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"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
March, 2003

Home of the Wildland FireFighter

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03/31 Here's the 2003 Fire Prediction Outlook for R5. Interesting reading. The percentage of drought-killed and beetle-killed trees is as high as 80% in the southern California forests around Lake Arrowhead on the San Bernardino NF.

I know I have read this report. I even heard a scientific presentation on the catastrophe. But I can't remember if I read this on the web. Did we link to this report somewhere last month? I am currently brain dead... perhaps as high as 80%. Beetles?

Ab.
03/31 these are some photos about a Sikorsky S64E who puts out the fire.

11-3-2003 vicenza italia

ciao matteo

Thanks Matteo. Nice to have some from Italy. We put them on the Helicopter 10 photo page. Ab.
03/31 Hey Ab this is a really cool photo of the Heaps Peak helicopter when I worked with them on the Hensel.

Flameboy

Thanks Flameboy, we put them on the Heli 10 photo page. Ab.
03/31 Got around to scanning a few more photos

Allouette, either the Peppermint or Kernville Helitack crew from the Sequoia NF, flying crews out of Little Manter Meadow during the Manter Fire, Sequoia NF 2000.
Blackhawks working at the Manter Fire, Sequoia NF 2000
Skycrane making a drop on the Salmon Fire, Sequoia NF, 2000

Fedfire

Nice ones Fedfire, put 'em on the Helicopter 10.
03/31 Photos from Countryman are of the NDF patch on Logos 8 and of an NDF Engine in Malibu, 2001 on Engines 6. There's a photo of the Cerro Grande Fire near Los Alamos on Fire 16 and a photo of the crew going home from the West Basin Fire in 2000 sent in by Paddlefire.

We'll be updating the dropdown menu and getting up updated jobs information as soon as our ISP is back in order, they promise within 24 hours. Dont'cha hate it when that server stuff happens. Grrrrrrr, I do.

Ab.
03/31 A forestry technician,

The shuttle astronauts were highly paid, highly visible, extensively trained, professional specialists. NASA will likely be able to leverage their deaths into a budget increase. And the space program is a matter of national pride.

We are low paid, hardly visible, minimally trained, "grunts". The FS, BIA, BLM, is so afraid that the public will ask "did the last increase go toward making firefighters safer?" that they downplay our deaths as much as possible. The huge expanses of wildland we protect are largely considered "wasteland" by the majority of voters...unless it abuts their property/home.

And of course the eyes of the nation were on the shuttle when its systems spectacularly failed killing its occupants. When our "systems" fail we are in the middle of nowhere and no one is looking.

And in both cases people say " they were in a very risky profession.. and they knew it". Except in our cases few of realize just how risky it is.

Fireronin
03/29 Hello all-

I have been doing some thinking about Thursday's helicopter crash, and
have suddenly found myself very very peeved. The day the shuttle crashed,
news of it was on straight for something like 6-8 hours. Continuous
coverage. What a tragedy - a loss of heroes, and so on. Then, and since,
it has been a continuously running national story... did we figure it out
yet? Will the space program continue? Was the problem due to low bid
work? Why can't we spend more money on NASA's (already very expensive)
aircraft so that these people aren't killed?

I remember the first days after the tragedy, wondering where the national
coverage has been every time wildland firefighters are killed in the line
of duty. Often in low budget equipment. Many are sick, but we don't spend
much money at all to research the health effects of smoke exposure over the
long term. Lots and lots of wildland firefighters damage their bodies
forever, either through years of hard work or an injury that occurs in an
instant. Yet where is the national outcry? The national media coverage?
We are flying aircraft that the military wouldn't dare use, that NASA would
scoff at, yet where is the outcry for our people? What we seem to hear
from the public and the media is that we spend too much money on putting
out fires the PUBLIC wants put out, that we know damn well need to burn in
many cases or they'll be even bigger next time. It's our fault. And then,
when our aircraft fall out of the sky, WE have to deal with the effects,
and with the backlash, and with the finger-pointing. And we mourn the
deaths, the injuries, and the changed lives. Quietly. Without fanfare.
Without national media attention.

In an extreme case of tragedy and irony, two people died in a helicopter
accident in Texas Thursday in the effort to try to figure out why seven
people died in a space shuttle crash. Will the helicopter accident be
declared a national disaster? Will the media cover their accident for more
than 30 seconds, and follow up on it every day at first and then every week
for three months? Will we spend millions to find out what happened to
them, and how to fix the problem? Why do we take risks like using aircraft
on an incident like this in the first place? This wasn't even a wildfire!
Or an emergency! And, their deaths will not be considered fire-related,
because we, the nation's unofficial fire service - the wildland community -
were working on an "all-risk" incident.

I really don't know what else to say. My thoughts are with you all.

Ab, today sign me-
"A forestry technician"
03/28 From Firescribe:

Results of the trial of the meth producers who started the fire on which AT pilots Lars Stratte and Larry Groff died: www.pressdemocrat.com

Closure of the Ukiah Airbase defended by CDF Director even though the CA legislature has reversed the closure at least for this fiscal year: www.sacbee.com
03/28 COMT: Thanks for the input.

We've recently purchased several "Racal" radios, Is this the direction
all the agencies are going? If everyone does go digital, will everyone have to have the same radios like the King radios.

Are the NIFC communications set up to use/clone multiple types of digital radios @ fire camps.

My experience so far has not been good or bad, they seem to work fine minus the fact that the loud end of the volume is extremely low. The upside is that the radios are 100% waterproof so it will survive next time i decide to swim with it on unlike the KING's

The battery life as you mentioned is used up @ a pretty good pace also.
The rechargeable seem to do okay but i doubt IL be able to charge on a fire. The clamshells take 10 AA batteries.

My main concern/question is: Are all the agencies going to be on track with the same type of radios by 2005, is there going to be a "National Standard" for radios?

Thanks,
MG
03/28 A few comments:

Thanks for all the photos and posts with attachments that have come in. We've been away and have a lot to catch up with, hopefully by the end of the weekend.

The server problem is getting resolved, but slowly and with many apologies from the tech folks. They say 48 hours and then the jobs, links and chat pages will be back up. Nothing like lightning striking just as we leave home.

Great bunch of young people at the Academy. Terrific bunch of trainers.

Ab.
03/28 Here are my thoughts on digital radio. There is great
potential for the ability to pass data along with
voice. Another pro that is mentioned is that radio
transmissions would be more secure from scanner
monitoring by the general public.

The downsides are cost, digital radios roughly run
about 3 times what analog units costs. The operating
time for batteries is very short due to the radio
needing a higher current. The quality of audio is not
good, sounds like a machine talking. Digital either
receives or it does not work at all. It is hard to
tell when you are getting out of range until it just
stops working, with analog you would be able hear the
radio break squelch and audio get weaker with static
increasing. Two digital radios transmitting at the
same time would cancel each other out, analog radios
would at least squeal and the dispatcher would let
them know they were walked on. Reports have stated
radio coverage being reduced anwhere from 20 to 30
percent have been reported when compared to wideband
analog.

I have read some negative reports in Safenet
http://safenet.nifc.gov/ from firefighters
recommending not to use these radios on fire.

The FCC was going to require all radio users to go to
narrowband analog by 2005, but the public safety
sector threw a big fit and the FCC backed off. I read
that the main reason for going to narrowband was the
FCC could free up frequencies so they could auction
them off. Congress saw this as a way to raise funds
that were not already allocated. Toss in a few
lobbyists for major radio manufacturers to help them
along. I think one of the main reasons the FS has
stuck to narrowbanding is to force some forests to
replace radio systems that have been nursed along and
are out of date.

This is just one opinion about digital radio, let us
hear your experience with it.

COMT
03/28 Check out the articles in FS Today (Folks, this is the Forest Service web.)
http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/pao/fs_today/

Here are the headlines for this issue:

Message from the Chief: Workplace Security
Homeland Security Concerns While Visiting Washington, DC
Forest Service Provides Disaster Assistance to Iraq
Forest Service to Compete Job Corps Centers
Helicopter Crash Injures Forest Service Employee
Wayne NF Honors Deployed Soldiers
Honoring Your Fellow Worker
Response to Questions on Dell Discount Program
President Signs Order for Pay Raise

DO
03/28 There is a new bill in the House (HR1230) calling for access to the Cleveland National Forest for 500,000 volt power lines. We are working to educate the public and are looking for documentation on fires caused by power lines.

Anything you can provide would be a great help! Obviously, this is a great concern to all who play, live and work in and near the forest.

See www.fofandp.org for details.

Kelly Smith
Santa Rosa Plateau resident
03/28 For those that have not heard. We lost a helicopter in Texas 3/27 while searching for space shuttle parts. As it has been said to many times before "Two more angles have earned their golden wings" Five on board, lost two, three in the hospital. Thoughts and prayers with their families and friends. God Bless them All.

A dispatcher who is there.

Condolences. Ab.
03/28 To Brian

You are correct. Alex does work in Alaska and is on the Mat-Su crew. The
message you wrote has been delivered to his desk but I believe he is
gone for the day and not quite sure of his plan for tomorrow. The crew
phone number is 907-761-6342 or 907-761-6300 for the main office.

Glad I could help you. Dave
03/28 R6FF,

Always keep in mind that helicopter/rappelling is just another way to get to work, think of it as a flying crew truck that goes a 100 mph and doesn't have to stop for traffic lights! Once the ship leaves, you're just a groundpounder. You need a lot of focus to be a rappeller but never let that be a "sum of all you are". You are a firefighter first and you MUST focus on the all the aspects of firefighter safety. LCES. You will most likely have some good overhead and fellow firefighters to work with. Find a mentor, someone who will show you the ropes ( pun intended ). When you are training to rappel, PAY ATTENTION! those techniques and emergency procedures will get you to the ground, take it from someone who has had a few knots. My advice to helicopter firefighters: Landing is better, rappelling is the last resort.

good luck,
sting
03/28 R6FF,

The sky genie is your decent device- its the item that you attach to the rope and it controls you as you rappel down the rope. It gets hot- from the friction. Again, keep your feet together, slow down when you get to the close to the ground, make sure your feet hit the ground before your butt does. Some pull ups might help you out, too.

good luck,
- XR6ER
03/28 Ran across these articles on out sourcing, at www.govexec.com if they can be trusted it looks as though even the OMB, the agency behind the outsourcing is not pleased with how some agencies are whipping out competition bids without full consideration of those jobs functions or taking the time to do it right. The second article sounds very relevant to the Forest Service situation of collateral fire duties.

OMB weighs changes to job competition process
www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0303/031903p1.htm

Defense could use new 'best value' competition method under proposal
www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0303/031803p2.htm

Onelick, you may have something, I'd love to see some of the other Federal Fire agencies get involved in the IMT program each with their own special talents, it might improve our employee gene pool if it got our departments more activity and attention from congress, there are many firefighters on the government payroll that are being under utilized. I'd also really like to see something like NIFC and NWCG created to organize responses to the non wildland related incidents. Not to take away from the current teams but as you mentioned they were originally created for wildland, and the training and organization reflects this, it is unrealistic to expect the same people to respond to incidents 365 days a year, when the size of their employee pool was intended to deal with wildland fires for the 6 or 7 months of fire season. The fact they have been able to continue doing the great job they do speaks for itself. Would also be nice to see FEMA play nice and realize what their job is and isn't or at least take the time to learn how to do the job they are trying to take.

Fedfire
03/27 For those interested, here is Mark Rey's March 7 Fire testimony.

Old Fire Guy
03/27 I've been lurking in the shadows reading about the discussion on IMTs, and I have a thought or two on the subject. People in the Fire Service start out as either wildland, or structural. Then when they learn enough that they get bored, they venture to the other just to see what it's like on the other side. Sometimes they like it and stay, sometimes they don't and go back. Some of us love both and do both. But I've come to realize in my 20 years or so of fire service that you can't do both really well if you have a family, other job, etc. There is just too much of a commitment from both the wildland side and structural side to do both really well. The same goes for IMTs. Instead of IMTs trying to be "All Risk", have FEMA, Homeland Security, FDNY, DCFD, whoever, create several IMTs that specialize in terrorism, several that specialize in structural, several that specialize in natural disasters, several in police matters, etc. That way, you are not trying to make the round peg fit into the square hole, the diamond hole, the triangle hole, and any other hole out there. Make a peg to fit each hole! I'm sure some of the ICs of these IMTs aren't too happy to be doing some of the "All Risk" stuff either. They want to stay where their heart is: in wildland fire. Sure there will be some lag time until the other new teams can get brought up to speed. I think we had up to 4 IMTs committed to the Columbia recovery, can you imagine what would have happened if that occurred in July? Who would have gotten shorted? Fire or the recovery? The need is there, let's get some other people educated in the right way to manage an incident.

Onelick
03/27 I just wanted to thank R3 for the advice. Im not sure what a sky genie is, but thanks to him i will not drop it. I so look forward to becoming a rappeller. I have spent the last 3 years on a IA crew on the Mt. Hood N.F. Once again thank you for your input.

R6FF
03/27 Wenatchee Rappel Crew? Uh Oh -- You're in trouble.....

Just kidding -- Congratulations on your new job. I've rappelled, but it wasn't in R6. I always felt that R6, in general (a few notable exceptions) had a better rappel program than many other places (that should get a few people hot).

Advice:

-Find a Tower, start running up and down it.
-Don't drop the Sky Genie off of the aforementioned tower.
-Practice some heavier packouts (110+ pound range).
-Don't put your harness on the ground.
-Always keep your feet together as you slide down the rope.
- Practice pushups -- maybe even with a pack on.....

You'll do fine. Good Luck

R3er
03/26 Hello, I am trying to locate a fellow named Al or Alex
Strong with the Mastu, Nastu, Mashtu, or Nashtu?
Wildland Firefighting Crew. He left me a message on
my answering machine but the message cut off before he
could leave his number. Have you ever heard of him,
of that crew or anything close to it? Possibility of
it being in Alaska or Florida. Thanks!!!

Brian Bodah
03/26 GT-

There is a need for a coordinated effort by FS employees to deal with this issue. Right now we need a point person and a strategy - one that filters down to each forest and its employees. Otherwise, I don't think that this will work effectively.

Suggestion: National level union rep to head since they are cognizant of issues, and people volunteer for strategy development? Any other suggestions? I'd be more then willing to put in time on this.....

Treehggr
03/26 The wildlandfire.com server seems to be down. We're looking into it. Links and jobs pages are affected. Ab.
03/26 WP's comments about FEMA acting like they invented ICS reminds me so much of California's "Governors Office of Emergency Services" or OES. Talk about a prima donna organization! They plagiarized ICS and called it SEMS and made it a state law. I just got off 2 weeks of the Exotic Newcastle Disease operation with a single OES rep and they attend all the meetings acting as if they are in charge and everyone else is responsible to them. They produced a document that said they are the lead organization in all emergency operations. Too bad they don't have anybody on any of the management teams or that is qualified as a Type 1 or 2 IC. They have never, NEVER taken the IC or any general staff position in any emergency I have ever been involved with. Not the Riots, not the floods, none of the earthquakes, surely not any fires, and not even a disease in poultry. Even though they are the LEAD disaster organization in California. Give me a break. At least they let us wear our uniforms this time unlike at the Northridge earthquake. We were too many in number then and it didn't look like they were in charge like they say they are.

Fireball XL5
03/25 A little more info on homeland security/IMT use, etc. We are currently in
the process of using portions of some of our type I IMTs, and simulation
leaders from the S520/S620 course to help train-the-trainer in ICS -- all
the modules, and actual simulations. I just returned from a two week
assignment with portions of the SW IMTs to perform this task with the FDNY
(New York City Fire Department) -- The first session included 40 of their
top chiefs. The second session begins this week for another 40. They will
carry on this train-the-trainer for their department. Most of the
scenarios we helped coordinate were created by the department and dealt
with terrorist events. The training was very well received. They plan on
forming approximately five of their own IMTs for use within their city and
along the eastern seaboard. It could continue with some trainee/shadow
assignments with our national IMTs on wildfire assignments this season. In
addition, while we were there, information was flowing that the Department
of Justice is also looking at some ICS train-the-trainer events for their
"Terrorist Task Forces." Interesting times.

Cache Queen
03/25
How can a pvt contractor bring the aussi firefighters over here when there is so many folks looking for work. do they meet our training standards... this is odd. are american firefighters not good enuf for this contractor.. i do think the feds need to look into this.. hmm

ncbrush6
03/25 Hello ab.

Well I just found out today that I am going to be part of the wenatchee rappel crew. I was wondering if there was anyone out there that has been a part of a rappel crew that could give me some heads up on what to expect. I cant explain my enthusiasm for my new job. Any help would be great. Thank you for your time.

R6FF
03/25 Ab,

I don’t know exactly what the impact of “competitive sourcing” will be on the agency’s capabilities in fire suppression, but maybe some of you can help me out with that. I do know it’s going to have a huge impact on a lot of people that have worked for the FS for a long time. I’m talking bye, you’re gone.

The FS will be “studying” over 1,500 maintenance jobs within the next month or two. This is not a “study” that ends up in a file drawer and life goes on. Nope, a contracting officer ends up with two numbers on two lines of an A-76 form, and if your group’s number is bigger than the contractor’s number, you’re gone. Period.

We’re being thrown into a very high stakes game here and we don’t even know the rules. I went to an intense 3-day training session (it made me physically ill, no joke), and the consultant told us it was just an OVERVIEW, that if we took all the training we’d need it was 6 WEEKS of training. This game pits us against professional corporate contractors who know the procurement rules inside and out. We are “competitive sourcing” amateurs playing against pros. And the deck is stacked. For example, contractors can protest decisions to the courts. Employees cannot. Take it from me: The more you learn about this process, the more you feel like the Christians taking on the lions. If you do fleet, road, ground, facility, or trail maintenance, then your job is on the block. For those employees with fire collateral duties, the A-76 contracting decision will not take these duties into account at all. The competition will be run strictly based on the maintenance duties, and if the maintenance contractor wins the competition, then the fire duties will just be directly converted to contract without any kind of competition. In some cases, fire duties may be included in the studies, and the A-76 decision will be made strictly based on cost. Such issues as quality, experience, the agency’s intellectual capital, etc. do not enter into the decision at all.

This whole thing is politics of the worse sort. Since I came away from the training, I’ve gotten into trying to do politics for the first time in my life. Back on 3/13 Semi-Frozen Ex FF said if he found out the President's administration is behind this bullshit he just might do something drastic, like vote the other way. Well, here’s what I’ve found out in the last two months:

The arbitrary quotas that are putting our jobs on the line come straight from the Whitehouse’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This is a Presidential Initiative; Congress had nothing to do with it. Angela Styles is the lawyer appointed by Bush to OMB and is point person for the initiative. Before her appointment, she worked for a Washington, DC law firm representing contractors in contracting disputes against the government. Congress tried to stop this thing in January as part of the 2003 Appropriations Bill. The Bush Administration threatened to veto the whole Appropriations Bill if numerical “competitive sourcing” targets were prohibited. The amendment prohibiting them was defeated 50-48 along almost a perfect party line vote (Specter-PA and Snowe-MN were the only Republicans to vote for the prohibition).

Congress ultimately did include weaker compromise language to try and slow down “competitive sourcing.” Supposedly, OMB won approval for this language by assuring Congress that they wouldn’t hold hard and fast to their quotas. But here’s what the FS had to say, in a very recent official communication about the studies: “The agency is required to “study” 3,035 FTEs as our target. This is 15% of our commercial FTEs. These studied positions may or may not be outsourced to private enterprise.”

