August, 2003

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8/31 Growler quotes:

"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.

Captain 180
8/31 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 inaccessible areas.

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. Ab.
8/31 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 information.

Be safe.

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.

8/31 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.



8/31 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 burning
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 know. The
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 deteriorating
conditions which became extreme.


8/31 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!

No name
8/30 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 no higher.

I hope all are being safe in vehicles and on the fireline. Ab.
8/30 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
8/30 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.


8/29 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.


8/29 From Firescribe, a link with more info on yesterday's van rollover and the NorCal fires:

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 injured firefighters.

Best wishes for their swift recovery.
Lightning fires drain fire-fighting resources with info on the Santa Clara Complex and a few pictures

8/29 Ab,

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 vehicles.

County FF

8/29 From Firescribe:

Hazardous duty? Technology, experience dampen firefighting risks

8/29 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 shortages?


www.fire.ca.gov for info on the entrapment. Ab.

8/29 hearing rumors of an entrapment in NoCal.. any info?


Ab asked for information and this is the reply from SoCal CDF who has 209 info:

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 period."

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 Counties.

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.

8/29 Thanks L.A.V.E.

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
8/29 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.

8/29 Norcal Tom

Regarding your post of 8/27, stating "History in the making." I don't
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 help
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.

Fire Goy
8/29 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.

Retired L.A.V.E.

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.
8/29 Ab,
The lessons learned center has 'reprinted' their Scratchline Newsletter
on safe driving practices called "Our Driving Responsibility". It is a
"reprinted collection of articles on driving and some very useful tools for
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.
8/29 Hi,

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.
8/29 Hi 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.
8/29 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 National Forest.

- RC
8/29 More complete story from Firescribe:

Van crashes, injuring six firefighters

8/29 Have you heard of 6 injured firefighters in a roll over in Or. very vague info
8/29 Another van rollover on the news tonight: <last night>


Be Safe Out There!

8/29 Ab,

Here is a story from Northwest Cable News

Rollover in NE Oregon

"Officials say at least six firefighters were injured in the rollover accident..."

"all the injured were talking with emergency crews."

Reading the story online requires a non-invasive registration.


8/29 NorCal Tom,

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!

8/29 Retired L.A.V.E.;

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
8/29 KB,

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.)

NZ5 Mom
8/28 Dick,

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?

Tahoe Terrie

8/28 LadyFF13-

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.

8/28 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.

Dick Mangan
8/28 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.

Retired L.A.V.E.
8/28 Ab,

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 at www.bandbcomplex.com.

Fire Momma
8/28 Hi Ab,

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
on this?


He got a concussion and went to the hospital overnight for observation. Looks to be doing fine. Ab.

8/28 For those who don't know about it, here's the scoop on the Federal Firefighters Presumptive Law from RR.
Revised: 4/19/2002

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 retirement benefits.

• 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.

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
8/28 I’m looking for specs on TypeSix engines (required tank capacity/pump specs/other equipment etc.) and anything on ATV-based ‘engines’. Anybody?

Nerd on the Fireline
8/28 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
BOD-Region II

We'd be happy to forward any suggestions. And congrats on your promotion CHIEF Hickman. Ab.
8/28 LadyFF13

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:
Large Fire 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 changing)

Be Safe All, they're predicting very active fire behavior in MT and ID today.

PS. I have put up many new photos on Fire 18, AirTankers 7 and AirTankers 8, Handcrews 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 photos.

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 know.

8/27 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
8/27 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

8/27 Hi Ab

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 jumped containment...

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.
8/27 Ab Please post this:

The 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology & Fire Management Congress
In Orlando Florida November 11-16, 2003.


8/27 NorCal Tom,

You're welcome. No I was not the original sender of the article. That was NMAirBear.

I just happen to be a fire news sponge lately.

Heli Groupie
8/27 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 below:

"There is simply too much fire and too few resources to expect that every wildfire will be contained or controlled by anything other than nature..."

"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 humans."

"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.

NorCal Tom

8/27 Ab,

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.

Heli Groupie

Yes it is, I'm pretty sure. Thanks much. Ab.
8/27 Firerev

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.

