"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland
||Van driver Helm sentenced; Glenwood Springs Post, 2/27
The article said $200 fine and 60 hours of community service that was
corrected to 50 hours of community service today.
||To FF Eric re the Mtn Top Dist on the SBNF:
I work for the folks with the red engines in Arrowhead, so you'll have to
check with your own agency about their hiring plans. My time on the green
trucks was some time ago. I'll see you this summer, hopefully on a
multi-agency drill, and not on a fire incident amongst the houses.
||Thank you so much for your wonderful site! I know it is going to be
helpful for the upcoming season. My Significant Other is a ff and heads
out west as often as possible. In Virginia we are out of harms way for the
big fires, but they head out there every year, keeping my stomach in
knots. I just wanted to say thank you for all that you have posted on the
site, and I look forward to becoming involved with your boards as he heads
out again this summer!
Thanks a bunch!
Welcome Tonya, we do have a FamilySaid page that takes a break in the
off-season. But people writing in there have some good comments and
provide support and information when fires are a ripping. And if you have
a question for firefighters, you can ask here. Ab.
||I am saddened by the passing of Paul Gleason, but glad to hear his
struggle is over. He will be missed. He was a fine person, a true leader,
and an incredible advocate and a real professional. I am proud to have
known him and felt his influence. We owe him much. Rest in peace Paul.
||To NM Air Bear, thanks for the info!!!- FMR-RSIXER
The photo on Crews-7 is of the Carlsbad Interagency Crew, posted recently
but mislabeled as the Carlsbad Hotshots. This T2 crew of agency regulars
hailed from Carlsbad, NM, in R03. This crew was out there regularly from
1988-98 and was well known in R03.
There was one assignment in R06 where they were erroneously called the
Carlsbad Hotshots but their now retired FMO went mildly ballistic and
kyboshed that misnomer mid-assignment when he heard about it.
An unfortunate sign of the times is that this crew can no longer be
assembled due to a general shortage of collateral duty line qualified
personnel in Southeast NM.
||I was cruising through the photos page, and in crews-7
came across a photo of the Carlsbad hotshots?? from 1998. I don't
recognize this crew, and havent seen them around. Are they, or were they a
training crew? What region? They aren't listed in any of the regional
pages, or the IHC pages. Does anyone have any info on them?
Just Curious -
I'm a seasonal on the Mtn. Top, hoping to transfer to the Arrowhead
district where I live. With our new snow when do the white helmets predict
to bring us back on? How long do the logging companies think it will take
to get rid of the "red trees". I can't wait to get back to work,
I just hope it isn't fighting that "Big One" in the backyard of
||Regarding the firefighter fitness testing turmoil:
I been out of the FS for almost two decades now working for an oil
company......so my opinion about this might not count diddly to a lot of
you.....but man, you can't help but think that this Pack Test thing has to
be an improvement, you know? ANYTHING that promotes....okay, maybe even
'forces'....a person to get in real good shape before fire season has to
be a good thing, doesn't it?
I was an R-5'r, and I did the IHC thing for some years, and loved it. Over
my 13 FS years, I kept my red card up and kept my hand in the fire
organization even though I moved into a non-fire part of the agency. I
always used to razz the people who had trouble passing the Step Test.
Sometimes I would even taunt them by drinking my coffee and smoking Salems
while taking the test and then I would STILL pass. I realize now how
insensitive and rude that was....but what the hell...it was the 70's and I
was thin and young and cocky. The thing was....and here is the
key.....during the eight month off-season, I was exercising regularly.
Even despite my smoking habit, I'll bet it was a rare week that I did not
have at least 5 or 6 workouts of one kind of another. I would jog, swim,
bike, work the heavy bag, lift weights. It was not uncommon for me to jog
18-miles a week or so. A smoking jogger....I know, it made no sense.
Later on, though, things got tough with the physical conditioning. 'What
goes around, comes around', we all know that. I quit the smokes, and
dogged the exercise a lot and then heredity and poor eating and drinking
habits also took their toll. The weight came on. Before long I was having
considerable trouble squeezing my fat ass into those green nomex pants,
and there wasn't a whole hell of a lot of slack in the yellow shirt
either. But I STILL didn't have any trouble passing that Step Test and
getting my red card. Then a year or two later, just for old times sake, I
went out on a fire over in the San Jacinto's with my old IHC. They said
they were short a man and couldn't make the trip without me. Sure enough,
they drew a nasty hotline assignment. I kept up with the guys, but it was
a struggle, and they knew it. I was a shadow of my former lead-sawyer
self. They finally took some pity on me and put me at the back of the tool
order behind the McLeods as an observer/weather lookout or something.
Maybe they were worried I would keel over on them or something. Should I
have really been out there in the first place? Probably not, if I am
honest about it. Had this Pack Test thing been in place then.....I
probably would NOT have been there, because I likely could not have passed
it in the shape I was in.
Then a year later, they transferred me to a WET part of Region 4 where
there really wasn't any fire to speak of and then three years after that,
I left altogether for more money.
But hey.....the whole point about this is....you gotta work out and
exercise to really do fire right and to do right by yourself. That is the
bottom line. There is NO FREE LUNCH in life. Life is a struggle from the
time we take a breath until they lower us down....and we might as well get
used to it. It is not easy....it never will be.
Firefighting is a young person's game, really. It always was, and probably
always will be. If you are not young anymore...or if you are hampered by
slow metabolism and heredity-fat -- then you better put the odds in your
favor and exercise like a scalded monkey. We all should do that. The
alternative is weighing 300+ lbs., diabetes, heart problems, poor sex
lives, shorter lives, and shot knees.
One of my old Hot Shot friends is still a Smokejumper up in McCall at age
53. He trains the young guys, but i think he still makes some jumps and
fires, at least he was a few years back. He's thin as a rail, and fit, and
you just gotta respect that. He could have taken the easy road and let
himself go over the years like I did a lot of the time, but he did not.
I'm gonna keep exercising, just cause I need to do that. I don't like the
alternative. I'll never never be back where I was when I was younger, but
I don't have to compound the problem.
You guys all know this: being in shape can mean making the ridge or safety
zone in time or not. It can mean hanging in there on the line, or going
nipples-down. So keep in shape, or get in shape, and keep the Pack Test or
something equivalent. Life is what we make it, and sometimes if we are not
forced into making a goal, or going over a high bar, we won't do it. We
never get there. So lace up those gym shoes and get your butts out
there....you haven't got much time! Amen.
Semi-Frozen Ex FF
||I did not know Paul Gleason as a firefighter, I knew him as a teacher. I
work at Colorado State University and have often taken advantage of the
"one free class a semester" benefit at the University. A year
ago I decided to deter from the graduate level engineering classes that I
had been indulging in for decades and divert into the Forestry Department
to take their "Wildland Fire Behavior" class. You see I have
been a volunteer firefighter "on the side" for 20 years and
thought I would take the class and finally get my certifications.
On the first day of class, in walked Paul - full of energy, clearly truly
in love with his chosen profession, but perhaps a bit nervous about the
prospect of teaching 50-60 college students. Throughout the course of the
semester he did a great job of conveying his incredible depth of knowledge
about wildland fire behavior. With 20 years of firefighting experience I
wasn't expecting to learn a lot and was just looking to nab the
certification. Boy was I wrong.
I was really taken in by the science of wildland fire behavior. Frankly, I
don't think a more "academic" teacher would have done as good a
job of "sucking me in" to the subject. Paul was not always the
ideal teacher - chiding us for not skipping class when he thought the day
was too nice and we should be out snowboarding or just enjoying this
beautiful planet. Paul's love of his job and wealth of knowledge about the
subject came through in everything he shared with us and I will always be
grateful for having him as my instructor.
It is always a great experience to learn from someone who truly loves what
they do. I hope he is getting to do a lot of rock climbing in his
Thanks & Adios,
||Lanky's (Craig Lechleiter) Retirement Party
Sorry about the short notice, folks-
We thought everybody had received this flyer through the distribution
lists, but after reading MJ's post, apparently that wasn't the case.
Everybody's welcome. RSVP to Terri Silva (email@example.com)
by March 6th.
If you aren't able to attend, I can pass along any messages to him at any
(See attached file: Lanky's_Retirement_Party_Invitation.doc)
Here's the scoop. If you'd like us to send you the msword doc with a
map, etc, just holler.
NCSC Employee's Association
Cordially Invites You to
Craig (Lanky) Lechleiter's
Saturday, March 8, 2003
3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Anderson V.F.W. Hall
3210 West Center St.,
Anderson CA 96007
Everyone is welcome
Tickets are $15 per person (covers meal, gratuity, and gift).
Meal will be Chicken, tri-tip, and rib BBQ. There will also be a no-host
Please R.S.V.P. by March 6, 2003 to Terri Silva at firstname.lastname@example.org or
call 530-226-2720. Make checks payable to NCSC Employee's Association.
||How about a Paul Gleason Award awarded annually to the person who
made the most contribution to Firefighter Safety?
had the honor of working with paul a few years ago on the arapahoe
roosevelt , I will truly miss him ...
Gleason was presented with the Golden Pulaski Lifetime Achievement Award At
the 2001 National Hotshot Workshop
Hero of the Dude Fire, Father of LCES, and
Much, Much More
“Paul Gleason’s contributions to wildland
fire safety have not only been important, they have been life saving.
Besides firefighter Jeff Hatch—who owes his life to Paul’s heroic
actions on the tragic Dude Fire—I am certain there are many more men and
women still going about their lives on this earth due to Paul’s
unmatched leadership in wildland fire safety. On behalf of the thousands
of women and men in fire management all across the United States, I thank
U.S. Forest Service’s National Applied Fire Ecologist
||I was not fortunate enough to know paul personally. But his contribution
the entire fire community cannot be understated.
Best wishes to his family and friends.
||There have been some requests from folks who didn't know Paul that we
tell some of his accomplishments. Here's some information from one of the
nominations of Paul for the heroism award. Ab.
The nominating author writes:
I have worked as a wildland firefighter for 28 years. I have known no
single person in the fire management community who is more dedicated to
the safety of, firefighters and the public, than Paul Gleason.
My reasons for nominating Paul Gleason are many, but first and foremost
I think that Paul deserves recognition for a lifelong commitment to
safety and teaching firefighters how do their jobs effectively and with
a passion for safety.
Attached articles on fire safety that mention Paul Gleason are written
by Dale Cuyler, US Forest Service
Retired and Paul Keller.
The article mentions the fact that Paul Gleason is the author of LCES
(Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes and Safety Zones). LCES are the
rules that firefighters nation wide are required to enact on every shift
on every fire we fight. I believe that LCES has saved many lives since
the 1994 tragedy at the South Canyon fire in Colorado.
In 1990 at the Dude Fire in Arizona, there were six fatalities on the
Perryville Inmate Crew. Paul Gleason was the first one to get to the
fatality site. I don’t have all the facts but it seems that he was
instrumental in helping to save one of the Perryville Firefighter’s
life at that time. That firefighter was Mr. Hatch I believe.
Paul Gleason is more than deserving of your award. Please consider him
for this honor based on his service to the Wildland Firefighters around
||For those of you who are not familiar with Paul Gleason's
accomplishments -- but maybe all of you are... Firescribe
On Paul Gleason, from the book “Fire Line – Summer Battles of the
West” by Michael Thoele (on the firebooks page)
“At forty-four, though he would not have claimed it for himself, he
ranked as one of the lesser fire gods. A Pacific Northwest hotshot crew
boss, he was something of a legend in his own time, a tough, aggressive,
intellectual firefighter who was the stuff of stories told in fire camps
from Alaska to New Mexico. In the world of Western wildfire, only two or
three hotshot bosses were seen as his equal.”
“He had marched through all the ranks in the infantry of forest fire.
He had paid his dues and earned his spurs. He was known as a man who
quoted Chinese philosophers, read books on the art of warfare, and, in
the off-seasons, was a rock climber who took on the big walls all over
the West. His was summoned often to teach fire tactics to others.”
||To the family and friends of Paul, my thoughts and prayers to you. Our
fire community has lost a light. this morning when I read the post from
Merrill what came to mind is that resonating bell that is struck by the FS
Honor Guard in their ceremony.
Merrill, thanks very much to you for sharing some of the details of his
passing and for letting us know the supportive others and family who were
with him at the end. I hope you'll also let us know about the memorial
I feel very blessed for having this fire community. Thanks to you Ab
and to those who worked with purpose to get in the nominations for Paul
for the Heroism Award.
||I always felt honored to be part of Paul's circle of friends. He always
had the uncanny ability to be insightful and hilarious simultaneously.
Paul occupied the top notch on my leadership stick and always will. There
is so much I can say....one could write a book... but words are eluding
My prayers to his family. Goodbye Paul.
||May God smile on Paul, now in a better place.
His legacy includes the many friends he left behind in so many quarters
and the memories we all share of better times. Let us not forget the many
solid contributions that Paul made to make the wildland fire profession a
safer and more productive one. He will be dearly missed!
||Sad news. Paul will be missed.
||Our loss -- a blessing for Paul Gleason
To all who read and share this via email, I'm saddened to share with you
that Paul Gleason passed away just a few hours ago this morning. Clearly
he was suffering beyond what any human is prepared to endure, though I can
say that he lived through his recent illness with the same class and grace
we have all known of him over the years. It might interest you that his
never-ending desire to read and learn had focused even this week yet on
commonalities between Buddhism and Christianity. While he wanted so much
to continue to enjoy many riches he felt here in his life, clearly also he
believed he would go to a better place.
Karen obviously is taking this very hard these first few hours. She has
been a true blessing to Paul, and her warmth and caring for him has been
beautiful to observe. Paul's brother arrived last night, and both of them
were with Paul when he died. Hospice people, with their wonderful
resources, are also there to help. Karen and I had talked about a memorial
service, and I suggested this morning that it need not be arranged
immediately to be held in the next few days, but rather might be held in
the next several weeks. I'm sure Karen and Paul's brother, and Sarah,
myself and several others who can contribute, will put together a plan in
due time, and word will get to everyone.
For now, I can think of no better thing we might do than to say a prayer
thanks and blessing for Paul, and a prayer of comfort and grace for Karen
and Paul's family as they cope with our shared loss. And God's blessings
to each friend of Paul, who number many.
So sad that Paul is gone. He will certainly live on in the many
significant contributions he made to our fire world. Please let us know
details of any services. Readers who contributed to the various Stihl
Heroism Award nominations for him, please consider sending in what you
wrote so we can compile it as a tribute. Thanks. Ab.
||Hello Wildland Fire --
I was on the El Cariso Hot Shots from 72' - -74 and worked with Harv
Dabling, who occasionally appears on your pages. I'd like to get in touch
with him -- do you have his email address?
We don't. Harv or anyone else, you reading? Ab.
Where you been? You sound surprised that there are dead trees in the
Welcome to the forest health issue that has been around for about 25 years
or more in the Pacific NW, Rocky Mts. and most any other place that has
Loggers in So.Cal that is too cool, when they start hauling loads on the
Rim of the World get some pics and post them on They Said, I gotta see
one. How far they have to haul logs to find a mill down there? Probably
chip a lot of it due to rot, but there should be some merchantable timber
Did you know that the San Berdoo was heavily logged back in the day to get
wood to build orange crates??
You're living history there, enjoy it and don't worry about the "Big
Just hope the dispatchers let your engine go when it happens and don't
you standing by at Mormon Rocks or Devil's Canyon.
||SoCalCapt, I just found this as I was searching following your email.
Thanks for the heads-up.
Readers, this post refers to Olddog's post of 2/22
on the Wildland firefighter series if you want to flip down to it for
reference. Some good comments here SoCal Capt. Thanks to you and others I
talked with at the Division Chiefs Mtg for fighting the "good
fight" for us. Ab.
Olddog... excellent post and some good info.... but it raised some
questions and concerns that I have.
The OPM did away with the Fire Control Series as a result of issues raised
during the first "SAFETY FIRST" study completed by the Forest
Service over a quarter of a century ago.
Olddogs post stated "Those series are established in part, to provide
technical assistance in the protection and management of forest and range
resource (according to OPM)". Once again he is right, but things have
changed. The qualification and rating standards from OPM refer to
technicians in support of the scientist. Nowadays, the scientist is at the
GS-15 or SES level and, for the most part, has very little fire
suppression or fire management experience. Those of us who were involved
in the R-5 Captains Audit know all too well how screwed up the rating and
qualifications standards are.
Question: Who is better to know Wildland Fire Science?
1) a recently graduated college student with no experience as a (0460 or
0401) professional GS-9 or GS-11, or
2) a GS-7 or GS-9 Wildland Firefighter who has twenty years or more of
The answer is... the the former technicians have become the professionals
and the former professionals have become the supporting technicians when
it comes to wildland fire management.
Olddog, a quick comment about Title 5, FLSA as they specifically relate to
your question (0081 series only): For the 0081 series, the following items
are included in Title 5 -
-- Addresses Portal to Portal (you already mentioned this)
-- Addresses having to show that nasty little lunch break.
(no more arguing over that lunch break on the line)
-- Addresses what adequate lodging is (sure isn't a sleeping bag on
-- Addresses what adequate food is (usually not an MRE)
-- Addresses several other smaller issues.
Future things are on the horizon, "Federal Firefighters Presumptive
Disability" and "Federal Firefighters Retirement Reform".
These probably won't be the exact titles of the introduced legislation
when it happens but close. Wildland firefighters could be left out in the
cold again if their classification is not corrected and their rights not
||Looks like "Another J.W." drew out some lively responses to
her/his comments about the Pack Test, but needs to hear some of the
realities about it:
- First, Dr. Brian Sharkey developed the Pack Test while working as a
USFS employee at MTDC, not under a "grant".
- The first step of the process was, in fact, a Job Task Analysis that
was developed with input from hundreds of Federal and State fire
managers across the U.S.
- It's true that fatalities have occurred while practicing and/or
taking the Pack test. But would any reasonable physical exam have
detected a brain aneurysm, or genetic heart problem that caused some
of the deaths?
- There was extensive review by National and internationally credible
Medical organizations during the development of the Test processes and
procedures: a special study was done by Dr. Paul Davis, founder of the
structural fire "Combat Firefighter's Challenge". Dr. Davis'
study is available for anyone who asks from Brian Sharkey at MTDC.
- The Canadian "Par-Q" questionnaire is widely used for
health screening in a normally healthy workforce - are we to assume
that us wildland firefighters don't fit into that category?
- The Pack Test went thru numerous bureaucratic screens before
approval and implementation, including the Office of Personnel
Management (OPM), the USFS Unions, the National Fire Directors, the
legal beagles (OIG?), the AA/EEO folks, etc.
- If you believe that the Pack Test "has been used as a weapon to
demote, discriminate and to harass folks"......put up your proof
in writing. Some folks believe that the Holocaust never happened in
Nazi Germany, but just saying it "don't make it so!"
- The "Administrator's Guide" and videos were available from
the start; they've been modified and improved as lessons have been
- And finally, accountability: I believe that if a supervisor fails to
follow the processes for administering a Pack Test, they should be
held accountable. But, how about the firefighter who lies on her/his
questionnaire, or who fails to prepare correctly for the test as
detailed in all the available pubs: should they (or their heirs) be
held accountable, and not get any benefits, too?
- I know that there is an incredible amount of documentation available
at MTDC on the whole Pack test development process, and its available
to anyone who asks. I've read it, hopefully understood it, and I ain't
no Medical Doc....!
Phe'w, good one. I had to go do a lil PT just to get in shape for
readin' it. Ab.
I work in Lake Arrowhead and we had a group meeting last week with the 20+
logging companies that are now working in the area to take out the massive
bug kill timber. There are lots more coming in for the work. One guy
estimated 10 to 15,000 truck loads of logs to get this stuff out of the
area. Not all of it can be used for lumber due to the length of time that
a lot of it has been standing dead. The logging experts all agreed that it
is much worse than the Tahoe episode.
We just received our first sizeable snowfall of the season yesterday, so
we can breathe a bit easier for a week or two. The snow adds a new factor,
namely now we have the dead trees and limbs falling down. Power was out
for almost 12 hours yesterday due to down electric lines and fallen trees.
I almost feel like I'm playing the Lotto on a daily basis when put my gear
on the engine. Is this shift going to be the day of the "Big
One"? It's weird putting your web gear and brush clothes on the
engine in the middle of winter.
Be safe in them thar woods. Ab.
Give up your fight on the pack test. I will say that the pack test has no
bearing or will ever tell you how good of shape you are in. However it is
much better than what we had, the old test allowed fat and out of shape
people to keep there jobs that had no business being in the job they were
in. Have you ever taken a pack test if you have you sound like you failed
or came close to failing, and you are misdirecting the point just to keep
your job. You sound like a guy that will blame anyone else but yourself
just because you are out of shape. Take up the old man on his offer you
just might find out that working out is fun.
Dude give it a rest. If you dont like the pack test, quit. Im sure there
are lots of other jobs out there for someone like you. Why worry about
others that have a hard time with the test? Thats their problem. Do you
really have some much time on your hands that you cant help but worry
about them? Concern for others is one thing, but you seem to be taking it
to a completely different level. Why dont you put some of your spare time
to use, say jogging??? In any case no one wants to read about the pack
test pissing match. Give it a rest!
Look in NFPA 1977 (1998 version) for the national standard on wildland
fire boots: 8" tall (minimum), leather, lace-up, non-skid sole;
steel/protective toe NOT required/recommended.
||Some recent noteworthy awards from R5, reported by Firescribe.
Congratulations to all.
Cal Yarborough Award, 2003 awarded by the R5 Division Chiefs to one
of their own, the Division Chief of the year.
Regional Meritorious Service Award, 2002 awarded by the R5 Board of
Directors to one of their own, the FMO of the year.
Fire Instructor of the Year Award, 2003 co-recipients:
Dick McCombs, a "go to" guy, instructs S-430, S-400,
I-400 and many more.
Wes Shook who manages the Vandenberg Interagency Training Center in
SoCal, instructs in aviation training, ACE training and many other
The Horseshoe Bob Knob Award, 2003 awarded by Overacker to the most
ancient of R5 hotshot supts.,
Bob Bennett of Horseshoe Meadows IHC.
Story behind it: Last season, Horseshoe Bob's crew buggie lost a
dashboard knob, as these new crew buggies are wont to do. Overacker,
having recognized the weakness and having ordered extras, had a spare and
gave it to Bob. Now, over beers that night, Bob swears Overacker stole his
knob and then gave it back, planting another one later - the
"lost" one - under his buggie's seat so he could find it.
Overacker swears he was no thief. He simply was prepared and thus had a
spare knob to offer...
Words on the Horeshoe Bob Knob Award: "If Bob aint whining
about his knob, he's whining about something."
We were in Big Bear a few weeks ago and could not
believe the tree kill. I would say a good 70% of the
trees were dead or dying. And this is in my opinion
from what the trees looked like from this time last
year. Since my hubby left the Big Bear in 2001 there
seems to have been more kill every year (We visit the
area often). Hillsides that were green now have a very
prominent Brown color to them. I would think that the
Mountain Top is going to have the potential of a
seriously dangerous fire situation.
Thanks for the info firechef03. Haven't been south lately. Could be a
rippin' season all along the Sierra. Ab.
||Anyone out there know where I can find official CDF or USFS
for wildland firefighting boots?
Captain Chip D
Newport Beach Fire Dept. CA
You seem to be well versed in all of the big words and legal terms. My
question is, have you ever taken the pack/vest test and if so did you
pass, or are you complaining because you can't? Like I said before, do
about 3mi jog aday, 6 days a week and a little on the wt. machines and you
shouldn't have any problem. Offer to come and do it with me next month
Old man of the Dept. 66 and closing on 67, but still fighting fire
Put the doughnuts down, back away slowly, and don't make eye contact.
I don't know who put the pack test burr under your saddle, but it's
beginning to fester. Let it go! If you hate the test so much that every
post you submit consists of whining about it, perhaps you aren't really
cut out to be a firefighter. Grow a pair (nuts or ovaries, just get a set
Interesting article on the Challenger and implications for safety in the
wildland fire world. More than the token and dominant stuff,
I'm interested in the parallels for safety related to elite decisions
(also Dana's rant) and the current federal competitive outsourcing. But
you brought it up, let's talk about token/dominant relationships
and implications for safety.
Vaughan (1997) suggests that relationships between "tokens"
(minority in number, example minority race or gender, non-English
speaker, less educated, temps, less experienced, less senior) and "dominants"
may be harmful to safety on the fireground, but she doesn't really know.
She says these relationships should be studied, given findings from
research in corporate America.
For example she suggests we should explore how tokens and dominants
relate to one another and what can be done to develop reliable working
relationships between them. Sounds like a good idea. Another way to look
at this is to evaluate and enhance crew cohesion and crew leadership.
We're doing that.
She suggests that tokens might not get feedback (correction) that a
dominant would get. Well, on a fire crew, I would bet the tokens
get as much feedback as anyone else. Fire people don't pull any punches.
The culture supports feedback and lessons learned. Honest feedback is not
lacking in my experience. Heck, tokens might get more feedback.
They stand out from the pack. Likely, what they do -- right or wrong -- is
spotlighted because they are unique. Maybe Vaughan didn't think it PC to
say that tokens might even be picked on or have to work at proving
themselves -- that has happened too. In the past, some permanent part- or
full-time tokens (woman friends in this case) were denied training
opportunities on their home forests even after outperforming the men. They
were held back from progressing in their careers. I think to some extent
that has changed, due in part to their speaking out, but due also to their
performing and persisting. Also, some of those dominants stuck in
the old ways have changed and, well, if not, they eventually retire...
Times do change, albeit slowly sometimes.
Vaughan suggests that tokens might be underutilized. Maybe some
crews of contract tokens are. Maybe not. (Is a crew of tokens
really dominant in that case??)
Don't we use the good contract crews well? Most of the time, I think yes.
We'd be stupid not to. We just need a consistent standard and method for
telling who's good and who's not. The smartcard that's coming soon might
help to weed out the unsafe contractors, the poor performers, those with
lousy equipment or equipment they don't know how to operate and it will
likely help keep them from running to the next fire when sent home from
These days, we have many excellent tokens on crews. I think it
likely that some of these folks might have the inner drive to press beyond
their ability or current resources trying to "pull their
weight". On the good side, they help change the token
stereotypes and up the bar. However it's conceivable their striving might
occasionally jeopardize the safety of others.
Vaughan suggests that we study what happens "when a token
gives information, instructions, or assumes leadership on a fire".
Again at the crew level, I think what happens would depend on strength of
individual crewmembers, crew cohesion, inclusion, and the level of
leadership of the crew supt and squadies. Cohesion results from working
together under a variety of circumstances and settings over a period of
time so that you know and trust the strengths and recognize the current
limitations of your crewmates. It's clear that some crewmembers are
already leaders-in-the-making, regardless of whether token or dominant
to begin with. Some others will be leaders-in-the-making once they have a
chance to grow up a little. IMHO, not all can be leaders nor do they want
to be. All should have equal opportunity. If a crewmember knows how to
step into the leadership position from within themself and if the crew is
cohesive and inclusive, that person will be heard -- and followed if
appropriate, hopefully whether token or dominant. A leader
helps who mentors and fosters input when appropriate.
My guess is that cohesive crews get beyond the token and dominant
stuff to the real individual strengths and weaknesses, personalities and
foibles and differences of their crewmates. They get to respect and
community as a culture.
||Large Passenger Vans:
I have driven large passenger vans of the type the ongoing discussion is
about. Empty they are OK...but even when loaded "properly" and
within designed specs they handle like a pig on ice. There is no
possibility of taking evasive action and retaining control. They are
simply not safe and have been acknowledged as such by a variety of stale
laws placing restrictions on their use. Even when they are brand new they
are very difficult to drive safely. Add a bit of suspension or steering
wear and they quickly become unmanageable in any emergency situation.
They were a cheap modification of a regular van which was ill thought out.
It provided a cheap alternative to a mini bus with an appropriate heavier
frame and suspension and so Ford (and Dodge, etc.) made money by selling
them to folks who assumed it was a safe alternative to the more expensive
rigs. Are the makers of these vans responsible for deaths which occur due
to their bad handling characteristics? Partly. That responsibility must
also be shared by those trying to save money by placing their employees in
these unsafe vehicles instead of a more appropriate rig.
The public schools were given a "heads up" years ago when they
were held partially responsible for children's injuries and deaths from
accidents in these vans. The fire community which apparently did not
notice that heads up has now been given their own.
Ironically Ford (etc.) may escape liability since they lowered the GVW on
these vans after the first spate of lawsuits. Take a look at the door
sticker in one and then add up the weight it is possible to load into one
of them...even without a roof rack...and you can see they are not designed
for the task we expect them to perform SAFELY.
If you are one of the (un)lucky individuals who is offered the opportunity
to ride to a fire in one of these units I suggest you do a quick load
calc. and compare it to the GVW. It is illegal to exceed that GVW and ANY
employer that expects you to ride in an overloaded vehicle is breaking the
law. Turn them in to their insurance co...or better yet the state patrol.
They should not expect to make money (lower their transportation budget)
by exposing you to additional and unnecessary risk.
You are right on the mark in your letter. Maybe the Office of General
Counsel would like to comment on this.
Not sure if this has been posted on "They Said". May 22, 2003 at
Capitol Park, Sacramento. California Professional Firefighters will
remember those who have fallen. The members of Lassen Engine 11 will be
added with other Department Fallen Firefighters of 2002. Event details at:
||Has the IOSWT meeting for this month already been held? Well, some of us
are wondering what the outcome of the discussions were in relation to Dr.
Sharkey's concern about his test that he developed for Work Capacity. I
agree with Dr. Sharkey, that his test was developed to be used for people
in "actual line digging" jobs. You know, the folks who dig line
every day... all day while at fires. I truly believe as do several others
that the Pack Test has been used as a weapon to demote, discriminate and
to harass folks... Sad but true. WCT administration procedures have been
reckless, every year, since it's been in use... No one should die trying
to get or keep a job, yet people have died every year since the Pack Test
has been used, not to mention all of the injuries that folks have suffered
while taking it. Look, the WCT Administrators guide isn't even complete
yet, it should be around March or so... funny, well not really... because
these tests have been being administered without an official review for
safety, by the American Medical Association, or a Cardiologists'
Association. I asked a while back about medical standards... no one ever
answered, after doing a detailed investigative search... there are NONE to
be found... Now I wish to take a little time here to thank those of you
who chose to personally attack me for asking questions about this health
and safety matter. The Medical Standards I asked about are just now in the
process of being developed and piloted this year. Here's another
question... I know that when grants are applied for, like for the research
and development of this physical test, there were goals listed in the
request for funds... was there a goal listed as "job task
analysis"? If so, where can the results of the analysis or the
references to meeting that particular goal be found? How much of the grant
funding was appropriated to this goal? Was a "job task analysis"
ever done? If so, does anyone know where to find them? Records are public,
if public monies were used for such things. For those who don't
understand... "job task analysis"... There really is such a
thing as this... it's especially handy when trying to validate a physical
test, legally. I'm referring to energy expenditures and strength needs
evaluations for individual tasks that people in certain positions are
required to perform. "arduous duty" used generically is not
acceptable!!! Here's another and final question... since we're all really
big on supervisor accountability for serious incidents and accidents...
without using the folks who died or were injured during or shortly after
taking this test as the scapegoat, since they're not here to defend
themselves let's take a look here... Where's the responsibility to be
placed for requiring people to take a test, either pre or post-employment,
when the test used is fairly new and has not been reviewed for cardiac or
functional safety, job task analysis' are not done, no medical standards
are in place (a generic AHA questionnaire is not a medical standard, it is
just a questionnaire, besides that, it's the AHA's Questionnaire and I am
sure they wouldn't want their copyrighted materials to be used in the
promotion of a potentially deadly activity) and last but not least, no
Administrators' guide? (I bet that the deceased folks' families would be
extremely interested in this information) Until all of these things are in
place... Maybe human resources, forest and district supervisor and test
administration folks should be held personally and professionally
responsible for the deaths and injuries people suffer while attempting the
Pack Test... Is the Pack Test a legally bona fide occupational test? If
not, maybe the test could be considered as non-compliant with the law. If
this could be the case... then maybe the definition of manslaughter could
possibly be applied, this could have a devastating affect on one's
career...or maybe Negligence, which could result in civil actions for
compensation, neither of these even compare with the price that a deceased
person or their family has payed. Also, I found it odd, that when folks
are injured during the test, how employers engage in illegal searching for
"old" medical records to try to combat and challenge OWCP
claims, resulting from the Pack Test. Take care everyone, Another J.W.
