July, 2003

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7/31 Here's some bare bones sexual harassment/discrimination info for Worried in Alaska from the personnel officer on our forest. 

Sign me 
Wanting to Help
Sexual harassment is illegal under the Civil Rights Law as a form of sex discrimination, so everyone is protected from that regardless of who they work for, whether federal, state, county, local government or private contractor. If the woman or her crew is under contract with a federal agency at any time, there are contractual clauses that cover discrimination. If she works for a state agency - if Alaska is like California and other states - there are state labor boards that have enforcement responsibilities in the areas of employee rights, including sexual harassment, consumption of alcohol on the job and racial discrimination.

Now that I have given the general textbook answer, the real world answer is that there may not be a personnel office where she can make a complaint, and going through a state agency will probably take quite some time, although a process probably exists. If there is not a second level supervisor to report the incidents to or a personnel/human resources/or civil rights person within the organization, she may face the tough choice of deciding whether or not to quit. I know it is not fair, but it's an individual decision either to fight or cut the losses and move on. Sometimes even if you win, you lose.

The other thing that comes to mind as a solution is filing a civil suit. Since the organization she works for is not federal, she does not have to follow our process. I believe that in private industry you can go directly to court. If she wants to do this, I would suggest getting advice from an attorney that specializes in EEO cases or women's rights.

Hope this is helpful...
7/31 To those dispatcher who wrote in commenting on the difficulties of getting Red Cards out on time. All I have to say is AMEN! I have gotten more grief over not getting the red cards out "on time" then anything else---other than contractors calling asking why they haven't been dispatched. All the posts were right on. To the dispatcher or others doing Red Cards, if you are not demanding all red card entries in writing...you should. If you should have an incident (God Forbid) your records will be looked at very closely, if you can't show documentation guess who's hind end will be sticking out? 


WP, I'm surprised you didn't sign that "Want Protection". Ab.
7/31 Thank you for the Engine inspection form. I really did not expect you to go to all the extra efforts for it.

Once again my failure to communicate came through, I did not mean you were whining! The whining I was thinking about was the "world is against me" or at least "my FMO". Those focused on dollars also are tiring! But oh well we sort through the blarney.

I would offer special thanks on two points, First your cutting off the second guessing related to the recent fireline deaths while the investigation is being completed. Second, advising the lady not to endure harassment! 

White Ash!

White Ash, I just had to have some fun with the whining issue, hopefully not at your expense. FYI, we aren't that thin skinned. Regarding the sexual harassment issue, readers have sent in some materials that I am sending to Worried in Alaska. As usual, there's more going on behind the scenes. Ab.
7/31 From Firescribe: Heh

Woodpecker causes wildland fire
A woodpecker stuck its beak where it didn't belong yesterday and set off a fire...
7/31 Wes,

Thanks, I'll stop by on my next trip down south. My flight instruction $$ in the early days flying helped reupholster his little plane. Smitty didn't solo me right away because he said he didn't have a spot on his insurance....When I nailed him on it he got a funny look on his face and said.. "I didn't think you'd get to this point." Ha!...Yea? Guess you jess weren't "thinkin' " then, eh? When flying, he was a solid spirit. We hit a wind sheer above Lake Isabella and did a nose dive toward the lake and he didn't blink an eye. Didn't take the controls away from me.. Just said "Hit it!" It wasn't till we got to the ground that I saw the sweat on his forehead. What a guy!

Tree Guy...you know, your comment on "Whining" caught my eye. Lucky you.

Please be careful with your terminology. I don't really think I've seen anything that amounted to "whining" on this site for about as far back as I've read. The thing is...if you're uncomfortable with the subject matter, disregard it. Labeling it as "whining" is an unacceptable attempt at disqualifying issues brought up for discussion. Just because issues are put on the table, doesn't account for the term you've chosen to use. Actually, we've been labeled "trouble makers" by the land management agencies in our area simply because we've questioned the system. In our opinion, that's no way to address problems. It's a way to keep the status quo in place, regardless of its ineffectiveness. Whining is such a weenie term anyway (Sammi's incredibly apt words). Dealing with tough subjects takes courage and ingenuity...and the tenacity to ask the hard questions and call BS when necessary.

Fire Momma
7/31 I think the Carson Shots out of Penasco NM are losing some
folks who are going back to college…might give ‘em a call. I
bet other shot crews are in similar positions.

Nerd on the Fireline
7/31 Update on Memorial Services for Randall Bonito and Jess Pearce:

Whiteriver, AZ (July 31, 2003) - A memorial service is scheduled for August 2, 2003, at 1:00 P.M., in Whiteriver, AZ to honor fallen fire fighter Randall Bonito Jr., 32, who was killed on July 26th, in a helicopter crash. The memorial service will be held at the Chief Alchesey Activity Center, located next to the high school on Falcon Way, off Arizona Highway 73. A funeral service for Randall Bonito Jr. will follow the memorial service.

Jess Pearce, 50, of Peoria, AZ, the pilot of the aircraft, was also killed in the same crash and will be honored at a memorial scheduled for 10:00 A.M., August 2nd, at the LDS Church, 22034 N. 83rd Avenue in Peoria, Arizona. Two other helitack crewmembers, Kristy Johnson, 30, of Cibecue, AZ and Floyd Walker, 37, of the Seven Mile community of Whiteriver, were injured in the crash and remain hospitalized.

The helitack crew was responding to reports of smoke in the area of Aspen Ridge, on the White Mountain Apache Reservation, when the helicopter went down.

The White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Ft. Apache Agency of the BIA offer their sincerest sympathies to the families of the deceased in this time of grief and sadness. The memorial service for Randall Bonito Jr. is open to the public, and fire fighters and others acquainted with the family are welcome to attend.
7/31 To MOC4546,
Believe me the redcards are a source of great concern to all of us. Here I
am the one who can approve the cards for my FMO. He knows that I am a
stickler for getting things right, no documentation, ie task books when
required, no such position on your redcard. I send out master records for
update the very first part of Jan. I get the info back from the district
FMO's in April, May or even June. Once that is input which can take
forever depending on how many phone calls I have to make to verify with
certs or Taskbooks the new quals, then you wait for the WCT's to come in.
Most districts here do not WCT the first day someone comes back. Yes, I
do my job and I do it well. If you are issued a redcard on this unit,
everything on it is backed with documentation.

When I was dispatching along with doing redcard input, the cards were very
slow getting out. It is not easy to do input with the phones ringing and
resource orders to be filled. I have been doing redcards since 1989, my
own included. It bothers me as much as the folks who need the cards not to
be able to get them out in a timely manner but getting the cards out is not
a priority when there are fires going on. No one comes to help with the
dispatching and other jobs. I have folks who don't even do a WCT til the
end of June or July. Yes, I could issue their cards early but as I
mentioned previously, nothing would be on that card if the WCT had expired.
Believe me that gets someone's attention when their redcard is blank
because they have not done a WCT. I agree it should not have to be this
way but until you get unit managers who think that redcards are important,
things are not going to change. In the past, I have done redcards for
folks walking out the door to a fire assignment just so they would have a
current card. The new system with ROSS makes it imperative that the
redcard input is done but on most units, the people doing the input are
also dispatching. You can't do both in a timely manner.

Again, the refresher is not the kicker in the system. The WCT is. On this
unit, WCTs are given every couple of weeks. If you came on board Monday, a
WCT might not be given until the next week. Even if you did it all the
first day, there is no guarantee that the information could be input right
away. Most folks have other jobs and some of those jobs take higher
priority than redcard input. I have had people who came from another
agency with their quals in hand. Some of those take a good half day to
enter by the time you go through all the experience, training and
taskbooks. It may sound easy from where you are sitting but go sit with
the person who inputs your redcards sometime. See how many phone calls and
interuptions they have.

I must be lucky as my manager knows that I am probably more strict that he
might be. I have well worn copies of the 310-1 and the FS 5100-9.17 close
at hand. I make lots of phone calls and demand lots of documentation. My
guys and gals are not always happy with me but their redcards will hold up
under any microscope. I am sorry that things are not so good on your unit
but you might check to see what can be done about it. I check with my
folks all the time to see what WE can do to improve the system and get the
cards in the hands of the folks who need them before the fire bell goes
off. Good luck.

Old Dispatcher
7/31 Cptn wajax was totally right on. I agree, too much junk is still making it to fires. This year we have national crews and engines getting less work than other less qualified engines and crews. Everybody wants better equipment and better crews but most agencys and dispatchers don't make an effort to utilize the better contractors. When they need equipment and crews, they take anything. How about some pictures, anybody willing to send some pictures in of the junk on fires. We should start a fund for the person who has the best photo of the biggest piece of junk on fire in the last two years.

7/31 Smitty Memorial

They have one at the Kernville Airport where he was an instructor and worked. Smitty was a person I will never forget, as when he taught us Pinch-Hitter we lined up at the end of the run way for take off and he told me to go ahead and fly. Tried to convince him that if my pilot had a heart attack on the runway I would not be trying to takeoff but he made us do it anyway. The addition of Geo-Air Operations [S370] to the FSH 5709.17 will be an ever last memorial to Smitty as far as I am concerned.

Wes Shook
Regional Aviation Training Specialist
Pacific Southwest Region
7/31 Dear Worried-just to let you know there are folks out
here pulling for you in an obviously difficult situation.

Keep your chin up-you are doing the right thing!

7/31 DD, I am a AK-DNR EFF.

Ab, Is it too late to get on a crew down there? if possible I would really love to go out on fire again, not only could I use the rush but some grocery money as well. Do you know of anyone doing last minute hiring for the rest of the season? I would really love to help out where I can,

Worried in Alaska
7/31 AB
I here a lot of talk on the Sub-Standard R-6 resources. and unfortunately a lot of it is true. Crews as well as Engines. As a " Contractor" I have always had a hard time being lumped into a group with such a low bottom end representing "us .That is why I belong to the NWSA as (in my opinion) it represents the largest amount of quality contractors. I am 20 years into private fire fighting and fuels management and have strived for a high level of professionalism and quality work during that time, As has the company that I work for. Every year I see more and more companies being formed and companies growing that should not be on a fire at all.( not to mention in business). This last year has been the worst, I have had people apply for work trained from other companies with sub-standard training ( 2 day FFT-2 school or no pack test). I have had employees quit because of promises from other companies of higher pay and more work only to want to come back ( Sorry I don't think so...) because of lack of consistent work or shady work practices or no work before or after fire season as was promised. This hurts the employee as well as the better companies that loose these people. Although I may be better off in the long run loosing people not loyal enough to stay. I have also heard of companies pack testing 3 miles down hill. I think it is just as easy to do things right than to try to skate around and do a half-assed job of it.

My point is that the Agencies have a responsibility to adhere to the contract specs witch would take care of 90% of the problems brought up on this site, There will always be people willing to do as little as possible to get the money and that is very clear here in R-6. On the other side of this issue is all the high quality companies out there doing above and beyond the norm. ( impressive even to R-5 standards) Also worth mentioning is that Sub-Standard equipment comes from ALL regions, it is just that the R-6 contract is so easy to get on that any second year firefighter could get a foot in the door as a company owner with a contract witch has lead to a boom in the amount of equipment and personnel available in R-6.

Agency Reps. and Field Managers please document the bad and the good as honestly as possible, The jobs of many career firefighters are affected by your comments and actions
And Contracting Officers please weed the lot . It needs it.

Cptnwajax R-6 R-4
7/31 A link to Northern Rockies fire behavior information:


7/31 Another memorial site for the list

In the spring of 1982, two tractor plow operators were working a fire in the
Eau Claire County Forest when a wind switch & increase made attack unsafe.
The lead tractor/plow operator turned back and directed Don Eisberner the
second tractor/plow operator to follow. For some reason this did not happen
and Don Eisberner perished in the fire. A memorial is located near the
site at the junction of Channey Road and Canoe Landing Road in Eau Claire
County Wisconsin. Latitude 44deg 44.473, Longitude 90deg 58.814. The actual
fatality site is a few hundred yards south west of the memorial but I do not
believe there is any marker there. When and if I get a picture I will send
it in.


I have some more as well, but am trying to get photos done before I put up the posts. Ab.
7/31 RE: MOC4546 who said recently, " The refresher course for a returning or permanent firefighter can be accomplished in one-day, the certs handed out and submitted the next day, and the cards issued the day after".

In a perfect fire world, this might be possible. However. . .in my world, it is not only impossible, but a wildly imaginative and uninformed statement. Let me explain.

First, consider your unit very lucky to even have a "fire clerk". Our forest has been trying for over 3 years now to create, outreach, and hire one of them for each district. Last I heard the positions were nearing selection, too late for this year, but should be able to help with redcards next year.

It is very common in my area to have the redcards for permanent employees maintained and updated in the dispatch office (the subunits maintain and update the temporary employees). This year we distributed the master redcard documentation to the divisions on each subunit a month earlier than in past years in an effort to get ahead of the game. We set a return due date of 6 weeks to allow enough time for the units to update them. We received one unit's updates within the due date (and a darn fine job it was). One unit's was a week late, another was a month late. The last unit's records were returned to them (garbage in/garbage out) with more explicit instructions as to what was needed. Another two weeks elapsed until the records were returned with the necessary updates.

Since we tried to get the majority of them done early, there were still many training classes producing more employees needing updates for their new OJT positions. At the same time there were many overhead going and coming from the shuttle, chicken, volcano, and other early season incidents who had completed trainee assignments and needed new redcards.

What the heck, a firefighter returns from an assignment/training, gives the taskbook to their supervisor, contact the training officer, get a group advisory panel vote, have the FMO sign off on the new position, get it to the dispatcher responsible for redcard updates, input and print, do it in one day. Sounds good, but imagine. . .

The employee's supervisor is on annual leave, the training officer is at a week long meeting, the FMO is on a Type 1 team assignment, the dispatcher primarily responsible for redcards is on family emergency leave, there is an arsonist running around your district and there have been 30 lightning fires on forest over the last 7 days. You want it when?????

Let's not forget the new MEL hiring with 15-20 new permanent employees each year. The redcard history files must be obtained from the sending unit. Maybe they can't find them, maybe they have to be recreated, then totally updated in the redcard program. Maybe the sending unit is already in fire season or is handling another large all risk emergency. Uh, oh, we just lost four employees to other areas with the last round of hiring, better hurry up and get the redcard data to their new dispatch center.

It can take a half a day to enter a permanent employees full history in the redcard program. Might be done in less time if the phone would quit ringing and the radio traffic would would stop interrupting. Ooops, must pause, there goes the phone again, "whats the override code from the fire I just got back from?" Jeez, let me stop what I'm doing and look that up for you. Wasn't it on the resource order we sent with you? That information is available on the web site, let me give you the url again. Hey, stop buggin me, don't you know I"m trying to get MOC's redcard done in here?

No offense MOC, but there is a much larger perspective and innumerable reasons why you may not be able to get your redcard done in one day, these are just a few. At least they exist in my world, which isn't perfect. But we do keep trying.

7/31 Let's level the playing field. enforce the specifications of the
contracts, and look at the evaluations.

7/31 Ab,

Are there any aviation folks out there who knew Mike "Smitty" Smith from the Seqouia N.F.? He was killed a few years ago in a air to air accident in So. Cal. flying a lead plane. He was my flight instructor, and I'd sure like to know if there is a memorial somewhere in his name.

Fire Momma
7/31 Worried, are you state or private EFF?

7/31 I might have one.

I found my manual from a past fire season, I don;t think its current but
pretty close to the new version, I'm going to find out the outcome of my
conversation with the FMO, I still want to go out on fire but not with that
crew boss. I still don't know if thats possible. If nothing happens to this
turkey I'm going to make sure it does. I'll keep you posted

Worried in Alaska

Please let us know. Ab.
7/30 With all the discussion related to contractors and the R-6 Engine requirements it would be of value to at least link in the information. The National Mobe Guide has rather minimal requirements so one wonders what the issues are in the NW.

Also my thanks for all the extra effort put into this site! With the exception of the whining I find it most useful.

Tree guy <more or less> HAW

Given the inundation of e-mails asking for the Interagency Engine Inspection Requirements, I tried various things and an hour later settled on pdf. You say, "it would be of value to at least link in the information." The whole point is that there is no link until I make the thing for us to link to (an no, I'm not whining) and, yes, I do make pages to link to all the time. Thing is, this form has tables that are just too much work to code and it's too late at night... AND, They don't pay me enuf to do this stuff. (hint hint)

So here's the link to the Engine Inspection stuff in pdf something like 200K.

And you'd better not write in and say "Oh, we knew all that after all". or "What's the BIG deal???"

sign me, Not the Original (You should hear him WHINE during fire season.) Ab. <haw>
7/30 Ab,

We are an EFF crew the only training we got was the pack test and
the refresher course. I don't know about a manual.

Worried in Alaska
7/30 Ab,

After the incident that same day I called the FMO, and told him
everything that happened. I was told it wasn't the first time someone
has complained about him <the squad boss>. I asked him <the FMO>
what he was going to do, he told me if he's bothering you at home and
at work he's probably going to try something out on the fire line, he also
told me he was going to pull his red card. I don't know if it actually
happened, I know the fireline will be safer if it did.

PS. I am still worried about my position on the crew.

Worried in Alaska

Worried, do you have a manual on sexual harassment? Has your crew had training? Ab.
7/30 Dear Abs:
Congressman Richard Pombo has introduced H. R. - 2963 (pdf file) in the House of Representatives. The Bill has 10 co-sponsors to start. Please post this on "THEY SAID".

We need Wildland Firefighters to write or e-mail their Congressional Representative and seek their support. FWFSA will contact the Representatives we met in Washington DC during the IAFF Lobby week, seek their support. We need "Grassroots" contact by Firefighters, Family and friends. Portal to Portal will start one pay period after the enactment of the Bill. The 108th second session starts the first week of September. So........ We ask folks to let Congress hear the voices of Wildland Firefighters, WRITE or CALL your Congressional Representative.

Mike Preasmeyer
President - FWFSA

Good work by FWFSA. Ab.
7/30 Reference unqualified R6 resources

Yes, this has pretty much gotten to be an epidemic. It is not uncommon to have bad engines hoisted from division to division in an effort to get them out from under some DIVS who sees how badly they are doing. It is pretty rare they ever get sent off the fire, though.

Unfortunately, this problem is also common with fire district engines in both states as well. In the past few seasons I've had engines show up with the crews in bunkers and jeans; with no fire shelters; with no 1 1/2" hose; and even with no hose except a booster reel.

What makes that worse has been that some of those fire district engines had crews on portal-to-portal pay. One result of that has been a shift to increase the use of contract engines, even in structure protection situations. I have worked with contract engines that are equipped and trained for structure protection, but they were the exception, and they usually advertised their services accordingly. Most contract engines (in R6 at least) have no business in a structure protection environment.

Unlike in R5, it is already rare to get Type 1, 2 or 3 engines on a structure protection assignment. Most resources that I have assigned to me on these assignments have been type 6 engines.

This problem is cascading. Now, some of the fire districts are withdrawing their resources because they are not getting called up. In some cases, fire districts are reducing their engines. This, along with the recent reductions in State resources in the region means that there is a significant decrease in local protection.

Until the region gets off its fanny and starts asking for quality, and starts assigning resources based on their capabilities, the problem is only going to get worse.

7/30 To Old Dispatcher,

In reply to the Red Card delays, most your information is correct. If you are one of the ones who inputs the data, prints the cards, and stands over the FMO with a baseball bat to insure that the cards are signed, then God Bless You!! You are doing your job.

Permanent Firefighters have no excuse not to have their most current Red Card Info ready to go before the season, and returning Seasonal Firefighters should have their info ready to go for processing either before or when they start with the hiring agency. I understand that there are updates and verifications that need to be done.

Perhaps in your area your forest/district/park/reservation is diligent in getting that document ready to go. I based my opinion on the expectation that what happens here is what happens in most areas. The comment I made regarding the Red Card system is what I have experienced from 1991 to today. I work in the federal system and still get redcarded. My fire information and updates are turned in to the FMO clerk in April and regularly do not get processed and cards issued until July-August, or until an assignment comes along and they copy last year's card without the updates other than the basic ones.

Yes, this process takes time. Yes, this process is dependant on record keeping, updates on fires, assignment books, training classes, and other things. Does delaying issuing of the red card affect response ability? Absolutely. Should it have to be this way? Absolutely NOT!!!

The refresher course for a returning or permanent firefighter can be accomplished in one-day, the certs handed out and submitted the next day, and the cards issued the day after. New firefighters have to go through 110/130/190 even if they have it from somewhere else.

I have talked with the fire clerks over time. The answer is the same in most places: "We have to wait until the FMO looks over the red card info before we print the cards, and we can't issue them until he signs them." Most of the time its not the clerk's fault, but the FMOs.

I have been a Fed Firefighter since the late 1980's, and even with all the new requirements for FS/BLM/NPS/USF&W red card issuance it still takes too long to get the cards issued.

I'm sure you, Old Dispatcher, have done the things you need to do to get your red cards issued. But it is not happening uniformally.


So you gonna ride your FMO? Ab.
7/30 AB:

Need to pass on to the wildland fire community the untimely passing of
Pat Cooney on 7/30; losing the battle with cancer. Pat, a long time Forest
Service fireman retired from the Angeles National Forest and was currently
the Deputy Director, Fire and Rescue, California Office of Emergency
Services. The fire service will miss his leadership, his training ability, his
"Irish wit" but most of all, his dedication and friendship to all, from Chiefs
to the "drag Mcleods" in the wildland community.

God speed, Patrick! Our prayers are with Terri, his wife, and kids Mike
and Colleen.

Arrangements are still pending, but will pass along when finalize. Same
with address for cards.


Sorry to hear that. Please do pass along information. Ab.
7/30 Worried.....

#1 you need to get a calendar and make notes on the dates he has made remarks or gestures that were uncomfortable for you. Also, keep a journal writing dates and times and quotes of what was said.

Any witnesses? Keep track. If you do decide later to do something formal about this jerk you will definitely need documentation. You need to make your documentation in a spiral type note book. Not the 3ring kind. It has to be one you cannot add pages to later.

Is this the person that would be in charge of your crew if you went out? #1 question will be,,,,if you were afraid of him why did you go back out with him.....If you want to take this private I am ok with that.....


The crew hasn't been back out yet. Ab.
7/30 Dear Worried-

Remember sexual harassment training? Get your manual out,
reread it, and follow the process it gives you. You should have
a contact in Human Resources who can help you with the situation.
Above all, document everything: places, times, comments/actions,
and possible witnesses.

Good luck.
7/30 Reply to Nerd on the Fireline Taos Encebado Fire

Though I appreciate the comment on "my" air show, thanks is more appropriate
to Air Attacks Lorene Guffey and Gary Helsel, and the lead aircraft,
helicopter, and tanker pilots who did such a good job. They're the ones
doing the hard work - I'm just a "juice-suckin' Air Ops" who sits in his
lawn chair all day (grin).

It's pretty rare that I walk away from a fire with the strong feeling that
we did some good out there with the air show and that the $$$ were
well-spent, but Encebado was one of those times.

7/30 For Rocky Mountain


7/30 Hugh Carson;

I was sitting on Spider Road with an engine the first night and second day of Encebado, and on-and-off after that…a bunch of my very good friends were on the saw team back up Taos Canyon. Your airshow kept my life (and theirs) from getting very interesting very fast. Thanks.

If you haven’t seen them already, check the pics I sent Ab of the Ericksson Skycrane and the DC-4 that got peeled off to slam a little roadside fire northeast of Taos that started running on us.

Nerd on the Fireline

Did I post those? If not, they probably went down when my computer crashed last week. If so, please resend. Ab.
7/30 Dear Ab/s could you post this:

I am trying to find out if anyone has the website for the company
that was making the Columbia Shuttle Recovery T-Shirts that were
sold at the Palestine Branch.

Rocky Mountain
7/30 Region 6 contract specs for Engine Tender Agreements

Here's the Engine Inspection form (shows minimum requirements) we as region 6 contractors must adhere to if we wish to obtain an Emergency Equipment Rental Agreement for the season, and be able to be dispatched on fires. We also have to provide proof of compliance with 310-1 for qualifications certification (although I know there has been troubles with some bad contractors faking certifications in the past). If anybody out there gets in a contract engine that doesn't meet the "Required Standards" as set forth in the agreement (which every Engine Boss should have a copy of in their briefcase when arriving at the incident), then by all means please send those engines home, and do all you can to inform both the dispatching home unit, and the regional center in Portland of the lack of compliance.

It's hard enough to try to stay competitive and provide quality equipment and services, in this line of work when you're competing with bids against the reputable contractors, without us having to try to compete with "Joe Local" that just grabbed a tank that's been laying out in his field for 20 years, and threw it together at the last minute with a $200 used sump pump, and calls it an engine. I can't speak for all R-6 contractors, but I do know and have met a lot of other contractors here in Oregon, (most of those are also NWSA Members) that all share the same concerns as those agency people in other regions have expressed in here, but until Portland gets serious about enforcing the requirements, even on the small local fires, it's difficult for legitimate companies to validate spending upwards of $70,000/engine (with no "guarantee" of financial return) to set up what we all want to see on fires. A lot of contractors are still doing it even though their equipment may be near the last called to go to work, because they rightfully feel that piece of equipment that far exceeds the minimum standards when added to the extra training and experience of their engine bosses justifies asking for a little higher rate than the guys that just became a firefighter/engine boss/contractor last week are charging.


I'm not going to code the attachment at this time. If you want to see it, e-mail and I'll send it. Ab.
7/30 Ab,

I have to agree with Norcal Tom, unqualified and under equipped contract engines continue to come into Regions 4 and 5 from Oregon and Washington states. It appears that these states' Federal inspectors don't follow the NWCG guidelines for engines and crews. Additional under-qualified contract equipment is also being signed-up by the Central Nevada Winnemucca BLM center. Last week we worked with several contractors from that part of Nevada that were very sub-standard. Two so-called engines from there had only 5-horsepower low-pressure trash pumps with non-baffled tanks, no hose reels and these engines could only carry 100 gallons of water so as not to over-load their trucks! We have strived to raise the standards of vendor owned equipment and crews but if this sub-standard equipment is allowed to continue to operate, it makes the whole private sector look bad.

A National standard for contract equipment needs to be adhered to, if Joe Local can't qualify, don't sign them up. If you are a Ground Support Leader type, demob this junk and document the action.

Deep Woods
7/30 Firehorse wrote:

We had some problems with contractors in '94 that continued to show up at each fire the team had that year because we failed to document poor equipment/performance. Once we got our act together, they never made another fire....Even when they went to the politicians because we were "Picking" on them, our documentation stood the test. "Document, document, document". You folks on the fires have to hold the contractors to the contract and not cut them any slack. Believe me when I say this is what the good contractors want also!

FireMomma wrote:

There were fallers who were demobbed for various reasons last year on the Biscuit West, only to show up the next day on the Biscuit East. All they had to do was walk-in and say they were available and (this is key) say they'd just been demobbed from another fire. The reason this trick works is because the purchasing person then "assumes" the folks on the other incident did their job right and consider the contractor standing in front of them a valuable resource. (This isn't a discussion on firechasing...that's WHOLE different, complicated subject...bottom line...we don't fire chase...but we also sit waiting for assignments longer than those who do...yes...still).

Some of the "violations" included "getting intentionally lost" on the fire (thereby not having to work). You know...big fire...not enough faller bosses. Who's gonna know? Here's a good one...how about shoving and threatening your falling boss?

Yes, the "good contractors" certainly want their competitors held to the same standards they are. (I also second FireMom's suggestion you check out www.nwsa.net.) But I will also say, Firehorse, the "safety" and "quality" issue extends beyond the contractor's realm as well. We are concerned about the experience level of some of the agency falling bosses overseeing hazard tree felling operations on fires. There needs to be internal agency quality control in this area. Individuals who do not have experience working around a logging operation, or with commercial fallers don't have the same understanding as say, an agency person who has been a sale administrator. That administrator has a more accurate understanding of what can and can't be done. Also, what should or shouldn't be done. We are getting our senior fallers moving through the SRB FelB qualification path to address this concern....Just some thoughts on quality and safety.

Helicopter pilot Randall Harmon's memorial was held yesterday in Grants Pass, Oregon. He is the Superior Helicopter pilot who died in Washington. He's being laid to rest in Lakeview Thursday.

Fire Momma

7/30 I was recently the Air Ops Director on the Encebado Fire a mile from Taos Pueblo. We had 11 helicopters (5 of which were Type 1) as well as a Portable Helicopter Base right at the base of the fire. I ordered the 5 Type 1 helicopters and the PHB based upon the national and regional emphasis on maintaining large fixed-wing airtankers for initial attack.

That policy is all well and good but a lot of folks seem to be ignoring the fact that on large fires there are times and situations (for example, on the ridge overlooking Taos Canyon, or as it was heading toward Taos Pueblo 3 days in a row) where lots of retardant line needs to be built quickly - to say nothing of hot-spotting - in order to support the ground crews who were working building hand and dozer line along the ridge above Taos Canyon and near the Pueblo.

Type 1 Helicopters, as good as they are (and they did an absolutely outstanding job) are not necessarily the best tool for this type of job and this situation. Fortunately the R-3 MAC and SWICC recognized this need, and were very supportive in furnishing large airtankers when we needed them. Rumor has it, though, that R-3 USFS is taking heat from higher up for their relatively limited use of fixed-wing tankers this season. That indicates to me a failure to recognize the age-old saying "the right tool at the right time in the right situation." It might behoove those folks to get out in the (real) field (not on quickie jaunts around the region during fire busts) and spend a day in the life of an Air Ops, or a day in the life of my boss the Ops Chief, or better yet, in the airplane for 4 hours with the Air Attack, on one of these rip-roarers on the urban interface.

If that were to happen, we might see a more measured and realistic approach to the airtanker issue. It's time the USFS and other wildfire agencies bit the bullet, and stopped trying to get along on a (relatively) shoestring budget (for which they were severely criticized by the independent Blue ribbon Panel Report that looked into the management and operations of the airtanker fleet.)

In short, management needs to advocate to Congress that an airtanker specifically designed to drop retardant at low level in high density altitudes in steep terrain be funded and built. And let's not play any games while we're at it by trying to task the military to do fixed-wing retardant job when there are a couple of hundred commercial airtanker pilots with more than enough skill and training to do it.

P.S. Nothing against the fine folks that fly the MAFFS, but the day I need to build two miles of retardant line supporting handline along a ridge above a major town or city and am told to use MAFFS because commercial ATs are being held sitting on the ground awaiting IA is the day I order 3-4 times as many Type 1 Helicopters to do that job. Expensive? Yes. The right tool for the job? No. Catch-22.

Hugh Carson
7/30 Been dig'n for sometime and have found these two links for "Unable to Fill". One Southern Region and one for Eastern Great Basin. Southern area is not as active as the Great Basin and neither is updated daily.

Did have a couple of others, but links have been removed. Maybe others can fill in some blanks.

www.southernregion.fs.fed.us/sacc/Unable%20to%20Fill%20List/UnabletoFillweb.pdf pdf file

Thanks Hickman. Ab.
7/30 Greetings all,

The August issue of "Smithsonian" magazine has an interesting article about

U.S. officials are clashing with environmentalists over how
best to reduce the risk of catastrophic blazes


7/30 Ab,

Ever since I came back from the Sand Creek incident in Delta, my squad boss has not left me alone, he keeps asking me out and I keep turning him down. Today he came into my place of business drunk asked me out again and told me if I didn't I wouldn't be going out on the next fire. He also said he didn't want to integrate his crew (99% native alaskan except for myself) he continued to say things like "I have 2 beaytiful native women to take your place." I don't know about you but that sounds to me like discrimination. Also while we were on the fire line I could smell alcohol on some of the guys .

worried in Alaska

Sounds like more than discrimination, sounds more like harassment. Did you report it to his supervisor or take any other steps? Ab.

News Release
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Ft. Apache Agency

For more information contact: Incident Information at 928-338-1466

Whiteriver, AZ (July 29, 2003) – Memorial funds have been established for the firefighter and pilot who died in Saturday’s tragic helicopter crash on the White Mountain Apache Reservation near Whiteriver, Arizona.

Helitack crewmember Randall Bonito, Jr., 32, leaves behind a wife and two sons. Pilot Jess Pearce, 50, whose wife died 18 months ago, leaves behind two daughters.

The 100 Club has established accounts for the Bonito and Pearce families. Those wishing to make donations can do so through the Arizona Federal Credit Union (either online or at any branch). Checks can be mailed to the 100 Club, 5151 N. 19th Ave., Suite 204, Phoenix AZ 85015. Please indicate which account the donation should be directed to.

Randall Bonito, Jr. – Account 468905
Jess Pearce – Account 468906

7/29 Ab requested this information from a contributor with access to fire stats. Thanks SoCal CDF.

The Farewell fire is part of the Fawn Peak Complex, located 13 miles NW of Winthrop, WA.

Yesterday at 5PM the fire was 69,962 acres
Today it's 70,296 acres.

Fuels/Materials Involved: 10 Timber (litter and understory)
FUEL MODELS 8 AND 10. Heavy timber and Sub Alpine-Fir, standing and down red and dead timber.

Today's observed fire behavior:
Sustained crowning runs in heavy fuels on multiple fire fronts in the north and northwest portions of the fire.

Significant events today:
Significant fire activity today to the north. The fire has spread into the Ashnola drainage and Andrews Pass area. All helicopters are being utilized in containment and suppression operations. A portable dip site is now operational in Canada and supporting helicopter operations.

Zone 1 is being managed by WA IMT 5 (Furlong/Gormley). Zone 2 is being managed by PNW IMT 3 (Anderson).
Total Personnel Zone 1: 357
Total Personnel Zone 2: 829
Total = 1,186

7/29 The Farewell fire blewup "big time" this after noon, no details
yet. Column was estimated at 40 to 50 thousand feet, visible
as far away as Seattle. Dispatch centers around the state had
the phone ringing off the hook for about an hour.

7/29 Hi Ab,

Can anyone document the people who were killed by the bear in "misc 2" photos? What a huge animal!

There are big black bears even here in southern California - some are estimated to be over 600 pounds by California Fish and Game. A friend of mine was rock climbing in the "Needles" area north of Lake Isabella, CA two weeks ago and had a big bear going through camp. Bear safety is always something to look out for, even in fire camps.

I was on the Ackerson Complex near Yosemite as a Logistics Receiving and Distribution Manager back in 1996. I wondered, "what the heck is a request for a wrist rocket slingshot for, and who needs pepper spray." It turned out there was a pesky bear that kept hanging around that needed discouragement.

I don't think I'd care to sting the hindquarters of a brownie like the one in the picture with a pea-sized rock.


TDB, that's a grizzly. There was more discussion on theysaid. Ok, Ab just found it. Take a look at the discussion on the archives for June, on 6/18. This story is an urban legend, but kinda true.
7/29 Mollysboy,

I'll go with ya!!!! If you could get me some more info on who's putting crews together to go over there, I would love to go and help out.

7/29 We ain't in this alone!

The news tonite tells of 4 folks dying in France from fires in the hills above the French Riviera. 30 arson-caused fires caused lots of problems, including the damage or destruction of 60 homes, and 21000 acres burned; nearly 20,000 people were evacuated. Last week, another fire in the same area burned 24,710 acres. President Jacques Chirac promised that "the guilty will be sought out with extreme vigor" and "sanctions will be of an extraordinary severity."

Anybody not committed to US or Canadian fires interested in going to the Riviera to help out??

7/29 Time to speak up on the contractor issue.

Prior to retirement I was heavily involved with contractors in every facet of suppression. From preseason inspection to the fireline arena. The only way I have found that poor contractors make it to the fire is when the agencies do not do their job! When contractors are passed on inspections or not kicked off a fire with a poor performance rating following them home, it is the agencies fault. We had some problems with contractors in '94 that continued to show up at each fire the team had that year because we failed to document poor equipment/performance. Once we got our act together, they never made another fire. Even when they went to the politicians because we were "Picking" on them, our documentation stood the test. "Document, document, document". You folks on the fires have to hold the contractors to the contract and not cut them any slack. Believe me when I say this is what the good contractors want also!

The cream will rise to the top and the poor performers will drop by the wayside. But; only if you do your job. Over the years I have seen some contractors that were every bit as good as the agency folks. Alot of you don't want to hear that but the truth hurts sometimes. (Remember, alot of the contractors are ex-agency folks.)

As far as false documentation, don't have an answer for that one. We all knew that was going to happen at some point. Let's just pray it does not get anyone killed. (Too many of those already this year!)

7/29 Just thought I'd pass this on. Here is the website for the Robert
Fire in Montana which has forced evacuations and is burning into
Glacier National Park.



Thanks, we haven't completely updated the fires 2003 page. Ab.
7/29 Is there a place on the web to see what resources are being requested??? We're hearing that there are many orders not being filled, yet none of our overhead people have been sent out.

7/29 Better Link to Memorial Page for National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, MD.



7/29 NorCal Tom,

Not sure if your inclusion of me in your comments to Fire Momma was a
compliment or not.....But I'm gonna take it that way. Lucky for you.

7/29 What this all about?

Revised: 4/19/2002


Fire fighters are exposed on a daily basis to stress, smoke, heat, and various toxic substances. As a result, fire fighters are far more likely to contract heart disease, lung disease and cancer than other workers. And as fire fighters increasingly assume the role of the nation’s leading providers of emergency medical services, they are also exposed to infectious diseases. Heart disease, lung disease, cancer and infectious disease are now among the leading causes of death and disability for fire fighters, and numerous studies have found that these illnesses are occupational hazards of fire fighting.

In recognition of this linkage, many states have enacted “presumptive disability” laws, which state that a cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and infectious diseases are presumed to be job related for purposes of workers compensation and disability retirement unless the fire fighter’s employer can prove otherwise. No such law covers fire fighters employed by the federal government.

put out by the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO, CLC
7/29 Ahh now, NorCalTom,

At one time I was a very nice woman. But, being nice goes about as far as I can spit when it comes to these issues. And though I can climb big tree and shoot extremely straight with my rifle, I never learned to spit well. But, don't feel bad, you're not the first to call me a PitBull.

Still, rather than personality descriptors, I'd much prefer to stick to the point....safety and how to attain it. Fair enough?

Also, I've received quite a few inquiries from California fallers. There are some excellent people, and then...well...let's just say "substandard contract resources" are not an Oregon-specific problem. The issue remains, there is no system in place to accurately assess the background and qualifications of contract fallers. So, guess there in lies the challenge, eh?

