September, 2002

Home of the Wildland FireFighter

SUBJECT    (Previous Archive: Aug-02) Return to Archives Page
09/30 More on contract crew/engine controversy from Alex Pulaski of the Oregonian:

State Tightens Fire Crew Enforcement

Oregon suspended 10 wildfire crews this summer for conduct ranging from
falling asleep on the fire line to peddling drugs to allowing a fire to burn out
of control by responding nearly eight hours late.

State forestry officials stepped up enforcement for the first time this year,
spurred by industry pressure and reports in The Oregonian that showed
oversight of training and safety regulations ranged from haphazard to


This article is making the intranet rounds. Provocative. Comments Readers? Ab.

09/30 Hey Ab,

Let's hear it for Joe Wood, FMO on the Plumas and IC of CIIMT3.


We all appreciate what you've done for the Agency. Your good work
will be GREATLY MISSED. Wow, it's hard to believe you won't be

Tahoe Terrie

PS. Thanks for having the guts to call it like it is.

HEAR, HEAR. We will miss your expertise, Joe. Your retirement is a loss for all of us. Ab.

09/30 From Firescribe: 

We get blamed for fighting fire safely. And by the way, why can't we remove those dead trees any faster, either?


09/30 Pike Hotshots are having a reunion in October. Information about the crew and the reunion can be found at:


09/30 Collapsing Plumes:

A fire does not have to be very powerful to suffer a collapse. I've had it happen in Rx fire situations where I didn't have enough fuel to torch to sustain an in-draft of air while firing the perimeter. It makes "controlled burns" exciting some days. Firefighters who do not observe the column/plume while enroute or at fires are losing valuable information for their safety evaluation. Lookouts have to be savvy enough to read the signs, not just someone left behind to satisfy the rule book.


09/30 HI CDF Mike.

I have a story about the coriolis effect and also a thought for you to ponder.

I have never been south of the equator, but I have heard all the "myths": relating to water draining clockwise vs counterclockwise. About 4 years ago, my crew got into an argument with a Municipal FD Engineer while making hose packs. This Engineer, (who has been a city firefighter his entire career) was actually yelling at 3 ex CDF and 1 ex USFS employee about how we were making a huge mistake and spinning our Cleveland Packs backwards and how the coriolis effect was going to cause them to knot up into a pile of spaghetti when we charged them. He was adamant until we spun up two packs and charged them. Its always funny to watch someone eat crow. (for those of you who have never tried this, the two packs will charge just fine)

Anyways, If there is no actual coriolis effect, then why do Hurricanes and Typhoons spin in opposite directions?

Be safe out there and stay heads up for round two of the fire season....Santa ana's are on the way.

XR5 Hotshot

Ans: The Coriolis effect is caused by the earth's rotation and is apparent in large scale phenomena. Ab.

09/29 Help for Aussie CFU:

As someone that was in AussieCFU’s neighbourhood dragging hoses on New Years Day, I’d be strongly suggesting that his immediate focus needs to be on getting the residents of his area to ensure their property is ready for fire, should it happen again. That area was the most unprepared I’ve seen & the complacency (even with fires going for a week already) of “it’s not going to happen here” was obvious. For the amount of money that has to be paid in property values there the place was an absolute mess, demonstrated by the attitude of one resident deciding to clean up his yard of fuel & then dumped it in the middle of the main access route for emergency vehicles forcing them to move in to oncoming traffic to avoid the hazard.

Managing fire risk is about prevention, the cure of wet stuff on red stuff is the last resort. Community Fire Units should be the driving force of prevention, as when the memory of Black Xmas fades, people won’t be so committed to the idea of training in dragging hoses thru the bush and become more self-centred, at least they’ll remember the basics of keeping their home tidy.

If you’re still wanting to formalise command structures, work with the tried & true 1 to 5 span of control. NSW OHS regs dictate 1 first aider per 20 staff members. Remember if the same thing happens there again, like last time there will be numerous fire vehicles with first aid kits & ambulances are always dispatched to firegrounds such as yours or staging points on standby. There were 3 or 4 there on New Years Day.

If NSWFB Bushfire/Rescue won’t give you answers, your other local resource can be newsgroup alt.services.emergency or Hornsby/Ku Ring Gai Rural Fire Service.


This is the “whiteboard” of the current fires in New South Wales, Australia. Just remember the “Tankers” figures are your “Engines”.
09/29 "Almost New CDF Wife" (which part is almost new?) wondered about predicted Sacto weather. From <<FWFSTO
930 AM PDT SUN SEP 29 2002>>

Here it is:

0930 SUN SEP 29 2002



So, yeah, looks like the Santa Ana season is upon us... I place a lot more credence in predicted Santa Ana winds than I do in thunderstorm forecasts. Seems that during September October November December and January every time a front goes through, it is followed by an offshore (East wind) event within one or two days. This holds true for most of the southern two-thirds of California.

CDF Mike

New CDF Wife, you can find these fire weather reports by going to our links  page under weather. The first link is to the NICC National Weather Service National Fire Weather page. Ab.
09/29 Aussie CFU, research shows that the optimal span of control is 1 to 5.

Is every property ready for the next potential firestorm? Prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Good luck.
Tahoe Terrie
09/29 There was a helicopter crash at Bishop this morning on take off. All passengers are fine, walked
away. The helicopter is totaled. Fly safe and be safe.

Aircraft dispatch
09/29 RE: the hunter walks south riddle.

That old riddle has been around a long time, and the correct answer is:

Insufficient information to determine the color of the bear. There are an
infinite number of locations on Earth where that scenario can occur, and
they are not all at the North Pole. So the next riddle is where else other
than the North Pole can that occur? (hint -- how long are the lines of
latitude that encircle the globe?)

09/28 Good to see theysaid is back up, Ab.
Couple of random questions. I'm still learning.

Is it true that Santa Anas are expected in the Sacramento area early next week?

Are the Hot Shots trying to change the crew typing now by introducing four types of crews:
Hot Shots and Type 1, 2 & 3?

Almost new CDF wife
09/28 confused: remember its easier to return equipment/resources than to order

09/28 CDF Mike,

Ahhh now you have ruined another of those urban myths about the Coriolis
effect. It was sooo much fun to show all of the Northerners how we are
different down under.

Actually, everybody, CDF Mike has it all wrong and what I said was correct,
Come down under and I will prove it to you.

As to the Magnetic north pole explanation, I bow to superior knowledge. I
suppose that is what I get from trying to remember my high school physics
and Boy Scout training.

Now for a serious question to all the theysaid readers. For a 15 person
volunteer team, what sort of command structure would you suggest? What
positions should there be i.e. equipment officer, team leader, 2IC, squad
leaders, 1st Aider, etc. Which positions can and /or should be cross
trained? How do you identify these on a fire ground?

I really need some feedback on this one as I have gotten little response
from the NSWFB so far.

Aussie CFU
09/27 Hello All,

Back up and running. Our ISP had a problem today as anyone who logged on is aware. Regular maintenance, my A$$!

Glad all is now back to normal. Thanks for the encouragement behind the scenes.

The Jobs page and Series 462 and 455 are updated.


09/27 "Aussie CFU" made some interesting observations about the Earth's magnetism and the Coriolis effect. His full post is below my sig. I should mention that "I am not a scientist, but I play one on TV" : )

"Aussie" is correct in stating that, south of the equator, the North arrow does NOT point toward the South Pole. However, to the best of my knowledge, neither of the Earth's poles is notably stronger than the other. A compass' red (North) arrow will point toward the magnetic North Pole when south of the equator because it is magnetized to point to the North pole. And a magnetic compass will begin to swing wildly when at EITHER pole simply because the "pole" is not a non-dimensional point, but a somewhat diffuse area of probably several thousand square miles. In addition, the magnetic lines of force have a vertical component there (they are pointing down toward the surface of the Earth, instead of almost entirely horizontal elsewhere), so a compass held horizontally will have less accuracy.

In the context of this discussion, the following old riddle probably won't be too difficult to solve. A hunter walks 100 paces due south. Then 100 paces due east. Then 100 paces due north and finds himself exactly where he started. He shoots a bear. What color is the bear?

Unfortunately, Aussie is mistaken about sinks and such draining in different directions in the different hemispheres. Despite "common knowledge" to the contrary, there is absolutely NO truth to that. The Coriolis effect is far too weak to operate over such tiny distances. Water will drain in either direction in either hemisphere, depending upon primarily 1) initial condition of rotation (any small rotational velocity in the body of water will most likely be retained once the plug is pulled) and 2) physical characteristics of the vessel in question (if the vessel is non-symmetric to even a small degree, the shape can effect the eventual direction of rotation). Check it out. I believe it is in equatorial Africa, and probably other places, where enterprising individuals earn some tourist-trade money by supposedly demonstrating the effect that Aussie proposes, by first standing a few feet to one side of the supposed "equator" and showing water draining from a tub in one direction, and then stepping a few feet to the opposite side and demonstrating the opposite rotation. This is a trick, and the difference in rotational direction is due entirely to the individual subtly swirling the water in the desired direction prior to pulling the plug. It's not what you don't know that'll get ya, it's what you do know that isn't true.

Other than the Williams fire, and a few lesser ones, California has had an oddly quiet September......

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande

09/26 Ab,
Got a call last night to prepare for departure to the Williams Fire
this morning. At 7am as we were getting ready to head down, we get a call
saying that the resource order had been cancelled for the 10 engines. I
guess Reg. 5 doesn't want any help on this one. Why put in an order only to
cancel it twelve hours later, if there are so many residences threatened?
Could end up costing some people their homes. Any insight on this?

I can understand your confusion, but the answer is fairly simple: fire needs are changing. Fire activity and spread were lower last night. A marine layer had come in. It finally burned off about 1300. In addition, the fire is now expanding to the north, more into the Sheep Mtn. Wilderness, the Angeles NF. Few structures there. There was a heavy demob of Type 1 engines beginning this morning. Some of these engines are being replaced by smaller, lighter Type 3 engines with 4 wheel drive that are better able to maneuver on small steep roads and off road. Glad we have you guys to call on. Sorry you missed the party. Maybe next time. Ab.
09/26 Ray Lundby, Rural Fire Coordinator for the Eastern Land Office, MT Dept of
Natural Resources, died this afternoon from injuries he received when a tree
he was cutting in his yard Tuesday evening fell on him. He wasn't found
until Wednesday morning. He will be greatly missed.

09/26 Lo, All been a great summer. On our way to the Williams fire in Irwindale. Looks to be a rager. Passed a couple of strike teams headed the same way. Hope everyone is safe, its not over yet.

Eric PW
09/26 One of our R5 Type 1 Team ICs is retiring at the end of the month
because of concerns that he and his family will be at risk if someone
under his command makes a mistake or has an accident that results in
injury or death.

As a result of the Thirtymile Fire deaths, the Forest Service has
shifted the majority of the responsibility to ICs and FMOs - which puts
them in a vulnerable liability position if an accident does occur. It's
unlikely they can guarantee 100% compliance with all the rules being
followed by every individual under them and still do their jobs.

A fire like the Williams Fire - that is staffed by more than 2700
personnel today, demonstrates extreme fire conditions, and involves
interface homes - makes me wonder how any IC continues to function. It is
impossible for the IC to be aware of everyone's activities and adherence
to the ballooning set of regulations. According to some lawyers, the
wording of Thirtymile Hazard Abatement Plan puts him and other ICs
like him at risk of loosing all they have if something terrible happens
under his watch.

This is a sorry state of affairs. For years we have been hearing about
personal accountability at the Division Chiefs Meetings. Abandonment by
the FS is not what we had in mind. The ICs I know are willing to accept
reasonable responsibility. It comes with the territory. They also expect
reasonable support, which seems to be lacking.

It is inevitable that something BAD will happen under some IC's or FMO's
watch simply because fighting fire with many involved is a risky
business at best. Kent Connaughten spoke at the last Division Chiefs
Meeting, having been on the investigative team for 30-mi. If I recall
correctly, he made the sad observation that deaths on wildfire will
happen again because all the circumstances surrounding fighting wildland
fire cannot be mitigated.

Unfortunately, unless several lawyers who have reviewed the wording in
the Thirtymile Hazard Abatement Plan are wrong in their assessment of
ICs having great liability risk, I can see other ICs retiring when we need
them most - and still other firefighters declining to work their way up
into the highest IC positions.

NorCal Tom
09/26 Here is an opportunity for fire and resource people to
come together to get a better understanding of sudden
oak disease in California. www.suddenoakdeath.org/

This problem has gained attention at the national
level with the National Invasive Species Council and
agencies. A biological wildfire out of control.

09/26 Pulaski, re Does the compass point south in the southern hemisphere?

Good question for those who haven't been south of the equator or astride it.
Short answer is no.
My basic understanding is that the magnetic north pole is far more powerful
than the south pole to the extent that even when standing at the magnetic
south pole the compass will still point north. Of course the closer you get
to the magnetic south pole the compass starts to act like it is at the north
pole and just spins around as it within the magnetic field and all
directions are in fact north.

One interesting fact is that whirlpools spin in the opposite direction in
the southern hemisphere than to the direction of the ones in the northern
hemisphere. So if you are ever kidnapped and spend time unconscious and what
to figure out which hemisphere you are in (flights of fantasy here, sounds
like something out of an action movie). Just fill a sink with water and let
it drain out. If the whirlpool spins clockwise then you are in the southern

On a slightly more serious note we currently have 27 fires burning in NSW
with the Kempsey district (Mid north coast of NSW) the worst affected.

Aussie CFU
09/26 Plume Collapse:


Good description, a bit o'science, nice photos.


09/25 Hey Ab -

Mossback hit it right on with the column collapse description;
it's rare and when it occurs it often prompts a shelter deployment scenario
for those at the base. That's one reason for practicing deployments in
gusty conditions. It ain't fun, can be somewhat frustrating - but it does
happen. Saw this a lot over the Siskiyous and Cascades where the marine
push brings in cooler and moist air. Also occurs with brush site
conversions with heavy fuel loads and a rapid ignition source (aka 300
tons/acre of tan oak and several 1,000' stringers of primacord - you can
put a column up damn fast under those conditions.) -- good description

Now northern California and Southern Oregon are having sudden oak disease.
We will see sites with that heavy a fuel load in the future. Fortunately,
Biscuit created one hell of a fuel break between Gasquet and Agness!
People need to know this fire behavior stuff - it's deadly ---

09/25 Regarding the R5 web pages.
They aren't fixed yet. Every so often I try to get there through the web
address, but no go. I've just about given up completely and just use the
'hack-a-round' I have.

What good is it to redo the security on a website when all it accomplishes is
to keep out those just looking for info on the fires their loved ones are

My FS contacts and one hacker friend, not any of the nice people trying to
help from TheySaid...LOL... have been letting me in on some of what is going
on, but they don't want me to post here what they have found except that,
yes, it has to do with the security settings. They don't want to be caught I

Someone has really dropped the ball on this one though.
09/25 Mellie:

I have never seen one, but I believe in theory a collapsing plume (convection column) would basically behave
like a thunderstorm. That is, heat would push the smoke column higher and higher. Eventually, the top would
begin to cool. As it cooled it would become denser and heavier. At some point it would become heavy enough
to "fall". On the ground, the collapse could create sudden, intense wind outflow in all directions, much like
upending a bucket of water at head height and watching it hit the floor. I have experienced thunderstorms
creating sudden and intense wind outflow and it is not a fun thing to deal with on a wildfire.

Anyway, that is a simplified version of my understanding. Maybe some whitecoats i.e. scientists, etc. can give
you a better explanation. At any rate, I expect this phenomenon is relatively rare.

09/25 >From the words of our resident FBA

As hot air (and smoke) rises, it cools; at some point that cooling air
becomes heavier and begins to fall back to the earth. This can cause
downdrafts producing erratic fire behavior.

OK, this just came up in random conversation today when working on an
orienteering course project.

In the southern hemisphere, does the needle on your compass point south??
....and if it does, I wonder what the heck happens if you are standing on
the equator...

09/25 One report I heard said that there was a "collapsing plume" on the Williams Fire. I know this is related to extreme and erratic fire behavior, but exactly what happens?


Ab, please add this to my last post:
The reason I'm confused is that the way it was stated, it sounded like erratic fire behavior preceded the collapsing plume. After the speaker was done and gone, it seemed unlikely that winds coming in to lend themselves to the updraft could cause a huge column to collapse. Seems that the power of the rising column created by the fire would be too great to be altered to the extent of collapsing. Probably the speaker meant that the collapsing column resulted in erratic winds and fire behavior...

09/25 Got it from a very reliable source that the Bowl Fire on the Mt. Hood NF was originally named the Toilet Bowl Fire. Should be a great t-shirt.

09/25 Statistic from NIFC: Between January 1 and September 16, 2002, it is estimated that more than 92,000 structures including residences, commercial properties, and outbuildings have been saved by firefighting and all-risk management efforts.
09/25 The Jobs page and Series 462 and 455 were updated.

Remember in this time of continued fire activity that you can read the SIT Report in HTML by looking for it on our Links page and clicking on the second link. Choose the top archived National Sit Report. They still archive very early in the day.


09/24 More information from Mollie's Boy on the Aussie firefighter who died:

A VOLUNTEER firefighter was killed by a falling tree on Saturday night during a hazard reduction burn in the Blue Mountains. John Overton, 52, of Kanimbla Valley, suffered head injuries when a tree snapped 5m above the ground and struck him as it fell, police said.

He was among several firefighters trying to fell the burning tree near Lithgow. The Rural Fire Service said yesterday the crew was involved in securing the perimeter of the fire to prevent it breaking containment lines when the incident occurred.

"It's been a horrible decade for the Lithgow community," spokesman John Winter said. "It hit the local brigade extremely hard, particularly those who were there and witnessed the incident occurring, it's a very traumatic experience and it's felt right across the community. He died while trying to make the area safe and that represents the extent of commitment but it also represents the most horrible part of the tragedy in that he was working to try and avoid that very thing."

Overton is survived by a wife and several children, including a toddler.

RFS Commissioner Phil Koperberg said the tragedy had struck the family, local brigade and volunteers across the state. "The local community has been deeply shocked by the incident and the whole service is greatly saddened by the loss of a dedicated volunteer firefighter who was working to make his community safer," he said.

09/24 Writing about the WTC tragedy, Cocoon said "And here we see the real issue
that affects us and everyone else on an incident like that. Bottom line, could
it have been handled better? Could the response have been better organized and
therefore with more safety, more efficiency, etc. etc.? YES. Would a MAC group
in the NY area utilizing a combination of Area Command and Unified Command
strategies have possibly worked for the entire interagency response (with one
overall organization)? Absolutely. How do we get there, and is it possible?"

