"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland
||Ab, here's a good one. I had to write in. Got it in the mail from a CDF
friend who is worried about being laid off. Don't know who wrote it. He's
asking around. If anyone knows, please tell him or her THANKS! In the
meantime, Laugh on! Cry on? GEW
Subject: Memo to all CDF Employees
Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 15:42:09 -0700
Memo To All CDF Employees
Dear CDF Employee:
As the result of a reduction of funds budgeted for departments,
we are forced to cut down on the number of personnel. Under this
plan, older employees will be asked to take early retirement, thus
permitting the retention of younger people who represent our future.
Therefore, a program to phase out older personnel by the end of the
current fiscal year, via retirement, will go into effect immediately.
This program will be known as SLAP (Sever Late-Aged Personnel).
Employees who are SLAPPED will be given the opportunity to look for
jobs outside the company. SLAPPED employees can request a review
of their employment records before actual retirement takes place.
This review phase of the program is called SCREW (Survey of
Capabilities of Retired Early Workers).
All employees who have been SLAPPED and SCREWED may file
an appeal with upper management.
This appeal is called SHAFT (Study by Higher Authority Following
Under the terms of the new policy, an employee may be SLAPPED
once, SCREWED twice, but may be SHAFTED as many times as
the company deems appropriate.
If an employee follows the above procedure, he/she will be entitled
to get: HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel's Early
Severance) or CLAP (Combined Lump sum Assistance Payment).
As HERPES and CLAP are considered benefit plans, any
employee who has received HERPES or CLAP will no longer be
SLAPPED or SCREWED by the company.
Management wishes to assure the younger employees who remain
on board that the company will continue its policy of training
employees through our: Special High Intensity Training (SH*T).
We take pride in the amount of S*** our employees receive. We
have given our employees more S*** than any company in this
area. If any employee feels they do not receive enough S*** on
the job, see your immediate supervisor. Your supervisor is specially
trained to make sure you receive all the S*** you can stand.
And, once again, thanks for all your years of service with us.
||Regarding CDFMike from Arroyo Grande's post:
Federal IHC, Regional Hotshot, Type 1, and Type 2 IA crews are all
equipped with 6-8 radios in R-5.
The reason they have so many radios is twofold. The first purpose is to
help alleviate the "C" in LCES. The second purpose is that these
crews can be broken into small squads under a qualified FFT1 and still
remain in communication with the crew boss or supt. Since a CDF Type 1
crew cannot be broken up into smaller squads, obviously you wouldn't need
I have to agree with your post that some crews are always on their
"crew" tactical channel and not on the assigned incident
frequencies, but not just hotshots. I have lots of experience with other
agency resources, including my own, using their own local tactical
channels (engines, helitack, etc.) and being impossible to get ahold of.
I am "self limited faller" (old school from the 70's) and for
safety I use some flagging (plastic type) tape and a spotter, when
dropping a burning tree. I tie one end around my neck (single layer will
break before anything bad happens to you) and the other is given to my
spotter who is back watching the top of the tree. A good tug will get your
attention. Parachute cord, no matter where it is attached to the faller,
can hang you up. The flagging will will break free, no matter which escape
route you take or how it gets hung up.
Can anyone suggest and/or recommend an urban interface video suitable for
showing to the general public? I'm trying to increase awareness about
fuels reductions in both the Home Ignition Zone and along access/egress
routes such as private sub-division roads. Any info appreciated.
I'd like to throw in my two cents worth regarding the administration of
contracts and what I suspect could be in our future. I operate under an
EERA that is hosted by an Forest that shall remain nameless. The
contracting office has decided that a contract EngB only has to have
230/231 & 290 to be qualified - this is their INTERPRETATION of 310-1.
I have spent fair bit of time and money to take the training outlined in
310-1 and gotten my task books signed off over the last few seasons. I
know that over the long haul I'm in a better position, but it sure is
irritating to find out that the folks with three courses behind them are
on the same roster as I am....As someone that has worked as a contract
administrator, I don't envy them the job but why are the contractors being
asked/forced to administer the government's contract?
As for the future and my suspicions, I feel that the current pool of fire
suppression and support contractors are not your (read Federal Fire staff)
enemy. I think that we, and by we I mean all of us that are involved in
the current government/EERA arrangement, face a bigger danger. Unless we
get our act together and start pulling for each other, we could all be out
of the game. Eventually a Bechtel, Fluor Daniel, MDM, AT&T - Lockheed
Martin ring any bells? - is going to see a multi-billion dollar
opportunity that they can take over with relatively little expense. In the
very near future there could well be a VERY large corporation running
fires in our country.
Granted we could all apply for work with "THEM" but I, for one,
like the flexibility of my current situation - which isn't to say it's
easy. Most of us aren't looking for your jobs, we just want the
opportunity to work WITH you on more projects. Unfortunately the latest
Fuels Management solicitation was written in such a way that the little
folks - that live and work on your district, know the area, the weather,
etc. - aren't going to stand a chance of bidding.
If it's all going to Hell in a hand basket, isn't this the time to be
creative and show initiative? Change is hard, there's no doubt about that
- and you have to know that all your small business EERA's are constantly
faced with it as well. Aren't they giving you the opportunity to act less
like Big Government (BAD) and more like small government (GOOD) through
the stewardship concept? If the idea behind the current administration is
a return to more local control, let us help you look good, we can help you
exceed your goals...Maybe a Federal Fuels Reduction Agreement which acts
like project rate EERA?</soap box>
In NW MT it's raining today, snow pack is rapidly disappearing or gone, 10
hour fuels and bigger seem really dry based on sawing all week and burning
two weekends ago.
||Glad to see the parade issue was a joke, that was my first impression
but many seemed to be taking it seriously. Just to play devils advocate
for the WCT, how many firefighters died related to physical fitness issues
on the line under the step test, compared to the number who have died
taking the test and how many have died on the line since the pack test has
been the standard? I'm in favor of the pack test and wished we used it at
my department, but there are some areas I feel that the administration of
the test has some ways to go before I'll consider the agencies as meeting
their responsibilities to their employees / potential employees.
These discussions of the pack test tend to turn into childish shouting
matches but there are some areas that I think the agencies are harming
their employees and the abilities of the agency with the application of
the test particularly in prevention. Many go into prevention once they can
no longer perform at the level of primary fire positions due to physical
disability. Many can perform all the tasks which go along with the duties
of a wet patrol, but can no longer meet the arduous level of the pack
test. I don't know what the answer should be to those people, but it seems
harsh to boot them out of a job they are capable of providing good service
for just because they can no longer do the job of a hotshot, engine or
helicopter crew. Most wet patrols I've been around rarely act as
suppression personnel on anything larger than a camp fire but provide many
useful less strenuous fire line tasks, not dragging hose pack up a hill.
I've also known older helitackers(?) (what's the plural for helitack) that
are never used on the line but have great experience working in the
helibase who have been forced out because they physically can't pass the
test. The experience most of these people provide due to their experience
is invaluable, it is a shame to lose that due to the inflexible
application of a test of abilities that doesn't necessarily apply to their
Sure if they are expected to work on the line on occasion, or in other
ways need to meet that level they should pass the test, but it should not
be based solely on the fact their truck happens to meet the terms of an
engine or they are assigned to a helicopter but the crew has no intention
of using them on the line.
Again not suggesting that the test has to go, just that there is some need
to tweak its application to eliminate as much of the potential harm or
loss of qualified people who can not pass the test but are fully capable
of doing the job they actually do. I realize this is a small number of
individuals but most deserve the attempt, not all are lazy slobs. Unlike
structure departments that tend to have jobs that those physically unable
to perform suppression work can do and still provide a useful service,
with the widespread adoption of the pack test most wildland agencies don't
seem to have many of these positions left, dispatch is about the only
thing left and that is a fate worse than death for most line personnel and
tends to irritate those dispatchers who chose to enter that position for
making it a dumping ground for disabled firefighters. I don't have the
answers but if you don't take care of your firefighters as they get older
it becomes harder to retain them when they are younger. The Forest Service
used to be known to provide for its own. In the relatively short span I
worked for the agency I saw it change from one that looked for solutions
to its employees problems to an inflexible one that dumped them at the
first sign of trouble. I liked the old one better.
I agree with you that the Task Book system needs some work, it is a great
idea but is too reliant on subjective views, I worked with one excellent
firefighter who had 20 years in fire with the USFS, had been a crew boss
on a hotshot crew, and a captain on an engine, his DIVS was shot down
after several assignments, the last being over a week from IA to mop up,
yet his relief was less experienced and was passed as DIVS on his first
assignment which was one shift of mop up on that same fire. Personally
I've had my taskbooks held over my head in an attempt to influence my
actions unrelated to the position and others were signed off as soon as I
returned from class (before I know better) I've also seen a fair amount of
favoritism as far as handing out training assignments. I think the Task
book system is a great idea, far better than the take the class you are
one most of the fire service uses but it clearly needs some tweaking to
avoid passing people before they are ready or as a management tool to
What gives you the right to come down on some folks who choose the extra
set of eyes? I worked a multiple seasons as a sawyer on a hotshot crew and
yes I do agree that there needs to be only one person at the stump but I
would like that extra set of eyes in case I need them. I was also
D Dent and like some of the stuff he taught, however the more people
out for you the better.
In Region 5 the forests have entire committees that have to approve each
task book. People here are definitely qualified before the task books are
Maybe R6 needs a class action lawsuit or 2 to get them on the right road.
I wouldn't recommend it as the pain free route but if they can't be
professional about business, it opens the door.
Remember not all Regions dwell in the same pile of doo.
I’m not sure why you think jumpers should cross-train as rappellers,
when there are rappel units that do that job already. I don’t know why
they can’t co-exist, and why you apparently want the rappellers to lose
their jobs to jumpers.
I’ve never been a rappeller, but I think it’s a bad idea to try to mix
the two unless there is a commitment to ensure enough practice; since I
don’t think you can always get enough practice jumps as it is, I doubt
there would be enough time or money to get enough practice time on jumping
You claim that you don’t think that cross-training would compromise
safety. In my last post, as in this one, I’m trying to tell you why I
think it would do just that. Not trying to rip you here, but what’s your
basis for your statement? As someone who’s been there, I do think you
would compromise safety by cross-training. You say that jumping can’t be
that difficult because rookie training only lasts 6 weeks. Hey, if you
become a jumper, you can go ahead and think that way, but you’ll be
asking for trouble.
Anyone who has been a jumper can tell you that you learn a lot after
rookie training, that you learn with each jump. Some jumps are relatively
easy, some are very tough. You shouldn’t take any of them for granted.
Some look easy from up high, or even if you do a low pass, but you still
may not see all the hazards until it’s too late. I’m basing my
comments on my experience, not on what I heard somewhere. Having ended my
jump career with an injury, I sure wish I had mastered the skills better,
and I know the hard way how tough some jumps can be.
Again, why get rid of rappellers when there is no need to? Have both, use
them both. Certainly you won’t ‘improve’ jumping by taking away time
to work on jump skills.
As for jumping not being perfect, of course it isn’t; just ask any
jumper if you want confirmation. But neither using jumpers as rappellers
not privatizing it will improve things.
||We've added many new links to the Wildfire
Education Links Page. Many thanks to those who took the time to dig
them out and send them in. Educators are already appreciating it. We put a
permanent link to this page on the Links
page under education. Scroll down to the last slot. If the occasion
arises, let those in your communities know about this resource.
We've updated the Jobs Page,
wildland firefighter Series
462 and Series 455.
||After reading the post on parades causing deaths in the fire service, I
felt I needed to add my nickels worth. First off, what caused this ff to
have a heart attack? I seriously doubt the "stress " of driving
in a parade caused this. You go like maybe 5 mph if your lucky for an hour
or two, right?
According to a recent article on firehouse, heart attacks are the leading
cause of ff deaths. Why is that? Stress form the job, sure. Lifestyle?
sure. physical fitness? sure. Parades, hmmm, probably not. My point is we
as a brotherhood need to take better care of our selves, period. I know of
no firefighter that considers parades stressful or hazardous to their
health. Parades have been part of the fire service for hundreds of years.
To try to banish parades because its dangerous is ridiculous. You talk to
any youngster in America and ask them what they remember about parades in
their towns, cities, villages, whatever, and I bet 95 % would say the
firetrucks. The parades are a source of pride for the ff's and community
as a whole. Its a chance for them to get out and show their support for
each other. If we follow the train of thought about banishing parades,
maybe we should do the same for our returning war heroes and veterans. It
would certainly be stressful for them too.....I don't think so. I wouldn't
want to insult them like that. And what about when there is a LODD? The
funeral procession is a parade, in a way. Trucks driving down the road in
a procession, with the public out on the sidewalks. Should we not do those
too? My whole point with this rambling again is we, as a family- shots,
jumpers, rappellers, volunteers, career, etc, etc, etc, need to take
better care of ourselves.
||Please post the information contained in the message below. I'm sure the
Sawtooth Hotshots would like to see this.
We helped CNN Presents last summer in their efforts to film and interview
the Hot Shots on the fireline along with other activities. It should be an
interesting broadcast...tune in if you're interested.
A quick announcement. CNN Presents will finally premiere the television
documentary we produced last summer with the Sawtooth Hot Shots and the
Southwest Incident Management Teams that tackled the Biscuit Fire in
The program was pre-empted by the ramp up to events in Iraq and the
extensive war coverage the network produced.
Here are the details on the airdates for the program:
CNN Presents: Summer of Fire
8 pm ET, 5 pm ET
11 pm ET, 8 pm ET
And later that night at 2:00 a.m. ET, 11:00 pm PT
The show will repeat the following Saturday, June 14th.
I'm currently in Kuwait, about to drive to Baghdad this weekend. I'm
reachable via email over the next few days, if you have questions about
Producer (freelance), CNN Presents
Here's a quick description of the show:
· Summer of Fire: The summer of 2002 brought one of the most
intense fire seasons in 50 years. Drought and overgrown forests led to
infernos that raged hot and wild. Three states saw their biggest fires in
a century. Tackling these blazes were thousands of firefighters and
personnel, confronting the flames like an enemy on the battlefield. CNN's
Bruce Burkhardt brings the audience to that battle, with an inside view
from the fire line on the summer's biggest blaze. And our crew shadows a
twenty-person Hot Shot squad for a two-week shift on some of the most
challenging flames of a Summer of Fire.
||Re Snake River Sparky's comments:
Just for some general info, this year Oregon is
charging each contract crew $60 a day per crew while
on fire assignments. This money will be given to the
state to help monitor training and qualifications of
contract crews. The state (if they do it right) will
be going threw records and sitting in on classes to
assure that everything is taught to the set standards
and that task books and red cards aren't pencil
whipped. But the one question I want to throw out
there is when are we going to do a better job of
reviewing taskbooks on the Federal side? I've seen a
lot of people getting signed off that have very little
experience. Some areas in south central Oregon have
done a very poor job of getting their people out on
fires but sign things off as kind of a way to keep
people happy. I personally have seen two crew bosses
signed off that never had more than a ten person squad
under them and that was just a mop-up show. So for me
at times it's hard to understand why we as fed agency
aren't doing a better job of policing.
well thats my
I am red carded for the first time as an EMT-B for this fire season. For
all you veteran EMTs out there what are the most common injurys I will be
dealing with and what type of equipment will I be issued? Any good tips
can offer would be great. thanks
||To all you sawyers,
As a class c faller & former sawyer on a hotshot crew I am appalled
that all of you sawyers are looking for ways to depend on another person
to keep you alive while cutting timber. I am a firm believer in D. Doug
Dent's theory on keeping oneself alive by looking for aerial hazards
No matter which method of transmitting danger is used, by the time the
"swamper" reacts, the faller digests the information and reacts,
IT IS TOO LATE....The faller needs to be looking UP.. towards the danger
so he/she can react!
Now using earpieces, air horns, etc to warn of changing fire conditions,
incoming retardant / water, etc is a fine idea....
On Aerial Delivery of Firefighters,
As a current air attack, I am a firm believer in both the smokejumper and
rappel programs. Both are fine tools in a well rounded toolbox.
||Re: Lobotomy's post on CDF Crew radios,
I believe that ALL have a minimum of two regular handie-talkies. The
swamper and Captain are always going to have one each, and some Crews will
have more. The eight that Lobotomy mentions are on Shot crews seems almost
excessive and might help explain why we are so often unable to raise
neighboring Shot Crews on the tac net......
CDFMike from Arroyo Grande
||FRS radios, it is the FCC that has ruled that the
FAMILY service radios are to be used by the general
public. Private businesses and government are not
authorized to use the frequencies. The USDA and
Interior are restating policies that are already in
The only radio frequencies that are to be used on an
incident are those that are listed in the Incident
Action Plan or authorized by the local fire dispatch
if an IAP is not in place.
Official stuff said, there is the problem of the
command and tactical frequencies getting clogged with
use. This can be caused by a number of things; not
enough tactical frequencies, folks that talk too much,
too many radios on the line. Everyone's need to pass
info is important and they need to relay it now.
A major consideration is that there are not that many
frequencies that are dedicated to fire that can be
used nationwide. The NIFC Radio Cache is always
running out of frequencies and has to go to Washington
DC to temporarily borrow frequencies allocated to
various government agencies. In areas with a lot of
fire teams operating this is a monumental task, it is
one of those behind-the-scene jobs that really goes
The frequency plans we use today were really
established before King radios came on the scene. The
radios had fixed frequencies that could only be
changed by replacing crystals. There were not that
many radios on fires, radios brought in with people
from thier home units were not able to operate on the
incidents frequencies. Quite a different situation
than what we have today with programmable radios.
A few years ago there was a proposal to get shot crews
some frequencies to use. The problem was the freqs
they proposed were only authorized for the general
public and a some businesses that had a license issued
in the past, the radio type authorized for this use
also needs to meet certain requirements that the King
does not meet (a non-removable antenna and very low
power). Using these in the woods would be no problem,
get near town and have a fire start interfering with
Walmart or Taco Bell and I bet the fire would have to
move off, we would really see who has more pull in DC.
Getting a new frequency usable nationwide is near
impossible. Most are assigned to be used within a 60
mile radius of the licensee's residence. So a units
home frequencies are no good away from home, be it
contractor, FS, BLM.
There have been a few incidents on fire of units not
operating on assigned frequencies that could have had
serious consequences. There has been several memos
from high up saying that using unauthorized
frequencies will result in disciplinary action, but
have yet to hear of anyone getting into trouble.
I know there is a need for more frequencies to keep
the info flowing on the line, and the FRS radios are
small and handy to use and do serve a purpose. But I
will get up during briefing and state the official
line of only authorized freqs to be used, as that is
what I am required to do. So keep your FRS radios
hidden and don't ask me to program freqs that are not
in the comm plan into your radio.
||it seems i ruffled some of the jump wings.
in my original post i tried to make it clear that i
wasn't opposed to the jump program, but that there
might be some better, or more efficient ways of doing
i haven't been in fire that long, so i can't speak for
all the debates that came before me. but from the
people i have talked to in the fire world, folks with
many years of experience, seemed to echo one another's
sentiments - some of these people were former jumpers,
and some are current jumpers.
many believed that intensive rappel programs were
going to be the wave of the future - like the arroyo
grande helishot crew. i brought up the russian sj
article as a point of reference - the photos from that
piece showed 10 or so jumpers in a helo flying in to a
fire. seems as if the helishot program could be an
alternative to jumpers (better? the same? worse? in
different situations) i also heard comments that the
rappel program was being underutilized because of the
faith in the jumpers. this is good and bad in my
opinion: good that jumpers are so valuable that they
inspire such faith, bad that a better way may be
like i said in my first post - the rappel program is
still very much in its infancy, and running out of
flight time before rappellers, etc. is a problem that
needs to be solved.
and "fraternity", "tradition" and "resistance to
change" these are all words and phrases that have been
repeated to me many times by many people in the fire
personally, i think the jump program is excellent (5
of my former crewmates are jumpers now), but i don't
think its perfect.
i don't think that adding rappel duties to sj's would
necessarily compromise safety. i realize that jumping
out of a perfectly good plane and parachuting into the
woods requires different skills than sliding down a
rope. but this isn't rocket science - it only takes 6
weeks to complete rookie training for smokejumpers,
and not every second of that is spent learning how to
jump. why is the russian program able to do both?
is requiring u.s. sj's to be rappel qualified too
much? i can't say - i've been neither, but i don't
think i'm the first one to have thought this.
finally, my comment about public perception: sure, the
general public is appreciative of all the folks:
engines, ground-pounders and the like. how many times
have you told people that you're a wildland
firefighter only to be asked: "are you a smokejumper?"
or read an article about a fire that says that "the
crews working it include 8 smokejumpers." the public
thinks of wildfire and they think of smokejumpers -
its an image that is both natural (for the risks that
sj's take, and the quality of the job they do) and
contrived (from a misunderstanding of how fires are
fought). i don't mind explaining what i do - after
all we are all digging in the woods after arriving,
whether its by plane, helo, engine, or boots.
the contract jumpers comment was in response to a
conversation had on a long, long, mop-up shift last
summer. we were discussing outsourcing and someone
asked if cost were the only prohibiting factor to
having a contract jump force. it seems if all other
jobs were open to contracting, why wouldn't jumping?
thanks to all those for replying - i am still
relatively new to the fire game - and i like to ask
questions. this board is a great place to get answers.
||Guess it's time to "fess up": my latest post about Parades
Killing Firefighters was a feeble, and all too subtle, attempt to poke
those folks so outspoken in their opposition to the Work Capacity Test
Yeah, a 49 year old firefighter did die on Memorial Day while driving a
fire truck in a parade; and yeah, others have died under similar
circumstances, including polishing the engines in preparation for a
I was not making jest of their deaths, but rather trying to raise the
point (mostly unsuccessfully) that deaths from Heart Attacks can occur
when we least expect them, but that we shouldn't condemn/eliminate the
"precipitating event", be it a parade, the WCT, or walking up
the steps to church on a Sunday morning.
Rather, we should recognize that ours is, by its very nature, a hazardous
occupation/avocation. While no death in wildland fire operations is
acceptable, the extremely low % of deaths from the WCT versus the numbers
of firefighters talking it every year shouldn't keep us from expecting,
and measuring, a level of performance higher than one would get from
"Joe SixPack, the Couch Potato": Joe's Heart Attack on the
fireline could put many of the rest of us at risk trying to effect a
So, I apologize for being so abstract/obtuse/vague.......... but not for
believing that the WCT has moved us miles ahead of where we were in
Firefighter Fitness just a few years ago.
It's not upper management who says that the use of FRS radios is not
available... it's the FCC. The agencies are just following direction from
Unless...um.. you can consider a crew a "family" ... you might
be pushing the subject. I admit, we used to use them around the station
but stopped when we were told they were against reg's.
I see CDF handcrews using them all the time and I don't report them. Maybe
CDF could provide an additional HT for the swamper and maybe someone else?
Most Fed type crews have somewhere around eight radios assigned..... Most
CDF crews have one or two.
Agencies are just applying the rules and reg's.
||1800 Update on the Del Puerto Fire in SCU that started at 1130 today, 15
miles west of Patterson. It got up and ran right off the bat, like from 35
to 80 acres in 20 minutes.
It's now 500 acres, is 5 to 8% contained and is burning in grass and light
brush, some timber.
Currently 10 residences are threatened.
Today's fire behavior: Rapid rates of spread, spotting, gusty winds.
Temp: 90 degrees.
118 personnel from CDF, state park, local fire depts.
SCU stands for Santa Clara Unit, CDF. Ab.
CDF prohibits the use the FRS radios. However, I've seen some Crew
Captains using the little radios for comms between captain and swamper. I
was briefly assigned to a station that has a Model 5 and we used FRS as an
intercom between cab and crew seating. Against the rules but what are ya
gonna do ;)
I don't buy upper management's argument that FRS radios could cause a
problem on the line, I can tell the difference between my King HT and a
little Cobra HT. But I'm only an engine Captain with many years
I guess you could say I have issues with this little item.
Hope that helps,
We in York, Maine are mourning the death of David N. Hilton from a heart
attack on Saturday. He died young, was only 42, was an easygoing guy, a
good friend, and firefighter you could count on.
He also wrote one of the books on your books page: From York to the
Allagash: Forest Fire Lookouts of Maine.
We're all going to miss him.
fire burning in 500 acres in Stanislaus County
Firefighters battle first wildfire of '03
||About the smoke jumper v rappeller debate, what Sign Me BBSMJP is saying
is kinda off.
I am a rappeller and we have never run out of flight time before running
out of rappellers. As far as being more expensive, who knows? there is an
argument on both sides one helicopter or parachutes and injuries. I will
say that rappellers can fill most of the jobs that Sign Me BBSMJP listed,
but not all of them. Jumpers do have their place and are valuable in most
places. I also have to agree that a Fraternity is good, it carves your
place in this world. The jumpers jump the small fires as well as
rappellers but during a large fire, the rapellers rappel potential
helispots and sections that are hard to get to.
I reckon I'll stir the pot a little. We also have a small injury record as
well as a very safe record.
I could have been clearer. I was thinking of Big Blue's post below, where
he or she says, "The Department's of Agriculture and Interior have
prohibited the use of Family Radio Service (FRS) radios". and gave
I left out the "frequencies" and "models" part of
my post. Do CDF's specs match those of the feds? If a faller works on a
strictly CDF fire, could they use what The Hon Mouse suggests?
I’ll tell you why I don’t think jumpers should cross_train as
rappellers. I think jumping is a demanding skill, and it’s hard enough
to get enough practice jumps to stay current and sharp. When I was with
the BLM we tried to jump every two weeks, and I think people would benefit
from jumping more often than that. To try to work on another skill,
rappelling, would serve neither well. Air time is expensive, and I doubt
that there would be sufficient attention paid to either skill. Limited
budgets would force compromises, and safety would suffer.
I do think that jumpers would object to becoming rappellers, and I don’t
see why they should have to. I think the two programs can co-exist. As a
former jumper I would rather have a canopy over me than a helicopter; no
offense to rappellers.
I may get into trouble here, because I don’t have numbers handy, but my
memory is that airtime for our jumpships was less expensive than for
helicopters. If I’m wrong I’m confident that someone will correct me.
Are jumpers too expensive for the service they provide? I don’t think
so, not if you value initial attack and firefighters that can work without
support once on a fire.
