August, 2002

Home of the Wildland FireFighter

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08/31 Howdy folks--

Two questions on fire language...

1) Does anyone know the origin of "going
gunnysack"/"going gunnybags"?

2) I noted on the fire terms list here that "legs"
is defined as "People that were firefighters, but not
jumpers -- as they still had workable legs."
I'm wondering if that's how "legs" got its fire
usage, or if it's derived from the military usage,
wherein paratroopers refer to non-jump qualified
soldiers as "straight legs." That goes back to World
War II, when paratroopers were allowed to blouse or
peg their dress pants, and everyone else had to let
the cuff fall near the heel of the dress boot.

If that's the case, it begs another vocabulary
question. How much of the firefighting language is
descended from military usage?

Be safe out there.
The Quill.

Go'in Gunnysack?? www.wildlandfire.com/pics/equip2/ok18.jpg ? Tool up. Ab.
08/31 The Jobs page and wildland firefighter jobs Series 462 and 455 are updated. Hope everyone has a good weekend. Ab.
08/31 Hope the Congress and the Pres can appropriate emergency money for fire before the end of the fiscal year on Sept 30...

Ab, could you post this link? 


08/30 Just an Observation

As I peruse the FS News Clip on the intranet and read the newspaper
editorials pro and con I noticed a pattern. I have not done any formal
count, but a significant number of the newspapers publishing editorials
opposing any land management and supporting a 'just let it burn' position
seem to be from large cities far from the nearest forest. The newspapers
supportive of land management and scoff at the idea of letting all fires
burn are for the most part from communities close to forests. The
'experts' quoted in the 'let it burn' articles are mostly environmental
industry lawyers, lobbyists, and university biology professors while the
experts quoted in the pro management articles are all foresters and

Interesting -- those most familiar with the problem and face it daily have
a different viewpoint from those distant and not familiar first hand.


08/30 Mellie, et al,

I listened with great interest to the audio post JF (nice post JF !!!!), sent in. It certainly stimulated some thinking. Mr. O’Toole may not understand fire behavior and potentials, but he did have some very good points.

If you look at the Federal Wildland and Prescribed Fire Management Policy Implementation Guide, it states that a WFIP (Wildland Fire Implementation Plan) will be initiated for all wildland fires. Generally this goes only as far as stage one, but intended purpose is to guide the manager to the most appropriate suppression response or to continue with stage II and III if the fire is to be managed for resource benefits. If units were in fact doing this and the Risk/Complexity assessment portion of Stage II, it would satisfy much if not all the documentation requirements of the 30 Mile Abatement Plan, etc. But this is not the case as most decisions to seek immediate control are made days if not years before the ignition and WFIPs are rarely prepared for wildland fires.

The WFSA is vehicle used to document the suppression response decision. It does have to be prepared on any fire that escapes IA/Extended attack. It usually provides only general operational guidelines for containment lines, but some are more specific.

MIST is not mandated in wilderness, it is up to the unit administrator to set those guidelines.

Fire use is a different, and often economical, way of managing fires. Fire use management levels are set by the level of risk. High risk = high level of management, even to the point of containment and control. Low risk = a much lower level of active management. The trick, of course, is a good assessment of risk and threats (this is one reason why Fire Use Teams are heavy with FBAN/LTAN types) and applying the proper level of management to those. But; it almost always works, and could probably be successfully applied to 60-70% of wildland fires. It also requires a good deal of planning and analysis, so when “fire use” decisions are made they are based on sound assessments.

Fire use involves uncertainty, and requires continuous analysis. Wildland fire involves risk, but things are usually very certain, that is eventually, whatever the cost, the fire will be subdued. The analysis is usually the WFSA and it can be prepared in 2-3 hours and updated only when cost or acres are being exceeded. The core decision is rarely revisited which is why sometimes line is constructed in the rain and snow!! Hack, cough, hock.


08/30 lo ab, been a while since i could sit s\down and drop a note. Having a
great season. Best one yet. Keep it safe folks. Too many good people have

le\ater, Eric PW
08/29 Ab, some photos,

These are from the Blue Cut fire in the Cajon Pass near San Bernardino on
Father's Day June 16, 2002.
#1 Tanker drops in front of fire as traffic continues along I15 southbound.
#2 Fire has crossed I15 right over the traffic (8 lanes).
#3 About 1 min later fire has made the 300 yds between it & me. Time to skeedaddle.
#4 Fire is only 3 hrs old. From Mormon Rocks.


I put them on the Fire 12 photo page. Remember this is the fire with extreme behavior that resulted in the burnover of the CDF engine. Glad ya got outta there, MF.

Also added a photo from a Colorado fire entitled "First Day" and put some CO crew photos on the Handcrews 6 photo page. Somehow I deleted the info on these photos. Will the photographer please resend the info --on the fire name, etc? Thanks. Ab.

08/29 Mellie,

Sounds like you're about ready to start learning about fire planning. You should start asking your fire mgmt buddies about all that. In your letter, you're kind of mixing apples and oranges.

About WFSAs - they are mandated, but they don't so much set containment lines as the strategy. Containment lines are often identified as part of the strategy, but the key is setting the strategy and evaluating the probability of success. MIST (aka Maximized Income Suppression Tactics, heh heh) is not mandated, it's just a management option.

But the decision to consider wildland fire use (WFU) is made during big-time planning for the entire unit. Resource Management Plans (RMP, aka Land Management Plans) are agency documents that set the umbrella objectives and uses for the land unit. Fire is part of those plans - also air, soil, water, range, timber, wilderness, wildlife, etc etc.

Now all federal land mgmt agencies are supposed to have Fire Management Plans (FMP) that tier off the RMPs. The RMP determines the role of fire on the unit, and identifies the goals of fire management. The RMP would usually identify any areas that would be candidates for WFU. The FMP would describe how, and under what conditions WFU would be allowed and basically a prescription is established for WFU. The FMP determines the extent of attack for all fires in the unit, among other things. Incidentally, the RMP is expected to meet NEPA requirements. This stuff is all done way ahead of acutally implementing any WFU.

If there is an ignition in an area that is designated as possible WFU, the numbers have to be run to determine if the weather and fuels conditions are appropriate to meet the resource objectives. Like they may want it too hot or dry so it won't scorch, or if there's been an extended drought then the expected Maximum Management Area (MMA) might be exceeded and so forth - basically a bunch of fire behavior projections.

Also the wildfire situation has to be evaluated, usually through Preparedness Levels (your homework is to read the National and Geographic Area mob guide sections on Preparedness Levels to see how they relate to Prescribed Fire and WFU). The short version is that the level of fire danger and activity has a bearing on whether candidate fires for WFU are allowed to burn or whether they are initial attacked, or something inbetween, as determined in the FMP.

WFU is essentially like prescribed fire, the conditions must be established and approved beforehand.

In some places, it may be established in the RMP that fires are not worth attacking on an economic basis and allowed to burn because they aren't worth putting out, but that's technically not WFU because WFU is to meet resource objectives like prescribed fire.

I could go on, but it might be easier if you get some of your fire staff buddies to go over this with you. There are probably some mistakes in my description or some places where it's done differently, but I gave you the short version textbook answer as I know it.


08/29 Mellie, I'll try to explain how decisions are made on letting fires burn
(but it may be an over simplification).

First the Forest must have an approved Fire Management Plan, that addresses
Wildland Fire Use. Which also means that it was covered an analyzed in the
Forest Land and Resource management Plan.

Next the must have completed NEPA for any Fire which they decide to use for
resource benefits.

They Must then do a Wildland Fire Implementation Plan for each Fire (this
is kinda similar to a WFSA, but addresses Wildland Fire Use issues).

Then once the decision is made to use a fire for resource benefits, there
is an ongoing review process (daily +) to ensure it's within everything it
needs to be.

08/28 Thanks Tahoe Terrie, some interesting info and thanks for the audio link, JF.

Some questions and comments.

How does a region decide whether to let lightning fires burn? Do they decide ahead of time? or always wait until fire occurs?

I know that once a fire exceeds IA, a Wildland Fire Situation Analysis (WFSA) is done to evaluate alternative suppression strategies against selected environmental, social, political and economic criteria. Is the WFSA mandated for helping set containment lines?

I know that on many fires such as the Florence Fire (now Biscuit) that burn into the wilderness, the decision is made to use MIST (Minimum Impact Suppression Techniques) and when resources are scarce they are often put on non-wilderness portions of the fire. Is the use of MIST mandated in a wilderness area?

Does the economist on NPR know of the environmental and legal constraints incident management teams and wildland firefighters work under? Do such constraints really exist?

It seems that people like the economist who haven't fought fire are naive about fire behavior, controllability and fire effects.

For one thing, they do not understand what catastrophic fire is and how it affects the soil as well as really burning up the vegetation and wildlife. Crown fire that burns very hot "nukes" the topsoil, burning the organic duff away, taking it down to mineral soil and baking it so it is hydrophobic (water fearing). Rains come, water drops bead up on the soil surface and run if there's an incline. There's nothing to hold the water back and nothing to keep the water and moving mineral particles from running into creeks, streams, rivers and reservoirs, making waters murky, killing aquatic life... and silting in drinking water supplies for cities. Such soil takes time to develop a new organic layer that can support seedling life and slow runoff.

I know some theysaid readers have worked on Fire Use Teams to promote low level burns to benefit the environment. Educate us. (Unless all are out fighting fire... and I know most are.) For some pics of wildfire use, check the Whitetail 1, 2 and 3 photos on Fire 6 photo page.

Sure would like to know more about how fire use decisions are made.

08/28 From Firescribe:

Here's the info on the arrest of the alleged CCC arsonist.
08/28 I heard an arrest was made for the arsonist on the fires near Julian. Anyone know more?

08/28 Interesting that the economist on the NPR piece acts like letting fires burn for resource benefit is something new. We're doing that in some cases already.

There are lightning caused fires being allowed to burn and being managed for wildland fire use (WFU) on public lands, predominantly wilderness, including fires to restore and maintain fire dependent ecosystems. Currently it breaks down something like this:

Northern Rockies, all fires are in the wilderness of MT except the Phlox Fire
21 fires of less than 2 acres, 8 of which are deemed "out"
4 fires that are less than 100 acres
4 that are between 100 and 200 acres
4 that are 500 acres plus; of these, the Phlox in Wyoming is the largest at about 3600 acres

Rockies, all 4 fires in the wilderness areas of CO
smallest is 415 acres, largest is 15,500 acres

Eastern Great Basin, 3 fires in ID, UT, and WY
smallest is under 10 acres, largest is 2600

Southwest has 6 fires in the wilderness of NM
smallest is 157 acres and largest is 2450

Southern California has the Wolf Complex in Yosemite National Park comprised of 4 fires totaling 588 acres

As far as I know there are no Wildland Fire Use (WFU) fires in the Western Great Basin, the Eastern, Southern or Northwestern Areas. yet, that is...

Tahoe Terrie

08/28 Ab,

Here is a story from NPR that I heard a few weeks ago. He has some interesting points. Should
spark some debate on they said.

The article title is "NPR : Fighting Wildfires" and can be found at


This is an audio segment from National Public Radio. Ab

08/28 Demob Bob,

I've been on numerous assignments in California over the last few years as Demob Unit Leader. Everybody seems to dread the chaos and pandemonium associated with Demob. I've come up with a good method to avoid some of the log jams:

During active demobilization, with lots of Crews and Engines to Demob, the teams have allowed me to announce the tentative releases of Crews and Engines for the day at the beginning of the 0600 operational briefing. I instruct them to go directly to Demob for a "Demob Briefing" This gets them out of the briefing, where they don't need to be anyway.

Once at the Demob Briefing, I take a roll call and ask for travel times home. I explain that the farthest resources will be given first priority. The ICS 221's are already prepared and handed out. I spread them out as far as when they are to report to ground support. Most vehicle inspection stations can handle about 2 engine strike teams or 4 crews per hour, usually a little more than that. I usually monitor the flow at ground support via logs radio, with the help of someone working in Demob, or a Security person if available. Another potential back up is with the Time Unit. I always co-ordinate with them and try to manage the flow through there also. Usually, the time it takes for vehicle inspections sets up a natural flow...


08/28 Ab-

Noticed the previous post - Don't forget to take a look at the International Association of Wildland Fire website for the Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Portugal. Post said sign up deadline is Sept 1. Sign-up deadline is actually September 30. Wanted to provide this clarification for those returning from fire assignments.


Good 'nuf. I corrected the other post. Ab.
08/28 Ab,

I want to point readers to some nice vignettes on fire life written by Jonetta Holt, one of the FIOs on the McNally Fire.

This site also has some videos showing various aspects of firefighting and lots of photos.

08/27 Does anyone know the details of a fire related forced landing of a Beech
Baron Yesterday in CO? Several of us flying fires in AZ heard rumors today
of a stand-down coming soon after that one.

By the way, fires in AZ and NM are doing some pretty incredible things for
this time of year. Anybody coming this way be prepared for extreme
afternoons. We need all the help we can get, but be safe!


It was mentioned in the news article about the helo crash -- that we linked to yesterday.
"NTSB investigators and a U.S. Forest Service team
were also on their way to Fairplay, in the mountains
southwest of Denver, where a twin-engine Beechcraft
Baron on a reconnaissance flight for the Forest
Service made an emergency landing Monday. The
two people on board were not injured, Helmerick
08/27 In support of Peter re THINK ABOUT IT

Here in the west of Australia we have very little water. The lakes we have
are saline and generally dry from December onwards. Even then the fringes
would bog a duck and access is an issue.

Therefore we have to employ dry fire fighting techniques including hand tool
attack. However we are unable to mobilize vehicle based resources from other
jurisdictions (e.g. NRE as Peter described) as they are some 3,000 km (2000
miles) away. Therefore we have to get smart. Waterbombing is only effective
in our country when supported immediately by ground crews.

We therefore spend a lot of effort in establishing trafficable firelines
using dozers, loaders, graders etc. Where areas are not trafficable, we
resort to hand tools. It must be stated that we don't have any where near
the same problems with slope over here.

One fire last year in our Goldfields region was in the order of 300,000
Hectares, (500,000 + acres) the resources there were about 4 managers, a
fixed wing aircraft for reconnaissance, 2 dozers, 4 graders, and about 4
water carrying appliances (tankers).

Almost all of our appliances for wildfire are four wheel drive and are able
to get very close to where we need them. Rather than ignoring the skills of
these very competent people there may be something to be learnt from them.
The reason they are there is learn and to teach, none knows the lot, but
maybe we could learn some more from each other


Great to have the input from Downunder. Ab.

08/27 In reply to "Think about It",

Here in Australia we do have and use handtool crews. In the state of Victoria the Dept of Natural Resources and Environment employees about 800 seasonal firefighters every Aussie summer, most are used as handtool crews, some as part of engine (called tankers in most parts of Australia) crews. In the state of New South Wales(NSW) were I live, even the predominantly volunteer NSW Rural Fire Service uses handtool crews including Remote Area Fire Teams (RAFT), which are similar to your hotshot crews. What must be understood is that in general, we use engine crews in preference because of the ability to hit harder and faster with this method on the more accessible fires. If no engine access is possible we do it in a similar way to you guys, ie hand tools, dozers, water and retardant bombing from aircraft etc.

Take care -

08/27 My brother sent me this url. Lots of talent here. Nice work and a link to theysaid under "additional info". There are three "dispatches" -- with more to come?


08/27 Hello Safely Returned Fire Folks

Just got back last night from a month as Demobilization Unit leader on the
Tiller Complex. I was the #2 DUL since the teams each brought their own DUL
which is good business. I mainly handled the air travel part of demob.

I would like to hear from any of you as to how the demobilization process
went where you were and expecially on the Tiller. Any fire job is a good
job if you can help other folks. I am sure we did that in demob but an
interested in fine tuning the process even more.

Demob Bob
08/27 Family members and friends can send an email to firefighters on the Tiller Complex and/or Apple Fire at this address:


08/26 Here's a breaking news story on a helo crash in Colorado. "All four people were injured, fire information officer Roger Condie said. No one was killed."

Helicopter Fighting Fire Crashes


08/26 A recent AP story claims the USFS recently discovered $215 million in "misplaced" firefighting funds from the fiscal year 2000 fire budget. Hmmmmm. I remember a few years ago during fire funding testimony before a legislative oversight committee I watched the faces of USFS reps go ashen when they were warned that the committee knew about the common practice of siphoning fire funding off for non-fire related programs and that they would know if it continued. It was indicated that heads would roll if the practice continued. Some of those testifying were positively white when they rose to leave the table. I wonder if "finding" firefighting funds is a way of diplomatically returning siphoned funds to avoid the consequences?

The story goes on to say that "In the past decade the USFS has failed eight out of 10 inspector general audits." I wonder if the other fedfire agencies do any better.

Does anyone have more info on this story?

The AP story Memo admits $215M wildfire management mistake. Ab.

08/26 A pat on the back to the Fire Management folks of the Naches RD on the WEF. I had to demob. from a severity assignment a little early for my new job, and really enjoyed the few days I got to work with them.

They made the state engines who came to help out feel right at home and part of the team. In the midst of a TON of I/A and a series of suspicious fires, they NEVER let safety take second place. Great briefings, great fire and weather intel, great folks to work with. Many could take a lesson from these guys in Interagency cooperation. Also a great big thanks to the folks at CWICC, who never seem to get ruffled in the middle of it all.

Safety First, Safety Always,
08/26 Thanks Mollysboy for the clarification. Most of the people I associate
with count days on assignment because if you count days traveled plus days
on duty before you get the call you could have 20+ days on duty all

08/25 There's been a fire burning in the East SF Bay this afternoon. This is East of Richmond (North of the Oakland Fire of 1991) Contra Costa Co, CA. Conditions are dry.

I heard at about 5 PM it was 70% contained at 120 acres, but then a few minutes ago I heard it had "picked back up".

Keep after it!

08/25 Firehawg:
2 days driving to the fire, 14 days on the Incident and a 2 day drive home. NWCG says travel time doesn't count against your 14, but still counts for days away from home!
08/25 Reply to mollysboy

I thought all assignments were 1 in 14 or 14, one off and then
another 7days.Why did you work 18 days on a type one team? are
they different from team to team? Please help clarify this

We still need a TFL or STL!
08/25 Wildland Firefighters--

Don't forget to take a look at the International Association of Wildland Fire website for the Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Portugal. Sign up deadline is Sept 30.
08/25 Just want to let folks know that the Almanor Ranger District Employees Association (Chester CA) is accepting donations to fund a permanent memorial for the Steve Oustad, Heather DePaolo and John Self who died when Lassen NF Engine 11 went off a cliff while fighting the Stanza Fire in Siskiyou County on July 28.

Please send contributions to the
Almanor Employee Association Firefighters Memorial Fund
Plumas Bank
P.O. Box 588
Chester, CA 96020

Donations of materials or labor are also welcome. To make such a donation,
call Larry French or Kent Nichols at the Almanor Ranger Fire District,
(530) 258-5104.

08/24 Abercrombie will be in the chatroom from 2130-2300 PDT. Lurkers and leftbehinds are welcome. Ab.
08/24 Reading the latest posting today left me shaking my head like the AFLAC duck/goose on the Yogi Berra commercial: NorCal Tom is sitting at home on his computer, critical of "Unavailable" for sitting at home in front of his/her computer instead of being on a fire, and then compliments AB for being at his/her computer (instead of being on a fire??) HUH ??

I'm unavailable for the next 7-10 days because of personal and business reasons: does NorCal Tom extend his criticism to all those of us not on fires at this time? Does my non-availability negate my recently completed 18 day assignment on a T-1 IMT? Or my earlier assignments back into May 2002? How about the several T-1 DPICs and OSC1s that are unavailable this season, too?

One last point of confusion, based about taking a downgrade assignment: doesn't ICS 310-1 encourage that practice, by allowing a DIVS to maintain currency by taking a TFL assignment? I for one have taken an Ops assignment this season below my highest quals: seemed like a simple solution to filling a Resource Order when I was asked!

NorCal Tom made a critical point: its been a long season, and its wearing on folks. As long as its on the web, so be it. But on the fireline, we need to be clear thinking and logical, and if we can sense ourselves getting run down, its time for more than the mandatory 2 days off before heading out again.

Remember that the next fire is the most important fire. We really don't need Yogi's "deja vu all over again"!!


Yogi's deja vu? Hunh? Ab.

08/24 Unavailable, are you unavailable cause you're not qualified for STL or TFL, you're just too tired, or because you have a poor attitude? If you were available maybe no one would want you. THINK ABOUT IT is raising a legit concern. This is not a slam against our Aussie friends but a SAFETY issue.

As far as down grading DIVS quals, the Biscuit is in need of 3 DIVS, no one needs to downgrade. Unavailable, Get a life! Grow up! We're in the middle of fire season and noone needs your badmouth.

NorCal Tom

You can reply if you like, but I'm heading back to the line and I'm sure THINK ABOUT IT has already gone. Why are you at home sitting in front of your computer? Sorry Ab, can't remember when some comment has made me so mad. Must be the season wearing on. An Ab, thanks for sitting in front of your computer. We all appreciate theysaid.

Yer welcome. Be safe. Ab.

08/24 Whiteash,
I have a few comment in response to your 8/21 thinning post.

The practice of planting more trees than would eventually be needed was/is done for several reasons. Since any given summer's weather pattern can not be realistically predicted, more trees are planted than are eventually needed to ensure that enough trees survive to fully regenerate the area being planted. In Ca., 1st year planting survival for pine is around 75-80% while fir and sugar pine survival is much lower. After the 3rd year, survival is even lower. In addition, planting extra trees permits the eventual removal of many of the genetically inferior trees (double tops, poor growers, etc), animal damaged trees, etc. during the thinning process. If, however, thinning is delayed for whatever reason, plantations with high survival rates can end up overcrowded. When this planting pattern was first developed, I'm sure the plan developers did not take into account that the timber program would dry up and take the funding source with it. 8 x 8 ft. spacing is very heavy. We have generally used 10 x 10 which plants around 435 trees per acre. Today, we must live with the decisions of the past and move forward.

Reading various posts and news articles I get the impression that some believe that the contractor (or logger) gets to pick and choose what he/she does within the stands they are working. FS contracts are quite specific as to what is to be accomplished and how it is to be accomplished. Timber to be removed under a commercial contract is designated prior to sale of the contract. Around this area designation in commercial projects is by painting of either leave trees or cut trees. Precommerical thinning (under 10" dbh) projects also have designated leave trees and specific specifications that must be followed. Inspectors/sale administrators enforce these specs. Our thinnings are done "from below" where the big trees are left and the smaller trees, fuel ladders and down materials are removed. It can, and is, being done.

It is quite expensive to remove many, many small trees per acre and then transport them to a location where they can be utilized for whatever product is viable in that area. Distances to processing plants are much farther in the west than in the south. Slopes are much steeper. Mechanized equipment that can be used in the south to reduce costs can not work the slopes of the west. It is often more expensive to treat and leave this material in the woods to be burned or chipped.

It is neither an easy nor cheap task that lies ahead to save our forests. To do nothing, however, is to watch our forests die from overcrowding, insect attacks and fires.


08/24 RE logging & food for thought..
Alot of talk about "clear cutting" vs thinning. Now I may be taking some of the comments made incorrectly. But it sounds like folks are talking like its up to the whim of the logger or forester as to which tactic to use. ...ummmm...what about the silvicultural needs of the species that are going to naturally regenerate or will be planted?? Some species need the total direct sunlight of a clear cut to regenerate or survive as seedlings, some will not survive well in the sun, and some need a bit of both. Each site is different in a multitude of different aspects that will determine what management scheme is best used.

Some people talk like if we allow harvesting, its up to the loggers to take what they want. ..ummm...aren't there foresters (be it government or timber industry property) that write up the specs that will be used in the harvesting?? I think so!

I think it was mellie that mentioned about it always being the two far extremes battling each other and I agree. Why the F are people like that??? There IS a middle ground and it is usually the best choice in the long run in every way. Do we need "Old growth" forests? Sure we do, but should we manage everything for old growth to support a few endangered species and overall do not provide good habitat for the majority of other wildlife? I don't think so. And what happens when that "Old Growth" dies of old age?? Its not going to be there forever.

Another thing that always sticks in my craw is when folks reference property being "destroyed" by clear cutting. Yes there has been clear cutting that has harmed the land, but in most cases not from a forestry aspect. I agree looking up on the mountain and seeing a bunch of big square blocks that have been clear cut looks like crap. But in most cases thats just it, it LOOKS terrible. If those open blocks were natural openings (granted they wouldn't be square, that is one bad thing about clear cutting in the past) would you still consider it a devastated area?? I think probably not. Also, why don't you go back and visit some of those "destroyed" areas that were cut 20-30 years ago. I'm sure that you will find in most cases they don't look so "destroyed" anymore as the new stand of timber has now began to dominate the site.

Whew..ok, I guess thats enough... just needed to vent a bit. But I just have one last thing. Before you make up your mind one way or another visit www.greenspirit.com/ and read the article "Trees Are The Answer" . I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by the writer, Patrick Moore a few years ago. I was very skeptical going in as he was a very extreme activist with greenpeace back in the 60's so I kinda expected to come out of there very frustrated with the environmental extremist stuff he was going to spout. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. What a breath of fresh air and a logical common sense perspective.


08/24 FireHawg:
"Think About It" says there are lots of DIVS in R-3, R-4 and R-9 looking for assignments in Oregon; maybe they'll take a down grade to STL or TFL?

Label me "Unavailable"
08/24 I tip my hat to the Fire officers and Forest
Management personnel that took the time this past week
to educate President Bush on Forest management and
Wildfire. From what I read this morning in The San
Diego Union, It appears he listened and learned. Now
is the time for the Managers of State forest land and
the USFS (and I know some of you lurk here) to
continue to carry the ball and educate the general
public ie: the voters, on the subject of the benefits
of Logging and understory / controlled burns and how
they relate to wildlife, fuel loading, public safety
and major Wildfires. Our President is willing to
support you and it is Your (actually all of our) job
to have a voice that is louder and makes more sense
than the voices of all the Owl Huggers that are
closing the forests, causing forest jobs to shut down,
and adding to the potential for massive uncontrolled
wildfire. Yes, I realize the drought doesn't help
much, but I just hope that the powers that be can keep
up the good work and continue to educate where it

Be safe and ill see ya in the chow line.
XR5 Hotshot
08/23 My name is Chal j McC<snip>. Im a FFT II out of Eugene, OR. I am going to Australia and New Zealand after the fire season and I was hoping you could get me some information on Wildland Fire Fighting opportunities in those regions.

Most firefighters in Australia are volunteers. Ab.
08/23 We need a STL or TFL on the Rogue River. It's a 14 day stint in beautiful
Southern Oregon, we have a good contract Task Force that's been here for
over a month, It consists of a 2000 gallon tender, 3 type 6 engines, and a 20
person handcrew. You're a forest resource for the Rogue and Siskiyou Forest.
You will get a nice hotel room in beautiful Ashland with 12-13 hour shifts,
and a possible rental car. We have had no luck in filling this order. If
interested call (541) 858-2340 which is the Medford Fire Center.

Thanks Ab for throwing this up. We're desperate to fill this!!
08/23 Beth
Interesting reading about the Tillamook burn again. Seems even old-growth is susceptible to catastrophic fire. Brings up some questions maybe someone can help me with.

Why was I told at Yellowstone in '88 that the fire was a wonderful thing, just mother nature restoring her balance, and no one ever tried to put it out (just "herded' it in different directions and got the hell out of Dodge when she went on a tear). Seems like the same thing is happening this year. Is it no longer a wonderful thing that nature is restoring her balance?

Why was I told on the Rabbit Creek fire (Idaho, '96 and only one example of a wide-spread condition) all the bug killed timber could not be salvaged but the courts had ruled it must be allowed to fall and decay so nature could take her course and it was a wonderful thing? Is this part of what we are now calling excessive fuel loading?

Why is having wide-spread large timber with NO timber harvesting so much more important in the Northwest than it is anywhere else in the country? Put another way, does the NW deserve a free ride having the benefits of forest products by forcing the rest of the country to furnish the supply as well as letting the rest of the country pay unimaginable amounts to remove the "little stuff" to manage the fuel load but not cut any trees to help pay for it?

Lets face it, with 300 million or so people and more coming every day, timber must be processed as I, for one, do not want to return to the outhouse (I don't think Sears makes catalogs any more anyway - oops, that is a timber product too) and certainly am not interested in a Southeast Asian type "squatty potty" which only requires water. Sort of reminds me of California's letting Washington/Oregon supply her electric needs - and at a reasonable price please. Why? Is it because California's land is so much more valuable than Washington/Oregon's that power plants/hydroelectric dams must not be allowed to deface that beautiful state? California has many, many things to recommend it, but that situation seems a little one-sided. Is the NW timber situation similar? Maybe the idea is that EVERYONE should drastically change their lifestyle to resemble that of a third world country so ALL timber can be large.