I have some recommended reading on this topic. The o-fish-ull McKinsey Report
on Increasing FDNY's Preparedness is online at:

The section on "Increase Operational Preparedness" has these recommendations:

To effectively prepare for fire and EMS incidents of all sizes, emergency
services organizations need well-defined systems and procedures that are
flexible and can be quickly expanded. We have seven major recommendations to
increase operational preparedness at the FDNY:
1) Expand the use of the Incident Command System (ICS) to provide a
foundation for responding to and managing any type of emergency.
2) Further develop the existing Fire Department Operations Center to support
the response to specific incidents and ensure that the Department’s mission
is accomplished citywide during major incidents.
3) Create Incident Management Teams, which are specialized highly trained
teams that use ICS principles to manage large or complex incidents.
4) Fully deploy a flexible recall procedure to allow FDNY to recall
specific off-duty personnel required to respond to an incident or maintain
citywide coverage.
5) Develop agreements with neighboring departments for fire operations
mutual aid, to augment FDNY’s resources when necessary.
6) Modify and enforce staging protocols to increase command and control,
and the capability to track personnel.
7) Expand capabilities to deal with hazardous materials incidents and
re-evaluate heavy rescue and marine capabilities.

Recommendations 1 and 3 are at the heart of the discussion here on They Said.
The McKinsey report discusses the strengths and utility of both ICS and IMTs.
The entire report is really interesting reading - there's a lot for all of us
to learn from in there. I expect that most of the recommendations will be
addressed by FDNY.

Now if I can pick a nit with Islander's message - those weren't "USFS" teams,
they were interagency teams. One of the teams that went to NYC had a State
Forestry employee as IC/team leader and a BLM deputy. Let's give credit where
credit is due.


Good nit picking. Also for the record, Steve Gage was the IC of CIIMT3 that went to the Pentagon. He stepped down this year to become the Chief of the Kern Co. Fire Department.

Let me add here that there are more Pentagon photos in our collection and if you haven't had a chance to read Elizabeth's Pentagon Journal, you can find it HERE. Ab.
09/24 From Firescribe:

Article from sfgate.com on the Croy Fire (Morgan Hill).

This morning report had it at 1,582 acres and 1,024 personnel.

The Current Fires 2002 page is updated with links to the Croy (CDF) site and the Williams (Angeles NF) site as well as to maps and photos. Ab.
09/24 Hi there...

Very interested to hear all of the FEMA dialogue... I picked out my
favorite quotes with my take on them, as I think this is a serious issue
for fire people to deal with. We are dealing with FEMA a lot, and with the
warning of "when not if" of another terrorist attack and plans to go to war
(sparking other attacks?), we will likely spend some quality time bonding
with FEMA in the future. Also, hurricanes are as we speak lurking in the

Here's the latest one from HELLitorch, saying "Every time inadequate grasp
of ICS has been identified as a closeout issue to FEMA they have agreed and
said they would work to fix it." Can't argue with that, but have they made
progress? Interesting that now they are mandated by Bush to implement a
"national incident management system"... will they be able to do it and
will it include ICS? What else will it include, and will it work? How
will they pull it off?

Also, EM said "As for whether FEMA knows or uses ICS, short answer is yes.
They actually mandate its use, and their training materials are much
better than NWCGs, IMHO. However, the depth of knowledge and implementation
varies widely." Two comments here... FEMA doesn't actually mandate its use
and can't, but they can recommend it to local/state/others to use as a
standard. However, they never have, officially. Second comment, I
wouldn't dare agree that FEMA's National Fire Academy has better training
on ICS than NWCG. Maybe better teaching methods as NWCG's are generally
very dry, but the level of complexity is simply not replicated at the
National Fire Academy (see below...).

Islander wrote my favorite and I think the most true... "ICS?...sort of,
but not really. They use organizational structures similar to ICS, and
they have adopted many features of ICS, but along the way, it got watered
down, mutated and ignored. FEMA has in theory 'adopted' ICS, but their
own National Fire Academy does not even teach it. They instead have for
many years used a bastardized version... The sad thing is that many of the
instructors (and most of the students) don't even know that it isn't the
same as ICS. What's missing: universal personnel qualifications, common
terminology, common operational procedures, common business management
procedures, common communications, common training curriculum".
That's the best I've ever heard it said.

Bottom line.... Islander wrote... "The USFS teams that were sent to New
York last year were listed as managing a small portion of the whole
response: that of receiving and distributing materials and equipment.
There were other response organizations as well, but from an outsider's
point of view, there did not seem to be one overall organization. FBI had
its own, NYPD had its own, FDNY had its own..." And here we see the real
issue that affects us and everyone else on an incident like that. Bottom
line, could it have been handled better? Could the response have been
better organized and therefore with more safety, more efficiency, etc.
YES. Would a MAC group in the NY area utilizing a combination of
Area Command and Unified Command strategies have possibly worked for the
entire interagency response (with one overall organization)? Absolutely.
How do we get there, and is it possible?

Good questions. For now, I'd like to say I'm going to just stick to
firefighting, although in reality I know we don't just fight fire.

09/24 Lost another good one

Jim Ashley, Division supervisor and air attack on Tom Suwyn's great basin incident
management team and full time BLM (Nevada) employee was killed in an ATV
accident last week.

A HUGE loss to the fire community.


Condolences. Ab.

09/24 Howdy all-

After months of trouble on the R5/CA web sites, the problem with
availability is rumored to be fixed, or well on its way. There is some
good stuff on the site, including the News & Notes page Ab linked below at
www.fire.r5.fs.fed.us/scsc/gaccintel/notes.phpl. Anyone still
having trouble getting to the site?

-- hoping for the best

Readers, the News and Notes page is good, right now especially for the Williams Fire. There's a link to an imaging site that has some maps of it if you're interested. Also visit the photo section. The fire is approaching San Dimas Lab and they're taking pictures. There were new ones yesterday and hopefully will be more today. Articles on the Fire News Page describe nighttime helo bucket work as the fire activity remained high. BE SAFE! Ab.
09/23 Season's not over in California. Here's a new one in southern Santa Clara Fire near Uvas Reservoir (CDF SCU)

CBS KPIX Buildings_Burn_in_Santa_Clara_County_Wildfire

ABC KGO Morgan_Hill_fire

09/23 I am trying to locate an order form to order clothing with the East Antelope Fire logo on them. Do you know where I can get this information?

Let me know. Thank you,
DC Penn
09/23 Here's a photo of the Williams Fire courtesy of San Dimas TDC, posted at the crack o' dawn on the South Ops -- News and Notes site.

Also photo at the UCLA towercam.

Check the News and Notes for stats and updates.


09/23 Badass fire on the Angeles NF near Glendora- called the Williams Fire.
Located in an area of heavy brush and nasty rough terrain off the East
Fork Road near Camp Williams. The header on that fire beats the band.
I'm probably 35 miles away and it's awesome. Bet they're throwing lots
of resources at it. At least I hope they are. Temps have been killer. A
real heat wave in the mid-95 to 100s range. Best go check my red bag.
Fire in CA knows no season that's for sure.


Check the Fire News page. AP has an article. Ab.

09/23 RC,
Thanks for the additional info on the Apple fire. Between yours and
Fireriver's comments my question is answered. My compliments to both of you
for bringing the information forward.
09/22 RC,



Ab has been assured that this is an acronym for an old term of endearment among crewmates.

09/22 MMW,

Bright's ORCA team is transitioning off the Tiller Complex tomorrow. I don't know about the status of McElwain's ORCA team.

Here's their website: www.fs.fed.us/r6/fremont/orca.

NorCal Tom

09/22 Anybody know where the Orca Team is?


09/22 Todd,

We've got a fire too, near Hoopa Reservation again. They say it started yesterday and the cause is being investigated. This morning it was 250 acres in heavy timber, steep terrain, and with limited access. Must be worse this afternoon as the smoke at Five Waters is much thicker. I'm just keeping fingers crossed. Our fire season can go on into November if we don't get the winter storm pattern.


09/22 Hey Ab,

We have had some cookin' last few days (90-100 degrees) and a fire called the Burns Fire just north of Laytonville CA. It's contained, but we must of had 650 personnel working it. It was so cool and damp last week it felt like fire was over for the season. It's not. I'm glad that NorCal was ready for another one.

Be safe.

09/22 Please add our San Bernardino Co. Fire logo to your collection. Appreciate the resources - great site! Mark,

The Vandenberg Hot Shots and the Vista Grande Hot Shots also sent in logos. Thanks all, I posted all three on the Logo 5 photo page.

Readers, I posted a nice column photo of the Biscuit Fire when it was called the "Oregon Fire". Put that on the Biscuit Fire photo page in the first slot. Unfortunately I deleted the e-mail with some others before getting the photographer's info. Photographer, could you please send it in again? Ab.

09/22 Here are some photos of Florida Interagency Crew#4 taken on July 4 at the Mustang Ridge Fire, Flaming Gorge UT, Ashley National Forest.


Thanks Bill, I put them on the Handcrew 6 and Equipment 4 Photo pages. You can see that one of the resources at risk was the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Ab.

09/22 It is with deep regret that I post this 1st Australian death of our season

"A volunteer firefighter was killed by a falling tree while patrolling a
routine hazard reduction burn near Lithgow overnight.

The firefighter, aged in his early 50s, was working with his local Rural
Fire Brigade to patrol and mop up a hazard reduction that was commenced on
Saturday morning at Kanimbla. At around 8.45pm on Saturday night, 21
September 2002, the man was struck by a large section of tree, fatally
injuring him.

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the tragedy and are
yet to release the identity of the man, who is survived by a wife and
several children."

With Condolences
Aussie CFU

Our condolences as well.
Ab Note: I snipped some of this report. If anyone would like to read the rest, e-mail and I'll send it.

09/21 I have worked with FEMA as part of an Incident Management Team nearly a
dozen times, in all parts of America on hurricanes, floods, oil spills,
earthquakes and the WTC. I agree with "Islander" that FEMA has adopted many
features of the Incident Command System, but along the way, it got watered
down, mutated and ignored. FEMA has said repeatedly that they have
wholeheartedly adopted ICS. This has not been my experience.

Every time inadequate grasp of ICS has been identified as a closeout issue
to FEMA they have agreed and said they would work to fix it. But time and
time again, FEMA managers who are in a position to establish how an IMT is
to be tasked have demonstrated little or no background in ICS.

ICS is not that difficult. For crying out loud, I-100 is a self-study
class. I'm convinced that the thing FEMA likes best about ICS are the
letters. Beyond that ? the similarities between ICS and FEMA's
implementation of ICS are few and far between.

09/21 Dear Donald,
As the Ab's say most of the wild land fire fighting is done by volunteers.
The professional services are mainly the State employed structural FF (I
have termed it this way for the sake of simplicity not to distinguish the
level of training, experience, professionalism etc. etc. etc. between the
two). Each state or territory has it's own wildland FF's that often cover
the smaller towns, villages for structural fires/vehicle accidents/natural
and unnatural disasters etc. and back up for the regional cities.
These are often called rural, country or bush fire
brigades/authorities/services. Most of these are volunteers but all of the
organisations have a core of full time paid employees but the ratio is
probably ??????? something like 1 employed to 50 - 75 vollies.
Additionally the National Parks and Wildlife Services, as well as the state
base equivalents also employ fulltime FF's. In some cases the local govt's
(often called councils i.e. Penrith City Council) do the same as they are
responsible for local reserves.
I think the structure goes something like:
National Parks/Forests
State Parks/Forests
Local Parks/Reserves
I don't know of a link page that shows either by state or territory the
local councils but there probably is one somewhere. (is there anybody from
Oz that reads this can you help? Jim? I know someone from down Bulli way
posts to the wildland fire sites here and elsewhere)
If you go the following link page it has alot of the Australian emergency
services web sites and from there you should be able to get some more ideas.

Two of the best job sites are (in my opinion)

Jobs don't come up that often but you never know??

Good luck and remember that there is always the Kiwis (New Zealanders).
Aussie CFU
09/20 Hello,
I am writing you this e-mail to find out if you can help me with any leads to finding any south of the equator firefighting opportunities for a wildland firefighter in the off season that we are approaching. Any help or links will be very much appreciated.  Austrailia is the main place we are looking at but, we would like to find out about any opportunities you might know about!!!! Please return my e-mail answer to dfp5150@yahoo.com. Thank you for any help.

Thanks again,

Most of the people who fight fire in Oz are volunteers. If you have any luck let us know. Ab.
09/20 Wed, May 8 with photo of column

This is the Rex Creek Fire that was near Lake Chelan in Washington. I
took the picture from a mountain ridge that was two ridges away from
the fire. This must have been from a blow up as the cloud billowed up
from a small cloud on the horizon to this massive column in just a few

The setting sun added to its color.


Nice one, I put it on Fire 13 Photo page. Ab.
09/20 Dear Ab,
We have received news that we have another fatality on the Santa Fe NF.
Richard E. Martinez died in a one engine accident on the Coyote Ranger
District, while servicing and maintaining a fire engine. He has left behind
a wife and 7 children, the youngest at age two. He has 22 years in fire
and was an Engine Supervisor. The family liaison is Francisco Sanchez,

Compassion Spreads Like Wildfire

Vicki Minor
Executive Director

Sad news. Be safe all. Ab.
09/20 To JW, More on Apple Fire IA:

I took over the Apple Fire as IAIC at about 1200 on Aug 16th (the day the fire started). The helicopters were dropping when I got there (the fire was reported at 1000). The fire blew up (actually the spots east of the main body blew up) at about 1430. At that time we reprioritized the bucket missions to the 'backside/westflank of the fire' and the 'river side' (north flank). The west flank was was along Panther Cr road and it spotted across several times that afternoon (that's another story). I told the RA on the radio early on that the "fire would be an emergency all afternoon" in regards to using the river. This was because of the fire's proximity to private land (structures) around the town of Dry Creek and the main Pacificorp's power lines for the North Umpqua Hydroelectric project.

We dipped out of the river till we shut down the helicopters down when they either timed out or were ineffective.


09/20 Dear All,
Thanks for the suggestions from Pulaski, Fireronin, Cheryl and Judd.
Aside from what has already been suggested, here are a few of my thoughts re additional equipment:

Team Equipment
List of all CFU members with assorted columns for checking members into and out of duty, times, active or inactive, on a break or whatever,
2 x bum pack 1st aid kits,
2 x 1:50,000 scale maps of area - laminated, (showing hydrants, SWS's, privately pumps, Fire trails, 1st aid station, any house that has special needs people i.e. aged, infirm, handicapped etc., any danger zones i.e. cliffs, power lines through bush, marshalling and evacuation routes, safety zones,
Foolscap size maps showing location locations of all hydrants, SWS's (Static Water Supply), Houses with their own pumps & hoses and First Aid station - laminated,
Foolscap map for each house show access routes to bush zones, propane tanks and SWS's - laminated,
All equipment marked with a combination of day glow colours, glow in the dark tape and reflective tape,
2 x hatchets,
4 x self standing road signs (reflective) with words to the effect "20 KPH speed limit Hoses across road",
1 x Stop/Go lollipop sign.
Spare safety vests for support members i.e. runners, 1st aiders, equipment officer, lookouts, liaison between professional services and CFU and local residents,
4 rolls of gaffer tape,
spare batteries,
Basic tool kit for pump,
B:E type fire extinguisher (to use on the pump in case it catches fire due to petrol spillages etc.),
2 x metal rakes,
2 x pruning saws,
1 x bush saw,
1 x branch lopper,
1 x folding table, 4 folding chairs and 1 x outdoor battery powered electric lantern for command post,
1 x Hacksaw,
1 x Bolt Cutters (Hhmmm size????)
1 x disposable camera,

Personal equipment
1 x Whistle,
3 x Glow sticks,
1 x Pocket torch (AA or volt type) plus spare batteries and globes (for emergency use),
small pack of assorted bandages/bandaids for everybody,
Chewing gum and some soft chew candy to keep the saliva flowing,
permanent markers and some 3" x 4" plastic cards (holes punched in each corner) to write messages on,
5-10 large cable ties,
mobile/cell phone (I am suggesting this due to most people in our area generally have one per adult and coverage is very good for our home ground)

Seeking clarification:
Canteen -
What type of canteen? metal or plastic? Hiker's or power walker's? Kept in one of those insulated packs? Does it matter if the canteen is metal but has a plastic cap?

Head Lamps -
single bulb vs. twin bulb, LED vs. incandescent or combination, fixed or focusable, batteries mounted on helmet or belt/webbing, standard or intrinsically safe,

Head Lamp vs. hand held lamp clamped on the helmet -
Any suggestions? Pros and cons???

Aussie CFU

09/20 To those inquiring: Krs, the Plumas Hotshot that was injured last year while on a wildfire started by an arsonist,
has a great website. He is quite a guy. click on : www.krstofer.org/top.php and you will be there. I encourage
all of you to check out his website. He is a very talented guy. He also has a link where you can sign or read his
guest book. Other areas of his website include jokes, and updates on his daily life.
09/20 BDF,
Krs is doing as well as can be expected, He is paralyzed from the
mid-chest down, but is back at college and able to drive a special van.
Check out his web site at http://krstofer.org

Plumas Capt.
09/19 Ab,

We're sitting around our shop and wondering how Krystofer, the Plumas Shot injured in Kentucky last fall, is doing. We've looked for his website and can't seem to locate it.


Anyone know? Ab.
09/19 Re Firescribe's post of the Washington Post's article "Fires in Montana...".

Any first year Forestry student should know that nature abhors a vacuum and will replace nothing with something where possible. Mt. St. Helens taught that to any interested observer.

The Chicago fire "rejuvenated" that city and after all these years it is also a "more interesting" place to drive through. I don't think many in Chicago would champion another such "rejuvenation". Ditto Yellowstone, et. al.

There must be a better way.
09/19 Re the fire near Rocklin is under the jurisdiction of Rocklin City and Loomis City (LRS, Dist 18, Placer Co.). CDF did a mutual aid response. Heavy response on the ground and airtankers overhead. I heard a number of structures burned including 4 houses. Last night the acreage was reported at 400. Haven't heard the update this morning.


09/19 Aussie CFU,

Pulaski had some great suggestions.

You may also wish to make certain that the fuel for your gas powered pump is no more than 3 months old. Sitting in a hot location can make petrol go bad fast and the last thing you want is your pump quitting when you need it the most. If the pump engine is a 2 cycle don't mix the oil with the gas till you need it. Mixed gas degrades in a matter of weeks. Drain the tank when you put the pump back in storage.