Since I authored the report that "BACKBURNFS" included in the
comments about last summer's vehicle fatalities, I feel obligated to offer
a few thoughts in response.
Once you start digging into the performance history of the 15 passenger
vans, it becomes apparent that something is seriously wrong! Did you know,
for example, that it is against FEDERAL law to sell these vehicles to
elementary and secondary school districts? Have you looked at the number
of college trips (for athletics, music, or field tours) that have ended in
tragedy as a result of using 15 passenger vans?
As a Federal employee, there are many more requirements to operate a
vehicle than are required by State laws; in the USFS, to operate a van
carrying more than 11 folks requires an addendum to the operator's
license. But...there is no special training that I've ever seen, including
anything that discusses the effects to the Center of Gravity by loading
all the seats, and using the roof racks. Yeah, the heavy engines and IHC
buggies are special, and require CDL licenses to operate.
Most of the vehicle accidents that killed firefighters in the 1990-1998
period that I reported were the result of single vehicle roll-overs and
collisions with others. These involved the larger engines that BACKBURNFS
described, and were often driven by volunteer firefighters who, because of
the lack of time and/or training $$, were less well trained than their
But.... the 15 passenger van has a well-documented history (see the
National Hiway Traffic Safety Administration www.nhtsa.dot.gov)
of safety problems, and last summer's fatalities are just another page in
that deadly history.
I'm surely not recommending that we stop using crew buggies or heavy
engines operated by well trained, highly qualified operators. Nor am I
suggesting that pickups are the answer. I am suggesting that we always
limit our road miles whenever possible (one National IMT made 3 one-way
trips of over 1000 miles each in individual pickups in 2002), and that we
consider alternatives to driving from Oregon to Colorado, or Arizona to
Montana, just so that a crew (or IMT) can have their "own"
vehicles. Road miles DO equal exposure, regardless of vehicle size, and
this becomes especially critical when lots of folks are in a vehicle
proven to be unsafe, with a less-than highly qualified operator.
I hope that suing Ford about their 15 passenger van will at least raise
the awareness of its risks, and may in fact reduce vehicle fatalities,
especially in the wildland fire community!
Thanks for the additional information. It's important for assessing
||Ab and all:
Just read the Denver Post news article about Brandon and the van
I drove vans Ford, Dodge and Chevy for years on BD crews and Hotshot
crews, just like many of you. I guess I am lucky to be alive according to
Anyone who has ever driven a full size van knows that they don’t handle
like a Porsche, but neither do Broncos, Tahoes, Ram’s, pickup trucks,
engines, crew carriers or any other of the boxes on wheels we use.
Driving is one of the most hazardous activities that wildland firefighters
encounter. It is, I think, where we have the greatest exposure to getting
several folks killed or seriously injured at one time, as in last summer's
tragedy. And one that we do a lot over the season. We Drove over 14,000
miles X 3 rigs packing 20 people, last year.
I included the chart from the web address below. www.esb.act.gov.au/firebreak/wildland_fire_fatalities.phpl
23% Aircraft Accident
21% Heart Attack
Why do we always try to blame the people who build the things we ask
for when something bad happens? McDonald’s is making us fat. Guns are
I would like to know what kind of drivers training any of the contract van
drivers get before they start hauling people across the country. Federal
Agency people have to take Defensive Driving training and refresher
classes every 2 years and be issued a Govt. Operators License for the
types of vehicles they are authorized to drive.
Additionally the drivers of heavy engines and Crew Carriers in Region 6
have to attend 36 hours of truck driver training, including 8 hours behind
the wheel with a professional driver, and have a Commercial Drivers
license. We don’t let just let anyone haul our crews around.
I am not saying the driver in the most recent accident wasn’t qualified,
and I know that person is suffering badly from all they've been through. I
just have some questions.
If we stop driving vans and pack crews into several pickups are they going
to be any safer? Do more vehicles = more exposure? Are agencies and
contractors going to get rid of all the vans they have? Are we going to
take seriously the responsibility we have to make sure we have the best
people with the best training behind the wheel?
I don’t have the answers, but I don’t think prosecuting the driver or
suing Ford is going to stop people from crashing rigs and hurting/killing
||The firejobs page
is updated as well as Series
462 and 455.
||Just catching up on They Said and couldn't resist a comment on Hickman's
post a few days ago where he planted a seed concerning the possibility of
NIFC going to the new Homeland Security agency......The folks at NIFC are
employed by all the resource agencies (FS, BLM, NPS, etc). Wouldn't it
make more sense to just take the plunge and move all federal firefighting
services from top to bottom, to an Emergency Incident Service under
Homeland Security? There could be the wildland division and the structure
division or maybe some other combo to include natural disaster management
(which FEMA depends on all of us to support anyway).
Training and equipping to deal with local non-fire incidents like
fires and vehicle fires is looked down on by our resource agencies because
it is not our "mission", not allowed by the "manual".
But it seems to be
OK when we do it for national disasters and the agencies can put on the
The recent Blue Ribbon report on aviation issues had a lot of findings and
recommendations that are just as applicable to the general wildland fire
business, including some serious organizational revamping. Nice that the
National leadership is taking the aviation fatalities so seriously. Too
bad they don't pay as much attention to the same broken pieces in the
larger fire service.
One of the articles on the NWCG Fire Leadership site reading list is a
15-page article written in 1997 by Diane Vaughn about lessons from the
spaceshuttle Challenger disaster. www.fire.blm.gov/textdocuments/VaughanWildfire.pdf
A couple of paragraphs mirror some of the recent discussions on TheySaid
about contract crews, structural firefighters and non-English speaking
personnel. Vaughan cites an earlier work in explaining how
"dominants" (i.e., hotshots, full-time agency folks, etc.) and
"tokens" (seasonal hires, contractors, volunteers, etc.) relate
to one another, and how that undermines accomplishing organizational goals
and can be harmful to safety on the fireground. It's worth a read.
She also makes a point about people pulling out their cameras in
"Remember Navon, at Mann Gulch, who stopped to take pictures— a
signal to others in the crew that all was well."
I recall one of the Thirtymile reports having a similar finding.
a vocal token,
I don't know if you take e-mails from somebody like me who is not a
firefighter. If you do, I want to say thanks. I live in the Lake Arrowhead
area of southern Ca. We have lots of dead trees from bark beetles and a
high threat of wildfire. One official said 80% are dead. I believe that
from what I can see. I want to thank those who are making what they call
the shaded break. They're going to be thinning out dead trees and
My grandson Dick who is a city firefighter helped me make my property
safer. He emailed me a couple of articles this morning and I thought your
people should see them. I don't quite know what I should do with them, but
maybe you can make them work.
Service prepares to thin
Hi Sara, thanks for writing in. I entered your links and shortened them
with words. There's some good and interesting information there. We
appreciate it. Good for you for being a responsible homeowner.
Firefighters from the San Bernardino area, anyone know if Arrowhead is as
bad as Tahoe? Ab.
||Workshop begins today in Mesa AZ on a long-range climate forecast for
the nation, followed by team breakouts that will plot how the fire danger
manifests in their regions. Hope to see some of you there.
||Here's the latest on the Van Rollover of last summer. Info from a
Be safe out there. If you must use one, pack carefully. Minimize top
In reading down the list of some articles on the fire news page, here's
one about the Ukiah trial of the meth cookers that started the fire on
which the 2 tanker pilots were killed. Amazing the defense some people
will use. www.pressdemocrat.com
||first one of the season:
heads up, everyone. had our first fire of the season last week (thurs,
Thought this would be of interest. This was the Cannon Fire that T-130
crashed on. I understand there will be a memorial dedication sometime in
June. I'll let you know when I get dates and times.
Links to this and other stories can be found on the fire
news page under air tankers. Ab.
I was just perusing your website (which I use extensively) and noticed
on your page about Fire Programs (2
and 4 year fire science programs)
that Cal Poly is not listed as a Forestry/Fire Science program.
We've got an entire fire concentration here (I teach 6 classes on fire
management), which is imbedded within the forestry major. Would you
please consider placing us in the "Forestry/Fire Science"
distinguish us from other programs in the state.
Keep up the great work,
||How many Barons and Sherpas are there?
Here is a
good place for some info and photos of air resources. Not sure if it's up
to date as far as numbers go. Ab.
||Here's a Question and Answer paper that might be of interest:
The Forest Service Preliminary Factual Report of Investigation
Airtanker N130HP – C130A Lockheed Hercules Accident, 2/11/03
||Re 10 fire orders:
Believe it or not, I even use LCES and 10 fire orders in structure fire
fighting; a good part of both can be applied to any emergency response.
||Some good reading here even if it is presented in pdf.
There's an article (page 2) on driving and wildland fires, and
articles on crews and line overhead (page 3), and fire use modules in 2002
||RE Jerseyboy's Post:
I think there is good reason to be concerned about the welfare of the
National Forests. One item in the 2003 Budget is an item for the
establishment of "Charter Forests", which are effectively
removed from Forest Service governance, and placed under the jurisdiction
of local "trust entities". There is little to NO information
published on the National FS website about this effort!!! Combine this
with outsourcing of natural resource employees, and my concern grows....
Some items regarding these "Charter Forest proposals":
As I understand it, all US citizens, not just local trust entities, have
an interest in the management of our forests - and we have environmental
regulations that require we manage sustainability for all resources, not
just "profitable" ones.
- In Colorado, the board of trustees would consist solely of county
No new wilderness could be declared within that particular county, and
citizens cannot use the court system to protect their rights in these
- Other proposals (e.g. the Central Idaho Ecosystem Trust) has the
goal ""to provide revenue, net of operating expenses, for
the beneficiaries each year, generated in a manner that recognizes
public values and is sustainable over the long term", and the
Forest Options group proposal, in which the emphasis would be on
forest resources producing “the greatest net value”. The emphasis
is to “discourage cross-subsidizing unprofitable activities with the
receipts from profitable ones”.
This has the potential to affect fire, as well as other resource
areas....I would suggest that research on Charter Forests is a good idea -
and that you let your representative know if you don't like what you read
(websites available upon request).
Tree Hugger :).
||I don't know that you need to develop a leadership reading list at
"They Said." I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that there
is an extensive one that you could just link to at the very informative
NWCG Wildfire Leadership site:
Specifically, the Professional Reading List is in the Leadership Toolbox
This is an excellent list, and everyone that reads "They Said"
should spend time reading the materials at the Leadership site and the
books on the list.
Thanks BLM Bob and BBTBDC. I was looking around for the bookmark I got
at the Division Chiefs Workshop that had the url on it. Great site. That's
what theysaid is about, alternatives to reinventing an excellent reading
list... and so much more at that site too. The link is now up on the links
page under training and education. Ab.
Here's the link to the NIFC Fire Leadership website:
Lots of good leadership stuff. Also, this
link to the professional toolbox:
will give you enough
leadership reading material to keep you occupied for a year or so. Maybe
||jargon/slang, here's a few more
A.H.T- advanced hiding technique, used when you want
to shade up and not be seen by the IC.
Type II bleachers- the big snow fences seen along
stretches of open highway, we were on a fire and all
the shots got to go play but all of us on the type II
crew got to sit and watch from the bleachers.
I just got a couple more words to add to the jargon list.
Build-Up: the appearance of cumulus overtimus on a clear, sunny day.
Build-Down: when cumulus overtimus clouds that looked promising a few
hours ago suddenly evaporate.
Land Mine: The results of someone taking a dump in the woods or along the
fireline. Also known as a Cornback Rattlesnake.
I added them to the terms and nicks
||I've been trying to bring myself up to speed on the "TheySaid"
conversations related to contract faller standards and certification. I
conducted a search and had some "hits" in the July archives
(specifically regarding S-212) training. I've been unable to find the
posts. Ab, can you help "guide me in"?
Once I'm able to read the archives, I'd be very interested in discussing
these issues. We are dealing exclusively with contract fallers on fires,
developing REAL training and certification standards for professional
timber fallers on wildland fire incidents, & developing a regional,
and eventually a national, interagency faller contract.
Thanks for your help.
NTF, I remember discussions of falling issues from time to time in the
past few years. Here's how to find something on an archive page. Once you
call up an archive, position your cursor at the top of the month, hit the
control (Cntrl) and F buttons simultaneously, type the search word or
number in the box and hit Enter. You can progress down the page and
hopefully find your target. Of course, you could just jump in and ask your
questions here. Ab.
||For those who do not know who Colonel Moore is, watch the movie We Were
Soldiers. He was commander of the 7th Cavalry (Custers former group too).
They were the first soldiers to use helicopters as rapid transports into
and out of combat. good movie - great book.
eric - PW
||woodsman20, re bodies on engines
All I can say is that there's some variation in regulations across agency.
In R4 I hear you say that BLM requires 2 people per Type 6 engine. When
BLM comes to R5, from out of the area, they provide 3 people. FS follows
the FSH 1509.17 which requires 3 people. Other agencies follow the minimal
standards of the PMS 310-1.
Woodsman, I don't mean this personally, but from what I have seen, when it
comes to contractors there's also some variation in tolerance of
performance mediocrity across regions. In my humble opinion, we need to
arrive at a uniform level of standards of performance. Those who don't cut
it should be sent packing.
The Barons are wearing out. We have 6, but only 3 have under 6000
hours, the flying limit. One of these has only 60 hours left. Other
regions are down too. There's talk of rearranging where they're stationed.
The key will be to not use the ATs except where they're effective, on IA
and if available on EA. Large fire use is least bang for the buck.
Don't know about the Sherpa. Age is a factor there too.
With wings falling off the airtankers, we have to do something different.
Whatever we do in the future to modernize will cost more. The questions
are how much do we want to spend and for what? The cost of each new C-130J
is 43 million. BLM is talking about using SEATS, but there's a problem
with incompatible radio. MAFFs don't work in most fuel types we would need
them for. We're trying to get more larger helos, but that's expensive too.
It's likely we will have less and will have to do a better job with
managing and moving around what we have.
||Hey Ab, here are some for the list.
Thunder Hut or Blue room - Porta-pottie
Mystery Meat - the Green meat in your sack lunch that has sat out tooooooo
"Im hearing Banjo music" what you tell your Eng. crew when the
folks that live in the house (the one Waaaaaaaay back out in the woods
your protecting) remind you of the cast of the movie "Dueling
Gator-aide Guard - USFS Cop at fire camp
thanks for all you do AB.
I added them to the terms and nicks
list. Thanks. Ab.
I suspect after flameboys's post you may be considering adding
"leadership" books to the book listings. If so, I'd like to
inform you of the plethora of other "self help" books available
and how much they've helped me. (Note: Please see my attached extensive
list) I've read all of them, or at least the good parts. In fact, I even
have a subscription to the "I Don't Know What's Wrong With Me"
book club of the month. I consider myself a darn good leader even if
others don't think so. I don't have any followers yet, but don't worry,
I'll get some. I know the rapid rate at which module leader positions are
being filled, so I'll get a job soon. In case you are wondering, wonder no
longer, I've also read "I'm OK, You're Ok", so I know I'm
"OK", it's just those crewmembers and all their personal issues
I'm worrying about. I've even purchased many of the books in the
"sensitivity" genre, just so's I can make sure I'm putting on
the right appearance, even though I don't really believe in any of that
I can't wait to get some real honest to goodness people to follow me. I
have to admit though, I'm not sure why it's taking so long (not that I'm
sure where we'd go even if they did follow me). I've even gone back and
reread some parts those sensitivity books to see if I was paying enough
attention to people who talk to me.
I don't have any real life or leadership experience, but I might be. . .
Yer next supervisor. (ECC1)
HAW HAW seems I've felt the same myself from time to time. Hummm, now
where's that book list yer talking about? Ab.
Here's the incident page for the Hawaiian Panau
Fighting fire in volcano-land is different.
||Have been really interested in the Forestry Technician/ firefighter
discussions. As one who was quite proud the day I was promoted form
Forestry Aid to Forestry Technician while a primary firefighter, I didn't
really care about the title nor think about it much. Technician seem much
cooler than a mere aid though, sides it was about $0.35 an hour more.
Why are Forest Service, BLM, NPS, Fur and feathers firefighters in the
Forestry and Range Technician series? Those series are established in
part, to provide technical assistance in the protection and management of
forest and range resource (according to OPM). Protection from wildfire,
and use of fire as a tool, definitely qualifies as protection and
management, of forest and range resources. The series is then broken into
specialties, recreation, timber, silviculture, and fire. The OPM even
notes that this series is likely to have very narrow specialization.
The Firefighter series (081)could qualify, I suppose, for the purely fire
control and prevention functions, but protection and prevention of
wildland fire in protection and management of forest and range resources
is excluded (see the 462 and 455 series). This make sense to me, given
history. Doubt that it is any kind of conspiracy to keep people down, sort
of is just the way it has become and govmint has no real incentive to
change. Bet if one of you left your position cause you just could not live
with that durn Forestry Technician title, there would be someone to take
your place. One of the problems with wildland firefighting is that while
we are telling ourselves what selfless heroes we are (and mostly are)
truth is firefighting, while not always fun, is very satisfying, and well,
fun. We all wish it paid better (except CDF maybe, if had known then what
I know now, oh well water under bridge). But till recently has not been a
real labor problem. Times change however.
What happened to the Fire Control Series? Could be those fire control
aids, wanted to work year round, and get promoted to those lofty GS-4 and
5 forestry technician positions, and fire control aid time didn't count as
forestry technician specialized experience and vice versa, so they
combined it. Bet it also saved OPM time and the agency money, by providing
Well now a question. Folks comment that the 081 firefighter series has
some extra benefits that fed wildland folks don't get. I can find any info
on that. The only advantage I see is the extra OT one would get due to
FLSA rules dealing with round the clock shifts that structural FF often
do. Not sure how that would benefit the Gov as 5 day 40 hour weeks seem
more appropriate for wildland. Also apparently the Vandenburg folks get
Portal to Portal which is good. Believe P to P will come, as a safety
issue to create a disincentive to stay out and on the clock, which is
common. Nuff said.
||The best book on leadership or the example there of is the book "
We were soldiers once...and young" by Harold G. Moore. The striking
thing about the book is his commitment to the troops to lead from the
front and to be the first foot on the battlefield and the last to leave
the battlefield. We should all strive for that same commitment.
||Anybody know details about the barons and the sherpa?
||Ab, letme try this...
The AT report at DivChiefs was that we could have somewhere between zero
and all but 11 ATs this year, as the 11 C130As and PB4Ys were permanently
grounded (probably). One stat Id not heard before was that if AT personnel
were groundpounders the annual rate of loss would be 267 people per year
on average. Unacceptable. Also heard we spent a quarter billion on
aviation last year, that's is not an effective use of $$. Anyway, FAA
(Sandia Labs) has been hired to look at the situation and make
suggestions. What they suggest may mean no ATs if the criteria they come
up with are extremely stringent and/or cost ineffective. There was a
prediction that most will be back up after inspection. P3s looking OK.
Even if all are back, we are still down to 33. We'll have to think
differently to be safe on fires this upcoming season.
Hell of a spot and no safe way around it except going the inspection
We'll have ATs probably. How many? Don't know. How much will they cost?
||Don't Know Where to Start....
Something else for everyone to think about, if you haven't already.
Something other than Tankers or Tenders, if a fire truck should be red or
green, and which set of gear ya wear.
As I sit and reading the news and They Said, I set back and think now it
was a couple of years ago. We now have a Homeland Security Agency, which
has taken over part if not all of FEMA. Interagency IC Management Teams
were sent to New York City to assist with the World Trade Center and to
Washington to the Pentagon. NIFC assisting in coordination of personnel
and equipment assisting with looking for parts of Columbia. Personnel
assisting in Southern California, and parts of Nevada and Arizona catching
birds trying to contain an outbreak of Newcastle Disease. All of these
incidents are requiring a greater number of personnel and resources than
the local area can provide.
Much like the Old Structural Firefighter of say 25 years ago, today the
Wildland Firefighter maybe looking at a greater calling. I am not saying
the Wildland is 25 years behind the Structural counterpart. I was one of
those Old Sturctural Firefighters, all I did was fight fire. But look at
it today, now I'm faced with: Haz-Mat, WMD, EMS, High Angle Rescue,
Confined Space Rescue, Swift-Under-and Floodwater Rescue, not to mention
all the Standards we never thought about back then. Two in - Two out, no
more tailboards, 1 3/4 and 3 inch hose, Standards 1500, 1710, 1720, and
the rest running out my ears. And the wonderful age of computer reports
and access to resources greater than anything I could imagine..
The world has changed and we all will need to change also. As much as I
hate to say it, could it be possible that NIFC maybe added into the list
of Agency of Homeland Security. Where else can the government call for
commands staffing, a large number of personnel, equipment and all the
support to man a situation or incident? The incident may or maynot be an
emergency and the Wildland Firefighter may or maynot be just fighting
fire. The military used to be the resource, but we know where that will be
Now think about the upcoming fire season. Think we will see any military
out this year? As I said, the world isn't the same as it use to be.
And I wear my yellow and green under my bunkers.
||This came in last week from CD:
Boise, ID 02-18-2003
AVIATION RESOURCES SHORTFALL: Following the disastrous airtanker
accidents that occurred during the 2002 season, a Blue Ribbon Panel was
convened to assess the health and safety of the Federal wildland fire
aviation programs. The Departments of Interior and Agriculture are taking
the initiative to mitigate the sources of high risks in aircraft and
operations. However, these measures will have some short-term effects on
aircraft availability and place new limitations on certain operations that
are worthy of notice. Thus the subject of this alert is to make you aware
of the potential impacts on ground firefighting efforts.
AIRTANKERS: 11 large airtankers have been permanently grounded and
will not be replaced during the 2003 season. The remaining 33 tankers are
undergoing extensive inspection and repair to prevent the structural
problems that have occurred in the aging fleet. There is not as yet a good
indication when the fleet will be returned to service in its entirety. The
expectation is that tankers will be late in returning to service as they
complete the process one at a time. This means firefighters may have
difficulty acquiring retardant support until well into the summer season.
LEADPLANES: Approximately half of the Federal leadplane fleet may
be affected by a decision to retire USFS Barons due to aging airframes and
lifetime limits. Replacement aircraft are being sought and once again are
expected to be somewhat later in arriving than the normal start-up period.
Early season tactical air coordination may therefore by necessity be
provided through other resources such as ASM and ATGS platforms.
EMPHASIS ON INITIAL ATTACK: Within the Federal Agencies, in order
to make the most of limited resources, emphasis is being placed on initial
attack in order to minimize acreage lost. Limited availability of
leadplanes and airtankers dictates that they will be reserved for initial
attack and likely will not be assigned to large fire scenarios. The
National MAC Group will provide updates on the status and availability of
limited aerial resources as the season progresses.
RECOMMEND: FMO's, Incident Commanders and Ops Section Chiefs should
advise firefighters that aerial delivery of retardant may not be as
available to them as in the past and to adjust ground tactics accordingly.
Operational risk management procedures should take into account added
safety measures to account for the possibility of reduced aerial support.
Apply. USFS, DOI, State agencies... whatever, you just need to apply.
There are seasonal jobs all over the country, so you might need to
relocate for the summer. Fire is a curious thing- either it becomes a true
passion in your life, or you hate it and move one to other careers. You've
just got to give it a shot. Good luck!
||From the video production company that produced the History Channel's
"Fire on the Mountain" show.
Tuesday the 25th of February @ 8:00pm NOVA is running two shows dealing
with terrorism; Dirty Bomb and Bioterror. Both shows were produced for
NOVA by Lone Wolf Pictures. Dirty Bomb will be premiering. Bioterror is a
re-airing of Lone Wolf Picture's Emmy winning examination of the threat of
I was looking through your book section and saw nothing but fire books. In
this day and age with all the leadership classes we take I was wondering
why you don't have any leadership books on the book section. One book I
recommend is Shackeltons Way. Hopefully you can answer this question
because our jobs are more than just fire but also leadership.
We have a list of leadership books to add but we all have been
extremely busy with our paying jobs and it takes time to set new books up
on the books and reviews page. Giuliani's new book is excellent. There are
a number of others. We would appreciate any more additions. Readers, if
you've read a good one, send in the title and author and a brief review if
you like. We'll check them out.
We also need to update the links page since so many urls have changed on
the new FS web. To those of you who use the page daily and have commented,
thanks for the prod. We be a'hustlin'.
Did get the firejobs page
posted last night as well as updating Series
462 and 455.
Never a dull moment, especially after a week of meetings for most of us.
||Just heard on CNN that Terry Barton got 6 years in jail for setting the
Some articles about that on the Fire News
The LP is sending a crew to Texas tomorrow (2-22-03) for shuttle recovery.
Our flight leaves at 0800 from Burbank and should arrive in Dallas around
1000. From my understanding, we will be doing either a 14 or 21 day
assignment, can't wait to help out any way we can.
When we get back, I will write back and share a progress report, the
bummer thing is, we were told not to bring any cameras.
||Following up on NorCal Tom's post:
To make donations for the memorial for Heather, Steve, and John you can
go to www.almanorfirefighters.com/donations.phpl.
Last year in October a group of us got together and ran a relay in the
Tahoe Marathon in Memory of Heather. Hopefully this will become a yearly
event and it will continue to grow. If anyone is interested they can
e-mail me at email@example.com.
Thanks Cara. Nice page and good effort. Is this the fund for the Engine
11 Memorial on the Lassen National Forest? Melissa was the person
collecting at the Division Chiefs Meeting. Anyone know how to reach her?
||Re Competitive Sourcing:
Living in D.C. during the winter, I've followed the contractors/federal
workers issue with a lot of interest. A few things that go on here that
might be of interest:
The first is that competitive outsourcing has been going on for a while in
many government agencies over a wide variety of jobs and professions. Some
of it has saved money, while other times, it has been a disaster. For
instance, the federal government decided about 4 years ago to outsource
their computer programming work, rather than hire IT workers. The
rationale given at the time was that workers and companies were plentiful
and there was no need to for gov't to pay the "huge" human
resources overhead. Then the dot-com bubble burst, tech companies in the
washington area folded, and now the government pays companies around $100
an hour for programming work. So, consolidated companies who were able to
survive the bust hire programmers at $45,000 a year and work them
1000-1500 hours on government contracts, and guess who is getting fleeced?
Second, there has been a large movement within the Republican Party for a
smaller federal role on all levels. (This isn't intended to be a shot a
republicans). Some of the fringe think tanks here in d.c. would like to
see the federal government disappear from many roles, and one of them
happens to be the ownership of land. One of the reasons that
competitive outsourcing is now getting a lot of discussion is that it
reduces the size of the federal government (even though it may increase
its expenditures). And the Forest Service, along with the DOI, are almost
natural targets because the ownership of land is so vast. This is not to
say that competitive outsourcing will lead directly to the wholesale
return of National Forests to the states, or to private ownership, but
there are plans being circulated for certain federal lands to be
"managed" by private companies. Again, this doesn't mean it will
happen, but be aware that this sort of sentiment does exist, and does
contribute to the debate.
How then does this affect contractors, most of whom are small entities?
Image a "slow" fire year, like '97, and string a few of them in
a row or 3 in five years. Many contractors will likely fold, and many
contractors will inevitably fold or merge anyway as the contracts awarded
get bigger and bigger. One line of argument i haven't seen talked about is
this: what happens when -- and again it will only be a matter of time --
extremely large companies who have the resources, both financial and
tangible, can " low bid" smaller contractors, effectively
creating a monopoly? (Think of what has happened in the aerospace
industry.) And though i realize fire is not yet the cash cow that public
investors crave, the budget continues to grow and the emergence of a
publicly traded fire-related company is also only a matter of time. Does
it matter now? No. Will it? Possibly.
Anyway, i realize all this may be pessimistic thinking, but hey, i live in
D.C., its hard not to think of these things-
Thanks for the stimulating thoughts. I'm always optimistic when
information and ideas flow. Ab.
||re: vfd cap'n
Ok, enough with the pathetic arguments. A TENDER is a TENDER because
what it has been designated. There is a safety issue here, as well as a
clarity issue. There was/is confusion in communication over Tenders vs.
tankers. So, in the effort to CLARIFY and PREVENT confusion, and
safety issues, the water carrying vehicle is designated a tender, ie. it
"tends" engines. A Tanker is an aircraft that carries and
retardant/foam/water. The lack of acceptance to "change" for the
safety and less confusion is ridiculous. Its a WORD. Help take care of
other, and make sure we all go home to our families, by trying to create
confusion, less chance for injuries/death, and whatever other other issues
need to be straightened out by accepting a nationwide AGREEMENT. If its
big a deal, maybe we could change the tanker name to "flying
Keg", or water
pig with wings.
Another thing I read that upsets me is the designation of Neaderthals on
buggies. I am a city structural fire fighter in a major urban area, as
as state wildland fire fighter. I have worked on engines on 5 alarm
fires, and big brush fires. to think city guys are any better than any IHC
is also pathetic. I have been assigned to Type II hand crews and worked
harder than on any structure fire. I have complete respect for any hard
working hand crew, IHC, Type II or even DOC crews, who I actually think
harder and more professionally than some "pro" crews. Please,
again, we are
all here to do a job, professionally, and to save lifes, property and
resources. Dont change the goal to 'whos better than who', and 'we could
it better than you', and this word is better than that word.
Ab also thinks this is enuf of tender vs tanker and will not post any
more of it.
I would just like to say that your site is very nice, especially the photo
section layout (the photos are stunning). I was wondering if you might
need any help with anything (for free). The reason is, that I am getting
out of high school and I want to be a forest fire fighter, its just I have
not experience or training. I talked to the person at my local forest
service office and they said to "get your self out there". I
know a lot about computers, especially Linux (I am a geek).
Thanks for the great offer, Kevin. We're OK for now, except for needing
to do some more modifications on chat, but we heartily appreciate it.
We like paging through the photos, too. Like thumbing through a baseball
card collection, only better. Firefighters write in to ask to use them for
training and ppt presentations at meetings and students ask about using
them for assignments.
Hmmmm, I think your local FS office meant get yer'self out to the woods
on a fire crew. Firefighters, this enterprising young man is from
Scottsdale, AZ; got any suggestions for how he can "get out
there" or make steps toward a career?
Kevin, offering to help out is an excellent first step. Check the
post from the professor, just below, and the university and college page.
In addition to U. Idaho, Humboldt State U in norcal and Cal Poly San Louis
Obispo in socal also have new fire degrees. Pima Community College in
Tucson AZ has a fire science certificate program. Fire in summer, school
in winter? Ab.
||University of Idaho, the Place to Learn about Fire!
Dear Wildland Fire.com
The College of Natural Resources (formerly the College of Forestry,
Wildlife and Range Sciences) at the University of Idaho has a long history
of educating natural resource management professional about fire, fire
ecology, fire management and how to use prescribed fire. www.cnr.uidaho.edu/cnr/
Up until recently we were the only university conducting hands-on
education in prescribed fire. Our prescribed burning laboratory began in
1978 and continues today.
We can submit very interesting pictures to your photo page of UI students
in action. One photo attached.
Want to know more, just write!!
Harold L. Osborne
Extension Professor of Forest Resources
Nice photo, thanks Harold. I put it on the Fire
16 photo page. I brought the info on the university
and colleges links page up to date. Readers, you can find this page by
looking on the links page under education. Ab.