Is it inefficient to load jumpers into a ship and have us patrol an area
that has been hit hard by lightning? I don’t think so. I remember a very
long day that started in Ely, Nevada, in July 1996. We got on the Twin
Otter early that morning, and in about an hour found a small fire and
dropped two on it, along with their gear; we ended up returning to drop
them a saw a little later. Stopped in Mesquite and later on in St. George,
UT, for gas, cargo, and picked up some USFS jumpers there. By that time
we'd jumped two more on another fire, and found a couple more fires. When
I went out the door around 6 pm, we had dropped on three different fires,
and we caught all of them while they were small. The one we didn’t drop
was too big for us, and it was way too windy to jump.
I think that one day showed the benefits of the jump program: We were able
to patrol a pretty vast area and respond quickly to smokes that had been
spotted, as well as pick up fires that had not yet been reported; we got
people on the fires quickly; we had sufficient supplies for three days on
each fire, and had we dropped the saw initially on the first fire, we
wouldn’t have had to return to it; we were able to pick up
pre-positioned cargo in St. George, as well as smokejumpers from a
different agency (Redmond folks, I think); we kept all our fires small.
I haven’t read the Outside article (couldn’t find it online) but I
understand the writer said that sometimes jumpers can see a freeway from
their fire. That’s certainly the case at Storm King, but let’s
remember how strapped that district was for resources at the time; also,
most of the time jumpers can get to a fire faster than anyone else, and it
just may make sense to use them even if there is a road nearby.
Will there ever be contract smokejumpers? I hope not. I’m out of jumping
now, and have no axe to grind here, but I doubt a contractor who has to
pay attention to the bottom line is going to focus on practice jumps the
way the government will (and as I’ve said above, they could spend more
time on it). Privatization is not a cure-all, no matter what this
Now a question for you: Based on what you’ve seen and heard, what
changes do you advocate for smokejumping?
||"We're Toast" - I haven't read it, but don't blame
smokejumpers for carrying out 90 years of firefighting policy.
Jersey Boy (5/28) - In my opinion it sounds like you need to talk to more
people to get more info on the smokejumper and rappel program. I'll try to
In your letter you write:
"…rappel… seems that this is a much more efficient way of
A recent gov't study showed that during busy times rappel helicopters run
out of flight time before they run out of rappellers. Rappel ships usually
can carry 2-6 rappellers. On the contrary, they run out of smokejumpers
before they run out of flight time. To make each program more efficient,
the rappel base needs another helicopter (expensive), while the smj base
needs more smj's (cheap).
Of my 100+ fire jumps only a few were 2/4 person small inaccessible IA
wilderness fires, while of ― of my fire jumps have been whole plane loads
(8-16 smjs) to escaping/emerging fires, non-wilderness, urban interface
"…share its territory…"
In most regions, especially 4, 5, 6 smj and rappel have been used for
years. R1 has a new rappel base on the Gallatin. The Panhandle or Kootenai
would be a better place, but that's OK. In my opinion both programs are a
"…as with Russian smokjumpers, why US jumpers weren't rappers as
In the past 15 years, many smjs from WYS, MSO, RDD, and NCSB have been
crossed trained in rappel ops. It has been tried, but it must not be very
efficient or they would still be doing it. During the past few years,
Russia and the US have been using a smj exchange program to integrate into
each other's program for a whole season with many ideas exchanged.
"…vehemently oppose external change…"
Where there is a need, smj have changed. Smjs are very versatile. Ie. 20
person crew. Fire Use. Fire overhead - STLC, DIVS, FOBS, OPSC, ATGS, MCAD,
EMTB etc. Prescribed burning all over the US during the fall, winter, and
spring. Local, regional and national fire training. Fire Research.
Technology and Development. Smj's learned and use arbor type climbing
techniques to climb trees to help APHIS with the Longhorn Beetle problems
in Chicago and New York.
A brotherhood… I see no problem with being a tight knit group.
IHC's, rappel, engine, district, all types of crews are proud of what they
do and care about each other. I wouldn't want anyone to change.
I find that the public loves ALL ground level FF's, not just smj's.
"…tax payer…" more than a few rappel bases average less than
3 rappel fires per year. All that expensive training and risk for not much
fire use. On the other hand it is not unusual for a plane load of smj's to
"save the day" by catching an escaping/emerging fire. We all
know big fires = big dollars. By catching these types of fires the smj
program pays for itself many times over. What a great investment!
I didn't try to step on anyone's toes or rope, and I am not saying the smj
program is perfect, but it sounds like Jersey Boy has been looking for smj
program info. Come on out, take a tour and visit a while!
BBSMJP (Bring Back the Smokejumper Program)
||Sounds as if Jersey Boy has a thorn in the side over Smokejumpers (??)
Got to throw my spittle into this fray. This turf deal with rotor and
fixed wing efficiencies has been going on FOREVER -- or at least since the
days of the Wright Bros. I remember drawing circles on maps and plotting
times of arrival, etc., etc. to see who was "fastest," who was
I come from a family of Smokejumpers, Helitack, Pilots, Shots, regular ol'
ground pounders -- you name it -- and we've beat it to death at many
"wonderful" holiday dinner tables.
First, let's talk "Fraternity." Yep, that's right on -- but a
would be "team" -- and it fits or SHOULD fit every entity sent
out of our
firefighting tool box -- that's what makes "efficiencies"
Believe me smokejumpers don't own the fraternity/sorority concept.
How about "tradition" -- the "stock" reason why
smokejumpers don't try
different aerial delivery methods? Well -- I must dispute this one. After
seeing programs that work, vs. don't work, programs that are safe vs.
unsafe -- I think TRADITION is better described as SPECIALIZATION. Too
much diversity of duties and the emphasis on one resource doing it all --
just leads to trouble. TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN on ONE system -- and the system
becomes more efficient and safe. Switching between procedures, methods of
delivery and equipment is something that shouts WATCH OUT. Not sure which
poison I'd pick -- being attached to a hovering huge bird on a hot day, or
jumping away from a flying bird on a hot day hoping to steer away from any
number of "great" leg-breaker landing spots.
Speaking from the love-hate relationship with the smokejumping/helicopter
community that keeps life entertaining:
Hi Cache Queen. Actually the smoke jumpers came up because of an
"Outside" article, but I agree with you about the entertaining
rivalry between crews and maintaining a "variety of tools" to
call on. Ab.
||In case someone might want to know what the National Weather Service
about the origin of a MICROBURST or DOWNBURST wind, here is the Special
Weather Statement for Southern Utah for this afternoon, along with a
definition of same. Think safety with every breath you take,
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SALT LAKE CITY UT
0936 AM MDT THU MAY 29 2003
...STRONG MICROBURST WINDS TODAY...
STRONG GUSTY WINDS TO 50 MPH OR HIGHER ARE LIKELY TODAY NEAR SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS ALTHOUGH LITTLE OR NO RAIN WILL REACH THE GROUND. MICROBURST
OR DOWNBURST WINDS OCCUR WHEN RAIN EVAPORATES BELOW THE CLOUD BASE AND THE
EVAPORATIVELY COOLED AIR RUSHES DOWNWARD AND SPREADS OUT AS A WIND GUST
AFTER IT HITS THE GROUND. CONDITIONS TODAY ARE IDEAL FOR THIS TO OCCUR AND
EVEN SMALL SHOWERS WILL BE CAPABLE OF GENERATING STRONG WINDS.
||CNN will be airing an hour long documentary called
"Summer of Fire" next week. It's a look at the 2002
fire season, and some of the issues that deal with
Its runs Sunday, June 8th at 8 & 11 pm (ET)
I think the producer of this piece got some help from theysaid behind
the scenes in finding some particular kind of video footage. Might be
interesting to see what the documentary is like... Expect a
"test" the day after. Ab.
I am trying to find a job working as a wildland firefighter. I will be
getting the basic training the week of June 16th. I was told that a man
named Pappy had listed a link to all of the places that were still looking
for crew members, and I looked for his name but I could not find it. I am
willing to move anywhere in the states and can leave as soon as I am done
with the training. If there is any information out there that could help
me, that would be great. Firefighting is what I want to do with my life
and I am trying to get the word out. I am also willing to start working
when all of the students go back to school in August.
Thanks for your help,
R Ty O
Hi Ty, that post sometime last week was by Papa. Here's the url. http://wwwnotes.fs.fed.us:81/r1/hr/fstemphire.nsf
Good luck with continuing in your efforts. Excellent that you created
an opportunity for acquiring the basics. Keep up your PT. Your name has
got to be on the most recent "list". Your dogged persistence
will pay off. Ab.
What CDF radio rules are you asking about? We have a program text course
that all new employees take explaining our system and the use of same.
I'm not really sure what you want!
the latest out of washington on competitive outsourcing. we'll see how the
fed fire agencies deal. to view the entire article, go www.washingtonpost.com
on a related note: will there ever be contract smokejumpers?
Thanks for the details on the PreAttack Plans. Reminds us all of the grunt
work that went into protecting the woods from fire and all the knowledge
that we might have lost with those retiring. I hope that whatever records
remain get put on computer and backed up. Such information seems
invaluable to me.
||Anybody know what the radio rules are for CDF?
Was I incorrect in reading the objection to parades as a joke?
But even so, one thing I’ve noticed in our area is that even though a
parade may mean being in full gear (wildland or bunkers) on hot asphalt
for several hours at a stretch, we tend not to prepare like we would if we
were “working”. This results in firefighters on parade who are hung
over (nah, that never happens), who aren’t paying attention to staying
watered up, or who are otherwise not paying attention to their physical
condition like they would on a fire line.
I think having firefighters on parade is a good thing…it may offend the
dignity of some, but realize that we are part of the community, we are
(largely) tax-payer supported, and getting our faces out there is a good
thing. Especially as a volunteer, I think it’s a great thing to raise
community awareness that these are their friends and relatives and
co-workers who are protecting lives and property. People tend to think
about all emergency response as sort of automatic. Something goes wrong,
they call 911, something gets fixed. Getting in people’s faces helps
them realize that there are a few extra steps in that equation.
Nerd on the Fireline
||Parades are good.
I showed up to one in my area in nomex and had a little kid yelling,
"Mommy, Mommy, look, a REAL firefighter." Made my day, my
week, my parade experience! If I have a heart attack and die while on
parade, St Peter will have to do that kid one better!
Was just reading your they said section and found a subject dear to my
heart. Keeping a sawyer safe. My wife even perks up when I get new safety
info. So I just Wanted to post my two cents worth. Could you post the
following to mouse:
Over a few years I have used several methods for alert while running a
power saw. The best method until recently was pcord around my secondary
wrist. One tug and I'm removing myself down a predetermined escape path.
This works well but has no directives. If my swamper is trying to warn me
of a snag falling towards me via my escape path Ive just went from bad to
worse. If you think about it you could see lots of what if problems to
I have recently purchased an ear bud for my BK radio that I placed inside
my ear muff. I contacted the FCC and received my own radio frequency
a $15 fee for a commercial application) and now use it with my swamper
agency may have a little used freq that you could piggy back on). This
answer works well for me after working out some very short commands for my
swamper. The drawback is that you must be familiar with your swamper and
work with him/her alot to know these commands. Full descriptions of the
problem tends to lead to the problem making itself aware to you before
swamper does. The other drawback is that the radio parts are expensive and
not as hardened as could be. You also still only have one way
I am always open to new techniques (especially those that make my job
and easier) So if you have any better ideas let me know.
Glad you chimed in Saw guy. Ab.
Don't you find it very suspicious that the number of deaths from
participating in parades aren't included in NIFC statistics? I think this
information should be available. Many firefighters are ordered to take
in parades, usually without adequate training or preparation. How can we
sending firefighters out on potentially fatal parade assignments unless
done the research and gotten a doctor's assessment of the medical threats
For that matter, what do parades have to do with firefighting? Why do we
firefighters at risk for an activity with an unproven connection to
firefighting? What about firefighters that lose their jobs because they
can't/won't participate in parades? Where are the unions on this? I don't
care what Brian Sharkey says, we're losing too many firefighters. In all
years of fighting fire I never had to take place in a parade, why now????
We used to use a very simple system of communication between faller and
spotter: a piece of paracord -- however long it needed to be -- one end
tied to the faller's arm the other in the hand of the spotter. One pull by
the spotter and the faller is out of there (without the saw, of course). I
personally witnessed this system save a guy's life as the top of a snag
came down right where he had been working. Hope this helps...not as
hi-tech as radios but definitely does the job.
||The Honorable Mouse
The powers that be say you cannot use the $40 FRS radios.
Family Radio Service (FRS) Radios
The Department's of Agriculture and Interior have prohibited the use of
Radio Service (FRS) radios. FRS radios cannot be used by anyone associated
federal wildland fire/incidents. This includes agency, military, and
personnel. Contact Steve Jenkins for more information.
Someone wanted to know what kind of engine was on the Dillon District of
River NF. Last year it was a type 6X, FS model 52, 2000 Ford F-450, 300
w/foam known as Engine 610. I don't believe it changed this year.
||To the Honorable Mouse:
I can’t comment on the use of the walkie-talkies with an earpiece, as I
haven’t any experience. However in the construction industry they are
now combining walkie-talkie type communication equipment right into a set
of earmuffs. Most commonly used for the guy on the ground (name???) to
communicate with the crane driver. They are fully integral with a boom
microphone attached. Some even have the feature of taking FM radio
broadcast (supposedly so that a single site broadcast would reach all the
workers on a site in case of an emergency but is mainly used to listen to
the local FM music station).
Down here 3M Australia was certainly evaluating them and they are sourced
out of the States. Had full OSHA & NIOSH approvals on the accompanying
literature. They also come in a model to attach directly onto a helmet
without the head strap. Just remember that the use of an earpiece is not
the same as wearing an earplug (or ear muff), which are designed to REDUCE
the amount of noise that reaches the eardrum. Either one of two things
will happen a) the ear piece will not provide enough sound reduction so
that damaging sound levels still reach the ear drum or, b) the ear piece
blocks out all sound which means the user can’t hear any sound coming
from that direction i.e. a shouted warning or blast of a horn (can lead to
If 3M have them, then surely they must also be in the market from other
manufacturers (check out these sites http://www.rahq.com/eartec.php .
Its always sad when we lose a firefighter in the line of duty, but its
even sadder when someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly from a routine
activity such as working out, sweeping the floor, doing the Pack Test, or
preparing for a public activity.
But to demand that all of the fire service cease parade activities because
one man dies from a heart attack is unrealistic. You are getting out of
hand with your demand, because predominantly volunteers suffer from sudden
death more than any other group in both the wildland and structural areas.
I won't stop participating in parades because of a fluke accident. How do
you know this wouldn't have happened before or after the parade, or what
the man's physical condition was that night or morning?
In the words of the Immortal Sgt. Hulka: "Lighten up, Francis."
Here's some info that might be of interest to some folks. There are
outsourcing brochures that were shared with Congress last week during
lobby week by the Union, during their meetings/briefings with Senators,
Congressmen, and Congressional Committees. There is also information on
health benefits and workman's comp for those who are interested. Thanks to
the union reps who are tackling the outsourcing issue!
Ab formatted the info and here's the stuff on Outsourcing.
If you'd like us to send you the info on health benefits and workman's
comp, let us know.
To further what Rotor2fire is saying. The primary mission of helicopters
is to deliver firefighters and drop water on "initial attack"
fires. "initial attack" meaning the first action taken on a
fire. Helicopters have limitations on paylaod but they fly very fast and
can land in some pretty amazing places. If no landing area is available,
rappel crews can deploy and fight fire or build a landing zone for the
Specialized training is required for working around helicopters, mostly
focusing on safety and proper use of this valuable and expensive resource.
Rappel crews go through extensive training on the ground and in the air to
safely rappel to the ground. Rappelling is a tool in the toolbox, but it
is only a way to get firefighters to the ground. Landing is the preferred
method for deploying firefighters.
I hope this helps you in your research,
||See, the Redding smokejumpers are in SoCal removing dead and dying
It’s always been a concern of mine when falling trees, especially on
fires, that my spotter won’t be able to communicate "incoming
danger" (usually falling objects from the tree) to me in a timely
enough fashion to do the me any good. Nearly all fallers wear
"hearing protection" of some kind, either ear plugs or ear
muffs. This is a health issue plus in one respect and a safety hazard in
Has anyone out there tried using the small handheld walkie talkie type
radios with an ear phone for improving faller safety? Like the faller uses
the ear phone and the swamper the handset to communicate with him. The set
I’m currently toying with costs $40.00 and has worked well in other
applications of "near proximity" communications in high noise
The Honorable Mouse.
There are three "types" of helicopters and each has particular
minimum specifications for allowable payload, number of passenger seats,
and water or retardant carrying capability, etc. If you want to see what
those are, look in the IHOG (Interagency Helicopter Operations Guide, Chapter
6 on page 2. Here's a link to the entire manual www.nifc.gov/ihog/
with all the specifications and rules for helicopters. The Arroyo Grande
sikorsky that Ab mentioned is a Type 1 or Heavy Helicopter and its crew is
a Type 1 Flight Crew. They have to be certified in the Type 1 Crew
requirements like hotshots.
Rappel crews usually travel on smaller ships. Before we get onboard, we
have to enter our accurate weight and the weight of our gear and tools
into calculations to make sure the load isn't too heavy, given the mission
and flying conditions. Conditions change during the course of the day. The
pilot has to constantly be careful we're not flying too high or too
heavy when it's too hot - given the ship's flying
On the photo part of this website, you should flip through the helicopter
photo pages to see the rapelling and aircraft photos. There's even some
photos of a descent taken through a helmet cam. I know what that feels
like, sometimes rapelling from 125 ft. Yeow, what a rush! Fighting fire
using helicopters to get there and back home is a fun career. Sometimes
exhausting, we work our butts off, but fun with great people. Can't wait
to get back up and out.
You can find training info for aviation positions on Ab's links page.
Here's a good one: http://iat.nifc.gov/.
Look down the lefthand list there, click "position descriptions"
and see what classes people working with helicopters have to take. I did a
bunch of ACE training this spring. It's terrific. You can do some of it
online and some at the training site. I'd recommend it to anyone. One
thing about all modes of firefighting - when we're not flying or fighting
fire, we're training.
Here's an old unofficial Malheur Rappel Crew site with some info.
||These questions may have been asked (and answered) but I did not see the
Why are the five Region 5 Type I IMT web sites down?
When are they expected back on line?
Hi Lasagna, nice mention, BTW.
The team pages have moved servers. Check our Links page under Federal.
That will take you to the Type
I and Type II
Team pages with appropriate links. Ab.
Getting along with others
As crews are finishing training and "tooling up", thoughts
turn to getting along with each other and working together as a crew. As
we all know, many in their first season and beyond are reasonably
qualified and capable. Often their success depends on whether they can get
A friend sent some advice to me. The original was transcribed from an Ann
Landers column from some years ago. I've modified it in some cases. (The
original column was entitled: The Ten Commandments of How to Get Along
with People.) If anyone has further modifications relevant to wildland
firefighting they'd like to add, please contribute. This bare-bones list
could be altered in more true and humorous ways.
- Keep skid chains on your tongue. Always say less than you think.
Remember your tone of voice and body language are part of your
message. Make an effort to talk less and listen more. How you say
something often counts more than what you say.
- Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully. We need to be able
to rely on each other.
- Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind and encouraging word to
or about somebody. Praise good work. A well-placed comment may spur
another to better themself. As one improves, so does the crew.
- Be interested in others: their pursuits, their work, their homes and
their (other) family. We also are a family. As with family, make merry
with those who rejoice: with those who weep, mourn -- unless what they
really need is a kick in the ass. Let everyone you meet, however
humble, feel that you regard them as a person of importance.
- Be cheerful -- well, at least no whining. Don't burden those around
you by dwelling on your aches and pains and small disappointments.
Remember, everyone is carrying some kind of a burden, and maybe more
gear than you.
- Keep an open mind. Discuss but don't argue unless your safety
depends on it. In general, think before you speak when nerves are
frayed and conversation gets "hot". It is a mark of a
superior mind to be able to disagree without being disagreeable,
especially with your crew supt or squaddies.
- Let your virtues, if you have any left, speak for themselves. Refuse
to talk about the vices of others, unless someone's life depends on
it. Discourage gossip. Some of it is a waste of valuable time and can
be destructive and hurtful.
- Take into consideration the feelings of others. Wit and humor at the
expense of another is never worth the pain you may inflict. Weeeeeell,
maybe sometimes it is, knowing the twisted humor of our fire crew. See
the next "commandment".
- Cultivate a thick skin. Pay no attention to ill-natured remarks
about you or your mama. Remember, the messenger may not be the most
accurate reporter. Simply live so that nobody will believe them.
- Don't be anxious about the credit due you. Do your best and be
patient. Ultimately your actions will speak louder than words. Forget
about yourself and let others "take note of" your
accomplishments. Success is much sweeter that way.
Ab, please add: PS. Thanks for the feedback on defensible space.
||Hi, my name is Emily, and for school I'm researching Helitack and
firefighting. I would like to have some information about the helicopters
from someone who knows. If you could direct me to someone that could tell
me certain types used for fires and training or if you know yourself,
could you please email me back soon!
Thank you for your time,
We normally don't post these, simply reply, but if anyone wants to
contribute, feel free. Since the AT's and smokejumpers got mentioned this
morning, the helicopter folks might want an excuse to wade in. (Why not
train smokejumpers to helirappel?) Correct me if I'm wrong, Emily, but you
probably need some firefighters to quote in your report, right? And the
report is due tomorrow? ;-)
You also might want to take a look at the Arroyo
Grande Flight Crew photo page. Click on the words under any of the
photos for the description of the crew and what the AG Heavy does.
Here's another informative link from the Forest Service web: Helicopters:
Multitasking aircraft. Links there to more Helitack and Rappeller
||For those following the tankers, here's an update from the Coloraodan
and Rose Davis:
...only nine heavy air tankers are ready to go if called upon today --
five heavy P-3s and four DC-type tankers. Nine P2V Neptunes and two
SP2Hs await inspection protocols ...before they are eligible for flight.
There are also going to be 8 MAFFS available, the article says. Ab.
||Re: We're Toast
I think the author went to far in calling for the
elimination of the jumpers, but i think he raised a
relevant, if underdiscussed point: the jumpers are
incredibly expensive for the services they provide. i
guess this could be applied to many different aspects
however, the question should be asked: are
smokejumpers necessary and desired? i think the
answer is "yes, but..."
the "but..." has to do with the rappel program, which
is still in many ways in its infancy. it seems that
this is a much more efficient way of transporting
firefighters, except for extremely long distances into
wilderness areas. it also seems that there is a lot
of resistance on the part of the jump community to
"share" its territory with the rappellers.
last summer's national geographic article on the
russian jumpers was interesting in that it noted that
their jumpers were also rappellers, and that only very
infrequently did they jump, most of the time they
rappelled. when i started asking questions about why
the US jumpers weren't rappellers as well, the stock
answer i got was "tradition."
most folks told me that the jumpers would vehemently
oppose any external change to their program, and that
since the jump community is so close (the word
'fraternity' was used often), and the public
perception of the jumpers was so grand, that the
program would never be cut - people would be left
wondering who would put the fires out.
i don't know to what extent what i was told is true,
but from what i've seen and heard there can and should
be changes made to the jump program.
my view as a firefighter and a taxpayer, is that if
we're doing things simply for the sake of "tradition"
and because of a mis-educated public attitude towards
the way fires are managed, we need as a fire
organization to start to re-evaluate our programs.
i certainly don't agree with the author of the outside
magazine article and think the jump program should be
eliminated. but the wildland fire world is going to
go through some major changes very soon - some that
will dramatically alter the jobs and lives of the
people who fight fires - and that may include the jump
||We added a new Current Event category to the News
Page: Bark Beetle and Fire. There are a whole new slew of articles
under the standard categories as well. Interesting to browse through if
you have time.
Updated the Jobs Page,
wildland firefighter Series
462 and Series 455
||Anyone know what happened to this alternative to (Bush's) Healthy
Forests legislation? Did it just fall by the wayside as competing
Federal Lands Hazardous Fuels Reduction Act of 2003
Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
I think so. Ab.
||Another interesting few on the wildfire situation in the US: the May
26th issue of "High Country News" (www.hcn.org) has a detailed
feature article titled "A
losing battle" authored by Ray Ring.
JC - I too thought that the anti-SJ comment in "Outside" was a
cheap shot: the author watched the pennies while the $100 bills burned up!
The whole wildfire issue has definitely got the limelight nationally:
now's the time for knowledgeable, experienced professionals in the
business to step forward and make your feelings known to those who make
the decisions (and allocate the $$).
The Public Resource Code says the minimum clearance is a minimum of 30
or a minimum of 100 feet if the CDF Unit Chief determines that fuels,
and potential warrant the decision. Some are a case by case decision and
some are a geographical area decision. In any case the landowner is given
no authority to continue past their property line, a problem in rural
where 25 foot setback minimums are common. The USFS is responsible for
clearance inspections on private lands within the Forest boundary and
Protection Area based upon the CDF Unit Chief's decision. USFS
leases are a special case. The law requires that the clearance be provided
on lands that are leased, owned, controlled, or occupied. If the
lease is only for the footprint of the cabin the leasee may not be
responsible for clearance unless otherwise stipulated. They leasee may
to clear for 100 feet but may not have the authority. What happens if they
cut vegetation on the Forest without permission? Now back to the rest of
bowl of esoteric dry cereal!
We're telling people on slopes especially to clear defensible space to 100
feet. With all the rain we've had there's LOTS of tall grass in CA.
Northern CA has it thicker and taller than normal. Currently it's green,
but all it will take is a few days of drying and "walla" lots of
fine fuel. We're telling them to break out their weed whackers too and get
||Anyone else notice that the "clear the flammable veg and ladder
homes" has jumped from 30 feet to 100 feet? Heard a CDFer say that
||Stu, were you able to procreate? Howz your memory? Maybe you didn't
Everybody, hit the ground poundin'. Be Safe.
||We're Toast article:
Biggest ticket item in firefighting is the air war. Surprised
Gantenbein didn't go after the ATs and the heavies. Picking
on the SJs seems kinda underhanded.
Actually, a good article. Many of us could say the same,
except when looking in the faces of folks who are about to
loose everything. That said, the Public needs to get a clue about
protecting their own homes. Homes, just another kind of fuel
type if you get right down to it ... in the abstract. Triage, name
of the game. Hard as that is.
Ref the Parades, I think you have just had your leg gently pulled!!!
The message is, life is deadly.
