last 4 decades into the most efficient means of suppression in the short term
of wildland fires in the mid-to-high range of the haul chart. Arguments can
be made about turnaround time but airtankers deliver retardant and lots of
it. Helitankers can do that too but how many times have we been able to set
up portable retardant plants in short order?

Third, I have many times used helitankers (H2O) where I wish I had airtankers
and we got our butt kicked.

OK off the helitankers. Old airplanes: I was an airtanker base manager 15
years ago when we already considered 4Y's a flying museum piece. I won't go
down the list but they are almost all flying museum pieces by now.

JLP is on the right track towards an alternative for our current situation.

The answer is simple: consign the U.S Government (through the congress,
executive order?) to build a spec airtanker and to build a bunch of them real
quick. Tanker pilots please speak, we know the C130 and P3 are not the
perfect airtanker. Money should at this point should be no issue to the
richest country in the world. We are in an ongoing war with wildfire and 1
B1B bomber costs more than it would cost to replace our entire existing
fleet. The details of how to subsequently operate them should be no problem
as the military has already been contracting for years with the private
sector for the operation of government aircraft.

We had a rather philosophical day in the air today. I disagreed with one
comment made today (on rotor victor) by Helitanker Bill, "ours is not to
reason why, ours is to fly". All of us better be reasoning why on this issue
'cuz too many of our friends are no longer with us for lack of our reasoning

Rick and Milt were real characters and truly devoted firefighters. May God
rest their souls and watch over their families. Lets make a positive out of
this in their names and in the names of so many fire aviators who are no
longer with us because their airplanes failed them.


07/20 L.A.V.E.
I usually enjoy your posts. You really lost me tonight, though, on the
firehogs note. If you spent a bit of time on the AAP WebSite you'd
recognize this joker for what he is. I admit he sounded good to me at
first too. But this is NOT a viable alternative. Do your own research or
ask around or check the pilots board.
from a pilot
07/20 Can anyone answer this question:

There have been two AirTanker crashes so far this season, and
both incidents were a result of the wings failing in what looked
like a non-stressful maneuver to the aircraft.

Because the same failure happened to two aircraft will NIFC and
the Forest Service suspend all aircraft flown for air tankers
by that company (or any other company that suffers a similar
incident)? Has a double-incident like this happened to an
airtanker contractor before?

Will the federal wildland agencies start looking more closely
at the ages of the aircraft being flown (the C-130A that crashed
was the first series of that aircraft made in the 1950's, and
the PB4Y was made in 1945) and start restricting them due to

Finally, if its shown in the investigations that maintenance
shortcuts occurred to maximize profits for the subject company,
what can happen to the company and the officers of that company?

Anyone have any hard fact they can share?


MOC, don't jump to conclusions about the causes of the crashes. In the first one, it did look like the wing fell off first, but the investigation will tell. In the second, we don't know. There could have been another mechanical or structural problem preceding the crash, like an explosion to name just one. We need the investigation by experts. As far as indicting the company, let's not do that either. When planes are old and the number of companies flying them are few, this could just be very bad luck that the two occurred to the same company. I'm sure all those folks feel VERY bad. They lost good friends. And we lost some good firefighters. Ab.
07/19 To; The CDF Convert,

Every summer I work with crews, engines, aircraft and overhead from just about
every agency there is in the western US (I.E.; CDF, USFS, BLM, NPS, Local
Government, Private Contractors, etc...) During the rest of the year I teach fire
fighting for a living. Most of the material I present in class comes from "real world"
deployments. The one thing I know as absolute fact is this. Every agency has
outstanding people and every agency has some "duds". Don't paint CDF or any
agency with a brush loaded from your limited experience. If we were all a little more
open minded related to the techniques, equipment, tactics and leadership systems
from other agencies, we would all be a little better off.

Sounds like you may have a weak Captain and possibly crew. That's life, S---
happens! If you watch and listen, you can learn as much from a weak crew or
supervisor as you can from the best. Take the experiences you observed this season
(and the rest of your career) that you like and don't like, place them in your "brain
pan" filing box. When you promote use the good things and avoid the bad things.
This is basically what every good Captain has done throughout there career. No
great secrets here. Look, listen, learn; sort out all the good stuff and use it.

07/19 These 24 and 72 hour Reports of the July 14 burnover on the Marble Fire (southern Colorado) came in from several people. I put them into html for easy viewing.

07/19 AT Discussion

There is a gentleman who is pushing a program called Fire Hogs that would take "surplus A-10 tank buster/ground support aircraft" and turn them into air tankers. I have been reading his reports for two to three years and they sound well thought out and viable. The cost of refitting the aircraft wouldn't be cheap but there is "newer" replacement aircraft out there. The aircraft was made to fly low and slow and it has only one pilot, I don't know if this a plus or a minus. But there are some people out there with some solutions, I don't know if they are the right ones!

My father was in the Air Force in the maintenance end of the game, I learned a lot from him. The main thing is that maintenance and the air crews are the two biggest factors in safe operations. Add to that the age of the aircraft and that spells alot of preventative maintenance on these old aircraft that were not designed to do what they have been doing for years. My admiration grows for these aircrews with every fire I am on, they do a good job with some antique aircraft. As an example the PBY that went down in Colorado is on the order of 50 to 60 years old. Who knows what kind of treatment the old girl had over that time span.

I am not saying that the contactors are amiss in maintenance, but lets face it sometimes old things break just because of the wear and tear that they have been put through over the years. When one of these things break down, they can't park it as the side of the road and hit the shoe leather.

I do agree that we need a next generation air tanker fleet and I also wonder where they will come from.

Many thanks to all the Air Crew that fly and fight fires, I know you guys have saved me lots of work and maybe every my backside.

Keep it safe and lets hope the politicos get a dose of common sense, real soon!

07/19 A link to a sequence of photos of the T-123 crash (from Hickman).


The slideshow is at the top (at least for right now). Scary and sad. Thoughts and prayers for family members and friends. This hits all of us hard. Ab.

07/19 My 2cents on the AT Alternatives thread:

Id like to see us go to helitankers instead of air tankers. If there are not enough now, how about some interim agreement with the military until they can be beefed up?

Helitankers could be contract, they would be used in the off season for other projects, meaning they would not just be sitting around waiting until fire season, but would be getting regular maintenance. The ones I've seen overhead on fires this summer have been very effective. They drop water rather than retardant, so they're "suppressing" rather than "retarding" the fire. The environmentalists can't grouse about water drops..

Does anyone know payload, comparative costs, loading and turnaround times, etc? How fast do they fly when attacking IA in a distant location? Do they need more or less aerial supervision (ATGS?) or other overhead in short supply than the AT's do? What other issues between AT's and Helitanker's?

Say for instance we could have helitankers instead of AT's (pretend private funding is not a problem, if it is).. what else might stand in the way? Laws of some sort that say we have to use contracted AT's because they're cheaper (are they)? The retardant lobby? Resistance to changing a "glamorous" part of the fire culture? The states would be doing one thing and the feds would be doing another? Do we need to educate the Public who want to see the AT's coming in with their load of pink stuff? Maybe the Public just needs to see those video links about throw away planes.

After the C130 went down, I saw the crash video. I was glad the rest of the 130's were grounded. On my next IA, when the AT came over, I had a flash wondering if it was going to come apart overhead. That video was more graphic than I realized.

Its the AT families that deserve the HERO label. I don't know how they do it.


07/19 From Firescribe:

More Oregon Fires

Crews Gain on the Squire Fire

Lots more stories on the FireNews Page. Oregon is burning. Give it about 20 seconds to load the current articles. Ab.

07/19 Here is information about the lost hiker that contributed to the
Rodeo/Chedski Fires.


07/19 Viable Alternative to the current AT arrangement!

I have an alternative. Aero Union Corporation has a prototype of an Advanced MAFFS system for C-130's. The aircraft doesn't need to be modified and the system is essentially cargo. The oldest Hercs that the National Guard and Air Force operate are H models. Newer aircraft is the answer. There is no other way around it. Give the firefighting to the government or let the contractors maintain and operate government owned aircraft with the strict maintenance procedures laid out by the US Military.

07/19 Ab Note:

The Third International Wildland Fire Conference is happening in Sydney Australia, 3 – 6 October 2003 at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. The "brochure" that came is too long and complex for theysaid, but you can access the information at the link below:

You can also e-mail the contact person, Jennifer Lindberg at JLINDBERG@tourhosts.com.au for info on how you can help spread the word regarding the conference and/or sign up for it.

She says this:

The Conference was last held in Canada in 1997 and attracted over 700 delegates. The Conference will bring together the world’s leading fire management professionals and practitioners, policy makers, scientists, researchers, academics, technical specialists, educational groups, safety representatives, and equipment manufacturers and suppliers. We are looking forward to the 2003 event exceeding all expectations.
7/16 FYI in oregon ODF is working a 1500+ acre fire near Jacksonville OR. For
some reason it did not make the SIT report. The fire made a major run
yesterday from 1500-2100 hrs. There's approx. 50+ fire in southwest OR.
with only two tankers. Oh yeah they are calling for lighting Fri-Sun. with
record heat next week 100+.

Rogue River FIREHAWG
7/16 Hi All,

I was doing some research yesterday while thinking about fighting 
fire safely under the extreme fire conditions we're having this summer. 
Especially in light of the new and fast-moving eastern Sierra/GBasin 
fires, and the OR and WA fires. Extreme behavior is not limited to
R3, folks!

I came across this little dramatic and descriptive piece written about 
a dangerous fire situation on July 5 in Wyoming. (Ab can you transform 
it from pdf so people can easily access it?) 

We can't stress too often the HEADS UP! The 10 and 18 
work. The chain of command works. Sometimes a very fast response 
is needed to pull people off the line. 

Thanks for telling this story, Washington Incident Management Team.
Made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Hooray for the Meteorologists and the Dispatchers and all who do
their jobs impeccably. 
NorCal Tom

I put it in html and it's easily readable: Daley Fire Complex disengagement. I put it on the Documents Worth Reading page and site map. Ab.

07/16 Old Fire Guy,

I understand how the "maximum retirement age" was reached mathematically. I understand it is law and not policy. My point is that it is causing problems already and the decade of retiring "old firefighters" is just beginning. It may have been a good policy to ask Congress to make into law at one time. As it stands it is now a hindrance to fighting fire safely and effectively. And it will only get worse. I was chastising the agency heads for not going before congress to propose the law be changed...while it will still do some good. And then only if they are not attempting to do so already. The "specious" argument of the WO makes me believe they are not.

I see no reason that ,for example, a 40 year old experienced firefighter could not receive a permanent position with the explicit understanding that they would only receive a portion of their retirement benefits upon reaching age 55. While it would not be as simple as "for every year of age over 35 (when you receive the position) you lose 5% of your retirement benefits" it is still pretty simple math. In this case the 40 year old could expect to receive (about) 25% less upon retirement than a 35 year old. Many experienced firefighters would jump at such an opportunity and alleviate much of the current (and upcoming) major shortage. The one size fits most "solution" is not working and I believe will be a killer.

The argument that "if we allowed experienced firefighters that were over the "maximum entry age" to have permanent positions we would lose the "special early retirement"" has no merit since a simple alternative exists. It sounds more like a threat to me. Often when agency heads will not propose needed legislation such as this the unions must. This is very embarrassing for the folks at the top of the effected agency(s)...who are invariably called before committee to be asked why they have not proposed the legislation themselves. I suspect I know why the BLM, USFS, etc. are not...and the "threat" of losing the special retirement is a good way to shut the unions up.

It may be a good threat...but it is not a good argument.


07/16 The Jobs Page, Job Series 0462 and Series 0455 Pages are updated.

There are 5 new photos on the 30mi Fire photo page thanks to mnm561 who went to the Washington memorial site dedication on the one year anniversary of the tragedy.


7/16 Jeffrey:
Helga is the guru for the FS. Don't know about DOI agencies.....I would
assume the same laws. One reference might be WO memo File Code 6130 dated
October 5, 2001, signed by Steve Nelson. One bullet reads: "The maximum
entry age applies to each entry into a maximum-entry-age position unless
the individual is transferring directly from another maximum-entry-age
position." Best answer will probably come from your personnel specialists.
Good luck.
7/16 Re. Captain Emmett's response to CDF Convert....Can I work for Captain
Emmett? The guy is squared-away! Advice for CDF convert, get close-up to
someone like Captain Emmett, watch, listen and learn.

7/16 Can someone steer me to the right info? I am a FFT1-T, FALB. I work in maintenance (permanent) for a DOI agency and fight fire as a collateral duty. I have been thinking lately about a career move to, say, a squad boss on a fuels crew. Problem is I am 37 y/o. I have had permanent status for over four years, though. Am I able to make the move? My FMO and PA aren't sure either way. Help, please...
--- Jeffrey
--- jjewhurst@earthlink.net
7/16 Hi Ab and greetings from Nova Scotia again.

I have spent most of the morning catching up on your web site. I find it really interesting. We, unlike you, are having a wet summer (so far) lots and of lots of lightning but always with rain. The most excitement we have had in the past month was an illegal dump site on fire. All for now be safe.

7/15 Ab,
I am an avid photographer. I have been published and have completed a
training course through Canon. I understand that I can get Technical
Assistant (Photo) on my red-card through my home unit. I am going out now
on hand-crews.

My question is this: will I get called out???? I was told that unless I
had an inf. officer name request me that it wasn't likely.
So that begs the question how do I get my name to these people???
I am open to any advice the gang on here has.

(But the boss called a while ago and I am probably going back out maybe as
soon as tomorrow, so don't be shocked if I don't get back in here to check
the mail for a couple weeks.)

If you guys see me out there don't laugh, my house sits at an elevation of
-2ft. so the first few days out I tend to wheeze and gasp hehehe

Flash in Florida

Ya gonna have "Flash" spelled out on yer nomex, or are we gonna have to ask each wheezer if he's Flash? Ab.
7/15 CDF Convert

Your comments are both interesting and at the same time a little unnerving.... I am very curious who exactly told you that Fire Captains or Engineers do not go up the hose lays with you guys. I am assuming you were in a 67 hour basic firefighter academy. For a fire captain to have told you that, he or she is giving you a personal opinion most likely. There are times when a captain may not be able to follow the firefighters (when assigned as the initial attack IC) immediately. This practice of not following firefighters up the hill is not condoned in many circles inside CDF-it may well be a physical fitness issue.

Not giving daily weather reports is criminal. In most units, the weather is read twice daily over the "local" net. It is also available through the internal email system and is posted in the morning and afternoon. You have a right to it. Ask if it not being read.

The fire hose issue is interesting. Many units do use the old heavy cotton jacket federal standard hose, while some have completely converted to the synthetic lighterwieght types. I feel your pain there.

