September, 2003

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9/30 Ab,

Can you post this TEAM announcement again? Since the extension, we still have not received any more applications.

Employees who are interested in this program should submit the application. It is important to note that this process does not require supervisors approval to apply. It helps to have support; however it is not needed to apply under the new process.

If any employees have questions they can either email or call me. Thanks again.

Wes Shook
Regional Aviation Training Specialist
Pacific Southwest Region
<small snip from Ab, go to the bottom and click for the full info>
"TEAM" Aviation Training & Qualification Program. Collateral Duties, at the applicant's permanent position of record duty location.


· Air Operation Branch Director
· Air Support Group Supervisor
· Helicopter Coordinator
· Helicopter Manager
· Air Tanker Base Manager

Note: Potential assignment will be collateral duties with applicant's regular position.

Individuals accepted into the TEAM Program will be provided classroom training, on-the-job training, and operational experience in order to qualify them in one or more of the above aviation management positions. This training will be conducted and the experience gained in the shortest timeframe possible, while still meeting the standards of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Wildland Qualifications Guide 310-1 and the Forest Service Fire & Aviation Management Qualifications Handbook FSH 5109.17.

The duties of each incident position are outlined in NWCG Handbook 310-1. More specific duties may be found in the Position Taskbooks for each individual position also available through NWCG.

Inquiries should be directed to the Regional Aviation Training Specialist, Wes Shook, at 805-878-4754 or by email: wshook@fs.fed.us.

As a minimum, all applicants MUST meet the qualifications of Single Resource Boss and have had previous experience as a Helitack Crewperson using the Forest Service Fire & Aviation Management Qualifications Handbook FSH 5109.17. Individuals with higher levels of qualification will enter the program at a more advanced level, requiring less training and operational experience. Fire qualification guides may be reviewed at the offices of District Fire Management Officers or Forest Fire Management Officers.
(for the rest of the post click HERE)
9/30 Ab,

Here are some pictures from the Canoe Fire. Heavy fuels, High Temps, and low RH's challenged us for many days. Some very hard work and long days were put in by the troops. The level of dedication to suppress this fire was awesome to see. CDF Team 5 did an outstanding job under the leadership of Chief Hawkins to give the troops the tools they needed to do the job. Salmon River and Helena Hot Shots put in some awesome work for us.

canoe staging
canoe briefing
canoe burnout from kerr peak to the eel river

A CDF Firefighter

9/30 Hi Ab and All…

Just wanted to announce that today is Tom Leuschen’s last day working for the Forest Service. He said he was ready to retire and spend some time with the family. I don’t think this is the last of Tom in the fire arena, I am sure he will still be around, but on the AD side of things.

For those of you who wonder who Tom Leuschen is, here’s the deal. Tom started his career with the FS on the Olympic in 1971 on the Soleduck Ranger District in fire management. In 1977 he moved on to Twisp, WA to work in the Methow Valley as AFMO pursuing Prescribed Fire and Smoke Management. In 1999 he started his own Forest Service Enterprise Unit named “Fire Vision”. Being on an Enterprise Unit allowed Tom the flexibility to provide his services to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, AND the Forest Service. The host unit and sponsor of Fire Vision have been the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests.

Some of you may have worked with Tom as he has performed as Fire Behavior Analyst and Prescribed Fire Behavior Analyst and he is also one of those rare FARSITE (Fire Area Simulator Software) Computer Nerds (as he puts it…). Tom has also put on MANY training sessions for fire fighters. The passion that Tom puts into his training is 100% real and fire fighters always come away as a better fire fighter. He is a man that teaches from his heart and you know it.

Tom has been very active in R6 in developing the FARSITE Input Data Layers for many forests and BLM Districts in Oregon and Washington. He has, and is, very involved in the Thirtymile Fatalities. He was on a forest team that researched fire fatalities across the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests, which included contacting each family of the deceased and placing a bronze plaque at each fatality site.

I am not sure how this retirement thing goes, but interesting enough his prior fire assignment was on the Mt. Rainier National Park. He was assigned to provide Fire Behavior information for their three fires. There was a fire on the North side, one on the Northwest side, and one on the South side of the hill (Mt. Rainier). So, needless to say, he took a few rides around the hill in a helicopter. He said it was so beautiful and something he won’t forget. Mt. Rainier folks, you have a beautiful hill. Must have been a tough assignment for Tom – and well deserved, by the way.

This is your invitation to send any comments, memories, or whatever to Tom. I am making a scrapbook for him and will be putting it together in October. If you want to email me a short (or long) note, you can mail it to:
d e p p e r s o n @ f s . f e d . u s

or you can hardcopy snail mail a card or message for Tom to:
Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests
Fire Vision – DeeDee Epperson
1240 South Second Avenue
Okanogan, WA 98840-9723
9/30 i'm still alive after hurricane isabel.

well folks i made it.. it has been a long hard time but the place and i made it . only a little damage to the place .. i need a shower..

thanks for the prayers
9/30 (Danger - Soap Box Sighting!)

Don't know the number of the Senate bill, but it was introduced by Wesley (Wes) Chesbro, democrat from my district. He introduced the bill but didn't have the political will (other names implied) to vote for it.

He represents part of Humboldt County, Mendocino County, and part of northern Sonoma County. Yes, I think the bill stinks too. It is labeled as a "fee" and not being called a tax, which is a political end run around prop 13. I don't mind paying my FAIR share, but I don't want to support the whole state.

What about the counties like Marin or Kern that don't use CDF, will they get any of the funding or will it disappear into the bowels of Sacramento to be used on useless nonsense that are the pet projects of legislators. For that matter, will any of the funding end up supporting CDF or will it be dumped in the general fund to be doled out as the legislators see fit? My bet is that less than 25% of any funds generated will end up on the door step of CDF. Is there a sunset clause that gets rid of this odorous filth if and when the budget is under control, or is this an endless entitlement?

Maybe CDF should start taking on volunteers firefighters to cut costs, boy will that one start a round of emails! Duck and Cover.....

Retired L.A.V.E.
9/30 Tonight's local news gave some information about the legislative proposal to add a fee to property taxes for those living in urban-interface. It appears as a $75 fee first year & subsequent $35 per year thereafter. The local VFD's won't receive any of the $$ collected! A CDF spokesperson said they didn't ask for it. I'll look up that "bill" proposal for a careful read tomorrow or ASAP because that legislator's idea STINKS!.
9/29 Received this and almost forgot about the Wildlanders.... Something else to look forward to.

Potential Fire Issue On Ford Trucks...WARNING PLEASE READ

In the interests of lightening the overall curb weight of the new generation F-150 series vehicles, Ford has substituted die-cast magnesium as the material of choice for its core support assembly.

As some will recall, the physical characteristics of magnesium are light weight coupled with exceptional rigidity (for it's mass). Ford saved almost 20lb. with this substitution.

Pros - light weight, stiffness, fewer bolt on parts due to intricacy of die-casting vs stamping

Cons - Relatively expensive, extremely flammable.
  • Magnesium fed fires are almost impossible to extinguish with conventional fire control measures. Any under hood fire involving a magnesium part will result in a temperature intensity that would suggest outside incendiary accelerants, but would not necessarily be the case.
  • It is also very difficult to repair as the material tends to be resistant to bending and when work hardened areas are cold-straightened, the material fractures.

Please caution your shops to never use an acetylene torch to cut off any mangled front end sheet metal during teardown and disassembly as a major fire could result.

The average vehicle today contains about 12 lbs of magnesium, according to Rick Opatick, Executive Vice President of the International Magnesium Association. Almost all steering wheels are made of the material.

Magnesium is regaining popularity for valve covers. Magnesium ribbon and turnings will auto ignite at 883 degrees F.

Fire Extinguishing Media:

Use metal extinguishing powders such as G-1® graphite powder, Met-L-X® powder, powdered talc, dry graphite, powdered sodium chloride, soda ash, or dry sand. Warning! Do not use foam, chlorinated products such as Halon®, carbon dioxide, or water to extinguish magnesium fires, because dangerous reactions will occur. Use of water on molten magnesium will produce hydrogen gas and may cause an explosion.

Special Information:

In the event of a fire, wear full protective clothing and NIOSH-approved self-contained breathing apparatus with full facepiece operated in the pressure demand or other positive pressure mode. Fire fighters should protect their eyes and skin from flying particles. In order to prevent eye injury, do not look directly at magnesium fires.

9/29 Here's something on firefighter hazards for you.


The Honeydew Fire has burned right down to the ocean in a number of places. If you've ever hiked the Lost Coast, you'll know the remote and steep area, near Shelter Cove. Well, if you're hiking the beach near that fire now, beware, there are millions of rattlesnakes that moved downhill in front of the flames. Maybe not millions, but enough hundreds to have to watch every foot step.

Honeydew Fire meets the Pacific Ocean

9/29 Here's the list of Frequently Asked Questions with Answers regarding the Forest Service planned use of Cobra helicopters for fighting wildland fire. The program is called Firewatch.

9/29 "AL" wrote in about a fire burning in timber and slash. I know all about fires in Timber: I read all the good stuff that Mark Rey and Gail Norton say about the fires that burn in the evil timber that is out there in the woods, and that we should cut all the timber out to make the forests (and interface dwellers who won't take care of their own property) safe from forest fires. But Slash?? Isn't that the stuff that's left over after those nasty logs are removed that caused all the risks from fire? You mean, loggers and the lumber companies and Federal Agencies are expected to spend real $$ to clean up all the tops, limbs and other material that is un-economical in order to make the forests fire safe???
Doesn't that kind of work cut into their profit margin?

When is it all going to end, these unreasonable demands on private industries that make their living on the public lands? Next thing you know, besides slash clean-up, folks will start expecting stream protection, wildlife habitat, and realistic regeneration efforts!!!

Let's all back the "Forest Stewardship" concept: if it doesn't pan out in 100-200 years, we can re-look the idea.....but until then, trust responsible industry leaders like Plum Creek to do what's right for the forests, while reducing the fire hazards (oh yeah, the fire out of Missoula called Black Mountain in 2003 that started on Plum Creek's logged over lands was just an anomaly that cost the taxpayers Millions of $$; it will never happen again!). British Columbia has made the system work for years, and do you ever hear of them having any large wildland fires??

9/29 The New Fire on the MNF is the Spanish fire, located on the Grindstone
Ranger District. It's around 1,800 acres burning in heavy timber west of
Alder Springs. Currently being managed under a type 3 organization, with
Norm Walker's Type 2 team coming in this afternoon, probably taking the
fire tomorrow morning.

9/28 Mellie, there's a new fire on the MNF near Alder Springs Camp.
I don't know many details for sure but I heard it was 500+ acres
with torching and crowning in timber and slash.

9/28 Hey All,

I was traveling Hwy 101 today and watched the Canoe Fire backing down on the Myers Flat community. Took some pics. The wind was fairly strong and the smoke, thick. Evidently some large old-growth redwoods are falling when their root systems are weakened by the fire. Redwood roots are shallow, no more than a foot deep, but a tree's roots can intertwine and intermingle with others and cover a square mile. Makes for dangerous firefighting I would imagine. Especially if trees are falling above.

Saw a strike team of CDF engines leaving and another strike team arriving (like the replacement wings of a hockey team leaving and entering the ice on the fly and in formation), plus dozers and tenders and 4 crew buggies of inmate crews. Lots of activity on 101.

Also, did one of the fires on the Grindstone Complex blow up? When I first saw it, I thought the very large column was the Canoe/Honeydew taking off and that I had my directions messed up, but it turned out to be a different fire in the mountains east of Willits, on the Mendocino in the direction of Willows. Took a picture of that one too. Geesh, you could see that column as far south as Cloverdale and even Windsor. LAVE, if you're located north of Santa Rosa, take a look for it.

Strange to be offline. Hope all goes well on theysaid. Can't wait to get home and dialed in again.


I put them on Fire 20 photo page. Ab.
9/28 Hey,

How ya doin...I sent you the engine picture of the 2003 f-550 with the aluminum frame on the rear...the department is Central Islip FD, and we're located in NY....Thanks!


I corrected the description. Ab.
9/28 You can see how your Senator voted on the Interior Appropriations Bill amendment to stop “competitive” outsourcing at http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain. Click on “How They Voted.”
-- Union guy
9/28 Retired LAVE
Off the top of my head, me thinks when Northzone reads your post, he will wipe egg off face and agree using "tax" should have been "FINE" those who do not comply with defensible space. maybe for each season without compliance, the fine should increase. neighbors should not suffer loss of home and hearth because a neighbor didn't use common sense to mitigate a dangerous fire event for an entire community. however, a "training exercise" effort for the elderly or handicapped folk who live in urban interface is a great idea.
I'm sure all FFs have passed up a no-win fire situation, and rightfully so. wood house, dead & dying trees & non native plantings of juniper bushes for landscape, etc. near structures comes to mind - nearly every "development" has a few - it's scary.
9/27 Region four chump: is right about the Northern Rockies engine boss requirements taking effect in 04. But they have been very strict in our area about not letting the ones that do not have the certs get the pay. Our guys are being told they are to be up to the 04 standards before they leave the gate this year. It has been our experience this summer they are inspecting equipment, guys have been required to show they know how to operate the equipment and are drafting in the parking lot. They are checking Red Cards and certs and turning operators and equipment around back to their agency before they even get out the fence at dispatch if they are not up to standard.
Panhandle Ken
9/27 The response Ken Kempter provided to Tahoe Terrie is right on point. However I'd like to expand on some of the thoughts.

As a federal employee, each and everyone of you who work for the FS have a duty and responsibility to promote yourselves, seek better working conditions etc. As federal employees, your "city council" or "board of supervisors" IS congress. As municipal firefighters work with local and state government officials to improve their work environments, you too must work with congress and federal agencies.

The Hatch Act does place restrictions on what, where, and when a federal employee can and cannot do with respect to lobbying. These restrictions, at least in my opinion, are insignificant hurdles to someone who cares enough about improving their pay, benefits, working conditions etc.

Granted, with the fire season upon all of you, the time it takes to write letters, send faxes etc., is somewhat limited. Therein lies my role for the FWFSA as a business manager. My job is to lobby on your behalf 365 days a year. However, my job is much easier if members of congress from all over the country hear from their federal firefighters, their constituents about our goals and objectives.

A collective voice is a strong voice. If you want some specific information on lobbying current goals and objectives for your congressional representatives, please feel free to e-mail me or phone me at (916) 408-8934.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Assn.
9/27 Some new photos are up on Airtankers 9 Photo Page. Thanks to Craig Happ and Ron Santi who take some nice pics of these birds. Also from NC Crew on the Aspen Fire up top at the Observatory, some photos on Fire 20, Handcrews 10 and Engines 8. (NC Crew, please check the descriptions and let us know if any corrections.) Also on Engines 7 a photo of a brush rig that fights fires in the pine barrens of NJ from Chris Murphy. Our thanks to contributors. Ab.
9/27 Hi, Ab

I just spent some time looking at the Northern Rockies internet site and learned that you don't have to be qualified to Captain a contract wildland engine in that Region. The Region gives engine Captains until 2004 to become qualified. This is another piece of the puzzle. I could provide engines for about half my current price if I wasn't required to have qualified captains and crews. This is one main reason that Contractors from the Region are able to under-charge and to under-bid a lot of the other Contractors from around the country. It is time that the whole contracting community conforms to the same standards. The Northern Rockies contract community has been granted a real unfair pricing advantage over other national resources. Why has the Northern Rockies Region allowed sub-standard equipment and manpower to still operate in this unsafe arena? The Northern Rockies Region requires that in-coming, out-of-region Engines be qualified to NWCG guidelines but doesn't require their own contractors to meet the same standards that most of the rest of the country meets.

Region Four Chump
9/27 Re: EDF E-13. According to a USFS e-mail of 9/26 E-13 (Dew Drop CDF/USFS
Station) was responding to an alarm on Hwy. 88 when it pulled to the right
side of the highway to avoid oncoming traffic. A control problem ensued and
the engine rolled off the highway. The personnel were transported to the
local hospital in Jackson where they were treated and released; minor
injuries. The engine is totaled. Accident investigation in progress.

Re: Honeydew and Canoe fires. I spoke with the night OSC last evening. The
Honeydew fire had a twenty acre slop over just South of Kings Peak in the
Shipman Creek drainage (BLM King's Range Conservation Area). Crews worked
through the day to pick it up. The line on the South side of the fire is
indirect and has held for five days in a monitor status while the focus has
been on the Canoe fire.

The Canoe fire had been jumping lines on the South side for three or four
days as it came out of the State Park wilderness area onto private lands.
Yesterday beginning at about 0600 it made a major run to the North where all
of the fire lines were indirect on the wilderness boundary. The fire jumped
the lines at Grasshopper Peak lookout. Crews, dozers and engines picked up
the slop over.

Suppression costs over 16 million, including the 40+ other fires from the
September 3rd lightning.

9/27 TRFPA,

Why doesn't everybody else have the qualifications you have? The short answer is because NWCG has expressly said they don't need them. You went up to Montana as part of a national mobilization, but others came from within the state or region. Different standards apply. The NWCG clarification of qual standards is pasted below.

As to your other point - that as a cooperator your rigs should automatically get called before a contractor - I disagree. While I oppose the mis-named "competitive sourcing" initiative, I do believe that market forces should be allowed to act within wildland fire. There are suppliers and consumers of resources needed to fight fire. And consumers should have a choice.

The dispatch system is one means of bringing buyers and sellers together. One of our type 6 engines was dispatched to Montana for a fire that was out before the truck arrived. Once there, the crew was given a severity assignment that lasted 3 weeks. Because our customer was very satisfied with our performance, we are on their list to be called directly next year. That's how sourcing should work.

vfd cap'n



There appears to be varying interpretations within the federal agencies regarding the application of 310-1 qualification/certification standards to local, non-federal resources, particularly during initial attack. The following points summarize NWCG policy.

• The 310-1 qualification/certification standards are mandatory only for national mobilization of wildland fire fighting resources.

• During initial attack, all agencies (federal, state, local and tribal) accept each other’s standards. Once jurisdiction is clearly established, then the standards of the agency(s) with jurisdiction prevail.

• Federal and State agencies should determine with their local and tribal agency partners, the qualification/certification standards that will apply to the use of local, non-federal and state firefighters during initial attack.

• The Geographic Area Coordinating Groups should determine the application of 310-1 qualification/certification standards for mobilization within the geographic area.

• On a fire where a non-federal agency is also an agency with legal jurisdiction, the standards of that agency apply.
9/27 TRFPA - you claim that you "SHOULD be called out" before contractors for Fed fire assignments, but the rationale of your statement seems to elude me! If the beneficiaries of your Fed fire assignments are the local folks in Colorado who don't have to pay the real costs of having a fire organization to protect their valuable resources, why are the rest of us in the US supposed to supposed to subsidize them by giving them priority for Fed fire dispatches?

Me....I'd like to see Montana contractors go out first, so they can pay taxes, buy supplies locally, and hire local folks that support our State economy. I'm sure that the residents and Contractors in the other 49 States (and D.C. and other US possessions!!) have the same attitude.

But..........as a US taxpayer, I expect (and should demand) that the resources assigned to an Incident are both efficient and effective, regardless of where they come from! Until then, we'll all continue to defend our petty local /regional/agency positions, with the taxpayers footing the bill for our selfishness.

But maybe you can convince me that your folks really deserve to get the first call out...?

Dick Mangan
9/27 Hola
Soy Agente de Medio Ambiente en Huelva Spain, y trabajo para la Brigada de Investigación de Incendios Forestales, dentro del operativo INFOCA.
Os mando una fotografia de un incendio en Manzorrales.

Gracias por tener en la red una pagina tan buena.
Alfredo Lineros


I am an agent of the environment in Huelva, Spain, and I work for the Brigade of Investigation of Forest Fires, within the organization INFOCA.
Here is a photograph of a fire in Manzorrales.

Thank you for providing the net with such a good page.
Alfredo Lineros

Translation provided by Nerd. Thanks.
I posted the fine photo on the Fire 20 Photo Page. We have been hearing about the fires in Europe. This aerial perspective gives a sense of what Spain is up against. Click on the thumbnail to get the full effect. Muchas gracias, Alfredo. Ab.
9/26 I have been reading they said for over a year, and never replied until now.

We are a VFD in Colorado that specializes in wildfire only and have an excellent work history with the BLM and the Forest Service in Region 2. Our Department relies on the income generated by being on Federal fires, where ever they are. We should be called before the contractors, but that did not seem to happen this year and when that happens it takes money away from our department for equipment and the much needed income from some of our personnel. We spend a lot of money and time to make sure our equipment is NWCG compliant and our personnel have the best equipment and training that is possible.

We had three engines in Montana and Wyoming most of July and August this year and I saw engines that would not even come close to being legal. What i mean by this is
1. Engine weight GVW
2. Age requirement ( the 16 year old rule)
3. Hose , fittings, and tool list. and it just goes on and on.

Then it comes to training and red card requirements. I witnesses so called engine boss's that did not have a clue as to what was going on. (in camp and on the fire scene). Come on guy's where did they get their qual's ( WAL-Mart )? I also saw a guy with a metal brace on his leg and cowboy boots, I will bet a new TYPE 6 engine he can"t pass the pack test. My point is if we have to be compliant on all of this, why dont' they????????

9/26 NorCal Tom,

I agree that to those even slightly familiar with the day to day stewardship requirements of our wildlands attempting to create an accurate model seems darn near impossible. Also easy to agree with is your "strange perceptions" statement since when I heard the "arguments for outsourcing" I was so taken by surprise my brain seemed to disconnect a bit. Despite the time I have spent over the past 6 years "interfacing" with legislators I was simply not prepared for what I got. I felt blindsided in many ways despite my preparations to argue the practical effects of outsourcing as it related to wildfire suppression.

But the offices of our legislators are a long way from the remote "wildlands" which have become increasingly more complex and difficult to manage efficiently. And few if any legislators have spent enough time observing how one full time (rural) position may in fact require dozens of part time contract positions to duplicate. The vast majority of our nations legislators are "city folk" and those who claim to be "from the country" are too often the most rabid detractors of the organization that employs the stewards of the land they have had contact with. They just do not (can not?) understand that those that live and work in remote areas MUST fulfill duties too numerous and diverse to be accurately represented in a study. So I doubt they will be able to accept a reply of "no such model can be produced." I imagine that the task of creating such a model is overwhelming to those who have the responsibility of doing so. But saying it can't be done will only make more legislators who are currently "on the fence" suspicious enough to commit to the "do it or else" camp. In the legislative halls of Washington such statements may easily be interpreted as further evidence of "a too large and inefficient organization" or worse yet...insubordination.

I have the opportunity to rebut the "strange perceptions" of this one legislator. And it is possible that if the arguments I present are persuasive he may in turn change the "strange perceptions" of other legislators. Maybe. He seemed to not be voicing his own opinions..but rather the arguments which had been presented to him. He sounded persuaded but not totally convinced to me. And he invited me to present counter arguments at a (not too) later date.

But I am still at a loss for such persuasive arguments. And if no one is addressing these "concerns" they will only have more and more weight as time passes. And who is to say I should pursue this any further. I have nothing to gain personally from doing so. I just thought that (to butcher a metaphor) while so many were saying "we can't possibly drain the swamp" no one even realized that it was full of alligators yet.

I agree that our nations ability to control wildfires may suffer substantially if we lose the experienced leaders who now direct our efforts in the "outsourcing" process. It is also a possibility that these leaders whose "functions" include a substantial amount of time which will/should be identified as critical to national wildfire suppression efforts will be freed of other duties and allowed to concentrate all their attention to this one specialty if they wish to. I personally do not see a downside to centralization of wildfire suppression management to one entity...which appears likely to happen in the next decade if outsourcing proceeds. In fact in the end our national wildfire suppression ability may improve substantially. In the years between now and then however...the federal employees tasked with the transition have my deepest and sincerest sympathy. The job will be Herculean, extremely disrupting, and painful. The process cannot be stopped in all probability though as the move for "smaller govt." and more privatization appears central to our nations current leaders "platform".

This may not be the place to discuss the "strange perceptions" I have passed on. But it certainly is the place to ask for some help in assembling counter arguments to them. If anyone wants to help me on this the Abs may prefer to have you contact me directly.


Dana, the key may be forming a citizens group to help educate and lobby. Such a group would be very beneficial. I have no idea where to find people who would be willing to contribute time and energy to the cause, however. Individual Agency people are already overwhelmed with additional work that is related to this new outsourcing assignment. People from within the Agencies can't do this on govt time because it will be interpreted as lobbying. They may even be restricted from sharing information lest it help contractors. No one that I know has the energy to take it on.

If individuals are interested they will email you. I am willing to send you the "official FS" talking point information that has come in here and anything else that crosses my desk.
9/26 I have to agree with the guy from Nevada. I also was on the Montana fires and saw many real good equipped contractors and some real bad ones. Both equipment and training. And he is also right, no matter your logo. We are all there for the money and the rush. If someone gets helped in the mess then that is an added plus.

One real bad example of Montana hospitality was when a Montana medical team was rotated in to take over from a Oregon medical team. The Montana team was lead by a female paramedic. She came in the tent and the Oregon paramedic was treating a guy for dehydration, she jumped all over the Oregon medic and tried to ream him a new one because as she yelled, "Oregon is not licensed to practice in Montana" and therefore he was endangering the patient and his license and the State of Montana. I mean she went off like a rocket. And did not even take the time to introduce herself or find out the circumstances or who she was talking to. Talk about bad PR and made herself look like an idiot. We just turned around and left her standing there with the dumbfounded patient. If she had been a guy someone probably should have decked her.

People being territorial is natural and unfortunately quite common. But it sure leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Panhandle Ken
9/26 The Nature Conservancy is seeking to fill 2 fire positions at the Refugio-Goliad Prairie near Victoria, Texas. One announcement is up on the jobs page. Ol Ab also updated the 455 and 462 OPM wildland firefighter series pages.
9/26 NorCal Tom-

Thanks.. I think that we probably have some of the same ideas, but the differences we have are also very important. Everyone has input on this topic, and I am sure that we all have some good points. I may be a bit outspoken on my views, but I hear that every day on my district. To clarify, I do think that contractors have a place in fire today. Until I see a change in regulations about contractors' pay, training and qualifications, I will continue to believe that they should supplement the federal agencies on fires.

Ab, I think that NorCal Tom and I just hugged and made up... Wait, That is way too touchy feely for me.

Take care
9/26 I am tired of all of the thrashing of contract engines. I am a volley in the area of Reno, NV. and I understand that there are many bad seeds out there. There are also some really good contract people out there as well. I am part of one as well. We are all out there for the money and the adrenaline rush. When an engine or tactical water tender check in, safety should and always be first! If you own a piece of sh*t you should not be hired... If everybody is qualified and have all the paper work in order, you should be able to work. As with the folks in Montana, you need all the help you can get. Don't turn away help. Even if its from another region. We are fully qualified up to IC, plus medical. So lets hope the fires don't bite you nay sayers in the a**. Have a safe fall season.

Northern Nevada FF.

Readers please send in your messages in regular sized font. Original Ab.
9/25 Ab,

I'm back home and I heard on the 11 PM news that a CDF inmate crew had to flee to a safety zone on the Canoe Fire today as the fire the picked up. Does anyone know the details? Did they have to deploy? The CDF information officer who was on the news said, something like "we have safety zones and firefighters can go to them as planned" like it happens every other day. Watching her report was a little disconcerting.

The Ch 3 news reporter also said the Honeydew fire was contained. I thought the fire had escaped containment at least in one place, maybe more. Is the News reporting off, or am I?

Who figures to get home and have it be as smokey as on the fireline? They're even letting school out in Southern Humboldt.

9/25 Tahoe Terrie.... an answer to your question re: lobbying

What is Lobbying and Who Lobbies:

The traditional definition of lobbying is the attempt by any
individual to influence the passage or defeat of legislation by
communicating with members of Congress or their staffs.

I think the info you were referring to was the Hatch Act. It prohibits certain political activities by Federal employees. www.osc.gov/hatchact.php

If you visit the web site, you will find that every federal employee has the right to lobby... there are just some restrictions. The specifics can be found at www.osc.gov/ha_fed.php

The basic requirements of lobbying for Federal employees are:

1) Do not lobby on government time.
2) Do not represent yourself as a agency representative.
3) Represent your personal views as an individual or as a member of an employee organization. www.fwfsa.org

The basic facts are... you are protected by law.....

TITLE 5. United States Code

Chapter 71-Labor-Management Relations.

Sec. 7211. Employees' right to petition Congress

The right of employees, individually or collectively, to
petition Congress or a Member of Congress, or to furnish
information to either House of Congress, or to a committee or
Member thereof, may not be interfered with or denied.

Ken Kempter
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
Southern California Chapter Director
9/25 Dana, what a strange set of perceptions. So skew from the focus I have that I don't know where to begin, so I won't begin with your questions. Except maybe to say that an alternative is harder to come up with than you can even begin to imagine.

I have been to a number of meetings on outsourcing, and yes, I will call it that in spite of being told to call it competitive sourcing by the powers-that-be.

