"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
October, 2003

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10/31 Nerd, he's a journalist jackal. What do you expect?

SoCalFF
10/31 I’m curious as to people’s reaction to this article:

http://slate.msn.com/id/2090573/

I’m all behind Mellie and Sammi in saying that wildland fire fighters shouldn’t be heroes…but I think this article is pretty vicious, and if not way off the mark, then at least heavily skewed. It’s also pretty irrelevant to wildland fire; most of the examples used (I’m not going to argue with the adrenaline junkie comments) apply to structure fire only.

Nerd on the Fireline
10/31 Ab-

There was a question about the origin of the term "Stupid Zone". As far as
I can tell, it was invented by Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen.
www.custerguide.com/quillen/eqcols/20018074.php A quote from his
August 7, 2001 column:

"Instead of passing new restrictions, each state could use its experts to
produce a map with official "Stupid Zones". You'd still be free to do
whatever you liked with your property in a Stupid Zone. However, you'd
manage on your own with no property services from the government. No
road plowing or maintenance, no rescue, no flood insurance, no deputy
sheriffs, no rebuilding assistance, no subsidized electric or telephone service,
no standing to sue in court for property problems, no fire-fighters dying to
protect the trophy-home lifestyles of the rich and famous." (emphasis
added)

Jackson

I knew someone would have his name and the reference. Thanks. Ab.

10/31 Hi
My name Rob. I live here in new mexico.
This a note say "hi hope all are safe and sound."

I was born and lived in rancho cucamonga until 1990 when I moved to new mexico. I was trained by ccc and was on the mop up crew in ccc.

A word of hope goes out from me to all you crews out there in the CA fires. I found your site after I looked at the ccc web site, cdf site, u.s. forest service site and am sending my words to all young men & women, the seasoned crews, the newbies, and the ones who have been at this for a long time. Does anyone know if there are any smoke jumpers out on the fires?

This web site is a good one the for looking up things about fire. I love the terms, nicknames, it is all is so great.

Most of the thanks go the structure firefighters. But if it was not for the forest fire fighters - smoke jumpers, hellatack, hotshots, ground pounders and the camp crews feeding the crews, the air crews getting crews out the fireline and for air support - fighting these fires would have been impossible. My thanks to all of you.

All of us in the west need the rain. I hope it rains soon.
Rob.Ortegon,
Corrales New Mexico, 2:32 MT

10/31 I've been trying to follow the status of the fires in Southern California
and have had mixed success. Some of the fires are distributing, at least
after a few days, pretty good information on the Internet. The Old and
Grand Prix fires on the San Bernardino NF have set up a Joint Information
Center with an Internet site www.esri.com/jicfire/ that includes
maps, evacuation information, and data about road closures.

However, unless I have missed it, the Cedar fire in San Diego County has
very little useful information on the official web site
www.fire.ca.gov/cdf/incidents/Cedar%20Fire_120/incident_info.phpl
even a week after the fire started. The very low quality maps are sometimes
2 days out of date and there's no information about evacuations or road
closures. The San Diego Union newspaper
www.signonsandiego.com/index.phpl and is providing much more
information than the agencies responsible for the fire.

On a wildland/urban interface fire it can be crucial to get current
information out to the local residents
. Some Incident Management Teams
don't make this a very high priority. Like Ab pointed out a while ago,
sometimes this lack of information can be life-threatening. Lives were lost
on the Cedar fire because residents did not receive evacuation information
early enough.

Incident Management Teams, including CDF IMT's, need to provide information
to the public on the Internet, such as:
  • Accurate fire perimeter maps, down to the street level when possible,
    updated at least once a day. Additional Field Observers can be ordered to
    provide this information if aerial resources are not available to map the
    fires. Maybe the efforts toward developing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for
    use on wildfires can help in this effort.
  • Maps and text information that includes real-time information about
    evacuations and road closures.
  • Maps and text information that includes current information about homes
    that have burned. Field observers, with a GPS unit and working with a GIS
    guru, should be providing this soon after it is safe enough for a Field
    Observer to re-enter an area after the fire has passed through. There is no
    reason why a family in an evacuation center should have to wait until they
    are allowed to re-enter their community days later to find out if their home
    is still standing. Insurance companies could also use this information to
    expedite the claims process.

Some Incident Management Teams routinely have very good web sites,
but no agencies have really stepped up to the plate to always accept the
responsibility to provide all of this information in a near-real time
manner, therefore, it sometimes falls between the cracks. Incident
Management Teams should make it their SOP. I don't know if it will save
lives, but, it may.

Jackson

Jackson, thanks for bringing your long experience of firefighting, management and knowledge of the internet to this topic. In my opinion, this is an area that sorely needs addressing. Tied up in it are issues including inter-agency and intra-agency turf, lack of experience with the internet as a tool for sharing information and lack of knowledge regarding how the public and firefighters seek information on the world wide web. If communication systems are not in place BEFORE a crisis, they won't be created DURING the crisis. More to be discussed here...

And to h~!! with the lurking media who are already sniffing around at every occasion to place the BLAME for the Cedar Fire deaths and the fires are not even out yet! BTW, I'm not referring to our small circle of really savvy fire media folks who read and contribute here. We really appreciate you, your insightful voices.

Thanks to those who sent emails to agency folks to improve the info available on the web and to those who sent fire info that we never posted because new incident sites were created. We appreciate all the help and participation that made info sharing better after the IncidentCommand.com web sites went down.

Ab.

10/31 Ab,

Awesome image, hard to imagine all the destruction.
NASA's view of the fires from space: earthobservatory.nasa.gov

Tahoe Terrie

10/31 I've updated the Southern California Fires web page. Things are looking better because of the weather and hard work, but we are not out of the fiery woods by a long shot.

Lohrey's PNW Team 2 is now working on the east side of the Cedar fire in a unified command with CDF. They have a new incident info site up with a geomac map image from yesterday. They'll probably update that when time allows.

Encouraging news article: Weather Switches to Firefighters' Side, a map from the SanDiego Daily Transcript and a fine graphic map with stats on all the socal fires from the LA Times (pdf format).

Also updated the Jobs page and the 0462 and 0455 wildland firefighter jobs series.

Ab.

10/31 Ab,

I just found this interesting item when looking on the NEWS page for info
on the firefighter who was lost and the San Berdu fires... Fires Put Airtanker
Pilots to the Test

"Windshields on six tankers were cracked by the debris, and
cockpits filled with smoke. Another pilot saw a 4-by-8 foot
sheet of plywood sail past at 1,500 feet."

On another note: My condolences to the family of groundpounder Steve Rucker
for their loss... May he rest in peace.

Todd

10/31 I read with interest all the postings about our homes being described as "just a bunch of wood". I have put a lot of thought into this concept living in the WUI for 20 years and being a volunteer firefighter for the same 20 years. We have done our part to create defensible space around the house and while we have escaped even a close call, we have had summers that were bad enough that we had to seriously think about the prospect of losing it all.

I think the absolute healthiest exercise I have ever gone through in my life is to sit down and figure out what you would take with you if you were limited to one carload and a few minutes to load it. I have actually written down an "evacuation list". Once you get the kids, dog, cat, a few important papers and the family pictures and then you realize that beyond that there is very little that is "irreplaceable" in your life. The things on my evacuation list would not even fill up my car. It is actually very liberating to realize how little real value all the "things" in your life have.

I have had two friends that have gone through a total loss of their homes (one in a fire and one in a flood). They describe the experience as initially devastating, but in the end both of them described it as incredibly liberating. They both got the ultimate lesson to teach them that our stuff is really "just a bunch of wood".

Don't get me wrong, I carry enough insurance so that I would not be left homeless in the event of a catastrophic loss. However, I have long come to peace about the prospect of losing it all. The more devastating loss for me would be if one of my fellow FFs were injured or worse trying to protect the "pile of wood" that I call home.

The snow and freezing rain came right on schedule and the fires in Colorado left as quickly as they came. I hope Mother Nature helps out the folks in Southern California as well.

Stay safe! Take care & Adios,
CJD

There is an excellent book out there,
Living with Wildfires: Prevention, Preparation and Recovery
by Janet C. Arrowood
written following Colorado's 2002 devastating summer of fire. It logically goes through all considerations and helps organize planning before, during and after wildland fire. It is applicable to all areas of the US. Mike Apicello PAO from NIFC reviewed it, offered suggestions and wrote the Forward. Book Reviews. Ab.
10/31 I heard of the first firefighter fatality in the Socal fire complex when I turned on the news first thing yesterday. I tried to think of a post that could convey the intensely sad feelings I had all day...but words simply can't do it. My prayers go to the family and fellow firefighters of the Novato firefighter who lost his life in the California nightmare fires. And to all the firefighters still battling fatigue, terrain, and weather struggling to contain them.

Fedfire,
I too saw that report and it seemed to me that the reference was to the fact that the current fires are so "urban interface" in nature that it can't be considered "wildland" rather than the firefighters themselves.

Ab,
Maybe something good will come out of this. The insurance companies are going to take a huge hit. As you say they will probably respond by encouraging homeowners to "firesafe" homes in fire prone areas through financial incentives. And nothing catches the avg. persons attention like having to write out a big check every 6 months. Sometimes it takes a disaster to initiate meaningful change.

Still praying for hard rain in CA.
Dana
10/31 Kibby and All,

I'll try to find out about where to send a donation to the family who lost their house and has very large baby medical expenses. I had the same desire to help in some way.

Another way that people can help fallen firefighter families is to contribute to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. In the case of our fallen Novato/Marin CA firefighter, Steve Rucker, CDF is the lead agency on the Cedar Fire. It is handling all the family's travel and lodging arrangements. The lead agency does not do that when we loose fed firefighters, contractors, or county, city and vollie firefighters on federally-overseen incidents. I am not saying this is bad, simply that it is reality. Instead, we rely on the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to step in with open heart and arms and money. That organization relies on donations to help out families even though it mostly uses volunteers to do its good work.

The other day, Vicki Major the director of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation called me and then got in touch with CDF via some contacts I gave her. Neither she nor I knew how CDF worked in such cases of injury and loss. Following her usual supportive protocol, she was inquiring about what the Foundation could do to get family members of the fallen firefighter transported to SoCal from wherever they were. What she and I both found out is that CDF has the resources and the supportive will to make arrangements and pay for travel and lodging for families. For those who don't know, families are always shocked to numbness over their loss and often unable to do the simplest things. The first thing they need is for their community to step in with practical help. CDF was already doing that. Excellent.

My hats off to all who work and volunteer to support our fallen firefighters. My heartfelt condolences to Steve Rucker's family and friends and prayers for the critically injured Capt. Doug McDonald and his family as well. May he make a full recovery.

Mellie

Ab added a Fallen Firefighter category on the Fire News page for those seeking more information on the tragic death of Steve Rucker. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
10/31 Just look at the National Incident Management Situation Report for the past
week and you'll see large fires popping up in the Southwest, Great Basin,
Northeast, Southeast - and other areas of the country. Think of why some
resources stay home. Even if these fires are not intense as the media
portrays in So Cal - Wildland fire interface fires / that affect structures
and communities in other places of the country - are burning, and will
continue until Mother Nature decides to end it all with a "walk off"
weather blast of winter.

Also, let's not forget that CDF is noted as perhaps the third largest
firefighting organization in the country - and that's just one state.

-- Been to So. Cal, it's mother nature's "fall and winter arena" - the fire
planners are well aware of this.

-- Signed: Burned over once by Santa Ana's - never again.
10/31 From Firescribe, the current MAPside views:

Overview MAP
The Old Fire with its 2 heads, one heading for Big Bear, the other skirting/hitting Arrowhead and Green Valley
The Grand Prix Fire
The Padua Fire (from the 29th) to the east, 95% contained at last report and returned to local control this morning at 0600.

Excellent work by the PIOs of the Old for working out a way to get this REALTIME information up on the internet.
10/31 Lynn,

"Payson" helitack is now tonto helitack and has moved to Roosevelt Lake, a few of the oldsters are still around, Dino and Gus. They might have some photos you can find them in the FS directory.

SNS
10/30 Like many, I've been watching the fires and kicking myself for trading in my green engine for a yellow pavement queen. We sit here as fires burn locally and we are not allowed to go help (we were taken off the mutual aid matrix 2 years ago). The other day I got out of the cab smelling smoke from a nearby lost controlled burn and for a second actually was actually thinking I was going to get to do some mop up, before reality kicked in and I remembered we were just washing down walkways (the geese congregate). It is likely my department will be gone and I'll be on a RIF by next year, still we go out and take care of those in our jurisdiction and watch while thousands of others are down south, its just part of the job, on the plus side I get to go home every other day and see my family. I don't mean to sound preachy to those who want to be there, I've been in their shoes and would love to go, but they should remember that they are doing their job even if nothing is burning locally, somebody has to stay home, maybe next time it will be their turn to go.

An exception I'll make to this is the laid off seasonals, I can understand their frustration. When are the people in charge going to figure out California's fire season is nearly year round and even when it isn't you can almost always count on fires in Oct/Nov, not usually on this scale but I seem to recall the state scrambling for resources in January more years than it being quiet.

I saw the person making the pile of wood statement, didn't realize it was a firefighter but it was a pleasant diversion from the "victim" profile the media has been hammering. After 12 years I find it hard to have much sympathy when people lose "everything" they have in one of the urban interface fires, more and more I appreciate the term (I believe invented here) of the "stupid zone". If "civilians" think that is harsh perhaps they should consider the family of the Novato firefighter, from what I've seen on the news the engine was burned over while protecting structures. He has truly lost everything and his family has lost more than a house. I doubt we'll see much change after these fires but just maybe we can finally get people to consider location and construction when they feel they must build in these areas.

Anybody else catch CNN the other day talking about all the local and state firefighters and the Federal governments "so called" wildland firefighters. They probably meant no slight but it sounded like it to my ears.

Be safe, and hope we don't lose anymore down there (or elsewhere while were at it), I'm pleasantly surprised we haven't lost any before now. If you're stuck watching on TV like me, relax you'll get your turn one of these days. Enjoy your time at home and I'm sure your family is happy you're not there. I know many of my relatives are (they think I'm crazy for wanting to go).

Fedfire

Likely the insurance companies will have a say in how homes are rebuilt on the "wooey" or WUI, and how much fuel reduction must be maintained to qualify for insurance. I can even see them taking over the inspection process and giving points for tile roof, nonflammable siding, no woodpiles nearby, proper clearing, etc. More points, lower rates.

Stupid zone was invented by a Montana or Colorado journalist. VFD Capt, Mollysboy remember his name? Ab.
10/30 They are starting in again with "its all the environmentalists' fault" on the California deal. The president of the Sierra club went on TV to point out that none of the fuels projects in Southern CA National Forests had been opposed by environmentalists, but at this point people are looking for someone to blame. This is so frustrating for me! Working in the world of prevention, I know that there have been attempts to conduct Firewise workshops out there and communities have been on the non-receptive side, even though Firewise tactics could save their houses in situations such as these. It also breaks my heart that DC is all about logging but says very little about prescribed fire, which I feel is so important. But as usual, people are looking for someone to blame . . .

Signed,
OD
10/30 Just a pile of wood:

The man was actually the owner of a small lumber yard that was lost in one of the fires. He lost his business but his point was that it was really just a pile of wood. It was Not a Heartless comment. I just talked to a friend who is down in San Bernardino and at the fire camp it is city engines for as far as you can see. Across the street it's full of hired equipment (dozers and Water tenders), some already on the demob list. As for out of State Contractors, dont feel so bad, not even all the California Contractors got called. We here in California know very well what it's like to sit (not by choice) and watch another state's Biscuits burn. Same old politics just different States.
I admit that I Too want to be there. I would gladly go if called, but lets be Real and Honest, as Contractors nothing that any of us have to offer could have made a real difference against Mother Nature on this round so far, except maybe Murphy's Law (that says as soon as I get hired on a fire its gonna Rain).

My heart goes out to the family of the Firefighter from Novato,
All Gave some
Some Gave All
Thank You

We Will look forward to when these fires are over
Extreme Dust Buster
10/30 Mellie,

Do you know if the crew collecting money for the ff
with the new baby has a mailing address for donations?
If I can't physically be on the fireline, it would be
nice to at least give a little support to someone who
is.

Take care of yourselves down there in SoCal.

Kibby
10/30 Adds a new dimension, doesn’t it? 5$DOG, I completely agree with what that FF said…if I didn’t make that clear in my post, I’d like to make it clear now. The fact that he could say that about his own home is a spectacular testament to the sheer toughness of the guy…I wish wonderful things for him, starting with wet weather, lots of sleep, and the support of his loved ones. It’s not the houses that matter; it’s the people. Priorities get twisted when the urban/wildland interface gets crossed…it shouldn’t happen, but it does. We’ve lost one firefighter to this (Nerd searches for a good noun). I really, really hope his death went toward protecting lives, not property.

I unpacked my red bag a week ago, after our first snow; my boss just called and told me to pack it back up again.

Nerd on the Fireline
10/30 If I remember correctly, the fire fighter was talking
about his OWN residence. I remember seeing the report
on CNN where the fellow had been on the line for two
days and was checking on his home. He was shown
driving away in a hard topped Jeep without any
markings, didn't look like any fire vehicle I've seen.
Individual did look like he had been put through the
mill and was needing some time off. I could be wrong
and this wouldn't be the first time, but I keep an eye
on the News to make sure....

sign me
'Wish I were there too'
10/30 Nerd, I didn't add that the firefighter I wrote about was looking at his own home. I didn't know when I wrote the post. The first time I saw it on CNN, I just caught the end of it, but I saw a repeat late last night and was very surprised that it was his home. He did add that he hadn't slept much in the last few days because of being on the fireline. I agree that people need to be a bit careful when speaking with the media. Especially when emotions run so high. We don't need to add to people's stress. But when we talk with each other the reality check is imperative.

Some Scuttlebutt:
I talked with friends on the Old Fire last night. I told them about one rumor I heard about a near miss. They say there have been many near misses on these socal fires because of the rugged terrain, shifting winds and extreme fire conditions. Undoubtedly, the stories will fuel conversations for many meetings and training sessions to come.

One friend told me of all the firefighters he knows whose wives are expecting babies any day. Their morning prayer is "please don't let it come today". I think they'd like to be there for the blessed event.

One guy told me of a young firefighter who is also a new dad who had lost his home. His family had evacuated. My friend's crew is collecting money to help out because the new baby had some extra medical needs and substantial expenses.

Another friend told me of a team member who lives in the Arrowhead area who will not go look at his home so as to better stay focused on his job at hand. He's afraid he'd be inclined to go to extreme measures to save it if he but visited.

I was told of firefighters' vehicles parked at stations in the line of the fire that now, days later, have bubbled or scorched paint and melted taillight coverings.

And the stories go on - the stuff of life.

My candle is burning for those we have lost and those who are injured and those who are just plain tired and trying to maintain situational awareness. I hope for the best outcomes for all.

Mellie
10/30 Nerd on the Fireline,

That hotshot may be burned out, he may be cynical and also bitter, but kudos to him for saying what he said. Homes to wildland firefighters are just a bunch of wood. FUEL, FUEL, FUEL.

Yes, to someone, they are investments, substantial reward for hard work, places of memories, stores of keepsakes, shelters. Centers of worlds, HOMES.

However to a highly experienced wildland firefighter, who is woefully under equipped and under trained for structure fire. Homes are fuel. And battling a house on fire means injury and possibly death to an untrained firefighter.

Our hearts bleed as deep as any others at the loss, but what can we do.

We are trained in urban interface to triage homes before the fire even comes through. Write off the ones that have no potential for saving, concentrate your efforts around the ones that have a chance. If a home is more than 1/4 involved move on to the next one. FUEL, FUEL, FUEL.

It's true, if these fires were farther out, and not in an interface area, firefighters would back off and burn out from the ridge top. Instead, life and property are at stake. So you see heroic efforts to save what is essentially fuel to a wildland firefighter. Basically putting people in the absolute, most hazardous fire situation that you could imagine.

We are trained in nothing more, we are exposed to all of it.

5$DOG
10/30 I just realized that Nerd asked that this be posted on Familysaid. I posted it here. Still seems appropriate. Ab.

So I read Mellie’s post on TheySaid about the hotshot who commented (regarding a burning house) “It’s just a bunch of wood.” I found the comment amusing and revealing, so I read it out loud to some of my co-workers. They were shocked and appalled. “Yeah, just wait until it’s his house!”. I was wondering how many people watched that interview and thought the same thing?

The thing is, you take a bunch of young, generally unattached, fairly rootless people, you train them to see reality in terms of life-or-death (Comment from my mother: “But you don’t go on calls like that, do you sweetie?”), you make them seasonal so that they don’t have any possessions that aren’t going to fit in the back of a car… what is real and important to them winds up looking totally different from what looks real and important to the homeowners they’re supposed to protect. There’s a sign on the door of my house that says “Shelter Hole”. It’s not my castle, it’s not the product of much heartache and customization and a nearly-paid-off thirty year fixed rate mortgage; it’s the place where I get out of the weather and store my stuff. This makes genuine empathy with somebody whose house is burning kind of abstract… I don’t have that kind of investment, so I don’t understand people who want me to risk my life and my partner’s life and my crew’s lives in order to save possessions. Really, it’s just a pile of wood. And other stuff. Which generally puts off toxic fumes as it burns.

My gut reaction on this is mixed; I recognize that losing a house is a devastating personal and financial blow. But the obnoxious, brutal, arrogant little voice inside me (the voice that usually gets louder the more I deal with “civilians”) says “Well, that’s what you get for letting your possessions define your life.” For those of us who’re defined by our training…we effectively get stripped down to nothing at the start of every season, handed our PPE and our line packs and our red bags, and we’re good to go. I’m not the gal with the car and the house and the sunglasses and the wardrobe; I’m first scrape, with or without the car and the house and the sunglasses and the wardrobe. I’d miss some stuff if my house burned down…but stuff is replaceable. I don’t really use most it anyway.

Mellie nailed it; it’s our job, it’s their emergency. I do wildland fire, structure fire, emergency medical, and industrial emergency response, and my experience is that emergencies do not bring out the best in people; occasionally you get an amazing gesture, but usually people in pain or in the presence of pain are nasty, selfish, and quite convinced in their right to request, even to order, responders to put their lives at risk for whatever the ‘victim’ considers important. What happens? Responders get cynical, bitter, and eventually burned out.

Nerd on the Fireline
10/30 This came in last night and I missed posting it this morning before I ran off... Ab.

For all you people complaining about sitting at home or complaining about resources being denied and/or accepted... Listen up.

All of you need to close your traps right now and focus your energy another way. We lost another brother. Maybe we should look at that and concentrate our energy towards thoughts and prayers for that person and their brothers and sisters that sat with him while the fire burned over them. MAYBE you should look at the family that is without a father, a husband, or maybe a mother and father in sorrow. MAYBE you should look at the fact that there are 12,000 people down there doing what they can do help and believe me they are doing all that they can. MAYBE you should look at the fact that if you were down there, you would be complaining about the logistics and operations (looking at what you are saying now) and would be worthless, and MAYBE you should look at the fact that this is life. Want to be a hero, then shut the hell up and wait your turn. We are not heroes. WE are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. That is what this job is about. Did I mention it is a job??

So lets concentrate that nobody should die for a tree or a house. Those get rebuilt, lives don't.

May our thoughts and prayers be with those who are there now, not on ourselves.

Be safe out there, god bless

-Fire Killer
10/30 morning abe's,
my heartfelt condolences to the navato crew. once again, there just
simply are no words to express this kind of grief we all feel.

does anyone know if the community of twin peaks has been spared or did
it burn over?

donna,
single resource.
10/30 I'd just like to say that you guys are doing a remarkable job on this
website. I saw it first in late 98' and kinda laughed @ it not thinking it
would ever really take off. I think it's the best wildland site around and
the updating of it on a daily basis is great.

Way to go guys and gals!

And thanks much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MG

"What? There are other wildland fire sites? ;-) We keep on keeping on. Thanks MG. FYI, the reason the the IncidentCommand.com site no longer displays info on the San Berdu fires is that they got so many people viewing (200,000 in two days) that they exceeded their allotted bandwidth. Their ISP probably charged them big bucks (maybe in the thousands of dollars) and they couldn't afford to do it for a service. They were a volunteer/ private site that sold a few little pictures, but certainly not enough to come close to paying expenses that go with over-bandwidth fines. Luckily, we have just gone to a larger site (more expensive) because of bandwidth issues during fire season, so I think we're OK although maybe I should look at records to see if we're going to run into problems too. Ab.
10/30 There’s another urgent call to action regarding legislation pending on “competitive” sourcing. This legislation would roll back the new A-76 rules under which outsourcing decisions are made by political appointees. Under the old rules, outsourcing decisions were based solely on cost calculations, which at least gave the federal workforce a fighting chance. I don’t know the timing of this Congressional action, other than that it is immanent. Call today. Better to be late than silent. The info you need is posted at http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain/.

Also, I’ve posted the language pertaining to Forest Service “competitive” sourcing in the Interior Appropriations Bill.

Union guy
10/30 I have to run off for a bit. Would someone please call Caroline and South OPS to get them to update the R5 fire site so firefighters and the public will know where to find maps and the most updated information on the web. We're getting a lot of emails from people looking for info on the Old Fire in the Arrowhead area. All the R5 fire site has is phone numbers.

Good job on the part of the Fire PIOs for getting on it last night and getting that information out there!

Thanks, Fire Information Folks. Ab.
10/30 Area Command is meeting to discuss overall strategy for the fires. The Area Command Team is led by Rex Mann.
Information and predictions for today on the fires without websites:

Old Fire: Old Fire Map and info with links to quick information and evacuations. (Good work for getting the information online. Ab.)
Fire is spreading North and East following prevailing wind currents and topography. Rapid spread is predicted when all burning factors are in full alignment at 1400hrs. 2,392 incident personnel are fighting the fire. It is 47,960 acres and 10% contained.

Appx 850 homes and 35 commercial properties have been destroyed. Of that, yesterday/last night fire destroyed 350 residences in the area; 300 of which were in the eastern Lake Arrowhead community.

At risk are 50,000 homes, 80,000 outbuildings, 2000 businesses totaling 10 billion dollars in property.

For more info, call the San Bernardino National Forest 909-382-2600.

Grand Prix: Grand Prix Fire Map and info The fire has experienced significant growth in a northerly direction into the Antelope Valley. It is expected to continue to spread to the North and East. Yesterday/last night he fire made a significant run to the north toward Hesperia. Mandatory evacuations orders are in effect for Oak Hills, Baldy Mesa, Silverwood Lake and Summit Valley. Evacuation orders have been lifted for the Lytle Creek area. 1,808 incident personnel are fighting the fire. It is 91,207 acres and 40% contained.

Appx 50 residences and 40 outbuildings have been destroyed. At risk are 3,000 homes, 1,500 outbuildings, and 100 businesses.

For more info, call the San Bernardino National Forest 909-382-2600.

Padua Fire: Structures are threatened in the community of Mt. Baldy Village which has been evacuated. Structure protection is continuing. The fire is 10,466 acres and 90% contained. 455 incident personnel are fighting the fire. For more info, call the Angeles
National Forest 626-574-1613.
10/30 After going out on fires in California for five years and watching the coverage of the latest big fires, I still think CDF and the local fire departments might find it difficult to switch their thinking from initial attack to extended attack. This transition includes tapping into the national resources as needed and getting onto reasonable work-rest rotations. Tuesday night, I saw a CDF firefighter interviewed who had been in a fireline command situation for 48 hours with no down time. That's too long, period. This is a tough time of year anyway, even in a normal (whatever that is) fire season. I can remember California, October fires where everyone started out tired and it seemed like half the people in fire camp were trying to get sick. And boy is it hard to roll out of the sleeping bag for 5:30 a.m. briefings long before it gets light. Bless the folks who are out there this year, and keep your head up and your whoha covered.

Still out there as an AD
10/30 Ab,

Some people think incoming equipment and personnel are being held in reserve. Nothing is farther from the truth. There are just so many incidents (Camp Pendleton, contained today, and the Temecula (Mountain Fire) nearing containment that draw little press) and different ICP's (Simi Valley has Ventura County and LA County running things in their respective counties) that not everything is making the news. LA stations have been concentrating on the Simi Fire and almost ignoring the rest and they are the stations generating the national news footage. San Diego's four fires were just sound bites, despite the size, fire front is now over 45 miles long, and the number of civilian casualties. It hard to compete with flames (most of which were burn outs), around multi-million dollar homes, and run away reporters.

Every one coming to help is being given a job. Statewide priorities are being assigned by State OES and others, and valuable resources are distributed accordingly, matching the type of resource to the job as best they can.

Fyr Etr
10/30 Dear Ab,

I found your site in July at the same time my son was hired on for his first season with CDF. It has been invaluable for me to learn about wildland firefighting and the politics of that world. I felt I had to email you as I read FamilySaid and TheySaid this evening wherein folks were asking why California will not use contract companies. Well, my son was laid off of CDF on 10/15/03 just before the conflagration down South commenced. They have not recalled him which seems insane considering not only is he ready and able - they trained him! The state would rather pay him unemployment than to hire him back on - is it any wonder that California is such a mess?!?!?! By the way, he is considered eligible for rehire next season, so it is not like he did not acquit himself well during the nearly 90 days he was employed.

Thanks for hearing me out.
Frustrated and Angry in Northern California
10/29 Ab,

Here are two news links to television channels that are running live web feed when they are doing the news of the So Cal fires:

www.TheSanDiegoChannel.com San Diego

www.abc7.com Inland Empire

My sympathy and prayers go out for the Family and friends of the fallen Navato Firefighter and to those who were injured.

Stay Safe. Lots of reports of crews putting in shifts in excess of 36 hours and these are being made directly to the media.

Fyr Etr

some more news stations with photos:
10/29 To all the guys on the line, be safe. Heads up and pray for rain.

Joe
10/29 GT

If you think the situation in Southern Cal is all that simple then you are sadly mistaken, uninformed and definitely inexperienced in dealing with massive conflagrations. Hunter hit it right about the ICS being developed after the 1970s fires which occurred during this same time of the year with much the same results. The system works and it's damn effective. The fires are broken up and are relatively manageable in terms of size, terrain isnt flat and roads are often one lane with two directions of travel. Communities are tucked in tight in the timber and brush. Since you're from Nevada go look at the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe and then multiply it by about 100 and you night get close. The numerous times that I have been to fires in Nevada, the one thing that has struck me is that there is a only a very small portion of Nevada that could remotely represent the complexity of fire fighting that is going on in SoCal right now.

Also you're wrong about out of state resources being held in reserve, they are out there doing the job and doing well. The problems faced in the Lake Arrowhead area, San Diego and Santa Clarita are fuels, drought, disease and WIND DRIVEN fire. Perhaps you need to walk a mile in the boots of the fire fighters that are out there getting their ass whipped before you pop off about not being invited to the game.

Nuf said... an old guy
10/29 Sadly, the first firefighter fatality occurred today in Southern California.

It as been reported that a member of the Novato Fire District (California), part of a Marin County Local Government Strike Team, was killed today on the Cedar Fire, in San Diego County.

Engineer Steve Rucker, 38, an 11-year veteran of the Novato Fire District, was killed when the engine crew was burned over. Firefighter Doug McDonnell was reported in critical condition with burns over 20%. Two other firefighters on the engine crew received minor burns. This engine crew was one of 18 engines (3 from NFD, including an OES Engine) from Marin County that were sent down to Southern California.

It was also reported that the engine crews with that strike team will be returning home soon.

The chief for Novato Fire District had nothing but praise for Engineer Rucker, stating his dedication to the job and his support for the NFD's Christmas Toy Drive. The chief informed the public that he left behind a wife and child, who were both devastated.

More information can be found at the CPF website at www.cpf.org/ and www.latimes.com.

Our Prayers and Thoughts go out for Engineer Rucker and his family.