I apologize to you if you were indoctrinated by some captain or engineer that was forced to put on one of these late 67 hour academies. You must be in the groups that were hired placing the fourth firefighter on the southern engines (88 engines I think).

Remember, your captain is only as good as his crew, make him better.

On the union....They have done a lot for the seasonal. Did you know that CDF seasonals are the only seasonal group in California state service that draw a retirement package and have the health benefits at the level you have?

Pay your dues and support them. Don't be a fair share free loader.

"Another CDF BC"
7/15 CDF Convert,

As a 23-year veteran with CDF, I must respond to your post.

1. Fire weather forecasts are given twice a day, morning and evening (at least in my unit.)

2. Captains and Engineers go up the hill with the company, unless they are involved in the pumping operation or are the IC.

3. Rampant use of RLCJ hose. What do you want? We use it because it works.

4. Ask questions of your supervisor (if you have constructive questions) not the “well where I come from” type junk. Some questions are better asked later. If you see something the Company Officer has missed, point it out!

5. Your statement,” And I already heard the look up, look down, look all around- everyone is looking out for everyone else bit. I don't buy it. When you're working your ass off your situational awareness is pretty crappy”

You BETTER be watching what is going on around you at all times, this is a team job, and you are still responsible for yourself and your engine company members. Pay attention to what is around you; we cannot hold your hand.

You sound as if you are a rookie with an attitude, your biggest job this year is to learn to be a good firefighter and understand that CDF has been in this business a very long time and we know what we are doing. If you think for one minute this year with all of the rookie FAEs and Captains as well as Firefighter 1 folks such as yourself are making things easier, think again. Fire behavior is insane this year, in my little piece of the fire world I’m seeing fire do things it should be doing in late August or September. Have faith in you Captain or Engineer. There will always be a more experienced hand around on a fire. Read everything you can on fire behavior, watch fires as they are shown on TV especially in Southern Calif, every fire seems to be a big deal to the news and you can see some great footage this is a great learning tool. Ask questions of your supervisors; take it upon yourself to become educated in fire behavior. Understand also that any training has to follow a certain set of guidelines, standards must be met. You will find that the field is vastly different from what you experienced in the classroom.

As a CDF Fire Captain, I feel it my job to teach my Firefighters everything I know about this job. Any Firefighter should be able to pump the engine, make a hose lay, do CPR, program a handi-talki, take weather observations and understand fire behavior as well as clean a toilet and cook a healthy meal. Relax, enjoy the ride CDF is a great outfit, we are experiencing major changes this year and will for the next 3 or 4 years. Make yourself the best Damn firefighter you can. People notice the extra effort; it pays off in the end. Ask about EVERYTHING, the only dumb question is the one not asked. If you aren’t training every day you aren’t on a fire, shame on you! Ask for training, make it fun, be a motivator in your station.

Post often here on they said, I would like to see how your summer goes.

Sorry for the soap box, Ab.
Captain Emmett
7/15 I had the pleasure of attending a recent firefighter retirement session put
on by Helga. She is knowledgeable, articulate and shows great understanding
and sympathy to the on-the-ground firefighter. Maybe the best WO type I've
ever met.

Dana, there seems to be some confusion yet. The retirement benefits are
determined by "law" not by "policy". Neither the FS or BLM or any other
agency can change the "law" only Congress can. Part of the history of the
current law is that Congress had to be convinced that firefighting has
physical demand standards that are best met by a young, vigorous workforce.
Hence the maximum retirement age. Subtract the special 20 year retirement
requirement and you get the "maximum entry age".

This does not infer that there are no individuals capable of top level
performance beyond age 55. And yes, it does by default constrain career
opportunities for those seasoned firefighters who are beyond the MEA and
yet have not secured a "permanent" appointment. Like other laws, it is
not flawless, but is designed to apply to the majority of situations. It
is unfair though to chastise the leadership of any agency for adhering to
the current laws.

Arguing for elimination of the age restrictions would probably result in
loss of the special retirement. That might mean firefighters would have to
work the standard 30-35 years and have a lesser benefit package upon
retirement (FF is much better than the rest of us have). Hope this helps.

Old Fire Guy
7/15 Found this article this morning, interesting reading. It is at
www.arizonarepublic.com it is entitled "Defiant firefighters snub feds" in
the July 14th edition.
7/15 Fire en water,
RIGHT ON! It's about time that the people in the wildland fire community realize what our p.d.'s hold us back from.
It's sad but true that a huge amount of fire fighters, who love and live for this gig aren't truely classified as that. Also, it's a fact that it would be very hard for "land management" and "natural resources'" agencies to justify hiring actual fire fighters, not forest and range techs to thin dog hair stands, fix fence and rehab fire areas. That would mean that alot of folks who are die hard green, yellow, or white at heart would all have to make an effort for one REAL FIRE agency. And it's unfortunate that we still see that agency specific pride hamper our efforts to fight fire.
Just thought that you should know that you're not the only one thinking that way.
F an A Bro ( or Sis)
7/15 Re: CDF Convert

As an 18 year CDF vet with FS experience I must beg to differ. Most of what you are talking about is either patently false or Station specific, except the hose issue (which I also beg to differ your inference that synthetic hose is by definition better).

I am a CDF Captain and I ALWAYS go up the hill with my firefighters. The pump can take care of itself until the second or third engine arrives.

My firefighters receive a weather briefing including Burning Index each day.

Yes there are a lot of new supervisors with many new firefighters, and this is different from the federal wildland agencies how?

Captain 180

Thanks Capt. I expect your response to be just the first to refute Convert's post. Without having attended the CDF Academy, I must only assume as with other academies or formalized training, there will be discrepancies large and small between classroom theory and field practice. Please note my advice to Convert to wait until arriving at his new unit before getting too excited. Ab.

7/15 THANKS, HOT LIPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please, please, puh-leeeeeeeeeeeze,everyone, re-read that post from Hot
Lips below. And take it to heart.

I grew up like pretty much all the rest of you grew up. Mostly outside.
Camped a lot. Did field work. Fished and hunted. Never paid much
attention to that sissy "wash your hands after going to the bathroom" noise.

I got my first attitude readjustment in 1989 when I was on a fire and
heard about the 40 people demobed out with triple-A level camp crud
because some guy did not wash his hands and 40 people behind him ate
contaminated food. I changed my attitude and my habits, but wasn't
really "committed" about it. In 1992 I actually saw this first-hand.
Picture 70 people in the emergency room because a cook failed to wash
his hands and laid them all low.

You see those signs in the john at a bar or restaurant that says WORKERS
WASH YOUR HANDS, well, look, it's not just the employees at restaurants.
Wash your damned hands, THIS MEANS YOU. Sixty seconds can keep dozens of
folks from the heaving puking crapping nightmares that are caused by one
person not washing hands. If you saw in a lab what causes this, you'd
never fail to wash them ever again.

7/14 Ab,
Thanks for posting the "For Your Information RE: Q&A - FF Retirement Coverage". I feel compelled to respond.
I think that the 'young and vigorous' force policy is shortsighted and will be a major killer of the 'young and vigorous' in the upcoming decade. In order to fight fire safely and effectively I believe we need a force of firefighters that is not only 'young and vigorous' but 'mature and well trained' as well. Since no classroom can fully prepare any firefighter for safely and effectively fighting wildfire the real training ground for the 'young and vigorous' is the fireground and the real trainers are the "Old Guys". (no disrespect meant to the "Old Gals"...they're included) When the ratio of "Old Guys" to 'young and vigorous' gets too low we will neither be able to fight fire effectively nor safely. That day is rapidly approaching.

Soon most of the "Old Guys" will be retiring and the 'young and vigorous' replacing them will be left without trainers. There is no substitute for years of fireline experience and the current policy will leave the 'young and vigorous' with inadequate numbers of "Old Guys" to safely and effectively fight fire. The fire agencies never expected the danger of wildfire to grow as it has or for the new economy to create the long term firefighter shortage it has. More importantly they failed to formulate and implement new policy when it became apparent the old policy might prove disastrous. If new hires had been constantly recruited and retained the 'young and vigorous' policy would work. Unfortunately replacements for the "Old Guys" retiring are not in the pipeline and pay for their possible replacements fell so short of competitive that most of them moved on to other employers or professions. This is reflected currently in our nations need to import overhead due to an even more severe shortage of "experienced managers" than of "regular firefighters".
This is a direct result of the current "maximum entry age" policy and the artificial shortage of experienced firefighters it creates.

Any policy which fails to provide for changing conditions is BAD POLICY and the current 'young and vigorous' policy fails to provide for the ability of our future wildfire suppression force to safely and effectively suppress wildfire. We are already beginning to see how the policy of total wildfire suppression was a BAD POLICY yet how loath the agencies are to implement major changes to such an obviously flawed policy. Similarly though a simple adjustment to the current age limit could avoid continuing on an expensive and needlessly deadly path of following obviously flawed logic which created a BAD POLICY to its' unacceptable outcome I expect that is what the agencies will do. After all who can be blamed for simply following policy that some predecessor originally implemented? I don't think anyone expects the foresight or fortitude needed to change BAD POLICY from those now in charge...I know I don't.

The argument that :

"if we were willing to hire
employees into a rigorous firefighting position and not apply the maximum
entry age -- then we are in effect saying that it is not important to the
Forest Service that we maintain a 'young and vigorous' firefighting
workforce. AND if we do not need a young and vigorous firefighting
workforce, OPM stated that we would no longer need to have a special early
retirement for firefighters."

is similarly flawed and myopic since firefighters hired at below the maximum entry age do not stay that age....they continue to get older...and presumably less vigorous. Experienced firefighters hired at 5 years over the "maximum entry age" are no less 'young and vigorous' than those hired at the "maximum entry age" five years after they are hired. And there is no need to deprive anyone of a "special early retirement" it would just need to be prorated to adjust for the fewer years of service they would be allowed. The above argument presented by the "OPM's head of Retirement Policy (and one of her lawyers)" is specious in "legalspeak". In plain English that means "seeming to be good...without really being so."

I believe that if Congress simply implemented a prorated special early retirement for those experienced wildfire fighters that currently wish to offer their services after they were over the "maximum entry age" everyone would be more happy. Those that would be happier would include not only Forest Service employees but also those whose homes and properties were saved from wildfire by a much more effective fire suppression force and those who did not have to attend funerals due to needless firefighter deaths. The fact that the Bureaucrat running the federal agencies charged with wildfire suppression (and their lawyers) choose to promulgate a shortsighted and potentially disastrous policy despite obvious flaws rather than stick their necks out to essentially "do their job" surprises no one. It should however, sadden everyone.

The responsibility for not doing so lays squarely on the shoulders of the heads of our federal fire suppression agencies since our legislators have already proven time and time again that they are willing to quickly enact changes in law in order to respond to the threat of inadequate wildfire suppression resources. To those agency heads I say....Firefighters are doing their best....the legislature is doing its' best...can you claim the same?

If not...shame on you.
Dana Linscott
7/14 Hey all,

Well, I just made the switch from the Forest Service in So Cal to CDF
(also in So Cal). You know, the union, the benefits, the retirement- all
for seasonals. This is my second year in fire, and i have decent idea of
they way things are supposed to work. But today, in our academy, i was
hit with a few whoppers that have really unnerved me.

1) CDF Engine Captains/Engineers do not go up the hill with their fire
fighters. They stay at the engine.

2) Fire Fighters don't receive daily weather reports.

The rampant use of rubber-lined cotton jacket hose has also caught my
eye, but is not so much of a safety concern.

In my ranger unit, they have hired over 100 new fire fighters this
season. They are bringing up new engines staffed with green overhead and
fire fighters. And this is supposed to be safe?

"Don't second guess your supervisor, they know what they're doing," they
told us.

They might, but they won't be with us! How are rookie fire fighters
supposed to understand the first thing about fire behavior, know what
danger signs to look for, and fight a fire all at the same time. I at
least know enough to know that i don't know anything, and i also know
when i need more qualified people around me. This season, i need more
qualified people around me.

And the no weather forecast thing, well, that just seems inexcusable.
South Canyon, anyone? It's a fire order for gawd's sake's. How can you
fight fire safely without immediate supervision (that acts as a lookout)
and an understand of what significant weather events may happen on a
given day? And i already heard the '"look up, look down, look all
around- everyone is looking out for everyone else" bit. I don't buy it.
when you're working your ass off your situational awareness is pretty
crappy. And no, i don't think a division sup. qualifies as a suitable
lookout for an entire division.

Needless to say, i am a little worried about what is to come. I get the
feeling that CDF is fighting fire like the Forest Service did 10-15
years ago. My understanding of the Bluecut incident has not changed this
view. Any comments?

CDF Convert

CDF's been playing this game for a while. Have a little patience, wait till you get to your station to see how it really is. Ab.

7/14 AB Why are the Feds and State's with all the fires going on not using ARFF
services, Having untrained personnel doing this job is like having a non red
carded person on the fire line. The safety of the helibase's should be as
high as the fire line. The fireline handbook states the use of ARFF at
helibase not wildland engines. Can anyone answer this.

7/14 In '87 I was a seasonal for CDF. In late September or early October we had to do a fire prevention show and tell, this is also at the height of fire season that year. Well, we had the maximum number of engines out of county and everyone was frozen on duty. We went to a Grand Opening of a national burger chain and proceeded to unload all the compartments and "display" all the equipment that the engine carries. We stood around and answered questions and took turns in the "Smokey" suit. The entire engine crew got comp. meals. As is my luck I was the last in the rotation to go get my burger and drink. As I walked out of the burger joint with my bag I saw the guys throwing the equipment back in the compartments, you guessed it we got a fire dispatch. Well, I pitched in and we got geared up and off we went. We had to bust through town and headed out west. We had a fire a few days before and had added class A foam to the tank on that call, no separate tank back then. As the Capt. drove like a demon possessed, we found out there was a lot of foam still in the tank, we looked like the Lawrence Welk Road show. The bubbles were flying, as we zoomed thorough a small town. The Captain was really hall'n ass, and we came up on a county Sheriff and the Capt. damn near ran him off road. The Sheriff pulled over in a huge cloud of dust, and we whizzed by with all the bubbles streaming out of the tank. As we were getting close to the fire we saw another CDF engine heading back, we were still going code 3. Well, the Capt. gets on the radio (car to car freq.) and asked if we had been canceled. The reply was, "your [Capt. Name Omitted] I thought your assignment was to cover the headquarters station." OOPS and looks of total confusion and blame. The Capt. shut down the lights and siren and we quickly got off the main road. The Capt. got everyone together and gave us an action plan. We were going to quietly drive back to H.Q., sneak in and then act like we had been there awhile. The Capt. went to dispatch and pleaded radio problems that somehow we fire monkeys managed to get fixed and we didn't need a radio tech. to look at. The funny thing is we were only about three miles from where we stared and it took us over an hour to get into the station to cover, oh yea I finally got to eat my cold soggy burger after we got to the station and we got fuel and tried to purge the tank of A foam. We then got detailed to fix dinner for the H.Q. staff. Days later we were laughing our heads off after the Capt. got sent out as a dozer strike team leader.