Communication is also key in firefighting. A set of those cheap 1 mile range 2 way radios would be better than nothing for coordinating your efforts. Better quality radios would be a plus. If nothing else you may want to invest in a "canned air horn" for your "leader" to have. A single long blast can be used to sound retreat, two blasts means spot fire, etc. It is cheap and much louder than yelling. It could save a house...or a life.

The dust and ash from a fire can put a firefighter out of action if it gets in their eyes, which it tends to do. That is why all are encouraged to wear goggles. In reality many choose not to. Those small squeeze bottles of sterile water about the size of your thumb are great for clearing ash/dust out of an eye and can not only quickly get a firefighter back in the game but may prevent serious eye damage in the long run. Cheap insurance to stick in your coverall pocket.

If you can get adapters to "Y" in common garden hoses to your 2" line it may be useful. Since (if I understand correctly) your focus will be urban interface firefighting you may be able to use garden hoses to supplement your existing hose lay. Although larger diameter fire hose would be best you might be surprised at how useful these can be in an interface situation and any "suburb" or housing development usually has quite a supply of garden hose to "grab and use" in a pinch.

Quickly moving a pump can be very awkward, especially over rough ground. A simple pole with straps or ropes that attach to the pump frame is cheap and useful. 2 people can easily sling the pole over their shoulders and quickly move the pump slung beneath without straining their back.

Simple packs to carry your hoses, connectors, and other equipment will help keep it all together and easy to move. Get large enough packs that you can "watermelon" the hose since you may not have time to roll it when you need to move. If possible "paint" your equipment packs a bright "dayglo" yellow or orange so they are easy to find. Combined with the sling pole two people can move the pump and quite a bit of hose simultaneously and still each have one hand free.

A bucket or pail may also be very useful if you need to draw water from a pond. By tying the pump intake hose in the bucket most of the mud or sand that might be picked up and sent through the pump to end up clogging nozzles later is avoided. A cylindrical screen with 1/4" openings around the intake end similarly helps prevent floating debris from being sucked up.

You can make your own neck shrouds pretty easily out of squares of light canvas/heavy muslin and a little Velcro. You may find that they are more useful for things other than protecting your neck.

If your nozzles and Ys are not brightly colored it may be useful to spray paint them a bright color so you can easily see them. They tend to get lost when you need them the most..and seeing the end of a hose lay from a distance can be useful as well.

A few rolls of flagging tape may also be useful. It can be used to mark where a water source is (to help the fire dept. when they show up) or to show the turn off to the location of the fire. Lot's of uses if you discuss it with your team beforehand.

Good luck in the upcoming fire season.

09/19 re: PNF dispatch vacancy,

After conferring with several personnel specialists over the last few days, the conclusion is. . . a secondary firefighting position can be filled with a person not qualifying for firefighting retirement. The specialists thought it may be an unusual situation wherein applicants without primary firefighting experience would be able to strongly compete with those having it, but agreed it very well possible. "After all", one of them said, "isn't wildland fire dispatching firefighting"? It would mean however, that if a person was selected who did not qualify for the secondary firefighting retirement that they would be ineligible to retire at 50 years of age. But, then again, they couldn't be kicked out at age 57 either!

My examples to the specialists were current gs-6 or 7 dispatchers from areas not requiring "on-the-ground" firefighting experience, or as mentioned here in another post, an all-risk 911 type dispatcher with several years of dispatching experience which included vegetation fires. After all, the vacancy was flown concurrently as a Demo position, which means that any and all may apply.

So, to one and all, the vacancy's still open!


09/19 It might interest CDF Mike to know that FEMA got their first introduction to ICS from the Region 8 overhead team during hurricane Andrew at Miami International Airport in 1992. I have often thought that if we hadn't done such a good job for them then we wouldn't be getting called on so much. At that time FEMA couldn't even buy a bag of ice. Our IMT was brought in to manage the Receiving and Distribution for all the Federal relief supplies. As FEMA learned we could do other things our role was expanded. R-8 has provided IMTs for hurricane relief, floods, and the Oklahoma City bombing. Just as in New York the IMT is not running the Operation they are there to support the incident. The locals are in charge. Therefore, I disagree with one previous statement. If your Fire Department, Police unit, or EMS unit are the first on the scene then you are the first line of defense.

As several other posts have mentioned FEMA serves as the coordinator for the Federal response. I have worked with them on a number of different training courses and they have monitored several classes on ICS. However, FEMA is not designed nor intended to come in an manage an incident. What they do bring to the table is a big checkbook and the ability to task Federal agencies to do work for an incident.


09/19 Anybody got details on the size and losses of the fire in the Sierra near Rocklin (CA)? s of hwy 80? Is it contained? Whose jurisdiction - CDF - local?


09/19 The person who they think started the fire that killed our Opal firefighter has been charged. I hope that people learn that starting fires can have deadly consequences. Minnesota is smaller for the loss of F/F David Martin. Here the AP story. www.zwire.com

09/18 From Firescribe:

Proposal for goats to nip fire fuels in the Sierra, CA:

Montana forests rise anew from gray ash:

09/18 Pulaski,

A witchs hat is what we call a traffic cone.

09/18 BLM Bob, My last message got edited, and ended up out of context. To try to put into context, I started out by making the point that there are times when the wildland fire community decides to embrace the overall "brotherhood" of fire and be one happy family. This happened quite a bit after the WTC fatalties.

For the corrected version, you can read below. Ab.
09/18 Hi Abs,

I'd like to expand on "EM"'s discussion of Incident Support Teams. (ISTs)

These teams fulfill a different role than an IMT. (Supposedly...) The FEMA
role is support of the local agency, thus the name "Support Team" rather
than "Management Team." The positions will look very familiar to anyone
with working ICS knowledge. Very, very familiar. Also keep in mind that
the ISTs work for ESF9, the Urban Search and Rescue portion of the FEMA
response system. There are quite a few other Emergency Support Functions,
run by different Federal agencies. USDA is in charge of firefighting,
Public Health Service health, DOT transportation, etc. Many of the other
disciplines that make up the ESFs have NO emergency response background,
though I'm told that PHS now has its own ISTs.

ISTs do conduct ICS training and exercises, some of it conducted by very
experienced former USFS personnel, including at least one former ICT1. (Hi

The experience level varies, but many members of the ESF 9 ISTs are also
members of Type 1 and Type 2 teams. Others are very experienced in non-fire
disaster work, with experince including Oklahoma City, Loma Prieta,
Northridge, Kobe (Japan), Turkey, etc. Many have done both.

Anyway, hopefully that provides a little more insight into the FEMA USAR
response system.

09/18 Get ready for Reddy Squirrel, new friend of Smokey Bear.

Reddy's motto: "Forest Fires happen. Be ready!"


PS. Aussie CFU, I wear cotton underclothing, no synthetic. You want moisture to wick away. You do sweat under nomex. I wear medium weight wool socks which also wick. They seem to provide a little more cushion than cotton and while they might seem hot, they're not. Elastic in underwear waist band is OK.
09/18 ok, I have a few comments on the current threads.

On the "yee haw" from the volly depts": *sigh*....yea, I'm sure there are some out there like that but by and large the "good 'ol boys beer club FD" of years past is just that. I have been worked on 2 VFD's for the last 10 yrs and have worked with (in training and fires) a dozen or so more and have not seen one of the "yee haw" variety. Standards vary from state to state and the quality of individual depts varies greatly. But to white wash the majority with that type of mentality is poor judgment at best. Im not sure where, but I remember reading somewhere that the vast majority of FD's in the US are "volunteer" (if I remember correct figure was in the 90% range) and I be alot of folks would be surprised at some of the major metropolitan areas that have volunteer departments. 'nough said.

On the History channel special. The thing thats strange is that they are using a wildland fire special to generate donations for structural folks. Nothing really wrong with it but it does make you wonder. BLM Bob, ya, I thought it looked like a mattock too. Another thing that makes you wonder.

On the FEMA/ICS thread. Not sure about FEMA, but I know our state emergency government office uses it as we trained with them a few years ago on IOC set up (which is what the wildland community would most likely call an area command). It was interesting as their perception of an ICP was the hood of the local FD chiefs car/truck. I think the catch here is that the wildland community are probably the only ones to use teams routinely and on large incidents. For the most part other emergency agencies just dont have the on the ground experience to have worked their kinks out yet.

For Aussie CFU (ab, you can snip and forward here if ya want too)
-The SWS sign thing is a great idea. We use something similar here (upper mid-west US)
-Seems your equipment box is short on nozzles and y's. I would also suggest you look at sprinklers. Canada (ontario at least) has used these for years with great success and they are becoming more in use here and in the western US. The nice thing is (if you have a large static water supply) you can set them up ahead of the fire and get yourself out of harms way.
-What the heck is a witches hat?????
-Under my ppe is strictly cotton, and if its not too danged hot I wear long sleeve t-shirts. I know alot of folks prefer the kind that wick moisture away from your body (cant remember the material or brand name right now)
- A leatherman or some sort of pocket knife is almost a must.
-Flashlights (torch) are ok for on or around the truck, but if you are going to get out and work its best to have something you can use sling around your neck or on your hard had to keep your hands free.
-As far as eats on the line everything you mentioned is pretty much ok except for the soft drinks. The consumption ratio some folks use is 6 bottles of water and one sport drink. W/O getting into the canteen vs bottled water debate, while more costly, by using bottled water you can negate the chances of someone getting sick from drinking from a fouled water supply.
-Span of control. That is probably one of the best things that came out of the ICS system. Works wonder to help maintain command and control if you stick to it. (rate of 3-7 to 1).
-As far as your interface scenario goes, it sounds kinda typical. The first thing that pops into my mind is public education work. ie: firewise. Bottom line is, look around your house, anything you see that could be ignited by a blowing ember needs to be removed. Especially note where leaves/pine needles tend to naturally pile up.. thats where fire brands are going to want to pile up too! Jack Cohen of the Missoula fire lab has put out an excellent video on this topic ( http://www.firelab.org/) I would recommend getting a copy of this video it is an excellent education tool.

Whew...I guess thats enough fer now.


09/17 Ab Note: Aussie CFU wrote in last May with stories of OZ burning and information on how Australians fight fire on the interface. I have pulled out his posts. You can read these and his new post HERE.

If you recall, the fire season in the SW began last April/May with a vengeance and firefighters left on fire assignment. At that time Ab suggested to Aussie CFU that he table his questions until folks returned from the fireline. Fire season may not be over here yet, but fire season in Australia is fast approaching. Please read Aussie CFU's posts.

He's Got Questions. Anybody Got Answers?
Dear Abs,

I have deliberately stayed from asking this question for some time now (4 months I think), as I know how busy you and the members of this site have been but as we are approaching our Aussie fire season and things "seem" to be quieting down up there (the down under contingent have come home to OZ and NZ).

I really need advice. What additional/supplementary equipment would you guys take if you or your members were fighting an interface fire within a mile of your homes but with only the issued equipment that I have listed.

Each CFU is allocated the following equipment which is either stored in a locked outdoor storage cabinet or covered box trailer.

  • CFU Equipment
  • A stand/stem pipe to tap into the water mains,
  • gas (petrol) powered water pump, to pump water from a pool or dam,
  • 180m of hose (2” I think),
  • a Y joint,
  • two nozzles,
  • an assortment of shovels, rakes etc.,
  • two water back packs,
  • 1st aid kit, and
  • some witches hats.
  • PPE -- The members (between 6 – 12) are issued by the NSWFB with :
    • boots,
    • gloves,
    • goggles,
    • helmets,
    • respirators, and
    • overalls.
No neck shrouds or hoods.
It is important to remember that the context of this note is that we do NOT go into bush, forest scrub etc to fight the fires. Our role is in property protection at the wild land/urban interface and to assist the professionals. However when all is said and done if we're are the only ones to show up to fight the fire, then we do the best that we can with the limited equipment and training provided. In my area we will not be at high altitudes and my area of operation is probably limited to within 1 to 2 miles from home. Chances of firestorm circumstances are fairly limited but not ruled out.

And here are the questions I posted before:

  1. What do you wear under your PPE as far as underwear, socks, t-shirts, etc. is concerned? I used to be involved in motor sport and the advice/rules was all cotton or natural fibre for underwear.
  2. What extra/non-standard equipment would you take i.e. pocket knife, Leatherman tool, torch - hand held or head/helmet mounted or on a sling, what type of canteen, harness or belt to carry equipment on, etc.
  3. What do you take with you for snacks and drinks on the fire line i.e. jerked meat, muesli bars, trail mix, snack packs of fruit, plain water, sports drinks, UHT milk, Dr. Peppers, mineral water ????
Ab, I have had no response and if I post my e-mail address to get a personal response, it would reveal who I was and possibly cause the powers that be to be pissed off at me and my crews......

I have some questions about command structure and span of control for my crews also, but I'll wait and see if anyone answers these first. If there are no answers, do you know who I could write to get the answers I'm seeking?

Thanks Ab and All,
Aussie CFU
09/17 The Jobs page and Series 462 and 455 are updated. Tony lays out what is coming in the way of Alaska jobs.

The Current Fires 2002 page is also up to date. Most fires have been contained.


09/17 6,

Well, we are dealing with a fine line here - after all, apples and oranges are
both fruit - so while I don't want to seem petty, I can see how I might.

But I don't want this to turn into a raging vollie vs. paid debate. Having
seen a lot of those I find them silly at best, hurtful at worst, and boring in
the long run. Vollies often seem to be a little bit defensive about the whole
thing and paid often seem quick to be dismissive, but I just hope we don't get
mired in all that.

But, about the History Channel site, I see it as a mixing of apples and
oranges...not that there's anything really, really wrong with that but it
seems that a page focused on one of the most important and crucial events in
wildland fire history should probably stick to the topic. At least provide a
segue and/or maybe an explanation that the structure and rescue people have a
different kind of assignment and weren't among the ones that were on the line
at South Canyon.

I'm with you that vollies deserve our whole-hearted support, both financial
and operational, and if there's a way to help them we should. And if ever we
were to meet, I'd buy you a cold one just for committing your time to the
vollie cause. But the South Canyon disaster was a wildland thing, and at the
very least I'd like to see some acknowledgement of that. It may be that I'm
being petty, but wildland ff are 'my people'.

On a different note, I thought the same thing you did about that picture, "Get
that tool off your shoulder!" And it looks like a damn mattock or something I
wouldn't want to hump up a steep line anyway. And I will watch the show
closely for mistakes, original or added.

All the best,
09/17 CJD,

Check your research on the South Canyon Fire (Storm King). There were NO volunteer firefighters on the hill that day. After the blow up and the deaths, some volunteers did respond to stand by for structure protection. All 49 on the hill were feds, BLM and USFS.

09/17 Palos said, "I have nothing but accolades for you being a VFF and a Supt. but most of the pro people know that when VFD's respond to an incident there will be a ton of hooten and hollern' of "yee haw" from the volly depts.."


Professionalism is an attitude. You're not one because you are paid and making the fire profession a career. You earn the right to call yourself a "professional". That is, by learning everything that is needed to do your job and beyond. You treat all people with respect, whether they are career, vol, new recruit, or seasoned veteran. You don't give orders for someone under you to do something that you wouldn't do yourself.

When you walk, talk, and act like you are professional, then you can call yourself professional with the respect that others know that you are.

I have seen a lot of career and vol people that is and was not professional even though they thought they were. I also know many career people that treated me as an equal and I would have done anything they would have asked, because they knew how to be professional. I know some vol officers and chiefs that everyone would follow any order they gave because they knew how to be professional. And as far as the "yee haw", they might have been so glad to get to help work to save their own area and also getting the chance to work side by side with people that respected them, that they did holler. I know I would have. Get involved in your community as a volunteer of something and see what it is like to work 8-10 days at work and 2-4 hours every night as a vol going to meetings or whatever. then spending your vacation time going to classes, while your career friends are in same class getting paid for that day, or your weekends away from home training or helping the community.

I was honored a couple of weekends ago as the Grand Marshall for the day, because of my volunteering as a FF and all the other volunteering that I do in my community. I felt very honored that the people felt that I had did a good enough job as a volunteer, to do this. I have never been so proud to have become a volunteer. To all people, give back just 4 hours of volunteer work to your community per year and see how you feel.

Thanks for listening
CAFSman (25 years of volunteering)

09/17 Hey Abs. Glad to finally have something useful to add after 2+ years of lurking. Thanks for the site.

Definitely Anonymous,

FEMA does not have IMTs per se, but do have some groups; Incident Support Teams (ISTs logistics for the USAR teams for example), Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS - communication and infrastructure assistance), Rapid Needs Assessment teams (RNA - help decide what the feds can bring to the table) and a Emergency Response Team-Advance (ERT-A - the closest similarity to an ITM). None of these, or anyone from FEMA for that matter, are supposed to take over incident command, but in practice, voids will be filled. That said, when an incident is severe enough that a presidential declaration is issued (and only in that circumstance) all the resources of the federal governments can be brought to bear. So if a need is identified and assistance is requested for incident management, the IMTs will be it. That's not to say they will go on all Presidentially declared disasters, probably just the really big nasty ones. It will depend on the local/state capability.

As for whether FEMA knows or uses ICS, short answer is yes. They actually mandate it's use, and their training materials are much better than NWCGs IMHO. However, the depth of knowledge and implementation varies widely.

Bottom line answer to your question is no, you guys aren't the first line of organizational response, but more like a last resort.

call me... EM

09/17 In response to Anonymous, who asks about FEMA:

IMT's?...not really. FEMA has 3 "National Emergency Response Teams" in additional to "Area Emergency Response Teams" within the regions. They are not, however, analogous to fire IMT's. The ERT's focus on "federal support of local and state operations". They do not supplant local operations, as IMT's can.

The "operational functions" that FEMA provides include: operational support, human services, infrastructure support and emergency services. The teams are also looser than IMT's, in that they will call up what personnel they need for the type of incident. DFO's or Disaster Field Offices are not like IMT's; they primarily serve as on-site public assistance centers - helping people fill out the forms for disaster assistance, etc.

There are other "response team" functions that are managed or coordinated by FEMA, including the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), Medical Disaster Assistance Teams (MDAT) and a host of other specialized teams from various federal agencies (morgue teams, mobile hospitals, etc).

ICS?...sort of, but not really. They use organizational structures similar to ICS, and they have adopted many features of ICS, but along the way, it got watered down, mutated and ignored. FEMA has in theory "adopted" ICS, but their own National Fire Academy does not even teach it. They instead have for many years used a bastardized version, similar to the "Incident Management System" used in metropolitan departments. The sad thing is that many of the instructors (and most of the students) don't even know that it isn't the same as ICS. What's missing: universal personnel qualifications, common terminology, common operational procedures, common business management procedures, common communications, common training ciriculum. What's there: an org chart that is similar to ICS.

