"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
April, 2003

Home of the Wildland FireFighter

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04/30 Mollysboy;

Maybe it's more like a neighboring clan or tribe coming in to help defend the homeland.

TB
04/30 Regarding "retired L.A.V.E.s" comments about A/T dropping on large fire entrapments: most of the entrapments have occurred on the I.A. and extended I.A. fires instead of the large monsters. Also, not too much evidence that retardant drops made a difference when used on entrapments.

I'll be more interested in the public, politicians and media's response to homes burning down in the bigger fires when the A/T's (probably correctly) sit on the ground. We've created a perception that the A/T's are like the Cavalry of old, riding in to save the sod-busters from the Indian warriors.......and forgot to tell the public/politicians/media about the force of Mother Nature!

But, with fewer A/T's available....just another reason to be careful and exercise entrapment avoidance rather than depending on fire shelters and A/T's to save our butts.

Mollysboy
04/30 L.A.V.E.

To answer your question about airtankers: "are the tankers NOT available
for emergency drops, such a entrapments or shelter deployments?"

Of course not. Or, to sort out the double negative, tankers WILL be
available for emergency drops, not just entrapments or deployments, but
also to save homes and "valuable" improvements. The priorities - safety of
the public and firefighters - haven't changed.

But large fires will probably not be allowed to use tankers to put in
retardant line where the values protected are minimal (or even moderate
resource values), and I think most of us know what that's about. Many
large fires have kept airtankers flying all day - when there aren't other
fires of higher priority - building retardant line on unstaffed sections of
fire.

One scenario that will be interesting is direct large airtanker support for
crews putting in line on large fires. I think there will be a lot of
"discussion" about that between MAC groups and units/ICs. Theoretically
though, there would be large helicopter support for those cases. We'll
see.

Bottom line, the national fire directors want less flight time on large
airtankers to save wear and tear on flight crews and airframes, the idea
being that there are a lot of values out there on large fires that aren't
worth airtankers' crews' lives. But no one should interpret that to not
providing life-protecting air support. And while I'm at it, if an IC/unit
thinks they need a large airtanker for whatever reason, then they should
order it, instead of trying to figure out whether their interpretation of
the new airtanker policy is correct. Then let someone at a higher level
make the call.

At least that's what I think.

BLM Bob
04/30 If you lose air tankers when a fire goes from initial attack to
campaign fire, then are the tankers NOT available for emergency
drops, such a entrapments or shelter deployments?

Will the helicopters be substituted and used for the emergency
drops for such situations?

What about when the winds shift and a dormant section of fire
heats up, sometimes a retardant drop could save the day?

Just thinking out loud, I'm sure other folks have the same kind of
questions.

Retired L.A.V.E.
04/30 Hello, Everyone,

"Looks like fire season starts . . . tomorrow," his voice crackled across the
miles and landed in my message machine. "Probably won't be calling in for 21
days." He's expecting a busy--but safe--season. So do we all.

I'm looking forward to your daily, generous gifts--when firefighters and
their friends and families share information, experiences, ideas, and
encouragement. I'll be reading your posts, eager to catch up with your
doings.

Shot's Mom

Glad yer with us. Ab.
04/30 AXE,

It's not so much the shortage of tenders, as the shortage of tankers. Or, more specifically, the policy that whatever heavy air tankers are cleared to fly will be reserved for initial attack.

Which means we're doubly screwed when our fire goes to transition. Not only have our original efforts failed, but in addition we are punished for our failure by losing the air support we might have had.

However ineffective additional airdrops might be at that point, they are still the most visible display to the public that there is an aggressive fire attack. Either we come up with something to replace that, or the media reports and the coffeeshop talk will be about what a miserable excuse for a department we have.

I'd rather have them saying "you know, those concrete trucks weren't a bad idea" and giving us credit for trying our best to make a stop. Who knows - maybe we can even keep it from blowing up to a type 2? For the local fire units, Smokey's slogan could well be, "Remember....only you can prevent national mobilization."

Page 12 of the fireline handbook says quite simply to "plan for ample water supply - request water tenders as needed." That other tactic of "use water sparingly" is something to do when the crews hike in to the fire.

For those who are still skeptical - all it takes is a phone call, to set up a demonstration with the concrete truck nearest you.

vfd cap'n
04/30 If I missed this in a previous post please disregard, but to me this is big news:

10 standard orders:
www.nwcg.gov/teams/shwt/NWCGStdFFOrders.pdf

New is not necessarily better.

Captain 180
04/30 J.McClure,

What are your qualifications and past work experience
if any? Alot of Forest have picked up their seasonal's,
but after the first two weeks of critical training we will
see people bail out.

Like AB has stated, keep making those phone calls and
go in to your local Forest and introduce yourself. Hope
is still alive..

R5-Recruiter
04/29 With the massive shortage of Water Tenders this year,
it sounds like we all in contracting should build as
many water tenders as we can.

I think I'm going to purchase a concrete truck
tomorrow. Where should I send it for use?

Contact AB for my email address for the resource order
information. Feel free to request a water tender,
too.

AXE

Snicker, maybe you should be haulin' that instant water we learned about several years ago. Good stuff, and a cement mixer seems perfect for mixing it. Ab.
04/29 The Jobs Page, Series 462 and Series 455 are updated. Ab.
04/29 hello,

we are spanish forest fireman and we´d like to know if it would
be possible to send you our forest fire photos.

thanks
Pablo Doval

Muchos agradecen. Yo los recibí sin problema. Presenté sus fotos en el Helicópteros 10, los Fuego 16, y foto de Logos 8 paginan. Abercrombie.
04/29 Ab,

Attached is the photo of Tipover Tank, from Grand Canyon National Park, made famous
in Stephen J. Pyne's book "Fire on the Rim".

I'm also sending along another photo you might be able to use. This one
is from the Leroux fire near Flagstaff, Arizona in June 2001, of an air
tanker dropping slurry.

- Bum Pup

Thanks, I put them on the Miscellaneous 2 and the Fire 16 photo pages. Abercrombie.
04/29 NorCalTom:

Thanks for explaining where the 35% figure came from. I don't know how IT can become leaner, at least on our Forest. Each district person is working two districts, as well as other duties, e.g. fire assignments. However, they still manage to give good service, and do it with a smile!

The same applies to other areas, such as trails (which is strictly volunteer with some FS supervision). We also have zone wildlife biologists, who often work 60 hour weeks without compensation to keep up with their insane work load. Fire is about the only discipline that is not horribly understaffed, at least for now.

And we're required to take a 35% cut to reach a more efficient organization? This is beyond ridiculous.

Treehggr
04/29 Hey Abs,

I've been applying for jobs this season as a Wildland Firefighter with BLM and USFS. I've heard that they have already picked out those that will be on this years crews. Do you know if this is true? Am I S.O.L. as far as getting a job this summer? Thanks for your time.

J. McClure

NorCal is still working on hiring. Keep making those phone calls and putting your face in where you're interested in working. Ab.
04/29 Firehorse;

It is required by the Federal agencies; the State I work
for requires it also. Hopefully it is required by all agencies
& Contract Companies.

TB
04/29 Hi Abs,

I am occasional poster, and chatter. I am a full time DOD Fire Engineer for
a Highly Wildland Oriented Fire Dept.
We provide full emergency services for the 165K post, and support the local
communities and Forest. With all the talk of "out sourcing"
in the Land Management Agencies. I thought I might share some equally
unpleasant news that affects the DOD Fire Service. Since the early 80's
there has been a "ban" on contracting out Security and Firefighting services
on military bases with some exceptions to bases with existing service
contracts when the ban went into effect. (section 2465 of title 10, United
States Code) A new piece of legislation has been introduced called the
"Defense Transformation for the 21'st Century Act." This 207 page
legislation proposal seeks to allow a broad range of changes to the DOD,
including more contracting, and to fully repeal section 2465 of title 10. If
title 10 were replied it would allow for "For profit" private companies the
ability to take over Public- Professional Civil Service Fire Protection.

If DOD gets the this legislation passed, the ramifications are pretty obvious.
I understand that theory behind the outsourcing is that the govt. should not
compete with the "private sector" for jobs. But since when is the Fire
Service a private sector function? (Except in Arizona) If the Dept Of
Defense does not want to maintain an in house Fire Service because of costs,
what's to say this example wont filter down do your local state, county or
city Fire Dept. I got into the fire service because of what being a
Firefighter stood for, and have always felt honored to be able to protect
the tax payers assets of our nation. I never thought Stock options and
profit margin would figure into my Career. Hope it doesn't

I have no problem with contractors who can provide a service that the govt.
cant, or provide extra forces because of draw down. When you see the
possibility of the DOD equivalent to a Class 1 Fire dept go private. The
fire service as a whole is at risk.

Airport Baggage Screening/Security= Federal Employees
Federal Fire Services=?

How fast "they" forget about the attack on the pentagon.. Took out the fire
station..

Josh
FHL
04/29 Check these out, this outsourcing stuff is has been going on in Australia
and other places for years.

Most of these articles deal with IT but I could see how they relate to the
current discussion.

www.washingtontechnology.com/news/1_1/daily_news/17859-1.phpl
darlug.org/pipermail/darlug/2002-September/000015.phpl
www.zdnet.com.au/newstech/enterprise/story/0,2000048640,20260132,00.php
www.cpsu.org/media/oct97/it201097.php
flag.blackened.net/pipermail/infoshop-news/2001-November/000245.phpl
www.gnp.org/privatizing.php

"Think Globally" and we will all be living in cardboard boxes.

Backburnfs

Looks like the Aussies and others haven't liked what they've gotten with the outsourcing process. "Ya don't know what you've got til it's gone..." Ab.
04/29 Aussie on concrete trucks:

Abs,

We first got to use concrete trucks in the big fires of 1994. We had the
same initial problem of "how do you get the water?". Problem was solved by
taking the portable pump from the truck (all our rural units have them) then
pump the water from the mixing barrel to the top fill on the tank. Since
then we've used them a fair bit on airbase operations to mix retardant (sure
nothing new to your lot), but they can be set up with a buoywall
(collapsible dam?) which you keep running the cement trucks to dump their
load in to that. If all else fails (which it did initially in 1994), get
the concrete trucks simply to emply their water down the hill towards the
fire!!!!

Cheers

OB
Expect the best. Prepare for the worst
04/28 Hi there -- sometime back there was a post asking for a good working helitorch photo. Am attaching one -- this was taken by Kari Brown Greer -- a professional photographer that contracts out of NIFC and is married to the Pike IHC Sup. She used the photo on thank you cards for her wedding shower -- pure class in my book! I'm sure she has a whole houseful of great photos. She can be reached through external affairs at NIFC. Hope the scan does justice to her work.

Cache Queen

Spec'tacular. I put it on the Helicopters 10 photo page and am letting the Canadian Geographic folks know. Viewers, click on the Night Torch thumbnail for a real treat. Ab.
04/28 My prayers go out to Mark Morgan's family.

With the deaths we seem to be having while taking the pack test, is it time to require an ALS ambulance to be in attendance?

Firehorse
04/28 This is my "humble" opinion on this. I don't know too much about the outsourcing details, but from a contracting aspect it is obviously good. I do understand why feds, state, blm ect. are upset about this for some of there jobs are on the line. However, to say that it is not going to save the tax payers money isn't a true statement for the whole.

It costs the forest service roughly $500,000 a summer, excluding fire money to support, train and employ a hot shot crew. A national contract crew can operate , in the same time frame, with almost the same experiance for close to $100,000 not including fire money. To me, this seems like a lot of savings just for one crew.

These may not be exact numbers, but I do know that they are close. Now as someone said, contracting does have its place, your right, but for the federal government to be competative with contracting bids, they would have to increase wages across the board and lower operating costs. Which I dont see happening and I think many would agree.

I am an ex stater and I can tell you that comparing the two worlds, agency and contract, both have there positives and negatives. Agency, wherever you go, your pretty much respected regarless of where your from. Where as contract, you have to dig your heels in and earn it, some times never happening. However, agency doesnt have the dollars to pay where as contracting does. A little example of this, when I went from agency to contract, I recieved $8 more an hour then what I did the season before and made roughly 10k more that summer then any other summer.

One last point. I don't agree with the public would suffer statement. I know whole heartedly that a lot of contractors out there care nothing more then to look and act professional and be respected as such on fires and emergancies. They know that the better they look to the agencies and public, the more work they can get. To show how well this actually works, where I am from there is an entire county ( roughly 100,000 people ) that are protected by "contract city firefighters" . This company has the most well trained firefighters in the state and are respected by other departments as such. They have had no problems in the 10+ years of service. The county and city's that are involved save money and are well protected.

MUR
04/28 Sounds like some are really ready to blame the current administration for
all our problems including outsourcing (contracting). I sat through the
local presentation last week and the NFFE (union) rep said this started in
the last administration but everyone thought it would just go away, so it
sat on the WO's desks until the 2003 deadline came up and then they said
"Oh crap this is really happening and we have to have the 15% study done
this year." So you see (if the above is actually true) it doesn't really
matter who is in power, they are all run by the $. Some are just more up
front than others about it. They also said that the staff positions and
Human Resources folks are "Intrin-Sickly Governmental" big surprise there.

I wonder if OPM is mandating that their positions be contracted out. Any
bets on that one.

Oh yea, did any one else read the article about Portal to Portal 24 hour
pay in the latest Fire Mgt Notes. That will cheer you up.

Backburnfs
04/28 Ab,

We have a 450 acre brush fire along the shores of Lake Michigan
north of Chicago. Must be the day of brush fires near the Great
Lakes. If they had happened a little later after the veg had greened
up, they wouldn't be burning like this. But hey it always burns for
some reason that keeps it from burning in another season... Nature.
Dont you love it!

Sal
04/28 Treehggr,

Lunch break...
The 35% reduction in force is what we were told we had to do to try to become competitive with contractors. So what happens first in creating the "Most Efficient Organization" is that the "function" or "group" being study must cut of 1/3 of their force. The 2/3 that remain then become the "Most Efficient Organization" against which the contractor will bid, this is the sword that hangs over our heads. We're told "Cut 35% of the people, then you can bid" and out of fear that we might loose the bid, we cut and cut. Strange.

Where did they get that percentage? That was the % that the "successful" DOD groups used to become "competitive" in their outsourcing process. DOD is our model and experience with this process. The only thing is that when DOD did it, that agency had not slimmed down and cut back to the extent that the FS has already done. In our case, trimming by that much more in addition to other cuts made over the last 10 years will reduce many services the public expects.

Many FS people including firefighters feel that we have been through more than 10 years of trying to do more with less. Any wonder why there's resentment by some firefighters that we're also asked to do FEMA and Homeland Security in addition to everything else?

OK, so say we win the particular bid. The public does not understand that even if the inhouse or existing FS group wins the competition, the services the public will receive is going to decrease by at least 1/3 as people are RIFed, encouraged to retire, etc.

I hate to think what that will mean with respect to IT services. Those techies are strapped with overwork and are underpaid already. But if you ask them to do even more with less, many might just jump to the public sector where they can earn more money and get some respect.

I do believe that contracting has its place. We have already been doing that as it seems reasonable. But as recent articles posted today show, privatizing government as per the Bush plan is not going to save the American taxpayer much money. It is likely to cost more, and reduce competition over the long run. I think service to our Publics will suffer. I also think if fire is outsourced, American Security will suffer.

NorCal Tom
04/28 AB and All,
Just wanted to pass along the bad news that the North Carolina Forest Service lost one of it's own today at the pack test. Mark Morgan had just completed the test when he collapsed. He was in his mid thirties and had completed the test in under forty minutes.

If everyone would please keep him and his family in their thoughts and prayers.

-NCCrew

I will. Ab.
04/28 There's a HUGE brush fire burning flashy and hot out of control on the eastern outskirts of Cleveland Ohio (near Mentor). Threatening homes and livelihoods. The structure protection ff are doing a good job of knocking it down as it approaches homes.

Ohio FF
04/28 Ab,

Here's the corrected address for your sitemap link to the index of the Thirtymile Fire investigation findings: http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/investigations/30mile/index.phpl

At the bottom of that page they list a variety of documents as "background information." There's a one-page .pdf file titled, "Comparisons of Water Delivery Options" that explores the relative insignificance of the 5-hour delay in putting the helicopter in service. (http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/investigations/30mile/8A_waterdrop_options.pdf )

Even as good as I think the concrete trucks will work in certain situations, my first preference is to be able to develop a nearby water source. Several trucks traveling much distance at all would have a hard time keeping up with a working Mark III, let alone one of our 500-gpm portables.

Something else to think about - page 27 of the Thirtymile report, Equipment Findings section states: "The hose layout (e.g., arrangement, size of hoses, and pressure reducers) was not conducive to optimal water operations, and limited the amount of water that the crew applied to the fire."

If you're looking for a good assignment when the volunteer fire department shows up, put 'em to work dragging their 2 1/2" hose and fittings around the fire to get rid of the pressure loss. They may not know the first thing about wildland tactics, but most are pretty competent with water supply.

vfd cap'n

I corrected that link. Ab.
04/28 The "Missoulian" in Montana has a good write-up on competitive sourcing and the NPS at Glacier Park. www.missoulian.com

They mention also that the Army Corps of Engineers, who just awarded the mega-billion $$ contract to Halliburton for "emergency work" in Iraq, has been EXEMPTED from the Competitive sourcing studies!

Dick Mangan

So now the Army Corps of Engineers is considered "Essentially Governmental"? Hmmmmmm. Ab.
04/28 Regarding some of the latest posts on outsourcing:

(1) "The Forest Service welcomes the opportunity to improve its organization". Moving to contractors is an improvement? On behalf of all hardworking fed employees - thanks.

(2) "We can expect up to a 35% cost reduction in the work activities studied". Wait a minute - if fed employees are proven to be more cost effective, doesn't this mean that costs remain the same? Also, where's the background source for this very significant assumption, or does this figure fall under the "lies, damn lies, and statistics" category?

(3) Out of curiosity, I wonder how the program will handle items like our Forest trails program which, with the exception of one part time FS employee, is staffed entirely by volunteers. Does this mean the program actually has to get funding so that contractors will be interested?

Treehggr
04/28 Here are some more fire slang for the collection:

Vibram Shuffle - building line dragging by your boots (see boot scruff)

Boom-boom & Wham-whams - CDF term for all the extra goodies out of fire lunches that can be shared with the "hoods in the woods" as a reward for good behavior

Blue Sauna - as in "I'm gonna go take a blue sauna now." It is normally about 115 degrees in the porta-potty!

Red Army Wife

Thanks, I like the Vibram Shuffle. I put them on the Fire Terms/ Nicks/ Slang page. Ab.
04/28 Ab,

The list of suggestions for the GACC web site looks incomplete to me. I know I did make a few more suggestions at that chat. Any more items to add to that? I know you're busy.

JKW

You're right J. I do need to go through notes and e-mails to flesh out the GACC Web Suggestion list. D wrote in asking for a check on the site she's working on. I will try to get to that asap.

Readers, if you have any more suggestions for what functions an IDEAL GACC Website would have, please send them in. Now is the chance.

Ab.

04/28 Here's a link to the SB mountains dead trees issue from Sunday's Sacramento Bee:

www.sacbee.com/content/opinion/forum/story/6526809p-7477499c.phpl

SM

What a FINE and thoughtful article. Here's the picture of the 80% beetlekill we're up against - the brown trees with the white homes in'between. Arrowhead. Ab.
04/27 Re cement truck/alternate tender:

Just to add to what pulaski stated on 4/26. My rural
department will send a Main Line engine, with a 1750
GPM pump, to a water source and fill tenders two (2)
at a time. We have installed several 10" draft
hydrants to make this easier at times, but most often
we just draft straight from the source to the hydrant.
Just a little variable on how we do it here in
southern Wisconsin.

Truckie
04/26 On the cement truck/alternate tender issue.

I cant speak for the rest of the world, but in every rural fire dept I have
worked with, they are set up with a large "portable" pump unit dedicated to
fill their tenders on a fire. The units I have worked with have been on a
trailer, mounted on a pick-up or a drop off unit. The smallest I have seen
is a 500 gpm unit, but 750+ are more typical.

It wasnt always this way, but today all fire dept tenders have water pumping
capability, so when the poop is hitting the fan in an interface situation
they are used more as engines and not just as a tender. (...or "tanker" as
the structural service commonly calls them)

Keep in mind that the situation where we have used alternative tenders was
an extreme situation, where all fire resources in a several county area were
totally tapped out. As it is with most major fires here, if the equipment
is not going to get on scene w/in 4 hours at the very most it might as well
stay home. So contract equipment (or any other resources for that matter)
from far away isnt any help unless you want it for mop up the next day or
are going to have heavy staffing/suppression action through the night.

As someone stated the one big advantage to alternate tenders/water haulers
is that it frees up the true fire units to put the white stuff on the red
stuff.

Pulaski
04/26 To: The AntiOutsourcing and Abs,

The myth about outsourcing federal jobs is that it's meant to save tax
dollars. This is classic Orwellian "Freedom is slavery, war is peace"
newsspeak. Outsourcing is meant to reward the ones that bought the
current administration.

Register!
Vote!!

LBP
04/26 Abs: thanks for the forum

MTMOG:
Thanks for the info.
All of the ROSS data resides on a server in Denver. Two weeks ago they had a hardware failure when the system was down to perform upgrades and the whole thing stayed down for three days.

As to using a back-up long distance/internet provider, at least in my office, the IT folks say it is against security rules to use anything in the building but the network that is tied in with the DOI (I don't profess to understand how this works), but I would imagine the FS has the same kind of rules. In case of local failure the ROSS folks say to take laptops off site, but we just don't have the staff to do that, our IA folks do alot of the extended attack duties. I do agree we are stuck with it, and am trying to make it as workable as we can, but I see a huge wreck coming this summer.

KL
04/26 Al,

The Forest Service is taking steps to protect the citizens of the Arrowhead area. They have allowed many contracted loggers to reduce the problem around the homes. Last I heard the Forest Service was thinking about putting some of their engines on a 24 hour shift. That way if a fire broke out at night they could have a quicker response time to the incident. Many people believe that if a fire comes it would be at night when a strong Santa Ana is blowing from the NE.

