"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland
<<1) Is it true that most forest firefighting deaths occur because
of the inhalation of superheated gases and not burning? If not, in what
order would you place the causes of fatalities in forest
Me: As Ab noted, vehicle accidents are the main cause. I would guess
deaths caused by both items Mark posits (inhalation/burning) rank well
below other causes such as heart attacks, heat stroke, and various
"Mark": <<2) If first question above is true, does it then
follow that in a worst case scenario, the proper use of a deployable fire
shelter (face pressed to ground to breathe in short shallow breaths) is
the most common
technology used to avoid inhaling superheated air?>>
Me: It may be the most common "technology" (though perhaps using
the internal combustion engine to depart the scene is a more common
technology), but the most common "METHOD" is to avoid those
"Mark": <<3) What prevents current breathing apparatus
devices from being systematically deployed to crews in the field (high
price, weight, high cost of obtaining certification, etc.)?>>
Me: "Mark" guesses correctly that weight has something to do
with it, but the main reason is that there is no current system (and it is
hard to imagine how an effective one could EVER be designed) which could
provide sufficient substitute air (i.e. "self-contained"
compressed air). The volumes needed for 12 to 24 hr-shifts would be vastly
greater than any current technology could provide. The weight of the air
alone would be too much. And systems which might provide filtering of
existing (ambient) air would need to provide very low restriction on
breathing, as well as be lightweight, non-cumbersome, and effective for
the long shifts mentioned above. Some of these requirements are mutually
exclusive with present technology. In brief, wildland firefighting is
vastly different from structural firefighting. The
typical assignment for a structure fire can be completed in twenty minutes
or so, vs the many, many hours of heavy sustained exertion required for
wildland firefighting. In the case of Hand Crews, the firefighters are
already carrying packs and equipment significantly heavier than most
"Mark": <<I am asking these questions because I am a
mechanically inclined recreational diver and watching the advances in
SCUBA and SCBA technology, I'm wondering why (if this is indeed a real
problem), firefighters continue to be subjected to this danger.>>
CDF Mike from AG
||Old Fire Guy,
You are 100% correct. It is my responsibility to look after my crew,
make sure of their safety. However, not being a government employee is
kind of difficult as well. I have yanked my crew off of a hill before due
to very dangerous conditions. It is very easy for someone to say "
that crew simply did not want to work " and send that crew home. I
have seen it done. So, being a contract crewboss, we have to perform a
very difficult balancing act. I should not have to worry about things like
that ( being sent home for having safety concerns ) unfortunately, I am.
Now I know what people are probably going to say, that never happens
here, or that never happens there, but until you work contract, you will
never know. Not saying that every govt employee is like that, by no means.
Just saying that I never know when I am going to get that 1 person out of
X amount that just doesnt care too much about contract firefighters.
Thanks for the post and I whole heartedly agree with you.
I watched the History Channel presentation of "Fire on the
Mountain" with a group of (non-firefighter) friends and was surprised
when several of them said they were familiar with the "story"
already. As they saw it the "victims" died simply because they
"did not follow the rules". This seemed to be the story being
told on the History channel as well.
One of my friends (an electrical lineman) said the "Storm King
Mountain Tragedy" had been used in safety training as an example of
how important it is in dangerous professions to "always follow the
rules". In the ensuing discussion I agreed that if the safety rules
(in this case the 10&18) are meticulously followed the likelihood of
firefighter injuries and deaths is minimized dramatically. I then pulled
out my pocket copy of the 10&18 and went over "our rules"
explaining what each meant and what it really takes to implement them
all...all the time.
My lineman buddy soon chimed in that it was like telling guys that fix
high tension electrical lines "never touch a wire and you will not
get shocked". As a safety rule it is very effective at providing for
safety....but no broken electrical wires would ever be fixed. Instead the
main rule "never work on live wires but act as if they are" is a
much more workable compromise. Lineman electrocutions occur rarely and
usually only when the situation changes without warning such as when a
line being worked on is unexpectedly energized by a lighting strike or
erroneous action of another. Such situational changes are rare for linemen
but a constant for firefighters since wildfires move and change
constantly. As a result what may be perfectly safe one minute may be
unacceptably unsafe then next, then safe again a few minutes later. The
tendency (when danger looms) is to give it a little time to see if the
situation changes back to safe again before reacting to the new and
possibly temporary unsafe condition. If this were not the generally
accepted practice (especially on initial attack) huge numbers of
uncontrollable wild fires would burn all summer every summer. As a result
the 10&18 are considered by nearly everyone defacto
"guidelines" (rather than rules) which allow fires to be
controlled with a minimum of firefighter deaths at the lowest cost
possible. And they are "bent" constantly by those on and off the
fireline. Yet the official line is that strict adherence to the 10&18
Back to "Fire on The Mountain".
I agree in many ways the conclusion that it was the "can do"
attitude of the fire fighters which was most responsible for their deaths.
But it wasn't ""we "can do" this by
ourselves"" or "" we "can do" the job
regardless of the danger"". Rather it was ""we
"can do" our job if everyone else does theirs"".
Unfortunately while the firefighters on the line may have been knowingly
breaking some of the 10&18 some of their superiors and support
personnel were doing the same thing with out their knowledge. Critical
weather info was not relayed. Adequate communication equipment had not
been issued. An airborne lookout was not provided as requested. Needed
resources were delayed or sat idle nearby due to budget considerations and
interagency disagreements and sloppy management.
Here's my point. (You were beginning to wonder if there was one weren't
you?) When fire crews on the line tentatively, temporarily, and knowingly
"set aside" one or two of the "10&18" it is a
"normal day at work" which is far less likely to result in death
or injury than when overhead or support personnel do the same thing due to
sloppiness, ego, or budget concerns. Individuals on the fireline are all
too aware that when they are "breaking the rules" their lives
are in danger and tend to compensate with a heightened awareness
(bordering on paranoia sometimes). When support personnel (including
overhead) "break the rules" or make following the rules
impossible (even inadvertently) the result can all too easily be a crew on
the line being blindsided by a changing condition. This is what I believe
the true lesson of Storm King Mountain was. To everyone's credit I also
believe that although "official responsibility" was (mis)laid on
those that perished, in the following years quiet changes have been made
up the chain of command resulting in the current official "overhead
will be held responsible" edict resulting from the 30 mile fire
Unfortunately official responsibility still stops somewhere short of
||Wildland Fire Fatalities in the US '90 to '98.
Thanks, we'll update the links page. Ab.
||Hey Dick, do you know where the Firefighter Fatalities ('90-'98)
study is? It's down on the FS web even if you try to get there via a
search on the main FS site. You doin' an update or somethin'?
We updated the FF Job Series 462 and 455 today instead of tomorrow
and will update them again late Sunday.
For those of you who bypass our Main Page,
I put Original Ab's Fire Dragon there. Take a look. You can also make it
your wallpaper. Compare it to the terrific original photo of the Clear
Creek Fire on the Wallpaper Page
taken by Kim Soper, FBAN on Carvhelo's Team. Happy Halloween, All.
I hope that you take the time to reflect on your performance as a
Question: Why did you accept assignments on (5 days) when you did not have
a safety zone? EVERYONE is responsible for safety on a fire, and if YOU
recognized a safety problem it is YOUR obligation to turn down the
assignment until that issue is resolved.
Old Fire Guy
||I watched and enjoyed the 'docu-drama' Fire on the Mountain last Monday.
was very well done, with terrific fireground footage and interviews with
many, but obviously not all of the players. After being consumed with 30
Mile and more recently Stanza it was kind of a shock to revert back to
examining South Canyon. I have always been greatly appreciative of the
because it enlightened us to what happened far beyond what the official
That being said I have some serious quibbles.
- With all due respect I think McClean is chasing his father's ghost. He
seems to admit this, but it gets in the way of fair and accurate
- It is important to explore and even second guess remote decisions and
explore inadequate and inefficient management organizations and decision
makers. However the show seemed to openly imply that fire managers felt
had better things to do than make the best calls they could given the
information available at the time. Everyone I have seen in wildland fire
organizations is totally consumed in putting their fires out in
situations such as this.
- Somebody in the show said "This is not war - people should not die
fighting fire", or something like that. Nobody except the moronic
of South Dakota would disagree. What the show does not recognize is that
"Fog of War" is a very real factor in wildland firefighting.
Those who do
not want to deal with the challenge of problem solving without full
information or imperfect tools such as fire behavior or weather
will find employment in more predictable fields.
- Misnaming of the fire as South Canyon rather than Storm King - get over
- I know Dick Mangan has the experience to say that retardant applied
without firefighters may make sense, but that can be argued until the cows
- After much bombardment with and reflection on 30 Mile issues it is my
personal opinion that the battle over assigning responsibility and
accountability between the triumvirate of Management, Crew Leadership, and
Individuals is settled. Individuals who are properly trained have to have
bottom line control over whether they live or die. Crew leadership is
expected to keep them out of harms way. Management must make the proper
tools, training and reasonable objectives to perform the task at hand.
Clearly real life makes this easier said than done, but only at the end of
the docu-drama is there acknowledgment that crew leaders and individuals
were partly responsible for the tragedy.
Still I will encourage people who work with me to view and discuss this
work, I even ordered some official History Channel copies of the show.
||Hey, had to add my two cents re:GSA style nomex pants... there are some
very few) early ones that did not get the NFPA 1977 approved patch... All
the five pairs I have from the last two years (all from GSA) have the
required wording that is stated in the USFS safety advisory ...
http://safenet.nifc.gov/notice.nsf (click on firefighter protective
clothing). I also own two pairs non-GSA nomex (but available through GSA
contract) and two pairs of non-GSA nomex/kevlar... Here's my findings...
ALL OF THEM HAVE THE NFPA 1977 COMPLIANT PATCH SEWN IN.
I know what the jist is... obviously the pants that are supplied from the
main vendors are a far better product. Being a far better product requires
more costs for the vendor to produce. Some managers look at the short term
costs, some look at the long term wear and tear vs. replacement costs.
Managers must decide which pants give the most bang for the buck. The
GSA BDU's - Fair quality, fair durability, usually last about two seasons
properly cared for. (LOW COST)
Non-GSA Nomex BDU's - Good quality and fit, the most comfortable, material
subject to heat exposure and discoloration, usually only good for one
at best before discoloration and or burns/tears degrade product. (MEDIUM
Non-GSA Nomex/Kevlar Blends: Good quality and fit, great durability, a
little warm during the summer months and a little rough on the skin until
broken in, usually good for two to three seasons. (HIGHEST COST)
Does anyone know who does the yearly revision for the USFS Region 5
Mobilization Guide? I have some
ideas for improving safety and improving dispatch procedures but have been
unable to find out who does the work
when I've contacted the R.O.
Any help would be appreciated.
Rock @ Wood's Fire and Emergency Services
I thought I would throw my 2 cents in on the Region 7 mystery. There
was a Region 7 at one time, that was until 1965. Region 7 is what is, or
was, the Northeastern region. In 1965, they decided to do away with it.
The USFS split it up and put Kentucky and Virginia in Region 8, and the
rest of the Northeastern states into Region 9. Considering there isn't
much National Forest in the Northeast, I'm sure the consolidation dealt
with money. I have attached a map
showing what Region 9 looked like at
||Here is a link to an story about the Governor of South Dakota and his
actions during recent fires in his state.
Spent some time in Southern New Mexico, and had a couple of pics off the
Walnut Complex that I thought I'd share. Worked with the BLM out of Las
Cruces, and they were a great outfit...very professional. Also worked with
folks from Bridger Fire, and they were top notch. It's a pleasure to work
with these kinds of firefighters. Hope everyone gets some rest, and we'll
see ya'll again in the spring.
Put them up on the Handcrew 6 photo
page. We also got a logo from the Midewin IHC. Nice one. Put that on the Logo
5 page. Ab.
||"Nomad" brings up some interesting points about NFPA and the
lack of a respirator standard. Yeah, handkerchiefs are, and have been,
used by wildland firefighters for years to cover their nose and mouths.
But, and this is an important distinction, that is not their INTENDED use:
handkerchiefs are intended to blow black boogers out of your nose. We put
them around our necks, inside our hardhats, and whatever else, but that's
an individual's choice, not what the manufacturer intended.
Respirators are tightly controlled by NIOSH (National Institute of
Occupational Safety & Health) who certify what a respirator is used
for (i.e. organic compounds, small particulates, etc). There is NO
accepted NIOSH respirator standard for wildfire smoke: in trying to
identify the harmful components, Carbon Monoxide always comes up, and no
respirator can prevent the passage of CO. Federal employees are not
allowed to use respirators for purposes not NIOSH-certified: that's why
your boss has to shut you off. Accountability: if she/he knows you're not
following the rules and allows you to continue, they become liable.
States/Counties/Rurals may have a different set of rules.
NFPA beat this problem around for years, and never made much headway in
finding a solution. Dr. Brian Sharkey at USFS-MTDC has coordinated a lot
of studies on the Health Hazards of Smoke since 1990, and has a wealth of
info on the subject (including a free Video), a Conference pub, and 12-15
quarterly newsletters with lots of good information.
I would like to add something to all the accurate things Dick and the
others have said about NFPA 1977-1998.
In the 1998 revision, the higher echelon of NFPA (NOT the NFPA 1977
Technical Committee that Dick was Chairman of) added a requirement that
manufacturers must be ISO 9000 registered to be NFPA compliant. At a cost
of around $20000 and more to just get started in this, plus upwards of
$4000 to $5000 per year to maintain it, most small businesses cannot
afford to go through the process. General Services Administration (GSA is
the purchasing agent for the Forest Service shirts, pants, helmets, etc.),
as is required of all federal agencies, follows the requirements of the
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which require a lot of these items be
bought from these small businesses. As a result, the Forest Service BDU
pants are not labeled NFPA compliant because the manufacturer is not ISO
registered, yet. The pants available from the Forest Service do otherwise
fully meet all the requirements of NFPA 1977-1998, including third-party
This is the same reason that a lot of the well-known boot manufacturers do
not offer NFPA 1977-1998 compliant boots, even though they otherwise fully
meet the requirements.
||What about the whole suspender and belt arrangement we carry our
precious fire shelter on, I don't think they are NFPA rated. Most of them
are large hunks of plastic material, mostly nylon cloth, hanging on
firefighters necks and waists. Not to mention fireline packs, again made
large pieces of plastic. At least some of the old (very old indeed)
military web gear was canvas. It just burned it didn't melt to you.
Although I am not a firefighter by training, I watched the recent
On The Mountain" program with great interest. In the search for more
information, I came across your website and read your thoughts on the
South Canyon fire. Very insightful. Your points are part of a common
theme that is effective in high risk environments: 1) Responsibility
starts and stops with the people "on the ground" and, 2) these
need sufficient training. The second point has many layers and departure
points for discussion but that is not for this email.
I have several questions that have been generated from my information
search and I'm eager to hear your views.
1) Is it true that most forest firefighting deaths occur because of the
inhalation of superheated gases and not burning? If not, in what order
would you place the causes of fatalities in forest firefighting?
2) If first question above is true, does it then follow that in a worst
case scenario, the proper use of a deployable fire shelter (face pressed
to ground to breathe in short shallow breaths) is the most common
technology used to avoid inhaling superheated air?
If not, away from adhering to the 10 rules discussed in your
observations, what mechanisms exist for firefighting crews to avoid
breathing superheated air?
3) What prevents current breathing apparatus devices from being
systematically deployed to crews in the field (high price, weight, high
cost of obtaining certification, etc.)?
I am asking these questions because I am a mechanically inclined
recreational diver and watching the advances in SCUBA and SCBA
technology, I'm wondering why (if this is indeed a real problem),
firefighters continue to be subjected to this danger.
Thanks for your insights!
Number 1 is vehicle accidents. For more info on firefighter deaths, go
to the Links page and
look under Safety then "Wildland Firefighter Fatalities
Sitting here thinking about the "Fire on the Mountain"
documentary that aired the other night. I must say that was probably one
of the best presentations on wildland firefighting I have seen to date.
Mr. MacLean did an outstanding job in making sure the story was told.
I remember right after that fire occurred in '94, I was sitting around
with some buddies talking about how something like this could occur....
My CDF buddies were amazed on the lack of resources assigned to the
fire. I was reminded of times when I had worked in different times and
conditions, and for me, I could understand what was going on in those
firefighters minds. You see, here in CA, we have the luxury of having it
all....and because of that, many in CDF have a tough time with that
concept in CO.
The CDF air program TRIES to get to the fire before the ground
Frosty was right, the Sour Biscuit was another copy-nothing learned-all
for what?, to get around the enviros to burn your ground? at what cost?
There was a "Can Do!" attitude on South Canyon. After having
asked and asked for resources and being refused (I remember being in this
situation too), your attitude begins to change from "Can Do"
into "Make do." "Make do" kills firefighters, not
"Can Do" in my opinion.
And after a while (years) of "making do," some people begin
to "just say no" and use a pocket card to back them up. Watch
your weather trends and your fuel moistures.
One solution, is to give those IA IC's the resources they request to
get the job done-and early enough in the fight to make the difference.
"Another CDF BC"
||Ab, I asked the AT guys about the photo and this is what Mike said:
It was a very safe drop and it was also an effective drop. The retardant
you see coming out didn't hit the ground for another 200 feet past the
hair pin curve that the fire fighters were on. You have to see the whole
picture of the area to understand the true story. There was very steep
terrain involved here. After the tanker passed this area, the terrain
drops off very steep. The photo just doesn't give justice to the
distance from the edge of the cliff and the terrain that we were
It was probably done with a lens (telephoto) that made the distance to the
aircraft look shorter than it was.
I was the lead on the drop. It was safe and effective.
Other wise it wouldn't have been done.
Here's a great airtanker photo. My dad forwarded this pic. It was
forwarded to him from and old smokejumper buddy. It's funny how the
distortion makes it look closer than it really is, but what a great shot.
Does anyone know where or when this was taken?
Thanks & Adios,
It is an awesome pic. Many people have sent it in and wanted
details. This photo was taken during the Curve Fire on the Angeles
National Forest by Leo Jarzomb, San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group who
undoubtedly holds the copyright. You can check the fire dates via the
"current Fires 2002" link above. It is posted on the Curve Fire
website. I've put a link to that version on the AirTanker
6 photo page, so you can all get a gander at it. Any AT folks have
more details of the drops made at that location that day? Ab.
Please include the Bear Divide Hotshot Logo.
The Bear Divide Hotshots of the Angeles National Forest. For more
information please visit our
web site full of incredible action pictures: www.beardividehotshots.com
Put it on the logo 5 page.
Thanks. We're getting quite a collection. Ab.
||I couldn't agree more Frosty.
We DEFINITELY need to learn form the past. Even the slightest detail. I
was on the biscuit complex (Florence Fire) back when it was 1500 acres.
During one of the days it was blowing up, I was ordered to have my crew
hold the line while a firing boss and I lit some property. During the
course of the lite, it got really hot, too hot for people to hold it. My
second crewboss ordered the crew to bump down to the safety zone,
unfortunately a squad of 7 got cut off from the primary safety zone.
Thankfully, a division sup was up with the squad. He told my squadboss
to hold where he was and that he would tie back in with him. 20 minutes
and a whole lot of fire later, my squadboss informed me that it was
getting too hot and hairy for them to be there. I tried to inform the div
sup of what was going on but I couldn't get a response. I had my squadboss
try it, he got a hold of him and without the div sup even being there the
div sup told him to hold even though my squadboss had told him the
conditions. I got on a vantage and saw where they were, I immediately
ordered my squadboss to go to the secondary safety zone. Within about 10
minutes of them leaving, the area that they were in was engulfed.
During that fire I counted 5 days (out of 14) that we had no safety
zones established and 3 days where our escape route was a mile or 2 back
to the vehicles and drive back to camp. And there were 6 days when we were
in safety zones.
Now, the Biscuit fire was one for the books. I'm glad I was a part of
it and with this post I am not complaining. I couldn't be happier due to
the fact no one got hurt or killed. But, how close do we want to push the
||The USFS investigation may be completed, but the California Highway
report completion is over a month away. This is according to today's
article at www.redding.com. An "objective" report by the CHP may
preventing such a tragedy in the future per the article.
||I have a little bone to pick about NFPA standards.
Someone mentioned the respiratory masks out there on the market for
wildland fire fighters. Now, there is currently no NFPA standard for
such items, which doesn't seem like too much of a big deal. As a result,
some agencies bar their employees from using said masks on the fireline.
On the surface, this might make sense, but what about the hankerchiefs
that people use instead- are those NFPA certified? Definitely not.
At the same agency that barred the above respiratory protection, I had a
supervisor tell me that I could not use my CamelBack on the fireline
it too was not NFPA approved. Anyone who's used a camelback for
strenuous exercise can attest to their value on or off the line.
It's this kind of small-minded, literal thinking that goes against the
spirit of safety standards. Am I the only one who's encountered this
sort of attitude? NFPA is not law and it's not gospel- let's just use it
The Fire on the Mountain show will be on again saturday night Nov 2 at
8:00 Pacific time. In case someone missed it and wants to see it again.
Is that west coast time? Ab.
Here's a link to a Sacramento Bee story about the USFS investigation of
the July 28 engine rollover on the Stanza Fire on the KNF.
A sad story. We'll miss them. I'm glad the investigation is done. Ab.
||The Jobs page and
wildland firefighter Series
462 and 455 are
updated. We have some contract companies that are seeking employees. Check
Don't forget to visit our Classifieds
Page; browse and buy from those who support our site. There are new
classifieds up for your browsing pleasure. And don't forget our banner
sponsors. We appreciate their sponsorship.
||Fort Hunter Ligget had a fire today. Started off at 5 acres and in 20
min. It grew to 50 acres and running. That was at (prime time) 1330 in the
afternoon and I have not heard of any reports since then.