MOC4546
10/29 Please, my Friends, do NOT fall into considering yourselves HEROES or thinking of the fire as a "must do" at costs. It's easy to begin to feel like you've got to "fix it" when things are so chaotic and intense.

On the Fox News at lunchtime, I was concerned at the way they were reporting the fire at Julien.
Phrases like "The town considers them Heroes."
"It's a historic mining town and it must be saved."
"People are staying to protect their homes".
And all this with 60-100' flamelengths and winds blowing them every whichway.

My CDF instructors always said,
"Firefighting is YOUR job.
It is THE HOMEOWNER'S emergency."
Don't get the two mixed up.

I appreciated the hotshot's comment, 3 day stubble and black with soot. When the reporter asked about how he felt that the house was burning... "It's just a bunch of wood."

Reality check!
Mellie
(and yeah, we do know you're heroes just doing your jobs)
10/29 GT,

You are appointed California Fire God. You will wave your magic wand over
the 150 by 150 miles of Southern California that covers some 10 major fires,
and all those nasty flames will go out.

This group of fires are a Incident Command, Plans, logistics, Finance and
Operations greatest challenge. The geographical, organizational, political,
and logistical complexities of the area on fire are huge.

The California Emergency Services have been operating under the Incident
Command System (ICS) since the early 1970's when they developed ICS after
the fire siege of 1970. They do large Incident Command as well or better
than any other locale. But there is always room for improvement, and you
are just the one to make it happen.

Lets say you can immediately move all the engines, water tenders, dozers,
copters, air tankers, hand crews, and overhead you will need to accomplish
your desires into Southern California. You throw all that equipment and
personnel at the nearest fire. Who will plan for them, feed rest, supply,
and pay them?

Now, new fires break out. Who will work these fires? Not those 3 hours
away covering open stations, because you sent them to the big fires. You
wave your wand and no new fires break out.

Equipment breaks down, needs fuel, tires, replacement tools and hose. You
just wave you wand again and those problems are solved.

People get hurt, fall sick, they need to eat, sleep, shower and change dirty
clothes. Again, you wave your wand and sick and injured are returned to
home. All their logistical needs are immediately taken care of.

I will not attempt to fully answer your observations of what you see on TV,
but TV coverage is not reality in wildland fires. For every firefighter you
see on TV, hundreds are behind the scenes working their butts off. And, be
assured, those on the pavement in front of houses have a job to do also.

By now you have blocked out this dialog and are saying anything can be
accomplished if you just want it to bad enough.

Hunter
10/29 Ab
Just confirmed on TV that there has not been one NV resource that has been
on the fire yet. All NV resources are sitting!
GT
10/29 Ab

It is always enjoyable to read everyone's comments. I have many friends that
work for The Forest Service and BLM. I have heard that there is not an
engine or firefighter from any out of state resource that is actually on the
fire. They are all staging at surrounding stations, some 3 plus hours away.
There are no contractors yet and the news keeping begging for help. I think
the IC's need to stand back and re-organize to get control of the situation.
Each fire needs to be handled separately and I think it has just got to be
too much for each IC. CA has always been one to handle all there own stuff,
but I think it's time for them use the resources that are out there. There
are thousands of resources and firefighters just waiting to help. Why
aren't water trucks being called, I see the engines and crews on TV and it
doesn't look like much is being accomplished? Bring in the water and keep
the drops going, keep the bulldozers moving, keep cutting line isn't that
how fires are usually handled? I know the winds are a major problem along
with all the beetle killed trees, but is CA just going to let it burn till
there is nothing else to burn?

God Bless everyone that's working on these fires and pray the fires are
controlled soon.

GT

Your friend is misinformed. There are NV and AZ engines that are providing structure protection. Last time I looked, they were considered "out of state".

Only a large wet weather event will end these fires. Don Studebaker, winner of the Silver Pulaski Award, said so on CNN. It's not a matter of "CA letting it burn", this is mother nature at its fiercest. It is burning with no end in sight.

Ab.
10/29 People who are enquiring about the Old and the Grand Prix Fires information,

I just talked with SoCal Capt who filled me in. The Information Officer on the Olds Fire knows of the IncidentCommand.com site being taken offline. Info people are working to get the Old and the Grand Prix fires pages up on the Mountain Area Safety Taskforce website. Hopefully that will happen soon.

Some other info on overhead and fires:
Gelobter's CIIM Team 4 is overseeing the Padua to the north of the Grand Prix Fire.
Studebaker's CIIM Team 2 is overseeing the Old Fire from Waterman Canyon Rd (Rt 18) west to the Grand Prix Fire and is overseeing part of the Grand Prix.
Mortier's CIIM Team 3 is overseeing the Old from Rt 18 to Santa Ana Drive (Arrowhead, Running Springs area).
Cable's CIIM Team 5 is coming on the oversee the fire from Santa Ana Drive to the desert floor (Big Bear area).

I put some links to southern CA media on the bottom of the Southern CA Fires page. There are photos and videos on some of the sites.

Ab.
10/29 Just FYI www.incidentcontrol.com that was reporting on the Gran Prix and Old Fires has stopped updating. They said they can not keep up with it as a volunteer group. They now have a circular link that goes no where between their site and the Forest Service site http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/. So no new info is available on the Lake Arrowhead, Crestline and Big Bear areas.

JFdC

JF, I am getting many emails like yours. Please see my next post. They're working on it. Being able to get timely info via the web helps people plan and cope. It might even save someone's life. Ab.
10/29 Ab,

A note on safety, air tankers, and ambulances....

So I heard a story that pricked my ears up the other day. A buddy of mine was working as an EMT in SoCal. And saturday night he got the call to go evacuate a hospital in Lake Arrowhead @ 3am. So he & 30 other ambulances form up and drive up Hwy 18 through the fire. He has no fire training, no PPE, no fire shelter, no LCES, just a polyester uniform & and a radio that can talk with his strike team leader- who can in turn then talk to someone on the fire. While telling me this story, he showed me some very eyebrow raising photos of 20 foot flames on either side of the road and landslides that occasionally blocked his way. No Forest Service/CDF/Fire liason to guide or direct the convoy, no one with any fire training at all! And this is with Santa Ana's blowing full boar, flames whipping up everywhere, and in pitch darkness. Just 30 ambulances winding there way up the mountain. Sounds pretty scary to me. I was wondering what people's thoughts might be on this one...

The other thing I was wondering is about the effect of the big air tanker groundings. Has it really made a difference to the managers on the ground, or have the SEATs really picked up the slack? Just curious.

After some hibernating...
-the Nomad

PS And gawd I hope those guys in SD are okay. I still have some friends down there...
10/29 Just back from Phase I of the yearly deer & elk hunting expeditions in the frozen North (i.e. Montana), and watching the SoCal fire action on the Fox News coming in over the satellite.

On the Stevenson Ranch fire scene, seeing lots of god structure protection work being done, but I'm also seeing lots of the fire folks wandering around without fire shelters on their belts! And a young female reporter in a designer blouse, just a few minutes of active fire behavior away from the active fire front, without any Nomex, not even the requisite open Nomex shirt.

Also lots of talk about 36 hour shifts without rest, working since saturday with only a total of 10 hours sleep, etc: real hero talk, but proven to be deadly over the years!

Where's the SOFR's in these situations?

Heard CDF a fatality and 2 other injuries in the San Diego area...?????

Mollysboy
10/29 Ab

I'm guessing that the rumor your looking into in the firefighter death.
Fox news is reporting that one firefighter died and two were injured on the
Cedar fire. (www.foxnews.com/) I just talked to my husband who is
there and he said when the left the fire there were many medical units
responding towards the fire.

C
10/29 KNBC Los Angeles is getting info. from San Diego media of firefighter death in Julian. Reporting two additional critical injuries after engine was overrun by fire.

FAS
10/29 BC-WST--Wildfires-Firefighters,100
BULLETIN
One firefighter killed, two injured in San Diego County
SAN DIEGO (AP) — One firefighter was killed and two were injured battling
the largest blaze in San Diego County on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the
California Department of Forestry said.

This came in at 1530 Mountain. No new details yet.

Quill.

I have been getting emails concerning rumors for the last half hour. Ab.
10/29 Lem'me get this updated pronto before the solar flares knock out my computer line again.

The Old and Grand Prix Fire Sites are down. The forwarding url is http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/ No information there.

Those who have sent in emails on a rumor, I'm checking on that topic as well. Bear with me.

Ab.
10/29 Suspect in Old Fire arson.

NorCal Tom
10/29 Lem'me get this updated pronto before the solar flares knock out my computer line again. Ab.
10/29 I notice that our (MN) CL215 water scoopers have been released and sent to Kingman AZ. I assume that they are being used on the CA wildfires since at least one is near a huge freshwater source. They are pretty impressive doing what they were designed for when they are near a large lake. One of the few "firebombers" actually designed for the work of dousing wildfire.

Oddly enough we are still having a few small fires in MN even though it is 30*F and we have had a rain/snow combination falling for at least 2 days. Weird!

I know a lot of MN firefighters are with you in spirit and wish they could be there helping. We are all praying for rain in SoCal before the fatigue factor completely sets in. National news last night said some crews had been working for over 50 hours strait without rest. They also reported that so far there was an estimated "cost of 2 billion" in fire damage and 10,000 firefighters. I wonder how high each of those numbers will get eventually?

As sad as the loss of property and civilian lives makes me I am thankful for the one number than has remained at 0.
Stay safe brothers and sisters.

Dana
10/29 Well the dragon it has caught up with us as well in the Rocky Mountains. The Overland fire is reported to have grown from 60 to 500 acres in the last few hours. The fire started in the Foothills west of Boulder, Colorado (near Jamestown) early this morning. A Red Flag weather day (high temps and winds with low RH) are causing extreme fire conditions. Last I heard the few hundred residents of Jamestown were evacuated. Ironically my chief sent out an email earlier today saying that he heard it was 20-30 acres and nearly contained. Hopefully the snow scheduled for tomorrow shows up in time.

Take care & Adios,
CJD
10/29 Ab: Here is a media release that might be of interest to your audience. "Firemark"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For Immediate Release
Contact: Richard Pfilf
NAFSR Executive Director
Ph: 703-922-3854

FOREST SERVICE RETIREES DEPLORE SUIT TO STOP FIRE FIGHTING ACTION

ALEXANDRIA, VA. The nation's forest service retirees are alarmed about the total lack of responsibility demonstrated by a frivolous lawsuit designed to stop use of fire retardants on forest fires. The suit, by the so-called Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE), asks the federal court in Missoula, Montana to enjoin the use of retardant until the Forest Service completes an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The National Association of Forest Service Retirees (NAFSR) points to the current raging fires in Southern California. Here the use of retardant is preventing millions of dollars of property and resource loss and, perhaps, even lives. Forest Service retirees ask how anyone can be so irresponsible to demand stopping the use of retardant while preparing an EIS when Santa Ana winds are now pushing an inferno through Southern California communities. The citizens of Southern California communities threatened by fire should be outraged to learn that the courts may put their lives at risk and enjoined firefighting agencies from saving their homes and possessions.

FSEEE, based in Eugene, Oregon, mischievously contrived this suit, the retirees assert, as a way to subvert and interfere with proven, effective methods of fighting forest fires. Claiming possible detriment to fish, should retardant accidentally fall into a water body, and citing a number of deaths to firefighters over the years, the suit fails to mention or equate stream habitat saved by fire suppression and the human lives saved by the use of retardant. Cities, counties, airport authorities and rural fire districts all use retardant. NAFSR believes the legal action by FSEEE threatens to interfere with the operation of fire fighting agencies across the country.
10/29 There are now 2 wildfires in the front range of Colorado.

One in the Boulder area.
The other on Highway 85 near the Palmer Divide region in
Douglas county between Denver and Colorado Springs.
We are under red flag warnings, it is Hot, dry and the wind
is blowing.

(deep sigh)
tourbi
10/29 AB:

This morning about 6:00am, they found a fire near Jamestown, northwest of
Boulder, Colorado. It is developed into a major wildland fire. All of
Boulder County has people fighting this. It is straight west of my home in
the foothills. It is called the Overland fire I believe. The smoke here on
the plains east of the fire has been really bad. It seems to be letting up
somewhat. They are starting to moving out some residents in Lefthand Canyon.
This fire is coming into the area of the Lefthand fire in 1988. This is
going to be a long haul on this fire. Hope we don't lose any homes.

Lefthand Fire District, which is a the first in fire department, just sent a
Type-3 engine and crew to California two days ago. This is the same thing
that happened in 1988, when they sent a truck to Yellowstone fire.

Hope we there is no more fires.

CAFSman
10/29 It's blowing onshore like crazy here on the north coast of CA.
I hope things are quieter down south. Thinking of all of ya'll.

Mellie
10/29 retrieving information or pictures of the fire crews I worked with in the early 1980's:

My name is Lynn McKenzie.

I was a helitack crew member with the Payson helitack crew in the Tonto National Forest wild land firefighters in 1981. I would like to know what I would need to do to get info or pictures of the year and crew.

I was also a member of the Idyllwild, California engine crew in 1983. This was in the San Bernardino National Forest. I would like to know if there is someone out there that remembers me or has any info on the archives for that year.

Lynn

Hi Lynn, wildlandfire.com doesn't go back that far although we do have some scanned photos sent in by contributors. Writing in here to contact old friends is a good move, although some may be away fighting fire and not reading at this time. Readers, anyone remember Lynn? Ab.
10/29 FYI- The Dulzura Fire is the Otay Fire. It burned the entire Otay
Wilderness area (plus some) and at one time threatened the community of
Dulzura. It was pretty well contained with successful back burns. No loss
of life or structures, just a bunch of Threatened and Endangered Species
(which hopefully will come back). Majority of the land burned was BLM.

As for resources.... Everyone is doing their best. when 120,000 acres burn
in one day- 209s are requesting "TYPE 1 ENGINES AS MANY AS POSSIBLE" -I
think the fires are asking for whatever they can get, the GACC/MAC groups
are doing their best to put things into place. The citizens have not been
requesting people from a certain place or type of business (private/ govt).
Remember the span of control- we need to be planning the attack not just
blindly attacking. So everyone take a deep breath. We all want to be there.
We all want to be fighting the dragon. We all wish we could be there
whether we are stuck in Northern CA, WY or OR.

As I sign off I am frustrated to not be able to do more for my friends'
families who are losing their home (6 at last count), one friend's extended
family member lost his life (fleeing the fire), the kids can't go to
school, and I know multiple people evacuated. These are the type of people
who do know the risk, prepare their homes, and listen to the authorities.
Some days you can do everything right and mother nature just overrules you.

To those down in SoCal you are in our hearts and thoughts. We all wish we
could be there to stand by you on the line. Call us when you need us.

Until then,
BLMgirl

Thanks for the clarification. Ab.
10/29 Ab, today will be critical for some of the communities on the OLD fire.
Perimeter MAP
Topo MAP 10/28

From the morning 209
Major problems and concerns:
High winds, dry conditions, and beetle killed timber intermixed with structures. The fuels are stressed and diseased due to drought conditions.

Communities/Critical Infrastructure Threatened: (12 hours) 50,000 homes, 80,000 outbuildings, 2000 businesses totaling 10 billion dollars in property. Power distribution, communication sites, water supply, bridges and roads are all immediately threatened.

Fuels/Materials Involved: 4 Chaparral (6 Feet)
Additionally drought/diseased stressed timber. Dead pine at higher elevations.

Today's observed fire behavior: Passive and Active Crown fires on either side of Silverwood Lake moving Northwest and East. Mass spotting ahead of fire fronts. Uphill runs against Rim Rd. opposite Running Springs with flame lengths greater than 40 ft. with some spotting.

Remarks: This incident was divided East and West of Waterman Canyon to enhance incident management.

Actions planned for next operational period: Continue structure protection. Construct primary dozer and handline where able. Improve contingency planning, mapping and fire behavior analysis. Continue to construct contingency lines. Continue to hold fire west of the Santa Ana drainage.

Projected incident movement/spread during next operational period: Wind and slope alignment with WSW winds will increase the rate of spread up Rim Rd and toward mountain communities. Smoke will be lessening in the area allowing for better aerial recon. Expect erratic winds in the afternoon hours.

Growth potential: Extreme
Difficulty of terrain: Extreme

Lets send a few prayers for the best of weather conditions, folks.
Strider

10/29 Why aren't contractors being sent to the fires? Type 6 engines and handcrews really aren't the right resources for the job.

Most of my experience has been as a STL in structure protection. With the situation in Cali right now, the ground forces most needed are strike teams of type 1 and type 2 engines, with cross trained structural/wildand interface firefighters.

On fires in OR and WA, structure protection is usually provided by fire district engines under the mobilization act or conflagration act. If Cali calls on those, they will get pre-designated strike teams with STL's

Fortunately, those fire districts don't dismantle their resources at the "end" of the season. Local FD's are properly trained, equipped and available.

Why aren't they being called?

Islander
10/29 Abs,
My prayers go out to the So. Cal. fire soldiers, some with 55 hours on the line (AP report). That's not only brutal, but heroic. The enormous property damage is bad enough, but add the loss of life, this becomes a national tragedy. R-5 is usually well covered. You know it's bad when they go outside their borders for help.

I am saddened, though, to see the bureaucratic wheels apparently turn so slow to provide support to our Brothers and Sisters in fire. Given the fluid situation in So. Ca., dispatch centers appear to be having difficulty filling both equipment and overhead resource orders (I learned this speaking to So Cal. fire friends this morning). Their needs seem to be much bigger than grabbing an engine here, a div. sup. there.

Given this true emergency and since agencies in our region are down to seasonal skeleton staffing, we got on the phone and started calling other contract engine companies in our association who we know are capable of dealing with tough Interface issues. Our novel offer to GACC was to provide blocks of EERA equipment in Task Forces--configured to their requirements--each with its own Red Carded TFLD, do all the mobilization coordination and provide these resources on a silver platter at a named place and time. We even had them lined up for immediate dispatch.

I learned quickly, though, that there currently exists no mechanism to utilize contract resources this way, even during a state of emergency. Apparently, each company and its staffable engines can only be dispatched one-here-and-one there by GACC through the individual forests or district dispatch centers, not on a regional basis that looks at these resources as part of a bigger picture, as we proposed.

Additionally, I found one GACC with active overhead orders they could not fill and a nearby GACC with a stable of available overhead and no orders. Is this our friend ROSS at his best, or just Uncle Sam's idea of a Quick Turn?

Perhaps wiser people than me have figured this all out. If so, please let a mere mortal like myself in on the secret. I'm sure many in So Cal. would like to know as well.

Just a Mule Skinner
10/28 DEF and Navy helicopters:

That's the California Department of <badword> for you.
I am not talking about the front line guys, or even the guys who make sh*t
happen, I am talking about the politicians in Ione and Sacramento that have
the corner on their fifedom and won't let go!

Completely assinine - the Navy can land the helos on a rolling deck,
transfer munitions from one ship on the high sea to another, zoom into a
firezone and drop off SEALS/Marines/SPECOPS but they are not trained enough
to drop water on a burning fire?

Jeeeze, they could have been used in areas where the winds were not that
bad, where mop-up operations were going on.

They were THERE ready for use!!

Stupid stupid stupid...
If I were you California guys I would be asking WHY the Navy was not allowed
to participate, and I would send those letters to Duncan Hunter!

San Diego-based Navy helicopters, routinely used to fight fires on military
property, were prepared to battle the Cedar fire on Sunday but remained
grounded because state officials said the Navy pilots did not have
appropriate training. The helicopters were flown to the Ramona airport, but
pilots were denied permission to drop water as the fire began its march
south and west.

www.latimes.com

JH

10/29 SNS,
Laguna HS are on the fires in and around the Cleveland. They were on National
Public Radios's Morning edition this AM.
www.npr.org/programs/morning/index.phpl

(Click on the link for Wednesday's show) NPR did a very nice piece on the
S. Cal fires and they did a long bit with the Hot Shots.

-Cat
10/28 Contractors,

The engines that are being used are largely engines from communities in CA,
NV and AZ. Structure protection is what's happening. Bump and run. On
some fires like those in San Diego Co, there is little containment effort, it's
all protect life and protect structures. When you can't save it, get out,
move on and find the next place you might be able to save. Private resources
being used are Watertenders, Dozers and Helicopters from what I've
observed. What we also will need are more like managers/sups, specialized
needs SITL, RESL, STLE, TFLD, DOZB, SEC1 & SEC2, DIVS, OPBD etc.

As far as handcrews go, CDF has a large inmate handcrew population to
call on. It's way more economical to use inmate crews than Type 2 contract
crews. Often the fire is so extreme that handcrews would only be in danger.

Anyone else want to chime in with what they see?

SoCal CDFer
10/28 Hey Ab:

Can anyone tell me what a red card does for a person and who is
suppose to issue them? What is suppose to be on a card? Is the
color really red.

N.N.F.F

Check Ab's explanation of Redcards. They are more pink than red in my opinion.
10/28 ok lets settle this
oregon has several contract resourcres available but as of today only 5 contract crews from medford on way, 10 additional goverment . the politics is ridiculous on this fire 10,000 firefighters in california in fighting the fires. and the president of the united states saying that all resources will be commited makes you wonder how much the goverment really cares about contractors.Time to call your congressman or state rep and complain about the unfair treatment of contractors i wonder if the california news media gets wimd of this hmmmmmm.

r-6
10/28 Anyone know if ANY contract engines are being used in southern
Cal. Or any plans to use them?
Thanks.

~S boss~
10/28 Regarding the Oregon crews being "off line".

Ive been on a time-out if you will for some "things". The last i heard was that until all the contract crews got some sort of training they were "off-line". However im glad to hear they aren't. Most of those guys rock. Just like any place, a few crewmembers can make the whole thing look bad.

I have been involved in fire since i was born, and this is the worst thing i ever remember.

Im still looking for the Laguna Shots any clue? Last I heard they were at Pendleton.

SNS

It was only the crews of one company that were stood down until they got more training. Ab.
10/28 From Firescribe: One success...

Camp Pendleton Brush Fire Contained

"The fire burned 8,592 acres. No structures were damaged.... At its peak more than 1,300 firefighters, numerous engines and more than a dozen aircraft from various agencies were on scene. In addition to Camp Pendleton's Fire and Emergency Services, personnel from the USFS, the CDF and many of the surrounding communities joined forces to battle the blaze."

Well, more than one... check Ab's Southern CA fires list... There are some contained. But all the large ones rage on.

Also look at this AP summary: California Wildfires at a Glance

What is the Dulzura Fire and who is lead overhead on that one?

"DULZURA FIRE, San Diego County: No deaths, 45,291 acres burned. Started Oct. 26, cause under investigation. 90 percent contained."

Got'me. My SoCal source says it doesn't have any 209s on file. Not on the NIFC large fire map either. Associated Press has been known to be wrong before, especially where fire is concerned. There's still plenty of nasty flames in the south. Looks like the San Berdu fire is stacking up to be really bad as it hits the timber. Be safe. Ab.

10/28 Very sad to see this all unfold. I was laid off in Oct, from one of the region 4 shot crews. Let's go back to the basics. When all goes bad, go back to the basics: "the new 10" and the old 18's.

It is terrible to see all these houses burned and lives completely changed, but no house is worth you or your crew members lives. I watched several houses burn on the Aspen fire. As a young hotshot, this was hell. Also we saw home owners and their reactions as fire was about to burn their house... all we could was sit and watch. Sad, sad day. Please be careful.

I truely know everyone wants to make a difference. But don't get caught up the "hero" role. We are fighting a true act of nature. Please think before acting... I am praying for everyone on this one.

ANK
10/28 Yes, the headlines all read "no resources, firefighters being pulled off",
but no requests seem to being going out. I've got 2 CAFS/interface
engines sitting idle in Washington. Politics rules over common sense
again.

Islander
10/28 Some pictures of the Grand Prix fire, these were taken at Glenn Haven park
ICP. Winds were blowing 45 plus...houses burning......fire burned around
and to the ICP.

Mellie, not sure about a fire in redwood park, but I believe most of the
smoke in the north state is coming from the whitmore fire east of redding.
Heard thru grapevine it was around 1300 acres at about 1pm.

tc

Nice ones TC. The fire came very close to camp, didn't it. I made a Grand Prix Fire photo page. Maybe some more pics will come in. Ab.
10/28 New Fire in North Zone:

Evacuations called off near Whitmore

The fire burning near Whitmore Tuesday grew to 1,700 acres shortly before 1 p.m., fire officials said. The fire began about 11:15 p.m. Monday near Tamarack and Bateman roads and by morning had created a large plume of smoke that was visible from throughout the north state.

and another one that started this afternoon...

Fire flares up near Wonderland Boulevard

WC

10/28 The Paradise Fire is being run by CDF Team 1, with Loren Snell as the IC,
The Mountain Fire is CDF Team 2. Firs time in a long time CDF Northern
California Teams have been activated in the South. (Teams 1-5 are from the
NORTH, Teams 6-10 are SOUTH). A good call by South Ops or Sacto to stage
North teams in the south because of the unlikelyhood of putting together a
team in the south, after Team 6 was activated (on Call) with all the
activity. And.. CDF assumed command of the PIRU Fire.

FC180

I've added that info to the Southern CA Fires page. I couldn't find a list of the CDF teams and where they're from, so that info is useful as well as interesting. Ab.
10/28 Update on competitive sourcing:

House and Senate negotiators have approved the Interior Appropriations conference report for fiscal 2004. While the measure must still be approved by the full House and Senate, this is in most cases a mere formality. This effectively closes the book on the Interior Appropriations Bill for this year. For those who have not sent out letters or made calls, there is no need to do so at this point in time. Save that energy for the next battle.

The following information comes from The Congressional Green Sheets Environment and Energy Daily Report of October 28. While the final language contains no ban on the administration's “competitive” sourcing initiative, it does cap Forest Service spending on its program at $5 million. It also requires Interior agencies to submit annual reports to Congress about their competitive sourcing programs, and re-establishes the provision (removed by the new A-76 circular) that A-76 results must predict savings of 10 percent or more before work can be outsourced. I’ll post the details on the website when I get them.

While this is not the outcome for which we hoped (it is clear that the Bush Administration’s veto threat influenced how far Congress was willing to go), these are positive changes. These changes show that our involvement can make a difference. My congratulations and thanks to everyone who pitched in.

-- Union guy

Thanks Union guy for your persistence in providing information. Ab.
10/28 Arcata, on the northern CA coast is getting some heavy north wind smoke, strung out and pushed by the North wind (foehn wind). It became evident last evening or maybe afternoon. Anyone know what that is? I heard from Norcal Team 2 (before they left for the south) that Redwood National Park has a blaze. This smoke seems to be coming more from the east. Curious...

Mellie
10/28 Update on fire deaths:

I checked out nbc and cbs news for info on the fire deaths. CBS had a few details at www.cbsnews.com and it looks like a variety of factors have come into play. The main theme seems to be private individuals getting caught up in the conflagration by waiting too long to evacuate.

"Among those killed were one person whose body was found in a motor home, and three in other vehicles, county sheriff's spokeswoman Susan Knauss said. Three were killed while trying to escape on foot and two were dead on arrival at local hospitals.... (Cedar Fire)

"Another fire near San Diego that started Sunday killed two people and destroyed 57 homes while burning about 15,000 acres, authorities said. It also prompted evacuations in northeastern Escondido....

"Two men collapsed and died, one as he was evacuating his canyon home (age 70) and the other as he watched his house burn (age 92) , the county coroner said." (Old Fire)

pH (aka sedgehead).

Ab's italics above.

10/28 Hey folks there are a few engines from r6 down in cal and also a few crews also... now you think of this r6 is now saying they dont have any engines pvt or fed that are free... sent a few good emails off . one to a tv sta and will be talking with them soon..ncbrush6
10/28 I am not sure who to contact to find out more about helping with the relief efforts for these fires in the LA area but I can help. If I can find someone from the FS to pack test me I will be wildland firefighter certified and can get out there on those line and do my part. I also have my sawyer certificate and will be graduating with my AS in fire tech in the very near future. I have gone through fire academy, ICS, Haz Mat, and wildland training. I just need someone who is willing to take the time to pack test me. Can you halp me help fight these fires or do you know anyone who could help me in getting to hlp with these fires in any way possible? I would really appreciate any of the hints you can give me. Thank you.

Katherine
10/28 Mellie,

My experience with beetle killed trees may not be directly applicable to what exists in CA.
In MN we have a lot of acres of beetle killed spruce. Densely packed young dead spruce interspersed among 30-40' full grown dead trees make it kind of like the "doghair" I have seen out west except thicker.

In the few experiences I have with these catching on fire...they indeed did not crown in the common manner.
The fire DID tend to crawl around on the ground until it found some ladder fuel unless it had a good run in grass going into the spruce. Sometimes the ladder was nothing more than an "island" of tall dry grass which allowed the fire to reach the lowest twigs. These are often very low to the ground and can easily have grass growing well up into them. Once a beetle killed spruce thicket is afire the radiant heat ahead of the flame front easily gets the dead spruce twigs outgassing much like needles. The result is a rapid fire progression similar to a crown fire and nearly as fast....with a good wind driving it. More similar to the thick "brush fires" I saw in CA. with 6 -10 foot oily foliage feeding the flamefront than a true crown fire..only 2-3 times as tall.

I hope the beetle kill in CA is more like our dead "jackpine" with around 15' to the first small tinder size branches..and several yards between tree. The folks on CA have enough problems with the nightmare fires on the interface now. I know that these "events" have been long predicted by forestry and fire folks..and largely ignored by the general public but it is still shocking to see it finally happen. I am praying for rain...and the safety of the "troops" trying to guide and contain fires too large to put out and too close to "civilization" to outwait.

Fight smart..fight safe...watch each others backs...no house is worth a life.
Fireronin
10/28 sns your info is wrong. oregon has some very good firefighters waiting to go. just call us. we are here to help.

doc
10/28 r6-california is not out of resources, there are many fed and private contract engines available. Same old politics in California.

norcal private
10/28 With reference to the super scooper photos on Airtankers 5 photo page.

Some simple photos of mine taken Sunday 10-26-2003 in the Los Angeles area:

www.pe.net/~btodd/trip031026_00.phpl

Things are looking better as the wind in the next few days is to come from the ocean rather than the hot desert in the east.

Bob Todd
10/28 There are people who say all kinds of things about what fire will do and won't do and when it comes down to it you never know what a fire is going to do. Bottom line is if a fire is hot enough anything will burn (or crack, or boil). Sure there are tendencies, generalities, but when it comes to fire there are no steadfast rules. There is no certainty working with this element. the most important thing is to have respect for every fire, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.
FireChica
10/28 california keeps saying it is out of resources well oregon contractors are here ...helllo
people i know how cdf is but come on lets all do the right thing and work for a common goal

r-6
10/28 Two articles from the Press Enterprise. (Requires a simple sign-in but well worth it.)

Devastation of Inland forests fulfills predictions of tragedy
Fire crews get help in Crestline

Here's a photo I took upon my arrival at the Grand Prix fire.

Lobotomy

I put it on the Grand Prix Fire photo page along with 4 more great photos. Thanks for sending them in right away. They got hung up in our new junkmail filter.

If anyone sent in an email in the last few days - that hasn't been posted or that we haven't replied to - please resend. I think I've worked out the kinks in the system. Junk mail, what a pain. Again, thanks Lobotomy. Ab.

10/28 There was some discussion in Fire Chat last night about needles being required to carry a fire into the crown. A very experienced firefighter in the fuels that are currently burning in SoCal said the fire won't crown and run in the bug kill. It needed needles. It's clear that if a fire was already going and blowing that beetle-killed trees would provide substantial fuel.

The final question posed last night before I had to get offline was this:
All other factors being equal, is bug kill more likely to crown, as likely to crown, or less likely to crown than live trees?

Hmm, well we'd need ladder fuels of some sort... guess that takes it out of the "all other factors being equal" category...