One consultant came in for a day to advise us in this process. She told me that if we could conceive of and create a business model of the critical aspects of the FS/ FS fire that accurately represents how the members in their positions (functions) do business, studies could be done that truly reflect our existing efficiency. She loves this model stuff. After attending her seminar, I agree with her.

The problem is the MODEL. What is it? what's most important? how do you build it? Agency people like me do not know how to build complex business models such as the one needed. I don't think many do. The Agency at the top is clearly overwhelmed.

Such a model would need to include large chunks of "function" that are realistically interrelated and critical to the whole. For a very simplistic example, it would need to reflect that the IT person does fire part-time and the FMO occasionally solves plumbing problems of the remote RD in the dead of winter. Think of multiplying this for every existing PD and function in fire and in the agency... Then think of prioritizing the critical (fire or management) functions that require particular (fire or management) experience and then think of the steppingstone functions leading to obtaining that experience. If the model somewhere does not reflect the ancillary duties a person performs or some critical functional steps in gaining experience, those functions will be lost when a new system is put in place. And we "won't know what we've got til its gone." [Who would have thought we'd need a plan for peace? I didn't really think of that as the tanks rolled across the desert and I cheered them on and we seemed to be succeeding.]

The studies being required now say "you will take this complex viable system called the FS or the BLM or the NPS that currently operates in remote communities and you will break it down to fit the nasa or wallstreet business model of very narrow functions." IT, maintenance, never mind that these people are critical on fire teams as well.

The narrow model doesn't reflect reality and narrow functions do not work in remote FS or BLM or NPS administered areas. When there are few people in a rural community high in the mountains, the one whose job description is FMO may have to take a wrench to the plumbing and sometimes rather routinely. But this would not be accounted for in the new outsourcing system. [Ask the people living remotely who write in to familysaid. I bet Sammi could tell it like it is for having to be a "jack of all trades". She probably even has to know how to shoot the large 4-legged varmits who occasionally come raid her garden or threaten her livestock.]

IMHO, we (FS, BLM, NPS, agency xyz) need to hire the best consultants who have worked with this competitive sourcing process before AND who can also be educated to fire and resource management. Our system is networked, like a spider web involving management of both resources and firefighting. That's a strength. The business model should reflect the interconnectivity. Then... let the competition begin!

BUT, how many competitive sourcing consultants 1) understand how to really make such a model from the organization up and 2) have the ability learn the critical complexities of the organization unless they've lived it? They would have to be god, at least as I see it.

Dana, I am hopeful your points reflect only the understanding and frustrations only of your legislators in Minnesota. If not, we are in deep doodoo. Once done, this outsourcing process cannot be easily undone. Metaphorically, will we see the sh*t will pile up in our national forests and national parks for want of the plumber? Will our forests burn down or contract crews/interface homeowners burn up for want of experienced fire leaders? The structure for firefighters gaining experience with fire will be lost if fire is competitively outsourced following the nasa model. Ultimately, fire teams will disappear.

The Agencies need to get some good thinkers on this, thinkers who have the interest and the will to come up with an alternative MODEL with a bunch of little models that live within it.

John Maclean, you want to make a real contribution to fire? You should write a book that lays bare the weaknesses and strengths of this competitive outsourcing process as it relates to wildland fire and the resource management agencies. Thing is: it's not sexy. But the reality is, most of us are not capable of understanding what it's all about. I think that extends to most of the model builders. Unfortunately, you may not be capable of that either.

Concerned, glad you wrote in and explained your comments. I apologize for my cynicism.
Ab,s sorry for going on.

NorCal Tom
9/25 Anyone have details on the engine that rolled over this afternoon?

I heard it was E13 off the Eldorado. Was anyone injured?

Hope it's not too bad.
9/25 Ab, a couple of rebuttal points about the post from Firescout

This person is way off base about the Feds using Cobra Helicopters for air attack.
1) We are not putting belly hooks on them as WP pointed out.
2) A new twin turbine commander is several million and the cost for 1 cobra
to be rebuilt to high standards is around $250,000.
3) We presently contract more aviation resources in fire management than
ever before in history. The cost of aviation in fires is also higher then
anytime in history. As a federal employee, I work for the American
Taxpayer and we are always looking for ways to reduce costs. This could
prove to be one of them.

9/25 go to www.fs.fed.us/fire/publications to find all of the FSM & FSH on the
public side.


Look under FSH 5109.17. (FSH= Forest Service Handbook). I just realized that Ab has the link posted on the links page under training and education. Original Ab.
9/25 Northzone 5,

I agree and I disagree with you. As a home owner in the interface, only affordable housing in the area near where I used to vol. and to my real job. I work very hard a conforming to the 30 ft clearance rule as well as most of my neighbors. If I have a neighbor that doesn't have good clearance I "try" to get them to comply with some friendly suggestions and some war stories. If the fool doesn't comply with clearance regulations then they deserve what happens to them, except it may impact all the rest of the neighbors who do comply.

But when we get double taxed, for the state and local fire departments I think that is a bit much. If I am double taxed does that mean I get twice the service, not likely. I would like to live in town with the streets swept, and sewer service, and all the things interface dwellers don't have. Then I would only have to pay for fire protection once, I ask you, is that fair. I don't know who you work for, but when I was a seasonal "brush bunny" for CDF we were told that "we are not the State Fire Department, we are there to protect the water shed." Last time I looked everyone in the state of California uses water from the water shed; therefore simple logic (you know common sense) says that everyone should pay. When the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection changes it's name to the California State Fire Department and replaces the local engines I get any time of year not just fire season, I can see paying the state. As it stands now I feel as if I am paying triple. Once to cut, hump, and haul the vegetation I do for clearance, second to my local fire protection agency and, now, third to the state. I don't get a price break for having my house in compliance, and for having a 6' fire trail around the property and hoses set out for fire if and when it happens. Hell I helped draw up the evacuation routes and still keep the local department updated on the conditions of the fire trails. (Once a firefighter always a firefighter!)

When cities call for assistance CDF and USFS help them out, and do the cities have to pony up money for the help in protecting the folks in side city limits. Usually not, that comes under the mutual aid agreements that various fire agencies have worked out. Well if the interfacers have to pay extra taxes then cities need to reimburse the state. Or will the state figure out some way to blame the interfacers and come up with even more fees and leave the mighty weight of city tax payers alone and just stick it to the folks who are vote poor. The money that I will have to pay for the "state fire protection" will not bankrupt me but it will mean money that I could have spent else where and maybe for something of better value. But some people will not have that luxury.

Retired Local Agency Volunteer Engineer.
P.S. Still young enough to fight fire and willing too!
9/25 Hey Ab,

In case no one else has written in, the 5109.17 electronic format that MTUnimog was looking for can be found at

http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed/directives/html/fsh.phpl .

I checked to see what was there and it looks to me like the official handbook.

Old dispatcher

That one is the fs internal web. Anyone know where the Public can access it? Original Ab.
9/25 Ab, re the comments about the "union".

People need to remember that we federal employees don't have a union in the normal active lobbying sense of the word. One branch of govt can't lobby another. We are the Dept of interior and Dept of agriculture and technically fall under the Executive Branch and operate at the whim of GWBush. We can't lobby congress, by that law, whatever it's called, it was passed during the kennedy presidency. Mellie knows that stuff but she's out of town.

Maybe the -union guy- could fill us in on what he can and can't do as a union representative and for what union and how it differs from the big labor unions, for example.

Tahoe Terrie

9/25 Re: Outsourcing debate. A possible insight. Or maybe just a can-o-worms.

I agree that outsourcing carried to the extreme many think it will be is a VERY BAD IDEA.
It will almost certainly cause more problems than it solves short term even if it does not go to that extreme. And the current outsourcing study process involved not only places a huge additional burden on current personnel but also seems like a slap in the face while they are complying. The limitations imposed on the study process also seem to reveal a lack of familiarity (by those in charge of the process) with the muti-tasking inherent in many job positions by failing to allow any way for fire related co-dutys to be taken into account during the study process. But opposing even just the study of outsourcing sounds "fishy" to many. So fishy that even the unions apparently won't actively oppose it.

And apparently there are currently some pretty strong arguments circulating among legislators for moving forward on a plan of outsourcing wildfire suppression more and more in the upcomming decade. In the order they were presented to me:

There have been louder and more adamant warnings from some legislators for at least 5 years that the not uncommon practice of diverting fire funds to "other uses" would result in a legislative reaction? Isn't outsourcing in large part a (possibly ill advised) program that is being proposed take that ability out of the hands of those who continued diverting appropriations despite these repeated warnings? I may just be "peeking through a keyhole" since I only know one legislator who seems familiar with this proposal. But his take on it is "They have been warned and warned and did not take the warnings seriously...and now we have to DO SOMETHING to remind them of who is the BOSS."

Personally I don't think the current proposal is the best course of action...but just opposing outsourcing without suggesting an alternative may not be very effective either. I don't think the argument that the current proposal will cost more tax dollars than the status quo will have much weight...or the argument that the folks most harmed have no control over the diversion of funds. From what little I can gather there are some (pretty big) egos that have been bruised and they don't care how much money it costs to "kick some a**."

And for those legislators that won't sign on because they remain unconvinced that they are losing control of their "subordinates" the argument that outsourcing will save money appears to work....since it currently looks pretty good...on paper. The current study proposal may in fact be an opportunity to show what the real cost will be.

A third argument heard (second hand) was that the GAOs' warnings of a national firefighter shortage went largely ignored by the USFS and BLM...and their effort to deal with it have been neither very effective or cost competitive. This was presented as "typical" of a huge bureaucracy unable to adapt to changing conditions and exaggerated by the fact that there is no single wild fire suppression "authority" and all decisions must be accepted by a triple bureaucracy before true implementation CAN BEGIN.

Finally...the "redundancy" of having three "competing" federal bureaucracies "coordinating" wildfire suppression has been largely accepted as extremely cost inefficient by our legislators. But all three agencies seem to agree that they do not want a single wildfire suppression agency which might prove less wasteful. The argument has been made (among legislators) that reducing all three concurrently by only allowing them to manage independent contractors would remove the current incentives attached to wildfire suppression.. and a separate wildfire "management" agency could be formed.. or that management could be handed off to one (USFS?) agency.

These arguments were pretty persuasive....and left me with no equally persuasive counter argument besides that even if outsourcing seemed like a good idea the current proposal was a sloppy and potentially dangerous way of implementing it.
His counter was "Yeah.. but if we stop to refine it now it will lose momentum. Outsourcing is working elsewhere and legislation can be always be changed later if necessary."

I was left (uncharacteristically) speechless.

Anybody want to help me out here?
What strong counter arguments are there to the above 4 "good reasons" why our nations legislators should actively move toward progressively outsourcing more and more fire suppression responsibility and resources?

9/25 Ab,

I found an interesting quote from Tuesday's Senate floor debate about amendment 1731 to stop funding of competitive outsourcing studies. The amendment sponsor, Senator Reid said:

"There wasn't a single union I put forward as favoring this. I am sure they do, but I haven't talked to them. But we have resorted to name-calling, saying this is bad because the unions like it. I am sure the unions do like it if, in fact, there are unions there. I don't really know. But this has nothing to do with unions. "

The amendment that did pass was 1754, that adds new reporting requirements for the Interior Dept. It doesn't stop the studies, but instead makes them more time and resource consuming.

vfd cap'n

9/25 Hi - I was just wondering if it would be possible for a
foreigner to gain work as a seasonal firefighter.
Chris Jones (London, England)
9/25 hi, on one of my sites i have shots of CDF and USF air attack units fighting a small wildfire near lake commanche california. the shots are not very dramatic, but i think they tell a story of what agencies like the cdf do on a community level.

would you be interested?

here's the link to that sections of my web site.

ronald tanaka, ph.d.
9/25 << going to jump into this "fray"
...tax property owners in CDF protection territory? YOU BETCHA!
double tax those who have trees and understory brush growing close to their homes; triple tax those with dead trees. if an elderly property owner: send a crew to clear a defensible space & an engine width road as a training exercise - at no expense, ONE TIME.

take a good look at urban interface property owners' "defensible space". even in many FED jurisdictions too many dwellers care mostly about their PURTY natural scenery & quaint trails.

Cali is a national joke (the recall circus aside)! residents want all the safeguards (multiple gov't assistance things & no new taxes; politicians are promising voters the moon). local government doesn't have the necessary resources; their budgets are shrinking faster than any drought season's stream. sadly other states are following suit.

when fire season is hot and heavy, local, state, or Fed FFs can't come running to bail them out nor can FEMA

9/24 The text of the amendment regarding “competitive sourcing” in the Senate Interior Appropriations Bill is posted at http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain/. Click on “Legislative update.”

I’ve said it before, but since it seems to be a hot topic right now, let me say it again. Being against the “competitive sourcing” initiative in no way, shape, or form equates to being against contractors. There’s plenty of champs and plenty of chumps on the roles in both agencies and contract firms.

Here’s what “competitive sourcing” really is. If you ran a business, how would you like it if somebody else told you how to run it? What if some bean-counter who knew nothing about your organization told you that you’d have to waste a whole bunch (and I mean a whole bunch!) of money and time performing a complicated bureaucratic procedure that might force you to outsource some of the work of your company? This doesn’t make any business sense whatsoever. But that’s exactly what this “competitive sourcing” does. Common sense doesn’t enter into the equation. All that matters is quotas and an incredibly complicated A-76 process.

Good business is for people in the organization who know what’s going on to make decisions about how to get the job done. If you need a contractor to get the job done, go hire one. If you think it would be more efficient to outsource some work, by all means let a knowledgeable decision-maker crank up a study to look at it. (One the other hand, if you think beefing up staff and doing the work in-house is better…)

But that’s not what “competitive sourcing” is about. It’s about quotas for outsourcing studies being shoved down the throats of agency employees by Washington politicians and bureaucrats, whether it makes any sense or not.

Being against this misnamed “competitive sourcing” has nothing to do with being against contractors. But being for it does mean being against agency personnel.

You want to increase efficiency in government? How about holding managers accountable for the organizations for which they are responsible? But that’s a topic for another day….

-- Union guy
9/24 Hi Folks,

Can anyone point me to an on-line version of 5109.17? All I'm
finding is a short list of amendments.


9/24 Firescout,

Don't know where you got your info, far as I know the feds are not re-fitting the Cobra's. Some states have acquired the surplus Cobras and are refitting them. Florida and Washington are two. All the armor is coming off and they are being fitted with belly tanks and hooks. Do a web search for "Fire Snakes" and see what you come up with.

As for the Feds buying new Commanders, it is my understanding that the Areo commander has not been made since 1985.


More information coming soon in the form of a FAQ from R5 FAM.
Original Ab.
9/24 Some links to the news
From Firescribe for the CDFer, LAVE, and others about the proposed additional CA firefighting fees for interface homeowners:

Supervisors oppose bill levying firefighting fees

WFU in MT: Official says letting fires burn sometimes can have great benefits... BUT

New Technology Helps Fire Managers Anticipate Smoke Problems

9/24 I Just want to add my two cents on the contractors and
fed resources.

I just did my first stint as a strike team leader on
the B and B complex and I wasn't to impressed with
what I saw. I'm sorry but the playing field in Region
6 isn't level at all. In the two weeks that I was
there, I had one Fed engine on the three different
divisions that I was on. I understand the need for
contractors but the feds need to be able to get their
people trained and seasoned too. How am I supposed to
get my people experience if they're not allowed to go
on large fire support? My strike team assignment was
more a baby sitting assignment than anything. I had
to release three engines in two weeks, one for drugs,
one from lack of work, and one for shotty equipment
that kept breaking down.

I know this isn't the norm because I did have some
great contract crews, but I feel if I had more fed
resources things would have gotten done quicker and
with less hassle. I don't see a whole lot of single
resource contractors (strike team leaders and above),
so if this is the route that the government is taking
then how are we going to get qualified people into
these positions, unless we fast track them ,and thats
just asking for trouble. I've seen enough unqualified
federal DIVS on that fire, people that I wouldn't even
let run a car, let alone a whole division.

So my point is lets make the playing field even and
try to get as many federal resources out as we do

9/24 To the FF moving to North Carolina and looking for contacts, NC Crew sent in info not for theysaid. Send Ab an email and I'll send it to you.

If anyone is interested, NC Crew said,

Ab, this is for the guy that was looking for info about a job in NC.
I am of little use in helping get a federal job in NC, but for the state
I may be able to help.

It might be worth posting that the state seasonals run the opposite
time frame from you guys out west. A state seasonal is typically
employed from November till May, approximately.

9/24 Here is a little info on the cost of a Contact crew. After running a 14 day assignment, the total cost for a type 2 handcrew was 103K and some change. That was the amount on the invoice I took back to the company owner. That comes out about $7357 per day.

Does anyone know the price comparison of that to a FED T2 crew, NON AD?

9/24 If you want a job, check the jobs page. It has been updated along with the series pages.

NC Crew, someone wrote in with a request for job information in NC. If you or anyone else in NC have any contacts for this person, please let me know.

Person with the NC job question, please contact me. I accidentally trashed your email.

9/24 Good Grief People,

Take a CHILL PILL or some deep breaths or something.

Tahoe Terrie

9/24 Where to start...

NorCal Tom- I am an agency firefighter, so you missed that one. I could give my agency email address, but as you choose to remain unknown to some of the us here, so do I.

To AJ and RW, I don't think I called either of you scums or the other words you used. Yes, I was a volunteer at one point in my career and I am very proud of that. You speak of doing the math about the costs of crews, go ahead do it you will find numbers very similar to what I said.

Hmm.. what else? The comment about the money, I get plenty of fire so I am not too awful concerned. The point I was getting at was the federal agencies have hired many more seasonal fire positions because of the National Fire Plan. I see college kids on my district not having a chance to get out and I would like to see a bit more equality that's all. I do agree that some of the employees in the office tend to get out of fire shape, but that is their call and if they can pass the pack test, then so be it. Have you seen some of the contractors out there?

Its funny to me that one persons opinion will cause people to get so bent out of shape. I love it. These are the types of discussions that we all need to have more often. I will do some more research and get some numbers.

9/23 Dear Ab,

A few questions for the concerned agencie firefighter. First How did you come up with the cost of a type one crew. The lowest figures I calculate for agency crews is $7400 per day (based on a 12 100 day week), did you include overtime, buggy purchase and upkeep, training, equipment, fuel, overhead to the overhead (payroll, HR, etc...) If you can qoute an accurate source for determining the cost then I would love to research it further. Second, Why are all contractors in it for the money? I do not know of any ground pounders or federal employees that say they would do it for free. I actually do IA for free all summer as a volunteer. I guess if it was just for the money I would let all these small starts get big. I also volunteer my time in several other faucets. Do you volunteer? I know I am a scumy contractor, a piece of garbage!! However I still am cheaper per hour then any agency engine, have more experience then most staffers of engines, just as good as equipment (PLUS) and work harder! But I am still a contractor:(.

I would agree that we still need agency fire fighters!! I do not see how the system would ever work without them! I think we would have alot more fires get beyond IA. I just hope those qouting facts and figures get them straight first.

My two cents
9/23 Interesting reading, this outsourcing by the government to private contractors for men and equipment. Just the reversal for the Aviation Industry, the US Forest Service is trying to Insource the use of helicopters and weed out the private contractors who have been doing this fire fighting stuff for years. Hear tell the USFS has acquired a number of surplus Cobra Helicopters to be utilized as air attack aircraft only. Wonder why they are putting belly hooks on them, maybe to drop water and sling cargo? Hear tell, the USFS could buy two brand new twin engine turbo Commanders for the cost of operating one Cobra. Sounds like the whole system needs a going over!!!!

9/23 Concerned,

I had no intention, and still don't have, of getting embroiled in this outsourcing debate. Not that I don't care. I've read all I can get my hands on to understand it. I genuinely do want to understand. But, to date, I do not. My intent here is to ask you to be certain of your facts before throwing them out.

For example: --> "If the general public knew the difference in costs using agency resources vs contractors, they would probably have more to say. Most agency type 1 hotshot crews run somewhere around $2500 per day. Type 2 contractor crews can be as much as 3 times that amount."

I would very much appreciate your substantiating that claim, Concerned. I'd also like to see your cost analysis side by side provided in this very public and very visible venue. Be sure to factor in agency crew overtime, retirement and other benefit costs. Don't forget to show your analysis in comparable terms. I'll shoot you an Excel spreadsheet with the formulas and let you fill 'em in. And then be sure to share it with all of us.

--> " Lets be honest, agency fire folks have more training and qualifications that come from time on the fireline."

Again, Concerned, such a generalization is absolutely absurd, especially today when there are a lot of former agency folks who have decided to work for, or as contractors. Does their fire experience become null and void because they've left the agency they formerly worked for? Who exactly are you referring to? It would be helpful to know.

I'm not claiming a position on competitive outsourcing, and feel the issues are much more complex than they may appear. The economics, ethics, business sense, loyalty factors, logistics, etc. present a puzzling quagmire...at least for me...and I REALLY have been trying to fathom the concept. I think I'll just keep trying without filling in the blanks with generalizations and unfounded claims. As both a U.S. citizen who pays taxes...which pays for your salary and your benefits...and as a business person working in the same industry as you, I'm hopeful I will come to a satisfactory understanding. I will try to do so without maligning you, your chosen profession or your agency. It's called respect...which leads to my last request...

The agency employee tendency in this whole competitive outsourcing debate appears to be to dump the financial woes of the fire world on the (seemingly) hordes of unethical, untrained, money mongering, ill-equipped contractors. There is consistently only a slight off-handed mention of the solid, high-quality, safety-minded contractors working in the fire suppression industry. I will tell you now, I've already had my fill of that unbalanced view. It's not correct. It appears the majority of those complaints (here?) come from fire folks. Well, perhaps agency fire folks should sit down at the table with agency contracting folks and insist on administration of the standards and contract specifications that are in place, and where there are not standards, work with contractors and your agency's contracting staff to develop and implement them. In the business world, it's called "Quality Control."


2nd post:
Sorry, I just can't hold this in...

Concerned said -->" I am a federal employee and I do feel that we, "the agency folks", should have the opportunity to get out on more fires. That has become such a challenge because of the huge numbers of contractors. Yes, some of the people do have good equipment, training, and crew members, but there are also that group who just want to make a buck."

And the difference here is ??????????????? This doesn't apply to you? You don't just "want to make a buck" Concerned? Or do you just want to fight fire because its so darn fun? I have story for ya...since we're talking about all those highly qualified agency folks who are being beat out their rightful fire jobs by those big, bad contractors...

A few years back I had to track down a pack test and Standards class. This was in our early beginnings. Now we provide our own Pack Test and require our folks to attend S130 & S190 with the I-100 component just to start. After finding the Pack Test and Standards class, three of us attended. During the Pack test portion (administered, by the way, by an unnamed governmental fire fighting agency) I took the test with a group of about 12 agency folks. These people were being packed tested so they could work on the fire line. They were long-term employees. Yep, been there awhile. Several of them had girths three times my own. Before the pack test started, I figured out the pace I would need to keep to finish in the allotted time, and I kept that pace. I thought it was odd that many of the agency folks didn't keep my pace. I wasn't really in that great of shape and, honestly, was a bit nervous about successfully completing the WCT. I did though, but not by very much. It was kind of nerve wracking. I kept watching my watch. I saw a couple of folks come in after me but before the time limit expired. The rest came trickling in after the time limit but didn't seem too awfully concerned. Guess why? They got their cards anyway.

Quality Control should be an issue inside the fire fighting agencies as well as the private sector. Assuming that all agency personnel are highly qualified is an unsubstantiated assumption. Oh, and this is where I'm supposed to mention that...Ok, well, there are SOME "good agency fire people out there."

Does this seem balanced? Or should have I expounded on the extensive experience of Hot Shot crews and Smokejumpers? How about engine crews and their supervisors? How about the wisdom and managerial expertise of IMT teams, ICs, OPs, FMOs, etc.? You bet. Let's do that. And then let's keep things balanced, Concerned.

Concerned with maintaining a level playing field...
9/23 The early returns are in, and the news is not good. The amendment that would block Interior competitive outsourcing was defeated. Senators Voinovich (R-OH) and Thomas (R-WY) slipped in an alternative amendment at the last minute on the Senate floor, and it was passed instead. We’ll update you on the details of this amendment when they become available (it is not yet posted on the Internet).

The next step in the legislative process will be for the House and Senate to resolve the differences in the Interior Appropriations Bill in Conference. We will have to redouble our efforts at that time to achieve a favorable outcome. We may have lost this battle, but our deep-pocketed opponents shouldn’t count us out just yet. Those of us on the front lines know the truth. We just need to sing it out even louder.

For those of you who helped in this campaign, you have my deepest thanks. For those of you who stood by on the sidelines, we’ll need your help more than ever next time around.

-- Union guy

Thanks for doing your professional best and reporting back. Ab.
9/23 Hate to bust any reactionary bubbles, here, but don't you think Concerned
Agency FF is a contractor who is trying to divide and conquer? I've seen this
kind of post in the past. Cleverly crafted, just enough truth to provoke? Wonder
how many contractors he will reel in this time? Ironic that one post from a so
called Agency FF will likely inflame many others.

The one disadvantage of an anonymous website. Ab, am I right?

NorCal Tom

You know better than asking, Tom. I wouldn't say if I knew. Oath of the Abs.
Readers, you must form your own conclusions. This is the internet. There have been trawlers before. In the good old days there was even a trawling competition over frivolous funny stuff.

Maybe Concerned Agency Firefighter will write in with his/her bona fides, like what agency if any. Ab.
9/23 Concerned Agency Firefighter - your comments

"Most agency type 1 hotshot crews run somewhere around $2500 per day" - is completely baseless.

Look at the math.

20 personnel @ 2500 a day is 125.00$ a person.

I dont think many would work 12-18 hours a day for that rate.
Where is overtime?
The 100K crew buggies, clothing, saws, chaps, tools, insurance, claims, food, diesel, gasoline, goggles, radios, nomex, overhead, buggy maintenance, tires, etc?

For a true comparison you have to factor in all of the costs - Then divide by the number of hours a crew works fire in a season. You still think its 2500.00? How many of us have seen crews (agency) sitting around doing frivolous project work waiting for fire?

the government knows this, and that is why outsourcing looks good. A private handcrew is paid to fight fire. Not maintain a station, pull weeds, or anything else. All of the costs are absorbed into the rate the company charges their client. Fire starts they come, fires out - they go.

thats just the way I see it.
Figure out all of the costs before you state a number simply to make an argument.

later ab - thanks for the forum.

Thanks for the balanced reply, Eric.
9/23 Ab,

I saw that Montana's Sen. Burns has offered another amendment to the
Interior appropriations bill to replace the $79 million that the agencies
diverted from other program areas for this year's fires. Couldn't find out
the status of the anti-outsourcing amendment, but we can all take comfort
that there's also an amendment to ban commercial advertising at special
events on the National Mall.

vfd cap'n
9/23 Outsourcing:

Just winding down my season with an assignment on the B & B Complex, and I would like to add my 2 cents about outsourcing. Each time I get out on a large fire, I see more contractors. I am a federal employee and I do feel that we, "the agency folks", should have the opportunity to get out on more fires. That has become such a challenge because of the huge numbers of contractors. Yes, some of the people do have good equipment, training, and crew members, but there are also that group who just want to make a buck.

If the general public knew the difference in costs using agency resources vs contractors, they would probably have more to say. Most agency type 1 hotshot crews run somewhere around $2500 per day. Type 2 contractor crews can be as much as 3 times that amount. Engines would be about the same difference. Like I said, some of the crews are hard working crews. Some have people that just fill a spot to bring in the $$$. Have you seen some of the engines out there? What a joke. Lets be honest, agency fire folks have more training and qualifications that come from time on the fireline.

What about the National Fire Plan and the funding that was allocated to hire more agency fire personnel? We did hire more people, but now we have more people staying on district so the contractors can go fight fires. Contractors should be used to supplement the agencies needs, not the other way around. In my opinion, wearing a shirt that says "initial attack wildland firefighter" does not make you a professional firefighter. Nor should it take jobs away from people who want to finish their career with a federal agency.

Concerned Agency Firefighter
9/23 To Onelick:

Soren Erikssons falling method is a little more demanding of saw
skills. Concerning the face; matching a level first cut with a conventional
45 degree from above is the easiest to learn, then the humboldt, then two
45 degree cuts on Sorens method is a little more difficult yet. Boring is
also a technique where a learner can get into trouble with kick back or
cutting off the holding wood with the saw grabbing its way toward the face.
Not that these things can't be done. BUT, a learning 18-20 year old sawyer
is better off walking before running.

While Sorens methodology does reduce the likelihood of barber chairs,
not just because of the wide face, but also due to the boring cut
accomplishing more of the back-cut prior to the tree committing. Mr.
Eriksson's face is not a requirement to avoiding a barber chair. Simply
making a large conventional or humboldt face with a boring back-cut is just

One caution with any boring back-cut; if the last bit of wood to be
cut has any possibility of grabbing a root, it can be pulled up and under
Murphy's Law, will without exception strike the Faller as the tree goes. My
thanks to Glen B. on avoiding this hazard.

