"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland
"All 55 deployments were in a safety zone and
two minor injuries resulted."
Let us keep our terminology straight, if shelters were needed to be
comfortable, then it was not a SAFETY ZONE, it was too small and therefore a
DEPLOYMENT ZONE was utilized. An error in fire behavior estimation was made
and this resulted in relying on too small an area for safety.
||The fires burning at Tahoe are called the Cod Complex, located near/on
Chickenhawk Ridge, Foresthill Area of Tahoe NF. The approximately 37 fires
were reported at 0855 today.
The most recent 209 at 1825 says they're 10 acres, 0 % controlled. Fires are
burning in the Middle and the North Fork of the American Rivers in very
As of 1825 these were the resources working on the fire(s):
Crews, all FS - 3 Type 1 Crew, 2 Type 2 Crews
Helicopters - 1 Heavy (State), 1 Type 2 (FS) and 1 Type 3 (Private)
Engines- 9 Single Resource (5 FS and 4 Private) and 3 ST (FS)
Dozers - 2 (Private)
Water Tenders - 2 (Private)
Overhead- 10 FS and 1 CDF
Helitack - 20 SR
Fixed Wing - 10 (4 FS, 6 State)
Thanks, SoCal CDF. Lots of beetle killed trees on the Tahoe. Be Safe All.
||Hey no name, thanks for the heads up on the weather around
Placer County (posted 8/31).
Hubby FF & strike team of engines are headed to Tahoe area.
I'm checking out local news sites on the web to see if I can get
more came in later:
Ab, thanks for your links
From Tahoe National Forest site...
Lightning Fire Update
Lightning hit the west and south ends of the forest on the morning of August
31. Several lightning fires have been discovered on the Foresthill and
Nevada City Ranger Districts. Crews and equipment are now being dispatched
to these fires. Precipitation has been spotty so far.
You're welcome. Ab.
||A good source for ATV water tanks with pumps, hose, and nozzles is Warne
Chemical in Rapid City, South Dakota. Be sure and ask for the optional 5 GPM
electric water pump, not the standard 3 GPM pump. Don't bother getting the
spray bars; they waste too much water; just use the hose with the nozzle.
The system is great for refilling bladder bags, mop-up in any fuel, and for
suppressing the flanks of grass fires.
||Devil Fire Shelter Deployments:
The Devil Fire is one of several that make up the Santa Clara Complex.
Blowup occurred in the bottom of a drainage as inmate crews were conducting
operations off of dozer lines. All 55 deployments were in a safety zone and
two minor injuries resulted. Investigation swung into full gear today.
Press hasn't picked up on this story at all. One local paper referred to
firefighters using "emergency tarps" to avoid the fire. If someone
can remember a
larger shelter deployment in California, especially the Bay Area, let us
involved crews were apparently ordered back on the line to resume operations
just after the incident but saner heads prevailed and they were stood down.
Reports are that the deployment was carried out calmly in rapidly
conditions which became extreme.
||0345, thunder, NE breeze, followed by a light show in the lower regions of
Placer, ElDorado, Sacto & Yolo counties... weird for Sept 1 in flatland
country. HEADS UP ALL!
||Ab, any info on two CDF deaths in a vehicle accident?
Maybe 8-29 at the Santa Clara Complex.
Two forestry techs who died were mentioned in the post from County FF,
the 5th post below. Click on the "somemore local info from CDF"
link in County's post and you'll have all the info we have. Condolences for
all lost this season. We must be vigilant that the number of deaths climbs
I hope all are being safe in vehicles and on the fireline. Ab.
||I was fascinated yesterday by the extent of wildfire smoke and haze I saw
when flying from Chicago to Seattle. It started half way across Montana and
continued all the way to the Olympic Mountains. It blanketed as far north
and south as I could see from 30,000 ft. A rare E/SE wind blew the smoke
across Washington from Montana/Idaho. In the Cascades, the Square Lake Fire,
Glacier Peak Complex and another fire just north of Mt. Rainer added
significantly to the amount pushed into western WA. The smoke columns from
the Cascade fires would reach about 12,000 ft., hit the ceiling (inversion),
and then gracefully fan out and drift to the west. If you fly over fire
areas, get a window seat!
Nerd- there are standard herbicide sprayer tanks with a 12 volt pump for use
on ATV's that shoot a pretty good stream- check with your local Ag equipment
dealer- might be less than customized FF versions.
To all in the fire community, please, Be Safe,
FF's Dad and daily lurker
||Nerd on the Fireline
Contact Cascade Fire, in Medford Oregon. They make a slip on unit for ATV's,
and are usually helpful with information.
||The Jobs Page and
Wildland Firefighter Series
0462 & 0455
have been updated.
For any experienced and red carded firefighters, there's a company
seeking firefighters and ENGB.
Be Safe, especially over the next days when so many in our country are
traveling on holiday.
||From Firescribe, a link with more info on yesterday's van rollover and the
Another vehicle carrying firefighters crashes, mostly minor injuries
The firefighters are employed by Strike Back, a contractor in Dayville.
Strike Back's owner was headed to Wallowa County today to meet with the
Best wishes for their swift recovery.
Lightning fires drain fire-fighting resources with info on the Santa Clara
Complex and a few pictures
The incident occurred at about 3 AM on the Devil's Fire, Santa Clara
Complex. Apparently Mountain Home Strike Teams 9473G and 9472G were
conducting a firing operation off a dozer line. A flair up occurred during
the firing operation and brush on both sides of the dozer line began to
burn. People deployed their fire shelters. There were two injuries: a CDF
Captain got burned on his arm and an inmate bumped his head during shelter
deployment. Both were treated on site and continued to work.
Thanks for the forum. I'm sending in somemore
local info from CDF about the fires and some information on forestry
aids that have died in a car crash. We ALL need to be more careful in our
Hazardous duty? Technology, experience dampen firefighting risks
||Just read on CDF web site for current incidents. Apparently they had 50
shelter deployments when the incident blew up, minor injuries reported.
I keep reading about the lack of resources and I wonder what is going on? My
equipment has not turned a wheel all summer, no orders? Does anyone have a
web site that reflects the shortages? I am wondering if there are truly
for info on the entrapment. Ab.
||hearing rumors of an entrapment in NoCal.. any info?
Ab asked for information and this is the reply from SoCal CDF who has 209
The Santa Clara Complex reported this morning
"Approximately 50 fire shelters were deployed on the Devil
Fire when the fire made a significant run. Crews entered a safety zone
where the deployment of the shelters took place. There were two very minor
burns to elbows."
Also "The Devil, Hamilton, Kinkaid, and Annie fires have the
potential for significant growth. Most of this growth has been expected to
be on the Annie fire, which grew over 4000 acres in the last burning
As of 0700, the SC Complex is 18,457 acres large. The
lightning-caused fires are located in the Mt Diablo Range between Gilroy
& Brentwood and are burning in Santa Clara, Alameda, and Stanislaus
They have 2,307 personnel working on them: 2,104 are State of CA,
including 40 STs of type 1 crews (inmates), engines (15 SR and 29 ST), 21
FS and BLM personnel, and resources from Marin Fire, Napa Fire, State
Parks, DOD, Alameda Co Fire, Contra Costa Fire, Alameda Co SO. Lots of
dozers, both CDF (10 SR and 10 ST) and private (14 SR).
The Devil's Fire may be one near Livermore. Does anyone know for sure?
BE SAFE, people.
I found what I was looking for (91 pages worth in the end!)…I’m still
having no luck with ATV based fire fighting…two of our local departments
have them (one puts a person with a bladder bag on an unmodified ATV, the
other has an actual tank w/ mini pump modified rig), they work very well for
us in some of our more remote areas where an engine can’t go and any water
at all is wonderful, but I haven’t seen anything resembling ‘official’
specs, or heard of anybody else using the things. Any (safe) alternative to
dry mopping, right?
Nerd on the Fireline
||I was just at the memorial in Emmittsburg and for your info, the flags are
at half staff and the names of the 8 are on the board.
Regarding your post of 8/27, stating "History in the making." I
necessarily agree, I think it might be that some area managers have
realized we never have enough resources to fight each fire or all the
fires. We catch a bunch at the IA stage but it is because we had the time
and people and conditions were right. I don't think I have ever responded
to an incident that I wished I had more stuff as it goes though every size
class. I been on little fires and wished I had another firefighter or two
as well as being on bigger fires and needed 10 hotshot crews and only get
one. We adapt and make due. We all ask ourselves, "What needs our
immediate action to put this puppy out and protect ourselves all this other
stuff." Start on the heal and flank and if some more comes along to
great but if they don't we keep our heads down and make due one chain at a
time stressing safety. Prioritizing and reasoning at all levels is nothing
new, firefighters have been making due with what we have for as long as I
can recall. Additionally, we have walked away from fires we just could not
do anything else with other than keep a distant eye on it after we have
neutralized values at risk.
||Nerd on the Fireline,
I used the Yahoo search engine, and used type 6 fire engines as key words
and it sent me to the FS site. I tried to access thru the link in They Said
today to double check and I got the same response as you. I then went back
to Yahoo and used the same key words, I got to the Forest Service site again
via Yahoo. Maybe the Forest Service doesn't like quires from They Said. (
don't know?, go figure!)
The article also mentioned another document related to engine requirements,
NWGC 410-1 Fireline Handbook.
Nerd, do as he says with those keywords (don't put quotes around them)
and go down to the 4th entry. You can link to it in html or as a word doc.
It is archived by google (or some archiving group). It is no longer
available on the new FS web. You will find that many documents that were
once on the internet can be found this way. Some are out of date, that is,
the specs have since been revised. Don't know about this case. Usually we
check all links before posting on theysaid, but yesterday was a hectic day
and I didn't check that one.
LAVE, dont'cha know, the FS loves us. They wouldn't ban us from
information that helps us all to function better. Lurkers and posters, many
of us are from that agency. Haw Haw. We were perceived as the "bad boy
and girls" just a few years ago weren't we? The good old days. Haw Haw.
But still, if something hard needs saying, we will say it here. They/We
would expect no less... Ab.
The lessons learned center has 'reprinted' their Scratchline Newsletter
on safe driving practices called "Our Driving Responsibility". It
"reprinted collection of articles on driving and some very useful tools
everyone related to driving safety". With all of the vehicle accidents
already this year this is a good resource for people to have a look at. The
newsletter can be found at: www.wildfirelessons.net/Scratchline.php.
Thanks for that link. Readers, scroll down to the stop sign with the skid
marks and click. It's a pdf file, but not too large. Ab.
One way you can send letters are to First Strike.
We received many letters that just said to the family of ------------. Some
were sent to the forest service and blm that just said fallen firefighters
on Storm King or Prineville Hotshot families.
We sent letters to Greyback families through Greyback and for 30 mile I
think we might have had the address. But for families we don't know we just
usually send it to the forest service and they pass it on to the families.
The families of Storm King 14 usually are able to get addresses or a message
to the families.
I don't know if you are aware of this but the Wildland Firefighter
Foundation is trying to get a support group together to help other families
whose loved one is killed fighting fire. It is in the beginning stages and I
know that most of the families want to help out.
So glad that all the firefighters will be ok in the wreck by Joseph.
KB, to clarify, we don't know the condition of the 2 serious cases. We do
know from the online news that the 5 are alive.
For those who do not know, there is a chain of command in accidents
involving vehicles and roads; AND the Feds are not calling the shots on what
info is released and when. In fact, the Incident Management Team's
PIO cannot release any more information than the Sheriff's Department or
Highway Patrol (whoever is in charge) allows them to release. I believe
those entities wait until they've done their initial fact-finding,
verification of death or injury, talked with the company CEO and the company
has contacted family members. Given that each person in the process may be
numb and in shock to varying degrees, that may take some time. Often the
Public view the delay as Agency ass-covering because they don't know the
chain-of-command issues. And the situation becomes even more complicated and
sad when the media somehow learns information and releases it on CNN before
families are alerted, as happened on the Engine 11 rollover last summer.
KB, I just realized I laid all this stuff on you and I'm sorry for that. I
say to you and to other family members who have experienced loss, please do
get involved in the Wildland Firefighter Foundation Support Group. It would
be a most meaningful contribution. Ab.
Sorry if this is the second time you receive this, my computer burped the
first time I tried to send it. I just saw this article. It describes the
incident on Wednesday at the Blackfoot Complex that I heard about.
Okay, now I know all of the official reports are downplaying the seriousness
of the situation...and I know that news reports might not be the most
accurate source of information... (even when the latest IR Imagery maps back
up the news report, which they do)
But a squad of hotshots being 'briefly trapped' and the fire overruning the
west side road...which I believe was part of the escape route...does not
sound like a walk in the park to me. Yeah, I know, working the fireline is
never exactly a walk in the park, but you know what I mean. Oh, and the
brief mention of a 'collapsing column of smoke' caught my eye.
Be safe out there!
PS Firegirl, thank you for the info
Good followup and clarification. Ab.
||This was a contract crew out of Oregon. 2 firefighters were taken to
Spokane in critical condition while the others were treated for less serious
injuries at a local hospital. The crew was coming off the fire for the night
and headed back to fire camp when the accident happened. Information can be
confirmed through the Public Information Officer on the Wallowa Whitman
||More complete story from Firescribe:
Van crashes, injuring six firefighters
||Have you heard of 6 injured firefighters in a roll over in Or. very vague
||Another van rollover on the news tonight: <last night>
Be Safe Out There!
Here is a story from Northwest Cable News
Rollover in NE Oregon
"Officials say at least six firefighters were injured in the
"all the injured were talking with emergency crews."
Reading the story online requires a non-invasive registration.
Almost funny that in the heat of recent posts you caught my ooops. not best
grammar or punctuation when I posted "...we will all be better off; all
but the freeloaders and druggies contribute to this country. same goes for
the contract, vollies, local or state govt, or a Federal WFF...".
my only "issue" is when anyone does exactly what I did, doesn't
think before hitting the send button. read out of context, it was easily
misinterpreted, and not my intent.
I do have "issues" with media BS, and when people harp on/blame
others following an accident, or a glitch that causes some unsuspecting
delay for IA, etc. I'd like to sit on a jury if a DA indicts any intentional
fire starter or drunk driver, the defender doesn't want me!
maybe after the snow flies we can again joke about foibles; comic relief,
once everyone is home safely.
to all out there: KEEP SAFE!
Were you accessing that site from a FS networked computer? I got booted when
I tried to follow that link “You are not authorized to view this page.”
Does anyone have any experience working with ATV-based “enginelets”?
Nerd on the Fireline
Without an address, the best most can do is mail letters or cards to general
delivery in care of the town's Postmaster. that's what we did with the
Prineville Hotshots' families and friends several years ago.
Although the letters may not come to parents who have lost children, all
mourn your loss.
Undoubtedly, many readers silently echo "Sincere Condolences".
(Sad to say, words in type cannot not express nor covey the fact that we
mourn with you.)
The IAFF is not professing to be interested in firefighters' health and
welfare per say. Fair coverage for occupation-related disease is a different
issue than the goal of "keeping firefighters alive".
Do you think that firefighters who contract cancer, lung disease or heart
disease deserve it because they smoke? What about hepatitis C or B, AIDS,
etc? Did they smoke that too?
OK, lets take this apart. You don't think people should smoke. You think
people should stay fit.
If firefighters all did those two things would you then be in support of
the firefighter Presumptive Law? or would you object to any union doing
collective bargaining? or is it specifically the IAFF? or are you against
government (and our taxpayer money) being responsible for unsafe
environments that we work in? or is it something else? or all of the above?
You could clarify, please. I'd be curious to see what your real issues are.
I don't smoke and I stay in shape. I am for the Firefighters Presumptive
Law. If I get heart or lung disease or cancer, I feel that it will likely be
due to the hazardous environment I work in every summer. If other
firefighters get those benefits why shouldn't I. Am I a second class
firefighter because I'm a Series 462 forestry tech with a BA and (almost a
401 biologist for gods sake whatever that means) and not called firefighter?
One fire in the Blackfoot Lake Complex jumped a 1/2 mile lake, and it also
jumped the line. I am aware of some extreme weather that caused a major
pullout on Tuesday I think. And Beta and Doris were about to join into one,
last I heard. More when I hear it.
||Interesting to read some of the specifics on the firefighter Presumptive
Law, and to see IAFF's support. Based on their concern for firefighter's
health and welfare, I'm anxiously awaiting IAFF to take the lead in
supporting a total ban on all tobacco use (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on
duty and off) by all firefighters (wildland and structural) to help reduce
the health problems it causes. Support of mandatory fitness testing every
year for all firefighters could also help establish IAFF as the leaders in
keeping firefighters alive.
||I just plugged in Type 6 fire engine into the Yahoo search engine and came
up with http://www.fs.usda.gov/directives/field/r4/fsm/5100/160.doc.
It gives several parameters for type 4 & type 6 engines. I hope this
helps. Keep Safe.
The individual injured by the falling snag was from the SRV 14 crew. That
person was released today (the understanding of the B&B fire
communications) and appears to be recovering. The B&B Complex was
formerly the Booth Fire and the Bear Butte Fire. They have been combined to
form the B&B Complex. More information on that complex can be attained
I just heard on our local news that a ff was hit with a tree (snag)
and received a skull fracture but is thought to make a full recovery.
This happened on the B&B fire in Ore. Have you any information
He got a concussion and went to the hospital overnight for observation.
Looks to be doing fine. Ab.
||For those who don't know about it, here's the scoop on the Federal
Firefighters Presumptive Law from RR.
FEDERAL FIRE FIGHTERS PRESUMPTIVE LAW
Fire fighters are exposed on a daily basis to stress, smoke, heat, and
various toxic substances. As a result, firefighters are far more likely to
contract heart disease, lung disease and cancer than other workers. And as
firefighters 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. Under the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA),
federal fire fighters must be able to pinpoint the precise incident or
exposure that caused a disease in order for it to be considered job-related.
This burden of proof is extraordinarily difficult for fire fighters to meet
because they respond to a wide variety of emergency calls, constantly
working in different environments under different conditions. As a result,
very few cases of occupational disease contracted by fire fighters have been
deemed to be service-connected.
The Federal Fire Fighters Fairness Act, H.R. 2163, was introduced by Reps.
Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), Connie Morella (R-MD), Lois Capps (D-CA), Jo Ann
Davis (R-VA), and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI).
The Senate version of the legislation, S. 1845 was introduced by Senator
John Kerry (D-MA). This legislation would amend the FECA so that
cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and infectious diseases are presumed
to be job related for purposes of workers compensation and disability
retirement, and places the burden on the employer to prove otherwise.
The IAFF supports legislation to provide a disability presumption for
federal fire fighters.
• Many States have presumptive heart/lung, cancer and infectious disease
laws on the books. It is only fair that the federal government also
acknowledge the occupational hazards attributed to fire fighting.
• Current law requires a federal employee to specify the exact employment
incident which causes a disease in order to qualify for disability benefits.
Under this law, it is nearly impossible for federal fire fighters, suffering
from occupational diseases, to receive fair and just compensation and or
• It is only fair that the federal government should provide parity for
federal fire fighters who are exposed to the same occupational hazards as
other professional fire fighters.
On June 13, 2001, H.R. 2163 was introduced and referred to the Committee on
Education and the Workforce.
On December, 18, 2001, S. 1845 was introduced and referred to the Committee
on Government Reform.
IAFF LEGISLATIVE FACT SHEET
Department of Governmental Affairs
International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO, CLC
1750 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20006
202-737-8484 202-783-4570 (F) www.iaff.org
||I’m looking for specs on TypeSix engines (required tank capacity/pump
specs/other equipment etc.) and anything on ATV-based ‘engines’.
Nerd on the Fireline
||Ab, thought this might be of some interest to the board... It was sent out
to the NFA Alumni Association, but if anyone has suggestions they want to
send in to theysaid, you could send them to me and I could pass them on.
Alternatively, you could send them to Ron Kanterman.
NFA Alumni, I have a challenge for you.
Chief Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director of the National Fallen FF Foundation
has convened a task force to take the bull by the horns and look at a nation
wide prevention program for Line Of Duty Deaths (LODD). This is extremely
admirable, being that Ron and the staff would be out of a job, if he was to
be successful in this endeavor. The first meeting was this past weekend at
the IAFC-FRI Conference in Dallas, Texas. Ironically, as everyone headed for
home, the news hit of the 8 firefighters who were killed on the way home
from a wild-land fire in Oregon.
Send in your one line (maybe two lines) ideas and suggestions for programs,
campaigns, training etc. towards preventing LODD's. I will compile your
ideas and submit them on behalf of the Association. If any group can come up
with a solution, it's us. We attend the NFA to improve our operations at
home. This could be the ultimate improvement. Let's go Alumni, start
thinking how we can put the Fallen FF Foundation out of business and how to
keep our brothers and sisters coming home after each and every call.
Ron Kanterman, Administrator
NFA Alumni Association
We'd be happy to forward any suggestions. And congrats on your promotion
CHIEF Hickman. Ab.
Good to have some e-mail back-and-forth last night. I hope we were
able to allay yours and family members' fears. Thank you for seeking info
for them. I can only imagine what it's like to have an anxious cell phone
conversation with a family member on a crew far away that gets cut off
mid-conversation and leaves you thinking the worst.
Hopefully firefighters reading this will work at having a clear cell phone
connection before calling in their "high adrenalin" state.
Everyone reading here should know that firefighters are getting very tired
and worn down. Their phone calls will probably reflect that.
LadyFF13, if you haven't had a chance to check in with the Blackfoot Lake
Complex team this morning for a more official take on yesterday, here's what
I found out. There was no incident like the one you were fearful of. Fire
activity yesterday did pick up when compared to the prior day's fire
activity. Overall acreage for the complex went from 1409 to 3997 acres
yesterday. The Beta Fire is 518 acres. Fire spotted over Hungry Horse
Reservoir. Reservoir Rd is closed. All of Martin City is under precautionary
evacuation, but zones 5 and 6 (25 homes) are under mandatory evacuation.
Abbott and Emery Bay Campgrounds are closed.
You probably know about these useful sites. Here are the links anyway:
Information for the Western Montana Area
The Live Cams at Glacier National Park
NIFC Large Fire Map (look at all those fires, no wonder policy is
Be Safe All, they're predicting very active fire behavior in MT and ID
PS. I have put up many new photos on Fire
7 and AirTankers
9 and Helicopters
11 photo pages. There are some nice ones from British Columbia, Canada
and many from current fires in the US. Thanks to all contributors. Oh, take
a look at the new photo on our main
page as well. It came in last night from the Wilcox Fire in the Okanogan
Highlands of Washington. Thanks to J Foster. More coming from that set of
For those of you who don't usually check Familysaid,
you might want to. There's quite lively discussion and a terrific fire
painting that Artista created. If anyone knows of other painters who
create or have created wildland fire art besides Monte Dolack, please let us
||My FF is on Mineral Primm, Lolo Nat For,,,,,18 miles north east of
Missoula...... and when he called tonight he said there were several problem
areas they are struggling to get a handle on. They have established 4 new
spike camps..... Sammi
||Our Senators return to work next week, and among their unfinished business
is voting on the Interior Appropriations Bill that says,
“None of the funds made available in this or any other Act may be
used by the Forest Service to initiate or continue competitive sourcing
studies until such time as the House and Senate Committees on
Appropriations have been given a detailed competitive sourcing proposal
(including the number of positions to be studied, the amount of funding
needed, and the accounts and activities from which the funding will be
reprogrammed), and have approved in writing such proposal.”
Big businesses stand to make a lot of money on the outsourcing these A-76
studies would force, and you can bet they will be working hard to defeat
this provision. Smart money is they will, unless Congress hears from us. To
find out more, including how you can help, check out http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain/
-- Union guy
I was hoping someone had some info about an incident at the Beta Lake/Doris
Ridge fire this afternoon. I received a very cryptic message about the fire
blowing up and the crews literally having to run their escape route. The
little I heard makes it sound like entrapment was a very near thing, but I
don't have any solid info. Don't know if anyone was injured, if the fire
I haven't seen anything posted about it yet on any of the sites I've been
frantically searching. Hoping the old saying 'no news is good news' is true.
Any info would be greatly appreciated. Sounds like things are heating up and
the winds are starting to rip again in parts of Montana. You all watch your
backs out there!
Can you provide any more info on location and if these fires are part of
a complex of fires? If so, which one? CBS reported tonight that fires blew
up west of Missoula and at Glacier National Park. We've heard nothing about
a close call or entrapment. Ab.
||Ab Please post this:
The 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology & Fire Management Congress
In Orlando Florida November 11-16, 2003.
You're welcome. No I was not the original sender of the article. That was
I just happen to be a fire news sponge lately.
||The article -
To my knowledge these kinds of things have not been said except by fire
managers among themselves looking at a Biscuit Fire, a Rodeo-Chedeski, a
Hayman, a Kirk, or a Big Bar Complex. To me they signal a change in Forest
Service, BLM and NPS firefighting policy. Here are the key things Greg
Greenhoe (Area Command) said in a public forum; the link to the article is
"There is simply too much fire and too few resources to expect
that every wildfire will be contained or controlled by anything other than
"Some smaller fires we will go ahead and contain..."
"But right now, for many of our incidents, we are working to control
the sides of fires that threaten communities. Some of these fires are just
too big and too remote to be able to have 100 percent containment by
"Ten fires are beyond any one person's - or one command team's -
ability to supervise to the best of their ability. Once you get to six or
seven or more, you are really not able to pay attention to all the details
of an incident."
"All the large fires will be managed first to contain those parts of
the fires that can threaten human life and property. If an incident
commander does not have the resources to completely contain an incident,
they'll secure the fire where it is closest to communities and steer the
rest of it away from the community into a more remote area. That may be
where it stays until we have a season-ending weather event."
Read the whole article; follow the link given by Heli Groupie. www.headwatersnews.org/miss.firelines.phpl
Heli Groupie - Thanks for digging that up. Double thanks if you sent it in
the first time. Interesting discussions resulted from it in firecamp.
Is the article NorCal Tom is referring to this one?
The article is just plain html text. The article from the Missoulian
Newspaper in Missoula, MT.
Yes it is, I'm pretty sure. Thanks much. Ab.
What you posted is more or less what I was trying to get across. I would
also like info on any organization that has to do with reserve crews. I
would like to see legislation similar to the Vol. F.D. or National Guard
language to protect the people who do the volunteering.
Thanks for the information.
Because you care, and expressed your empathy...that act alone brings you
"in" from the "outside." My particular post was not
intended as an attack on your comments. And I hope it didn't come across
I don't understand what you were saying when you were at your pulpit.
Want to restate your issues? You could list them. (Ab and all, If I don't
reply it's because I'm gone again.)
Someone posted a link to an article laying out the way fires are being
fought in MT this season. I found this article profound in that it seems to
be a major change in policy - like the changes that occurred following
the 1910 fire season. Ab I couldn't find that article link quickly but it's
worth taking a look at for those who missed it. History in the making?
