January, 2003

Home of the Wildland FireFighter

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01/31 More information on the death and life of IAFF 16th District Vice President Nick Davila.

www.iaff16.org/news.cfm (use IE 5+ or a browser higher than Netscape 4.7)
01/31 To the French Guy,

Conair, a company based in Abbottsford B.C. Canada, has numerous Fire Cats on contract to the Canadian Government. They bought up excess US Navy S-2 Trackers and modified them as retardant ships. The modifications were so great that (or I am told) they are no longer considered the same ship as the Tracker. Last time I was at the airport they still had about 50 plus Trackers in a storage yard on the east side of the runway, near the retardant base, still in Navy gray and with wings folded up, just like they were parked on a Carrier.

When we order mud and the Fire Cats are sent, they come in groups of three, they do not hold as much as a DC 6-7-8 or P-3, but three ship have an equivalent amount of retardant as one of the big ships. The ship are amazing, they have so much power they can put mud in places where the big ship will not dare to go.

Hope this helps.

01/31 "Lefteye" is probably right about some agency getting nailed by some lawyer when someone dies taking the Pack test. But........let's look at the existing process, and the alternatives (both in the testing, and on the fireline):

If a person is open and honest in taking the health screening, it eliminates 90%+ of the risk. And staying/getting in shape for the test should eliminate most other risks. Yeah, there are folks that have a genetic inclination to a heart attack or other serious health risk, and (a) don't know it; and (b) wouldn't show up in most physical exams.

On the other hand, I hope that we can all support the concept of testing folks before we send us/them out on a wildfire assignment. And personally, if I'm gonna throw a heart attack, I'd rather it be in the controlled environment of a Pack Test site than on some of the God-awful places on the side of a mountain in the dark of night where I occasionally end up during a normal fire season.

So, what are the reasonable, practical, economic, and efficient alternatives to insuring that we have a fit firefighting force in the wildland.....?


01/31 BIG NEWS. There is a type 1 incident mgmt team being mobilized
to Australia. Aaron Gelobter will be the IC, unknown if it is all
of Aaron's team or an assortment of players.

01/31 Another engine for Engines 5 photo page:

Here's 2 pics of a new KME Type 3 we recently purchased for Green Valley Lake, Station 129, San Bernardino County.


01/31 MG requested photos of ordnance on the ground near fires. This shot is from
the Timpee Fire, June 2001. Not exactly a shot of ordnance, but we weren't
inclined to go looking around.

This may also be of interest to Shooter. This was the sign I referred to in
December, and finally unearthed the photo.


Put it on the Miscellaneous 2 photo page. Ab.

01/31 JerseyBoy,

Tell your friends to go to the links page of wildlandfire.com and click on the USDA Forest Service National Page and they will find every Forest in the Nation. You will be able to get some phone numbers to the Forest you desire.

If I was one of them I would get the numbers to the Forest I would like to work, then call them and ask all the questions of hiring you can think of -to the Forest you have picked. They should give you information on jobs and how many positions they have open.

Make sure they talk to someone in fire like an Division or Battalion Chief. Hope this helps you out.

01/31 Ab-

maybe some of the readers can help out. i understand most of the FS new hiring website, but i can't seem to figure out where you find out the important info: such as where the opening is, and who to contact about it.

this isn't such a problem for me, as i have a job for this coming season, but i have some friends from here in the east who would like to go out west. however, they can never find any info on who to talk to or even how many positions a forest may have. and being geographically isolated from forests makes it tough to get info.

01/31 I wil agree that the pack test is a good test of physicl ability. However, I think it is only a matter of time before one of the government agencies sponsoring this test will be taken to task in court by a loved one of someone that has died taking or preparing for the test. It seems odd to me that a government agency would continue to sponsor and use a test that has had numerous fatalities assoiciated with it. Mark my words, Uncle Sam will pay the piper one of these days. Lefteye
01/31 I apologize for not making my-self clear. I've been in the game alot longer than everyone thinks, I fully understand and use them (10 and 18) all the time.


P.S. Thanks for the awesome web site.
01/31 From France:

Dear sir,
I am looking for informations about the gumman CS2F firecat and links with potential sellers

If you can help me I will realy appreciate

In the expectation of your reply,
best regards
Gabriel Kaeppelin

Ab would be happy to forward a message.

01/31 Firetool

The fiberglass handles that I know of are from a company called NUPLA. They
make replacement tool handles, as well as complete tools. I have seen a
catalog, but I don't know if they have a website.

Central Arizona is in the 80's today!!!!

See ya
01/31 Will Puller

I take what that "Helicopter Type Person" said as an insult. I'm a
crewboss for an aggressive helitack crew. We always follow LCES when we
slam line. Yes we do get alot of IA's and we take the rules of
engagement very serious. I will admit that helitack has a bad
reputation that they are a bunch of slackers. However my crew and
several other crews out there are out to change that image. I really
hope that this person was just joking.

01/31 Ab,
Some people have been posting about wanting to see the new USFS Mod 62 Engine, So I have sent a few pics in. This is the Pierce 4x4 model, taken @ Pierce West in Ontario CA. This particular Engine is in Red..... Kinda of weird to see a USFS Rig in red. Guess it could be someone elses truck, but who would by a USFS spec truck besides the USFS???

Truth is, it is a Sales Demo.

Put 'em on Engines 5 photo page. Ab.
01/31 Ab, Here's a picture of our engine.

Idaho Department of Lands Type 6.

Put it on Engines 5 photo page. Ab.

01/31 Ab, our engine crew 66 logo. JJ

Put it on the Logo 8 page. Nice one. Ab.

01/30 Ab,
I was at a training session a while ago and the subject of the 10 and 18 plus LCES came up. After a lengthy discussion, a Helicopter type person got up and said that the version of LCES was different from Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes and Safety Zones.

He swore that the Helicopter version of LCES is:
Lawn Chairs

Tell me it ain't so. I know the heli-attack crews are well supplied but don't they have to follow the same guidelines as the rest of us??