While I do agree with you that some Team members are having their lives
disrupted even more than usual, I think the opportunity to expand their
knowledge base with "all-risk" type incidents out weights the
You're right, more and more of these all-risk events are coming forward.
With the world the way it is currently, we need to be prepared for
The more exposure these teams have, the better off they will be when
to manage, plan, etc. these non-fire incidents.
One solution may be to expand the team numbers with more alternates or
||I wonder how many folks are actually aware that NWCG adopted the
fire orders again in May 2002???? I had heard it was coming, but wasn't
aware that it was a done deal. I guess the next question is: When NWCG
does something, does it become agency policy automatically (for those
agencies involved in NWCG), or does each agency, then have to approve it
What a jerk! As one of those "neanderthals", I am deeply
offended. I don't know what your problem is, but we work extremely hard
under the most arduous of situations. Our fires don't last three or four
hours- they last for weeks. That's just as bad as a wildland guy
describing a structure guy as some fat ass trying to pull his overfstuffed
bunker gear onto the running board of an engine. Stay on the pavement- we
don't need bad attitudes such as yours causing divisiveness within the
I know you are just doing your best to get important safety info. out, but
the memo posts some inaccuracies about cafiene's effects as a diuretic. It
is true that caffeine is a diuretic- if an individual's heart rate is
below 55% of max (i.e. in staging, in camp, off-time). Once working at a
job like line construction, the heart rate raises, directing more blood to
the various muscle groups used in the work, and diverting it from the
digestive and urinary systems. This has the effect of putting the bulk of
their work on hold. High level endurance athletes commonly ingest caffeine
before work outs and competitions because of its benefits. Caffeine should
be avoided when rehydrating (post-shift), cameling-up (pre shift) and
during travel (especially when going from lower to higher elevations).
Just some excuses to keep instant coffee in my pack...
I had a few thoughts on some of the points presented by vfd cap'n. I have
worked in both wildand & structural departments during my 13 year
career and it seems that there are always arguments about terminology and
who does more or better training. I tend to agree that when you are
playing in someone else's sandbox, you follow those rules. However, NWCG
could find a way to become more accepting of NFPA and FEMA training
certifications. Although, I agree that someone with no wildland experience
should not be serving in positions like DIVS, structural experience and
training should certainly be applied to NWCG courses and positions.
Both FEMA, NFPA, & NWCG all offer numerous courses in fire service
leadership and incident command. However, none of these courses are
approved to take another's place. FEMA offers IS-195 which is almost the
exact equivalent of NWCG I-200, but cannot be substituted for it.
Obviously, some courses would not be acceptable for substitute, but many
others would easily cross over. Perhaps we could increase the numbers of
line-qualified personnel in many positions if policies for reciprocity or
substitution of similar courses could be developed. This could serve as
big incentive for experienced structural personnel who would otherwise be
turned off by having to sit through some very basic courses. Remember,
that just because a department is primarily structural, it doesn't mean
the department doesn't run interface or wildland fires and there may be a
large pool of interested personnel with a little incentive.
In my part of the country, a tanker is a ground-based water carrier.
However, when a large part of the nation is together on a type of
terminology, I think the best option s getting the rest of the country to
buy in, not change the whole thing. I'll call it a tanker here because
that's what I'm paid to do, but when I'm wearing a yellow shirt and green
pants, it's a tender all the way!
Doesn't sound like we're on the same department.
Yes, it is a great forum. I don't think I'm persuading many people on the
tanker issue, but it's fun anyway. Maybe a few of the lurkers are the
powers-that-be with NWCG, and they'll get the idea that instead of just
taking a handful of volunteers as seasonal hires, they need to
engage rural fire departments as a whole.
With a little help and depending upon apparatus/personnel, most
could qualify with some form of strike team or task force. Neighboring
departments should be able to create a standing type 3 IMT. As more
agencies undertake prescribed fire work, there's an opportunity to bring
departments on board as a participant.
Then, when the big fire hits close to home, the local fire departments
be trained and qualified to play a meaningful role.
That's my hope, at least.
Unfortunately, I think that your posts that belabor terminology might
have the opposite effect than the one you desire. Ab.
I have been reading the post that you have written for several days and I
have a few thoughts.
The one on 2/13 about the NWCG rules hey if you want to play on our
playground you have to play by our rules and the same goes for everyone
else, I would imagine if we came to your playground it would be the same
for us. I have worked hard to get the quals that I have and it is
frustrating to hear that some city guy thinks they should be a division
just because they have been on a city department for 20 years with no
wildland experience. All I have to say to you is if you want to fight
wildland fire and have no quals suck down your pride or your going to get
some one hurt.
The next thing was on 2/18. A person on my crew was injured in the the
line of duty, he blew his knee out. It took everything beyond the criminal
to get workmans comp to take action, he actually called his local
congressman to get help. Don't tell me that workmans comp will pay for
injuries and be there for you because it's a load of SH*@. Do not talk of
things you do not know of.
The next would be on 2/19 I was one of those "Neanderthals on crew
buggies" for eight years. You have no right in labeling someone like
that until you have done that. I am very proud of the work I did on the
Hotshot crews, we also did alot of work that other agencies took credit
for. You will never understand what it is to be a hotshot until you have
worked for a crew, however that probably won't ever happen because you
sound like you just like to sit there and complain.
And the last I won't even bother with because anyone one with half a brain
knows a tender is a tender meaning a big water truck.
In my experience with workman's comp, it seems the duty of the first
OWCP claim reviewer is to deny the claim. and then the claimant fights to
prove the validity of the claim. It can take years. Ab.
||I was browsing through your web site the other night and came across a
letter to the Governor of CA. The letter is full of bad information. As I
read the letter it didn't seem to serve any purpose other than to bash
We are all brothers and sisters in the fire service, we may kid each other
but there is certainly no reason to attack. The letter was from the
lightning series that went through in 1999. The worst part is that the
fires the person is referring to are on Forest Service DPA. Regardless,
there were fires everywhere and inevitably a few got big. These are
decisions that have to be made when there are more fires than resources.
The person who wrote the letter did not even sign their name. I understand
the forum that you have here, but that letter serves no other purpose than
to bash another agency.
I enjoy your website but this kind of thing should not tolerated. Please
remove the letter.
Fire Captain CDF
Mike, this letter has been on the site for years. It was put up as part
of a discussion on theysaid regarding perceptions at the time. As I recall
it was kind of a spoof. We thought there was a disclaimer with it as to
how a sender might be perceived, etc. Since this Ab is on the road, I
don't have a chance to review it now, but will do so and clarify it as
soon as I get home.
||Ab, here is a partial announcement for a 0462 series job on a military
base that is obviously A FIRE JOB and not part of natural resources.....
how many bombs provide a "natural ignition source". DoD has
wildland firefighters improperly classified just like USDA and USDI.
1) How come the Fed. govt. did away with the Wildland Fire Control Series?
When the Wildland Fire Control Series was absorbed, did any one think that
maybe Fire Protection was a better choice than Range Management, Forestry
Technician, or Biological Sciences??
There was a Wildland Fire Control Series around the time of the original
"Safety First" meetings. Any of you folks still around?
2) Can members of DoD bases join FWFSA?
Here's the job...
Announcement No: SCDW03143304
Opening Date: February 06, 2003
Closing Date: February 20, 2003
Position Title (Pay Plan-Series): FORESTRY TECHNICIAN (-0462)
THIS IS A PERMANENT/FULL-TIME POSITION.
CPAC POINT OF CONTACT: CAROLYN COLON 912-767-4346
Region: South Central
Organization: HQ 3D INF DIV (M) FT STEWART
DPW, ENVIR AND NATURAL RESOURCES DIV
FORESTRY BR, TIMBER MANAGEMENT SECTION
Duty Station: FT STEWART, LIBERTY, GA 31314
Duties: The primary purpose of this position is to direct and conduct fire
management operations for an assigned area of the Fort Stewart Military
Reservation. Prepares daily, weekly, and monthly prescribed burning
schedules, tower staffing, and burning plans for 45,000 acres of ranges
and impact areas on Fort Stewart in accordance with the overall Integrated
Natural Resources Management Plan and established priorities. Insures that
there are sufficient supplies, equipment and workforce to accomplish
tasks. Provides assignments, training and review of fire management work
of assigned personnel. Makes adjustments, varies sequence of operations,
and takes alternate courses of action as necessary to accommodate military
activities within the area, changes in priorities, time frames, and
special Contributes to the overall resource management plan by advising of
activities needed and in what areas such as detection, aerial burning,
fire suppression, coordination with the Georgia Forestry Commission and
military units. Prepares maps and reports. Coordinates fire management
operations in assigned area with the Timber Management Branch, Fish and
Wildlife Branch, Range Control and the Georgia Forestry Commission. Works
out mutual arrangements to coordinate activities so that common objectives
are met. Periodically directs and conducts aerial burning with a
helicopter and Delayed Aerial Ignition System on up to 5,000 acres daily
based upon weather and fuel conditions, following a written prescription
for each separate burn area. Monitors three automatic weather stations and
insures service contracts are implemented on time, insuring continuous
operation of the sites and an uninterrupted flow of data required by
managers in making numerous natural resources management decisions .
Determines fire detection and suppression assets required to protect
280,000 acres of military land from wildfires during all types of weather
conditions and makes recommendations to supervisor. Performs other duties
||2003 is already proving itself to be real interesting: IMT's
"chokin' chickens" in SoCal; an IMT on a fire in Hawaii; and
now, the Columbia Recovery project.....! And its only mid-February!
Has our good work on wildfires become a monster that threatens to overcome
our original mission?
I'm not downplaying the good work that is being done on all these
projects, or the need for the ICS organization that we are so expert at
bringing to the scene: rather, I'm looking at some of the longer term
implications of the non-wildfire assignments that seem to be turning up
with increasing regularity.
Look at our IMTs.....no, not just the ICs and OPS folks: how many Finance
and Logistic folks are in full-time fire positions? Do they have other
"real" jobs in our Agencies that don't allow them to be gone on
all these new missions? And do they (and the fire folks, too) really want
to be gone from home even more than our recent fire seasons have
demanded?? In my world, high school basketball is entering the playoff
stage, and Little League baseball is thinking about starting up: how many
more of your kids' games are you willing to miss................?
Some State agencies are not allowing their IMT members to go on non-fire
assignments: regular jobs at the home unit take priority, especially when
you have a small agency on a limited budget, and your most skilled
personnel are on the National and Area IMTs.
Don't know the answer to any/all my questions: just thought I'd throw the
thoughts out for discussion.
Heather DePaolo's dad, Tony, gave a great speech at the Division Chiefs
meeting today (yesterday now, Ab). For those who don't remember,
Heather, Steve Oustad and John Self died when their LNF Engine 11 rolled
over on the Stanza Fire near Orleans CA last summer. I wish our entire
community could have heard Tony's presentation. He gave all who didn't
know her a new sense of who his daughter was and reminds us how much we
continue to miss Heather, John and Steve. Money is still being gathered
for their memorial on the Lassen NF.
When accidents happen, we need to do better at informing families of the
death or injury of their loved ones - in spite of our own shock and pain.
We need to cut through the process of finding out who is the next of kin
and let them know from us or from a compassionate other as much as
we know. More of us need to know what is that process of getting contact
info and making that notification. We need to educate ourselves. God
knows, we want no more deaths. As Tony says, our profession is dangerous.
Our families deserve it.
THANK YOU, Tony.
PS I don't have the memorial donation information right handy but will
look it up soon as I get home... and put it up.
||Ab, I just want to say thanks to Tony DePaolo for the wonderful talk
today. Parts of it were hard to hear. Tony is Heather's dad. Heather and
Steve and John died last July in Northern CA in an engine accident.
I know this is sketchy but I don't have much time before I have to give up
this computer, just wanted to say a big thanks to you Tony. Heather
was pretty amazing and she was so lucky to have you as a father!
You are forever a part of our family.
R4 pre season agreements require three person staffing, and have for many
years. Regardless of what the govmit can do, thats what they required of
us. I asked our district years ago why they staff a type 6 with two? Their
answer was simple. They operate mostly day cabs - three firefighters in
the front of a ford fill it right up, and no ones comfortable. Makes
I was at a PNWCG meeting, it was recommended that private engines in R6
also staff at the three person level on the light engines also. That will
be a requirement in the next solicitation. (so far)
||SZ and others:
It is age discrimination! I'm 41 and have hit the same wall. With over 16
years fed time on FERS retirement- I do not need the twenty years/early
retirement. What I , you and everyone else should have is a fair and equal
chance for all jobs. I too pass the WCT each year, stay in shape and
perform the same jobs as anyone under the age of 37. I'm just not allowed
to have a "fire job" per these regs.
Now, before anyone gets their hair rubbed the wrong way- I have nothing
against anyone who has the enhanced firefighter retirement- primary or
secondary. My bone of contention is with the Agency/OPM/Legisilature who
allowed this discrimination to take place. Seems to me it would be easy
enough that if you can pass the physical, WCT and met the requirements of
and are qualified for the job- you should be given the job. If you are
under 37 or have enough years to recapture to 37 and get the
primary/secondary- more power to you. If you can't get the
primary/secondary you have to settle for FERS like most of the rest of us.
At least you have the retirement and benefits.
Least anyone get to wondering too much, I am in fire full time, do
suppression, prescribed fire, helo, training and logistics. I have
retirement and benefits- but am locked into a grade with no upwards
mobility. Thus if I choose to stay- I retire 16 years from now at the same
grade as I am now.
One last thought-I have talked to a lot of folks about this and you cannot
imagine how little personnel/HR folks, Admin folks, overhead within and
without the organization, legislators and OPM folks could care about this.
Quite honestly, I think that most folks could'nt give a $&%@! Anyway-
keep pestering folks, write you congress-man/women/person
(representative?!). Maybe one day they'll hear the voices. It may not help
me or you, but maybe somebody else will benefit.
||Re Crews: in the old days we only had to deal with IHC, IR, IA, same job
different title, so whats the big deal?
SZ: I'm 42, Agency wont hire me back full time but, after working for
them, seeing that I left their employ I can be a seasonal again. but they
want me to start as a GS-3, I'm a carded DIVS, go figure? maybe I'm to old
to teach any more? Still can pack the hill's.
Don't work harder, just smarter
X Sawtooth IR
I don't know what the particular situation you were dealing with was, I
was just trying to offer an explanation from times I have found myself on
the otherside. Personally you sound like someone with a chip on their
shoulder and I don't think were missing much if you don't want to come
play with us. I don't like to get into petty bickering and name calling so
I think I've responded to you for the last time until I see an increase in
the value of your posts. Good night and glad you're not on my mutual aid
||NorCalTom or anyone,
If: national contract engines I.E. type 6 have to have 3 people on board,
why doesn’t R-4 BLM require this or is this just another hoop we have to
jump through even though the BLM doesn’t???? whats up with that.???????
I've managed R-4 BLM t-6 engines with only 2 since 99. Ely, Battle
mountain, Winnemucca, Parker AZ. YFO, Or is DOI exempt from this?????
you tell me
meko, I agree with you.
I am not sure if you know yet about the event held in Buffalo, WY this
weekend where Rep Barbara Cubin (R-WY) announced she would sponsor a bill
extend PSOB benefits to airtanker pilots & crew. The link to the press
release, which you should probably post on the News page under Airtanker,
How is it the federal government can discriminate on the basis of
age for fire jobs? I just looked at a fire job announcement that said
if you were older than 37, you could not apply. I thought age
discrimination was illegal in the United States. Seems to me, if you
can pass the physical test (arduous pack test, jumper test...what ever)
for the job, you should be able to apply. As a 51-year old who has
spent enough time in the gym and on the road to be able to pass such
tests, I am incensed. What gives?
"Another man's world"??? Are you talking about what Neanderthals
hang in their crew buggies?
Funny, we don't put our bunker gear away in the summertime, cause folks
still have house fires and drivers still wreck their cars. And we still
have wildland fires in January and December around here in Colorado.
If you want to buy into the R5 "leader in all things fire"
image, please don't let me disillusion you.
Do we work on the same team? Call station three if you do, this
is a great forum and I observe more than I reply.
LP, Mt. P, nickname (Jr.)
If you have information on someone selling red cards on line, you call the
closest Federal fire dispatch center and tell them. They will get that
information to the right people.
||One trainer gave me a good example of how to decide if something should
be posted in our crew buggy. He said ask yourself "Is this related to
my job, my profession?" If the answer is no, the piece shouldn't be
||I had to send this one in again now that the national news is addressing
issue relating to safety of people working in the outdoors (Death of Major
League Baseball hopeful Steve Bechler.) http://espn.go.com
Two years ago, I had an employee who "went down" while taking a
diet/performance supplement that has both ephedrine and caffeine while on
project work. She quickly recovered but the doctors evaluation said the
exhaustion was specifically related to the supplement. The supplement is
available nationwide in many forms and is completely legal. Several
professional venues have banned these substances (ephedrine) from their
players... ie - the NFL.
The NWCG Safety Gram accurately describes the problem but seems to have
overlooked by many. In a spirit of safety, I reintroduce it again.
FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 08/13/2001
SUBJECT : SAFETY WARNING : Heat Intolerance from performance pills
Several recent events have brought to light an evolving problem that could
put firefighters at increased risk of heat related injuries. A number of
prescription as well as over-the-counter drugs and treatments contain
that interfere with the body's ability to maintain normal body temperature
during work or under conditions of environmental heat stress. Therapeutic
agents include drugs such as: diuretics, laxatives, antihistamines,
beta-blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, vasoconstrictors and others.
includes such substances as caffeine, ephedrine and creatine, which are
often used as additives in performance enhancing supplements.
In a recent incident four firefighters were treated for heat related
problems after taking over-the-counter performance enhancers. These
performance supplements are sold in stores under various names such as
yellowjackets, ripped fuel and metabolife (a weight loss supplement).
supplements contain ephedrine or ephedra (ma huang), which react in the
much like amphetamines. Problems with these substances are also being seen
in the military and professional sports.
Creatine is a natural substance that is often used by bodybuilders to
increase bulk. The downside to this is that it causes the body to retain
water in cells so it is not available to dissipate heat.
Caffeine is a diuretic, which tends to increase the flow of urine in the
body. This increase of fluid output, if not offset with an increased input
can increase dehydration. Coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks
caffeine, which also serves as a stimulant.
If you or any of your employees are taking any drugs or over-the-counter
supplements, please consult a physician or pharmacist about possible side
effects while working in hot conditions.
So much for what not to do, firefighters are encouraged to use sport
(carbohydrate/electrolyte) beverages (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) which
enhance fluid intake, help retain fluid, provide energy, and maintain
cognitive and immune function during prolonged work in the heat. And don't
forget the water.
I don't know what is taking place in the search area now but when we were
working the area that we were in the first two weeks of recovery, the
biggest problem was getting FBI and other law enforcement groups to play
nice and coordinate coming and going with Command. Other problem, a couple
of unnamed organizations had no idea what Incident Command System was nor
even how it was beneficial. TFS was running the unit that I was working
out of and everything seemed to run relatively smooth. I spent two weeks
there and we are still finding debris in areas that were thought to be
||another two cents,
i was the one who wrote about raising the bar. if you read the post
clearly you would have noticed i was referring to raising the bar for
other contractors not for shots or any other fed crew. we all know its a
sin to try and tarnish the image of fed crews. we are out of R5 and i know
that standards for contractors are much much higher here and i welcome
it. i would not be apart of the R6 debacle even though they seem to get
alot of dispatching not due to quality but shear quantity. it is
definitely a mess up there, one question comes to mind how did they go
from 150 crews to over 300 last summer? how did they come up with all
those srb's? they must have cloning figured out. is odf turning a blind
eye and just signing the papers? is anyone doing anything about this
before someone gets killed? i read on the oregon live site about a guy
who was doing some of the training up there and it was scary. he
commented that he was crankin out firefighters 7 days a week but he
definitely had obstales, he said it was very difficult to train these
guys cuz all the training was in english and 90% of the trainees spoke
spanish and of that 75% couldn't read either. how did he accomplish the
courses? i know from some of my experience most the training really
includes how to hide on the line. i even was told by a fed its almost
impossible to get rid of one of those crews cuz they run home and cry
discrimination or just change the number of their crew and return. does
the FS have any plans to increase policing of training or taking the job
away from ODF?
||My 2 cents from the Division Chiefs Meeting: Contractors will have to
have 3 people on board all Type 3 to 6 engines. National Contracts are
being rewritten with heavy input from R5.
||Hello All, I just wanted to add my 2 cents also.
To vfd cap'n;
I am a primarily a structure guy who works for two fire departments. I
know what a tanker is and a what a tender is. I recognize the fact that
when summer rolls around and my bunker pants are taken off and the green
jeans/bdu's are put on, that I step into another mans world. This is where
a "tanker" now becomes a "tender." I wouldn't tell the
EMS world that they need to change the term "ventilation" in CPR
to something else because a firefighters ventilation involves a chainsaw
not a BVM. We all speak the same language, just different dialects. From
my perspective the structure side of the house needs to get on the same
level as the wildland agencies...do we have engines or pumper/tankers?
water manifolds, water thief's or portable hydrates? deck guns, monitors,
or master streams? The list of structural terminology can go on.
Also on the issue of a common language on the fire line. Me thinks it
should be English for the same reason we require all firefighters to have
undergone basic firefighter training. It is the same reason that bugles
and horns were used on the fire ground years ago and those horns and
bugles gave rise to radios...improved communication saves life, lives, and
In regard to all the talk about crew types...
When I was young I had it all figured out:
The Hierarchy of firefighters was IHC, then type 1, then type 2....BUT
NOW, IHC, then kinda type 1, semi type 1, availability varies check with
your local retailers for details on type 1 crews, then type 2 IA, then
type 2, NOW we got a type 3
Oh, AB all how my head is spinning in this time of change!
||Thanks everyone for the info on the Fountain Fire. We must have driven
through 17 miles of burn. I talked to one hotshot form the Modoc today who
fought that fire. He said it ran and ran. They kept having to outdrive it,
but finally got to a position and with 3 or 4 hotshot crews dug line and
held it. Hard for me to imagine that. I also wondered if it was private
land that was replanted. Looked like it must have been. Thanks for that
If any of you travel near this, come have a look.
PS Gelobter's team is in Australia and Raley's team is traveling on
Friday to socal for the Newcastle virus detail. Busy time.
||The Jobs page and
Wildland Firefighter Series
0462 & Series
0455 are updated.
||Todd, do us all a favor and keep all those folks down in California
where they belong. While your at it and patting yourself on the back about
being "leaders in all things fire" find that air valve on your
neck and let a little out before you have to get a new hardhat. Killed any
||Just a word of caution to all those would be early season
detailers.......If you have the choice between the chicken disease and
something else, opt for something else. I have been down in CA for a week
now, and I must say, the work is disgusting. This is my opinion, and I
know they need people down here, but so you know this is equivalent to a
30 day mop up assignment in a dump. You have to wear a full body
protective suit, two pairs of shoe protectors, a hair net, a mask, two
pairs of gloves, and a face mask. Gets pretty hot when your pulling
chickens from their cages with three feet of chicken waste on the floor
beneath you (slippery too!!!). There are plenty of temp agency people down
here, and we are doing the same thing they are, so don't think that if the
feds aren't coming it's not getting done. There's my two cents, if I save
one person that likes animals from coming down here I've done some good.
"Don't feel like chicken tonight"
||I have been reading with interest the debate over contract crews, and
would like to add my 2 cents worth.
I was on a R-6 shot crew, and we were on a fire with many contract crews.
One particular contract crew, who shall remain nameless, had one person
who spoke english. And it was limited. They had decided to venture into
another division, and try out their new husky saws, with a little sport
falling. They dropped a tree into a small ravine, and almost hit several
of us. We came boiling out of there, and some words were exchanged, which
didn't do much good, since none of us spoke spanish. They left, and went
off to who knows where. The div. sup. was notified, and that crew was sent
elsewhere. To me, they are a big safety concern. In my experience, the
language issue is common, along with other issues. Sure there are good
crews, and bad crews, just like any crew, type 1, 2 , engines, helitack,
The comment about raising the bar kind of struck me funny. You can't
compare contract to shot crews, it's like apples to oranges. Another
incident comes to mind where in one division, which was a steep, deep
canyon, they sent in something like 8 contract crews to hold line IHC
crews had already constructed. On the hike, in they ended up medivacing
out all but 2 crews. So the shots had to hold up construction, because of
this. Not quite on the same bar, as IHC crews.-
||The reason R5 needs to be a leader in all things fire:
We're different. We have more people in Region 5 than in Regions 1, 2, 3,
4 and 6 combined.
The fire you saw was the Fountain Fire, It burned in 1992.
Can't remember the amount of Homes lost but it was up there in triple
digits. Most of the burn was on private land and private industry was very
aggressive on salvage logging and reforestation. I remember the area being
logged while stump holes were still smoking. Had this been Federal land
it would still be a brush field.
||Type 1 crews, IHC etc
My understanding of the "regional" vs IHC was only related to
where the money came from to fund the crews.
IHCs are funded off the top, basically the money comes from the big fire
fund before it gets divided among the various regions, forests etc. As a
result when Boise calls the IHCs go since they are truly national
resources. Much of the helitack program is funded in a similar fashion. A
benefit to these crews is the "national" standard which provides
the high GS grades nation wide compared to the GS5 through 8 you see with
Type 2 crews and engines working similar jobs but pay being different from
location to location.
The regional crews on the otherhand are funded along the lines of Type 2
crews and Engines, where the money is handed out to the agencies, regions
and forests / districts and the money allocated to individual resources
based on local perceived needs. Since this money is considered local the
resources may be held or sent out at the whim of the local agency
official, this is why you see some forests who's engines and local crews
get out all the time and others who rarely get out. Also the Type 1 vs IHC
seems to come up alot, if you look at the fireline handbook it is not all
that hard to meet the standards for Type 1 crew, the Hotshot organization
on the otherhand has very strict requirements to meet which far exceeds
that required of Type 1 crews. So in fact there is a difference between a
Type 1 crew and a Hotshot crew. Further confusion is caused when you
include politics such as CDF insisting that its Inmate crews be called
type 1, the same goes for smoke jumpers, both of these are called Type 1
and are very good performers but they clearly are not Type 1 crews by the
definition from NWCG.
So really there is not any restriction on sending regional crews out of
region and no reason that a Type 1 crew in R5 should not still be a Type 1
crew out of region (Type 1 uses the NWCG requirements and is a national
standard). My understanding of the reason behind the Type 1 regional crews
was to allow the local agencies more control of these crews and as a by
product hopefully free up IHC's from standby assignments but not to
restrict the regional crews to the region.
This is how it was explained to me, as I said before I'm into engines so I
may be off on the intricacies of crew politics.
That burn is the 1992 Fountain Fire. Totalled @65,000 acres. Went from SW
of the town of Round Mountain and passed Burney on the NW side of town.
The three major wind factors were in alignment on the start day. Normal
upslope afternoon wind through the Hatchett Pass, SW gradient, and for
measure the jet stream was directly over northern CA in a SW to NE flow.
Local resources were drawn down due to fires in central CA. The fire
like it may be contained at about 300 acres when a very minor convective
band went overhead. Observers say that the there were three or four very
small cotton ball clouds in a band that passed over the fire. The fire
vented vertically and popped through an upper level inversion layer. It
like opening the damper on a wood stove. The fire burned about 12,000
over the next three to five hours. Most of the fuel was even age timber in
the 40-60 year old range.
Where are you? Not in Reno! Are you in Hawaii? Some of your folks thought
||Report From the Division Chiefs Meeting, speaker Michael Useem on Fire
Management Leadership, 02/18:
Michael is from the Wharton School of Business and used some business
examples, some examples from the Battle of Gettysburg (Civil War) and
finally the story of Mann Gulch to develop points he wanted us to discover
regarding leaders and leadership. Throughout, his approach was inductive
with him posing questions, providing scenarios, and telling stories
followed by questions - which we answered. At the outset he provided
examples of individuals who have lead well(Mandella, King, Margaret
Thatcher, Alfred Sloan, a leader in business, George Marshall, who created
the Marshall Plan at the end of WWII, Mahatma Ghandi and Pope John #23).
He then elicited from the Division Chiefs the characteristics that made
them great leaders.
Some points that developed over the course of his interactive
A great leader should be
These leaders lived and talked their dream on every occasion. Every
occasion began with their vision. They always talked through the strategy
of how to make it real.
- have strong confidence in themself and others
- have the ability to communicate performance expectations and
- be able to "walk the walk"
- demonstrate personal sacrifice, determination and courage
Michael Useem showed that excellent leaders address the following:
One final point: Leaders make the greatest difference in a group's
performance when the group faces an uncertain and fast changing
environment. Great leaders surround themselves with an excellent team that
shares the leader's vision. In business it is found that the quality of
management team is a better predictor of company performance than the
quality of the leader alone. What is vital is how good the team is, who is
on it, do they share the leader's vision and can they communicate with
those below them. This has implications for fire management as well.
- What is our objective?
- How are we going to get there? Strategy for reaching the objective.
- When working with a team, honor the people and the history of those
- Personalize the message, show how the course of action will have a
personal consequence for the team members individually.
- Say what needs saying in a way that they will remember it. [For
example, tne CEO of a newly merged pair of companies was asked by a
member of the company taken over if he would wear a dress to the
meeting next year if a profit was made. He replied, "You show me
20% growth, hell yes!" Humor can help.]
- Communicate intent without micromanaging. Michael showed a clip from
the movie Gettysburg in which Union officer Chamberlin was eloquently
given an order to hold the line at Little Round Top by his superior
Vincent. Because Chamberlin was not told exactly how to defend Little
Round Top (was not micromanaged), he could innovate with a Union
bayonette charge at the last (6th) charge of the day by the
Confederates. The Union routed a Confederate force more than double
the size of his company. Memorable filmclip to cement all the points
made (It helped that Chamberlin with his drouping mustaches looked
like 6 of the 7 hotshots sitting in the front row!)
Good meeting so far,
i have found a guy that is selling red cards on line .. i need to report
him to someone. who is it that i can call? any ideas..........
||To the mescalero hotshots, you've been the best help. thank you for the
experience and knowledge. I hope to be back this year and start cutting
some line. hope to see some of you on the line and to others- hs, sj, ht,
eng, have a safe one
Instead of using "our" or "proper" terminology, why
not use common
terminology? Our department no longer use the 10-codes for radio traffic,
because only the dispatchers and scanner junkies could keep straight
"10-23" meant a unit was on-scene or en-route.
The arbiter of what is common in the electronic age is whether you can
Google it. A Google search for "tender shuttle" yields 58
only 11 of the top 20 were fire-related. A Google search for "tanker
shuttle" has 462 hits, with 17 of the top 20 being fire-related.
Yes, I agree that things like Nomex, positive pressure ventilation, and
compressed air foam are great changes in the fire service. But, calling a
tanker a tender is not an advancement in fire suppression technology.
Your arguments on the forest service engine are not persuasive.
Self-dispatching to a fire scene is freelancing. To then just stand
without reporting to the IC, until actually dispatched is plain laziness
("pay us to do this job, but don't expect us to work.")
Claiming that workers' comp would not pay is ridiculous. I guess you guys
earn the title "engine slugs" when you say an injury while
putting out a
wildland fire is "not job related."
||Mellie - you were likely looking at the "Fountain Fire" that
burned in 1991 or 1992.
I suppose it me not Fedfire you meant to respond too. I chose a bad handle
with Fed since
there was already a Fedfire. Next time I'll do more research into my
signature line. Enough
about that though.
I didn't say anything negative about the Mel crews or regional crews, just
said they were
allowed to leave region. I don't know a heck of a lot about how there
official charters are
written, but I'm pretty sure the name regional crew means something. There
examples of these crews leaving region before the IHC crews from the same
forest. The IHC
crews were being released from incidents, being told there were no
outstanding orders for Type
I crews and driving home to find the regional crews were traveling to
Colorado and Arizona and
filling the orders. I think this all gets back to R5 hording resources in
case of the big one.