I haven't been able to find it either. It was like a not-online
publication since it didn't have a bunch of ads on the page around it.
Readers, did anyone bookmark that article? I remember finding it interesting
as well. Ab.
||Thanks to Fire Momma and Ab for your feedback to my post
regarding Sunday's accident. I'm on the outside looking in, but
hurting like everyone after tragedies such as this.
||finally had opportunity & time to read recent posts...
not surprised that the folk at Wildland Firefighter Foundation quickly sent
those checks to the grieving families in need. surprised there were
sufficient dollars in their bank account this year. hope all the readers
here now realize donating a couple of bucks in support of the organization
makes an unparalleled difference to survivors in a time of dire need.
Again, my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones and friends.
I pray the others on that crew take advantage of debriefing counseling, and
then additional training to better their careers.
dunno if my old law pal now in the Burns district of OR was involved with
that debrief - compassionate man; bet he was (if you know "MB"
tell him CA says hello).
AB I won't be insulted if you snip the rest of my post:
not too sure I want to address the post about "Spanish" speaking
crews; remembers at a grade school picnic (many, many years ago) trading my
white bread & hot dog for a good homemade bean burrito - they weren't
from Spain! and their parents did stoop labor when few else would...
when everyone stops the "I'm better that you" games and takes
pride in their heritage without some foolish vendetta, we will all be better
off; all but the freeloaders and druggies contribute to this country. same
goes for the contract, vollies, local or state govt, or a Federal WFF - be
they a ground pounder or a rotor head or jumper (FS or BLM). it is good to
take pride in your team and your work ethic; never forget where YOU started
in the fire scene. make sure what you post is understood as joking (for sure
it is needed).
< never insults the JANITOR - he keeps my work area clean! the secretary
is not expected to bring me coffee!! (I bring coffee to the dispatchers!)
NZ (stepping away from pulpit)
For those of you wondering what you can do for the families of the eight
firefighters on a personal level. One of the best things for us were letters
from fellow firefighters and friends who knew our son. We received some of
the best letters, one told us how our son had taught him to spit right.
Others told us how he had helped them with something. It really doesn't
matter what you write, just as long as the families know he was loved and
how many friends he had. We will be going to Idaho this weekend and will
pass the accident spot we plan on putting some ribbons on the flags.
Thanks KB. This is also what the dad of Heather Paolo said was very
important to him and his wife last year when he addressed the Division
Chiefs in R5. Ab.
||Reserve wildland fire fighters already are in place. both career and
volunteer firefighters who are red-carded are many. a lot of experience just
sits idle. Most states list them as active through their dispatch systems.
the problem is, most can not just leave their jobs with out a lot of hassle.
I am A Volunteer fire fighter with extensive wild land experience. Last
Friday I was asked to go to Montana. As part of a twenty person type two
crew. I had to pass. what's really needed is for state governments to enact
laws protecting Volleys and career fire fighter who are needed at these
time. the same protection that they already afford Natl. guard and reserve
forces. They keep saying we are vital to frontline assets, we just cant
leave when were needed. I think the company I work for would support me if
such a law were on the books if this were done, the need would dwindle. just
some thoughts Firerev
||Re: I thought that Christmas was the time for giving ! ?
I too know how awesome the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is.
They do things that make a very big (life long) difference to those
they help. I know this first hand and personal.
Now is a good time for giving..... It takes money to do these kind
of things, And for most of us here this is the time we make a Lyon's
share of it. There are plenty of links to their site on this page . The
difference that is made lasts forever to those of us still here.
||The Jobs Page and
Wildland Firefighter Series
0462 & 0455
have been updated. Ab.
||Oregon FF deaths
I want to say thanks too, like OR Coyote. This community is not rich in $$.
No one has $$ set aside for something like this. The wildland firefighters
foundation , well, we can't thank them enough for the $$ and for the other
Thanks for the prayers too.
||I want to say THANKS for the work done by the Wildland Firefighter
foundation to help the families of our fallen firefighters. They're cutting
first checks of $1000 apiece for the families to keep them afloat. The
WFF board members are helping immensely to keep communication
going in the middle of chaos. I also heard that the foundation is even
airline tickets to fly parents from Louisiana and arranging housing and
I know they've been helping for many years, but I never knew they
did all this.
Most of our families and friends are in a state of shock. Having solid
help is a such a BLESSING.
THANK you WFF Foundation!!!!
||I am truly touched that both agency and private sector are showing such
compassion and respect for the deaths of those firefighters from First
Strike Environmental. You give hope to those employed in the private sector
that all is not lost, that we are truly somehow all a part of a large fire
family who truly love our jobs. On behalf of the National Wildfire
Suppression Association, Oregon Firefighting Contractors Association and its
members (including First Strike Environmental) we thank you!
I've been trying to think of what to say about the tragedy that happened.
This is what came out:
Tomorrows become our Yesterdays.
It's in the "Nows" that we build the foundations of our past
And the stepping stones of our Future.
At least to me, Firefighters appear to live in the "now". They
live life to the fullest, pushing themselves and their environment to the
limit. I take comfort in knowing that those who lost their lives at least
lived them the way they wanted to. So many people out there live their lives
in the "I wish I had" or the "what if's." I know that
for me, I feel twice blessed for knowing my HS FF. One, for the love that we
share, and two for the privilege of seeing the passion and fire for life in
My heart goes out to those families who had their loves ones taken from
them, and that wonderful spark put out.
||Hello to all of you, Just Wondering, here... You can read the stories of
the firefighters that died in the crash a couple of days ago, from our local
newspaper here... the fella's were almost all locals here... www.newsreview.info...
if this doesn't work, our local paper is called... The News Review... of
Douglas County, Oregon. Take care all...
||I talked to one of the crew members on Sunday, they were here in Burns
after the accident. I believe along with the Malheur Co Sheriff's
office the State Police were involved in setting up a debriefing when
they arrived in Burns. At least by coming to Burns they were away from
the Media, and were able to at least be a bit closer to home. The
company sent drivers over to take them home monday morning.
Our heart goes out to the Families and the Survivors of this incident.
Burns Interagency Fire Zone
Looking for answers is natural. But, I'll caution...looking solely to the
news media for those answers provides a filtered view at best. Your
observation that the news clips you refer to provide a limited view of an
"unrelated situation," in my view, is only partly right. I do
appreciate your offering them up for conversation.
The wildland fires erupting on our forests are increasing in frequency,
numbers and intensity. Private contractors, in all shapes and sizes have
stepped to the plate in this "new" fire economy because there is
economic opportunity. As cold as this may sound, this is a business. As in
any industry, the level of quality of business men and women will vary
widely. Their ethics, tactics, profit and loss thresholds, ingenuity, and
cooperative spirits will scatter across the board. This is on an
administrative level. If you look out across the fire contracting
"landscape" you will see contractors committed to setting a high
standard for quality and safety. And, then, well you'll also see those
willing to cut corners. You'll see trainers so committed to making sure the
folks in their classes "get it" they drive a point home
repeatedly. And, well, then you'll find trainers who'll sign a certificate
in exchange for a check. Self policing is imperative in the fire contracting
industry, just as it is in any other. That's what industry associations like
the NWSA do. In my view, that is the prime value of such organizations.
In terms of fire contract employees - attracting quality personnel, and
training those folks to use common sense, to consider the effects their
actions have on those around them (never more important than in the fire
realm), and encouraging them to act accordingly is, by far, easier said than
done. If anyone has the magic answers to this, please enlighten me.
Friday, I drove over the same piece of pavement outside of Vale, OR where
Sunday's accident occurred. Laying in bed this morning, I went through in my
mind what I was thinking at that point. It went something like this....
"Damn, I hate this drive through this part of the state. It's soooo
long and dull. ...Come on buddy, at least go the speed limit. (Starring at
the back of a motor home going 5 miles below the speed limit.) I need more
coffee. I wonder if that's an antelope out there. (To my
daughter)...Pleeeease don't make that whistling sound with your Bionicle.
Geesh, jerk, let's goooooooo!" (Again, to the motor home, this time
through gritted teeth.)
I was tired...but not really that tired. I was more weary of driving. I was
agitated and wanted to get home. I wanted to take a shower in my own shower,
sleep in my own bed. The van driver made a mistake. But he was human. He
likely was experiencing many of the same agitations I was. I just didn't try
to pass the motor home. But, I sure felt like it. I sure wanted to. And, if
you've ever been out on that highway, maybe you'll notice next time how very
few slow vehicle turnouts there are and how many, many miles of double
yellow there is. This is a minor factor really, and not even my point. I was
just paying attention to it. Obsessed with it. Fixated on it. These guys
must have just wanted to be home just like me.
The loss of these young men, and the grief their families, their
communities...and their employer are going through right now is
overwhelming. The media has repeatedly mentioned the van was "illegally
passing on a double yellow" Yea. Okay, Alright. But right here, right
now, these living people need to be taken care of.
27 deaths in one fire season. All for different reasons. There is only one
profound connecting factor. These individuals died because they were
employed fighting wildland fires. Agency and private sector, alike. Finding
"blame" gets us nowhere. Finding the cause, reasons, and exploring
solutions are steps in the right direction.
It's time to manage our forests for both a healthy economy AND a healthy
environment. At the same time we need to recognize the value of our
communities. "Community" to me means people taking care of one
Reading the safety memo from Ed Hollenshead, I was reminded of a theory
about people having and wanting a comfortable level of risk. As the theory
goes, people will naturally compensate for safety improvements in a given
activity by taking greater chances - for example, driving faster because
they're wearing a seatbelt or have an airbag. Likewise, people are more
cautious when exposed to new hazards - like in the 1970's when Sweden
changed over to driving on the right side of the road, accident rates
actually decreased immediately after the transition.
Whether or not the theory is true, it creates a defeatist attitude. Applied
to wildland fire, the theory would predict that firefighter fatalities will
remain the same despite safety improvements. As better PPE and fire shelters
are developed, as communication improves with higher quality radios and use
of common terminology, as the 10 & 18 are distilled to a more easily
applicable LCES - firefighters on the line will negate these improvements by
being more aggressive, taking additional chances, and generally doing their
part to insure that firefighting remains a dangerous occupation. That's just
I found a more hopeful approach in an article about highway safety efforts
in Sweden to change "from a tacit acceptance of casualties to a goal of
zero fatalities and disabling injuries." It's called the Zero Vision.
Maybe that's what we need for the fire service - a vision of zero "line
of duty" injuries and deaths.
ps, Leigh Ann, you are so very welcome. I hope your family can attend the
memorial weekend in Emmitsburg with this PSOB struggle finished.
||Here is a link to a story concerning the increasing bilingual
nature of the fireline. Some interesting food for thought.
I though the ADs were our country's equivalent of a "firefighter
You can always get on the availability list of your state fire suppression
agency as an AD.. can't you?
Well.. as long as you have a red card.
Very similar to the National Guard...except in the Guard your job at
home is protected by law...and you get more notice that you are "being
called up" to serve.
||The Faces of a Tragedy:
This accident of contract firefighters sparked my interest in that system.
Just like in June 2002 I wanted to find someone to blame for the tragic
accident I read about. I did some internet research and found some
frightening articles about contract firefighter companies' desire to make
the almighty buck and knew I was on the track to discovering something:
Sunday, March 23, 2003
Sunday, July 30, 2003
Monday, August 25, 2003
What I discovered instead was that the articles are only one viewpoint of an
unrelated situation. There is no target for blame for accidents such as on
Sunday. The employees are consistently on unfamiliar roadways with heavy
summer traffic. The reality is that the more time they spend on the road,
the higher their risk of being involved in an accident. Their loss of life
is mourned terribly by all. Thanks for providing a forum where I can read
others' opinions and learn to see more than one viewpoint and lose my
eagerness to point fingers.
It seems that the Oregon Dept. of Forestry and other groups are aware of the
safety problems addressed in the articles and are attempting to tackle them.
As for the eight men, may they rest in peace...
Thanks Elaine, for the collection of links and your thoughts. I woke up
this morning thinking those "wonder what happened" and "what
if" thoughts that invariably follow tragedy. These articles are good
for refocusing and perspective. Our thoughts and prayers are with the
families and friends. Ab.
||With regard to Firegirl's post:
If what she says is true then how come the Army and Marines get called up
and can work on USDA fires? Yea, I know it's not the same thing, but the
Speaking of the military, I saw where they are training an artillery
battalion to fight fire. This is just a simple minded question, I think I
have asked in some fashion in the past, why can't someone establish a
firefighter reserve just like the national guard or the Air Force/ Army/
Navy reserve units. I know it's another layer of bureaucracy and quit
possibly take money from other worth while causes. I know if there was some
such outfit I would try and join up. I'm still young enough and could do
type 2 hand crew stuff to free up type I crews to do the heavy lifting. Just
a passing thought, sometimes dumb ideas work and sometimes really smart
ideas are not so smart.
With respect and sorry for the fallen eight firefighters in Oregon. Watch
out for the dragon, he comes in many forms, keep safe and make it home to
My name is TW and I am an experienced wildland fire fighter (9 seasons
with CDF). Due to trying to relocate to El Dorado County Calif, over 300
applicants for 10 jobs and all returnees returning, I have not been on a
all summer. If there are any positions available anywhere (early return to
school, injuries etc..) please let me know . I currently have an application
/resume on file in the AVUE sytem.
||Does anyone know if contract crews get critical incident stress
debriefing to handle a loss like the most recent one?
Robbie, I know a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team is available to
the crew who were on their way home today. Ab.
||This email came today from Ed Hollenshead, National Fire Operations Safety
Officer - NIFC.
We all need to think about it and talk among ourselves and with those we
supervise. NorCal Tom
Attached is a Memo that I pray will add value to our discussions and our
consideration of yesterday's horrific tragedy. Please forward in order
that all firefighters might take a moment to think about the consequences
of their every-day actions. Thank you... -ed-
To: Firefighters at Large
From: Ed Hollenshead, National Fire Operations Safety Officer - NIFC
Re: Tragic Loss and Resolve
Never before have we, the wildland firefighting community, placed so much
emphasis on the concepts and tenets of safety. The awareness, oversight, and
attention to the fundamental rules of wildland fire survival have never been
more keen, yet seemingly senseless deaths continue to take members of our
extended family. I believe firefighters are more astute and situationally
aware than the average Joe. I believe firefighters understand, better than
their neighbors, the finite nature of life on this earth. I believe
firefighters are better prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally to
deal with the unknown, to identify and manage risk, and to make decisions
based upon these honed abilities.
I would ask all of us to contemplate our daily actions and decisions in
light of yesterday's tragedy. How many corners do we cut to save time, to
prove a point, or to get on to the next task at hand? How many times do we
do something we know to be risky before we've had the chance or taken the
time to assess the risk? How many times do we knowingly violate a law or
standard simply because it's inconvenient or burdensome? How many times do
we ignore the gnawing in our gut because we don't believe what we're feeling
is true? How many times do we "go with the flow" to avoid conflict
or the appearance of weakness, even when we know what is happening is wrong?
And... how often do we think we can get away with all these things before
the consequences catch up with us?
I have no answers for what happened August 24, 2003 on Oregon State Route
20. None of us, really, does. In the aftermath we cannot not be satisfied
simply to mourn eight young firefighters, offer prayers for their families,
friends, and co-workers, and wonder "Why...?" We have the
responsibility, and should be resolved to apply our training and superior
sense of surrounding to our everyday living. We have the responsibility, and
should be resolved to avoid the pitfalls of haste and reliance on
"luck." We owe it to their memory, to our loved-ones, and to each
Thanks so much.
Someone (Fire Momma) was looking for resources to make sure that
families/survivors receive the maximum benefits when there is a line of duty
death. This is probably useful information for a lot of folks. The National
Fallen Firefighters Foundation offers more information than any other
source, including SOPs, links, and guides to help us through these difficult
times. Details and links at: www.firehero.org/Index1.asp?BD=1510&LN=856
8 more lives lost and another round of grieving. By my count this brings
the number of firefighters lost this year to 27. Everyone should take time
out to sit down and remember our friends who died in the line of duty and
how difficult it is dealing with their loss. Then look at your crewmembers
and imagine telling their loved ones they are gone. Maybe this way
people will take a harder look at the human resource we are charged
with safeguarding. I hope this accident was not preventable, but even if
it was, rather than rushing to judgment about this crew, take a moment and
mourn for them. For, contractors or not, they were our brothers in arms and
we honor them.
Gods speed to the victims and my heart felt prayers for the survivors.
You are anything but a simpleton. You are your father's daughter and we're
all proud of you. Your diligence, intelligence and grit will have a long
term positive effect for firefighting fallers and their families.
I echo Leigh Ann's appreciation to vfd cap'n, as well as Dana, who have both
articulated key points effectively. Thank you.
Thanks also to Old Fire Guy and 6 for both logical questions and
Thank you for your insight and intelligent comments on the PSOB and my
father, Alan Wyatt. This is just what we were looking for when, in a
frustrated effort, we talked to the WFF for advice on how to deal with our
appeal. You are exactly right when you state that I've had to go to the
media and theysaid as a last ditch effort. I didn't go to the media until
the appeal had been filed for 3 months without so much as communication
from the appeals officer. In my mind, I wanted to deal with the DOJ
directly, quietly and not involve others. But when your back is against
You've shed light on several detailed points of the PSOB and I appreciate
that. This isn't about money or settlement, or whatever one wants to call
it. It's about requiring the DOJ/BJA to better define their parameters in
regard to timber fallers as firefighters. Fallers and firefighters are
synonymous when they are hired to perform their skill in a wildland
firefighting scenario. As you said, Missionary Ridge was a Type I fire
and, as I understand it, fallers were in extremely high demand in that
fire's containment. They were a crucial element of the firefighting team
and of fire suppression on that day, on that specific part of the fire
line. It seems crazy to me that here I am almost 14 months after my
father's death still splitting hairs as to the details of his hiring and
his exact location on the fire line in order to prove that he was a
firefighter. Maybe I'm a simpleton, but it seems very obvious to me. His
position, and the other fallers that were with him, was as a first line of
defense on Missionary Ridge that day before line crew or hose could go in.
His duty was to minimize the danger for his fellow firefighters. I invite
anyone to read the Federal Investigation of Alan Wyatt's death and prove
If all that comes out of this is clearly defined parameters and definitions
for timber fallers and wildland firefighters, I will have succeeded. The
last thing I want is for the future widows and their families to not
understand exactly what the process is and be hung out for months or years
on a decision.
Again, thank you for your interest and excellent comments. I hope to
eventually report success for our family and all the future families that
will have to deal with this.
Leigh Ann Evans
As a Federal employee of the Dept of Commerce (not Weather Service), I
was informed today that I am unable to accept assignment as an AD
because I'm a federal worker in a Dept that doesn't have a Cooperation
Agreement with DOI or USDA, regardless of the fact that I've been called
twice in the past 3 days for assignment. I can't even go out west on my
vacation time, because I can't be employed by two different areas of the
Gov't. The people in EACC told me this. Have you ever heard of anyone
in this situation before? I can't be the only one to have ever
experienced this!! Shouldn't somebody mention this before people get
||Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the friends and families of
The assignment, fire, equipment, location, agency, or country doesn't
diminish the heartache from the death of even one firefighter. A tragedy
like this one is overwhelming.
2003 has turned from bad to gruesome.
Check your six, and check your buddy's.
Chico Air Attack Base: Steve, Dan, Rob, Suzanne, Walt, Jimmie, Bill, Parrie,
Heather, Mike, Marlin, Scott, Jay
My comments shouldn't indicate using the legal system to address these
issues means litigation. It doesn't have to, nor is that the intent. And I
agree with you regarding the Wyatt case. The main point here is that
families (survivors) should not have to be fighting this battle on a case by
case basis. The status quo was put in place legislatively and it will be
changed using the legislative process.
In terms of the manual, thank you so much. We will certainly pay for
reproduction and mailing costs.
Our deepest condolences for the 8 firefighters who died in the van accident.
Our hearts and prayers are with them. May they never be forgotten.
It may take me a couple days before I can get a copy made. I'll call NWSA to
get a mailing address.
I think there are still a couple chances for eligibility to be granted to
the Wyatt family without litigation. There is this first administrative
appeal, and then it can go to the director of the Bureau of Justice
The two strongest points I see from the regulation 28CFR32 are:
Sec. 32.4 Reasonable doubt of coverage.
The Bureau shall resolve any reasonable doubt arising from the circumstances
of the officer's death or permanent and total disability in favor of payment
of the death or disability benefit.
Sec. 32.5 Findings of State, local, and Federal agencies.
The Bureau will give substantial weight to the evidence and findings of fact
presented by State, local, and Federal administrative and investigative
So the question has arisen whether a faller is a firefighter or not? There
are general arguments both ways, but given that Missionary Ridge was a type
I wildfire incident at the time, it rises at least to the level of
"reasonable doubt" in this case. If they follow their own rules,
BJA should resolve the doubt in favor of payment.
As others here have noted, the U.S. Fire Administration has listed Alan
Wayne Wyatt as a "career firefighter" in their National Fallen
Firefighters' Memorial database. Clearly, a federal administrative agency
has made a "finding of fact" which has not been given substantial
weight in BJA's initial determination.
The kicker in all of this, is that the family can't just go out and hire an
attorney to make this case for them. The have to get approval from BJA for
any payment to a representative. (This is part of 28CFR32 to prevent shyster
lawyers from taking advantage of widows and orphans, but which also means
nobody specializes in these cases.) Which I guess is why Leigh Ann has had
to take her family's case to the media and post on TheySaid.
I hope this helps.
||This story doesn't require registration: Thoughts and prayers to all.
||Sincere condolences to the loved ones of those 8 who lost their lives
Saturday = words cannot express my sorrow about young lives too soon gone.
Condolences, again, to Pat Cooney's family.
< pray this is the last "passing" this year.
||For those who would like to contribute in a tangible way to members of our
community who are helping families of those wildland firefighters who have
Please go to the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation website and make your donation.
The Foundation is a non-profit organization that steps in early when
firefighters die and their shell-shocked families need help. The sad
accident today is such a case, and the foundation could really use your
donations to support those families.
Take a moment and help out. $10 or $25 from many of us can make a real
Prayers for the firefighters, their families and friends and for the semi
truck occupants as well.
||There are no words for me to say about the deaths of the 8 FF in Oregon. I
am literally sick to my stomach and will make this very short. There is a
full news article on KREM.Com TV out of Spokane.
There are no words that can comfort the families and co-workers of these
wonderful young people. My prayers and thoughts are with them and I hope and
pray these kids did not suffer......
||The firefighters were returning from the South Fork Fire (Boise National
Forest) according to this Idaho article. Thoughts and prayers...
||well today we lost 8 more of us.. we ask why and how..21 years doing this
job i still lose friends every year. you ask yourself why keep doing this..
to me it is the love of the land and the duty to protect others from
harm...i have worked with many folks in the years and i know that alot may
not like me. owell. but you must do your job and do it well and by the book
.. rest in peace you that passed. to all others work hard and stay safe...
||Here is a link to the CSIRO publication entitled
“ Stress, Strain, and Productivity in Men
Suppressing Wildland Fires with Hand Tools ”
that was a result of Project Aquarius.
i have emailed you in the past. i am trying to prepare for next season. i
have a question about shifts. i will hopefully starting next season at the
lowest level wildland firefighter. i want to work for the us forest service.
when i am hired i understand that while there are fires i will be working
long hours but what are the normally scheduled shifts? is it 8 hours 5 days
or do they vary depending on ranger unit? do any of them work 24 hour
shifts? any info would be appreciated.
||Today was the memorial service for Chief Pat Cooney in Los Angeles. It was
a "warrior's funeral", with speaker after speaker sharing their
stories of how Pat contributed towards the betterment of the fire service or
their personal lives. For those of you who were unfortunate to have not met
Pat, he worked for more than 30 years with the U.S. Forest Service, mostly
on the Angeles NF before retiring and entering a second career as Deputy
Chief with the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services Fire and
When I first met him I was on a hot shot crew working a fire on the Angeles.
After a hard days work, Pat's energy and vitality reenergized us all. Years
later, Pat was IC when a near-miss accident occurred during a major fire
from a burning operation that went way wrong. Despite the emotions flying,
disorganization from the entrapment, and severe fire conditions, I watched
Pat calm the masses, focus on what needed to be done, and lead us all back
to the right fight. I always swore that if that ever happened on a fire
under my command I would want to be just like him.
Pat was a gentleman and a fire expert. His professionalism, leadership, and
friendship will be surely missed. Today a crowd of several hundred
celebrated his legacy. The audience included many fire chiefs and Type 1
Incident Commanders. I found inspiration again from Pat, even in his
memorial today. Despite the fact that he will be missed, his legacy has left
an example for us all.
Mike Rohde, ORC
(Contract County Guy)
||It was reported in Boise Channel 7, head on collision semi vs. van, 8
firefighters lost their lives. Returning form the South Fork Fire in Idaho.
West of Vail Oregon. Tried to pass on curve. Returning to Roseburg Oregon.
We pray for their families.
South Central Idaho
||Oregon van crash:
I would very much appreciate a copy of your "2-inch notebook of
procedures for our department, that details every step needed to insure the
families of our firefighters receive every benefit they are due, including
PSOB and education benefit."
We just recently formed the NWSA National Timber Faller Chapter.
"Insuring the families of our firefighter (fallers) receive every
benefit they are due" is high on our priority list. The agencies have
already proven they have no intention to do so. We take exception to that...
and will be dealing with it shortly in the legal system.
In regard to the First Strike accident, we extend our prayers and our
support. I just traveled over that very piece of pavement Friday night. I
had a hard time seeing straight because I was so very tired. I am so very,
Here's my take on the Alan Wyatt PSOB case:
It sounds like the Justice Dept. ruling is based definition of "public
safety officer" and "line of duty" in the federal regulation,
28CFR32. The full document can be retrieved at GPO website www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.phpl
(j) Public safety officer means any individual serving a public
agency in an official capacity, with or without compensation, as a law
enforcement officer, firefighter, rescue squad member or ambulance crew
(c) Line of duty means:
(1) Any action which an officer whose primary function is crime control or
reduction, enforcement of the criminal law, or suppression of fires is
obligated or authorized by rule, regulations, condition of employment or
service, or law to perform, including those social, ceremonial, or
athletic functions to which the officer is assigned, or for which the
officer is compensated, by the public agency he serves. For other
officers, "line of duty'' means any action the officer is so
obligated or authorized to perform in the course of controlling or
reducing crime, enforcing the criminal law, or suppressing fires.
So, the blanket statement that "AD's are not covered" is false.
It doesn't make any difference if your pay is determined administratively or
if you are paid at all. What is important is that you are working in an
"official capacity" as a firefighter. That means the good
Samaritans who invariably show up before the fire trucks are not covered.