A Kiwi FF
||Dead trees... bigtime
Comments are escalating from "Oh my" to "Oh Sh*t" here
in AZ. We've got some 50-90% beetle kill ponderosa on the Prescott
National Forest south of Prescott down toward Mt. Union and Crown King. We
have had a major thicket of ladder fuels, now this. Something gets going
and we're set for a major rager, get out of the way already.
Heard about but didn't read that article yet, but "we're toast"
might not begin to describe our situation.
||Mollysboy, what did you think of the lines
"One good place to start with the cost-cutting: smoke jumpers.
They're brave, motivated and charismatic, but they're far too expensive
for the service they provide... The deep-wilderness fires they're
best-suited to fight are precisely the ones that usually should be left
alone. Maintaining nine federal smoke jumping bases and 400 jumpers,
meanwhile, sucks up some $20 million a year."
What would firefighting be without the smokejumpers? Regarding where to
let fires burn and where to suppress, the article made lots of sense...
in the abstract...
||Meghan: Graduation Fire started by lightning on 5/24/2003 at 1100 near
Ojo Feliz NM.
It's now 325 acres on state land, 90% contained.
Had about 90 firefighters fighting the blaze over the weekend, now has
35 state and private personnel working it, 7 engines, 1 type 2 handcrew
mostly doing mopup. The fire burned in ponderosa pine and grassland. No
homes or structures threatened.
That's about it. The season is underway...
What the hell are you talking about!!
Any Fire Service agency that doesn't participate in simple, good PR for
department, out there being visible, interacting with the public; is
in the past.
If you think the heart attack occurred just because he was in a parade;
Come on now!
Our job descriptions! It's your job to be in the public, visible, and
strutting your equipment.
Get that written into your contract
The STRESS you're talking about is your lack of comfort and
Yes it is a shame the firefighter died (god protect us all.. everyday)
Forgive me and correct me if I read your post wrong...
||STOP KILLING FIREFIGHTERS!!!
It's time for all of us in the firefighting business to stand up and end
NO MORE PARADES!!!
Yes, another fellow firefighter (49 years old) has died of cardiac arrest
while driving a fire truck in a Memorial Day parade in Pennsylvania. And
this is not the first fatality resulting from a parade: checking the
records, we find other fellow firefighters dying while polishing their
trucks IN PREPARATION for a parade.
Where in our job descriptions does it say we have to participate in
parades? Has the stress of driving on busy streets in front of thousands
of our fellow citizens ever been medically tested? We should have the
drivers hooked up to an EKG in their engine cabs to get real-time readings
on their heart rates and possible arrhythmias.
If you think the exposure once a year taking the Work Capacity Test is too
much, consider all the Parades each year: Xmas, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th
of July, Labor day, Veteran's Day, County Fair, Homecoming.........this
list of high risk exposures goes on and on!
As a firefighter community, we must protect our fellow firefighters from
this unnecessary risk: speak up now, to your Agency Administrators, Union
Reps, County Commissioners, VFW officials, etc. SAVE FIREFIGHTER LIVES!!!
2-4-D + 2-4-5-T mixed with diesel, ah, those were the days. Thanks for the
||For those of you receiving the "Next Generation Fire Shelter",
I pose a
Since the new practice shelters and video will not be out until July
are you using the old practice shelter as the tool to train with along
the Next Generation Pamphlet?
Will you not train and distribute until the time the video and practice
shelter is in your hand?
||Does anybody know anything about the Graduation Fire in Mora county, New
||T o: SM, DAS, Yactak & Mellie:
Pre Attack Plans are just that, pre attack, prefire starts. It entails a
TOTAL inventory (write ups) of fuel types, access routes w/ weight or size
limitations, water sources & availability by season, proposed
ports, staging areas + size, firecamp locations + size, plus aerial
etc,etc. All info collected was recorded and all FS districts used same
collection methods and forms. Can't remember if data was ever duplicated
FS districts were broken down in logical blocks of 10,000 to 30,000 acres.
Most were limited to smaller than 30,000 acres, depending in
plan and limited by topographic features from a fire standpoint,
secondary ridges, etc. Each district was assigned a letter, ie., district
1 would be assigned A, #2 district B and so forth. Next step, each
was divided into blocks as specified above with each block assigned a
designation, ie, A, B, C and so forth. So......if district 1 is A, their
first block was AA, next block AB and so forth. Each pre-attack block's
writeups kept in large three ring binders, now probably on computer. But,
any case paper can be copied, computer may be down. Data can be used if IA
fails. Maps were kept in Pre-Attack Atlas by the individual block. Data
take a lot of time to complete, by knowledgeable fire management people.
the S-TNF, Pre-Attack used to set up automatic Dispatch. Was fast &
System set up on Plans Green, Yellow, Orange & Red. All dispatch said
initiate Orange plan for Block AB or what ever. Then checked off engines
crews as they went in service. All IA forces knew where they to go. If you
didn't go in service, dispatch would gig ya. Cut down on a lot of radio
traffic. By gearing dispatch to pre-attack, eliminated everything else.
Course takes some thought by experienced folks to set up. Course can be
revised if need be.
Begin constructing signs (called targets). Targets are assembled, mark an
drill holes for mounting to posts, paint targets, construct needed
stencils, stencil data on target. Targets are equilateral triangles, 12
inches per side. Mounted flat side on top. These are stamped out of 12 or
gauge metal, can't remember which. Painted orange. Mounted on a metal
I think 8' length, so they can be driven into the ground w/post driver.
sighs are mounted w/metal screws or pop rivets. I have made them from
scratch, a pain. Find out how many are needed then contract out, the best
way. Whole block or district at a time, for cost. Course, when a fire goes
thru your area, new targets are in order. Have a spare or two.
Begin actual fireline (fuelbreaks) & helispot construction as funds
available. Once this is started can be time consuming but can be well
it. Maintenance of these two items used to be done by muleback spraying a
solution of 2-4-D + 2-4-5-T + diesel about every three years. To kill
resprouting. Don't think chemicals are allowed now. An acquaintance of
came up with an alternative of planting perennial grasses in the
as they are easy to zip down and clean out as needed, or a scratch line by
hand crews to fire from. Think that went under the guise as type
as I understand it. This was done on the Cuyama side of the LP in the
to mid 50's.
The onground writeups very important as fuel types, aspect, slope and
distance (chs) of line construction time elements, say geared to present
crew size, also for dozers, during planning phase worth a bunch because
proposed lines (ridges) have been walked on the ground and hazards as
outcrops) (bluffs) that are not passable with machines. Better to know
hand, as thats when you hear that little voice talkin to ya, your in deep
If actual construction cannot be done, put targets at the beginning and
ending of proposed line construction along main & secondary roads or
access, that way they can be located by folks on the ground that are not
familiar with the area. The writeups & inventories have been done at
A whole lot better than just stating out with a map and a dream in the
Been there, done that!!
On the Shasta-Trinity, Shasta side on the McCloud District, we started
inventory and signing in mid 60's also on the Modoc NF. Don't know how any
of it finally turned out. Also did some Pre-Attack mapping and inventory
R6 on the Willamette NF in mid 70's.
I can say I about fainted when I read in "TheySaid" that some of
data was thrown out!! That's hard to swallow as a lot of info and Blood
Sweat & Tears went into it!! By folks that are gone now and
experiences of a
whole generation of fire evolution is lost!! I mean the Mansfield's,
Currants, Dillingham's and Barr and others. Think the only one still
is Jerry Berry. Particularly on the LPNF. You know if one doesn't learn
past mistakes your bound to make'en again!! Some time you don't get away
with it a second time if you had some trouble the first time!! I was an
chief that got smart and went into Safety my last 5 yrs. Think this is
it is!! Always remember, you can grow more bushes!! Just follow the
"Established Safety Rules", there was a cost for write'em!!
Good Luck ,
Old, old fire guy=OOFG
||Anybody out there read the article "We're Toast" by Douglas
Gantenbein in the June 2003 "Outside" magazine?? Your
I am a student going to Georgain College and taking a pre-service
firefighting course. i have always been interested in the forest
firefighting. i was hoping that you could send me some information on
forest firefighting and if i could take any course that would help me get
into the program.
If u could send me anything information that would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Mike, I am unaware of wildland firefighting training in Ontario
Canada, nor do I know about 2 or 4 year Canadian universities or programs
where you could train as a firefighter. We have pages of links to such
programs in the US on the links
page under training & education, bottom category.
In the US, people apply to be federal or state wildland firefighters and
are trained on the job. Some go to schools that have firefighting programs
or take vocational education classes in firefighting, like the Regional
Occupational Program offerings in CA. Some volunteer and receive training.
Volunteering can get you a foot in the door. Maybe there are Canadians
reading who can answer your question. Have you asked at Job Connect at
your college? Ab.
Trying to figure out all of the IHC's starting dates (what
year the crew was established as an IHC). Any Help
would be appreciated.
Maybe you know about the Hotshot page, link on the links
page under jobs related links. The first link goes to the National
Interagency Hotshot Crew Page that has many broken links as the FS website
has been redesigned. I don't know if the crew page will be updated. There
is also a FS page called the Interagency Hotshot Crew List that links to
hotshot crews across the US. Get into that site and you will get a page
that has a link to the hotshot crew website if there is one. Most crew
websites have a history narrative that has the starting date. There are
many crews with no websites as yet. I suggest you do some research on the
91 or so crews listed there and then ask about specific crews for which
you can't find a date. Ab.
I have a simple question that may require a not so simple answer. The
sexual harassment stuff, that i know everyone and their mother has heard.
My question is simply is there a list of Mags. that are
"non-offensive" and "offensive" out there?...........
This is good to see. Pressures from the market place tend to raise
properties could lose insurance coverage
I am a college student majoring in computer science. I am interested in
position of Computer Technician Specialist for wildfires, but am not
familiar with the process of becoming an AD employee and getting called
I worked last year as a FF2 on a contract engine crew and have several
experience in computer networking, troubleshooting, repair, and websites
school districts, businesses and individuals.
Are there any FMOs or others out there who could offer some advice? One of
my questions is what classes might be required for this position? If any
specific classes are required, are there any scheduled for this year,
preferably in the Northwest? I have already completed my refresher class
and pack test for this year.
Thanks for any help anyone can offer! KC
I've had the experience of working several fires with a national
team as their CTSP, so may be able to provide some insight. Region 5 has
offered a CTSP training class for a few years now but I'm unsure of other
areas. I'm also unaware of any formal training or requirements for the
position. The R5 class (when I attended) provided some limited network
training, but focused mainly on the ISuite software program. More
information and downloads for I-Suite are available here: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/fire/i-suite/
Probably the easiest way to get experience with the program is to go to a
fire or two as a CDER (computer data entry recorder). Other than general
computer operation skills, I don't think there are any formal requirements
for the CDER position and they are usually in high demand. Once you have a
working knowledge of the software used, you will need to have a fairly
comprehensive knowledge of networking various pc operating systems.
Networking skills should include connecting Windows9x, 2000, and XP to
each other, knowledge of access points both wired and wireless, servers,
routers, hubs, sharing files/printers, etc. Best way to get the networking
skills is to find a current CTSP and get them to request you as a trainee.
Check the teams pages to find the CTSPs and make personal contact, there
are some very good ones out there. They won't have time to hold your hand
on a fire, so you should have a fairly strong working knowledge of
networking before you start asking. Ab
||Old, old, Fire Guy = OOFG
I have been a lurker for some years as I have been retired 8/88 but worked
as an AD for 8 more seasons.
Would like to try an answer some of the questions on Pre-Attack Plans for
SM,DAS,Yactak & Mellie. I personally worked on plans in R5, & R6.
How do I
answer in "they said" Old, old fire guy
All anyone needs to do to get a message posted here is click the
"Email Ab" button at the top of this or any other page on the
site. Put your message in the content of your email and send 'em in. To
avoid our trash bin, it's probably better not to include Viagra or XXX in
the Subject line. ;-) Ab.
||Updated the Jobs Page,
wildland firefighter Series
462 and Series 455.
||There are many old signs still around, at least on Lassen NF. Whether
paper records still exist or not I cannot say.
In answer to some of your SEAT questions. By 2005 all SEATS will be
required to have a red and white paint scheme as well as bold i.d. numbers
on the top of the left wing and bottom of the right wing. Those that don't
change right away will have to have large black and white i.d. stripes on
their wings. As I understand it there are 38 SEAT's on federal exclusive
use contracts this year. There are quite a few threads on this subject on
the message board at www.airtanker.com.
I hope this helps.
To all federal firefighters,
There are some big changes ahead for DoD firefighters. This is what they
are planning to do to us. This is the proposal outline put out by AFGE on
their federal firefighter web page. Its shows changes that will impact DoD
firefighters and all DoD employees. If this bill is passed for DoD
employees, then it will likely be adopted for many different federal
"The new DoD civilian personnel system proposal will change your job.
Unless you stop Congress from agreeing to the Rumsfeld Plan.
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has sent to Capitol Hill legislation which would
place civilian DoD employees under a completely new personnel system. And
DoD has asked for Congress to include these changes in the FY 2004 Defense
Authorization bill, which will be considered by the House and Senate Armed
Services Committees starting at the end of April.
The Rumsfeld proposal would allow DoD to waive approximately 12 major
chapters of Title 5, United States Code (Title 5 is the section of the law
which covers government organization and federal employment), and create a
new personnel system in place of those chapters.
The major areas which could be waived by DoD under this proposal are:
Pay and Position Classification Systems (chapters 53 and 51):
Waiving chapter 51 means that both the General Schedule (GS) and Federal
Wage System (FWS) or Wage Grade (WG) systems can be eliminated and
replaced with a system that does not provide for the annual raises
employees receive now. In addition, the new system would eliminate the
within-grade step increases currently provided to employees who are
eligible for them and who have performed at an acceptable level. Instead,
they intend to put employees into a pay-banding system which allows
supervisors to decide whether and by how much individual employees’ pay
will be adjusted. In other words, goodbye to annual pay raises and step
increases (within-grade increases or WIGIs). Your supervisor – not
Congress – will decide whether you get a raise – and how much – or
not. And if you don’t, you’ll be unlikely to have a chance to appeal
your supervisor’s decision.
Chapter 53 covers the current classification system and requires that
different pay levels for different jobs be based on the concept of “equal
pay for substantially equal work”. A new system would not necessarily
have to adhere to that standard. So jobs which are graded similarly now
might be treated completely differently after the new system is in place.
Performance Appraisal System (chapter 43):
Chapter 43 allows management to take action against poor performers.
In order to ensure that workers are given a fair shake, the law provides
employees with an opportunity to undergo a performance improvement period
(p-i-p) before they are disciplined for poor performance. In a new system
created by DoD, the p-i-p could be eliminated and/or the ability of the
employee to appeal disciplinary action could be eliminated.
Due Process and Appeal rights for disciplinary actions (ch. 75 &
Chapter 75 sets up a system for management to suspend, demote, or dismiss
an employee. It also provides an employee with due process rights and the
ability to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Under this
chapter, an employee against whom a disciplinary action is proposed is
entitled to: (1) advance written notice of the disciplinary action, (2) a
reasonable time to respond, (3) be represented by an attorney, (4) a
written decision by the agency listing the specific reasons for the
Chapter 77 establishes the procedures for appealing to the MSPB,
establishes the procedures for appealing discrimination decisions either
to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the MSPB, and
establishes judicial review of MSPB decisions.
Waiving chapters 75 and 77 allows DoD management to set up a personnel
system whereby employees have little or no right to information about why
they are being disciplined, and little or no right to appeal decisions
against them. This “managerial flexibility” raises profound
Collective Bargaining Rights (chapter 71):
Chapter 71 allows federal employees to organize into unions and bargain
collectively with management over some employment conditions. Waiving
chapter 71 allows DoD management to create a new labor-management system
tilted even more in favor of management.
In addition, language in the Rumsfeld proposal allows DoD to bypass local
unions’ bargaining rights, and eliminates the process by which disputes
between employee representatives and management are resolved.
Currently, impasses are sent to the Federal Services Impasses Panel
(FSIP), a seven member board selected entirely by President Bush, which
acts as a binding arbitrator on all disputes. The Rumsfeld Plan would
prohibit any bargaining impasses, no matter how routine or unrelated to
national security, from going to the FSIP. Instead, the bill would prevent
any third-party dispute resolution outside DoD. This is totally
unprecedented and ultimately makes the whole process a sham.
Hiring and Examination (chapters 31, 33):
The Rumsfeld proposal would allow DoD to waive requirements against hiring
relatives, as well as eliminate requirements for merit-based testing for
positions in the competitive service. Supervisors would be able to hire
and promote their cronies, relatives, and political favorites if these
sections of the law are eliminated.
Reduction-in-Force rules (chapter 35):
The Rumsfeld plan would eliminate the requirement that reductions-in-force
be conducted on the basis of tenure of employment, length of service, and
efficiency or performance ratings. In other words, supervisors could pick
and choose -- based on favoritism rather than performance, merit, and
seniority -- which employees get the pink slip and which don’t. This “flexibility”
is being sought by the Department even after it successfully downsized
several hundred thousand civilians after the Cold War without loss of
mission-essential efficiencies and capabilities.
Training (chapter 41):
It is not clear at this time what flexibilities on training DoD is
planning to implement.
AFGE strongly opposes the Rumsfeld Plan to change the personnel system for
If this proposal passes we, as DoD firefighters< are going to be up a
creek without a paddle. Hope the same isn't in store for all federal
||Pulaski, that SEAT in your picture and all the other SEAT photos
on the airtankers pages made me wonder... Are all SEATS yellow?
Like all big airtankers are red and white? Are there more SEATS
this year because of the groundings of the C-130s and the PBYs?
I can't answer your question about whether information still exists that
is tied to the old preattack signs. I imagine that there are some still
working that may have an answer. However, I do know that it was much more
widespread than the forests you mentioned. I have seen numerous faded
preattack signs on other forests.
Just a note on the 0081 series for the DOD. That codes covers ALL aspects
of Firefighting in the DOD. Wildland is but a sliver of the description.
Although the Army has asked for a Vol. list this year. Maybe the fire line
isn't that far off for some of us EX-"Wildlanders". You are
correct though the Wildland FF's need to have a common series number.
On the LP we were keeping current and updating pre attack plans well into
the mid to late 70's. 'Twas part of our regular winter work schedule. Pre
attack fellout of favor in the late 70's and early 80's with line
direction to remove all of the pre attack markers.
Some techs, read 462 firefighters, opted to keep the books around. In the
early 90's we started scouting the old blocks on the LP and doing current
size ups and write-ups of the old dozer lines, helispots, water sources,
firecamps, etc. This was all done due to the foresight of one retired LP
Hotshot Supe, ML.
The engine captain at Rincon Station, LPF, is currently collecting all the
updated data and producing district by district udated electronic data
with GIS maps for the LPF. It is an ongoing project with HUGE kudos for
resurrecting the program going to ML and also to the current Rincon
Captain for all his work in keeping it alive..... Also to the former
Captain (now SQF) for all of his work in helping get the program off the
||Maybe someone will answer this in the course of the thread,
but what was the purpose of the "Pre-Attack Markers"? What
were preattack PLANS? If a fire starts here we'll do this and
this? Does anyone who ever followed one think it helped?
Were they for IA only or did they tell places where dozers could
go? Were they BEFORE dozers? Ancient history? <chortle>
What do the markers look like. Maybe I've seen one and not
||When I worked for the Forest Service in San Bernardino, I remember
seeing metal stakes with triangular metal plates attached at the top of
the stake. I was told that these were "Pre-Attack Markers". Just
recently I spoke with a person that was involved with this program in the
late '50s to early '60s. He said that from what he remembers is that the
Cleveland, Angeles, San Bernardino and the Los Padres were the only
Forests that had this program.
Is there anyone out there that maybe able to give us some history
regarding the pre-attack markers? Does anyone know if any of the
information still exists and where one could view and or copy it?
||Thank you Jim, for the link for the history of air fire fighting. I was
born in Willows so I can't help but be interested. Although I am a
generation younger, and I left Willows after my '65 high school
graduation, the names are so familiar. My son is on an Arizona Hot Shot
crew for the first time and I'll be reading this column every day.
Firegirl387 - others are giving you great advice; call daily. The FS is
still filling positions because I get a couple of calls each week checking
to see if my son is available.
Welcome Cog, glad you can join us. Things are heating up. Ab.
||Some more photos up... on the Handcrews
8 photo page. More coming. Thanks to all contributors.
Flames and the Ventura County Fire Crew 1-1 from ..............
Crew Guy Morton Salt
Some fire photos from Wisconsin where it's been a busy season already.
Read the photo descriptions.
And some historical photos of Hot Shot Crews:
The El Cariso Hot Shots in 1972. Missing from the photo are Bill
Gabbert (photographer) and Ron Campbell (Superintendent).
The Laguna Hot Shots in 1975. Missing from the photo is Bill
||Some interesting info from the National Federation of Federal Employees
(NFFE- a union that covers federal employees) in a letter to the FS Chief
responding to a request for feedback on the plans for competitive
Just a few more
factoids for the conversation grist.
We put that up the week you were not online. Worth reading if you
missed it. Ab.
||Hello to all out there in Fire Land,
Here we are, yet another start to the summer Fire Season in the United
States. Already this month we have had some good fire activity starting
out in Southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. According to the
experts this year's Fire Season is going to be close to the severity of
last year's season.
This is the time when many of the seasonal firefighters for the Federal
Government (USFS, BLM, NPS, BIA, USF&W) start bringing on or have
brought on the engine, helitack, and hand crews for the 2003 Season. To
all of you, welcome, and have a safe fire season.
What I want to talk to many of the temporary fire crews about is not about
fire safety, the 10 &18, or fire behavior. What I want to discuss with
you today is your future in Wildland Fire. There may be a time down
the road where you may choose this as your permanent career. What you do
now to help yourself outside your on-duty time can help you reach your
goals, or at least make things better.
What I am talking about is joining the Federal Wildland Fire Services
Association (FWFSA). The website can be found at www.fwfsa.org.
I can go into all the benefits of it but you can look those up on the
The best thing I want to get across is the support you give will help both
the temporary and permanent in the areas of classification and
compensation. Your brother Federal Structural Firefighters (Dept. of
Defense, Energy, Veterans, Interior, and others) are members of the IAFF
and have a small voice in the big picture as to federal issues such as
pay, hours, benefits, and legislative matters that affect the federal fire
service. By joining the WFWSA you become members of the IAFF and the
California Professional Firefighters (CPF) if you are in California.
Its through these two groups that positive change is going to occur. If
all of the seasonal and permanent firefighters in the Federal System were
to join the power of the Federal Firefighter on federal fire issues,
numbers would increase dramatically by bringing the current 4000+
membership in the IAFF upwards of 20,000. That is a significant voice that
legislators listen to when it comes to supporting fire bills and
What does it cost you? Its a $10.00 membership fee and then $10.00 per pay
period (that's less than four meals at McDonalds, or 2 trips to the
movies, a tank of gas, or a case of good beer per month). What do you get?
Access to the benefits of the IAFF and CPF, representation on legislative
matters which will lead to better working conditions, pay, and benefits
for all wildland firefighters.
What will happen if you don't join? Nothing. No better pay or benefits,
management will continue to force their will on you, no representation on
legislative matters, etc..
Right now there are a handful of permanent wildland firefighters pushing
hard for these better conditions that you all would want, but it takes
money to make money. It takes strength in numbers to make change happen.
The Wildland Agencies don't want you to join because they will loose that
deathgrip control they hold over the people who do the work and risk their
lives to protect the nation's natural resources. Who here in the Wildland
Fire Community does not want Portal-to-Portal Pay when off forest/district
on assignment? Its not going to happen when you sit on the sidelines and
I encourage you all to talk to your local representatives for the FWFSA,
ask them direct questions about what's going on, and you will hear direct
answers. Mike Preasmeyer, Kent Swartzslander, and Denny Bungarz are good
men who know the issues and are pushing hard for change. They are helped
by CPF Federal Fire Representative Casey Judd in the legislative matters
they are pursuing for your benefit.
So take a moment to decide this:
Do I want things to be better for me, or not? Benjamin Franklin most
famous quote during the American Revolution can be applied here today:
"If we don't hang together, we will all hang separately."
||Ab, Here are 3 pictures of the Jeffco Air Tanker Base operations and as
per your request, a little information for each picture:
DC-3 - Taken March 26th, 2003 at Jeffco Airport (KBJC). From what
guys working on it told me , it was here for some repair to the prop
governor. You may also notice some snow in the far off distance at the
bottom left hand corner of the picture. That was snow from the March
Blizzard of '03 that hit Denver from March 17th - 21st.
P-3 (Tanker 22) - Taken on April 27th, 2002 at Jeffco Airport
While normally this aircraft would be parked at the Forest Service's
Jeffco Air Tanker Base, it was on this day parked on the Airport's
terminal ramp. The tanker crews occasionally park them there if the
aircraft needs minor maintenance or as overflow parking when the Forest
Service ramp is full. That is the main Terminal building behind the
aircraft and the Air Traffic Control tower beyond that.
PB4Y-4 (Tanker 126) - Was also taken on April 27th, 2002 at Jeffco
Airport (KBJC). This aircraft was parked on the Forest Service's Jeffco
Air Tanker Base ramp area. Behind the aircraft is the Flatirons (the
bare rock formations jutting out of the mountain) which are located just
above Boulder, CO.
Well I hope that helps. I will try to send you a few more when I get some
time. Until then.
Thanks Rob, I put them on the Airtankers
7 photo page. Ab.
||Ab, Here's a nice history of air tankers: www.colusi.org/linked/html/history_of_agricultural_aviation.php
I know there has been some discussion of this from time to time,
especially the part about the early days at Willows CA. Got the link off
the AT message board.
There were 2 notices posted just yesterday for GS462-2 positions:
Are you calling the primary contacts listed on the notices?
If you’re having absolutely no luck, you might try introducing yourself
at your local volunteer fire department. In my area at least, the fire
departments often have thinning crews and even wildland hand crews that
are paid or partly paid. They’re frequently short handed, and even if
they can’t get you on a “real” fire crew this year, you can come
away with training and names for next year… plus getting your face out
there like sting suggested. And though some of the “regulars” might
deny this, there are some very good vollie crews out there.
Nerd on the Fireline
||Firegirl387 and all the others who didn't get hired this year,
You sound enthusiastic about getting a fire job but you have left the
yeast out of the bread, did you call any specific stations, forests, units
and let them know who you are? what jobs you applied for? any special
skills you might have? did you fax any resumes or bio's to any
supervisors? did you make any personal appearances to any units to place a
name/voice with a person? If you answered no to all of these, then the
people doing the hiring only saw a name with a SSN and a grade rating on a
list with hundreds of other names. Unfortunately for you and all potential
WLFF's, this is the hiring process we are stuck with.