I’m not a politician myself, so I’m going to call it like I see it: Somebody’s lying here.

To meet these quotas, the FS says maintenance studies should be started before May 1, and completed by Sept. 30. If studies are done badly, contractors win. DOD is the only agency with much experience with A-76, and it takes them almost 2 years on average to complete a study. Experts from all over complained that a proposed 1 year deadline for completing a study was not long enough. But the FS, with no experience at all, is going to complete their studies in 5 months? What are these guys smoking?

The way I see it, the best chance we’ve got is to raise one hell of a lot of noise and wake up the public and Congress.

- GT
03/25 Discussion with DD, NorCal Tom, and others from previous discussions:

I fail to understand some of these comments. For starters, many of the IMTs are becoming all risk (if they are not already, some are working quickly toward this, some are dragging their feet, and some still have no ability to do this). It is a learning process and thought process that sometimes takes a lot of time. But to say the National MAC would not release what is needed for any kind of incident makes little since. (maybe I am misunderstand). If a terrorist incident is what needs to be taken care and the MAC decides that is the priority then the IMTs would be sent regardless of what else might be happening elsewhere. There are lots of teams to do stuff and what better way to learn how to do something even better.

My second point is related to who goes to an event such as a bio or chemical terrorist incident. IMTs would be sent right away. The IMTs go because they are needed to establish infrastructure for the incident, whoever is up and with proper discussion they are ordered and sent. The IMTs that went to 9-11 in New York were near full teams that did a lot of stuff. Yes it was distribution and logistical support, but think about it, it was on scale of unparallel size. When was the last time you ran something that had tens of thousands of supplies being sent to an incident by the semi-truck load and being replaced 10 fold the next day!! Yes, the first, second and third responders would have special training (haven't you had it yet, it is good training and teaches very good information). Since when are IMTs located in the middle of something, that is poor management of the infrastructure of incident.

IMTs are headed in the direction of all risk, like it or not. Those teams must learn to have a mix of personnel and skills that can allow the team to adjust and move between incidents. With today's changes of the world we must have an ability to adapt and mitigate the incident.

Zimm
03/25 SB315, Double D, NorCalTommy,

A short while ago I had a discussion with a friend that works for FEMA. This person is very familiar with type 1 and 2 teams. She was a little peeved that "higher ups" in FEMA were talking like they just developed NIIMS. Of course they are whole heartedly embracing the concept and want to lead the way.....after being swallowed up by Homeland Security their position in the grand scheme of things has been somewhat diminished. Many of the political appointee's in FEMA (and there are many) see NIIMS as a way to regain "lost ground."

It does not matter that the FS, BLM, the States and other wildland agencies have been operating ICS organizations for the past 15 + years, FEMA has "seen the light" and is eager and willing to lead the way to "Truth - Justice and the FEMA way."

Oh! I am sorry for that last bit, I just got carried away by the emotion of it all.

WP
03/24 DD, NorCal Tom, and others from previous discussions

The White House just released a Presidential Directive dealing with some of this. Not much new that we haven't heard in the past, but word is (second or third hand admittedly) from back east is that they're probably going to adopt NIIMS directly and that the Department of Homeland Security is planning to establish its own IMTs. No word on with whom they will be built. So it may be they don't want to pull the IMTs off of fire. Anyone with more direct knowledge of that discussion reading? Here's a link to the directive. Look at item 15, it will look pretty familiar.
www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/print/20030228-9.html

SB315
03/24 NorCal Tom,
Re IMT's on terrorist events: I know this is a little late, but we're all
preoccupied, it seems...

First of all, we always have the right to remind people that
our primary mission is wildland firefighting and as far as the national MAC
group goes, I do not think that they would release all teams to terrorism
events. We could and would justify a certain number that would be kept
for firefighting.

Second - IMT's that assist with terrorism events, like bio or chemical,
would be like the teams that helped at 9-11. Mostly not full teams and
they would help with distribution and logistical management. In the cases
of going into an incident where proper level 4 ppe would be needed, It most
likely, -- at this time - would not be the IMT's that don the suits. I
asked higher ups about this and they said the scenario would be more like
the responders would be highly technical - like swat teams, trained with
the right gear for the right situation. The IMT's would be located close
to the incident but not at the "unsafe" ground zero site. It makes sense
for now doesn't it? Why would we send IMT's to the more critical sites? -
however their skills with ICS, and making things happen to support an
incident's needs are what they are good at.

DD
03/23 Just letting you know that we are very appreciative of the power point training courses offered on your site.

We here on the Goshute Reservation have started a few things out of necessity like our VFD a couple of years ago and now a proposed joint venture with the UT Fire Co. for contracting engine services. The reservation sits in two states UT and NV at about equal portions of at least 70,000 acres a piece. It can be a bureaucratic headache at times between BIA and 3 districts of BLM. Our governing body initially has given us little support but we have shown success with what little we have. We have successfully acquired last years RFA grant and submitted another. We have 1 heavy engine and 1 type 6.

A great many of us experienced folk 35 yrs old + have fought fire and we would like the younger people to obtain the experience. A lot of us experienced guys are preparing for leadership roles. The Ut fire Co. would train all personnel according to national standards, provide us with at least 5 Type 6 engines and a Type 4. The active firefighters now are dispatched through NV, Elko District. We have had challenges in the past with being passed over for assignments. We hope that the new contracting venture will help us with that. Any recommendations regarding the contracting?

Milton
Goshute/Ibapah VFD, crew member for the proposed Goshute Nation Fire Services.
03/23 To all,

In regards to the R-5 Aviation Program (Aviation TEAM) that is posted on the jobs page. For those of you interested in the program, it is well worth it. I am a member of the current TEAM Program and it has been the best training I have had in the 11 years I have been in fire.

I was able to get written off as a fully qualified Helicopter Manager and I am currently working on Helibase Manager II. If it wasn't for the program, I feel there would have been no way that myself and one of my good friends from my Forest would have been written off or have gotten the quality training that we got.

The best thing about the TEAM is all the great people in the program that I have met and will keep in contact with for the rest of my career. I know if I have any type of question or need any help at all, I can call any one of them at any time.

I would highly recommend the TEAM Program to any one who wants to advance their career and get the best aviation training you will ever get. To Wes and Dennis I want to say thank you for the great opportunity you have given me.

An-R5er
03/22 I work for a municipal department with a fuels management crew. I want to
know if any one knows where we can pick up any used crew carriers. I know a
lot of hot shot crews are getting new buggies, so there must be some old
ones sitting around. Of course our budget is small. We would even
entertain the boxes themselves. We would even entertain 1 ton crew cab
trucks. If any one has direct links email me at avalanche@aci.net.

Thanks, Ian
03/22 YES, I AM YELLING (CAP LETTERS) WHO IS THE FINANCIAL WIZARD WHO THOUGHT UP THE NEW NATIONAL AD PAY PLAN?

Lots of shaking up is going on on this subject, we are going to loose a lot of experience with ADs who will not work for the thoughtless rates that will be imposed soon. R-5 has a higher cost of living than a lot of the other parts of the nation as reflected in locality pay, I can understanding averaging rated, but averaging down makes no sense.

Positions that are UTF'ed almost from the get-go like COTR (CORT?) EDSD, EDSP, HEMG etc. may go un filled because ADs who are more than qualified will not work for the reduced rates. If any one is interested in more information on what the heck is going on should look at: www.adfirefighter.org (i hope that the correct address) and maybe drop RAY Q. a line with your concerns.

We are shaping up to have a BIG fire season as the drought index shows and we are going to need all the help we can get.

RA

If you don't know what the red card mnemonics stand for, see the mnemonics page, link at the top of theysaid. Ab.
03/21 Alan, and so do a few of your friends in the New Zealand part of "Down Under" (view this site with an eye to fire operations and issues)!

Whilst we have a Government that has chosen to "sit on the fence", I feel confident that many of your rural fire Kiwi friends in NZ support the USA and the coalition's War on Iraq. We would at least agree and certainly hope for an early and successful outcome for all (US, Brit, Aussie, the innocent Iraqis, et al).

A Kiwi

Ab note: We all support our troops and appreciate the international thoughts. That said, let us remind readers that we think that "TheySaid" isn't the forum to debate the war and all its implications outside of wildfire. Again, in these difficult and uncertain times, just a reminder of our focus here on wildlandfire.com.
03/21 John,

A good source of a ton of photos is the NIFC sponsored site: www.wheremedia.com/nifc/index.html . Surfing through the fire websites that the IMTs are putting out now usually yields a few good ones. Many of the Fed and State govt. wildfire web sites will have interface (firewise) information and sometimes have decent photos. Firewise had some good photos online but they were pretty low res so did not work well for ppt. Sometimes newspapers (web based) have good photo albums online, but with those you need to be sure to ask permission (typically they only put low res photos on the web) As a rule of thumb if a photo is on a government website and it does not state otherwise they are public domain and are ok to use. While I have never asked permission to use photos from commercial sources (news media), I have never been turned down when asked to use images from other sites for training purposes. You should always ask first. Lastly, for non-action or good vs bad photo examples, keep your camera with you and use it! I have even had our detection aircraft take an overhead shot now and then to get a different perspective on a wider scale situation.

Pulaski
03/21 Ab,
Can you point me to a good site for interface fire photos?
John

Hey Hickman or Pulaski, where you do get interface photos for your powerpoints? Ab.
03/21 We updated the jobs page, Series 462 and 455. Rock Hill Fire needs engine captains. I posted their logo on the Logo 8 page and a pic of one of their engines on the Engines 6 photo page. Ab.
03/21 Have any of you gone to digital radios yet, if so what kind of radios and what are the pro's and cons of them? My fire center recently went to digital/analog system that is not compatible with standard style radios most of us have now? Is it mandatory that everyone go digital and if so, is there a standard type/brand of radio we go to.

Thanks
MG
03/21 Been down in the Everglades NP for the week w/o Email.
See the attached history on fire shelters.

Dick Mangan

Fire Shelter Developmental History

Thanks, I sent an e-mail to the kid doing research. Ab.
03/21 I know from time to time our friends from Down Under
view this site with an eye to fire operations and issues.

I would just like to say "Thank You" to our friends in
Australia for their support in the War on Iraq.

Alan
03/20 r3firetaz-

re 3/14 post: still hoping for some feedback on Mark Rey that can be shared with the rest of wildlandfire......are you out there?

Treehggr
03/20 J.,

i heard of a hiring "freeze", but it was in rec. and involved a "possible, probable" fee demo problem>

SNS
03/20 Early FF Uniforms,
Now, I was raised watching the Wonderful World of Walt Disney on Sunday Nights. I seem to recall several of those 1-hour episodes that covered wildland fire fighting in the forests. I am sure that I remember at least one episode that dealt with wildland fire fighting exclusively and several of those small and cute creatures episodes as they grew up that had a forest fire threaten them. If you are interested in uniforms, helmets and the use of Nomex why not contact Disney. Their research and film archives might provide some information.

Iraq,
On that subject, my family and I wish that all of the UK, USA and Oz troops come home safely. Strange that the very weapons that Iraq has claimed not to have had, were fired into Kuwait (any comments from those members of the UN Security Council who opposed the disarmament and hence this war???) were used. There are those of you who might not realise it but Oz has sent their best (frigates, F/A18 Hornets and ground forces) and all have participated in the first Gulf War. The Navy has helped ever since and won a number of best of force awards form the local commander. Being a bit biased toward Aust but with all due respect for all Special Forces (as they will be in the most exposed and dangerous situations (Aust SAS have few equals in the world)) I wish these special people a special “all of the best and a safe return home”.

May this war end quickly and with the min. loss of life (except for the Iraqi leadership. May their souls rot in hell for what they have done in the torture chambers, deprivations upon their own citizens and the use of chemicals on their own population).

Regards,
Aussie CFU
03/20 EMT_Micah

I conduct 2 or 3 130/190 classes each year, and have for the past seven years. I have never done a class that did not include a practice burn.

Some of those practice burns were little more than slash piles or grass fields, but in the past 2 years we've expanded to accepting prescribed burn assignments. This year, our RX burn will be 40 acres of mixed oak savannah and fir understory. As a backup we've got a five acre RX burn in lodgepole/fir.

I'm not aware of any guidelines for conducting practice burns or incorporating prescribed burns in the training. I believe it is invaluable, and I would not conduct a class without incorporating some live fire training.

One local FMO has a policy of not signing off PTB's for FFT2 until they have some fire experience. If they cannot conduct a prescribed burn, the trainee gets their PTB back until they can be assigned to one.

One benefit to prescribed burns (as opposed to practice burns or simulations) is that it also serves as an opportunity to assign trainee FFT1s and crew bosses for some pre-season experience.

Islander
03/20 EMT Micah:

I took S-130/S-190 with the Indiana DNR. On the last
day the instructors had us cut a line around a small
wooded area (on private property) that was in need of
burning. we took turns lighting, then mopping up.
The entire area burned was only about 1/4 acre, but it
was good practice, seeing as I had never seen more
than a campfire before.

JerseyBoy
03/20 J,

If there's a fed hiring freeze, we didn't hear
about it in Northern Calif., as we just hired perms
both in round 11 and round 12. Maybe it was just the
cut-off date for one of the rounds you heard about.
But with the war just starting, who knows what happens
next?? Best wishes to our troops on the line in IRAQ.

-MJ
03/20 EMT micah

Yes I have experienced the practice burns during the S-130 - S-190. I worked on the Rogue River National Forest, Ashland Ranger District in 1988-89. The Agency Fire School was held at Southern Oregon University (then Southern Oregon State College) for three days with the practical experience held on the Prospect RD, Huckleberry Mtn. The fourth day we arrived at "Fire Camp" and were assigned into crews and squads and then each crew "worked" a small fire by digging a containment perimeter line, mopped it up, learned how to dry-mop, what a bone-yard is and when and how to use one, how to properly cold-trail, all the good stuff. We did not get to do any lighting of these small units (small portions of old sale units) though. Fire School wrapped up with practicals on the finer points of crew transportation, generator appreciation, how to enjoy dirt 40 different ways, and a very fine dining experience out of a brown plastic hermetically sealed bag. The fifth day it was back to the University for the written exam.

Actually we did alot of burn work on our districts in old sale units before we got to the school which I feel was good as it acclimated the newbies to smoke, how to actually hold a line, how to be a government mule and like it, and it got ya over all the scuffs on your nice new Whites.


R6 Engineslug
03/19 The war has started. May God Bless our troops, their families, the innocent in Iraq, and the United States.

An-R5er
03/19 The President is about to announce the beginning of the "disarmament of Iraq". We will see what that means. Prayers for the best outcome with the least loss of our troops and of innocent civilians.

Tahoe Terrie
03/19 Wonder if anyone on up there in the Agency has thought of this one:

We go to RED alert for terrorism.
We don't have the $ but may be calling teams to be in place.
There are many IM Team members who are also on the Competitive Sourcing Teams, either PWS or later, MEO. These could get called for terrorism response. Competitive Sourcing HAS to take precedence for the teams' continued existence, terrorism alert or no. Screwed system. We can't do our jobs and save our jobs simultaneously.

How can we be available to fight terrorism when we are putting all else aside for A-76?
And forget about the environment.

A friend with FEMA once told me that this nation would be absolutely speechless and quaking in their boots if they knew to what degree all of this stuff is made up without thinking things through and without asking the "what if questions" of those who might know.

NorCal Tom (That better Ab?)

OK Ab.
03/19 Don't know if this is the first related wildland fire death for 2003. One in California may have been if it was related to Wildland fire training.

Hickman

Ab Note: Hickman also sent in the Dept of Homeland Security, Operation Liberty Shield Announcement. If anyone wants it, we'll send word on.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is a message from the Federal Emergency Management Agency/U.S. Fire Administration.
The U.S. Fire Administration has received notice of the following firefighter fatalities:

Name: Mike Stanley
Rank: Firefighter
Age: 52
Gender: Male
Status: Volunteer
Years of Service: 9
Date of Incident: 03/15/2003
Time of Incident: 1600hrs
Date of Death: 03/15/2003
Fire Department Name: Salisbury Fire Department
Fire Department Address: 128 W Second, Salisbury, MO 65281
Fire Department Phone: 660-388-6197
Fire Department Chief: Leonard Cruse
Cause of Death: Firefighter Stanley died after becoming ill at the scene of a grass fire.
Funeral Arrangements: Summerville Funeral Home in Salisbury, MO, 506 North Blevins Drive. The viewing will be held from 4-8 p.m. on March 18. The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. on March 19.
Memorial Fund Contact and Address: Cleve Iman Memorial VFW Post 4926, C/o Jaleta Stanley, Route 4, Box 10 BB, Salisbury, MO 65281
03/19 Last week I heard a rumor about a hiring freeze on FS
permanent fire jobs. Is this true? If so, when will
hiring begin again?

J.
03/19 Nomex history for IMWTK:

In the late 60's the CDF had some nomex. When I joined them in 1970 I used my issued nomex as a Riverside VF till they received the right size for me. In 1970 or early 71 the state tested several types of nomex in tan that looked like the tan work uniform shirt. The other color was a reddish/orange which I wore till it fell apart. It was a different type of nomex, very soft. The third was a fr cotton, olive green. I still have this one. The inmate crews tested several colors and decided on blue. That did not last long as the local agencies had blue work uniforms and some were nomex uniforms. Orange was decided on as it was highly visible except for a few color impaired people.

Linker
03/19 "confused tester" -

the fs regulations state that ankle high shoes/boots
are required, but i too have seen sneakers. here is
the official guide:

www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/wct/wct_index.html
under the heading "guide", click on "test
administrator's guide", the issue in question is
addressed on page 12.

JerseyBoy

www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/wct/2002/wct_test_admin_guide1.pdf. Ab.
03/19 Hey Ab! Please keep up the great job on the web site!!

Do you know of any particular restrictions on footwear for the pack test? Have been taking it for several years, and all personnel in our region have always worn sneakers. This year, we're being told of a requirement that footwear for the pack test must extend above the ankle, and local agency is refusing to honor test times for personnel who wore the old, lower sneakers that have been worn for years.??

just sign me "confused tester", please!
(there are always repercussions for questioning!!)
03/19 IMWTK:
Couldn't help myself. A few comments on the questions.

Drip Torches- They pre-date me. I started in 1968 and they were in use.
Made by Western Fire Equipment Co. from the S.F. bay area (Millbrae?).
Their origin was probably from the ranch and farm community. In CA the
firing tool of choice before the torch was the Barron (California) firetool.
It has a reduced McLeod head on an 18" long steel shaft so that you could
wrap a load of grass in the head and use it as a torch. The angle of the
hoe blade is set for slicing, sort of, under the grass matt. I have a pair
of Australian drip torches that have less volume than our standard torch and
the wand is about 24" long. Named the "Fire Bug" JW

"Principals of Forest Fire Management" was by Ray CLAR and Len Chatten.
Glad there was no pun intended. It is a good historical review of operations
in the 50's and 60's. JW

Orange Nomex- CDF may have used nomex shirts in 1970. My memory cells
aren't what they used to be! We didn't wear nomex in '68 or '69(?). I
worked fires with the El Cariso HS in '68 and don't recall whether or not
they had orange fire shirts. I worked on the Bighorn HS in '71 and we had
yellow FR treated cotton fire shirts. The crew may have had orange shirts
in '70. They had a very short life span.