But, the loggers will be covered, if they initiate suppression where
required by that stipulation in the timber sale contract to carry so many
shovels and extinguishers to fight new fires.
Just about anything I do connected with my department is a covered activity,
including dropping snags and getting hit by one. Others like fellers have to
meet the more rigorous standard, because their primary function is not
suppression of fires. It's apparently out of the second sentence in the
"line of duty" definition that the Justice Dept. came up with
Wyatt being "not authorized to engage in fighting fires." It
probably doesn't help the cause that fellers (except for boss) are not
listed in PMS 310-1, and that USFS may or may not follow BLM's lead in
developing a taskbook for fellers. Defining the "official
capacity" of a person by using agency rules and regulations is the way
the Justice Dept. determines eligibility.
As for the real question of whether sawyers should or should not be covered,
I wonder whether the power company lineman and tow truck driver should also
be covered? For our rare structure fires, if we can't locate a disconnect,
we will wait for the power company to show up before doing interior attack .
We sometimes use wrecker's cables to stabilize vehicles over the edge. These
people make it safe for us to go in to do our job, but either one of those
guys could die onscene and not get PSOB.
Yet, if the fire department paid our respects at the funeral and I was
killed during the procession to the cemetery, my wife and step-daughter
would get PSOB, because I was assigned to a ceremonial function. It's not
necessarily fair, but an act of Congress could change it - like they did
years ago in adding ambulance crews and then federal employees.
By the way, a few years ago we made up a 2-inch notebook of procedures for
our department, that details every step needed to insure the families of our
firefighters receive every benefit they are due, including PSOB and
education benefit. It is the agency responsibility to walk the survivors
through this. There are some time-critical things like blood tests and
filing deadlines that a grieving family should not have to deal with, and
which our staff might otherwise overlook during our own time of loss.
||Story of the accident:
from Another R6 FF
Just heard of 8 FF deaths from traffic accident near Vale, Oregon. Contract
fire crew from Roseburg, Oregon area.
||Northwest Cable News is reporting that a contract fire crew rig/van was in
an head-on accident with an 18 wheeler and lives were lost. This happened on
highway 20 near Or/Idaho border.
The news station reports the crew is based in Roseburg, OR and was
returning back to Oregon possibly from Idaho or Montana.
This is too sad for words. Sunday Prayers go out to all families and
Another R6 FF
Ab has confirmed the bare-bones of this. We are saddened beyond words.
||Re: PSOB discussion
On 8/12 Hickman wrote....
Strange that PSOB were not allowed for Wyatt, they listed him as one
of the fatalities due to firefighting assignment on
I went to the website and the U.S. Fire Administration has Wyatt listed
as a CAREER FIREFIGHTER - HIRED BY THE USFS. It seems to me that even with
various loopholes concerning ADs, if they list him as a career firefighter
then his family should be eligible for benefits.
Maybe I'm missing something here. Can someone shed a little more light on
Concerning PSOB program:
What you say makes sense.. common sense...but oddly maybe not "legal
sense". (Is that an oxymoron?)
"ADs are Federal employees. "
Most reasonable people would think so... yet possibly not.
Legal loopholes have been created by legislation (asked for by the Federal
fire agencies) which provide for the possibility that they are not actual
"Federal Employees". It may not be as bad as some loophole states
use to avoid responsibility for taking care of their "emergency
firefighters" (MN uses an old emergency firefighter conscription law to
"employ" most of its seasonal firefighters) but it still takes a
bit of imagination to understand how someone can receive a check to risk
their life completing a task for an "employing entity" and still
not be an employee.. in the legal sense. But once you understand that a law
can change the meaning of a commonly used word it gets a bit easier.
In my book if you are trained to fight fire, equipped to fight fire, go
fight fire and get paid for it you are a firefighter....but the folks in
Washington have a different "book" I guess.
You provided a copy of :
"16.571 ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:
Applicant Eligibility: Public safety officers--A public safety officer is
a person serving a public agency in an official capacity, with or without
compensation, as a law enforcement officer, firefighter or member of a
public rescue squad or ambulance crew." etc.
It would seem that according to this that all ADs WOULD be
It would also seem that the intention of the law was that anyone "on
the fireline taking part in suppression operations" would be eligible
for PSOB. Likewise most would "reasonably assume" that these folks
would be "under the umbrella of the term firefighter". If
reasonable people were involved in the decisions in court "any Federal
agency would have a hard time proving that AD fatalities would not be
covered by the PSOB program" as you state. Unfortunately only in
criminal trials are reasonable people involved in the process.. e.g.. a
jury. And the lawyers representing the "govt." don't usually need
to prove their case...they just need to convince the AD's lawyer that they
might be able to get a judge to agree with their interpretation.
In Federal court.. where these cases are decided... very few
"reasonable people" are involved in the decision. A federal judge
makes the decision based on whatever the attorneys can convince him are the
existing laws and "facts". And once a single federal judge had
made a decision that an AD might not be covered by PSOB the law
"changes" in that other judges consider such decisions as the
current interpretation of the law...and it is more risky to decide
differently than to not. Such a decision will certainly be appealed to a
"higher court" (few reasonable people there too) and will result
in one of the judges being judged "wrong". Very embarrassing.
And so...armed with such an "unreasonable decision" Justice
Department lawyers attempt to whittle away at what an AD (or their
survivors) deserve by presenting the argument that "the AD was
"not a federal employee", "not a firefighter", or
"not authorized to fight fire"...however unreasonable it may be.
They also use every trick in their bag to make the process as expensive as
possible since the AD has a limited budget and relative to that they do not.
After a while they dangle an unreasonably small "settlement offer"
which by that time seems like the only way either the AD, their survivors,
or the lawyer representing them will ever get anything at all.....except
more in debt. They call this "negotiation". They don't do this
because they are heartless bastards...they do this because "doing the
right thing" will not get you promoted to a higher paying position in
the Justice Dept and tricking the "other side" into accepting less
than half of what the are "clearly entitled to" will.
This kind of "negotiation" does not happen much with "real
federal employees" since they are represented by unions which have the
ability to cause major problems if this style of "negotiation" is
used on their members.. or members' survivors. ADs don't have a
union...which is why it is routinely used on them.. or their survivors.
||I came back pleased to see the PSOB is in "active discussion"
Are fallers "firefighters"?
Case in point:
Slims Fire, Elk, City, Idaho (this last week) : During back burning
operations, teams of our fallers would enter a back burned area to clear
hazard snags BEFORE the crews were allowed to enter the area so it would be
SAFE for them to work. Many of the large trees were still burning and posed
a risk to crews.
PSOB issue: The crew members are covered. The fallers are not.
This issue is not only on the DOJ table in the Wyatt case, but just about to
get very pressing, very fast... and, yes, the legal counsel is posturing
or...as someone just recently commented "playing hardball" because
they know there's no more playing "dodge ball."
||Here's a link to a few recent photos from Highway 20 in Oregon.
||Concerning PSOB program:
"16.571 ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:
Applicant Eligibility: Public safety officers--A public safety officer is a
person serving a public agency in an official capacity, with or without
compensation, as a law enforcement officer, firefighter or member of a
public rescue squad or ambulance crew. Law enforcement officers include but
are not limited to police, corrections, probation, parole and judicial
officers. Volunteer firefighters and members of volunteer rescue squads and
ambulance crews are covered if they are officially recognized or designated
members of legally organized volunteer fire, rescue or ambulance
departments. Disabled public safety officers and eligible survivors of
deceased public safety officers in DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands,
American Samoa, the Pacific Trust Territories and the Northern Mariana
Islands are also entitled to benefits under the Act. Death benefit coverage
for (1) State and local law enforcement officers and firefighters applies to
deaths occurring on or after September 29, 1976; (2) Federal law enforcement
officers and firefighters applies to deaths occurring on or after October
12, 1984; (3) Federal, State and local rescue squad and ambulance crew
members applies to death occurring on or after October 15, 1986; and (4)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel and State, local, and
tribal emergency management and civil defense agency employees are covered
for deaths occurring on or after October 30, 2000. Disability benefit
coverage for Federal, State and local law enforcement officers, firefighters
and members of public rescue squads and ambulance crews applies to injuries
sustained on or after November 29, 1990. FEMA personnel and State, local and
tribal emergency management and civil defense agency employees are covered
for such injuries sustained on or after October 30, 2000."
"Beneficiary Eligibility: The spouse and children of the public safety
officer are eligible survivors. The parents of the public safety officer
become eligible if the public safety officer is not survived by a spouse or
children. Children include any natural, out-of-wedlock, adopted or
posthumous child, or stepchild who is 18 years old or younger. Children over
18 may be eligible if they are full-time students or incapable of
self-support at the time of the public safety officers' death."
Looking at Mr. Wyatt as an AD:
a person serving a public agency in an official capacity: YES
as a law enforcement officer, firefighter or member of a public rescue squad
or ambulance crew: YES
Federal law enforcement officers and firefighters applies to deaths
occurring on or after October 12, 1984: YES
I think any Federal agency would have a hard time proving that AD fatalities
would not be covered by the PSOB program, and it would be an embarrassment
to have this issue go to court. ADs are Federal employees. If they are on
the fireline taking part in suppression operations it could be reasonably
assumed that they are there under the umbrella of the term firefighter.
||The Pacific Southwest Region Aviation TEAM program is still open, the
announcement closes on Sept 15, 2003. If you are interested in gaining
aviation training please check the announcement and apply.
Regional Aviation Training Specialist
My hat is off to you for making ADs you hire aware of the lack of
coverage/additional risk they have in such a position. Too few of those
hiring ADs are aware of the risks and lack of common benefits ADs have...let
alone take the trouble to fully inform them before they are hired. If the
hiring agencies wanted to be upfront about it they would provide a
form/informational pamphlet which spelled it all out instead of placing the
burden to do so on the individual hiring representatives.
I could not agree with you more that those who are fully informed and choose
to work as ADs deserve exactly what they get. It is their choice to take the
risk or not.. once they know about it. But I have a hard time agreeing that
it is solely the responsibility of ADs to "know" exactly what
their employment situation is. The employers have a minimum responsibility
to provide the information.. which really takes some digging to find if an
AD has to discover it themselves. And for those that have been misinformed
by the hiring agency's representative that they ARE covered by benefits
which in reality they are not...well... that would lead to criminal AND
civil suits if a private company tried to practice it.
There are some basic fairness issues here that cannot be justified by the
firefighting agencies' need to stretch their firefighting budget. This is
especially true for those ADs hired by representatives that either are
unaware of the additional risks and lack of common benefits) ADs bear or
"forget" to inform them at the time of hire.
Certainly the Justice Departments bogus determination of "not
authorized to fight fire" in the Wyatt case enrages some...and rightly
so. This is a blatant "cop out" and a slap in the face to every
person that risks their life fighting fire...not just ADs. I have dealt with
the JD lawyers enough to know that they are probably just "playing
hardball" and consider such a position the first step in
"settlement negotiations". Still...all firefighters....even
ADs...surviving family members deserve a bit more respect than that.
Bottom line is that if an AD is injured or dies fighting fire and was made
aware of the risk by the hiring agency... it is a very sad, but fair
situation. On the other hand if the hiring agency misled or failed to inform
them of the risk...they should bear the burden... not the firefighter or
The issue of PSOB coverage for Mr. Wyatt is still unclear to me. Was the
rejection of benefits based on Mr. Wyatt's status as an AD employee, or was
it based on his assignment (and was that as a FALC )?
I'm curious as to whether the deciding agency is saying:
1. AD's are not covered by PSOB.
2. Firefighters working as fallers or sawyers are not covered.
3. Only personnel assigned to the line for "arduous duties" are
(would that mean that logistics, planning, other support are not covered?)
Do you have links to the investigation, and the official response that
I am reluctant to hire resources or make assignments to positions that are
Any of the above means it's a sad day for us all.
Old Fire Guy
||Readers, here's part of a post that went to familysaid regarding a fine
fire summary website. There's information and phone numbers for
Universities in Idaho and Montana extending registration for fall classes
for seasonal firefighters. Thank you very much Paula. Ab.
For those interested in fires in the northern geographic area (Northern
Idaho, Montana and North Dakota), we have a website with all the large fire
summaries we update 3 times a day at www.fs.fed.us/r1/fire/2003fires/index.shtml.
This does not have crew information but at least families can keep track of
the latest fire movement.
I hope that helps folks out.
Northern Rockies Interagency Incident Information Center
I've lurked here a while and wonder if you've ever seen the other side of
your arguments. I hire AD's and have watched many situations over 20+ years.
For the past 10 or so, we've required our local AD's to sign papers on hire
that exactly lay out the AD situation. I also counsel them as the years go
on and see many who work the dream without regard to the facts of the
situation. Suddenly they realize they are aging.
Bottom line is that there's the responsibility of all of us to know our
situation. And don't expect a bail-out once life has passed us by. I know
this will enrage some folks, and some good ones too. But a wake-up call put
me on a career path years ago, and maybe this will too.
You posted the following and it interested the Wildland Fire Chief of
Ventura County Fire Dept. Would you provide us with a way to access this
project report? We appreciate all your fine work too.
The Aussie study on PPE, "Project Aquarius", found that 2/3
of the heat that a firefighter was subjected to was metabolically
generated, and only 1/3 came from the fire. The Aussie's are strong
proponents on a SINGLE layered system of PPE.
Dick, if you don't know, Doug works with the Ventura Co Fire
Department as well as with others. Ab.
Now don't you be having too much fun in Montana, ya hear!
||hey Montana mom,,,,
come to family said and join us for lots of support and general stuff we do
while waiting for our FF....some of us are mom's to FF, wives, boyfriends,
girlfriends....we cover it all
glad you got the message to your son
I just read Montana governor is extending the registration for college FF
who are out on the fires...
More good tips on familysaid.
||When is R3 going to stop sending out AD's that cannot keep up with the
technology? Being sent out as Supervisory Coordinators when they are so
far behind in the technology they are not helping at all. They don't know
ROSS, they don't want to learn. We don't have time to train them.
Supervisory dispatchers are there to help, answer questions etc. not along
for a "free well paid ride".
When things are moving at such a fast pace we don't need someone that is in
the way and more of a liability than any help at all. It is time to call a
halt to this type of dispatching. Just because they were qualified at one
time does not make them qualified now.
Some have admitted that they cannot keep up and ask not to be sent as a
||I just checked the lighting map (1400) looks as if the southwest is
getting hammered today.
An article in the local paper about an arsonist running lose in Mendocino
and Lake counties in northern California. www.pressdemo.com/.
The fire was good size and didn't see any report in the NIFC morning report.
What's up with that, they usually pick-up CDF fires.
Have a 30% chance of thunder showers this afternoon.
||Ab, I got someone to look on my home computer. Here's the
links for one way to get hold of results of the Aussie study.
Thanks, Muggs, for checking my machine!
ElDorado Dispatch in Camino CA with a little nudging found
a way to get my message to my FF son in Montana. Thanks
to you all for advising how to do that and how to not startle
the poor laddie.
||Interesting that this issue of contract equipment is still raging...
I believe that there are a couple items that everyone seems to be forgetting
First, the equipment and employees are only as good as the contractor is
willing to spend dollars for. Some are great with outstanding equipment and
people others are the dregs of the business and, when bared from doing
business, simply change the name and color of the rigs, starting over ( I
personally know of one person that did this no less than 4 times).
Also they are representative of the inspection of the equipment as well. I
have seen equipment inspected by contracting officers that do not know the
pump from the tank, mechanics that are great mechanics but know nothing of
fire quals and then there is the "good old boy" who is supposed to
know all this stuff but still puts his or her buddies on contract when their
rigs belong in the junk yard.
Secondly the folks on the fire have the responsibility to inspect and look
at the rigs and crews arriving at their incident to insure they meet the
contract, havnt been substituted on the road and are qualified to do the
job. If not, guess what? GET RID OF THEM. You will have far less problems in
the long run.
As for hiring the fire chasers, welp there are alot of them out there and
there always will be, simple solution to that problem. Don't hire them and
don't let them in the front gate. Require them to take it someplace else
away from the ICP/Base (otherwise you wind up feeding them) while they are
taking up needed space for people that do belong there. As an IC I dealt
with this almost every fire. Direction was, hire no fire chasers and inspect
or reinspect every rig that rolled in the door. You would be amazed at the
amount of stuff that failed and yep I was involved in several bruhahas over
rejecting junk equipment that was on contract but failed inspections for
minor things like brakes, lights, tires, fuel and the list goes on....
just my 2 cents
||anyone in need of a engine boss or crew boss..
i am in north carolina but will travel
||More on Memorials:
I believe there is a memorial site in Carson City commemorating
all the fallen firefighters within the state of Nevada.......Sierra Front
Cooperators should have tons of info on this, as they take the lead
on services held there.
Some Australian input on the wildland PPE issue. Project Aquarius focused on
and tested land management agency hand crews constructing fire line some
distance from the fire. The project outcome was as Dick Mangan said,
"single layer, less is more". Of interest though is the fact that
the firefighters being tested were wearing "proban" (flame
retarded cotton) coveralls, fabric weight about 12oz/yd. This compares to
lighter Nomex IIIA as used in North America at around 6 to 7.5oz/yd. The
heavier material of the Australian PPE stops radiant heat fairly well, but
can be very hot and heavy to wear compared to nomex.
However my preference, given that I like most Australian firefighters work
mostly from engines, is to wear a long sleeve cotton t-shirt and long cotton
trousers or jeans under the regular proban coveralls, or more recently since
obtaining a pair from the good folks at The Supply Cache at Fort Collins CO
-- Barrier Wear Nomex Coveralls.
Another interesting point is that in the last 8 years or so, here in
Australia there has been a tendency to wearing separate brush jackets and
overpants instead of coveralls, still in that heavy proban fabric. However
because of sizing issues, most of the jackets being like having a tent on
myself, I prefer one piece coveralls due to the fact that with jackets, heat
rises up under the jacket, and jackets snag up more in heavy brush compared
||The Aussie study on PPE, "Project Aquarius", found that 2/3 of
the heat that a firefighter was subjected to was metabolically generated,
and only 1/3 came from the fire. The Aussie's are strong proponents on a
SINGLE layered system of PPE.
||Jacob, re the helicopter vs fixed wing firefighting costs. You might have
to contact specific people who have reason to compare those costs. It's a
complex thing to figure out. Most who post here do not work with aircraft
and funding on that level. In addition, this is not a good time to get
feedback. The people who might know are very busy, some away from home. If
you have time, late September or October may be a better time to ask those
questions. Just want to let you know why you might not get a reply.
Ab- for the guy from Ventura who was looking for info... I'm not near my
research files, but seems to me the one vs two layers of ppe was discussed
on theysaid last year or the year before. Didn't the Aussies do some work on
that in the late '90s? CDF also debated it after the young inmate died of
heat exposure in 2000 or 2001. I may have a link to some of that at home
(far, far away). CDF or the Aussies found that double layers were better for
protecting from fire's effects (conduction, radiation outside in) but
double-layers also traps heat from the body (conduction, radiation inside
out)... putting the firefighter at greater risk for death from overheating,
especially if working/fighting fire in a hot environment. Sorry can't
remember the technical terms. Tell the Ventura guy to google with terms and
quotes - "wildland fire" "double layers" -and see what
Ironman, get a grip, man, no one is attacking all contractors, just the bad
ones. And good contractors are not happy with the bad ones either. Which
kind are you? Ever jump out of perfectly good planes without testing your
gear? I think not! Cry'manny.
Smoky here in MT. Be safe.
||Ab, My name is Jacob Biran.
I have flown helicopters since 1965, most of the time in the Israeli Air
Force. In the last 10 years I served in the National Police/Air Unit.
For my University study I need an information about the use of
"Helicopters In Disaster Areas".
I need doctrine, limitation, statistics comparison with fix wings and so on.
Can you help me?
Do you have any information about the development and the history of
Do you have cost and benefits of Helicopter Firefighting and can you compare
Helicopter to Fix Wing aircraft in Fire Fighting?
Thanks in advance.
The fire r-6 ff was talking about with photos:
Re Locust Fire and James' report of FF injuries:
"Two firefighters were treated for minor injuries, and a citizen
suffered a minor burn and smoke inhalation..."
Evacuation warning reinstated for MT fire:
||AJ, Fed Up and others,
The frustration of seeing poor contract equipment working when quality and
well trained engine crews are sitting is getting to many of us. This also
applies to the firechasing.
What I do not understand is who is allowing them on the fires or even giving
them regional contracts to begin with. I have been to inspections in both R6
and R4. Each time our engines are gone over with a fine-tooth comb and we
have always passed. Quality engine owners should have no fear of a thorough
inspection as long as it is done properly. These inspections are supposed to
eliminate both the poor equipment and the untrained operators.
If something should slip through, it should be turned around when it arrives
at the fire. Don't the division supervisors, Ops chiefs and ICs have the
same concerns regarding poor equipment? I would assume they would. Yet...the
substandard equipment (and firechasers) continue to get onto fires.
I would be very interested to hear some thoughts from overhead folks
||One thing on the conversation about contract engines.
I'm a dispatcher. As I said before, there are a lot of great contract
engines but I do think that contract " anything" from engine
crewmembers to hand crewmembers have to be qualified the same way. When a
local fire department signs off on some of these quals - as I saw last year
on my problem children contract engine - it scares me. These guys couldn't
give me a size-up or couldn't read a GPS unit ( and the boss was a red
carded ICT4 with ICT3(T) quals). If you think it's scary to you on the line,
it's even scarier for me. I had to keep telling the problem engine to stay
put and not go chasing smoke reports until I called them - which I didn't do
too often - because my other engines depended on me to take care of them and
you never know what fire is going to blow up and you want a experienced IC.
Maybe it should be a requirement that somebody from a federal agency has to
sign off on contractors and then be held responsible if he or she signs up
someone unqualified. I don't know a solution, but something has to be done
before we have more injuries or fatalities.
If somebody has a idea I sure would love to hear it. I just worry about all
the firefighters out there and some of the people signing off must not be.
||Dan, regarding what resources go where and when...
Different agencies have the right to order the specific resources they deem
most appropriate. It may not always be the most logical nor cost effective
from your perspective. Stop worrying about it and accept it.
Were I you, I would worry more about why people seem to ignore me on the
line, why I dare lead my people to the line without a briefing or
assignment, and how the hell I could almost be caught between two backfires
without knowing about them. Two backfires in one place (not sure I can even
imagine why) and you don't know about them? What do you do, just load yer
crews in the buggies and find a likely looking spot to start working?
Here's a suggestion. Get yer butt up a little earlier each morning and look
around the fire camp for lot's of folks standing in a semi-circle holding a
cup'a coffee in one hand and a bundle of papers in the other. They typically
all have their heads and eyes pointed towards the center of the circle,
though some may be chatting to each other or even staring at the ground. Get
yerself a bundle of those papers all stapled together, you should find your
crew's name in there under one of the division assignment sections. Approach
the group and become part of it, you particularly should try to get as close
to the front of the group as possible. There will be a parade of folks
getting up on some kind of box or elevated platform talking about everything
you ever wanted to know about the fire you are on. Try not to doze off, even
if they begin talking about sexual harassment or other really boring stuff.
After all, you really don't have to worry about that kind of stuff. Or do
you? Yes, I guess there is some gender harassment, so pay attention to that
too. Ok, back to the subject. When the group breaks up and begins milling
around, listen for someone shouting the name of your assigned division. It
sound like you will be truly amazed at the amount of information you can
obtain at one of these "morning briefings".
Lemm'e know how it all turns out and what ya learn, hopefully, before I read
about you and your crew being candidates for a new memorial.
Just my two cents worth regarding ass-kicking and taking potshots at all us
morons, who, for whatever reason, are still fighting fire long after our
usefullness to the agency ended. I am one such moron, who, after a long and
personally fulfilling career, as groundpounder, helitack geek, hotshot
crewmember, and SMOKEJUMPER, found my tired old ass in the seat of a 4000
gal. water tender. It just seemed like the natural thing to do. I'm certain
that to the untrained eye, It may appear that I do not know jack about how a
tender operates, or for that matter, have any clue whatsoever about wildland
fire suppression. Let me assure some of your snotnosed know-it-alls out in
cyberspace, that for every idiot contractor, there are two Feds equally as
lost. Hellsfire, I was crackin' silk over the bitterroot, when most of the
whiners that are wasting your time and mine, were still loading their
pampers. We're in this together, like it or not. GROW UP!
||just spent 2 weeks at Robert .. all contract engines, some of the weakest
stuff I have ever seen.
Granted I am used to agency stuff but when another engine said hey those
guys can't even pump water, I checked and sure enough they had not taken the
time to figure it out.. only when I told him he would be off the shift plan
did they really scramble and eventually get something out of the hose.
further these rigs are staffed with people who are redcarded at FF2 ( Basic
firefighter ) by their own employer, no less. Not even engine boss.. when
asked to make a hose lay around a 40 by 100 slopover I had to draw a diagram
of a trunk line with laterals.
these guys were paid 150 a day under the table and the engine was pulling
down 1350 a day ... something is wrong.. I would not have them cover
||Looks like it must be getting close to Elk season here in Montana:
California license plates are showing up (attached to red CDF engines,
instead of 4X4's with ATV's in the back)! Where's Arnold??
Mike Dietrich and his T-2 IMT did a great job on Black Mountain; Mike won a
lot of friends when he told a community meeting about coming "back to
Missoula": he's a UM grad, and gave the always popular "GO
GRIZ!!!" to the local folks with homes at risk.
At 7PM tonite, a small cell moved through, blowing at 40-50 mph and laying
lots more smoke in the Valley. It ain't over 'til its over!
Missoula Rural FD did a great job Saturday nite, too when 650+ homes got
seriously at risk when another front with big winds passed by; lost 2,
probably losers in any kind of an event, but saved a bunch with SAFE and
aggressive structure protection efforts AND.....nobody (firefighters or
civilians) got hurt!
Lots of fire season left in Big Sky Country.....come on up and visit! Thanks
to all who have already come and helped.
Don't know if this will help on the PPE question but it appears to have a
lot of information there. It might contain what Brian is looking for.
||Just heard on the news that two firefighters were burned in Riverside. I
did not catch the details.
I was able to confirm that there was an injury on the Locust Fire (RRU)
today. The Locust is a fast moving grass and brush fire in rough hills ~
Locust Av. and Redlands Blvd; 1,668 acres and 60% contained. There are
conflicting reports about the injuries. It is unclear whether one person was
injured twice -- received both minor burns and some smoke inhalation -- or
whether one person had smoke inhalation and another person had minor burns.
When someone knows the details, please let us know. Ab.
||two large fires one at santiam pass milepost 82 hwy 20 and one in mt
jefferson wilderness hwy 20 is closed to traffic air tankers on order
We know how you feel, since last year during the Oregon fires, Montana
trucks were dispatched before the local Oregon trucks that had current
contracts. It is not fair, but since they did that last year and also
accepted fire chasers, he probably thought it was okay.