If the IHC crews are being held to region to meet (hastily enacted)
draw-down levels, then the
regional crews should be kept in region also. Regional crews should not
leave before crews
that are supposed to be national resource. I don't have a problem with the
with some that did a very nice job and were willing to take any
assignment, then worked with
some that were, well, not so good. And yes I know that many former IHC
folks are now working
on these crews. The ones I know were those that were stuck and not being
pushed for promotion.
I also worry that all of these crews may be under the knife once the
funding fairy runs out.
It was also kinda strange to see the brand new nice gear, buggies, etc.
these crews were
running around with. They were like the instant Type I crew, just add
overhead. The end.
I know the Type I thing has been discussed and beat into the ground over
and over, but I'm
going to share my two cents. I'm not going to say anything about standards
or the merits of
the issue, but that there is just too much of this Type I crap going on
and too many divisions
of it. Type I IHC, Type I (trainee), Type I (regional), Type 1B (inmates),
Type I blah blah
blah. Just need to re-evaluate this and come up with something better in
R5. If you're
ordering resources and simply order a Type I crew, its anyone's guess to
what you may get.
Many of these issues are being discussed as we speak at the Supt.
Workshop, so maybe some
changes will be coming down the tube. Thanks for the space ab(s).
Sign me: AOLsucks (but its free)
From my understanding the R5 regional crews were what it says, a regional
Type 1 crew. So while you were in R5, you had type 1 status. Once outside,
you were considered a type 2 crew. Heard though that the regional crews
were being dispatched out of region as a type 2 crew and then selling
themselves off as type 1 once they arrived at the incident. Kind of
circumventing the system to make it work in their favor. This in turn kind
of irritates the IHC crews.
There IS a requirement in the contracts for three individuals (squadies
and crew boss?) on each
crew to be fluent in both languages. ( You R6 contract type folks can
correct me if I am
I personally have no problem with only three overhead being fluent in both
languages, as long
as these folks carry the Division Tactical radio and meet the fluency and
requirements of the contract. Where the problems arise is once again in
administration, and that is not the fault of the migrant worker. That
problem lies squarley on
the shoulders of the land management agencies that administer the
As a division supervisor and osc, it is my responsibility to be sure all
crews can communicate.
once again, I have no problem with three bilingual individuals per crew..
as long as I feel como
is working. I will assign crews according to their strengths and
weakness's as always. We do
this constantly with all crews whether they be IHC's, RHC's, Type 1's,
Type 1 inmates, Type 2
IA or whatever.
Please do not confuse a contract issue (three bilingual overhead required)
with the common held
misconception you alluded to that anyone who does not speak English well
should not have a job
in the USA. Nor should you muddy the waters by insinuating that all people
who do not speak
English are an overall hazard, and work for fly by night operators.
I spent sixteen years as on the LP Hotshots, ten as a Captain, and had
plenty of "white" kids
who could not put a decent paragraph together. We gave plenty of test's
orally as reading and
writing skills were about the sixth grade level in quite a few great
workers that passed
through our doors. (As always, counseling to improve these skills was
You are correct in stating that the universal language world wide for
aviation is English. I
know of nowhere in the laws of this great land that require everyone to be
"fluent in English",
as you stated, on handcrews. If that were the case there would be plenty
of pseudo English
speakers on all of our current modules without jobs! Just depended on how
in depth you wanted
to make the "test".
And just which brand of "English" would you use...Canadian Ay,
Aussie, East Coast, Boston,
Jersey, New York, Southern, Texan, West Coast, Inner city, surf city?????
||JJ, I'm at the Division Chiefs Mtg. If you make it even for a day, look
me up. Terrie.
Yesterday when driving east of Redding CA along Hwy 299, we drove through
a HUGE area that had been on fire some years ago. Blew me away and I'm
wondering what fire it was. Nearest town was Round Mountain and it
extended east to near Burney. The thing must have burned really hot
because it looked like it was a stand replacement fire. All the new growth
of yellow pine and ponderosa are the same age, small trees that are maybe
4-5 feet tall. Every so often, at least near Round Mountain, there are
standing hardwood skeletons but further west, for the most part, there is
no mosaic indicative of a "good" burn. I have not driven that
road for 10 years, maybe 12, so it had to have been a fire within that
time period. Just amazing! Miles and miles of it!
Oh, re the forest practices thread, on the Lassen NF I also saw some logs
being transported with huge piles of chips awaiting transport. Didn't see
the actual site to observe whether there was slash left on the forest
You should be directing that question to the people who violate rules when
doing the hiring for the contractors. In my opinion they and their bosses
should be held accountable if anything happens to those people.
Yes, the government should be questioning these things and not allowing
them to go to fires, but lets not start questioning the government for the
BAD contractors' stupidity.
An-R5er, I agree that those breaking the rules when hiring should be held
accountable. I also think that ultimately the government also should be
held accountable if they set up a system that fails in its design
to keep all safe. Policing is mandatory for safety sake. Unfortunately, I
think the current push for privatization is meant to absolve the
"government" (us) of responsibility that should be ours. Ab.
I think you have mixed me up with someone else. I am an engine slug all
the way and have no real interest in the petty politics of IHC's, dirt
darts, rotorheads and the new type 1 crews, I know that most of the real
work gets done by the hose weenies and Type 2 crews who don't have to the
time to waste polishing their halos every morning.
Seriously though I feel for the new Type 1 regional crews and the new
Helishot programs, from what I've seen most of these crews are pretty good
particularly when you consider how new they are, but from what I saw the
first year of MEL these crews had the Hotshot organization gunning for
them from day 1.
||Here's a question to the Government Overhead people who are responsible
for making rules regarding contract crews.
Why is there no requirement that contract crews be fluent in english so
they can communicate with everyone else on the fire line? I was looking
over the horror stories that were on the Net regarding a lot of the
Contract outfits in Oregon and there were a lot of incidents where a lot
of crews had only a few people who could speak english. That is a major
safety concern if a division supervisor or adjoining crew cannot
understand each other, especially in an emergency.
Going beyond the issues of discrimination, can't the government require
that all the people on the contract handcrews be fluent in english, the
common language spoken on the incident? Commercial pilots and control
towers around the world are required to learn english so they can
communicate in a common language, why can't the same standard be applied
I ask this question since reading several instances with Oregon and other
contractors that they were hiring migrant workers to do these contract
fire jobs and not paying the people properly, having them ill-equipped,
substandard training, not performing assigned tasks, and overall being a
hazard. It was indicated that there were overhead people who read this
site, how about a direct answer?
Latest dispatch information (rumors):
Call will come out soon for 60 eight person crews to go to California and
help "choke chickens." Something about CDF pulling out as fire
season heats up in So Cal. I know some folks working the APHIS project
now, and they say the work is OK but the management is a real CLUSTER.
Help is needed for the Shuttle Recovery, FEMA and NASA are not playing
well together, NASA wants to dump FEMA's management and have the FS take
over with an ICS organization. I hear my dispatch center sent 5 AD's to
Texas today and will be calling for more overhead tomorrow.
Looming in the near future I am told is another agricultural disaster. I
heard something about a "Mexican Fruit Fly" infestation in South
Texas. Supposed to be bigger than the Newcastle virus. Anyone heard any
thing, or is it just a rumor??
||I am sorry but I must disagree with you Ab. You must be in a fair land
forest. Where I live the slash is left in the woods. The type of logging
that you are talking about we call short logging or cut to length logging.
Here it is clipped and stacked. Then a harvester comes along, delimbs the
trees, and then cuts them to length. They leave the slash on the ground ,
and drive over it to break it down. Then the forwarder takes the same
tracks. Not only that P* Creek Timber Company has about 800,000 Acers of
land in our area, and they in the last 2 years slashed most of it with out
using any of the timber. That is the way it is here. I know I used to be a
logger, and this is the way we did it.
Where I am in the Sierra the limbs are chipped and hauled off. Not many
trees are cut, however. Ab.
I'm interested in your opinion about the new regional type one crews in
R5. Why are you upset that they can leave region?
I've been on one of those crews for the last two seasons, and we were on
the Rodeo-Chediski complex from day one, which was out of region, and I
believe we did a great job saving homes on that fire. Is it bad that we
assist other regions? I understand that there is some people out there who
don't like us because they think we take some of their overtime hours, but
this past season it was very hard for any crew to not break 1000 hours of
OT. It seemed to me that on most of the fires we were at they were
screaming for more type 1 crews. Because we are a new crew, many IHCs
don't like us, but when we show them we can work their opinions usually
change. Don't forget a lot of our crew is made up of men and women that
worked many seasons on other hotshot crews.
I'm not trying to start any kind of argument Fedfire, I am just interested
in your opinion and the reason for it. I'm also asking the for opinions
from anyone else on this matter…. Thanking you in advance.
There may not be too many West Aussie's out here. but there are alot of us
who know and/or care about your fire conditions; who have visited your
beautiful land; who have appreciated your help in 2000 and 2002; and who
have had a few VB's with Rick S and crew!! So we'd all like to keep the
lines of communication open, especially since we're all crossing the Big
Waters to help each other out on bush/wild fires! Stay in touch!!
||Are there any other west aussies lurking out there? I have been thinking
of starting a forum for west aussies to discuss fire matters. Is there any
interest or suggestions out there? if so get in touch . AB if you could
please pass on my email.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the rider that slithered onto the
federal budget bill at the last minute. www.oregonlive.com/
If implemented, the rider allows timber
companies to cut timber on millions of acres of FS & BLM lands with no
oversight and no revenues going to the feds. This one is going to be a hot
issue in the near future...
So let's start the ball rolling. A lot of folks who have never worked in
the woods are pushing large-scale logging (call it thinning or whatever
like) as some kind of magic cure for wildland fires. A very experienced
prescribed fire manager showed me some convincing data a few years ago
indicated that thinning may actually increase the rate of spread of fires
in the short term, due to the slash on the ground. For those who are
unfamiliar with the term, slash is one byproduct that is produced when
conifers are logged. The loggers only take the trunk ($), the
needle-covered limbs are left in the woods and quickly cure into a
red-needled mass that may be several feet deep. If deep slash in partial
cuts (thinned areas) is burned without piling or other treatment, the heat
produced from the resulting fire (wild or prescribed) often kills many of
the remaining trees. Logged areas need to be burned and re-burned at
regular intervals to get the desired fireproofing effect that everyone
seems to want. The same airshed and fire management problems that restrict
prescribed burning today aren't going to just disappear overnight. Do you
think the same emphasis that is being placed on logging millions of acres
today will carry over to the enormous commitment and millions of dollars
it will take to clean up millions of acres of slash? Since the feds won't
get any of the revenues produced by the logging, will the timber companies
foot the bill for slash treatment and prescribed burning?
One minor clarification: the limbs are normally removed along with the
trunk of the tree these days. They are chipped on site and trucked to
generation plants along with the timber. Ab.
Well Colorado is sending a twenty person crew to Texas to aide in shuttle
recovery. we'll leave tomorrow (Mon) and are looking forward to a new
experience. Talk to ya in fourteen...
Apparently two Type 1 teams are also ordered. Try to send some pics
||Thanks to those who responded to my firing question
I was sort of hoping for an idea of what you look for that keys you into
how you are going to fire, pattern type, depth etc, but I have done enough
to realize that I probably couldn't explain how I've done either, you just
sort of feel your way through, typically I have limited myself to strip
firing close to the line. Unfortunately when not on a wildfire my
experience has been that firing goes to FUTA type crews or those with the
pull to do the fun stuff (firing) and I haven't had much chance to play in
such a "relaxed" environment (I've been part of the holding crew
on probably 99% of the prescribed burns I've been on). On fires that are
"calm" enough for me to not devote 100% to putting the fire out,
I generally have wound up using the time to train others on the crew
rather than experimenting with new skills of my own. Also unfortunately
firing stuff when not on a fire tends to get people arrested :) Now that I
am not with a pure wildland agency, it seems unlikely I'll get much chance
for the time being. Although I occasionally eyeball type 2 crew positions
the income issue snaps my brain back pretty harshly most of the time.
Anyway thanks, I got a some new material to consider from that written.
more on contracting
As far as the contract specialists go, I agree 100% that poor screening is
allowing bad contractors to enter the system. These range from unqualified
crews to signing off equipment that does not meet specs. One crew I took
out had a Stihl 021 with a 16" bar as their saw, the contract stated
a larger saw was required (I have now forgotten the minimum size but I'm
thinking it was around 028) with a 20" bar, however the crew had a
contract for that saw signed off by a contracting official so the crew was
legal according to the liaison I talked to. I've seen similar problems
with larger equipment, water tenders with jury rigged small capacity
portable pumps in place of the proper pump (cabled into place with a hose
running up the outside to the top of the tank), engines arriving with bad
tires leaving with brand new etc.
I am also curious to see how large scale contracting will affect
accountability, if fatalities occur which can be traced to poor quality
crews who will be blamed, the IC for allowing the crew to work (assuming
the IC even realizes how bad the crew is, alot of people can talk
themselves into places they don't belong), the contract specialist who
didn't verify the crews quals, equipment etc or the crew boss with
inadequate training (who may have believed the employer when told they
were ready) or the contractor who skimped on the training. Personally I
always hold the dead as #1 in the accountability chain (they let
themselves get to the point that killed them) but there are often others
in the chain that led to the dead individuals final mistake and there are
always a few examples where the dead did nothing wrong because of lack of
knowledge (what they knew could not have warned them of their danger).
I'm guessing that you are not out west, might you be one of those areas
that have wagons and pumpers, instead of generic engines? I had an
instructor from MFRI and half the fun was trying to figure out what he
actually meant or explaining what we were talking about when he didn't
know our terminology. Entertaining in class not so much fun on the line.
A tanker has wings, rather than blowing off a large pool of resources
perhaps its people who want to play not learning the proper terminology,
as someone who has pulled a crew back from the line and strained my eyes
scanning the sky for Tanker 28 that was coming in to my location only to
see a tender with Tanker 28 painted on the side come around the corner a
minute later, I know what problems terminology can cause.
We once wore canvas coats instead of PBI, Kevlar or Nomex, wore leather
helmets instead of plastic (although leather is making a comeback yea!!)
and performed trench cuts instead of strip ventilation, things change,
those who don't keep up with the changes tend to run into problems. As far
as the engine pulling up and waiting to be requested I understand that
completely having been in that situation more than once, it seems silly
but it goes along with the rules against freelancing, without local
resources on scene that engine would have been perfectly capable of
starting IA on that fire but with your presence that engine was prohibited
from doing any work until requested, had one of the crew been injured
without such a request they would not have been eligible for workers comp
as it would not have been job related and the supervisor would have been
negligent. By pulling up and telling you they were there, it allowed you
to request a resource you may not have known was available, was it so
terribly difficult to request them? In one case the volunteer IC tried to
put the blame on the forest service because we IA'd their fire but once
they were onscene we explained that for them to continue using us we had
to be requested, the IC chose to send us home, the next morning the 1/4
acre fire grew to several hundred acres, required about a dozen engines,
couple of hand crews and some air tankers. The IC told the press the
forest service refused to come when requested, yet no request had been
made. These are the problems when people won't follow the established
rules. Dn't mean to preach at you but I find many volunteers like to take
shots at the rules "the paid guys" have instead of just doing
what we need you to do, in return I have always remembered my days as a
volunteer and tried to take the unique needs of those firefighters into
consideration (like remembering you actually have a real job that pays the
bills, unlike those of us who get paid to do this).
||I've been following the accident that happened with the GreyBack Co. Van
that rolled last season on the way to the Hayman Fire. Before I go to
that, AB, how about restricting that lurker who calls himself "and
there i was"? Its one thing to be wrong, its another thing to place
an uninformed opinion up that you have no knowledge of nor actually being
Shame on you! I just finished the on-line article Terrie posted and the
past articles regarding the accident and the plea bargain that was offered
to the 21-Year old driver. I have driven those model vans and they are
unstable because when the van section was extended the rear axel was not
moved back for greater stability. This was a cheap way for the Auto
Companies to make a little extra while sacrificing safety.
As to the driver, I will say "I Wasn't There", but from what I
have read in the media and what's been posted here on the "They
Said" board I hope the driver doesn't take this "offer" of
a plea with a fine and jail time. She pleaded not guilty for the serious
counts (which I believe she isn't) and I have no doubt that those charges
put pressure on the local district attorney that he made a mistake even
bringing her up on those charges. The DA was out of line morally and
politically. By reducing the charges as far as he did he knows he went too
far and has to save face somehow by getting some kind of conviction.
The driver of the van, Ms. Helm, is carrying a far greater burden with her
than what the Garfield Co. DA can ever do to punish her. To keep this up
just adds more salt to the wound. You should be ashamed of yourself Mr. DA
Jeff Cheney. Why aren't you bringing manslaughter charges against the CEO,
designers of the van, and Executive Board of the Ford Motor Company for
manufacturing a defective product? Ever heard of the Ford Pinto in the
1970s and what happened when the rear end was struck with the lights on
and the gas tank ruptured? I guess Ford didn't learn the lesson.
To Megan, I know this has been real hard but as I understand it there have
been a lot of people supporting you through this. I wish you the best in
what you decide to do and hope you can go on.
And specifically to "and there i was there", Shut your Mouth!
Well MOC, there has been at least one time in the many years you have
posted here that you were misinformed. We didn't ban you. HAW HAW. Of
course as I remember I caught it before your post went up. The Abs think
it's time for all to take a deep breath. Read the next post and what I
added as comments and let's all just chill a bit. Ab.
||Just wanted to say a couple things about a couple of topics that are of
The fellow (and I was there) who wrote in about the unfortunate deaths of
contract crews this year, I don't think he or she meant any harm, just
asking? some questions. They didn't imply anything. And of course some of
you were there, most of us have been there when something unfortunate
occurred in the fire world, south canyon, 30 miles, Los Alamos, etc, but
just take the lessons and don't threaten nameless people.
The contractor issue: There are a few good contract crews around, but it
seems to me that the bad crews out-weigh the good. One has a long way to
go to say that a contract can be Type 1 in R5, as said by an earlier post.
I don't know anyone who left a reputable R5 IHC and went to a contract
crew. The R5 hotshot program is all about experience and the ability to
lead your people, probably things that most contractors truly lack. But
then again, its not so tough to become type I in R5 these days, just ask
the inmates and those so-called regional crews (who left region). If
contractors replace the feds. it will be a sad day, and a day when most
feds. will leave and find a new line of work.
Thats about it enough of my opinion. An old hotshot supt. (KL) once told
me that "opinions are like assholes, everyones got one," I guess
that would apply here. Always a pleasure reading the site and seeing
experienced old school folks like "killer" posting.
Ab Note: I am sure AND THERE I WAS did not mean to imply that he/she
was there at the accident in Colorado. This is an old moniker that
appeared at the time of the Thirtymile tragedy and MOC, we Abs will not
ban this person from dialog here. This person has been a valued
contributor in the past. If you reread the post and substitute the moniker
"Bob", the post carries much less weight, as you say above, fed,
just another person asking some questions and offering their opinion.
As far as the "tone" of recent posts, many have been negative.
We all know good and bad contractors. The good ones work hard to buck the
reputation created by the bad ones. More power to them. Let me point out
that we're all on edge with the current state of world Order and with the
competitive Outsourcing pressures, even if we are Optimists with a capital
"O". No one here means another ill. I'm sure AND THERE I WAS
would have signed differently or I would have suggested it if either of us
had anticipated the undeserved hurt the post would bring.
As far as the comment about there being a roof rack, if I had had any
questions about the truth of that, I would have delved deeper before
posting. (Ab's work never ends, even on a holiday weekend Saturday.) I'm
glad folks wrote in with a correction. That's one of the strengths of this
site. Dispelling rumors. However the issue of safe transport to an
incident remains. There are more vehicle deaths on and to fire than from
the flames. I too see many loaded and top heavy crummies. People sometimes
do not wear seat belts. The rules/warnings for govt vehicles have changed
as a part of lessons learned from that sad Colorado accident. For non-govt
vehicles and with the never-ending commercial pressures to cut costs, van
transport is indeed something to remind us about prior to the next fire
||TO: and there i was
you just put yourself knee deep in chicken sh*t
I would like to start off by asking you where you found your info because
your are wrong in every aspect. For starters, dont you dare try to single
out the driver for anything. The charges have been dropped due to the fact
that she is, was, and always will be forever innocent of the events that
happened, and second the van that rolled did not have any racks on it. if
you dont believe me, i'm pretty sure you can find a pic of it on the
internet somehow. and where do you get off by saying it was probably
overloaded? its quite obvious that you dont know our company policy on
loading rigs. The only thing that was ever loaded on top of our rigs were
handtools so dont ever assume anything.
besides that you are missing that whole point here. those extended 15 per
death vans have been found to be extremely dangerous but has ford ever
acknowledged this? usually when a product is faulty or deadly, it is
recalled. ITs just like the deal with the chevys and their fuel tanks that
blow up on impact. Ive spent the best years in my life working for this
company and i was there in Colorado on that day. I would like to go on
more but im so mad im tired of telling you how it is!!!!!
"spitting fire and veins popping out of my head listening to stupid
I've been a long time lurker this is my first post.
wish it did'nt have to be like this.
Thanks for setting us straight. Ab.
||AND I WAS THERE,
OK big mouth, here are some facts you probably didnt know. The van
that rolled did not have any racks on top of it. I know this for a fact
because I was there. And you have no call even talking about the
driver because you dont know her. And just a little more fyi: if the
charges were dropped, it is because the state of colorado had no business
doing what it did. As far as im concerned and the rest of the company also
is that what happened was an accident. It was nobodies fault. So before
you go shooting your big mouth off again, you better know the facts, and
remember that you just might run your mouth off to the wrong person!!!
Sorry for your and our losses of those great young people. Thanks
for writing in. Ab.
||AND I WAS THERE,
I have friends from Eastern OR that were in despair over this accident
and the deaths of their friends. I don't think the van had a rack on it.
Look at the photo in this article. I also don't think the driver was at
any fault. If anything the van companies should be brought to task.
Everyone, when you write in, think how members of our fire community might
feel if you haven't checked your facts and you get it wrong.
Hear, Hear. Sorry I didn't catch it. Ab.
For Todd, questions and info on oversight but not the answer to your
hypothetical question of accountability:
Fire crew crackdown proposed (1/29)
"And I was there",
Were you there? The van didn't have a rack on it. Check this photo:
Seems to me the accident is more a result of the those large vans being
prone to rollover than any fault of the driver.
According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration),
rollover rates of "stretch vans manufactured by Ford, Chevrolet,
GMC, and Dodge are three times the rates of regular vans when carrying
10 or more passengers."
||Say someone dies on a contract crew (God forbid), and it's deemed the
crewboss lapse in judgment - who's likely to get blamed for that? The
weatherman, dispatchers, the Incident Mgmt Team? How will the bosses
of that crew be held to account? Letter of reprimand and "change your
behavior". What will be the lessons learned? How will additional
etc be mandated? Will the government have to face years of litigation
for hiring someone who wasn't watching out?
oooeeee, kettle of eels for sure.
With those costs I can really see what a savings we will be getting by
using crews like yours. Man it sounds like your crew is the saving grace.
Yeah, I for one am glad you are in R-5 backing up LP Hotshots,
Texas Canyon Hotshots, Tahoe Hotshots, Stanislaus Hotshots, Sierra
Hotshots, and the list goes on.
There is a reason you're not a Type 1 Hotshot Crew, you're a contractor.
List your quals and when you do so lets hear how you got them. Did you go
through the right process? Do you meet the quals of a Type 1 Crew? and
that's not just you, that is your 2 Foremen and 2-4 Squad Bosses also.
There are standards that need to be met and committees to be reviewed by.
After seeing a video clip from a fire in R-6 (if anyone remembers, please
chime in) from a guy I know who was flying Air-Attack, the bar you speak
of being raised by contractors, in my opinion is only a couple of inches
off the ground. I watched the IC from a Type 1 IIMT go ballistic over the
poor performance of the many contract crews that were on this fire. The
crews did not know any of the rules of engagement, fire behavior,
line-construction specs, and basic firefighter safety, it was the most
pathetic thing I have ever seen.
The only work and line that held was done by the 4 Type 1 IHC crews on the
fire. Yes, you said a mouth full when you mentioned about ruffling
||Re Fire Behavior:
the class is a base. just go out and play. watch the effects that you have
caused. this is how you learn. there is no textbook answer. you have to
see what it does. Just use caution. be heads up and have resources in
||Hi Ab, here's an article of interest.
Bush budget too small to fight wildfires, Western senators say
Ab note: The Fire News page under wildfire
links to this article, the rollover article and to one from Hawaii that
mentions the California handcrews. There's an article from the Missoulan
"Tanker crews air their concerns" on that page. Also under the
airtankers option, articles reporting "Forest Service says plane's
age, modifications could have played key role in CA. airtanker
crash". If you have time and interest, there's lots to read.
||Was just reading about the families of the firefighter
killed in the van rollover suing Ford. I had heard
earlier that the charges against the driver were
dropped because if she was found negligent there would
be no grounds to sue Ford. I also see them not winning
due to there being a added cargo carrier on top of
the Van that was not an option from Ford, and it was
probably overloaded. It does not take much to exceed
the max loading for them. After the accident all
Forest Service vans had them removed, but you still
see contractors' vans with cargo lashed to the roofs.
AND THERE I WAS
AMEN to your last sentence in your post dated 2/14!!
I would like to add, God forbid any firefighters get hurt or killed due to
me not providing the
crew bosses & Capt's that work for me the proper training, skill level
and leadership abilities
to make the correct judgment calls!
||This week we have received a few questions on what
type of radio to buy for fire. The contract states a
Kenwood or King that is able to operate on Federal and
State frequencies. The states of OR and WA have what
are called interstitial frequencies that are so close
together they are actually overlapping, and only the
newer radios are able to operate on these.
We have been recommending the King GPH. The LPH, MPH,
EPH does not operate on these frequencies. The GPH was
introduced to be able to operate on interstitial freqs.
The problem with bringing a Kenwood to a fire is that
not many people are familiar with how to program them
and you will have to do it yourself.
The NIFC fire frequencies are not to used in radios
putting out more than 10 Watts, so a mobile is not a
Digital radio is a totally different story, I know of
BLM folks hiding their old Kings so they don't have to
turn them in.
You're right, you probably will get hung if someone gets seriously injured
or killed on your watch. That is the way it is today. And, no it ain’t
In the past if we did our job to the best of our ability and didn’t
blatantly disregard safety or other regulations, your supervisors would,
sometimes, actually fight for you. Somehow I don’t believe that that
will happen now.
All the reasons you gave for a hasty conclusion to the 30 Mile
investigation are probably correct. The investigators were under some
extreme pressures from a lot of different sides, not the least of which
were the families and friends of the deceased. I don’t know if taking
more time to try to figure it all out would have had a different outcome
or not. Like you say, there are other factors such as politics and
management expectations to take in to account. Reality bites.
The fact that we can’t accurately predict extreme fire behavior effects,
only makes me want to err more on the side of safety when I get into a
situation I don’t feel good about. Is that why did the Entiat IHC
disengaged when they did?
The fire behavior was not totally un-predictable, it had already run up
the slope on the east side of the river and spotted up drainage following
the topography. Everyone there had witnessed torching, spotting, running,
and extreme resistance to control even on the smaller spots. Add in the
fact that they were on a dead end road and it all adds up to a bunch of
I still don’t agree with you about the lookout, there wasn’t one so we’ll
never know. There is no need hashing that out here.
You mentioned Tom Leuschen’s work over the last year and a half. I am
pretty sure that if Tom does not agree with the findings or the
disciplinary actions, he will not let it lay.
I was addressing the fact that there was not much accountability in the
South Canyon and that is why we are seeing the pendulum swing to the other
I do know one thing however, God forbid any of my crew members get bad
hurt or killed because of my poor judgment, I won’t blame the weather
guy or the dispatchers.
||All the firing techniques that I know are based on the principle of
flaming zone depth and how much hostile fire is against your line. You use
different lines and spots of fire to control the amount of heat that is
impinging on your indirect line. If you have a favorable wind and slope
you can set big, deep head fire. If you have favorable slope but adverse
wind you light small depth fire and control how much heat you get against
the line. Much depends on the wind more than slope. And it gets really
sketchy if the wind is at odd angles (not 180 or 90) against your line.
You use lighting techniques that will control the depth of the flaming
zone accordingly. "Z" shapes, "7" shapes,
"S" shapes, "V" shapes, spikes, all send a certain
amount of fire toward or away from your line you want to hold. Ab if this
paragraph makes no sense to you feel free to trash it.
I just wanted to remind everyone the Nevada Division of Forestry's
Seasonal Firefighter Application process closes March 3, 2003. Take a look
at the Announcement.
NDF is hiring Firefighter I and II's with a high pay scale. I encourage
everyone interested to submit an application.
I look forward to seeing some new faces this summer.
The Jobs page and
Wildland Firefighter Series
0462 & Series
0455 are updated.
||I need help getting some personnel trained in ICS 200 and ICS 300
classes. I heard that there was some training at the Big Tujunga Training
Center on the Angeles NF. If anyone can direct me to that or help me out,
I would appreciate it.
||R3 Dispatcher talks about being released from a detail after filing a
SAFECOM and suggests the release was retribution for the filing.
First off, R3 Dispatcher is correct -- there is not supposed to be any
retribution. However, being released from an assignment is really kind of
a gray area - fire assignments are not a right, like freedom from
harassment at work is. Being released from a fire assignment isn't like an
adverse action, and it doesn't enjoy the same protections as your
employment status and conditions. R3 Dispatcher might have been released
because the assignment was over, or because he/she was not doing a good
job and/or was a general pain in the ass, and the SAFECOM didn't have
anything (or much) to do with it.
I'd suggest that R3 Dispatcher directly ask the supervisor why he/she was
released - and might learn something interesting in the process. Did R3
Dispatcher get a performance rating for this detail assignment? If not, it
might not be too late to ask. If it turns out that R3 Dispatcher WAS
released because of filing a SAFECOM, then the supervisor could be taken
to task and perhaps given an attitude adjustment about SAFECOMs. But R3
Dispatcher should be ready to hear some things about job performance that
might not be too nice ... or might even find out that it was just time to
go, because the work was winding down.
Pappy sounded a bit surprised to learn TheySaid's audience includes folks
at the Washington offices and that TheySaid was an unlikely source of
information. It's been mentioned here before that our audience includes
those at all levels of many wildland fire agencies. We here at
while trying to keep our egos in check, like to regard TheySaid as more
of an "obligatory" information source than an
"unlikely" one for all
wildfire managers and administrators.
After all, where else are these same leaders able to view the thoughts and
opinions of the those affected by the policies they legislate, mandate,
issue. It should come as no surprise to long time readers that not only do
these top level folks often read TheySaid, they also send in their own
which provide a much needed perspective. They are also a part of this
This Ab would add that some of the issues that come up here may not
have been considered by our leaders and some of the suggestions for
solutions offered here provide a larger pool of options or solutions that
they might consider.
||Space shuttle recovery
Intelligence though EACC today (2/14)
-NICC received orders for 70 type 2 crews yesterday to support the Space
shuttle recovery effort
-They expect orders for an additional 100 crews
-Several IMT's will be activated to be in place early next week
-Unclear which geographic areas will will the orders
-assignments are only open to Federal employees and AD's ("The Office
of General Council for
the Federal Government in Washington, DC has determined that there is not
an agreement by which
State Employees can be officially mobilized to support the Shuttle Debris
The Southern Area is replacing the National Guard troops who have been
debris searches. Crews will be gridding forested areas searching for
shuttle debris. Orders are
being placed with an F code (FEMA charge code).