If you really want a job, you need to MARKET yourself. You need to make
phone calls, drive to stations you are interested in. Bring a resume,
enthusiasm and a good, respectful attitude with you and someone is going
to hire you.
It is not too late, call some units, tell them what they need to know and
make yourself available for whatever they offer. Turnover can be high
early season due to injuries, promotions or just plain old "flaking
out". I only hired people who contacted and "proved" to us
that they really wanted a job. If you only submitted an application and
sat by the phone, you were just a name on a hundred different lists.
I hope you take this the right way, Good Luck.
Ab's advice: Do as sting says. You may feel like a pest, but you must
be assertive and sell yourself.
Here's something: www.fs.fed.us/fire/wfsa/wildland_situation%20analysis.php
After you read what a WFSA is, you can hit the home button to find out
I also glanced through the Northern Rockies Type I Incident Management
Teams document looking at their teams and rotations. (Nice team pages Ab.)
There's a fire complexity analysis checklist that starts on p19 with a
list of conditions and you check "yes the condition exists" or
"no it does not". You can see how the process works.
Oh, forgot this. Please add. It's in pdf...
A fire Complexity analysis is part of the Wildland Fire Situation
Analysis, that is done when any fire escapes initial attack ( or being
used to meet resource objectives - but is called something else then).
There are a number of things that are taken into account, in making this
determination. If you're interested in specifics, you should contact your
||Anyone know how they do a fire complexity analysis?
Is it done when the fire escapes IA? gets to 100 acres
in trees or 300 acres in grass? I was reading something
that said one was done and didn't know when or how.
Why must be to know what type of team to get= Type
3 or 2 or 1...
Thought folks might want to know there's going to be a memorial dedication
for the T-130 Crew in Walker CA on June 14th at 1400. As I understand it
this will be held near the crash site on Hwy 395 north of Walker.
||Lookit this. You can enter your availability status in ROSS by way or
the SW GACC site.
Any other GACC's have this?
The only thing the SW site is missing are a list of the type I and II
teams and links to their rosters, websites, team rotations. Ab I like what
you've done with the team pages.
Look on Links
page under Fed. I added the link to the Fire Use Teams site, too. Ab.
I have been a fan of this site for quite a few months. It is very
informative. I am trying to get a job in wildland fire, but I am really
starting to lose hope. I have put in several applications with the Forest
Service, NPS, DOI and BLM. I did tried to get them in early as
recommended, most I did in January. A friend of mine who is retired from
the Forest Service told me I am qualified for entry level. Well here it is
almost the end of May and I haven't heard a thing from any of them. I did
get a few confirmation email's from the Forest Service letting me know
that everything went through but that is about it. I am just wondering if
I should give up all hope and start the search for other summer
employment. Is there anything else I should be doing to try and get in? Is
it normal to wait this long to hear something? Any advice anyone could
give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the great site!
||It is always good to know what is being said out there. It is articles
like this which shape attitudes.
Wildfire Act Would Allow Clear-Cutting In National Forests
NM Fire Gypsy
||California Firefighters Memorial
1st annual Ceremony at Capitol Park, Sacramento will be held this
Thursday, May 22nd. Several Wildland Firefighters will have their names
added from 2002. The Forest Service Honor guard will be there. Hope to see
alot of Forest Service, BLM & Park Service folks in uniform. If you
need additional info, www.memorial.cpf.org.
Mike Preasmeyer - President, FWFSA
||Some Ab thanks go out to a group of folks (Mellie, Hickman, WP, Old
Fire Guy, Tahoe Terrie, some folks from R5 prevention and Pulaski) who
have come up with a new page of educational links for us:
We get a number of inquiries from educators regarding teaching kids about
wildfire. It's taking more and more time to reply to them. This "page
of links" seems a good alternative way to point them in the right
If anyone has more non-commercial links to suggest, especially lesson
plans and resources for teachers to use with elementary through high
school kids, please send them in.
||Re implementing the 401 series:
Here is the
document we got concerning this. I also have background
documents, if you like, about what the requirements of the 401 series
are. This is enough to get the gist of what I was whining about. I
was off yesterday but got your message. Yes this is a big one. Im'
surprised it hasn't come up on theysaid already.....
Here are the additional enclosures:
From what I've been able to learn about the 401 series requirement
coming for those GS9 and above... based on very incomplete
information... (the main contact person won't be back in town until
Friday) ... but I don't want the thread to languish and die.
What I have heard is that you are required to have 24 units in various
categories. You do not need to have a college degree.
There's a Technical Fire Management program offered in the Pacific
Northwest by a contract group. It's a good mid-career training that will
get you 15 units and 3 more units if you do the final project = 18 total
(of the 24 units needed). The problem is that the program will not be able
to handle the hundreds of people who will need to get up to speed to keep
their jobs when the WO implements the new requirements. Word is that they
can only handle about 30 people per year.
Here's how I figure the numbers who will have educational needs for R5
Six Rivers has about 15 experienced fire people who will need the
additional training. Our forest is smaller than the bulk of forests in R5,
so 15 is probably a fairly conservative number. Multiply 15 by 19 (R5
forests plus Lake Tahoe Basin). That's more than 285 people who will need
training like this (plus will need another 6 units of a specific sort from
somewhere else) to retain their fire jobs.
I hope that someone in the WO has done an impact analysis. I also heard
that it is likely to impact about 50% of experienced fire managers
I have a call in to the RO to get up-to-date complete information. I know
that the Academy has been working on getting college credit for those
taking training there, but don't know how that plays into this issue at
the higher levels of fire expertise.
I'll try to update this topic definitively on Friday after I talk with the
person who knows.
When I get a chance, I'll write up some more on the issue... having to do
with knowledge and wisdom and professionalism... which are often not
measurable by traditional academic institutions, especially when relating
to WILDLAND FIRE.
PS Thanks to whomever sent in the info on Rick Lupe. I have my candle lit
for him and his family and a card on the way. Be Safe, my friends.
||Re: Fire crews used for non-fire incidents.
Personally I believe wildfire fighters have been part of an "all risk
organization" since the beginning. In the beginning fighting remote
wildfires was a largely unknown and experimental exercise. We will never
know how many early firefighters died after being sent in to control fires
without proper equipment or training. This tradition extended into the
1950s when (mostly Native American) fire crews were used by the Department
of Defense to clear unexploded artillery rounds from its artillery
practice ranges. Fire crews were even used to collect tons of radioactive
debris from test areas at Los Alamos...and given only leather gloves as
protective gear. Could the DOD have used its own "people" for
these duties? Sure. But it was deemed more "expedient" to use
(expedient, adj. 1.useful for effecting a desired result, convenient.2.
based on or guided by self interest.)
We currently send tens of thousands young folks with very little relative
experience into the fast changing and unknown risk (by them) of wildfires
every year. We have gotten much better at training and safety
consciousness over the past 5 years and thanks in large part to the public
outcry over fireline deaths of wildfire fighters who may have been
unnecessarily placed in harms way with inadequate support and
training/experience. It seems the old emphasis on fighting fire
aggressively but safely is slowly changing to fighting fire safely but
aggressively. This is a very good thing for the individual firefighter.
Unfortunately the emerging improved "safety credo" is ignored
when it is "expedient" to use crews trained in wildfire
suppression as cheap labor sources for duty with unknown dangers.
Loopholes in the Federal (and most State) fair employment practice and
employee safety laws make the use of fire crews for duties with unknown
dangers which must be quickly responded to very tempting to those "at
Simply put we have very little recourse when our superiors place us in
harms way... unless they can be proven to be aware of the danger
beforehand. Unless they "knowingly" send us on missions with
harmful consequences we are the sole bearers of the burden of any such
consequences as a result of that duty. Ignorance ..in this case.. is a
shield to those who benefit by having a ready rapid response force of
crews willing to "go where they are sent and do what they are
told" as cheaply as we are. And cheap labor is what we are. It is
always "expedient" to use cheap labor wherever possible since
going over budget is a career killer.
Compare what it would cost to mobilize a force of properly trained and
outfitted crews to search for possibly toxic shuttle debris compared to
what the bill was for crews trained and outfitted to fight wildfire. And
then add the cost of dealing with long term heath effects which may be a
result of exposure to unknown toxins. Unlike the relatively cheap and
unorganized labor of fire crews the folks who are "properly trained
and equipped" for going into "unknown danger" are usually
well paid and belong to unions. Where they might be able to sue for
compensation if they are injured by those "unknown dangers" fire
crews will likely not even be aware that consequences might result from
their duty and will certainly not have the organization or resources
required to bring suit for compensation.
As a recent example of our use in "all risk" situations...
When inquires were made regarding the possible exposure of firefighters at
the Los Alamos area fire to radioactive elements in the smoke the LANL
(Los Alamos National Lab) response was "a certain range of
radioactivity is present is all smoke from burning vegetation" and
that "the level of radioactivity in the smoke from the forest fires
in the Los Alamos area was within that range". The inference was fire
fighter were not exposed to any greater danger due to radioactivity than
in a "normal" wildfire. When further inquiries were made
regarding how LANL knew this the response was essentially "because we
monitor the levels of radioactivity in the air around Los Alamos
continuously". However, when asked to provide the data from their air
monitoring devices the period of time during which the fires were actually
near the former test grounds was conspicuously absent. Looking at the
available information it appeared that levels of radioactivity in the air
was rising up to the point of missing data.. and on the way down when
monitor data resumed. The obvious inference was that in fact airborne
radioactivity exceeded the level at which some liability might attach and
that data which might provide any evidence to a future legal inquiry was
To a skeptical mind it would seem that the "expedient" solution
to decades of suits by fire crews was to simply destroy any evidence.
Would professionals who were aware of the danger they were being sent into
be subject to such shenanigan's? Of course not.. they would have been
equipped with their own monitoring equipment. This would have not only
provided an opportunity for such properly equipped and trained
professionals to avoid exposure but evidence of exposure which could be
later used to secure compensation for the consequences of such exposure.
Fire crews in contrast had only a few simple Geiger counters which are
simply not suitable for measuring exposure to airborne radioactive
contamination. On the contrary... the indication from these devices would
tend to allay fears of possible radioactive exposure.. to those with
inadequate training in the specific risk of airborne radioactive
particulate. Those with the proper training would know better than to rely
upon this inappropriate equipment. They also would have known better than
to take POSSIBLY contaminated equipment offsite after the incident.
Certainly NO properly trained individual would have taken POSSIBLY
contaminated gear home with them. Yet to have required fire crews to leave
all their gear at the incident would have alerted them to the possible
danger they had been exposed to. It was not "expedient" to do
I have been personally exposed to many dangers I was in no way trained to
safely deal with during my duties on non-fire assignments simply because
"it was an emergency" and I had some skill that was immediately
required at the incident. Was I ever informed of the danger? Never. Would
I ever have a chance of obtaining compensation for health consequences
resulting from those exposures? Never. Could my superiors be held
responsible for any consequences including my death on the incident? Of
course not... they were "ignorant" of the specific dangers. And
of course it was "expedient" to be so. And I am sure it was much
easier for them to sleep at night not "knowing for certain" that
they had unnecessarily exposed me (and others) to hazards with possibly
fatal or long term consequences.
I was "young and dumb" then though...and when I got older/more
experienced and started saying.. "Hey this is wrong...we need to be
trained for this stuff".. it was the end of my career. Properly
training and equipping equals the end of the cheap labor and no future
liability. Simply put.. it is not "expedient".
I have a problem accepting use of fire crews on "all risk
incidents" without adequate and appropriate training and equipment.
It seems to be a giant step backwards.
||United States Department of the Interior
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Fort Apache Agency
PO Box 560
Whiteriver, Arizona 85941
Contact: Chadeen Palmer, Public Information Officer
Date: May 19, 2003
Firefighter Rick Lupe Update
[Whiteriver, Arizona]-Rick Lupe, Fort Apache Agency
firefighter, was seriously burned on May 14, when he
was trapped in a small flare up on the Sawtooth
prescribed burn near Whiteriver, Arizona on the Fort
Apache Indian Reservation. He was transported
immediately by helicopter to the Indian Health Service
Hospital in Whiteriver and then flown to the Maricopa
Medical Burn Center in Phoenix. He is reported to be
in stable but critical condition with extensive burns
over 33% of his body, most seriously on his head,
hands, arms and upper legs.
Evelyn Lupe, Rick’s wife, expressed her sincere
appreciation for the overwhelming support, prayers and
well-wishes from people throughout the state and
nation. She asked for continued prayers to help Rick
with his recovery and recuperation.
The 100 Club, a nonprofit organization established to
provide assistance to injured firefighters and law
enforcement officers, has established an account for
Rick Lupe and his family. Donations may be made for
Rick and his family in Account #468902 at the Arizona
Federal Credit Union. Many local banks and other
financial institutions will also accept donations for
the account. Credit card donations may be made in
Rick Lupe’s name on the Internet at www.azfcu.org
Thanks for the update. (To make a donation, click on Contribution
Accounts under News and Info in the lefthand border.) Ab.
||Updated the Jobs Page,
wildland firefighter Series
462 and Series 455.
Don't forget to check out the contract positions available.
Thanks. Your response helps and brings up some real good points. Now
I've got more things to give me pause to think.
For instance, you are right that we are becoming ever more involved in
risk"......911, exotic Newcastle disease, shuttle recovery, and ?????
How do we modify the ICS system to accommodate that? The foundation
of the system is that we assign only qualified people to an incident. When
looking for leadership/supervision on a non-fire incident (crew boss, STL,
DIVS) do we go with the current fire quals system?Is a fire DIVS at all
qualified to manage at that level on an anthrax attack? (obviously not).
Does one need to be "arduous" tested for a Newcastle assignment?
Do we need to revise ICS to include subset "quals"? ie
DIVS/disease, DIVS/bomb threats?
Back to the new fire "series".Historically, we tie grade to
not qualifications. ie. an employee may be trained and qualified to
operate at a higher grade, but until a "vacancy" occurs, there
promotion.Would a new series recognize acquisition of quals and have
automatic promotion? Example: A GS-7 STL completes courses/task book,
and gets signed off as DIVS. Should that result in promotion?
Ab, thanks for this site.
Old Fire Guy
You're welcome. Ab.
||Neptune... start thinking out of the box........
Wildland Firefighters of the various Federal Agencies would still be
providing forestry, range, and biological sciences duties as they always
have, but they are not the PRIMARY duty they are hired for. So, if your
primary job title and responsibility is Engine Captain.... your job
controlling factors are FIREFIGHTING duties and your "other duties as
assigned" are forestry, range and biological sciences.
We would contend that firefighters would have their positions graded based
upon their actual critical duties and not be based upon their collateral
duties, ie. "the support of forestry".
If there are positions, such as you say, that only have 2 months of actual
fire duties, maybe they shouldn't be included as primary or secondary fire
positions for retirement. I spend every day of my year supporting fire
management in one way or the other. I'd hate to say there was any
Firefighter who had this stance.... but if there is... these positions
should probably not be firefighter positions and only have their duties as
As an ex-Department of Defense firefighter, here's how I look at it..... I
trained for 12 months a year to be a firefighter..... during that period I
had "NO" fires...... NONE...... I still qualified as a
firefighter even though my primary tasks were building maintenance,
vehicle maintenance, and training.
I have to ask myself the following question... When the Forest Service
level 4 LEO's started asking questions about their classification as
Forestry Technicians (1980's), were they hit by these same problems. THEY
WERE SUCCESSFUL at getting properly re-classified.
||First off, thanks to the Abs for this site, it really is a great
For those of you who have to wade through the sea of applications, what
format do you prefer? 171 or 612??? I guess I have a soft spot in my heart
for the tried and true SF-171. Anyway, what format would make your job
easier/do you prefer and why?
||Ab, here's one special event for those in the neighborhood:
The Calaveras Big Trees Association is offering an opportunity for
mountain residents to learn more about wildfire danger. A new play,
"On Fire", explores the heroics, tragedies and triumphs of
America's wildland firefighters. The association has scheduled only one
WHEN: 4 p.m. June 1
WHERE: Jack Knight Memorial Hall, with seating for 100, at Calaveras Big
Trees State Park, on Highway 4, about four miles east of Arnold.
TICKETS: $5; to arrange reservations, call 795-3840 or e-mail email@example.com.
||My Father called from so call MVU 30 acres in Santee Ca. I think it has
started out west. Oregon is drying quickly with some small grass fires
starting to occur.
Take a look at the News
page under Forest Fire. Canada certainly has some blazes. Also, for
SoCal starts and fires, watch the News
and Notes. Ab.
||THANK GOD that "trainer" is now no more ..maybe pvtscan now
push upward.. years ago i worked for him and know what they are talking
about.. also got dumped in a camp ground with no food......
Just finished reading the KATU article on the contract trainer from Oregon
that apparently got caught scamming the system. I see several points worth
mentioning in the report:
First, contract firefighting associations have been begging the feds to
enforce contract standards. Since these associations have no law
enforcement authority, their only disciplinary tool is loss of membership.
When these associations become stronger and membership is a company asset,
not just an annual dues liability, then loss of membership will have real
meaning. Of the present contract firefighting associations I know about
and belong to, none yet have that type of organizational unity, maturity
That said, if the feds write specific training, financial, insurance and
performance mandates in their contracts, they and they alone have the
power to legally enforce them.
Second, with the amount of money that is disbursed to private fire
resources by the federal government in an active fire season, there is a
great temptation to game the system. For this reason--and since contract
resources aren't going away any time soon--the agencies must do a better
job of supporting honest, professional private fire resources with a fair
and accountable system that rewards performance and safety. For this
reason, I hope to see even more of the type of legal actions against fire
scammers as reported in the KATU report.
Third, the myriad negative safety ramifications of this clowns' activities
leave me in a cold sweat. How many others are there like him? How many
engine or hand crews have no business being in the field? How many of the
new engine bosses or neophyte crew bosses minted this spring (to fill the
explosion of EERA hopefuls and expansions) have a sum total of
"O" real experience and pencil whipped red cards?
My company is entering its seventh season as an R-4 engine contractor. Our
greatest asset is not our engines or tenders, it's our safety and
performance record and reputation as square shooters who accept
responsibility for our actions as they relate to each other, other
firefighters, the public and our client (the government). Our crews work
hard, fly straight, know the company rules, and come back year after year.
I can't imagine doing it any other way. But perhaps I'm a bit naive, as my
Mama taught me right from wrong and they still taught civics when I went
to school. I'm not alone in this. I know of several R-4 fire contractors
who operate the same way.
So, for those in the agencies who see a scammer behind every federal fire
contract, be assured that there are more "Cal Ripkins" on the
field than "Pete Roses." That doesn't mean there isn't a place
for good umpires, though.
Snake River Sparky
Well said Sparky. Ab.
||Wow is all that I can say relating to this story....
Wildfire crew trainer suspended due to safety concerns
||Re: Old Fire Guys Post and Shirl's,
Old Fire Guy (OFG) hit on some pretty good points but needs some catching
up. I'll try to make it a little clearer for all of us. As stated by
several high up members (Regional Office and Washington Office)... the
Forest Service is turning all-risk and supports all risk incidents as
Shirl... right now, wildland firefighters are classified under the
following series... 0462, 0455. 0482, 0401, 0460, and actually a sixth,
0081 for the strictly wildland firefighters of the Department of Defense.
WOULDN'T IT MAKE SENSE TO HAVE ONE SERIES? One set of classification
standards? One set of grade controlling factors? One standard that applies
to all wildland firefighters across agency lines?
Our mission hasn't changed "Caring for the Land and Serving
People", our duties within that mission HAVE changed and our duties
to support Homeland Security have been added.
The 32 PD's that OFG was talking about are the 32 national PD's. The
national PD's as he stated do capture most of the duties of our
firefighters with the exception of all-risk and grade controlling factors.
The problem with the national PD's is that very few regions are using
them. The second problem.... all of the Federal Wildland agencies don't
use the same PD and people of one agency performing the same duties may
actually be 2 or more GS pay grades apart.
My last thought, I've heard that the new DoD 0081 re-write will get folks
properly graded based on many grade many controlling factors such as
medical duties (EMT or Paramedic), HAZMAT (First Responder, Technician, or
Specialist), incident command duties and others. Wildland firefighters
don't have any grade controlling factors... they support the science of
Forest Management and not Fire Management... so where does being a
Division Supervisor, Operations Section Chief, Incident Commander, or Area
Commander come in?
The simple agency answer is that those duties are "other duties as
assigned or qualified" anddo not relate to proper classification. The
OPM answer is that they are grade controlling factors and should relate to
a proper position classification.
||Old Fire Guy
I agree with ya, but it seems folks just get hung up on being called a
"Forestry Tech."............If position descriptions are wrong,
need to go thru process to get them changed with their supervisor.I'm
not sure that changing a series to just change a name or job title is the
||Re: a new series for ff's
Ya know, in my 15 year tenure in Region 1, I have seen
Engine Captains progress from GS-5 temps to GS-5
13/13's to GS-6 13/13's and finally to GS-7 PFT's.
There's talk of GS-8's when the Model 52 program bites
the dust and we get real engines.
Now there are exceptions and oddities, but
realistically our fire season here is two months long.
How come we have PFT Engine Captains?
BECAUSE THEY'RE FORESTRY TECHS.They are willing to
paint trees, shoot cones, inspect planters, survey
roads, update maps in the winter, and the list goes
on.You folks who want a series for firefighters
might just get what you want, along with a bunch of
reduction in tours, too.No thanks.
||Been away for a while.I see some discussion on proper "series"
firefighters.Some claim 462 series is "bogus" and does not
firefighters do......... I'm a little lost. I just reviewed several of the
Forest Service's 32 standard position descriptions for "fire"
and it sure looks to me like whoever wrote these captured job duties
darn well. The required KSA's (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) listed
also seems appropriate. What is it about the wording makes those pd's
Old Fire Guy
||From what I heard from back East, OPM would like firefighters
to be reclassified appropriately. They are receptive of new series
that describes exactly what firefighters do. Where's the roadblock?
With the WO? And what about Series 455 range techs? That's
as bogus as 462!
||For those who don't know, Series 401 is a general biology series.
It's better than the old 460, the timber series. Series 462 (Forestry
Technician) does not describe what we do.
Reread what Lobotomy said on 5/13 about FWFSA's
Makes sense to me.
||Re the 401 Series thread:
As far as I've been able to find out, no impact analysis has been
done to determine the effects of implementing the requirement for
all GS 9+ in fire to be in the 401 Series. If this implementation
wacks 50% of our fire practitioners, as I think it might, I'd say it's
worse than a bad idea.
If the AGENCY has not asked "what are the effects of such
implementation?" or if it's not willing to say what it's found,
SHAME ON IT!
||From Sean Carroll
Legislative Director, Congressional Fire Services Institute
Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act Passes the Senate Unanimously
In the early morning hours of Friday, May 16th, the Senate agreed by
unanimous consent to pass S. 459, the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits
of 2003 which was sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (VT). The House of
Representatives is considering identical legislation, H.R. 919. The House
bill, which was written by Congressman Bob Etheridge (NC), has over 200
cosponsors. Congressman Etheridge originally introduced his legislation in
the 107th Congress. The bill passed the House by Unanimous Consent,
Congress adjourned before the Senate was able to consider the bill.
The Hometown Heroes Act extends the current Public Safety Officers Benefit
(PSOB) Program to public safety officers who die as a result of a heart
attack or stroke within 24 hours of being on duty, responding to an
emergency, or participating in a training exercise. Heart attacks and
strokes represent a significant risk among public safety officers,
accounting for nearly half of firefighter deaths each year. The PSOB
Program currently provides financial assistance to families of public
officers (fire, police and EMS) killed in the line of duty, as well as to
officers permanently disabled while on the job. The death benefit is
to the survivors of a public safety officer who "has died as the
proximate result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty."
Unfortunately, in almost every incidence of death by heart attack or
it is ruled that the heart attack or stroke was not a direct result of an
injury sustained in the line of duty and the family receives no benefits
even though the deaths were clearly triggered by the rigors of the job.
||Re the 401 series goofy stuff:
History of the positions going to series 401 dates back to just after the
South Canyon Fire. For some time in the mid to late '90s DOI was pressing
for 13 or 14 specific fire positions implicated in "bad
decisions" on SC to be made series 401, like that was the silver
bullet. They didn't get very far, so this newest effort is how the
top-down control re-emerges.
Plate of toads.
||The address I got for Rick Lupe is:
Maricopa Medical Center-Arizona Burn Center
2601 E. Roosevelt
Phoenix, Az. 85008
Cards and letters only - flowers are not permitted in the room.
My brother is an RN on the burn ward at Maricopa County. I've asked him to
look into an address for cards, letters, etc. If anything develops I'll
post it to the board.
||Rick Lupe, BIA fire manager and a DIVS on Humphrey's Type 1 SWA IMT
remains in critical condition at Maricopa County Medical Center in
Phoenix. He's expected to remain in a drug-induced coma for several weeks
and possibly several months. The story on this was posted Friday of last
week, but the short version of is there was a spot on an Rx burn that he
went to check out and it flared up. He tried to deploy his shelter but the
wind pulled it away. Major burns are on his arms, hands and face, as well
as his lungs.
The official investigation is still going on, but it strikes me this is a
good lessons learned. Lupe was a fantastic firefighter, and if this could
happen to him, it could happen to anyone.
1) Wear your gloves and keep your sleeves rolled down.
2) Ditch the old shrouds and get the new ones that cover around the entire
Just some thoughts to throw out there as the Southwest starts breaking the
100-degree barrier regularly.
Check article link posted on 5/17 for more details. Anyone have an
address for cards for the family, send it in. Ab.
||Whoa Steve, just a friendly discussion here!Not trying to minimize your
experience, maximize mine or even "prove you wrong"... just
trying to contribute to the conversation and express my opinion too. So
enough about us, and back to the topic....
For clarification, the night medevac example I mentioned was indeed a
heart problem, and resulted in both a high-risk operation and an ethical
dilemma for the decision-makers (do you implement a high-risk operation
that could endanger the flight crew and aircraft or do you take the gamble
that, based on on-scene medical assessment, the victim could die in the
six hours until daylight without evacuation?)
When we debate the merits of the WCT and the arguments made for and
against it, I think it is important to remember that the WCT is a work
capacity/conditioning test, not a heart attack prevention test or a way to
weed-out people by making them have heart attacks. Still, since we've
started talking about firefighter conditioning and heart attack, I'd be
interested in hearing what others know about the heart attack argument.