Fire Momma
7/29 LCES has been stressed many a time, I have to say it again with new

We need extreme vigilance especially when we decide to go after
a fire under extreme fire weather episodes. Need to rethink LCES
- not just having one escape route or safety zone - but multiple options.
My thought is: make sure you can get out if you go in. If you don't have
more than one visible escape route or safety zone - carefully think about
the potential effects that could occur under severe fire weather conditions
in areas of severely dry fuels - and limited options for ingress and

Be Safe,

Hear, hear. Ab.
7/29 Good news. I got to reading the USFS Accident Investigation Guide (interesting) and have had a number of requests for it, so I posted it to our wildlandfire.com. Thanks for sending it Hugh.

It's really large - a 3200 K pdf, in Adobe Acrobat, 102 pages. You can link to it from the docs worth reading page and the site map if you want to find it later. If you have trouble downloading it, try doing it at 0200 or 0300 hrs when internet traffic is low.

I updated the Jobs Page as well as the Series 462 and Series 455 pages.

7/29 Hey Ab!

Here is the latest website for the Washington State Fawn Complex that has the Farewell fire in it.



Thanks for that. Added it to the Fires 2003 list. Ab.
7/29 Now I see why they gave you the name Fire Momma. Maybe it should have been Fire PitBull with a chainsaw in her back pocket for the really recalcitrant combatants...

Re the checkpoints. Naw not like the checkpoints for the fruits... and veggies, more like ... Well, lets put it this way. I'd prefer having ...god... checking the quals of those contract crews, seeing through whatever the possible shil-sham, and then passing the good ones on to dispatch. But if I can't have that, I kind of imagined a St Peter figure at the border (images of Rio de Genero, was that St Peter? maybe not, but towering and larger than life) anyway, playing the same role he does at the pearly gates and letting them through or not. Hmmm, kind of sounds like a R5 vision, doesn' tit? Oh well, you could say I have R5 standards.

When FirenWater retires we could put her up there. She and Fire PitBull Momma are reformed from the same mold with the same eye to safety (and a similar chainsaw in their back pockets for them what don't measure up).

Now Fire Momma see what you've done to this professssssional theysaid site???

NorCal Tom
7/29 NorCalTom

A California checkpoint? Kinda like the one where they ask you if you have any fruit? ; ) You knooooow how effective that one is.

In our mind, dealing with quality and professionalism should take place BEFORE private contractors are issued contracts. But, as you remember from my tirade before, there is much "to do" about the "resource demands" of administering this kind of quality control by agency contracting staff. I realize this level of interception takes a significant up front commitment in time and financial resources... both by contractors and agencies. I've even heard the "supply and demand" argument from the agency side... "Well, we have so many of you (fallers), if we come across a bad one, we just get rid of them."

Whaaaat? What does that say about the quality of contract fallers you fire managers are getting when you order private contract resources?

On the ground, the issue of safety doesn't come in the form of "numbers" but in ability and wisdom. That's why I like to see old fallers knocking on my door. They're old because they're alive. They're alive because they're either really good or damn lucky. Then I send my fallers out in the field with some young buck who's making the SAME wage rate. The experienced fallers are quickly identified and for the most part are asked to do the more dangerous, technical falling. As we talk to the fire managers, they think developing regional contracts is a sound way to distinguish quality. It's also a way to give these fallers the higher wage rate they deserve.

Jason, I'm still fuming about your response...you'd just kick them off the fire? Sir, I dare say you'd feel so fortunate to have a faller who actually knew what they were doing, that's most likely the last thing you would REALLY do. Do you bring rocks to throw at the tree in times like that...or perhaps explosives? I've seen that too. By golly...I'd also like to see you stand side by side with that faller and assist him through that scenario. You know what the BIA crew did? Point and run. Literally.

I need to go take a walk.

The Umpqua - the Kelfay Fire is on the border of the Willamette and the Umpqua. When I sent fallers last evening it was approximately 400 acres. Don't have a report of the kind of fuel its burning in.

Fire Momma

You know, I'm back from my walk and I read back over stuff...again...(yes, with three phones and a pager beside me) and I realize I'm using way more words than necessary...

Falling hazard trees on fires in dangerous work. It is made even more dangerous by those who mistakenly think they have the ability to do the job. The increased danger compromises the already slim safety corridor hazard tree fallers work in when they have to finish someone else's hack job.

Instead of haggling over where they should have put the wedges, or whether or not jacks should have come into play, what fire managers need to do is look into the eyes (I've found this an incredibly effective communication tool) of the contracting officers on your regions and say you want faller background and skill verification completed before the faller is sent to you to work on your firefighting team. (Ab's bold) Demand it. Because what we're hearing from the CO agency folks is that "there really isn't a problem here."

After a glass of oatmeal stout I lay my head on the table and think..."Do these people actually talk to one another?"

Oh yea, I did come up with a way to take down that tree, Jason...(You know, the five foot Doug Fir with "holding" wood fiber the size of a man's thigh??) Let's bring in that helicopter and let the prop wash flip it to the ground. No? Too expensive? Too dangerous? Too sloppy?

Here's something better...let an experienced faller take it down right the first time.

My source says Fuels: 8 - closed timber litter - hemlock, lodgepole pine, grouse, huckleberry. Ab.
7/29 From Firescribe:

AZ Helicopter crash victims identified

NTSB begins WA helicopter crash investigation

Be safe.
7/29 Ab,

I worked on the Salmon-Challis National forest up until the 15th of June and help teach several courses in May. I had one of the fallen in one of my classes. I did not know him well, but his death has had more of an effect on me than previous firefighter deaths. Perhaps it is because they were on the same forest as me, or because I had a hand in his training. I am sure that after the investigation, there will be plenty of blame to go around, but those two are still dead. We will see the same lessons taught there as were taught on previous fatalities, the agencies will impose more rules to protect us, and we will have more fatalities in the future.

At this point, I do not believe that the FS or any other agency can do any more than what is already being done, but I do think that we as individual firefighters can do more to pass the trade on to the younger ones. That means possibly getting more involved with fire schools, teaching other courses, and really making the annual refresher relevant to the location you are in.

My prayers are with the family of the fallen and with the Indianola Helitack

7/29 Norcal Tom:

As a member of one of the largest private sector Associations in the US, I am too concerned that you get some good and some not so good. We are just as flustrated with the Pacific NW system as you are. In their rush to provide the cheapest, closest resource and with only one typing on the contracts, even the dispatchers have no choice but to send cheapest closest and they don't know the quality. Under this contract anyone can bid and if they meet basic minimums they can get a contract. All we can hope is that you the people on the ground WILL send them home if they don't meet requirements or your needs. That is the only way to police the contract. If the agency people keep letting them stay on the line and work, the private sector industry will continue to spiral. And keep in mind not because those of us in the industry to see it as an industry don't care, we do and we have fought long and hard for the agencies to beef up the contract, compliance and training in the field for agency personnel on use of the contract. We are not against you, we want to work as a cooperator with you, but at this time you hold the key to making it work for both of us.

If you want to visit our website and see what the industry is trying to do for itself and you, visit us at www.nwsa.net.


There's a link on the Classifieds page as well for the National Wildfire Suppression Association. Ab.
7/29 Jason,

I've asked Ab to forward you my contact information. I'd be happy to talk to you further about the situation and the jacks and certainly would like to see what you would have done...after the fact...which is certainly when all the coffee table cowboys have all the answers.

Fire Momma
7/29 Please see the attached 72-hour final report on the Cramer fire fatalities.

The Safety Report people.

I posted this yesterday but am moving it forward so people don't miss it. I considered cutting and pasting it into theysaid, but it is a bit long, so here's the link again. Ab.
7/29 Gordon,

For clarification, we didn't have the problem with a faller crew but
with some private engine crews. And Fire Momma, I'm glad you
reread my post. We do have good contract crews that come to
NorCal, but we're also getting some not-so-good. Why is that?
The Oregon people need to be more vigilant in who they send.
Maybe we need a checkpoint at the CA border to catch the unfit
early on and turn them toward home.

My two cents worth. More like a buck...

NorCal Tom
7/29 Foxfire,,,,,,sorry if my message was mis-leading. We all agree bottom line....Ff safety is a personal issue and responsibility and if they choose to do the task assigned realizing how dangerous it is then they are to blame. But "also" to blame is the leader of these young inexperienced people.

Apparently in trying to disguise our location and identity I did not make myself clear. It was not particularity my sons that chose to do the assignments when the "leaving the shelters and the fire balls issue came up". As far as I am concerned it doesn't matter if it is my son or yours, they need a lot of good experience and good role models to lead them so they will become strong, activists for safety.

My husband and our young FF have all been put in the position of going ahead with the team or standing there and saying "nope, not me". That is a tough call for anyone. Note: I did not say what they chose.

7/28 A new website geared specifically for competitive sourcing at Interior, especially in the Forest Service, is at

http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain/. The site gives good nuts and bolts information for folks to use in writing letters to Congress, etc. A lot of folks have been doing this, and as a result Congress is looking at banning new competitive sourcing in Interior until they can take a good, hard look at the program. But you can bet some heavy hitters will be pushing Congress to keep the outsourcing train running full speed ahead. We cannot be heard if we do not speak up.

-- Union guy
7/28 What???

Fire momma,

I am a Felling Boss and have worked in the woods with timber companies. I have used jacks. Any faller that uses jacks on a tree that has no holding wood is absolutely insane. If I saw someone use jacks in that manner I would have them kicked off the project. Jacks have their use, but jacking snags or rotten trees is just asking for trouble. Jacks in conjunction with wedges are used for felling trees with backlean etc. They must have holding wood or they don't work, ask any faller that has accidentally "Jacked" a tree off its stump.

7/28 I have to disagree with you that firefighter safety is a personal responsibility, it is everyones job to watch each others back, and make sure everyone makes it home to their familys in 1 piece. I am my brothers keeper, so should you be.

The job we do is a dangerous one, I have said no to the powers that be many times and never been pressured to do something that I was not comfortable doing, and I still have a red card.


Being responsible for your own safety and having members of the crew watching out for each other can and should occur at the same time, AK. That's part of what fostering crew cohesion is about. No one would disagree with that. Most people seem to be saying that bottom line is that firefighters need to be responsible for themselves. Failure to do so would be the biggest hole in the swiss cheese. Ab.

7/28 What fire is on the Umpqua (Or) right now? It looked like it
was cookin' this afternoon. Anyone have any info?


What part of the Umpqua? Is that only a looooong river? No Oregon county by that name... Must mean the NF? Just asked around. Someone said there was a torchin' 400 acre fire in Douglas Co., Toketee-Lomolo Lake area. Kelsay Complex. That the one? Ab.
7/28 Good news.

Sources say the Investigation Team will use the HFACS/Swiss Cheese Model,
which Tony Kern and others have incorporated into the new USFS Accident
Investigation Guide. I'm confident that with this tool they'll do a good
job. Especially with knowledgeable folks like George Jackson on the team.

I've attached the Investigation Guide in Acrobat. Abs, you might post this
Guide if anyone's interested.


It's really large (a 3200 K pdf, 102 pages). Here it is and you can link to it from the docs worth reading page and the site map. If you have trouble downloading it, try doing it at 0200 or 0300 hrs when internet traffic is low. Ab.
7/28 I agree with NorCal Tom, and want to emphasize that applies to everyone, not just fallers. It's OK to turn down an assignment if you are not comfortable. It does not reflect poorly on your professionalism, it enhances it.

A few examples: No one disputes medical doctors are true professionals. Doctors frequently refer patients to other doctors if the patient is outside their area of expertise. No one thinks less of doctors because of it. In fact, we are glad they put the welfare of the patient ahead of personal ego or income. Lawyers are the same. Clients are always referred to another attorney if the situation is better suited to another's skills. This is not considered unprofessional.

It is only in the last few years we have developed the culture where line assignments can be refused without fear of retribution (well, mostly). That attitude must be given to all functions, fallers, truck drivers, everyone.

Professionalism is knowing the limit to your skills and abilities and putting safety and the needs of the incident ahead of fear of saying no.

Gordon Niner
7/28 During an initial attack of a 30 acre brush fire near Silver City, NV
a fire truck stalled and was burned over during the initial attack.
Fortunately all members of the crew were able to get to a safe zone
and are ok.



7/28 The one point I would make is that we blame people for making mistakes that
any of us could of made given the situation. We throw the 10 and 18 at the
people who made a decision. Without why and what to support that, how are
we suppose to learn and improve. It is my belief that in most
circumstances people made mistakes in judgment when they thought they were in
compliance with the ten and 18. Without knowing what were they seeing or
thinking, how can we use that info to improve! Well that is enough from me.
Take care and be safe and have fun.

Knowing both Leslie Andersen and George Jackson and having discussed
other fire investigations with them, I believe they will do a good job. I know
i discussed the swiss cheese model with George a few days before the
tragedy happened -- in regard to another fire.

Big smooth
7/28 Ab,

The memorial at the Grand Junction Air Center is inside of a restricted
security zone for Walker Field Airport. If it is included in a scavenger
hunt through geocaching.com, well I could see some major issues that might


Well, please go tell them to move it outside. Ab.
7/28 Hi Ab,

This is my first message to you but MOC4546 obviously does not
understand REDCARD. I input data for over 300 redcards. It may be simple
from where he is sitting but sit in my chair. REDCARD is driven by
documentation. The main reason folks are not given a redcard the day they
come on board is that they have not had their WCT or fire refresher. You
can get your redcard but without a valid WCT, NOTHING that requires a WCT
test will appear on your card. Once the information is received and is
input, the cards come out. Believe me, we who do the data input want those
cards out ASAP also but sometimes the folks getting the card are more
concerned about bitching than doing what it takes to get the card. I
suggest that MOC4546 check with the person doing the cards to see why they
are not out as quickly as he thinks they should be. There are lots of
reasons, not excuses, good reasons.

/s/ Old Dispatcher

Welcome, Old Dispatcher. Thanks for educating us to the Redcard process from your perspective. Ab.
7/28 NorCalTom

Safety has never been, nor is it now, a contractor-specific concern. While instances of flagrant violations have surfaced - primarily because of the mushrooming fire suppression industry - it is inappropriate to put the "safety violation" issue so squarely in the contractor's lap.

As I try to do whenever I step forward to make a point, I will give you glaring examples...all in the 2002 fire season.

1) Two of our fallers were working on a project fire and the incident was winding down. The fallers were directed to cut hazard trees, not many, and quite a distance from each other. The falling boss assigned to this team said he was bored and asked one of our fallers for his saw so "he could go have some fun too." The falling boss WAS NOT C-faller certified. The falling boss was an agency individual in a supervisory role who had the direct power to de-mob our faller.

2) A team of our fallers was given the assignment to cut down a "problem tree" on another project fire. They were led in to the location by a falling boss and a safety officer. The tree had been flagged off. Before cutting the tree, our faller asked for a safety report to be filed. He then cut down the tree using jacks because there wasn't any holding wood left. The report was never filed. The faller was told a div. sup. had attempted to cut the tree down and couldn't get it to fall. The faller was told to drop the subject.

3) Another team of fallers was asked to cut a tree similar to the tree above. The tree had been hacked to shreds (but it was still standing). The lead faller in this team had asked a BIA crew to NOT cut timber its sawyers were not capable of cutting. (He had cut the crew's lead sawyer out of a mess twice the day before.) The crew leader had gotten in the fallers' face and told him off. Same crew. Same sawyer. Our same faller had to take the tree down.

4) Fallers were cutting in an area designated for work during the morning briefing. There were lookouts posted. The area was supposed to be clear. Road lookouts had stopped traffic. Unknown to the fallers, the IC had entered the area to eat lunch. A tree fell near him. Guess who got reprimanded?

I do agree with the sentiment that a firefighter's life is ultimately their own responsibility. But there are definitely circumstances compelled by supervisory actions.

You will never find a safer faller than one who has had to buck the tree off of a friend, and then go tell his wife. The individual on our management team overseeing the safety program did just that. Yes, the deceased faller made the decision to enter an unsafe area - on the direction of a falling boss/safety officer. The faller could have declined. Unfortunately, he did as he was asked and died.

I encourage our fallers to be extremely conservative in terms of safety. Like the sentiment expressed regarding the two young men who were killed on the Salmon-Challis, I fully agree there is no acreage worth the loss of a life. No tree is that important.

But, NorCalTom, blaming contractors so generally for safety violations is not right. There are some excellent contracting companies in the fire suppression field who are trying very hard to set a high standard for safety. I'll leave this subject at that.

Fire Momma

Ab, please add this to my other post:
NorCal Tom, I've read back over your post and the others a few more times, and I realize you said you weren't trying to paint an overall negative portrait of contractors, just that you had had some specific issues with specific Oregon contractors. I apologize for suggesting you were casting a shadow over contractors in general.
7/28 Foxfire, Sammi and Others,

While I agree with you that it is indeed every firefighter's personal responsibility to demand that safety regulations are followed I think that Sammi has an equally valid point in mentioning that there is a REAL WORLD PROBLEM of young firefighters feeling like it isn't their place to go against the grain. That has to be taken into account. I know that feeling and it is hard to go against. Sammi, I certainly hope that your boys reported that SOB that instructed them to leave behind their fire shelters later even if they were afraid to say anything at the time. It is their DUTY to report that kind of activity because if they don’t, they are enabling that individual to endanger other FF in the future. That is UNACCEPTABLE!

I have had the good fortune to have some excellent teachers, guys who know their stuff and have their priorities straight. Their attitude is that when we are on the line it is my job to work hard and it is their job to keep me safe. That is the way it should be, a FF should never HAVE to stand up and make a stink because safety regs aren’t being followed, they SHOULD be able to work with confidence that they are being looked out for. That being said, if it comes down to it, a FF has to grit their teeth and go through the pain of confronting and reporting irresponsible behavior on the part of their superiors.

We all, from the lowest ranking to the highest, must have an attitude of zero tolerance.

7/28 Ranger Ash,

NWCG has been pretty clear about the 14 day assignments. The 14 days
start when you check into the incident. Travel DOES NOT count toward the 14
days, and the status-check in recorder asks you when your last day off was to
determine if you came in fresh, or from another fire. If you came directly from
a fire, that travel counts towards the 14.Travel home again does not count. So,
you could travel 2 days to a fire, then do 14 shifts there, then travel 2 days
back, for a total of 16 days gone from home, as an example.

7/28 Hi all,
I have a question concerning the 14 day assignment
policy. It has always been my understanding that the
start of the 14 day policy was the day you left your
district not from the last day a firefighter had a day
off. My experience has always been on a shot crew
so, it may be different for other resources. Could
anyone please give me some direction with this.

7/28 Sammi,
I find you post disturbing on more than one point.
Please re-read what you have written. You cite many safety violations that your young firefighters have experienced, and despite the suggestions given them by their dad, yet they continue to participate in those dangerous situations. And apparently willingly continue to actively remain firefighters under these conditions. And you suggest it is someone else's fault?

Red card, machismo and peer pressure aside, (and be damned if a life is in danger) SITL's words ring true: "Fire fighter safety is a _personal_ responsibility. If we each accept that responsibility we'll be far safer than if we try to blame someone else."

Also, please do not speak for me as a FF ("I know you FF reading this know exactly what I am talking about, but it is unheard of for a working FF to buck the system in any way."). I have, and will continue to speak up when I believe the situation warrants. However, no one can teach or legislate common sense, nor control the forces of Mother Nature. Those who have chosen the path in life of wildland firefighters must accept that, and accept the responsibility for their choice and ultimately their safety.

7/28 Hi Ab,

I'm attaching four photos of the memorial to Larry Groff and Lars Stratte who were lost on the Bus Fire on Aug 27, 2001. I did not have a GPS with me yesterday when I took these but here are directions to the site.

From Hopland go north on Hwy 101 about five miles until you come to McNab Ranch road. From Ukiah go south on Hwy 101 about four miles. Turn west on McNab Ranch road. At the T turn left on Bus McGall road. Follow the road about two miles until you see the memorial on your right. From Hwy 101 to the memorial is 4.3 miles.

Loren Davis
Kenwood FPD

I posted two of them, accessible via the memorials page. Thanks. Ab.
7/28 Hi Ab,
I want to put in my two cents on the Red Card Issue.

Each year since the Storm King Fire there have been greater restrictions and greater scrutiny over the qualifications of the Red Card, and maintaining that kind of quality control is a good thing.

However, what still continues to be unacceptable system-wide is the timely issuance of the Red Card by government agencies. Consistently in the past and today Red Cards for all agencies are supposed to be issued to all firefighting personnel AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON, NOT AT THE MIDPOINT! There are some of you who will say "I get my card assigned the day fire season starts", and if you do that, it is great to hear because it means some FMO and his staff are doing their jobs.

Overall that is still not happening. Crews start the fire season and the old standard is "We'll issue you your Red Cards before you go on assignment or fax them over to you when you reach your destination". With today's rules and regulations if you show up at a fire without the Red Card you can and will be sent home, or until your unit sends your information.

Here is the solution: NIFC and all the Fire and Aviation Management across the board need to MANDATE that Red Cards be issued to all Fire Personnel within a week of that person starting the fire season, and FMOs need to be held accountable by adverse action if those cards are not issued right away. There is plenty of time to have these issued accurately at the beginning of each season, not at the mid-point of the season.

By delaying the red card issuance, you delay the ability for crews to be deployed rapidly. I have seen where some forests in the past have intentionally delayed red card issuance so they can keep people on the home forest rather than fill resource requests. There is no reason why a fire clerk cannot issue cards immediately with the proper information, and if upgrades to the cards need to occur, those can be issued as needed.

We have based a lot of our accountability on insuring that red cards qualifications are properly verified, but we can't be accountable if the cards are not issued immediately. There is no reason why a card cannot be issued on Start Day and re-issued if there are changes that need to be made. If a task book is completed on a fire and turned in the paperwork should be processed right away, not when someone feels like it.

7/28 I know I said I was going back to FamilySaid and MMOB (mind my own business) but I want to answer the question about contractors. Both the incidences, withholding red-cards and blackballing has happened this season and not with contractors. (being told to leave shelters in trucks and don't wipe the accelerate if it hits ya were on State crews,) and it was said in front of some guys that were up the food chain and nothing was said to correct the "mistakes".

We do have one family member working with a contractor, third season, and he is very happy there and they are being very good about safety and other issues that have been mentioned here. He works year round with them and is getting a degree in forestry management. And they are very supportive of him getting his education.

Now, two years ago another son was with a contractor and he was so disgusted with the way things were done he jumped ship real fast. No doubt there is good and bad in all things. the Forest Service and DOL should be out front carrying the safety banners and yelling "see, this is the way it is suppose to be done!!!!" If you guys can think of a way for people like me to speak up abt safety issues and still protect jobs I am all for it but just like everyone else, I do not want to cause trouble for family.

So just sign me part of the weenie club,

Nobody is suggesting you should go back to familysaid. With issues like yours, you should join the fray. Ab.
7/28 Dear Ab,

Just wanted to share this with our firefighting community. This was a letter to the editor in the LaGrande, OR Newspaper. This is from the parents of Dan Rama. He fought fires for five years.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
On June 21 our family attended a memorial service in La Grande, Oregon honoring our son and four other young wildland firefighters who were killed in a van accident on the way to fight the Hayman fire in Colorado last June.

This has been a very difficult year for all the families and crews involved, but as we reflected on all that has happened, we realized that one of the steady rocks of support amid all the chaos was the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. This is a non-profit agency whose purpose is to assist the families of fallen and injured wildland firefighters in their time of greatest need.

We had not heard of this organization before, but the Foundation people were one of the first contacts we had on the day following the accident, lending information and both emotional and monetary support. This support continued throughout the year and they were in attendance at the memorial service this past weekend.

This year's wildland fire season has begun, with fires across the west making the headlines. There already has been at least three firefighter casualties. If you enjoy the wildlands of our country, if you watch the news and think of the men and women who risk their lives to keep the rest of us safe, if you were or are a firefighter, if you know a firefighter, if you wonder about what can be done to help, we would like to suggest you consider a contribution to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. This group works tirelessly to help those most directly affected by wildfire tragedy. They are worthy of your support.

The Wildland Firefighters Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports all wildland firefighters during times of critical need. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is located at 3880 S. Development Ave, Boise, ID 83705. For more information visit the Web site: www.wffoundation.org.

Dave and Judy Rama
Baker City, OR.
As far too many can attest, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is a fine and, unfortunately, NECESSARY organization, supported by our tax deductible donations. Please contribute. They make the major difference at the most critical time for those who have lost loved ones. Ab.
7/28 Catchin up...

Contributors, please take a look at the Wildland Fire Memorial Sites page to check for accuracy and duplication. Dick Mangan, TC on the Rattlesnake Fire, Hugh and Neptune on Tim's GJ memorial photos, please check. In the case of the Grand Junction site, I am unclear if there is a duplicate or a triplicate. If it is possible, please take your GPS and get the lat and long for these places, Folks, and keep 'em coming in. Aren't there any Missoula Smokejumpers who have more info like pics, a link or lat/longs on the smokejumpers' memorial?

Hopefully some photos coming later.
7/28 Ab, your computer sounds a lot like mine.

The pictures are of the memorial at the Grand Junction Air Center for the 5
personnel that were killed in July 1976 on the Battlement Creek fire. Two
air tanker pilots were killed when their aircraft went down, and the 3
firefighters were killed when they were over-run by the fire the next day.
The flag is at half mast in honor of the Idaho fatalities.


Thanks for resending that information, Tim. Nice photos too. I put the links to them on the memorials page. Ab.
7/28 Re "delaying the redcard" for questioning safety issues or refusing an assignment:

Do your kids work for a contractor? And no, I am not impugning contractors
in general, just giving a heads up on some from Oregon. I could see some of
the ones I'm dealing with threatening to "delay a redcard" to anyone who
threatens their bottom line -making money.

We have had some problems with contractors from Oregon coming to norcal,
having driven way too many miles with no sleep in days. Our solution: put them
up in a motel overnight and send them home. I wish we could fine them or the
people who sent them to us. Better yet, if in violation, ban the suckers. Luck
for us is, they are, as yet, too uneducated or too stupid to lie about their lack of
sleep. We are only out the cost of motels, etc. I hope the cheese hole doesn't
line up for worse outcomes.

NorCal Tom
7/28 Personal Responsibility and Management Responsibility - I think that both arguments are right.

When you get an assignment, your safety should always be your first priority, not machismo. On the same note, the people handing out the assignment should also think of safety first. Ultimately what happens is that there is a breakdown on both parts.

Management comes up with an idea because they need to do something, or at least they think they do. Then the firefighters get the assignment and to us it is just another difficult task. However what happens is that we hit the lines and become complacent and forget about SAFETY FIRST.

I started in the wild land side on an IHC crew and then moved over to the structure side. On both sides when things go wrong there are always common denominators. We usually hear that communications, assignments, briefing’s and just plain common sense had something to do with it.

It is unfortunate to hear that people feel that there will be retaliation if you don’t follow an order because of safety. I have had a couple of dealings with this on both the wild land and structural side. On every occasion not only was there a legitimate safety concern but, when brought to light, there was action taken to correct it, or we did not do the assignment. I would like to think that we are past the blackballing because of safety concerns and instead should be promoting these individuals to look out for others. Remember when something goes wrong it is usually the firefighter that gets hurt or killed, so we must always put our safety first no matter what the perceived consequences are.

7/28 my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones this past week. and my thoughts are with those who still work the lines.

the posts here in the past few days seem to speak of the same frustration: people keep dying in situations that are seem to be entirely preventable, but all our rules and investigations don't seem to be doing any good. i can't speak for aviation mishaps, because i don't know enough about the complexities of flight, but when firefighters are overrun on the ground, the frustration really seems to hit home.

some of the comments here echo two main themes: one is fighting fires that may have no resource values at risk and the other is a questioning of the training - specifically the 10 and 18. folks seem to be upset that investigations will simply reveal a failure to adhere to the rules of engagement, but my questions aren't simply what rules were broken, but why were they broken. i think it has to do with the way we train firefighters.

i was taught the 10 and 18 by two different agencies (USFS and a state DNR). for me, both sets of instructors stressed the importance of the rules. like many crews, we had to memorize them, but i was fortunate enough to have leaders who believed that the 10 and 18 were rules you worked with and evaluated constantly. it was easy to forget them when you're digging line, but we had squadies who would ask, mid-stroke, what watch out situations were present, or if we were following the fire orders. it was this type of field reinforcement that got me thinking all the time about safety, from knowing the fire, to knowing exactly where i was going to go if things went bad.

in fact, one of the older members of the crew would ask us young guys on long mop up shifts to pick out the best escape route and safety zones. we'd spend the hours discussing the advantages of certain terrain or natural features.

the point is that all this training took place outside the classroom, and while it reinforced things i learned in the S-classes, it was a practical experience that helped shape the way i approach fires.

i consider myself one of the lucky ones, because my first fire job was on a 'shot crew. i was surrounded by people with many years of experience who i could trust to keep me safe while i was able to learn about fire behavior firsthand. and we rolled right out of training to a fire and put my learning to good use. but i also know that many others aren't so lucky - for most their first fire job isn't on a crew that may have lots of experience, and fires may not come right away.

so, i think one of the main problems facing the fire organizations a whole is training. its a topic that as been discussed many times on this board - often in the form of leadership, but the same principles apply here. we have developed lots of classroom settings that can teach a lot of theory, but its no substitute for hands on training (the the reverse is also true). we have a lot of people who can either read a book and tell you how to fight a fire, or can live in the woods and dig all day, but when it comes to mixing the two, we're coming up short.

a final story to emphasize the conditions that we are often times placing our firefighters into: two years ago, our crew was on a fire in wyoming, headed by a type II management team. our supt came back from the morning briefing, and asked a few of us to look in pocket guide for the safety zone guidelines. it seems the management team was having a hard time interpreting the area of the necessary safety zones. it turned out that all involved in this discussion were working under the assumption that a safety zone was a square - not a circle! and consequently their areas were too large versus the areas printed in the pocket guide.

no one was hurt, and i'm glad they were overestimating the size of the zone, but it raised some troubling questions for me. we could teach people all we wanted about fire, but unless you actually had done calculations or built safety zones, you might know it (a good command of high school math is all that is needed). and the same is true on the ground - we can drill 10 and 18 all day long, but unless you are actively using the 10 and 18 as tools to engage a fire, they are worth nothing more than interesting trivia.

7/28 Regarding the gale force winds that took out the Smoke Fire base camp.


In answer to your question on the mph -- our fire behavior
analyst is going to try to get an official answer -- he was not a base
camp when the storm blew thru (it lasted a good hour or more with the winds
sustained that whole time)- and it was really isolated as our fire
behavior analyst was at Ravendale which is apx 9 miles away from base
camp where it sprinkled some but did not come with the wind/hail event we
got. Our safety officer believes the winds "may have exceeded 80 mph" --
some people think it could have been closer to 80-100 mph winds.
THANKS for sharing the photos with theysaid!

7/28 Ab,

I am absolutely blown away by the response. I had no idea there were so many, and I have a feeling we haven't heard the end yet. Thanks for your assistance. For what I was wanting to use it for, there are alot of inadequate descriptions. But maybe somebody out there will use your site to find them and give us a more detailed description/location. In the meantime, I will be releasing the Smokey Bear Travel Bug through www.geocaching.com within the next 2 weeks. I'll list as many memorial sites as I can on the website and point to the rest on your site. Thanks for your help in this.

I have one to add to the list. One of my employees died on the County Line Fire in Mississippi, 2001. His name was John Paul (JP) Pritchett and his memorial is on the south lawn of the Mississippi State Capital @
N32 18.204
W90 10.947

If you would, please change the spelling of the word "were" to "where" from my original correspondence. My typing isn't all that good but I do know how to spell (when I actually think about checking it).

Also, please give GISgirl my e-mail address. I'll be glad to share all the info I have on this. It might actually help to have a map of all these as we get accurate info returned.

Thanks again,

GISgirl, send in your address. I don't have it. Ab.
7/27 SITL wrote:

"I've been biting my tongue for a couple days now over some recent posts on
They Said, specifically those that want to place blame for firefighter
fatalities at the feet [of] fire administrators. The facts are that fire
fighters die because they make bad tactical decisions. Ignoring the 10s and
18s is the biggest part of the recipe for disaster. If we, as fire fighters,
blame our mistakes on what we see as poor administrative decisions we'll die
in even greater numbers because we'll be shifting blame to people who can't
save us even if they want to. Fire fighter safety is a _personal_
responsibility. If we each accept that responsibility we'll be far safer
than if we try to blame someone else."

Good points, and if you are referring to my post in reply to ML, that was
not my intent (ie, to deflect discovery of the basic causes of the
accident), and I'm glad you clarified this. If you look at my post at
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/hcarson.php regarding the use of the Swiss
Cheese Model for Accident Causation, there is a sentence in there that is

"One caution: the Swiss Cheese model is not meant to deflect the basic,
ultimate responsibility that we all have as firefighters: to maintain high
situation awareness (SA) and to make good decisions based upon that
awareness and through sound application of risk management principles. And
those that don't do this sometimes suffer the ultimate consequence, and
unfortunately should and will bear that responsibility."

Nevertheless, the accident investigation should not stop there at the first
slice: there are always underlying causal factors, and they need to be
looked at intensively.
Thanks for bringing this up. \

Hugh Carson

7/27 I’ve set up Website specifically to provide competitive sourcing information to use for lobbying. It’s at http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain/. Rather than sending large attachments to your inbox, the plan is to post them there and email a link.

For now, some talking points, the Lobby Week Brochure, and the FSC testimony for Senate hearings on CS are posted. While this site is geared specifically for competitive sourcing at Interior, especially in the Forest Service, there may well be information that will be useful to others as well.

In Solidarity,
-- Mark Davis

Forest Service Council Legislative & Competitive Sourcing Committees
National Federation of Federal Employees
7/27 The Cramer Investigation
From the "Missoulian", the Cramer Fire fatalities Investigation Team:
George Jackson, MTDC (Chief Investigator)
Leslie Anderson, MTDC
Chuck Whitlock, MTDC
Randy Moore, Milwaukee
Erin Newman, Washington DC
Ron Angel, Coeur d'Alene, ID
Marcus Schmidt, Denver
Grant Beebe, Boise
Kevin Bishop, Atlanta
Linda Donaghue, St Paul (Team Leader)

Dick Mangan

I'll ask it. Are any of these people well versed in the "Swiss cheese" Model of Accident Causation that Hugh Carson lays out?

FYI, you can keep up with official developments on the Cramer Investigation: www.fs.fed.us/r4/sc/fire/cramer.php. Ab.

7/27 Every Year my guys are telling me some not so serious to very serious mistakes/orders given by command on the fires that scare the beegibbers out of me. (I consider even the not so serious as very serious.) My young FF are in the sorta macho/peer pressure stage of life where they are not as likely to stand up to a command person and disagree with orders. You should hear the talks they get from their dad.....and they walk out the door really believing they can speak up....nope they get out there in the FIRE WORLD where no coward is allowed, and we see the results. . But recently around here there is blatant serious risks being assigned with the understanding that if the FF refuse, their Red cards will be delayed for a while.

In the spring when the FF were doing controlled burns they were told to leave the shelters in the trucks, packing them slows you down ...they were told when the copters were dropping the golf ball accelerants that it was not necessary to leave the area, just don't rub your skin if it falls on you......they were told look-outs were not necessary on controlled burns. There was several more issues but I have slept since then.

Every year I hear SAFETY-SAFETY and then we start seeing deaths and then the investigation and low and behold it was the FF that died"s fault. I know you FF reading this know exactly what I am talking about, but it is unheard of for a working FF to buck the system in any way. They know they will be blackballed and then probably get laid off or never get the call......so for the FF, it is a very precarious situation.......even if those kids that rappelled out of that copter saw the seriousness of the situation, they went anyway......no one wants to be labeled a weenie. well I had rather have live weenies than cooked ones.......mother and wife of FF's and I want - no, I demand - they be kept as safe as possible.


Sammi, to be fair, we have no idea what the situation was with the rappellers who died. Hopefully the Cramer Fire Investigation will illuminate that. As far as the infractions you mention, send in specifics and we'll get the info to the people who can do something. Everyone must be responsible for demanding safe practices. Ab.
7/27 Abs

I've been biting my tongue for a couple days days now over some recent
posts on They Said, specifically those that want to place blame for
firefighter fatalities at the feet fire administrators. The facts are
that fire fighters die because they make bad tactical decisions.
Ignoring the 10s and 18s is the biggest part of the recipe for disaster.

In 20 years of fire fighting in Operations and 5 in Planning I've had
plenty of crappy assignments handed to me. Many of us here have had the
same experience. Administrative decisions about which fires to fight and
which to let go are a related but separate issue. When all is said and
done what matters most is *how* we carry out our assignments, not
whether those assignments are good or bad.

If we, as fire fighters, blame our mistakes on what we see as poor
administrative decisions we'll die in even greater numbers because we'll
be shifting blame to people who can't save us even if they want to. Fire
fighter safety is a _personal_ responsibility.
If we each accept that
responsibility we'll be far safer than if we try to blame someone else.

7/27 Sincere Condolences (what empty sounding words) to the family and friends of all the FF family members we've lost this season and past seasons - 3 confirmed deaths this week, and now rumors of 2 more ... eloquent words escape me, tears are flowing

My kids, too, are on the line out there somewhere. I fervently pray they and all others are safe and remain so; I pray they've received the best available training and use their long time skills every minute they are out there fighting the dragon in the mess created by that singed Bear.

Be safe people! for those of us who now sit home and pace, re-read vfd cap'n's posted link; and remind those on the line to do it if they have time.

purple's mom
7/26 ML wrote:

"What's more, I am very tired of reading fatality reports that place tactical blame for the folks on the ground. The responsibility on most fatality fires lies not with the on the ground folks who may have made mistakes, but with the agency administrators and fire managers who to this day are still not following a policy that all the heads of our agencies signed in 1995 then reviewed and updated in 2001. All fatality fires have undoubtedly had elements of mistakes from the folks on the ground, but we must look at the root cause...why were they there in the first place?"

I was landscaping my yard this afternoon and ML's comment kept bugging me. Mainly because every time we have a fatality (and I've lost over 40 friends and acquaintances in this business since 1985), that same question of "Are we just going to see another largely useless recitation of the 10 and 18" comes up each and every time. I couldn't agree with ML more. And the cause of this situation - at least in part - are the accident investigations themselves. There was a reason the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) became a party to all. . .

To read more of H. Carson's thoughtful opinion, please use the following link: H Carson Sez

7/26 Do not assume just because a fire is in a remote backcountry area or Wilderness that there are no resource values at risk. Appropriate suppression response in backcountry is sometimes aggressive initial attack, sometimes not.

All fatalities are a tragedy. Let's not politicize them for ideological dogma.

Gordon Neiner.
7/26 My grandaughter is a wildland firefighter and so I have much invested in your profession. My heart breaks at any deaths incurred in this profession. The letter by Fire Killer (don't have the date) was so outstanding I e-mailed it to everyone I know. We sit here (unfortunately cannot help) and bite our lips and worry about all of you. Much love to all of you.