THEORY - of how spacing of the ignition and the different patterns are
SUPPOSED to affect the burn....
To answer your question, think about what you're asking first.... there is
no one right answer because of all the possibilities including: fuel
model, conditions, slope, wind, etc.... but here is one answer that I
think most will agree with, its called "Experience". The way to
get this.... figure out a position working for ops that will give you a
front row seat on many fires.... emphasis many fires. Every
situation is different. The class room stuff gives you the foundation to
build on... but you knew that.
||Backburnfs, and others:
I'm glad we're talking about this. I am all for accountability for
those who screwed up. The problem in the case of Thirtymile is that
many parts of the investigation are so poorly thought through, that it's
still not really certain who screwed up and how. No, I don't think
there's an intentional coverup, nor do I think the investigators were
incompetent. I'm certain every one of them was trying to do their best
in very difficult situation. But they were under a very tight time
frame, and trying to make sense of an event like this in too short a
time can lead to the kinds of conclusions such as I pointed out. There
may also have been some encouragement by management to make sure they
found who was at fault (I'm guessing here, now). This would have also
led to hasty conclusions. But the point I'm making, when you strip away
everything else, is the way the investigation said that all 10 orders
were violated could be applied to almost anyone on any fire. I return
to my example that, according to the language in the investigation, if I
post lookout, and that lookout's view is momentarily covered by smoke,
I've violated SFO #8. Let me give you another example: Suppose I
identify a safety zone that meets the size requirements in the
book" based on expected fire behavior in that fuel type. We all know
these size requirement acoount for radiant heat only, not convective
heat. Suppose then, a column unexpectedly collapses nearby and sends a
whole bunch of convective heat our way, and we deploy in that zone.
Suppose one crewman has a defective shelter and he dies. Am I at
fault? The interpretations of the fire orders are so fluid I could
either be exonerated or hung from the yardarm depending on - what? the
prejudices of the investigators? the political climate at the time? The
chief's inclination? Putting firefighters in this kind of bind worries
There's another factor here, too. Tom Luschien, a fire behavior expert
in Winthrop, has spent the last year and a half studying the behavior of
the Thirtymile fire. He is finding that both the entrapment fire (that
cut off their escape down the road) and the fatality fire appear to have
been caused by columns leaning over in unexpected ways and at unexpected
times (I'm simplifying this for the sake of space). Neither of these
events could have been predicted with our current fire behavior
understanding. The deployment site, even the rockslide where the four
died, would have been a safety zone, given the fire behavior that they
were experiencing and was predicted. The reason the four were sitting
there was they fully expected to watch the fire burn past them.
Now there can be a lot of argument about whether Tom's findings have
merit or not, but they at least raise questions as to the accuracy of
conclusions in the report, (again, no disrespect to the investigators;
they had to do this in-what- 45 days, while it has taken Tom a year and
a half to begin figuring this out). Give these questions, it seems the
prudent thing to do would be to reopen the investigation in the interest
of tyring to understand what really happened. Yet, the Forest Service
brass flatly refuses to do so (I've got this direct from the Regional
Forester). I don't know why. But to answer your question about what I
would do, this is it. I would re-open the thing and spend the time and
resources to get the most accurate answers possible, then take the
personnel actions forward from that point as may be warranted.
P.S. The reason a land-based lookout would also have died is because
both sides of the canyon were completely crispy-fried when the thing
blew up. Any place from which a lookout could have seen the fire would
have been a deathtrap.
||I wish there was more being told about the Associated Press story about
the 11 USFS employees who were "diciplined" over the four young
firefighters who died almost 18 months ago in Washington State on the
This privacy rule that our federal fire agencies and the Government can
use when they take "personnel action" need to be changed when
fatalities occur that show who got the blame for what and why, what
punishment was handed out, and who didn't get action taken. In 1985 when
the Butte Fire Shelter Deployment took place the original investigative
video had the people involved discussing the whos-whats-wheres-whys and
hows down to the details of the incident. If you have an original copy of
the video when it came out in 1986 hold onto it. If you order either a new
copy or the abridged copy every time a name or agency he/she worked for
was mentioned it was edited out. This kind of action either with covering
names or the minute stuff makes me worried about the truth and detain in
all these incidents, and why so much 'Political Correctness' is allowed.
I want these secrets to stop. If you were there and witnessed or were
part of the incident then everything should be laid out, especially the
things that lead up to the very end results: disciplinary actions taken,
terminations, or legal actions. We saw this with parts of Storm King (both
the Government Report and the Book) where we saw how inappropriate or
non-existent the actions were.
If a major crime occurs against the public or something else its all
laid out in the press or in legal record for public viewing from start to
finish, especially when the one found guilty is lead away to jail.
We all can learn from the incident report on how it happened, why it
happened, and hopefully how to avoid something like this from happening
again. Not knowing what the individuals actions were on the fire and what
there 'disciplinary' action was worries me, not from a retaliatory or
blame view, but more from who didn't get 'disciplined' and why. The
reasons I bring this up should concern us all when the next incident
happens and the upper level management needs "someone to hang out to
dry". Will I get the blame if I'm doing my job, and Incident occurs,
and someone needs a scapegoat to save a politically connected person? We
saw what happened when Enron and WorldCom got caught "cooking the
books" that cost investors billions of dollars and people's
retirement funds. The people involved with it were named and their
involvements publicly made known.
If we are going to have accountability, then it needs to be from the
bottom all the way to the Top of the Food Chain. Right now the blame-game
always seems to stay at the mid-level and lower, and reaches no higher.
Here we are today and I can't help but feel that it's still
"Business as Usual". We can't keep doing this. Something has to
||Old Fire Guy,
I should have been careful when saying my forest prefers "all"
requested resources to be self-reliant. In my post I was referring to
contract or agency resources, or at least that's what I meant to say.
My opinion is that if a contract provides payment for self subsistence
or if an agency employee has been issued a method of self payment, then
they should arrive ready to support themselves. Corporate credit cards
are easy to obtain and if paid within the allocated time there should be
no extra expense. Quite the opposite in some cases since a couple of
the engine crews referred to in my post, and others in the past, chose
to sleep in a nice, quiet, public area for free, but still received the
full perdiem rates.
Other agency engines and crews providing assistance, such as BLM,
CDF, and other FS are mostly all able to subsist on their gov't issued
credit cards. A large majority of them prefer to so they can select
their own sleeping and eating places. I'm unsure how our preference
means we are trying to transfer our costs or workload to the resources
home unit. Just because a resource would "rather" have us
them around paying bills isn't a good enough reason to change my mind.
This is the main reason agency employees were given purchasing
authority in the first place. If a contractor is unable to meet the
requirements of their contract, they have a problem needing attention.
It is quite common for us when ordering resources to state on the
resource request that engine or crews arrive self sufficient. However,
regardless of our druthers, in the event a resource arrives and is
without means of self support we are still very happy to have them and
more than willing to provide the arrangements.
In a perfect world, there wouldn't even be the excuse of everyone
not wanting to use the PCMS program to pay their bills when they got
home. (PCMS = Federal method of paying bills, if you don't know what
it is, you are lucky!) My apologies if my prior post sounded callous
or abusive to those willing to provide a helping hand. It was not my
More than 'nuff said.
||Here's the beginning of the Big Bar
Complex, 1999 photo page. In addition to pics of Joe Stutler who just
retired there are a few photos of Tom Hutchison whose retirement party is
coming up. <chortle> how embarrassing, Flaps Down, Tom... Also one
of Lanky and colleagues. Heh, Johnny, gotcha. You too, Rich.
I will work on this some more. You don't know how many photos there
are. Kinda daunting. I have the photos scanned but sizing them, making
thumbnails and writing description takes time... as the Abs well know.
||"Backburnfs" talks about accountability for the overhead on
the South Canyon fire that are still alive. How about accountability for
the Grand Junction fire managers that: failed to initiate initial attack
for several days as mandated in their Fire Management Action Plan, and as
directed by their District Manager; didn't use existing resources such as
air tankers that sat on the ground for several days; didn't request
"outside help" in the midst of a critical fire season; failed to
pass critical weather info (Chris Cuoco's Red Flag warning update) to
ground-pounders; refused to provide a fixed-wing observer over the fire as
requested by Don Mackey; and refused to provide requested air tanker
support unless "structures were being threatened."
And, at season's end, these same GJD fire managers received a QSI
(Quality Step Increase: the gift that keeps on giving, year after year,
Accountability is a slippery slope that, once you get on it, it's tough
to get off!! Let's hope that when these tragic events happen in years
ahead, that the whole scope of accountability is addressed!
||Did anyone attend the Sourcing meeting today at the Angeles S.O.? If so
....fill us in
||a couple days back i saw a post that i consider cost ignorance. being in
the private sector we have to know how much things cost us and yes we add
profit margin. the post had something to do with a guy thinkin absurdly
that his engine costs the tax payer 700 a day and was whiny that some
contractor was getting 1500. I'm sure that the 700 was only the cost of
personal being that would only be an average of 17.50 per hour for the 4
with a ten hour shift. next time buddy add in the 275k engine,400 per man
ppe etc., 2400.00 in radios, 2500.00 per season in incidentals (batteries,
tires, maint., etc) and you'll see that his price is not too far out of
line. That is if he's taken care of his personnel.
by now i am sure you've figured out that yes i am a contractor and
proud to be in R5. we are different in that we work all year. I also read
a couple of posts back about the Natl Contract Crews contract on how that
is supposed to make things more clear. well it didnt, i personally think
that it was a step backwards from existing R5 contracts I'm told that its
changing and I hope for the better, (i got a feeling someone up north
helped write it) , anyone can say they are type 2 IA we can prove it, heck
if there was a type 1 we could prove that too, (we meet the reqs. but that
agency affiliation is a barrier) . i know that R6 has a huge problem with
accountability (150 new crews in one summer is a feet the fs couldn't do
nationwide, take it away from ODF!). down here we have had liaisons at all
of our training sessions except a few in the last six seasons and the CORs
pour over the paperwork, crews and vehicles, plus the mechanics have their
say too. As things change to more contracting you fs guys need to be
hammers on the bad contractors and get rid of them (if there is a will)
let them plant trees or somethin other than fire. find out how the other
gov agencies control there contractors. we got the best military built buy
contractors, the best space agency built buy contractors (dont go there
about the shuttle) and we have the best fire suppression with the help of
contractors. but the fs is falling behind the others in their policing
abilities. i know you guys can figure it out, we have set the bar high and
if the other guys can come close your jobs will be easier. My opinion on
contractors run fires is that its not a good idea without a tough
this should ruflle some feathers
||I am curious, has anyone had any "back-stabbing" or
"retribution" for filling a SAFECOM.
Why am I asking? It seems to have happened to me, the first time and
being a aircraft dispatcher it was not the first one I have done, but
first one on this district where I am (was) on detail. I was taught no
action can be taken against the inputter, but in my case, I got released.
What make you think that a land based lookout would have been killed
also? The only folks who died were the ones who picked the rotten
After the South Canyon disaster everyone was crying for ACCOUNTABILITY,
all the overhead on that fire, that didn't die, are still in supervisory
in fire management.
Now there is some accountability in the 30 Mile case, people cry
headhunters and poor investigation. You can't have it both ways, people
screwed up, people died, people may loose their jobs. How would you do it?
It's not over yet I am sure there will be years of grievance procedures
and litigation before all is said and done, and by that time we will have
new tragedy to lament over.
Anyone KNOW that there was any intentional coverup in the investigation or
that scapegoating is going on? If you do, please say so. I don't have that
information and I don't think you do either, it easy to say the
investigators are wrong, but they are the ones who have to live with it if
they are not acting with integrity.
God knows what the real truth in these matters is and someday maybe we
As far as air attack being the lookout, I know and trust that individual
and I would have listened to him if I was in that situation. I do know
better than to rely on aerial platforms for anything and always have a
backup. Inevitably when you try to rely on air resources they run out of
fuel or get a chip light at exactly the wrong time, then you are on your
This brings up another problem for the coming season air tankers and lead
planes are going to be in short supply, so don't plan on getting your
usual amount of help from the aluminum angels.
Lanky retired last year, and took a CDF Inmate Captain job at
east of Redding. I haven't heard of a retirement party for him, maybe I
I have a question about firing operations, I've done a fair amount of
burning, nothing terribly complicated but I know which end of the drip
torch to hold, but am by no means an expert.
My question relates more to the intricacies, techniques and theory.
I have tried asking this question during S-234 and from Type 2 and hotshot
crew leaders but typically get useless answers (well you see, it all
depends on the phase of the moon and ... well you just have to try it and
see what works), I don't mean to imply they don't know how to fire,
clearly they do, but I haven't found one yet that could explain it. I
understand that there are no hard and fast answers as fire is dynamic and
what works right now might not work in 10 minutes, I am just asking in
THEORY how spacing of the ignition and the different patterns are
SUPPOSED to affect the burn, I realize that in the real world the
theory may wind up having an opposite effect to the expected. To date I
have not experimented much because as with most I expect, when the stress
of a fire is on you you stick to what you know and don't take the time to
experiment much. As I believe there is a wide audience of experience with
firing in the They Said world I thought I'd try asking here in the hopes
of finding a coherent explanation and I might even learn something new.
Sure can understand your frustrations with some of the units you received.
I wonder about any unit dispatched without contact numbers......both
dispatch and the engine boss seem to have dropped the ball.
On the subject of resources being "self reliant", I would
encourage you to
revisit your local policy. While it is convenient to not have to deal with
housing and feeding, that responsibility does not go away with a
reliant" resource.....it merely shifts the burden to their home unit.
instead of setting up agreements with local vendors or bringing in
contractors to feed/house resources, they are left to their own. That can
be real cumbersome with seasonals or ADs who do not have the financial
resources (nor government credit cards) to foot the bill. Even for the
resources that can be self-reliant, that means a lot of paperwork for
home unit......and why should their unit bear the burden and cost of your
emergency? Just some perspective that I hope you may again consider.
Ya'll be careful this coming season.
Old Fire Guy
||Did Lanky retire? I see on the jobs page that Redding IHC is looking for
Calling a tanker what it is to the rest of the fire service, doesn't give
volunteers a bad name.
Showing up to a brush fire in bunker gear does. Using private packsets to
talk on the air-to-ground frequency does. So does the recent USFA/NFPA
report that says over 40% of departments that handle wildland calls don't
offer any formal wildland training.
A lot volunteers never got red-carded because the rules used to be you had
to commit to 21 days to go out with a crew. Now it's down to 14, but most
still can't do that if they have a real job. Even the ICQS would have
company and chief officers as grunt labor (if we're allowed on-scene at
all,) because we lack the 310-1 classes and aren't signed off on
If so many fatality reports cite leadership and lack of crew cohesion as
causal factors, why do we remove proven line officers from volunteer
NWCG rules are stacked against local fire departments, because they were
written by the agencies. That will change. The 10-year Comprehensive
Strategy implementation plan starts out with the line "Key decisions
be made on the local level." The International Association of Fire
has asked for a seat on the WFLC. Dale Bosworth touched on it in his
to Congress last year. Second on his list of 3 main problems detailed in
the USFS Process Predicament was: "Ineffective public involvement—procedural
requirements that create disincentives to collaboration in national forest
Tanker vs. tender is a pretty minor issue, yet it is indicative of the
wildfire community blowing off a tremendous resource. Admittedly, the
volunteer side has shortcomings, just like the feds and contractors.
calling us "vollie yahoos" isn't the answer.
proud to be,
||Thoughts and info for all,
I have been reading all the information posted here lately about the
outsourcing that the feds are currently pushing, and I recently had the
opportunity to attend an agency meeting on the subject. They keep using
terms like “Most Efficient Organization” and free market when talking
about the federal fire fighting force of the future. It sounds eerily like
the same arguments made in the late seventies and eighties with the
deregulation of the airline industry and not too many years ago with
deregulation of the power industry. On paper both sounded great! The
reality is that both industries became unstable, unsafe, AND more
expensive (just ask the people of California and Montana about their
energy problems over the past few years.) But hey, I am an optimist and it
will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Awhile back, there was a discussion here about schools that offer degrees
in wildland fire science. Well, it was decided this week that Humboldt
State will be offering a Bachelor of Science in Forestry with a wildland
fire science option, possibly as early as next year. It is a great school
in a beautiful area.
I also wanted to take the time to once again thank Ab for the invaluable
service that we all enjoy. Your site has truly become a critical source
for information for our community. Last year I took a detail to the
Washington Office, as I returned from lunch one day I noticed a group of
people gathered around a computer talking about what they were reading.
When I took a closer look I noticed that they were reading "THEY SAID
IT" and were VERY interested in the comments that people posted. It
was refreshing to know that they were getting the information from us
ground pounders, especially from such an unlikely source. Thanks again AB
for your dedication to this site and our profession.
You're welcome. Ab.
||Pat Barling, who maintains the "Firebreak" website in
Canberra, has put up a temporary web site with lots of pictures from the
January 2003 fires in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory, the area
||Is anybody else concerned about the gaping holes in the Thirtymile
There is a whole lot of circular logic and just plain poorly-thought-out
conclusions in there. The bottom line of the report is that the fireline
supervisors and others violated all 10 standard firefighting orders, but
take a close look at how the report says they were violated. Example: The
report states that fire order #8 (establish lookouts...) was violated
because "No lookouts were established during the burning period
beyond what could be seen from the road and air attack, who had limited
visibility of the fire due to smoke".
Now let's think about this. By saying air attack was a poor choice for
a lookout, they are saying, apparently, that there should have been a
land-based lookout. If anybody knows how to position a lookout so as to
100% guarantee his/her view won't ever be obscured by smoke, could you
please tell me? I sure as hell can't think of any way. Conclusion: It's
impossible to be certain you will always be in compliance with this order,
and yet, the Forest Service, apparently, expects exactly that. (And oh, by
the way, had the Thirtymile team established a land-based lookout, that
person would have died, too).
Take a close look at all the other orders and how the report says they
were violated, and you will see circular logic and fuzzy thinking
throughout. Now it's bad enough that the Forest Service is presently
lopping off people's professional heads based on some questionable
conclusions, but it sets up all the rest of us down the road. If you
haven't read the investigation recently, read it again, and see what you
think, and if you agree, let the powers that be know, and let's start a
dialog on this subject.
Just a little info..... received a call from the FMO yesterday asking if I
would be available for assignment to Texas for shuttle recovery. Orders
are not officially in however the rumor mill states that GACC's are
putting "feelers" out to see if they could fill an order for 100
crews. Sounds like gridding til ya drop.
||Heard this through the grapevine,
A request had been made by the President for up to 80 crews to be sent to
Texas to look for pieces of the SpaceShuttle. No information on
organization at this time other than FEMA will be running the show.
||Good gawd, All we need is for fire to be overrun by vollie yahoo
"cap'ns" who think that water tenders should be called
"tankers". If this is what we have to look forward to,
competitive outsourcing could do us all in. Interagency is important. The
equipment naming rules are important as are training and other NWCG
standards. Let's not have one volunteer giving the rest of us a bad name.
Call tenders just that, not tankers!
||Lefteye hysterically pounded the keyboard as his knees jerked
uncontrollably and the words appeared on his screen. . .Interested
observer said the world is going to stop, I'm broke. . .and more.
No, I did not say those things, nor did I infer them. I made several
statements I consider to be true and relayed a story as I heard it. I also
offered a couple of important issues to consider with any
"competitive sourcing" studies. I rescan my own post and fail to
read myself saying I am broke or I believe the world is going to stop. If
Lefteye's bizarre comments are due to a sudden attack of Touretts Syndrome
I offer my sympathy. However, if said comments are indicative of the
cognitive skills possessed by Lefteye and others in his area, and if his
NFMAS planner's interpretive skills are of like manner, I am able to
appreciate the alleged disparity in fiscal allocations.
Then again, maybe Lefteye is underfunded just because he pissed someone
||Anyone know who the person is in the Stihl add at the
top of the page?
||If you haven't gotten you Stihl Heroism Nominations in, tool up. The
deadline is Feb 15th.
||Why don't you compile a list of private contractors across the US? Could
another source for firefighters looking for work on engines and crews.
Food for thought.
Hi Randy. How about somebody pay me to do this job I'm doing
On the other hand, why not encourage the private contractors you know to
advertise on our classifieds or jobs pages and support our fire
community's website. Those who have advertised have already found the
firefighters they need. More ads coming... Ab.
Thanks for the insight.. Where were you from?.. I would like to say thank
you all from california.. I spent all of August in the Small but Friendly
town of Gasquet. I am goin to travel back thru there this summer. Just for
a Visit.. To say hi to Nick, Sindy, Bob I could go on.. Oh yeah John and
Jerry Garcia.. they all know who this is..
Till we meet again Peace..
||Hey again Ab and All,
With my curiosity of Competitive Sourcing growing I decided to take a look
into the OMB. While searching through some of their materials I looked
into what the OMB had said about the Forest Service. Well, this is
something I came across and was wondering if anyone knew what the
implications of/for this could be: "To overcome inertia and an
excessive decision-making structure, USDA will develop legislation in 2003
to establish "charter forests. This proposal would establish certain
forests or portions of forests as separate entities, outside the Forest
Service structure, that report to a local trust entity for
Go to google and search on "charter forest
decision-making". More than you want to read. Ab.
||The Jobs page and
Wildland Firefighter Series
0462 & Series
0455 are updated. Some new jobs up on the jobs page.
||Aircraft Dispatcher R3,
Yes, that tanker/tender lesson was reinforced for me last year as IC on a
stubborn peat bog fire last year. County dispatch had handled multiple
requests for "tankers" from a neighboring FD, county road dept.
construction companies. A type-6 forest service engine pulls up, 3 guys
jump out and just lean up against the truck.
I go over and tell them which flank I want them on, and they respond,
no, we're not really here, we're miles away. If you want us to play, you
have to get our dispatch to send us here."
More than a little frustrated, I get on the radio asking my dispatch to
"request mutual aid from USFS." Next thing I know my dispatcher
me the SEAT could launch immediately, but the heavy tanker would be 30
minutes out. Seconds later my chief is on the radio, his voice betraying
the dollar signs flashing in his head.
As a municipal firefighter jokingly told me, "They have maybe a
tankers with wings, we have tens of thousands on wheels. By the numbers,
should have first pick."
Our numbers will shape the future of wildland firefighting. I read that
2001 fire season utilized 30,000 wildland firefighters. There are 800,000
volunteer firefighters and another quarter million paid. As more and more
homes are built in the WUI, residents demand municipal services and fire
stations sprout up right next to federal lands.
Even before competitive sourcing, wildland dispatch centers had thousands
unfilled resource requests. Now, many more red-carded agency folks will
stay behind their desks. And, a lot of local fire chiefs now have dollar
signs flashing in their heads by contracting their rigs and people (we
for a new $50,000 type-6 last year and will order another next week.)
Circular A-76 will play hell on federal jobs, but for places like here in
region 2, where there isn't a strong private contractor presence, local
departments will pick up the slack. As agencies develop the
compete for their own jobs, they can mix in "existing contracts"
MEO. For many areas, that could mean utilizing the cooperative agreements
with VFD's, with our trucks/people getting paid more for IA and severity
||Re wildland with Rural Metro:
I worked with Rural Metro's wildland crew a few times when I worked in AZ
about 6 years ago. I remember one incident where they showed up, got flown
in and then let they IC know that they all only had 1/2 gal. water each
(in S. Arizona in the summer) and they had no food. I'm sure the cost for
their crew went up quite a bit after they had to use the helicopter to
bring them all of that stuff that they should have had. This type of thing
was a regular occurrence when we worked with them. Their crew does not
have any guaranteed hours, but when they did work I believe they made
about $17 an hour, a lot more than just a crew member makes with the USFS.
I'm sure these problems may have just been this particular crew, or that
things have since changed, but that was my experience with them.
-former az gal
||Thirtymile Administrative Review
Decision notices for disciplinary actions have been delivered to
employees as a result of the Thirtymile fatality administrative review.
These actions are subject to privacy act restrictions and specifics will
not be made public. Affected employees have been advised of their rights
to grieve or appeal these actions.
The Regional Forester has briefed U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Doc
Hastings, and the staff of Sen. Maria Cantwell, based on prior commitments
to keep them informed. Again, the briefings were subject to the
confidentiality restrictions of the Privacy Act.
Any news media inquiries are being referred to Regional news media officer
Rex Holloway at (503) 808-2241.
||Contractors: Good and Bad
Last year I ordered a strike team of contract engines through our GACC
in Northern California. The region had preordered and staged a large
number of contract engines in Sacramento. These engines had allegedly been
inspected and were ready for fireline assignments. Two days after ordering
the five engines only three had arrived. We eventually discovered two
engines had broken down enroute but were unable to contact us. In fact,
all of the requested engines were unable to contact us since the sending
facility failed to provide radio frequencies or telephone numbers prior to
their departure. I suppose the engine captains could have asked had they
thought about it. One of the three arriving engines failed our mechanics
inspection due to a leaky fuel pump. They were able to get it repaired
locally after another three days. It was a holiday weekend so shops were
closed. Oh yeah, predicted lightning over the holiday is why we wanted
them in the first place. Once the leaky fuel pump was repaired, that
engine and their sister engine from the same vendor requested release
because they had no money to provide for their own subsistence.
Apparently where they were from, the government provided shelter and
meals, though in their contract it clearly states the receiving unit has
the option to provide it for them or may choose to authorize supplemental
subsistence payment. We honored their release request though I was
inclined NOT to pay for their travel home. A kinder, gentler soul coaxed
me in to it, not coincidently he happened to be a "liaison" or
agency rep from the same region as the engines. We prefer to have our
arriving resources be self reliant. This includes all requested resources,
not just contractors.
The third day after ordering the original five engines I ordered
another five. One of them broke down enroute and one failed our equipment
inspections upon arrival and was released. Still no radio frequencies or
telephone numbers were given them from Sacramento, though I clearly
advised North Ops of the problem with the last order. Two of the engines,
upon arrival wanted to return to their home because they had been on duty
for their 14 days. They were immediately released. Another engine from the
second order was released their first day because a crewmember selected
the main entrance sidewalk in front of the district office to take a nap
on. Another engine was released because it lacked adequate communications.
No radio, wanted to know if they could borrow one of ours.
After all of the above issues, of the 10 engines I requested, four of
them arrived on time, knew and met all the requirements of their
contracts, were willing to stay as long as we needed them or the work/rest
guidelines allowed, and were very reliable. They performed very high
quality work whether initial attacking fires, mopping up, patrolling
fires, or just doing project work. Their leaders were excellent, they were
very safety conscious, very "low maintenance" (=self reliant),
and a pleasure to work with. They also quickly gained the trust and praise
of their assigned district duty officers, not an easy task. I would have
them back any time and will name request them next time if possible. I
hope they are reading this, so's they'll know again how much we
appreciated their efforts. They'll know who they are. So will the others,
who were sent pack'in.
This was not my first experience with contractors, I've worked with
many, including helicopters, handcrews, engines, and water tenders. It
was, however, a rather condensed experience with out of region contractors
operating under an unprecedented regional concept of pre-staging large
quantities of resources in a common location. The problem as I see it, is
as fundamental as it is obvious. I don't blame any of the contractors
whose engines never arrived or whom we sent home early. There are no BAD
contractors. Or there wouldn't be if there were GOOD agency managers and
GOOD contract inspectors.
||Private Sector Contracting:
I believe that the private sector is being unfairly amassed together
under the title of "bad contractors". There is a regiment of
private sector contracts with many, many years of experience in fire that
strive to provide professional, safe and cost effective resources to the
agencies. These are the same people that have pounded on the agencies to
police its own contract requirements for the private sector. We want to
see it cleaned up, but as a private sector contractor we have no policing
authority within our industry. The only ones with policing authority are
the people who issue the contracts, and to date we have not been very
successful in getting them to monitor them.
In the state of Oregon, we were this close <____> to getting a
new MOU that would have required higher standard and monitoring but just
recently we were told that it will not be ready now for the 2003 year!! We
worked to get a National contract so that YOU, in the agencies, would have
some way to know what kind and type of crews you were getting when you
ordered resources. We know that especially with the Region 6 interagency
contract, where all levels of crews and engines are glumped together and
dispatched based on closest resources and lowest price, you don't know
what you might get - and one bad crew makes us all "bad
contractors" in your eyes.
You have no idea of the work going on behind the scenes to create a
better, safer, high standard for the private industry but we have no
cooperation from the agencies to help us ensure that you get that.
They appear to want cheap, not good!! Literally anyone can become a
contractor overnight in the current system as long as they have insurance,
business name and provide training documents (nobody monitors the
training). Therefore our business has grown rapidly over the past two
years and, due to the majority of the types of contracts and agreements
out there, you get the ones that underbid the contract to make more money
by being called to a fire first and staying longest. That is not what we
want to provide. We want the best value market but we have to work with
what the agencies offer to us, and then you get to deal with it on the
Also know that the majority of contractors must survive on very little
income the remainder of the year as there is no fuel treatment work making
it to the ground in terms of contract work. So while we make money on
fires we must be good business managers to make it through the rest of the
year, as the contracts (alot of them) offer no work guarantee; it is on an
"as needed" basis.
Thanks firemom. Some important points. We'd all like to know who
will be monitoring the potentially increasing number of contractors and
will the monitors do an outstanding job of monitoring. It's clear the job
is inadequate now. Ab.
||here is the Competitive Sourcing presentation--
||To interested observer
You are only going to get "just 95% of requested MEL". You
must work in Region 5. Try living on 65% of MEL like the rest of us. And
yes, our facilities cost pools went up and the slice of pie that funds
production resources is so small that we don't have any $$ to hire temps
let alone fund folks that we hired in the last few years. It's amazing to
me you make it sound like your broke, and the world is going to come to a
stop because you didn't get 100% of MEL. WOW!
I didn't hear what you did. I heard observer raising the issues of
budgeting for facilities and cost pools. I know these are issues in other
regions as well. Ab.
Exactly.... Rural Metro charges per firefighter. Therefore, if these
costs were to all be added together, and then throw in profit, they
be cheaper than municipal or USFS costs. I know much about their wildland
division, and I am sure the guys/gals do a great job. As I have stated,
firefighters are always just the same as anywhere, its the company and the
philosophy I dont agree with.
Also, you mention a article in the Tribune. Well, didnt you know the
Tribue is in bed with R/M and the city of Scottsdale. You MUST have???
Thats been well known, and well documented. I havent guaranteed a victory
Scottsdale going to public fire, just stating that from my perspective, I
hope and think it will happen. I stopped my Tribune subscription a long
ago after reading so many over-written articles in support of R/M ( the
company, not the fire fighters).
For clarification, the "militia" positions (like Ruby's for
example) that do have governmental signatory capabilities will not be
reviewed. These are the truly "essentially governmental"
positions the OMB is talking about.
||Budgets, outsourcing, MEL, etc.
An interested observer.
- While the allocation committee in my region is currently slicing the
MEL pie, the preliminary budget for my forest indicates we will
receive just 95% of requested MEL funding. This results in our NOT
staffing the equivalent of one 20 person handcrew and one engine. Some
of the overhead for the two now unfunded modules have already been
hired. They will be reassigned to other modules with vacancies. Just
temporarily, of course.
- Facilities financing for all the new resources was promised two
years ago, then canceled. Some crews are being housed in temporary
facilities whose contracts will expire next year. The temporary
housing has been funded from savings from vacant permanent positions.
As vacancies dwindle, those funds are unavailable. It is unknown how
the needs for permanent facilities will be met as there are plans or
contingencies are vague. I'm reminded of a story a past foreman
relayed to me about how his engine and crew would leave a permanent
station each morning and drive 40 miles away to be at their
"assigned" duty station. They pulled their engine near a big
oak tree in a small field, under which sat an old metal desk. Upon
arrival, they would open a desk drawer, pull out a telephone and plug
in the wire dangling from a tree branch, then set it on the desktop.