Heart attack is a huge problem in the structure fire world, but hasn't
been a big issue on the wildland side. Have others seen heart issues on
the line? Have those situations endangered others directly or indirectly?
The CDF RUU Chief quoted in SacBee story:
A huge fire peril above L.A.
Article contains a history of what happened at Mount Palomar,
Idyllwild, Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead that led to the drought stressed
and beetle killed trees. Ab.
||Most of the "debate" over the WCT is just everyone's opinion
of whether they agree or not. Folks should know ALL agencies are required
to COMPLY with certain regulations reguarding PROPER AUTHORIZATION &
IMPLEMENTATION of EMPLOYMENT CRITERIA. ex. CFR (LAW) Title 5 Vol. 1 Sec.
339.202 MEDICAL STANDARDS:Standards established by O.P.M. or an agency
must be: Established by Written Directive & Uniformly applied:
Directly related to the ACTUAL Requirements of the position.
Forest Service Handbook 5109.17 Fire and Aviation Management
Qualifications, chap.20: 23.2 PHYSICAL FITNESS MEASUREMENTS
"METHODS" are established "ONLY" by the CHIEF OF THE
To date several requests have been made under the Freedom of Information
Act…also by a Senators office, for WRITTEN documentation showing
APPROVAL of the WCT for use by the FS as the SOLE Physical Testing
Standard for Primary & Secondary Firefighters. The only information
received is a litany of "IMPLEMENTATION" Policy & Direction.
The APPROVING Official had to be: The Director of O.P.M, Secretary of
Agriculture OR the Chief of the FS(This would be the chain of command for
approval of FS employment/qualifactions policy) Since the WCT is being
used as the basis for employment decisions reguarding PHYSICAL
QUALIFICATIONS of employees in fire, this type of approval would be
necessary.Before ANY policy or direction can be implemented is MUST be
IMPLEMENTATION IS NOT APPROVAL & the documents provided DO NOT provide
evidence that the WCT was ever "OFFICIALLY" approved for use by
the FS. Ask for the proof. Contact the American Medical Association, it is
"implied the HSQ was developed for the WCT. Oh, the answers you get
when you start asking. OSHA says they have no authority over testing, the
union is TO BUSY with out sourcing. Exactly how many people have been
injured AND DIED? And yet this is all taken so lax. Do those people know
that LAWS and Policies apply?
But Hey………….it's easy to administer!!!!!!
Being one of the ones who has mentioned safety for others as an argument
for a REAL test not a rubber stamp, I would like to point out that our
whole concept of safety should be to consider all the potential risks and
do what we can to mitigate them BEFORE they happen.
Many auto accidents in low stress mundane settings have been caused by
heart attacks. Your logic of "hiking the person out doesn't
diminish" is assuming you are in the position that the act of the
heart attack itself doesn't jeopardize others. I don't think considering
risks is using "boogy-man" tactics. Do we have to wait until
someone has a heart attack on the line to see if it might be a bad
And still no one has taken up my argument that 4 or 5 deaths a year while
tragic isn't necessarily out of proportion with any other highly demanding
activity done in the volume the WCT is.
I am totally in favor of a study that would consider how many hundreds of
thousands (?) of tests are given each year, and how many critical
incidents result, then comparing that with other tests. Does anyone know
if such a thing has been done???
Flash in Florida
ps: I think it was Abe Lincoln who is quoted as saying "I may not
agree with the next man's opinion, but I will defend to the death his
right to have it."
Thanks ab's for a forum where we can offer different views and opinions.
Where can we go to find out more information about your 5/18 post?
Is anybody else besides Los Alamos promoting the
"shelter-in-place" idea rather than evacuation this season? I
had only really thought of it in terms of nursing home, hospital or
high-rise fires, before reading about their plan today. The press release
A 60-90 percent bark beetle kill combined with limited thinning in the
canyon areas, has the Los Alamos area officials concerned that the
beetle-ravaged trees, known as "dead and red," will burn
faster and hotter than green timber, creating a scenario that makes
mass-evacuation difficult, even unsafe.
The National Laboratory page www.lanl.gov
has a link to the county site.
As is often seen here, GGFire reads a post and then somehow concludes
their personal experience superior to the original poster. They then go on
to make presumptions and in this case GGFire suggests what I have or have
I will briefly say that I've directed night helicopter operations rescuing
a CDF handcrew vehicle rollover, been sitting in the right hand seat in
many emergency helicopter operations, and helped pack out more than one
firefighter on a litter. Not one of the incidents I was involved in were
instigated by a heart attack victim.
Let me reinforce what my main point was. What I said was "I am
unaware of any historic examples of one person having a heart attack on
the line causing further accidents or endangering others". I never
said it's never happened, just that I'm unaware of it happening. Mr. or
Mrs. GGFire then alludes to three types of incidents in an attempt to
prove me wrong, but doesn't state the hypothetical incidents mentioned
were conducted to rescue a heart attack victim. Nor is there evidence the
incidents referred to led to additional personal injury to the rescuers.
Helicopters around the world fly at night. If it's unsafe to fly at night
or they aren't properly trained, they shouldn't be doing it. Medevac
helicopter pilots are trained and experienced in hovering/landing in tight
places. If it's too dangerous to do, then it shouldn't be done. Most
litter pack-outs I know about are based on dehydration, broken bones, or
Since GGFire was already taken to task for even mentioning the South
Canyon Fire, I won't go there except to say that it's another example of
someone trying to make a point with extremely poor logic.
As for GGFire concluding a message with a "What if you are exercising
your escape route and. . .", I can only repeat myself by saying,
"I am unaware of any historic examples of one person having a heart
attack on the line causing further accidents or endangering others".
I support the WCT. I'm just not fond of unsubstantiated "truths"
or half-baked idealism.
I'll conclude this response to a response by saying THANKS to Ab for
providing the chance to voice my opinion!
||Haven't checked in lately but must reply to Trucky and Lobotomy about
the classification thread they started....
The WFSA is certainly pursuing proper classification of federal wildland
firefighters but I am wondering if their efforts will bring results in
time for those of us in the FS. Our agency (and it may be all fed
agencies) in all its wisdom (and I use the term loosely) has decided the
best way to increase fire manager's competency is by making them into
"professionals" using 30 mile as the reason. They will do this
by requiring all GS-9 and above fire positions to be classified in the 401
series, which basically requires the person to have a 4 yr college degree
OR a combination of college and experience. The credits have to be from a
4 year college and of certain resource mgmt subjects. A very few 400 and
500 level fire courses will also qualify.
The kicker is that this will be implemented in a 3 year time period.
Anyone still not with enough credits in that time will be removed from
their fire duties and either placed in a non fire job or removed from
This is a done deal. The WO is just trying to figure out how to
break the news to us. Big thanks to all of us "technicians" that
have been managing the fire service for the last millennium. Guess the
Washington politicos idea of "professional" simply equates to a
Smacks of creating fire managers just to push paper for a completely
contracted fire service once outsourcing gets done with us.
Join the FWFSA now.
aka: glad I'm retiring before 3 years.
The Abs can't agree more heartily. For those who do not see the writing
on the wall, open your eyes! Kipling said, "The strength of the
wolf is in the pack, The strength of the pack is in the wolf."
Never more true.
||We updated the Jobs
Page, wildland firefighter Series
462 and Series 455
yesterday. Check out the contract positions available.
i will be hosting a refresher which will include s-132,s-133,s-134,
shelter deployment practice and entrapment avoidance powerpoint. in
sisters,ore; have a few spots available. people may contact me at
the class is on 5-21-03
from 8am till 5pm
||More Mouse Stories:
I remembered another story concerning Allen "Mouse" Owen on the
smokejumpers.com site. I met him in Alaska though I can't say I knew him,
but it's clear he was a pretty inspirational guy:
Mouse Story #2
||Here is a article about a prescribed fire burnover that happened on Wed.
14th in Whiteriver AZ. Rick Lupe is in critical condition in Phx. He was
Fort Apache IHC superintendent for several years.
So sorry. We'll keep him in our thoughts and prayers. Any address where
we can send cards?
Be Safe All.
||Ab said about Allen "Mouse" Owen:
"We should add it to the IMWTK page."
You could should read this:
Interesting, I hadn't seen that. Ab.
||It's Friday night. I can't be there tonight, but maybe some others
will get on chat. Hang out and see who joins you.
||When I read the post where someone was making the point that the pack
test should be proportional to weight, I remembered the stories my dad
told me about "Mouse" the smokejumper. I looked up a few facts I
could confirm, but most of this is smokejumper lore as told by my dad (a
Cave Junction smokejumper in the 50s).
You see the late "Mouse" (Allen Owen) was only 4'10". When
he was a young man he tried to enlist in the Marines, but they didn't want
to let him in. His recruiter said he was too small. Mouse kept pestering
him and finally said that if the recruiter could find anyone who could do
more pushups and sit-ups than him, he would walk away. Well apparently
Mouse put the best of the Marines to shame and was allowed in. He was a
decorated Veteran and served three tours of duty in Vietnam.
After arriving back from the war, he applied to be a smokejumper and was
again told that he was too small. I think this time he said if anyone
could beat him on the 110 pound / 20 mile pack test he would quit. At
4'10" that pack had to weigh almost as much as he did! Once again he
put them all to shame and was given the job. He died in 1981 in a
skydiving accident, but he still holds the honor of being the smallest
Marine and smokejumper ever.
It is folks like Mouse that remind me that fitness is as much mental as
physical. We all need to be fit in all ways to do this job.
It is still raining and snowing (18" for Mothers Day) in the
foothills of Colorado. No fire season yet... Take care out there where it
is drying out.
Fine story. We should add it to the IMWTK page. Ab.
||SR makes a good catch on my unclear communication (sorry, it was a quick
I did not mean to imply that heart attack or any other fitness condition
played a part in South Canyon. SR is right, fitness was not implicated as
a causal factor in the South Canyon tragedy. However, it is important to
note that travel rates over the escape route, the issue of dropping packs
and tools and the lingering question "why didn't they speed up?"
is all over the South Canyon literature. Was exhaustion or physical
endurance a factor? Unfortunately we will never know, but i thik we can
all accept that firefighting is physically demanding work.
However, my post was not about South Canyon, but the WCT and a statement
made by Steve that "The act of removing the victim may reduce the
effectiveness of the resources assisting, but they aren't going to burn up
just because of it."
What I should have said was....think about exercising a difficult escape
route over challenging terrain in a situation where time was of the
essence. South Canyon provides an effective example of this kind of
situation. Hope that is more clear.
Beyond that, I stand by my comments, an unfit person on the fireline
endangers co-workers. Thanks SR for encouraging me to communicate more
I have an addition for your web page (Wildandfire.com's
2 and 4 year schools in Fire):
University of North Texas (near Dallas)
course offering: www.ias.unt.edu/~llela/fireecol.php
student group: www.ias.unt.edu/~tc001/safe.phpl
firefighter photos: www.ias.unt.edu/~llela/wildfire.php
Thanks I added it. Ab.
In your 'what if' you say
How about a what if? What if you are exercising your escape route, time
is of the essence (things have hit the fan) and a person goes down with
heart attack, exhaustion or just can't plain keep up? Do you leave them?
No, you stay behind and help them. Wouldn't this endanger others? Think
Are you saying that people died in South Canyon because they couldn't keep
went down with exhaustion? (I assume you don't mean anyone had a heart
there's no evidence of that.) Based on what I've read and what I've
people who were there, fitness was not a factor in any of the fatalities.
It seems to me
that the fatalities in the group cutting line downhill occurred because
they simply didn't
have time to make it up to the ridge before the fire blew up. (Note: I'm
not trying to
get into the decision to cut line downhill without a lookout; I'm talking
the amount of time they had once they realized they needed to get out.)
"Oh for Pete's sake, One underlying idealism here for those arguing
for the WCT seems to be that if a firefighter has a heart attack on the
fireline it somehow endangers others on the line as well. I am unaware
of any historic examples of one person having a heart attack on the line
causing further accidents or endangering others. The act of removing the
victim may reduce the effectiveness of the resources assisting, but they
aren't going to burn up just because of it. I believe the WCT is much
better than the step test ever was, but stop using "boogey
men" idealism to support it."
Apparently Steve hasn't seen (1) a night, helicopter medevac from a
wilderness spike camp or (2) medevac helicopter maneuvered into a
dangerous hover hole or (3) a team of people packing a person on a litter
for a long distance over very difficult ground? I've seen all. All exposed
directly others to risk.
How about a what if? What if you are exercising your escape route, time is
of the essence (things have hit the fan) and a person goes down with heart
attack, exhaustion or just can't plain keep up? Do you leave them? No, you
stay behind and help them. Wouldn't this endanger others? Think South
||Ab, here's a fire imaging site that bears watching this
season. Neat stuff these 3-d renderings of fire. Some
interesting maps showing vegetation in the beetle killed
forests of southern CA, too.
USFS Wildfire Monitoring and Prediction
||Does anyone know anything more about a guy who was badly burned on a RX
in northern New Mexico, I have only heard a person was burned earlier this
week and is in critical condition at this time.
SW area Dispatcher
||Ab, someone told me there's a strategy that WO Human Resources has to
deal with competitive sourcing (WRAPS, RIFS, Early outs and buyouts, etc)
and it's on the "Competitive Sourcing website". Does anyone know
where that website is?
||Oh for Pete's sake,
One underlying idealism here for those arguing for the WCT seems to be
that if a firefighter has a heart attack on the fireline it somehow
endangers others on the line as well.
I am unaware of any historic examples of one person having a heart attack
on the line causing further accidents or endangering others. The act of
removing the victim may reduce the effectiveness of the resources
assisting, but they aren't going to burn up just because of it.
I believe the WCT is much better than the step test ever was, but stop
using "boogey men" idealism to support it.
I am only an occasional visitor to "They Said" - just
checking-in from time-to-time to see what people are talking about, and
usually just lurking at that.
Imagine my surprise to see "Another JW" (and others) STILL
talking about the WCT! A repeat of a previous discussion provoked by
Another JW many months ago, with a few new red herrings thrown-in. I could
"lurk" no longer. What can be said? If the pack test is a
serious problem for people, for your sake and the sake of others, please
stay off the fireline!
I'm 44 years old, too short, too fat, too out-of-shape and too stoved-up.
However, with a little extra training each spring, I pass the WCT with no
problem. Let's face it, firefighting is inherently dangerous and
physically demanding work. It is not for everybody and we should not try
to make it so.
I have used the liner in a good pack (North Face) for the last two
seasons. It's nice because you can add water a gallon at a time until
you're up to weight. It moulds to your back nicely and if you bleed the
air out doesn't slosh around much. The five gallons weighs 41.65 pounds
& the pack makes up the difference...I wished the bladder bag liners
were of better quality though as they seem to rip, tear and puncture from
the slightest little thing...
||Thanks Ab and everyone who responded to my question!
Stay safe out there!
When the WCT first came out, all most people used was the back pumps. The
straps are very uncomfortable for this, and remember, if it leaks and
doesn't weigh 45 lbs. at the end of the test, you are disqualified!
These days, most Forest Service units either use web gear or aftermarket
pack test vests. Two brands that we use are a long one by " the
bagmaker" company and the new short vests made by
"weightvest.com". These are fully padded and adjustable packs
that are much more comfortable than Back pumps, and can't leak because
they use lead plates for weight. Eagle gear also offers a WCT pack, and
theirs resembles a Back pump with more padding and adjustments. Whatever
you decide to use, try it out ahead of time and make sure it it
comfortable for you to use, as during the test is not the time to find out
There's a weightvest link on the Classifieds
||Here's a post from the IAFF... some of it might relate to wildland
read this in internet explorer)
The NYS DEC occasionally uses fedcos as WCT packs... Sometimes filled with
water, and sometimes (after removing the actual bladder) filled with a
sandbag. Hope this helps!
||A little article on fire and the Everglades:
Couple of nice photos and informative stuff on what yer burning and the
ping pong balls that start it. Ab.
We're having lots of fun out here at the Utah Wildfire Academy.
Halfway done. Wish you all were here. Can't wait for the live fire.
Here's an article I could find. That's Dirk dragging his tent. An
incident within an incident, finding his tent spot. Rowdy is his usual
driven self. Good instructor. I think we'll be ready.
||Hey Ab just a quick question about the WCT, would a
fully loaded bladder bag meet the weight requirements
for the arduous level (45 lbs)? Anyone out there ever
use one for that purpose?
||Has anyone heard anything about this Helibasket plus pumper
fire suppression system? Anyone seen it? They're beating their
own drum pretty loudly...
They say they've developed a self contained fire pumper that can
be delivered to the fire via truck, trailer or inserted into a basket
and delivered via helicopter. To hear them tell it's the answer to
all our fire fighting frustrations.
Its' been awhile since I've posted, but I just havta weigh in on the
subject of the WCT. Many times in the past when I posted carpin' about the
Keystone State, I received replies that were positive and some negative. I
took the positive and found myself a "real fire" job (Thanks Abs
et al., this site was loaded with lots of useful info). Thinking myself in
good shape after passing said WCT, I went to work. Well... I soon found
out the kind of commitment it takes to do this job fulltime. At the risk
of hurting feelings and maybe out and out offending someone, get in shape,
stay in shape and you'll soon see how much more you'll enjoy your job! I
now know for a fact that I would not care to place myself or fellow
Crewmates in a position of jeopardy because I was'nt in shape to do my
job. Just like anything else, we now have folks complaining about whats
fair and whats not, but like it or not, this is the way it is so..... get
in shape and commit to stay in shape!!!! You'll look and feel better and
then you won't have so much time on your hands to carp about things like
BE SAFE OUT THERE!!
TiredofitinPa (at least 6 months a year anyway!)
||We updated the Jobs
Page, wildland firefighter Series
462 and Series 455
yesterday. Check out the contract positions available.
On another note, we have spent considerable time researching and compiling
all the info for the new and updated fire
books and reviews
pages. The list was so large that we split it in two, with a separate page
covering books for children
and young adults. Quite a few nice ones have been written in the
last year or two. Take a look at what we have done. Please send in any new
reviews and we'll update those. If anyone has photos of covers, please let
us know. Get your kids and young friends to review the kids' books.
Yeah... what a community.
Hopefully the job of listing new books is done for a while. Phew. Remember
if you're buying a book (or anything else), enter Amazon through our
portal and you'll help support the site. (Please don't bookmark
Amazon, or we don't get credit.)
||This Thursday starting at noon ET, the Forest Service and the BLM will
presenting "Wildland Fire Update 2003 - An Eye Toward the
Director Kathleen Clarke and Fire Director Larry Hamilon, and Forest
Service Associate Chief Sally Collins and Fire and Aviation Director Jerry
Williams will be providing a look ahead into the fire programs. Other
guests from both agencies will appear during the show as well.
Topics will include expectations of employees and of the fire programs, a
Predictive Services briefing, a perspective on all-risk incidents and
homeland security, and ground and aviation operational and safety issues.
The broadcast will be live, and is available via satellite. It will also
be webcast with 200 participants able to view it live on their computer.
After Thursday at 2pm ET when the program is over, it will archived and
available for viewing via webcast for one month.
Please go to www.fs.fed.us/fire
and click on Wildland Fire Update 2003 for
satellite downlinking and webcast information. Hope you can join us!
||The NM Team (Raley) is being demobed today from the Walker Fire. 3434
was the acreage, 3 primary/vacation residences and a bunch of outbuildings
and vehicles were destroyed. About 80% of the fire was crown fire in
PPine/PJ, total moonscape. This fire is atypical of fires in these parts
it flanked out very well rather than being our usual long, narrow, wind
driven timber fire. This is testimony as to how dry it is around here.
Current ERC in the Sacramento Mountains is averaging in the high 90's (100
Ruidoso). Keep your bags packed. Resources responded from all over the
to this one.
||On the idea of using a ratio to body weight instead of 45#'s I am
No offence to any slight statured people, but the load doesn't change just
because you're smaller. A bladder bag still has 5 gallons water at 8 #'s
per gallon. (it is 5 right????? memory hazy blocking out bad thoughts
about leaky heavy thingy....)
You can pack ultralight if you want on your tent and gear, but the tree
branch youre swamping still weighs the same.
And one more thought just to stir the pot, how many of these people who
passed during the test had other health factors (heart disease, etc.), who
knows if these same would have expired walking to their car at the end of
the day anyway. Does anyone have a number on how many pack test are given
by various agencies each year??? 4 deaths out of say 40 people tested
would be cause for alarm, 4 out of 4 million not so bad. So for me to get
excited and DEMAND a change I would like a fair study with the number of
deaths placed in some kind of context. Because, take for example bagging
groceries, if we checked nationwide how many deaths occur each year by
someone who was preparing to, during, or had just completed bagging
groceries (especially among the retirees here in florida) you probably
have 3 or 4. So should we get all worked up about how horribly demanding
that is ..............
If someone has a health problem it is better to have a test that will
catch it, and eliminate that person from consideration before they get
rubber stamped and shipped into a situation where many lives could depend
on them doing their job.
I agree that testing should be held either at a fire station, or with emt/
paramedics standing by. Thats how we always do it here.
I hate that anyone died taking the test, but I don't think that means the
test is wrong.
Flash in Florida
||Most westerners might not be interested, but hey, I'll pass along this
Florida is not getting near the rainfall it should and we are at 500+ on
the Keetch-Byrum drought index right now. Today we had 12mph winds and 24%
humidity. We have not had any significant rain in weeks. It might not
sound bad to you folks out west, but in Florida our fuels are getting
fully cured. If we don't get some serious rain soon, we will be getting
set for another possible 98' fire season. In that season, rain had shut
off at the same time as this year, in fact, my last day off in 98 until
late September was Memorial Day when things started hopping. I say this
because for you detailers that might want another trip to the sunny state
of Florida, start packing your sunblock!
Being a native of the state and 10 yrs in the wildland fire service, hope
I am wrong. Heaven forbid you all have to come bail us out again, but look
me up in central Florida (Ocala) if you're on a fireline.
DOF District 8
Sr. Ranger Dodson
||Here's some legislation that bears watching,
Forest Bill H.R. 1904
This is what the bill says in part:
SEC. 102. AUTHORIZED HAZARDOUS FUELS REDUCTION PROJECTS.
(a) AUTHORIZED PROJECTS- Subject to the remainder of this section, the
Secretary concerned may utilize the process authorized by section 104 to
plan and conduct hazardous fuels reduction projects on any of the
following Federal lands:
(1) Federal lands located in an interface community or intermix community.
(2) Federal lands located in such proximity to an interface community or
intermix community that there is a significant risk that the spread of a
fire disturbance event from those lands would threaten human life and
property in the interface community or intermix community.
(3) Condition class 3 or condition class 2 Federal lands located in such
proximity to a municipal water supply system or a stream feeding a
municipal water supply system that a significant risk exists that a fire
disturbance event would have adverse effects on the water quality of the
municipal water supply, including the risk to water quality posed by
erosion following such a fire disturbance event.
(4) Condition class 3 or condition class 2 Federal lands identified by the
Secretary concerned as an area where windthrow or blowdown, or the
existence or threat of disease or insect infestation, pose a significant
threat to forest or rangeland health or adjacent private lands.
(5) Federal lands not covered by paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4) that
contain threatened and endangered species habitat, but only if-- (A)
natural fire regimes on such lands are identified as being important for,
or wildfire is identified as a threat to, an endangered species, a
threatened species, or its habitat in a species recovery plan prepared
under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1533) or
in a decision document under such section determining a species to be an
endangered species or a threatened species or designating critical
habitat; (B) the project will provide enhanced protection from
catastrophic wildfire for the species or its habitat; and (C) the
Secretary complies with any applicable guidelines specified in the species
recovery plan prepared under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C.
1531 et seq
This is what at least one environmentalist stance says:
FSEEE E-Activist: VOTE LOOMS ON UNHEALTHY FOREST BILL
The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to vote on H.R. 1904, the
deceptively titled "Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003"
sponsored by a rogue's gallery of anti-environmental legislators. Using
fear-mongering tactics, the bill would exempt clearcuts of up to 1,000
acres in size from all environmental review and citizen oversight. In
fact, under this bill, 1,000-acre clearcuts could be placed end-to-end
across our national forests.
The bill's sponsors claim that environmental safeguards must be
abolished and citizens must be locked out of national forest logging
decisions because bugs and beetles threaten the very fabric of forest
ecosystems. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Insects
play a crucial role in our forests, as food for birds and as recyclers
Please call your U.S. representative today! Ask him or her to oppose the
"Healthy Forests Restoration Act." To contact your
representative, you can call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202)
224-3121. Please call now. The vote on this disastrous bill could happen
as soon as May 12. When connected to your legislator's office, say:
"The Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 is not healthy for our
national forests. Don't undercut the environmental laws that protect our
national forests. Vote against H.R. 1904. Putting the Forest Service
above the law will not protect our precious national forests."
(Comment:: Where does the bill authorize clearcutting? And, given the
conditions under which fuel reduction can be done (see above, taken
directly from the bill), how could cutting be done "end to end"
across our national forests?????
We need this kind of cleanup for overstocked, dead and dying forests. I
may be myopic but the forests of the west need to institute large scale
fuel reduction and prescribed burning projects or they will all die.
Witness the forests of AZ and So Cal, let alone around Lake Tahoe and the
Blue Mtns of Oregon, maybe nationwide. Call your congressman and ask him
to pass this bill. Sorry, I meant to let you make up your own mind.)
Find Your Congressional
||Anyone know about an entrapment/deployment on the Coconino NF a couple
of days ago?
Here's a useful site that has a report. Check out Lessons Learned. The
deployment briefing paper is there under 2003 Reports: www.wildfirelessons.net
||Trucky Re: your 0081 firefighter post,
In your post you asked.....
"It was brought up that all the firefighter from the USFS and BLM
are going to be changing their series number from that of a forestry
tech (0462 & 0455) to the firefighter series 0081. If this is true,
what impact will it have on both the forestry firefighters and us
Trucky, here's the simple answer... no change for the current 0081
firefighters. No change for wildland firefighters.
Here's the facts:
Many wildland firefighters are seeking proper classification as
firefighters. They are pursuing two separate routes.
One route is by having a separate wildland firefighter classification from
entry level to wildland fire program manager (GS-2 through GS/GM-15). This
is the easiest fix. Currently there are five different wildland
firefighter series that I know of. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a
single series like most positions?