I do agree that they should have a full inspection and be able to pump and
draft. I have seen that myself on equipment that has come onto fires that
the operators do not have a clue as what to do or even how to operate their
||today they called for some engines to montana. its starting to trickle
us. people be patient
Just wondering if you had any info on PPE and single layering or Double
Layering either in archives of they said or maybe a link to a PPE website?
Thanks for your time
Ventura County Fire Department, Wildland Division
Anyone know of links to research on efficacy of PPE layering? Ab.
||On a fire not too many years back.....
One of my engine crews was asked to "help" this new contract
engine get lined out as they would be staying on the fire. My crew that had
done a very good job was to be demobed after shift. My engine boss asked the
young lady to go down to the fill spot and draft a load.
Her response was "What's Draft?"
I agree with FED-UP and wonder how many Private engines Fire-Chased their
way to their current assignments in R-1.
||Finished my first season in Gila national forest, and will not go back.
Their season is May, June, July, and first week of August, so that they can
fit in the large number of teachers and students that they hire. Fire
conditions are secondary. To many other positions that last longer, I can
fill. Otherwise a Great forest.
That's also the peak of their fire season. Seasonal firefighters should
definitely look at the fire season and the amount of fire fought before they
apply to a particular forest. It's good to know the parameters of the
playing/working field. Ab.
||Many thanks to COMT, GJ, R3 Dispatcher, FirenWater and Ab!
I'm a greenhorn FF mom from a 5th generation FF family. These
new electronic com tools are wonderful!
Again, my heart goes out to all of you helping all of us.
||I know of a water tender from oregon driving to Missoula, sitting at a
truck stop, getting a new contract, and going to work on a fire. This is
called fire chasing. This is not the procedure. Whats going on up there,
should all contractors drive up, stay in truck stops and wait for work? This
kind of tactic cannot be tolerated from both sides. The tender should be
blackballed and the person that hired it should be looking for a new job.
This is a real slap in the face for the legit contractors.
||To those complaining about inspections,
They are being super careful about the equipment going to the Montana fires
for the following reasons:
There have been two private contractors out of North Idaho that have sent
clunker equipment up to "Robert" and the trucks either broke down
on the trip up or were so disabled they were sent home.
A couple of weeks ago a private contractor sent a tender up to Robert and
the operator could not pump or draft.......so now every truck (whether
private or professional) goes to Dispatch at the airport and is thoroughly
inspected and if it is a tender the operator has to demonstrate he can pump
and draft adequately.
Inspections impact all, but are necessary. We have had the same problem
with inadequate equipment and people who didn't know how to run it last
summer in Oregon and northern California. Ab.
||Clarification for those needing to send an emergency message:
As for getting messages to people on assignment. I
work in communications and most messages of this type
go thru commo and I have had to handle these
Get the message to the local dispatch office that
The way it works is that when a family emergency comes
thru requiring return home (death in family, someone in
emergency room in bad shape), the travel arrangements
are sometimes made when the home dispatch is initially
informed. (As far as I know this is for Federal
personnel, I have not had to inform a contractor yet,
so I am not sure what the procedure would be).
When communications receives a family emergency
message the established procedure (on some fire
management teams, and if they have one) is to inform
the human resource officer (this the touchy-feely
person who looks out for the personal welfare and
behavior of fire personnel) who then would arrange the
best way to handle the situation. You can never tell
what their reaction might be to receiving bad news and
the human resource person will try to help as best
From personal experience the worst feeling is having
the division supervisor pull you aside to hand deliver
a message to you, with a driver there to take you back
Anyway, usually there are established procedures to
get a person home for such situations, or deliver an
important message. So have your loved one leave the
phone number to the dispatch office that assigned them
just in case.
||Another memorial site:
I'm sure there's someone out there with more information on this memorial
site than I have. Maybe posting this will get a response.
The memorial to the Marines who died fighting the Hauser Canyon Fire, I
think in 1946.
It's a hike to get to it, because it's located in a Wilderness Area.
Located in the Hauser Canyon a little south of Lake Moreno Village in East
San Diego County in the Cleveland Nat'l Forest.
||The the MOM trying to get a message to her son:
Go through "Camino" the dispatch center for the ENF. They can
track his crew and get an "Emergency message" to the fire that the
crew is on and then the COMM unit can track the crew down in camp. The
system works -- dispatcher use it all the time. On the message just say
"Call home, for school info -- time critical" or something like
that. The message will get through. Dispatchers are really good about
getting messages through.
XXOO MOM, The GACC (Geographical Area Coordinating Center) suggests you
call Ty's originating forest/station to get them to submit an Emergency
Message Form. Then it will be clear to those seeking him exactly who he is
with and they can track him to his current fire and pass the message on.
Thanks to FirenWater and GJ for the help behind the scenes. Ab.
||Morning folks! Haven't been keeping on the site, but scanned it this
morning and had to respond to a couple things...
Correction to R-squared... South Ops posted on their web site Friday (www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/fwx/operations/osc-archive/notes.phpl)
that they had over 825 people committed out of state already... of course
more left over the weekend, I hear, so the number's higher.
As for ANF's question... I'd say south zone has sent some help. Plus, they
have sent most all but one (as of yesterday) of their Type I crews.
Unfortunately and as always happens, someone's got to stay home and guard
the fort. The Angeles NF is the most visited in the country, which equals
the highest potential for idiots out starting fires. What happens when the
big one starts and everything's out of state? You can't send EVERYTHING.
And for Dan... granted there are silly things that happen when ordering T1
crews... and aside from the whole debate about state crews vs. federal
crews, often there are many other issues that come into play. State crews
are more limited in their capabilities as far as remote work is concerned.
Feds are getting more pressure to contain costs, and ordering federal
resources can be more cost effective (whether it appears that way or not).
Billing issues also come into play, and the state does not always pay their
bills. When it's a state fire, CDF-only crew orders are very frequent, and
CDF-only engines, aircraft, etc. Depends on if you are looking for closest
forces, or agency-only. There are MANY reasons why decisions are made...
although a lot of them are not good ones, some of the decisions stem from
fairly complicated reasons. It sounds to me like the issue you saw at south
ops should have been sent to the fed managers to see if it could have been
handled by better coordination. Internal communication issue? Maybe if
management knew what was happening, they could have fixed it? In many many
cases, everyone assumes everyone knows what is going on, but then two weeks
later you hear of a problem that could have been solved if the right people
had heard about it.
I get tired of hearing people gripe and moan about things that are not
nearly as simple as everyone tries to make them. Everybody cannot go to all
the fires at the same time. It's not strategic to do things that way. We
didn't send our entire military to Iraq... why would we send all of our
firefighters to Montana? There are many reasons why the FS and CDF make
decisions in California, and yes, there are politics. If you all have a
practical solution to any of this other than griping, I am sure management
would love to hear it. Other than BETTER COMMUNICATION, which we are all
lacking in and guilty of screwing up, I'm not sure there is a quick fix. And
the bottom line is, really when it comes down to it, improving communication
sucks and it's difficult to do it well and it's painful because you have to
confront things that are unpleasant and people you don't like, etc etc. So
here we are...
Mellie... good point about "ask for what you're worth"...
Enough from me.... y'all be safe-
||JC, regarding the inspections, who is the they? Did you get hired at the
site? What kind of high tech equipment are we talking about? Where did you
get ordered from?
Does anyone have a web site address that lists the critical resource needs
and daily area command decisions?
||Mellie, Mollysboy, L.A.V.E. and Dana,
Thanks for reading and putting your "two cents" in about our
Dana, I appreciated your candor about AD's on the fireline. I know for a
fact that Dad had no idea what would lie ahead for us when he signed on as
an "Emergency Hire". All the same, someone has to stand up for
just and argue that he was in fact very much empowered "to engage in
suppression activities". That reason for declination is weak at best.
they are going to decline my Mom for this benefit, they better find a lot
better reason than saying he was "unauthorized" to die doing what
The San Juan National Forest knows better. You're right when you say that
the Government has endless resources and we, as the low-income fire
survivors, have limited funds. But, my Dad and I had a very special saying
between the two of us that is driving my passion today: "Which dog is
dog? The one who tries the hardest." I'm not going to let this
happen for my mom and all future widows without a fight.
Leigh Ann (Wyatt) Evans
||An email has come in from a Mom whose son is on a handcrew from the
Eldorado NF. He's been accepted at U Montana and needs to call home and then
call UM to reserve his space for whenever he decides to attend.
Anyone know how she can get a message to him? She knows what crew, but not
where he is. Here's the message:
Ty, Good News! You have been accepted at the University of Montana.
You must call them regardless of whether or not you register this
fall or later. They have a special FIREFIGHTER help desk at UM is
243-2500 where you can call to explain your situation and get your
dates moved around. Your student ID Number has been assigned to you.
Please call home to get that number. Orientation is set for 8/27-29.
School officially starts 9/2/03. XXOO, Mom
hope cool weather will aid firefight
Fire still keeps Salmon ID area residents away from home
Higher temperatures, winds forecast for Missoula
Be safe everyone.
What did they tear you up on? Where is your contract based? And how long?
I came across a truly inspirational document yesterday on the Wildland Fire
Leadership site. It is an interview with Paul Gleason (www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/interviews/leaders_PaulGleason.phpl
from the day before he died. The page has a link to Paul's original 1991
proposing the use of LCES. DF posted the link back in April, but I'm
guessing a lot of people missed it because nobody else commented.
So far it's the only interview in the section the site is calling
We Would Like to Meet."
As Paul explains what he did at the Dude Fire, going down into the canyon
while others were coming up in a hurry, I get the vision of him as an FDNY
firefighter. The Twin Towers were the same thing, just reversed directions.
And, the comments he has about Cerro Grande are just as impressive.
Thanks to Jim Cook and Angela Tom for preserving this part of the legacy for
Thanks vfd cap'n. I just checked and Mellie has those on the Paul's Links
page. If you come across any more, please let us know. Ab.
||The Wildland Firefighter Series
0462 & Series
0455 have been updated.
changed their system and the search capabilities within Series 0462 and 0455
have increased significantly with their latest upgrade. After getting the
correct series, you can fine tune what you're looking for by entering
keywords such as "engine crew" or "handcrew" or
"hotshot" or "FMO". You can select "detailed"
or "brief" report. If you're a wildland firefighter looking for
jobs within the 0401 professional biologist series (a ff who's a
professional biologist???), searching on the keyword "fire" is a
godsend. Used to be almost impossibly time consuming to find fire jobs
within that series.
However for us with the new OPM system, posting our two series pages
involves much more cutting, pasting and tooling up the pages than in the
past. It's much, much more time consuming. For the time being, we will
continue to update the pages on Tuesday and Friday. If it seems the OPM site
is sufficiently user friendly, we may choose instead to provide instructions
for those not familiar with the system so they can search on their own.
||Palos and Freelancer.
Thanks for the info. The memorial site is a few pages large at this point. I
may need more info from NMAirBear and backburnfs and others here to get the
details straight. I am working with quite a few facts people sent in for the
Heroism Award. One thing that would be nice would be a few more pictures of
Paul. If anyone has pictures, please let me know.
Freelancer, I'll drop you a line as I get a chance today or tomorrow. Maybe
you'd like a peek at what I've done.
Pulaski! Nice job on the Wildland Firefighter Memorial Sites (and Monument)
||Someone asked why Montana is saying they have no resources or equipment. I
wish someone would tell me also. We have tried everything to get our
equipment on, but all we get is the run around. we are in montana and still
no work. we did get a call today and sat in inspection for 8 hours while
they tore our equipment apart! I don't get it either, The work is there, the
people are scared, and yet we don't get a call. And when we finally do, we
get more hassle. I get tired of hearing how they are hurting for equipment,
when we have 3 high tech pieces sitting here putting us in debt and can't
use them. Someone, please tell me what is going on!!
||Can anyone tell me what the "Modified Gasner Bar Pack" is?
I started on in this business on the Red Feather R.D. around when Paul
came to town. And thank god he did. I was awesome to see a nowhere
fire/Rx program get fired up and rolling, and even better to see some
new fire folks get fired up and rolling in this crazy job (me included).
For those of you that may have been there, work on "Crosier" and
Moon" and catching some bonus time in the Poudre with the
always more fun than words could describe.
I know that in the late 90's (not sure if he was still there or had moved
on to the NPS) the "Red Feather" and Estes/Poudre" R.D.'s
into the "Canyon Lakes" R.D.. (By the way, the lake are not in the
canyons, and actually most of the lakes around there are either dry of
human made. Maybe I'll explain and pick on the local admin. staff later)
Very glad to hear that his time there might be acknowledged some where
other that just in a few of our memories. The work that he got done in
a short amount of time, and with damn near zero support from a non fire
district ranger and staff, could have only been accomplished by a few
gifted individuals. And the lives/careers that he kick started/ encouraged/
guided while he was there, well... allot of us who were there still talk,
and we will always appreciate what he did. And we will always miss him.
I guess all I can say is that for such and inspirational individual who
touched my life, and lives of so many others, every bit of recognition
to Paul's accomplishments should be remembered by all who log on to this
site. And all of us should remember his passion for safety, and a safe
job well done on the line every shift.
Mellie, thanx for working on that
Redfeather Lakes District and Estes Park District have become all part of
the Canyon Lakes District of the Roosevelt National Forest. Canyon Lakes
Ranger District now encompasses the old Estes Park, Buckhorn, Stub Creek,
Redfeather Lakes, and the front country of the foothills by Fort Collins.
The FMO and many of the other staff of the District has been on the forest
since before the districts joined each other and may be able to help you out
with your search.
Let me know If I can help.
||Readers and contributors.
Pulaski finished up the Wildland Firefighter Monument
and Memorial Sites page by state. If you know of any more, please send
Thanks very much Pulaski. Much better arrangement.
||A frontal passage brought cooler temps, but 30-50 mph winds, to the
Western Montana fires today: the Black Mountain fire blew up badly,
requiring mandatory evacuations of a lot of homes in the O'Brien
Creek/Horseback Ridge area just outside of Missoula. Pretty impressive
convection column about 7 PM, and still a good red glow in the sky. Idaho
fires are coming across the border to visit, too!
It ain't another 1910 yet, but it's giving an awful lot of folks a close-up
view of life in the Interface.
So far, all the fire folks are staying heads up and safe......let's hope it
You taking pictures? Ab.
||Can anyone tell me why if they are needing resources in Montana, why are
they not requesting contract engines and tenders from Region 6? Here in the
Southern part of Oregon, we have not had any work so far this year and there
is a lot of equipment just setting.
-->ID, MT, Canada from space
||Just a 1748 CA time update. 10 more Type 3’s being filled at this time
from South Zone Forest for Black Mtn #2 in MT. That makes about 24 from
South Ops and 13 from North Ops. Remember they don’t like Strike Teams, so
every thing has to be singles.
1844 CA update. California Department of Forestry is sending 4 Strike Teams
of Type 3 to MT. Two from North Ops and two from South Ops.
It just so happens, 14 T3 Engines from Socal were mobilized to the Northern
Rocky's on 8/15. Including ANF engines! Those are the only request that have
been placed to South Ops from the National Incident Coordination Center.
South-Zone (AKA) SOPS, has been placing out every request that has been
received from NICC to all the Socal forests. As a matter of fact, there are
approx 600 personnel from Socal out on incidents (including crews). And ,
currently there are 1,055 overhead request being worked on at the NICC
level. Hope this helps!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thought this sight might be of interest for everyone. www.montanafires.com
It's got some great editorials and pics in addition to current fire news on
the fires in Montana.
Does anyone know what happened to the Redleather and Estes Poudre Ranger
Districts? Did they, by chance, become the Lakeview RD? or get combined
under some other name during forest downsizing in the '90s?
The reason I'm asking is that I'm working on a memorial page for Paul
Paul received an award for Sustained Superior Performance, November 1993,
for managing fire and fuels programs on these RDs. I also heard from friends
(who are now away on fire) that he helped Estes Park create some kind of
shaded fuel break that protected the community of Estes Park from the
ravages of the Hayman Fire last summer. Does anyone have the lowdown on
this? Firewolf, if you're reading, have some answers and can get in touch,
please call me.
vfd capt, I look forward to meeting you one of these years. I promise not to
surprise you (if I can help it). <chuckle>
||"Fire fighter found dead in camp
Posted at 2:30 p.m. August 15
By Allison Farrell Missoulian State Bureau"
Love and prayers. Be safe.
||Ab or any body else that can answer this.
Why isnt south zone sending any Engines to Montana or Idaho when there is
nothing going on in south zone? Is somebody scared that if they send
equipment that we are going to have the big ONE? I understand that there is
10,000 outstanding orders for overhead, and I know there is outstanding
orders for engines type 3's. Between the 4 southern forests you about 80
engines I'm sure South Zone can send some kinda help out there. Still
waiting for the big ONE.
||How we will be dealing with the multitude of fires in Montana:
Lots of rain doesn't seem to be in the cards right now. High wind events do.
If you haven't looked lately, check the NIFC
Large Fire Map. Then look at the NIFC
Fire News. It's been blank since yesterday afternoon. Think they're
||Good luck Casey and FWFSA.
Readers, the attitude that "you will price yourself out of a job"
keeps wildland firefighters from asking for what they need to make a viable
living. Members of the FS, BLM and NPS -- being "service oriented"
is your greatest strength. I applaud you. It is also your greatest weakness.
"Thinking poor" as my thrifty mom used to say is different than
thrifty, and it keeps you poor. Toughen up, get some spine, get together
and ask for what you're worth -- and what you and your families need!
In the long run this will serve the Public best!
As thirty year career firefighter with the USFS, I welcome and applaud yours
and the FWFSA's efforts to correct the pay inequities in the Land Management
Agencies firefighting arms.
When I first started with this outfit there were people who fought every pay
raise and common sense request for better equipment, pay and conditions
saying that "we will price ourselves out of business"! I continue
to see us keep our own folks "down on the farm" while having no
problem enlisting other agencies help regardless of cost.
Please keep up the good work and efforts......And to you folks who don't
want better for your children and employee's, please donate any pay raises
to your favorite charity!!
||A 48 year old firefighter from Massachusetts (Wayne Mickle) was found dead
in his tent on Friday morning at the Boles Creek ICP northeast of Missoula,
Montana from an apparent heart attack. It was determined that his aortic
valve ruptured at about 2 AM.
The remainder of the crew was demobbed from the fire and returned to
Massachusetts with the body of their deceased crew member.
My main reason for holding back is the desire to further my
qualification and training levels. Over the last couple of years I have
been the lead crew boss and have missed out on opportunities to increase
my professional development, while other members of our state have taken
single resource assignments. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the
satisfaction and pride in doing a difficult job as crew boss and would
never hold back a crew from my state just for ego sake.
The issue of taking a "foreign" crew, has totally to do with what
cap'n states, "crew cohesion", I am used to the cohesion that has
developed with our crew members. I know that type one crews that work
together all summer develop a high level of cohesion, and in all the
literature that I have read it talks about the lack sometimes of that
development in type two crews that are formed for two week assignments.
BUT, I know that our crew has something even greater, most of us know
each other 365 days a year, We work, play, and socialize together all the
time, and we are there for each other. I know the Massachusetts crew must
be devastated with the untimely death of Wayne Mickle on the Boles
Meadow Fire. (My condolences go out to his family and friends and to the
MA crew, I can only imagine what you're going through), That is why I am
hesitant to take an assignment with a crew I have not worked with
But you bring up an issue that I had not considered,
which is one of the greatest limiting factors to our crews, and if given
the opportunity to take a crew that has been taking assignments and was
familiar with a number of the crew members (since we are in a small
geographic area we do train together) in leadership positions (FF1, ICT5),
I would seriously consider the assignment.
Thanks for your insight,
RE: your response to Keestroke on 8/12.
I only wish that were true.
Have you ever dealt with the LPF or ANF?...as a CDF'er
I did 2 weeks at the Riverside GACC last year in expanded on crews.
I personally received from the ANF a request for 20 'Type 1 crews' as single
resources in MIRPS.
I called ANF Dispatch explained to them that if they changed the request to
Strike Teams I could have 5 strike teams of CDF crews there the next day and
the other 5 ST's there the day after.
I also explained that if they wanted Shots, the majority of the requests
would have to go thru NIFC with unknown ETA's.
Due to fire activity on the BDF most of the SOCAL shots were committed.
The dispatcher said, "That makes sense. Let me check with the my
Ten minutes later the request was changed in MIRPS not to Strike Teams, but
to " Fed Only" Type 1's.
Again, I called the ANF and explained the situation and the dispatcher said,
"I don't know why but they only want shot crews."
I checked with my supervisor there at So. Ops and he agreed it was stupid,
but if that's what they want then that's what they get.
So I placed 10 of the requests with NIFC and the others to various SoCal
Forests and with NorCal GACC..
End result was about 5 of the requests were never filled, the local crews
that came available, trickled into the fire over the next 2 to 7 days and
most of the out of state crews took longer then that
I know, I know... shot crews are the best of the best...
and they are good..
and most are better, more versatile and better trained then the CDF crews.
But come on... where was the cost savings on that one? and basically the
fire managers were saying better no crews at all then CDF crews.
Yep I was a little insulted by that one.
I ran inmates for 8 years and I've been to both the LPF and ANF forests with
my crews and were treated like dirt each and every time.
I personally had Division Supes ignore us on the fire line, no briefing, no
assignment, no nothing. My crew and I were almost trapped between to back
fires because we had no idea a back fire was taking place, nobody felt it
necessary to tell us the decision had been made to light the back fire...
...sorry it's a simple fact... they don't like the CDF crews.
so excuse mine and keestrokes skepticism when we read the critical resource
need on the 209 and it says, "Type 1 Crews."
You may not want to post this one on "They Said"... I'd hate to
start up THAT debate.
Better that we all just pretend we all get along.
We sent a type 6x engine to Montana last night, with the possibility it'll
be there awhile as crews swap out every two weeks. Keep them safe.
I credit NortheastCWB's sensibility for being reluctant to fill a crew boss
slot with folks he hasn't worked with before. That was supposed to be a
lesson learned from Thirtymile - crew cohesion takes time and mere formal
designation of leadership doesn't mean much when things blow up.
On another topic..... for folks wanting to write letters to fight
competitive sourcing: The Western Governors' Association has their annual
next month. They have scheduled one and a half hours on Sept. 15th to
discuss the recommendations from June's Missoula forest health summit.
Gov. Judy Martz of Montana and Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho especially need
to hear from their constituents that meaningful changes to wildfire and
forest management will not take place while agency staff have to devote so
much time to outsourcing studies. And besides that, rural economies will
suffer with the loss of living-wage federal jobs. Please write your
The specific recommendation they should adopt is "Look critically at
workforce management -- out-sourcing and regulatory issues."
||I appreciate some of the comments raised about my posting on portal to
portal pay. However, the comments I made are of factual basis after spending
24 years working with the federal government, the last 15 of which dealing
directly with congress, federal government agencies etc. I would be
delighted to "swap" e-mails with "CW" "puffin
II" or "Treehggr" but I don't think it fair or appropriate to
do a tit-for-tat debate in this forum.
That being said, I again offer my phone number of 916-408-8934 or e-mail
address of FWFSAlobby@aol.com to
discuss the "economy" "deficits" or anything else
someone may have a question or concern on simply because I HAVE sold a $150
million a year "pay raise" for federal firefighters to some of the
most cost-conscious, fiscally conservative folks to ever work on Capitol
By the way, I HAVE seen a blowtorch across a 6 lane highway estimated at
about 100mph and have witnessed enormous crown fires despite being a
"structural" firefighter for so many years.
Also, I am not suggesting ADs or others don't have issues. However, my
obligation is to the men and women of the USFS and my job is to help them
achieve their legislative goals and objectives.
I, too, applaud you and the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association's
efforts to push this very important issue of portal to portal pay. The FWFSA
has been around for a long time and this is one of the subjects that they
have been pushing for. With Casey on board with us now, I see a bunch of the
problems that the organization has been suffering from finally coming to an
I see Casey cleaning up the communication breakdown between the
organization, members, and new recruits. .
Casey welcome aboard and I can tell you that I am proud to have you
working on our issues for us.
Wish you had as good an organization as FWFSA to call on to make change, but
as Ab says, FWFSA is for federal wildland firefighters. Check out the
ADFA -- started and supported by many retired-feds and others -- and
lobbying for ALL ADs, including AD crews. There IS power in numbers. Maybe
you'll help us with contacting your congressional reps on our behalf when we
need that and we can help you out when you need legislation passed. A PACK
of a pack of wolves...
||this announcement arrived with an attachment that included his FF history
- unfortunately I cannot add it to this post:
"This announcement is for the Memorial Mass that will be held in
El Dorado Hills, Northern California for the Cooney family, close friends,
the OES Agency family on Wednesday, August 20, 2003, at 10:00 AM.
In addition we are coordinating a Fire Service Memorial Service for the
family that will held in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 24, 2003."
Pat Cooney had retired from the USFS from southzone and worked at CA OES
for a awhile. from what I've been told he'd been battling cancer recently
I think the previous OES Chief Dougherty (misspelled) hired Pat before HE
retired to AR (who says the old dudes in wildland fire don't remember their
capable good old buds - NO OFFENSE INTENDED!!!!) both were USFS
I'd appreciate it if you posted what I put in quotes, maybe other retirees
haven't heard about Pat's passing. (if you want additional info I'll have to
find a way it has Pat's picture and lots of FF info)
||To: Be Safe.
Trainee Assignments from the east are being filled. But why would you not
want to go out as a crew boss when the need is there? You briefly
suggested training, fitness, quals, etc as reasons. I would be interested
in what drives your hesitancy to take out a "foreign" crew. (And
given thought that the crew you may be assigned to may already be an
acclimatized western crew?
I think your response may open a meaningful discussion if you care to
partake. Also, why miss up an assignment waiting for something to happen?
The opportunity to not go anywhere may occur if you wait for the
||I wonder whats taking so long
All those fires popping up and no one has called for us to come down yet.
Montana and Idaho look like they came down w/ chicken pox with all those
little red dots all over the map, which will probably double by tomorrow
morning. I keep calling the dnr office to find out and I get the same
answer: we haven't gotten any orders. They can't understand why either.
Anyways I'm still hanging on to my sanity.
Watch out for the BOOGYMAN
||I have been on the board as a STL (crew) trainee for a couple of weeks,
and I have passed up a number of Crew boss assignments with my home
state unit with the hope of being picked up for a trainee assignment. I
am also limited on the amount of assignments I can accept. With the
season heating up and a number of crews in the east looking for
qualified crew bosses, I have been asked to work with crews outside my
state unit, although I want to help anyway I can I am hesitant to accept
an assignment with an unfamiliar crew (training, fitness, qualifications?).