Fire Shelters- I had one in '71 with the FS, wasn't mandatory to carry.
They became mandatory in CDF after the fatalities on the Spanish RAnch fire
in San Luis Obispo Unit. I think '73 was the start of CDF's full time use,
not madatory before that.

Helicopter drops- I don't know the exact date. There was (is) an old 16mm
training film about helicopters and firefighting. It showed a Bell 47G
being used to drop water from a hard tank, laying hose from a tray and maybe
heli-jumping. I recall that it was the late 50's or early 60's when it was
made. The firefighters wore jeans, cotton shirts and metal hardhats. JW

Type 1 crews- ICS 420-1 (2001), page 11-3, lists the crew requirements.
Highest training level, no use restrictions, fully mobilized, highest
experience level, permanently assigned supervision. The number on the crew
varies by agency as does the interpretation of how the requirements are met.
The crew labels are CDC, CYA, CYA, hotshot, regular, inmate, paid, and
flycrew. By the way, with CCC pulling out of La Cima and Butte Fire Centers
CDF is requesting to put paid crews into the Butte fire center. The area
around the camp is too urbanized for inmates. La Cima will once again be a
Conservation Camp staffed by inmate firefighters.

JW

Thanks, JW. Ab.
03/19 Here is the California Region fire season potential assessment:

www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/fwx/assessment.pdf

Fireball XL5
03/19 Does anyone know what the rules are for conducting burns with S130/S190 students for training purposes? I've heard of classes where they have had the students on small controlled burns for the final day of class. Are there any NWCG or agency guidelines on this? It sounds like it could be a good thing for students if done right. Has anyone out there done this before? If you have any info I can use, please ask Ab to pass it along.

EMT_Micah
03/19 In regards to contractor training:

Just my 2 sense here. Being ex state and current contract employee. I would have to agree with MJ in the area of the higher qual requirements to becoming an engine boss. However, I do know that there are some contractors that closely screen there upcoming engine/crewbosses. They make them go through rigorous training (not to the extent of agency, but good training) and make them get enough experience.

Then there are the contractors out there that do give them out by the dozen. I do remember one company that I BRIEFLY worked for that since I was an ex stater that was a " Back up driver/operator " of a type 5 initial attack engine, he wanted to Give me my engine boss. I had all of the training for it, but I still didn't have the driving or pumping time that I felt I needed. Being me, I turned the position down.

Similar situation happened last year. I was asked to sign off 5 engine boss task books for people I knew. I refused and went head to head saying that I didn't believe that certain people were ready for it. True, I may have cut my throat with the company, but I felt I had done my job. Just because someone can supposedly run a crew, doesn't mean they can run an engine. We all know that.

Personally I think they should raise the bar for crew bosses and engine bosses. I think the standards are too low. I am glad that the FS has come out with more classes, but I feel the task books need a good look over not only in what is needed, but in the time frame that it was completed. Contract companies cant legitimately tell the fire community that after 5 fires and two seasons of experience that someone is ready to manage a 20 person crew. This isn't the case for all and by no means am I going against anyone. This is just what I have seen in some case.

Now in regard to firefighters not being aggressive enough and overhead being upset. I have seen this as well. I remember a time when we were working on a pretty steep slope and getting the classic rolling material below us. Doing my job I call up the STL and tell him what is going on and that I fear that spots are going to start below us. He says no that we'll be fine and go back to work, not even being in sight of my location. A few minutes go by and we did start getting spots. Keep in mind the escape route was "DOWNHILL", so, I called him up and told him we were evacuating. Boy, he was pissed, told us to go back to camp, the WHOLE NINE!!!.

Unfortunately, another contract crew decided they would impress the STL and DS and volunteered to march right up where we were and get the job done. As I was driving my crew back to camp, I could hear on the radio emergency requests for bucket drops and that their crew was trapped. Luckily they got the air support and got out.

Don't know why this happens, but as far as the training, safety, contract or not. It all boils down to OUR SAFETY. We are all responsible for not only ourselves, but everyone else. Its is our NUMBER 1 PRIORITY.

Sorry for the long email ab
Fireslug

Long or short is OK. As many words as it takes. Ab.
03/19 We formed the AD Firefighter Association on March 10, and so far we have over 50 members and 2 AD EFF on-call crews. Membership consists of both retired and current employees, as well as individuals in neither category who perform fireline and support functions as an AD (EFF) firefighter.

The basic issue is inequality between GS or Wage Grade pay -- who have always had hazard pay but now have true time-and-one-half --- and AD pay with no hazard and no overtime rate. This inequitable pay for the same job being performed extends from the AD 1 level to the AD 5.

Progress is being made on the issue of AD firefighter rates. Judging by the reaction of sources within the agencies, we have definitely gotten their attention. And this reaction has been pretty positive: to paraphrase, "we know we had a problem and we're going to address it." We welcome that approach, and are committed to maintaining a proactive, win-win approach with the agencies.

A letter will be going out on Thursday to the Directors of the fire agencies requesting an immediate revision to these proposed rates (rumor has it that they may no longer be proposed: USDI may have already signed the proposal). Whether or not the letter from the AD Firefighter Association results in a revision to the AD pay rates for the 2003 season remains to be seen.

But the agencies are well aware that the AD workforce has become an integral part of their ability to respond to both wildfire and all-risk incidents.

We encourage you to view the letter and associated supporting data (see the Documents page) at our web site at www.adfirefighter.org (Link on our Classifieds page as well. Ab.)

Regardless of your status, we of course encourage you to sign up as a member!!! We're all in this fire game together, and we need your support.

Annual dues are on a sliding scale ($35 for AD-5s, $15 for AD 1-4s, $25 for current employees at the GS 11+ level, and $15 for GS 1-10s; $175 for an AD line crew (savings of $125 over the individual AD 1-4 $15 rate). As far as use of dues go, initial start up costs include Web Page and Hosting, office supplies, copying, mailings, advertising, etc.

Longer term expenses might include: lobbying (travel to Director/SFMO and fire business management meetings); obtaining group liability insurance (critical in the post-30 Mile environment); obtaining group life insurance for non-retiree AD employees (or piggybacking on AAP's Aerial Firefighter PSOB initiative); Group Health Insurance for Non-Retiree AD Employees; training and education. The possibilities are endless.

IMPORTANT: None of our dues income will be sent to pay any of us for our time (though potentially, with 1000-2000 AD's out there x $35 or $15 we could hire a part-time person to run this whole show!! I am NOT a candidate for this!!)

We AD's have always been a dedicated, professional work force. We intend to supplement that by becoming a strong, professional political force.

If you wish, contact me for additional information or just to talk about the issues.

Hugh Carson, Founding Member ADFA
1-888-870-9020
03/18 Fire Monkey

The pack test is the current requirement for contract engines/crews. The
BLM is doing the baseline physical, FS units that are co-located are also
implementing the baseline physical in some areas, and there are a few
pilot forests around, Winema/Fremont being one of them. I don't know what
the other DOI agencies are doing, NPS, USFW.

trainer
03/18 To BTC,

In response to your 3-15 posting. I have been on fires where upper management was dissatisfied with several crews' apparent lack of aggressive behavior. At that time and place 5 hotshot superintendents were in unison in their disagreement with a member of the overhead structure's assessment of tactics and strategy on that incident. The hotshot superintendents believed that safety was the main issue. They were being asked to compromise, bend or even break some of the 10 and 18. The issue was addressed to my knowledge through proper channels and as far as I know, not much was done to prevent it from happening again. If refusing to do something unsafe is seen as a perceived lack of aggressiveness then sign me up. This seems to be an ongoing problem from my point of view.

More and more often those on the ground are being asked or even proposing themselves to do things that are just plain unsafe. Perhaps it is because that they have done it before and gotten away with it, or just ignorance, I can't say. I don't mean to be overly critical, but that is my experience. It also appears to me that the dilution of the overhead management teams is ongoing. To be sure there are some good teams out there, otherwise no one would know that there are any bad teams. The situation doesn't have anything to do with whether a team is type 1, 2, or 3 either. This is just my opinion.

Firepup91
03/18 Wednesday is hump day! Don't forget to wear your uniform, hang your old skinny uniform, or perch a Smokey Bear on your desk tomorrow if you want to make a statement about outsourcing. (See HERE if you haven't heard the plan.) You folks who wear your uniforms all the time like Hugh does... Well, I didn't tell you the rest of the plan. You have to come NEKKED!

Mellie

03/18 AFFINR6,

I have no problem with contractors. Some of the companies are very professional and have state of the art equipment, I agree. But, what I DO have a problem with is unqualified overhead on the fireline, contract OR agency. A lot of fatalities and equipment damage in the last 10 years has been due to unqualified people making bad calls, and putting other people in harms way. Look at 30-mile as an example, thats why the feds are reviewing quals so closely now.

There are good organizations for contractors such as the National Wildfire Suppression Association, that insure everybody in the organization is NWCG qualified. While reviewing applications recently for round 11 permanent Fed hiring, I saw over 10 applications from people that claimed to be ENGB qualified, but have never had more than 1 or 2 classes, and 2 of them had never even heard of task books. These are the people I'm talking about, the ones that whine that they never get the opportunity to get formal trainin! g, but are making $ 350.00 an hour for their Type 3 engine, and won't spend any money trying to find training classes for their people.

There are NWCG fire classes being offered at Departments, Colleges, and through private companies all over the US, so there's no excuse not to get trained properly, as it might help you make a decision that saves lives.

I was responding to the post from someone that said while inspecting contractors, he found a guy who only went to Advanced FF class. S-131 then signed off his own task book for Engine Boss with no fire experience. Would you want to work on the line with this guy? I wouldn't. But as for anybody that knows what their doing, and has been trained properly, Ill work with them anytime, agency OR contractor, as i agree, we all walk the same piece of fireline. And, I realize that some places the agency folks aren't that hot either, as once on a fire in New Mexico, I watched an engine captain teaching his crew that "Inflammable" was the! opposite of "Flammable" and that it was OK to smoke around bottles labeled that way!!

- MJ
03/18 The fire jobs page, Series 462 and 455 are updated.

Tahoe Terrie, I just posted some photos (Misc2 page) of the Lake Arrowhead and Yucaipa Ridge beetle kill that came in from SoCal Capt about a month ago. Ab.
03/18 Oregon Washington and California fire prediction

OR Coyote
03/18 I would just like to add my two cents to the shelters. I deployed my 2 years ago on the Reservation up here in washington.. Virgina Lake Fire.. The shelter saved 2 lives on thatone.. and ruffy 8 on the 30 mile...

MJ
NC Brush6 is right in a way. I too and a ex fed employee and I walk the same fire lines as most fed employees. We do have training just like you and some of us contractors are probably right up there on the totem pole.. I have a funny feeling you don't like contractors very much but GET OVER IT.. I am out there just like every one else doin the same job pounding dirt running water .. No for training I have 10 years of gov fire fighting .. That gets old after awhile and I wanted to adventure out and see the world on the other side of the fence..

You say we can't afford to get training cause we are contractors well $25.00 a class ain't to bad to me..

Just remember when you see a contractor treat them with a little respect cause who know he might save your life our you might save his .. We can't have a war on the fire line over TRAINING accept them cause they are there and they will respect you in the same era..

Badges don't mean nothing..
AAFFINR6
03/18 Tahoe Terrie, here's a bit of info on fire predictions from the web:

From NIFC: Seasonal Wildfire Outlook March through August, 2003
From Colorado: State fire danger already high

Firescribe
03/18 Any update on dealing with the beetle kill around Lake Arrowhead? Are the trees being logged? Does Rx burn fit in? We going to fight fire there this season? Predictions? If not there, where? If not CA, where?

Tahoe Terrie
03/18 ncbrush6

I'm sorry but in the years I have spent pounding the ground, no contractor has made me want to run or put me to shame. You may want to rethink what you said. Why? Because I have seen alot of the contract crew and yes some of them are not bad, however the majority of them suck. I'm not saying all are bad and yes you do have to have pride in where you work, but get real, we have deeper pockets and we can train on what we want. Bottom line is money we can afford to throw money away to train the folks. My question to you is in that lean years how much are you willing to eat the cost for training your folks to train them?

Flameboy
03/17 Dear Ambercrombie,
i wanted to know when the fire shelter was first put in use by the wildland fire service and how many lives have been saved by them to this date. and when did it become mandatory for all wildland firefighters to carry.

very respectfully
randy

Well, little pardner who is doing some research, I think I heard it saved every life when it was "deployed correctly". Seriously, you'd like to know how many times it's been deployed and no one died. Hmmmm, Dick, any stats on that one? # deployments with lives lost and lives saved... That may not be the kind of info anyone has really recorded. Most times fire shelters are deployed because they're absolutely necessary. Every once in a while they're deployed as a precaution and in retrospect might not have been necessary to actually save a life.

We have a work in progress that has some info on history of fire shelters. Look here and scroll down the page. IMWTK Ab.
03/17 Hey how is it going,

Here is a small site that I have made for a few friends. I was a fire fighter in Alberta and Ontario, Canada. http://highway61.flemingc.on.ca/~rgood/fire.htm
Here are a few pictures.

Ryan S. A. Good

Thanks I put them on the Helicopter 10 photo page. I also posted a bunch of logos on Logos 8 page. If you see your logo there, let me know it's yours so I can give credit. My computer had a melt down on some of the emails that went with the new photos. Ab.
03/17 To An R5-er,

Thanks for coming to Texas your efforts were and are greatly appreciated not only by NASA, but by the entire state of Texas. Just by thankful that you were able to travel back to your home and loved ones. On February 1st seven brave souls were only 17 minutes away from returning safely to their loved ones when tragedy struck. Remember that and maybe Demob won't seem so bad this summer. Again thanks for coming and helping out and glad you made it home safely.

"Boo"
03/17 mj

us contractors do go to the same training as you do .. some such as me are ex fed and state .we have walked the same fire line as you do and will keep walking the same line. thats nice that you as a fed can have the cash to put all that gear on your rig . look at some of the pvt engine they will put you to shame. and yes some will make you wanna run. but that goes for the fed engines also.. look we are all firefighter to the core....go up and talk to a pvt engb and find out what he is all about .. might be like looking in a mirror. lets be safe and get it done safe

ncbrush6
03/17 Hi,
Attached is a photo from the Buffalo Lake Fire in 2000 on the Colville Indian Reservation. If you like it you can post it on the photos page on the your web site. Thank you.
Chris

Nice. I put it on Handcrews 8. Abercrombie.
03/17 NorCal Tom,

Yes, I twisted the quote from Guy. However, my posts are not malicious.
One could easily say that they are provocative. My words are intended to
provoke thought. At times they may also provoke strong emotions, such as
anger in this case. But, ultimately I hope to provoke action.

I stand by the comparison I made to competitive sourcing. I don't see it as
being much different from earlier major policy changes in clean water or
air; in limitations on logging, grazing or mining; in roadless initiatives
or endangered species protection.

The difference between then and now is at that time, the rangers and their
staff were criticized, threatened and attacked for implementing policy
change that mostly affected the private sector. Whether the forest
employees personally agreed with the changes or not, it was their duty to
carry out the duly-enacted laws, administrative policy and court decrees.
The problem this time is that it isn't the loggers, miners and ranchers who
will lose their jobs.

I have read several posts by agency folks criticizing the "brass" for not
providing the leadership to fight competitive sourcing. I would say that
senior FS supervisors are bound by the same duty as a district ranger in
Nevada to implement the new laws and policies. The revised Circular no.
A-76 came about after Congress passed the Federal Activities Inventory
Reform (FAIR) Act of 1998. Those at national and regional HQ don't have to
like this any more than you do, but they still have to implement it.

As for whether you or anyone else can trust me to watch their back....I'm
not sure exactly how your operation works, but in my view there is not a
position on a fire that lacks responsibility.

My quals and day job make it unlikely that I will be on a type 1 or 2
incident anytime soon. But in initial attack and transition (where
volunteers like me already have more than a "toehold") I can be relied upon
to tie-in with whomever else in on-scene. I can be counted upon to express
without mixed-signals my assessment of the situation. At such times when an
overhead team is not in place and when the 10 & 18 are hardest to live up
to, I can be trusted to do my best to provide the leadership to keep my crew
and those along side of us from harm.

I never signed on to be a hero. I'm a firefighter.

vfd cap'n
03/16 Read an interesting article on the Opinion page of the Sunday Medford Mail Tribune. Tried to figure out a way to access it for "They Said" but it did not show up on their website. The author is Rocky Barker, Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. (If anyone knows how to get this kind of material in a form Ab could use, it makes for an interesting concept in Fire/Fuels. Much more there than I could retype here.)

The bottom line in Mr. Barkers article was to form a "National Fire Corps", and turn over the air tanker business to the military flying planes specifically designed planes. Not sure of the merits of his article: but, brings some interesting thoughts to mind.

Firehorse
03/16 To those following and lobbying for the Ukiah Air Attack base staying open.

Here's an update from Julie Rogers, Coordinator of the Coalition to Save Ukiah Air Attack: www.airtanker.com/wwwboard/messages/3730.html

Here's the website telling how you can help: www.saveairattack.com

AL
03/16 Ab,

Im not to good with words, so I hope you bear with me. This is about being prepared.

You see my dad was a F.F. when I was small, some 40 years ago, and I can still remember him coming home from a fire, standing a little taller, and talking about the fine men and women he'd worked with. And how they had saved another little piece of Mother Earth. Dad died before seeing 2 of his grandson's become firefighters, 1- 12 years the other, 3. I think he'd have been proud of them. Thats why I became a contractor, and those 2 boy's, they work for me. And Ied like to think they have had the best training possible, and the equipment up to date. Because when all is said and done, if God forbid one of them should fall, it won't be anyone but me looking into the eye's of their mother, my sister. And one day my dad. The responsibility, belongs to all of us, to ensure every mothers, sons and daughters come home safely. No short cut is ever worth a life.

Blazejumper

Words to live by. Abercrombie.
03/15 BBTBDC:

In your 3/03 message you said you'd "listened to senior fire managers state that.... upper management is dissatisfied with a perceived lack of aggressiveness displayed on some fires last year.." Can you - or anyone - elaborate on this a little more? What have you heard? I've had a feeling this was the case on a lot of fires recently, and I'm curious how upper management views this. (Not taking sides, just looking for information).

BCT
03/15 VFD CAP"N,

Thank you for your post. It was a good thing that you brought that to our attention. Guy's life was threatened both at work and at his home for standing up to what he believed in……and he still is not afraid to stand up and say what he believes in. Your point is well taken. Thank you for the research you did to further his cause, and ours too.

Fire Idaho
03/15 Does anyone happen to know about "Aerotech" and if they are still working on rebuilding that fabulous A-10 Warthog into an Airtanker?

The Areotach website was last updated what looks like 2001. Did they end up scrapping the plan ?

MG
03/15 VFD guy,

Why do I feel that your posts are always a little malicious? I hope I never have to work with you in person. I would not trust you to watch my back. I would not have you in any position of responsibility in my operation.