Also, CDF is playing a major role in this as well. All winter they have been using their crews to help cut down the "red" trees. They first began trying to take them down around the houses, but when they saw how much larger scale the problem really was they switched to cutting down trees that threaten the highways. The idea being if there was a fire that the highways would remain clear for evacuation. CDF will be placing more engines up here then they did last season. I believe I heard a number of 9, but don't quote me on that figure. The engines will be stationed all across the mountain.

As for the homeowners and communities: Dead trees on their property are their responsibility. I did hear that you could be fined if you did not take care of the trees on your land, but am not sure on the exact details of it. The local, State, and Federal Agencies are doing a great job on trying to educate the public on this issue. There are always community meeting going on the make the citizens more aware of the situation.

My opinion about the possibilities of a fire are: The potential for a bad fire always exist everywhere during the season. The difference in Arrowhead is that the fuels are so dead that the fire will move quicker and hotter then it normally would. Whether we have a fire or not is the is up to mother nature (lightning), the fire bugs (arsonists), and the education of the public. If we can educate the public to be more aware about what they are doing and have more common sense then we can make it through this problem. I don't know how many times I'm driving in the mountains and see some one carelessly toss a cigarette out of their car.

Hope that can give you an idea on what's going on.

FFEric
04/26 BLM Bob, Cache King,

I thought I was the only one who noticed the "new standards". I am very disappointed in the standards. I was immediately struck by their force limiting and discriminatory potential.

My first concern is why the existing standard was not embraced. As it is currently we have a force who historically have done a great job. When given a chance/accommodated many individuals proved they have no limiting condition that does not allow them to perform 'the essential duties/functions of the job". In 28 years I have worked alongside amputees, hearing disabled, blind in one eye, colorblind, glasses wearing individuals- they all did the job. One guy had been born with misshapen hands (by some standards), he modified his gloves to fit and did the job. One colorblind guy I worked with couldn't see all the color differences I could, he was an excellent firefighter, now a cop.

As for municipal firefighters physical standards, I've been there too, and they are very discriminatory, and were used for years to limit women from the fire service.

One fire chief I worked for loved this neighboring Big FD, and hated it too. He was too short as a young man to be accepted.

Too cut it short, those jurisdictions with Unions have not had the opportunity to meet and confer on this for their members. Affected groups i.e.). Colorblind, or hearing aid users were not empanelled as experts to establish standards, the current fair standard was ignored, (based on reasonable accommodation). We have a diverse work group of all forms of disabilities doing the job, and doing it well.

And finally, in this litigious society what manager will risk his/her comfort to hire those who "may pose a risk to themselves or others" (that arbitrary and capricious term used by personnel to retire our wounded).

Been there.
DH
04/26 Updated the Jobs Page, as well as wildland firefighter jobs Series 462 and Series 455. Point Reyes in CA has an opening for a Rx Fire Specialist. Ab.
04/26 Hi Folks,
I worked as a the anti-programmer in a software development firm and as the systems administrator for a aerial remote sensing firm. All of which eventually drove me into contract fire suppression - anyway... I would guess that unless it's an utter failure (read fatalities attributed DIRECTLY to the software) that we are all stuck with it. Since this sounds like a web-based application I have a couple of questions, a couple of concerns and a couple of suggestions.

Is the application resident in only one location or is it mirrored on a number of different machines that are housed in different regions? Remember that while it's a "web" there are some very specific places that most traffic passes through and major communication trunks that it flows down - any of these can fail for any number of reasons. The web is a VERY volatile environment - backhoe interuptus, train derailments, and mud slides have all disrupted major fiber optic trunk lines in the northwest, etc. You might want to consider some type of redundant connectivity if you are a center that handles lots of situations - which can be as simple as having an extra line with a different long distance carrier, say one that routes out of your area to Denver and one that routes through Seattle.

Is the application strictly client/server where all records are maintained on the server or is there a thin client or agent resident on the Dispatchers box that maintains a copy of their records - this is basically a database after all? If the Dispatchers box does maintain records, have a talk with your systems administrator about small interval backups of the machine. If the box doesn't maintain records but it is your only hardware for accessing the application, consider the added redundancy of multiple drive RAID arrays - or at least copy the drive on a regular basis to a another disk that you can plug in if you have an actual mechanical failure.

Hope this helps a bit - fixing graphics like text on a button is easy, changing functionality in software written by a huge corporation with LOTS of coders will probably be a tough one. Man I hope it's not running on !@*&dows...

Stay Safe
MTMOG
04/26 ROSS (Excuse me while I tear my hair out)

In the last three years, I have been to three system admin trainings, the train the trainer training and the dispatcher training. This makes five weeks of wages and travel expenses for my agency, after we have been repeatedly assured it won't cost the agency anything. Our center needs several new computers and work stations to use ROSS, but it won't cost us anything!!

In the meantime, I agree with the previous posts, it is the most convoluted, circuitous computer program I have ever seen. I don't buy the "it will get better after you use it for awhile" bs. Before ROSS we counted how many computer programs a dispatcher already needs for a single fire (CAD, IAMS, GIS, 209, 1202, weather, SIT and more). Most dispatchers already have to be very computer literate. We shouldn't be treated like third graders trying to master their e-mail. If we say it won't work, somebody should be listening.

My big ROSS complaint this week is disaster recovery. If my system goes down, do those people really believe my neighbor or the GACC is going to have the time to take over my fire? Can you imagine changing dispatch centers in the middle of a large incident? The only thing we have been able to come up with is to print several times a day and if the system goes down, go with paper. If anyone has a better idea please share it.

In the meantime, I will have a positive attitude and try to make it work.

Don't call us for help this year, we'll probably have engines sitting in the station, but don't know if we'll have the staff and computers to be able to go thru the process of filling orders.

Sign Me
Logistics Coordinator
04/26 Ab thanks for the hard work and long hours you put in.

ROSS - went to a workshop this last week, and met one of the Lockheed Martin programmers. I know why theres problems, this guy knows nothing about fire! before he was working on DOD software for the Palladain Artillery System.

eric
04/26 In defense of ROSS

I attended ROSS training last week. I wasn't impressed because in Region 5 we
use MIRPS, but you have to look at the big picture. In a quick and dirty intro
to ROSS class, I learned to create and process resource orders. MIRPS uses
client/server technology and ROSS uses the internet. A client/server program
must be loaded on to each individual computer and you have to have local area
networks and maybe some dedicated lines. It's expensive. For Ross, all you
need is a computer and access to the internet to run it. You might be able to
run it from home after hours. Compared to MIRPS, I found ROSS harder to
navigate. I know there are Forest Service and dispatchers from other agencies
working with the programmers. I guess in a perfect world, you would have
dispatchers that know how to program in JAVA write the program.

ROSS is the first attempt to automate a process. It will eliminate a lot of
the faxing and phoning back and forth between the GACCS, NIFC, and the
communications centers. I worked at NIFC for 14 days last summer. I spent a
lot of time hunting for the resource order cards for the various fires. With
ROSS, any new program, there will be bugs and problems. Each
region has a Ross Coordinator. If you have any suggestions for making it
better, drop them an email.

Another R5 Dispatcher
04/26 Concrete Truck

Another side of this is if the truck can not draft, then who and how are they going to get water? They need to be supplied some how, tender maybe? Unless you had a very high pressure garden hose and a few hours. Not trying to be sarcastic here, but there a lot of logistics to be looked at if this is going to be a resource.

OK, personal story here, try not to laugh too hard every one. This was on a fire in Colorado last summer. For some reason one of our water tenders was a Rotor Router. It seemed fine, it could draft, hold a lot of water and get to wherever the overhead needed it to. HOWEVER, one thing they forgot to check upon check in. The owner never sanitized the tank. They flushed it out once with regular water then sent it on its way to our fire.

I did not find this out until my tank was full and stinky. I found out what all he had filled me with when I went over the first big bump in the road and my STL about lost his lunch. Needless to say I had to spend the next 4-5 hours sanitizing my whole engine and tank. I think the purchasing team was trying out different methods of getting water to fires other then an actual tender.

Why is this becoming an issue I have no idea. But it seems to me that if the feds (FS, BLM, BIA etc.) can't afford to build tenders or tenders are in short supply, then why not have the contractors build more? Once the national contract comes for a re-up, I think that would be the opportune time to propose more tenders. I know for a fact that the contractors would jump at that opportunity and the problem, if there is one, would be solved.

Just a suggestion.
DT
04/26 Here's the Washington Post article that explains money side of the outsourcing post yesterday.

Error Fuels Outsourcing Concerns
Defense Contract Could Cost Taxpayers $30 Million, Inspector General Finds

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A63762-2003Apr20.phpl

The AntiOutsourcing

Readers, if you're interested in competitive outsourcing, read this. If you're an American Taxpayer, read this! Mind Boggling! Although we dislike having to give information (register demographic info) to publications in order to read them, the minimal gender and zip code info that the Post asks for is simple to provide - and the article is a MUST READ... Ab.

04/25 If you want to read the latest on competitive sourcing please click
HERE.
It is very interesting and gives the Forest Service opinion on CS.
Not sure how many employees will see this. Some of the bad news is that
we will spend 10 million dollars service wide this year, good news
(projected) is that we will save 35% in the activities studied.
Interesting figures since the DOD Inspector General says it is costing tax
payers 30 million in their department.

The AntiOutsourcing

The format of this document, when in word format, included 2 columns. Converting it to html changed it to one. Ab.
04/25 Hey -- On this Concrete Truck/Water idea --

Not to be too difficult, but what are we going to call
them? They're not Water Tankers, because that's a vfd
thing.

They're not Water Tenders....Water tenders must have
pumps, fittings, hose, etc to meet NWCG guidelines.

I suppose they could be a water truck, but then water
trucks need to be accompanied with a Single Resource
boss or higher -- Maybe CCTB (Concrete Truck Boss)?

Just as one another side note -- Contractors (people
that use the concrete trucks for hauling concrete)
typically work about the same time we do -- summers.
Meaning they might not be quite available. I would bet
most concrete trucks make more money hauling there own
concrete rather than someone elses water.

Finally, is there a shortage of Water Tenders?

ABK
04/25 Ab's and everyone.

Look up Lake Arrowhead on the net and search through
the real estate listing you can see some of the winner and loser structures
around the vicinity. Multi-Million Dollar homes with shake roofs and decks
hanging over the brush.

Some of you IMT folks could do a little pre planning for the "BIG ONE"
right from the comfort of your cubicle. Addresses and all the info you
need, right on the screen.

More proof that that you don't have to be smart to make money.

Have a good weekend.
Backburnfs

Thanks, one good weekend coming up. Chat tonight. Come with a good fire topic. Ab.
04/25 RE; ROSS,

Today I talked to one of the people who were "ROSS Partners," the team of dispatchers from across the nation who gave input on how the system should look and work. The programmers were told to make it as close to a resource order card as possible so that the training and down time in a new system would be minimal. They also recommended that before the system was "turned on" it be 100% complete. Apparently the programmers did not listen.

You can get something that looks like a resource order card, but only on a print out, so when you are working with the screens you cannot get a complete picture of an order or events in one place. This one of my main complaints, me being a very visual person, I am having a hell of a time catching on. Now, I can look at a card and have a complete history of events and actions, in ROSS you have to flip from screen to screen and it is slow. We were promised that the production version would be much faster that the practice version...I have not found that to be true. I have been almost hypnotized more than once by the "dancing black bar." That must be a "line problem" and not a ROSS shortcoming...yeah, right! The programmers put "radio buttons" across the top of the screen that open different functions...did they label the buttons with dispatch terms? Hell no, they used labels that made sense to programmers NOT dispatchers.

As I understand the program there are still a few functions that are not working, so much for a complete program. I did hear from a person who was at a meeting at the RO and was told how good the system is...apparently the .....Sell job to region and national staff worked...I wish they would sit in a dispatch center (not a GACC or NIFC) and see the frustration....

I hope I don't feel this way at the end of fire season, I hope my frustrations are due to my steep leaning curve, but if we have a hot season I can see the dispatch organization doing a melt down.

Just another r6 dispatcher.
04/25 AL, hmmmm... got me to thinkin'

60 feet per second x 60 seconds = 3600 feet in a minute.
3600 feet per minute x 60 minutes = 216,000 feet per hour.
216,000 feet per hour divided by 66 feet = 3272.72 chains per hour.
3272.72 divided by 80 chains per hours..... hmmmm.... almost 41 m.p.h.

bottom line.... someones feeding people B.S.... If I ever see a fire that travels at almost 41 miles per hour on flat ground...I guess I'll have to quit if I'm not already dead... I say that since I'm one of the first people to be in the Lake Arrowhead area if a fire happens.

Sure would like to see that website though.... Guess I've missed it on the notifications.

Lobotomy
04/25 Abs;

Concrete trucks, I love it! Just when ya think you've really thought things through (think outside the box ya know) and have achieved the level of operational nirvana usually achieved only after 22 days of hard work and even better sleep, along comes an idea like this that makes ya feel really dense.

Now I only have a couple of naive questions; just who gets to climb up the wash rack ladder with the 3" - 4" draft hose and what the heck do ya hook it to when ya get up that skinny metal ladder, or when the PTO is engaged to spin the drum and the draft hose gets wrapped around those pesky mixing fins inside the drum who gets to crawl inside the drum to retrieve the portable pump and hose that must have mysteriously filled this beast.

Ok, so when the drum empties the water into the porta-pad and those little concrete pieces get stuck in the Engine's pressure pump orifices who gets to disassemble the pump case and volute to get those little buggers out? Oh ya its the Teamsters because its a Union activity. So how do I get a Teamsters job delivering water to fires and get a free meal at fire camp to boot? I never get the good jobs!

R6 Engineslug
04/25 Pulaski and DT,

The concrete trucks offer a couple advantages. One, they can spin out the last drop, even when backed in uphill. (Our tenders often pull away with several hundred gallons.)

Secondly, our firefighters are better utilized in staffing an engine or, God forbid, actually working on a handcrew. We trust non-fire types to pipe water to our hydrants (in the 2% of our district that is hydranted) so I'm more than willing to let an experienced driver haul water to whatever part of the remaining 98% a truck can reach.

The concrete trucks can't draft, but we're working on arrangements for the trailer-type overhead fill stations like are used at construction sites. Or, we could drop one of our 500 gpm portable pumps and some hose, or maybe commit a structure pumper to draft at a fill site. Even if it had to be a 30-minute roundtrip back to the batch plant, the fast dump time means that each truck could sustain about 50 gpm flow.

We have had good experience with the county road crews, using slip-in tanks on their dump trucks (which can also get the last drop out, but only through low-flow irrigation pumps.) Several construction company tenders and a 3,000 gal. tender from a metro water diversion project in our district routinely show up to our fires. Thus far we haven't paid them anything, other than splitting the cost of putting a 10-inch dump valve on a private tender.

The snowpack is decent this spring, so the ditches and ponds that were dry last year should have water. Maybe we won't have to shuttle water in at all, or at least not quite so far.

We do have the foam available to extend whatever water we have. When we got a good deal on class A foam last year, the subdivision homeowner groups kicked in for 1,500 gallons. Our fire chief was asked his opinion about the diaper-gel systems and said they'd get more bang for the buck if they bought something we would use in either attacking a fire or for structure protection.

vfd cap'n
04/25 vfd cap'n,

Sorry for such a late reply but after 8 months on the unemployed list and finally getting a job in the retail industry, I have found it hard to keep up with things.

I can say that I have not been involved but I have watched a video of the 1994 bushfires in Sydney that showed a line of concrete trucks waiting to offload their contents for fire fighters to use. I will try to dig up the title and name of the producers, as they might be able to put you in touch with those folks that set up the trucks.

Ab.’s

Could you please pass on my contact details, as I might be able to provide some useful information out of public’s view.

Regards,
Aussie CFU
04/24 Re the comment about the potential Arrowhead fire:
Abs,

The person making the comment is ill informed at best and probably new to the fire service as a whole and CDF in particular.

We often see folks like this after one or two seasons that think they have the whole fire gig figured out. Take those comments with a grain of salt and rest assured the rest of us don't feel like that.

We ( I ) look at all areas in Calif. the same be it USFS, BLM or in my case, a metro setting, as a challenge and learn as much as I can about what works and what won't on every incident.

Hopefully this firefighter will see the light and with experience and training change their opinion on interface fires.

The sooner they get the fact we're all in this together the better off they will be.

My 2 cents worth, I'm off my soap box now.

Captain Emmett
04/24 Ab,

Just a big thank you to you and the person who responded.
And I agree that not publishing the info was in better taste.

Again thanks!!!!!

Flash
04/24 Glad to hear I'm not the only one that thinks the ROSS program is a bust.... I've heard the excuses/explanations...."you''re going to like it once you get used to it"..... we're working on that"....."that will be in the next version"....yada, yada, yada......

In truth....the program is cumbersome, ineffective, time consuming (even for the proficient, as the 'instructors' claim to be), slow and entirely too complex for the task of dispatch......
Let's face the facts....the program has been in "development" for many years for many $$$$$....finally someone (?) put their foot down and said use it or lose it.....we're being forced to use a program that is barely functional as it is....how many good dispatchers will be lost because of lack of training availability, inability to adapt to the half-as_ program, fear of making a serious mistake, etc. Yep, serious mistakes can and will happen..... Remember #1... Fight fire aggressively but provide for safety first... .even in the dispatch world....

foxfire
04/24 AL, what was the CDF'er who made your quoted comment thinking?

If I am not mistaken all of the Californians at risk in Arrowhead and
vicinity live on private land not in the National Forest except for a few
summer homes. These homes are either in incorporated cities or in the
county, CDF and the FS have mutual aid agreements or actual protection
responsibilities covering all these areas.

I could ask why would the Forest Service or BLM expend funds to help CDF
protect structures in the cities and counties where ignorant people decide
to build homes in the canyons and pucker brush fields all over S.
California. But that statement would be equally inane.

I thought the days of our turf and their turf firefighting were gone long
ago. I vaguely remember hearing something about interagency cooperation a
few times in but I could be mistaken.

I saw a great cartoon the other day in the paper I think it was in "The
Other Coast". A guy was looking off his deck talking to a prospective home
buyer. The buyer asked "Wasn't there a brush fire here recently?" The
seller responded " Yea, but the mud slide put it out, and the slide blocked
the highway which has cut down on the drive by shootings."

60 chains a minute? Make sure you bring your camera.

Backburnfs
04/24 AL,

I saw that one too. What a JERK. That website should
be taken down. I don't know anyone else from my dept
who thinks that way. I think he was just mouthing off.
DIMWIT.

Heard that CDF is staffing additional reserve engines at
3.0 in light of the threat.

Rhino2
04/24 Anyone heard or know if the southern CA CDF will get 4.0 staffing this summer? Rumor has it that the mountains around Arrowhead will burn at 60 feet a second. I read here that 80% of the trees are dead from beetle kill and drought. Some species are potentially facing extinction. Reports are that trees are dying at 300 acres a day in heavy interface areas.

One CDFer said the following:
"Why would we be expending the funds during these tight times to protect what amounts to the National Forest? I understand these are California citizens at risk but if we are not responsible for the protection of the lands they decided to build in, why would we take that on?"

I'm from the north of the state. Are others from CDF in the SoCA saying that? Sounds sick to me.

Is the FS doing anything to be ready for the inevitable fires there? What are homeowners and communities doing?

AL

04/24 Just a R5 dispatcher,

From a R1 perspective, I believe the ROSS program to be slow, cumbersome,
and overly complex as well. Many other dispatchers within this region
feel the same way, although a few still hold out that this can be a great
tool given some more time for dispatcher training and actual use.

The information I have received from the ROSS folks is that the system was
in fact designed with dispatcher input, however a group of computer
programmers actually built the system and, in my humble opinion, it truly
does not meet a dispatchers needs.

Many R1 dispatchers have submitted change requests in the hopes of
improving the system, but have yet to see many results from our
suggestions. The answer I get pretty frequently from the ROSS folks
regarding change requests is “the system wasn’t designed to do that”.
That doesn’t give me much hope for a good, usable product. I was also
told that NWCG is the final decision maker on selecting and funding
changes to the program.

Having said all of that, it sounds like ROSS implementation is inevitable
this year. I understand that R3, R8, and R6 have already implemented.
Let’s hope for a slow fire season this year. If it is a busy year, I fear
the program will hinder us (dispatchers) from doing our jobs efficiently
and effectively.

Just a R1 dispatcher
04/24 CC

Read Dick Mangan's thread dated 4/19

Sfirelake

Thanks for that checkback date. Ab.
04/24 A British FF acquaintance sent this link. They have budget woes there too, and more wildfires these days. You need Flash Media Player to play it.

Todd

http://members.aol.com/matt999h/firewars.php
04/24 Some refresher info on the new fire shelter:

www.nifc.gov/safety_study/annual-refresh/hot_topics/fire_shelter.phpl

Anyone know the timeframe for getting this out?

CC
04/24 Several pages of the National Interagency Incident Communication Division at Boise Idaho have been updated - Contacts - Hot Sheet - Avionics - etc.

NIICD is a partnership between the USDA Forest Service and the Department of the Interior's Agencies.

www.fs.fed.us/fire/niicd/index.phpl

PS
04/24 vfd capt

The only problem I could see using a concrete truck like that is clearance. I suppose if you had clear roads with no over hang that would be fine. But if you got into a non-maintained road then you'd be stuck with ordering an actual tender (I.A. Scenario) and be stranded with a piece of equipment not used but sure paid for.

However, I think it would be great, like you said, for aerial support and even staging for a water source. We all know a lot of water in the middle of nowhere is always a good thing. By the way, out of curiosity, how fast can that thing draft?

DT
04/24 Ab,

I would like to ask the dispatchers out there in R5 and other regions what they truly and honestly think about ROSS. It kicked in in R5 last week and from what I see it is not a very good program. I keep hearing "to give the system a chance" , " it still has a few bugs in the system" , " you will like it once you get more proficient."

It is slow, information on orders is scattered on multiple screens, I could go on with what I feel the short comings are. IMHO, the programmers did not listen to dispatchers or they listened to every one who provided input and included everything everyone wanted, making the program overly complex. Did the government buy an aircraft carrier when we only needed a tug boat?