The second route is by inclusion into the 0081 series as a separate
branch. The 0081 series could be broken into the following branches for
some simplification. Each branch has a specific specialty BUT each crosses
over into an all risk mode of the others at some point.
In sections 1-6, a GS level would be applied based on normal duties
performed. In section 7, "A Fire Specialties Determination
Guide" would be used to determine the ultimate GS rating. There are
already many special OPM guides available including the GSSG and GSLG.
2) Airfield Crash Fire Rescue
4) Federal Visitor Protection
7) Combinations of items #1 - #6.
Each Federal agency has firefighters whose "primary" mission is
determined as #1- #6. All Federal firefighters meet item #7. All
firefighters are part of Homeland Security.
That's my thoughts.
Helmets: Speaking from my Forest in Region 5.
The Captain wears a red helmet,
Engineer wears red helmet w/white stripes,
Assistant Engineer wears yellow helmet w/red stripes, and
all the Firefighters wear yellow helmets.
On our helicopters,
the Supt. and Captains wear red helmets,
the firefighters wear yellow.
The two Hotshot Crews wear different colors.
Our IHC crew wears all orange helmets and
the IRHC crew wears the same as the helicopters.
Our FPTS wear red helmets, and
all of our Chief Officers wear white.
You will find that all the different Regions will have different color
schemes. Hope this help you out.
||Who can explain me the different USFS engine models????
(Model 50, 51, 60, 61 ff. specifications)
Is the USFS engine shown on photo "FS Engine / E42 Six Rivers"
2 photo page - & -Engines
5 photo page - "Helo support" what you call a Model 61????
Were all Model 51 engines so called "slip-on units"?
Thanks a lot
Thorsten from Germany (UmbachT@AOL.com)
Hope this helps, RJ........ helmet colors
Yellow= Firefighter and Engineer
Orange= Inmate Firefighter
These colors are for CDF, but are fairly standard in Calif. The
neighboring city FFs wear black helmets, Captains and chiefs remain the
same (traditional leather is an option).
I think LA City fire uses Orange for Captains, possibly some other
Southern Calif depts. as well. Some use Blue to denote Paramedics, City of
Salinas comes to mind.
Stay safe remember LACES, 10's and 18's and hydrate!
||2 questions for anyone
1. Are certain helmet colors used for certain positions or ranks, like on
most structural departments?
2. What type of engine does the USFS run out of the White River NF Dillon
ranger dist.? Any info would be great since I may be interviewing for a
RJ in MA_D-7
That's in Colorado, near Silverthorne, CO. Ab.
||In "Another J.W."'s latest posting about the WCT, she/he asks
a lot of questions that are easily answered, and throws out some numbers
that are questionable at best.
Having worked as Dr. Brian Sharkey's office partner while I was Program
Leader for Fire and Aviation at MTDC, I knew that some of the answers were
hidden away in my musty old files (many of us old retired farts have
"musty old files"; the rest of us threw all our work-related
stuff into the Dipsy-Dumpster on our last day, and never looked back!).
Anyways - my "stuff" from the late 90's showed that the WCT was
tested on 333 firefighters from 3 USFS regions, 3 Federal agencies and 1
State. It included men, women, Caucasians, American Indians, Hispanics,
and "others" (Blacks, Asians, & unknowns ((Californians??)).
The performance standard was ICS 310-1, so the FPT's, FMO's and AFMO's
weren't uniquely identified as having fire suppression responsibilities
and tested as a separate group.
"Another J.W." alleges that 4 folks have already died in 2003
because of the WCT: my admittedly unofficial records don't show that. Who,
what, where died in 2003 doing the WCT?
As for "alternative testing developed for folks who could be at risk
for heart/back injuries or problems with age, height or other physical
limitations": does a wildfire know the difference? Do we adjust their
pay scale, too? Are they meeting the job description of wildland
In her/his opening, "Another J.W." suggests a number of
organizations like the AMA, NIOSH and OSHA be invited to evaluate the WCT.
MY ole Irish grandfather (or was it a Chinese philosopher? No - it was
Garth Brooks in "Unanswered Prayers") always said: be careful
what you wish for: it may come true!
First, any Federal employee is free to call NIOSH or OSHA and report an
unsafe work practice, and they may chose to conduct a review....and may
look at other stuff, too and then put down some pretty heavy
restrictions/requirements. Maybe they'll look at IHC's that work 800-1000
hours OT in a 5month period, and ask why we don't just hire twice as many
IHC crews, and restrict them to 8 hour shifts?
The WCT has undergone an extensive "Peer Review" by Dr. Paul
Davis: he's a Senior Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine,
and the creator of the "Firefighter Combat Challenge" for the
structural fire folks that we see on ESPN.
If anybody wants to see the tons of documentation that details the
development of the WCT, they can contact Dr. Sharkey at MTDC and he'll
Email them "more-than-you-ever-wanted-to-know" about the whole
process...... and it will be based on real, verifiable numbers, not wild
statements made without any factual basis.
||Fire season isn't starting out to good in the Southwest Area. The Walker
fire, NM burned 18 structures the first day. The A-Bar fire, AZ burned
over an engine, deployed shelters, folks are OK. Lets be carefull out
there it is going to be a long season.
SW Area Dispatcher
||Thanks to those who sent in info on the SW IMTs. We updated the teams
pages. If anyone has info on teams from other regions, we'd appreciate the
||I know, I know everyone is talking about the pack test - just a few
words and then I will be quiet....I am a female crewboss - 46 years old ,
5' 3", and approx, 135 pounds. I have been i this business since 91'.
My question is where was it determined that each person regardless of size
is required to pack the 45 lbs?? It would seem to me that there would be a
ratio developed for each person. say so many pounds of sand for each pound
of weight. I pass it every year the first time out but I tell you I feel
like I'm carrying a VW on my back. It is a bit of a stressor due to the
fact that people die just taking the test too. I would be so embarrassed
to drop dead taking the test.!!
I have worked on Agency crews as well as Contract crews. I am here to tell
you I have found working with Contract crews to be much more satisfying..
The attitude of the crews is far superior as well as the work ethics. I
know that there are some not so good ones out there but I have seen that
with Agency crews just as often if not more.....
I would appreciate it if the Agency's could show a little more cooperation
with us. It is a total nightmare to go into "Supply" at a camp
to get even the bare essentials like batteries without having a
"permission slip " from my boss to get resupplied for the next
days shift. How about a Forum for Non - agency firefighters ?? Cmon'
Squat aka Granny Basher( no, we don't want to go there !!)
I was wondering if I could bounce a couple greenhorn questions off of you.
I'm sure you hear this stuff all the time but I've really been at a loss
for finding experienced hands who can point me in the right direction. I
am currently a low time helicopter pilot working toward my commercial and
instrument ticket. I have a great desire to do contract helicopter fire
support but don't quite know where to begin besides just racking up flight
time. My flight base is Civic Helicopters in San Diego and they do offer
limited Bambi bucket training in a Hughes 500 but I just don't want to
begin throwing hard earned money away if there are other full blown and
better aerial firefighting schools where I can gain not only bucket
training but also fire knowledge. Any help you can throw my way would be
much appreciated. Also, I just turned 30 and am considering pursuing a
waiver into the Army's Warrant Officer helicopter flight training program
as quite possibly the world's oldest W/O. Do you find that military
experience places a pilot head and shoulders above the rest in this
Best Regards and Thanks Again,
Gregory C. Winegar
thanks lot for the explanation about model 60!!!
Little is written or publicated about these USFS units.
If you like a copie of the old Big Surīs E 18 of "LPF" let me
know your address (sorry no scanner) and I will send it to you.
Greetings from Germany
||I see it must be that time of year again with all this talk of the pack
test. I only have two comments on the pack test, one pro, one con. As far
as the difficulty goes, if I can pass it anybody with any business on the
line should be able too, I'm not exactly Mr. Universe. I have taken
numerous "physical agility" tests for fire departments and for
wildland the packtest is a good test, far superior to the old step test.
My only complaints with the test are the misuse and the way the agencies
have tried to get by on the cheap, I've been out of the wildland side for
a few years if either of these have changed since, then please ignore my
As far as misuse I know of several crews who pushed their people to pass
the test in less than the allotted 45 minutes despite the test literature
advising against that, the test was designed to be done in 45 minutes not
40, 35 or 30. The second part of this is the pitiful medical screening
done by employers, when it first came out we were given a form asking us
to fill in the blanks for possible medical ailments incompatible with the
test, like employees were going to willfully get themselves fired for not
being able to take the test based on a paper, no doctors exam was done,
the last year I took it there was talk of having employees over 45 get a
physical. Medical screening should require an EKG for all employees and a
good physical (actually these should be done annually anyway for any
Finally in my experience the "medical" crews are usually first
responders that might have a 10 person 1st aid kit (the little red belt
pack), with the number of fatalities and the nature of the test, there
should be at a minimum, a well equipped EMT with a semi-auto defib
dedicated to evaluating the test participants as they go, or preferably a
paramedic ambulance on site, there is no excuse to be killing people while
they are trying to qualify for their job, sure it may happen but with the
precautions I mentioned it should occur much less often, I wonder how many
of the packtest fatalities would have been screened out or revived if
these precautions had been in place.
Also from the post asking about the 0081 has there been a recent
development classifying 0462 / 0455 "firefighters" as 0081's
that I've missed or is this just based on the ongoing quest to get a
proper classification for the wildland folks?
I remember your visit to Big Sur, I was the Fire Engine Operator there at
that time. That particular engine has long since been replaced (like me!).
In answer to your question-the Model 60s had a hose bed the full length of
the vehicle on top, while the door in the back held pre-connected hose
lays and hose packs. That configuration has remained the same until the
later version of the Model 62. The swing-out door in the back has been
replaced by a roll-up door, and a hose reel is in the compartment. If
you're looking for pictures of Model 60/61/62s in particular, the Engines
photo pages on this website have some good ones.
||For NorCal Tom and those of you following the airtanker/leadplane
availablity issues: here's an interesting post on using cobra helicopters
as lead, not to replace the Barons lead planes (of which we have few left)
but as another option in the arsenal of aviation options on fire.
Ab, please add this... www.nifc.gov/fireinfo/nfn.phpl
info on the MAFFS training at Boise.
Where have you been? I lost your e-mail address and I need to get a hold
of you. Just in case you have forgotten, let me give you a hint. The surf
in SB has been pretty flat. Look forward to hearing from you.
The Meat... Ab will pass a message on if you've lost his contact info.
||Why not request the WCT to be evaluated by the American Medical
Association and the American Cardiologists Associations, NIOSH and OSHA...
while we're at it, how about getting a civil rights impact analysis done.
One was done when this test was being developed, back in 1997-98 (the WCT
hasn't been around forever for you youngsters)Also, all the pilot phase
testings for this test appear to have only Hotshot crew folks, oh yeah I
think there was 1 or 2 trail folks involved in some phases of pilots, at
one time or another... why not engine folks, handcrew folks, FPT's, FMO
and ADFMO folks, heck how 'bout water tender folks? There are different
physical requirements for each of these folks in all of these these
positions, why must they all have to pass the same WCT at all the same
level? There are some agencies, other than feds that have participated in
some phases of pilot testing of the WCT, most all of them however either
participated by answering questionnaires and mailing them back and some
participated in medico/physical examination stuff, not actual physical
ability testing, such as WCT... Here's another question... Where's the
information on all of the accidents and injuries that have occurred over
the years while using this test? By the way, last year in 2002, 21
Wildland Firefighters died, 4 of them died either preparing for, during or
immediately after this test. One person was almost a 5th casualty from it.
I think the 3.2 annual count is possibly incorrect... (What's .2 of a
person anyways?) There's already been 4 people I think, this year that've
died. Who's gonna be next? Why not utilize alternate testing developed for
folks who could possibly be at risk for heart/back injuries or problems
with age, height or other physical limitations...(Especially for folks who
have otherwise been able to satisfactorily or excel in the performance of
their job duties, prior to the sole use of the WCT.As for something to
prescreen for Heart Health problems... how 'bout a cardiac enzyme blood
draw. Also, why aren't there required annual or bi-annual written
intelligence exams for red-card qualifications for fire folks? Just
because a task book was signed off once and maybe a written test was taken
once, doesn't necessarily mean one's still adequate or proficient in
something. Later all... Another J.W.
||Reading the news today I found the following story:
One statement it makes is, "Healthy, responsible nations do not send
the mothers of small children to or near the front lines. . ."
At first I thought they meant the fire lines, but then I see they are
focused on the military. But what if the organizations trying to make
decisions for individuals did focus on wildfire? Seems like there's always
someone else trying to force their narrow sighted viewpoints on others.
One conservative activist pointed out there were 3 women ambushed in Iraq
who "did not volunteer for the Army with the ambition of serving in
combat". First I wonder if they were quoted in context, or even
quoted at all? If their opinions were reported accurately, I must then
wonder what they thinking when they spent hours of classroom training
becoming familiar with their rifles, then marching back and forth to the
shooting range to fire live ammo at people shaped targets?
By golly, when I was first issued those yellow shirts and pants and was
told that they were to help protect me from burning that there just may be
some amount of danger to my new job. That there may just be more to it
than riding around in a big green truck and collecting a regular paycheck.
No real big news here, just wanted to know if this kind of thinking pushes
anyone else's buttons.
Happy Mother's Day Mom, it was nice to be with you this year! Thanks for
taking the interest to follow this site and trying to understand what's
been keeping me jumping outt'a bed each morning for the last 27 years!
(And why I've missed being with you for so many of the past Mother's
||Ab or anyone,
am currently a 0081 with the DoD. It was brought
up that all the firefighter from the USFS and BLM are
going to be changing their series number from that of
a forestry tech (0462 & 0455) to the firefighter
series 0081. If this is true, what impact will it
have on both the forestry firefighters and us
structural firefighters? Will we have to get all the
forestry certs and will the forestry guys have to get
all the structural certs just to meet full performance
grade? Just curious to find out if any of the forestry
people have heard this.
||You requested information on Type 1 and 2 IMTeams….. Here is a link to
the rosters of the six Fire Use Management Teams.
Thanks, Jackson. Ab.
||Happy Moms Day to all the moms out there. Where would the species be
Doc, You can find the info on the Annual Refresher Video - 2003 here: www.nifc.gov/safety_study/annual-refresh/
Look in the righthand box for the link.
To all the hardworking firefighter moms - from camp support and
dispatch to the moms on the fireline. Best wishes of the day also to wives
of firefighters, moms of firefighters, grandmas of firefighters, hotshot
aunties and other strong support women of our fire world. We appreciate
you all. THANK YOU for your contributions! The Abs.
||FEMA is desperately seeking out their "Disaster Assistance"
reservists for Tennessee and Missouri, even to the point of calling those
that are listed as "not available" at home on a Saturday to see
if they'd change to "available". Can a T-1 IMT call be far
||We've been checking over the Type
II IMT page and wonder if anyone has up-to-date information on the
Southwest teams or any of the other Type II teams. Please take a look
and send us any updates.
For example, based on new info from the SW GACC (SIT300), the SW Type II
teams list this year seems to include Oltrogge, Raley, Bateman, Philbin,
Kvale. Last year there were 10 Type II teams, Bateman's team was Type I.
This year there are only 5 including Bateman's team which is listed as
Type II? There seem to be a lot of changes just in the SW... What about
We'd appreciate updated info from any of the regions. Or please send an
e-mail letting us know who to e-mail or call for updated info.
||BBTBDC - at the risk of offering some unwanted advice: slow down, take a
deep breath, and re-read my posting of 5/8/03 about the WCT. When you do,
I think that you'll find that we're on the same side on this issue!
I fully support the WCT. It's my opinion that those opposed to it: 1) are
ignoring the arduous nature of fire suppression work; 2) don't want to
look at the bigger issue of non-WCT deaths that occur yearly; 3) may have
an anti-government/management bias that overrides the facts; and 4) don't
have anything better to offer that makes sense, both practically and
economically, in ALL the sites across the US that need to test wildland
I DID say that I believed that wildland firefighters would accept a new
test that met those criteria, and challenged them, and you, to offer a
suggestion that's better thought out than a sarcastic comment about
"a 50 yard walk carrying a six-pack of beer"!
If you'd like to carry this discussion further "off-line", ask
Ab to give you my regular Email address and we can visit some more.
||Hi BringBackTheBrushDisposalCrews, (think I got that right?)
Just a little note... Aberdeen is not against the WCT. If you read
carefully, I think you'll find he/she is for it. Their question as I
understood it was --if not the Pack Test, what other kind of universal
Just my take on Aberdeen's post.
||A few thoughts from a camp slug! I started in the
USFS at age 39, and greatly enjoyed the incentive to
stay in shape that firefighting caused. It just so
happened that the pack test arrived at a time my body
told me to slow down and let the young guys to the fun
stuff on the fireline. A ruptured disk and cardiac
diagnosis later, I've been very happy to see the pack
test replace the step test. With a naturally low
heart rate, I probably could still pass the step test
with ease. I also manage to stay in shape enough I
COULD probably also pass the pack test with ease.
My point is this. The pack test and related
fatalities keeps me off the fireline. At 51, with
congenital mitral valve prolapse and a history of back
surgery x1, I really have no business fighting fire
with the younger crowd. But if the step test was
still in place, I'd be tempted to take it and throw my
name in the hat into the fire ring. Instead, I trust
my gut and work in firecamps instead of endangering my
life and thus the lives of others.
I realize some folks may die taking the pack test, but
concur that some folks also die driving to take the
pack test in the same way they die driving to fires.
Some things are just risky. The risks of dying from
not staying in shape outweigh the risks of dying from
Doc tells me not to lift more than 80 lbs (good number
for both back and heart). So it makes sense to me to
just realize that I can stay in shape with LOTS of
walking, and still let others who are younger and
don't have life-long/recently diagnosis heart problems
hit the fire line! So, you can count on at least one
person NOT dying of the pack test (or firefighting),
and leaving those risks to persons who are at much
lower risk of problems than I probably am! Its a
personal choice. Nobody's twisting the arms of most
I found your web side very very interesting. While visiting the US West
coast- you must know I came from Germany - I visited stations of CDF and
With you web side I learn about the different USFS models like the model
60, I saw such a rig at Big Sur Station in 1992 on an International w.
B&Z body I guess...
My question: on the photo I note that the model 60 at back side has its
pump and pump panel , the hose bed seems to be at the top (above) in the
middle of the back side of the rig is a door. could you let me know what
could be behind the door? More hose, tools???
Thanks for helping
Greetings from Germany
Thorsten, tell us the photo name and the engine photo page so we have a
photo to reference. Ab.
||Panhandle Slim & Aberdeen,
OK, what kind of test do you propose as an alternative? A fifty yard walk
carrying a six-pack of beer? Or no test at all?
I'm getting sick of all this pack test bashing. The fact is that wildland
firefighting is hard physical work that not everyone is suited for. No
matter how much some folks would like to make it so, we cannot rewrite the
rules of nature so that skinny-armed sowbellies can be hard-charging
productive firefighters. During my career, I've had to help medivac too
many folks that had no business being out in the woods. It is no fun doing
CPR on a puking 280 pound guy in the hot sun, watching him turn blue while
you're waiting for the helicopter.
The sad truth is that many Americans are in woeful physical condition and
die of myocardial infarctions every day. They die at the library, they die
on the toilet, they die in bed, and they die taking pack tests. Marathon
runners, basketball players, and track athletes die of heart attacks. It
a sad but immutable fact that even the most expert doctors with the best
equipment cannot absolutely predict who will have a heart attack.
like 3% of the people who take cardio-pulmonary stress tests in clinical
settings experience heart attacks.
Slamming Dr. Sharkey is pure crap. This man has dedicated 30 years of his
life to developing a worthwhile physical testing standard for wildland
firefighters. There was a mountain of work that preceded the development
the pack test. Dr. Sharkey's work is highly respected by his peers. Most
of my firefighting colleagues consider the pack test to be no big deal,
really just a minimum standard and a walk in the park for a healthy,
productive firefighter. It takes dedication and commitment if you want to
stay in shape, and lots of folks, including most of the pack test
piss-and-moaners, just don't have it.
Panhandle, there is no conspiracy, there is no coverup. Give up your quest
to find the "secrets" behind the pack test. A few people out of
thousands who have taken the pack test have died, and people will continue
to die, training for or taking the pack test. Would you rather have them
collapse while taking the pack test, where an EMT is present and an
emergency medical plan is in place? Or would you prefer that they have a
heart attack while working on some isolated fire where their chance of
survival is near zero, and where they become a hindrance and danger to
everyone around them?
I'm not callous about death; it is very sad when people die training to
fight fires. It is sad when people die on fires. But the truth is that
those people were ticking time bombs and that some other event would have
eventually triggered a heart attack.
As for me, if I die of a heart attack while training for the pack test or
on a fire, it is my fault. I'll take responsibility for my actions. I
feel that it is right for my family to sue my employer because I made bad
lifestyle choices and ate too many cheeseburgers.
||Chat summary: There was some discussion about how ill-prepared FEMA
and the DHS are to handle emergencies, some discussion of the current
tornado emergency situation.
For those of you wanting to follow the storm cells over the midwest,
here's the place to go. www.noaa.gov/
You can enter a city name, comma and state abbreviation and get something
like this: www.crh.noaa.gov/radar/latest/DS.p19r0/si.ksgf.shtml.
Right now at least until the day heats up things seem to be fairly quiet.
There were tornadoes near OK City well into the night last night, which is
I am told that info was posted at midnight on the Walker Fire, 15 mi from
Cloudcroft NM. It's 3000 acres and at that time was staffed with 2 FS
hotshot crews and 3 BLM handcrews, 3 ATs some 163 personnel in all.
Evidently there have been a number of red flag warning days in a row.
Things are dry. For more info, check the SW
GACC's News and Notes. (You can link to the SW Fire News and Notes
easily from our links
page, under news, GACCs and southwest.) Please be aware that there is the
existing Raley Type 1 California IIMT and, this year, also a Raley Type 2
Week & Space Technology - Another Tough Fire Season- more on the
air support situation than you might want to know, but no exact large AT
||Update 2033 PDT from NMAirBear in chat: Walker Fire on the Lincoln NF
now 3000 acres, Raley's Type 2 Southwest team is ordered.
||There is a new fire on the Lincoln NF in the vicinity of
Mayhill/Cloudcroft. The ABQ TV news says it is over 100 acres, shot crews
and T2 crews ordered. Most of our local Lincoln Zone resources including a
T3 team is on the way.
||Chat: I'll check in about 2000 Pacific time.
Sounds good, gotta go get a little libation. Ab.
||can anyone tell me if and or how i can get a copy of the usfs entrapment
avoidance video being used for this years annual refreshers
I was attending DIVS S-339 last week and there was a person from the USFS
aviation office in Denver sitting on a panel for the class. He told us, as
of that day, only 4 airtankers had passed inspections, and some had
failed. (He did not say how many.) He also had doubts about any
"repairs" that might be done to those that had failed. (Who
wouldn't? Do the pilots get to see the results of the inspections?)
This time last year Colorado and other areas would have been hurting with
only 4 airtankers! Sounds like 33 is probably optimistic.
||The deaths associated with the WCT are not all related to the pack test;
some are related to the walk & field tests. Some of the deaths were
associated to health conditions that the standard medical screening did
not pick up on. I suppose the message is to get regular complete medical
check ups, maintain good nutrition and regular exercise programs both at
home and at work. The last thing I want to see on the line is someone who
is not physically capable of doing the job.
||Thanks to ALL for the answers on my smoke question. I will
look at the news with all new eyes. What a fine and interesting
forum this is. My hotshot was the one who "turned me on" to
theysaid. As a non-firefighter, let me thank the Ab (Abs?) for
what you do.
The community here is terrific, isn't it. Cudos to them for their
Had to go out and burn a few damp piles with and without diesel to look at
the smoke. Didn't see any black in the burnout condition... Thanks
Southern Ranger for the answer.
When I was balling up newspaper and getting my non-diesel pile ready, I
came across a letter to the editor of the Eureka paper from last year. A
Redding Smokejumper (or former sj) had written in asking why the
smokejumpers in norcal had not been used on IA on the Biscuit (Florence)
When the Biscuit (Florence) began, I had heard that resources were in
short supply. The Siskiyou Helitack was in Colorado, some said being held
there, and no one else was available to IA. The fire start was in/near the
wilderness area and fighting it was lower priority than fighting other
fires started by the series of lightning busts. I assumed it was a
situation similar to the fires of the Big Bar Complex which burned in and
out of wilderness and didn't have resources on them for many days due to
fires burning and manned more to the east in NV, eastern CA, etc.
The smokejumper's letter did raise questions, however. Were those
resources available? Were they simply missed by someone in the fog of the
IA moment? Or were their non-use the result of R6 not wanting to use R5
resources, R5 not wanting to let the smokejumpers go? Was it something
else? As the letter pointed out, the smokejumpers are a shared national
resource as are hotshots and airtankers... Was this the example of
something wrong with the system of resource use or a one-time oversight?
If it is part of a larger systemic problem, are the powers-that-be working
to correct it? What is the plan?
Has anyone read the report on the Biscuit Fire? Is it available online?
Does anyone know the story on the IA and the smokejumpers and/or IA
resources in general? I know someone wrote in last fall with a number of
questions about the use of resources from R5, including non-use of CDF
resources. Most questions were not addressed, if I recall correctly. Does
anyone have more info that can be shared now that the report is done? The
California portion of the fire (Sour Biscuit) was contained fairly quickly
all thing considered. Why not the Oregon portion? Was it their reliance on
contractors, including some bad ones? (Not bashing the good contractors,
just looking for answers.)
I guess what I'm wondering is whether the same thing can/will happen again
this season someplace else. I know that the "going fire" gets
the resources and that sometimes resources are held over by fire managers
and line officers even when they're not actively being used. If the
southern Sierra (San Bernardino NF) burns this summer and resources are
already assigned in CO and NM and NV, how do we get them back? What are
the Lessons Learned from the Biscuit?
In asking this question, let me remind non-fire people reading here that
about 97% or 98% of all fires are picked up on Initial Attack. We all
celebrate that great success rate. However, if there is a situation that
shouts "watch out" that exists regarding sharing resources
between regions and that influences the remaining 3% of small fires to go
to large fires, we should know that and work to mitigate it. Actually,
it's logical that people on up in the fire organization are doing that.
Are they? And I'm especially concerned when I see the treekill on the San
Bernardino and feel the inevitability of a small fire there on the
interface not being picked up on IA and going to a large fire. As far as
I'm concerned the houses don't matter so much as the lives at risk.