Guy Pence is one of the great guys with integrity in the FS organization. He does his job with complete integrity and sometimes with risk to his life. In case you haven't realized it, something like 90 percent or more of people live in cities. People elect representatives that make the laws. The wishes of the majority more likely govern this country than the wishes of a small violent minority whose activities you seem to have fun trotting out on this board. Those who work for the FS follow those laws. Some have a harder time doing that than others, based on where they live. Heaven help us if people like you and your friends get a toehold in the firefighting world. Is there a word that is the opposite of hero?

Sorry Ab, is this VFD guy really a firefighter or just some high IQ weirdo? He has said before he liked having fun by stirring the pot. This is a bit more malicious than the argument he started over tender vs tanker. Maybe you should check out his bona fides. The internet harbors strange people who are not what they seem.

NorCal Tom

PS, I'll be happy to wear my uniform on Wednesday. It's the least I can do. Ab please add. I also sent Guy's letter along with my own to my congressmen and women.

I checked. He is a volunteer firefighter. Abercrombie.

03/15 Trainer, Wow you took my question wrong.. I know here in R6 that there are some people like that.. I do know you are right but them kinda people make the rest of us look bad.. I would like you talk to you on a one on one basis.. I think what I have to say you will like to hear..

But my question is still there. DO contractors have to take a Baseline Physical?

MJ, I also understand what you are saying. I used to work for the Government . I know where you are coming from. Don't get me wrong.. I know alot of Engs whose Engine bosses are brand New fresh off the farm. I am not for that.. I am the kinda person who thinks Fire Fighters who work on engs need to pay the time to become an Engine Boss..

And I am understanding you are from R5.. I fought fire in R5 last year and was never bad mouthed about my red card. I have documentation to back up everything on my red card..

Curious R6 Fire Monkey
03/15 Curious R-6 Fire monkey,

Contractors better trained and equipped then agency folks?? Really ? On my Model 62C 4x4, I carry over $50,000 of equipment, such as SCBA's, full turnouts, Trauma kits, Oxygen bottles, Chain saws, Portable pumps, Lightweight Hotline and reeltek hose, Infrared fire finders, 4 King radios, etc, and thats not considering the $182,000 cost for the engine itself. We supervise 5-person crews everyday, not just once in a while on fires.

As for training, a USFS Engine Captain in R-5 has to be trained to the 5109.17 standards, not just the 310-1 (look them up), for example, to become certified as an Engine boss, First, you must be FFT 1 Squad Boss, which now requires S-100 ICS; S-130 Firefighter Training; S-190 Fire Behavior; S-131 Advanced FF; 1st 40 Supervision or S-281; S-212 Power saws; S-216 Driving for the Fire Service; and S-211 Portable pumps, and then do trainee assignments for the task book. Once you have that out of the way, and are ready, you have to take S-215 Urban In! terface; I-200 ICS; S-230 Single Resource Boss; S-231 Engine Boss or Engine Academy; S-234 Ignition Ops; S-260 Fire Business Mgmt; S-270 Basic Air Ops; S-290 Fire Behavior; Defensive Driving; Civil Rights Training; Sexual Harassment Training; SCBA Training; 1st responder Medical; 1st Responder Hazmat Operational; etc., etc., and then receive a task book and do 2-4 closely supervised trainee assignments (which must be good Hotline assignments), and then the task book must be reviewed and certified by a FQRC committee before you get ENGB on your redcard.

You tell me that contractors go through this much training to get ENGB ?? I don't think so. The only contractors that have these kinds of quals are retired agency folks. I'm not trying to put anybody down here, just illustrating a point. It would be great if everybody on the fireline had the opportunity to be trained and equipped to these levels, but don't try to say they already are.

-MJ
03/15 To all,

I think I saw "one of many" at that mandatory meeting this last week. I was thinking they were dozing, but apparently just deep in thought. My mind wandered too, but I was thinking of Roddy McDowell and how in the Clockwork Orange movie the thugs in the government gave him the option to change his ways. His body was tightly strapped, eyes held wide open with these hook things, no blinking allowed, video with playing with desensitizing subjects in the foreground, audio narrative of the same played in the background. He couldn't escape. His government did brainwash him and remove the offending patterns from his behavior, but he was left a shell. He maintained the awareness to dislike his changed self, but resistance was futile. He was set free at the end. Or was he?

Another of many
03/15 Since I'm getting fired up here, and thinking of all
the stupid things I have seen on fires; I've got an
idea...

We should all go back to the day of falling with an
axe, instead of a chainsaw.

Just think, if we all had axes, how would strategy and
tactics be different? Would we cut a line 40' from a
stream if we had to uses axes instead of Stihls?
Would we really spin the rotors on that helicopter if
it took 4X as long to make the LZ?

R3er
03/15 mellie

I as well as my assistants WEAR THE UNIFORM EVERY DAY, as we do have pride in the forest service. when someone ask what we do, we dont say firefighter, engine captain, or engineer, first thing is I work for the Forest service.

another sign of things swinging the other way, we are losing a handcrew on the forest and not staffing a engine. so much for the build up.

hugh
03/15 I updated the fire jobs page as well as Series 462 and 455. North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District is hiring.

Posters, it seems that some few posts are not getting through, perhaps due to our junkmail filter. Could you please try to put "theysaid" in the subject line if you're one of the folks whose posts don't seem to make it to the board. We try to not miss any.

Please note that we have a new association listed on the Classifieds Page, ADFA, the AD Firefighter's Association.

Ab.
03/15 another JW, thought I'd add some fat to the fire. Just completed the pack test this AM, 31min.23.89 sec., We didn't have the vests this time so used a scba bottle packed with sand to bring it to 45lbs.
Don't think my time is too bad for 66, be 67 in late may.
So all of you youngsters, you've got no reason to complain, just get ready and do it.
Old man of the Dept.
03/15 Guy Pence, thank you.

My crew developed a mission statement that I would like to share with everyone. It is how we operate, It is who we are, It is MY mission statement.

"To provide the customer a highly skilled, motivated, cost-effective and efficient wildland fire management resource. We will utilize the most current resources and qualified individuals available to achieve this goal. We are proud to uphold the traditions and mission of the United States Forest Service"

I stand along side of you Guy, and all of the others out there, happy to be here, proud to serve.

sting
03/15 Presumably in support of wildland firefighters, the zig zag ihc sent in a photo

every firefighter out there

It came in on nomex colored background. Very nice. I put it on handcrews 8. Abercrombie.

03/14 Hi there AB,

I am very interested in becoming a Sawyer, for the BLM.
I am getting my "redcard" when the state offers the class in June..
I'm 23 and live in Maine. I'm going to college for a fire science degree. I have my E.M.T.-B license and operate my own tree removal service.. I have a strong desire to become a chainsaw operator/FF. Do you have any info that my help me in pursuing this.. I am planning on moving back to CO or any where else that my be hiring. Thanks for your time man,

Chasen
03/14 Hey All,

I have two things I want to share.
A story of remembrance/thanks and a plan for how we can celebrate what you do.

Part 1: A STORY OF REMEMBRANCE/ THANKS.
Last Saturday two of us drove out to the Stanza Fire site near Happy Camp CA to pay our respects to John Self, Steve Oustad and Heather DePaolo and also to remember others of our fire community who have gone on. Rain was predicted, but the day had that sunny glorious feel of spring marching forward -- blue sky, fresh and scoured, new and lush sights and smells, with warm sun on our backs, just a kiss and promise of that hot-baking sun of summer. The wide Klamath was surging clean, golden eagle overhead. Transitioning into streamside -- wary elk with gangly babies and white butts along Elk Creek amidst the alders. Ancient lichened fruit trees, bees and hummers weaving among canes of blossoming quince. Wow... Stellar day! Even hints that Paul might be hovering nearby.

Once off hwy 96 we headed towards the Marble Mt trailheads and the fire site. I found myself making a silent offering of thanks for our national forests, these wild and sacred spots, and to those who work hard and manage them.

We traveled on. Climbing away from the river, Elk Creek Road became very narrow and winding, rock cliffs standing straight above, tumbling overfull elk creek five-hundreds-of-feet below, as those who have fought fire there know. Narrow enough to make me appreciate again the danger you forest servants put yourselves in every time you drive large engines and crew carriers out from fire camp into the smoke to face the flames. Asphalt finally disappearing to be replaced by the gravel roadbase of the backcountry...

We spent the day mostly in silence, driving into the fire zone along the burnout, lunching at the Sulphur Springs campgound, parking and walking a-ways up the spur road. Thoughts of the three who died here foremost in my mind. Life and death, what a mystery.

Also thoughts and thanks for the hotshots who brought them out, hauling them on backboards up the 700 or 800 vertical feet in the heat. No Stokes litter, no easy handholds. "A real hell-hole" doesn't begin to describe the way the mountain side was then. But while equally as steep, it's all green and promising now with its soft new grass. And thanks, too, for the hotshots and others who contained the fire, pushing carefully but purposefully with some 16 hour shifts (while adhering to work/rest) to keep it from being another Big Bar Complex.

Why the hotshots, you say? It may not be well known, but the terrain was so steep and the "hole" so far down and the heat so great that the SAR group could barely get the survivors out. Bleeding themselves and exhausted beyond thought, SAR and their bosses talked of bringing in convict crews to recover the dead. Thank god for you hotshots. You immediately stepped forward, 10 people of you from each of the 4 crews! Thank you! We recover our own! We stick by each other!

Here's Part 2: A PLAN TO CELEBRATE our Agency(s) and STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH those who are being studied for outsourcing. It could soon be fire!

The other day a Forest Service friend came to talk with a high school about what he does working with the Forest Service, both in fire and otherwise. (This man would be considered one of the so called "low hanging fruit" according to David Childs. This man is a role model to me!) He had on his uniform and spoke as he usually does. His love of his job always shines through. He was the star, clearly admired by the youth, who want to do his job when they grow up. His uniform made a statement and identified him as the public servant he is. You all look good in your uniform - FS or BLM, or NPS or FWS -- You all look good in nomex, too. You all look good any old way. But a uniform confers something special...

So here's a plan. What about setting aside one day a week and everyone wear your uniforms or nomex. Wednesday seems good - hump day - heh, heh. Think of the statement of solidarity that would make.

OK so some of you don't have a uniform or don't have one that fits. Borrow one. Bring an old uniform you wore when you were skinny and knobby kneed; hang it in your office! Bring your dad's, your granddad's, your uncle's antique uniform if you still have it in a trunk. Display that. Borrow a uniform from a friend to wear. Folks, offer a spare or outgrown uniform to someone else. If you can't do the uniform thing 'cause you just don't have one and can't get one, bring a Smokey Bear and set it prominently on your desk. You retired guys, get out your uniforms. Loan them or display them. Supporters find a button or a pin or a shield or a ribbon to wear in solidarity with our folks. Make Wednesdays special. Let others know we are in this together.

For those who get asked "why the uniform?", you can reply or not. If you reply, you can say that you're wearing it with others in the Agency to celebrate what you do (whatever your agency -- FS or BLM, NPS, FWS). If you want to be a little more ballsy, you can add that you're wearing it in solidarity with those who are being studied for outsourcing.

Wearing your statement gives everyone a chance to have a voice even if you're not a letter writer. Almost everyone gets dressed on a Wednesday. Just suit up in green or yellow. You can vote with your body in a way that is powerful and in a way that can't be impugned. What are they gonna say, "Go take off that damned uniform and quit with your political statement."??? Heh, I think not!

Dont"cha think it might be interesting to see how far up the food chain the uniform wearing will spread. We need to make a commitment to do this every Wednesday and give the movement a chance to build. Grassroots? I say Hell YES! It will be quite a statement of omission if the upper brass are the only ones not wearing their uniforms (or hanging a skinnier uniform around their offices <smerk>). However, my guess is they'll love the opportunity to stand together with all of us.

Work on it this weekend. Get that uniform, nomex, Smokey bear, etc ready. Doesn't take much. Join us. I have my Wednesday OUTFIT and I plan to wear it to my local FS function. (Ab, maybe you can remind us on Tuesdays so we can remember on Wednesdays...)

Final thought: for those of you who haven't seen my office (...and maybe only 3 of you have...), it is a tribute to you fed firefighters, you Forest Service folks, past, present, and future. I THANK YOU for what you do... and for what you endure!

IN TRUST OF VISION,
Mellie

Hear Hear. I have added flags to some recent posts:
Guy's letter is here: www.wildlandfire.com/2003c_mar.htm#c_sourcing
Mellie's proposal is here: www.wildlandfire.com/2003c_mar.htm#uniform

You can cut and paste the urls and send them to friends. Abercrombie.

03/14 FireHorse,

For what its worth I have 30 years with the FS, 1st season 1969 El
Cariso HS. Now retired, was an FBAN now an RXPL for contractors. Also a
member of the VFW, So what is obvious to some is not to all.

Rudy
03/14 AB,

Just got back from TX the other day. Collecting parts from the Space Shuttle was interesting and alot of fun. We were part of the Corsicana Camp in the South Eastern part of TX. We where there for 14 days and were able to recover alot of parts.

NASA put together a couple of programs for people who wanted to hear what they had to say. Our crew went to a presentation with two Astronauts from previous Shuttle missions who were answering question that people had, then we went to a presentation about future plans of going to Mars. The NASA people that we talked too were very nice and were imprested to see all the different crews coming and helping out.

We had a NASA guy with our crew for about 4 days and what a joy it was. This guy would answer any question that we had about the space program and the Simpsons (he is a Simpsons fanatic). It was refreshing to see such a smart man so down to earth. This man has alot of influence on the space program going to Mars and we got alot of impressive information on the process and hard work that goes along with this important program.

All and all, it was allot of fun being a part of this historical process. For those of you going to TX in the near future, be prepared to run into a Demob nightmare. The Team has a web site with alot of different pictures of all the crews that are there www.pnw-team2.com

NASA John, it was an honor and a pleasure working with you.

An-R5er
03/14 Firehorse,

I think that you have spent the last 20yrs plus retirement time going "above and beyond" for the land is awesome, but how many folks have the same level of care anymore?

You do have to admit that we seem to be inflicted with many that think the word "work" means showing up to sit and bitch about the agency.

In the perfect world, everyone would care, and no one would know what the heck "competitive sourcing initiative" meant, or contract crews.

John - R5'er
03/14 Please check out the new revised AD Firefighter Association's web page at www.adfirefighter.org

Subject to comments we've received from folks (thanks, AB!!), we've corrected the impression many of you may have gotten that this Association is just for retired GS 11s and above "dinosaurs" who are trying to protect or increase their AD-5 wages.

That was part but never all our intent ... in the rush to get a movement going, the emphasis was admittedly on the AD-5 rates.

The web page, the Draft Letter to the Directors and in the Excel analysis spreadsheet did reflect that, since the AD-5 rates were the only thing we had to work with.

However, there's at least one of us dinosaurs who hasn't forgotten where he came from (AD-1 in Alaska, 1970 and AD-3/4, Colorado, 1971-78). And I think that I can speak for the rest of our membership (now standing at 37 in only 4 days) that they feel the same way.

The Web Page has been revised to reflect that ADFA is all-inclusive of the entire AD EFF community: AD 1 through 5. And the entire community will be represented (our Board will have AD 1-4 individual as well as AD EFF line crew representation)

Dues are $35 for those who go out as AD-5, $15 for AD 1-4s, and $175 for an AD EFF Crew (savings of $125 over the individual $15 rate). We've got a Federal IRS Tax ID #, a bank account here in Boise, and we are applying for non-profit status (dues will be tax-exempt in 2003).

The Draft Letter to Fire Directors and Excel spreadsheet analysis will be revised tonight and Saturday to include and reflect concern on all AD Rates (1-4 got a nominal increase). So please take a look at those documents tomorrow afternoon (3/15).

Take care all, and keep the faith, we can make a difference.

Regards,
Hugh Carson
Founding Member, AD Firefighters Organization
03/14 r3firetaz-

your quote about Mark Rey included the term "deliver the goods" -and that is the basic issue at stake here. What is the purpose for our National Forest system? To deliver timber, ore, and grazing forage to private interests, while ignoring responsible stewardship and "non-commodity" values such as fire? Many of those non commodity values are those that we take for granted, but would sorely miss once gone, e.g. clean air, water, natural fire regimes, healthy wildlife populations, etc. Does Mark Rey understand this? The (admittedly non-comprehensive) reading I have done does not incline me to that view.

Since you appear to have exposure that many of us don't, why not share the knowledge you have about Mark Rey, and his positions on fire outsourcing, the effects of charter forests on the fire organization, and his overall position about resource stewardship? The field force is definitely seeing an information vacuum on important issues affecting both our jobs and the resources we protect-which is not the way it should be.

Treehggr
03/14 United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service
Aviation Safety Alert
NO. 2003-05


SUBJECT: AVIATION RESOURCES SHORTFALL

AREA OF CONCERN: Fire and Aviation Operations

DISCUSSION: 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.

/s/ Ron Hanks
National Aviation Safety and Training Manager
03/14 Curious R-6 Fire Monkey,

Come again there, contractors have better equipment and higher
qualifications??? Exactly what planet were you fighting fire on last
summer?

As one of the inspection units for the R-6 contract, I can remember last
year one of my co inspectors looking at a contractors ENGB task book that
he had signed off for himself, after taking S-131 at the Community
College, no fire experience. You are right, he had a brand new engine.
There are also many quality contractors that do train properly, (ie gain
experience not just attend a class), and are well qualified.
Its always nice to be on the Division with the folks, (agency or contract)
that have the experience and the training to back up what is on the card.

Myself believing in equal opportunity here - there are a number of agency
folks that also rack up the quals on the card awful fast, basic
fireschool to CRWB in 3 years???

trainer
03/14 Just an observation here......

Being former Forest Service, and now in the
contracting game, I'd like to remind everyone of a few
points......

The FS has been outsourcing things for years.
Building construction, logging, road
maintenance/construction amongst other things.

Now I'm sure some of you are laughing. You may be
saying "Building Construction, the forest service
doesn't build buildings. What a moron."

Yes, I know that, but the reason the FS doesn't build
buildings is because someone else can do it cheaper
and more effectively, with less hassle.

Let's also not forget about the contractors that
provide necessary fire equipment that the gov't
doesn't own.....Dozers, Skidgions, WT's, helicpoters,
etc.

I'm getting a little tired of everyone assuming all
contractors have crews or Type 6 engines exclusively.

R3er
03/14 Ab...

Political spring winds seem to have a bit of stir this year! Some of the past few writeups have my tail feathers in a ruffle! My hat is off to Mark Rey and leadership staffs at the national level. I've been to some of the hearings where these folks get drilled. Mark's ability to understand the program, issues, and being able to deliver the goods goes without saying.... FS is lucky to have people like Mark Rey.

Famous quote -
Knowledge is not information, it's transformation - Osho

r3firetaz
03/14 Rudy,

I totally agree with your comment about contractors only being as good as the contract and its administration. (Most of the problems organizations have with contractors stems from poor contract administration practices.) And will go so far as to agree that they can love and enjoy the forests as much as anyone else. "Federal employees have nothing on private citizens for the out-of-doors." If that was meant to be a blanket statement for ALL fed employees then you are WRONG!