Just a R5 dispatcher
04/24 BLM Bob:

No offense taken, nor did I take it as a personal shot. The info was pretty enlightening reading. Again, I just wish this thing wasn't tossed on me with the-" you gotta get crackin' on this, you've got less than..." Obviously, my COC need some commo work.

I have'nt a clue about the why you can't use hearing aids- but bureaucratically it must make sense. Translation to common sense leaves something to be desired. And after reading part of the documents supporting the standards, where they are headed becomes somewhat more apparent. It will have some impact, but hopefully not a deep one.

I'm all for the growing professionalism, and fairmindedness of implementation. Fair minded in the sense that we have looked at all the options and realize that it will impact some individuals and we are trying to mitigate this.

If we can keep one more firefighter from dying of heart failure or a stroke- I'm all for it.

I've got a pack test Friday.

Have a safe, fun and profitable season!

CacheKing
04/24 hey ab, boy do you guys deliver!??!!!?!?!

So yesterday I wrote in and complained about having no fires so far this season....(in florida season begins around february or so)
While I was still typing my teammates were fighting a 40 acre and a 100 acre fire. Today I had a 130 acre of my own.... awe you shouldn't have...

Also I received at least one good response to my posted desire to go out as a photographer this year.

So now that you have set an unrealistic level of expectation let me make one last request...(I swear the last one..... maybe)

I need to get hold of an information officer from a type 1 (?) team that was on the Sanford Fire in Panguitch, Utah last year. I think her name was Kathy Joe. She had me do some photography for her while my hand crew was working and we exchanged e-addresses and I came home and promptly lost hers. I know the archive and research guru's on this page can get me in touch with her. If you can get me her e-address great, or if you know her and just want to give her mine myakka62@hotmail.com thats fine too.

and as always thank you for this page and all the work you do.

Flash in Florida
04/24 Vfd cap’n,

Yup, its been done and from what I heard it worked ok. They were used once in a time of dire need when the poop was really hitting the fan here before I came on board. Also used were septic trucks (yech!), milk trucks, fish hatchery trucks (don’t hold much water, but you take what you can get in a pinch). You can also look at local govt highway depts., pavement contractors and probably a few other govt or private organization as some of them may have large tank trucks you can use in a time of need (for a price of course)

pulaski
04/23 Hey Cache King,

No offense intended, I didn't mean to make it all personal on you, CK. I
understand your points and about your not getting all the information. The
whole thing probably hit you sideways. I'm not sure why the word hasn't been
getting passed down about this - I believe most of the federal State/Regional
fire director types are aware of it. Maybe because it's still considered in
the "pilot" phase? Hope I was of some help passing the info on.

I don't know why it says you can't use hearing aids to meet the standards, but
I might look into that if I ever get a chance. But I notice it says that
people have to meet a standard for uncorrected vision too.

This is just me, but I don't think many fed ffs are going to have their jobs
at risk because of the Med Stds. Other than the "invisible" things like
cardio-pulmonary problems, most people that have health issues have learned
how to deal with them and still get the job done. Of course, the role of the
Interagency Medical Review Board is key in deciding whether Waivers and
Accommodations can be used for a person not meeting the standards, but so far,
so good in my experience. Like I said, the main problems seem to be
bureaucratic.

Two other thoughts while I'm at it:
1) This medical standards thing isn't anything that your average municipal
fire department wouldn't do. You could take it as a sign of growing
professionalism in the wildland fire world.
2) Though it is clearly intended for much much more than just clearing people
for the pack test, if the Medical Standards prevent any more deaths to people
preparing for or taking the pack test, that would be a good thing.

BLM Bob
04/23 BLM Bob,
Interesting reading. Thanks for sharing the url and your knowledge.

WP, dude, you home yet? How nice to finally have a hug in person. You're much taller than I thought, cowboy boots and all. Didn't get lost in Chinatown looking for that "Antique Firepumper Museum", didja? I think that was a hoax.

Bob D. keep on keepin on. It was nice to make your acquaintance, tip a brew and hear your stories.

Mellie
04/23 Does anybody have experience using concrete trucks as water tenders on a
wildland fire?

The firefighter who suggested the idea heard about it from the West Coast.
We tried one in training a few weeks ago. It dumped 1,400 gallons of water
into a porta-tank in 1 minute 15 seconds, with the drum spinning at idle
speed. At half throttle it dumped at a rate of about 2,000 gpm and still
slopped less than 10 gallons on the ground.

The water was very clear with minimal sand - probably cleaner than what we
usually get from drafting out of a river or pond. It might clog some of the
smaller forestry nozzles, but presumably this tactic would be used with
higher flow nozzles. It also would be good when using a pumpkin for a
helicopter fill site.

As for stability going down the road, the driver said it almost felt like
the truck was empty. The water in the truck weighed about 10,000 lbs.
versus a full-load of concrete weighing about 35,000. The mixing screw
pushing the water to the front of the drum acts like a baffle.

It seems like a good option for initial attack and minimum impact tactics.
Our '03 fire season outlook (not to mention budgets) may not justify all the
extra severity crews and air support we had last year. We'll have to rely
on less conventional resources.

vfd cap'n
04/23 BLM Bob:

A couple of points. I was given only the standards- not the entire document and my superiors seem not to know that it existed. So, tomorrow at work it all gets printed and they can do their homework as well. They hit the roof- but 'it's my job to defend as far as they are concerned.

I put this on They Said for the purpose of getting feedback and information- which you have supplied and perhaps others will also. No mention to me or others that this was already being implemented elsewhere.

Most of the standards are not unreasonable. The hearing part I have trouble with- if you can use eyeglasses or contacts to get through the eyesight, then you you ought to be able to use your 'ears' to get through the hearing. Just a note- what the rest of the world considers normal hearing is very abnormal to me. Kinda hard to conceive of what folks call normal hearing when I never had what they call normal hearing. Guess you could say the same about quite a few conditions, though.

I haven't had a problem on the lines or off- I just have to work a little harder and repeat back to make sure that I have received the message. I also read lips pretty well ( for a hearing person). Every two years I have a new hearing test which is used to buy new hearing aids (2,000.00 to 3,000.00 every two years) which no insurance covers. Dirt, sweat, vibration, dust, smoke take their toll.

40 db is the start of moderate loss which goes to 70 db. 70 to 90 is severe. Most folks over 65 fall into that category with age onset hearing loss.( This is'nt a blanket category, some hear ant farts in typhoons at the century mark). I am glad to hear that it has'nt cut a swath through the ranks in the Southwest. and I hope it does'nt.

Establishing trend data and getting the baseline info for fire related disability coverage later in life due to the job is fine with me, and an idea that's well past due. I also support the pack test, help administer it here, and have heard the litany spoke from many about the test versus the step test.

Now, we both know that any of these regs/rules etc won't be the end of the fire program and I was'nt trying to get the alarums and excursions sounded, but I do believe a lot of people don't know about this and they should be aware of it. Fire has undergone a lot through the years, and it will continue to persevere. But, I do not like the idea of losing my position which I have had to work pretty hard for (and I know most of you out there had to do the same) because of someone elses idea of normal hearing. Especially since there is a very proactive way of dealing with this loss- and that I have been dealing with it.

Again, this forum is great for exchange of ideas, thoughts and information. I've got some info I did'nr have before. I owe you a beer for that.

A note: hearing loss is one of the least understood disabilities that humans deal with. We know the etiology, causes and effects, and measures to control or limit the damage. However, there is a stigma that attaches itself to deafness- especially those raised with or in deaf families- from the outside community or society at large. To my great surprise, the firefighters I have worked with have proven to be the best by far of any group to work with. They make sure I get the message and will ask- "Did you hear that?' just make sure we all got the info. Since we all work together, it's great.

So, let's see if anyone else weighs in on this subject. I'd like to 'hear' what they have to say, even if I have to read it. In the meantime, lets have a fun, safe and profitable fire season.

CacheKing
04/23 Lobotomy Chief:

About the National Response Plan, FEMA (now the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate) was directed in the Homeland Security Act to compile all of the response plans at the federal level into one national response plan. The language was vague enough that it's unclear if that means "all all" or just the ones FEMA had responsibility for in the past (FRP, Conplan, COG plan, etc.). What I mean is that it's unclear in the language whether the fire plan would be brought in. Anyone know anything about that?

As to the second question, yes, it would all be under the auspices of Homeland Security. Under the following circumstances (from HSPD5):

1) a Federal department or agency acting under its own authority has requested the assistance of the Secretary; (2) the resources of State and local authorities are overwhelmed and Federal assistance has been requested by the appropriate State and local authorities; (3) more than one Federal department or agency has become substantially involved in responding to the incident; or (4) the Secretary has been directed to assume responsibility for managing the domestic incident by the President.

That could change with the development of NRP, but probably not. The planners have a tendency to copy executive language like the PD directly. That authority comes out of the Stafford act and the Homeland Security act. So the answer to the question posed about whether homeland security would or could over ride the MAC group is yes, they could. Would they? I don't know. Should they? Depends.

SB315
04/23 Ab,

Someone recently sent me an e-mail that describes all of the ESF functions that USDA and the USDA Forest Service perform under the federal response plan... now the NRP under the current Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5)?... all under the auspices of Department of Homeland Security?... the last two sentences are questions and open to comment.

the link is www.fema.gov/txt/rrr/frp/frp_b_esfs.txt

A quick look shows that in most sections, the USDA or USDA Forest Service is either the support agency or primary agency for many public emergency support functions. The Forest Service is the lead agency for ESF#4 - Firefighting under this direction and a support agency for many other functions.

To date, and even after returning from Washington D.C. last month, there are many questions as to where wildland firefighters "really" fit into homeland security. Will wildland firefighters be a part of Homeland Security? or will we be a support function of it? ... or will contractors fill our positions?

In my backyard, terrorists could wipe out the infrastructure of the Los Angeles basin within minutes if the land protected by the Forest Service, National Park Service, or BLM, or other federal wildland agencies is not protected by trained and qualified federal firefighters.

Nations and groups as far back as World War II realized our weak spot and tried to attack them as the Japanese did during the World War II. Does anyone remember the balloon bombs sent over to attack our forests?

I think any position that is identified as an ESF function should be "inherently governmental".

Lobotomy Chief
04/23 Question?

I think we are going to have a slow fire season in the west this year due to all the rain and snow we are getting in April.

Any predictions?

signed ?
04/23 Update from the FEMA website:

Arizona State Fire Training Committee Establishes Arizona Wildlife Academy To Better Prepare For Wildland Fire Threats

Release No: HQ-03-093
Release Date: April 17, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- As this week's Smart Practice, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) highlights the Arizona State Fire Training Committee's efforts in launching the Arizona Wildfire Academy (AWA) to address the need for trained and certified wildland firefighters. With thousands of wildfires reported in Arizona last year, the need for professionally trained firefighters to respond to wildland fires is paramount. The AWA is conducted in a fire camp environment in Prescott, Ariz., and run by a professional wildland firefighter Incident Management Team. The procedures are the same as they would be for an actual wildland fire event.

"FEMA's effort to prepare the nation includes highlighting the smart practices of state and local emergency managers and first responders to strengthen their preparedness and response capabilities," said Michael D. Brown, undersecretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "By collecting and sharing the best ideas from the state and local level, FEMA can help communities improve their emergency preparedness and response-related activities for effective programs."

State and local smart practices could involve: effective mutual aid practices, response operations, training, assessment tools, planning models, exercises, standards and competencies, incident management and much more. Selected smart practices will be e-mailed to state and local customers in a weekly Spotlight on Smart Practices bulletin. Visit www.fema.gov/onp to read about Arizona and their efforts to implement the AWA program to increase the number of professionally trained firefighters in Arizona and the western-state region, as well as view other smart practices.

To submit a smart practice idea to share with other emergency managers and responders or to subscribe to the weekly Spotlight on Smart Practices, e-mail a request to SmartPractices@fema.gov.
04/22 Here's the part on psychiatric stds from the Basis for the Medical Standards (Arduous) that BLM Bob talked about. Weighted down, are these what you had in mind?
The PSYCHIATRIC standard relates (A) the firefighter's need for judgment, mental function and social/behavioral skills with (B) the essential functions and work conditions of a wildland firefighter, including working on large and small teams, flying in helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, and rapid pull out to safety zones under conditions that may include isolated or remote sites, snakes, close quarters with large numbers of other workers, limited and disrupted sleep and long work hours. Some psychiatric conditions, including those listed in the standards may not be compatible with safe and efficient performance of wildland firefighter duties under these conditions.

(Those listed in the standards: amnesia, delerium, dementias, dissociative disorders, kleptomania, panic and other anxiety disorders, pyromania, schizophrenia, antisocial, paranoid or schizoid personality disorders, organic brain syndrome.)
If you have fear of heights, flying, snakes, bugs, people, isolation, wilderness, daytime sleeping, working hard or running from flames, you shouldn't be a wildland firefighter. Didn't say you need to be able to keep your wits about you when stressed, but that helps too.

The table at the end was a nice summary of essential functions and work conditions. More kids that apply should see that to know what we do... and what experiences might support their apps.

... I read this table to my wife. She said it sounds like some kind of "extreme sport" or "reality TV". She added... "Psychiatric? HA, you all need to be a little "crazy" to do what you do."

Can't wait for the season to begin.
JGG
04/22 Cache King and Weighted Down:

Okay folks, settle down, let's do our homework here. Regarding the Wildland
Firefighter Medical Qualification Standards, you might be surprised to find
out the program is in the second year of implementation. The DOI agencies in
the Southwest took on the pilot phase for the program last year, and all the
agencies in the Northwest are doing it this year. There is a timetable, and
all federal wildland agencies in all Geographic Areas will be in the program
before too long.

Here's the homework assignment - read up:
http://medical.smis.doi.gov/NIFCMedicalstds.php

Start with the intro document. Don't miss the part about "Waivers and
Accommodations." And Weighted, check out the psychiatric standards in the
Medical Standards document - I think we can agree that we don't need those
sorts of people on the line. Right? The Basis For Medical Standards document
is important reading, too.

The standards don't seem to me to be unreasonable. It is true that many of us
have trashed hearing - I know I do - but the Waivers and Accommodations
procedures can be used to keep those people working. Cache King, I think you
misunderstood - nothing says that people's hearing needs to be perfect, you
just have to make allowances for loss of hearing...up to a point. Like
Weighted wrote about in his post. Incidentally, losing 40db is like almost
half of normal hearing. Maybe it's not a bad idea for someone that only has
half their hearing to come in off the line.

I totally disagree with Cache King's statement that "These new regs coming at
us- especially if they are adopted without any changes or grandfathering in of
current fire personnel- will cut a pretty good swath through the fire ranks."
That hasn't been the case in the Southwest, where it's in the second year.

In the Southwest only a few people turned up that were unable to either meet
the medical standards or implement waivers and accommodations and stay on the
line. Just about all the ones that I know about that failed had serious
health problems where it was a good idea for them to hang it up - they would
have put themselves and others on the line at risk.

Incidentally, these tests will be used to establish baseline and trend data
for each firefighter so that if fighting fire does destroy their hearing - or
their knees, or their back - then it will be clearly documented, which will
help mitigate hassles with Workman's Comp or the agencies. (However, there
still isn't much that can be done if fighting fire trashes your marriage.)
That alone can make this program a benefit.

It isn't all sharp saws and cold beer though. It's a major pain in the ass
for Geographic Areas that have a lot of AD Type 2 crews. Getting people
tested in remote areas is going to be expensive and a major hassle. I feel
sorry for Alaska when this gets up there. There are big bureaucratic
headaches with the medical provider contractors, agency roles and
responsibilities, timing, and a lot of the things you would expect when a new
program gets going. It's still in the pilot phase, after all.

It's a tough program, but then I support the pack test too because I think it
sets a minimum standard that weeds out people that shouldn't be on the line.
And I also think there's some real positive value to something that identifies
health problems, directs people to address them, and creates a permanent
record that tracks health issues for your career. As it stands now, a lot of
us don't have a leg to stand on if we go to the agency with a work-related
disability claim.

I just hate to see people hit the panic button and start yelling that "This
will be the end of the fire program!" Remember when people said that about
the pack test (some still do)? Yet the pack test hasn't resulted in a mass
exodus (or expulsion) of good people from the fire program. It's going to
present some difficulties, and there's going to be no pleasing some people who
would rather bitch and moan than try to make things better, but hey, for most
of the rest of us the medical standards could even be a pretty good thing.

BLM Bob
04/22 Cache King,

You said "The fitness report spells out specific physical/mental attributes which are acceptable for arduous rated firefighters-and what is unacceptable."
What did the National Office say about mental attributes and how were those to be measured? Maybe I'll be disqualified. ;) or maybe someone who stirs the pot one year will get the ax the next, refuse an assignment? ask a question? make a comment... No Redcard for you, you dont have the right "mental attribute".

Another thought... it seems to me that if new quals like the hearing quals are to be instituted someone better think about grandfathering in current supts. I would say that 3 of 5 DIVS I know have substantial hearing loss in their left ear. Like you, the ones I know accommodate perfectly well, they ask people to speak up, they pay close attention, some have had the loss for years. Some are 50 or are approaching 50 and are thinking of retiring before they are 55 or 57. If you make the "hoops to jump through" too much of a hassle, they might retire at first opportunity, leaving a big hole inexperienced fireline supervision. Maybe the WO should survey those with redcarded positions in short supply and see what effect eliminating such folks would have.

Another thought... if hearing is so very important, are we going to require that sawyers, swampers et al not wear ear protection so that they can anticipate a falling tree or a yelled warning that a tree is falling? After vehicles causing accidents/deaths, falling tree is the next largest category I think.

What could prompt this new set of quals? has someone brought a lawsuit? the WO anticipating a lawsuit? are they just covering their govt asses - again? I believe in what has been mandated to make us interagency and on the same page with terms and training, but I hope they think this one through...

Sign me
weighted down by the ass-covering rules and regs

could be good cartoon in that one, of an uncle sam fireifghter with multiple layers of rules and regs on his ass that make it impossible for him to move.
04/22 I was going to send in some links to current articles, until I took a look at what pops up on the Fire News page. Each category - from wildland fire to the current event categories - has some fine articles. If you have some time to burn reading, check them out. Fire season approaches. Some fires already burning in Arkansas and Oklahoma. The southwest is next.

Firescribe

04/22 Here's a report - CFEA Special Report - <380k pdf file> - on the Impacts of Drought on the 2003 Fire season.

This is for those who believe the prognosticators of the fire world. Personally, I'll let you know in the fall what kind of season we are going to have.

DF
04/22 Updated the jobs page, Series 462 and 455.

Thanks to Flash and FirenWater for writing in today with answers to those asking questions. Some of our regular "repliers" are off working on non-fire assignments.

Ab.

04/22 hey ab,

haven't been around much just doin what we call off season assignments.... mowin weed-eatin you know high danger stuff.....

so in order to catch up the quick list:

firejock- you just jumped to the wrong conclusion due to the off-season the kind of smokie eyed story swappin you want will be here later in the year. If you are fire service watch your crew, listen. they probably are in sit and bitch mode.... thats what most of the posts on the site are this time of year too.

swampthang- I didn't see anyone else respond to your ? about the rule of three, around here (not fed) that MIGHT mean the policy that if there aren't three qualified apps for a pos it has to be re-posted. So even if you were the best most perfect candidate in the world, joe fire, you wouldn't be hired until three names were considered as accepted applicants. But be patient usually the re-posted position gives first consideration to that good app. (at least it does here...)

On the subject of responding to shuttles and terrorists, we have been telling new hires for several years that they are part of an "all-risk" agency. Being fluent in ICS makes us the best choice to handle the organization of a large incident whatever the flavor. I don't mind this. I look at it as part of the job. I know some fire-snobs as i call them if it isnt a fire incident they dont want anything to do with it.... I would have been happy to serve in New York, or looking for shuttle pieces, whatever... its still serving. Besides as far as our system for going on fed assignments, we get called for activation and asked if we want the assignment. (I know if someone says know too many times maybe they dont keep getting called, but the concept is that we could turn down something we didnt want to be involved in.)

Finally as to embedded media...... about three years ago I posted in this forum the fact that i am a former pro photographer turned wildland firefighter and asked about cert in this area for red cards... No one responded with info, but i did find out that there is a tech specialist cert listed as PHOTO, I will have that this year on my card but I have been told not to hold my breath.. you almost have to be name requested to get that assignment. So the commercial.... I am red-carded arduous, a veteran of several hundred state incidents where I have been everything from IC to "rehab specialist" (picked up trash). hehehe
Also been on a handful of fed assignments (ground pounder).
I am also a published photographer who would LOVE to be in the smoke with my camera instead of a pulaski, so to those who KNOW.... e-mail me..... please.....pretty please.......

myakka62@hotmail.com

Other than that, we are supposedly two months into fire season here and its still rainin every couple of days and so still i mow... and daydream that the dust and grass i kick up is smoke in the distance....

Flash in Florida
04/22 Just catching up on the dope. Read the condensed versions, sounds like the old saying, "We the unknowing lead by the unwilling have been doing so much for so long with so little. We are now qualified to do anything with absolutely nothing". That is the way most big organizations work. Keep the faith, God bless.

Retired L.A.V.E.
04/22 Thanks for the chat summary Abs et all. That must have taken some work.

Tahoe Terrie

You're welcome. Ab.
04/21 Phillip,

I am one of the officials that does a lot of hiring for summer jobs on fire modules with the FS. We are not done hiring and if it goes the way it has the last few years we never quite get there all summer so don't give up. One of the things you might consider is changing where you will accept jobs. We have discovered that people who put their name on the "anywhere" list tend to get lost in the masses. We get a list of folks who have named our forest as their specific choice and in this new hiring system, for us that list was something like 30 pages long (don't know if that is exact but it was a lot of names). The list for people who will go anywhere is likely to be in the hundreds of pages.

I know it doesn't seem fair and I really would like to hire someone who has your background and is willing to be mobile (that is if you don't turn up some bad previous work history...we do check) but Me and my folks pay attention to those who have taken the extra time to call (it might take more than once) and sell themselves to us. And then we look for those names on the list. We also consider others but you need to make yourself stand out from the crowd somehow. There are contact names for every forest on the net. Look at a map and take a gander as to where in the country you would like to work and narrow your choices down to a handful of forests. Then start calling. And don't give up.