Will Puller
heliheavn.jpg oopsie floodheavn.jpg
01/30 Ab - I'm deeply apologetic: forwarding an Email from someone who has
something good to say about smokejumpers!

~~~~~~~~~~~~ from OZ
Hi all

Just a quick update.
After a harrowing day had by all with atrocious conditions and a 27 km
fire run that even threatened the IMT at Swifts Creek and evacuated
OMEO, the good lord has smiled upon us and set us 6 mm of rain. Not
enough to put the fires out but enough to allow 2 days of respite and
hard work to strengthen the containment lines. Have just talked to the
IMT and their plan for the day is to recon the fire, find out what it is
doing and strengthening the dozer lines. They say this is a very
naughty fire as it does nothing that it is supposed to do.

When I go up on sunday hopefully everything will be in place and will
only be a case of building on the good work and not undo what everyone
has done over the last month.

Your smoke jumpers spoke very well during their interviews and
have made some good relationships here. One guy said that he has seen
some pretty bad fire behaviour in his time, but this fire is something
special and out of the ordinary. Its great when people still learn
after all the years of combating the beast and treat it with the respect
it deserves, before you go and beat its bloody head in.

Must go as I'm duty.

Take care and remember fire fighters watch out when they are unfamiliar
with weather and local fire behaviour.

01/30 Today we lost another great person. Nick Davila was the 16th District Vice
President of the IAFF. The 16th District represents ALL federal
firefighters. His loss is a loss to ALL of us. Its hard to find someone so
dedicated to the rights of Federal Firefighters. I'll provide more info as
it becomes available.

Here's the info from the IAFF 16th District Web Site:

With the deepest regret and sorrow General President Schaitberger and
General Secretary Treasurer Bollon report to you the death of IAFF 16th
District Vice President Nick Davila. Brother Davila was killed earlier this
evening in an automobile accident in San Antonio, Texas. Our thoughts and
prayers are with his family. Funeral Service information will follow.

Richard M. Duffy
Assistant to the General President
International Association of Fire Fighters
01/30 Hello, my name is Brian Janes and I work for the USDA Forest Service in Six
Rivers National Forest. I am looking for any information about the Johnson
Fire of 2002 in the Fish Lake National Forest in Utah, partically about
Tom's Tornado. I know that at least 2 crews video taped the event and I
would like a copy for fire science study. This fire whirl which turned into
a virtual tornado was like nothing else ever seen. If anyone knows where I
might get a copy, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your help
and have a safe season.

01/30 The Historical Wildland Firefighter Fatalities web page has been
updated to include the 2002 Safety Gram information. The three
reports have the information sorted by year, accident type, and
state. Here's the URL:

01/30 I agree with Backburnfs. Not being able to go out on fires and having to do 50 pushups for every wrong answer motivated me to learn them all in 30 minutes.


But having the 10 "memorized" doesn't mean you understand and can use them. Ab.

01/30 Need a bit of assistance...(Please don't roll your
eyes until you read the whole email!)

I'm an ex-Forest Service employee setting up a T2
Water Tender.

Due to my Forest Service training of trying to save
money wherever possible -- does anyone have (or know
where) I could acquire some used plumbing apparatus?
Things like reducers, adapters, a bit of hose, that
kind of stuff. And a port-a-tank. I can buy it new,
but I want to try to save a few bucks.

New Guy

Ab will forward any message on.
01/30 HC,

A "New Learner" if properly motivated, say 50 pushups for every wrong
answer, can learn the 10 SFO's in any form in a matter of days. I believe
there is a direct link from the arms to the brain when it comes to helping
people "chunk the info from short into long term memory".

Another great motivational tool is "If you can't learn the 10 and 18 and
can't tell me what they are in order, verbatium, you can't go to a fire."

I have seen both of these motivational methods used with great success for
a huge number of "sequential" and other wise processors over the past 28

Call me old fashioned, but it works.


haw haw. Ab.

01/30 To M from CA:

Couldn't agree more with your assessment of outsourcing....However you are
wrong about fire jobs not being affected. If you read the details of the
(ahem) OMB "expert" below (gawd I nearly choked) you will notice one of his
remarks to the effect of- if FS employees go on fires for a couple months
their regular job is not needed. At meetings with employees on our forest
it was explained that even if a Gov't employee is successful in bidding for
their own job, they can only perform those things in the job description
they bid on. That means if they are, for example, an engineering employee
(say an equipment operator) and they also are qualified in Ground support,
they will no longer be allowed to go on fires. If you think it is hard to
fill support functions with qualified folks on fires now, just wait. And
just who do you think they will expect to train all those contractors that
they seem to think will just step into the job???

And then there's the day to day operations of us agency people. I don't
know about youall, but our fire folks do an awful lot of work for other
departments, thinning, cadastral surveying, snow surveying, yard work,
facility maintenance, timber marking, wildlife surveys and on and on.
Where's the savings in having a crew hang out all day waiting for the fire

01/30 My problem with the 10 standard orders in any form:

For new people, ten items is too many to keep in memory without extensive repetition and situational practice. Focusing on a smaller set that has a mnemonic like LCES fits into what's been shown scientifically about how memory works. A new learner can keep only 5 to 7 items max in short term memory to be able to easily consolidate them into long term memory. 10 or 17 items is too many for the inexperienced. Sure the "flow and "logic" of the original orders is satisfying for those of you who already know and live them. And if training is substantial, the form of presentation of them as "rules of engagement/disengagement" would help people "chunk" the info from short into long term memory. You sequential processors probably got those rules integrated with much less problem than some other kinds of "rules to stay safe" and many of us are sequential processors. But I would say here that training and practice is the key and I don't see enough at the situational level.

01/30 Emt_Micah:

I would ask the Head Park Ranger to give you a letter that says "Wildland Firefigter" or 025 series are in fact "Inherently governmental". Federal DOD Firefighters have tried to seek legislative action to include their positions. Military Base's across the nation downsized and gave their firefighters the boot. BRAC did a great job of pushing "outsourcing/contracting" to local Fire Departments. Some Feds ended up with jobs by their State legislators passing IAFF legislation to allow Federal Firefighters to fill jobs before the job was filled by recruitment. FWFSA has been looking for a Dept of Interior or Agriculture Fire position that is "Inherently governmental", NO SUCH beast exists! Contracting out is the Republican way, Forest Service employee's are the "low hanging fruits" that need to be picked? Interesting stuff if you're a Republican. OF COURSE........ "THEY SAID" is not a place you want to go into political party stuff? If you know of a position in the Park Service, (FIRE) that is inherent by position, please share. Only the Law Enforcement group is covered.


01/30 Anyone know where I can find any of the hand tools which come with the
nylon or fiberglass handles (not exactly sure what the material is)? I have
tried the Dragon Slayer Tools, and despite the fact that the Magnum Pulaski
head is awesome, the handle is still just wood. And for $250 that's a little
much for me to be paying for a wood handle.

Any suggestions?
Thanks - Firetool

01/30 Ab,

FWFSA rep's (or myself) will be on chat tonight Thursday after 7 pm
(Pacific) to answer questions and to garner support for Wildland Fire
Service Issues.


01/30 AB & All,

r.e. Craig Goddel's " Better way, Fire orders"
We have already gone back to the Original 10 Standards. This is how we learned it when I started, I never bothered to "re-learn" the FIRE ORDERS version. The new way just didn't make sense. Funny how the pendulum swings. Attached is a copy of the poster that we have in our training room. Feel free to use it.


01/29 AB,

I find it ironic that the NPS in their search for Competitive Sourcing,
issued a $5,000,000 contract without competing for their own contract. The
following article can be found at the following address-

More than likely the "Competitive Sourcing" won't take away any fire jobs
in the Govt. but the new directives in contracting fuels projects probably
will. By next year we will be forced to contract 50% of all fuels dollars.
This is supposed to stimulate the local economy. So the jobs we would
have normally given to the seasonals we will now have to give to
contractors who charge (in my dealings and fuels types) $2,000-3,000
dollars an acre when we could do it for $1,000 an acre. I have been told my
projects cannot exceed $1,000 an acre...unless we contract them. Does this
make sense?

I have good friends who work for contractors and I don't want to knock them
for what they do. Many projects couldn't get done without them. I am very
interested if other people feel the same way...

M from CA

I did not reprint the article as it would violate copyright laws. You can read it via the link. Ab.
01/29 Mike Sweeney, here's your answer on the Retardant Drop photo by leo jarzomb.

Leo Jarzomb
San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group
1210 Azusa Canyon Rd.
West Covina CA 91790
800-788-7578 ext 2121

He took it on Sept 4, '02 on the Curve Fire.

One who was there

01/29 Deployment to OZ:


caught part of an interview on morning tv with a Hotshot by the name of
Beebee (?). They seem to have been sent to Victoria to help with the high
country fires there. With the forecast weather I'm sure they're going to be
in the very deep end first day.

For those that are thinking of coming, I suggest you have a read of the
report by one of the blokes that went with the first deployment from Oz to
US so you can get a look in to what differences there are. Download from


01/29 Looking for Leo Jarzomb:

Need to ask Leo for permission to use his close-up of federal air tanker that's posted on airtanker 6 on wildlandfire.com.

We are a newly-formed non-profit group that's working to save the CDF Ukiah Air Attack base. Please contact me at sweeney@pacific.net or pager (707) 468 2223.

Mike Sweeney

01/29 NWCG's Safety and Health Working Team has the newest Safety Gram
Accident/Incident Summary: Fatalities and Entrapments 2002. This is a
pdf version (218K). Later they will probably have a site where you can
link to it so it doesn't take space on your server, Ab. Thought some might
like to see it.

Safety Gram, 2002


Thanks. Ab.

01/29 great chat last night. nice to make some contacts on here. keep it up


Glad you like it. Nice work on the part of one of the Abs to get the new version of RALF up and running. Working on this site takes lots of time and it's nice to have help. Check out the new Smiley faces and experience the new RALF chat. www.wildlandfire.com/smiley_info.php. Original Ab deserves a round of applause. clap clap Clap CLAP CLAP. Thanks Original! You're the BEST.

Not the Original.

01/28 The Easterners are in Chat. We hooked up the new chat as the default. Just use the header FireChat button.

Oh yeah the jobs page and Series 462 and 455 are updated.


01/28 MG,

There's a picture of ordinance on the fireground on /pics/misc/misc.php. It's Stu's and it's called hazard. Some FF were talking about the dangers of firefighting near a "hot area" the other night on chat. Maybe one of them has a photo or two.


Todd and MG, someone wrot in that you really mean ordnance not ordinance. Har. Let's see if I get "corrected". Ab.

01/28 We could all send that "childish Childs" and his Competitive Sourcing some of that LOW HANGING FRUIT. I'll send a banana with a few choice comments on what he can do with it. ( Did I say that! ;-0 )

Childs gives "government" and G-dub a bad name. Well maybe having them spell it out is better than if they glossed over it. At least we know their true thinking. Doesn't bode well.

(Ab, this is a tame commentary, You should see the one I wrote the first time around.)

Tahoe Terrie

01/28 Abs,
Just got this today. We've already been told that public safety functions
(including wildland fire management) are inherently governmental and will
not be contracted out. We'll see in a year or two.

National Park Service, Office of the Director
To All Employees

Since April 2002, when plans were announced to begin cost-comparison studies associated with the Administration's competitive sourcing initiative, I have made it a priority to keep National Park Service employees informed about our agency's competitive sourcing plans.

National Park Service employees are very passionate about their jobs, and have a well-deserved reputation for providing outstanding public service. As director of this agency, I am confident the jobs being studied will continue to be performed by our employees. At every opportunity, I commend your outstanding work to Interior and White House officials.

Imagine my distress at reading an article with the headline "70% of Jobs in Park Service Marked Ripe for Privatizing" in the January 26 edition of the L.A. Times, which also appeared in many other newspapers across the country.

The article said that Interior Secretary Gale Norton has earmarked 11,807 full-time positions for privatization. That statement is not true. That number, which is now 11,524, comes from the FAIR (Federal Activities Inventory Reform) Act Inventory of 2002. The FAIR Act requires each agency to identify a list of commercial functions it performs that are not inherently governmental. The agency does not have to compete every function, however, and with the Secretary's approval, the National Park Service has identified 1,700 positions to be studied through FY 2003 and FY 2004. A figure of 70% has never been used as a measuring stick for privatizing National Park Service jobs or will it be. Nor will our ranger ranks, those in the 025 series, as implied in the article, be among the positions studied for competitive sourcing.

A letter to the editor is now being prepared to bring attention to the misleading information and factual errors in the article, and should be sent to the L.A. Times within the next couple of days.

Again, let me emphasize how much your dedication and outstanding public service is appreciated not only by me but also Secretary Norton and President Bush. I promise to keep you informed of any new developments in the competitive sourcing process, and urge you to check InsideNPS, our intranet website, under competitive sourcing for updates.

Fran Mainella
Director, National Park Service

01/28 the crew to Australia is 10 blm 8 usfs, 2 fish and feathers 1 nps and 2 BIA

Issues that came up: 1) no passport 2) no birth certificate, ergo no
passport and 3) some just can not leave the country.... They requested T1

(no name on this one please)

I have my passport. Ab.

01/28 Does anyone have a photo or access to a photo of ordinance on the ground or closely located to a wildland type of incident? I'm actually looking to find a mortar round stuck in the ground.

Any help would be great.

01/28 Here's a draft of an issue paper entitled
"Standard Fire Orders and Watch Out Situations: There's a Better Way".

This paper was forwarded to us by TC and DF and posted with the permission of Craig Goddell, the author. Some good suggesting for maintaining situational awareness in a changing fire environment and good points regarding potential conflict between some of the fire orders and the "Situations That Shout Watch Out".

Craig's paper is presented as a 188K pdf file. There's a "dynamic model" of thinking through the fire orders on page 3. You all know how we rag on pdf format, not this time. If you need Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the pdf, you can get Acrobat Reader here. It's free.

Click here to download Craig's "Better Way" Fire Orders (pdf). We're also posting links to it on the Documents Worth Reading page and on the Site Map page, where you can also access Karl Brauneis' Original Intent Ten Standard Fire Orders. It's interesting to see how Craig built on those.

Happy reading.

PS. K just sent in a photo (gif) of the page 3 model.

01/28 AB and all, We lost another one.

Services for Chuck Jerpe will be held in Susanville CA on Feb 4th @ 1230 PM at the Assembly of God church. Chuck passed away Monday in Reno, NV after a long battle with injuries he received in a Helicopter crash (Mt Life Flight of Susanville CA) in 2001. Chuck was a F/F Medic originally from the Fresno area and worked for 5 yrs in Glenn and Colusa Co's in the 90's. He was working for Mt EMS of Susanville when the Helicopter he was returning from Reno in crashed into Honey Lake near Susanville , CA.

01/28 Ab's this is a forward from the NSW rural Fire Service.
I will leave it up to you to snip/edit to get the gist of the gravity
Aussie CFU
Tuesday, 28 January 2003 6:58 PM

FW: RACE AGAINST TIME FOR THOUSANDS OF FIREFIGHTERS Volunteer firefighters from the NSW Rural Fire Service will be racing against time to build and consolidate containment lines around bushfires across the State before the onset of expected bad bushfire weather conditions on Wednesday and Thursday.

While we have taken the opportunity to stand down some of our firefighters for much needed rest, the more than one thousand firefighters who remain in the field, particularly in southern NSW, are racing to rebuild containment lines around bushfires, said NSW Rural Fire Service Assistant Commissioner Operations Shane Fitzsimmons.

While the weekend displayed how effectively our containment plans worked and the readiness and capability of our firefighters against tough fire weather conditions, we nevertheless witnessed the bushfires in the southern part of NSW break through many of our containment lines.

With close to half a million hectares (1,235,525 acres) having been burnt out in the area between the Yass district and through the Snowy Mountains to the Victorian border, our work is still cut out for us to contain these fires. The weather on Wednesday and Thursday is expected to be very hot, dry and windy and this will again see these fires flare up.

Our crews will be using the next 24 hours to backburn and we will also be deploying around 50 heavy bulldozers and graders to help cut new containment lines.

We must recognise the ongoing efforts of our volunteers. Today marks the 124th day of continuous declarations of "bushfire emergencies" under s44 of the Rural Fires Act. This has been our most protracted bush firefighting season on record and highlights the effect that the drought is having on fire behaviour. We should also applaud those employers who have continued to allow our volunteers leave from their jobs, as well as those self-employed volunteers who have put their businesses on hold to go off and fight fires across the State, said Asst. Commissioner Fitzsimmons.

We're keeping you all in mind. Remember that no property, forest or home is worth a life. Be Safe. Ab.

01/28 Ab,

I just finished reading all the scuttle about pack tests, IHCs and the American Firefighting Crew on its way to Australia. The crew to Australia is not a rumor. My IHC Superintendent and the Assistant Superintendent from the Zuni IHC are amongst those fortunate enough to make this trip. There are also Smokejumpers in the mix and a few folks from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fire management program as well. (Yes, fins and feathers has a well trained and highly qualified fire management program.) They will be broken up into four groups of five personnel and manning engines. I don't know about the other folks but the assistant superintendent from Zuni is also a former and still current Engine Boss or Captain of Foreman depending who or which agency you may work under. The superintendent is an ICT3. Who knows why the powers that be decided to send the people that were chosen instead of currently active engine crews. Personally I felt they should have sent hotshot crews and engine crews. The folks from "down under" came to our aide last summer and I would like to send them more than the people we are sending.

In any case, we are sending a good mix of professional wildland firefighters. Who knows, maybe this will serve to open the door for more of us to go help out. In case anyone is interested, the Zuni IHC Superintendent's name is Carl Crawford of the Blackfeet Nation and the Assistant Superintendent's name is Troy Cachini of the Zuni Tribe. Our prayers and hopes for a safe return goes with every member of the American Firefighting Crew and are extended to our friends from "down under" that they all weather out the fire storms safely.

I wanted to mention that the Southwest is in as bad if not worse shape right now as we were this time last year. The snow pack is non-existent and we are having mid to late spring like weather. I fear that the Rodeo-Chediski fire was just a warm-up for things to come. We are already experiencing moderate fire danger on the Zuni Reservation and the indices are moving up rapidly. The fire season is shaping up to be another long, tiring and dangerous one. Everyone be safe and remember, they haven't grown one tree that is worth singing the hair on our wildland firefighters.

They lite-em, We fight-em (alias, Zuni FMO)

01/27 This list of excerpts evidently from one of Bush's appointees at OMB has come in from a number of sources. Competitive Sourcing, what is it and what are the implications for the future? Ab.

Comments on federal employees and the Competitive Sourcing Initiative

Excerpts from David C. Childs, Commercial Activities & Privatization Manager, Office of Management & Budget speeches, Jan. 17, 2002; Nov., 2002, Washington, DC, Reno, NV

  • There is not a government employee performing at the industry standard rates.
  • 850,000 government employees are doing work that could or should be done by the private sector.
  • Expected only about 105,000 of these government jobs to be lost.
  • We don't care who does the work.
  • It is not going to be easy to retain in-house government services.
  • We don't want to penalize federal employees for past inefficiencies.
  • Federal employees will sell their souls.
  • Forest Service employees are "LOW HANGING FRUIT" that need to be removed.
  • If a Forest Service employee is working a couple months on fire, that means that his other Forest Service job is not needed.
  • This is a reaction to chronic poor performance of government and continuing disclosure of intolerable waste.
  • If there is a contractor somewhere, anywhere doing the work, it is not inherently governmental.
  • This renewed emphasis [on Competitive Sourcing] is really nothing new.
  • Due to the intensive downsizing of the previous administration, the workforce is aging and 50% of government employees will retire in 4-10 years. We have to do this competitive sourcing NOW or we may not be able to accomplish our goals due to the shrinking workforce.
  • Determining what jobs are inherently governmental is not inherently governmental.
  • Determining the Most Efficient Organization (MEO) is not inherently governmental.
  • If federal agencies don't fully implement the administrations goals, we [OMB] will cut their budget accordingly. The Corp of Engineers is an example in how they didn't buy into the outsourcing last year so we [OMB] slashed their budget. [He neglected to say that Congress later restored all of their funding.]
  • This is not about the reduction of federal jobs or budget cuts, nor about "privatization", but rather about finding the right kind of jobs.
  • If government jobs were contracted out, that would not necessarily mean that government workers would lose their jobs.
  • Competition is the best way to reduce government costs and improve accountability.
01/27 Hi all lets talk about some fire for once instead of RAIN SNOW COLD.. Lets
get the blood FLowing Fire Season is coming up.. Whats a better way to make
friends .. never know who you could run into.. Tonight 1-27-03 at 8 pm ..
that is 2000 for us who know the military time..

See Ya there..
R6 Washington state FF..

Try the old chat room - hit the chat button in the header. I can't get the link to the new one to work. Ab.

01/27 Richard,

The last Academy starts on April 6th, but you must have 500 hours of Wildland Fire experience before you can attend. This does not mean that they can't hire you as an apprentice this year, but you can not attend the academy until next year.

01/27 AB,

Hello, my name is Richard and i just got a call from a forest who was
interested in hiring me for the apprentice program. By any chance would
you happen to know when the academy dates are? If it's before
March 7 i wont be able to go - because i will be 18 on March 7.
I also was wanting to know if there are going to be any academies later
in March or in April?

Thank you and I love your website.
01/27 Here are a few pictures to add to the photo archives. A conglomerate of HS crews from Alberta, Canada, on export to the Biscuit Fire in Oregon. We were there for 17 days, from August 4th to the 21st (or thereabouts), based first in Gold Beach, and then Brookings. Our first assignment was structure protection in the settlement of Wilderness Retreat where we were very warmly welcomed. We were amazed by the treatment we received from the locals, and were touched to see Canadian flags flying from their houses and even some businesses in Brookings. We spent the latter part of our tour cutting line, setting up pumps, and laying hose (bloody threaded couplings!), in preparation for burnouts that we never got to see, unfortunately, because we timed out.
  • The first picture was on the way into Oregon, but you can probably figure that out by looking at it. We took the scenic route from Medford, OR, to CA, and back to Gold Beach, OR.
  • The second is our crew w/ STLs crossing the Chetco River near Wilderness Retreat.
  • The third is of us putting up sprinklers on the Chetco River Inn. A beautiful place with great hosts, good snacks, and a Scottish terrier named Maggie!
  • These next 3 photos give an idea of the topography (bloody steep in some places!) and fuels.
  • Here's one that shows the smoke from the fire over the Pacific Ocean.
  • A nice job with the Christmas lights above the Brookings camp!


Thanks GreatWhiteNorth for being patient while we got these up. We have some more photos on a bit of a backlog but we are working on them. We put these up on the Biscuit Fire page at the bottom. Ab.

01/27 on friday, george chesley announced that usfs are doing cutbacks here and that, due to the severe snow pack, it will be a very bad fire season here in central and eastern oregon

doc brown

01/27 Book Review.

In Fire: A Brief History, Steven Pyne identifies three separate political camps with respect to the controversy over fire management policy at the turn of the century. The first group he refers to as the "Let it burn" group or individuals and institutions seeking to keep the status quo. The second group were the "Light Burners". These were proponents of a fire management policy which incorporated the use of controlled burns as a way of mimicking the natural occurrence of fire in land management. The third group Pyne refers to as the "No Burn" group. This group which included powerful political figures such as Gifford Pinchot and Henry Graves eventually would dominate the political landscape in terms of fire management in the forests of the country for the next 85 years.

This was an excellent account of the early politics leading to present day fire management policy. Politics swing as a pendulum from left to right. With the exception of certain infrequent catastrophic events, mother nature operates in a much more subtle manner than political events. Combining politics with good fire management will never be a good mix. Let us learn from the lessons of the past. In a quote by George Santayana in 1905 "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." we are reminded that we should always keep an open mind towards learning.

5 saws for historical value, 3 saws for an easy read, avg it to 4 saws if you like.

Cap'n Kirk

Nice review, Cap'n. We put it up on the Book Reviews page. Ab.

01/27 more job cuts.. not sure if fire affected though.

Majority of jobs in Park Service possible targets for privatization

The Meat

01/27 I have sat by and read all the stuff about pack tests, who can and can
not pass it, and why and why not we should have it. well I am 50 years old,
have had lyme disease which raised hell with my joints especially my
left hip. in fact at one point I considered having it replaced but did not.
I just spent time in the wt. room and hiked with wt. on my back and
Nicks Boots reworked my boots to compensate for my short leg and yes i
can pass the pack test. so to all you that have two good legs and an ok!
back, get up off your ass and stop wining and get with the program. I
walk with a limp and they call me the gimp, but I can still out work and
walk most of them.

The old fire gimp
01/27 Another J.W.,

I believe the case you are referring to involved the British Columbia Forest Service. Fitness tests vary from province to province across the country. As I heard it, the 'old' test that she first passed _was_ the pack test. The test that the BCFS had switched to was the shuttle run or beep test. It was the new beep test that she was not able to pass. I'm not sure what the level for a 'pass' was, but for Alberta Type I-Helitack Support and Type I-Rapattack crews, you need a minimum of level 10. Ontario's minimum is level 6. So I've been led to believe that the BCFS has scrapped the beep test and gone back to the pack test.

In case some are not familiar with the beep test, here's a description of Alberta's fitness requirements (3 parts):

1 metre = 3.3 feet

Physical Fitness

Applicants selected must successfully complete a physical fitness test consisting of three phases. Applicants will be interviewed after the physical fitness test and if selected, will be sent to the training course and may be accepted to the program. Members of the HS are tested throughout the season and must be able to meet the following minimum physical fitness standards at all times. Failure to do so will result in the member being released from the program. A 20-minute rest is allowed between phases.

Shuttle Run: the runner completes a minimum of 90, 20-metre runs back and forth, or 1800 metres (1.1 miles) at pre-determined beeps starting at 8.2 seconds per 20 metres and progressing faster throughout the 1800 metres.

Upright Row: in a standing position, back against the wall, knees slightly bent, and hands placed shoulder width apart on the bar, lift a 23-kg (51 lb.) barbell to chest height. The metronome will be set at 40 beats per minute or 20 lifts per minute. The standard is 18 repetitions per minute.

Pump/Hose/Carry/Drag: which must be completed in under four minutes and ten seconds. The timer starts when the pump is placed on the ground. For safety purposes, this phase of the test must be performed wearing a hard hat, coveralls, and work boots.

Start by carrying 30-kg (65-lb) Mark III pump 100 metres without stopping - 50 metres out and back. Next pick up four 30-metre (100 ft) lengths of 1.5-inch hose, (31 kg/68 lbs.), putting it over the shoulders and carrying it a distance of 300 metres - 75 metres out and back twice. Upon completion of the above, pick up a charged length of 1.5-inch hose and drag it 50 metres out and back twice for a total of 200 metres. Hose lengths must be pulled over the shoulder with one hand and grasped behind the back with the opposite hand to pass this test.


01/27 AB:

Found the following this morning.
"Hayman Firefighter Says He's Being Burned By System"

It is beyond dry here on front range of Colorado. It is suppose to be 69 degrees in Denver today.
Mountain Fire Departments here in Boulder County are getting prepared for a long dry year, beginning now.
From what I have heard, I am not sure if a Aerial Tanker will be at Jeffco Airport this year or not.

01/27 Report from Downunder:

We lost a fellow fire fighter yesterday (Jan 26th).

A volunteer fire fighter was killed as a result of a 3 vehicle (all ff vehicles) collision in bad visibility due to smoke in Western Australia yesterday. Two others are still in hospital with severe injuries that are not considered life threatening. He was engaged to be married.

Some 20 odd houses were lost down in Victoria last night.

Final toll for Canberra (as of the Sunday Papers),
420 houses destroyed plus the Mt Stromlo Observatory, a number of government buildings and a gas station, damaged houses unknown
4 dead,
60 injured and requiring hospitalization,

But some good news

The state of emergency was lifted in Canberra and interstate crews have been sent home,
The snow skiing capital of Australia, Thredbo village, was saved (fires came from both ends of the valley that it was located in) and has had some light rain that has assisted FF to contain the fires.

Victorian fires still a major concern.

Catch you all later.
Aussie CFU
01/27 Fedfire/ blackliner

Jr. here, I worked on Vandenberg's crew for several years, they do become unavailable during missile launches and other important military missions. All members of the crew are civilian, with an occasional airmen to supplement their numbers. They are under the 0081 series and are paid portal to portal when they leave for a fire. They have a mutual aid agreement with SBCO and Los Padres NF. for initial attack responses. You will only see them in South Zone though, the base commander would never let us leave for calls to other regions and North Zone. They have the same requirements as a IHC and have close ties with LP hotshots overhead. Let me know if you have any other questions I will be glad to answer them.

Jr. Vandenberg Fire

01/27 Well my point of the pack test is this.. it is a great item to see how fit that a firefighter is. Is it fair YES, but does it mean you are in shape you are a safe firefighter NOT ALWAYS. Does not passing the pack test mean you are not a safe firefighter HECK NO. look folks if you are wayout of shape you cant do this work. i have see some pugey guys that work harder than most. hey i am 41 year old and a littleover lbs but yes i have passed the pack test..
01/26 Hey All,

One of the Abs did a lot of research and created a new and updated chat. RALF chat did give some problems. We now have a new and updated version.


We've been testing it out among ourselves and want to announce a community test of the new system after the Superbowl tonight, maybe about 2000 hours. If you can find someone to chat with before then, feel free to do so. You'll have to reenter your moniker and password. If you have any feedback for us on how it works or anything else, we'd appreciate hearing it.

It appears to this Ab that the system is much less jerky and has some other great new features. Of course it will be interesting to see how it "flows" with more people on it.

Be there or be square!


01/26 My .02 on the pack test thread - bottom line is that firefighters are athletes. We need to be
able to have that extra 110% in reserve: moving to a safety zone, punching that last chain
to tie in, stretching the final hose pack. This requires a commitment to physical training
all year. Back when I ran an engine crew, I called prospective crew members in February
and laid out my expectations to them. They needed to show up in May already in shape. I
have moved on to a ADFMO position, but I still work out all winter long, and see the folks
I've trained doing the same. 45 minutes with 45 pounds on flat terrain is no problem if
fitness is a part of one's lifestyle.
01/26 Hey Ab,

I've heard that overhead and a 20 person crew are going to Australia.
They're gathering in LA to get the passport issue resolved.

Hats off to you all. Let us know more as you can. Snap a few shots
for us.

NorCal Tom
01/26 I am short, 5'2", and I have always been able to pass the pack test. I
have even passed the pack test when I was pretty out of shape from
hanging out on the couch all winter. I think it is a HUGE red flag if
someone can't pass it, and passing it does not mean that a person is in
good enough shape for this job.

01/26 fedfire-

And of course I would forget the BIA! Sorry Guys! I have to say that
several very good crews come out of the BIA. The BIA crews I can
think of are Geronimo, Fort Apache, Zuni, Chief Mountain, Mescalero
and Warm Springs. The only crew I haven't worked around is Warm
Springs. I mean no disrespect if I have missed someone. Anyway, an
IHC is supposed to be an IHC, so it really doesn't matter who funds
them. Same job, different colored buggies...

01/25 The Jobs, Series 462 and 455 pages are updated.

New jobs are up under Contract.
A new Oregon job is up under State.

01/25 Anyone not able to pass the pack test should not be in this profession. As a woman in wildfire myself I keep in shape year round and set goals for the up and coming fire season, as far as athleticism goes. If you can't pass the pack test you become a liability, as far as fire goes liabilities are a bad thing. a supervisor isn't going to take someone out that can't keep up, or if they have to constantly worry about if that person is going to make it out with the rest of the crew. If you plan on coming into this profession then please do your homework and know what you are getting yourself into and what you have to prepare for.

P.S. I want to go to OZ too. Please, Please, Please

Dorothy, that you? Ab.
01/25 Well that makes sense, call up Hotshots to staff engines, am I missing something here or is this another case of the government forgetting about their engine crews (It's been about 2 years since I wrote a description of engine crews for the USFS Fire and Aviation site and they still haven't even put an inactive link for engines in their people in fire section, just IHCs and Smoke Jumpers, go figure).