Retired L.A.V.E.
8/27 Elaine,

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 that way.

Fire Momma
8/27 NZ,
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?

NorCal Tom

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.

8/27 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.

Be safe.
8/27 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)
8/27 Hi Ab,

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.
8/27 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
8/26 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.

8/26 The Jobs Page and Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 & 0455 have been updated. Ab.
8/26 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 help.

Thanks for the prayers too.
8/26 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 buying
airline tickets to fly parents from Louisiana and arranging housing and
car rental.

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!!!!

OR coyote

Wildland Firefighter Foundation Ab.
8/26 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!

Debbie Miley
Executive Director
8/26 From Familysaid:

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 his eyes.

My heart goes out to those families who had their loves ones taken from them, and that wonderful spark put out.


8/26 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...

Another JW...
8/26 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
8/26 Elaine,

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 another.

Fire Momma
8/26 Ab,

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 depressing.

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.

vfd cap'n

ps, Leigh Ann, you are so very welcome. I hope your family can attend the memorial weekend in Emmitsburg with this PSOB struggle finished.
8/26 Here is a link to a story concerning the increasing bilingual
nature of the fireline. Some interesting food for thought.


8/26 L.A.V.E.,

I though the ADs were our country's equivalent of a "firefighter reserve".
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.

8/26 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.

8/26 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 principle applies.

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 your families.

Retired L.A.V.E.
8/26 Hi,

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 fire
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.

8/25 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.
8/25 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
Date: 8/25/03
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 other.

8/25 Chief Bill,

Thanks so much.

Fire Momma
8/25 Ab,

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

Chief Bill
8/25 Wake Up!

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.

Terry T
8/25 Leigh Ann,

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.

Fire Momma

Thanks also to Old Fire Guy and 6 for both logical questions and information. Ab.
8/25 vfd cap'n,

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
the wall...

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
8/25 Ab-

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

8/25 Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the friends and families of the crew.

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
8/25 vfd cap'n

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.

Fire Momma
8/25 Ab,

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.

8/25 Fire Momma,

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 Assistance.

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 agencies.

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.

vfd cap'n
8/25 This story doesn't require registration: Thoughts and prayers to all.


8/25 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.

8/24 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 died:

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 difference.

Prayers for the firefighters, their families and friends and for the semi truck occupants as well.


8/24 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......

8/24 The firefighters were returning from the South Fork Fire (Boise National Forest) according to this Idaho article. Thoughts and prayers...


8/24 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... ncbrush6
8/24 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.


FC 180
8/24 hi ab

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.

thank you
Billy f
8/24 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 Rescue Branch.

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)
8/24 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
8/24 Oregon van crash:
8/24 vfd cpn


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, very sorry.

Fire Momma
8/24 Ab,

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.

vfd cap'n

8/24 Story of the accident:

from Another R6 FF

8/24 Ab,

Just heard of 8 FF deaths from traffic accident near Vale, Oregon. Contract fire crew from Roseburg, Oregon area.

8/24 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 friends.

Another R6 FF

Ab has confirmed the bare-bones of this. We are saddened beyond words.

8/24 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 the subject?

Heli Groupie

8/24 6,
Concerning PSOB program:

What you say makes sense.. common sense...but oddly maybe not "legal sense". (Is that an oxymoron?)

You said:
"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 :

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 eligible...case closed.
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.


8/24 I came back pleased to see the PSOB is in "active discussion" mode.

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."

Fire Momma
8/24 Here's a link to a few recent photos from Highway 20 in Oregon.


8/24 Concerning PSOB program:

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.

8/23 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.

Wes Shook
Regional Aviation Training Specialist
8/22 Realist,

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 their survivors.

8/22 Ab,
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 covered.
(would that mean that logistics, planning, other support are not covered?)

Do you have links to the investigation, and the official response that
refused benefits?

I am reluctant to hire resources or make assignments to positions that are
not covered.

Any of the above means it's a sad day for us all.

Old Fire Guy
8/22 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.
Paula Nelson
Northern Rockies Interagency Incident Information Center
8/21 Dana,

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.

8/21 Dick Mangan

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.

Thank you
Doug Campbell

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 Mangan

Dick, if you don't know, Doug works with the Ventura Co Fire Department as well as with others. Ab.