To Cpl. Smith zh: When you get out, check to see what forest is nearest you and call to see if they are offering basic fire training that is available to a non employee. You might have to pay a small fee but it will be very good to make you sellable. You might also find a community college that offers this training. Many of them do in the west. AND you may be on a base that gives that basic wildland fire training to a firefighting force of it's own. If you can talk your superiors into it, get it there. Then check this site for links to the jobs web site and apply there before March. We hire early.

To both of you and anyone else who applies for jobs, including firefighters already employed who are moving around or up. YOUR APPLICATION REPRESENTS WHO YOU ARE TO THE HIRING OFFICIAL!!!!!!! If it looks like crap you will not compete. Period. I am not interested in someone who can't make the effort to find a friend to proofread their application for them if they aren't skilled enough to do it themselves. Use complete sentences. Include ALL your work experience, even if it was babysitting or working on a ranch. Give valid references and CURRENT phone numbers for everyone including yourself. And never give up.

That's enough for now.

FirenWater
04/21 Ab,
Here's some good news for those worried about getting sucked into more and
more all-risk assignments when Homeland Security rolls out the rest of their
National Incident Management System later this year. Your qualification
under PMS 310-1 will not automatically qualify you under NIMS.

First of all, the position mnemonics will be different. Instead of all four
capitalized letters, each position will have only the first and last letter
in capitalized. In addition, the names will also change, so that for
instance, a division supervisor (DIVS) will become as sector controller
(SctC).

However, a DIVS doesn't just get grandfathered into a SctC qualification -
there are 4 additional classes to take and 2 taskbooks to complete. My
understanding is that there will be a new, required 40 hour class: S-219,
Choking Operations in Agricultural Interface.

There will be some other changes to get used to, when they publish the NIMS
glossary. Engines will no longer be known as "engines" because that would
cause confusion when responding to railroad disasters. Locomotives will be
labeled as "engines" and fire suppression apparatus will be "pumpers".
(Nothing is more disconcerting for an IC on a 2-acre brush fire than when he
requests an "engine" and dispatch sends the Express Limited barreling down
the tracks....)

Thus an engine boss (ENGB) can qualify as a pumper manager (PmpM) by
spending only an additional 136 hours in the classroom and getting just 2
more years of trainee assignments.

I know for some of you agency folks this new system may seem particularly
tedious and cumbersome. Many of you believe you should be given credit for
skills gained from years of experience and training in the wildland setting.
It may seem like you just don't get the proper amount of respect.

But then, that's how many structural firefighters view the NWCG qual system.
vfd cap'n
04/20 What the Abs and a few others can remember of the chat issues (evening of 04/19). We Abs came to chat prepared to take notes on GACC web suggestions, but what emerged a was much more pressing, dynamic and interesting discussion on fed fire teams becoming full-time, year-round, all-risk and possibly under FEMA/ Department of Homeland Security. We tried to list the notes we took in a logical way. In some cases the points were made more than once. When that happened, we lumped them together. Please correct us if we've really screwed up on someone's comments. There were non-Feds who didn't understand what the "problem" was with all-risk. There were fire folks with concerns and questions. There were firefighters against and for change. We tried to organize the gist of the issues and questions in order to foster further discussion. Thanks to those who came and participated. It was interesting.
  • What are we going to do when powers-that-be decide that we're "All Risk", and should be ready to work on non-fire assignments like chokin' chickens, picking up shuttle parts, etc?
  • Do we still have a professional life at our unit?
  • Do we still have a home life, with family?
  • When, and how, do we say NO??
  • My <state> dept is all risk -why are fed folks up in arms over this?
    From fed folks explaining to the state and contract folks... several reasons why:
    • A number of Fed team folks (militia who answer the CWN) are non-fire folks (examples. finance, logistics, planning) - who sign up for part of the summer, but have "real" jobs and responsibilities on their home forests as well as having families etc.
    • The current powers-that-be think they can just use the Type 1 fire teams year-round that have been so successful mainly during fire season.
    • Won't happen. Some may not care about chickens or shuttle parts. Boring...
    • We already have a hard time talking our line officers on the forest into letting us participate on teams. For most of us in fire, forest sups are our bosses. There's the problem with forest "targets" that are not being met and the risk to our forest if too many of us at once are away on teams.
    • Firefighters put themselves waaay out all fire season and winter is when they make it up to their families. Our family life may suffer if we're expected to keep up that pace all year.
  • Spreading people too thin.
  • Potential for people being burnt out early, burnout means safety becomes and issue as the fire season moves along.
  • Should FEMA field their own teams?
    • FEMA has no teams. They'd have to make some first. They don't know ICS. They don't even have permanent employees. The FS is the largest fed force outside of the military. FEMA has about 10 people working there and we have thousands. We've proven our worth. They just want to use us.
    • Someone in the other emergency mgmt areas should be doing something besides only relying on fire folks.
    • We trained FEMA to depend on ICS teams to take care of their disasters, now they are under the Homeland Security Dept and are still calling on us.
    • Don't know if that's bad or good???
    • One thing's sure, some responsibilities must go away before we take on more.
    • FEMA and Homeland security can kiss my a**. You get a good thing going and everyone wants it for nothing.
  • What are we gonna do at the height of fire season (PL 4, 5) with gobblers across the west when the next FEMA bomb blast/flood/earthquake/hurricane hits?...And they want teams???
    • Say we don't have any teams available... They would have to go to the MAC group and prioritize assignments. Then teams might be taken off fires to go to volcanoes, or whatever.
  • 13 T-1 interagency management teams have been out this year. I think last year, 0 or 1. ... CDF had 0 last year, but this winter had 6 working on END (Newcastle's Disease in chickens).
  • If team people are getting burned out, where is the personal responsibility in accepting the assignment? Just don't do it.
    • If I didn't have wife and kids I would very much want to be on a team. (What does that say for those who do have families?)
    • What is involved in the "accepting the assignment" is changing. Responsibilities associated with being a team member are changing.
  • What happens when people refuse to go?
    • Assignment turndowns are documented but there are no enforcement rules to make anyone accept any assignment they feel they can't or don't want to do.
    • We've had folks who have made themselves unavailable and have had no problems.
    • Heard recently from T-1 IMT I mtg that an individual could make only one turndown before they needed to leave the team. Are the rules changing?
  • From a State fire person: --Can't FS management talk to FEMA and explain how calling up resources for fire season works and all that it entails for your teams? or is this kingdom building?
    • More like it's "more-bang-for-the-buck".
  • Q to a state firefighter... Are state teams all risk? Does your team respond to other than wildfire? What does your dept think about you being away from your other duties?
    • Yes, we have responded to earthquakes, floods, and chickens. Our agency is pushing the all-risk. The dept considers working on other incidents good experience to have and to bring back to the unit.
    • For argument's sake, if you can be away from your normal duties as state firefighters for extended periods of time, then shouldn't your normal job be abolished? --Hard to say, ask me during fire season.
    • Teams are part of the state fire department's "normal duties"; it's the feds that think teams are a problem for taking people away from home. As often discussed on theysaid, fed firefighters aren't really a 'fire department', just forestry or range techs (OPM Series 462 or 455), etc. In addition, the state has full time employees whose jobs are full risk. USFS uses extensive personnel on their teams who have other jobs NOT fire related, for example finance, logistics, etc. What about them?
    • With the state budget in the red, how long will the state support these continued " nuisance" incidents, like the chickens? --The state has already pulled out... only 6 people still on END.
    • There are issues concerning pay and job classification, etc.
  • Sounds to me like Homeland Security is going to be sending the teams out and deciding where they should go. Not saying this is bad or good, maybe just the next step for fire teams, but read this, paragraph 15 of the DHS directive.. Sounds to me like they're ultimately in charge. www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/20030228-9.phpl
  • Someone told me recently, " You're federal employees first, fire second." They didn't mention the forest at all. What is our mission?
  • The MAC group may have not too much to say about who goes where or when to support what...
  • Do fire teams really have to go under that umbrella? If Homeland Security is in charge, it will be like line officers with no fire experience being in charge. Where will that be? Expanded mission, well yes. Fire taking a backseat. You bet. Is that what we want?
    --Isn't that what we have now? Reply... ahem... --We do have the MAC group now.
  • Anyone know what the Stafford Act is? Does it relate to reaching some measurable level of need before calling out a team? Does that same standard hold if FEMA or Homeland Security are involved? or could teams get called out any time that local resources are overwhelmed? and in what way? I don't know the rules for deployment, but they seem to be changing. Maybe I'm way out in left field...
  • Are Incident Management Teams only fire teams or are they command teams? Who else can do Homeland Security and do it efficiently? --IMTs are Command Teams and they do it admirably but they aren't fulltime available.
  • Isn't the Coast Guard making Incident Management Teams? Where does that stand? Anyone else besides them and us?
  • Some practicalities re IMT structure for all risk... you could cut the "fire operations" side of teams and just have them be "operations". The current team is built on the divisions being fire trained. How will you train them to be "other" risk divisions?
    • A non- fire division should be similar. Strategy and tactics vary a little but you still have them.
  • How do you get enough experience to be able to manage HAZMAT, bombings, anthrax or polio outbreaks? We train for years to manage Fire.
  • Maybe we don't need the whole team for everything that comes along. Have they thought of smaller alternatives for non-fire incidents like using a core team?
    • FEMA "demands" an entire T-1 IMT.
    • Some smaller all-risk teams for some kinds of incidents might make sense... do Air Tactical Group Supervisor and Fire Behavior Analyst really need/want to go to a non-fire incident?
    • They're integrated to work on the team. On the incident they may perform other functions than ATGS and FBAN.
  • Question to a new person entering chat...
    What do you think about teams being called out year round?
    • I support it 100%, with all modules available. We need full time and year round paid members of T-1 teams.
    • Full time, year round and paid members --Yeah, what other organization has "teams" that only come together for the big game?
    • Think of it --full-time teams that provide cadre for national and regional training, attend training as a team. Yes --all-risk too. I don't mean dumping FAM --just expanding the mission...
    • It would be no different than prioritizing fires --now the chiefs would just prioritize all-risk incidents.
  • Expanding the mission -- Maybe OK, but some of the old expectations gotta drop off the plate first. There are also issues concerning pay, job classification, etc.
  • Again from the new person...
    I think it is time for the next evolution of the wildland fire organization to occur --departing the resource agencies and becoming all-risk under whatever organization.
  • I live to serve my fire organization. We have been screwed around long enough. The continual habit of doing more with less has become unacceptable. More bang for the buck? I don't think we can do that anymore without our current mission suffering. If the mission and the rules are changing, let the new mission be clear and the rules be known. Let the Public know. Let the Congress know. Let the subject be debated.
  • Reality check: How about if you firefighters are still doing what you do, and someone came up to you and told you you were going to be responding to a terrorist alert at the <hometown> Motel?
  • Closing mumbles:
    ... If the fire organization wasn't what it is, FEMA wouldn't be putting so much faith into it!
    ...Yeah, that's what worries me the most.
Readers, as near as we can tell, the contributors to this chat included state and fed firefighters, contractor firefighters, also team members, former team members and retirees. Ab.
04/20 AB,

Thank you for reminding us of Fire Dispatchers Week. I sent my son a "Thank You" note for his service in the fire communication center.

PLF

Good mom. Ab.
04/20 Ab and All:

Some new rules and reg's were handed to me this past week concerning physical ability and fitness for wildland firefighters who have an arduous rated position. These rules were handed down from the National Office, but were discussed at the FMO's meeting(s) in the past. They are not yet implemented, but may be policy as early as October 2003- the new fiscal year (FY 2004). The fitness report spells out specific physical/mental attributes which are acceptable for arduous rated firefighters-and what is unacceptable. A specific part of this policy to be affects three of us in my park. It will affect many others. That is the hearing portion of the physical standards.

What it pretty much states is: any hearing loss greater that 40 db at 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 Hz will not be acceptable for that person to be arduous rated. Hearing aids cannot be used to get above the threshold.

For anyone's info: hearing is measured on a scale from 250- 8000 Hz (frequency) from left to right. Top to bottom is decibels- 0-110.
Normal hearing is that defined which falls from 0-25 db at 250 thru 8000 Hz.
Mild loss is 25-40 db across the board (250-8000 Hz).
Moderate loss is 40-70 db across the board.
Severe is 70 to 90 db and profound is 90 to 110 db.

There are quite a few folks out there who have hearing problems- firefighters quite often more so than others. Pumps, engines, helicopters, aircraft, chainsaws, sirens, etc, etc. And a lot of you don't/won't wear hearing protection. Hearing loss is accumulative and indefinite. I'm not pointing fingers, just stating an obvious fact. I've seen it, I've done it. These new regs coming at us- especially if they are adopted without any changes or grandfathering in of current fire personnel- will cut a pretty good swath through the fire ranks.

So- use your hearing protection.

Now, here's the rub that is going to happen if these reg's make it to policy. You cannot hear well and you score below the 40 db- you lose your arduous rating. For many, that spells career change, retraining, or end of career. I, if this goes through as is, will most likely lose my entire grade (GS-7), and all field activities in regards to fire suppression as a FFT1, HECM, FALA, ENGB(T). Since my focus is logistics, I can still work in fire- just no longer sling dirt from time to time or go on calls. But for many others who do nothing but suppression- this is gonna hurt. I also won't be around for long on a down grade because as a single income family, we don't exactly live high on the hog. A loss of grade means loss of job.

From what I read, other factors will have a major influence on who is left to fight fires. The list is long, specific and shows no mitigating factors. Basically, I found the entire document to be about as discriminatory as 6c coverage and the age limits. I agree with 6c except for saying if you are over 37- you ain't working here. These physical fitness factors show the same warmth and humanity we've come to expect from Washington.

Now, I've got normal hearing, the rest of the world has abnormal hearing ( you've got abnormally good hearing). I was born in a family with a hereditary hearing problem. I haven't heard at 40 db since grammar school. I did'nt start wearing hearing aids until the mid 1990's. I made it through high school, college, and half my career without them. Hindsight shows life would have been easier with them. So, I wear them, do the same as any other. Pack test, sweat, dig line and swab out the heads when it's my turn. No big deal. The folks I work with don't seem to have a problem with it either.

So, why this blurb going novel on "They Said"? Well, it will affect a great many of you. Not just the hearing, but other parts as well. I think you should know about it. Maybe we can interject some common sense into it. So I am not misconstrued, please do not think I am whining/moaning. I'm not. I don't consider myself disabled- never have or will. Got my jobs all by ability- not special hiring authorities.

Back at work, if I can get the link or the web address, I will drop a short note. Thanks again for the forum for discussion. I hope all of us have a safe, profitable and fun fire season.

CacheKing
04/20 It's National Dispatcher's Week!

Thanks to all the wonderful Fire Dispatchers out there. Good job! We LOVE you!

Mellie
04/19 I heard a rumor that the Teams are going to go to full-time year-round all-risk and that fire is going to be under the Department of Homeland Security. Someone told me that there was lots of discussion on that last night on chat. Can anyone fill the rest of us in. My in-laws descended on us for the holidays and I missed it.

SoCal FF

SoCal, we missed you. There was quite a pair of lively discussions on that topic and on others - both early on and then again later after the first batch of people cleared out and more arrived. My take on it is that all levels of firefighter were represented, from fed and state seasonal and permanent groundpounders to team members and fire manager stay-at-homes. We also had some contractors/retirees who went off to hot tub and drink "moose drool" as the first round of fire talk waned. There was quite a mix-it-up in the two discussions with some widely differing viewpoints and a few things I hadn't considered. Maybe later I can summarize them with whatever bullet points I can remember. Hopefully others can fill in.

Thanks for the GACC web suggestions. We'll be getting those up as we can.

Ab.
04/19 I have a few thoughts on what DF and R-6 FF said, and you all might think I'm crazy.

In this day and age when we are going into the all risk category and they call on us to take on assignments that have been out of the ordinary. While we also have fuels work that needs to be done that is not going away while we are gone. Maybe we need to get contractors involved into the fuels work, just a thought. I am against getting rid of all of us and letting the contractors take over. However I do believe that they can provide a lot of help, meeting the goals that we are falling short on. Also maybe that might be how the contractors fit into all this Competitive Sourcing madness.

I would also like to elaborate on the web resource info. Have something like the R3 web site, like where the crews and aircraft are -- kind of like their SIT300 link. Also have info on the 1000 hrs precipitation totals, stuff like that.

Flameboy

We need contractors to do a lot of things. They're already doing a lot of things. Ab.
04/19 Mollysboy,

Saturday's ceremony at the Colorado Fallen Firefighter Memorial will commemorate those who have died in the line of duty since the last ceremony three years ago. You may have missed the part about "forever engraved in stone."

We will never forget.

vfd cap'n
04/19 Here's the info on the new fire shelter, straight from NWCG!

Dick Mangan
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NATIONAL WILDFIRE
COORDINATING GROUP
National Interagency Fire Center
3833 South Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705
April 18, 2003

Memorandum

To: NWCG Members
From: NWCG Chair /s/ Phil Street for J L Stires
Subject: New Generation Fire Shelter

Two contracts have been awarded by the General Services Administration (GSA) to manufacture the "New Generation Fire Shelter". The successful contractors are Weckworth/Langdon of Wichita, Kansas and Anchor Industries Inc. of Evansville, Indiana. It is estimated that peak production capabilities of both contractors will be approximately 8,000 shelters per month. By June 2003, it is estimated that GSA will have received approximately 20,000 new generation fire shelters. By April 2004, it is estimated the GSA contractors will have manufactured 90,000 New Generation Fire Shelters.

It is recommended for the 2003 fire season that NWCG affiliated agencies procure the New Generation Fire Shelter for Initial Attack forces only. Initial Attack forces are defined as "smoke chasers, engine crews, helitack/rappel, smokejumpers and hotshot crews". It is also recommended that geographic areas with the first predicted active fire season order first. Initial Attack forces shall not use the New Generation Fire Shelter until applicable training has been accomplished and documented. Appropriate training includes, at a minimum, reading the new training pamphlet, viewing the new video or DVD, and practicing deployments with the new practice fire shelter. The video, DVD and pamphlet are titled "The New Generation Fire Shelter" at this time. Initially, the shelter will be available only as a complete unit with the carrying case, shelter packaged in the poly/vinyl bag, and a hard plastic liner. Eventually all shelter components will be sold individually.

Ordering Information

The GSA selling price for the New Generation Fire Shelter is $256.74. The National Stock Number (NSN) for the New Generation Fire Shelter is 4240-01-498-3194, and the National Fire Equipment System number is NFES #0925. The ordering office should place their order through GSA using a "Future" date on the requisition (this means that on any order for the New Generation Fire Shelter the ordering office must place a date of S06 (sierra zero six) in the "RDD" field). If the requested information is not included the order will be cancelled and the ordering office will need to resubmit the requisition with the required information. This procedure will enable GSA to better manage the expected surge in orders. The orders will be released in the order they are received as GSA gets shipments from the vendor. Questions concerning the ordering procedures should be directed to GSA, telephone 817-978-2051. It is estimated that the practice fire shelter (NSN 6930-01-499-0605) will be available from GSA in June 2003. The pamphlet, video and DVD will be available through Publication Management Systems (PMS) by June of 2003 (Video: NFES #2711; DVD: NFES #2712; Pamphlet: NFES #2710).

The New Generation Fire Shelter publication is currently posted on the NWCG web site. To access the publication, go to www.nwcg.gov, and click on the "publications" button on the top right-hand corner.

History

The OLDER STYLE FIRE SHELTER (NSN 4240-01-121-8698, NFES #0169) still meets all agency requirements and will remain in the system, as long as it meets inspection criteria and refurbishing standards, for approximately five years. The current fire shelter and all components will be available along with all associated training materials until declared obsolete and removed from service.
04/18 Ab - did I miss something in the message from "vfd cap'n", or did she/he totally omit the other 14 firefighters that died on Storm King Mountain in Colorado on July 6, 1994, and the 3 that died at Battlement Creek in 1976?

So soon we forget..................!

Mollysboy
04/18 Ab,
Could you put this out for those who might make it for the memorial next Saturday?
vfd cap'n

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul.Cooke@cdps.state.co.us [mailto:Paul.Cooke@cdps.state.co.us]
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2003 3:14 PM
To: Colorado Fire Chiefs
Subject: Colorado Fallen Firefighter Memorial Event

Media Advisory PRESS RELEASE
April 17, 2003

14 Honored for Their Ultimate Sacrifice

Saturday, April 26, citizens and fire fighters from across the state will join together to celebrate the memory of fourteen fire fighters who gave their lives protecting the lives and property of the people of Colorado.

The Colorado Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial fire apparatus parade will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a processional starting at Addenbrooke Park in Lakewood. The parade route will travel north on Garrison Street to Alameda Avenue then proceed to the memorial via Allison Parkway. Fire Departments wishing to participate may RSVP at 303-539-9511. The memorial ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. in Belmar Park with speakers from the fire service and families, music, reading of the names of the fire fighters who have lost their lives in the past three years. The honorees are as follows:

Robert W. Crump Denver Fire Department Died 8-17-00
J. Alan Shaffer Larkspur Fire Protection District Died 3-17-01
Lazaro Martinez Fisher's Peak Fire Protection District Died 7-28-01
Charles R. Drennan, Jr. Denver Fire Department Died 9-13-01
Ralph Vance Elk Creek Fire Protection District Died 12-14-01
Jake Martindale Greyback Forestry Died 6-21-02
Daniel Rama Greyback Forestry Died 6-21-02
Retha Shirley Greyback Forestry Died 6-21-02
Zachary Zigich Greyback Forestry Died 6-21-02
Bartholomew Bailey Greyback Forestry Died 6-24-02
Alan Wayne Wyatt US Forest Service Died 07-02-02
Milt Stollak US Forest Service Died 07-08-02
Rick Swartz US Forest Service Died 07-18-02
Leonard G. Knight Arapahoe & Roosevelt National Forest Died 07-30-02

Each fire fighter who has died in Colorado has his or her name forever engraved in the stone of the memorial. The most recently added names represent fire fighters who lost their lives traveling to Colorado as well as pilots who lost their lives battling Colorado's worst wildfires.
04/18 We updated the jobs page, Series 462 and 455.