You are obviously not, nor ever have been, a fed employee or you would have fully understood Guy Pence's letter. My last assignment prior to retirement placed me on a district for 20 years. I knew every road and feature on that district. Don't recall any private citizen putting in even a tiny percentage of the uncompensated time I spent tending and caring for that out-of-doors piece of land. That was done out of a love for that chunk of land, not from any obligation I felt to the FS or the public. While feds may not have anything on private citizens for the out-of-doors in general, myself and many other feds considered our districts to be an extension of our backyards. I still continue to do volunteer work and very seldom see any civilians alongside me. Sure as hell don't see any contractors out there doing volunteer work on their own time. Say what you will, but; you will never convince me or any other FS employee that any contractor cares for that specific piece of land like we do!!

Firehorse
03/14 To anyone who can answer,

I have a question and its simple or hard however you take it... IS the DOI the only ones doin the Baseline Physical.. If so Contractors need it too.. Most contractors are getting singled out.. When most contract engines and crews have better equipment and slightly higher qualified personnel..

Sign Curious R6 fire monkey
03/14 Ab,

I found a response to Guy Pence's letter. It's a quote from 8 years ago in High Country News -- a quote from Guy Pence.

"A lot of this is because people don’t wish to change. And change is inevitable."
-- www.hcn.org/servlets/hcn.Article?article_id=1408

Of course, this is a quote taken way out the original context of the Nevada bombings. But, it still has a ring of truth about the reaction on Theysaid to competitive sourcing.

To me, Guy's current arguments are like the firefighters who fight tooth-and-nail to keep their volunteer department from going paid, just because being a volunteer is a "way of life" to them. The decision of paid or volunteer should be based on the level of fire service the community demands and can afford, not on the personal identity that a pager and red light provide the volunteer.

Does anyone else see the irony in expecting a grassroots effort to "save" the Forest Service that Guy describes? Here's another quote, this time from a Nevada assemblyman:

"They [the FS] need to look at the policies they are forcing down our throats. As long as they keep doing that, we are going to get our back up and we are going to fight them to the bitter end."-- www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/nevada/1999/nov/17/509368021.html

I'm sure that implementation of competitive sourcing will be a bitter pill to swallow for federal employees. But, I doubt you'll get much sympathy from private sector folks in the West who are still reeling from policies of the 80's and 90's that "sourced" so many of the logging and mining jobs to Canada and South America.

vfd cap'n

Wow, you took that first quote so far out of context I think it's from Pluto. Ab.
03/14 Well sad, Mr. Pence, well sad. I might suggest that your time and effort be better spent in urging your cronies to take some courses in contract administration though.
signed: the realist
03/14 We were part of this group that recovered and cataloged over 700 pieces of Shuttle debris in Cherokee County, Texas. This team was mostly VFD's and TFS Employees as well as Tx DPS and area law enforcement. We got pretty adept at recovering GPS coordinates documenting location, date, time and recovery team. We then had to check it in and assign it another number. Even though we all knew the magnitude of the events that we were part of, we all worked with a great group of folks and established several new friendships that make us better folks. Though I'm out of the search and recovery loop now, my heart is with everyone that is still there.

Stay safe everyone,
Keith

Put the photo on the Handcrews 7 page. Ab.
03/14 Guy, Norcal Tom, et al,

Contractors are only as good as the contract and its administration,
which congress will probably leave in FS hands. Contractors can and do
love and enjoy the forests as much as anyone else. Fed employees have
nothing on private citizens for the out-of-doors.

Later, Rudy
03/13 cdf wife,

Just a little clarification for ya bout the mates. there are 41 camps
according to the cdc website and yes there are up to four crews per camp.
As for being cheap it is far from that. Each camp has a budget of $2.35
million per camp, that makes for a total of $96.35 million, break that down
to the crew cost and thats $1,609.00 per day every day and this budget
doesnt include fire or other emergencies (also from the cdc site). To me
this is not cheap. That cost is for every day even days not working. I
also heard that we're losing some lookouts due to budget woes, how bout
closing a couple camps that are on the coast or in close proximity to each
another in lower dispatch areas? And besides the whole inmate thing has a
negative impact to the tax base. Remember those guys dont pay rent, own a
house, dont shop at the stores (cept the capn') and cdf wont touch em when
they get out. They are just slave labor but not cheap . They do have a
purpose and yes some are excellent crews but to replace semi-law abiding
tax payin folks for them is silly.

meko9
03/13 Airops, I looked over your AD EFF web site and while on the surface it
appears that some positions could be paid more I have questions about all
the whining about how you guys used to be GS-12's therefore you should get
GS-12 wages for the AD work you do.

If I am not mistaken you were a GS-12 because your regular job what ever it
was FMO, or some other staff type job was rated out as a GS-12. It wasn't
because you were on an overhead team as an AOBD or ATGS. You were getting
paid you regular GS rating regardless of what your red card had on it. The
GS-12 FOBS were getting paid well so does that mean that AD FOBS should get
$37.00 an hour too?? What about the GS-9 Type 2 IC who has the GS-12 FOBS
and AOBD working for them, or the GS-5 Type 2 crew boss who has a GS-11
ologist FFT2 on their crew that is making big $ over what the crewboss is
making. The FAIR only comes once a year in my county.

If you can get the AD rates to change, good on you for that. I just can't
follow the logic that your former GS rating has any bearing on what you
think you should be getting as an AD. What needs to happen is grading of
these positions based on complexity and a pay scale that reflects the value
of the job being performed. You probably know some retired GS-13 Personnel
Specialists that could help you figure the classifications. I suspect that
ATGS and AOBD might rate out at a GS-9 under that scenario, just a guess on
my part though.

Something else to think about, I bet some of these ex GS-12's are the same
ones who opposed the grade increases for the Engine Captains and IHC Supts
that worked for them before they retired. Now that the shoe is on the
other foot they want a raise. Hmmmm.

Backburnfs
03/13 One of Many. hahahahaha, Ain't that the truth!

treehggr, othrs, keep in mind that the regional and national leadership work more directly for the President whose policy is competitive outsourcing/ privatization. Might be hard for them to speak up especially since they know how busy the Pres is with potential war and especially following the costs of the Biscuit last summer. Grassroots is the way outsourcing opposition will have to go...

DM, interesting fire history page. Hadn't seen that before.

CDF wife, never fear. The state of cali needs their cons for their own firefighting. The public wouldn't allow us to go that far. Your numbers are spot on, but don't believe all the BS you hear. These are anxious times. Take a deep breath. All will be well, more or less, sooner or later. This is just what we call life.

NorCalTom
03/13 To One Of The Many, AMEN and AMEN.

DF
03/13 Hear Hear, Mr. Semi-Frozen ex-FF.

I truly believe if FS employees ALL signed Mr. Pence's letter and forwarded it on to local papers, representatives, and special congressional committees, we would have a chance to reverse this trend. I also believe we would get support from the public.
Sure, things may change back to the status quo given the outcome of the next election.

On the other hand....it may not, and the damage will be done.

I am also very disappointed in our "leadership", or lack thereof. Why isn't information on Charter Forests-which will drastically affect the way NFs are managed- being circulated? Why aren't Regional and National leaders standing up for their employees, the work we do, and the resources we protect? Why isn't the public being informed of these changes?

There, I will get off my soap box....but this really is a situation that shouts watch out!

Treehggr

I had a personal communication from Guy Pence stating that his suggestion about how his Competitive Sourcing letter is to be used leaves enough room for contributors to theysaid to accomplish their desires. Treehggr, FireIdaho, Semi-Frozen Ex FF, John, others, maybe you should start a movement to share Guy's letter and disseminate information to congressional reps and the public via letter-to-the-editor, etc if you haven't already. Ab.
03/13 Ab,

Here is a quick chronology of the history of fire behavior. I consider
H.T. Gisborne, the father of fire danger/behavior research, (and one of my
hero's). He gave his life to his work at Mann Gulch, as mentioned in
McLean's book. Go to:
www.fs.fed.us/rm/main/fire_res/fire_history.html.

DM

Thanks. Ab.
03/13 To all:

The flying "survey session" arrived in town today in their ongoing effort to instill awareness in those still challenged by or hiding from reality. I'm referring to the simple reality of treating others as you would have yourselves be treated, to supervise honestly and fairly instead of being a predator. The meeting held nothing new to those who have been around for over 6 months or so, which was the date of the last mandatory meeting on civil rights and sexual harassment.

As I surveyed the large room packed with my fellow Forest hostages, I pondered the failure, as evidenced by recent documentation, of our Region to force comprehension on the unwilling. As I scanned the crowd I observed a few attendees' body language whispering distain, boredom, or defiance. I then realized these few, these obstinate ones, will always be among us, they will continue to waste our time and divert our budgets to incredibly stupid purpose.

When wondering what extreme measures might be implemented to cure these malingering Neanderthals, I mused the policy of the Gestapo in occupied France during World War II. As the French Underground created confusion and losses behind the German lines, a common counter by the occupying force was to respond to the town or village nearest the incident, round up a bunch of local villagers and shoot them. Since the resistance fighters were seldom from the areas wherein they performed their nefarious deeds, or if they were, they would seldom make themselves available to the roundup, the German retaliation was ineffective and seldom reached the offending parties.

You're beginning to see my analogy aren't you? Then let me ask you a question. "What is the primary difference to a solution to the problems the Gestapo faced and those of our Regional Managers today?" Sound a little far fetched? Not to me, the remedies are certainly comparable.

The answer is. . .(little drum roll, sharp clicking of heels) the Gestapo was unaware of who was committing the crimes.

My point is, as I mention it again, there will always be those who choose not to conform. Just as the Germans failed to stop the French resistance fighters, we aren't going to be able to control our resistant firefighters. More attempted education will still fail to preempt additional adverse actions. I say line the offenders up against the wall and do to them as the laws and regulations specify.

But leave me out of it. I checked all the boxes in the survey today to show I attended all the civil rights and sexual harassment meetings. If the survey had gone back as far as 15 years, I would have truthfully checked those boxes too. After supervising over 20 years, I have yet to have a complaint, grievance, or harassment charge filed against me.

I get the picture, I understand. I am compliant!

Leave me alone before I run screaming out the door and do a doggie-hump on the leg of the closest minority (repeatedly, of course, after they say no) just so I can feel like I belong in the same room with these people!

One of Many
03/13 Ab,

Mark Rey is the Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment in the Agriculture Department. Rey, is a political appointee in charge of overseeing the Forest Service and our national forests.

His full testimony from Feb 02 can be found at www.fs.fed.us/congress/2002_Testimony/02122002.shtml

Some Key statements: "....the Forest Service"......"has established targets for increased contracting in key on-the-ground program areas", ....."increasing competitive bidding on timber sales; and “charter forests,” which will take innovative approaches to natural resources management"......"will examine opportunities for restructuring the Forest Service by reducing personnel at the national and regional level and redirecting them to the forest level"........."Competitive outsourcing of commercial activities will continue to increase."

The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources are key players in the consideration and enactment of legislation affecting National Forests and their programs. Their link is www.senate.gov/~energy/about/about.html

Re: availability, I would imagine they can be contacted as long as Congress is in session. However, Mark Rey's testimony dates from last year, when he was testifying about certain proposals (such as competitive sourcing, charter forests) to the Committee.

treehgger
03/13 Well said, Mr. Pence, well said. And very courageous of you, I might add. I wish I could shake your hand and pat you on the back.

I have been following this 'competitive outsourcing' thing off and on through my FS friends. When I first heard of it, I sort of blew it off as an idea that was so asinine that even the 'slow' politicians could see it for the bad idea that it is. I figured it would kick around for a while and then everyone up there in the OM&B or where ever this is coming from would finally come to their senses and it would go away.

Now here it still is...becoming a bigger issue and getting worse....tearing at all of your guts, disrupting your happiness and your peace of mind. I can't believe it.

A person's work gives meaning to their lives...and to all of you it means much more. For most of you it IS your life. People who go to work for the FS, BLM, PS, F & WS....let's face it....you can't be in it for the money, that is for sure. I know that is true. I've made three times the money outside the Forest Service than I did in it...but you know what? Despite all its problems and how aggravating the bureaucracy was, I STILL didn't want to leave. Sometimes even now I get a lump in my throat when I run across those still-pressed pea-green uniforms in the closet. THAT is the kind of pull the life and the camaraderie of the FS has on you. I'm with you, Guy Pence.....nobody can tell me that a contractor....who is bitter about getting screwed on his pay, retirement, and benefits in the first place...is going to give the job that kind of love and commitment. They are not going to give the public that either.

I have a summer place now near the Cache-Wasatch NF, and on that District, near Montpelier, Idaho, they have one of the best underground caves in the West. The FS had been giving tours there since I was a little kid. A few years ago I went up there, and there it is being run by some contract workers who didn't really seem to have any love in their heart or compassion for what they were doing....with fake little green vests with fake little patches. It angers me that someone in the upper echelons of government allowed this to happen in the first place. Someone, trying to pinch a few dollars, in my opinion soiled the proud tradition of this this site and this National Forest. And they ruined my enjoyment of it.

I swear to God....if I find out that the President's administration is behind this bullshit, I'm gonna vote Democrat for the first time in my life....maybe back that young Democratic Senator that made all his money suing bad doctors. I can't believe I'm saying this....but I am really starting to mean it.

For what it is worth, if I could go back to my years in the government, and do one thing different, it would be to speak out and stand up for myself....to call a spade a spade, and to hell with trying to be a passive rug mat. I should have spoke out vocally and vehemenently against the Consent Decree and the ludicrous hiring quotas they came up with, and the way they turned a blind eye to the hiring and blatant promotion of the untrained and unqualified, not caring at all about the injustice of their policies....all for the sake of the numbers. I would have told them what a dumb idea that was to want to change all of the Nat. Forest boundaries and merge the FS with the BLM. I should have told the Forest Supervisor that when I had a chance. But you know the mind set of the average government worker is to keep their mouths shut and not rock the boat and to try to be a 'team player'. And then of course there is the 'Fear Factor'. In my case, I couldn't seem to 'buy' a promotion or a break as it was.

But what I am saying, is all of you have to stand together on this one and speak out as a group. If you don't you'll end up with bitter feelings about things, and trust me, that is not the way to go for long term peace of mind. Draw a line in the sand with your Federations. The professional series people need to band together too and support their Technician brothers and sisters, and NOT BREAK RANKS. I would fight this competitive outsourcing thing at every opportunity, if I were all of you...and by all means, take the fight to the media. The public has some common sense if you give them credit for it. They are going to spend a fortune of the taxpayers money studying and carrying on with this thing, only for it to finally be declared a 'dumbass' idea and have it scrapped. Maybe it can be stopped sooner rather than later.

And I'll write my representatives. I guess that is all I can do. Hang in there, people. I am just sorry you have to go through all of this aggravation again. It never seems to end.

Semi-Frozen Ex FF
03/12 Here is a review for you to post on your book page. I am a fire fighter with the Forest Service in Colorado. I rate this book one chainsaw.

Young Men and Fire was one of the most miserable reads I have ever experienced. It is compiled from the scribbled notes of the author who died before even putting them into manuscript form. No editing has been done, the notes were simply connected in the best order that made sense. The result is a 300 page book that only has 100 pages of story. The redundancies and rambling philosophies would have obviously been taken out had he lived to complete his work. There is valuable material in the book and it provides excellent detail of the Mann Gulch tragedy. Save yourself some misery and don't read this like a novel, read only parts and skip through what is repetitive or rambling. This should be available at your library. I wouldn't recommend buying it.

CS

CS, soooo were ya expecting a novel? Should have read our fire book review page before the book. Expectations of something else can kill a great read.

I read Young Men and Fire just before reading Fire on the Mountain and found it worthwhile, but I've always enjoyed history as well as adventure. I wasn't expecting a novel, rather a historical mystery of sorts, one that involved FIRE. The reviews already posted on our book reviews page point out that this book is by Norman Maclean, a non-firefighter. For context, he was born around the turn of the century just around the time the Model A Ford was invented. He grew up in Missoula MT. Undoubtedly when he attended school as a kid he studied by kerosene lamp. Rural electrification act passed mid 1930s. Hard to imagine... Check the Brownie smokejumper pics: That was Idaho, but look at the fire cache, the truck, the trimotor -- a different era.

I appreciate that Norman's book traces not only what was known of the Mann Gulch story (1949) but also his efforts at understanding why the fire at Mann Gulch behaved as it did. In Norman's day the firelab at Missoula was just beginning, I think. Hmmm, the Northern Forest Fire Lab... Did that become the MTDC? Anyone fill us in on the early history of fire research in that part of Montana? Rothermel, Countryman, Albini, Byram, Jemison did some of the seminal work? How early? Maybe not so early? Where?

See, this stuff fascinates me.
Ab.
03/12 Some CDF guys were talking about a SF Chronicle article that said 50-70% of California's state wildland firefighters are inmates. Is this true?

They said there are 38 Camps with 4 or more crews per camp, that's an estimate of 2,400+ inmates on the road at a minimum. There are also camp crews. Is this 50-70% of all state wildland ff?

How much do inmates cost per day? How much would all 2,400+ cost? I heard $384.00/day per crew. That would be about $14,600 for all inmates @ inmate wages.

They also said it's logical that inmate hotshot crews might eventually replace hotshot crews even on federal fires. Can this happen?

The FS has outsourcing and CDF has the CA budget. Will the feds be pushed into contracting with the State of California to replace hotshot crews with CDF inmate crews? They're a lot cheaper.

CDF wife, still a fs wife at heart

03/12 I updated the fire jobs page as well as Series 462 and 455. Payette NF is looking for a DFMO.

We set up a new Fire News Page. Seems we get one up and running and the parameters change. I've been trying this one today and I think it works pretty well with the most recent relevant fire articles on top. It provides a more complete search than the last one.

Ab.
03/12 Following last season there were some questions in R6 as to OSHA's role in fire operations.

Here's an informative briefing paper that provides an idea of what to expect from OSHA when they visit our incidents, either for investigation or inspection. It's brief. It answers a number of questions regarding the roles and responsibility of OSHA in fire operations, including their purpose, jurisdiction, activities, responsibilities, etc.

It was authored by Carl Halgren, Oregon Area Director, OSHA with the help of Dick Terrill and Joy Flack also from OSHA. Hope it clarifies some information for all working in fire.

S
03/12 BRIEFING for CREW BOSSES for the SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA RESPONSE

We are anxious to have personnel respond to our search needs for the Columbia Disaster in Texas, however we want to make sure that everyone is aware of the strenuous work conditions they may encounter. In order to encourage participation of non-fire personnel, we have required no physical fitness standard for search crews. However, we want to make sure the participants are accustomed to walking long hours through forested areas.

Please make sure all personnel considering assignment are provided the following information prior to mobilization:

It is not unusual to walk eight or more miles per day through very difficult terrain. Most search areas are in cutover with heavy thickets and briars.
Because of the rainy weather, the ground is saturated, making walking difficult and uncomfortable. Boots and clothing often remain wet during the entire shift. If possible, try to bring an extra pair of boots with rubber bottoms. Rain gear is "usually" available at the fire camp supply unit.
The shifts are generally 12 hours, including walking for at least eight hours each day.
Although rainy, cold, wet conditions are prevalent at this time, we could soon encounter hot, humid weather.
Ticks, snakes and, other bugs will likely be encountered.
Search crews are sleeping in fire camps. Facilities vary from warehouses to open air arenas or pavilions.

Personnel that cannot perform their assigned search duties will be demobed immediately.

If you have further questions, please contact the Texas Interagency Coordination Center at 936-875-4798.
03/12 treehggr, who is Mark Rey? What does that committee do? Are they having meetings now?

another who appreciated Guy's letter.