My question for y'all: are trainee assignments from the east being
filled, and should I wait?
PS. Also I finally got this picture scanned and thought with the activity in
MT, it might be timely. Sulla complex 2000, Sulla country store, Bridger
Fire pretreating with a CAFs unit before fire front, My crew was doing
triage on the buildings, picture was taken at approximately the same
time as the famous "Elk" shot, apologies to the Bridger guys. I
know their names.
Northeast CWB, that's a graphic photo that's a heads-up for those
living on the interface. I put it on Engines
7 Photo page.
Readers, I also got some more photos up of the CDF series taken by the high
school student from the Redding area (I think). Young fire photographer, I
hope you can resend the information on these photos, if you're reading. Ab.
||CNN reporting mass power outages in New York city affecting airports,
Ab verifies this. Also now (1330) reporting outages in Detroit, Cleveland,
Toledo, Toronto and Ottawa. Be safe.
Update (1405): They think this is an overload of the Niagra Mohawk Power
grid. In NYC the 14th St Con Ed facility emitted black smoke as it shut down
as it is supposed to do to protect the equipment. Mayor Bloomberg of NYC
says there is no evidence of terrorism, just a blackout. He adds that
hospitals have sufficient emergency power and that subway travelers are
being escorted out.
Being an AD for the state of Pa for awhile now, I had no clue that I had no
Comp coverage, or any of the other benefits. I guess one way to solve the
problem is education.
Educate all the ADs out there that they have no coverage, and then see what
happens. Most of them will still fight fire, because of our nature. The
other ones will either stop, or get hired on some other level. I personally
will explore all other options before I go back out as an AD. I need to find
out how to go about getting my municipal firefighter position backfilled. If
there is anyone who can help me (us, there are at least 2 of us that are red
carded, soon to be 3 or 4) I'd appreciate it. Due to kids, house, and all
the other usual commitments, I cannot leave the security of this position
and go full time wildland, even though I like wildland better. If I can
convince the top brass that letting me go is cost neutral, than they will
probably let me go. But right now as an AD, I have to arrange all my own
trades and pay the guys back when I get back. Another question, is the
backfilling dependant on your quals? since I only have FALB, pumps, 290.
Will that make a difference?
It sounds like this is another item for either the IAFF, or FWFSA to handle.
I wish I would have known about this last week, I was talking to Mr.
Schaitberger about other firefighter issues, and could have brought this up.
Any suggestions anyone?
FWFSA is an organization for federal firefighters. The AD Firefighter
Association focuses on ADs and AD issues. Some good folks there. There's a
link to the ADFA on the Classifieds
CDF Riverside had an Inmate Firefighter, on one of their crew, die this past
weekend. The crew was involved in training during the early afternoon and
the firefighter may have succumbed to a heat related problem. Chief Tom
Tisdale ordered flags flown at half staff.
The record heat and high RH ( not the typical dry heat) in the Southwest
have been producing heat index highs in the 130 to 140 degree fahrenheit
range. Despite some monsoon activity, many areas remain dry. Severity
engines are being used in Arizona, so just a heads up if you draw an
assignment out here.
||My commitments on the (rainy) East Coast are just
about done - and I'll be headed out to join up with
the crew soon. Hopefully by Tuesday I'll be digging
line with the boys again.
Hope to see some of you out there - I'll be the one
with the big smile on my face. An abbreviated fire
season is better than none, right?
Here are pictures of Ardco T-151; CDF S-2T T-73; and Neptune Aviation T-11,
all taken at Fox Field ATB, Lancaster CA.
Craig M. Happ
Thanks Craig. I put them on the AirTanker
7 photo page. Slowly but surely we're working on photos. Ab.
||Mellie, Mollysboy, L.A.V.E., and Renee,
ADs are not covered by many of the "special" rights most
firefighters have such as PSOB. In fact they are not covered by the average
rights granted nearly all other workers under the FFLSA (Federal Fair Labor
Standards Act) such as Unemployment Insurance. Justice Dept. lawyers have
successfully argued often that they are not even covered by Workmen's
The AD (Administratively Determined pay) firefighter positions are designed
to provide very cheap labor with very little liability to the Federal
Agencies involved in responding to EMERGENCY situations...usually wildfire
suppression. The main problem is that annual summer wildfires are not by any
stretch of the imagination "true emergencies". Legally and
grammatically an emergency is a "sudden and UNEXPECTED" situation.
While fire season may seem like an emergency to those "suddenly and
unexpectedly" experiencing it ...nationally it is pretty predictable.
Calling fire season an "emergency" is like calling winter an
Still...if the "Federal Employers" who use ADs informed
prospective ADs that they were not covered by the same benefits provided to
all the other firefighters they are surrounded by on a fire and they still
chose to take the risk.. I suppose it would be fair, honest, and above
board. The main problem is THEY USUALLY DON'T.
ADs usually discover they have made a deal with their Federal Employer which
leaves them and their families unusually exposed to risk personally only
when they need to apply for benefits. Legally this presents a major dilemma
since in order to be enforceable a contract must be "understood"
by both parties. If the employing party withholds or fails to provide
critical information, the contract is usually deemed void but would normally
leave the employer subject to, not only civil but criminal, litigation. Any
private fire contractor attempting this kind of dishonest practice would
usually find that the Federal Govt. is very intolerant of such shenanigans.
It seems however that Justice Dept. lawyers are more than willing to argue
that when Federal Agencies conduct themselves in such a manner it is
perfectly OK. And to try to fight the "Govt. Lawyers" with their
seeming endless resources is simply way beyond the financial ability of most
ADs (or their survivors). Justice Dept. lawyers are notorious for making
sure that lawyers foolish enough to represent such low income clients
generally don't make any profit from the actions.. even if they win. So it
is understandable that few ADs who may very well have a "good
case" are unable to find any legal representation to pursue it.
In all fairness I am sure that most of those working with and hiring ADs are
not aware that ADs work with no safety net. The normal response to an ADs
question "am I covered if hurt" is usually "of course you
are"...simply because any reasonable person would expect this to be
true. This unfortunately has little legal weight.
And it would take someone way higher in the Agencies than anyone who
"gets dirty" fighting fire to change the status quo which now
exists. ADs have always been treated like the "bastard children"
of the firefighting world...and I doubt that will ever change.
This came to my inbox today. Looks like some good information on
competitive sourcing to pass along on TheySaid. I'll leave it to your
cut-and-pasting expertise as to what to post.
ps, Thanks, Nerd. And, Mellie - I'm sorry for jumping on your post like
that, I'll remember my manners when you get to Colorado.
Ab note: This report will be posted later.
I loved your list on what to do if you are a dispatcher, contractor, etc. As
a dispatcher who had severity engines from F.S., B.L.M., Fish and Game,
N.P.S. and many contractors last year, I have to say that I wish I would of
had your lists. Out of all the engines I had trouble with one. That engine
happened to be a contract engine. But out of 50 engines to have one bad one
was pretty good odds. The rest of the engines, no matter what agency or
contractor they belonged to were very professional and were trusted to do
initial attack on any of our fires.
I do remember though the one engine who couldn't, and I won't risk anybody
on the forest so they can come back and try to prove us wrong about their
quals. They were a classic example of fire chasers. This year I met some
contract engines from NC and they were very professional with many years of
experience. They were having a hard time finding an assignment and were
called ambulance chasers and the like which they are not. I gave them
numbers to local dispatch centers and they got a fire assignment a couple of
hours later. You will be rewarded if you happen to get these fine men from
Asheville NC. Guys, I hope you read this and just to let you know, I heard
alot of compliments from your fire assignment in Colorado. Come back
||Casey, I have to take issue with a few of your statements regarding portal
The federal government has so much money, they could fund everything.
First of all, the government does not have money - it takes money from us,
the taxpayers, and redistributes it to provide for the common good. You may
have forgotten that temporarily, but I can bet most taxpayers will not.
Secondly, given that there is so much money, would you please explain why we
are running a huge deficit?
They could fund everything if they just reprioritized agency spending
habits, stopped losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year etc. and
stopped the incredible waste. Naive thinking at best. Do you really think
the entire government is going to reinvent itself to provide for portal to
Given the state of the economy, the enormous flow of money to overseas
operations, and the huge deficit-I would be very cautious about assuming
that people will want to add more to an already strained federal budget.
Heck, I'm cautious, and I personally like the idea of portal to portal! But
taking a blasé approach to funding requirements will undermine your message
and your credibility.
Ab, any agency estimates out there on portal to portal costs?
||Vollies vs paid??? Don't they get the same training, the same food, sleep
in the same dirt and wear the same colored clothes? And is there such a rift
on the fires that people are actually thinking "hey man he doesn't look
like he is paid, so I am gonna stand away from him" I bet not.
Around here, north west, the volunteer departments are the ones that respond
first and lately all the dept's,,,,I think 7 of them have been busting butts
and racking up thousands of those nasty volunteer hours to put out the small
fires before they turn into monsters. I think the thinking on this should
turn upside down and put the volunteers on top of the scale for atta boys.
After all they do the training and stay out all hours for FREE!!!!! And on
the other hand some people have to be paid to "help".........tsk,
I did think of "running for Governor of California" but I didn't
think that would work out -- kind of light in the campaign funding area.
I admit you are right, if I don't like the laws I should get dressed up and
go out and change them myself. I don't know if I'm the delectable type
though, you see I'm just a dumb ole boy from New Mexico. I did 18 ˝ years
on a volunteer fire department, I have spent 4 years at college and I know I
am still un-educated about many things... You know, my hat's off to you that
you can still go out on fire assignments. (cue the violin music) Now that I
have hung up my fire helmet I'm stuck behind a desk, pushing paper at a
non-fire, not very fun job, trying to earn a living. Every time the engine
goes by, I take two steps towards my truck to go to the firehouse, but I
catch myself, I don't do that any more. I got into the Volunteer Fire
Department to make a difference, to do something good, to give something of
myself, and to set an example for others. (cut the violin music)
You know and I know that bad stuff happens on the fire line, you think
you're in mop up mode and all of a sudden you're at the head of the fire.
Nothing is cut and dried. I have always tried to be safe, sometimes close to
the point of insubordination. You see, I learned to listen to that little
voice in my head, you know the one that makes the hair stand up on the back
of you neck, your throat go dry, and your bowels tighten up. If you've been
on numerous fires in your career, have you found yourself in the wrong place
at exactly the wrong time? Yes, I know the 10 & 18 & L.C.E.S., but
still the first few minutes on a fire are confusing and dangerous. You are
correct that you should take care of yourself and yours first, but things
happen, and they happen to good people as well as bad. When they happen,
they happen real fast, sometimes it's over before you know that anything is
going to or has happened.
I don't want to be a politician, in some ways I think I have paid my dues
and done my duty, more or less. I played some at politics when I was younger
and frankly it made my head hurt and my stomach churn. I don't really want
to do that again, I got no joy or sense of fulfillment out of it whatsoever.
Just between me and you, I rather take on a crow fire with a garden hose. I
guess you are right that I spout off, and you know what, you just had your
swipe at me and I can see your side of things too. But don't paint people
with too broad of a brush. I have a college education, but some of the
dumbest people I have ever met have all kinds of letters after their names,
have multiple degrees, and have held high office in the land. With respect,
we are all American, which means to me we can all shoot our mouth off
anytime we want, and that also means that you can shoot (figuratively
speaking) back at me. Well done!
P.S. Sounds as if we have the same haircut..
Just wanted to add a bit of fuel to the discussion on survivor
benefits that many people are not aware of. For those pilots and helitack
crews out there who think they ARE taking care of their families by
purchasing some type of "term" life insurance policy outside of
employer offers, be careful. I have heard from pretty good sources that
MOST of those policies have disclaimers that state (in very small print, of
course) that the insured is not covered if the death occurs while the
insured is acting in the capacity of an "aircrew member" (or
that effect). Apparently it is not difficult to get the clause amended,
but you have to ask the company to do it. Not sure that pilots would be
affected by this as the Insurance company would know that is what they do.
However, for Helitack Crewmembers who list their job as Forestry Tech. (or
similar), it won't be obvious to the company. Maybe some of the more
"legally knowledgeable" folks out there can enlighten us a bit
RS, important considerations. Whomever presented the insurance
information on the AT board discussed that very issue of disclaimers and the
insurance they described did not have those limitations. Coverage was much
more reasonable than I would have expected. Does anyone have that insurance
info? The AT message board does not have an archive. Ab.
I agree with your goal, but...
Your post of 8/12 suggested that folks - "first and foremost" -
forget about the cost of portal-to-portal. With California $40 billion in
the hole, the annual Federal budget $400 billion in the hole (and growing),
the agencies' fire budgets wiped out, and some 44 of the 50 State budgets
in dire straits, I don't think it is morally right to just forget about
cost. I assume your friends in Congress have asked what such a proposal
would cost, and I'm sure you have a good idea. You did not provide an
estimate of the cost of portal-to-portal, so I made my own estimate.
I made a very crude, 2-minute, back-of-the-envelope calculation based on
this morning's national sit report, portal-to-portal pay would cost an
additional $23 million over the next 10 days and if the situation
continues, about $69 million over the next month. That could easily
escalate to to $300 million over an average fire season and $several
billion over the next decade. This is starting to remind me of the famous
Everett Dirksen line about " A million here and a million there and
soon you're talking real money." My assumptions were that the
person identified in the sit report (11,250 of them) made $12/hour, that
the numbers in the sit report underestimated the number of folks involved
by 10% (to account for dispatchers, folks lost in ROSS, etc.), that each
shift averaged 12 hours, that the average engine had 3 folks, etc. You can
quibble with my method and my assumptions, but I don't think you can argue
that $69 million per month or several $billion over the next decade is
trivial. Even if the number is off by a factor of 2 or 3, it is a
significant amount of money. Frankly, I could easily argue that my
estimate is low because the national sit report doesn't include the number
of folks on initial attack, doesn't include "hidden" costs such as
of accident investigations and OWCP claims, this year is below average in
terms of starts and acres, etc.
Now, (whether or not the number is even close) if you agree that $XX
million per month is a lot of money, specifically where do you propose to
find it? Cut training? Don't get new airtankers? Cut back on the number
of shot crews? Use fuels treatment funds? Cut hourly wages in half?
Continue to dig the holes deeper? What? That is, if you propose
spending, you should also specifically indicate from whence the funding
should come. Unless the pie gets larger, in order for your slice to get
bigger - someone else's slice must get smaller. Who's pie would you like
||Casey Judd ...
Addressing some of your comments; First I would agree that you are painting
a COLORFUL picture to the legislature. Come on 100 MPH flames.... I don't
think so, go back to S-490 . Flames RACIING over head....Get a grip.
Contractors costing 3 to 5 times more ... Do some REAL math... How about a
yearly cost comparison. I agree that getting Fireman to stay in the business
is an issue. Often times for me it is the discriminatory view point like
yours that contribute to that problem. The issue of portal to portal should
not have the definition of FEDRAL to be considered. Are not ALL firemen on
the line worthy? Do they not ALL work hard, Sleep in the dirt and deserve
good pay. Yes it is a hard job, all or most who read this know that. What
about your thought about what the Fed firefighter thinks of his municipal
brother sleeping next to him getting 24 hour pay... Well if the plan goes as
you want, Now what will the State employee or the Private employee think
about his Federal brother in that situation.
This picture is a lead plane and tanker from the East Table Fire, on the
Bridger-Teton NF, July 13, 2003. The planes came in low, real low, could
almost see the whites on the pilot's eyes.
That's a nice one of Lead and AT. I put it on the AirTanker
7 photo page and here: Lead
Plane & AT. Ab.
||You can go to the following fire site to download a patch to protect you
from the worm for Windows 2000 or Windows XP:
||Thanks Casey Judd and FWFSA for your efforts on our behalf.
||As one who has worked for a number of years to educate congress on the
legislative needs, goals and objectives of our Nation's federal wildland
firefighters, I wanted to take this opportunity to address some of the
questions, comments and concerns about the recent legislation introduced on
Specifically, I would like to address the comments of Islander posted on
8-7-03 regarding being careful of what we ask for.
The concept/issue of portal-to-portal pay is nothing new. Firefighters and
agencies have been discussing it for two decades or more never coming to a
consensus as to what to implement, how to implement etc.
For years, the leadership of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Assn. (FWFSA)
has spent countless hours with me in Washington D.C. to develop language for
legislation that met the needs of our federal wildland firefighters and at
the same time was palatable to members of congress from both sides of the
I can attest to the vast number of meetings, phone calls etc. to staff from
congressional offices, committees and subcommittees as we sought to educate
them on who you are, what you do and what you need.
First and foremost...FORGET COST. The federal government has so much money,
they could fund everything...if they just reprioritized agency spending
habits, stopped losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year etc. and
stopped the incredible waste.
Secondly, we have addressed the cost matters with those who worked to craft
and introduce the bill. Look at the cosponsor list. You've got one of the
most fiscally conservative Republicans (Rep. Doolittle) on board.
We have marketed this legislation to suggest that it will do a number of
fiscally beneficial things for the taxpayers while giving you the benefits
you deserve that are way overdue.
It is clear that improvements in pay and benefits will attract more
firefighters who will STAY in the federal wildland fire service rather than
bail to municipalities. Thus recruitment and retention problems may be
reduced or eliminated.
Most importantly will be the reduced reliance on more expensive cooperators.
Some advice. The next time you are in the middle of nowhere for 3 weeks away
from your family, OFF THE CLOCK trying to sleep in a paper sleeping bag,
think about the fact that your boss, the federal Government is paying that
municipal firefighter right along side of you, their full 24 hours of pay
while taking you off the clock. Why do you think municipal firefighters are
so eager to go on such assignments? The $$$ is paid to them instead of you
by your boss.
This is not taking anything away from our municipal brothers and sisters. In
fact it was one of them at the recent (Aug 2002) International Asn. of Fire
Firefighters Convention that offered resolutions to once again pursue your
issues because they know of the unfairness and inequity of the situation.
Talk about money. Ever stop to think what a private contractor charges the
federal government for an engine crew? Compare that to the cost of a federal
wildland firefighting team being paid portal-to-portal...the feds are still
cheaper...often 3-5 times cheaper. Thus, cost-effectiveness to the federal
government and taxpayer. They get a larger, more diverse firefighting force
at less money and the firefighters get what they deserve.
We are committed to achieving these goals for you, your future, and that of
your family. At present, the FWFSA is the most active and effective advocate
for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters. It is vital that all of you
work with us to help reach these goals by becoming members of the FWFSA,
contacting your congressional representatives for their support on this
legislation and simply being pro-active as it relates to educating people of
the incredible work you do.
It is my hope that as this legislation works its way through congress, we
will get members of congress, the administration, and.. even extend an
invitation to Secretary Veneman to spend a few days on a fire line...utilize
some coyote tactics and enjoy flames racing across a highway at 100 MPH or
watching crowns explode overhead with no resources but hand tools and a
Through committee hearings, we have worked to paint a clear, colorful
picture of what you brave men and women endure throughout the fire season.
Do not lessen your impact to this Nation by suggesting you are not worth
these benefits or to suggest that you will price yourself out of a job.
Already, Congress is working to eliminate the FS plans on outsourcing, or at
the very least carve firefighting out of those plans. We have met with OPM
on classification issues as the vast majority of those out there want to be
classified as firefighters, NOT forestry technicians. Those talks will
I would be delighted to answer any questions or offer any information to any
of you on these issues. With all due respect to all firefighters, wildland
firefighters are a breed apart and face the most ferocious of fires and
environmental hazards. As such, you should be recognized and compensated for
doing so and I take a great deal of pride in leading the charge. Please feel
free to e-mail me or call me at 916-408-8934.
With Great Respect & Sincerity to all of you:
Federal Wildland Fire Service Assn.
The FWFSA link is above. Join up. As
Rudyard Kipling said years ago and we have often said here, "The
strength of the wolf is in the pack, The strength of the pack is in the
||I updated the Jobs
page. The Wildland Firefighter Series
0462 & Series
0455 have not been updated in a week. OPM changed their system and the
Abs are going to meet to decide how to handle the new system. It is far too
complicated to cut and paste as we did before. But OPMs search options are
better than before, kinda, if you know what you're looking for... Stay
As a fellow vollie, I applaud your points, but I’m not sure Mellie meant
any disrespect. I would like to add to your points, though, and suggest that
in our district at least, we’ve been called in a number of times by state
and federal agencies because all their resources had been called out region;
it was up to the vollies to stop the homefires burning, as it were. We
vollies may not all be Hotshot standard line-diggers, but we have the
advantages of being generalists; we’re fast, we’re flexible, we know our
territory very, very well, and we maybe the only ones home to put out the
baby dragons while everybody else is off on the high-glamour major ragers.
Nerd on the Fireline
Oh my, not just a chip, what a "log" on the shoulder! <laughing
uproariously> <rolling on floor> Sorry Ijust can't help myself!
<tears streaming down face> OK, I'll shape up here andsee if I can get
my hysterically laughingfingers to type...
Obviously you haven't read what I've written in here over the last 4 years
(let alone what I've written locally to raise funding for vollies in
northern CA)! Maybe the next time I'm in Colorado I will have to
"visit" you and set you straight in person! Believe me, I have
done a surprise "home visit" to many a theysaider! I'll excuse you
this time. That's all I will say. <heh><heh>
OK, Regarding PSOB: Does anyone know the Federal LAW?
I thought ADs and vollies were covered, but AirTanker pilots/crew,
helicopter personnel, contract crews, other non-AD hires were not... Maybe
I'm wrong. It would be good to review the actual LAW to know whether this is
just a matter of setting some bureaucrat straight or deciding if we want to
Mollysboy, do you know the LAW that applies? If so, where we can read it?
Wonder if Hugh is off on some fire or other. Seems he would know... Until we
know what the LAW says, we're just pissin in the breeze, aren't we?
Mellie <still chortling under her breath>
||FACT Airtanker Pilots do not receive PSOB Benefits.
FACT a 20 YR career as a airtanker pilot you have only a 50/50 chance of
I only HOPE that my family will be taken care of.
CDF Airtanker Pilot
CDF AT Pilot, please, please make a plan for your family. Jim Barnes or
someone on the AT Pilots Board sometime last winter laid out insurance
options available to AT pilots and crew. We all need to do our best to
mitigate the worst possible scenario to protect our families, hoping it will
not happen that way. PSOB legislation for AT pilots and crew may come too
late for some. Better to be prepared while working toward that goal. Ab.
Ok, I'll bite on this one.
-- Mellie wrote: "It seems that if vollies are covered, ADs should
I guess I shouldn't get my hackles up too much, but that comment suggests an
opinion of volunteer firefighters being just marginally deserving of a
federal LODD benefit as public safety officers. How ridiculous. VFD's are
the original "all-risk" teams that get called to solve all sorts
of emergency problems of the public we serve.
And even if you limit the discussion to just wildland fires, the agencies
are so proud of the 97% success figure of 63,000 wildfire starts last year
getting caught in initial attack. How many hundreds of thousands of
wildfires did volunteer departments jump on that never even got reported to
an interagency dispatch office? We don't happen to be in it for a paycheck,
we're there because we care that much for our community.
I feel sorry for the families of sawyers and pilots who have been denied
benefits, but please don't build their case by saying volunteers are
unworthy of PSOB.
||L.A.V.E.: reading your thoughts about the lack of mortality payments to
AD's under the Public Safety Officer's Benefit Program, it struck me that
maybe turn-around might be "Fair Play" in this case? You recommend
that we take the lawyers, judges and bureaucrats.....put them in PPE.....and
dump their college educated posteriors on the fireline......".
How about we drag your un-educated posterior off the fireline, put you in a
3-piece suit and necktie, and send you back to the halls of Congress to try
and be a positive influence to change the rules?
Last time I looked, the Laws were passed by folks we elected, and the judges
were appointed by those folks, too! Don't like the results? Convince the
voters that your cause matters to them, and elect someone who agrees with
My college-educated posterior has been on the fireline since 1964, and I
still go out as an AD Ops Chief and Safety Officer, knowing that if I get
killed, my heirs get nothing except for the life insurance I provide for
them. Don't we have some individual responsibility to care for our loved
ones when we take on "....the most dangerous job outside of the
One last point: I strongly disagree with the old, worn concept that fighting
wildfires is " the moral equivalent of war": in very few occasions
do we ever protect people's lives. Usually, we're trying to stop the fire's
spread in a variety of fuel types (grass, brush, timber, structures), all of
which "grow back" again in a few short years. Seen the pictures of
what Storm King Mountain looks like these days? How about the Oakland hills?
Worth dying for??? Not for this old grey-haired and balding guy!
Hmmmm, L.A.V.E. is as "educated" as you are, Mollysboy. You may
even have known each other in college. Ab.
Some more ideas for how to get training…you might check around with your
local vollie departments…my department is paying my EMT and HazMat, and I
know departments in my area lose a lot of people in the winter to ski patrol
jobs (the pay’s better ski patrolling). With your experience, I imagine
lots of departments would be willing to dangle training-carrots in front of
nose to have you on with them.
Nerd on the Fireline
||Strange that PSOB were not allowed for Wyatt, they listed him as one
of the fatalities due to firefighting assignment on
||To NorCal Tom and Socal CDF and to anyone else.
Does it seem strange or even hypocritical to have the LP put in the 209
that there are not enough Type 1 crews available? I know of plenty of
CDF crews available and even if they only wanted Hotshot crews (we know
that's what they really meant) there are 4 Hot Shot crews up on BDF
doing beetle kill work who were available. So why the lie? So much for
They didn't say there were not enough available, they just said they were
ordering some. The line says "Critical Resource Needs (kind &
amount, in priority order)".
Beyond that, if CDF crews aren't ordered, well, sometimes there are resource
considerations that we don't know about, like CDF costs too much. Sometimes
the feds order "feds only", but on the flip side, sometimes CDF
orders "state only". Everyone needs to pay their own bills and
that plays into the mix. Not a matter of lack of interagency cooperation,
simply a reality that both feds and state are charged with "fiscal
||In case people have missed the first few showings of CNN Presents, here is
another opportunity to view them.
FYI, CNN will re-air "Summer of Fire" -- the documentary
about the 2002
fire season -- this coming Sunday.
Sunday, August 17, 8 & 11 pm ET and again at 2 am ET.
Saturday, August 23rd at 8 pm ET.
The website is still up and running at
Craig Duff, Producer
Glad I was helpful and ya I have been around the block more than once or
twice. You have made a good decision to get the GED and return to the
community college. While you're there take the wildland classes and if the
dollars and time allow, get your EMT and HazMat FR at the same time. That
will greatly increase your chances of getting hired by an agency.
an old dirtthrower
Yeah, some good advice, dirtthrower. Agencies are indeed looking for
those willing to educate themselves. Fighting fire and moving up in the
profession involves writing, critical thinking, and knowledge of technology,
including computer skills. If you're looking for more training that may not
be provided by your agency, check our 2
and 4 year schools list. (If you know of any others, send in the link.)