The LP sent one engine and a handcrew to assist. Heads up if you end up
coming to Southern Calif. We are still in critical burn conditions.
I watched Fire on the Mountain last night and there was one thing I
kept hearing over and over. Why did it take so long for the BLM to take
action on the fire. A costly mistake, however did we learn from this
mistake? I saw a posting from JW awhile ago about the Sour Biscuit, it
seemed to me that what JW was saying was no we haven't. Although there
were no firefighter fatalities It was one of the biggest fires ever and
the potential was always there.
Dick Mangan, honored to share the same bulletin board with you Sir.
Now don't go sayin' that, Frosty, else he'll get a more swelled head
than he already has. <tongue firmly in cheek> HAW HAW. You'd feel
*really* honored if you knew everyone else you share this board with. Ab.
||Is anyone out there planning on going to Wildfire 2002 in Kansas City?
John McLean is going to be one of the speakers.
If things come together I plan on being there.
I'm sleuthing for video footage of excellent extreme fire behavior on
the Biscuit Fire Complex (when it was sometimes called the Florence (East)
or later - Zone 1). I'm talking flames and runs, building convection
columns - the dragon at its worst. Some still photos on the Biscuit
fire page demonstrate what I'm talking about. They're stills and
mostly from a distance, but you can see the threatening header of that
fire. It was around the time when the evacuation notices were out for the
Illinois River Valley -- Cave Junction, Kerby, etc.
I have heard there was at least one seasoned firefighter who shot video
with his little hand held Digital Video camera maybe sometime during the
last week of July through the middle of August. Others saw the video. Did
anyone reading here see it, know who took it? Probably there was more than
one person shooting frames then...
A few other cues to time and situation.
Well, that's all I know and can deduce about this mystery firefighter who
might have a video clip. If anyone was on the fire then and/or knows of
him and his video or -- if any of you know of any other videos of flamage
on the Biscuit, please get in touch - soon.
- IC Mike Lohrey (pronounced lowr-eye) and his PNW Team headed up the
east/ northeast side firefighting efforts.
- There were 1500 personnel in July expanding up to 6000 personnel in
mid-August on all zones of the fire. WOW, needle in a haystack. But
the person who took the video was probably a bit up the
chain-of-command since he was a "veteran". DIVS? BRANCH?
FBAN? OPS? (Lasagna, were you there then?)
- There had been a red flag warning from 7-31 to 8-1, but there were
also other days in that time period that had Foehn winds and/or
extreme fire behavior with significant runs, torching in groups of
trees, high ROS and convection columns.
NMAirBear -- the Boot Saloon? Sidle right up to the bar and get fitted?
Oh you poor innocents, you. Any of you end up on a boat to China? If not,
you were extremely lucky!
||Re: The SB Sun Article - Harrison Fire
The link on the news article doesn't do justice to what really was
This fire burned only an hour or so after a wet, drizzly fog had burned
off... And after about two weeks of cool, damp, and marine weather. It
exhibited moderate to rapid rates of spread, spotting, and an extreme
resistance to control. It was a good thing that this fire was the only
"game" in town and was able to get all of the Southern
resources assigned to it. Otherwise..... (just ask the local folks)
Our Forest is getting hammered by complaints from the public and hunters
about the closures... but this sure drills in the point. Since the
there have only been two significant fires (both within the closure area)
and each fire was a result of illegal entry.
How are the CNF and ANF closures doing and the LPF restrictions?
||Boy Ab, you can sure tell the western fire season is winding down when
boots and nomex are the topics of discussion. But what the heck. Has any
one ever noticed that the discussions on fires usually gets reduced to the
lowest common denominator, ie: Boots and Excrement, I could have used the
other word but it's a family show after all.
Getting our first real snow here in NEO. The old wood stove is cranked and
were getting excited about the ski season, maybe by Thanksgiving (Hope,
Hope, Pray, Pray).
Heard a weather dude talking about El Nino the other day saying it will
actually be El Nada since the warm or cold water (whatever it is) didn't
make it down as far into S.America as it needed to to set up the real El
Take care all.
I hear your message loud and clear. End of the season, getting back in
step with home folk, relaxin' (my sports teams are not having much success
- drat), leftover adrenalin, a bit o' bitchin', and gettin' ready to spend
a few bucks... Yep, must be October/November. All's well with the fire
Woodstove crankin' here, too. Lookin' forward to the rain. The snow
brings another set of problems in my mountains. I could do without snow,
still have some travelin' to do an' miles to go before I sleep.
Relax... my western friends. Shift gears.
Well mebee you all in SoCal better stay on the ready... Things are still
cookin' down there.
Actually, we went instead to the (no kidding) Boot Saloon which was
the Arcata plaza from Guido's. I haven't been back there for an entire
career of almost 30 years so thanks for the update.
||Does anyone know of a standard for cleaning nomex? I know that's a new
concept for some of you that wear the same shirt all season to the point
it can stand up and save your place in the chow line!
For real though, does any forest or district have a policy (written or
otherwise) on clean nomex? In the structural world, many departments have
policies for cleaning gear to prevent what's called "Secondary
Contamination." That's basically when you throw your nasty gear in
the back of your car or in your locker and it leaves the products of
combustion on the seat or your other uniforms and equipment. Think about
it, would you let your children sit in smoke? Then why let them sit next
to your gear bag of nomex in the back seat of your car?
How often do some of you clean your helmet? shroud? shirt? brushcoat?
rinse off your gear?
Besides the contamination issue, I'm tempted to think that the dirt and
grit that build up after awhile would break down the nomex and reduce it's
Any ideas or thoughts on this?
PS (In reference to NFPA standards) The park service policy, per
Reference Manual 18, is to not purchase any PPE that isn't NFPA approved.
I don't know if it's the boots. Don't really care. As a hotshot, we are
routinely asked to go into the steepest terrain and work. It takes no
great leap of faith to understand that arduous work in steep terrain is
tough on knees. This discussion seems a bit ludicrous in the face of the
job we do. It's very physical and very intense, much like high-level
As we watch professional athletes become crippled with arthritis and
age, doesn't it only make sense that wildland ff's would do the same.
Oh yeah, Love my White's, like my Drew's and hate my Nick's.
||When was this movie special supposed to be shown and on what channel?
History channel last night 9-11. Ab.
From 1995 thru 2000, I served as the Chair of the NFPA Technical
Committee that deals with Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland
Firefighters; its designated NFPA 1977 ( the structural folks use NFPA
1971). The NFPA Standards are voluntary, reached by consensus of users,
management, manufacturers, labor unions, test labs, etc: a total of 9
groups are represented, with 30 voting members. It's a minimum standard,
and is generally issued for a 5 year period. The 2 that have existed for
wildland gear were issued in 1993 and 1998. The 2003 has been delayed,
waiting the recent MTDC work on the fire shelter.
The Standards are not law: you don't have to use them, although most
agencies, departments and insurance companies support them. The real rub
comes when something "breaks": a burnover, with injuries and/or
deaths. The first question that OSHA and the victim's lawyers want to know
is: "was the equipment/clothing NFPA-compliant"?? If not, why
not!! Do you know more than a national consensus group?? So, its real
close to having legal standing!
The stuff you buy should be labeled as "NFPA 1977-compliant"
the year it was manufactured. It's still good and useable years down the
road, as long as its maintained, and not recalled.
The certification of NFPA compliance is issued by "3rd Party
Certification Lab" such as Underwriters Lab. They are paid to conduct
independent tests that verify that the clothing/equipment performs to the
minimum level specified in the Standard. If a company meets that test,
they can advertise "NFPA-compliant". Others try to give the
impression that they are NFPA compliant by using terms like "meets or
exceeds NFPA Standards", but they ain't totally tested and legal. For
example, there are no NFPA respiratory standards for respiratory
protection devices like Hot Shield or WHIFFS. The Standards are developed
by analyzing the risks and hazards, then identifying PPE that will
mitigate the risks at the minimally acceptable level. Another example: GSA
hardhats are OK, and way cheaper than Bullard 911-C. Both meet the
Standards, so make your decision with your $$$.
Structural gear (turnout coats, bunker boots, helmets) exceed the heat
and fire protection levels that NFPA 1977 require, but can't meet the heat
stress requirements, helmet weights, and non-skid/lace-up requirements for
boots. The NFPA 1977 Technical Committee that worked up the 1998 version
had wildfire reps from the USFS, NPS, BLM, NC Forestry, PA Forestry, GA
Forestry, IAFF, LA County and CDF. There were also folks from clothing
manufacturers, boot companies, hardhats, and UL test lab
The current Chair is George Jackson at the USFS-MTDC.
More than you ever wanted to know about NFPA 1977............!
NC Crew has the rest pretty well explained, as explained topics fall
under codes, most of 10xx relates to training for example NFPA 1001
relates to entry level firefighters, 1500 safety, 19xx apparatus and
equipment. For more information you can check the NFPA website,
http://www.nfpa.org/Home/index.asp you need a membership to access much of
the material but I think you can get the listing of standards without one.
Once you know the number you can probably find articles related to it on
the web by using a search engine like Yahoo or Google. Even if your
particular agency does not "follow" NFPA it is a good idea to be
familiar with the standards, a training officer in New York State is
facing prison time for negligent homicide following some fatalities on a
training burn, the total lack of following accepted standards (NFPA or
otherwise) was the primary cause of the courts findings.
I know the structural side of the federal government has adopted all of
NFPA, I don't know if the wildland agencies have as well or if they are
using the forestry tech title to avoid them.
||Almost MOVIE TIME on the West Coast.
||I was wondering about how a rural volunteer firefighter, who is trained
in wildland, would go about getting a job fighting fires out west for a
couple weeks a year.
Here's a 1979 photo of the Ben's Knob fire tower in Hampshire County, West
Virginia. The tower had been out of service for several years, but hikers
could still climb it until the lower steps were removed in the late 1980s.
I put it on the Misc2 page. Ab.
||Fire on the Mountain on the History Channel comin' up in
about 2 hours on the east coast. Check local listings for your area,
appears to be mostly 8 or 9 PM and is 1.5 hours long.
||Not sure why the NFPA label is not in the new style Nomex jeans. If
serves me correctly NFPA uses the FS specifications for Nomex. Look at the
label in the old Nomex jeans.
At one time very early in the birth of our nation, the country was broken
up into bioregions. Region 7 was the open plains states: Iowa, Indiana,
Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, etc. This was all prior to the
Organic Act. It was a concept, it never flew - no region 7. Lucky seven,
eh? Better than snake-eyes.
memo to new booties.
Don't worry about your knees if you have a springheel
on your boots. They were made for steep ground and they were made to level
you off when looking back up the ridge. Also get stopping power and real
good bounce for walking in deep slash. Don't fondle 'em - wear them and
Canoodle... <HAW> Ab.
We would like to have a link in your Training & Education section to
our fire program.
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) has had a comprehensive
Associate Degree program in Forestry and Wildlife Management since 1980.
In 1992 we began offering coursework in Wildland Fire with NWCG
certification. We cooperate locally with the USDI Bureau of Indian
Affairs, and the USDA Forest Service. Each summer NEO has from 15 to 25
students working as agency seasonals and AD firefighters.
Our Forestry and Wildlife page address is: http://www.neoam.edu/~agric/FWmain.html
, or you can enter the College main page at http://www.neoam.edu/, and
click on Academics, and the Forestry & Wildlife program under
Dr. James M. Gleckler
Forestry & Wildlife Department
I put it on our page of educational
institutions that have 2 and 4 year fire science and fire ecology
First thing about NFPA, it's a recommendation not law, unfortunately
it's so well established it often carries the weight of law. The code,
i.e., NFPA 1710, 1500, 1972 and so on are just reference numbers. The
following number NFPA 1972-98 is the year in which the code was published
NFPA, does grandfather things. A couple of years ago, NFPA voided the
compliance of the full brim hard hat because it was too heavy. However
anything that's still in good condition and was in service prior to the
new rule is still considered compliant. The old hard hats fall under the
standards that they were manufactured to meet.
So, unless they put a special provision in the new fire shelter
standards that disallows old ones, they will still be good.
Couple more things about NFPA.
NFPA 1977 is the standard that covers wildland firefighting. NFPA
publishes HUGE books containing all of the codes, that cover everything
about gear; from how long it can be exposed to temperatures at and above
500 degrees, puncture resistance, weight, size, color, electrical
resistance, reflective trim, and various angles of impact; and just how
much of this abuse the gear can take and still keep you alive. Any
structural fire department should have a copy of these rules. Also, no
agency is required by law to follow NFPA, most structural agencies do for
some reason, I think it has to do that NFPA's standards are so high that
if you meet them, all others are followed (i.e., OSHA). If you ever look
at a pair of nomex pants that you get through the FS, it meets the US
Forest Service own specifications not NFPA, now look at a pair you may
have bought though a company like Galls, National FF, etc...it meets NFPA,
not FS specs.
Hope that helps.
JT's question is still unanswered. As another FF with
too much time on my hands, I'm curious: DOES anybody
know what happened to Region 7? I did some quick
research and came up with nothing.
||Memo from the Irony Desk.
It has to be painful to take a group of young people, beat safety into
minds and bodies, lead them through a long dangerous fire season, and have
one of them get hammered and kill themselves at the end of the season. All
of us gray haired (or hair free) lecturers, naggers, worriers, and story
tellers (supervisors) were young once too. Most of us did the same sort of
dumb high risk stuff That Can Kill You back then too. Some of us still do
it today. There's no "solution". One could argue pretty
the existence of a "problem". Honest superintendents and
captains know and
expect that a small percentage of our best wildland firefighters will die
young, needlessly, and not on the job. Pray for the families and coworkers
of those who have died before their time, and those who will.
"Zero Casualties in the Fire Season" is not an attainable goal.
A report from the SacBee: www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/4934511p-5946364c.html
"The federal panel co-chaired by Jim Hall (National Transportation
and Safety Board) met in Sacramento to consider the future of aerial
firefighting. Commissioned by Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth and
Interior Secretary Gale Norton, the panel is trying to sort out, among
other things, whether this year's crashes were the consequence of
depending on surplus military planes that are ready for
Aerial firefighters and others participated in giving information to
the Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) in Sacramento last Thursday. I know some
groundpounders are interested in aerial firefighting but fairly new to the
issues. One letter that addresses issues and has lots of good information
and explanation of terms was sent in to the BRP by John Watt.
John has allowed Ab to reproduce his letter HERE.
Some other letters can be found on the AAP board (found via the Links
||Ab, I have a question.
Does anyone have a simple explanation of the certifications (NFPA) that
boots, clothing, gear go through for wildland firefighters? I'm about to
be a consumer and I realized I don't understand the system.
What does it mean that something meets some NFPA 19xx to xx , like NFPA
1975-99? (like the fleece jacket in the box above) Since this is 2002,
does that mean it's not a current certification? Does every part of the
product need to be certified or is the whole product certified? Do
companies submit their products for certifications? Do large companies
with a track record of certifications like on boots have better chances
than small ones to get certified on new products?
Oh, I also wondered what happens to all the old fire shelters in stock
when the new ones come in? or any other item that has a newer version?
Does the government buy those back from suppliers? Are the old ones
banned? Is there a transition time when both old and new can be used?
||New logo from Bolivia -- Bomberos -- on the Logos
One of the Abs put up as much info as was available on the Type
II Incident Management Teams website. Thanks to all who wrote in. It's
clear that some teams find their websites useful for fulfilling their
duties and others don't yet. It does take work to set them up and maintain
them. If anyone can fill in some of the blanks (names, first names, etc)
on those who do not have websites, please do. We've heard there are 34
type II teams across the nation and that's what we have.
For future reference, the permanent link to the Type II Teams is located
on the Links Page
immediately following the Type I Team link under Federal. As more have
team pages, please let us know.
||Reminder that the History Channel's docu-movie Fire on the Mountain (90
min) will show tomorrow night, October 28. 9PM eastern, 8 central. Don't
know about west coast.
My great-granddad has told me about Guido. Wow, are you THAT old?!! You
must have known The Keg, too! Great graffiti in the bathrooms, I've been
told, and inches of peanut hulls on the floor... Evidently longhaired DH
was known to be a hippy in those days. Look how far he's come, old man
that he is!
When I asked my ancient relative, he said that Guido is alive and well,
although he retired and sold Plaza Shoe about 12 years ago. The shop has
since moved a block off the plaza into a stylin' new building they
constructed and painted mauve! Still sell the same boots (as well as
birkenstocks), but I wonder how many Foresters are willing to enter their
mauve portals to buy "high heels" there?
Re the Snack Foods thread - I heard that as much as 5 mil might have been
spent on snacks this last season. That may not have been inordinately high
given the total summer fire expenditure. Might not be a bad idea to have a
unified interagency SOP for purchasing snacks, though. Gordon, as far as
sodas in firecamp, I haven't ever seen any available. Is my experience
limited or are sodas really available anywhere? I did see one contractor
engine hoarding snacks on the Megram. The Branch was onto them, though,
and corrected it pronto.
BLM Bob, I really like it that you appear to be fey every once in a while.
This place can sometimes get way too serious. Glad you're still wearing
those "high heels" and watching who's watching you! I'm also
glad we've left behind the thread that dominated several weeks ago. Seems
we had enough information and speculation on that. I know the issues are
still there. Hopefully some things are getting resolved in appropriate
ways. I don't need to preach to the choir here that we can each do our
share to act appropriately (and within the law).
||The heels on Whites, Nicks, etc used to be called 'underslung', not
Some time back D2 provided us with the Forest Service 30-mi memorial
brochure in pdf. It's taken me a while to get it on the wlf.com server,
but here it is. The topography, the fire header, Tom, Karen, Devin and
Jessica... Nice photos on a panoramic background. A bit about each of
them. Well done. A fitting tribute.
... 562K ... Takes a little time to load if you have a slow modem.
In the future, you can access it from our Site
Map. I have also put a link to it on the Documents Worth Reading List
on the Archives
||On the boots/tall clip heel issue...
When they shoe racehorses they leave a longer toe and
take more off their heel so in essence they have a
"clip" heel also. This is done to lengthen their
stride. Makes sense that a clip heel on a set of
Whites would do the same!
||OK, I am going to weigh in on the boot issue:
I bought my first pair of Whites from Guido in Arcata (Old Guys,
remember him??) in 1971. I have worn my Smokejumpers to date and they are
bar none without reservation the best possible boots you can wear to fight
fire. OK, there are probably equivalents out there that are just as good.
I haven't tried them.
This is not a plug for Whites this is a plug for boots of that style
and quality that many of us wear.
Now, in my mid fifties I certainly, after many years of abuse of my
body, particularly in the fire environment, I have chronic back and knee
problems like so many of the rest of us.
It ain't the friggin boots folks!!! It doesn't take a doctor (or any
high GS bureaucrat) to tell us our boots are the cause of our problems. If
you abuse your back and knees as we do categorically in firefighting they
are going to give out.
Also, for years I have preached to firefighters that they buy good
boots for obvious reasons. The bottom line is they are built to fight
fire. They are safer in the sense that they are good to your feet and if
you need to, as many of us have, you can run like a rabbit in them.
With due respects to the manufacturers of such great boots I for one
thank you for so many years of a good product.
||in my opinion...
The boot thread and the snack thread are related. In a way they are the
You can tell whether a firefighter is long time experienced and takes this
business serious or not by looking at his boots. Some fire crews often
boots that look like they lost the last war -- all ratty and wore out. The
hotshot, SJ, agency engine crew, etc all have boots that are obviously
but maintained. One group will sit down and do nothing on a break, the
other will take off their boots, check over their feet for any incipient
problems, and then carefully put on their socks and boots again fresh. Off
shift they inspect and clean their boots.
Likewise in fire camp -- check out which group in the food line passes on
the vegetables, races through the salad bar, grabs seconds at the dessert
table, and gets coffee or a sugar drink. Then note which group goes heavy
to salads, passes on the desserts, and drinks milk or fruit juice.
Follow them to the supplemental food table. One grabs candy bars, junk
foods, and soda pop (if available), while the other gets nutrition bars
Then monitor their performance and productivity the following shift.
Boots are fireline safety equipment and food is fuel. If you use the wrong
fuel and don't maintain your equipment then bad things happen on the
||Well, at first I was amused, but now I'm getting worried about the
responses concerning boot heels. The reason I'm amused/worried is that the
high heel is designed to make it easier and more secure to work in steep
country. All of us here work, right? The high heel provides anchoring and
traction when wrasslin' with tools, saws, brush, etc., on hillsides. Ya
dig in yer heels, and bend yer back. When I was young and used to do such
things on the fireline, I clearly gained extra stability in my stance from
sinking my heel into duff or dirt. Just try working a saw or pulaski in
steep terrain with a low heel. And heading downhill in the soft stuff, you
plunge your heel and boy, that really helps.
Also, these boots are evolved from caulked logging boots, and the high
heel helps immensely with traction and stability when walking over logs
and branches - it's much more stable when standing on a log or hooked over
a branch. These boots were designed primarily for working in the woods
rather than long hikes.
The high heel has been a feature on logging boots since the 19th
century (way before there were smokejumpers). In fact, I'm making an
assignment for every one reading this site to go get Norman Macleans book,
"A River Runs Through It" and find the part that describes
White's boots. I think it's "Logging and Pimping and Your Pal
Jim" or else it's "USFS 1919, etc." This material will be
on the test.
Sheesh, today's kids...