They were then ready to respond. I think it was the Los Padres NF, but
can't be sure. Any older firedogs remember a scenario like that?
- With the above paragraph in mind, I have yet to see anyone mention
the costs of facilities in their outsourcing debates. Another yet to
be mentioned consideration here are the grossly swollen "cost
pools" which allegedly are raked off to provide the necessary
infrastructure for the fire organization. Infrastructure support such
as information systems, human resources, etc. If these departments are
outsourced first will the cost pools then shrink down to
"competitive" levels? Somehow I think NOT, rather the
rakeoffs will merely be reassigned to an outsourced service provider.
I notice the quote "cost to the government" per employee
bandied about here on TheySaid, but there are many more significant
costs in the background in addition to hourly wages and benefits.
Water tenders are listed at "Tender", "Water tenders"
or WT for the last 17 year I have in Fed fire. "Tankers" will
and ALWAYS be in my mind and most other aircraft folks will be AIRTANKERS.
Some fire department say "Tender" for Type 2 or 1 engines. Even
SEAT stands for Single Engine Air Tankers. Sorry Water Tenders will remain
"Tenders" to me.
Aircraft Dispatcher R3
||More thoughts on the Competitive Outsourcing debate, not really a debate
since the other side, has not yet decided to provide their input to “They
Just what is the real issue here, as a tax-payer and a public servant, I
want to have the most cost effective, safest and most professional
wildland fire management force obtainable. If contractors, the military or
the alphabet soup of the existing federal agencies can provide the best
service to the people of the U.S. is not really known by anyone at this
point. And does it really matter who actually does the work if the product
is the best we can get.
The Competitive Outsourcing, or what ever you want to call it, scares the
hell out of people for a number of reasons. The main reason being people
are afraid of change. The second reason is people want to keep their cool
jobs, just like I do. The third reason is we are stuck in a huge rut of
traditional ways of providing wildland fire management services. The rut
includes the thinking that the federal government (agencies) knows the
best way of providing those services. Maybe we do, maybe we don’t. Are
we afraid to find out that we don’t? Or, are we just afraid to ask the
People blame the current administration for wanting to do away with or “gut”
the federal agencies because, you pick the reason, (1) they don’t like
us (2) they think we are a waste of time and money, or, (3) they really
believe that private industry can do most things better than federal
agencies. I think there is some truth in all three reasons.
Think about it, did the government invent the airplane, the automobile,
the computer, the $3.00 cup of coffee, a better fire shelter, or any other
monumental invention in the last couple of hundred years? I don’t know
of any, do you?
I am not saying that I am not apprehensive about this whole outsourcing
deal, because I am. I love my job and I think I do it about as good as
anyone. But I also am not going to say I have a corner on the idea market,
or that the way we do things now is the way we should keep doing them,
just because its the way we do it.
This could be a really big and really painful change. But on the other
hand it could be a change that could make things work better. Maybe
contracting all the services we provide isn’t the best idea. Maybe this
is a stepping stone to a better fire service, even a national fire
service, I don’t know but it is going to be a wild ride so hang on and
don’t give in to the negativism.
Until the NWCG pubs folks of the NWCG Training Working Team get off their
butts and finish the revision of S205 that was supposed to be done last
year, it's "Do It Your-self" Powerpoint. I suggest taking the
info from the old overhead slides and putting those to Powerpoint.
I'm not sure which class you've been teaching. But the latest version of
Managers Course Guide (VERY LARGE 800+K pdf file), dated
October 2002 shows S205 (S215) as a 24-32 hour class. If you're teaching
it in just 2 days (16 hours) then you're shorting your people.
In regards to Rural/Metro I know that they charge a fee per FF and the
customer decides and pays for the level of manpower for the fire truck
that they want. I know that is the case in Snottsdale from public records
and talking with people involved.
In the county areas is where they have been known to cut. But for the last
five or six years they have been staffing 3 guys w/ 1 ALS provider and
dispatch an ALS Ambo for transport…This has been the case in Maricopa
county.. FYI And they have a very busy wildland fire division also. Don’t
know their track record as a contractor. If anybody has any info on
Rural/Metro in the wildfire setting let us know.
BTW AZfirefighter- Don’t be surprised if L3878 loses the initiative,
disturbing news in the Scottsdale Tribune over the weekend. I truly hope
they win but it doesn’t look like a landslide.
||Reply to outsourcing/competitive sourcing comments:
There are a handful of military bases with contracted fire protection,
these are the exception and they occurred prior to the moratorium on
contracting DoD fire services. Currently DoD fire is exempted from
outsourcing. The Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA has been the
test case since the mid 1990's and it was recently determined that it is
in the Governments best interest to keep an in house fire department,
after several extensions the demo project were allowed to expire. The City
of Monterey and CDF both offered bids at one point or another and both
were more costly to provide the required services and both were trying to
cut corners by providing services without adding personnel. As the Federal
Government mandates that its agencies follow accepted standards (NFPA in
this case) you can see it would be hard to provide services for less cost
while still maintaining a profit margin. If you compare DoD to a
contractor like Rural Metro it becomes obvious. DoD must staff a Type 1
engine with 4 bodies, typically Rural Metro staffs 2 (unless they have
increased in the past 3 years). Personnel are the most costly aspect of a
fire agency, a type 1 engine runs about $250,000 for a Fed special, a
model 62 was $160,000 in 2001. You consider these run a minimum of 10
years and more typically 15, the yearly cost is a little of 10,000 for the
type 3 and $15,000 for a type 1. In that same period you need roughly
$600,000 per year for the crew, these costs do not include maintenance,
training etc, just purchase price and salaries. So the only way a
contractor can save money is by reducing personnel costs. I see some
reference to the lack of need for personnel in the winter months. When I
worked for the USFS I hated the winters, not because I had no work but
because I was usually running ragged, going to training, responding to
smoke reports and fires even in December and January, working on fuels
projects and trying to keep the stations and equipment up and running. I
easily could have kept all my seasonals working except for the period
between Thanksgiving and Christmas when the government all but shuts down,
when you consider most would have probably requested leave, it would not
have been an issue.
I have nothing against the good contractors and agree they do provide a
useful service, however cost savings is not one of them, I have yet to see
an argument that can convince me that it is possible for a for profit
company to offer the same level of service without cutting costs somewhere
and adding the cost of a profit margin. Certainly a contractor could step
in and offer identical services by following the governments model but
then what is the advantage to the government and where do they fit the
There are some contract companies that do provide a legitimate service
to the government. Typically these use experienced retired firefighters
who do not need full time work and supplement these people with
inexpensive inexperienced firefighters who are provided with a good
learning experience (which is really part of their compensation). These
companies also are great for pre arranged projects as they can schedule
their people in advance. IA on the other hand means they would have to pay
to have people in place and ready to go at all times, just like the
government. You can not run IA during high response levels by calling
people in when a fire starts.
Unfortunately the current (and to some extent the last) administration
do not seem to understand the government is not a business, it is there to
provide needed services to its citizens, and should not be expected to
make a profit. In fact even when some government employees do manage to
keep costs down they are not rewarded, an example is the Vallejo Naval
repair facility in California. This facility actually made a profit by
working on non navy ships when they were not filled to capacity with navy
work. When the base closures came around they were the only naval facility
which made a profit but they were still one of the first to go.
Unfortunately the federal employees are stuck between a rock and a hard
place, they are apparently supposed to follow business models to meet the
most efficient levels, yet they are constrained by out of date personnel
systems and are discouraged from finding alternate methods of funding
(many federal grants specifically leave out feds) and it is difficult for
feds to contract services to the outside because we are not supposed to
compete with private businesses. Yet we must put our jobs out for
competition with these same businesses who do not have to follow all the
rules we do. The Federal "brain drain" has been a topic of
discussion for at least 10 years yet really little progress has been made.
I was hoping that after 9/11 showed the deficiencies in the CIA and FBI
that it would wake up the politicians to what is happening in their
agencies but the resulting actions have tended to show they do not
understand that the feds are not really competitive with other sectors
when it comes to rewards (salaries, benefits, working conditions etc).
Instead of increasing benefits, allowing more flexibility in hiring and
personnel management, we get snubs for raises, criticism and threats of
losing our jobs so you good contractors out there who feel you are being
attacked its not specifically you but you are being used against us which
results in, fear, anger and resentment. Try turning the picture around and
imagine that Bush wanted to end all public private relationships and start
using the military instead of contractors when fires get out of hand. Oh
and remember you are prevented by law to get too loud when trying to
protect your jobs (read up on the Hatch act if you don't understand this
I do have S205 on Powerpoint. Have taught the 2 day class before and it
went well. If you are training new firefighters you might want to do a 3
day. The size is 215,000KB (Large)
Thanks for the pros and cons on having a federal fire service. Maybe it
could all be couched under the umbrella of "Homeland Security".
That way the more commercial contractor functions could be contracted out
as many are now (some handcrews, engine crews, food services, etc) and the
essentially governmental fire functions could remain inhouse. Hope that's
one of the "options" that we hear the Chief has on his desk.
What the Teams do is Homeland Security whether on the interface
or in NYC / at the Pentagon. FEMA doesn't even know how to fill the
Incident Management Team function. But, if we loose our computer and fleet
people, we will not be so functional as a team. Teams have members that
make decisions and sign contracts about resources, money and property.
Those job areas may be reviewed at some time. If those "militia"
have to cost out and justify their jobs, will they get to have the work
they do on Fire count in their job descriptions? If not, we could loose
Trying to make the agencies fit into a "business model" just
doesn't mesh with the fire team structure and fire as it is now. If our
function was separate from the rest of the FS, it would be easier to
define what we do and to show we do it better than anyone else out there.
Even so, we need new people coming up and getting experience. For that we
need to not contract out all the fire ground jobs.
||Subject: Arizona Wildland Fire Management
*** for any Arizona Fire fighters who havent written to show
With respect to our Fire Management Programs, the State Land Department
supports the budget and allocations proposed by Arizona Governor Janet
Napolitano. The Governor recognizes that the severe drought conditions a d
the growing urban interface into the forest could result in another
significant fire season, requiring the State to expend equally significant
resources. The Governor's budget maintains current funding levels that,
given the present fiscal situation, is in the best interest of the State
to address the upcoming fire season.
However, the budget proposed by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee
("JLBC") would reduce the available funds for fire suppression
activities by 1/3, or $1,000,000. Given the likely severity of this coming
fire season, the loss of this money from the budget will impact Land
In addition, as a direct consequence of the JLBC budget proposal, the Land
Department would have to eliminate 10% of the existing fire management
positions. Because we must maintain our priority fire suppression staff,
we would no longer be able to administer the General Services
Administration Program. This is the program that allows rural fire
departments to purchase fire equipment and supplies from the Federal
Government through the Land Department at significantly reduced costs.
Further, because of the proposed JLBC budget cuts, it would be impossible
to continue the Federal Excess Property Program at our current level. Our
ability to refurbish excess federal trucks into fully functioning fire
vehicles and distribute them to rural wild land fire departments will be
These proposed JLBC cuts, in addition to the loss of the federal fire
fighting assets (air tankers, lead planes, helicopters, and crews) this
year, will severely impact the resources the State has available to
support all federal, state and local agencies that fight wildland fires.
Please be sure that the State will not abandon any fire suppression
obligations and will continue to perform its statutory responsibility to
suppress fires on state and private land. However, if funding is not
continued at the current levels, as recommended in the Governor's Budget
proposal, it will be further burden the State Land Department in the
administration of its fire management programs.
SENATE AND HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ASSETS
Robert Burns Marhsha Arzberger
District 9 (Republican) District 25 (Democrat)
1700 West Washington, Room 110 1700 West Washington, Room 313
Phoenix, AZ 85007 Phoenix, AZ 85007
602-417-3225 fax 602-417-3246 (fax)
James R. Carruthers Meg Burton Cahill
District 24 (Republican) District 17 (Democrat)
House of Representatives House of Representatives
1700 West Washington, Room 302 1700 West Washington, Room 333
Phoenix, AZ 85007 Phoenix, AZ 85007
602-417-3124 fax 602-417-3017 fax
Andy Biggs Jack W. Harper
District 22 (Republican) District 4 (Republican)
House of Representatives Senate
1700 West Washington, Room 307 1700 West Washington, Room 304
Phoenix, AZ 85007 Phoenix, AZ 85007
602-417-3022 fax 602-417-3154 fax
John Huppenthal John A. Loredo
District 20 (Republican) District 13 (Democrat)
House of Representatives House of Representatives
1700 West Washington, Room 306 1700 West Washington, Room 320
Phoenix, AZ 85007 Phoenix, AZ 85007
602-417-3020 fax 602-417-3113 fax
Dean Martin Russell K. Pearce
District 6 (Republican) District 18 (Republican)
Senate House of Representatives
1700 West Washington, Room 308 1700 West Washington, Room 114
Phoenix, AZ 85007 Phoenix, AZ 85007
602-417-3163 fax 602-417-3118 fax
||As a volunteer firefighter, I don't want to get in the middle of the
contracting dispute. But, with all the agency personnel developing their
"tender" proposals to save their jobs under competitive sourcing
most of the air fleet grounded or off to war in Iraq, everyone in the
wildland community could come together in a show of unity and agree on one
thing.....for the 2003 wildfire season let's call all of our water hauling
trucks what they really are: tankers.
||Looking for existing PowerPoint packages for S-205 "Interface
Operations" and RX-310 "Fire Effects" (the old RX-340).
Anyone know of any out there.......?
||Re Raven and Outsourcing:
Seems to me all your gripes prove its just best to leave it all to a
federal fire service. Its the same problem Rural Metro has. No fires = No
Fire fighters and fire equipment are an INSURANCE policy. You pay for
it, and have it there when its needed. I see how hard it is to find
someone to work when there is fire, but to send them packing when there
isnt any. All these factors are why it doesnt make sense to have contract
fire fighting for more than filling in the gaps when there are no more
government resources. I may be shaking the bees nest, but coming from both
a municipal and state fire dept., and having worked next to Rural Metro, I
see how the two different versions of fire fighting either work or dont.
For years, Rural had 1 or 2 guys on a truck. They can meet these
requirements in Scottsdale, AZ because the city flips the bill. However,
elsewhere, that isnt the case. They cut back on manpower, and response
times. There HAVE to be cuts somewhere in a contract fire setting, because
a PROFIT has to be made, or the company doesnt survive.
This in turn goes back to my original statement, the fire service is an
INSURANCE policy! These are MY beliefs. I respect ALL firefighters,
however, I dont believe in the contract "philosphy".
||Lars Stratte and Larry Groff pilots of AT 92 and 87 died in a midair
collision fighting a wildland fire near Ukiah more than a year ago. Two
men were charged with the pilots' murder, arson and methemphetamine
manufacturing in that the fire they allegedly began ultimately resulted in
the deaths of Lars and Larry. The trial is ongoing. Here's an update.
Judge blocks pilot error defense in firefighter deaths; Ruling narrows
scope of trial of alleged meth makers in 2001 air tanker crash
I am with you on that, only one catch to bringing back the BD Crews -we
gotta bring back the LOGGERS!
I worked on on BD crews on the Six Rivers and the Rogue River National
Forests in the 70's and 80's. What a great job for a young fire pup. If
we were not building line around clearcuts or snagging the units, we were
burning or fighting fire. Never had any trouble keeping up with the IHC's
and our sawyers were better. But back then nobody had to write an E.A. to
find some snags to cut for saw certifications. Oh wait, there were no saw
I guess the district Type 1 crews are the closest you're going to get
days. If they can stay funded that is.
Thanks for jogging the memories.
||Ab and all,
I know my place in this one is small so I will be short.
I just couldn't help but draw some similarities to outsourcing of
firefighters to the rise of private security and private police. Which has
recently come under attack in courts and "society." Time has
proved that it's officers are not on par with federal/state/local
officers. Their abuses of power and list of notorious guards is daunting,
Timothy McVeigh applied to be a security guard and James Huberty was one.
The motivation for private police and security firms is money the same for
fire contractors...more fires more money. We already see a trend like this
developing in our fire contractors... Correct me if I am wrong, but the
handcrew that was burnover on the Toolbox fire, was contract, of which
half the crew did not speak English and/or had no firefighting experience
at all. The past has shown that private law enforcement in plagued with
problems, early indicators show that fire contractors have similar
Sorry guys, I am kinda dismayed, I had dreams of working for the FS, looks
like they may not come true.
Hang in there. Ab.
THANK YOU TOATCSAC!!!
I to am tired of the private contractors being trashed, I've been lurking
awhile and I'm tee'd off!! Many of us are
working hard to provide a high quality product for a FAIR price. As a
provider of contract engines and tactical
water tenders since 1986, my operation has seen all the junk and glitter
in the spectrum of equipment available
There is a faction of us that hammer our fellow contractors on coming up
to snuff on a regular basis. Yes, many
operations run lean on the equipment, safety and treatment of their
employees…it all catches up with them!
Some run in the middle of the road trying to improve when they can. My
company recruits many good quality
individuals that have worked with the above operations, we also recruit
many government trained individuals
that we feel fortunate having on our team, my husband and I are
ex-government employees. Something that
must be remembered is contractors do not have any guarantees, period…try
planning for a long range budget
with that in mind.
Since the stock market fiascos and 9/11, contractors have been getting
reamed (literally) by the insurance
market for liability, equipment and workers comp. insurance. We personally
experienced a 150% mark up with our
liability and equipment insurance (many insurance companies went belly up,
the competitive market is gone) and
a 38% mark up in our workers comp in the last year and 1/2, with ZERO
claims in our company history! After
sucking up that hit (which ate up our plan for implementing a health plan
for my guys) and upgrading all our
equipment (which we cycle our engines every four years…they take a
beating out there), implementing a profit
sharing and production bonus plan, upgrade training for everyone, funding
payroll (which is far better than gov.
rate) in house for two months (before getting paid for work done), take
care of the year round bills for our
stations and then put put away enough money to operate for another year
and a half…just in case of a slow
season. Try recruiting personnel with no guarantee of work, hoping that
they have a flexible job that will allow
them to leave when we finally get going, or do not care about loosing,
tack on long periods away from family
and friends (we all know about this). Try writing prescribed burn plans
like a fiend to hustle work for 3-5 years,
wait for the bureaucratic paperwork to roll slowly thru its cycle, wait
for the tiny burn window to open, plow
thru all the verbiage revisions in the plan then wait some more. Try
telling your employees we have to wait
until…all the while not getting paid for any of this. So if the rate we
charge seems high, walk twenty miles in my
shoes! This is just a small example of what it is like in the contracting
world. Granted, this is the world we chose
to work in, but we love fighting fire, we love working with you…our
fellow fire junkies!
Contractors are not asking for the whole enchilada, boys and girls, just a
tasty bite. There is no possible way
that the private sector can provide it ALL. With many government employees
being turned loose to fend for
themselves with government downsizing, there are many of us GOOD
contractors that would love to have them
on their crews/engines…with the respect you have all earned…I expect
the same from all of you out there! Be
picky about whom you work with/for, keep your eyes open. The National
Contract Crews and National Contract
Engines are a sample of how good we can be, we've passed muster, you have
worked with us and we pull our
weight. The government not having to fund for year-round positions will
save substantial amounts of money.
Cross training personnel to do a variety of positions is smart…the
private sector has been doing it for years. Tap
into the experience of the many fire managers that are moving into the
private sector instead of crying about
the newbie managers that don't have the experience, we'll be out there to
lend a hand willingly! We are there to
work with you and enhance your resources!
Take a big deep breath folks, contractors will always be here. We can
mutually benefit from an economic
adjustment, still get the job done and stimulate the economy…which is
the bottom line.
||I would like to find some sites that would have clothing that some of my
firefighters could wear off the line and be proud of what they do!
||Wanting to know
Margaret Pasholk is doing the briefings in the Northern Province. She's
listed as the Regional Competitive Sourcing Team Leader. She or her office
should have that information. We got the notice in e mail.
||Does anyone know where and when the briefings will be in So/Central Ca?
"Wanting to know more"
700 a day for an engine with four personnel?
that is only 175 a day and could not even cover their wages.
where's the crew transports (closer to 110K for a new one nowadays), fuel,
mechanic, retirement, health care,
travel, hand tools, radios, diesel, sick leave, vacation and PPE fall into
this 700 a day? Just to let you know many private firefighters make more
than their federal counterparts.
thanks Ab, I know of nowhere else we can exchange dialogue like this.
||Here's a schedule of the USDA Competitive Sourcing Briefings in NorCal:
Six Rivers 1-3 PM, Humboldt Co. Ag Bldg, 5630 S. Broadway, Eureka CA
Klamath 9-11 AM, Miners Inn Convention Center, 122 East Miner, Yreka
Shasta Trinity 1:30-3:30 PM, Red Lion Hotel, 1830 Hilltop Dr, Redding CA
the next day, Wed:
Mendocino 9-11 AM, SO Conference Rm, 825 North Humboldt, Willows CA
More on Competitive Sourcing:
Have people seen this, the key
points of the NLT meeting? Contrast that with Childs
||Contracting Out: Here's my 2 cents worth, and I'll keep it short.
That was a great reply to the previous lurker regarding contracting out
of wildland fire. I am a federal structural firefighter but started as a
temporary wildland firefighter. I too saw some very good contractors who
were to par with government crews, and saw the poor contractors that make
everyone look bad.
Here is the heartburn I have with contracting for anything in the
federal or state government regarding fire or anything else: Adequate
Distribution of Wealth and Accountability. The Federal Government is
notorious for being "Penny Wise but Pound Foolish" by creating
programs that save $10.00 but cost $30.00 to maintain. Contracting does
not save money in the long or short scheme of things but instead
redistributes the wealth to fewer people creating more of an underclass of
The Government spends $700.00 per day on an engine crew of 4 permanent
employees (for argument's sake). That includes not only the wages for the
four people but the benefits, retirements, and insurances for the
personnel, plus the upkeep on the apparatus. A Contractor will bid the
same capability engine with four people and charge $1500.00 per day but
will only provide the crew with a base wage that is lower than the
permanent government firefighter and only provide what the law requires
for insurance. Say the apparatus cost the same to maintain as the
government engine and that gives the Contractor a profit of about $600.00.
That money goes into the contractor's pocket and the people doing the work
get the short end. Not all contractors are like this, but a majority are
running a business, and businesses have to make a profit.
We have to keep government firefighters to maintain both quality
standard for the industry and keep wages at a level that allows for a
person to make a living. More money into fewer hands creates problems for
all of us. Look at the Central and South American countries where you have
only two classes: The very rich and the very poor.
Secondly, the government cannot expect to just turn over control of
Wildland Fire Management to a contractor with no solid oversight. It
doesn't work. Here's a solid example: a private fire service contractor
goes to the Department of Defense and bids a contract for fire protection
at an Army Munitions Base. The government gives the contractor a 3-year
contract for $17 million dollars (more than what it actually costs the
government to provide) using government fire equipment, of which the
government has to pay for. The contractor instead of providing equitable
wages like those held by the federal firefighters instead hire contract
firefighters with minimum training requirements and just above minimum
wage with NO BENEFITS other than Workman's Comp. Two years into the
program the contractor says he ran out of money and needs more to stay
profitable, of which the Government gives him $3 Million more. The
contractor is not fulfilling the contract but reaping a huge profit. The
government sees the contractor's not filling the bill so they wait to the
end of the contract and bring back federal firefighters. Out of all of
this, only the contractor made the money, not his employees, and the
government was ripped off. It would have been cheaper by almost 50% to
have maintained a government fire program.
You want to see what could happen for wide-scale contracting? Look at a
fictional series of movies called "RoboCop". Looking beyond the
Sci-Fi of the robotic cyborg cop, the premise of the movies was that
corporations became the providers of police and fire protection, EMS,
prisons, and the military. They became more powerful than governments and
with no oversight cut corners, disobeyed the laws that slowed
"progress", were corrupt, and did everything to "maximize
the bottom line" for the shareholders and company executives. You get
in the way of a company's progress and you are eliminated. Although this
was for entertainment, the background had a lot to do with contracting
But Fire Services with the federal government, both wildland and
structural, are looked upon poorly because they are always in the red
budgetarily. They are the drawdown of a forest's or military base's budget
because they do not produce a physical product or labor service. They are
in fact an insurance policy in case of a fire be it in a 500 year-old
stand of marketable timber or a warehouse containing $50 Million of
military hardware. You have them incase you need them, and you cannot take
them away to save money. If a base commander cuts his fire department
staff below where it should be, and a fire occurs causing damage or loss
of life, that commander will be held personally responsible and will face
court martial and prison if found negligent. For some reason some forest
managers and supervisors are not head to the same standard as the
military. I wonder why?
Finally, to leave a contractor in charge of a government program like
wildland fire management with no direct and strong controls in place is
like leaving the Wolves in charge for the Henhouse. Why haven't some of
these government co-ordinators of fire contracts been held accountable for
how these bad private outfits are perform.
||fedfire. there are many military bases that use contracted fire
services. Johnson Controls is a major supplier of fire apparatus, and
personnel on many military bases.
I understand your frustrations. People come in all sorts. Was wondering
where you got your statistics on Arson fires? Terry Barton was USFS, The
southern California arson Investigator - arsonist was a county
firefighter, the Rodeo-Chedeski fire was started by a BIA employee. Any
person that is caught starting a fire should be shot on site.
4000 a day for an agency hand crew is only 200 a day per person. What
about the 65,000.00$ crew buggies, travel, training, overhead, uniforms,
benefits, retirement, health plan, insurance, vacation, sick time, buggies
maintenance, hand tools, King radios, diesel, chainsaws, etc. Where does
all of this fit into your calculation? You want to see some really insane
numbers, look at what Municipal fire departments charge to fight fires.
Some engines are earning 200+ an hour for a brush truck! w/ portal pay at
that! They see it as gravy, and an easy way to make some dough.
A contract crew rate seems steep - I agree. But that is because the
employer has to provide every item needed. NO FIRE - NO Pay is correct,
but when a contractor is not fighting fire they are still maintaining
their equipment, training, and preparing for the next fire. Just as you
and your crews are. Difference is you are guaranteed a paycheck, and all
of the associated benefits with it.
Blaming your personnel's experience level dropping because of
contractors is flawed. This was predicted decades ago when managers
realized baby boomers were going to retire around the turn of the century.
You want to know where your experience is going? It is taking their
retirement checks, and going home. The current generation is not as big as
the one that is leaving command and operations positions. Like someone
suggested on They Said years ago, a mentoring program would solve a lot.
Suck the knowledge out of the people that have done this for decades is a
Catastrophic fires were predicted also. 50 years ago a report was
written about fuels loading and that it was going to lead to larger and
hotter fires. Want to know who to blame? It is Smoky the bear, and the 60
year ad campaign that put the idea into homeowners, that fire in the
forest is bad. Everyone that reads here knows fire was here millions of
years before us, and will be here millions of years from now. Its just in
the last 100 that we have been able to do something about it at a national
level. Fighting fires is not an option now. It has to be done. Fuel
loading rarely permits a fire to crawl through the forest floor like it
used too. Now it races downhill, jumps interstates, and major rivers, and
incinerates homes with a 200 foot flame front. How do you fight that?
From a meeting I just attended in Eastern WA last night
"6.6 Billion" has been spent on fires in three years since
the national fire plan was introduced. 2/3 of it was intended for fuels
reduction. that's 4.4 billion"
Now I ask all of the managers out there. Where are the massive fuels
reduction plans and projects? There are a few large projects out there.
35-40k acres here and there. That will never equal the tens of millions of
acres need to be treated. It will still grow faster than it can be
treated. Also where are the 1000s of FF that were supposed to be hired?
You wont find them, With a shrinking pool of employees that want to do
this its hard to recruit people for a seasonal job. If you offer more
money where's the savings? If you employ them year round when they are
only needed 1/2 the time where's the savings?
Fast Tracking personnel happens in all agencies. We have all worked for
the bean counter that uses a college degree to be a strike team leader
after 1-2 seasons. Red cards issued by contractors is true. County
departments do the same thing, I am sure there is someone in your building
that issues them. Someone has to issue them. Some people slip by, and some
or overlooked. It happens everywhere. Is it safe? No - definitely not.
That is one reason ODF would like to see contractor associations like the
NWSA and the WCFA issue cards to their personnel. Then submit databases on
IQS. These groups do that already.
Many companies out there run top notch outfits that provide a value to
the Government. Much of our gear is newer and above what the feds use. The
personnel have more training than a lot of federal crews. Sad fact is that
there are some companies out there that make us look bad. They skirt the
edges, and do the bare minimum to make a buck. What about the agency crews
that are a little looser than the others? aren't they doing the same
thing. I have talked to many team members on T1 IMT's that fear their own
BIA crews. I have seen agency crews demobed for illicit drug use. Now
what's that say about the agencies?
BBTBDC I respect your opinion and value your input, and intended no
disrespect. I am not the greatest writer, and hope I did not come across
as attacking you/
TOATCSAC Tired of all the cheap shots at contractors.
||Hey Ab, The Six Rivers sent a Handcrew to the Big island of Hawaii today
for a fire assignment.
Some of us didn't get to go, but it's nice for them! They will be flying
to S.F., then straight
to Hawaii and to the fire. They left around 0830 this morning.
Did`ja tell them to watch out for the VOG? Ab.
I have to agree with what has been said about contract crews, it's
very depressing. I wonder if congress does decide to cut us all, have
they considered the amount of unemployed people there will be? Not
alone think of the cost of retraining us all to do another job. I also
wonder what would happen to those older folks that are long in the
tooth and have no where else to go but fire. I think if they go to
contracting it will be a fatal blow to the fire fighting organization
as we know it.
I have worked with these BAD contract crews in the past and they
really suck, they talk it up like they are bad ass, but they suck. I
have seen them go down with drugs and I have seen them asleep on line
to name just a few of the shit they pull. They have no pride and they
will never know the meaning of pride. To sum it all up they are every
thing that is wrong with the fire community.
I'm a long time lurker, I can lurk no more. I have to express my
outrage on the current administration's outsourcing initiative aimed at
turning most or all federal wildland firefighting jobs over to
contractors. I am dismayed that no senior managers in the federal wildland
fire agencies are publicly stating that outsourcing wildland firefighting
is a dangerous and poorly conceived idea. I will try to make that case
To begin with, the outsourcing initiative is an idea that has been
around for a number of years but received little attention until the
current administration breathed new life into it. If our president is
successful, all federal agencies, not just the ones that fight wildland
fire, will be forced to turn over many or all of their functions to
contractors. This administration is using outsourcing as a thinly veiled
attempt to gut all federal agencies. The federal wildland firefighting
agencies are just along for the ride on this juggernaut because they are
part of the federal government. Thus far, no one from the Bush
administration has shown one shred of evidence that wildland firefighting
will be more efficient, cheaper, or safer if wildland firefighting is
Recent statements coming from the Office of Management and Budget
betray a dangerous ignorance of the wildland firefighting world. Saying
that Forest Service employees are low-hanging fruit that need to be picked
and that if anyone, anywhere is performing a job for the government then
that job is not inherently governmental are indicators of this ignorance.
They have placed federal employees, including wildland firefighters, in
the uncomfortable position of having to prove that their jobs are
"inherently governmental in nature". This is a concept that is
nebulous at best.
Why am I so frightened at the prospect of turning over thousands of
federal firefighting jobs to contractors? Let me count the ways.
First, we have an established and well-documented history of how
contractors perform as wildland firefighters, and how the increased use of
contractors has diminished the firefighting capabilities of federal
agencies, especially the Forest Service. Region 6 has been contracting
wildland fire crews and engines in increasing numbers since the mid
eighties. When timber cutting took a dive, so did funding for the BD
(Brush Disposal) crews who did much of the cleanup from timber sales. When
BD crews began to disappear, fire managers were forced to resort to
contractors to perform needed work.