8/21 Pulaski,

Now don't you be having too much fun in Montana, ya hear!


8/21 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. Ab.
8/21 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
supervisory dispatcher.

8/21 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.

8/21 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.


Tahoe Terrie

Thanks, Muggs, for checking my machine!
8/21 Ab,

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.

Montana Mom
8/21 Interesting that this issue of contract equipment is still raging...

I believe that there are a couple items that everyone seems to be forgetting or overlooking.

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
8/21 anyone in need of a engine boss or crew boss..
i am in north carolina but will travel
thanks BR
8/21 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.

Cache Queen
8/21 Ab,

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 to coveralls.

- Peter.
8/20 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 Mangan
8/20 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 comes up.

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.
Tahoe Terrie
8/20 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 Helicopter Firefighting?

Do you have cost and benefits of Helicopter Firefighting and can you compare Helicopter to Fix Wing aircraft in Fire Fighting?

Thanks in advance.
8/20 From Firescribe:

The fire r-6 ff was talking about with photos:
www.katu.com video

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:
8/20 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 regarding this.

8/20 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.

8/20 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.

8/20 Hey, Ab.....

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!

8/19 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 anybodys ass..

8/19 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.

Dick Mangan
Missoula, Montana
8/19 Ab,

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.


Heli Groupie
8/19 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.
8/19 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

r-6 ff

8/19 Fed up

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 trucks.

Oregon FF
8/19 today they called for some engines to montana. its starting to trickle down to
us. people be patient

8/19 Ab,

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.
8/19 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.

8/19 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.
8/19 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.
Montana Mom
8/19 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.

8/19 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.

Panhandle Ken

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.
8/19 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
assigned them.

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
they can.

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
into camp.

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.

8/19 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.

8/18 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.

R3 Dispatcher

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.
8/18 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-

-- changed
8/18 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?

8/18 Mellie, Mollysboy, L.A.V.E. and Dana,

Thanks for reading and putting your "two cents" in about our situation.
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 what is
just and argue that he was in fact very much empowered "to engage in fire
suppression activities". That reason for declination is weak at best. If
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 he was.
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 top
dog? The one who tries the hardest." I'm not going to let this injustice
happen for my mom and all future widows without a fight.

Leigh Ann (Wyatt) Evans
8/18 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


8/18 From Firescribe

Firefighters 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.

8/18 JC...

What did they tear you up on? Where is your contract based? And how long?

8/18 Ab,

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
paper (www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/documents/lces_gleason.phpl)
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 "Leaders
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

vfd cap'n

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.
8/18 The Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 & Series 0455 have been updated.

OPM has 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.

8/18 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) page.

8/18 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!!

8/17 Can anyone tell me what the "Modified Gasner Bar Pack" is?

8/17 Mellie,
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 "Lady
Moon" and catching some bonus time in the Poudre with the "Hippie" was
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 combined
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

8/17 Mellie--

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.

8/16 Readers and contributors.

Pulaski finished up the Wildland Firefighter Monument and Memorial Sites page by state. If you know of any more, please send them in.

Thanks very much Pulaski. Much better arrangement.

8/16 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 lasts!

Dick Mangan

You taking pictures? Ab.
8/16 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.

Oregon FF

earthobservatory.nasa.gov -->ID, MT, Canada from space

8/16 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.
8/16 ANF,

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8/16 Ab,

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.

Heli groupie
8/16 Hi All,

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 Gleason.

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>
8/16 "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.

8/16 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.

8/16 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 busy? Ab.
8/16 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!

8/16 Casey Judd,

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!!

Tony Duprey
8/16 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.

Dick Mangan

Condolences. Ab.
8/16 Perplexed,

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 vfd
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, "acclimatization"
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,
Northeast CWB
8/16 AB,
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 supervisor."
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.

8/15 Ab,

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
meeting www.westgov.org/wga/meetings/2003_AM_MT_main.php
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 fire
workforce management -- out-sourcing and regulatory issues."

vfd cap'n
8/15 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 Hill.

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.


Casey Judd
Business manager
8/15 Casey Judd,
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 end.

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...