Some of us are gathering at 8PM, Pacific Time to chat. Feel free to come earlier. Hang out if you're the first and someone will probably join you.

In case we don't have time to address GACC web issues then, could people who are interested please make a list of what they'd like to see in GACC site capabilities and send them in. We'd be happy to cut and paste if you'd rather remain anonymous. Think outside the box in terms of all aspects of fire intel from widely accessed public info to password accessed info. We're going to replace the FIRES, 2002 link at the top of the page with a running list we can add to GACC Web Suggestions... You'll still be able to link to the Fires info via the Links page under Miscellaneous Wildland Pages along with the 2001 fires.

Ab.
04/18 Now r-6 contractor, let's not attack DF. His piece had some EXCELLENT
points. And MB backed that up. Maybe there do need to be some new
methods and systems. I have no doubt that the structure of fire will look entirely
different several years from now. Whether better or worse, we deserve to have
some input into the changes or else safety may suffer.

It's not a matter of being able to "take the heat". Give me a break. . .

Tahoe Terrie
04/18 Boy, r-6 contract ff, do you miss the point of DFs post...

We're in a new situation these days. You say hard economical times. OK. If a system could be set up that employs those who want the off-fire-season work, like you ,while saving those who don't for fire season, dont you think it would benefit all of us? You'd have a better chance of having a job. Those who want time to rest up and catch their breath with family could have it. I agree with DF that it's a safety issue too. People can only pound their bodies so many days, weeks, months in a row.

(Ab, I know you don't like comments that are personal, but let me whisper this to r-6 contract guy... psssst, whisper to r6-contract, Were you one of those who couldn't quite hack it as a hotshot? Why even bring that up unless you feel like the rejected stepchild???)

Contractor Firemom, that was a thoughtful comment you wrote last week about contractors not creating the current climate that goes along with outsourcing. We know you haven't. There are lots of excellent contractors. We appreciate your contribution.

NorCal Tom
04/18 d.f sounds like whinining to me work is work in these days of hard econmical times.
i am ex-hotshot and just as good as you and i am now contract and i dont whine about it if you cant take the heat get out of the kitchen

r-6 contract ff
04/18 All Risk and year round:

DF, good suggestions among those "bullets".

What happens when temporary seasonal firefighters hit the max number of days they can be employed if their season starts in Jan??? Maybe they could come up with a new set of rules for us.. Maybe all this could be on a website so we could see if and when we're needed.

MB
04/18 Todd,
Enough? A hotshot's views

I wrote this article for "Wildland Firefighter" Magazine when the
National Fire Plan came out and we were supposed to get all the 1000's of
acres of Rx burning done. Issues remain the same for "All Risk". Just
replace RX Burn with All Risk Assignments and Firefighters for Hotshots
and the article states my case for all the new "Chicken Shuttle"
assignments coming down these days.

When are the overhead going to "GET IT" that 1,000 plus hours of OT and 100
days plus away from home every year are enough, and that to ask Wildland
Firefighters to do much more than that is going to eat our families up.
And what about the safety of our operations when cumulative fatigue and
1,000's of additional travel miles get tacked on. Something to think about
anyway.

200 million to pick up shuttle parts? I guess we know where the priorities
are. Did you know that every day of weather or other delays that a Space
Shuttle launch experiences cost several millions of dollars. And we have
people worrying about firefighters getting a piece of jerky and some fruit
to supplement the MRE's. HA, make me laugh.

DF
04/18 Chicken info and USFS involvement:
Can be found at the R5 South Ops GACC site. www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/fwx/operations/end.phpl

You can easily get to that via our LINKS page under "news".
Ab.
04/18 Websites:

I wish someone would put some time into the websites the FS and the BLM
use for hiring. I this is my 2nd season "in the system". I started with
the FS and then detailed out of R-3 engine to a shot crew. But I have
chased a fire job for 2 years before even hearing from the 1st forest. I
tried the system this year for rehire and it was a big paper chase. Also
to this day I still can't figure out the cookie part of the BLM website.

GOD (For real, readers, these are his/her initials.)

Welcome GOD, glad yer finally with us, posting and all, and chiming in on such a good topic. See what it's like down here on the ground and the problems we have communicating among ourselves via the internet ethers? Earthly reality, heh. Now yer trying it, maybe you can see why we all complain so much. It is often much more difficult to get things done than you might imagine from yer lofty perspective. Maybe your suggestions here can make a real difference on the hiring websites. While yer at it, how about some suggestions for the GACC web. We need to be able to get fire info out to the sist'ren and breth'ren fighting fire in a timely fashion.

Darla I hope yer making a note of what you've started. And we thought theysaid was really having an influence when we got the WO and the Whitehouse to read.

Ab.
04/17 Ab,

I have been a regular lurker here for a couple of years now. It is a great site that is well managed and always has some interesting stuff to think about....and IMHO has a little too much info on issues in the Pacific Southwest Region. Of course that is where a lot of the wildland firefighters are so it is understandable.

I thought I would tell you that the 6 type 2 teams here in the Northern Rockies have their team plans...including rosters on the GACC website now. I would attach them but don't know if it would work...maybe you can figure it out a little easier? I see that you don't have them on the type 2 team list....we are a little slow with the websites...but are considering them because it may well be a good recruiting tool as well as good information site for the teams.

This is my 31'st year in the business and probably not my last...at least I hope it isn't... we spent three weeks in Texas and were the first T2 team there...met some neat folks and never had as sound and practical direction and so much appreciation for those folks we worked for.

Thanks for the great site.
Jim G

Welcome, Jim. Thanks for the cudos. I listed the Northern Rockies Type 2 team ICs and a link to the pdf team information on the Type 2 IMT page. Please Readers, if you have any team info to share, send it in and we'll post it on the appropriate team link page.

As far as too much about R5... well, we post 'em as we get 'em. When you guys write in with info from other than R5, we're happy to post it. As with most things, those that make noise get their issues discussed. And R5 makes a LOT of noise.

Ab.
04/17 RE: Jodie - Hotshot Mom

chiggins is the webmaster has been "officially" in the job for about a year
now. I can't answer for them as to why you received no reply. (I've only
gotten involved in the last month)

All I'm trying to do is give you folks an opportunity to have some input
into the update that's happening now (since you are the audience - we
should find out what you would like). I can't promise all requests will be
honored but am willing to gather and suggest. I understand the frustration
of not being able to find information or not having access.

Currently, I'm helping with the Northern California site and have some
influence to what is posted and can make suggestions to the Intel Officer
when they become the keeper. I don't maintain the Southern California site
but will share the suggestions with them and chiggins.

Please don't beat up the messenger - I bruise easily! (hehehehe!)

Darla
04/17 Hi Ab,

I'm in SF at the ACE, Aviation Conference in Education.

Here's the website: http://iat.nifc.gov/

Nice program. Those of you interested in working in aviation fire should check out the opportunities here, both online and provided at various locations.

The ACE San Francisco began on Monday with the DOI and USFS mishaps reports. Many of the mishap investigators were there and provided specific info.

I went to two morning sessions that were outstanding. Human Factors in Aviation Accidents presented by Bob Galloway from DOI was excellent. So was the session on Managing Risk by Steve Rauch. Some great teaching going on with this stuff.

If you're interested in working in Aviation, you can see what other training is offered. Go to their website and dig around. Lots of courses are offered online. The ACE is offered in different parts of the country. Great job on the part of Kris Damsgaard in organizing all this.

I'm having a chance to hang out with a few theysaiders, too and one of them has a laptop along. <chortle>
Mellie
04/17 Todd

All I know is about the Columbia Recovery. 44,783 pieces of shuttle have been recovered.

Five Type 1 and 2 Incident Management Teams are in the following places in TX:
Nacogdoches (Dietrich)
Hemphill (Raley)
Palestine (Bennett)
Corsicana (Morcom)
Longview (Chrisman)

There are 4,422 people working and of those 2,012 are private.
Covering 33,902 sq miles/582,028 acres. Target is almost 700,000 acres.
Cost $206,870,513.

TX F/F
04/17 Does anyone know how many teams are on the Columbia recovery? How much is it costing? How about containing the chicken thing?

We do seem to be going to all risk. What does that mean for safety on the fire line come fire season? Early burnout? Where are fires already burning? The east, south, the southwest yet? Here in CA we're meeting and training, ok so some are out looking for bits and pieces of shuttle or dealing with chickens, but what does this all mean for the future?

I want to fight fire!
Todd
04/17 Darla,

I hate to be negative... but... If there has been no webmaster on the R5 Fire Website, who is CHIGGINS or chiggins@fs.fed.us and why did that person never reply to me (5 e-mails) or to the other moms who wrote to that address if simply to say "there is no webmaster"? All fed sites that have an E-mail should have someone who replies, even if all they say is that the site is "broken". Does chiggens have no tongue?

Jodie, hotshot mom
04/17 Here's an invite from the zigzag hotshots to a Paul Gleason celebration.

gleason_celebration

DF
04/16 Hey! Abercombie,

Was lurking on your site and seen some of the discussion relating to the
<R5 Fire> website in the "They Said". Will be joining the chat on Friday the 18th.
Can use the information and incorportate it into the new page. Not sure if
I want to open this can of worms but it is of interest to me and I want to
create a site that is inviting to all viewers, with information that is
needed and wanted.

I would like to comment or at least share some information:

The canned templates are mandatory from the WO for the Forest Service
sites being hosted on their system. (Sorry, we have no choice!)

There is a group working on a standardized GACC website template and
centralized hosting of the sites. (More interagency and I'm sure will look
nothing like the FS template).

The SW (Jay) has a great site! And my hat is off to him. And I agree
there isn't anything to discuss R5 vs R3.

In R5 defense until last year there was no webmaster to maintain the R5
Fire and Aviation site and even today the GACC sites are left up to the
Intelligence Officers to update and maintain. In defense of all the GACC
sites most of them are not as lucky to have a person with Jay's skills and
abilities with a computer and creating a webpage nor the staffing to help
with all the other needs this position requires.

So, lets not slam or compare the sites - How about giving us feedback and
information you'd like to see. Comparing R3 to the other GACC sites is
like comparing apples and oranges at this point. I'm willing to take the
suggestions and run them by the Intelligence Officer(s) to incorporate into
the updated R5 site I'm helping with now. I'm not the webmaster only
someone with a little computer/webpage skill that's willing to help get
something up and running.

JKW - What would make you feel Welcomed to the site? What do you see is
the vision and direction for the future of firefighting?

How can we make the site better? Now is your chance to get some input - it
is being updated as we speak.

Things I can not change are the template and reference to the USDA Forest
Service what I can change and manipulate is the content and how the content
is presented.

Cut and paste as you see fit - Abercrombie, I personally can not compete
with the R3 page and Jay's abilities but am willing to take constructive
feedback into consideration.

Darla

Yeah, Jay does nice work, so does the South Ops GACCmaster, in my opinion, especially with the news and notes and links to the national fed information as well as the expected regional info. Navigation could be better. Unfortunately, some of the good stuff is fairly embedded.

Feel free to come chat on Friday. We could brainstorm if it's not too much of a hilarious free for all. Ab.
04/16 Firemom
Well stated

Friday we attended a Joint Agency Contractors Training and Annual Standards Class hosted by the CDF at Alturas. The main topic of interest was the "RESPONSIBLE PERSON" trickle down effect to the agency people that do the equipment inspections. " I 'm going to inspect by the book. I don't want to be sued or loose my job because I signed off on a noncompliant piece of equipment. If anyone needs a copy of the inspection form we use, here they are."

There were lot of hands up for the copies. If all of the agency equipment inspectors will follow the inspection form in might clean up the junk. They also touched a little on fire tactics, weather, time book, and the ICS. After lunch we watch the Romero Fire filmed in 1972 and got in to the Fire Shelters. Two new Certification Cards were issued before we left. Overall it was a good session.

LINKER MT
04/15 Have been lurking here for some time, decided it's time to put 2 cents in:
Re: Reporters on the line. I am one. I have been carded, w/ the "A" on the
Fitness blank. Have all my own PPE, proper boots, etc, and have for years.
(BTW-reporters who steal stuff from Supply ought to be prosecuted. It is,
after all, government property) I have been covering wildfires since Reagan
was president (the first time).

A short example: Last year I was one of two certified TV-types on a large
fire in AZ, relegated to shooting "Pool" pictures for ALL TV media-what we
shot went to everyone, and no one had anything else from the fireline. IC
was reluctant to put us right on the line. So here's the result: While FIO
was talking about 200-foot flame lengths and massive destruction during news
conferences, the pictures we had to go with that was of an engine crew
laddering up trees around a garage, and clearing space around houses. Yes
that's important, but when overhead is trying to get the point across to
residents that this fire is dangerous, and that's why you can't go check on
your house, is that when you want to come through on the 6 O'clock news?

Just to clarify, I think reporters who cover wildfires and want to go out on
the fireline should be REQUIRED to have a red card, and ALL PPE, and not be
allowed to run "willy-nilly" wherever the hell they want to go. Reporters
are a lot like firefighters, most are average, some are really good, and
some will get you seriously hurt in dangerous situations. If a reporter does
something stupid, kick him off the line. But don't give him the boot if the
story is accurate, fair, and balanced, but doesn't show exactly what you
think it should. If you want to educate the public, and put a great face on
firefighting, let the public see what happens on the line, warts and all.
Believe it or not, most of us have exactly the same goals as you: do your
job, get home to the family, and not get anyone hurt in the process.

AH
04/15 I had a question about what I need to do to become a forest fire fighter . Im in the Marine Corps right now. When I get out I would like to become one.

If you can help, thank you.
Cpl. Smith zh
04/15 I have my red card, and two years vol. WUI Fire Fighting experience. I got
an email saying my Application was approved in Mid-March and the it be sent
up to the selection official or human resources dept. I also applied for
anywhere in the US. But I keep hearing that all the hiring is done my
Mid-March. It is now April and no more contact from them. So am I to
assume that I will not be getting a job with the Forest Service this summer.
Please help me out.

Thank you,
Phillip
04/15 The jobs page, Series 462 and 455 have been updated. Ab.
04/15 Hi guys, Here are a set of photos of our ( 6 ) NEW Rural Fire Units

9471 = 1st Attack truck
9472 = Slippon unit
9410 = Wajax pump crew truck
9425 = River truck / Wajax pump crew truck
9475 = 10,000 ltr Tanker
9480 = Command unit ( Rural only )

We hope to see this on your site very soon, also we have emailed your site to the Rural Station all over New Zealand.

Cheers for now, The Upper Hutt Rural Fire Force ( Station 94 ).

I put them on the Engines 6 photo page. Thanks. And thanks for letting all your mates know about the site. Ab.
04/15 Ab, here are a few photos:

A fire whirl, Note the telephone pole to the right

Kern Co. Copter 408

CDF Tanker 72.

All are taken during the Pines Fire Julian Ca, Aug 2002.

Dan

Thanks Dan, I put them on the Fire 16 and Heli 10 photo pages. I'll put up the cdf Tanker 72 as soon as I make a new AT photo page. Ab.
04/14 Here are some mighty fine thoughts on Leadership from Paul Gleason that he shared with friends the day before he lost his fight with cancer.

www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/interviews/leaders_PaulGleason.phpl

DF
04/14 stirring the pot,

I don't think there's anything to discuss regarding the R-5 vs. R-3 web sites. R-5 was dead last regardless of where R-3 was..

Ether fire

04/14 Ab, I may be able to help you out with the pics you request of Heli-torch in action. I worked in R-6 in 80's before the environmental issues, forced the Timber Co. of the area to log the lowlands. So I traveled to another Region, where I currently work. I have a bunch of different pics of the torch working, Just need some free time to scan them in, and you pick what you want.

Chogi

If you have some with flame, that sounds good. Ab.
04/14 I believe that the "Outsourcing" issue has created hard feelings between the
"Agency" and "Contracting People". I believe it is important for the Agency
folks to understand the position of most contractors.

We did not ask, request, nor endorse overall "Outsourcing of the Agencies". We
played no part in the this plan. Most contractors have more that their share of
work, and do not wish to take on those responsibilities or liabilities.

We have ALWAYS wanted to compliment the agencies firefighting forces, not take
them over. So please know that the large group of private contractors with
engine, crews and tenders that I speak of respect the agencies experience, and
we want only the same respect in return. We all have "bad apples" in our midst
and we do the best we can to eliminate those problems when they come up. In a
recent meeting of private sector folks we had over 843 years worth of agency
experience sitting in that room. The private sector has repeatedly asked the
agencies to enforce their own agreements/contracts, they have the teeth to use
to ensure compliance, we as private sector cannot take a contract away even if
we know a bad apple exists. All we can do is document it and turn it over to
the contracting officers and hope that they don't turn head in the "heat of
battle".

Firemom
04/14 Ab
I have been gone a week and picked this up this morning
LINKER
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 4:59 PM
Subject: Update: Montana State Fire Marshal's Office reduced to 3 positions
(inspectors)

The MT Legislature met yesterday and all that currently remains of the Fire
Marshal's Office is three inspector positions.

What does this mean to you?

- No fire incident reporting support and FEMA grants are in jeopardy

- Inspections and associated liabilities will fall on volunteer departments

- The insurance industry support of Fire Tax and associated firefighters
retirement contributions are questionable.

- Insurance rates may go up because of the lack of code enforcement.

What can you do?

It is not too late, the final budget is not set until April 18! Forward this
email and contact your legislators!
04/14 Oh great!
Geraldo on the fireline!

Isn't the job dangerous and stressful enough now?

-=Dave=-
04/14 Thank you AL for the updated “Watchout Situations” We all need some comic relief in these unsure times of budget cuts and outsourcing.

Gary
04/14 Has anyone ever seen a pic of a helitorch dropping flame? I ask because I'm curious and someone wrote in to theysaid with the question. Seems that the fact that the pic is taken against a light sky would make for lack of contrast with the flame.

Ab.
04/14 I say we make a date sometime this week and get a good chat room started. We could discuss R-5 vs. R-3 web sites, the media, etc. .

What does everybody think? How does Friday the 18th sound, around 2000 PST. I will be there and I hope my old pal mellie will drop by.

See you all there.....

stirring the pot

Can't say for others, but I'll show up. Ab.
04/13 Eric,

The reasons you give for not giving the media access (chaotic scenes, possible litigation, current info) are precisely the reasons I say we should. The public (read "taxpayer") deserves the most current info not sanitized, "Wag the Dog" versions.

"Embedded" could mean the whole picture........

Killer

Through a series of soda straws. Ab.
04/13 Ab, for that person who was looking for a pic of a Canadian Helitorch...

Here's a picture of a helitorch that I took in Northern Alberta, on the House River Fire (260,000 ha : 642,474 acres) during the 2002 season.

Scott.

Thanks, I put it on Helicopters 10 photo page and let her know. Ab.
04/13 I am sending you this logo from our Rural Fire Station here in Upper Hutt
Wellington, NZ and a bit about us.

We have a crew of 38, 6 Rural Fire Trucks and the second largest area of scrub, pine and urbin in New Zealand.

If you would like some photos of our trucks just email me back and I will send them over.

Cheers
Tim (Timo)
Rural Fire Controller

Thanks, Timo, and welcome to theysaid. I posted it on the Logo 8 page. Sure, send in your "trucks". What is "urbin"? Ab.
04/13 For those asking about State Budgets...

Yep, it seems the State Fire Marshal's job has been eliminated in MT. Could be some dire consequences there. This came out last week.

Linker
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Subject: URGENT NOTICE - MT STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE HAS BEEN ELIMINATED FROM BUDGET - IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED
THIS IS NOT GOOD

Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2003 3:03 PM
Subject: Fwd: URGENT NOTICE - MT STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE HAS BEEN ELIMINATED FROM BUDGET - IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED

URGENT MATTER: We need your help! Did you know that of Thursday April
3, 2003 the State Fire Marshal's Office was once again eliminated from the
budget?

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU?

1. FEMA Grants may be in jeopardy because participating departments are
required to submit NFIRS reports and there will be no Fire Marshal's Office
to distribute software, provide training and process the reports.

2. The insurance companies have stated they may not support the Fire Tax,
which may directly affect firefighter's retirement.

3. Volunteer fire departments may be required to perform inspections for
public schools, day-cares, developmentally disabled homes, assembly
occupancies, places of public accommodations, and state owned facilities,
and potentially accept liability for inspections of these inspections.

4. Long term fire insurance rates may increase as fire incidents increase
from inspection lapse.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOURSELVES AND THE PUBLIC? CONTACT YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVES BY APRIL 9 AND EXPRESS YOUR CONCERNS, AND PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO OTHERS!

See the attachments for more details on the elimination of the Fire
Marshal's Office, and contact information for your representatives...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anyone know if the e-mail campaign reestablished the MT Fire Marshal's position? Ab.
04/13 Re the R3 fire website.

My hats off to Jay as well.
I heard last year that the SW fire site was the #1 visited site on the FS web, got even more traffic than the WO. The competitor in me loves it that we're lightyears beyond R5 in providing the most "one stop shopping" on the web for fire, as far as Fed sites go.

Of course Ab, (bow bow) wildlandfire.com gets info of a different kind out there at a snappy clip too. Thanks for that and for the forum.

R3-FF

Yer welcome. Ab.
04/13 I dont believe embedding crews on fires would be the best decision. I just came back from a trip to Australia. We were shown video shot by a professional videographer with a news organization. He was riding around with an ops guy of some type during the Canberra fire storm. It showed what a chaotic mess fire appears to be with decisions made on the fly, tactics changing constantly to fit situation, falling back and attempting to regroup. It also showed chaos, panic on home owners parts and firefighters, and the Chief of the department driving around in his personal vehicle with a cell phone as comm.

That tape is now one of the prime pieces of evidence in their federal hearings, and investigations.

With the US being so litigious, and IMT teams now facing some liability I wouldn't want someone watching every move we make. Sometimes a well orchestrated and trained team can make a fire scene look chaotic. To the untrained it may seem as a cluster, but to a fellow firefighter you can always see the order in who's doing what in a video. Its always easy to second guess and look back, making the wrong conclusion. An IMT commander is faced with multiple lines of intel and factors in making every decision. A video only shows one view. You can guarantee that it will be the most dramatic close ups of fire possible. How many times have you guys gone off shift and watched the fire you are on on the T.V. just to see raging flames and people running around in circles. Especially funny when there hasn't been flame for a week.

just a few points i thought of. Be safe

Eric
04/13 Killer, you brought up some very good points. Fire can always use some good and insightful "press".