Interestingly, in the big picture FEMA comes closer to conforming with ICS than does the National Fire Academy. Possibly because of the huge east coast influence?

Training?...FEMA has adopted module 1 (ICS orientation), a 1-hour self study ICS primer. In addition, many of the strategy and tactics classes offered a the NFA have some ICS (with mixed results). They also teach ICS for Law Enforcement and ICS for public works.

How do they respond: Under the auspices of the Federal Response Plan: www.fema.gov/rrr/frp/.

The USFS teams that were sent to New York last year were listed as managing a small portion of the whole response: that of receiving and distributing materials and equipment. There were other response organizations as well, but from an outsider's point of view, there did not seem to be one overall organization. FBI had its own, NYPD had its own, FDNY had its own...

Next Topic:
I am a "pro" having been a full-time firefighter for 16 years. I am a TFL and ICT4.

What you have to say about volunteer firefighters is way off base. Many "vollies" are undertrained and undermanaged, but that image does not reflect all of the volunteer firefighters in the Country.

I have nearly 50 volunteers working for me. Our local district contracts to provide all of the initial attack in our county, including federal and state lands. In the past 10 years we have responded to over 250 IA fires within our district without losing one, or having to bring in state or federal backup.

Every year, our volunteers mobilize for project fires throughout the region. Judging from the evals they get on those fires, they are doing an excellent job.

The training program we provide to our volunteers is so well regarded in our area that the local NPS and USFS send their candidates to us to train.

We, too have former FS and CDF personnel, including former hotshots. We also have current NPS rangers and state park rangers volunteering.

There are some "yee-haw" volunteers in the world. There are also highly qualified ones.


09/17 Fireriver,
Thanks for your response. There was no attempt to spread falsehoods on my
part, I'm asking questions. Questions based on first hand accounts of
persons who were also there. Does everyone see the same events? No, we all
interpret what we see in our own context. That's why I asked the questions.
I appreciate the tone of your response, information based rather than
ragging about whose crews do what better or worse, etc.

It's hard to work within natural resource protection protocols. Whether
they are right or wrong in the long term they are the policies that at least
a portion of the public has decided are important and appropriate for now.
I respect anyone who can work in an environment where so many advisors have
veto power through their interpretation of rules, guidelines, and best
practices. I've worked as many years as you, plus a few, and have seen the
changes that you speak about. I consider myself fortunate in protecting
mostly private lands that firefighting goals are more simply delineated. I
guess I prefer driving the car rather than being in the back seat, as I'm
sure you'd prefer.

Thanks for writing, contact me through Ab, I'll buy the first round and
we'll continue the conversation.

09/17 I want to thank Elizabeth Cavasso for sharing her Washington journal on her
team's work and her feelings after Sept 11. Thanks for the photos as well. It
would be interesting to see some interior shots. Being from the west coast, our
family was somewhat removed geographically from what went on.

On the anniversary of 9/11 my wife and I decided to read Elizabeth's journal
as a family with our teenage children. Since then we've had some great dinner
conversations that have brought our family closer in the aftermath of the attacks
and this one-year anniversary.

Elizabeth, thanks again for the first-hand information and sharing your private
feelings about what you went through. That decision alone must have been
hard to make.

This is a remarkable website, Abs. Please keep up the good work.

09/17 "Definitely Anonymous" inquired about issues involving FEMA and ICS, etc.

It might interest him or her to know that very shortly after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, FEMA and California's OES set up a large Command Post (I believe they called it a Disaster Field Office) taking up two floors of a large high-rise in Pasadena. About eight or ten CDFers, including myself and one high-ranking Chief, were brought in to explain and assist in implementing the ICS for both those agencies. The main operation went on for a good couple of weeks in that office, and CDF personnel were instrumental in keeping the large-scale Command and Control procedures and meetings in line with ICS principles. There were some pretty big egos there, especially on the FEMA side (the stress level was enormous with them, understandably, because that was a HUGE incident with massive amounts of political concern.....). Two or three days into the incident, the CDF personnel were asked to work in civilian clothes because too many people were asking what those CDF people were doing there........... It seems that they were a little embarrassed that we were there to implement a procedure which should have already been mastered. That was some time ago, and FEMA may well have incorporated more ICS training in the meanwhile. I imagine OES is more familiar with it, as it has been used so extensively in California. But that wasn't apparent in 1994.

I am not sure, but I think CDF performed a similar role in the Loma Prieta quake in 1989.

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande

09/17 In your wide statement about volunteers, I take some umbrage. Yes, I am a vol. firefighter, I have been for almost 19 years, for three of those years I was a seasonal with CDF, about 25 % of my department has some seasonal experience with some fire agency or another (many others have been in one of Uncle Sam's clubs for wayward boys). Many of us have moved on to more permanent jobs, not because we didn't like the seasonal thing, it's that there was not the hint of a full time job in our future and you have to do what you have to do (you can't be a seasonal firefighter forever, but some have tried).

About the Yee Haw, I do know departments that are that way, but many are not, many try to be as professional as the Big Boys. Please be careful when painting with such a large brush. You get paint on a lot of people who don't deserve it. I train hard, I try to stay in shape, I like to go to fires, many times I don't make it because some one has to stay home and run the other calls, however mundane they maybe.

Just because I don't have a green engines or my department doesn't have helicopters, air tankers, and dozers doesn't mean I take this job as a lark. I try to be a professional and as hard working as anyone, matter of fact many times the vols. will work harder just to prove we can pull our share. Yes, there are some vol. departments that are prima donnas too. I say all this with utmost respect for all the hard working paid professional firefighters out there. Don't judge a book by its cover, work with them first then let their actions be your guide.


09/17 Regarding the rumors about portal-to-portal....Get the facts at
www.fwfsa.org. Its time. Do your part and join.

09/17 Definitely Anonymous,

To my knowledge the only other teams that FEMA has are the Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) Teams. They are comprised of local and state personnel. Each state has a certain amount of teams. It's set up under the ICS Command Structure. Refer to a California Field Operations Guide for a USAR organizational chart. All federal interagency incident management teams have been FEMA's first line of defense since day one. Any major disasters that occur that exceed local or state capabilities will get a federal incident management team. It is stated in FEMA's Emergency Support Functions directives.

ESF 4: Fire Fighting. Detecting and suppressing wildland, rural and urban fires. Lead agency: U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture.

ESF 9: Urban Search and Rescue. Locating, extricating and providing initial medical treatment to victims trapped in collapsed structures. Lead agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency.

We provide assistance to FEMA when requested. This is how the Federal Interagency Incident Management Teams become involved in all types of disasters. We have the training, knowledge, and experience to manage large incidents. If we didn't choose to manage them, then who would?

09/17 I haven't logged in for a while and was just reading up on the
"controversy" about the History Channel and where the charity dollars
will end up. I have to clarify my bias up front by letting you know
that I have been a volunteer firefighter for almost 20 years. We
respond to wildland fires, structure fires and medical calls. I can't
speak for all VFDs, but the majority of our calls are wildland fires.
We carry pagers 24-7-365.

I understand that the men and women that died on Storm King Mountain
were not VFD firefighters; however, there were VFD FFs on Storm King
mountain that day. I have climbed that hill several times to visit that
hallowed ground. I see all firefighters as members of a firefighting
community. We all grieved when those FFs fell on Storm King, but we
also grieved on 9/11 when the Twin Towers collapsed burying several
hundred of our fellow FFs. I am happy that the charity benefit will
help members of the firefighting community, particularly VFDs because
they are so poorly funded.

For the most part, VFDs are grossly underfunded. Our department gets
no tax dollars and relies entirely on donations (and a few grants). We
typically use "hand me down" equipment except when we are lucky enough
to get a grant to buy new stuff. The Department supplied the Nomex and
boots that I wear on wildland fires; however almost of the other things
in my firepack were bought with my own money. We drive older trucks and
for the most part maintain it with volunteer time. We do this job
because of the sense of community we derive from it. We are well
respected among the "paid" FFs that we work side-by-side with (besides,
without us they would get hopelessly lost in the labyrinth of roads in
our mountain community). I think there is enough generosity out there
to spread around to all in the FF community and I am glad some VFDs will
be getting a little extra gas money.

Thanks & Adios, CJD
09/17 6,
I have nothing but accolades for you being a VFF and a Supt. but most of the pro people know that when VFD's respond to an incident there will be a ton of hooten and hollern' of "yee haw" from the volly depts.. (see earlier postings from the Hayman incident)

On the dispatch topic. I have read all the takes from dispatchers who submit notes to this site, but have seen little from the fire fighters who may be calling in or sizing up a fire to a non-wildland fire experienced dispatcher. I know this may sound odd, but I worked on a district that made every Eng. Capt. (foreman, EML, supervisor) spend a week on the I.A. (hot seat, dispatch, fire) counsel. My time in there was something that I will never forget. I never thought that I could get so frustrated or over tasked while I was wearing shorts and tevas. It made me realize that while the I.C. is screaming for resources, the dispatcher is doing their best to fill the order. I have a very hard time believing that a 911 dispatcher or any one else who may have great communications, computer, translation, multi-tasking skills, still with a plethora of patience, with out wildland fire experience could be an efficient wildland fire dispatcher. I always blew off a complete size up, until I after the times that I was sitting in the hot seat. I now know (at least here, where all of our I.A. dispatchers are required to have actual fire line experience) that a full size up and any information that the I.C. provides can give a little ammo to the dispatchers when we are screaming for tankers, engines, crews, helicopters... or whatever it is that we are requesting from the GACC.

Please tell me, would an experienced 911 dispatcher, or a person without wildland fire experience know the actual capabilities of a type 2 vs a type 1 crew or the difference between a type 3 and a type 1 helicopter. Yes, yes I read that there is reference material to help the dispatcher there. But in the real world, the here and now, knowing how many seats, or allowable payload from a read cue card is no match for actual knowledge of what resource might the dispatcher need to get the job done.

I read earlier that this plays into effect when the dispatcher acts as an I.C. unit ground forces arrive. And I can't agree more. To go into details would require space that the Ab's would snip in a heart beat, but to shorten it up, fire tactics are broken down into....... Fuels, Weather, and Topography.

Any good wildland fire dispatcher needs to have a grasp on those basic concepts, which requires time in the field, actually fighting fire. Any one who may have just "read up" on this will not have an appreciation for what may be actually happening on the ground.

I understand that there are great 911 and other types of dispatchers who do a wonderful job every day. How ever I can not see how any wildland fire dispatcher could do an effective job with out knowing what we deal with on the ground. I believe that the wildland fire environment has many more variables than any incident that may occur with in a town boundary.

I'll leave the fire fighter retirement seminar to the experts.

Take it as you will

P.S. Ab, what up with all the hub bub earlier this month about portal to portal? Nothing on "They Said" or the "FWFSA" site about it....... C'mon.... fill us in!

09/17 JW-

You need to check your communication links more thoroughly. I was at the Apple fire during initial attack. We were utilizing type 2 and type 1 helicopters from the Tiller Complex within twenty minutes of the order being placed. The district resource advisor was contacted and because of the critical fisheries habitat within North Umpqua River drainage, it was determined that the river would only be used as a water source for the helicopters in an emergency. The fire, even in initial attack and at less than ten acres, was determined to be an emergency. All of the water dropped on the fire that day (almost 400,000 gallons) was taken from the river. Retardant was also ordered but lead advised that the terrain was too dangerous to drop in and canceled the order. The river was utilized as a water source for both helicopters and for filling engines and tenders, with the proper precautions in place to protect the salmon and steelhead smolt, for the first few days of the fire. Then the helios were diverted to other approved dip sites near the fire, but returned to the river as the fire situation warranted for the next two weeks. Despite constant monitoring by the resource advisors assigned to the fire, incidents occurred involving improper protection at pump sites and fuel spills on the river banks.

Both aggressive firefighting and resource protection are important aspects of todays fire management principles. Much has changed in the twenty seven years I have fought fire with the USFS, some changes have been good and others have made our jobs more difficult to perform. Spreading false information within our fire family has been one of the hardest aspects of this profession I have dealt with throughout my career. Please be more careful with your post info everyone.


09/16 Just a firefighter:
A year ago, after the FDNY losses, wildland firefighters were anxious to claim their part of the "fire" brotherhood and willing to be counted with the overall fire community. Now with the possibility of VFD members gaining some financial contributions with the broadcast of McLean's movie, the shouts of "Unfair!" come to surface. You may choose to call it hypocrisy, I tend to think of it as selective memory.

BLM Bob,
I usually tend to agree with you on issues, but I think that you are being somewhat petty about the distinction there. I have to admit that I spent 10 years on a VFD and it changed my perception considerably. I was an IHC superintendent when I joined. Something about owing something to my community. I still remember doing my first wildland fire with them and coming home with the realization that I did not get paid a cent. I used to cringe when the VFDs showed up but when I became one of them life got easier. I still make a point of mentioning my VFD experience when I arrive on scene and they are there. Bottom line to me is that they are out there because they care. If the McLean gig can make them some money so that they can buy some Nomex, so be it.

Take a look at the picture on the History channel link (www.historychannel.com/fire/) and you will see that the premise of the show seems to be VFD and fiction. Who is that guy with black stuff smeared all over his face, what tool is he holding, and what professional firefighter could hold a tool like that and keep from getting his butt chewed? One thing to watch is if the they mistakes made in McLean's book are edited out of the show, or are they left in for dramatic effect.


09/16 Hello-

I am attempting to learn when the small fire occurred and how it was started at:
Jerry Lakes, Paysaten Wilderness, WA, near Crater and Jack Mountain.

Most likely in the past 5 or 6 years.

Thanks much,

09/16 Anybody know if FEMA has incident management teams that are not ours? Do
they know/use ICS? Who makes up their teams? How much ICS training is there?
Who gets it? Who do they call on? How do they respond to an incident
anyway? to multiple incidents? They called our teams out after 9-11. Are our
fire teams really the first line of organizational response after terrorism and no
one has told us we are? Really I know that idea was thrown out there in a joking
way last winter...

<Ab snip>

Definitely Anonymous, um hm.

I'm allowing this one because I think there are some serious questions here. I snipped some speculation. Ab.

09/16 This is another message for Sam Stanford. I was looking in the Classifieds for the Seattle Times and saw a job you might be interested in. It is still a bit of a drive from Libby.

It looks like Edwards Aviation in Kalispell is looking for an A&P. No phone number was given, but contact:

Bob Robertson of Edwards Jet Center PO Box 23504 Billings MT 59104 or robertsb@rocky.edu.

At least the Kallispell Air Tanker Base is located upstairs from Edwards.

Good Luck Sam
09/16 IA Dispatcher,

I have worked with CDF and FS in region 5: both have different CAD programs. FS actually had two. Though Region 3 didn't have CAD, they had basically the "Bin" system. Region 8 had a varied CAD system. BLM I understand has bought into WILDCAD and I know NICC used it with showers, caterers, communication and helicopters.

This issue of whether wildland dispatchers need fire exper. has been going on for years and will continue I'm sure for years to come.

Retirement I believe is an issue. Secondary fire position, I'll admit that is one reason why I looked into dispatching. The other, yes, was a health reason.

Most of the best dispatchers I know come from fire background, and yes I even know a great one on the LP that doesn't come from a fire background. I know I don't know all the wildland dispatchers but I know a great many of them after being in the busy for over 18 years.

Like it was mentioned before, TEAMWORK is the key, and the most important issue in my mind is service to the fire, law and admin folk who are out in the field... them getting home safely to their loved ones every night.

Dispatcher of 18+ years

09/16 If there is anyone coming east for the National Fallen Firefighter's
Memorial the weekend of 4, 5, and 6th of October, everything has been moved to
the MCI center in downtown D.C. due to the amount of firefighters expected
to attend to honor FDNY personnel. If you need help finding lodging, or
just need info on the area, or how to ride the Metro, leave a post and I'll
get back to you. If you do come to the memorial, look for the guys from PA
in Nomex, and ask for me.

Hope to see some of you there.
09/16 Abs,

I just returned from the National Fire Academy in Emmittsburg, Md. While there I tried to check up on the latest "They Said" posts, but was unable to access the site. Each time I attempted access I was met with a notice that www.wildlandfire.com is a forbidden site on FEMA access net. Why does FEMA have this site blocked?

Also, the National Fire Academy has added several courses for structural firefighters to learn to deal with wildland/urban interface fires. Although, I wasn't in the course, I did manage to get a copy of the textbook. It looked to be fairly accurate and informative, with information on weather forecasts, spot weather, structural triage, and basic wildland fire behavior. It also seems to give good information on how things will progress logistically as the fire grows and becomes beyond the control of local resources. I know that there are many structural depts in my area that could use this course! Other areas may want to check on it as well.

The National Fire Academy is very cost-effective, with only a small registration fee and meal ticket purchase. All lodging is free and travel (including airfare) is reimbursed! It is definitely worth the trip as the training and staff are top-notch. Also on the grounds is the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial.


Re FEMA's Blocking of wildlandfire.com: All this Ab can think of is that some posters to theysaid were critical of FEMA following the 30 Mile investigation. Alternatively, maybe heightened security has resulted in FEMA banning all such anonymous posting sites as ours. Is the AAP board banned? Is the CDF Members board banned? Some of the posts on those auto posting sites get way more out of line than this site does.

What can I say? We don't post here with FEMA's sensibilities in mind. We wish that agency well. It's clear they don't know us or our dedication to this country. Perhaps they have too much on their plate to even make the attempt to get to know the wildland fire community.

Members of this community are patriots, but located outside the beltway, PATRIOTS who are invested in wildland firefighter safety, professionalism, and appropriate information sharing. Theysaid attests to that. In addition, as those who know the Abs can tell you, we definitely have our national interests in mind. Some posts come in that never see the light of day, either because they are junk or because our research finds them baseless.

Unfortunately, an act such as banning can be done by one person in power who feels a need to control or who has a beef with something that's been posted. Even more unfortunately, I would think that such a banning - which probably most impacts our wildland firefighters attending the National Fire Academy - increases the perceived divide between eastern and western fire, since theysaid is one of the main ways firefighters around the country and between agencies learn from each other.


09/16 OK here's my two cents on this dispatcher conversation.

I'm one of those so called "dumped" injured firefighters, that was moved into dispatch. My experience on the fireline was very very little help in dispatch.

