December, 2003

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12/31 Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Even back in 1971, Federal Firefighters had a tough time expressing the dangers and unique challenges of their occupations. Check out what Richard Nixon had to say...... Even a past U.S. President was against firefighter reform..... but the "BILL" still passed.

www.nixonfoundation.org/Research_Center/1971_pdf_files/1971_0004.pdf (pdf file)

Also, I don't know if this has been passed around yet.......

www.rppi.org/firefightingalternative.shtml and
www.rppi.org/privatefirefighters.shtml interesting reading if you haven't seen it yet....

Take care all, and may all of your wishes this NEW YEAR come true... and STAY SAFE!!

From Mimbres, NM

Fire Cache Girl
12/31 Thanks for the info on the heliwell --

Has anyone ever ordered one (Heliwell) or seen one in action?

12/31 Ab,

I'm a former jumper and now an attorney in Lewiston, Idaho. One of the jumpers I worked with has a younger brother who is also an attorney. He injured his knee and got hosed by the Forest Service. While in law school he brought his own case, and after 12 or 13 years has prevailed on all but one issue. After reading Evans' post, I called him, and he is willing to provide some advice. If Krstofer would like to contact me offline, I'll do whatever I can to help.

12/31 NAMERIF 1, You said... "Remember that God is among us! You do have a reason
for this ordeal."

Telling someone who is injured that there is a God-given reason for his ordeal without
knowing his beliefs... is stupid, at best and downright mean, at worst. Have a little respect!

Sorry for this guy's insensitivity, Krs.
Hang in there Bro.
12/31 AXE

The tank you are referring to is stocked in a few of the Regional Fire Cache's, I know R-6 has at least three and I think R-5 has a few. It's 10,000 gallons and in R-6 is transported on a trailer and usually comes with a person to help set it up. Give your local Regional Cache a call.

One of the RS's (now retired)

AXE, I'm sending you some more info from "2horse" with a link that might be helpful. Ab.
12/31 John McGuire,

You probably already have a plan, but here's something we did last year for our crew:

We created a "mock fire" based on the field exercise used in S-244, Field Observer. I
don't have any of the pictures we used, but the Field Observer class might be a good
place to look. We included taking weather observations, using a GPS, and map and
compass work in our exercise, along with the fire behavior pictures (hung in trees).

It sounds like a cool class!

12/31 RE: Krstofer Evans
After reading your comments about your injuries, I can feel for you. I had a ruptured L-5 disc in 1999. It was a painful ordeal at the time, but nothing compared to what you had to endure. It seems ironic that our democracy demands immediate payment for workman's comp. payments on time as an employer. Most of the fire contractors understand this. I have had a audit by the IRS, which came clean. Although I had to spend three weeks at their "F"'n call. My point is, that you are no different than the rest of us when it comes to our government caring for us. Even the veterans seem to be put on the back burner. It seems, that from your comments you have done your part. I can say that you need to have legal representation write some letter for you. It helped in some of my procedures for reimbursement. I'm sure that the ones who read this page understand us firefighters. Remember that God is among us! You do have a reason for this ordeal. Nothing is ever easy when you have to rely on government. I can say you will be eventually covered. We just exist in a government that is reactionary and not progressive. I wish you the best, but never give up!
12/31 Ab......Here is a site that may help John McGuire and Ian Smith. It is the
NIFC page www.nifc.gov. They need to look at the Wildland Photo Gallery
link. Other items on the page may be of benefit also. Each agency logo at
the bottom of this page brings the user to that agencies home page here at

Happy Holidays and a great job on all the work you do!

BLM Engines

There is some offer of help behind the scenes as well. Thanks for that, too. Ab.
12/31 Hi all.

To see how we are progressing toward 2004, go here:


Have a Happy, and prosperous New Year.


You too, Hunt. Ab.
12/31 What NOT to do:

So a few of you may remember me. A few more may have learned of me recently,
through the recent story in Wildland Firefighter magazine.
Either way, here’s the quick and dirty:
2nd saw Plumas Hotshots, ‘01
Called to the Redbird RD, Daniel Boone NF, Kentucky (R8) around about 25 Oct 01.
Apparently they had a problem with arson.
31 Oct 01, 15.30. Struck by a falling Black Locust snag, while cutting line on
the Poplar Log fire. 30 some broken bones, including a burst fracture of T 4/5,
damaging my spinal cord, and leaving me permanently “confined” to a wheelchair.
I can no longer feel or move anything below my chest. I gained a small hunk of
“hardware” implanted into my back, made up of a couple sticks of titanium and
what look like a shitload of drywall screws. (Here’s an x-ray: http://krstofer.org/ebay.jpg)
Spent 5 months in rehab, first at Cardinal Hill in Lexington Ky, then at Craig
Hospital in Denver, Co.
Finally came home after a 14 to 21 day assignment in April of ’02.

I then began my experiences with the fine group of individuals in the Federal
Office of Workman’s Compensation, San Francisco office.
I was told, “buy the small things (less than $5,000) you need, submit the
receipts, and we will reimburse you.
They gave me a card with an address in London, KY and a claim number, to use as
my “insurance card”.
Said card works to open Dr’s doors, get my regiment of 6 different pills,
(2x/day, every day) and for miscellaneous ER visits. If you’re interested, 4 of
those 6 pills are painkillers, and the last two are antispasmodics. The only
feeling I have below the injury is pain, and those regions spasm uncontrollably
at times. Figures, huh?
Anyway, I have been buying things such as wheelchair tires, casters, (the little
front tires) specialized cushions, (built to avoid the risk of pressure sores)
rubber gloves, (don’t ask what those are for) a stand frame, a tempur-pedic
mattress, (again, to avoid pressure sores) and various other sundry items here
and there.

I’ve been submitting these receipts, first through my rehab councilor (hired by
OWCP) and in the last couple months on my own, since April of ‘02

I have also started submitting travel vouchers for reimbursement of expenses
while visiting my various doctors. (Neurology, urology, manual therapy, and
general practice)

Since April of ’02, I have received less than $200 in reimbursement. My receipts
add up to over $8,000. Why only 200 bucks? Susan Trist (my rehab councilor) and
I keep getting the run-around. OWCP says the receipts were submitted on the
wrong form, (the right one is apparently a CA-915, which we used) or said
receipts weren’t submitted with the appropriate CPT codes. (What the hell’s a
CPT code? www.aacap.org/clinical/cptcode.php) The book(s), which I need
to look up said codes, vary in price from 44.95 on up at
www.medicalcodingbooks.com/cpt/. I also find it interesting that the form
CA-915 has no column for a CPT code, and yet I need to submit said code for each
one of my receipts.

My travel vouchers? I’m up to over a thousand dollars worth of travel, also
denied. Because I left from and went to an unauthorized location. Apparently my
military and civilian home of record is not an authorized place from which to
begin a trip to the doctor, and a medically authorized doctor visit is not an
authorized place to finish my travel.

All medical expenses for which I have submitted receipts have been previously
authorized by the SF OWCP Office. All travel has also been medically authorized
by said office. Now, however, when it comes time to pay up, they seem to be
bending over backwards while trying to find ways NOT to pay me.

Supposedly all my medical bills are to be covered. I have recently began
receiving collection notices from my doctors, as they have not been paid. This
will shortly begin to effect my credit rating.

On 12.16.03 I went to the pharmacy to pick up my monthly allotment of pills,
Oxycontin, Percocet, Neurontin, Celebrex, Ditropan, and Baclofen. The pharmacy
told me I could not have said pills, as they had not received payment from my
insurance. Nice huh?

So the moral of this story is thus: Beware out there on the line. Pay attention.
For if you are injured in a permanent way, you do not want to go through what I
am going through right now.

You may be sitting there thinking, “This shit won’t happen to me”. Well, I
didn’t think it would happen to me either. I was simply doing my job, and now I
find myself being bent over when it comes time for reimbursement.

Krstofer Evans


Krs, if there's anything we can do - contact legislators, etc - please let us know. Perhaps there's a reader out there who has knowledge of how to work with the system to make it more responsive. In our experience, OWCP red tape seems designed to make people "go away" as soon as possible. Too bad it cannot be the support that it should have been created to be. Ab and Ab.