What is so terrible about uneven-aged management and multiple use? Before clearcutting of large areas of public land was allowed, it seemed to provide for most uses reasonably well. That was before the perceived overriding human values of few uses (and users) gained predominance. Seems to me virtually no one wants to go back to the days of clearcutting large areas of public land. It was a lousy idea on public land to begin with, but was done to maximize fiber production to meet projected demand of a growing country and world (which , indeed, it helped do). It also got practically the entire timber industry kicked out of the NW, and some other places as well.

Incidentally, please don't try to justify the current mind-set of NO timber cutting as necessary to save all the endangered species, etc. by producing a "natural" forest. I got sucked in by the spotted owl fiasco and don't intend to be so naive again.

Just a few of the things I don't understand. Somebody help me, I'm confused.

Remember the highest priority: everbody comes back.

08/23 Ab:
I see that the death benefits for wildland firefighters both in the air and on the ground are really bad.
My question now is, What about their medical and disability benefits if they are injured?
The person I am thinking about is the sawyer who was hurt last year in Kentucky.


As far as whether there are death benefits or not, the key here is whether one is a federally employed firefighter or a contract firefighter.

Families of officially designated federal "public servants" (law enforcement or firefighters) are eligible under the 1976 Public Safety Officers Benefits law to receive receive death and disability benefits -- an inflation-adjusted $259,000 one-time cash award. They may also receive tax credits and college tuition benefits for their children. Contract firefighters have only the benefits their company and personal insurance provide.

Those who are federally employed and are injured in the line of duty -- such as hotshots, smokejumpers, groundpounders, etc -- also receive medical and disability benefits, as the sawyer who was injured in KY did and does.

I am still unclear about ADs and vollies on both death and disability benefits, although I think someone said they receive death benefits. Did we ever get any "references" for those? A contract sawyer and father died on a fire earlier in the summer this year. Did that firefighter's family receive death benefits?

As far as medical and disability for contractors, that's supposed to be covered by the company they work for and whatever insurance they purchase.

For more info, check http://wffoundation.org/survivors.phpl. While you're there, check out the rest of the website. Lots of deaths this year. Help out the families. Make a donation. Most of the work of the organization is done by volunteers so most of your donation will go to those in need. Ab.
08/23 What do you get when there is 75,000 Acres burning in your backyard and youre sitting at home? A dead coyote especially when already dying and Your boss won't work You Enough To Pay Rent?
To Good to Work All the time Got to Do replacement once a Month.

Dying Coyote Of The Umpqua.
08/23 Yep, the Prez sure has stirred it up with the logging vs. preservation
factions. Been around long enough to know that whatever comes of it, the
fallout will likely make it harder to do our jobs, not easier.

I heard a good talk on NPR the other day in which the point was made that
the issue centers around how we define "thinning". Both sides agree that
thinning is good, but the conservationists don't want to include anything
that has commercial value and the logging industry tells us that we have to
thin big trees to pay for the small ones. Having been there trying to
manage the areas that actually need the work done, I know there is
something in between in most cases, and it would be impossible to define
thinning to an exact measurement that would fit everywhere. Every site is
a little different and has different factors. That is why there are so
called fire and fuels experts to sort it out. This isn't a cookie cutter
production line business after all.

Seems to me neither side will ever trust the other and the resource
agencies will always be caught in the middle as long as politics interferes
with reality. (God help us, I'm afraid that politics IS reality.....)

08/23 I have been listening to the debate about thinning, burning or otherwise
treating areas to reduce the ravages of fire. A lot of people seem to feel
logging is not what we need. Since we still fall under the mandate of
sustainable forests (60's direction within the Forest Service) and
maintaining forest health, it becomes apparent that we need to use all the
tools and techniques we have in the past. This would include the logging
word which includes clear-cuts.

All you have to do is look at stands
around this great land and, for the most part, you'll see a bunch decadent
stands which include: Dog haired thickets, rounded top old growth, mature
trees with no real distinguishing tops, and the ubiquitous over abundance
of snags. If this doesn't speak of decaying forests then I seem to be
missing something. The solution is not just about thin/burn and call it
suffice but we need to use the whole array of tools in our bag that
includes logging in all its forms. Logging, as well as thinning, is a good
way of removing a size class which additionally is an economic benefit for
communities as well as maintaining uneven aged class stands. If you thin
a smaller size class without taking some of the bigger trees that cover
these stands you'll end up with stunted trees that have no chance at
maintaining a sustainable growth. When you have weather conditions like we
have had in the last few years; will that stand survive with fire?
Probably not.

Using all our tools will not only help the public by
providing some financial help and restoring a viable ecological sound
forest but will make it easier or more doable for fire managers to treat
and defend. If you have the logger remove some then we treat their
leavings and thin other portions we have a stand that can be defended
within or without from fire. To be able to pick up the pace in managing
our forests effectively we need to look at all treatments and use every
tool we can muster including help where we can get it.

Fire Goy
08/23 Dana and Mellie....

Good points on your insight to the nations ecological problem. Philosophically speaking...lol! We are our own worst neighbors and here's why: many of our lands in the west have been protected under a special designation that carry "can do" and "can nots"...ie...mitigation factors of the T/E Species Act, wilderness, monuments, parks..etc. The nation has been moving steadily towards becoming better stewards (I use this word loosly because it carries a lot of meaning) of the land because publics at large are concerned for land, water, and plant/animal species health. I don't think that we can actually point fingers at one single administration for causing the fuel loadings that we are currently faced with unless we point at the Smokey the Bear campaign.

Finding balance as the pendulum will be the critical responsibility of this administration. Hopefully, that can be done without have the scales tipped.


08/23 Ab,

I can't seem to get into the photo section of fires 2002, specifically the NcNally Fire. It keeps saying the page is not available.

My son is in one of the photos and I would love to see it.

Can you help me out?


Diana, This is the R5 fire url that our Fires 2002 page links to: http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/sequoia/incident/McNalleyphotolink.php .
Try this one instead. I'm changing the www.r5.fs.fed.us to the equivalent number addy. You can try this any time you have a problem with the R5 fire site.
If this doesn't work, e-mail me again and I will give you the solution provided us by the "hackers" among us who have written in. Nothing illegal of course, but conditions have stretched some of the people trying to get info from the R5 web to seek more creative solutions. This Ab has even learned a few things. Hopefully those in charge of the R5 fire web will come up with a permanent and consistent fix soon. Hmmmmm, wonder what the politics and personalities are behind this current and ongoing SNAFU... Ab.

08/23 Dana,

A pdf version of the Bush Initiative is posted at

Puffin II
08/23 I had to do a little research on Oregon's Tillamook Burn of 1933 and found this again from the
Tacoma Public Library: Tillamook Burn of 1933
Thought it might be of some current interest given the fire to the south.

For you fire history buffs, here's another one on the Fires of 1910, the summer that shifted how the public of the times looked at fires and began our US push for suppressing them.
Tacoma Public Library: Forest Fire of 1910

Ab has some good books and reviews on the fire books page.
Fires have also been burning in China and Russia this summer.

Fire Books
And a plug. If you order any of these books (or anything else Amazon sells) after entering through our Amazon portal, we make a small commission that helps defray the costs of this website. Ab.
08/23 Thanks Firescribe for the links.

I would really like to see the details of the Presidents "Healthy Forests Initiative" so I can decide for myself whether this is a legitimate plan for thinning for fire control or a loophole for clear cutting. The rhetoric from both opposing sides on this is just too polarized to believe. It certainly doesn't help that "last-minute provisions in the amendment added by the Bush administration, at the insistence of timber groups" were slipped in as this suggests a collusive partnership rather than an open and honest process. Though normally not a great fan of "environmentalists" I can well understand why they are very skeptical of this policy at this point. I too find the Presidents' "declare emergencies and get to thinning now, before it's too late" statement a bit alarming, given his history. The "declare an emergency" strategy has used by several past leaders and have too often turned out to be more of a "quick... while they are scared lets' pull a fast one" move. Personally I am a bit concerned that the "war on terrorism" appears to be turning into a war on constitutional rights. But I digress.

We need a legitimate and sustainable thinning and preemptive burn policy implemented very soon. I hope this is what is currently being presented. A policy which in any way appears to be tailored to primarily enrich large logging companies will prove in the end to be exactly what is not needed.

Is there a copy of the plan available online?

08/23 Mellie has some good points about the looming plans for the national forests and Bush's speech in Oregon.
However I fear that our forests will simply become a playground for the logging industry and their old growth
removal machines. The dollar it seems is gleaming in their eyes. I hope that actual thinning is accomplished and
not the destruction we saw on the Umpqua in the days of the clearcuts. I cant help but think that Bush will use
this "need for thinning" to bolster the economy by reigniting the rickety logging infrastructure. This has got to
work or else there will be little to suppress.

08/22 Ab,

Folks might want to know that in the Wednesday's August, 21st, Rapid City Journal, (Rapid City,
SD) the editorial called for amending the 26 year old federal PSOB law to include contractors
that work fires under contract with a federal agency. The editorial specifically mentions the
six fellow firefighters that died in air tanker and helicopter crashes while working wildfires
this season. This is important to the cause that is discussed time and time again on this
board, because the Rapid City Journal is the second largest daily newspaper in the home state
of the senate majority leader, Tom Daschle.

I can't seem to pull up an archived version of the editorial on their web page, but I'm sure we
could find a way to distribute copies to anybody interested in using it in a mailing to Sen.

On another note, thanks to all of the folks that came in from out-of-state to help us locals to
get our arms around the Battle Creek fire this past week. Appreciate the help. With everybody
going to Colorado in June, and coming back to South Dakota in July and August to tackle three
type I fires in 6 weeks has made for a long season in the Dakota's, and we are just starting
our crucial two week fire season in the Black Hills that historically sees our major fires.
And in the middle of all that, we lost a fellow firefighter on prairie fire. Wear that PPE and
remember LCES.


Here's the Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) editorial. Ab.
08/22 From Firescribe

Some information on the points of Bush's Plan:
08/22 OneLick

Check out the "Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook" section
13.6 Exhibit 01. That gives all fire positions and AD classification that
go with each position. If you are not working for a contractor and hired
by a government agency, then we have to go by the "book" (FF2 = AD2). If
the job you are hired to do requires a CDL (bus driver maybe) then the AD
class is AD4. As for contractors they put their dollar rates in at the
start of the year, and if we hire them then that's what they get.
Unfortunately I don't think the government pays for how hard you work, but
for what you know. Check out the GS ratings for smokejumpers or hot
shots, it's hard to get past GS-7.

08/22 I agree with Dick.

Just because someone comes from a different region should not preclude them
from serving in fireline supervision positions.

My only expectation is that American firefighting professionals would be
invited to fight fire downunda (and hopefully not just Washington Office

I am a firm believer that the best wildland firefighters in the world are
those who have experienced wildland firefighting in the most fuel types and

With regard to cleaning all the DIVS out of the West, I don't believe that
for an instant. The bottom line is that there are still DIVS around, it's
just that local areas are not making them available for dispatch (for
whatever reasons). I would strongly suggest that the Aussies and other
international firefighters get integrated into local Districts first, so as
to free up qualified fire line supervisors. This would be a great way to
exchange knowledge and expertise. To all those Aussies, Canadians and
Kiwi's - thanks for your help and please know that you are always welcome!

Mr. Think Big
World-wide firefighting, INC.

I woke up in the middle of the night THINKING ABOUT IT. This has been an ongoing issue on this board, how those from out of an area can safely fight fire when they have no experience with local fire. I thought of about a dozen people I wanted to call and talk to, from crew members to team members on up. Trouble is, many are away... and others wouldn't appreciate a call at 3AM. Instead I just got up and found a book to read so as not to think about it. <chuckle>

Today I rearranged my schedule and have been watching some TV, an unusual thing for me. I want to see what the networks are saying in preparation for Bush's talk in Oregon today. For the most part, they have chosen people to face off who represent the extremes, the Sierra Club rep who faces off against the Heritage Foundation rep on MSNBC, for example.

The Sierra Club guy says the Forest Service has had 7 years to reduce fuels and hasn't done it. He also stresses that there is no plan and there is a lack of fiscal accountability. Boy he is living in the past at least as far as FS FIRE goes. Fiscal accountability is there once the money gets to the fireground (overblown FS cost pools is a problem, imho). The fire plan is there -- in the last 2 years -- which is the time we have had to bring the work force up a bit to be able to begin to safely accomplish a plan. As far as not doing it in 7 years, good grief, with the court cases and foia paperwork that groups like his bring, it's no wonder we're not yet up to speed on fuel reduction.

The Heritage Group woman was better, although she clearly represents the loggers which again polarizes the discussion. And in my mind this is not about logging -- which conjures up images of clear cutting, but about thinning, finding a way to get out the small stuff with a minimum of larger stuff being taken.

One other issue that came up was restricting the fuel reduction to areas on the interface. It seems the Sierra Club rep doesn't even understand that we need fuel reduction in areas outside the interface so as not to have the catastrophic fire that nukes the trees, soils, etc and makes forest recovery very difficult. We do not have the conditions that existed a hundred years ago.

OK, I know I'm preaching to the choir here.
<turns around to address the lurkers>
Please, I ask you listen to whatever is said with an open mind. Rise above viewing fire issues only in terms of the extreme polarities the media seems to thrive on. Work on understanding the real issues and work on finding some real solutions. Ask your fire professionals who are also environmentalists to speak up. Don't let this process be driven by the extremes. We are all in this together.

Finding no solution is a choice that puts our forests, our wild environments, our water supplies, our threatened and endangered species and our interface communities at risk.

Bush is slated to speak soon.

<aghhhhhhh> The Wilderness Society rep is saying "there's a fair amount of timber being cut in the west now." Not true, compared to 10 years ago.

08/22 Just got back from the biscuit, was working as a hemg and a helco trainee,
I got a good look at the fire and the types of fuel it is burning in. My
normal job is in timber but in a year like this one I have been on more
fires than timber sales, I work sale prep and sale admin on a unit that
sells 65 million board feet a year, so I know alittle about timber and the
benefits of logging or using the politically correct term vegetation
management/fuels reduction. As for what I can attest to, I saw a
tremendous amount of dead timber through out out the fire area and I am not
talking killed by fire but already in the later state of bone dry snags.
This is just an estimate on my part but it appeared to me that there were
more dead than green standing timber over the vast majority of the burned
acres. I can only say that limiting the amount of applied forestry on
the ground has gotten us into this situation of catastrophic damage of
unprecedented proportions. I'm not saying lets clearcut everything but on
the other hand not doing anything is worst than what we were doing years

08/22 In reading the comments from "THINK ABOUT IT" concerning the use of Aussie (and New Zealand) fire folks on US fires such as "Biscuit", I'm reminded of the old saying that "if it ain't my wheel, it won't roll".

During the summer of 2000, I was at NIFC when the concept of using Aussies, Kiwis and Canadians was raised: they all sent reps to Boise with all their Training and Quals manuals/handbooks/etc. There was a rigorous review and comparison of those standards and criteria against ICS 310-1, and they were only certified when they met the US criteria. Their OPS and Air folks performed very well on our fires, and a thorough review was conducted that supported their continued use.

I've also had the opportunity to travel to Australia on 6 different occasions to work with the Aussies on Bushfire/wildfire issues, and found them to be well trained, competent and safety conscious. Yeah, they do in fact have 10/18: worded slightly different than ours, but nearly identical. They are mostly Tanker-based (our engines) in their suppression efforts, but have some hand crews and tractor operations. They have a serious concern about safety (all of my trips DownUnda were fire safety related), and they have studied our fatal fires such as South Canyon in great detail; "Fire on the Mountain" was required reading at the Country Fire Authority's (CFA) "Professional Development Course for Operations Officers" in 2001. When they do have a safety failure ("Linton" in December 1998 killed 5 tanker crewmen), they do a full, complete AND PUBLICLLY OPEN review of all the details. Check out www.cfa.vic.gov.au/linton/index.phpl

Yeah, there is a difference in Australian/NZ fires and "Biscuit"; the same can be said for fires in the Florida swamps, West Texas plains and Indiana Sand Dunes. We accept Easterners, Southerners and Mid-westerners on "Biscuit", and they also allow us Westerners to go South to into the Okie National Wildlife Refuge or the Volusia County interface. Is there really a difference bringing in Aussies and Kiwis? Their areas around Sydney and Melbourne are mirror images of conditions in Southern California chaparal.

I too was on "Biscuit" as an OSC1, and sure didn't find the folks at NIFC offering up lots of DIVS from USFS Regions 4, 9 or 3 as suggested. We only call up the Aussies, Kiwis and Canucks (as well as us old retirees) 'cause there aren't enough permanent, full-timers from America to fill all the resource orders.

Its a basic premise of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group that we accept each other's quals, weather Fed, State, Rural, County. Let's get past our biases and look at performance. The options this year (again) were to overextend the span of control, or leave fires (or some divisions) unstaffed. In my opinion, our "mates" from the Southern Hemisphere are a welcome addition to our fire forces.


08/22 Here's something else to think about.
Having gotten back from the Tiller Complex, I've been thinking about my
wonderful experience in the Pacific Northwest, and couldn't help but wonder
why is an AD2 one of the lowest paid people on the fireline? The bus
drivers were making more money than we were!! One of the tender operators
was getting $25/hour. I realize they are under contract, but that is a
Federal contract that they sign at the beginning of the year, correct?
Please don't take this as a bitch session, I'm here to catch fire any way I
can get it, but some of the other guys on my crew were only there for the
money (boy, you could tell the difference) It just doesn't make any sense
to me why some of the hardest working people on the line are getting paid
the least. Any answers?
08/22 Got back from Biscuit last night, thinking about what is going on there kinda got me a little fired up. All these folks from downunder come to help with good intentions and I appreciate their efforts.

I do have a problem with making them DIVS and actually assigning American trainees to them after they shadowed an American DIVS for a few days. They can't be ready for such a task on a busy, and exceeding large Division with more resources than they will ever get on a large fire in their own country.

By their own accounts the Australian contingent have never seen anything like this, and outside of Alaska we have not either. Terrain, fuels and weather in the Siskiyous are so different than anything they have ever experienced. I know that if I was sent to Australia and put in the environment that they are from I would not assume such responsibilities and I have been a DIVS since 1988.

They may be the best firefighters in Australia but I can't believe they can be making tactical decisions based on anything but what the Branch Directors are telling them.

Some will say fire is fire but there are vast differences in the way we do things and the way they are used to fighting fire. There are no handcrews in Australia therefore no hand crew tactics or safety considerations. Do they know the 10 AND 18? the Downhill, Indirect Fireline Guidelines? and how to apply them to the situation at hand? Are they aware of the Common Denominators of Fatality Fires and the types of tragedies we have experienced in our recent history.

If 30 Mile and South Canyon are so important to us that we make far reaching changes in the way we look at all the aspects of this firefighting thing from safety zones to the 2 to 1 work rest ratio, supervision, decision making, risk awareness and all the rest. Then how in good conscience can we put some one from Australia in charge of 1000 people on the biggest fire in living memory??

The Aussies are great firefighters and I enjoyed working with them and the Canadians on the Biscuit fire, but I pity the fool who decided to make them fireline supervisors after a week of shadowing a Type 1 team member on a fire and visiting NIFC for a day. If someone gets hurt or killed on their watch where is the responsibility going to lie? and what is OSHA going to say about that?? On the other hand if they are successful, is this going to be the way we do business from now on. I am sure there are plenty of DIVS sitting in Region 4 or 9 or 3 that would love to come to Oregon.

Bring the out of country folks in to learn how we do things or run a pulaski or squirt water, but don't put them in supervisory positions. I would expect no less if I were lucky enough to be invited to Australia or Canada.


08/21 G'day Ab,

I've got to agree with OB. No info at all on the blokes from Oz and how they're going. Thanks Molloysboy.

Here on the west side of Oz we are also having a ver dry spell. So far this August we are at 40% of average rainfall. June and July were also below average. I am glad we have some people over there getting up to speed and learning some new stuff in time for our season.

Stay safe,

08/21 MOC4546, thanks for the info on the Cal. FFTR memorial. All states should have something like that.

Onelick, I definitely do not have any animosity towards IAFF members. They have some great firefighters, I mourn the loss of their members, and I respect the right on that organization to honor its fallen brothers and sisters.

The IAFF memorial has had some controversy. The Colorado Springs newspaper ran some articles critical of the IAFF for being discriminatory while the memorial is in a city (not union) owned park. In 1994 a Colorado Springs radio station held a fund raiser for the families of the South Canyon fatalities. They chose the IAFF memorial as a location. They were told to cease and desist by the IAFF because none of the 14 fatalities were union members.

FWFSA Socal , I agree, let us remember the sacrifices. I mourn the loss of my friends. I am saddened by the loss of any firefighter, whether they be VFD, contract, union, Fed, city, etc. But also remember that families and friends have gone to the IAFF memorial and found out that their loved ones did not qualify. That is truly a slap in the face.


08/21 From Firescribe:
Bush will be in Oregon tomorrow to look at the fires.

Amidst other discussion, Forest Ecologist Jim Agee explains why
Western wildfires have become so common

Bush proposal to target "fire crisis"

08/21 Ab and All,

As one of the firefighters who was deployed to the USA (Idaho & Montana) in August / September 2000, & seeing the various patches worn by crews over there, I thought you may be interested in our patches from the Olinda Hotshots & Victorian Wildfire Fighters for inclusion on your web page.

Wol (from the Dandenong Ranges National Park, Victoria Australia)

Posted em on the Logo 5 page. Ab.
08/21 White Ash,

It sounds like you are talking about a Pine plantation. They are common in my neck-o-the-woods (midwest) and probably so in most of the eastern US. I have never noticed many in the western us, however I do clearly recall planting trees (using a chain saw head with an auger attachment to dig the holes, and, boy did that separate out the wimps!) at abt 8x8 spacing. Plantations usually go through a couple of row thinnings before it gets to the point where you start doing a selective thinning and by that time the trees are usually big enough for saw logs. For pulp the mills take trees down to a 4inch dia at the small end and sometimes even down to 2inch if they need the wood. The difference here (midwest at least) is that there is a HUGE pulp (trees to make paper) market (in both demand and mills that need the raw product) and we do not have the huge costs/difficulty of getting the trees from the stump to the mill as in a remote mountain location. I would assume that the problems with accomplishing some thinning needs in western states are just that. The cost is to much to make it economically feasible.

On a related theme, I also remember doing a LOT of post timbersale work ( in the west) which consisted to cutting down all remaining trees & saplings to prep an are to be burned and replanted. I dont have a clue now as to what was the the majority species we were cutting down, (probably something the foresters did not want or it was stunted from being under the original canopy...at least I hope) but I have always wondered as it seemed like we cut down a ton of trees just to replant the area after the burn.


08/21 I'm trying to not be bugged by the descriptions posted so far
about the 5150 designation; "nut case" and "drugged up" and "crazy" and
"not quite all there" descriptions help others get the drift, I guess,
but my daughter was a 5150 last year and was put on a hold by state
police (not in California).

She's not any of the above, though.. She wasn't then and she isn't now.
She has a mental illness, bi-polar disorder, and she may have
been a danger to herself and she may have been a danger to others
(but probably not) but she was DEFINITELY operating from a distant
planet there for a while.

Kind of like driving a red Monte Carlo, you start seeing red Monte
Carlos all over the road ... I'd never noted the news reports before
about TOTALLY CONFUSED humans who are arrested in what often starts out
as a traffic case, but now I see them all the time. Very unfortunately
for those of us who get to deal with it, these folks in a manic episode
(bi-polar disorder is also known as manic-depressive) do appear to be
complete nutcases. Sometimes they get wrassled (or even shot) by first
responders or other LEO because they seem to be severely deranged or
drug-crazed or some other bizarre situation ..... if you are a first
responder of any flavor, I'd strongly urge you to find out a little bit
about bi-polar disorder and get your department/unit to fetch in a
trainer/seminar on this. If you've never seen it before, it'll freak you
out. (They called a hazmat team and a bomb squad when my daughter
finally made contact with LEO.) If you've seen it once, you'll probably
recognize it from there on out. But they're rarely dangerous, far as I
know. Please don't shoot 'em, and please don't assume they're drugged-up
nutcases. It's just that their brains have taken a temporary vacation to
another planet.

Thanks for the forum, Ab, there's nothing else like it anywhere in the
known universe. [hug]

08/21 New CDF Wife,

Schedule A vs. Schedule B is an identification for basically a funding source.
Schedule B resources such as Type III engines and bulldozers etc. are funded by the State of California.

Schedule A resources such as Type I engines, Rescues, Paramedic Units, and Truck Companies are funded by a local government agencies such as a county or fire district. CDF has about 38 Counties in California that have contracted with CDF to be their fire department. The contract county determines the amount of staffing and type of equipment they want and CDF will tailor the fire protection to there needs and budget. If the contract wants 4 person staffing on an ALS Truck company, we can do that. If they want 2 person staffing on a Type II engine, that can be done as well.

As for 5150 this is a code that basically says a person is a danger to themselves or others due to a mental incapacity. A peace office can place them under arrest for 72 hours for their own protection until a psychological evaluation can be conducted.


08/21 Schedule A is basically like a city fire dept., it is in conjunction with a
county or district (some legal area) contracting with CDF to provide all the
services of a regular fire department. CDF in some southern counties has
ladder trucks and do medical aids, traffic accidents, hazmat, the whole 9
yards. I think Schedule B is more seasonal firefighting, or as we called it
when I worked "brush bunnies". 5150 is police or fire lingo for a nut case,
someone who has tried to kill themselves, drugged up, crazy for numerous
reasons is arrested and called a 5150. At least this is the way it was
taught to me long, long ago.

08/21 To New CDF Wife:

While I'm not a CDF'er, I believe that Schedule A and B have something to do
with whether or not a county has contracted out fire protection to CDF. A
5150 is someone who's not quite all there, is determined by a Peace Officer
to be a threat to themselves and/or others, and can be arrested (I think on
a 48 hr. hold) for their own protection.


08/21 Thinning the forests:

So many forested acres need thinning now, and the reproduction (replanted)
units are fueling the intensity of fires. It occurred to me that we were
forced to plant them that way.

In the boom years (late '70s & '80s) for timber cutting and reforestation,
our worker-owned cooperative planted trees all across the Western forests.
The prescription usually called for 8'x 8': if you didn't plant a tree
every 8 feet, your pay could be docked. We even had a few "no pay" units
because we didn't put in enough trees. This news came after the work was
finished; the inspector told us we'd only earn 80% of our bid price, or
nothing at all. Once a planting crew even went back in anger and
re-planted some trees "green side down" to protest. But the practice of
planting 640 trees per acre persisted. Perhaps the foresters were trained
in agriculture and wanted the clearcuts to look like orderly plantations of
other crops. The rationale was that you would later go back and thin the
trees which survived.

Thinning contracts were paid with the receipts from timber sales. When
logging slowed down, there was no money for thinning. All of those
overstocked units are now 20-30 years old, thick as doghair, impenetrable,
weakened and prone to burn.

New funding sources must be found for thinning, yes. The practice of
letting the logger "take" a few big trees to make their work profitable is
what stands in the way for the environmentalists. Can we sell the little
pecker poles for chips to make paper? How about making oriented strand
board? Can we use all the thinnings to add mulch back into the soil which
has been burned to death? Who pays for that? How can we teach selective
thinning, which means something better for the forest than just highgrading
the big trees? How can we write contracts which require this and train
inspectors to enforce it? More research is required; more money is
required to enable the National Fire Plan to be effective. But if the will
and the intent are there, we can find the way.

Our forestry must give back to the land, not merely extract the resources.
President Bush is coming out to Oregon to visit the fires and discuss
forest health this week. I hope someone can give him this perspective.

08/21 Can any of the CDFers tell me what is the difference between Schedule A and Schedule B firefighters and what is a 5150?

New CDF Wife
08/21 Ghost Load wrote about the many crews and teams who cycled through the Silver Fire (in the Early August Archive.) The Silver burned through much of the same area the Biscuit Fire is now. Our crew was sent to the Silver for the third time around on Columbus Day, Oct.12th, and returned on Halloween - we put in 3 week tours of duty in those days. The nights were getting long and cold and we had the most unusual sleeping area.