Jane Daurelle-Nana to Kateline Jane Daurelle of Salt Lake City

Love you.
7/26 Anybody know anything about the 'stand down' the BIA has 
issued on the WRA in WY?

7/26 Slim details, but readers advise there has been a helicopter accident resulting in several firefighter deaths in Arizona. Use the news link up at the top of the page. Here's one link: http://washingtontimes.com/
7/26 You wrote: Hugh, take your GPS along next time and send us the Lat and
Long. Ab.

Ab: I am in Boise. That's why I said: Contact someone in GJT about

Hugh Carson

OK. Gawd, with this internet stuff, you could be on the sun studying fire. Ab.
7/26 Our prayers and sympathy for the two firefighters in Idaho and for the helicopter pilot in Washington. We also think of the people in the fire community who knew and loved them. Please stay safe!!!!! Everyone wants you to come home safe at the end of the season.

On another subject there is a memorial at Oregon State Arboretum in Corvallis for the Storm King firefighters. There is a memorial at Idlewild camp ground for Levi Brinkley and the 13 firefighters who died on Storm King, it is outside Burns Oregon. There is also a memorial for Don Mackey at a trail head in Montana the jumpers at Missoula base would know where it is. In Glenwood Springs at West Glenwood estates there are boulders with the names of the firefighters on Storm King and down by the train station there are bricks with their names on them.

7/26 Could anyone who sent in mail yesterday that did not get posted please resend it? My computer mail system developed a glitch and I lost it. Same goes for anyone I was having a "conversation" with. But wouldnt'cha know, we have gotten lots of spam since then. Thanks.

Tim, I have the two memorial photos from GJ. Could you resend the description?

So sorry to read that the helicopter pilot died in the crash yesterday evening. All who knew and loved him, please accept our sincere condolences.

7/25 Here are some photos of damage from a high wind thunderstorm that hit base camp on the Smoke Fire on the Lassen NF overnight Wed. Check the damage to all the tents.

This is what the yesterday's News Release said about the move:

The incident base camp was moved to the Lassen County Fairgrounds in Susanville over night, after thunderstorm-associated winds heavily damaged the base camp at Juniper Ridge School in Termo yesterday afternoon.

As of this evening, the fire is 8,010 acres and 90 % contained.
Geesh, not only are they fighting fire, but dealing with everything else - amazing. Wonder what the wind speed was.


7/25 I just got a disturbing call from one of our ENGB in
Keller WA. Another Ship has gone down. <snip>

lets keep it safe -
Eric @ PW

I put another link up on the Fire News page so early risers and East Coast folks can get the most updated news articles on this. We pray for the best. Ab.
7/25 McGinnis Tragedy:

Just heard some radio traffic regarding a helicopter
going down on the McGinnis Fire. Thoughts and
prayers to those involved.


Here's a link to the story. www.katu.com Best wishes. Ab.
7/25 There's a memorial plaque on the "Hiawatha" rails-to-trails mountain bike trail on the old Milwaukee Road grade for the 78 firefighters that died in the 1910 fires in Northern Idaho. Didn't have my GPS with my on my ride a few weeks back.

Dick Mangan
7/25 I have to agree with firepup21 that it made me sad...then very angry to
hear about the senseless loss of two more firefighters.

What's more, I am very tired of reading fatality reports that place
tactical blame for the folks on the ground. The responsibility on most
fatality fires lies not with the on the ground folks who may have made
mistakes, but with the agency administrators and fire managers who to this
day are still not following a policy that all the heads of our agecies
signed in 1995 then reviewed and updated in 2001.

All fatality fires have undoubtedly had elements of mistakes from the folks
on the ground, but we must look at the root cause...why were they there in
the first place? I could go on and on about specific fires, but the idea
as a whole of placing firefighters on fires that by our own policy should
be managed using the "appropriate management response." Although not a
fatality fire, was the Biscuit fire managed appropriately? Millions of
dollars wasted, firefighters lives put at risk...for what? Management team
after management team got to watch this fire do what it was going to, no
matter what they did. And by most accounts, the fire created a mosaic of
mixed severity resource benefits.

Firefighters will continue to do the job asked of them. If they are
trained to parachute into a fire, rappell into a fire, or drive an engine
to a fire, they will do it to the very best of their ability. They will
always do their best to keep themselves out of trouble to the best of their
training, and will do to the best of their ability the job they are asked
to do. It is the agency administrators and the Fire Managers who make the
appropriate response decisions that need to be brought into a more
realistic way of managing fire. Just because we are good at suppressing
fires does not mean that it is right in all cases. Most of the lands we
manage will burn at some point in time. The management decisions I see are
just postponing "that" fire until the next manager is in place, or the
next, but it will eventually burn at some point in time.

I would send out a challenge to any agency administrator or fire manager:
before you ask the eager firefighters who are anxiously awaiting to do
their job, make sure you are asking them for the right reasons. That
decision has a trickle down effect that affects the safety of every person
on that incident for it's duration.

7/25 Regarding Memorials:
Henry Kim was killed flying lead on the Ziploc Fire on the Cibola.

There is a small memorial for Sam Tobias, an Air Attack Supervisor who was
killed in 2000. He was flying both IA and relief for the Scott Able Fire on the
Lincoln NF. The memorial is located inside the Smokey Bear Ranger Station in
Ruidoso, NM where Sam worked. Some of us have suggested that Sam also have a
memorial at Alamogordo Tanker Base where he began flight on that ugly day.
The base is being rebuilt right now and I plan to bring the idea up again when
it is completed.

To my knowledge Sam is the only ATGS to be killed in the line of duty in the US.

Another little known fact: the father of one of the victims of the '94 Gila
helicopter fatalities (mentioned by RS) was flying air attack on the fire at
the time. To my knowledge he never flew again. We all still stand with him in
his grief.

7/25 There's one outside the G Junction, CO airport.

Also one at Western Slope Fire Coord Center just outside
the dispatch building.

Contact someone in GJT about specifics.

Links to the memorial at NIFC:

Also official NIFC monument page is at

Hugh Carson

Hugh, take your GPS along next time and send us the Lat and Long. Ab.
7/25 I believe Mike Wheelock dedicated a Memorial Site at the La Grande Fire Station for the 5 people that Grayback Lost in the Rollover accident last year.

7/25 Memorial - Another one:

On July 21, 2001, my engine crew helped with the dedication of the Battlement Mesa Fire Memorial in Parachute, CO. Four firefighters lost their lives on this lightening fire that started on July 15, 1976. They consisted of a air tanker pilot, Donald Goodman and three members of the Mormon Lake Hotshot Crew who were: Anthony Czak, Stephen Furey, and Scott Nelson.

The memorial consisted of an interpretive display/map, plaque, burned pieces of cedar trees, a piece of the air tanker, and fire tools. It is situated at a rest stop along Highway 70 that looks over at the area where the fire was.

The dedication was put on by the local fire districts, the Colorado State Forestry, USFS, and BLM.

CW *
7/25 Ab - just happened to stumble across your site a couple of days ago. Great
site - and I haven't even been through all of it yet! Goes to show that it
really IS a small world out there in the fire community.

Concerning the memorials - there is one outside the Prescott Fire Center
for Henry Kim. He was actually a lead plane pilot who was killed on a fire
(can't remember the name) on the Cibola NF outside of Grants, NM in 1992.
The memorial is in Prescott because the building was named after him. I was
on the Helitack Crew that had the unpleasant task of slinging out what was
left of the plane.

While I'm unaware of any memorial, let's not forget the pilot and three
Helitack killed in a crash on the Gila NF in 1994. They seem to get put in
the shadows, maybe because they died exactly one week before the tragedy
happened at Storm King.

Although I am no longer on the pulaski and Sky Genie end of things, I am
still with the Feds and heavily involved in aviation. It was definitely a
blow to hear the news of two days ago. My deepest condolences to the

Keep up the good work and STAY SAFE out there!!


Thanks for the info. Some who visit and contribute here have shifted agency. We say once a member of this community, always a member. Welcome. Ab.
7/25 Eileen-

In searching for historical fires- have you tried the local agency (USFS,
BLM, State, etc) who manages (or protects) that piece of land? There are
many people who have kept records for years as to what burned, where and
when. One big piece of fire planning is knowing where it burned before so
you know where to stage your resources. The result is that many agencies
across the nation are creating digital geographically referenced fire
history databases in GIS (Geographical Information Systems).

Call the local agency- ask if they have fire history digitally and see if
they can help out. Now some areas are covered better than others so also
ask them how reliable they think the data is. Geeks like me map this stuff
all the time. Personally I like answering questions (but then I'm a social
geek ;-)

As of now, federal agencies (USFS, NPS, BLM) should be mapping every fire
over 10 acres in the lower 48 and over 300 acres or so in Alaska.
Compliance is dependent on the local unit.

Just another avenue to pursue while the fire people are all out on incident,
7/25 Firefighter Memorials

FYI - I was on a fire on the Okeefenokee NWR back in the mid 80's and I recall there being a small memorial on the side of the road (hwy177), just outside of Fargo, GA. leading in to the Stephen C. Foster State Park. It' been too long to remember the details, but I'm sure it was a fire fighter memorial.


I'll add it but more info would be helpful. Ab.
7/25 There are 2 memorial sites for the crew of Tanker 130, killed
on the Cannon Fire near Walker California, June 17th, 2002

1: Minden, NV at the Heritage Park off of HWY 395
2: Walker, CA there is a monument right off of HWY 395 near
the crash site.

Please include these on your memorial site page.
Thanks so much,

Hi LLB, sorry for your loss. I put them on the page. Ab.
7/25 From Firescribe:

Nice visual presentation of the Balcony House Complex,
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

MAP and
Day by day in PHOTOs.
7/25 The memorial sites page is a beautiful addition to the site.

Hopefully someone who knows the details will chime in,
but I think there are memorials outside the dispatch
offices in both Grand Junction and Prescott, the
former for an airtanker crew and the latter for an Air
Attack killed in the line of duty.

7/25 Today two families are in sorrow. Friends mourn. In the near
future, two new holes will be dug in the ground, flags will fly at
half mast, two new crosses will be erected, bagpipes will wail out.
Why must we morn again losses of fellow firefighters? Why? Why
did these two young men believe they had to save this piece of land
so bad that it cost them their lives? Every loss affects us all.

These are not acceptable losses.

I did not know these two. But I very well could have met them
and shared a simple handshake at the helibase. I mourn their loss.

Lest this happen again, let us remember what we fight- wildland fire,
not a structure fire with a kid hanging out the window. This loss is
not right.

May we remember that it is not a command of god to "save" this
piece of land. Land is only that, a piece of land that evolved with
fire on it. We are a family, and to lose two from our midst over a
piece of land is truely tragic.

We are not separate in our feelings of loss or in our desire for
understanding. Nor contractor, nor hotshot crew alike, these
deaths affect us all. Let us morn these losses in respect by finding
out what happened and not repeating mistakes if there were any.

My dearest respects to the family, to firefighters, and to friends
alike. We all share a bond that will not be broken. May these two
be in our thoughts and prayers - as we continue to mourn - while
continuing with our duties - as the job calls. Stay safe. Let's make
these the last deaths this year, and for all years to come. We are
one, yet we continue without two..., again...

Fire Killer
7/25 Ab,

Attached is the handout we use for our local critical incident stress
(CISM) team whenever we do a stress intervention. The first half
is a list of stress reactions that emergency responders commonly experience
in the hours, days and weeks following a critical incident. The second part
is "12 things to try" to help alleviate the symptoms.

The guys on the line have one advantage over the dispatchers and office
folks - they get plenty of strenuous exercise to help the body cope with the
physical reactions. But, sometimes we forget that there is still a human
being under the dirty nomex.

vfd cap'n
7/25 Hi

Visited your site while doing a little research, it ended my research, too much to see. Great site you have there, got a screen saver and had a great time looking through your photos, could smell that fire.

I'm a Rural Fire-fighter in NSW Australia and been searching for contacts over the web when I stumbled in, glad I did.

Bookmarked your site, will be back


Welcome Stephen. We have other participants from your part of the world especially during your fire season. Ab.
7/25 Fires burning all around Wyo., a state that usually never burns. Record temps around here for the last several weeks. Fire index through the roof ....as I look out this window, dry lightning is crackling across the ridges of the northern Wyoming Range. My FS friends here were holding their breath this wouldn't happen. Hang in there, firefighting brotherhood. Be as careful as you can. Watch out for each other. My thoughts are with all of you, during this, what appears to be an infamous summer.

Most of you are too busy fighting fire to do the grieving that you would normally do when comrades fall, so I will try to do a little bit of it for you: My prayers go out to those FF friends at Indianola Helitack, the Heath and Allen families, and the personnel on the Salmon-Challis. May God hold you up, and may time someday help heal your wounds.

Semi-Frozen ExFF
7/25 Ok I have a stupid question....

The jobs that are listed on USAJOBS now....are they for next
season...the early 2003 dates have me a bit confused.


Crews sometimes hire at the end of the season when groundpounders go back to school. Whether hired early or late, once hired you have the priority for the next season. Ab.
7/24 Some quick notes from the Northern Rockies:

General Fire Behavior Forecast: Record heat and recent dry weather have
coupled to raise fire danger values greatly in the past week. Expect a potential
for fire behavior to be at or near extreme levels reminiscent of August, 2000
which was characterized by afternoon plume dominated events and sustained crown
fire in timbered areas. Recent scattered and generally light precipitation
has dampened this potential for a few days in those widely scattered areas
where it has occurred. New holdover fires are expected from today's lightning,
particularly in the Big Hole (B/D NF) area.
Area Specific Forecasts:

--New starts in the Glacier NP/Flathead NF area have exhibited very rapid
buildup into plume domination the past few days. Expect this to continue,
especially on slopes. The Wedge Fire on 7/23 reported "crowning, torching, spotting
with flame lengths observed to 300'."

--The Bitterroot Valley area: The Frog Pond Fire on 7/23 reported "Torching
and continuous crowning events early in the day. Numerous runs up to ridges
were observed by lookouts with 200+ flame lengths." The Big Creek Fire
reported on 7/23 "Torching with some short crown runs……short range spotting has
occurred". ERC is above 97th percentile.

--The Clear/Nez NF area: Jumper reports on 7/25 indicated "normal" (for the
time of year, minimal resistance to control fire behavior) on initial attack
lightning starts. ERC is above 97th percentile, however.

--The Beaverhead/Deerlodge NF area: The Hidden Lake Fire reported on 7/23
"Individual tree torching with limited short crown runs and interior burning of
unburned islands created multiple columns in the mid-afternoon. ERC is above
97th percentile.

--The Yellowstone NP/Gallatin NF area: ERC's for the Gallatin NF are at an
all-time historic high value (74).

Long term weather prognosis is for warmer and drier than seasonal normals
(which are seasonally warm and dry).
Important Northern Rockies Area Indices: Peak probability of ignition most
areas will be above 70%. Haines Index will be 5-6, a moderate to high potential
for plume dominated large fire growth. Energy Release Component (ERC) values
remain at or above seasonally historic levels with many stations at or above
the 97th percentile. Many heavy fuel moisture values are at or below historic
Safety Considerations: The rules of disengagement have not changed. In
periods of potential for extreme fire behavior it is most important to practice
LCES at all times and to disengage if this becomes compromised. Watchout
situation #14: Weather getting hotter and drier. Think about it.



Everybody keep your bags packed and boots oiled. The Northern Rockies are
here again and early this year. There is no immediate end in sight.


What is a Safety Zone under blowup conditions? Ab.
7/24 Dear Ab and Heather from Texas,

My SO is on a Helitack crew on the Blackwell (Now the Black Frog Complex). He is getting 2 days R&R and will be home tomorrow afternoon (we live within a hour of the fires). I will ask him if he has seen the Tazlina Hotshots. I will email back when I get some info. Hopefully tomorrow!


Ab is going to move this over to familysaid. Thanks for the feedback AMM.
7/24 The Pepper Hill Fire was a small fire. Occurring in 1938 near Emporium, a sleepy, small town nestled in the steep hills of north-central Pennsylvania, the flames consumed less that 200 acres. Not even a "yard fire" when compared with the monster-sized fire of the West. But this fire claimed the lives of seven CCC enrollees and their fireboss. A memorial marker and beautiful spring stand just south of Emporium PA on State Route 155.


Thanks Foxfire and Another TC. I will get those added soon. Ab.
7/24 I am not writing this to share but was wondering if you know how I can get
connected to a team in finance. I have my task books for time and equipment.
For the past 3 years I have been a firefighter but am to old and tired. I am
listed at my local dispatch and I have a hard time believing that I am not
needed anywhere. However they never call.


Finance is fighting fire, just on another important level. Ab.
7/24 Eileen,

The Chewach drainage covers a large area, and the rest
of the Methow even more. Fires happen there every year,
and in the Pasayten too.

Could you be more specific on the fire you are referring to?
Was it recent, or notable? There was a WA DNR fire just
across the Methow from the Chewach that was still going
on when the Thirtymile started.

7/24 Sincere Prayers and Condolences to the family and friends
of Shane Heath and Jeff Allen. God grant them rest blessed
reposed and make their memory eternal!

7/24 Families, friends and fellow crewmembers of Shane and Jeff: May
the thoughts and prayers of so many who share your loss bring you
comfort, and loving memories heal your heart.

7/24 Here are 3 So California Memorials:

MACK II Fire (Roadside Marker) September 19, 1971
Robert Maxwell Miller
Hwy 243 above Banning

N 33 degrees 54.033'
W 116 degrees 51.867'

Inaja Fire (Memorial Park) November 25, 1956
11 Fatalities
Hwy 78 east of Santa Ysabel

N 33 deg 5.917'
W 116 deg 51.862'

El Cariso (Memorial Park) November 1, 1966
12 Fatalities

N 34 deg 18.942'
W 118 deg 24.942'

Another TC
7/24 Hi Ab,

Thanks for your help finding info and pics on the Windy Peak Fire in 2001. Wow, how did you figure it out?? Any advice? I looked a long time before asking for your help.

I am also looking for another fire which preceded Thirtymile in the Chewuch area which was known by some USFS persons in charge of Thirtymile on 7/10/01. Do you have any information on which fire or fires this may be?

I have heard of the Thunder Mountain fire but I think that was in 1994. Do you know how to get any pix of Thunder Mountain?

Also, do you know of other fires since then, but before Thirtymile?

Thanks much.

I don't know the historical fires of that area, but some reader might. Some of the hotshots who are off on assignment now might also know.

Not many fire pictures or much fire info existed on the internet from before about 1999. I don't think many records were kept that were accessible via internet. R6 started trying to keep some info that way in 2000 and 2001; some of the guys on Stutler's Team 3 IMT, a Type I team thought we needed a history. The Washington IMTeam 4, a Type II team, also has kept a historical record of its assignments, including pictures. They were one of the first fire websites even though a Type II team. Probably had a geek on board. The Type I team websites came on in 2001 and those folks went back and built their team history pages. Jim Ott was the first team webmaster, if I recall correctly. From the Plumas NF. Lotta innovation has come from there through the years. Today the fire team websites are still a rich source of fire info and pictures of fires they have fought. As far as the sleuthing this morning, when I saw the url that didn't work, I recognized it as the Washington team 4's site and figured they had moved the info and photos into some historical record.

7/24 Hi there. I ventured across your website a few weeks ago and wow, what a great resource. I'm dating a hot shot that I met over the winter. He is on an Alaskan Type I crew, the Tazlina Hotshots. I've gotten pretty good at getting fire info. on the web, but can't ever seem to get specific crew assignment info. For instance, he is on one of the Idaho fires right now and I'm trying to maybe find out which one. I think he's on the Hot Creek or maybe even Cramer or Blackwall fires and I really want to know which one. I'm pretty freaked out after the two deaths and the news is making Idaho sound pretty dangerous right now too. Any suggestions?

Thanks for your time,
Heather in Texas

It is difficult to get specific crew assignment info. The crews let their home unit know where they're going first, but when they are demobed, they can dispatched somewhere else. Some regions like the SW (Region 3) have a Sit300 that is available to the public in which they list the crews from their region and where they've gone (or they think they've gone), and the visiting crews that are working in Region 3. Several years ago regions making that info available was more widespread. Things changed 2 years ago for some reason (9/11? too hard to keep up with? too easy to be in error?) Let me check around for the AK info. It may be there in some pdf file. Ab.
7/24 For the past 5 years I have had a READ qualification on my red card, indicating Resource Advisor. I have searched for descriptions of the position, and for qualifications, requirements (can an AD retired from federal agency hold that position on a wildfire?), and currency requirements; no luck. Does any one know where I can find USFS/BLM policy regarding READ quals?


It is not on the most up-to-date mnemonics list. Perhaps that position has been discarded. I have taken some off in the last 3 years as the list has changed. Ab.
7/24 Just returned from a dispatch assignment with the infamous ROSS. Some notes: 96 orders backed up on one NIC desk due to frequent outages; 7 hours of down time one day to install new server; faster now that new server is on line; still frequently heard at GACCs "Lost in ROSS"; one prominent comment made "It seems we are more interested in making ROSS work than supporting incidents."
'Nuff said.

7/24 firepup21,

I understand your frustration and second you on that. Here's
hoping that we continue to learn and grow in the fire community.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: safety first.

7/24 I was surprised to see the 2 pictures of the LP Hotshots
taken in summer of 53.

I recall some or the names as follows. Ed Benson, foreman,
Porky Moreno, asst. foreman, Denison Trelore, crew leader,
Tommy Thompson, crew leader, James Moore, Tony Cavoli,
and Ed Neary. Pictures bring back memories of some hard
work and old friends.

Allen Turk, Hotshot of 53.

Hi Old Shot. Welcome. We added that information to the photo description page. You can click on the words under the photos to go there. Ab.
7/24 To the families of Shane Heath and Jeff Allen and
their fellow crewmembers:

My family would like to extend our condolences and
sorrow at your loss. We are all saddened and diminished
at the thought of two bright lights that now burn in memory

Tomorrow during standdown "Amazing Grace" will be
piped at the cache.

7/24 hey Ab and others,

I haven't written in awhile, been down here in the south trying to do some good by teaching at the National Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Center. Trying to get fire managers and firefighters to understand the importance of Prescribed Fire and Fire Use.

That said, I can't tell you how angry it made me to read that two more firefighters have been killed attempting to suppress a fire in the middle of freakin' nowhere with no resources at risk. I can say this for certain because I used to be a member of the Indianola Helitack Rappell crew out of North Fork, ID. I know that country of the Cramer fire and there is no reason to put people in such an inaccessible place. It frustrates the hell out of me that we continue to "suppress" fires of this kind, especially when we all know that we don't really suppress them, but herd them around until the weather changes.

Let's get real people, we will always need fire suppression resources (mostly to protect structures), but this is ridiculous and absolutely unacceptable. If we as fire managers don't take a good look at how we manage fire in this country, we will continue to kill 22 year old firefighters every year!

My best to the firefighters and their families and my all my old friends at Indianola and the Salmon- Challis, I'm thinking about you guys, even if I am pissed off.

7/23 "And while the prophets shudder or adore
Before the flame, hoping it will give ear,
If you at last must have a word to say,
Say neither, in their way,
"It is a deadly magic and accursed,"
Nor "It is blest," but only "It is here."
- Stephen Vincent Benet, JOHN BROWN'S BODY

Even as monsoon rain comes to southern AZ, the cloud of sparks is sweeping North....
Be safe, those who follow the fires and those who fight on their home ground.
This is an angry summer - there are sparks among the people as well as in dry wood.
Be good to each other.

7/23 Just a sober and heartfelt sentiment from a graying firefighter...
God bless those who risk it all fighting fire, wherever it may be.....
My thoughts and prayers to the families of our fallen brothers....

Stay Safe, Everyone
7/23 Ab,

Is it too soon to put a name on a massive wildfire that won't start for
another 32 years? My vote is to call it the Abercrombie Complex. See the
AP article on Newsday. www.newsday.com

On a more serious note....on our way to Missoula, my wife and I stopped at a
firefighter memorial off Highway 191 on the southern edge of Flaming Gorge
national recreation area in the Ashley NF in Utah. A trail leads from a
campground to an overlook with an interpretive display of a 1979(?) fire
that killed 3. I forget the details, but sadly, the terrain looks a lot
like the pictures of the Cramer Fire area.

vfd cap'n
7/23 Ab,

Phoenix TV Station reporting a new Arizona fire (lightning)
in the Cave Creek area, airtankers are on scene. Unknown
additional info.

Fyr Etr
7/23 Here's a link to a 3:48pm MDT updated story in the Idaho Statesman about the fatalities on the Cramer fire. The victims have been identified and, according to the new story:

Two firefighters were overrun by flames and killed soon after they were dropped by helicopter to battle a fast-moving blaze in a national forest in central Idaho, officials said Wednesday.


Hi Bullwacker, just want to explain the snip. In normal times I wouldn't have snipped your comment and question which were based on the news report. However today has felt anything but normal. Please, let's not forget our audience. There are people reading who feel really bad right now. They need our support. Also the voracious media is reading. We need not to fuel any speculation. The investigation should take its course. Only fair. Of course, if anyone is willing to answer Bullwacker's questions about helitacks behind the scenes, please let us know and we'll put you in touch. Ab.

7/23 the names of the FF killed are on the News page....one from Salmon and one from Boise. So young and so strong. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends and certainly their crewmates....such a loss is incomprehensible.

7/23 This came to me this morning forwarded from Patty Bates, District Ranger
on the Salmon-Challis NF.


I regret to inform you that earlier today, two Indianola rappellers were
overrun on the Cramer Fire and died during the fire blowup. Jeff Allen and
Shane Heath were working a helispot in rough terrain above the Salmon River
Canyon when the fire blew up. Both were veteran firefighters at Indianola;

Jeff started at Indy in 2000 and Shane in 2002 after a season at Sula in
2001. Families in Salmon and Boise have been notified; the bodies were not
retrieved tonight due to loss of flight time. An investigation is underway
regarding the sequence of events leading to their deaths. The Sheriff and
Coroner are involved, as is the national serious accident investigation
team, as well as a critical incident stress team.

Everyone else on the incident is safe and off the incident. The Cramer Fire
is being transitioned to a type I Incident Management Team. Information
about the fires will be forthcoming.

Please remember Jeff, Shane, their families, and friends and those involved
with the Cramer Fire and North Fork RD in your prayers. Information on
services and memorials, as well as counseling is forthcoming. There will
be a stand down at all fires tomorrow for three hours from 7 AM to 10 AM.
If anyone feels that safety of themselves or others is affected because of
this news, please talk to your supervisor or line officer at the stand

Again, please remember Jeff and Shane in all your thoughts. If you have
any questions or concerns, please call me until we get the CIS set up.

Patty Bates, District Ranger
7/23 My prayers go out for the two ff's killed and their families,
as well as the SC Fire people. Does anyone know which
crew it was off of the forest? I am a former rappeller for
R-4 and was based on the SC. Let us remember the fallen

7/23 I've added another option "Wildland Firefighter Deaths" under current events on the Fire News page. There probably will be repeats of the AP wire that has already been reported. But you should be able to get more information as soon as it's released. As most of you have probably read the two are reported to be two members of a Salmon-Challis National Forest helitack crew. Condolences to the community. Ab.
7/23 "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And
therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
John Donne (1572-1631)

Old Fire Guy
7/23 Ab-

does r4 have a sit300 available online like r3 does?
i can't seem to find one. would be a help keeping up
with the crew while i'm on the east coast.


Nope, not that I know of. Ab.
7/23 Ab,

To follow up on the S-420 and CDF Teams issue: S-420 is a requirement of Command and General Staff members of CDF teams. There are generally two sessions given in California each year, as a joint effort between CDF and USFS. One class is given in the North, and one in the South, usually sometime in early spring. It’s true that slots are difficult to obtain in the class, especially for operations section chiefs. I hope Lobotomy keeps trying to get into 420, it’s one of the best classes out there.

George Haines
IC, CDF Team 6
Southern Region CDF 420 coordinator
7/23 Update on the Hot Creek Fire from Firescribe:

It blew up and went to 10,600 acres after Dethroned Cache Queen sent in the photo.
7/23 Updated Report from Dick Mangan.

Cramer Fire Fatalities
Initial Briefing
July 23, 2003 @ 0500

Two firefighters were killed yesterday when they were trapped by fast moving fire on the Cramer Fire. The names of the firefighters have not been released by the Lemhi County Sheriff's Office.

All firefighting personnel and equipment have been taken off the fireline and a "stand-down for safety" is in place.

The Cramer Fire is located 30-miles northwest of Salmon, Idaho on the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The fire started on July 20 when lightening struck in extremely dry vegetation. The fire quickly grew to 40 acres in a matter of hours on the afternoon of July 20. Twenty-four hours later the fire had burned across 200 acres of forested land. Burning conditions were extreme at the time the firefighters were killed - temperatures were well over 100°F, winds were gusting to 31 miles per hour, and the relative humidity was approximately 16%.

A Forest Service accident investigation team is traveling to Salmon, Idaho. They expect to arrive later today. A Type-1 Incident Management Team (IMT) is also on their way to Salmon and will assume management of fire suppression activities.

No further details are available at this time. Information will be shared as soon as it becomes available.

Please refer all media calls to:
Erin O'Connor, Intermountain Region
801-510-7079 (cell phone that appears to be working in Salmon)
Gail Baer, Salmon-Challis National Forest
7/23 Thanks Ab!

You're welcome. Wish it all was a simple as that. Ab.
7/23 Can anyone ease my unlikey fears by confirming that the Gila
Hotshots are indeed still working in the Gila and are not in Idaho?


Look here www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/swapredictive/swaintel/daily/sit300.php Says they are indeed committed to the Spruce Complex on the GNF in NM. Breathe easy. Van Bateman is a very experienced IC. Ab.
7/23 Many of us are dealing with volatile fire conditions across
the west. As Mellie says, we must make sure that our tactics
match the current fire and weather conditions.

Each death affects us all.

I offer my condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy.

NorCal Tom
7/23 From Firescribe:

More information on the deaths www.foxnews.com

Prayers for family and friends of those who died.
7/23 My prayers for all involved. What else can be said, I feel like
I hurt for all of us everytime there's a death.

I love you all! Please be safe! Take care of each other. Maintain
situational awareness and pull back when the fire behavior dictates.

<hugs to all of you>
7/23 Ab,

Preliminary information on the 2 fatalities on the Salmon-Challis
yesterday. Prayers to everyone involved.


We got this sheet on the CRAMER INCIDENT telling what is known.
Photo of Cramer Fire terrain

Our thoughts and prayers go out as well.
Be Safe. We need you all to go home to your families when the season is over.
7/23 Ab,

Just heard that two firefighters were killed when overrun
by fire on the Salmon Challis National Fire. Has anyone
heard anything about this?

7/23 Regarding CDF's Mexico Fire Attack:

On 7/19 Guilermo reported that CDF was "down in Tecate Mexico, south of the border, helping out with a large commercial structure fire that could go wildland or bigger if not extinguished." Here's an update:

The troops did good. CDF resources arrived at the request of the Tecate authorities police/fire. First on scene BC reported a large commercial furniture factory totally involved with multiple exposures involved as well. Wind direction and fuel loading made it a threat to spread into the vegetation and into the US. 3 CDF engines (3363, 3374, 3394 made small progressive hoselays to pickup spot fires in grass and hold fire spread. Supply line and attack line with foam were given to the bomberos for use. CDF Firefighters then supported the Tecate bomberos with rehydration and in an advisory capacity in fighting this large commercial fire. "Task Force Tecate" returned by police escort to the US approximately an hour and a half later.

Viva CDF, Viva Tecate Bomberos

A socal CDFer

Interesting. Many wildland fires these days start with structures. Another reason for defensible space around interface homes. Same with countries? Ab.
7/22 Speaking of type I vs, type II incidents -- here's a shot of the Hot Creek fire on the Boise NF. It's taken from my house, about 75 miles away at 1800 this eve. Just "guessing" -- but my money's on type I.

Dethroned Cache Queen

Thanks for getting that photo in so quickly and just the right size, too. (Readers, Ab was the one lagging, Cache Queen had this in as the action was unfolding.)

Also got this report of today's observed fire behavior from one of the Idaho crew... As of 7PM... Extreme burning conditions due to high temps, very low RH and low fuel moisture levels. Widespread crowning and torching. Significant runs to the south, north and east. Fire grew from 30 acres to nearly 4,000 acres in one afternoon. Type 1 Incident Management Team (Sexton) will transition in following a Type III IMT. 195 personnel on board. Fire started yesterday at 5:30PM due to lightning. We've been promised an update on numbers and kinds of resources in the morning.

7/22 If you haven't been reading familysaid, you should. It's been interesting. Ab.
7/22 To Retired LAVE

Yeah, I stop by just about every fire department I get a chance to…and any time I see a crummy or engine parked someplace I at least take a good hard look at it. I’ve also given a lot of tours of our fire station to firefighters passing through.

On another note, Buck, you might want to check out www.letterboxing.com; there’s a Smokey Bear Letterbox near Capitan that’s kind of cool to look for (last time I checked, it had a grand total of four stamps in it, the original locator’s and three FF).

Nerd on the Fireline
7/22 At Mann Gulch, the crosses are no longer crosses: one of the SJ's that died was Jewish! Missoula SJ's jumped in in 1999(?) and put up granite obelisks.

A "must see" fatality site for anyone in the wildland fire business who has the chance (but not in July/August, with 100F temps, and lots of rattlers!)

Dick Mangan
7/22 Buck-

Once you complete your "scavenger list" I'd love to have a list of the lat/longs (please specify the datum ) and I'll create some nice maps (.pdfs or .jpegs), potential routes, or help out in anyway. If you need a lat/long or pictures of the Sac memorial (it's impressive and sobering) just ask and I'll go get that for you- I live down the street.

Is this modeled after the idea of a geocache or simply a guided journey? (www.geocache.com for more info)


p.s. If you've ever met Larry Humphrey- I don't think he gets embarrassed. One of the most impressive federal workers I've ever met. He respects all, listens attentively (even to the peons), gives good advice, and speaks his mind clearly- no bullsh** from him.

Check the new wildland firefighter memorials list. Link at the top of the table. Need some lats and longs. Ab.
7/22 Lobotomy,

Reference CDF Command Teams, they are required to complete I-420. Here it is out of manual…

CDF's basic objective is to place highly trained and qualified personnel on incident command teams. Specifically, the individual team members MUST have successfully completed ALL CDF/ICS (Incident Command System) training for the position. All command and general staff team members will complete S-420 class (Command and General Staff training) no later than their first anniversary of team assignment.

Most of I-420 is taught at the unit level. Remember there the word “ranger” is gone from CDF. They open it up to almost anyone. Talk to your near-by unit training officer. Maybe he can assist you in obtaining a slot..


7/22 Re: Hutch's and FirenWater's posts about type I and II IMTs... and other thoughts about CDF Type 1 Teams and certifications.

As with the federal government, there will always be "typing" of people and qualifications. I agree with Hutch's post that sometimes type I teams are a little under par and sometimes type II teams step up to fill the type 1 assignments. Sometimes the roles are flipped and a team does poorly or exceptional regardless of level assigned.

The quality of the team deals HIGHLY with the leadership and supervision of the IC, Command, and General Staff. It also relies HEAVILY on the longevity, experience, and dedication of the sub-staff. I am one of the sub-staff.

Any team that is able to have great leadership at the IC, Command, and General staff level, as well as have folks in the sub-staff positions with a great deal of experience..... THEY ARE A GOOD TEAM.

With thoughts leading to retirements and levels of experience, how come the barriers of I-420 and I-520 have not been mentioned?

I-420 keeps federal folks from becoming command and general staff on type II teams; I-520 keeps federal folks from becoming command and general staff on type I teams. I-420 and I-520 are NOT required to be a Type I team with CDF, but CDF teams are recognized by NIFC as type I teams without I-420 AND I-520. There are NO CDF Type II teams.

CDF is a member of NWCG but does not adhere to NWCG 310-1. CDF is also a fire department within California and does not have to adhere to the new CICCS standards that they helped develop... and OES is imposing these new standards on other local agencies but NOT the #1 state agency. IS THIS A CASE OF DO WHAT I SAY AND NOT WHAT I DO? Someday, after an accident, CAL-OSHA will get ahold of these recommendations and hold CDF to the same level the USFS is being held to today.... a CDF version of "Thirty Mile Abatement Items".

I-420 and I-520 classes are few and far between, but our agency complains about the availability of "up and coming" ICs, Command and General Staff. I have been on the waiting list for I-420 for THREE years now. I have been on a type II team member for the last six years and fully qualified in my current position since 1991. My forest gave our only slot to I-420 to someone who has NO INTEREST in being on a team. Our Forest provides TWO of the current local type 2 IMT I.C.s as well as a number of the command and general staff.

My question is whether these classes are really needed? If these classes are really needed, then why do we not hold our cooperators to the same level? and if these classes ARE really needed... then why do we not make them available to the group that needs them, the folks desiring to be on incident management teams!!

7/22 Reply to John regarding engines without qualified ENGBs

A memo sent out by the NRCG dated January 23, 2003, states:

All engine order received from other GACCs will be filled with only those engine resources that can provide a fully qualified ENGB. Orders for engines within the Northern Rockies should be filled with qualified engine bosses but will not be a requirement until 2004.

By May 2004, NRCG policy will make sending a qualified ENGB mandatory with each engine order. This will give affected agencies, cooperators, and contractors another full fire season to accomplish the training and fire assignments necessary. In the meantime, for dispatch within the Northern Rockies, engines without ENGBs should be paired as a module with another engine having an ENGB. This module will work as one unit under the ENGB. Our primary purpose in establishing this standard is to insure that our firefighters are deployed with the proper level of trained and experienced leadership.


7/22 Fire Monuments

If you include St. Maries you should also include the 1910 Fire Monument
south of Wallace, Idaho on the road to Moon Pass and Avery. Both places can
be included in their same adventure and the trip is a real treat.

7/22 Dethroned Cache Queen and Ab,

Thanks for the welcomes, I never really quit surfing, guess bad habits die hard. Just didnt comment for a while. Hope all you and all you fire goers have a safe one as things heat up.

7/22 Buck --

Don't forget the crosses at Mann Gulch, Mont., and
the memorial to five firefighters killed during the
Dude Fire at Bonita Creek, Az.

7/22 Hey Buck;

There is firefighter memorial in Sacramento California on the east side of the state capitol building. I will send some photos when I find the cd that has the pictures. It is for both structural and wildland firefighters. There is a long list of line of duty deaths as well as the year of the loss.

I know of another memorial it is in New York, our fire dept. Chaplin took pictures of it when he went to N.Y. about 3 months after 9/11.