12/31 Mollysboy, I'm pretty sure that "another CDF BC" wasn't directing an attack at the "enviros"..... He was probably just expressing the problems that he or she is currently facing. CDF faces the same "enviro" problems that every land manager does.

All of us on the Fed side know that the "enviros" are a check and balance system. Sometimes the scale slants towards one side or the other. In the end, the balance system works out in most cases... sometimes not.... I agree with Mollysboy.... the judicial branch is important.... but equally important are the legislative and executive branches...... All three of these also serve as a check and balance system. THE U.S. GOVERNMENT.

Maybe, some of us who have been around for awhile (20+ years for me, 30+ for you), should sit back and listen to the comments and not get so easily excited and let people fully express their points. I know I get stirred up every once in awhile (every other day!!)... sometimes I get down right pissed off. But when I go back and read the posts, I realize that almost all of us are agreeing....... just agreeing differently..... We all have different points of view. We all support wildland fire in one form or another.

12/31 Has anyone else hard of/seen a piece of equipment
called a heli-well? My understanding is it's a large
trailor type water source. I'm just trying to find
out some information on if these exist.


12/31 Just a little info among my firefighter friends.......

Federal wildland firefighters are currently classified improperly in many different job series. The most common job series are: 0462-Forestry Technician, 0455- Range Technician, 0460 - Forester, 0454 - Rangeland Management Specialist, and 0401 - Natural Resources Professional (New title for this series).

Other series that wildland firefighters have and continue to be classified under and receive firefighter retirement coverage are:

0018 - Safety and Occupational Health Management Series
0081 - Firefighter (DoD only)
0101 - Social Science Series
0301 - Miscellaneous Administration and Program Series
0340 - Program Management Series
0391 - Telecommunications Series
0404 - Biological Science Technician
0408 - Ecology Series
0470 - Soil Science Series
0486 - Wildlife Biology Series
0499 - Student Trainee
0801 - General Engineering Series
1301 - General Physical Science Series
1515 - Operations Research Series
1670 - Equipment Specialist Series
1701 - General Education and Training Series
1712 - Training Instruction Series
1801 - General Inspection, Investigation, and Compliance Series
2101 - Transportation Specialist Series
2150 - Transportation Operations Series
2181 - Aircraft Operation Series

and Wage Grade (Federal Wage System)
3502 - Laboring
5701 - General Equipment Operation
5703 - Motor Vehicle Operator
5716 - Engineering Equipment Operator

All of these series have applied for and received firefighter retirement by the Federal Land Management agencies.
12/31 Hi all

This is to add to what the CDF BC had to say.
I have been fighting fire in so cal for 22 years and let me say this. the enviros are a major problem. they want trees and forests AND clean air and water. well WHO doesnt? but the problem is, we have to help mother nature to do this.

we keep putting fires out and guess what folks? lightning fires need to burn and arson fire need suppression. the thing is, we have to do fuels reduction and the enviros keep tying that up in court. look at nor cal. they have a worse problem that down south but they have just kept trying to get around it and the enviros keep blocking them. so as to what all you folks that do not live and fight fire in south zone CA or north zone CA or should I say region 5, dont get your hearts all in a bind because we are here to do a job and if it burns, did you start it? if not, then do what you can and watch the big fire go.

as for all the people that care about their forests that do not work in them, let us do what needs to be done clearing brush logging out overgrown stands of timber and use more prevention techniques instead of suppression.

12/30 Ab....further to John McGuire's request for visuals. I've just finished
giving a 10-day course on Fire Management, Behavior and Ecology for our
local Community College's Forest Technician program and would also
appreciate any info/pics/etc. that I could incorporate into the next course
(still 2 years away, but....). Links to websites, documentation or any other
info would all help with my objectives of education and training people to
be safe in a dangerous environment.

Would it be easiest to post somewhere on the Wildland Fire site or can info
be forwarded with little hassle?


Ian Smith
Northern Lights College
Chetwynd, BC

We can post or forward if someone sends in materials. Photos available here can be used for training purposes if you have any requests. Ab.
12/30 Mellie...the independent study you cited: "Command Decisions During
Catastrophic Interface Wildfire
", was created by a BC from Orange County
Fire, Mike Rohde. A few interesting observations about his report;

1. It was completed prior to the 2003 Southern California wildfires and
predicted most of the events that came to pass
2. The Lessons Learned study confirms most of the findings in the Rohde
study and reinforces some changes are needed.

Reading both studies, the first thing that comes to mind is that we need to
rethink how we incorporate structure protection into ICS. What is the role
of the Structure Protection Specialist? And if structure protection is
generally considered to be "initial attack" and is a bad thing, something to
be organized away....how can you still call it initial attack if you're still
doing it in a very organized fashion for 3-4 or 5 days in a row like we did
in Southern California? Seems like the current organization doesn't match
the facts. Some changes are needed!

Local Government Chief
12/30 RM:

In July 1993, NWCG defined Entrapment as

"a situation where personnel are unexpectedly caught in a fire behavior-related, life threatening position where escape routes or safety zones are absent, inadequate or have been compromised. An entrapment may or may not include the use of a fire shelter for its intended purpose. These situations may or may not result in injuries. They include 'near misses'."

While it isn't exactly a "burnover" definition, it's close??

Dick Mangan

12/30 Heard that the Cramer Report will be released in mid-January 2004.

12/30 Greetings.

I'll be teaching a college level (semester long) course on forest fire
management. The course is designed to instruct students not only on
wildland fire suppression techniques but also the use of prescribed
fire. I've intended for the course to be very hands on. However, it is
difficult to test students on hands-on applications. One thing I do
have an interest in is showing them pictures of different scenarios and
having them describe the situations. For example, show a poorly formed
smoke column and have them describe atmospheric stability for that day.
Another could simply be a picture of a watch out situation and have them
describe what the actual watch out situations are in the picture. I'm
trying to find a source of such images. If you know someone or
somewhere that I can find such images, I'd be much obliged.

Thank you in advance for any direction.

John McGuire
Auburn University, AL

Readers, does anyone have particular training photos that might match John's needs? We'd be happy to pass them on. Ab.
12/30 Ab:

Just a short note to you and your staff .
Thankyou for giving to all of us a place to learn, communicate and share of ourselves.
Have a happy and prosperous new year.

Thanks :

Thanks for the thanks, johnny. The staff <haw haw> and I appreciate it. Ab.
12/30 Hey Ab,

I was wondering what is up..... I have sent in two post inquiring about info on the Cramer
fire fatalities and haven't seen either one of them appear on "they said". I am wondering if
the info is so top secret that we can't even discuss it on the board??

Just checking

No conspiracy, just on the road with a million junkmails in the box. Ab.
12/30 Az. Trailblazer.

I am Levi's mom and I have a copy of the picture. . Ab can give you our email address
and when we hear from you I will scan it off for you.

Thanks for remembering.

12/30 Tommy, you were looking for a sharpening guide, try the NFES Catalog,
NFES 0510 - GAUGE, sharpening - fireline handtools, Page 101. cost is

12/30 BRAVO!!! So well said! You are expressing widespread sentiments and frustration of the old (but post 10 AM policy) echelon of wildland firefighters so exactly, so perfectly!

Thank you so much for the time you spent in SoCal! A career event, huh?

Can we freely share your post with the entrenched bureaucracies we work for who still just don't get it?

12/30 The comments that "Another CDF BC" offered on the Firestorm Summary were interesting to read, and I found myself mostly agreeing with her/him, right up until the very end. Then, her/his comments about the need to ".....put the enviros in their proper place" really set me off. Last time I looked (and judging from the Court rulings that I read), the "enviros" are in exactly the right place: they read the LAW, and ask the Agencies to follow the LAW. When the Agencies don't, they go to the 3rd branch of our government (the Judicial) and ask them to forget about the current political situation that has the Administration and Legislative branches ignoring the LAWS that they passed and signed, but instead to make the Agencies uphold them!

My 30+ years of experience on the Fed side of Fire Management have allowed me to work in a wide variety of States, under many political climates (with both left-wing Hippies, and right-wing Red Neck Bushies). What I've seen is that folks who are "anti-Enviro" totally support fuels treatments UNTIL you try it in their backyards. They want their trees, their privacy, don't want smoke from prescribed fires during the Spring BBQ season, are concerned about escaped fires, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! Long-haired hippies and 3-piece suited Republican lawyers are arm-in-arm, marching lock-step against fire folks that want to reduce the fuel load, make the homes safer, and most importantly, reduce unnecessary risks to firefighters.