Vandenberg has been around for a number of years, I'm not really sure how they fit into the larger picture, they do get made unavailable when Vandenberg starts firing rockets though and I believe they are restricted to the state of California, but as with my previous posting I don't know where the rumor begins and the truth ends. I've worked with them about 1/2 dozen times, and they seem to be a good crew, they've got a set of rather distinctive 4x4 navy blue buggys which makes them quite visible in camp or at the drop point if they are on your division.

Don't forget BIA either, I've worked with Geronimo and Fort Apache on numerous occasions and was quite pleased when I got them when I was IC, I found them to be the least whiny about their assignment of any IHC I've worked with. I don't know of any other BIA Hotshots though.

Pack test
I find it interesting that the Canadian Court thinks aerobic capacity can not be increased, I thought that was why we ran, I'm going to have to print out that finding and use it as proof that the chief needs to buy us donuts instead of sending us to the gym, the gym is just his little way of torturing us, I always knew I shouldn't trust health fanatics. I'll admit there are a handful of people who have been displaced by the pack test that can still perform their job but I have never found the pack test that difficult and am in pretty sorry shape for firefighting, My line pack ran around 35-40 lbs as do many, I don't see how the argument that carrying a pack roughly the same weight as gear carried in the job over flat ground discriminates, the ground on fires is rarely flat and the equipment does not carry its self, should we have to mark employees with weight restrictions so I don't accidentally hand a bladderbag to a crew person that only passed the 35lb pack test? The old test was a joke, I have never been able to do the 11 1/2 minute run but have out hiked those who can, and the step test was a bad joke, the best score I ever saw was a 40 year old fat smoker who was always the tail end charlie on PTs and fires.

Model 62
There are 3 types of 62, the 62A, which looks like the older model 61, it is a regular cab and the crew sits in the front of the build up, the model 62B came out in the late 1990's and is a crew cab with bat wing hose covers and a hose reel on each side. The 62C came out in 2001, it looks similar to the 62B but only has one hose reel in the rear behind a roll up door and lower hose covers. Some others you may run across are the Model 42, 51, 60, and 61 although these are being phased out, there are very few model 51 and 60's still in use by the USFS. These are all R5 engines, the other regions have their own models.

Not the best shots on some of these for recognition but it will have to do.

Note that the cabs vary depending on which batch they came from, you will find the same models built on Fords, Internationals, GMC etc, also may be 2 or 4 wheel drive.

Model 42 - recognition factors, much smaller than the others, 3 person crew. Hose reel mounted top center. PTO pump.

Model 51 - recognition factors, crew cab, build up sits on a flat bed, unlike the 60 which is built onto the vehicle chassis. Gasoline powered pump mounted in the rear, not PTO.

Model 60 - crew cab, build up part of the frame, 2 hose reels (one each side), looks very similar to the 62B but is older and does not have the aluminium batwing hose covers on top.

Model 61 - regular cab, crew sits in the front of the box like build up, two hose reels (1 each side mounted lower than the model 62A.Rear crew area is smaller than the 62A and has 1 1/2" intakes.

Model 62A - regular cab, looks very similar to the 6 but the hose reels are mounted higher, the crew area is larger and it has a 2 1/2" intake.

Model 62B - crew cab, looks very much like the 60 but newer, large batwing aluminum hose covers, 2 hose reals, large square compartment doors instead of long rectangular doors. Rear compartment has a double door arrangement.

Model 62C - crew cab, looks similar to the 62B but only has one hose reel mounted in a roll up door at the rear, the aluminum hose covers are flat and lower, unlike the 62B's which rise up about 6-8".

Hope this helps.

01/25 another JW-

I find it somewhat humorous that anyone would find the pack test to be an unfair assesment of physical ability for wildland firefighting. I, and many of my colleagues, do not feel that it adequately represents how truly arduous this job can be. On a crew, engine or ship, the only physical requirement for being a member is passing the pack test (yeah, thanks OPM- jerks). The daily fitness program for a Hotshot crew is usually much harder than the test required to be there. Consequently, many people who think this job is for them pass the pack test, but cannot meet the same fitness level of the crew. Red flag here- NO ONE wants a crew member who cannot pull their own weight. A bad situation gets much worse when someone can't keep up...

Ideally, IHCs would be able to adopt the same fitness requirements as the jumper program, but that ain't gonna' happen- OPM won't let it happen. This job isn't for everyone. Period. Fire isn't easy, and getting a job shouldn't be either.


01/25 another JW,

I do not understand what all the uproar is over having to take and pass the pack/vest test. If you are in shape and stay that way then you will not have any trouble in passing it. I haven't done the recert yet this year, coming up next month. Last year I did it in 39 min 27 sec. But then I am only 66 years old. So quit whining and start working out. Say about 3 mi run 5 or 6 days a week, plus a little on the Wt Machines.

Old Man of the Dept
01/25 Just got word that Washington is calling up certain Hotshot Superintendents to set up national teams of 5 to possibly fly out this Monday to assist Australia. These teams would consist of various positions ranging from ICT3, Div. Supts, etc. Once in Australia, these teams would break out to cover small engines for hose lays and firing operations. I was called by my boss to be ready. Now itís hard to be excited for Super Bowl!! LOL

01/25 another J.W.

I am for the pack test, it is a very easy test to pass, and yes I'm short
and I still have no problem with it. The old test was too easy to pass,
just pop a couple of aspirins and you will pass no matter how out of
shape you are. If someone can not pass the pack test I don't want them
on my crew because if we are down in some hole and have to get out and
that person can't get out because they choose to be out of shape, they
put themselves, me and my crew in jeopardy. This job is not for
everyone and if you fight the pack test legally then you take away the
accountability that we have people who can hike up some steep ridge. It
is unforgiving out there for people who choose to be out of shape.

01/25 hey ab,

i was wondering if you or any one out there in the fire world would have pics of some model 62 engines. i am curious on what they look like, what is on them and so forth. i am possibly gonna transition from a helitack crew to a engine crew and that is what they are running. so curious if some one could post something with that. thanks

also be safe it is a new year, and things can change in a hurry!!!
heads up you all and god bless ya...


01/25 Tawney Meiorin, a female Forest Firefighter from Canada won her case in reference to physical testing (Work Capacity Testing). Supreme Court of Canada, September 09, 1999, file # 2674. This forest firefighter was fired from her job because of her inability to take and pass a "Newly Implemented" work capacity test. Does this sound familiar? She was able to pass the old test, but when the new test was introduced, she just couldn't pass it... well, she was ultimately fired.... but, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that since aerobic capacity CANNOT be built up, nor is it a factor in ACTUALLY AND SAFELY PERFORMING JOB DUTIES. The Supreme Court of Canada also ruled that what seemed to be a fair and equal test to all, was indeed the opposite. There are folks that all of us know, that are totally awesome to work with and they have perfect safety records. They also have Satisfactory to Excellent, Employee Evaluations. Yet, there is disparate treatment of individuals, blatant discrimination and even some hostile work environments created over the issue of the current physical testing that the BIA, DOI, NPS and the USFS uses. We all know someone who's in this situation... regardless of their reasons for inability to take and pass this test, if they were considered fit and safe prior to the implementation of the pack test, please turn 'em on to this court case.... I hear several Supervisory folks are interested in this case before they continue inflicting more abuse on their "whipping posts", the folks that've been unfairly mistreated, removed from positions, lost pay, mentally abused and harassed, as well as those threatened to have careers ended"... I'm checking to see if there have been any civil suits filed against the people who were in supervisory positions that encouraged and/or enforced these actions against this firefighter and if so... what the current status of the case/s are... ya' never know... she was re-instated to her job and monetarily compensated in full for time lost from her employer... Just thought I'd share this information with you folks out there...

another J.W.

01/24 A "mate" from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) in Victoria, Australia is
calling it "SHIT Saturday":"Send Help, It's Terrible"!!

And, a large majority of them Volunteers, doing "Portal-to-Portal" for free!

Dick Mangan
01/24 Fedfire-

I knew that I would get a response as soon as I sent it. I meant to say the only federal agencies that administered...IHC's were the USFS, BLM and NPS. The State of Alaska also has Shots. I've only been in fire for six years (all as a shot), but I've never worked with Vandenburg. Are they a new crew or are they one of California's RHC crews?

01/24 -blackliner

Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara, CA has a Hotshot Crew (Vandenberg Hotshots). I'm not sure if they are 0462 or 0081 I've heard rumors of both along with they are / are not paid portal to portal. Not sure what the truth is on those issues.

Also Kern County Fire Department has a Hot Shot crew (Rio Bravo Hot Shots I believe), they claim to be the only non federal hotshot crew and as far as I know they are. The overhead are full time Kern County firefighters and the bulk of the crew are temps paid at the same rate as the federal GS scale.


01/24 Chip-
The reasons or psychology behind the desire to fight fires is truly a nebulous pit. My personal reasons are rooted deeply within two major themes- commitment to public service and pure excitement. Sure other aspects are very important (i.e. camaraderie, travel, etc...), but I truly believe that I have something to offer the people of this country as a wildland firefighter. On those bad days when I miss my wife and my dog and home in general, it is the excitement and thrill of working (Yes, even mop-up, buts that's just because I get to go out snaggin'!) a fire that keeps me coming back.

One quick question-
Exactly which IHC is administered by the DOD? To my knowledge, IHC's are only in the USFS, BLM and NPS. Just curious.

01/24 Ab,

The "Just One More Time" thread started on 03/28/00 on "They Said". I
re-read the original writings I posted on that date, and those from
Firehorse and Pulaski and others that followed. Still makes we well up in
the eyes. I miss fire fighting, even after being retired almost three years
now. I stand my suggestion that you folks in fire treat each assignment as
if it were their last one. Take care of your friends and "live a little,
love a lot, and live each day as if it is your last."

Any current additions to "Just One More Time" would be appreciated.


Hi Hunter. Ditto on your sentiments. It is a sweet thread. Ab.
01/24 NMAirBear:

Glad to hear you have already submitted a nomination for Paul Gleason. I
agree that multiple nominations from different quarters will make success
much more likely. I will continue on with my effort and, as I previously
requested, any details you can provide for a quality nomination would be
greatly appreciated. Send it to the Abs who say they will gladly pass it
along. Would like to add my voice to your observation that "this is the
most deserving guy ever to hump a hill, train a troop, and keep folks safe
in our business."

Sign me,
Mike DeGrosky
01/24 I have to say, that for my money, Mr. or Ms. Nomad ( which ever is
correct) has hit the nail squarely on the head. I have felt my most alive
when as a group you have beaten the opposition either on the fire ground,
out on the fire line, or on the athletic field. I don't think Twain or
Hemingway could say it better. The closest I have read is the speech from
Shakespeare, "he who fights, and spills his blood with me today, is my
(sorry for the misquote of the bard, just going from memory, such as it is.)

Retired L.A.V.E.
01/24 CNN is showing all 3 of the kidnapped Americans in Columbia (including CDF firefighter Megan Smaker) as being freed on Friday morning.


Thanks Mollysboy, I'll let the CDFers know. Ab.
01/24 Here is another story form Oz. Even though its 60 years ago it has a lot of
similarities to today.



01/24 NICC has posted the Seasonal Wildland Fire Outlook at

01/24 From the firenews page under *Australia:
Canberra braces for horror weekend


01/24 Mike M. and all others who are Paul Gleason's friends:

I have already submitted a nomination for Paul Gleason for the Stihl award from several of us here locally in Carlsbad NM. After working through Stihl's nomination process, I must suggest similar action for those of us who feel strongly about Paul receiving this well-deserved award. We should do separate nominations from our separate and many quarters.

I will be attending my FMO conference next week and will be lobbying strongly for several more nominations. I urge all of you interested in honoring this wildland firefighting hero to do the same.

This is the most deserving guy ever to hump a hill, train a troop, and keep folks safe in our business. Let's make it happen!


Undoubtedly different people/groups know different aspects of Paul's life. For the details of the award and the nomination process click the banner at the top of theysaid. Ab.

01/23 2013: Chat anyone? Some are gathering. Ab.
01/23 Chip,

About a week and a half ago I was sitting around talking with people who had just seen The Lord of the Rings for the first time. One of them said aloud, "I wish you could do that in real life- Travel around and have adventures in crazy places with a group of people like that. You know, like a little family. It sucks that you can't actually do that." A big grin flashed across my face. Au contrair, I told them, this is doable, very doable. I went on to explain the whole fire business to them and how this happens every summer.

Ya see Chip, wildland fire fighting requires a lot of travel, typically. Especially if you are on a 20 person handcrew, or hotshot crew. You spend your summer crashing around the country, fighting fires wherever they pop up. You may wake up in some god forsaken part of the Nevada desert one day, then be on your way to Yellowstone the next. And this goes on for months. The only constant is the people. Now, when TheySaiders talk about feeling like they're in a family, they ain't kidding. Because for better or worse, you are stuck with the same group of people all season. You work long, draining shifts, you don't get enough sleep- you get excited together, you get bored together, you get pissed off together, and you get drunk together. So after a while, you have real sense of who these people are, of how they behave when the chips are down and when the chips are up. You develop an intuitive, gut sense of what motivates each individual. Whether you like 'em or not, you know 'em. Now, that is family, that is closeness.

And a consequence of that is a real sense of belonging to the group, of being part of something. But it's not just that you are part of something random- you gotta earn it. Real membership doesn't start until you've proven yourself, until you've gone out on a fire assignment and showed everybody what you're made of. I think that the feeling of exclusivity is a big part of why people like to hold their head so high in this profession. Not everyone can hack it on the fireline or on a hard PT. At some point, I think that deep down inside, everyone feels weak, feels like failure is just a footstep away. You feel maxed out and you don't know if you can keep going. But it's a silent struggle, one that you battle with in the solitude of your own mind, but you don't quit, you keep going. Why? Because no one else is stopping. The socializing force of not wanting to fall out is extremely powerful. And the beauty of it is that you do go farther, harder, and faster than you probably ever would on your own. At least that's how I feel.

So when you come back from a kickass fire assignment and you're dirty, smelly, tired, hungry, and sore- well, actually at that point you don't care, all you wanna do is eat and sleep, or maybe check up on the local population of females. But at some point later on, when it's over and you're rested and fed enough to think about such things, you feel alive inside. I think Mike 'n Terrie had it right about Adrenaline being that part that gets in your blood. You feel strong, you feel like you actually just did something that was challenging and worthwhile, and you had the fortune to share the experience with your little rag-tag, adventuring family. And on that day, you walk out of the bar holding your head up high, proud to be part of something so ballsy and genuine.

-The Nomad

Handcrew: www.wildlandfire.com/pics/hand5/shots.jpg
Engine Crew: www.wildlandfire.com/pics/eng3/orosco2.jpg

01/23 Dear Wild Land Fire Group,

Congratulation about your work, Iīd like invite all your team and friends
to write articles about Tips in Fire Combat - Air Tankers and Helicopters.
I Created the first site about Flight Safety in Portuguese (in Brasil)
named www.airsafetygroup.com.br. So it will a great pleasure to have your

I Stand by your answer.


Jefferson V. FRAGOSO
Performance and Flying Qualities Engineer
GEA/EPF - 012-3927-2336
01/23 An informal update from the CFA; tough couple of days ahead.....!

Dick Mangan

CFA = Country Fire Authority, Australia

01/23 My answer to Chip's question about motivation:

I am a lady firefighter and I 've done it for 4 seasons going on my 5th . What motivates me about doing what I do is the adrenaline (sure) but, theres alot more to it then that, I get fulfillment out of knowing I helped save someones house, or someones life, and helping to preserve the forests for future generations to enjoy.

hope to see you out there this coming season and be safe out there.


01/23 Tahoe Terrie,

You hit on another very good reason, Family!! I do not care if you fight wild land fires or building fires. I do not care if you work for a Paid fire Department, or you are a volunteer, you are a part of my family. A good example of this was on Sept. 9/11. I was at work with family when I heard that the tower came down, I never thought about the policeman, or the civilians. My thought was oh my god, I just lost a lot of brothers, and sisters. There was no question in my mind that said they were outside. when the tower came down. My family (all of) would be in the middle of the danger.

Be safe always

01/23 MEL -40 is the real deal this year. It seems every year about this time fire managers cry gloom and doom, then as the season unfolds $$ get funneled down to save the day. Well this year is going to be different. Not sure how many of you remember 1985, but (at least in R1) after the gloom and doom speeches the $$ never came down the pike! I can see that happening this year. We over spent the national fire budget last year folks (Big Time) and that wasn't suppose to happen since we hired a big workforce to keep fires small. I think the new administration is going to slap our hands over it by not giving the $$ to even cover the folks we hired under the NFP.

What's next? Out Sourcing?
Have a good day.
01/23 Nomad & Sezno"

Good history in the Classification issue.

FWFSA is seeking the assistance of our Congressional contacts regarding Classification. Congressman John Doolittle will be asked to "Direct OPM" to work on our classification issues. Basically, OPM is swamped with the Classification of all those Homeland Security Agency people. Unless a ranking member of Congress request OPM to give us time. We might just wait until the Agency, " Agriculture & Interior Heads" put together a National Fire Plan.

We know the issues of classification, retention and pay benefits will be included in this National Fire Plan. (Its called outsourcing - Contracting.)
FWFSA has been at the Classification talks, first on our legislation is the Portal to Portal, second is Hazard Pay calculated toward retirement. The 108th Congressional session does in fact present opportunity to resolve our classification issues. DOD Firefighters are just now getting their positions checked, not to be finished until 2004. Call me a Wildland Firefighter, Forestry Tech, Park Ranger or Range Tech. Pay me Portal to Portal alongside those City/Local/State getting the same. The agencies do not want to give up the work force as Firefighters. I think that OPM can come up with a classification. Accomplishment of Resource and Fire Management objectives in a Wildland fire series. The agencies will not change the system now.

Legislation or Congressional oversight is needed. Interesting "They Said" postings of the past, alot of people dont want to change their classification. They enjoy going to fires when they are needed. Yes.......... "They Said" is a great place to have discussions about the History of Wildland firefighters. Thanks for the posting.


01/23 Nomad
I know the frustration you all feel. I started out as a FS seasonal and have since become a 0081 firefighter. I was hired as a GS-0081-04 hotshot with benefits and an appointment, almost like a eighteen and eight. I eventually worked my way into a shift position but still get out for assignments with our helitack team and the crew. If it helps at all, a certain DOD hotshots crew which currently gets paid portal to portal is getting a rewrite on there OPM job description to include wildland firefighting. This will raise their pay and GS level to FS standards and beyond. If they can do it, maybe changing series for all federal wildlanders could solve the portal to portal issue, benefits, pay and better fit your job descriptions.

01/23 Sez Nomore,

The U.S. O.P.M. does have another job classification series which is a
primary Firefighter, (081). Many of the agencies you mentioned,
primarily the Defense dept. components Use this classification for there
firefighters, some may have a few forestry or range techs, but for the most
part all are 081 Firefighters. Wildland fire suppression is part of the
classification standard, as well other types of fire service functions.
Vandenberg AFB in CA has a Hot Shot crew which I believe are classified as
081 Firefighters, on a 80 Hr. pay period. A normal 081 Firefighter would
have a 144Hr. or 112 Hr. Pay period depending on their work schedule.

The NPS has 1 full time, full service Fire Dept which uses 081 Firefighters,
and those Firefighters are able to take fire assignments the same as other
red-carded personnel in their agency. The NPS has a few other 081 personnel
scattered around the country. (025) Park Rangers may perform full service
fire and EMS duties as well, depending on the park and their position
description. The (025) series has many categories and can be used for just
about any job i.e.. Park Ranger- Visitor Protection, Park Ranger
Interpretation, Park Ranger Fire and Resource management etc.

I work for the U.S. Army, and though I am an 081 Firefighter, probably 65-
70% of my duties are Wildland Fire related.

Hope this helps.
01/22 Hey All, I want to alert you to something.

Megan Smaker is a 22 year old seasonal firefighter with CDF (SCU).
She is one of the three people who are thought to be kidnapped in
Panama while on her 3 months off. Last year she spent her time off
working to find landmines in Afghanistan.

Here are some articles about the current situation.
SacBee Article: www.sacbee.com
CNN: www.cnn.com

Please keep her and the others in your prayers.


01/22 The person who murdered Jerry Levitoff in Januaary 2000 got life in prison without chance of parole. Jerry was the airtanker base manager at Chester and a fine guy with the big picture on the ground or in the air.


01/22 Hi all-

Just came across an interesting press release from January 15: "USDA
Forest Service to Train FDNY in Incident Command Management to Bolster
Homeland Security Efforts". Here's the link to the press release about the
Forest Service assisting FDNY with incident management team development:

Sounds like great news - good to see Forest Service leadership in this

Also - there is a big Newcastle's Disease outbreak in chicken populations
in CA & NV with serious economic impacts. Looks like the Forest Service
and some other folks are working on it also... there's links to state and
federal sites at: www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/fwx/operations/osc-archive/notes.phpl.

--ICS Addict
01/22 Another link for you Abs...

More Canberra fire pics http://canberrafires.xsnet.org/

01/22 Chip, Mike, Ab,

After my first summer of fighting fire to earn money for school, it got "in the blood" for me, too. I went back to school that fall, changed my major to natural resources and have continued on working with the Feds. There's something about working physically hard at something worthwhile, setting goals and attaining them even if the fire might cross the line later, feeling like you are "family" with your crew and others you work so hard with. Ab, I agree, there's nothing like feeling you're helping.

Yeah, adrenalin too, guess that's one way to put it, having to be alert and aware for hours and days on end and sometimes having to decide and act quickly because your life or your crews lives might depend on it. Walking the swordblade without falling off. There were times after that first summer when I thought I was addicted. Holy guacamole, it was a relief to find out that others felt the same way. Addicted together.

There was a Joseph Campbell quote I once heard that said something like every person is in search of the thing that makes them feel especially alive (or something like that). I wish I had written it down. If anyone knows it, please share.

What exactly motivates me? Hard to say, I can't imagine life without fire, really being alive without fire. More than a job, more than a career. More like a calling.

Tahoe Terrie

Chip, there was a thread on theysaid about a year and a half ago entitled "Just one more time". You could check the archives. Firefighters who were retiring wrote in with the things they would like to see or do or experience just one more time before they retired from fire. You see, often firefighters don't know exactly which fire season will be their last. Ab.

01/22 Ab,

This year the National Fire Plan Award was given to Matt Reidy (USFS-Oregon), George Chesley (USFS), Doug Ledgerwood, and Jeff Pendleton (USFS-Oregon) last week in New Orleans at the National Fire Plan meeting.

Here's some info on the award.

Four offices in Oregon, led by these four fire management officers,
blazed a unique path to meet their most efficient level, or MEL, target
for suppression resources by focusing first on local communities. They
each hired local contractors as part of their MEL organization to fill
staff positions on staff engines.

By using contractors, these forests not only ensured adequate fire
staffing, they added jobs to the local economy.

These fire management officers worked closely with their zone
contracting officers to identify specifications for the contracts and
the opportunity to use indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity
contracts. One of the greatest benefits of the contracts was that they
actually increased the capability of the forests as they responded to
initial attack, and they blended contract resources into daily work
assignments alongside agency personnel.


01/22 TC,

I was told MEL-40 by my DFMO the other day at our district fire shop
meeting. At the same meeting I was told National Shared Resources funded at
100%. That all I know, anyone else got the scoop?

01/22 Sezno,

My friend, you must be new, because TheySaiders have been bitching for years about that exact issue. Wildland fire fighters do not have a category of their own in the eyes of the Office of Personnel Management. It's been like that since the beginning as far as I can tell. And i can almost guarantee you that every federal wildland fire fighter that posts here-no matter how high in the ranks- is technically classified as a forestry or range technician. It's just the way it is.

In my speculation, I think that this grew out of the forestry practices of old where fire was a collateral duty that ALL federal land management employees had to participate in. The designation of fire fighter was an aside, one of the many land management duties required by the limits on resources available and a product of the simple fact that fire is a seasonal -rather than constant- occurrence. So to this day, you have wildland fire crews doing brush removal, trail work, and general maintenance, and vice versa. You won't find any city fire fighters in the same boat, I guarantee. In fact, you probably won't see any CDFers (CA State) taking on collateral duties either, except for maybe the con crews. It is what is know as the militia style of fire management within the federal land mgt agencies. The concept is a flexible, efficient way of managing resources, but it has thus far let its primary fire folks slip through the cracks in terms of the benefits that are due to recognized fire fighters by federal law, in particular the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1972 (says stuff about portal to portal pay, etc).

But good to see that you're catching on.
-The Nomad
01/22 AB,

Here's an addition to the acronym list:

WFLC - Wildland Fire Leadership Council

But even on their homepage the letters are mixed up:
"The Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WLFC) was established in April 2002 ...."

01/22 What motivates firefighters:

To the person that wants to know why we do it.
If you ask most fire fighters that question, most of them say that they do it to help others. I will say that is part of it, but it goes farther than that for me.

I started when I was 16 years old. I liked it, but didn't know why, and at times I had to witness some very ugly things, and over the many years have seen a lot more. That didn't stop me, I wanted more. You will hear people say that it gets in your blood, this is probably the most truth. I will explain later. Like I said I started when I was 16 with a structural Fire Department. Since that time I fought fires in the Navy, I was a paid fire fighter, a volunteer fire fighter in two very large fire departments (and some small ones) and now I am doing Wild Land Fire for the State of Montana.

That's a total of 30 plus years, and the one thing that I can say about all of it that keeps me doing it is
# 1- adrenalin rush, and
# 2 Taking on such a wild thing, and most of the time coming out on top.

If all fire fighters really look at it they will say that this is true for them too. The adrenalin is the blood connection.

Please be safe out there.

My eyes are opened every day.... how many Federal agencies are hiring folks
as "Wildland Firefighters" or... in the other general biological series to
perform duties as wildland firefighters? That is... "any" series from
0400-0499 that have any firefighting duties!!!

So far, I have heard and documented the following federal agencies who have
federal wildland firefighters but do not recognize them, either through
position, classification, or pay.

USDA Forest Service
USDI Bureau of Land Management
USDI Fish and Wildlife Service
USDI National Park Service
USDI Bureau of Indian Affairs
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Army
U.S. Marine Corps
U.S. Air Force
U.S. Navy
U.S. Coast Guard
Dept. of Veterans Affairs
F.E.M.A. (Thru agreements)

.... are there any more?????

Sezno More
01/21 Photos from Australia -- Canberra, the Snowy Mountains area, and of the Australian Parliament House:


Here are some pics of fire approaching homes at Canberra.

A series of the Parliament House at 1000, 1400 and 1500. This
is the equivalent of your Congressional Building. It's located in Canberra.

Also have had some pics sent thru to me by some in my Communications
Group who had the forward comms van in the Snowy Mountains area.

Once again it's heating up this weekend with 39 deg C (102 F) for Sat,
& 42 (106 F) for Sunday. You don't have to be nuts to do this job but
jeez it helps!!!!


Thanks OB. I put them on the Fire 16 photo page. Amazing how dark the sky got at the Parliament House by 3PM. What time of day were the other dark shots taken? Ab.

01/21 The Jobs, Series 462 and 455 pages are updated.
Some new jobs up.

Also some new Classifieds up.

Anybody need help or contacts on the Stihl Heroism Award nominations, give a holler. Apps can be found by clicking on the banner at the top of the page.

01/21 Backburnfs

Where are you getting your info on the MEL -40? Last we heard on our
forest we would be getting + or - 5% of last years budget......................

o1/21 My good friend Euan Ferguson, Chief Fire Officer of South Australia's Country Fire Service (CFS) in Adelaide, was quoted in this morning's Sydney Morning -Herald:

"I am simply not prepared to risk the lives of volunteer firefighters to save a home where the owner has failed to take even the most basic bushfire precautionary measures."

"Bushfires are a natural part of the Australian landscape, and if people want to live in the semi-urban areas then they have to be accountable for their own safety."

"They need to have done prevention work before a crisis occurs and not sit back, do nothing and expect the cavalry to come to the rescue at the last minute."

"People often die in bushfires because they panic at the last minute, throw the family photos in the car and speed off as flames are licking at the back door. That is too late to act rationally."

Talk about a real fire leader for the 21st century, either in Australia, the US, or many other parts of our world................!

Dick Mangan

01/21 Report from Australia, Victoria's Country Fire Authority:

Good morning all

It is 0310 and I have been robbed of my much needed beauty sleep.
Another 24 hour shift. We have just put together a pumper/tanker task
force for assets protection and a tanker strike team for immediate
deployment to the fires in the NE.

The fires have broken their containment lines and are currently
threatening the communities of Stanley, Eldarado, Yackandandah, Wodonga,
Barnawatha, Bright, Wandiligong, Freeburg, Smoko, Tawanga South, Mt
Beauty and Germantown areas. They are expecting another Canberra with
losses expected.

Residents in the area have been advised to be alert for spot fires
throughout the night and implement their bushfire plans. Residents have
also been advised to make the decision to stay or go.

Extreme fire behaviour has made direct attack on the fire impossible.
Fire crews are now concentrating on assets protection and constructing
control lines. Fire spread is very rapid (14 km/hr or 8.7 mi/hr) with the fire
producing its own weather. There is frequent active long range spotting
occurring making containment impossible.

The current weather forecast indicates hot weather in the low 30's (86F+) until
Thursday before heating up to 38 (100F) on Friday and 40 (104F) on Saturday.
There are no indications of rain or lightning activity during this period.
And guess who is duty this weekend. ME.

Must go though.

Remember Fire Fighters watch out when they are unfamiliar with weather
and local fire behaviour.

CFA Fire Officer

Good sense of humor in spite of the tough times. Be Safe. Ab.

01/21 Hello,

My name is Chip Evans and I am a student at Baker College in Auburn Hills, MI. For my
organizational psychology class, I need to find an interview by a firefighter on what motivates
them in their workplace. While I was searching, I came across your Web site and was wondering
if you knew where I might be able to find such an interview, or if you would be able to answer
a couple questions. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


Chip, I can't speak for others, but a large part of what motivates me is that I feel I'm contributing - that I'm doing something of service that is unique and, at times, profound. Wildland firefighting community, what say you? Ab.
01/21 Ab,

Here's another photo of a 212 making a drop on the Sadler fire, ELKO BLM, Nevada 1999. The spots on the photo are bits of crud kicked up from the drop. The helo passed very close to my position on the hill top and blew a lot of stuff into the air.


Put it on Helicopters 9. Ab.

01/21 Ab,

Very nice website! Here is a few additional photos for your site. I hope you like them and will use them on your site.

Al Hymers

Thanks Al for the Superscooper and Martin Mars photos. That you in the Scooper cockpit? I put them on the Airtankers 6 photo page. Readers, if you want a few more details, go to the photo description page. For those interested, there are more photos of these two ships on the Airtankers 2 photo page. Ab.

01/20 Hey Ab's, everyone is freaking out/flipping out about "Where all the NFP $ went."

MEL(-40) Welcome to reality folks, what did you actually think the gravy train would last? The prudent fire managers out there knew the well would dry up, and planned accordingly. They didn't go out and fill all the new positions that they might have under the "full funding" scenario. Many chose to hire contractors to fill the suppression positions during the summer rather than hiring a bunch of new PSE's that would have to have their tours reduced or get RIFFED. Now we have many engines sitting idle but still costing F.O.R. We have TEMP employees that had a job for a couple of seasons that are not getting rehired this season.