For those of you in California, you might also check the ROP
(Regional Occupational Program) offerings. One of the Abs just updated the
contact information. Some programs have EMT and other offerings in
conjunction with a community college. Ab.
||Our big-wig up at NIFC tells us that they are predicting wind later this
week and are, thus, expecting a bunch of blow-ups. Heads up people.
Play it safe, and take care!
||Renee and all,
It just frosts my cake when these NON-fire types sit in judgment on
personnel who are killed on a fire, protecting people, places and things.
While these judicial wizards sit some where safe and clean and have never
spent one second on a fire line doing any kind of work, be it cut line, hump
hose, drive a dozer, you name it. It's about the most dangerous work outside
of the military. That's what fighting fire is a war with a crafty, wily,
deadly foe that does not recognize a white flag of surrender. I say we take
the lawyers, judges, and bureaucrats and put them in P.P.E.'s and dump their
college educated posteriors on the fire line and set them to work. See how
loudly they would squeal! Well enough venting.
For all the guys and gals heading out for the burns up north watch out and
don't let the dragon catch you.
It seems that if vollies are covered, ADs should be. My friend Karen
who died on a Redding wildfire in 1999 was a volunteer. Her family
received benefits. Is there a "bible" that lays out PSOB coverage?
should be educated on this issue.
Is the issue that he was a faller and not a firefighter in their eyes? I
get it? Can we call the family's congressional reps and bend an ear or
||Ab, this is for Norcal Tom from the 209 released at 1 AM:
Fire is called the Del Venturi Fire, started yesterday 5:22 PM near King
City/Fort Hunter Liggett. Reported at 700 acres 50% contained at 1AM this
morning. Growth potential is high and difficulty of terrain is extreme.
Major concerns: Heavy Brush/Dry conditions/Steep and Rugged Terrain and Lack
of Resources/Rapid rate of spread.
Fuels/Materials Involved: 4 Chaparral (6 Feet). Heavy brush and grass.
Watershed values are at risk.
Today's observed fire behavior was extreme with a rapid rate of spread and a
lot of spotting.
Projected incident movement/spread during next operational period: The worst
is still to come. Constructing handline in heavy brush and steep terrain.
Resources: 1 Type 1 crew, 2 Type 2 crews; 1 heavy helo, 12 engines, 1 dozer
2 watertenders, 7 overhead; 141 personnel in all, mostly FS.
Fort Hunter Liggett Fire Department is helping out.
They ordered Type 1 Hand Crews, DIVS, and Type 3 Engines.
Weather predicted today: Wind Speed: 10 mph; Temperature: 90's; Wind
Direction: east; RH: 25%
Thats about it.
||Does anyone have details on the fire on the LP? I'm not near
my usual resources to ask them.
Thanks for the advice. At the end of this season I will be taking the test
and getting a GED cert. Then I will be attending Umpqua Community College in
Roseburg, Or to obtain some Fire sciences classes before the start of the
2004 season. I don't know how long you've been in fire, But you sound like
you have some valued knowledge.
Again, Thank you.
||Two more memorials to add to the list:
Lancaster, CA, Angeles NF
Elizabeth Lake Fire Memorial for Gilbert Lopez, Green Valley Engine Foreman
who was trapped by fast moving brush fire near Elizabeth Lake trying to save
his engine crew on the Elizabeth Fire ANF 1981. Memorial is located in a
Penny Pines Plantation. Green Valley Fire Station, Green Valley area, near
Santa Clarita / Lancaster CA Angeles National Forest.
Lake Elsinore, CA, Cleveland NF
Decker Fire Memorial is located in Riverside Co. at 32353 Ortega Hwy, Lake
Elsinore (El Cariso Village), CA 92530 . The Decker Fire (1959), as my
memory serves, killed members of the El Cariso H.S., El Cariso Engine, a
District Ranger, and a CDF firefighter.
Link to news article on fire and memorial: www.nctimes.net
We'll get Pulaski to add 'em. Thanks. Ab.
Alan Wyatt died on the Missionary Ridge fire in Colorado last year. He was a
sawyer from Oregon. He was in firefighting at least 15 years. Alan's Wife
and Daughter are here in our office today.
We wanted to share with the firefighting community that Alan Wyatt's PSOB's
had been denied to his widow. The department of Justice does not understand
what a sawyer has to do with Wildland Firefighting.
The quote from the department of Justice was "He was not authorized to
engage in wildland fire suppression activities." They acknowledge that
he was a AD-5 casual hire and that he was hired by the San Juan National
I hope this inflames you as much as it did us.
What can we as a community do to help with information for this widow and
the future widows who will be up against this same issue?
It does seem very unfair that people die on fires and their families
suffer economic hardship. Hugh, is your organization addressing this issue
of providing for families of AD casual hires? Ab.
||Ab thanks for the site - has been an incredibly busy year. - be safe all
John Locke - we recently brought some Australian firefighters to fight fires
in the us. It is an incredibly complex process requiring coordinating of
several government agencies.
Identify an employer - a prospect of employment wont work, you have to have
a sponsor to obtain a work visa.
They (the Employer) fills out INS form I-129 along with payment, and all the
other required info
Depending on where you work, it will take 4- 6 months to gain approval for a
Bug the INS, State department, and Labor until you get what you need done.
It is a long, and paperwork filled route. We started in March for a
contingent of Australians to come and are still working on the process.
Good luck, I suggest you go to www.BCIS.gov
they explain a lot of it all there.
||To the high school youngster took a bunch of nice photos of a fire that
was IAed by CDF in the early summer. I lost your message but not your photos
that I was working on when my computer mail crashed several weeks ago. I've
posted one of your pics on the Fire
18 photo page. I have some more ready to post.
Hey, kiddo, if you're reading here, please resend me the info on them.
I love the pictures on your site, but I couldnt find any from Nevada! Here
is one that I took of the Sheep Creek Incident outside of Battle Mountain in
Nice column. I put it on the Fire
18 photo page. Ab.
||Here is a photo that I took after doing a back burn in Iowa.
I put it on the Fire
17 photo page. Ab.
||Women in Smokejumping
well i missed it does anybody know when it will be replayed?
||Just a word out to folks…it may be hotting up big up north, but the
not over in the Southwest just yet…killed off three baby dragons in
this weekend and no end in sight. Heads up and be safe.
Nerd on the Fireline
P.S. Does anybody have a number for a maximum slope angle it’s safe to
fire on? Are there regs out there on that?
||the docu "Women Smokejumpers" was good, the companion docu
filmed on scene during the 2000 fires in MT was more informative to address
many questions asked in the Family Said forum - hope no one missed it. I,
for one, have requested it be re-aired, after first snow. If it is repeated,
you will have an opportunity to discuss issues with your stay at home
friends and family when you are rested & not chasing smokes.
From what was posted in They Said at last check, sure hope this isn't a
repeat of the MT 2000 fire season...especially with no military personnel in
reserve/available this year. R5 has is a powder keg too!
Prayers for our FFs and all the support ppl who are busting their butts.
guys and gals on the fireline will have a busy season - best wishes for big
pay checks and a safe return home!!!!!!
To the guys recuperating from recent injuries, heal quickly! post to this
site we want to hear from you!
Dave dirt-thrower was partly right. lots of folk out there without a diploma
with years of fire experience working for the Govt as a wildland FF. you may
be able to still find a job as a hotshot or maybe a faller, maybe an
equipment operator or ?? (someone jump in with details)
bottom line, what is that going to provide for you in the long run? where
are your health benefits, retirement, etc? what skills do you have to fall
back on if you can no longer do the ground pound? take the GED ASAP if you
cannot obtain a HS diploma. on off hours hone your speaking and reading
comprehension skills to better articulate in a job interview
situation...same as you prepare tools for fire IA now. who is going to
prepare your job application or resume properly? no offense intended.
lots of FFs returning to college; read the links provided here - some
forests are hiring again because of attrition fire doesn't stop when school
to all out there in the red-hot dragon's playground, BE SAFE!
PS another check went off to Wildland Firefighter Foundation 2 months ago; I
wear their older "lapel" pin year round (even on a t-shirt). like
Ab said to someone, I'm digging deeper this year - will send another check
next pay day.
||Back to Planning Level 5 today 8/11
||We in the Missoula area owe a deep dept of gratitude to all the aviators
(air tanker folks, helicopter crews, jumpers, lead planes, air attacks,
tanker base and support folks) who worked themselves to their limits today
to deal with the umpteen large fires around Missoula. At 2130 tonight I just
watched the last of the air crews, a P2V tanker followed by the air attack,
return to MSO.
And, of course, let's not forget to thank those firefighters who also worked
their butts off today in nearly record heat! This has really become ugly
around here today. We all should pray for everybody's continued safety.
Teams and crews come ready for extreme fire behavior.
This wildland fire situation will be with us for a while. See:
for the prognosis.
We will need more help. Everybody be ready and stay safe!
||"Big Sky Country" is rapidly becoming "Big Smoke
Country". Lots of fires taking off in western Montana after Friday
night's dry lightning storm, including one about 2 air miles from home in
the Blue Mountains just southwest of Missoula. Others burning all around the
area, and on the Clearwater NF in Idaho that's pouring lots of smoke over
the Bitterroot Range into the Valley.
Sitting out on the patio tonight, Moose Drool in hand, watching 8 Air
Tankers rotating in and out of MSO A/T base.
Several T-2 IMT's in-bound, and no moisture in sight for the rest of the
week; dropping to 93F tomorrow . Elk and Mule Deer habitat improvement in
||MS-NBC: National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, "Women in
probably starting now on the west coast.
The schedule here in the east showed it lasting 2 hours, but the program on
women Smokejumpers only lasted 1 hour, followed by a program on tsunamis.
The program: MSNBC Investigates which is following at 10:00pm EDT is about
wildfires, so maybe just stop the recorder for an hour and start it back up
then. . .
We got Tsunamis at 6, now on Wildfires - started at 7, then on
Smokejumpers at 8. If you click on the link I provided below, you'll see the
schedule if you want to tape it. Ab.
You sound like you have some good experience and quals. But if you really
think you will get a job with an agency without a HS or GED cert., you can
forget it. Sorry, no meanness intended but the day of the uneducated FF is
long gone. It is a requirement for even the lowest paid agency job and there
are alot of folks who apply with the same experience and alot more education
than you. Put yourself int he position of the person that's hiring and think
about it. Either stay with your contractor or get your GED and improve
An old dirtthrower
||Don't forget the MSNBC Smokejumper special tonight 8 PM
MS-NBC: National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, "Women in
For the schedule, check MSNBC.
Turn in on at 7 for Wildfires and then watch the smokejumper special. Ab.
Your overview of National Contract and Regional Engines is pretty
ridiculous. The bar was raised considerably for the National Contract over
most Regional specifications. You recite what contractors/employees/agency
personnel should do but let's talk about the lack of commitment from the
government to live up to their end of the "bargain". As a National
& Regional Contractor that has lived up to all the standards and then
some, worked our "arses" off in the field to do better than the
rest, work hard to get excellent performance ratings, build an excellent
reputation, to get passed over time & time again this summer for
"agency only" interpreted orders po's me to no end!!!!
What do you think you are going to get when the almighty $$$ is talking? You
ain't going to get quality for nothin', you can ask all you want, some idiot
might try to undercut the "good stuff" for awhile but you won't
see them around for the long haul.
||Hi Ab and others,
Not sure is anyone has seen this article from the Idaho Statesman about the
Indianola Rappellers - it does offer some insight to what happened.
(Although we must wait for the official report). Curious how the Cramer fire
is adjacent to the 1985 Butte Fire. This is the fire that is on the old fire
shelter video. The one where the firefighter says, "When I die I am
going to heaven, cause I have already been to hell". I think it is
worth a read. I particularly like some of the editorial on wildland
firefighting policies. These are the questions we must address in the big
picture of wildland fire management. Lets keep trying to do better, stay
safe out there everyone.
I'm a FF/COR for the BLM and just wanted to thank you for that great
list of dos and donts -- a reliable, trustworthy, hard working
contractor sure makes my job (and life) a helluva lot more enjoyable
(and I'm sure theirs too). People like you give contractors a good
name -- keep it up!
Everett Community College www.evcc.ctc.edu/
Bellevue Community College www.bcc.ctc.edu/
Edmonds Community College www.edcc.edu/
Greetings! Just wanted to give you some colleges to add for Washington
State, total of three community colleges.
Everett Community College in Everett offers Fire Science, Edmonds Community
College in Lynnwood offers Fire Command, and Bellevue Community College in
Bellevue offers both along with Fire Investigation. I know you are busy this
time of year, just wanted to let you know while I was perusing the
site(otherwise I would never get around to it). Thank you!
Shane Nelson FF/PM
Snohomish County Fire District #8
P.S. Great website....
Thanks Shane, I added them to the list of 2
and 4 year fire science and fire ecology schools. Ab.
Last season was my first ever out on the line, but boy did I get fire in my
blood in a big way!
At the end of the season I went to my doctor because some health issues that
had been nagging at me over the years had suddenly flared to almost
unmanageable levels. With only a few tests I was diagnosed with a disease
that I was told would kill me if I kept up with working fire. So with that
in mind I didn't prepare for the fire line...didn't apply...and sat in the
corner pouting, I had even turned down the fire job of a lifetime because my
doctor had scared the bezezus out of me.
Late this spring I found out (through research and persistence of my own)
that the doc was way off track...but still the damage was done and I wasn't
going to be going anywhere this season. I thought I was going to be ok with
it but every time I would see a fire rig heading down the road or would see
anything about fires locally my heart would sink. Then I realized
something....getting back out there is UP TO ME. So I got out my weighted
pack (pulled out a few pounds...need to take baby steps so I don't hurt
myself) and started back at it. I registered for some classes (Topo maps,
EMT...etc) at the local college and even have been and am currently taking
some on-line classes from FEMA. Now when I think about what I
"should" be doing at this very moment I pick it up a notch so I
can get there....and I know that hey I may not even get there this coming
season but I WILL GET BACK OUT THERE!!
||What chances would a 40 year old Limey have?
I came straight from your web site, well composed & a lot of thought
given to its purpose & intended target audience.
I know that America & Canada have been suffering from some terrible wild
fires recently, as we get much news feed in the Uk about these things from
I admit that my present employment during the non -peak season months (Xmas
week) is low & I can find that shifts become sketchy to say the least
for work, when I can be told 15 mins before they start, sorry mate, we have
enough workers for that shift & get sent home without pay or
I would therefore like to broaden my social horizons & life experiences
& try my hand at wild fire fighting next summer. However, being British
I foresee that Uncle Sam might have some considerable problems accepting
that one at face value! However, an American lady has politely suggested to
me that Canada might accept me more readily, as they have less strict rules
about such things & could adapt to allowing a keen worker into their
I know that the pay is not great (nothing new in that for me!), the hours
might prove to be longer than I have worked in the past, but the hard work
brings it own rewards & job satisfaction has a more intense meaning to
those that contain & put out such fires.
Could you advise as to what I should be considering & the best course of
action ( perhaps I could get a little fitter than I am at present, but when
I do work I get paid to virtually pump iron for 8 hrs & have to burn
calories to stay warm (I work at minus 2 degrees Celsuis in a chilled food
distribution warehouse). So I've been a lot fitter in these past few years,
than in a a long time!
I would be grateful for any advice or other contacts that have done
something very similar to me, to find out what problems they might have
experienced in getting started.
I am also informed by my American lady contact, that many people would
respect me for having made the effort to do that & I would be sincerely
welcomed in many communities for such role that I would be doing (generally
people would not diss me as another outsider).
There's a Wildland Fire Use Fire burning on the Sequoia NF, started
by lightning when we had those busts the end of last month. So far its
a low fire, for the most part.
||Anyone got any good Web sites for active lightning maps that are
accessible for free?
I looked at Intellicast, AccuWeather and LightningStorm.com
Any others you folks know about that show close to "real time"
||Anyone got any information on the small fire near Ramshaw Meadow? It's
about 10-15 mi S of Mt Whitney. I think there's another fire in the
Sure would appreciate any information on those two.
At the moment I work for a private contractor as I don't have a HS diploma
GED. I have 5 seasons in the field, I'm a FFT1/Squadboss/Class A faller, And
have first aid CPR certification. How Easy would it be to get an agency job,
with the FS? Let me Know I come to this site often.
||Kudos to the person doing the research on Memorials - it's a noble cause.
However I have one thing to suggest when discussing the "memorial"
at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).
When it was decided in 1995 to establish a site that honored wildland
firefighters at NIFC - there was some pretty clear direction given that it
was to be a Monument, and not a "memorial". The primary reason was
that there were many fire memorials already out there, yet there wasn't an
area that was formally dedicated to living wildland firefighters, including
their support personnel. So a Directors' level decision was made to call the
NIFC site the "Wildland Firefighters Monument." And its
credo was: "Honoring wildland firefighters and the people who
support them: past, present and future" - and to this day it
The NIFC Monument was a gift of love - from the fire community to the fire
community. Vicki Minor, then a commissary contractor, and now President of
the Wildland Firefighter Foundation generously got the monument started.
After the 1994 fire season in which 34 lives were lost - Vicki donated her
earnings for a higher calling. With a very generous donation, the seeds were
planted to bring a "Monument" concept to fruition. And over time -
through generous donations of time, materials, labor and corporate donations
- the Monument came to be what it is today.
The NIFC monument celebrates life, as well as it commemorates death. It was
designed to signify life's regeneration through its living landscape - a
perma-culture that represents many of the natural fuel types firefighters
find in the higher elevations of the Great Basin. It symbolizes the wildfire
elements that firefighters deal with everyday via the juxtaposition of the
water running through its waterfall, to the bronze statues frozen in time as
sentinels on watch - always ready for future firefights. The ribbon shaped
path comes alive each Spring as a living blue ribbon hued by the blooms of
native, blue wildflowers. And from the air it is truly a "ribbon of
life" along the path of honor.
The NIFC Monument truly stands as a powerful place of healing. Many
families, friends, and coworkers have healed while standing on its trail,
and leave the site spirit filled with a sense of peace. Miracles happen
there every day - some too personal to share in this message but sure enough
carried by lore and heartfelt conversation. When the Monument was dedicated
it was blessed on the theme of it being "common ground." And
today, it remains just so. The great equalizer for what once was and what
will come. To have a memorial, you must have a past - to have a Monument -
you have a grasp at the future. Hence the name.
For those of you who are not aware, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation,
another "miracle" borne of the Monument - is always there to help
those who fall on the firelines and who can't get back up. It assists
families, friends, and those hearts of the living who need a hand when
injuries happen. And it is a friend to the lost when a friend can not be
found through good times and bad. The Foundation would never ask but I will.
The Foundation needs your help. The foundation gives all that it
takes in to people like you and me - and its time to help them out. Bring up
the Wildland Firefighter
Foundation website the next time you are on your computer. Give of
yourself to help the others: those who have served in the past, those who
serve now, and those we will need tomorrow. The Monument - Godwilling, it
will always be there. Let's help the Foundation.
Give what you can. The next miracle may be yours.
-- Ghostload --
Ghostload, thanks for writing in. I have been wondering about the
finances of the Foundation as they have been needed this year... 5 deaths in
4 days. I was concerned for the supporters at the Foundation as well as for
the families and friends.
Readers, please take a moment and write a check $10, $25, $50, $100 or more,
whatever you can afford, to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and snail-mail
it to the address below. It's tax deductible. (Or if you must, go to the
website and donate by
credit card. Click on "Yes, I want to help." Some of the money
goes to paypal when donated this way, but sometimes the convenience for
donors is worth it. The Foundation needs your help.)
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
3880 S. Development Ave
Boise, Idaho 83705
(208)336-2996; Fax (208)336-2995
Last year at the end of fire season the Foundation's funds were depleted.
Many families had been assisted financially following deaths of their loved
ones. It's scary to face a new fire season without sufficient funds to help
those who may need it. We ALL need to support this service the Foundation
performs for our extended fire family. It serves INTERAGENCY wildland
firefighters! Break out your checkbooks (or credit cards) and give
generously! A few bucks from you and me gets leveraged into a gift beyond
words for our fire families who need it. Vicki, Renee and others who
provide this service -- Thank you SO MUCH! -- Ab.
||Ab - tonight on the NBC Nightly News, correspondent Fred Francis will be
interviewing Smokejumper Lori Messenger from Missoula. The news spot will
be a tickler for the cable television documentary that will air this
Sunday, August 10 on the cable channel MS-NBC. The documentary is about,
you guessed it!: "Women Smokejumpers!" Folks should check their
listings as it will listed as a National Geographic Ultimate Explorer
episode. Right now it's scheduled for 8 p.m. est, / 6 p.m. mst time / 5
p.m. pst - however as things change - CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS:
MS-NBC: National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, "Women in
Tune in and discover what a real "no 'man'ner" fire is all about!
MS-NBC has a website for those that can search the Web and it has a
feature with the women of
missoula and Lisa Loo.
Been about a year since I wrote or advertised here. I thought I would share
some thoughts on the contract engine agreements.
National vs Regional Contractors - Not all national engine contractors are
good, nor are all regional contractors good. One is not above the other
simply because they went through an extra hoop. I have heard many complaints
from FMOs of national engines in our host unit, in fact some fed people will
not even use these resources because of the lack in quality. I have even
heard a rumor that because the ordering office must use up national engines
before they get to their local regional engines that they would rather use
agency resources from adjoining agencies and fire departments first... could
be a rumor.
But take my position: we have one type 6 engine (brand new) have been
with our local dispatch for several years developing a great professional
relationship. Our engine is better equipped then any of the national engines
(1000' extra 1.5" hose, 1500 snap tank, Mark 3, Two Large CI Saws with
contract approved fallers, mobile radio, GPS Mapping, drip torches w-fuel,
etc...), is approximately $500 less per shift then the national engines,
our crew is very familiar with the area, and we have a strong working
relationship with the local agencies. Now move in engine crews from out of
the area that are more expensive, generally less experienced (my
observation), have no idea were anything is, have less equipment, and no
working relationship with the agencies and then ask that these resources
have preference regardless of price or quality over regional? Gimme a
break! The FEDs are costing themselves more money and getting less bang for
I have been asked many times why I dont put more resources together and go
after the national contract in 3 years. My answer has not changed, I can
not hire enough "qualified" people to put together a engine that
my standards for quality. I have placed ads in the past and have received
over 100 applications. Out of this 100 I have received 2 people that would
really qualify for ENGB, both went back to work for the agencies (go
I know that there are alot of swindlers out there. I see them on every fire.
They spend 1/4 of time fixing equipment, 1/4 time stealing govt
equipment, 1/4 time resting under a tree (usually a snag), and the other
1/4 inefficiently working or creating rework. I have even seen some
individuals that could not support standing with a 45 pound pac let alone
walk one 3 miles in 45 minutes. I would agree that these are more prevalent
problems amongst regional engines then national engines.
Could some of these problems have caused us contractors to be sitting at
home? You bet. I think the agencies are tired of the bull that comes with
some of the contractors.
What is the solution?
If you are a contractor:
1) Make sure your crew is qualified (especially physically!!)
2) Do not send junk to the fire line, get serious or get out!
3) Make sure you meet the standards of the contract, just because you got
through inspection doesnt mean it is not important! (I have scene numerous
engines not even able to draft!)
4) Make sure your crew knows if they steal, not only will you turn them
into the police you will also cut off their hands.
5) Make sure your crew is performing. If they get back to camp and dont
chow, shower, and rush to the sac then they are not working hard enough.
6) Be polite and professional at all times!!
7) Make it a mission to outperform & outequip agency engines!
If you are an employee to a contractor:
1) If your employer fails any of the above make sure it is fixed.
2) If you see your boss stealing from the agencies turn him in!! He is
stealing from US!
3) Make sure your crew meets the qualifications for the positions, ask
4) Work you arse off... Build line in circles of others, mop up and ask to
play through, keep in top shape!
5) There are lots of good contractors out there, dont work for the bad ones
or you will learn bad habits!
If you are a host unit
1) Request performance evaluations from resources returning from fireline.
2) Use the outperformers first!
3) Work with contracting officer to make changes to the contract before the
If you are a contracting officer
1) Listen to agency personnel about the performance of these resources.
2) Give the host unit more flexibility in dispatching resources.
3) Change the R6 Contract. Reinstate the point system, add classifications
for tier 1, tier 2 engines based on performance & shape of equipment.
let apples compete against apples and the peaches go moldy!!
These is are alot of my personal thoughts on contract engines. Take it for
its worth. I appreciate your feedback and comments. How do you think the
engine contract could be changed to better serve our customers?
Son came home a couple of weeks ago, and it was the height of my pleasure to
spend three uninterrupted hours (1-3 a.m.) with him talking fire and ICS and
such. He said, "You'd love it out there. Take a class and come on out
I am honored that he would think me capable of doing the kind of work he
every season, and more honored to get his invitation. And, he's right--I
would love it! For now, anyway, other priorities abound.
For those of you who have Hotshots working the West, here's a site that
the status of Type I crews . www.blm.gov/utah/egbcc/
||Regardless which western state you are in (not state of confusion, please)
this post was a wake up call to any FF out there waiting for the next
"Fire season is very extreme this year keep your wits about you and
on the weather read over the radio and call of "spots"!!!
A fire started yesterday, 8/5 in Eastern Idaho, at 0200 this morning 200
acres. Estimate control at noon... they called for a spot and weather said
"...winds at 5-10 in morning increasing to 15-20 with gusts to 25... RH
Well, estimated size at 2100 8/6, 23,000 acres with a Type II team on
BE SAFETY WISE, PPL!
||OFG, thanks for your reply....
I too appreciate the ability to discuss the issues of wildland firefighters
on this site. I apologize if I had given the impression of your choosing
sides.... That was not my intent. I have read your posts over the years as
you have read mine. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't. The best
thing is the discussion of facts and the learning that all of us can give
each other and the information exchange for current events.... the beer
wagering is just a bonus!!!
Maybe someday when we are all retired and senile, Ab can arrange for us all
to get together and settle up for all those beer debts.... maybe even get
into some lively discussions.... maybe even some more wagers...this time for
geritol..... time will tell.... Thanks again for the site Ab....
Sounds like a plan. Ab.
||The Factual Report on the Rick Lupe fatality on the Fort Apache Agency in
Arizona is on the Web at www.wildfirelessons.net/Library/Incident_Reviews/Fatalities/Sawtooth.pdf
(5983 K, very large, 106 pages)
Ab note: gone from that location. I saved it here:
||Be careful what you wish for! I can think of no better way to ensure that
your job will get outsourced than getting portal-to-portal pay. All of a
sudden you will go from "everybody's hero" to a "greedy
living off the fat of our taxes public employee" very quickly.