Thanks for the info Quill!
For those who don't know, Quill was one of the first "embedded" folks out there (that I know of) . <hee hee hee> He's our wildland firefighter who has been en-bed-ed with (?!) with journalists for some years now -- to our great service! Thanks Dude! The public seems to like what he writes from within our perspective. We could use more knowledgeable journalists.

How do we show ourselves in a favorable light? Heck, to really know us is to love us! Giving reporters a chance to jump through some hoops to have the honor of some wider access is not a bad idea either. Psychological research shows that things that cost something and membership that is somewhat harder to attain are usually more highly valued than freebees. One embedded reporter in Iraq said that it took the troops more than a week to accept him into their ranks. He did what they did, sleeping on the ground, eating MREs, managing in rough conditions. He appreciated being "let in". It's not easy to join a cohesive group. You have to earn trust.

One thing I think might be addressed by the powers-that-be is liability. Firefighting, like war, is inherently dangerous no matter how safe you try to be. I heard the journalists embedded with the troops were paying $10,000 per day for insurance. Perhaps embedded firefighters (or their employers) should have to show some increased insurance coverage. Training helps with safety, escorting helps with safety, but sh*t still happens. Reporters were killed in this Gulf War II. Are their families going to sue the govt? If they had been killed by fire, would their families sue? We shouldn't have to be tied up in lawsuits when journalists are voluntarily putting themselves in harms way. (Quill, what do you think about insurance? I'm curious.)

Mellie
04/12 Quill & all,

So maybe the powers that be should "embed" reporters with the crews??

I think it is great that the media is becoming more informed and knowledgeable in the wildland fire realm. Heck reporters have been on the front lines since man began making war! No reason at all to keep them from traipsing a fireline!

Now we just need to learn how to show ourselves in a favorable light...........

Killer (aka yaktac)
04/12 KEA --

In the wake of last year's fires, and an article in the industry magazine Editor and Publisher, plenty of journalists are going to be headed to the lines this year.

Some will be redcarded, some won't be. Down in R3, the policy is not to redcard reporters, but to have them tote their 130/190 certificates and WCT certificates from fire to fire, at least until a national standard -- to be dubbed a "blue card" -- is is handed down later this spring.

In R3 alone, I know of 25 reporters and photographers and videographers who have gone through 130/190 and have passed the pack test at arduous.

What does all this mean?

Not a whole heck of a lot. The official line is that being certified makes you more knowledgeable, but doesn't guarantee better access.

Even when the blue cards are issued -- hey, the media's going to be like contractors with that card -- the following rules will apply:
1) Must pass the WCT at arduous and have NWCG-approved training.
2) Must have proper PPE.
3) Access is subject to IC's approval.
4) MUST BE ESCORTED AT ALL TIMES.

So, what does that mean to you, the hard-working fire professional?

It means you're going to see a lot media who understand what a plume-dominated fire is. It means you're going to get a lot more media who won't steal brush pants from your supply cache, since they already have a pair. It also means that you're going to have people asking more -- and let's hope better -- questions. Attached to that, though, is that the media is going to want better access.

There are a few people in the business who will say "But I'm redcarded/certified/etc.," and will try and bully you.

I say tell them "Im happy to work with you to get you what you need, but I can't have you running willy-nilly around the fires."

Extra points if you use the phrase "willy-nilly."

One other thing it means: With so many people qualified, they'll want unique access. That is, they'll want something that another station or newspaper doesn't have. So the huge media tour may not work as well anymore as it has in the past. So the IO shops on high-interest fires may need more people working there who can be line escorts.

Just a thought or three.
See y'all out there.
Quill.
04/12 Hey I have not been on here lately.

I just got back from Nacogdoches, Tx. with the Space Shuttle Recovery Program. I was dispatched Feb. 14th and returned home on April 10th and I'm burnt out. I just wanted to thank all the teams who were involved with the Nacogdoches program for doing the best they could with an unfamiliar situation. All in all they did an outstanding job with only minor problems that were handled and worked out. Special thanks to George Custers team and George for all your efforts.

I work for a Private contractor as a crew boss, and have worked for the USFS and NPS for 7 yrs. previously, and consider my crew to be a very professional, knowledgeable and hardworking crew. After working in Nacogdoches Tx. and seeing all the other contract crews, fed, state and bia crews coming out of the wood works I just want to say that I certainly hope this is not the best we have to offer come fire season. There are by far alot of lazy and inefficient crews who showed up on this incident. After all we were just gridding and walking in the woods. Yes there were alot of obstacles, thorny brush, vines, marshes, snakes, spiders etc. But we were there to do a job and do it the best we could and for those of you who milked it for all it was worth, I hope your evals. reflected it. The crews put in long tours, some longer than others, and we are definitely going to feel the effects come the end of fire season. I myself am going to take the next week getting healthy and ready for our up and coming season. Again thanks to all the teams, div. sups., stl's., and crews that I did have a chance to work with and I'll see you on the big one.

R6FF
Wa. CRWB
04/12 "Due to sharp reductions in the state budget, the Oregon Department of Forestry begins this year's fire season facing a 22 percent spending cut"

I wonder if the state representatives can manage to legislate a reduction in fires to match the reduction in funding to put them out.

If so..no problem.

Idiots.
Fireronin
04/12 Ab, All,

Looks like the FS system is up and at em again.

One question is, what happens when the FS system goes down during fire incidents in so cali this summer when we're needing resources and information? Last summer the WO web was sometimes down and the R5 had abysmal performance. I had to wonder in frustration why we were paying the GACC people big bucks to provide information that could not be accessed!

More questions; why use a canned FS template page when this is interagency fire? Why not plan for the future a site where all firefighters can go for information and feel welcome? What about some kind of limited access pages so we can go to check what resources are needed on going incidents when resources are in short supply - a place that tells us when and where we're needed and where we can sign in that we're available? A place that has restricted access for aviation. Why not someplace where large maps can go up quickly and easily and be accessed in fire camp? Sorry this is so much of a hash. I have only a moment at the computer but I think we need much more from our GACC sites across the nation. The R3 GACC site is the most excellent on the web (Hats off to Jay Ellington!) but also could provide more information and have more real time capabilities of certain kinds.

Guess what I'm wanting is a place that looks at the larger picture of the interagency people the GACC's serve on the ground and on teams, and at the direction we're going in terms of fire needs and internet services. We need a site that has vision and direction for the future of firefighting in addition to one that is not down and can be easily navigated. I don't think the "newest site" from a canned national FS template will serve firefighters in the best way. Is anyone meeting and discussing this? Does anyone have plans to plan???

Although there's not much there now on either the SW site or the R5 south ops site, the News and Notes feature is a MUST. We desperately need that kind of information when at levels 4 and 5. So does the public.

JKW
04/11 Hey kindling,

Did you crash the FS system? Is it down or what?

Bellows

It's down. Now see what'cha did -kindling, pokin' that hornet's nest. Ab.
04/11 Good question, JD!
What DID happen to the Type I Team sites for California? And what is the story on the GACC sites? For a region that is supposed to be on the cutting edge of fire management, they have NEVER had decent web pages. Some of the content is okay, but you have to really dig around to find it, and the good stuff's only on the southern california side. Plus, the thing is either not available or it moves all the time (here's the CURRENT site - moved again this winter! www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/fwx/operations/index.phpl). I have been to some meetings this spring where they said they were working on new and improved GACC pages, but here's all I've found so far:

www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/intel/index.phpl

It's the same as the old site! (when it worked). Plus, now there's 2 different sites, and they don't even have the same links.

If this is the new and improved version, I am officially giving up. I hear all of this talk about how we as the interagency firefighting community are supposed to be ready for anything (fire AND homeland security), and that California is the best in the country, but you'd never know it. The Southwest has created a fire operations site that you can actually use... plus it doesn't look like the Forest Service is running everything. Maybe CDF or OES or someone else should host the california sites, because the forest service obviously doesn't care. I agree with you Ab, I like the news and notes pages, but that's about the only redeeming quality. I guess if I want to find out what's going on in California outside my own backyard I'll have to just keep my eye on the media, which is what I ended up doing all last year. So thanks, Ab, for the news links page. Turned out to be very useful... especially when the San Bernardino and Angeles forests were on fire, over and over, and the "intelligence" and "information" pages were not available for more than 5 minutes through the duration. Intelligent?

Aaahh, I feel better. I have been wondering what's up all year, so thanks for opening the can of worms, JD. Maybe I should stop lurking so much and write into this page more? Or maybe you'd all rather I keep my mouth shut... this site already has a full roster of rabble-rousers. I guess in the words of Firejock it "keeps people on their toes". Be safe-

-kindling

PS: VFD CAP'N... those articles about the stupid zone were way cool... do you think we get that guy into congress?

Welcome, kindling. State your mind. Laying it out now and then lets you breathe easier. Ab.
04/11 From Firescribe:

Nevada fire agencies may escape budget ax, article posted March 17
www.krnv.com

Check the Fire News page for more. Ab.
04/11 The jobs page, Series 462 and 455 have been updated. Ab.
04/11 In reference to the question regarding state's cutting fire budgets:
From an AP Article by Jeff Barnard in March:
"Due to sharp reductions in the state budget, the Oregon Department of Forestry begins this year's fire season facing a 22 percent spending cut. That means fewer firefighting crews, fire lookouts, fire engines and helicopters for the quick response that makes the difference between a small fire and a raging inferno.

In Washington, the governor's budget proposal would slice 15 percent from the $29 million firefighting budget, parking 21 of the state's 113 wildland fire engines, and idling 230 firefighters."
Islander

Do you have a link to the whole article? Ab.
04/11 Does anyone know what happened to all the CIIMT websites?

Is R5 going to have a website that works on a regular basis and is actually USEFUL to firefighters from ALL agencies this season? Fire is supposed to be INTERAGENCY, after all.

JD

We have a link to the teams from R5 and elsewhere on our links page under Fed, both Type 1 and Type 2. Maybe they're being updated following the CIIMT meetings last week. Anyone know? One of the type 2 team sites was down week before last for an update.

It's no secret that the R5 web was no model for providing fire information last season. Hard to believe that GACC info was not reliably available. Since then we have had a temp GACC site. Hopefully things will change soon and some real fire info, formerly available only on the temp GACC pages, will begin to flow from a permanent site. The season is likely to be a bad one with all the beetle-killed trees on the San Bernardino NF. We're going to need the GACC info.

The temp GACC pages done by South Ops staff over the winter have been very good. You can link to those on our links page under News. Check under "GACC Sit reports". Important stuff. Getting information needs to be simple and transparent. I like the news and notes sections of R5 and R3, providing very useful intel during fire season. My opinion is that we need the whole system to be of such quality and to be up and running in real time long before the season starts. Ab.
04/11 Ab,

I have reason to believe that the authors of the Large Fire CRAP may have intended to include an appendix to the section on wildland-urban interface. Space constraints could have prevented them from including a broader discussion of homes built in the Stupid Zone. Thus, the topic only got the line, "identify those which are not safely defensible and which will only be evacuated."

Please read the articles by Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen from
1998 (www.custerguide.com/quillen/eqcols/19985313.php),
2001 (www.custerguide.com/quillen/eqcols/20018074.php) and
2002 (www.fs.fed.us/rm/main/pa/newsclips/02_05/0526_stupid.phpl).

Don't get me wrong, my department takes our responsibility seriously. We promote the Firewise materials; advocate for fuel reduction, slash collection and tub grinding; and train for structure protection. But, when the fire starts, there comes a point where our common sense has to prevail over the misjudgment of others.

vfd cap'n
04/11 Please read this, keep it in mind and make some notes to help in evaluating this policy...

The NWCG tasked an interagency group to review the current work rest guidelines and length of assignment policy. This group met and drafted recommendations based on the request. The recommendations have been discussed, edited, and are now ready for implementation for the 2003 fire season.

The changes provide for opportunities to improve in managing fatigue for all resources, as well as additional flexibility in length of assignment commitments.

The work rest guidelines and length of assignment changes will be included in the 2003 publication of the National Interagency Mobilization Guide (Mob Guide) as well as an amendment to the Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook (IIBMH).

The NWCG would like input from the field throughout the fire season to assist in the finalization of these changes. These guidelines and policy will be reviewed in the fall for additional clarification. Upon review, the final guidelines and policy will be included in the full revision of the IIBMH to be published the spring of 2004, as well as the 2004 publication of the Mob Guide.

Submit your comments no later than October 1, 2003, electronically to Stephanie Horton, shorton@fs.fed.us. The comments will be forwarded to the task group leaders. Please do not send comments until the changes have been in-place for a period of time this season in order to adequately determine if they are meeting the needs in the field.
04/11 Here's an interesting stat:
13 type 1 teams have already been out on assignment this
year. Wow. Some training even was cut because they were
gone.

Questions:
Will team overhead be burned out before fire season hits?
Are we still primarily fire? Chickens, shuttle parts, hazmat/
terrorist response at some point? What are things coming to?
Will Fire be removed from under the FS? It feels more and
more likely. I don't think I like the idea.

Todd
04/11 looks like I stirred up some folks. Good to know your still on your toes. Least some people got to vent and say what they really where feeling.

I don't hate the government agency's I just don't agree with a lot of things they spend their money on. If you want to change something and make it better, stronger more efficient, its like pulling teeth, to much trouble, you give it to your boss he gives it to his and so on. By the time you get to the top you don't want to take a chance or cause a ripple, because you got so much ridding on it, RETIREMENT. And if you make a mistake the agency doesn't back you up, they leave you flying solo. Seems like all the older guys I've talked to are breaking down and getting liability insurance, not saying thats bad, but its kinda sad that they don't even trust the agency to back them up on there choices.

I appreciate what a lot of you do out there. I just wish it could be better and we all know it could be way better for everyone in the business.

firejock
04/11 WP,

Is that meeting next week? I'll try to send you an e-mail.

Mellie
04/11 I was wondering if any other states are having problems with their budgets that result in cuts in their fire budgets? California is. I heard Montana is, they're even loosing their fire marshall, is that right? What about other states? Lots of $$ is going into terrorism prep and the state of the economy is not that hot, fire budgets seem to be taking it in the shorts.

Any predictions for what will be the hottest parts of the country this season?

AL
04/11 Has anyone heard anything about journalists on the fireline for next season? Here is AZ it seems likely we'll have a bunch of them.

Rules?

Fire season approacheth. Can't wait.
KEA
04/11 Well CRAP is the appropriate acronym for the cost containment report in my opinion. I suspect I am a lot more cynical than the fellow that assigned the acronym.

After doing more than 35 years in fire management and then see something like this come out just has to make one chuckle. I mean what a novel ideal, we are going to emphasize initial attack. Wish I had thought of that!! And then, oh my god, we might consider working at night again when everything is in our favor, please tell me this is not true!

How did they avoid articulating that we would also cut out the jerky, candy bars, granola bars etc in the interest of saving money and the hell with the folks that do the work! Oh by the way that Crane that has been sitting at the helibase for two days without flying is no big deal. We may need it if things blow up! Or as long as we can hide it on a P number maybe we can keep it around in case the Forest breaks another fire!

Have we not treaded this same ground in the past??? Wasn't that why comptrollers were supposed to be assigned to all Type I and I fires? Cost containment! It talks pretty easy until the fire is on the home unit and the Ranger thinks a fire is something that he/she lights in the fire place on a cool evening.

Let's see, wasn't it after 94 that experienced line officers would be assigned to incidents where the resident line officer did not have the experience to deal with the situation, wonder what happened to that idea? Large incident reviews have always been required so what is novel about that idea?

14 day rotations, gee whiz, anyone that had basic guard school new this was causing problems especially on the incidents that went past the 14 days. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. How many times last season did Hotshot crews do 14, drive home, and then drive back to do another 14. Type I crews ought to be able to 21 don't you think?? I am sure a Type I team can do 21.

I still do not understand fires in the urban interface. If the residents have done their job, then there is not a significant problem. Instead we respond to fire after fire where the residents have done nothing in the way of defensible space etc, so what do we do?? If we have the time we do it for them, at no charge I might add. Where is the sense in that? It might make a bigger impression if we rolled up, said you must be kidding and went to work on something meaningful rather than doing what is rightfully a landowners responsibility. Wildland Urban Interface Actions, my guess is if this is not already being addressed at the local level then someone or several someones are not doing their job.

In short I see nothing new in this report that I have not seen at least a time or two in the last 35 years in this business. So the answer is another report? I wonder how many engine modules could have been funded for what went into the CRAP!

As you might have guessed this is a sore subject with me.

sign me the cynic.
04/10 Ab,

Here's a list of humorous watchouts from some CDF friends.

18 Situations that Shout, 'Watch Out! Camp Slugs!

1. Motel Units have not been scouted or sized up.
2. You are in a fire camp you have not seen in daylight.
3. Command Staff and escape routes have not been identified.
4. You are on a freeway where you are unfamiliar with local factors influencing driver behavior.
5. You are uninformed on course par, greens fees, and hazards.
6. You have been given an assignment or instructions.
7. You have no communications link with anyone who cares.
8. You are installing porta-potties without a safe anchor point.
9. You are building waterbars downhill from the fire camp.
10. You are attempting a frontal assault on a fire meal.
11. You discover an unburned steak between you and the potatoes.
12. You cannot see the main fire and are not even sure it exists.
13. You are fighting the urge to push rolling material down-hill below you.
14. You feel the cooler units getting hotter and drier.
15. You notice that the wind begins to blow grit in your sandwich from a different direction.
16. You are getting frequent lines over at your favorite dinner spots.
17. You are away from a feeding area where trailers and caution tape make travel slow or difficult.
18. You feel like taking a nap near the information sign.

AL

Dare I say Haw Haw... Ab.
04/09 Hi Abz!

Linker in Mt,
CDF does not solicit contracts. Any county, city or fire district that wants CDF to provide fire protection comes to us. Most of the time, we provide the most bang for the local government's buck. We do, however, contract with vendors for goods and services (private dozers and water tenders) but not in the sense that we actively search out local govt. contracts.

Captain Emmett
04/09 Ab,

Here are a few things I like in the Large Fire CRAP (I'm new to making acronyms, so someone tell me if I have this wrong....)

"All Federal, State and Local agencies engaged in the suppression of wildland fire will formalize and embrace a policy of aggressive initial attack. This will be our wildand fire suppression program’s top priority."

"Jointly train with local government fire personnel to ensure that—in the event of fire—they can be immediately and effectively utilized in the suppression effort."

"....identify which homes, businesses, and other improvements will be protected; how they will be protected; and by whom. In addition, identify those which are not safely defensible and which will only be evacuated."

"In lieu of contracting, increase the use of state and local resources."

As a sign of my repentance, I even asked for a tender on the radio the other day.

vfd cap'n
04/09 I just read the Large Fire Cost Reduction Action Plan.
There were some good points, but I can see trouble
brewing on the horizon. The line:

"At this time, there is more incentive to reduce risks
than cut costs. We must change this."

I think I know what the authors are trying to say, but
this makes me a little wary. I certainly don't want
my, or any other firefighter's, safety jeopardized
because of cost.

Next, when talking about the strategy of aggressive
initial attack, the authors note that the use of
mechanized equipment should be considered as a way to
cut costs, improve FF safety, and protect resources.
Only a few paragraphs before they noted the intention
to limit the use of tankers and large helos. Seems to
be a bit contradictory.

On the standards of mop-up normally I would say
"great." But this seems to be a lot easier to do in
theory than in practice. I've never had to make the
call on a bigger fire, saying its controlled or out,
so my experience here means little. Again though, it
could be troublesome to implement.

It was interesting to see the note about contractors.
I wonder how much of the budget goes to contractors
who work the lines? Seems like most of the contractor
money goes to helicopters and camp support - showers
and food. How does "using local agency people" help
this aspect.

Finally, it was nice to see the urban interface
problems addressed. I wonder if we will ever reach
the point where there is a change in the zoning laws
that allow people to build in canyons and deep in
forested areas with little or no fuel reduction around
their places. There seems to be an expectation that
the FS will save homes, no matter where they are
built, or the condition of the land around it.

All in all, some good ideas, and a good place to
start. Any other thoughts?....

JerseyBoy
04/09 The jobs page, Series 462 and 455 have been updated. Those of you looking for jobs, don't forget to check the contractor listings. Ab.
04/09 Ab,

You all need to bear with me on my recollections of the R8 smokejumping program. It has been 26 years since I was involved in it. If anyone out there was involved and can fill in the gaps or make corrections, feel free.

The patch DF mentioned earlier was designed by Walt Congelton from the Siskiyou Smokejumper base if I recall correctly.

I believe the program was initiated in early 70's by the Siskiyou Smokejumper base located near Cave Junction, Oregon. It concluded in the late 70's. I went back the first time in the fall of 1974 for a short 3 weeks or so of their fall fire season. We were based out of Wise, Virginia at the Lonesome Pine smokejumper base. Consisted of a trailer housing the office and crews lounge, and another trailer with no interior walls and a table running the length of the trailer for rigging parachutes. We were using a Beech 99 aircraft. Could have snow on the ground in the morning and be jumping fires in the afternoon. Not alot of action on that trip.

Next made the spring trip in 1976. Operated out of trailers at Johnson City, Tennessee in March-April. Also had a contingent of jumpers at Fort Smith, Arkansas. Season started slow with some prepositioning in London, Kentucky and Andrew-Murphy, North Carolina to cover fire danger in those areas. Used to jump into the field at A-M, then pack up chutes and be ready for fires in PM. Latter part of the season the fire danger greatly increased to the point more jumpers were brought in to our base. Believe they came from Missoula, Montana. In one 13 day stretch I had 11 fires in 13 days. We had two people that went 13 for 13, and I think a couple guys had two in one day. An incredibly busy and exciting time. Planes used were Beech 99's and DC-3's. One of the DC-3 pilots was Whitey Hawkmiester. He was an exceptional pilot that cared very much for his aircraft and his smokejumpers. Whitey was killed a few years later fighting to land his disabled DC-3 in a remote river canyon.

Hope this sheds some light on the R8 smokejumpers. Many other stories come to mind, but will keep this short.