Any thoughts? (Doug, I thought of giving you a call to see what you think...)

Be Safe All. Like everyone else I know who isn't already there, wish I was there and could help.

Mellie
10/28 Just a question to all of you more experienced than I am. I read up on the Simi Incident, mainly because I grew up there and have family and friends down there. Why don't they have Forest Service units called in. I realize that it does not fall under Forest Service jurisdiction, but when we have crews sitting around playing video games up here in Nor Cal, why can't they go and assist?

thanks,
Dawn

There are 2 type 1 handcrews on the Simi Incident. Ab.
10/28 URGENT – The House passed language in its version of the 2004 Interior Appropriations bill to prohibit any new “competitive” sourcing studies in the Forest Service. The Senate passed language to allow Forest Service “competitive” sourcing to continue full speed ahead. Conferees from the House and Senate are meeting right now to come up with the final bill that will be passed into law. This is our last best chance for the next year to get Congress involved in “competitive” sourcing. But we must ACT NOW!

How to contact key Senators, a sample letter, and talking points are posted at http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain/.

-- Union guy
10/27 AZ Trailblazer,

Thanks for the info, the family stayed in Glendale for acouple of nights and
is now back in Rancho safe and sound. I haven't had the chance to talk to
her for acouple of days due to me working my regular shift and then doing an
8 hour dispatcher shift. Thanks for the help. Sorry it's taken me so long
to say thanks. (We are too busy with flooding calls, I'll have to talk to
someone above me about sending some of this rain west.)

Onelick
10/27 hey sns your info is wrong..

NC Brush6
10/27 Battman, you be safe! Fire Cookie, you too! And John and all the rest of you!

Mellie
10/27 I hear that all Oregon contract crews are on "stand down" after the incident late summer. And all the guys from AZ i am sure will kick some butt. Does any one know what fire the Laguna Shots are on? several good friends are on that crew and I like to keep track in this sort of thing. So. Cal in Oct. is bad news.

SNS
10/27 Cross-posted from Familysaid:

I know it's been awhile since I checked in, it's been busy around here getting ready for the winter season...But right now it's Hell here in So Calif. I sat dazed Saturday night when we finally turned on the TV (we had spent a wonderful day doing family things). The devastation we saw was mind boggling. My Battman is gone to the Simi fire, he called a little bit ago to say the columns are standing up, which could be both good and bad. Santa Ana's in the area finally calming down, but then there is the threat of the onshore flow turning it and running it back into Santa Clarita. I know most of you are ready for your SO/family to come home, but if you could see what I see you would be happy he/she his helping.

On the top of the nob closest to my little part of the FS world I work,
To the East Smoke, dark and hazy starting in Sunland.
To the West, Huge columns of smoke rising, and the threat of cresting into the San Fernando Valley.
And listening to the scanner, I finally gave up and turned it off. I'm looking forward to going home tonight, and the possibility of getting the time to pop into chat, but I have lots to do, pick up the kid, get feed for critters, etc.

I know it is hard on everyone being with out their SO, But as of right now, things are not looking on the bright side here, and We can use all the help we can get. As for the comment made on shake roofs/clearances, So Calif has the Best Fire Prevention Programs in all of the states (yes this is My opinion based on my SO coming home from assignments over the past 12 years and telling the stories of people just clearing an area to build on and not having any clearance at all in other states). Many, Many communities here are involved in the Firewise efforts. And yes there are still people who do not adequately do a clearance, or still have a shake roof (older homes, owned by Elderly or people on fixed incomes that cannot afford to have them re-roofed). I know that there are many citations given every year in different fire districts for lack of clearances. If they are not done, then the fire district goes in does the clean up then places a lean on the home. As for the shake roofs, Maybe the State should step in implement a special fund (low income, federal grant, something, yeah I know Calif. is already in money trouble, but it is a thought) to help people re-roof their homes, especially those in a High Fire danger area.

If the fire in Crestline makes it to the bug kill, it won't matter who has what clearance or roof, the fire will go to a crown fire and be in Big Bear before anyone can say , I told you so.

My heart and prayers goes out to everyone in San Bernardino, Simi, Crestline and San Diego Co that has lost so much. And my prayers are with all the FF's and their families . Lets all pray for the winds to die, the temps to fall, and the fog to roll in.
(sorry about the ramble, but I'm a little tired)

firecookie
10/27 r-6,

There are 90 Strike Teams of engines en route from AZ and
NV, plus the National guard being called up. The problem is that
resources are still 3-12 hours away.

Things are a bit of a zoo, to say the least. We have had handcrews
arriving. More overhead teams are coming on as well. That should help a
lot.

I heard this morning that the fires in San Diego County alone have the
potential to go to 500,000 acres. I don't need to tell you that you
don't get fires that big down here without a lot of interface homes in
between.

Then there's the approaching end of the foehn winds - the Santa Anas.
If the reversing onshore flow is too strong, chances are the fires to the
north and east of San Berdu (Old Fire) will head east, up into the mountain
communities. If that happens and they get into the beetle and drought
killed timber around Crestline, heaven help all of us.

NorCal Tom
10/27 Websites are up on CDF for the fires under their jurisdiction. I've updated the Southern California Fires web page.

Also updated the Jobs page and the 0462 and 0455 wildland firefighter jobs pages. Ab.
10/27 heard warm springs ihc on way down south
wondering if any oregon contract resources are ordered or on way?

r-6
10/27 Just spotted this piece in www.worldnetdaily.com/ it's about some of
the things that were talked about not so long ago.

Lots of strike teams out of the bay area down south. It's a bad situation
and my heart goes out to those affected. As for all the folks on the fire
lines and those who back them up, watch out and go home in one piece.

Retired L.A.V.E.
10/27 From Firescribe, photos and slide shows:

www.signonsandiego.com/news/fires/multimedia.phpl#

Check the Fire News page. The death toll has risen. Be Safe, All. Ab.
10/26 Here's another link for the Old Waterman Fire, aka the OLD Fire.

http://rimoftheworld.net/

Be sure to check out the 3-D views. They haven't been updated, but will be pretty interesting when the fires are over.

www.calmast.org/mast/public/default.php

SoCal Capt

Thanks, I incorporated those links into the Southern California Fires page. Ab.

10/26 Fire in Butte Creek Canyon..100 acres.. 70 percent contained.. containment at
0800 tomorrow..1 structure lost.. 8 outbuildings. 1 minor injury to crew member.
NEU has "0" CDF engines left in it's unit.. LMU has only 2, Butte sent local gov
ST to San Berd today.

Dave
10/26 Some media coverage on the Simi Fire. It actually was an extension of the Val Verde (Verdale) Fire in LACo. When it blew into VNC, it was given a new incident number and they were off to the races.

On the Ventura County Star Web site:
"Simi Valley fire chars 80,000 acres"

Hunter

Thanks, Hunter. Check out the Southern CA Fires page with the links to info on those two fires there. Ab.
10/26 Walker's Type 2 IMT will be transitioning with Mortier's Type 1 IMT on the Old Fire tomorrow morning at 0600 hours.

NorCal Tom
10/26 To all of you who are on the lines in Southern California, or have loved ones there, please know our hearts and prayers go out to all of you. Please know that as you battle the fronts and flanks, we too are fighting in the Halls of Congress to get the recognition, pay and benefits you all deserve.

Stay Safe

Casey Judd
Business manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Assn.
10/26 Ab,

MSNBC is reporting 14 deaths now. Very few details though.

www.msnbc.com

Everyone be safe out there!
-Cat

This link has a slideshow and video clip.
Cat, I'll echo that, BE SAFE. What are an escape route and a safety zone under these conditions? Overhead, pull your people off if you need to! Ab.
10/26 As0f 1530, the Grand Prix fire site says that the Grand Prix and Old fires have merged!! This is a fire front of 40 miles, all of it urban interface!

Heads up everyone, remember LCES.

- MJ
10/26 We are getting rumors of 5-7 fatalities on the SO.Cal fires, We knew
about the 2 earlier, but any info?

- MJ

I heard 6 earlier today. Two were seniors (on the Old Fire) who had stress-related heart attacks. Two are thought to have died when their car got burnt over on one of the San Diego fires, I think the Cedar Fire. I haven't heard the specifics on the last 2.

Wow, there are more being reported now than 6. I just searched the Fire News Page under Wildfire and got this AP release via ABC News: Eight Dead in San Diego County Wildfire. Doesn't give details, though.

"Eight Deaths Reported in One San Diego County Wildfire, Bringing Overall Toll in California to 11"

Ab.

10/26 Are there a couple of incidents going in the North State?

Wondering

We're having redflag warnings all up and down the state. There have been starts in Redding today and yesterday in Willow Creek, Gasquet, Hoopa, Shasta, and Fort Ord that I have heard about through the grapevine. None have become large incidents because they haven't shown up on National Sit Report.

Take a look at the North Ops Sit Report from yesterday. Yep, there are the 2 on the Six Rivers NF and the one at Hoopa. The Shasta fire (called the Olinda) was probably one of the 27 CDF fires reported, although that one went to 50 acres.

What about today, Readers? Ab.
10/26 What happens to all the horses and dogs and cats when a big fire comes?

Amy

Amy, families are evacuating their pets and animals. When the fire threatens, the authorities (sometimes the law, sometimes firefighters and sometimes other authorities) go around announcing that people should evacuate. Sometimes they announce by loud speaker, sometimes they knock on doors. Residents have been watching and waiting to find out when they should go. They gather up their pets, many put them in pet carriers and put them in their cars or trucks along with family members.

Ranchers and people with horses often get notice early so they can move their big animals out of harm's way. Some businesses with extra trailers loan them to people who don't have enough. People share. People help. Amy, don't worry about the animals. The authorities, families and the firefighters will do the best they can to protect them.

It is important for you to follow the adults' directions. If you follow directions, you can help us all. Children do not go back for pets. Let the adults, especially the firefighters and other authorities make the decisions about what is safe. Sometimes pets who get left behind find a safe place to survive a fire. It will all turn out OK in the end.

Hang in there Amy. When we're done with this current bunch of bad fires, read up and plan with your family for what you can do to make your home fire safe and what you can do to be ready in case you have to evacuate. Ask your teacher to let you study it in school. I am sure many kids could learn alot about how to BE PREPARED. Good motto.

Ab.
10/26 My husband is down on the fires in So. Cal. I think it is much more nerve
wracking when I can watch the whole thing on T.V. I'll turn it off for awhile
and then I'm in shock when I turn it on again and see how much bigger it's
gotten and how many other fires have started. I feel so sad for everyone
who has lost their homes, but also kind of mad at all those people who don't
have clearances around their home, have wood shake roofs, etc.. I guess
they think that a fire will never get near them or something. It boggles
my mind for sure??.

-Cat
10/26 Pictures, fantastic, I've never seen such great shots! I'm an old NC State Forest Ranger & O-1 spotter pilot and my blood is is rising!! Maybe you might want some free labor!

The 5 & 10 ton AWD Military 3 axle dual fuel trucks, make super water tankers. D.O.D gives them to Fire Departments here in NC plus civilians buy them on bid.

Tommy

Welcome Tommy. Ah, the enthusiasm of a first-time poster. Ab.
10/26 From Firescribe, Fire Maps & Satellite Images:

NIFC's Large Fire Map

Geomac: http://geomac.usgs.gov/#
Click on wildfire mapping then you can jump to the fire of interest by
selecting it in the top right window.

NOAA 1 Km Visible Satellite Loop - S. Cal
Takes a moment to load, but look at those animated columns!
10/26 Ab, some info on who provides the web incident information.

For those who are interested, the CDF website says the following:

"The agency with jurisdiction is the lead and has command over all aspects of the incident. That includes the lead on disseminating information concerning the incident, including fire information phone numbers and media interviews. That also includes Incident websites."

It is my understanding that if a county or a federal agency has the "lead" on a fire with unified command, the info won't be posted on the cdf website, but cdf's incident site will link to the incident website of the lead agency. If the county (Ventura Co, LA Co, etc) doesn't have one and arrangements haven't been made, oh well....

CDF Sue

10/26 Was there an OES engine working near Lytle Creek (Grand Prix Fire)
that got burned over? I'm hearing that most structure firefighters have
never seen anything like this fire behavior. Also hearing some complaints
from CDFers near the fire that they're not being used because of politics.
Why not use the closest and most experienced?

SoCal FF

No one was hurt. Ab.
10/26 I have been working on a short southern CA fire list that has a link at the top of this table.
Southern California Fires

If anyone knows of an incident/information website for the Simi Incident, please let me know. The Ventura Co Fire Dept and CDF share command, but it is not reported yet at the CDF incident site. Reportedly, 47,150+ acres have burned since it began. Wow. Just found out that this "Simi Incident" was split off from the Verdale Fire. The Verdale is now designated for the fire N of hwy 126 (LA Co oversight) and the Simi Incident is S of hwy 126 (Ventura Co and CDF oversight).

There were also several new fires overnight in the San Diego area. If anyone has link information to an incident website for any of those, I'd appreciate getting them. We're getting some inquiries and comments from the Public requesting information, I am not posting them here.

I will update the acreage on these twice daily and report any additional good links for getting information. You'd think that LA Co and Ventura Co would have sites where live information was available for such a situation as this. If they're in charge, they should be providing info to the public via all media channels.

For alerts of new fires and simple info on the incidents as they impact firefighters, check the South Ops News and Notes site.

Ab.
10/26 To the public reading here:

I can recommend a good book for preparing for the unthinkable.
Living with Wildfires: Prevention, Preparation and Recovery
by Janet C. Arrowood
Excellent.

Tahoe Terrie

I agree, a good book. A little late for some people caught up in it. Perhaps others will take heed. Ab.
10/26 Santa Ana Winds:

Long time lurker here...worked on the Roblar 2 fire.
STAY SAFE!!!
Do I need to say more? Oh yeah...
STAY SAFE!!!

TV
10/26 0600 Update on the OLD FIRE burning at the north end of the city of San Bernardino (from the 209): Walker's Type II Incident Management Team is on it.

12,000 acres estimated burned
5% contained
evacuations of mountain communities and San Bernardino (aka San Berdu) are continuing and we're trying to prevent the spread into north San Berdu
Two stress-related deaths of elderly people have been reported.

Communities at risk
within 12 hours: Crest Forest, Rim Forest, Running Springs, Highland and Sky Forest;
within 24 hours: Lake Arrowhead, Blue Jay and Cedar Glen
within 48 hours: Green Valley Lake and Arrowbear

Residences at risk= 24,000, damaged= 7, estimated destroyed= 200
Commercial Property at risk= 500, estimated destroyed= 10

Current Weather Conditions
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Temperature: 75
Wind Direction: NNE
Relative Humidity: 14

Weather Conditions Tomorrow
Wind Speed: 50 mph
Temperature: 100
Wind Direction: NNE
Relative Humidity: 8-14
Foehn winds or Santa Anas, combined with heavy fuel about says it all.
If the winds shift, fire could be driven toward communities with drought and disease stressed timber intermixed with thousands of homes.

Resources on the fire:
Crews: (SR=Single Resource, ST= Strike Team)
3 state SR Type 1 crews, 7 state ST Type 1 crews
2 fed SR Type 2 crews
Helos:
2 Type 1
6 Type 2
1 Type 3
Engines:
9 USFS SR, 4 USFS ST
5 state SR, 3 state ST
4 BLM SR
5 county SR, 4 county ST
7 other SR, 15 other ST
Dozers:
1 state, 3 private
Water Tenders:
2 USFS
13 Private
5 Other
171 Overhead
Air Resources:
7 Airtankers
2 Trkco
Total= 917

SoCal CDF

10/25 I hope they are getting people out from in front of the fire, the winds
are supposed to continue all night and go to 50 mph tonight after 11 PM.
Today some were clocked at 43 mph. The Red Flag Warning extends
through Sunday.

Be safe everyone,
JJ
10/25 The media finally got some info out on the Old Fire.

SantaMariaTimes.com

WashingtonPost.com

The new fire was in the same area as a 1980 arson that killed four, destroyed 325 homes and scorched more than 23,600 acres of forest and brush land.

Grim conditions in a land that has historically had many wind-driven fires.

Todd

10/25 Any one heard anything about a new fire in Butte (Feather Falls)?

Wondering

BTU. Ab.
10/25 From Firescribe:

Red Flag Warnings Across the West

Map of Old Waterman Canyon and Hwy 18 near San Bernardino and Lake Arrowhead

"Old Fire" Incident Page
(but we have more info here at the moment)

On the Fire News page, Ab posted a new category under current events so you can find the latest media info on the San Berdu fires.

10/25 We're evacuating the north end of the city of San Bernardino down to 40th Street. The OLD Fire, which started in Waterman Canyon was 3000 acres as of noon today. 5000 residences and dozens of businesses are at risk. Three homes have been destroyed and an estimated 7 have been damaged.

We're having high winds, 20-25 mph and gusting higher. Fire behavior is extreme with spotting. Firefighting aircraft are unable to operate due to the weather conditions.

SoCal FF
10/25 Does anyone have details on the arsonist(s) who is supposed to have started the Old Fire? The CHP site says there was someone(s) in a grey van who started at the bottom and were throwing lit matches out into the brush as they drove up Old Waterman Canyon Road. Crazy. Hope they catch the b@stards.

JG
10/25 Studebaker's Type 1 Team is transitioning in on the Grand Prix Fire (BNF) this evening. If you've watched the evening news you've all seen the extreme fire behavior accompanying the Santa Anas.

Walkers T2 IMT was ordered for the Waterman Cyn fire (BNF) and structure protection is arriving on scene. At least one structure has already been reported as burned.

The Roblar 2 Fire at Camp Pendleton (San Diego Co.) is bracing for a test of containment lines along the E/NE flanks (De Luz Canyon). Historic wind /fire patterns indicate potential for aggressive fire movement into canyon during these events.

Be Safe. The Santa Anas are upon us.
NorCal Tom reporting from SoCal
10/25 I made a call to find out about the helicopter and helitack relationship mentioned in Young Buck's post below.

The word is that there's a breaking fire in Waterman's Canyon on the San Bernardino National Forest. It's called the Old Fire.

With the Santa Ana winds, the powers that be are saying this is likely to be the "big one". Pilots flying over the fire are saying it's blowing and going uphill like a sun of a gun.

We all know the level of dead fuels from bark beetles, the density of the interface, and the limited ingress and egress there.

Check the South Ops Intel, News and Notes for timely updates.

You can follow the CHP scan at cad.chp.ca.gov . If you click on Quick Search and then Fire, then look for the "Arrowhead" location, you can have up to the moment info from one perspective.

Firefighters, please be safe! No home is worth risking your life, even if it is worth a million or two. Know your safety zones and escape routes at all times.

Ab.

10/25 Onelick,

This morning (yesterday) at the Ben Clark Training Center in Riverside (CDF/County training) I heard that parts of Rancho Cuco had mando evacs in place. Also, looks as if the winds were in favor of a good burnout this morning, but couldn't get a confirmation on that one. If I was your sister, I'd head for SD for the weekend. Santa Ana's are expected to be around until Sunday (Friday's forecast)

AZ Trailblazer
10/25 A friend who works for the Forest Service told me that the helicopter that got
burned over was being used by Eldorado's Big Hill helitack (crew 516).

-- Young buck

Ab has confirmed this.
10/24 The Helicopter burning up in so cal is BS and it was a 214 H516 it
just burnt around it. the ship took some heat it bubbled the paint and
delaminated the blades and melted the windows thats it. A few bucks
and back in service.

Flameboy
10/24 Misery Whip,

Here's a link to the story about the helicopter getting caught in the fire. Apparently it didn't burn up, but came close. There's also a video clip on cnn.com but I couldn't get my computer to play the clip.

www.bayarea.com

Heligroupie
10/24 Anybody know about a helicopter burning up today on a fire in south
Colliefornyuh? I just caught a few seconds of CNN news footage that
appeared to be a wall of fire overrunning a medium Bell, possibly 212,
helicopter. The narrator said that they had to land for a mechanical
problem and that the pilot & flight crew escaped. Looked gnarly.

The Grand Prix Fire appears to be aptly named. Off to the races. The Beast
is loose in South Zone again. Heads up you guys, hope they didn't lay off
too many CDFers.

Misery Whip

10/24 Hello everyone,

I need some help from someone around the Grand Prix fire. My sister lives
in Rancho Cucamonga and has a 1 month old infant. She called me up tonight
(east coast time) and asked my opinion on whether she should pack up the
kids and head for San Diego. I was wondering if anyone knew the how the air
quality is there and how long the Santa Ana winds are forecasted to last.
Any info would greatly be appreciated to ease her older brother's mind and
also our mother's.

SoCalCapt, stay safe, we're wishing we were there to help, since this one is
on your district.

Thanks,
Onelick
10/24 Ab,

Came across this article. Thought it would be of interest to readers.
www.montanaforum.com

Heligroupie
10/23 AL & TC,

Hope you don't mind me adding to your posts about the Helo classes. I am in no way an expert on the subject, just a spouse of a helitack member. I think the reordering of helo classifications sounds like a good idea.

I thought I'd throw this in for good measure...in addition to different helos in different classifications (Type I, Type II, Type III), one might have to consider whether the helo was an "exclusive use" ship or a "come when called". Also I know there are some ships assigned to a specific forest (ones that don't travel during the fire season).

My SO's Type II helo carries with it a team of 12 firefighters in addition to the ship. They provide support for the hand crews (such as transporting crews and supplies), provide IA, medivac, and help build fireline in addition to waterdrops. I put this out there because I think just re-classifying the helos themselves would not be very helpful. I feel one would need to consider what kind of support crew is attached to the helo also (ie, flight crew only, # of FF with ship, are they rappellers?).

Like I said before, I'm certainly no expert, but it seems to me that many of these helos and their crews are specialized (such as rappellers). I would think it would be helpful to the IMT on the fire to know what they were getting with the ship. Maybe they already do know. I can't answer that. Perhaps an experienced aviation FF would be come out of hiding and answer this questions.

Heligroupie
10/22 I applaud "DM"s comments about the excuses managers give for bad decisions. It never ceases to amaze me that the knee jerk and EASY reaction to a wildland fire is to throw the world at it, no matter what the cost (monetarily and human), and no matter it's location on the landscape. It is very easy to jump on fires like that. As a firefighting machine, all of the agencies have become very successful stopping fires by throwing the world at them, thats what we've done for a long time and it has worked. But as we all know, it is getting harder and harder to stop some of these fires, because we HAVE been so successful in the past. It's the same story over and over, "a century of fire suppression has created unnaturally high fuel loads which make for higher intensity fires which are harder to suppress".

It is a lot of hard work to "MANAGE" a fire, whether it is a Wildland Fire Use fire or suppression. It is so much easier to just go put it out. By doing so in many cases is just postponing the inevitable. We are just leaving our problem for the next person that takes our job. (Yes-- I know we will always have to aggressively suppress some fires). But really managing the fire with long term objectives in mind is what we should all be thinking. Mechanical treatments and prescribed fire will only take us so far. It may be cliché, but we really need to fight (manage) fire smarter, not harder.

ML from CA

10/22 Ab,

I just read the article below after just having read the inquiry from
the librarian seeking Native American Fire Crews as a "hook" to
catch students' interest. Look over the article and see if this might
help her.

www.montanafires.com/headline/firecrew.php?id=5

Cog

Thanks Cog. Ab.
10/22 TC, thanks for the reply.

By capability, do you mean performance -- like real time load-carrying capacity?

Are the Aviation and Contracting folks "having a fit" over meeting helo needs in a cost efficient way? or over some new proposed helicopter typing system? If it is a better system that relates cost to helo performance, that only seems logical to me.

AL
10/22 Ab, how do I post a question?

What makes a helicopter a Type 1, 2, or 3 anyways? I know bigger is the smaller number. Is there a website that tells the criteria for each category?

How does somebody get involved in training for helicopter work? Do you need to do the Academy first?

Groundpounder, no longer a newbie...

That's right Groundpounder, just send an email to Ab and we'll post it. Ab.

10/22 AL, interesting you should ask this.... I'm not a Helo type, but I do know
some of the answers to your questions (or at least I think I do)...........
You asked:

Are some classes of helos more efficient than the other classes at
high altitudes or do all classes perform the same? Maybe lighter
helos like the Type IIs and Type Is do better at high altitudes.

Ans: Not only classes are different at high elevations, but differences
between models of the same class, can have major differences, and
some type II's will out perform some type I's.

Do some helos within a class perform better or worse than others at
high altitude?

Ans: YES

Do all heavies have an equally bad bad track record with high
altitude and heat (if they do?) or are some known to perform much
better... or much worse... than the rest of the pack?

Ans: Not all have a bad track record, and some are better and worse than
others........

Are the best helos for the conditions and tactical needs used
first, or is it just pot luck? Order the class and get any helo in
that class?

Ans: Potluck

Aerial support - helos and ATs - are the biggest expenses on fires. Those
various big helos cost a bundle per diem.

Comment: I heard that R5 recently made a proposal to Boise to modify typing of type I
Helo's, based their actual capability. The Aviation and Contracting folks
there have a fit over it........

TC

10/22 In response to Elizabeth Parker's inquiry, here is a list of phone numbers
of the dispatch offices from several BIA agencies in Arizona that may be
helpful to her. I am not aware of an all female crew from the Navajo
Agency, but understand that there was one in Fort Apache several years
back. I am unsure if they are still together, though.

<snipped the phone numbers>

Hope this helps!

Dini
Coconino NF Dispatcher

We sent the phone numbers on to Elizabeth. Thanks, Dini. Ab.
10/22 If anyone is interested, here's more info on Fuels Reorganization in R5. It has been sent in by several posters. The "proposal" is to move fuels into vegetation management. The ppt was created by the RO of R5 at the request of the Regional Forester and has already been widely shared within R5.

The powerpoint presentation is entitled Integrated Regional Vegetation Management Organization. (about 140 K in size)

Ab.

10/22 Ab,

Does anyone know how the Type I helos handle the high, hot and heavy conditions present on some fires? What happens when they get sent to fires in the hot high desert or in the mountains? They're qualified to carry a certain size payload under some standard conditions, but as the conditions change to higher and hotter, the payload has to get lighter, right? That means more trips back and forth to get the same job done - whether ferrying crew or making bucket drops? Are helos matched to the fire conditions and dispatched to minimize the costs for the job? Or does air ops just order a Type I and take pot luck?

Hmmm, to put them in some logical order, I guess I'd like to know the following:

  • Are some classes of helos more efficient than the other classes at high altitudes or do all classes perform the same? Maybe lighter helos like the Type IIs and Type Is do better at high altitudes.
  • Do some helos within a class perform better or worse than others at high altitude?
  • Do all heavies have an equally bad bad track record with high altitude and heat (if they do?) or are some known to perform much better... or much worse... than the rest of the pack?
  • Are the best helos for the conditions and tactical needs used first, or is it just pot luck? Order the class and get any helo in that class?

Aerial support - helos and ATs - are the biggest expenses on fires. Those various big helos cost a bundle per diem.

Guess I've wondered for a while about whether helo resources are matched not only the mission but also to the altitude/heat... ever since the ACE (Aviation Conference & Education) training last year when groups of us had to evaluate situations and make recommendations to mitigate potential problems with high, hot and heavy scenarios. Fascinating films of helo crashes, the interactions and conditions leading up to them. We had some real hands on learning as we brainstormed how to make conditions safer. Thinking through the 10 and 18 in that application was a good way to organize thinking...It's great how that kind of training sticks in your mind.

For those who haven't taken advantage of the Interagency Aviation Training available through OAS, it is excellent. I've also heard great reports on the TEAM training.

AL

Ab, please add. I don't mean to say that helo crashes and the injuries are fascinating, they are tragic. But it is interesting to evaluate a real-life situation with videotaped interactions between pilot/copilot and ground forces, etc and to learn all the details and to put my thinker to work in a lessons learned capacity.

10/22 The Jobs Page and the Wildland Firefighter Series GS-0462 (Forestry Technician) & GS-0455 (Range Technician) are updated.

UNION IHC is looking for an Assistant Superintendent and Squadleader. Check out the outreach notice; also put links on the jobs page. Ab.
10/22 Our school program is building a unit to introduce young children (K-8) to
various topics in ecology & appropriate technologies. Because many children
that age are fascinated by American Indians, this is the "hook" we plan to
use. I would like to include fire education in the unit, but I need the
"hook" -- I have seen a few references to Native American firefighting
groups, but have only found the name of one ("Chief Mountain Hotshots"). I
understand there is a Navajo group of female firefighters, which might
especially intrigue the girls in our classes. Can you provide the names
and/or website addresses of any of these groups?

Many thanks,
Elizabeth Parker
Librarian, Southern Institute For Appropriate Technology

Readers, I'd be happy to pass on any information. Thanks.
Elizabeth, let me suggest our Wildfire Education Links as a resource as well. Ab.
10/22 From Firescribe:

LOOK, a page on engine crews. Can you believe it? BooYah!

www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/enginecrews/index.phpl

The pages linked to need a little help, but it's great the site exists. Ab.

10/22 Ab, there's a fire in the hills above Burbank.

In the hills above Burbank, a suspicious wildfire burned about 100 acres, said Dave Starr, spokesman for the Burbank Fire Department. Fire officials expected to have the blaze contained Wednesday.

CNN reports

Thanks firefighters.
Resident

PS AB, please add this link. There is a slideshow of photos that you can access from here that are low quality but fast loading, that show the 4 fires including the one in Burbank. Click on Southland Fires. www.nbc4.tv/news

Check the Fire News page, Brush Fire, for the most recent information from the media. Ab.

10/22 Morning update on the SoCal fires.
  • Verdugo Hills on the Angeles National Forest. No details known. (I am told there is no 209 report on this one, anyone know anything? Is it contained? Ab.)
  • Grand Prix Fire 2,443 acres at 0600 hours. The fire is located near Shetland and Fontana, San Bernardino County. Rapid rate of spread and 100' flame lengths, spotting and torching. Dense old growth chaparral, spotting & extreme fire behavior. Of concern are a thousand homes and three high voltage power lines which provide up to 25% of power to the LA Basin. There's an essential public safety communication site on San Servaine Mountain. Dietrick's T2 Team is assigned.
  • Pass Fire, 850 acres at 0110 hours with rapid ROS in steep inaccessible terrain. The fire is located on RUU in Reche Canyon north of Moreno Valley. Numerous homes are located through out the fire area. Hundreds of homes will be at risk within the next 12 hours. Last night there were150+ people voluntarily evacuated. Now there is mandatory evacuation in Pigeon Pass area. 7 homes destroyed, 3 damaged. 792 personnel fighting the fire. 6 AirTankers. CDF managing.
  • Roblar 2 Fire 800 acres at 0600. Camp Pendleton. Burning erratically and demonstrating extreme fire behavior including rapid runs, fire whirls and spotting in 6' tall chaparral and steep terrain. If fire establishes itself in De Luz Canyon, the community of De Luz will be at risk. Ordnance presents a problem in creating an anchor point to prevent fire escape to the N/NW. 224 personnel. 2 HeliTk, 7 AirTankers. Domanski's T2 Team is assigned.

Another SoCal Firefighter

10/21 There are 4 new fires in Southern CA.
  • Verdugo Hills on the Angeles National Forest. No details known.
  • Grand Prix Fire in the Etivanda Area of San Bernardino NF, 825 acres at 1840 hours. Rapid rate of spread and 100' flame lengths. Dietrick's T2 Team has been called up.
  • Pass Fire, RRU, Reche Canyon on the border of Riverside and San Bernardino. Fire is burning with rapid rate of spread in 6'chapparal and is reported at 125 acres at 1815. 150+ people have been voluntarily evacuated. 7 homes destroyed, 3 damaged.
  • Roblar 2 Fire Camp Pendleton, Range 49. Burning erratically in 6' tall chaparral in steep terrain. More than 600 acres in size at 1700. Domanski's T2 Team has been mobilized.