Many of these BD crews were excellent crews, as good or better than
many Hotshot crews. They pounded line, felled trees, lit and mopped up
prescribed burns and filled many functions for fire managers. On
wildfires, they were a valued resource recognized for their many
abilities. Watching a good BD crew set up and run a water show on a
growing fire was a joy to behold. Because they worked together day after
day as a cohesive unit, they needed little supervision on a prescribed
burn or wildfire.
Many good firefighters learned the basic crucial firefighting skills on
a BD crew. It was a sort of apprenticeship; firefighters learned how to
cut fireline, run a chainsaw and safely fell trees, run pumps and install
hoselays, use driptorches and other ignition devices to burn units, and
many other fire related skills. They had to prove their fitness for the
job and dedication to their fellow crewmembers on a daily basis. The
esprit de corps on a good BD crew was outstanding. Many good fire managers
got their start on a BD crew.
When contract crews and engines first appeared on the scene, they were
mostly viewed as a bad joke. Having junk for equipment and poorly trained
people did little to gain the confidence of federal employees who were
forced to use them. Mostly utilized for prescribed fire at first, they
gradually were seen in increasing numbers on wildfires in the late
eighties and nineties.
Concurrent with the reduction of the BD crews was a trend in the Forest
Service for non-fire specialists. Where all Forest Service employees were
once required to (and eager to!) participate in wildfire suppression, more
and more employees declined to fight fire. The "militia" concept
of rallying non-fire people to fill overhead functions and staff Type 2
crews on wildfires became less and less achievable. Again, contract crews
and engines were used to fill the gap.
Federal agencies are just beginning to understand the negative impacts
that the increased use of contractors is having on their own workforce.
Federal firefighters have less opportunities to run chainsaws and pumps,
use prescribed fire, and learn the many other basic skills it takes to
become a highly skilled firefighter. Consequently, as federal firefighters
become fire managers, their understanding of these critical concepts is
diminished from that of previous generations. Many of my long-in-the-tooth
colleagues feel that a serious erosion of basic federal firefighter skills
has become frighteningly apparent in the past decade.
Consider for a moment the Thirtymile Fire; the unfortunate firefighters
who were unable to establish a simple hoselay and operate a pump were
forced to adopt a strategy of constructing handline under circumstances
that a well-trained firefighter would have recognized as a loser. If they
had been able to quickly establish a water show and contain the fire when
it was relatively small, things might have turned out differently. A lack
of basic skills meant that the firefighters at Thirtymile had virtually no
chance of catching that fire at a small size. The ultimate result was,
unfortunately, the deaths of four fine young people. The federal fire
agencies have still failed to recognize this; their main response has been
to enact a maze of checklists and other restrictions. Why isn't anyone
crying for more and better training for our firefighters? Can't we
recognize that contractors are depriving us of valuable opportunities to
teach our own people? Can't we see that poorly skilled firefighters become
poorly skilled fire managers?
The loss of opportunities to train our federal firefighters is just one
reason why I am so adamantly opposed to the widespread use of contract
firefighters. A long history of first-hand exposure to contract crews and
engines has also influenced my opinions. I spent most of my fire career,
going back to the seventies, in Region 6. R6 hosts most of the contract
crews and engines used on wildland fires today. I have supervised many
contract resources on prescribed burns and wildfires, and have compared
notes with many of my colleagues on this subject. Having been
"burned" on many occasions by contract resources has influenced
Let's look at the training that contract firefighters receive.
Supposedly, they receive the same basic training that federal firefighters
receive and pass the same physical qualification tests. They supposedly
subscribe to the same process that federal personnel do for becoming
qualified at various ICS positions, using the NWCG standard. Why, then, is
the Oregon Department of Forestry, who is responsible for administering
the contract for contract crews in Region 6, currently pleading for almost
a half a million dollars to hire investigators to look into widespread
allegations of fraud related to the training and certification of contract
The ODF now recognizes that allowing contractors to conduct their own
training, perform their own Pack Tests, and WRITE THEIR OWN CERTIFICATION
CARDS with almost no oversight by contracting officer representatives has
been unsuccessful, has allowed widespread fraud, and makes a mockery of
the system. In their defense, like many state agencies, the ODF is poorly
funded and unable to provide anything close to sufficient contract
There are many documented cases of outright fraud already proven in
Region 6, including one unscrupulous contractor who for years has cheated
on training, forged documents, and done god-knows-what-else to field
contract crews. When this contractor has been caught red-handed, he puts
one of his relatives or cronies names on the contract and goes merrily on.
No one who knows this contractor doubts that he is out of the business. He
just uses a shill to mask his involvement.
Abuse of the training system is rampant among contractors. Several
years ago, a 22 year- old man applied to work on my crew. His application
stated that he had a total of 4 fire seasons of experience on a contract
engine and that he was qualified as a Division/Group Supervisor. Funny, it
took me over 15 years to get qualified as a DIVS. We threw his application
in the reject pile.
How about Pack Tests? Contractors are currently allowed to perform
(supposedly) their own Pack Tests. The Federal agencies place strict
requirements on Pack Tests for their own employees. I have personally
administered many Pack Tests since the feds adopted it as the standard,
and have come to have a feel just from observing people take the test of
who is capable of passing it. Like many feds, I feel that the Pack Test is
a bare minimum standard for determining if a person can be a productive
firefighter. I have personally observed supposedly Pack-Tested contract
firefighters who I am positive could not pass a real Pack Test. The 60+
year old, obese, chain-smoking contract engine supervisor I worked with on
a fire a few years ago is one example; he nearly collapsed after carrying
two lengths of hose 100 yards up a gentle slope. I would bet my summer's
overtime he didn't pass any kind of physical test.
A colleague of mine from Oregon told me last summer that he and a few
other Forest Service people were given permission to stand in as observers
for contractor-administered Pack Tests in the central Oregon area. When
the contractors found out that this oversight was going to occur, many of
the central Oregon area contractors supposedly traveled to a location
outside of central Oregon to perform their Pack Tests, even though most of
them had (again, supposedly) performed Pack Tests in previous years in
central Oregon. The obvious conclusion is that the contractors didn't want
anyone to see what was really going on.
Speaking of central Oregon, that area is the home for most of the
contract engines used today by federal firefighting agencies. These
engines are being utilized more frequently outside of Region 6. It is
interesting to note that as more and more contract engines were fielded in
central Oregon since the mid-eighties, more and more arson fires have
occurred in the area. The arson problem has gotten so bad that central
Oregon has a standing arson task force during fire season to combat this
problem. The arsonists around the area are rarely caught. You can't blame
all of the central Oregon arson on contractors, though I know of one
central Oregon contract firefighter who is doing prison time today on
arson charges. Is it just coincidence that the contractor capitol of the
west is also the arson capitol of the west?
The problem is that contractors, by nature, are profit oriented. To
make a profit, you need to work. If no fires are occurring, you don't make
any money. Arson is one way to insure you get work. Federal employees are
guaranteed a paycheck regardless of whether they are on a fire or not. Of
course, they make more money if overtime and hazard pay is involved. And
to be fair to contractors, fed employees have also been caught starting
fires. But the motivation for fed firestarters is usually related to some
sick need for recognition instead of profit. When contract engine owners
have big bills rolling in and aren't making any money, arson is a
temptation that is hard to resist.
Another troubling aspect of contract firefighter use is that CONTRACT
FIREFIGHTERS HAVE NO VESTED INTEREST IN PUTTING A FIRE OUT. In fact, the
sooner the fire goes out, the sooner you quit making money. I have become
extremely skeptical of working with contract crews and engines because of
the footdragging and lack of production that many of these crews exhibit.
It is a pain in the ass to constantly have to cajole and prod contract
resources to put the fire out.
Let's compare the cost-to-government between contract and government
crews. A Type 1 Hotshot crew costs around $4,000 a day for an eight-hour
shift. A Type 2 contract crew costs the government around double that.
Which would you rather have working for you on your fire? The lousy Type 2
contract crew I got stuck with on a fire last summer had no fallers, had
only 3 people who could communicate in English (and poorly, at that), and
showed such an obvious lack of basic fire knowledge that they were
virtually useless to me (the IC) on the fire. If I had received even one
of the Type 1 crews I requested (my fire was a low priority at the time, I
was told to make do with the lone Type 2 crew I got instead), or some of
the fallers and felling bosses I requested, I am certain my fire would
have been contained at a smaller size. The key to containing the fire was
punching 15-20 chains of handline in an otherwise inaccessible area of
heavy bug-killed timber and burning snags. It would have been useless,
immoral and dangerous to put that Type 2 crew in there. My fire eventually
burned several thousand acres of timber and some homes. Do I sound
I want to add a caveat to my complaints about contract firefighters. To
be fair, I do know some contract firefighters that I trust and who do an
excellent job. Almost without exception, they are former feds who retired
or decided to take another path. I don't want to paint them with the same
brush as the others. And also to be fair, contractor equipment has
generally improved since the mid eighties. Some companies are now fielding
equipment that is the equivalent of the feds. But I have yet to hear
anything that would change my opinion that contracting wildland
firefighting on a large scale is anything but misguided. There are too
many unanswered questions, and I don't believe there is an answer to be
found. Are we to become a legion of contracting officers and CORs, wasting
millions of dollars on an expensive, ineffective, boondoggle? I dearly
hope not. If you think wildland firefighting costs a lot today, you could
probably easily double or triple that cost if we went to an all-contract
system. As a taxpayer, I find that disturbing.
Unfortunately, in spite of all of the known problems associated with
the use of contract firefighters, Region 6 is getting into using contract
firefighters in a new way. Contract engines are replacing initial attack
Forest Service engines at the district level. Contract crews and engines
are being staged during high fire danger periods as initial attack
resources. I have seen the results up close, and it ain't pretty. In spite
of this, managers who embrace this concept are receiving awards for their
"progressive attitude". It disturbs me that our managers are
embracing this concept and are willing to sell our beloved agency, still
considered the best in the world at wildland firefighting, for an
The problems I have described above are just the tip of the iceberg. We
have made quantum leaps since the South Canyon Fire in our understanding
of human behavior, and of the crucial roles things like leadership, intra
and inter-crew relationships, realistic training and many other factors
play in firefighter safety. The proposal of the current administration to
outsource federal firefighting jobs flies in the face of what we know is
critical to firefighter safety. It is, in fact, a step back toward the
days when we used to drag winos out of bars and put them to work on fires.
From the perspective of cost savings, of safety, of contract oversight, of
training the next generation of fire managers, outsourcing federal
firefighters makes no sense.
We need to trumpet the strengths of federal firefighting agencies more
than ever before. In the post 911 world, FEMA and other branches of
government have come to recognize that our Incident Management Teams are
an invaluable resource. It takes decades of training and experience for a
person to become an effective member of an IMT. Relationships forged
between fire managers over a career help create that strength. The
magnificent abilities of the combined resources that are trained,
equipped, and fielded by federal agencies will never be matched by a
hodgepodge of constantly changing contract resources.
A wily old Hotshot Superintendent friend of mine shared an interesting
insight with me a few years ago. He had just completed Fireline Leadership
training; he said that the Forest Service has a lot of managers but few
real leaders. That could probably be applied to the other fed firefighting
agencies as well.
The outsourcing initiative is a danger like none we have ever faced
before. Like no other time in our hundred year history, this magnificent
organization (I say organization because USFS, BLM, NPS, and F & W
folks are all in the same boat on this issue) faces virtual extinction
because of the whims of some zealous and misguided people who happen to be
running the government right now. We need our leaders to stand up and be
counted, to resist this travesty in the making. The time is now to make
your voice count; to be silent at this time is to admit defeat.
I hope my Hotshot friend was wrong. I hope our managers find their
voices and become real leaders.
Ab, thanks for letting me vent. They Said serves a valuable purpose in
these troubling times.
BBTBDC (Bring Back The BD Crews)
Welcome lurker. Your case is well made. Ab.
As a municipal structure fire fighter, and a state wildland fire
do NOT feel contracting out for wildland fire fighting is the answer. I
right next to Rural Metro fire, and have NEVER seen the benefit of that
COMPANY. They have good firefighters, dont get me wrong, but there HAS to
PROFIT built into the whole idea. Would we contract out police
departments??? No!!! What happened to hospitals and health care....has
contracting that out worked??? No...it's a mess. Rural Metro is soon going
lose their flagship, the City of Scottsdale. It is going to become a
municipal fire department. The city already owns the fire stations and the
fire trucks. It will soon prove that a "for profit" fire
save money. I don't feel any fire organization should be by contract. I
think it should become a Federal Fire Service, or a more efficient current
Maybe you can clarify... just wondering how Forest Service - Forestry
Technicians can qualify for Firefighter's retirement?
How can an employee who is not classified as a Firefighter be able to reap
Don't you think that the job description or classifying people and the OPM
people should get on the same page?
There has to be some sort of illegalities with one of the conflicting
findings or classifications of these two departments.
I have worked for the Forest Service for a long time and have always
thought that this is a bunch of bull.
Just enjoying your site and I thought I would send you a couple of photos
I have taken with regards to
helicopters at fires I have been in control of or present at...
I am the second in-charge of my District in New South Wales Australia and
have have a number of
large fire in the last 3 years including one that lasted over 6 weeks and
was 84,000 hectares in size.
At one stage we operated 12 rotary and 5 fixed wing aircraft from our
Incident Management Team for
In January 2002 we utilised remote fire crews that either rappelled or
were winched into the fire
ground for helicopter pad construction and or mopping up.
Of interest this last 4 months was the use of a Bell 214B recently brought
into Australia via the USA
by McDermott Aviation (AUS), it utilised a 3,000 litre water bucket.
An we now have five Ericsson Skycranes on lease to Australia this summer
and predominantly being
used in the south of our state at present.
Inspector Andrew Veitch
Deputy Fire Control Officer
Welcome to theysaid. Interesting. We put them on Helicopters
9 photo page. Ab.
||Hey thought you might like some pictures from Yerington Nevada.
Thanks. Put them on Helicopters
10 and Airtankers 6 and Wilson
Canyon is on Fire 16. Ab.
I am going to try and send some pictures from my new scanner. I dont
I am doing this right, but there are five of them. Bear with my while I
These are photos from Arizona State Land Departments Engine 36. This is
Type 6 engine stationed out of the Tucson district during severity season.
The pictures are from the "West Dome" fires southeast of Tucson,
970 acres and was the largest "state" fire of 2002 I believe.
E-36 was IA on
the fire, and was there till the fire was controlled 4 days later.
Got `em. Thanks for your patience. We put them on Fire
16 and Hand 7 photo pages. Ab.
Being recently retired, I am cleaning out my archives and putting things
where they really belong. First installment will be a couple of crew
photos. The first one is the Alpine Hotshots in Alpine, Texas circa 1997.
The second one is the Carlsbad (NM) Interagency Crew in 1998.
We put them on the Handcrews 7
||Ok, NorcalTom I'll play as I've given this some thought.
I have actually considered this one step further along than you suggest
by combining all federal firefighters into one group, not just the
wildland folks. I see this as being most efficient way to allocate
resources. Take away the local influences and organize a Federal Fire
Service. Now each individual Federal entity would "contract"
with the Federal Fire Service, the "contract" specialist would
consider the needs of the "contracting" entity, and compare them
to the standards adopted (OSHA, NFPA generally). So for example a forest
or military base needs fire protection, they go to the FFS and submit a
list of their needs (fire occurrence, special hazards, recreation
activities, values at risk, local agency capabilities etc), the FFS would
then take this information and determine what resources are needed to
provide adequate protection based on Federal laws and NFPA standards etc.
I'll break this down into the pros and cons from the employers and
- Reduce redundant overhead (no need to have a Chief of Fire and
Aviation for USFS, BLM, NPS, USF&W, BIA, Navy, Army, USMC, Coast
Guard, Veterans Affairs, DOE etc) so off the top you have eliminated
at least a dozen or more GS15 and SES positions, take this down to the
regional level and you are talking about several million dollars in
savings each year.
- More effective management of resources (no need to have a BLM engine
next to a USFS engine just because the land is managed by different
agencies and each wants their own people to respond to their land, if
one engine can do the job of two then you have one)
- Resources are tailored to local needs, if you only have the need for
wildland suppression or Crash Rescue, that is what you get, no EMT,
SCBA etc in areas that don't have the need, in return those areas that
have special needs have an easy way to get them as the FFS has the
resources to provide them, no special working groups needed to provide
a rare skill for a particular agency.
- Budget goes for fire, if other shops want to use your people they
have to fund the project, no free labor for non fire projects (this
could be seen as a con by those outside of fire)
- Reduction in costs by buying in bulk (buying 650 M62 instead of 400
M62, 150 M14, 100 Homebuilts etc) also creates uniformity reducing the
need for retraining individuals when the equipment is the same
- Loss of empire
- Pay to play, no using fire budget to fund other functions
- Organization of 12-20,000 firefighter into one group (employees have
a large voice and have an easier time getting their way)
- Fire run by fire people (makes it hard to cut corners when the
individuals providing fire services have to follow ALL the rules and
are not under your direct control)
- Less local control (see above)
- A large united professional organization run to provide high quality
fire and emergency services.
- Proper classification of all firefighters.
- Organization of the nations 12-20,000 firefighters (makes our voice
- The above makes the possibility of creating a fire pay system more
likely (dump the GS system and create something more functional for
- Qualified professional leadership based in the Fire Service, not
outsiders who may or may not have practical knowledge of modern fire
service needs and mandated to meet all accepted standards. Also not
their budget so no reason to cut corners and find loop holes.
- Easier to move between positions (currently there are some issues
when moving from DoD to Land Management Agencies or even Air Force to
Navy or BLM to USFS)
- More visibility resulting in more respect and pride in the
Tax payer pros
- Less local control (those damn faceless pencil pushers in DC don't
understand what we need HERE)
- Change of working conditions (those damn structure / wildland guys
are messing up our organization)
- Additional services might get pushed onto those who are happy with
the status quo (might have to take EMT or Wildland training when you
didn't have to before)
- Change of schedule (go from 40 to 72 hour shift or WAE to PFT, or
the other way around depending on actual needs)
Tax payer cons
Well thats all I've got on that for now.
- More efficient fire protection
- Improved safety as needs are filled instead of waiting for a death
(deaths) as with the current system
As to the contracting of wildland firefighters and those who think your
title is simply a matter of ego, I think this is one of those things that
proper classification of firefighters is all about, DoD firefighters are
considered inherently governmental and are exempted from contracting (at
least for now, there are some in congress who are trying to change this)
Wildland firefighters (Range/Forestry Techs) are not. I think it is easier
politically to cut forestry technicians than firefighters. Same goes for a
PFT organization vs. a WAE organization. We might understand that a
foreman with 20 years in who just works 6-9 months a year is still a
professional but to most a "part-time" employee is not a
professional and easily replaced by a cheaper 18 year old kid.
I hope that if this really goes forward that standards are set high for
contracting, at least competitive to the agencies people, I've looked
through some of the requirements for contract work and have seen the
requirement for CRWB / ENGB to have 25 days on fires as though that is
higher than most, I had more than 25 days on fires my first year in fire
but I wasn't qualified to supervise anything at that point. I don't mean
this as a slam against contractors but if the government seriously goes
forward with contracting fire, the standards need to be high enough to
keep out the riff raff just there to get a quick buck, the cheapies are ok
when you have plenty of sold crews out there watching out for them but not
on their own. If fire protection is not inherently governmental then I
don't know what else possibly could be.
VOG is a term for "Volcanic Fog" - sometimes used for hot gasses
(steam, etc) escaping volcanoes, but most often used for the steam when
lava flows hit water.
Sounds like it can have some toxic compounds in it as well. Ab.
||Does anyone besides me wonder if this so-called "business
to federal agencies and fire will lead to a national wildland fire
department? What would be the pros and cons of that?
||Shep, do you know if VOG is technically an acronym for "volcanic
or is vog a hawaiian language term for it? Something to be concerned about
fighting fire in Hawaii. That Morning Report was moved to the archives.
Report Feb8 Archives
||JR, you asked who is the Leadership Team.
I presume MEO-lie is talking about the National Leadership Team (NLT).
I think this includes the Chief of the Forest Service, the Deputy chiefs
and the Regional Foresters. Dale Bosworth is the Chief. You can find out
about him and his deputies www.fs.fed.us/intro/directory/wo.php.
He's appointed by Bush. Harv Forsgren is R3's Regional Forester, Rick
Cables is R2's Regional Forester, and Jack Troyer is R4s Regional
Forester. I don't know about the others. The letters that have come down
the tubes about Out Sourcing ("let's call it competitive sourcing so
it is more palatable" they say) have been very threatening. Basically
they say swallow this or else.
Here's something worth reading if you don't know what the Forest
Service does and how it's organized. www.fs.fed.us/intro/meetfs.shtml
Hope this helps.
R3er bean counter
||COMT, no offense meant here, but the reason it feels like contracting is
a done deal in R6 is because our management has caved in to the
contracting pressures without a fight and without raising the serious
considerations we all should be raising. The result, in my humble opinion,
is that in addition to paying more to contractors to do a cheaper inhouse
job, we're going to have to fund management positions to keep them in
line, make sure quals are met, etc. etc as R3 Flyer pointed out.
A world famous orator once said, "You don't get what you deserve;
you get what you negotiate." Why do fire management who are raised in
fire cave in to politicians as quickly as they do?
Biscuit and Dumplings
||How does a Fire Dept. contract out? Id ask Rural Metro. I think
that they are one of the biggest fire contractors in AZ at least. any AZ
people out there with more accurate knowledge?
looking for info on contracting info for fuels treatments, contracts and
how to put bids in for this work? Also how to
advertise for the work on regional and national contracts, or contacts on
how to obtain this info. Any info would be
great and or a start for me to search. thanks.
I was just reviewing the 30mile chronology and lessons. You can get to
it via the FS T&D Center Publications and the passwords on the links
page (under Federal), then T&D pubs, then fire, then
lessons from the thirtymile. I always forget those passwords tho. Thanks
for listing them there.
There are so many important points and references in that training
material and it is very well presented. I wanted to thank those who worked
on it. Tim Lynch and his crew.
I also have a request for some link updates so they will all be inline
with the new FS web. Right now you get a number of 404 error messages if
you go to the training and info resources and click on them. It is such an
important resource that it would be helpful if ALL the links worked. It's
very helpful that it is in html, also. Nice work.
One other great resource that's linked under training aids and
resources : the Wildland Fire
Lessons Learned Center. For those who haven't visited, you should go
there and browse. Many great resources and the interagency flavor.
We have had a link to the Lessons Learned Center on our Links
Page under Safety for some time, although it could fit in many more
categories than that. The fact that it's the very "last one" on
the links page makes it very easy for me to find when I need it. HAR, just
pull my little scrolling arrow all the way to the bottom and click. It's a
very useful site. Ab.
February 6 Update - Australia
website has updated fire information. I would suggest you look at it.
For those of you interested in community outreach during fires you might
want to look at the page with that subject..
The USA photo gallery also has a few new photos, some of which I have
Incident Management Teams (IMTs)
Both IMTs received a fire briefing in Traralgon last night. Today they
drove up to Drago where they will shadowing the Australian IMT at Drago.
Drago is the on the southcentral part of the fire. Aaron Gelobter's
6-person IMT will be working an 0700-1900 shift. Scott Vail's 3-person IMT
will be working the 1900-0700 shift.
The picture below is Scott Vail's
IMT in the Emergency Coordination Center in Melbourne. Scott is on the
left. To his left are Steve Ryberg, operations Section Chief, Bill Swope,
Planning Section Chief, and Ray Gilby from Australia. Ray will be the
Logistics Section Chief on Scott's team.
The fire crew continues to work near Delegate River on a swing shift
1400-0200. Tomorrow morning will be the end of their first 7 day shift and
they will be on R&R for the next two days. The picture below is the
crew with some of their Australian liaisons. The picture
was taken outside of the Orbost Work Centre where the Orbost IMT is
The infrared aircraft did not fly today because of clouds. The following picture
is of the two pilots of the infrared aircraft, David Holley on the left,
Mike Cavaille in the middle. Woody Smith the infrared interpreter is on
the right. The second picture was
taken about two weeks ago when Australian Prime Minister John Howard came
to visit the emergency coordination center along with the Priemier of
Victoria, Steve Bracks. Woody Smith did get to visit a bit with the Prime
KC, National Interagency Coordination Center
An Oregon newspaper http://news.statesmanjournal.com
reports that state and federal agencies in that region are trying to
out how to come up with $445K to pay for three staff positions and
for-hire investigators solely to keep contract fire crews in line, after
their transgressions during 2002. I don't think that is a cost to be
factored in for in-house crews!
Could you please post the following as it may be of interest to a
number of your readers? Thanks!
FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 01/31/2003
SUBJECT : SAFETY ADVISORY : 2003 Revisions, Safety Refresher Training
Revisions to the Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher Website
(WFSTAR) will be launched on January 31, 2003. This website, developed
under the direction of the Federal Fire and Aviation Safety Team (FFAST)
was initially launched in March 2002.
The purpose of the WFSTAR website is to provide a one-stop shopping
resource for the instructors of refresher training to obtain information
necessary to conduct high quality safety refreshers. The site identifies
topics for refresher training and lists a wide variety of reference
materials that support refresher training, including
- Training packages
- Lessons learned
- Investigation reports
The website includes links to the refresher training polices of the
federal fire management agencies and NWCG direction for refresher
training. The website also provides the opportunity for instructors to
submit abstracts of their refresher training programs for use by others.
The website updates for 2003 include a new National Emphasis Topic and
current Hot Topics. The 2003 National Emphasis Topic is Driving Safety.
Hot Topics include Revised 10 Standard Fire Orders, New Fire Shelter,
Thirtymile Fire, and other topics. The address for the WFSTAR website is www.nifc.gov/safety_study/index.php.
This address will get you to the NIFC Safety Page and then just click on
the Refresher Training icon.
As a reminder, the NWCG has adopted language requiring annual fireline
safety refresher training for all personnel who may be subject to
assignments on the fireline, such as technical specialists and ground
support personnel delivering resources to the fireline. This mandatory
requirement applies to all NWCG members. The full text of the memorandum
can be found on the WFSTAR website under "Policy Statements".
The last few days we have been overwhelmed with requests to connect people
with engines, owners of other equipment displayed on the photo pages and
to post jobs wanted. We also have a number of requests per day throughout
the year related to photo permissions. We don't mind dealing with photo
permissions, especially for training purposes or meeting presentations.
Regarding your other requests: if you have questions about engines or
equipment photos on the site, like who owns them or how to get in touch
with the owner, please send in a post with an email address where you can
be contacted. That way readers can send information to you directly.
For those with experience who are seeking contract jobs:
Any other ideas, let us know. Remember that the Classifieds
page and the Jobs page
are links pages of a sort. If you really need the commercial services
you're requesting of us, please figure out how to post an ad and help
support wildlandfire.com. We very much appreciate members of the community
who participate there.
- Check the Jobs page under Contract Fire Jobs.
- If you're interested ask us to post your 30 word "ad"
on the jobs page under Jobs Wanted. Cost, $25 a month.
||About the downsizing and outsourcing. I'm afraid it is
a done deal, it was decided at the highest level of
government without much input from the field. The main
idea is to stimulate the economy. There does not seem
to be much thought about Federal employees, we have
been told by management that contractors will be
looking to hire us to do the job we might lose. Like
they are going to pay GS rates and benefits when they
can get someone to do it for lower pay with no
Here in Region 6, the Information Resource Management
(radio, computer network, GIS) have recently went
through a reduction under the guise of MEO. This
process is to downsize to get prepared for the 30%
reduction of the Forest Service budget of 2005. It was
stressed that all departments will be affected, with
fire in bold letters. We have also heard rumors that
the funding might be even lower than forecasted, the
budget was figured before the Middle East became an
issue. There is a lot of uncertainty for the people
that are not shown on the future organizational chart.
For fire equipment try the Federal excess program.
||A couple of new logos for the collection. We put them on the Logos
8 page. Ab.
Fireants: Here is a scanned image of Ft. Lewis, Dept. of the Army,
Forestry and Wildfire Department's badge. Logo compliments of Mike.
Keene: This is the new Keene Flight Crew logo for 2001. The logo was
changed due to the change of helicopters to a Bell 212. Contributed by
Also new Keene helirappeller photos on the Handcrew
7 and Helicopters 9 pages.
||Who is the Leadership Team?
||Re Competitive Sourcing. This is what I've been able to find out...
Please fill in more info or correct me if I am wrong.
Bush's Competitive Sourcing Initiative mandates a "competitive
sourcing process" for each "non-inherently governmental"
job area within Federal Agencies in the USDA and DOI.
This process begins with mandatory studies of specific job areas which
lead to enumerating the duties and responsibilities of each one. These
duties and responsibilities define the Most Efficient Organization (MEO).
The MEO then pegs the duties in that particular job area and costs out
what the government does the job for.
Jobs in a particular job area are then made available for bid. This
could lead to contracting out that job if a contractor bids to do the job
for less money than the government employee can. Thus the employee must
bid for their job and if they get it, they must rebid for it every 5
years. If they don't get it, that position will go the way of
"non-government" from then on, since there will be no one left
in government to provide an alternative to the "contractor"
What is the main assumption underlying the proposal of this process by
the Bush administration?
I think it's clear. David Childs is the Commercial Activities &
Privatization Manager, Office of Management & Budget. From his comments
posted on theysaid last week, he's working from the assumption that
privatization (contracting) is better, more cost effective and should
be the end goal. In addition, if you read his comments, it's clear that he
doesn't think many federal jobs are "inherently governmental"
and that includes fire jobs. In other words, the goal seems to be to take
jobs away from government employees and award them to the private sector,
eliminating any chance that the government will ever again have
experienced people to compete for those jobs. You can see from the DOI's
Outsourcing Goals, for example, that there are Target Reductions
in their annual plans, for 5% reduction of jobs in 2002 to10% in 2003.
It would seem logical that a push toward privatization would be based
on fairly substantial empirical knowledge about relative costs of federal
and contract entities (as pointed out by M from CA last week) in functions
where we might have data.
Can contractors (contract crews) do the job less expensively or are
they more expensive than government crews?
What do we already know about contracting vs in-house
(Forest Service, BLM, NPS, FWS, etc.) crew costs for a project? M from CA
do you have data for particular projects? Anyone else? Calculate the
in-house crew costs as "costs to government" so they can be
compared as "apples to apples". That data must exist out there.
"M from CA" and fire managers I have talked with say, it costs 2
to 3 times more to run a contract crew on a job than an in-house crew.
As a taxpayer, here are some questions I have:
I'd like to see some of that data on contracted fire services vs. in-house
services. If someone has data one way or the other, please send it in.
- Why should the taxpayer pay contractors more to have a job done if
the current in-house system can deliver the same services less
expensively, if data we have shows they can?
- What are the implications for efficiency for the Fleet and
IRM people spending all their time getting ready to bid on their jobs?
- What impact does that uncertain and time consuming process have on
the rest of the agency people that are waiting for the ax to fall on
their job area?
- Why haven't the-powers-that-be (our Leadership Team) made the case
from existing structure and data whether contractors can or cannot do
jobs less expensively?
- Under the competitive sourcing paradigm, public servants will never
be done with this time-consuming and energy-consuming process. If they
win their job now, they have to rebid in 5 years. The "ax"
never goes away. What's with that?
- What happens 5 years down the road when there is no longer the
public servant (competitor) to keep the contractor costs in line? I
know at least one contractor who will wait for that day when they have
no competition from government and then jack their bids up
exorbitantly. Don't argue that there will be other contractors to step
in to provide the competition. We all know how the speed on freeways
seems to average 5 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, whatever
that limit is.
- Our federal public servants do many activities that come up at the
request of the public. These jobs are not in their job descriptions.
How will contractors provide these new and emerging services needed?
How do we maintain flexibility?