That is my fondest fire story.
Stay safe and watch out for the dragons out there.

7/14 In regards to Helga's post: Too bad the retirement system is the only
place we feds are recogninzed as firefighters. The rest of the time we are
just Forestry Techs, Range Techs or Park Rangers. Ain't it time to
recognize wildland firefighting as a PROFESSION, not just an agency
sideline subject? Just saying "oh we appreciate you" isn't really what
I'm talking about here either. I'm talking about a whole host of pay
equity and classification issues that none of the agencies will ever agree
on or do anything about. A fedral firefighting agency would go a long ways
to solving this stuff. Wouldn't be perfect, no doubt, since federal =
bureaucracy no matter where you are. But can you imagine the wind from the
sigh of relief from all those line officers and WO management that are in
panic mode over 30 Mile, etc. once they realize they wouldn't have to be
responsible for an area that scares them to death? And it certainly would
give us a breather from the CYA pounds of paperwork that they are trying to
invent and implement as an answer to saving us all from ourselves on the

Guess I'm tired of being at the bottom of the heap of new policy,
guidelines, rules, process, process, process....that seems to be just the
thing to keep anyone at the top from being responsible and gives them an
infinate choice of blame material to point at the worker bees when
something goes wrong.

Call me old fashioned, but I thought the rules we had worked pretty good
when people followed them.

7/14 If you have any resources, please let your dispatch office know. We in the Northwest have just been hit and continue to be hit with dry lightning.....you know, the Northwest "the last to get hit and ALWAYS needing resources".... Just started today 07/13/02, and we'll have have some time to go to get control of anything for awhile.

Thanks to all who are supporting us now and in the future... Pretty Please?

One year later (July 10): Peace be with all involved in Thirtymile. We are still living your pain (and always will). Tom (I love you!), Jessica, Devin, and Karen, you are in our minds and we will NEVER forget -- Plus, our other 12 affected, we are thinking of you and each and every one of you are professionals. Those allowed to "Stand Up" -- YOU DID IT! Be stong -- We will survive!

Ab: YOU (all of you) are Awesome (capitol "A" in Awesome)!!! Thanks for the forum.

Dispatch Rookie...
7/14 Greetings AB, all...
I just got back from playing medic on the East Fork Fire (it sure was weird being on --> side of the fire, instead of <--). A few words that I would like to mention. I was absolutely appalled at the number of firefighters we would see that would get out their buggies/busses, head right for the porta-craps, then march straight to the chow line (DFZee's you are too good to us) and not stop by the handwashing station that they had to pass in order to get in line, without taking 30 seconds to wash their hands. The end result? Well, we had many of them coming in a day or two into their detail with the common symptoms of nausea/vomiting/diarrhea a.k.a."camp crud". This was harsh, quick & violent (ask the man who had a "blow out" while on the line) I know it is miserable, and yes we did stock up on pepto bismol, imodium ad and anything else to try and make things a little more comfortable for you, but c'mon...throw us a bone here. I am a firefighter and understand how "cool" it looks to be dirty, but at a camp where there are many "sinks", showers & even a laundry facility, there is no reason to need to walk around like that. We are all there at the same camp with you, believe me, we KNOW how hard you guys work...I've got the totals on the amount of $$$ we spent trying to keep
you all in moleskin, boot inserts (Thank You Dr. Scholls), foot powder and 2nd skin. I also realize how plum "pooped" you are as well. But I don't think that there is anything worse than being stricken by camp crud, while at camp. Wash yer hands boys & girls. 'nuff said.
~*~Thanks to all of you still on East Fork, Col. Potter, Radar, Frank, Chuck, Grady & "Hollywood" and the rest who had parts in our
MASH unit...what an honor it was to work with you all.
10 & 18,
Great Basin Firefighter a.k.a.
~*~Hot Lips~*~
07/13 Story:

We had this guy who couldn't take "no" for an answer about burning off his
brush pile. We'd already been there a couple of times to put out his burning
piles and he was beginning to think that it was pretty funny.
As we got ready to respond to his house the last time, one of the old
timers asked a magic question. "Say, do we still have any of that old protein
foam out back? I bet we used every bit of it when we hosed down his whole
yard that day.

For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure, the protein foam was a
fish by-product. Needless to say that, after the sun dried the water out of
the solution and the smell took over, the guy didn't want to play "antagonize
the nice fireman" anymore.

Hey "Flash" Great story! That's where some of your best "Intracrew
Cohesion" comes from. Stay safe!

07/13 AB:

After digesting the "Green Sheet" on the Bluecut, a few thoughts to ponder.....

1. What happened?

2. What happened?

"Another CDF BC"

Good question Ab sez, chuckling over his coffee. Lotsa detail there...

07/13 to the firefighter that worked on the Cannell Dist. I was a fire fighter
with fulton hotshots in that late 70s and 80s, worked on Greenhorn,
Cannell, and Hot Springs Dist. My wife was a lookout there from 72
to 82. You can get me at flamebusters@profirefighter.com
07/12 Abs,
I am an old fire dog from the 70's looking for crewmates or anybody that remembers those
roaring 70's. My crew, The Burton, was from the Sequoia National in California. Was on the
Cannell Meadow R.D. We were a pack of wild arsed crazy bastages. We usually ran with the
Fulton crew and the Horseshoe crew. Also, do have any memory of a fella named Fred Rounds? Good
man, he was the FMO on the Panhandle N.F. out of Cour De Lene, Idaho. He was skookums. By the
way, i write as i am on duty. I now have 19 biggies in with a city fire department. I would
like to get on your e-mail however, this is the method that our system allows. I have options at
home, but i would like to have it here as well.. any suggestions?

We have theysaid and you can e-mail Ab. We have no automatic mailing service. If anyone has info on your crew, we'll put them in touch with you. Ab.

07/12 This has come in from several people as a "For Your Information RE: Q&A - FF Retirement Coverage". Looks like it's been circulating on the FS intranet. Ab.

QUESTION: I have never understood why if a person chooses NOT to have fire
retirement they can't occupy a covered fire position. They can still have
the regular FERS retirement benefits. Is there some law or interpretation
that states a person must have fire retirement coverage to occupy a fire

ANSWER: Yes, I met yesterday with OPM's head of Retirement Policy (and one
of her lawyers) and she said firefighter coverage for all rigorous
firefighters is required by law.

This suggestion is always made in an effort to get around the maximum entry
age. And they are right, if congress changed the law so that a person
could choose to occupy a covered fire position and not be covered, then --
we would not need a maximum entry age for those folks. (They would not
need to get their 20 years in before the mandatory retirement age.)

However, employees need to be aware that if we were willing to hire
employees into a rigorous firefighting position and not apply the maximum
entry age -- then we are in effect saying that it is not important to the
Forest Service that we maintain a 'young and vigorous' firefighting
workforce. AND if we do not need a young and vigorous firefighting
workforce, OPM stated that we would no longer need to have a special early
retirement for firefighters.

I really believe that if firefighter retirement was eliminated for the
Forest Service that we would have many many more unhappy employees than we
do now with enforcing the maximum entry age.

Forest Service Benefits Officer
07/12 Ab,

As a rookie I was told to always check out the equipment on the engine we were running (3/4 ton 4x4) "first thing"... including the pump, reel, etc. to make sure everything was working. I believe the exact words were "don't leave the station without checking everything works". To drive the importance of this directive home I was not told about a small prescribed fire that was planned one morning when I was asked to run to town for supplies immediately on arrival. I took the runner truck (an old pickup) to town and on my way back to the station was surprised to see a 3 acre grassfire about 2 miles from the station. I called it in on the radio and received the response that everyone was already on their way to a plantation fire and I should just handle it myself.

So I "raced" to the station, got in the engine and flew back to the fire. I pulled up and prepared for what would probably take 15-20 minutes of easy "wetlineing" pulling a bit of hose up to the cab window and goin back to start the pump. It usually fired up right away...but not today. I checked the fuel first and of course the tank was dry. So I opened up the side panel where we always carried spare fuel and found none. As I checked more and more places I got the sinking feeling that I would have to drive all the way back to the station for gas...and the "easy fire" was now about twice as large as when I had first seen it...approaching the pines I had pulled into protect first. I knew that by the time I returned there would be trees on fire and I would have some "splaining" to do unless i was willing to lie.

I agonized about the call for about 30 seconds, wondering if I might be able to get back with gas before the trees caught fire if I really sped. The risk just seemed out of proportion to any possible benefit so I called the other units on the radio and "fessed up" asking for suggestions and saying I might need some help due to my failure to check for gas BEFORE leaving the station. I thought it was odd that there should be so much laughter in the background since they were all supposedly busy fighting a fire....That was when I saw the other units pulling out of the trees about a half a mile away. They pulled up out of breath from laughing and wiping tears form their eyes saying that my voice had seemed a few octaves higher than normal when I called for help.

Initially I thought I had been the victim of a practical joke....but it was much more than that. It was a good lesson...several good lessons actually. And a test. The boss said they put most rookies through this test to see if they were too proud to fess up and ask for help. Those that were willing to risk a serious fire to protect their ego were not asked back the next year.

The "Smokey Says" story reminded me of a fellow who happened to be a minor public official and therefore felt he was somewhat exempt from the law. He insisted in burning his trash in a barrel in his back yard despite the fact that doing so is illegal in our state and he had started several small fires over the previous few years. We had warned him, and cited him, and threatened him and foamed his barrel till it looked like a huge ice cream cone...all to no avail. We finally caught him burning one day when one of the contracted airtankers had to make a few proficiency drops. Since these drops were usually just water on plantations, the boss called in a airdrop on this guys burning barrel. I had binocs on the guy when he turned around to see what the heck was making that loud noise...as the bomber came in at tree level. Even from the side I could see his jaw bounce off his chest....right before the doors opened and his barrel went a** over teakettle.


Good ones. Ab.

07/12 Throw Away Planes:

Part Two is linked up from

07/12 From Firescribe:

Costs of fighting fire -- in case some theysaiders haven't see this one yet:

Forest Service official warns that massive wildfires could happen again:
"48 percent of projects designed to cut down trees in fire-prone areas to reduce
risks were delayed by appeals..."

Many online articles on the FireNews page. Ab.

07/12 Hello there.

I want to add a few comments about the shelter deployment in
Utah. I was in a Deployment last year on the Virginia Lake Complex in
Washington State. I too had to experience what they did. The winds on my
deployment were right around 65 mph. I noticed Golf Ball size embers coming
over me.

I can say it was like a Ocean wave. SO picture a wave: First the
sprinkles, then the front part of the wave and then the tail end of the wave.
SO I hope the Jumpers in Utah are ok and are goin to go back out and fight
fire. I was also wonder if the agency they work for brought in a CISD team
(Critical Incident Stress Debriefing). Thanks for the post and I passed it
along to a few of my friends.

Fight Fire
07/12 Enclosed is the 72 hr report from the entrapment at the Price Canyon Fire
in Utah, please insure it gets wide distribution within your fire
organization. Additionally, please note the findings as they pertain to
adjusting strategy and tactics in extreme fire conditions.

Safety Advisory

To read the Price Canyon Entrapment 72hr Report, click HERE. Any comments? Ab.

07/12 Ab, here's the preliminary report on events and circumstances surrounding deployment on the Bluecut Fire in SoCali last month.

Be Safe people,
SoCal Fireguy

To read this preliminary report, click HERE. There are important lessons to be learned from all such reports - so we can be safer in the future. Any comments? Ab.

07/12 MB --

Maybe you can go through AB to get directly to me on needing a small cache
software program. Don't want to do any "free" advertising on the site, but
I'll tell you stuff one on one that may be of help...............

Cache Queen
07/12 Story from decades ago.

Nightshift somewhere in California. Squad boss on my shot crew stepped
into the brush to relieve himself of some coffee. Suddenly, out of the
dark comes the scream of a panther or woman. He comes racing down the line
running from the yellow-jacket nest he had stood on.......fly still down.
At 6'2" and 220 lbs. he sobbed like a child, pausing only to admire the
swelling of the stung appendage.

Same squad boss some fires later..... awoke to see a dead coiled rattlesnake
(I had found) positioned inches from his head. Guinness book of records
might have listed his "sleepingbag-roll and inchworm" performance had that
category existed.......followed by my dexterity in staying out of reach
over the next week.


You are Bad, Bad, Bad. I assume it's been tit for tat. Ab.
07/12 Here's a couple of fun stories. There are millions of them.

My first trip out west... this goes back to 1994, I'm the EMT, and I go around to all the guys while we're waiting to mob and ask if they have any allergies or meds I should know about. I get to one guy, and he's telling me that he's on prozac. Now, I didn't just fall of the turnip shelf, but I don't wanna tick this guy off, so I play it straight. I ask him why... he says, "cuz i'm schizo". Well, for the rest of the trip that's just who he was... "schizo"

Ab, here's a good one that I'm not too sure I want to tell this group!

This only happened in 2000 at the Canyon Ferry Complex near Helena, MT. We were working the fire and pulled out our sack lunches. Anyone ever worked a fireline groaned when they read that line, i'm sure!

Anyway, I pull out my lunch, and I got the booby prize. The dreaded burritto!! Well, perhaps some like this pre-packaged intestinal smart bomb, but it's low on my list. Throw in the sliced jalapenos that were in a baggie, and it's a belly buster!

Well, the package was all wet... my whole sack lunch was wet.. and the items in my daypack were wet. I figured it was sweat, we were working pretty hard, and it was hot. So, I ate the cookies, and begged food off of everyone else.

That night, i'm laying in the cotton sleeping bag (we've all been there), and my back is all itchy... it's driving me nuts! So, being the medic I think I am, I figure it's just from all the sweating (that night I skipped the shower, and waited two hours for the phones instead). I flip over, and finally get to sleep.

I wake up the next morning, and my back is itching like mad.. I can't figure it out, I go out and work the line. By noon, my back is raw.. the pack is rubbing in just the wrong spots.

Finally, we get back into camp, I tuck in my pride and go to base medical. They ask me if I was walking around with my shirt off as it looks like I got a sunburn! I'm baffled, their baffled.. my buddy is so baffled, that he takes a picture. The burn is in the shape of my daypack... and then I start to think about that sack lunch.

THE JALEPENOS! Yep... the juice from those peppers leaked out over my lunch, into my pack and eventually through my yellows. I got a burn fighting fires from jalepenos. Luckily, my buddy has it all on film.

What category would that picture go in, Ab???