SoCal CDF

10/21 Regarding Fuels reorganization in R5:

The Salmon-Challis NF (R4) combined timber and fuels last winter and some are trying to call it "vegetation management." Supposedly we are saving money by integrating the functions because we still have all these timber folks without the traditional volume of sales. The timing was too perfect for the move to not be associated with the HFI. I find it strange that a forest in Region 4 actually makes a maneuver like this before R5. I'll leave it at that . . .

XR5
10/21 Ab and Mellie,

I have been lurking about and found Mellie's post in regards to FSEEE's lawsuit.

Mellie, I am not a member of that org', but I do keep tabs on what they are up to from time to time. (I used to have a subscription to their New Letter).

There was a note about the current suit circulating on FS mail systems along with a few terse comments "poo pooing" the whole idea. That is to be expected, but is also unfortunate. I have to agree with TC, in that we have never done a very good job in analyzing fire potential and making sound strategic decisions that would lead us to a truly "appropriate suppression response." (Boy do I sound like a policy wonk or what?)

As an astute observer of fire behavior, Rx and wildland, and an analyst/number cruncher/data nerd/purveyor of probabilities, I have been frustrated for sometime at those managers who, in spite of the obvious, continue to throw people and money at fires rather than assume any level of risk to intelligently assess and manage an incident. Here is a sampling of common excuses:
  • -We had to do something
  • -The fire was up and running
  • -The fire could blow up at any time
  • -It could dry out again
  • -If we demob them, we may not be able to get them back
  • -There were structures being threatened
  • -We had to stop it before it got to that road
  • -We did not want it to get into the wilderness or roadless area
  • (I am sure the readers could provide some of their personal fav's to this list.)

I should write a book and call it "Good Excuses to Cover Up Stupid Decisions"

I must give credit to those managers that are using fire and managing suppression efforts intelligently, but they are a T&E species in a fire control oriented system.

The Ten Standard Firefighting Orders apply not only to line operations, but to everyone else and I can attest to the fact that those orders are violated more often off the fireline than on.

Currently our strategic and tactical models seem to work, but barely and at great cost. The fire behavior environment has changed significantly and the continued reliance on unlimited dollars and large numbers of our young firefighters will ultimately fail. We have certainly seen the indicators of that in the past few years.

So let's keep an eye on the FSEEE as it should be most interesting to see where it all goes.

DM

One way to reduce the cost of large fires is to pick them up on IA or EA, similar to our goal in past years that has led to our current fuel buildup. A model that helps managers decide the maximum drawdown of resources during fire season (or during a particular period of heightened fire danger) would go a long way to reducing large fire costs by reducing the number of large fires. This is the kind of model that has grown out of the R5 study of resources and responses during the norcal lightning event of fall 2003. Of course, hand in hand with this "catch them when they're small" goal is the need to reduce fuels under controlled conditions via manual fuel treatment or Rx burns. And therein lies the problem, as some of the environmental movement wants us to do neither or as little as is humanly possible. Ab.

10/21 I was on the Canoe fire for a while. Just curios if they decided to burn out
the fuel next to the Eel river. We brought fire down to Meyers Flat but had
a large portion unburned to the North near Weott. Did they let it naturally
progress or help it with SIDS? Anybody know?

Thanks
CDF FF
10/21 SITL - As far as I know, the reorganization is just for R-5 at this time
and only at the Regional Office level, although I'm sure it will filter
down to the Forests once put into place.

Ex-ecc1 - To say that fuels personnel are there because they could not meet
requirements in Suppression, I would think be very limited. For one thing
in order to keep up fuels management qualifications, you need to also keep
up your suppression quals. I'm sure there are a few fuels folks that only
do planning, but those are far and few between. Most fuels BC's also
double as suppression BC's covering days off, and for folks gone on fire
assignments.

TC

(TC, Ab is checking on your request.)
10/21 Hi Abs

I read TC's comment about proposed changes in fuels management in R5.
I found it thought provoking.

Is the proposed change USFS wide or only Regional? And is it perhaps in
response to the legislation generated by HFI, which seems to be looking for
a better integrated way of managing both timber (with all its associated
forest benefits) and fire?

SITL
10/21 Re: a post saying: "Most of the fuels BC's with fuels responsibilities I know have already said, they'd move over into full suppression jobs if this happens".

I say, it sounds easy enough, but then again, most of the fuels personnel I know have moved into fuels because they can't meet the requirements for the fire BC positions and want to keep their firefighter retirement.

I won't say it's always a one way street, but in many cases it may be.

Ex-ecc1
10/21 I’m quite flattered, Sammi, by your request…I’ll do my best to try and answer your questions. A caveat; my crew is not ideal. There are many things we do that probably won’t work for other crews, and many things we do that probably wouldn’t fly in the more PC dependent worlds of federal and state FF services. We’re volunteers; first and foremost we’re there because we want to be, not to make a living. We’ve had folks quit; that’s too bad…but everybody who finished out the season with us is coming back next year.

How do your leaders earn the respect from the crews? Well, it really comes down to personalities. Our bosses are there when we arrive and there after we leave, they play with us, and, to my mind most importantly, nothing is done because “that’s the way you do it”…it’s done that way for a reason. On our first day of training, our crewboss and squad bosses stood up and told the whole crew that if, for any reason, under whatever circumstances, we ever had to even go to a safety zone, they would each take a punch from each of us, because it would be their screw up. Would we ever follow through on that promise? I don’t think so…but the fact that they took our safety that personally meant a lot. Another thing is that they have never, ever, tried to lead us by fear. The only real punishment on our crew is not being invited to come play again. We also have a very, very strict zero tolerance policy. Forget even thinking about alcohol while with the crew…if the crew boss even hears about you being seen with alcohol while wearing your crew T-shirt, you’re off the crew.

How do they get the crew to follow and carry thru with the safety of the team? Hmmm. That’s a tough one to make general comments on, because we are all structure FF as well as wildland. We were trained up in the structure school of PPE, so first of all we take that very, very seriously. Walking away from a piece of PPE, anything gets you twenty push-ups on the spot, plus a lot of good natured ribbing from your crewmates. We also operate very much on the buddy system, because we’re structure folks…you watch your buddy’s back and your buddy watches yours, and if the crewboss or assistant crew boss catches a safety hazard you didn’t, you both get push-ups. It’s not demeaning, it’s not an insult to your competence…it’s a reminder not to do it again. As far as watching for the safety of the whole team…we take weathers every hour, at a minimum, and the “weather witch” always takes a good look around…effectively doubles our lookout. We also have a disproportionately high number of radios, and even though nobody but the lookout, the crewboss, and the squadbosses talk (and only the crewboss talks to command), everybody listens. Hmm…we also have three EMT-Is, and five EMT-Bs on an eighteen-person crew, along with some more exotic certifications (rope rescue, Wilderness EMT, C-faller) so we’re pretty conscious about how folks could get hurt in a given situation. We also work in some truly bad*ss terrain…nobody wants to be a stretcher bearer in the stuff we work in, so it’s in everybody’s best interest that nobody gets hurt. Crew communication is ever an always the key…you spot a hazard, you sing out, loud and clear.

What is the behind the "leaders" backs whispers about? (laughing) No whispers; we’ll say anything to anybody, to their face. As I said in a previous post, we have a terminally smart*ss crew…and I love it. We’ve had some very spirited discussions, but as far as I know, nothing has ever been said behind anybody’s back…it’s all been right up front, out in the open, and usually in front of the crew. We’ve had borrowed folks from other crews ask how in world we’d dare to, say, call our crewboss “Twinkle Toes” or “Doughnut Middle”. We had a crew dinner with SOs and everything (dressed up, nice restaurant) a while back, and it was the most depressing thing ever, because everybody was on their best behavior…nobody wanted to slip and use some of our more-off color nick-names in front of the girlfriends.

Does everyone seem to be able to carry through with the safety lessons they are taught and how does the crew not get complacent? I think a major contributor to our crew not getting complacent is that we are an initial attack crew in some very harsh terrain…our assignments are almost never more than about ten or twenty hours, portal-to-portal, and we are almost always working where the dangers are very obvious. We have no boring fires; we have no normal fires. Every fire is unique. Also, we have the smart*ss quotient…a ton of cocky rookies just dying to catch a more senior firefighter in a safety violation…and senior firefighters looking to get back at the rookie who caught them last. Glee on the part of catcher, shame on the part of the catchee, and frequently a new and colorful nickname. I wound up as “Michael” for a while because I’d taken one glove off to spin a weather and then walked away from it…and every time I got called that I remembered never to walk away from a glove again.

How long has this crew been together? This is our first year working together as a crew. We have better than half first-season firefighters. And the total injury count for the season was one set of blisters.

And if they see one of their own being stupid what happens? Usually it gets caught in the buddy system, but if the crewboss or a squadboss catches you, both you and your buddy do push-ups. If it’s major, word gets passed down the line, reporting near misses, and making sure EVERYBODY knows who goofed and how. That way we’re sure to learn from each other’s mistakes. We don’t goof around on the line…usually we’re chasing some crazy baby dragon up a hill and in between rocks, so we don’t have any down time while we’re actually on the fire.

How do you get to and from the fires? We have two borrowed suburbans and a truck that act as crummies, and we have two designated drivers for each. One drives, one talks. Works well for maintaining alertness. We do drive ourselves…but we make sure that the decision to drive home or spike out is made by the drivers…if they’re too tired to drive, we all sleep out. And again, absolute zero tolerance. Serious (joking) intra-crew grief has been handed out for such offenses as being rude to waitresses, not taking your hat off at the table, and looking too longingly at a beer sign. And again, nobody even drinks in crew T-shirts, let alone with the crew or on duty. It just doesn’t happen. We get back home, we change our shirts, then we may go out as a group of friends and imbibe tasty beverage (as one crewmember puts it), but we don’t drink as a crew. And we’ve still been told we’re the funnest crew in the area to work with. Go figure.

So, at rather excessive length, there’s the story…I guess if I had to put my finger on the one thing that really makes our crew special, it’s that we were told from the beginning that we’d be held to a higher standard. We were all nominated by our separate departments, we trained together, we took our physical (pack testing at 9,000 ft, plus a strength test) together, and we were told from the beginning that we were an elite, and we were going to be expected to set an example for every other crew in our area. And I think we did it. I heard once about a psychological study which determined that “self-image”, or how you viewed yourself, was a lesser motivator than “self-concept”, or how you felt others viewed you. We started out with a very positive self-concept, and I think, so far, we’ve lived up to it. I think if were told that we were expected to be cowboys, goof-offs, and slackers, that’s what we’d be…but that’s not how it happened, so I’ve got a crew I’m really proud of.

Nerd on the Fireline
10/20 Fuels reorganization in R5

While still a proposal, looks like it's going to happen in R5 (Forest
Service). Proposal is to move fuels management out from underneath Fire,
and into Natural Resource Management (veg. management or for the old timers
timber), in order to have a more integrated program. My personal feeling
is this will be the downfall of fuels management in the region. Most of
the fuels BC's with fuels responsibilities I know have already said, they'd
move over into full suppression jobs if this happens at the forest level.

TC
10/20 TC,

Speaking of analysis and modeling, wait until you see the modeling being done on R5 as part of a review the efficacy of the response to the Northern California Lightning Events of 8/31 through 9/8 and using resource availability, drawdown and MEL data going back 10 years. Its title is "Strategic Decision and Assessment Oversight Review for Northern CA Geographic Area". You may have been one of the ones interviewed and/or providing information. There are some very bright minds (including Gary Biehl) behind the model in that study. Findings, recommendations, and description of the model should be released soon. (The Action Plan will come later.)

My notes say there were 16,000+ lightning strikes on the NorCal forests that resulted in 340 fires on NF land and 451 fires on private land, 95% of which were caught on IA or EA. Amazing success rate, considering the lack of availability of regional resources on hand at the time. Kudos to all you guys and gals doing a good job. Regarding fires, this is what I wrote in my notes:

  • Shasta Trinity had 83
  • Mendo had 77
  • Tahoe had 54
  • Klamath had 41
  • Plumas had 27
  • Six Rivers had 18

That leaves 40 more fires that presumably started on the Modoc, Lassen, or Eldorado (or Lake Tahoe Basin?). Regardless, the bulk of the action was on the Shasta-Trinity and the Mendocino NFs. Stay tuned.

Mellie

10/20 Be safe out there. We're still getting starts on the NorCal coast. Eureka had an 8 acre brush and timber fire that threatened homes yesterday. CDF's AT-20 and some good CDF helicopter bucket work kept it at bay until the inmates got on the line. Good show on the evening news. Closer to home, the Canoe - Honeydew is kicking out smoke as we get winds that flame the unburned islands. (hack, hack and wheeze)

SoCal is coming up on active fire time. Follow the SouthOps Notes Page for timely updates. Bear Fire, Palm Fire, Gilliam. It's great to have that resource. Thanks to those folks for keeping us informed.

Continue to stay vigilant.
Be Safe,
Todd
10/20 Readers, this is the best I can get for a translation from the Portuguese. A young foreign study friend helped. Thanks Aaron. Ab.

Hello. I am a fireman in Portugal and I send you these photos of the 2003 fires we had there.

I liked seeing your web page a lot. It is spectacular with very good pictures. My group of all-risk, volunteer firemen also has a web page: www.bombeirosdealhandra.com. I wanted to send you the pictures so you can see how we operate and fight fire in Portugal in the summer. I include a photo of the helicopter we use for transporting equipment. I am to the left of the picture.

Excuse me that I write in Portuguese but my English is very weak.
"An embrace." Toze pina. (parting salutation, idioms)
The Volunteer Firemen of Alhandra

Readers, if you get a ! message in Portuguese upon opening their web page, just click the x in the upper right hand corner and the page loads just fine. Do not click OK unless you want to download a javascript applet.

I put the photos on the Fire 20 and the Helicopters 12 and Engines 8 photo pages. There are 16 photos in all, many of big flames and bucket drops. Looks a lot like southern CA. Ab.

10/20 Abercrombie: (applause) Your post was exactly on the money…let’s be sure we encourage “achievements and noble qualities” rather than a belief in “mythical or legendary figures”. I have my very human heroes, just as you do, but I don’t want my crewmates thinking they’re of “divine descent” just because the chick at Walmart told them so (smiling). It’s hard enough keeping my wit sharp enough to poke holes in their over-inflated egos as it is (not to imply that I don’t love ‘em).

Regarding the BLM flap: Sounds to me like not much really happened…the media got in their and the gov did a lousy job of making sure there wasn’t anything for them report. Sounds to me like one boss went a bit over the top and got somebody’s nose out of joint, then it just snowballed. Sympathy to all involved. (What’s wrong with punitive push-ups, anyway? Good learning process)

Nerd on the Fireline
10/20 Somebody said at the end of a post. . ."while you older experienced people lose your enthusiasm and enjoyment of the job".

Now that's a little presumptuous isn't it? Only the newly hired are enjoying their jobs or have enthusiasm? I'm not sure where your information is gathered, but it certainly isn't here, nor from the same neck 'o the woods I am, and I certainly don't agree with your opinion. I'm thinking you and the rest of your local xenophobics (xenophobic means fear of strangers) need to review the Constitution of the United States of America. Please try and remember, this is a "free" country and there is a freedom of speech. Free speech means not only that you may say what you like, but that you will defend the right of the others to do the same. Regardless of where their vehicle license plate is from or how they talk. I know it's a free country, I spent four years of my life in the military helping keep it that way. All citizens have the right to and do move across State lines.

I've over 30 years of public service in all. I've enjoyed all of them and am still "enthused". I question your right to denounce me and all the other older firefighters across the nation. How many years have you served your country as a public servant? Or in what other capacity have you promoted the health and welfare of our nation?

I hope this does you good to see how I personally viewed your post. Walk in some more moccasins before you try and tell me how I'm acting or feeling.

Old and Grumpy, but not Apathetic or Bored.
10/20 Just stumbled across the http://www.wildlandfire.com web site.

If you are interested, there are lots of photos related to the
Riverside/SanDiego County Coyote Fire from earlier this year at
http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/Photos/20030717/ and at
http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/Photos/20030719/ They go with the
http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/news/030725.phpl article.

http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/news/030716.phpl may be interesting as well.

Not totally related is http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/Photos/20020807/ but
incidentally has lots of photos of the Ramona CDF Air Attack Base
during the Pines Fire in 2002.

Hans-Werner

Thanks, Hans-Werner. Readers, these are some big pages of photos. Might take some time for those of you with slow download capabilities. Ab.
10/20 Well, now that I have waited long enough to see there are several more people "men?" here who also have "emotions" I feel like I am in rather elite club and hope you "guys" will not kick me out. And like I said recently, we do get a lot of reading the same issues re-visited over and over but that is a good thing because everytime we learn a different perspective from the last. And one day we will be reading about really good changes being made.

I am so impressed with Nerd's knowledge and insight on several of the topic's that have been showing up. She writes her opinions and thought's superbly. In a very readable format that is not at all like a manual but we get the point. At least I do.

I would like to ask her to expand her writings on how her crew handles the safety issues. How do your leaders earn the respect from the crews? How do they get the crew to follow and carry thru with the safety of the team? What is the behind the "leaders" backs whispers about? Does everyone seem to be able to carry through with the safety lessons they are taught and how does the crew not get complacent? How long has this crew been together? And if they see one of their own being stupid what happens? How do you get to and from the fires? thx sammi
10/20 Nerd, good post, well spoken.

Firepup, if you personally saw something wrong, you should at least file a SAFENET.

We are all our brothers’ keepers, be they Volunteer, State, Fed, BIA or Contract.

Stay safe,
C64
10/20 Abercrombie,

I applaud your comments. I don't use the word hero, I choose to use the word mentor. I look up to one of my former Captains that I had a few years ago. He taught me hard work, lead by example, learn from the past, and most of all safety is number one.

He told me about a book that I should read to help me out in my leadership skills. This book is called "Shackleton's Way" and it has a lot of great things about being a good leader and how to treat and get along with your fellow employee.

To this day, I still admire and look up to this person. He has had a big impact on my career. If I have any questions about my position or need advice in handling a personnel issue, he is the first person that I call.

I would always pay attention to the little details and things that he did while he was my Captain. I made a mental note on how he acted and carried himself in the public and work place.

While my engine was at our annual fire school this year, some of my employee's commented to him on how similar our leadership skills are. He told them something I will never forget, "The apple doesn't fall to far from the tree."

It is unbelievable on how true that statement really is. I can only hope to be half the leader he is. I too think everyone should find a mentor or whatever you want to call them. It has helped me out in my career and I don't think I would be as confident in my position as I am today without his advice.

An-R5er
10/20 I'm not too surprised to view a full blown grievance against the BLM in Nevada. I suspect it's legitimate and that the same crap has been going on for generations, cept nobody complained. Some of those backwoods places don't always get the latest news and info and fail to understand that what yer daddy and gran'pa did is no longer acceptable. With the alleged sexual harassment events owning the headlines targeting R5 over the last 15-20 years and the mindless evolution of new policies, procedures and training, you all must have thought it a California or Regional problem. It ain't, and I'll bet it's coming to a place near you!

Let's watch the show as BLM Nevada finds out one or more of the victims has discovered how all those harassed firefighters in Region 5 were able to resolve all their similar issues.

This will be much more fun and last a lot longer than the world series.

F%+dling, attempted s*d*my, ur#nation, and forced feeding. Sounds almost like a Bentley Little novel.

Stay tuned, and pay attention, it won't stop in Nevada. I can't wait until the news and long arm of the monitors reaches some of them other states who are famous for not kowtowing to political correctness. Not to mention those casting a blind eye to inbreeding and nepotism.

Region 5 is NOT involved in this one! Yahooooo!

Ex-ecc1
10/19 ok, several topics here...and I know Ive been quiet for quite a while, but my buckets just too overflowin at home and work..

Axe..ya still here??? ...Mello out dude!! (or dudette) (said with a smile) Ya forgot a few...what about north zone vs. south zone (i know Im dating myself with the terminology there), this forest or region vs that forest or region, this station vs that station yadda yadda yadda. Are you forgetting this is the net? You are going to get all kinds pokin their heads in here and you have to take everything with a grain of salt as you dont have a clue as who/what it is that is spouting off about a given topic. A little competition is good to a point but the vast majority of the time when push comes to shove we all are generally on the same side on the important stuff.

Lobotomy (boy that name fits ;} and others in the know: Forgive me for I have never taken the time to look into it and see for myself. On the portal to portal pay issue, for those who have it and those who are striving for it, does it mean you are paid 24 hrs a day at your base rate or 8hr @ base rate and 16 at overtime rate?

Abercrombie...what can I say...another superb post on heroes.

..re the BLM harassment flap. I dont know what I am more disgusted by, the govt doing another sh*tty job at handling a situation or the media hyping up something for headlines. How the hell is anyone supposed to know the truth????

Later all...havin a bit of fire season here.

Pulaski
10/19 Thought you might enjoy this photo - Heli Dipping. He was working on the Tahoe Donner Fire above Donner Lake on 10/18/03.

You have some nice photos featured on your site.

Paul

Thanks, Paul. I put it on the Helicopters 12 photo page. Ab.
10/19 From Firescribe:

The ANTI-HERO,

KLAS TV Las Vegas, George Knapp, Investigative Reporter
Update: Alleged Hazing of Rookie Firefighters
Oct 17 report
Alleged Hazing of Rookie Firefighters
Oct 15 & 16 reports

Las Vegas Sun, Mary Manning reporting
BLM investigates hazing allegation

10/19 Heroes, semantics, and such. . .

While I’ve never strived to be, nor considered myself a hero, I’ve met, worked with, and known many others in the wildland fire service whom I regard as such. After reading one recent post whose author hated the idea of wildland firefighters being considered heroes, I confess I went to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary to see if we were referring to the same word. I now see we may both be correct as the other poster must be referring to the 1.a interpretation: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability, and my heroes are more in line with the 1.c version of: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities. Lest another inadvertent thread begin on the second interpretation, yes it means women too, and yes some of my heroes are female.

I’ve also met and worked with some who view themselves as being a hero of the first interpretation. The major difference as I see it is those who dare identify themselves with the first interpretation are most likely unaccompanied in their opinion. The real heroes, those identified in the second category, are perceived as such only by others and deny any such allusion.

So let me keep my heroes, none of which are of divine descent. They all remain human, plagued by some of the same foibles we all suffer. But each of them positively affected my life and my wildland fire career with their achievements or noble qualities while they inspired me to higher levels. I'm sure they continue to do so for others.

I think everyone needs at least one hero in his or her life. If you don’t have one, get one, there are still enough to go around. If you don't know of any and can't find one, ask your peers for suggestions. They may even have one they can share with you. It doesn’t matter what you or others call them; father, mother, uncle, grandmother, mentor, or boss. But how else can one critique ones own abilities, performance, and achievements unless measured against an admired and respected value?

I also still think the subtitle here on wildlandfire.com’s main page appropriate (re: “Greetings heroes”). I suggest there can be various levels of heroes. I propose all wildland firefighters sacrifice something in pursuit of their careers. Anyone who sacrifices something of value year after year after year, as they engage in such a noble profession must certainly be viewed as a hero at some level.

It’s not too surprising I like the subtitle, I wrote it.

Abercrombie
10/19 Ab,

Thanks for putting my comments on the "Docs Worth Reading" page.
A bit more regarding the CDF benefits. What really sparked my response
was not what was said here on "they said," but rather on the local TV station
last week.

They were talking about the new SRA fee ($50.2 Million) and some of the
callers were chiming in about CDF firefighters in the motels, while the
"others sleep in the dirt" routine. The take was the motel use was one of
the reasons the state is broke and the need for the fee and that it should
go before any fees are collected. Of course the radio host (Kelly Brothers
who was sitting in for Tom Sullivan) bit all the way. I never wanted to call
in to a talk show so bad and set the record straight!

You know, kind of interesting after the Canoe and Honeydew to revisit the
piece written by "FFF" in your "Docs Worth Reading ".

Thanks for the support! I'll keep chiming in from time to time-I'm glad you
guys moderate, without it-the page would be a disaster.

Another CDF BC

That was informative piece sent in by another insightful CDFer. Deja vu on large fire costs and cutting our nose off in spite of our faces when it comes to having enough resources to be able to respond at the Initial Attack and Extended Attack stages?

As far as moderating, yeah, we Abs may occasionally beach and moan about the seemingly petty "conflicts", but by-and-large contributors stick to issues and we learn as much from contributors as you all learn from each other. Ab.
10/19 There was a really good article in the Seattle Times on July 20, 2003 that lays out all the issues with bad contractors in a very logical and complete way. As a contractor myself, I wish these issues could get dealt with and encourage the COs and CORs to get on with it. Undoubtedly in R6 we need more federal supervisors to oversee the industry.

Ab, I couldn't get to the archive directly. The Seattle times requires the same sign-in that the LA Times requires. No fee, but some information. For those who sign in, do an archive search on the title, "Risky business: Growth of private fire crews worries forest officials".

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/home/

R6 FF

10/19 How R5 deals with contractors to separate the GOOD and VERY GOOD from the bad and the ugly...

Contractors were checked over as they came out of OR at the inspection station at the northern CA border this fire season. 56 crews, 30 engines... The ones that passed were welcomed, the ones that didn't pass were sent home. The thinking was "Get rid of them as soon as they are identified. Send them packing. Save taxpayer money."

The word gets out on who the BAD and the UGLY are. Over time those will have to change to meet the standard or will fall by the wayside. It would help if only those that met the standard were dispatched from the north. That's another battle.

NorCal Tom
10/19 Here we go again, the ole family feud - the annual email squabble. Private vs Feds. Yes - it's a slow fall fire season with time to spare and therefore I have time to explain about contract WL firefighters.

I don't know of many contract WL firefighters that just do it for money - CWN it's not that great of pay especially in a slow fire year. It's in the blood as with most firefighters - it's the excitement, being a team member, the help when needed, the challenge, the battle with Mother Nature, the traveling, etc., etc., and yes - the money. The "in it for money" firefighters are usually weeded out with a few days with handline work or a fuel reduction project in brushy poison oak country. The true firefighter sticks it out with a few choice words while they etch and scratch.

The "private" contract fire sector is a support arm to the feds. I realize in R-6, contractors play a major roll in WL fire fighting and have for many years. In R-5, we're a support arm to the Feds. We're up and running prior to fire season and out conducting prescribed burns and fuel reduction projects (getting in shape). After months of winter engine repairs, maintenance, and modifications, we have 24 hours of annual update, a pack test, quals to verify and document, gear to issue, equipment to inspect, and many other tasks that come standard with contracting. Many contract firefighters complete the training on weekends - without pay. Keep in mind, the USFS has not paid 1 cent for engine service and will not until we roll out of an assignment - if we roll out. There are no guarantees in this line of work.

As far as contractors being professional firefighters, not one of our ENGBs have less than 12 seasons of WL firefighting/Rx burning and have completed every course stated in 310-1 for that position. Our squad bosses are 3 season plus WL firefighters with all necessary courses under their belt. Even 80% of our FFT-2 (beginner) firefighters have not only the Basic NWCG training, but have completed the CA FF-1 training, CDF 67 hrs basic, HazMat FRO, EMS First Responder, Pro CPR and S-212. Our engines have EMTs, BLS med kits, HazMat personnel, Class B Sawyers, GPS, weather kits, and many other items to make ourselves useful to the incident. All of our ENGBs and Squad Bosses have spent time on Type 2 handcrews, so when given the chance of gridding off an area - we're right at home. Our crews have as much experience on handcrews as engines crews. We'll work along side, behind or lead in qualified positions when asked - and the hourly rate stays the same. Do we have problems?, yes, now and then. We are human and FF are spirited people and we deal with it. However, and if necessary, it is very simple for the Feds to get read of the contract engine, it's called DEMOB. The cost for USFS stops there.

It is a fact that many beginner firefighters use contract fire as a stepping stone for hire with USFS or CDF. Gain a few years experience in contract WL fire and Rx burning and then bye-bye. We don't mind that - because we enjoy working side by side with our old employees while they're on the BIG Green or Red engines. Keep up the good work Feds - this contract firefighter is happy in the support role.

SGB
10/19 HEY FOLKS I am putting together a list of firefighters and their quals for next year. looking to get the list out to all contractors and fed, state groups that need them.. looking to keep folks working and engines and crews staffed.. let me know if you want on the list our want a copy of it. thanks NCBrush6

Ab will pass any messages on.
10/19 Sometimes it does us good to see how others see us. I know I think I am doing everything just fine and someone comes along and pushes my ego out from under me and I see I need to adjust my attitude etc.

I live in an area that has so many people moved in from "that state" the poor newbie's are scarred to say where they are from. It has been so bad in the past there was bumper stickers with insults, editorials slamming them. (and a lot of them did deserve it because of their haughty better than thou attitude) Lots of very negative behavior on both sides. And I admit I don't like them cutting ALL the trees down to put in concrete but it's their land.

But, crews that show up on a fire and strut their stuff and mouth off about the big pay and the slick accommodations and their out of sight benefits. (yes it happened in Montana this year) Not to mention their unbelievable asinine behavior toward the other crews not from their state sure leaves a bad taste in the mouth and it is hard to forget. (and NO I did not say they ALL act that way. But it is hard to separate the good from the bad when they all wear the same logo)

This battle between contractors and non-contract folks will settle. I know someone will correct me if mistaken (never wrong) but the tremendous influx of contractors on fires is fairly new. I know there have been support contractors but I am talking FF and FF equipment. And it did seem the dispatch centers were being way more diligent at inspections and legit trained FF this year.

Isn't there room for everyone? Looks like we need to have a good look at how to get a handle on this and get started working out some of the kinks. Agency people are afraid of losing jobs and contractors are afraid of not making the truck note. And the young people are just ecstatic to be in a crew digging line, making pennies, while you older experienced people lose your enthusiasm and enjoyment of the job. sammi
10/18 Lobotomy and SoCal Capt and whoever else is watching the thread on the multiple firefighter series in the OPM classification,

Here's another firefighter series to add to the list -- GS-2181. (and I understand that GS-2101 - Transportation Specialist, specifically Flight Management specialist for fire aircraft - can also be an aviation wildland firefighter series as well, although there are no jobs being flown <chuckle> under that one at the moment.

Some excerpts from the announcement to prove my point.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ANNOUNCEMENT: R4-RO-FAA-088-03G Rev1
OPENING DATE: 9/29/2003
CLOSING DATE: 10/27/2003
TITLE: Supervisory Airplane Pilot
SERIES/GRADE: GS-2181-13
LOCATION: USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Fire, Aviation and Air Staff
CITY/ST: Ogden, UT

DUTIES: The position serves as a principle assistant to the Deputy Regional Aviation Officer. The incumbent provides supervisory and operational services over aircraft and pilots on wildfires and other aviation projects in the Region. ...and so on...

FIREFIGHTER RETIREMENT: This is a covered primary firefighter position as defined under 5 USC 8336 (c) CSRS and 5 USC 8412 (d) FERS.

MAXIMUM ENTRY AGE (MEA): Because this position has been classified as a primary firefighter position the MEA regulations apply. Applicants must not have reached their 37th birthday at the time of appointment. The MEA is applied any time an individual enters a primary (rigorous) position unless transferring directly from another primary (rigorous) position. Mandatory retirement is age 57. You must indicate your date of birth on your application.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mellie

PS Hey, AXE, Dude, no need to get your panties in a bunch over what's said here. That balognie solution is a good one. <snicker> Bet that isn't Original Ab that does that. No balognie allowed in his environment! Now last I saw him, in bib overalls and straw hat, he was scraping a firebreak around his back 40 that was going to also serve as a PT track. Down to mineral soil and smoooooth. Can't take the firefighter out of that guy.

Yer right, no "bologna solution" for original Ab.