Heavy green canvas wall tents housed 10 people each. The ground inside was covered by wooden pallets, nicely carpeted with thinsulite foam pads. We each had a cot with extra paper sleeping bags. Propane heaters at either end of the tents and flourescent light kits strung up along the ridgepole completed the homey setting. This made for long evenings playing cards or reading. We also had a VCR movie tent and I saw more videos than ever.

The work was winding down; we only saw fire or smoke twice. Most of the days were filled with rehab of wilderness firelines along trails, flush-cutting and covering stumps, making waterbars, etc. We moved mountains of dusty old tanoak and madrone brush which had been sitting outside the fireline for at least a month. Then there was the rehab of all the various firecamps. If a farmer's field had been rented we fixed fences, picked up garbage after the 20-yard dumpsters were moved after being in the same place for weeks (yuch!), re-seeded tracks through the pastures, and fixed anything else the landowners thought we had disturbed. All this without any possibility of hazard pay.

Meals were taken at the restaurant in Agness; they had wonderful carved jack-o-lanterns on display from the previous Native American crew. The local store couldn't deliver sodas or juice (this was before bottled water) because they had not been paid yet for all the supplies they had delivered earlier and they could no longer extend credit to the govt.

I thought at the time it was a unique situation, but now I see this historical experience may be valuable again. These are just some of the situations you all may be facing next month as the Biscuit fire winds down.

"Woman-on-Fire" - now grown and changed into "WhiteAsh"

08/21 My family and I want to thank all the firefighters and specially those working to protect our homes and community near Laytonville CA. I know how hard you all work to keep us safe. We've had a lot of smoke from the Oregon fires lately and I can only imagine your working conditions.

How do you say it?
Be safe,


08/20 6,

From your previous post...... "Last time I checked, you had to be a member of the IAFF killed in the line of duty to get your name on the IAFF Colo Springs memorial. Last time I looked there were no wildland firefighter's names on that memorial." ...... When you check next time there will be. IAFF Local F0262 Member, Steve Oustad, member of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association will be missed by all of us in the Wildland Fire community.

All three members of LNF E-11 will be added to the California Firefighters Memorial and the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Maryland.

Let us remember the sacrifices they have made and not begin discussions of who is or is not on specific memorials. To begin discussion like that would be a slap in the face to the families, friends, co-workers, and the entire Wildland Firefighting community.


08/20 Hey 6, I read your post regarding wildland firefighters being posted on a Memorial Wall in Colorado Springs. Here in California near the State Capital Building is the California Firefighter's Memorial where any firefighter from a Federal, State, or Local Govt. Agency who dies in the line of duty, regardless of IAFF membership, wildland, or structure firefighter has his/her name placed on the wall annually. You can look up information about it using a search engine.

Here's a question for anyone: Has there been a formal or informal ban on Federal Wildland Fire Agencies from posting individual websites up (like for engines, crews, stations, etc.). There were once some good ones either attached to a Forest's Website (such as the R-5 Modoc NF's E-65 crew/station) that have been removed or cannot be located. The Lassen NF has a great website regarding information about its Fire Management Teams for each district.

Anyone have an answer?


08/20 Thanks Butterfly -for all the good links. I don't know much about what is going on with homeland security, just seems they should be using our system. The old problem with reinventing the wheel and all that. Also- The SoCali Intel page is useful. I have not seen that before.

Ab, I really appreciate this forum even if I just lurk most of the time. You have a terrific one-stop links page. I can count on it when out of town. I like the fires, 2002 page too.

SoCal FWFSA, good work. The Storm King hike is sobering. We will not forget.

IIMT guy

Yer welcome and so is Butterfly for the kind words. We try to make useful pages and are happy when successful. Ab.
08/20 Hey 6,

If you read the first part of SoCalCapt's post, he is going to the IAFF's
memorial AFTER a trip to the South Canyon memorial. Hence, wildland fire
history and IAFF history. I sure hope that there is no animosity towards
IAFF members. Because we are all here for one purpose. I personally am a
very active member of my local, and at the state legislative level. Our
state association fights for ALL firefighters, not just IAFF members.

08/20 www.steamboatpilot.com/

Here's the info on the 4 fires around Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

08/20 AL, Thanks.

If you click on More Images on the lower right of the first page and
then go to the bottom of the Satellite Imagery Gallery, there's a natural
hazards section that included AZ and ID fires, the Hayman Fire and
Durango Fire. Those are pretty neat.


Just click here and go to Natural Hazards at the end. Ab.
08/20 Hey Ab,

Home for a moment from the Biscuit. This satellite image has been making the rounds. Awesome to see where I just was.


If you click on the photo you go to a new page devoted to the fire. If you click on the photo on that page you get a even bigger image, you can see the burnout and the ridges and the roads. Amazing technology.


Very nice one, Al. The detail on the large image is excellent. One of the Abs updated the Current Fires, 2002 page last night. With new fires burning in CO and further west, it's interesting to see which ones get represented on the web. Hats off to those teams who are able to put the info out for the public. It's easier and more efficient for them to pull the info than for the team to have to push it via fax or phone. Ab.

08/20 Cache Queen,

Thanks for the fast response! The info you provided (fire shelter fabric) is just what I need. Now if only I can
make all the bears in the Sierras stand still while I wrap 'em....

Rock @ Wood's Fire and Emergency Services
08/20 Ab - Howdy! Here's some miscellaneous stuff...

TO OB - Best place to get a GACC map (of the fire management regions) is on the NICC (National Interagency Coordination Center) site at: www.nifc.gov/news/nicc.phpl .

The best place to find out how to get to the CA / R5 site is here, as it's still not fully functional all the time. No outlook yet on when that will be up but I hear folks are working on it, or at least some of them (hopefully...).

Also, as a side-note, here's a gem few seem to know about for "real-time intelligence"... at least two of the GACCs have "News & Notes" pages that are updated with current information throughout the day.
Southern CA: www.fire.r5.fs.fed.us/scsc/gaccintel/notes.phpl,
Southwest: www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/webdaily/swaintnn.php.
The southern CA site also has some pretty good archives of the fire season this year and last, but you have to navigate around a little to find stuff as it's not on the main CA Intelligence Site.

TO IIMT - I have heard from some folks who are involved with FEMA that they are working on ICS and also using some of the other things the wildland system has in place for setting priorities and managing multiple disasters. Also, in Bush's recently released National Strategy for Homeland Security, and in all of the other related literature his offices have put out this spring, he very clearly states the need for one single comprehensive integrated national incident management system and the response plans to match (also integrated). In some of the literature, ICS is mentioned as well as mutual aid, interagency efforts, etc. However, it is not yet obvious how or when FEMA or the new Department of Homeland Security (which doesn't quite exist just yet) will make a move in this direction. I would be interested to talk to you more.... if you want, maybe Ab can send you my name or vise-versa... I'm trying to find out more on this myself. Here's part of what I've come across...

The National Strategy for Homeland Security is at:: www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/ ...Look for the "emergency preparedness and response" sections...

Here are two newsletters on homeland security issues, for those who are interested (the first one is the most useful...):


It is my personal opinion that FEMA and the rest of the country could learn a lot from wildland firefighters. We manage more and larger incidents and mobilize more resources faster than any other government or other agency anywhere in this country. And, we even work together doing it a lot of the time, between agencies. If there is another proven way to handle so many large incidents more efficiently than we do, I would be very interested in finding out how it could be done. It is inspiring to see the Coast Guard take such an active role in learning how we do business... they even have their own version of the Fireline Handbook (I think it's online somewhere also).

Well, that's a soapbox if I ever saw one. I guess that's why we have this forum, huh Ab? And on a personal note, three cheers for Ab for all the time and dedication you are putting into this site. I remember when I first started following "They Said It" in 98... with a small chummy group of "discussors" participating and a much more basic set of topics than the complexity we have nowadays.
Thank you, Ab and the other one(s) for making this site
an invaluable intelligence tool,
a forum,
a laundry room,
a training center,
a firehouse,
a neighborhood,
a family,
a support group,
a union hall,
a counseling center,
an open mike night (and we have some poets), and
an all-around wildfire clearinghouse.

Thanks again, and don't overwork yourself (take some time out! we'll survive!) --
- butterfly

Nice list of descriptors for the site, Butterfly. Ab.

08/19 SoCalCapt

Last time I checked, you had to be a member of the IAFF killed in the line of duty to get your name on the IAFF Colo Springs memorial. Last time I looked there were no wildland firefighter's names on that memorial.

The memorial in Maryland contains the names of all firefighters killed in the line of duty, including VFD members and wildland firefighters.

08/19 NMAirBear,

The Hinman fire was combined with the Burn Ridge fire and is now being reported under the Mt. Zirkel Complex. On Fri and Sat we had 50 mph winds. Windy! Aircraft were even grounded. The Burn Ridge Fire began on Aug 12 as the result of lightning and blew over the continental divide in the Mt Zirkel Wilderness on Sat. On Sat the Hinman grew to 9,236 acres.

You're right, the Hinman that began July 12 had been reported contained at 1426 acres on July 24. Contained isn't controlled though and all it takes are fuel, O2 and some flying embers. You've been on our fireline, you know we have drought, a million tree blowdown and beetle killed trees. There are thousands of standing beetle killed spruce trees - 30 to 80% depending on location- in the Mt Zirkel Wilderness. Their needles are quite flammable and they're ready to torch off. Flamelengths rise a hundred feet or more above the trees. Brands and embers get kicked out and take off up to a mile and a half ahead of the fire. No stopping it. Just gotta get out of the way. Managers are being safe.

Diann Pipher our FS spokeswoman is saying that the fires are likely to burn together. We are now managing them as one and trying to keep them from spreading to private property. I've heard this is one of the top priorities in the Rocky Mts.


PS Some arguments for reducing fuels and cutting trees here.

08/19 Rock --

The shelter wrap item you are looking for is available at Cleveland
Laminating -- 888-883-8484 ext. 228. Ask for Pat Thomas or Jeff Metzger
(at ext. 216). There are two different widths available and it comes in

Cache Queen
08/19 Mellie,
It's worse today, it's smokie and it smells like fire but there's none around
here. Just signs and symptoms of fire. I think it's drift smoke anyway,
unless I missed something.

Went to Sacramento last week and went to the firefighter memorial near the
capital building and took some pictures, when I get them developed I will
email them to Ab for posting. Not much else to say.

Keep safe, it sounds dangerous out there.

Ab sez Them thar OR trees and ladder fuels are goin' up in smoke. Enough trees that Oregon legislators are talking. We're all in this together. See Firescribe's post below.
08/19 The FDNY's five month 100 page independent study (by McKinsey & Co) is out. Recommendations include beefing up the Incident Command System for better control of firefighters and equipment, improving communications, bolstering HAZMAT, working with neighboring fire departments and agencies such as Coast Guard and CIA, and basing the Command Staff in Brooklyn at the ops center instead of at the disaster scene. The mayor and others have been careful to praise the firefighters and their evacuation of 25,000 people while emphasizing that this report has been done to improve the department overall so it can better respond to such threats in the future.

I was wondering if FEMA has a working ICS in place or if they're working on it. If the IIMTs are in the middle of a fire season like this one or the one in 2000 and are actively evacuating people from the fire front, our teams might not be so available to respond to multiple events elsewhere. Priorities will have to be evaluated. We have a good system for setting priorities with multiple fires and other disasters. FEMA should use us as a model.

IIMT guy

I have heard that such plans are in the works. Coast Guard and other non-fire people have been showing up on fire this summer to see how the system works. Undoubtedly our ICS is being used as a model.

08/19 From Firescribe:

Wildfires Fuel Forest Thinning Debate

Ab, please add this one- The actual news event and release of the report (on the networks) was much more directed toward changes than this CNN article suggests. The mayor made it very clear that this is not a blame game or pointing the finger, but looking for ways to improve response and functioning when confronted in the future with such a large and difficult incident.
FDNY recommends policy changes

08/19 What in the heck is going on?? When we (the NM-IMT) left the Hinman Fire
almost a month ago it was history. We spent 14 days and an awful lot of $$
turning it back to the district in total containment and near-total control.

08/19 Hi Abs,

I hope that someone viewing They Said might be able to help me. I'm trying to locate and purchase the fabric used to make fire shelters [shiny silver], by the roll. A couple of seasons back I ran into some folks from the City of Portland OR. Fire Dept., who were wrapping historic buildings with the stuff prior to getting hit with flames, but I haven't been able to find these folks since. Any info that someone might be able to provide would be greatly appreciated.

Stay safe and thanks!

Rock @ Wood's Fire and Emergency Services 530-832-6358

08/19 The smoke from the Biscuit that you saw in California on Sat and Sun got
worse when the northwest flank of the fire near Agnes OR blew up sending
up a plume you wouldn't believe.

AB, ABC and other networks have the story.

08/19 Fires of the Mt Zirkel Complex (Burn Ridge and Hinman Fires) near Steamboat Springs are up and runnin. Burnin on both sides of the continental divide. Wind driven. Burned overnight into blowdown (from '97) and beetle killed timber, doubled in size to 21,000 acres, took out some structures --- campground, now threatening residences. Spotting up to a mile. Heads up. This is high intensity.


08/19 Ab,

Gotta thank Mollysboy for the update of where our people are – we’re not getting any info back here unfortunately.

Dana a paper was written by one of the Aussies that came over in 2000 which can be read at www.calm.wa.gov.au/projects/fires_in_usa.phpl.

From a Down Under perspective, we are heading in to a drought here after having a very dry winter (sound familiar to anyone?), 80% of NSW (New South Wales) in declared drought, & fire prohibitions in place in some areas since the beginning of August when it’s usually October.

Ab, one question – where can I find a map setting out the areas for the Regions so I’m less geographically embarrassed in some of the discussions?

Many thanks

Take a look on the top of the Links page under News then go to Sit Report by Geographical Area. The next line is Geographic Area Map. You can click on the areas for the GACC (Geographical Area Communication Center) Reports. The only one that doesn't work is California - R5. We have the Sit Report by GACC page as a workaround for that problem, we hope. Ab.

08/19 WAY TO GO FWFSA !!!!!!!!!!

If you haven't signed up, now is the time. These are some of the issues that the FWFSA has been fighting for years now for the Federal Firefighters.


The Abs agree. If you're a federal firefighter, sign on up. Link at the top left of the header.

08/18 Just got back from the North Umpqua river (OR). Went up to ride mountainbikes on a portion of the North Umpqua trail. The Diamond Lake highway and the North Umpqua trail were both closed due to new fire that started Friday and was apparently on the move as of last night. Apple fire is just above the Apple Creek campground and is taking out most of the trail and surronding area above Steamboat. New fire camp being set up on outskirts of Glide as we came back down the hill. Lots of resources headed that direction on 138 and I-5. Be careful out there my friends.


08/18 Ab, here's a good link that I've come across.

I'll be there after my trip on Friday to visit the South Canyon Fire Trail.

I'd hope that every Wildland Firefighter that can come... does. I am busy, as are all Wildland Firefighters, .... but this time is special to me and I've made time for it that I CAN take off......I'm sponsoring a fairly new Wildland Firefighter and member of the FWFSA to come as my guest and view some of the history of wildand firefighting and the IAFF. Please readers, if you get a chance, join us in this memorial service and BRING A FRIEND.... Its means alot to us in the Firefighter Community.

Here's the link: http://daily.iaff.org/FFMemorial/home.php


08/18 Thanks for the update on Colorado, CJD.

Kudos for Szczepanik's Team and the 500 firefighters who contained the Supply Creek Fire in Hoopa CA at 410 acres. Demobe bigtime tomorrow. Drive safely. No more accidents!

LAVE, was down your way today - It was smoky, very smoky from the Oregon fires all the way to just north of Santa Rosa. That's hundreds of miles south of the fires. Wow!

I heard a faller was injured on the East Antelope Fire near Ashland today. I hope he'll be alright. That fire is some 75% contained at under 2000 acres. In dangerous country with rolling material and high potential for spotting, I was told.

Also heard that the fire started day before yesterday east of Glide near Dry Creek ,OR -- That's north of the Tiller Complex -- is in some rugged terrain and exhibited extreme fire behavior. Another set of fires that might eventually merge given low resources.

Be safe all!
08/19 Chris,

This year we recruited a guy who is a stock broker. He came to one of our recruiting fairs that we put on in the winter. He was interested in the job and asked if we could help him out getting a seasonal job fighting fires in the west this fire season.

He didn't have any fire experience or training, the only thing going for the guy was his drive, passion and just wanting a chance.

We helped him out with his application and got it turned in on time before the fire season began. He is now on one of our new engines as a seasonal firefighter and having a great time. He is probably one of the best recruits that we hired. I know the Captain is really happy with him and thanked us for giving his name to him.

Here is a little advice that I can give you. Keep the drive going and ask as many questions about the job as you can. If you are worried about classes you should probably look in to the local colleges and see what type of classes they offer and sign up for them. I know the web site for the ASAP program is still up and has all the instructions that you need to fill out an application.

I would suggest waiting until next fire season to get hired. You need to get as much information as possible about the job, get into the best physical shape you have ever been in (hike, run, and lift weights) and fill out that application and turn in.

We got lucky finding a guy who was in top physical condition and able to pick up really quick all the S classes that we put on during the fire season. He didn't have any experience at all, he just listened and asked questions when he didn't know the answers.

Good luck with everything, and if you have any questions, Ab knows how to get a hold of me.

An-R5er (yes 07 it is me)

08/18 Ab and readers....

Here's a short update on Wildland Firefighter issues from the recent
International Association of Firefighters Convention.

Resolution #54 - Portal to Portal Pay. Adopted

Resolution #53 - Proper Classification of Wildland Firefighters as
FIREFIGHTERS under the federal system and the benefits of being a FEDERAL

Amended resolution #47 - Various Federal Firefighter pay, benefits, and
rights issues. 3% at 50 years for retirement. Adopted

Our Wildland issues are on the books for action... from both the members of
IAFF and the California Professional Firefighters. Federal Wildland
Firefighters NEED to sign up now and SUPPORT these issues. THE FWFSA IS OPEN

Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA) IAFF Local F-262 President
Mike Preasmeyer will soon be adding info to the FWFSA web page for anyone
interested. Please stop by and join the group or submit your e-mail to our
e-mail newsgroup.

As a special note, IAFF 16th District Vice President Nick Davilla spoke
before the convention of several thousand firefighters. He made some very
supportive comments and related the working conditions of Federal Wildland
Firefighters to those of "sweat shop" workers. Workers forced to work long
hours and live in conditions of modesty without any pay for 1/3 or more
hours of their work day. Nick also made comments about our recent losses.

Ab, I know I've said this a million times... thanks for all your help
getting the word out and your link to the FWFSA site.

More info to follow soon...

08/17 Concerning wildland fire vehicle accidents: the March 1999 technical report from MTDC "Wildland Fire Fatalities in the U.S.: 1990-1998" shows that 19% of fatalities in that period were from vehicle accidents, and 23% from aircraft crashes.

This year is way outside of the norm, and should be raising lots of "Red Flag Warnings" among firefighters and fire managers alike.

The report is available on the Web at the www.fs.fed.us/fire/fire_new/ref_material/content/fatalities.pdf

08/17 Hi Folks,
Dawn from Familysaid wrote in with a question about whether this year is a worse year for vehicle accidents than other years. Does anyone know?


08/17 Dana wanted to know about the Aussies coming to help:

I was in the OPS section of Biscuit - Zone 3 at Brookings, Orygun on
Monday, and the Aussie liaison came in with a list of 47 Aussies and
Kiwis (New Zealanders) that were in-country and heading out to the
fireline. Yeah, they're here and on the job by now!

08/16 I notice when vehicles of many wildland fire fighting agencies are involved in wrecks this site has many articles bout it. It does not seem to make a difference if anyone was hurt or killed, just be involved in a wreck. Last week a Calif. Dept. of Forestry engine rolled down off of the 15 freeway and hurt three fire fighters fairly bad. The body of the rig separated from the cab as the vehicle rolled several times. Pictures in many Calif. papers and TV but not one line here. Why.


Hi KT, look at the posts starting on 08/11. We posted about the accident two hours after it occurred. Someone wrote in with info immediately, most got posted soon after and Ab stayed up until almost midnight confirming details and then awaiting the AP news release (although AP can get it wrong). We know people are anxious for information but try to be responsible and allow the appropriate notifications of family, strike team members, etc. Sometimes we don't put up all that we know. We appreciate the accurate e-mails we get from our fire community. We also don't want to worry family members who read here regularly.

The next day several people sent in links to photos of the crash site and rescue, and official CDF information including names and engine number.

Guess you don't read theysaid on a daily basis... You're welcome to... Even had an update on how the three who were injured are recovering. Sounds like they're doing fairly well -- at least better and better -- for which we are very thankful. One has gone home. Anyone have more up to date info than that?


08/16 Ab,

Chris should also look into acquiring "AD" status with his local (or
nearest) Ranger District. At this time of year many eastern RD's are
desperate for AD's to help with the local fire load as many experienced FF's
are on western detail. I know of several local districts that will pack test
prospective FF's just about any time they can, as they need the help. I have
seen several 1 & 2 person pack tests along with the same number in S-130/190
classes. Working as an AD is a great way to gain experience on fires and the
USFS structure in general. While Chris will probably work local fires or
stand-by days, he may have the chance to catch a western detail. Hope that
helps Chris!

08/16 Mellie - some parts of Colorado got rain, but it was really spotty. At
my house (at 8000 ft elevation) I have to go back almost two months to
add up enough rain to get one inch. Meanwhile we have had a lot of
days like today that are 90+, <10% RH and winds are due this afternoon
(yes - they gave us a Red Flag this morning). In our response area we
have been at Extreme fire danger for the better part of the past two
months. Remarkably there have been less fire calls than usual. I think
everyone is finally getting nervous enough to know not to start fires of
any kind (hauling some of the perpetrators around in orange jumpsuits in
front of the media as they go off to court probably helps).

Just last night a fire in Steamboat Springs (about 100 miles west of
here) blew up from 200 to 1,700 acres - I have not checked where it is
today. The local water folks are telling us this year is the worst
drought ever recorded (120 years of records). So no, the fire season is
not over in Colorado. We expect things will be interesting around here
for weeks to come. The tough part is that all the small ponds and lakes
that we normally draft out of are going dry. If we do get a big one we
will be driving a long way to refill the trucks.

If you do come to Colorado to help us on a fire, the conditions are
still quite extreme in many parts of the state so heads up.

Take care & Adios, CJD
08/16 Hey Ab's!
Just got done checking out TheySaid and the photo's were awesome that J Foster from Highlands 26 sent in! Thanks J!

Also, just to add to those pic's... The "WOW" pic is a canadian Electra ship that was used on that state fire -- Probably T-89 or T-86. Also, the SEAT was T-431 with John Greene as pilot (who is a VERY good friend).

Be safe everyone!
A/C Dispatcher
08/16 Ab,

I have not heard anything about the "imported overhead" from Oz (Australia). Does anyone have any info on how that program is going? Are they actually on the job yet? How many have been willing to make the trip from halfway around the world to help us out so far? I would be very interested in hearing their thoughts on how wildfire suppression in the US is similar/different from Oz now that they have some first hand experience in both locales.


National news reported a few days ago that the Feds expect to lose about 15% of their firefighters in the next few weeks due to return to school. As a rule states lose even more since they tend to depend more heavily on students. Some states may not require the pack test of firefighters not expected to go to federal fires or work out of state. This may provide an opportunity for you to get some experience yet this year. Try contacting the states that are projected to have the longest amount of fire season remaining and asking about job opportunities. I would start with these states, Departments of Forestry or Natural Resources. They may be able to "fast track" a potential newbie. I would also contact these states Dept. of Employment. Your states Dept. of Employment may be able to expedite this contact as some are very well interconnected with other states. If you are lucky you may be able to get 3-4 months of job experience yet this year. You may just end up filling in for more experienced state firefighters while they are out of state or you may get real lucky and get to some :project fires" yourself. If they want to send you out of state they will get you the needed (minimum) training and pack test. If this happens I cannot stress enough the importance of getting paired up with the most experienced firefighter you can. You will learn things you would not otherwise and be much safer than if you are surrounded by other newbies.

Good Luck,

08/16 On reply of the HOOPA fire(s). I worked at Somesbar for two season's it was almost a daily routine to at least start to Hoopa or make it there they have a huge arson problem, but I was told by a BIA FF hey we get our hazard everyday so maybe it's not a problem? Also the closer harvest time for the crops the more fire's so that CAMP cannot fly into the valley.

On the Antelope fire it seems ODF actually did a good job on this one not much smoke this morning! KUDOS to ODF for this one.


08/16 Ab, a crew photo

Targhee Regulars IA crew from Targhee National Forest, Idaho on the Eastfork Fire. Fire was located in NE Utah, Uinta Mountains, July 2002.


I put it on the Handcrews 5 Photo page. Ab.

08/16 The Supply Fire (named after Supply Creek) on the Hoopa Reservation is still burning (400 acres) and kicking out tons of smoke <choke>. I heard it burned through the night. Yesterday was hot (102degrees) and today is supposed to be also. The fire is burning in the Supply Creek drainage - abundant heavy fuels, including ladder fuels and snags, steep rocky slopes and limited accessibility. Poison oak country. It's quite close to town (400+ residences or so) and the Tribal Offices and schools. School starts a week from Monday. Hope it can be contained before then.

This fire was human caused. If it was the arsonist who was starting fires earlier in the summer, I hope the tribe doesn't get hold of him or her. They're pissed.

On another note: I was browsing Ab's Fire News page last night to see if the Supply Fire was mentioned anywhere and was surprised at all the interface fires burning in Colorado, the new Antelope fire near Ashland OR that Firehawg can see, a new fire near Chelan WA, one near Idaho City. I thought CO had gotten rain and the season was winding down. Guess it was spotty or didn't really wet down the heavy fuels.

08/16 Hi -

I'm sure you are probably growing tired of getting emails from people like me, but I still feel compelled to write for your advice.

Yes, you guessed it, I'm a "wannabe," a "newbie," a "rookie," and whatever else you can think of to call someone with no experience who wants to be a wildland firefighter. I'm a college graduate who has been out in the business world for 8 years, but have absolutely had enough of the BS. I am an avid outdoorsman, enjoy the satisfaction of strenuous outdoor work, am fascinated with wildfires, and want to have a go at fighting those suckers and learning a completely new vocation. Yeah, a vocation. Let's just say it's a "calling."

A couple of things seem to be standing in my way, though: I live on the East Coast (soon to be remedied as I am relocating to Oregon after falling in love with the place during a visit to Bend a couple of months ago), I have ZERO experience, it's late in the summer, and apparently it is too late for this year to attend training and take the pack test. I have been visiting your website for a few months now and have found the postings helpful and enlightening. However, after applying for fire jobs through just about every government agency website, I have seen or could find, I have gotten no response. Nada. Nothing. Zero. These websites things seem to be black holes. I have made loads of phone calls to ask for advice and get pointed in the right direction, but really can get no concrete answers. A day late and a dollar short, that sort of thing.

Forgive me for being so longwinded, but I'm a little frustrated. My questions to you are: is it too late for this season (from what I'm reading, it sounds like the season out west is going to go long this year)? Is it too late to get the proper training to catch on with a crew should something open up? Is this a case where I actually need to be physically on location near particular forests to beat down their doors and bug them to death as you suggest on your website? What about contract crews (like Patrick Environmental and GFP Enterprises in Oregon)? Is there any hope?

Like I said, you're probably sick of getting emails like this, so again, I apologize. I just want to get involved. I truly believe it is a calling. I'm healthy, strong, in excellent physical condition, and have a good head on my shoulders. I'm available. I'm ready to jump in with both feet. I'm just having a hard time getting the proverbial "foot in the door." Now, I completely realize that these jobs are competitive and there is a long line of people waiting to get in. I just want to make sure I'm actually in the line.

I would be grateful for any new insight or advice you could provide. Candor is better than canned, if you know what I mean.
Thanks much for your time - I really appreciate it! Best regards,

08/16 The Jobs Page, and the wildland firefighter series 462 and 455 are updated.

J Foster Highlands 26 sent in two AT photos taken on the Fish Lake Fire. One "Tanker Dive" is surreal. I put them on the AirTankers 6 photo page.

08/15 New fire in Oregon 2000+ acres burning just NE of Ashland people can see it
from I-5. Timber and grasslands are burning good with 1/4 mile spotting. I
love watching it burn from the Ashland ranger station! maybe I will send in
some pics.

Keep'em small and keep you heads up!

Sure, send those in right away and I'll post them. Ab.
08/15 I am trying to find a satellite photo of the smoke plumes from the Biscuit
(Florence) Fire to show my nephew. Anyone have any ideas for me?