Granted, that high heel's not much of a help on rocks (or in fire camp,
you camp puppies, heh heh), but the high heel on logger/fire boots is
there to help you hold on sidehill in duff and dirt.
When you get as old as me, you just wear them to impress people and
have the hotties check out your...never mind.
||High heels may not be totally to blame but I'm sure they play some part
in broke-down knees. Probably the everyday wear and tear of hiking in the
mountains over rough terrain is a larger factor. Seems logical if the heel
is too high it will throw off the natural walking motion. When natural
motion is disrupted, you put more strain on other parts of your body. You
may "strain" a bit and that tends to get you hurt.
Everyone knows what happens when you hurt an ankle. To compensate, you
begin walking differently. Pretty soon your knees start to ache. Seems a
boot with a lower heel and an excellent arch support would be much better
for us all in the long run than the high heeled boots we have.
On the other hand, I'm used to my "heels". They've kept me
from taking many a tumble and when your carrying a saw or using it in
mountain goat country, tumbles can be deadly.
||Bought my first pair of ff boots for $42.50 (per pair, not per boot)
just before they were to go up to $45.00. They were Whites. Wore them just
about forever, until I spilled fuel on them and didn't clean them up.
Dried them out and they split. Since then I have worn several kinds of
boots of various types and cost. Still have a soft spot for Whites, though
I haven't tried Nicks.
I was told the reason for the "tall" heels ( my preferred
description as for some reason I'm not very comfortable being called the
"guy in the high heels" ) was that they throw your weight
forward making it easer and taking less energy to walk. That is why the
boots are good to walk in but don't feel nearly as good just standing
around. There may not be a lick of truth in it, but that's what I was told
and it sounds O. K. to me.
I was reading on the They Said it part about hotshots and others having
problems with knees, yes I too have a bad knee from wearing a heavy pack,
after 4 years on a shot crew and 2 of those being on a saw team, it does
wear on your body but your knees mostly.
There is a company that I think have fixed the problem, they are called
True North Fire Gear, and they make a fire pack called FireFly, I have not
got a chance to wear the pack on wildland fires yet but I did do some
short hikes with it, and I can say that after the hikes my knee did not
hurt as it would with wearing the other fire packs I have used.
Hope it helps,
||Snacks are an important part of our diet. I have no idea how many times
I have opened a sack lunch, just to find a lunch i cant eat Be it
something that is too old - or inedible. Snacks to the rescue. I agree
there has to be a limit.
On the Florence / Biscuit fires I would see the snack distributors 53'
tractor there twice a day; That was just our camp on the Chetco.
I heard the rumor that they were spending close to 100k a day on snack
food (just a rumor - w/ no backing) Perhaps a limit on what people can
take would be appropriate. Just a thought
||I guess we won't to be giving out any good snacks in firecamp next year.
Probably ought to just go with bread and water then the bean counters
Anybody partake of these "extravagant, exotic or costly snacks"?
What could they be? Candied mangoes? Double stuff oreos?
My crew just got the regular snacks.
Read on... for excerpts from the report from the Incident Accountability
Team (IAT) that apparently received several allegations of extravagant
spending for the purchase of supplemental foods. Their report includes the
The IAT understands the importance of supplemental foods to the health,
safety and well being of firefighters. Only those items that reduce
fatigue and improve mental alertness should be purchased at a reasonable
Policy: The incident agency is responsible for providing the
supplemental food and drink policy to the IMT (FSH 5109.34, 25.4).
Within the Forest Service, there is no National supplemental food and
drink policy, therefore, each agency administrator of a fire must ensure
that a policy is provided to the IMT.
1. Each Agency Administrator should issue a supplemental food policy
if one does not exist on the incident.
2. Supplemental foods are only to be purchased as provided in the policy
for the incident.
3. All individuals associated with the ordering, purchase and
distribution of supplemental foods should use good, prudent judgment and
to avoid those items that may appear to be extravagant, exotic or
4. Units should also review and share the cost of supplemental food
purchases with the Incident Management Teams on a regular basis to
ensure proper management is occurring. The ultimate responsibility for
the management of supplemental foods rests with the local agency
The IAT also recommends that the issue of supplemental food be
addressed Nationally, before next fire season, to determine once again
if there is a consistent National policy for all Forest Service managed
I always thought the high heel on Whites/Nick’s, etc., was originally
designed to keep the stirrup strap secure on SJ’ers jump suits. Can
anyone confirm that?
I do not know about the effects of the elevated heel on knees and
backs. My knees are pretty much shot, but I blame that on carrying modest
to heavy loads, e.g. MKIII pumps, Gerry cans, CJRL, Hudson pump bags, line
pack, etc., on steep terrain for years. I also used to do this downhill
trot, sort of a controlled fall or modified glissade, when I was on talus
or soft dirt. I don’t think my knees appreciated that much.
But, would advise never to walk straight uphill, always zigzag as it
will put less strain on the knee joint, especially when carrying a heavy
Nick’s, my boot of choice for 20+ years, as probably being the best
for most folks. High quality insoles are important. Wear one pair cotton
or wool sox.
If you get foam or retardant on your boots, remove as soon as possible,
your friendly Water Tender Operator should be able to help. Use only neets
foot oil and saddle soap for maintenance. Use only leather laces and
rotate the eyelets, with a Leatherman or Swiss Army blade periodically.
One last trick was to callous the bottoms of my feet in the spring by
going barefoot as much as possible. It gives you an extra natural leather
pad and helps prevent any blistering or bruising.
the discussion about high heeled boots and knee and back problems is a
good one, and as someone who works the lines in the summer to help pay for
med. school, an interesting one to me. there is lots of anecdotal evidence
out there, and i heard something once about the FS studying jumpers' knees
(though i would have picked hotshots). anybody know the results of that
a couple things to keep in mind when trying to find boots:
-everyone's foot is different: high arch, low arch, morton's toe (2nd
toe bigger than first = a contributor to knee problems), etc. find a boot
that fits you and is comfortable for you. unfortunately, boots are
expensive and due to a long break in time, you don't often know until its
too late. talk to the folks who make the boots. also, try to find a good
doctor who can recommend something for your foot - more arch support,
less, etc. unfortunately, doctors are expensive, and you don't often know
about them until its too late either.
-nobody's body was designed to do fireline work for an extended period
of time. some may handle it better, but everyone will eventually break
down if they stay at the job long enough. humans weren't designed to carry
35 lb packs for 16 hours a day while on steep slopes - there's no way
getting around it.
-there are good and bad doctors out there: finding one that you're
comfortable with is the most important part. you should be able to trust
your doctor - and if you can't, hopefully you can find a new one. but also
remember that most doctors have very little idea of what a body goes
though during fire season - explain your job as much as possible. ask
questions about your foot and the types of footwear that might help
alleviate your pain.
-take care of your knees and back as much as possible. i haven't seen
many firefighters stretching. and i've never seen guys ice their knees
(though thats tough in the field). but firefighters' bodies go through as
much stress as competative runner or football players. maybe this is a
part of the fire culture - a grin and bear it mentality. though sometimes
an ounce of prevention....
anyway, hope this helps some out there,
I have been alternating between a pair of Whites and Nicks for a few
years now. I really can't tell the difference except the Nicks do have a
thicker sole (1/4") and better quality leather. But I have had no
knee problems and I have been wearing Whites exclusively before 1979. I
had some minor knee problems in High school from track and cross country,
but nothing since.
On the matter of Condritin and Glucosamine, I have tried taking that
combo as a preventative measure (40+ years old and I hope to stay on the
fireline through 50), and I did notice a little improvement in my ankles
and hips as far as occasional pain, but what I really noticed was an
increase in my blood cholesterol, the bad kind. So keep an eye on that if
you utilize this supplement.
Just did a quick Google search. There is a connection with LDL (bad)
cholesterol. In addition, the two collagen supplements mentioned above,
which are sometimes taken for arthritis, can also be harmful to those (of
northern European descent) who are prone to a condition called Dupuytrens
Contracture (nodules in hands and/or feet, progressing to greater
deformity and perhaps involving shoulder, etc).
My friends, before taking any supplement or med, please consult your
physician for negative side effects (and research it on the web). Ab.
Good link to the investigation of the Biscuit Fire in your post of
I'm happy to see that some taxpayers are asking questions about some of
our interagency ineffectiveness. Possibly our customers can goad us into
The second link you sent on 10/9 seems to be the most
accurate. I heard that some folks in Del Norte county are pretty hacked.
The cross-border problems just go on, and on, and on................
Thanks for the info.
I have one knee hotshot.
The other has had the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) replaced.
says I will have to have the hotshot knee replaced soon.
Says, he sees few 10-15 year veteran firefighters
who don't have a knee or back problem,
a back or knee problem.
Of course hes the regular SawBones
so meebe his sample is skewed
the "broken an' worn out" end of the
He advises, Get em fixed
the longer you wait, the worse is the interior wear.
An' arthritis starts early.
But I've seen his hack saw an' I'm not eager.
I'll have to ask him what he thinks about
pains or ailments related to
--tall heeled boots.
Keep him talkin' and he's less likely to get out that
As far as backs go,
some o my buds have Lumbar
L4 and L5 problems
Think theyre related to tall heels?
Must ask 'em.
Bad knees and backs seem to go with the
I would think that conditioning,
posture, good livin' an' safe practices have
a big influence on the longevity of back and knees.
Don't know about boots.
Hmmmmm, since I've had good conditioning, posture,
have lived very well
--must be the boots that'r the culprit.
Now just Hop-a-Long
||All the discussion about high heel boots, not one comment as to why
boots generally seen on the fire line and in the brush have high heels? I
did ask the question of an old boot maker as I was getting fitted for my
first pair of custom boots, Buffalo's, when Buffalo was still in Seattle
in an old brick building under the freeway, way way long time ago. It was
a heavy boot but felt like slippers when I had them on, Then some SOB
broke into my truck and ripped them off...
But I wander, anyway the bookmaker said the "clip heel" or
"cruiser heel" was designed that way so a person would cover
more ground with each step. Whether that is true or not I do not know, but
does make sense if you think about the mechanics of waking and how much
farther your foot travels with a clip heel vs. a flat heel, not much but
over the course of the day it does add up. And does the high heel extend
your leg so you are taking a longer step with each stride?
||All I can say is that hunting boots do not have high heels. Do companies
that make them know something? Well, yeah.
8 Point Buck
I wonder how many crew bosses, squad bosses and groundpounders there
are who have worked five, ten or more years who don't have bad knees.
Probably not many.
We should be documenting knee injuries. Every time you limp off the
fire line, record it. Seems we should be able to make the case for knee
problems being presumed to be job related. What do you think?
How is pursuit of that presumptive illness/disability legislation going
Crip, formerly called Strider
||Hey there I ran across your website and I really like some of the
pictures on there. I have one of my own to submit of the recent fires
in the mountains above Azusa, CA. Hope you enjoy it and keep up the
Check our Main Page photo. Or make this your Wallpaper.
For the panoramic view see Fire 13
photo page. Great shot of the Williams Fire. Thanks Erin. Ab.
We are currently seeking individuals with extensive fire experience to
assist us in training the future leaders of wildland fire. The National
Wildland Firefighter Academy is presenting the outstanding "Fireline
Leadership" course, put on by Mission Centered Solutions, to our
Advanced students. We seek experienced fire instructors to perform as the
subject matter experts, in conjunction with MCS instructors, to teach this
highly-regarded, well-received class. Your forum looks like an excellent
venue to solicit this help. Please consider posting the application on
your site. Call me at 916-643-4867 if you have any questions. Keep up the
great work! We all appreciate the forum you offer.
HERE's the "Instructors
Needed" document and application. I converted it into html and
was not able to provide the Forest Service headers but the rest is
accurate. I'll put a link to this on the Jobs page also. Deadline is
November 15th. Ab.
||I started fighting fire with some track injuries, mainly to my knees. I
talked to my "orthopod" (HAW HAW HAW, he does look like a
crustacean!) about the "high heel" theory and he said that
without proper support and alignment, high heeled boots will cause
problems. I showed him a pair of Nicks and Red Wings. He said that the
Nicks would cause less problems due to the higher arch support. He said
also that the boot should be constructed so that person's weight is
balanced over the boot's center.
||ERL wrote: "It is also interesting that if you have been charged
but not convicted you still will not be hired (innocent until proven
guilty?). I don't know at what level of crime this starts, but I have had
applicants that I wanted to hire that I could not."
The BLM does not have any official policy of not hiring people that
have been convicted of crimes. I have hired people that have been
convicted of offenses that range from from minor to major (time served).
They can be passed over pretty easily if the hiring official wants to, but
they don't have to be. My approach has been that sometimes people make
mistakes, and if they have made amends and they are a good hand, then they
can be considered for fire jobs. No one has shown me a policy that says I
can't do that. Strong recommendations and references from people I knew
and respected are what usually got me to overlook the record (hint, hint).
But if an applicant states they haven't been in any trouble with the
law and then it's shown otherwise, the app can be tossed (or if you get
hired, you can be fired later on if you lied on your app). I have seen
people checked out that responded 'no' - I knew one guy that used to check
out people that he wanted to get around on the roster to see if they had
an unmentioned DWI or something, so whatever you do, don't omit or lie
about any recorded brushes with the law. But also don't believe people
that say they can't hire you just because you've been convicted - they can
hire you, however they can also use your record as a reason not to.
Another exception is if the conviction makes it impossible for you to
do the job duties as listed in the PD - things like a revoked driver's
license, or if you're unable to leave the state.
So, you may not get a fire job if you've got a record, but you should
also know that your record doesn't necessarily prevent you from being
hired. If you can get someone in the fire community to put in a word on
your behalf to the hiring official, that can help. And the hiring official
may have to wrangle with supervisors or HR people, but if you're having
trouble hiring someone because of a brush with the law, ask to see the
policy in writing. No one's ever been able to show anything to me that
said no convictions allowed.
||Re: Knee problems...
Knees are like parents...its' very painful when you lose them...and you
miss them the rest of your life. Be kind to them.
High heels ( I would prefer to call them "tall heels") might
aggravate knee problems or even cause some themselves. I had knee and
ankle joint problems since I was 14 years old and just stepped careful and
"sucked it up" when in pain. I did not take "pain
killers" as I did not want to ignore the pain and in doing so cause
more damage. As a firefighter high top boots laced tight helped prevent
ankle sprains but when I tried "tall heel" boots my knees became
much more painful nearly immediately. Medium heels seemed to be the best
for me...but I still had to grin and bear it after a series of long days
on the fireline. I was not alone it seemed since I spoke to quite a few
other firefighters over the years that had injured joints, especially
knees, which "flared up" occasionally and never seemed to
completely heal. Doctors will tell you that joints heal very slowly and
once injured tend to take abuse less well.
I am now what most firefighters would consider an "OLD GUY"
and for the first time in nearly 30 years my old joint injuries are gone!
I am not someone that takes pills or supplements...normally. Pain is there
to tell you something is wrong and nutrition is what food is for IMHO.
But...after a friend (health professional) gave me a bottle of
"nutritional supplement" Glucosamine and Chondroiten (500mg and
400mg respectively) my joint problems went away and did not return. Not
immediately...it took about a month and a half. While not a clinical study
I have to say in 30 years my knees have never been "stronger"
and less prone to "wearing out quickly". I don't sell these
supplements and except for this post don't promote them. If you have joint
injuries or chronic joint pain this may be worth a try. Might even be
worth taking if you have good knees and are in a profession which
"uses them up" like firefighting.
Sorry if this seems like I am trying to turn They Said into an
"old geezers" joint pain clinic....but most of the folks on the
line that I met with similar problems were "YOUNG GUYS" with an
otherwise long career in the outdoors ahead of them. And thanks for
keeping They Said up and running day in day out. I hope folks remember
that they can help support this site simply by buying things they need
(like presents for the wives and girlfriends they neglected all season)
through the Amazon "clickthrough". Ahem..by the way Ab where is
that thing? It has been a while since I used it (last Christmas) and I
can't seem to find it now.
Thanks for the reminder, Fireronin. I just bought a new computer
monitor using that Amazon "clickthrough". Amazon had the product
I wanted and their price was the best. It came in 3 days. (My old one blew
up with all the recent flaming over the harassment issue.) To find the
clickthrough, go to the Books page. The
Amazon rectangle is black and on the right. For us to get the few bucks
"kickback", ya gotta go through our site with each new order.
Every little bit from Amazon helps support this site.
While we're talking about the Books page, I do have some new books and
reviews to add, perhaps today. If people are looking for good fire books
for friends, check out the books page resource. I'll try to get the new
ones up asap.
When my FF1 class was applying for jobs, we were encouraged to fess up on
convictions, even driving drunk convictions. The problem was not in having
a conviction, but in not being honest about having one. I have heard some
grousing among CDF friends that CDF sometimes doesn't check up on people
who apply to fight fire. I don't know if that's generally the case, but
the comment did come up in at least one conversation as a limitation of
the hiring process. Anybody know for sure?
I also wonder about the reasonableness of hiring convicted arsonists to
fight fire - even those who have done their time. There was one arsonist
who was pointed out to me on the Megram Fire. Someone told me he had done
time. Can't remember if agency, contract or vollie. Apparently he was
shunned by firefighters who knew, but there he was... Does anyone know if
arsonists are hired? I'd have trouble trusting such a person to watch my
back. Geez louise, pin that guy down with a fork!
PS on boots. WELL, I for one won't wear high heel boots! It's impossible
to keep my seams straight -- in my wool sox! But I don't mind watching
those cute ff guys who do wear highheels! They definitely have a nice
walk! What do folks think about sore backs and high heels? Are those two
||"Waiting to Prance",
I have a pair of White Packer boots with vibram sole I bought in '95 and
wore for regular timber work in the woods plus occasional fire. They have
a higher heel (similar to the old Buffalo's I think) than the White
Smokejumper and the Nicks. I'm in my early 40's and not best of shape
now, light build, and if I wear them alot on flat ground, from time to
I have knee strain due to the high heel. Working out in the woods on
mixed and steep ground doesn't seem to be a problem because of the
variation of posture and stresses. I would not get that high of heel
again, regular White's or Nick's would be less stress. Also, I would would
really watch you stance and foot placement going straight downhill. If
you're planting your feet flat on a steep downhill ( like tiptoe, which
would be unsafe and unstable anyway), the leverage on your knee and
cartilage is huge. I have felt my knee joint "slipping" doing
long as you're consciously digging your heels in (which is the beauty of
these good boots), then it's like walking down stairs, much safer, and
less strain on the old knees and back.
I've heard the Nicks vs. Whites sales pitch from "Nick" himself
while in a
fire camp one time. If he's shooting straight, sounds like his boots are
built more the old way that Whites used to be, before they went into mass
production (more, thicker layers of insole, more stitching on the welt,
heavier leather etc.), and for the same price (back then). So I would
lean to the Nicks. I would dish it out for the full hand-stitch,
fully-rebuildable version, not the cheaper, machine-stitched, for the long
haul. My packers are elk tan, and really breathed well in New Mexico (I
didn't oil them for years, which was probably a mistake, I just don't like
sweaty feet) However, I have been told that Elk tan was a bunch of hooie
and didn't make that much difference. Plus, I like the rough out for wear
and tear in the brush.
There, that ought to stir things up a bit!! I like "boot-talk",
always listening for new info, so let's hear it.
||Applicant's legal history:
The BLM checks. This used to be a standard question on the old SF-171.
With the advent of Quickhire this is not asked for until later in the
hiring process on another form which I can't remember the number for. It
seems that it is up to the applicant to respond if they have a history or
not, I have never encountered having someone responding no to the question
checked. It is also interesting that if you have been charged but not
convicted you still will not be hired (innocent until proven guilty?). I
don't know at what level of crime this starts, but I have had applicants
that I wanted to hire that I could not.
From what I have heard from some CDF folks, is this. CDF will not close
the season until CA. receives 5 inches of rain. I have been told that they
will be hiring seasonals to replace those who are coming up on 9 months
(especially up North). The airtankers are scheduled to stay on the same
length of time. They have not spoken about money or if staying on longer
will affect their budget next season.
||Waiting to prance:
I've got a pair each of Whites and Nicks. I've been wearing them
religiously, one or the other since March 2000. Now I'm having some
serious knee problems. The orthopod says it's chronic over use. I find
this hard to believe at only 26 years old. Whether it's the boots or not,
I don't know for sure.
Talk to the folks at Whites and Nicks, or whoever you get your boots from
and ask them what they think. Sure it might be a bit biased but they've
been pretty good to me. Also check with some of the "older"
folks on your crew. You know, they're the ones who've had the same boots
since Jesus was a seasonal. Ask the're opinion. We need to do more of that
in this job.
||For all the folks from the US who want to fight fire
"DownUnda": a very concise and detailed answer from Tony Blanks
in Tasmania about why it's damn near impossible!
Tony was over helping us out in Idaho and Montana in 2000.
At present the only agencies with a seasonal employment program that I
know of are mine, the Parks and Wildlife Service here in Tasmania, State
Forests in NSW, another small operator, and the Victorian Department of
Natural Resources and Environment (NRE). Our program is tiny, we employ
20-25 people, State Forests is similar as far as I know, and NRE employs
500-600. There is no Australian federal government equivalent of the
Forest Service or the Department of the Interior land management agencies:
BLM, NPS, FWS, BIA. In Australia, all land management functions are
conducted at State level, and there are no extensive tracts of Federal
lands, or rather none in the sense you know them in the USA.