10/18 Ab,

I tried to hold back when I saw this job posted on the fire series 0462 jobs page. Did we step back into the 1970's? It looks like an old "FCO" job. It's just another example of improper classification and antiquated 0462 classification standards.

This person supervises TWO TO FOUR FIRE ENGINES and ONE TO TWO 5 person handcrew modules. They then also have to coordinate fire suppression activities with adjoining forests and state agencies. On top of all of that, they also have to serve as a multi resource / extended attack I.C.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TITLE: Supervisory Forestry Technician (Fire Operations)
SERIES/GRADE: GS-0462-07
PROMOTION POTENTIAL: None
LOCATION: Umatilla National Forest
ANNOUNCEMENT: R614-0239-03G

SUMMARY OF DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: The incumbent serves as the Suppression Operations Technician responsible for coordinating and implementing fire suppression, presuppression, prevention, detection, and training on the North Fork John Day Ranger District. This position supervises two to four engine modules and one to two 5 person handcrews (PSE & Temporary) which are the suppression and detection resources. Coordinates fire suppression activities with adjoining forests and with the State of Oregon to implement cooperative agreements and closest forces concept for initial attack fire suppression. The Suppression Operations Technician serves as Type 3 Incident Commander and back-up duty officer, when assigned.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CLASSIFICATION, CLASSIFICATION, CLASSIFICATION.

PROPER SERIES, PROPER SERIES, PROPER SERIES.

All I have to say is POSITION CLASSIFICATION AUDIT.

Lobotomy

10/18 The Jobs Page and the Wildland Firefighter Series GS-0462 (Forestry Technician) & GS-0455 (Range Technician) were updated yesterday. We don't have jobs pages for the following additional wildland firefighter series:
GS-0025 - Park Ranger Series
GS-0081 - Fire Protection and Prevention Series
GS-0301 - Miscellaneous Administration and Program Series
GS-0401 - General Biological Science Series
GS-0404 - Biological Science Technician Series
GS-0454 - Rangeland Management Series
GS-0460 - Forestry Series
GS-0499 - Biological Science Student Trainee Series
Ab.
10/18 Don't know if any of you ever knew or worked with Dick Black but he was
pilot on the Reeder 212 for the Chantry Flats (Angeles NF) helishot crew in
the late 70's. Just recently lost his life along with an ODF employee in
the Weyerhauser helicopter crash in Oregon

Wonderful story about both of them at:

http://registerguard.com/news/2003/10/17/a1.tribute.1017.phpl

Dick was one stand-up guy.

Hugh Carson

Condolences. Ab.
10/18 Ab,

All I can do is shake my head with a disgusted sigh as I post this link
about BLM harassment and hazing in Nevada.
www.lasvegassun.com

vfd cap'n
10/18 KB
TY (thank you) for your post, you speak from personal tragedy. Again, condolences for the loss of your loved ones. (they are forever in our hearts, minds eye, thoughts)

Bloody/Numb
TY for speaking up; your post may fuel the current fire heating up in here, but hopefully it will cause some to think outside of their proverbial box and reconsider their thought processes.

No comprede why many of CDF'ers and privateers (and an occasional vol) become so defensive about their "turf".

Pray for safe return FFs - October is historically bad fire season in some states.

northzone

P.S. as Ab said: PLAY NICE we should be here to learn & share information, not indulge in senseless hair-splittings or personal attacks.
10/18 Well, I've been consistently viewing this site for 3 years; and it all ends now.

I'm tired of the petty arguments. Contractors vs. Private vs. Feds vs. CDF vs. other states.

The next argument will be Type 2 crews vs. Type 1.

Then Type 1 vs IR Type 1 crews.

Then the world vs. California.

Then throw in a quick discussion on jumpers vs. rappellers.

Maybe the only way it will change is if people (like myself) quit reading this site -- because all it does is piss me off.

Yes, every now and then there is some value to some of the information posts -- particularly by "Mellie"; but for the most part it is just rehashed BS.

And rehashing things can be ok -- just not the same things for 3 years.

Good Luck All.
AXE

Read, don't read, it's up to you AXE. Ya want to change the content, post something that interests you. You did that before with a whimsical post - nice. Topics do tend to reoccur as new people come on with a given mindset and/or new perspective. This site doesn't have to be and is not confrontational all the time. From my perspective of some years, it seems it is more fractionated in the fall when people are tired and transitioning home.

AXE, if you think you think you get fed up, think about the Abs. What this Ab does when the BS piles up is this: I keep a package of bologna (pronounced ba'loneee) in the office 'fridge. When I get too riled up by a post, I take a slice and throw it in the trash with a full-on choppin' stroke and a few choice Ab expletives *$@% & @!$%$!! Then I go outside and do a fast lap in the daylight and fresh air. Great for changing the mental environment and for perspective before posting my rebuttal that asks for consideration AGAIN!

Readers, I posted Another CDF BC's post from a few days ago to the "documents worth reading page". It is well-written and informative. Next time we get a post that puts down CDF accomplishments, I will refer folks to it. Thanks, Another CDF BC for a worthwhile educational contribution. Ab.
10/18 Ab, please post:

Fire in the Landscape, the fire ecology workshop at Ocean Song (Sonoma Co. CA) is coming up soon! Friday, October 24th to Monday, October 27th. It's a great opportunity to learn about the history and pre-history of our eco-system and it's co-evolution with fire. All three speakers are terrific and enlightening. The cost is $150.00 which includes lunch and dinner and bunk style sleeping or camping accommodations.

Contact: Kathleen Kraft
Phone: 707-874-2014
E.mail: kkraft@sonic.net

Friday, October 24th: Dennis Martinez--Indigenous use of fire in land management. Using pre-settlement conditions as a guideline for restoration. Fire as a tool in Forest management.

Saturday, October 25th: Robin Wills--Basics of fire ecology and the use of fire in eco-system restoration. How to prepare for a prescribed burn.

Sunday, October 26th: Prescribed burn of 4 acres of grassland (weather permitting)

Monday, October 27th: Ray Moritz-- Defensible space around your home. How to make our wildlands safer from wildfire. The role of FireSafe Councils. West Sonoma County FireSafe Project.

If you can't attend all 4 days, please give me a call to work something out. I need to get some final numbers on who will attend very soon.

Thanks! Kathleen
10/17 New Fire on the Angeles with L.A. County
Highway 138 @ Quail lake rd 125 acres and moving
started around 1300 structures are threatened.

ANF
10/17 www.nps.gov/grca/media/16oct03.php

Fortunately no injuries.
CI
10/17 Does anyone have any info on the helo that crashed, from the Grand Canyon 2 days ago?

It apparently tipped during or after landing. The pilot, 3 parkies, 1 USFS, were aboard, no injuries. Google News link: Clickme Some of the articles pulled up by google refer to a helo crash from last month. Be sure to check which accident the article refers to. Ab.

10/17 Dear Ab et al,

I am writing to open a thread on close calls. I was on the Fawn Peak/Farewell Complex fire earlier this summer. First this fire was located roughly 10 miles from the 30 Mile deployment site from 7-10-01. 2 years to the day on the Fawn Complex an interagency Hotshot crew found themselves in an eerily similar position. Now I don't have enough of the pertinent info to spout off on the causes or reasons why they found themselves in a near burnover situation. But I do know that something serious happened and was never brought up by any of those in responsibility positions, at least not to my satisfaction. I understand there are tools in place for individuals to report incidents such as this, Safenet for one. I don't think more administrative red tape or programs are necessarily the answer. It is my opinion that the atmosphere for reporting such things is not where it needs to be. I can understand the idea that no one on that particular crew, or others, may have wanted to tarnish their crew's reputation. But to allow something like that to be swept under the rug, is obviously unacceptable. If it happened in front of our crew and was not addressed, then perhaps it happens more often than we know. As for myself this has been stewing inside of me since it happened. I appreciate the opportunity to share such experiences to the at-large fire folks who frequent this site, and hope we can do something to remedy this situation in the future.

Firepup91
10/17 Again I see alot of discussion about private vs government, and I am saddened that there has to be such a division. By displaying this prejudice against the private sector you are only creating further division on the fireline and not promoting a "team" effort irregardless of whom you work for. I too was a private sector contractor for over 10 years and ran some of the best crews out there but due to the inability of the agencies to promote good vs cheap we terminated our business. If those of you in the agencies understood the true costs behind all the equipment, training and overhead for operating the agency resources, you would agree that cheap does not get you top notch equipment or crews. In addition, I believe that it is imperative for you to understand that we are just business as any other trying to make a living and provide good benefits and pay to our employees. We are also members of our communities, most of them small rural communities and we contribute greatly to their economy, job bank and also many of us volunteer for our local city government, fire departments ect. So to say that we are just in it to make money is a very sad misconception! What about those lean years when there are no fires, we must make our money during the "good fire years" to provide for the not so great years! And many of us do it with no work guarantees, just a hope and a prayer! We too have fire in our blood, and live and breath fire as many of you do! Sure there are bad contractors, we know that and we hope that you will help us weed them out!

Again, I hope that in our "ideal" world we could become "Partners in Fire" not those greedy, cheating, worthless contractors vs the agencies.
DM-2
10/17 It seems to me that we’re looking at two perspectives on the ethos of fire service; those who believe it should be run like an industry, and those who believe it should be run like some sort of mystic monk-like vocation. Honestly, I think both absolutes are dangerous; run like an industry (worse yet, a competitive, unregulated industry), you risk getting dangerous equipment and untrained firefighters on the line, put there because, well, they were cheaper. On the other hand, making the fire service a “for love not money” sort of heroic lifestyle/career risks developing the hero complex further than it should probably go, not to mention polarizing the situation; career against vollies against contractors. Both mentalities produce serious safety issues; pure economics produces cost cutting and fighting fire cheaply rather than safely or well, and the hero complex produces philosophies of acceptable losses and the idea that fires are stopped through bravado rather than careful planning and thoughtful execution. I hate the mentality that wildlandfire fighters are heroes; if we are called upon to save lives and property, then we have already failed. Our job is to prevent risk to lives and property…if it comes down to the point when it’s our bodies and our sweat between somebody’s home and the dragon, we didn’t do our job on initial attack, fire prevention, and education. Heroics result from ego, poor planning and/or bad decisions.

As a vollie, I’ve worked with all of the above; on the one end, contractors who are working for profit margins and sneer at us for giving our services away, and on the other career federal and state fire types who sneer at us for not being ‘pure’ and sacrificing all to the great god Fire. The fire service is a tremendous expense; running it in complete disregard to economics is a huge disservice to the public we’re supposed to be protecting. I don’t know what the numbers are on contractor versus fed-type (including CDF and others) resources. Quite frankly I don’t care; that’s going to vary widely from area to area. My solution is to cross train; I think that State Forestry or whatever other organizations are going to have logistical control over what resources are dispatched to fires in their territory should make sure that any and all resources they may have to draw on, at least in their jurisdiction, are not only trained and equipped, but trained to work together and to work with each other’s equipment. Our regional fire protection association has found that this approach works very, very well on both structure and wildland fires; it also saves on training dollars (train four departments for the price of one!). Besides, if you think the resources you might be called to work with are substandard, I think you have the responsibility to your own firefighters to at least to try teach them the error of their ways; after all, they may be watching your back or cutting the section of line next to yours. There will always be those who don’t play well with others; in that case it’s the responsibility of the officers higher up in the hierarchy to recognize that fact and put those characters in places where their capacity for damage in minimized.

We don’t need to be arguing over the relative merits of contractors or vollies or government fire service; we need to be cross-pollinating the various virtues of the different groups. So there’s my two cents worth.

Nerd on the Fireline
10/17 Dana,

I can agree to most of what you have said, But I know of two contractors that do it for the money and count on it, more than for the thrill of it like myself. No contractors should take hold of the wildland fires, but to provide a better level of service, ex(equipment, qualifications and so on). As a volly all our training is paid for by the taxpayers, but we do not get paid. Hence the word volunteer. All we want to do is help when needed. Like I've said before we're in it for the thrill, with getting paid as well. All I'm interested in is that all contractors have the same level of service across the board. No pieces of crap with parts falling off their trucks........

Northern Nevada FF
10/17 Northern Nevada FF

Cool, I guess you are not part of the problem. Thanks for being you.

BloodyAndNumb
10/16 BloodyAndNumb,

We have at least two things in common. We are both firefighters who have pride in the service we provide.. and have been sitting on our hands and biting our lips before posting to TSI.

I have never worked for a "private contractor" as a firefighter. But I have helped a large number of our states "casual" firefighters find employment with private contractors. I don't think any of them were switching employers "just for the money" they just could not afford to work for an employer who paid low wages with no benefits. During my 15+ year "firefighting career" I was dispatched to a large number of fires in states other than my own...yet I do not recall providing a lower quality of service or having less pride in my work in those states. I cannot imagine this would change noticeably if I were working for a private contractor. And I do not believe I am remarkably different than most other firefighters. We do it to provide a safer world for our fellow humans. We do it to minimize the needless and wasteful destruction of public (and private) resources. We do it because it is more than a job...it is an adventure. Public servant or privateer...we ALL do it for the same basic reasons.

OK...that was why I was sitting on my hands. Now for the "lip biting" response. You said: "privateers cost more. It's a fact."

I must dispute this "fact".
I suppose if you only figure in the "cost to the fire" this might possibly appear true. Such a calculation would be highly skewed and inaccurate however. I believe it is actually cheaper to employ contractors than to create additional "public servant" firefighting capability. I do not believe that REPLACING that existing capability would prove any cheaper though. We probably agree that complete privatization of wildfire suppression would cost more than what currently exists. The chances of that occurring in our lifetime approach zero though. Look at the response to the long standing concept of a SINGLE govt. agency controlling all wildfire suppression resources. This would undoubtedly lead to lower costs just due to reduction of redundant positions/equipment and attendant duplicate "administrative costs". Yet this obvious cost saving measure never makes it past the concept stage.

When a "privateer" is paid for service rendered on a fire that amount is the full and total cost of the service to the taxpayers.
When a "Public servant" is paid for service rendered on a fire it is only a small portion of the actual cost to the public. Such a comparison ignores all the other costs of equipment acquisition and maintenance. It ignores the cost of employee training. It ignores the cost of paying that employee during times when their services are not required on a fire. It ignores extended liabilities such as employer pension contributions and the cost of "self insurance". The list goes on. There is just no way the "cost to a fire" reflects the actual cost to the public of public servant firefighters. And because so many public servant firefighters also have non fire related duties I do not think that a true cost can be calculated.

But if private contractors really cost more the current (state and federal) beancounters would not be screaming for "more outsourcing" as a way to dramatically lower the cost of providing govt. services of ALL kinds...including apparently wildfire suppression. (Which by the way I am NOT convinced is a good idea)

Are you advocating NOT contracting out water tenders, skidgeons, medical units or (LOL) commissaries? Where in the world would the money come from to purchase these seasonally required (often) multi use resources that would sit unused and idle the majority of the time. How would you find (even marginally) qualified personnel to operate this armada of underutilized equipment? Certainly you are not suggesting the creation of thousands of new public servants to replace the current contractor employees.

Here are some facts:
We need contractors and the services and personnel the provide. They provide a very valuable service at competitive prices.
We cannot afford to replace them with public servants and equipment paid for by tax dollars. The taxpayers won't stand for it.
In order for us to have an adequate amount of high quality contractor provided equipment and personnel available we need to make it possible for those contractors with such resources to make a decent profit..and impossible for those that attempt to provide low quality resources at a premium price to profit at all. That is the responsibility of existing PUBLIC SERVANTS.
and,
No firefighter worth their "salt" fights fire "just for the money".

Dana
10/16 Bloody and numb

Guess what? I am a vol. firefighter and partners with a contractor. Yes we are in it for the money, but we do have pride for what we do for the communities we help protect. We are hired by the Forest Service and BLM. When there is nobody else to put out the fire we are there to help out. Believe it or not we do care! I serve a small community in Northern Nevada who understands the need for contractors (extra help). There are a lot of terrible contractors who are not qualified or have good equipment to do the job right. Hence getting paid for poor work, and bad equipment. The feds do not see this because of favoritism wins out all the time. Like I've said before we are in it for the adrenaline and the money, plus to assist the communities we serve. Have a save fall. God bless .

Northern Nevada FF
10/16 Domaque

I have the same feelings on this as you do but didn't have the guts to put it (into) words

ras57
10/15 Ab, As the fire season is starting to wind down. I have been reflecting on this season. I grieve for the firefighters who have lost their lives. My biggest hope every year is that not one firefighter will get killed or hurt. I hope that lessons have been learned and they will not be repeated. Since our son's death nine years ago I have heard from more than one firefighter that Storm King saved their lives. They have been told to do something on the fireline that just didn't seem right and they have refused and the fire blew up a short time later. Thank God they learned a lesson and were able to say NO. My sincere hope is that lessons will be learned from all the firefighters deaths and when a firefighter feels, sees or thinks something is wrong they speak up. I hope this will save more lives. KB
10/15 AB-

May be setting myself up here for a little sniping, but I'm a little confused over the recent "attacks" or ribs on some of the benefits the men and women of CDF have earned through the collective bargaining process.

Portal to portal has long been a goal of the federal firefighter for as long as I can remember. I find it to be fundamentally wrong when you ask an employee to get on the road away from family and friends, risk personal self for the mission, and not be compensated. It really is a matter of fairness. I suppose this is why I find it odd that folks would jump on this page and start slamming.

CDF firefighters work the longest workweek in the fire service. My class, Battalion Chief works twice as long as my federal counter part every week at 84 hours. My local counter part works a 56. I'm not here to make any excuses, I signed up, but lets be a bit more fair about this issue. My mission is completely different from my federal counter part in that I am also expected to proficient and can be held accountable for additional duties in the all risk environment. By the same token, I do not begrudge my fellow firefighters for what ever benefit they can attain through what ever means, be it collective bargaining or what ever else.

The motel issue smacks of good old jealousy. This benefit was bargain for fair and square at the table. There are give and takes in bargaining. We gave up something in return for it I can assure you. What people tend to forget is that motel use can be shown on par to be as cost effective if not more when you figure in the costs of supporting folks living sleeping on the ground. I know I don't have to tell you this, but lets look at shower rentals, potable water, gray water haul outs, wash tables for shaving and washing hands. then let's talk about the fad out there of tent rentals that come complete with the portable air conditioning units, and companion whisper quiet generators to run them.

Is there abuse of the motel use policy? Sure there is! And I'm sure if we looked hard enough we would find examples of abuse in ever aspect of the base/camp. Why is it we will fly an aircrane all day on a fire and not a word is said regardless of whether it is effective or not. How many shower units can you rent for 40K a day? How many rooms can you rent?

Keep in mind, that most of the time the motel rooms are doubled up. Now I don't want to get into the quality of room issue here-I know there are abuses there. I have seen plenty of engine strike teams lodging at a Motel 6 while the fats cats are hanging out a little better joint. I have even seen personnel from other agencies signed in on CDF motel sheets (federal and local both) who in reality are not authorized to do this for contractual and department policy reasons. The fact is it is done though-OK, big deal.

Anytime a firefighters benefit package is enhanced, that is a good thing. be careful of throwing rocks at comrades just because they have a benefit you don't. I don't throw stones at my local government counterpart for working the same fire I am and making twice the money for it.

We all make our choices of where to work and for who, if this is a benefit you would like to have on a fire assignment, then come join us, there is plenty of room.

Incidentally, on the other hand, I wouldn't mind seeing the look on some of our new people who have become accustomed to the motel lifestyle. Technically speaking, if it operationally impacts the mission of the fire, motels are not authorized.

Let's work together to better al the working conditions, not use this forum to divide and concur.

We suffered a great defeat the other day at the hands of outgoing Governor Davis when he vetoed our binding arbitration bill while he signed the same thing for local firefighters. As you can imagine, we were stunned as we have stuck with him (at great peril to ourselves) when he wasn't even as popular as the bellhop!

"Another CDF BC"
10/15 Ab, I have been sitting on my hands and biting my lip to keep from getting
P.O.'d about the way the Wildland Fire side of the Fire Service has evolved
into the "Wildland Fire Industry". Well my lip is bleeding and my hands
are numb.

When I started my career the only private contractors around a fire were
the food service caterers and a few pieces of equipment like airtankers,
helicopters, water tenders, dozers and the porta-potties (rockets). Now we
have Tenders, Engines, Dozers, Timco's (feller bunchers), Skidgines, Crews,
Shower Units, Hand Wash Stations, GIS/Mapping Trailers, Air Tankers,
Helicopters, Medical Units, Commissary, and the list goes on ad-nauseum and
grows annually.

What is the cost of turning the Fire Service into the Fire Industry??

One cost will be the loss of pride, satisfaction and responsibility of
being a Public Servant. Publicly funded (agency) firefighters are hired
(and many more volunteer for service) by the agency either state, county,
city or federal, to provide service to the people (taxpayers) who fund
their agency.

The fire service has always had a huge number of highly motivated
volunteers because of the Public Servant attitude.

The publicly funded firefighters are motivated by the fact that they are
serving as public safety professionals and working for the good of the
citizens they work for. Since they are paid directly by the people they
serve they have an obligation to those people first and the agency second.

Privateers on the other hand are paid directly by the company they work for
and have an obligation to their company first and the people they serve
secondly.

Privateers are motivated first by the fact that there is profit to be made,
service to the public is considered secondly if at all. If there is no
profit there is no service. If you don't believe this show me the
volunteer firefighters who sign up to work for the private companies.

Another cost is financial, privateers cost more. It's a fact.

The final cost I will mention is the cost of the values and resources that
we are supposedly protecting. A person who is motivated by service is
going to be more productive than one who is motivated by money. If this is
not the case why are there so many volunteers in the fire service, and why
do the big corporations spend millions of dollars each year hiring
motivational speakers to get their employee's moral up.

If we want the Fire Service to become an industry motivated by the bottom
line then we are walking down the correct path. If we want the Fire
Service to retain the values that have sustained it for the last couple of
hundred years then we need to do some soul searching and figure out why we
do this job, and what we are in danger of loosing if the industry types
prevail.

BloodyAndNumb
10/15 Throttle it back, CW…I think you’ll notice that I was mostly agreeing with you, but attempting to simplify and clarify your point to what I perceived as the essence of the problem; to wit, that to this day the expectation is that firefighters will be hurt or killed in the line of duty, that youngsters will be youngsters, and that a certain level of misbehavior is to expected. I say, as you did, that we need to stop expecting these things; that we need to take each and every transgression seriously and that we need to raise the expectations of our firefighters, our squads, our crews, and our management with regard to firefighter safety. Reread my post if you want. The items from TC and Lisa Goodman also touch, obliquely, on the same point.

I was also agreeing with Sammi in that I think that a designated driver scheme could be made practical, if not on a crew level then at least on a fire level or maybe an area level…I’m a vollie, for those who don’t know, and most if not all of the vollie departments in my area have support groups; folks who aren’t for whatever reason up to being firefighters but who want to come out in our support. These wonderful, valuable folks make sure our meetings have food, and that we get food and water and whatever else we need during the course of fighting fire, structure or wildland. What about calling on local support groups for van relays to places where FF can rest up before going home? What about a mandatory, enforced rest period after X hours on the line before driving (with caveats for distance to be driven)?

Now, as far as butting heads with Sammi goes, well, fearlessness may be a virtue (to a certain extent), and in keeping with the philosophy of the site, but my comment was intended as a friendly warning; 1. Sammi has a whole lot of friends on the sight who would take your personal comments, well, personally, 2. Sammi herself wields a wicked keyboard and 3. There is a line between being assertive and being tactless. As for people who cannot be crossed…well, don’t cross the Abs and you might regret crossing somebody with a lot of supporters.

Nerd on the Fireline (with mild amusement and mild disgust)

Let’s return our focus to the issues rather than the identities of, or motivation of the individuals posting here. Continue to disagree with any opinions, including the Abs, as you avoid “attacking” or “confronting” them. I think it’s safe to say that almost every post we receive has been triggered by some type of emotion. Without emotions to help generate a new thread or a response to an existing one, this would become a barren, isolated place. Bring your emotions with you, just try and temper them with consideration. Ab.

10/15 Regarding the debate on the firefighters killed in the van accident in Oregon, is more policies, regulations and tests the answer? Last time I checked, it was illegal to pass on a double line and VERY illegal to drink and drive. I have been fighting fire for 10 seasons now and not once has it occurred to me to do any of the above activities. I have been on my way back from a fire, stopped at a motel for the night, and had a beer with my meal. I might be wrong, but I don't see a problem with that. I do have a problem with ANYONE willing to drive a vehicle directly after having a beer. If we (me and my crew) have to drive to a restaurant, we designate a driver. We DO NOT drink and drive. A policy of zero tolerance would not stop someone already willing to break the law and drink and drive.

I don't think that hiring special drivers is the answer either. It seems an unnecessary cost and would do little besides drive the cost of crews up. Would we then have to hire one for every engine to drive it home, or would the engine crew be considered professional enough to drive it themselves? If we as leaders take responsibility for our own actions and for the actions of our crews, more policies will not be necessary. More policies will not make it any worse to drink and drive. I don't think that more policies on this issue would save firefighters in the future.

I am saddened by the needless death of every firefighter. This particular incident is terrible and made more so by the preventable circumstances which caused it. My condolences to the family and friends of all deceased firefighters. The only thing I can do is to learn from all of the past firefighter deaths and try to keep from making the same mistakes in the future. A great fear of mine is that one of my crew members will get hurt or killed because of a mistake I made. I pray that it does not happen. It has happened to better firefighters than me.

Stay safe,
Domaque
10/14 vfd cap'n
As I said I do agree with allot of what sammi said. and I do agree we are
responsible to many people. Mothers, Fathers, Sons, Doughters, Chief's,
coworkers and list goes on.

Sammi
I meant no personal offence to you and could have worded it better.

FireChica
As I do not know who she is I cannot respond with that in mind.

Nerd on the Fireline
There is no one on this site I will not butt heads with if I disagree. That
is part of what this site is about as far I can tell, Open conversation .
Are there people here that can not be crossed??

Glad to generate some dialog but get off the defense of Sammi and agree or
disagree with the real point that I was making.

CW
10/14 Ab, here's a message from the Region 6 Forester that came to my inbox.
R6 Firefighter
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

October 10, 2003
From: Regional Forester Linda Goodman
To: R6 Employees

For the past three summers, I have had to deal with the pain and agony of seeing families lose young adults. From Yakima to Baker City to Roseburg, I have traveled and seen tears shed, mothers and fathers in shock, and the hurt of losing a loved one.

Others may replace the work of these people, but none of us can replace the young man or young woman who is lost. A son or daughter will never walk through their parents' front door and hug them. A toddler will never be picked up by his dad again. A wife will never feel the loving embrace of her husband again. For these people, the hurt will last a lifetime.

The funerals and memorials, I have attended have been touching and meaningful, yet the underlying cause is the death of young people. And it's all about safety.

For those of who think these recent events were only about contractors, think again. They are about us!

We have had safety people on scene who have noticed Forest Service vehicles full of people NOT wearing their seat belts. We have had Forest Service vehicles clocked at 85 mph. We have had people sleeping in an enclosed tent, while a propane heater was running---INSIDE the tent.

Region 6 Line Officers are held to a high standard of safety performance. My expectation mirror's the Chief's---I expect every manager and supervisor to do everything possible to ensure zero tolerance for placing employees at risk by providing proper training and equipment. Careful planning and analysis is needed to ensure that hazards are identified and eliminated or mitigated. Violations of our safety rules and regulations must be noted and corrected. I will continue to ensure Line Officers fulfill these responsibilities.

Consoling a parent or loved one who lost a family member is not in anyone's job description, nor should it be. We owe it to ourselves to take the time to care about each other and work with each other to create a safe environment at work and on the road to work. Nothing less should be expected or tolerated from each other.

Nothing I can do will ever bring back a son or daughter, a dad, or a husband who was lost. Their families' lives have changed forever, and everyday is a reminder of their loss.

Everyday you can make a difference!
signed Linda Goodman

10/14 Hi Ab....

In response to Mellie's post on FSEEE. Visit their web page at
http://www.fseee.org/ Go to their top 10 project link. The one on
Firefighting is project 5. I tend to agree with them to some extent, but
think the problem is much larger and harder than they think it is. I do
not believe that the Government has done a very good job in analyzing which
fires can be managed vs.. suppressed. Many of the reasons fires are
suppressed (potential threat to T & E species, damage to cultural resource
sites, dollar loss from burnt Timber) have not really been thoroughly
analyzed due to the cost of doing so. So the government falls back on
protection as the answer.

On another note, Awhile back I attended a class (sponsored by the Forest
Service, but put on by a contractor). I believe the instructor had a PHD
in decision analysis processes (or something along those lines). One of
the statements he made is that the federal government and Wildland fire
community have determined that fatalities in Wildland fire is an acceptable
risk (not desirable but acceptable) because we have not substantially
changed the way we fight fire, in order to prevent it from happening. Not
sure I agree with that, but really made me think about things in a
different light.

TC
10/14 CW,
>"this is a issue best dealt with by leaving the motherly emotion at home."

I think, given Sammi's family history, this was a poorly chosen statement
and was made in bad taste. I, personally, find it offensive and feel that
your posting could have done without that particular choice of wording.

FireChica
10/14 CW,

I wouldn't dismiss Sammi's comments on safety with "this is a issue best dealt with by leaving the motherly emotion at home." Your statement presupposes that we in the fire service are only held accountable to those on the fireline.

The BLM fire website has a library of documents (www.fire.blm.gov/library.php) well worth exploring. One .pdf file is the Point Fire investigation "findings of fact and conclusions of law." (fire.blm.gov/textdocuments(etc).pdf) It's the court ruling handed down against the BLM for the deaths of 2 volunteer firefighters at the 1995 Point Fire outside of Boise. The BLM was ordered to pay just less than $900,000 in damages to the families of the firefighters, because BLM's negligence was ruled to be 35% responsible for the deaths.

Accountability is coming for the Oregon van crash. The fines that First Strike faces now in the criminal phase are nothing compared to the penalties of a civil suit. In talking to reporters, First Strike's lawyer dismissed the charges as "ludicrous."

We will see.
vfd cap'n
10/14 CW:

I think your argument can be best summarized in one point: Higher Expectations. In my experience, a crew will go to great lengths to live up to the expectations of a leader they respect. Good training defines those expectations, good crew culture reinforces them, and zero tolerance makes sure those expectations are never bent, let alone broken.

I’m not sure that Sammi’s idea of designated drivers is unrealistic…(also think it’s a very bad idea to butt heads with Sammi), but I think they need to be attached to the fire, not to the crew. Crews should be transported to a reasonable distance from camp, put up in hotels or spike it for a good solid night’s (or day’s) sleep, and then allowed to drive home when rested. That’s my two cents.

Nerd on the Fireline
10/14 We updated the Jobs Page and the Wildland Firefighter Series GS-0462 (Forestry Technician) & GS-0455 (Range Technician). Take a look at who is already lining up hiring for next season.

Also, if you missed the initial announcement for the AVIATION TEAM training, and are interested, best hop on it. The deadline approachs.

And speaking of opportunities for those rejoining us after the season, check out the 2003 Safety Summit (pdf file) to be held in Ontario Canada this year on Nov 18-20.

While I'm thinking about it, check out the Stihl Heroism Award and nominate someone worthy.

Mellie is working on the Paul Gleason Memorial Site which arose out of information gathered for the heroism nomination last year. Our memorial site to Paul should be done soon. Anyone with photos of Paul and/or a description of the 3 memorial services, or info/contacts for his early life, please email here and I'll pass it on.

Ab.
10/14 Sammi,

You have some good points. BUT this is a issue best dealt with by leaving
the motherly emotion at home. There are no easy answers to the driving
problems.