Maybe the people that should be "....put in their proper place" are the homeowners who chose to build in fire-prone areas (in California, New Mexico, Long Island, Australia or Florida), and expect us firefighters to risk our lives because of their stupidity! Specifically addressing the concerns about what happened in SoCal........has anyone out there never heard about the Fire & Flood cycle down there?? Is this something new since "Enviros" showed up on the scene? When I was sent to large fires in SoCal in the 1960's and 70's, the diversion canals were already in place: A long time before NEPA ,the Endangered Species Act, Clean Air, Clean Water, etc. I've always read that it was a fact of life in that area for hundreds of years?

One last thought for "Another CDF BC" that has nothing to do with wildland fire, but lots to do with Quality of Life: it was probably those same "enviros" that prevented the Feds from drilling off the coast of SoCal. Would life be better for the folks in SoCal if those "enviros" from around the State and the rest of the US were put "....in their proper place"??

12/30 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 have been updated. Ab.
12/29 We recently had a discussion about the definition of a burn over. I went to
the glossary to see what the definition was there but was unable to find
it. I think this is an important word that should be added to the glossary
of firefighter terms.

12/29 AB-

I finished a quick read on the Firestorm summary (567 K pdf file) and found it quite interesting. I wonder really if management will seriously consider any of the findings, recommendations, or comments included.

I wasn't interviewed for the piece, but definitely identified with many of the observations. I would like to see a serious debate here on "they said it" about the perimeter control issue.

Having "been there" down south during the heat of things, I take issue with the concept that perimeter control was impossible. I saw first hand what limited, but well trained and experienced resources can do in a urban interface fire.

We can begin to make headway, but it takes a little imagination and the will to do it by those involved.

I agree that the ICS planning cycles were no match for this, given that, many STL's and local overhead put together working plans and implemented them, in spite of "the team."

As far as pre-plans go, I value them, but I saw a lot of people throwing their hands in the air as "hopeless" and not looking at the burning conditions directly in front of them. Yes, there were GIANT runs, but there were equally situations where handlines, dozers, and hoselays would work just fine-and they did.

Where those situations were observed and taken advantage of, the fire was stopped. Take a look at the maps and see for yourselves.

I-Zone training is teaching a bunch of our fire service to be "robots." Put your two lines on the ground, walk around your house, and your, "doing shit, man." I don't think so. Train your people instead on reflex time on how long it takes to get your "stuff" deployed and picked up. BE FLEXIBLE-not necessarily mobile (hard to describe and articulate). Have true "situational awareness."

Definitely get folks back in to the area to MOP UP the residual fires. Code 3 lights on in the driveway standing there IS NOT THE WAY TO DO IT. More smoking foundations to come doing that AGAIN.

4 firefighters on an engine is a must-WAY OVERDUE. We could have done a lot more where we were at. How come we can't get the politicians to figure this simple concept out. Need to sit them down in a room and run a loop of Fram oil filter commercials until they walk out chanting, "You can pay me now, or pay me later."

WHAT EXACTLY IS A STRUCTURE SPECIALIST? Can someone tell me what exactly that person identified on the 203 does?

800 megahertz frequencies are BS in this world, how did that happen? I believe we call that COMMUNICATIONS (isn't that one of the basic four food groups we operate on)? And don't tell me it's the wildland agencies job to conform to local government, it's the other way around, folks.

By the way, how is it you can check into a federal type 1 incident base and the first question (or form to fill out actually) is "have you had entrapment avoidance training, and if so, when?" What, excuse me? Come on people, this is what IS WRONG with the system-you're asking me that in OCTOBER IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA?

Isn't that why we have training officers, fire captains, and training packages and hiring in the SPRING? By the way, spot on for addressing the "seasonal" issue. It has LONG past it's usefulness, full time, year round firefighters ASAP.

The work rest cycle comments were right on the money. Now there's a way to make friends in the community, tell the homeowner who's been out there "on the line" (in his front yard) for 72+ that "you" need to go off shift to get some rest after 12. This is where management is TOTALLY out of touch with reality. As you can see, many in the field and on the line weighed in appropriately on this issue-to their credit! I'm sure the management teams were quietly thankful too.

I liked the comment about running a 12 month fire season on an 8 month budget-THANK YOU, now let's get someone to do something about it. How can we lay off firefighters as we're getting the highest indices of the year and then days later try and send everyone to the fires?

One thing surely is true, these are agreeably the fires of the normal and future, they are not flukes. People better wake up and put the enviros in their proper place. How much damage to the environment has been done in Waterman Canyon as a result of these fires compared to what a planned fuel reduction project would have done?

I thought that's what you'd say.

One final thought, structure protection is putting the fire out. This is defined simply as "perimeter control."

Here's to a lively debate about this document.

"Another CDF BC"
12/29 Hi All

I saw the picture of Bravo 10 posted on the site and thought it would be
nice to share a little background on the crew. They are a mexican AD crew
out of Tecate hosted by the Cleveland National Forest. The forest put the
crew through an extensive training process prior to the 2003 fire season,
and provides a crew boss whenever the crew is activated. The forest used
them several times during this past fire season, and has gotten great
reviews about their work. Bravo 10 was an excellent addition to our

Socal Dispatcher
12/28 famous Prineville Hotshot photo


I am in need of some help. Back in '95, I had a blown up photo of the July 4th 1994 picture of the Prineville IHC framed and a bunch of my folks (my NPS days) had a plaque inscribed "we will never forget" placed on the picture frame.

Unfortunately, someone else has decided that this picture means a little more for themselves than for all to see in my office. This wouldn't really have bothered me as much, but due to the fact that Kathy Beck, Levi Brinkley, and Tami Bickett, were personal friends of mine, I take it a little personal.

My reasoning for writing this email is that I am hoping that someone out there may have a copy of the print or even have it on file somewhere in their computer and wouldn't mind emailing it to me in a jpeg file. My plan is to replace the photo, engraving and frame included and place it upon the front office's wall.

Any help would be great!

Happy Holidays to all!
AZ Trailblazer

Ya goin'ta put an alarm on it? Ab.
12/28 Does any one out there know where I can find a forestry sharpening jig, for
sharpening fire tools. Western Fire Equipment does not seem to be around
any more.

12/28 Emergency cell phone numbers

Here's the real thing, the links are compliments of Kelly:
There are other links to lists at the bottom of the page.

and more info on everything you wanted to know from wireless 911 history... to everything else about how the system works and the inherent SNAFUs...


12/28 just heard from a friend in Louiseeeeeeeannna
"Thanks for this info. However, the State of Louisiana has the wrong info.
We ARE 9-1-1 statewide and the number listed for emergencies is only for the Causeway Bridge Police over Lake Pontchartrain. That's only 26 miles. So, I have to wonder how many other of these are incorrect?
I printed it out and put one in my glove compartment in my SUV. Just in case...........

someone from Sarasota, FL, not a FF or emergency services type, implied all of FL uses 911.

Maybe that list needs to be vetted for errors or potential user access, sorry!


Vetting sounds good. In this day and age of all risk and homeland security, it seems like such an emergency cell phone list should have already been vetted. AAA? Anyone know? Ab.
12/28 Ab-

In Texas 911 also works, instead of getting the state PD youll get the local PD or county SO. They can normally respond faster than the State Troopers can, plus they can dispatch the local FD and EMS faster. In a car wreck you have that Golden hour to get the victim to the Hospital.

Fireman Phill
12/27 Here's a new report I came across today, available via the Lessons Learned Center.

It's a 567 K pdf file.
Southern California Firestorm 2003
: An Information Collection Team (ICT) Report for the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

also this 119 K independent study
Command During Catastrophic Interface Wildfires

The Lessons Learned Center can be found on the links page, the last link under safety. Interesting website to browse.


12/27 Ab-

My cousin is a Jersey state trooper, and passed this
info along:

In addition to calling 911, motorists in New Jersey
can call #77 from their cell phones to report
aggressive/dangerous drivers. However, it is illegal
in New Jersey to operate a cell phone while driving,
unless a headset is used, so be careful.