NRE already has an exchange program in place with BC Forestry in
Canada, principally exchanging rappellers. This is a long standing
arrangement, with a formal agreement between the State and the Provincial
governments. Because of the high level of unemployment in Aus, and the
restrictions on employing overseas personnel (both legal and political)
NRE has generally been unwilling to employ additional people from overseas
to undertake basic firefighting for fear of jeopardizing the rappel crew
exchange program. Thats not to say it doesn't happen, but not often, and
it really depends on the circumstances.
I employed a Canadian firefighter a couple of years ago, and would be
happy more overseas personnel if i could do it without too much grief.
However there are a few problems which make it difficult to do, and a fair
bit of work for me which makes it a bit of a drag to do.
First of all, if you are under 27 and haven't previously had a working
holiday visa you can get one of those, which allows you to work legally in
Aus. If you just come as a tourist on a normal automatic entry you have no
right to work, and without a work permit no government agency, state or
federal, will touch you. The catch is that the working holiday visa
entitles you to work for a max period of 3 months in total and is meant to
cover casual bar work, fruit picking etc, definitely not to cover someone
coming to a pre-arranged job.
A major problem if you are ducking and diving around the visa
conditions is the workers compensation insurance: travel insurance
generally doesn't cover injuries received while working illegally. That
would leave the employing agency carrying the can, and ultimately the
person who employed you would be in serious strife.
The other alternative is for you to come on a Business Visa with Work
Permit. To get one of those you must be sponsored by the employer, in this
case one of the the State Governments, which would have to demonstrate
that there was absolutely no-one in Aus who could do the work before the
visa would be approved. That means, publicly advertising the position and
then having a cast iron reason to reject every local applicant. The
employer is responsible for all your medical expenses etc, and it costs a
$2000 application fee on top of all that, which is non refundable if the
If that sounds hard, I can only say I guess you haven't ever applied
for a permit to work in the USA as a foreigner. The INS is downright
hostile unless you are in one of the identified target groups, eg a
computer software developer perhaps.
Sorry to be a wet blanket, but its better that you know the general
situation before you spend too much time on this project.
You might like to ask your local crews how they have arranged matters,
and where they are going to be working. I haven't heard of firefighters
being brought to Aus from the US, or even any serious talk of it
Senior Fire Management Officer
Parks and Wildlife Service
||More photos are up on Fire 13
photo page and a few more interesting pics added to the Miscellaneous
2 page. Thanks to MM for the great pics of the Cone Fire and to Phil
for the Williams Fire photo on Fire13 and to D for the Billboard and Flag
pics on Misc2. It's great to have the photos coming in.
The jobs page and
wildland firefighter Series
462 and 455 are
updated. Check 'em out.
||The pilots who lost their lives Oct 1st 1992 fighting the Cleveland Fire
on the Pacific District of the Eldorado National Forest CA, were Chuck
Sheridan and Leonard Martin. My thoughts and prayers are still with their
families. May they fly high on their golden wings and look down on the
rest of the fire family and keep us safe.
Thanks, I added that to the description of the memorial. Ab.
||Ok, now that the season is over I have a bit too much free time.
Here's a question the crew couldn't answer that interests me:
What happened to Region 7? Where did it go?
||Waiting to Prance again..
I know there are studies concerning highheels being bad for ones back and
neck. There are also studies concerning Toe Shoes that ballerinas wear.
But none that I know of with fire boots. I have toe shoes, highheels and
Whites boots and I would wear my Whites any day over all the others. My
Whites I have worn for 361/2 hours straight, have even slept in them and
never had any problems. I love them. Most comfortable boots I have ever
"Toes Shoes to Whites Boots"
||CA has no money. Rumors fly that CDF stations and camps will close. Does
anyone know the truth to this?
||I am starting to think about my next pair of boots. I was wondering if
anyone knows if the high heels on fire boots contribute to knee stress or
knee injury. My wife says highheels worn by women affect posture and joint
injury. Have any studies been done on ff boots? Anyone else have
experience with knee injury that might be connected with high heels?
Waiting to prance again.
||This summer one conversation at firecamp circled around what agencies if
any screened for prior criminal record of applicants, either misdemeanor
or felony. We wondered about USFS, BLM, NPS, BIA, CDF and other state fire
departments. I'm sure FS ff applications and I think CDF ask questions
about this. Are those responses ever checked? There probably are
differences in which agencies looks for what. Who is most rigorous in
checking? Do some agencies check only for particular offenses, arson, say?
||Good Morning Theysaid!
We put up more new photos on Equipment
4, Helicopters 8, Miscellaneous
2 and Logo 5 pages.
Check the Fire Tank apparatus. (equip4)
More helo shots (heli8)
Does anyone know anything about the pilots that were lost on Tanker 61 on
the Cleveland in '92? (misc2).
New logos from the Hobart Hotshots and Bridger Fire. (logo5)
More coming soon. THANKS to all contributors. P'Hew.
Me thinks the Bo Derek appearance occurred on the Marre Fire in 1993(?) on
the LP. I remember hearing about it but was busy protecting Michael
Jacksons "Ranch". A strange fire indeed.
Clearly this season has slowed down considerably if we have time to shut
down an entire region for some magazine clippings in a crew buggy. This
thing should have never left the forest, we seem to get more pathetic
every year as we publicly over react to such things.
To verify your account regarding the "10" celebrity, the answer
is yes, she was there. This was during the 1993 Marre Fire in
Santa Barbara County. Bo Derek and her late husband John visited
the Base Camp somewhere around Day 10 to thank the Firefighters
for defending their ranch in the hills.
The Overhead People welcomed her in, had her "Check-In" like
everyone else, gave her a tour, she went around and signed autographs
on timesheets, hats, arms, t-shirts, etc.. I remember a CDF Division
Chief from Butte RU waiting in line for 30 minutes with a big
grin on his face when she did an autograph for him. She also
had a lot of individual and group photos with firefighters, crews,
and staff taken. She and her husband stayed for dinner and Night
Shift Briefing before leaving.
The fire was the Los Padres NF, and it was the big fire that
precluded the two huge groups of fires in Southern California
in October and November of that year.
Funny thing was with Ms. Derek visiting the incident base
there were no complaints from anyone or filings of sexual harassment,
and she was by far the best looking woman in the camp that day.
No one filed a grievance because she was having pictures taken
with male and female crews and staff. Her being there or photos
being taken didn't affect work production.
I still find it funny that the grievance filed against the
LP Shots was done by a private individual who had no business
snooping around in any government or privately-owned vehicle,
and not filed by another government employee. This should have
been a non-issue from the start because of who reported it, but
the FS staff had to be Politically Correct again. I wonder who
was promoted for pursuing this issue?
Again, to DAR-5re, yes, this was a true story. And guess
what, no one there felt sexually harassed by her presence.
||Lots of new photos up on the Biscuit/Florence
fire page. Thanks to DS for sending them in.
Other photo contributors, I'm working my way thru the collection. Hope to
be caught up soon.
||Is this how some of our policies are made?
Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana
on a string and place a set of stairs under it.
Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the
banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys
with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the
same result - all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty
soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys
try to prevent it.
Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace
it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the
stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him.
After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the
stairs, he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a
one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous
takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third
original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time
the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys
that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the
stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys
have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again
approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not?
Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done around
And that, my friends, is how company policy begins.
||yeah. something is bugging me and it ain't spilled out yet. Mollysboy
rang a bell. Oh I know - in 1975, I ran a fire crew that had 5, yes, you
can count em - 5 females on the 20 person crew. Did harassment mean
anything to them. Hell no. They had their own harassment mojo working for
them and it got them to some very high and worthy places. In fact on
firesI kept them together on one squad so when the moon was full and all
the hormones were in sync, I never had such a fun-filled, sick-joke, near
animalistic shifts with them. They were so good I had to keep a safe
distance from them and the lair of the rest of the crew. In fact, I
believe it would have been unsafe to send any man within 100 feet down to
their section of the line.
Yes, things have changed. In the cusp of all this - far more for the
better. But, whoever that gal was that said she was the first woman on the
line - tell her to take a number. There's been many more. And some of
those went on to very high command positions in this organization. Just
wanted to let the folks know that women have been contributing to the
fireline for many years longer than most know. The best ones didn't brag
about it - they did their duty, spit their share of the chaw and went
in professional manner. And boy could they sing!
Finally, some time to relax......R-3 is still high to very high, and
we're look'in to the west for our first precip! Yea, right! The drought
years just keep on a coming!
you question regarding the USFS Fire shirt's.....Traveling T's out of
Reno, sorry that I don't have a number, but I went back on my
"fire" expenditures for the season and found a CC receipt.
Have AB send you my e-mail addy, and I'll give you a couple of near misses
that I was directly involved in around the early/mid '90s here in R-3.
Anyone out there from CDF land, I have heard numerous rumors from the
folks on the floor at local county stations and admin folks in the emerald
office in Sac city that the CDF is about to have an examination for
engineer/paramedic and captain/ paramedic. Can anyone tell me
when......I've heard a few weeks to next March. I was also told that this
is going to be a BIG REQUEST FOR PARAMEDICS. I was told that the CDF wants
paramedics at every schedule "A" station and most of, if not all
Schedule "B" stations.
This is going to be really hard order to fill, considering that the DOT
national paramedic program is heading for the two year training programs,
California state wide is shy about 1500 paramedics (per the CA EMSA) and
nationally, we are seeing a shortage of fire experienced paramedics just
to fill the current fire department jobs that are out there.
||I got a chuckle out of the Los Prietos incident, when it seems like it
very long ago that Ms. Bo Derek herself was given an exclusive opportunity
to visit fire camp and meet the boys....and if my memory serves me
correctly, firecamp was on the LP itself?? Was is not a FS incident? I
can;t remember for sure, it could have been a CDF incident. And was
there not an autograph session, with pictures available? I was not there,
so all I can repeat is hearsay, maybe someone will correct me.
I wonder how the women working in camp felt about that visit?
I have no idea what was in the IHC's crew buggies, how visible it was, or
how badly and how many people were offended from it. Just from what I have
read, it sounds like the croo supt and foremen should be held accountable
for not complying with agency policy, along with all others in management
that were aware of the situation and did not take corrective action. The
rank and file of the crew should be allowed to skate, IMHO, after their
refresher training session with the civil rights person on their forest.
Please note, I did say "held accountable," which does not imply
nor hanging, nor removal from their positions.
I thought the way it was leaked to the press was unprofessional,
unethical and maybe libelous, IMHO. It was a personnel issue and nothing
more. I"m surprised it rated a story.
But my point is this. Management does need to consider what can happen
when they send mixed messages. And admiration for sexual and physical
attractiveness is heavily engrained in the American culture, its not going
away anytime soon. Proof is Ms Derek, who was probably making a lot more
money than your doctor and kid's teacher...combined.. at the time.
And we need to consider that there is a lot of grey in this
matter, not that much black and white. What if it had been just one bikini
photo, one of Ms. Derek, given to the crew on that fire? That probably
would have been acceptable to management. So how many does it take to be
unacceptable? How skimpy does the bikini have to be? How untalented the
celebrity (male or female) before it crosses the line from acceptable to
unacceptable? Maybe I'd better get that old box of Ivory Snow Flakes out
of my rig...LOL
Just returned from a fire on the Olympic National Forest. Who would have
thought of a fire on Washington's Olympic Peninsula in October? And hey,
there were real flames. Keep in mind the Olympic usually gets 10 feet of
rain per year......
If rainfall patterns don't change in the Pacific Northwest this winter,
could be an interesting fire season next year.
I nearly became physically ill when I heard the news about the bombing
in Bali and the number of Australian victims. I've been to that very night
spot in Denpasar. Bali is a beautiful, peaceful island. It's a mostly
autonomous, largely Hindu state in a Muslim country and frequented by
Catching up on They Said and reading about the LP issue, perhaps it's
time for some people to have a reality check.
And take a breath.
There are REAL problems in the world outside the Happy Valley we cocoon
ourselves in. If you want to see pure evil, look at Bali, 9-11 or the
sniper in D.C. Those responsible for this carnage are our problem, not
some firefighter who displayed a flash of immature, boorish behavior most
efficiently addressed by a diligent supervisor.
Snake River Sparky
Sitting here lurking all summer and I finally got my craw filled...
All this Bitchin and whining and pointing fingers. My God ! Can't we all
get along ?
Lets leave this Sexual harassment thing to the HR people of the USDA and
get on to something more productive.
Here are some way down on the farm facts,
Be safe out there and look out for each other.
- Some people are too thin skinned.
- Some people just don't know how to be considerate of others.
- Its the law. If you don't like it, call your congressman.
||I've been quiet but had to throw something in -------
Firefighter Jane -
Don't let the recent posts condemning you for personal attacks stop you
the fight. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.
I don't know what's going on down there but I'm going to look into it.
Obviously there's more here than most of us know. Ab can always use the
magical editing tool to fix any post. We sure don't want to upset people.
LP Hotshots -
Hang in there!!!! You've never been anything less than professional when
I've run across you. Doesn't matter if you're man or woman. Had a chance
work with you on the Williams Fire, you did a great job and as always, it
a pleasure. Hope management gets their heads on straight.
Just sign it -
Firechaser from R5
||I feel I have to defend some of the people who have written some nasty
stuff. I agree with Ab about reading your post before submitting it, I
have been caught in the past posting personal attacks on people and
feeling bad about it when reading it after it was posted.
There are plenty of reasons why this is a big issue right now. I think
the reason people are so mad and personally attacking each other is
because readers either don't know or are forgetting that this subject was
dealt with at the LP Forest level with the Forest Ranger, Fire Management,
and the Forest Supervisor ONE MONTH before the article was submitted to
the news media. The issue was dealt with and all the pictures where taken
down at the same time. In addition, there was a stand down and educational
meetings were attended.
The LP is a different place (and people don't take this the wrong way,
I am not saying we are better then anyone else). What I have seen and
experienced working here for the past 10 years is pride, excellence, work
ethic, being professional, experience, helping those in need, backing each
other and trying to make positive changes for the agency.
I appreciate everyone's comments in this forum- that is why I read it
and post my comments also.
I think alot of the people that work on the LP feel that the way the media
was used to bring this all out in the open after solutions were underway
was wrong. They are pissed at those using the media for their personal
agendas and are venting their frustrations here. There is alot more to
this subject that people do not know about, the readers are just getting
bits and pieces and making their judgments on that.
So please let us keep everything in perspective and not wage personnel
war on each other like J.M. and the fearsome foursome had apparently
intended. I know it will be hard to do because the crew is so well
respected by people who like and dislike them.
Unsigned, this Ab appreciates your posts and also likes it that, in the
past when you have felt uncomfortable with what you've sent in, you ask us
to change it.
Thank you so much for binging a little understanding back to the nasty
recent posts have taken. I was about to try to voice something similar but
can do no more now than say "right on!"
I spent the first half of my career outside R-5 (starting in 1976) and
came to CA during the height of the Consent Decree, so I saw it from both
sides. The problems were pretty much the same in other regions but the
divisiveness didn't have quite the emotional intensity that the CD
We in R-5 have come a long way in healing all the damage of those years,
but apparently we have a ways to go.
Firefighter Jane, I REALLY wanted to agree with the intent of your
but it got lost completely in your offensive personal attacks on Flamette
and the latest RO bullies.
Flamette, I did not agree with your position, but I certainly have
compassion for what you may have gone through in your career. It is time
to take off the "they done me wrong" glasses now (if you have
and start looking at life in a way that will let you heal, if that is
Folks out there apparently aren't aware that the LP crew wasn't the only
one that played into the latest round of management reaction. There was a
Tahoe crew buggy that also was found with material significantly more
graphic than the LP crew. The crews involved certainly need some major
tuning up, but I absolutely don't believe beheadings are called for. I
support both of the crews in standing up for themselves and also in taking
responsibility for stepping over the line. I do NOT support management in
making them an "example" for the rest of us. All that will
demoralizing a workforce that already believes management has no clue or
appreciation as to what it takes to provide the professional fire service
the federal agencies now enjoy.
Let the punishment fit the crime and not be influenced by the clamor for
political assassination. That could give me a reason to hope there is a
line officer with a little courage left out there.
And fire eaters, let us disagree but still be able to stand up for each
JW, did you have a question about helicopter use on the Biscuit early on?
This came out some time ago: Request to fight fire was denied (Sour
Biscuit Fire, California) http://www.triplicate.com/news/story.cfm?story_no=711
There is currently an investigation that has the goal of streamlining
||During the incidents down here on the Angeles there was a shirt vendor
was selling shirts with " USFS FIRE" on the back. Does anybody
have the name
or phone number of those guys?
||Sac (aka MR. H2os),
Give me a call...I know you have my # and you failed miserably at getting
I'd like to express my disappointment about the way that the postings
about the LP Hotshot issue have degenerated to personal attacks on the
folks expressing their opinions.
"They Said" is the best thing to happen in the wildfire
community in years: many of us can lay out our honest opinions on some
sensitive "hot button" issues without causing long-term damage
to our careers or credibility within the wildfire community. But this
topic is different: folks are posting comments degrading those with
ideas/opinions different than theirs. As a firefighter who spent very
little of my professional career in California, I was aware of the Consent
Decree, but not of the emotions it caused among otherwise level-headed
folks. But that still doesn't justify the unprofessional comments made by
some folks with another point of view.
I don't know how to address this in a calm, balanced manner on
"They Said", but worry that the current trend of degrading other
posters will ultimately hurt this great open forum, and result in more
folks "lurking" and unwilling to openly express their thoughts.
Mollysboy, we Abs have also been caught a bit off balance by the
personal attacks, although we are quite familiar with the fallout from the
Readers, I know the LP's problem is a hot button for many of us. Please,
after you write a post, I urge you to reread what you've written before
hitting the "send" button. Trying to address the issues rather
than attacking a personality usually yields the most educational outcomes,
even if we just agree to disagree. We Abs will work a little more
diligently at reviewing posts before putting them up, although our
inclination is generally to let theysaid flow as it will.
That said, we do believe theysaid should remain a forum where people
can write in without feeling they might be lethally attacked in a public
way for expressing an opinion.
||Well said Sac, people should not forget how much LP has brought to the
hotshot world and what an outstanding crew they are. I applaud your post.
Edwards MFD (Academy #10)
NIFC came out with the 2002 season summary.
National Fire News
it's with a heavy heart that I submit this.
MOSCOW, IDAHO --- A lumber company employee died while fighting a
prescribed burn that got out of control on Moscow Mountain.
A lighter note - the Foundations webstore has been updated and will
continue to be in the next few weeks.
Filo M. Reyolds, 43, of Harvard, died Monday at a fire on land owned by
Bennett Lumber Products north of Troy, officials said.
Reynolds was driving a bulldozer when it rolled down a hillside, the
Latah County Sheriff's Office said in a prepared statement.
The accident also is being investigated by federal Occupational Safety
and Health Administration.
The fire was intended to burn about 50 acres of slash and
undergrowth, the company said.
Go take a look www.wffoundation.org
Sad news. Ab.
||Sitting at home with a bum hip I finally decided to put my ten cents in
concerning some of the e-mails that I have read in the past few weeks
the LP Hotshots. I have to say that most of the mail has been well
supportive and from the heart. Knowing the facts it baffles me to see that
there are people out there that are still speaking from a orifice that is
quite a ways south from their mouths. I started my career as a wildland
firefighter in 1994. I was one of the lucky few that had the opportunity
join the Los Padres Hotshots back in 1994. I was only 19 years old when I
started there and felt privileged to know that my name was chosen to be a
part of that respected, PROFESSIONAL and elite family. The eight fire
seasons I spent with the Los Padres Hotshots were and still are the best
memories of my life. It was there I learned the true meaning of hard work,
team, PROFESSIONALISM and family. I learned there that we were all the
treated fairly and expected to work hard, STAY SAFE and take care of each
other on and off of the clock (we were family). We were expected to strive
for excellence in the field and in the classroom. We did that and then
We went to many fire assignments in the eight seasons I was there and
once did I fear for my safety or if we were going to be injured or worse
(not once). What the Los Padres Hotshots have done in the last 50 plus
should be applauded. The hard work, PT's, never ending practice line
construction, going the extra mile and just plain getting the jog done
SAFELY is what I applaud you fells for. Some people will never know the
scarifies a HOTSHOT makes in a typical fire season, so I will spell it out
for the folks that have so cowardly slandered the LP. Going home to you
family every night? (NOPE). Making plans in the summer time? (NOPE)
plenty of sleep? (NOPE) Eating right? (NOPE) Living in close quarters with
the same 20 people for 6 plus months? (YEP) See what i'm getting at? These
men and women are asked to do a job that 95% of Americans wouldn't. They
make sacrifices for the folks that won't do the job, can't do the job or
not willing to do it because they won't sacrifice.
These men and women have saved homes, saved communities and have made a
difference in some bodies life. They aren't asking for recognition, but
are asking for the truth to be heard and to be treated fairly. They have
done what any other crew has done in the past, they are doing their job
doing it well. I think as a firefighting community we should stand up to
accusations, be a family and protect each other in times of need.
That is what I have learned from being a LP HOTSHOT. TO THE CREW, keep
heads up high and don't forget who you are. You all have made sacrifices
get to where you are today. Don't listen to the individuals that
have never deserved or worn a green shirt. Oh, to FLAM-ETTE and the rest
the folks that decided to slander the LP (not knowing the facts) save your
breath, do your home work and maybe next time when you decide jump
on a band wagon you won't sound so infantile.
CR WATERS (SAC)
||Ab- If you haven't found it yet, here is a link the report:
Thanks JV. There you are, Tahoe Terrie. Ab.
Has the world gone completely mad? I am a frequent reader of "They
Said" and for the most part, do just that..read. But this "L.P.