Try this from NOAA
Oregon (smoke looks like a left hand print at botton left)
Parts of OR and CA with the smoke from the Biscuit plumes reaching down into Del Norte Co CA
Compare those smoke plumes with this NIFC map of the large fires:
Any guesses on the other "smokes"? Ab.

08/15 Hey Ab and everyone,
Just got back from the Tiller Complex last night and am reading through 16
days worth of posts.

How is everyone that was involved in the CDF engine rollover? We didn't
hear about that at briefing.

SoCalCapt, How did the convention go? Hope the resolutions passed. Please
keep us posted.

I'll send some good pics when I get them developed and scanned.

Meanwhile, I came home to 7 fires burning in my district. Really, really dry
here in the east.

08/15 I have just 1 quick question - do you know where I might look to find information regarding contracting fire equipment to the USFS and Colorado Dept. Of Forestry

08/15 Here is a shot for you for the aircraft photo page.

For those of you who like to look at ATs, here's a Neptune photo on the AirTankers 6 photo page. Ab.
08/15 This was posted a few days ago on the firehouse lodd website. A Texas volunteer was killed when riding in the front cage on a grass fire.

I hate to criticize anyone's operation, but cages are a very bad idea...

08/15 OFG --

In reference to your post:

"As to the appropriateness of allowing such a publication or even a
reference at a website.......let's talk about "American" culture. I believe
we are defined by our appreciation of the right to express opinion, however
controversial, unpopular, or even erroneous. Do we really want to buy
cultural sensitivity at the price of censorship?"

I apologize for any erroneous interpretation on my part. I certainly am
for expressing opinions!! Did not in any way mean to say it was
inappropriate to have the link to National Geographic on the They Said
web-site -- I was mainly trying to identify WHAT it was that I had an
opinion about -- I wouldn't even consider censorship -- It would be
as I would have to wear a muzzle.

Cache Queen
08/15 Look at this article coming out of Oregon. May be the different players are at least in the same room. Getting closer to "WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER" as far as thinning the forests go... ? At least a start.


08/15 We have a new sponsor for theysaid.

Go to the top of the page, click on the banner and check out Chuck's Fleece jackets. We appreciate their support.

When you move around in wildlandfire.com, please check out our other sponsors as well. The Supply Cache sponsors our Links page and WeightVest, our Jobs page. If you need products that these companies sell, please visit their sites first. Some good links on the Classifieds page as well.

All these folks help this site make ends meet. Of course we think that advertising here will help their business as well. Ab.
08/15 Deer Point Fire BlowUp 7/19/02

This first photo was taken July 19, approx. 9 pm. from Cottage Beach Cabin Vacation Rental.
The second photo was taken about 11 pm, from Fields Point Landing.
Both pictures were taken w/ Kodak DC4800 Digital camera. 1.8 aperture setting, at 1.5 second exposure.
Photos by: David

The world is coming to an end. Please log off.
'Nuff Said.

Spectacular night fire behavior. I put 'em on the Fire 12 photo page with the others. Nature's fireworks. Ab.

08/14 re: the tanker pilots' board and AAP website.

Pay no attention to the password request and other error messages.
Larry's moving to a new server and he does not have the luxury of time
and space for swapping servers that some of us have had with similar
maneuvers. Give it a day or two or three and it'll all be fine again. Be
patient. Patience is a virtue.


It's back up. Ab.
08/14 Oh boy, we're getting the California part of the Biscuit Fire contained and now we have a fire in Hoopa. Only 160 acres so far, but it was 110 degrees today and everything is very dry... We're about 9 days from the anniversary of the beginning of the Big Bar Complex and that went for more than 2 months.

Hope the Hoopa Reservation Fire Dept, FS, CDF and Willow Creek and other local vollies can contain it.
Be safe all.


08/14 Anybody know if the AAP board went private? They were moving their website to a new server and now you need a name and password.


Got me. I linked via our links page and got the same query for ID. Guess they no longer want media questions and "lurkers". Ab.
08/14 Some Ab updates--
More details from the info people regarding the crew involved in the rollover on the Biscuit Fire this morning:

A Ferguson contract crew cab with 5 people rolled over on Hwy 199 at about 0830 or 0900 today near O'Brien OR. The other members of the 20 person crew traveling in other vehicles were diverted to firecamp at Lake Selmak OR. The crew had left Albany at about 0430 and were en route to Brookings. All 5 people in the cab were taken to the hospital in Grants Pass, treated and released. They were later seen at firecamp and seemed to be doing alright although one was sporting a plaster cast on their arm.

Regarding those CDFers hurt in SoCal:

Ab got an e-mail from info sent out yesterday stating that the two firefighters who were serious were upgraded to fair and the one who was critical had also improved and was heard to say "I feel like I've been hit by a fire truck." Good sense of humor there. It was thought his condition would also be upgraded. We wish them the best recovery.

08/14 NMAirBear here.

Thought you might be interested in this story from 9NEWS.com Denver.
Firefighter plane goes off runway

Thank Goodness this one did not end up worse......

08/14 IBA -

I cannot get angry over the NG article on Russian smokejumpers. I only
feel sad - for our Russian friends and for the continued inability of U.S.
Media to "get it." I guess sensationalism sells. Please feel free to
forward my post, and please say hello to all of our Russian friends at
Avialesookhrana (especially Eduard, Yevgheny, and Andrey) and express our
sincerest apologies. I am also very concerned about the large fires in and
around the Moscow Region and the serious flooding the south of Russia -
with many fatalities.

Puffin II
08/14 IBA -- Forward away!! I'd be very pleased if you would do so, and my husband would also greatly appreciate it. He has been trying to contact some of his colleagues in Russia to offer his support, and this will only enhance his efforts! Thank you so much. I also wrote essentially the same post as I sent to this site to the National Geographic online. I got the normal automatic reply of "thanks for your comments." Doubt they actually read it -- even then, don't know if they will "get" it as far as playing with people's lives.

Cache Queen
08/14 Ab and All,

I'm attaching photos from an exchange earlier this year. We sent Scott Bushman (Superintendent, Logan IHC) to Krasnoyarsk (east of Novosibirsk in central Siberia). Russia is very interested in our Hot Shot program, and has been trying to implement a similar firefighting resource. Scott's mission was to conduct formal training courses on hot shot crew firefighting concepts and techniques. This is a follow-up of similar efforts from 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2001.

Photos include the crew, classroom training, line construction, chainsaw use, and taking the pack test.

I'll send you more from the Heli-Rappel efforts, more hot shot exchanges, etc. Thank you for the site...and next time I put together a detail announcement for firefighters going to Russia I'll remember to include theysaid.


Sure, Ab sez "send 'em in". Let's give these Russian Firefighters a face. I put the first five on the Handcrews 5 Photo page.

08/14 Another Rollover
This one on the Biscuit Fire.


08/14 HR,

Do you really want to go there? AB do you really want to let flames like this occur. My professionalism will not allow me to comment on USFS conduct on fires unless it is positive or constructive. I would advise the rest to do the same unless you want a bunch of dirty laundry aired. This page should be utilized in the spirit of interagency cooperation not divisiveness. Your move........

CDF Firefighter

Interagency cooperation, all for it unless there is an incident large or small that is very specific that relates to safety. Ab.

08/14 Regarding the post from Puffin II and the Cache Queen (responding the N.G. article on Russian Smokejumpers):

Interesting responses,
I for one did not see a slight of our Russian firefighting comrades in Mr. Thiessen's article. Quite the contrary, I saw a photographic tribute to the human spirit.

Mr. Thiessen allowed me to look into the face of a Russian smokejumper and see an inner strength that most flabby Americans could never comprehend. I have talked to a few who have been involved in these Russian/American firefighting exchanges. They too were treated with the utmost dignity and respect.

They were also treated to copious quantities of Vodka and puked right along with the Russians. This love of alcohol should not be dressed up in a cloud of self righteous indignation for the sake of international relations, for alcoholism saps the vitality of this nation and Russia.

The Russians are obviously some of the best wildland firefighters in the world.
They are working with fire budgets which are often non-existent and under conditions which are harsh at best. Does this make them any less dedicated than the rest of us- I say no. Quite the contrary, it gives me hope that their future will be bright.

Our colleagues at Avialesookhrana are tough and will get over this self-perceived slight to their national pride. In every jump base and engine bay in America one could find many of the same problems which plague firefighters everywhere in the world. To rise above these problems each of us are called to find the strength within. The Russians need no lessons on finding the strength of the human spirit, they are a shining example of it.

Thanks Mark Thiessen for sharing that spirit with us.
Spoiled American

08/14 I too have had the privilege of hosting our Russian firefighting counterparts during their visits. They are indeed an resourceful and amazing group. I have not had the chance to visit or work with them in their homeland.

I did however read, (and just re-read) the National Geographic article. Co-workers in fire on my unit brought it to my attention. All enjoyed it, and were impressed by the challenges Russian firefighters face, and their resourceful talents. We could all appreciate that it takes both teamwork and rugged individuality to succeed in what they do. What I did not hear was any reference to these men being "cowboys" or wild or drunken or anything derogatory. I did not see that emphasized in my reading.

Let's talk about culture. I have also had several opportunities to host the "International Foresters" group when (in past years) they made a nationwide tour. One thing we emphasized with our folks was the need to have some awareness/sensitivity to other cultures and values. In turn, we explained to visitors that we too have an "American" culture that they need to be sensitive to.

Yes, if one were to view the world from the cultural norms of Russia, it could be "insensitive" or even "insulting" to their values to tell the story as written. But I don't think such was the intent of the author(s). It seemed to me that they were writing an informative, and entertaining article addressed to the audience of National Geographic. I seriously doubt that the majority of readers would come away with anything but an admiration for the Russian firefighters.

As to the appropriateness of allowing such a publication or even a reference at a website.......let's talk about "American" culture. I believe we are defined by our appreciation of the right to express opinion, however controversial, unpopular, or even erroneous. Do we really want to buy cultural sensitivity at the price of censorship?

Bottom line, I like the Russians, and I think the majority of Americans who read the article will like them too. If Russian culture takes offense at American culture.....then there's more for us to work on to understand each other. I look forward to their next visit. We can again share some vodka and eat "big meat" (They were fond of large steaks).


08/14 Ab,

Regarding the post from Puffin II and the Cache Queen (responding the N.G. article on Russian Smokejumpers) - Bless Your Hearts! I have been involved with the USA/Russia Firefighter Exchange Program over the past several years, and know how devastating that article was to our colleagues at Avialesookhrana. With permission of Puffin II and Cache Queen, I would like to forward their comments to Russia, and let them know that not all Americans share the attitude displayed in the National Geographic article.

signed - IBA

08/14 These photos are of the Deer Point Fire on the north shore of Lake Chelan WA.

Deer Point July 16th 2002: Was taken on Tuesday afternoon (day two) up lake from Fields Point.

Deer Point Near Manson: Was taken just up lake from the State Park, looking across at the town of Manson Friday night the 19th.

Deer Point (Across Lake 1 and 2): Both of these photos were taken down lake from Fields Point Friday night the 19th.

I was using a Cannon G1 Digital camera to take these photos.


Some pretty spectacular night fire behavior. Nice ones. I put them on the Fire 12 photo page. Also updated the Current Fires, 2002 page. Most recent fires and fires still burning are at the bottom of the list by state. Ab.

08/14 If you saw what you saw, then that's what you saw. If the CDF crews were laying around and not giving it a good day's work, shame on them. As for it being a work ethic issue, that starts and ends squarely with the engine or crew captain. We are all only as good as our crews are and that starts with us as the supervisor.

Wasn't there, but offer apologies for poor performance of those you observed. I'm sure there were other CDFer's who busted their butts on other divisions.

Another CDF BC
08/14 Ab,

Regarding the 8/12 post by National Geographic photographer Mark Thiessen,
and the 8/13 response from Cache Queen, I've got to side with the Queen.
I've been to Russia twice, and have been invited back. I've been treated
with the utmost dignity and respect, and have developed some close personal
relationships in Russia. This was initially difficult for me, because I
grew up during the Cold War, and spent 8 of those Cold War years on
submarines. The article reminded me of U.S. Cold War propaganda. There
were some terrible slants in the article, and possibly some outright
fabrications. For example, the article portrayed Russian smokejumpers as a
bunch of drunk maniacs with no regard for life or property. In fact, one
of the reasons that most Russian officials have drivers is because the
drivers are strictly forbidden from drinking. Russians deal very harshly
with drunk drivers. You want somber - spend some time at the various war
memorials such as Mamayev Hill in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) - which I
did with Russian smokejumpers and other officials. The writer and
photographer of this National Geographic article did a grave injustice to
all Russians and objective Americans. No wonder we are perceived as the
"ugly American." Spasiba.

Puffin II

Mir. Ab.
08/14 re: Hatch Act

To clarify, when the Chief (or whoever goes in to testify) goes in front of the Budget Committees, he or she is obligated to support the President’s budget. However, when questioned, the Chief will tell it like it is -- but in very carefully constructed form.

This is also true of the nice folks in the WO (whether it's FS or BLM or any other USDA or DOI outfit).

*friend of The Chief*
08/14 It is not my intent to rehash the old ( and silly ) CDF vs. USFS BS but we spent 2 weeks on the Pines and I was not real impressed with the work the CDF crews put in. One wonders if their leadership fails them or if it is an issue or wide spread work ethic problems but I saw Forest Service, Mt. Laguna ( volunteers ), San Diego County and many others working hard ( Forest Service punched in a few BIG hose lays and had a couple impressive burn shows ) while the CDF never really did much to impress. Sorry to ruffle feathers but that is what I saw.
08/13 Ab:

I WILL NOT regret sending this post, as it truly comes from the hard core beliefs and heart of a fire person.

I would first like to clarify that I am not attacking an individual, rather sighing dismally at an organization of journalists. I do not profess to be an expert in this field, and would never attempt to evaluate products as to their journalistic qualities -- what I DO profess to be, however, is a person with manners. I was taught as a young child to display respect, and not to belittle or mock others in a way that results in their degradation and shame.

With that disclaimer, I will continue to say that I was horrified and rebuked by the portions of the article that were linked from this site to the National Geographic Magazine regarding Russian Smokejumpers. Why the person put his name and link on that post for all to read is beyond my imagination -- perhaps a ploy at more "celebrity" for himself......although, not the kind that I would wish for.

The international exchange program between Russian and American firefighters has been ongoing for quite some time, with a great deal of effort made by all who have participated and supported the program. Mutual respect and celebration of cultural differences has always been a mainstay of the exchange. My husband was one of those PRIVILEGED to represent the US on an exchange for over six weeks in Krasnoyarsk. He was welcomed by the hard working, poorly funded Russian fire program, and made to feel an honored guest by his host, "Sasha" (Alexander Selin) -- as he was called by his friends -- a.k.a. "Big Boss" -- as he was called by the journalists.

What I received first hand from Mr. Selin, were many e-mail's detailing where my husband was, and how appreciative the program was of his assistance; always delivered with the utmost courtesy. The Russian people do not have much in the way of material items (as we Americans would gauge it) -- but what they do have, they share to a fault. What they certainly have is PRIDE.

This last thing -- "PRIDE" -- has now also been taken away, on an international stage by the National Geographic personnel, who appeared to be more interested in how they could mock another culture with lesser means, while focusing attention on themselves. As I said, I am NOT an expert in journalism, but, I naively thought that writing was to draw attention to the subject -- not the writer/photographer. The Russian fire program spent a great deal of time, scarce and expensive resources on entertaining their "guests." They shared their food and traditions, and received a slap in the face for payment.

As a result of this article, and the huge price tag hung on pride, integrity and respect by the Soviet society, some of these HARD WORKING fire personnel are now at risk of losing their jobs ---- they have already lost face.

If this were a perfect world, and everything was fair and equal, "we" should now be able to select a fire person to go to Russia to mock the journalistic culture there. Trouble is, I don’t think we’d have any volunteers. You see, the fire community has far too much class to lower themselves to that level.

Cache Queen

08/13 Ab,
Our state took the Hatch act a bit further. When confronted with a group of their most experienced "emergency firefighters" testifying in front of legislative oversight committees about waste, fraud, and abuse in our states Dept. of Nat. Resources fire suppression program for the second year in a row (and the resulting embarrassing committee questions resulting from that testimony) they simply offered us all seasonal positions...making us"real state employees". We were then told that any further legislative testimony would be considered a violation of the Hatch act and those doing so would not only lose their new jobs but face possible prosecution as well.

This was just an extreme example of how the Hatch act can be abused. It was never intended to prohibit free speech "off duty". It was intended to prohibit lobbying for personal private causes while "on the clock". This was in response to massive fraud by politicians who were putting people on the public payroll in jobs they never went to so they could campaign for the incumbent and be paid by the Govt. rather than the incumbents party having to pay their salary.

Now for the "rest of the story":
We decided that if one of us was willing to forgo the "real job" that one could continue to testify for all without fear and the rest could enjoy some job security.

I won the honor and continue to testify on nearly yearly basis before those oversight committees.


PS....Funny thing though. After a few years I started getting phone calls from long time DNR full time employees, many who did not fight fire, asking me if I was interested in "reporting" this fraud or that abuse in the DNR "for them" as they did not even dare approach their union reps. And yes, the DNR has a program to encourage employees to report fraud, waste, and abuse...but somehow most who use it to do so end up getting punished for doing so. Hmmmm.....

08/13 Sleepy in R-4,
Fret not! Oh bored and befuddled comrade in arms.

It's not as though we have refrained from inviting you,

For we in the Great Pacific Northwest welcome all when we are alight.

Neigh- rather the issue may harken back to your own scoundrel
of an FMO or worse- the wretched Fire Staff,

Who art hoarding resources for their own selfish designs!

Hark -I hear a great gnashing of teeth in the Regional Office in Ogden.....

"Oh go away and leave us to our own devices!", the heathen fire staffers

As we here, each in our own fair land of big trees and spotted owls

Bemoan our plight,

With smoke in our eyes

And poison oak sap on our Whites

Condemned to a year's worth of rash

Only through the act of tying our boots!

(Yuk - I hate the Westside!)

So check your oil with great gusto my intermountain iconoclast

And fear not-

For a callous butt and patience

Will sustain you during the worst of times,

When paychecks are slim and you have been forsaken by those who love you.

The Bard of Bald Butte

08/13 The Jobs Page, and the wildland firefighter series 462 and 455 are updated. The Hiawatha & Ottawa NFs are looking for a permanent dispatcher. For those of you looking to get a foot in the door in firefighting, get those entry level applications in to the FS, BLM and NPS. Some seasonal firefighters will be going back to school soon and the fire season goes on for some more months. Ab.
08/13 Ecc1 and XFSC (AD-5),

Oops, I was not clear. In the incidents I was referring to their actual AD level was changed. For example what was AD4 on the unaltered red dogs was changed to AD3. In my experience the AD "level" and rate of pay is established when you get to the incident if not before so there should be no excuse for such a screw up. ADs seem to have no recourse for Federal bookkeepers changing their contract after the fact (and after they have been signed off on by both parities) except sue in federal court. Economically this is not an option since even if you acted as your own lawyer it costs several hundred dollars to file and show up in court. If you hire a lawyer to represent you in fed. court you have a less than 2% chance the court will order their fees be paid by the Feds if you win. And since you are suing the Feds in fed. court the odds of winning are around 25% even if it was a clear violation of contract law. Essentially ADs have no recourse.


08/13 Ab, ECC1, XFSC (AD5), Alaskan AFMO, Mellie,

First, I want to say thanks for this site and all the information being shared on the AD pay rate issue. I often work as an AD 5 but stay within region. Was not aware of the variations you describe. The system changes. Often we don't know of problems that could have been prevented until they happen and then there's disagreement. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, I say. Normally I take my lumps and learn from them. This time I feel like I know some things to clarify ahead of time. Thanks.

Mellie, you are right about the fact that fed firefighters often may not speak freely even when asked direct questions by the media. State employees have a different setup. The do's and don'ts of the Hatch Act website are more what they deal with. State firefighters can even have unions to represent them. Feds cannot. The Forest Service, the only fed organization I know well, was and is very conservative when it comes to possible litigation. I'm pretty sure it was Jack Ward Thomas (former Chief of the FS) who said your first part:

Fed agencies which are part of the Executive Branch, can only articulate to Congress (Legislative Branch) what is needed to carry out the programs of the Executive Branch.
As I recall, he said it in order to point out that when asked by Congress about our programs' costs and needs, we can and must speak up. Some years the Congress doesn't ask much... and the budget gets cut because Congress doesn't know what it takes to mitigate the fires of summer. It is also our job to ask for enough money to run the programs of the executive branch. Some years that hasn't happened either.

Aside from that, it's the law that the Public that needs to speak to Congress to get Congress asking the Agency about changing the rules. I wish the public would speak up. We need the public to help us as Ghost Load says, "We need to grab the nations and the media's attention and simply state 'we are all in this together.'"

I don't think most groundpounding firefighters even know they work for the Executive Branch of the government. I didn't until I had been in fire for some time. We're focused on fire and don't think about the larger picture. When the Executive changes, the way congress views the fire Agencies may change as well. Politics...

Mellie, as you described, we were often told to watch out for what we said. When working as an AD now I also have to be very careful. I'm glad this is an anonymous site.

Abs, thanks for this forum and your work. Freedom of speech is a right. How many take it for granted?


Thanks for writing in Joan. We Abs don't take free speech for granted. It's one reason why we are here.
I hope the nation, the Public whom we serve, can muster the wear-with-all to ask us to speak and listen to us in a new way. We are all in this together.

08/13 Feel frustrated sleeping in R-4? Imagine how I feel sitting at home here
with a R-6 contract for the last 2 weeks. It is very frustrating that they
have engines from other regions working in R-6 before they utilize all R-6
engines. Now the Canadians are coming.... I think type 2 hand crews?? at
least I have not heard of them bringing engines down yet. If anyone knows
any engines working in R-6 that are not R-6 or National contract engines
please post or email me the names of these companies/agencies and the fires
they are working. Anyway dont feel too bad as we have logged in less days
this season the last YTD. WOW!

Good luck!
08/13 Dear Ab:

Wanted to point out that the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) recently put up a web site for the IAWF Safety Summit to be held in Portugal. If you ever wanted a good work-related excuse to visit Portugal, registration by September 30 is required. The safety summit will be part of the International Conference on Forest Fire Research and include a workshop on firefighter safety a workshop on fire behavior and a firefighter safety roundtable. The web site is at www.safetysummit.org.

The IAWF will also co-host a big wildland-urban interface conference in Kansas City this December. This will be a major conference co-hosted with the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the USDA-FS Rocky Mountain Research Station. Information on that one is at www.iawfonline.org.


IAWF is one of our newest organizations with a link on the classifieds page. Go to their new site. Take a look around. Some good things happening on the international wildland fire scene. We will keep readers updated on this conference. Ab.
08/13 Good job CDF in containing the Pines Fire.
Nothing like having your very own interface campaign fire in SoCal, right at people's doorsteps. All the more reason to treat those acres ahead of time and firesafe your houses!

Ab, how do you do a link to a story? www.signonsandiego.com/news/northcounty/20020813-9999_1m13blaze.phpl


I did it. Ab.

08/13 Ab:
Ecc1 wrote that AD rates are those of the receiving region. That's only
partially right. The rate at which one is hired is the rate that one is
paid, unless you change positions to one with a different rate or you work
in a region with a higher rate than you were hired at.. Alaska sends crews
outside every year and we have never had their rates downgraded to those of
the rest of the nation (even though ours are the highest in the country).
Check page 6 on the BLM specific Incident Business Management Guidelines

If an AD had their timesheet altered they should have presented the
original to the timekeeper where they were hired an gotten it resolved or
worked up the chain.

Alaskan AFMO
08/13 This is a snippet of an e-mail forwarded from my g/f, which she got from a friend who has a home in the Black Butte area.
Visiting Black Butte was surreal. Part of the Ranch caught fire during the Cache Mt. burn two weeks ago. xxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxx's front lawn partially burned but their house was protected.

The firefighters and police at BBR did an incredible job! Several houses had brush that burned down both sides but the houses were saved. The two homes that did burn were piles of ash and melted cars, stoves and other metal objects.

So my friends who had anything to do with the Cache Mt. project, a hearty thanks to you all from folks who are really grateful.

Don't bend them, don't break them,

08/13 Whoa......I can even learn fire stuff at geek tech
sites....LOL.....interesting reading.



Fires have gone high tech in the last few years. Ab.
08/13 I am looking for any openings anywhere on any Hotshot crew...got Pulaski, will travel!

I am currently in Alaska and I am serving as a Squad Leader with Alaska State Forestry as an EFF 3. The Alaska wages are great, but I need the structure, professionalism, dedication, commitment, and all those other words that the shot crews epitomize. I have Type 1 crew experience and have fought fire for ten seasons. I have fought fire in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Alaska and also in Canada.

I know that since I missed the boat earlier this season I have a chance to jump on and fill in for the guys and gals going back to college, or that are out because of injuries. It's just not the same if you're not on a type 1 team (and you Hotshots know what I mean.) If anyone has any info that could be helpful it would be extremely appreciated. Heads up!

Edward Parks
08/13 National Level 5? What level 5! Sitting here in R-4 twiddling thumbs for nearly a month, wondering why R-6 hasn't invited us. Even for

So here is my little ditty:

All rested and tanned
On yonder ridgetop I sit
in America's Basin and Range

I give a big yawn
with anticipation scan the horizon
for a smoke...any sign of danger

Nary a hint of cumulous
No careless campers
No errant rodents or crickets

But Wait...

To the west I spy
A high brownish haze
From fire in our neighbor's thickets.

Do orders await
Our crews long rested?
Surely, R-6 folks need a homeward ticket

But our phone never rings
And East Coasters arrive
...even Aussies join in the fray

We sit on our butts
and sharpen our shovels
Check the oil for the third time today

Word is around
That all that awaits
Is another month of mind numbing boredom

Resource sharing, it seems
Doesn't always work
Among next door neighbors.

So there, I got it off my chest. I'll try to feel better when I wake up from my mid-day nap.
Sleepy in R-4

AAAAWWWWWWwwwwww, Sleepy, wish we could serve up a GOBBLER for you! Ab.
08/12 Just read a note w/regards to changing rates for ADs. This shouldn't be a problem for ADs 1-4 this year, as they are all under a CONUS rate. It does change though for the folks that go out as AD 5s.

AD rates should never have been changed to a lower rate. They were always supposed to be paid at the higher rate. Meaning: If the rate they were hired at in say NH was $11.00 and the rate in CA was $12.00, they should have been paid the higher of the two rates. If they came from CA and went to NH then they should have also been paid $12.00. The higher of the two rates. I ran into one Type 1 team last year that insisted that the folks they traveled with should be paid the lower rate (Or the rate they came with) until I pointed it out to them in the Incident Business Mgmt Handbook.

AD 5s - Should have a letter with them at all times signed by the FS and Forest FMO stating what their rate of pay is going to be for that position. If they go to an area where the pay is less - then they will get the amount indicated in the letter. If they go to area where it is more - then they will get the higher rate. Example: Last year we had a faller boss come in from one of the other Regions. In that Region he was an AD-5 being paid $25.00 p/h. In R-5 faller bosses were AD 4s. Big difference in pay. He didn't know this until he went to check out. He was not a "happy" faller boss. I talked to him and had him contact his dispatcher. The dispatcher sent out a letter stating that he was to make $25.00 p/h. His rate was changed & he will be happy to come back to R-5. (I think this year R-5 faller bosses have been changed to AD5s)

If you know any AD5s out there - tell them to get a letter.


08/12 This just came out from CDF:

On Sunday August 11, 2002, at about 1800 hours, Engine 4453 was involved in a serious vehicle accident on Interstate 15 near the Cajon Pass. Engine 4453 was part of a Tuolumne/Calavaras Unit Strike Team 9440C that was assigned to Southern California to assist in responding and fighting the numerous wildland fires in the area. The accident occurred while the crew was responding to a fire in Lytle Creek in San Bernardino County. The fire engine, a CDF Model #14, left the roadway, rolling several times before coming to rest at the bottom of a 60-foot embankment. Initial investigation into the accident indicates that the incident occurred after the operator experienced a possible mechanical problem. Until the specific mechanical problem can be identified, the Department has issued an order to garage the remaining 10 CDF Model #14’s that were part of Engine 4453’s production schedule.

And this briefing about the accident, those injured and their condition.
Be Safe.

08/12 Hey Ab,

Haven't been around a compuker lately. Has anyone been talking about
work/rest issues? Well I came upon an incident.