Another story, same fire, we were riding in our school bus to the drop point when we lost the hub cover on the bus. Luckily we had a mechanic on our crew, he takes the bladder out of a bladder bag, and uses a leatherman to unscrew the hub cover, and replace the broken piece with the vinyl piece from the bladder bag. Pretty smart, we were tempted to break the other three wheels so we could ditch a couple more bladder bags!

Another time we were sent to Texas with our engines as a strike team. They flat-bedded the engines down and flew us a day later. We land in the Waco Airport and we're sitting around waiting for our ride to the motel. Not having been out of state with the engines before, i'm thinking they put you up in some dive!

We're joking that this ritzy hotel on a small billboard in the airport is where we'll stay. Pool, jacuzzi, and continental breakfast all sound too good to be true. Joking around, I point to a room on the terrace above the pool, and say, "that's my room!".

Wouldn't you know it... that's is where we stayed!?!?! Who know being an engine slug would be so comfy! It should be mandatory that there be a jacuzzi at each fire camp....ahhhhh....to dream!

One of my favorite stories is when a camp I was at in Utah got burned over, and we only had two days til demob. Rather than have us set up in the new camp, and then demob the next day, they put us up in Pendleton at the National Guard Armory for R&R for two days.

Free shuttle van 24/7 into Pendleton. We went in to town (wearing our nomex, who knew we'd need anything else! Our contract doesn't give us any R/R days), went in to this honky tonk, and immediately knew we were in trouble.

Here we are, a group of easterners, and we walk into a country western bar on Karioke night!!!! Well, we walked in and every head turned.

So, we settle in at the bar, and do what good firefighters do in bars. After a few...uhhh... let's just say root beers, we get the nerve to do a song as a group. Lets see....what song should we pick????

Well, we were all a bit homesick, so in this honky tonk, we chose, "New York, New York". Leg kicks and all.

We made quite a stir, and after we were done, the applause was deafening. We didn't have to pay for another..ahem...root beer, the rest of the night!

The fun started when one of us, to remain nameless, uh... falls asleep... in the mens room at the armory when we got back from the honky tonk. The cleaning women starts screaming at 4 a.m. that there is a dead guy in the mens room and wakes up the two hundred firefighters sleeping in the armory bays. Ahh...that was funny. Or the other firefighter (same night) with the uh....stomach bug...yea, that's it... who loses it into his sleeping bag repeatedly...

Hope to be out west soon! Rumor is we'll be available around the 22nd of July!

Doc Moleskin

Good stories, Doc Moleskin. Glad yer still with us. Ab.

07/12 ab,
Just got home from the 30-mile site. It was an experience, I'm glad that I went.
It's nice to see that they did something for my former coworker, friend and
07/11 These were sent to me from Bill Jannisch
Tanker drop was taken on the South part of the Hayman
fire, CO


Spectacular. I put it on the AirTanker 5 photo page. Wow. Ab.
07/11 BLM = Bureau of Lame Mules
CDF= Cold Drinks and Food, California Doughnut Farmers

Here's a couple of stories for ya, on a fire on the CNF we were pulling night shift and were parked in a big clearing on a ridge. We proceeded to convince the rookie on the crew that the rest of us were secretly working for the CIA, and the reason we were no where near the fire is because this spot was a secret UFO landing site. The rookie bought it and still believed us after we all started laughing.

On another CNF fire are area to work in was next to a turkey farm and the heat from the fire cooked a whole lot of them, so there were these dumpsters filled with dead turkeys. The smell and flies were terrible. When lunch came around we had to eat in the engine to escape the flies. Some one had left a window open so the engine was filled with flies. I'll never forget looking across the back seat of the engine and seeing the guy on the other side, sandwich in one hand and smashing flies all over the window with the other hand. I guess you had to be there.

07/11 Cache Queen,
Thanks for clearing up the question in regards to the shelter deployment in Utah.

Here are a couple statements some of the guys on our crew used to insinuate "taking a dump":

"I've got to deploy a load of Jumpers"


"I feel a slurry load coming on"

2nd Generation IHC Supt
07/11 re: Ab


AB, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. This fire is burning in grass and
tules five miles south of Willows, CA. Personnel are patrolling and
mopping up.
     NAME      |  |    |      |CTN| CTN |PERS |   |   |    |LOSS|C-T-D
AB             |CA| SWR|   750| 90|  UNK|   62|  2|  9|   0|   0|   NR
So who named THAT one, huh?

Hummmmmmm, very interesting. Ab.

07/11 I need help with my cache! Our park has a 30-man cache as well a 4
engines. Soon I'll be helping 2 smaller parks to oversee their caches. Does
anyone know of good software I can use to track all this stuff? A simple
spreadsheet and binder isn't cutting it anymore.

07/11 To the sweeper:

Just to set the record straight.....there is an on-going investigation for
the shelter deployment by the jumpers in UT -- the preliminary 72 hr.
report is done, and has been recommended for widespread distribution. A
final report will be forthcoming within the week. I'm guessing there may
be a sense of "preferential treatment" from the troops regarding
investigations -- in this case -- all above board. Look for the
dissemination of info soon!

Also -- another term -- boy does all this bring back memories. After last
week's huge t-storm activity in NW, ID, UT, etc., I awoke from my stupor
---- and there I was surrounded by thousands of "water dogs." Looked like
an initial attack nightmare, but after having chased many of the dogs in my
time, was able to accurately identify.

Water dog -- steam rising from the timber after a wet t-storm that has sent
many a smokechaser on a wild goose chase, as it can easily be confused for
a "real" smoke......

Cache Queen
07/11 Another one from Firescribe:

Prisoner chicks:


We have a photo of women inmates working a hillside in Ventura Co near Ojai on the Fire 5 photo page (Ventura Rx). Their burnout may have reduced fire expansion on the recent Wolf Fire. Ab.

07/11 A story about being new to fire.

There were 3 or 4 of us rookies on a strike team of engine crews. One of the funnier things that happened to one of the other rookies occurred a couple of days after some burnout operations and mopup when things had gotten slow on the fire. The engine boss told the rookie to get out the green flagging and flag all of the trees that were still alive so that they wouldn't be taken out when the forest was cleaned up. That provided at least a couple hours of entertainment, especially when he had to go back and retrieve all of the flagging when he finally figured out what was going on.

Observer 11

Ah, flagging stories...

07/11 Re: lack of FS funding

I heard yesterday that temp and seasonal employees already hired can
stay on. But purchases for tools and gear for them are frozen, and they
can't get any overtime. Can someone verify this??


07/11 From Firescribe:

Another memorial anniversary - Thirtymile: www.king5.com/localnews/stories/NW_071002WABforestfire.67ce6738.phpl

House Invites Aussie Hotshots to Help Douse U.S. Wildfires. (Seems like a mis-use of the term hotshot? Maybe Aussie Fire Managers would have been a better choice.)

Forest Service Freezes Funds

Freezing of funds does not bode well for the near future. Lots of regular Forest Service work, including environmental work, will grind to a halt. Should put up some signs in the campgrounds that need repair that there's a money shortage and the Public should call their congress people. Ab.

07/11 Story:

The IR crew I was on was dispatched to a fire on an adjacent district. The fire was about 3 acres, back in there a ways and two guys from the district had been there a good chunk of the day and needed help. We were being flown in, but it was hot and high altitude and they could only carry two of us at a time. Dave and I were the first load and had instructions to tie in with the district guys - who, by the way, had a bum radio and hadn't been heard from for a while - and begin scouting the fire and have a plan ready when the rest of the guys got there.

The fire was on the east side of a ridge just below timberline and the wind was out of the west popping over the ridge and starting to push the fire down hill toward some logging slash. We were in the goat rocks above the fire getting our bearings, when out of nowhere a tanker roars over. We then hear dispatch tell the tanker that no one was on the fire and do an IA run on it. We dial up our high tech "packset radio" and get nobody. No matter, we are up wind away from the head of the fire, no problem. Gotta get a pic, so I dug in my pack for my camera, Dave was digging for his. Around comes the tanker - cool! - wow! looks like he is going to drop across the head we are gonna get a great pic! Wups gotta turn on the light meter! Hurry he's coming in. Wow kinda looks like he heading straight at us? Can't be, no reason to drop across the top of the fire, no fuel, can't go up hill. Yup he is coming at us, first pass is a dry run right, damn gotta get it focused on infinity, Dave yells S@@# door open! So down we go, heads toward the plane no time to do it right cause I was gonna get the pic! Pink stuff, this is gonna be great! Snap-down. Splotch! the world goes pink! Thump! Durn Dave must of jumped on my back! That kinda hurts. And its cold and slimey! That sucked. Dave eloquent as ever s$#$, F#$%. Slowly we get up. Arms, legs, fingers - yup all accounted for. Dave "did you get the picture?" Yup You? You bet ! Bout this time we hear some laughing. Here are the two district guys who came up the hill pointing at the ground. Here's this nice pink pattern were two human silhouettes. We had to laugh cause it was kinda funny looking, then I took a step slipped in the pink snot, down I went and that hurt too.

Well we did the job, put the fire out, saved forest one more time. Oh and the picture? I never did get the light meter turned on and it was over exposed. Could see just enough to see it would have been a geat pic, a classic! Damn if Daves didn't come out tho, and it was a classic...............


Like the fish that got away? Ab.

07/11 Ab, trying to prompt us to provide more grist for his mill, suggested a number of subjects for our amusing anecdotes:

OK, I'll bite. 'while back, our CDF Crew Strike Team Captains were unable to procure single rooms at the Motel (Motel Unit Leader had an attitude), and two of my colleagues had to bunk together. One was a heavy snorer, and the other a light sleeper. Damn near came to fisticuffs. And just a few days ago, had to stay at at a Best Western in Lompoc where the coffee maker didn't work, and the damned shower kept changing from hot to warm and back again. It was enough to make a grown man cry.

My first year as a Crew Captain (I think - it was about 1990 or 1991) we were assigned to a fire on the ANF, and, IIRC, it was Big Bear where we got our Motel rooms. The fire was considerably further down the mountain, and the morning we got off our 24-hour (more like 36) hour shift we all piled into our Dodge van and wheeled our way up the mountain on this tortuous highway with sheer cliffs and bottomless canyons, often on each side, and one hairpin curve after another. Our driver's nickname was "Parnelli". Anyway, we arrived safely and had a few hours sleep, and were all in the van again at 0500 in order to get to the 0600 briefing. "Parnelli" started the engine and headed for the parking lot exit, and before we had traveled 50 feet the right front wheel literally fell off the vehicle. A castellated nut on the steering arm had disappeared, and the wheel just fell flat onto the driveway ...........................

Shifting gears to another category: Oncet (an amusing colloquialism, don't you think?), several of us were sitting around IB at a large fire up North, and one of us happened to glance up. He had time to say "Look!" and we all looked up to see an orange dot in the sky getting larger and larger. About two seconds later a full banjo impacted the ground about thirty feet away and exploded. Turned out it had fallen from a Sky Crane at maybe 2000' AGL...... I think it was the same incident (or maybe not) where a female pilot of a Type III 'copter had her tennis shoes fall out the side door, prompting a grounding and full FAA investigation.

Again, when I was quite new as a Crew Captain, so it was back in the early 90's, my CDF Inmate/Firefighter Handcrew, for three years or so, was the Helitack component of a USFS Helicopter. A USFS foreman flew in the right seat, and my Crew (seven of them, as my short Crew was divided in half to provide 7-day a week coverage), and I, sat in the back two rows. This was an ad-hoc arrangement due to USFS budget cutbacks. Anyway, flying into a fire near Fort Hunter Ligget, we were looking for a landing spot to dump me and my Crew, and we all happened to glance up at just the moment the sun glinted off the large high-tension power lines we had just flown under. Yes, the pilot was as startled as were we. So much more to tell, but, in the immortal words of Donald Duck, That's all for now.

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande

07/10 OK a few highlights from the trek:

Our driver rear-ended the other bus, failed brakes she said, bad driving the
hwy patrolman said. (Tested ok after the incident.)
But the cool part was K-mart. When the manager heard we were stranded in
her parking lot for the day she arranged a tv/vcr in the restaurant and
invited us to sit inside and watch movies and enjoy drinks until the
replacement bus arrived. Very nice. I was on the clock and watching Dumb
and Dumber. It doesnt get any better!!!
After that, every vehicle we had seemed to break or fail, so we cringed when
they said helicopter ride to the top of the ridge.... All went well though. Phew.

Some prankster put a rubber snake in the crew boss's bed roll.
The boss responded by zip-tying the same prankster into his tent.
The prankster placed a wooden "schlong" (see "part of the male anatomy")
in the boss's baggage which was found during the hand search at the airport.

These were the highlights as I remember them,

07/10 Ab, please Post this:

This is an addition to the PocketCard web page that includes a very basic explanation of the PocketCards -- what they are intended to do, and what they are not intended to do.There is also a link here with a definition of Burning Index (BI), Energy Release Component (ERC), a Burning Index/Fire Behavior Cross Reference, and Explanations of Fire Danger Adjective Ratings.

There's also a special page set up at
to provide PocketCard briefings, developed by the Fire Danger Working Team.

07/10 Slow fire year in SW Montana in 1964 or 65. The smoke jumpers in Missoula were not getting
firefighting hours. The Line Creek fire near Yellowstone started and crews were sent in. The
weather was too extreme (windy) for the jumpers to jump so, evidently to get them some hours
and more experience, they were bussed in.

Conversation at camp on their arrival:

"The jumpers just got here."
"Yeah. Bussed 'em in."
"Yeah. They hopped off the bus and did a ground roll."

For a while jumpers were "hoppers", at least behind their back.(=:

Another term perhaps not used any more:
"Humping it" or "Hump it" i. e. walking, especially with a pack and/or equipment.

Example: We will be trucked to the end of the road then "hump it" to the fireline.

The highest priority is: everybody comes back.


Good story, anyone got others to amuse us? This Ab wouldn't mind hearing some more funny ones like the two about dousing the illegal campfire. Remember that thread we had once upon a time about the blue rooms in fire camp - that was fun.

Ideas: What about bears, rattlers, scorpions, other pests, shortages of food or equipment in fire camp or while spiked out? Getting dunked while crossing a river? Watching your gear float downstream. Strange beds? Strange bedfellows? Snore'rs. The time you didn't sleep. The Safety. Fine people you have met while fighting fire? The true story of the woman resident who was offering free backrubs as a motivator and thank you on that norcal complex? The family who offered their cabin floor? The weirdest food you've ever eaten. The food you wished you hadn't eaten. The time you didn't eat. Saving that important barn, expensive interface house, historical outhouse, woodpile or sacred tree. Blisters and poison oak. Remedies. Chants the hotshots sang out before the days of PC police. Experiences in the smoke. The variety of firefighters and support staff in firecamp? The biggest ego. Unspoken firecamp rules. Spoken ones.