12/27 < glad to see "Aberdeen" thinks beyond the numbers programmed into his/her personal cell phone when crossing area code boundaries... others may not, TY for pointing that out. heads up to all: O/S FFs en route to a fire assignment, or joe-business traveler/vacationer/sr citizen in their motorhome - anyone who may read this website.

addendum: my WFF t-shirt and lapel pins arrived in the mail today - the
t-shirt is somewhat larger than anticipated; I ordered XL to be on the safe side. I will proudly wear a larger than normal shirt until I order a smaller size, or grow into this one <snicker

Best wishes for a safer NEW YEAR ALL

12/27 From Firescribe:

The official update on the Baron crash at Missoula MT:
"the aircraft subsequently collided with an open pasture"


Glad everyone is OK. Ab.
12/26 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 have been updated. Will the person who sent the Mendocino IHC outreach announcement please resend it? I am working off my laptop and don't have the email available. Ab.
12/26 Yeah, I'd like a list of emergency phone numbers for when I go "out-of-state" on assignments: but, y'all remember to put in the area code too, please. See, there are a few of us who regularly read/lurk/contribute to this WebSite that live in States with only ONE Area Code (Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, etc.....). We always give a simple 7 digit phone number, 'cause all our Home Boys and Girls know that the Area Code is the same state-wide! The folks in States that have 2 area codes like Orygun (503 & 541) would probably like it too.

Damn.....did I give away a secret: there are still Western forested States that have large wildfire problems, yet less than 1,000,000 residents (except during deer & elk season.) and only need 1 Area Code to serve everyone??

Same thing goes for folks that send in posts dealing with "...FKU going on an assignment": thought part of the ICS game was to prefix the designator with the State identifier?? So, I ask myself, where is the Oklahoma FKU going....? Or, is it Florida FKU ?? Ah!! A New Jersey FKU unit!! I know for sure it's not in the WY/SD/MT/ND State designators.

All kidding aside........we're all part of a much bigger world these days, and need to remember that the reason ICS is a success is because it recognizes the uniqueness of everyone that comes to the wildfire scene, no matter what their point of origin.


I posted Northzone5's message below before finishing the page of emergency cell phone numbers. (Got distracted by someone playing with a new present.) Anyway, see the emergency numbers page: link is in the next post. I think it's interesting that a number of states around the country without 911 have the same 800 phone number. What's with that? If there's a number for Hawaii, please send it in. That one wasn't on the list. Ab.
12/26 Ab,

Someone sent me a listing of important emergency phone numbers for various states,
it might be invaluable to those who travel out of state.


Thanks for the info. Here's the Emergency Cell Phone Numbers page. I put a link to it on the Links page, the first one under State. Ab.

12/26 Hello.

I was wondering if you might be able to help me find Adam Michael Jones. My husband's
son, he hasn't seen in 25 years.

I know he works fighting fires for Wildland. I believe he may be stationed in Eugene.

He's 30 years old. Adam has a young son, around 2 or 3.

If there is anyway you might be able to help or send this letter on to Adam I'd appreciate
very much.

I've tried all the net detective programs with no help.

Trying to reunite the father and son.

Thanks, Valencia Jones
12/26 From Firescribe:

Christmas present from the Feds, critical for fire rehab.
U.S. grant rescues state tree nursery
12/26 There are some bad mudslides in Old Waterman Canyon where the Old Fire was lit off by
some yahoo. If they catch him, I hope they credit him with the deaths there as well as with
the deaths on the fire.

Please be safe this holiday season, people.


Article on it:
Deadly Mudslides Rip Through Fire-Ravaged Areas

I added a Mudslide category to the Current Events list on the Fire News page. Ab.

12/26 To the Abs and all the Lurkers:

Merry Christmas,
and a Safe New Year...


(P.S.: Photo is Division Yankee, Winslow Fire, Targhee National Forest, August 2003)

Really nice firewhirl photo, Ed. I put it on the Fire 21 photo page. Ab.
12/26 Mexican Crew Photo:

me gustaria que publicaran esta foto de este grupo de bomberos forestales en Baja California, mexico "bravo10"

i like to publish this photo in your page, it's a mexican fire crew in Tecate, Mexico the crew name is "bravo10"

Luis P.

Welcome Luis. Muchas gracias por proporcionando la traducción al inglés. Puse su foto en el Handcrews 11 página de foto. Ab.

12/26 I posted two photos from Andrew H, one of CDF Engine-43 and one of a CDF engine crew dragging hose and making headway on a fire. Check the Engines 9 photo page. Ab.
12/25 Merry Christmas Everyone!

On duty for Christmas this year, hopefully a slow day.

Captain Emmett
12/25 How nice to wake up on a Christmas morning surrounded by my family. I hope
everyone else has as fine a day as I think we will have.

12/25 Merry Christmas Everyone!

NorCal Tom
12/24 Just after 7:00 A.M., December 7, 1941, two U.S. Army Privates, George E.
Elliott Jr. and Joseph L. Lockard were operating an Army radar installation
at Kahuku Point on the northern tip of Oahu, Hawaii, familiarizing
themselves with a new technology that could "see" 130 miles out to sea. It
was then that Elliott detected the Japanese naval aircraft sent to strike
the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Elliott and Lockard called in
a warning message to headquarters immediately. Headquarters told the
Privates to disregard what they thought they saw on their radar screens.
They were told that it was probably just a flight of B-17s that were
expected to arrive that morning. Elliott and Lockard continued to track the
radar signal for nearly an hour after that initial contact, right up to the
point that the bombs began dropping on the men, women, and ships at Pearl
Harbor. As devastating as that attack was, historians note that had the
Japanese Navy continued attacking like they had planned, the oil storage
facilities on Hawaii would have been destroyed as well, as it was, these
were untouched. If this had happened, the outcome of WWII might would have
been very different, the entire world might not have been the place that it
is today.

George E. Elliott Jr. died on Saturday, 62 yrs after the attack, he was 85.
Elliott's son, Tom, recounted that "He had a feeling of frustration that if
the warning had been heeded they could have at least got planes in the air
and lives could have been saved,". Said Tom, "He felt that way right up to
the day he died."

I've had the experience of being brushed aside when trying to warn or
inform others. I've also had the experience of doing that to myself,
telling myself things like, "It's probably nothing.", "I must have heard
wrong.", or "I'm sure they've got it covered."

There are mindless, unthinking things in this world like fire, flood,
storms, and earthquakes that seem determined to exterminate us.

There are also those with minds, who are thinking, and they have indicated
by statement and by action that they mean to do us harm.

These days, any one of us may find ourselves in the same position as
Elliott and Lockard. You might turn any corner and find a "radar screen"
staring you right in the face.

These are just some of they things that I hope I don't catch myself saying
this week:

That stalled car on the side of the road? I'm sure they have already called
for help.
That open security gate? I'm sure somebody just forgot to close it.
Somebody will be along.
The aircraft hasn't checked in yet? I'm sure they are just running late.
You think you smell something burning? It's probably nothing.
That suitcase by the baggage claim? They just forgot to pick it up.
What an odd person standing next to the ATM. I'll just find another one.
Danger? Relax, It's just a __________ . (insert anything, Mop-Up, training
exercise, spot fire, drill, false alarm, etc.)
The _________ always rattles when you do that. (insert anything,
helicopter, chainsaw blade, pulaski head, propeller, wing, pump, etc.)
Don't be a baby, It's probably just the flu.
They wouldn't be here if they didn't have the proper training.
I'm sure they saw it too. I mean c'mon, who could miss it.
I'm sure they'll turn up.
That's __________ !!! (insert anything, impossible, never happened before,
not very likely, silly, not feasible, etc.)


12/24 From JW, an article on the USFS Baron that went down at Missoula MT:

FAA Probes Missoula Plane Crash
12/24 FYI, a news release:

Kern County Fire Chief Appointed to State OES Fire Post


Congrats to Steve Gage. Picture of him (in blue) from 1999 on the BigBar Complex Photo page. Gage's CIIMT at the Pentagon following 9/11. Ab.

12/24 Here's a link to the guy, Michael Marks, who wrote that soldier poem posted on familysaid:

Original Ab.