The fire was an eastern Montana dream - late afternoon, 100 acres, rolling
hills and draws with ponderosa pine and grass. Resources assigned were a
number of engines, a couple of dozers, and a load of jumpers. By night fall
everyone was in place and working like a well oiled machine, surely by
morning all that would have been left would have been a few smoking cow pies
in the interior.

At midnight the word came that everyone had to go to bed because of "strict
adherence to the work/rest guidelines." Not very many people on the fire
thought that was a good idea. At 0800 everyone was back at work, by 1000 the
fire blew up and put everyone at risk for the extreme fire behavior. The
extreme fire behavior continued throughout the next few days and the fire
grew to 10,000 acres. After subjecting a whole bunch more people, crews,
air tankers, helicopters, engines, dozers, an overhead team etc, to a whole
lot of risk, the fire was finally controlled.

It seems the safety gurus can't see the forest for the trees... (I mean black
trees). I know a lot of fire folks are out doing their thing, but I would
like to know if other people are getting put into situations of greater risk
because of the new "strict adherence". It seems that it can prevent us from
doing our job the safest way. Is there really such a thing as being too safe?

Thanks for letting our concerns be voiced.
08/12 Ghost Load suggests, "It's really time for the corporate message to be that safety is in numbers and let's count all the acres affected as acres treated. Wait for the smoke to clear and from there move on."

Any more info on the possibility of this? Makes sense to me. Let's get on with reducing the fuels. Oakland encouraged residents on the interface to change their fuel loadings and rebuild differently after the Oakland Hills Fire.

Re all the "jive" from those who would block reducing fuel loading of burned trees after the fire to prevent reburn in 5-10 years: the Oregon lumber industry says they don't want to "log" or "salvage" as the trees would only be pulp and they already have lots of that.

Any comments on what it might take to just get on with implementing the National Fire Plan in the way Ghost Load suggests?


PS. Ab, please add this on. Sorry to hear about the CDFers who were injured. I worked for CDF a couple of seasons and count some of those guys among my good friends. Hang in there. Get well soon.

Just got a small noontime update on the condition of those injured: Right now it looks like all three will make it. The one hurt the worst had successful surgery last night and this morning and reportedly has feeling in his toes. Ab.

08/12 It is the McNally fire.
It was originally misspelled and has been McNalley on everything reporting
(209, Sit Report) while correctly spelled on everything fire (IAP, maps,

To add to the fun one of the fire shirts has it spelled right on the front
and wrong on the back.

So it's the same fire... they apparently just didn't want to go through the
paperwork of changing the spelling.

Hope that helps,

NIFC has it with the e in and the url for the fire site has the e in, but the name on the site itself, as EMN says, has it without. I thought it was McNally. Someone asked. Ab.
08/12 Ab,

According to the Sequoia NF website it is the McNally
Fire. Would be interesting to know the fire activity on
that today. Lot's of smoke coming over the east side of
the Sierra's.

Thanks for the great site.

08/12 The CDF engine that rolled over was a Model 14/15 engine from TCU (Tuolumne-Calaveras). It was in lane 1 when the accident was caused by what appears to be a broken drive shaft. Officials said that with its siren blaring and lights flashing, it veered across three southbound lanes of Interstate 15 and rolled down a 60' embankment.

Officer Karen Faciane of the California Highway Patrol said that driver is in critical condition with a broken pelvis. Two other firefighters have moderate injuries. We hope the prognosis is good.

I have heard that CDF contacted and flew down family members to be with the injured crew. Other engines from the strike team stood down from their assignment to be with their brothers and offer support.

Here's a small photo of the rescue on Interstate 15 and Cahon Pass: www.pe.com/digitalextra/environment/fire/photos/cali-300.jpg

And a photo of the slope:


08/12 The number of the CDF engine involved in the rollover on Cajon Pass in Southern California yesterday is 4453. The local paper clearly showed the engine number as the crew was being attended to by San Bernardino County Fire Department personnel.


08/12 Hi Ab,
Just wanted to call your attention to the August issue of National Geographic.
It contains a story I photographed on Russian Smokejumpers.
There is also some more content at our web site at

For the past 6 years I've been working on a personal project photographing
wildland firefighters in the U.S. Seeing how they do it in Russia makes me
realize things could be alot worse here.

Mark Thiessen

On 8/9 Dana said: "I have even known several ADs that Were sent on assignments at a AD level, completed their assignment, signed their "red dogs" and after returning home received a letter saying they were being paid at a "lower rate" along with a copy of a "red dog" where the AD level had been changed to that lower level".

I've seen this also, but the reason for it was due to the varying AD rates across regions. Different regions have different pay rates. You don't take your region's hourly wage with you, you are paid at the receiving region's pay scale. Perhaps that was the problem. Regardless, the pay rate should be firmly established prior to leaving the home unit. There is also a form we complete upon arrival of all ADs where I work that requires the reasons for hire, fire number, request number, AD position, pay rate, location of hire, whether subsistence is authorized, transportation, etc. It's signed by the hiring official and the original given to the employee. With that form in hand, there shouldn't be any misunderstandings.

Also, on an annual basis (again, where I work), each AD must complete federal and state tax withholding forms along with an I-9 verifying proof of citizenship. The last form may seem a little silly since many of the ADs are retired from the forest they are working for. And, I was informed last week that the point of hiring agency is the one responsible for the OWCP. This bit of info arose when I was talking to the GACC deciding if our unit should be paying transportation for a faller's swamper from CA to CO. In other words, if the point-of-hire for the swamper was at my forest in CA and the swamper was injured in CO, my forest would be liable for the OWCP costs. This was an unusual request in that typically the swamper would have just gone with the faller on the original order. I haven't found any directives on this or clarification yet and would appreciate any other input on the subject.

Hope this info helps.

08/11 This link: http://cad.chp.ca.gov/ii.asp?Center=INCC&LogNumber=1247D0811
talks about a CDF engine over the side of the Cajon Pass on a fire there
this evening. Earlier they had the engine number, but they've since removed
that info. <snip> Sounds pretty serious... someone up
there said they landed 3 med helos on I-15. That's all the info I have for


Thanks Fish. I have heard about this from other sources, but snipped a little engine identifying info until that comes out more officially. As there is more info, we'll let you know. Prayers for those involved. Ab.

Update - paraphrasing an AP report:
Three CDF firefighters were critically injured in an engine rollover -- 60 feet down an embankment. They were en route to a 20 acre fire in Lytle Creek (N. of Fontana) The location mentioned by Fish and the chp report is correct. They were airlifted to local hospitals.
08/11 Fixin' to go tie in with the folks on the Florence fire Tuesday. Took a vacation in August, HA,HA, suckers. Caught two nice trout and got some kneeboarding in, pulled the wife and kids around the lake, and slept on the ground (oh well some things never change).

Ghost Load, you are a true poet, though a bit biased as a far as the jumper stuff goes. Gotta get the digs in whenever possible as far as the lawn darts go, no real harm meant by it. Someone please tell the press/public that HOTSHOTS don't jump out of airplanes.

Spent a lot of time in the Siskiyous my self over the years. An old HS Supt called it an "Outward Bound Program for Firefighters", on the Silver.

Cool spot lots of steep and some big trees to trip, nice rivers etc. Good downslopes make the night burning a little easier if you get that part of the job. Y'all can keep the rotten air (inversions) and poison oak though.

Everybody be safe, God Bless and welcome to "Dirty August".


Be Safe. Take care of those guys and gals. Ab.

08/11 Abs,
Hatch Act "do's and dont's" can be seen at:

I see nothing in it that limits a state or federal employee from
expressing his/her opinion about policy to the media or the public....
Which isn't to say that speaking carelessly or irresponsibly is a good
08/11 The law is called the Hatch Act, I believe created when Kennedy was President. It places restrictions on political activity by federal government employees (and also other state and local government employees) or on any activity that might be interpreted as political. I believe the law strives to keep members of one branch of the government from lobbying or having undue influence on another branch so as to maintain separation of power. Theoretically this is good. In practice it means that those who know the most about the fire environment and effects of fire treatments on the interface are not able to speak out in any way to the public and thereby to those who legislate.

As I understand it, this does mean that members of the FS, BLM, BIA, NPS, FWS, agencies that are part of the Executive Branch, can only articulate to Congress (Legislative Branch) what is needed to carry out the programs of the Executive Branch. They cannot seek to provide information that might be construed as influencing legislative policy. Similarly they cannot act in any way that might influence the Judicial Branch.

Sometimes even answering the media's questions can be construed as undue influence or lobbying one of the other branches, especially if someone is out to get you or your agency in our litigious society.

Anyone, please correct me if I'm wrong, or add details if you know them. Anyone have stories?

Ghost Load, your posts have made me look at the lands of the Siskiyou in a whole new way. I am enriched. I agree with you on the fire issues, too. Only the rains will end this one and, as a country, we all need to come together to move off the place of inactivity. No action on the National Fire Plan is a choice for catastrophic fire, when it comes to forests thick with vegetation. Lawsuits that keep us inactive can have dire consequences.

Hats off to Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA). She isn't letting partisan politics get in the way of needed change. We have many forests in CA. We can let them burn catastrophically or we can protect habitat, drinking water and interface homes and lives. In California and across the nation, the choice is ours.


08/11 Is it correct that the Florence Fire is now being called the Biscuit Fire?
Is this because the community of Florence is worried about loosing tourism?
They are not near the fire, by maybe 100 mi. (Think it will get that far?)
I think the Florence Fire was named after a creek.


Right there. Take a look at the Current Fires, 2002 links page and go to the bottom of the CA list. Click Zone 1, the Siskiyou site, then to "Biscuit" and you can find the rationale for the name change. It happens today.

To go with our thread on Fire Names: Does this count as the largest fire to undergo a name change? Know of any others that have changed (aside from the acronym name compliments of American Pie)?

Here's another question, is it the McNally Fire or the McNalley? Spelling differs depending on the site reporting it.

08/11 Hi Ab, home very briefly from the fire front and checking into the current dialog. But antsy to get back.

Ghost Load -- thanks for the eloquent description. Spot on. Touches my heart.

K -- Jive talk, maybe, but the preservationists are a powerful lobby with lots of money behind them. They cry non-profit and they are, but as non-profit they get lots of free media time. I would bet they can call up the big bucks when they decide to mount a campaign, too.

Ab and All -- Why is it that simply hearing the jive talk over and over makes it believable somehow, when you're a person who doesn't have time to delve into the details?

Our Public doesn't know that members of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and other govt entities are often prohibited from speaking what they think and what their environmental expertise indicates, by a law. I think it's from the Kennedy era, anyone with the details? Even when asked directly by the media, fire managers - all of whom are practicing environmentalists - often cannot speak freely without the fear that they'll be brought to task for "lobbying".

As long as the large number of environmentalists buy what a small number of preservationists are saying, our forests and communities on their fringe will experience catastrophic fire, fire that is a far cry from fire that occurs in a fuel-reduced forest. Rare and endangered species will die. People may too. Watersheds will be damaged.

We all need to join together for the reasons Ghost Load lays out.

Thanks Ab for the forum. Freedom of speech, what a luxury.

Tahoe Terrie

In spite of lobbying laws, freedom of speech is a right too. Ab.

08/11 Dana,

PSOB and you can call the number there for more info.


08/11 www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/08/11/MN35079.DTL

"The main goal is not fire prevention or hazard reduction," said Timothy Ingalsbee of the American Lands Alliance's Western Fire Ecology Center in Eugene, Ore. "It is commercial timber extraction."

Like ghost load says. Jive talk.
"We see post-fire salvage as a threat, but we know the courts are on our
side," he said. "We know we have already won, and here the agencies are
hanging about like economic vultures waiting to pounce on the land."

More jive talk, this one from Oregon:



How can we convince people who are cemented in distrust that we are all in this together? Ab.
08/11 Dana

Check out the Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook 15.3-1.

"Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). All federal employees, casuals,
and personnel covered by an written agreement, who sustain job-related
injuries and illnessesin the performance of duty, are covered by FECA (20
CFR 10)."

There are a couple more paragraphs in this section that contain exclusions
for contractors, inmates, and willfull misconduct by the employee but seems
like they are covered by workmans comp.

Don't know where to go for the PSOB stuff though.

On another note:
Great article on the 50 year history of T123, also posted on airtanker.com message board.


08/11 Ab, have not written to you before, but have read your site many times.
Have been doing fires for approx 18 years. Reason for writing now is,
can you help me find/get a copy of the letter the Chief sent out (I
believe) July 8 stating FIRE is number one Priority. I am having
problems at home unit for other than "fair" reasons and need a copy of
this for my documentation.
If you can help would you send it to firegoer@innercite.com, as I do
attempt to log on here more than elsewhere.
By-the-By, do like your site, does help people like myself and give good
advice. I will let you know later what my problem is, going several
routes right now. One of those things where no one is a winner, but in
the end it will show I am right, if you will.
I can not play anymore as was rode hard and put away to many times wet,
but do remember and do make an attempt to go the extra mile/step for the
ones who can. Still know what it feels like.

Thanks in advance
08/11 NorCal Tom - thanks for the kind words and sharing the faith (fate), likemindedness will help manifest the collective wisdom needed for meaningful, timely action and redeemable change. Consider what the outcome would be if Denver had burned? If Estes park went from green ($$$) to black -if I.V. burned, and Fort Dick's Pelican Bay prison had to evacuate? These are crazy times but we said this would happen - only we did not listen! Some idiot group appealed the wisdom.

However, Kudos to the IC's - Broyles in particular for a damn good job on a harried-no-win type 1 assignment. Well, we can all name a community at risk - even Central Park burns on occasion.

Sound logic that went into the 1995 federal policy when it stated that "every acre of vegetated land must have a plan".......

And of course we all know of many, many more communities ready to burn. But the benchmark for 2002 is clear: more acres affected by fire as we go indirect and save lives - instead of creating additional "heros" for the next ghost load out. The only implementable plan is Mother Earths. Wait a bit before we judge what is burned, the remnant mosaic is nature's unfettered design, painted by fire it is mother Earth's 's portrait. Maybe we don't need to finish planning for the lands affected, just schedule proposed maintenance. Any guess as to which special interest group would be so stupid to fight the obvious need to treat?

Hard to believe that wilderness fire plans, now in spirit "fire use" - are not up to date. If only we could grab the nations and the media's attention and simply state: "we are all in this together." The only compliant signatory is thunder music and mother earth as signatory.

It's really time for the corporate message to be that safety is in numbers and let's count all the acres affected as acres treated. Wait for the smoke to clear and from there move on. We don't need any more stinking sad preservation stories - prevention is not going to preserve squat when wildfire crosses massive landscapes and landscape scale mega events. Without significant acceptance for wise use fire, we will continue these drills for the rest of the season. Does it really take a village to burn before we can honestly drop the jive talk and focus work on the big picture. Yes, we are all in this together. Same old story, just one more item to get across to the public, right next to the fact that the Forest Service is not the nation's sub-urban fire department. All Logos aside - We really are in this together.

What did the "city" of Oakland do after the the October Oakland Hills fire in 1991? Kudos to CDF for calling it an interface fire, remember the panicked faces on nightly news quips? Hard to believe it could easily reburn. And if they would have interrogated O'leary's cow in 1890, then we would have been generations ahead.

Thanks NorCal Tom - the ghost load respects you. Help spread the word - 80% of the nation's drinking water originates from publicly owned lands - yes, vegetated tracts, all vulnerable to fire.

I look at the pallid, ashen faces of fellow ghost load riders. Shaking heads, voices silent - yet the first IC that says "we are all enjoined" (perhaps on CNN or the TLC)- will the discussions then be open to a higher level.

By the way, Florence and Bisquit are collectively larger than the Tillamook burn(s) which actually occurred over three separate seasons, with lots of reburns during banana-belt intermissions.

And, somewhere out there is an historical document of the Silver Fire in 1987. It covered the initial attack, the daily progress of a large landscape fire with sharp witted features on that era's "present day issues" - clearly a good read, speaks of the tactics and strategy in use today. Anyone seen a recent copy? As history repeats itself it's worth a find. And if you have never seen an airtanker's approach over a roiling ocean ready to drop on a raging redwood fire at salty sundown - just keep the shutter handy, it's quite a sight.

"Ghost Load" out.

08/11 From Firescribe:

The Silver Fire - that burned in the Kalmiopsis wilderness in 1987 with photo of K. leachiana - www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/1999/silver.shtml

08/11 OFG,

Re: "FS AD's are considered "employees" and are covered by
workmen's comp and PSOB."

Are you certain? Could you direct me to the legislation or policy
that supports that? Please.

I was speaking of ADs as defined by the Federal Agencies. Possibly
what you say is true and it is just not applied to ADs. State
"emergency hires" is a whole "nother thing" and deserves a rant of its
own. Now is not the time for that though. Just muddy the waters.

ghost load,
Beautiful, and true as well.

08/10 Crossover from Familysaid:

There is a good slide show at Yahoo. My sister is in OR on the Florence. She says there are lots of firefighters working to contain it. Says it's very hard work, but she's up to it. Here's the link: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?g=events/ts/042502colowildfire&a=&tmpl=sl&ns=&l=&e=1&t=

You can look at a group of small photos or at single larger ones by choosing at the top. The 141 photos are mostly from CA and OR fires.


08/10 From Firescribe:

Fatal helo crash near Estes CO result of overheating -
including mechanical description with analogy for non-rotorheads
08/10 Ab,

On the front page of today's Rocky Mountain News (Sat., August 10th) is a
big article about the aging slurry bombers. It can be accessed through:

Colorado Mom

Found it here: Fires Rage as Crews Wait for Newer Planes

08/10 Hello Ab, Bob G and All!!

I did not know Steve Oustad as well as some of the rest of the Fire Folk did, but I did know him as a very witty and carefree spirit. He valued his friends as if they were his own family and he held his family at the highest respects as well. This week was probably harder for me than last week. I attended John's memorial and then Steve's memorial... However, I knew that was not the end of it all for me.

I got the pleasure of meeting and getting to know some of his family and friends this week as I spent quite some time helping his family write his obituary. Thank you to all who helped me with the info I needed and his family was very pleased with the outcome. I think I learned even more about Steve as the professional Fire guy and the family and the friend that he was to all that knew him.

Anybody who knew Steve, Heather or John were very blessed to have them in their lives if even for a brief moment. And they will always be remembered for their heroism out there on the fire line.

To the two survivors of Engine 11, May God give you the strength to carry on... I know now that if Steve, Heather or John were here, they'd be telling you two to dust your pants off and get back to work... I have learned more than a fair share about all 3 individuals the past 2 weeks and they loved what they did and wouldn't have it any other way. They may be Fallen Firefighters, but their spirits are angels watching over you.

Stay Safe! Watch Out!! Be Careful !! And Take Care....
High Five to Bob for a very touching recollection on Steve the Friend & Family member...

The USFS did a wonderful job at showing the recognition to all 3 firefighters and what they meant to their Forest Service family. Every time I see the Honor Guard, I get choked up because I know they represent the finality that these people are really gone from our Earth, yet I also know that they will live on in spirit...


Good work on this C'More. Ab.

08/10 Dana,
I don't know about State level "emergency" (AD) type firefighters,
but in the FS AD's are considered "employees" and are covered by
workmen's comp and PSOB. They do not qualify for "unemployment"
nor do they earn "overtime" or "hazard pay". (H is supposedly figured
into the hourly rate).
08/10 NICE POST, ghost load. Poetic and full of truth. This one won't end
until the rains come. We'll herd it around, try to protect communities
and other values at risk.

The Big Bar Complex and Kirk in CA in '99 didn't even start until the
END of August and went until Nov and Oct. The BB went 70someodd
days, the Kirk almost that. We all cycled in and out of those, too. They
ended with the rains. No lives lost on those.

Until the Florence, I think Oregon's largest recorded fire was the
Tillamook Fire, which burned approximately 311,000 acres in 1933 up
in the northwest corner of the state. That ended only with the rains. Often
the rains don't come until Nov.

What will it take for people to realize we need the freedom to actually
reduce fuels on our forests?

NorCal Tom
08/09 Remember the Silver, remember the Chrome? They burned through the Kalmiopsis and Siskiyou's bones. From August 30 thru Nov. 9, 1987 when Silver was called "controlled." The seasonal rains began and after three days of wet, the unforgiving dance was over. The Siskiyou's burn in long durations of time - Silver was one of the longest burning wildfires in Oregon history - over 70 days. Many teams and crews and jumpers that failed, many of all kinds of crews kept cycling thru. We were ALL there at one time and now we return.

What stopped these fires was the shorter days, cooler nights, Rh recoveries, and constant vigilant burning out by fire managers who had the sense and wherewithal to do it, creating defensible areas wherever possible, and keeping the fire away from community infrastructures like rivers clean, cool and running in fall - (there were hardly that many resources then.)

Remember the Chrome Fire, October '89 - burned the southern end of the Kalmiopsis with almost no line? Heavy rains ended this wilderness bout. Now the entire wilderness has completely burned through - again on a 15 to 20 year cycle. Think about what happened in the last 20 years.

A swarming tide of humanity moved in from the south, returned from the north and shook off the east - many moved as close to the wilderness boundaries as Forest inholdings and county commissioners would allow. And many of the original landowners from the early 1900's let go of their secluded paradises. Then in the late 1980's, without any public involvement - a prison was built within the vicinity of Fort Dick and the communities around Crescent City exploded. High salaried employees built on those lands near Gasquet, up the Winchuck and Chetco Rivers and the counties of Del Norte and Curry boomed with the tide.

Every year since, the climate has dried and historically rained "a little less." Extended summers lasted longer, and more and more river holes and hiking trails got found. In 1987, over 20,000 firefighters visited Silver alone. Now, it appears the Six Rivers and the SisQ are having international firefighters calling from lands down under. "This forest doesn't burn, it's asbestos as best." At least they sold this to the Siskiyou Smokejumpers when they closed the base. Forever shut down. Not enough fires. You know the same story. Only now its the Air tanker Base - and hurting to think that just last month, the jumpers and pilots returned to relive the many fires of their day.

The mystical folklore land of the Siskiyou's and Kalmiopsis, the Gobi, the Craggies, Mars hole and Seat's dam, Cave Junction, Takilma, Hiouchi, and Gasquet no less - all at risk - all at one time. With really no place to go. Let's put up the right fight this time. Build the contingency lines and hope that they hold when we fire out drainages unless it rains - cause that's what its going to take. A dicothemous future indeed - changed by fire once again - but a little more personal this time. More structures, hooches, cabins and homes, yet fire resources from the 80's and the 90's never were heard. So what did we learn when they disappeared?

In this area, it is too risky to go direct on a mega- fire under the current severe conditions. You have got to hit them as they start - including during the rare lightning gales. Why do you think no wilderness plan was ever finished for this area the Gods call home. -- Because fire is rare, and when it occurs - it is rarely inconsequential.

The rains will come, and the fire will go out. Evacuations of new ownerships and historic generational land barons will all be affected. What will we learn. When the water runs black out of the Chetco into the taps of Brookings and Harbor - when the Smith gets jammed with swollen jams and the salmon return - all will be changed. This is a lifetime event of historic proportions.

Be safe on this fire, geography is not on your side. When the fog doesn't come in on hot summer nights - stay away from the flaming eastward raging fire fronts.

When it's all over what will stop it from happening again? Reopen the Siskiyou smokejumper base? Heck - that's too damn dangerous and everyone knows we were too crazy back then- but we did stop a few, big ones no less.

All of the surrounding communities must now think of recovery and mitigation of the next 10 year event. But its hard to think clearly when surrounded by fire. Wildfire is very unforgiving to people in the Siskiyous. Always keep that in mind - it's the great natural challenger that evens the score between pristine and divine.

Be safe - pray for the rain. Begin making plans to protect what you can. Now I know why the little Kalmiopsis leachiana grows so wild and remote. Walk the Craggies after the burn. It will be a bloom. Like its sister the Gobi so remote but beautiful in its loneliness.

Take care my firefighting buds. Pray for the rains, the weather to change. All we can do is avoid and be safe. Let it burn. I know it is crass to think of it this way, but the conditions exist that allow for nothing else to stop this angry beast. Burn out all you can; sate the dragon with its own life fluid. Put the forest back into a maintenance mode; a model of flame. Nature holds the rules in her hand and she claims they must be light hand on the land. Take care, beautiful sunsets, gagging in tanoak scum. At times, even in the deep woods alone, I can get mad because no one can see me crying and my screams go unheard.

Be safe. Pray for the rain. Burnout and get out - this one is nature's bane. Apologies to those that look with disdain upon these words- but history tells us the Siskiyou cries fire when we forget how it lies.

the ghost load

08/09 Dear Ab,

Just got back home from a trip to central Oregon which included a very productive and safe couple of weeks on the fireline with crews, engines, heavy iron, and air ops.

Am very happy that fed managers at all levels are supporting the fire organization. Its challenging for a manger to do this when faced with getting "targets" accomplished on the home front. An extended thanks to all managers who support the fire service.

Earlier discussions on fuel treatments are right on track as predicted, its rumor that all western states are taking a hard look at the managing hazardous fuels in support fo the fire plan, mitigating environmental impacts, and minimizing litigation issues. I pulled some links for Daschle that readers may find interesting.

Daschle in November of 2001, did he or someone know what could happen?

Daschle in July 2002,

"The Black Hills Forest Prevention Agreement was included in the final defense appropriations bill and signed into law by the President. The locally negotiated agreement between the Forest Service, the State of South Dakota, community officials, the timber industry and environmental groups will allow thinning to take place in the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and Beaver Park."


Finally the appropriations bill.
It took about 2 hours worth of net search but here is the skinny in black and white! The document is a pdf file and the pages of interest can be found on 45+. Happy reading! www.cfo.doe.gov/budget/billrept/fy02/02supp_enrolled_bill_hr4775.pdf


08/09 OFG,
It has been established that, technically, ADs are not "employees" either. As such it appears they will continue to not have any "death benefits" even if the proposed legislation is adopted. Not surprising.

Although they are usually not aware of it ADs are not provided most of the benefits which are mandatory for nearly all other employers in the USA. I have known quite a few ADs that were not even covered by workman's comp. when they were injured fighting fire. The legal argument was that they "could have been sent home anytime" so there was no guarantee that they would have been working if they were uninjured. In one case injures left the crew short and they could not quickly find replacements so the whole crew was sent home early. What a slap in the face! We too often still treat ADs as if they would be unemployed "drifters" if they were not fighting fire. I have known very few that did not have other full time jobs that they put at risk when called up to serve. And I know hundreds of ADs. Of course injured ADs too often not only don't get workman's comp. but lose their job back home as well due to their injury. ADs also can't expect unemployment insurance credit to accrue during time spent serving as a firefighter. Most states count that time as "vacation" time since the reply to state inquiries about employment by the Feds is "we have no record of that individual working for the federal government". I have even known several ADs that Were sent on assignments at a AD level, completed their assignment, signed their "red dogs" and after returning home received a letter saying they were being paid at a "lower rate" along with a copy of a "red dog" where the AD level had been changed to that lower level. No recourse available since those "offices" which generated the documents are gone after the fire is demobed and the office workers are dispersed.

It just seems like we treat ADs (and AT pilots) like the "fire gods" bastard children. If vollies and contractors employees end up being covered by death benefits and ADs do not...something is very wrong.

Sorry about the rant Ab....but this looks like yet another thing the families of ADs will be screwed out of. I hope I am wrong.

08/09 We in SD are mourning the loss of David Martin, a good friend and 20 year volunteer at the Opal Fire Department. He died on Aug. 6. He leaves behind his wife Rhonda, two daughters 14 and 16 yr old and a son, 18 and his community.

In our rural ranching country almost all of us volunteer at one thing or another, many of us help with firefighting, including prairie fires. We've never had anyone seriously hurt or die on while on duty in my area.

David is missed.

V, words can't express how sorry we are for your and your community's loss. Ab.
08/09 Mellie and all, In re-reading my own post, I'm not happy with the way it
came across......it sounds harsh in black and white. I wrote in a hurry
and meant to emphasize that the tragedy of death is compounded by the
economic impact of the family we leave behind.

I see three fronts that we can address this on.
  • One is change in law.
  • Two is change in contractual requirements (we mandate that contractors
    have liability insurance, but do not mandate life insurance for their
    employees) .
  • Three is personal accountability......work for the company that provides
    insurance (even if pay is lower) or take some of that pay and use it to
    buy insurance.

All families should ask hard questions and look at how those who remain behind will survive financially if faced with the loss of their firefighter. We don't like to think of such things, but when dependents are involved, we must. Ab.
08/09 OFG made an excellent point everyone has CHOICES.