Your first fire experience, seduced by fire, hooked on fire. (You can create a new moniker any time you like. <HAW HAW>) Fire tools that break. Standing in line for the one firecamp phone? For a shower? The firecamp from hell. Your best firecamp experience. Camp crud, do we all get it? The redflag warning weather that never came? the weather that did? the weather we didn't hear about and what happened next? Your coldest night? hottest day? Jumping into the black, retreating in front of the flames. Crews that practice that and dropping their equipment. Your closest call? The biggest cluster. Getting spammed by the AT. Best prank on a newbie, on your crewmate, on the DIVS or camp overhead? People you got attached to just hearing them over the scanner.

A story you've never told anyone. Smelly sox, shirts? The most colorful crew carrier driver? The weirdest. Crew rituals.

Or on a more serious note: a favorite mentor and what they taught you, rescuing the mule that fell off the wilderness trail, saving someone who got hurt or could have gotten hurt, a story of someone who went the extra mile, who made all the difference?

We all have these stories. If anyone wants to tell them, we could make a list of those, too.


07/10 Hey Flash!
I never got the scoop on how the two Fla. crew busses collided. ??? Saw
them banging out some dents in the parking lot in Richfield.
Stay safe!
07/10 Hello All,
Re Jumper deployment:

From the "I Was There" diary: 3 jumpers deployed shelters to shield them from "ash and embers" while working on the fire in question. However, this did not warrant an "official investigation" on deployment. Hmm...... Be careful out there !!!

" The Sweeper"
07/10 From Firescribe:

Measures to protect foreign firefighters from lawsuits

07/10 Here are a few terms and sayings that have been poked around the fire world
for a few years.

Saddle up - Break's over, "Let's get going."
Water Lily - Engine personnel.
Pounder - Handcrew member.
Start Digging - Wake up. Another saying that works, "Drop your @#$% and
grab your socks, lets move."
Knuckle Dragger - A genuine firefighter who has the knowledge and has
developed the abilities to beat on the Dragon. In short, a damn good
Landing Queens - Burn Boss/Prescribed Fire Manager and groupies.
Fuels Geek (said with humor) - Fuels Officer or Specialist.
Nif Nerd - Fire Planner.

Fire Goy
07/10 hey ab,
Well I just returned from my first western detail. Very kewl.
We took three florida teams and two tennessee teams and for the most part
kept them together on the Sanford fire in Utah and the RattleSnake Complex
in Utah and Colorado.
At 11,000 feet the air was thin and dusty, but after a few days we adapted
just fine.
We did have a couple people drop out because of illness, but no major
injuries, so it was a pretty good trip.

I owe a debt of thanks to this site for the tips I have gleaned and also to
Gene, Gabe, Rich and all the other experienced guys on the crew who gave
advice on the trip.

I look forward to the next trip out.

Thanks for the Voice;

Flash in Florida
07/10 30 Mile
hey everyone a year since I lost my cousin .. And a year and a month and I
had to go thru my shelter deployment.. Take time out of your day to say
thanks your not choosing to go.. It will be rough on all the familys cause
we are goin to the memorial for them.. May GOd watch your back on the fires
.. thanks Fight fire 75
07/09 Fireidaho,

In the context of ICS, there actually is no such thing as a helishot, the
proper ICS terminology is "fly crew" or "flight crew" (reference the Field
Operations Guide). The primary mission of the flight crew is initial attack.
Large fire support is secondary. The first crews were formed in the 1970's
with the increased use of Type II helicopters. There are numerous flight
crews around now in Region 5, thanks to MEL and the National Fire Plan. The
largest flight crew in the US is based at Arroyo Grande on the Los Padres
NF, it currently has 27 firefighter/rappellers flying in a Sikorsky S-61N
helicopter and is certified as a Type 1 hand crew. There are crews with up
to 14-21 people, but they are assigned to smaller Type II helicopters. The
size of the crew allows for 7 day coverage with a maximum of personnel. Most
flight crews operate with Bell 212 and Bell 212HP ( High Performance ), Big
Hill on the Eldorado uses a Bell 214 and there is a crew on the Shasta
Trinity that uses a Sikorsky S-58T. This is just some introductory info,
more later. Should "helishot" be added to the ICS vocabulary? lets hear some

07/09 The Jobs Page, Job Series 0462 and Series 0455 Pages are updated.

We have a new photo on our Home page. It's a nice one of the Ponil Fire raging in the Cimmaron NM area. We added the photo to the Wallpaper photo page also. New wallpaper anyone? Our thanks to Mike Holzer.

07/09 Hi Ab,
This pic is of the 33 Fire in Fresno County. It had a sustained wind of
approx. 35 mph on it. The fire was on the west side of the valley and burned
150 acres. This "road" was no place for a Type 1 engine! We backed out
shortly after the photo was taken. By the way, this was the head of the fire;
we were lead in by an oil field company employee as the fire occurred on
Chevron property. Cause was down power lines due to high wind.
Captain Emmett

Thanks Capt E. I put it on the Fire 11 photo page. Ab.
07/09 Hi, I have attached a Logo for our Fire Management Program. California State Parks Fire Management. Thanks for allowing us to ad our Logo to your collection. So Cal Fire Mgmt Coordinator, Frank Padilla, Jr.

Thanks, nice one. I put it on Logo 5. Ab.
07/09 This is interesting reading from the fire news page. The Chicago Ridge Fire. That area of Colorado is steep and rugged, the place where the 10th Mt Division trained some years ago. Fire in and around unexploded munitions... No air tankers allowed because they might get blown out of the sky... Glad they're not letting firefighters in there...


07/09 More fire terms:

One I remember working up in Humboldt County in '87 during a swarm of
lighting strikes. When a U.S.F.S crew bus pulled up and disgorged a motley
looking assortment of bearded, bandanaed, filthy firefighters, my CDF
engineer looked up and said well the U.S. Forest Circus is in town. Well,
that one has stuck with me over the decades. There is also the assortment
of names we called the HFEO, heavy fire equipment operators, aka. dozer
drivers, tread heads, rock rollers, and then my favorite all the ones with
four letters in the name. Has anyone else had the pleasure of being a new
firefighter and getting the directive to get the files and "sharpen the
DOZER blade because it's to dull to cut." I, in my infinite wisdom asked
"how dumb do you think I am", to which was the reply get the
#$%^ file and get out to the dozer. Well I out smarted them, I was the cook
that day and basically asked what kind of poison do you want for dinner,
needless to say I didn't have to work to long on the dozer blade.

07/09 Fire Pros,

I am fascinated by the language you all use. Today, I found a sentence re a
Type I crew that would "coyote" and work most of the day . . . . Images come
to mind: laying low, lurking, slinking, attacking and retreating, tails down,
tongues dripping with saliva, a dead run to chase the chickens (flames). Or,
does it mean something else instead?

Shot's Mom

Take a look at the FIRE Terms/Nicknames. Ab.
07/09 First off, I'd like to say that you site has provided insight into the world which we seldom see trapped in the cabs of our engines, or in the confines of fire camp. It is a great resource for learning what is really going on out in the "world".

I was wondering if you had any information on Helishots? To my knowledge there is only one crew out there in R5. Where are they? When was the first Helishot crew formed? What kind of ship do they fly? Are the standards different from a regular shot crew? What is the practicality of a Helishot crew? Start up cost? My foreman sent me out on this research, and I figured you were probably the best source. He would like some info, because he wants to start a Helishot crew up here in Idaho. Thanks for your time, and your website.


P.S. Idaho is prime and ready to burn, the single trees are really itching to get up and go. We had to use a tanker to slow one down today because it poked it's little head up into the tree's and started to run away.

Browse our Arroyo Grande Flight Crew page and take a look at its description page. That will give you a starting place. Readers? Ab.

07/09 Has anyone heard of the investigation into the Price Canyon fire in Utah regarding some Jumper's pulling shelters? All I have heard is rumor, but I do know this incident did in fact happen. I don't want to start "hear say", I just thought there should have at least been a preliminary report out by now. It has been over a week, maybe even 10 days, since the incident.

2nd Generation IHC Supt.
07/09 Mellie,

CDF and USFS firefighters as well as Incident Command Teams use both methods. Agency has nothing to do with it. The fire conditions dictate the methods to be utilized not the agency. Both agencies are very good at it, however my experience is Hot Shot crews are best suited for firing operations on indirect sections of line. The crew composition is more conducive to this operation.

CDF Jake
07/08 Mellie,

Unless I'm terribly mistaken, at Storm King the crews were going direct - they
got hooked. The crew at 30 Mile was going direct - they retreated in front
of the fire and got cut off. At Mann Gulch, the jumpers hadn't even started
working on the fire, they were trying to get to the flank or toe but got
hooked - so they weren't going indirect. I'm not sure about the Loop Fire,
but I think the crews were going direct and they got hooked as they crossed a

But that doesn't answer your question. And I don't know if more people have
been killed going direct vs. indirect. In my experience, going direct is
generally safe as long as you're bringing black with you - if you get out in
front of a rager or get hooked when the line is really hot then you can be
hosed. And indirect is safe as long as you have a decent retreat to a good
safety zone. I think the real question shouldn't be whether direct or
indirect is safer, but rather WHERE THE HELL IS MY SAFETY ZONE?
If you have a good safety zone, then direct vs. indirect is kind of moot.

07/08 We received notice from Pat Andrews, Research Scientist at the Fire
Sciences Lab in Missoula, MT that the new Wildand Fire Assessment System
(WFAS) page has been updated and replaces the old one.
Check it out at www.fs.fed.us/land/wfas/.

The RAWS Team
07/08 Good Post FireBill,
It reminded me of a very similar incident that I had (many, many) years ago that I must relate. I beg your indulgence Ab:

Got a call on my day off to investigate a report of an abandoned campfire in a dispersed CG that had a fire closure in place. It must have pulled me away from something important such as grilling steaks or watching a game, as I remember being a little torqued as I drove the engine out.

Arriving, I find an occupied camping area with a blazing fire (they had piled on a large amount of firewood) going and no one around. It was on a small lake so I assumed the campers were out fishing. There were several “no campfire” signs posted at the site.

I turned on the pump and set the foam unit at shave cream setting and dispensed an 18” – 24” layer on the fire, the large stack of firewood and the rest of the general area. It looked like a winter landscape. As I waited for the occupants to return, I gave everything another layer, just for good measure.

The Jeep Cherokee parked nearby had a very dirty back window, so I left the morons the following message fingered in the dirt:

“Smokey says, no f__king campfires!” with an angry Smokey head underneath the note.

After getting back I thought that might not have been so smart, but fortunately, I never heard anything about it.

07/08 Good Morning All,
I have a few questions...

I saw that FireWolf added going direct vs going indirect (some more serious terms) to the Fire terms and nicknames list. I got a taste of the reality of these two approaches on the Big Bar Complex and in FF1 we learned the benefits and dangers of both methods. The CDF capt who organized and led the FF1 class said that CDF often fights fire using the direct method while the FS uses the indirect method. Is this true in general? I know many large fires must employ the indirect method because of size and extent of the fire and the topography, but I've seen the FS go direct on IA, sometimes with air support. When CDF manages large fires do they employ more direct methods than fed teams managing large fires? Seems going direct you'd have to be very sure of winds/weather, but maybe these issues are very present in awareness and are more consciously mitigated because of the proximity of the flames.

Another question: Have more firefighters died while fighting fire indirectly than on direct attack? 30-mi, Storm King, Loop, Decker, Mann Gulch and Rattlesnake (?) to name a few that were indirect. (Did anyone ever get the details on the Rattlesnake? Was that indirect? I seem to recall the religious group was not directly on the fire.) Well, just some questioons I had over the last week --prompted by the smell of smoke in the air.

We had lots of smoke in the New River valley just before the 4th. ATs over head and the whump whump whump of a heavy helicopter. Deja vu. Found out later that Hoopa was burning, but maybe there was some other closer start on the 2nd. I'm curious whether there was a start on New River. Whatever... It's hot and dry in NorCal.

FireBill, amazing story. Why am I not surprised?
As far as the CDF-FS rivalry, all I can say is I love you all!

Be Safe,

  A July 3 update on Grayback policy from lagrandeobserver.com:
Contractor stops using vans after fatal crash

Memorial Services, reports from a week ago:
Large Crowd Remembers Shirley
He Had a Job He Would Not Have Traded

More stories and photos here: www.lagrandeobserver.com/news/section.cfm?cid=1


07/08 Proof that we will always have jobs... (I actually witnessed this conversation)

Act I, Scene 1, set in a VERY dry National Forest campground somewhere in Colorado...

FPO: Sir, were you aware that there are absolutely no fires allowed in this National Forest at this time?

Camper: Yeah, I saw the sign, I didn't think it was important.

FPO: Were you aware that all fire violations come with a MANDATORY appearance before a Fed. magistrate?

Dumbass (oops, I meant "Camper"): I read something like that on your bulletin board... can you just hurry up and give me my ticket so I can get back to my campfire?

Segue to engine crew extinguishing said fire with a nice mix of 1% foam, and then breaking apart adjacent collected firewood and soaking it with same solution. Zoom in on impish grins on faces of Engine Foreman and crew as they stir the fire pit and take great care to "pre-treat" all of the adjacent firewood.

(probably not) The End

Watch out for yourselves and each other,
07/08 RE: CDF Mike's Post:

Spot on with the CDF MKU kitchen and crew! Perfect reason why you don't order one of those for a small feed. That was one of the biggest problems with feeding at federal shows, they shut them down when the national caterer comes on scene after one or two meals. Everything is added up and divided by the number of meals served to get the "average meal cost."

Once you get them in place, leave those MKU's there. Good food and the average will come out close to the nationals if you work it right.

"Another CDF BC"

07/08 Ab opined; << Unless I'm mistaken, the CDFers among us know this is not personal, dontcha, guys and gals? >>

Re: "Dennis's" post - (thanks for the kind words, Dennis). Maybe I missed something, but the only RECENT slurs against we CDFers have been in good humor and no offense taken. I WILL say that from my own personal perspective, USFS personnel often seem to have an attitude about us, which is easily dispelled by pre-empting it with a few friendly greetings and performing up to Type-1 expectations. On any particular assignment, their initial reticence soon turns to camaraderie.

Hey! Do you know what the fire-rectangle is? Fuel, Oxygen, Heat, USFS.

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande
07/08 Here is another term,

CDF- Can't Dig Fireline

CDF Mike, don't get your panties in bunch over this one, it's all in fun.

07/07 SoCalCapt~
Stopped by your station today to see if you were in, but they said you don't
come back until Tuesday. What time do you usually leave the station in the
morning? We can either stop by or call before you leave.
07/07 Hi fellow fire fighters!