Thanks to DF for sending it in last week. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who serve our country around the world. Ab.
12/23 Boas Festas




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Happy celebrating.

I want to wish you a HAPPY CHRISTMAS and some good successes in 2004.

And I hope EVERYTHING goes well for you.


Same to you Antonio. Boas Festas. Festive photo of their engine. Ab.

12/23 Thanks Lobotomy for the clarification on series 455/462. Leave it up to the Govie to make something
complex…that’s what they’re here for.

Happy Holidays and Semper Fi to any former jarheads out there.

12/23 A USFS-leased twin engine A/C crashed on take-off from MSO at 8 PM last nite; sounds
like something mechanical broke at about 400 feet, on its way back to Redmond, OR. Neither
pilot was seriously injured. Details are sketchy right now. Santa was smiling on them!!

Dick Mangan

Santa and the fact that they are very practiced in getting out of their harnesses quickly. Ab.
12/22 Eric, you are about a month too late, 3 fingers is snowed in, or was last time the clouds parted. If you want to try, you most likely could get most of the way up--- but the ladders to the top are a real bear when covered with snow. Call the Darrington Ranger District at 360-436-1155 for the latest up to date info.

Watching Politely
12/22 G'Day Phil,

Nice to know I am not the only one who would like to get some fire experience outside of Aus. I have done a little bit of research and found out that US Visa laws are fairly restrictive. At the moment I am looking towards Canada as a more likely destination. I am not planning on trying the trip during 2004 but want to do all the research so I am prepared for 2005.

All the best to everyone over christmas both here in Aus and all those overseas.

Ab, is there a way Phil and I could exchange e mail addresses thru this sight without having it public?


Phil, write in again, I'll put you in touch with each other. I no longer have your email addy. Ab.
12/22 Hi Abz,

FKU is sending various overhead and our OES rig to the coast this evening.

The wife says Santa Cruz shook pretty good, I did not even feel the quake in my neck of the woods.

And the news gets better, rain is forecast for the next 3 days!

Have a safe Christmas, all you wildlanders!

Captain Emmett
12/22 Sent in at 1530:

A 6.5 <Ricter scale earthquake> on the Central coast. Some buildings down in Paso Robles area.
Not a good thing. VNC USAR team enroute to San Luis Obispo to assist. Let's hope for the best.

VNC Dozer 3

Update: Check MSNBC. Ab.

[quote-Also heard some months ago that there's an AD IMT concept in the works. Now what kind of conflict of interest in hiring resources would that create? Tahoe Terrie quote]

Would you please expound on this.

Ab, Thank You for the wonderful web site, and all the work you do for keeping it going.


12/21 Hi Matt,

My name is Phil I’m 19 and also a seasonal firefighter in the ACT <Australia>. After the last three fire seasons we’ve had here, I have decided that I would like to work on a seasonal basis. Over here for our summer, then over in the USA for their summer.

If you want to exchange any info let me know, because I still have lots questions and I’m sure you do, so we might be able to help each other out.


Phil and Matt and others who are asking questions about getting hired next season. Most everyone who hires on "use it or loose it" leave status right now. Not many are inclined to answer job questions. That season comes in January. Ab.
12/21 Pappy always told me:

You can do anything you think you're big enough to do, but if you screw-up, don't ask for help,
cause you already screwed up once by not asking for help in the first place!


Haw, haw, Hilbille, have good holidays, my friend. What was that old saying in fire about the "lesson" coming after the test? Ab.
12/21 For all of "Hawks" friends around the US and the world.....!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As you may already know, I have proudly accepted a promotion to Deputy Chief with CDF in the Riverside Unit. The promotion is effective Feb. 1, 2004. The time has come for a change for me and I am stoked with the change. For the last thirty years, I have worked in the Butte Unit. I have enjoyed every minute of those thirty years. Chiefs Sager and Brachais have been great chiefs. My new position will be working as a Deputy Chief in charge of Special Operations. Working as part of the RRU team will be a lot of fun and extremely interesting. The RRU program is very strong and I really look forward to working for Chief Tom Tisdale. RRU will break about 102,500 emergencies for 2003.

Thank you for all you ever did to support CDF/BCFR and me. The strength of any operation revolves around the people. We have great people working in emergency services in Butte County. I was just proud to be a part of the service. Happy holidays.

Assistant Chief John R. Hawkins
California Dept. of Forestry & Fire Protection

Congrats to him. Ab.

12/20 Mellie, your post on living quarters spurred a memory..... Living quarters and facilities was a big topic... also lots of other wildland firefighter topics were discussed.

Hey, back in 1998, the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service held a conference to address and work on workforce issues. I was in attendance and came away from it with a new sense of mission and a new feeling of how we can all be part of our agencies.


Now that over five years have passed, does anyone have any word on how any of the "action" items were implemented. I saw a few reports come out and a few groups formed on the local levels... but overall, I saw little if any change... at least in the Fire Management program.

I know from the Fire Management side of the meeting, some of the issues were addressed and action items were developed. We had some promises from the then R-5 Fire Director (and future WO Fire Director) that had some study and then just disappeared.

Anyone know of what happened to the fire action items?.. their progress?

12/20 HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE. glad you are home safe & hopefully sound and finding time to chime in here.
to Jane D lots of folks are in same situation as you.
to Matt, bet someone in the US hot season would welcome you
re the quotes, well duh, I gotta go back & read what I've missed & what I might add <snicker.
to the HUNTER and that JIM (that angel in the tutu) thanks for those old fun chats hugs ya.
to Poet, looks like you finally have some competition....... <grins
to EVERY FF: bless all FFs, *L* even the structure kids who just might save my possessions along with my bacon.....
to the Original AB, thank you for foresight and perseverance to make this website happen. and all who work so hard to make this a great website: TY!

12/19 Dear Ab:

Quite some time ago one of your ffs wrote a letter and signed it "Fire Killer". I copied it and showed it to everyone who came to my home. Every time I re-read it, I get a lump in my throat. It is one of the most heart-rending items I have ever read. <Ab note: the post can be found HERE. It was written after Jeff Allen and Shane Heath, the 2 helitack, died on the Cramer Fire in July.>

My granddaughter is also a wildfire fighter, and that is why I read your site constantly. Her name is Katelin Jane D<snip> of Salt Lake City, UT. She has now switched to the Forest Service Wildfire unit.

If I weren't so crippled up with mountain climbing bone breaks, I swear I would try to get onto one of the services. I think it is one of the most selfless things human beings can do.

(I would know how to rappel from a chopper, but someone would need to have a wheelchair waiting for me at the bottom -- guess I wouldn't be much help.)

I wish there were something I could do for your service. I feel so helpless when knowing your people are out there. At least know that I pray for you all the time.

A grateful citizen.

Alice Jane D<snip>
Salt Lake City, UT

Thanks so much, Jane.

Just a thought for all of us as the holidays have us counting our blessings, mourning those not with us, and another year closes. If you want to do something helpful for wildland firefighters, send a few dollars to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. It's is a non-profit organization that steps in to help families when their firefighters are killed or injured. They really make a difference, arranging transportation, lodging, and helping with other arrangements for family members in shock. Almost all the money contributed helps our community, as most who work for the Foundation donate their time. Your donations are tax deductible.

Jane, I snipped your last name to protect your and your daughter's privacy. After all, this is the internet... Ab.
12/20 "A plan is nothing; planning is everything." -General Dwight Eisenhower

12/20 Quote:

To plan is everything, the plan is nothing. (on the value of planning).
From an unknown military expert.

We use this during multi-agency training to encourage members of all
agencies effected by the plan to be involved in the planning process.

12/20 More Quotes:

"No plan survives contact with the enemy" -Von Molke

No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair -Patton

If your plan relies on aircraft you need another plan -unknown

“I ought to have known, my advisors ought to have known and I ought to have been told, and I ought to have asked” -Winston Churchill

12/20 kind of a different topic
Does anyone know if the Three Fingers Lookout is accessible this time of year. I was interested in checking it out. Its located in North Central WA in the Cascade Range.
12/20 Hi Abs!

Well, guess it's time to throw in some quotes from Alan Brunacini, chief of
the Phoenix Fire Department. These can be found in the back of his Fire
Command book. You know the one... it teaches that "other" ICS. Sectors and
all that.