* one example is when a contractor is in the contract negotiation stage. proof of
insurance coverage must be provided - no guarantee that the coverage won't be
canceled once the contract is awarded; no guarantee the coverage via a
contractor equals that of any governmental entity employer.
* another example is when an employee of a contractor has no clue how well
maintained the equipment is - how many of those rigs are professionally
inspected before or during a given fire season...
* a third example, and much harsher: how competent is the operator of that piece
of equipment, be it vehicle, dozer, air craft.....

Although all GOVERNMENTAL entities provide workers compensation insurance
coverage for employees (and in most cases volunteers), contractor's employees
do not fall under that same blanket coverage. Unfortunately and until laws are
enacted to modify the workers compensation coverage requirements for
contractors, unethical lawyers will continue to have a field day, hoping for big
retainer fees from those who have lost a loved one on some fire in podunk.


08/09 Mellie:

The PSOB act specifically ties into the OPM classification which gives firefighter
retirement to "Forestry techs & Range techs" (Series 462 and 455, respectively).
"Firefighter means......... control, suppression, extinquishment".

Funny thing, Forestry Techs qualify for the retirement and PSOB act and yet the
classification of 081 series as Firefighters do NOT. This next week in Vegas is the
National Convention for the International Association of Firefighters, (IAFF). California
Professional Firefighters have several Resolutions from our March convention addressing
the Federal Wildland Firefighter.

Portal to Portal pay, Hazard pay being counted toward retirement, 081 classification
and 3% at 50 retirement. Yes, a resolution to include "Air Tanker and other contractors"
for PSOB coverage. If the resolutions are passed, IAFF will work toward legislation
in the next two years. FWFSA has been at the Legislative Conference, CPF Convention
and we will be at IAFF Convention. I will update the FWFSA website and Theysaid
after the Convention.

Id like to THANK Tom Gardner, President of Local 2881 - CDF for their support
of Federal Firefighter issues within CPF. Their local placed the resolution and
pushed for our Air Tanker families. IAFF members can read the resolutions in
the July-August edition of "International Firefighter".

08/09 Hello Ab,
One of your correspondents suggested I contribute to your forum 'they said'.
I'm wary of telling firefighters in another country what to do but your
readers may be interested in a condensed version of our research into the
physiology of fire fighters and the implications for clothing. Its a bit
long but I don't like to express an opinion without backing it with some

Firefighter clothing

Thanks to the invitation to contribute to your forum. We have carried out
extensive research on the physiology of firefighters suppressing forest
fires with hand tools. The results were all published in the International
Journal of Wildland Fire Vol.7 No 2 June 1997. There are 13 papers and they
are pretty tough reading but if you want solid data about how people perform
when fire fighting then this is for you. We also produced and
easier-to-read booklet called "Safe and Productive Bushfire Fighting with
Hand Tools". This may be out of print now but I will see what can be done
put it on the Web.

The decision about firefighter clothing depends entirely on what you want
the firefighter to do. We were looking at crews whose job was to build fire
line, by hand, around the hottest fire that they could handle. We would
have dearly loved to evaluate and the physiological performance of other
firefighters, such as tanker crews building fire line using hose-lay - but
this technique is not all that common in Australia and the money wasn't
available. However on the principle is the same: the most suitable clothing
depends on the job you want to do and the amount of physical exertion that
the job involves. I will give a brief summary of our results.

The job: building a 1 m wide mineral-earth fire line from the litter and at
times dense scrub fuels. In our forest this technique fails when the
intensity is over 1000 kW/m, i.e. the flame heights are greater than 1.5 m.
Not so much because the flames breach the fire line but because the
intensity of spotting exceeds the capacity of the crew round up the spot
fires. Typical tools used are: one slasher or fern-hook, several MacLeod
tools, and a chainsaw to cut the line through downed log material.

The fires: we tried to reproduce the intensity of a head fire of a fire that
had reached 10 hectares (25 acres) under the prevailing weather conditions.
The rates of spread ranged from 50 to 800 m per hour. Head fire intensity
ranged from 290 to 3000 kW/m. The forest was a well-stocked stringy-bark
eucalypt forest 40 metres high with understorey shrub in places up to 2m
high. A 3000 kW/ m fire in this forest is an incipient crown fire with
flames extending up to 20 m in the intermediate canopy with the occasional
torching to 40 + m. On these fires crews built fire line along the flanks
where the flame heights were generally less than 1.5 m. On two occasions
they were able to reduce the intensity of the head fire by narrowing the
width of the fire but were not able to get around the head fire before we
terminated the experiments. These fires generally burned more than 50
hectares (130 acres) during the experiments. They raked 25 000m of
fireline. I think the experiments represented a realistic firefighting job.

The crews: Our crews were volunteers from the forest service workforce. No
women volunteered (there were not many employed at that time). They ranged
from skinny pot-smoking hippies to endurance athletes.

Result: the key result most relevant firefighter safety and firefighter
clothing was that during the work period the heart rate of all firefighters
rose to and plateaued at 160 beats per minute. The deep-body temperature
(each firefighter had a rectal thermometer inserted to 10 cm (4 inches))
rose to and plateaued at 38.6 -- 39.0 º C. These plateaus were reached
and maintained regardless of the firefighter fitness, the external air
temperature or the duration of work. It means that firefighters all
experience in the same stresses and strains in terms heart rate and elevated
deep-body temperature, because this is the physiological condition that they
can maintain over prolonged periods. Fit firefighters were more productive
than unfit firefighters but they were all equally vulnerable to heat stress
if conditions changed.

The body will maintain thermal equilibrium provided the skin temperature
remains lower than the deep-body temperature and the heat you generate by
thermal exertion is allowed to escape. Our firefighters maintained a skin
temperature of 35.2 º C on the inside thigh, and 36 º C on the cheek. They
did this by wearing a relatively light clothing that allowed sweat to
evaporate (they were always "wet") and maintaining themselves at a distance
from the fire where the radiant heat was low enough for them to work
comfortably and yet still attempt to surround the fire and keep it to its
minimum size possible.

On a couple of occasions when they were exposed to the convective heat from
the fire (trying to get around the head or during a downdraft on the fire)
the response was dramatic. The skin temperature rose above the deep-body
temperature, which then immediately rose above the plateau level and was
associated with near collapse of the firefighter (within seconds) who had to
withdraw from fire line immediately and recover.

If you wear heavy clothing the fire line there are a number of consequences:
1. You cannot work hard because the metabolic heat you generate cannot
escape (actually physiologically you are working hard but you cannot build
much fireline).
2. You are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion from because the skin
temperature will be elevated.
3. There is a temptation work too close to the fire. This raises the
temperature of the garment and if there is an emergency such as an exposure
to convective heat, collapse will be rapid and the firefighter may not be
able to shed the clothing fast enough to cool down.

So the clothes you wear depend entirely on the job you are asked to do. If
you're asked to build fire line close to the fire for long periods, you must
wear light clothing and adopt a safe work practice: work from and anchor
point and have rapid egress to a safe area, usually the burned ground, if
conditions change. The work practice you adopt must allow you to do this
within seconds in a rather than minutes. If the burnout time of the
particular fuels you are working in against does not allow safe egress onto
the burned area you should seriously question the safety of the task you are

The clothing has to be solid enough to protect you from low levels of
radiant heat, sparks and abrasions from the vegetation. It should not melt
or catch alight easily. The boots have to solid enough to with stand
smoldering fuel for a short period

At 3000 kW/m our firefighters would have been fried in seconds if the head
fire overran them and no amount of practical protective clothing (or
protective shelter for that matter, but that's a story for another day)
would have saved them. The burnout-time of heavy fuels meant that our
firefighters would have to wait around 45 minutes before they could survive
on the burned area. This meant that when they were engaged on flank
suppression they could only progress along the flanks of the fire where it
was burning slowly laterally and they could easily cross the 20 - 30 m or so
of smouldering fuels to an area that had burned some 45 minutes earlier.

The possibility of burnover was never an option. The crew leaders always had
the power of refusal if we asked them build line in a situation that they
considered unsafe (this only happened once). You should do the same.

Phil Cheney

Thanks for writing in Phil. Ab.

08/09 Mellie, here are some statistics concerning fatalities that have occurred in my home state
this year:
2 contract airtanker pilots
1 contract tree faller
5 contract firefighters
1 contract helicopter pilot

A few thoughts:

There obviously needs to be some type of benefit for contractors killed in the line of duty.
I think it would be wrong to limit it to airtanker pilots.

I think that the PSOB program would be the wrong way to go about it. Contractors by
nature work for outfits that try to make a profit, PSOB is intended for public servants.
(We have to swear an oath of office and all that stuff.) I would be more comfortable with
requiring contractors to provide a decent death benefit as a contract requirement.

Any future change in the contract requirements would still result in a gap for contract
employees who have been killed in the past. I don't have an good answer for that one.

08/09 According to Associated Press:

"...The blaze started July 29 when a National Guard helicopter clipped a
power line during a search for marijuana plants in the rugged, isolated
area. The 53,200-acre fire had destroyed 22 homes..."

Found this interesting.

-Young Gun
08/08 As of 08/08/02, 0700, the Pines Fire near Julien CA has destroyed 122 structures (homes and outbuildings) and burned 53,875 acres.

That puts it in 18th place on the list of fires with structures burned in a CA wildfire. No lives have been lost, although at least one engine got burned. Note that the majority of fires listed here occurred in late summer or fall. Only 5 other large structure loss fires occurred in the summer: two in August, two in July and one in June.

Take home message: This is a ripper that has gobbled structures, etc. In CA fire knows no season.

The take home message to the public: an ounce of prevention is worth many chains of jumped line and multiple burned buildings. Fuel reduction is necessary and making your homes and structures firesafe works.

The message to the Governor and CDF Director: "Appreciate your firefighters."

(Lots of smoke in Riverside right now.)
Everybody, be safe.
08/08 Osage Okie-

Don't feel alone, I think that the problems which you face are a nation-wide situation. Many rural depts. simply lack the time and money to face the "worst case scenario". Plus if it's not within the firefighting cultural norm of the area, it is often labeled as "something that happens someplace else" and is dismissed as a novelty. This is a comfortable yet narrow way in which to respond to issues which face all depts. at one time or another.

Keep pushing the message Okie.
Fire Safety Sam

08/08 Mossback-
As a pup (25 years ago) my first summer was on a CDF Engine Co.
I must say that the fundamentals that I was taught back then are as equally solid today.
CDF left a permanent and positive impression on me.
(No -I don't still bounce quarters off my bed to test if I made it "to standard".)
CDF will always represent a high level of professionalism to me, and should serve as a model to other States.

The Federal
08/08 In over 20 years of wildland firefighting, firefighting supervision, and firefighter training I never
battled the beast with CDF. Reading the reports of this summer's situation and how they are
responding, seems to me they are a good, solid firefighting outfit. The current goals of wildland
firefighter training, fitness, safety, etc. are laudable. It is unrealistic to expect to ever completely
reach these goals to the point where experience lost to retirement or change of jobs is
immediately replaceable, everyone is so fit and safety conscious no one is ever injured or
worse, and pay is satisfactory to everyone. I am sure CDF as well as the Feds and other States
all have, and will always have, problems. I sincerely hope they are, and always will continue,
working on and reducing the effects of problems that arise.

Sorry about all the verbiage, this is just intended as a 'tip of the hat' to CDF.
Keep up the good work.
The highest priority: everybody comes back.

08/08 Re PSOB (Public Safety Officers' Benefits):

Thanks for the answer OFG. I know that the family of my friend Karen Savage (a vollie out of Junction City) who died on a fire at Redding in '99 got benefits. Hmmmmmmmm. At least I think they did.

I need to learn more about the specifics of the federal bill with respect to other contract firefighters. I just know it covers AirTanker families. Wanda Nagel, an airtanker widow, has been working hard to rally the AT community and others to get legislators to address this issue of benefits. She's been instrumental in bringing change in CA with a similar bill that allows children of ff contractors who die in the line of duty to go to a CA university for free.

For a first hand explanation of why these benefits are important for AT families and why the system is not working, read what Diana says: http://www.airtanker.com/wwwboard/messages/9976.phpl. These families are falling through the cracks in spite of trying to plan for the worst. At one of the recent memorial services I heard that the collection for the two families amounted to less than $400. That probably doesn't even pay gas to get to the service.

OFG, the current state of affairs is not the fault of the FS, state fire, or the fire organization. The rules that govern hiring and hiring the cheapest as well as the chain-of-command issues that go along with hiring contractor or AD or FS (or CDF) are complicated. We could all educate ourselves a little, though, and support our fire families who need it by changing the laws.

As well, fed firefighters could join FWFSA and collectively work toward improving the lives of "forestry technicians" and "range technicians" AKA wildland firefighters.


08/08 It continually amazes me that this type of accident happens over and over. We seem to not be able to learn from others. I teach wildland firefighter safety to rural depts. . They usually have this reply "That only happens on the big fires out west" or "Its never happened here before". You can tell that I am some what discouraged, but these firefighters fight fire after fire and never ask who will pay for us. Change is slow in coming.
Osage Okie

As I read it:
Public Safety Officers' Benefits, administered by the Department of Justice. "....pay a benefit to specified survivors of public safety officers found to have died as the direct and proximate result of a personal injury, traumatic injury involving external force sustained in the line of duty...." "...A public safety officer is defined to be any individual serving a public agency in an official capacity, with or without compensation, as a law enforcement officer, police, corrections, probation, parole and judicial officer, firefighter, rescue squad member or ambulance crew member. A public agency means an agency of the US, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico , and any territory...of the US, or any unit of State or local government."

As interpreted to date...... people working under private contract are not "employees".

This seems to be a matter of law.....work to change the law if you don't like it.

Perhaps contracts should include a clause that mandates companies provide insurance for their employees.

I would not work for an employer that did not provide life insurance (freedom of choice). Additionally, I choose to purchase additional insurance on my own (again, freedom of choice).


08/08 Ab,

Bits and pieces from the Pines Fire.

CDF Engine 3174 was reported as being one of the engines involved in a burn over by LA TV news, but there were no injuries to crew personnel or the engine, per their ranger unit.

One fire engine from So Cal was sent home by a safety officer for violating operational safe speeds. While this seems extreme to some, our job is to go home after we put the fire out. A crew in the hospital or worse, or a totaled engine does no one any good.

Engines and crews are making some good stands to protect homes, despite the extreme fire behavior at times.

Everyone be safe. No brush, structure, or other inanimate object is worth any firefighters life.


08/08 Been lurking recently, trying to digest whats going on this year, really feel out of touch not being out there playing along. I was sad to hear about Lassen E11, I spent some time up that way on E13 when I was a seasonal.

As to the inmate crews I can relate to those trying to enter the fire service, it is frustrating to see all these prisoners taking away possible employment, CDF alone runs 250 or so crews, x 15 (min staffing) = 3750 more firefighter positions that theoretically would be available just in California, and that doesn't include inmate engine crews at the prisons. However I think that the reality would probably be about 1/2 that and much of those would probably be like the Fed AD crews for an overall decrease in the number of crews available, I do find it interesting that there are many limits on what these crews can do in regards to other industries but not in fire.

That said, these crews do provide quality work and we would be paying for them in prison or on the line and the value on the line is certainly greater than them sitting around a jail cell. I have also run a County inmate crew for project work with the Forest Service and must say that the benefits to society are good, they go through a strict selection process and by being part of a crew avoid being placed in with the more hardcore prisoners, I don't have any evidence to support this theory but I would guess that in addition to cheap labor a higher percentage of crewmembers return to being productive members of society when released compared to those in the general prison population. While I have never asked, many inmates have volunteered that they are in on drug related charges which makes me think that if drugs are ever legalized those fire agencies using inmates may have some tough choices on how to fill their crews.

I am familiar with the CDF and NDF crews and must say they do a good job, I don't believe they should be called Type 1 crews for many reasons (just read the description in the Fireline handbook and that should sum it up) but they are definitely worth having out there on the line. BC Davis I must say the NDF cooking crews are excellent, not to knock CDF whose crews do a good job as well but the best Pork chops I've ever eaten were in Elko, NV from one of the NDF crews, those guys should run a restaurant when they're not on fires.

Sammi I can't speak for all agencies but my experience with the Forest Service was that newbies were encouraged to ask questions and to speak up if they are uncomfortable, this is for safety and because thats the best way to learn how to do things right (sometimes for both the newbie and the supervisor). I was lucky when I started out to have open minded supervisors who encouraged these kinds of questions, and when I became a supervisor I tried to carry on this idea. I've never had one of my firefighters refuse an assignment I gave them but have had several occasions where I needed to explain why we were doing something (mostly my fault for not explaining how and why better). Another thing I learned from others was to debrief after each incident to get those who didn't speak up at the time to get a chance after the fact. I know I'm not the only one that does this because I learned from others.

Well I'm missing what looks to be a historic year in fire but I must say at least my knees don't hurt for the first time in many years. Be careful out there, its only August.


08/07 Continue to enjoy checking this web site. Have not seen anything on the firefighter who died in South Dakota. I get an E-Mail from http://wwwusfa.fema.gov/applications/listserv/usfamail.cfm

He was with the Opal Vol Dept and was burned while fighting a wildfire.
Thanks again for all your work.

Osage okie

Additional information: The firefighter who died on August 6, 2002 from burns received while fighting a prairie fire (Klink Knob Fire in Meade County SD) was David Martin, age 48. Tribute is being paid to Firefighter Martin at:

Our condolences. Ab.

08/07 Here's a description of the conditions on the Pines Fire that resulted in the loss of 2 CDF engines that someone was asking about:


Satellite Images:
Pines & McNally smoke: www.osei.noaa.gov/Events/Current/FSMHSusCA219_N5L.jpg
Florence & Sour Biscuit smoke: www.osei.noaa.gov/Events/Current/FSMHSusOR219_N5L.jpg
Larger versions can be found here, www.osei.noaa.gov/Events/Current/ 10th and 12th links down the list.


08/07 Have been out fighting the 'beast' and am just catching up with earlier posts.

The Work Capacity test is a failed test. I think it was designed for
destroying knees. This year we had new temps passing this test, whose weight
exceeded 300 pounds without gear. After having passed the test, they still
can't beat me up the hill and I'm over 40.

All I can tell you is that the pack test has cost the taxpayers more in
dollars than it has saved, with knee injuries, medical physicals and OWCP

We have regulation, both OPM and OSHA, that we use for worker performance.
My question to the taxpayers, and I'm one, why expend our dollars on
something that doesn't work and kills firefighters at the same time? To
say someone that passes the pack test can safely run to a Safety Zone is
one person that shouldn't be fighting fire.

I for one, would want someone who can use the Ten Fire orders, Watch Outs
and Fire Behavior to not get into a situation where they have to rely on
running. After filing an informal complaint with OSHA on the pack test, I
now see we have another agency out to just collect a pay check.

Anyway, for you firefighters out there, this is not one of those years
where running to a safety zone is going to save your life. This is the
time to use the Ten Fire Orders, Watch Outs, Fire Behavior and Weather
to stay alive. I've been on fires that the labeled Safety Zone was no
more then a Deployment Zone. Can we say, 'McNally fire'?

signed, theSourceWithin
08/07 Engine 11

I was the Engine Captain of Engine 11 for twenty years (1977-1997). I hired Steve Oustad
on my engine around 1982 as a crewperson, he very quickly became one of my best
friends. Through the years Steve became quite a good fireman and was the best Engine
Operator and Driver I had ever saw or worked with in my 25 years. Steve stayed on
Engine 11 when I retired and promoted up to Captain, well deserved! I stayed very close to
Steve even after retirement, he was such a good friend. I use to tell him every time I saw
him "you be careful out there!" To receive that early morning call on July 28th (day after
his birthday) was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. And to hear that along
with Steve, Heather and John also died was more of a shock. I went to John's service and
then to Steve's on Saturday. Seeing the Forest Service Honor guard was quite an
eyeopener, very professional and very well trained. The Lassen National Forest Supervisor
Ed Cole talked briefly (crying as he did) at both services and presented the Fallen
Firefighter Statue to the families. Wasn't a dry eye at either service. The turnout of Forest
Service personnel and Firefighters was overwhelming. I will miss visiting, laughing and
being around Steve, I feel him daily and still see his smile. And as I said to Steve many
times, and the same goes out to you reading this, "you be careful out there!"

Bob Grate
Captain Engine 11
08/07 Abs

The Dana/Hamid exchange has moved off the subject of fire control, but
I think it's worthwhile. If you're willing to post this, maybe it will
be helpful.

The USFS has archived quite a bit of research on the subject of wood as
fuel. The search engine on the USFS web site will get you to it.

I've had a few conversations with foresters working in the northern
and southern rockies. Based on those conversations haul distance seems
to be historically the biggest stumbling block to the utilization of low
value forest products for any purpose. More recently (the past 20+
years) the uncertainty of future supply from federal lands seems to be
holding back both loggers and industries from investing in the equipment
necessary to harvest and use this potentially viable fuel material.

The Southeast would seem to be taking the lead in using low grade wood
as fuel. The most efficient method seems to be chipping the wood on the
logging site, blowing the chips into tractor trailor units, and hauling
the chips to the use site. Once on site the chips are stashed in covered
buildings. Actual utilization of the chips usually involves preheating a
combustion chamber with natural gas burners, then blowing chips into the
chamber. Once the correct temperature is reached (it doesn't take long)
the gas is turned off and the chips become the only energy source used
for the duration of the combustion period.

08/07 I have a question, does this PSOB only apply to paid firefighters, or does
it apply to vollies as well? Also do you have to have firefighter in your
title, do Forest Service personnel who get killed fighting fire and that is
not their primary job get this benefit? Just wondering.


08/07 Hamid,

Were the waste-to-energy generators in CA portable?
Over a decade ago the MN legislature forced our nuclear generator owners into signing on to a alternative energy project of growing aspen on marginal ag land for the purpose of generating electricity in years to come (in exchange for onsite waste storage permit extensions). They now claim the first plantations which are beginning to mature are too expensive to burn and are selling the sticks to International Paper for pulp. They base their argument on the total cost of "fuel" including transport to existing coal burning plants. None of the waste to power units I have seen was portable and so over the road transport "drives" (no pun intended) the cost way too high to be profitable. I wonder however if "portable" generation units would change that. It makes no sense to haul the fuel to the generator when the energy can be generated on or close to the site and "transported" over the existing "grid". If we are serious about fuel load reduction the question is not so much if the biomass being removed from the forest can be "burned" to produce electricity for a profit. Rather it is "does it lower the cost of fuel load reduction programs?" It may also make the programs more acceptable to "environmental" groups and so help to remove them as the obstacles they now seem to be. If properly coordinated, the fuel would be cut and skidded to landings close to a powerline. The fuel would be allowed to dry a bit to increase its btu potential before a portable generator unit was hauled in and began burning the piled "debris". After one site's waste was gone, the generator unit would move on to another.

I am currently involved with our local technical school, a local utility, and several local business' in a waste-to-energy cogeneration project. Our city also has a waste-to-energy unit for regional disposal of municipal solid waste. None of these projects "makes" money. They do however provide several dozen good jobs in the community and cost less than the alternatives...when taken as a whole and carefully integrated with the need to dispose of a waste product. I think this idea may have potential to provide better employment opportunity to firefighters (off season) and hasten the needed fuel reduction program. It may be off topic for this forum though.


08/07 Ab,
I am not associated with the firefighters community, but stumbled upon your web site while looking for information on the Julian, CA fire. I just had to let you know that you have done a wonderful job on putting this site together. I found it very helpful and informative.


Cynthia, come back and visit. I hope you looked at the Fires, 2002 page. We try to keep that up to date. Ab.
08/07 Hi All

Thanks for the info BC. I still have questions, but maybe chat some night. Heard I just missed you last night. What a long way we have come since meeting back east!

Everyone: Here's something I hope all will read and consider doing.

U.S. benefits sought by kin of tanker pilots. (The acronym in case you hear it later is PSOB, Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program.)

Families of police officers and firefighters receive death and disability benefits under the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program, established in a 1976 law. The program provides an inflation-adjusted $259,000 one-time cash award. Qualified recipients also may receive tax credits and college tuition benefits for their children.
Our AirTanker pilots do not receive this benefit. Most are under-insured. Three or 4 of them on average die each year in this dangerous profession that supports us. This year 5 have died.

We can help our air support folks. Please print this off, copy it for friends and ask all to send it to their congress people with a request to support the legislation. Their children and wives deserve this.


08/07 Hamid,

A number of cogeneration power plants were in operation 8-12 years ago in California. These plants, often in conjunction with saw mill operations, created electricity utilizing small trees (8" dbh down to 5" on the stump to a 3" or smaller top), wood waste, and agricultural waste as hog fuel. When electricity was deregulated in Ca., the market for this operation dropped out. Many, if not most, of these plants closed. The cost of producing this electricity greatly exceeded the value received for the electricity generated. When Ca was experiencing an energy crisis last summer, the state encouraged a number of these plants to come back on line. As the crisis declined, these firms again found themselves in a money losing situation.

There is great potential for utilizing this material for hog fuel, but, the costs are higher than the value received. These plants were very environmentally friendly. Strict air pollution regulations resulted in minimal emissions. A number of these plants remain intact but idle. It is a shame that this material can not be economically utilized for electricity production.


08/07 mellie, long time !

with ndf, we spend several days teaching the s-110,130,190 to the inmates before fire season. we also take time from our projects to do line cutting and saw work. my crew is well taught and most really want to fight fire.

we are not a camp crew and will not be until i cant climb mountains anymore. we do have a fire support crew, the do the cooking. they do a great job and i have never heard anyone complain. after eating MRE,s who would ( grin )? i do our best to keep my crew away from free people. not that i worry about my crew doing something but because most people who hasnt worked with a inmate crew doesnt know how to react to them. sometimes i feel like a leper but i have gotten used to it. we also keep the male crews from the female inmate crews. no need to create a bigger mess.

anymore questions feel free to ask. we are not here to take over the fire fighting world, only to do a little fire ass kicking in our own little piece of the pie.

BC Davis


As I was browsing through theysaid, I saw the message from SoCal Capt about the link to CPF about the Lassen Engine 11. Even though it said I needed IE6 or Netscape 6, I tried to view it. Curious that it is becoming commonplace to have sites that exclude browsers that aren't IE 6 or Netscape 6 compliant. Is this the way that Microsoft and Netscape (AOL) think things are going?

I'm certainly glad Wildlandfire.com doesn't think so, or I would be forced to drop the site from my most favorite list! Thanks for keeping this site compatible with my old browser and from what I can see, as many operating systems and browsers as you possibly can!


Well, for many different reasons, we've tried to maintain the compatibility you mention. We understand our audience stems from many sources and locations. We know that many federal/state/other clients are force fed out-of-date images and programs from their vendors along with their computers. We also realize that many of our readers are using dialup connections and don't have the bandwidth those in the larger cities have to download all the newest updates. As of tonight, a mere 12.7% of our users over the last month use IE 6 and a paltry 0.75% use Netscape 6 or higher. Give or take a few, that's only amounts to a 14% total.

All I can say is we try! And that the California Professional Firefighters, among other sites, must be missing 86% of their intended audience. Thanks for the comment. Ab.

08/06 Check out the plume from from space of the active Pines Fire near Julien in the SanDiego area. Weve lost containment on the north and northeast sides in the last 2 days. This could end up being the largest fire in the history of CDF.


08/06 Ab and All,

Another good memorial link for our fallen Lassen Engine 11 firefighters
from the California Professional Firefighters. Too many have died.

(requires Internet Explorer 5+ or Netscape 6+ & you don't need the macromedia flash player!)

I hope we all stay safe and can all come out and "chat" when this season
is over.

SoCal Capt

08/06 Anyone know the rationale for FS njiine model #'s. i.e. Model 70, 60, 61, 62 etc?

08/06 morning ab,
an article on our aging tanker fleet in today's newspaper,
worth a read....
donna, dozer support
08/06 OKAY heres some of the quirks regarding this 2 to 1 work ratio:

So far I've slept (in the middle of the day and everyone knows you can
hardly sleep an afternoon away) in my engine, in the black, in a high
school gym (on the floor) and at a rest stop off the clock.

We have been told not to do maintenance on our engines during these periods
because they require "uninterrupted rest" during this 2 to 1.

We have been told that we cannot engage in activities like competitive
sports, drink beer (for those over 21) nor anything considered foolish or
unruly even though we are officially "off the clock".

We are fed by caterers and under camp supervision during this "rest

IA performance is interrupted even with structures threatened to adhere to
the 2 to 1.