I have been up to see the results of the Biscuit Fire. Looks pretty good.
Fire burns there regularly every 50 years or less. Like the Big Bar
Complex it seems to have been a "good low fire" for the most
Should we be letting some of these fires that escape IA and EA just burn
themselves out, protecting only the "values at risk"? Is this
all we can afford to do? If so, who makes that decision? (The Big MAC?
loved that one NorCal Tom!) Would the Public accept that decision? Just
looking at another alternative from someone who tries to see the issues
from all sides.
Mellie (PS. Thanks for the acronym info, Hunter. <smooch>)
||Civil Service Curmudgeon-thanks for the input.
MTMike-ah, if only it were that simple!
However, it's not just about whether federal employees keep their jobs
(though one might question the motives of an administration that moved
airport security to federal status due to unsatisfactory contractor
performance, then holds up contracting as the ideal for the rest of the
federal workforce- I'm still puzzling that one out). It's also about the
fate of all our public lands; something that most of us value for reasons
other than, or in addition to, employment opportunities.
Think about it- an already strapped organization that is further reduced
30-50% to reach its MEO (Most Efficient Organization), how effective a
steward can one be when buried beneath an already overwhelming workload?
Or if a government employee with years of on-the-ground-knowledge and
skill has been changed to a contractor who is only supposed to go where
he/she is told, and do the work he/she is paid to do? That's a pretty
effective way to undermine good land management. As government employees,
we have some ability to act as land stewards, to both make and influence
management decisions. And not to belabor the point, but what about charter
forests, which attempt (in my view) to circumvent both FS mgt and env
I would like to hear just one WO official say that I may have to implement
this $%@*&( program- but I completely disagree with it!
And thanks to all the Union Reps, who have the thankless task of keeping
their fingers in the outsourcing dike.
||If you log onto www.fpmi.com/FedNews/DailyNews.phpl
you should see the most recent articles regarding Competitive
Sourcing. There are two articles there worth reading.
||Ab, I want to mention here that a wonderful young firefighter from our
community of Lead SD has passed on from natural causes. He will be greatly
missed. Please list this story as it says it better than I can.
a bright and shiny silver dollar
Remember to take care of and appreciate each other
||RE pack test: Ive been biting my lip on this for a while, but finally
vent. Fer cryin out loud people! This isnt rocket science. A) yup, its
tragic when someone dies while taking the PT. B) yup, whatever agency is
administering the test should be requiring pre-physical exam and have
on scene...or else they should taken on the carpet (or what ever that term
is). But, do you honestly think that the PT is more strenuous than you
encounter on the line????
ok...thanks for lettin me vent a little
||Can anyone update us on the Air Circus?
I think I heard here that we're going to have 33 of the 44 ATs available
this year if they pass inspection. Anyone know what the latest count is
going to be? I know we're not supposed to use them except on IA, or maybe
make a request if needed but know it might be denied. Will the National
MAC group (Big MAC, heh) be making assignment decisions? Does anyone know
if we'll also have military? Saw this article and realized I still don't
have the larger picture. Does anyone? Also, anyone know where we stand on
Planes Train For Wildfire Drops In Boise
Thanks for the News page, Abs.
Yer welcome. There are lots of articles in the News.
Must be heating up. Ab.
||Anyone for CHAT tonight?
Come with a good fire topic, something other than pack test. Yeah, yeah, I
know you've been deep into training, all the more reason to kick back.
||Been lurkin' out here, reading all the posts about the Pack test, and
I'm reminded of the old saying about "a dog with a bone: they just
won't let go!".
Looks like to me that some folks are really focusing on some pretty small
numbers in the whole big picture of firefighter deaths. Yeah, it's a
bummer when anyone dies. None of us want it to happen to us, or the others
we work with.
But all the noise about how bad the Pack test seems to be is looking past
all the other things that are killing us, like vehicle wrecks, aircraft
crashes, non-Pack Test heart attacks and burnovers.
What do we do? Last year, 9 folks died in vehicle accidents; 6 died in
aircraft wrecks. Its a pretty typical pattern over the past 10-15 years.
Where's the outcry and rage to stop using vehicles and aircraft on fires?
And for all the postings, I've still yet to see any suggestions that would
identify undiagnosed brain aneurisms or genetic heart defects that have
led to recent deaths, yet would never show up in 99% of all physical
I believe that all of us in the wildfire suppression business would accept
a new test that could be used uniformly across the US, from the largest
community in Southern Cal to the small towns of eastern Idaho and South
Dakota, without needing a Regional Medical Center to administer an
all-day, multi -hundred $$ physical exam.
So, fellow firefighters, what's the answer?
Welcome Aberdeen, glad ya joined the fray. Ab.
||More info. in reference to the WCT administration,
from "Working Teams" pages... see IOSWT Oct. 2002
minutes, SHWT minutes for Oct. 2002, scroll down to
New Business, then read... I have to think back, the
quote from Dr. Sharkey, I believe was noted in the
April 2002 minutes, but for some reason, probably
archived or something, the SHWT's April 2002 minutes
cannot be viewed, heck, maybe it's because they're
over a year old and are now obsolete and deleted.
Anyways, there was also a death in Georgia about 2 or
3 weeks ago, a Fire Chief died preparing to get
"Red-Carded"... for wildfire responses, do volunteers
get counted in the tally as well? The truth is, only
the incidents that are reported get noted. There's
lots of incidents and injuries that occur that don't
get reported, especially back, hip and knee injuries.
If they do get reported, then I wonder where those
stats are... A whole 20 person crew was WCT'd recently
(in the last month), prior to ANY employees' paperwork
being completed and turned in. The only thing
personnel had on the group of folks that were tested,
was their applications, glad none were hurt or
||Civil Service Crimudgeon,
The interesting thing about Bush's Competitive Sourcing Initiative is that
it was actually instituted by the Clinton Administration (or before?). It
actually took flight with a change in Administration. So it can work both
ways. CS has been around awhile but the FS took a "it can't happen to
stance while the Initiative was not emphasized for a number of years. Now
the FS is scrambling to position itself to be more competitive as the
various studies take place. The good thing about the upcoming study on
FF's (FY04/05?) is that we will have gone through a couple of studies to
learn how to compete better with CS and it won't be one of the accelerated
studies. Unfortunately, it's the computer folks and maintenance (fleet,
recreation, roads) folks in the FS who will take it on the chin first.
Your statement about taking pride in what we do (I'm FS) is correct. We
need to pump out our chests and wear our uni's everyday, not just start
wearing them more to show support in special situations. We come under
attack so much we don't realize that we are still the best in the world at
what we do.
Mellie - on the question about drip torch and smoke, I have never seen
torch fuel affect the color of the smoke. If anything, there is usually
less smoke from the drip torch fuel initially. The smoke is dependant on
the veg being burning (have burned hundred's of thousand of acres).
I keep hearing all this about outscoring. I can see the bad and good of
it. The one thing that I don't under stand is that people are going to
loose jobs. This might be so for some but if you go your work and do it
right you should not worry about your job. And if you get replaced by a
contractor, Become a contractor and bid on the job. How knows if you are
good at what you do you might become a big contractor and provide jobs for
others. Of course if you need the security blanket of the Federal
Government to make a living then hang on to it. You are negative, be
positive and look at it as a great opportunity.
just to add to some of whats been said:
The chemical make up of plants varies drastically, and some plants do put
out black lung burning smoke. One of those we hate in Florida is an
invasive (not native) tree called mellaluca (tea tree family). That stuff
burns like an oil tanker.
If you think of it, show your shot this site and I'm sure that will be a
starting point for a good conversation. (Not to mention showing your
personal hot shot your interest and support.)
Thanks for joining in,
Flash in Florida
OSD = Operational System Description.
Often the very dark smoke you see in fires along the Great Lakes is from
cat tails and fragmities. These are both plants that grow in marshy areas.
Even though their roots and lower stems may be in water, both the plants
carry fire quite well. We have pics of them supporting at least 30 foot
flame lengths when pushed by winds.
||Here's the Union's response on our behalfs to the proposed 2004 and 2005
to the Competitive Sourcing Study Letter
No, No Bush's Plan
||Does anyone know what the acronym OSD stands for? It was mentioned in
the same breath as the 310-1 and the PTB so I assume it's some kind of
NWCG standards... Also, what is the DAWG, some kind of working group of
NWCG or someone's twisted sense of acronym humor (or both)?
Could the dark heavy smoke of the marsh brush on the Great Lakes be due to
the oils typically found in the marsh vegetation? Look at the pic on the
index page. Dark smoke there. Does a burnout involving a drip torch create
dark smoke too?
||Millie, Thank you for the response. But, you to failed to answer the
Simple Question. How many people have died taking or preparing for the WCT
since 1998? Sharkey says 3.2/yr. I looked at the same info you did. And
came to the same conclusion. Lots of heart attacks. Someone out there has
the answer, and if you do maybe you could spoon feed it to me
||To Treehggr who asked- If the current administration is voted out in the
next election year, does the outsourcing juggernaut stop? Or will it
continue regardless of who is in office unless a concerted effort is made
by our elected reps to stop it?
It depends upon the candidate. However after working for five different
administrations it has been my experience that one administration's
initiative tends to dissolve when confronted with the new priorities of an
incoming administration. The bottom line is money. If the Bush
administration's outsourcing initiative is based solely upon ideology and
not upon any sort of economic sense, then it will be history when the Bush
Administration leaves office.
What may make the Bush outsourcing plan look insignificant is the
budget deficits of the future. Not only the wildland fire profession, but
the pension system that many old firefighters depend upon could be
threatened if Uncle Sam digs a deep enough hole while engaged in chasing
To "Green and Grinning"- God bless you and your uniform wearing
The spirits of TR and Gifford Pinchot are smiling down on you, rejoicing
the fact that someone still remembers the reasons that the Forest Service
was founded in the first place! Duty and honor and the greatest good for
the most people over the long term. After being a political football for
the past couple of decades, it's about time that the federal civil service
rediscover it's roots and takes a little pride in itself. If America needs
a reminder as to the purpose and importance of an effective civil service
it need not look any farther than post war Iraq. Without an effective
civil service a nation has trouble finding it's a** with both hands.
The Civil Service Crimudgeon
||Does anyone out there ,on the federal side, put "Keep Back 500
on their type 6 engines? How about type 3?
This all came about as the result of a little 'mishap' during an interface
I personally think it's a good idea. It's kind of a 'CYA' thing.
Thanks for the help.
||My my, look at all this about the WCT. I'll try to address a few of the
First, Let's carefully review the IOS WT notes that Atta Gal referred to -
they do NOT say that "Mr. Sharkey had concerns about the way his test
that he developed for 'Those in actual line digging positions' was being
administered to everyone." I have to take exception to Atta Gal's use
of the word "everyone" - the WCT is not applied to everyone.
Here are the notes from the meeting:
The Safety and Health WT (SHWT) requests the IOS WT initiate an
evaluation of some positions that require Arduous, due to the recent
fatalities during the Work Capacity Test (WCT). Dr. Sharkey presented
the history and development of the WCT. The average fatalities per year
on the Pack and Field test is 3.2 and generally, those individuals were
over 45 and had other risk factors and/or prior medical conditions. Dr.
Sharkey and Chuck Whitlock have been working on the Administrators Guide
for the WCT to tighten up the guidelines. The IOS WT went through the
memo from SHWT and made some changes to the fitness levels.
Follow Up: Changes need to be incorporated in next 310-1
revision. Bob will draft a response back to the S&HWT citing the
approved changes by IOS WT at this meeting.
As I read it, there's going to be a little tightening up of which
positions the arduous rating will be applied to, at least according to
those notes. That's different than what you might be lead to believe from
Atta Gal's letter.
Another really interesting thing in the notes above is that generally the
individuals that died in connection with the WCT were over 45 and
"had other risk factors and prior medical conditions." Doesn't
sound like those people ought to be on the line, though I think all
agencies should screen carefully for medical problems before pack testing.
For what it's worth, I support the Medical Standards Testing Program to
help identify those conditions. But bottom line, it means some people that
aren't healthy or fit won't be able to qualify for fireline positions and
that's okay with me.
Darrin Dodson wrote:
"About the WCT, how many agencies even allow their employees to
participate in a fitness program? NFPA clearly states that if a
firefighter is required as a condition of employment to perform at a
fitness level, the employer shall provide a fitness program to allow the
employee to maintain the level of fitness."
To answer that question, I'd say most of the federal ones do. The
interagency Red Book states that for the signatory agencies:
"Agency administrators are responsible for ensuring the overall
physical fitness of firefighters. The agency administrator may authorize
employees who are available and/or serving in wildland or prescribed
fire positions that require a physical fitness rating of arduous, one
hour each day for fitness condition. All other wildland firefighting
personnel may be authorized up to three hours per week of duty time for
And for Auntie: Dark smoke means heavy fuels, like timber or heavy brush
"oily" brush. Light smoke means light fuels like grass.
means light winds and moderate burning conditions, a column means high or
extreme burning conditions. Smoke tells you a lot about the fire...and the
hth (hope that helps),
||Mount Rushmore National Memorial, in their infinite wisdom, has decided
to make shooting fireworks over their ponderosa pine forest an annual July
3 event----even though 18 fires were started by the fireworks there
between 1999 and 2001, and two firefighters were injured suppressing the
fires at night in very steep, rocky terrain. The tourist industry and of
course the local newspaper are in favor of it because they think it brings
in tourist dollars. But, at the same time, the newspaper published an
editorial cartoon placing Smokey Bear among the faces on Mount Rushmore.
Firefighter safety and responsible resource management be dammed.
There are almost certainly more qualified folks out there to answer your
question about smoke, but I’ll take my stab at it:
Fire (combustion) is an oxidation reaction: fuels (grass, trees, whatever)
reacting with oxygen. Most fuels are a combination of carbon, hydrogen,
and oxygen; when they burn, they are converted to carbon dioxide (CO2) and
water (H2O). This is called complete combustion. The smoke you see from
complete combustion is mostly water vapor, with particulates of white ash
(white ash being the stuff in the fuels that wasn’t carbon, hydrogen, or
oxygen). White smoke happens when the fire is hot enough, and oxygenated
enough, to completely combust whatever’s burning.
When the fire either isn’t hot enough to force the oxidation reaction
all the way, or the fuels are cooled before they’ve completely burned,
or there isn’t enough oxygen available to complete the conversion of
fuels to CO2 and H2O, you get incomplete combustion. In incomplete
combustion, instead of producing CO2, the fire produces CO, carbon
monoxide, and instead of white ash, you get carbon particulates in your
smoke. These carbon particulates are the black smoke you saw in pictures
from the Cleveland fire. My guess would be that the smoke at the Cleveland
fire was black for a number of reasons, including wet fuels (cooling
burning material so complete combustion couldn’t take place) or fuels
burning with limited oxygen (fuels packed together so that material was
smoldering rather than really burning freely).
Nerd on the Fireline
I did a quick Google Search on "wildland fire" "heart
Here's one place to find the raw stats on wildland firefighter deaths:
National Interagency Fire Center, Wildland Fire Accidents by year (since
1910 as available). Reporting and recording have improved through the
From 1953 on, deaths from heart attacks to all deaths was 84 of 618
or 13.6% (Picked that year, because it was the first in which heart attack
deaths were reported. Probably deaths from heart attacks were higher. I
would expect under-reporting by those on the ground. The point is, someone
recognized this was an important category starting in 1953.)
In 1999 when reporting and record keeping was much better, 11 of the 28
deaths (39%) were from heart attack. YIKES... My guess is that this stat
propelled the Work Capacity Test as the standard.
In 2001 and 2002, only 2 of 41 deaths were attributable to heart attack,
that's 4.8%. Too early to compare two years of stats with years of doing
the step test, but give it time. As Old Fire Guy suggests, people who are
likely to die of heart attack might not be passing the WCT...
In 2001 and 2002, the category "deaths while doing the Work Capacity
Test" has been added.
This one has some interesting summary stats on deaths on wildland fire:
Wildfire Fatalities - Who and Where, published Spring 2002
OK, so do your homework, Panhandle. Look around, call around. You want
everything spoon fed?
PS Hickman, glad you and yours are OK and thanks for the personal contact
work you're doing for members of our community who haven't been able to
reach relatives "Back in the Midwest tornado zone". Please
continue to Be Safe!
PSS Good job on the Wednesday Uniform Day, Green and Grinnin'.
||Hello firefighters, I have a question.
What does the color of the smoke tell you about the fuel that's burning
and what the combustion is like? On the news sometimes smoke's black,
sometimes light, sometimes it's diffuse, sometimes a column. Is there ever
a black column? Is there anywhere on the web that describes this,
particularly what the color means? Those fires in the salt marshes near
Cleveland shown on CNN had lots of black smoke. Any other characteristics
of smoke I should pay attention to to know about the fire?
Hotshot's Auntie. -I'd have asked her, but I never remember when she's
||I have a question about outsourcing that maybe someone on this forum can
answer. If the current administration is voted out in the next election
year, does the outsourcing juggernaut stop? Or will it continue regardless
of who is in office unless a concerted effort is made by our elected reps
to stop it?
||Old Fire Guy
I agree with you that the test is a good gauge of physical fitness. But
the point is, people have died taking or preparing for this test. The ones
that have died have been in excellent physical condition as well in not so
great physical condition. The main point again, "people have died as
a result of this test". Look at the recent past in the fire fighting
world and the sweeping changes that have happened since South Canyon,
Thirty Mile, The Air Tanker tragedies. By using Dr. Sharky's ratio of 3.2
deaths per year. That equates to around 16 fatalities since the test was
adopted in 1998...And No Changes!
Same Test! How many more people have to die before someone goes Huh, maybe
we need to evaluate the path we are taking. I appreciate Dick Mangan's
answer, but lets look at 1998-2003 (Just WCT at any level). Some one needs
to come clean and let the world know how many people have either died, had
heart attacks or been injured in some way as a result of this test. It's a
simple question that no one seems to want to answer.
Who have you called to ask? Ab.
||About the WCT, how many agencies even allow their employees to
participate in a fitness program? NFPA clearly states that if a
firefighter is required as a condition of employment to perform at a
fitness level, the employer shall provide a fitness program to allow the
employee to maintain the level of fitness.
I ask all of you to look into our wildland discipline and ask yourself why
should we be surprised at the lack of consistency in standards
applications? The answer is COLLECTIVE BARGAINING, that's right, if you
are not organized as a firefighting union, you will not have an effective
avenue to question the feasibility of these new trends that become
accepted practices. The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
has a District Vice president that represents federal firefighters. If you
are not a federal employee and collective bargaining is allowed in your
state, then organize under the appropriate IAFF DVP.
California Department of Forestry is organized and now since April 2002,
all state employed firefighters in Florida are now organized, which
includes five state agencies (structural FF's, Forestry FF's, Fire
Inspectors, Instructors). In our contract negotiations, we have an ability
to research practices and disclose problems within them. We then work with
management to find a way to mitigate it where all parties can accept it.
Management will work with you if there is an identified problem and they
know that individually we are weak, but if the union identifies the
problem and recommends a viable solution, then management also knows they
are in an official position of accepting the liability for not effecting
the proposed changes.
I spent the last 6 years organizing our state-wide Local and it is because
I came from a structural department and was shocked at the inconsistencies
in the wildland arena. I truly believe we have thousands of wildland
firefighters nationally that need to change our course of fate as we move
more and more into part-timers and multi-role positions. I am afraid that
if we do not organize nationally, my memories of the way wildfire programs
used to be will be just that, a memory.
We must evolve with the times because labor rights that we enjoy now
(vacation days, FLSA, etc...), which were established back in the hayday
of unions, which all Americans take for granted nowadays, are up for
reductions or removal by employers. I am asking that we become a little
more patriotic and involved with democracy. The free 60's, 70's, 80's, and
90's are gone. We can't complain individually and expect changes to happen
in our favor.
President, Local S20
Wanted your readers to know that of the 12 people in our section 10 of us
were wearing our green uniforms today since it was Wednesday and we wanted
to show our support for the National Forests and for those fellow
employees who are currently having their jobs studied for outsourcing. We
are really having a lot of fun when people ask us why we are wearing our
colors and we tell them it is our way of expressing our feelings about
competitive sourcing. Hope to see more green uniforms next Wednesday.
Sign me "Green and Grinning"
||Ab I am looking for some old fire shelter photos. I found them in
archives Jan 02 but they will not open. Any chance of posting them again?
Dont know about that old link to the gsa fire shelter safety alert.
It doesn't work.
Photos and history from Dick Mangan of really old ones are linked here:
Some info as firefighters and families were asking for a new shelter:
Info and picture on new ones are here:
Here's a post to familysaid that came in last June '02:
Ab and families, here's some more fire shelter info for familysaid
that one of my sister's friends e-mailed me. (Do you think it's ok to post
Message from the fire people
Points to emphasize
Frequently asked questions
What it looks like.
Anyone know where there's a picture of last year's fire shelter? Anyone
want to take a pic for us?
||IMHO the WCT is a valid test. I've taken and passed it and believe it
reflects real world conditions better than the old Step-test. I also was
in on the early crew testing when the step-test was developed.
I do have questions however.......The WCT involves a series of events
to testing, including the HSQ, physical exam, certification by physician,
exercise preparation time, and finally, the WCT administered with the
presence of EMT.
Q: How many deaths have been prevented by the early detection of heart
Q: How many employees were refused the opportunity to take the test (thus
saving a heart attack on the fire)?
Q: How many folks benefited from the screening, and used this as
incentive to get into shape......thus avoiding a heart attack?
Q: How do the number of heart attacks experienced while testing for fire
compare to the number of heart attacks employees experience while seated
Q: What is the heart attack frequency among firefighters (WCT or while
fighting fire) compared to the general agency employee?
Q: Why must some always assume a sinister conspiracy exists.......?
Lastly, I participate and support this WCT because I believe in it. If I
felt there was a conspiracy, or that the testing put myself or others in
danger, I would choose to not participate. Those who say they
and believe the risk in unacceptable and use the excuse "they made me
Old Fire Guy
Thanks for the post. Some of these same questions came up in chat on
Friday night and we haven't had time to summarize that session. Ab.
I recently became Fire Information Officer for the upcoming New York
Wildfire and Incident Management Academy. I would greatly appreciate your
making a link from your site to our site www.dec.state.ny.us/website/reg1/acad.phpl
since I'm sure many wildland firefighters come to your site looking for
information regarding training and future employment opportunities.
In regard to training, I'm sure that the other wildland fire academies
that I know of:
http://www.cowildfireacademy.com/ - Colorado Wildfire Academy and Great
Plains Wildfire College
http://www.tamu.edu/ticc/training.php - Texas Interagency Wildfire Academy
http://www.ut.blm.gov/fire/fireacademy/intro.phpl - Utah Wildfire Academy
Keep up the good work on the site, it really is a great site.
Check the links page under training and education. We have your and
other training sites listed there. Thanks for the cudos. Ab.
One thing that people in small communities or large ones could do is to
e-mail that story from the Missoulian
(about small towns loosing jobs) to their congressional representatives. I
hear that more members of Congress are waking up to the potential fallout
from competitive sourcing.
Current wisdom says that following up with a fax or a letter is what you
should do. Print the story off and send it in telling them your concerns.
Become a WOLF with some TEETH! Get your friends to join the PACK!
||Ab, please post this.
It will give firefighters and others an idea of the thinking from the WO
on Competitive Sourcing. You can see what the thinking is for fire. Scary.
What are they thinking of?
Selection of Work Activities For Competitive Sourcing Study
Ab Note: This was labeled "Draft" and dated 4/23/03.
||Concerning the Pack Test and Heart Attacks:
While at MTDC, I did a report that looked at wildland fire fatalities from
1990-1998. In that period of time, 28 fatalities occurred (21% of all
fatalities); one (1) of these was the individual in Coos Bay, Oregon that
died while practicing for the Pack Test.
In 1999, there were additional 9 deaths among wildland firefighters from
heart attacks, and one (1) fatality from the Pack Test.
The entire 1990-1998 report is at www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/ref_material/index.phpl
I've been viewing your site for a while and it's time for me to comment.
Could you find through your sources exactly how many people have died
taking or preparing for the pack test? In light of the recent fatality in
N.C. I started looking back at the fatality statistics in the NIFC web
pages and I think I only found 2 fatalities associated with the test and
that was in 2002.
Now I know that there have been many! In fact, looking at the meeting
notes for the latest IOSWT meeting, Dr. Sharkey says the average
fatality/yr is 3.2. Now I think someone is "Cooking The Books"
at NIFC or the Washington Office to hide the fact that this is in fact a
deadly test and cover up is the best way to hide the facts. It is amazing
to me that any agency, be it State, Private, or Federal is continuing to
use this test. I think some one is going to get their pants sued off
because of it! I hear tale through the fire world that there is a federal
employee in Missoula Montana that has or is going to file an age
discrimination suit because of the test.
There has got to be a better alternative than this test. I take and pass
the test every year as a condition of my job, even though I disagree with
it. And Yes, I tell my wife, if I die taking this test hire a good lawyer.
Have a good day.
I work for CDF and I was at an airport a few years ago sitting with one of
the Assistant Deputy Directors who tell me that CDF was going to tell OES
to shove CICCS, that we were going to continue to do what we have always
done. Which is to say that the Unit Chief decides who is qualified and who
isn't, based on ? who knows what, but only peripherally related to
experience and training. The only jobs that CDF requires Task books and
the 310-1 stuff is Division Supervisor and all the aviation positions.
And lets not even talk about physical fitness standards.
||Shuttle support by State...
Cool map -Oregon comes in first, I think we sent a lot of contract crews.
resources 04/28/03 (89K pdf file)
||We updated the Jobs
Page, wildland firefighter Series
462 and Series 455.
Stu, we have that info for you re chat. Drop us a line. Ab.
Been getting several questions about what happened to the Region 5
web and team pages and where are they. Checked your links today and they
too are bad. All the Region 5 stuff was moved to The Washing Office
New address start with http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire
The team page addressing has been changed from team1, team2, team3, team4,
team5 to ciimt1, ciimt2, ciimt3, ciimt4, ciimt5. New address would be
like this http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/ciimt1
I don't know what happened to this text format in lotus notes, but it's
all goofed up, I'll send it anyway, but if you do copy and paste who knows
what will happen. Anyway, you might spread the word in they said it along
with changing the links on the site.
The Columbia Shuttle Recovery assignment in Palestine Texas was a real
cool assignment, lots of great dedicated folks we got to know back there.