To hire additional drivers you put more numbers at risk on the
road, now we would have 23 or 24 people at risk and not 20. lower risk
maybe.. Maybe not...What would those drivers do all day? They would drive
the crews to the fire, then to and from the line each day, and do what for
a 12 hour shift. The crew may need the rigs during the shift to egress
from an advancing fire so they cannot go back to camp. Would they not be
eager to get home at the end of 14 days of sitting and waiting on the crew?

How many of them would we need? With out doing alot of research here, I
would guess there are at least 400 crews in Region 6 (Fed State and
Private) add the rest of the nation and lets use 800 as a Very
conservative figure (I would guess it at least twice or 3 times that), To
add "professional drivers" to each crew that would be at least 3 per crew
= 2400 extra drivers needed. 2400 extra people exposed to risk on the road
and the fire. While schools are suffering budget cuts and drivers do retire.
I think it would be very hard indeed to find 2400 Mr. Good OleBus Drivers.
Again this is a conservative figure. Does anyone reading have the number
of 20 person crews in the nation?????. Do you think this will end all
accidents? Is this a contract crew problem or all crews?

Let me get to the point, I am not trying to run you down, I just do not
agree the fix is to hire and put more people out there.

It answer lies in : Training, High Standards, High Expectations from our people,
Good Polices, Low Tolerance for Bad Behavior, Setting a Good Example. It
is Good Management setting and Enforcing Good Polices, Holding to standards
like 310-1.

This goes for Federal, State, and Contract employees alike.

It is enforcement of contracts from agencies like the Oregon Dept. of
Forestry , USFS R-4 USFS R-1 . It is in Pulling contracts for very bad
offences, Lessening the amount of crews you will hire or give contracts to,
It is in holding people to the current rules Not making more hoping to
scare them into enforcement.

When people are given the chance to live to a lesser standard ...Some
always will.

CW
10/14 Interesting article in the Missoulian ...

Group to sue over firefighting

Anyone of the "12,000 former and current Forest Service employees and agency watchdogs" of the FSEE around to comment?

-aly
10/14 Now that fire season is slowing somewhat & some crews have been released or will soon be disbanded for the year, we hope they have time to read our heartfelt thanks for a job well done. THANK YOU - special thanks to their dispatchers, logistics staff and other support personnel who are indispensable.

River
10/14 Tahoe Terrie,

I don't know the status of the different investigations. I did hear that one inmate received some kind of burns on the Canoe Fire. That means an investigation should occur even if the info office says on the evening news that fleeing from flames is just something they train for and no big deal. I don't know if anyone deployed. I put in a call to the Info Officer in firecamp and my call was not returned. Evidently it was sensitive enough that they weren't letting any of the "helpers" reply to such enquiries.

From what I heard, one thing that was done right on the Canoe Fire was that the pot growing was not allowed to become a big issue. Residents who felt they must stay home and attend to their "belongings" were allowed to. This took the pressure off the firefighters who are always in greater danger when law enforcement overlaps with firefighting.

Todd
10/14 Hi All, Happy Fall.

Want to hear a chuckle? I got wind of a new lawsuit the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEE, and don't add it to the acronyms page!) is supposedly going to bring against the FS wherein they demand evaluation of the social/environmental effects of firefighting in light of so many firefighter deaths. My mole in our local nor-cali environmental shop said they want to gain big headlines over the deaths and grab public opinion. I think the focus will be the Slims Fire and the indirect line cut there, for example. It never ends with them, just gets more desperate...

I think first they should account for how few FS and former FS employees there are among their ranks. As I understand it, a miniscule percentage and their name is just another attempt to legitimize their activities. They're some of the ones who flung out so many half-truths about the Big Bar Complex in 1999 and got me committed to the fire arena. Do any of the regulars here at theysaid belong to FSEE? If so, please get in touch privately and let's talk. I am open to hearing your side of things but man, expect an earfull from me!

<shaking my head, and chuckling under my breath>
Mellie
10/13 Greetings,

The motive of the present communication is to ask please that this photo on this page be removed. (This was a photo of the Forest Fire fighters with the President of Bolivia on our Crews 7 photo page. Ab has removed it as requested.)

The events that have happened in Bolivia recently make us ashamed to pose next to a killer.

Thank you.

For anyone who is interested to know more information about the conflicts and massacres that have happened in Bolivia you can see them in

www.la-razon.com
www.lostiempos.com
www.cnnespanol.com
www.bbcmundo.com

PD

English reports:
Bolivia leader defiant as 10 die in protests

Bolivia's President Halts Controversial Gas Project

Condolences. So sorry for the problems in your country. Be safe.
Condolencias. Tan lamentable de la matanza y otros problemas en su país. Nuestros pensamientos y rezos están con usted. Esté seguro. Ab.

10/13 The words firefighter and hero are synonymous with each other. The reason the word "hero" is pasted on every firefighters back is because the job is dangerous and sometimes it involves saving peoples lives. No one with any sense is going to argue that. Every time one of my guys is around me when they are leaving for a fire I say " Don't be a hero!" Recently I am saying it on the phone with them when they call to say they are headed home.

Now, my husband and my kids know exactly what I mean. "Don't you do anything STUPID and get you or anyone else hurt or killed." And we have all seriously talked lately about how hard it is for anyone to speak up and be the "crew weenie". Better a live one than a dead one. When our kids were in high school they were told, "I don't care what the problem is, anytime you feel uncomfortable with anything you call home, we will come get you, no questions asked." Well, they are all adults and I would certainly hope they would speak up, if not, fake vomiting and we will get you home another way. Whatever works, it is worth it. No, doubt anyone of the parents of the Oregon Eight would have crawled up that interstate to save their son.

There are a few points in the ROAD RAGE guest editorial by Brian Ballou, ODF, for Wildland Firefighter magazine, Sept 03 issue I would like to comment on.

He mentions that vehicle mechanical problems cause a few of the accidents. That is true but an easy fix. It is the human behavior that is causing the majority of the senseless injuries and deaths we are all dealing with. Drivers being trained to handle the rigs they are going to be assigned is a given. The Structure Fire Departments have rigorous training and task books that have to be signed off before a driver is turned loose with a cumbersome yet very powerful piece of machinery. There are stats that show driving tenders is extremely dangerous. Those rigs are always tumbling down hills and turning over in ditches etc. Engineers are supposed to be highly trained and proficient at getting their Engine to the fire but in one piece. And I still will hear some Engine jockey bragging about hitting 85mph and passing 13 cars on the 2 lane hgwy to get to a garbage dump fire. I just give them a "you are stupid" look. Then leave it up to brass to chew them a new one,,,,,,and present them with a new task book. Does wildland have the same type training? Even with the vans and bus's they are using to transport crews, not only on the fires but to and from the fire?

Training the crew drivers as professional drivers is a good idea but I will go further. Hire professional drivers who are NOT fire fighters. They will not have the rush to get there, nor the rush to get home with all the misbehavior that goes along with being a driving FF. Drivers that are jacked up on adrenaline are just as dangerous as alcohol impaired. And an exhausted FF driver going home is just as much an impaired driver. We should do a test and stay up for 2 weeks getting very little sleep, using a bizillion calories a day and putting our bodies thru physical labor like they do and see how well anyone would do driving 2-4-6 hundred miles. Obviously the incentives for accident free miles is not working. Isn't their lives incentive enough? Guess not!

Critter control: an example- ever been on a school bus full of jr high kids going on a field trip. On the way they are singing and jabbering. Joking, throwing spit balls. Feeling of each other, punching, giving wedgies etc. Same dynamics with FF......they are young, studly critters who cannot be hurt. (so they think) they are HERO's, invincible. Or so the chick in Walmart said on their last stop for snacks and more socks. To be in a vehicle with 4 kiddies on the way to school is distracting enough, imagine the FF driver who is being pushed to hurry by his crew mates, his buddies on the line. Disaster waiting to happen. And it has happened, several times.

Put an ex-school bus driver on the crew rig and the safety record will sky rocket. They would pitch the offending demons out on their packs. Wonder how many bodies in nomex sitting on red packs up and down the freeways would it take for the FF themselves to make it right.

Now we have to factor in alcohol consumption. Sure wish this wasn't necessary. What the hell was going on with the people in the other vans? Apparently made the same stops. Apparently knew they had the booze. How could anyone in their right mind think these guys were NOT gonna drink it......stupid took over. And too bad we did not get tox screens on them. Yep, sounds like blame throwing you bet. I have taken many keys away from drunks and will not hesitate in the future. And ya know what, almost everyone of them thanked me in a couple of days, After the headache.

And one more time we have dead firefighters, grieving families and it seems the industry is dragging their feet at addressing the issue. If not dragging feet then tell us what is being done. We are several fatalities too many here folks. Show me where to sign up and I will gladly be on any committee, board, forum and pay my own way to and from. (I'd like to suggest Alaska.) This is a horrendous issue that HAS to be addressed and like Brian I would love to see the contractors get the new ball rolling. Get some heavy duty dialog going. Yes they can make independent policies within their own companies, but the FF industry needs some competent leadership on this one to make some significant changes so in the future we will be back to worrying about snags and holes. Not vans wrecking and finding out they never even made it to the damn fire in the first place.

I hope Mr. Ballou will be forgiving with my using his editorial as a catalyst for trying to put my thoughts on this issue to paper, (computer). I am furious with the people that could have spoken up and prevented these wonderful young men from contributing to their own deaths. (even anyone of them could have made a difference) I say with all honesty to the families of these fine young men. Sometimes good people do stupid things. I know how it feels to get that call no mother wants to get in the middle of the night. It has been almost 6 years and I remember and can quote every word out of the Chiefs mouth. (yep I answered the phone) Every time we hear of another firefighter losing their life because of any reason is hard enough but to know FF are still dying because of poor personal choices and the poor decisions of others it is too much to handle. Thx brian for the thought provoking words. Too soon we tend to forget then it happens again and we wonder why nothing changed. Maybe with people like you pushing buttons it will happen. I'm just a mom, who has also lost a son to poor decisions on the fireline.

Drug/alcohol testing is a good idea to a point. If they had tested before the Oregon driver left the fire it would have been negative. And he never made it home to be tested, did he?

sammi

10/13 R3 Dispatcher, ncbrush6:
Thanks for help on the red card qaul. I'll go bug my FMO a little more
and have him put it on.

Keith:
Thanks, I'll keep checking the TICC web site for more info on Lufkin
School.

Thanks a bunch,
Fireman Phil
10/13 Nerd's post concerning the news article about the engineering prof/environmental activists caught my eye. While doing a search for something else, I ran into this press release... http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=126-10102003 I thought some might find this of interest. The press release was titled "Landmark Fire Report Offers Solutions to Wildland Fire Management Dilemma; Phone Media Briefing Set for Oct. 14". Apparently a group called The Wilderness Society has written a report called "The Wildland Fire Challenge" and will be sending the report to legislators in Washington.

The article on the website is an announcement for a media teleconference set for 1 p.m. EDT tomorrow, to outline what the report contains. It sounds like the report is pretty critical for the Forest Service's current fire plan and the president's new plan.

Heli
10/13 So I was reading along on www.slate.com, and I spot a feature called “How not to fight forest fires”. So, of course, I click on it. I find a long diary entry by an author -Sue Halpern, author of “The Book of Hard Things”- including this paragraph:

"Later in the day, on my computer, I find the following subject line on an e-mail message from Chuck Pezeshki, an engineering professor at Washington State University and an environmental activist whom I wrote about last year: 'Well, I'm a convicted federal criminal now.'

Turns out that he disregarded a barrier across a forest service road in order to take pictures of a recent fire, which he sent to every member of the Senate, to show that the Bush administration's rationale for cutting down trees—that logging prevents forest fires—is infernally wishful. Turns out that the forest service didn't like that."

There are a whole list of things that bother me about this statement; mostly that I’m really bugged by people who decide to make political points without having all the facts at their disposal. Logging isn’t meant to prevent forest fires; THINNING is meant to reduce the severity of forest fires, and hopefully prevent extreme fire behavior. Let’s start there. And I would venture to guess that the forest service was less pleased about this “engineering professor and environmental activist” getting in their way as they fought fire than they were about him doing it so publicly “(pictures) sent to every member of the Senate”. “Infernally wishful”…damn straight, if you put it in those terms. I don’t know enough about the legislation in question to put in my two cents on that, but I do know that if somebody decided to bust through my road blocks the way this guy apparently did, I’d do my best to get him arrested too. Of course, no, I don’t have all the facts on this; I just have what Ms. Halpern reported. Maybe Dr. Pezeshki has far more fire experience and fire behavior background than I, but it sure sounds fishy to me.

Nerd on the Fireline

10/13

FS said

"It is true CDF is paid portal to portal like most Calif. fire depts. CDF also are to have motel rooms if they are a certain distance from their home base. These are all part of their wage and benefit package and the fire is billed for it. This is why CDF likes the 24 hour shift."

FS:

Yep, we earn portal to portal just like every fire department except the federal wildland agencies. You are incorrect about it being distance based. It is based on operational feasibility. Finally FS, you are incorrect about the 24 hour shift and why CDF likes it: reduces the workload on the plans section because only one operational plan is created instead of two, and there is a benefit for the line folks to get a look at their piece of ground in the daylight. Read the articles that have been written by several CDF and Ex-CDF chief officers on the subject. They are usually handout materials in the 400 series classes. Nice try though.

AZ Firefighter:

Hang in there, can't guarantee anything, but if the local (Schedule A) position is in a healthy contract you are probably OK. In this climate of a scare workforce (medics) I would guess you're pretty safe.... but then again....you never know. I wouldn't worry about it. I hear CDF scheduling classes still at Ione-so every class you should be getting some seniority on others.

"Another CDF BC"

10/13 AZ Trailblazer,

"I was picked up as a firefighter II/paramedic but still on the engineer's list. I've never heard of accepting a job and still maintaining a position on another list"

When you were hired your name was removed from the pool of new hire candidates for a specific job classification; not another list your name may be on.

General terms re CA state hirings/promotions: 1) if anyone's name is on a current classification list for a possible job opening/interview/hire, candidates names remain on that list until hired, 2) their name is automatically removed by refusing 3 interview offerings, or 3) that particular list expires.

You might receive a "letter of invitation" to interview for a different classification.

River

10/13 Concerning CDF Portal to Portal. Not all CDF'er are Portal to Portal, though the most of them are. Dispatcher, certain prevention and a few others are not. Yes, these folks also go out on fire assignments.

Dispatcher
10/12 ff phil

yes the diver is a red card qual. i also have it on mine.

ncbrush6
10/12 Fireman Phil,

The Lufkin Academy is generally held in May and is also a well run Academy. They don't have the barracks facilities like Swift but it is still an outstanding opportunity. The website is not up yet but if you keep an eye on TICC at www.tamu.edu/ticc/ whenever it is posted, it will be here.

Stay safe,
Keith
10/12 Fireman Phil,

About scuba diver on your red-card. It is real easy actually. Just take you cert. you got from passing the class, fresh or open waters to whoever does your redcard and get them to enter it in just like any other class and quals. I did such for a firefighter when I worked in Southern Cal. Yes I have seen divers used on fires to retrieve helicopter buckets from lakes, usually a local thing since it is hard to carry all your equipment to fires. Hope that helps.

R3 Dispatcher
10/12 Lobotomy,

If I understand your argument correctly, you appear to be coming at this fire thing from a suppression perspective. I would argue that the fire world is much larger than that. There are certainly a bunch of fire jobs that can be done just fine with limited formal education - say for example, a high school diploma or a technical degree. But there are a bunch of others that are professional, much as a forester or soil scientist or research scientist or ecologist, and there are already a few positions that require advanced degrees such as an MS or doctorate. The positive education requirement is one of the primary distinctions between a 460 Forester and 462 Forestry tech much as the distinction between a 401 and 301 fire position. I know several FMOs without the formal education. They are super on the technical suppression side, but really struggle with the "professional" part of the job, things such as trying to plumb "fire" into land use plans or even completing routine EAs for a project. (Incidentally, I also know some college-educated FMOs who are among the world's worst suppression folks - but we can save that discussion for another time.) But I simply won't accept the notion that you can do the complete fire job without a formal education (I.e., 401 series or something similar). At the same time, there are a large number of specialized positions related to fire that don't require the formal education (these fit nicely into the 301 series). Either we professionalize fire management and put it on the same level as the other wildland management professions, or we continue down the "suppression" route we've taken the past several decades. Now if you would agree to a unique 400 "fire" series and a unique 300 "fire" series, I think we could make a deal.

Puffin II
10/12 Namerif1

It is true CDF is paid portal to portal like most Calif. fire depts. CDF also are to have motel rooms if they are a certain distance from their home base. These are all part of their wage and benefit package and the fire is billed for it. This is why CDF likes the 24 hour shift.

FS
10/12 Does anyone know how to get the Scuba Diver qual on your red card. I saw on the Red Card Mnemonics page here. I asked my FMO about it and he said that he didn't think that they could put scuba diver on a red card. I've looked all over the net and I found no info it, so if some could help me I would be very happy. Also does anyone have any web address to wildland school in Lukin, TX. I would like to say that the Bastrop TX, wildland school I just attend was a well put on school with well qualified instructors, would recommend to anyone to attend.

Fireman Phil
10/12 Hey Wes,

Take it from me, getting a CDF fire/paramedic position was a long process (about a year), but as long as you have your national registry paramedic, getting your CA paramedic was no big deal. Basically waiting for the positions to open, sending in the initial app, then the supplemental app, and then waiting for a phone call. Then the physician's physical, the CDF P.A.T. test (nothing like the IAFF C-PAT test) and then the academy. By the way, I start in Riverside County/CDF on Monday. Great thing about this job is that I can work in CA and still live in AZ. With the way the "Goooverner" has been talking about state budget cut's, I'm continuing to reserve in AZ as a firefighter/flight paramedic and have rehire status as a full-timer (just in case!)

I still haven't been able to figure it out though, I was picked up as a firefighter II/paramedic but still on the engineer's list. I've never heard of accepting a job and still maintaining a position on another list (I'm not complaining, just wondering).

Also, it has been told to me by several "high ranking" CDF'ers that as long as you're a paramedic, your job is safe............any truth to that one Captain Emmett, Another CDF BC, anyone know???

AZ Trailblazer
10/11 From Firescribe:

Role of clouds noted in air tanker crash

for T.O.
Elite units take on arduous wildfire duties, San Bernardino National Forest hotshot crew and team in Cleveland Forest date to 1940s

10/11 Anyone see the newly designed helicopter fire suppression unit that consists of a 1000 gallon water tank with with engine, hoses, fittings all included that is lifted to remote fire site by helicopter and then filled by helicopters. Hear it is a pretty slick piece of equipment that was used on the Canoe Fire. Hear that an old smoke jumper designed it and its call a Uniengine or something like that. Might see a few more of those on fires next year I'm sure. Always nice to know that there are people out there trying to make a job on the line a little safer and easier to deal with.

Firescout
10/11 Puffin II, excellent point. I'd be happy to discuss it and give my view....

My feeling is not that ......as you stated "a series is needed and that the single series would suffice for all fire-related positions." I agree with you that there is not a fix-all series.

Puffin II, I do believe though, that any position that has a majority of its requirements, skills, education or knowledge requirements based upon one specialty... should be within one series. This 0301 and 0401 series stuff is lame.... If a position is required to have primary wildland firefighting experience and knowledge.... THEN IT'S A WILDLAND FIREFIGHTING JOB.

Administrative positions are fully meant to support a program area.

Program positions require internal knowledge and specialized experience and/or education to effectively support the unique nature of the series. Wildland firefighters need their own series. Wildland fire is a program.

Here's my last point.... There was originally A WILDLAND FIRE CONTROL SERIES. Unfortunately, the agencies found they could (at the requests of employees at the time) reclassify their duties elsewhere.

I'm sure one of the "original" Safety Firster's could chime in on how the standard was removed. If not, I'll have to dig out my records again. It's a pretty interesting story..... and it all leads back to OPM classification standards that say..."administrative or program work for which no other series is appropriate"

Times have changed, duties have increased, missions are different, and the need of the public has increased.....Let's get together and make a new and appropriate OPM standard for FEDERAL WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS!!

Lobotomy
10/11 The Jobs Page and the Wildland Firefighter Series GS-0462 (Forestry Technician) & GS-0455 (Range Technician) were updated yesterday. We don't have jobs pages for the following additional wildland firefighter series although we have been asked to provide them:
GS-0025 - Park Ranger Series
GS-0081 - Fire Protection and Prevention Series
GS-0301 - Miscellaneous Administration and Program Series
GS-0401 - General Biological Science Series
GS-0404 - Biological Science Technician Series
GS-0454 - Rangeland Management Series
GS-0460 - Forestry Series
GS-0499 - Biological Science Student Trainee Series
Ab.
10/10 Is CDF investigating the situation where so many inmates ran on the Canoe Fire that backburnfs described? Todd, you said (9/25) the incident was reported on your evening news. Where was that? What did they say? Does anyone know details, was a SAFENET filed? It's amazing enough that the asbestos forest was burning... Seems we could learn some things from that.

How about the CDF inmate entrapment/shelter deployment on the Devil Fire near Livermore? Any more info on that one? Someone did send in a link to the Blue Sheet, didn' they?

Anyone know where the investigation is on the Cramer Fire?

Tahoe Terrie

Devil Fire Deployment Ab.

10/10 The NTSB Accident Report is up on the air tanker crash:

www.ntsb.gov

Not a whole lot of new info there.

Another one:
I don't know how long it's been there, but there's a search engine for publications in the "USDA Forest Service Library Catalog". Today I was looking for information on the Blackwater Fire for possible links on the memorial page.

I found this fine FS publication online:
Fire Management Today, Vol 62, No. 2, Spring 2002 (pdf format). Perhaps I'm the only one out there who hasn't seen this stuff before. For example, great articles in Vol 62, No. 2, Spring 2002 (www.fs.fed.us/fire/fmt/fmt_pdfs/fmt62-2.pdf) by several excellent writers:
Mike Benefield- About the Way We Fight Wildfires, p30 (some insightful explanations for common perceptions of wasteful tactics in fighting fire; Mike, nice job!)
Karl Brauneis- 1937 Blackwater Fire Investigation: boost for smokejumpers? p24 (about the Blackwater Fire which was the object of my search.) and
more Karl Brauneis- Fire Orders, Do You Know Their Original Intent? p27 (which I have read before here.)
Judith Kissinger- So You Want to Be a Firefighter, p39 (Ab, we should direct newbies to this one, maybe a link on the FAQ or on the Jobs Page?)

Here's the url for the site if you come at it from the FS website: www.fs.fed.us/fire/fmt/index.phpl

What a wealth of interesting information. I'm looking forward to reading more as the rains sweep northern CA this winter.

Mellie

10/10 SoCalCapt (and others),

The job "series" discussion is interesting. Apparently some folks feel
that "a series" is needed and that the single series would suffice for all
fire-related positions. The variety of fire-related positions and skills
is large - from fire planners to fire ecologists to computer specialists to
various suppression specialties. Crunching them all into one series
doesn't make sense to me. That would be like lumping all medical positions
into "a medical series." When my tooth hurts, I prefer a dentist. And if
a child is ill, I assume most parents would prefer a doctor who specializes
in childhood diseases. Etc. Further, some positions in the Federal
wildland fire community have positive education requirements (e.g., the 400
series) while other series put more stock in experience, OJT, and
specialized training (e.g., the 300 series). This is similar to the
different education requirements for nurses, MDs, and others in the medical
professions. In this specialized world, I don't see how it would ever be
possible to have a single, one-size-fits-all series for the wildland fire
world.

Puffin II
10/10 Lobotomy, a friend of mine sent me this link that the NPS has regarding all of the different series you mentioned. He has one of those funky 0301 series jobs also.

It's pretty amazing that a single program has so many series involved. I agree that one series encompassing all of the wildland fire program is needed. Every other "specialized program" has their own series encompassing their entire range of duties.

www.nps.gov/fire/jobs/descrip.php#fireoff

SoCalCapt
10/10 A little "firecamp humor" is revealed in the kidnapping of a sponge. It was not just any sponge, but Sponge BOB Square Pants. The recounting of the story began on familysaid. For the threats, the graphic photos and some good chuckles, go to Sponge Bob, Kidnapped from FireCamp! Ab.
10/10 <G> palo, "new Governor in Caleefornia"
heads will roll, some oldies will bail out, others will get their walking papers...not necessarily the ones we need to be rid of in a timely manner. unfortunately there will be budget cuts in many good programs if no new taxes or fees (i.e. the 3 year Federal terrorist mitigation funding to states will sunset unless congress extends it - many FDs got a share of that pot, don't think any $ trickled down to the VFDs)

No governor keeps the check book or controls costs associated with mandated legislation without funding, the stock market, utilities, or the many other hidden costs.
ain't it wonderful, CA will soon have a new leadernator who said he will "work around the clock". it's gonna be interesting.

btw, I read the entire SB1049 = headache. it's the annual "budget trailer bill" that encompasses unfinished business after the state budget act is passed.
it contains a combination of fees for many including F&G sportsmen, dam owners, etc.
One portion of it is an "equitable distribution of the economic burden of fire prevention and suppression" in SRAs. yes, it is a taxation for most land owners and will put a workload/ fiscal burden on the many counties with rural lands. ($52.5 mil to CDF, nothing mentioned about mitigating new costs to local govt)

<not qualified to address PSOB or other recent wildland FF issues other than to say THINK SMART & BE SAFE ALL!

P.S. decompress, gather your thoughts, & write to your elected officials in your down time; state the issues, tell them the truth about inequities in WF including PSOB, aging planes, etc. elected officials have never worked in the same conditions you have; but you may have stopped a fire from obliterating their fancy vacation retreats!

River
10/10 In 1987-88 I was a "BLMr" in California. As a ENGB GS-5 ($7.42HR). On the many fires during those years, we worked with CDF on initial attack. In speaking with those fire buddies, they said that they were paid portal to portal. Basically from the time they were dispatched until they returned. Is this true? If so, then they had better watch out for the "Terminator"! He is in office now. Otherwise, I would like to now how they get paid.
thanks
love, NAMERIF1
10/9 vfd cap'n

OK, now I understand your persistence. Those who died in the van crash
were not eligible for PSOB regardless of whether they were drinking or not.

Mellie
10/9 Mellie,

The chapter and verse are quoted in part for the families of eight young men who may read here. Depending on what the actual blood alcohol readings were, they still may be eligible for PSOB. It would be a shame if they didn't apply because they were misinformed on the specific legal meaning of "voluntarily intoxicated."

However, I do personally believe those rules should be changed.

In my department, responding to a call or participating in training after consuming any alcohol is grounds for termination. We don't even allow response after drinking non-alcoholic beer because of the risk of our public smelling a "drunk" firefighter.

We summarize our policy as: "turn off your pager at the first sip, then leave it off for the rest of the night." A girl in Wyoming would still be alive had another volunteer heeded
that advice.

vfd cap'n
10/9 vfd capt.

I checked the USC - it says the same as the PSOB - no benefits to be paid
if intoxicated.

I don't disagree with your reasoning and thank you for sharing the
definition of intoxication - you are correct - there is a tacit shade of
grey.

In another vein - have you checked the NWSA Contractors' Code of Ethics?

Suggest you go there and see what they say about responsibilities and code
of conduct for contractors.

"Zero Tolerance" - take a look.

Thanks for the feedback. What a can of worms this will be. Let's see what
the what the prosecutors do with this one....

GL

Link to NWSA on the Classifieds page under associations. Ab.
10/9 So vfd captain, what would you recommend to your crews regarding alcohol
consumption? I have heard from a number of federal sources now that the
word is DO NOT drink on the job or drive after drinking if you want your
family to receive PSOB if, heaven forbid, an accident occurs.

We can obfuscate the the details of the fine print ad nauseam. Quit with the
quoting chapter and verse and tell me. Do you agree that those who do drink
and drive/drink and fight fire or who don't call crewmates on that behavior are
risking more than their own lives but putting at risk a major safety net for their
family?

Mellie

PS There are some very good comments on safety on familysaid from Nerd
who is a wildland firefighter vollie on a kick-a** crew.
10/9 Ab,

Attached is a Letter from DNRC Montana State Forester Bob Harrington in response to Montana's 2003 fire season. This appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Dillon Tribune, Dillon, MT. It is a rather long letter so I attached it as opposed to pasting it.

Although I am well aware of the problems the wildland firefighting community still faces with regard to safety, coordination, budgets, etc. I feel this letter is important to pass on to the ff community - to remind them they also need to pat themselves on the back for a job well done (year after year). I feel Harrington provides the non-fire community a good mental image of the efforts and coordination involved in wildland fire suppression - something I feel is lacking more often than not.

It also addresses in more detail the subject of the Missoulian article Firescribe submitted a few days ago about Montana's firefighting expense troubles and the call for an audit from the state government.

Heli

Thanks for getting permission to post and for putting it in html. Ab.
10/9 The responsibility for fire fighter safety is the contractor, agency, and individual. Everyone involved with fire should be responsible, not just the contractor. O.D.F has some responsibility for the situation with the contract crews. They created a contract based on cheapest resource, not taking into account the quality of crews. Now they have too many crews to monitor for safety, quals, etc. Other problems are communication with non-english speaking crews, and the quality of the crew bosses. Now we have lower quality crews. Lets control the number of crews on contract, and raise the standards of training to US Forest Service hand book 5109.17. Everybody needs to train to the same standards even O.D.F. We need to make changes now.

Safety Officer
10/9 Abs,
Two photos for your vast collection of everything fire:

1) Burnout in Cabin Creek drainage challenges control line on Winslow Fire's Division Yankee. Continental Divide in southeast Idaho. August 2003. Engine in foreground is 3000 gallon 6x6 OshKosh Tactical Tender/Type 3 pumping to three hose lays. (The burnout was successful and control lines were held)

2) Blowup on Division X-ray, Winslow Fire. southeast Idaho. August 2003

I put them on Equipment 6 and Fire 20 photo pages. Nice flames surrounding the tender - and don't miss Big Bubba and the Tendine also on the equipment page. There are also many fine new photos on the Engines 8 photo page.
10/9 Ghostload,

If you read the federal law (Title 42, Chapter 46, Sec. 3796b) http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/42/3796b.phpl, you would see that Congress has indeed acknowledged the alcohol culture within the fire and other emergency services by stretching the definition of intoxication:

(4) ''intoxication'' means a disturbance of mental or physical faculties resulting from the introduction of alcohol into the body as evidenced by -

(i) a post-mortem blood alcohol level of .20 per centum or greater; or

(ii) a post-mortem blood alcohol level of at least .10 per centum but less than .20 per centum unless the Bureau receives convincing evidence that the public safety officer was not acting in an intoxicated manner immediately prior to his death;

The FPPA sheet is however mistaken about the burden of evidence in the range of .10 -.199% with the presumption being for denial of benefits.

No matter how you read it, PSOB does not take a zero tolerance approach.

vfd cap'n
10/9 Emmitsburg
On Sunday I returned from Emmitsburg. I went as a escort on the Wildland
side to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial. I was unsure about going
as it seemed to be very geared toward the structural side (and is) I went
to support the families and figured I would roll with what ever I
encountered, not really knowing what was expected. I came away with a new
bond to our structural brothers and sisters, and a commitment to bring more
Wildland involvement to the event. I think I got as much as I gave on this
one, and feel lucky to have had the experience. In the future I would like
to see much more Green and Yellow in the Sea of Blue. I can not imagine
not going to this.. as family or close co-worker or supervisor of a fallen
firefighter. It was Huge, Awesome and healing for those who went.....It was
to me and I was there to support others. As Leigh Ann said to anyone
living through a loss this year I cannot say enough how important it is to
make the trip next year. I agree with AB it would be great to have one on
the West Coast ( Boise) and that may happen at some point with the help of
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation. After being at Emmitsburg it would be
hard to pull off something this Big twice in one year.( one on each coast)
It is many things that make it what it is, but one that sticks out for me
was the "Overwhelming size and support" , I hear there were over 5000
people there. It would be money and time well spent to support more people
to go back to Emmitsburg rather than to duplicate the whole thing on the
West Coast. I would like to see the joining of resources between both
foundations to make this happen. My hat is off to the National Fallen
Fighters Foundation, They manage a huge task and do it so well. To all
those who donate their time and money to help. THANK YOU!
DH
10/9 vfd capt'n you're wrong (or your info is limited) on the alcohol and PSOB issue.