Let's face it, cost does matter. I can attest to that. As much talk about
shortages of overhead as there may be, I have been told that I am "too
expensive" to dispatch (as an overhead-qualified local district brass)
even though I don't get portal-to-portal pay.
The cost-cutting will continue with the current federal government's pro-big
business approach and the state's current deficits. Don't price yourself out
of a job!
||ASHEVILLE INTERAGENCY HOTSHOT CREW TRAINING OPPORTUNITY
NATIONAL FORESTS IN NORTH CAROLINA
We'll see if we can get the web site right.
Down in page under training
Hotshot Training Announcement & Application
File is PDF so may take some time to open.
I'm still not sure what to think of the portal-to-portal pay issue, but I
can think of another one that I've never seen addressed: People outside of
fire careers in the Forest Service who respond in various fire positions can
spend a lot of time, and sometimes even money, on-call. I was single, with a
fairly long California commute during my prime fire-responding years, which
meant I had to leave my home every day during fire season with the
assumption that I might not be back for a few weeks. This was especially
true when word came down from on high to make as many people available for
fire as possible. I was proud to work for a district that had an excellent
reputation for filling orders, but it seemed like we fire-goers had a lot
more to do than those in the agency who could count on being home at night
and doing their regular jobs the next day.
Still out there as an AD
||Hi Ab, when I last checked a couple days ago you did not have this
memorial. This is the info I have from the photo that I took a couple
The fallen firefighter memorial is for 3 men who died on the Cart Creek
Fire July 16, 1977--Gene Campbell, Dave Noel, Dwight Hodgkinson. According
to the sign, they were burned over. The memorial is on the Ashley NF, in
a campground not far from the Flaming Gorge visitor information center.
Maybe someone on the Ashley can can provide further details. The memorial
is very close to the 1988 Green River fire.
Thanks, Old Dispatcher. We have a helper now -- Pulaski -- who is
organizing the memorials by state, and he's gathering more info on them
where he can. That's Utah/Wyoming, right? I'll make sure he gets this. Do
you have a photo? Ab.
I have been working on memorial sites and photos as time has warranted. The
email below came in from TC quite a while back along with photos of the
Rattlesnake Fire Memorial. I put the memorial info on the Memorials
page and posted the photos on the Miscellaneous
2 photo page, then forgot. Also posted some Prineville memorial pics
from Pulaski there. Some of the photos are not posted on photo pages, just
linked from the memorials page. We will probably make a memorial photo page
separate from miscellaneous photos of these days. Thanks for all the
contributions of information and photos. Thanks for your patience,
contributors. Any more NON-Western memorials that folks know of?
Rattlesnake Fire Memorial is located 33.5 miles west of Willows on Hwy
(sometimes called Forest Hwy 7 and/or county Road 307) at the Grindstone
overlook, N39,40,440 by W122,40.196. Here are some pics..............
Actual site is located approximately 2 miles back east down a dirt road
(couldn't find a road number, but can't miss it.), and across the canyon.
The Forest Service is in the planning stage of developing a new monument
and trail, at the fatality site. I also understand that John Maclean's new
book, "Fire and Ashes" has a good analysis of what happened. Got
have not had a chance to read yet....................
||This n that
In regard to FIREMARK'S post on 8/3: I searched the internet and found that
Everitt Memorial Highway (near Mt. Shasta, California) is named for John
Everitt, a USFS Supervisor killed in a fire on Mt. Shasta in 1935. I
requested more info from the local visitor information office, but have
received no response yet.
Also, I looked for the shirt that ROCKY MOUNTAIN is looking for. It seems a
lot of Shuttle Recovery shirts were made once for the different groups of
volunteers/agencies in the recovery effort. Most of the sources on the
internet are now out of stock. None of the photos matched his description.
Ebay doesn't have any yet, but give it time. :-)
Good post. I enjoy polite, intellectual debate, and you bring forth such
with your well referenced post. You are certainly correct that the IIBMH
is not law. It is neither law, nor regulation. It merely serves as a stated
regarding the official interpretation (by agencies) of those laws and
It frequently undergoes change as new laws, regulations, court rulings, or
OGC opinions, or comptroller decisions come down.
As you yourself point out, some legislators are calling for a change in
laws to improve benefits for firefighters. Know that they do so because they
too realize that current laws do not provide what new legislation would
(hence the need for new laws). Since all laws and regulations are subject to
"interpretation" you certainly have room to debate (and you do so
Yet, I would not vent my wrath on the employees who adhere to current
agency interpretation (as clearly stated in the IIBMH). Which
"side" am I on
when it comes to supporting firefighters? I'll let my 31 years on the
speak for itself.
Hey, this is great debate! Any time a round of beers is
Ab, thanks again for the site!
Old Fire Guy
Anytime, OFG. Wish we were nearer so we could tip one together. Ab.
I have had to take 4 seasons off due to injuries. (broken back). Made a full
recovery, now I'm back out and kickin butt. It wasn't an easy 4 seasons
either. I just kept my head, went through physical therapy, got back into
making jewelry, the key is to stay busy -- other wise it will drive you
Hang in there and you'll get your chance,
Yes, Federal Wildland types need portal to portal pay, but until then there
are things you can do to make sure you get paid for the hours you work. If
the fire is active you just have to justify why no break was taken,
"spot fires" was my favorite. I never felt guilty about
"shorting the government the 10-15 minutes that was taken for lunch,
DOL requires a 15 minute break every for 4 hours of work, when fire was
active we rarely got even one of those let alone lunch. When the fire still
has a good column going, I never had timekeepers question the lack of a
break as long as I put an explanation on the time slip (thats what the
comments section is for). If the fire wasn't that active I'd make sure all
my firefighters got at least one 30 break for lunch. I'm sure there are a
few uptight pains in the neck doing times out there but I never had breaks
put in that were not taken, timekeeping was always pretty reasonable.
Hazard pay can be something else, there were several times I had my hazard
questioned but again as long as I explained the situation I rarely had a
So until you guys get Portal to portal document the reasons why you put the
time you put, it will make for less frustration in the long run.
||I asked Sammi for the details on the young firefighter who died Sunday.
Here's the info from her paper. Ab.
I have the paper but the CDA Press web pages do not have the article for
some reason....it was in the Coeur d Alene Press (Idaho) Aug 5.....21 year
old dies in one car accident.....then goes on to say Eric R Pierce 21 was
killed when the 1999 Chevy truck he was driving left the road and hit a tree
on the drivers side. He was flown to Kootenai Med Center where he died from
massive head trauma. He worked for GFP CORP as a wildland ff based in
Rockford, Wash. Kootenai Sheriff Dept is investigating. I don't know if
the Spokesman Review out of Spokane had an article or not........sammi
||Fire season is very extreme this year keep your wits about you and your
ear on the weather read over the radio and call of "spots"!!!
A fire started yesterday, 8/5 in Eastern Idaho, at 0200 this morning 200
acres. Estimate control at noon... they called for a spot and weather said
"...winds at 5-10 in morning increasing to 15-20 with gusts to 25... RH
about 10%..." Well, estimated size at 2100 8/6, 23,000 acres with a
Type II team on order.
Stay safe, be safe.
||do you know the name of the packs that lolo hotshots use? I think they are
hogan. if so how do i find them on the net?
Ab will forward the info along.
||Just asking for a little help here-
I'm a relatively newbie on fires (only been out a couple of seasons) and
only as camp support. But as you all know when fire gets into your blood
that's where you want to be. I work in a fire office so there's no escaping
knowing what's going on. There's an aching to go out that won't subside.
My problem is due to a medical condition I'm unavailable this season. It's
not an obvious thing (internal stuff) so I look healthy and I keep getting
asked why I'm not out, when am I going out, etc. I'm just working on getting
healthy for next season.
My question is- for those who love fire and can't go out for a season what
do you do to make peace with that?
||Old Fire Guy... I love your posts... they bring out the best in me....
In regards to your comments regarding the Interagency Incident Business
Management Handbook.... I have a few corrections that you might like to
explore.... Also, I like Corona Beer if you want to do a little wagering...
"back home with the crew mates".
First, the Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook is NOT FEDERAL
LAW... it's some misinformed guidelines that are contrary to the intent of
federal law and regulations. Here are my points... Some key congressmen and
congresswomen are joining the fight to correct the inequities.
1) OFG... here's a copy for you...."copy, highlight, and tab for future
reference" as you stated... these are the rules relating to hazardous
duty differential and their payment. I carry a copy in my briefcase. They
are not even close to the ones our agency gives us in the Interagency
Incident Business Management Handbook. OFG, they ARE HIGHLIGHTED AND TABBED
in my book and are pretty hard to ignore when I bring them up after the fire
is controlled.... If its identified on the ICS Form 215-A as a hazard and
addressed... and it meets the law as described below... hazard pay is
justified... Ask a few keen H.S. supt.'s about how they have kept hazard pay
going after the control of the fire!!
See appendix A
2) In regards to lunch and meal breaks.... words directly from Federal law
about who Federal Firefighters are!!! Yes, you may have some arguement
here.... These words are being clarified by members of the FWFSA.... Yes,
the current law only addresses 0081 firefighters, but some folks are
fighting to get that fixed. OFG, I hope you are one of the firefighters
supporting new laws and the clarification of old laws!! I think President
Bush said it best.... "You are either with us, or against us"
''firefighter'' means any employee engaged in the performance of work
directly connected with the control and extinguishment of fires or the
maintenance and use of firefighting apparatus and equipment;
(Per Title 5 U.S.C.)..... Hence proper classification needed!!!! Proper
classification solves most of the problems..... ANYONE REMEMBER THE GS-462
L.E.O.'s battle TO GET PROPER CLASSIFICATION?... They fought that they were
not Forestry Technicians, but Federal Law Enforcement Officers.... Improper
classification.... THEY WON AND WERE PROPERLY CLASSIFIED..... AND PROPERLY
3) Your notion that only the I.C. can approve excessive hours is only
partially right.... The FLSA says that any required work.... approved by a
supervisor, even if not approved by agency policy... is compensated. This is
one that would have to battled by the courts.... but since the Govt. usually
settles... we know who the winner would be.
Oh, here's some more...
PART 551--PAY ADMINISTRATION UNDER THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT--Table of
Subpart E--Overtime Pay Provisions
Sec. 551.541 Employees engaged in fire protection activities or law
(a) An employee engaged in fire protection activities or law enforcement
activities shall be paid at a rate equal to one and one-half times the
employee's hourly regular rate of pay for those hours in a tour of duty
which exceed the overtime standard for a work period specified in section
7(k) of the Act or which are in excess of 40 hours in a workweek for such an
employee who does not receive compensation for those hours of work under 5
U.S.C. 5545 (c)(1) or (c)(2) or 5545b. (b) The ``tour of duty'' of an
employee engaged in these activities shall include all time the employee is
on duty. Meal periods and sleep periods are included in the tour of duty
except as otherwise provided in Secs. 551.411(c) and 551.432(b) of this
Sorry for the lengthy post....
That was pretty informative, thank you.
I noticed it did mention firefighters and "equipment" on a few
different places. The main thing that I think may be a drawback, is the
clause that says a Gov rep would be sent to oversee operation and be in
charge of all personnel sent, and the required paperwork for all personnel
being sent that requires name, age, nationality, place of birth and birth
date for everybody being sent. That paperwork for the border crossing could
take a while to obtain the needed information from the contractors since
NIFC doesn't have that much detail on hand for contract personnel, but I
still think it could be done in an emergency situation.
||I have found that the NWCG Handbook 2 (Interagency Incident Business
Management Handbook) contains excellent information regarding compensation
for firefighters. It details nearly every aspect I can imagine regarding
compensation for 1. Meals on the line paid? (sometimes yes/ sometimes
no.....but spells out what conditions must be met). 2. Length of shift
( I note that only the IC can order a shift beyond 16 hours.....not an
immediate supervisor) 3. Who/when hazard pay applies.
It's all there. Get a copy, highlight, and tab for future reference. Win
the respect of those who debate with you. Win beers (back home) from your
Thoughts and prayer for the family and friends of Todd Buckman.
Old Fire Guy
||To Whom it may concern,
Hello my name is Darwin Rodriquez. I use to firefight for the Rosebud Sioux
Tribe a few years back I did it for 5yrs and Im still interested. I now live
in Detroit, MI and I haven't found a forest that has wildland firefighting.
I know yall are bizzy with this season, hopefully not too bizzy to get me
started again in firefighting.
I would love to start ASAP. Please send any information to my email, its NativeSiuoxDDR@AOL.com.
I sure would enjoy a response from you ASAP.
If you could post the following, I would greatly appreciate it.
On August 3rd, 2003 the Bearlodge Ranger District of the Black Hills
National Forest recently suffered a loss of one our seasonal firefighters.
Todd Buckman, age 21, and Amy Davis, age 20 were involved in a fatal
automobile accident on Aug. 3rd, 2003 near Sundance, Wyoming. Todd was
employed as a seasonal firefighter with the Bearlodge Ranger District of the
Black Hills National Forest.
Visitation will be from 8 - 10 a.m., Thursday, August 7th at Fidler-Roberts
and Isburg Funeral Chapel in Sundance. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m.,
Thursday, Aug. 7th at the Old High School Gym in Sundance with the Rev. Dave
In lieu of flowers a memorial fund is going to be established through the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the information on how to donate will be
Todd was born July 9, 1982, to Don and Terrell (Carwin) Buckman in Sundance.
He attended school in the Sundance area and graduated from Sundance High
School in 2000. He then attended college at Sheridan Community College,
Black Hills State University, and the University of Wyoming. He returned to
Sundance where he pursued a career in firefighting at the Bearlodge Ranger
District for the Black Hills National Forest Service. He enjoyed playing
golf, rock climbing, weight lifting, and spending time with his family and
Survivors include his parents, Don and Terrell Buckman; one brother, B.J.
Buckman; maternal grandparents, LaDonna Carwin and M. Larry Carwin; and
paternal grandparents Ray and Shirley Buckman.
Todd was a great employee, a great person to be around and will be sorely
missed by his family of firefighters. Todd's family expressed his love for
the job; and, since Todd began his rookie season as a firefighter, it was
the best job of his young life and he came home every night proud of what he
was doing, who he was and how he was defining his young life. Sundance is a
small community and the loss of both Todd and Amy has affected this great
I will get the memorial fund information to you as soon as we can get it
Thanks for posting,
North Zone FMO, Black Hills National Forest
We are very sorry for your losses. Small communities are hard hit when
someone dies. Please keep us posted. Ab.
||Someone asked a question about how we are paid and portal to portal. This
post is about the way we get paid NOW, what the LAWS are for federal
firefighters, and how the Agency interprets the laws -- leading to gross
underpayment of wildland firefighters and questionable safety coverage
during so-called "breaks".
Here are my hours from a recent wildland fire... This is a good example -- I
was lucky to have a 16 hour shift:
0600-1200 6 Hours Base Time
1200-1230 <mandated "lunch break">
1230-1830 6 Hours Base Time
1830-1900 <mandated "dinner break">
1900-2300 4 Hours Base Time
Total = 16 Hours
I worked my ass of this day and worked through my lunch and dinner, even
though I was mandated to show 2 half-hour breaks.
16 hours of work were approved by my supervisor. You can add them up
yourself. Should have been 17, documented for 16. However, do we get paid
for 16, hell no, I and others who worked along side me on a 16 hour shift
got paid for only 15 hours. My supervisor also worked these hours and
got gigged at 15, as did the IC, even though he probably worked 16++ hours
The finance section says that we are only entitled to receive pay for 15
hours of a 16 hour shift... That's because we're charged for 2 ADDITIONAL
half hour lunch and dinner breaks as part of our 16 hour day....
So first I have to report an hour worth of meal breaks I did not take, and
then they ding me for another hour worth of meal breaks I did not take as
part of my "16 hour day".
Title 5 U.S.C. (Federal LAW) says firefighters will be compensated for
their time worked.... It says hours worked are hours paid!!!! The
Agency sings a different song..... "The Interagency Incident Business
Management Handbook" (Agency interpretation of Title 5) says the breaks
must be shown and, in addition, lunch and dinner comes out of the 16 hours.
In my case, my supervisor's case, the IC's case, and the case of all
firefighters on the line, a strict interpretation of Title 5 says that we,
as wildland firefighters, should be compensated for AT LEAST 16 hours.
Then there's the BIG QUESTION, what happens when there's an accident when
we're officially "off the clock" but still working.... thank God
that paper cut I got wasn't a chainsaw injury!!! How would OWCP react to a
chainsaw injury with the discrepancy between Agency policy and Federal law?
.... hint... hint.... Title 5 LAW says the employee will be compensated, so
you can bet the Agency will be slapped again. Or no, will the Agency blame
the firefighter? Sorry you should not have been working.
It's time for a little change. Firefighters are GETTING PAID FOR 15 HOURS
EVEN THOUGH WE WORK MANY MORE!! Theoretically when we are mandated to take
those additional breaks we are not covered in case of accident. The
"Intergency Incident Management Handbook" is a completely
unfounded document and must relate to FEDERAL LAW before it is applied or
FOLLOWED. Wildland Firefighters ARE FEDERAL FIREFIGHTERS AND COVERED
COMPLETELY BY ALL LEGISLATION WITHIN TITLE 5!!!! The Interagency Incident
Business Management Handbook should follow federal law.... instead it only
interprets it!!!! The IIBMH must be re-written to follow current federal
laws or be thrown out!!!
MY POINT.... UNTIL THE AGENCIES CAN SPECIFICALLY RELATE THEIR CLAIMS THAT
wildland firefighters are separate and different.... each federal wildland
firefighter SHOULD BE COMPLETELY COVERED BY ALL THE PROVISIONS OF TITLE 5.
FIREFIGHTERS ARE FIREFIGHTERS!!!!..... Airplane or brush, ship or seaboard,
highway or forest system road!!! Firefighters are firefighters!!! UNDER
TITLE 5..... FEDERAL FIREFIGHTERS ARE FEDERAL FIREFIGHTERS..... regardless
thanks to FWFSA.. http://www.fwfsa.org .
.. here are my choices and yours....
1) each year.... let the agencies cut your time a little bit more and
more.... (15 hours instead of 16 for a 24 hour day) or.... next year 14
hours within a 24 hour period....... or the next year 13 hours within a 24
hour period..... stand up..... speak out!!......
2) Problem fixed by Federal Law..... support H.R. 2963 ... no more pay
problems!!!! PORTAL TO PORTAL PAY!!
Wildland firefighters need a federal firefighter series and to
have the pay issue resolved. Ab.
||John -- Check out this link to the national mobilization guide -- it
outlines the agreement and operational procedures in regard to resource
requests to and from Canada.......you may be able to interpret it better
than I can. It addresses agency contracted aircraft, but makes no mention of
other agency contracted resources. There are signees to the agreement on the
last page that you may be able to contact for clarification -- they are all
at NIFC -- 208-387-5512. Good luck.
||Chrome Polisher said:
“Fire Momma hit the nail on the head: most National Contract Engines are
not working right now but the National Crews are. I think the main reason
for this is that the Crews are well represented by their CO nationally and
the Engines (under another CO) are not.”
I don’t know what it is about the federal wildland agencies but Engines
are definitely second class resources in the eyes of many, Agency or
Contract. I have run into a lot of people who think anybody can run a pump.
I don’t think CDF runs into this, if anything it’s probably the reverse
for them since their crews are from the correctional system. In my
experience with the USFS I found the pecking order went Smokejumpers,
Helitack, IHC, IRC, Type 2 crews and then Engines. You might notice the USFS
Fire and Aviation People in fire still has nothing on engines www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/index.phpl.
It blew my mind last year when the assorted federal agencies pulled hotshots
and helitack to go to Australia to run ENGINES!!! But no engine folks.
The way I see it career Engine types have to have a little Rodney
Dangerfield to their personality or it just gets too depressing.
Checked this out with a TIME.
H pay is for work in the "area within or adjacent to the perimeter of
an uncontrolled wildfire of any size in which action is being taken to
control the fire."( from the IIBMH), or in other words, work on an
uncontrolled fire. The meal periods may be compensatable until the fire is
controlled. I guess it's just another of those things subject to
interpretation or the FSC on the incident. You should check with your Crew
Rep or IARR if there is a problem with pay.
I'm sure there are a few people here that can answer this for me, I know
absolutely NOTHING about the international agreements between NIFC and the
agencies from our neighboring countries. According to news articles coming
out of Canada, apparently NIFC has informed them that the US has no
firefighting resources available to help them across the border, even though
they have declared a rare state of emergency in B.C. . Is there any reason
that NIFC can't send any of the approximately 300 R-6 EERA engines that have
been sitting idle at home for most of the fire season, or are they just
looking for agency resources like Hotshot crews? I know in our agreements,
we are informed in the descriptions of work assignments, that we may be
called to go assist in firefighting in other countries including Canada. I
think with the lack of work to go around in the US this late in the season,
some resources could be spared without depleting our resources to a critical
state if it could help somebody else in critical need. Some private engine
contractors in R-6 have had 5 days or less worth of work the entire season,
due to lack of orders, and it doesn't appear to be looking much better for
the rest of the season at this point.
Thank you in advance for any educated insights on this topic.
||NZ5, your email comes back with the message from your server that
you're "not receiving mail from this sender". Don't know what the
problem is on your end, but I can't talk with you about our policies or with
the other poster who is forwarding material unless I can e-mail them back.
||Here's the way to find your
PBS station and then click on the station logo and find when Fire Wars
is showing. It's repeating a number of times over the next 3 days.
I just watched the last hour and a half. Fine production. It's always good
to see friends. Ab.
||There was a FF from GFP Initial Attack out of Washington State killed
Sunday pm in a pickup rollover. News said he was 21, I have name etc if you
want the info.......I had just seen them in a restaurant at noon. He was
with a 20 person crew coming back from one of the fires up north. Just a
typical bunch of guys having fun and enjoying each others company and
practically clearing out all the food in the Buffet....,, Such a sad
That is sad. Condolences to Brett, other friends and family. Photo of
this young crew on Handcrew
8 photo page, bottom left. Ab.
Forest Service firefighting budget broke
||Just received this alert and want to give it wide distribution, from USFS
No. 2003-02 Aug 4, 2003
Subject: Extreme Fire Behavior in Mid-elevation Brush Stands
Area of Concern: Central and Southern Idaho
Most of central and southern Idaho is recording Energy Release Components
above the 97th percentile level (Extreme). The area is in the fifth year of
an extended drought, and the U.S. Drought Monitor has placed this area in
Extreme drought. Live fuel moistures for brush and conifer species are
extremely low for this time of year and approaching record low levels.
Stands of shiny-leaf ceanothus and bitterbrush that have become established
in previous stand-replacement burns, and reached a height of two feet or
more, will not serve as a barrier to fire spread as in past years. With
moderate winds (10-15 mph at eye-level), these areas can become explosive,
with rapid spread rates and flame lengths exceeding 30 feet. In addition,
with poor night time humidity recovery and thermal belt effects, fires are
backing readily through brush fields well into the night through grasses,
sedges, and leaf litter, drying the live foliage and increasing the
likelihood of extreme fire behavior.
All personnel working in these conditions and vegetation types on wildland
fires must be aware and use EXTREME CAUTION during wildland fire fighting
activities. These areas will NOT serve as survival zones or safety zones
under any circumstances.
Sign me FC180
||Fire Wars from NOVA on PBS:
I just noticed tonight's show at 8:00 PM EDT.
Judging from the scheduling here in NW Ohio, it looks like it will be
repeated at various times during the week after the national broadcast.
Please consult your local schedules for PBS stations and show times in your
NOVA Fire Wars on PBS
Length: 2 hours long
Synopsis: The Arrowhead Hotshots fight a wildfire during the summer
of 2000; fire policy.
Date/Time: August 5: 8:00PM, August 6: 1:00AM, 4:00AM, 12:30PM,
August 7: 1:00AM
||Here is a link to the Denver Post coverage of Alan Wyatt's statue:
Fine article and photo. Thank you. Ab.
||I really enjoyed looking at the memorial page on the website. I would like
to add that there was a wooden carving dedicated on June 28, 2003, at
Vallecito Lake (north of Durango, CO) for my father, Alan Wyatt, who was
killed on the Missionary Ridge Fire on July 2, 2002. It is a lifesize
wooden carving in a burned out tree done by a local chainsaw artist. It is
one of 14 carvings in the "Tour of Carvings" at Vallecito Lake. It
fine example of a memorial site for a fallen firefighter.
Leigh Ann Evans
Thanks Leigh Ann. Sorry for your loss.
I added his site to the memorials page. If you get a chance, snap a photo of
the carving in its environment and send it in. You could also ask one of the
firefighters in your area to get the latitude and longitude. Ab.
||Just a question to all the personnel people out there.... If we must show
a lunch break while on fire assignment and that lunch does not count
towards work/rest, then how come during that lunch break, while I am on the
fire line, I can not receive hazard pay? Since I am on lunch, is the
fireline now a "safer" place? Just a thought...... I am sure I
some crazy explanation.
I saw your book list. Great stuff! But you should include Micah Morrison's
fabulous book, "Fire in Paradise: The Yellowstone Fires and the
Environmentalism," (HarperCollins, 1993).
All the best,
Readers, anyone read that one? Ab.
||AK- my heart goes out to you. It really frustrates me that the legal
system is so futile when it comes to protecting people from that kind of
harassment. Like those women who leave their wife-beating husbands and then
he walks right through the restraining order and pounds her again and what
happens? Nothing! That is probably not the most comforting thing to say.
Here let’s try again. AK, good for you for standing up for yourself. I am
sure the tribe will get over it and some of them will surely understand. You
just keep you head up and keep yourself safe! That’s what’s important. I
don’t suppose you are near Homer are you? My brother has very strong
feelings about that kind of thing. He’ll pound the guy for ya! ;-)
Another idea-I don't know what it is like up there but down here I have
lived among several tribes and I have Native friends and I was thinking that
maybe you could approach one of the tribal elders for help with dealing with
this guy. I know people who would have layed the smack down if something
like that had happened to me.
||Hi Ab, I am a Pennsylvania DCNR firefighter looking to find employment in
the west for the remainder of the fire season. I have all qualifications
necessary and am qualified for this year as WFFT2. I looked on your pages
and found only positions for the whole season (spring start) and I also
applied for BLM immediate hire positions. If there is anyway I could get on
a crew starting immediately, please let me know. Thanks for your help.
Please respond to this email address.