Mike
04/08 Abs

Dunno if you've seen the new Large Fire Cost Reduction Action Plan or
not. Here it is.

Large Fire Cost Reduction Action Plan

SITL

Thanks. Readers might find it interesting. Ab.
04/08 Hello,

We are working on a feature about forest fire fighting and I am looking for
a photo of a heli-torch. Since we had a photographer out shooting for us
last summer in Saskatachewan, the heli-torch is the only photo I still need.

On your website I saw the image by "Charles" of a heli-torch. Can you put me
in touch with him or other photographers who may have photos of
heli-torches? We'd prefer a recent image, ideally shot in Canada. Since our
magazine is very high quality, we can only use images that are of
professional quality. Lo-res digital images just won't reproduce to our
standards.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

Margaret

Any of you Canadians got any helitorch images in the 300+ dpi range? We will put you in touch with Margaret. Ab.
04/08 Tahoe Terrie, when we visited Washington D.C. a few weeks ago, I wouldn't say the greeting we got from OPM was derogatory, but it was unexpected. The OPM folks expressed some valid concerns that the decision makers from USDA and USDI weren't there. Stepping back a few feet, I guess I understood their concerns.

Congressman Doolittle was great in getting us together for the initial meeting, and will be helpful in getting the Agencies, OPM, and FWFSA together for future meetings to correct classification.

The plain and simple fact.... at least 5 different series now cover wildland firefighting. How many series cover ALL OTHER aspects of firefighting?

Actually, I think the meeting we had was educational on both sides. The meeting showed us that we needed to once again educate the OPM that there is an continuing issue to be addressed. Past Congressional Record and promises somehow fall through the cracks, and the education process must begin again.

The education process began again while we were in Washington D.C.

On the OPM side, I can guarantee (almost), that the Deputy OPM Director knows a problem exists now. We, the FWFSA, did our part. Every Federal Wildland Firefighter, now needs to do their part.

Future meetings should begin to put the proper classification issue to rest.

FWFSA_SoCal
04/08 Ab

You probably already know, that the CDF is the largest most diversified Fire Contractor out there, by providing Fire Protection Contracts for California Cities, Counties, and Fire Protection Districts that want to improve the level of protection and/or cant afford the cost of their own Fire Departments. There have been problems but overall it works out alright. I am not for or against this, just trying to let everybody know that there is a very big Contractor out there doing Wildland, Rural and Large City Contracts.

This is the best information site
Keep up the high standard of excellence

Linker in Mt
04/08 Looks like the FS Jobs web site is acting up again...does anybody have the info about the online app for my buddy?.....

R5 AFEO

Jeff on 04/04 brought up the most recent online application problem. Anyone have any insights? Ab.

04/07 Ab,

Just to let you know....Hickman is NOW in Texas...and with out any help from me!!! His name was on a card when I got to TICC tonight for night shift....Have a Great Day.

Dispatcher

Yeah, he e-mailed again just before he left for the plane this afternoon. What a quick deal. Ab.
04/07 Abs,

I was reading all the posts on Outsourcing and wondering of ways to prepare an argument for maintaining services within the government. I thought back to some articles I had read several years back on the privatization of municipal fire & EMS agencies. I cannot recall the specifics of the articles but the general info was that many municipalities were investigating privatizing their fire or EMS agencies as a budget-cutting means. One city in Florida ended up laying off all its fire dept employees and contracting with Wackenhut (Inc. ?) to provide the employees and the city provided apparatus and equipment. The city later ended its contract with Wackenhut and brought back its own employees after a line-of-duty death (or maybe 2, I can't remember). If I remember correctly one of the big issues in the LODD was a lack of training. My memory in a little fuzzy on this, so I will do some research for the specifics. At any rate, I suggest that persons or groups (FWFSA or the federal employee's union) do some research or contact municipal fire or EMS agencies to see what strategies they used to combat the privatization efforts. If it worked for them perhaps we could make it work as well!! I will send in any additional specifics on the Florida case or others when I find them! Thanks for such a great forum Abs!!!

On_Fire

To my former teammates on Augusta IHC: Be Safe & Have a Great Season
To my 2 former teammates who are Rookie Jumpers this year: Good Luck Bros!!!!
04/07 Sigh..I have to weigh in here on the ongoing "outsourcing" debate.

I wonder if someone in Wash. looked at what ADs are paid and said "Woah...think of all the money we could save if we replaced our "regular employees" with ADs!" The cost savings disappear as soon as you employ them as anything other than "emergency employees" though since the exemptions to the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) would then no longer apply ..and the savings would evaporate. "Wait" someone said we don't have to worry about the FLSA for contract labor either... and a new cost saving measure was born. It probably gained momentum when the "true cost" per hour (including retirement, benefits, etc.) was researched since in fact contractors CAN do the job more efficiently and cheaper than existing Govt. employees....short term.

BUT..(and it is a BIG BUT)...outsourcing is not a universally applicable cost saving measure. And the costs include things a hastily implemented "new plan" cannot possibly take into account. AND (yes it is a BIG AND too) typically in private business while savings appear to be nearly immediate...the "true cost" (there it is again) is often MORE than it was previously. Outsourcing is a buzzword/strategy that has APPEARS to work in private industry (due to bookkeeping jugglers) long enough for the promulgators to get their huge bonus and move on to their next company. I suppose by the time that this strategy is "discovered" to have saved nothing or cost more the administration mandating it will be long gone too.

SIGH.. (yes that was a BIG SIGH). When will we learn that you get what you pay for?

Dana
04/07 Dispatcher,

Check for Hickman on the NICC want list.....I want to go..

Hickman
04/07 Pack Test Training,

Just wanted to drop a note of thanks to the Ashland RD, RRNF for the great work keeping the Ski Ashland physical training facility open. I was skii, er, training for the pack test today at altitude and enjoying the whole experience, snow in the goggles, hardhat cinched down tight, bindings, I mean laces pulled tight and this whole mountain prepared just to keep the PT going and me in shape. A big thanks to the recreation crew.

Reading the posts lately I think we all need to lighten up a bit. If we consider the big picture and take into account our boys and girls in uniform right now I don't think we have much room or right to complain.

Like the military we are an all volunteer force, no one forces us to march up the hills to face the dragon, but we do nevertheless, season after season. I look forward to working with you folks who post here, the way I see it if ya didn't care ya wouldn't take the effort. Just a note to say count your blessings, life is great and way too short.

R6EngineSlug
04/07 For those who haven't been to Texas yet and those who wish to come:

We have had a stand down on the air show for the last week, but ordered 11 high performance ships today. HEMG, HCWN and HECM are needed...please put yourselfs available if you would like to come out and assist. Thanks.

Dispatcher
04/06 Ab,

Here's a couple of photos of Nan Madden (USFS) and the Silver Smokey award that she won. She was awarded the Silver Smokey for outstanding service in wildfire prevention on 3/26/03 at McClellan. This award is rarely given to individuals. More often it is awarded to organizations or groups. Nan is richly deserving of the Silver Smokey Award. We have video of her shock at the announcement, her tears, and of her sleeping with her award! Not too many can say they slept with a silver smokey!

The Gang at the Prevention Academy

Go Nan. Nice job, prevention people. We put them on Miscellaneous 2 photo page. Ab.
04/06 Ab,

I got this patch from an X-SJ who says they used to ship western SJ's
to R-8 back in the 80's. Don't have the whole story maybe some others do.
It would be something interesting to read about other than Outsourcing and
B.S.

DF

We put it on the Logo 8 photo page. Anyone know the story behind this old smokejumper logo? Ab.
04/06 Ab,

I shot this photo of a fellow crew member of Crew 133, Walker Range
Fire Patrol, just before a prescribed burn at Big Marsh in the Deshutes
National Forest, Oregon. In conjunction with the US Forest Service.

SE

Put it on the Handcrew 8 photo page along with a pic of the Ventura Co. Fire Crew with Pyrotechnic Tech taken on the 4th of July. (You can tell which one he is.) Thanks contributors.

Thanks to Matt for the Julian Cuyamaca engine and paramedic photos. Posted them on the Engines 6 and Equipment 5 photo pages. Ab.
04/06 Re: FS5fire

While I share some of your emotions regarding outsourcing, you've at least one comment wrong. You said, "Contractors don't work in, around, or on these lands everyday". That is very untrue and I'm surprised at your audacity to state as much. I know many contractors who work in, around, and on the lands EVERY DAY. Know what else? They also LIVE on the LAND where they work. They CARE about the land and they KNOW the land. Some of them are ex-agency or retired agency employees, others have been working prescribed fire, project work, and fighting fire for many years. Some of these folks are very EXPERIENCED, dedicated, and as loyal to their organizations as you seem to be to your agency.

If you want to be taken seriously, stick to what you know to be true, avoid namecalling and stereotyping. The first absurd sentence in your message here rendered the rest of it unworthy reading.

ecc1
04/06 Competitive Sourcing...The more I think about it the more it appeals to me. Here is a chance to become my own boss and cash in on all the big bucks just waiting for me. I think the best job out there will be the lawn mowing contract (lawn mowing-Not an inherently government job). Just think, mowing the lawn at the station once a week, using the government mower and gas-of course, charging way to much money and having 5 or 6 days to spend all the money made by sitting on the riding mower going in circles.

Here is the good part, if the Ranger wants his flower beds weeded -- another contract at an inflated price -- OF COURSE! Do you need the parking lot swept? Not part of the contract--but for a price. Oh, a few light bulbs need to be changed? CHA-CHING!

This Competitive Sourcing could be a GOLD MINE! The Government will be spending so much money on contractors -- programs will be cut, of course that is the goal -- less government, and the only people fully employed will be the COR's.

But that is OK, as I will just mow the lawn and collect my money. Where some see lemons, I see lemonade.

Will Puller,

PS. Ab, please don't tell anybody about my secret plan, as I really don't want the competition.
04/06 Just back from meetings. Good to see some of you in socali.

Firejock notwithstanding, I have a question.
It's clear that the OPM powers that be hate wildland fire, maybe more specifically the Forest Service. Does anyone have any idea what the politics of that are? I have heard through the years that OPM itself has had problems. It seems to me they had it in for us before the big costs of the Biscuit Fire. Or is it coming from above? Bush was a supporter of fire in Texas prior to his presidency at least my uncle swears it was so. Has Bush changed his position and given free reign to that OPM guy who is making all the derogatory remarks about the FS? Is OPM hunting for someone else to blame their problems on or does this stuff come from further up the food chain? Both?

The politics of all this stuff leaves me shaking my head and wondering what we did to deserve this stuff...

Tahoe Terrie
04/06 I would like to say thank you to the FWFSA for the fine work they are doing. It's nice to have an organization that is looking out for the welfare for the old and new generation firefighters.

Keep up the good work, we will all benefit from it soon.

An-R5er
04/06 hey ab,

been a while since I posted on here. I still try to keep up on what's going on out there. first of all, a heavy sigh for firejock. not sure what his problem is but he needs to wake up and sniff the coffee. as one who fights wildland and structural fire, its not just a job. most of who do this love what we do. my agency (state ) doesn't rock my world but I do my best for it and those who serve under me. it isn't about money. unless you work for cdf ( and it isn't looking good for them ), you don't make millions. maybe you love the job for all the wrong reason. grow up buddy. there are some of the best people here. unless you are living in a hole in the ground, you haven't been paying attention to what's written here. this helps me keep a pulse of what's going on in the wildland fire world. go take your beef to someone with the same intelligence as yours. maybe, well no, I guess you better talk to a mirror.

as far as contractors go, the gov better get its crap together. I have worked with some good fire contractors. but if the gov goes to predominantly to contractors, there is the chance for larger fires and more fatalities. no one can replace experience. you wont get enough of it with contractors. too many fly-by-nights will show up to get contracts with the gov. they have pretty rigs and are qualified but don't have enough experience to get themselves and others out of trouble. as with looking to replace a engine, the cheapest bid isn't always the best.

our state forester said on the news that we wont be putting resources on fires unless they threaten a interface area. anyone from the great basin heard of this? I hope this doesn't apply to ndf. I would hate to see millions of acres go up because we wont staff a fire in the middle of nowhere. was this a ndf policy or did it come from blm?

lets have a safe summer people. I lost enough friends to fire in the last 2 years.
BC Davis
04/05 After several years as a seasonal CDF employee, I finally made permanent Fire Apparatus Engineer. Now thanks to a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, there is significant talk of layoffs for State of California employees. By April 22, 2003 CDF needs to submit a layoff list to the Governors office. I am guaranteed to have my name on that list. Worst case scenario is that I am laid off pretty quick after that.

I have begun looking at some of the Federal Wildland jobs out there but am concerned about my qualifications. How will my training and experience fit into the Federal system? I do have many ICS certs but none of the basics like 130/190. CDF does not give us any of the basic 130/190 type Certs, it is just the generic 67 hr. Cert. I have many specialized skills Certs. But cannot take time off or risk being seen taking 130/190 and others. What will the Feds. accept & what should I fly to the Mid-west on my days off and take?

Thanks,
Worried in Nor Cal
04/05 Firejock,

What planet are you from ? Maybe you should phone home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Slapshot
04/05 Wake Up FS, BLM, NPS personnel:

I usually don't get involved but this is worth getting involved. After coming from a Competitive Sourcing meeting, EVERYBODY that works for the Government needs to listen up and do a small part. As a group of people we need to make sure that the public knows that the current administration in Washington wants government employees jobs to become CONTRACTOR jobs!!!!!!! I'm sorry but I work for the forest service not for the money (God knows we don't get paid anything) but for the protection of forest and lands so my kids can enjoy them when they grow up. Contractors don't work in, around, or on these lands everyday. People that visit these sites and want info don't want the answer I DON"T KNOW!!!! They want experienced people to give them answers. Or during a fire a Contractor that skates by to get personnel on that fire with minimum experience, or qualification just so they can make a BUCK!!!!!!!.(i have seen it done too many times and have experienced it first hand) The people of this great country want to know that experienced, qualified hard working people are on the job. I'm not saying government employees are Gods but I didn't work 12 years and attend hours of classes to be told a CONTRACTOR CAN DO IT CHEAPER!!! I know this will make a whole lot of contractors mad but face it, OUR JOBS ARE AT STAKE!!!. So start getting the word out to the public about what this ADMINISTRATION wants to do to your job and let the PUBLIC make the choice. AND REMEMBER YOU GOT TO TAKE ACTION ON YOUR OWN TIME. Just tell your neighbor and encourage them to them tell their friends and let's make this spread like a wildfire on a hot summer day.

Ab Thanks for hearing me out.

FS5fire
04/04 JerseyBoy, you said, “At heart should be whether the PEOPLE, the ones doing the work on the lines, should be government employees. Whether the task of protecting federal land from wildfire should be an inherently government task or not?” “Competitive sourcing” is about exactly that, transferring the work done by these PEOPLE to contractors. Over 1,500 of these PEOPLE might be gone by year’s end. The sad thing is, nobody in DC has asked the very good question you posed. They’re just trying to meet the FS quota for jobs to “study” however they can. They’ve targeted “maintenance” work, and I’d bet you a month’s salary they don’t even know how many of these folks have collateral fire duties. As Joni said, “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone….”

GT
04/04 firejock -

No problem do we have with spurts like you, too bad there isn't more room
for you go away.

Besides, you would never fit in with any crew. Not even room on the
ghostload. Sorry.
04/04 Hey Fire jock,

I initially blew off as home-based personal vendetta your short-sighted attack on the contributors to this forum. However, I will join the fray you have created by simply suggesting this: Spend all of your adult years beating the crap out of your body, work your way up the ranks the hard way through both education and more importantly through experience, and survive the myriad political minefields (I agree with you!). Excel as a wildland firefighter both as a ground pounder and as a manager!!

Another suggestion: Save a hardcopy of all of this TheySaid discussion as a personal time capsule to be opened after your retirement. Then come back to this forum and resubmit your current thoughts.

Bet you won't.

Regarding your "hate my agency" statement there is an old adage in our business which is "that's what transfers are made for". Good luck!

Amen, Hickman! Yer always there!!

NMAirBear
04/04 Hey Ab

Looks like firejock stirred up the hornet's nest. He is taking a beating so I'll leave it alone, however I think the funniest reply was Hickman's. I'll have to say that was a different way to reply. Anyhow fire season is right around the corner and all the kids are getting ready to come on so lets have a safe season and hopefully we make some money.

Flameboy
04/04 Ab, had a great trip back to DC several weeks ago with other FWFSA reps to meet with our Congressional Representatives and present our wildland firefighter issues. I've been trying to figure out a good post. As many, I seem to be a little brain dead and find I have meeting after meeting, training after training in the near future. I think I need to just send this in. Most of this post is taken from my notes.

Attached is the MEMO that I sent to the majority of the IAFF Federal Firefighters to let them know what Wildland Fire Issues are all about. Seems many of the Federal and Local Firefighters still don't seem to know that wildland firefighters exist. I hope my memo helps them and US. (It's also posted on the IAFF 16 District Web Page... www.iaff16.org "District News" "Wildland")

Just like last year, we gained even more support on the Hill. Congressman Pombo's Legislative Staffer Ken Ward told us our bill would be introduced in two to three weeks after the co-sponsors are signed on. Members of our delegation (Federal Firefighters from California, Hawaii, Washington, and Virginia) once again stood up and tackled the issues head on. We had many (40+) meetings to garner support for our legislation and didn't have any representative say they could not support it. We concentrated on the Republican side and found no resistance.... couldn't believe we would find any resistance on the Democratic pro-labor side. SEEMS MOST OF THE FORMER CONGRESSMAN POMBO WESTERN REPUBLICAN CAUCUS WILL ACTIVELY SUPPORT our issues and most democrats will support our issues if they appear to be truly bi-partisan. Helps to have a good friend and Resources Committee chairman on our side.

We also had a meeting with the OPM Deputy Director and Staff regarding classification. Started out badly when the OPM folks said they didn't know why they were there since no one from USDA or USDI was there... Congressman Dolittle set them straight. He pointed out that they were there because he called them there. A future meeting is being arranged between OPM, the Agencies, and the FWFSA to address our issues, laid out in my memo. Looks like R-5 staff is going to write a letter of support and seek other regions to sign on.

IAFF strongly supports the position that wildland firefighters should not be contracted out via A-76 studies.

We also had a meeting with the Homeland Security Department (DHS). These folks were GREAT. They were very cordial... glad for us to be there... a friend to firefighters. Gave us some good info. Still trying to digest it all. I left this meeting with homeland security folks with a warm feeling. SURE WISH THE FOLKS FROM OPM GAVE US THE SAME FEELING. The folks from OPM even slammed us and told us our promise of proper classification came from a "Clinton Political Appointee".... Congressman Dolittle set the record straight on that account too and set forth the motions for future meetings and the correction of improper classification.

Well, there's a short update....

Final note, I want to add a THANKS to those providing Washington D.C. security.... never thought I'd ever see my Capital being patrolled by folks with M-16's and MP-9's... GS-4's and GS-5's.... maybe a few GS-7's and 9's... GOD BLESS THEM FOR THE PROTECTION THEY GAVE US and for the SERVICE they provide.

Thanks Ab.
SoCal FWFSA
.... new moniker ... "Lobotomy Chief"

SoCal FWFSA, nice job on the wildland firefighter issues sheet. FYI, posts sent in here need not be literary treatises. Thanks for your good work on our behalf. Ab.
04/04 Fire Jock,

Where do you come up with this? Fire has many sides to it besides fire on the ground.. An Assignment is an assignment.. If it is Shuttle Recovery to Toilet Cleaning.. Take it like a man and BUCK UP or Get OUT.. I wouldn't want to be on your Crew or around your Crew...

Fire has many SIDES.
Sign Me GHost
04/04 If the outsourcing process was truly objective,
  1. it wouldn't be run by someone with an obvious bias against his fellow federal employees (re: post of Dave Gliddens remarks on this site- isn't he a fed employee too?),
  2. it would be done in a reasonable time period, rather then a rush to decision before all facts can be considered, and
  3. it would take into account the multiple skills of many of our fed workforce.
For example-our IT person works in extended dispatch, and fills in for our lands officer when he is on a team assignment. Can anyone explain to me how replacing this person with contractors is going to make our already small district more efficient? Seems to me they will need several people to handle the diverse duties that she is capable of doing on her own. These skills cannot be considered in this process- which is why I think the whole "efficiency" issue is a political diversionary tactic.

GT- you are right about the union needing employees that will work together for change. Wasn't it our founding father John Hancock who said "we must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately"?

Treehggr
04/04 This is in response to someone's comments to Fire jock's posting regarding finding qualified personnel to fill positions.

The system for hiring really is the enemy on that subject. I have been attending school for the past few months to get training for a position in firefighting. I have completed I-100/200/300, S-190/290/390, S-130, and am soon to complete S-270, S-234, and S-336. I am so motivated to become a firefighter I can taste it! I have not even touched a fire and I rated-out as a GS-5 (not bragging, just giving the whole picture).

But for some reason I can't get hired. I have two stations that want to give me my first chance to do so, but they can't. They say my name isn't on their hiring list. I said "that's crazy! I have been in touch with the Boise office since January." But it isn't crazy. The new web hiring site they use didn't work correctly and didn't save my information. So my name did not go out on the list. Hence I have no job.

I am not bitter about the situation too much, but you see the point I am trying to make. People organizing this system make it almost impossible to get hired. If you have any advice please let me know.

Contact: Jeff
ellocochef@hotmail.com.
04/04 The jobs page, Series 462 and 455 have been updated. Those of you looking for jobs, check em out. Ab.
04/04 I have to agree with some of what firejock said, but maybe not all of it... We are all entitled to say what we think and here AB gives us the chance, as you can see. Then when you think about it, we all rub some people the wrong way. By the way 'Jock' I enjoy the handle...

Webster's
jock (jok), n. 1. same as jockey. 2. same as jock-strap, 3. (Slang) male athlete
jockey (jok'i), n., pl, -eyes, one who rides a horse in a race: v.t. & v.i. -eyed, -ey -ing,
1. to cheat: deceive. 2. to maneuver for an advantageous position.
jock-strap - in short, something to support the male genitals.