Ive heard many good suggestions regarding this conundrum of a requirement.
Such things as make us all portal to portal, pay a flat rate for any rest
that would differ from normal hours of rest, let IA forces violate this
rule as long as they dont go over 32...etc etc. However, what they will
decide to do with this thing leaves me dazed and confused.

08/06 From Firescribe, TV and newspaper coverage on the Pines Fire:

CBS Ch 8

NBC Ch 7

ABC Ch 10

San Diego Union Tribune:

08/06 The SoCal TV stations are reporting that an engine was lost on the Pine Incident near Julian (San Diego County). They said the crew got out OK. Does anyone have info on this one?


Heard rumors that happened yesterday. Know of no reports. Ab.

08/06 To OFG-

I don't know about burning cannibus bales to generate power, but I have given a great deal of thought to ways of getting rid of miles of tangled, small trees in the pine forests of E. Washington and Oregon.

If we can't sell the little stuff, perhaps we could give it away. I have always thought that perhaps it could be used for hog fuel. Not that hogs really need this kind of stuff, but that we could use it to fuel semi portable, small power generators. Perhaps the National Forests could sell the power and pay for some of the environmental compliance costs. Why just burn it? I have probably burned enough woody biomass over the past 25 years to light the city of Seattle for a year. I have always felt bad about wasting this stuff.

I still believe that the main issue with this buildup of fuel is economics. Find the markets and human ingenuity will find a way to make it happen in an environmentally acceptable manner.


08/06 I've gotten used to eating on my feet at the kitchens, and I will say this...the DNR kitchens turn out better-than-average camp chow, and the shorter lines often mean the difference between getting a hot breakfast and not.

08/06 What kind of training do the inmates go through? Are they all the equivalent of redcarded and WCT certified? Are all inmate crews trained for fire even if they are cooking crews? Are cooking crews pulled out of the "kitchen" if they're needed on the fireline? If so, do they have enough experience? I know AG Mike's crew is primarily fire and sometimes cooks, but are there crews that are the other way around?

If there are incamp crews, and these crews do go on fires sometimes when needed, presumably they have fire-experienced sups? Would have to be a capt at least?

The CDC crew that worked briefly at Five Waters was clearly fire experienced and worked as a unit, but the recent posts have got me wondering about experience and training and supervision of the cook (or incamp) crews.

Firehorse, you turn off those big south-facing fans, Ya hear! No more smokin' us out!


08/06 DNR kitchens.
the food is good, so you've been working for 14-16 hours what's another 20minutes to eat?

drug busts,,, got a good story there. The hand crew I was on spent 28 days staged in an area with "high Potential" being staged at a heli-base was getting very very boring all day, we looked forward to going and stacking sticks (we were on the verge of going nuts). One day the district FMO gave the helibase a call for an assignment for the crew i was on, we were the only non local crew. The local county Sheriff's office recently had a drug bust in the hills a stand of marijuana and they needed help packing it out. Well we jumped at the chance to get out of the helibase, we weren't told what we were doing until after we left. The place was safe and were briefed about it before we went in. A short walk (.25-.50 miles) in the little draw. The grower had this interesting little (150 or so plants is what we were told) set up. So we picked up the stuff and packed it out. It was great the cops were all joking about it, "hey you want to burn this!?" We all had a good laugh, the cops wanted to know if we wanted a crew pic. Hell yeah some folks said, so we did, the cops took our pics with the stuff in the bags, for our entertainment (and their documentation probably). But here's the funniest part when we got back into town and hit the store, we drove past the Sheriff's office on the way back to the helibase and the truck that we loaded the contraband into was parked outside, no security, with all the contents in the back of the truck still. It was just funny to see.


08/06 Papa:

I had the chance to wear that goofy full brim yellow hard hat on the Catalina Hotshots in 1978, work on the Helicopter and the Palisades Engine. A brand new Model 70.

Of course, the reason I left was to become a Real Wildland firefighter in Ca. (really the cuts started in R-3, I bailed) Interesting bunch in the Helicopter shot, Maybe Ab could forward my E-mail address to You. Old friends are great to find! Thanks for the photo & logo of yesterdays gone bye.


08/06 Mellie,

Smoke in Five Waters? That's what ya get for not stopping by last time Mellie!


08/05 Firefighters, some THANKS coming your way.

I was eating lunch in the airport in Denver today on my way back from the Long Mesa fire at Mesa Verde. Was wearing my unit teeshirt and nomex pants, etc, when a guy came up and asked me if I had earned them (the clothes). I said, yeah, I guess I had, and he said "I just wanted to say thank for all the hard work you've done." and then he walked away. Now, I've spent the summer sitting on a steel folding chair (radio operator) and some time playing archaeology resource advisor and actually put out some sagebrush and a burning tree, so I didn't think I had earned his thanks. Then I realized he was thanking me for all the hard work the rest of YOU have been doing...so I figured I'd better pass it on to all of you who've been working harder than I have.

ya'll take care and stay safe...the dragon is out there, but we know what to do.


(and Mesa Verde is NOT all burned up, just mostly. the attractions are still ok, thanks to some hard work by hotshots, Type IIs and a buncha pink stuff-dropping aircraft)

08/05 Firepup-

I'll give you the whole skinny on DNR Camp Kitchens if you want, I'll ask my friendly neighborhood Ab to pass along my e-mail addy if you're that curious.

For everyone else, the reason they have stand-up tables is that it boils down to moving a large # of people through a small space in a short amount of time, and that chairs take up space that the mobile units just don't have.

I was at fire last year that originally had a contract kitchen on site, which failed to not only keep up with the demand, but also failed a health and a Labor and Industries electrical inspection. Their morning specialty was scrambled eggs with coconut and pineapple. yum-yum. (This contractor was an emergency hire, and was not then and is not now on the contract list.) A DNR kitchen arrived to help out. The first meal they served, someone in line behind me complained about having to stand to eat. I pointed out to that fella that he could always go eat at the other kitchen if he wanted to sit down. *grin*


08/05 Firepup91:

When I was with CDF, as a seasonal engine slug, we worked around the inmate crews. You had a small list of does and don't. One of the major don't is to ask them what they were in for. We could talk about the job, weather, sports and such but it was discouraged to get to friendly. As I remember we weren't supposed to give them anything but food and water, only if the asked. No making phone calls for them or mailing letters or stuff like that, and we weren't supposed to receive things for them such as mail or phone conversations and pass it along to them. Also if they did anything above this or asked us to break these rules we were suppose to report them to their Crew Capt. or the CDC officers.

Just one point of humor, on a fire in 1988 they had the women's crews come into camp, now that is a site unto itself. However you throw in about a dozen male inmate crews into the mix and you have a floor show that I have never experienced again. All the male crews were bedded down, or on the crew busses when the female crews came into camp to eat and sack out. The Calf. CDC makes very certain the two genders of inmate crews never contact each other but the looks, cat calls, strutting, and smell of hormones in the air was something to behold. The electricity was measurable and the CDC people let it go on for a few moments and then they settled the scene down, but what a show! I know that CDF used to run to female camps, one was Rainbow Camp (location unknown) and the other was Porto La Cruz, I think.

Yes, Firepup91, some of these folks look very mean and rough, both men and women! But for the most part they do a real good job. And on the other hand, the Capt. that run the crews are no pushovers either. One of the Capt. I had came out of the camps and man what a !@#%^&* he was, we got a taste of what it would be like on an inmate crew. AH, but that's a whole different set of tales, to be told at a later time.


08/05 Question:
In one of those rare moments when my husband and I are riding in the same vehicle, this weekend, we of course started talking fire.

The subject came up of......young new FF being able to say no if it is what they feel a matter of safety. How is this really accepted out on fires? Can they really be assured they will be no reprimand if they question the "boss"...or will they be 'in trouble for being a trouble maker"

Sammi has crossed over from familysaid with her question. Ab.
08/05 Article and reference to cannabis burning reminded me of an event some
years past.
Police were alerted to several bales of "square grouper" which had washed
up on the Oregon coast. This is the name given to bales of marijuana that
boat runners dump overboard if they see a Coast Guard vessel approaching.
Anyhow, the police decided to burn the waterlogged bales in the firing
plant of a local mill that used wood waste products for fuel. Apparently
the smoke plume was magnificent, but several flocks of migrating terns
happened to fly through the smoke. A number of birds subsequently crashed
on the beaches where they stumbled about, unable to fly. Animal rights
people called in the F&WS biologists who took blood samples and figured out
the cause.

Yup.....no tern was left unstoned.


08/05 Time out for important geek babble.

Thanks, bb. That works for the R5 FAM main page. Instead of http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/fire/ or http://www.fire.r5.fs.fed.us, you make it

But it doesn't work for the links within that R5 fire web that are for north ops, for example: http://www.fire.r5.fs.fed.us/nops.php cannot be reached by going to However, hopefully once you enter R5 FAM, you'll be able to navigate around to the linked Intelligence and Information pages from there. You can get to the current incidents by using the small lefthand menu that names them-- or by finding them via their forests and entering the numbers as outlined in bb's post.

I am not having trouble with the links for Intel and Info from the R5 FAM page now, but that may be because the system is not in what I call its "glitch mode". In the past, sometimes I have had problems and sometimes not. That's the frustrating part, that you never knew what would work.

Time will tell if entering thru will consistently work for finding north and south ops sit reports.

PC, Danny, Todd, FireWolf and others, maybe you could try these different routes from your home computer and see if they work. It would be nice if we could consistently get in that way - and once in navigate the rest of the R5 fire website. Good info there.

Ab, thanks for updating the links page to the new R5 FAM url with numbers. How about the "sit report by GACCs" page for those wanting news from North and South Ops? Hmmmmmmm.

bb, thanks again! All in the service of getting a new and updated Forest Service web.


I modified the links page and also the sit reports by GACCS (under news on the links page). Everybody, good teamwork. Ab.

08/05 Dear Ab,

It's been a long season already, and it is maybe only 1/2 over for our crew. We have just been running 14's and haven't had a station day since May, other than coming home for refurbishing. Not that I am complaining.

Anyway, about inmates: Great they are cheaper, and don't steal too many FF jobs. About Washington's DNR inmate crews: Yes they do most of the camp work and are decent cooks, but what's up with the standing dining area? The last thing I want to do after 16 hours of work is stand up to eat my dinner. As far as California's inmate crews, they seem to look more "hardened" for lack of a better term. Seeing some guy that is 6' 5" and 275 lbs. is intimidating enough for some people, then add the fact that the person is a criminal and no one knows or has the guts to ask "so what are you in for?" and God forbid you call these poor souls Cons.

Also what about the cases of harassment and worse involving inmates? I have personally seen cases where either male or female inmate crews have harassed female members of crews that I have been on. While appropriate actions were taken, it left a sour taste in my mouth, that isn't easy to wash out.

I am not sure of the validity or the fire name, but I heard a rumor earlier this season about a fire camp where there was a rape and a stabbing. I couldn't say whether inmate crews were involved or not but there is no place in the outside world for that behavior let alone fire camp.

Anyway got to go enjoy my R&R. Thanks AB for all the great work, hope all is well.


08/05 To SoCalFF,

I will try to clarify as I suppose that it has been awhile since any logging has been done down in God's Country (Orange County).

First of all I live on the dry side of the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest, So burning cannibus production is not usually a problem here. Besides smoking is bad for one's health.

With regard to my third sentence, timber companies need an incentive to wade into the morass of redtape in order to even consider cutting in a National Forest. With today's global wood prices, hauling pecker poles hundreds of miles to a processor just doesn't pay the bills. Timber companies may make a profit if they can take a number of large (Some would say old growth) trees from every acre of pecker poles. The more big trees (punkins) taken, the more worth while the timber sale is to the timber company. If the government agrees in the timber sale prospectus that it will sweeten the deal by cleaning up the logging slash (as opposed to the timber company footing the bill) then this may entice the timber company to bid on the marginal timber sale.

I don't see the big old trees as the problem, it's the overcrowded pecker poles (and new housing tracts) that are causing most of the problems.


08/05 Mellie & others:

The R5 web sites and servers are in working order..........nothing is wrong
with them. The problem lies with changes that the Department of
Agriculture made to the USDA DNS (domain name server). Our traffic runs
through the USDA network. The regional IRM folks are working with USDA to
try to get this resolved......see the message below that R5 IRM put out
about a week ago...........as far as R5 Fire is concerned, this situation
is pretty much out of our control to fix. Here's what IRM says:

During the past week, we have received calls about our Region 5 Webserver's
availability. We are working closely with the Washington Office in rectifying this
problem and believe we are close to getting the Department of Agriculture to
make the necessary changes to the USDA Domain Name Server to solve the

Having said this, I'm going to attempt to give everyone the simplest instructions
I can so that we can get our customers access to our National Forest's public
web pages. Here goes:

Tell the caller to go to their address line on the web browser and type in: (example forest name) instead of www.r5.fs.fed.us/Plumas
(NOTE: do not type in "www" before the 166). This should bring them immediately
into whatever forest they typed in.

Now you must explain that in order for them to navigate successfully through that
website, tell them to put their cursor over the link they want to go to next and then
look down in the lower left hand corner for the complete address. They will need to
again go to the address line and type in Replace
www.r5.fs.fed.us with (plus the rest of the address--example:

Stay tuned, keep trying...........bb

Good instructions. They worked for me. Perhaps tonight one of the Abs can try changing the urls for R5 sites on the links page. Then we shouldn't have trouble with people getting on the R5 fire web from here. In the meantime, PC and others who have had problems, please see if this works for you. Ab.
08/05 We're having quite a season in Alaska. Several fires over 100,000 acres are burning.


Fairbanks Fred

08/05 Here's one proposal that is raising concerns in California among CDFers, Fed FF, and some of the public. Barbara Boxer's bid for re-election in 2004?... Any comments?



08/05 G'day Ab,
This is my first time on this board. I have been reading it for a while, good
I know us aussies create a little controversy here from time to time but
here goes.....

I response to William Puller, yes there is such a thing as pyro cumulus. We
often get this phenomenon in Western Australia. It makes for some great
I may be corrected but here it usually happens when there is enough heat
energy to break through an inversion layer.
The smoke and moisture cools rapidly and creates very active cumulus cloud
formations not dissimilar to active thunderstorm cells. It has a lot to do
with Dry adiabatic lapse rates and saturated adaibatic lapse rates (DALR's
and SALR's).

I am sure your local meteorological people will be only too happy to explain
it further.

Keep up the good work,

Welcome to theysaid, joebloggs. Ab.
08/05 Firescribe, Yes people are still having trouble with the R5 pages.

I have a workaround by sneaking in the backdoor by using a proxy masker.

Very frustrating not being able to easily get the info for my sister-in-law
when my brother is out on a fire.

I do know people are trying to get the pages fixed though.
08/04 Hamid,
I don't quite get what you're saying, even if I OOOMMMMMMMM on it. Are you in the Oregon fires? I read an article on Ab's FireNews page there are Cannibis plantations going up in smoke. When you come down a little maybe you can explain yourself more completely, specially your third sentence.
Here's the article:
...Oregon wildfires burning illegal marijuana crop...

SoCal FF

08/04 Ab, The other day I was watching TV and they were doing a story on the fires
in Oregon, the reporter was telling the viewers how bad the fire was and said
"behind me you can see the Pyro-Cumulus clouds." I have never heard of a
Pyro-Cumulus cloud, is this someing new or was the reporting just making up a
new name for big clouds near a fire?

Thank you

William Puller.
08/04 I agree with DAZ that thinning is part of the answer and that
environmentalists can often be part of the problem.

However another big part of the problem is that often the "Little Stuff"
isn't worth the diesel fuel and labor that it costs to get it out of the
woods ...

Now throw in those big punkins that usually survive fires and have the
piss-fir willies pay for cleaning up the slash and you have got yourself a

It's like old Joe Weyerhauser says - we wouldn't have a problem in our
forests if it weren't for the trees.

Hamid Desertdweller
08/04 Hey Ab(s),

meko9----Here is the pricing you wanted for inmate crews, these rates are
2002 Washington State rates.
Crew Foreman (Permanent State Emp)  $3100 salary/mo (roughly DOE)
Adult/Juvenile inmate crew              3.60/hr per inmate
DOC officer                            20.83/hr
DOC Sergeant                           22.99/hr
DOC Lieutenant                         34.15/hr
DSHS Employees                         19.37--27.32 depending on position
Now to educate you to the benefits---Have you ever worked with an inmate crew?? How do you think most of our fire meals get cooked? (in WA at least) And also how many of you have ever worked at the fire in Ordering or at Expanded dispatch or a GACC?? If you have, then you would know that inmates are not the "priority" as you seem to think, just to get cheap labor. Resources get requested, resources get ordered. Inmates DO NOT take any jobs away from the law abiding public, there are plenty of fire jobs to go around. Suck it up, quit whining and get qualified for something more than just a hand crew, like a previous writer mentioned. Inmate crews do Damn good work I know because I have 3 inmate crews that I handle everyday as a dispatcher, and I have worked on the line with them, had them serve me many meals. They are DAMN good cooks. So YOUR solution is to take that "cheap" labor away by replacing it with high priced meal vendors, and more expensive civilian crews-which will always be around. Gee that would only send the cost of a $10 million dollar fire, to around $ 15 million (appx) in one fell swoop. I am sure all those law abiding citizens would love to pay more taxes and such, just so you could have "YOUR" job on the fire doing what YOU love. I see you have put alot of thought into your solution, and makes alot of sense. (NOT) PS they also do all the jobs the law abiding citizens WON'T do, like pick up litter on the side of the highway, that all those law abiding free citizens throw out the window, fuel reduction programs, etc. I sure we'll all agree to pay more taxes so all the "free" people could go and pick up the trash. Hope you get a chance to work with a crew one day- to see you really don't know what you are talking about. Thanks everyone, keep your heads up and have a safe happy fire season!! radiogirl :)
08/04 I'm still having trouble with the R5 web and viewing the R5 fire websites. The CDF Pines Fire website is doing well. They have some nice photos. Did C... ever get back into our region to try to fix the R5 web? Seems that would be a priority.

"Plume dominated fire behavior" on the SW Oregon fires has those of us to their south eating smoke. Firehorse, can't you keep your Florence and Sour Biscuit smoke in your neck-o-the-woods! Five Waters on the western side of the Trinity Alps is currently socked in as thick as it got on the Big Bar Complex when fire was on the ridge above us. I have heard that the coast - Humboldt Bay - is smoky and that the Reggae on the River folks in Southern Humboldt near Garborville have much more to smoke than they bargained for!


08/04 SITL,

As a soil scientist who did some rehab work as a SCEP
last summer, I really appreciate your shout out to the
BAER teams. They do very important work and it's nice
that other people see that. My dream is to someday get
back with a govt. agency and do that type of work. I'm
one of those strange people who is fascinated by the
effects fire has on soil.

08/04 meko 9

i tell ya what, if you can prove that inmate crews make up the majority of all wildland fire fighters, i will agree to your comments. we really are just a small portion of ff that make up the big picture. cdf probably has the biggest number of inmate crews. so run your numbers and get back to me. there are far more important topics than this to let this pissing match continue.

BC Davis

08/04 Hey Ab,
Due to a death in the family I returned early from another trip west.
One of our assignments had been on the Big Elk Fire, which had suffered an
aircrash with 2 fatalities. This recent deluge of firefighter losses along
with the personal loss has lead me to write this post.

I was reading up on all the posting I have missed and realized that some of
the messages are hostile, angry and downright juvenile.
I want to implore those reading to win arguments with logical fact based
assertions. It makes me think of what I taught my son about cursing...
it is a sign of ignorance. If you have a valid point it will make itself if
you let it. Antagonizing someone who doesn't agree with you won't convince
Abe Lincoln (i think) said" I may not agree with the next man's opinion but
I will defend to the death his right to have it."

OK changing soapboxes for a second.....
Inmates..... We complain if they sit and watch cable tv "put them to
work" we say ....
You know ultimately whatever we have them do will deprive a "free citizen"
of work. It was a free man dipping honey from the fire camp I was in.
Even there were we to force inmates to clean stalls there would be someone
displaced. Lets use them where it: l. helps society or 2. gives them self-esteem.
Hasn't there been enough fire to go around?

Besides, I am not at all convinced that anyone has sat home because there
was a "cheep-labor" crew to be had.
I imagine that decisions on ordering crews are based on other criteria.
We sat out on two assignments recently because we were not self-sufficient.
(We didn't have our own bus...)
If you are sitting home be proactive. Instead of fuming about the
inequities of life go get additional schooling that will allow you to be
more marketable. Are you redcarded for anything besides a hand-crew?
Be a heli-slug, or heck a div-sup over several inmate crew teams....

Thanks for hearing me out.... If I made you mad, sorry. If I made you

Be careful out there and when its all said and done come south and share a
beer on the beach......

Flash in Florida
08/04 Ab,

I am still having major problems. And advising my old grandmother and grandpa, or trying to when I'm home between assignments. Smokier than all getout here on the northcoast today.

With all the fires burning in R5, we need the info more than ever, both the fire crews and the public. I wonder if there is any way to transfer the R5 site to the main FS internet to get rid of the glitches. Is it really some problem with a security program? If it is as random as it appears, how do you fix it?


08/04 For me whenever I encounter that problem {not opening} I simply keep pressing the OK bar for the error message that connection w/server could not be established, then select NCCC/SCCC or Sit report for either.

It just took me 5 tries but it opened.

@ times this internet thang takes a great deal of patience.

08/04 DAS,
No disrespect intended to your profession or your love for the industry.
Having worked in the same fields as you including, BAER teams, NEPA
writing/editing (including ARCview faculities), prevention, aviation and
fire I have come to understand one thing about the direction politicians
take a good idea. The mitigation and implementation of any forest
management plan will come to benefit someone besides the taxpayer and
firefighters praying for a solution to these catastrophic wildfires that
devastate homes and end lives. With the influx of money from the Clinton
Administration and new money most definitely on the way from the Bush
Admin., corruption and backroom deals.

meko 9
I think you might be onto something but you forgot inmate law enforcement
trainees. That would probably save a lot of money and prevent all the hype
about police brutality.

08/04 Ab,

I think you put up this link from the Sequoia National Forest before, but it shows visually what the potential for management with thinning. This is not clearcutting the forest.


Here are two more old photos that were taken 90 years apart from the very same location. They show what the sequoias looked like there in 1890 before the removal of fire from the environment and in 1970 after fire suppression practices had been in place. These photos are large in size and take a little bit to load, but good to illustrate the argument for thinning.


The point is that crown fires can kill the sequoias and make sterile the soils of other forests that undergo catastrophic fire. We can't just let fire "do its thing". We need to reduce fuels in the forests.

Tahoe Terrie

08/04 Just saw an advertisement for the air tanker/ love story movie "Always" will be on the AMC channel either Monday or Tuesday (as they say check your local listings). I kind of remember someone mentioning the movie recently in some post, so I thought I would give it a bump.

B.C. Davis, thanks for thinking about me. I will be in Nevada this week and I will try to get info while I'm there. If I slip up, I look you up. Thanks again.

Ab, all the Abs out there and all the rest of the visitors, thanks for the good content, thoughtful in/out put and the rest. I really enjoy the site and the information. Be careful so every one can go home to their family and friends.


08/04 CUZ,

Please do not misunderstand my last note. I am not in any way advocating "turning lose anyone who can cut down a tree on our national forest forests". What I am saying is we need to manage our forests. R5's forest management program has almost completely stopped. The Sierra Club's stated goal (in print) is to stop all "logging" on National Forests. That approach is not practical and not one that indicates a willingness to discuss the issues and come up with solutions. We have thinned thousands of acres "from below" (taking the smaller competing trees and leaving the larger) on my district. This removes fuel ladders as well as competition between trees. The thinned areas survived fires while the unthinned did not. Thinning is not a "half cocked plan". I, too, do not advocate "half cocked" management of our forests. I also do not advocate full scale "plowing ahead". That was one of my points. In my last post, I mentioned how long it takes to complete NEPA documents and that it will take years/decades to accomplish this goal. Massive vegetation manipulation, even if authorized, can not be accomplished quickly. Mills, loggers and truckers are no longer there to accomplish a large scale increase in commercial harvesting. A limited number of contractors are available to accomplish other forms of vegetation management. It will take decades to accomplish this task.

My point was that it was encouraging to see that support for responsible forest management appears to be growing and that if our forests are to survive, we need to practice responsible forest management. My comment about the Sierra Club spokesperson was that conditions are not the same as 100 years ago. Fires can not be permitted to burn across the landscape as they once did for many reasons. Firefighter and public safety being but one of them. Forest management is more than letting fires burn or putting them out.

Having extensive experience in both resource management and firefighting, I would never advocate anything that would "belittle" the memories of fallen firefighters. Practicing reasonable forest management can help protect our forests and reverse the effects of 90 plus years of fire suppression.

Ab, thanks for the opportunity to present various points of view on this site.


08/04 From Firescribe:

A number of helo photos taken on the Shelly Fire which is now 100% contained.


If you can't get onto the R5 website via this link, consider entering through the Fires 2002 site, link at the top of theysaid. (Are people still having problems?)

08/04 Hi Abs,

I see that the topic of forest management and its relationship to fire
and other conservation issues has come up. Good! For those who
want to learn more, Patrick Moore has an excellent web site:

Start your reading with "About Greenspirit". I think you'll be surprised.
Then move to "Key Environmental Issues". There's a ton of good
information on the Greenspirit site. It's worth bookmarking for
future reference.

On another topic, I'd like to offer a tip of the hat to the BAER teams
that are working so hard to minimize the secondary damage to our
resources that follows on the heels of wild fire. The hydrologists, soil
scientists, foresters, and wildlife biologists on the BAER teams and the
crews that work with them are doing important work that almost never
gets press coverage. Although some of the BAER projects are documented
and can be located through the Rocky Mountain Research Station or the
USFS web sites, it's not always easy to find. I wish they'd create a
BAER Sit Rep that was updated regularly so we could all see how much
impact they have during the season.


Someone sent in a link to Greenspirit some time ago. Worthwhile reading. Ab.
08/03 The question of inmates is not one of if they work or not. I know that
some do. The part that is wrong is that they take jobs from those of us
who need and want to be out there fighting fire or whatever else our
choice may be. Since not one of you seem to know how much they really cost
and you think that they are cheap and it's their way of repaying their
debt to society I have a great idea that would save vast amounts of

First, since inmates flying aircraft would be out of the question, get
rid of all non supervisory fire personnel on the ground,
hotshots, catering, type 2's, engine crews, dispatch and even clerical. Of
course they would be replaced with inmates, all IC's and other
supervisors will be training inmate replacements or taking correction
officer classes because the whole idea would be to replace the forest
service and state agency personnel because they also cost an enormous
amount of money. Just think of all the money the taxpayers would save. Of
course unemployment would rise, new housing would take a big hit,
companies who provide fire equipment would fold because prisoners could
build it cheaper. Wow think of the opportunity that would create for
those poor misguided inmates who are imprisoned because their parents
didn't hug them enough.

I wonder what you would think of them if you could not do the job you
love because inmates would take priority. I bet the love affair would end.
Come on people, it is necessary for them to repay their debt to society
but not at the expense of the law-abiding citizen. I know you guys love
what you do but you are also suckling off the cash cow we call fire.

08/03 hey L.A.V.E. , have you considered coming over to the dark side? nevada that is. ndf doesnt freak out about age. not sure if you were looking to be one of those lazy engines types ( just kidding kids !!!!!! ) or if you were looking to run a crew. if interested have ab ( happy b-day bro ! ) give you my email addy and i will check stuff out for ya.
BC Davis
08/03 DAS

I dont think that curbing firefighter fatalities is as simple as ignoring
injunctions by conservationist groups and plowing ahead with a fire
management plan that isnt researched and ready for implementation (one that
will make everyone happy). "Responsible Forest Management" is something
that will not be easily agreed upon and I believe that it is critical that
many groups including your dreaded "Sierra Club" should be included.
Simply because agreement is the only thing that will keep the judicial
system out of the fray. I too mourn for the families of the firefighters
that have died battling conflagrant blazes in the west this summer but lets
not belittle their memories by attributing it all to quickly implementing a
half cocked plan. I cant imagine anything more devastating than turning
lose anyone who can cut down a tree on our national forests because we dont
have the foresight to carefully research and implement a decent fire
management plan. It reminds me of the decree given out west in the 1920's
to eradicate the wolves because cattle needed lots of room to graze.

08/03 Here is a fine description (and photos) of the memorial service at Happy Camp base camp last Monday evening for Steve, Heather and John. It was written by Marilyn Townsend, a resident.