Shots Sexual Harassment" case has gotten me so worked up, I hope this
message makes sense.
I am proud to be a female and yes a firefighter to boot! I don't have a
lot of time in by some standards, but have been doing this for something
close to 13 years. I have spent my time on everything from a Type 2
Handcrew, a helitack crew, a Type 1 IHC crew and even as an engine
captain. I have seen a lot of good females in my time and unfortunately I
have seen a lot of not so good ones, in fact some truly horrible
ones...the same can be said for my male counterparts as well. I have deep
respect for the females that have come before me and paved the way and at
times actually experienced true discrimination....but good lord, are we
really going to bring a crew to its knees for some silly pictures posted
in the buggies? If so, I guess I better call EEO and turn myself in as
Women who cry wolf, make my job harder and harder to do. For every 10
good hard working, kick assed females out there....it just takes one
stupid women to cry wolf and we (as females) are all lumped into the same
category..."As One of Those". It also makes those women/men who
truly have a case of discrimination/sexual harassment on their hands that
much less likely to bring it to light...because of the unflattering stigma
now given to people because of those who Cry Wolf!
Please, are we not grown up enough to talk to one another. If you find
something offensive, done by men or women...talk to them directly. Take
care of it at the lowest level, if no response...move it to the next
level. For Heaven's Sake, I am no innocent and will fess up to the fact I
have read Maxim (actually enjoyed it to) and a few other men's magazines
that I won't name and have told a few (what would be considered by some)
as off color jokes. Get your heads out of your a** and grow up. Don't cry
wolf over such silly issues. Save the true cases of sexual
harassment/discrimination issues for the ones that really count.
Sign Me....Disgusted with Cry Wolf Issues
||Fire Fighter Jane,
AMEN.... there are more that are with you then there are with "the
Have a great day.
||Help for Down Under
Two of the Erickson Skycranes arrived yesterday (Georgia Peach & The
Incredible Hulk). They will be unpacked and should be ready for operations
Sat or Sun. They will be based at Bankstown airport (about 10 miles from
Sydney's CBD). A third is expected to arrive in about a months time.
To all Aussies who read this please take care. With all of the Bali
in the burns units, we don't need anybody else needing to go to a burns
unit. Save yourself and let it burn.
Aussies, so sorry for your losses at Bali. Be Safe this fire season.
I hope you are rallying some of the women on the Forest to back the crew.
Here is a two year Fire Science school:
Crafton Hills College
It has an awesome program!
||Does anyone know where the Kate's Basin Report got to? Ab used to have
it linked at
Doesn't work now.
||From Firescribe a link to newsday.com:
Service warned on terrorism
||The firefighter who fell into the ash hole is reported to have 10% burns
to his legs. It could have been worse had he not had on full PPE. He's in
the <snip> Hospital's burn unit, has family with him, and crew
support behind him.
The story about the hidden hole is that it was created some time ago
when a depression was filled with brush and covered with dirt giving the
surface a flat appearance. The fire burned out the brush under the dirt
and when the firefighter moved in to put out the little bit of smoke
coming out of the dirt, he fell in up to his waist.
Be safe my brothers and sisters. We pursue a hazardous profession.
||Hi Mouse, Abs
OK Mouse here is what I could find for you on the Harlow Fire.
Start Date: 07/10/61 1020 hrs. Total acreage 41,200
Cause: Child playing with matches ( this does not match what folks on the
fire have told me was the cause)
Location: Chowchilla River drainage west of Miami Mountain, Madera
Fire occurred in the old Madera/Mariposa Ranger Unit of the CDF in the
Terrain: Steep river drainages heavy brush and timber
Resources assigned: 94 engine companies, 33 bulldozer companies, and 20
aircraft, a total of 2,154 firefighters assigned. There were 74 miles of
line constructed, the fire was controlled in 60 hours. There were 2
fatalities (2 local residents fleeing the fire). On July 11th, the fire
burned 20,000 acres in 2 hours.
The small towns of Ahwahnee and Nippinawasee were burned to the ground
along with 25% of the structures in it's path.
The fact that the area was extremely dry contributed to the long range
spotting which caused the fire storm on the 11th.
I hope this helps, Mouse.
Like I said earlier, since I live in this area, and worked for people that
were on the fire during initial attack, I have a very real concern about
what will happen when the next big fire happens in this area.
||To everyone who wrote in yesterday with corrections and additions to
the various pages, thanks.
Here's The Dragon Waits
a photo treat from Original Ab. Not quite the version he sent me earlier,
but lots of fun with Halloween coming. Compare with the wallpaper photo
original. Hey Abercrombie, thought you said once you aren't an artist.
Could'a fooled me.
San Jacinto College is a two year school. However, I did go to college
with a couple of folks that I think were on the ten year plan.
HAW, HAW, HAW, that's TX, I presume? Ab.
||Anyone have any info on the firefighter injured today on the Croy fire
mopup? Word is that a firefighter fell into a hot ash hole up to his
waist. Any details? Hope he's OK.
||Hi...I am a ff for the USFS and also a Fire Tech. student. For one of my
classes, I have to present a powerpoint presentation on a fire fatality or
near miss situation. However, I also have to interview someone who was
directly affected by the fire. I haven't really started looking at too
many fires yet, but if anyone has ideas for me and maybe was working with
a crew that may have been involved in a near miss...then maybe you can
post some info to help me! Thanks guys!!
Been lurking...but the Crummie Porno, made me want to jump in. I read
everyone's posts and the majority of the firefighters comments seem to
be...whats the big deal? Then there's Mollysboy, telling it like it,
I'm female, started working for the forest service in fire, in
1977...No Women, back then. I left the forest service for good in 1997....
I work in fire now for the state. Way more professional.
I've had my share of, off colored crap in that time frame. Once when I
was a FEO, my captain picked up his mail on our way out of the station,
and he sat back all comfy and studied the pictures in his latest Playboy,
while I drove 30 miles to our district office, he clearly was daring me. I
had only been his FEO for about 6 months, was new to the forest, like I
was going to stir it up. He had been a hotshot and is now he's an FMO.
Okay, so that may seem minor, reading the playboy in the engine, thats
the only mens magazine, in your face story that I got. I'll save the real
sexual harassment stuff for another post. The point is...
Give me a break about locker room mentality. Government vehicles are,
Government Vehicles. And the only place stuff like that belongs is packed
away in your fire bag, for that special moment when you're all alone in
I don't see, nude photos, on the walls in dispatch, or the forest
supervisors office, or in the Forest FMO's office, or the bank, post
office, doctors office, maybe at my auto mechanics shop, (but he owns his
business, doesn't give a sh*t)
It's about being employed by a federal government agency and having
some respect. .
I also worked on the Los Prietos Ranger District, in fire...I knew the
crew, the foremen and the supt. Yeah, they're good hotshots, but at the
Paradise Store, all beer 30'd up and talking foul after work, I wasn't
impressed. Just cause you're a hot shot, doesn't mean you should be
allowed to walk around with one hand in your pants firmly gripped onto
your woody. I'm sure the sexual undertones, wouldn't have impressed any of
their mothers either.
Heres the deal, until forests hold supervisors accountable for the
immature actions of their subordinates, nothing is going to change. And if
it takes a sexual harassment monitor to stop it, well, so be it. It's been
25 years since I started in fire with the USFS and the same things are
still going on. I'm glad I left and wouldn't go back for anything, except
maybe, that Monitors job.
Thanks Ab, for letting me vent.
||Good Morning All,
The jobs page and
wildland firefighter Series
462 and 455
were updated yesterday.
Some FALL updates:
We updated the National Team 1 IIMT page.
It was interesting to me to see where the teams fought fire this fire
season. Some teams have pictures they took on their assignments that
weren't included on the incident websites. We're considering adding a page
of all the Type 2 teams that have websites, since there are some nice ones
that are emerging. If you know of these sites, even if it's the link to
the team roster, please send in the urls.
We updated the fire sciences
school list (of 2 and 4 year colleges and universities that offer Fire
Sciences certificates and degrees). If anyone knows of other schools that
offer training and degrees in fire science or fire ecology, please let us
||RE Quill and Media Fears,
In the Forest Service, fire fighters often bitch about the lack of
media attention they receive relative to other management agencies,
particularly local fire departments and CDF. People complain that no one
knows what a wildland fire fighter is. And when stories like what happened
with the LP shots hit the papers, people complain that their voices go
Well, why then don't fire managers go out and get themselves noticed.
The forest service doesn't have to put more than a handful of people in
the limelight to make itself look like a respectable organization in the
public's eye. Does your average citizen know what a hotshot is? Do they
understand the special distinction of being a "wildland fire
fighter"? Probably not. Should they? Yes.
This would not be a hard task to accomplish, and would only require
minimal intrusion into fire fighting buggies, workplaces, etc. I don't
understand why federal fire management agencies are so unwilling to
receive public recognition for the hard work they do. Instead, the only
time the USFS is ever heard or seen on TV is when their employees light
off a million acres in Arizona and Colorado or when their elite fire
fighters get caught with "dirty" magazines.
The media can be easily manipulated, but fire managers seem to only
give this idea lip service. Why not manipulate the media to our advantage,
like everyone else does? Then maybe "wildland fire fighter" can
be a household term, deserving of its own respect and conjuring up its own
images of adventure, peril, and heroics.
Nomad, do a search on theysaid for the "Hatch Act" to find
a thread and some posts Mellie and others did this summer. You were
probably off on fire at the time. The Hatch Act is the root of the
conservatism the FS and other fed agencies demonstrate with the media. Ab.
The tornado in Missouri affected Mark Twain National Forest. You can get
their online information on the web at
||What fun, something I can talk about- treating the tornado blowdown.
Fire season is here, so it's lucky we hopped right on it.
From a July 25th report:
On April 24th 2002 a number of tornados ripped across southeastern
Missouri, two doing considerable damage on the Fredericktown and the
Poplar Bluff Ranger Districts of the Mark Twain National Forest. 6,200
acres of NF were damaged. On the Frederciktown RD, the damage path was
almost 20 miles long; on the Poplar Bluff RD, the path was almost 37 miles
long and reached force F4. Fuel models there vary between FM9 and FM12/13
with fuel loadings of downed mixed oak hardwood and shortleaf pine up to
100 tons per acre. The Forest received alternative arrangements for the
NEPA process from the President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
to reduce the fire hazard to approximately 750 homes adjacent to the NF.
Preliminary Fuels Analysis (PFA) and Environmental Analysis Document (EAD)
were posted early August and can be found at www.fs.fed.us/r9/marktwain/managment/news_releases/tornado_overview.htm
The summer saw hot weather in the 90s, 100s, and up to 110 with fuels
drying faster than expected. Precipitation was a little below average.
It's been a race against time to get the mess cleaned up before the
October fire season. Terrain is rough, the trees are jackstrawed, and the
blowdown is very dense (more than 90%) in some areas. We've used many saw
crews as well as dozers and skidders. We've had to construct 47 miles of
fireline/fuelbreak between private lands and Forest Service lands with
heavy fuel build-ups. At last Friday's report, there were approximately 30
miles of dozer line and 17 miles of fuelbreak constructed.
The good folks at Seaworld have a special offer for wildland firefighters
and their families.
Check it out.
There are standards for fire station design, NFPA has a set of
standards which includes living space, size of apparatus bays etc,
presumably there are standards for rest room facilities. OSHA also has
work space standards but these are not as specific to fire stations as the
NFPA stuff is. Here are a few sites you can begin investigating. We too
have been having issues with the design of a new station and the NFPA have
helped to at least show the plans the Navy had were far from satisfactory,
almost all of the spaces were only 50-75% of the minimums. Of course being
the government they can pretty much do as they wish leaving it up to
unions and other employee organizations to try to make them change it, the
fact that the station is already built probably doesn't help much, on the
otherhand the Federal government has adopted NFPA lock, stock and barrel
and is subject to OSHA regulations so if they are not in compliance having
the standards is a good start. I am not that familiar with the NPS put I
do know the DoD and USFS have very detailed regulations, if you can get
the NPS regulations you can probably find their regulations of living
One problem you may run into is whether or not people live in the
station, if they don't then you may run into management classifying the
station as a storage area rather than a work area. I will look through the
NFPA standards we were using for station requirements and see if there is
anything on facilities that would help you.
This is a commercial site to assist in developing fire stations, there
is lots of good information in here but takes some searching www.firestationdesign.com/
National Fire Protection Association website www.nfpa.org/Home/index.asp
Occupational Safety and Health Administration website www.osha.gov/
Outside of the station issues, how do you like the NPS fire program?
I've asked around but haven't been able to get much input from people who
are familiar with it. I understand they are adding a significant
structural program within the parks. Thanks
||As told to me, the saying about the Harlow Fire went something like....
"...The wind blew, the S&#t flew, and Nippinawasee only lasted
a minute or two!..."
The Timber Lodge Fire was near Midpines (Hwy 140) where the USFS
employees were burned. There was a fatality. Will look up the details and
post them back.
It has been part of the old fire fatality package for firefighter
"Another CDF BC"
We saw the Vandenburg shot in living color from our home in the Eastern
Madera County Sierra Nevada.
What a show!! Thanks for the heads up!
I will try to find the info you requested today and get back to you.
||I work for the Park Service. We've been in our new station for about 5
months. The problem is it has no restrooms or running water just like the
first station they built us about 5 years ago. For background, Station 1
and Station 2 are about 600' apart in the same complex. ( Doesn't make
sense to you either eh?) Station 1 was about 10 feet from a building with
2 restrooms and a separate single stall shower. Not bad.
Station 2 (the new one) building is 250 feet from that same building with
the showers and restrooms. That's the issue.
Each Station has room for 2 engines, office space and storage space or a
cache room above the offices.
Does anyone know if there are guidelines out there for wildland station
construction? I've seen a BLM memo about it online, but never a document
How about the distance to restrooms? Station 2 has 7 people assigned to it
at any one time. Is this too far from the restrooms according to any
standard or regulations?
Can anyone tell me where to look for more info?
Thanks, keep one in the black
||SB315 if you are at the NFA now, contact
I stand corrected about the Harlow Fire. There were no fire fighter
fatalities on that one. If it’s not too much trouble could you check out
the Timberloft (Timberlodge?) fire? I believe that is where the fire
fighter fatalities occurred. Not even sure of the date, bout the early 60s
A few years back I did the saw work on the fuel break at the bottom of
Deadwood (Oakhurst side). Amazing the size and density of the fuel load at
40 year growth.
About evacuation. There are so many considerations. In worse case
scenarios like multi ignitions (dry lightning or nut cases setting fires
for example) the idea of having already made preparations to "sit it
out" might look more safe than traffic hazards and congestion. And
then which way is out? I’m spending a lot of time around the river on
the Auberry-North Fork road these days. They are steep and narrow and in
places, have heavy, hot, fuel loading right up to the roads edge. Combine
that with the crazy unpredictable winds of the river canyons that go from
a dead calm to 40 MPH in a matter of seconds, it would be easy to get
trapped "on your way out".
Things have slowed down to a dull roar for me and I hope to re-activate
myself in the RCD soon. Hope we can get in touch on a local level as this
evacuation thing has been one of my main interests for many-a-year. I’ll
see if I can track down Roscoe’s addy and ask him to pass mine along
Thanks again for the correction.
The Honorable Mouse.
October 28th program....
||Just saw a press release that Vandenburg AFB might be sending up another
Minuteman missile tonight/Monday in southern Calif. Window period is 1900
to 2300 hrs. Most likely to launch shortly after 1900hrs. Maybe folks
won't freak out as much as last month.
Did we freak out? Ab.
season ends in the Rockies.
||About 800 folks showed up for the world premier of the History Channel's
story of the Storm King Mountain fatalities "Fire on the
Mountain". It was well received by the audience, and I believe it
will be a valuable tool to show firefighters and fire managers some
critical safety points.
It will be shown on the History Channel on Monday, October 28th at 9 PM.
||Hey Abs. A while back someone mentioned this site being blocked by FEMA.
Just wanted to let you know I've been able to access your site now at
Keep up the good work.
Thanks for the good news. Ab.
||Does anyone know of any case brought against a person for trespass on a
government vehicle or any case brought against a repair contractor who
allowed trespass upon a government vehicle by someone not authorized to
make repairs? I am looking for past precedence with respect to trespass on
any kind of federal vehicle (not necessarily fire) that might have
involved theft of any sort, interfering with lawful occupants' gear, doing
mischief, sabotage or simply trespass. Can anyone point me in the
direction of federal policy that relates to federal vehicle trespass,
regardless of intent?
||Last spring I heard some tornados in Missouri took down a lot of timber
and created heavy fuel loadings on southern Missouri forests. Fears were
that these would constitute severe fire hazard in the future. Does anyone
know whether these fuels are being removed? How are people feeling about
the potential for fire there? How big was the "mess"?
R3 F/F, Formerly from Missouri
||Greetings all. i am a new pvt contracter in north carolina and looking
for any other pvts in
this area. i have one engine and will be getting a 2nd soon.. can anyone
help me out.. let me know.. firstname.lastname@example.org
||Anybody get to the Missoula screening and wildland fundraiser of the
History Channel's Fire on the Mountain? Raise any bucks for the
educational fund for family of those lost on Storm King?
I'll check some info on the Harlow when I get to work on Tuesday and post
what I find.
Regarding the scars from the fire, I can clearly see where the fire burned
on Deadwood from Hwy. 41 and from Oakhurst.
I too am one of those folks "tucked away" in the woods,
the problem as I see it is Oakhurst has really only one way out, unless
count either Hwy. 49 to Mariposa or going up the hill toward Bass Lake and
around to North Fork.
Any way you look at it, it's going to get real ugly real fast when the
||I would just like to find out what the circumstances of the fire on the
cover page was. I also wanted to know if
anyone else has commented on seeing the faces within the flames... i see 3
distinct ones. There is one young
man, looks like he is holding a hammer or something in right hand, no
sleeves, and short hair to left of picture just
into trees. Another dead center of the picture half in trees and flames
with mouth open screaming. And
another dark looking face with side profile, looks to have long hair and
old appearance.. ..... This freaked me out,
did u rig this picture to look like this . please send me a reply
Hi Nikko. We didn't alter our Main
page Biscuit Fire photo. That one came in from a firefighter. No one
else has commented on the images in the photo. I do see the first two
images you describe but not the third. Maybe finding "people" in
fire photos is like seeing shapes in clouds. A fertile imagination helps.
Original Ab pointed out a "dragon" to me in one of the other
wallpaper photos once. He had embellished it a bit though. <HAR> Ab.
||Hey Capt. Emmett,
Please email at email@example.com
I would like to know more about the
Madera/Mariposa Ranger Unit in the '70s.
Firefighter- Coursegold Station -1977
||Captain Emmett: Re: your post of 10/13
I’ll do some some homework on the fatalities re: the Harlow Fire and
make a post on my findings. --- It’s difficult to see the scars from the
Harlow these days, they are covered with thick brush and live oak thickets
,,,, which leads to you closing remark about "just waiting for
another fire just like the Harlow to come along"... cept there are a
lot more dwellings tucked off in brush piles now as compared to 1961 and
evacuation possibilities "iffy" at best. It’s a real disaster
waiting to happen. As for spelling on Nippanwasse, map shows it as
Nipinnawasee, ,,, which is probably why locals call and write it as Nip.
Tnx for the feedback.
The Honorable Mouse
The only fatalities on the Harlow were an elderly couple escaping the
No feds were killed on initial attack or otherwise. I was a FF1 in the
Madera/Mariposa Ranger Unit in the '70s and remember my first captain
telling us stories of that fire. You can still see the scars from the
and Nippanwasse (sp?) was never rebuilt and the old timers in the area are
just waiting for another fire just like the harlow to come along any year.
||Gee, you go away for a week and what happens .. y'all start writing
about the media and LP 'Shots.
A thought or two after reading Wade's letter:
1) Don't be ticked at the messenger. I'm pretty sure I can spot a good
news story, and I'm pretty sure the original L.A. Times story is one. If
that story had happened where I am, I would have jumped on it. Shocked?
Here's what it has: conflict, possible misbehavior, possible discipline
and the added bonus of being a follow-up to a court decision.
2) Perception is reality. If you read through the story, you'll see
that it represents one point of view pretty consistently -- Donnelly's,
but to make this a slightly less emotional argument, let's called it
Enforcement. That's the nature of the quotes -- they all come from
enforcement people. What's missing?
That leads us to .. 3) Balance. The story appeared unbalanced because
of the lack of hotshot/FMO/district ranger response. Some people here have
commented that this entire issue should have been taken care of at that
level. So should the speaking.
I'm pretty sure the writer attempted to get comment from the
appropriate line and overhead folks. It says so at the bottom of the
But no one would talk to him. Good idea, right?
Someone on the board, in what I'm sure was a cynical moment, noted the
media is easily manipulated. Yup. We are. Look at how we cover criminal
investigations from the point-of-view of the police. Those who provide the
information are the ones who get their information out there.
Of course, so many of you are shackled by your agencies' chronic fear
of the media, no one is really allowed to talk to us folks who are the
public's representatives when it comes to dealing with large, societal
issues and their smaller appearances.
Go back and re-read the story carefully. Think how powerful or
effective the following quotes would have been:
"Hotshot crews are known for having a 'work-hard/playhard'
culture," a forest manager said, claiming anonymity. "And we
know that. But are those pictures any worse than what you'd see on the
wall of a teenage boy's room?"
"The crew's under a lot of stress and the photos go up since our rigs
are our homes," said a crew member who asked to remain anonymous.