03/12 Guy,

Would you object to having the letter forwarded to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources? Mark Rey recently testified before them regarding issues such as charter forests and outsourcing. They could benefit from hearing another voice.......

I am perfectly willing to add my name to that letter.

treehggr
03/11 SoCalCapt,

I lost your email addy. Are you still coming east next week? I'll try to be
on the chat this week in the evening.

Onelick
03/11 STL/TFL Needed

We're finishing up our third week managing the Palestine Branch of the
Columbia Recovery Mission. If you are a Strike Team Leader/trainee or
Task Force Leaders/trainee- please visit the Southern area web site..

The actual document is HERE.

WE NEED YOU! It's tough job, but helping our country and NASA has/will
make it worthwhile - and a once in a life time (we hope) experience for you.

Plans Chief - Dick McCombs Team

These folks are working against the clock when it comes to vegetation growth. More lush greenery will soon cover the search area. Time is of the essence. Ab.
03/11 Might I suggest referring this post or the information contained within it to your local papers. Public outrage would do the trick. Look at the tanker situation. That has been going on for years, but once brought to the publics attention, a sweeping change ensued. This is our life being threatened, not 'just our job's'. An e-mail to a paper or an e-mail to a local gov't official would be least we could all do to preserve what we have. Let's not standby on this issue as the others have stood by on issues that affect us. If something is going to be done, it needs to be done before studying fire management has a chance to gain momentum. If you're not in management, imagine how it will be when you reach Captain. "Where do I go from here?"

FireIdaho

The current word out of legislators' offices is that hardcopy letters carry more weight than emails these days. Please contact them by letter, as well as e-mail and phone their home state offices. There's a practical link under Federal on the links page that gets you all the info you need on your congress people.

To put this post into a word document for printing, simply open word, create a new page (file then new), highlight the post, copy and paste it in the new file. You can save and print from there. See the post immediately below to know how Guy expects this post will be used, if you choose to do so. Ab.
03/11 Ab and Readers,

You may use my letter in any positive way you
see fit to benefit the retention of the National Forest System, to keep
professional land managers at all levels in the Forest Service, and to
bring out the problems associated with competitive sourcing. My only
condition is that you change no text and that you clearly cite me as the
author. When I sign my name to something it is there to stay. Thanks
again.

Guy
03/10 Thank you Guy for expressing the passion I feel about my job with the Forest Service. What an eloquent piece of writing.

John
03/10 On Competitive Sourcing

Since it appears that Fire Management is scheduled to be one of the next areas studied for competitive sourcing I have been getting a lot of questions from fire fighters about my thoughts on the topic. I have been reading and studying as much as I can, and I recently attended a day and a half training session on the topic. After reflecting on what I have learned to date, I would like to share the following thoughts.

Over the past 30 years of service I have been asked many times by new acquaintances, "what do you do for a living". My standard answer has been, "I work with the Forest Service". Then because I have held a variety of positions with the Forest Service I qualify my answer by adding, "I am a timber forester", or "I am responsible for recreation", or "or I handle the special use permits, and mining operating plans', or " I am a District Ranger", or " I am responsible for wildland fire suppression and prescribed fire". But always first and foremost is the answer "I work with the Forest Service". When I hear some of my fellow employees answer the same question their replies are consistent with mine, or they might say "I work for the Forest Service, and what I do is road maintenance, engineering work, range analysis work" or they might qualify their opening statement with "I am a wildlife biologist, or a fisheries biologist, or a computer programmer, or a wildland fire fighter." But always first and foremost they state that they work "with" or "for" the Forest Service. When I listen to retired employees speak of their years of service they usually start out by saying "when I joined the Forest Service". For them this decision was a life long commitment, similar to marriage. All of these replies are consistent with a way of life. These replies do not reflect that any of us feel we simply "have a job".

"Working with the Forest Service" is how we define ourselves. It is our being, it is our purpose, it is our life. No one can describe what we do with the Forest Service as simply being our job. "Working with the Forest Service" is the very fabric we dress ourselves in each morning before we leave our homes. It is what sustains us throughout the day, week, months, and years. It is how we introduce ourselves, it is how we visualize ourselves, it is how we relate to all the other people we meet in our lives. Equally important is that this is how others introduce us, it is how they identify us, it is how they relate to us and the critical conservation work we do. This is an indication of how strongly they feel about their National Forests.

Now I am being told that the very definition of myself is simply a job, which can be contracted out to someone else for the lowest bid price. I hear that the care and concern I and my fellow employees have for the soil, water, air, vegetation, wildlife, fish and recreational opportunities on the National Forest System are simply items which can be managed by the cheapest bidder. I am being asked to accept that all of the values found on our National Forests are just like an inexhaustible supply of hamburgers at a fast food joint which can be doled out by anyone who simply wants a job for the moment. The vision I have is someone working a job until something better comes along. Nothing similar to a life long marriage, maybe more similar to a flirt, or a fling, or a short term relationship lasting only until interest wanes, or something more interesting comes along. It is as though we no longer need career professionals being responsible for the natural resources on our National Forests.

Well, I don't buy it!! I can't be convinced. No one can tell me that the commitment I witness from my fellow employees to the values on our National Forests are like so many cans of beans on a grocery shelf. Something to be bought or sold by the latest political whim. I am being told to be patient, to wait until studies are done to see what shakes out at the end. To this I must say NO! Time is overdue for me, and those who feel the same way I do to stand up and say "no one takes my heart without my permission, and I refuse to give that permission". These are my National Forests too, and I don't want them managed by the cheapest bidder. I don't believe the American public wants their drinking water supply protected by someone who feels they simply have a job. I don't believe the public wants their forests and wildland/urban interfaces protected from wildland fire by someone who believes fighting fire might be an interesting job until something else more interesting comes along. I don't believe the public wants the last of the top soil on their forest and rangelands protected up to the point of only being able to make a profit off of a contract. Beyond that point, just let it blow away or run off down a creek. I don't believe the sportsmen and wildlife enthusiasts want our ecosystems fragmented into even smaller unmanageable chunks by dividing them up for management by individual contractors. Healthy wildlife populations can't stand to have their summer and winter ranges separated into further smaller areas solely for contract management purposes. Does the American recreating public really want to pay separate contract prices for their outdoor experiences as they move through what used to be their National Forests? Forest Service employees have provided economic stability and community leadership to small western communities for decades. These communities will face even tougher times than they currently do when the career Forest Service employees who live in those communities and serve on school boards, volunteer fire departments, search and rescue teams and as unpaid sports coaches are replaced by contractors who travel out there from their urban homes to only work on a for-profit basis.

I wonder if what truly might be at risk by competitive sourcing is the basic concept of the National Forest System? We are the only nation in the world with enough foresight and intelligence to set aside 200 million acres into the National Forest System managed by career employees who dedicate their careers to the single minded task of conserving these natural resources not only for those of us alive today, but for those unborn generations yet to come. Management carried out by professionals for our kids, and grand kids, and great-grand kids and not just for the sake of a one-time profit margin for contractors.

I am not sure where the leadership will come from to steer the agency through competitive sourcing. I don't hear much, except "this is the job and we have to do it by a certain time or it will be done to us". At the training session I attended it seemed that the only advice given was to get your paper work in order and make sure your employees know what their service computation date is so they will know how soon they will be replaced. I guess this is a variation of our long standing "can do" attitude. I am wondering who is going to speak up and say that competitive sourcing is something that can be done, but what about the nation's drinking water supply? What about the top soil, the wildlife habitat, the unbridled recreation opportunities on National Forests and the economic stability of rural western America? When did all of this go up for bid to the lowest bidder? We consult the American public over every work project carried out on the National Forests, why not ask them how they feel about the very existence of their National Forests as we have known them?

Perhaps implementing competitive sourcing is not a job worth doing until the American public has a chance to express their concerns over what is rightfully theirs. It is their National Forests that might be dismantled and bid out to the cheapest bidder. When do they get their say? When do the employees get their say? After it is too late to put the puzzle pieces back together? This country and our agency were founded on the principles of being able to make your concerns known. Remember, as Smokey Bear says, "Only you can ……..So speak up".

Guy W. Pence
Fire/Aviation Staff Officer
Boise National Forest

Hear Hear. I put this one on the Docs Worth Reading page. Ab.

03/10 Neptune

Your point is well taken. Our long-term approach is going to be basing AD
rates on the job duties, responsibilities, and complexity in the same manner
as GS grades for fire positions are established. But for this year - and
recognizing that most EFFers are retired employees working at the AD-5 level
(including DIVS) we are going to try to effect some change based upon what
most folks were making as a GS when they retired. Not the best but >>>>

Airops
03/10 Airops,

How do you equate a fireline job to a GS level?
I'm a GS-7. My FEO is a GS-6. My boss is a GS-9, his
boss is a GS-11, and we all regularly take DIVS
assignments.

Neptune
03/10 The Proposed 2003 EFF AD Pay Scale Rates are out. They are not close to
what they should be.

Accordingly, some of us have organized the AD Firefighters Association
(ADFA) to attempt some redress on this situation. For better or for worse,
the fire agencies are highly dependent on retired AD firefighters to staff
fires, overhead teams, and dispatch centers.

The site is located at www.adfirefighter.org

We have done an analysis on the OSC, DIVS, AOBD, and ATGS positions for pay
comparability. Comparable GS grade level employees, with true
time-and-one-half and hazard, will be making $1000-$3000 in a pay period
more than the AD firefighter for the same job.

If you are an AD EFF firefighter, please go to this website and review the
documents, then complete an Interest Survey.

Thanks,
airops
03/10 Ab -- RE: the supplemental food thread.
It's not just freebies and waste. There is a scientific basis.

Here's some links to books on nutrition and human performance. The
military has been doing a lot of research in this field and the findings
fit right in with our jobs. In a nutshell -- the standard fire camp menus
are inadequate and may be a safety item. Not eating right not only
degrades physical performance but also mental performance, leadership, and
situational awareness. It's not only calories that count. Your body has
different nutrient needs in extreme environments/stress situations.

High altitude/cold weather physiology and nutrition:
Nutritional Needs in Cold and High-Altitude Environments: Applications for Military Personnel in Field Operations (1996)

Hot weather physiology and nutrition:
Nutritional Needs in Hot Environments: Applications for Military Personnel in Field Operations (1993)

Problems with not eating enough or eating right:
Not Eating Enough: Overcoming Underconsumption of Military Operational Rations

-=Dave=-
03/10 Hey Abs,

K<snip> posted a slam against theysaid on the airtanker message
board. What is the problem? Why the hell are we writing to our
congressional reps on their behalf???

Oh, I see Abercrombie replied. Good answer, Ab!

SoCal FF

OK, let's not overreact. Those who are supporting PSOB should continue to do so. Remember that the AAP Board has auto posting. The views of the poster are only that person's view, not the view of the whole group. Thanks Original Ab for your rebuttal. Ab.

03/10 Well Ab/s

Just landed home yesterday from Palestine TX branch of shuttle recovery. The experience was something else. I think when we left I did not really grasp the immensity of the situation. The whole assignment really changed for me when I picked up and held in my hand, a piece of the ill fated shuttle for the first time. It really brought it home at that point.

The debris field is some 25 miles wide by 300 miles long. We ended up pairing up with a Boise Handcrew to create a strike team. Ever tried gridding with forty people at once ?
If ya thought 8-10 people was rough, try it with forty strangers. I must say however, that teamwork played such an integral role between our two crews. Rock on Boise you guys were GREAT !! Hats off to Dick McCombs Team.....one word.... SOLID !!

Rocky Mountain
03/09 Hey AB,

I found this site and thought it to be neat and worth passing on. Not sure if its ever been posted on WLF before though. The site is all about the early days of the Forest Service and has some neat stuff on Rangers, from songs to the 1908 and 1925 Ranger Exams. It is hosted by Duke University so it should be legit.

Click on the PEOPLE part to look at the early days of the Ranger. US Forest Service History

Thanks
-NCCrew
03/09 Ab,

Below is a response I got from National Flare Company.

vfd cap'n

Here's the important part. The company replied that they made a recall only on Lot #M2-2000-0715 manufactured in 2000 and that all users of record were notified of the recall. Ab.
03/09 Ab, the attached was given out at the memorial for Paul Gleason today.

paul_gleason.jpg

6

Touching, and so like Paul. Thanks for sharing. Ab.

03/09 Ab,

If you wouldn't mind helping us out in Texas we are in need of helicopter managers for assistance with the search for the Columbia shuttle mission. If there are folks available, they need to let their state coordination center know.

Please consider making yourself available if possible. This is a very unique mission and an extremely rewarding one.

Thanks
"Boo"
03/09 Walt Darran has put up on the Airtanker Pilots Board his notes from a meeting with Tony Kern and representatives of AAP, AFIA, USFS, and BLM discussing the future of airtankers in 2003 and beyond .

Ab.
03/09 R-3 guy,

I must have been tired, what I meant to say was "R-5 teams when in R-6" were the ones that I encountered the most ordering problems with. The forest sup gave specific direction to control costs due to the large ODF protection on a very large fire I was on, did not seen to matter. The outrageous orders still kept coming in, until someone - some where, had a face to face with the IC.

I tend to see the abuses in ordering more from type one teams, type two teams tend to be more fiscally conservative. Just my observations, not based in fact.

WP (aka-Washington Post)

And I was sure you must have been trolling for a response. HAW HAW. Ab.
03/09 Thanks to DF for the outstanding piece of the 1919 Western Firefighting Rules. I sent it out to all my Fire Stations today so everyone has a change to read and learn from it. Reading it makes you humble real quick sense the 1919 guys were having the same issues as today.

Zimm
03/08 WP's quote:

"Unless it is a r-5 team then they will never stop
ordering the "above and beyond.""

GREAT! I hadn't seen an r-5 is the
best-place-in-the-world comment for awhile.

If I was on a buying team from another region, I would
really chew your ass; but because I am not, this is
all I'll say.

R3guy
03/08 For information on new and old Federal news try this
webpage. It's free, no sign up and it's easy to
navigate.
http://govexec.com
For Financially poor here is the link to the 4.1%
increase. This page also has links related to the
topic.
http://govexec.com/dailyfed/0203/022103t1.htm

Tomorrow I'll be enroute to the dispatchers workshop
in San Diego. Hope to see some of you other
dispatchers there.

dripptorch
03/08 AB, here is my bookmark for the Federal Page of the Washington Post. It still works with out signing in. From here you can click on Stephen Barr's column.
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/politics/fedpage/

One comment on the supplemental food discussion. IC on the McNalley fire said that crews were high-grading extra lunches for the candy - At $12 a piece! He okayed the purchase of extra snacks. The Finance Chief also told the overhead that any meals purchased at local restaurants were on their own dime since there was full food service at fire camp in town.

Napa Jack

Napa Jack, I still get a sign in with that link. Their isp must be reading my fingerprints and they don't match up. Thanks for trying, but I think those who want to read the Washington Post (WP!!?? did you foil this?) will have to just sign up. Ab.
03/08 A Dispatcher,

I am sure you have seen all the abuses you listed in the supplemental ordering. My question is where was the coordinator at expanded or the buying team leader when these orders came in? It is their job to call BS on orders that are unreasonable! One call to the Forest Admin Officer or IBA will put a stop to unreasonable orders. Or if the IMT insists, then ask for written justification. Unless it is a r-5 team then they will never stop ordering the "above and beyond."

WP
03/08 I updated the fire jobs page as well as Series 462 and 455. Ab.
03/08 Okay, so I'm old and maybe I'm not an expert on the metric system...
but for those who are well versed:

Q: In metric terms, would 2,000 mockingbirds be "Two Kila-Mockingbird"?
Q: And would there be only 10 cards in a deca-cards?

Old Fire Guy

HAW, HAW, HAW. Ab.
03/07 Hadn't checked the Stephen Barr column in the Washington Post lately, but still hadn't heard about this! The following is quoted from the Feb 23rd column:

"In case you missed the news, President Bush signed legislation that provides federal employees with a 4.1 percent pay raise, retroactive to the first pay period of the year."

There is more in the article, such as how agencies will pay for the increase without extra funding, but why haven't I heard about this? Any more info out there? Here's the url:

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A55839-2003Feb23.html

Please sign me as:
Financially poor, physically, mentally and spiritually wealthy.

Readers, a heads-up. Looks like the Washington Post now requires a short login such as gender, age, and zipcode. But it accepts darn near anything as far as I can tell. It also uses cookies to remember who you are. Not a big deal, but for those who don't like them, they might as well skip the link. Ab.

03/07 The Midwest Wildlfire Training Academy catalog is online now at the
Missouri Fire and Rescue Training website http://www.mufrti.org/

Also, I am considering taking D110. I would appreciate any insight on EDRC
assignments during the season. Are they available for ADs from the
midwest, are the assignments 2 weeks, etc? I get a month of leave each
year and would like to give it a try.

Shep
03/07 Re the article that says Keep resources at home:

The "keep them at home" just will not work. To "What if" it to death is poor emergency planning. You must use a graded approach much of the time in planning what and where the resources will be. Do we keep the resources at home waiting for the big one that never comes while everywhere else is screaming for help or do we see events coming together that lead us to place resources in position to jump on the problem before it grows to large?

Certainly with the lack of aircraft this year there will be no "Keep them at home" policy. Planning will and must be done so as the resource will be strategically placed to provide the best use of an important asset.

This past year there was or appeared to be efforts in planning the placement of IMTs before things got out of hand. Cheaper to have a IMT setting in a hotel waiting for assignment in the area of largest concern than setting at home waiting for the phone call to go to the hotel. Same thoughts must apply across the board to be effective in any response of any resource.

The short range look, mid-range look, and long term look ALL must be reviewed for the best benefit possible to the larger issues at hand not just the short range look. We must think outside the box and past our noses.

Zimm
03/07 Here are parts of the minutes from the January NWCG meeting that
are relevant to current discussions. Topics include:

narrow banding and P25 radios by 2005 (3),
interagency weather systems operations (5),
contracting requirements and standards (18),
bilingual leadership on type 2 crews (19),
work rest &14 day tour (21),
supplemental foods (22),
driving limits (23),
30-mile Fire Action Prevention Plan review (24),
transition thresholds (25), and
large airtankers (34).

TM T
03/07 1919 Safety Rules

Funny how things change but, NOT! A lot of folks have probably seen this
but I just pulled it out and taught it again at our District fire refresher
along with the Original 10 Standard Fire Orders this week. Lots of the
same issues in 1919 as now. Work Rest and Food is covered in summary,
# III. Organization, # 5 and 6. Does not specifically address the jerky
issue but I bet they ate plenty of it.

DF

Ab Note: A link to this 1919 document is included on the Documents Worth Reading page and Site Map page. So many things do seem to stay the same.
03/07 while i share Angered and concerned's reservation
about the possible threats to firefighter safety if
supplemental foods are abolished and/or rationed, i
think the estimate of 15,000 calories per day is too
high.

studies have been done in both canada and australia
estimating caloric consumption to be around 6,000
calories per day.

the most recent study, by researchers at u. of
montana-bozeman, was published in the journal Applied
Ergonomics in September, 2002. It measured the energy
expenditures of hotshots, and found it to be about
4700 calories per day. (this includes mop-up shifts,
but even so, caloric expenditures rarely cracked the
8,000 calorie mark)

those technically minded can read the full study in:
Applied Ergonomics, Vol. 33, Issue 5; Sept. 2002; p.
405-413

Regardless of the actual number of calories burned,
when firefighters are hungry, the work less
efficiently, tire faster, and make more mistakes, i.e.
they are less safe. Even a rudimentary reading of an
MRE box tells you that ("Food is a force multiplier!)