I have been to the Smokey Bear grave site in Captain, New Mexico, I have some pictures if Ab wants them. That was my old stomping ground, way back last century, in my youth.

I want to know how many of you brother and sister firefighters stop by the local fire departments when you go on vacation, just to look around and get to know other fire folks? (also to steal any good ideas that some one else thought up and then take them back and use them, maybe even claim them as your own!) I bet it's 70 to 80% or am I too high on the per centage?

Retired L.A.V.E.
7/22 The Pacific Southwest Region on August 1 will be opening the Aviation TEAM
. This program is designed to provide Training Experience
Aviation Mentoring to individuals in the Region. The goal is to produce
more qualified aviation managers in the Region. We are looking for
dedicated individuals who are willing to perform in a variety of aviation
positions. Individuals selected will be provided training and experience
in a variety of aviation positions. The Region has successfully completed
one program and, with this announcement, starts another.

If folks have questions they may contact me via e-mail.

Wes Shook
Regional Aviation Training Specialist

Wes, I posted this on the Jobs Page as well and updated Series 462 and Series 455. Ab.
7/22 Buck,

There is a really nice site in Prineville, Oregon for the fallen Firefighters from Storm King. It is in a small park down town and has memorial rocks with photos and a short summary about each person and what they loved and were all about. You walk through whispering aspens and there is a small stream gurgling by several benches . It is a peaceful place. People often leave things at each FF rock and I'm sure even the toughest FF will get a tear in their eye. There is also a life size bronze statue of several wildland FF. Add it to your list , it is well worth the trip.

Red Army Wife
7/22 Ab,

The problem I have with IMT's is the amount of work that doesn't get done on the local level because team members are off fighting somebody else's fire. When the timber guy is off playing DIVS, needed logging projects get stalled more and more. Our state district forester is a type 2 safety officer, but the safety of my firefighters suffers because he's not around enough to help get a type 3 team off the ground or be available to advise summer residents about mitigation work on their property.

It gets really frustrating when you keep hearing, "Well, you really need to talk to __ about this, but he'll be gone for the next couple weeks." .... and good luck getting hold of him after that. Then about mid-November, team folks are nowhere to be found until the first of the year, using up vacation and comp time.

We have a district FMO position that's been vacant for about 6 months now, partly because the forest ranger doesn't want it filled by someone who's on a team.

My mother told me for years each time the pager would go off and I'd leave the family business: "We have fires of our own to put out...." Mostly, I'd just get irritated and answer the call anyway, but now I understand a little better where she was coming from.

vfd cap'n

Yep, that's how the system is set up. No apologies here. And good luck to your Ranger. He may have a hard time finding someone. Ab.
7/22 Firescribe: I don't think ANYTHING could embarrass Larry H.........
I agree with Ab -- glad to see "Hutch" surfacing again.

Dethroned Cache Queen
7/22 Buck Buchanan,

Please don't forget the Firefighters' Circle at
Woodlawn Cemetery in St. Maries, ID.
57 men who perished fighting the 1910 fire are buried
there, in addition to other FS firefighters who died
on R-1 fires in later years. The memorial is on the
National Register of Historic Places, and some sources
say it is the only Federally-owned cemetery plot that
has nothing to do with the military. You can see a
photo of one of the markers at:
N 47 19.0
W 116 35.1

7/22 Ab,

I'm trying to create a "scavenger hunt" through geocaching.com to honor our fallen firefighters. Where can I find a list of firefighter memorials? If they had a Lat-Long with it, that would also help. So far all I have the memorial at NIFC in Boise, the Smokejumpers memorial at Missoula, Smokey Bear's grave at Capitan, and a local memorial. I've never been to the Storm King Mountain memorial but I understand it's near Glenwood Springs, CO. Is that true?

Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.

Buck Buchanan
Mississippi Forestry Commission
7/22 Ab,

The Kinishba Fire report out today says that yesterday’s burnout
operations were successful in the Big Canyon area and that muddy
roads could limit accessibility in some areas. Larry Humphrey’s
Type 1 IMT will be transitioning fire responsibilities to Rick Evan’s
Type 3 IMT. There are still 408 fire personnel assigned to the fire.
However, several fire crews will be demobilized and made available
for other national wildfire incidents.

Size 24,000 acres, 75% contained

That's about it.
Southwest FF

Thanks for keeping us appraised of the incident. Ab.
7/22 FirenWater,

I read your post about Type I and II teams. In some aspects I agree with you especially the size of the "team" and a cast of thousands that is abuse at its most blatant.

As for the skill levels between a Type I and II there is a vast difference with MOST teams. Yes there are some Type II that are very strong and often perform at the level that in most geographic areas are Type I incidents. Conversely there WERE some Type I teams that failed to step up to the level expected of them as well. However for the most part Type II teams do not have the experience or background to step into complex situations and function well --not saying they are not very competent firefighters. You must remember that the question is complexity and not the size of the fire. Complexity deals with cooperative agencies, political arenas, multi jurisdictions, aviation and a whole lot of other things thrown in for the fun of it. I have been a Type I and II IC, Ops Chief and Plans Chief so I think I know the drill. When I was a Type II IC I got dealt some very complex large incidents which should have had a Type I team assigned, but there weren't any available. When I was IC on CIIMT 4, we were dealt some really complex incidents that taxed us as an experienced, and well tested Type I team. So in the "teams is teams" thing I gotta disagree with ya, there is a difference. Been there !!

Now all you out there make sure that you all go home safely to your loved ones with all the pieces in the right places everytime!


Good to hear from you Hutch. Ab.
7/21 Here's one...

Wildland fire erupts northwest of Reno

This Chilcoot Complex is a humdinger. Grew to 700 acres in 3 hours.

Tahoe Terrie
7/21 FWS FF -

It looks like south ops has links to all the WildCAD sites for the Forests in socal (except the cleveland) on their units page at: www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/fwx/operations/osc-archive/units.phpl. Also, they got all the other links on the page fixed (finally). Maybe soon a real web site? Also, it links off their News & Notes web page from the "real-time intelligence" section. Still missing some of the things they normally post (imt commitments, large fires, etc....), but I guess fire season hasn't started yet, so no rush... (maybe they're waiting for non-temporary page?)

7/21 I noticed something while reading the Northern Rockies area Sit Report this morning

"MT-GDC Twelve private engines are available: five of the twelve do not have qualified engine bosses. FYI: The adventures of Carla in the big house still continue. When, oh when will she return?"

What I would love to know is, if there are no qualified Engine Bosses available to operate 5 of those 12 engines, how could they ever be considered available for a fire assignment? As a private contractor in R-6, I strongly believe in properly training at least to FS Standards, and in actual fireline experience that compliments the training before advancement. I know there is no way my equipment would ever be dispatched to a fire if my local dispatch office knew for a fact that there was no Qualified Engine Boss to available to operate it, not to mention I would refuse the assignment if offered due to safety concerns for my employees, other firefighters working the fire around them, and also my equipment. Is it an acceptable policy to consider using private engines in some regions, with full knowledge of the lack of qualifications of the crewmembers?

As you might have guessed reading this in the Sit report, causes some real concern for me, as I hope it does to all others out here that put our lives and other out on the firelines.

7/21 Ab,

Details are sketchy, but news reports indicate an engine was burned over either yesterday or today on a wildfire near Cheney Washington.



I checked around and got this back from the Watts Road Fire -- the 209 from yesterday:

Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):
The initial attack day shift was able to get a rough line around about 95% of the fire perimeter by utilizing dozers and roads in the area. There was a wind shift in the afternoon that affected fire spread raising safety concerns. During this event 12 homes were evacuated, 7-outbuildings and 13 privately owned vehicles and one structure engine that could not be moved due to a mechanical breakdown were destroyed. The owners have been allowed to return to their homes today.


7/21 From Firescribe:

Personal style belies fire leader's expertise

Nice article. Bet Larry's a little embarrassed.

Although I don't agree with this statement:

"Humphrey is one of an aging breed. 'They lived, they breathed fire, they slept fire, and it's just part of them. And I don't know that that type is in the upcoming ranks anymore.'"

I know the speaker is trying to honor Larry, but may not really know the new upcoming generation of firefighters who clearly live, breathe, sleep fire. It's just a part of them too.

And on the Kinishba Fire ...

7/21 Confused,

First MIRPS VS. ROSS. When the feds started the concept of duplicating the MIPRS program for a national program, R5 FS and CDF talked to the project team and suggested they take all that money and update and streamline MIRPS. They stated they could never get Washington to buy off on that, cause it was a CA program. How many times have we heard “anything done by CA is a hot potato”. So they basically took MIRPS on one screen, put ROSS on the other and ROSS was born. Ask anyone who works with MIRPS now or has and the only real difference is ROSS is internet based, MIRPS is networked based. They were supposed to streamline the amount of screens it takes to do something, but that has not happened either.

CDF has plans to switch to ROSS, once ALL the bugs are worked out and it is a proven product. This year, doubt it. Next year? Depends on if the ROSS group can really address the problems they are having. MIRPS went through the same problems ROSS is now. CDF and R5 has shared those problems with the ROSS group, in fact several members of the ROSS group are former members of R5 North Ops folks who were involved with MIRPS from day one, but even they have been silenced by the ROSS management. Seems ROSS management doesn't want to learn from others mistakes. Sound familiar in government work?

Even today, several years after MIRPS was brought to all the CDF/FS/NPS/BLM dispatch centers, there are still one or two people who, instead of filling out the MIRPS form, do voice first, then, as several posts said earlier about ROSS, follow up with MIRPS. This delays the process in CA, since we are all on MIRPS and expect to see the order first. In the case of MIRPS, it is not the program that is the problem; it is getting dispatchers to enter the data. If they can read it over the air, then they should be able to enter it with a keyboard. I know ROSS is having time issues, but MIRPS does not have the problem. Can’t use a keyboard? Type slow? This is the new dispatch era, you first must be able to use a computer, two at a time if necessary. Multi-tasking is very big factor in a dispatch center.

CDF is bringing online a new IA dispatch program. CALCAD has been around since 1980 and while it still works great for wildland only, CDF has grown into a very large fire department that does more than wildland. So they shopped and bid and took PRC, which has been supplying law enforcement and fire departments with a CAD program for many years. It is being adapted to meet CDF’s diverse needs and it will talk to MIRPS. So when the dispatchers accept the recommended dispatch, it will transfer into MIRPS. If ROSS works, then it will be the same thing for it.

Remember ROSS and MIRPS are NOT an IA per say tool. It is just an electronic resource order card. All it does it replace the pencil with the mouse. CAD is and will be the primary IA tool. R5 is looking at PRC and seeing if it will fit their needs. Wildcad is a quick, simple tool, but cannot do the things that a PRC, Intergraph, TriTech, can do. The fed wildland agencies have to decide if they really want to be a true dispatch center with a program that will tone out stations, bring up real time maps of incidents, provide AVL, MDT’s, now or in the future or do they want a dispatch center where a person who everyone knows from their days in the field who now “works in dispatch” , provides second hand info of an incident?

There are many, many FS dispatchers now who enjoy there job and really want to be there. But they need current, up to date tools to work with their counter parts in interagency centers. And there are those who are in there who are the sick, lame and lazy. Since the federal agencies have no true dispatchers in the work force plan, it is a learn as you go plan. At least in CA the feds go to the CDF dispatch academy and learn something along the same lines as their counterparts.

Hope this opens up a dialogue within the dispatch/field community. It is not the computer that is the problem; it is meeting today high tech needs by both sides. And it takes both sides to accomplish this. The programmers and developers MUST not put out a product that is not ready. Didn’t anyone learn from Microsoft and others? And the users MUST be able to utilize the program to its fullest and use it correctly when it is available. Having an 8 cylinder car and operating on just 4 ain’t right….

7/21 Hey Jackson!

Couldn't agree with you more concerning Type 1 vs Type 2 IMTs. The Type 2's been handling type 1 incidents for many years now....at least since the late 80's. I for one haven't really been able to tell the difference. There are good and bad at both levels. Could it be time to rethink the need for both types? Maybe we just need IMTs.

And let me throw this out.....why is it we need up to 75 members on a team?? (Yes some teams actually have that many but the more common number is around 50) Some of these teams come with so many favorite sons and daughters that they automatically jump the cost of a fire up into the stratosphere before they even know what the fire is doing. Why not configure teams with a choice of different levels of staffing to be ordered depending on complexity?

That's all for now.

7/21 More on familysaid, re Spouses leaving spouses behind. Question about whether anyone is or knows a married hotshot supt. Most who could answer are probably out with their crews on fires now. Ab.
7/21 Hello, my name is Nathan, I am a wildland firefighter from Oregon. I am trying to find out how to fight fires over seas during our off season, if you could give me any information I would be very thankful.

Thanks for your time.

7/20 FWS FF

Couple of more WildCAD sites:

Central Nevada Interagency Dispatch Center

Ely Interagency Communication Center
7/20 AK: I beg to differ with your opinion on staying single and having a fire career.

My personal record: 38 fire seasons, 35 years married to the same spouse, OSC1 and Forest Fire Staff Officer. (Oh yeah: 2 great kids, a small cow herd, 4-H and FFA leader, .....a life outside of fire!)

Gee, imagine the possibilities if I had stayed single.

Dick Mangan
7/20 NewBee and others,

Given the problems with ROSS not handling IA, I was curious about what exactly has been done with WildCAD. Seems I have been on the fringes of talk but haven't paid the attention I should. The ROSS problems this season--- maybe we non-dispatchers should educate ourselves. At least I should. IA is key.

I remember a discussion of WildCAD, MIRPS and ROSS on theysaid sometime back, so went looking for that. That discussion occurred in the last days of Dec 2002. I take it MIRPS, CDF's system fills the function of ROSS? Don't we have to work with CDF on dispatch? Won't it cost a lot to make our FS centers CDF compatible? Lots of the rest of the country and other agencies like BLM uses wildcad and ROSS. Don't you? How do we work in one set of systems to match CDF and the rest of the country works in another set? CalCAD, I've heard that term, is that CDFs system like WildCAD for IA?

I also googled WildCAD and found the outline of this December 2002 presentation by Aaron Gelobter to the FAM Information Workshop. Does anyone know of more recent presentations? I don't remember anything from Division Chiefs mtg. Seems clear from that presentation to FAM that R5 will have to renew it's contract for wildcad soon. Can ROSS and WildCAD talk to each other, probably not, I take it. Anyone know?

Can someone lay out the whole plan across the regions of the country, who uses what system and why. Is R5 already constrained to use the CDF system? Anyone know what new equipment would be needed for that to happen in R5 shops that have been using Wildcad. Is one system (ROSS or MIRPS; WildCAD or CalCAD) better? easier? less expensive?

Does anyone out there have a handle on this? Maybe I'm the only one thats
7/20 WildCAD---Is the IA Computer Aided Dispatch computer program. An Initial Attack program----Nothing like ROSS, thank goodness.

Try www.wildcad.net That will get you to the small handful of centers that are on Wild web. Not much info except incident number name and location. For more info one needs passworded access. BLM has bought the program nation wide. More and more centers are running the program each year. Some use it for all incidents, some only fire, some for aircraft flight following. Again it is an Initial Attack program.

Based on closest force principle. All IA equipment is entered and land markers and places. Then when a fire happens, Lat X Longs are entered and the programs will tell you which equipment is the closest. Also levels of responses can be set. Example: Low fire danger, 2 engine response; Extreme fire Danger, 5 engine, 2 dozers, 2 air tankers etc response.

Just another tool to help the dispatcher get the response out quicker and help to the on-going fire faster.

R3 Dispatcher
7/20 What's WildCAD? What is it for?

A Newbee

Wildland Computer Aided Dispatch. Ab.
7/20 Could somebody put up a link or links to all the WildCAD
websites that are out there? Kind of nice to see whats going

7/20 Anyone have information on a fire start in Myrtle
Creek, OR? Someone gave us a call and said it
was a mess...burning down to I-5.

Fire Momma
7/20 Stopped off in San Jose to visit my sick mom.

New CA Fire started this morning about 10 --- up Del Puerto Canyon Rd - MP 16, east of San Jose (CDF - SCU). It's 400 acres after 3 hours. More than 250 F/F are fighting it in extreme terrain. Potential for it to grow is high so they're hitting it fast and hard.

Temps are in the low 100s so I'd just remind all who go out to stay well hydrated. Heard it was 118 in Tucson yesterday. Probably pretty hot on the goin AZ fires.

Also new fire in SoCA, reported by South Ops on News and Notes.

Be safe all,
Tahoe Terrie

Just heard that it's now in excess of 1200 acres and spotting like crazy! Heads up.

7/20 It's national Preparedness Level 4 today! It's an unusual situation, because even though there there dozens of large fires going, and many Type II Incident Management Teams assigned, there are only two Type I IMTs assigned right now. I don't recall ever going to PL 4 under conditions like these. But, it's justified, in my humble opinion, because there are large fires in all western Areas, 449 crews assigned, 3,712 overhead working, and I assume there is competition for resources. I wonder if it was a hard decision for the Big MAC to make, to go to PL 4?

I've been going from fire to fire, and from what I've seen, I think the local resources, local IA crews, and the Type 2 and Type 3 IMTs deserve a huge amount of credit for keeping most of the fires down to the Type 2 or 3 level, especially considering the massive amount of fire activity and the fuel conditions. Is it just me, or do the Type II IMTs seem to be getting better and better each year? I guess the large amount of experience and fire activity over the last few years (since 1994 really) eventually and inevitably leads to better and more skilled IMTs, as well as the on-the-ground folks that actually make it work.

A HUGE pat on the back to the wildland folks that are doing a great job under difficult conditions!


Thanks for the observations Jackson. Ab.
7/20 Hey ab.

Just wondering how willing incidents are to pick up HCEM trainees for a western assignment. I have heard various responses.

JW (Another one)
7/20 This was probably meant for familysaid, but the Abs are choosing to post it here in hopes AK will see it. We have not been able to send a personal reply to AK via e-mail without getting our message returned with an error message. AK, please see our reply below.

Re: Spouses leaving spouses behind

This probably sounds a bit rude but when you meat these guys or gals you know what your getting into. They are gone for weeks or months at a time, you chose this life so stop your whining. I myself am single and I know I have to keep it that way if I continue a fire career. because in this business if you have a wife, husband , kids this job isn't for you!!! Its not fair to you and its not fair to the person your with. But with the exeption of those who are strong in their relationships kudos It must be a hard gig to follow to make it work . Believe I've tried.


AK, I don't think you've really read the current familysaid thread on relationships. No one there is writing in and whining. One parent is trying to figure out how to be supportive of his or her son who is married to a (militia) team member. (Abs say, thank goodness for those important firefighters!) Some other contributors love and appreciate their firefighters and know the problems inherent in the profession. Still others are firefighters who have worked at making their relationships work.

It's a dialog: Firefighters and supporters are explaining their experiences and offering tips that have helped make their relationship work long distance. Stay-at-homes are sharing their concerns and insights. Questions and answers. Questions and more questions. It's what it's about here in our community on familysaid and theysaid. We encourage posters to stay away from personal slurs, attacks, or namecalling. It is better to keep the dialog focused on issues and information. Same goes for chat when enough people are around that it happens.

AK and those who would like to contribute to familysaid, we appreciate all thoughtful participation. We are happy to post any helpful -- or difficult but insightful -- comments to familysaid. Read the threads there and answer thoughtfully. If you have a strongly held feeling and type in a kneejerk response, it's always good to pause and reconsider before you hit that send button.

7/20 Good Morning All.

The Jobs Page, wildland firefighter Series 462 and Series 455 were updated yesterday morning.

There's a new post on familysaid.
7/19 Hey Dudes, Buenos Tardes Seniores y Senioritas. Como estas?

CDF is down in Tecate Mexico, south of the border, helping out with a large commercial structure fire that could go wildland or bigger if not extinguished. I heard that there's an agreement with the Mexican govt, a mutual aid agreement. The Tecate Fire Dept didn't have enough personnel, engines or water to do the job. We're helping with inch-and-a-half hose with foam to one of their engines. No american is entering any structures.

Hasta la vista baby! How do you say BE SAFE in spanish?
Is Tecate where the beer comes from?

Sign me Guilermo --my spanish name, I've been told.

Sea seguro? Insurance? Be safe. Any other attempts? Ab.
7/19 Update on the Salt Fire at 1600 hrs:

180 acres
70% contained
Fuel is timber with slash and litter in the under-story, fuel model 10.
Terrain is extreme.

Resources committed: 7 Type 1 crews, 6 of them CDF & 1 FS; 10 ST's of type 1 crews, 4 type 2 crews; 1 heavy, 2 medium helicopters; 6 SR engines, 6 ST engines; 7 dozers; 2 ST dozers; 8 water tenders, 64 overhead; 2 state fixed wing.
Totals 665 state, 165 FS, total personnel = 773

They've been going indirect and burning out. Burnout is clean. Line has been completed around the fire perimeter. They're holding, improving lines and mopping up150 feet in and expect burnout to be completed tomorrow morning. Thunder cells buildup could lead to unstable weather and control problems.

7/19 Salt Fire

First off it is 17 miles EAST of Jackson in the vicinity (South)
of Hamm's Station... lots of timber, I'm surprised its
not an El Dorado NF incident.

7/19 "JD" asks if a 36 hour shift fits into the "Work-Rest Guidelines". The answer is an unqualified: "That depends...."!

Several thing to consider: first, this a media report. Is it really the way things were?
Second, how much sleep is "a few hours..."?

Next, was it a coyote-type situation, or were they actively fighting fire for 36 hours, less a few hours for sleep.

Also, what were the fire manager's options: was it early in the fire, with no replacement strike teams available? Were lives/property at immediate risk? Was the decision made that the crews were functioning in a safe and effective manner?

Bottom Line: we should never plan to be out 36 hours, but the work-rest guidelines are just that: Guidelines! This sounds like a case where good, experienced leadership would know when to say "enough is enough" and pull his crews off the line if they were too fatigued to work safely.

No easy answer - - - just like most wildfire situations!

7/19 I was also hoping for some info on the Salt Fire, wondering if it's where a friend of mine ended up. Does anyone know what non-CDF hand crews are on the fire?

I don't know if this makes any difference to you, but I looked at some maps and read the info given about the fire, and 17 miles WEST of Jackson just doesn't look right to me. Could they mean the fire is 17 miles EAST of Jackson?

Any info greatly appreciated. And before someone gives the obvious suggestion, the online crew report is no help. According to them there are "No Crews Currently Assigned"...which is probably news to the crews that flew out a few days ago.


As of this morning 3 USFS Type 1 crews are on it. No Type 2 crews. See post above for the correct location. Ab.
7/19 How does 36 hours fit into the work-rest guidelines?
Please read the whole article and let me know. It's
not like they're camping out, is it?

"What they knew for certain is they had been on the
front lines of the fire for nearly 36 hours straight with
only a few hours of sleep."

..."We're pretty much exhausted," Hall said.
7/19 Anyone got info on that fire on the Amador/El Dorado Unit in So California?

NIFC fireinfo says "Salt Fire (Amador-El Dorado County FD): 100 acres at 10 percent contained. The fire is located 17 miles west of Jackson. Active fire behavior with torching and spotting was reported. Crews are building fireline along the west flank."

What about long term prognosis? Is this one in beetle killed trees? Anyone got photos of the fire or of the fuels, etc?

7/19 Kinishba Fire Update (the parts that have changed):
ACRES: 20,600 CONTAINED: 45%

TODAY: Firing operations will continue on the northern perimeter of the fire. Decreased humidity and cloud cover will dry out the fine fuels today which will assist with firing operations. Firefighters will be watching for spot fires beyond the perimeter. There is a 30% chance of late afternoon rains and thunderstorms.

LAST NIGHT: Due to precipitation, firing operations will be implemented only during the day shifts. During the night shifts, precipitation was not allowing fuels to ignite due to high humidity and light rainfall.

PERSONNEL: 924 fire resources committed to the fire. Shifting of resources is currently taking place due to decreased active fire behavior on the Kinishba fire and because of other active wildland incidents nationwide. Also, nightshift personnel are being reassigned to the dayshift to allow for more resources to be present during firing operations.
7/19 Flash,

Just checked the 209s from the Rocky Mountain GACC and there is no Burro Fire listed there. We have the Morgan Bottom, JB, Brush Mt., Carr, Horn Canyon, Balcony House Complex, Bear Creek, Bolt, Yankee Gulch, Douglas, Otter, Gramm Complex and Deep Lake. Couple of those may be from Wyoming. Part of a complex? The Gramm Cplx is in Wyoming. The Balcony House Complex is burning in Mesa Verde National Park, Szczepanik's team is managing it, 2250 acres burned,, 10% contained, cliff dwellings and archaeological sites at risk. Last report noted that the fire "fell off the mesa".

Maybe the Burro is a new start that hasn't been logged into the system yet.

7/19 Hey Ab,

We are about to head to the "burro"(???) fire in colorado.
We haven't found any info yet, so what do you know about it???

Flash in Florida
7/18 Coyote fire update

Coyote Fire Stats

live cam, Coyote Fire command post, updated every 2 min

The Large-Fire-Cost-Abatement Food Police aka the Jerkeys
7/18 Ab,

Thought folks might be interested in the latest info about conditions in SoCal. See the attached CDF Red Sheet being widely distributed.

Just sign me "WRM"

WRM, I just got this formatted in html. Thanks for the contribution from CDF. Readers, this is interesting. For those looking for a useful safety list, here's a nice summary at the end. It includes all the fire safety considerations we live by, including 10 commands and 18 watchouts, LCES, etc. Ab.
7/18 Some new posts up on familysaid.

Shep - Thanks for the info on why the link to structural triage wasn't working. I think I fixed it. Try it again CJD.

7/18 I was interested in seeing the triage checklist posted by OR coyote; however, I got "Object Not Found". I would love to see what other Departments are using for this potentially "hot" subject.

Little fires are starting to pop up pretty regularly here in CO - we are praying for the monsoon to set in as well. Stay safe.

Thanks & Adios,

Ab note: You may need Adobe Acrobat Reader (free download) for reading pdf files.
7/18 Kinishba Fire Update:

LOCATION: 2 miles west of Whiteriver, AZ
ACRES: 20,128 CAUSE: Lightning CONTAINED: 20%

TODAY: Focus will be on the north side of the fire by reinforcing the dozer line and firing operations. The humidity and dew point will be up today with a forty percent chance of rain and thunderstorms after noon. Crews will be moping up on other areas of the fire as well.

LAST NIGHT: It was very hard to get the fuels to light in order to conduct firing operations due to the high humidity's and light rain so crews had to postpone firing until today.

EVACUATIONS: The evacuation order was lifted at 8:00am today and all residents can return home. Structure protection crews will remain in place in case of any flare-ups.

PERSONNEL: 1,143 committed to the fire.

WEBSITE (and other news resources) listed on our Links to 2003 Fires on the Web page.


Springerville, AZ. High humidity and light rain moderated the fire behavior on both the Steeple and Largo fires yesterday. Crews on the Largo Fire were able to construct a control line on the west portion of that fire and used air tankers to help cool the line as the fire approached. The Largo Fire is estimated to be about 1,400 acres this morning and is 40% contained. There are no structures imminently threatened although the fire is about ˝ mile from private property and it is totally within the Blue Range Primitive Area. Three Type 1 (Hot Shot) crews are working this fire in extremely rugged terrain.

The Steeple Fire near Hannagan Meadow received some light rain but the heavier fuels such as downed logs are still extremely dry and continued to burn as soon as the rain stopped and the sun shone again. Hannagan Lodge remains evacuated today along with Hannagan Campground and KP Cienega Campground. Highway 191 remains closed from its junction with Forest Road 26 south to Strayhorse Campground about 15 miles south of Hannagan Meadow.

Dozers have constructed fireline around the Lodge, both campgrounds, and the Forest Service administrative site. Crews will begin clearing vegetation and debris adjacent to Highway 191 in preparation for the advancing fire. It is hoped that the more humid weather will allow firefighters to construct more line and improve those lines already in place. There is no estimate of containment on either the Largo or Steeple fires.

Approximately 300 people are currently assigned to fight these fires. An incident command team from central California has arrived and will assume management of these fires this evening at 6:00 pm. The name of this incident will be called the "Blue River Complex" starting today and will also include the Thomas Fire which was contained in June but still has some islands of burning material within the fireline. The Steeple Fire is expected to burn north into the Thomas Fire eventually. The Blue River Complex will be managed from the Forest Service administrative site at Hannagan Meadow.

Blue River Complex MAP
7/18 For what it is worth, my top 5 shot crews. Of course you have to vote for your alma motter.

1. Logan IHC
2. Helena IHC
3. El Cariso IHC
4. Wyoming IHC

X R-4 shot
7/17 Coyote Fire in Southern CA is 11,200 acres and 10 % contained. 200+ structures are threatened. Not an easy one to fight. 30 year old fuel beds and lots of beatle killed trees.

Also got a fire called the Eucalyptus in the Fort Ord area. It's burning in heavy brush on land where there is unexploded ordnance. F/F are working very indirect. That one is 20% contained.

Continue to keep heads up.
7/17 AZ FF and AZ Trailblazer, about the Kinishba Fire,

The burnout on the southwest flank went well. The hotshots did their stuff. I hear things are holding pretty good to the east, too. Residents of the Whiteriver area will be allowed to return home tomorrow morning probably. (It's always probably with fire.)

Fire weather report said RH was higher today because of the moisture from that tropical storm. Downside was, we did get some T-storms, e-ratic winds and serious flames in the northwest. The fire moved into the Big Canyon drainage. Find a map on the internet. You'll see what I mean. We're going indirect - burning out from the R11 road northwest to Big Canyon, and along the R11 road eastward. The story is: burnout and hold, burnout and hold, through the night, tomorrow, however long it takes.

Pray for a good rain. Come on monsoon season youre overdue. Theres more than a thousand of us fighting this fire that would love nothing more than getting really wet. Bet the residents could go for a big dousing too.

Stay safe, gonna get some shuteye after tool time.

Ops map and Progression map on the Kinishba Fire website. Ab.
7/17 Ab,

Heres a triage checklist (pdf) that firefighters in our community use to decide if a home is worth saving or not or if its in too dangerous a location to safely save. It's a pdf file, but not a big one. Homeowners should see what we consider when that wall of flame is running towards us. "Doesn't need defending" is the best category for a home to fall into!

OR coyote (not related to that coyote fire in southern CA)
7/17 From Firescribe:

This article by Judd Slivka of the Arizona Republic just came out.
How timely with the current discussion on Familysaid.

Summertime lost time for firefighters
7/17 We have lost two fine Air Tanker pilots in Canada. Our prayers for family and friends.

Two killed as water bomber crashes in B.C.


You have our thoughts and prayers as well. Ab.
7/17 I know I've asked this before, and thanks to those who have sent resources from your various regions, but...I'm still looking for any information on timber typing in the Southwest, specifically timber characteristics for heat/fire damaged trees. If you know anyone in either private industry or agency silvicuture shops, or fire folks who have specific observations, it would really be appreciated.

Fire Momma
7/17 Great bit of follow-up advice to PT from Firecookie on the familysaid page.

Thanks to ALL fire family members who contribute, support us while we're away and who "tell it like it is". We love and appreciate you even as we keep our eyes on the smoke and flame. It's not easy when your partner is addicted to/ has a passion for/ or is otherwise compelled to serve in the capacity of fighting fire. Thanks to the families of the team folks who keep the resources flowing and to the families of dispatchers, too.

7/17 Overall combination of hardworkers, consistency, leadership,
and good attitude in no particular order:

Silver State IHC,
Sawtooth IHC,
Prescott IHC,
Diamond Mountain IHC,
El Dorado IHC

Old Hotshot...
7/17 Anybody know if crews fired out at Big Canyon on the west
side of the Kinishba Fire? With RHs here generally going lower
as the nights go on, wonder what that was like.

Anybody know what the T-storm prediction is here for today?
Must check weather. Need a quick link.

The AT's haven't been flying so much as the heavys and other
helos do to the smoke. Those pilots and crews deserve our thanks.

Some demobing of crews to send them to other R3 fires. I think
overhead are trying to match need with ff numbers.

My only comment on residents not wanting to evacuate. Some
are worried about their homes being broken into and TV's-VCR's
etc being stolen. The usual.. Some didn't have a plan to take pets
or meds with them and are worried on those counts. Don't know
about your Southern California fire problems, but being prepared
for the worst helps people cope if the flames come lickin at your
back door.


Here's the SW Fire Weather Warning for today. It also provides the following indicators of potential plume collapse that are worth reposting here.

Warning signs that may indicate impending plume collapse:
  1. The surest indicator is the occurrence of precipitation of any amount, even a light sprinkle, or the appearance of virga (rain evaporating) below a cell.
  2. Rapid development of a strong convection column above the fire, or nearby thunder cells...(Observers must be located at a distance around the periphery of the fire to call attention to developing columns).
  3. A short time warning may be the calm that develops when the in-draft stops just prior to the outflow of wind from the cell. In addition, during the Shoshone Fire in Yellowstone on July 23, 1988 a humming or rushing sound was heard just before the downdraft winds hit. These warnings may be short, but could provide time to reach safety zones.

Nothing right now on the lightning explorer site, but if thunderstorms are present we'll see it here.

To keep abreast of other SW fires breaking or needing resources check the SW Fire Website News and Notes. (Re "need a quick link": One quick way to find most of what you need is via our Links Page which has links to News, Weather, Geography, etc.)

Preparation by residents is important. Here's a good book for how to prepare and checklists for what to take when evacuating... Living with Wildfires.


7/17 IA Dispatcher:

We are finding ROSS too slow to do extended attack with also.

Besides the speed issues during actual fire fighting, the data entry is also tying us up. The screens go so slow that we do not have time to stay current with contractor and resource status and quals. We haven't had time to go thru all overhead and re-enter pack test dates that don't come thru with the imports, so our overhead can't be assigned to a fire, because pack test dates are not current. Unless we have activity, we do not stay open at night, and the ROSS Helpdesk has asked that the contractor info only be entered at night. Also, we do get IA resources from other areas (ie SMJ and airtankers).

In our area it is not unusual for ROSS to take more than 5 minutes to move from one screen or another, that is too long for IA or extended attack.

You will always be the Cache Queen to us.

7/17 PT,

I've been thinking about this since the question was posted, but, I really, honestly, don't think there's a way for anyone to provide advice on how your son can avoid feeling "left out" when his wife is out on a fire assignment. That responsibility really does sit on his shoulders, and depends to a great extent on how autonomous an individual he is. Does he enjoy private time? Time to do his "own thing"? Some relationships are established on the "joined at the hip" idea. Those relationships suffer in fire season.

As a young mother with three little ones, we did all kinds of creative things to "help mommy stay sane." (Not sure if they worked...certainly didn't save my marriage.)

I realize this isn't much help, but there were no emotional bandaides around for wives then either.

I can only encourage you to encourage your son to buck up and believe in the strength of the relationship...and trust his wife. (This is a biggee in the fire scene.)...and learn to enjoy the personal time alone.

Best to you,
Fire Momma
7/17 Kinishba Fire Update: 2 miles west of Whiteriver, AZ
ACRES: 17,700+ CAUSE: Lightning CONTAINED: 15%

FUELS: Fire is burning in heavy brush, and a mixture of ponderosa pine, pinyon juniper and chaparral.

LAST NIGHT: Fire behavior was active overnight. The humidity was up late last night and this morning. Some fire runs occurred in the Big Canyon area. All in all it was a good night.

TODAY: Remnants of hurricane Claudette will move thru southern Arizona today. This will increase the easterly wind, humidity and the chances of precipitation and thunderstorm activity. Crews will continue to reinforce the line on the northern part of the fire. Structure protection crews will continue to patrol the threatened communities near Whiteriver. There is still potential for plume activity today and erratic winds from thunderstorm activity.

EVACUATIONS: Unchanged from yesterday's report which is posted below.

PERSONNEL: 1,143 people are committed to the fire. An additional Type One Incident Management Team from Alaska has arrived and is staging in the Show Low, Pinetop Lakeside area in the event they are needed.

OVERNIGHT: Active burning is expected for tonight with the temperatures between 54 and 65 degrees.
7/17 Just back from the SW. What a show. Slept round the
clock almost when I got home. Ready for more!

Things are obviously warmingup in SOCAL. With the
beetle and drought-killed trees there is there any other
plan than to just evacuate people if one of these fires
like the coyote goes big?

I was reading on the White Mt Central article that people
don't want to evacuate. I would evac with the 200+ flame
lengths I saw. Could be as bad if fire hits Arrowhead or
goes bigger down in the San Diego area.

What does everyone think about residents not evacuating?
Threat of arrest help? I don't plan to stand around and argue
with them when it's single road in and the fire is bearing

7/17 Hey all, New fire in San Diego yesterday. Called the Coyote.

It's rippin in rugged and inaccessible terrain, fueled by drought-killed chaparral and beetle-killed trees --- 5000 acres as of oh-600 --- It's in Coyote Canyon where MVU and RRU meet, at the Riverside and San Diego County Line. Thought to possibly be lightning caused but that's officially "under investigation".

Yesterday there was a huge column. I heard the Lost Valley Boy Scout Camp was threatened. Didn't hear the update on that one...

Appx 760 personnel on it:
10 single resource Type 1 crews plus 17 strike teams; 2 Type 2 crews; 6 Type 1 and 13 type 2 helicopters; 6 single resource engines and 5 engine strike teams; 5 single resource dozers and 1 dozer strike team; 9 water tenders; 6 overhead; 2 camp crews; 1 helitanker, and 7 fixed wing aircraft.

About 100 residences are threatened.

Be safe everyone, this could go much bigger.

Also check the R5 SoCal News and Notes for firefighter updates on going incidents. This is accessible thru the Links page under News, third from the top under regional GACCs. Good News and Notes site on the SW, too. Ab.
7/17 From Another Firescribe:

For info on the Kinishba Fire, here's another local newspaper / website resource, White Mountain Independent Central:
with some photos

Past articles:
www.wmicentral.com 7/15
www.wmicentral.com 7/14

Ab note to those following the fire: remember to check the links on the 2003 fires on the web page.

7/16 I expected to see a lot more discussion on the subject of the best and the worst when I saw the question poised today. Maybe it will be a topic of concern tomorrow along with the growing incidents in the various regions.

How do you answer this question? I was fortunate enough (or dumb enough, depends on how you look at it) to stay in the shot game long enough (14 seasons) to say that I had the opportunity to have either worked on the same fire or on the same division with all sixty five Type I crews at some point or another. Who were the best and who needed work? Every crew has down years where they might struggle a bit to keep up their rep. Changes in overhead, poor choices for new folks, loss of the folks on the crew that were its backbone (every crew has them), management directed hiring/micromanagement from the host unit, or a devastating accident or internal problems. Most crews don't do well when subjected to an internal investigation. I could go on with numerous other things but I won't. The point I am getting at is that internal and external factors have quite a bit to do with how good a crew is. Yes, there are still crews out there that are consistently great at everything they do and a couple that were and are consistently bad. There is no real way to answer this question.