8/15 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)


8/15 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 have you
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 "right"

signed: Perplexed?
8/15 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
Stay safe

8/14 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?

Be Safe.

PS. Also I finally got this picture scanned and thought with the activity in western
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 don't
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.

8/14 CNN reporting mass power outages in New York city affecting airports, subways, etc.

Norcal Tom

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.
8/14 Dana,

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 page. Ab.
8/14 Ab,

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.

8/14 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?

8/14 Ab,

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.
8/14 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 Compensation.

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 emergency.

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.

8/14 Ab,

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.

vfd cap'n

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.
8/14 A.J.
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 anytime.

8/13 Casey, I have to take issue with a few of your statements regarding portal to 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 portal?

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 blas approach to funding requirements will undermine your message and your credibility.

Ab, any agency estimates out there on portal to portal costs?
8/13 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, tsk........sammi
8/13 Mollysboy,

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..
8/13 ab -

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 what their
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 something to
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 more.


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.
8/13 Casey,

I agree with your goal, but...

Your post of 8/12 suggested that folks - "first and foremost" - simply
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 pretty
soon you're talking real money." My assumptions were that the "average"
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 the cost
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 "new"
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
to have?

Puffin II
8/13 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.
8/13 Ab,

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.

8/13 You can go to the following fire site to download a patch to protect you from the worm for Windows 2000 or Windows XP:


8/13 Thanks Casey Judd and FWFSA for your efforts on our behalf.

Tahoe Terrie
8/12 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 your behalf.

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 aisle.

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 shelter.

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 continue.

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:

Casey Judd
Business Manager
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 wolf." Ab.
8/12 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 tuned. Ab.
8/12 Vfd Cap’n;

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
8/12 vfd cap'n

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 change it.

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>
8/12 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 surviving.
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.
8/12 Ab,

Ok, I'll bite on this one.

-- Mellie wrote: "It seems that if vollies are covered, ADs should be." --

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.

vfd cap'n
8/12 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 you.

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 military"?

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.
8/12 Hey Dave,

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
8/12 Strange that PSOB were not allowed for Wyatt, they listed him as one
of the fatalities due to firefighting assignment on


8/12 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
interagency cooperation.


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 responsibility".


8/12 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
www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/presents/index.summer.fire.phpl .

Craig Duff, Producer
8/12 Dave

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.

Good luck
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.
8/12 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!

8/12 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.

8/12 Renee,

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? We
should be educated on this issue.

Is the issue that he was a faller and not a firefighter in their eyes? I don't
get it? Can we call the family's congressional reps and bend an ear or

8/12 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.
Socal CDF
8/12 Does anyone have details on the fire on the LP? I'm not near
my usual resources to ask them.

NorCal Tom
8/12 Hey Dirtthrower,

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.
8/11 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

SoCal Capt

We'll get Pulaski to add 'em. Thanks. Ab.
8/11 Dear 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 Forest.

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.
8/11 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.

Step 1
Identify an employer - a prospect of employment wont work, you have to have a sponsor to obtain a work visa.

Step 2
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 visa.

Step 3
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.

Eric PW
8/11 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.

8/11 Ab,

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 2001.


Nice column. I put it on the Fire 18 photo page. Ab.

8/11 Here is a photo that I took after doing a back burn in Iowa.


I put it on the Fire 17 photo page. Ab.

8/11 Women in Smokejumping

well i missed it does anybody know when it will be replayed?

fire gimp
8/11 Just a word out to folks…it may be hotting up big up north, but the season’s
not over in the Southwest just yet…killed off three baby dragons in initial attack
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 fight
fire on? Are there regs out there on that?
8/11 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 starts.

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.
8/11 Back to Planning Level 5 today 8/11

Old R5'er
8/10 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:
www.fs.fed.us/r1/fire/nrcc/fire_behavior.pdf for the prognosis.

We will need more help. Everybody be ready and stay safe!

8/10 "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 progress!!

Dick Mangan
8/10 MS-NBC: National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, "Women in Smokejumping". is
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.
8/10 Dave

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 yourself.

An old dirtthrower
8/10 Don't forget the MSNBC Smokejumper special tonight 8 PM

MS-NBC: National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, "Women in Smokejumping".