One good thing, I guess, a lot of engines will be running with all PSE crews. Something a lot of folks have wished for a long time. (Be careful what you wish for.)

Look back in the archives and I bet some people predicted this, maybe because they have been around long enough to have seen this before.

I don't have all the answers, just hoping that we learn and next time the $$ flows we don't over build the organization.


It would be a different world if Sept 11 had not happened. Ab.

01/20 Andy,

I ditto Stu. You've got the cart before the horse. Before you go to much further, check out the contracting primer in the FAQ section. It's not going to be easy to find a QUALIFIED engine boss. You'll learn fast enough that there is more to successful fire contracting than having an engine in your driveway and waiting for the phone to ring.

Word on the street is that everyone from your Aunt Bessie to your old high school English teacher have bought a wildland engine to contract with....Especially in Region 6. Could be a very interesting summer for dispatchers and contract officers. They may need bodyguards before this is all over...

Good luck with your new endeavor.
Snake River Sparky

01/20 Andy,

Finding quality crew and keeping them is the harder part of running an engine operation. Pay will range greatly from company to company, we pay 180-250 a day per person in wages + expenses. dont forget uncle sam. You need to get licensed in your state, get a DOT number for interstate business. Tax identification Number. You're going to have to get set up with the regions on the EERA (emergency equipment rental agreement) this isnt a guarantee of work, just an agreement to work your engine that the gov has already inspected for an agreed upon price.

If you're in R6 - good luck, there are already over 600 pieces of apparatus available. Being a single engine company will be difficult. True there will be less employment hassles, less paperwork and worries, but you are trying to run a business. If your engine is not equipped with loose inventory - nozzles, nomex, hand tools, etc. It will cost just shy of 8,500.00 for the minimum engine inventory. Ab can give you my email address if you need more info (abs are good about that ;)

Good luck - read snake river sparkys letter on the FAQs page. he is a professional writer and makes it much more clearer than i can.


01/20 Andy,

Sounds to me like you "bought the cart before the horse." Have
you tried contacting a local forest contracting office? Are you
planning on being an active part of the engine operation or are
you planning on "just sitting back and let the money roll in"?

01/20 Ab:

I wanted to thank all of the folks on the Battle Mountain BLM District for all of their assistance during the last fire season. I had a nice stay up in hell.

Everyone needs to look ahead for this season, it may be time for some folks to start looking for other opportunities on other districts, developing associated skills and abilities.

Rumor control says no more 7 day staffing, just 3 persons five days per week. The new engine will go to Austin station since BAM got that engine last year, which is a type 3 and the new rig is a type-4. Engine ENVY?.
Where did the NFP $$$$$$ all go.

Some folks will have to work less ( pay periods ) since some one wants to buy TOYS which will cut into the budget, lifes tough to be PFT. Yup Yup, which truck will I buy and where will I go fishing on my A leave this weekend.

Heads up this season its warming up and drying out even January looks like fire weather. PS Hey DUDE; Get that TFM paper done, then we''ll go fishing,

TTFN .b-Weasle
01/19 Abs & Dick,

Unfortunately that's not the end of it. Dick, the Mt Stromlo Observatory
where you gave your speech on firefighter safety a few years ago has now
been destroyed. Pat "Grumpy" Barling who helped facilitate your attendance
lost his car which was at their station, and their station has been
destroyed. The ACT Fire Service has 12 career stations, the ACT Bush Fire
Council has 6 volunteer brigades. Basically they were overwhelmed, even
with assistance coming from NSW. On top of the details in the link from
Concerned Citizen, they have lost 4 firefighting appliances. Tomorrow
(Tuesday) is looking like being very pear shaped with the weather outdoing
Dick's posting of Sunday's (yesterday) weather. We'd had some nice pleasant
weather over the past weeks. Methinks Mother Nature was being a bitch.

cheers all

Yesterday for you is still today for us. Be safe. Ab.
01/19 Ab ,

I was going through last year's contract and came across "requirement",
for 2003, s-230 Crew Boss Training will be required of all ENGBs, page
3. Contractors, contract.


01/19 Aussie Fires

Just received several Emails from friends in the Victoria and Tasmania fire services in Australia: the Sunday afternoon temps in Adelaide (South Australia) were 113F (45C), and Monday's fire weather in Victoria (Melbourne area), New South Wales (Sydney and surrounding area) and Tasmania is forecasted as "extreme".

The Volunteers are getting run ragged, and all for no pay, too!
Dick Mangan

01/19 I have recently purchased an engine. I am going to hire a crew, and I am wondering how readily available ENGBs are or for the rest of the crew for that matter. I am curious of the rates of pay, and other information relating to engines and their crews.

Thank You
01/19 Could this be the future of the Lake Tahoe area with all the beetle killed trees?


Concerned Citizen

01/19 Here is the press release page at the New South Wales Rural Fire Service site. The link to this site can be found on our Links page along with other Aussie sites. Download for the NSW page is slow depending on the time. Australia is 23 hours ahead of our PST so it is evening there now.

More news updates also on the Fire News page.
Our thoughts are with you Aussies.
01/18 Ab,
Well things have gone down the Ö.

Fire had been burning for up to 10 days previously but Sat the dragon let loose.

Canberra (in the Australian Capitol Territory) the nationís capitol is in real trouble, 2 people dead, 3 critically burnt and over 150 treated for smoke inhalation. Some 380 plus houses burnt down yesterday due to very hot temperatures, low humidity and high winds. Interstate crews arrived in Fri and Sat but were totally overwhelmed.

Very large fire are burning in the rugged forest areas in the Snowy Mountains (NSW) and all the way down into Victoria.

No real let up on the weather expected for the next week.

More later. Regards
Aussie CFU

Check out the Australia Fires category on the News page for many articles on the fires. You Aussies, Be SAFE. Ab.

01/18 Number of assignments

I basically agree with you but have a few points, Consider how often engine crews turn into handcrews on IA and how many times we are often called upon to perform assignments we are not "qualified" for so when we finally get that training assignment it is hardly our first exposure to the task, just the first time we have been allowed to get credit in our task book.

I agree it is unlikely that someone would get their initial single resource task book signed off in one assignment and not every assignment is going to offer enough exposure for even experienced people to get signed off in one time out. But sometimes the combination of prior experience and the quality of the assignment make that possible.

I have seen this requirement for two assignments pulled out on several occasions when a task book was completed and most have been less than concern for the quality of the job done, it is applied in an uneven fashion and not tied to experience or assignment quality. I saw highly experienced people with good 14-21 day assignments forced to take another assignment and other less experienced people who worked a shift of mop up allowed to pass with only one assignment. It was managements way of rewarding their buddies and keeping others out of the system.

In summery my complaint is not with the actual requirements as to pre reqs or a minimum number of assignments, I'm fine with either. My problem is with the people who don't follow the standards as written. If management wants CRWB to be a preq for all other Single resource bosses and a minimum number of assignments then do it, but come up with a standard and stick with it. In my experience these extra little requirements generally are management tools to control people.

When I was going for my ICT4 the FMO sat me down after a few assignments and had a little chat with me on issues unrelated to my job performance (I always received fully successful) or on my performance as an ICT4, then he went over my Taskbook and all but said if my attitude towards some issues we had differences on changed I'd get my taskbook signed off next time out, if not no task book. That is an unacceptable twisting of the taskbook system to me.



Wow, this whole topic about crew boss and engine boss has really seemed to fire some people up. Since I brought up the original question, let me clarify the reasons, so people dont get to concerned.

This whole topic was brought up on some of my own misunderstanding. Being from a municipal fire department that doesnt have any wildland, but goes out for the state, there was some confusion. We would more than likely never go out with a hand crew, only on engines. I had been working on my own task book for both, and was finding it difficult to get out more on a hand crew, even though I have been able to at times. So, I merely posed my question without referencing the NWCG. My bad! Where I work, it SEEMED to be you had to get your CRWB before, or during your ENGB quals. We meet ALL required training, and most definitely require MANY fires to gain experience. That hasnt been a problem. So, this was merely a lack of knowledge. There is no lack of training at all, in fact, that is highly stressed, and experience is a must before being signed off on any task book.

Thanks for all those who helped with the question, and I am GLAD to see everyone is concerned about making sure everyone gets the training and experience it takes to be qualified in a position.

Later on!

01/18 I know this may sound stupid, however I have a bet with a friend on this. Is having a Valid driver license a mandatory requirement for being an engine boss? And if not, shouldnt it be? Thanks.


01/18 Here is the latest on the murder of my best friend Jerry Levitoff who was the Air Base Manager in Chester Ca, Lassen N.F. I was at the scene when Jerry was found. The most heart breaking day of my life..

Killer was sane, Plumas jury rules

By Jane Braxton Little -- Bee Correspondent
Published 2:15 a.m. PST Friday, January 17, 2003

QUINCY -- A Plumas Superior Court jury found that Raindancer Dickey-O'Brien was sane on Jan. 20, 2000, when he murdered and robbed Mark G. "Jerry" Levitoff, a 26-year employee of the U.S. Forest Service.

The jury's verdict, reached Thursday after more than nine hours of deliberation over three days, commits Dickey-O'Brien, 24, to life in state prison without the possibility of parole. (etc)

Jerry and I spent many hours sitting in court rooms back in the late 80's and early 90's fighting for "fair and equal treatment" for ALL Forest Service employees. The court battle went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where that court denied the case a hearing. Our battle did make change during its 12 year run. A lot of people were helped.

If you knew Jerry now is your chance to insure the the Judge hears (through the Plumas County Probation Dept.) what You knew of Jerry and how important he was as an employee and friend. This will help in the sentencing of his murderer (where the killer goes to spend his life, and what kind of treatment he will receive!) Sentencing is set for Feb. 13, 2003. You can provide input by calling the Plumas County Probation Dept. at 530-283-6200, ask for Dennis Jule. This is our last action that we can do for Jerry!

Thank You,
Bob Grate


Coming in a little late on this one. If you read the TB for the Single Resource Boss's you will see that the instructions direct that the training position be circled on the front of the TB. So a person who is in training for ENGB would have that position circled on the book, accomplish the first 45 common tasks and the additional tasks for ENGB to be considered for the ENGB rating. The Red Card committee would look at the evaluations and use personal/local knowledge before granting the rating or requiring additional assignments.

Just because a person has completed the TB/test, (remember the TB is a TEST that you are allowed to take after all required training and OJT is completed, and you have up to 3 years to complete) does not automatically mean a person is qualified for a position, to many human factors to consider, that is why there is a committee.

One of the greatest wrongs in performance based training is that a person is given a TB as soon as she or he is selected for a new rating. The rules say that the TB is not to be issued until all the required training is completed. This includes OJT, just because a person does not have a TB does not mean they cannot work in the position as a trainee. Also, one more item that is lacking in the system is documentation of OJT. Sure you can use the fire evaluation, but how many trainers document training? If you are on a fire in a training mode, insist that your trainer document what was accomplished and what is needed. Keep your copy of the evaluation and when it comes time for the committee to meet you can present the evaluations as proof of your progress.

Some states and training areas have come up with a simple plan to document training. The TB person puts a sticker on the top of each page of the taskbook that splits the two column into OJT/training documentation and the right hand column for PPA (position performance assignment). This system is much better than relying on firemen evals to document and track training. Everything is one place and the evaluators can see when and where training was accomplished and when the PPA was done. This idea was presented to the God committee (NWCG) and in their infinite wisdom, it was rejected, most likely cause they did not think of it!

Now getting back to the original question, if a person is rated ENGB and wants to become a CRWB does he/she need to reaccomplish the first 45 tasks in the TB??


01/18 Hate to be the one that bursts anyone's bubble, but NO ONE should be single resource qualled after just one training assignment! Does the Thirty Mile Incident ring any bells? Come on people! We are always going on about how experience is so critical to leadership- is that just to keep OSHA happy? Are we really just more concerned with getting our qualls than being able to do the job?

I remember this question going around after the first ASAP mass hiring, and it looks as if it is still an issue...

01/18 Firehorse, RE: ENGB prerequisites.

Now I know the whole world loves to hammer R5....but R5 follows the 5109.17 as the rest of the regions are supposed to. I have cut and pasted the ENGB Position Qualification from the 5109.17 here.

25.12 - Exhibit 01--Continued

Operations Position Qualifications

I-200 Basic Incident Command System
S-215 Fire Operations In The Urban Interface
S-230 Crew Boss
S-234 Ignition Operations
S-260 Interagency Incident Business Management
S-270 Basic Air Operations
S-290 Intermediate Fire Behavior

       LEVEL 2 S-231 Engine Boss or Geographic Area Engine Academy

Advanced Firefighter/Squad Boss
Satisfactory position performance as a Single Resource Boss Engine on a wildland or prescribed fire incident



       Single Resource Boss (Crew, Dozer, Felling, Firing, Tractor/Plow)

Incident Commander Type 4

As you see, Single Resource Boss (Crew) is NOT a requirement for ENGB.
As for marching to the beat of a different drummer, how correct you are! That is what makes R5!!!!!
I would suggest that folks become familiar with the manual as
Big Smooth suggested........


01/18 Hello,

I found a web site that has some great shots of the Curve Fire in CA,
Sept. 1. It is from the Mt. Wilson Solar Observatory.

It shows how fast this plume grew.

have a good one

East Hesperia / Deep Creek
Weather Observation Sta.

01/18 To eric PW

Do you have any more pics. of the new engine? and on my forest just got two new engines from Pierce they are 4x4's I'll try to get some pictures taken.


He sent in another one but I didn't have time. Ab.
01/17 Hey Ab!

I'm not real "They Said" savvy, so I don't know if this appropriate for
posting or not, but I'm not really a "chat room" kinda guy. Now that
there's an alternate idea, I feel kind of bad, since I think Paul
Chamberlain is a top-notch guy as well. However, given the circumstances
I'm nominating Paul Gleason. Yep, actually have some background
information and I'm going to fill out the nomination form and
everything. If anyone wants to help (have a suggestion on what to include
or other good input) I'd welcome the help. Maybe NMAirbear, 6 or DF have

Sign me,
Mike DeGrosky

Mike, it's not like theysaid is going to nominate only one person. There's room for all. We'd be happy to pass emails behind the scenes for any nomination. Only thing is, if anyone has good stories, we want to hear them, especially if they're a little embarrassing. HAW Can't let this idea of HERO go to anybody's head! Ab.

01/17 Ab--

This is just a reminder to anyone interested in fire jobs for the upcoming season that Redwood National Park is advertising for many seasonal fire positions in various parks in Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California. There are positions open on the Engine and Fuels crews at Point Reyes, Joshua Tree, Crater Lake, Channel Islands, North Cascades, Whiskeytown, Lava Beds, Lassen Volcanic, Great Basin, Santa Monica Mountains, Redwood, Sequoia-Kings Canyon and Yosemite. The announcement (REDW 02-39T) is on USAJOBS and has been revised recently to include Helitack positions (GS-4 and GS-5) and GS-2 Fuels positions at Yosemite. Applications must be postmarked by Feb. 7th. Any questions can be directed to the Personnel Office at 707-464-6101, extensions 5021, 5022 or 5023. This is our first attempt at organizing a multi-park fire announcement out here and we're hoping for a great response. Stay safe and we'll see you out there!


I'll post this on the jobs page as well. Hmmmmm, still have that to update jobs and the series this evening before happy hour and chat... Ab.

01/17 Stihl Award

There is a gentleman, and former hard landing pounder who went from the
green to the fur and feathers. He has been advocating an Up The Ante guide
for safe SNAG and tree falling - especially in the wildland fire

Speaking for the five or six employees that were killed by falling trees
last year, I nominate Paul Chamberlin. Many of you won't know him but those
that do, and learn to fall timber with him - never forget what he teaches
to keep you safe. My LCES is off to Gleason too. There are many heros out
there. Come home safe.


Yeah, but Ghostload, ya got ta'do the paperwork for it! Talk is ch'eep. Ab.

01/17 Here are a few more pictures I got around to scanning

212 making a drop near Churchdome during the Manter fire, Sequoia NF, 2000

Dido Fire, ELKO BLM, Nevada 1999, not sure if it will show up but on my original you can see a firefighter silhouetted by the fire.

212 making a drop on the Sadler fire, ELKO BLM, Nevada 1999 (Ab is posting this later.)

Column from the Hyampom fire, Shasta Trinity NF, 2001

Martin Mars filling up from Lake Isabella, 2000 (I think this is the other end from the fire of the photos of the mars making drops, King Soloman fire IIRC)

Siller Skycrane making a drop on the Los Padres NF, 2000.


Photos, alright. We put them on Helicopters 9, Fire 16, and Airtankers 6 photo pages. Ab.

01/17 AB, heres a pic of our newest engines from S&S apparatus. 2003 international

eric PW

Thanks Eric. We put it on the Engines 5 photo page. Also thanks to SNS who sent in a logo for their crew, the Dalton hotshots, on Logos 8. Ab.
01/17 The post about being required to be CRWB before getting ENGB alarmed me as I have been an ENGB for years and have never commanded a hand crew on a wildfire. So I pulled out the latest edition PMS 310-1 (www.nwcg.gov/pms/docs/310-1new.pdf). Page 33 under ENGB it lists the crewboss (S-230) and S-290 as required COURSES, and that you must have satisfactory performed the position of Advanced Firefighter/Squad Boss, but not that you have to be CRWB.

I think these guys that have required the CRWB before allowing ENGB training have been misreading the NWCG 310-1, or making up the requirements on their own. Next time someone tries to run that one against you, take in your copy of the 310-1 for ammunition.


01/17 Fed Fire and AZ firefighter

According to both 310-01 and 5109-17, you dont have to be a crwb to be an engine boss. You just need to complete the generic section while being on an engine instead of a crew. Also remember the person signing off your task book has it within their discretion to require additional assignment if they feel it is needed. They will or should be held accountable for their decision to qualify you.

Big Smooth

01/17 Just read Fedfire's post about his experiences getting his ENG. card punched. Prior to my retirement in R-6 we never required an ENGD or any of the other single resource bosses to be a qualified CREW! Not sure what R-5's problem was with that. You folks in R-5, please don't take this wrong, but R-5 has a tendency to march to the beat of a different drummer. The rank and file folks just wanted to fight fires and have fun, while the management seemed to try to complicate things and stir up mud with other regions.

I knew alot of ENGB's in R-6 that were not CREW qualified and were excellent ENGB's!

For some reason there is a certain element out there that wants to hold people back, and one of those ways is to not recognize quals from other regions. Saw this in R-6 also. For those of you that are victims of this type of behavior, remember it when you get into management positions. Don't repeat the process.

How about putting Congress on 1039 appointments? They would make too much money as contractors.


01/17 To everyone-

FWFSA has been updated.


Thanks, ANF. Ab.

01/17 Chat tonight, 1900 PST or earlier if you east coasters want to show up. For all the "chatter" that's not fit to print. Ab.
01/17 AZ Firefighter,

I went through a similar problem, I finished my ENGB and ICT4 Task Books in AZ and spent 2 years as an Engine Foreman there, I then accepted a GS7 Engineers position in R5 and was not allowed to do my job initially, (only drive not supervise the crew) as I was told that I needed CRWB, I played along initially as I was told I would be given priority on CRWB training assignments (I'm not going to complain about getting priority for another qual). I completed one assignment and was signed off but then told there was a minimum of two assignments required to get the Task book signed off, in the entire 2000 fire season I was not offered another training assignment and there were plenty more out there before the season ended. The next season I had done some research and no one could produce the documentation with this supposed prerequisite or the minimum of two assignments, when another individual with identical quals (ENGB, ICT4 but no CRWB) was put on my engine in the Captains absence I challenged this and was told that my R3 quals were not acceptable in R5. That is when I took the matter to an informal grievance, luckily the GS8 Captain I was working for supported me and had experience (He had actually been pressuring me to push the issue earlier but I was trying to be a team player). As the forest had no leg left to stand on they relented and allowed me to begin doing the job I had been hired to do. Prior to this I had received several letters of appreciation and positive crew evaluations for my performance on fires, and I continued to receive fully successful evaluations afterwards although some of the management continued to maintain an attitude towards me which was one of several factors that caused me to leave the USFS, a job I truely enjoyed until some individuals made me want to call in sick everyday, when I was offered a job by an employer that had actively recruited me and included a pay increase that was enough for me.

I know in my case it was a matter of favoritism to locals, crew snobs and Regionalism, something that really burned me up was that ICT4 was automatically signed off with CRWB and ENGB was a matter of going to a fire with an engine crew for the crew bosses. I actually had to earn my ICT4 and ENGB. I even had my STEN Task book taken away since it was claimed I wasn't qualified to be a trainee.

When you are told that ENGB is required make them show it to you in writing, in my case it was a widely held belief but that requirement could not be found in any written form. It is not in the 310-1 or the Forest Service version (I don't recall the number). Also CRWB does not require a 20 person crew, smaller crews are acceptable, the size of the crew is another myth I have run across, I had actually been running a 10 person crew in AZ for a time but was told that could not be used to sign off my task book. I have found in many localities engines are the red headed step children when compared to crews, helitack and the smokejumpers.

Good luck and don't back off until you are satisfied they are following the rules, some people don't like it when the facts don't reflect their beliefs.

Ab, didn't know the quals of the auditor, my fault for assuming. I still say the majority of these articles are only useful as TP, even with some less than efficient use of fire money, a seasons budget is just a drop in the bucket to what the rest of the government wastes. Any chance of contracting out congress?


Now that's a novel thought, contracting out Congress. Ab.

01/16 I, too, second the nomination of Paul Gleason for the Stihl National Forestry
Heroism award and thank DF for coming up with the idea.

A more sincere, experienced, knowledgeable, and likeable guy has not come up
through our ranks lately. For training alone of so many of our newer folks
Paul deserves this award. And let's not forget he is so good a friend to so
many of us for so long.

And let's not forget Paul in our thoughts and prayers right now.

NM Airbear
01/16 Re CRWB/ENGB:

Thanks everyone for the information. This is something I will bring up, and
see where the state stands.


01/16 Anyone know where I can find some wildland firefighting clip art? There's
all kinds of structure stuff out there. I'm looking for pulaskis, hardhats,
whatever. We're trying to come up with a new crew logo and I need some

01/16 The alleged 'sexual harassment'

I want to congratulate the regional forester for standing up to the
hysteria-driven media manipulated politically correct witchhunt. I
certainly am glad R5's personnel policies are not being dictated by a
disgruntled ex-employee <snip>. The
now famous LP harassers could have just been burned at the stake.

I now see being a vertebrate is not a prerequisite for <snip>.

Gordon Neiner

Professional behavior is important. I hope we can all move on from here. Ab.

01/16 AZ

CRWB and ENGB are parallel positions already. There is no need to work on a hand crew to be an engine boss.
check out page 31 of 310-1 currently you need
s-130 / 190
Plus the requisite experience. Maybe your office, or agency has more requirements but those are the bare bones
NWCG requirements.


The links to the 310-1 and the FSH 5109.17 are available on the Links page under training/education. Ab.

01/16 AZfirefighter,

Don't know where you got you information on having to be CRWB qualified
before you could become ENGB. PMS 310-1 doesnt require it. PMS 310-1 can
be found at http://www.nwcg.gov. Agency policy might be different from

Here the requirements to be ENGB taken from PMS 310-1:

Required Training: S-230 Crew Boss, S-290-Intermediate Wildland Fire

Additional Suggested Training: I-200 Basic ICS, S-231 Engine Boss, S-234
Ignition Operations, S-260 Interagency Incident Business Management, and
S-270 Basic Air Operations.

Prerequisite Experience: Satisfactory performance as a FFT1 and
Satisfactory performance as an ENGB on a wildland or prescribed fire

Other position assignments that will maintain currency: CRWB, DOZB, FIRB,

Hope this helps
01/16 AZfirefighter,

NWCG 310-1 standards apply (as a "minimum") to all participating agencies.
Each agency may establish additional requirements for positions. The
Forest Service lists its requirements in FSH 5109.17 (link available on the
wildlandfire.com Links page).......ie FS employees must meet the standards in this
handbook to get qualified. This is an excellent source for FS employees. BLM,
states etc each have their own requirements......but all use the 310-1 as a
"minimum" (link also on links page).

Old Fire Guy
01/16 Has there ever been any talk of changing to qualification system to be able
to become an engine boss without being a ("hand") Crew Boss first??

In AZ, there is a serious problem getting to an ENGB level, since you have to be
CRWB first, and that is hard to accomplish. The local/state agencies cant
get out on fires because they dont have CRWB/ENGB, but you cant get qualified
unless you go out. Seems like there needs to be a change, or different way
of getting to ENGB, especially if you are almost strictly going to be going
out on engines. Why not make it a separate position, parallel to CRWB??
Anyone have thoughts or ideas on this???


01/16 My enthusiastic vote for Paul Gleason to receive whatever recognition he
can (including the Stihl heroism award) for his many tremendous
contributions! Hopefully Stihl would agree that a lifetime of achievement
is as good as someone who recently committed an act of bravery. Also agree
that NOW is the time for Paul to be recognized. Hopefully someone (who
is familiar enough with Paul's details) will step-up to fill out the application.

Ab, I'll help if you know of someone working on this. People
in the "They Said" bunch who agree may want to start lobbying Stihl.

Sign me,
Mike DeGrosky

01/16 I second the motion for Paul Gleason to get the Stihl National Forestry Hero Award. He was also instrumental in developing safety standards in tree felling. And I think that now is the time for him to get that award.

01/16 Fedfire,

I, being a contractor employee, see your point on the costs issues. Personally I would be willing to pay in a portion of my paycheck into a fund (PSOB) to have benefits. I would have no problem doing so, however, would the same issue come up, contractors being within PSOB, regardless if we are paying for it or not?

I think that it would still cause a stink within the fed system. As it is now. People just basically dont want any part of contractors in their system. They want a big fat line drawn between them. You can see it pretty much anywhere you look, and yes, even on fires (sometimes). It all goes back to fed vrs contractor . Personally I dont care. In my heart I know that we are all the same and by no means am I dogging on the forest service. I have a lot of friends in it. And I know that the door swings both ways.


01/16 The PSOB, insurance, taking care of family, no apples and oranges, and streamlining fire financing thread.

Some good points you made Fedfire. However, I think contractors paying into PSOB would also muddy the financial water. If the object is to get ALL finances streamlined and clear, it seems there should be another system that is the equivalent of PSOB to fill that need for contractors. Contractors could pay into that as you describe. I believe that fire is made up of many parts and we need all types of resources to do the job.

Re: the Stihl National Forestry Heroism Award.

DF, I agree we do need to find the right person to put in the nomination for Paul Gleason for the Hero Award. Maybe we should just start here telling his stories and accomplishments and they can get folded into the app. There are some good ones. Definitely outstanding. Definitely deserving.

Tahoe Terrie

01/15 I can't think of a better candidate for the Stihl National Forestry Hero
Award than Paul Gleason. If you don't know his name, think of LCES. Paul is
the one who came up with those four letters that we live by.

I don't have all the pertinent information to even begin to fill out the
nomination form maybe someone who does could post a filled out form, and
any of us who wanted, could tag on our information.

I know that Paul never thought of himself as a hero but that is one of the
things that makes him one.

01/15 Christopher R; Capt.

Near to Minnesota check:
fair amount of training listed on their page. Not only Minnesota, but some others.
Still looking for Indiana's list.

01/15 To bring this subject up again for those who are really interested in knowing what dispatchers
are going through learning and inputting ROSS data. A really great power point presentation see

For the person looking for a airtanker mixing job.
on www.usajobs.ops.gov McCall. ID is filing an Airtanker Base Tech R4-045-PAYE-03D

Take Care
Great job with this page,

We appreciate the info. Ab.

01/15 Christopher R; Capt.

I work out at Vandenberg and we hold a wildland academy every spring. If you can TDY out this way, you could probably get some basic classes taken care of. Also we have a regional training center that holds higher level courses every winter, things like air operations, firing methods, suppression tactics.

If your chief is cool enough, we have qualified instructors who maybe could travel and teach your department some of the basic courses. Well, give me a call if you're interested, and I could steer you to the right people.

Vandenberg Fire Dept.

01/15 Ab,

Just a suggestion about a possible addition to the website. A page that could be titled "Events" or something similar could be created with dates and information and/or links to information about events that readers write in about. Things such as the Midwest Wildfire Academy class dates and other events like a wildland fire special on TV or other seminar dates could be posted there so you wouldn't have to search through the They Said archives to find that information. Thanks for the great site.


Sounds like a good idea. Would people go look? Ab.

01/15 Happy Retirement Jim Paxon! You just can't stay away, can you? Glad to see that.

Paxon urges better forest management

Firescribe, one of them anyway...

01/15 Good Morning All,

This is a note on behalf of our sponsors and advertisers who help pay the bills here at wildlandfire.com. We want to say thanks, especially to Jim and the gang at The Supply Cache who continue to sponsor the Links page, and welcome to Stihl who is sponsoring our Theysaid forum at the top of this page for the next month. Please take a moment if you need gear, books or services to check out the Classifieds page, as well. There are a few new links there.

A word or two about Stihl's Forestry Heroism Award and who you might nominate: Most of us do not want to be considered heroes or heroines, even when we do something outstanding beyond the call of what we consider our regular "service" or our "job". However, we all know that there are people in the wildland fire community who do "stand taller than the rest" who, as Stihl puts it, have "exhibited an act or acts of bravery, valor and morality in putting the welfare of others ahead of personal risks or gains". We feel that these people -- who, on a scale of one to five chainsaws, are a five -- should have a chance to be honored.

Stihl describes those who are eligible as follows:
"Any person who works with, in or devotes a significant portion of their time to the nation's forests may enter or be entered by others. Candidates for the award can include: Firefighters, Loggers, Forest Rangers, and Volunteers."

Please click on the Stihl banner. Read their whole story and find out how to nominate a candidate. Then take a few moments and think of a person you know who deserves nomination.

Some of you may know of incidents and people from the last fire season, but may not know how to find them to collect the pertinent information for the nomination. If that is the case, please write in here and we'll try to help track them down. If you can't think of anyone to nominate, spread the word in your workplace.

Get those nominations in. They close in a month.


01/15 I have no desire to start a contractors vs feds war, but I must say Ramble makes a good point.

I never thought of it this way before but PSOB is part of the cost of the government workforce. Giving this away to non government employees is similar to having the government pay for contract employee health plans or retirement. I won't go so far as saying I oppose the idea because I'd prefer to fight for my job from an uneven footing than to have the families of contracted firefighters be left with nothing after a serious injury or death. But as one put it, requiring a contractor to provide an equal amount of life insurance would be prohibitively expensive. Well currently the government is doing just that: they are looking at the cost of government labor with salaries, heath and life insurance, retirement and PSOB, and comparing them to contractors who do not have to offer any of these. Of course the government comes off looking bloated.

Now people who point out that equally applying PSOB to contractors is giving away freebees are monsters? Ramble makes a good point. That doesn't make him/her an uncaring SOB or an elitist, it is someone who is pointing out that sometimes good intentions have consequences that are not well thought out. Much as is the current case of putting people in harms way without making sure they are properly protected.

I have serious issues with the government plans for privatizing government positions, not because the the government employees are perfectly efficient, we are not, we could cut costs in some areas, but I am opposed to most of these plans because they do not compare apples to apples. This is an area in which the governments sweat shop mentality appears: there is little concern for the people providing services, just how to make the smallest dent in the government check book.

Perhaps all would be served better by having contract personnel buy in to the PSOB as a payroll deduction in a similar manner to Soc. Sec. This would ensure the families of contract personnel receive the benefits they should without creating additional costs to the government (which should increase the likelyhood of getting congress to pass it) and should be less costly to contractors than forcing them to buy a similar amount of life insurance.