- What does the Public get out of this outsourcing process except more
expensive, time consuming studies right now and a decrease in
One last thought: How do you contract out a national federal fire
department? Our people, including computer people and fleet people, ON
FIRE TEAMS work for 8 hours a day and are on call for 24 hours whether for
fire, terrorist attack, newcastles disease in chickens, searching for
space shuttle parts. This is also true of fire people monitoring and
responding to IA on forests. No contractor is willing to do that without
exacting a price, but how will that be defined in the competitive sourcing
I encourage all of you who can to go to whatever meetings are
offered to learn about Competitive Sourcing. Think of how this process
impacts fire and our ability to serve the Public. Ask the hard questions?
How else are the "Business Types" going to begin to understand
the complexity of the system as it exists and mitigate any negative
outcomes - including substantial reductions in fire services on the
MEO-lie (The woman formerly known as MEL-lie -- think catlike, PUMA to
||The native crews are out of Oklahoma and are under contract with the
Ouachita NF out of Arkansas. They have about 10-12 crews available and not
sure which crews went to East Texas. Four 20 man crews got to the incident
Tuesday. They are used quite a bit during the summer and are some really
||The "Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations
been posted at www.fire.blm.gov/Standards/redbook.php
||There are going to be Outsourcing Seminars presented next week in CA.
Anybody been to those in other parts of the US? Are we the first?
Backburnfs, can we use those eye worm images in training ppts? Ab
thought probably Ok. They are gross.
||Re Firecat, from the French Guy
Thank you very much for your informations !!!!
WP, I think this THANKS is for you. Ab.
||Oh my, there are a lot of THANKS in the mail this morning from my
messages re use of photos, the forwarding of messages and answers to
equipment questions. This Ab appreciates them.
I was wondering if anyone knows which "Indian troops" as
CNN calls them are searching the east TX woods in the pouring rain.
I was wondering if you could tell me who’s truck this is so I can find
about it. We’re looking for something like it.
Readers, this is regarding that same "new engine 1&2"
I threw away all the e-mails with info the last time someone asked. Please
someone, send in the info on Aces High again. I swear, I'm gonna start
charging a commission on engines sold. Well, this is the last time. DM,
tell these guys to place an ad (with photo) on the classifieds page. Ab.
(OK, got it, thanks)
Article in "Nature" about Australian wildfires and wildfire
AzFirefighter should contact Arizona State Land-Division of Fire
They do a lot of co op stuff and may be able to help.
||Az Firefighter: Here is a link to FEMA they have a grant program that
might assist you.
||Does anyone know of any route to take as far as getting some wildland
equipment or grant money for wildland equipment for a municipal fire
department. My department does not have any major wildland or U/I areas,
we are now a part of the state wildland system. However, due to budget
shortfalls, we wont commit to any wildland equipment purchases. I wondered
if anyone new of small grants ($1,000+) that might help us, or of any
opportunity where we could at least get some NH and NPSH hose adapters,
shelters, and some hand tools (Mcloed, Pulaski). We have PPE, fire hose,
etc. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Basically looking for a way
get some very cheap or free/donated/grant equipment. Ive basically been
given NO budget for this program. Help!
||Here are the photos of the Americans in Australia. Recognize
anyone? I do. Top photo. Back row... Joe Millar and Aaron
Gelobter to start with.
Start here, and click Current Fire Situation Update, then Photo
Gallery, USA Firefighters
Here's the page taken out of the frame format:
||Today's NPS "The Morning Report" http://data2.itc.nps.gov/morningreport/
has an interesting section on firefighting in Hawaii Volcanoes National
Park. Learned a new term for acronym glossary - VOG.
||The Jobs page and
Wildland Firefighter Series
0462 & Series
0455 are updated.
Also- this email came in for the temp people who don't know the system.
This is the link you should be sending people to apply for forest
service temp firefighting jobs. It explains the system and process to
apply. The AVUE site is where they fill out their online application.
In regards to your TNT fire in Utah. The fire was near the BLM guard
station called Muscrat in
the west desert. I was on the second IHC crew called to IA the fire. WE
were told the TNT
factory was a ranch and we needed to stop the fire. After our third
attempt to stop the fire we
finally succeeded with the help from a 212 with a belly tank. We did a
recon and cement bunkers,
pallets of 55 gallon unmarked drums and infamous sign that said DO NOT
SUPPRESS ANY STRUCTURAL OR WILDLAND FIRE BEYOND THIS POINT! I do
not remember the fire's name, it was our first dispatch of the season in
late may or early June.
former R-4 IHC
||Columbia Recovery Incident:
As of Monday 49 FS personnel working on the location and GPS'ing of pieces
and remains. There are more today. A lot of the debris is on the
Angelina and Sabine NF in East Texas (over 300,000 acres). Don't know
about any on the Kisatchie NF in LA. Lots of gridding on the Sabine NF
with work on the Angelina NF to come. Could take awhile. Not sure how
work is progressing on pvt lands. This is a massive undertaking. At least
it is dormant season, once things green up it will be next to impossible
(about a month and a half away). P-burns and timber sales on NF have been
put on hold here with possible longer term impacts.
Need Info on obtaining an engraved pulaski:
Am trying to track down a company that does engraved pulaskis, or the
for a retirement gift for our FMO. Thought I knew of a place but can't
find it now. Tried the Wildlandfire classifieds but struck out. Anybody
know of anyone who does this? Thanks for the help. Pls post here or email
me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
||FS is participating in APHIS battle against poultry infected with
Newcastle's Disease in California. About 1.5MM birds
date. FS is also aiding in the location and mapping of remnants of
Columbia.....an emotionally difficult assignment I'm sure.
Re: Discussion on WCT. My opinion is it's a good test. I've taken it, and
also participated in the "step test" in its infancy. FS manual
employees are to be tested for the red-card positions they either hold or
are trying for.
Old Fire Guy
As far as a LAW about riding the rear step, you most likely will not
find one. Unless your department has adopted such a law. You could say
NFPA Standards come as close to a law as anything. It's basically the
"Law of the Land" for fire departments. Again NFPA is not the
LAW, it's a guideline. If your community adopted NFPA Standards as a set
of community codes or ordinances, then that's different. Some communities
do use parts of NFPA Standards as codes. If your department uses NFPA
Standard as a guideline, then look a NFPA 1500, Fire Department
Occupational Safety and Health Program, Section 6.3. This section deals
with Riding Fire Apparatus. Again this is not a law, but NFPA are national
standards which are recognized by the fire service. If someone is injured
and they happen to be riding the back-step, there is a good chance that
the lawyers will be a lot richer than the Fire Chief and possibly the
individual injured. I would also bet that Workman Comp could even refuse
to pay for injuries. Best CYA (Call Your Attorney), Insurance Carrier, and
Workman's Comp. reps and see what they say. Not to mention, every
apparatus manufacturer places signs all over the rigs: "DANGER"
Do not Ride on rear step while vehicle is in motion. Death or Serious
Injury may Result.". that's just to try and cover their end..
NFPA = National Fire Protection Association
Ok, after a quick trip to the ER for major surgery to my tongue which I
bit off after reading your post.... My god! Im sorry, but red flags are
all over the place when reading your post. Its not written anywhere that
against the law to stand in front of a speeding truck is it? Would you do
that just because its not against the law? Seriously, I dont know for sure
if its written anywhere but I would say there is a good chance that it is.
This is a no brainer, I would stand up to your chief based on common
I was on a vol dept at one time that had similar attitudes so I feel your
pain. Good luck
NFPA 1500 has all of the safety regulations regarding where and how one
ride on fire apparatus, it is illegal to ride on the back of the truck..
||Can anybody tell me what is the present rule or law pertaining to riding
the back step of and ETA or any other fire apparatus? MY CHEF and I had
a little chat about it last night. As Capt. I do not what anybody on the
back of a truck and he said show me where it is written as a law. In
other words if it is not law it is ok.
I belong to a small Vol. company in upstate N.Y. and the chef has been
chief for 27 years and the old ways die hard. But I would rather old ways
then a fireman.
Thanks to anyone who can direct me to written regs. so I can make my
The fire gimp
||Here's AN UPDATE from DOWNUNDER (sent in last night):
Our American team completed their orientation briefings. The briefings
included fuels, fire behavior, safety, communications, fire organization,
maps, fire camps, general logistics issues, and work/rest schedules.
The team members all agreed that the training was comprehensive and
professionally presented. The briefings certainly made them aware of the
critical fire situation that Victoria and New South Wales are enduring.
They repeatedly heard of the record breaking drought, drinks of the fuel
conditions, the unprecedented fire behavior.
- A front is moving through which might give firefighters a bit of relief
for 4 to 5 days with the expectation that things will heat up and dry
quickly after that.
- As of 1700 today, two of the large fires had plumes that combined to
form a huge convection column with associated lightning that apparently
was starting new fires. Winds in the area of some parts of the fire were
in the 40-60 mph. The news showed some incredible fire shots due to the
wind with valiant efforts by the volunteer fire brigades defending homes.
- The team will depart Melbourne at 0700 for the fires. At this point they
will be sent to a fire camp in the Mitchell River National Park (www.parkweb.vic.gov.au).
The park is now closed to tourists because of the fire danger and the
total fire ban throughout the State of Victoria. The team will work in
four 5-person crews. They will probably have a small (Toyota pickup)
"slip-on" 100 gallon engine assigned to each crew. The Victorian
fire suppression methods usually includes "slip-on" called
"pigs" working with crews and dozers with a lot of burning out
and holding of lines.
- The team will be assigned to the Bogong Fire Complex. They will work for
the Aussie Incident Management Team (IMT) on the area called South Bogong.
Go to the NRE website (www.nre.vic.gov.au/fires/)
for updated information on the fires. I was told they are also going to
upload pictures of the fires and the U.S. team.
Thanks Communications for the update and links. Ab.
||Wear your eye protection.
The story behind the photos. NOT FOR THE SQUEMISH.
Always remember to wear eyeglasses or clean out your eyes thoroughly
after working outside if you feel there are intruders...... this
is disgusting..... Yikes! Is there a market for RAID eyedrops!
Subject: Why do you wear PPE ? Good training issue.
Its just like from an alien movie, be very careful when you get caught
The following photos will show
effects of bad dust to a person's eye.
While a firefighter was walking he felt an eye irritation. Thinking that
it was just regular dust, he started to rub his eye, in an effort to
remove the dust. Then his eyes got really red, and he went and bought
some eye drops from a pharmacy.
A few days passed and his eyes were still red and seemed a little
Again he dismissed it thinking that the pain will go away.
As the days go by, the swelling of his eye got worse: redder and bigger.
He decided to go see a doctor for a check up.
The doctor immediately wanted an operation, being afraid of a tumor
growth or cyst.
At the operation, what was thought to be a growth or cyst, actually
turned out to be a live worm.
What was thought initially to be just mere dust actually was an insect's
Because of that, my friends, if you do get caught in dust, and the pain
persists, please go see a doctor immediately...
...and always wear your PPE.
||Confused federal firefighter:
Time in grade is... time in grade. There are no limitations to whether
experience is permanent, term, temporary, or excepted appointment. There
even a clause for "equivalent".
If you are getting the runaround, ask for representation from your local
NFFE or AFGE union.
Cff, the battle you are fighting has been fought and won many times
each victory has been by the employee.
This is a battle I fought and won in 1988... Good Luck
Who are you kidding, engine, fuels, and other crews taking the 25 pound
test? Don't know about that. Engine crews are not always driving around.
Pulling hose, carrying pumps, packing in tanks, fuel cans, setting up
lines, and diggin line are all done daily. I feel the pack test is the
most realistic of the WCT tests. I am sorry to see anyone die, But I would
have to say I would rather die taking the WCT and NOT risk the lives of
other firefighters on the line by passing an unrealistic test, than
collapsing on the line.
We are all a team on the line whether on an engine, IHC, helitack,
jumpers, vollies, career, etc. A team is only as strong as its weakest
||Another Red Flag Warning possible in SoCal? Stay tuned!!
... from the NWS pages...
TUESDAY WILL BE SUNNY AND MILD...THEN IT WILL TURN MUCH COOLER AS A
STRONG INSIDE SLIDER APPROACHES FROM THE NE WEDNESDAY. THIS SYSTEM IS
PACKING QUITE A BIT OF COLD AIR WITH 1000-500 MB THICKNESSES FALLING
TO 540 DM BY 12Z THURSDAY. ITS ALSO VERY DRY AND DEWPOINTS IN THE MTNS
WILL FALL BELOW ZERO WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY. THE COMBINATION OF
STRONG NE FLOW ALOFT (25 TO 35 KT 850 MB WINDS ARE FORECAST FOR 12Z
THURSDAY)...STRONG COLD AIR ADVECTION...AND STRONG OFFSHORE PRESSURE
GRADIENTS WILL WARRANT WIND ADVISORIES AND POSSIBLE WIND WARNINGS
WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY.
Going on 7 weeks now with NO rain or snow... A freeze could really screw
things up.... especially when combined with winds!!
El Nino seems to be El Ni... NO (rain)
A repeat of last years Socal weather? The views are mixed from NWS, to
Riverside, to the NASA JPL... who's to know?
Bravo! Well said, compadre! I don't care what your position on fire is,
just suck it up and pass the damn test!
I was reading what you had written and read it carefully. I was
wondering what planet are you on? The bit you were saying about the
women, well a very good friend of mine just so happens to be 5'2'' and
a female and like most women I have met in fire she doesn't have a
problem with the pack test. The other thing you said about PT, BC &
should get an easier test, I don't know about you, but the last time I
checked they hike the same hills we do it doesn't get any easier just
because of your gs rating. The part you said about finishing in 39
minutes was an unfair test, I have worked in two different regions and
3 different forests since the pack test came about. Every test was given
the same way. Some people can whip out the pack test very quickly,
others can't, it's a matter of how you walk it. I also worked on a
hotshot crew for a long time and for those people on those crews, they
can complete the test very quickly. The test itself is not the only
thing they use as a fitness standard, it's a whole bunch more that
people won't understand until they have worked on these crews. To sum
it all up, I strongly disagree with you.
This isn't the first time youv'e bitched about the pack test. Buck up
and shut up, get your fat lazy butt in shape cause the pack test ain't
||To Confused Federal Firefighter,
This may or may not help you, but I went through this before. All
overall rules regarding how classifications, grades, and levels ultimately
are governed by the Office of Personnel Management. If you feel that your
Human Resources (HR) people are giving you the runaround or doing the
"In My Opinion" or "My Interpretation Is..." Game you
have the right to challenge a ruling made by HR first to an HR person
above the local one, and if you still disagree you can ask for a ruling
through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
I did that with a temporary GS-06 fire job where I was told that I was
more highly qualified than the two people who were selected for the job
but I wasn't selected. When I asked why, I was told the two people
selected had Veterans Preference. I asked some more questions but was
getting a runaround from the HR person. When I asked if I had outscored
the veterans even with their 5-10 points added to the total they said yes,
I had the higher score. Instead they offered me a lower GS-05 position. I
asked to speak with her supervisor and was told that I couldn't and the
decision stands. I said I would get back to them shortly on the other
I contacted the HR Office where I worked at the time with DOD and told
them what I was told. They said I had the right to contact OPM if I wanted
to question the selection process. I did that, spoke to an OPM
representative, asked the question, and was told they would research it
and get back to me. Shockingly, they did! OPM said the job has to be
offered first to the person with the highest score, and even with the
veteran's points if I had the higher score they had to offer the job to me
first. They also informed me to submit my request to HR in writing and fax
it to them. I called HR back on the phone, explained my position, OPM's
position, and faxed them a letter with what we discussed. They called back
and said they received it and would get back to me. Two days later they
reversed their decision and offered me the job.
As to your appointment, were you hired under a JAC Program or hired
directly? JAC is different in that it is a two-year training program. If
you were hired directly by BLM for the announcement and in the announce it
said "must have 1 year experience as a GS-06 for the GS-07 position,
must have 1 year as a GS-05 for the GS-06 position". If you have
cumulative of one year as a GS-06, even as a temporary GS-06, they have to
give you the GS-07 slot. If you have less than a year as a GS-06 then they
can do just what they did. If you have a few years as a GS-05 that won't
count for the GS-07.
However, temporary time cannot count towards retirement, but it counts
for annual leave levels and it can count toward experience requirements.
Ask your HR to reverify what you have asked in writing to that HR office.
IF your not satisfied with their answer contact OPM and ask for their
opinion by the rules.
||It seems a lot of folks that read this board have quite a bit of
with personnel issues on the federal level, so I thought I'd share my
I was picked up perm. Under 0455 series (BLM) last april as GS-6/7
Qualified at the gs-06 level. But before I was picked up perm. I served as
0455 GS-06 for five months in the same job but on a 1039 temp appointment.
The personnel office says I can't use my temporary time as a gs-06 to
with my permanent time to qualify for the gs-07 non-competitive upgrade.
this right? I don't understand how, when it is the same GS level, how it
count for the next level. Also wondering how advancement works for people
similar situations that only work 13/13 schedules. Do you get your next
advancement (in my case gs-7) after one calendar year, or do you have to
serve 12 months of working time, and the 13 pay period layoff does not
I'm curious because I've seen both situations happen. Thanks to anybody
can shed some light on this.
Confused federal firefighter
||In response to another JW's long winded spiel on the pack test.
Lets put it in another perspective. Ref all fire types taking the
pack/vest test. Look at the Marine Corps, all Marines are considered a
rifleman and have to qualify yearly. Not much difference with a fire
fighter taking the pack/vest test yearly.
I'd like to ask another JW, what is your basic problem with taking the
Come take it with me next month. I shouldn't be any threat to you as I am
only a lonely Vol, age 66 closing on 67. But then I do jog 3 miles 6 days
a week and work out on the wt. Machine.
I just don't understand all the whoop de doo over the pack test. Seems to
me like people just don't want to get in shape and stay that way. But they
want the job, the pay, but not the pain to get it.
I agree on one thing BE SAFE
Old man of the Dept.
||Mid-West Fire Academy, it's out..
The Fire Staff on my Forest (DFMO, ADFMO) are only required to pack test
to the red card positions that they are qualified for. The ADFMOs are all
duty officer/ICT3/DIVS, so they do need to be Arduous-level. The DFMOs are
required to test at moderate, but they all choose to test at the Arduous
level. I have found that the pack test is much more fair and uniformly
administered than the step test, and have yet to see any abuses. My
feeling is that ALL IA personnel (engines, handcrews, prevention) must be
in top shape and should test at the highest level.
||I have to kinda agree with J.W. Government agencies are way out on a
limb using this test. To me, even if an applicant is honest on his/hers
HSQ it's not enough, and the paper work for the physical is just a
formality at the doctors office. A true "controlled setting" and
a better test would be at a medical facility on a tread mill hooked up to
machines that tell your true level of physical conditioning. I have worked
for the outfit for 20 years and now where, no time have I ever routinely
carried a 45 lbs. pack at a 15/min/mile pace (on flat ground), even when I
was on a hotshot crew. Isn't there a 25# standard for the max amount of
weight we are suppose to carry on the line or is that just for flights
that we take to the line. I will continue to take the test and pass it,
even though I don't think that we should use it. But as I said before some
govt agency is going to pay the price and it will affect us all in a
negitive way. Have a good day.. Lefteye
I seem to be the guy who does all the recruiting/outreach or whatever you
want to call it in our shop. Mostly I email our vacancy announcements to
everyone I know including to Ab, (Thanks for all the help Ab!) Anyway,
about a week or so ago, I received a call from somebody at the NPS Service
Center in Denver. Seems they're doing some sort of survey to assess
recruiting efforts. They emailed me a big questionnaire about using
regional recruiters and how we recruit and all that. Maybe after seeing a
large number of those Fire Plan jobs vacant for so long, someone is trying
to do something about it.
Remember New York, Remember Kris Eggle, Remember Columbia.
The pic is of interest. Funny thing is that the site you were at was a
private factory that produces T-N-T and is not a military site. I would
say the sign points out the obvious. NEVER FIGHT EXPLOSIVES FIRES. Words
to live by for sure. Maybe the 1-800 number could provide a good MSDS for
||There's one forest where at least 3 or 4 of the most experienced fire
management people (PT's, BC's, ADFMO's and DFMO folks) are being unfairly
and illegally discriminated against and they are receiving disparate
treatment. They have been denied fire assignments, as well as have been
made subject to removal of red card quals and position titles. It appears
that they are being "displaced" from their positions, unless
they are going to TAKE AND PASS the PACK TEST, at the ARDUOUS LEVEL...
IT'S DO IT AND PASS IT, OR ELSE...
HMMM... let's see, even the SHWT report says there's fatalities
suffered in correlation to the WCT, in the 2002 report. The 2002 report
mentions 4. The ones from 2002 are duly noted... maybe the other reports
should be amended by adding the "WCT-" to all the related
incidents from the prior years. Also, add the words: Work Capacity Test
and injuries, in the 2nd sentence of the preface statement, prior to the
word: fatalities. Maybe that sentence could read," It includes
serious vehicle accidents, WCT-fatalities and injuries,
burnovers/entrapments and injuries associated with wildland and prescribed
fire operations", instead of, "It includes serious vehicle
accidents, fatalities, burnovers/entrapments and injuries associated with
wildland and prescribed fire operations". I guess that's one of those
Working Teams things, though.
I don't know that the Pack test itself needs to be re-thought. Why
couldn't different levels of the test be applied more reasonably. If
IHC's, have different physical standards, then why do folks in all fire
positions, have to take the same test as they do. Wouldn't it be
reasonable that engine, prevention and hand crew folks just need to take
the 25lb test. Why don't the Fire Management folks take the light duty
test. Aren't the physical standards to meet, supposed to be minimums?
Couldn't one group's (IHC) minimum, the 45lb Pack Test, be another's
(Engine/Hand Crew) maximum? By taking an honest and real look at ACTUAL
and ORIGINAL JOB DUTY descriptions... I see that the Pack Test is not
administered uniformly across the country, within the federal agencies.
This is a legal downfall, when talking about D.O.L. issues. Take a look at
jobs available and the duties associated with them, as well as physical
requirements, for verification... Maybe a written intelligence and reading
and comprehension test should be used as an evaluative tool. Some people
think that muscle strength is more important than thinking, how can that
be? The brain is the center for everything, even the lungs and heart.
Here's a Question, Where's the Medical Standards? USFS in particular,
where are your's? I understand there aren't any? This important issue is
just this year being studied and tested?... Only on IHC folks? What about
Prevention Techs, or Fire Management people, why aren't they being
included in health and safety studies. If they are or have been, then
what's the ratio of them compared to IHC people. Are people other than IHC
folks mentioned in reports? Hmmm... I don't understand the 39 minute thing
either, didn't a rule apply to you in trying to complete the test in the
42-45 minute range for safety reasons? If the answer is no to this
question, then here's more proof of a test that's not being administered
uniformly across the nation.
The Pack Test is dangerous, it's not for everyone. It's unfair for
others as well. Oxygen transfer takes place at a persons cellular level,
women for example have 10-15% less hemoglobin than males. This could be an
unfair disadvantage for some. Hemoglobin is the stuff that carries the
oxygen around in your blood through your body, through the heart and into
the lungs, for alveolar gas exchange. By the way, this has nothing to do
with laying on the couch or eating donuts, either...grow up... Some folks
have physical impairments that they were born with or have acquired over
their bodies' aging processes. They can still maneuver and think, meet
deadlines and provide guidance, but since they cannot for whatever
legitimate reason carry a steel weighted backpack for a distance in a
given time limit, they cannot think? maneuver? meet deadlines? provide
guidance and experience? Something's terribly wrong, here.
Look, here's another thing to think about... can't jobs be made to fit
people? Think about it, how much has it been said, there's a shortage of
trained people... well, if someone (permanent) has 10, 20, 30 years of
experience, an excellent safety record and satisfactory or better employee
evaluations, like the folks I've mentioned in my opening sentence, then
why were they stopped from being used? Why are peoples' careers and their
retirements they've paid into for years being unfairly removed from them.
Is it because a hypothesis on "Health and Safety" is in the
works. That means BEING DEVELOPED, not ALREADY DEVELOPED... A friend of
mine, who's a Chief at a municipal department asked, "Why are you
giving your B.C.'s, ADFMO and FMO folks a newbie test"? Where's the
respect for their lifetime achievements? Is respect only a Municipal or
State Fire Agency practice?
My wife woke me with the news that there had been another accident with
a space shuttle. Not again I thought. Words can’t express the amount of
sadness that we felt for those families and friends that lost loved ones
as the shuttle disintegrated (I wish the news services would stop using
the word “exploded” with all incorrect connotations of bombs, etc.) on
its in re-entry.
I watched with dismay as thoughts & images of Challenger passed
through my mind and thoughts of the space program being delayed and
effects on the space station and Mars mission.
Then as pictures showed the wreckage that had rained down, I thought of
all of those wildland F/Fighters that would be drafted in to help put out
with some of the fires that would have been started by the very hot
wreckage and how they would also be the logical choice to search for
debris. Just the shear amount of wreckage that would be scattered over
such a wide swath of America would require the management structure that
you FF’s have.
For those that are on search mission, please take care. Watch out for
toxic exposure. If you want a souvenir, take a photo.
No doubt there will be an intensive debate as to whether the space
program should be stopped or scaled down. All I can say is that we should
respect the wishes of those that died in the Columbia, the Challenger, and
the Apollo & Mercury missions.
This vital program must continue.
The astronaut’s knew the risks involved and while they probably
wouldn’t have gone up if they knew they were going to die, they felt
that the odds were acceptable. Lets us not make their deaths be in vain.
Some people say that space flight has no benefits and has provided little
return for the money invested. To that end I will paraphrase a quote of
Robert Heinlein’s “ Investment in pure research always pays off”.
May their souls rest in peace and their efforts and sacrifice be always
||Last week Brian asked if anyone had videotaped or knew about crews
who had filmed a fire "tornado". He's trying to get a copy for
fire science study. I asked him for a bit more information. Here's his
Hey Ab, I was on a Fire in Fishlake National Forest which is located in
Southern Utah. A back firing operation took place, however a cold front
moving in at the time and the fire exploded. The smoke column began to
and actually turned into a tornado along with a fire whirl coming out of
tornado's top. It was later called Tom's Tornado. The date was September
1st, 2oo2. The tornado was like nothing seen before.
my name is Trent I live in the hunter valley in Australia and am keen to
find a career in fire fighting all my mates think that I should try to go
to America could you give me some advice please
yours in anticipation
||Ab - from a CFA friend "DownUnda".
Current NE Australia
Fire Overview Map fairly large, 273K
||R-5 Recruiter & others,
Ever since I got into this business, I've found myself doling out more
than my fair share of advice and instructions to acquaintances on how to
get fire jobs. It seems like whenever I end up on the topic in
conversation, an hour later I'm giving people web addresses and phone
numbers of people to call about seasonal jobs. I end up sounding like a
salesman. So i was thinking- is there any centralized recruitment or
propaganda dept. in the USFS? I've never heard of any.
It seems that IF there is any tangible recruitment being done it's
primarily at the crew level (typically IHC), or at best the Forest Level
(the LP is the only place I've ever heard to have a Forest Level
But this begs a bigger question- is there even a need for Agency or
Regional level recruitment? It seems like managers have more than enough
people that are interested in getting into this profession, but I don't
really know if that's true. Perhaps there is a need for targeted
recruitment- more people of some group or other. Like more college
students or something like that (don't have to pay 'em unemployment)?
I mean, I could totally see the FS or even a conglomeration of agencies
put together some really slick commercials or even a website showing the
world what we do. Sell the image, because damn it is a good one. The only
thing that rivals what we do in terms of adventure & excitement is the
military, but there you have all sorts of strings attached. With fire,
you're guaranteed action every summer, you get to travel, and when the
summer's over, you don't have to come back if you don't want to. That's
paid adventure in my book, and that's an easy idea to sell- if you try.
And seriously, you wouldn't even have to hype anything up- just point
blank tell people: grueling hours, little sleep, excitement, boredom,
exotic locations, smoke, dirt, MREs and fire. No matter how you slice it,
the Wild West is our workplace and there's a lot of people out there who
would love the chance to go out, sweat their balls off and do what we do-
if they only knew about it. (See, what did I say, I sound like a
I mean, something like this could not just serve recruitment purposes,
but also develop Fire as something noteworthy in the public imagination.
I've done a fair amount of work with digital video production using fire
footage, and I must say, it's not hard to put together something
impressive, short, and sweet by just showing people what we do using basic
So the question is- Is there a place for any of these ideas to be
implemented in the federal fire service? And beyond that, should there be?
JB & friends,
I don't understand why you guys are getting so huffy about the CDFer
getting kidnapped. If you read the article, it showed that she knew what
she was getting into, went for it, and kept a cool head when things went
south. If she hadn't "just walked into an ambush," they probably
would have shot her & her party for running (in the article it said
that they realized they were surrounded and being closely watched) By
"acting like dumb Americans," they saved their own skins. That's
good thinking if you ask me. Besides, it's not like she was crying about
it saying "oh poor me" or anything like that. And should she
have been there in the first place? Well, that's her call. She didn't risk
anybody's butt besides her own, so in my book, if she wants to go and she
knows the risks, then she has every right to do it.
||After reading the article regarding Megan Smaker's hostage experience
the following statements in the article keep standing out in my mind:
"The Americans' guides dropped their packs and ran. Smaker, Pelton
and Wedeven didn't want to stumble through the brush and into the
paramilitary group for fear they'd still be trigger happy."
"We decided we'd act like stupid, dumb, loud Americans and walk
down the path slowly so they could hear us coming," she said.
"Basically, we walked into an ambush on purpose."
In my opinion, this sounds like a scenario out of my recent Fireline
Leadership class. I say they made the right decision. If it was a choice
of running blindly down an unfamiliar trail in a strange country without a
local guide or semi-controlling the situation by setting the stage for
imminent capture, I'd go the same route that Megan and her companions did.
My hat is off to her for her cool headed decision making process during
an extremely stressful situation.
- IA Dispatcher
So maybe a distinction needs to be made between decisions leading to
Entrapment and decisions, once entrapped, to avoid Burnover. Ab.
We have been out locating and confirming shuttle debris all day. We have
over 200 confirmed pieces so far, all confirmation sightings are being
You too, Keith. I wondered if you'd be drafted for that task in East
||In response to the seasonal CDF firefighter' hostage dilemma:
Let's apply some of her actions to a few of the 10 & 18:
- "Base all actions on current and expected fire behavior".
Duh! Those folks that grabbed her have a history of violent behavior.
- "You are attempting a frontal assault on the fire". Well,
she just sort of walked in on these guys on purpose.
- "Fight fire aggressively, but provide for safety first".
Not much explanation needed here.
Maybe CDF should re-examine the methods that are used to train their
seasonal firefighters like her. If this is an indication of her normal
thought process, I hope that she is never on an incident with my crew.
I don't think we can indict an agency for the not-on-the-job choices
of one person, but I agree with your assessment otherwise. Ab.
||For the curiosity seekers among us:
Re Megan Smaker, the CDF firefighter who was held hostage
in Panama... "Basically we walked into an ambush on purpose"
woman talks about her time in captivity.
Why intentionally put yourself in harm's way? Ab.
I was heartened by your post, but when I opened the pictures
that Ab linked, all the elements of the Helicoper LCES were
in each picture. I am so confused!
Oopsie, busted! HAW HAW
||about the pack test:
Right now I am filling out the packet that comprehensive health sent me
from virginia, they have also set up a pretty intense physical with a
doctor that is contracted through the gov, they call it a baseline, you
have to take it before you are cleared to take the pack test in 25 years
of fire I have never heard of it until now, because of all the deaths of
the pack test I guess, so it must be a interior department thing. Iam
surprised that the FS union hasn't bitched about it like they did the pack
stay safe all
I'm surprised that if you did the work capacity test (pack) last
year, you weren't required to do the health screen first. There was fairly
extensive discussion on theysaid last year about the prerequisite screen.