Now, with that said, when I was still in the shot world, there were crews that were fantastic to work with and others that didn't rate. My old crew spent a lot of time with the Flathead, Bitterroot, Union, LaGrande, St. Joe, Wyoming, Sawtooth, Boise, and Baker River and had a great time. Midway through my career we always hoped to get a leapfrog line digging assignment with the Chief Mountain because those guys could move some serious dirt.

Alpine and Negrito (pc Gila now) were fun to work with also. Crews that were down in one year were outstanding the next. Also during my career most districts still had BD crews that would give most shot crews a serious run for production and flat outdo them in mop-up and waterhandling.

Enough rambling. As I have moved away from the shot world and on to bigger and better things (NEPA is not better then coyote tactics: don't believe anyone who tells you it is), I have had the opportunity to work with some of the new crews and have enjoyed my experiences. We still get the job done (or at least as much as we can get done with all the regulations, short shifts, etc, that we have to endure. I still have a problem with a timekeeper telling me I am too tired to keep working.)

Have to add one last thing. Went to Alberta many years ago with several other Type I crews. On that incident I witnessed the worst performance from a shot crew I had/have ever seen. All because of the sup and their attitude.

Stay safe out there. You folks will be up here in my neck of the woods shortly. hope to see you on the big one.

To the LP: Hang tough, the storm will pass.

7/16 ROSS

I've heard alot of discussion recently about the ROSS program and there seems to be a common theme that keeps coming up: it is too slow to handle initial attack. I find this interesting because the ROSS program was never designed to be used for initial attack. If you ask any ROSS helpdesk employee, they will tell you the same thing. ROSS was only designed as a support tool to be used to forward orders to NICC and other GACCs. So my question is: why are so many dispatch centers out there attempting to use this program for something it was never designed for?

My suggestion for those of you struggling with this program: keep everything on hard copy resource order forms and only input into ROSS those positions/resources that need to be filled outside of your local dispatch area (and beyond the initial attack phase of your incident).

Like many other dispatchers out there, I had hoped that ROSS would become a tool we could use to database all of our resources that respond to an incident. However, this is not realistic since the program cannot handling resource ordering for initial attack incidents. In fact, in at least one region that I know of, the GACC has forbidden the use of ROSS for initial attack incidents. Having said that, our dispatch office will continue to use paper resource orders and, as suggested by R3 Dispatcher, will follow up with the order in ROSS as time allows.

- IA Dispatcher
7/16 I'm not going to repeat all of the other Hotshot crews already
mentioned by the others on here, but another shot crew I have
worked with on fires that seemed to work together very well as
a team and I would love to work alongside again is the Midnight
Suns out of Alaska.

7/16 Re: Woah FBA2,

My I quote a famous duo, "Thanks for your support" Bartles & Jaymes.

7/16 My (Current) Top 5 Shot Crews, in no particular order:

R4: Sawtooth
R5: Arrowhead
R1: Idaho Panhandle
R6: LaGrande
R3: Carson

Historical top 5:
Lolo, St. Joe, Stanislaus, Boise, Negrito

7/16 As far as husbands/wives left behind --

I don't think he's gonna want to hear this, but here it is anyhow. For YEARS and YEARS and YEARS I was the one left behind. My husband came home when our first child was 3 months old. I guess I was kind of a rag during all those years, but there were the kids, working in fire, running the homefront, being married to a SMJ, etc.

In the last 10 years though, the tables were switched, I was on a team, so we had our own "rotation" -- Talk about H--- to pay when I was gone!! I don't think he missed me (for those of you who DO know me, that is understandable) -- but what he was missing -- was being "left out." I was "out" and he was desk and house bound -- IT WAS A VERY HARD TRANSITION for someone who had always gone, and was caught by fire. I think it's a pretty ugly situation at times, and it takes a darned good patient person of either gender to keep on going.

My suggestion is to just keep busy, get on with lots of things you'd like to accomplish when you have some of that precious time alone -- and also be happy at this point, that you don't have young uns around.

Jealousy can really skyrocket -- not meaning "sexually" in my case -- but in "getting" to see the fire family and friends vs. the same old tired crowd at home.........I know alot of other people that feel the same way. At times it's a pick your poison situation......I know this is really "positive" help -- but that's the way it is folks.

De-Throned (aka Cache Queen)
7/16 The crews that I have worked with that I would take any day because of their work ethic and good attitudes, not in any particular order.

Fort Apache

More than just the work they did but also how easy they were to work with, no fuss, no whining, no better than thou attitude, in general a pleasure to work with.

While not a shot crew I always found Sequoia Crew 2 a great crew for the same reasons.

7/16 My list of shot crews:

Black Mountain
Horseshoe Meadows
Sante Fe
Mormon Lake

Not really in any order but some I used to love working with. While we are on the subject of Hotshot crews, has anyone heard any scuttlebutt about on of the R-4 crews losing there type 1 status? I heard something about it on a fire but don't know anything else.

7/16 Hi Folks,

We don't hear too much from north of the border regarding their huge fires, and nothing about the small ones:

A large water bomber crashed Wednesday with two people aboard while fighting a forest fire near the eastern B.C. town of Cranbrook.

Capt. Alex Schenk of the Rescue Co-ordination Centre here said he was told the plane, a four-engine Lockheed Electra, may have exploded on impact.

Under those circumstances it's unlikely the crew survived, said Peter Murphy, acting regional manager for the federal Transportation Safety Board.

"It seems unlikely at this point, but I am not going to jump to that conclusion,'' said Murphy. "They have to confirm that.

"This is a very large aircraft and it cruises at a pretty good clip.''

Schenk said he'd been told by RCMP that the effort was a recovery operation, not a search-and-rescue effort. But a Cranbrook RCMP spokesman said he could not confirm Schenk's information nor whether the crew had been killed.

Murphy said the crash apparently happened just after the plane dumped a load of flame-retardant materials.


Condolences for the losses. Ab.
7/16 Here is my vote for a hotshot crew that is definitely there weight in gold. Boise Hotshots and pardon me for the R4 bias. I also see that the Ruby Mountain hotshots work very hard.

These are my two Votes

1. Boise hotshots
2. Ruby Mountain hotshots.

there are more but these are the two that come to mind in 2003!

7/16 The Hotshot crews I thought were the best, however there are more than just
five but these crews are easy to work with, very top notch crews who know how
to get the job done

1 Los Padres IHC
2 Plumas IHC
3 Black Mountain IHC
4 Pike IHC
5 Entiat IHC

7/16 Just put this post up on familysaid. Any comments from husbands/ wives out there? Ab.

I'm a FS employee & went out years ago in support positions so I understand
the excitement and adventure. I don't go out anymore, but my
daughter-in-law is now part of a type 1 team and goes out alot. My son is
having a tough time understanding and dealing with this... he's not a govt.

A good friend of mine told me about your website and I think it's
a wonderful idea, however I didn't see any notes from husbands left behind.
Do you ever get mail from the men who stay at home and deal with the every
day regime? I'd like to tell my son about this, but don't know if he could
relate so well to the women taking care of kids (no kids here). He loves
his wife and wants her to be happy, but he's feeling very left out. Any

7/16 The Jobs Page, wildland firefighter Series 462 and Series 455 were updated yesterday.

Also got the Links to 2003 Fires on the Web updated. The web information on fires has ballooned overnight. I think we are in fire season, Folks.

Be safe,
7/16 OD,

I don't know much but I have heard some good things about the Logan Hotshots. Apparently they were part of the Russian exchange program. I also have to nominate the Gila Hotshots because I have a friend who is a Gila Shot. Additionally, I know my boss thinks pretty highly of Richard Tingle, the Super for the Santa Fe Hotshots. So those are my nominations for top Hotshot Crews.

Logan IHC
Gila IHC
Santa Fe IHC

7/16 To AZTrailblazer and everybody else out there right now:

Wishing you high humidities, cool temperatures, light winds,
good food, easy sleeping and lots of low-stress overtime.

Be safe, and know we’re wishing you well.

Nerd on the Fireline
7/16 OD-

Here's the 5 hotshot crews I want on MY division:

1. Los Padres
2. Plumas
3. Arrowhead
4. Bear Divide
5. Horseshoe Meadow
Pardon the R5 bias.

7/16 Ab,

I see that Mellie has already sent the message to you that the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program website is finally up. We are all very happy to have it up and running and hope that apprentices and others will find it useful. I would love to get some feedback from people letting me know what they think of it, if they can find what they need, things they think are missing, etc. (my e-mail is on the front page)

7/16 Hey SoCal Firefighters,

Riverside County and CDF are moving resources
-- inmate crew, engines (6 plus strike team of eng),
dozer, couple of watertenders -- into the area in
anticipation of the lightning over the next few days.
Good idea with all the bug kill we have.

Be safe
7/16 Kinishba Fire

“It’s going to be a Real Heads Up Day”

LOCATION: 3 miles west of Whiteriver, AZ, Fort Apache Indian Reservation

ACRES: 12,600+ CAUSE: Lightning CONTAINED: 10%

TODAY: Can expect plume dominance again today so crews will be on the alert for changing conditions. Crowning can be expected with flame lengths of 100 to 200 feet. The communities of Cradleboard, Over the Rainbow and Jurassic Park are still threatened by westward movement of the fire. Portions of Whiteriver and a major power line are also threatened.

WEATHER: Given the short-term predicted forecast we can expect to see substantial fire spread today. Thunder cell activity is expected to the north and west of the fire. Last night the National Weather Service could see the smoke column rise to 20,000 feet in the air. (Ab note: Go down to DMM's post from yesterday below and you can pull up the NOAA satellite image of that column. Takes a few minutes to download, but impressive.)

EVACUATIONS: Monday mandatory evacuations were ordered west of Hwy 73 including the communities of Jurassic Park, Whiteriver, Rainbow City, Over the Rainbow, and Chinatown as the fire crossed the trigger point established at the R16 Road. Approximately 5000 people are affected. Six evacuation centers have been established on the reservation.

The evacuation trigger point for Pinetop, Lakeside, McNary and Hondah is the Little Round Top Mountain. The fire is still two air miles from the trigger point and that trigger point is approximately six miles from Pinetop, Lakeside, McNary and Hondah and the Rim.

PERSONNEL: Approximately 750 personnel are committed to the fire and more resources are on the way. An additional Type One Incident Management Team from Alaska has been ordered and will standby in the Show Low and Pinetop Lakeside area.

The fire website is www.fireground.com and the email address is kinishbafire@fireground.com

INCIDENT COMMAND POST LOCATION: Canyon Day Elementary School, Canyon Day, AZ
7/16 Resource info for the Kinishba at 1900 yesterday:
5 Type 1 (hotshot) Crews, 30 Type 2 Crews,
2 Heavy Helos, 2 Type 2 Helos,
18 engines,
14 dozers,
11 watertenders,
133 overhead,
Total personnel = 915

Note the continuing fire weather thunderstorm warning on the Chamber of Commerce website. We need to be careful. More variable winds connected with thunder cells are expected.

7/16 More sites with info on the Kinishba Fire. These are listed on our Links to the 2003 Fires on the Web, at the top of this table. Ab.
Official Kinishba Fire Site
Pinetop Fire Dept
White Mountain Online
Pinetop/Lakeside Chamber of Commerce
7/16 From Lobotomy, BDF/CNF Weather Watch - Southern California:

WWUS86 KSGX 151605

900 AM PDT TUE JUL 15 2003






7/16 FBI2 & FWA, Point taken. Don't mean to run anyone
down. Been there too often and I guess Im getting cranky
in my old days.

Be safe out there gang
7/16 Hi Ab and All,

This isn't fire but LEO often helps out on fire incidents.
Do you know how I might go about getting instructions
on how to write a US Forest Service resume for a Law
Enforcement Officer position? Or how I might get a
copy of one to use as an example?

Thank you very much.
Sincerely, Forrest
7/15 SoCal CDF, Ab,

It's called the Robb Fire, 2,196 acres as of 1800 hrs burning in brush tall grass, manzanita, scattered timber. Hefner's Type II team is in charge.

The 209 says that the fire is burning on the edge of Reno. It's burning in a high visibility esthetic area for the entire city of Reno on a site that has watershed and recreation value. There's potential for loss of 100 residences. There are public safety issues with residents and locals driving into the fire area on numerous one-way, dead-end roads. Gradient winds are hampering firefighting effort.

The fire is 90% contained. Any spread would not be good. Communications towers will be threatened if fire escapes and runs uphill; subdivisions will be threatened if fire spreads laterally to the east and south.

NV coyote
7/15 Anyone know anything about a 1500+ acre fire near Reno
that Fox news says has burned 150 homes? Wow, if true. Could
the announcer have made a mistake and meant 150 homes
threatened??? This one definitely goes in the RUMOR


The announcer must have misspoken. Look at this article: www.rgj.com. Ab.
7/15 Tahoe Terrie

Based on the info I have and been hearing, Alaska is first
out (07-10 thru 07-17). Don't know of any SOCAL team
heading this way.

Also, Larry's team just came off the Aspen about 10 days
ago, yesterday they transitioned to the Kinishba, so his team
is fresh.

Van Bateman no longer running a type 1 team this year,
he's runn'in type 2 team out of Flagstaff Zone (FLZ). Heard
the rumor that he made the comment about Type 2 teams
have more fun.........hmmmm?!?

Not too many AT buzz'in the line. With the smoke (plumes)
and the storms bumping up against the fire, visibility was
absolute dog sh*t. Most of the work was done with the heli-tankers.

Our 'beloved' Gov Jan declared a state of emergency for
Navajo and Gila county's. Going after FEMA $ maybe.

sleep, I need sleep!!

Stay safe brothers and sisters!
AZ Trailblazer
7/15 Reminder to ALL:

The House is set to consider HR 2691, the FY 04 Interior Appropriations Bill. This Bill, as reported out of the House Appropriations Committee, currently contains language, in Section 335, which prohibits expenditure of funds for Competitive Sourcing. Some very heavy hitters are already busy lobbying hard to get this language thrown out of the bill. We can't afford to let that happen.

The full House is scheduled to vote on this bill on Thursday morning, July 17. It is critical that we contact our Congressmen in the districts where we live and work, no later than Thursday morning, and let them know we need them to support the language as currently written.

Please take the time to either
fax a letter to your Congressman
, or
personally call your Congressman
, to seek their support on this issue.

You can get contact info for your House Rep at www.house.gov.

- GT

For the full information on talking points and sample letter check HERE. Ab.
7/15 Kinishba Fire

I noticed that the two articles from today about the fire mentioned that a Southern California Type I Team has been called. We just sent our Alaska Type I Team this morning, so what's up with that?

7/15 Ab,

Does anyone know which socal type I team is going to the Kinishba Fire? I looked at the national rotation and it looks like the Alaska team (Dash?) went yesterday. Why would they need a second Type I team standing by right now? Maybe Bateman's team is coming up on 14 days and rotating out. It did look like today was the end of the 2 week cycle.

Anyone know if the smoke let up so the many ATs that were there could drop on the fire? I heard it was veeery smoky.

Be safe.
Tahoe Terrie (chomping at the bit)
7/15 Kinishba Fire update

ACRES: 9800+

TODAY: The fire burned very aggressively today due to thunder cell development over the fire. Also the fire produced a significant plume today but it did not collapse due to the wind produced by the thunderstorm activity. The fire slopped over lines on the southwest side of the fire and has moved into the Kinishba Ruins area and with some spotting into the Big Canyon area. Crews had to be pulled to designated safe zones this morning on the south west side and crews were pulled off the line completely this afternoon. There was very little spread to the north today. There was some moisture received this afternoon on the north side of the fire and down hwy 73 to Whiteriver.

PERSONNEL: Approximately 750 personnel are committed to the fire and more resources are on the way. An additional Type One Incident Management Team from Southern California has been ordered and will standby in the Show Low and Pinetop Lakeside area.

Note: Ab included only that info which is different from the update at 1300 today.
7/15 I’ve heard tell that the Tahoe Shots can cut an impressive line…

I played rugby a bit myself…casually ‘cuz I get claustrophobic in a scrum and tend to resort to moves illegal even on a rugger pitch. As far as where I’m going when they send out the last page tone…eh, nobody’s ever had any doubt about that one. Just let me take my tool with me, and it’s all good.

Nerd on the Fireline

New definition of Hell? Going where-ever without yer tool? Ab.
7/15 Emily, take a look at the plume in Arizona.

Go to this NOAA website. You or your dad set the controls on Show an "Animation" (default is single image) and Quality: "100%" (default is 55%). Then click Arizona on the map to view it close up. (Don't click the large blue "Animate image below" button. You don't want the whole USA, just the Southwest.)

It takes a few moments to load.

Look at the column in the eastern and central part of the state. See how high it goes into the atmosphere? Fire weather.

And then take a look at thunderstorm (lightning/dry lightning) activity on top of that. www.lightningstorm.com

Heads up!
7/15 L. A. V. E.

It is my understanding FF's/Rugbyites do not go to heaven. Instead, they are allowed to drink a couple of tall, foamy ones and are sent to the other place to try to put out the fire.

It is possible I am wrong.......


Not only are they sent, they willingly go, especially the ones with the highest scores. Ab.
7/15 Here's a question. We all know there are a few Hotshot crews out there (I won't name names) that have earned a bad reputation and are considered less than shining examples of Hotshots. But if we were to name the BEST of the Hotshot crews (the top 5 or 10) at this point in time, what crews would folks be nominating?

7/15 Hey danfromord,

Go back to 7/12, where FBI 2 answers MG, and you will see where FBI 2 compliments vollies. We all know and understand that the fire industry relies heavily on volunteers, and for their time, we're thankful. These comments had nothing to do with volunteers- they were directed at federal fire management. We're still wondering why they continually insist on using less qualified personnel and equipment, when there are crash rescue trucks available. Yes, I think we'd all agree that there are a lot of well-qualified vollies, but you have to admit they're few and far between when it comes to crash rescue.

7/15 My dad said I should ask. Why is plume dominated behavior make the fire so dangerous?


Fires become plume-dominated when they get big enough to create their own fire weather.

Think of it this way. In the southwest deserts, the wind often blows. If you live there, you know that. It may blow strong and throw up dust, but it usually blows in one direction and then gradually shifts around to another direction over time. When a fire burns under a wind condition, the wind pushes the fire and the sparks like dust. We say it is "wind-driven". The fire is responding to another force of nature, the wind.

Under wind-driven conditions, firefighters may have some idea of the fire's direction of movement (say from the SW) and how fast it will move or spread. Sometimes spread can be very fast indeed, if wind speed is high. Firefighters can usually predict which direction is the "front end" of the fire (the head); they can stay out of its way. They often work on the sides (flanks) or on the back (heel) of the fire because it is safer. Sometimes they work way out in front of the head, but only when it is safe.

What is a plume-driven fire? When a fire gets BIG and HOT, heat from the fire rises and massive amounts of heat from the fire create a column of smoke or a "plume". It looks like a huge gray thunderhead forming high above the fire. It's technical name is "pyro-cumulous cloud". The fire is making its own weather, sometimes way out into the earth's atmosphere.

Under one of these plumes, the fire's movement becomes more unpredictable. This is because the heat in the top of the cloud eventually cools. Then the air falls. We say it collapses. This makes shifting wind gusts at ground level. Fire can spread in all directions. The speed of the erratic winds may not be so high as in a wind-driven fire, but fire movement is very unpredictable. It may suddenly not be clear which direction is the "front end" of the fire. The fire may even have different "heads" as the fire spots and moves in different directions all at once.

Such unpredictable fire is much more dangerous for firefighters. They must be extra careful. The incident commander (the Boss) may even make them get far away from all edges of the fire to keep them safe until conditions change for the better. This happened in the Rodeo-Chedeski and the Hayman fires last summer.

When a thunderstorm comes through, fire conditions are also dangerous, with strong and erratic winds. We'll leave that for another time.

You FBANs out there, got any additional comments? Ab.
7/15 This just came in:

Kinishba Fire – Fort Apache Indian Reservation, 3 miles west of Whiteriver, AZ
Information Office: 928-338-4406 Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 12:41:14 PM
Fire Website www.fireground.com

ACRES: 6800+ CAUSE: Lightening CONTAINED: 0%

FUELS: Fire is burning in heavy brush, and a mixture of ponderosa pine, pinyon juniper and chaparral.

EVACUATIONS: Mandatory evacuations were ordered west of Hwy 73 including the communities of Jurassic Park, Whiteriver, Rainbow City, Over the Rainbow, and Chinatown as the fire crossed the trigger point established at the R16 Road. Approximately 5000 people are affected. Apache County will be coordinating security for the evacuation areas. Six evacuation centers have been established on the reservation.

The evacuation trigger point for Pinetop, Lakeside, McNary and Hondah has been pushed back to Little Round Top Mountain. The fire is two air miles from the trigger point and that trigger point is approximately six miles from Pinetop, Lakeside, McNary and Hondah.

PERSONNEL: 417 committed to the fire and more resources are on the way. An additional Type One Incident Management Team from Southern California has been ordered and will standby in the Show Low and Pinetop Lakeside area.

TODAY: Active burning is expected with plume dominance in combination with dry thunderstorm activity that will cause wide spread erratic winds. Seven air tankers and two heavy helicopters are working the flanks as well as dozers and hand crews. Structure protection units are in place throughout the area.

INCIDENT COMMAND POST LOCATION: Canyon Day Elementary School, Canyon Day, AZ
7/15 Hey Gang,

from the line of the Kinishba (Apache for little brown house) fire located on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation @ 1200

fire is 6500+ acres 0% contained.
5000+ tribal members evacuated
unknown as to how many are staying home

Larry's type 1 team in command, but Mother Nature in control
crews have been pulled off line on north west due to extreme fire behavior and plume domination
Div A-T holding. Keeping fire from crossing HWY 73. Fire is 1/2 mile from Whiteriver Hospital 1/4 mile from Hwy 73. Attempting to keep fire from Big Canyon (Div A-C)

Evac benchmark for Hon 'Dah, Lakeside/Pinetope has moved from Round Point Mountain to Little Round Point Mountain (approx 3-4 miles south of Hon 'Dah)

Poor RH recovery overnight with VERY active fire behavior noted approx 0300 hrs today.
Friends in Pinetop reporting dry lighting storm just north of town.

And on a lighter note.............can't seem to find enough foam for my strike team!!

Phoenix Fire is sending 3 and 1 assignment to the mountain (Showlow-Lakeside-Pinetope) to help out on covering stations and responding to local emergencies. This includes 3 type 1 engines, 1 ladder truck, 1utility/air, 3 als rescue ambulances, 3 type 6 brush engines, one water tender, and a Batt Chief (Task Force Leader)

below listed web sites have good updated info

We miss you Rick Lupe!! We need your guidance and leadership more than ever!!!

AZ Trailblazer

ps. thanks Pauly for the use of your computer and sat-com!!

Rick Lupe Donation Fund info Ab.
7/15 Everyone,

I followed the "environment and fire" debate a week or so ago with great interest but made no comment. I wish sometimes that politicians, environmentalists, loggers et al could step out of politics and their hardened cynical positions and just talk reasonably.

Yesterday I was looking something up and came across this MSNBC trio of reports on a link from the Colville National Forest in Washington. There are some good descriptions of the opposing perspectives and several little animated graphics that show fire and fuels on the land. Click on the woodland slope image in the first two articles.

Man's meddling worsens wildfires
Major changes on the land
Where fire and money meet

Let's hear a big round of applause for the FUM Teams!

Let me take a moment to get in a plug for a very fine and comprehensive book that deals with preparing for wildfire on the interface and preparing your family -- Living With Wildfires by Janet Arrowood. In addition to providing first hand stories from the Hayman Fire of 2002, Janet goes through every consideration homeowners should address from insurance coverage, to designing your space and other prevention issues, to preparation with children and pets, to evacuation. Included are a glossary of terms, websites (webliography), and a bibliography. Mike Apicello (hi Mike) wrote the "Afterword" and says, "This book is based on common sense, experience, and science - it is written for the purpose of reducing risks to homes by making them and the landscape around them more survivable when a wildfire does pass through." Besides detailing how to create a firewise space and get insured, I think the most valuable part of Janet's book is the checklist for evacuation and the thought she's put into insuring safety of your family (and pets).

This summer with the low ERCs, drought and beetle killed forests, and high density WUI residences, more people than ever are at risk from catastrophic fire. Firefighters everywhere should be recommending this book to those living on the WUI. You should read it yourself if you live in the woods. I give it Five Chainsaws!


Ab put your review on the Book Review Page.
7/15 FireBill and Sunil R,

Yea, I R one too, rugby player that is. Just a point of trivia two of the three F.D.N.Y. firefighters in the famous flag photo are ruggers also. The mind set (or as some say, lack of a mind) of a rugby player works well as a firefighter and vice versa. Also another point of trivia, one of the guys on the flight that went down in Penn. was, yea you guessed it, a rugby player. When I die and go to heaven there is a large green rugby pitch right next to the fire house and a bar across the street with Guniness on tap!

This one is from Missoula Rugby Club, "the lower the #, the higher the I.Q.", if you played rugby you will know! It's great to see I'm not the only one.

Retired L.A.V.E. - old boy rugger.
7/15 Ab,

This Saturday, July 19th, 2003, at 2 PM, a memorial to Gordon Knight, Rick
Schwartz and Milt Stollack is being dedicated at Big Elk Meadows Colorado.
(see attached picture). Gordon was the helicopter pilot who died, and Rick
and Milt were the pilots of tanker 123 who died, in the crashes on the Big
Elk fire here last year. Anyone who is in the area is invited to attend. If
you need directions you can email me at jfelix@firecache.com. There is also
a memorial at the Lion's Gulch trail head near where tanker 123 went down.


Thanks Jim. I put them on the Misc 2 Photo page as well. Ab.
7/15 Ben Campbell's response to fire use is typical of the environmental
NIMBYism that so prevalent in the fire management debate. Everybody
supports wilderness fire use as a concept. Nobody wants one near them or
in their favorite vacation spot.

7/15 FireBill,
I played breakaway, and fought fires for ten summers. One of the jumpers I knew at Boise jumped there and at Missoula, and played lock. I was done with rugby by the time I started jumping (torn right rotater cuff) and ended up with a dislocated left shoulder on my last jump and a partially-torn ACL from the previous season. I finished off the ACL a couple of years ago, and had it repaired in 2001. I'm now a sedentary desk worker, I run occasionally, and have never rehabbed the left shoulder. Haven't played real rugby since '91, and my last game of touch rugby was in '92.

Sometimes I dream I'm playing, and in the good dreams I can cut and am happy to put my shoulder into someone. In the bad ones, well, I play like I probably would in real life.

What were you? Prop? Hooker?

Sunil R

Ab would be willing to put you two in touch with each other so you can have the Rugby discussion.
7/15 Ab, here's a minute by minute log and description of the first hours
of the Aspen Fire. Events move quickly. I hope everyone cultivates
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS even as we arrive on an incident.

Tahoe Terrie
7/15 Hi Al and all

Yes the Eric Hall Memorial Interagency Drill was great fun, with a lot learnt, techniques polished, and areas of improvement identified. Unfortunately we were stuck with No Burn Days both days, and everybody wanted to have a live burn, unfortunately Lake Shastina Fire Dept. didn't want THAT type of live fire exercise (fire on the engine).

As the Siskiyou Daily News site stories are replace daily, the story is that LSFD had a flooded carburetor on their auxiliary pump (situated right behind the cab) that caught fire, which really got their attention. No major damage done. A copy of the news article attached to their next FEMA grant application should help them greatly.

Also before Bashing the Vollies, look at your station and imagine what it would look like on an annual budget of $30,000 and by the way you also need a Type 1 (pavement queen) engine and water tender in the barn so that the communities insurance rates aren't sky high. You also have a job, (usually) a family as well as being on call 24/ 7/ 365. Some VFD's in Siskiyou County operate off donations, one year our dept was so short of cash we were personally buying gas to put in the engines.


PS was great to see the CDF Unit Chief out talking to everybody, not just his own engines. Small actions like that go a long way to fostering good relations.
7/15 I heard a rumor that the Fort Apache Indian Reservation is
being evacuated. Anyone know if thats true?

Watching the fire far from home.

Sounds like it. www.kpvi.com Found it on the Fire News page (link in header of this page) under Wildfires. Ab.
7/15 As the flames are fanned in our newest AZ fire, the Kinishba Fire, we pause to remember Rick Lupe, who died almost a month ago. May he rest in peace. My prayers are with his family.

The White Mountain Apache Tribe declared 30-day mourning period several days ago and most are off fighting the fire as I send this in.
"A fallen firefighter returns home. More than 500 wildland firefighters from the Fort Apache Agency escorted their departed co-worker and friend, along the final stretch to his home. The Fort Apache Hot Shots, consisting of former and current team members, led the escort."
Photo and article here: www.indiancountry.com

One of the Firescribes.
7/15 Ab, came across this website that has some CDF fire
photos. Thought some might be interested. Thanks to
you and contributors for making fire photos available
on this website for training and presentations.

Didn't realize there was an International Organization
of Fire Photography.

Also, I wanted to thank the vollies. Often they work
with old equipment and problems sometimes arise as
they did over the weekend.

7/15 From Firescribe - Fire Use Management:

Some questions about the advisability of allowing fire to burn
from nervous residents and their congressional rep:

Our fire use mgmt teams and where FUM fires are burning:
7/15 Those who have been around ANY dispatcher recently know the worries of ROSS.

Well some GACCs have quit, some half quit, others are managing the best way they know how... the key phrase right now is ..." Paper order, and chase with ROSS when we get a chance." Tankers are the most complex because of the limited number and how fast they move from one fire to another, especially during IA.

Four fires later you back track to find the last fire in ROSS and go from there three days later. Talk other dispatchers through the reassignment and releases over the phone.. the HELP DESK??? It is so backed UP they call you back !!!!!

SO order on paper, chase with ROSS....right now that seems to work....at lest in the air world.

Be safe out there "The SOUTHwest is burning again"

R3 Dispatcher
7/15 FireBill,

Thanks so much for your advice! Those are good suggestions. Much appreciated.
I actually played as a weak side wing one semester in college. But I wasn't really all that good . . .

7/14 Update on the Kinishba Fire:
It's a lightning caused fire that began yesterday around noon 3 miles west of Whiteriver, AZ in Ponderosa pine and chaparral fuels. As of 6 PM this evening, it's 3,800 acres and 0% contained. Humphrey's Type 1 team was called in. Multiple communities and infrastructure are threatened, some 700 structures are at risk and a major power line grid. Fuels are very dry; winds are variable (5-35 mph) and unpredictable. Convective cells from thunderstorms are complicating the situation. Temperature today was 87 and RH was 15. Tomorrow's forecst is similar. Cradleboard, Over the Rainbow, Jurassic Park, and Whiteriver north of the airport have been evacuated. Whiteriver, Fort Apache and a major power line grid are also threatened. Dozer lines are being constructed around Over the Rainbow. 417 personnel are working on the fire, including 2 Type-1 crews, 14 Type-2 crews, 2 Type-3 Helos, 5 engines, 4 dozers, 5 water tenders, and 58 overhead.

Heads up. No piece of ground is worth a life.
Southwest FF
7/14 OD-

Chronic joint injuries can become "life longers" but you're in a position to do something about it.

You mentioned "overusing" your quads... does that mean they got too strong in proportion to your hamstrings? Going to the Chiropractor is a good start, but you need to complete the circle and do some rehabilitative strengthening and flexibility work.

That may keep you from having to go back and get re-adjusted at the Chiropractor. Ask your Chiro for a Physical Therapy referral to get an evaluation and see how out of balance your quads and hamstrings are. I'm under Chiropractic care myself (for the pounding from both firefighting and playing the front row in rugby) and it's helped a great deal, but I believe in a team approach to rehabilitating and reconditioning any injury; be it work, sport, or recreation related.

Anybody else out there crazy enough to fight fire AND put on the other boots and get out on the rugby pitch?

Retain control at all times,

7/14 FBI2,

Amen brother! I bring 20 years of fire experience to my department. I've been a Hotshot, Engine Foreman, EMT, Squad boss, Crew Boss and am currently studying for my medic cert. My district as support the feds on several fires and I would put my guys and gals up there with the full timers any day. and they are all volunteers! I like what you had to say and would remind all the full timers "don't judge a book by its cover". things are heating up in the southwest, and that Engine holding your flank may just be manned by the Vollies.

Thanks for your comments
7/14 hey Gang,

here we go again! big fire KINISHBA, on the rez, 2100+ acres, plume domination most of the afternoon, lots of communities being evacuated.

I had to let one of my engineer/paramedics off from shift so she could get home and take care of preping her residence and get her kids to the evac site.

Heading out the door on this one. Hope to see everyone there! it's hot (114*) and no rain in our thunderboomers....ALL DRY LIGHTINING, lots of IA on the Rim!

Be safe!
AZ Trailblazer
7/14 Hey Ab,

The Large Fire Map that Firescribe mentioned has a feature (new, I think) that you can use if your browser is Internet Explorer. Click on any fire on the map and you can get more detailed information, including start date, cause, location, status, fuels, and if a team is managing it, which team. The info is from the current 209. Pretty impressive that interagency wildland fire is finally coming into its own on the internet with up-to-date, database-oriented info for firefighters and the public. The 209 is entered twice a day or once, so this is pretty much state of the art information. Kudos to the web people doing this and to the fire organization for making it happen.

Speaking of timely and useful info on the web, there's a new Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program website. The training center is located at the McClellan Facility, Sacramento, CA. www.wfap.net. Seems to me that the website will be helpful to unit managers tracking apprentices and to want-to-be apprentices learning the ropes and applying and to apprentices checking on their status.

Congratulations and THANKS FOR THE HARD WORK to Shirley Sutliff (R5 Apprenticeship Program Coordinator), Scott Whitmire (Assistant R5 Coordinator), Cara Sisley Scott (ENF) who created the site, Judy Stuart who is working on recruitment of apprentices, and Janet Brandt Jackson, and welcome to two new BLM people: Rick Roach (BLM Apprenticeship Program Coordinator) and Lois Cunha (BLM Assistant Coordinator).

On last note: My family and I are writing our congressman regarding maintaining the competitive sourcing ban. Hope some of you find the time to do that too. Strength in numbers.


Ab put a permanent link to it on the links page under training and education. We've been holding the space for that link and are glad it's up and running. Many questions come in here from aspiring wildland firefighters and it's nice to have a website to reference.
7/14 RE: GT's earlier post on outsourcing-it is shaping up to a major battle between OMB and anti-outsourcing forces in Congress.

GT is right about contacting your representative, there
are some pretty substantial interests arrayed in favor
of outsourcing.

See the article at www.govexec.com.

7/14 FireBill,

Here's one for you. I am 24 and this year I injured my hip. Overuse of my quads pulled my hips out of alignment and totally torqued them in opposite directions. I woke up on day and could walk because the pain in my left hip was so bad. Went to the chiropractor and got immediate relief. Saw him few more times and it holds up pretty well, but I have to go about once a month at least to have him put the ball back in the socket. Can't do full sit-ups anymore because they make my hip make this awful clunking sound that I can feel too. (I just substitute crunches instead.) My fear is that I have acquired one of those life-longers, the kind that will plague me for the rest of my life. I am told that joint injuries are pretty serious. Am I correct in this suspicion or is there hope? Any suggestions as to what I can do?

7/14 FBI2,

Maybe I'm being a little thin skinned about this but I just gotta say this,
Safety IS first.
except when bashing vollie F/F's. You may be correct when you say that the Vollies that covered the Helo base were not qualified but, did you ask them?

Too often we vollies get the bad rap from some (not all) of the paid folks that we are not qualified to do anything other than hold down our lawn chair. Most of the time this perception comes from the "more experienced" members of their crew. It's passed on down the line to the younger members of the crew and most of the time its considered the gospel. But, do they ever take the time to stop and ask those vollies about their qualifications, or their experience level. The answer seems to be, "not often enough".

Our Equipment may not be new and shiny but, It usually gets us there and when we save someones home from the fire, THEY DON'T CARE. We may not all be able to pass the pack test but when all the CDF equipment and personnel have been relieved off the line and are all sung and tucked into their motel room bed and we are asked to double over, WE DO IT. (this has happened more than once).

When our old and battered Engines do break down, we don't need to call ground support to get it running again, WE FIX IT OUR SELVES.

When the fire is running over hill and dale and someone needs to mop up the remainder of the line, WE DO IT.
When they need someone to go out to the local schools and talk with the local kids to calm their fears when they have friends that lost their homes, WE DO THAT TOO.

When someones home is on fire, sometimes the worst happens. We get injured, and sometimes we die. We volunteer to leave our families to help someone else, we leave our jobs (most of the time without compensation) to help someone else, we don't ask for much other that a little respect. Most of us are not out there for glory or kicks, we just like helping others that need our help.

You might be very surprised if you walked up to a bunch of volunteer firefighters and asked them what their level of training is, and what their level of experience is, and ask them what they do for a living. I've had the pleasure of fighting fire with many folks over my 20 yrs. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Lets all try to work as a team out there, our lives may depend on it.

7/14 From Firescribe:

Fires in the Pacific Northwest... Thunderstorms with dry
lightning in UT, CO, AZ over the weekend. Check the
Large Fire Map

I'd put in some news links, but you can read all about them
simply by checking articles on the Fire News page.
7/14 Hey FBI 2,

Good question!: "Would the federal and state fire agencies put non-red carded personnel on the fire line?" The answer is obviously NO!!

Through the research I've done the past few years, I've seen regular wildland engines on helibase duty / crash rescue, especially this year. Even as I'm typing this, there are numerous wildland and structural engines on helibase duty with no AFFF, no extrication tools, and no crash rescue training.

God forbid there would be a helicopter incident with just a brush truck on helibase duty, with ok, the AFFF that was provided for them but no extrication tools or training to deal with the problem. That would be a tragedy, and will someday come back to bite someone in the butt.

I know there are not enough crash rescue units to be at every helibase on every fire, but shouldn't management at least use the ones that ARE available?? Currently, there are crash rescue trucks waiting for dispatch and plenty of helicopters in the air. Why not use them?


7/14 Rocky Mtn.-

As a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) I've dealt with a bunch of ACL rehabs at all levels; weekend warriors, high school, college, and pro athletes, and even a couple of smoke eaters.

Your surgeon is probably optimistic because ACL repairs have are 100 times better than they were even 10 years ago. I'm sure you've explained to him/her the requirements of your job, but make sure you make it clear to your Rehabilitation Team as well.