As far as the comment about fighting fire without contract aircraft goes. There has been talk of the Air National Guard taking over these responsibilities and they want the job. Sure MAFFS are not as good on the whole but look how much experience is out there on the contract side (50 years + AT have been flying fires). Who knows, in 20 years maybe the Air national Guard would be better, they certainly have the resources and maybe as a bonus the Army and Marines would finally get the low and slow air support the Air Force doesn't like to give them instead of F16s at 10,000 feet and we might see an aircraft designed for fighting fire instead of 40 year old aircraft converted for a job they were never meant to do. I have nothing but respect for the pilots flying aircraft on fires and have no problems with the current arrangements for pilots but the idea that it is the only way is as chauvinistic as those who complain we feds are out to get the contractors.

The news story on the costs (OregonLive Article posted by An R-5er yesterday) is just one more of the stupid penny pinching editorials that seem to be the rage lately, I have never heard any of this nonsense when the military ships movie stars to the troops, or buys top of the line equipment for the troops but when the fire community begins to realize that well rested, happy, healthy fire fighters are more effective than one who are hungry, tired and sore form sleeping on rocks all form of goof balls come out of the woodwork screaming about abuses. $10.00 pens and pencils are abusive, have you priced pens and pencils lately, Bics don't cut it when you are 40+ writing for hours, I wonder how much a case of carpel tunnel syndrome runs the government. $50.00 a day for food? I wonder how many calories we burn when on the line, I know I saw a study at one time said a firefighter fighting a fire in a building burns more calories in 15 minutes than the typical office worker uses all day, so assuming a 12 hour shift that means we need (4x 12) 48 times as much food as a normal worker, we're getting short changed because I don't know anybody that spends a little more than a $1 a day to eat. Wow, firefighters away from home were getting paid 12 hours a day to not fight fire instead of only 8, isn't this the same government that pays farmers not to grow corn, whats the problem?

Yes when you have an organization as big as the government you find waste and abuse, but it would be nice to see these things investigated by people who know what fire is about instead of some journalist looking for a story or some bean counter second guessing actions taken in a time of crisis. Next they will start charging the IC for all the costs after IA since obviously they made a mistake in their initial tactics. If you follow this to its logical conclusion, all of us - contractor and government employee - will be out of work except for a few LEOs who will be supervising the $1 / hour prisoners they replace us with. I don't even think they would have to pay PSOBs either, what a savings.


Fedfire, I agree with much of what you say about costs, but let me make a slight clarification for the sake of fairness. Rich Wands, who was key in doing the research on large fire costs reported on in the OregonLive online article, grew up in fire. He knows fire. He has been in administration for a bit now, but he brings a valuable fire perspective to the research he does.

01/14 Another sunny summer day in SoCal!! Put away your shorts and the
surfboards!!! CDF -- MVU, RRU, and BDU -- are going back into
staffing patterns. I'm sure the FS is probably going to follow suit.

(From the NWS Pages)

9 PM Update 01/14/2003

2 PM Update 01/14/2003

01/14 Write your congressman!

Support the Federal Firefighter's Presumptive Law.

Here's the IAFF Fact Sheet on the Presumptive Law.


An easy way to reach your congress people here on the Links page under Federal. Ab.

01/14 Capt Christopher

If you want some good info, contact the Shawnee (spelling??) National Forest in southern Illinois or the Missouri Department of Conservation. I see you're not too far from St Louis; there may be stuff there.

You can also check out the second annual Midwest Wildfire Academy held in Jefferson City MO the last week in May. We'll have several S130/S190/I100 classes this year as well as S215(205) Urban Interface, S212 Saws, S290 Intermediate Fire Behavior and more. Check it out at www.mufrti.org in a couple months.


That's right, last week Hickman wrote in with dates and the schedule of classes that will be available at the Academy in Missouri. Ab.

01/14 Evenin' Sir: 

I am a GS-07 in a permanent position with the DoD Fire Service, specializing in technical rescue and rescue companyoperations. Every year we get that e-mail from the BLM folks asking for people with a redcard to volunteer for deploymentduring the upcoming fire season. I taught biology and did some prescribed burning at a State Park (in a past life.:o), and miss the environment a lot. It's nothing compared to what you folks do on a day to day basis, but it wasenough to wet my whistle for more. I want to pretend that I'm a complete know-nothing, and start like every other rookie. What is the best course to get into to obtain basic qualifications for line work? Thanks in advance for your response.

Christopher R; Capt.
375th CES Fire Department
Scott AFB, Illinois 62225

Readers, help this polite fella out, would'ya please? Ab.

01/14 Thank you.
Forstmeister, Jim, Blackliner

No attitude here, I just like to get to the point. Just wanted to say
thanks for getting me pointed in the right direction I appreciate the


Communicating without being face to face is sometimes difficult. Congrats to all trying to stick to the issues and replying when assumptions are not correct.Ab.
01/14 OKpyro,

Ouch, Sizzle!! How many of you folks out there would want to be on the
Holding Crew for this guy? With that kind of passion, why bother getting
paid, just call up Oklahoma State Forestry and volunteer to light it off at
the Red River come March? If you insist on getting paid, then Bandelier
FU Module may be the place for you. (Just being sarcastic, obviously, but
jeez, we were just trying to help, so lose the attitude).

- Forstmeister
01/14 I think that most of us have had good and bad experiences with members of
our firefighting family. Sometimes the adjacent contract/state/federal
crew doesn't seem to cut it. Others you've seen walk tall and have every
right to. Others you've seen walk tall and have every right to. 
Overall, we are indeed part of the same firefighting family, and
all deserve to be treated "fairly"......which is tough to define.
I think the likelihood of bringing "contractors" under the umbrella of PSOB
is very slim. But let's remember that our objective is to ensure that
survivor benefits are available, and that PSOB is just one method of
providing those.

I believe another approach might be more achievable.
I've seen contract requirements evolve to include 1. mandatory training
standards 2. fitness standards 3. safety practices, 4. licensing etc.
I don't know why we could not include a contract requirement of "x" dollars
of life insurance. Lurking contract wizards......Is this possible?

In the meantime, those who chose to work for contractors will continue to
make choices of whom they work for, whether they go for wages or benefits,
whether they purchase their own insurance (Q: Is that even an option?).
Again, all of our firefighting family should be able to go to work knowing
that in the event of a tragedy, financial burden to the family need not be
a concern, and we all should be vocal toward that end.

Old Fire Guy
01/14 Heating UP:

You ask were it will be heating up this year. We might not be first to heat up, but here in Montana we are very low on snow pack. East of the divide has no to very little snow this year. Some one told me that people in Billings MT were mowing their yards is Dec. On the west side most drainages have less than 60% snow pack. It is very dry. They predict that we will be in the High fire danger by March if we do not get snow. I plow snow for the state, and have only worked less than 2 weeks, and last year at this time I had 2 months in. I guess I will make up for it this summer.


01/14 The Jobs page and firefighter Series 462 and 455 pages are updated.

Looks like the NPS, BLM, FWS, and the BIA are all getting together to let seasonals know about summer fire jobs in Wyoming. To view their post, click down to Federal/State/Other Fire Jobs category on the Jobs page.

While you all who are "in the know" are browsing there, would you see if there's any more info we can or should offer seasonal wannabes to help them get started.


01/14 captain biddle....here are frequencies for northern ca and if you search the site it also has nevada......


01/14 Ab and all --

I've been silently lurking for awhile.....now back in to the fray.

22 years ago I lost a brother-in-law on a fire. He was just a "seasonal"
-- one of those expendable, replaceable life forms. The agency -- always
quick to cover themselves -- pointed the finger at this young firefighter,
claiming he was responsible for his death as well as others. So, they
washed their hands, moved on to other "important" issues, and made the
surviving brothers take the body of their younger, burnt beyond
recognition, brother home -- at their own expense, in their own vehicle --
a tortuous 2-day odyssey. Did the incident make the news? Did the
government hand over any "thanks", "sorry" or "reimbursement?" Guess not.
That was in the days before PSOB was there to cover the "worthless"
seasonals. Others had to go the way of my brother-in-law before the right
direction was taken. Many other families went through unjust losses and
accusations -- all to save the agency line. Thankfully, this has turned
around for the seasonal workers.

Now -- as life progresses -- I have another brother-in-law -- a former
agency employee -- who now happens to be a contractor. Two years ago, he
climbed out of his ship, 15 minutes prior to the end of his regularly
scheduled shift. The relief crew climbed in -- -- 10 minutes in to their
flight the ship went down, killing all on board.

This family of firefighters I belong to is not ready for another "throwaway
life" given to the spinmeisters of the fire agencies. Am I resentful? You
bet. Am I an agency person? You bet. Am I for the contractors continuing
to fight for their benefit rights? You bet.

Cache Queen
01/14 Hey AB's, An-R5er, and All. 

After reading the article An-R5er sent in it kinda struck me as being a little hypocritical. Everything that I carried with me on the line (boots, ppe, line pack, canteens, etc) I had purchased with my own money or it was given to me as a gift. I don't think you can get much thriftier then fire camp; where leaving 200+ people outside sleeping on the ground is the style and rage. Oh yeah, I didn't have a tent either like oregonlive.com said, I had to "steal" a trash bag to keep the dust out of my duffel bag. I know, I realize money gets spent inappropriately, but my GOD, lets not let the nice firefighters eat well even though they risk their lives for my house!

Do you think the Federal Bureau of Investigation would pack 20 of its agents into a school bus and ship them from New Mexico to Utah?!?!?! Get off it Michael Milstein of oregonlive.com!

Maybe I am totally missing the mark here guys, but thanks for letting me rank and rave anyway AB!

01/14 okpyro.

USFS Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas for starters.


01/14 okpyro-

Check out the NPS burn modules like WIndcave, Bandelier, Zion, etc...

01/14 hey im a member of your site and also with a vfd firefighter in nevada and i was wondering if you had some wildland fire frequencies for the northern nevada area like carson b.l.m district and maybe some tac? if so, you could let me know

thanks a million
captain biddle
01/14 RE: Dana
you put it all inprospective there.
thank you
01/13 Thanks guys for the intell, but I think I may have led you astray with my
message. I know that Ok. has very few if any Fed agencies that even know
what a driptorch is yet alone how to use one. There are some, a very select
few individuals, and, as you guys mentioned BIA, Fur and Fin, but still they
don't burn enough. I have no intention on working for a Fed. agency in Ok
doing Rx fire. A state that is 97% privately owned and people that DO work
for the Feds are still having trouble identifying that Rx fire is an
ecologically and economically efficient land management tool. Yeah right,
work there....screw that. I was hoping for some info. from you Fire Use
guys on exactly how much fire you see and where is a good place to start.

Yeah, Yeah, experience and education. Major in Fire Ecology and take some
Rx classes, get some experience with wildland fire........well I have done
all that and I want to be where they set the most fire, where ever it may

Thanks guys and Ab, this is fantastic and superb site for info exchange.

01/13 Dear AB:

some interesting reading, don't know if you've seen this one already on the "blank check given for fighting fire":

01/13 The accountability for "fire starting" of large fires that later resulted in death
and destruction has gotten a lot of attention lately. I hope that those who
have started smaller fires on which wildland firefighters have died are also
held accountable.

When Lars Stratte and Larry Groff - two airtanker pilots - died fighting
a fire near Ukiah in August 2001, two men were charged with starting it.
I recall they were allegedly making methemphetamines when their fire
got away. Their Second Degree Murder Trial is finally tentatively scheduled
for January 27 at the Mendocino County Courthouse in Ukiah CA. I hope
that anyone that can will attend to lend support to the families of those who
died. Check first to make sure it hasn't been postponed.

NorCal Tom
01/13 So, any guesses yet as to where the fires season will heat up most???

Arizona is experiencing temperatures in the 70's already. we had some rain,
probably enough to grow some grasses and 10 hour fuels. But, with things
already drying up, we might be in for an early season like last year.
Oversight Fire was in March. Had several smaller but decent fires around
that same time last year. Already experiencing some in southeast Arizona
THIS year!

01/13 Abs just a quick note of humor,

At one time in my life, I thought I had a handle on the meaning of the word "service." The act of doing things for other people.

Then I heard the terms Internal Revenue Service, Postal Service, Civil Service, Service Stations, Free Service, Social Service... And I became confused about the word "service."

This is not what I thought "service" meant.

Then one day, I overheard two farmers talking and one of them mentioned that he was having a bull service a few of his cows. SHAZAM!! It all came into perspective. Something to ponder!

01/13 Forstmeister

I agree with what you said except that the Ouachita has not used a
helitorch for years. Most if not all aerial burning is done with the


You might check with the Fin and Feathers folks because they have
refuges in OK and they do Rxburning.

01/13 Ab,

Thanks for the new news page. It makes the researching part of my job much easier.

Today under Wildfire there are articles on small fires in Florida, how a thinned (managed) forest on a private CA foothills ranch saved the neighbors' homes, a report of what was discussed at a conference on the thinning of forests, and several articles on the Federal plan for forests being put to the test in 10 locations around the country. Lotsa fire chatter in places that burned last summer.

Under Forest Fire there are articles about a group suing to halt logging at Rodeo/Chedeski, Barton pleading guilty in starting the Hayman Fire and, for those who didn't see it earlier, a lucid article by former chief Dombeck entitled "Water is forest's most vital product". And an article about a fire in Australia.

Under Wildland Fire and Brush Fire the news is a bit slimmer. Under Malibu Fire, the news has all but dried up. Australia Brush Fires is also fairly quiescent. Airtankers has a flurry of articles from the last week in December and the first week in January about the planes that crashed flying missions for the CIA.

There is a little redundancy if articles contain multiple categories of search words, but if you look at an article in one category, the link becomes a different color gray across all categories.

I like it. It will be especially handy when fire season heats up, which could be sometime soon in Southern CA. But in the meantime, I continue to use it for "media watch".


Firescribe and Readers, if you have a fire topic you think might be interesting under "Current Events", please let us know. Link to new Fire News Page. Ab.

01/13 I agree with 6 on some issues. I believe that contractors should get benefits and also that state seasonal employees as well as seasonal federal get better benefits. Being an ex-stater and a current employee of a contractor, I find that benefits are lacking in all areas. I can't state that for sure on the federal side, but I am going off of hearsay.

Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that unless the contracting rep's do accept about a $5-$15 per person per hour increase on suppression costs from contractors, that this will never happen. Its been a pipe dream for years now and personally I don't foresee anything of this sort coming. The company I work for has been looking at this aggressively now for about 3 years. The cheapest they could come up with is about 200 a month per employee. With that in hand, its a huge number to fork out every month.

And as far as contractors being public safety officers or not, why does this make a difference? It really shouldn't. I mean that's getting nit picky in my opinion. I could sit here and debate on the same issue on the person that sits behind a desk all year doing road improvements or is in charge of recreation and then finally gets to go on a 2 day assignment because there district is all out of resources, are they public safety officers? I really don't want an answer on that, all I am saying is that why waste the time and energy on titles? People who pound ground are the same, fed, state, contractor and even cons...


01/13 Ramble,
You struck a nerve.......

You quoted the Bureau of Justice Fact Sheet as saying that "The PSOB Act, according to the fact Bureau of Justice Fact Sheet "was designed to offer peace of mind to men and women seeking careers in public safety". It was enacted "to assist in the recruitment and retention of law enforcement officers and firefighters", to "allow communities to provide for public safety". "

If it had said "to offer peace of mind to public sector employees with careers in public safety or to assist the public sector in the recruitment and retention of ...firefighters" I think your argument would be valid. Frankly I think the taxpayers, whose safety firefighters (federal or contract) are providing for would have a hard time understanding why you think "public" firefighters should be provided for so much better than those on the line beside them who are providing the exact same service (to the public) via a contract.

It really just the old "seasonal /contract firefighters are not "real" firefighters" crap all over again. Maybe from your perspective there is a huge difference between an employee of a public agency and a private business that works under the direction of a public agency ...but I think your perspective is mainly dependent on your ego. Both agency and contract firefighters equally serve the public (taxpayer) doing the same work...often side by side. WE wear the same gear and take the same risks. And when a firefighter is injured or killed no one (except the lawyers) care to make the distinction that they were private or public sector . We look out for each other like family on the line. So why once we step out of the danger zone does one group of firefighters suddenly become "better" than the rest?

I agree with you that a private business exists mainly to make a profit since it must do so to continue to exist. Public agencies on the other hand do not have that burden. If I were the cynical type I would say public agencies exist to primarily to spend their budget. While contractors may make a profit one year there is little guarantee that they will the next. If benefits of their employees (your brother and sister firefighters) is left to their discretion you can bet that few benefits will be there when they are needed. The public agencies responsible for wildfire suppression are additionally responsible for the safety and welfare of all firefighters who aid them in controlling wildfires. They may make believe that they shed that responsibility in some measure by contracting the services of private fire suppression companies due to some legal technicality, but ethically and morally...no one is going to buy such a specious argument.

Is your point that only firefighters that work for a govt. agency DESERVE to be treated fairly? Or that the families of contract/seasonal firefighters who are injured or killed (on duty) do not DESERVE to receive the same benefits that their public sector counterparts do?

Lets be fair here. If firefighters do the same job they should be treated the same when it comes to "offering peace of mind" to those providing for the public safety as well as their dependents. They all take a huge risk fighting fire. They all risk their lives, their health, and their families future to make life safer for the public...and the fact that some work for the Feds, some for the states, and some for private contractors is a nearly inconsequential and completely artificial difference.

Ramble your arguments left me shaking my head in wonder at why you feel so damn superior to your private sector brother and sister firefighters. This just sounds like a case of "I got it and you don't so you must not deserve it". From my point of view just because you belong to a group of firefighters that gets better pay or benefits than another group of firefighters does not make you BETTER than those other firefighters.

I got news for you. From the taxpayers perspective few private businesses could afford to pay for the level of benefits that public employees currently enjoy. Few businesses could survive with that kind of financial burden...they would go bankrupt and there employees would be out of a job. But since Govt. agencies can always just dump excessive expenditures off on the taxpayers backs no such limits exist for them. The fact that public employees unions have been successful at negotiating better and better benefits over the years for "public servants" (LOL) does not mean that seasonal or contract firefighters don't deserve it too.

There is a word for those who think they are better than others because of some nebulous or insignificant affiliation....its elitism. And frankly I think firefighters in general would be far better off if there were less of it. It is divisive and generally does little other than make those claiming they are bigger/badder/better firefighters look like asses.


01/13 The next time Ramble or some of his other Fed firefighters let their fire get away and get themselves in a jam, they should call for the Air Force and their MAFFS.

I sure with all their expertise, they, MAFFS should be able to save the day. After all, their Federal Employees. Although, if they were so unlucky as to have their wings come off, newer aircraft ya know, that shouldn't happen. As US military, would they also not be entitled to the PSOB, or just covered under the military insurance?

01/12 Ab,

Got to agree w/ Ramble on the PSOB issue. The comparison to the different functions within the military does not make sense. Either you are in the military, or you are not. If you are in you get certain benefits, and if you are not you don't. And there are many people who get paid by the military who are not in, and do not get those benefits.

If the treatment that contractor employees get is unjust, there are ways to correct it without diluting the PSOB system. Contracts could require that the contractor carry insurance/benefits that would be comparable to what it is for PSOs without including them into the system. The cost would end up being paid by the taxpayer, and that is OK with me.

If we are going to use contractors (and that seems to be the wave of the future) I am not in favor of doing anything would result in giving contractors a false economy when looking at the economics. If giving contractor employees decent benefits is the right thing to do (and I think it is), then do it and let the costs be included in the costs of doing business. But keep in mind that contractors, though they share many of the same hazards, are not Public Safety Officers.


01/12 Dear Ab....something that I learned while reading the past few days of email. Did you know this?

The Public Sector Ombudsman

For as long as government has existed, guaranteeing citizens fair and equitable treatment under the law has been an issue and various protections have been utilized over the years. In modern times the public sector Ombudsman, where instituted, has been a successful and valuable guarantor of citizens' rights. By impartial and independent investigation of citizens' complaints, it has provided an informal and accessible avenue of redress.

The first public sector ombudsman (OM-budz-man, -buhdz-, -boodz-) was appointed by the Parliament of Sweden of 1809. The Swedish Constitution divided and balanced power between the king and Parliament with the king having executive powers and Parliament retaining legislative power. The ombudsman, who was appointed by and responsible to Parliament, was to protect individual rights against the excesses of the bureaucracy.

This first ombudsman's office, since its creation, has been the model for the public sector ombudsman, and set the definition that is still accepted today: a public official appointed by the legislature to receive and investigate citizen complaints against administrative acts of government. These acts may or may not include the administrative acts of the judiciary or the legislature, depending upon the statute.

Interesting stuff huh?...never have seen my ombudsman rep on the fireline! Probably a little too hot or dusty!

Its almost time to step it up a few notches on the treadmill with a 45lb pack....any predictions on this next season?


01/12 Everyone,

Some more great photos from Ben Croft at MTDC. I put them on Equipment 5, Handcrews 7, Fire 16 and Heli 9. Look at the descriptions for more information.

01/12 OKpyro

There are very few Fed Fire org. in Oklahoma other than B.I.A. There seems to be a large turn over in that organization so may be easy to get in. They do a lot of Rx burning on Indian land. The Tallgrass belongs to the Nature Conservancy, and they also do a lot of prescribe burning. Also up in my part of the country most of the land is owned by ranchers and they do a lot of burning, but sometimes they are not to concerned with the consequences..
Good luck

Retired in Ok.

01/12 While risking offending some here, I have to say I'm not buying into
the general rush of those supporting the proposal of air tanker pilots
becoming eligible for Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB). I am
also against all other private contractors employees being eligible.
This includes all the other contractors mentioned in Mollysboy's post

Why? They are not "public safety officers". They are not
"employees" of a national, federal, state, or local public safety
organization as defined by the PSOB Act. They are employees of various
private businesses hired and paid to perform specific, temporary
services. It is the responsibility of these same businesses to provide
the pay, unemployment, OWCP, and/or any other medical, health, or death

The PSOB Act, according to the fact Bureau of Justice Fact Sheet
"was designed to offer peace of mind to men and women seeking careers in
public safety". It was enacted "to assist in the recruitment and
retention of law enforcement officers and firefighters", to "allow
communities to provide for public safety". From my perspective there is
a huge difference between a public agency employee and a private
business. The fundamental difference is a public agency employee is
funded with taxpayer dollars and "serves the public" (taxpayer). A
private business exists to make a profit. I'm unaware of any private
wildland fire suppression business classifying themselves as non-profit
or a charity. If the companies weren't making a profit, there wouldn't
be so many of them lined up at the door each new contracting period.
I'd be delighted to see some of the contractors tax returns this year,
especially some of those who enjoyed employment on the Bisquit, Hayman,
or Rodeo/Chedeski fires. I think there are plenty of profits available
to provide some very attractive and generous medical/health/death benefits.

Mollysboy suggests as fact that "the government agencies use
contractors so that they don't have to deal with all the personnel
issues involved. . .". I say, not true, actually not even a marginal
consideration. The government uses contractors for fire suppression
because large escaped fires are temporary events. The various
federal/state/local agencies responsible for fire suppression have
little desire or need to staff on a full time basis the resources
required to suppress escaped fires. It is far more logical and cost
effective to contract additional resources for occasional emergency
use. It seems to work well to me, at least as long as there remain
sufficient full time agency employees to provide the oversight and
leadership on large fires.

Let's stop asking the taxpayer (me) to double-dip. What's next?
Should the government agencies also provide private business employees
with medical/dental/vision benefits? Holidays off? Sick leave? Union
representation? I say no.

Thanks for the forum Ab.
01/12 Attached are some photos of a Huey doing the job in my part of the world. The pics are High Resolution due to the nature of my job (Wildfire Investigation). The area is what's known as "Long Point" (near Orange, New South Wales Australia), inaccessible terrain making it hard for ground crews to get in.

Steve S

Almost looks like socal. I put them on the Helicopters 9 photo page. Ab.

01/12 OKpyro,

If you're burning in the Tallgrass Prairie, in
Oklahoma I presume, then you're in the South, where
more Rx burning is done than anywhere in the US. The
Southern Region of the USFS has the largest Rx burn
target of all the Regions, and Florida I believe is
ground zero. Several districts on the Ouachita NF in
Ark/OK burn upwards of 20,000 acres annually (mostly
helitorch), you need to contact them in Hot Springs,
AR. The Southern Region in the past has filled Rx
burn detail positions for the burning season
(winter/spring), plus a couple of Rx fire modules. Not
sure about this year, but right now is the time to
check, and I mean quick. The Park Service has several
Rx fire modules around the nation as well, including
one at Buffalo River National River, in North
Arkansas. Their modules go where needed. If you're at
the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (Park Service?), then
you need to also make contact with the Fire Ecology
folks at Okla. State University - Range Dept. (they
have ties with the Forestry Dept. as well) and try to
get some courses in. If Rx fire is your heartbeat,
then Fire Ecology should be your blood, especially if
you want a higher grade position. It's all about
planning and implementing your burn based on the
objectives and effects of the burn, not how big a
column you can make (although our motto for site prep
burns used to be it wasn't a good burn unless rocks
popped, and you had whirlwinds! But those good old
days are gone.) Outside of the south, the FS is doing
it's best to burn every chance they can, especially in
the Ponderosa Pine ecosystem that has short fire
intervals (try Region 3, Southwest Region, USFS).

Good luck. - Forstmeister

01/12 If anyone hears of it, could you let us know when the History Channel is rerunning the Fire on the Mountain piece. I sent my copy to Nomad complete with return envelope, only to have him tell me that it was a great tape of the Niners/Chargers game! All I can conclude is that "someone" taped over it while I was gone.


01/11 15 acre fire in King County WA. today. Have had some east winds past few
days. Fire near Black Diamond

01/11 Fuels, Fire Use, Rx Fire.....?


Hope you or someone out there could assist. I know that this does not fit
into the current "Contract/Fed" topic but It might provide some wanted
relief from that heated topic.

I have been to all the job websites, forest websites, and fire job lists I
can find but I am still not finding very many Rx associated jobs at the 5/6
level. I do not know If I need to focus my search on strict Rx fire or
maybe look into Fire Use modules. My previous experience with the FS is,
well, they don't burn. I know it depends upon region, but I want to set
fire and thats the bottom line. I thought there might be other alternatives
or maybe even an "inner circle" of Rx fanatics that I could tap into for job
info. It's not that I don't like suppression but my tool of choice is the
driptorch. I already have 19 burns under my belt and probably another 22-24
this spring. I am not a virgin to the driptorch and maybe that is why the
4/5 fuels positions don't sound appealing. Thats all I got, I guess I will
have to get enough of the tallgrass to last me for a while. Thanks Ab. for
any help.


Readers, any info? Ab.

01/11 Contractors vs Fed Fire


I had a discussion with my Captain about this subject; he informed me of the same talk dating back to the '80s about contractors taking over because of cost. He told me that all the same subjects have been brought up before and discussion has not changed since then. We have come to the conclusion that contractors taking over will never happen in our life times and I am 35.

I would really be surprised if this ever happened. By the time all the paper work and all the new committees that have been formed from this issue have written their reports, Bush will be voted out of office because he has pissed everybody off for the lack of support he has given the Federal Fire Service.


01/11 Hey Ab,

I was following up on CH's suggestion that we write our congressman. I was about to do the cut & paste thing, but I ended up writing this little treatise. I thought you might enjoy.


Dear Congresswoman Lee,

I know you're a busy woman with all sorts of crazy things to do- budgets to balance, taxes to raise (or lower), armies to build, terrorists to kill, and economies to resuscitate. My request is small, but very important to me, and since theoretically you represent me, well damnit you're my only voice in the matter.

You see, I am a wildland fire fighter for the US Forest Service (Dept of Agriculture). My buddies and I don't ask much- we fight fires in steep, hot country on shifts that often exceed 24 hours, we sleep in the dirt all summer, and when it's all over, our girlfriends leave us because we're never around- all this for $10 an hour, no health coverage, and lay off notices at the end of the summer. The public may call us heroes, but we get paid like chumps. But that's okay, few of us go into this work for the money- we do it because we love it and because of the eclectic and extraordinary array of characters that are our brethren.

If one of us gets killed in the line of duty, the feds then have courtesy enough to treat us to "Public Safety Officer's Benefits." This is good. Unfortunately, the guys that fight fire from the air don't get these benefits when they die. This is bad.

Over the years, the risks involved in wildland fire fighting have increased. Houses have crept into the foothills and mountainsides, as evidenced by the Berkeley and Oakland Hills. One of the ways that fire managers have dealt with this is by transferring risk from people on the ground to the people in the air. The aerial fire fighters, in particular the Airtanker (aka slurry bomber) crews, die at an astounding rate. Of a national fleet of 50 airtankers, on the average 1 crashes every year, killing everyone on board. That means that 2% of all airtanker crews die each year. That's really bad.

If you'd like to read more, you can go to www.nifc.gov/blueribbon/BRP_120502.pdf and download the recent Blue Ribbon Panel Report, the product of a federal investigation into the national Airtanker fleet. The panel was assembled during the stand down of the entire airtanker fleet this summer after two airtankers crashed in the same week (independently of each other) when their wings came off midflight.

To save you from reading the 60+ page report, I'm providing a truncated version. Basically, the Forest Service and other federal land management agencies with wildfire protection responsibilities (BLM, Fish and Fur, NPS, etc) get their Airtankers through an array of contracts with private companies. The aircraft crews are provided by the contractor. For a variety of reasons, but mostly due to a lack of FAA oversight (the aircraft are dubbed as special "restricted use" category type and thus do not receive any regular inspection) and the failure of the federal agencies to require or budget for necessary maintenance, the aircraft are held to an absurdly low standard of safety, one without parallel in either the civilian or military aviation communities. These planes are flying lawn darts.

It's a miracle that these planes fly at all! In case you're imagining high tech, state of the art aircraft, let me inform you of just what we're talking about here. These planes are Vietnam, Korea, and WWII vintage airplanes. These are typically retired, ex-military aircraft. And they're not borne airtankers either- they're old cargo planes. According to a NASA study done in the early 1980's, the G-forces experienced during some (1-2 out of 100) retardant drops not only exceed aircraft deign tolerances, but they compare to what an F-16 fighter (or another high performance jet) experiences when pulling out of a steep dive. And you must remember the terrain that these pilots work in- just look outside your office window and you can see the Oakland Hills of 1993 fire fame. A typical retardant drop altitude is 200 feet off the ground. That's some tricky flying, and most places are steeper, higher, and windier than anyplace in the San Francisco Bay. So for the pilots, operating these planes is like taking mom's station wagon to the drag strip- it's fun, but it ain't easy.