For the schedule, check MSNBC. Turn in on at 7 for Wildfires and then watch the smokejumper special. Ab.
8/10 AJ

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.

Chrome Polisher
8/10 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.


8/10 AJ-

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.
8/9 BLMgirl,
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!!

8/9 What chances would a 40 year old Limey have?

Dear Ab,

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 the States.

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 compensation.

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 ranks.

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).

John Locke.
8/9 DK

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.

SoCal F/F
8/9 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" lightning occurrences?

8/8 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 sequoias.
Sure would appreciate any information on those two.

8/8 Ab,

At the moment I work for a private contractor as I don't have a HS diploma or
GED. I have 5 seasons in the field, I'm a FFT1/Squadboss/Class A faller, And I
have first aid CPR certification. How Easy would it be to get an agency job, Say
with the FS? Let me Know I come to this site often.

8/8 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 remains so.

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.

8/8 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 local
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 Smokejumping!".
Tune in and discover what a real "no 'man'ner" fire is all about! Also,
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.

"Silky Let-Down"
8/8 Hello Ab,

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 working
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
their buck.


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 would meet
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
year starts.

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. Then
let apples compete against apples and the peaches go moldy!!

These is are alot of my personal thoughts on contract engines. Take it for what
its worth. I appreciate your feedback and comments. How do you think the
engine contract could be changed to better serve our customers?

Thanks Ab

8/8 Hello, folks,

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 next

I am honored that he would think me capable of doing the kind of work he does
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 lists
the status of Type I crews . www.blm.gov/utah/egbcc/

Shot's Mom
8/8 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 smoke"
"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."


8/7 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.
8/7 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)

Dick Mangan

Ab note: gone from that location. I saved it here: 2003-05-14-rick-lupe-sawtooth-rx-factual-report.pdf

8/7 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!



We'll see if we can get the web site right.


Down in page under training
or Ashville Hotshot Training Announcement & Application
File is PDF so may take some time to open.

8/7 Hi there!

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
8/7 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
years ago.

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.

Old Dispatcher

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.
8/7 Readers,

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 162
(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 it, but
have not had a chance to read yet....................


8/7 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. :-)

Be safe.
8/7 Lobotomy,
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 policy
regarding the official interpretation (by agencies) of those laws and regulation.
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 current
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 with skill).
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 fireline
speak for itself.

Hey, this is great debate! Any time a round of beers is wagered......everyone

Ab, thanks again for the site!
Old Fire Guy

Anytime, OFG. Wish we were nearer so we could tip one together. Ab.
8/7 BLM Girl,

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 crazy.

Hang in there and you'll get your chance,
8/7 Ab,

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 problem.

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.

8/6 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
8/6 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.
8/6 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.
8/6 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?

8/6 Old Fire Guy... I love your posts... they bring out the best in me.... Thanks

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!!

www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/cfrhtml_00/Title_5/5cfr550_00.phpl 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 COMPENSATED!!!

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...


Subpart E--Overtime Pay Provisions

Sec. 551.541 Employees engaged in fire protection activities or law enforcement activities.

(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 part.

Sorry for the lengthy post....

8/6 Cache Queen,

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.

8/6 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
crew mates.

Thoughts and prayer for the family and friends of Todd Buckman.

Old Fire Guy
8/6 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.
8/6 Hey Ab,

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 Erskin officiating.

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 forthcoming.

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 friends.

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 community immensely.

I will get the memorial fund information to you as soon as we can get it established.
Thanks for posting,

Randy Skelton
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.
8/6 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 that day....

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 of agency.

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.
8/6 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.


Cache Queen
8/6 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.

8/6 r6r

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.

8/6 Hi Ab,

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.

8/6 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. Ab.
8/5 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.
8/5 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 thing,,,,,Sammi

That is sad. Condolences to Brett, other friends and family. Photo of this young crew on Handcrew 8 photo page, bottom left. Ab.
8/5 From Firescribe

Forest Service firefighting budget broke
seattle post intelligencer
8/5 Just received this alert and want to give it wide distribution, from USFS via Firenet:

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
8/5 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 area.