Though you're out of the game for this fire season, here's some tips to make your rehab easier. 1) Rehab before surgery. The stronger your leg is before surgery, the faster it will come back. 2) You will get out of rehab what you put into it. Work hard and follow the directions of the Physical Therapist and Orthopedist. 3) 3 most important things in knee rehab; Range of Motion, Range of Motion, and RANGE of MOTION. Your Therapist will agree with me. 4) Attitude is everything.

I'll bet your back on the line next year, stronger than you would have been this year. Good luck.

Ab- please pass on my e-mail to Rocky Mtn. and I'd be glad to answer any ?'s.

While I'm on the subject, anyone see any value to having a Certified Athletic Trainer in the Med Unit at base camp?

See you out there,
7/14 Dammit, Jersey Boy, you got you me all choked up with that last one.

Steve K., I’m going to tell you the blow-by blow story of the fire I was on last week:

The page went out at about 16:30, and I was way up in back country so one crew had already got out to the thing by the time I hit the station, so I grabbed a soda and kicked back, looking at the scenery and listening to the reports on the radio. Kind of ticked ‘cuz they rolled without me, but it turned out the fire was actually about five square feet of smoldering manure, so I was also kind of glad I wasn’t there. It was hot, the engine bay where I was sitting was shady, my soda was cold, and I was enjoying the smell of last fire‘s smoke coming off my nomex when this nice little curl of smoke starts up on the ridge line I could see out the engine bay door. About three of us called it into dispatch about the same time, and we were rolling with everything we had mere minutes later ‘cuz that little smoke was getting bigger fast.

We got there just in time to set up as a road block, ‘cuz the air tanker and helicopter were coming in fast. It was awful satisfying watching these jerks who’d been complaining about the road block get that big-eyed look when they heard the noise slurry made slapping pavement (the fire’s origin was right on the edge of the pavement). Then I got to play medic for a bit because somehow we got three calls out of that one little road block…diabetic, cardiac, and asthmatic, oh my. The thing is, when you’ve got fresh slurry on your nomex it looks sort of like blood, so you stick your head in a car window and say “Can I help you, ma’am?” looking like you’d just recreated the Texas Chainsaw massacre. Note to self, next time, put down the Pulaski first, especially if it’s been slurried too.

Then the IC called for groundpounders. We threw a quick line around the burn area (after they dumped five slurry loads on three acres, there wasn’t much actual burning going on anymore), then got a saw team on the thing to reinforce the line; I was swamping, which means I was following the chainsaw around sorting what he’d cut into green (unburned, throw outside the line) and black (burned, burning, or partially burned, throw inside the line). After a couple hours of this, your tool and dolmar (gas can) feel like battleship anchors, your back hurts, but you get into this great rhythm, grab-look-throw, sensing where your sawyer’s gonna go next.

We wound up working into one of those long southwestern twilights, the temperature dropping nicely (from hell-fire hot to merely unpleasantly warm), with brief moments of grace when the saw would hit a burning cedar trunk and suddenly the air would smell like incense and suddenly you know why Big Ernie loves firefighters. Then a hackberry branch would hit you in the face and remind you that it’s best to stay humble anyway. We wrapped up mop-up (crawling around on your hands and knees with your gloves off looking for hot spots, lots of little minor burns on your hands, covered in soot and with seriously sore knees) about midnight and wound up back at our kindly little local café, which stayed open late for us.

The municipality bought us dinner and the waitress looked scared and we ate everything in sight. The jokes were going around fast and furious but not anything anybody outside our crew would have understood. All I have to say is #42 was asking for it when he brought up the feathers. Sitting there I found six or eight new bruises I hadn’t noticed ‘til then, and what looked like a blood stain on my shirt I still can’t explain. Wound up getting home about midnight and then having to be at work by seven the next morning and having remind myself that this is my real life, and fire is just something I do on the side. Sigh. Maybe next season…

Nerd on the Fireline
7/13 The Jobs Page, wildland firefighter Series 462 and Series 455 have been updated. Ab.
7/13 From Firescribe:

Fireline Leadership Development website
7/13 Joe

If You took those classes this year, all You have to do is
take the refresher next year, in the mean time you can always
try a contractor for this year . They look for fire fighters all

Good luck.
7/13 A-Silverback:

Maybe my last post wasn't clear: I am not against leadership courses per se. I agree with Nerd on the fireline that mentoring is a HUGE part of leadership training - especially in the fire world, where experience in different fire situations can make all the difference. I also think there is a wealth to be learned in classroom settings. But what I was trying to say is that simply taking classes or being mentored doesn't necessarily produce good leaders.

You bring up the service academies as an example - but those who are accepted go through a rigorous screening process that is tougher in many ways than applying to a regular college. You have to demonstrate that you have the ability to lead on your application. The service academies teach skills - but they teach them to those who have shown an ability to lead in the first place. The service academies don't take just anyone - they look for intelligent, physically fit, leaders - and make them into military officers.

My brother is an officer in the Marine Corps. He too was screened as an applicant for Officer Candidate School, and when he was there, some of his classmates washed out when they failed to demonstrate leadership skills.

I think the FS training for leaders is ok (can be improved), but their process for screening (and retaining) leaders isn't that great. I would be interested to see how the JACK program works - is it building leaders or just career employees? The best way is to develop an identification program, and train and mentor those folks to be leaders.

Steve K:
Here is the ugliness:

1. long, hot, boring shifts of mop up somewhere in the nevada desert. you have to touch the ground to feel for hot-spots, but at 115 degrees, everything seems hot. when you find a smoke, you've got to dig it out and put it to bed using...hot dirt.

2. more mres than you can bear to imagine. the "4 fingers of death" (beef franks) or the "meatpuck" (grilled beefsteak) are consistently voted the worst. (don't see the omelet anymore - thank god) beware of anything that has been "chunked and formed."

3. the stink of your feet as they slowly rot over the course of a summer. 2 weeks without a shower or shave - and even when you do get to shower, its three weeks after the season ends that you actually feel clean.

4. primitive sleeping conditions. try finding the most comfortable rock, or the place that lets in the least amount of rain.

5. mosquito in alaska, scorpions in nevada, snakes in new mexico.

6. digging 'till you feel like your arms are going to fall off. then realizing its noon, and your crew is trying to catch a fire and the shift could go on for another 30 hours. then being asked to take the chainsaw and clear a path through thick, dog-haired brush.

7. ending the day tired and waking up more tired. having a sore back, sore knees, sore fingertips, sore ribs, and sore feet for months on end.

8. having to deal with the same people, 24 hours a day for 6 months. you learn everything about everyone in the first week, and learn everything you hate about everyone in the second. 

9. being away from you family and friends for long periods of time. feeling guilty when you miss weddings or birthdays. sacrificing relationships to chase smokes around the country. hearing the stories of the great times had back home while you were away.

10. ending the season and saying good-bye to your teammates who have become your best friends and extended family - some of whom you may never see again. finding yourself packing your suitcase in the middle of the winter like you'd pack a war bag. looking at a drainage in spain or south america and wondering what it would look like if it was on fire. finding yourself wondering what your buddies are doing, and what the next fire season is going to be like...in november. hearing that there was a shelter deployment somewhere - and wondering if it was a crew you knew, and what went wrong. missing the digging, the mop-ups, the coffee fires, the sleeping bags, the comraderie, the smiles and waves of townfolks, the name of your pulaski, and the camp food that tastes like the best meal you've ever had after a week of mres.

11. and finally, knowing that all the things you hate about the job are secretly the things you love about it too.

7/13 Ab
I took s130/s190/i100 this spring but was never hired
and did not try for a red card. Does this mean i need to
retake the class again next year?

7/13 Rocky Mountain

sorry to hear about the knee. I worked as a ground pounder for about 6 years
and then blew out my ACL and tore both meniscuses. i had two surgeries and it
was a long hard rehab that took two years, only because i had to fight workers
comp to pay for the rehab. I had an excellent surgeon and physical therapists.
they told me it is typical to be out a year with this kind of injury. try to
get into a rehab program that is aggressive and build up those quads. Im fine
now, my knee is better then new and im in much better shape. don't be two
nervous and just keep focused and work hard and you will be back in no time at
all. one other tip i can give you is to wear your knee brace when you do stuff
like skiing and such, it will save you in the long run.

good luck
7/13 hi
my name rob
love your web site
i worked with the ccc in cailfornia. use pulaski a lot
i found one used in great shape
would you know the age of this one or the crews? 
true temper flint edge kelly work.
is a old one
should i still use it? still great tool to take on camping off road 
home get stage brush out
love this and the mc cloud.
thanks for time
keep this web site
i was in the corps california ccc
would of been cool to have seen this site
i was there 1989 
so thanks for your great work out in the forest
rob o
7/12 URGENT, Letters needed to keep the Competitive Sourcing Ban in place.


A number of people on your site have asked what they
can do about competitive sourcing. This is what.

Sec. 335 of the Interior Appropriations Bill reads: "None of the funds in this Act can be used to initiate any new competitive sourcing studies."

A July 10 GovExec article reads:
House Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., is planning to offer an amendment that would strike Section 335—which would halt funds for new job competitions at Interior and the Forest Service—from the bill, according to multiple sources... But David Marin, a Davis spokesman, said negotiations were still ongoing and that the Congressman might not offer the amendment. If Davis does not move to strike Section 335, other members of the House Republican leadership are expected to introduce an amendment that would scrap the provision.

In the next week or two, the House will either do its part to put the brakes on the FS’s flawed implementation of competitive sourcing, or else the House will drop this language and allow competitive sourcing to continue in the FS. Which one happens is up to you.

We must organize a massive letter writing campaign to keep Section 335 intact. We can do this if everyone pitches in. Here’s how we do it:

1) Forward this to everyone on your home email list.

2) Call your fellow employees whose email addresses you don’t have and ask for their address, then forward this to them. How many employees would help if they were asked? You won’t know until you ask.

3) Everyone receiving this must write a letter to his/her House Rep. A TEMPLATE LETTER and a series of TALKING POINTS are attached to help. Feel free to use other issues with which you are familiar as well. But remember: Because of the bipartisan nature of our support, it is crucial that your support be couched in bipartisan terms. We cannot afford to attack and alienate potential allies.

4) Go to www.house.gov and follow the instructions to get your House Rep’s fax number. If a fax number is not listed, a phone number will be. Call up and get the fax number. Fax your letter to your House Rep.

5) Call your House Rep’s phone number and ask for the staffer who deals with federal employee issues. Discuss your concerns with the staffer.

Remember: We must use do these activities on our own time using our own equipment.

There is nothing you can do right now that is more important than this. Let’s roll!

Hear! Hear! Excellent talking points. Readers and supporters, please take the time to do this. My extended family and I are. Remember that faxing is a good idea. Also send it snail mail. Nothing like a stack of papers to make the point. Ab.

7/13 Readers, this alert came in several days ago. Conditions in AZ and NM are extreme. Large Fire Map. Be safe. Ab.


The following information is provided for your information and as an alert so we will all exercise caution and safety regarding the current situation. The potential for extreme fire behavior at the present time is MUCH GREATER than it was in 2002. We are presently at record levels regarding extreme fire behavior potential.

Unless the southwest area receives significant rains in the near future, the potential for unprecedented fire behavior is enormous. At the present time, plume dominated fire behavior will be the most likely scenario based upon expected lower wind speeds.

There are 41 stations that SWCC records ERC output from. Of those 41 stations, 27 are above any previous ERC ever recorded for this date (7/11/03). Most of those are above the 97th percentile and some are "off the scale". Many of the hundred and thousand hour fuel readings are also at historic lows. When new record ERC’s, and record fuel moisture lows combine with the landscape level of dead standing material throughout the southwest the potential for extreme landscape scale fire as it currently exists is unprecedented. Please advise all field-going personnel of the current situation. The record readings are as follows:

Piney Hill > 97th percentile
Lakeside > 97th percentile
Alpine > 97th percentile
Columbine > 97th percentile
Muleshoe > 97th percentile
Rincon > 97th percentile
Saguaro = 97th percentile
Globe > 97th (off the scale)
Heber > 97th (off the scale)
Flagstaff > 97th percentile
Dry Park > 97th percentile
Tusayan > 97th percentile
Frazier Wells > 97th percentile
Iron Springs > 97th
Stanton > 97th
Union Pass > 97th

TEN HOUR FUEL MOISTURE IN ARIZONA (As of 7/11/03 @ 1330 hrs)
Flagstaff = 2%
Four Springs = 1%
Dry Park = 1%
Tusayan = 1%
Frazier Wells = 1%
Iron Sprs. = 2%
Heber = 1%
Payson = 2%
Pleasant Valley = 2%
Lakeside = 2%
Globe = 2%
Carr = 3%

Beaverhead > 97th percentile
Pelona > 90th percentile
Slaughter Mesa > 97th percentile
Grants > 97th percentile
Tower > 97th percentile
Jemez > 90th percentile
Albino > 97th percentile
Washington Pass > 97th percentile

Brushy Mountain
Ron Moody

7/11/03 @ 1300 hours

7/12 Dear Ab/s:

Anybody personally gone through an ACL and meniscus tear that
could give me a groundpounder's viewpoint of what kind of down
time am I looking at ? I am slated for surgery tentatively next week
and the surgeon seems optimistic to the point where it makes me
nervous. I don't think they understand how much you need your
knees in this gig...........

Rocky Mountain

(ACL=anterior cruciate ligament of the knee)
7/12 FBI2

In reference to your question regarding crash/fire rescue, the IHOG has some fairly good thoughts/standards on the subject. It is usually up to the helibase manager/ air attack supervisor to follow up with the plan. The IHOG will basically walk you through all of the requirements of running a helibase. Any helibase that is running more than 3 helo's should have a "crash truck" assigned to it. Don't know much about tanker bases, but most that I have been near usually have a local fire department attached to it.

One thing that I will suggest (speaking that I am ARFF certified and work part time as a division chief/paramedic with a private company who provides crash rescue services on helibases) is that one of the big selling points of doing crash rescue at helibases is that you clearly identify with the helibase manager that you are certified in the matter. It also helps if you show up with AFFF/ATC foam, Purple K extinguishers, and the typical silver crash turn out gear. Also, your crash crew MUST be certified structural firefighters due to the fact that they will be donning SCBAs. Working part time with this private company who specializes in crash rescue on wildland fires, I only hire firefighters who are either state or nationally certified as structural firefighters, carry a current red card (with completed task books, pack test, and physicals) and have at least a national EMT cert. or higher (we also carry ALS gear and have paramedics on our crash engine) and have gone through the 80 hour airport firefighter training program. Also, just like refresher training for EMT, wildland, and the yearly red card, my folks are also required to attend a 8 hour airport firefighter refresher training class. This is how we (as a private contractor) get the business and keep everyone safe. I also offer copies of our company's training records to helibase managers or ATGS for our local IMS teams should they request it for review. We are very honest with the folks/teams we work with and want them to know what they are getting for their $. We are also the cheapest crash rescue service (cost) in the region for what we provide.

One other thing, when we show up on an incident (usually 3 helo or more) we actively get involved in the helibase management (as far as on-base emergencies) and assist with the crash/rescue and medical evac plan. Being that all of my folks are well qualified and very experienced with this sort of scenario, all of the helibase managers have been very happy with our assistance. This helps of course when we get reassigned to another incident and the same team shows up a day/week later!

On the contrary, as a alternate MEDL on a local type 2 team and a helo flight paramedic in the winter, I get a little uneasy when I show up to a helibase and see that the only provisions that have been made are the 20lb fire extinguisher and crash kit/extrication kit sitting 20 feet in front of the helo pad or that the crash crew is a local type 6 with 2-3 "young" kids sleeping in the truck or under the yellow tarp! And the fire is flying 14 medium or heavy ships! ewooh!

AZ Trailblazer
7/12 Loved FB2's question

As a VF department that has the gear, the training (ARFF), the experience and airports in our jurisdiction. We don't even get the courtesy of a phone call when they open our tanker base, so that we can set up for an event. We even bought a crash truck, but sold it due to lack of use (and safety compliance).

Maybe they are saving money, but it still requires 2 people to deliver 8 packed lunches

7/12 Steve K.
There are many excellent books in the books section of this site!
(www.wildlandfire.com/books/books.php) My personal favorite is
"Memorable Forest Fires" along with "Smokechaser" which both tell tales of
years past ( from the early 1900's up to the 70's). There's a ton more there
that have been rated by the followers of this board. ..and if ya buy through
the links on the book page you are helping to support this site!

...pssst..hey Ab, do I get brownie points fer that??

Dream on, what'cha want the purple pulaski award? Ab.
7/12 May I please have contact information for T. Jefferson?

Thank You,
Just Wondering.
7/12 MG

I have Been in Airport and helibase crash/rescue for 20 yr. and
now I have a Company that does helibase crash/rescue.

What happens is they put Vol. FF or wildland engines
protecting the helibase that are not crash /rescue trained or
equipped to do the job.

The safety of the Helibase and the personnel should be #1.

The Vol.FF and wildland engine crews are great group of people
but crash/rescue is a specialized field and safety is job 1.

7/12 --> JS,

It sure will be interesting to see the interagency response to the Applegate Watershed fire in terms of using local resources.

-->A. Silverback

Another great resource for leadership building within organizations is "Reclaiming Higher Ground: Creating organizations that inspire the soul" by Lance H. K. Secretan.

I would add that developing personal, as well as organizational, leadership skills necessarily takes courage and tenacity, in addition to establishing solid, trusting mentorship relationships and peer networking. These relationships become very important when you get kicked in the teeth for taking a stand. It's difficult sometimes to talk through bloodied, swollen lips and it helps to have folks around who already know the score, who'll continue to give you encouragement...and buy you a beer.

Good leaders are the one's who realize all the answers haven't already been found. They're the one's willing to listen to the people they're supposed to be leading. They also recognize the value of the journey:
"Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor emerges and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." ...-John Steinbeck
Hmm. Sounds alot like life in the realm of a project fire to me.

Fire Momma
7/12 Dear Ab-

First off, i really like the website you have for firefighting, it is a great resource, especially for someone like me who wants to find out more about firefighting. I have been trying to find out more information about firefighting in general. Im a college student right now, majoring in astronomy/physics, and got interested in firefighting last summer at boy scout camp where i worked for a summer. (i am an eagle scout). The camp ranger is a volunteer firefighter and told me about some of the stuff involved, and well im trying to get onto a department, or if nothing else find out more information. But i am also interested in doing wildland firefighting, (especially since i hope to go to grad school in AZ or CA).

What i really want to know is more of the stuff, like "war stories," you know, the good of the job, the bad, and the just plain ugly. For example, it is one thing for the military to show you a bunch of TV ads where all the marines look sharp in their uniforms, get the girl, all that jazz... it is a totally different story to see the reality: the poor guy in a foxhole, with his friend whose face was just shot off, bombs going off around him... what the military really is (in combat anyways). In the same way, i see that with firefighting (in general), so i guess i just want to know what are some of the good things, the bad things, and really shitty stuff. And also any general advice about what to expect in firefighting, whether "domestic" or wildland.

thank you for your time, i really appreciate it!

Steve K

So, more like REALITY CHECK, rather than eXtrEme Sport? Ab.
7/12 FBI 2

Good question in the Helibase/spot crash rescue.

I have been playing with helicopters for about 4 years and I have not seen or heard of any (organized) training that relates to dealing with a crashed Helicopter. It's kinda poked @ in some of the classes, but nothing really in depth.

Each Helibase SHOULD have a crash rescue plan posted @ it. If not, speak to one of the Aviation folks @ the Incident IE ATGS or Helibase Manager. If you don't feel comfortable doing something or you feel; something is missing, don't do it ,and/or let your supervisor know.

7/12 In response to Jerseyboy and Nerd:

You both seem to express a feeling that people cannot be trained to be leaders. I suspect the graduates of the four service academies would provide an argument with you. But graduates of those esteemed institutions can speak for themselves. Formal classroom training, which is what I think Nerd was referring to, (sitting in the chair listening to a lecturer drone on and on) is only one form of training. Certainly mentoring can be another form. But these are techniques of training. Leaders rise to the fore because they are professionals who understand the foundations (discipline, skill and proficiency) and pillars of leadership (self, tools, team, environment and risk). The high level of knowledge of these areas give leaders good situational awareness and the basis for excellent judgment. Certainly there are those who lead and those who have high positions due to occupancy of a certain box in an organizational chart. Paul Gleason never rose very far organizationally, but he was certainly a leader in every sense of the word. Paul certainly thought a person should always be learning and I think he would argue pretty strongly that training isn't, and shouldn't, be passive. If you are interested in taking an active role in some self-training read Tony Kern's book, "Redefining Airmanship" and substitute firemanship every time you read the word airmanship. The fire community can utilize Kern's model to develop, not only leaders, but professionals who operate at high levels of safety in an environment full of risk.

As I scroll down through the posts on leadership, the common theme seems to be one of: "Somebody should do something..." I submit that each of the readers of this board have the power to do something. Start by being active in your own learning. Learning is only passive if you make it so. Don't just walk in, sit in the back and wait for someone to pour knowledge into your skull. Read on your own, do the pre-work, seek out the information that is out there on the subject whether it is care and feeding of a Mark 3 or the care and feeding of a Type I team. You are the one responsible for maintaining your skills and developing your proficiencies. All of us have the opportunity to encourage a co-worker or subordinate to learn more. Sure there are many things that press on our time: we're gone all summer, the significant other wants you to do something, the crew wants you to play ball after work, the kids want you to play ball after work. But if we want to be professionals (practitioners of a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation) then we will find the self-discipline to improve our culture toward training and learning. If we provide a culture amenable to learning, and improvement, just within our own little circles we will find that we have developed leaders. And guess what, we will be them.

7/12 Ashland Watershed has a 5-6 acre fire this morning, ordering retardant,
supposed to be in the 90's today, everybody stay safe.

7/12 AQ,

The specs for engines are in your Fireline Handbook, Appendix A,
page A-27.

Make a nice one.

The difference between leadership and management of your crew
is the same difference as pulling a chain uphill or pushing it! Remember
you LEAD people and MANAGE things.

7/12 Bravo Casey Judd and the FWFSA. The draft looks good and I hope that all the Federal Wildland Firefighters campaign to pass this very important bill. After this passes then we need to work on Bush and the overtime cap that he wants to put on ALL Federal Employee's.

Looks like the IAFF is out of the loop on this one. Hey Mike are we getting help from CPF?

7/12 Ab, here is a link to an article on another effort to slow down FS outsourcing, that may be of interest. www.govexec.com

7/11 Abs: Here is the "Draft" as it is NOW being sent to those Congressional folks the FWFSA has talked with during our trip to DC this year. We will be posting this on the FWFSA website. "How long will it take to pass"? We are going after the same "Co sponsors" in our previous efforts. Maybe introduced in August! Only Mr. Ward can tell us as Pombos gets more co-sponsors. What we need to do? We will start a "grassroots" call/write/fax as the Co-sponsors start signing on.

Questions..... Call me or FEEL FREE to contact CASEY JUDD. HE is now the "Business Manager" for FWFSA.

Mike Preasmeyer - President, FWFSA
7/11 JerseyBoy and Others:

My inclination is to say that “training for leadership” is almost an oxymoron, training being a fundamentally passive activity. I believe that leaders have to be mentored, not trained; that leaders are produced by a combination of good examples (their own leaders) and adverse conditions which force the potential leader to think and take action. One thing I’ve noticed about the wildland fire world is the presence of some amazingly willing and competent mentors. The interdependence of a squad or crew on the fireline makes great motivation for the “silverbacks” to take responsibility for the rookies, above and beyond the general warmth and responsibility of the community to its members. I guess what I’m really saying is that the best way to produce good leaders is to lead them well.

Nerd on the Fireline
7/11 AB Question

1. Would the Federal and State Fire agencies put a
none red carded person on the fire line.

2. Would they put none trained or equipped Wildland
firefighters working inside a structure fires.

Then how come they put the same personnel doing
helibase Crash/Rescue (i.e. Vol.FD, Wildlands FF) that
does not have the training or the equipment to do the
job right out there.

Safty is #1 and having the right equipment, personnel and
training should be #1.

7/11 An article in the Arizona Republic, July 11, 2003 is about terrorist finally figuring out that an age old tool can be used as a weapon and can still cause terror in the hearts of people. I remember thinking about this very subject last year, I thought that these folks would have caught this bus a year or two ago. Can you imagine if terrorist could claim to have started the big blazes in Colorado and Arizona, just imagine the panic and paranoia that would have caused. Just something else to watch out for, keep safe and check your six (watch you're a$$).

On another subject, leadership, one of the best books I have read about leadership is about marine General "Chesty" Puller, I may have gotten the spelling incorrect. It was a very inspiring and eye opening book, it inspired me to be a leader like Gen. Puller. To know your job from top to bottom, to take care of your "people", and to care about your "people". That way when you ask them to do something they know that you are in it with them, you have been there and back, and that they can count on your full support, come what may. One of the many rules I live by, "we have a lot of managers but not nearly enough leaders."

Retired L.A.V.E.

Here's one of many links to the article on terrorists and wildfire:

7/11 My fire department is looking to build a type 6 engine to
federal specs, do you know where I can find the specs
for a type 6 engine?

Thanks. AQ
7/10 GB:

Training leaders is a tough issue, and even more so
for federal agencies because we are accountable to the
public at large (and politicians too.)

Thinking outside the box, and taking novel approaches
to problems are great ideas, but the problem with
these attitudes is that they are risk-intensive. Fire
happens to be a business that is by nature,
risk-aversive. And since innovation and new ideas
come about only after trial and error - its tough to
build a training program that emphasizes safety and a
willingness to take chances and fail.

Chamberlain and those in the military have a different
risk structure than we do. It is acceptable (in the
minds of officers, not necessarily the public) to lose
men in battle. Its not on the fireline. And its also
not acceptable to lose homes and large chuncks of

So we find ourselves in bind: do we value the
independent leaders, or do we value the minimum risk
when it comes to lives and property?

This isn't to say that there aren't good leaders who
are safe. But the notion of creating and training
leaders is often a misguided one. From all my
experience is working with different teams: athletic
teams, disaster relief crews, hotshots, etc. there
are natural leaders and there are those who are in
charge. Situations are best when the natural leaders
are the ones in charge, or if they aren't, are willing
to support the ones who are.

Leadership skills can be taught, but the ability to
lead is different. I used "natural" leaders, but I
don't necessarily think these qualities are inborn
(though they probably are to a degree), but that the
natural leaders have had a lot of experience leading -
and it probably started when they were very young -
and had the opportunity to lead in small ways,
gradually increasing as they got older. This can take
years - and isn't something that a few classes on
fireline leadership are going to create.

I think an equally important issue is how to identify
"natural" leaders, cultivate their skills further, and
encourage them to be independent leaders.

7/10 NMAirBear,

Glad to hear of the good work you folks are doing
down there in the Gila. The Gila is a great place and
I am thrilled to hear tell of fire being put to good use.
Horray for prescribed fire! Yay for the NM team!

7/10 De-Throned,

Yep.. That's exactly the nightmare scenario they HAVE to avoid w/ ROSS but it don't sound like they are avoiding it. Someone way higher up better get the poop together and either fix the problem or pull the plug, otherwise it'll turn into a complete fiasco, and the Fed. Wildland Agencies supporting/pushing ROSS are going to have egg on their face big time.

My 2 cents on the lookouts.... Maybe they only first report 8%-10% of the fires but it sure gives me a warm fuzzy feeling knowing they're there...
Here's the way a typical cell transfer from CHP goes down here in So-Cal.
CHP dispatch "Umm we just a cell phone report of a fire in along Hiway 94. But the caller dropped off."
ECC " Did he give a community or cross street?"
CHP " Well yeah.. he was calling form the Jamul area and said he passed by the smoke about 10 minutes ago."
ECC " Did he give a cross street?"
CHP "No but he said it's about 5 miles east of Jamul, then he dropped off. We'll let you know if he calls back"
ECC " uhh.. okay thanks." I try to answer confidently, as a chill runs down my spine.

Sound familiar??

Lucky for us CNF still values their lookout and staffs Pinos and we can ask them if they see anything. Not to mention how many times we get calls on fires in Mexico that the locals SWEAR is just on the other side of the mountain. Just the savings in fuel alone, which otherwise would be wasted on smoke checks, would probably pay for the lookout... but then the governor wouldn't be able to brag about how many state positions he eliminated during this years recall campaign.

7/10 From Firescribe:

More starts in the West- a shift? Haven't heard that monsoon weather has arrived.

Washington's big one.
7/10 THANK YOU FIREFIGHTERS! My neighbors & I are very thankful
for all your efforts. May you have a safe season. May we have no more
fires. I'm trying to get the message out to residents to make their homes
more safe. Any recommendations?

Lake Isabella Homeowner

Excellent book on the Fire Books page entitled
Living with Wildfires: Prevention, Preparation and Recovery
by Janet C. Arrowood

Some suggestions on this resource page under "protect your home" as well.

7/10 Nerd on the Fireline

The New Mexico Team, which is on the Encebado Fire, is my old team of many years but I am not there. Go tell Larry Raley and other team members about the "slick" air show and tell 'em former ATGS NMAirBear sent you. The air folks know who I am and will appreciate it.

That entire team has come a long way in the recent past to being one of the best around. Very strong in Ops, Logistics, Plans, Command, etc. Kudos to many of my friends. SAFETY FIRST!

From the Dry Lakes Complex on the Gila NF: Major flameage/acreage today as it became plume dominated briefly this afternoon with light winds, high temps, 2-6% RH, and Haines of 6. As the ATGS I can still say the fire is doing nothing but good for the healthiest ponderosa pine forest in America. It will end up the largest acreage of SUCCESS in Wildland Fire Use in American history. I am guessing that will end up at 100,000+ acres.

I really hope I'm right about the success part. There are some slippery political slopes and holding actions yet to be traversed. We have an excellent team here doing the best they can in complex and challenging conditions.

7/9 Ab,

The National Wildfire Suppression Association board has approved the petition to form a National Timber Faller Chapter. Now we're looking for fallers out there in other regions nationwide, either single fallers or faller contractors, who are interested in serving on the steering committee and addressing some of these issues they've been complaining so loudly about! Primarily the Chapter will initially be focusing on the creation of National Hazard Tree Faller Standards, but there are many other issues facing fallers on the fireline. We have an interim steering committee now, but a permanent group will be installed during the Chapter's first general meeting during the 2003 Timber Faller Roundtable Nov. 1. Those interested can either self-nominate, or nominate others they think would best support the timber falling community working in the realm of fire suppression. So if you've had something to say for a looooooong time and never felt you had anyone who would listen, now's your chance to do something constructive. For more information on the Faller Chapter or to nominate someone for the Chapter Steering Committee, call 800 891-5655. We are especially looking for steering committee candidates from areas including the southwest, Montana/Idaho/Colorado, California, & the Great Basin areas.

Fire Momma
7/9 Bravo R9SUPT…and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Some very slick air show work going on over the Encebado fire right now…If any of you folks (NMAirBear?) are responsible for that, you’ve got one little groundpounder’s gratitude.

Nerd on the Fireline

Nice show. I put the AT and the helo photos on the AT 7 photo page and Heli 11 respectively. Ab.
7/9 Hi Ab

I've been lurking here for over a year, finally have some photos to submit.
They aren't spectacular by any means (those shots of course I didn't have the
camera handy because I forgot to grab it when the pager went off) but thought I
would pass em on to you incase you wanted to post any of them. Yes, our
community's fire engines are blue :)

Last week the Apex fire ignited about 8 miles from my house and burnt approx
32,000 acres (cost 1.97 million) making it one of the biggest wildland fires
this part of Utah had seen in the last 25 years. Steep terrain and 100+ daily
temperatures certainly didn't make life easy for the crews. My hat goes off to
all those who were out there working to contain the fire.

I and others on my dept were called out to protect structures at the Apex
mine. I had a front row seat as the airtankers dropped retardant and the
Bitterroot hotshot crew lit a backburn (what a time not to have a camera handy). That
front row seat got hot real fast when the fire roared through and some of us
were very glad to be in our structural turnouts instead of our brush gear.

My redcard has seen some fire action, but never anything this intense. It was
a good experience, very fun and scary all at the same time. That was the only
direct fire contact we got to have with the fire, the next day we stood by to
protect some homes possibly in the fire's path but the fire changed its
direction and moved away from the area .

I'm definitely a little older and a little wiser this week compared to last
week, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world.


Hi ScuffyJ. Welcome. I put the photos on Fire 17 and Engines 7 photo pages. Ab.
7/9 Here's one from Lakers- the Blue Fire 2001, one that the Arroyo Grande Flight Crew worked on. It's our new Index page photo. Nice, thanks, Lakers. I put it on the Wallpaper photo page also.

The Jobs Page, wildland firefighter Series 462 and Series 455 have been updated.
7/9 JerseyBoy,

I think the fitness plan looks pretty good. Seems like a reasonable set up, something that will get results but will be possible for everyone to do. I think it is good he listed stretching everyday. People do not realize how critical it is for preventing injury.

I realize this may seem funny to a lot of folks out there given its reputation, but actually I have thought that certain types of yoga might be a good addition. There are certain forms of yoga that are really physically taxing and others that really emphasize flexibility, but the great thing about it is that it doesn't require any equipment and it does wonders for preserving joints and ligaments.

7/9 Regarding the ongoing intermittent discussion on leadership, here's
something I came across that was interesting to read:
Auftragstaktik or "Mission Tactics"

This program was invented by the German Army and picked up
by Canadians and some Americans, I have heard it is endorsed
by Gen. Tommy Franks. It enables the mission commander to present
an objective to a subordinate who carries it out at his or her own
discretion. Occasionally some "rules" are broken. If something
goes awry, the organization backs them up and deals with the
whole situation as "lessons learned". In our climate of more and
more rules, this is a novel idea.

I know some of you have participated in leadership training and/or
have heard Michael Useem speak at Division Chiefs Workshop,
etc. This idea of presenting subordinates with an objective that
they then carry out with some discretion sounds somewhat like
what Michael says in his talks on Fire Management Leadership.

As an example, Michael describes the fight to hold Little Round
Top at the Battle of Gettysburg, Civil War. The Union General
Vincent gave such an order to subordinate Chamberlin. Vincent was
clear about the goal of holding Little Round Top, and communicated
his intent without micromanaging. He infected Chamberlin with
his vision. Then he left it up to Chamberlin to accomplish the goal
in his own way. After repelling many charges, Chamberlin gave
the order to his 350 men for a bayonette charge against a force
of 800 Alabama men. The Union prevailed.

We want and need leadership when the world is rapidly changing,
people who think "outside the box," leaders who don't need to be
micromanaged. How do we train such people if the system is loaded
with rules, potential leaders are micromanaged, and not supported
when things go awry?

I would enjoy hearing other views.
7/9 MTMOG & John,

Regarding the National Contract Engines (and also the National Contract Crews), here is the link to see all contracted equipment/crew/showers etc. www.nifc.gov/contracting/support/support.phpl

This lists all the C.O.s to address your funding sources. You misstate the $10,000 guarantee, it is not per season...it is for the life of the contract (3 years). I can guarantee that will not begin to cover the insurance costs and multiple overhead expenses these companies have taken a huge chance to spend on "the future". All NCR's are betting on the implementation of a "true National Contract", the concept is sound but it has a long way to go and a lot of animosity from Agency to get through. NCR's are willing to put up, prove up and work their tails off to prove the quality of their operations given the opportunity. The NCC's helped out with the Space Shuttle operations and proved themselves. Now NCE's are patiently waiting to be implemented. NCR's were promised project work (which is a different lower rate than fire rate) but thus far it hasn't panned out, funds dried up or have mysteriously been used for something else. Pretty hard on a company to maintain crews & engine personnel in their Mandatory Availability Periods (in the Host Area) long term with out something to cover the basic salaries of personnel standing by. Thus far it looks like these Host Units are getting free standby!

7/9 Colorado's First day of Red Flag Warning was yesterday....then............... 7 starts. They are anywhere from 5 acres to 1,000 acres and moving. good link www.9news.com. It is good to see that while the anniversary of Storm King is still fresh people have checked and doublechecked to see that we got the message....Thanks for the fourteen ultimate sacrifices...

Rocky Mountain
7/9 One more....

Anybody know of a location on the web where I can see the most current
standards for all the various ICS resource types?

7/9 Has anyone taken a look at the new "Fireline Fitness"
section that appears on the FS Fire and Aviation
website? Any comments?

7/9 Just a few comments to catch up on all the talk that’s been on going on the board:


I think cutting lookouts is the easy way out for the politicians (some of whom work for the agency) to try and show they are cutting costs. But in the long run I do not think this saves money. Im sure its not the case everywhere but, In my area it is about an even cost between having a patrol up for 6-8 hours a day vs having our towers staffed for the same period of time. When you add to this that a detection plane is not going to be in the air all of that time, they cannot see the entire area of responsibility at the same time like towers can and when there is a fire, you loose your detection as the aircraft is dedicated to that incident, the balance of logic, safety and common sense easily falls toward towers as being the best bang for your buck.

Even with the proliferation of cell phones out there, when our towers are up, IF a cell caller reports a fire to 911 it is generally only a minute or less until a tower reports it. And of course a fair amount of the cell or telephone callers are not able to give an accurate location, and even rarer solid information on whats threatened or how the fire is burning (and I wouldn’t expect them to) while a tower can give you a pretty good indication on what the fire is doing with reports on the size & color of the smoke column, how much/fast the base is spreading out etc.

Saving/triaging & the red rock-blue rock:

I got a chuckle out of that. I could hear the hammer coming down on those guys before I even finished reading the sentence. We have done a similar color coding thing in selected areas, but it in no way shape or form is it discussed or presented as pre-picking winners and losers. Its used as a safety tool for structural resources. In many cases, (in my neck o the woods anyway) you cannot see the home from the entrance to the driveway. In these areas address post markings are used to give the fire fighter an idea of what they are going to find at the end of the driveway. The address post gets a colored stripe if there is a wildland fuel problem at the residence and another color if there is a problem with the driveway itself (narrow and/or no turn around). If the home has been looked at and has no major fuels or driveway problems it gets a white mark to indicate that. The fire fighter needs to add to this where the structure is in relation to the fire for them to make a final on the spot decision on what they will do. Could these markings mean a structure will not see any protection during a fire? ..sure. Are there folks that get hot under the collar if they got the fuels & driveway markings? ..you bet. But my feelings toward that is to tell them to change whats wrong and we will gladly change the colors. Im not going to risk a FF’s butt to protect your home when you want to have the conifers growing through your deck and brushing the eaves of your house.

On the insurance topic in the same post: Impossible to know in the field and probably not real ethical to even try. You also have the cases where the guy who has insurance is the one with the huge vacation cabin and the poor guy with the shack across the street cant afford insurance as he is barely scraping by and the shack is all they have.