Additionally many mills in the West are fairly insistent on the
humboldt as it gives them a flat surface to work from when cutting up the

Now, if its not a leaner with a sufficient guarantee of going in the
direction you want it. How do you apply wedges on a boring back-cut?
Placing the wedges just at the hinge, then resuming the back-cut is simply
not effective on a lot of weight.

One thing you can do to wedge on this boring back cut, is only cut out
about 75% of the back-cut, leaving a pillar of sorts to finish on one side.
Place your wedge(s) on the opposite side that you did cut fully out the
back. Then go to the other side (Only if its safe), place your bar in the
cut and finish that portion of the back-cut. Again, more difficultly in the
technique required. Since you're not gaining anything on many trees, I.E.
when a barber chair isn't possible if you have an adequate face, why bother
with a boring back-cut.

Lastly, a slight argument can be made that a humboldt face can work
with a 2" or so stump shot to prevent the butt kicking back at the faller.
This 2" stump shot is a common safety practice, but I have found none that
can verify its success with either a conventional undercut or Sorens

In short, safety needs to be easy. If it takes one extra syllable, one
more step or a new piece of gear. Safety is a giant leap.

Keep it simple. The boring back-cut on some heavy leaners and trees
like alder is a worthwhile consideration.

Did I mention that boring back-cuts on trees in the WESTERN US is a
challenge when your 32" bar don't begin to make it through?
If the large snag you're dropping has a fair amount of rot, are you
ready to have it set down on your bar when you bore in?

Fuels Guy

Ya got anyone to nominate for the Stihl Heroism Award? Click the banner at the top of the page to see about it. Ab.
9/23 To anyone who can help me out:

I have just taken a job on a forest in Region 8 as an apprentice. What I am trying to do is arrange one of the details i must complete. The 1st detail I would like to do is a helitack detail. So anyone who knows a good place to start please let me know <thru Ab>. Also, as a selling point: whomever I get detailed to gets me for free for my base 8's.

9/22 Just a note on outsourcing-

This does not ONLY affect the USDA- the DOI is also affected. Heck it started with DOD.
NPS, BLM and others are affected.

I know my job will be up on the block in about 1 year if this is not stopped. I love working with contractors (have one working for me now) but I firmly believe that some positions need a government worker in them. I have a relative that worked for DOD (high level rocket scientist type) and his reaction to the outsourcing was that it ruined their facility and impaired their ability to do business. Let's not let that happen to us.

For the record:
BLM California has completed 13 Express Studies of our Facilities Maintenance function and determined that in each case the work will be retained by BLM.

Keep the fight up for all governmental employees- and where it is prudent let's outsource what we can. There is room for both the contractors and the government employees.

Thanks for the minute on the soapbox,

One of the issues with competitive sourcing as it is now being done is that these studies are very time consuming for public servants who have other full-time responsibilities.

In addition, this is much more complicated than the public realizes. So far, there has been no way for agency people to get "credit" for their collateral duties which include fire duties. For example, IT (Information Tech people) who are on fire teams cannot count their work in fire as part of their job. Even if they research and win their continued IT appointment, will they be restricted now from serving on fire teams because it's not part of their job description? If they loose the appointment, are we going to put contractor computer people on fire teams? Talk about potential vulnerability of a system and potential conflict-of-interest. Old Fire Guy says we can't have contractors on fire teams because of the inherently governmental nature of teams. So what happens to the fire teams? Who is going to stupervise? um, supervise?

9/22 Some info on the contract issue from last week:

I was talking with two friends the other day about the multiple issues in contracting out fire jobs and this was what they said:

One main issue is best value resources vs those that just want to make a buck and leave. Two other issues are that 1) the government has become a "contract dependent" organization but 2) lacks the infrastructure to administer the workload.

Examples include over 600 pieces of water handling apparatus and 300 crews under contract in the PNW alone with a grand total of 4 people to administer the contracts. What happens is a Div. Supt. or STL becomes the contract administrator on the ground and has no knowledge or training in how to resolve issues.

When I asked about large vs small contractors and established (with a track record) vs newer (with no reputation)... and then threw in conflict of interest issues, they replied,

Reputable Contractors make the business decision to offer the best people with the best equipment at the best value. The best Contractors make a decision to turn down jobs if it isn't the right thing to do for the Agency or for the Contractor. Neither Contractor nor Agency want to spend valuable time defending an order when there is even a perception of conflict ... Bad Business.

All ICs are acutely aware of the perception issue and steer away from making decisions that can create misperceptions. The government has dealt severe penalties for conflict of interest behavior and no one, Agency or Contractor, wants a taste of that.

Do misperceptions occur anyway? Yes, people - including the many Contractors whose resources have not been called - see events and interpret them based on their own interests, fears, and experiences.

The other issue is that the government hasn't chosen quality over quantity for contract resources. 600 pieces of water handling apparatus for one geographic area are clearly just too much. Contractors, even good ones, wind up fighting over crumbs and this makes enemies out of good friends.


9/22 I disagree that the Abs taking a political stance is a harbinger of "They
Said" moving to the right or the left of the political mainstream. "They
said" is considered by many to be the official under-recurring voice of the
global wildland fire community - and it owes it to its readership to
support efforts that help maintain high levels of experience, skills and
leadership needed to operate the US fire machine. (Case in point - Montana
2003 / in 2004 will be looking for 5,000 experts from down-under instead of
50, if we unable to fill "inherently governmental" positions? And, at what
rate of reduced savings???)

Yesterday, the Asst. Secretary of Agriculture attended several stops on an
agricultural tour around the state of Idaho. At one stop, he was asked
about his number one priority and it was competitive outsourcing. Other
priorities: E-Gov't and public information sharing and outreach; Financial
information management; Budget Performance; and the value of Human capital
- which feeds right back into Competitive Sourcing issues. Given the role
of USDA in the Federal Response Plan - with primary responsibility for
wildland fire fighting, food distribution, and even Urban Search and Rescue
- it is vitally important to know how high this topic is on Executive level
radar screen as even the USDA is a key player in these issues and more -
including Homeland Security. One thing the Secretary encouraged was for
people to speak because he likes to listen, and he also indicated to
multiple audiences, that listening and communication lead to change; ergo
- "let the people speak."

"They Said" provides a communication - education service, and much like
some of the earlier, pre 2000, national environmental dialogues, many
recognized conservation groups took "point" for issues like banning
pesticides (DDT - "Silent Spring"), clean air and clean water. "They Said"
- as an information advocate - should take the "point" to help people
understand what is being said among the professional firefighters what is
needed to preserve an overall wildland fire community that keeps what works-
fully intact; unless and until someone BUILDS a worthier fire service;
however, not at the cost of the only working fire service that we have!

Not only should the Senate be contacted, but don't stop there - let the
Asst Secretary of Agriculture also know how you feel. If the chain of
command does not work for you and you have valid points to offer - seek
another route on the information highway. After all - this is a prime
issue that goes way beyond just firefighting! USDA, Abe Lincoln described,
is the "Agency of the People." People are the Human Capital in the
equation of change - make it a positive value, and use information
multipliers such as E-gov't . Understand there is an openness to the
discussion and people will listen.

Let's face it, "They Said" would have been written off a long time ago if
it didn't share information, and informally "lobby" for firefighter
concerns; ("safety anybody"). The editors have proven they can share
information and encourage public participation at a high professional
level. Let's not argue but support the opportunity. If not "They Said",
then "who?"

Also, it was indicated that Comp. Sourcing is a bigger issue at the Cabinet
table. Let's not get fooled again. Participate to educate. Keep it
balanced but keep it going - (it also appears that so far with the
tremendous response from the public and government employees - that the
issue may be moving from the boiling point to the simmer stage. We have an
election coming up and if the heat stays on - maybe the next cook will try
a different approach. Just look at how the polls have changed - 2004 could
be very surprising. -

-- Beefeater.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture is Jim Mosely. Ab.
9/22 Hey Abs,

Just for the record. You're in good company with the "Isabel" pictures.
The first time I saw the first Isabel picture (the one with the front of the
ship in it) it was aired on Fox News...you know the "Fair and Balanced"
and ACCURATE news station.

9/22 AB,

Just wondering if a formal Civil Rights Impact Analysis has been completed before beginning the Out Sourcing bidding?

There are numerous individuals that might be affected that are not even Govt, Employees. The local mom and pop stores etc. will probably not be used by big business. The handicap and disadvantaged business will not be used as well because there will be no way to mandate that. There will be no mandate to recycle paper as well. Just thinking of all the things we do not that will go out the window if out sourcing were to happen.

In the fleet area the plan is to center operations in depots, Has there been a formal Transportation Plan completed? What about an Formal Environmental Impact Study? By building depots, might air quality and noise pollution increase?

Nerd on the fireline,

Get on the military surplus screening program. You would be surprised what you could get.

formerly Wondering
9/22 Abs,
I've been a regular lurker and occasional contributor for several years.

You've always run an invaluable, discrete, even-handed forum for the diverse wildland community. While I have concerns with some facets of the Outsourcing Initiative, I don't believe the mission of your unique forum is served by becoming a political banner for one interest or another. Abs, while often pithy--even profound--in their quips, have been restrained in their stated political views.

I hope this hasn't changed.

Snake River Sparky

Hi Sparky, your contributions to theysaid have been valuable.

I think it is no secret that the Abs are against the level of outsourcing that is currently being done and being proposed for the future. We do keep our political views under wraps to a large extent, and since you asked directly if we would continue to be even-handed, we reply "yes" -- as even-handed as in the past.

We Abs have always made comments here, often political comments if you read back through the archives. Some readers at the top, at the bottom, or inbetween don't like them when it relates to their status, their issue or their livelihood. Issues come, issues go. Wait a week or two and it will change. Ab.
9/22 Ab,

I am glad to see so many people finally becoming engaged in the battle to defeat Competitive Sourcing. The battle is not won yet, but it can be won by those who always win the important battles.......those closest to the ground and the resources. It only takes a few second to send an e-mail to your Senator. I had a chance today to ask Deputy Sec. of Agriculture Mosely a question about CS and my question got more applause than his answer (which got no applause).

When the battle against CS is won it will be interesting to see how many high level "leaders" come out saying that they never believed in it to begin with. They will always know, however, that the real heroes are the ones who took the time to engage and win.

9/22 Pine Creek north of Hoopa and Redwood Creek, both on the
Six Rivers NF were burning today. Smoky... Hope they picked
them up on IA. It was close to 90 degrees in Hoopa and hot on
the coast too. I agree with SBNF Lookout Vollie, it's not over in
NorCal either.

Don't forget to send that fax or make that phone call to your

9/22 Some interesting discussion going on, check familysaid. Ab.
9/22 Ab, the first picture of what appears to be Hurricane Isabel as viewed
from a tanker bridge on the Fire 19 page is definitely a hoax. Please click http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_isabel_photo.php and read
about it at urbanlegends.about.com. I suspect the second picture might
also be a hoax. It looks like a picture of a mesocyclonic (SEVERE) thunderstorm
getting ready to drop a funnel. I used to see those occasionally when
I lived in the San Antonio, TX area.

Stay safe. The season here in SoCal isn't over by a longshot.

SBNF Lookout Vollie

Shucks, it seems like aside from fire, the hoaxes are the most interesting ones. We never did post the photo of the kid standing on top of the world trade center as the airplane approached. We KNEW that one was a hoax. Ab.
9/22 Hi Ab,

Just called every Senator on your list and also emailed Wyden and Smith. Hope this helps.


Nothing like having the home forces behind us. Ab.
9/22 Senate Amendment 1731 to the Interior Appropriations Bill is the amendment
that would stop the arbitrary outsourcing of FS jobs by "competitive
sourcing." The amendment is scheduled to be debated and voted on by the
Senate Tuesday afternoon. Not everyone can fax or email a letter, but most
folks have the technology and the time to make a phone call. The vote is
going to be very close on this. Word is that the Senators listed below are
"on the fence." Especially if you live in one of the states listed below,
call your Senators and ask them to support Senate Amendment 1731 to the
Interior Appropriations Bill. Then call a dozen folks you know and ask them
to do the same.
 Sen. Smith - Oregon           202-224-3753
 Sen. Craig - Idaho            202-224-2752
 Sen. Crapo - Idaho            202-224-6142
 Sen. Burns - Montana          202-224-2644
 Sen. Thomas - Wyoming         202-224-6441
 Sen. Enzi - Wyoming           202-224-3424
 Sen. Nighthorse Campbell - CO 202-224-5852
 Sen. Allard - Colorado        202-224-5941
 Sen. McCain - Arizona         202-224-2235
 Sen. Kyl - Arizona            202-224-4521
 Sen. Domenici - New Mexico    202-224-6621
-- Union guy

Citizens, please do this on non-govt time. Ab.
9/22 Ab, It's lunch time. I'm having trouble getting my fax through. The line is busy. Any suggestions?

Tahoe Terrie

Get it ready and do it tonight. Give them a call. Let them know your views. You can find their Washington phone numbers here: www.senate.gov/ Ab.
9/22 Re Competitive Outsourcing action:

I went through the process of contacting my Senators from California. Here's the info for faxing them. Their voice phone numbers, should you want them, are provided on the link on the Behind the Curtain website. There's also a good letter there that I had to modify because I do not work for the Forest Service... But it does hit the critical issues.

Senator Barbara Boxer
415-956-6701 (fax)
San Fran. number but they get forwarded immediately to Washington
112 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510 (for your faxed letter)

Senator Diane Feinstein
202-228-3954 (fax)
331 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510 (for your faxed letter)

If anyone else has Senators' fax numbers for those from your state, please send them in.

9/22 The Senate will be debating a moratorium on “competitive” outsourcing today, and will likely vote on the measure tomorrow. It is highly unlikely that many Senators understand the role of ICS in Homeland Security. They probably don’t understand the detrimental effects that random, quota-driven A-76 outsourcing could have on Homeland Security. It is not only in your self-interest to let them know, I feel it is your patriotic duty to do so.

All the information you need to get involved is at http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain/. Take a few minutes and participate in democracy.

To those cynics who say the politicians don’t listen, I say, how can you tell if you don’t speak up! If you are silent now, then when the bureaucrats and politicians tear the thing apart and you’re looking for someone to blame, you won’t have far to look. It’ll be that face in the mirror.

-- Union guy
9/22 FM,

I wish I could be at the roundtable in Dec. but, I'm just a lowly peon grunt
firefighter that has to pay for the plane ticket, lodging, meals, etc. out
of my own pocket. Trust me, I wish I had more to do with the wildland side
rather than the structural side. I'd much rather be out in the woods, than
humping hose up the fourth floor of a rundown rowhouse.

Consider me there in spirit,
9/22 I know the fire season is not over yet, but it is for me because I have to go back to college. I'm wondering if anyone can suggest a good forest to apply to next fire season. I didn't get to go out west this summer as an AD, ROSS fixed that up for us. We got mobed in about a month ago and then sent home but there is always next year. Well everyone stay safe out there.

Fireman Phil
9/21 One Lick...

My thoughts are....be at the Roundtable, Dec. 8 & 9. It comes as close as anything has ever come to a professional faller think tank. In addition to fallers, invites are going out to all IMT ICs & OPS, Regional Power Saw Coordinators, NWCG & its regional arms (PNWCG etc.).

In other words....(not sure who actually said this to me, but I remember it...)
The world is decided by those who show up.

Thanks for offering up your thoughts.

9/21 Hey everyone,

Here's a couple of thoughts and comments regarding the faller's
classifications and skills. Here in Pa. they are teaching the "Soren
Eriksson's Game of Logging" method of falling. For those of you who aren't
familiar with the method, it is a 90 degree (or more) face cut with a boring
cut at the hinge, wedging and cutting the backstrap. I know that is a super
simplified description of it, but that is the gist of the method. After
using the usual 45 degree face cut with a "chasing" backcut for years, then
learning the "new" method, I'd say the "Soren" method is much safer, and
allows the faller to take one last look around to make sure no one walked in
where they aren't supposed to be before cutting the backstrap. Also, with
the 45 degree cut, the tree only has to fall 45 degrees before the face cut
closes and then what happens? All kids of stuff, it could spin off the
stump, barber chair, all the fun things that you don't want it to do. We've
gotten some funny looks from some uneducated people when we bring that
method out west, but then they ask all kinds of questions when we are done.

Any thoughts from the powers that be on maybe changing the way the Feds
teach the class? Please look into the method before you automatically say
no. Any thoughts FM?


By the way, Why would you WANT to hit a bull on the ass with a bass fiddle?
I've worked with both and it's not a good idea!!!
9/21 Ab-

I've been reading the comments on the CL215's in Cali. Although I've never worked with this type of tanker, I would think they are perfect for the location they are in. With an entire ocean to dip out of, turn around times would be unbelievably quick.

I know this is off subject, but I had the privilege of working with the two of the three FS owned Beavers up in Minnesota this year. Great pilots, very accurate and turn around times up there are so fast you can barely get in to work between drops. Needless to say, I was impressed at how effective these aircraft are in this fuel type. Yeah it's only something like 70 gallons, but more than once it was all we needed.

That's about all for me...have a good one all and be safe!

RHS 20
9/20 Hear, hear (and about time) to On_Fire for being able to clearly express the opinion (BUT, BUT, THE KING HAS NO CLOTHES, SHOUTED THE CHILD!), that I also share regarding a few posts wherein the authors pretty much had it figured out that if they couldn't fall a tree, it shouldn't be felled. Or at least they seemed to think all C fallers were created equal. I thought I'd withhold my opinion until at least one other person saw the illogic of those views. I was a little surprised it took so long.

I received my C faller certification around 1981. After that I had numerous experiences with snags I hope others can avoid. I've had one virtually crumble from about 10 feet up (yes, I sounded it and it was solid at the bottom and as far up as I could reach with my axe). I was hit and tumbled by a couple large pieces as they fell, but they were glancing blows. My pride was more injured than my shoulders or head. I've had another spin off the stump on me and drive my powerhead into the ground about 12". Wrecked that saw too, but again, just my pride rather than my body suffered.

Just in case you get the idea that I think I'm John Wayne with a 36" bar and a powerhead, I'll also say that I've walked away from many other snags that scared the living @$##% outt'a me. One of them was fallen by another more experienced agency C faller and a couple others were done by contractors. I met and congratulated the agency faller on his tree and said "well done"! It was an old cat-face which had burned again until it had burned through on two sides leaving a "tripod" with a fairly large backbone leaning on two legs. I was sure if I cut either one of them to initiate my face cut that it would twist or buckle on me. The person who felled the tree, maybe to make me feel better, maybe not, said that it WAS a tough cut. I had them describe in detail how they did it and after that still decided I would walk away again in the same circumstances. I've never been derided for choosing to walk away from a tree or snag I was uncomfortable with, at least not to my face. And, after 15 years as a class C faller in my background, I have made it to retirement. And, yes, least you think I began shirking my duties, there were many other opportunities for me to perform as expected and drop those trees needing it.

So, my point in support of On_Fire is that all resources, regardless of apparent similar classification, are not equal, nor should they be considered as such when issuing assignments. For anyone to think or say that a new class C faller with perhaps one season of experience who has fallen 2-3 trees should dictate to another who has 20-30+ years of experience, or perhaps to a contractor who falls trees daily for a living, exposes a severe logic deficit.

Original Ab (Now retired, still gets goose bumps thinking of the one that crumbled)

Hi Original Ab. Congrats on your retirement. Glad to see you're back up an' runnin'. Ab.
9/20 Do you know anyone on the Baker River 'Shot crew? Nice article in the local newspaper:


FF's Dad

Some nice photos. Ab.

9/20 Good Saturday morning to you all,

Just finished up another round of photos. Everything from buggies, dozers and the McCall Jumper base chute and ready rooms that I put on Equipment 6 photo page to Airtankers flying overhead and on the runways on Airtankers 8 and Airtankers 9 photo pages. We also have a new helicopter dipping for the Ridge Fire photo on Heli 12 and a new Rhonda Fire flames photo on Fire 19. Thanks contributors.

You might want to flip over to familysaid to see a pair of photos linked from there. Bambi, NC Crew and Brush 6 should definitely get a gander at these. Wow. Thanks TC.

Readers, we'd like to draw your attention to a new artist, Terry Wofford (Wofford Studio, the Art of Flight), represented on the Classifieds page under Books/Videos/Art. Some of you who read the Airtankers Pilots Message Board probably know her work . She does fine images of AirTankers and now has a new and very nice "call of the wildfire" t-shirt for sale. Check it out.


9/20 Dear Ab,

I couldn't agree with Fed Up more. The lowest priced, closest resource concept is not best value. If dispatch did their job right there would be no reason to fire chase. It is still OK to pre-position equipment to areas but it is not right to fire chase (show-up at an incident without a dispatch order).

Also, I would like to apologize to Oregon and Washington Contractors for past statements that I have made regarding their crummy equipment; I have recently returned from Montana and they hold the world record for worst performing and looking junk equipment in the contracting world. Several of the private Montana engines we worked with could not draft, many firefighters wore no PPEs and had zero training. At one fire I witnessed a 500 gallon tank and pump fall out of the 3/4 ton truck at a cattle guard! On another fire the contract engine we were working with had no PPEs, no fire shelters, no license plates, and no fire hose. The local overhead demobed our $100,000. engine before they got rid of the junk. The reason; we weren't Locals. I thought Americans were all supposed to be equal and it shouldn't matter what state we are from. If an engine is signed-up for less than $125.00 an hour, I am sure it has no insurance, liability or workmans' comp. All private firms need to be held to the National standards. If the locals can't cut it, then go back to roping cows or what ever they do.

I think a 2 level contract system may need to be implemented. There still needs to be a way for new contractors to be able to enter the market place but the older, established firms that have made contracting what it is still need to be put into play. The National Contract Crews and Engines need priority in hiring so that the Government resources are comfortable when Contractors are called in. These private resources have already gone through extensive pre-season qualifications screening and in fact would never have been granted a contract if they couldn't meet all of the National standards and guidelines.

Chrome Polisher

Readers, let me remind people to stay on issues and try to be civil. There's no need to make your post a personal affront to get your ideas across. Ab.
9/20 How long is it going to take to get the recreational boaters off of Lake
Arrowhead, Silverwood or Big Bear Lake to utilize the Scoopers? How
effective is water even if enhanced with foam? How long will foam and water
last on the ground before being burned through?

I have seen the CL-215's in action twice in Malibu in 1993 and 1996, both
times neither pilot could hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle, and the
sea water they dropped had no effect on the santana wind driven fires.

9/19 I have a question for the one that is commenting on the CL-215, what is
the big problem with a water scooper sitting at a base there in cali? For
one there is nothing wrong with that type of air tanker, for one for where
you are located at you would have great turn around times, hell of lot more
water then those damn OVER RATED CDF helicopters. so what ever
your problem is get over it. what ever we do in our fire positions, we are
in the game together.... Its called TEAM WORK!!!!!!

Fire God Tut

Tut, Tut, Tut, you Fire God, we bad. I think those comments were made with a great deal of tongue in cheek. You know how it is at the end of the season when tensions run high either because of too much work and too much OT, or too little. I think the people commenting are just blowingoff steam, having a chuckle... If you look back through the archives, you'll see we don't have a whole lot of commentary about AirTankers here. Most go to the AT pilots message board for that. However, you're welcome to join us. We have some fine scooper pics in our AirTanker photo gallery. Ab.
9/19 This is a request...we would very much like at extend an invitation
to the 2003 Timber Faller Roundtable to D. Douglas Dent. My
calls have not been returned. I've been trying for 6 months. If anyone
would like to relay the message that we're trying to get in touch with
him, we would very much appreciate it.


Could you also relay that we're trying to reach him for input on Paul Gleason's contributions to chainsaw safety. If he'd write in here, we'd really appreciate it. Thanks. Ab.
9/19 Ab, Bambi, and others,

In regard to the hurricane and what it did to my area; it was pretty minor damage. Winds peaked out at only 50 mph. Fortunately my general region is a pine ecosystem, so not to many trees went down and the storm sped up so not much in the way of flooding. However, where brush 6 would be; Duck (it's a real place...a really nice coastal town) and anywhere along the outer banks from Atlantic City north got hammered pretty bad (north east part of the state). I would say that Va. got hit worse then my hometown did. If you are curious about anything this news site is pretty good: www.wral.com

And just for giggles, station 11 in my city got dispatched to a grass fire during the hurricane. Go figure. Any fire behavior analyst got a take on that?

9/19 Throwing a word in on the outsourcing debate.

Union Guy
You sit there and complain that large-scale collateral duties making up a significant workload aren't looked at in the outsourcing debate, worrying that you may lose your job to outsourcing. Look at the other side of the picture, people with jobs just like you. There always seem to be some good words about contractors but when they need work just like everyone else, it's stay at home and wait for the big season to hit your spot every few years. Does this keep contract crews proficient at their job? No.

Sure, firechasing involves money, but most are doing it because they are firefighters and they just want to do their job. It's not all unscrupulous business as people are led to believe. If a little common sense was used as a whole, the system would be improved. What needs to be done is that the number of contract crews should be limited and or graded so that a low cost/ closest resource is not the one always called, what a novel concept to actually look at performance.

I agree that complete disbandment of the fire system isn't the best idea, but limited outsourcing could be beneficial and may help the politics of dispatching. As to Union Guys quote about ethnic cleansing, it was totally absurd and wholly inappropriate for simple outsourcing, get a life.

And vfd cap'n, you implying that Fox News is unfair and unbalance just shows that you think on the far side of the fence with news groups like PBS, NBC, ABC, CBS who clearly are way to the left on almost everything that you don't even know what the true middle is anymore. I usually don't take verbal shots at people but enough is enough.

Fed up with the propaganda

This Ab considers firechasing unscrupulous. Dispatch is in the equation for a reason.
9/19 An email back from Gabriel Vargas of Bomberos Forestales (Forest Firefighters) of Bolivia:


The picture really is not old, is from the year 2001. (Sorry for my english...) Is one of our first fires in "La coordillera del Tunari". The car in the picture is very old, it was a donation from some friends, but in that moment, this car was the only way to go to the fires in the mountain. Actually the car is out of service. The crew in the picture was the first crew of wildland firefighters trained for USAID/OFDA in Cochabamba, Bolivia. In that moment we don't have the money to buy uniforms, we just use old clothes, but actually, like you saw in some other pictures that we send, we use the world wildland firefighter uniforms (Yellow shirt, green pants). Thank you for your support, and congratulation for this amazing web page.

Gabriel Vargas, Bomberos Forestales

Your English is fine, Gabriel. Wish I were so good with Spanish. Thanks for the photo information. Readers, other photos of Gabriel's crew are posted on Crew 6 (Bolivian FF), Crew7 (crew with the Bolivian President), and Crew 9 (Pairumani, Bolivia) photo pages. The link to their website and more great photos: Bomberos Forestales. Ab.
9/19 A question form a familysaid member:
FF on theysaid:

My FF has gone out with Virginia (VA) State Forestry to New Kemp, VA. He went out as a sawyer. His assignment is to open the roads from debris from Hurricane Isabel. He left Wednesday and will probably be there a week. I have talked to him everyday and all the FFs were in great spirits. All the FF with my honey are ok and are on clean-up today. I hope all is well with you and your families. Be safe and take care.

From what I have been reading some, sounds like some others (NC Crew and brush 6) are at the coast. Are any of you near Virginia, North Carolina?


Bambi, brush 6 said he was near Duck NC as the hurricane approached. Now was he kidding or not? We know he is in NC. Ab.
9/19 Are You Inherently Governmental?

I’m not sure OFG’s interpretation of the “inherently governmental” will prove to be definitive. One of the things happening behind the scenes in “competitive sourcing” is pressure from the Whitehouse for agencies to code less work as “inherently governmental.” The actual language in the new A-76 circular is more complex and ambiguous than OFG’s summary, and subject to interpretation. Practically, a lot of what ends up coded “inherently governmental” will be determined by politics, not logic.

In “competitive sourcing,” having a leadership position in fire suppression conveys no standing if it is a collateral duty of the individual. The process simply doesn’t take collateral duties into account. In its April, 2003 briefing of Congress, the FS said, “The current A-76 methodology does not easily allow for the recognition of large-scale collateral duties along with specific functional responsibilities. Collateral duties to support critical incidents make up a significant workload. The Forest Service is seeking solutions and requesting assistance from OMB that will meet the intent of competition where appropriate.”

The FS Washington Office (WO) announced its decision to subject maintenance and IT work to A-76 outsourcing studies on Sept. 4, 2002. In making this decision, the WO did not even know how many employees in these studies performed fire work, much less what roles they played, leadership or otherwise, in the fire militia (FS_Info_Response_Final_Shortened.doc).(This is a link to a small word doc on the Behind the Curtain website.)

In other words, fire collateral duties were simply ignored. What will happen if the maintenance and IT work is outsourced? In a March 13, 2003 memo, the FS stated, “If a [streamlined] study concludes that a function should be performed externally and management believes that fire support is a collateral expectation of this organization, management has the option to directly convert the fire responsibility [to contract]…” More recently, the FS requested RIF authority. Of course, A-76 rules have changed since March 13, and no-one knows what the FS will ultimately do. But if history is a judge, decisions will be driven by politics, not logic.