Vomiting firefighters are ugly firefighters.
If the red lights on your truck are melting you parked too close.
Don't stand next to the guy who's always bandaged.

And my personal favorite:
If you panic, be sure to run in the correct direction.

There's more in the back of his book, but that's all I can remember for now.

12/20 I am a 21 year old seasonal fire fighter from Victoria, Australia. I am
currently on my third season of ground crew, and in the next season or two
will be hopefully progressing to a rappel/helitack crew. My main query is how
I would go about getting a position on a US (or Canadian) fire crew during our
Southern hemisphere "off season". I know that once on a rappel crew in Aus
there is an exchange programme with B.C Rappattack, but I dont want to sit
around and wait for the opportunity to possibly arise. Any info or ideas would
be greatly appreciated and would be a huge help in this first stage of
organising such a trip.

Thanks in advance,
Matt B.
12/19 A.W.B.G., sorry to be so flip in my response to your facilities question. I was having a silly, happy-to-be-alive day and it bled over into my post. By no means did I mean to imply that "since you were already getting screwed on your facilities you should happily continue being screwed." It's the worst bummer not having adequate living quarters and feeling unfairly treated or unsupported.

As I recall, the facilities issue surfaced on theysaid in early 2002. I think I also heard about it at the Division Chiefs Mtg. that year. Some of the California HS (and maybe other groundpounders?) complained that even the new MEL crews didn't have anyplace to live (aside from pitching a tent in the supt's backyard). Existing facilities that I saw then were pretty ugly and unsafe. Actually they looked like slum housing to me and I am used to roughing it when necessary. I don't know if things have changed. I presume things are better, but perhaps not.

What happened in R5 was that one person in the RO (who has just retired or is about to retire) was tasked with trying to find somewhere to come up with funds for facilities and solve the problem. I am pretty sure that no "facilities" money was available from the govt. Seems crazy to me to mandate more "troops" without providing adequate living support for them. I don't know about any differences in facilities between old and new crews. As I recall, almost all crews didn't have facilities or didn't have facilities that were safe.

I'd be willing to make a few phone calls on Monday if anyone can be reached and try to find out how R5 solved the problem or if it is not yet solved. If it is solved, maybe someone in your area could use some of the same procedures to work things out for you guys.

Hmmmm. Maybe the R5 problem is still bigger than I thought and I don't know what I'm talking about. I just got the following from a friend...

The budgets formed this year for next will be interesting because much of the funding for new facilities was taken from the money saved by vacant positions. Important in that many of the facilities have been just temporary/leases/rentals and no permanent facilities have been established. Now that most of the new perm positions have been filled. . . ? It was a huge issue on <snip>NF without a long term plan.


12/19 Dana, Five Waters Mellie and anyone else who cares.

Thanks for the history and govt. budget lesson.

I am going to keep this short. First of all I am not afraid of competition this is not a game of who wins or looses. We need the crews, I agree with that, I'll take all the help I can get. My problem is that the process was not well implemented when the $ came, and so we have a less effective organization than congress and the taxpayers deserve.

Lets try to find some common ground. First MEL crews and CDC Type 1 crews are not IHCs and should not be lumped together. The same goes for 20 Smoke Jumpers on a bus.

We used to have Forest Hotshot Crews and Inter-Regional Hotshot Crews. The forest crews had a different mission than the IR crews. Just like the IHCs have a different mission than the MEL crews. One is a Forest/Regional resource and the other is a Shared National Resource like Air Tankers.

I have no problem helping anyone who wants my help to be better and at the same time I want input from them how I can improve as well. I have worked along side every kind of crew there is and always offer any assistance I can, to help us all do our jobs better. It doesn't matter if it is a contract crew or another IHC or an engine or helitac crew we are all here to help each other. So, don't assume that I am not trying to help by calling it as I see it. If someone sees a deficit on my crew I hope they tell me so I can make the needed corrections. That was the reason I quit an ADFMO job that I held for several years, I thought I could help keep up the good traditions of Hotshot Crews and help improve where we need to.

The money thing is another matter. Yes I think that the established crews that need it should get their facilities upgraded to the standards new crews are receiving them. Maybe that is something the bean counters can plan on over the next few years but I aint holding my breath. Yes, good facilities, barracks and equipment does help retention, so why wouldn't it be good for the "old crews"? So, your argument that that since we were already getting screwed on our facilities we should happily continue being screwed doesn't add to your credibility in my book.

I realize that the "fair" only comes once a year. But I can't help but hope that, if we get the opportunity to do the right thing, we will.

12/19 A.W.B.G.,

The reason that MEL crews began getting created at such a fast pace was to a large extent due to a report that the Govt. Accounting Office came out with about 8 years ago. I essentially predicted that a SEVERE wildfirefighter shortage would exist in 3-4 years with equally predictable consequences. About a year later they revised the prediction to state that the SEVERE wildfirefighter shortage existed CURRENTLY. (I am getting older and time is passing faster so please forgive slight time distortions in this quick and dirty history if they exist)

It took a lot of people inside the Washington DC "beltway" by surprise...even though a lot of ground pounders were not surprised at all. Consequently it got the attention of Govt. officials who were more strident (and referred to the GAO studies often) when asking for more $$$$ from the taxpayers representatives who hold the pursestrings. Money was quickly (for Washington) promised to help alleviate the shortage and the fire orgs. moved as fast as they could knowing how much (little) they could depend on such political promises.

A shortage still exists.. and will likely continue to exist for some years (decades?) to come.. despite these genuine attempts to alleviate it. Wildfirefighting it turns out is not all that attractive a job for the current pay and benefits. (I KNOW...this hard to believe!) And the militaristic environment that is synonymous with "hotshot crews" does little to make them more attractive once a newbie is on the crew...so retention may suffer. New barracks, equipment, and facilities helps retention. And remember...the old crews were willing to do the job before these new "incentives" existed...so why would you expect them to get "the new stuff"?

Seriously... the new crews need your help.... before you are too old to work on a "hotshot crew" anymore. And the comments about the lower quality of the newly formed crews isn't "helping". They need more than a "chance to prove themselves".. they need your assistance... your pointers.. your support if they are to become the new experienced frontline fire force it is hoped they will... eventually. And those that fall shortest of the "old crews" expectations need the help the most. They need "drop and give me fifty" a lot less than they need "heres what has worked for me". And believe it or not... many of us "older guys" EXPECT you to provide that help. There are fewer and fewer of "us" old hands around to do it. And from the looks of it this trend of more younger.. less older will continue for the foreseeable future.

Therefore it falls upon younger and younger folks to act in a more and more mature manner as time goes on. It is a new burden you may not "appreciate" but it is now part of what we....the folks that walked the fireline before you... expect you to accept with the same enthusiasm that you accept all the other "unfair burdens" of your job.

They are not your competition.. they are your brothers and sisters in arms.
12/19 AWBG,

The reason the buildup had to happen so fast was that a lot of firefighters were being lost to retirement and there was going to be a crisis within 5 years. (I think we're almost there now). You must remember that. Congress gave the money in 2000 and expected expansion to be done in one year. Yeah, right. I was allowed to sit in on the budget mixing for R5 that year to see how MEL worked (after all I have the same nickname). Approval was obtained to spread the buildup over a 3 year period, as it was impossible to accomplish in one.

Amazing process that MEL remix with our math-whiz of a Gary leading the R5 fire planners through their paces. And I got to be tutored by some fine smart guys and gals, a number of whom were former hotshots... What a work ethic.

Anyway, loss of manpower (generic use of the term) forced the issue. Congress allocated the money. It was use it or loose it. (The luxury of 10 years, dream on! Our govt never plans ahead, dontcha know. They'd have borrowed the $$ back or cancelled it!)

And the rest is history.

Gee, time must be marching on if I have a HISTORY in fire! (um, seems like only yesterday I got hooked and initiated into the 180 Club). What a great time I've had!

Mellie from Five Waters

PS. Ab on the hotshot list from 2001 I can remember being amazed at how many crews from Oregon had their own websites back then. Many more across the US have them now.
12/19 I heard this 23 years ago when I worked in the oil fields. It goes something like this: "We the unknowing, lead by the unwilling have been doing so much, for so long, with so little, that now we are qualified to do absolutely anything with nothing." That is the about the way some volunteer fire departments are staffed, financed, and operated. So this is a salute to the V.F.D. guys and gals through out the county and the world.