"We asked the one female we have on this crew if those were a
problem. She said she was cool with it. If she hadn't, they wouldn't be
"If we had known this would be offensive to someone, we wouldn't have
put them up," a crewmember said, anonymously. "We may be
hotshots, but we're not stupid."
People, speak up and defend yourselves with the media. Most of us are
pretty good about not burning sources. If your agency won't let you talk
to the media, do it on your time, and do it privately and quietly and hold
a Pulaski to the reporter's head about anonymity.
Know the difference between "off-the-record,"
"background," "anonymous source" and "not for
attribution." If you don't know what the terms mean, you should. Find
me. I'll tell you.
I speak to a bunch of you every year in various places, and I stress
the same message: Talk to the media. In addition to being the public's eye
reporting on the LP' 'shots thing, they're also useful as a check against
power structures, and with the right watering and feeding, can serve as an
eye for the public -- and for you -- on the investigation.
Remember this, which is taught at the National War College: Whoever
wins the battle for information wins the battlefield.
Be smart and safe out there,
||Good Observations Captain 180.
Ms. Sarah Foster of "World Net Daily" has an obvious agenda-
to expose the evils of do-gooders and make the world safe for logging
again. The forests of N. America use to burn much better back when logging
was more wide-spread, professional fire management non-existent and the
"invisible hand" of free and unfettered enterprise had complete
control of the public wealth. Read Stephen J. Pyne's "Year of the
Fires", if you would like to know what the word conflagration means.
Today's wildfires look like child's play compared to "the good old
days" before the government and conservationists threw a monkey
wrench into the unfettered creation of slash. While there is a middle
ground here, where the management of forests and residues would prove
beneficial, the extremes at either end of the spectrum need to be exposed
and not just accepted as gospel.
||To Scott, re: your post of 10/02.
You might have a look at the Harlow Fire (Aug 1961 I think) in Eastern
Madera County, CA. As of a few years ago I believe CDF still listed it as
the "fastest moving fire" in California history. Several lives
were lost including a USFS crew on IA. It included portions of the Sierra
National Forest. At least at the local level, I believe the crew
fatalities caused a more professional approach to wildland firefighter
recruitment and training.
The Honorable Mouse
||Having lived in rural resource extraction dependent towns for the past
I can attest to Dave's observations. However I can also attest to the
other side of the coin as well. Groupthink is not just the domain of the
environmental industry, it is the mindset of rural leaders who couldn't
think themselves out of a paper sack. I'm talking about local chamber of
commerce who are still living back in the 1950's. To these narrow-minded
billy bobs, the world is still flat and globalization is just some
abstract 21st century term dreamed up by the United Nations and Big
Government. Economic diversification is something that happens somewhere
else. Why think outside the box when all you have to do is spout the world
"tourism" and the rural world gets all warm and fuzzy.
Limited minds produce small potential in rural places.
As long as these places stay inbred and suspicious of new ideas, they
will continue to be backwater slums -just like most locals appreciate- low
taxes and cheap rent.
Until these idiots realize that the 1950's are not going to come back,
regardless of who they vote into office, the unemployment rate, the loss
of tax revenue and the loss of forest receipts will continue to plague
Billy Joe Jim Bob
Methlab Junction, OR.
"Come to the trailer trash festival -June 3-5, 2003"
||Other fires for the NWFA.
The two fires the air tankers were lost on this year (can't recall the
names) look to have the potential to change how the tanker industry is
run, it seems to have at least started a dialog on the issue among
congress, the agencies and the operators.
The 1910 eagle mine fire (I know I've screwed up the name) of Edward
The 1937 fire in Griffith park (CA) according to Steven Pyne's Fire in
America this was the death knell for using CCC crews on fires and led to
the organization of true fire crews.
To add a less morbid tone some firsts might be fun to include. First
fire to use ATs, first fire to include the use of mountain fire trucks,
first use of dozers etc, first fire with an IHC, helicopter etc. I know
some of these are available on this site.
Some of the "names" behind the tools in the industry might be
appropriate too. (Edward Pulaski, Malcolm Mcleod etc)
Sorry I can't provide better name data but all my books are at work,
I'm sure others can fill in the correct titles, none of these are terribly
obscure except the firsts.
Congradulations on finally getting a permanent facility.
||Hello, all. We here at the National Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship
Academy are preparing to move into our first "permanent"
facility since the
inception of this program over a decade ago. We would like to name our
classrooms after important historical fires. We also intend to devise
posters with photos, information, statistics or facts of these fires, and
the names of those who died in these fires. We are seeking accurate,
pertinent facts and figures, along with photos. If anyone has knowledge or
information of these incidents, or knows someone else who does, please
contact me at 916-643-4867 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fires: Thirty-mile-2001; South Canyon-1994; Dude-1990; Loop-1966; Mann
Gulch-1949; Hamm-1987 (Tree accident); Guide-1994 (aircraft); Inaja-1956;
Rattlesnake-1953; Banning-Mack Lake-1971;Blackwater-1937; Romero-1971;
Battlement Creek-1976; Hauser creek-1943; Cerro Grande-2000; 1910 Fires.
If anyone knows of other significant fires which either changed the way we
do business or had any other important impact on wildland firefighting,
please share. Thanks.
||Who cares if the LP Hotshots had pinup pictures in their crew carriers?
cares if someone was offended by the pictures? Who cares that all federal
employees get mandatory Sexual Harassment/Civil Rights training at least
once a year? Who cares if everyone involved knew that they were crossing
the line. Who cares that this whole stupid incident is even an issue? Who
cares that we still have crews around (no matter how good they are) who
think the rules don't apply to them? Who cares if people loose their jobs
or a crew is disbanded.
I do and so should you.
||The issue of what is sex and what is not sex can be clearly debated as
demonstrated by our previous president....OMG!!! My how time seems to
creep up on us....lets see, the issue "unwanted behaviors or sexual
offensive behaviors" is not a new one...have seen it from both sides
now (my time with shots and in a regular prof. series job). This shouldn't
be a surprise...it is present in the regular work place as well.
Just a quick take as I see it. Firechic your on track however there are
agency folks that walk the straight and narrow. Wrong, right, or
indifferent these people are part of our agencies. IHC's are family and
usually very tight which is a completely different world from that of
regular employees. What may seem norm "allowed" behaviors may be
outside of someone elses boundaries. The important part is that we know
the boundaries of others! Guess they call it common sense and respect!
||From mtg in Denver of Panel of Aviation Experts yesterday
Outdated air tanker blamed on feds
Safety expensive, firm says
Military planes may enter wildfire 'war'
||In regards to the charges against the L.P. Hotshots.
I am somewhat shocked that these charges are being filed. I am a female
firefighter with many years in with the Feds. I have seen Maxim magazine
and don't find it a bit offensive. Has anyone ever opened an edition of
Glamour or Cosmo magazine??? There are more revealing photos of women in
that magazine than any I have seen in Maxim...we are talking nudity...full
on breast shots, and even full on nudity.
What was the woman doing snooping around in a gov't. rig anyhow? When I
take my personal rig to get maintenance, I surely don't want them looking
around inside, snooping through all of my personal effects. It sounds like
someone has a little too much time on their hands and wants to make an
example of someone. In my years of service, I have seen much worse taped
to the inside of crew buggies...come on people, I think there are better
things to focus our time on.
Goodluck to the L.P. shots.
||Been checking the chat room lately and no one there. I will be in the
chat room tomorrow night (10-11-02 @ 2000hrs). Hope to see some of the
regulars in there since the season seems to be winding down.
This was sent early last night after I turned my computer off. Maybe
||Well, I can't stay out of it. Gotta add my 2 cents worth to the big sex
thing. (oops, should I have said sex in public? Oh what the heck sex sex
sex sex sex.....) Aren't we a psychotic society? We are so permissive on
one hand (watch Baywatch for example) and such prudes on the other. You
are right Eric, the pics weren't that bad in comparison to what we see
every day, but alas they are still considered inappropriate for the
workplace. I tend to agree with that. But then I don't like shortie tee
shirts and pants that allow your butt crack to hang out either. And for
Mr. Neiner and others who asked why wasn't it handled by the local
managers.....well, it was. But the pictures taken in the crew buggy
somehow made their way into the Donnelly group's hands. And since we have
had several years of nothing exciting for them to flap in the Judge's
this had to be a mighty big bone to pass up. Any fool knows that the media
can be manipulated to say anything about anyone. But unfortunately FS line
officers are generally fearful of anything negative that becomes public
tend to leap to the witch hunt urge all too quickly. Very ripe fodder for
As far as sexual harassment being "rampant" and hidden by
management, I beg
to differ. Those of that opinion haven't been around long enough. I
started in the early 70's when women were subjected to alot more than a
couple of bathing suit pictures when they worked in "men's
survived the 80's and early 90's with the "diversity" quotas and
R-5 Consent Decree. And I don't think anyone can claim that attitudes and
the general atmosphere hasn't changed drastically within the agency and
fire service since then. After all , society has changed in this regard
OF COURSE, there will always be an element of butt head men that have yet
to remove their teenage brains from their pants. And there are still a few
women who think they can go into a job and be accepted and be taken care
just by virtue of being there, without having to work hard enough to pull
their weight. Lucky for all of us, the Forest Service (and other fire
agencies) resembles society in the fact that the vast majority of us are
just normal people trying to do the best we can AND pretty much succeeding
The hotshot crew in question undoubtedly got the message loud and clear
that the pictures shouldn't have been there and are suffering plenty for
now, but should they be hung for it? I would take their side ANY DAY
against the Donnelly mentality that tells us to "burn the witch at
stake" so everyone else will suddenly become good boys and girls.
but life doesn't work that way.
||DO YOU THINK WEARING YOUR SEATBELT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Now you know why we "Buckle-up".
A gentle reminder to always wear your seatbelt!
||Re: the piece of agitprop posted by Guard. What kind of a rag is world
daily? Obviously one of those right wing ultra conservative sagebrush
rebellion types that probably advocates assaulting federal officers
they have no authority that they recognize. The thing that always gets me
about these "logging would have prevented this" arguments is
that most of
the timber fires that I have been to, especially the ones that get big are
too steep for any kind of economical tree removal in the first place, and
the trees are not vastly merchantable in the second place even if you
get them out. So this Sarah Foster of "World Net Daily" can find
somewhere that thinks that 20 years of logging would have been beneficial
fire suppression in steep rocky wilderness fires that are the result of
years of fire suppression. I just don't see it. I guess 2 million years of
lightning fires plus aboriginal fires were not a factor prior to our great
logging! Of course publications like the World Net Daily deny that the
earth is older than 7,000 years, so there is no point in making the
argument. You cannot argue with logic like that.
||As with most public safety organizations, "acceptable"
behavior to those within is often "offensive" to those on the
outside. We tend to have strange senses of humor and some fire folks can
get pretty wild when they're off the line (sometimes on the line too). The
'shots in particular are known for their "excesses", I think it
is too bad that an external pressure is causing such a ruckus for a crew
that in my experience has always been a good performer and fairly tame
from what I've seen of them. It would be a different matter if the
complaint had come from within or was caused by the crews behavior out in
While I have seen my share of the "Good ol' boy" network in
Federal fire, as a whole the Federal fire service has a far more diverse
composition than most state or municipal departments and does a good job
even when compared to the most extreme examples of diversity such as NY,
SF or Berkeley. It would be nice if the government would spend as much
time and effort showing the positive sides of their fire service instead
spending so much time tearing us down.
Lots has been said on this board, and probably a lot more has been uttered
in the Forest Service offices and Ranger districts around the country,
regarding the charge of sexual harassment brought against the L.P.
The issue stems from the fact that crew buggies are government property,
in reality, the workplace of a Hotshot crew. But they also serve the dual
function of a home-away-from-home for those crews who spent lots of time
the road - lots of time on fires.
All of us who have done our time on the line know that borders and
inhibitions get broken down very quickly down in the field, especially
crews like 'shots that spend an inordinate amount of time with each other.
'Shot crews can be expressive and free places, but they can also be the
breeding ground for what others may term inappropriate behavior.
However what is tolerated, even accepted, as typical behavior on the
fireline isn't always in line with acceptable norms in society. Most
can judge what is acceptable but some others cannot, and in the end, if
are a government employee you are expected to follow the rules.
The problem in this case is the posted images in the buggy. Some might
argue its simply an issue of extremely poor taste, or a crass
unprofessionalism, but since it is a government vehicle (not owned by any
particular Hotshot, or even a crew, but by the taxpayers) the same laws
apply as if it were an office building.
A thornier issue is whether fire crews have the right to read, or possess,
material that others may find offensive while in the crew buggies. As a
matter of practicality, it would be obvious to say yes, they should, but
not always that clear cut.
I suspect that the ire of many of those who have posted on this board is
directed at Ms. Donnelly and the litigious nature of the charge,
the threat of disbanding a crew. Unfortunately for those involved, the
pendulum has swung to the direction of those making the claims - but the
reason for that lies in the fact that for too long the Forest Service
ignored claims of sexual harassment.
So those who now have a job to do, because the old Forest Service couldn't
conduct itself appropriately, are the subject of taunts and insult.
I hope that a fine crew like the L.P. will not be disbanded, but I also
that those who defend them because they agree with the behavior or think
"that's they way things are" will see that the problems the
has now stem from the fact that they, as a government organization,
conducted themselves so poorly for so long.
I feel that I am so removed from your situation in Australia that any
comments I make regarding "team" organization might put you all
at risk. I don't know how other crews/squads are set up downunder-more
like your 3 squads arrangement or like your 2 squads?
What do the professional firefighters coming into your neighborhood expect
when they arrive? If you differ too much from the expected or standardized
organization, that adds to confusion and could be a watchout for safety.
It would be much more valuable to you and safer, I would think, to
continue asking your overhead and professional Australian firefighters
what the best setup would be for your squads. I appreciate your
persistence with this and your need to have a plan, but I think we
American firefighters would be remiss to be advising you-except in general
I understand there are some 70 fires going-and-blowing in your corner of
Be Safe! Good luck! Please let us know how you're doing when you have a
||A different take on the Biscuit fire that you might find interesting
||I am interested in finding information on how to become a line EMT,
either with the Forest Service, or through a private company. If anyone
knows who I can contact, or where I can start looking (and no there is no
info on the jobs page) it would be greatly appreciated.
then this came after Ab inquired if she was already a firefighter:
I myself am not a firefighter, however my husband is. (He is the one
you some of those <snip> fire pictures) So I am not new to
the firefighters world. I am
however an EMT. What I dont know is, which agency should I start looking
into, or are
there private contracted companies I should try first?
Tips, Anyone? Ab.
Attached is a letter to the editor that I sent to the
L.A. times. It's a little bit wordy, but hopefully it
gets printed. I had a lot to say, and tried to sound
as articulate at possible without being a total male
chauvinistic pig. I thought readers might enjoy
taking a look at it. A copy was also sent to some key
individuals within the agency who love to monitor
Sexual Harassment in the Forest Service
Do you know what sexual harassment is? If you don't, or if you want to
see first hand how ridiculous sexual harassment claims have become in our
sue happy world, you can read the Sunday, October 6 article, "
'Hotshots' Are Under Fire For Racy Photos" (The State Section B8).
The author, William Overend, must be a down on his luck reporter
scrounging for any rotten scrap that smells like a story, because what he
wrote was putrid. Or, more than likely, Forest Service Sexual Harassment
Monitor Lesa Donnelly desperately called the L.A. Times looking for fools
to jump on her sexual harassment bandwagon.
At the heart of this ludicrous article is a September 17, 2002
complaint that Overend failed to expand upon- so I will. The story is
detailed, but in short, the Los Prietos Hotshots "crew buggies"
were at a private business for mechanical maintenance. While in the shop,
a girlfriend of one of the mechanics looked inside the back of the
vehicle. Apparently, she saw some pictures from the popular Maxim magazine
which were taped up on the inside walls. Now, it's unclear as to how far
this female investigated, but most believe that after she was
"offended" she got up into the back of the crew carrier and
searched around for more "offensive" material. She then got
upset, and lodged a complaint with local Forest Service officials. Now,
Monitor Donnelly has put the wheels back on her rickety sexual harassment
bandwagon and doped the L.A. Times into taking this spoof of a story.
My first question posed to Donnelly, the Forest Service, and Times
readers is: how far are we as a society going to take this sexual
harassment B.S.? My next question is: Why is the Forest Service not
looking into criminal trespassing charges against the woman who entered,
without permission, a government vehicle to snoop around? You say my
second question is stupid, and has no basis? Well, to claim that this lady
criminally trespassed on government property is just as stupid as her
bringing up charges of sexual harassment against the L.P. Hotshots for
some pictures of "scantily clad women." What she found
"offensive" are pictures that can be found in at least 90% of
the magazines sold today. How can Donnelly and the Trespassing Girlfriend
find offense in images that are plastered all over society? Drive down the
freeway and you will see "scantily clad" men and women
advertising on billboards. Turn on the television and at least 90% of
network and cable programming contains sexually suggestive content. Open
any magazine, even Good House Keeping, and you will find advertisements
and pictures of men and women "scantily clad." America has
proven that sex sells, and whether right or wrong, you will find these
So, what is sexually suggestive and is it sexual harassment? This is an
argument that could go on for years without any resolution. However, what
is at the core of sexual harassment in the Forest Service is the
credibility of the people filing claims against this government agency.
Sexual Harassment Monitor Donnelly is a conniving snake that claims the
L.P. Hotshots act "like a bunch of frat boys." She makes this
false claim against one of the most respected Hot Shot programs in the
whole nation. The next snake in the grass is the Trespassing Girlfriend
who saw the Maxim magazine pictures. It's funny the Trespassing Girlfriend
found the images "offensive", because the one female crewmember
on the L.P. Hot Shots told Donnelly that she didn't think the pictures
were a big deal, and she didn't feel sexually harassed by having the
images inside the crew carrier. And last, but not least, Janine McFarland,
who has filed 17 claims against the Forest Service, ranging from sexual
harassment to slander. How sue happy is she? She definitely does not bring
credibility to the sexual harassment table.
These hate filled and bitter women are a great example as to how
ridiculous sexual harassment claims have become in the Forest Service, and
more importantly, in our supposed civilized United States society.
Forest Service Employee
Pine Cove, CA
||Offensive material/behavior obviously is defined across a great spectrum
values. Good points raised on where this all ends. Is the fire camp with
a "library" of Harlequin romance novels with Lance Steele's
and Antoinette's heaving bosom.....offensive? Do we screen the camp
newspapers and dump all the underwear ads?
Conversely, society and the courts, and government agencies have all
accepted that "offensive" includes the hanging of "girlie
pictures" in the
workplace. Such behavior is prohibited, and every employee (even
seasonals) is to be informed of that as a mandatory part of orientation.
It is also not incumbent upon others to file a "complaint"
management is required to take action. (One would hope that the display
of racist material would not be tolerated because ".....well, no one
Why not follow the "chain of command" and resolve at the crew
Again, the crew overhead had ample opportunity (and the duty) to both
instruct and monitor behavior that is specifically prohibited. That was
obviously absent, and complainants "going to the top" is a
My personal opinion is that the crew should not be "disbanded",
the hotshots responsible should be held accountable, and that overhead
accept their share of the blame for failure to "ensure a harassment
workplace"......it comes with the job.
Old Fire Guy
||RE, LP Hotshot photos: I'm glad to hear that Ms Donnelly has secured
herself a position. I would imagine that there's a lot of job security in
tracking down sexual harassment. Of course it would be in the monitors
interest to scream loudly at any perceived harassment. Since beating the
drum keeps the funding coming in. Not to mention the effectiveness of
attention. It wouldn't surprise me if Ms Donnelly had to hire assistants
handle the big work load.
Welcome to building a bureaucracy 101.
I liked that reference to the Tailiban. Because that's what it is. Maybe
there could be a F.S Psych test to weed out these crackpots instead of
putting them in a position to gum things up.
||I have read the posts and seen the photos in question. Only knowing one
side of the issue leaves lots of room
for interpretation. The photos (what I saw) could not have been the reason
for the suit, merely the catalyst.
They werent that bad.
Half of my <contract> engine crew have subscriptions to Maxim
- or other mens mags. They end up on the rigs also. I never recall them
becoming an issue. Our managers asked the women in the crew if they find
it offensive. All
That is leading me to believe there must be more.
Also Had a blast on the Williams fire. One of the nicest and most scenic
base camps in history.
I added the <contract> above. Please keep in mind that there are
different rules for the feds and for contractors. Ab.
||I can't believe the crap that is going on with this mag sexual
thing. THE LA times said that the mags were taken secretly. Is nothing
private? Another thing, I worked on hotshot crew for a very long time and
anything we brought on the buggy we made sure every one was cool with it.
It would be a same if LP were to be shut down because of this. They are a
very good crew. it brings to mind of the Boise IHC deal and we all know
was bullsh*t. The woman that is involved in this sounds like a man hater
that could never hang on a IHC crew and knows it. She is just trying to
make her self feel better by F*$#@ing the IHC program because she is
too fat and out of shape to fight some real fire. I'm offended by her
comments about being a "Frat boy"
Folks, please lets try to stick to issues and avoid name calling even
if Donnelly began it with her "frat boy" name calling. I know
this is an emotional topic. Steady....... Ab.
||The wildland firefighter Series
462 and 455 are
Readers, please support our wildlandfire.com sponsors. Take a look at the
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gear, and boots, seek that extra training or find that contract or
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page. These businesses help keep this site up and running.
||Who's trivializing the issue?