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
8/5 Here is a link to the Denver Post coverage of Alan Wyatt's statue:


Fire Momma

Fine article and photo. Thank you. Ab.
8/5 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 is a
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.
8/5 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 will get
some crazy explanation.

8/5 Hey there,

I saw your book list. Great stuff! But you should include Micah Morrison's
fabulous book, "Fire in Paradise: The Yellowstone Fires and the Politics of
Environmentalism," (HarperCollins, 1993).

All the best,
Micah Morrison!

Readers, anyone read that one? Ab.
8/5 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.

8/5 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.

8/4 AB,

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.

take care,
just thought I would let you know the latest.
8/4 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.

8/4 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 invaluable.

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.

8/4 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.
8/4 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 the contract.

Specifications reads;
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;

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
8/4 From Firescribe:

Ultimate Explorer: Women Smokejumpers

Feature premieres August 10, Sunday. 8 p.m. ET

8/4 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.

Tahoe Terrie
8/4 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:

8/4 Hi AB,

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.

Chrome Polisher
8/4 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 correct?

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.

8/4 AB

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

8/3 WP,

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.

Fire Momma
8/3 Ab,

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.
8/3 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 beginning.

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, year-round.

8/3 Announcement:

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 away.”

Ab adds: Here's the important FWFSA list of issues on these topics.
8/3 FWFSA Portal to Portal Pay and Hazardous Duty Differential Bill Update.....

Attached is the bill as introduced into congress. Wildland Firefighters need to STEP UP NOW AND CONTACT THEIR REPRESENTATIVE!!!!!!

Here are the steps.
  1. Contact your representative and have them be a co-sponsor. The more sponsors... the better!!
  2. Contact your representative and have them be a supporter.
  3. Contact EVERY employee you know and have them contact their rep's and have them either be a co-sponsor or supporter.
  4. 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
1st Session
H. R. 2963
To amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for portal-to-portal compensation for wildland firefighters, and for other purposes.


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,


This Act may be cited as the `Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act of 2003'.


(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).


  1. 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).
  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.


    (a) IN GENERAL- Section 8331(3) of title 5, United States Code, is amended--

  1. by striking `and' at the end of subparagraph (G);
  2. by inserting `and' at the end of subparagraph (H); and
  3. by adding after subparagraph (H) the following:
    `(I) with respect to a firefighter, any pay differential under section 5545(d);'.

    (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Section 8331(3) of such title 5 is further amended by striking `(B) through (H)' and inserting `(B) through (I)'.


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.

8/3 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 date.


Anybody on the Shasta T have that info? Ab.
8/3 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.
8/3 Ab,

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.

8/3 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 abilities.

8/2 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
Summer 2003

I put it on the Logos 9 page. Ab.
8/2 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.

George Haines
Division Chief,
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.
8/2 Hickman:

Thanks for the time. I am actually looking for the shirts that
say "their mission became our mission" w/ the shuttle landing in the cape
and black hats with blue writing. The website has "camp" somewhere in the

Rocky Mountain
8/2 Ab,

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 mtipton@firecache.com.

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.

Jim Felix

Thanks Jim. I put the info on the memorials page. Ab.
8/2 MOC4546

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 training office.

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 programs.

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.
8/2 Hi All,

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 desire.
8/2 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

8/1 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

Tahoe Terrie

www.msnbc.com/news/943033.asp MSNBC Report with viewable video link
www.fs.fed.us/r4/boise/new_pages/IC_hotshots.phpl Idaho City Hotshot site
www.id.blm.gov/boisedispatch/press.php#hot_ck Press Releases for the Hot Creek Fire
www.id.blm.gov/boisedispatch/fire_map.php Hot Creek Fire maps
8/1 Re the Fires of 1910.


Oh! Thank you so much. Just today mom was saying: "My mother was holding me
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.

Adios. Norma

You're welcome. Ab.
8/1 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. Thank you.

Norma R

Hi Norma,

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.

8/1 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.
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
Sign me
Happy in Alaska

PS Thanks again for all the great advice and support!!!

That IS great news, Happy in Alaska, good for you. Ab.
8/1 FED-UP

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.

8/1 Hi Ab,

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
8/1 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.
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