Just got back from the Missionary Ridge fire in southwest Colorado. It's was extremely dry down there. The fire made sum extreme runs in the afternoon. So, keep your heads up and don't get to relaxed out there because, it could come up on you when you're not looking. We don't need anymore deaths this year. so be safe.


07/07 BLM = Bureau of Livestock & Mining

07/07 FINE story here by Judd Slivka:

It begins:

Rick Lupe was leaning on the hood of his ash-stained silver pickup, his black baseball cap pulled low over his forehead and his dark eyes blazing out of brown sunglasses.

Lupe, a division supervisor on the "Rodeo-Chediski" fire, was running a part of the fireline that was crucial not only to this city's survival but also to other towns.

His dark eyes were blazing that day not because of the smoke in the air, but because there was fire on the wrong side of Snake Ridge. If the fire spilled down there, it could...
Well worth the read.
07/07 We've gotten some more photos up.

Some from the Hayman Fire from J. Foster, Highlands 26 are on Fire 11 and Handcrews 5. There's one more from Scott Bello of a spotter plane on Air Tanker 5. Sean sent in one of two Krassalians rappelling from waaaaaaaay up there on Helicopters 7 and Afsaneh sent in a photo of a huge all terrain vehicle spewing foam that I put on Equipment 4. Don't forget to read the descriptions. Happy browsing.


07/07 To R6FF,
Let me know what you need. I have a little bit of everything. I could scan and
send it email.. What part of R6 are you from?

Ab would be willing to pass it on.
07/07 From Firescribe:

Service honors Oregon firefighter

Forest Fires Burn in Northern Quebec

07/07 re: spot weather forecast forms

See link from yesterday for the fire weather units in R5. They still work.

07/07 Despite my protestations, my Crew and I were assigned to assist with our Cuesta Camp CDF Mobile Kitchen Unit at the "Powerhouse" Fire near Springville (near Porterville) in California. Ordered up in the mid-morning of 5 July, the entourage arrived at I.B. (almost 200 miles of HOT interior valley driving) at 1700. This 60-acre (admittedly gnarly) fire was under control, and the ordering authority wanted meals for 300-350 at 1800. We had the hot meals (steak with plenty of fixins) ready just over 2 hours after arrival. The total commitment included at least (I may be forgetting some items): The large MKU and tractor, a large private-tractor-hauled Support Unit trailer, my Fire Crew in our Crew-Buggy (17 men plus me), the Food Support Unit Leader (a Battalion Chief in his vehicle), our CDF stake-side with additional necessary equipment, a 10-passenger CDF Van with 10 additional Inmate "Grade-Ineligible" (AKA "Gray Dirigibles" - non-fire-qualified Inmate Cooks and other specialized-function people), three highly-compensated (and very competent) portal-to-portal Cal. Dept. of Corrections officers in another van, the "Free" (not incarcerated) CDC cook, a 60-foot private contractor reefer unit, HUGE electrical generator trailor unit, potable water truck, high-pressure, hot-water cleaning trailer, several assorted additional private units, two other CDF Captains (one driving the MKU tractor, and also required to supervise half of my Crew and half of the Gray Dirigibles for the PM operational period), and one newbie Captain for training and also to drive the Class-B Drivers License required stakeside). And, oh, yes, the Food Unit Leader insisted (reasonably, in light of driving rules, passenger-endorsements, our litigious society and etc.) that the three Captains take Motel rooms during the night of 5 July. I got to the Motel at 2000 and left at 0330, and the other two Captains were there from 2400 to 0900).We served dinner that night, and breakfast the next morning, then were demobed and subsequently drove back, returning to Camp by 1800 6 July. My WAG (wild-ass-guess) is that each meal cost $75-$100 per person. Sack lunches for July 6 were provided by a local vendor.

At one time in the distant past we were a "lean-and-mean" firefighting outfit.

On another topic:

"The Jurassic Captain" scribbled: <<I've always used M.I.S.T. to describe USFS suppression efforts "Maximum Income Suppression Tactics" The Jurassic Captain>>

The limitations of e-correspondence notwithstanding (I don't know if Jurassic had his tongue in his cheek or what), this type of statement tends to steam my clams. I am CDF, not USFS, and on occasion I hear my CDF colleagues make this same sort of statement regarding Brand-X (USFS - : ) ). I am not a naive person, but I have absolutely no doubt at all that very nearly 100% of the firefighting personnel in all wildland firefighting agencies do their absolute best to extinguish fires in the most expeditious and competent manner possible. For most of us there is more than enough fire to keep us occupied and employed, and for nearly all of us there is the necessity to know that we are professionals doing the best job we can. I think you would have to search long and hard to find an instance of an employee of any wildland fire agency deliberately attempting to prolong a fire for personal income (unless you were utilizing the national News media, which can focus in with extreme resolution on individual cases). In particular, I think that the USFS has a long and proud tradition of excellence in the face of public indifference and fiscal penury. I admire the USFS as a firefighting outfit which is much better than the taxpayers should expect for their meager expenditure in wages. Now, bureaucratic inefficiency is an area where improvements could certainly be made.............
CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande

Have you been following our posts as we've been creating our humorous list of FIRE Terms/Nicknames? Jurassic Captain was just adding another acronym meaning for M.I.S.T.

Hey Readers, don't go gettin' PC and bent twisted on us now. This "terms" thread is all in fun.

07/07 Here's a good NYT article on the benefits of fuel treatment in the forest, with reference to the Hayman Fire. Everyone, you have to have a no-cost signup account to read it, but very worthwhile.
Idea of Fighting Fire With Fire Wins Converts

Here's another from my search from the Arizona Tribune about who blocked the AZ forest pretreatment where the Rodeo Fire burned:
Green Group Lawsuit Blocked Forest Thinning

I hope we can get past finger pointing and get on with the work of mitigating heavy fuel loadings in our forests, especially near interface communities for a start.

Tahoe Terrie

07/07 On May 28th, Assembly Bill 1748 -- the bill to extend death benefits to the families of tanker pilots -- passed the CA Assembly unanimously (79 to 0). It is now in the Senate Appropriations Committee where it will be heard in
August 2002. If you're a California resident, please let your state senators know you support it. Here's the link to contact information for your senators. ( www.senate.ca.gov/ )

07/07 Well I have not had time to get on and see whats been going on lately. Been out pretty steady since May 1st. Just got back from the Missionary Ridge fire last week.

I was wondering if anyone out there knew if there was a web site where I could obtain copies of the spot weather forecast forms? My personal Belt weather kit is out and I need to replace them.

Thanks, hope all are well and be safe!

07/07 hey all,

we lost 3 of our structural brothers from the county i came from in nj. they died trying to save 3 kids in a house fire. i knew all of them personally. we are in a dangerous profession. doesnt matter if we are fighting wildland fire or structural fire. we are all in this together. every death in the fire fighting community should hurt us all. every death should bring us together tighter. look after your own. you may not know the fire fighter next to you but still look out for them. its the only way we can get home to our love ones.

BC Davis
07/06 I hope this kind of "Remembrance and Safety Stand-down" -- a tribute to and remembrance of those who died at Storm King -- is happening on wildland fires around the United States today.

May we never forget.
May we recommit ourselves to safety on the fireline.


Please take time to link to this and join in a moment of silence.

NorCal Tom

For those of you having trouble getting into the www.r5.fs.fed.us websites, try entering from our links page, federal (then click National Interagency Incident Management Teams, and CIIMT 1) or... try it from the Fires, 2002 page (go down to Utah, Rattle Complex, then "Honor and Awareness" in the lower left).

Evidently some people are able to enter through a long-standing link but when they try to enter using the url alone, it will not work. On a dinosaur computer at a neighbor's house, I just tried getting to the site sent in by NorCal Tom, above, and it worked. I could also access the site from Fires, 2002, but I couldn't do it by just putting the url in the location window. Must be some new security codes in place on that R5 website. Strange. Ab.

07/06 An observation on the radio situation I have seen from the last few fires.

Radios from the Boise fire cache (NIRSC) are in short supply and are being rationed. The number and size of fires has stretched resources thin. Do not expect to be able to check a radio out if you show up at a fire without your own.

The condition of radios I have seen have ranged from new GPHs to falling apart LPHs. Forest Service regulations state that radios are to be disposed of when they are 10 years old, LPHs are at least 15 years old. They are good radios when in good condition, but wear and tear reduce their usefulness.

If I was to be sent out on the line with an old LPH radio that I might need as my only lifeline to help, I would think the person handing me the radio did not really care about my personal safety.

Most of the radios that I have repaired at incidents are looking like they have not had annual maintenance performed on them (another FS reg). Freq error too far off, deviation not set right, blown speakers, rubber switch boots worn, PTT boots ripped, the list goes on. Remember your life could depend on that radio.

My personal rant on the subject. In the Forest Service, radio takes a backseat to computer data and telephones. Office managers are more concerned about getting daily office work done than providing safe communications in the field. I figure a failure of the computer network is only a minor inconvenience compared to a failure of the radio system that is the only communications out in the woods. A technician's time should be spent maintaining and improving the radio system.

In Region 6 (OR and WA) there is going to be a re-organization of the Information Resources. Basically what they are trying to do is reduce the workforce, the workload will not be reduced any but will increase. Customer service on the forests will decrease as the people in the field will have less contact with local techs (if they even have a local tech). What is going to happen is that the techs that are good at their jobs are going to see a lot of their time eaten up by data work and travel time to forests that have not developed quality electronics technicians.

Not too mention forests that will not let their techs go off forest to fire as they are too nervous that their data network might fail. How many of you have went to communications to have your radio repaired only to be told the COMT won't or is not able to repair a radio. COMTs that are not electronics technicians is a whole different rant that I could go off on for a long time.

The IRM re-organization is a bad idea. If you are R6 FS let your management know right now, time is short replies are due July 12. Quality of service is going to go down the tubes as techs are stretched thin and their time is wasted on data. Contracting out radio service is just going to cost more and the pride of ownership and quality of work is just not there, contractors are only out to make a buck.

If you can't tell, I would rather be off on a fire supporting the groundpounders as much as I can than be at the office making sure they can surf the web.


PS If you are having radio interference around the new type 62? FS engine on a TAC freq of 168.050, the interference might be coming from the electronic engine system monitor for the water pump.

I found two engines from South CA that had the same problem. Replacing the monitor solved the problem. If you are having problems try unplugging the engine monitor at the back of it while listening to the tac channel interference.

The engine foreman on one of them said that his local techs and auto shop people were pointing the finger at each other and he had gotten nowhere with them.

07/06 Ab sez... There continues to be a major problem with the R5 Fire Website. It's being worked on. At least one critical part of it is still available.

The Fire Weather Units are still online here.


07/05 Speaking of fire names. . .

CDF is currently initial attacking the Potbelly Fire. I'm glad I'm
not the incident commander ;-)

07/05 To Ab, and to those in the FF community that find wildlandfire.com to be unique and valuable:

I’d like this site to be around for a long time, and want to send money to support it, now. I expect that others feel the same, but even if we wanted to, there’s no mailing address on the site that I’ve found to send a check.

In fact, 2 years ago in “Ab speaks”, it was clear that Ab has an aversion to accepting contributions or donations. I want to change that, because even if it’s all volunteer labor, the enthusiasm and “calling” can wither when there’s a shortage of cash for the essentials.

If there are others out there that feel the same, respond with an e-mail offering to send money if Ab will just give us an address to send it to. I’m thinking maybe a couple of hours of overtime pay, more if you can handle it, less if you can’t. And, if Wildlandfire’s privacy is an issue, Ab can use some East Coast bank to receive the money and transfer it back out West to <snip!>.

So, there you have it, Ab. If you can accept sponsorships and commissions from your alliance businesses (July 4 in
Family Said), surely you can accept heartfelt thanks ($$$) from your individual supporters. How ‘bout it?

FFr’s Dad

FFer's Dad wrote in yesterday with a question, which we answered on familysaid. Having just had a much-needed day off, this Ab really enjoyed answering the question... Trying to characterize what I do made me realize how much I love this work.

Now, to answer this question... Thanks for the offer. In the past, others of our community have offered to help out - for which we have been grateful. However, then, as now, we have declined, although we know you all make such offers with an open heart. Partly the reason we are so averse to accepting donations is that we feel a need to maintain absolute independence in a world where influence can be a subtle thing and money can be a powerful influence. (On the other hand, maybe we just have a big Ab ego ...)

We still have plans to sell mugs and hats when fire season is over and we have more time. You could support us then by purchasing some. In the meantime, if you know of any worthy fire-related businesses, organizations, associations, consulting individuals who might like to advertise with us, let us know and we'll contact them. And if you purchase products from vendors on our classifieds page or from those having a banner, please let them know that you heard about their products via wildlandfire.com.

Again, the Abs say thanks for your offer. It's such offers that make it so rewarding to be a part of this community.

07/05 Ab, here are a few terms I managed to houk-up out of memory:

-Brain Dead (Damaged) Crew- BD Crew

-Lip Sh_t – Carmex or Blistex

-Boot Scruff – Fireline construct by dragging your boots

-Egg Ball – Breakfast from an ice cream scoop

-Whizzer or Zipper – Unseen rock that flys by your head at night

-Vict’s in the Stix – DOC Crew

-Punt – What you do to warm ham sandwich, (after balling it up)

-** Jerky – Very old road kill (** insert small animal name)

07/05 There's a moral to this story:

These friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair.

He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close.

Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that:
Hugh and only Hugh can prevent florist friars.



07/05 Readers,

Would those of you having trouble with the R5 fire site please check again. We think the problems have been resolved. If you do still have any problems, could you please cut-paste-send us the url of the page you're on and the link(s) you're having trouble with (plus error message) as well as what browser and version you use. We'd be happy to pass the info on.

FYI, the person currently in charge of the site has been off on fire as some of the rest of us have been.

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

07/05 Just wanted to remind everyone that Saturday, July 6th is the 8th anniversary of the 14 firefighter fatalities on Storm King Mountain in Colorado. With all the new folks in the fire organization, we need to take time and let them know (and to remind us old guys) how quickly fire conditions can deteriorate, especially if all the safety rules are compromised. The best tribute to the Storm King 14 is for all of us performing safely on every fire!.

07/05 I've always used M.I.S.T. to describe USFS suppression efforts "Maximum Income Suppression Tactics"

The Jurassic Captain
07/05 Don't mean to stir the pot. But, just a quick question. Why does there seem to be so much adverse E-mail in regards to CDF? I'm just a rural fire instructor in Oklahoma. But, have had the opportunity to work on large fires in over head positions from division group supervisor to plans and have had the privilege of working with different state forestry fire people USFS, BLM, BIA and CDF.