The entire pinup situation should have been handled at the
Superintendent/Div Chief level -- as stated in the R5, Forest Service, and
USDA written policy. Instead of dealing with it through proper channels
following established procedures, a small group of disgruntled women with
vested financial interest went directly to the media. This whole fiasco
intentionally and deliberately exploited for the sole purpose of publicly
embarrassing the FS prior to the next Donnelly case court hearing. The
media should be embarrassed for being duped by such a blatant and
transparent manipulation. The R5 leadership should be embarrassed for
overreacting. The Donnelly plaintiffs should be embarrassed by THEIR
actions. But they won't be.
||I heard that on the Six Rivers they confiscated a
People magazine that had a fully clothed Britney
Spears in it as inappropriate. Where will this end??
Can we not have Sunday paper at the station because it
may have a bra ad?? How about exercise equipment
catalogs ?? Are they inappropriate??. For years the
Feds have determined if something is inappropriate by
using the standard of what " an average, normal member
of the local community " would find offensive, not the
most sensitive person you can find. We've been told
that we can't even have pictures of our own children
at the station, because they could be offensive. Where
is the union in all this?? Don't we have any rights to
free speech any more?
- Concerned in Cali
||Re: LP Sexual Harassment issue
I am proud of my sexuality, proud enough to be secure in the job I've
done for almost 20 years working within the wildfire community from line
grunt to dispatch. Whether male or female, you are part of a team, a team
with a specific job to do regardless of gender. In all those years I have
had few incidents which I could not handle between the offender and
Those that could not be resolved were handled by the supervisor and on up
the chain of command. No one, male or female, has a right to subject
another to harassment of any kind. I would rather have my name on a
certificate of merit than a sexual harassment suit.
The LP crew's pictures may have been in a position in their buggy to be
visible to the public in which case I would say that was in poor taste,
especially in a government vehicle. However, a simple report to the
supervisor should have resolved the matter. I had pictures of male
firefighters in my personal locker wearing only helmets strategically
placed. These pics were not visible to the general public and I received
harassment but general kidding from my male crew about my taste in men.
It's way past time for some of these 'professionals' to buck up and
start acting like ADULTS. If you are offended by someone, say so, speak
and if that doesn't work take the appropriate action by going up the
to the person who can resolve the issue.
Whatever becomes of this matter, it has demoralized and further divided
a family of firefighters who rely on each other for their very lives. Keep
your heads up brothers and sisters, it ain't over yet.
||Oh my gawd.
Massive Forest Circus overreactions would be funny if they didn't
jeopardize people's jobs and belittle actual issues of concern.
Intimidation and ignoring substantiated complaints from an offended
party are one thing. But from the LA Times article, it sounds like some
folks just aren't taking their anti-hysteria medication regularly
Threatening to disband crews at the first sign of a little bare flesh
serves no one - not the women with legitimate sexual harassment concerns
and not the many good folks of both genders who might be swept up in
this dragnet of extremism. Save the harsh punishments for people who
don't respond to requests to change their offensive behavior or who
respond to complaints with intimidation.
Besides, if guys can no longer enjoy pictures of women in swimsuits,
does that mean that I, and my female friends, have to also get rid of
our pics of attractive men in boxers? What good is that going to do
anyone? I'd be the last person to tolerate sexual harassment of any
kind but holy sh*tballs, folks, is it possible that this is going just a
little too far, too fast?
Ab, thanks for bringing this article to light.
||i managed to get a copy of the article, but couldnt access the picture
through the la times....heres the picture that accompanied the article.
90% of our fire season is spent in our buggies.....they are our homes
during fire season.
>From one hotshot to another....keep your heads up and dont let it
affect your morale.
The photo is copyright also. If anyone has other personal photos of
the offending photos, send em in and I'll put them up if they aren't too
||Reference the LP Hotshots.....as a 50-something white male who started
fighting wildfires in the 1960's, my first response would be "so what
- much ado about nothing." But as the father of a 20-something
daughter who spent 2 seasons as the only woman on a California-based fire
crew, I have a whole different appreciation of the problem. Those folks
who try to diffuse the issue ("trivial issues like safety and
operational effectiveness', "best crew...") are, in my opinion,
really missing the point: you don't do those things if you're a Federal
employee, and as a supervisor, you don't allow it to happen. If you do,
you pay the price! Anyone remember another incident within the Federal
system called "Tailhook"?? Yeah, those guys were great Jet
Jockeys, but that was only part of their total role as Navy Officers. They
screwed up, and paid the price. No suprises there!!
When I started with the Feds in the late 60's, there was no Clean Air
Act, Clean Water Act, NEPA, Americans with Disabilities Act, or Civil
Rights Act. There was only 1 woman in a major Forestry school, and no
women to be seen on the firelines. Times changed: if I wanted to continue
to play the game, I had to change my attitudes, and behave differently
than I did in the 1960's (yeah, I had pin-ups in my USFS barracks in 65
& 66). In order to do my total job (Forestry as well as Fire), I had
to, and continue to, think about things that were not essential to
"getting the cut out, and getting the units burned." My daughter
and I have spent alot of hours talking about her experiences a few short
years ago as the only woman on a fire crew: no one should have to be
subjected to the treatment she got from fellow fighters, and the refusal
of her supervisor to deal with it. But, for a super well-paying summer
job, she put up with it in order to collect her check every month! She
also chose to not return after 2 summers, and suffered the economic
When the Feds fund a 20 person IHC, they're buying more than just a
bunch of Pulaski-motors: you sign on for the whole package, and if you're
unwilling or unable to accept that, maybe the contract crews would be a
better fit? As one person posted, there's a shot of a "nice hunk of
flesh" shown on a private, commercial, non-government page: that's
OK, 'cause the free market allows people to do that, and others to vote
with their pocketbook if they find it offensive. As a person who's always
been in the Majority (white, male, straight), it's tough to understand
what is offensive to others. But girlie-pictures in a Fed buggy in 2002
(wether 1, 2, or 200) ain't to tough to figure out, even for an ole white
||Here's a good link to it:
Nice workaround. Ab.
||Here's the LA Times story-
and the AP has a smaller, 2 paragraph version of the same thing.
Registration is free. Ab.
||OK, my button is pushed.
How many photos are "numerous photos of scantily clad women"?
Why doesn't the LA Times journalist say exactly? Two or 20? Funny how they
can imply when it suits their purposes and sells more memberships.
The (woman's) complaint to the SO was "backed up with photographic
evidence secretly taken". Why was secrecy necessary and why go
outside the chain of command? Just tell someone matter of factly and let
it get corrected. Heck, we are women and men. We all talk with each other
and interact with each other. Sometimes what is said is not what is meant.
If you find something that doesn't suit you, simply say so. Educate the
person or people in a nice way. The hotshot woman on the crew evidently
was not offended. I heard that one of the "photos" had a hot red
high performance race car, a bottle of hard liquor and no bodies on it
anywhere. What's with that?
Check the banner and then click the link on the JOBS
page for weightvest. Nice hunk of flesh there! Ab, someone might
accuse you of inappropriate advertising, but it is just advertising. We
aspire to being fit. I am so glad we do not live in a Taliban world!
||I certainly am glad R5 has stopped trying to deal with trivial
issues like safety and operational effectiveness and started focusing
attention on the real problems, i.e. what pictures hotshots look at in
This whole issue is embarrassing -- not to the professional hotshot
organization, but to the regional leadership. An issue that would have
properly handled at the crew level is now getting national media attention
because the FS is kowtowing to a cackling flock of disgruntled women
financial rewards and who don't care what scurrilous accusations they make
or whose career they end to facilitate their legal get-rich-quick scheme.
||If someone has an active link to an online article (that does not
require registration or a fee) about the current LP Hotshot problems,
would you please send it in? We cannot post the text of an article without
violating copyright laws.
||Re: The "Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Standown" I
through, and my FMO's disclosure of why:
In 20+years of firefighting, on 4 National Forests and including 2 hotshot
crews in R5, if I had to pick one consistently "Best Crew in the
LP 'shots would be it. I'm talking about year in-year out safety, ability,
diversity, professionalism, and class. That they would have worry about
I heard right) censure, breakup or worse because of a McCarthyist sexual
harassment frameup is beyond disgusting, it's criminal. Shame on the
ranger, f.m.o., forest supervisor or regional f.a.m. who doesn't stand
let alone behind the LP Hotshots in this (if I heard right) baseless cheap
Afraid of the inquisition so sign me
||News from Downunder: Homes destroyed as bushfires burn
It's only our spring here. Drought is hitting us hard - looked much
like Xmas Day all over again today. Temps 12 deg C above average & hot
dry blowing winds together with school holidays not proving to be a
good mix. Regrettably the "reported" losses are now confirmed.
||The fire in Wildcat Canyon was contained at 15 acres, supposedly.
Morning report said the Wildcat Fire began at 0345 and at 0700 CDF MVU
was on it with 233 personnel - 11 handcrews, 3 type 2 helicopters, 10
engines, 3 overhead. They expected to have it contained by noon. Ab.
||Any details on the fire near Lakeside, San Diego Co.?
||Mellie, thanks for the feedback. "Check 6" would be a good
moniker, but "6" is actually a nickname I had from military
I think that group cohesiveness would be great for almost any fire
organization, IHC, jumpers, engines, helitack, OH teams, etc. Some
existing organizations have it, and some suffer from lack of it.
Leadership training would be great. I was tasked with teaching the first
supervision class offered and found it to be pathetic. You have to be
trying for a Type II overhead team before there is any serious
leadership/simulator training required. Some organizations do more than
what is required by using Mission-Centered Solutions type training. As far
as situational awareness, IMO, there are some things that just can't be
taught. Some people have it, some people can learn it, and some people
would be better off staying at the assistant squad leader level for the
rest of their career. It kind of goes with the saying "You can't
teach common sense."
As far as the 30 mile abatement plan, that just seems like it is
putting the FS into the positions of setting someone else up for the fall.
"If the I.C./Crew Boss/Fire Fighter had followed rule #872 this
accident would not have happened."
I think that our system is broken and becoming more so. We talk about
accountability, but what it really means is the ability to follow a bunch
of rules, even when they don't make sense. Work/Rest, pack test pre-work,
complexity analysis, FMO's pet peeve, become the mantra of 21st century
fire fighting. A decision is no longer based on if it is safe, efficient,
and makes sense, it is now based on does it meet all the criteria
determined by (you fill in the blank) and will it keep me from getting
into Dutch if something bad happens. And then you a wild-card
(contractors) into the mix and nothing makes sense any more.
Here is my simple solution: Allow me to make a decision, and then allow
me to justify it if need be: accountability! Don't slap me around for a
decision that makes sense, but violates rule #1202. Hire good people, give
them training, support them, and allow them to do their job. If somebody
screws-up hold their feet to the fire. We need more accountability, not
(Ab, I seem to be a continuous whiner on this page and I apologize.)
No apologies necessary. Ab.
||Tahoe Terrie and others who might help me with Squad (crew?) chain of
Okay it seems that the general idea is to run 1 leader to a 5-person
crew. As I will have 15 people in my CFU including myself, I can go two
ways as far as a Table of Organisation (ToO)
Remember the equipment that I have is 1 portable pump, 1 stand pipe to
hook into the water mains, 1 Y valve and 2 nozzles (180m of 38mm hose) as
well as two back pack water pumps and 3 hand tools (combo rake and hoe –
called a McLeod tool)
3 Squad set up Divide the team up into 3 Squads of 5 people (Would the
use of squad be the best term???)
Position # 1 – 1 person on a nozzle
Position # 2 – 1 person helping to hold and carry the hose
Position # 3 – 1 person with a hand tool
Position # 4 – 1 person with a backpack water pump
Position # 5 – 1 person acting as a lookout, helping pull the hose and
helping to communicate with other squads as well as the pump man (also to
help move the pump from pool to pool).
5 people per squad including the squad leader. Which would be the best
position for a squad leader to fill. ???? Which would be the best position
for an assistant squad leader?????
Squad 2 Same as squad 1
5 people per squad including the squad leader
Squad 3 at the command post
Position # 11 – 1 person as the equipment officer (main task is to
ensure that the pump works and runs, as well as standing by the pump
during the action)
Position # 12 – 1 person as assistant equipment officer (back up in case
the equipment officer can’t make the fire) alternate duty to look after
the fire ground accountability system.
Position # 13 – 1 person to act as a runner, as well as spotter, and to
be equipped with the remaining hand tool (back up to run the
Position # 14 – 1 person to act as communications officer (I expect to
end up with 3 or 4 low power UHF walkie talkies, range about 1 – 3
kilometres line of sight)
Position # 15 – 1 person to be squads leader / overall team leader as
well as co-ordinating all operations with the NSWFB (metro brigades) and
NSWRFS (rural or bush brigades).
5 people per squad including the squad leader
Total is 15 people per team
2 Squad set up Divide the team into 2 squads with one person per squad
rotating back for a 10 - 20 min rest break (???? Any feed back here ????)
and to give first hand accounts back to team leader.
1 person on a nozzle
1 person helping to hold and carry the hose
1 person with a hand tool
1 person with a backpack water pump
1 person acting as a lookout, helping pull the hose and helping to
communicate with other squads as well as the pump man (also to help move
the pump from pool to pool).
5 people per squad excluding the squad leader
1 person on a nozzle
1 person helping to hold and carry the hose
1 person with a hand tool
1 person with a backpack water pump
1 person acting as a lookout, helping pull the hose and helping to
communicate with other squads as well as the pump man (also to help move
the pump from pool to pool).
5 people per squad excluding the squad leader
1 person as the equipment officer (main task is to ensure that the pump
works and runs, as well as standing by the pump during the action)
1 person to act as communications officer, fire ground accountability and
back up for squad leaders and team leader.
2 squad leaders
1 team leader
I would like to try to arrange for relief system by letting the person in
position 5 replace position 4 who replaces position 3 who replaces
position 2 who replaces position 1 who then goes back to position 1 in the
case of a 2 squad team or goes back to the command post and relieves in
either positions 13 or 14. I am thinking of a 20-minute cycle, which
should allow for rehydration and some food but doesn’t let you sit
around for too long to prevent muscles from getting stiff and sore as well
as allowing for some minor first aid. I have organised for some of the
support team to the CFU to be the first aid officers and hence they don’t
need be part of the 15-person team.
Thoughts or feedback or whatever. All comments will be appreciated and
reviewed with open eyes but with consideration of the limited capacity,
resources and purpose of a CFU here down under.
||Misinformation, like supposition, conjecture & rumor are rampant and
usually lead to unproductive urban myths.
On 10/3, a post from JW to someone else was only partly correct. To
keep it as short as possible, I will refrain from commenting on more than
one line: "California couldn't leave well enough alone so the Office
of Emergency Services developed the State Emergency Management System
(SEMS) which is to be used by all state agencies in managing
JW, "SEMS" is an acronym used by the CA OES for any state
emergency response operation, including state fire response mutual aid.
That "S" means STANDARDIZED, not "state". If any one
has questions about SEMS, general information is readily available on the
OES website @ www.oes.ca.gov If anyone has specific questions about why or
how the SEMS was mandated by law, call a knowledgeable senior OES staffer
who will know that history.
R5er (chuckling as I scuff boot toe in dust)
||Had a new fire, the Dunlap, yesterday - 25 mi E of Fresno, IAed by CDF
Fresno Kings Unit. Luckily it was not too steep and we threw a lot of
resources at it. It's still very dry.
||Some good insights, 6 and -=Dave=-. Thanks for raising the issue,
I couldn't have made the point better that academics see the issue and
problems only from one perspective and from often from within a
"groupthink" setting. Academics do often equate studying
"about" something with really knowing what is going on.
Non-academics do not often realize that academics are limited by their
creative vision, the questions they ask and the perspective they have that
stimulate them to ask those particular questions. They are limited to
questions that can be tested using only methods they know or can imagine.
They are limited by what their "field of study" thinks are the
pertinent or "important" questions that should and can receive
funding. They are limited by the pressure to achieve results in order to
justify their academic existence and to obtain ongoing funding. Often the
methods and politics of academia drive the questions that are asked.
6-- I did the same as you did. Upon reading the letter, I immediately
asked, "What is their research field? Where is their actual fire
experience, if any?" Either they had no on-the-ground fire
experience, or each one failed to include it on their "resume".
I don't think these scientists lack integrity and I wouldn't include
"pathological" (caused by or involving disease, morbid) in a
description of their inability to manage resources, but I do think
on-the-ground experience is paramount to asking worthwhile questions about
fire and fire policy. When dealing with researching academics, I suggest
to them that they walk in the shoes of the fire specialists who are
dealing with the public and issues on the forest and in nearby communities
before deciding to speak out to give more power to those who can
"block" or delay any action to reduce fuels. Academics in their
environment are not faced with delays such as NEPA and the lawsuits the
western Fed fire people have to deal with (over everything from hazard
tree removal to thinning trees for shaded fuel breaks, to Rx burning). I
think most are just uneducated in the larger picture.
6-- to go back to another topic: thanks for your clarification regarding
where you were coming from about the benefits of the History Channel's
Storm King fund raiser. I agree with you that after 9/11 it did seem we
were "all one". At one level, we are. My gut reaction, however,
was what it was: HONOR the wildland firefighter. Make it clear that's what
you are doing. For perspective, I also had a gut reaction when the
firefighter statue in NYC was unveiled as having an Asian, a black, a
woman, etc, instead of just having four real NYC firefighters. I believe
in honest feedback and in people having the logical consequences of their
behavior and choices. That extends to the honors as well as the
reprimands. (HEH! and thanks for picking on BLM Bob and not ME!)
Final topic, this one for Management who is LURKING out there:
I am disturbed by the possibility that the wording of the 30mi Abatement
Plan may hold ICs accountable beyond what is reasonable. (Just as the fire
orders are ambiguous enough to blame groundpounders for their own deaths
after the fact.)
If the WO really wanted to address the issue of the problems at 30mi, they
would include training in their list of funded "fixes".
Right now training for all new wildland firefighters is fairly minimal
(and for some contract crews, apparently non-existent?). At the next level
up we do have additional leadership training, at least in R5. Such
training should be mandatory for all as they advance. (Is it being done in
But there should also be courses in situational awareness, and group
cohesiveness stressing both benefits (watching each other's backs [6,
is that where your moniker comes from?]) and watch-outs (groupthink,
failure to communicate with those not of your crew, etc) and other
psychological processes (human factors) that influence action/inaction
when confronted by the unthinkable (panic, the reverse of panic, what is
noticed, remembered, and decided when sleep deprived). I am not talking
only "academic" --being lectured at-- but actually putting your
body through some of this stuff. Experiential learning.
There should be a course or readiness drills that identify and work with
some of those infrequent, high risk scenarios that we never imagine
could happen. (Who is that CA Hwy Patrol guy who lectures on that? Six
Minutes for Safety arose out of his or his colleagues observations that
frequent small bits of info are better than infrequent large pieces.)
Think of this kind of training like "live fire" training in the
military. For example:
- The IC is out of touch (broken comm unit, geographical barrier) and
the fire shifts to threaten crews as it did in WY this summer. What do
you do? Do it.
- Campers show up in the middle of a possible blowup, What about a
whole Boy Scout troop where bodies far exceed shelters? What do you
- An AT or a helo falls out of the sky? crashes on takeoff/landing?
What do you do?
- Sparks lodge in your engine's air filter, start an engine fire and
the fire front is coming. What do you do?
- In a potential blowup situation crews get separated and you end up
with people who do not speak English. What do you do?
- Your squad boss doesn't listen to you? Your crewmates are not
imagining the "worst case scenario" and making the best
preparations they can in the 20 minutes they have? What do you do?
- What does it feel like to deploy shelters as a crew? in high wind?
in a choice of substrate? without waiting for the superheated blast?
Timing is everything. How do you handle crewmates screaming?
- What does it feel like to drop tools and run?
I know that some on the 30mi Investigation team did not think training
was lacking. Management (at least in R5) evidently did think leadership
training was necessary and it has begun. I hope Human Factors training
will be included, too.
When I did the 5 months of classes daily for FF1, the class was
"goofing off" during the fire shelter and burnover movies and
fire shelter deployment training. I realize the guys were nervous, but
that the "funnin" was allowed pissed me off. I don't think the
trainers recognized the psychological causes of the joking and posturing.
I don't think they realized that by allowing it, they potentially set the
trajectory for the same behavior in other, potentially lethal, settings. I
had just hiked Storm King and felt those survival lessons should be
approached very seriously. In a pinch, there is no time to "run
off" the anxiety by horsing around, taking pictures, writing in a
journal, laughing and running up on a hillside. We need to use our anxiety
to focus. When the hair rises on the back of your neck, it is no laughing
matter. Training helps both in recognition of anxiety associated with
danger and in focusing to find the best plan of action. With training, the
logical consequence of anxiety is making the best possible choice for
||Dear, Wandering out of the Twilight Zone? A Little Discombobulated?
Hoping for no superheated gasses?
Re the National SitReport. After the Weather Outlook, they put the current
day's 6 minutes for safety topic in. Last year it was only the link to the
web page, that's why it looks a little different. I think External Affairs
at NIFC handles the whole 6 minutes page and it is just pasted into the
report. Seems like overkill to put the whole thing in to me but, then, no
one asked me either :) How did you like the report this year? I noticed
quite a few changes. Like adding fuel types, fire behavior, what was going
on (sorta). It seemed a little better than before. Guess it is because
they have access to the actual 209's now and can write from those instead
of a watered down version.
Take it easy, Old R5'er
A severity request - 1 Type 3 Engine Strike team, 3 patrol units to cover
the Los Padres! Yep....... there are several "Special Deer
hunts" going on and several Socal forests are closed to entry. The
Los Padres is just gearing up to keep anything small.