Have a safe and sane holiday and watch out for all the armatures out there. God Bless and Happy Holidays

>From Retired L.A.V.E.
12/19 Old&Gray,

No problem at all, I had a nerve hit & had to restrain myself! I 100% accept it. Are you a Supt type from a pre-MEL IHC?


Ill send you a message, i like being accepted!

Jersey Boy,

Ever met Scott Lathem? He was a buddy of mine a long time ago, last i heard he was on an engine for the NJ FS, ive lost contact with him. Is there any way to find out what each base "specializes" in without making a contact on/from each base?


I know at least one of the R8 shot crews have had a really hard time gettin certified. Maybe im not in touch with the western fire world, but i thought a shot crew was a shot crew, end of story. Am i wrong with that assumption? I realize some will have great long histories, some are just beginning, but can you order up a pre-MEL IHC, as opposed to a MEL IHC?

I'll say one more time, I really really enjoyed the work, the high motivation, and the saw work, eating crap food, working hours upon hours. I really got a kick out of working like a dog. At least i got paid for it, as opposed to the farm work where i live. I definitely like this line of work, just want to find a niche where i'll be appreciated & not expected just to be a robot, Id like to use some brain power as opposed to just my back and legs.

Thanks again AB.


Take a look through the logos photo pages. The pre MEL crews are toward the beginning of the logo pages. Some crews like the El Cariso (with the ruptured duck logo) go way back. The wife of one of our theysaid contributors created that image in the early days. That logo has since changed.

Here's our historical hotshot crew list (Feb, 2001) that preceded the MEL buildup. You can compare this with the current fed fire list to see who's new. In addition, those that are not yet certified have (trainee) after their names.

This outreach notice for Alpine IHC just came in. Ab.
12/19 Ab,

ZKP's post has opened up for debate the wisdom of the upper echelon of fire to try to build too many new crews in too short of a time period. One thing for sure is MEL "hotshot" crews are not IHCs. I understand that the MEL crews are being certified under the auspices of the Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations Guide, this is all good and well as far as it goes. However the formation of so many new IHCs and MEL type 1 crews in the last couple of years has had a negative effect on the existing IHCs.

The creation of new crews was done without much forethought, in my opinion. Millions of dollars were and are still being pumped into acquiring new vehicles, training facilities, barracks, caches, etc. for the new crews while the existing crews are left in their old rundown facilities. I believe that we need more type one crews and IHC', but, there has not been a systematic process for putting new crews into service, and fill the new vacancies without decimating the existing crews. It is a case of trying to build too many crews too fast and winding up with a substandard product. Several of these crews had severe problems last couple of seasons and wound up being disciplined, placed in type 2 status or disbanded all together.

If the powers that be would have had a plan to build 100 new type 1 and IHC crews over the next 10 -15 years instead of 1-3 years we would have had time to build quality crews with excellent overhead that could truly call themselves Hotshots. About half of the new crews I work with are meeting the standards of performance that IMT's and fire managers have come to expect from the IHC program. I am not forgetting the past and current deficiencies of the old crews because they do exist and need to be addressed as well. I am just saying there is a better way to deal with the creation of new firefighting resources that has been exhibited in our recent history.

I think another part of the problem is a function of our firefighting culture. It's like my boss tells me when talking about Hotshot Crews "I love you when I need you and I hide you when I don't." It is no wonder we are having problems building crews when this is the attitude, joking or not. What kind of catastrophe would have occurred, for example if management had decided to build 30 new Smoke Jumper bases in 3 years? This would never even occur to any thinking person because there are obviously not enough existing Smoke Jumpers that have the skills and knowledge to do such a ridiculous undertaking. But when it comes to building Hotshot crews, they think it is just going to happen because the money is flowing. The cultural view of Hotshot crews is "They're not real smart but they can move heavy objects." Some of the blame falls on the crews themselves for our past practices. Almost all of the IHC Supts I talk to are trying to change that perception of crews, it is going to take a while.

I don't have answers for most of the challenges I have brought up here. It may be too late to put the crew creation ship back on course, but we need to try.

12/19 ZKP:

sounds like your experience on a 'shot crew wasn't what you thought it would be - but they never are.

if you plan on coming out west (like i do every year - jersey is still my home) decide what do you want to do? there are advantages/disadvantages to being on a hotshot crew or a rappel crew. my experience is with hotshots, but i know a lot of folks who have made the switch back and forth.

if you decide to go back to a hotshot crew, i hope you find a good one. just having the "hotshot" title doesn't make a good crew. but don't expect to get away from a militaristic attitude even on hotshot crews that are a bit more laid back. expect to walk in lines, have your bathroom breaks timed, and be harassed about being ready to go within 5 minutes of wake-up. its the way things are mostly done. but if you want to see a lot of time on the firelines, hotshot crews are the way to go. that's the best part about shot crews - for the most part you see more fire than anyone. one summer i was out west for 101 days (school cut my season short) and i spent 80 of those days in direct fire suppression - not many folks can beat that. and you often have the opportunity for complex assignments, such as large burnouts, or remote spike sites. if you can handle the lifestyle (and it doesn't make you less of a firefighter if you can't) hotshot crews can be an incredible experience. but remember, for the most part you will be "a number" all summer long.

as for rappellers - you have a lot more freedom. both in terms of the structure of the crew, and the assignments you get. rappels are initial attack, so small fires, and relatively quick shifts (2-3 days). you might even get to IC some fires, something that rarely happens on a shot crew. you get to see a lot of different types of fires, and see completion of fires. but you may not see as much fire. some rappel crew members are lucky to get 6 fire rappels all year, some get upwards of 40. be sure to look at whether the helo is a national/regional/local ship - and see what kinds of assignments the crew gets. some rappel crews do quite a bit of helibase managing, and not so much digging. some do a lot of search and rescue. look at what you want to do.

i'd say the biggest advantage of a rappel crew is the opportunity to build your skill set as a firefighter. you will have to deal with many different situations, often times without being told what to do (not always the easiest thing when a fire is starting to cook). on the other hand, hotshot crews see fire: thats what they do. formal training may be lacking on some crews, but you can learn an awful lot if you pay attention and ask questions. fire experience on a hotshot crew can be unmatched at times.

finally, for both types of crews - you must be in shape. rappel crews have similar guidelines as hotshots, and usually require a pack-out test of around 100 lbs.

hope this helps, good luck finding a job -

12/19 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 have been updated. Ab.
12/19 Ab,

For the quotes page, about needing to have a good reason for doing what
we do in the fire service, not just because somebody asks us to do it:

"Did you ever see a cat skeleton in a tree?" - author unknown

vfd cap'n
12/19 NorCal Tom & vfd cap't-
Good replies to my 3 thing plume dominated fire - Rothermel challenge. NorCal Tom, you were closest to what he said, but vfd cap't your 3 were inspired in a twisted thinking way, especially with the "accountability and litigation" environment we've had since 30mi. Bet you like puzzles.

On a serious note: I've heard there are not enough people taking the classes for IMT-IC to support the number of Type 1 and Type 2 IMTs we currently have. (Does the 30mi fallout and holding ICs accountable for mess-ups below them have something to do with a lack of motivation to step up to leadership? Many team members are retiring and we don't have the person-power in the pipeline? Team membership is not supported by many line-officers?) Hope some folks are thinking on solutions.

How do we train and retain good people in a profession of federal wildland firefighting? I think we're getting on with the training (can only speak for R5). Retention is the problem. If good folks jump to other agencies whether state or county or city, and work their way up to membership on a team, they can end up getting paid 3 times as much as the federal IC running the show. Career wise this is a no-brainer. There should be some kind of equity in pay and incentive to make fed fire a real career.

Also heard some months ago that there's an AD IMT concept in the works. Now what kind of conflict of interest in hiring resources would that create?

Tahoe Terrie

12/19 Nobody’s out to get me?

Drat, why don’t they tell me these things?

Seriously folks, the comparisons that have come up between fire work and the police service have brought up an interesting point: fire is no longer a strictly rural hobby. We’re moving more and more into the wildland urban interface, and scene safety has come to involve more than simply wide-awake lookouts, LCES, 10 and 18.