JerseyBoy
03/07 I have a different perspective on the supplemental food issue which may
shed some light on the current proposals we are seeing to cut out the
purchasing of supplemental foods for firefighters. These are only a
couple of examples, but I believe that this type of thing has happened in
every region at some time. The following are actual events that have
occurred:

Example 1 – The IMT decides it has to have a case of frappacinos (in glass
bottles) in fire camp. Unfortunately, glass bottles were not allowed in
fire camp and the frappacinos were returned to the coordination center for
consumption by expanded dispatch and the buying team members.

Example 2 – The IMT decides it has to have a certain brand of candy bar
that is not available locally, so a buying team member has to drive
approx. 150 miles round trip to the next town to purchase this item. (No
other type of candy bar will suffice.)

Example 3 – The IMT wants individual packages of sunflower seeds. The
only thing available locally is individual packages of peanuts. This is
not acceptable to the IMT. Once again, the buying team has to send
someone to procure this item in another town.

Example 4 – The IMT has a standard “order” which they place everyday for
supplemental foods. This order does not change from the start of the
incident to the end even though the number of overhead and crews
diminishes towards the end of the incident. Therefore, the local fire
cache is left with dozens of cases of unused supplemental food which
cannot be used, cannot be returned to the grocery store, and ultimately
goes to waste.

Based on these examples, is it any wonder that the government sees
supplemental foods as a “waste”? Maybe the IMTs need to be held more
accountable rather than not supplying our firefighters with the things
they need to stay fit, get the job done, and make their jobs a little bit
easier.

- IA Dispatcher
03/07 Followup on the Exploding Fusee/Flare Report of 3/4:

Like LLFF we Abs were able to find no info on the web about the fusees and we've seen no safety alert other than the circulating e-mail posted on 3/4. Just in case, Ab did a little more research to see if the fusee alert was a hoax. It is not.

I talked this morning with the folks at the San Bernardino Co Fire Department, National Airport location. They told me that they put out a safety alert to their department last Nov or Dec and told others of the problem at that time. They said a firefighter at the Fontana station was lighting a flare and it blew up, injuring his eyes. There were several other reports of minor non-injury ignition incidents. The police department had larger problems. Eight flares caught fire or exploded in patrol car trunks burning up the cars. Presumably the trunk was hot, flares were stored there, the cap came off and the flare ignited.

So, people, please check your flares/fusees if you haven't already and take appropriate action. There is no evidence we can find that the company has issued a recall or an alert.

Be safe,
Ab.
03/07 RE: The supplemental Food Issue

After reading the proposed guidelines about the food I am a little concerned. With Breakfast at 5:30AM, Dinner at 8:00PM that leaves over 14 hours in between hot meals. A sack lunch of mystery meatwich, and two juices doesn't really have enough food for most active people. I have figured a couple of times that an active firefighter can go through upwards of 15,000 calories a day. That is a lot of intake, but after 120 days on fire assignments, your metabolism is through the roof.

With all the new safety guidelines and work/rest requirements why are we skimping on food? A hungry person is distracted, not fueled. When the time comes to bust out some line you need maximum energy. Snack food is not a luxury but rather a necessity. I agree that some waste occurs, and some food may go home with firefighters, but the issue should be SUPPORTING our people. It is easy for overhead to see food as a huge cost, but those guys are usually the ones that get all the good food anyway during the middle of the day when every one is out working. It is pretty sad that to save some money we might cut the snack foods, what about ordering every heavy helicopter we can, and then having them sit at helibase all day, or using a Sky-crane to heli-mop a smoldering patch of duff? There is always a way to save a few dollars, but lets keep the people that make things happen in good condition and with full bellies. If people are abusing the free for all food, let the crew bosses deal with it. Don't tell me that I get enough food and am not really hungry. What's next; a commissary bill for moleskin, QBs and tool wedges?

Angered and concerned
03/07 hi Eric,

Just thought I'd let you in on a little secret of the metric system. It's one
of those dumb things that don't seem to make a lot of sense, but regular
"calories" are not the same thing as food "Calories" that you see on food
labeling.

Specifically, a calorie is the amount of energy, or heat, it takes to raise
the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
One calorie is equal to 4.184 joules, a common unit of energy used in the
physical sciences.

Most of us think of calories in relation to food, as in "This can of soda has
200 calories." It turns out that the calories on a food package are actually
kilocalories (1,000 calories = 1 kilocalorie). The word is sometimes
capitalized to show the difference, but usually not. A food calorie contains
4,184 joules. A can of soda containing 200 food calories contains 200,000
regular calories, or 200 kilocalories. A gallon of gasoline contains 31,000
kilocalories.

The same applies to exercise -- when a fitness chart says you burn about 100
calories for every mile you jog, it means 100 kilocalories.

I have no idea why some nutrientist decided to play this cruel joke on us.
It's just one of those things. :)

GreatWhiteNorth
03/07 about supplemental food guidelines:

eric - don't worry about getting fat, worry about not
getting enough! what scientists call a kilocalorie,
the rest of the country knows as a calorie (it seems
people got freaked out when they saw the large numbers
of calories they actually ingested, so the advertising
people started calling kilocalories 'calories') so
1000 kilocalories is what we would call 1000 calories.

which brings up a second point: even with a
supplemental food allowance of 1000 kilocalories a
day, this might not meet the nutritional needs of a
wildland firefighter. the study that was released
last year noted that those on the line can use upwards
of 6,000 calories a day - and in some cases more
depending on body type and metabolism. and i'm sure
there would be some debate to the fact that camp food,
or MRE's for that matter, could adequately meet this
need. (you have to eat everything in the mre to get
2,000 calories per meal)

i've seen abuse of the system, with camps handing out
power bars by the box, but it would be physically
dangerous to those who are out in the field to come up
with policies to restrict the amount of food
available, especially as a season goes on and
nutritional deficiencies begin to appear (rare is the
firefighter who gains weight during the season).

hopefully the new guidelines that are adopted
recognize that the adage 'an army travels on its
belly' applies to the firefighter as well.

JerseyBoy
03/07 Ab,

There may be a typo on the FWFSA update page that SoCalCapt sent the link for. The third paragraph has a sentence "If we donut participate...." It must be a typo, or I guess, it could be an effort to get law enforcement officers to join, or maybe a reference to getting IMT's to adopt an improved supplemental food policy.

On another legislative front, the National Volunteer Fire Council is pressing for extended PSOB coverage. www.nvfc.org/legup/20030301.html

"On February 26, legislation was reintroduced in both the House and Senate that would expand the Public Safety Officers Benefits (PSOB) Program to ensure that the families of more fallen heroes are provided for.

"More specifically, The Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act (H.R. 919 / S. 459) would extend the current PSOB Program to public safety officers who die as a result of a heart attack or stroke while on duty. Heart attacks and strokes represent a significant risk among public safety officers, accounting for nearly half of firefighter deaths each year. The legislation passed in the House last Congress, but the Senate did not have time to consider it prior to adjournment."

It would be great to get this and coverage for pilots in the same year.

vfd cap'n
03/07 www.fs.fed.us/r6/ppm/fire_procurement.htm
Firepup 91 This is Region 6's site for agreements. You can look up every company with an R6 agreement whether it be engines, tenders, busses, handcrews, and support.

hope it helps
eric
03/06 FWFSA Update:

www.fwfsa.org/historperspec.html

SoCalCapt
03/06 Does anyone know if there is a web page that links to B.I.A. fire jobs? (Other than individual announcements such as usajobs) ??

I know there are links to the Forest Service, BLM, Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife jobs but haven't been able to find a "generic link" to jobs available within the BIA.

Any help would be appreciated.

Sezno More
03/06 Thanks Mellie and vfd cap'n for pointing me to that challenger and ff safety paper. It was interesting. Excellent comments.

Did anyone else hear that the Columbia crash investigators are looking into the safety culture of NASA.? Theyre also are concerned that there are only 3000 government employees but 7000 contractors at NASA, did that figure into the crash? So we have no idea what competitive sourcing will do except make much of the rest of govt look like NASA. What about safety??

Todd
03/06 Option three of the draft snack food plan "1000 Kilocalories" is that a million calories per firefighter per day? sounds excessive to me, perhaps a quarter to half a million calories is better. (dont want to get fat) ... lol

Eric
03/06 Dear Ab et al,

I was wondering how much fire contract crews are paid. I understand that there might not be a one-size-fits all pay rate depending on circumstances and the language of various contracts. Also, are there good comparisons out there of the per day cost (with and without overtime) of agency crews (20-person) versus contract crews? My personal inclination is that the reliability of contract crews is spotty, but I also realize the same can be said of agency crews, engines, etc. I would just like to know if it is a cost effective alternative.

Take care,
Firepup91
03/06 Tahoe Terrie,

Looks like we'll have to bring our own jerky.
Draft policy regarding supplemental foods. Haven't heard anything since... (No news about chickens is good news?)

NorCalTom
03/06 Firescribe,
There's nothing on jerky in that article. Anyone know what the upshot was on the costs of food on the Biscuit? What do we get/not get if we ever get to fight fire again?

(Hopefully no chicken jerky.)
(Oh, I hear they need chickens in Iraq to warn of chem/bio warfare. Maybe we could ship some there!)

I miss visiting here daily...
Tahoe Terrie the chicken choker. (buck, buck, buck, aaakkkk).
03/06 Ab,

Wow I thought I had problems making a budget. Looks like Mr. Bosworth has a mountain to climb. I know that there is waste, and some fat trimming could be done but not at the levels proposed. I dont have the answer, other than do what i always do at home. Spend the dough - then get yelled at by me wife and make her figure out the budget.

later eric
03/06 Big J here, and I need a little help from you before I write my educated opinion on this issue which seems to be bringing the context of my first post to life.

In the article about the F.S. studying keeping resources at home there was a brief mention of (and I am Quoting the article, not the author of the study....)...... recommendations from the study includes relaxing federal safety rules to permit greater flexibility in the use of helicopters....... I currently have numerous e-mails out to try and find who was saying this, and what context he was speaking of. This hits on a personal level. I am going to be on the busiest helo in the nation this year. Great if get more overtime; Not so great if me or the crew doesn't live to see that OT$.

Well I was wondering if you knew who wrote the study, or who in the forest service is conducting it. I have letters into FAM in the WO, and to the paper that published the article, but who knows when they'll write back. If you could help me I would appreciate it.

Big J

Probably was the study done on the costs of fighting the Biscuit Fire. Ab.
03/05 From Firescribe

Well Bosworth is trying to tell it like it is...
Forest Service Could Face Huge Deficit

Firestarter...
Barton gets 12 years from the state of CO to run concurrently with the 6 yr fed sentence.

More on beetle-killed trees on Lake Arrowhead
Davis to Declare State of Emergency

To prevent another Biscuit...
Preparing for fire season: Study urges keeping firefighters close to home
keep-the-firefighters-at-home???
relax federal safety rules to permit greater flexibility in the use of helicopters?
overhaul management of contractors and purchasing so there's no waste and fraud?
no more jerky? (heh, just checking...)
and are we going back to the 21 day tour?

Ab, Nice set of articles on the various news pages. Makes part of my job simple...FS
03/05 Hi Ab
I've been a devoted lurker here for a couple of years. I'm only stepping out of the shadows now because I get very nervous about taking action based upon information contained in an e-mail that is 'making the rounds'. I passed the warning about defective fusees on to friends, and I will take a look at any we have in stock, but in the meantime I've also been hunting for any available information that would confirm the warning is legitimate. I'm on the East coast and news about the incidents mentioned didn't make it out here. And I haven't been able to find any mention of them, or any mention of defective flares, anywhere on the web. Is the problem common knowledge on the west coast? It might have just had a tough time making it through the snow drifts to reach some of us here.

Thanks for any info you can pass along. And a BIG thanks for all the work you put into making this such a great site!

LLFF

Thanks for the heads up, LLFF. We'll be clearer next time and add "on the FS intranet". (I just changed the note at the top of yesterday's post.) We don't post anything like this saying it's "making the rounds" unless it comes from reliable sources in the FS, BLM, NPS, etc and/or we have contacted the originator to double check. Readers might be surprised at how much research is done before posting some emails. We work at being responsible with certain kinds of warnings and information.

The fusee alert originated from a USFS Forest Safety Officer / HAZMAT Specialist, RLEO/FS Chief Accident Investigator on one of the SoCal forests, was sent on up the food chain within Fed FAM and then out to crewbosses and other fed crew members who might carry flares -- so they could check. We posted it because non-fed fire folks should know of the problem as well. I know of no recall. Ab.

03/05 Here's a story about the shuttle clean up.

Chemical fumes sicken shuttle searchers

To me it brings up the question of should fire crews being doing all of these other tasks when they aren't trained for them such as exposure to hazardous material. Be safe out there.

Observer11
03/05 With all the talk last week about van rollover, I just wanted to let
people know that Grayback got rid of all their 15-passenger vans after
the wreck last summer. They were all gone within weeks. I was impressed
at that knowing how hard it is for independent contractors to make a
living fighting fire. Must have been a huge expense.

Rootbeer
03/05 Found this web site with more van information than I can digest. Has link to 105 page document by Ford on 15 passenger vans, see both sides of the issue. www.stnonline.com

Also- See recommendation below for training of van drivers.

DF
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NHTSA Repeats Rollover Warning To Users of 15-Passenger Vans

The nation's top motor vehicle safety executive, Jeffrey Runge, M.D., head of the U.S. DoT's National Hwy Traffic Safety Adm (NHTSA), today reissued a cautionary warning to users of 15-passenger vans because of an increased rollover risk under certain conditions. A similar warning was issued in 2001.

The safety agency also unveiled a consumer flyer for users of 15-passenger vans.

NHTSA research has shown that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases dramatically as the number of occupants increases from fewer than five to more than ten. In fact, 15-passenger vans (with 10 or more occupants) had a rollover rate in single vehicle crashes that is nearly three times the rate of those that were lightly loaded.

"Because of these risks, it is vital that users of 15-passenger vans be aware of some safety precautions that will significantly reduce the risk," said Dr. Runge.

* Among the recommendations are the following:
* It is important that 15-passenger vans be operated by trained, experienced drivers.
* Insist that all occupants wear seat belts at all times. Eighty percent of those who died in 15-passenger van rollovers nationwide in the year 2000 were not buckled up. Wearing seat belts dramatically increases the chances of survival during a rollover crash. In fatal, single-vehicle rollovers involving 15-passenger vans over the past decade, 92 percent of belted occupants survived.

NHTSA is reissuing this advisory specifically to alert summertime users of 15-passenger vans. The agency also has prepared a flyer on 15-passenger van safety that is available on the web at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/Hot/15PassVans. The agency also is considering the potential benefits of an additional warning label about rollover and seat belt use that would be visible to the driver and passengers of 15-passenger vans, respectively.

While federal law prohibits the sale of 15-passenger vans for the school-related transport of high school age and younger students, no such prohibition exists for vehicles to transport college students or other passengers.

A copy of the NHTSA analysis of the rollover characteristics of 15-passenger vans can be found at: here under "Research Notes" (then look for 2001; it's second up from the bottom). The new consumer advisory also is available at: www.nhtsa.dot.gov/nhtsa/announce.
03/05 The firejobs page is updated as well as Series 462 and 455. Ab.
03/04 Backburnfs,

The point i was trying to make was more about air ops than it was about ground crews. I'm not trying to advocate for people to go off and violate, ignore, or forget the 10 & 18. My point, which as i read over what my last post i see now as a little unclear, is simply that the margin of safety for the aviation community is a lot narrower than it is for people on the ground. So trying to take statements about aviation safety and relay them verbatim to fire management as a whole is taking them out of context a little- that's all I was trying to get at.

And what I was saying about risk evasion vs mitigation- in fire, we can only minimize risks. We cannot eliminate them completely, and presuming that you can do so will only end in frustration. And yes, as backburnfs said, you can always say no. But remember, if you're going to turn down an assignment for safety reasons, then it's on you to suggest an alternate solution that provides for adequate safety of those involved. So really, you rarely "Just say NO," because almost always you do end up doing the job, just differently than maybe it was envisioned originally (exceptions being haz mat scenarios and such). Again, aviation is a whole different ball of wax. If an assignment requires an aircraft to operate at altitudes higher than what is operationally safe for that airplane, then the plane should stay on the ground. But i will eat my words when i see the day that pilots turn down assignments because they deem the particular assignment "unnecessary." Or how about our beloved hotshots- what would you say if the crew you ordered shows up and looks at your fire on its fifth day of mop-up and says, "You know boss, we're gonna pass on this one. The assignment is unnecessary. See ya at camp." I mean, it makes sense if you're not worried about keeping your job, but sounds like the fast track to the unemployment line if you ask me.

-Nomad
03/04 Check yer fusee inventories, this e-mail is making the rounds on the FS intranet...

Through the San Bernardino County ICEMA (Inland Counties Emergency Medical
Agency) network, I have been notified of a road flare (fusee) defect &
recall that may be of interest....

The National Flare Company has produced flares/fusees that are apparently
unstable. The flares are marked as CSFM and UL approved. The flares/fusees
may self ignite resulting in complete loss of the vehicle that they are
stored in. Resulting fires have already destroyed 8 state patrol vehicles
in California.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department has experienced several cases of
the flares/fusees exploding upon ignition, where in one case it has
resulted in an injury to the eye and a lost time injury to the user.

The recommended action: Immediately remove any flares/fusees manufactured
by the "National Flare Company" and place in an area that if they ignite,
no damage will occur.

DCE

03/04 Well I never thought such a positive response would come out of my comments, but to my amazement it seems that there are others out there willing to expand on the very point I was trying to convey. So often this forum gets labeled a "bitch session" by those who are not open to others opinions. I think that once again we have proven them wrong by involving ourselves in constructive debate.

Enough of that though. Ab I realize you weren't jumping my case, rather you were furthering my point in some regard. Your mentality is the one that needs to abound in our profession. Unfortunately we have numerous module leaders who have been promoted before they were ready to assume command. I think that with the boom of retiring captains we promoted people without the sound foundation needed to see that the pressure from congress means little out there on the ground. From these module leaders will come the next generation, and we have to ask ourselves if they are being taught by the most qualified people? We can be better than our predecessors, but to do that we must want to. Let's face it, ambition seems to be an increasingly rare quality in the younger generations. Those who are ambitious and embrace change are promoted so fast that a gap is being created on the ground. One that we may see come to a deadly fruition in the future.

So that comment made by the panel was just that; A comment....... But comments bring about thought whether they are directly related to the context they are drawn from or not. That comment to me (and Nomad, BBTBDC, and FEDFIRE) was thought provoking, it inspired a conversation that a lot of good comments came out of. DM also brings a good thought to the table: Don't believe everything you read whole heartedly. I appreciate everybody's comments, good or bad, and I think we all have something to offer. Thank God we don't have anything else to offer about tankers and tenders though!!!!!

A big thanks to AL too. It is good to see someone thinking about the personal side of this debate.