What I think a person needs to start in dispatch is typing, computer, administration and multi-tasking skills. I won't mention the ability to politic. Oh wait, I just did. Speed reading would be a ton of help. If you are not computer literate you will be at a big (very big) disadvantage. Here's a few of the programs we run (the Feds anyways), MIRPS, AMIS, WILDCAD, FIRESTAT, LEIMARS,REDCARD, CLETS and WIMS. I'm sure I've missed a few. User friendly programs? I snicker in your general direction.

Let's talk about staying up on policies, agreements and orders. Knowing where to reference information for the multitude of questions you get from the people in the field. It's not just fire questions, it comes from everywhere. Here in our small shop, we monitor and use 6 radio frequencies and 6 phone lines. We deal almost daily with 2 CHP dispatch centers, 4 county sheriff dispatch centers and our local CDF ranger unit, which I'm happy to say we have a good working relationship with. We get busy as hell in here and if you can't multitask you're screwed.

I'm not saying having previous fire experience doesn't help, it does but very little. I had three very good teachers when I was "dumped" here. I needed it. After picking my jaw up off the floor, the training started. Oh and one of the dispatchers that was training me had no previous fire experience. All three were top notch and all three have since moved on. One thing never stops in dispatch, the learning. Almost weekly something comes up that you haven't had to deal with before. This is where the ability to locate the reference material and read fast comes into play. I guess when I'm real old (like 41 or 42 HEHE) and finally have seen it all it will be time to retire.

I've been uhhh lets say blessed with the training of our newest dispatchers. I can teach them about protocols, and what to anticipate when it comes to fires and LE activities. I can teach them to use the programs, I can teach them where and how to use the reference materials and I can teach them about policies. What I can't teach them is how to get firefighter retirement without being a firefighter before they became a dispatcher.

Our shop main work load is Law Enforcement, maybe we should have to be LEs before we are dispatcher. Of course there have been a few days I would have liked to have been packing heat. Oh well I love my job and I'm sorry we've missed out on having some very good dispatchers because of the "prior" experience clause.

Sorry for being so long winded.
Sign me: The 5 handed, 6 eared, three mouth dispatcher.

P.S. "Tankersssssss" I know you read this site. Have a good day in North Ops.

09/16 To Seasoned Supervisory Dispatcher,

I must have touched a nerve somewhere as your writing portrays a bit of frustration too in my opinion.

1) All federal wildland dispatch positions DO NOT require fireline experience. I recently became employed in one of those positions and I have no previous fireline experience. I have hired individuals who also had no wildland firefighting experience. Due to my lack of firefighter experience, I am not entitled to firefighter retirement. I respect those who are entitled to it and would never wish to take that away from anyone. However, I should not be prevented from applying for job positions because of retirement benefits which I have never been entitled to and have never asked for. I suspect that OPM could come up with a solution for advertising jobs so that all qualified people could apply whether they have fireline experience or not. You ask “Would we all abandon our fire retirement to meet the needs of the minority?” Nobody is asking you to. (And before anyone suggests that I seek fireline experience so that I might apply for these positions in the future, it is not possible due to physical limitations.)

2) Referencing USFS and BLM committees and a possible IADP task book: You aren’t telling me anything I do not already know.

3) Regarding dispatch centers who use CAD: I didn’t say that other Regions did not use this type of program. I asked Steve to tell me which Regions do use it. I have worked in three different Regions, none of which use this program. You failed to answer my question as well. I have no doubt that other dispatch centers will use this program in the future. I just wonder how someone working in a Region that does not have the program would gain the necessary experience using the program to apply for positions that have that as a prerequisite.

4) This may be the only point we agree on. SOME of the best dispatchers come from 911 backgrounds and SOME have previous fireline experience. Once again, my point is that previous fireline experience is not what makes you a good dispatcher. It can help, but a person must have other skills to succeed in an initial attack dispatch center and can function just as well without the fireline experience as they can with it. (I’d be happy to back up this statement with 12 years worth of excellent Performance Appraisals.)

Negativity? – Maybe. Frustration? – Absolutely! I applaud those who are tackling the issue and I pray for a quick resolution. To assume my dispatch services are lacking because I am passionate about this issue is absurd.

To A Fully Qualified Dispatcher,

Attitude? – Okay, if you want to call being frustrated having an attitude then I guess I fit that description. To make this personal by saying you’re glad I don’t qualify is a bit rude. I’m not sure why anyone feels the need to make this issue personal. I believe my original message to Steve stated that this was not aimed at him personally, but was merely my frustration with the system and how it doesn’t work. Moving on…

Are there any Fire Management Officers reading this site who would like to comment? I’d love to hear your take on this issue. Have any of you worked with dispatchers who have not had prior fireline experience?

- IA Dispatcher
09/15 Thanks Vicki, we appreciate all the good work that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation has done.
09/15 Seems an IA dispatcher should have some fire experience since that
person may sometimes play the role of unofficial or de facto IC.

Tahoe Terrie
09/15 Re that CDF rollover:
From the CHP website yesterday.. engine 1453 rollover, 1 injury, fuel spill into a creek or lake. From the radio call plan book, that engine is from Clear Lake Oaks. That's all I know.
09/15 Hello Ab(s)

Well I haven't written in awhile, but the posts written about the dispatch job in Plumas, prompted me to respond.

I agree with both "Seasoned Supervisory Dispatcher" and "Qualified IA Dispatcher", dispatchers need to know what it's like on the ground and the air to be able to make educated decisions. Whether or not it's required for some agencies and not for others....It should be for all Wildland dispatchers, with the ability to do on the job training if they have no previous exp. I spent a year on a engine and also on a handcrew. I also do TOLC/ABRO on incidents... and if you don't know a 205 from a KMAX or a SkyCrane you're not as qualified as you should be.

The most important part about being a dispatcher is seeing the WHOLE picture. The only way to do that, is too spend some times in their shoes, ie: groundpounding, Helitack, etc. Otherwise you don't have all the right tools to do the job effectively. I have been a IA wildland dispatcher going on 6 years, but my father was a policeman in a remote forest location, so really I have been on radios since I have been 8 years old. I don't agree with IA dispatchers attitude, she won't get hired many places acting like that, good thing she already has a job.

The key in dispatch is TEAMWORK- every ICS position is part of the team. Being a 911 dispatcher does not automatically make you the best dispatcher, especially if you don't know anything about wildland fire. Seeing the big picture and being flexible, adaptive, knowledgeable, and pleasant are only some of the qualities that make you a good dispatcher.

IA dispatcher--here's a hint.... get a FFT2 taskbook and get out on some fires so you'll know what they do out there on the other side of the radio.

Thanks all...hope everyone is having a safe, productive fire season.


09/15 Concerning the CDF engine:

The only thing I could find out is that a CDF engine rolled over on the way to a IA fire near CLearLake. 1 minor injury only , the the engine is believed to be totaled.

The season is not over, remember to be safe.


09/15 This is a note for Sam,
I know you say you are moving to Libby but if you want to use your A&P Skills, Neptune Aviation in Missoula Montana is looking for some good people.

As an X groundpounder I frequent this page alot. I am now a Captain on Tanker-05.

Neptune contracts Air Tankers to OAS, USFS, BLM etc. Just thought I would let you know.

Regards Chris Holm P2pilot@yahoo.com
09/15 Anyone know about a supposed CDF engine rollover in Lake Co near Clear Lake yesterday? Maybe no news is good news.


09/15 IA Dispatcher,

I strongly side with Steve on that Wildland IA dispatcher need at least one season as a firefighter. I have 7 years of dispatching behind me and 10 years of fighting fires, and am very grateful of it. I have been through two dispatch academies one CDF and one county, at both there were people who had no fire fighting experience and they mentioned to me that they wish they had. All they guys I have dispatched for from region 5 to region 8 have appreciated the fact that I have had on ground exp. I respect ground and air folks more because I know what they are upagainst because I've been there.

Concerning NCIC exper. I not only worked with it in Region 5 but also Region 3 and 1.

Aircraft dispatching is also a big part of wildland fire dispatching, and to know and understand aircraft you really need to have worked around them, even working at a tanker helps understand more about safety and timing.

Truly if you already have that kind of attitude toward the job Steve is trying to fill, I'm glad you do not qualify.

A Fully Qualified Dispatcher

I am not sure that Steve really has a "side" to side with. He simply asked us to post a vacancy announcement. Steve, are the major duties and knowledge required by the position as stated in the position description the actual requirements for applying for the job? Ab.

09/15 John,

Thanks for trying to do the right thing in your part of the History Channel
production. Wish I could make it to Missoula for the screening.


09/15 For info on fallen firefighters, I found this site via a link from Wildlandfire.com. It is a FEMA site, that has pretty
complete info on firefighter fatalities, and it is up to date. The web site is: www.usfa.fema.gov/index.cfm. If
you get here, click on the link in the upper right hand corner that reads, "firefighter fatalities".

Hopefully this helps
09/14 I'm an A&P mechanic with some firefighter training. We plan on moving to Libby, MT soon. Any
chance of picking up some aircraft or other work with Kootenai N.F.?
R.S.V.P Sam Stanford
09/14 It is not my nature to respond to postings from this site. But, here we
have someone with so much experience and a lack of knowledge. I just had to

First, This IA Dispatcher should know that all Federal Wildland dispatch
positions require fireline experience due to OPM requirements to keep
dispatchers within the fire retirement program. Would we all abandon our
fire retirement to meet the needs of the minority?

Second, IA Dispatcher should know that both the Forest Service and the
Bureau of Land Management have committees organized to determine a possible
work around to this requirement. The recommendations are leaning towards a
task book type requirement that would require the candidate to accomplish
certain tasks (ie; visit a cache, assist in the writing of a prescribed fire
plan, visit a fire camp...)

Third, Many Initial Attack Centers now use Computer Aided Dispatching
systems (CAD). With the advent of WildCAD, I am sure that more and more
will be heading that direction in the very near future. The BLM has already
purchased a National site license and the Forest Service has made inquiries
towards the same.

Fourth, I know many wildland dispatchers and I am not aware that "some of
the best" were previous 911 dispatchers. In fact, some of the best are
people who have previous fire experience.

Sorry for being so blunt here. But, it concerns me that you are so
interested in a job and yet you have such negativity. This is not a feature
we need in the dispatch community when all we really have to offer is

Seasoned Supervisory Dispatcher
09/14 From Firescribe, some good California news for air tanker pilots from Redding.com.

Contract pilots gain benefits, Families will be compensated for firefighting deaths

09/14 Ab
In response to Boo:
We have folders on all the fallen and injured firefighters from this year and a few years back. We have not posted their names on our website as we haven't had clearance from the families to do so, yet. We are working on that right now. Larry Hamilton at NIFC pays for markers for all the fallen firefighters each year to be placed at the monument at NIFC in Boise, ID. Each spring, we contact the families and let them know that the markers have been placed.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation belongs to the community of the wildland firefighters and we are open to ideas and concepts that will help us grow and serve the wildland firefighter community.

Compassion Spreads Like Wildfire

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
09/14 IA Dispatcher,

Before this erupts into a huge shouting match about whether dispatchers
need fire experience to be good, let me make you aware of some things. The
federal agencies are hearing from OPM (I believe) that if a dispatch
position is to qualify under the federal special firefighter retirement
(secondary), then that position MUST require firefighter experience.

If a dispatcher position doesn't qualify for special firefighter
retirement, then no one that is currently covered under firefighter
retirement will apply for it because they will lose their eligibility if
they take a position that isn't covered. So if feds don't require fire
experience and cover a position under ff retirement, then they lose a huge
and essential candidate pool - ie. people in the fire retirement system.

Rock and a hard place time. This is causing some huge problems and debates
in BLM, and I know the FS is working on the issue as well. I could go on
and on about it, but that's the short version. Either fire experience is
required, or a position isn't covered by ff retirement and people that are
under fire retirement would lose their eligibility if they take it. You
can see where that could take things in the dispatch world.

09/14 In response to Steve regarding the GS-7 dispatcher position he’s trying to fill:

I have reviewed the position description you referenced in your message and find it interesting that the requirements of the position are so stringent. I am one of those “highly skilled dispatchers” you are seeking to fill your position. I consider myself skilled based on 12 years of dispatching experience working for federal, state, and private agencies/departments mostly within an interagency dispatch setting. After reviewing the position description a couple things jumped out at me:

1) Prior wildland firefighting experience is a requirement of this position. I do not have any prior firefighting experience. Does this make me less qualified for the job? – Absolutely Not! Do I need to have firefighting experience to be a good dispatcher? – Absolutely Not! Often times, injured firefighters are placed into dispatch positions during their recovery period. Does their line experience give them the background necessary to prepare them for all of the challenges they will face behind a dispatch console? – I hardly think so! Do law enforcement dispatchers have to be policemen/policewomen prior to working in the communications center? – Not the last time I checked! Dispatch offices now are a highly specialized work place requiring personnel who are flexible, capable of working under extreme pressure, capable of dealing with a variety of complex situations simultaneously, and who are dedicated to the job with all of its many demands. Some of the most important aspects of a dispatcher are a willingness to learn the job and the dedication to stick with it. Would firefighting experience help me in dispatching? – Probably, however several years of dispatching experience combined with classroom training (including Fire/Guard School attendance) and field trips can accomplish the same goals in my humble opinion.

2) Knowledge of National Crime Information Center (NCIC) or equivalent and Computer Aided Dispatch System (CAD) required. Question: does any other Region use these programs within their dispatch offices? I know they are common in Region 5, but if someone’s experience is gained in other Regions then how is one supposed to gain this experience to qualify for your job vacancies in Region 5?

You state “The job wide open to all applicants and is definitely NOT wired!” I appreciate your honesty and the fact that you are up front in stating this. I would say that it is encouraging, but truthfully, with such strict requirements for the position, I find it anything but encouraging. Most dispatchers I know would never qualify for this position as it is currently advertised unless they had worked previously in Region 5.

Please know that I don’t hold any of this against you personally, I am just genuinely frustrated with the system as a whole. Some of the best dispatchers I know came from 911 dispatch centers without any wildland fire experience or had no previous dispatching background prior to being hired as a wildland fire dispatcher. They came into the job, found a mentor, and learned the job as they went along. How can we as government agencies expect to recruit good and sometimes already fully qualified people when we have such strict prerequisites?

Thanks for listening to me rant and rave. It feels good to get some of this out in the open as it’s been a pet peeve of mine for many, many years. Good luck to you as you seek to fill this position. Should you have any trouble, I might suggest relaxing the requirements a bit and re-advertising the position.

- IA Dispatcher

09/14 Ab, there are many Forests going back to the "Original 10 Standard Firefighting Orders" and doing away with the "FIRE ORDERS". Looks like several Forests in R-6 and R-5 are heading back to the basics that we learned as new firefighters so long ago. I recently got an R-6 briefing card and it was the "Original" ones... And a "Wall Sticky to Match"... bonus

I am a full supporter of the "Original 10 and 13".. They worked!!! We had a pretty safe stretch from the early 1970's through the early 1990's... (exceptions noted). Add on the current LCES from Paul Gleason and I think we have the perfect set up.... 10/13/LCES..... don't add anything else on... Its all I can remember and make sure my folks remember!! Those of us who were around when the 13 changed to 18 and the 10 Standard Fire Orders changed to the "Fire Orders" know where they came from (the Agency)...

Ab, from your archives? www.wildlandfire.com/docs/10fireorders.php

My question is??? is the poorly written and often poorly reviewed class "Standards for Survival" still required since so many Forests DO NOT SUBSCRIBE to its value? I do not believe this class HAS EVER been updated since its inception and SHOULD BE SCRAPPED!! This class is required for yearly review by us on our Forest and it is laughed at... poorly written, substandard video, marginal text. Firefighters know the video WORD FOR WORD and DO NOT GAIN ANY!!!! learning experience from it. But it takes up 1/4 of our yearly training (atleast on paper).

My firefighters can recite the video word by word.. just like the "FIRE ORDERS" ..... they have viewed it for years..... Did they learn anything from the video or their cards?

My firefighters learn the "Old" ones... and they learn how to be wildland firefighters....

ooops.. I think someone just kicked my soap box out from underneath me to keep me from saying anything more....


09/13 Ab:

This is a response to recent comments about fund-raising connected with the History Channel docu-movie of Fire on the Mountain.

The History Channel will premier its docu-movie Fire on the Mountain at 7 p.m. Friday, October 11, at the Wilma Theater in downtown Missoula. The public is invited. The show premiers on television October 28.

The screening will benefit the Storm King 14 Scholarship Fund, which is managed by the Colorado Mountain College Foundation, Inc. of Glenwood Springs. The foundation awards scholarships based on a kinship tie to the one of the 14 firefighters who gave their lives on Storm King Mountain in 1994 or to a wildland firefighter with a link to Missoula, Montana, McCall, Idaho or Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

The Wilma Theater has agreed to make its facility available for a nominal charge to cover expenses.

The film is 90 minutes long. The author -- that's me, John N. Maclean -- will be there to answer questions afterward. I'm not raking off any dough for gas or lodging or anything else. And if I see a firefighter boot dangling around for the structure guys, I'll pitch in a buck or two.


09/13 Ab,

I have a similar concern such as Mellie's. Recently I contacted NIFC to get the names of the wildland firefighters that had Fallen this year and in the past couple of years. I was directed to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation website. It's a nice site, but doesn't have this year's information and includes all firefighters.

May be a nice touch to have a Memorial section here on Wildland Fire for the wildland fire fighters that have Fallen over the years. I realize it would take some time and effort but seems like a small price to pay to remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice.


09/13 Thanks BLM Bob, for writing them. You did an articulate job. I was just venting.
I haven't even been to the History Channel's site yet. I will visit there and will put
writing them on my list of tasks. HoHum another bit of writing to do... just how I
was wanting to spend part of my Saturday. NOT. (Bob, thanks again for the
action. I could hug ya for that!)

To just a firefighter,
BLM Bob probably put it better than I did. My intent was not to exclude anyone,
rather to acknowledge the groundpounders and smokejumpers who died - and their
families and friends in their closest circles. We will not forget THEM. They did not
die in vain. We are a wildland fire community with many sub-groups who deserve
acknowledgement and recognition, each for their unique contributions, especially when
people die. (And I could hug you too, for joining us in posting and being honest
in what you say.)

just a Mellie from Five Waters

09/13 Mellie,

Perhaps you could write to the History Channel a letter stating your concerns?
At the bottom of the History Channel page at:
there is a link for feedback. I clicked it, and sent them a note, which I
included below just in case others want to see what I said:

------begin e-mail to HistoryChannel.com--------------

I am writing in regards to your web page on "Fire on the Mountain":

While you correctly portray the firefighters lost on Storm King Mountain as
wildland firefighters, I must say that I am rather dismayed concerning your
campaign to raise funds for local and volunteer fire departments as well as
the web page's reference and link to Firehouse.com.