It seems that each agency has different ways of attacking a fire. Some are slow to start but end up building large fire camps. While others throw everything at a fire from the beginning and go home. Some agencies get paid the same when they are in the station or on a fire. While others get special fire pay.

I do not see any criticism of other state forestry agencies. Sometimes we criticize what we don't understand or are jealous of.

I have kept quiet for some time. But, am getting tired of all the criticism of CDF.

I am now semi-retired and enjoy wildland fire web site. Keep up the good work.


Dennis, when this thread started, we began the FIRE Terms/Nicknames page with Ab's admonishment from several years ago. I suggest you read it now at the top of the FIRE Terms/Nicknames page. Like those on different crews that sometimes are in competition, CDF and the federal fire agencies of R5 have been in competition for years. This is part of our culture. (The upside of competition is the group cohesion that may be necessary for survival of a firefighting crew.) That said, it's also true that a very many of us work for one agency and then the other. Those of us in this wildlandfire.com community recognize the strengths of the different groups of us. We do not wish each other ill. Hell, many of us meet up every summer on fires and work together quite well. We have many shared goals even while having different missions. The rivalry among us, however, is legend.

If you take to time to read back, all the initial "fire jargon" that came in on this thread was slanted against the fed fire organizations. The Pissfur Willies, Parkies and and Parent Company firefighters didn't take offense when those terms were sent in. Unless I'm mistaken, the CDFers among us know this is not personal, dontcha, guys and gals?

Oh, the reason CDF has historically gotten picked on and not other state agencies is that there is no other state agency that measures up to CDF. It is by far the largest firefighting force outside the federal government.


07/05 From Firescribe:

Independent Investigations of Firefighter Deaths:

Oregon Firefighter Didn’t Have Spotter


Fire Crew Gets Boot for Beer

Pyrojournalism- what they do to journalists that get outta line

07/05 Here are a few for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM):

Bureau of Land Mismanagement
Bureau of Loose Money
Bureau of Lotsa Money
Bureau of Lonely Men
Bastards, Liars, and Morons


Special OUCH on the last one... We know that's not true! Well, and neither are the rest, except maybe the lonely men one til they found this website! <HAR> Ab.
07/05 Hi there -- some of these you may have to edit........but, what the heck, this is an open forum. Here are a few off the top of my head.... I know I'll remember others as they come to me here at the geriatric firefighters' ward:

Big Ernie -- the "being" in the sky that was responsible for sending lightning and money.

Jumper H<snip, but rhymes> -- Girlfriend/wife of smokejumper (not trying to be offensive -- as I was one also)

Jump List -- goes hand in hand with above -- real list is where you are on the call out to fires -- other list was "on the cuff"

Legs -- people that were firefighters, but not jumpers -- as they still had workable legs.

Mud Flap on a Stick -- Fireswatter tool -- widely used in the southern area.

CDF -- the three grades you didn't want to get in school.

4-11 -- I know we're supposed to be "clear speak" now, but I remember how those numbers coming across the radio would make everyone stand up and listen -- as it meant FIRE REPORT!!

Friction Tree -- Would like to know if I'm the only fool that ever fell for this one -- let me know if anyone else bought it. Years ago when I got my first district fire job, we were told that trees that had another tree leaning against it could start a fire when the wind blew against it -- basically rubbing two sticks together. If we could locate these "dangerous" trees, pinpoint by township, range and section, and fill out the appropriate form (YES, the district actually had a friction tree form -- even had a number for it) -- we could turn them in and be rewarded with $25 for each "find" at the end of the season. I was a busy, busy patrolman, documenting all those "bound to start fires" trees -- turned in my huge pile of forms -- and surely did get my "reward" at the end of season party!!

Cache Queen

Also known as "Squeak Tree". We had some fun with that one a year or so ago... Ab.

07/04 MNFF--
I can't say I'm an expert on breaking in boots, but
I've been asking people how they've broken in their
boots for the last coupla years ... Though it's not
recommended by the manufacturer, the most popular way
to do it seems to be hot water.
Here's the most popular method I've found... Fill a
tub with scalding hot water and leave your boots in
there until it cools to lukewarm. When the water is
cool, put on those boots with the socks you'll wear
with them and wear them until they're completely dry.
I did this on my Nick's, and have had no problems.
However, since the family business is making shoes,
I checked in with the Senior Shoe Guy, and he said the
problem with this method is that using the water will
strip the leather of some of its natural oils. To
mitigate that, once the boots are dry, oil 'em up.
Obenauf's is what the manufacturers of the boots
recommend. Keep oiling them daily for the next week or
so. When you oil, friction-rub the leather to get the
oil in there.
Also, a trick I learned from a New Mexico district
ranger to rid yourself of the "White's Bite." Get the
long, 96" laces that seem way too long for the 8"
boot. Use the "2-1-3" lacing system that Nick's has a
good diagram of on their web page. Basically, you're
going from the last eyelet to the speed-lace hook 2
up, then back down to 1, then up to the third.
Continue that pattern all the way up the boot. I did
it for the first time a couple fires ago. Made all the
difference in the world.
So much for boot care.
Just got back from the Rodeo-Chediski fire, and I
believe that this fire will be one to learn all sorts
of lessons from. From how to and how not to deal with
the media to how to fight a romping fire in the
interface, books will be written out of this one. Be
on the lookout for the forest and tribal evaluation of
what burned and what didn't, what worked and what
Of particular interest will be the burn pattern
where the fire moved into areas that had been
Rx-burned. Everytime a flame front went into a
prescribed burn area, the fire dove to the ground.
Three times the fire made hard runs in one area that
had been thinned by burning, and three times the fire
went down.
Anyway, that's about it from here. Be safe out
there. As the FBA on the Rodeo fire liked to say,
"It's not just June out there, it's a June with a
Quill the Shoemaker.

New Obenauf's Boot Preservative link on the Classifieds page. Ab.
07/04 Hi Ab,

Well, it's now been 2 weeks that the fire links on the Region 5 home page
have been unavailable using Internet Explorer.

I saw that someone else posted that the pages were available from within the
Forest Service using a Forest Service machine, just not from 'outside' and
that the webmaster may not know there is a problem. But, if they'd just read
their email......

Ah well, I have a friend that has told me there are way's to get in and view
any site. Probably most of them are illegal....LOL.....leave it to our
government to make the most simplest of things difficult.

Happy 4th of July everyone and my thoughts and prayers go out to ALL our
brother and sister firefighters everywhere, and PLEASE BE SAFE


Yep, yer right about the R5 web site! The www theoretically means that the web site is available to the "world", so it shouldn't be a matter of not being able to view the content either internally or externally. The old www.fire.r5.fs.fed.us doesn't work at all in either Netscape (version 4.8 or 6.2) or Internet Explorer (5.0,darn near newest edition). This works a little: www.r5.fs.fed.us/fire/index.phpl, but you aren't going to get any place important after the main page. Check the NICC GACC map info page here: www.nifc.gov/fireinfo/geomap.phpl. Looks like all the links on the map work except the Western Great Basin and R5 both North and South. Ab.

07/04 "skookum" means someone who is up to speed, knows what's up, etc.

Or that's how it's often used. That definition, however, is a bit more
"specific" than the accepted general-use version. The word comes from
the Chinook trade jargon of western Canada, and it means "really good."

07/04 From Firescribe

"Co$t, causes and implications" of this year's wildfires:

More information on Alan Wyatt's death:

07/04 gunnysack = gunnybag

synonyms: things went gunnybag. things went to shit. things went south
on us. Or as Krs puts it, "Where are we going and why am I in this

07/04 What's a BIG fire called: romper stomper or major rager

lid: hard hat
pavement queen: structural engine
vollies: Volunteer firefighters
rathole: (verb) to squirrel away food or beverage, e.g. stash the last piece of pie to eat later.
bug juice: any kind of fruity drink, e.g. lemonade
snore inhibitor: ziploc sandwich bag containing at least 2 tablespoons of black pepper
boot him: another snore inhibitor
punkin pine: a bigass ponderosa
pole patch: an area of downed and crisscrossed blowdown trees, generally but not always lodgepole
mid-day lullaby: sound of a reefer truck and/or generator, which puts firefighters to sleep if they can find shade.
caffeine transfer device: coffee cup
white's bite: the pinch on the top of your foot caused by boots that aren't yet broken in
CDF: the best firefightin' outfit in the world, just ask 'em.
07/04 Well, you got my thinking about the word "Skookum". Folks that grew up in the Northwest probably have heard the term more than others.

Here is what I found: Skookum: "mighty" or "excellent". One of the few surviving words from Chinook, a trade language or pidgin spoken on the coast of British Columbia and the American Northwest till about the 1920's.

Skookum was originally a Salish word for a demon or monster, hence something "awesome".

While researching this I found a few other words of the Chinook still in use:
"chuck" -- water, as in "skookumchuck"
"muckamuck" -- a person of great importance, a big shot.
"tyee" -- chief

I always wondered where the term "muck-e-muck" came from, when folks referred to the "white" hats coming down the line. Or, the folks in the "head shed".

This just re-affirms the fact I have too much time on my hands. Well, hope this clears up the term "skookum".

2nd Generation IHC Supt.

07/04 MNFF,

Here is some hard earned advice on breaking in your new White's. First of all, congratulations on purchasing the best pair of boots you'll ever own.

Now oil those boots up, strap them on your feet and find the steepest, most rugged country you can and hike yourself lame. Better to do this before you are on a fire assignment. Take good care of them by keeping them oiled. Dry boots seem to amplify the pain of "White's bites". Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of wearing them around the station for a few weeks and thinking they are broken in. The old saying about White's is that you dont break in a pair of Whites, you break in your feet; but trust me, once they have a season on them they will feel like the mold your foot was made from. Have fun and BE SAFE.
XR5 Hotshot

Check our Classifieds Page for boot manufacturer's links and ya can do a search of the archived "TheySaid" pages for "break-in", the question has been asked and answered by readers many times over the years. We don't necessarily agree with any of the home-style recipes, including the one above. Ab.

07/04 I presume everyone has heard about the new fire start (approx 1600 hrs today) on the Tahoe NF; South Lake Tahoe, NV, just up slope from the casinos. It appears to be making a run uphill and the Kingsbury Grade Hiway is closed.
And Szpanick's (sp?) California Type 2 Team was called in at around 1800 last night. Local media this am at 0600 says between 500-700 acres. Nice place to fight a fire. . . a little steep, but you'll want your camera for the view from the top! Ab.
07/03 Here is a thought. Did anybody ever think about other resources here in the states? The Dept. of Defense has a lot of people with some great quals. that sit every summer and watch the Country burn. In our station alone we have 2 ICT3's that are ex-BLM and 3 others that have years of wildland experience. If you combined the time of wildland experience you are looking at over 60 years of training and experience. But here we sit. Go figure.
crisp triggers
07/03 Special Prayers to Mr. Wyatt and his family. May God grant him blessed
repose and make his memory eternal!
07/03 My thoughts and prayers go out to Mr Wyatt's family.

I just got my Whites boots in the mail, any tips for breaking them in nice
and good?
Please everyone, Stay Safe!!!
07/03 I just heard that US Fish & Wildlife Serv. wildlife habitats or sanctuaries are being renamed to Fish & Feather Parks.
07/03 Hey there.. Nah I don't need any cheese.. made a few calls and with in a day
or two I will be fighting Fire... As for the Training problem I follow thru
with my problem tracked it down and problem is solved.. TK as far as I know
email me with something and I will leave my number to call.. Thanks Ab
07/03 Condolences to the Wyatt Family,

My heart goes out to all of you, and to the other families also grieving for
their lost ones.

Shot's Mom
07/03 Alan was a good man in a dangerous job. We'll miss him. CM
07/03 LODD

Name: Alan Wayne Wyatt
Rank: Contract Wildland Firefighter
Age: 51
Status: Career
Date of Incident: 07/02/2002
Time of Incident: 1745
Date of Death: 07/02/2002
Fire Department: United States Forest Service
Fire Department Address: Incident Review Team, Columbine East Ranger District, PO 439,
Bayfield, CO 81122
Fire Department Phone: 970-884-8323
Fire Department Chief: District Ranger
Cause of Death: Firefighter Wyatt died from injuries received when a green tree fell and struck
him while he was in the process of cutting "hazard trees".

07/03 I heard the firefighter who died was a resident of Ontario, OR.

NorCal Tom

Ab, please add this which I got to via the Fires, 2002 link you have at the top of theysaid: http://wildfires.nwcg.gov/colorado/missionary/newsreleases/newsrelease_missionary_070302am.phpl

Keep an eye on the articles that come up on the Fire News Page. Ab.

07/03 From Firescribe:

Firefighter dies at blaze in Colorado

BAYFIELD, Colorado (CNN) -- A firefighter died Tuesday evening at the Missionary Ridge wildfire in the San
Juan National Forest, fire officials said.

A helicopter ambulance was flown at 5:45 p.m. (7:45 p.m. EDT) to the eastside of the 73,000-acre fire, about
15-20 miles northeast of Bayfield in southwestern Colorado.

"When medical assistance arrived, the patient was down and critical. The patient had no pulse," said a statement
from the fire incident management team.

No other information was immediately available and an investigation is being conducted, fire officials said.

Information on the individual's identity is being withheld until the family is notified, according to the statement.


Will someone send in more info as it becomes available. Everyone, BE SAFE. And those of you driving this holiday, BE SAFE. Ab.

07/02 Hey, Fightfire, that crow in your craw, you get used to
it after awhile. Would you like some Cheese with your Whine?

07/02 Hey Ab,

I saw fightfire75's posting and I'm an available firefighter. I took the basic classes from Dick Mangan in Missoula, MT then retook the basics from Rod Goss (from Grayback Forestry, at the local job center in Missoula). I was on call for Grayback crew when they announced they weren't sending anyone out. So now I'm fit, pack tested, carded and packed to go with no job to go to. Extended travel is not a problem. <snip>

Sincerely, TK

Thanks Ab, and thanks for the resource, I've been using it a lot lately trying to get my butt out there. :)

If anyone wants to get in touch with TK, we'll pass it on. Ab.

07/02 Since leaving the IHC Supt. job and venturing into fuels, I have coined a couple monikers:

Bench Warmers or Home Team: Fuels folks who are not allowed to go on fire due to Nepa/Forest Targets. And, typically cover for the "suppression" folks while they are on assignment.

What happened to the "old Forest Service", when all red carded folks dropped everything (especially in preparedness level 5) and went to support fire suppression efforts? I know there is a lot of difference between then and now, but the basics are basic. Okay, enough (pissin' and moanin') whining for today.

Here's a good one for ya, "What is the difference between Hotshot line and Smoke Jumper line?"

Jumper line is black on both sides....(har,har) I always use that for my intro to the newbies who came to our crew in hopes of gaining employment as a "lawn dart".