So, you may ask, why don't they just only fly on "safe" assignments- well, lots of reasons. A big one is that people, in particular, rich constituents who live in the foothills, complain if a fire is threatening their house and they don't see planes flying overhead. You get phone calls and emails, someone from your office calls our office, then badda-bing badda-boom, the planes are flying over the rich people's houses. Moreover, when fire fighters like me are in a bad situation, we sometimes need the airtankers to save our ass. They know that, and we know that. These guys will part a smoke-belching, orange-red sea of fire for us when the time calls for it, and I'll be damned if I ain't grateful for all that they're done for me and countless others over the years.

So in short, please support the bill introduced by Rep. Barbara Cubin of Wyoming to include aerial firefighters in the coverage of Public Safety Officers Benefits (PSOB).

Oh, and one last thing, we're not talking about a lot of money either- this would apply to only a handful of people every year. So please, give us a little bit of the respect we deserve and do this small favor for our fire fighting brethren in the air.

01/11 Snake River Sparky,

How do contractors feel about their employees being unionized? I work for a Private EMS/Fire company that is represented by the IAFF and things are better than we could have ever imagined.


01/11 Abs,
It seems the heat these days in the wildland fire community isn't due to Santa Ana-fanned flames, but under the collars of some of your gentle readers. Now, it may come as a surprise to some reading this tome, but as an engine contractor, I share many of the concerns about fire contractors written by fed FFs.

There are some engine and crew contractors that I wouldn't trust with my house keys, not to mention banking my mortal existence on. I could check off several that manage to stay one step ahead of the Department of Labor, INS, IRS, etc. Then when the heat gets turned up by The Man and they are disqualified from doing business with the gov--or are even facing fines and jail time--they re-open shop in the name of their wife or brother-in-law. They pull stunts like filch gov. property, falsify time sheets, gin up qualifications and do not cover their employees under workman's comp. etc. Why? Because they know how to game the system.

On the other hand, I can name engine contractors I associate with who are competent in every way. They hire good, well-trained people, run good equipment and have earned the trust of the agencies they contract with. They are well-run organizations that provide flexible, efficient, economical protection and suppression services to the government.

So how do we get more of the latter, and not the first?

I work with the Gov in both EERA and contract IA roles. In six seasons of contract firefighting with the fed, some of the major problems I see with the fire contractor/fed relationship are:

1) Inadequate oversight.
2) Lack of post-season auditing.
2) Inadequate contract enforcement mechanisms.
3) Lack of uniform regulations from region to region.
4) Lack of an ombudsman.
5) Inadequate fed staff training in day-to-day dealings with engine contractors. (Some regions are very good, others terrible.)
6) Inadequate training support.

Note that high on my list is building a better regulatory structure. Additionally, contractors must do a MUCH better job of policing their ranks. Strong, well-run associations are a good first step. These, coupled with an improved federal structure can help pluck out the noxious weeds. For example, if you want your car fixed, you take it to a competent business with qualified personnel who can do the job right, for a fair price. And when the car's done, you review the bill, drive the car and make sure they did it right. If they didn't, you don't go back. Should fire contractors be any different?

Fire contractors will never replace the federal system, nor should they. Having worked inside the federal fire system, though, I can see benefits to contracting. Among other roles, contractors are the flexible ready reserves for a national fire suppression system that can be overburdened in a matter of hours. I have worked with both military units and fire departments at federal fires. Although they are vital resources, both come with unique, sometimes difficult challenges to fire managers and are clearly not in a role to fill the void if contractors were to go away.

I don't have a crystal ball to tell me where the Great Eagle is going to land with this issue. But this much I know: contract firefighting is not going away. Some federal staff are going to learn how to steer the issue and others are going to get run over by it.

To the gentle reader who believes that #@$%&* contractor scum are behind every rock and around every bush, gunning for his "hard-earned" path to retirement, (hopefully, that's not all he sees it as!), perhaps the footsteps you hear is Progress trying to find the most efficient way to prevent and fight wildfires.

Snake River Sparky

01/11 The Jobs page and firefighter Series 462 and 455 pages were updated today.

Six Rivers National Forest in beautiful northern CA has some positions needing to be filled.


01/10 Re: Contracting wildland fire

First of all I have nothing against contract crews, in fact I plan on seeking out a quality contractor for employment when I retire. I have worked with many contract crews that were excellent and some that were terrible, I can say the same about government crews (Local, State and Fed). I think that there is a place for contractors but the government should provide the bulk of the suppression crews, as I believe that there is no way a for profit business can do it for less AND offer more than the government gets from their own crews without sacrificing something somewhere, (experience, employee working conditions, quality of equipment) something has to go to do it for less because a business needs to make a profit to survive, the government doesn't. This doesn't mean the government can't find way to streamline the operation but it makes just as much sense to me to contract out all fire suppression as it does to contract out the combat arms of the military. The other problem with contracting suppression crews is the pool of experienced fed employees will be that much smaller and look at the shortages already being seen.

Those of you screaming how did this happen, where is our union etc, do you belong to the FWFSA? If not you get what you pay for, nothing. Actually even though the FWFSA represents a very small percentage (as in .01% or less) of the IAFF I would be willing to bet if this really becomes a possibility the IAFF will be there in force to defend the Fed wildland firefighters so actually the majority of you out there will actually be getting the "supposedly non existent" free lunch. There are an equal number or possibly more 0455/0462 federal wildland firefighters (7-10,000 as far as I can find numbers for) than 0081 Federal firefighters (roughly 7,000)but out of those numbers the majority of the 0081's belong to IAFF, while only a few hundred of the 0455/0462's belong to the FWFSA and by extension the IAFF. The IAFF has done much for us on the 0081 side (including getting a moratorium of contracting us out), not so much for you 0455/0462, I think the numbers help explain why wildland issues are the first to go when issues have to be cut from congressional negotiations.

I see a few major problems with the Federal Fire Service wildland and structural, we are stealth departments, few in Washington or else where see what we really do, all our employers see are big costs and no gain. NObody will cry for you when you're gone if they didn't know you were there to begin with (I'm sure other R5'rs have heard the remark, "oh you work for CDF, then", when telling people where you work).

Let me give you an example, down the road a bit from the base I work for there was another small Federal Fire Department, in the late 1970's the city department surrounding the base offered to provide fire protection for less than the cost of operating the fed fire department. Seemed like a good deal at the time since the department ran few emergency calls and the firefighters just sat around eating donuts as far as the command was concerned. Once the feds were gone the true costs came out, "Why aren't you doing building inspections" "Thats prevention, we only contracted for suppression", so the base had to hire some building inspectors, "We need you to teach a first aid class for some of the military dependents" "Sure, that will cost $X.xx per person" "We need you to do some service calls (wash down parade grounds, etc)" "Sure thing but it will cost you extra, thats not in the contract". "Hey what is this bill for?" "We had to come out on 19 false alarms last month, each one after the first is $X.xx)" Etc, Etc. That base still contracts with the city because the expense to rebuild a fire department from scratch is too high, but when these additional costs are added up they spend more each year than we get for our fire budget and we protect a larger area and much higher value property. The moral of the story is that department did not sell themselves to the command to show the actual gain provided for the money spent.

This is not to suggest that contractors are money grubbing parasites, but no company with decent business sense is going to offer free services that are not in the contract. Government employees on the otherhand have that ever popular "other duties as assigned clause" in their job descriptions.

I still see the same problems with nearly all Federal fire departments, we do a terrible job advertising what we do, there are also many who absolutely refuse to go an extra inch beyond what they feel they have to. Many Fed Structure departments refuse to touch "project work" leaving it to Public works who themselves usually wind up contracting it out to some private crew, many also refuse to assist the local communities with mutual aid agreements because "why work harder if we won't get paid more". The reverse is the Fed Wildland folks who absolutely fight tooth and nail to accept any additional duties beyond the wildland, EMS? no way, building inspections of Federal buildings?, not my job, visitor services?, not unless they are on fire. Clearly this is not the case with all but I'm sure if you are honest you either know people like this or are people like this.

Phoenix fire provides many non traditional services (cab ride vouchers for those calling the ambulance for a ride, assistance to the elderly unloading groceries, changing the battery in smoke detectors) Chief Bunacini (sp?) has committed his department to making all residents of Phoenix feel the fire department will respond to help them with any crisis how ever small, they have even begun staffing community services vans to assist with the program. As a result the fire department gets what ever it wants because they have the citizens are 100% behind their fire department and the city government has learned the voters support their fire department. You think voters in the city care if some fire engine or crew in some distant mountain gets cut or replaced by contractors? or if some military fire department gets closed and the calls run by a more distant city fire engine? or the 4-5 firefighters on the engine are replaced with 1 or 2, the crew with 10 instead of 20?

In my opinion contracting out Fed wildland firefighters is just a first step to contracting out all of us, and if the feds go this way how long until the states and cities get the idea? Fire departments really are just expensive insurance policies, California has a pretty big budget shortfall, if inmates can work hand crews why not engines?, if private companies can operate ambulance why not brush trucks. If the contractors prove that they can provide better services for less cost without sacrificing employee working conditions and the public safety, I'll be the biggest supporter but I have not yet seen a private company offer anything over the public sector except cost savings usually at the cost of the employees and / or the residents protected.

One of my biggest gripes with the whole contracting issue is we are not getting a fair shot at it, contractors can come in and bid on our jobs but we can not offer the reverse, a cost savings by accepting contracted services. The city surrounding my department has been after our jobs for 20 years, they have not been able to do it because they can not provide the same level of service at lower cost, to be realistic we could offer fire protection to the city for much less than they are paying, they have higher pay (by at least 20%) and work 20% fewer hours per week, with the same number of employees we have 4 person staffing on our engines they have 3 persons per engine. Our assistance has been refused on incidents across the street from our station because it is their jurisdiction, does this show concern for their residents? I really am not advocating Feds taking over State and City departments but for many small communities with few resources of their own next to existing Federal fire protection it could be very attractive and cost effective, when I was with the Forest Service we had a small community nearby, they paid CDF for fire protection but the nearest CDF engine was 2 hours away, and the nearest structure department was an hour away, we were 20 minutes away and BLM was located right in town. Who would have been the most logical choice if you ran the town. As it was we responded to incidents in town for free with inappropriate resources while CDF collected the money. I know that was not an isolated case. I picture a set up similar to CDF, the locality pays for the cost based on how much (if any) additional costs are incurred, plus part of the existing operating costs. For example a base which is required to have 2 Type 1 engines and a Type 4 engine and a town of 100 people is next to the base, the existing fire protection is sufficient for the town so it would pay a % of the budget, off setting part of the departments expense. Example two the same town is down the road from a Forest Service Station, this requires the addition of a type 1 engine and EMT training, the town pays for the engine and EMT training and a portion of the costs for the employees. The money gained improves the fed department and the safety of the nearby residents. Perhaps some of this money could be used to hire the people that make those slick CDF and LA County videos to blow off that stealth field we work under. I know, I know there I go thinking again, this makes too much sense for the government.

I also am very supportive of the idea of a unified Federal Fire Department, instead of each agency, forest, military branch and base having essentially their own fire department bring us under one agency US Fire Protection or preferably something with a catchy acronym (how about Federal Integrated Response to Emergencies Service or FIRES). Each federal entity would then work through the unified fire agency to obtain the required services, this would eliminate some of the overhead costs and hopefully eliminate much of the empire building that currently occurs. Integration of more Fed structural firefighters into the teams could broaden the usefulness of these teams on non-wildland fire events into all risk teams as may be needed if 9/11 becomes only the beginning of a terror war in the US (as many experts are telling us to expect). The teams currently are excellent but on non wildfire events they basically become logistics support, what if they could offer the same kind of leadership they provide on wildland to all disasters, natural and man made. It could also offer some options for us as we get older, let the young ones hike the hills, as the knees go bad move into a chiefs job someplace flat for your declining years. Someone has already developed a logo, just drop wildland from the design and were all set wildlandfire.com/pics/logo5/niwfmltest.jpg now just to get the management and politicians on board. I'm sure the debate on uniform color would be endless.

I was hoping with all the talk of a homeland security agency fire might get some attention too, but it is pretty clear those talking homeland security are only interested in the gun toting variety, not those who will show up when prevention fails (as they admit it occasionally will). FEMA managed to get into the pot, but not the rest of us. Not meant as a crack at those working for FEMA but how is it the agency in charge of major disasters knows less about doing the job than the rest of us who show up, why not just be honest and change the name to Federal Emergency Check Writing Agency.

Ok, Ab I'm done with my ranting, hope some of this is useful to somebody, thanks for providing a place for us to cuss and discuss issues.


You're welcome. Ab.

01/10 Hey all,

With all this talk about replacing feds with contractors, you have to remember how the
fed system works. To get rid of existing fed fire folks, they would have to invoke the RIF
authority, and then sort through all fed firefighters by seniority and time in grade. Then the
higher GS level folks could just bump lower GS people out of their jobs. The RIF would have to
be authorized by Congress (who voted for the National Fire Plan buildup in the first place), and
then to sort it all out would take years, even IF President Bush won another term and wanted to
do this. And how would the contractors be supplied on large fires? they cannot go to a supply
unit and check things out like a fed crew or engine, usually they have to have all of their own
equipment. When a contract engine uses all of their hose and leaves it on a fire, they have to
go get it or do without. And, is the federal government going to give contractors the power to
make tactical decisions, such as large bac!kfiring ops on National Forest?. This whole thing
seems far away to me.


p.s. the Six Rivers National Forest in California has jobs open, see the firejobs page.

01/10 Firedog266, UpsetR6FF, and Backburnfs-

When I started this dialogue, my intent was NOT to bash contract engines or crews! I have seen great contractors and shitty ones. I've seen spot-on agency engines and ones that truly lived up to the name engine-slug. Even in my arena (hotshotting), there are good crews, great crews and even some real wastes of federal funding.

My real point was that we would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater to try and convert IHC's to Initial Attack Modules. Hotshot crews have absolutely the most experience with large incidents and their experience in burning out, blacklining and back firing is unrivaled. Large fire is what we do. Initial attack would truly be a waste of a govt. resource.

And let's face it- no matter how quickly we all ran to start our own contract crews if this shift happens, there simply wouldn't be enough time, money (investment capital) or people to cope with a wildland season. Yes, incident costs need to be trimmed- absolutely! But examples of heavies sittin on the pads and tankers painting entire mountain ranges are more indicative of poor management at forest and regional levels than the need to privatize the local resources.

The answer is to simply make people accountable for the decisions they make. Throughout the fire service (private and federal) there is a lack of accountability. Be it fatalities, fire costs or lost structures, no one is stepping up and saying "My bad- I f*ed up!" ...and that needs to change.


Mollysboy- Hot enuff 4 U?

01/10 GK,

R-6 IHC's get about $400,000 on paper to field a crew for 110 days fire
availability so the cost per day is about $3600 a day. That includes
facilities, vehicles, supplies, retirement, unemployment and our share of
the multi-funded things like time keepers and computer/phones etc. and some
of our supervisors pay for program oversight. Add the OT and hazard pay
and your are probably getting close to the $6,000/day mark.
Don't know what the contract crews cost.

01/10 Ab:

Just wanted to add my two bits in regard to the Contract/Federal FF issue.

Firefighting is a lifestyle for me and my family, not a business. I have contracted Engines/Tenders since 1992 in R6. I entered into contract firefighting through interest not greed.

I worked fire for the CDF in high school and finished my Bachelor's degree with the USFS as an intern. I planned on making the USFS a career, (1988). I was picked up as a 462 Temp in Fire and completed agency fire school S-130 and S-190, engine school, power saw school, cruiser school and worked summers in fire for two more seasons and timber and nursery in the off season. We found a lot of Spotted Owls, all our timber sales were appealed, and we all lost our jobs. I used my degree and started working in municipal engineering/surveying.

I missed fire so I volunteered in our county fire department. We had a very progressive department and we had a wildland division as well as structural. Our dept had NWCG certified instructors who brought all wildland individuals through the S-205, S-211, S-215, S-230, S-234, S-290, S-390 courses. Our dept worked a partnership with the State Community College and the local ODF Office as well. Our dept utilized our trained people to respond to our county jurisdiction incidents, but, the ODF/USFS/BLM also contracted our people to work as Type 2 handcrews and as Engine Bosses. This was simply a natural extension of the efficient utilization of trained and motivated firefighters. In time our dept built wildland engines and the R6 Interagency Engine/Tender Contract hired our apparatus as well. I worked full time municipal/state engineering until 1995 when I started full time in contract firefighting. The firefighters that I hire have very similar stories to tell. Once you've been bit by the fire bug nothing else satisfies. Out of the 9 employees that I had working for me for fire season 2002, 7 of them have a Bachelors degree and prior state or federal fire service. These are very professional individuals who are an asset and a definite resource to the fire community. The combined agency time-in-service that my crew has is 56 years.

In order to contract with R6 I have to carry $2,000,000 in workers comp, $2,000,000 in commercial business insurance, and $1,000,000 in commercial vehicle insurance, also $800 month for blue cross. This costs alot and the payments are year round, I pay all winter when there is no fire $. I make it through the winter by working in reforestation and my wife is a substitute teacher. Like I said this is a lifestyle and I have no complaints, and the bills get paid one way or another but I am also not going to listen to mega - misinformation be posted by people who probably have not invested their own hard earned money in the gamble of contract firefighting. In 1995 we got 5 shifts, period, but we hocked everything and stayed-the-course.

Honesty is another issue. In R6 we bid engines/tenders wet. That means we are self contained in our apparatus and need nothing from the incidents that we respond to, nothing. In fact I routinely loan adapters, wyes, when requested, to our respective Division Sups, and I have on more than one occasion given my entire engine inventory to an out-of-region Division Sup who did not know the R6 contract protocol. In this case it is my gamble, legally he cannot ask for anything but this is a team effort so I always give my equipment. I always write an inventory list and get a DS signature, supply always resupplies me but I have been warned that they don't have to give me anything and that if they, USFS, want I will have to write a legal claim for the equipment that will take 30 days to process, but I must have the engine resuppied within 24 hours . Our apparatus' inventory is private, it is our own and we are warned that we cannot and will not be able to use incident supply for ANYTHING. If we run out of batteries or damage a glove we can use an incident credit/resource card that instantly charges these consumable supplies against our pay. The demob process ensures that we have all supply items, fuel, etc deducted from our pay invoice. The demob process also checks again our equipment inventory. We paint/color code ALL of our equipment. I have never heard of or seen anyone take anything from a federal/state engine and I didn't just fall off the cabbage cart. Our Engines also meet the National Fire Contract specifications and are inspected with a fine toothed comb, we want and enjoy the best equipment too! This winter alone I have reinvested $16,000 in fire equipment for our 2 engines to update and refurbish tanks, pumps, hose reels, truck-bed, radios, etc.

Once the fire season is over it's time to pay all the taxes and workers comp insurance, repair/update the engines and try to pay off the big bills to get us through the winter, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. There is nothing like working on a great engine strike team, yes contractors have them and are part of agency teams too, and the accomplishments, the adrenaline and the independence are all the real reasons that I and my contract buds fight fire.

another EngineSlugR6

01/10 This is a message from the Federal Emergency Management Agency/U.S. Fire

Release No. 03-005
Release Date: January 9, 2003


EMMITSBURG, MD - The United States Fire Administration (USFA)
announced today that 102 firefighters died while on-duty in the United States,
in 2002. The loss of a firefighter's life was felt directly in more than 86
communities, in 35 states across the nation.

"The United States fire service and this nation have suffered another
staggering loss of firefighters, in 2002. When the citizens of this
nation need emergency services, they have come to rely on this nation's
firefighters to be able to respond. The United States Fire Administration
is committed to helping improve firefighter safety to prevent these
tragedies from occurring in the future," United States Fire Administrator
R. David Paulson said.

The severe wildfire season of 2002 led to a number of wildland firefighter
deaths. In 2002, 20 firefighters died in wildland fire fighting
incidents. Most of the firefighter fatalities related to wildland fires
occurred in California and Colorado, where the fire season was especially
severe. During the months of June, July, and August, 17 firefighters died
in 8 wildland fire incidents. Six of these deaths were the result of 3
wildland fire fighting aircraft crashes. Five firefighters were killed as
they traveled from Oregon to Colorado to fight a wildland fire when their
van was involved in a crash and 3 California firefighters were killed when
their fire truck left the roadway and rolled down an 800-foot hill.

Twenty-five firefighters died in 9 incidents where more than one
firefighter was killed. Four wildland incidents (2 aircraft crashes and
2 vehicle crashes) described above took the lives of a total of 13

Two Central New York firefighters were killed when they became trapped in
the basement of a burning house; 2 St. Louis firefighters died when they
were trapped in the interior of a burning business; 3 New Jersey
firefighters were killed when a burning residential structure collapsed as
they searched the building for victims; and 3 Oregon firefighters were
killed when they became trapped in the interior of a burning business
after a structural collapse. Two Florida firefighters were killed during
a training exercise in July. There were 77 single firefighter fatality

Career firefighters, those who are employed full-time as firefighters,
comprised 37 deaths (36%) in 2002. Volunteer, seasonal, and part-time
firefighters accounted for 65 deaths. Ten of the 65 were seasonal or
part-time wildland firefighters.

The vast majority of firefighter fatalities in 2002 occurred in relation
to a fire or medical emergency incident. Seventy percent of the
firefighters who died while on-duty in 2002 suffered fatal injuries or
illnesses in emergency situations.

Fifteen firefighters died as they responded to an emergency or returned
from one, many of these deaths involve vehicle collisions. Twelve deaths
occurred during training.

Six firefighters died in separate incidents when they were struck by
passing vehicles while working near roadways. Three of these firefighters
were killed as they assisted on the scene of motor vehicle crashes, 1 on
the scene of a vehicle fire, 1 on the scene of a wildland fire, and 1
during training.

Fifteen firefighters engaged in other fire department duties at the time
of their death occurred in 2002. The 5 Oregon firefighters killed in a
van crash in Colorado as they traveled there to assist in fire fighting
efforts are included in this category.

Half of the firefighters that died on-duty in 2002 died of traumatic
injuries. Eleven firefighters died of asphyxiation; 2 died of burns; 3
firefighters were crushed; 1 firefighter died of heat exhaustion; 1
firefighter drowned; and 36 died of traumatic injuries such those incurred
in a vehicle crash. A fire chief in New Mexico was killed when he was
shot while on the scene of a structure fire.

Heart attacks continue to be a leading cause of firefighter deaths,
killing 31 firefighters in 2002. The 31 deaths represent almost one third
of the 2002 total.

The largest loss of firefighter lives in a single incident occurred in
Colorado. A group of firefighters were traveling from Oregon in a van
that was involved in a single vehicle collision. The highest number of
deaths occurred in July with 15 firefighter fatalities, October brought
the fewest deaths with 3.

These fatality statistics for 2002 are provisional and subject to change
as the USFA contacts State Fire Marshals at the beginning of each year to
verify the names of firefighters reported to have died on-duty during the
previous year and expects to have the annual fatality report completed by
early June.

For additional information on firefighter fatalities including the annual
fatality reports from 1986 through 2001 and the Firefighter Fatality
Retrospective Study 1990-2000 please visit the USFA website:
www.usfa.fema.gov/dhtml/inside-usfa/ff_fat.cfm .

- IA Dispatcher
01/10 Lets see ,the fwfsa had a meeting dec 14th and now it is mid jan and still no updates on the website....yup what a way to gather support. May not need them now if the forest service goes private. Hugh
01/10 Well folks i see the same old bitching going on about pvt engines and crews.. yes i do know that they are some fools out there that just want to make a buck.. how do we git rid of them.. dont pass them on there engine check offs. every year a contract engine must pass the check outs.. who does that fall on to pass or fail them. THE FEDS. I have seen good pvt engines and poor fed engines. i also seen poor pvt engines and great feds.. it all falls back on to the ones inspecting the engines at the start of the year...i have work in both pvt, fed and state fire. we are all firefighters, we do the same work. we also get killed the same way.
n.c brush 6
01/10 I've been reading a lot of comments about contactors
and agency engines and I want to put in my two cents.
The contract fire fighters aren't all bad, but we need
to put some higher standards on these people and we
need to get rid of the ones that are there just for a
check. I also think its a mistake to think we can
contract out all our fire needs and get rid of our
agency crews, this will only lead to disaster. But on
the other hand we have invested millions of dollars
adding more people to the government force and how many
of these people sat at home because there districts or
zones wouldn't send them out because they were afraid
that they might get a fire. I seen an area in south
central Oregon that had 30 engines and two helicopters
sitting for the whole month of August, and the engines
were all federal (local and severity engines). I hate
to say it but until we start making these federal
managers start stepping up and send their crews out
the contractors are going to keep getting more and
more of a foothold and will eventually will push us

It's pretty disappointing to go to a fire and be put
on a strike team and be the only fed engine on that team.

01/10 Here we go again. All you guys/gals complaining about Bush or whoever wanting to increase contracting and privatizing the federal fire service need to consider the reasons that they want to change.

1. We have done a lousy job of controlling costs on large fires, no one can argue that doing the job is not expensive, but seriously how many times have you seen IMT's hold on to heavy helicopters and insist on using them to heli-mop or just have them hang around the h-base at thousands of $ an hour and then make you show a lunch break. How much retardant has been dropped on the head of a running fire for political or other reasons only to have the fire, spot 1/2 mile past , or, burn through the retardant line.

2. Every Federal agency has tried to build it's own empire with separate but duplicate fire organizations from FMO/Fire Staff down to the crewpeople. I have long been an advocate of having one federal wildland fire agency. Look around, if you have an area that has BLM, FS, FWS, DOD, NPS or any combination of agencies, each of them has their own fire dept. The policies and objectives of each agency differ, granted, their fuel planners would be able to order needed resources either from the private sector or the federal wildland fire agency as needed when they had a project to do.

3. If you complain about contractors do you use the same standard to judge the agency crews? Are you trying to find a solution to the training and qualification problem or are you just crying because you "worked hard to get where you are at in your federal job" and are scared you might lose it?

The contractors are here to stay like it or not. If you are not actively working to help improve the crews and resources that are substandard whether they be private, local, state or federal then you are part of the problem. I was there when the first wave of private firefighters hit the beach and there has been great improvement in most of the companies in the last 15 years. Some of the contract companies have shown themselves to be leaders in innovation of new equipment and support systems way above anything we have come up with on the federal side.

4. We can and must be pro-active in making sure that we have the best, safest firefighting resources working doing the job. If we see things that aren't right we have to speak up when we see it. If you use tact and turn your pride down a notch you can effect changes in the people working around you.

No one wants poor performance or unsafe actions on the fireline, do what you can to help and quit whining. Who knows you might be one of them yourself someday if things progress towards privatization.


01/10 Firedog266

I have three questions for you..
1) are you Jealous of Contract crews and engines taking over
2) Did you know most Contractors or Old Fed Workers
3) I just want to let you know the grass ain't always greener on the other side of the Fence. I worked for the Feds for 10 years and it stinks.. I am glad you are where you are at I am fine where I am at so please don't put contract crews and engines down.. I was on a fire this year were I SEEn a few Gov Engines sitting around doin what they do best PLAY cards adn gossip.. WIll we are out there mopping up stump holes.. Granted we don't have a job from day to day like feds do but when we get to a fire we do our job to make a good impression on the DIVS. and who ever else is lookin on.. We aren't there to take away your fire fun but think about next time you wanta talk about Contractors.. 99% of them are old Fed and BIA and State.. so thanks for listening and be safe when you talk to a fire man..

Upset R6FF

01/10 Information not all completed yet or posted on web site, but:

Midwest Wildfire Academy
Jefferson City Missouri
May 28th - June 1, 2003

University of Missouri Fire/Rescue Training Institute
Summer Fire School
Classes for Structural and Wildland Fire Fighters

Wildland Courses:

D-110 Dispatch Reporter - 5/29-31/2003
I-300 Incident Command Intermediate ICS - 5/29-31/2003
??S-100 (think this should be I-200) Basic ICS - 5/28-6/1/2003?? (we're checking on it)
S-130 Firefighter Training - 5/28-6/1/2003
S-131 Advanced Firefighter Training - 5/28/03 & 6/1/03
S-190 Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior - 5/28-6/1/2003
S-205 (Use to be S-215) Fire Operations In the Urban Interface -5/28-5/30/03
S-211 Portable Pumps and Water Use - 5/30-6/1/03
S-230 Crew Boss (Single Resource) - 5/30-6/1/03
S-231 Engine Boss (Single Resource) - 5/31
S-260 Interagency Incident Business Management- 5/28-5/29/03
S-270 Basic Air Operations- 5/28-5/29/03
S-281 Supervisory Concepts & Techniques - 5/28-5/29/03
S-290 Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior- 5/29-6/1/03
S-390 Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior Calculations- 5/30-6/1/03


01/10 Ab-

On contract crews vs. fed crews:

I have heard that it costs approximately $6,000 a day
for a fed. hotshot crew, while a contract (type II)
crew runs a fire about $8,000 a day. Can someone in
the know provide some insight into this claim? i've
heard a similar claim about engines.

01/10 Ab-

Damn. I was really hoping that the scuttlebutt on contracting out fire was just that- scuttlebutt. Now, it's time to take things upa notch- Where is our "union" on this issue? Where are the links to our senators and congressmen? Let's get this rolling, because (personal interests aside) if we take fire out of the hands of a very large, organized and capable federal fire service and place it into the hands of a very small (comparatively) contingent of contractors, we're gonna' burn this country down!

Just for the record- not ALL contractors are incompetent mop-up machines. Nor are they Hotshot crews. They too are firefighters. They aren't the best- they aren't the worst. Let's have no name calling, please.