All due respect and appreciation to local community and volunteer
firefighters, they are much different than full-time wildland firefighters.
Any money donated to local and community fire companies will not benefit the
full-time wildland firefighters like those that died on the South Canyon Fire.
It doesn't seem appropriate to closely link the two different, though both
quite worthy, types of firefighters as you do in your campaign.

Wildland firefighters like the ones that died at South Canyon don't fight
structure fires. They are often seasonal employees, and spend spring, summer,
and fall traveling across the country fighting wildfires. While local and
community fire companies may fight wildland fires, they are primarily
structural and rescue organizations, most often staying within their local

Firehouse.com is a good site to find out about local and community fire
companies, but there are much better sites for information on wildland
firefighters. May I suggest:
http://www.wildlandfire.com The Home of the Wildland Firefighter
http://www.nifc.gov The National Interagency Fire Center
http://www.fwfsa.org/ The Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
http://www.umt.edu/ccesp/global/nationalpage.php The Hotshot Crew Homepage
http://www.smokejumpers.com/ The National Smokejumper Association
http://oak.he.net/~ihogman/ihfa/ The International Helicopter Firefighters Association

Again, not to take away from local and volunteer fire companies, it still
seems more fitting to honor the fallen wildland firefighters at South Canyon
(and many other fires) with campaigns and information that directly address
their line of work.

Thanks for your time,
---------end e-mail----------------

Maybe those of us that are concerned could clue-gift the History Channel?
It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness, eh?

09/13 Dear Ab,
Thanks for helping us on your web page, our funds are low and
we appreciate everything you are doing to get the word out to our
community. I want to clear up one thing and that is while most of here
are volunteers, we have a real office now and a full time office person
who we pay. She loves her job so much, she should really be
paying us to work here, but we do pay her.
Thanks again
Vicki Minor

When I enquired early on as to what part of the donation dollar to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation got to the families, I heard "at least 95 cents worth". That's a very good track record in my estimation. Ab.
09/13 To Tahoe Terrie and everybody else.

Well it has been awhile since you have heard from me but things are now
moving on (refer to my posts signed Aussie CFU re Static Water Supply {SWS}
and Community Fire Units {CFU} in Aust. earlier this year from April or May
this year).

I have now been informed that my street will be given a fire box with its
equipment of: a fire fighting pump, hoses, Y valve, water pump packs, etc.
We will each eventually be issued with proban tm treated overalls, boots,
gloves, helmets, goggles & respirators. No neck shrouds or hoods.
It is important to remember that the context of this note is that we do NOT
go into bush, forest scrub etc to fight the fires. Our role is in property
protection at the wild land/urban interface and to assist the professionals.
However when all is said and done if were are the only ones to show up to
fight the fire then we do the best that we can with the limited equipment
and training provided. In my area we will not be at high altitudes and my
area of operation is probably limited to within 1 to 2 miles from home.
Chances of firestorm circumstances are fairly limited but not ruled out.

So my questions are these:
  1. What do you wear under your PPE as far as underwear, socks, t-shirts,
    etc. is concerned? I used to be involved in motor sport and the advice/rules
    was all cotton or natural fibre for underwear (I never did figure out what
    to do about the elastic in my underpants).
  2. What extra/non-standard equipment would you take i.e. pocket knife,
    Leatherman tool, torch - hand held or head/helmet mounted or on a sling,
    what type of canteen, harness or belt to carry equipment on, etc.
  3. What do you take with you for snacks and drinks on the fire line i.e.
    jerked meat, muesli bars, trail mix, snack packs of fruit, plain water,
    sports drinks, UHT milk, Dr. Peppers, mineral water ????
I have heard that Oz is going into the beginning of El Nino with no
significant amounts of rain until April or May next year. It sounds like we
are either 6 months ahead or behind you guys re drought conditions.

Regards to all, Stay safe, watch your backs, remember your 10/18 rules and
there were plenty of Aussies that remembered 9/11 with respect, admiration,
sorrow and tears.

Aussie CFU
09/13 Ab,

I've been a lurker on this site for several years and have enjoyed the
spirited discussions many times. I've also seen many posts where I thought,
what is this person talking about. I read how we are all in this together,
we're a brotherhood, we're all a family.
I've set in front of my computer many times reading the posts where
someone was injured or killed on a fire with a lump in my throat and tears
in my eyes just like so many others. I've had the great honor and privilege
to make numerous trips out west and maybe have worked along side of some of
you reading this post.
I was not going to get to go out West in 1994 but when the tragedy on Storm
King occurred I just had to be a part of that years campaign. The pain
inside was just so overwhelming I felt like I needed to just be a part of it
and help carry the load. I red carded and got out in late July and was
assigned to the Powell Ranger District in Idaho for 21 days.
My point to all of this rambling is after reading the post from Mellie this
morning I don't feel like a part of any brotherhood. Even though I have been
fighting fire for nearly 30 years and I have always tried to believe we were
all together when I see things like that I just don't understand.
I didn't get to choose the path of a fulltime wildland firefighter as most
you folks did but I was blessed with the ability to become a volunteer
firefighter in my home town. Living in the mountains in an Eastern state we
fight a lot of wildland fires during two separate fire seasons, spring and
fall. Granted, the fires are not as spectacular as the ones in the west and
nowhere as large but they still burn firefighters and firefighters die.
I read Mellies post several times to see if there was something I was
missing but I couldn't find it, I still don't understand it. It said the
money was going to local fire communities. In most places that I'm aware of,
the VFD'S and the local fire dept's are the initial response to fires
including wildland fires. If it escapes initial attack we call the Forest
Service and we stay and assist as long as needed.
I cried when Storm King occurred and I cried when 343 of my brothers died
in New York. I cried when the tankers went down, when the van rolled over,
when the engine crashed off the side of the mountain when the volunteers
died in the structural training. It goes on and on, bottom line is it hurts
when anyone in fire is hurt or killed so I don't care where the money goes
as long as it goes to fire.
In 2000 I was in the Bitterroots and met up with a smokejumper. When she
found out I was using my vacation to be a part of that years campaign her
comment was, that's why we fulltimers have a hard time getting work because
of people like you. I just thought I was helping. Brotherhood?

Signed: Just a firefighter.
09/13 I just got home yesterday after 3+ months at NIFC. I have a few pins
left and was going to give them along with the money ASAP. I will wait 1
more week to see if some folks want pins, but I will need email
verification before they send any money.


09/12 Ab,
I hope you'll post this and the promotional attachment (flyer) too.

I got this "flyer" in an e-mail this morning from a midwestern structural firefighter acquaintance. He wanted to know what was up with "Fire on the Mountain". He hadn't heard of it.

I read the public relations flyer and it made me cry with frustration. The Missoula Smokejumpers and Prineville Hotshots were not structural firefighters. What are these promoters thinking? How can they USE THIS STORY of one of our worst wildland tragedies without even acknowledging and naming WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS in some part of their donation program??? To my friends who are state firefighters, vollies, contractors, you know I appreciate you and what you contribute. However, this promotion is NOT FAIR. I am speaking up here for firefighters who work in the wildlands, far from the paved roads, in the woods, on the range and occasionally on the interface when needed. I am speaking of honoring those who died.

These promoters don't "have a clue" or else they just want a gimmick. The cynic in me asks, "Yeah, so we hear the Storm King story again. We cry again. What do we get out of it? What do wildland firefighters get out of it? Do we learn anything more? Anything more about safely? Does the public learn more about wildland firefighters and what we do and give?" The promoters didn't. Hmmmm, a story like this has lots of viewers. It sells advertising. The network makes money. Yeah, and the promoters want to appear as good guys. Donations and support for the "Fire Service"? <ooh> <ah> <admiring stares> <grateful comments from "local firehouses" many of which may be in cities> <pat> <pat on the back> <GAG>

Here's what I propose. Donate your money directly to the memorial for the Engine 11 Crew, to Kirk's family, or to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. In the case of the Foundation, it is non-profit and tax-deductable. We know almost all of that donation goes to WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS' families in need -- because the Foundation is operated by volunteers, including the director. Are BookSense.com et al non-profit? How much of the money they receive actually will go to the local firehouses? Do they first pay the promotional bills?

Make your donation count for wildland firefighters.
One more thing: We need a Wildland Firefighter Series. Enough of the Forestry Tech and Range Tech stuff!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~the flyer~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A fundraiser to benefit local firehouses, sponsored by BookSense.com, Washington Square Press, and The History Channel, producers of the docu-movie Fire on the Mountain.

What is Fire on the Mountain?
On October 28, 2002, The History Channel, the popular cable network seen in over 81 million homes, will air their original docu-movie, Fire on the Mountain, based on the critically acclaimed bestseller, Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire by John N. Maclean.

What is the Campaign for Communities Firefighter Fundraiser?
In honor of the documentary, and to demonstrate their commitment to local fire services, independent bookstore members of the Book Sense national marketing program are partnering with The History Channel in a fundraising effort to benefit local firefighters. From September 9 through October 25, money will be collected in independent bookstores around the country, earmarked for local volunteer and community fire companies. One community will be recognized for its dedication to this cause with an award of $2,500 from The History Channel and co-sponsor Washington Square Press.

What can you do to help?
Visit your local independent bookstore and add your donation to the fireman's boot (or other container displayed by the store). To find your local store with Book Sense use our Advanced Store Search link above. Help Book Sense, The History Channel, and Washington Square Press raise the most money possible, for the largest possible number of fire companies. One community company will receive the $2,500 award based on its outreach--help make it yours.

Thank You!

Fireman's Boot is unlikely to be a White or a Nicks. That says it all. Ab.

09/12 Hey Ab.,

Since it's a little slow on the board these late Summer days, could
I get you to place this brief memo on They Said? I'm looking for a high
quality GS-7 Dispatcher. It's flying both Demo and Merit Promotion.
All info including applications and position description can be found at
this link: http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/plumas/pnf_employment/index.phpl.
The job wide open to all applicants and is definitely NOT wired!
The Demo closing is on 9/20, the merit promotion is open until 10/4. The
applications state as such, but the sub-title on the page does not.

Thanks much,
09/12 Ab ....... here is information on Kirk. 9/11 was a double sad day for
many ........

Kirk Smith, the Mormon Lake Hotshot Superintendent passed away in the
early morning hours of 9/11 after an incredible battle with cancer. His family
was with him. He leaves behind his wife Jessie, three girls, Kyla, Kayla,
and Madison who just celebrated her first birthday. He also leaves his
father, Doc, a retired Forest Service employee, his mother and a brother
and sister.

Services for Kirk will be at the Elks Lodge, 2101 N. San Francisco Street,
in Flagstaff on Monday, September 16th at 1:00. Following the services
there will be a procession to the cemetery with a graveside service. We
are encouraging everyone to participate in the procession and agency
vehicles are appropriate.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Smith Benefit
Fund at any Bank of America. The account number is #4651609238.

Please send cards to:
The Smith Family
3212 N Patterson
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004

Kirk spent his entire career on the Mormon Lake Hotshots, starting out as a
crewmember and working his way to Superintendent. He was highly respected
and a very good friend to many in the wildland firefighting world. He will
be deeply missed.

Cathie Zettler
09/12 Ab,

The services for Kirk Smith are on Monday, that's all I know for now. I'll
let the community know more as I learn it.

I did receive a check for $5,000 and a statue from the "Wildland Firefighter
Foundation" to give to his family. I would really like to put a good word in for
that foundation. They are one of the only foundations that take care of injured
or fallen firefighters. If someone wants to send donations to them the
address is 1310 Vista Ave. suite 22, Boise ID 83705. I personally have given
the foundation funds and I am helping sell pins working with Vicki Minor, the

There is also a bank account that has been set up in Kirk's name. I will get the
info. and get it to you right away.

To bad I didn't get the T-Shirt collection sold and given the proceeds to Kirk's family.
I am still working on some ideas for the collection. I will send more info as I get


See the message above for more info on the services, etc. For everyone's information, we have a link to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation on the Classifieds page. Ab.

09/12 Our thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of Kirk Smith as well
as the Mormon Lake Hotshots and the rest of the wildland firefighting
community. I know he will be hugely missed.

Colorado Mom
09/12 There is a credible rumor that CDF is likely to face a cut of $20 to 66
million dollars.

If true, this would be a HUGE cut that would probably result in station and
camp closures. We are already paired back to the bone. How can we
protect the public without necessary resources?

When someone hears budget specifics, would you please let us know.

09/12 I am interested in doing the national contract in wildland firefighting for a
type 6 engine. I need a contact.

I am currently doing the region 6 contracting and I want to move up to the
national level.


09/12 Ab and All,

I'm looking for any information on a fatality that occurred in July of 1962
on what was then called the Paskanta District of the Mendocino National
Forest. Information we do have is that it occurred on a fire, when a tree
hit the individual and killed him. It's real strange, but the forest has
absolutely no info on this. There were numerous fires on the Forest during
the time period, but if anyone knows the fire name or can give any info as
to location please contact me.

You can email me at tcaves@fs.fed.us or call 530-934-1162.

09/11 Hi Ab...
A dear friend of mine from Australia (and fellow wildland firefighter) sent this to me this morning.
It really touched me and I wanted to share it with everyone.
HI - just a short email to say hi and that we are thinking of you today. I have taken a
photo of the small tribute we did at our office today where I work. Narelle

I think that it is truely amazing to realize the friendship and support we have world wide.

Thanks WX. Readers, Narelle (from Australia) sent a pic of an American flag hanging in her office entranceway, candles burning and a bear. Unfortunately I am not in a place where I can work on photos for posting. Ab.

09/11 We have lost a brother in fire today with the passing of Kirk Smith ..he
passed away this am in Az...he will be missed by a lot of fire folks...


Kirk Smith was the Mormon Lake Hotshot Superintendent. Good guy. We will miss him. Thanks to those who donated leave time. Ab.
09/11 Yesterday it was warm in Northern California, had a few small fires but the
one that got everyone's attention was a 20 acre fire in the Oakland Hills.
As you will remember they burned in October, 1991. Over 1000 homes were
burned and some 25 people died in the blaze. Yesterday's fire sure sparked
a big response from CDF, no local engines went out of county.
My thoughts are with the families of all the Americans who were murdered
last year in New York, Washington D.C. and the brave citizens on Flight 93,
BLESS them all.
Still some fire left in the beast this year, be careful out there!
09/11 Question: Are any of the "pins" still available out there? I've given
away the last of what I bought.
Be safe.

Old Fire Guy

Jim Evans sold the pins (bearing the image seen on the WTC and Pentagon photo page). I don't know if he has any more left. Another person wrote in asking about them as well, but didn't have a reply-to email addy. Hey Jim, got any more Sept 11 pins? Ab.
09/11 Hi Ab,
I have this link for you that you might find of some interest, its about the fire shelter issue that Jim Roth has been
working on. www.rockymountainnews.com

I also wanted to find out the cost for advertising on your great web page.


He did keep the fire shelter issue alive, a tribute to his brother. Ab.
09/11 MOC4546 wrote: <<..... <snip> .....He worked very hard for his Unit, but the unit kept playing the "we'll make you permanent next season, just hang on". He came to work for my fed department and did real good job and will be picked up soon by a better, larger FD. >>

I am wracking my brain, but have yet to come up with a California Fire Dept. which is either "larger" or "better". Could anyone help me out?

I am not blind to the faults of CDF, in fact I have my own problems with them, but other than another wildland firefighting agency such as the USFS, I cannot think of a Fire Department which could compare favorably. I worked many years as a structural firefighter (Orange County Fire Dept. when it was staffed entirely by CDF personnel - I was a "trucker" on an 85-ft. Snorkel then a 100-ft. ladder the whole time.) When Orange County went "County", I left because I wanted to fight fire, and no firefighters anywhere fight more fire than wildland firefighters. There may be other measures of "better", which are subjective, but they would have to be pretty contrived to result in any non-wildland agency being rated "better". And, as far as "larger", an objective measure, who could that possibly be?

CDF Mike from Arroyo Grande
09/10 Hello All,

Here we are on the eve of September 11, a day etched indelibly in all our minds. In the first days following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC, five of our wildland fire Interagency Incident Management Teams went to assist. Stutler's PNW Team 3, Bateman's Southwest Team, Dash's Alaska IIMT, and Lohrey's PNW Team 2 worked in NYC and Gage's California IIMT 3 at the Pentagon. They were called heroes -- in a time when our country desperately needed them to be heroes. They made us proud and reassured us all. As those in our fire community know, when asked, they have said they were just doing their jobs and that they felt it an honor.

At wildlandfire.com we have a photo page dedicated to the tragedy at the World Trade Center. Stutler's team also has a website record as does CIIMT3. Since the Pentagon is a military installation, information on that attack was less available. Thus we have had no page here to honor those who died there.

As this Sept 11 anniversary approached, this Ab felt a need to create such a page. Elizabeth Cavasso, FMO on the Modoc National Forest and team member on CIIMT 3, served at the Pentagon in the two weeks following the attack. She kept a journal and took some pictures. We asked if she'd be willing to share them with us. We are honored that she agreed.

To read her Pentagon Story, go HERE. The photos are on our new September 11th Pentagon Photo Page. Scroll up from those and take a look at the World Trade Center Photos as well. (You can link to the incident management team websites from HERE.)

Read, view, reflect. Hug your friends and family members. Let them know you love and appreciate them. We appreciate you all. Thank you Liz (and thanks DM for the WTC photos last September).
09/10 Hi, my name is Diane Shiffer. I am Steve Oustad’s sister. He was one of the three firefighters that recently lost their lives on the Stanza Fire. On behalf of their families and fellow firefighters in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, I would like to ask for your help.

We are trying to raise funds for a modest memorial erected in their honor at the Almanor Ranger Station in Chester. Our proposal is to create a peaceful park-like setting intended for the firefighters and public viewing that will bring together the community they worked with. This design will have three symbolic stone memorials with plaques and benches for reflection, each representing a fallen firefighter.

We already have some commitments from businesses and individuals for time and materials, including firefighters wishing to donate their own time and labor. Anything that you can offer will be greatly appreciated, such as: financial aid, materials, or labor, which can bring this design into reality. We feel this will help all of us to work through our tragic loss and bring firefighters closer together for years to come. It is our hope you will find it in your hearts to donate to this worthy cause.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding this project or how you can help at (408) 330-1715 or through my email address: diane.shiffer@idt.com

Diane Shiffer

Financial donations can be sent to:

Almanor Employee Association Firefighter Memorial Fund
c/o Plumas Bank
P.O. Box 588
Chester, CA 96020

Worthy cause. Ab.
09/10 The Jobs page and wildland firefighter jobs Series 462 and 455 are updated.