No-one is against working with contractors when that is the right thing to do. But in the current “competitive sourcing” initiative, the make-up of the FS’s fire organization is being radically changed by Washington bureaucrats who have no idea what’s needed on a fire line. Right now, the jobs of some 3,000 members of the fire militia are on the outsourcing block. According to a July 17, 2003 draft plan, the FS plans to study Fire Management for possible outsourcing in 2006 and 2007.

"When they came for the gypsies, I did not speak, for I am not a gypsy. When they came for the Jews, I did not speak, because I wasn’t a Jew. When they came for the Catholics, I did not speak, for I am not a Catholic. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak."

To speak up, go to http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain/.

-- Union guy

9/19 The Jobs Page and Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 & 0455 have been updated. Ab.
9/19 armchair quarterback,

I don't see turf wars, I just see discussion. Maybe you'd like
turf wars?? Good old fisticuffs? Bloody noses, black eyes?
People seem to do a good job sticking to issues on theysaid
rather than making things personal, from the direction I'm
reading it anyway...

Continue to be safe and drive safe,
Tahoe Terrie
9/19 Mellie,

Yeah, I've been thinking about these things. I get the idea that lots of
these contractors out there are licking their chops waiting for the chance
to bid on the fire jobs. But if the whole fire program is lumped as one
giant study, who is big enough to contract the works? Sure, there are
companies around that can field a couple dozen engines and maybe as many
type 2 crews. But who is big enough to run the whole show? Who can field
not only the thousands of firefighters but also place the IMT's, field
hotshot crews, run dispatch, handle training and stock the cache?

To me the answer is simple....Halliburton, or maybe Lockheed-Martin.

Sure, they don't know squat about wildland fire, but they know how to win
the really big contracts. They even know how to make sure they win by
making sure nobody else gets to bid.

Then, all they have to do is hire some of the folks from the Washington office.
Say, offer the title of "executive vice-president" to the recently-former director
of fire and aviation. The new wildfire subsidiary should gross about a
billion dollars a year, so the top positions ought to be worth at least seven
figures. Add a few retired forest supervisors to run the field offices, and
they're set.

>From that point down, it will all be self-governed like the New York Stock
Exchange. Those lofty ideals you talk about, i.e. "fairness, accountability,
flexibility and most importantly, SAFETY" are all well and good, but in
the end it's really going to be about money.

Call me skeptical, but some folks at the top of the agencies are positioned
to make the really big bucks once outsourcing goes through. The big study
will be about as fair and balanced as Fox News.

vfd cap'n

Guess I have more faith in the integrity of the WO folks, but you do make some good points about big business and money. Ab.
9/19 URGENT: Sample Letter to Senators about "competitive sourcing"

The Senate will be debating an amendment to ban "competitive sourcing in
the FS on Monday, Sept. 22 and will likely vote on it by Sept. 23. The
time for initial attack is right now! A sample letter and attachment
are posted at http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain/, along with
instructions for contacting your Senators.

The attachment is a shortened version of an information request response
the union (NFFE) received from FS management, indicating their response
to questions concerning where the quotas/targets for CS came from, as
well as responses to questions concerning numbers of employees being
studied who perform fire duties. This document proves that the FS
program is based on quotas, not analysis, and proves that impacts on
fire and other ICS collateral duties were not considered.

Please fax these two pages (modifying the letter as necessary) to your
Senators on Friday or over the weekend. The Senate will reconvene
Monday afternoon, and it is important that these documents be available
for every Senator to see prior to debate continuing on the Senate floor
Monday afternoon. Government employees: Make sure that you do NOT use
government equipment or official time to fax these materials - this is
considered lobbying and must be done using your own equipment, and on
your own time.

Thanks for your efforts in this campaign. We need to get as many people
as possible sending these faxes. Please copy and paste this message to anyone
you think would be willing to help.

-- Union guy
9/19 Some photos of fire and CanadaAir scooper in Portugal with links to larger downloads.

9/19 SNICKER! turf wars seem to be rampant based on recent posts. WHY? soooo many who appear to speak from what they believe is true in any given situation... think outside of your comfy "box"!

everyone in FF has a place: be they volley, local urban interface, state, or Fed. (not to mention structure FFs who deal with all that other mess like car wrecks, domestic disputes, hazmat, terrorist attacks, etc).

who doth protest too much? anyone in a real wildland fire event knows better than tossing dirt from the bottom if there are flames over a ridge top.

out sourcing is a fact of life; if you are on a fire and a lousy contract crew shows up, keep defensible space! document it and tell the bosses why; let that contract manager get the heat if a lousy contractor is paid in 30-60-90 days... (if their crew was paid timely, the crew's pay checks should have cleared long before the contractor is maybe paid for having sent personnel or equipment - all the crew members did was show up at some fire).

to the "kids" who have internet access, keep asking questions; hopefully you will read posts from some who honestly answer your questions and mentors you.

To every wildland FF: BE SAFE and think smart in any given situation.

another armchair quarterback ZZZZ
9/19 Cl-215's in SanBerdoo?? The Canadians have invaded, and I missed it on CNN!!!
No, not even the Canadians would be foolish enough to invade SoCal, EH?

9/18 Anybody know why a CL-215 is parked at San Bernardino Air
Tanker base, kind of thought the feds and state frowned on those
scoopers in California, Just wondering if there has been a change
in minds/ideas about the use of Scoopers, there were three P-2V's
also, as far as I know no major fires in area.

Curious in Highland
9/18 Hey....On_Fire

I want you on MY team. Thanks for delicately clarifying a point already made by many. There is not one wise faller who will not turn to another faller he trusts and respects for advice. To feel you can't do this, or to believe your final decision on a falling scenario is ... final... is proof in point you've got a lot to learn. Having the personal fortitude to ask for advice shows courage, wisdom...and class.

9/18 Abs,

As I am currently progressing through the process for B Faller cert in my region I have been reading the timber falling posts with great interest. I am concerned about an idea proffered in several posts lately. Namely, the idea that if one C faller turns down a tree than no other fall can drop it. I think the thought process may be going in the right direction (toward safety), but the idea is flawed.

To think that if one person is unable to perform that no one can perform the task is just untrue. Many times in my life, most likely in all our lives, we have been presented with a task we were unsure about or felt uncomfortable with. I know personally, I have often asked someone more skilled or more experienced to perform the task. By watching the more skilled person I have increased my knowledge, i.e. "so THAT'S how they do that"!!! Then the next time I am presented with the task I can perform it the correct way.

So by putting out a blanket statement that if one faller turns down the tree, no one can fall it we basically reject another fallers skills/experience and say that all C fallers have the exact same falling ability. I find that to be highly doubtful. I know several C fallers who are very good, but the faller who certified them is even better. I could easily see one of the newer C fallers turning down a tree that the older faller could drop with no trouble! This doesn't mean the others shouldn't be C fallers, it simply means that some people are better at what they do than others. And it could be the same for any position on a fire! Some persons may not feel comfortable with certain that other more experienced or skilled persons feel fine with. Why reject the other person's abilities? Now if something truly is impossible and some hotdogging showoff wants to do it, rejecting them is understandable! But let's try to use the skills and abilities of persons who have years of experience doing what they do!

9/18 Thanks for the very important point, OFG. Contractors can't be on teams because it seems clear to you at least that some team positions are without doubt "inherently governmental".

The next logical question is then
Who will be on the teams? Will the teams continue?

If there are a very limited number of people working their way up from the bottom within the outsourced fire organization of the future, what will the fire management teams of the future look like?

Hmmmm. They may not exist.

Readers, contact your Senators and ask them to put the kaibosh on outsourcing.

The government is already over-outsourced
has a lot of thought-provoking information.

9/18 Mellie:

Contractors go a long way in supporting government agencies efforts in fire
control. We'd be in serious trouble without them. As I understand it,
contracting can not be used for work that is "inherently government" in
nature. That includes
  1. Supervision of government employees.
  2. Decisions committing the expenditures of government funds.
  3. Acting as a representative of the agency in dealings with other
    government agencies. and
  4. Making policy decisions.

Looking at the "leadership" type positions on a "Team", it would be
difficult (under current laws and regulations) for a contractor to find a
role. Again, the contractors in a role of "support" are a vital part of
our effort.


9/18 Here's a good opportunity for those working in aviation. I also posted it on the jobs page. Ab.


Can you post this Announcement again? Please note that it has been extended until October 13 and is now open to all government employees in Regions 3,4,5,6. This includes NPS, BLM, FWS and others.

The Pacific Southwest Region has extended and expanded the
Aviation TEAM Announcement and here's the
Aviation TEAM Application Form

This program is designed to provide Training Experience Aviation Mentoring to individuals in the Federal Government. The goal is to produce more qualified aviation managers. We are looking for dedicated individuals who are willing to perform in a variety of aviation positions. Individuals selected will be provided training and experience in a variety of aviation positions.

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

Wes Shook
Regional Aviation Training Specialist for R5
9/18 Ab,

For those who are interested, Women in the Fire Service will be holding its 6th Biennial "Fire Service Women's Leadership Training Seminar" in Miami in March. For more information on the conference and the organization, the web site is: www.wfsi.org . WFSI is accepting proposals for presentations for this conference. Proposals are due by October 15. The site also has information regarding other training & job opportunities, as well as news about ....well...Women in the Fire Service.

9/18 BRM, Ab sent a note about the "pocket-sized IAP" to one of the other PSCs and got this message back:

Not sure what you're looking for... The "pocket-sized" Incident Action
Plan we produce on incident for each operational period is simply the
standard IAP, with components, reduced in size from the standard 8.5" x 11"
to a 2-sided, 5.5" x 8.5" booklet. (basically, several 8.5 x 11 landscape
pages folded in half making a booklet). The booklet IAP fits easily into a
radio-harness and nomex pockets.

9/18 Some urgent information for those interested in reforming the outsourcing
process. Time to contact your Senators and make your voice heard.

Read especially their link Legislative information (including how to contact your Congressional representatives). The example letter makes it simple.


Readers, take time to contact your Senators on this important congressional move. Power in numbers. Family members can be an excellent voice on this. I'm contacting my family members around the US and asking them to contact their Senators too. Best way to impact your Senators is by hard copy - so on short notice, a FAX is the best. Faxes stack up. They become "weighty" so to speak.

The government is already over-outsourced according to researchers who look at organizational structure. Some good talking points here.

9/18 Ab,

Ever since the thread came up of paid contractors serving on Incident Management Teams, I have been mulling over the likelihood of more contractors working on teams as outsourcing takes place.

In the very near future, if outsourcing continues as the current administration would like it to, it seems to me that there will be no alternative but to have contractors on teams -- and in a big way. This is because there will be an ever-shrinking pool of federal fire fighters. The outsourcing system is just that by it's very SOP. It's a system to reduce govt and keep on reducing it, awarding the jobs to contractors like water flows downhill. In addition, the way the system is structured, once the federal firefighting infrastructure is gone, it will be very hard to regain the expertise we have now. Water doesn't flow uphill.

When contractors are on teams, we will be stuck in a HUGE conflict of interest scenario. Anyone who knows me knows that I support good fire business working with agencies to achieve fire suppression and to achieve the NFP. However, it does not make sense for contract groups to have a stronger and stronger hold of the reins at the top. That is the function of government, to insure fairness, accountability, flexibility and most importantly, SAFETY.

Is anyone else thinking about this? VFD cap'n?

9/17 BRM,
The pocket sized IAPs I've seen produced were done in the copying process.
I've been thinking of trying this software to do just that.
www.fineprint.com. I'm sure there are other programs out there to do it.
Any ideas on how this software might interface with the new IAP module of

9/17 Does anyone have the format for the pocket sized IAP?
One of our PSC's asked me to try to find it.


Some forms are here at NWCG, but I don't see it. Nor is it at Firescope.
9/17 This year, the Forest Service's "competitive" sourcing program is looking at outsourcing the jobs of nearly 3,000 maintenance and IT employees who also work in fire suppression. Unless this privatization initiative is stopped, pretty much everybody's job will be on the block in the years to come.

The time for initial attack is now. The Senate is considering language that would block privatization studies from occurring in 2004. We just found out that this language, in the Interior Appropriations Bill, hit the Senate floor today. The Senate will be recessing sometime tomorrow (currently scheduled to work until noon Thursday, but could recess earlier due to the hurricane hitting east coast) and will be taking the Interior Appropriations Bill up again next week.

We'll need a large number of folks to contact their Senators; our opposition is organized and dead set against any restrictions on competitive sourcing, so we must be prepared to show our strength in numbers if we are to influence the Senate to do the right thing.

Here's the plan: Later this week, the Forest Service Council will post a sample letter at http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain/, under Legislative Action Alert. You can modify to meet your needs, or simply fax it as is to your Senator either on Thursday, Friday or over the weekend. This will ensure that it reaches them prior to taking up the Appropriations Bill next week.

For now, this is just a heads-up. I'll send another posting with more complete instructions for contacting your Senator when the sample letter is ready to go.

-- Union guy

Thanks for the heads up. Ab.
9/17 well here i am on the outer banks in the town of duck... just holding on for dear life...still have light and phone but not for long... i am safe here and set to go out to help others when it dies down...wish me luck


Good luck! Got chainsaw, sharp chain? NC Crew has his ready. Well if yer in Duck, maybe I should be asking about your paddle. Heads up for that storm surge. We'll watch fer you on the news. Ab.
9/17 Lobotomy seems to be equating being on an Incident Management Team with being a ForestryTechnician and a Firefighter?? Seems like we changed that concept back in 1984-85 when we moved from the old Large Fire Organization (LFO) into Incident Command System (ICS)!

Last time I looked, there were lots of folks on IMT's who never were, and never wanted to be "Federal Fireghters"; folks in Logistics, Finance and Information don't have to have primary firefighter experience, yet they are absolutely critical to the success of our mission (if you need verification about the lack of logistical support, ask Napoleon or Hitler about their Russian experiences!!).

So, are the Log and $$ folks to get full Federal Firefighter status, too?

Lot's of us have served many years on Teams because of a sense of duty and responsibility, not because of the $$ to be made. An old Forestry professor back in the mid-60's told his Intro to Forestry class that if they were entering the Forestry profession to make money, they'd come to the wrong place. Forester, Forestry Technician, Engineer, -ologist, Bizeroid...... all are essential to making the IMT work, and to break out a certain class of folks as "Federal Firefighters" will destroy the team concept, and take us back to the "bad old days" of the 1970's when we tried (unsuccessfully) to go it alone with just pure "Fire Folks".


Bizeroid, do you mean bionicle? uh-oh, posting too much familysaid... Ab.
9/17 Hey AB and all.

XGL 3050-C (Local gov. Vollie Strike Team) is back from 9 days (night shifts, UGG!) on the Grindstone Complex. Had the pleasure working with some Great Pvt contractors (Firestorm & Horse Ridge were 2) up there on several fires. We worked on the Falkner, Anderson, Happy, and the Deafy. Vail's team seems to be wrapping things up and sent the local boys and girls on home. Glad to greet my pillow again. With the North winds blowing here in Nor-Cal, we're packed and ready to go again.

Mellie, if ya need some help......
9/17 Website for the Loma Fire with maps and press releases:


NorCal Tom

9/17 This came in early yesterday and got hung up in our server. Ab.

With a hurricane approaching the east coast... www.msnbc.com/news/961894.asp?cp1=1

Does anyone think that maybe a "few" forestry technicians might have gotten a LITTLE pre-alert.......

(They Did)....... Many wildland firefighters have been getting a "few"... "stand by to activate if needed"... phone calls with their Federal IMT's in case of the hurricane landfall. WHY WOULD A FORESTRY TECHNICIAN CARE?.......... Because they are FIREFIGHTERS!!!!!

Once again...... , non-recognized Federal Firefighters are being asked to standby and perform duties well outside their paid position descriptions.... without benefits or compensation... for a pending disaster...... and then to respond well outside their mission. Undoubtedly, they will be activated in the next 48 hours IF landfall occurs.

It's time to make Federal Wildland Firefighters....... FEDERAL FIREFIGHTERS.... and give them the rights and benefits they deserve.

I'm a FWFSA member and hope for proper classification and benefits someday.

9/17 Irked, my friend, my first explosives prof (who is quite highly placed in the community who know such things) passed around a clipboard on the first day of class requesting our full names, birth names, social security numbers, physical and mailing addresses, and contact information for our parents. He clarified by saying that this information was mandatory for class, and that you could put it down or get out, because, and I quote, “You never know who you’re lecturing to.”

This was pre-Ashcroft. Paranoid? Possibly. Redacting the name of a textbook is pretty minor, and you’re right, it’s a fairly meaningless precaution. But you never know who you’re lecturing to. Information may be more dangerous than you know. I probably should not be advertising that I know these things; I am trusting the Abs not sell my name to anybody who is going to kidnap and torture information out of me they could build bombs with. (Nerd looks dramatically around her before pulling the collar of her trenchcoat up, tapping down the brim of her fedora, and scurrying off into the shadows).

Nerd on the Fireline
9/17 In response to Retired L.A.V.E.'s comment, or rather the editing of it......

This is a little weird, censoring the name of a book (an explosives textbook). While this may seem like a good idea it just gives our government more power to enforce such things as the Patriot Act. I think that by people acting in a scared manner, our homeland security department will just have more ammo and means to monitor and regulate our freedoms with each passing day.

A dedicated terrorist, or radical or whoever will find the means to make an explosive. Just because the name of a book is posted on They Said doesn't mean it will fall into the wrong hands. Just try to do a GOOGLE or AMAZON.COM search. I am sure you could find considerably more than what is contained in this 'mystery' book.

This site is a great recourse for everything wildfire related, don't let Ashcroft and his boys make us have to speak in hushed tones about explosions and fire.


Well, irked, maybe it wouldn't fall in the wrong hands, but guess you'll just have to go on being irked - and I understand that feeling too. Fact of the matter is, whatever anyone else does on their website, we've decided about this issue for theysaid and familysaid. It has nothing to do with being scared, with Ashcroft, or the Homeland Security Department, per se. We believe in free speech. We edit very little. We also pay the bills here and they are substantial; just saying what we'd rather not post. We're happy to pass the info among community members as we did with LAVE's email and others on this topic. People are free to share info in firechat, we just don't want to put details on theysaid.

I had a young radical friend some long years back who, when the seatbelt laws came out, refused to wear her seatbelt 'cause the govt said she must. A 6-year-old in our family had an interesting perspective when he said, "If a law is passed not to jump out of my window (2'nd floor), is she gonna go do that too?" 'Bout sums it up for this Ab. There's laws, there's common sense, and then there's Abs' comfort levels with some kinds of information sharing.
9/17 Tree Falling with Explosives

I went to a mining school and took more than a few classes in mining engineering. One of the main tools miners use is explosives. One of my text books, homeland security listen up, was <snip>. There were many things in there about explosives, if you can't find it in the book then call, email, or write them. I am sure that they will help you in any way possible, those folks live for such challenges.

Maybe and old army combat engineer could give you some tips to.

Just trying to be helpful.
Retired L.A.V.E.

LAVE, I'm cutting and pasting your email on to the two people who are getting training. The Abs have made a decision not to post anything about blasting or explosives here, as important as that is to wildland firefighting especially in designated wilderness areas. In the interest of Security we think there are some things that shouldn't be posted on this international forum. Ab.
9/16 Spencer:

Thank you for the compliment - but I'm not a C faller, nor do I attest to
being a professional. Only through strong observations and intense
experiential training do I profess my background. In fact, I haven't
fallen in a long time - so I can't be the best, and quite frankly - never
professed to be! I can not make statements that "if I walk away (from it),
no one else can fall it...." What confidence! I just hope that when you
walk - you talk at the same time - communicate to those frog-eyed fools and
tell them to quit. Teach them, elevate their consciousness, unshared
knowledge is selfish. Try to communicate, not castigate. Pissed off?
Good. That's what this discussion was for - to get the emotions flowing so
something positive would come out. And I can proudly commend the folks in
Grant's Pass, Oregon and the NWSA for hosting a much needed professional
tree falling roundtable. Look man! We got through! That's the power of
sharing knowledge. Just think what will come out of this session!!!! I
can almost bet there will be some pretty good fallers there (in fact, I can
almost see their faces!)

Spencer - I'm just glad that seeds planted through intelligent
discussion - are nurturing focused action. I apologize if I spurned you
on, but one intent for participating in this discussion was to clear
my mind of a friend who was crushed in SW Oregon many, many
years ago by trying to outrun a large tree that turned on the stump, he
made a good run, yet it still nailed him. Crushed him instantly and he
died immediately, a good runner but he never let go. Died with his saw in
his hands. We never could understand why. Why do people run with saws
when running for their lives, it's a scenario that has cost us, over and
time again. This is what we need to impart to others when we train and
when we practice. Lord knows no one wants to ever see something like that
happen again. The best redemption is education. Insults and anger are
mere dust, so I'll bow out with one last thought.

Just remember to tell the next young faller when you see something wrong -
that a fallen ego does not make one a hero.

to Fire Momma: Keep up the cause, my task is done. Grant's Pass may be
the spark.

to Nerd on the fireline: I suggest you get a hold of an engineering
company, perhaps one that does roadwork. The powder monkeys will teach you
well - but its a rare and bold occupation. There are good source people
out there that know their stuff; and I agree that a public forum might not
be the best place to discuss.

Again to the Wyatt family - "Thank you" for all that you've done. In every
failure there are freed electrons. Hold the course, pray as others do for
your nourishment - and the change will come. Prayers are with you all the

I'm out. Bye!
Raker Shaker
9/16 Hello all in fire,

I would like to let you know that the Texas Canyon Hotshots, have started to make plans for their 50th anniversary. The date has not been set yet, but we are looking at March-April. Everyone is invited. If you want to help with the planning, please call up Lump at the station. So if you know any former T.C. Hotshots put the bug in their ear. Will try to keep everyone posted.

9/16 If anyone is interested in applying for the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program the Bureau of Land Management and several regions of the Forest Service are now hiring.
Region 1's announcement is open until September 30th
Region 5's announcement is open September 17 - October 24
Region 6's announcement is open until September 30th
The Bureau of Land Management's announcement has been extended until October 24th

There are approximately 350 slots to be filled this year, 240 of those are in Region 5. You can access all of these Recruitment Bulletins on the Apprenticeship Program's website (www.wfap.net) in the Recruitment section. If you would like more information on the program there is a program description in the Program section of the website. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me, there is an e-mail link on the front page of the program website.

The Apprenticeship Program is also recruiting academy staff (crewbosses, assistant crewbosses, staff assistants) and course coordinators right now. The recruitment bulletins are on the website at www.wpap.net/recruitment.phpl. Replies are due October 17th.

9/16 I wonder how this CDF Fire Tax is going to effect all the private lands
under Forest Service Protection? Anyone have any insight?

9/16 From Gabriel Vargas of Bomberos Forestales Bolivia:

Foto del recuerdo Dumbo 1

Photo of the remembrance Dumbo 1

Gabriel, can you tell us more about this photo? My Spanish is "rusty", but we could get a description translated. Please send one. Who are the people? What year was it? What fire was it? The photo looks old. Is it a memorial photo?

¿Gabriel, usted nos puede decir más acerca de esta foto? Mi español no es tan bueno, pero podríamos obtener una descripción traducida. Mande por favor uno. ¿Quién es las personas? ¿Qué año era? ¿Qué fuego era? La foto parece viejo. ¿Es una foto conmemorativa?


9/16 Readers, this message came in from Canada. Dick Mangan sent in an earlier post about this important Summit. Check it out. Afterwards, we expect a report back on how it went.

The seventh annual International Wildland Fire Safety Summit, being held in Toronto Canada, November 18-20, is being hosted by the International Association of Wildland Fire and the Aviation and Forest Fire Management Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The Safety Summit (a 235K PDF file) is attached. Link to the website for more details and registration www.safetysummit.org.

Thank you,
Howard Dupuis
Fire Operations Program Officer
Ministry of Natural Resources
Aviation and Forest Fire Management Branch
Sault Ste. Marie ON

More info from Chuck Bushey, IAWF Treasurer

"Please find attached a PDF file brochure for the upcoming International Association of Wildland Fire's seventh annual Wildland Fire Safety Summit this year being held in Toronto, Canada and co-hosted with Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources, Aviation and Fire Management Branch. Start planning your attendance now if you haven't started already! Last years event held in Luso, Portugal was a smashing success and IAWF's first time co-hosting an event in Europe. This years event in Toronto will prove to be even better with many pertinent topics to discuss following this years very active fire seasons in Australia, South America, the Mediterranean, and North America."

9/15 Just saw an article, the California Assembly has passed a bill to charge $35 per parcel for properties out side of city limits. This will also be retroactive to this year. So that means that all people not in city limits, your "fire tax" will be doubled to $70 per parcel. People in cities are exempt.

When I was in CDF (1987-88) we were told we were not the state fire department but were there to protect the watershed. Also this is the department of Forestry and Fire Protection, I think that money for timber sales (yea, right) should go to fund the fire end of things. Furthermore I think that if the people who live in city limits use water from the water shed they should have to pay for CDF also.

We are already taxed by the county, through property tax, for local fire departments through fire districts and county service areas. Now those thieves called politicians are double taxing us for fire protection, the elected legal mafia. I haven't researched this enough yet but I have some questions: what if the county is the fire department, does the money get to them or does it go into the state rat hole? What if you live in the central valley where there is nothing but farmland do they pay like anyone else, little or very small threat of a wildland fire there. What about counties that aren't served by CDF do those residents have to pay up? Besides this appears to be and end run around prop. 13 and to get the few to pay for the many.

Don't get me wrong I respect the folks in CDF and they earn every penny, but it seems as if the political types are just taxing and taxing without regard to the taxpayer. Looks as if I will have to eat some crow and get in the political end of the equation after all. Man do I HATE crow, it's so stringy and bony and it tastes like S#!+. Not only that you get it all over you and you end up looking like a politician!

Retired L.A.V.E.
9/15 Thanks to all who have offered their thoughts regarding hazard tree falling on wildland fires. While this online venue provides an excellent opportunity to explore the vast range of such thoughts, we invite you to consider attending this year's 2003 Timber Faller Roundtable in Grants Pass, December 8 & 9, 2003. The first evening of this event will include the first formal general meeting of the NWSA National Timber Faller chapter. We're still putting the foundational parts of the faller chapter together, but, essentially, the chapter's purpose is to provide a voice and representation for Professional Timber Fallers working in the fire suppression industry. The Chapter is National in scope and so, will provide an opportunity for fallers from all regions to come together to address issues facing them. If you are a professional timber faller and have an interest in serving in a directorship capacity (regardless of your geographical location) please step forward and express that interest.

The second day of the Roundtable is open to fallers, faller contractors, fire overhead personnel who deal directly with hazard tree fallers on fire incidents, and agency contracting officers. The day will be dedicated to discussing the very issues that have been on the table here in "They Said" for the last few weeks - primarily, developing and implementing National Standards for hazard tree fallers working on the fireline. While there will be plenty of time to exchange "war stories" during the evening and meal times, the Roundtable will be facilitated in order to keep discussions focused and productive.

Information on the Roundtable can be found at www.nwtimberfallers.com under the "Timber Faller Roundtable" link. Please complete the questionnaire and provide your contact information if you'd like registration information. There is also a link on the Roundtable page to the Riverside Inn on the Rogue River where the Roundtable is being held. The Riverside Inn is holding a block of rooms at a special conference rate. You need to mention you are attending the Roundtable in order to get that rate.

Hope to see you there.

9/15 Some fine photos from TC of the Deafy Fire on the Grindstone Complex, from 9/13. Nice column, flames and helo photos. I put them on Fire 19 and Heli 12 photo pages. Thanks TC.

9/15 Any crews or overhead headed out east for the hurricane, looks
like it will hit us hard here on the coast of North Carolina.

Stay Safe All
NC Brush6
9/15 Wondering;

Ah, the sagas I could tell about trying to get used equipment…in our area the FS is so broke that they hold onto equipment with the grim grip of death until it’s totally non-functional, then try to get maximum dollar out of it after that. Right now we’re looking at buying basically a bare chassis and building our own Type-6 from the ground up (which why I was asking around about Type-6 specs earlier). But Type-6s are easy…try getting a used (yet functional!) ambulance!

As far as people helping people;

I got my baptism in emergency response on the Loma Prieta Earthquake in Central CA, volunteering in a food distribution center run by one of the local agricultural unions. We were all- volunteer, and we worked our rear ends off getting food to whoever needed it most. Next door an organization I won’t name (but they’re very, very, very well known and highly respected) was refusing to give FOOD to people who couldn’t produce a GREEN CARD. Sometimes the people are the only ones who can help the people because the larger entities are so wrapped in bureaucrap that they can’t get past the paperwork to see the need. That was almost 15 years ago, and just thinking about it still makes me hopping mad.

Vollie pride, ladies and gentlemen…sometimes it’s all we got, but sometimes we’re all they’ve got.