Big J
03/04 Ab,

Concerning the trickle down safety effects of upper management on wildland fire culture, here's some good info paraphrased from Diane Vaughn's article Targets for Firefighting Safety: Lessons from the Challenger Tragedy. You can read the whole article here (pdf file). Seems to me that the Firefighter Safety Awareness Study made some of these same points regarding the responsibility of upper mgmt. (You can find study parts 1, 2, 3 on the links page at the bottom under safety. Wonder what the TriData research group would have had to say about competitive outsourcing??)

Some points from the section entitled
TARGETS FOR SAFETY:

Target Elite Decisions
  • Decisions of top administrators can contribute to safety and/or tragedy by trickling down to affect decisions of those on the ground who are doing the risky work in the following ways:
  • Negotiations with Congress have major impact. Budget cuts by Congress and the President can curtail resources. Bills can simultaneously increase bureaucratic requirements eg, required paperwork takes time away from training and other risk mitigating activities.
  • Policy must bring goals and the resources necessary to meet them into alignment. If resources are not adequate to meet firefighting goals, then either the resources need to be increased or policy must be reassessed.
  • Administrative decisions significantly affect the culture of decision making or people doing the hands-on work. Top administrators can present a "can-do" attitude, promising Congress more than can be delivered, in NASA's case with less resources. In NASA's case, they stressed safety, but other actions and decisions convinced workers that schedule was a priority.
  • Altering the structure of an organization can also alter the culture. Then (as now) "downsizing" was what was happening. The author points out that changes in structure shouldn't be undertaken without research evaluating the effect on safety. Hmmm, seems someone should have thought about the effects of outsourcing on FS IRM and fleet people and others who are our critical computer, mechanics etc on fire teams.

    Good advice from Vaughn here: "In an agency like NASA or the Forest Service, where people's lives are on the line, top administrators' response to this political mandate (downsizing) should seriously weigh proposed changes, bring in consultants, and take seriously the views of experienced personnel at all levels. Avoid (and actively resist) those changes that have direct or indirect implications for safety."
Hmmmm . . . . . <thought interrupted by silence> . . . . . Mellie
03/04 Nomad,

I am having a hard time with your statement about risk EVASION vs.
MITIGATION. We should evade risk as much as possible, any other philosophy
puts people in harms way, Hazard Pay or not. I don't have to mitigate
anything that I am not exposing myself or my crew to.

One way of evading risk in the air operations is following the air
operations, missions check list and watchouts (pages 43 and 44) "Incident
Response Pocket Guide". "Just say no" to unnecessary missions.

Too may times we are asking for air support when there are other options or
the mission is going to be totally ineffective (trying to stop a head fire
in timber with retardant). Ask yourself, is the mission essential, is
there another way to do it besides using aircraft? Turn the aircraft off
when you are done with them and turn them around when you don't really need
them.

Your comment about Hotshots and others being able to "beat feet" in the
worst case scenario is too bogus to spend much time addressing. When was
the last time you looked over the South Canyon report, or studied any other
fatality fires involving crews?

Evade risk when you can, otherwise mitigate it using all the risk
management tools at your disposal including, the Turn Down Protocol. Stop
accepting unnecessary missions and assignments. If someone asks you to
do something stupid (unsafe), disengage until you can figure out a better
(safe) way to accomplish the job.

Backburnfs
03/04 I've been reading this forum for a while now -- it's always informative and enlightening. Here are the details on Paul Gleason's California Memorial Service:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The service will be held at the El Cariso County Regional Park in Sylmar,
California
. This is off the I-210 freeway northwest of Pasadena,
California. The date is Saturday, March 15. For those that may choose
to fly in, nearest commercial airports include Los Angeles, Ontario, and
Orange County. Please note the attached links for map and hotel info below.

The service will start at 1200 hours and last until 1400 hours. Knowing
Paul, he would not expect you to get all dressed up for the service. He would
be pleased to see Hotshots in their T Shirts. Paul lived for the outdoors
and accordingly, this service is outdoors. Spring weather in Southern
California can include rain. Seating will not be provided. Please come prepared.
There is a fund for contributions to Colorado State University being established,
so please plan on that rather than sending or bringing flowers.

Should you feel the need to write a story about a memory of Paul, Karen
Gleason is collecting them and will possibly put together some sort of
compilation. For now, we will collect these cards and letters at the
memorial and she will provide us with an address to send info to in the
near future if you cannot attend.

The California Hotshot Steering Committee is the point of contact for the
planning of the this memorial service. Jeff Koenig is the IC (909) 383-5567.

(See attached links for travel maps to the park, airports, and lodging)

yahoo map
http://losangeles.calhotels.us/santaclarita.html
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks for the post,
Arrowhead Cook

Our pleasure. Thanks for the info. If the yahoo map link doesn't work for you, here is a link to MapQuest on the links page. Put in your own starting point. The final destination is the park: 13100 Hubbard St, Sylmar, CA 91342-3304.
Ab.

03/04 Hey All,

With comments on the Blue Ribbon Panel Report, let me add this.
Those wanting to help out the AirTanker community with achieving PSOB benefits should be reading the posts on the AAP message board. There's info on what you can do to write letters and how to follow the progress of the Bill and there's Jim Barnes thank you note to the CDFers and others who have helped so much. There's also a history page and FAQs about the effort, as well as info on Cubin (WY) kicking things off and introducing the Bill in the House of Reps.

AL
03/04 RE: J's comments and the Blue Ribbon,

You know, one thing that I think either a lot of people have either misinterpreted or the authors of the Blue Ribbon Report have got wrong is the implication of choice- can we really say, "No, we're not going to fight this fire. We don't have enough resources available this summer. See ya guys." The answer has to do with J's "more with less" commentary. Really, the reality is not so black and white on the ground level.

While the Blue Ribbon report referred to the Forest Service's culture as a whole, the fact is that what they're really talking about is the fire aviation community, a relatively small but important sect of the whole fire management organization. And their point is well taken- cutting corners when it comes to flying airplanes gets people killed. If your airplane fails, you die. But if your chainsaw fails or your pulaski breaks, you bitch and moan and go to supply the next day and maybe you don't punch in that last section of line as quickly as you wanted to. But doing more with less on a groundpounder level is sort of okay. It's a matter of efficiency rather than safety, at least in the immediate life or death sense. But in the air, you are beholden to your equipment in a way that ground crews are not and will never be. Worse comes to worst, a hotshot can always beat feet. Pilots do not have that option.

My point here is just to be wary of the context in which you view excerpts of the Blue Ribbon Report. Things that are okay on the ground are often not okay in the air, and things that are not okay in the air may be acceptable on the ground. Case in point- work/rest guidelines. Pilots need their sleep- period. If they violate work-rest guidelines, they don't fly, simple as that. But if an engine company or a hand crew is a few hours short on sleep, well that's acceptable as long as it doesn't happen all the time or to some extreme degree. And before anybody jumps on my case, yes i know what happened with the Entiat crew at 30-mile. My point is just a general one- the rules on the ground are more malleable than the rules in the air. The stakes get higher as you gain altitude.

And in regards to the Forest Service's "can do" attitude, here's my two cents- Federal Land Management agencies don't just have "can do" attitudes for nothing. The public mandates that we "must do" something about wildfires. Managers adjust the aggressiveness of their strategies depending on the resources they have on hand, but no matter what, the job has still got to be done. Safety first, yeah, but we don't get hazard pay for nothin.'

In an ideal world there'd be no falling rocks, rotten snags, or downhill line construction. That world may exist, but don't expect to get dispatched there anytime soon. Risk MITIGATION, not risk evasion, is the game we play.

Doin' the best I can with what I got.
The Nomad
03/03 This is the announcement for Paul's Colorado service.

The service will be held at the Lookout Mountain Community Church off I-70
west of Denver CO. Please note the attached maps. Date is Saturday March 8.
Doors will open about 1000 with the program starting at 1030. It will last
till noon.

We are working on setting up a fund for contributions to Colorado State
University, so please plan that rather than sending or bringing flowers.

Please do not bring fire trucks or other apparatus to the church. Their
parking lot will not support all the weight and there will not be a
procession.

Knowing Paul, I would not think he would expect you to get all dressed up
for the service. He would be pleased to see hot shots in their T Shirts.

Also, for your information, there will be another national memorial service
held on March 15 (I think. Please wait till you hear more details before
you make travel plans) at the El Cariso State Park outside of Los Angeles
near the site of the Loop Fire. I believe they are planning the service to
be similar to the one here, including start time of sometime in the
morning. Contact for this service is Jim Cook in Boise. (See post above for
more info and the local contact person.)


Should you feel the need to write a story about a memory of Paul, Karen
Gleason is collecting them and possibly will put together some sort of
compilation. For now, we will collect these cards and letters at the memorials
and I assume she will let us know an address to send to in the near future.

P

Ab Note: The MapQuest attachment didn't come through. There is a link to MapQuest on the links page. Put in your own starting point. The final destination is 534 Commons Dr, Golden, CO 80401-5705 US. It's about a 15 minute drive from Lakewood CO.
03/03 Ab,

I think you and DM did a disservice to Big J by jumping on his case. I
understand the point that you and DM were trying to make. I'm not so sure
you understood Big J's point.

I believe Big J was trying to say that culture affects wildland firefighter
safety in ways that are sometimes insidious and difficult to detect. Big
J's quote wasn't just made up by a "dumb ol' reporter" (no insult intended,
reporters sometimes get it right), but came from the Blue Ribbon Report on
Federal Aerial Firefighting. Now, I don't agree with everything in the Blue
Ribbon Report, but I think it is worthwhile to read the report and consider
the implications for aerial and ground-based wildland firefighting
resources.

Here are a few other quotes from the Blue Ribbon Report:

"The presentation of land management agencies' requirements and priorities,
including the aviation program, to obtain appropriate funding is clouded by
agency cultures. This results in appropriations that are based on what the
agencies have been able to justify for predicted activities. Large
supplementary appropriations, typically triggered when fires grow to a
certain size, suggest that the base funding profile is insufficient to
control fires, while too much funding is devoted to the control of escaped
wildland fires."

"The apparent, but possibly illusory, reality that funding is never
sufficient has bred a culture that accommodates risk in aerial firefighting
activities."

"A culture that emphasizes cost-efficiency has also created an admirable,
but hazardous, "can-do" ethos that pervades firefighting aviation.
Unwittingly, the Forest Service has exploited the passion and willingness
of its firefighters to do more with less. But this approach fails to
confront an incompatibility with safe aviation, considering cost when there
is not a clear understanding of the effects that result from apparent
savings. A cost emphasis also sends strong signals to operators and
supervisors to encourage and reward a "can-do" attitude, despite a shortage
of resources or having to compromise safety. As one regional aviation
officer commented, "We are captured by our own success; we always manage to
find a way.""

"Firefighters have become almost completely reactive by accepting shortages
as a standard way-of-life. This leads pilots and other firefighters to take
more shortcuts and risks every season."

"Shifting from a "can-do" culture based on chronic shortages to practices
based on viewing fire emergencies as a "business," where sustainable
performance replaces crisis management, would seem to enhance overall air
operations safety. Management attention can alter "can-do" attitudes and
foster a more effective, safer culture."

"Pilots have sarcastically referred to this cost-focus philosophy as
"budget protection" rather than "fire protection." In contrast, a Canadian
philosophy states, "We can't spend too much the first day [of a fire],"
seems to justify spending money on early containment of a fire, and doing
so in an operationally effective way that minimizes the number of escaped
fires. In the long run, the Canadians believe that they spend far less for
a quick-response capability designed to contain small fires than they do to
fight fires after they grow large."

Ab and DM, I doubt that either of you would disagree that the best way to
keep exposure low and people safe is to attack a new start with
well-trained, well-equipped, and physically fit firefighters before the
fire has a chance to grow. And I think we can all agree that reduced
budgets will impact our ability to do that.

On two occasions in the past three months, I have listened to senior fire
managers state that this year's fire budget will be drastically cut, that
upper management is dissatisfied with the perceived lack of aggressiveness
displayed on some fires last year (Biscuit was one of them), and that an
emphasis on initial attack is one of management's goals this year. I know
that their intent was to use resources more appropriately and inspire
middle managers to keep fires small. But that message could also be
interpreted as "do more with less."

Like I said, I don't agree with all of the Blue Ribbon Report. But it
should make us reflect upon the fact that a very distinguished panel of
safety experts feels that we have some enormous blind spots when it comes
to firefighter safety. I think that is what Big J was trying to say. Let's
not stifle debate on such an important matter.

BBTBDC

Good quotes.... Stifle debate? I don't think that's possible with all the adrenalin reporting for duty that occurs here on a regular basis.

I didn't jump on Big J's case and I understand what he or she is saying. We say it here often and always appreciate anyone reiterating that reduced resources often leads to a "culture" that does not put safety first. Trickle down effects on firefighting culture... potentially deadly.

Where I am coming from are the Blue Ribbon Panel Report and the Safety Alert regarding reduced aerial resources, posted on 2/22. On the ground, we must continue to fight fire as safely as possible, adjusting our tactics to account for fewer airtankers even if homes and forest burn. Less aerial support - having only 3/4 of the airtankers or less - is a BIG change. However, this is not the Forest Service saying we have to do more with less, this is the President (and the Congress?) saying there will be less funding, probably including less funding to replace aging aircraft. (Competitive outsourcing, privatizing government, may be as dumb as a box of hammers, but that's another topic.) Right now the tankers are grounded and being inspected for the safety of their crews. This next season as the adrenalin flows we must guard against fallacious thinking that we must do more. I am saying that the "bosses" Big J talks about must continue to put safe tactics first 'cause those in Washington probably are not budgeting for safety.

There's a meeting going on now, topics are air resources and the direction/plan for the aerial offensive. Perhaps by the end of the week someone from that meeting will write in and tell us more about what will be available, where and when. Ab.

03/03 Before people get all uptight about Big J's article, think about what it is saying. It was not saying the Forest Service tells people to do the job unsafely, but because of cost cuts and resource shortages that is the result, we all want to perform and often we don't have the tools we need to do it right. All fire agencies have this problem, we know what we need but even when we don't get it, we get the job done anyway. Last year CDF ran side by side comparisons between 3 person engines and 4 person engines, a 4 person engine company was able to complete a hose lay in almost 1/2 the time. CDF is still running many 3 person engines. NFPA did a similar comparison while writing 1710. Standard fireground evolutions were conducted, at the conclusion of the task the crews were assessed, 3 person companies were exhausted and incapable of continued safe operation, 4 person companies were nearing exhaustion, 5 person companies were ready for more work. The majority of fire departments run 3 people on an engine, some only run 2. Some of the larger or more progressive agencies run 4, only a handful of the busiest run 5. That is a safety issue, but the job gets done anyway and most of the time no one gets killed.

The Federal wildland agencies have been funded and 60-70% for years, finally 100% came down and that already looks like it is going to be gone. Look how many resources were out there however briefly, and look how we have learned our business, almost all of us have learned to fight fire understaffed and under funded to the point most of us don't even realize it. Next time you fight a fire and 4 type 2 crews are working where 6 IHC's would normally be, you are making do; that is not the safest way to go, having enough IHC crews would be the safest, using Type 2 crews is a calculated risk. Sure you will (or at least should) adjust your tactics to the crews ability but that is not the samething as having your most experienced crews out on the line making those decisions.

The fire service is notorious for getting the job done despite the obstacles we face, that is one of the aspects people admire about firefighters. We also continue to get new job requirements on top of the old, sometimes we get these assignments without the proper training but it still needs to be done because no one else is going to do it. The fact people were complaining that they didn't know what to do with all the extra Mel crews (joking or not) and that people don't like to turn down assignments that are not perfectly suited to their resources is exactly what that article is referring to. To most of us working short handed, or with obsolete equipment, or working 20 hours to get the line tied in is just how the job is done. It is to the point that walking away because we don't have the ideal situation is unthinkable to most of us. That is different from turning down an assignment do to more tangeable hazards such as working in a saddle, or an area with poor escape routes because those kinds of things are not the accepted standard which makes it easier to look at your 10/18, and say I'm not doing that.

You don't have to agree with me but I don't find that much to disagree with BigJ's interpretation of it. I didn't take it as an insult or an accusation of the Forest Service or the fire service as a whole more just a statement of our unconscious acceptance of the situation. It is kind of funny if you think about it without the human cost, we fight fires with aircraft that are too old to be useful for anything else except putting them in a museum. In fact some of the loudest critics are those who want the PBY4's made into museum pieces before they are all gone.

Just something to think about before the defense mechanisms kick in
Fedfire
03/03 Ab, as I read Big J's post I was formulating a quick and heated response,
but you handled it with your normal eloquence.

50 push-up rookie mistake for believing what is written in a news report
about our business. Assume the front leaning rest position Big J....

DM
03/02 Hey Frosty,

Just read your post with the reference to Palestine. Have you had a chance to eat at Coffee Landing??? One of my favorite stops when I get in that neck of the woods.

crisp triggers
shooter
03/02 I was just reading an article on the web about the C-130 crash in Walker, Ca. last season, and I came upon a quote that should be in the back of our minds as crew members, but especially as module leaders......

"Unwittingly, the Forest Service has exploited the passion and willingness of its firefighters to do more with less."

It's true this coming season, and for seasons to come. Budget cuts, outsourcing, lack of large tankers, and other factors (most seemingly related to the almighty dollar) have left us with less than adequate means of doing our job while maximizing safety and efficiency. So now with that being said we are expected to make up for what we are lacking with less people and fewer resources, but we do, and we will continue to, because we love our job. I think that quote means a lot. Take from it what you will, but the great thing about this job is that we can learn so much from others......... I just hope all of our bosses are not to the point where they think their time to learn and change is over.

Big J

Here's the article from the firenews page, airtanker current events category:
www.rgj.com

Big J, the Forest Service, BLM, NPS, CDF etc does not require us to do more with less if that is unsafe. For professionals, firefighting tactics must match resource reality. Forest and homes may burn that wouldn't have with more or different resources, but my first responsibility is to safety of firefighters on the ground and my tactics, given resources at hand, should reflect that. Ab.
03/02 Ab,

I am an experienced Seasonal Fire Grunt frustrated with the way government
executes its fire suppression. I know very little about the private side
but am very interested in pursuing a career if I could find more info.
Could you please send or point my fire eyes in the right direction.

Thank You,
Smoke
03/01 Hi to all,

Working the space shuttle disaster here in Texas, weather has been a
problem but we are flying when we can. Some of the missing pieces are
being found and hopefully some of the questions are being answered.
Lots of type 3 helicopters being used here and lots of hobbs time adding
up. Also, lots of security being being imposed so there is little I can
add except the exposure is great and the limitations are stacking up
faster than hot cakes on a Texas griddle. In a couple of weeks the
trees will hide the evidence from the aerial observers and our mission
will be over, but the folks here in Texas will not be forgotten, many
thanks to Jim Austin here in Palestine for his support and hospitality.
Truly one of the lifetime assignments that will never be forgotten.
God bless the ones that flew and the ones that are still flying.

Best regards,
Frosty
03/01 Are there any current Power Points for recruitment of potential Firefighters explaining and showing what can be expected on the job? If anyone has put one together and would like to share, it would be appreciated.

trying to help a friend out, thanks,
chog
03/01 The firejobs page is updated as well as Series 462 and 455. Arroyo Grande Flight Crew has a GS-06 18/8 Helishot Squadboss position open. Deadline 3/18. Ab..
 

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