..."All you talk about is a bunch of political bullshit"... Jockey - to maneuver for an advantageous position. (Does this not take some political maneuvering to be a leader in the crew?)
...."I hate the agency"... Jockey - one who rides a horse (In firejock's place, It appears to be a dead horse.)
..."I don't do this because I want to be recognized as a hero or for the glory, I do it because its a job."... Jock-strap (To me it appears that he has more to support than himself.)
..."So buck up get it done, do it well and don't bitch about it."... Jock - male athlete (One trained and skilled in games, exercise, etc. that demand a combination of physical agility and endurance, but very little brain power.)

(The things we do agree on), ..."I do the job because I love it,"..."and a lot of firefighters do because there (they are) hard working, honest men and women"..."I would hate to have some of you on my crew."...(I wouldn't want to be on the same crew as firejock either!)

Sign me
Hickman
(one of the few to use their real name)
04/04 From the R5 CIIMT meeting in San Diego:

The hot issues this year are
Cost Accountability for fire,
30 Mile Followup, and
All Risk Incidents.

Cost accountability: As suggested in the Chief's Incident Activity Report and the 2003 Action Plan, we're going to engage in more oversight on all aspects of fire including using aircraft on large incidents. We'll be watching closely the costs this year: the 250 million spent on the Biscuit was a wakeup call for the line folks.

Last year 30 mile was a main focus. Some good stuff has come out of that. We're up to speed. This year we're going to have check sheets for oversight that that are more uniform than before and specific for small incidents. We won't need to make our own. There will still be large fire factors to track.

Lots of discussion about All Risk incidents. Rumors abound about Homeland Security and our place in that. Stay tuned.

Fire Jock, what do you think about All Risk? Going to give up "firefighting" when you get dispatched to incidents other than fire?

MW, I once wished for a ppt of the Sadler Incident chronology and lessons learned. I couldn't find one. You might have to make your own. If you succeed, could you please let us know. Thx.

NorCal Tom

04/04 Good Morning
From two of the Firescribes:

Agencies put thousands of jobs up for competition
www.govexec.com
Some perspective on the process. Check the comments on the FS and fire.

Firescribe and I heard Guy Pence's letter is likely to run in the New York Times as an OpEd piece. If anyone finds it before we do, please let us know.

Yawn, late nights and early mornings and way too much fun.

04/03 "Fire jock":

Guess what? I love my job, my agency, and almost every single one of the
firefighters I know in this business, from hundreds of departments, parks,
forests, etc. One thing you and I could agree on: I wouldn't want you on
my crew, either - your attitude sucks. If you hate the agency so badly,
get the hell out. Guess what else? Real firefighting in this world IS
political, it isn't just about pounding line. If we all ignored the
politics, we wouldn't be able to get half the stuff done that we do. You
can't fight fire without interagency agreements, teamwork, mutual aid,
national standards, incident management procedures, equipment, budgets,
personnel, etc etc etc. You obviously wander around blindly in the smoke
not paying one bit of attention to the system or agreements that get you
get to the fire, who and what decides the strategy and tactics of the
firefighting effort (aha! politics again!), or even how you get paid.

You obviously missed the point on the helicopter accident. I am pissed
that when astronauts get killed, it's a national tragedy, yet no one
noticed our folks outside our small world. It's not about glory. When
firefighters WE WORK WITH are killed picking up the pieces, the country
doesn't even hear about it. The general public doesn't really understand
the jobs we do, and now, when our entire firefighting system is threatened
with a massive shift to contracting, the general public also doesn't know
enough to be alarmed. Know why they don't? Because they don't have any
idea how much work we do behind the scenes to protect their lives and
property, etc. Of course, I don't expect you to understand this, because
you don't seem to think any of the politics are important anyway.

Guess what else? While a lot of whining does occur on this board, a lot of
work also gets done moving things forward, networking, and counseling each
other. It's like a support group for stressed folks. Why are we stressed?
Here's one possibility... we have about 14,000 seasonal wildland
firefighters that we absolutely depend on in the summer. Key word?
SEASONAL. Some have permanent status, and therefore benefits, etc.
However, the majority of seasonals have no benefits and no job security,
and most all of the folks in the federal agencies are vastly underpaid
compared to professional structural firefighters with similar job
complexity. I think it's great you love your job, but all that love
doesn't pay the bills, and some of us don't live in a world where salary
doesn't matter. At least a reasonable salary for on the ground
firefighters, team members, managers, and dispatchers would somewhat
compensate for the time spent away from family and home, and for the
involved risk in the field. Also, we have a hell of time keeping good
folks because they can't afford to work for us! Is this a problem? Ask
around and see how many vacant positions go unfilled because no qualified
people apply. Do the urban fire departments have trouble finding qualified
folks? Not usually. They have to turn people away, because they're good
jobs and their departments take care of them. Now, stretch your mind and
see the result of this: every year when the stuff hits the fan, we start
running out of qualified folks to fight fires... everybody from helicopter
managers to incident management team positions. We can't fill the team
orders because FMOs can't leave their units because they're short-staffed
and can't find qualified people. We break up engine modules to fill
helicopter manager orders. And, most of the people I work with are set to
retire in the next few years. Who's going to take over then? We don't
have enough trained people to step in and fill those empty jobs, because it
can take 8 years to become a single resource boss, 15 years to become an
ops chief, and 20 years to be an incident commander. Why?? In part
because we rely on a seasonal work force that we lay off in the winter
instead of training to move up in the organization. Also, we don't have a
big enough budget for the training we need to speed up this process.
Sorry, more politics. This isn't whining. This is me telling you some of
the problems we have to deal with in every day reality. Some of us,
including folks on this board, are trying to fix them so people like you
can continue to live in your "real firefighter" world where none of it
matters.

One more thing: most of the people I work with and respect live and
breathe fire, whether they are out cutting line or in the office or the
trailer pushing paper and politics. Every single one of these folks spends
the entire summer doing everything possible to do the best job they can and
to fix problems when they show up. They spend all winter trying to fix and
improve the agencies, policies, and other crap that comes up and causes
problems every summer. I don't have any patience for whiners, but I have
even less for ignorance. I can't believe you have the nerve to tell folks
on this board to "buck it up get it done do it well" - you don't even know
what has to get done!

"a forestry technician"
04/03 Firejock,

This whole post sounds like bait but I'll take it... The reason you laugh is because you fail to understand what the "big" picture is, humor to hide ignorance, you "love the job" because someone trained you how to love it, were you born with a red card? You hate the "agency" that provides you employment in an economy that is tanking with massive layoffs, war. economic instability? you should feel fortunate. Remember, you were still looking for a job when you were hired.

sting
04/03 Fire jock,

I looked at your post and laughed. If you want real Firefighters then you have come to the right place. I know allot of people who post on this forum (including myself) who are current or ex-longtime Hotshots, Smokejumpers, Helishots, Engine folks, Battalions and Division Chiefs.

That is why I say the "real Firefighters" are in here, if you want to put that label on it. Most of the people who post in this forum respect each other, even when we disagree about things. This is were you get information about budgets, contracting, hiring, job postings, training, and lately shuttle recovery.

Just because we write in to express our opinion does not make us less of a Firefighter. I love my job and the U.S. Forest Service because that is the agency that I work for and in my opinion one of the leaders in wildland firefighting in the nation. If you hate your agency so much and you do this " because its a job " then I would suggest you need to find a different line of work that you enjoy going too.

I would disagree with you about allot of people hating the agency if you are talking about the FS, If that was the case then we would not be getting over a hundred calls and resumes to come and work on my Forest every fire season.

An-R5er
04/03 "Fire jock" asks where are all the "real" firefighters, and says that those of us who do "post" on this site are not. She/he hates their agency, hates to have some of us on her/his crew, and wants us to "buck up..........and don't bitch about it!"

I'm having a hard time figuring where to start my reply. First, I've seldom seen the word "hate" used so frequently by someone in our business. If you hate your Agency so much, go somewhere else! There are wildland firefighting opportunities in 5-6 Federal agencies, most of the State Forestry organizations, many counties and rural departments, and with contractors. Get somewhere that you like! All that hatred is not worth the few extra $$ you get where you are.

As for being a "real firefighter", I guess that's all a matter of definition: if she/he believes that the only "real" firefighters are those that still work as Pulaski-motors, then I'll agree that I no longer meet that description of being "real". But.... as someone who has worked my way thru the Fire organization (suppression, prescribed, and management), I believe I paid my dues at the lower levels, and hopefully now make meaningful contributions by taking on more responsible positions that my earlier years prepared me for.

Those of us that address the budget and the other "political bullshit" that "fire jock" mentions are also the ones that get you hired, trained, equipped, moved to an Incident, fed, organized and returned home safely.

To put "Fire jock's" comments in the context of the current activities in Iraq: the only ones that matter are the Infantry squad members and M-1 tank crewmembers. General Tommy Franks, his staff, the Brigade/Battalion/Company/Platoon leaders aren't "real soldiers"!!! They're too much into the budget and "political bullshit." But........who made the war plan, organized the troops, bought the bullets/arty rounds/missiles/MRE's/gas & diesel/bandages/etc? Surely not Private Beetle Bailey!

After more than 30 years on the fireline (yeah, I still go out in Ops and Safety), I look back with nothing but great feelings about my agency and the opportunities it offered me. To me, its a source of satisfaction when someone says that I've still got "green underwear." I hope that "Fire jock" also has the opportunity to enjoy that feeling when her/his career is nearing an end.

To spend so much of your waking life "hating" is not how I chose to spend my life.....!

Mollysboy
04/03 Firejock, what is your definition of a real firefighter?

Sounds like you think that the FFT2 who has his/her nose in the dirt and
wants no part of responsibility or leadership are the only "real
firefighters" on the line.

Real firefighters have real responsibilities to get all those other things
that most of us find as distasteful as you do. Politics and budgets are
as much a part of the job as knowing how to safely go direct on a moving
fire.

Open your mind as wide as your mouth and you might learn something from
those "real firefighters" who have moved on to deal with the
B.S. that makes it possible for you to do the job you profess to love so
much.

I agree with you on the hero and glory part of your post. All the glory
went out of this job after the fires 5 minutes on the line.

Backburnfs
04/03 Oh to be young again. . .like Fire jock, and my only thoughts are on the next fire, where my nozzle is pointing, how deep to scrape, how many hours of OT so far this pay period. No worries about budgets, staffing, quotas, contracts, agreements, deadlines, supervising. Nope, just focus on my buddies and crew, no worries, it's just a job.

Imagine Fire jock... Doh dee doh dee doh (head in a dark place, stumbling around, thinks occasionally about getting a plexiglass belly button to enhance vision).

(Sometime later). . .
"D'oh! Hey where'd my crew go? What happened. . .? Why didn't anybody tell me?"

ecc1
04/03 I don't know where all the real firefighters are but they sure aren't writing to ab. I look at the stuff that you guys write about and laugh, why are astronauts more recognized then firefighters, why is 70% of budget to contractors, why are we under paid etc. All you talk about is a bunch of political bullshit. I do the job because I love it, I hate the agency, and a lot of firefighters do because there hard working, honest men and women. I would hate to have some of you on my crew. I don't do this because I want to be recongnized as a hero or for the glory, I do it because its a job. So buck up get it done, do it well and don't bitch about it.

Fire jock

P.S. thanks ab
04/03 Mellie et. al:

I read with interest that 70% of the the R5 budget
goes to contractors, but I don't think this should
come as a shock.

The most expensive thing the FS does is flight, and
with few exceptions, contractors are the go-to
people for aircraft and pilots.

Stuff like food and showers come from contractors too.
Looking even further, stuff like vehicles and tools,
even gasoline are bought from....contractors. As far
as I know there aren't any U.S. government plants
churning out pulaskis (though there may be warehouses
where they are stored.)

So what does the FS actually provide? People! Many
analogies have been made to the military, who do
things in a similar way. In this sense it fits:
Lockheed Martin might be building the planes, but we
don't ask them for pilots. Think too of the space
program: many contractors build shuttles and
equipment, but we send government employees into
orbit.

Much of the talk about the use of contractors gets
obscured by the fact that even though the federal
government may be viewed as "too large" by some, most
of the money spent goes to businesses large and small.

At heart should be whether the PEOPLE, the ones doing
the work on the lines, should be government employees.
Whether the task of protecting federal land from
wildfire should be an inherently government task or
not?

It shouldn't matter that since I buy my line gear from
a dealer in Oregon that my job isn't inherently
governmental. While equipment aids us, keeps us
safer, and allows us to work quicker, from what I've
seen two main things put fire out: weather and
people.

And since the weather isn't yet under our control, I
think it makes sense to have federal employees in
charge of federal lands.

JerseyBoy
04/02 Ab,

Could you post this Question for me? Can anyone explain the Forest Service Permanent hiring process? I was told that I was a candidate for a job, but they could not hire me out right due to the "rule of three". Can anyone explain this?

Thanks,
Swampthang
04/02 Ab,

Could you post this as an announcement for our upcoming conference.

Thank you. Ray C.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Southern California Association of Foresters and Fire Wardens
presents
2003 Annual Conference Program and Events
Camp Pilgrim Pines @ Oak Glen
May 1-2, 2003

This two day conference is an excellent training opportunity for everyone in the wildland firefighting community. For the experienced veteran to the new probationary firefighter. The guest speakers represent some of the great names in the firefighting community.

Topics this year include:
* Command during Catastrophic Interface wildland fire - Mike Rhode Orange County Fire Authority
* New Fire Shelters
* Pines Fire Structure Protection - Bill Clayton CDF San Diego
* 2002 Fire Season Overview - John Hawkins CDF Butte
* Aviation Update - Dennis Hulbert
* Healthy Forests - Mike Dietrich
* CICCS/South Op's - Pat Cooney & George Motschall
* 2003 Fire Weather Predictions - Sue Husari & Ron Hamilton

There will also be a variety of other activities packed into this two day event such as a comprehensive Vendor display of the latest in firefighting equipment. Raffles, Golf, etc.

Attendees for this years conference include:

United States Forest Service (USFS)
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF)
Los Angeles City Fire Department
Los Angeles County Fire Department
Kern County Fire Department
Orange County Fire Authority
Just to name a few.

For more information you can go to www.foresters-and-fire-wardens.org and
www.pilgrimpinescamp.org
04/02 Does anyone know of a good Saddler Fire powerpoint? I have the Sadler Entrapment Report linked from the Documents Worth Reading section. I'd like to present a powerpoint of the entrapment and lessons learned. Anyone have anything?

MW
04/02 Hi All,

Just a quick note. Seems the Bush's push for competitive outsourcing has had the effect of dividing our firefighting community who read and post here, at least to some degree. We're all in this together when it comes to fighting fire. We need cohesiveness. Contractors and all the rest of you not involved in A-76 may not even know some of the issues that have put fed folks so against this outsourcing process.

I did a little research the other day. From what I can find out, 70% of the R5 USFS budget already goes to contractors. (Correct me you budget gurus, if I'm wrong.) The FS operation in this region has been made much more efficient than it was 10 years ago. It has been pared down and streamlined. Continuing to make changes to increase efficiency is a good move.

However...

The problems are as follows:
1) the competitive sourcing timeframe has been accelerated so that we cannot get the studies done while doing our regular work,
2) there are huge quotas for how many jobs must be competitively sourced,
3) with respect to wildland fire, our most efficient FS business "structure" is not the centralized arrangement that we are being pushed toward on this accelerated timeframe.

I am certain that with help of business consultants who know this system, we can create another style of "most efficient organization" that reflects our multiple roles and functions, our network and takes into account our quality of work. But it takes time to figure out how to model our structure into a business model that fits the A-76 constraints. One consultant told me it's like a puzzle, a big complex and embedded puzzle. Seems the Bush Administration doesn't want to give us the time or resources to sort the puzzle to make the best decisions.

If you haven't read it, PLEASE read this LETTER that was sent to the OMB by 36 Senators who are worried by the current accelerated process of competitively sourcing the jobs of 850,000 federal employees, nearly half of the federal government! Doesn't this make some of you contractors just a little bit nervous for your children/ grandchildren who will have to live in this new United States? Aren't you a little anxious when you think about fire's effects on our interface population? Our President and the people who work for him, while good, are not infallible in their decision making processes. We need to look seriously at this process and get our government to take the time to let us do it right.

Ab, I'm sending in the pdf version of the letter too, in case anyone wants to see the letterhead and all the signatures.

Mellie

04/02 Giardia...I have had it and it sucks.

I had been sooooooo careful to not drink from the streams (Black Hills area) to avoid getting it. We knew it was a possibility as the local Ranger had told us some cases had been reported in the past years. Bottled water or tap water from canteens only... on duty.

But at the end of the day one of the crew had a six pack of cold beer. After I took a few sips I began to wonder.. how did he keep this so cool? Then he reached into the "cold clear stream" to pull out another....

Yep... just the residual water on the lip of the can was enough for a few days of fun and fever.

Take it from me... you can never be too careful.

Fireronin
04/01 Evening Ab and All, many of us are in San Diego. We're chatting in person and catching the evening news right at the moment.

CNN just had a report on "Blogging" in which people come together on the internet to report on or discuss an event. The sum of the process leads to a larger and better view of reality than might otherwise have been possible. Often individuals do research. We do some of that here on theysaid. Like with the Cerro Grande and potential radiation discussion. Noteworthy use of the internet for news gathering and truth seeking. Must take comments with a grain of salt, but the truth will out and often faster than might be imagined.

Firescribe & Firescribe
;) & :-)
Call us Firescribe Squared? (Well, Ab, we ain't there. Are we square? um hum)

No, no never square. Ab.
04/01 This is part of an article written by Larry Bonine of Pinnacle Leadership Group. I asked if I could forward it as was given approval. This says it like is it on safety.
"And Now a Word About Safety

At a recent kick off to a construction project, the safety engineer was given time to talk to both the contractor and government builders who would be constructing the project. He gave a good presentation; he covered statistics, tailgate meetings, OSHA compliance and a variety of safety issues to his engineer/foreman predominate audience. Like I said, it was a good solid safety presentation. An engineer's presentation.

When it was my turn to address the audience, I asked them, (almost a hundred were present) how many people in the room had up close and personal experience with someone being seriously hurt or killed on a construction project. Almost half of the people in the room raised their hand. I then asked the question, "As the ambulance drove away, was it emotional? At the funeral, was it emotional?" I had their attention, and of those who had raised their hands, ALL nodded yes.

Safety should be emotional...."

To read the rest of the article go HERE.
RS

04/01 There's a new article out on the risks of getting Giardia when drinking water from streams. You may not be as likely to get it as earlier thought. Here's the link to the whole article. Read it and make up your own mind.

Giardia info:
Drink from large fast-flowing streams whenever possible, preferably those entering from the side rather than those paralleling the trail. Drinking water from a lake is best advised at the inlet, with the next best place at the hopefully fast-flowing outlet.

Few Giardia cysts survive harsh Sierra winters. Contamination begins essentially anew each year, so springtime water is safer than summer or fall.

Water at higher elevations is safer than lower, partly because of reduced human and animal presence up high, and partly because water flowing to lower elevations picks up more contaminants the more distance it travels.

The colder the water is, the more likely it is freshly melted, meaning less opportunity for contamination.

Because filtration of water through soil removes Giardia cysts, deep well water is considered safe.7 By implication, springs in the wilderness should be, too.

One would think that after a heavy snow year, when streams run full and long, some kind of "flushing out" effect of lakes and streams must be occurring. Conversely, it makes sense to be more cautious in dry years.

Avoid water that likely could have passed through an area subject to heavy human or animal use.

If it doesn't look good? it's cloudy or has surface foam? treat it or don't drink it.
DF
04/01 Treehggr,

You suggested getting a union rep involved to work on “competitive sourcing.” You’re right on target, and I’m hooked up with the union working on this. Problem is, too damn many folks sitting back waiting for the union to do it for them. They just don’t get it: The union is folks doing it for themselves.

Right now the situation with outsourcing is that the Administration is not listening, nor are the political appointees that run the agencies. The union is pushing to get the word out to Congress, and to state and local officials and media. The message is:
  • Congress has said it’s against arbitrary quotas
  • OMB has told Congress it’s backing off arbitrary quotas
  • The FS says OMB is still mandating arbitrary quotas
  • Somebody’s lying – ask your rep to find out who
  • This is going to cost public servants their jobs and destroy the capability of the agency
  • Federal contract management even in experienced agencies is a huge failure (DOE and NASA)
  • What’s going to happen when the militia’s gone, a victim of arbitrary outsourcing?
Here’s what Congress said (in the 2003 Appropriations Resolution):
“…none of the funds made available in this Act may be used by an agency of the executive branch to establish, apply, or enforce any numerical goal, target, or quota for subjecting the employees of the executive agency to public-private competitions or for converting such employees or the work performed by such employees to private contractor performance under the Office of Management and Budget Circular A‑76 or any other administrative regulation, directive, or policy unless the goal, target, or quota is based on considered research and sound analysis of past activities and is consistent with the stated mission of the executive agency.” In the Conferees’ Report, everyone agreed, “the conferees want to emphasize the strong opposition in both chambers to the establishment of arbitrary goals, targets, and quotas.”
We need to hold the politicians accountable! Democratic senators and representatives have signed onto letters (I’ve attached one) to put the brakes on this thing. There are a lot of Republican reps that know “competitive sourcing” is a disaster, but they’ve caved to the pressure from the Whitehouse. They need to hear from their constituents.

We need to get a letter writing campaign going. Send letters to your reps and convince your buddies to do the same. Call in your favors. If you saved somebody’s ass, remind them and get them signed up. The following links will get you the congressional contact info.

www.senate.gov/
www.house.gov/

If at all possible, send a fax to their Washington office. After finding your senator or rep, just click on his/her name and you’ll get directed to his/her webpage. In most cases a fax number is listed. If not, call up and get the fax number.

In addition to contacting your home rep, send a copy to Senator Voinovich in his capacity as Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, and to Rep. Tom Davis in his capacity as Chair of the Committee on Government Reform. These guys are the movers and shakers, and both of their committees have recently held hearings where problems with contracting out were front and center.

GT
04/01 I just updated the jobs page, Series 462 and 455. Strange, but I have missed that chore.

The Links, Programs, Training Powerpoints and Chat are all back up and running. We should party tonight. Be there or be square! BYOB.

Ab.
 
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