Nerd on the Fireline
9/15 Raker-Shaker,

Ok smart-ass. You've proved that you are the best C Faller in the world. My hat's off to you. I only know enough about it to be smart enough to say no when a tree is too dangerous. And if I've said no, only a fool would attempt to cut a tree I've walked away from. Many times I've gone back and helped blast down a tree I wouldn't cut so don't think I've never used that option. The other options of recruiting a more experienced cutters are not options, they're stupidity. So let's be a little smarter about this whole tree falling thing, shall we?

I applaud your support of Alan Wyatt's family in their rightful quest for PSOB coverage. I too, wholeheartedly support their effort. Mr Wyatt was indeed a firefighter in the employ of the Federal Service at the time of his tragic passing.

To Fire Momma,

I got C Certification through the school of hard knocks, then my agency approved it upon the recommendations of D. Douglas Dent, the recognized authority on tree felling at the time. In my opinion, a C faller is one who not only has gained the experience falling complex trees, but knows how to get out of trouble when things go haywire, and is able to use the proper judgment not to get into trouble in the first place.

9/15 Here is a story that is pertinent to the discussion line regarding neighbors
(and strangers) helping neighbors in a fire situation. Plus, a couple of good


Another Montana Mom

Nice pics and nice description. Ab.
9/15 JW, my friend,<chortle> I wondered who I would reel in first...

CDF - a deeper understanding of life? ummmhumm, of course, some just
work harder at keeping the fact a secret, ya know like hiding your light
under a bushel basket. Not you of course! You try that, you'd burn the
basket up, no doubt about it.

"Gentile cooperators" Is that "gentile" as in heathen or pagan? Or did you
mistype and mean gentle or genteel? Funny how any one of those
adjectives could work - from a CDFers perspective of course!

Take care, my friend, as you "view" those fires. If you're in a lofty position
and have a chance, take a gander at the loma fire as well. Think we should
be going direct on that one?

Cat and Stein, thanks kids, ya done good. Wondered if you'd make it
thru. (Stein, it's good Cat was with you and not Frank or Ein. <chuckle>
Important to keep in mind how names/monikers look in print!)

Thanks SoCal CDF for the fire details. Szczepanic's team transitions in tonight.
(Talk about names, that one is a mouthfull.)

9/15 Nerd on the fireline,

Thanks for the insight on the inner workings of your fire departments. What you described probably fits lots of other fire departments in some ways. As usual the budget is the common rock in the cookie.

The Forest Service last I heard cannot sell their fire engines. When they are finished with them they are actually sort of surplused to rural fire departments. Lots of them have gone to the south Pacific Islands as well as lots of rural fire departments. For example the Engines surplused by R-5 go to the CDF who manages the placement program by priority need. It's a good way for a bona fide fire department to get a $100,000 type 3 engine that is in good shape. Once the engine is placed it cannot be sold it has to go back to the program. If you aren't aware of the program maybe your Chief might want to look into it. A place to start is the R-5 Regional Office, the Regional Fleet Manager can get you the info on how to proceed.


Thanks for the acknowledgment, I know it probably is a surprise to alot of people. Thanks for the support in bringing this issue to light.

9/15 Aw shucks Mellie- Are you suggesting that CDF may have a deeper
understanding of life! The Canoe and Honeydew are on CA State Parks and BLM
lands. So we must temper our cultural brainwashing of frontal assault at
all costs in favor of our more gentile cooperators. A good contractor
should meet the objectives of their client. Wow, that was hard to write.
I'll get to see them first hand shortly.

9/15 saw smokes on the horizon yesterday, now it feels like folk on fires will get cooler temps thanks to an onshore sw delta breeze making it's way inland & into the foothills. local weather guy says high 80s in valley regions later today (Sac valley was 100-103 yesterday)
amador/el do/sac/etc area locals remain busy with grass/brush fires. deer hunters are loading up their rigs for opening season in the Sierras. fall is around the corner but fire season is not over - recent rains may have extended it

be safe all
9/14 Two fires began near del Loma (NorCal, Shasta Trinity NF) at 1530 today.
One was contained; the other is located east of del Loma on both sides of the Trinity River.
It's burning in timber, litter and understory (Model 10). Fire behavior was aggressive with spotting.
As of 1900, the fire was 285 acres.
Hwy 299 was closed and nearby residences were evacuated.
Resources working on the fire include the following.
9 Handcrews
   4 Type 1 (2 FS, 2 CDF)
   5 Type 2 (3 FS, 2 Private)
3 Helicopters: 3 Type 2
8 Engines (5 FS, 3 CDF)
3 Watertenders
10 Overhead (9 FS, 1 CDF)
Total personnel - 235


Thanks SoCal. Ab.
9/14 Hi Ab,

These are for Mellie and All. We took some fire
photos of the del Loma Fire! See attached... ;)

we saw this on 299 today heading west at aprox 3.45 pm
and were turned back. we then had to go on the
underwood mt rd from big bar to burnt ranch to reach
willow creek this evening. very exciting! anyhow -
hope you like the photos...big hugs - Cat and Stein

Nice flames. Thanks for pullin' out the digital. I put them on Fire 19 Photo page. Ab.
9/14 Re ShastaT fires:

Thanks for the post, NorCal Tom, and the phone call, Brian. Most
recent info is that Hwy 299 is closed at del Loma. There were 2 starts
there, they caught one and the other ran almost to the top of the
ridge. It was 250 acres at 1600 hrs. There's fire across the Trinity
River there as well.

Re Humboldt Co fires:
Gotta say, it's good to see the local CDFers seeing the need to go indirect
on the Honeydew and Canoe Fires near Fortuna. Those fires are in
timber and brush and the terrain is steep. Also good to hear them saying
the containment date is unknown, probably with the rains... Occasionally
when the competitive juices get going I have heard some CDFers criticizing the
Fed Agencies for doing exactly what they're now doing under similar conditions.
Ahem, chuckle, gotta tweak my CDF friends a bit, ya know, love you

Be safe all. It's still hot and dry in our Shasta T neck-o-the-woods.
9/14 Wondering;

Being active in two different fire departments, I’ve got some input on different roles vollie departments play. One department, let’s call it East, is mostly vollie with a few paid fire fighters. It’s a comparatively rich department from an active and well-off municipality. West department is all volunteer, from the chief on down, in a far poorer municipality. East department is far better off in terms of equipment, because their municipality can afford to front them the capital to buy new equipment, but they are expected to make the department at least not a total money sink, so they do send engines out on a contract basis. The firefighters who go out with engine are paid up front by the department, and then the department collects from the incident whenever the incident gets around to paying. The engine fees go toward paying the interest on the old equipment.

West department can’t afford to front people the money for going out on a contractor basis, and the municipality can’t afford to buy enough engines to split ANYTHING off to go out of district (the department only has one Type 6 engine). We did that once this season anyway, in a true emergency (we threw a bunch of tools on a structure engine). The people who went with that engine went out without expecting to get paid, and then we rotated people off the engine crew as they had to leave to go to work. Most of us who did get paid for that are funneling our pay back into the department’s New Tender fund.

As for using strays and lookie-loos on fires…we’ve done it, but as soon as things are under control we get them off again, just for safety reasons. One fire got pretty much converted from a potential major rager to a one-tree affair by an alert bystander who saw the lightening strike and swatted embers until we got there. We try to buy them dinner whenever we can arrange it.

Nerd on the Fireline
9/14 Fire at Del Loma between Burnt Ranch and Big Bar.

NorCal Tom
9/14 Two HUGE COLUMNS over Five Waters (western Trinity Alps) and Airtankers overhead. Wonder what's up???

9/14 Wondering:

I need to eat a little (maybe alot) of crow regarding my comments about Contractor's personnel serving on T-1 and T-2 IMT's. Since my posting a few days ago, several folks have contacted me with information that names specific individuals who regularly go out with Teams that are not even within their Geographic Area. Yeah, looks like some "special" treatment for some folks, especially in positions like DIVS where there ought to be plenty of qualified candidates within the Agencies.

Looks like you have some valid concerns, and I'll do what I can to bring your concerns into the light of day!!

9/14 AB,

Excellent point! And I agree 100%. I was just wondering about couple of volunteer fire depts. that show up everywhere there are fires? The volunteers need all the support they can get.

9/14 I agree with DANA to a point. About 10 yrs ago we had the huge FIRESTORM go thru here and it was a mean one. Started over west of Spokane Wash and went all the way through the Idaho panhandle. We had several days of no one working at normal jobs, there were dozer operators, water trucks, anything that could move and help was put to use. These people did not get paid, they were helping their friends and neighbors. There were several people, volunteers, killed in various ways. Not to mention the loss of life to citizens not working the fires. I have no idea how many homes and businesses were lost. Many restaurants stayed open 24-7 to feed the troops and they did not have signed purchase orders, Other people lined up to take the food and drinks out to the guys on the lines. It was an absolutely horrible experience. But, a wonderful lesson in how man will help his fellow man and not expect a dime.

We, as many others, had to evacuate and as most of my manpower was out fighting fire, the kids and I started loading what we could in the RV and pickup......not too long after we started, there were several neighbors' pickups coming up the drive, dad did make it back to help, and we were loaded and on our way very shortly. (sidenote: I will always be amazed that my children, teens and younger, started taking the pictures, the antiques, moms favorite little junky things, a couple of grandma's quilts, Of course the legos, actually the TV's, computer and the electronic stuff was way down on the gotta have list)

Americans always have a way of putting prejudice and selfishness aside when there is a catastrophic need. What we have been seeing described on this list is the unethical independent contractors going to the fires with no dispatch orders and soliciting jobs (and using substandard equipment). They will also work a fire, get demobed and hop right over to the next fire. While the ethical ones wait for dispatch, get equipment checked, make sure the personnel has the correct credentials then go to the fire. Do their 2 weeks and go home or have their off time and then start the process over.

We know and appreciate the neighbor who sees smoke and runs out with the water hose and shovel and most of the time actually has the fire pretty well knocked down by the time the troops get there. Heaven forbid he gets hurt trying to help but that is the meaning of the word hero.

Remembering the Firestorm brought me round to Icestorm. it is not just summer and wildland fires that get the troops moving they are here year round. Several years ago we had the icestorm of the century as they called it. Trees were down all over the place, again West of Spokane through Idaho Panhandle and Montana. Power was off to thousands for over a week or longer. Lots of medical emergencies and fires etc. The highways and sideroads were impassable and power poles and lines were down all over the place. it was a real widespread emergency situation and our volunteer FD put in as many hours as the bigger paid departments and the Volunteer FF gave as good of service as the paid did. The only difference in paid and volunteer is the paid have a job and the volunteers are there because they want to be. Same training, same hours to qualify, same type of equipment, same service given. paid or volunteer they are Firefighters and should have the same respect and atta boys. (and girls)

9/14 Happenstance,

Glad to hear someone else has the courage to speak out about the things that go in procurement. The way you signed the message would suggest you have the facts documented. Do you? I agree with you 100% an investigation is desperately needed, and I suppose it should be Congressional since that would be the highest level. You will probably get a response of disbelief like I did, but if you have the documentation like I do, you can forward it on to you Congressional Representative. Have you got any scenarios? Without naming names of course.

Couldn't agree with you more! The local folks who respond in the manner you describe are really the most valuable resource in the area. I hope that kind of spirit and motivation continues. The issues I and others have been trying to correct come up when an incident escapes initial attack and a team is ordered.

I wonder about the volunteer fire department role in wild land fire world. Don't get me wrong volunteer fire depts. are one of the best ideas since sliced bread and they truly have some outstanding organizations and personnel. However as with everything else there are some questionable actions by some. Why would a volunteer fire dept build up a fleet so big it could send most of it's trucks to Montana and still be able to cover it's responsibilities at home? Are they really a contractor in fire dept clothing? Some of the volunteer fire depts. price for the vehicles is not best value nor cheapest. In some cases they are taking business away from the very small business they protect. Again not trying to take anything away from the legit volunteers, they are special people and the rest of the fire deepest need them as I do in my community. I was just wondering.


Don't forget that much of what the volunteer fire departments get goes back into supporting local wildland initial response that would otherwise require many pancake breakfasts to obtain. Sometimes it's engine repairs or a new engine or an engine garage. What benefits local rural communities in terms of IA benefits us all. Ab.
9/14 I thought I might be able to add a different perspective on the smokechasing activity of local equipment owners.

In many rural areas of the US there are not nearly enough govt. owned resources to control wildfires. Many of the folks living in those areas are all too aware of this and when they spot smoke.."come a runnin" to help put it out. This not only goes for folks with equipment that might possibly be useful..but for able bodies with nothing but a shovel in hand as well. They do it with no other thought than an out of control wildfire might "burn out" a neighbor if the smoke is close enough to see. Often they just do it because it is "the right thing to do" in heavily wooded areas..kind of like not just driving past an auto accident prior to the "professionals" arriving.

I have been first on scene at several fires which I was sure we were going to "lose" when folks with shovels just started showing up to help...with no thought of pay. Similarly I have seen heavy equipment being loaded up as I drove by on the way to IA some major smoke thinking to myself...we might need something big like that if the fire is anything like the building column suggests. Upon arriving and sizing it up as already way too big for a slip-in unit and a few bladder bags (which was all we had) and knowing that the soonest the needed "troops and equipment" would arrive too late to quickly contain the fire was a BAD BAD FEELING. When up pulls a logger with a dozer, feller/buncher, etc, on a flatbed and asks "need any help?" (GOOD GOOD FEELING)

The district I worked for most of my "career" as a "casual" ALWAYS tried to get these "lifesavers" paid..but some not accept it for "just an afternoons work". Most could not afford to turn down the funds though (since they would have been making money if they had chosen not to help) as they had payments to make and a family to support. On fires that went beyond IA a small armada of equipment would eventually show up and either be held in (unpaid) reserve if they might be needed or sent home with a "thanks for coming" if they were not. We were glad they showed up and wanted them to continue to show up "just in case" if they saw a column of smoke nearby at a later date.

While I too have seen a few folks who were "chasin smoke" with nothing on their mind but money....they have been the exception rather than the rule in my experience. Most have had their hearts in the right place and not been motivated by greed. If local folks show up at a major fire with equipment eager to help I would give them the benefit of the doubt...but if the license plates are from 2 states away...maybe not.

My opinion...
9/14 You are right concerning the ethics and the intregity of the fire purcurment
systems, are favored by some contractors that I know of factually.These
contractors are from region 4,5 .
What this system needs is a compleat overhaul with a congresional investagation
so they can weed out the contractors that are useing there friends, relatives,
and employees so that they can get dispatched.

Happenstance Factual
9/13 Dustbuster: no absolutely not. I know most of the people in the "fire business" are ethical. They are out there providing a service and trying to feed the family. No problem there. I was referring to the people that have trucks and spray for the loggers etc then when the fires bust loose they show up at the fires "looking" for work. The contractors that are on the dispatch list and go out as called with good equipment, no problem there for me. It doesn't matter to me if you are doing dust, digging line, operating an engine or flying, we all are there and not one of us is less important than the next. So sorry , it is hard to get the point across on this form of conversation sometimes.

Just yesterday I overheard a conversation by two tender operators. They were from different companies, well known respected logos, heck of nice guys. But opinionated. They were putting the volunteer departments down for sending out trucks and leaving their home districts short of equipment and man power. Another gal who was also waiting around got in the fray and she let them know her volunteer district has enough equipment to send out engines, tenders and dust busters and still have plenty of equipment left at home to handle any emergency. She also told them, this is the way their commissioners decided to make money for the district and not put the extra burden of newer, safer equipment on the taxpayers in their community. I have no knowledge of the equipment left at her home district but if the rig she was driving is any indication, the commissioners are doing their district good.

Keep working and stay safe and come on up, always room for good families and hard workers.

Panhandle Ken
9/13 Come on Extreme Dustbuster...

The season has been a long and lean one. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, Panhandle Ken was talking about contractors playing by the rules as opposed to making up their own...or dabbling in the "Good Ole Boy network"...or fire chasing. It was an extreme jump in logic on your part to suggest (agaaaaaain....) California contractors are at odds with contractors to their north. What are your REAL issues, Extreme? Leave out the regionalism Red Herring.

I would also agree with you that contractors gambling on a fire season to keep them afloat financially is NOT good business in a number of areas....Tenders and fallers specifically. But, be careful about taking out your frustrations in a regionalistic manner. That just doesn't hold water. ; )

9/13 The Cod Fire east of Forest Hill is just about a done deal, thanks to the hard work in wrapping things up by the Tahoe Hot Shots, Helicopter 514 and the rappel crew, and the MIRS Unit. The MIRS Unit (Mobile Infrared System) was found to be extremely valuable in assisting Operations in making decisions on when to release crews for other assignments and what hotspots to target for additional attention by hotshot and rappel crews. Kudos everyone for job well done.

9/13 Raker Shaker;
There was some behind-the-scenes discussion of
explosives falling based in Family Said...I am
extremely interested in the subject (I'm working on my
commercial blaster's license), but living in an area
where we very, very seldom see C-trees, nobody
believes that there are trees out there you can't cut
with a Stihl 044 and a 20" bar.

I'm not sure why people who feel fine walking into a
fire with saw gas on their backs are reluctant to do
the same with primacord; it's comparatively safer. I'm
also all in favor of a method that allows you to be
five minutes' run from a tree when it comes down.

Nerd on the Fireline
9/13 Panhandle Ken

Are you saying that Dirt contractors who use their water trucks on fires are some way out of line? (FIRE CHASERS AMBULANCE CHASERS) I have 2 water trucks that are under EERAS with the Forest Service And also with CDF and I use these trucks 95% of the time my self in construction in the event that there is a fire and we Do get called If I can I will use these same trucks as Water Tenders, they meet all the Requirements as do the drivers.

After the trucks are hired its not up to me how they are assigned or used by the command Team. we do as we are told Whether its hauling water, pumping a hose lay or even doing dust control. These are the things that we are called to do. in Fact we have been hired exclusively to water Roads and the Fire Camp. There is no way that I could keep these trucks (WAITING TO ONLY FIGHT FIRE) unless I used them in the dirt all the rest of the time. AS for The better money working on fires, Thats True. The Reason its better is so that we will pull off our regular jobs and Make our Equipment available. Maybe I should sell out here in California and Move all My Equipment up your way where I could live on Just Fighting fire. it Must be a fire Contractors Paradise.

Extreme Dustbuster

Ray G is on his way out - Doug Benton, Assistant Cache Manager @ Silver City is headed north to be the Regional Cache Manger for the Pacific Northwest Cache System, that sucker started 43 years ago and i knew him when he was 4 th bush hook on a hot shot crew on the Angeles in 1959, i think he started on the Dalton H.S and then moved his way up the ranks and was the sup for Texas Cyn and then the FMO on forest and than moved north to R-6. BEST TO YOU AFTER 43 YEARS ............................

9/12 Wondering:

I too think that the Abs are correct: in my experience working as a member of numerous T-1 IMT's, I don't know of a single "contractor's employee" that was a regular member of a Team. Occasionally, a MEDL works for an ambulance company, or other sub-staff positions in Logistics are filled by contract folks. But.....before you make accusations of serious improprieties, be sure you have real FACTS to back them up.

9/12 Hey Everyone, It's nice to be home. Looks like some interesting threads here. Might take me the weekend to catch up.

Anyone know how it's going with all the small and larger fires on the Grindstone Complex? I'm looking for more info than is available on the sit report.


Check Vail's Team page. They probably have a link to the fires' page. Yeah, here's the Grindstone page and links to other photos, etc. Ab.
9/12 Firemom,

It sounds like you are supportive of the honest approach, that's great keep it up. I am wondering if any of the agency contract administrators check out this site? I really want some feed back from them. Maybe the only way to get some action going to stop the abuse by the unscrupulous contractors is to start sending the cases of abuse directly to OIG, GAO, and other agencies that deal with the Government budgeting process. There are laws regarding payments for items not on contract, vehicles that are non compliant etc.

If a compliant is filed, the Contracting Officer, Procurement Officer, Time Recorder, Time Unit Leader, and Incident Commander should all be named in the compliant. These folks should be asked to answer the question why they paid for something that was totally out of compliance. The drivers had no commercial license, therefore no insurance.

What was the contractor risking if an accident occurred involving an AD firefighter or faller, loss of permit to operate, loss of insurance, civil penalties? What about the liability of the Government would they become deep pocket for this crooks actions. If somebody was injured who would be responsible for the medical? The driver? He wasn't insured. The contractor probably would just bankrupt that part of the corporation and stay in business as usual. I think the contractor knowingly sent the trucks with unlicensed drivers because he knows there is no penalty to do so. He still gets paid.

I am sorry folks lost everything in '97 due to lack of work. I am assuming there were no fires. However some of the honest contractors are in that position even with the numerous fires going on now. They aren't being called because of the crooks.

The Contracting Officers and their representatives, Incident Commanders and Staff need to insure the provisions of the EERA and contracts are met. Otherwise it seems to me they are working outside the scope of their employment therefore exposing them to personal civil liability.

Why is it some teams have employees of some contractors on the team, and coincidentally the contractor's equipment shows up at the incident? Hmmmm I wonder.


Wondering, I've checked with all the Abs. There are no contractor employees that are core members teams that any of us know of. Take a look at the team rosters. (Links to the teams are posted on the Type 1 Team or Type 2 Team pages.) Agency affiliations. Nothing else. There's close scrutiny for conflict of interest in fire. If you do know of contractor employees on teams and think there is conflict of interest, please come forward with that information and we'll make sure it gets to the proper authorities. You may remain anonymous if you wish. Ab.
9/12 Wondering!

I did not imply that they should get paid!! THEY SHOULD NOT!

We in the private sector need the agencies to adhere to the the regulations set forth in the contracts/agreements/EERA ect. You have the power to demob/not pay a contractor who blatantly violates those agreements, we do not! We want help cleaning up the industry!

As for the Reg 6 contract, I agree with you. There is no rhyme or reason to the bids based on the fact that anyone who meets minimum standards can be awarded a contract. So yes there are those who under bid based on the "Lowest Price/Closest Resource" dispatch method. You know they cannot provide all required training/equipment based on that kind of bid. Then there are those who just got into the industry and see $$$ so they bid high (however they may never get called). But if they had a best value contract you would not have those issues. Keep in mind that private contractor under the "Agreements" have NO GUARANTEE OF WORK! Many of them almost lost everything they owned due to no work in 1997.

I applaud those in the agency who know the agreements/contracts and make the contractors play by the rules.

9/12 Spencer:

Glad to hear you have years of C-falling experience. No doubt you know the
dangers of hazard tree falling and the finesse of using tree jacks,
directional falling, and bedding the lays. And, you must remember that the
rules to get your c-card certification was that you had to fall 3 (only 3)
24'' or larger snags a year to be agency certified. And you also had to
know how to buck - (one of the most riskiest saw jobs around.) But perhaps
we've been in different woods or forest types.

Regarding options, when you fall a 100" dbh coastal doug fir with a
cross-slope lean of 30 percent, with 40" suckers coming out of the bole 35'
from above the ground - while the tree is on fire and a spring-board may be
your last hope - than I praise any class c faller that consistently gets
the job done. If you have no fear - then you're just plain gamey or crazy.
Don't mean to be sarcastic, just don't want to give the young, minimum
qualified faller the thought-train that they can just cut down anything.
(Besides - its the smaller trees and bucking that kill most frequently).

Don't know if you've cut in the redwoods or along the coast or on the Oly
peninsula but these are places I was referring to when often it was most
valuable to get a logger, or more respectively - a "local woodsworker" -
who felled considerably more than a few trees a year - and often in adverse
weather (like rain, rain - hard rain). Again, I am not disavowing the
C-faller; however, those who do it infrequently and are certified - seem to
be at a little more risk than much more experienced "woodsworkers". What's
the definition of widowmaker?

P/s - Smokejumpers do have spotters, but they also use falling teams,
high-climbing teams, blasting teams, etc - usually the number of team
members varies - but there is always a designated "boss". (Dozer "boss",
engine "boss", camp "boss" etc (no disrespect to ICS.) Smokejumper
Spotters find jumpspots from aircraft for safe LZ's. Smokejumper Falling
Bosses - find good fallers to take on the responsibilities of falling. I'm
surprised there were no comments on falling with primacord. That takes an
explosives technician - usually supervised by a blasting "boss." Hope this
clears up a few things.

Regardless, I re-entered this discussion so I could comment in support of
Mrs. Alan Wyatt. Professional fallers on fires are one of our greatest
assets - as was your husband. I wish you all the luck in the world with
your appeal and the appeals officer. Keep the faith, the key to success is
"introducing new evidence" and comments such as mine and others that have
shared what independent, professional fallers contribute to the fire
suppression efforts, and what they can do with hazardous trees, will help
support your case. There really is a difference. My prayers are with you
(and with all fallers everywhere.)

Raker Shaker
9/12 Update on Rocky:
Rocky got a bite (doc does think a Hobo Spider) on his ankle when he crawled into his sleeping bag. He had surgery several days ago and another one today to put a drain in his ankle. He will be in the hospital a few more days in Montana, then come home where he will be in the hospital on IV for a few more weeks. Good link on the hobo spider Ab. Graphic image of the damage such bites can do. Hobo and brown recluse spider bites can be ugly and sometimes lead to amputation or systemic infection.

Plug for getting early medical help:
Let me make a plug for people getting to the medics in firecamp whenever there's a problem. Last season a young hotshot had an infected splinter or some foreign body jammed in a finger. He delayed treatment and ended up loosing his finger. The photos of the wound as it progressed over months were not pretty. People, get help before a medical situation that could be treated gets out of hand.

Fire Medic
9/12 The Jobs Page and Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 & 0455 have been updated. Ab.
9/12 Firemom, the contractors all have to present for review insurance, registration, etc. and sign documents that testify their statements and paper work is true. They also, by signing the agreement agree to follow all the laws and procedures stipulated in the clauses. So if the contractor fails to abide by the terms of the agreement then no pay should be awarded.

An EERA is nothing more than an agreement until an order is placed. At that time the agreement becomes a contract which has a whole different set of guidelines and laws. The contractor in my scenario did not adhere to the conditions he promised to adhere to when he signed the agreement and when the agreement changed to a contract..

Yes the Team at the incident should have booted them, but that is only part of the problem. The contracting officials at the incident should have deemed them in breach of contract and NOT PAID THEM. Why should someone get paid for not adhering to laws they promised to adhere to.

I certainly have trouble with what you are saying about no suspensions of contractors. Are you saying that no matter what type of fraud, deception, theft, non-compliance to contract, and plain lying there is no recourse, they get paid anyway?

I believe OIG and GAO would have a different view. What about the honest contractor sitting at home? I believe the Teams and the Contracting/Procurement Officials need to get tough and adhere to the language set forth in the EERA clauses they administer.

Of course the bar could be raised. Instead of an EERA, simply make it a Contract subject to dispatch. Probably lose some of the crooks in the switch. As for the R-6 best value/EERA some of the items I saw on the list were higher cost than anywhere else in the country a 1000 gal water tender for $200 bucks an hour, you have to be kidding.

9/12 We have been using the Haines Index for several years now. I see the numbers change from 1-6 with some regularity, but rarely do I see the potentials change from the low potential, does anyone really use the potentials or are the number enough. I know in Southeast Washington (desert not many trees) when we get to 4 that is the norm but when we bump to 5-6 we do look up. The potentials seem to never get used. Does anyone use them or even care about the potentials?

9/12 Hey Abs.

I know with fires still going, no ones really talking much about this now, but I recently had a meeting with some high level DHS people and the topic of full time, all risk IMTs came up. According to the guy responsible for coming up with the idea and implementing it, the teams will be new from scratch, made up of around 10 people, and consisting of, wait for it, Army Corp of Engineers and Coast Guard. At least at this time, there is no plan of bringing in (or even approaching) any of the interagency teams. Maybe (hopefully) the guys and gals in the trenches who are actually putting this stuff together will have the forethought to realize they don't have to reinvent the wheel.

I'll pass on any additional info when I get it.

9/12 From OFG:
Ab, this photo from the B&B Complex Big Ernie Salutes Deschutes, 9/4/03 is making the rounds behind the scenes with the following message:

We were on the highway between Sisters and Crooked River Ranch on Thursday Sept 4, 2003 when I caught this once in a lifetime photo. I was watching the B & B Complex column when this appeared. I grabbed my camera and snapped this shot, then in a few seconds it was gone. BLM Tom

Good one. I put it on the Fire 19 photo page. Ab.

9/11 Rocky's with CA IIMT3 on the Blackfoot Complex. I think he got
bit by a hobo spider two days ago and that's put him in the hospital.
Don't send any cards. He should be going home soon where medical
treatment will continue (Loma Linda Hosp.) for a couple of weeks. If
anyoneknows more, please let us know.

Get Well Soon Rocky!
Tahoe Terrie

If that's the right spider, here's some info. www.hobospider.net/info/
9/11 Rumor has it that Rocky O is in a hospital in Montana. Is he OK?
Can anyone fill us in on what's up. Have an address for sending

NorCal Tom
9/11 To Wondering??