Whew..this is getting way too long….but one last thing on the talk about environmentalists that was bantered about a while back. Somebody said it about this topic bringing out some of the best discussion on this board for a long time and I would have to agree. Im not going to take sides here one bit as there are very valid opinions on each side. BUT the most frustrating thing I see the most is when it comes to solving some problem, too often a solution is slapped down as it not going to solve the problem 100 percent of the time in every scenario. And when one side takes comments from the other and either twists or only uses portions of what was actually said so that it will fit their way of thinking or to fit their political agenda.

Ok…back into my hole…

Y’all be safe out there
7/8 Capt Emmett, et al;

Within 15 minutes of Shuteye Lookout's (SNF) report of smoke near Bass Lake (Thornberry Mountain) I could see the smoke column from Buck Rock Lookout, approximately 55 miles away in the Sequoia Nat Forest. Throughout the afternoon I continued to watch as the fire made runs and columns formed breaking through the inversion layer. Later I watched as yet another column became visible north and east of the Bass Lake area smoke - possibly the El Portal fire? I am curious to know the acreage on both of these fires.

By the way - it was a thrill to hear two other lookouts cross with Shuteye to get an exact location and verification of the smoke. On the Sequoia, Jordan Lookout and Tobias Lookout both called in fires this afternoon. It works.


North Fork Fire: began at 1417 hrs, 6 mi S of Oakhurst, 200 acres reported as of 2000 hrs.
Woodlot Fire: near El Portal, 300 acres reported as of 1600 hrs.
7/8 Captain Emmett:

Hope you broke your camera out re: the fire in vicinity of Bass Lake. I'm hungry for info. (That's my old stomping grounds.) ----- Also did my time on the North Fork Fire. We were lucky on that one, everything was right to vaporize Peckenpaugh Mtn but the weather Gods smiled on us.

The Honorable Mouse.
7/8 Ab,

Is $289 million coming to fire near you? Maybe....if this Baltimore Sun
article is to be believed.
www.sunspot.net ?

vfd cap'n

I don't know about coming to any particular fire. It will get shared around. Fire was severely underfunded. This just brings the suppression and preparedness amount to a figure that looks more reasonable, near the 10 year average. Ab.
7/8 Hi Abs!

I just went up to the road to get my mail and what did I see? That's right, a great big header coming up from the Bass Lake area of the SNF. I called Fresno ECC to find out what I could and they tell me it's a fire near the lake, MMU & SNF is on it and 10 mins ago that is all the info they had. The smoke column is big enough I thought it was in my little town! I have not seen any aircraft fly over my house yet.

The scary part is that the North Fork Fire looked just like this when it got started!

Captain Emmett

MMU = Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit of CDF
SNF = Sierra National Forest of the FS

Break out the camera and send us a photo. Ab.
7/8 In a effort to aid NFFE, I started posting letters on out sourcing.
Some good reading. Also some even better reading and links, How To
contact the Whitehouse.


7/8 MTMOG,

I'm not sure where the funds come from for the national engine contracts, but I do know the main differences between the National Contracts, and the regional EERA's are the training of the Engine Bosses are checked more thoroughly, the equipment is supposed to be held to a higher standard for the National Contract, and since there is a specified availability period that is required in the Contract, there is a minimum payment guarantee of $10,000 for each engine signed on as a national engine per season. It's my understanding that the Contractor will receive this $10,000 guarantee even if there is no call to go to work on fire.

National Contract Engines are also supposed to be the first called private resources called out for fires in their hosting forest unit, and are to receive project work such as holding prescription burns etc, before any EERA resources can be used. If a national contract engine comes available after an assignment, and there is a fire using EERA engines on their host forest unit, the forest is supposed to release an EERA engine to make room to use the National Engine.

I believe the national engine contract could be a very good thing eventually (if the government awards contracts to ALL the contractors that truely qualify for it), but right now, I feel the Forest Service is dragging their feet on awarding contracts. If the National Engine Contract, raises the quality of equipment and training being accepted and used out on the firelines, I feel it's a win win situation for everybody, both Private and Agencies.

There are some questions I would love to get answered someday, as to how the Contracting Agent in Boise came to his decision on who got it and who didn't the last time around. I don't believe for a second that just because certain companies were given national status, that they are somehow some type of elite contract resource now (some deserved it, others leave me scratching my head) lol. I know here in Region 6, there were many people that tried to get national, which had training and equipment as good as any other contractors out there (equal to FS training standards) that were awarded contracts, that were turned down with no explanation, or even lied to as to the reasons. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what direction the national engine contract takes the industry.

7/8 HI Folks,
Can any of you folks shed light on how the National Engine Contracts (NEC) are funded? If Forest XYZ has a NEC slot is it funded from a national source or the budget of that particular Forest? Is the funding source for the project rate different from the source for the suppression rate? Can anyone address the future of the NEC's? They really haven't happened in R1 to date. Will they remain a super EERA or will they actually become a contract that we can go to the bank with? Trying to bring current/new equipment to the fire from the contracting side of things - and play by the current EERA rules - really is tough. Any info greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your time,
Stay Safe
7/8 Regarding lookouts -

I totally concur with “Osborne’s” concerns regarding the closed CDF towers. When the word went out in the spring that staffing in the towers was going to be cut and they'd be shut down for however long, it was disturbing to say the least. I can only imagine how it must feel to be one of those folks who have been doing this every season, year after year, to suddenly be told, "Sorry Charlie." That’s a real kick in the gut to those who have a real passion, want to do a great job and enjoy their little glass house as well.

I think it is darn safe to say (whether CDF or USFS) we have proven more than once that regardless of technology that lookouts are still one of the most beneficial tools in first detection. There are still many areas (as pointed out by “Osborne”) that have poor or no cell coverage. And even if there is coverage, that doesn't mean it has been called in. I can give you a good example of that: a couple of years ago one of our lookouts (BDF) spotted a column of smoke popping up on another forest south of us (CNF) some 40 or so miles away and this not far from where a major freeway runs right through the area. EVERYBODY driving through there had to have seen it, so it's easy to ASSUME that everyone with a cell phone would have been playing hero. Not the case. Our dispatch called their dispatch and they were all, "Huh? Wuh? Fire?" This past 4th of July weekend one of our lookouts called in a smoke right smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood close to the forest boundary, thousands of people living right there around it and a well traveled road running through it. It was the first report. The lookout reporting it was 20+ miles away (as a crow flies). Go figure.

Having corresponded back and forth with a paid NoCal CDF lookout, I know the frustration he’s feeling this season. California’s budget is the obvious stranglehold and hands are tied (and oh lordy, let's not even go there honeychiles...). Time is money and that is wasted when a crew has to try and locate a fire than can be pinpointed from a tower. The paid lookouts lose. The towers get beaten down by vandals and that just adds to the already high mortality rate of these historical treasures. <sigh>

I don’t know about the rest of you but personally I think an 8-10% first report rate is pure gold.

Just my humble (and of course biased cuz I love lookouts) opinion.

7/8 ROSS - ROSS - ROSS............Yes several dispatch centers did shut it down, became too much of a safety problem where a program is wagging the dog. --- i.e., 4 hrs. to fill an IA tanker request (C'mon now!) Anyhow -- here's the latest in bureaucratic b.s.........Western Great Basin Coordination Center shut it down because of problems with internet, BLM -- BIA litigation, etc. (a SAFETY ISSUE -- that was very real).......went back to the great old reliable cardstock resource order, fax and phone. GREAT IDEA. But, oh no, the powers that be at NIFC didn't like that, chastised those poor realistic folks in Reno, and now have a hostage from Western GB up there in Boise at the National Coordination Center entering all their orders in to the ROSS system before the great NICC Gods and Goddesses will fill their orders. Must be in the correct format and program you know!! I think this is certainly a most cost-effective and efficient use of experienced dispatchers...............!!!!

Boy, am I glad I'm gone. Just sign me:

7/8 A message came in here at theysaid saying the Pollard Fire was up to some HUGE acreage. On checking with the Information Person on NorCal Team II, the transition briefing report from this morning has downsized it to 30 acres, so let that rumor die... Be Safe all. Ab.
7/8 Update:

The Pollard Fire (7 mi N of Lakehead on the Shasta T) is burning on both sides of the Sacramento River in brush and timber in steep terrain with little access. As of 0300 it was 50 acres and 70% contained. 5 Fixed Wing Aircraft (3 state, 2 FS) are assigned. Hopefully we can hook this pretty soon. A type II team is assigned. Maybe some of the crews from the Friday Fire will be shifted over here. Apparently no wind predicted for today, temps supposed to be in the mid 90s and RH in the low 20s.

7/8 Eric,

Your question regarding the potential of saving/triaging a home with or with out insurance has really never been a factor in my firefighting decision or any one else that I know of. With over 16 years if urban interface firefighting experience in the west, several things should always be present when making that benchmark decision.........is the situation safe for my crew, do I have the resources to make a difference, and as always, LCES or LACES (depending on your agency). At no point should we be making tactical decisions based on whether a property owner has insurance or not. If we did, we would be banished by the public in a media frenzy. Further more, how do we as fire managers, firefighters, and incident commanders know who has insurance or not during the "heat of the battle"? We are all professional firefighters and here to save lives and protect property regardless of race, creed, religion, or insurance! lol

I worked some years ago for a federal fire management agency located in the bay area of California. We were asked to participate in a little urban interface triage drill with some local fire departments. As we were driving through a particular community, one of the BC vehicles would stop and the chief's aid would run out and paint a large rock either red or blue. This painting expedition went on most of the day. At the end of our drill, we all went back to our respective fire stations. Being from AZ and new to the California fire arena, I of course asked some stupid questions like "whats was up with the red/blue rock thing?" My engine captain explained to me that the red/blue rock in front of a house told the local fire departments which houses were savable and those that were not.

Sometime after that drill, the local fire chief came under fire by the media as a result of a local insurance agent finding out about the red/blue rock. Seems that all the homes that were "branded" a red rock in their drive way either lost their homeowners insurance or their premiums went through the roof. Keep in mind, that this area was in Marin County and homes a pretty expensive.

Needless to say, I think we all learned a valuable lesson regarding that situation.

It' just too darn hot outside here in No. AZ and no monsoons in the forecast. I heard Hell just sent ice water up to Tucson!

Be safe brothers and sisters.
God bless you Levi Brinkley, Kathi Beck, and Tammy Bickett. I miss you and love you all!

AZ Trailblazer
7/8 Was listening to some chatter recently about the cost of cutting the CDF lookouts. Seems we had a few fires in the state here last week that got a little more of a head start than they should have.

In one reported incident, the fire crews arrived to find a well established vegetation fire burning. When they inquired with the responsible party at the scene, they determined the report was delayed for lack of "cell service" The RP couldn't get a cell site.

The fire of course was in plain view of a lookout tower-now closed. Not positive, but understood the fire reached about 60 acres-how much money did we save here?. Strike one.

In another incident over the fourth of July weekend, I was listening to radio traffic and over heard some very interesting calls. In one case, a lookout that had been placed apparently into "emergency staffing" for the weekend, was overheard reporting a smoke that eventually ended up being a fire. The location was difficult to determine because there was no other lookout to triangulate it. That lookout had also been closed this year. The fire was eventually located...right in full plain view of the closed tower. Strike two.

The CDF dispatchers could be heard on the radio calling the one tower for updates on smoke column, etc. Remember, CDF lookouts accounted for only about 8-10% of the first reports, but how many were stopped and how many got away?

AB....will keep you posted as we go along here this summer with the sage radio transmissions showing the value of this valuable part of initial attack. Looking for the big one that gets away because of this penny wise, dollar foolish decision making process. Maybe someone in high places will read these and see the error of their ways, and augment.

Sign me off as "Osborne" for these updates.
7/8 Goldylocks,

I work in a co-located CDF/USFS ECC in Ca. and have worked with MIRPS since its infancy. I've dealt with many of its crashes, freeze ups and other 'burps' at the worst of times. Like right in the middle of a multiple fires, placing orders to South Ops and trying to fill orders from South Ops, it would freeze, we'd have to re-create the resource orders on hard cards and cross our fingers for the next 3 days as computer geeks tried to get it back up and running.
But the bugs were worked out, it went statewide last year and actually worked relatively smoothly.
From what little I've seen of it, Ross seems to be going through the same growing pains. Unfortunately, it seems to me that ROSS is being forced down the throats of the ECC's here in Cal. before it's ready. Rumor has it SWCC has shut it down and South Ops is getting ready to shut it down because it locks up so much. Luckily with MIRPS the geeks eventually listened to the dispatchers fixed it and made it do the things we need it to do.

Hopefully the same will work out with ROSS. The developers HAVE to listen to the feed back from the field and be willing to make the necessary changes. The major draw back I see with it?? It is SLOW!!! ridiculously slow!! there is no way we'll be able to use it down here on initial attack. Why is it slow? because it's an internet based application it has to compete with all the other traffic on the internet...MIRPS is bad enough because of the double entry problem, but at least I don't have to wait for it to process what I put into it.

anyway...I hope it works out, because it looks like it's coming whether it works or not...
I just hope they learn from California's Oracle and DMV debacles... no matter how much money you throw at it or how many memos are sent out, ya can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

Fireman Dan
7/8 Dear Ab,

I have been reading your theysaid column for a long time. The thing that I am curious about is the Ross system, I am in Washington state and a pvt contract firefighter, we have been burning up here for a while now and we have yet to be called, we made a call to our head office here for dispatching and we were told that the Ross system was hacked into and ruined so to speak. My question is, how reliable is something that can easily be hacked into? How can we trust our business in this system? I know pvts have a bad name with govmt folks but I am just as concerned as the rest of you on the reliability of this new system.

Thank you,
Scared in WA...
7/8 I may be a little untimely on the environmental debate, and I hope its not too
long winded, but thought I might throw out a little perspective for both sides.

Folks from both sides have brought out very good discussion points that I hope
continue into the future, both in this forum as well as daily duties, but it
seems to me that there are some pretty grandiose opinions of ourselves as a
species being bandied about. The idea that we will save or destroy this rock
in the foreseeable future can be seen as arrogant in some senses. Have we done
things detrimental to the environment, definitely. Have we made strives
towards protection, ditto. However lets think about the planet in terms that
are at the forefront today: At one point Redwoods would have been considered
an invasive species by today's logic. The loss of the inland sea would today
be considered an environmental catastrophe attributed to global warming. The
arboreal forests of the Northland did not exist when the Glaciers were in
place. The Mojave at one point was a lush grassland, is it better now or then?
If you even try to answer that then you may be trying to put yourself beyond
your station in the greater scheme of things. Back to invasive species. we, as
well as the mega fauna who came across the land bridge, would fit into that
category at that time. As a matter of fact we are not the stewards of this
planet but part of the eco-system that we think we are trying to protect,
whether through environmental actions, resource management, or fire
protection, not some puppet masters above it. Many look at restoration
efforts/stewardship as a snap-shot in time, but who is to decide the right
snap-shot. Is it the Lewis-Clark era as mentioned earlier?, is it pre European
settlement?, pre human settlement? Maybe I want it to be the Triassic period
and since I am a leader in my field what I say goes! My point being, there
will never be consensus between groups when we put ourselves in a godlike
posture above the ecosystem that we are merely a portion of, thinking we have
the right to effect it one way or the other, and our ability to think and
opposable thumbs do not give us the right to decide, or determine where Mother
is going to go. Before folks say I'm a Cretan and have no basis for my post, I
would like to remind everyone that we are a flash in the pan in geological
terms and the Red River WILL heal itself in just another blink and the roaches
will enjoy it. Will I do everything in my power to be a good steward of our
country's lands with the best available science? yes. Will I continue to
protect resources in the "stupid zone"? You betcha, as long as my people can
do it safely. Do I think that my actions and views will change the world? No I
am Not that important in the Grand Scheme.

P.S. I'm not so sure that Paul meant the academia at MIT in his Student of
Fire philosophy, you gain that on the line from your first to your last
incident, with some input from those type folks, but I could be very wrong.

7/8 Nice photo: Redding Searchlight
Glad the CDF ATs are still with us...

On Sunday, the Shasta T had a small 5 acre fire they thought they had almost caught it. Wind yesterday - it spotted. Sent lots of CDF Handcrew S/T's out yesterday afternoon-evening. Story

Heads up all. Lots of fine dry fuels out here.
7/7 seafire,
Thanks for the advice, I just ordered me 16oz. My boots are looking kinda weathered.

7/7 6:55 pm pacific time
It sounds like quite a few new starts in and around Klamath County in S/E Oregon right now, and the thunder and lightning just started about 2 hours ago. It's seems dry for the most part so far, and the winds are increasing . Heads up.

7/7 Here I am complaining about the lack of fire assignments for my fallers and what should happen but that I would look up and see a gigantic smoke plume out my front door...burning up Powell Creek here in Southern Oregon. Only 28 acres with a wind whipping it...and its growing exponentially. Damn, will I NEVER learn to keep my mouth shut? (Probably not.) Evacuations have begun.

Fire Momma
7/7 firemanphil,
the best boot grease is obnaufs boot grease. its made in
Peck, Id. you can get ahold of them by using the classifieds


7/7 So glad you liked it Fire Momma! I always love sharing cool ideas I run into.
By the way Ab, got another one for you. BAM, Big Ass Map.
Later folks!
7/7 Ab would you please post our Eastern AZ Team logo on the logos page? Our website (Kvale's Type II via Type II team page under Southwest) also has some awesome photos of AirTankers and other fire pics.

please sign me
AZ Firefighter

Nice logo. Very colorful. I put it on Logos 9. Ab.
7/7 OD,

Thanks so much for offering up McDonough's "Design, Ecology, Ethics and the Making of Things." It is excellent. What a concept!

"Peter Senge, a professor at M.I.T.'s Sloan School of Management, works with a program called the Learning Laboratory where he studies and discusses how organizations learn. Within that he was a leadership laboratory, and one of the first questions he asks CEOs of companies that attend is, "Who is the leader on a ship crossing the ocean?" He gets obvious answers, such as the captain, the navigator, or the helmsman. But the answer is none of the above. The leader is the designer of the ship because operations on a ship are a consequence of design, which is the result of human intention..."

Fire Momma
7/7 Does anyone know what the best kinda polish for a wildland fire fighting boot is?

I'd also like to say thanks to Ab and all the people on the board who gave me advice on getting a wildland fire fighter job. I'm now a AD fire fighter for the FWS, so it's a start, thanks for all your help.

7/7 hi
Im a Portuguese Fire Officer, of the Pinhal Novo Volunteer
Fire Brigade, i would like to submit a photo of a Fire Truck
to your page.

Theres more, if you are interested please contact me or visit
our site www.terravista.pt/guincho/3322
best regards

Raúl Prazeres
Adjunto Comando
Corpo de Bombeiros Voluntários de Pinhal Novo

I put them on the Engines 7 photo page. Ab.
7/7 Here's an old one. Bighorn Interregional Fire Suppression Crew (later became Wyoming IHC) on the Verde Fire, Tonto National Forest in 1979. How long were those sideburns?

B. Watt

Thanks B, I put this one and the next from PA on the Handcrews 9 photo page. Your shaggy face among those mugs? Ab.
7/7 Hello, I would like to submit some photo's from the Tiller Complex from Last year. I am finally getting things organized, 1 Picture is from the crew PA-7 Maul's Maulers. Another is along a road in the North Umpqua ranger district of a tree torching while doing a burnout operation.

Todd Ziegler PA Specialized crew.
7/7 I have a new acronym to add to the list, DPMO, Don't p*** me off. It is a term used by squad bosses or crew bosses when dealing with problem subordinates. I hope you see fit to add this to the list. A lot of us would like to see it there.

7/6 Today, Sunday, July 6th is the 9th Anniversary of the deaths of 14 firefighters on South Canyon fire on Storm King Mountain in Colorado: We Will NEVER Forget!!


Here's an index of the historical STAND DOWN for Safety Comments from 1994. Ab.
7/6 Ab,

I've read alot of what's been said about ROSS. I've been using/playing
ROSS for about 2 years and have helped in real life use/training of ROSS.
I'm not a seasoned firefighter but from what I have learned/gleaned from
the FS in all the FF training I've received is...

ATTITUDE. Windows XP is a far cry from WINDOWS 3.11 and ROSS will
grow also into a sleek/efficient tool. Some old dog told me that everyone did
the same whiney song when Resource Orders were introduced back when, so
history is just repeating itself.

COMMUNICATION - let the ROSS help desk know of your frustration in a
constructive way so they can iron the wrinkles out . 866-224-7677 should be
pre-programmed into every dispatch phone available. Learn how to Print
Screen Capture and email the problem to them. They are really nice folks.

ESCAPE ROUTES/SAFETY ZONES - that's what the fax machine and phones
are for. Don't wait to order that AT if you need it now and don't have anyone
handy who knows how to order it/push it in ROSS. Get it ordered and then
enter it in ROSS.) (always have a backup plan - mine includes paper)

TRAINING - our region has a fantastic ROSS training team who visit all the
dispatch centers and coordinate ROSS practice days every week (before busy
season) with a conference call afterwards for input/problem solving.

thanks for allowing a place to put my thoughts - I'm sure I forgot
something but it's 0209 and if I remember - I'll write back,

7/6 SoCal Capt,

Thank you for that post.

No home, or Forest is worth a life, but in the same aspect everyone is entitled to protection, people, plants, natural resources, homes, and animals alike. thats why I got into this profession, knowing that I played a small part in saving these resources makes me feel alive at the end of the day. Theres no other feeling like it. Again thank you very much.

PS for all those who haven't seen me around in a while, I opened a shop here in Fairbanks (The Cats Meow) and I just got back from the Sand Creek Fire in Delta Junction so as you can guess I've been a very bussy girl. I will always find time to do my part as a wildland firefighter.

Take care of yourselves and each other its getting crazy out there. SAFETY FIRST

7/6 Firefighter JD

ICT5 and FFT1 (squad boss) are two separate taskbooks. To have an
ICT5 task book you are required to be a qualified FFT1, that is if your
supervisor is following the rules set forth in either the 310-1 or the
5109.17. (These are the qualification system guides that ALL wildland
fire agencies have agreed to follow as a minimum.)

7/6 FWFSA de-affiliating from IAFF

Well, I can't really understand this one. Why would the FWFSA de-affilliate from the IAFF?

The IAFF is one of the major reasons I joined the FWFSA. I'm NPS, which has no unions and as such no representation.

I liked the fact the the FWFSA, through the auspices of the IAFF was able to be represented in DC. Sure, the association will now take that money they were sending to the IAFF and hire someone to schmooze the OPM and congressmen. But what about the purely political support of being able to say, "We're part of the IAFF."

Since I'm still waiting for somebody to send me my membership package, I 'm not really sure how many people are in the FWFSA, of how my dues are actually spent. But I have the feeling that the next time FWFSA is mentioned on Capitol Hill without the IAFF, people are going to say, "Who's that?"

emt Micah
7/6 Ab, was wondering if this ever comes up,
when saving structures, and doing triage on the run - does homeowners insurance play a factor?

I ask because one of our managers was working an interface fire, and was faced with a decision. With all things being equal, same exposure, fuels, landscaping etc.

Would it be wrong to concentrate efforts on the uninsured structure? knowing you only have the resources to save one?

thanks ab later - be safe

Eric @ PW
7/5 Hi , here is a link to a page I made last year of the the Florence & sour bisquet fires.
all the photos on this page were taken from the internet with exception to the following
photos, which i took myself. Thanks


PS. I really enjoyed surfing thru your pages

eightl0.jpg , eight9.jpg, 0008.jpg ,0007.jpg , furs1.jpg, furs1.jpg,

*-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy 4th!-*


from all the Abs

Safe FIREWORKS anyone? Give it a moment for full darkness to fall.

7/4 SoCalCapt:
With one short note, you personally generated the largest number of well-thought-out postings to TheySaid that I've read in a long time.
Some...I agree with strongly; some... I'm in absolute disagreement with !
But....... as the 4th of July approaches rapidly, our freedom to have this dialogue is even more appreciated, and I respect everyone's rights to post them (with respect for each other, too!)

Thanks to "Original Ab" and all the support Abs/Abbys for this site, and be thankful that John Ashcroft is not our Webmaster!

7/4 JerseyBoy,

I have been appreciating your insightful comments on the environmental
debate. I think your remarks have been well balanced and intelligent.
Thanks for sharing.

7/4 Firefighters,

AZ weather conditions
Watch this site for SW fire info:
Watch this site for So Cal fire info:
For info every morning on WA/OR fires:

Check the Fire News page if seeking info from the news media.
7/4 The Jobs Page, wildland firefighter Series 462 and Series 455 have been updated. Ab.
7/4 Dispatcher

Thanks for responding. I agree that the AD on Humphrey's team is a "drop in the bucket" compared to money spent on ROSS.

Something to ponder: <snip> This person had not touched ROSS until last week. Specialist?
How far was this advertised? Was it open for about 2 hrs? Why an AD? Why not a FS/BLM/BIA person?

This person has a job all winter and forgets the fire people in the "off season".

ROSS is going to work, too much political pull for it NOT TO WORK. Maybe putting a round peg in a square hole, it is going to fit! Does not matter that this year it is a mess.

7/3 Ab,

Ran into one of our new "pups" in the grocery store. He was "sugaring up".
Said he fought his first fire in norcal and got slimed by an AT. He's not a
"virgin" anymore. Another one bites the dust and he's loving it.

7/3 Ab,

I have a supervisor who insists on qualifying me as IC5, yet I have heard that now it is incorporated into the FFT1 task book as well. Since I will also be getting a squad boss task book this summer, would it be redundant to get an IC5 task book? I have looked at both the IC5 and FFT1 task books and they look almost identical, but cannot find anywhere if one qualifies you as the other.

7/3 Thankx Hugh.

My comment was that resources that rely on GTRs are grounded. This, in effect, is true. The GTR is a thing of the past and no longer available for arranging travel.

T<snip> failed to mention that the 'meeting' took place only after hue and cry, and the abolishment of the GTR. I am happy to hear of the alternatives proposed, now to see how long the 'alternative' will take to be in place, especially on a long holiday weekend.

7/3 From Firescribe:

Aspen Fire threat near Tucson AZ grows.
A perimeter map and some nice photos here, like looking out my aunt's back patio... she lives on the north side backing up to the canyon... She has increased her defensible space to several hundred feet from her house. I hope that's enough. Map of Aspen and Bullock Fire '02.

Word just came in that the Santa Catalina Mountains (Coronado NF) have been closed to public entry. Here's how it looks without fire. Not like that now.

In SoCali, AP reports there's a fire in Lake Elsinore (Riverside) area, near I-15 and Railroad Canyon
Press Enterprise also
South Ops News and Notes
Details on the net are slim, but I can tell you, temps are in excess of 100 degrees, RH is very low- low double digits, and winds are 20 mph.

Be Safe as we celebrate our Independence.

Thanks Ab, for the opportunity to exercise our Freedom of Speech. We have much to be thankful for in this US of A.
7/3 Thought everyone might be interested in this.............


July 9 marks the 50-year anniversary of the Rattlesnake Fire that took the
lives of 15 fire fighters on the Mendocino National Forest in 1953, one of
the worst tragedies in wildland fire fighting history in California.

A brush fire was reported in Grindstone Canyon several miles northwest of
Elk Creek on the national forest July 9, 1953. As the fire raged out of
control, the Forest Service requested volunteers from the New Tribes
Mission which was located about 25 miles south of the fire to help them.
That evening, the main fire was contained and 24 men were sent down into
the canyon to put out a spot fire. After this was accomplished, the crew
sat down to eat their supper. They had just begun to eat when the wind
shifted direction and the original fire jumped its line and started down
the canyon. One of the firefighters from above ran down to warn the crew
to get out of the canyon. Nine of the men scrambled up the hill to the
firefighter who was warning them and made it to safety. The other 15 men
tried to run down the canyon to a road below, but were overtaken by the
rapidly moving fire.

Fourteen firefighters from the New Tribes Mission and one Forest Service
employee from the Mendocino National Forest lost their lives while fighting
that wildland fire. The brush fire burned over 1300 acres before being
brought under control on July 11, 1953.

The result of the tragedy led to changes in wildland fire training,
firefighter safety standards, firefighter knowledge and awareness of fire
weather and fire behavior. The Rattlesnake Fire is reviewed every year by
wildland fire fighters across the nation in basic firefighting training and
fire refresher training as part of "Lessons Learned".

In 1993 the Mendocino National Forest commemorated the anniversary of the
Fire with a memorial service at the Grindstone Overlook on Forest Highway
7, which was attended by some of the surviving firefighters and many family
members and friends of those who died July 9, 1953. A large boulder
bearing a plaque with the names of the fallen firefighters was dedicated.
A kiosk at the Overlook states that the tragic loss on the Rattlesnake Fire
spurred the Forest Service to increase firefighter training and research on
fire hazard management.

While memorial services are not planned for this anniversary, the Forest
Service is developing an interpretive and training site near Powderhouse on
old Forest Highway 7. A memorial trail will also be constructed to the
location where the firefighters lost their lives. The project is planned
for completion in 2004-5. Memorial and dedication services will be planned
after the completion of the project.

Those wishing to support the project may send donations to:
c/o Glenn County Fire Chiefs Association,
445 South Butte Street,
Willows, Ca. 95988.

Inquiries regarding the project may be directed to
Jim Barry, Grindstone Ranger District at (530) 934-3316, or
TTY (530) 934-7724.
7/3 SoCalCapt:

In my experience, some environmental groups are against having homes in what they will term "wilderness" to begin with. And while I have yet to encounter an environmentalist that is against protecting people's lives, some have expressed the notion that people who build in or on the edge of forest land should get what they have coming to them - the price of living in the stupid zone. They're idea is that if people are ignorant enough to build somewhere they shouldn't, then we shouldn't spend our money protecting someone's stupidity - and not at the expense of actually caring for the land. Certainly, not all environmentalists feel this way, but judging from comments posted on this board, a good number of firefighters are frustrated at homeowners who build deep in the forests too.

I guess at the root of the debate is really who "owns" public lands. My take has always been that we all do - and that means sharing and compromises. Endangered or threatened species are often used as a trump card by environmental groups, but logging, mining, and oil industries have their own trump cards that they play. It naive to think that there is enough for everybody, but silly to think that one group or way of thinking has exclusive claim to stewardship rights.

Nerd on the Fireline:

I to take exception to the notion that the government has erred on the side of environmental overprotection. It is only relatively recently (about 30 years) that environmental laws have been passed, and even less that they have been stringently enforced. It amazed me when I first started working fire in the West how people viewed the environment as a disposable quantity.

But I grew up in New Jersey where the number of Superfund sites in that state is greater than all the others in the U.S. combined! Add in the most densely populated state in the union, and environmental laws make quite a lot of sense. They've literally changed the nature of my state since I was a child: medical waste no longer washes up on the shores, dangerous smog alerts are a fraction of what they were only 10 years ago, and acid rain has, for the most part, stopped.

I agree that environmental laws have pushed our nastiest business overseas - but that hardly seems to be an indictment of the laws themselves - more of the industry. If the environmental laws weren't there, if the OSHA regulations were not in place, would industry be as good a friend of the community and environment as it proclaims to be now? the track record suggests it wouldn't.

I also agree that the government needs to consider all aspects, and formulate balanced answers. After all, people need wood products and minerals. But when considering economics and science, economics most always wins - because economics has money that pays for election campaigns. This isn't to say we're in the pocket of industry, because environmental interests do their own form of lobbying (as you witnessed in your town hall meeting) and make donations. This is what I think bothers SoCalCapt - groups that spend many years complaining about the iron fisted tactics of industry, now use them too.

Science is most often subverted to politics because science isn't pretty, and it costs money. Thats why we receive reports from the EPA that don't mention the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and makes no predictions about future global climates.

One interesting aspect of the talk given by Schlesinger and Epstein yesterday in DC was their belief that it will be the insurance industry that will most likely be the catalyst for public policy change. Simply, insurance costs from environmental disaster have increased 10 fold in the past 15 years, and will at least triple in the next 5 years - coming to a staggering $150 billion world wide by 2010. This will start a flow of money to politicians urging more regulation of industry. And this, I suspect, is what the driving force of protecting the environment for the people will be about.


The insurance industry may also be the main push for homeowners living in the wooie (WUI) to make their homes fire wise as well. Ab.
7/3 Nerd on the Fireline and SoCalCapt-
Interesting discussion.
SoCalCapt-here's an opposing point of view for you. People choose to build homes in habitat where threatened or endangered species live, or in an area that is not defensible from a fire protection standpoint. Does poor judgment on their part mean that other's rights, including the right of other species to exist, are null and void? Should people get what they want, when they want it, irregardless of the long term effects? Should we continue to pay for the poor decisions made by others-eg those who build (and rebuild) in flood zones?

Nerd on the Fireline: Am in the middle of a book called "Undaunted Courage" about the Lewis and Clark expedition. Here's an excerpt "this scenery already rich pleasing and beatiful was still father hightened by immence herds of Buffaloe deer Elk an antelopes which we saw in every direction feeld on the hill and plains" (spelling and punctuation by Merriwether Lewis). This scene has sadly changed over the last 200+ years due to lack of an environmental ethic, and we all have lost something irreplaceable.
"But the level of irrational environmentalist pressure we’re encountering is forcing mining, and forestry, overseas to places like Southeast Asia and South America where we’re duplicating the sins of our fathers on a scale impossible before the recent advances in mining and timbering efficiency. I’ve seen things overseas that have made me feel physically sick."
What does this say about the ethics of those companies that do move overseas to be free from environmental constraints? Seems to me they would do the same thing here if they could get away with it.
"Ecology is checks and balances; organisms that can’t evolve to adapt to changing conditions go extinct".
Absolutely true. But does that include changes made by humans? Is it wise to "mess with mother nature" when we don't understand the long term effects of our actions? And are humans as a species somehow miraculously exempt from the the natural system of checks and balances? Personally, I doubt it.
"We need to protect the environment not for the sake of the environment, but for the sake of people; to quote John McPhee, "We aren’t druids; we’re not in this to sacrifice people to trees."
Sure-self interest is a key force in environmental protection. If one looks at examples in other countries, what happens when mother nature starts pushing back is not pretty (witness Somalia). But what is wrong with protecting something because it is the end product of millions of years of adaptation and change-in other words, something of a miracle?

Look at the environmental groups as an antidote to the mostly short-term, self-directed interests of a capitalist society. Human economics operate in something of an alternative world, often ignoring the vast infrastructure of nature upon which we all ultimately depend. Environmental groups, on the other hand, keep trying to add long term interests back into the equation. A prime example of short term versus long term interests is the removal of the rain forests for mining and agricultural purposes, in which short-term economic goals are met that benefit a few individuals. But what are the long term consequences for everyone else?

"Since we are all consumers, we are all part of the problem".

7/3 Hello Ab,

For those who are interested and may have missed the show's premiere, CNN will be airing an encore of the documentary "Summer of Fire" this Saturday, July 5th at the following times:

CNN Presents
Saturday, July 5
8 pm ET/5 pm PT
11 pm ET/8 pm PT

And for west coast night owls and east coast early risers:
Sunday, July 6
6 am ET/3 am PT

Best regards,
Craig Duff
7/3 NS,

Recently saw advertised on the government e-mail system, an ad for a ROSS specialist contractor out of N. Ops. For only 750 smackaroos a day (for an 8 hour day) plus travel and per diem you can have the pleasure of this gals company. Seems a mere drop in the bucket after the 50 mill plus spent on ROSS so far.

7/3 Re Travel Arrangements for AD Firefighters:
On 7/1, Foxfire posted this message:
Seems like the federal bean counters have decided not to issue any GTRs for travel effective this date. What perfect timing as the PLs move upward. State and AD resources that rely on GTRs to order travel, are grounded. Anyone have any positive information about getting these folks back in the loop?
Needless to say, this was a matter of some concern to the AD Firefighter Association (by the way, our Association has over 140 members since March and we encourage you to visit our web site at www.adfirefighter.org) So I contacted Tory Majors, FS-NIFC, AO and Incident Business Advisor, and received the following reply, which is good news.


Hugh Carson, AD Firefighters Organization
Resources are not grounded. The WO had a meeting that a Regional Travel representative attended and were provided information on how to accomplish travel now that GTRs were being abolished.

Two methods are being used: Units who have Centrally Billed Accounts can now utilize those for these instances which most were using to begin with and not GTRs.

Travel Management Center contracts with units can be amended to include payment language to be done through the National Finance Center and some other tracking system will be used versus the GTR #. This method works well and the TMCs receive payment quickly.

Most units are identifying which method to use and should be transitioning, and if units are not aware of the solutions they should contact their Regional Office Travel coordinator.
Hope this helps.
7/03 Found this on the web. First Responders Institute program is to assist fire departments-in-need secure essential equipment.

Glad to see additional organizations beginning to see fire departments needing assistance.

7/3 Nerd on teh Fireline,

I too have training as I call it, as a " professional land rapist", hard rock geology, mining, and petroleum engineering. I was also a firefighter for 18 ˝ years, 16 of those as a volunteer. I enthusiastically second your comments. I also agree with your explanation of the mining laws both old and new. That is why I now have a job as a draftsman, not enough work for the trained geologist, mining, and petroleum types.

Partly due to economics, partly due to environmental regulations. We in the good ole U.S. of A. have the some of the most strict mining reclamation laws in the world, I would venture to guess the same is true in the lumber industry. It's a crying shame what is happening in third world countries that have little or no environmental laws or ones that are poorly enforced or totally ignored.

There is an old saying " if you can't grow it, you have to mine it". It still holds pretty much true, the bottom line is that the world's population is growing, more people, more desires for a better life, more things.

As we all know there are people out there that will do what ever it takes to get what they want. That is the main problem with the world, and therefore the plague on the environment.

What it takes are people that care and think and use the resources wisely and don't squander them, which is another big problem. We also get a certain percentage of people who get so involved, on both sides, who can't or won't reach a compromise. I have tried to have the middle of the road approach, a " give and take" if you will, without going over board. If we go total environmental then it's back to the Stone Age. If we go hog wild and "earth first, we'll log the other planets later" attitude, we will burn up the resources/world rather quickly. It's a balancing act that humanity may not be able to handle. BUT LET'S HOPE WE DO.

All of you working firefighters be safe, both paid and volunteer! Have a safe and sane Independence Day tomorrow.

Charlie Jurecek, Retired Local Agency Volunteer Engineer.
7/3 What I've learned since I plunked out my first EA (carbon paper in a manual typewriter during the summer of 1973) is that "environmentalists" are just like the rest of humanity - each and every one of them fall somewhere on the bell curve. That means that there are a few in the "dark side" category. The vast majority are concerned and caring citizens who deserve their say and who will, when taken seriously, contribute to the quality of the decisions being made.