The Current Fires 2002 page is also up to date. Fewer fires burning and fewer with web pages.

Readers, as you need fire-related items this fall, please remember to browse and order from our sponsor businesses (click their banner) and those listed on our Classifieds Page. We appreciate their support.

If you want to buy a book or anything else that Amazon sells (from computers to home and garden supplies!), please enter through the Amazon.com banner on our Fire Books Page. Wildlandfire.com also gets a small commission on those sales.


09/09 Hi All,

Sorry to harp on CDF again, but I hope that some of you CDF'ers out there can get this message to the people who make the decisions.

An engineer I worked with who left CDF to work at my department as an engineer recently found out that he was going to be picked up by a Major Bay Area FD. This man worked for CDF for 8 seasons in a Bay Area Ranger Unit and worked his way up to LT Engineer. For those who don't know how CDF plays games with its seasonal fire people, this man was working eight months as a Firefighter I, then four months as an LT. Engineer. He worked very hard for his Unit, but the unit kept playing the "we'll make you permanent next season, just hang on". He came to work for my fed department and did real good job and will be picked up soon by a better, larger FD.

You administrative people lost another good firefighter because you manipulate your people and don't get them into the permanent slots quickly enough. I thought things would have changed over the last 15 years since I worked for the organization, but in fact it has gotten worse. CDF has all these permanent engineer and captain positions that are coming up from retirements and transfers but you keep leaving the good people out in the cold. I know the State has a serious budget crisis right now because of "Gubenor" Davis' mismanagement and incompetence.

I hope someone in the CDF hierarchy sees this and gets the message. You are going to continue to lose people to other departments if you continue these dishonorable games you play with people's careers.

To my friend, good luck in that new department. You worked hard to get there and you deserve the rewards your about to receive.

To the CDF overhead: Shame On YOU!!!


09/09 From Firescribe:

More info on the Redding smokejumper who broke his leg in Colorado at the end of the article.

09/09 Folks,

Any information on health insurance options for seasonal USFS employees would be greatly appreciated. My daughter was covered (as a student) under my policy, but now that she is working a full hotshot season and not going back to school this fall, she no longer qualifies.

09/08 From my neck of the NorCal woods.. Some comments

"Wood smoke is the perfume of the West,
part of the natural cycle of growth, death,
and renewal."

and one very good idea for what to do with the smaller trees that result from thinning:

"In the hamlet of Hayfork, Calif., just 90 miles
south of the Biscuit Fire, Lynn Jungwirth
leads a group that has taken on the first part
of this challenge: weeding out the small
trees at least cost. Her crew developed a
miniature yarder, a machine to pull logs out
of the forest."


NorCal Tom

09/08 From Firescribe, some Sunday reading - not on the firenews page...

Firefighters Burn Calories Like Triathletes

How fires may forge truce in 'timber wars'

09/08 to WP - your comments on keeping copies of personal records are truly a "nugget of gold" for all firefighters, young and old!! I've still got my first-ever red card from 1967, and it may be a critical link to establishing my firefighter's retirement in the Federal system.

Spend the 5 cents at Kinkos/Staples, etc and make copies of red cards, fire evaluations, training certificates, resource orders and anything else that shows what training you had, what you were qualified as, and what you actually did. Give copies to boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, significant others, etc .....and put a copy in your safety deposit box, too!

The years go by quickly, fire managers at your local unit move away or retire, and your quals and good deeds are quickly forgotten; the records you keep will be important to you long after the smoke has cleared....!


09/07 Condolences to the families of the pilot, nurse and paramedic of the Mercy Air (Bell 222) helo that went down today. These folks have often airlifted our injured firefighters to hospitals.


Tahoe Terrie

09/07 Sammi,
It does stink!
The MN DNR routinely did that for years and still does to some extent.
Borderline illegal employment practice. Probably violates Federal law but no one enforces that on States...only private employers and then only rarely.
What really sucks is that they kept hundred of our firefighters around on "unpaid" standby this way when the west was screaming for fresh troops. It eventually came around to bite them though as it forced the most serious and experienced firefighters to look for work in other states and not even bother with MN.
What goes around comes around.

The red card system was never intended to be a way for employers to "button hole" firefighters. Its abuse cuts its legitimacy. I hope it does not degrade the system. A year or two ago I brought this up and was told there was some sort of national red card registry in the works. What ever became of that? Why is issuing red cards totally up to employers? This leaves large holes for red card shenanigans.


09/07 The Biscuit/Sourdough/Florence, and others are now part of our firefighting
history. Was it ordained to be or could these fires have been just part of
the annual statistics? Here are some questions that an interested person
might want to ask:
  • How were GAAC priorities really established? Attacking the fires didn't
    become a priority until it was too late.
  • Is there really interagency, intraagency, an interstate cooperation?
  • Where there really no jumpers (R6 or R5) or rappelers available when the
    fires first discovered?
  • Was there a CDF ATGS with an airtanker at scene over the Biscuit (2) and
    Sourdough fires when they were very small which was not allowed to drop in
  • Did an R5 engine actually drive arrive at the Sourdough fire and return
    without taking action because it was in R6?
  • Why does R6 require a Lead to drop all airtankers? What is the ATGS role?
  • Why is retardant limited by management "allocation"? Should we limit the
    amount of water pumped from engines?
  • Where there problems with crews not "engaging" fires due to inappropriate
    interpretation of the "disengagement policy"?
  • What made the Apple fire a non-emergency so helicopters were restricted
    from using the adjacent river for a water supply during initial attack?
    Did it become an emergency after it escaped IA?
  • Was CA involvement limited in SW Oregon because contingency plans were in
    place for a CA assist to protect federal powerlines keeping the CA air
    conditioners running?
These questions are food for thought. I'm concerned that the business of
managing firefighting has forgotten that the word fight is in the label.
Also that cooperation is spoken with one hand in a king's X behind the back.
The fire community has good communication links, I haven't sat around
dreaming stuff up to stir the pot. Maybe we need to look in the mirror and
face ourselves.
09/07 Re: Red card possession

Three years ago one of our kids worked for A State Agency and they held the red cards and did not give them to the guys until the season was over so the guys could not quit and go to another employer. Yes, they asked several times for their cards and kept getting the run-around. Alas, in Nov when everyone was sent home, they were handed their cards. May be the way things are done but sorta stinks..........

09/07 Ab and all,

I have not visited the site for several days and am coming in late on the
redcard discussion. I would like to offer one bit of advice: When moving
from unit to unit, contractor to contractor, bring all your training records,
certificates, old red cards, taskbooks (completed and otherwise) and any
thing else you may have (experience records) to your new unit and job. They
do not follow you automatically, if lost they are gone FOREVER! Be
aggressive and insist on your records before you leave a unit. It is up to
each individual to keep track of his or her training and experience during a
move. AND never ever give the originals out, ONLY COPIES!!!!!

09/07 I would like to thank the Gasquet Ranger District in Gasquet California.. We
had a wonderful stay there when we

were down there. They are all about making
people right at home. R5 is a wonderful place to go and work with they are
very understanding..

If any of you from gasquet read this look me up ..

S&L # 3

09/07 Heard there was a jumper who broke something in Colorado. Anyone know more?


Take a look at the Fire News Page. There's an article there. Ab.

09/07 The Biscuit Fire website has some excellent BAER photos up. The fire is contained. If you haven't visited, they have a fine photo gallery overall.


09/07 Federal Wildland Firefighters: (Re: Portal to Portal)

Good things are on the horizon... but lets squelch any rumors before they start (or spread).

There are two places that can give you accurate info once a relevant bill or action by an agency passes, they

1. www.FWFSA.org Federal Wildland Fire Service Assoc. (IAFF Local F-0262)

2. www.wildlandfire.com Ab will make sure the info is correct when it comes available or where the truth
can be found.

If you have any questions, please contact any of the FWFSA reps or Directors on the http://www.fwfsa.org web

The President and his staff are currently on fire assignments and will update the FWFSA Page, the Newsgroup,
and the FOLKS HERE as soon as they return.


Lurking out there wherever ya are, eh? Ab.
09/06 Mellie, give me a shout out. I've had a massive meltdown of this terminal and lost everything that I had in the hard drive.

Abby, please holler at me also, I have been so busy fighting politicians here that I only get to be online for a few minutes when I get the chance. Our latest misadventure is that the nearby FD that we do mutual aid for has decided that from now on they will only assist if we pay them $485.00 per call. I don't think so.

Later, Keith

What are they going to pay you for your assistance? Ab.
09/06 There are many rumors going around that the portal-to-portal bill that
FWFSA is pushing through congress has recently passed. Can anyone
confirm this or verify any recent information???

Laguna Hotshot Capt.
09/06 Someone said that the Portal to Portal bill of today is not the one that FWFSA proposed.

I haven't seen it and

don't know details but have heard that the bill (originally being introduced by Senator Pombo) has been severely modified: people make more or less money based on their grade - and the hazard pay portion has really changed. The person telling me about it - as he sashayed thru camp - said we should scrap it and start over again.

I'd rather not get my exercise by jumping to conclusions.
Does anyone know the hard details?

NorCal Tom

09/06 Old Fire Guy

I salute your time and work. I know how hard it can be to hang it up, or at least ratchet it down a
click or two. Never fear, others are there to continue and there are other jobs to be done.

09/06 Ab,

Wanted to thank Mollysboy, Dana and Oddie for their replies concerning my red card issue. Especially Dana who offered knowledge and advice via email. And you too ;)


I'm sharing your woes. Maybe if Ab puts up a contractor page, he can set up a survey for people who visit to "rate" those contractors as employers (har!).

09/06 Ab,

I have HAD it!!!! What is with this R5 fire web??? Fires are burning and we can't even access the South Ops or North ops sites! I have tried every which way and this morning it is FUBAR! How long does it take the web people to get it right??? It's been like this for MONTHS! Ab, you say the fs web is being upgraded and to be patient. Why is R5 Fire the only web with major access problems - or haven't I surfed enuf?

Yeah, and we're told that R5 Fire is the leader, R5 does it first and right. BS! Get someone on the computer webmaster job who is competent and get the problem FIXED. Heavens knows what we would do if we had a REAL emergency and we all know what date is approaching!

Think of all the R5 fed fire people being paid to do all the work and get it out there to the public, to the media and to fire professionals. BIG BUCKS! And people can't be guaranteed they can see it. Think of all the needless phone calls to fire camp info guys? If the fire info is on the web, it can be viewed rather than tying up PIO time! I just don't get it??? We're a "can do" crew in fire, what's with the web stuff? CAN'T DO, CAN'T DO! This is frustrating and makes us look bad. (Ab, can you bold that?)

Sorry for the outburst Ab, but this BS would be tolerated only in government and in non-emergency situations. I think I'll call a reporter I know in Sacramento...

Sign me "Simply trying to get R5 fire info"

Simply, this has been an ongoing problem. Anyone have an update on whether or when this will be fixed? Clearly, workarounds are not doing the job. Ab.

09/06 "Old Fire Guy",

I agree completely with the thoughts of someone who has also "been there
and done that". After nearly 28 years of fighting the red stuff for Federal,
State and now, Local agencies, I sometimes feel like throwing in the towel
when it comes to putting up with the #@*&%! that gets thrown at us from
those folks that seem to have forgotten what it was like to run an engine
company. When it seems to get too much, miraculously, we have a response
or incident that gets the juices flowing again and some young guy will
perform his job just like you taught him to and all is well again!

I recently had an uphill hoselay and the buff young dude on the nozzle looked
back at me and was surprised to find me right on his heals when he expected
me to be fighting my way up the hill. That was one of the times when all of
the "bad" things about this job were forgotten and I remembered why it is
truly the best profession in the world. I told him that I'll continue to push his
young butt up the hills, but my recovery time will just be slightly longer
than his.

Enjoy your recovery time "Old Fire Guy".
A Southern California Captain

09/06 Ab, What is a person to do?

I work for the state of Montana, as a Engine Boss / ITC4. We just had a good rain, and the state has a budget problem. I will be laid off soon, and need work. With all the fires, and with 2 or months of fire season left, you would think you could find work. The problem is that when you are not attached to a organization you can not get picked except with a contractor. Now this would be all right, what you need is a page for contractors like your FireJobs link.

Keep up the good work. I check you out every night when I come in.

09/06 old fire guy--- hang in there!

Lot's of good jobs in Planning & logistics or Ops planning. The bug bit me & just returned from a great assignment in Arizona in plans.

old ranger
09/05 Here's a good one on what homeowners can do in our area of MT. Would work elsewhere:



09/05 Fedfire,
It was 60 Minutes that had the good piece on van rollover. A friend called to tell me to turn it on. I thought of the Ferguson folks. I just hate legal finagling, but the manufacturers know there's a problem with those vans. Maybe Ferguson should see if there's any kind of class action suit to come out of this whole thing. How else does one call big business to adhere to safety over profit?

Thanks RxFire for the NPS FUM link.
09/05 Cross our fingers for the budget. I found this on the fire news page...


Last week, Bush requested an extra $825 million to battle this year's wildfires,
one of the worst outbreaks on record. A bipartisan group of senators led by
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., proposed language Wednesday that would
provide that money, and it is expected to sail through the Senate.

Tahoe Terrie

09/05 Caught part of 60 minutes last night (I think, it might have been 20/20), anyway they had a
segment on the safety of extended 15 person vans, from the research and testing they covered
these vans have 3-4 times the roll over rate of standard length full size vans and they are
particularly dangerous when fully loaded (as would be the case if used for a crew buggy). They
showed testing of the Ford E-350 which is the most popular, but also said that the Dodge had
similar results. The Chevrolet / GMC has a longer wheel base and is supposed to be safer than
the Ford or Dodge but it was not tested. I thought this might be of interest to some here since
extended vans are commonly used as Crew carriers and from what was shown these vans have some
serious safety issues, it also mentioned that the Ford vans don't even meet Fords own internal
standards for roll over occurrence. I don't know if they rerun these episodes but if you use one
of the vans it might be worth watching for.

not sure what the deal is with your redcard, but I would be more concerned with your training
records. I've worked on Forests that collected redcards at the end of each season and issued a
new one the following year, and others that didn't want them back so I don't know that the
employer keeping them is that unusual. It doesn't really matter as long as you have your
training records / Task books, as long as you have copies of these an employer can issue you a
new redcard, never give up your training records / Task books, give them copies, but keep the

CDF wife,
yes other agencies run with one person on an engine, no it is not a safe practice and goes
against NFPA standards but many rural areas do so anyway. One of the positive features of the
Feds is staffing, minimum staffing is 4 on a structure engine, 3 on a wildland engine, the
larger wildland engines (Type 3) are usually staffed with 4 or 5 depending on the region and
agency. Staffing has been an issue for many years and will probably continue to be one for a
long time, it does look like CDF may finally be getting ahead in this area but there are others
here that would be more knowledgeable on that topic.

09/05 As a private contractor, i feel that once a Personal I.D. card is issued (red
card) and handed to the firefighter it is theirs to carry with them. do I ask for
them back at the end of the season? no, it belongs to them. what good will it do
me? I know many contractors ask for them back at the end, just don't
understand why.

09/05 Hi Ab.

I have 2 JPEGs of the smokeheaders, is that the right word, of the Curve Fire and the Leona Fire. These photos were taken from the Northeast San Fernando Valley within 2 hours of the fire's starting.

The photo of the Curve fire is looking due east from my house and the Leona fire is looking northeast.

My brother was working the Freeway fire when the Curve fire started.

Hope it's OK for a non-fire fighter to submit photos.


Thanks PC. I put them on the Fire 13 page. Those columns are impressive. Ab.
09/05 From Firescribe, some stats on the Curve Fire as of this morning:

The fire has burned 17,032 acres and is 15% contained. It's established in the Bear Creek Drainage and has spread into the San Gabriel Wilderness on the west, the Sheep Mountain Wilderness on the east, and has spotted across Hwy 2 (Angeles Crest Hwy) to the north. It is expected to grow in those directions.
72 buildings have been destroyed, 69 were special use cabins, 3 were FS buildings. Structure protection is present.
1708 personnel are working on the fire: 14 type 1 crews, 25 type 2 crews
Containment objectives are challenging due to steep inaccessible terrain. Winds are 10-20mph.

Be safe. Ab.
09/05 Good Morning All,
We have a couple of updates.

Check out the new photo of the Biscuit Fire on our Home page (also on the Wallpaper photo page). This photo is compliments of Kris who took it with an instant camera. Kris sent in some other photos as well.

We've created a new Biscuit Fire photo page to our collection of Fires by Name. (The dropdown menu will be updated shortly.) To show topography of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and add some more flavor, we have temporarily included pics from DF, taken by a hotshot crew who fought fire in the area last summer. Photos of coyote camp, helo bucket work, air tanker drops, etc are added to Kris' flame photos. You can see how steep and wild the terrain is. Thanks to Kris and DF and Firehorse for the treat. If you have photos from the Sour Biscuit, Florence, Biscuit Fires to add, send them in.

We also rearranged the Fire 11 photo page to include Bill Tichenor's photo that shows how the defensible space around his home near Walker CA saved it from the fury of the Cannon Fire. Check out the dramatic photo. Bill and his family have made a poster of it to share with interface residents to encourage them to create such space for themselves. If the public only knew the good that could come from such an action.

09/04 firewhirl,

That's a horse of a different color. I think it is very odd that your (former) employer is acting this way. Were you fired? Did you quit? Are you still working for them?

I don't see any way for you to get your red card if they don't want to cooperate. I assume you have asked them nicely and they have refused. Establishing that it is yours would be expensive and take so long the season would be over before you were able to do so through legal action. If they have refused verbally I would suggest it may be worth sending a Certified letter requesting it be turned over to you since by retaining it they are preventing you from earning a living. Give them 5 days or a week to turn it over to you or reply to you stating the basis for failing to do so. This will prevent a "they never asked for it" defense later. You may wish to contact your states employment service but don't expect any real help there. They may be able to tell you if this practice is illegal in your state or you may get real lucky and someone there may make a call to the employer on your behalf.

Seems like a stupid and petty move on their part and certainly creates a liability of suit for lost wages. If you have been offered a job but are unable to take it because you have no red card at the very least document it to give yourself some options later.