I would really hope that the fire staff would not have allowed these folks on the fire without proper inspections including the drivers. Do we in the contract community know there are unethical contractors??? OF COURSE WE DO! Can we do anything about it? We can work to raise the standards of the contract (Such as a Best Value Contract in Region 6 vs the current "Agreement"). But again we can not pull the contract, demob the contractor or suspend him, ONLY THE AGENCY FIRE STAFF CAN AND SHOULD DO THAT IMMEDIATELY!! We in the contract community would certainly promote that in a case like this.

9/11 Wondering

The incident you speak about is not uncommon at all. I know first hand of two independent guys with trucks that spray roads for loggers then jump over to fires for the better money. They are basically fire chasers, like ambulance chasers and attorneys chasing plane crashes.

When it comes to money, people can do some real un-ethical stuff. On a fire recently the old farmer was real nice in the beginning and was more than welcoming to the troops to camp in his pastures. Then a few days later word came thru the system, we were moving. The farmer probably talked to a neighbor who told him about "all the money he was missing". He was going to charge big bucks for his pasture, so camp was moved down the road and no one made any money off that deal.

My trucks go out as fire trucks not water sprayers, when we are asked to switch to spraying roads the answer is no. Even though a couple of them have sprayers on them for use on home area fires, we are firefighters with firetrucks, not water boys. Not to say we haven't sprayed some on the way back to camp to cut the dust for the trucks and equipment following. We might even make a few courtesy passes around camp, but assigned as sprayers, no way.

Panhandle Ken
9/11 CW,

That's what we're trying to hone in on. Working within the NWCG guidelines, and expanding them, to develop national standards for professional fallers working in the fire realm...not pitting contract fallers against agency fallers. And by the way, I rather like FM...the evolution of a moniker.

FM (formerly Fire Momma)
9/11 To all the contracting folks out there. What would be your course of action when a contractor allows two trucks that require a class B license, tank endorsement, and medical certificate to be driven to and operated on an incident by operators without the proper license. The two trucks kept avoiding the vehicle inspection (hiding) area. When they were finally cornered ,the operators had a basic class C license. The vehicles also had various equipment problems.

Additionally one of the trucks was not on contract but was signed up on the incident several days after it had shown up.

After the inspection the contractor repaired most of the deficiencies and replaced one of the drivers. One truck was demobed because the contractor apparently could not find a replacement driver.

As far as I know the vehicles were paid for the entire time they were there.

My opinion is that the contractor knew what license was required because the contractor is a large interstate carrier and has been in this business for years, but simply sent the trucks anyway. The contractor should have refused the assignment. Essentially two jobs were taken from someone that had legal drivers and trucks. The one with no contract should not have been hired at the incident even if it had a legal driver. A truck on contract should have been called first. I think they should have been thanked for their efforts and sent home with NO PAY AT ALL and maybe taken off the dispatch list for awhile. After all a MAJOR SAFETY ISSUE was created here and this action left someone sitting at home missing some work while a less than honest contractor got the work.

These trucks were not on the fire line they were camp trucks for dust control. What do you think?

9/11 Ab,

Just looking through the fire pics and think that AT802 Fireboss is awesome. Good job Jorge. These pics might have been on the site awhile, but I just got a gander at them. Did the expanded crew from Grangeville get posted somewhere, Ab? I think these crews are some of the "hottest" equipment in the fire world. The stuff they have to deal with from BOTH the agencies and contractors is something else.

Fire Momma

Those photos are in some miscellaneous folder, but since I'm splitting it all up as I have time, they're in limbo... Ab.
9/11 Raker-shaker thanks for some very good points on the matter.

I feel one of the most important traits of a C Faller is knowing when to walk away. At the point the C Faller on the scene has made the decision (it is too hazardous to cut safely),. No other Faller should come in to "see if he can do it". .At that point other methods should be used.

One of the scariest fallers I have met said "I have never walked away, there is not snag or tree I can not cut down." Don't know if he is still among the living. Well I can say there are a few ( not many) that I have left ( long since blown down now I'm sure).

As for how people are qualed. (Agency vs. Private) I can say I have seen much more training and certification process on the agency or contractor who uses agency guidelines than private . Most loggers just grew up on it. cert.'s ... not or not many. Work history yep, lots of that. For me it has been both.

9/11 Raker-shaker and Spencer,

Despite the personal differences, I want to thank you both for providing
very good information regarding the "gray area / fine line" in faller
qualifications out there. Just more good data in proving that my dad
really was a firefighter (even though he was technically a "Class C
faller") to the BJA. By the way, to all those interested, Alan Wyatt's
PSOB appeal finally was assigned a hearing officer. That only took 6
months...I wonder how long the actual appeal will take?? Thanks to all who
have sent facts, ideas and opinions my way as they have all have been
greatly appreciated. I'll continue to lurk and learn...

Leigh Ann (Wyatt) Evans
9/11 Let us remember the Twin Towers today and say a prayer for the sons and daughters that are affected by the absent fathers and mothers.

Also thank you FF for all you do!!!!!!!! My husband is a FF to the bone.
thank you AB!


Yer welcome. Ab.
9/11 Spencer,

I suppose this is as good a time to ask this question as later. How, in your words, does a "C faller" become a "C faller"? This is not an attempt to argue with you. Perhaps you could start with how you were initially certified as a C-faller. If there is any way whatsoever to keep this discussion thread from disintegrating into an agency/non-agency issue, that would be very much appreciated.

Fire Momma
9/11 To Raker-shaker,

I'm an older firefighter and also a C sawyer and have been for many years. I'm trying hard to remember the "old rule" about when an agency C sawyer doesn't feel comfortable about falling a tree. Must be that memory loss kicking in, I don't even have a hint of what you're talking about. I'd say the C faller got to be a C faller for a good reason, and if he/she don't feel good about a tree, we don't need anyone else to risk their lives and maybe others by taking it on. So your options stop at the first one on your list, unless of course you think the local logger and more qualified, more experienced agency faller are expendable. By the way, what the hell is a smokejumper falling boss? Don't they call these people "spotters"?

9/10 Some new photos up from the Mineral Primm Complex, from our friends the Bomberos Forestales of Bolivia, and two AT photos from Volcanman. These are posted on Fire 19, Handcrews 10 and Airtankers 8 photo pages.

Thanks Contributors. Ab.
9/10 Hi Ab.
There is another memorial to those who fell in the 1937 Blackwater Fire on
the Shoshone NF in Wyoming. It is located along Highway 16 between Buffalo
and Ten Sleep, overlooking Meadowlark Lake, on the Bighorn NF. Couple of
photos attached. Don't know why there would be a memorial on the Bighorn,
but I think that Ranger Tyrrell was from that forest.


Blackwater Mem in WY
Blackwater Mem in WY - plaque

Thanks for the photos. Ab.

9/10 Canadian Fire Guy,

Please seriously consider attending the Timber Faller Roundtable. We have moved it from Nov. 1 to Dec. 8 & 9 to accommodate hunting season. Several people indicated it created a conflict for them. A Canadian perspective would be very welcome regarding hazard tree felling in the fire arena and the development of standards.

For those of you I've talked to personally or via email about the 2003 Timber Faller Roundtable, as well as those who have expressed interest in the participating in the Roundtable online, please note this date change. For those who don't note the change and show up anyway, well, I guess we could all go hunting. If you've sent an inquiry and I haven't responded, don't worry, I'll get Roundtable information to you as soon as its back from the printer.

Fire Momma

Hunting.. careful not to shoot each other, specially if there's any hotshots along. (tongue firmly in cheek) Ab.
9/10 The "Mum" of a Canadian-American friend sent this very non-firefighter perspective of what's happening in British Columbia. We in the US ain't alone in this, folks!


Hi there:

TODAY WE GOT A LITTLE BIT OF RAIN! Only drizzle here, but it is actually raining in Kelowna. The first time in over 70 days. It makes me feel just a bit more secure, because the bush is at least got a coating of dampness and every little spark may not explode into fire. We had a lightening strike in the hills between us and Penticton, but they threw three helicopters and a Mars waterbomber at it immediately and it was out within half an hour. That one would have taken us out. The way the fires were moving it may have taken a couple of hours to reach us once it got going, and we are on the edge of the forest and would burn. We were very lucky.

Vancouver reservoirs were getting close to the bottom, and they got half an inch of rain yesterday so they were feeling better. Vancouver region is in dire straits. Can you imagine Vancouver being in drought conditions?

And yet there are still people here in Summerland like the neighbour of Gwen's who says there is lots of water. They are just trying to scare us. So she will continue to water. The powers that be tell us we will be boiling water by the end of November because the reservoirs are so low that the water can't be properly treated and filtered when they get down to the bottom.

Anyhow, you guys have been through the drought and came through it so will we. It's just the fires that are so horrible. Over 250 homes gone now.
And the fire is threatening Gallagher's canyon. A golf course and area of pricey homes. My cousin Tom lives up there I think.

The fire has burned over half of the 18 wooden trestles that are a hundred years old in Myra canyon between Kelowna and Naramata. They were restored, the tracks removed and replaced with a walkway over the last 10 years, and used as part of the TransCanada Trail. They are irreplaceable. They were part of the old Kettle Valley line.

There are over 1200 firemen from all over in Kelowna and back into the mountains. They say they can't stop that fire and only Mother Nature can. It will probably burn until the snow flies. They are trying to protect the perimeter that abuts Kelowna but when the firestorm comes with the wind pushing it, they just have to retreat. One fireman said they were trying to establish a fireline on the outside of a subdivision, the fire came into a gully, started a vortex and he said the lawn furniture from the houses behind them was flying by their ears into the fire and they just had to move back and let the houses burn. He had tears in his eyes when he said they aren't trained to abandon homes, but they had to. They would have been engulfed in flames. In the TV pictures the houses looked like very bright spots in the wall of fire.

Nobody has been killed yet. It is just a miracle. The fire went over a crew and they lay down with their faces in the grass and it passed over. They thought they were about to die. And another crew was driven into the lake and had to be picked up by Zodiac.

There are signs all over Kelowna and Westbank, mostly hand-lettered saying thank you to the firecrews, the RCMP and the volunteers. There are lots of "you are our heroes" signs everywhere. All the store moveable letter signs have thank you signs instead of advertising on them.

Even the army is here. They are being sent from all over western Canada.

All for now,
Love, Mum
9/10 Response to WP:

Hi Ab

There are no Canadian federal laws re home protection. Forest use laws are
set by each province and to the best of my knowledge there are no laws
specifying a homeowners responsibility for defensible space, just laws being
worked out that state that if they cause a fire they pay for it.

Given the destruction wrecked in BC this year, we must conclude that we have
a higher percentage of people who live in the "stupid zone" than anywhere
else in North America. "It won't happen to me!" Yeah right!!! Go to
www.castanet.net if you want to see a little of what's happening up here.

I've been lurking around this site for some time but lost track when
deployed south for a month. Fascinated by your debate re falling
qualifications, certifications etc. Even considered attending the
roundtable in Oregon this fall. We've had the same problem for years. The
gov't approach is a 4 level PSO ticket which denotes whether or not a person
is qualified to fall dangerous trees as determined by a provincial
instructor. The Workmans Compensation Board and Industry are developing
their own strict standards that should be in place in the next couple of
years. Most industry fallers are better than our gov't fire guys but we
still have a lot of problems with the wannabbees who appear out of the
woodwork every bad fire year. Fire damaged timber is different, especially
when decadent "old growth" is burning. I did it for 25 years and survived
without a scratch and never was a production faller, fires only.

Good luck with your attempts to develop a standard accepted by all.

Soon to be retired Canadian fire guy skibum.

Welcome lurker, come again. Ab.

9/10 Here in the Northwest this year we have had the FireWise (Firesafe) program going. I think it is federally funded, anyway this has greatly improved the defensible homes around our area. They come in and inspect the property, mark the small trees, cut the trees, for elderly they were cutting it into fireplace lengths, trim the ladder fuels and the brush, stack the slash and they are out of there. usually about 3-4 days work. They did an awsum job and I have heard no complaints at all.

I also think homeowners should be responsible for doing their own work. But, there are elderly, handicapped people out there that physically cannot do the work and don't have thousands to pay themselves. The Ariz hotshots that were out by us were working thru the winter, so it gave them jobs and helped a lot of people. (they ate a lot of cookies)

My husband and sons volunteered their time, (for several elderly people) to burn the slash after the shots were done. (burning the slash is the owners responsibility). Owner responsibility is critical. But, if the $ is there and designated, then why not take advantage of the opportunity.

Personally, I'd much rather see the $ spent here than in some desert across the big water.......sammi
9/10 Ab,

NorCal Team II was assigned to the Blackwater Complex on the Shoshone
National Forest from Aug 23-30. The memorial mentioned in the Sept 9 post
is along Hwy 14 just west of Wapati (this is the east entrance to
Yellowstone). Access to the Blackwater Fire was from the trailhead of the
memorial. I didn't get a chance to hike the trail myself, but many of my
NorCal II teammates did.

Attached are a few pictures from the hwy memorial.
blackwater3.jpg, blackwater2.jpg, blackwater.jpg

blackwater2 and blackwater3 were taken by Tim Fike, OPSC, NorCal
II. blackwater, by me.

Cris Jones

Thanks Cris. Contributors, I am still working on the memorial photo page. I'll give these a permanent home there in the near future. (So many fine photos, so little time.) Ab.
9/10 Re; Blackwater Canyon Fire,

the monument is still there, as of a couple of years ago anyway, its on the road between cody wy, and the east entrance to ynp. hiway 14, dont have the lat/long.
karl brauneis, shoshone fmo, a fine historian, has considerable knowledge of the blackwater incident. he did an excellent presentation at the mso base a couple of years ago. i also believe that he published this work. dont have a link, perhaps its on the national smokjejumper assn. site.


Thanks for the tip LGE, we'll look around. Anyone see Karl, please ask him. Ab.
9/10 Viewers,

We got some logos from our Canadian bros and sisters that I put on the Logos 9 photo page. We have gotten some fine fire, crew, AT and helo pics from Canadians this summer. Thanks folks.

Also got a nice photo of the Cle Elum IA Forces. I put it on Handcrews 10 photo page. Thanks Brian.


9/10 Attached is a pic I took while in MT. The fire was in Lame Deer MT. on the Cheyenne BIA agency. Fire size, around 12,000 acres. Fire name, Craig II. Date photo was taken, 08-14-2003.

Thank you
Brian W

I put it on the Fire 19 photo page. Nice image, click on the thumbnail to get the more detailed, larger version. Ab.
9/10 Firewhirl,

A fold up soapbox? Man, you gotta come into the modern age. Those have been around for years. You need one of the new blowup soapbox's.

1) Made from recycled materials (no old growth in these babies)

2) Inflate in just a minute or two (helps your aerobic fitness and more time to spend at "They Said")

3) Endorsed by Mellie and myself (we donate all the profits to "They Said")

4) Comes with complimentary set of instructions on how to fireproof your house (and 106 reasons why the Govt would not pay for it)

9/10 Ab,

For those that haven't seen the change yet, we are entering into our Fall weather pattern in California. High pressures are building in behind the Low's producing some off shore flow. Some wind is predicted this week in the Northern part of the State. Looks like So. Cal could get some minor wind but still hot and dry.

Here we go folks. Lets get through the rest of the season with no injuries or worse.

CDF Jake
9/10 Ab,

Just a few comments on defensible space, I agree that a homeowner has a responsibility to take all actions to defend their property from wildfire. In the many years I worked in fire prevention the only time I really had any success with my "message" was when fire was licking at the door. One quote that I will always remember was from a homeowner from Bend Or, whose subdivision was burned by a large fire in the 80"s, 'There is a direct correlation between the interest in fire prevention and the heat of the ashes."

It is part of the job to help protect homes built in the forest, but there comes a point when we have to cut and run as the safety of the firefighter is more important that of a house. The more defensible space a home has, the longer we can stay and protect.

I worked with some folks from Canada a few years ago and they told me that there is a law in Canada specifying a homeowners responsibility to provide defensible space, do any of the readers of this site have any current information on the laws in Canada?

9/9 Heard from a friend on the Cod Complex tonight. As reported on theysaid earlier, the Cod Fire burned in mixed conifer with heavy dead and down fuels on the almost vertical mountainsides of the East and West Branches of El Dorado Canyon (western side of the Sierra) - very steep and inaccessible terrain indeed. That fire is now contained. Whoo whoo! Nice job everyone!

At the height of the fire there were some heavy resources committed to it: 13 Type 1 Crews, 2 Type 2 IA Crews, 4 Type 1 helos, 2 Type 2 helos and 2 Type 3 helos. That's lots of resources, but they were critically employed to get the job done. The sooner done, the better... and then released to other emerging lightning fires...

For those who don't know, the terrain in El Dorado Canyon is so steep that going any distance on foot is dangerous. At times it's impossible. It's hard to get in. It's hard to move around. It's hard to get out. It's not surprising that one of the best ways to fight fire there is for a module of firefighters rappel in, work, then hike out to the helispot. Under such circumstances when rappelling in, it's far better to know exactly where the fire is and how it's behaving; if you're rappelling and hoping to find a hotspot or do not know how active the fire is, you're in big trouble.

That brings me to the new InfraRed product that was used with great success in this challenging canyon country. The unit is called a MIRS - that stands for Mobile Laser Designated Infrared Multimedia Mapping System. Don't know how that shortens to MIRS, but the way it allows firefighters to function in extreme terrain sounds fairly remarkable.

To begin with, the MIRS images are collected on an overflight. But the overflight doesn't originate from Boise. Instead, a MIRS unit is flown over the fire by any helo or plane on the fire and images are recorded. (I think either platform can do it.) Having the unit locally placed and managed, allows it to be used as often as needed during the course of the day to aid firefighters. This is cost effective and gives almost real-time information. Once the images are captured, the system interfaces with ARCView 3.x software and produces output of several kinds. One sheet shows the fire that is geo-referenced on a USGS (24 K) topo map. Firefighters can view this either on a computer screen or as a printed product.

Another sheet of output has two parts. At the top of the sheet is the infrared thermal still image: the more color, the more heat. In standard form - red is hottest, orange is less so, and yellow even less, with blue being cool, so this still shows the hotspots. On the same sheet and below the IR thermal still is the corresponding digital still image. You can see smoke, trees, landmarks on this one, as on any photo, but no heat. What's nifty is that for each hotspot, the program then produces at least 7-10 seconds of IR thermal video. So if you have a computer for viewing, you can see which trees the fire's burning under and how it's moving on the land, which allows you to plan precise firefighter delivery and can aid in firefighting strategy.

With the system, you can tell where you should place people so they can get to work most safely and effectively. The MIR unit is invaluable when you're fighting fire in very steep terrain. In the past people were just rappelled into a general area and had to move around to find the hotspots - hazardous duty when you have to navigate multiple 15 foot mini-cliffs to get from where you landed to where the fire is. Much better to know exactly where to come to earth to get the job done.

A Type 3 IC will be taking over tomorrow to begin rehab on the Cod. They're rappelling people in to take care of a remaining hotspot - helo 514 and a module from White Cloud on the Tahoe will do duty. While that fire's contained, it's not over. Be safe all.

Our northern CA lightning fires on the coast have laid down with the rain we've gotten today. Some have gone out, thank goodness; some are smoldering along. Tomorrow and into the weekend the temps are predicted to rise again. I hope all will be safe - wherever you're fighting a going and blowing fire, or mopping up, or rehabbing, or driving home... or traveling on to your next assignment. Remember Everyone, your goal is to come home to your families in one piece when the season's over. They need you.


9/9 The Jobs Page and Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 & 0455 have been updated. There are several new ads on the jobs page itself, including federal, county and private.

9/9 Info on this year's Safety Summit in Toronto.

Dick Mangan

Safety Summit
This is a 235 K pdf file requiring Adobe Acrobat to download. Ab.

9/9 Ab

I see that the eco-war is creeping in to some recent posts. I take that
as an indicator that there's an understanding about the
interconnectedness of all things in the woods.

For any "pure" fire folks who want to better understand
forestry/silviculture matters and the contemporary "environmental"
movement, I recommend spending some time on Dr Patrick Moore's web site: www.greenspirit.com/index.cfm

Web site menu is in the left column. I suggest starting with "About
Greenspirit" and then move to "Key Environmental Issues".


Interesting website, interesting perspective. We've had a link to it before. Ab.
9/9 Another Firefighter Memorial:

Hi Ab,

I will need help from some of the folks in WY for this one. I have
another fire fighter memorial that may or may not still be there. This
memorial resulted from the loss of 15 CCC corpsmen on Aug 21, 1937 on the
Blackwater Fire on, from what I can gather, was the Big Horn NF. The CCC's
were from the Wapiti and Deaver CCC camps. The burn over was the result of
the fire crowning and running. The memorial used to be right along the
hiway but which hiway, I do not know. In 1937 there were no hiway numbers
mentioned! So anyone out there on the Big Horn or Shoshone know where this
memorial is?

Ab, if you would like some rather interesting reading, I will copy what I
have re this fire. I have a copy of a Oct 1937 Rocky Mt Region Bulletin on
the Blackwater fire. The other is an article, again a copy from a 1941
Sports Afield. I got copies from the para arch on the district where I
used to work. I don't know if Pulaski is the keeper of the keys but lots
of this stuff gets "lost" when the old timers retire. I can make copies if
you would like. The bulletin is very straight forward and factual but the
article from the Sports Afield is quite graphic "sizzzled their souls away
in the heat of the inferno that held them." We just don't write like that
anymore, thank goodness! You can let me know what you would like.


JJ, Pulaski would love to read this, I'm sure. So would the Abs. We'll reply to you by email. Thanks.
9/9 Ab,

My dad just told me a story about fuel reduction "back in the good ol'
days." It's kind of a twist to the debate of government funding for work on
private land. How about private landowners doing work on neighboring
federal lands?

In the late 1970's there was maybe 10 acres of beetle-kill ponderosa on the
national forest above our land. He simply told the district ranger that we
would take care of it. By the time anyone came out to see what was going
on, we had hundreds of trees on the ground. Nobody from the agency had to
mark which trees to cut, and we covered the newly infected with plastic to
cover stop the spread.

Instead of some big deal being made of it, a timber sale was hastily written
up and we paid a dollar for the contract. No lawsuit was filed, and neither
environmentalist or -ologist voiced objection.

That beetle infestation was stopped that time, only to come back with a
vengeance the last 5 years or so.

I doubt there are many "progressive" ranger districts around that embrace
the "new" policies like stewardship contracting or Good Neighbor projects
enough to allow things like what happened 30 years ago.

vfd cap'n
9/9 To "An old gray haired dude"

As an agency "ologist" myself I would like to reply to a couple of points.

1. Yes I have encountered, dealt with, and had a roommate once that were what we deemed "LA Environmentalists" (no regional jibe intended- that's where my roomie was from). These are people who had never worked the lands, experienced the complexity, or sometimes even peed in the woods. They in terms of legislation have, with the best of intentions, screwed up the world with some (not all) stupid legislation and numerous lawsuits. The best we can do is teach, inform, demonstrate and never give up.

2. In college I learned fire is a vital part of the ecology and something to work with- not against. Most ologists have that understanding theoretically but some still need to be exposed to some cross-training where we can see how things work and act in the field. Mentors not adversaries. I have seen mentoring in my agency where the ologists are taken into the field to see firsthand how fire and fuels management works. We are what some call the "fire plan babies." We are here to help do the clearances for the fuels projects, assist where needed, and learn how to better serve the environment utilizing all options. Heck, BLM even has a class called "BLM Foundations for Fire and Resource Professionals" that teaches this type of stuff.

3. In the field office where I used to work, we had a forester who didn't talk much in the office, but once we went out in the field a few times he taught me volumes. I will always admire and respect him for taking the time to teach a youngin about the forest while I taught him a little bit about technology.

4. I agree we as agencies have been lax in managing our lands at times. There was a boom of personnel in the 70's then with legislation, changes in attitudes and the personnel reduction in the 80's and 90's, things fell by the wayside. We have a chance now- not to blame, shame, or stand in the way. We are trying to start managing again- let us recognize the issue, stop lamenting the tragedy and get our $$ into our acres while creating partnerships to maximize the benefits.

I am young, I am idealistic, I am a permanent employee and I refuse to stop until the respect flows both ways from resources to fire and fire to resources. I also acknowledge that there are some bad apples and it is management's job to step up to the plate and deal with them.

I am an environmentalist, a realist (I do believe in conservation as well as preservation- depending on the acre), and I love that dragon named fire,


p.s. sorry so long winded- I know we're from different agencies but we all serve for the greater good of the resources and people.

Multiple perspectives, that is our strength. Thanks for sharing yours. Ab.
9/9 Reply to Shot's Mom RE unsafe vehicles.

The Ground Support Unit is supposed to inspect vehicles upon demob. This
serves two purposes -- first, any vehicle damage that occurs on the fire
can be documented and repair costs charged to the incident, and most
importantly, don't send people home in unsafe vehicles.

During a heavy demob there is often a line of vehicles waiting for the
mechanical inspection. Drivers get impatient (they want to go home, not do
the paperwork circus) so they pull out of line, forge a signature on the
demob sheet, and go on their merry way oblivious to their imminent
mechanical failure.

I cannot say if that is the case here. But every firefighter has the right
to a safe assignment, and that includes the trip home. The same right of
refusal to an unsafe line assignment extends to being a passenger in an
unsafe vehicle.

9/9 An old gray-haired dude -

If you were aiming your commentary my way, I'll bite.... but I'm not peeved at the agencies. I'm peeved at the general public who expect WAY too much - as Old Dispatcher lays out well. And I'm peeved at politicians who continue to be unreasonable and irrational. Today I heard that "lawmakers are backing Bush's $87 billion dollar war funds request" when AT THE SAME TIME the Forest Service is defending the money it spends in a year (an 87th of that) to fight fire and protect public AND PRIVATE property to Congress. Give me a break. Neither the public or the politicians have the chutzpah to face real problems at home, and I'm not just talking about wildfires and forest management.

And as far as that goes, I'm not convinced that poor forest health is completely caused by -ologists and environmentalists and environmentally minded Presidents (come on now... seriously... can you really say we've had environmentally minded Presidents? who?). Poor forest health is way too complex for that simple explanation. Environmentalists wouldn't have gotten so vocal if the environment wasn't so badly treated in the first place. And, they're not all bad. Just the irrational ones holding up actual healthy forest management plans and the eco-terrorists causing more destruction and bad press for their cause.....

...enough from me...
y'all stay safe-

(still on my soapbox after all these years! it folds up and stores well...)
9/9 Ive never been known to keep my mouth shut so here is a bit more for all of us to chew on in the topic of structure protection & the home owners responsibility.

I just got back from an assignment in MT a week ago. While there, I was in a position to go to many of the town meetings for several of the complexes going on.

On the first day there, I was at a town meeting and the type 1 IC got to the point where he asked if anyone had any questions. One homeowner in the crowd spoke up with the ultimate segue for the IC to talk about home owner responsibility in protecting their home if there ever was one. I cant give you an exact quote, but the gist of the homeowners question was that he had seen or heard somewhere about this "blizzard of embers" that starts many homes on fire and wanted to know more about that and what they could to help protect their homes. The IC's reply (again I cant quote, probably because I was too shocked) was basically not to worry, we have structure protection in place. ...I almost choked on the spot.

The flip side of that is several days later I was at another town meeting (different town and different fire complex) and the structure protection specialist for the incident spoke to the group on the topic. He did an excellent job. As hard as it may have been for some in the audience to swallow, he told it like it is. (for brevity I will not go into detail here).

While it was obvious that some areas had done quite a bit of mitigation or firewise work, (by the number of homes that survived), overall I was still amazed at how often the topic of the homeowners responsibility to prepare their home for wildfire and how to do that was like a new idea to the general public. ..And this in an area that went through this exact same situation only 2 years ago.

9/9 Fire son called last night to tell me where he was heading. His crew is
traveling in two vans through three states across some pretty rugged country. The
going is slow because, as he put it, "We are holding these vans together
literally with duct tape, and they keep breaking down."

I have rebuilt my own automobile engines (and a transmission or two) and I
know how far duct tape can take you--and its limitations. I don't expect my son
to be transported luxuriously. I expect him to be transported SAFELY. A van
that needs to be held together with tape, and that breaks down numerous times
does not qualify in my book as "safe."


Is it standard operating procedures to send ff's out in substandard vehicles?
Do Safety Officers have a say or responsibility to check out these vehicles?
If not, who does? Who owns these vehicles? Who is responsible for getting
these vehicles licensed and registered?

On another note:

An interesting article in The Economist on predicting and monitoring forest


Shot's Mom
9/8 I have read the posts on who is responsible and outa pay for the huge fuels problem in the West. There are a few old gray haired folks still around who remember when the National Forests were MANAGED and not locked up and PROTECTED from management.

Back in those days, bug infestations were treated by falling and spraying the infected trees as soon as they were identified, this helped to control the spread. Forests were thinned and trees were harvested, they are a renewable resource you know, new ones will grow to replace those harvested.

Remember those folks, the environmentalists, who want everything to remain unscathed for their childrens children? They and the ologists have driven the forests to the status they are in now. Don't blame the old managers, folks, their hands were tied by laws passed by congress and directives from environmental-minded Presidents, by legal actions and court decisions forced by the environmentalists who for the largest majority DO NOT LIVE in or near the National Forest.