Only had the Wolf.......... and Its very dry out there, That's why those
North Ops engines are going south! A few good Prevention units for the
Ojai/MT. Pinos areas.
||Good Morning, All,
I have had a request that I'd like some feedback on. Several
dispatchers during the last year have asked if it would be possible to
have a site within wildlandfire.com wherein dispatchers can ask each other
questions. Theoretically, they can ask here on theysaid. However, from
what I understand, they sometimes have more technical questions or just
different kinds of questions and would like to have input from other
dispatchers without posting their questions to the whole group.
We're considering creating a "Dispatcher's Corner" and
would like to know what the dispatchers in our wildland fire community
think. Would this be useful? Should it be restricted to dispatchers?
Registration required, but anonymity maintained? Dispatchers, I know you
may be exhausted having survived another season, but please let us know
your thoughts on this.
The Jobs page and Series
462 and 455 are
||I was at the Fire house reading the August 2002 issue of
magazine and found an article on wildland firefighting. On page 126 in the
upper right is a picture of ill fated Air Tanker 123. I believe the
is about the Prescott National Forest and their wildland crews and engines
with some dispatch and air tanker stuff also.
It's supposed to be a Red Flag Day again tomorrow in Northern California.
Sill a few more shopping days left before rainy season. Think Safe and Be
||Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service
The Lassen National Forest invites you to attend a memorial service in
honor of our
Firefighters: Steven Oustad, Heather DePaolo and John Self, who died while
When: Saturday, October 19, 2002
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Where: Chester High School Football Field
If inclement weather, the service will be held in the gymnasium
612 First Street
Chester, CA 96020
Contact: Leona Rodreick at (530) 257-2151
Thanks D&CC. Ab.
||They just sent an engine off the Tahoe to Santa Barbara- is there a
party on the LP that I'm missing?
We were informed today by SWCC of the sudden passing of retired USFS
and long, long time Air Attack Supervisor George Harlan. A memorial
is planned for 10/08/02 at 1030 at the Flagstaff American Legion Hall.
George was a legend from Wenatchee to Tucson, Lake City to Amarillo. He
leaves many aviator and fire friends behind.
Fly easy, George.
||Does anyone have the firm info on the time and place of the memorial
service/dedication that was slated for October 19, 2002, for Steve,
Heather and John, the Lassen Engine 11 Firefighters?
||To access the BIA web page, try : www.fire.nps.gov/bia/.
seems to work, and there are links on this page to other areas of BIA.
||Jessie Smith, Kirk's wife, asked if I could share this message with all
Kirk's friends ......... Cathie Zettler, R3, Coconino NF
It would take me numerous years to properly thank all of you individually
who donated hours, money, time, or sent their sentiments. I hope this note
can only begin to express my gratitude to you all. Everything that was
done for Kirk, as well as our children and myself is and always will be
greatly appreciated. It was an awe-inspiring experience to see the
support, love, and consideration that everyone had for my husband and his
family. The fact that there were hundreds of people in attendance to
celebrate Kirk's life that I never had the pleasure of knowing the way
did was a tribute in itself. Kirk loved his family, his friends, his job,
and his life. He fought to uphold them to the highest standards. To all
that loved my husband, thank you. I loved him too.
- Jessie Smith
||RE: HELLitorch letter and 6's response.
The remarks made by the 'scientists' in the letter are typical of the
groupthink that dominates the environmental industry today. Somehow a
small but vocal minority in this country developed the mindset that public
lands exist solely to be eco-museums and serve no other function. The idea
that public lands need to provide a range of values and products is an
incomprehensible foreign concept. These 'scientists' are not the ones
attending local chamber of commerce meetings where discussions center
around the number of businesses failing or relocating because of the
deteriorating local economy. They also are not at the county Board of
Supervisors meetings where the main topics are the escalating unemployment
rate, loss of tax revenue and forest receipts, and the number of homes at
risk from fires. The 'scientists' do not spend their entire lives and
professional careers living and working in rural communities and the
forests. Instead they read their 'scientific' papers written by another
'scientist' whose total fire experience is watching film clips on CNN, and
then proceed to tell everyone else they are wrong. Their solution to the
fire risk in this country? -- stop fighting fires. Their solution to
excessively high forest densities? -- stop any form of timber harvesting.
Loss of wildlife habitat? -- let the forest burn. Rural economies? --
eco-tourism, then declare wide areas off limits so tourists cannot visit.
These so-called 'scientists' should never be allowed to manage public
lands. They have myopic tunnel vision and are pathologically incapable of
managing for balanced multiple uses.
||I read with interest the letter provided by HELLitorch written
concerning Congressman Scott McInnis's legislation and came up with some
It is obvious that these individuals live in their academic ivory towers
and don't have to worry about the unintended consequences of NEPA as it is
currently administered. They begrudgingly acknowledge the problems with
NEPA, "some appeals are frivolous", but yet fail to give a
single suggestion of how to deal with the groundless roadblocks that we
- After reading the biographical information that was provided I
realized that after my first shift on a fire I had more fire
experience than that entire group combined. I assume that anyone who
tries to speak with authority on the subject of fire
management/ecology/suppression would include their suppression
background. A lot of names followed by initials, but no fire
experience. None, zero.
- They ramble on at some length about fire ecology trying to give the
impression that they are all-knowing, and the people that live and
work in those areas are ignorant and would surely muck things up left
to their own devices. ("poorly conceived forest projects")
- They stray far from their professed expertise and speculate about
the results of this legislation being a "more polarized"
public resulting in "more sit-ins and other acts of civil
disobedience". I didn't see any sociology credentials in this
group of the academic elite, yet they feel compelled to give us their
prediction of a societal reaction.
"The voice of reason"?!? More like the voice of condescending
||All BIA computers and web sites are still shut down due to the lawsuit
the management of the indian trusts.
||Does anyone know where the BIA Fire site went? Our link on the links
page under DOI BIA Fire is down. How about the BIA fire hire site?
Please let people know about our presentations tomorrow on the 100 year
anniversary of the Yalcot Burn at Washington State University Vancouver,
lecture hall of the Student Services building, Room 110. Attendance is
free. The Yalcot Burn is Southeastern Washington's most famous burn. It
occurred in late summer 1902 and was fanned by east winds of the Columbia
River Gorge. 239,000 acres burned and 38 people died.
Here are the five main presentations:
Rick McClure, archaeologist for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest:
The Yacolt Burn: A historical Perspective.
Andrew Gray, research ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific
Northwest Research Station: How Hot and How Often Will It Burn? Fire
Ecology of Western Cascade Forests.
William G. Robbins, professor of history at Oregon State University:
Burning Forests: The History Of Fire Policy in the Pacific Northwest.
Jerry Franklin, professor of ecosystem analysis at the University of
Washington: Lessons From the Yacolt Burn Relevant to Current Forest and
Fire Policy Debates.
Bonnie Wood, Northwest director for the federal government's National
Fire Plan: The National Fire Plan: The 10-year Comprehensive Strategy and
The ICS system is convoluted, but in essence the same. FIRESCOPE was the
California consortium (fed, state, local) that merged the Large Fire
Organization (LFO) and Campaign Fire management systems. NWCG, to gain
agreement from all of its members, made changes to the original system
including all of the equipment differences you list. How the incidents are
organized is still basically the same, which is the good part. I don't
the NWCG breakouts are necessary but the job gets done. Brunocini's IMS
system is not a replacement for ICS. He has stated that IMS was developed
as a simple system to create organization where there was none. It was
also easier to sell to the structure community because it was developed by
one on their own, not those wildland guys. California couldn't leave well
enough alone so the Office of Emergency Services developed the State
Emergency Management System (SEMS) which is to be used by all state
in managing emergencies. The changes in it are mostly directed to the law
enforcement agencies so that the fire guys aren't telling them what to do.
The benefit is that the cops are fitting into our operations much better
than ever and we sort of know what they are doing when we have to support
them. It's our job to make it work.
Structural fire deaths are not accepted as part of the job. There are
plenty of laws covering operations. Add HazMat, confined space, swift
water, high angle rope rescue and other response requirements to the bag
the potential OSHA penalties are sometimes mind boggling. What is
is that federal agencies are only recently coming under the long arm of
OSHA. Another difference is many of the structural departments you refer
are way down on the political and government food chain. Management
have national responsibility and visibility to cope with. Congress can't
chase the management of a local government department around or mess with
their budget like they can with the fed agencies. I hope the proverbial
pendulum starts to swing back towards common sense for you. Not only are
folks like Joe Wood being run off but the people who are being molded now,
like Div Sups who now refuse to fill out shift logs to avoid potential
liability, will be weak leaders tomorrow.
Region 8 Type II Blue Team (Wilkens) is staged in central Louisiana for
Lili. Has calmed down considerably since yesterday afternoon. Northern
eyewall just made landfall around 0800 with 100+ winds. Looks like alot of
rain and wind on top of what they got from last weeks tropical storm. R8
has sawteams/dozer teams/etc. from along the Gulf Coast Forests identified
and standing by if needed. Looks like the needs won't be as great as
anticipated yesterday. Yea.
Hurricaine Mobilization: 1 ESF4 has been committed to Denton, TX.The
following resources have been committed to Camp Beauregard, LA:The
Southern Area Incident Management (Blue) Team1 Type 2 Jobs Corps Crew1
You can see more here:
Headed to Costa, have a nice winter
||Any of the Teams up for Lili? She's a Class 4 Hurricane. Team 2?
If so, BE SAFE. Storm surge may be 18-20 feet.
||The Sit Report today has a three paragraph description of what to do
when passing through superheated gasses... just after the Outlook and red
flag warning for Southern CA. Weirdness.
OUTLOOK first describes the RED FLAG WARNING then describes the Southern
Area outlook in a paragraph.
The third paragraph reads "The Southern California Area can expect
..." yada yada and then the fourth paragraph.
"Before passing through superheated gases, try to close the front of
your shroud. You can take your shelter out of the plastic bag and use it
for a heat shield to pass quickly through a hot area." ETC for a few
Then it goes right on to FIRES AND ACRES YESTERDAY:
Is this random weirdness or some new six minutes for safety kinda plan?
Someone thinks its April Fools? Just a little bit strange... It has been
one of those slightly strange Foehn Wind days.
Sign me: Wandering out of the Twilight Zone? A Little Discombobulated?
Hoping for no superheated gasses?
||The voice of reason for Fuels
Management - Maybe the Bushites will get the
message that their rush to cut trees will not solve all problems in all
||I think a great deal of the publics' concern when wildfire fighters are
killed in the line of duty is due to the fact that such a low level of
training is required to become one. (Before I get jumped on here please
note I said "become one".) The minimum level of training is
pretty basic and from my past experience "everyone passes" those
basic classes. That is scary. If the article by Alex Pulaski has any basis
(and I believe it does) some don't have even that "required"
basic training. Scarier yet.
If structure firefighters were put in harms way with such little
preparation and were killed in the line of duty I think the citizens (of
that city) would be just as "concerned" and would hold those
responsible for putting them in harms way accountable. In a city this
would mean not only the fire dept. "overhead" would have some
"splaining" to do but also the folks in the offices at city hall
as well. In the more clearly defined chain of command of a "more
militaristic" structural fire dept. responsibility can be more
clearly defined and assigned than in our current "national fire
dept.". How many fire chiefs could hang onto their job if it was
discovered that non-english speaking firefighters compromised safety? Yet
it does not even warrant a serious investigation when it happens to
Wildfire fighters are in fact our nations' firefighters. Somehow those
at the top of the national agencies charged with hiring, equipping,
training, dispatching, and keeping those firefighters as safe as possible
have managed to distance themselves when a failure to do so results in
fatalities. In the past this was as simple as "investigating"
the circumstances resulting in firefighter deaths themselves and
"finding" that the responsibility was "mainly" on the
dead firefighters. The Storm King Tragedy was the beginning of the end of
that practice...the public thought it appeared too convenient and was an
obvious conflict of interest. The Federal agencies involved ended up
accepting some responsibility and "solved the problem" by
implementing the "sit down, stay awake, and you will pass"
mandatory yearly safety refresher course. Although expensive it
accomplished little other than to provide a "we tried" excuse
for top agency officials when firefighters die in the future.
That excuse was run up the pole" after 30 mile...and failed to
fly. Again the public would not accept that "the agencies" were
doing all they could to provide for firefighter safety...with good reason.
Those most responsible for firefighter safety are far removed from the
fireground...and do not in fact apparently feel responsible for
firefighter deaths. It appears they feel that such deaths are
"inevitable" and that the public is being unreasonable in
holding anyone responsible for such occurrences other than the dead
firefighters themselves. Apparently though they feel that possibly those
in positions of responsibility nearer the fireground are responsible and
IC's are the logical positions to place the "ultimate"
responsibility when firefighters die. This is why the "new"
directives were placed in service in response to the publics' demands for
more responsibility after the 30 mile tragedy. Or possibly it was just to
divert attention from where the "ultimate" responsibility really
is....at the top.
As long as those "ultimately responsible" for national
wildfire suppression policy rely upon firefighters who may or may not have
adequate training and experience to safely man the firelines they will be
"ultimately responsible" for some firefighter fatalities. Some
firefighter fatalities will remain the sole responsibility of the
firefighter but not all. The public can apparently tell the difference
between the two...and is more and more often demanding that when a
firefighter dies as a side effect of an agencies policy, politics, or
inattention that someone in that agency accept responsibility. I think it
is bogus that the "official policy" is that responsibility stops
at the IC level or slightly above...and (I believe) so does the American
public. It is just another step towards true accountability.
Reporters like Alex Pulaski are the publics' ears and "spotlight
seeking" politicians are the publics' mouth. Without them agency
bureaucrats could claim the "we didn't know" defense or continue
to point at ICs as the "responsible party". Unfortunately the
process will probably get worse before those at the top have no
alternatives left but to accept responsibility and begin to act in a more
responsible manner when setting and implementing policy. I imagine that
since the current "bottleneck" to effective national wildfire
suppression is the lack of enough "overhead" to manage the
available firefighters (we have to import them from Australia) the current
"blame the IC" policy will be short lived. As I understand it
the Aussie overhead were only willing to fill our positions if they were
exempted from the liability the current policy creates. Why would US
overhead be willing to accept less?
In a national fire suppression system that accepts/condones an unknown
level of contractor fraud, fire fund diversion, and dependence upon
individuals with a largely unknown level of training can an IC really be
the most responsible person when firefighters die?
I don't think so.
||As a long time Joe Wood fan, I would like applaud his leadership,
insight, fairness, and ability to remain focused on the big picture.
I concur with Thinking of the Teams post yesterday as far as
wondering whether quality ICs will continue to step up. And, I'll
extend the thought a little further by wondering who might be the next
to step down?
It's a sorry situation when one of our top leaders is advised by a
private attorney to remove themselves from a position in which they have
excelled for many years due to the threat of personal liability. Should
our top agency officials fail to step forward and commit themselves
fully to erasing these threats, I predict only those with little to
loose will continue to expose themselves.
Of course, the situation isn't really new, prescribed burn bosses
have obtained private insurance and lawyers for years to protect
themselves from torte claims. But that doesn't make it right or
||Re the contract crew article and thread:
If -or when- we go to larger scale national contracting of contract
crews, is the situation likely to get worse or better? Seems that the bad
apples are better known as being bad in their home territory and can be
avoided if we're lucky. Are we going to let ourselves in for not being
able to get rid of the bad ones because of control from the top down? Is
top down control the best idea?
Doesn't is seem like it would be better to fund fire for the crews we
need and make sure of their training and abilities?
Thanks for stepping up to share your wisdom and your concerns Karkanian.
||Some of this goes back a ways but I've been taking advantage of not
being tied to "fire season" this year and took my first
September vacation in many years, so my apologies if people have to dig
back to find what I'm talking about.
The ICS issue is interesting to me. There are many obstacles to a
common ICS due, in my opinion, to peoples egos. Some things I've noticed
ICS as organized under FIRESCOPE and NWCG have differences, FIRESCOPE only
lists 4 engine types compared to NWCG's 7, and these don't match up, a
Type 3 under FIRESCOPE needs 300 gallons of water, and a 120 gpm pump,
under NWCG, it needs 500 gallons and a 150 gpm pump. There are other
differences but this illustrates the problem, # required on a crew, size
of Air Tankers, etc. No real reason for this that I can see except
apparently the California fire service has to be different. I would
understand this more if it were just CDF and municipals but the feds
follow this too in R5.
To further complicate things, the Phoenix fire chief Brunicini (sp?)
has his IMS which is similar to FIRESCOPE's and NWCG's ICS but just
different enough to confuse the issue; I ran into this taking classes from
instructors from out of state whose agencies use the IMS version.
I am not familiar with any other command systems but I'm sure there are
other variations out there.
Seems like somebody needs to sit all the agency heads in a locked room
until they come up with a system all will adopt, I find it particularly
interesting that IMS would come from a state which has so many fed
resources (who use NWCG's ICS).
On the issue of IC responsibilities I have noticed (particularly after
30mile) that fatalities in structure fires are reasonable if not
acceptable, I rarely hear the second guessing and blame casting following
a fatal structure fire fatality (at least outside the fire community) but
it seems that every time a wildland firefighter gets killed somebody is to
blame (and its usually not the dead firefighter). I find this a
particularly interesting phenomena as many structurally oriented
departments are much more militaristic (subordinates are to be seen and
not heard) than wildland departments which in my experience encourage
subordinates to offer opinions, refuse unsafe assignments etc. So it seem
like the opposite should be the norm (blame placed on the
"authoritarian" IC, not the "democratic" IC) I realize
this is a gross simplification but I think it expresses my thought.
Perhaps its the nature of the incidents, the values at risk, public image
but I find it sort of odd that the events following a wildland fatality
always seem to go to the "blame game", while structure
fatalities fall into the "tragic accident" category. Structure
firefighters have been dying a long time and only in the past few years
have personnel accountability systems been adopted, 2 in 2 out etc, look
how long the 10/13 have been around in comparison. No judgment intended,
just an observation of an attitude I find strange.
Thats all from me, I still have unpacking to get done, the rest of you
have fun and stay safe.
||Nor Cal Tom said: "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."
Look at the article sent in by TC that discusses confirmed problems with
some contract firefighters. The IC can't know all the details of potential
violations with such groups. Supposing someone had died as a result of,
say, non-English speakers in the incident Karkanian describes. Suppose
someone had died as a result of sleeping on the fireline? Say family
members had gotten organized with their Congress person who was wanting to
gain a spotlight. Say they attacked the Forest Service because that's who
they can attack with any satisfaction? Don't you know the IC would have
been blamed if that's the way the WO worded the 30mi Hazard Abatement
Plan? It's the easiest course of action that takes the heat off the
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the WO did not word the Plan with the
intention of making Command take the fall, but they are not ICs and
some may never even have even fought fire. Their perspective is different.
I don't think they or the lawyers can put their heads in the IC's position
or that of his or her family. Someone(s) need to advocate for our leaders.
I hope that the wording on the liability of ICs is being checked carefully
else we may not have quality IC candidates stepping up to serve.
Thanks for your many contributions, Joe. You have always been clear and
honest in meetings and in your actions. May we all have such insight and
Thinking of the Teams
||Dear Aussie CFU
First of all...a good general FF site:
www.esb.act.gov.au/firebreak/firebreak.html is run by the ACT government.
Also you were asking about what to take with you when you're FF.
Here in Queensland (as you know) we have the Rural Fire Brigade (Vollies);
we are issued with Proban treated
overalls (coveralls, it comes with a large/high collar that wraps around
your neck when the heat from the fire gets too uncomfortable), a helmet
a Proban treated neck flap, goggles (Uvex), smoke mask (rated P2, anything
less just stops you breathing in dirt, furry animals etc) and a pair of
gloves...all of which is free.
You order your boots (specific FF boots, zip and lace) and you pay (in our
Brigade at least) a subsidised price of around A$25.00.
We are issued overalls because apparently there is less heat build-up than
with the two piece outfit.
You can buy a better goggles, Uvex FF goggles (red in colour) yourself for
I use an ex-Army pistol (webbed) belt to hold my multi-tool (I can't
a Leatherman, A$180.00 over here!...birthday is July 22 if there is a rich
American reading this), waterbottle (also ex-Army, plastic/aluminium, with
cover) and portable two-way radio.
I carry in my pockets a Fox 40 whistle (holy hell they're loud), pencil,
note pad, two boxes of matches (Redheads brand, Wind and Water proof, I
some people carry those butane lighters but I not sure what heat they can
handle), Princeton Tec torch - Tec 40, 4AA batteries (amazing light,
available from upmarket camping stores), spare bulb, spare batteries,
compass, lollies/chewing gum, cleaning rag, ex-Army spoon/bottle
opener (flat looking thing about 7cm long, A$3.00) and about A$10.00 in
change, just in case we have to go searching for food.
My gloves go up under my helmet along with my two smoke masks and my
sit on top of the helmet.
I have a UK44A helmet mount for my torch. See www.firelogistics.com.au for
more info. The helmet mount was about A$40.00. The helmet mount is for the
UK44A torch, but a Tec 40 fits also. When the sun goes down, out it comes,
gets fitted and I'm the envy of my mates as they trip around in the dark.
Also, I've stuck reflective tape on my pencil, torch, waterbottle etc so
they can be located in the dark, if dropped.
You can contact me at email@example.com if you wish.
Ps thanks Ab for this great site.
NAB, welcome. We have a link to the site you mentioned on the links
page under worldwide. There are some other good Aussie links there as
well. I couldn't get your second url to firelogistics.com.au to work. Ab.