I think if you have documentation of training and experience any new employer should be able to get you a duplicate red card even though it is a PITA at this point in the season. But I could be wrong. If the (former) employer has withheld your training records as well it may be time to see a lawyer if you can't get duplicates elsewhere. (I hate it when I have to say that.)

Feel free to contact me directly. I am not a lawyer but may be able to help. At the very least I would like to hear the full story so I can determine for sure if the contractor is being unethical or if it is a legitimate misunderstanding. If it is a misunderstanding I may be able to mediate. If the contractor is unethical I want to be sure not to send any of the firefighters I help get fire jobs their way.


09/04 Been working with a lot of contractors and "wannabees" this Spring and Summer, and the Red-card issue keeps surfacing. Bottom line - the red card is someone (or some organization) verifying to the rest of the world that you meet the minimum qualifications, training and experience mandated by 310-1.

Me (and my professional liability underwriter) want no part of things that we don't know to be 100% true, beyond a reasonable doubt!! If I haven't hand-carried you through S-130/190, Standards, required advanced training and the Pack Test, I'm really hanging out when I issue a red card saying you're "qualified" for any position. It's all about Accountability, especially when something goes wrong.

A quick analogy: anyone ever got their local state driver's license bureau to give you a CDL, school bus license or multi-passenger van license just because "I had one in Louisiana several years ago".

There are serious legal implications involved with issuing a red card, and reluctance to pass them out (even to former employees) is understandable.

I'll gladly give you a "Training Verification" yellow card that says you sat in my class for required time, and met the minimum requirements to pass a course; beyond that, No Way!

For those of us that believe that we need to eliminate the "good ole Boy" and "grandfather" concepts of getting fire quals, the current red card/Task book system is a real positive move that insures competency and accountability. Firewhirl, Hope you can resolve your red card quandry succesfully - you'll need it for next season...!


09/04 Well, I'm recently back from Oregon where I enjoyed some of the Biscuit
(and gravy). Truly a remarkable event......and an endpoint for me. I've
taken my last assignment "on the line" and could not have had a better
place or occasion. It's been a span of 30+ years since my first fire (also
in Oregon) and I've had fun every step of the way. I'll continue to be
involved in fire for several more years, but I'll not be back on the line.
I'll also continue to offer my thoughts to this website.

Some observations....the firefighters today are better trained, better
equipped and in better overall physical condition. If I had to cling to
one belief in favor of us oldtimers it would be that we were "tougher" and
put up with less amenities such as showers, hot meals, tents, etc., but
that could be because of memory and ego.

I'm very pleased with the renewed commitment to safety, and am confident
that the people working the fires, whether on the line or in support, are
the best in the world. As for me, I'll be holding my grandson on a
summer's day, rather than a drip torch.

Old Fire Guy

You better keep up with us here. Any "Just One More Time" thoughts? Hmmmmm, still need to compile that ol'timers thread into a page. Ab.
09/04 Dana,

Thanks for the reply. Here's the rough one though: we were never physically handed our red cards. I did actually see them change hands between management one day. This was halfway through an assignment.

Maybe the question I should be asking is: what are the accepted practices concerning red cards, and how are they regulated?

09/04 firewhirl,

You mean they demanded it back?
Possession is 9/10th of the law is not only an old "saw" it is a legal principal dating back to the days of Olde England. If you were given the red card and signed nothing to indicate that you agreed it was to remain the property of the contractor and given back upon demand...it's yours.

Look at it this way...if they want it back they can sue. It will have to be small claims court...and will cost them $30+ to do so. They must also do it in the jurisdiction you reside in. They will look like asses and lose. You will have an interesting 20 minutes in court. I imagine that they may not rehire you if you decide to keep it. But any employer that wants their red card back may not be worth working for anyway.

Why in the world would they want it back? "It may not be legit" is what first comes to my mind. I know at least one state that has provided fake red cards for firefighters and some unscrupulous contractors may as well. They may simply not want the evidence "out there". In which case they MAY hire you back if you keep the red card as they certainly don't want the Feds finding out they have been defrauding them. It might not end their ability to contract but it would sure put them way down on the "call list".

In any case...absent a signed document that acknowledges it's theirs...it's yours. But remember it expires after a year...so will do you no good next season. More important are the records of any training you received and employment as a firefighter. Make certain you have copies of those! If the employer refuses to provide those to you it would definitely smell fishy.


09/04 R.T.,
The 18/8 schedule simply means that of the 26 pay periods a year, someone who is 18 & 8 is guaranteed to
work 18 pay periods, and be laid off a maximum of 8. You do keep your benefits, with the option to pay your
health insurance premiums month by month, or have them taken out of your paycheck once you return to pay
status. Depending on where you work, the work load, and of course the budget, you may be held to your 18 & 8,
or you may work more.
Hope this info helps.
09/04 Ab,

I have a question concerning red cards: Does a firefighter have any legal claim to his/her own red card that was issued by a contractor after employment ends with that contractor?

Thanks for any info/advice you might have on the matter.

09/04 The Jobs page and wildland firefighter jobs Series 462 and 455 were updated yesterday.

The Current Fires 2002 page was updated also. Ab.

09/04 I was looking for information regarding the 18/8 schedule that the USFS has. How does this schedule work and do the firefighters keep their benefits when they are not working?

09/03 NorCal-

A brush fire started at about 5 this evening just east of Whitmore CA (near Redding) in Shasta Co. Incident is called the Squirrel Fire. It got into the timber and took off. Spotting up to half a mile. One spotfire in Cow Creek Canyon was 75 acres at 7:30PM. The main fire was 200 acres at that time. Oak Run is closed to Fern Rd and Whitmore Rd. Some people are being evacuated. There was a report at 11:15PM of trees down across Fern Rd East at Two Ponds Road.

Be safe, winds are 15-20 blowing toward the North, but usually shift North to South after dark. CDF Team 1 is transitioning in (Whitmore CDF Station) at midnight.

09/03 Hi,

My name is Bill Tichenor and after much looking I discovered your website with references to the Cannon Fire in Walker, CA. I was amazed to see your photographs of the fire - especially the cannon 6 of the fire on (Fire 11 photo page) before it came down into the town of Walker. Our house has the unique distinction of being the furthest up the canyon - the last house you get to while driving, but the first house the fire met as it came roaring down the canyon towards town. You can barely see the house just right of center near the bottom of the picture above the trees under the hill.

I wrote a story of the event and took some pictures of the aftermath. You can find the story if you go to the following: http://www.creekbed.com/firestorm.php

Do you have or do you know anyone who has any other photographs of the Cannon Fire - especially as it came down into the town? I was too busy to take any, as were most of the people I know.

Thanks for any help.

Your link requires IE Version 5+ or Netscape Version 6+. Check back, Bill, as firefighters come home after the season. People will be developing film and sending photos in. Ab.

09/03 I was looking for information regarding the 18/8 schedule that the USFS has. How does this schedule work and do the firefighters keep their benefits when they are not working?

09/03 Mellie asked:
"I'm still working on my homework assignment. When's the test?"

There's always a test, it's just that with fire the test often comes before
the lesson.

Open-book BLM Bob
09/03 To CDF wife:
I work for a city fd in Md. We go out driver only every day. We run approx.
1800 calls a year with no EMS. We have been trying for years, make that
decades to increase staffing. Our skills have to be the best that there is,
due to the fact that we have to do so much with so little. It's nothing for
us to go to a car fire, dumpster fire, accident, wildland fire, etc, all by
ourselves. On a typical house fire during the day during the week, we have 9
people. Yes, there are other municipalities that are at great risk for a law
suit if someone dies in the line of duty. With the new standards out there,
NFPA 1710, 2-in, 2-out, etc. the policy makers are really hanging out their
rear end. The politicians don't want to raise taxes, for fear of not being
reelected, but every Joe Q Public that we have talked to said that they would
gladly pay an extra tax if it went for public safety only. Now we all know
what will happen to the money as it shrinks coming down the line, so who
knows how much will finally get to the street level where it's really needed.
Our IAFF local has gotten more politically active within the past 2 years,
and has seen some benefits. Our next step in the next 6 months is to get the
politicians to our training center and get them dressed up in PPE and let
them do what we do every day and convince them that we need more people.
Hopefully it will help. I could go on and on, but this is a wildland site,
not a structural site.

Here is a good question for someone out there, what happens to the old
shot crew buggies?

Re:The O'Toole method of wildland fire suppression." in which fires should be allowed to burn unchecked on
forests but be contained on the edges of the federal lands".

This guy needs to be invited to a spot in front of a "fre burning" wildfire as he has obviously never seen one
close up or tried to contain an unchecked one at a predetermined "imaginary" line like the borders of federal
land. One of the things that he has no concept of is the horror at seeing your fire line breached by embers or
firebrands tossed high into the air by fire generated convective air currents and spread far and wide by winds.
How wide a fireline would we need with his fire management plan and how would we make it? "Rings of
firefighters digging firelines" would simply not work. Rings of D8 cats might...nah. Can you imagine attempting
to 'doze a line wide enough to stop a "free burning" crown fire dead in its' tracks...or how much it would cost?

I am sure most experienced wildfire fighters have seen spot fires up to a quarter mile beyond the fireline
caused by raining embers. Verifiable reports of spot fires several miles beyond the fireline lead me to believe
that a quarter mile wide fireline could not be depended upon to hold a "free burning" wildfire. The cost of
constructing such a fireline would quickly erase any supposed savings of implementing the plan he describes.
And how would you convince firefighters to attempt to hold such a line despite the obvious and otherwise
needless danger to their life and limb of attempting to do so? I doubt a major pay increase would be enough
and again this would quickly erase any supposed savings. I could go on....Savings indeed!

The "rings of protection around homes, neighborhoods, and towns" in fire prone areas is a good one.. and one
already accepted by nearly everyone familiar with wildfire. Mr. O"Tools views on wildfire are indeed best
described as "naive" and well suited to a self serving "free market environmentalist". If he can't "find any
evidence" of increased fuel loads in our forests he either has an odd view on what "evidence" is or does not
wish to "find" any such evidence as it would quickly make his "plan" appear silly and uninformed...which in fact it

I wonder why Mr. O'Toole appears to place no value on the resources that would be destroyed, from the timber
value to the soil microbes, as long as they are on Federal lands or take into account the after effects of "free
burning" wildfires on water quality downstream. Ignoring these factors creates a theory based on a false
economy kind of like saying that "you can save nearly $100 per year by not ever changing the oil in your car".
Short term you save money....mid term you pay for major engine repairs, and long term end up buying a new
car, walking, or staying home.

Spending less on wildfire management is "penny wise and pound foolish".
On second thought it is not even that.

09/03 CDF wife back again with concerns about a safety issue...

I've been hearing that there are some contract stations that CDF has with local govts where the engine crew staffing is 1-0. Evidently there is only one person per engine so the firefighter works alone, is at the station alone and runs calls alone! This seems like a big danger for any firefighter and with all the new inexperienced people on duty, the risk is multiplied. Someone said that at Tulare, a remote Amador station last winter the operator slipped on the ice and broke a leg. Shift change came soon, his relief found him and assisted, but had the accident happened earlier, he might have frozen. And that's just day to day living, what about when you need to tackle a grass fire or run into a burning house?

In my mind, there should be 3 firefighters at a minimum. If one gets hurt, one can stay with him and one can go for help. "Schedule B" has this staffing requirement. Why not "Schedule A"? Is it the responsibility of CDF to bail out local governments that can't "afford" to staff to a safe level?

Besides Tulare, maybe Merced, Madera Co, and TGU also have this 1-0 "Schedule A" kind of contract. Maybe the local governments can't afford more. If so CDF should not contract with them.

Andrea Tuttle, head of CDF says that when the local fire protection contracts are renegotiated, CDF will require the local government jurisdiction to fund a minimum of 2 full-time firefighters per engine. What about the contracts that are simply "extended" without a renegotiation of service? Will that be allowed? When will contracts be renegotiated?

CDF wife

PS. Do other states have one firefighter working alone? Do volunteers ever work alone? Do the feds? Is this unusual?

09/03 Mellie,

NPS has taken the lead in the WFURB business, and here is the Operations guide the Fire Use Modules have created - http://www.nps.gov/fire/fum/ .


Ab can't get this link to work with Netscape 4.6. It may work with Internet Explorer or Netscape 6+.

09/02 Be Safe, Firefighters.

The Curve Fire on the Angeles is something else, it was blowin' and goin' yesterday with flame lengths of 80 to 100'. Steep terrain and heat makes fighting it difficult. As you've probably heard, campgrounds were evacuated. Three engines protecting a structure got in a bit of trouble yesterday - some minor paint damage to one.

Heads up,
09/02 Here's a good link to the Stanislaus NF page explaining Fire Use for Resource Benefits and the stages of evaluation.

Also info on the Curve Fire: pasadenastarnews.com


09/02 ECC1 said,
"Wherein CDF BC said that there is 'no excess in CDF to cut away, the dept. fiscally is trimmed out'. Haw, haw!
You just don't realize yet what the powers that be can determine as excess. How about your butt and one FF? That may be the bottom line as seen through state congressional eyes."

I say, The "powers" that determine the excess in the end are the end-users-citizens.
We'll see...
Another CDF BC
09/02 Thanks for the info on Wildland Fire Use. BLM Bob, DM and Biker guy, lots to learn and understand (and no fire planner friends on my forests right now). Tahoe Terrie, thanks for the WFU stats and details.-=Dave=- good observation. Given that 90some% of the population lives in cities, this does not bode well for our forests.

Regarding the NPR Audio Clip... Some of what I understood Randal O'Toole, the economist from the Thoreau Institute, to be saying is the following:

  1. He says there is no evidence to support the idea that on our forests today fuels today are heavier and it's the fuels that are making fires bigger, more intense, more deadly or more expensive to put out. Rather the problem is that we have drought and high incentives to spend a great deal of money on fires -- so we spend it.
  2. He says there are 2 very different fire management perspectives, the current Fed Fire perspective and his. The Fed plan would be expensive and take 40 years. His plan would be much less expensive presumably because it would take much less management:
    • The new fed fire perspective (conventional wisdom) says we should manage forests so as to reduce the fuels -- clear flammable undergrowth, let wildfires clear more land, cut the small trees, and burn the cleared areas to return the forests to their more open state in which wildfire is not catastrophic. (In contrast to the old conventional wisdom of suppressing all fires that led to fuel buildup that led to more catastrophic fire later on.)
    • He supports a "Let It Burn within the Federal Land Base" management plan in which fires should be allowed to burn unchecked on forests but be contained on the edges of the federal lands. This can be done by having firefighters dig fire lines and hold the fire at bay there. Interface homes would be protected by these rings of wildland firefighter protection as well as by homeowners making homes firesafe -- non-flammable roofs and a 150 foot buffer zones of non-flammable landscaping. This, he says would result in millions of acres cleared of unwanted fuels at a very low price.
O'Toole appears to believe in the KISS principal. (Keep it simple stupid.) NPR prefaced his presentation by saying he is famous and infamous for his libertarian and environmental themes. You can all go listen to the piece to get the whole story: link on 8/28 from JF.

BLM Bob, I'm still working on my homework assignment. When's the test?
DM <hug>, I was hoping you were home at least briefly and would chime in as you did.
Biker Joe, your post put a lot in perspective. I have been trying to understand the rules and regs around WFURB and how it differs from Rx fire. Loved the "ah ha" lightbulb that your "prescribed natural fire" analogy set off in my brain.

09/02 Hi all,
Just curious does different helmet color mean different rank, like most structural fire departments? yellow- FF, red- Lt's and Capts, white-Chiefs.

Thanks stay safe
09/02 Ab,

As a former stomper and anti-wildland fire of any sort firefighter, I can understand the position many have taken with fire use and the misconceptions that go with it.

Others have listed in good detail what Wildland Fire Use For Resource Benefits fire require, here's a real quick rundown on what a WFURB isn't. (as to the acronym, Zimmerman created it...beats prescribed natural fire...eh?)


1) A let burn policy.

The WFIP is a (or should be) a highly detailed document guiding and forcing hard decisions when the "plan" says. The last stage three I did was the equivalent of two college all nighters, without the beer, caffeine or... The ability to not order a fortune in structural equipment I didn't need, but the plan called for. Imagine though if I did need that equipment. One shack lost, and the whole thing's a failure. I detailed that equipment, I sleep well.

2) A last case, "we can't do anything with it any ways" management strategy.

WFURB's are usually, initially, the first thing to look at when you want low cost, high resource benefit fire (and get to count the acres as treated). If the rippin' suppression fire is taking out the overstory, damaging the resource, then spreads into a "designated fire use area" does this benefit the resource? No, it's fire of a contrived nature, it, the rippin fire is not natural (for the most part, certain ecosystems excepted). The planning and monitoring of all fires is required, not an option. So, order a fire use module or two and let them do the planning for you. Chance favors the well prepared mind, right? (Pasteur?).

3) An easy way around the political BS.

The last WFURB I was on is still on going, the IC's ONLY job was to meet with the world, satisfy people who make more than my gross personal value, AND please a park supt. who wants to be OSC1. These fires are often the most difficult to manage politically because the american mindset of dominion over the land and its beasts (one of them fire) is so difficult to change. But, we're slowly getting there.

FIRE IS JUST A PROCESS, nothing more, nothing less.

Biker Joe,
True Believer
09/02 Re: Another CDF BC

Wherein this one said that there is "no excess in CDF to cut away, the dept. fiscally is trimmed out". Haw, haw!

You just don't realize yet what the powers that be can determine as excess. How about your butt and one FF? That may be the bottom line as seen through state congressional eyes.

Surely you and the single FF can be expected to do as much as a fully staffed module?

ecc1. (with tongue firmly in cheek)

What the heck, at least ya can all ride in the front!
09/01 Well Ab,
I guess the legislators here in California didn't want to be remembered for having the longest budget stalemate - although, technically they could if the Gov doesn't get it signed in time....

It looks like we finally have a budget here in California.

A couple of months ago I had sent in my predictions, I wish I had saved them, things here were just getting ready to jump into full gear next week, vendors upset, state workers mad, the usual....

Not sure what the details are, but there are proposed state employee reductions (1000) and a 750 million cut to state department "operations" - be interested to hear what that amounts to.

How this plays for CDF, time will tell. One thing is for sure though, there is no excess in CDF to cut away, the dept. fiscally is trimmed out.

Further cuts will result in reductions to the initial attack structure. This means stations, engines, camps, crews, dozers, lookouts (those few that are left), airtankers, helicopters.

Keep your fingers crossed for the CDF!
"Another CDF BC"

Copyright © 2014 FWI WildlandFire.com - All Rights Reserved. Your source for Wildland Fire News and Wildfire News and Information.