Bugs and drought are a cyclical thing, just so happens that this time it is hitting some high value real estate in a high profile area. After 100 years of successful fire suppression and 30 years of NO MANAGEMENT but preservation, what do you expect?

Unfortunately the forest service today, for the most part, is managed by the ologists who are out to protect the group of plants or animals of their interest and have failed miserably to understand that what they are doing will be wiped out when the fire comes; then they will lay the blame on the fire folks for not dealing with the fire.

When was the last time anyone can remember when the forest service hired a real true forester someone that understands the ecosystem? I grew in that San Bernardinos and in the fiftys and sixtys you could walk through most of the forest (which was then managed). Beginning in the mid seventys the dog hair thickets got so bad you couldn't think about it.

So instead of gettin up in arms at the agencies, why dont you take on the ones responsible for the dilemma, the environmentalists, ologists and most of all the courts and Congress! If the laws and the current preservation philosophy doesnt change and change soon, this problem is going to fix itself by burning down the west so that everyone can start all over.

An old gray haired dude
9/8 Property Owners...

It has been a long time since I have been on the ground, but I can tell that
things have not changed. Way back in 1988, I was crew rep for 2 agency
crews from SD. We were doing a good job of protecting a subdivision near
Ogden, UT. Again, the same old thing - trees growing over the homes, trees
right up to the houses, all the things you are NOT to do to protect your
home. We were going off shift one morning and passed some of the returning
home owners. They were all saying Thank You for saving our homes. I
thought that was pretty nice of them until I got to thinking about it.

The guys on my crew would never in their ENTIRE lives make as much money
as one of the homes we saved cost, yet those home owners expected us to
lay our lives on the line if we had to protect their homes. That made me mad
and has bothered me ever since. You may have the big bucks to build those
lovely homes but DO NOT even think to ask us to risk our lives because you
don't want to ruin your idea of what living in the forest is. I for one
will not risk my life nor will I let anyone that I am working with do it
either. My own home is fire proofed, trees cut, green belt mowed around
the area, metal roof and fire wood stacked away from the house. It looks
just fine and has survivable space! People need to wake up. Survivable
space does not mean trash the area around your homesite. It means make it
safe for you and for those who may be asked to protect it for you.

Thanks for listening to my more than two cents worth.

Old Dispatcher
9/8 I am quite concerned that there is a building perception out there that the driver safety issue is a contractor issue. I believe that it is fair to say that the contract community has adopted and follows the FS Emergency Driving policy.

Also, note that you cannot have contract crews with non ff drivers, these would really be SRV crews delivered by bus or type 3 crews. These would not be type 2 crews as defined by the contract. The definitions as put forth by the PNWCG are clear about 20 man crews and their descriptions.

Also it needs to be understood that contractors must abide by the US Bureau of Labor regulations regarding drivers and also by MSPA. Our drivers must be finger printed, driving records checked, and drivers must be certified or at least on the Region 6 contract (about 90% of contract crews come off this contract). They cannot arbitrarily pick an individual to drive the vehicle. As we all know, industry or agency, work or play, any time you are behind the wheel driver error can happen, we are human beings not robots.

I applaud and mourn with First Strike Environmental, and the families who have lost loved ones. But understand that there are no Agency-wide or Industry-wide, mandated guidelines for drivers and therefore, it is up to each individual company to oversee their driver program. TO a contactor, SAFETY is the utmost of all issues not money, as without safety you stand to lose everything you work for!!!

Again my heart goes out to the those families and I hope that we all keep perspective on individual judgment errors vs industry problems.

9/8 Raker Shaker,

Thanks for some solid perspective.

Though you didn't spell it out, you brought to the surface the discussion regarding felling "large" trees vs "challenging" hazard snags. Those would be the ones that can kick anyone's rear. Therein lies the questionable applicability of using the "C-faller" designation to determine whether a faller - agency or private - has the skill to fell hazard snags. Just because an individual manages to convince the qualifier they are able to cut a tree 24 inches or larger, it says very little about their overall falling skills.

Also, you mentioned regional falling differences. Establishing regional timber typing information is an initiative we've been working on. Yes, hiring "local" fallers, or tapping into experienced agency fallers who know the characteristics of the local timber (fire compromised or sound) is wise. But, though there is still commercial logging going on in various sections of the country, the faller pool is growing shallower and shallower. Faller/Bunchers are being used in applications where they can be. And, we actually support that where it decreases the safety hazard for fallers. Still, the machines don't have universal applicability. Professional fallers remain vital to both the commercial logging industry and the fire suppression realm. Discussion of "national standards" should not be allowed to dissolve into a "private contractor vs agency" argument. It's a universal issue that's going to take all of us to work through. (I'm not suggesting you were holding a divisive line...I don't believe you are...)

We certainly haven't found an answer to the dwindling professional faller pool, but have developed some strategies to link local fallers with "non-local" fallers in order to encourage knowledge transfer. Teaming senior fallers with less experienced fallers is working very well, too. When these falling teams are in the field, there is also a tremendous amount of "Hey, I know you!" that goes on with agency fire folks, especially those involved in what few sale administrative activities that still go on in our forests. If we can encourage communication and curtail animosity, we sure think things go smoother all the way around. New ideas are more valuable than gold.

Thanks again for throwing your thoughts into the arena.

Fire Momma
9/8 In reference to Firehorse and Mellie's comments, three cheers for you both!
I can't agree more.

My major pet peeves in this area for all who care to read them:
  • Home/property owners who expect "the government" to save their homes
    when they've done nothing to help themselves
  • Property owners who expect "the government" to fund their "emergency"
    (ie: the dead tree 'crisis' on the San Bernardino) when they've had years
    to prevent overgrowth and fire hazards in the urban interface in the first place.
  • Property owners who gripe about big government and the Forest Service
    who AT THE SAME TIME don't want to pay for the infrastructure to run
    water lines to their areas for fire protection OR pay for fire protection
    districts OR pay federal or local taxes for fire protection OR pay higher
    insurance rates for living in fire/earthquake/hazard -prone areas. YOU

Yet, for the low low price of at least billion dollars a year, the US
Forest Service continues to save the day when these fires happen, and FEMA
continues to dole out money to pay state and local government (example:
www.fema.gov/emanagers/2003/nat090803.shtm) for fires that may have
been prevented if everyone wouldn't have sat around for years doing nothing
about it (expecting that the government they didn't want to pay for would
be there to save the day anyway).

Meanwhile, the rest of the Forest Service programs get cut because Congress
doesn't seem to think that fires should cost that much, but that we should
put them out anyway, and we continue to do a poor job of effectively
managing the forests because the money continues to be cut because no one
wants to pay for an effective Forest Service.

Told you they were pet peeves. I have no patience for hypocrites. I love
that I can vent on this board though!
Be safe out there-

firewhirl (the original)

Welcome back, firewhirl. Ab.

9/8 To firehorse,

you hit the nail right square on the head. nice job. i have
always said that these people should learn to run a saw and swing a
swedish brush axe. and you are also right that alot of those people
could well afford to pay to have fuels removed. I am a little tried of
people pushing responsibility for themself off on others .

fire gimp
9/8 Add my thanks to Mellie's, thx to the Forest Service on the driving issue.

It is still going to depend on the individuals to adhere to the policy presented.
Like the seat belt issue, the powers that be can enact a law that says "Buckle UP" but once I am in that car, it is my responsibility to fasten that belt.

Please firefighters, do not take chances and be strong enough to say no < !!!! > I'm not driving nor riding with ------, he has been up too long, or I have been up too long. You will be (or better be) respected for taking a stand. Your life DOES depend on it!!!!! And believe me, your life is worth more than that macho image. If you do have a problem when saying no, e-mail the incident to the abs and they can pass it on to theysaid/ familysaid without your identity being disclosed.

We will go to war for ya......stay safe.

Sammi, the warrior-ess. What would we do without 'em? Thanks family supporters. Ab.
9/8 I just tuned in on the issue of tree falling qualifications and I think
there are notable points to be taken by both contributors.

First of all, older firefighters know, and many remember that the old rule
of saw used to be that if an agency class c faller was uncomfortable with
putting down a tree, there were options: 1) wait until it burns its way to
ground, 2) get another c-faller more experienced and willing, or 3) hire a
local logger. In the small communities across the west this always seemed
to work - especially in big-tree country where there still are professional
loggers (no shit!).

Is there a difference in being a class c trained faller on a dry-site
douglas fir, lodgepole pine type forest, as there is being a class c
trained faller in the coastal doug-fir, spruce, redwood forest type? You
bet there is. Is there a difference between falling (thinning) green sound
trees or sound snags than cat-faced, bark sloughing, smoke spitting,
roman-candles? You bet there is.

If I am in foreign territory or timber type with the responsibility of
working with agency fallers or local, qualified, and experienced fallers
who know the species mechanics and species characteristics of the wood -
which would I pick to "fell" the trees? I'd go with the most knowledgeable
and most proven experienced - most likely the local - especially if there
was a certification enforced process.

Years ago we didn't have this problem. There were lots of loggers and you
could always spot the good ones and they usually made themselves even
better by taken on the challenges of falling fire affected trees.

The idea of qualifications for contract fallers is a good one. The call
for having them provide proof is even better. Enforcing the contracts is
best. There is a lot to be said for putting good fallers in with better
fallers to gain experience. I like that. Most people who enjoy falling as
much as they respect it - understand that it is a profession. By all means
we should have none but the best wielding the tools that fall some of
earth's largest living creatures. As a former smokejumper falling boss I
can tell you it makes you real humble when some big pumpkin comes rolling
back on the stump back at ya. And if not for preestablished swamped out
safe routes and a three person spotting system - we would have read a lot
more in the past about experienced agency fallers getting creamed. When
you do something all of the time you instinctively get to know the
intimacies of the job moreso than if you cut "a few" LARGE trees in your
life time. Messing around with falling fire weakened, disease infected,
insect infested, or just plain rot is not a job for the inexperienced.

Besides, for those real nasties - some spell "falling:"

9/8 Thanks to you Forest Service for taking the steps you did to maximize
the safety of our firefighters.


Hi Firehorse <smooch>
9/8 FS has adopted driving guidelines as policy.

(See attached file: FS_emerg_driving_8_03)

Old Fire Guy

Thanks OFG. Ab.
9/8 Quick post from the field.

You're unlikely to get an answer to your cost question. We all know
information on cost could do Agency Firefighters harm when/if fire comes
up for competitive outsourcing. With that info a contractor could lowbid
-10% under - and win the contract. Not saying you would do that - you
probably wouldn't - but there are those that would, they could skimp
by the first year or two and then raise their price once fed fire crews had
been mothballed. Too bad this outsourcing process puts us on opposite
sides of the table.

Be Safe ff
Tahoe Terrie
9/8 I was wondering about the approx cost of a type 2 FSR crew for a day, I
know contract crews cost but was wondering which cost more and what are
peoples opinion of both?

EX R-5er
9/8 Mellie and Firehorse,

I found your posts about fuel reduction around private properties to be very interesting. The August issue of Smithsonian had an article in part dealing with that very issue. I thought you might find it interesting as well.

What I found interesting was the district ranger in the article claimed the landowners were against prescribed burning on the adjacent forest because of the smoke it caused and they were against thinning because they had moved there to live in the trees and didn't want them cleared out.

Ab, this is a pdf of the article I attached. Could you help me out with it? It's not very large.

Heli Groupie

Heli Groupie, thanks for trying to share info on this thread, but we can't reprint articles from magazines or newspapers without permission. To do so violates copyright laws. I know other online forums often do, but we don't. If Smithsonian has the article posted online, we can link to it. We can also quote small parts of written work if we provide a link or reference to the whole thing. Ab.

Just found the link. I didn't realize Smithsonian was online without a fee. Those interested can download the pdf file for themselves.
Fire Fight
9/8 Tired firefighters: I know first hand that very dangerous decisions are made that definitely endanger FF lives.

Several weeks ago a firefighter that had pulled a very busy weekend shift was sent to a fire in Oregon to deliver a fresh Engine Crew and bring the crew that had been with the Engine back home after their 2 weeks. This driver had just finished his 24 hrs., drove to Oregon, (about 300 miles) with the fresh crew, then turned around (with no rest time) and drove back with the tired crew. Where was, if nothing else, just plain common sense?

Panhandle Ken
9/8 In Mellies 9/7 post, she gave the "Raspberry" to those folks thinking the government should take are of them when it comes to reducing fuel loads.

My feelings: <hoisting myself up on the soapbox>

1) We should only spend tax dollars on public lands fuel reduction, not private property. Really sticks in my craw that anyone would think public money be spent on fuels reduction on private property.

2) When fuels reduction is done around a home in the path of a fire, the owner should be charged following the fire. How many $$$ are spent each year having 20 person crews clear out around homes in an attempt to save them. If the homeowner did not care enough to do it before the fire, why should my tax money bail them out for free? Some of the homes you see on TV that have had work done for free can certainly afford to pay for said work. (Black Butte Ranch near the B&B complex comes to mind)

3) Allot of those that expect the Govt to clear their ground and save their house are probably saying the Govt should keep it's nose out their business the rest of the time.

4) I hear alot around Southern Oregon about how the Govt has increased the danger to private lands because they did not take care of fuel loads on Govt land. Give me a break! If they had done a good job of fuels reduction on their property in the first place, it would not matter what the adjacent property owner did or did not do.

5) If a homeowner does not want to clear around their home properly because they like the "Wilderness Experience" then they should tell me they are willing to accept the consequences that come with living in a potentially volatile environment.

6) If a homeowner should read this and be offended, oh well. Clear out around your home, don't expect the taxpayer to foot the bill, and don't expect my fellow firefighters to risk their lives protecting something they should not have to. (Bad enough we lose 8 on a drive home.) If a homeowner has done a good job of fuels reduction, there should be no need for "Defensible Space" because there would be no need for any FF to be around a home constructed and "Fireproofed" correctly.

7) If a Govt agency has a controlled burn getaway, they should pay for any damage to homes whether they are fireproofed or not. (Los Alimitos anyone?)

8) Keep stirring my juices Mellie.

<Stepping down off soapbox>
9/8 FF dad...thx for the kind and supportive post. I appreciate your concern and involvement. Your name "FF's dad" says it all. I am a FF's mom (and wife) many times over (only once wife) and I have complete empathy for your apprehension and concern for your FF's safety. We still have one son that lives here and everytime that pickup heads out of the driveway I gulp and say a little prayer. and I mean everytime, whether he is headed to a fire or a movie.

I applaud Mr. Krueger of First Strike for being pro active and arranging for fresh drivers to take his FF to and bring them back from the fires. I would not wish his last few weeks on anyone and I offer him and his people my thoughts and prayers.

I read the newspaper article that was suggested and I appreciate the concern that drivers that have been sitting two weeks are not fresh...I absolutely agree. I don't have the solutions but I do feel there has to be a way to address this problem. There are drivers that shuttle cars, motor homes, etc all over this country. Why couldn't there be some kind of non-FF drivers pool available.? Sort of like U-haul for FF. Honestly, I do not have the answers I just think the issue needs to be looked at closely. At least Mr. Krueger has acted on the issue promptly and in the most efficient way he could at this time.

I had the opportunity, by accident, this weekend to observe FF in their down time and it was very interesting. We were in a restaurant and there was probably 40 FF there off-duty. They were eating and standing around gabbing with each other and rehashing the days events. Sort of critiquing the days work. They were all obviously showered and cleaned up. But in that sea of fire t-shirts from all over the place my observation was drawn to their faces, and they were exhausted. Yea, they were laughing and having a good time enjoying each others company but they were so tired.....it was unmistakable. it didn't take a long time and things started winding down and they gradually wandered out to their rooms.....but my comment to my husband was "I hope none of them are driving very far".

My second concern is the not only tired drivers. Drivers that are FF are having that adrenaline rush just like the FF's the driver is transporting to the fire. The driver is all jacked up about the same things his passengers are. There is always lots of joking etc going to the fires. (distraction) Everyone wants to get there yesterday. (hurry) Young drivers do not have the experience or the discipline necessary to safely transport their crew mates. For older members of the crews, it is still unsafe because of the distractions and the hurry to the fire or hurry home from the fire.......we have documented accidents both ways.

Thx to you Mr. Krueger for taking the steps you did to maximize the safety of your firefighters.

9/7 Ab,

Here are the pictures from Oregon I said I would take. They now have crosses and the flags are on top of them.


Collage of photos of the roadside memorial to the 8 firefighters who died in the van accident. Thanks, KB. Ab.
9/7 CW

You make many unfounded assumptions in your argument. You assume I am contending MY fallers are better qualified than fallers in the agencies, including HS fallers. I don't believe you will find that position in any of my posts. Please, allow me to clarify for you...

WE (not I...)contend ALL professional fallers hired to work on wildland fires should be required to provide verification of both their commercial falling experience AND their FF related training. Currently, they are not. WE contend professional fallers are hired each year during fire season to cut hazard trees on fires. This is not an unexpected phenomenon. It happens each year. We contend the EERA system under which these hazard tree fallers are hired is flawed and precipitates unsafe conditions on the fire line when unqualified fallers are hired. WE implemented a background and training verification system for our roster of fallers. WE contend the fallers on our roster have proven commercial falling experience and FF related training. WE contend other fallers should be required to do the same. Should you, like some of the other folks accustomed to the way things have been operating in the past, interpret this as "one contractor wanting all the faller fire work in the region" well, CW there's no amount of the above mentioned logic that is EVER going to bust through that firmly entrenched, yet poorly mistaken opinion.

I'm not sure where your argument regarding "green trees" vs burned trees comes from. IF you had followed my pervious posts, you would have recognized the fact WE believe seasoned commercial fallers experienced with all forms of "green" (do you mean "sound"?) tree felling are better able to anticipate the felling characteristics of fire compromised trees than less experienced sawyers who have never worked in the logging industry. That does not mean they can't learn. But how much better to learn beside a seasoned timber faller than in the field solo? Even so, ...even with the extensive knowledge some of these professional fallers have, there are still going to be incidents similar to what has occurred this season when seemingly "sound" trees collapse. Secondly, I have NEVER suggested there are not experienced fallers employed within the land management agencies. There are plenty. THAT is not what's at issue. The main issue I recently brought to the table was the expressed opinion by HS crews that their crew sawyer could do anything a professional timber faller could do. My suggestion to address this situation, was to have HS crews work with a professional timber faller when possible. That's one way to build report and respect both ways. Animosity, disrespect and assumption only lead to poor communication and unsafe working relationships. When you're dealing with hazard snag removal (burned OR sound) that can be disastrous.

CW, your suggestion that I am "self serving" almost knocks your attempt at dialog into the "why bother?" realm for me. But, I appreciate your efforts to bring forward an opposing view. Yes, we certainly are disappointed the R6 faller solicitation was not successful. We are hopeful it will be this coming year. We believe, if it is, it will substantially improve the quality and professionalism of hazard tree fallers on the fireline. I believe it should be clear I mean an improvement FOR THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY, not just "my" fallers" (a term I find offensive, as would the 35 fallers on our roster AND their wives...) It certainly will leave the current EERA system in the dust as far as requiring proof of background, qualifications and training.

You said... "I know you want work for the R-6 Fallers , and I wish the R-6 falling contract would have flown. But it would only be as good as the enforcement put on it. When R-6 COs get tough on enforcement, things will get better for those on the line. Please remember there are MANY qualified people on the line with C Quals doing a good job. Your Professional timber fallers can not be on all fires and cut all the trees. If you were a long time FF you would know this."

CW, WE fully understand that our fallers cannot be on "all fires and cut all the trees." We are working toward encouraging the agencies to incorporate a hiring system that comes closer to assuring the fallers (not just ours) that DO make their way to the fire line are who they say they are, and are qualified to be there. Do you have a problem with that? Yes, enforcement is key. But, if there are no standards, there is nothing to enforce. In all of your post I saw no alternative suggestion or options for improving the current system. That is disappointing. I grow weary of so much dialog with very little focus on solutions. The ONLY shred of a suggestion I could salvage from your post was a slight suggestion that agency COs should (?) get tough on enforcement. But, in regard to fallers, again, if there are no stated standards, there can be no enforcement. And if there is no pressure from the agency fire shop to implement standards, the current status quo will remain in place.

You have no idea the extent of my fire experience inside or outside any agency. Be very careful about your assumptions.

Finally, the last line of my recent post said "any thoughts?" CW, I do appreciate you providing yours, even if they are far different from mine. Even though we disagree on most points, its only through dialog that we can try to work toward improving safety for everyone.

Fire Momma
9/7 vfd cap'n, how interesting.

The wording of the article changed between when I posted the link and when you read it. I was going to get Ab to print the quote you posted, but those two little paragraphs were longer than 20-25 words which Ab said is the recommended maximum to avoid copyright infringement. So I just posted the link.

The original wording of the paragraph ... "RS ... said more should have been done by the government to clear the dead trees and dry brush"

And do we doubt that the media reads here? <cracks up>

Good job on what you're doing with your interface population. Sounds like equal participation on the public and governmental sides.

I really don't mind fair and appropriate governmental help with reducing fuel loading. What I do mind is the PRESUMPTION of the public - including those who do not make their own homes firesafe - that the government should take care of them.<loud strawberry sound>

Some of you might find this article from my neck-o-the-woods an interesting read. Ready for Wildfire? It came out a month ago. Timely. Now we have hundreds of smaller and larger lightning fires in Northern California. Responsibility for being ready for wildfire rests with each of us who owns property.


Mellie, the change in wording is rather amazing. I had to reread that twice to believe my eyes. Ab.
9/7 R6 HSs Bro,

Thanks. I also understand my posts can get a little intense. Its been a long season already. I try to pay attention to implied meaning but sometimes I'm just tired and a bit careless.

It's also weird having been both inside and outside the agencies. Things are neither one or the other for me. The bottom line is safety. Communication and mutual respect play such a large part of that.

I'd want a brother like you to stick up for me if you thought I was being attacked too. I never had that luxury.

Fire Momma
9/7 Mellie,

I couldn't find a quote in the linked article blaming the government for the dead trees on private property. The closest I found was:

Rebecca Smith, a teacher from Running Springs who was forced to evacuate, said more should have been done to clear the dead trees and dry brush.

"So many people here can't afford to take down dead trees," said Smith, 53. "It was a disaster waiting to happen. So many trees have to come down to keep us safe. It's very frustrating."

We sent our volunteer firefighters out the last couple weeks to field check the new GIS wildland fuels maps that were compiled from aerial photographs of all subdivisions in our county. Some homeowners had done a pretty good job of managing for beetles but had done nothing really to manage for fire in terms of continuity of fuels or defensible space.

On other properties the beetle-killed trees had been taken out, but new beetles will surely emerge next year from the standing live trees that were already attacked.

Around here, there are contractors of a wide range of quality in the fire mitigation business. Some just seem to be taking the larger trees for timber and leaving most of the smaller fuels. And many people just are not physically abled or skilled to do the work themselves. Disposal of the slash seems to be one of the larger hurdles.

I don't have a problem with government shouldering a responsibility for mitigation on private land. The fire doesn't care about property ownership, and neither should we. I wrote and was awarded a grant for $20,000 in for NFP Community Assistance money from BLM for our fire department to bring a tub grinder here for a month this fall. We'll grind several large slash piles on public land, as well as maybe a dozen piles in the subdivisions. The resulting wood chips will either go to bioenergy projects or land rehabilitation projects.

vfd cap'n

9/7 Fire momma

Your point on Pro Fallers is ok to a point and then is just self serving. "Your" Contract Fallers are mostly very good. But many HS and other Fire personnel may at times be better qualified. Often we are not cutting Green Timber on fires. Fire weakened Snags adds a whole different element AND requires a different skill level that many LONG TERM FF Fallers have. This is an art learned over many years. Some of the best Fallers I have have known were ex-Shots or Smokejumpers, and old loggers. I agree there are people out there not up to the task, That will be the case even if they were all pro timber Fallers. Not all can be excellent at what they do, though some are. Most are good, and some are only good enough. Still others are not good enough, but do it anyway. I think this is true in all the ICS positions of the fire world.

I know you want work for the R-6 Fallers , and I wish the R-6 falling contract would have flown. But it would only be as good as the enforcement put on it. When R-6 COs get tough on enforcement, things will get better for those on the line. Please remember there are MANY qualified people on the line with C Quals doing a good job. Your Professional timber fallers can not be on all fires and cut all the trees. If you were a long time FF you would know this.


Posters, please try to stick to the issues, rather than making personal comments. Getting personal often polarizes and shuts down discussion. We're here to foster discussion so we can learn from each other, hopefully to make the firefighting profession a safer one. Ab.
9/7 Thanks for the explanation, FireMomma.

What you're saying is there needs to be better communication between
HS, incl the hotshots who are trained and experienced fallers and
professional fallers who are not HS.

OK. I'm not a HS but I can see the benefit of that. Working together is
a good way to get to know each others strenghts and weaknesses and
get past differences. My brother and your husband would probably
have a fine time working together on some problem flaming snags.

R6 HSs Bro
9/6 From Firescribe:

Bridge Fire Maps:
yesterday www.fireimaging.com/imaging/2003/california/248/index.phpl
today       www.fireimaging.com/imaging/2003/california/249/index.phpl

Geomac   http://wildfire.cr.usgs.gov/ca_geomac/viewer.php
9/6 I just read an article in which a woman who evacuated apparently suggests that the government should be responsible for removing beetle killed trees on private property. Gimme a break! Of course, it could be the way the AP reporter quoted her...

Wildfire on edge of San Bernardino National Forest threatens 1,500 homes

Yeah, and when the "government" gets done, they can come and harvest the deadwood at our ranch in the Trinity Alps, too.


9/6 Abercrombie,

Please let those who read you website know that there is some good work being done on the Cod Complex to "burn out and hold the line". I'm told that is the correct jargon.

Many Thanks to Firefighters from residents in the area. Be sure and let the fire team and firefighters know we say thanks. We don't want to get our hopes up too high, but we are hopeful that after today we may all breathe a little easier.

Johny Appleseed

Hi Johny. As you must know, that's NorCal Team II and its 700+ firefighters and resources, including 13 type 1 crews, 3 heavy helos, 1 type 2 helo, 2 type 3 helos and 1 AT. Given the vertical terrain, the type 1 crews and air support are critical. May the weather hold steady. Ab.
9/6 Hi Sammi
I just saw this posted on the Fire information site for the "Northwest Area Command Joint Information Center". It mainly talks about some fire behavior they've been experiencing at the Blackfoot complex in NW Montana, but it also gives some interesting information about plume driven fires in general. At the end he discusses the dangers of plume collapse.

Hope the info is helpful.


Ab- this is the first 'official' mention I've seen about the problems on the 27th. The column *did* collapse.


So LLFF13, your guys who made a run for it in MT that day really were responding to the fire behavior brought on by the collapsing plume. Glad they were OK.
Sammi, t-storms are one source of upper atmospheric change that can wreak havoc with plume-dominated fire. Ab.
9/6 From Firescribe, news from the perspective of the Victorville resources on the Bridge Fire.

9/6 Good morning! (or evening!)

Here's some fun stats for you from the South Ops sit reports: Thursday, south zone had somewhere over 84 people committed internally, and by Friday at midnight they had over 1,365 people committed on some misc. fire use fires and 2 new large fires (only one of which is big enough for the National Situation Report).

The other busy GACCs had this many people committed as of Friday morning.... Northern Rockies: 2,708,
Northwest: 923,
Northern California: 548.

It is amazing to me still that you can mobilize so many people within south ops so fast.... an amazing mutual aid system and a pretty tight system overall. Anyway, thoughts for the night. Of course, the south ops sit report also says they're out of resources, so things are finally starting to get interesting! What will happen? Y'all stay safe...


Looking at the numbers last night, or was it early this morning, I was wondering about resources and drawdown. Readers, check that South OPS News site for updates. Ab.

9/5 Ab, here are the resources on the Bridge Fire as of 1645 and submitted 2200:

13 Type 1 crews, 1 Type 2 crew,
1 heavy helo, 3 Type 2 helos,
20 Single Resource Engines, 7 Strike Teams of engines,
3 dozers,
5 water tenders,
4 overhead,
250 personnel in all.

Cooperating and Assisting Agencies include USFS, CHP, BDC, BLM, NPS, BIA, CDF, San Bernardino County Sheriff, CalTrans, Animal Control.

Looks like Dietrich signed off on the 209. I'm hoping he's home and not off with his team someplace like MT.

9/5 Sammi,

It well could be that your 9/2 post re: driver fatigue was in some way a factor in First Strike Environmental's decision to use fresh drivers for FF crew transport. I applaud their quick action in response to this tragedy.

Ab, please help, here's the link to the story:

Let there be a domino effect within the industry. This should be a no-brainer "lesson-learned". I endorse Sammi's idea that there be a pro-active move by the FF policy makers to force the issue.

FF's Dad
9/5 Another source of recent media reports. Check the FireNews page under
Current Events: Bark Beetle and Fire.