Here's the link www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/topics/PSOBBeneficiaries.phpl

Under PSOB Program Limitations and Exclusions:

NO PSOB Program benefit can be paid:

** If the Public Safety Officer was voluntarily intoxicated at the time of
death or permanent and total disability.


THIS IS RIGHT UP FRONT ON THE BJA - Bureau of JUSTICE Assistance FACT
SHEET. (July 2001) PLEASE inform vfd capt that what he was reading was a
Colorado statute.

GHOSTLOAD
10/9 Yikes..... We Federal Wildland folks should be proud.... We NOW have 10 different series to describe our work.

Here's a sample from the most recent addition.

Vacancy Announcement Number: BLM/NV-03-214-MP
Position: Fire Mitigation & Education Specialist
Series & Grade: GS-0301-07/09
Promotion Potential: 11

Major Duties

This position is located in a Bureau of Land Management field office where the incumbent provides management, technical expertise, oversight and policy development to the wildland fire mitigation, education, community assistance, and legal restitution for fire loss and trespass programs. Incumbent has responsibility for wildland fire mitigation, including risk assessment, ignition management, program direction, and loss prevention programs, interagency coordination, and presuppression components of a fire management program at the field office level.

SELECTIVE FACTOR - Prior wildland firefighting is required in order to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the position.

KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES:

1. Knowledge of wildland fire management, fire behavior, and fire prevention assessment and planning obtained by firefighting experience and specialized training.

2. Ability to communicate, both orally and in writing with a variety of public audiences, political and legal representatives, natural resource specialists and wildland fire and land managers.

3. Skill in applying commonly accepted educational principles, systems and current communication technologies and methodologies.

4. Knowledge of federal, state, local, and other agencies, wildland fire and emergency management policies, practices and philosophies related to the following: Trespass policies, restrictions and closures.

5. Skill in applying and analyzing the risks, hazards, values, and fire history of an area to come up with a fire management and mitigation management plan.

What is the 0301 series?

GS-0301 - Miscellaneous Administration and Program Series

This series includes positions the duties of which are to perform, supervise, or manage two-grade interval administrative or program work for which no other series is appropriate. The work requires analytical ability, judgment, discretion, and knowledge of a substantial body of administrative or program principles, concepts, policies, and objectives.

Here's the list:
GS-0025 - Park Ranger Series
GS-0081 - Fire Protection and Prevention Series
GS-0301 - Miscellaneous Administration and Program Series
GS-0401 - General Biological Science Series
GS-0404 - Biological Science Technician Series
GS-0454 - Rangeland Management Series
GS-0455 - Range Technician Series
GS-0460 - Forestry Series
GS-0462 - Forestry Technician Series
GS-0499 - Biological Science Student Trainee Series

Please note that the 0301 and 0401 series has a little phrase that says...."when there is no other more appropriate series" THE PROFESSIONALS. All the rest of us don't fit into the technical series.

How much more evidence does OPM need for a review and create a proper series for the Wildland Fire Program?

Lobotomy

Thanks for the good work Lobotomy. Ab.
10/8 Just out of question,
With the new Governor in Caleefornia, who won't raise taxes, what programs
are up for the chopping block? What is the projection on the Big Red Army,
and its way of doing business?

palos
10/8 Abs,
History certainly has a way of tragically repeating itself.

When I read that alcohol may have been a factor in the death of the Oregon firefighters, it sadly ran my mind back to a news account out of northern Nevada in the late 1980s. If my memory serves me correct, an off-duty BLM engine crew heading back to their duty station died in an alcohol-related rollover with four fatalities.

Through the years and as recently as this season, I have witnessed wildland firefighters operate fire equipment while chemically impaired.

The fire community is rife with examples that this a destructively persistent facet of our culture.

S. R. Sparky
10/8 Mellie,

One of the ironies of the PSOB program is that it gives tacit approval of alcohol use by emergency responders.

According to a factsheet
www.fppaco.org/pdfs/PSOB%20handout%2012.02.pdf
prepared by Fire and Police Pension Association of Colorado, the PSOB rules allow considerable alcohol use prior to denial of benefits:

* .20% or greater blood alcohol level - automatic denial
* .10% to .199% - denial if evidence shows that officer acted in an intoxicated manner.

In most states a firefighter with blood alcohol level of .09% would be too drunk to legally drive, but the family could get federal LODD benefits without question. Someone might have twice that reading and still be presumed eligible until proved otherwise.

vfd cap'n
10/8 Rangerrash:

Check on www.msha.gov. They have a wide variety of accident
investigation pictures related to heavy equipment use…not fire specific,
but could be useful anyway.

Nerd on the Fireline
10/8 For those who knew Chuck and John, this is old news. For others, the
names of the two who died in the AT crash have been released.

Pilots killed in crash identified

Firescribe
10/8 I hope that everyone reading the reports of alcohol use will gain some
backbone (if you need it) in refusing to ride with a driver who you think
may have been drinking or using drugs. Sometimes refusing a peer
when no one else refuses first is as hard as or harder than refusing a
superior. Be a real HERO. Speak up (or disappear the keys).

Research shows that when one person speaks up, it allows others
to reevaluate and express their concerns as well. That one person has
a lot of power to make change. Research also shows that it's usually
hard to be the first. That one person often has to have GUTS.

For those feds and others eligible for PSOB, I found out yesterday
when doing some research that if alcohol or drugs are involved in
the accident, PSO Benefits will not be paid. All the more reason
to stand up and REFUSE.

One thing I don't know: Are there commonly alternate drivers on
crews- handcrews, engine crews, etc? Maybe it depends whether a
special vehicle license is required. Could lack of an alternative driver
ever keep that one person from speaking out? One strategy could be
to obtain the necessary license yourself so you can be the alternate
as needed.

What else might keep someone from speaking out? Culture/environment
of the organization. Good points on that Nerd. Anything else?

Sorry if I'm preaching to the choir, just going through my own
process of trying to understand..

Mellie
10/8 Hi
I run the Caithness.org web site in the far north of the highlands of Scotland. thought you might be interested in set of photographs I took of our local airport fire service during an exercise. The pictures are at www.caithness.org/atoz/airport/airportfireservice/photogallery/thumbs.php?0?3

You will find your way to other local fire service stuff on the site or I can direct you if you get lost on our large web site. Our county only has a population of 27,000 here in Caithness.

I have made a link to your web site in our emergency pages at www.caithness.org/community/emergencyservices/text/fireservice/index.php

Cheers
Bill Fernie

Thanks Bill. Welcome to the home of the wildland firefighter. Ab.
10/8 Rangerash,

Contact LA County Fire Dept. Heavy Equipment Div. or Kern County fire Heavy equipment for info on dozer burnovers etc. Nearly all Fire Depts that have dozers are also members of the Calif. Dozer Operators Group. This group of operators try to maintain safe operating conditions state wide by investigating any accidents or burnovers.

DC
10/8 BLM Girl,

I work for a municipality, a small city of about 12,000. When we request a data dump, for parcel information, from the county assessor it costs the city several thousand dollars. Multiply that for the whole county, and then by the whole state. I don't know what arrangement the counties have with the state on costs and reimbursements and all that bean counter stuff. I don't know how they will determine which parcels are in the State Responsibility Area (SRA ) because the county assessor is not set up for that type of query. Some counties may have a GIS system up that can be used for this purpose but I would guess the majority of the counties don't. My guess is many people/parcels will be billed for CDF's services who should not be taxed, oops it's a fee (wink, wink). I have received my tax bill, I own two separate parcels, no CDF "fee" on them yet. (Whole lota a guessing going on, semi-educated guessing though.)

My advice is, if you live outside city limits in California, check with your local CDF station to see if you are in SRA or Local Responsibility Area (LRA). They will know what you are talking about, if they don't keep asking until you find someone who does. The folks that live in LRA lands, as I understand it, should not get charged for CDF because in theory don't require CDF's services. Then check your tax bill and see if the county/state governments are charging you for use of CDF. Sorry for the alphabet soup talk.

Unless there is specific language where the money is to end up, I bet it will go to the general fund. When it gets there it will be used and abused by all.

Wonder what the new governator will do?

Retired L.A.V.E.

10/8 Ab,

I am currently working with the NWCG on the revision of the the S-232 (Dozer Boss) training materials. I would greatly appreciate it if anyone out there in the fire world knows of any accident/ fatality/ burnover/ entrapment/ rollover investigation reports or even pictures of dozers that have been involved in any accidents that they forward them to me. I have done alot of research via the internet and have found only a few detailed reports. My goal is to find as much credible and thorough information as possible and include these in with the course as case studies to learn from. We also would like to use the most thorough reports to recreate the incident using computer generated animation/graphics so as to better represent the incident in a 3-D real time view.

I think we have a great opportunity to revise the training materials using the most current information and technology to produce a product that is exciting and most importantly informative. My goal is to gather as much useful information as possible and help make this course revision a model for future course revisions.

Thanks to all,
Rangerash
10/8 From Firescribe, anyone go to the Australia Wildland Fire Conference?

Australia burning to learn better bushfire science

'Use ecology' to fight bushfires

10/8 Retired CA OES Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief of Administration, Dick Starr passed away Sunday, October 5, 2003. Dick had a distinguished career with the Assistant Chief of Operations for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, Solano County Emergency Services before joining OES in the early 80's. He will be remembered as dedicated professional, accomplished firefighter, loving husband and father... Dick had requested that there be no service. He will be buried in Hamilton, Montana.

River
10/7 Ab, there seems to be a problem with one of the job announcements on the firejobs page. I am submitting it as an example of the problems with each agency using their own understanding of what a wildland firefighter does. WE NEED A CLASSIFICATION STANDARD THAT ADDRESSES OUR DUTIES!!! And we need a uniform standard that applies from entry level to top management...... One series, GS-3 through GS-15.

Clearly this position is graded at a sub-level position and DOES NOT meet OPM X-118 standards. The person who fills this job would easily WIN a position audit review. Unfortunately, the person who gets this job will not know they are being under-compensated... both in pay and retirement... unless they visit this site or an officer of the FWFSA. Well... here it is......

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The announcement: Range Technician (Fire) C51.4264F "Skilled Crewmember"
The location: Fort Yates, ND
The Grade: GS-4
USAJOBS Control Number: 125248
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The announcement states....

"GS-4 is required to have 4 seasons or 2 years of experience which involved technical work which provided the knowledge and skills needed for work in carrying out fire management practices and procedures. The experience must have provided knowledge of some of the pertinent principals, methods, and techniques of fire management and a basic understanding of multiple use."

Does this agency not use the X-118 criteria? "6 months general experience and 6 months specialized experience"?

Also, this announcement states....

"This position requires firefighting experience. It has been submitted to the Department level for approval of coverage by the firefighter/law enforcement retirement provisions of 5 U.S.C.8336(c) (CSRS) and 5 U.S.C. 8412(d) (FERS) in the secondary category. Coverage will not be determined before the closing date of this announcement. If secondary coverage is approved, coverage of the incumbent will depend upon his or her past coverage."

Why is this a "secondary position"? ...... most everywhere else in the country, this would be a GS-5 Senior Firefighter and a primary position. So, if a person with these qualifications did get the job, they would have had to have been in a primary position for at least three years in order to get firefighter retirement.

Ab, I will be forwarding this information to the following folks for comment as read from the OPM site:

For additional information on this vacancy contact:
Carmen or Suzie
Phone: 701 854-3433
Fax: 701 854-7184
Or write:
Department Of The Interior
P. O. Box E
Fort Yates, ND 58538

Lobotomy

10/7 This is for the Brothers.......T99
Captain Emmett
CDF

High Flight
by John Magee

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

 

10/7 Of course the Humboldt Lightning fires are costing over 30 million. The
RED Army is getting paid 24/7 and "working" 24 on 24 off shifts. In
reality they go hide their big red rigs on any available flat spot as soon
as it gets dark, So if the shift starts at 0700 then you have an 1.5 hour
drive to the DIVS you are assigned to you might get them to work from 0900
to about 1930. Or about 10.5 hours out of 24. The only real production I
saw was from the Federal IHCs, the Inmate Crews, a Contract Crew, and the CDF
and FS Dozer Operators. The rest were pretty well as described above.

The 24 on 24 off deal might look good on paper but out of the 12 shifts I
was there the confusion meter was pretty well peaked every day. You did
not know which DIVS you would work on from day to day or if you would be in
staging or unassigned. Then you could get a DIVS supervisor who had not
even been on that division for at least 24 hours if ever before so it would
take 3-4 hours to figure out what was going on the Division and by then it
was the middle of the burning period and things would start happening just
when resources were getting in place. Would make more sense to have a
night and day DIVS on each division and give them their 12 hours in a motel
on the off time. Less confusion and more continuity.

Saw (rather heard) 85 firefighters in their safety zones on the Canoe fire
the first shift we worked on the Honeydew. Thank God no one was hurt.
Some crews turned down assignments on the Honeydew for small things like no
safety zones or escape routes and the team got Inmates to try it but forgot
to tell the Capt.'s that the assignment was refused and why. They also
refused for the same reasons as the other crews.

We were lucky we got assigned every day and spiked ourselves out several
nights so we squeaked by on the staging and unassigned deal that other
crews got trapped in.

Put line into the Pacific and fought fire in Old Growth Redwoods both
firsts in almost 30 yrs of this gig, so that was pretty cool.

They asked us to extend and then demobed us a day early. Go figure.

Just one firefighters perspective.

Backburnfs
10/7 Ab, again, well commented.

I’d like to say a few things about a culture of safety. I work in heavy industry, and safety culture is a very, very big deal. More than anything else, the institutional attitude toward safety shapes personal attitudes toward safety, and personal attitudes toward safety make safe workers. In wildland fire fighting, we’re largely young, we’re all (on some level) adrenaline freaks, and we’re generally more competent and confident that the average monkey. This leads to a certain ‘French Foreign legion’ mentality. We’re young and immortal, ten feet tall and bulletproof, and a lot of us haven’t got anyone depending on us at home. Aggressiveness, even a certain recklessness, comes with the job. More than anything else, we need to shape our ‘corporate’ culture with that in mind, and put safety first, from the level of the individual firefighter through squads, crews, to the people at the top who really do the strategic (as opposed to tactical) planning. I’m a vollie; my department talks safety, because that’s the right thing to do. We also talk safety because we’re afraid of the chief. We act safety because we’re afraid of the chief’s wife (our ‘den mother’), and what she’d do to us if ANYBODY got hurt, through their own fault or anybody else’s. We have a sort of personal accountability that’s hard to incorporate into larger-scale organizations.

I’m still working through my feelings about the FirstStrike incident, and about the T-99 crash. My gut reaction is that maybe if the FirstStrike had a safety culture like we do, they’d still be alive. My second reaction is that maybe they did; a culture is very, very hard to communicate, especially through the filter of the press. I’ve heard the sentiment that firefighting is ‘unavoidably dangerous, intrinsically hazardous’ and that, well, you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. I look around at my crew and rebel at that thought; these aren’t eggs, these are my brothers-in-fire and I don’t want to lose any of them.

What can we do to prevent all fire-related accidents? Hire older firefighters? No, then we’d get more cardiacs, more orthopedic injuries, and besides, once past 30 or so, most people aren’t crazy enough to enjoy digging line any more. Until we can automatically slurry bomb from space (while ensuring nobody gets hit), fire fighting is going to be dangerous. The only way to make it safer is to bring up safe firefighters, from the bottom up and the top down. No short cuts, no penny-pinching, just a thorough enough brain-washing job that safety goes beyond being a habit and becomes an addiction.

Nerd on the Fireline

Very well said. Ab.
10/7 Coyote,

I read this latest article you sent in, then scrolled down to the links of related articles at the bottom of the page. One was a piece www.newsreview.info written just a few days after the tragedy. First Strike's president was talking to reporters outside of company headquarters. Given the revelations of this last week, there is some troubling, hidden truth at the end of the comment:

"Those boys are heroes," Krueger said. "They fight fires, they save your houses and they don't think about their safety when they're on the job."

How sad that such an attitude was allowed to exist.

vfd cap'n

vfd cap'n, I appreciate your comments, but please, let's be careful with attributions. If you've ever been under fire, you must know that it's hard to field questions and respond to reporters when confronted with such mind-numbing loss. Some people in such a situation can do no more than retire to their office for a time to deal with their feelings, try to sort out their thoughts, and hope that a friend or a second in command can carry on with the media. Human responses are -- human.

In this case, one person under duress allegedly made that statement, probably as he lamented the loss of some fine young people. The reporter may have pulled it out of context a little (or a lot, who knows?), and now we're removing it even further from context. We must be careful here.

I'm not disagreeing with you in theory: I believe 100% that the "environment of an organization" is key for firefighter safety and that the "environment of an organization" is often reflected in what people say -- but maybe not when the shock is so great.

I'm just asking us to keep some perspective for the sake of the memory of the firefighters who died. Ab.

10/7 Re Canoe and Honeydew Fires, some stats:

Both fires together, cost was $30,750,500. Total size was 24,882 acres: Canoe Fire is 11,104 acres; Honeydew Fire is 13,778 acres, I don't know how that translates to resource costs. Did I hear some CDfer whisper "Spawn of the Biscuit" in less than positive tone? Now, whhooooooo would say that???

Spotted Owl
10/7 To EX CDFer and "Another CDF BC":

Why don't they bill the BLM on the Honeydew? Well for one it's CDF DPA. If it was federal DPA there would have been a federal team on it (less portal to portal, no hotels) and more federal resources. Also as a resource managing agency with a fire in the King Range National Conservation Area (which was mentioned in FLPMA- the BLM "organic act"). I don't think suppression is as high on the fed's list as CDF. CDF is mandated to throw the world at it- dozers and all. BLM is mandated to manage a fire for resource use as defined in the local resource management plan.

As for the Canoe- well it's state lands protected by the state- same general fund so I think it kinda evens out.

As a note- I heard some federal agencies did staff at least one CDF lookout this year.

Oh and to add to the fun- do you know how CDF is getting their billing list for that $35 fee? Having heard some questions by the counties and some rumors- I would like to know the process of how a parcel of land is determined eligible, and who does the determination. I've heard it's the counties who will be sending CDF the list of those to bill- is each county mandated to follow the same process?

Just wondering,
BLM girl

p.s. condolences to those lost- they will not be forgotten
10/7 From Coyote:

First Strike firefighting crews are suspended
10/7 Ab and all,

I've just returned from Maryland and the National Fallen Firefighters
Memorial Weekend that honored 99 fallen firefighters from 2002 and 6 from
previous years. I'm still in awe over the amount of respect and compassion
shown to all of us family members. It is a fine organization that exists
with tremendous purpose. We had the opportunity to meet many families and,
special to me, were the families of other wildland firefighters lost last
year. A few of us are going to work at wildland firefighters being
acknowledged more at this event than what they currently are.

In perspective, roughly 20% of those honored this year were from the wildland
firefighting ranks yet the comments, photos, etc. are centered around
structural firefighting. Not taking a thing away from the very noble
mission of fire departments, just wanting those back East to acknowledge
the environment that wildland firefighters are working in and the courage
and nobility that they show, too. I pray that we lose no more lives this
year. For those wildland firefighter families who have lost loved ones
this year, I strongly encourage you to make the effort to attend the event
in Emmitsburg, MD, next year. You will be among hundreds of people who
completely understand and it will be okay to cry, ask questions, whatever
suits you. My heart and prayers go out to the pilot's families in the most
recent crash.

Leigh Ann (Wyatt) Evans

Thanks for sharing Leigh Ann. I would like to get to that ceremony some day.

Another thought, how about also having a western ceremony at the Wildland Firefighter Monument in Boise? I know many families from the West do not have the financial resources to go back East. If anyone is reading from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, what do you think? Any chance of a western event?

One other thought on the subject. Onelick is a long-time theysaid contributor and wildland firefighter who lives near Emmitsburg and participates in the ceremony every year wearing his nomex. He wrote a personal email saying he'd be willing to make rubbings of names from the wall for family members. If anyone would like him to do that, please let us know. We'll put you in touch. Ab.
10/7 T.O.

If you are serious about being a shot, fitness is a big deal. You should start running now. The best way to get on shot crew is to get online and find the national hotshot crew list. There is a link somewhere on the Ab's Links page and on the FS web page. Find all the forests with the most hotshot crews. Forests like the Coconino have three crews, applying for forests with multiple crews increases your chances. Then through the forest service application page, fill out the forms, (you may have already done this, if not it is a little overwhelming the first time) and then pick all the forests with the most hotshot crews, I think you can pick nine (its been a while). After applying, call all of the crews you applied for, let them know who you are and how interested you are. Also you can apply for BLM crews on their quick hire page.

Good luck
Former shot
10/7 Ab,

I'd like to commend you for your well-reasoned and well-spoken comments
concerning the dust-up over posts on the tragic T-99 crash. It doesn't seem
right to me for any faction or group to claim grief priority or whatever,
especially when discussing it on the internet. A little dignity goes a long
way during times like this.

And after reading through the posts here in TS, I'd like to add one thing
for people to think about - it hasn't been shown that the aircraft failed.
I think it would be a good thing for people to express their grief and offer
condolences, but it's a little early yet to be stating that aircraft failure
was the cause of the crash. It may turn out that way, it may not. Those
pointing to the aircraft at this time may find themselves contradicted when
the facts come out.

Condolences to the families, friends, and wildfire community for the loss of
T-99.

BLM Bob
10/7 Ab,

This story from the Oregonian newspaper
www.oregonlive.com
should get some attention. Misdemeanor charges will likely be filed this
week against First Strike Environmental for the 8 deaths in the August van
crash. A grand jury may level felony charges against the crew and squad
bosses for allowing the purchase of alcohol that tragic morning.

vfd cap'n

Thanks vfd cap'n. Readers oregonlive requires a bit of a sign in: age, gender and zip code. If you're willing to do that, his is a very complete article. For other articles that don't require sign in, please go to the fire news page under current events. Ab.

10/7 Wes,

Having your Paramedic license will enable you to get a job fairly quickly in California. With most departments in California it is one of the minimum qualifications. CDF has Paramedic programs all over the State of California with its many local government contracts. You could get in CDF as a Engineer Medic or Firefighter 2 Paramedic as I said fairly quickly. Do your two years and you can transfer anywhere in the State where there is an opening. You can then select to field you want to go to whether it be straight wildland fire, structure, medic, law enforcement, aviation, etc. The CDF website has some good information on careers and specialties. Go to the Links page Ab has setup under State agencies and it will give you some more information.

CDF Firefighter
10/7 I am on a Engine and am now ending my first summer of fire and I am wondering about next year.

I am wondering what the chances are of me getting on a shot crew with it being only my second season. I have talked to people from some shot crews and they say the best way is to show up and P.T. with some crews. Is this something that I should do this year as well as early next season or just early next season?

From what I understand I should be ready to run ten to twelve miles and that may be to get the day started. Does that sound normal?

Which crews would be the ones that would be the best to apply to, being that it would be only my second season?

What month do crews usually get their hiring done? I realize this will change with different parts of the U.S.

I live in Northern California, but if need be I would be willing to go anywhere at this point in time.

Thanks to anyone who wants to take the time to answer my Questions and or just give me some basic information. Info would be great and any helpful pointers are welcome. They really helped last year.

T.O

There were some good pointers last year. Your persistence paid off. Good to plan ahead now. Have you thought about becoming an Apprentice? Click on "new info". Dates to apply have been extended until October 10th for the FS and until the 24th for the BLM. Deadlines are approaching. There's a post on the jobs page about it too and an invitation to email Cara with any questions.

Readers, the Jobs Page and the Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 & Series 0455 have been updated.

Please note that Stihl is collecting applications for its heroism award again this year. Check out the heroism award site by clicking on their banner at the top of the page. Think about anyone you know who performed an act of heroism even if they might have just called it doing their job.

Ab.
10/7 My name is J. Wes Haynes. I am a structure FireFighter in Maryland. I'm
currently attending UMBC to attain my national paramedic. Even though I'm
not ready to start applying for jobs, I am researching them. The truth is
I'm more into fire than I am into EMS but love the outdoors and mountains
more than both. Basically, I'm writing you to learn more about how a
maryland firefighter could learn more about getting a job as forest firefighter
on the other side of the country. So if you could help me out at all I
would really appreciate it. Thanks.

-Wes

Welcome Wes, maybe someone from the East who has done the process will write in. Ab.
10/7 To all:
Reread ABs message of 10/6. We are all hurting right now ESPECIALLY the air world or anyone connected to it. We don't need to be fighting each other. We all are trying to figure out why. We will always wonder. We will all miss them. We can't change what has happened. We can only try and change the future. Please remember them in your prayers.

R3 Dispatcher.
10/7 (tongue in cheek) tisk, tisk, so much heat, is it grief? hopefully recent perspectives posted here have caused people to think outside their comfort zone and outside of the proverbial "box"

* who knows which poster rec'd the initial information about T-99, or had to notify their boss or next of kin?
* who knows which dispatcher had sent them to or from a mission? whichever WF fire group we are part of, we are all cousins if not "brothers".

TY AB for your gentle reminders.

Buffy: TY for your comments. the CA CC program offered a great opportunity for many "billybadasses" to turn their lives around & go on to become professional FFs or similar.

I honestly believe being "proactive" to address the problems in this country is overdue; that is why I asked for insight and recommendations for contacting our elected officials. why is it that most vote for the lesser of evils in any election? why complain if no personal intelligent action?

Peg (aka River)

10/6 Reply to old R 5er.......................... Hopefully your 2003 fire season
was profitable................... After NTSB releases their preliminary
report, I'll send you my address so you can mail me that
check................................ Signed, NZ HeliSupt.

You have got to have tongue in cheek on this one, either that or else you have access to a mole in the NTSB. Ab.
10/6 Re the CA $35 TAX, er, fee

I wonder what the cost savings would of been if CDF'ers slept on the ground
and did not drive excess mile and time to hotels?
I know this will stir up some reply's but I to use to be a CDF FF and we
would drive up to 11/2 hours to motels for R&R

EX CDFer CURRENT PISSFER

Let's keep this civil, now. My guess is that we all would love a motel, time to time. I'm sure when the hobo spider bite sends someone to the hospital, the thought of a motel at night seems particularly inviting. Anyone have an update on Rocky? For those of you who missed the hobo spider info and images, here's the link again: www.hobospider.net/info/ The post about what happened is in last month's archive. Search on spider... Ab.
10/6 Dear Ab

I am trying to find as many alumni of the California Conservation Corps (CCC) as possible. The State of California is closing work centers all over the state. Corps members are no longer able to go to the Butte Fire Center for Training. From what I have been told it is just CDF and Dept of Corrections now.

The CCC is looking at a 20% budget cut every year for the next 5 years. The program will be out of existence, gone. My son is a CO and has benefited greatly from the program, he has a goal now to be a firefighter.

I would like any firefighters out there who can provide positive comments and support the fight to save the CCC to please go to the Save the CCC web site www.saveccc.org. There is a form letter to send, or write you own to the governor, the director of the C's Wesley Pratt, and whom ever else you think could help. We need all the help we can get to help save the program for all the kids who are benefiting from it.

There may be a rally in Sacramento later this month to support the C's. Watch web site for more info.

Also you can send e-mails of support to me and I will deliver
Buffy Bandley buffyb@sonnet.com

Also Thank You to all Firefighters for the hardwork, dedication and risks you take each day on our behalf. You are appreciated.

Thanks for your time,
Buffy Bandley
Strawberry, CA
Surrounded by the Kibbie, Mountain and Mud Complex fires.
10/6 Ab,

Here's a picture of the Shasta-Trinity CWN Helitack crew with a photo op
with Chief Dale Bosworth. This was taken on the Powell Ranger District
on the Clearwater National Forest. The Chief got his first posting as District
Ranger there and he stopped by to visit old friends and get an overview of
the Fires burning in the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness and Clearwater N.F.

>From the folks in the field, the Chief is a top notch guy.

Thanks,
Frosty

I put it on Helicopters 12 photo page. Ab.
10/6 In response to "Tired of people blaming the Feds'" post about my comment
about the Feds unwillingness or inability to effect rapid change in response
to continuing airtanker crashes:

"Hugh: Why didn't you say something to Congress when you were
in-charge of that fleet of aircraft in the 80's and 90's? The aircraft were
old then also."

Great point!! One that I am all too aware of. However, I was using irony
(seems unsuccessfully) in an attempt to show the blame lies with all of us -
including myself - who have in the past and continue in the present to
accept the status quo. My post also prompted me - after I hit Send - to ask
myself why I continue to use these aircraft as a current Air Ops Director on
incidents. Hmmmm.....

Regards,
Hugh

From the Random House Dictionary... irony - the use of words to express a meaning which is different from, and often the direct opposite of, the literal meaning.

10/6 here's the latest, on the oregon van accident.

www.newsreview.info

Coyote
10/6 In response to Tired

You have chosen a poor time to make provocative, adversarial statements to a large group of folks who are in deep grief right now. Yes, you singled out Hugh but you need to understand that Hugh speaks well for a great number of us. You provoked me out of my grief, however, for long enough to give you the following response:

I too have become "tired" of the deaf ear of the "feds" regarding upgrading our flying museum we call an airtanker fleet. Yes, I will once again write letters to all forms of congressional and USFS folks regarding this but it seems moot as we have achieved nothing through similar efforts in the past few years. I have talked to congressional staffers who say quite simply that it just doesn't stick out on the congressman's radar screen.

The fact of the matter is that nobody but concerned and passionate USFS insiders can do anything to change the composition of our airtanker fleet. Yes, the congress holds the purse strings but the onus of getting them thinking about the problem does not lie with one or a bunch of retired guys. It lies with "Feds" who to date have not been effective in dealing with an obvious problem.

To the memory of great aviators whose aircraft failed them.

NMAirBear

NMAirBear, Tired, Hugh, Tahoe Terrie, Old R5er and others, I think we need to remember that those who have been working on the ground dealing with the grim sights there, dispatchers, and others in our fire community are as upset over firefighter deaths as those in the air ranks. AT and air attack forces do not have a corner on this suffering, the intrusive thoughts, mental images, tears and the "what-ifs". AirBear, Tired provoked you. Undoubtedly Hugh, Old R5er or Terrie provoked Tired out of his/her grief and so it goes.

Readers and Posters, I want to encourage you to give each other consideration in the face of this tragedy. We are ALL in this together. It might not be a bad idea to consider ALL posts on this topic that come in over the next days as simply part of a poster's need to "vent to stay sane". Theysaid does serve some of that function especially when people die. Let's try to take nothing said here personally. Please write (vent) as you need to and think twice or sleep on it before hitting the send button. Alternatively, send it to Ab, not necessarily for posting. We have already gotten quite a number of those. We'll continue to try to do our best to moderate without censoring. The point is, whatever you send in right now, you may just be "preaching (or venting) to our choir" and the media who is reading here. Changes that ultimately come will be part of a long bureaucratic and political process.

As far as changing a bureaucracy, we think that "retired guys" as well as "Feds" (whoever you think they are) should all take part in the lobbying process. Many of you who write in here, whether retired or not, Fed or not, are already doing your best to make change occur at whatever level you can. Keep it up. We really appreciate that. In our estimation, we're all some part of the "fire choir" whether bass, soprano, tenor, or alto. Ab.
10/6 Hugh,

I have a questions for you. Why didn't you say something to Congress when you were in-charge of that fleet of aircraft in the 80's and 90's? The aircraft were old then also.