It feels good to know that your task is for the greater good of all
mankind. Very rewarding experience.
Good to hear from you Pathfinder. I had heard that was going to happen.
I updated our type 1 teams page. Looks like there's still a glitch with
Readers, you can access the Incident Management Team list via the Links
page under Federal. If anyone has information on other updated team pages,
please send it in. We'd like to have the most complete types 1 and 2 team
information available. Thanks again, P. Ab.
310-1 has stated in the past that they accept documented State sponsored
training that is at least equivalent to the NWCG courses; so there should
not be to much problem accepting them on an incident. I think this is
current under the new 310-1.
Anyone have a different take on this ?
wondering if there has been any debrief or comments/papers written by the
crews that visited Victoria during our summer. Would be interested in what
they had to say in what they learned & what advice they have to pass
On another note our staff have been selected, with one of our Category 1
tankers (I'm told your type 4 equivalent) will be shipped over so our
crews won't be so disorientated (although a right hand drive vehicle on
the right hand side of the road will be interesting...)
I heard one 30 minute long powerpoint presentation that was quite
interesting. As I recall, your system felt different from ours with lots
more mechanical line building and fewer crews dig, dig, digging.
Vegetation and climate looked a lot like southern California. Ab.
||For Mellie and her ?? about the ''Nator
Yep.. Tor, Ralph's bastard brother, was in the neighborhood last night. He
flew over our town and landed in a small town in the county east of us,
Pierce City, about 20 miles down the road. He went right down Main Street
and basically demolished the town.We responded to assist after we received
the call and, on arrival, I ended up setting up a helibase for 5 medivac
helicopters. Luckily we only had to transport 4, but there are several
still missing. The town is largely made up of buildings a 100 years plus,
brick and heavy stone, but it made no difference. Roofs that weren't
removed, caved into the lower floors and store fronts fell into the
We pulled our people out after there was a problem with "Who's
In-charge?" It was dark and rescue/recovery efforts were hampered by
high winds from other storms and building conditions. There were several
agencies wanting to control the incident, but no-one wanted take command.
Town has a population of about 500 to 800 people. County Sheriff, County
Emergency Management, State People were having a large discussion in the
middle of Main Street when we pulled our people. May sound kind of bad on
our part, but there were so many people in the town, the population signs
could have said 5000. Our crew was able to search several buildings, but
when it came to the Armory, where people were to have taken shelter, they
didn't want us to enter the building. They then proceeded to drop the rest
of the structure without doing any search... time to leave.
Made for one long night, we offered to return today, but our county
Emergency Management said they didn't need our assistance today, maybe
tomorrow. So we are basically watching over the remainder of our county,
since some of the other local departments are working another area north
of us in the Carl Junction area. They lost about 5 blocks, including
police and fire stations. Haven't had a chance to watch the local news
today, still trying to catch up from Texas and recover from the Pack Test
last Friday...."I'm getting to old for this." Still made it in
42 minutes, a little slower than I wanted, but still under the 45. Guess
that's the price for sitting on my (_l_) all day.
Well back to my civic duty...
||Here's an issue with outsourcing that I have not seen discussed except
in firechat last Friday:
Montana towns could lose jobs in federal plan
This article is about Montana, but points made also hold true for
small rural towns everywhere that have FS, BLM and NPS ranger districts.
No, No Bush's plan.
||There are some new Job offerings up on the Jobs
page under Contracting. Check them out.
There are also some new ads up on the Classifieds
page under Consulting and also firefighter to firefighter.
Check out the other classifieds while you are there.
||Ab, here are some documents of interest regarding the competitive
sourcing objectives, process, limitations and other effects.
Problems with Competitive
Sourcing from a Forester's Perspective (has some parallels with
fire and other professions within the Forest Service)
Competitive Sourcing Points
Did You Know these things about
Re: states not following 310-1,
Actually, there is a more significant problem right now concerning using
employees on non-fire incidents. Currently the federal agencies don't have
legislative authority to reimburse states for the time their employees put
in non-fire incidents (like homeland or shuttle disasters). As I
it, the agreements in place only cover fires and fire-related incidents.
all states can afford to pay their employees if they are called out to a
of non-fire incidents, and this problem will get worse if there is a lot
demand for IMTs.
As far as 310-1, etc, I'd say that 310-1 and the FSH equivalent were
for wildfires (right?) so they probably wouldn't be required for non-fire
incidents. That's just my take on it, but I don't see the agencies with
non-fire assignments for IMTs requiring fire qualifications - they just
someone to handle the crisis. A person wouldn't necessarily need
S-390 training to run a group or division looking for infected chickens or
shuttle parts, would they?
San Bernardino is exactly what Ed Quillen is writing about. That, and the
trailer parks they build in Tornado Alley, and the beach front homes in
path of hurricanes, and anything along the San Andreas fault.
"Stupid zone" is too nice of a term, at times.
I dropped and chopped a dozen beetle-killed ponderosa pine on my land
(bordering USFS) in about 3 hours a few weeks ago. An even ten grand will
be good enough for my check.
||GN - those damned environmentalists again!! Where do they get off,
expecting the Federal and State agencies to follow the laws that Congress
I'm curious how many mills there were in the SBNF area, and how long ago
they were driven out of business by the "enviros"?
||Ab, Thanks for letting us use the photos for our project.
Some of the links on your Fires on the web for 2001 and
2002 don't work any more. Do you know how we might
access them? We're doing some fires on the web research
for our senior HS project in CIS class.
We hope they aren't gone forever.
Sue and Catlin
Here's a useful search site to access archives. It's called the Way
Back Machine. http://web.archive.org/collections/web.phpl
If you click on a link on the Fires 2002 page, for example, and get a 404
message that it doesn't exist, simply copy the fire url from your Subject
Line of your browser, shift to the search engine above, click on the blank
space that says "Take Me Back!" (delete the http://) and paste
the url you want. Hit return and if there is an archive, it will come up.
All kinds of useful info is accessible there, including the old R5 GACC
sites that were taken down without warning some time back. Good luck. Ab.
||On chat a couple of Fridays ago we talked about Fire Teams coming
under the direction of FEMA/Homeland Security. There was also
some discussion this Friday that some states like CA don't follow
NWCG 310-1 or FSH 1509.17.
That got me thinking. There are some good and experienced IMT people
in CDF but they don't have the NWCG 301-1 qualifications. If the CICCS
certs and quals are more rigorously enforced under HSD, I wonder how
the lack of shared training/ certification will affect state
||Thanks to environmentalists there are NO mills remaining in
Southern California. So now homeowners must pay $1000
per tree for disposal instead of selling them to a mill for a
small profit or at least no net cost (and creating jobs and
consumer products while supporting local small businesses).
Tornadoes in your neighborhood, are you OK?
||I just finished reading the linked newspaper article from
"thedesertsun" about the potential fire danger from dead trees
in the mountains near the San Bernardino National Forest. Says that Kevin
Turner from the CDF says that 4500 homes are at risk, and that there are
20,000 dead trees on private and non-Federal lands that need to be removed
at $1000 per tree.
Congressperson Mary Bono says that these trees "are NEAR federal
lands", so us taxpayers in the rest of the US should foot the bill
for the clean-up.
Is this what newspaper writer Ed Quillen from Colorado is talking about
when he writes about life in the "Stupid Zone"??
And a side message to Congressperson Mary Bono: I've got a 8-10 dead trees
on my property here in Big Sky Country; but things are cheaper here than
in California, so I 'll get them all fell and cleaned up for only $7500:
when can I expect my check??
||Well, I've been lurkin' for a while... just followin' posts. Sounds like
folks are now beginning to have some concerns over the WCT that's being
manditorily imposed, while it is still in some "development
phases", no big deal though, maybe by the time all the kinks that are
found in it get worked out, you may be unemployed, or even dead. If either
of these happens, then you may think about contracting or working for an
agency who employs on a "NEED TO FILL" basis, not a "who's
physically stronger" basis. What a sad time it is when human beings
are subjected to possibly deadly testing for a job, what crap. Check out
the NIFC IOSWT's web page and read the most current meeting minutes, as I
said before, Mr. Sharkey had concerns about the way his test that he
developed for "Those in actual line digging positions" was being
administered to everyone. Here's a couple of questions... why haven't
folks had EKG's and inexpensive Pulmonary Function testing done? Why
aren't AED's in the Federal Agency buildings yet, if they are, are people
trained and certified to use them? Why aren't there ambulances at these
WCTs? You know, I think an awful lot of you folks and I'm not tryin' to
slam anyone, I have said all along that there was something wrong, yet I
get my a** jumped by some youngster who can't sit still, yet alone
comprehend the biological changes that takes place in people as they age.
How 'bout wear and tear on one's ol' body from the years of service that
one has given? It's a very sad time that we live in now, especially for
families who've lost loved ones to this test. I still think some folks and
their agencies need to be sued, someone other than a dead person deserves
some responsibility, too. Should people really be subjected to the
possibility of losing their life while taking a test for a job to put tree
and grassfires out? I was always told that no burning land is worth a
life, if this is the case then how can taking a test for this type of job
be worth someone's life? A Civil Rights Impact Analysis was done back
during the development of the WCT in 1998, but has there been one done
since? Just an observation of NIOSH FF Fatality data, (NIOSH is supposed
to investigate and review findings when FF's are killed in a LODD, or
seriously injured), seems no incidents of Firefighters that died taking
the WCT are listed, but other incidents and causes of death to wildland
FF's are... Remember strength and speed aren't everything, the snails were
on the same ark as the cheetahs. Just Wonderin'...
||Another Ventura Co photo from Lakers on Handcrews
8 photo page. Ab.
||Hi Ab, just writing in to let you know I got hired and to thank you for
the many questions you answered and doors you opened...
Start of the fire season and everyone's toolin' up. To all those who
haven't been picked up yet, keep working at it. I called the ranger
district of my choice once every two weeks for five months and my
persistence paid off... I'm now on a type 1 handcrew. Exhaust your
resources, there are so many people willing to help you. Get as many
certs. as you can, keep your eyes and ears open and jump on prospect.
Thanks going out to Ab for the feedback and support...
If you're on this website you're on the right track!
Now the real work begins. Good luck with your career. As you say,
persistence is the name of the game. You have that in spades... mcleods
and pulaski's. Ab.
My name is James and i am enrolled in a fire science class which is a
basic firefighting training class and through that class we get red card
certified. But i have a friend who is not in my fire science class who is
wanting to become red card certified, can you please send me a list or
something with classes in the vancouver, WA area for red card
Thank you very much,
asks for help quelling fire danger
Removal of dead trees on the San Bernardino National Forest will cost
||Sad news. In a helicopter crash in the far east of Russia yesterday, we
lost 7 helo firefighting brothers, an FMO plus some Russian journalists
and officials - 12 in all.
"The Mi-26 helicopter plunged to the ground after a cable for
carrying the water container became tangled in the aircraft's rear
||Hey Ab, upper Michigan had 12 fires yesterday. More today. It is dry
Way back in the summer of 2002, I requested and received permission to use
one of Mike Holzer's photos in the Town of Paradise's Emergency Action
for Wildland Fire Evacuations. This plan has just been recognized by the
Dept. of Homeland Security and FEMA as the weekly "Smart
Press release is available at www.fema.gov/onp.
Copies of the plan are
available at our Town of Paradise website at www.townofparadise.com,
on the "Whats New" link, which will take you directly to the
Thanks again for the use of the photo,
Dennis J. Schmidt
Public Works Director/Town Engineer
Town of Paradise
Good success story, Dennis. Mike did make a nice photo (Ponil Fire,
posted on the index page for a while and on the wallpaper
page). We get lots of requests for photo use, several to many a day during
non-fire season. It is rewarding to see them show up in places that
benefit fire. Keep up the good work, all of you who are getting out the
word about being prepared. Special thanks to the photographers, too.
It's about time for a new index page photo of flames. Anybody got some
special photos to send in that feature wildland fire flames (no people)
and could simultaneously be posted on the wallpaper page? Ab.
he's sittin home warmin
signed up signed on rehired
rarin to go...
but waitin now...
pissy itchy for fire
touchy sometimes grumpy
trained and outfitted
won't be long til he's gone
outta my hair
thinkin thank goodness
still in my thoughts
thinkin i'll be missin him
his other love
||Hi Ab, my first time writing in. Hope I do this right and that you can
link to my article about Utah fire danger. tv.ksl.com
Some outside of the area may not know that Utah also has trees killed by
beetles and heavy growth of grasses. Our local news station has been
warning us about a rough season to come. The loss of the tankers is
worrisome. They are a symbol of support and help like mollysboy says
You did it right. I made your link. You can also go to the links
page under weather to check out the fire potential and fire danger
maps from WFAS and the National Drought Mitigation Center. Utah has
"extreme drought" and some areas of high fire potential, but not
high fire danger yet. NM and AZ have higher fire danger. So do the shores
of the Great Lakes where there were some dramatic marsh fires last week
that some posters called our attention to. Ab.
||I've been watching the trail surrounding the alleged wrongdoing and
coverup by Alaska Forestry on the Miller's Reach Fire (1996).
The public expects firefighters to save their homes and businesses
regardless of risk to firefighters and others. Some see fighting fire as
cookbook. I wonder if San Bernardino burns this season how many
lawsuits will come out of it.
CDF seasonals come on soon in spite of the CA budget crunch.
Are we all getting ready?
||Chat? 2000 Pacific time.
sentenced on charges related to deadly brush fire
Brady was sentenced to 12 years and 20 months for mfg methamphetamine,
conspiracy to mfg methamphetamine, and for arson with great bodily injury.
Mortensen, received a 7 year sentence for mfg methamphetamine.
Looks like CA handed down longer sentences than SD. Of course the old
SD dude wasn't making drugs, just starting fires... Too bad those acts led
to firefighter deaths.
I wonder if crispy fireline would be counted under the supplemental food
rules? Might cause a few bean counters to implode when they they to figure
||The Big Bar Fire in California a few years back provided us with a yummy
camp food story.
The camp at Denny had a BBQ pit and the cooks made fabulous BBQ all the
time, I was out there whenever possible. While the food was good on the
whole, nothing to complain about, one night it was a huge joke. It started
with a really huge pretty floral arrangement greeting us at the front of
the line. They had hay bales and plants and wildflowers arranged artfully
(after about 50 days on the fire we appreciated the effort). Everyone was
snickering when we saw the beautiful red plant in the arrangement. Yep, it
was poison oak! I pointed this out (didnt want any guys getting a rash in
fire camp). They put up a "do not touch" sign, until the safety
officer came and made them remove the poison oak.
Next was the steak dinner I was looking forward to. We were stuck out on
the line doing burn outs and were half starved. The steaks looked tasty
enough, until you tried to cut them with those wimpy plastic knife/fork or
spork! My steak flew off my plate an onto the floor. My crew man's steak
then jumps off the plate. At this point we think it is some kind of steak
escape mission going on. We look under the table for the steaks and
just start cracking up. Mixed in the bark chips are runaway steaks! So we
start counting them. In the whole dining tent we count 18 steaks on the
ground! Everyone wonders why we are looking under the tables and they look
too. It is amazing how funny this was when you are sleep deprived and
We decided to fill up on salads and bread. To finish the fun meal off - we
notice a dog that lives at the nearby helipad house come nosing into the
tent. He had a meal fit for a heli-pad dog that night! The heli-dog had
the best meal!
Red Army Wife
Some weeks ago those two Ukiah area men on trial for killing AT pilots
Lars and Larry were found not guilty. They're supposed to be sentenced on
drug manufacturing charges in Mendocino County Superior Court soon, maybe
today.. Hope the sentence is a harsh one.
We'll see if they're harder on firestarters in SD than in CA. Bets anyone?
Wildfire Debate Sweeps Through Congress
||Rayfield Wicks, the man who pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter
in connection with the death of firefighter David Martin in South Dakota
in August of 2002, received his sentence Thursday. Wicks confessed to
starting the fire that resulted in the death of the firefighter.
||Announcement: Our new foam system for tenders/ concrete mixers
We have been working on our water tender new foam system for years and
with the recent suggestion of the use of cement mixer trucks we have
finally brought our dream to fruition. We call our new system
C.A.R.C.I.T., or Compressed Air Rice Crispy In Tank system.
When we first started experimenting with Rice Crispies, we had problems
with the induction manifold/ pump bypass valve clogging (sometime's
resulting in large explosion). Now, since we have traded our tenders in
for concrete mixer trucks, the problem has been overcome because now the
Crispies are batched mix.
The fireline scenario goes something like this; a Dozer first puts in
3-pass wide line. Next, a grader, then a 10-ton vibratory compactor build
a hard surface. After that the mixer truck comes into play; a long line of
chip trucks are standing by (full of Crispies) ready to keep the mixer
supplied at all times. Additionally, a long line of oil field vacumn full
of water are on scene also. The mixer should be able to lay-out 5 chains
of line an hour. The mix should be applied 10 feet wide by 3 feet deep. We
have found that a stiff mix ""stands" better.
Fire fighters should all be issued shot guns to keep elk, bison and bears
from eating the line and thus creating a weak point where the fire could
break thru. Once the fire actually bumps the Crispie line a 10-person camp
crew should be ordered. Working with pole saws, misery whips, and machetes
the camp crew should be able to cut and package the line in plastic wrap.
A 10-person crew working around the clock should be able to produce 700
tons of Rice Crispie Treats, per 24-hour shift.
These treats could be used for sack lunch snacks, thus saving huge amounts
of money because the incident would no longer need to purchase snack food
for hungry firefighters. A long line of refridgerator trucks should be on
hand to help transport and store the Treats. If the Incident was unable to
use all the Treats on location, a Distribution Center shall be
established. The center will distribute the surplus Treats to the
Homeless, whom can use the Treats for food, packing material, shelter or
Of course, everyone involved shall attend a safety and dietary briefing
before any line construction could begin. Of course, all personnel working
near the Treat line should be issued and will ware white chefs' style
hardhats, dessert smocks and sanitary paper slippers. All firefighter
shall also carry 10 pounds (minimum) of Stay Puff Mashmallows.
Keep up the great work and we love to read They Said every day!
Kellog B. Redwood
Thanks for the update on your system Kellog. Nothing like this page for
sharing such technological advances. Ab.
Here's a photo of the Ventura County Fire Crew 1-1, Chase '01
from .............. Crew Guy Morton Salt
Dramatic fire photo, lotsa flames, flashy fuels, interesting
perspective, and the Ventura Co handcrew dig, dig, dig. We put it on Handcrews
8 photo page. Ab.
||Re: Aggressively fighting fire...safely.
When I was a brand new smokechaser I was paired up with an old geezer that
had been fighting wildfire "forever".
I was lucky. He told me he would pull hose for me and I could "do the
fun part" of putting out the fire.
So soon there I was choking on smoke and spraying water on fire.. with a
big dumb smile on my face. I loved it... and boy was I aggressive.
But after a few fires as I became more "comfortable" I was in a
plantation fire..and suddenly "no more hose"!!!! I looked back
at the "geezer" and he was standing on the it! I thought to
myself.. stupid old fart...should be paying at least enough attention to
avoid standing on the hose...
When he saw he had my attention he calmly pointed at a wind driven wall of
flaming pines that if I had just kept going would have blocked my only
I got better over the years...and eventually became the "old
geezer" pulling hose for a new guy. But like I say I was lucky...how
do you teach "fight fire aggressively... but safety first"
without the one on one with the "old guys"? It can't be done in
a classroom.. that's certain. But there sure are not enough "old
guys" to one on one tutor/apprentice all the "new guys".
And there hasn't been for quite some time now.
Could this be the reason behind the reduced aggressiveness Paul Gleason
I think it is going to take some years before the level of aggressive fire
fighting can safely rise. I vote for safety first...especially with all
the "inexperience" on the line from the hiring push of the past
To bastardize a recent war protest sign..."No Blood for Wood!"
And by the way...the new guy/old guy thing includes our sister
firefighters too. I always just considered them "just one of the
||Ab, on a lighter note...
I was wondering... a bunch of new firefighters asked me this the other day
when the comments on jerky came up...
..what is the worst thing people have ever eaten or refused to eat in fire
camp or when coyote-d out?
...what's the worst food foul-up?
...what is the best thing you've eaten? any transcendent food moments, any
"just one more time" stories relating to food...
I told them a few stories about the infamous "Blue Room"
including one on tipovers and one on how it was labeled the DIVS
"Office" as a joke... or maybe not.
I'm new to the whole firefighting thing. I live in Palmer, Alaska and I
just got my red card a couple weeks ago through the forest service. I'm
signed up for the EFF through the forest service where I got the red
card, but I think its only going to be a couple weeks worth of work
during the height of the season. I was wondering if anyone could steer
me toward any jobs in alaska, since I'm sure there's many of them. and I
could relocate and sleep in my camper pretty much anywhere but not sure
if I have the experience for any other jobs. also I applied to the
forest service doing other things such as working in the warehouse or
driving vehicles to kind of get my foot in the door, thanks for any
advice or opinions.
||Some pretty good dialogue on "FireChat" Tuesday night about
the Pack Test in light of the latest fatality in North Carolina, but only
3 folks were on-line.
Any interest in getting together about 9 PM MDT Friday night to discuss it
That's 8 pacific time. Friday... Sure, one or more of the Abs will try
to be there under some moniker or other. Haw Haw. Any suggestions for
other fire topics? Ab.
||The Jobs Page, Series
462 and Series 455
We got in some nice photos and logo from "Lakers" at Ventura
County Fire. Hmmmm... Check out their helicopters, crew and equipment on
the Heli 10,
Heli 11, Handcrew
8 and Equipment
5 pages. They sent in a logo as well, but we already have one from the
"early days" on the Logos
Also put up a patch on Logos
9 from Canada, from Todd C. from the Red Lake Fire Management
Headquarters, Ontario; and an engine from Eric on the Engines
And a nice snow photo of the Dave Rendek memorial, which I put on the Miscellaneous
2 page. Dave was the Sula Firefighter who tragically died when hit by
a falling snag on the Labor Fire, Sept. 3, 2001. Thanks for that Ben.
One of the problems we are having is defining Initial Attack. The
day I sat in on the airtanker Blue Ribbon Panel there were at least three
different versions of initial attack offered, including my own. It depends
on how long your attack time is, what you consider "substantially
augmented" resources to be, your agency's philosophy and anything
else you factor into the decision. In my view, in a strict reading of the
new airtanker use policy, once the IA forces need assistance in containing
a fire in the first three hours you would stop using airtankers. This
doesn't appear to be a practical use of the resource. I expect the IC will
have to make a decision regarding the success of the attack, the prognosis
for containment, the resources at risk, fire fighting resources available,
and the strategy selected for containment.
One of the best uses of airtankers is alter a fire's growth during the
first burning period to give ground personnel the smallest fire possible
as it transitions, or emerges, from IA into extended attack. Too many of
us forget that an aggressive extended attack, including working through
the night, has a high success rate in containing fires in the
"golden" first burning period. It would be ridiculous to stop
using airtankers on a fire in transition.
Wasting aviation resources occurs on large fires being contained by long
range indirect attack strategies, and too few resources are assigned and
utilized. If airtankers are being used to pre-treat ridges far in advance
of a fire's predicted spread someone else's small fire is being ignored.
Multiple fire situations where fiscal restrictions limit airtanker use to
a couple of loads per day and management decisions parceling out
airtankers in limited numbers so that each fire can have an airtanker
listed on their IAP is also a gross resource waste. Airtankers need to be
used on fires, and portions of large fires, where the amount of retardant
applied positively affects containment. This means assigning an adequate
number of aircraft to provide a continuous flow of retardant to meet an
objective. Fighting emerging (extended attack) fires requires about six to
twelve drops per hour, not one per hour or less.
With the concept that large helicopters will be the workhorse on fires
after the first burning period I'm sure that their availability will be
lower than previous years. More realistic coordination of resource use is
needed to make sure that aircraft assigned meet the actual need. Scarce
resources tend to be sandbagged for any number of reasons. Management will
have to be very aggressive in ferreting out actual versus perceived need.
A paradox exists in helicopter/airtanker philosophy. If fire management
plans and fiscal overseers determine that fixed wing costs are too high
for the resources protected, how does the near unlimited use of
helicopters equate on the cost/benefit equation? Fifteen airtankers cost
R5 $15 million last year. Four Type 1 helicopters cost $16 million.
Granting that the airtanker costs are undervalued, as the BRP study has
shown, this remains a very large cost spread for the number of resources.
My philosophy? Use air resources required to attempt containment in the
first burning period, don't waste time and money with a symbolic attack.
Be selective after the first burning period and make their use positive,
once your fire is too big for your resources keep some other fire small.
Stay tuned, things will change as the fire season unfolds.
I wanted to comment on the NWCG re-establishing their version of the
Original 10 Standard Fire Orders. Thanks, Its about time! While there are
some minor wording changes, the intent remains the same. As a Risk
Analysis Process, it provides all firefighters the opportunity to retain
situational awareness and thus increase safety and productiveness. In this
format, when one order cannot be covered, it leads you right back to the
beginning to start re-evaluating the situation. That is why I call it a
Before we lost Paul Gleason, he spoke of what he had noticed about
firefighting that had changed significantly and that is the lack of
aggressiveness. One facet of aggressiveness is closely tied with the
individual feeling of safety that each firefighter needs. Understanding
the fire environment and all of the dynamics of it is a career long
process, but we need to give the kids a basis for building their
understanding. The Original 10 Standards provide this basis, the rest
comes with experience.
Another facet of "lack of aggressiveness" can be directly
attributed to the lack of situational awareness. Gathering data (terrain,
weather, fuels, fire behavior, fire history, local factors, escape/safety,
adjoining resources, etc.) in the format of the 10 Standards, leads us to
decide where and when to engage/disengage a fire. The myriad of
"rules of engagement" all lead us back to the 10 Standards. LCES
also leads us back to the 10 Standards.
A year ago, our crew adopted the Original 10 Standard Fire Orders as a
basis for operating on fires. We saw the value in the process that leads
to safe, aggressive firefighting, which is what we should all be striving
for. Lets get back to the fundamentals, be aggressive, teach our kids
well, provide them solid leadership, keep them safe and return them home
at the end.
Thanks for your time,
What we have at wildlandfire.com:
comments on the original logic of the Original Intent Fire Orders from
spring, 2001 discussion.
Goodell's issue paper (pdf) on the Original Intent Fire Orders from
last year, with arrows showing the flow of the logic, engagement and
...They're permanently linked on the documents
worth reading page and site