This guy just doesn't get it, I don't want to see him. I have told him this
many times. I finally had to go down to the court house and get a
restraining order. Last night and the night before he stopped by my house
drunk as usual and caused a scene. I can't get rid of him. I got the cops
involved now, they put him in jail but they wouldn't keep him. Now I look
like the bad guy in the Native community because I'm afraid for my well
being. This is so wrong, I am fighting fire in the lower 48 from now on.
just thought I would let you know the latest.
||Is there anybody out there in the vicinity of Homer, AK? My baby brother
(one of the nicest best people on the planet) is up there as a volunteer on
a trail crew and he is getting used and abused a bit. He is taking it like a
man, but none the less it would be nice if there was some friendly fire
person out there who could look in on him for me.
||Chrome Polisher wrote:
Additionally, many of the National Engine folks have overhead
qualifications, with many ex-feds at the helm of these Engines. In these
difficult times, with a lack of overhead folks, these resources could prove
While it is true some of the National Contract engine's may have overhead
qualified people operating them as Engine Bosses, I don't see where that
would help the lack of overhead situation. It is my understanding, that one
of the main reasons for National engines was to ensure that pieces of
quality equipment arrived to an incident with quality trained and
experienced Engine Bosses to run them. As soon as you pull the Engine Boss
off that engine to fill an overhead position who's going to take over the
equipment? Most likely whoever the Contractor/Owner can find sitting around,
that may or may not meet the standards that the National Contract was hoping
to get. In my opinion (which I know isn't worth much lol), once the Engine
Boss comes off that engine to take an Overhead position, the engine should
basically be reduced/considered to be the same status level as any other
engine that is operating under the basic EERA.
||Ab, this came in on the memorial service for Randall:
Whiteriver, AZ (August 4, 2003) - A memorial service for fallen firefighter
Randall Bonito, Jr. was held August 2, 2003 in Whiteriver, Arizona, with
several hundred people in attendance. Bonito was tragically killed in a
helicopter crash July 26, along with pilot Jess Pearce of Peoria, Arizona,
while responding to a reported fire in the Aspen Ridge area of the White
Mountain Reservation. The service was held at the Chief Alchesay Activity
Center, with Reverend Lex Baha, North Fork Miracle Church, officiating.
Among those paying their respects to the Bonito family were Arizona Governor
Janet Napolitano, Teresa Rosier, Counselor to the Assistant Secretary of
Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, and Dallas Massey, Chairman of
the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Governor Napolitano presented Bonito’s
widow, Sherry, with an Arizona State flag that had flown over the Statehouse
in his honor. Rosier presented Mrs. Bonito with a bronze firefighter statue
that is provided to the families of all fallen firefighters by the Wildland
Firefighters Association in Boise, Idaho.
A National Honor Guard, provided by the Bureau of Land Management, escorted
the body to the memorial service, presented the colors, and retired the
colors. They were also present at the Whiteriver Cemetery burial site, and
presented the flag covering the casket to Mrs. Bonito. Members of Bonito’s
Fort Apache Helitack crew also provided escort service for the body. Kristy
Johnson, a member of this crew, who was injured in the helicopter crash, was
able to attend the memorial service. Floyd Walker, the other firefighter
injured in the helicopter crash, remains hospitalized in Phoenix.
Bonito’s twelve years of dedicated service to the Ft. Apache Agency fire
crew were also recognized at the memorial service. Governor Napolitano
stated “Randall willingly walked into the face of danger when others would
flee, and he paid the ultimate sacrifice.” Others commented about his
unselfish caring and sharing nature, and his unwavering love and dedication
to his family.
||Re: Region 6 (OR, WA) Noncompliant Equipment
Talk about the explosion of equipment in Region 6,,, Part of it is the
Forest Service is not adhering to their own contract (RFQ R6-03-004) and
inspection criteria. I can address only the issue with tenders. We were told
early on by T <snip>, Equipment Specialist with Region 6, that
tenders were required to make the weight criteria that was spelled out in
5.3 Vehicle Weights
Fully loaded and fully equipped vehicle shall not exceed manufacturer's
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), and Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) per
axle, (see 4.1.c.).
Appendix; J reads;
4. CERTIFIED WEIGHT TICKET OF FULLY LOADED VEHICLE _________LBS
(NOTE: TENDER WILL BE WEIGHED FULLY LOADED - WITHOUT OPERATOR - FILLERS,
SPACERS, OR OVER FLOW DEVICES IN TANK ARE NOT PERMITTED)
Further more, in conversations with T, he said that 'down loading' would not
be permitted and that tanks would have to be cut down to make weight. The
average class 8 truck chassis weighs 14000 to 16000 pounds bare (no tank or
equipment). Most class 8 trucks are equipped with a 12000 to 14000 pound
front axle and 18000 to 20000 pound axles in the rear (X2). That translates
to 54000 total load figured on the outside. Subtract the weight of the bare
chassis of 14000 pounds (giving the benefit of doubt) and that leaves 40000
pounds. A rule of thumb is that water (8.33lbs/gal) and tank combined will
weigh approximately 10 pounds per gallon. That means that truck can haul
4000 gallons of water provided that no other equipment is present (pump,
hose, fittings, plumbing, spray heads, side boxes, tank hold downs, spare
tire, etc.) A very conservative estimate would be a minimum of 2000 pounds
for the preceding equipment. That would reduce the maximum capacity to 3800
gallons. Most trucks come with a 12000 pound axle in the front and 19000
pound axles in the rear leaving a payload of 36000 less equipment. Subtract
the equipment that would allow for a total tank capacity of 3400 gallons.
Bottom line is that down loading occurred in Region 6 in
noncompliance of contract specifications and I feel for the people who were
forced to cut their tanks down to make weight, yet see other trucks that are
noncompliant being dispatched. One other point is that without a special
permit, the maximum weight in Oregon and Washington is 46000 pounds (without
a tag axle). You will find most trucks who meet the weight of 46000 will be
hauling 3400 gallons or less. Also there is the consideration of forest road
damage due to the excessive weight of the larger trucks.
Oregon Water Hauler
Ultimate Explorer: Women Smokejumpers
Feature premieres August 10, Sunday. 8 p.m. ET
||Just got a call that there's a piece on Women Smokejumpers
on the Today show in the last half hour 0830-0900. I'm getting
my sister to tape it for me.
||There has been some interesting arson activity in Southern France.
A pretty serious wildfire as far as they are concerned. Here is the
link to the article:
Fire Momma hit the nail on the head: most National Contract Engines are not
working right now but the National Crews are. I think the main reason for
this is that the Crews are well represented by their CO nationally and the
Engines (under another CO) are not. I'm still thinking that the NIFC
dispatch system has also let down the National Engines, that NIFC has left
the dispatching of Engines to minor GACCs rather than do it themselves.
The quality of the National Engines are steps above most of the other
outfits out there but lack of recognition by ordering agencies is allowing
less qualified Engines to operate. However some National Engines are working
because their host forests have the vision to see the value in this program.
Several national forests have the opportunity to make some real inroads
right now but their fire managers are behind the eight-ball and don't have
the talent, vision or experience to make the right decision and embrace the
National Engine Contract which would put the cream of the engine crop on top
instead of to the side.
Additionally, many of the National Engine folks have overhead
qualifications, with many ex-feds at the helm of these Engines. In these
difficult times, with a lack of overhead folks, these resources could prove
invaluable. Also, the National Engine Contract gives priority hiring over
non-national resources but this concept is not accepted by a lot of dispatch
centers. I think that unless more Engine contractors get some work that the
whole program may fall apart. The contract specifically forbids "fire
chasing " by the National Contractors yet many non-national contractors
are on the road right now, chasing, getting hired, while the National
Contractors are sitting home at their host unit polishing their chrome.
||FWFSA_SoCal and Mike Preasmeyer,
I have a few question's about the portal to portal pay.
1. The bill that I read the other day states, 8 hours of base pay plus 8
hours of O/T for the first 16 hours. After the first 16 hours then we get
paid 8 hours of base (I assume this is our sleeping period)? Is this
2. What if the IAP has 0600-1800, do we still get paid 8 hours of base and 8
hours of O/T?
3. How does this work on our days off? Do we get 16 hours of O/T and 8 hours
of base for a 24 hour period?
Just something to think about, I was having a discussion about this with one
of my co-workers and these are some questions that we had.
Questions on Pombo's Bill..... Is the definition of Wildland Firefighter in
Pombo's bill correct as being a "Federal employee" ? Is Portal to
Portal going to be enacted for ALL Firefighters or just some?. What about
RFDs, Contractor employees ? would it apply to AD folks ?. Is this a good
deal or the beginning of a larger separation between Firefighting resources.
Anybody have any answers or more questions
I think your reference to the contractors complaining about not getting
assignments were actually folks talking about those with National contracts
having jumped through many more hoops than most EERA resources and still
sitting home while the EERA resources are dispatched. Or..at least that's
how I read it when I went back over it. I believe the contractors who
offered comments were also suggesting contracts should be enforced and
equipment and crews (and I will add fallers) who either don't perform or
operate well should be demobbed to improve quality control. Those that are
demobbed for cause should have that information follow them to prevent them
from being assigned to another incident until the problem is rectified.
Also, if you are in dispatch in R6 I'm sure you are incredibly busy dealing
with both agency and private contract resources and keeping all the balls in
the air. The job you do is a complicated and extremely valuable one. Thanks.
Here are some pictures from Harkness Fire, south of Mccammon ID, 7/21/2003.
Burned 4,500 acres. Lost two houses but saved many more.
I put them on Fire
17 and Airtankers
7 photo pages. Nice photos. Ab.
||I hope all can get behind the suggestions that SoCal Capt advocates. I am
organizing some get-out-the-word parties where I live.
Currently wildland firefighters are designated as forestry or range
technicians (OPM Series 462 and 455, respectively) or -- at the
"professional" upper grades, as biologists (Series 401). None of
these series describes the job wildland firefighters do.
Professional designation has been suggested by a string of studies including
the Firefighter Safety Awareness Study, Phase III. In addition, firefighters
need to have their job series describe what they do. We need an
integrated system within a single wildland firefighter series so people can
advance up the wildland firefighter professional ladder in a way that
describes what wildland firefighters do at every step of the way. Think of
the planning, training, and pay problems that would go away if wildland
firefighters were defined as wildland firefighters not forestry
techs, range techs or biologists and recognized as professionals from the
This is our chance. Hats off to Pombo, a man of vision. Vision is needed,
clarifying and streamlining the system is necessary, especially with
wildland firefighters being called on to deal with all-risk incidents,
Pombo Introduces Legislation Increasing Benefits for Wildland Firefighters
July 25, 2003
Congressman Richard Pombo today introduced legislation to increase benefits
for our Nation’s wildland firefighters. The bill, the Federal Wildland
Firefighters Emergency Response Compensation Act, would establish a 24-hour
pay system similar to the one used by California’s Department of Forestry
for emergency deployment.
The current pay system forces these firefighters to work long and dangerous
hours to receive their premium overtime compensation. The high risks and
poor pay not only create safety hazards, but also hurt the recruitment and
retention of quality firefighters. The bill will also allow a firefighter’s
hazardous duty differential to be included in the calculation of their
retirement benefits. Currently, there are nearly 8,000 federal wildland
firefighters battling more than 40 active fires across the West.
“Our wildland firefighters put their lives on the line to protect us, and
they deserve better,” said Pombo. “If a wildland firefighter is forced
to spend long periods of time away from their families in the line of duty,
it is our duty to see to it that they are paid for the entire time they are
Ab adds: Here's the important FWFSA
list of issues on these topics.
||FWFSA Portal to Portal Pay and Hazardous Duty Differential Bill
Attached is the bill as introduced into congress. Wildland Firefighters need
to STEP UP NOW AND CONTACT THEIR REPRESENTATIVE!!!!!!
Here are the steps.
- Contact your representative and have them be a co-sponsor. The more
sponsors... the better!!
- Contact your representative and have them be a supporter.
- Contact EVERY employee you know and have them contact their rep's and
have them either be a co-sponsor or supporter.
- Join the FWFSA and show your support.... http://www.fwfsa.org
... membership is strength!! If you have any questions, contact your
local FWFSA Chapter Director.
This bill is a bi-partisan bill in support of federal wildland
firefighter pay and safety issues. Each wildland firefighter, even
non-federal, should send off a letter of support. A phone call and letter to
your local representative is even better.
HR 2963 IH
H. R. 2963
To amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for portal-to-portal
compensation for wildland firefighters, and for other purposes.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
July 25, 2003
Mr. POMBO (for himself, Mr. DOOLITTLE, Mr. FILNER, Mr. HONDA, Mr. DEFAZIO,
Mr. UDALL of Colorado, Mr. OSE, Mr. CUNNINGHAM, Mr. GIBBONS, Mr. FARR, Mr.
OTTER, Mr. SIMPSON, and Mr. MCINNIS) introduced the following bill; which
was referred to the Committee on Government Reform
To amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for portal-to-portal
compensation for wildland firefighters, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency
Response Compensation Act of 2003'.
SECTION 2. PORTAL-TO-PORTAL COMPENSATION.
(a) WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER DEFINED- For purposes of this section, the
term `wildland firefighter' means an employee of the Department of the
Interior or the United States Forest Service in the Department of
Agriculture, the duties of whose position are primarily to perform work
directly connected with the control, extinguishment, prevention, and
management of wildland fires (including an employee engaged in this activity
who is transferred to a supervisory or administrative position), but does
not include an employee or group of employees excluded by the Office of
Personnel Management under the second sentence of subsection (c).
(b) PORTAL-TO-PORTAL COMPENSATION-
- IN GENERAL- For purposes of any determination of pay, a wildland
firefighter is entitled to be paid for the entire period of time during
which such firefighter is engaged in officially ordered or approved
duties in connection with responding to a wildland fire or other
emergency, subject to paragraph (2).
- LIMITATION- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, for any
24-hour period, the total amount in basic pay and premium pay payable to
a wildland firefighter as a result of the application of this subsection
may not exceed the amount equal to the sum of--
(A) 16 times the firefighter's hourly
rate of basic pay; and
(B) 8 times the firefighter's overtime
hourly rate of pay.
(C) REGULATIONS- The Office of Personnel
Management shall prescribe any regulations necessary to carry out the
purposes of this section. The Office may by regulation exclude from the
operation of this section an employee or group of employees appointed on
a casual emergency basis.
SECTION 3. HAZARDOUS DUTY DIFFERENTIAL TO BE TREATED AS PART OF A
FIREFIGHTER'S BASIC PAY FOR RETIREMENT PURPOSES.
(a) IN GENERAL- Section 8331(3) of title 5, United States
Code, is amended--
- by striking `and' at the end of subparagraph (G);
- by inserting `and' at the end of subparagraph (H); and
- by adding after subparagraph (H) the following:
`(I) with respect to a firefighter, any pay differential under section
(b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Section 8331(3) of such
title 5 is further amended by striking `(B) through (H)' and inserting `(B)
SECTION 4. EFFECTIVE DATE.
The amendments made by this Act shall apply with respect to compensation for
service performed in any pay period beginning on or after the date of
enactment of this Act.
||My memory has lost the details, but the Everett Memorial Highway that
climbs high up on Mt. Shasta is named for Shasta Forest Supervisor Everett
who lost his life on a fire on the south side of the mountain in the 1930s.
The Shasta-Trinity NF staff should be able to fill a complete name and fire
Anybody on the Shasta T have that info? Ab.
||To those who want the Abs to find information behind the scenes or try
to provide contact with someone:
Please be sure you provide us with a valid e-mail address. Be warned
that the Abs jump through the information hoops only once for a
person who wastes our time.
My hind end is covered in documentation!
I have been reading the comments on the contractors not getting assignments.
Remember, government resources are first dispatched, then national
contracts, region contracts and lastly CWN resources. A contract (whichever
kind) is no guarantee of work.
IMHO, any person who invests thousands of $ on an engine or tender without
off season work to support the equipment is taking a HUGE gamble.
As many calls as I am getting from the contractors, I am getting just as
many or more calls from my government resources... I checked with my GACC
and the orders are just not there this year for out of region dispatch of
engines/tenders/crews. The competition for dispatches is steep, look at the
fire procurement web site for r6, there must be 300 hundred companies listed
with most having multiple pieces of equipment listed. In addition, there are
many more contractors that are not on the region contract but have a CWN
agreement with local forests.
||sincere best wishes to the McCall & Boise SJs recovering from recent
injuries. hope you heal quickly.
to the FFs on the line BE SAFE!
to those calling the "shots" keep them safe to the best of your
||USFS Rappellers. Bozeman Montana
Here is our logo. First established rappel crew in Region 1, Bozeman, MT.
From the Gallatin Valley Rappellers. Thanks for the great site. Have a safe
I put it on the Logos
9 page. Ab.
There is a small
plaque at the CDF Calandra Lookout (on Williams Hill, Southern Monterey
County, CA, near King City) that honors Joe Clandra age 23, who was killed
August 16, 1939 on the Bixby Mountain Fire, (on the Middle Fork of the
Little Sur River in the Big Sur area.) Calandra, a CDF Assistant State
Forest Ranger (current title would be Battalion Chief) was trapped with a
companion, John H. Murray age 18, who survived the fire. Murray went on to a
career with USFS.
Also memorialized at the site are Paul Nesgis and Edward Gates, killed July
26, 1945. Nesgis was a CDF Assistant State Forest Ranger, and Gates was a
USFS dozer operator. They were fighting a fire in a canyon below Williams
Hill when they were trapped in a box canyon and over-run.
The lat/long for this site is Lat 35.57.100 N and Long 121.00.047 W
The lookout is on BLM property, accessed from the Lockwood/San Ardo Road,
between US 101 and Bradley/Lockwood Road.
San Benito-Monterey Unit, CDF
Thanks George. I put the info on the memorials
page. That memorials page is looking good. Thanks to everyone for the
photos and links as well as for the lat/longs. It is fitting that we've
created this page. If anyone has a chance to visit some of these sites that
don't have lat/longs, please take your GPS along. Ab.
Thanks for the time. I am actually looking for the shirts that
say "their mission became our mission" w/ the shuttle landing in
and black hats with blue writing. The website has "camp" somewhere
The Memorial for the pilots who died on the Big Elk Meadows CO fire is on
private property in the gated community of Big Elk Meadows. This community
was evacuated for several days. The efforts of the pilots were critical in
achieving no structures lost in this community. The community is secured so
visitation is restricted. If someone wants to visit the memorial, they can
contact Michael Tipton, an officer of Big Elk Meadows Fire Dept. and he can
arrange access. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attempts were made to place a memorial at the site of the crash but the
federal agencies would not allow it. There were three trees planted near the
crash site in memory of the pilots. The trees and the crash site are on
public property and can be visited. They are located on the Lion's Gulch
Trail. The Lion's Gulch trailhead is located on Hwy 36 about 10 miles west
of Lyons Colorado on the way to Estes Park.
I'll work on getting Lats and Longs for both.
Thanks Jim. I put the info on the memorials
As a training officer, and one who is in charge of the redcard system here
on the our unit, I will not issue a red card until all documentation and
yearly requirements are completed. It is not as easy as you make it sound.
Tracking training, WCT, refreshers, and documentation is not an easy task. I
agree with OLD DISPATCHER, we work as quickly as possible to get red cards
issued for the FMO to sign them. Most offices do not have a fire clerk to
handle this, they have dispatchers handling it. I do all of it, as I feel
there is a disconnect: the person that is in charge of issuing red cards
should be paying attention to the experience being entered into the system,
and making sure that employees meet all requirements before they get their
task books. Our sub units do not enter any of this, it is all done by the
There is very little support for full time training officers, although when
asked the people who are in charge of training will tell you that it is not
"other duties as assigned", the work load is huge. If an incident
happens on your unit, the investigation team and going straight to the
training records to make sure that the employees involved were trained and
qualified for the positions that they were performing on the fireline when
the incident happened. Training officers around the country take this
position very seriously, and intend to make sure that red cards being issued
are correct, and that all documentation needed to support these positions is
in the training files. I make sure that completed task books go through the
red card/qualifications committee to be reviewed before the FMO will sign
off on them. We then will issue new updated red cards. My 310-1 and 5109.17,
Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation Operations (Red Book), IHOG, etc
are all used to ensure that the interagency employees that I keep track of
are meeting requirements. I just hope that someday, we get it together and
get one document that has the interagency requirements so we can quite
having to search so hard to make sure that they meet the requirements. This
alone takes up a lot of valuable time and energy.
To the Training Officers that take your time to ensure accuracy, I take my
hat off to you, keep it up, and dont let things slip through just to get
someone off your back. To the firefighters out there who are trying to get
your red card, be patient, and thank the training officers for the jobs that
they are doing.
In reference to the R-6 contractors, the only way we are going to weed out
the bad ones is to send them home and make sure that honest evaluations are
done at the fire. We keep having extreme fire seasons, and we keep allowing
substandard equipment and crews to continue working, because of the lack of
resources. Our unit will send home the substandard if they are not meeting
contract specifications, and are not performing the duties that they are
assigned. Keep documenting, and make sure it gets back to the host dispatch
unit, so they can send it onto the contracting officers in charge of the
Thanks AB's for this forum.
I like it that one person expressing a frustrated question can lead to
such interesting responses that educate us all. Thanks MOC for tossing your
question out there and thanks everyone for educating us as to the nuts and
bolts of the redcarding process. Ab.
From family said: we have been discussing some ideas about what the FF would
like to do on their homecomings...please no graphics.
I think we need feedback from you all: like do you want to be at home
isolated from the world with just family or significant other around? would
you like candles, music and romance? would you like hot dogs and a baseball
game with your buddies? (that would go over real well!!!!) would you like 2
days of uninterrupted sleep? maybe just no plans and see what happens?
And why do you think that often during a firefighter's time off the arguing
starts and he ends up mad and she is in tears? then he (or she) leaves not
knowing what happened and the person left behind is just devastated? some of
you seasoned FF have been in relationships, help the young ones out
here......some are really struggling to keep the relationships strong and
your explanations could be a huge help.....
One of the Abs has added a Family Tips on Surviving Relationships page as
a result of the good comments coming out of familysaid.
Firefighters, please offer your insights as well. They will be posted on
familysaid, not theysaid. Feel free to use a different moniker if you
||those who are still hoping to get on a crew, many seasonals are going back
to college in a couple of weeks; therefore, many openings for FFs in the
west; do YOU have a redcard?
BE SAFE each and every one of you! SW "monsoon" is off track
looks like a long time before the snow flies
||Hi Ab, catching up on theysaid and familysaid, too. Thanks again
for your dedication to this website.
Nice explanatory piece tonight (NBC and MSNBC) on the Idaho
City Hotshot night burnout on the Hot Creek Fire. Russ Long and
one of his assistants did a fine low-key explanation of the backburn,
when it is done, why it is done. One of the two young women on the
crew talked about what it was like to work as a hotshot, the physical
challenge, working with the crew and the sense of satisfaction and
accomplishment at the end of a long strenuous day.
We can use that kind of press. Educating the public is important.
It was wise of the IMT to let the NBC reporter and photographer
go film the flames and the driptorch action up close. Russ said that
the RHs had been down to 3 when they first started planning the burnout,
and they had to wait 2 days to get the right conditions. They must
have felt it was safe enough for the journalists, too.
LCES, squared or cubed under this season's conditions,
I agree with SilknLines post: make sure you can get out if you go in
MSNBC Report with viewable video link
Idaho City Hotshot site
Press Releases for the Hot Creek Fire
Hot Creek Fire maps
||Re the Fires of 1910.
Oh! Thank you so much. Just today mom was saying: "My mother was
in her arms (she was three years old that day) and she said, 'Your father
cares more for his trains safety then he does for us.'" Grandpa was a
railroad man and the family lived in the house that is now a vet's office in
St. Maries. I doubt that he cared for those trains more than his family but
I'm sure he knew how important box cars might be in moving supplies in that
fire in Idaho.
I am still in awe that I can type a few letters and numbers into this
machine and outta the blue comes an answer to a question and...something
that will bring my mom pleasure. Thanks again for your quick response.
You're welcome. Ab.
||My mother (now 96) lived in St. Maries during the 1910 fire. She commented
today that she would like to see a picture of the memorial to the 57
deceased firefighters. I've been on line searching...only found a small one
so far. Any help you can give me is appreciated more than you can know.
Here's one photo we have on our website from the Idaho Panhandle National
Forests. It is on this page, 5th row down...
and if you click on the small photo, you get the larger version.
Here's a very fine article on the fire with a few other pictures in it.
||I talked to the FMO today <yesterday> and got some good news.
I'm still on the crew.
The crew boss in question will not be going out on anymore fires.
WOO-HOO!!!! HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY.
I just hope this doesn't happen to anyone else.
DD, Treehugr, Wanting to Help, Ab and All,
Thank you for all the great material. I have read the articles that ab
copied and sent me and the info that wanting to help and others have
sent. Thank you for being there when a sister needed you all the most.
I am so happy the crew boss in question will no longer be fighting fire.
His red card has been revoked.
Its heating up out there be good to your selves and each other, stay
safe. I'll see you soon. My best wishes.
Not So Worried in Alaska, actually pretty Happy
Happy in Alaska
PS Thanks again for all the great advice and support!!!
That IS great news, Happy in Alaska, good for you. Ab.
Its not just junk equipment on the fireline, some are buying their
way in with very nice looking stuff and staffing it with wana-bes
in nomex with little real experience.
I couldn't agree with Fed Up more. He/She is right: the National Contract
Engine and Crew resources are not working very much. These companies have
jumped through major hoops: multiple pre-season equipment inspections, hefty
insurance requirements and the most stringent personnel training
requirements ever required. They do not use the EERA format but instead the
only real contract in the industry. Unfortunately, most dispatch centers and
fireline managers are unaware that these real resources are available to
them. In fact, a fast-track system for using these resources for
non-emergency use is in place. These resources are supposed to receive
priority over non NCEs but again the dispatch centers across the Country
elect to hire less trained, less insured and under-equipped resources
because of lower price or personal preferences. The National Resources need
better representation from their COs and understanding from their dispatch
centers. Currently the National Contractor still do not receive their
dispatches from NIFC but instead from smaller, out of the loop GACCs.
Here again is the link to the National Engine and Crew Contract:
Stuck at Home Watchin' it Burn
||I haven't checked the website for quite a while, we've been super busy,
ROSS is just making my job so much easier. Really. Right. However, I finally
had a little down time and noticed several people over the last month asking
for up to date fire information/crew assignments. The easiest way to find
that information is to go to the West Basin website at www.nv.blm.gov/wgbcc.
The Great Basin Tactical report is located under "Fire Activity"
and will pretty much tell which crews are assigned where in R4. The WBCC
website is also the most user friendly when trying to access the other
Geographic Area websites. Just click on the links and up pops the US map.
Old R5'er who is stuck using ROSS
PS Four jumpers were injured yesterday 7/31 in jump related accidents (2
McCall jumpers, 2 Boise jumpers). Nothing life threatening and all received
appropriate medical treatment.
Hi Old R5er. That is a good site but the crew info is located on the
internal fsweb so there is no public access for families, firefighters away
from their desks, etc. Ab.