Not to bash on jumpers, I have several friends in the jumper world and they know my intentions are well meant. We weren't there to train new jumpers for the jump program but if they could pull their weight with us, they would do well making the transition from "Dirt Pig" to "Lawn Dart".

Here is another I haven't seen yet,
Skookum: Term used to make sure everyone understands, or, someone who is skilled at something...

"The Ab's are "skookum" at keeping us at home entertained"

2nd Generation IHC Supt.

Seems to me we're all entertaining each other. You sure about the adjective skookum? The only way I've heard it used in the past is to imply someone unskilled. Maybe times are changing? Ab.

07/03 Here is a saying for the " Fire Terms/Nicknames "..

Black mountain=Green Wallet

Fightfire 75:
From my understanding, It stems from the Thirty Mile Fire, my Forest is going through a sweep of everybody's training records and qualifications. Training and qualifications will either get you out the door or you will be staying on the porch.

Be safe everyone,
07/03 Pulaski wrote: <<....Re Bowling for Hotshots: ever notice how the decibel level of any verbal warning is in direct proportion to the mass of the falling object?.....>>

Yeah - our training Captain drills into the recruits that they must always shout "ROCK!!" when they see or are responsible for a rock succumbing to the force of gravity. Then _I_ get them. Every time we ascend a minor escarpment, the constant refrain of "ROCK!!!" reminds me of the parable of the "Boy Who Cried Wolf". I periodically and loudly advise my Crew that unless the descending item has a force (F) sufficient to cause injury (M=Mass times A=Acceleration, i.e. F=MA) that I don't wanta hear about it. OOoops - I think I mean momentum (M), which is Mass X Velocity. If is was smart I'd be rich. Anyway, Pulaski is right on, since ultimately all that matters is how loud they shout it.........

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande

07/03 Not sure where this one fits but I recall one fire where a pup crewman was
constantly complaining about not being given a chance to prove himself.
The captain asked him if he was ready to be an engineer on an all-terrain
fire engine. He eagerly jumped up and said YES!.

The captain handed him a full backpack pump.

07/03 Here's some more...

Puke Green - Forest Service Engine Color
Slime Green - BLM Engine Color
Geek Net - National Park Service FMO Radio Net to an adjoining National Forest.
Mop Shots - Type 2 AD Crews.
"This Sucker's Rippin'!!!" - When the Forest Service needs more help.
Coffee, Donuts, & Fun - California Dept. of Forestry ( CDF ).
Pissfer Willies - CDF
The HEFFERS - CDF Fire Crews
THE SHOW - CDF Overhead
BattleStar Galactica - CDF Wildland Engine built on a Type 1 Structure Engine Chassis, looks good but gets stuck when it leaves the payment.
Slimed - FF Hit by a tanker drop but leaves it on his helmet for the rest of the season.
Hooters - Forest Service Firefighters paid OT to go look for Spotted Owls.
IOU's - What the State of California pays state firefighters and contractors when they don't pass the State Budget on time.
Fish Cops - Fish & Wildlife
FUBAR - F****ed Up Beyond All Recogntion (Forest Service / CDF Combo Fires)

07/02 From Firescribe:

Firefighting supervisors in short supply

07/02 hey there everyone.. I found out the info I need to find out.. WEll I found
out why my company hasn't got the contract from R6.. Its all about the
training goin on.. Says our Crewboss and enop don't have proper training so
only a few of us can go.. SO if you all looking for numbers email me. Ab has
my email.. Arizona has a new start..

07/02 More nicknames / acronyms

hose weenies = engine crew
dirt darts = smoke jumpers
R5 whine = the term other regions use towards region 5's (Forest Service) complaints
pencil hose = 5/8" hose
bladder bag = collapsible backpack pump
piss pump = backpack pump
piss pump on wheels = Type 6 engine
Forest Circus = CDF term for the US Forest Service
US DA Forest Service = USDA Forest Service (ebonics joke relating to the markings on the back of engines)
Tree cops = Forest Service Law Enforcement
bucket = helmet
Mop shots = term used for Hotshots who are complaining about being held for a mop up shift
propeller head = helitack

07/02 Hi from downunder

I am trying to locate a manual or written instructions for setting up,
operating and recommissioning a MK1 or MK5 Wajax Pump.

I would be most grateful if you could advise where one can obtain such
information over the Net.

Have a safe day....

Simon Osborne
General Manager - Rural Fire Officer
Fire & Rescue New Zealand

Anyone know about this? Ab.
07/02 A few more for the list...I don't think they duplicate anything on the list...

Coot and Carp = Fish and Wildlife

Pine Swine = USFS Law Dogs

Honey Bucket = Blue Huts in Camp

Papa Uniform/Tango Uniform = Paws Up / Tits Up (Out of Service Mechanical)


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

Some neat new fire photos of the Susanville Inversion, Ollalie Complex and Cannon Fire are up on Fire 11 Photo page.


07/02 Another term:

Goin' Gunnysack - describing a fire that just grew big enough to assume the characteristics of a nuclear bomb. Or a easy term for BC's to understand that the little fire that they sent the 1-ton to just got out of hand.

Di'ncha have a moniker? Ab.

07/02 Regarding the Australians and New Zealanders - worked with them in Montana in 2000. The ones I
saw were division sup and above qualified and that's pretty much how they got used. They were
very fit and very competent, and brought a much needed fresh look at the operations. I think
that it is highly likely that our contract engines and crews, and summer employees, would get
more (and safer) work rather than less if we bring in the folks from Down Under to fill in Ops
positions where our IMT's are running short. Just look at some of the shift plans - we give
one Div umteen miles of line, more than a dozen crews, dozers, engines, tenders, and misc air
support, can't supply enough competent strike team leaders, and then expect him/her to
"maintain control"? If that Div doesn't have a couple of first string Hotshot Sups to depend
on, he/she is way over extended before even leaving camp.

Ranger One
07/02 Re Bowling for Hotshots: ever notice how the decibel level of any verbal
warning is in direct proportion to the mass of the falling object?

07/02 H&P tanker pilot's photo page from Duncan Holland:

Here's a new goody of a fire name.

PARACHUTE ADAM, Socorro District, New Mexico State Forestry Office.

The person who named this one is obviously a flyfisherman.


07/02 The USFS receives dollars for supplies but no dollars to hire people
for the Recreation Department. Therefore, when a politician complained that
the public picnic grounds at Mt. Wilson weren't clean enough to suit 'em,
the local fire crews are being held back from being sent to fight fires and
are being used to clean picnic grounds.

signed, theSourceWithin
07/01 Readers,

For a while we have been compiling several lists: one of unique and funny fire terms and "names" we call each other... and the other a list of "just one more time" posts. Recently we started making a list of unusual fire names based on your posts; that should be up-to-date soon. In any case, since the Fire Terms you are sending in now are starting to overlap with the existing list, check out the most current FIRE Terms/Nicknames List, before you send in more. Nice job. HAW, HAW

07/01 Fire Nomenclature

Synonymous with "Red Army Wife's" <<$$Money Clouds- also known as thunder heads >> is our meteorological term "cumulus overtimus".

Ab, thanks for your interesting and reasoned response to my post (wherein I rained on the whole fuel-reduction advocate's parade). I agree with you on some points, and on others I admit (as I did in my original post) that my viewpoint is a bit provincial, since it is based exclusively on my experience in California, and mostly the south half of CA at that.............). On other points I think you misunderstood me (my comments regarding the environmental problems we face being due to overpopulation were of a far more general nature and had nothing significant to do with fire. Though I agree that CDF's outlook is weighted toward the urban interface problem), and on other points I straight-out disagree with you (you suggest that I should multiply my Crew's and Ranger Unit's efforts by the number of other Crews/people/Units, etc. working on the problem, and then multiply THAT by a rather arbitrary 15-year period during which those efforts would take place.). To some extent, I have "done the math", and I don't see that the entire cumulative effort of all of us can make a dent in the incredibly high fuel load over many hundreds of millions of acres nationwide, unless we conduct vastly more burns than we do, and are willing to accept the ten or 100-fold increase in escapes and high-profile (New Mexico.....!!??) disasters which will be the mathematically inevitable result. And don't forget that during those 15 years, the fuels we haven't reached (probably 90% of the total) will be continuing to grow, age, and die (the most significant reduction in their mass being due to uncontrolled, un-planned wildfires.).

Your response to my post deserves a bit more thorough response than I can provide right now. Been rather busy, mostly with projects and day's-off cancellations. Had only 4.5 days off in June (though I got home most evenings). Can't figure out why the current California hot-spell has produced so few fires, except that perhaps people are being extra-cautious due to the well-publicized fire situation. I note that Hanford Fire Wx is suggesting a likelihood of dry lightning in the Sierras next couple of days.................... cumulus overtimus.....

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande

P.S. I'm going to be the first on my block to own a $450 flashlight!! No, I'm not rich, but it's deductible, rather light and compact, produces 500 lumens, and will often save me a great deal of strain (I'm over 50............) by just shining the light over to the other side of the canyon to see if it is burned over there or not, versus walking over there............. And when the Shots (notice I capitalized it............) are wondering where those CDF Crews are that are supposed to be cutting toward them, I'll just give them a quick flash. When they recover their night vision, we'll just about be there.........

07/01 More wildfire jargon:

Helidonna = helitack personnel;
Engine slug = someone working on an engine;
Camp slug = a person who works at an incident camp or Incident Command Post;
Grape-eater = a person working at an Incident Command post, (where the grapes are ubiquitous);
The Big Green Machine = US Forest Service fire management;
Parkies = National Park Service personnel;
Fish, or Fish and Feathers = US Fish and Wildlife Service;
A Big Yellow McLeod = a dozer working on a fire;
Pavement Queen = a Type 1 or 2 engine that cannot or will not be driven off a paved road;
Baby Hose = 1/2" collapsible fire hose;
Meals Refused by Ethiopians = Meals Ready to Eat (MREs)
Bump Up (or Back, or Out) = Move up, Back, or Out of the area)

07/01 With all due respect to those who suffered and those who are suffering from the events involving the rollover of a Grayback Forestry van, and decisions by Grayback Forestry management in relation to these events.

I take issue with the fact that Grayback Forestry has ceased to send out new crews this year. I hope the Grayback management seriously considered what they were doing when they adopted this approach.

When there is a fatality on a fire, do we stop fighting that fire?

More than a few good people are now wondering just what the hell they will do as they scramble for the phone and start calling around the country. People who were depending on jobs that have just disappeared, who invested their time and, in my case, missed a serious family obligation so I would be available to work. In the future, I hope Grayback Forestry considers the true number of people that policy decisions like this affect.

My best wishes to all those involved in this tragedy,
-Momentarily Displaced But Looking For Smoke

07/01 Zimm

Saw your name on the board, but my brain was somewhere else at the time...(Old Timers kick'n
in). Sorry I missed ya, but I'll be looking next time.

07/01 MSNBC Article, link from Firescribe:
Fighting fire with thinner forests

Also Seattle Times:
Less aggressive tactics stress safety...

07/01 Terms/Acronyms: Tongue in cheek - we need them all.

Potato Guard - Firecamp security
Pigs in Blankets - Firecamp security....off duty
"Crowning in the Leaf Litter" - oak/hickory type fire with 2 foot flamelengths.
PWAC - Person without a clue
"Camp tether" - What keeps overhead from getting onto the line.
DAPS - Dog and Pony Show
PUFF - A magic dragon
Hoods in the Woods - Inmate crew
Fire Rectangle - fuel, heat, oxygen, overhead.....remove one of four and fire goes out.

07/01 Aussies are coming?


I'm not sure where people are getting the idea that we're coming over. To
my knowledge there has been no formal request for there to be people sent
over there (not that I'm completely "in the know"). I do know that there
have been some phone calls made to check availability, "just in case". As
Mollysboy stated, last time we sent only IMT staff, & I'd have a guess that
is all we would send anyhow. 99% of wildland firefighting here is done by
volunteers, and while many (including me) would love the opportunity, the
practicality of it would preclude many from going. We don't have a "Red
Card" system like yours, so getting that in place would be a big enough
problem in the first place. Add to that the altitude of the current fire
operations - the highest point in Oz is under 8000ft & most of us are
coastal dwellers. Furthermore, you already have the resources of the US
military, yes they are committed but there is also the National Guard. The
big advantage is that it's winter here & from what I'm reading there are
many areas that are under extreme fire danger that removing local crews to
other fires will reduce the needed available resources. I don't think
you'll need the Aussies & Kiwi's en masse, but once again, if you want us,
we're more than happy to help!!


Sydney, Australia
(who's going to go jogging tonight "just in case"!!)

On June 29, Mike posted that he'd an article that the Aussies are coming. Didn't provide a link, but said it was CNN. Ab.

07/01 My favorite fire name has to be the Average Bad Day fire (MT, 2000). Around here, dispatch names most fires
based on geographical references before we even get to the fire. Gee, don't they trust us???


Nice moniker. I'd trust you. <HAR> Ab.
My favorites :
Camp FiFi- a gal in fire camp who wears full make up, has her hair and nails done up perfect and wears a bright clean nomex shirt (normally tied at the waist Daisy Mae style!) ex- She is such a Camp FiFi!

Tanker Kitten- cute girl that works on an engine or tender. She may not be a "nice" girl. She might have been caught doing one too many "hose lays"

$$Money Clouds- also known as thunder heads .

Fire Triangle- This triangle is composed of 1. Travel time pay 2. Overtime pay 3. Hazard pay.

Shake and Bake- your fire shelter (baked tater!)

Ground Pounders- your average poor FF stuck on a hand crew.

keep them coming!
A Red Army Wife
07/01 WLF Terms
Bowling for Hotshots: Any time (either by natural causes or an inadvertent human cause) a large rock, log etc tumbles down hill scattering people working below.

Fire names
A small fire occurred on a persons private property. By the time we arrived I believe most of it was out and I was at the far end mopping up when the property owners neighbor, who lived abt .25 down the road, and obviously had a few too many malt beverages in him, comes up to me and starts giving me the third degree. IE: do you know what your are doing? ...why are you wasting time squirting water, its obviously out ya *@&#! and on an on yadda yadda. He then walked down to where the IC was talking to the property owner (and responsible party for the fire) and gave him the same treatment. Finally he walked back to his place and plopped back down in his lawn chair to drain another cold one. A bit later when I was all loaded up waiting for the word to head home, the neighbors dog came running down the road toward me chasing a ball and the neighbor was chasing the dog hollering at him to come back. ...Now I was standing there and that ball was going to roll right by me...I could have easily stopped it, and I did consider it...but....naahhh. I just snickered to myself as I watched the neighbor stumble down the street chasing his dog. ..oh yea, the name of the fire (unofficial of course)....The Asshole Neighbor Fire.


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