I don't think the Forest Service is low balling in training and equipment, you should know better than that with the salary they pay you to come and teach your courses. The technology is getting better on my Forest. We have all Model 62 Engines, a S-61N Helicopter with a 20 person Helishot Crew, and an Air-Attack platform that does IR mapping, video taping, and is in the process of gearing up for projecting images of the fire, to crew laptop computers on the ground. All increase safety.

I think that it is technology - of imaging, communicating, new hardware - that will help and open up new doors for us in the future. Hugh, I think you are the perfect candidate to lead this charge in getting funding from Congress to build a whole new fleet of Air-Tankers. As you well know, it is not an easy task that will happen over night, but when you accomplish it, what are you going to tell all the contractors, that their services will no longer be needed because the Government has taken over the Air-Tanker business?

All you have to do is read some of your own past posts about how the Government is greedy and not giving contractors a chance. Making change is not as simple as it would seem, is it?

Signed,

Tired of people blaming the Feds
10/6 AB-

Was reading the post from JW on the fee and it just got the blood boiling again!!!!

This is an ILLEGAL TAX! Is CDF planning on providing year round fire protection on my land now, or are they going to continue to close up shop in two weeks and start sucking coffee for the winter like they have for the last 75 years?

I already pay for fire protection to a fire district and county fire department. Don't ALL Californian's benefit from CDF Fire Protection? Why should a small segment of society be required to pay for this? I also pay sales tax, now I pay a fee for the same service-is this not DOUBLE TAXATION? CDF better be there year round now.

Then they are so scandalous, the politicians must hide the TAX in a bill that is nearly 100 pages in length. Are they now proud enough to have it right our front?

$50 million....someone was talking the other day around the coffee pot that this is close to what will be spent on the Humboldt Lightning Fires! Now there is some management there.

Why is it that one part of this organization can spend that kind of money on fires in a "modified suppression" area, while we bleed to death on the daily side of life operationally-no operational increases since 1985?

I believe the cost of the lookouts eliminated last year (22 remaining) was 775K. I bet that figure was eclipsed in a day or two on this little adventure in NW CA. Wasted $ and misguided priorities.

I listened a few weeks back as the Governor touted that he had placed the fourth firefighter on every CDF engine. BS-truth syrup needed....how about only in three units down south???

In these scarce economic times, we must be a bit more vigilant in how the people's money is spent.

$50 Million in a modified suppression area??? What the hell is going on? Bill CA State Parks and BLM.

Goodbye Grey Davis and Andrea Tuttle tomorrow.

"Another CDF BC"
10/6 Tahoe Terrie, if a plane or a crew is sent on a mission, doesn't it end when they return home (or sent onto another mission)? initial information was that T-99 was not carrying a payload, but returning home from AZ therefore still on mission status; Old R5er's statements are valid.

Trailblazer, considering the perilous nature of lasting employment with any CA state agency, don't close any doors or burn any bridges. (many state employees are getting pink slips now and more to come next fiscal year).

Hugh, please provide those of us who are interested in contacting their elected officials with some suggestions about appropriate verbiage, not boilerplate but fill-in- some-blanks type letter ideas.

BE SAFE ALL!
River
10/5 Ab,

Here is an article from Arizona Daily Star for this season called
Let it burn; put it out, at www.azstarnet.com, that you may want to check out.

Barry.

10/5 Good News, the Spanish Fire on the Mendocino National Forest is contained.
Thanks to Walker's Type 2 team and all the firefighters for a job well done.
So sorry about the loss of the airtanker pilots.

Northern California Resident
10/5 From Firescribe:

Another state besides CA that will have a hefty fire bill and indications that less support is available from the federal government... The Missoulan.com

Article about a computer program from the University of Washington that weighs costs of fuel treatments against long-term benefits in reduced fire danger.

Service honors 105 fallen firefighters

Those honored included five Oregon firefighters who died in a van crash en route to a Colorado forest fire and Boulder, Colo., pilot Gordon Knight, who was killed last year when his firefighting helicopter crashed near Big Elk Meadows.
10/5 Trailblazer,
The CDF physical ability is more like a scientific evaluation of your strength than a firefighting endurance test. There are 4 parts:
1) a grip strength test where you have to produce a certain amount of force with your grip based on your height & weight. You get 2 tries with each arm.
2) a leg strength test. You get on a bicycle and they adjust the drag on the wheel based on your height & weight. You get a short warm-up and then have to produce a certain amount of energy (# revolutions x drag) in a timed period (like 60 seconds or something). The lighter and smaller you are, the lighter the weight gets, but the more revolutions you have to turn. Bigger folks have a greater weight, but fewer revolutions to turn.
3) arm strength test. same kind of thing as the legs, you hold the handles on a wheel & have to turn it so many revolutions under a certain amount of weight in a short timed period.
....I know these sound like simple little tests, but believe me after each one, you have exhausted that set of muscles.
4) last one, they hook you up to an EKG, put a hose pack on your back and put you on a treadmill for 6 minutes. The treadmill gradually gets steeper and faster. All you have to do is finish the 6 minutes. They monitor your bloodpressure and heart rhythm during the test, if either gets too high, they will stop the test. Although walking with a pack and hooked up to all that electronic gear is weird and disorienting, if you focus on your pace, you'll get past it.

RG
10/5 Tahoe Terrie
In R6 the contracts read, with one driver you can drive for 10 hours,2drivers 15 hours. It dosen't matter if you have 20 drivers, you can't go over 15 hours travel in a day.

Coyote
10/5 No. Zone Helitack Supt.,

You are right about there being no evidence whatsoever that the Neptune crash resulted from air-frame failure. In my emotion I drew a hasty conclusion.

A friend told me yesterday that the visibility at the site was 50', and there were no air-frame parts on the flight path to indicate it came apart before impact. Fact is, none of us can determine the cause of the crash. We need the experts for that. NTSB is on it.

Tahoe Terrie

PS. Old R5er, T-99 was not on a "mission" as I understand it, but returning home after working on an incident for the NPS in AZ. I understand your point, but just wanted to clarify that they were not dropping loads or subjecting the plane to unusual stresses. OK Ab, I'll quit with the chatter.

PSS Well, Ab, I lied, one more to Coyote.
Coyote, thanks for the link about the van accident and alcohol. Something to think about there - how to really create an "environment of safety" in our vehicles while on the road to and from incidents. Rules won't do it. One thought for example. If drivers are going to be limited to a certain number of hours of driving time, does that mean that you can have 4 drivers and have quadrupple the number of hours in a row? If it can be done and money is motivating the show, it will be done by someone and we'll still have exhausted drivers who haven't technically been driving.

If anyone has information that needs to get to authorities investigating the crash, send it in and we'll send it to the right people. Ab.
10/5 A link from JR:
Volunteers recount tanker's last images
10/5 Hey Gang,

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and company of the Crew of T-99. We had the pleasure of having T-99 lay a bunch of mud here in AZ for the last few years on several fires. Like always, just an incredible amount of talent and flying ability shown by the crew!

On another note, I'm taking the CDF physical ability test in Riverside this coming week. Any CDF'ers out there who can tell me a little more about the test. I've taken the regular C-PAT structural firefighter sanctioned by the IAFF before. I know that the CDF test is no where near that level, from what I've been told be several CDF batt. chiefs. Just wondering how easy (or difficult) the test is to pass and if the different stations are run con-currently (like the C-PAT) or do you get a break in between event (since they want you to allow for an hour for the test).

AZ Trailblazer
10/5 Nomex Jacket

I am looking for information on CDF's wildland brush jacket with the
sewn in cotton sleeves.

Thank you,

BV
RFDFFPM@aol.com
10/4 My condolences to the family and friends of the flight crew on T-99. I am grief-stricken over their unnecessary loss.

I am mad right down to my core at the continued use of contract planes that are not only past their prime but were never designed to do the job we've asked them to do in the first place. NTSB has stated that the recent mishaps (2002) occurred due to airframe failure (C-130/PB4Y2). I will bet my entire 2003 fire season paycheck that they will find that T-99's (P2V) crash was due to mechanical failure. These recent accidents are not because of pilot error; these flight crews are some of the best pilots in the nation. I don't necessarily lay the blame on the contract companies for using antiquated planes; although I don't know what their maintenance schedules are like. The companies that the flight crews work for (press release 2002) state that as the pilot in command, the PIC has the right to say "no" to a any mission (I read this as mission or tactical flight; T-99 was on a mission flight). I am pretty sure that if a PIC says "no", they will also find themselves in the unemployment line real quick. I blame the companies for that.

I lay the blame for the whole program at the door of the US Forest Service. Empty or loaded, there is not a single medium or heavy airtanker out there that was ever intended to swoop into steep canyons, drop thousands of gallons of retardant and then pull back out on a daily basis, year after year. The design on crop dusters (SEAT's) are about the only planes ever intended for this kind of job. Design is the key. What I want to know is when the Forest Service (or combined land management agencies) will approach Boeing, Gulf Stream or even Airbus (I would hope not Lockheed/Martin since they are the ones who gave us ROSS) to design an aircraft for the express purpose of fighting wildland fires. Start from the ground up; build and extensively test the planes, then do a production run paid for by land management agencies. The land management agencies would then own the planes and can hire the same pilots and crews that currently man and service the contract planes since they have the most experience. Those personnel would then be civil service employees with benefits and also truly have the option of saying "no" to mission and tactical flights. I am sick to death of "outsourcing" which is what contracting really boils down to; it works, just at double the cost in dollars. Outsourcing is costing us lives too. I understand the taxpayer would foot the heavy bill for design and production of specialty firefighting planes but how much is one life worth? I would gladly support using my slice of the tax pie if Congress would apply it to something this important. Congress throws away millions of dollars every year, the military gets a hefty chunk of our money, even foreign countries get more of our money than the land management agencies do. Why can't fire suppression get a little bigger slice of that pie so people will stop dying?

Angry Old R5'er
10/4 Ab and all,
The loss of the aerial fire fighters piloting T-99 again remind us that the
actual fire line is not always the most dangerous place. In our thoughts
and prayers for those lost and their families, friends, and co-workers add
one more for each of us to be aware of where we are at all times in
providing emergency services. The goal is to go home at the end of the
shift and protect those around us so that they may also go home.

On another note, I didn't see much background about how the California SRA
"fee" came to be (I probably missed it!). During the recent budget cuts the
Legislative Analyst's Office proposed alternative funding sources to the
proposed cuts in the state budget, the legislature approved the bill. The
trailer bill on Gov. Davis' desk is 180+ pages. The SRA fee (about page 67)
projects a $50 million income to the department, the same amount the budget
has been cut for next year.

The Department is in the tough position of having spoken against the fee in
hearings and now is neutral because it is in the governor's hands. Plus it
will need the money. A potential problem is the affect on local government.
Parcel fees are collected at the county level. Assessor's bills have
already been sent to property owners. There is no way to add the fee to
this year's bill. If the counties are required to cough up the cash after
they have collected taxes for the year they will be left holding the bag.

Work safely all the time, most fire fighter injuries and deaths happen going
to and returning from incidents.

JW
10/4 Link to the article:
http://www.newsreview.info/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2003110030006

A message to you from Coyote:
TahoeTerrie

Here's the article that you wanted. But don't judge a company by the crew. They have many fine crew's I worked for them for 8 years, weren't to different company this year. But all the fires that I been on The Crew and at least One Squad Boss stands at the register To make sure NO ALCOHOL is purchased.
Coyote

Regards
Coyote
10/4 To the families of T-99, we here in northern Nevada send you our sympathy and may god be with you. This goes for the same to all of the pilots and families of the air tanker community. God bless.

Northern Nevada FF
10/4 Regarding the No. Zone Helitack Supt. comment: "I find her [Tahoe Terrie's
comments on T-99 crash due to aging aircraft] comments somewhat disturbing
blaming the tragic loss of Tanker 99's crew and the aircraft on the
aircraft's age. Granted the fleet is aging but the P2V Neptune has had a
very good track record and I personally know pilots who fly them regularly."
Well, we'll let the accident investigators determine the cause, but what's
disturbing about Tahoe Terrie's comment??
The only thing I find disturbing is that it is absolutely true on a general
and in many cases a specific basis regarding the majority of the airtanker
fleet -- and what's further disturbing is that nothing is being done about
it as a long-term solution (Denny Hulbert's efforts in R-5 with aging
aircraft testing excepted, but that's still a relatively short-term fix.)
We still are apparently no closer to a solution to this problem of flying
aging junk than we were 10 years ago - or even one year after the
independent Blue Ribbon Panel Report explicitly stated the problem with
aging aircraft. The Forest Service with the help of Congress continues to
low-ball its budget in just about everything: training, pay, equipment,
technology, and in this case willingness to pay for aircraft designed to fly
in the fire environment, etc., etc.
As a helitack superintendent, would you be willing to fly in helicopters
that are 30-40+ years old, and that are held together on a daily and even
hourly basis only by the extraordinary efforts of the company maintenance
people?? Or fly in helicopters that were NEVER intended to fly in the
firefighting environment with the attendant stresses of low-level flight in
difficult terrain, and only continue to stay in the air through dint of the
fine flying skills of these pilots - until of course something breaks - like
a wing for instance?
I don't think so . . . and if you did put yourself and your folks in such an
aircraft, I think someone would and should question your judgment.
Furthermore, as long as we allow these aircraft to keep flying, each one of
us is complicit in these tragedies - including myself who supervised the
largest BLM airtanker program in the lower-48 for 9 years in the late 80's
and 90's. That fleet included the PB4Y2 - ring a bell? And boy, did I ever
want one of those fancy "new" C-130A's up at Stead!!!
Something to illustrate what's needed:
I will always remember my first real meeting in 1986 with Nels Jensen (ex-LP
Pilot and USFS Aviation Operations Chief at NIFC in the 80's) at an
interagency aviation mgmt meeting in Phoenix. Another Flying BoxCar C-119
had crashed the year before - another in a long string of C-119 crashes.
There was significant discussion about whether or not to allow the 119s to
continue to fly. The contracting types weighed in finally with their
determination that we could not prevent them from bidding and being awarded
contracts. Now Nels is a real mellow guy, but it was clear that this last
from contracting pushed him over the edge because he stood up and said, "I
don't give a s___t what the legalities of this are -- or really what
everyone thinks, I just lost one too many friends last year in the C-119 and
the Forest Service is not going to fly them anymore."
And they didn't.
Bottom line is the USFS/BLM and Congress needs to fund the development of an
airtanker that is designed to fly in the fire environment. And they need to
do it now. Someone at high levels needs to get the guts to stand up to
Congress and tell them the truth. Otherwise we will eventually be rid of the
problem through attrition - crash by crash.

Regards,

Hugh Carson
Retired Nevada BLM State Aviation Manager
Air Operations Branch Director
10/4 Tahoe Terrie's comments on T-99:

I find her comments somewhat disturbing blaming the tragic loss of Tanker
99's crew and the aircraft on the aircrafts age. Granted the fleet is aging
but the P2V Neptune has had a very good track record and I personally know pilots
who fly them regularly. Having been at the San Bernardino Tanker Base when
all of this occurred, I strongly believe the current weather conditions
were more of a causal factor than the condition of the aircraft. I was
deeply saddened when we found out what had occurred and our condolences and
thoughts go out to the family, friends and co-workers of the crew of Tanker
99.

Signed..... No. Zone Helitack Supt.
10/4 Hey Ab, I am looking for an S-212 Powerpoint presentation or any other
teaching aids for that class. I didn't see one on your fire programs page.
If you do happen to run across one, please reply to this email with a link,
thanks I owe you one. ZC
10/4 Carl and John: These were two of the nicest guys in the business and words cannot describe the grief in the fire aviator ranks right now. Prayers are warranted not only for the crew and their families but also for all other fire aviators who will (one more time) have a very difficult time getting over this.

Fly high Carl and John!
NMAirBear
10/4 For the most up-to-date online articles on the air tanker crash, go to the Fire News page and click on AirTanker under current events. Ab.
10/4 Thank You to Jim for his post
I'm sure the friends & family of those who went down with T-99
will greatly appreciate his words....maybe more than any of our
words can convey.

Another sad time for the entire FF community. Our loss is enormous,
their family's loss is overwhelming.

River
10/3 Dear Abs,

I am so sorry to hear about T-99. This photo appeared in the online edition of the Sierra Vista Herald and I liked it so much that I saved it all summer...T-99 flying over the Ash Fire (Huachuca Mts., AZ). The tanker successfully protected the shrine of Our Lady of the Sierras and several homes on the hillside.

Lorena
10/3 Ab, this groundpounder wants to extend my condolences to the airtanker community. All of us who fight the dragon on the ground have benefited at one time or another from the ATs. My thoughts and prayers are with families and friends of those who were lost.

Strider
10/3 Ab,

I just came to the website after the season and heard about the pilots. I
send what ever regards I am capable of giving to the familys and friends.

T.O.

10/3 Ab,

I heard the news about T-99 while driving home from work, like getting
kicked in the gut. So very sad!! I met the Captain last week while taking
photos, what a nice guy and I knew he was a pro!

Thanks for posting the link to my photo of T-99.

May God Bless the family of the crew and the family at Minden.

Craig
10/3 From Firescribe, an update on the tragedy:

Two dead as air tanker crashes in San Bernardino National Forest
Associated Press
3:55 p.m. October 3, 2003

REDLANDS – A firefighting air tanker crashed Friday in the San Bernardino National Forest, bursting into flames and killing both people aboard, authorities said.

The plane, contracted to the U.S. Forest Service, was flying from Prescott, Ariz., to San Bernardino when it went down around 11:30 a.m., about four miles outside of town, Donn Walker of the Federal Aviation Administration said. It was the eighth air tanker crash in the United States in the last decade, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Sixteen people have died.

Wreckage was spotted in the foothills at about the 3,500-foot level, said Chip Patterson of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
The remote, brushy area is 70 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
The crash started a 1½-acre fire that was quickly doused, authorities said.
Forest Service officials declined to immediately confirm the type of plane. (more at the link)

10/3 Can I write here? My mom said I could.

I'm just a kid who likes to watch the big fire bombers help put
out big fires. They did good here in Colorado last summer. They
realy helped us. I am sorry one crashded.

Jim

We're sorry too Jim. I'm glad your mom told you to write in. You might also write in to the airtanker pilots board. That's where a lot of the pilots, their families and friends hang out. They're feeling pretty bad. Ab.
10/3 As the sister of a hotshot, I want to say how sad I feel over the
deaths of the 2 pilots. I wish I could give their families and all the
airtanker guys a big hug and tell them how much we love them and
appreciate their contribution to the safety of wildland firefighters
on the ground.

Robbie
10/3 I am at a loss for what to say. We are trying so hard to make
aviation safe and with all the special inspections and care we have
still lost another one. Our fleet is too old. Friends, fellow
firefighters. I am angry. I am sad. I am tearful. I grieve for their
families and for our fire family.

May they rest in peace. May we find some real solutions.

Tahoe Terrie
10/3 I'm sure you have already heard, but if not, We lost a Tanker on their way home from AZ, They crashed on the Berdo, just below Arrowhead. Have heard it was tanker 99, but not confirmed. Here is a news release from one of the local news stations website....

A federal firefighting air tanker crashed Friday in the San Bernardino National Forest, bursting into flames and killing both people aboard, authorities said.

The U.S. Forest Service aircraft was flying to San Bernardino when it went down around 11:30 a.m. PDT, some four miles outside of Redlands, Donn Walker of the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Wreckage was spotted in the foothills at about the 3,500-foot level, said Chip Patterson of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The plane had been released from a fire in Prescott, Ariz., said Maria Daniels, a fire information officer with the U.S. Forest Service. She said the area where the plane went down, about 70 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, is remote and brushy.

NoName

Sad news. It was T-99. Today I posted some AT photos taken by Craig Happ, including one of of T-99 from that he took September 27 at Minden.
T-99 photo


Here's one ABC news report. Condolences to families and friends.
http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20031003_1390.phpl
10/3 From Familysaid. Ab.

I came across this article about drowsiness and driving and I thought I would include the link.
http://content.health.msn.com/content/article/74/89360.php
New Jersey just passed a law making it illegal to drive drowsy. My first thought is how in the heck would they enforce it? But one segment of the legislation states that anyone who works over 60 hours a week cannot be driving. What does this mean for wildland FF's? Well, nothing since it's a NJ law. But does make you think doesn't it?

TazGirl
10/3 Hi there,

I am a firefighter from Belgrade (Serbia & Montenegro Europe), I am looking for a friend to discus about our job. If there is someone who is interested please contact me at aurel@EUnet.yu

P.S. I forgot to say that my name is Milovanovic Marko.
10/3 Idaho,

I know there are some associated with tool time....

Here's one for the fireline:
How 'bout "don't p*ss on any hot rocks or glowing coals if theres not a strong breeze blowing."

NorthernCA FF (I admit it, from first hand experience on my first fire. Almost had to call the medic for axphixiation, or however you spell it, I almost had it!)
10/3 Idaho FF:

How about don’t sit down on a hot log with saw gas ‘binered to your pack?
Or don’t try to fight back against a mean cow with a faller’s axe?

Nerd on the Fireline (from second-hand experience)
10/3 The Oregon News article link sent in by Firescribe:

With respect to the firefighters who died in the van crash, it seems
like the infor. should be released to clear the driver's name if he was
not drinking and driving. Asfar as having alcohol unopened, while
breaking the contract, it would not have put the passengers at risk.

Dr. Karen Gunson, the state's chief medical examiner, said this
morning the reports were "protected medical information" not
subject to public disclosure under the Oregon Public Records
Law.

This law seems like a crock. Was the crash due to tiredness or to
alcohol consumption or both? Will we ever know about the alcohol?

Tahoe Terrie

10/3 Spanish fire Update:

They've finished firing out the lines. Today they will be doing interior
burning using ping-pong balls, pending good WX. Fire size from the
perimeter is 6,051 acres, so that should be close to final acreage.
Approximately 60% contained...........

TC
10/3 Thanks for the memorial ceremony info. Mellie
10/3 Mellie

Received this the other day and since you were in question about the Memorial Service in Maryland. As stated program will be broadcast live and can be received by those with a big dish satellite system.

Hickman

If anyone wants a copy of the coordinates, etc, email Ab and we'll send the document.
10/3 Thanks for the Mark 3 info everyone. I think a 6 Minutes for
Safety Item is a very good idea.

Ab, this is the first time I've written in and I'm impressed with
the response. Anyone have any other important technical tips,
maybe connected with an accident or an almost accident or
preventing a potential accident? like don't gas up a piece of
equipment while it's running. ;-)

Idaho FF
10/3 TX Fires

The fires out in the Tx panhandle are too far west to affect my crews, but our fires are starting to pickup. We are starting to see a lot more out of control burns caused by control burns getting out and several lightning strikes.

Stay safe, Keith
10/3 Some sources tell me that the House/Senate conference on the Interior Appropriations Bill is tentatively scheduled for Monday, October 6. Others say it will be a week or more. Either way, this is our last best chance to influence “competitive” outsourcing this year. Go to http://home.centurytel.net/BehindTheCurtain/ and click on “Competitive sourcing update and call to action.” Also, I’ve added a transcript of the Senate debate on “competitive” outsourcing, under “How They Voted.”

- Union guy
10/2 From Firescribe:

Alcohol use investigated in fatal fire crew crash

10/2 Mellie,

The annual memorial is this Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 4-5th. It's sponsored
by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation - which is funded in part by
the PSOB legislation. Their website is www.firehero.org . Follow the
links to the 2003 memorial weekend and then to the roll of honor for those
who died in 2002 and years past. The listing is by home state, not location
of death, out of respect for the wishes of wildland families. The list has
pilots and contractors and a faller - all of whom are firefighters having made
the ultimate sacrifice.

vfd cap'n
10/2 California Rural Fire Tax:

It applies to SRA lands only. Not to Fed or local jurisdictions.

Information on any California legislative action can be found at:
www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.phpl

This site is the state equivalent to the U.S. Congressional web site
thomas.loc.gov

Most states have similar web sites. How about putting all the appropriate
state legislative sites on the links page?

Readers: find your state legislative bill information web site and send to Ab.

-=Dave=-

If there's enough interest and folks send in their state pages, maybe a page of such legislative links could be made and that could be linked from the links page, like the Type 1 and Type 2 teams pages. Ab doesn't have time/energy to collect that info right now. If we had the info, someone could probably be recruited to make the page.
10/2 Mellie,

The ceremony honoring fallen firefighters for 2002 will be held this weekend
at Emmitsburg Md. The Red Helmet motorcycle ride will take place on
Saturday, and the memorial ceremony will take place on Sunday morning on the
campus of the NETC/NFA. As for who is on that list you can view the roll of
honor and everything else for the weekend at www.firehero.org. It includes
the names of the pilot from Hawkins and Powers Aviation, faller Alan Wyatt
and also the firefighters from Grayback Forestry. Since there is not a big showing
from the wildland side due to being on the East coast, I'll be there in my Nomex
to honor the fallen wildland firefighters. Hope to see some of you there.

Onelick
10/2 I hope that injured firefighter is doing well and that he recovers soon.

If I'm not mistaken, there's supposed to be some kind of event at
Emmitsburg MD today honoring fallen firefighters. Who is considered
a firefighter? Who will be on that list?

Mellie

10/2 I’ve heard (anecdotally) that if you leave a Mark 3 running too long (no idea how long is too long) with very low or no flow, the friction between the impellers and the water in the chamber of the pump can heat the water to boiling (think about cavitation; all cavitation is, is point boiling). That would definitely do the kind of scalding mentioned here. I was trained always to keep put a relief valve on the outflow end of my pump with a five foot or so chunk of garden hose on it, and to always keep that valve cracked so that you never, ever, leave water in the pump chamber long enough for it to heat up. That’s to prevent cavitation damage to the impellers, but it would also prevent any possibility of burns.

Nerd on the Fireline
10/2 Mark 3 Pump accident

I had this happen on a fire in Idaho this past summer but fortunately
caught it and switched the head out before anyone got hurt or any damage
was done to the pump head. When I took the filler cap off steam boiled out
like an espresso machine. A quick switch of pump heads and we were back in
business. The crew using water decided to take lunch and didn't let the
pump operator know so the pump was left running with no circulation taking
place.

As the impellers in the pump head turn they generate friction and which in
turn generates heat. Normal operation or water use will dissipate this heat
as water pushes through the outlet and into the hoselay. However, if you
have the pump turning and are not circulating water, as in nobody is
spraying water or using minimal amounts, the impellers continue to turn in
the same water for extended periods of time. The water will heat up due to
friction and eventually will boil in the pump head. Potential for injury is
high as the boiling water turns to steam and pressure increases in the pump
head. Eventually this pressure will split the case enclosing the impellers
or shoot the filler cap off.

The pressure relief or recirculation valve on the check and bleeder should
be open just a touch to be sure that the pumped water always has somewhere
to go especially in situations where water use is minimal. This also helps
keep additional water going into your sump or fill site.
Another reason to always put in a check and bleeder even if you are pushing
downhill.

A good habit to get into is to periodically do a bare hand check on the
pump head. If the case is warm to the touch then you need to get some water
moving to dissipate the heat.

Joe boy
10/2 Idaho FF,

Years ago, there was a similar accident on a fire on the PNF. Without flow, static pumping causes the water in the pump to absorb heat from friction, which increases the pressure in the pump and hose connected to the pump as the water turns to steam. When the hose near the pump fails, steam and hot water can escape, poaching anything in its path. To avoid this happening, always use a pressure relief valve on your portable pump or NEVER shut the flow from your pump completely down.

Stu
10/2 The Collaborative Forest Health Act S1314 IS, $30 million supplemental
package attached to the congressional legislative appropriations bill is
expected to be signed shortly. To view the bill go to Thomas.loc.gov and
search for the bill by title or number.

Shot's Mom
10/2 I can tell you what happened with the Mark 3. It is called cavitations. This happens when you run ( most likely wide open ) without flowing water out the hose lines. The pump head turning causes friction and as long as the water is flowing it will stay cool, If you do not move water it will heat up till it turns to steam and usually the pump will fly apart and if the pump housing fails or the hose fails hot steaming water will burn you. That is why they put a short section of hose a inline Tee with a one what clapper valve in your Mark 3 kit, to circulate your water, Maybe this could be a NEW 6 minutes for Safety

DNRC Mike
10/2 Ab

A few days back there was some discussion on qualifications and equipment requirements.

When on a federal fire, is there not one set of standards for crew and equipment regardless of where or who is supplying these items (NWCG)? Should we as fire fighters and equipment operators insure that not only our own equipment comply, but that all fire personnel and equipment comply?

Is this not a SAFETY issue? Any noncompliant equipment or personnel should be turned away.

Regards
AP
10/2 First principle of pump operation: keep the water flowing. If not, you have to bypass it out. If it just sits there, it heats up. On a Mark 3 pump, you cannot circulate like an Engine. If it is drafting out of fold -a -tank on the discharge side of the pump, re circulate into the dump tank. If drafting out of creek, let a small amount go on ground. If you don't circulate, the water heats up to steam level. Possibly it blew off the primer cap or broke the seals and steam goes everywhere. All pumps should be capable of being bypassed on the discharge side. Put a Y in the hose on the discharge side.

ENGB
10/1 Ab, I read this in today's report on the Needles Fire:

Yesterday an accident occurred involving a firefighter working with a fire pump. The firefighter was scalded by hot water and received 1st degree burns on over 30% of his body. The individual was flown to Harborview Hospital in Seattle. This morning's report is that the individual is doing great and will be released today.

How could a Mark 3 Pump create that kind of accident to give him such extensive scald burns? They're pretty stable pumps if handled correctly.

Idaho FF

10/1 Hey Ya'll TX Forest Service firefighters,

Those 4 fires in the panhandle ENE of Lubbock, are those lightning
caused? Burning in grass? Is this the start of your season?

Biz, Keith, what you up to? Lg fire map

WI Moleskin
10/1 New Property tax for rural residents:

According to more news, it is SB 1049, it will raise $77 million from
your country folks. Looks like the city dwellers get off Scott free, too
many votes there.

Retired L.A.V.E.
10/1 Tahoe Terri

So far, everything on the Spanish Fire is going according to plan. If
weather conditions hold, and progress continues, should have burnout
complete by end of day shift today or possibly tomorrow. Then it's just a
matter of holding and mopping up. All the Folks assigned to this fire have
done an outstanding job. Projected fire size is under 6,000 acres.

Everyone keep your fingers crossed.

TC
10/1 From Firescribe:

Southwestern Region Announces Competitive Sourcing Results

Feds Approve Funding for Fighting the Bark Beetle

Bark Beetles on the rise because of global warming?

Senators hammer out deal on wildfire legislation The House and the Senate at work.

10/1 Ab,

Just wanted to let people know that the FS is letting contracts to us local fallers in R3. Could you look around for the news announcement. It must be someplace. It made the local news in the Prescott area.

Sign me Chainsaw Charlie but call me Bill

This is what I could find. www.fs.fed.us/r3/prescott
10/1 For those that are interested, as of around 1430 hrs. yesterday, Spanish
Fire on MNF was around 4,200 acres. About 1/4 of that is burnout, and is
proceeding well.

TC
10/1 Attempted to find that proposed CA urban interface fee legislation today, unsuccessfully. TY for the name of the bill's sponsor.
Unfortunately the state of the state precludes hiring retired annuitants and most contractors; your comments indicate excellent skills as a legislative analyst! you asked many of the hard questions few elected officials ever consider regardless of political affiliation.

< not gonna touch the CDF hiring volunteers! as it stands they are often the first to respond in an emergency; too seldom reimbursed for costs incurred, or timely.

River
10/1 TC or anyone...

can you fill us in on how the Spanish Fire is going? Will this one rage on until
the rains come?

Tahoe Terrie
10/1 Hey you, NCBrush6:

This is Minnesota, did you ever get out? How was Isabel?
All I can say is that I'm glad I'm not on the East Coast.!

Minnesota
 
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