The memorial service for the three near their Lassen home forest takes place at 10 this morning. Please take a moment of silence in their memory.

Both of the surviving firefighers of the accident, Alex Glover and Ryan Smith, have been released from the hospital and are at home recuperating. Our thoughts are with them also.

08/03 As Firescribe noted "some sense at last". It is encouraging to note that at least thirteen senators, including Senator Feinstein, realize that "cleaning out underbrush, and thinning trees..." needs to be done to deal with the "23 million acres of federal land constituting a 'vast, dry tinderbox...." if we are to begin to make headway in our battle to save our forests.

However, I do not understand the logic for proposing only an 18 month period, beginning next summer, to accomplish these goals. It took 100 years to get the west into the situation it is in. The problem can not be solved in 18 months. 18 months would be a good start--but only a start. Just preparing environmental documentation required under NEPA can take 1 year, if all the specialist areas are readily available to provide input and all goes well. Preparing and awarding contracts, be they commercial timber removal or service, can take another 6 months or more. 18 months is a starting point.

Responsible forest management, including responsible use of prescribed fire, is the only method by which any real headway will be made. I hope that whatever plan is proposed by these Senators does not bring with it the expectation that 18 months will do the trick.

Environmentalists, such as Chad Hansen mentioned in the article, claim that this is a ploy for "extracting timber and not about reducing the fire risk." How many firefighters must die, how many homes lost, how many billions of dollars spent, and how many millions of acres of fire ravaged forests must there be before people such as the Sierra Club's Sean Cosgrove cease making statements like "the public must come to recognize fire as a natural way that forests are renewed"? Fires of today are far more intense than those of 100 years ago. Mr. Hansen and Mr. Cosgrove are terribly misinformed. If forests in California and the west are to survive, responsible forest management must become a priority.


08/03 The Jobs Page, and the wildland firefighter series 462 and 455 were updated last night. The Ely Field Office and the Nevada State Office of the BLM are looking for folks. Ab.
08/02 Ab,

I finally found a couple of photos from 1976, when I was a member of the now-defunct Catalina Hotshots, on the Coronado NF.

The first photo, hotshotheli, was at the beginning of the season when our Nomex pants shipment hadn't yet arrived. The photo was taken at the Sollers Point Helitack base, near the Santa Catalina Ranger Station. I hear the helibase is also now closed.

Photo #2, helicrash, was taken shortly after a Gazelle plowed into the trees. No one was hurt, and while our crew was "guarding" the helicopter until the feds arrived, one of the guys decided to have his photo taken. Note the trees directly behind the blades, chopped off like a lawnmower.

I've also included a scan of our logo patch.


Thanks, I put them on Crew5, Heli8, and Logo5 photo pages. Ab.

08/02 Ab,
Happy Birthday, if a little late.

I heard that personnel were ordered off the line on the Pine Fire in SoCal, on information from the fire behavior specialist, on Friday. Sounds like we are learning that it is better to give up acreage over lifes.

More Calif OES Engine (structure protection?) Strike Teams have been ordered up to supplement equipment and personnel already there.

FYI..Some California Firefighters and Police Officers are bicycling to NY to show their support for those lost on September 11. The are braving the Mojave Desert and temperatures of 115 degrees plus on I-40, heading into Arizona, 8-3-02. They have a website: www.patriotdaybiketour.org if anyone wants to keep track of them. They would probably appreciate a wave or honk from passing personnel.


08/02 Since many who read this site seem to be confused about the CA fire workforce employment scene, maybe I can shed some light:

* to be hired as a State of California employee, it is necessary to meet the minimum requirements for the classification and take/pass testing (except for limited term emergency hires) before you can be hired. sometimes the testing process is only an oral interview, other times it is a written test, or both.
* without a state budget, few vendors will be paid for services rendered until the annual state budget has been legislatively blessed.
* someone mentioned PERS (CalPERS); it is a retirement program for state and some local government employees; only some local government entities participate - more are being added every year.
* workman's compensation coverage for all CA State employees is via State Compensation Instance Fund (SCIF); not all local agencies use this method of on-the-job injury insurance.
* to date there is no cross over between the hiring or retirement practices between CA state and federal government (gotta check my facts about that).

If anyone has questions about the CA State hiring practices, I suggest they look at the spb.ca.gov or dpa.ca.gov websites. For CA folks service retirement information, look at calpers.ca.gov.

Ab, I hope this clarifies some folks misconceptions.

08/02 Fired Up,

Your post, in my opinion, is completely ridiculous. We have a GS-9 position open on our Forest right now. It is true this is the 6th or 7th time this position has been flown. There have been six people who have accepted the job, but once they come out to the area, they turn around and reject the position because the cost of living is too expensive.

It's ridiculous to say positions are not being filled because color of their skin or their gender is not right. Here's a fact. Out of the 37 management positions on our Forest, 5 are minorities and32 of those positions are WHITE MALE.

You say, "Stop discriminating against WHITE MALES." -- Give me a break.

Thanks for the great web page.....


08/02 Happy birthday O.A.! That's ICS for Original Ab! You have provided a balance
between the agencies represented here by keeping things as fair as possible.
I check the page on my days off and always find something here to make me think.
You are second to none! Bravo Zulu to you my friend!

Captain Emmett
08/02 Ab, Happy Birthday! I hope you have many more.

I would like to express my sorrow in regards to the firefighters and pilots
who and be lost in the line of duty recently and my condolences to their
families and friends. We all in the fire service feel your loss.

I have been lurking quit a while on the hiring issue. I have tried to get
into CDF or local fire departments in Northern California for a while, when
I hit forty I gave up. I guess God wants me to be a vollie and do something
else for a real job. I wish I would have thought about the Forest Service
earlier maybe .... As my mom once told me, " if is the biggest word in the
English language."

Anyway, here is just a thought, what about those who have a retirement
under their belt such as PERS ( Public Employee's Retirement System) and
want to become a U.S. gov. firefighter type why can't the two retirements
but smushed together some how? And what about the folks who retire from,
say the military, they may have tons of needed skills and have a retirement
already, do these folks also miss out? I'm not sure that the retirement
thing isn't such an obstacle if the agencies really need the type and
quality of people they say they do. I don't know, I'm on the outside
looking in.

For my tax dollar I would like to see a single agency that takes care of
firefighting, I have a gut feeling that it would do great things. I feel
that anyone who fights fire, seasonal, full time, professional or volunteer,
wildland or structure, deserves to be recognized for their service and
devotion to duty. It's hard dirty work and they should be recognized for
their work and be called what they are, FIREFIGHTERS! However, all the
other agencies involved would howl like a coyote caught is a trap, you would
be downsizing their Kingdoms! (that's my two cents! {it's probably worth
less than that})

Keep safe, too many have died already this year, take that extra second to be

08/02 Original Ab,

You Will have a happy birthday! This site is the greatest thing since cold
Beer. Keep up the good work.

I understand and feel your loss. This is not what we look forward to when
we get up in the morning and pull on our boots. It will never be the same
for those of us left. Peace be with you my friend.

08/02 From Firescribe:

Senators band together behind forest fire plan

"The senators -- 12 Republicans plus Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. -- identified
23 million acres of federal land constituting a "vast, dry tinderbox" that
could ignite at the careless drop of a match. The 23 million acres are
scattered among the 50 states but concentrated in a few. California has 7
million acres, including the entire Sierra Nevada range, the Lake Tahoe
area, the Plumas National Forest and the Lassen and Sequoia National

Some sense at last. The catastrophic fire that I have seen this summer - massive fire that made the soil sterile, left not one legacy tree alive for miles and destroyed habitat that was home to rare and endangered species - indicates to me that we need to try something different than our current impasse.

08/02 Hey Fired Up-

How much experience do you have with the programs you slammed as "WHITE MEN NEED NOT APPLY"?

I am a STEP/SCEP hire (and granted I am female- but for my position 4 out of 5 of the applicants (not a fire position) were women). I have seen people who have been temps, seasonals, and fresh college grads brought in as PFEs under this program. I have seen white males, white females, and some minorities hired. Out of the 6 SCEPS I personally know hired into resources positions- 5 of us opted to get red carded and support fire in our various areas. This is a valuable program for our agencies and I pray narrow minded people like you don't tarnish the image of such a valuable program.

I guess I am lucky for I really haven't met any managers that hire for statistics rather than quality.

Watch how you slam a program for we are your future managers- don't insinuate we were hired as statistics.


p.s. Yes, you hit a nerve- I have had a few people tell me I was hired b/c I was a female. That's just good 'ol boy bull....

08/02 SNS,
I live in Yreka, CA and the coverage on this accident has been good in the local paper via the information by the KNF SO. Lassen NF Engine 11 was a 4x4 Model 61. A picture of the engine is on the LNF page linked below on an earlier post. It shows the engine with Smokey and some kids at a park in Westwood.

It has been reported that the point the engine went off the road was 11 feet wide. It was 2:10 am and lots of smoke due to burn out operations they were supporting. Earlier reports said the engine plunged 800 feet. Sheriff Search and Rescue used GPS to map the scene and came up with approximately 1200 feet point to point. Instead of rolling, the engine went end over end, eventually separating both axles, motor and transmission. The picture of the engine in this weeks Pioneer Press was vivid. How on earth those two survived that wreck was a miracle. Other than the green paint, you would not recognize it to be anything other than a twisted ball of metal. I'm not sure if the Pioneer Press is on line but I believe so. The article showed pictures and a topo map giving pertinent locations.

My heart goes out to those who have lost and to those who have survived.


Here's the Lassen NF website photo of Engine 11 crew and their engine. The photo site is apparently still under construction. Also Memorial Services News Release. Ab.

08/02 Firenwater,
How many of these GS-9 and above positions you speak of have been classified as Primary Fire Positions? Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't believe that there are very many of our positions at the GS-9 or above level that are classified as Primary positions. The secondary positions should fit these "timber beasts" very well. Are these "timber beasts" going to give up their GS-9,11,12 jobs to be a crew supervisor? How many are willing to move to new locations? There may be a few, but my guess is that the bulk of them will not move or give up full time employment for a 13-13 or 18-8.

As for the graduated or reduced retirement benefits, does anyone remember the story of the Park Service seasonal employee from back east who retired after 30 or 40 years of service? I remember a huge outcry in the media that this person was not covered by our retirement system. I'll bet this would be the case if our system did that to someone working in primary fire position also. Failing to provide adequate retirement for our employees will bring a whole new set of issues down the road.

The Work Capacity Test is simply designed to measure a persons ability to perform at a specific level of exertion for a specific period of time. There are three levels to this test for just the reason you state. The test should be and is commensurate with the type of position and physical exertion required for a given job on the fireline, not just what the persons job title is. The Work Capacity Test certainly measures one's capability to drag hose, carry hose packs, perform in a sustained line dig, etc. Did the step test do that? No. Did the 1.5 mile run do that? No. I have seen people that could easily pass both of these but not be able to keep up on a hike into a fire or burn themselves out in the first 2 hours of a shift digging line. Would you want one of these people with you when you have to RTO and get to a Safety Zone?

Do smokejumpers, who are required to pack a 110 lb. pack over three miles of typical terrain in 90 minutes always pack their gear out after a fire? No, much of the time their gear is slung out by helicopter. Is this test capable of showing a persons endurance? Yes. Does it give us an idea of a persons ability to deal with things in adverse conditions? Yes. Should this test be required for smokejumpers? Absolutely.

Does the Work Capacity Test keep those who are unfit or who have preexisting medical conditions from fighting fire? Yes. Should employees be required to see a doctor for a thorough physical before beginning a workout regimen to prepare for taking the test? Yes.

No test is one hundred percent reliable or capable of showing everything an employee can do. There will always be people who are not up to it, whatever that test happens to be.

Fired Up,
I have talked with my personnel folks on your specific issue several times. It is my responsibility as a supervisor to hire the most qualified person I can find without regards to sex, race, color, religion, size of shoe, shape of the head, or status in any "target group". If 2 people show up on a list, one male, and one female or minority, and both are equally qualified there may well be pressure to hire the minority. Am I losing anything because of that? Not if both persons are equally qualified.

And just so you don't think I am anti white male, I have hired 3 white males in the last 6 months in 18-8 type positions. All three jobs had women or minorities scoring towards the top of the list. All I had to do to get this through the EEO folks was to justify why I selected the way I did. This was done by highlighting the strengths of the person selected and what they could bring to the program, not the weaknesses of the ones I did not want to hire.......

I do agree with you on the single wildland fire agency. But why not take it a step further: How about a single federal land management agency?


08/02 Wanted to wish Ole Ab a Happy Birthday from his gal pals in <snip>.
Now Get To Work!!!

Your Gals
08/02 Happy birthday to Original Ab. You've given us so much, wish there
was a token of our appreciation we could send you.

This site does indeed present a much needed forum for all members of the
wildland fire family to communicate their opinions, questions, concerns.
Like any family, some are tentative, some more forceful......but I believe
all are sincere in their passion for the work. While there is obviously a
wide spectrum of opinion, and sometimes gross mis-statements are
made.....where else does such an opportunity to converse exist?
Thanks again, Ab. Hope you have a great birthday, with many more to come.

Old Fire Guy

Thanks Old Fire Guy for the perspective. As usual, a good message to restore the balance. Thank YOU for your contributions here over the years. We don't know your birthdate, but we would be saying a "happy birthday" and some would be saying "we love you" if we did. If the Abs seem a little testy these days, it is because in addition to monitoring the site, we're all dealing with the deaths of our friends ---and somehow other negatives presented here in a negative way just seem like Bullsh... Ab.
08/02 A lot of FF's are wondering what is happening to the system.

Can you say:

Consent Decree.....Affirmative Action.....Upward Mobility....Fast Track
Strategic Workforce Diversity Plan....SCEP Programs....etc

Firenwater states: "My experience is that in the last year many forests in
CA have had limited response to GS-9 and above vacancy advertisements. Some
have readvertised as many as 7 times with no luck. And this has nothing to
do with desirability or location of the jobs".

A lot of fire jobs go unfilled for the following reasons: They what Women
and Minorities in those positions, they don't care if they have the fire
experience or not. Put them on a fire for a week and all of a sudden they
are highly qualified for the jobs....That is why you see announcements flown
over and over again...The government needs to put on the announcements,
WHITE MEN NEED NOT APPLY. Let's be honest here folks..sorry if the truth

We have many women and minorities that have earned their way to the top and
deserve it. Let's start hiring the most qualified applicants instead of
their targeted groups.

Stop discriminating against the FF's that have been on the lines for years
and truly have the experience that the agencies need to fight wildland fires
safely and aggressively.

Fired Up

Thanks AB for letting me express the feelings of a lot of FF's.
Happy Birthday, Original Ab!
Thanks so much for starting this forum.
We love you.


08/02 I was in communication with air attack flying the pine fire! It is now 14
miles long burning actively through the night! Also heard the fire was
started by a military aircraft flying drug raids and struck a powerline. It
was 70 acres on the initial size-up! Keep your heads up and in the game!

R-6 FIREHAWG on standby
08/02 An-R5er,
18 years firefighting...3 years self employed serious investor and now I am an ANALYST? Sheesh. Look... I have a friend that works for CBS. She calls me to see what I think. I like her so I tell her. She gets a firefighters' (maybe ex-firefighters') point of view and I learn stuff about New York, Washington, and big time media I would not have dreamed up. When I don't have an opinion cause I don't know enough to form one I look for the information I need. One of the places I look is HERE cause it is the best place I know of to get information and other firefighters' informed, often passionate, opinions. You should be proud to be a firefighter...I was...Still am! Nothing I said previously was meant to be an insult. If you took it that way I apologize.

Hadn't considered that angle as a reason that there is a shortage of overhead. I agree that the pack test makes perfect sense for folks whose jobs are very physical...and perfect nonsense for those whose duties are not.

OK...I tried to start that discussion before. Why NOT a single wildland fire agency?

Do you want to weigh in on that one?


My comments as Editor: You are a good writer but have an insulting style of writing that detracts from your message. If you would or could put yourself in the reader's place to evaluate your message before you hit the send button, you might have better success in having your message received in a thoughtful way. It's easier to spew out negatives than to create a well-informed message that questions, educates or persuades. You don't need a bullwhip with this fire community when a hand on our shoulder would do. Ab.
08/01 Regarding the rollover:
I was wondering what type of engine, make and model was involved and if a high center of gravity played a part in the wreck? Is it something we should all be wary of? I dont get much Internet news. So my questions may have been covered already.

Let us never forget, all of them!
08/01 Dear AB:

I have never cried as much as I have this week as our entire community is feeling the loss of the firefighters here in Almanor. I attended John Self's celebration of Life last night and the cries that came from those who love him will burn within my heart and soul forever. It is never easy for us to say goodbye to one of our own as a Forest Service family member, but I could not ever fathom what his mom is going through burying her own child. My heartfelt sympathies to the families of all 3 of the fallen firefighters. I have attended a few Forest Service funerals, but it was the first time I attended one where they died in the Line of Duty.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Alex who survived that crash, what a great kid. I do hope that he gets all of the counseling and help that he needs to get through this. The two firefighters who were left behind that week, are troopers and my heart goes out to the entire Lassen National Forest as we near the day we gather for this purpose again --this Saturday.

Just in case anybody needs to know, there will be a Memorial for Steve Oustead at 10am, Saturday August 3rd at the Westwood Community Park. There will be a potluck following. These deaths have taken their toll on the entire community of our area. All of the agencies for fire are very much a part of our lives, whether some of the people realize it or not.



08/01 Well, I have to get into the fray again.......In regards to the slight
tempest that is swirling around the retirement age and the rest of it:

You must not do much hiring of mid-level jobs. My experience is that in
the last year many forests in CA have had limited response to GS-9 and
above vacancy advertisements. Some have readvertised as many as 7 times
with no luck. And this has nothing to do with desirability or location of
the jobs. Yes there is a lot of movement going on at the lower levels but
the effects of the experience gap in those who are retiring and those who
are not there to fill in behind is quite evident. Why limit our options by
an exclusionary retirement policy? Sure there may not be many folks that
can apply from the outside at that level but even if there is only one with
the right quals it would be worth it. AND, I personally know of several
over 37ers that could qualify and do well in primary fire jobs if I could
hire them. AND don't forget the retirement policy also excludes hiring
people INSIDE the agency who worked in timber or recreation or some other
dept but have tons of fire experience. Why eliminate those folks from
consideration just because they got their fire experience while under a
non-fire position description? Why is it such a bad thing to consider a
reduced or graduated fire retirement for those folks that choose to have it
that way? We gotta give ourselves all the options we can in this
competitive hiring day and age. But of course that would mean actually
giving up our "it's always been done that way and if they don't like it
they can get a job somewhere else" attitude. Kind of a tough shift in
thinking for some folks......

I have to admit I was somewhat insulted by your harsh comments several
posts ago concerning the National Fire plan. But I came back after your
last post with the comments about the "efficiency of multiple
bureaucracies" and the "wasteful and dangerous" feeding frenzy at the MEL
$$$ trough. You also said "For God's sake, most fedfire agencies don't
even recognize experienced firefighters as professionals". Your comments
were about as true as they could be. Maybe the media ought to ask the
question as to why we have so many different agencies with firefighters
that aren't recognized as such except when they retire. Maybe the media
could help us explore the idea of a single fire agency.

See my response to R5er above. Don't you know any timber beasts that would
make a great crew sup if they could get past the MEA rules? I do.

And now I return to herding the bumble bees and praying they have enough
tools and direction to stay safe when they are away from the nest, chasing
the fire beast. Rest when you can. There's plenty of season left to
worry about.


08/01 The Meat,

I have to agree with you that an old trailer should receive the same respect, and attempt at saving as the mansion. However, Red Army's Wife is correct in saying that they are "material". They are simply another fuel. Now I feel sorry for these folks at the end of the day, but a firefighter needs to be able to view these homes as just this, a fuel. Now I am the first to admit that I might push the envelope a little for a home, just as I would a life. That is me making the decision, though. But knowing where that line is is important. Remember the discussion over the VFD chief in Colorado. He saw these homes as worth dying for. Not only are trees and homes not worth dying for, quite frankly they are not worth injury. We see many post in these boards about inexperienced crews (supervisors, etc.) there is where the potential risk is associated; inexperience + bravado = injury or death. I saw the MAFFS crews getting all worked up on the Hamen Fire because of all of the houses that were threatened. Why? Should they fly any differently, drop lower or higher? Cut corners? No, absoluteley not. See the above equation. Someone else pointed out that we should be considered "interface firefighters". I have to agree. Probably 85 percent of what I do anymore is structure protection, and I'm in the aviation business, but the rules of engagement must (should) remain the same as if there were nothing but trees out there. Sure push it A LITTLE at times, that's human (firefighter) nature, but know the limits, and think of houses (single-wide's and Malibu Mansions) as a fuel.


What were those initials anyway? Ab.

08/01 Mellie has some good points about fuel loading and the need for mitigation.
In a perfect world this would be implemented without delay and without
bureaucracy repackaging the whole thing under the guise of the fire plan
but in direct monetary benefit to the logging companies that are eagerly
awaiting a chance to use this directive to increase their profit margin.

I know this sounds liberal but most riders that have come through congress
regarding anything to do with the Nat'l Forests has been twisted to meet
corporate interests alone, leaving the general public confused. "Land of
No Uses" is what happens when PACS are the primary focus of land managers.
What can be mined, logged, stripped and grazed becomes the first and
foremost concern of those implementing a plan on public land. Do I think
that we can develop a plan that reduces fuel loading and treats the
national forests impartially? NO. Why? Because anyone can see that
politicians will use this to kill two birds with one stone: Implement the
Fire Plan and make a dollar. Its foolproof.

08/01 Since I haven’t seen anything posted about it yet I thought I would pass on some information about services for Heather DePaolo-Johnny. (From her obituary in the Buffalo News today)

Family will be present on Friday 5-9 PM at the (Amherst Chapel) AMIGONE FUNERAL HOME, INC., 5200 Sheridan Drive (corner of Hopkins Road). A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday at St. Joseph's Church (University Heights), 3269 Main Street, Buffalo, New York at 10 AM. Friends invited. Flowers gratefully declined. If desired, donations may be made to the Wildland Fire Fighters Foundation, 1310 Vista Ave., No. 22, Boise, ID 83705, (208) 336-2996, e-mail: vcikim@aol.com or the Heifer International Foundation, 1202 Main St., Suite 203, Little Rock, AR 72202

Heather was a very good friend of mine and I am going to miss her very much. She was a wonderful friend and firefighter. I'm quite sure that we were supposed to drink a few more martinis and fight a lot more fires together but I guess I'll just have to wait.


Sad... We grieve with you and her family. These deaths hit close to home. We will not forget them. Ab.

08/01 If ever there was a wake up call that we need to reduce fuel loading in our forests and on the interface, this summer's fire season is it!

Today in Oregon alone, some 13,000 firefighters are battling more than 15 major wildfires burning more than 423,000 acres. Lots of people -- 17,000 of them -- are poised to evacuate the southwestern Oregon Illinois Valley! Feels like Colorado and Arizona all over again.

Will the citizens of this great United States of America wake up? For every one dollar spent ahead of time in prevention and management activities described in the National Fire Plan, we save seven dollars that would be spent in a summer of catastrophic fire like this one. And that doesn't begin to address tourism dollars lost, production lost and rehab dollars spent. Shaded fuel breaks and other kinds of fuel reduction work! We need to begin strategically on the areas that need it most, not on areas that are easiest to reach.

I know I'm speaking to the choir here, but this is how I see it -- and this is just a start:

  • As many have said, homeowners need to take responsibility. They need to clear vegetation and ladder fuels out from around their homes, use fire-resistant roofing, clear around propane tanks, and make sure there is more than one way in and out of their neighborhoods -- generally make their homes and interface communities Firesafe. (NIFC pointers and FireWise website) In addition, they need to be willing to leave if asked to when the fire draws near, so as not to endanger our firefighters who sometimes go beyond the call of duty.
  • Congress and the Judicial Branch need to help reduce the bureaucratic blocks that keep us from getting on with the National Fire plan.
    • We need a reduction on our National Forests of the huge pile of paperwork and the frivolous lawsuits over every little project that looks like it might cut or burn something. The pile of paperwork has gotten deeper and wider over the years. If the Public hasn't looked at the figures lately, the Forests have not cut many trees for quite a while, but many of the Public suffer under the illusion that the Forest Service is still in danger of raping the land. It's not.
    • We need to treat fuels, including clearing out some small diameter trees. This is not clearcut logging, but prudent thinning.
    • We need multi-year funding for prescribed fire. It is frustrating to have a weather window that allows for prescribed burn but then oops, it's October 1st and the money is cut off. Our best time to burn happens when the rains come. Timeframes need some flexibility. Why can't there be multiple year targets and multiple-year funding, as there is with mechanical brush disposal.

Just a few thoughts.
I admire you federal fire guys and gals who have hung in there with the crazy political situation you deal with --along with your wildland firefighting jobs. You are my heroes... If the Public only knew...


08/01 Well, I've been reading all of the posts for some time and there's one thing that I can't figure out... Seems that there were more, (at least 50) although still not enough experienced, trained and highly qualified overhead fire personnel, up till about 2 years ago... when the physical ability test was changed to the Pack Test (Work Capacity Test)... anybody agree with this?

This may be a good test and all, for the young newbies, especially those that may be in line for permanent positions... but not for the experienced, older career management folks...

Ya' know... time on your jobs does take its toll over time...

Some do's and don'ts advice to those who have trouble for whatever reasons in not being able to take or pass this test: Do Not take a medical out, Never Admit you're disabled, if there weren't any problems with your qualifications prior to the implementation of the P.T., especially if you had qualifications that you no longer have now, because of failure to being able to take or pass the P.T. Let your employer claim that you're disabled and then watch them try to come up with why they think you are disabled. What does not being able to carry x amount of pounds, over a certain distance, in a certain amount of time really have to do with your "ACTUAL JOB DUTIES AND ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS"?

So here's the big, overhead question.... How many of you federal overhead folks are out there at fires now... carrying X amount of weight, over X amount of time, over X amount of distance now? NOT!!! Please, I hope no one reading this takes offense to this post. I wouldn't write it if I didn't care about my friends and co-workers out there, who've done nothing but dedicate their whole careers to the fire service for years... learning, getting experience and education, thinking they were working their way up, for years and years, just to get demoted to weed whacker man and garbage collector girl, at the district office, under the supervision of some 19 or so year old, just because they were unable to carry some weight on their backs, over a certain distance in a certain mount of time...

Seems funny that at least 50 people nation-wide were affected by the New P.T. and now the government is importing at least 50 people? something's definitely WRONG here...
Take care all...
08/01 Hey Firefighters,

Got any pointers for the wife of a new firefighter who wants to welcome her husband home from his first long term assignment? Any of you give her insight for what it's like when you come home burned out, dirty, etc? Check FamilySaid.

Jobs page and Series 462 and 455 were updated. Still have a few more photos to post. Thanks again to Firehorse for his pic of the current situation on the Florence Fire.

Status report on the site: We've had over 160,000 unique viewers per month for the last two months. Exponential rise in readers. Just a few months ago we were crowing when we hit 100,000 unique viewers for the first time. You all must be discussing us in firecamp or something.

Again, we ask that when you need supplies, boots and gear, please go to our Classifieds Links Page and use the products and services of those who support our theysaid community. We appreciate their support. When ordering something, let them know you heard about it here.


08/01 Fireronin,

After reading both of your posts from the past couple of days I couldn't agree more with what Ab had to say.

In my view you are completely wrong. On my Forest we are filling in behind people who have retired with people who have more than 10 years experience. I see the same thing on alot of Forests, there are alot of quality and experienced people out there who are (in some cases) finally being promoted to management positions.

In my opinion, if the media has questions about the Wildland Fire community and how it works, they should be asking the people who do the job for a living, rather than an ANALYST.

Media lurkers, ask away. I will be more than happy to answer your questions. There are quality and experienced people who read and write in to this forum who will answer your questions also.

I am proud to be a Wildland Firefighter with the government. I see the potential and the build up of some of the best firefighters this job has to offer for along time to come.


PS. On another note: here's a story of someone who avoided disaster. Pilot keeps cool, coaxes failing bird beyond fire crew

And here's more info on Gordon Knight our fallen helicopter pilot. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday.


08/01 Here's a picture of the Florence fire taken from Illinois Valley high school last Sunday night during the town meeting. The Sour Biscuit fire has burned 8 miles into California as of 7/31.


Impressive column, Firehorse. I put it on the Fire 12 photo page. Ab.

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