01/10 When units order a resource, why do they request ďAgency OnlyĒ? (This means, no contractors.) This happens for crews, engines, and sometimes miscellaneous overhead. This is something to think about government Ė BEFORE you jump into contracting everything out. Maybe you should be talking to units, and asking this question. Maybe, just maybe, if you do this, you may be able to correct a problem that exists with both contractors and government units. Itís pretty obvious to me that there are problems between the two...

01/10 After reading all the talk about the scuffle between contract crews and large fires etc etc...I must put in my thoughts. I also heard those rumors as far back as last February. Unfortunately they came from places as high as our state f.m.o. or else I probably wouldnt have believed them. Here is what i heard. Bush wants to cut the federal fire community by over 50%..and use private contract crews to manage and suppress all fires eventually. A hand full of incident management teams and national resources such as jumpers and shot crews would be kept around...but used sparingly. Apparently this plan could go into effect as soon as in the next few years. At first all large fires would be handed over to private crews...then eventually most I.A. would also be handed over....virtually diminishing the need for federal engine, helitack, type 2 crews and others.

Now my opinion. I think this sucks. I have worked hard to get where i am at in my federal job, and while it is not all roses all of the time, i wouldnt do anything else. Being from an area that uses contract engine alot ( but not dependent) i get the "opportunity" to see these people at work. I have had the pleasure time and time again of trying to figure out which contractor exactly stole this and that off my engine . It happens all of the time. Dont get me wrong...i have also worked with quite a few good contractors. But the majority dont belong there, and are there just for the money. They are unsafe, and have on a number of occasions been so much more of a hindrance then any help at all.

Just had to speak my peace about it!! If anyone knows anything concrete, please by all means let us know! I know that i am not the only one who has had to work this hard to get where i am at. And i know by all means that that i am not the only one who feels like this!! No hard feelings towards the contractors out there...I just call it like i see it.


01/10 Hey, us folks living in the Great Frozen Northern Rockies are glad to see that there's some heat generating again on "They Said": never could get the blood flowing to boiling over Dispatch computer systems.

Now, PSOB issues for contractors - that's real, emotional, HOT!
Seems like the first thing we have to do is identify who are "fire contractors"? Air tanker drivers: absolutely! Helicopter pilots: Yeah! Service truck drivers who crash and are killed enroute to a helibase? Fallers? Dozer Operators? Water Tender drivers? Caterers killed while driving to a fire assignment? Contract crews driving to Colorado from Oregon on a resource order??

Seems to me that we're all part of the fire organization, and deserve equal protection under PSOB!! The Armed Forces considers all their folks as "soldiers", whether an infantryman, jet jockey, cook, mechanic, nurse or clerk: all get equal benefits as part of the war-fighting operation.

On the other hand, the government agencies use contractors so that they don't have to deal with all the personnel issues involved with "employees", including PSOB. So, is there really an obligation to all "contractors" when they die in the fire suppression effort? Aren't those costs included in the contract cost? Maybe the "contract companies" should be taking out PSOB-level insurance policies on their employees in case they are killed on fire suppression activities? None of these comments are meant in any way to degrade the air tanker folks that have died over the years, but rather to stimulate some more of the excellent dialogue that opens our minds and keeps the juices flowing!


You can start a new hot thread anytime you like. Think there's something that should be discussed? Go for it. We do request that people try to stick to issues and not make personal slams, not that a person with a moniker like Mollysboy would ever stoop to fisticuffs in the parking lot. HAW HAW Ab.

01/10 Ab Note: This just showed up. Looks like it was sent on 01/08.

AZ Firefighter,

I myself am a displaced wildland firefighter. After
spending several seasons with CDF and about 4 with the
USFS on a Hot Shot crew, I took a job a year ago with
a municipal department. I have yet to see the fire,
camaraderie or fun that I once experienced in my
earlier days. They were incredible experiences that I
will always cherish. It was a real eye opener to see
what "the city guys" really do and how much fire they
fight (very little in comparison to what I used to).

Would I give up my present position to go back? Well
if I were a single man I might. Having a family to
care for now ($$) things would be prohibitively tight
if I went back to the FS or even CDF. There are other
ways to still get your fill of wildfire though, such
as becoming a part of an incident management team or
filling the various support positions during
wildfires. Even politicing your department into
mutual aid agreements with the local wildland agencies
can be an option. They may seem far fetched, but
where there's a will - there's a way.

01/09 RE: Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) for aerial firefighters (airtanker pilots and crew members)

Airtanker Pilots website http://www.airtanker.com/
Information on PSOB is on the main page under "HOT TOPICS."

Okay folks! The time has come! It is extremely important to move NOW on this issue by contacting members of the U.S. Congress.

I am asking you to contact the Congressional members from your state to support U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin's (R-WY) upcoming bill extending PSOB to aerial firefighters. She is planning to introduce the bill in February.

It is critical that you contact your representatives in Congress now -- to help everyone in the airtanker industry. Rep. Cubin will need co-sponsors for this legislation, and this is where we need your help.

You can find direct access to members of Congress for your state here:

Here's what we suggest you send them for the message:
I am concerned that airtanker pilots and other aerial firefighters are not covered by Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) like other firefighters are. Please co-sponsor the bill introduced by Rep. Barbara Cubin of Wyoming to include aerial firefighters in this coverage.

Thanks CH. That link to your congressional reps can be found on the links page under federal. It's easy to e-mail, snail mail, or call the local office (or all 3) and have a voice. Ab.
01/09 RE:Todd
people like you are a discrace to the fire community, you know some contract ff are ex fed employees lured away by the big money or maybe toward the end of their careers and want a little action, or a little extra money, people like you shouldn't be allowed on the fire line because you are going to hurt somebody, I've been in the fed fire system for over 20 years, but I guess iam to dangerous for you. I can tell you this, it's going to end up in the parking lot of fire camp is that what we want?
01/09 Here's something the fire world might just be interested in. Soon to
include the folks back East, too.

01/09 Todd + Ab-

Major bull$h*t! Nothing against contractors, but no way they can provide the level of expertise that regular shot crews possess. The current administration also needs to take into account the fact that we are federal. Public funding doesn't encourage corner cutting and unsafe practices.

01/09 Greetings all. I need help in contacting anyone in North Carolina Dept of Forestry.. id like
to do some work for them this year but i keep running into brick walls.. i am a engine
boss, crew boss,ICT-4.dozer boss.. i live north of charolette. can anyone help? thanks
brush 6
01/09 blackliner-

thanks again. Its seems everyone agrees overwhelmingly to stick with the
structure job, and get the dept. involved, Thats exactly what Im trying to
do. We are the most urbanized FD in AZ., but Rodeo-Chediski opened everyones
eyes to the need to get involved. Plus, many of or 150 FFs want to do
wildland assignments, so it will hopefully really take off with the 2003

It seems being in AZ is as good a place as any to be able to head to CA.
or NV, or NM, if Type I engines are needed. AZ is a bit behind with a
statewide mutual aid system, but 9/11 has really helped get one into place.
This will predominantly help the wildland fire side of things too of course.
great to see all the feedback on this site.


01/09 Yeah and contract crews don't get death benefits and the cheapest bidders may cut corners and before you know it, we'll be seeing videos of wings falling off contract groundpounders in mid fire. Way to set up a stupid system and let the FEDS at the highest appointed levels wash their hands of fire safety and accountability.

BS!!!  I,  I,  I say Buuuuuuullsheeet!

(AT guys, I'm attacking an underfunded system, not implying that your contractors employed unsafe practices.) But now I'm back and typing again, how will FED FF get experience with fire if contractors do fire? Will we eventually have overhead and teams that are made up of contractors? Why don't we contract out law enforcement and the military? Again I say Bullsh*t!

01/09 AZFirefighter-
I thought I ought enter into the mire of this muni./fed. argument, so here goes:
I've never been a structure/municipal firefighter, so my opinions are a little one-sided. As a Hotshot, we are heavily dependent upon making good OT. A bad fire year and my wife and dogs are eating tuna and mac and cheese (okay the dogs are still getting kibble). That's a bit of an exaggeration, but we are very dependent upon dry years. Sick as it is, it's how we do business.

I was looking at the starting SALARIES of structure ff's, and think that if you have a sweet gig going in TUscon, don't mess it up!

Any truth to the rumors that Bush wants to turn IHC's into Initial Attack Modules and leave large fires to contract crews?


That's the rumor - leave large fires to contract crews. Some rumor of leaving IA to contract crews too. We ain't gonna do it in R5. Ab.

01/09 Ab, Here is our Indy Parks and Recreation Wildland Fire Team logo.

We are apart of the City of Indianapolis, Indy Parks & Recreation from
Indianapolis, Indiana. We are responsible for more than 200 park
properties covering more than 19,000 acres of our county. One of our
parks consists of 4,341.88 acres of heavily wooded or grass areas (fuel
models 3 & 9.) Although we have 9 structural fire department that are
staffed will full time employees within our county, they all lack
wildland fire training and tools. Our fire team (limited to only 20
persons) was created due to prescribed fire operations. The team was
created just last year after several years as an unorganized group. We
receive our training from the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources. This
is probably way too much but thought I would send it anyways.

Thanks, Shane

We put it up on Logos 8. Ab.

01/09 THANK YOU! To all those who responded!! I really appreciate your comments.
It really put things into perspective. I actually have gotten my structure
department into the Az. State Land IGA, so we will be involved. However, we
dont have anything but Type I engines. However, we are going to pair up with
some other departments that have Type III and VI engines, but lack manpower.

Plus, I work part time severity stuff for the state on my structure days off.
So, most of everyones ideas are already falling into place. Northwest was
also something I thought about, however, it would also be a large paycut to
go to a "new hire" salary.

Thanks again...maybe one day some of you will begin to see Tempe, AZ. Fire
out on the line somewhere as a new wildland department.

AZ Fire Fighter
01/09 AZ Firefighter:

There are some structural fire departments in AZ that do wildland fire in the summer. When I lived in Tucson I worked as a seasonal wildland ff for Northwest Fire Department. Several of their structure guys work wildland in the summer. I saw them on the Modoc Complex in N. Cali in 2001, so they actually do get out to fires. If I was ever going to do structure I always think that it would be great to work for them because I would get to keep doing wildland in the summer.

01/09 Abís,

Just had a quick look at the new News Page. Looks good. Had a look at the Australian search and saw some stuff on the Malibu fires (probably an idiosyncrasy of the search engine).

While I was there a thought stuck me (ouch) and rattled around in my head for some time (a lot of people say I have not much up there).

Is there any official or unofficial difference between the terms?
2.Forest Fire
3.Wildland Fire
4.Brush Fire

I would think that Brush fire would indicate a fire burning through either the undergrowth or small trees (under 15 feet??) while forest fire indicates a fire in a forest including ground cover, under growth and large trees that might be in an urban or country region.

Last but not least so that all the theysaiders know where would you put the Oz term of Bushfire.

Aussie CFU

Search engines are not "smart" nor do they search for particularly meaningful words, just the ones that are submitted. We chose the ones we did because a search on those words usually yields stories about wildland fires -- or particular fires or fires in particular areas or air tankers. Sometimes a search on "wildfire" yields a story on pepper spray or something equally as strange. And sometimes there are overlaps because an article has the word wildfire in one sentence and forest fire in the next and wildland fire in the next. Journalists seem to like variety over specific meaning and may not use words based on their specific meaning unless they know wildland fire very well. Ab.

01/08 Ab:

I agree with the CDF Capt. who was just hired and may lose his job to budget cutbacks that the age discrimination shown by the Fed'sis just that- age discrimination. I got into the fire world full time just a year and a half back after being militia for years. It took a lot of work on many folks' part just to get me hired and we had to go thru a lot of rigamarole because I was past 37 and did not have enough time fighting fires to collect three years of credit to drop me below the age limits. As anyone who has perused the hiring, primary/ secondary FF positions all have age limits in. This blocks a lot of hiring and also discriminates against the slightly older, well qualified folks. It also blocks advancement for those of us who did make it in through the efforts of others. I'd like to hear any thoughts from folks out there.

On another note, it's high time we get Congress to enact legislation for portal to portal. But with the current affairs of State/ Fed budgets, I won't hold my breath. Best thing to do is keep the letters going to your Representative and Senators.

Hope all have a good, safe and productive season.

Cache King

01/08 Has anymore converted the old RX-340 (new RX-310) slide series onto PowerPoint yet??

01/08 AZ Firefighter, What planet are you living on??

Give up a high paying city job for a Fed wildland job.

Haven't you been paying attention to They Said for the last 6 months or
longer? We (Feds) get jacked around on portal to portal pay, retirement
and some of us have to pay back $ if we make too much.

28 seasons in Fed wildland and I'll get about $2000 a month for retirement
in a few years from now. Don't be daft man!

Unless of course you are tired of chasing heart attacks and car wrecks and
actually want to FIGHT FIRE for real then maybe this job ain't so bad after
all. Money and security aren't every thing after all.

Hope you figure out what you want to be when you grow up.

01/08 Trying to confirm the status of the locality pay adjustment for the R5
forests north of LA area? Does anyone have any info or good source to
track developments? also wondering about the portal to portal initiative?
Thanks again for all your help and work on a great web page.

Stanislaus NF
01/08 Hi Ab - hope your holiday season was terrific!

The folks at MTDC asked me to ask you to post a message. Please let your
participants know that there is now a source on-line for all the
publications and newsletters from the Technology and Development Centers at
both Missoula and San Dimas. The address is www.fs.fed.us/t-d/
This is an odd site - I believe they called it extra-net so users outside
the FS will be greeted with a box for user name and password. The
universal user name is t-d and the universal password is t-d.
I tried it from my FS computer and had direct access, and from a BLM
computer which brought up the box, and both user name and password worked
fine. The folks at both MTDC and San Dimas T&DC are encouraging anyone in
the fire community who wants to check out new safety items, equipment and
ongoing projects to check out the site.

To a safe new year - RD

Thanks for that RD. Someone sent it in more than a month ago and we put it on the Links page halfway down under Federal. Useful site. Ab.

01/08 RE JB and AZ, are you talking within the FS if you are they are the same
with no pay difference?

Hey guys just a word about the cohesion paper. Although i agree with the
author's premise about cohesion being an important factor on the fireline, the
paper draws on information that is incorrect and, if passed on, could be used
incorrectly. He states that the Squad Boss disregarded orders due to lack
of knowing the Crew Boss. When actually the Crew Boss and Squad Boss had
known each other for 11 years and worked together on many occasions. Also
if you look at the second report, the disregard order has been removed from the
report due to when, if, or how the message to "come down" was given. None of
the people on the hill ever heard the message. Although the deaths at Thirty Mile
didnt happen for the reason the author portrays, there still are some good points
about crew dynamics.

Well you guys enjoy the winter and take care.
Big Smooth

Eric gave you very good advice! If i were you, I would take his opinion to heart. The grass isnt greener by any means! Good luck!

01/08 P. Morgan:

I think you should contact Adair Enterprises, Inc. (Houston, Texas) directly. Red, The Hellfighter, himself might even help get you what you need. Also, The Texas Hall of Fame website has a couple of pictures of him, and even a cartoon drawing of him.

Semi-Frozen ExFF
01/08 Ab, This should get the young'n started


01/08 The Santa Anas abated yesterday afternoon allowing firefighters to get the upper hand on the SoCal fires.

The Smith Fire (Norco, 45mi from LA) is reported 100% contained at 151 acres as of noon yesterday for those who haven't heard. This morning the handful of personnel are continuing patrol.

The Pacific Fire (Malibu) is 100 % contained at 1300 acres as of 6AM. Still a lot of personnel on that fire (1,294) and they're improving line, mopping up and rehabbing. Demob today. Favorable weather conditions and ample resources help.

The Airport Fire (Catalina Island) was reported 45% contained at 245 acres last night at 6PM with minimal to no spread. 116 personnel were on the fire then. Projected containment at that time was for today at 5 PM.


Thanks Strider. Readers, remember to check the South Ops News and Notes site for possible updates if and when new fires break or to follow fires still burning. They do a pretty good job of keeping up with the year round fire situation in SoCal. Thanks you guys and gals. Ab.

01/08 Ab,

I did not notice if this was posted so this maybe old news. The following link is the NEW Forest Service online hiring/application program. Those interested in Seasonal jobs for 2003 will need to go through this process. This web site will allow folks to set up job profiles so that they can be notified of jobs when available, they can look at current job announcements and apply. This new procedure seems to be user friendly compared to the old method. One, NO HARD COPY C FORM to do. As well as the online app, everything is done online. The fire jobs can be found on menu 3 under announcements. When looking at the announcements you can check off a SHOPPING CART (donít ask why!) for each position interested in. Then it will place all your pertinent info as well as the job announcement stuff onto the application. Well good luck everyone!!


Laguna Jim

PS: Ab, This might be a link to add to your LINKS page. I for one will never be able memorize this one..

I'll add it to the jobs page under federal. Ab.

01/08 To Az fire fighter:

You're crazy. If you gotta go, apply for FF positions in Sedona,
Prescott, Flagstaff, to keep AZ PS retirement. They do a lot of
urban interface and send out crews thru AZ State Land.

GA MEDL trainee
01/07 Readers,

One of the Abs has created a new Wildland Fire News Page here at wildlandfire.com.

This new page allows choices among our standard FIRE topics for search, such as Wildfire, Forest fire, Wildland Fire, and Brush Fire. In addition, it lets us add new "current events" search topics as interest and articles dictate. Under current events we've included such topics as Malibu Fire, Air Tankers, and Australia Fires.

Happy Reading,

01/07 Re: 462

Hey Ab "What's the difference between a forestry tech and a wildland firefighter "- about 3 bucks??


Readers, any other answers to this question? Ab.

01/07 Abercrombie,

I am trying to find pictures relating to Red Adair, the famous firefighter, for a middle school project. Are you able to give me any leads or point me in the right direction?

Thanks for your time.
P. Morgan

Readers, can you help this young person? Was he really a twinkle toes firefighter nickname of Fred Astair? <tongue firmly in cheek>

Oh, now I remember, he's the famous Texas wildcatter who could blast those burning and blowing oil wells into submission whether on land or sea. Yep, my Texas relatives told me about him and his crew. Different kind of wildland firefighter, fer sure. Put out rig fires in the Gulf. Even went to Norway and put one out in the North Sea. His most famous tour - he was called to Iraq and Kuwait after the Gulf War to cap all the raging gushers and burners there.

Hey Boo or Keith, got any leads on photos and stories for this young'un? Seems to me there must have been a National Geographic or Discover article on his brand of wildfire fighting. I remember some TV special too 'bout 9 years ago. It's a TEXAS thang. Ab.

01/07 Ab,

As far as I know and what I have read, the new Avue hiring system stays open for the whole year and there are no rounds of hiring. With the old ASAP program there are still rounds 10-15 still open for Permanent positions only, the new temporary positions are done the new Avue on-line process.

For those who do not have the Avue on-line web site it is, www.avuedigitalservices.com/usfs/applicant.phpl or if you do not have computer access you can call toll free at (877) 813-3476,(866) 868-8354, or fax (208) 373-4285 for a hard copy application.

I hope this helps out a little, I am working real close with our fire personnel person who is really on top of the new hiring process. She is giving me lots of stuff to read that she gets from the Regional Office on the new process.

R-5 Recruiter

Thanks. Ab.

01/07 AZ firefighter,

Is the grass really greener? Most structural guys have an interest in wildfire, and most wildfire guys want the security of structural careers. Looks to me you have the best of both worlds. Push your department in the wildfire direction, and deploy as often as you can with them. I wouldn't risk the security of a union gig like that to play in the woods. Most departments pay better than the GS scale anyways.

I have a buddy in Spokane, he pushed the department to get more involved on the wildfire side of the coin. Now his sole job during the season is wildfire and interface protection. the rest of the year he works his 8-10 days and takes it easy. looks like fun to me.

this was probably of no help but i am bored, so here's my 2 cents.


01/07 The Jobs page and firefighter Series 462 and 455 pages were updated today.

There are some positions that say get your apps in by 01/20/03 even for the temporary positions. R5 Recruiter, do you know if that's the cutoff date for the first round of hiring? Several people have been asking.

Thanks for all the information for Martin, the German engine modeler. I cut and pasted or forwarded it all to him as per individual instructions.


01/07 Ab-

Thank you for posting the links to the thirty mile ppt report. I have read both reports now and find them very useful. Unfortunately, I was assigned to the 30 mile the same day of the entrapment, and ended up working just about three quarters of a mile down the road of the fatalities, mopping up. So the incident really struck me quite hard. Saw first hand the damage it did. It still bugs me alot about the upper deployment site. I can only say WHY?


R6FF, we all have questions when our people are hurt or die... or when there's a near miss... especially when we're close to the situation or the people. Best we can do is learn what we can from it and go on, striving to do better ourselves and teaching others the lessons learned to the best of our abilities. Even so, that often doesn't make things all better, more understandable, or easier to bear. Ab.
01/07 Ab,

I'm a full time Arizona municipal firefighter, who has a huge desire to be more in
the wildland side of things. Part time work in summer, but need more. Would
I be crazy to leave my high paying city job??? Anyone ever leave consider
leaving a city job to try and go full time with BLM or FS??? I have plenty
of wildland quals, as well as EMT and Haz. Mat. Tech. But, Im only getting
older, and concerned about retirement benefits down the road too (15 years?)
Need feedback for my own research/convincing, if the opportunity ever comes

AZ fire fighter

01/07 OldTimer-

I was a seasonal for three years before getting hired in the first round of the massive fire hire (2001). It's been good for me. Got bennies, more stability, etc.. I must say that in typical fs fashion, once I got status, I jumped ship and went to another more desirable location. In 10 years? Asst. SUp. or SUp. of an IHC.


Watch your butts out there Left Coasters! The wind she is a blowin...
01/07 Hi Ab,
and thank you and Nepper very much for your effort to help me out with
info. on the engine on the Engine 3 page.

It unfortunately seems like Aces High Wildfire doesn't have a website, but I
know what I have to look for, I will keep my eyes open.

Thanks a lot, and please tell Nepper, that I thank him too!

Best regards and a great year to you all!
Martin (the engine modeler from Germany)

Anyone know if Aces High has an e-mail address so Martin can get the information on that engine? A long distance call to them is really LONG for him. Ab.
01/07 From Firescribe: Some links to online news articles...

Malibu wildfire threatens homes amid fierce Santa Ana winds

Fierce winds topple power lines, spark Malibu wildfire

Arsonist faces 12 years for Colo. wildfire

01/07 I received a copy of Government Executive magazine today that includes an 6 page article on the
US aerial firefighting fleet written by Thomas McGarry a freelance writer from Oregon titled
"Burns and Crashes: Just when we need it most, the country's aerial firefighting fleet is
falling apart." It may be of interest to readers that post on the "They Said" portion of
your site.

This is the link to the magazine's page for this issue but as you can see they don't post the
articles online for a couple of weeks.



C, If you or any other reader could let us know then the online article comes up, we'd appreciate it. Thanks. Ab.

01/07 As of 0600 the Pacific Fire (Malibu, Santa Monica Mts, LA Co) was reported to be 2,200 acres, 10% contained, 200 homes threatened with mandatory evacuation in Encinal Canyon and Decker Canyon. More than 1000 ff on it with most being LA Co. 2 CHP had minor injuries when they were struck by a vehicle at a road closure.

The Smith Fire at Norco (Riverside Co, 45 mi E of LA) is still reported to be 150 acres and is 50% contained. 250 homes and a number of outbuildings and watershed are threatened. 143 personnel are assigned to the fire. Containment may be difficult if the Santa Anas continue to fan the fire in flashy river bottom fuels.


01/07 Now that we are 2+ years into the "fire hiring"...... I'd like to hear some
feedback from those recent hires. How is it going? Have the benefits and
training made a significant difference? Are you getting the training and
the opportunity to grow in your jobs? Have any of you already moved on
to even better permanent positions? Has your perspective changed as you
(hopefully) gain more understanding of how (whatever agency) works? Where
do you see yourself in 2 years...... 10 years?

Old Fire Guy
01/07 Ab,

Thanks for the new link to the Thirtymile fire ppt. report. Youíre a
lifesaver. This is a much more effective teaching tool than reading a 40 page text
file. Keep up the wonderful work you do on this web page.


Thank you Gary. Thanks also to MTDC for the training information on 30 mi Lessons Learned. You might want to consider discussing the role group cohesion plays in fire fatalities. The Crew Cohesion paper is available through the Docs Worth Reading on the Archives page and on the Site Map and HERE (about 300K pdf file - not too big). Forewarned is forearmed. Ab.

01/07 January 7th, 2003, 0400-0500 hrs:

Request for OES Engines to form up Strike Teams to respond to Southern California. Multiple engine requests from around the Bay Area County Fire Departments were called early this morning to staff their OES Engines to respond to Malibu.

Weather Reports are talking that these conditions will last for the next three days.

01/06 Things are poppin with the wind event.

The Latigo/Corral Fires at Malibu had 293 personnel on it at its height. Ended up being 20 acres and 5 acres. Hopped on it quick. 100% contained.

Airport Fire on Catalina Island was 75 acres at 1300 and 20% contained - 88 personnel. They had to get Navy Hover Craft to transfer personnel and equipment to the island.

The Pacific Fire - Anacapa View Dr and Trancas Cyn Rd (Malibu, LA Co) - 150 acres at 1500, 0% contained.

Smith Fire threatening the Norco community (Riverside Co) was 150 acres at 1800. This is a wind driven fire with sheeting and short distance spotting. 357 personnel on it. ATs and helos helped protect structures.

Looks like LA Co has its hands full.

Thanks Strider
Hey All,
Looks like South Ops has the 209's posted on their sitreport (Freezing's post below) that confirms Strider's info. It's nice to be able to see the details.

01/06 Howdy all... looks like South Ops got busy today due to their "wind event",
et cetera... here's a link to the south zone Sit Report:


Be safe out there... looks like some pretty active fire behavior despite
the recent rain!

01/06 Ab,
Not sure if this is real new news or not. It's hard to keep up sometimes.

Forest Service worker pleads guilty to arson in Colo wildfire


Must be real news, I saw it on CNN.

Here's another:
Mansions Threatened By Malibu Wildfires


01/06 Howdy Abs!

FKU CDF sent Strike Team 9430C to Malibu this evening for the latest round of winter fires. Latest rumor is 100+ acres with high winds. Anyone else going?

Captain Emmett
01/06 AB,

Hey i was wondering if you could post something for me. Just looking for shot crews that are still looking for temporary help. Location doesnt matter...theres too much cold where i'm at!! Thanks!

01/06 just happened to catch this accidentally, there's a special documentary
on the Weather Channel right now, South Canyon Fire.

I wish I'd seen a promo for this or had known it was on. It's pretty
good (8 minutes into it). South Canyon from the fire weather
perspective. Chris Cuoco input, too.

01/06 ECC1-
I saw a demo/display of the ROSS system at the NWCG-IRMWT conference in Las Vegas the first week in December 2002 (that's the computer/geek side of the NWCG). I talked for a little while with the ROSS reps and this was the gist of what I got out of it-

For CA season 2003:
-ROSS will be available to do update of resource status
-ROSS will not be used for dispatching IN California (as far as I understood it)
-Status can be updated to say available locally, regionally, or nationally (or all three)
-Status can be updated by the resource (that means you) over the internet (with a login)
-A resource can query ROSS through the internet looking at:
---locality (locally, regionally, or nationally)
---resource type
---a combination (I think) of the above

If I'm wrong on any of the above points, someone please correct me! I believe this system might help in communications, and understanding who is qualified for what and available where.

Now I'm not a dispatcher and I have never personally used the systems, but I like the idea of being able to set/check my own availability and check what is available locally when I am on an incident. In my position (non-operations overhead) on one CA fire this summer we were getting people from Florida when I know there were available people in CA sitting at the desks (we were making it a point to not name request). All the people we got from other regions were great- but we are supposed to look locally first and somehow that wasn't working.

And to those wondering... Yes, I am working with our dispatcher coordinators to try and figure out what the bugs were with our particular problem last season- I have a lot to learn before I understand it just yet.

A question (yes, I am a fire newbie)-
When a GACC declares it's at drawdown for resources (engines, crews, etc) will National stop calling that particular GACC for other types of resources (single resource overhead type positions)? I heard they will and just want to confirm this from the knowledgeable types who read this board...

Learning as I go-
01/06 Two photos from the pilot's perspective. Bucket Drops from the S-61. Photos
courtesy of Mike Burns, Pilot, Coulson-Pacific Helicopters.

Tom from AG

Another pair of photos with an unusual perspective. Put em on the Helicopters 9 photo page. Thanks Mike and Tom. Ab.

01/06 The Santa Anas are ripping a few blazes through Malibu.
Heads up All.

So Cal FF

01/05 anybody ever heard of a crew called inferno hotshots or r&b hotshots if so how to contact them i know they are based in oregon

01/05 From Firescribe:

Happy New Year. May it be a safe one.

From Oregon Live, Grieving Crews Answer the Call of Wildfires.

You SoCal firefighters --> be safe. The windy Fire Weather Watch days shout WATCH OUT.

01/05 To all who responded to the MIRPS/ROSS/WildCAD subject, I appreciate your replies. Here are a few thoughts on your comments and a couple of suggestions, lest I be blamed for complaining without offering solutions.

On general program development and user interface making navigation or training difficult:
In my opinion, this is the most significant problem with all wildland fire programs. One response here suggested the MIRPS un-intuitive interface was due to the "built-by-committee" design. I disagree, a group of people (hopefully subject matter experts) are necessary to provide the required program capabilities, oversight, and progress. MIRPS does function, to a certain degree. Where MIRPS and other fire programs fail is in their basic graphical interface, beginning with the opening screen (window). MS Windows, in some form or another has a monopoly on pc operating systems. There are various standards that all successful, commercial Windows based programs adhere to. There are standard Menus, Icon Bars, and Hot-Keys, among many others. Sub-items on the main menus may be program specific, and there may be more or less icons available, but an experienced Windows user will know where they should be able to find them. These universal standards, supporting a common graphical user interface, resulting in more effective user performance due to quicker learning ability, are an alien concept in our current program versions.

Specific MIRPS quirks: centered text on navigation buttons.
The English culture isn't used to reading text in this manner. Shift all the labels to be formatted left. To Save or Not to Save and where is that darn button anyway? All MIRPS users know what that means. Put the buttons, the SAME buttons, in the same places on the various screens. Nothing complicated about that. Currently, some screens are so different, it's like entering a whole new program, except for the "road to MIRPS" button, gott'a like that one. But why a double-click to make a selection from its menu? Ya ever watch a new user sit and click that menu once, then sit and wait? And if only there was a hot-key combo for it.

On the ROSS system "overloading" or "bogging" down with excessive data or traffic:
This should not be an issue. Properly designed and implemented software or hardware will not suffer these symptoms. One of the biggest, most successful, and dependable web sites around is EBay. Ya think the ROSS system database or user traffic, even in the most hectic times, can compare to the volume of business EBay routinely handles? If ROSS bogs down due to content or traffic, it's a software hardware design flaw. I should think this issue would have been at the very top of the specifications list.

"Bottle necks":
From my point of view, the biggest delay in processing (inter-region) resource requests are the GACCs and NICC, with NICC being the largest time sink. It isn't the ordering units or the dispatch centers finally receiving the requests, and it is seldom the result of any computers or software used. I'm not blaming the GACCs or NICC, they do what they can with what they have.

You dispatchers know how when things get real busy that your GACC may just give up on MIRPS and fax out a shopping list of overhead resource orders? Yours may not, but mine does. I like the idea, it saves the GACC time by allowing them to shotgun the outstanding orders to all forests instead of slowwwwwly MIRPing a handfull here and there, then sitting back, waiting for a response, then doing it all over again.

Since I am not yet real familiar with ROSS, maybe it already exists, but if not, I suggest: For overhead, equipment, and supply orders, have a report available in ROSS so dispatch centers can go and view a list of outstanding orders. Why wait for NICC to dole out the orders to GACCs, then to ECCs who don't have the resources in the first place? Allow the dispatch centers to go shopping online for assignments. Better yet, have the report on a site so all fire going personnel can see what's available. They may be statused as unavailable, but see a position they would be willing to modify their status for.