Here's the first one from NBC4 TV:
Wildfire In Local Forest Causes Precautionary Evacuations
9/5 We've got a big fire in San Bernardino, called the Bridge Fire.
Ralph Domanski's Type 2 ABC team has been called up.
At around 7PM it was estimated to be about 1400 acres. Fire is well-established in City Creek Canyon.
Evacuations underway:
Smiley Park (spotting across Hwy 330), Fredalba, Nob Hill, Enchanted Forest.
An initial temporary evacuation center has been set up at the Mountain Rim High School (aka Rim of The World HS) until a Red Cross center can be established.
Estimate 400 structures threatened.
Hwy 330 is closed to all traffic.
Hwy 18 is closed between Sky Forest and Big Bear Dam.
Some animals are being evacuated.
FF base camp at what used to be Norton Air Force Base.

This is the 50-80% beetle killed forest that has been discussed on theysaid and in fire circles this year.

Could be the BIG SoCal fire.


SoCal CDF, maybe watching all those dead trees so patiently will finally pay off and you'll get to fight some fire.

Readers, you can follow the reports at the CHP scanner site. Click on Quick Search and Fire, then look for the lowest entry, at 3:05 SR330 JNO CITY CREEK RANGER STATION Inland Comm Center.
Check also the South OPS News for updates.
Here's what the area looks like: a photo of Arrowhead Beetle Kill with interface residences and a photo of Yucaipa Beetle Kill (20 mi due S of Arrowhead).

Be Safe,

9/5 Mossback,

I did wade through your last post and not once did I nod off. Question? If you were the manager of that particular piece of ground, had total authority on a course of action to "rehabilitate" the unit, and of course, the budget to do it. What would be your course of action?

9/5 I don't believe I was attempting a p***sing contest HS bro. Are you suggesting HS working with professional fallers is a bad idea? Hmm. Something seems amiss with that logic, if that's your point. I also don't believe I suggested there weren't HS capable of falling trees. I have a number of friend's who were once Hot Shots as well, and I understand there are many capable fallers on HS crews. I am suggesting there is a consistent occurrence of Hot Shots who voice the belief they can accomplish anything a professional faller can, and thus, there is no need for a faller on a wildland fire. And by the way, I don't plan to "come back" to make my points. Stay with me...or don't bother.

Fire Momma


R6 HSs Bro,

A couple thoughts...you know, it'd be downright perfect if my husband - currently a professional timber faller with 15 years experience AND a former Prineville HS, just spent the last week working with your brother on a fire and then shared some camaraderie with him and his HS crew in Burns - which he did just a few days ago with the HS crew he'd been working with in Idaho. Your "knee jerk" defense of HS in your brother's defense could be understandable IF you thought it was attack (which it wasn't). I have a lot of respect for the work HS do, as well as other hard working groundpounders. I do not, however, believe they are capable of felling any level of hazard snag a professional faller can. If you'd like to discuss this issue in depth, I'd be happy to oblige. I will not, however, banter about the endless capabilities of HS crews.

Also, the exchange I recently shared was a real interaction, not a hypothetical one. And it was also representative of interactions on a number of different fire incidents this season. This board (I believe) is for real world issues in a real world time frame. Suggesting I "come back" when the sawyers are home suggests a "showdown at the OK corral." No time. No interest. I'm more interested in real solutions in a timely manner. Improved communication between crews and fallers is a solution I'm suggesting. Do you have another alternative?

Okay, Ab, no worries, I don't plan on ripping anybody's arm off and beating them with it. Promise.

Fire Momma
9/5 WP

I understand what you are saying but I stand by my prior post.

When I look at the 'elkbath fire" photo it is obvious the organic layer on the ground will not survive the fire event. When I look at the "one year after" photo I, like you, can see a limited reestablishment of some pioneer species of grasses, forbs, a few shrubs, and perhaps a few very small tree seedlings which should help stabilize the soil on the slope. This is to be expected. In the temperate climates of the U. S., establishment of pioneer species and limited reoccurrence of the species present before the fire will, almost invariably, begin with the next growing season after such a severe fire event. This quick partial greening of the space on, and immediately above, the forest floor comes from root sprouting, seeds which survived, or perhaps were transported in from outside the area by wind or birds, or maybe even human "rehabilitation" measures (notice the medical terminology). However, unless you think "recovery" only means a greening of the first few feet above the forest floor, the situation depicted in the "one year after" photo is not "recovery" but is rather a fully expected quick, and mostly temporary, event which will continue to transition year-by-year until the slope again resembles its pre-fire state.

In my lexicon, one is not "recovered" from a broken leg when the doctor has reset the broken bone. One is "recovered" when walking again free from pain and without support. In other words, "recovery" involves restoration to a condition present before a debilitating event. When I look at the slope in the "one year after" photo it is obvious to me the slope will not have a like number of trees of the same species, density, and size in my lifetime and probably not in yours.

My do not see my objection to using the word "recovery" in this situation as pointless quibbling over semantics. As I see it, in today's world too many people use politically correct logic which goes something like this:

Fire is a natural force. Nature is good. Therefore fire is good. Nature will cause a forest to "recover" from fire so it is of little consequence.

All the statements are true to some extent but no one should assume they tell the whole story as fire pertains to wildland (forests). My objection to applying words like "recovery" or "recovered" to situations similar to that depicted in the photo is that such words too often carry a connotation that a severe wildland fire event was either neutral or, at most, an inconsequential temporary inconvenience. Severe wildland fire events are neither neutral, inconsequential, nor temporary unless you have nature's limitless time horizon and economic position.

Oh. Oh. I have to stop. Supper is ready so I have to go do something important .... and don't think I can't hear the collective "Thank God" from all who have waded in this far ;=)

9/5 Fire Momma,

Hotshots taking down hazard trees. Many are certified and experienced,
my brother and sister among them.

Hazard Trees 1-4 (Ab, I don't know how to make this link.)

Ask the same question when some hotshots are reading theysaid and able
to reply. Hard to have a p*ssing contest with no one around to p*ss

Try back after fire season.

R6 HSs Bro

Ab, please add: Even if this isn't a pissing contest, and rereading your post,
maybe it's not, wouldn't it be better to wait until hotshot sawyers get home?

We can always make the link for you. Ab.

9/5 Gordon,

How would those "stems" be removed? Helicopter logging? Doubtful as the
stems don't look like old growth revenue positive logs. If it is at all
possible, and it may not be given the steep slopes and remoteness of the
area, a road system would be built and in order to make the sale not quite
so "deficit" dollar wise, most of the stems would be removed and the slash
would be left to lay, increasing fire danger more than the current
situation. And you think those sticks would pay for erosion control and
reforestation? What timber market are you living in?

FC 180
9/5 Stories coming in from the fire line from my fallers...

Shot crews asking why the fallers are there...say they can "take down" anything the fallers can.

...Minds' eye camera pans to HS crew members and their Sup standing far enough away to see a firey trunk collapse around fallers trying to drop it. Time skip to...discussions in "safe area"...HS crew member to faller..."Man, I'm sorry. I was wrong. I don't want anything to do with that *&@$%"

This is certainly a common occurrence and mind set of Hot Shot crews regarding hazard tree fallers. Perhaps that's why we feel its a good idea to have experienced professional fallers interacting with Hot Shot crews. It builds understand and respect...both ways. Mutual respect leads to better working relationships.

Any thoughts?

Fire Momma
9/5 Elk Bath photo + 1 year:

Yes, I see the returning vegetation along with the black stems.

I also see that a portion of the 'black stems' could have been removed (not all -- a portion, leaving some for wildlife and soils), and the revenue generated would have paid for reforestation, erosion control, and road repair on nearby sites not in the photo. The area as a whole would recover faster and with greater biodiversity than left unmanaged. I see future fuel loading that will increase the intensity of the next burn, and I see lots of killer snags that will endanger firefighter lives in the next burn.

Nature will recover on her own, just as a broken bone will eventually heal on its own if a doctor does not set it. Recovery is faster and better if we help it along.

Gordon Neiner
9/5 Sammi,

"If the column collapses"..... Fire draws oxygen into the burn from
the bottom, heats up the air and sends it skyward in a column of smoke, hot
air and burning bits of debris. This is convection and you can count on
being able to work fairly close to the edge of the fire while it is pulling
in like this. If wind and atmospheric conditions change somehow and the
updraft collapses, the fire may begin to spread in unpredictable
directions. Burning embers may drop and scatter outside the fireline
without having a chance to cool first in the upper atmosphere. Smoke flows
down and spreads out along the ground, making the work more difficult.
There are probably other effects from other perspectives.

9/5 The wildland fire community lost a great friend and supporter this week: retired NWS Fire Weather meteorologist Dave Goens died of a heart attack in Missoula.

Dave was active in fire for much of his career, both on fires and teaching at Marana and where ever he was needed. He was on the "Dude" Fire Investigation Team, bringing important insights to the weather conditions that led to the burnover.

Services will be on Saturday, 9/6 in Missoula.

Dick Mangan

Condolences. Ab.
9/5 I got a call from a CDF friend in Fortuna CA tonight (last night) that we have more than 62 lightning fires burning in Humboldt Co. Most are small. One is in a snag that hangs over a rural southern Humboldt school. The snag can't be safely felled. Two fires in the Kings Range are over 100 acres. They'll be difficult to staff because of lack of personnel and rugged topography. One fire on the Klamath River is 25 acres.

Redwood National Park has 8 fires in the old growth forest in very hard to access places... 4 hr hike in... Veg is thick and dry. Thickets of stuff in the "asbestos forest".

Maybe I should visit the Arcata square tomorrow and see how many environmentalists I can enlist to fight fire. Wonder what will happen to those sitting in trees already??? Like the marbled murelet, they'll have to fly away?

9/4 For those of us that are not fire behavior savvy,,,,,,what is the significance of "if the column collapses"?

9/4 Mossback,

In looking at the 1 year later pic of Elk Bath, you have to look beyond the burned stems. Look at the lush grass that came back after the fire (brown and cured in August) look at the green shrubs in the understory, and look at the scattered green trees in the burned area. I think it looks pretty good for one year after, does someone have a current PIC?


Should be some folks out there who could take one. Ab.
9/4 Am I going blind? Where is the "recovery" in the "elkbath, one year after" picture? Mostly what I see are fire killed, red-topped trees everywhere the fire was in the "elkbath" photo.

9/4 B & B update:

fire is across road 12 and heading toward camp sherman. going to attempt to
hold 14 road now. fire has not reached green ridge yet, but 6 inch large ash fall
out, spotting to 3/4 mi, several slopovers, lightning threat is still in area, but not
yet in sisters area.

http://www.bandbcomplex.com/ -- B and B Complex Home Page

hopefully doll ranch structures still standing, redmond saddle club in danger zone

9/4 Ab,

Here's some info I just got. Others have said that the B & B complex was made up of the Booth and the Bear Butte Fires. After a major run late yesterday and early today, the fires will now be managed as one fire. The strategy of keeping the two fires separate fell apart with the extreme plume dominated fire behavior the last 15 hours or so.

Extreme plume dominated fire behavior in the afternoon forced the evacuation of the west side of the Metolius River Drainage from Cabot Creek south to Hwy 20. The Deschutes County Fire Chief has requested a structure protection task force from the State Fire Marshall's Office (Conflagration Act). Lower Bridge Spike Camp has been evacuated. Fire still threatens Camp Pioneer on the west side of the Booth Fire.

There's lots of firefighters on that fire.
Be safe and I mean it.
OR 'yote

9/4 80,000 acres, column 40,000 ft pushing north and east, big lightning storm
south of bend lots of evacuations, attempting to hold 12 road

fire heading towards green ridge and squaw backs, if column collapses hwy 20


9/4 Fire Momma, someone has to watch those trees.

Many reports of lightning strikes in Trinity Co. Weaverville is set up to respond. CDF, Lewiston Fire, Weaverville Fire, a CDF crew and 6 engines.

9/4 The 9 smokejumpers from Grass Valley CA did a nice
job on the fire (Shoe) they kept to 3/4 acre near Shoemaker
Bally in Shasta (SHU). They're walking out tonight. A CDF
crew will continue dry mopping and patrolling.


Jumpers were out elsewhere as well. Ab.
9/4 Ab, as most here on the ground know, we're operating under a Red Flag Warning.

Be Safe.
OR 'yote

9/4 SoCal CDF,

Have I got a deal for you....

Fire Momma

haw haw Ab.
9/4 camp sherman and lower bridge spike camp are evacuating, fire has blown up, i
can see a column 25,000 ft high, very windy here in sisters. this is on the b and
b complex, structure protection is ordered, here we go again and lightning is

r-6 ff
9/4 Firefighters in NorCal are VERY busy.
LAVE, Todd, NorCal Tom, here's the latest:

LNU North Complex has 3000 acres of lightning fires in grassy oak woodlands and 678 firefighters on them, almost all CDF. Some are unstaffed. # of fires unknown.

LNU South Complex E of Napa in grassy oak woodlands reports 25 acres contained. 45 ff on them, all CDF. # of fires = 5.

LNU West Complex SW of Lake Sonoma in grassy oak woodlands reports 10 acres contained. 50 ff on them, all CDF. # of fires = 18.

AB Misc South of Ruth Lake, Six Rivers NF, Mad River RD, 29 acres of small fires, some holdovers from lightning strikes, some new hits. 218 personnel

Storm Complex Mendocino Co (CDF - MEU) reports 30 acres, # of fires = 83, many in difficult to access places. 153 personnel, majority CDF but also local and private resources. Yesterday there was a low level of fire behavior due to high relative humidities and some rain.

Grindstone Complex W of Willows, 200 acres and numerous fires located over a wide area in inaccessible terrain with 6' chaparral. Vail's Type 1 team is transitioning in today. Currently 45 personnel, FS, FWS and CDF.

Smokehouse Complex 15 mi NE of Potter Valley, Lake Co, 100 acres, inaccessible terrain with steep drainages, critical habitat for bald eagles, spotted owl and recreating humans. 22 personnel were on the multiple fires that burned actively all night (16 CDF and 6 FS). Szczepanik's Type 2 team transitioning in today.

TGU Lightning Tehama Glenn Unit CDF 750 acres, still detecting new lightning caused fires. Personnel= 295, mostly CDF.

Santa Clara Complex between Livermore and Watsonville, lightning fires from 8/25 have been contained, are being patrolled and demobe is continuing. 178 personnel, all CDF; 30,170 acres.

Cod Complex some 25 fires in the Foresthill Area of Placer Co. from 8/31. All but the Cod Fire are contained (< 2 acres) or out. The Cod Fire is burning in mixed conifer with heavy dead and down fuels. It is in the East and West Branches of El Dorado Canyon, in very steep and inaccessible terrain. 685 personnel are working the fire indirectly and providing structure protection. Wendt's Type 2 team is on it.


PS Many more of us CDF from SoCal would be sent north if we didn't have to stay home and watch these bug-killed trees!

Take a look at the large fires map. That will most likely change over the next few days with more in the mountains of northern CA. Good to see the Fire Use Fires being allowed to burn in SoCal. Looks like R6 has gotten its share of lightning bust fires as well. Ab.

9/4 The Jobs Page and Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 & 0455 have been updated. There are several new ads on the jobs page itself, including federal, county and private.

I have been working on how to streamline the process of my posting of the 462 and 455 series which became much more complicated in terms of copying, pasting and deleting extra cells with OPM's recent upgrade.

I'm also exploring searching on fire as a keyword after selecting out the series and posting only those jobs. However that may cut out dispatchers or others critical to our fire organization. Dispatchers, would you check the 0462 series page and see what you think. I don't think you're there at all. Anyone else left out? We would rather cut a little wide with extra jobs included than to cut anyone's prospective job out. (Let me know and I'll rerun the process tomorrow. We need an appreciate our dispatchers.)

We have also gotten requests for those searching for Series 0401 (biologist) jobs. In the past, weeding out the ones relevant to fire and posting those would have been impossible. Maybe now it is more manageable.

HOWEVER, it would make much more sense to
do away with all this FOL-DE-ROL
get Congress to pass the bill that calls us wildland firefighters.

I would like not having this job of posting all these weird series jobs.


9/4 Some time ago I saw a picture that showed the site of the now infamous "elkbath" picture three years after the fire. It was a great illustration of how the forest recovers after a fire. A friend just sent me the elkbath pic thinking it was recent and I wanted to show her that more recent "recovery" picture. I searched in the Photos page but didn't find it, did I just miss it? If you don't have it in your files, does someone on the listserv have a copy?

Good News - Labor Day weekend we had our annual fundraiser (mountain festival & art auction). We raised over $50K for the VFD!

Take care & Adios,

www.wildlandfire.com/pics/fire13/fire13.php Top left second row. Ab.
9/3 Thanks Abs....

I just spent 15 fruitless minutes trying to search USAJOBS before giving up and accessing the links from your page. Your page took less than 30 seconds to find the vacancy announcement I was looking for. My most sincere thanks for all your hard work....

Old R5'er

Glad you found yours.
9/3 News says we have lightning fires all over Northern CA.
Counties with long nights ahead include, but are not limited to,
Napa, Lake, Tehama, Shasta, Butte, Nevada, Yuba, Placer.

Heads up.


9/3 We're waiting and hoping the t-storm front doesn't create
havoc here on the Cod Complex. We have the R5 chief visiting.
Might have to give the Q-man a pulaski and put him to work
if things flare up. He never has had any problem in getting dirty
with the ground troops.

NorCal Tom
9/3 Had lots of lighting strikes this morning 6:00 A.M. to about 7:45 A.M. in Nor. Cal. (Sonoma Co.) the storm moved off to the north. Look out Mendocino County! Lots of reports of damage, power poles hit and on fire, roofs hit, trees hit, etc. Had some rain but may have fires start popping up this afternoon after the sun comes out. Large lighting storm for this part the country.

Keep your head down and your eyes and ears open, keep a watch out for the dragon.

Re. L.A.V.E.
9/3 Some more photos from Canada.

Here are some pics I thought you might like. We do things a little differently up here but thought you all could relate. Hope you guys had a good season!

Brian A
Pickle Lake Fire Base, Ontario

Hi Brian, welcome. I put them on engines 7, fire 19 and equipment 6 photo pages. Thanks for the pics from north of the border. If you have info on the what fire and when they were taken, we'd be willing to post that on the descriptions pages.

As for our season, it just goes on and on. When we're done in the West, the Eastern US will start burning with greater frequency. Ab.

9/3 There was also a 5 acre lightning fire - Manzanar Fire started
last night on BDU. Almost contained, could have gone larger.
We're expecting lightning, t-storms again this afternoon.

Catch 'em small.
9/3 We're getting lightning right now on the northcoast. (CA)
Palmdale/Acton LA Co. had a 50 acre lightning fire last night.
I hope that the Santa Clara Complex lines are holding and the
Cod Fire doesn't get winds as this front moves east.

Heads up people.


Lightning explorer. More on the Links Page under weather. Ab.
9/3 Ab,

Here are some photos I was able to take while working the Aspen Fire this season in Arizona. I was blessed to work on a great crew and with some other outstanding crews. The photos shown contain crewmen from, Kern Valley, Modoc, and my crew Monterey. The photo with the buggies in it also shows Idaho Panhandle's buggies. All of the fire in the photos are of burnout operations conducted on the desert side of the fire (near Oracle) after the fire passed around the Observatory area in the timber.

Formerly NCCrew, seeking new moniker

R5 McLeod, R5 Crew, Coldtrail, Bump-up, Tooltime? Ab and Abercrombie are taken. I put the photos on Handcrews 9 and Handcrews 10 photo pages.

Thanks to "the firefighter formerly known as NCCrew". Ab.
9/3 Ab,

Glad you posted my feeble attempt to warn CA northzone folk what might be heading their way in time to help someone in Placer. flatland NE wind was unexpected since earlier there had been a pleasant SW "delta breeze". as per reports the southzone monsoon was heading due north as a "cooling trend"; not the swirling winds or hour long noise and light show & as soon as I hit the send button, the wind changed direction.

Yesterday temps in the Sac valley regions were hot and unnaturally humid - 101 and up. late morning anyone who looked at the southern horizon saw a huge bank of thunderbumpers heading north, before it veered off east into high country. this minute (0540) there is no breeze but it is cool enough to keep windows open. pray same cool no wind conditions on the El D, Tahoe and other districts in high country. summer north winds not a good thing in northzone!

Today is anyone's guess; local weather forecasters say a repeat is on the way - Tstorms included; their guess is as good as anyone's. The cable weather channel says isolated T-storms in AM hours with winds 5-10 mph, and a high of 97 later in the day....

Nature is intent on making life interesting, especially in urban interface. HEADS UP ALL. be safe!

no name
9/2 An e-mail came in from someone who is seeking a contact among female hotshots.

The woman wanting information served briefly on a local fire crew in Idaho this summer (her regular job was on trail maintenance). The local district fire folks encouraged her to "go for hot shots". So, she is interested in talking by phone (she would place the call) with one or more women who recently worked on one or more hot shot crews. She wants to get advice on identifying top crew chiefs, hints for off season training, general advice on applications, etc. She is trying to decide on whether it makes sense for her to try for Hot Shots somewhere or to stick with a District Crew for summer '04.

I know most shots are still out there, but if you can help,
email Ab please.
9/2 Took this pic on my way home from N. Idaho of the site where
8 good firefighters lost their lives on the road. Very sobering.

To all going to or coming home from fire assignment.....take care.


Picture of flags and flowers.

Words on the sign read:

          Nov 27, 1983 (? year)
          Aug 24, 2003

Be safe all. Ab.

9/2 I saw the post on the Nor-Cal shelter deployment. I have kind of looked
into the cost (retail approx. $300.00) and other things (size, weight, etc.)
about the New Fire Shelter,. I was wondering if anyone has had to deploy
one for real yet, how did they work, easy to use? I have an idea that not a
lot of folks have them yet, but was wondering just the same?

Retired L.A.V.E.
9/2 Ab,

This article appeared in the Missoulian and I thought the They Said people might be interested in it. It's about the shortage of firefighting funds and the issue of robbing Peter to pay Paul policy that occurs when there is a heavy fire season.

Heli Groupie

Bosworth bemoans lack of firefighting funds
9/2 Ab Note: This came in from Sammi sometime last week. I asked if we could hold it a bit in deference to the feelings of loss we were experiencing with the deaths of the young people in the van in eastern Oregon. However, her issue needs to be posted.

Some background: Sammi has plenty of experience with young people who fight fire, on familysaid she's shared that she has 4 wildland firefighter sons and 2 firefighter daughters and a husband who is a firefighter. (Hope I have that right.)

Seems like this is a good time to post it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sammi's message ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was hoping the "what ifing" would wait a while but alas nope. So I have 2 cents worth also. (and no I don't want change) I think when you put any number of young people in a van with a young driver we are asking for tragedy and I mean whether high school ball team or firefighters. These young FF were in their prime. They were not newbies apparently, they had at least one season under their belts. So they knew what they were doing.....except. You put anyone on a fire for two weeks, they are running on pure adrenaline and then put them in a vehicle with one of them driving and you have a disaster. They were ALL exhausted. They were all coming off of a two week high and we all know they crashed long before they hit that truck. I have no idea about the driver. He might have been the oldest and the wisest with the most experience on the fires but he was in the same shape as the rest of them except he couldn't lay back on his pack and sleep all the way to Oregon. common sense says....."why can the people that sign the checks be forced to supply the crews with fresh awake non FF drivers." that way the driver has no agenda nor does he have any issues with the bravado and testosterone level running amok over common sense.

on the other extreme, when you put young people in a vehicle and they are rested and jacked up to be going to a fire, we get a Colorado accident like last year, too much fun or too much sleeplessness...I am so very sorry this has happened again.....

sign me just a mom who knows very well the tragedy that can occur when you put exhausted people behind the wheel of a vehicle..sammi
9/2 Update on the Cod (Middle and the North Fork of the American River CA) which is backing, burning and occasionally torching in mixed conifer with heavy dead and down fuels.

Most of the appx 26 fires on the Cod Complex burning in the have been staffed and contained. The exception is the Codfish Fire located in the East and West Branches of El Dorado Canyon, in very steep and inaccessible terrain. It has the potential of going to 13,000 acres if it spreads north. Resources are being been assembled to prepare contingency lines for the 13,000 acre fallback alternative and for structure protection.

The most recent 209 (0600) says the fire is 120 acres, 0 % contained.

The resources working on the fire(s) are currently 486 total:
Crews -
   10 Type 1 Crews (9 FS and 1 BIA), 1 CDF Type 1 Strike Team
     1 Type 2 Crew (FS)
Helicopters - 
    1 Heavy (Private)
    2 Type 2 (FS)
    2 Type 3 (FS & Private)
    7 Single Resource (2 FS, 1 BLM & 4 Private)
    3 ST (2 FS and 1 CDF)
Dozers - 
    4 (2 Private & 2 CDF)
Overhead- 66 
Fixed Wing - 
    3 (1 FS, 2 CDF)


9/2 In CDF and most of the other Firescope agencies, Blue helmet signifies Paramedics. However, many Hotshot Crews wear blue, I know Lassen used to.

9/1 There are a bunch of new photos on the Equipment 6 photo page, everything from ERE Inc. equipment shooting its roof nozzle and FMC's large apparatus to the Marooka and Skidgeon, CDF transport and CDFers loading a reservoir from Water Tender 55.

There are several more of J. Foster's photos of the Wilcox Fire Running and Torching on Fire 18 photo page. Also from J. Foster on Crew9 check out Wilcox Sizeup, Heavy Fuels Wilcox, and Predawn Firing Wilcox. Bobby and Justin, the sawyers, also make their appearance on that page, sent in by FireMomma, who else?If you need a new wallpaper the Wilcox Fire image on the Wallpaper photo page is very nice.

Don't miss Fireboss working in Spain from Jorge. It's the little air tanker that could, on AirTankers 8 photo page. Oh, and Craig Happ's photos of T-71 and T-151.

Thanks Everyone.

I think that's it, except for the Miscellaneous pages that need some additions... and have to split out the Memorial photos. Tomorrow perhaps. Oh yeah, some photos came in of the Red Point Fire in SD, too... Later, Ab.

9/1 Some new engine photos are up on Engines 7 photo page.

Jesse, one photographer, says,

Attached are pictures of a new model 62 from Boise Mobil Equipment, assigned to the San Bernardino National Forest, Front Country Ranger District, City Creek Ranger Station.

There's also a photo of some Huron-Manistee NF engines sent in by Paul.

Thanks contributors. Ab.

9/1 Can anyone tell me who wears blue helmets? Someone asked this question some time back, but I can't find the replies. I know it may vary by state. CDF, ODF? Do any of the fed crews? Contract crews?

9/1 Ab,

Here's the Blue Sheet on the deployments.

Devil Fire Entrapment and Shelter Deployment Investigation, 2003
CDF Blue Sheet, Preliminary Summary Report

Another SoCal CDF

9/1 Nerd on the fireline,

I have used ATVs with tanks quite extensively on the fireline in MN and always wondered why other states use water so sparingly on wildfires.. even when it is available. From my interface engine and helitack experience on western fires I knew that even a little bit of water can make quite a difference on the fireline. There are some instances where the only way to get water to a fire is on a firefighters back...but these 4 and 6 wheel ATVs can get to many of the places where long hoselays or bladder packs are impractical. The pumps, valves, and tanks needed to convert one to a mini-engine are pretty cheap and easy to assemble too. Of course they are not the end all and be all but they are a very useful tool in many situations.

We found that we could "wet line" pretty well with them for grassfires. This is when a fireline is created by wetting down the grass on the fire side of the tire track created when you drive through tall grass. A "skid" which lays the grass down between the tire tracks can be drug behind the ATV as well to help keep the fire from jumping the line. You have to run pretty close to the grass fire so the small amount of water used does not evaporate before the fire reaches it but this is not much of a problem usually. When the fire reaches the damp tall grass, it lays down a bit and tends not to jump the track made by the AVT...but it is always a good idea to have a few ground pounders with bladder bags following up behind to make sure the line holds.

Compared to a helicopter and "bambi bucket" I would say it is able to create 3-4 times as much line...more if a "dip source" is not very close. And the cost per mile of line is hundreds of dollars less.

I have done quite a few prairie fire habitat/controlled burns this way. And we used the ATV for firing as well. By spiraling out from the center of the proposed burn area with a drip torch and ATV the fire created tends to create a wind that draws flames toward the center...making it a much more controllable and pleasant burn with less danger of spotting.

9/1 Do inmate crews that have to deploy fireshelters get critical incident stress debriefing?

9/1 Ab,
I don't know if your question on the Devil fire location was answered.

The Devil fire started in the SE corner of Alameda County near Mines Rd.

The Kincaid fire started N. of Mt. Hamilton near Kincaid Rd.

The Jump fire started E. of the Kincaid and E. of San Antonio Rd., later burning to Del Puerto Rd. when I last saw it.

The Annie fire, named after the S2T pilot who flew on it alone the first day (12 trips), started NW of San Luis Reservoir. The fuels are grass, oak woodland, chemise and scattered conifer. Almost all of the roads mentioned are truck trail, 10-15 mph, level.

There were 18 good starts between Livermore and the San Luis Reservoir. The Redding Jumpers were on the.....Jump fire!


Thanks, Ab.
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