IMO the environmental dark siders are primarily two types - those who hold their views with such religious fervor that they are willing to be terrorists, and those who make excellent salaries off of charitable fund grants by lying through their teeth. Although they are a very small minority, the zealous and the greedy can cause havoc when not balanced by an aware and supportive public.

If your stomach can take it and it doesn't stress you out too much, do what you can to promote quality public education and involvement. The only way government agencies will regain public trust is to talk straight, walk the talk all the time, and treat the public like they own the land. They do. Slow learners who reside in the Stupid Zone will learn the hard way who they should have listened to.

7/3 Nerd on the fireline: You say,
"it is typical of the environmentalist mentality to consider themselves the knights in shining armor, and as long as the princess gets saved, it doesn’t matter if the castle gets burned to the ground, the peasants get slaughtered, and the sheep get raped."
Nice generalization, but like just about all generalizations, it's wrong. People could easily make a generalization about miners that was just as scurrilous (and mistaken), and I bet you'd take exception. Let's try a golden rule approach.
"Even if land could be claimed for $2.50 an acre, the claimant was still required to perform a certain dollar value’s worth of "assessment work". The idea there was that mining claims might be cheap, but in order to actually produce ore, the claimant would have to invest a very significant amount of capital, "
And they still get the land and minerals for FAR less than they would have to pay a private landholder. That's corporate welfare. Try to buy mineral lands in the private sector for what the 1872 Mining Act allows - you couldn't do it. So taxpayers are subsidizing miners.
"The mining industry in my state is regulated by more than forty federal, state, and other agencies. We are so closely watched in terms of environmental, safety, and other forms of compliance that it is becoming almost impossible to do business as a mine in the United States anymore"
You're from New Mexico, right? Well, if all that regulation and oversight will prevent just ONE more reoccurence of a devistating disaster like the Questa mine destroying the Red River, then it will be worth it. Miners brought it on themselves.
"So please don’t pick on the mining industry for not paying their debt to society. Especially because if you get in a car wreck, hope to god it happens in a mining town because (due to our legal requirements under MSHA, our OSHA-equivalent) most mining companies pay for emergency response training for their employees and allow their employees to respond from work. Mining towns have the highest per-capita responder rate in the nation."
So what? That hasn't brought back the Red River, or any of the other hundreds of Superfund mining sites that are poisoning the water we drink and air we breathe. Emergency-respond THAT!
"I and those like me make big holes where there used to be mountains, we make ugly waste rock piles and tailings ponds. We also make jobs and livelihoods for tens of thousands of people while actually, believe it or not, doing our damnedest to be environmentally responsible (almost 200,000 trees voluntarily planted to date!)."
All you have to do is read the list of Superfund mining sites to realize that if miners are trying as hard as you say they haven't done that good a job of it. And 200,000 trees? That's nothing - Not even 1000 acres! "Read Encounters with the Arch Druid by John McPhee…the president of the Sierra Club getting lessons in woodland ecology from a mining engineer."

That book's 30 years old or more.
"But the level of irrational environmentalist pressure we’re encountering is forcing mining, and forestry, overseas to places like Southeast Asia and South America where we’re duplicating the sins of our fathers on a scale impossible before the recent advances in mining and timbering efficiency. I’ve seen things overseas that have made me feel physically sick."
I'm sorry, but why when miners and loggers are being completely irresponsible overseas does that mean we should lower our environmental standards here?
"Right now, government has erred for a long time in the direction of environmental over-protection."
In your opinion. But still there are too many effects (and sources) of pollution in too many places.
"This may be heresy, but the environment can take care of itself."
Now you're making me roll on the ground laughing! The polluted rivers and watersheds and oceans and skies and destroyed wildlife habitat weren't able to take care of themselves. That took government intervention and environmental regulation!
"organisms that can’t evolve to adapt to changing conditions go extinct. The problem is that we humans change our environment faster than other organisms can adapt; we also introduce chemicals that could never and should never have been produced by nature. We need to protect the environment not for the sake of the environment, but for the sake of people"
Oh, please. What we need is to protect the environment FROM people. Just like us, flora and fauna need clean air, clean water, and decent land. If they can't live on it, we can't. Tell me what good an environment is that can't sustain diverse populations of flora and fauna.
"to quote John McPhee, "We aren’t druids; we’re not in this to sacrifice people to trees.""
Actually, I believe that was John McPhee quoting David Brower.

Do you like your good drinking water and clean air? Thank an environmentalist.

Sign me,
Fed Up With Rationalization (FUWR)
7/3 SoCalCapt and Everyone,

I don't think anyone is offended. Thank you from bringing this subject up. As you can see it has spawned a great deal of worthy input that I hope you will take the time to read and perhaps respond to.

I would like to recommend that anyone interested read the essay at the following link. "Design, Ecology, Ethics and the Making of Things" It is a speech that was given by William McDonough, a brilliant man who designs solutions that help the economy and preserve the planet. If anyone can lead the way to the future it is him. He designed a factory for Herman Miller (they make office furniture) that is both eco-friendly and worker friendly. Even though the building was expensive to build initially, the plant is so productive that it pays for itself every 3 months! And they have a great attendance and productivity rate because the place is designed to keep people working in it happy as well as healthy. This is just one example of the kinds of projects he conducts that are environmentally and economically sound. I encourage people take the time (if they have it) to read this essay on his general philosophy.

7/3 Part of the Aspen Fire update from Carrie Templin, Public Affairs Specialist, BLM, Arizona State Office. Be safe folks, looks like the Aspen Fire is throwing a curve. Ab.

SUMMARY: Wednesday afternoon the fire crossed the West Fork of Sabino Creek
and made a run south to the top of Rattlesnake Peak and spotted onto the
front range of the Santa Catalina mountains which is visible from Tucson.
The fire’s subsequent movement east prompted officials to implement a
precautionary evacuation of all non-fire suppression personnel who were
working on Mt. Lemmon. Additionally, fire crews staged at Rose Canyon
Campground were moved six miles south and east to a camp at Bear Canyon
Picnic Area. Early this morning Pima County Sheriff’s Department provided
access to Willow Canyon cabin owners to retrieve personal items. The fire
is expected to back down the front range in a southerly direction and
continue to push to the southeast today.

OBJECTIVES: Aggressive air tanker drops and helicopter bucket work in the
southwest and southeast portions of the fire will continue today.

CONCERNS: Northwest winds could push the fire to move southeast toward
Sabino Canyon. Southwest winds could push the fire toward Palisades Work
Center, Organizational Ridge camps, and infrastructure located on Mt.
Bigelow. Slopes in excess of 65 percent and topography fragmented by
numerous steep canyons, large rock outcrops, and excessively steep
ridgelines are significant control issues. Two power poles were damaged on
a powerline near Cargodera Canyon on the fire’s west flank and remains

RESOURCES: Currently four 20-person Hot Shot Crews, one type II crew,
four air tankers, seven helicopters and 13 engines are assisting with
suppression efforts. There are 30 tenders providing water to helicopters
and engines. Approximately 395 people are assigned.

RESTRICTIONS: The Mount Lemmon Highway is closed at the base of the
mountain at Milepost 0. The Control Road from Oracle and the San Manuel
Road has been closed by Pinal County near Oracle Hill Mine. Sabino Canyon
Recreation Area and Visitor Center is closed. No re-open date has been
announced at this time.

7/3 I really love it when one group characterizes another as "the Dark Side"…I’ll get into why in a second. In my personal experience (having worked in the environmental contracting industry), it is typical of the environmentalist mentality to consider themselves the knights in shining armor, and as long as the princess gets saved, it doesn’t matter if the castle gets burned to the ground, the peasants get slaughtered, and the sheep get raped.

Now, (en garde, Dick Mangan), I am a mining geologist by training. Let’s talk about the 1872 Mining Act. In 1872, the 1872 mining act meant that public lands could be claimed for mines for $2.50 an acre. This is no longer true, and pretty much never was. Even if land could be claimed for $2.50 an acre, the claimant was still required to perform a certain dollar value’s worth of "assessment work". The idea there was that mining claims might be cheap, but in order to actually produce ore, the claimant would have to invest a very significant amount of capital, funneling money into the community through paid labor, supplies, equipment, and taxes. In the old days, this might mean buying the miner’s hard tack, shovels, and dynamite from the local general store; these day’s it’s not unusual for a mining company to put a hundred million dollars into a prospect before breaking ground. The mining industry in my state is regulated by more than forty federal, state, and other agencies. We are so closely watched in terms of environmental, safety, and other forms of compliance that it is becoming almost impossible to do business as a mine in the United States anymore (citing the Mountain Pass mine in California, which was fined 1 million dollars because a dead desert tortoise was found on their property despite the fact that an autopsy revealed that the tortoise DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES). So please don’t pick on the mining industry for not paying their debt to society. Especially because if you get in a car wreck, hope to god it happens in a mining town because (due to our legal requirements under MSHA, our OSHA-equivalent) most mining companies pay for emergency response training for their employees and allow their employees to respond from work. Mining towns have the highest per-capita responder rate in the nation.

I loved it when at a recent public hearing, a paid activist stood up and laid into the mine for having no investment in the local community. The entire local volunteer department was there, many of whom are mine employees; our water tender is provided by the mine, our ambulance gets re-stocked from the mine warehouse, and the building the meeting was being held in along with the latest enlargement of our firehouse was built with donated mine labor and equipment.

Now, by the standards of most of the even vaguely environmentally aware nation, I am the "Dark Side". I and those like me make big holes where there used to be mountains, we make ugly waste rock piles and tailings ponds. We also make jobs and livelihoods for tens of thousands of people while actually, believe it or not, doing our damnedest to be environmentally responsible (almost 200,000 trees voluntarily planted to date!). Read Encounters with the Arch Druid by John McPhee…the president of the Sierra Club getting lessons in woodland ecology from a mining engineer. Would we be as environmentally responsible as we are without environmentalist pressure (and I challenge you forestry blokes to answer the same question)? No, probably not. But the level of irrational environmentalist pressure we’re encountering is forcing mining, and forestry, overseas to places like Southeast Asia and South America where we’re duplicating the sins of our fathers on a scale impossible before the recent advances in mining and timbering efficiency. I’ve seen things overseas that have made me feel physically sick.

The thing is that we’re symbiotes; there needs to be balance and mutual understanding between the groups, and to my mind, it’s the duty of government to maintain that balance. Government needs to look at the science, the economics, and the (shudder) politics of any situation and choose between the extremes, hopefully bringing both groups closer to "reasonable" solutions. Right now, government has erred for a long time in the direction of environmental over-protection. This may be heresy, but the environment can take care of itself. Ecology is checks and balances; organisms that can’t evolve to adapt to changing conditions go extinct. The problem is that we humans change our environment faster than other organisms can adapt; we also introduce chemicals that could never and should never have been produced by nature. We need to protect the environment not for the sake of the environment, but for the sake of people; to quote John McPhee, "We aren’t druids; we’re not in this to sacrifice people to trees."

Nerd on the Fireline

Symbiotes: dissimilar organisms that live together for mutual benefit. An example is lichen, which is a blue-green algae and fungus living in symbiosis. Ab.
7/3 Ab,

This last volley of discussion regarding "environmental protests," their genesis and effects provide a stunning example of the level of dialog possible in this venue which perhaps might not be possible in a "Town Hall" meeting where (in my opinion) Chamomile tea should replace caffeine leaden coffee.

You're right about the value of an open forum - and we should all keep in mind - the information whirling around in places like this has potentially far reaching effects...we just can never be sure if that effect will ultimately be constructive or not. We can only hope.

Fire Momma
7/3 Everyone!!! I'm sorry if you think I stirred up a can of worms. This is a friendly group and I hope I didn't offend anyone. Ab, Abby, et all always told me this is open to post and reply to issues relating to wildland firefighters... all views are considered. I've expressed my view and am willing to hear the other side. My side sucks right now and I want to know why the enviro side is so against us in protecting lives and property. In Southern California, we haven't had large scale logging programs for about half a century and we are not turning over to commercial logging... we are trying to save lives, protect communities, and restore forest health.

Here are my thoughts...

1) Come out and chat on wildlandfire.com and express your opinions if you disagree or agree. Your comments and replies are welcome. I'm around many nights a week and would be happy to defend my post.

2) Environmentalists opposing Forest Service community protection projects: Stand in my shoes some day and let me know how you feel when the community is DEMANDING protection and the other side is tying your hands. How do we deal with the loss of life? ..... My future ....."Thank god I saved one Kino Checkerspot or one Arroyo Toad... too bad 100 houses were destroyed and five residents were killed."

7/3 There was a panel discussion here in DC yesterday,
sponsored by the Civil Society Institute concerning
public health as it relates to forest fires. The
panelists were William Schlesinger of Duke
Environmental School and Paul Epstein of Harvard
Medical School.

Without going through all the details, both men
advocated a mixed policy approach including prescribed
burns, understory thinning, and "let burn". however,
the most intriguing aspect was both men's conclusion
that these policies - unless enacted on a grand scale,
would do little to stop the problem of large

The reasoning behind this? Drought.

Both predicted more frequent, longer and more severe
droughts throughout the western u.s. (the east coast's
would be less severe, but more frequent) due to the
effects of global warming. This in turn could play
havoc with the nation's fire suppression goals.

I know most of us here think in terms of forest health
(I certainly do) but give less weight to larger
climate issues, because they happen slowly and aren't
"events" in themselves. But again, its another angle
to be thinking about.

7/3 Here is an idea that I saw on another web list server dealing with wildland fire. How about honoring Paul Gleason with a small "WWPD" on your wildland fire hard hat? The initials, standing for "What Would Paul Do?" would be both a tribute to Paul Gleason the hero, inventor of LCES and promoter of firefighter safety and survival, and a small reminder and conversation starter about firefighter safety in general. I think this is a fine idea and I have already placed it on my helmet in a conspicuous place.

Captain 180
7/3 I have heard from several sources that Humphrey has added a ROSS "Specialist" to his team. Not a government employee but an AD. I know of many in the FS/BLM that could use the money to be on a team. This person has another job other than fire assignments. Yet a GS-4/5 etc is at that same rate throughout the year struggling to make ends meet. >From what I have seen so far there is no such animal as a "ROSS Specialists". Those that say they are usually don't know very much more than a regular user.

Question:(s) Is this fair to give this slot to an AD?
How are these positions advertised? If in fact they are.

7/3 Jersey Boy,

Absolutely well said regarding the subject of environmental protests and reactions against them. Your even tongue is so important in this era of extremes. Ever consider becoming a mediator?

Every time I witness things like the "commie bast**ds" comment, or the young EF! girl locking herself to an old rusted out car on a logging site, I think of Edgar Allen Poe's "Pendulum" swinging from one absurd extreme to another. My main hope is that sometime in the future sound minds will prevail more often than amped out emotion, and decisions that affect us all will be made with that in mind.

Fire Momma
7/3 vfd cap'n

Perhaps a lurking personnel wizard can answer this better, but from my
limited understanding of the "OT limit" rule.......

The rule would expand and limit the amount of OT that can be earned by
"exempt" employees.

Employees in supervisory or managerial positions are often classified as
"exempt". Under current rules they are limited in their hourly earnings
(Time-and-a-half) of the GS 10 step 1 hourly rate is the "max" hourly rate.
In addition, there is a max annual earnings equal to a GS-15 (step 10?)
Anyhow, this "rule" would expand the number of people classified "exempt"
and reduce the "max" earnings for that group. That's bad news for a wide
assortment of fed employees.

The good news?
Firefighters are also either "exempt" or "non-exempt" depending on 1. Their
regular home position and 2. Their fire assignment (ah....love the confusion).

Oh....the good news........I don't think the new rule means squat to us

The overtime pay for us is set by law, and that law says that for
"firefighting" emergencies, workers will be paid the full overtime rate.
I don't know that any "rule" overturns "law".

Side point - note that true OT applies only to fire emergencies. Search
and rescue, floods, choking your chicken........see old rules.

Again, any personnel wizard lurking out there that has a better grasp of

Old Fire Guy
7/2 Ab,

I think the new overtime pay rules could have a huge effect in wildland fire. Apart from the automatic salary threshold of $65,000 to be exempt from overtime, employees making as little as $22,100 a year could be denied overtime based on their job duties.

Engine and crew bosses who are paid a salary on established crews could fall under the definition of "executives." And just about anyone on an IMT would classify as an "administrator." Anybody who uses the Fireline Handbook and appendixes but isn't doing manual labor could be classified as an "administrative" employee exempt from overtime pay, under section 541.204:
"b) Work requiring a high level of skill or training may include work by employees who use a reference manual. The use of such a manual can require a high level of skill and training if the manual contains highly technical, scientific, legal, financial or other similarly complex information that can be interpreted properly only by those with advanced training or specialized knowledge or skills. Such manuals are used to provide guidance in addressing very difficult or novel circumstances. Thus, if an employee performs administrative work that satisfies the ``high level of skill or training'' standard, using this type of reference manual would not affect the employee's exempt status."
See the Economic Policy Institute analysis at http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/briefingpapers_flsa_jun03 and the new Dept. of Labor rules at http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/briefingpapers_flsa_jun03 (.phpl) or http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/fedreg/proposed/2003033101.pdf (.pdf)

Somewhere on the jargon page I saw something about "black mountain = green wallet" and the "fire triangle" being made up of overtime/hazard/travel pay. Just wondering if there was less financial incentive to the individuals making decisions, would even fewer fires escape initial/extended attack?

vfd cap'n
7/2 SoCalCapt:

I don't know if I'm part of the "dark side", since I'm
a FS worker and have had projects held up by
litigation from environmental groups, but let me
respond in part:

One of the reasons environmental reviews are required
is that for a long time the Forest Service (and other
land managing agencies) did not consider the effects
that their projects would have on the environment. To
take an absurd case: there used to be a golf course
and hotel in the middle of the glacial moraine in
Rocky Mountain National Park.

Keep in mind that the Forest Service was, for a long
time, at the mercy of the logging industry in certain
areas, and lands certainly weren't managed with the
best interests of the environment. Now, even when
projects that are beneficial to the environment are
proposed, they are contested from all sides. We pay
in part for the failures of earlier generations to
think ahead and consider other alternatives.

I agree that countless rounds of environmental impact
statements and public comments can be frustrating at
best and counter-productive at worst. But this
process is an attempt to eliminate political meddling
in the management of public land. Unfortunately,
things wind up in the courts.

Part of the price we pay for living in a democracy is
having to endure those who disagree with us. Comments
from the local residents threatening to "run the local
commie bast**ds off the mountain" don't seem to add
anything to the debate, and in a sense actually hinder
the public comment process: people won't speak up if
they fear others will retaliate. This drives folks to
sue, and hope the courts will listen.

People will not always agree even when evidence seems
clear. The best public land agencies can do is hope
to limit the amount of litigation - not eliminate it.
People on all sides are protective of the lands the
love for differing reasons - and projects that seem to
benefit the environment can often ruin someone's
perception of "how nature should be."

It would be a lot easier if the public had confidence
in both the agency doing the work and the science
involved in the project. But if reports like the
recent EPA analysis of the climate that edited out any
mention of global warming are still being issued, then
the public's confidence in federal agencies and the
scientific process will be severely impaired. And the
lawyers will smiling on the sidelines.

7/2 SoCalCapt,

Look, there is no need for name-calling. You want to talk to an environmentalist? I’ll talk to you. I am an environmentalist and a member of the fire community. I’ll tell you straight out, I don’t like logging that much but I love prescribed fire. I would like to point out that the reason we have all these HUGE crowning fires these days is because our forests are unhealthy due to 100 years for fire suppression. That is 100 years of people in this country messing with Mother Nature’s system.

Now I will be the first to admit that there are many environmentalist out there that either do not know what they are talking about or who go to extremes. But you have to try to understand that these are some very frustrated people. Most of them have a spiritual type reverence for this planet. How would you like it if you went to church on Sunday and found someone had trashed the place? I think you’d be pretty angry. And for every extreme or ignorant environmentalist out there, there is someone else who is willing to do some pretty bad things to make a fast buck. Bottom line is that these people are doing what they BELIEVE is right for future generations, your children included. They have good intentions, it isn’t the "dark side" there is no dark side. There are just a lot of people out there looking for an answer and a lot of misconceptions. Let’s not forget that the way we handle fire has changed in the past 30 years. Hell, the guy I learned from who has lived the whole of his adult life in the fire arena (30 years +) told me himself that he realizes now that firefighters used to be a little heavy handed back in the day. That reputation remains even though it is outdated. Environmentalists and others who serve that land have to STOP SEEING EACHOTHER AS THE ENEMY!! Unfortunately the two sides of the issue have been pretty much reduced to mud-slinging and finger pointing. Of course they go to meetings and sit silently and make notes waiting to speak until they get to court. How would you feel walking into a room full of people who hate your guts without even knowing you? You’d keep quiet wouldn’t you? You said it yourself, "I've been told by many of the local residents that they would run the "local commie bast**ds off the mountain". Regardless of whether or not they might have helpful information or insight they are running a risk of facing a lot of aggression. These people are AFRAID to say anything outside the protection of the courts. Maybe if someone were to stand up and say "is there anyone here that has any environmental concerns?" the person might be tempted to voice their opinion. If we could get past all the hate and judgment (on both sides) then maybe some progress could be made. In part of northwestern New Mexico ranchers and environmental groups are working together to take on oil companies that are doing some pretty bad stuff. It is possible for people who love the land to work together!!! I would like to take this opportunity to point out that environmental groups do not have nearly as much power as people think they do. Take the example of the Forest Service. Forest Service puts up a plan and if it is appealed within 30 days then the Forest Service has to delay execution of the plan for 90 days to revaluate it. IF an environmental group takes them to court, the ONLY way they can actually STOP the Forest Service plan is to prove that the Forest Service is breaking Forest Service law. It is simply asking the Forest Service to govern itself. When and how those laws come into being is a much more tangled web.

We have to move forward together and stop taking things so personally. It is easy to point the finger, it is nice to have an "enemy" because it is simpler that way, but let’s put aside romantic notions of righteousness and try to understand eachother and appreciate what both sides have to bring to the table.
7/2 SoCalCapt's comments about environmentalists who are "tying the hands of Federal Land managers....went to the same schools as we did......and have gone to the dark side" necessitates a response.

I graduated from forestry school in 1968: we proudly walked around campus with "Clear Cut & Burn" stenciled on the backs of our Filson cruiser's vests. After a few years of active duty military time, I hired on as a PreSale Forester in western Oregon. Our mission: prepare and sell 105MMBF per year, come Hell or High water. It wasn't uncommon for the Ranger to get a personal phone call from our local US Congressman, demanding a special sale to support a local mill owner's needs. It didn't matter if the forest needed that treatment or not: get the cut out, or we'll find someone that can! On several flights into the Portland area during that era, I was embarrassed by what we were doing to the National forest lands that we were entrusted to protect and "use wisely".

Fast forward to the 1980's: we experienced the first Earth Day, passed NEPA, the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the National Forest Management Act. What's the common thread to all of these?? They are LAWS, passed by OUR Congress, and are not subject to violation by well-intentioned foresters, biologists or timber Beasts.

There are a lot of laws out there that these same Congress people have passed, and that I suspect that SoCalCapt really likes and supports: the Fair Labor Standards Act that pays her/him lots of OT; the Veteran's Preference Act; the Civil Service Acts that protects her/his job from indiscriminate firing, and allows a full retirement at age 50 with 25 years, or age 55 with 30 years for non-firefighters.

I've got a few personal favorites that really gall me: the 1872 Mining Act that gives away MY public land for $2.50 per acre, even in 2003! But, it's the LAW, and as a former Federal land manager, I had to abide by it, in spite of my distaste for what it did.

So, SoCalCapt, can you give us some examples where the "environmentalists that we went to school with, but went over to the dark side" have done anything except ask the Federal agencies to faithfully adhere to the laws that YOUR congress person helped pass, and that Carter/Reagan/Bush and Clinton have signed into Law (I can't think of any laws that DubYa signed that the environmentalists are quoting in court...!). Seems like the Courts of the US are believing the environmentalist's claims that the Agencies are NOT following the law of the land.

Don't like the law? Get it changed, but don't ask or expect folks to break the law just 'cause it's an obstacle to business as usual.

I'm proud of my 30+ years as a Forester with the USFS, and equally proud to be a member of the Montana Wilderness Association and "Wilderness Watch". The only legacy that will matter 100 years from now is the condition of the Land entrusted to us, and I believe that the environmental folks are doing the best they can, using the tools OUR Congress gave them, to leave those Public Lands in great shape for the future.

Dick Mangan
7/2 SoCalCapt,

Given the hostility in your post, why would you expect anyone to want to engage in a dialogue with you about this very complex matter? There's little indication you are prepared to listen and consider what your opponents have to say, and much reason to believe you'd be hostile. When anyone who you disagree with is on the 'Dark Side,' why should anyone believe there's any point in a discussion?

Tsk, tsk. . .Sunil, you've made the same mistake I have more than once. Never underestimate or try and predict the diversity, depth of experience, and commitment to providing opposing perspectives by the participants of this website (see the posts above in reply to SoCalCapt). Open discussion, even if emotions appear unsupported by logic, provide opportunities for all to learn and become more educated. The subject, or opinion expressed by SoCalCapt, along with countless others expressed here over the last seven years, epitomize the reason for this sites creation. While SoCalCapt may or may not be swayed from his point of view by the response to his message, there still remains a wealth of information for others to consider. Who is to say who will be affected by or chose to ignore any given message. Not me. Go ahead, say what you were thinking. Ab.

7/2 Ab,

This patch is worn by the Fremont County Sheriff's Office Wildland Volunteer Fire Team. The team consists of 25 Volunteer Firefighters who assist the 18 regular full time paid Deputies in Wildland Fire Suppression within Fremont County, Canon City,
Colorado. Would you please add this patch to your web site.
Thank You,
Senior Sergeant Thomas K. DeGarmo
Fremont County Sheriff's Office
Wildland Fire Team Commander

I posted it on the Logos 9 photo page. Ab.
7/2 In the news post www.guardian.co.uk, a local State Agency took emergency action to save a threatened and endangered species. They did not undergo an environmental analysis or environmental impact statement. They recognized the problem and fixed it without months of review.

I commend this agency for having the abdominal fortitude to do what is right and exercise the training they have received.... AND DO IT ON A MOMENTS NOTICE.

Why do the environmental groups keep tying the hands of Federal land managers in doing the same thing to save the resources of the National Forests? I've heard we just got a notice of intent on our Forest to stop projects (sue) from a well known southwest group. It would be interesting to see any of the complaintant group to show up and speak at our many community meetings and explain their point. They lurk around and take notes, but do not comment except in the courtroom. They do not want to participate in the same process as afforded by law for PUBLIC COMMENT.

I've been told by many of the local residents that they would run the "local commie bast**ds off the mountain".

I'd just like the bast**ds to let us do the work that we are charged to do and went to school to do. They went to the SAME SCHOOLS WE DID!!

I'd like to see all of my friends from school and work again and "toss a few" to see exactly why they have gone to the dark side. Is it FAME or FORTUNE?


7/2 I am looking for the gentleman that runs i believe it is alpine transport, he runs school buses equipped to transport firefighters, he is in the idaho area if you might be able to put me in contact with him i would greatly appreciate it, i have misplaced his phone number


We can forward information on. Ab.
7/2 jimmyjoeraybob:

what proposal are you referring to? i haven't seen
news here in d.c. specific to federal overtime,
only a labor department move to re-classify some blue
collar jobs as managerial positions.

nonetheless, its a trend i can see spreading.

also from d.c., an article about outsourcing and the
FS: it seems the FS, in the course of evaluating jobs
contractors can do more cheaply, is looking at
contracts already made and seeing the the FS can do it
more cheaply:



Ab: sorry about the sign in necessary for the wash.
post website, but it only asks zip and age. -gk
7/2 to abercrombie,

I am trying to become a wildland firefighter. I did not apply this summer due to some advice from a friend. I was told that if i finish my degree in forestry i would have more options.

I have a few questions:

I have been looking at some of the wildland fire fighter job ads and trying to understand what the categories mean. Some say gs-462-3, firefighter T101 and some say gs-462-3, engine T101; what is this difference?

What is the difference between gs-462-3, engine T-101 and gs-462-4, engine 106 besides pay level?

What is a redcard and how can i get one?

Are there training classes held in northern California?

When usfs starts hiring next year for seasonals should i call individual ranger units and express my desire to work for them on top of the normal application process?

What are some good physical exercises and goals that will help me prepare physically for next season.?

Thank you for your time
Billy f

Maybe someone can explain the firefighters numbers and engines questions you ask.
Just taking a look under nationwide full time seasonal jobs, I think the letters/ numbers like engine T101 are simply part of the vacancy announcement number. GS is important and relates to status and pay, series is important. It is a bit complicated with forestry tech series (462), range tech series (455), professional biologist series (401) etc, different fire jobs within those series (eg, firefighter, engine hotshot, etc) and different GS levels.

Here's Redcard information and answers to other job questions about training, etc.

You will be provided with basic training when you're hired. If you have time, you can find ROP (free) training in northern CA. Those who get the basics have a much better chance of being hired than those who do not as R Ty O recently demonstrated. (His attitude and persistence helped too.)

Call, visit, express an interest and be persistent with selling yourself. Look through the list of questions and answers I pointed you to above under Redcard info.

Maybe someone will offer some good physical exercises and goals. You will have to pass the Work Capacity Test, arduous level (walk 3 miles carrying 45 lb in 45 minutes). It's important to be in shape.

7/1 I have updated the Jobs Page, wildland firefighter Series 462 and Series 455. Nature Conservancy is looking for a Prescribed Fire Specialist in TX.

Check the Classifieds page. Paul has light bars, etc for sale. Ab.
7/1 Here's that pic that I promised of our new rig.


I put it on Engines 7 photo page under Bullard TX Brush Truck. Ab.
7/1 I've been a fan of your site for a while. It gives one from Canada a little insight into US issues. We have our share in Ontario too! If you want to check out some good Ontario fire pics, go to http://affm.mnr.gov.on.ca.

Things have calmed down somewhat here as we have had some rain, but there is still alot of fire season left!!!

Be Safe Eh!
Canadian Fire Gal

Welcome Canadian Fire Gal. We have that link on the links page under World. Readers, when this site opens, click Current Fire Situation and then Photos. Takes a while to load. Some nice ones there. Ab.
7/1 Seems like the federal bean counters have decided not to issue any GTRs for travel effective this date. What perfect timing as the PLs move upward. State and AD resources that rely on GTRs to order travel, are grounded. Anyone have any positive information about getting these folks back in the loop?

7/1 Ab,
I've got to watch out when I get to cogitating. Here are some comments about IA systems.

An article about the initial attack on the Aspen fire in the Arizona Daily Star by Mitch Tobin raises debatable questions. The article can been found at www.azstarnet.com.

Using the facts presented in a newspaper article is a chancy proposition but I‘ll use them for argument’s sake. I am part of the oft-maligned California fire fighting program, worse yet a Can’t Dig Fireline state dude. Yes, I own and wear sunglasses, but not the official union model.

There is information in the article, some specific and some not specific.
The specific information includes a timeline of the incident.
1502- First report by Mt. Lemmon lookout. The fire was located several miles down a hiking trail. A walk-in fire?
1505- The first airtanker was ordered. Was it directly dispatched, where did it come from? Are there helicopters available?
1508- Two engines are dispatched, soon followed by a third.
1638- The fire is 10 acres in size.
1702- The airtanker made its first drop. What was the turn around time?
1811- A Type 1 Incident Management Team is ordered. Firefighters are pulled off the line because it is too dangerous.

The information provided with no times attached:
- The first evening 45 firefighters are in the fire line. Size is 100 acres. Was this before or after the firefighters were pulled off the line at 1811 hours?
- In opening hours of the fire two hotshot crews are dispatched (ordered?). What was their response time?
- A hotshot crew rotated out of the area prior to the fire’s start due to their 14-day cycle ending.
- A local 10-person IA crew was dispatched to another locale just prior to the Aspen fire start.

What is not known to me are the local burning conditions, fire weather, predicted fire danger for that day, fuel type, staffing and resource availability, other fires in progress, cooperative agreements with state and local agencies, and a myriad of other factors. I’ll try to stick to the information presented.

The term Initial Attack is a slippery little devil. It seems to change based on individual and agency perception. My reference is the one under which I work. An IA fire is one that is contained in three hours without substantial resource augmentation. Extended attack fires are contained in the first operational (burning) period and may have substantial resource augmentation. Major fires require more than one operational period and/or a major commitment of resources for containment. According to Tobin’s article, NIFC statistics show that 99.1% of fires in federal jurisdiction were initial attack fires. It appears that what I consider IA and extended attack fires are lumped together for this figure. If this is the case then resources arriving sometime during the first operational period could be considered initial attack resources. This points to different acceptable loss levels, staffing and resource availability constraints, and governmental attitudes about providing services. If the Aspen fire were not close to Tucson and involving structures would it just be another Arizona wildfire? What are the state and local government responsibilities in the area? Are they adapting to meet the needs of the development they are allowing?

The fire was 10 acres after 11/2 hours. Rapid, sustained air attack probably could have held the fire until the ground forces arrived. Three hours after the fire started, the initial attack to extended attack break point, an IMT is ordered and the firefighters are pulled off the fire line. I heard reports of 60 mph winds at the fire. I don’t know when they occurred but the fire history in the first three hours suggests a containable fire. If firefighters were on the fire line in the "evening" when it is reported to be 100 acres had the fire behavior changed? Was there a push to contain the fire or was the incident in the mode of waiting for the IMT to arrive and take over? How long did the transition take?

I will not question the action to pull the fire fighters off of the fire line. That is a judgment call made at the scene. Once the safety card is played it is the trump card. However, there are many instances in recent years where all fire fighting is stopped when the head of the fire cooks off during peak burning conditions. The flanks are workable yet the assumption is made that the fire behavior is universal on the entire fire. All wildland firefighting agencies are facing a deficit in experienced leaders so it is more acceptable to stop working based on perceived adverse fire behavior. If we fight fire as we train, is our training so focused on when not to fight fire that we don’t provide the training to fight fire? One of the more refreshing items I’ve seen recently is the 1919 Northwest Firefighting Orders posted on this website. Read them again, think about them, it is about fighting fire and doing so safely.

Dispatchers have commented on another website that they send the resources that the managers have pre-planned to be appropriate. Was the response appropriate in this case? Is this location considered a wildland-urban interface? Does it merit specific response criteria or does it get the same response as a more isolated area of the forest. I saw a statement attributed to the Incident Commander indicating that this fire problem was anticipated. How was this anticipated event pre-planned? Was the plan to order an IMT quickly? What about an initial attack response equal to the anticipated risk?

It appears that the initial attack pre-plan may not have been based on the fire problem but may have been based on the fiscal, legal, and political constraints of all the agencies involved. The federal system protects federal lands as their system dictates. What are the legal responsibilities of the state and local agencies in the area? If all of the involved agencies agreed that the response planning for the area are adequate then the losses incurred in the fire are acceptable. If the affected public believes that the response levels are inadequate they need to buy the level needed. The levels of government closest to public are the most responsive.

A statement in Tobin’s article, if accurate, that" the best trained and equipped crews aren’t available for every new start", is a slap in the face of every engine and crew person who isn’t on one of the crews "that are continually shifted around the nation by federal fire managers". If the system is so dependent on the roving bands of fire warriors (hotshots) is the icing on the inside or outside of the cake? This speaks to a mindset that fire gods love big fires not piddling IA fires. Before you sensitive warrior types get your knickers in a twist, I did the hotshot dance and liked it. I enjoy getting to fires faster and having an earlier impact on the outcome more. If managers believe concept of the statement they have given up on the concept of strong initial and extended attack and have abdicated control and responsibility to the large fire, incident management team process.

California’s interagency firefighting system developed because of our grand example of suburban sprawl. We are light years ahead in our ability to build houses anywhere. Each level of government, federal, state, and local, has jurisdiction over about one-third of the state’s land. No one agency is able to deliver the resources needed on a day-to-day basis. Cooperation is required at all governmental levels. Do we always get along? No we don’t. Do we have different mandates? Yes we do. Yet we work together in spite of ourselves. The result is system that provides an effective response level capable of a high level of initial and extended attack as well as major fires. The federal agencies have gained back some of their previous resources losses. CDF has lost resources over the last 20 years. Local government has been the most responsive to the needs of their citizens. In my unit, and in most throughout the state, it is common to have city, county, district, state, and federal resources on the same incident. Other states are suffering the same rural development. Depending on the federal agencies to handling the increasingly complex fire protection problem without becoming a viable partner is backing away from the problem.

The Aspen fire is an unfortunate scenario. It may be the catalyst for an incisive review of the real fire protection needs in the Tucson, and similar, areas. Attitudes and policy at all levels need to be shifted so that the fire fighter has the best system possible assisting them in their fire fight.
7/1 Ab, Talk about fires in R5 and R6, we have more fires in the Eastern Great Basin. www.sltrib.com/2003/Jul/07012003/utah/71518.asp

An Apex Fire fighter
7/1 Anybody know the poop on the new administration proposal to cap federal
overtime? It's my understanding that once a person hits $65,000 in salary
+ overtime, you wouldn't be eligible for anymore overtime. If this is to
be a strict and hard rule with no exceptions, a lot, and I mean alot of the
folks in the fire arena would go bye-bye! Haven't heard if there would be
exceptions for emergency situations. If the government loves us enough to
have us choking chickens, responding to hurricanes, shuttles, let alone
wildfire, we should have an exception to this. Anybody know anything?

Have been enjoying the take on our language here in the south.

7/1 Ab and all,

Thank you for all your help. I got a job due to being persistent in Modoc County.

Have a nice day and I am sure I will see along the way.

R Ty O

Not only persistence, but getting that basic training helped. Keep in touch, Ty. Ab.
7/1 AZ Trailblazer,

I don't think lay offs will effect us A folks any more than the B folks. It all has to do with "excess" employees in any given class. Employees being declared "excess" will bump down to their next lowest rank held. I could conceivably return to my Firefighter II job, maybe not in my unit, but I will still have a job. So far I'm not an "excess" captain, but who knows! It also does not appear (so far) that LT employees or Seasonal have been targeted by this madness. I think, in my own paranoid way, the union will give back our "raise" in order to save jobs......maybe that is the very thing that has to happen until Davis is gone and saner heads prevail.

Sorry for the rant, I'll quiet down now.

BTW, my wife and I passed the fire up on I-5 near Lebec on our way home from San Diego. We started seeing the smoke from the fire around Pyramid Lake. The fire was moving out pretty good, we counted 4 homes in peril and saw what may be the cause, a burned out truck and trailer along side the road.

Further along Hwy 99 we also saw several more small roadside fires. Kern County Fire and Bakersfield Fire must have upset the Fire Gods!!

Be safe, it's hot and dry everywhere.

Captain Emmett
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