An overhead resource sees an assignment they like, they call their dispatch center, the dispatch center fills the order in ROSS and the requesting unit immediately sees the request has been filled. Nice huh? No GACCs or NICC to slow things down.

I imagine there are those who won't like the above idea of overhead selecting or "cherry-picking" assignments and that the GACCs and NICC would feel a terrible loss of control. But let's face it, for quite a few years now, overhead has become increasingly selective on where they will and won't go anyway. Especially non-operations overhead, yes, and dispatchers too. As for a loss of control, each forest/district/unit has their own drawdown policies in place and they could still enforce them. Just because an overhead wanted an assignment doesn't mean they would be allowed to go. Coordination between the dispatch center and their GACC would keep GACC drawdown to acceptable levels. Closest resources concept? Let's see, I had a radio operator from Maine last year and I'm on the West Coast. This issue could be overcome with a time delay per order. After three hours of availability, the closest filling unit gets the position. Or how about local units bidding on assignments, what if a sending agency would agree to pay transportation costs?

And that's enough for now, I don't know where that last sentence came from, I've most likely had too many cups of coffee this morning and my imagination is running away. But, as one of my leaders is fond of saying, "Get outt'a the box!". Sorry for the length of this one Ab!


Thanks for offering suggestions for solutions. Ab.

01/05 MIRPS/ROSS and ECC1

I had the opportunity do do a little head hunting for aviation resources
for NICC. What I found out was South Ops used MIRPS and had a hard time
with moving resources in and out of R5. The South Ops answer was to send
the resource "HOME" even though they had 7 or more days left on their
tour. MIRPS being an R5 thing, it does not work very well with resources
from other areas. North Ops did not seen to have the same problems as
South Ops. Matter of fact North Ops did a bang up job of getting
resources for out of R5 dispatches.

ROSS will take a few more YEARS to work out the bugs, but I think it
will do a good job, but not a perfect job. Its the old adage "GIGO", if
the data is not current and accurate then ROSS could lead to resource
shortages and the possibility of having unqualified resources
dispatched. The same can be said of ALL dispatch systems is that the
data must be current and accurate.

Also the catch 22 of the last few years has been to bring me to NICC and
find aviation people to fill open resource orders, but the GACC's and
NICC would not fill the resource order with the folks I found. WHY, you
ask? Because the people I found do not have their name on an
availability list somewhere. I do have to be honest and say most years
the GACC's and NICC do fill the orders with folks I find, but it only
lasts a short period till some dispatcher gets their panties in a wad
because I found someone who the GACC etc. said was unavailable.

01/05 Todd,

Most likely somewhere the first wildland fire for the year was in Aussie or
New Zealand. If your talking about the lower 48, either SO CAL or AZ.

Anyways, happy new year to all. Hey, Does CDF still exist??? LOL, just
kidding, but did notice that their official web site is "temp unavailable."
I hope that they not down like the DOI/Bureau of Indian Affairs site. We are
still down and rumor has it, we will never be up again!

AZ Trailblazer
01/05 WWUS76 KSGX 042147


230 PM PST SAT JAN 4 2003


230 PM PST SAT JAN 4 2003



130 PM PST SAT JAN 4 2003



12 month fire season again... despite the little rain we've had!!

Everyone PRAY FOR EL NINO!!!! SoCal needs a little break!!

01/05 Ab,

A USFS website had an interactive timeline of events surrounding the Thirtymile incident. It had pictures and diagrams of the exact events in order, who was where and aerial photoís and such. Do you know what happened to that webpage? Are you familiar with what Iím talking about? I am putting on Basic wildland FF class for a group of Paramedics/EMTís this March and that presentation would be a great lesson.

Seems like a lot of the USFS websites are down over the holidays.

MEDL trainee

Gary, you're right. We had all those Forest Service locations linked both from the Site Map and the Documents Worth Reading on the Archives page and I found they're no longer linked. I'm updating now. The FS has a new web and some of these things that have been bookmarked or linked have changed. We always appreciate a heads-up on broken links.

You can find the links to thirtymile on the FS Fire and Aviation Site. Here's the new link to "Lessons from the Thirtymile Fire". There's a table of contents that has links to the chronology. Also, if you click on their "next" page, there is a link to the Thirtymile Fire Investigation Report. It's in pdf and is fairly large (7000+ K), but it also has the time breakdown you describe.

I just corrected our links to the Final Investigation Report (pdf file). I find that the Final Investigation Report is now Final #2 and I can't find links to some of the other documents like the Executive Summary, the Management Evaluation, and the Index of the 30 mile Investigation including the 10/16 Amendments. Does anyone have updated links on those? Can someone from MTDC or Boise fill us in on how the Final Investigation Report changed when it became the Final, Final Investigation Report? Presumably the Amendments etc were incorporated.


01/05 Ab, here's another retirement to notice.

Elliott Graham served as the District Ranger for the Cajon and then the
combined Front Country Ranger District's of the San Bernardino National
Forest from 1984 - January 3, 2003.

Elliott stealthily slid out of the office yesterday... But we don't care...
we'll all see him at his retirement party and say our good-bye's there.
Anyone who is interested... the flyers are out!!


01/04 Anyone know when and where the first wildland fire of the new year was?


01/04 Update on Tom Hutchison's Retirement Party from Mellie who got it from the party flyer. If you want the whole (almost 900 K pdf) flyer, for printing and/or the map, click HERE.

Time: February 15, 2003
   5:30-6:30 Happy Hour Cash Bar
   6:30-7:30 Buffet Dinner
   7:30 till ?
Place: Palmdale Ramada Inn, 300 W Plamdale Blvd, Plamdale CA.
(To reserve a room call 661-273-1200.)
Dinner Cost: $22
To RSVP call 661-296-9710 ask for Margo.
Make check payable to Sean Lawler.

Information for contacts:
Jo Hall
Angeles NF
Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers Ranger District Office
30800 Bouquet Canyon Road
Saugus, CA 91390
(661) 296-9714

Home: (661) 263-8218
Cell: (661) 609-1741

! Please note: I am in search of photos, stories, etc. for video
presentation. Please contact me at the numbers listed above.
Thanks ~ jo

Reservations and Guest Speaking:
Margot Butler
Angeles NF
Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers Ranger District Office
30800 Bouquet Canyon Road
Saugus, CA 91390
(661) 296-9714

Ceremony Coordination:
Shawn Lawler
Angeles NF
Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers Ranger District
Big Pines Information Center
Wrightwood, CA
(760) 249-6005

01/04 Dear Sir,
I just visited your WebSite and I really enjoy it. Well done!

Among other images, I saw one (the Gazelle helicopter crashed into trees 1976, "Helicopters 8" File) which I'd like to have in my collection. Please tell me is there any chance to get (buy) a copy of that your photo? Of course, I'll gladly cover all costs.

Also, I'd like to know have you any more Gazelle helicopter photos? If yes, please send me a list. Thanks in advance for reply.

Best regards from Croatia,
Stipe Zivaljic

Hey Papa, you reading? That's your photo and I can't find your e-mail address to see if you're interested. Abby.

01/04 Hey Ab,

Happy New Year from R-5. It feels good not to be working seven days a week.

Interesting Mirps/Ross stuff. Mirps is an Intranet Based program. You need access to the CDF net to get on, and the program needs to be installed on your computer. Ross is an Internet Based program. If you can get on the internet and have a password, you can get on.

Computer programmers know how to write programs, they don't know anything about resource ordering or ICS (unless they happen to have a fire background). We have agency representatives that work with the Ross people to communicate our needs. We even have retired FS folks that work for Ross. My two cents would be for Ross to start as a communications link between the GACCs and NIFC. Having worked at NICC, I have seen the famous resource ordering "bottleneck" first hand. I think once it's on line and all the bugs are worked out, Ross will be great (probably two years after the start- up). I dabble a bit in programming myself and a program such as ROSS is a fairly complex task (lots of linked tables, screens, menus and queries, not to mention reports).

In Region 5 we also use Mirps to aid us in our initial attack. GACCs generally don't do IA. In fact my first assignment to a GACC, I kept looking for the radio. They don't have any (R-5 has the way cool intercom system which connects all the command centers and GACCS). Ross is not an IA tool. Also when Mirps goes down, we revert back to the old ICS 259-1 cards and the telephone and smoke signals. In the ever more complex world of dispatching, Ross is just another one of the programs that we need to learn.

In region 5 we will probably be using both Mirps and Ross at the same time. It might be time for me to go back out in the field.

Another R-5 Dispatcher

01/04 Hi,
a happy new year!

I am a modeler from Germany, and I found your site by chance. Looking
through the pictures I found a group of three interesting trucks, based on a
Ford F350 as I assume. They feature a stainless rear structure, four wheel
drive, yellow custom bumpers and yellow wheels. They are on the Engines 3
photo page, and seem to be newer units.

Would it be possible to get more information about these vehicles? Maybe
more pictures or which company produces them?

Thank you very much in advance
Best regards

Readers, any info? Ab.
01/04 AB:

Another loss for the FS'ers is Tom Hutchinson. Tom retired 1/3/03 as DFMO (Division Chief for the newer dirt throwers) on the Angeles, Mojave River District (Saugus, Valyermo and a piece of the Tujunga District for you gray beards). Tom was one heck of an IC on CIIMT 4. The green truckers will miss his expertise and knowledge. Good luck Hutch!


01/04 Ab,

Oh no, not Charlie, too! So many retirements just now.

I heard that Hutch, Tom Hutchison, is retiring in February, but maybe that's just when his party will be celebrated. I got a request for some photos for that. Anyone know his retirement date for sure? I was at his party when he tenured out as CIIMT 4 IC. It was grand. What a fine guy and knowledgeable leader! Another one of those fire dogs who have helped me fill in the many chasms in my fire knowledge. Well, I might have to be looking through my pictures for several to embarrass him with. Hmmmmm, Flaps Down, must find that one.... His team was the last one that closed out the Big Bar Complex in the rain at Pookie. Some stories there...

Hutch, if you're reading, I love ya Dude! You too, Charlie Gripp. <smooch> Heh, Charlie, I won't have to suffer any more safety admonitions from you at least in a professional capacity! Just kidding, of course!

Thanks to you both for your help.

On another note, I'm looking for some logos from the past for a project. I need pictures of the logos or patches of the Los Prietos from 1967 and the El Cariso from 1969. I could also use any photos of Hayfork FS fire from around 1971.

Thanks All,

WP, you're right about Joe's belt buckle. <chuckle>

Check the next post on Hutch's retirement. Ab.

01/04 AB:

Another famous or infamous person retired from the FS'ers 1/3/03. That being Region 5 Fire Safety Specialist Charlie Gripp. Worked with Charlie back in the "yester" years when he was a crewman, then HotShot sup on the Stanislaus: then DFMO ( for you youngsters, that old for Division Chief) on the Angeles and Lassen. Was Type 1 OPs and DIC on CIIMT 2 prior to the regional assignment. Knowing him, working with him was always been, as Gus told Captain Call in Lonesome Dove "....it's been one hell-va ride!"

Good luck Charlie or sometime known as 'olde slippery'!!


01/04 Mellie,

Was looking at the pictures that you "alleged" were Joe Stutler at
Big Bar. Can't possible be him--- all that know Joe will agree the
belt buckle is not near big enough!

01/04 Here are an interesting series of photos from Ben Croft USFS / MTDC. I put them on the
Helicopters 9 photo page. Ab.

These are all part of a series of photos taken during a training rappel at Moyer Helibase ID.
Signals Rappelers to Begin: Moyer Rappel spotter Heath Hand gives the signal to "begin rappel" to the two rappellers who will rappel from each of the two sides of the helicopter.
Rappellers Begin: Heath watches the hardpoints as rappeller Ben Croft (hands and feet visible) and Russian rappeller Leo Zhirovsky (on far side of helicopter) begin their rappel.
Easing Down: Rappeller (& photographer) Ben Croft eases down the skids of 166EH high above the helibase. Leo will be doing the same on the other side of the helo.
Going Vertical: Ben goes completely vertical underneath the ship to create an easier hover for pilot Len Paur.
Leaving Skids: Ben leaves the skids and begins his descent from 200 feet.
Sliding Down 1&2: Moyer Rappellers Ben and Leo quickly slide their way to the ground far below. The person you see in the photo is the Russian rappeller Leo Zhirovsky, as Ben Croft has the camera on his helmet (at least that's what Ab thinks). Ben's rope is in the photo on the lefthand side.

Thanks also to NorCal Tom for the other photo on that page and to other contributors for photos on Handcrew 7, Biscuit and Fire 15 and Fire 16 photo pages. Fire 16 has a photo with fire goblins. How many can you find? Ab.
01/04 Ab's,

Happy New Year to all! Here are a couple more pictures from the AG file.

Tom from AG

Thanks Tom, nice Rappel Sunburst, Pines Fire Silhouette, and neat one of the AG and LP Crews after extinguishing part of the Sudden Fire. Ab put 'em on the AG Flight Crew page.

01/03 The Jobs page and firefighter Series 462 and 455 pages were updated today.

Some great new photos have come in. We put some of them up the Equipment 5, the Miscellaneous 2, and the Engine 5 photo pages. Please click on the titles under the photos for their descriptions.

Thanks contributors. We'll put up some more tomorrow.


01/03 Joe,

I also wish you the best in retirement from the FS.

I can remember the first time I met you and your team, I was DIVS on a campaign fire and had worked with a number of teams before yours. I was very impressed with your style of interacting. In transition you got all the DIVS together, sat down with us in the field and asked what you could do to support us and the communities we had been working with. Very professional way of smoothing transition which can be a "watch out" time.


01/03 Happy Retirement, Joe Stutler, IC of PNW CIIM Team 3. We'll all miss your leadership, professionalism, and fun.

Thanks for helping introduce me to the team side and serious issues of the fire world. I'll never forget the "tutoring" and warm encouragement you provided me back in 1999 and early 2000. Wow, and many thanks for answering my phone calls thru the years, even when I've had oh-so-many questions.

Joe, I know we're not really loosing you from our fire world, you're just changing your role within it. Still, we have all gotten used to counting on you. At least I hope you aren't going completely away, Mr High Pockets! After all, what is there but FIRE?


PS. I just had to share these photos from the Big Bar Complex at Willow Camp, 1999. Good meeting at Denny toward the end of the Big Bar. I liked it that you didn't even flinch at the gunshots off in the distance. Lots of laughs with team members and others. Nice lassoing the legs of all those willing who walked by, specially the "girls". Did ya keep that up? Maybe you're going to join the rodeo circuit when you grow up? Ah, your retirement makes me a little nostalgic, my friend.

01/03 Aber:

I know some of you have some current fire management issues to discuss here, so I will try not to take up too much of everyone's time.

It is Great to hear from (and talk to) some of you old fire dogs from the past. I am glad that some of you are still alive and out there. I was wondering for a while if I were the only one. I enjoyed hearing from Bob G., the Ortega Hwy/Trabuco/Cleveland N.F. Engine Crew veteran (now that was a gruesome job assignment if there ever was one) and his experience on F.S. Engine Crews in the 70's. I always had tremendous respect for those boys, even more so after I later had the wonderful experience of humping a few progressive hose lays of my own up some vertical, rattlesnake infested, brush-choked slopes in 110 degree heat.

To ret. ICIIMT Team 4: I am likely the Harv Dabling you know, since I did in fact get out of Utah State (the University, not the prison) in 1973. Contact me at harveyd@trib.com if you want. Now I'm curious who you are.

To John S. from Napa: Really enjoyed hearing of your experience with Del Rosa Shots..... especially since it actually pre-dated my own time. It just kills me that you guys had to purchase your own safety gear for the fireline. And I thought we had it bad! But as for your old Foreman Jim Burner --it sure sounds like his fireline savvy and good judgment was right on that day. I'm sure you would agree, he may have saved your lives that day. I'll take a foreman with 'good judgement' over one with 'unbridled bravado' any day, right? BTW, the guys at El Cariso always had the highest respect for the Del Rosa crews (we also thought a lot of Redding Hot Shots, and Los Prietos. There seemed to be some pretty severe friction between us and the Oak Grove Hot Shots though.) But we always thought Del Rosa was top notch....real blue chippers. They could damn well cut some serious fireline in ahurry, and many of us were in awe of how they never carried more than two-quarts of water with them. I myself always carried three quarts, and usually had a smokejumper canteen stashed in my pack, and even then I sometimes ran low. Water was so crucial at times....worth its weight in gold to a person. At times, I saw fistfights break out over drinking water on some of the inmate crews. I don't know how Del Rosa survived those hotline assignments (in those full canvas Filson vests, no less) with only two canteens, but they did. I always thought at least one or two of them would topple over from heat exhaustion, but they never did. That two-quart drinking water limit was a pride thing with them. They had cajones, I'll tell you, those early 70's Del Rosa guys. They were tough.

Ab: I agree with Old Fire Guy that a 'Lost and Found Firefighters' section would be nice.
For all of the rest of you: Good luck in all you do and be safe out there on the lines this summer. I'll be pampering my pudgy worn out middle aged bod with a cold beer and air conditioning somewhere, but part of my heart will be out there with all of you. You can hold your heads extremely high as to how you make your living.

Since I am no longer employed by an government agency, and because there are only one or two guys out there with reason (and probable desire) to kill me, I will go ahead and sign off with my own real name. Thanks for allowing me to look back a little bit on the past.

Harv Dabling

An' Ab was sure that had to be a moniker.

01/03 Re: Fire control notes,
If any of you are fortunate enough to have/find a stash of these old publications its well worth your time (for the laughs at least) to peruse your way through them, especially from the 40's-60's. Pretty amazing the ideas that people came up with. Im not sure if the "rotary fire swat" or the "fireline flail trencher" are my favorites. (...and I'm not going to mention my great idea of a super Mcloud)

As I was putting my 2cents worth in the fire equipment survey a few weeks ago, I couldnt help but be reminded of a few of these old tried and failed ideas as some of the questions led you to believe "they" are looking at some of the same ideas. Who knows, maybe with the induction of some of todays technologies some of them actually might be realistically feasible. ...but Im not holding my breath.

01/03 Response to JB from 12/22 for USFS jobs

I am a new CDF Fire Captain hired from the "Open List" and I am waiting for the other shoe to drop regarding the next budget and we all know who will be the first to go. In order for us to be hired the CDF had to obtain a special provision from the Governor's Office since there was no signed budget last June when we were notified of our selection as new Captains.

To the point. Because of the uncertainty of the current job situation I did recently apply to a federal fire agency for a permanent full time Engine Captain position. I made the Cert and was invited for an interview and tour of the facility, I was impressed with the squared away crew, I could be happy working for them. Then my age came up and the federal Primary Coverage Enhanced 6c rule or law or whatever is really is. Actually this very issue was discussed in depth at CDF Academy last summer among all the new Captains since the youngest among our new Captain BFC 152 class was 36 years of age. There were 22 men in our class and the age range was 36 to 56. We discussed the fact that all of us had come from the USFS, BLM, Municipal, County, and Private fire agencies and that age discrimination was definitely a fact in this federal Primary Coverage law. Scuttlebutt among the CDF brass was that the federal law was age discrimination and would not hold water in a court of law.

After the interview I was told that they wanted to hire me but the age was an issue. I told them that apparently it wasn't since I was offered a PFT USFS Captain job last May in R5. I showed the FMO my offer/acceptance letter from the USFS personnel office, ( I did not take the May job since the CDF made a better offer), and he and I forwarded it to the regional personnel office. The personnel office manager called me and said that they could hire me as a fire temp but not as a PFT because I was over 37. They said they could go ahead and hire me but when the paperwork caught-up they would have to let me go, (personnel even said that someone made it for 4 years until the paperwork caught-up and they hade to terminate the individual). This FMO was not very pleased with the Primary Coverage rule and said that his crew needed the experience that I and others my age have. He is correct they do need experienced personnel, the CDF saw this fact and that is why they hired us as well. Anyway this is what I have experienced with the feds and their hiring procedures versus the state and their personnel policies.

All I want is stability and the knowledge that I will be able to provide for my family in six months and in ten or fifteen years, so far no guarantees!!

Capn 152

01/02 Here is some info and pictures relevant to the discussion of early versions of the fire shelter.

I have attached some pictures of prototype fire shelters that were being tested in 1961.This is from an article in "Fire Control Notes" January 1961. Apparently research and work on designs began in 1959. You can see the Teepee/Conehead design as well as some Tin Man Suits that didn't make the cut. A design similar to the most recent style is also pictured but apparently lost out to the Cone style in the first production runs.

These designs were tested by being placed 40 feet from piles of scrap lumber 15x20x7 feet in size that burned intensely for 2 hours. That would be an interesting place to deploy! Also it seems that protection from heat was the main objective, with no reference in the article to protection of airways. The caption under the "after" picture of the Cone indicated temps of 300 degrees inside the shelter!


Interesting... Here they are: Shelter 1, Shelter 2, Shelter 3, Shelter 4. Ab.
01/02 Does anyone have any pictures of the old first trial fire shelters?
They were before my time.

Have a Happy and Safe New Year, Everyone.
(M, glad you're getting better. All the wl ff dolls I've seen look
a very little bit manic while apparently looking solid. haha)

Tahoe Terrie

See the next post. Ab.

01/02 Great to see some other "old timers" on the site. Some make me feel young
by comparison. Have not seen Harv since '73, good to hear from him.
Hey Ab(s), how about adding a "lost and found" section to this site. I'm
looking for John Robert Pugh (and others) of the '73 El Cariso crew. Any
other old timers (Joe Cruz?) lurking out there?

Old Fire Guy

We could do that, with a link from this page. Lemme work on it. Ab.
01/02 Ab,
We had fire shelters at del Rosa in 1964. They were conical shaped, like an inverted sno-cone or tee-pee. They were called "fire tents." To assume the position, you squatted and held two web handles at about shoulder height. The training film may still be available from the R5 film library in the RO. We used ours a few times on the line for sleeping bags during cold night shifts. After each use we re-rolled them and put them back in their cases. I wonder how well they would have worked with all creases in the aluminum coating.

In '64 on a Southern California forest, believe it was the Cozy Dell fire, I saw the El Cariso deploy. Del Rosa and El Cariso were to drop off a road, work down hill to the fire. Frequently our crews would worked side by side on the same piece of line. There was a strong feeling of competition between the crews. This was at night. Our foreman (Jim Burner) refused to take us into what was, to him, an unsafe situation. We stood by the side of the road as the 2 El Cariso crews walked by and went over the side. I can't say we felt real proud at that moment. Later the fire made a run and we watched as El Cariso deployed their shelters. By the way, our "Lead Hook" that summer was Joe Cruz (Humboldt State class of 1966) who retired two years ago as National Director of Fire and Aviation Management.

John S
Napa, CA

01/02 Have been reading the posts about shelters and orange shirts.

Welp, when i started on the job in 67 at Los Prietos, we were issued the old orange shirts, the new green treated pants to wear over our frescos and the big fire shelters. Aluminum hard hats were the deal of the time. The shirts and shelters had been around about three years as I remember the crews wearing them on the San Berdo a couple years before I started. We bought all our own gear and that was the way it worked. The yellow shirts started to show about 71 or 72, the aluminum hats were being phased out beginning 'bout 75 and in some regions later than that.

Also the Harv Dabling that posted here, are you the one from Utah State circa 72-75?

Welp, enough from this old guy.
Sign me: retired IC CIIMT team 4

Welcome ol' retiring fire guy. Nice to have you sharing info here. Ab.

01/02 Okay, this is all making a little more sense in my head. Correct if I'm
wrong- so MIRPs isn't terrible ALL the time, just when things are goin'
gunny and the system itself has has lots of IA traffic in particular.
Like say a lightning bust that produces a bunch of new starts in 1
hour, or something like that. Span of control is then exceeded? and
less knowledgeable dispatchers are brought in and they aren't
necessarily on the same page exactly as everyone else? This is
compounded by the MIRPS user interface not being that intuitive or easy
to learn. All this results in delayed resource assignment, which pisses
people off. That sound right?

BTW, user interface is a big thing that most tech types have a lot of
trouble with. Computer programmers don't understand very well the
psychology of making a system intuitive or natural-seeming. This is why
tech companies like Apple go out of there way to point out that
learning to use their products is easy and headache free. A LOT of bad
software is designed with the programmer more in mind than the user.

Thanks for all the explaining.
The Nomad
01/02 Hello Abs and Happy New Year!

Just thought I'd share a MIRPS anecdote with you.
While on some fire this summer, I curiosity got the
best of me and I did a web search on MIRPS to see if I
could find some web based training and maybe
understand some of the little boxes better.

What did I find? You've got it... Lots of pages about
the Modified Improved Reserve Parachute System. Some
Army thing. Somehow it seemed appropriate.


01/01 I have worked with MIRPS in all of its versions over the years of
development. Is it perfect? No, of course not. What is? Is it better than
the old manual way? Of course it is, MUCH better. I would say that the
toughest time seems to be during IA, as it is, in most cases, another
computer to type at, in order to get your IA resources on the way, in
addition to dealing with the Intercom (in Calif), CAD, 911, the initial
dispatch, radio traffic, other emergencies, etc etc.

I have worked in crazy GACCs and expanded ECCs with MIRPS, and this year, in
an expanded dispatch center hosting 5 Type 1 or Type 2 IMTs at one time,
using the cards. Which would I rather use? No doubt, MIRPS. It requires less
people for the given amount of work- I would say about 50% less staffing at
the GACC level, maybe only 20-25% less at the ECC Expanded level. It is much
easier to transition across shifts, as the little notes and special info is
easily found and read by different shifts or personnel. When a mistake
happens, a trail can be found much easier than on the cards. When there are a
number of large incidents screaming for resources, I find it much easier to
reassign thru MIRPS than in a insanely busy Expanded GACC with several
people all working that type of resource. Overall the record keeping and
status keeping is significantly easier, even with the huge number of
resources Calif has.

I am not a computer guru, but I understand MIRPS is an extremely complex
data base program. When CDF/USFS tried to take it statewide, it bogged down,
as the additional data was a huge addition. But that was fixed in time. When
ROSS goes national, I would expect the same bogging down, if not worse.
Computer technology is continuously evolving. So will MIRPS and ROSS.

the shoe
01/01 With all due respect, I think that the photo on the Moose Fire page labeled "weather station" is actually a repeater being set up. I dont see any instruments and the fire raws stations usually have a circular polarized antenna. The one in the photo is vertical polarization and the yellow box looks like a National Radio Cache box.


Thanks for the input, Tim. We just put 'em up as we get 'em. Anyone else got info on this photo? The sender of that photo is in "use it or loose it" vacation mode and still has time away. We'll ask him when he gets back. Ab.

01/01 The Nomad,

WILDCAD is Great!!! Check it out if your center has it. MIRPS is better after 5 year of operating. ROSS is a not real new, some GACCs have been using it for a year or so. The main issue (not problem) is training all dispatchers, temp dispatchers, and ALL the expanded dispatchers. Some of those expanded folks only go out once or twice a year, some every other year. Militia so to speak. The tech. is there and I truly believe it will be a great program, it is just going to take time to teach those who need to know it. All programs have a learning curve and ROSS is just at the beginning of that curve.

I suggest if you are really interested or just curious ask your local dispatch if you can come in for a day and see the programs and how they run. I think all firefights should spend a day or so in dispatch seeing what all we do. Better yet ask for a two week assignment.

Help any?

R3 Dispatcher.

01/01 Nomad,

In regards to ROSS, the biggest problem was teaching the developers (Lockheed Martin I believe) the ins and outs of dispatching. Also, the ROSS team tried to incorporate as many applicable business rules into the system as possible.

Then there's the whole issue of importing qualifications. With ROSS, when a resource is filed, you can look at it and see specific info about it. For example, if you order a T3 engine, you'll be able to see if it has extras like SCBAs, CAFS, and the like. With overhead, you'll be able to see all the persons quals, not just what you ordered them as. Well this created quite a stir. Most everyone has all this information already loaded into either Redcard (FS), IQS, (states) or IQCS ( DOI agencies) and nobody really wants to reinput thousands of qualification records into ROSS that they already have current in another system. So a big deal that finally seems to be solved is that ability to "import" qualification records from the individual qualifications systems into ROSS.

Another thing that has been a thing the ROSS team has worked on is making the system user friendly. By that I mean putting things in places that make sense. Instead of making it so you have to open a new screen for every little thing, you will flow in a logical progression from screen to screen.

On the ROSS website, you can follow the training links to an online tutorial that gives a pretty good overview of the system. It's a beta (trial version) but it gives a good overview in plain english. Great for those management types who know what Dispatch is, but that's about it. http://elara.nwcg.gov/ROSS_Web_Training/frameset.php.

in the Eastern Area

BTW Happpy Holidays to all.

01/01 CNN just announced that the Biscuit Fire is "officially" out, 172 days after it began. With the rain we've had, I wouldn't be surprised. But neither would I be surprised to find holdovers in the spring.

NorCal Tom

01/01 R3 Dispatcher & others,

Okay, so understanding a little bit about computer programming, the
headache & confusion you talk about doesn't make sense. Creating a
program to track resources as you suggest seems like it would be
relatively simple given modern technology. So what is the root of the
problem? Is it that the FS/BLM/CDF developers have the dispatch know
how but lack the technical expertise of a dot.com or a tech firm and
are thus unable to turn their ideas into programming reality? Or do the
tech folks not understand dispatching? Or are the interagency
agreements & dispatching rules themselves unclear or incoherent, thus
making the programming aspect nearly impossible?

Scratching my head,
The Nomad
01/01 Here are some photos for the collection,
Ben Croft / U.S.F.S.- M.T.D.C.

Photos of Rappellers: Moyer Rappel Crew (more to come later):
Resting zzzzzzz: Moyer Rappel crewmember Dave LaBelle finds comfort in the shade of the ship that gets him to the fires, 166EH.
Bubble Look: Moyer Rappel spotter Heath Hand guides the pilot to a safe location to begin rappel procedures.
Go to Skids: He gives the rappellers the signal to "go to the skids".
Signal to Begin: He gives the signal to "begin rappel" during a training rappel at Moyer Helibase ID.
Wheeeeeeee: Rappeller goes completely vertical underneath 166EH to create an easier hover for pilot Len Paur.

FYI, Ab labeled the photos (could'n't resist the wheeeeeee photo from the helmet cam); you can view these rapper photos on the Heli 8 photo page.

Photos from the Moose Fire:
Flathead HS Signal: A Flathead Hotshot guides a pilot in for a bucket drop on the Moose Fire.
Bucket Drop: The drop.
Flathead HS: Members of the Flathead Hotshots await further instructions in their safety zone.
212 Drop: A 212 makes a bucket drop on the Moose.
Huckleberry Lookout: All wrapped up.
Inversion: This peaceful morning inversion shot is an ironic contrast to some of the intense fire behavior seen on the Moose Fire.
Weather Station: Weather station set up on the fire.

View them on the Moose Fire photo page. Some nice ones. Ab.

01/01 Harv Dabling, IMWTK

I came From the Angeles N.F. to the Cleveland N.F., San Juan Station in 1972. The El Cariso Shots had Fire Shelters as you stated the Engine Crews on the Forest did not have Shelters. I made a trip back to the Angeles who had shelters for their engine crews ( I had a shelter issued to me in 1970 when I started on the Angeles.), I picked up enough shelters to outfit the Engine Crew out of San Juan.

The Angeles in 1970 also issued the orange fire shirts and bullard metal hardhats. I also remember that the Captain's (foreman's as they were referred to) of the engine back in 1970 did not receive hazard pay on fires where the rest of the crew did!

Bob G




We are thankful for the year gone by, miss friends who are no longer with us, and pray that all who fight wildland fire will come home to their families (home families and our wildland fire family) in the coming year.

Family and Freedoms.
Thanks for your service to humanity and to our country, Wildland Firefighters.
Carry on...

from the Abs at wildlandfire.com

01/01 The Nomad, and others

I will try and explain the mysterys of WILDCAD and ROSS.

WILDCAD is a computer aided dispatch program. The response areas are listed and all resources, personnel engines, etc. FS, BLM, BIA. and cooperators and contactors, and their locations. When the dispatcher enters the location of the fire, a standard response will appear on the computer. The closest equipment comes up on the list. That is why when engines move around dispatch wants to know, not because we are nosey -- it is because we want to send the closest equipment to the fire. The program in also sent up from second and third response.

CDF has a similar program CALCAD.
WILDCAD is also used for any incident that happens, fire, law, campers lost etc. Very helpful when dispatchers have to do the year end report of how many incident and who went. Very easy to enquire about any item that is entered into the reports.

ROSS stands for Resource Order Status System. Electronic version of the resource cards. So dispatcher will have a better idea who is available. Also the GACCs will know which forest has what. It is a smart enough program so if an engine gets committed then it also makes everyone on that engine committed.

MIRPS is a early version of ROSS used only in R5.

That is the ReadersDigest version, short and sweet. (Any Questions?)

Dispatcher R3

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