We’ve got a human element to fire safety as well, from booby-trapped pot fields to meth labs to whatever evil that banjo-playing family chucked back into the bushes. We really can’t afford to operate like nobody’s out to get us. Like EMS, we’re emergency responders, and no matter how different what you find is from what you were dispatched to, it’s your job to at least not add to the emergency.

My first lesson in emergency response came from a guy who had two quotes which he would repeat constantly: “No rescuing the rescuers” and “No amusing obituaries”.

Nerd on the Fireline

(Nobody pass out in the eggnog, ya’hear?)

Check the growing list of Quotes and Aphorisms to Live By. Ab.
12/19 A Firefighters Psalm:

The IC is my Shepard, I shall not bitch.
He giveth me plume dominated fires, beside Mark III pump shows.
He restoreth my sack lunch: he leadeth me in the chow line, for his name's sake.
Yea, Tho I hike into canyons filled with smoke,
I will fear no flames,
For I wear his nomex
Thy (new?) Fire Shelter and Shift Plan,
They comfort me.
He preparest green eggs before me,
In the presence of Heli-nerds.
He anointest my head with retardant,
My bottled water runneth over.
Surely Overtime and Hazard Duty will follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell on the ________ Complex, Forever.

Fuels Guy
12/19 ZKP,

I'm just going to flat out apologize! I don't know you from Adam and it
was wrong of me to make assumptions. I did have a bad day at work
however. Sorry to go off!

Old & Gray
12/19 Old&Gray

Glory Grabbing is exactly what I try not to do, thats why i dont dress in fire t-shirts outside of work, or when somebody asks my occupation, i say I work for the FS. I dont do fire for glory, I do it to feel good about myself, facing a challenge head on, and beating it. Thats why I thought the shots would be a good gig, go head to head with whatever comes, and pull together as a team and beat it. Email me, I'd love to discuss things with yuh.

A Wee Bit Gray:

Turnover= the crew i was on, From Asst. Supt Down, most experience was 2 years in that position. I think for sure there were 4 returners from the previous year. We started the season with 21, my best count was 4 season ending injuries, one "washed out" and two more quit after others got injured. Yes, it was a MEL IHC. The sick & tired was stuff like cramps & very little sleep. We had a couple of folks develop breathing problems during the season. Had a lot of injuries too (I'd list them, but i won't.... for the nay-sayers, they were more than blisters & stings) BUT!!!, before everyone jumps on me for being a tenderfoot, YES i know cramps are a sign of being out of shape & yes, i know our CTR's showed 8 hours a rest a day. You folks all know how it goes, somebody cramping up on the line in the middle or end of the season is overexerting. They do indeed have a problem, & need to have that problem addressed before they continue to power hike. You hit on appreciation too, the only time i got a thank you was the day i left the crew, after receiving an excellent performance rating & an invitation back next year.

Militaristic style (to me) means that the supt or asst sup says, ok you can use the bathroom if you want to, or stay in the crummy (during briefing), or stopping at a rest stop on the way home "3 minutes, then we leave." Once again, I realize that someone has to make those decisions, I'm a Lead Firefighter back home, with a very hands off FMO/AFMO. I know that when the sh`t starts ripping I expect my guys to snap to & do it, now. When we're doin busy work, moping up, or not under a bigtime time constraint, as long as they're performing their job, not screwing up & being safe, I'm happy.

Another thing that bugged me about the shot crew i was on was the Supt's rarely ever give a second listen to a new/different way of doing things. One particular example was saw work. According to the Asst. Supt. Open Face/Bore Cut is an unacceptable method to use. I've certified "C" on both types of cuts, and i can see situations where each one would be better.

Training was an entirely different issue (YES!!! I realize it was a busy season!!)

Sorry for the 'rant AB, It's gettin a little personal


Part of the dialog is finding out where the person making a statement is coming from. Thanks for the clarification. Ab.
12/19 Ab's, Can you post this on theysaid as well?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In this time
Of Holiday cheer
As we gather
Our families near,
Lets not forget
Those loved ones brave
Who gave their lives;
Our homes - forests - WORLD to save.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I wish to thank those Fallen Ones, their families and their friends for all they have sacrificed to keep us safe from harm.

I also want to thank our beloved Firefighters and all others, both domestic and Armed Forces, that do their best to protect heart and home.

Thank you,

12/19 Don't know where the quote came from, but when I became an IC, a more experienced IC gave me a list of advice. The quote "Friendly fire isn't " was one of them. Here are a few more that need to be passed on and who said then originally is just a guess. Probably Charlie Drag-Mcleod!

"Never forget that your apparatus was built by the lowest bidder"
"When you have secured an area, don't forget to tell the fire"
"A rapidly escalating fire has the right of way"
"If the fire is in range, so are you"
"Radios will fail as soon as you need air support desperately"
"Anything you can do can get you burned, including not doing anything at all"
"Professional firefighters are predictable, but the world is full of amateurs"
"If it's stupid but works, it isn't stupid"
And finally, "Murphy was a firefighter"

12/19 I was out playing on the Super Highway and ran across a link on the Eastern Region page and found some Power Points.
Thought it might be helpful to those getting ready for the next year.

Eastern Region www.na.fs.fed.us/firetraining/instructorsref.php
Power Points for:
Basic Fire Training I-200 (384 KB )
Intermediate Fire Training I-300 (395 KB)
Initial Attack Incident Commander S-200 (205 KB)
Supervisory Concepts and Techniques S-201 (1.1 MB)

12/19 Lance, your question regarding the differences between the 0455 and 0462 series....

The 0455 series is Range Technician and the 0462 series is Forestry Technician. As they relate to firefighting, there are no differences since both series improperly represent the duties and responsibilities of wildland firefighters. You can also add the other ten or so series that wildland firefighters are also classified under.

Fortunately, (or unfortunately)... depending on how you look at it.... the DoD agencies recognize the improper classification and regularly offer jobs to wildland firefighters within the 0081 series.

12/19 ZKP,

Try coming out west and see if you like Hotshots or Engine work. We'd like to have you give it a try. If you have a good recommendation from your FMO... you can probably get a job anywhere you want with the current shortages out here. It's not militaristic... just a mix of liberal and conservative...

Ab, can you provide ZKP my e-mail address?


Sure, I can pass that on. Ab.
12/19 Here's a quote from my Old Hotshot Supt.

"Hey stupid, don't get so excited... it's not our emergency.... it's our job!"

12/18 NCCrew

I have included the 'Swiss Cheese" model of accidents into the classes I teach for new firefighters. One quote from Shappell in the "Human Factors Analysis and Classification System" is:

"Arguably the unsafe acts of firefighters can be directly linked to nearly 80% of all accidents. However simply focusing on unsafe acts (ie violations of the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders) is like focusing on a fever without understanding the underlying disease causing it."

I think Karl Weick says something like "fighting fire requires us to rely on our ability to know and predict various states of nature, which I think is as impossible as winning the lottery."

And I think Carlos Fuentes says something like "nature has a predisposition for destruction and disorder (entropy, Shiva?)." So please all of you disabuse yourselves of the notion that our job is easier than police officers because nobody is out to get us.

Clint Eastwood says "We've all got it coming" and "Deserve's got nothing to do with it".

I agree that no loss is acceptable or should be calculated, but until humanity is infallible, wildfire deaths will be inevitable.


12/18 Howdy,

I’m a DoD F/F (0081) in southern Ca. and was wondering what the difference is between the 462 and 455 Series. We have boat load of guys that are prior USFS and CDF. Thankfully we had several of them on the Cedar Fire and I’ll tell you, if one of ‘em even looked nervous, I had an adrenaline dump that I hadn’t felt since my days in the Marines!

Thanks for your time and I imagine I’ll be bumping into some of the message board posters next fire season seeing that both the State and Fed’s new battle cry is DO MORE WITH A HELL OF A LOT LESS (and we may still contract you out).

12/18 Wishing all of you happy holidays.

Let's remember those that will not be with the ones we love. Drink a cold
one for our troops that are layin on the line for us, and remember to be
safe and well.

By the way, So Cal is not out of fire season. Lots of dry wind out of the


12/18 Wee!

Are you really A Wee Bit Grey??? Oh my goodness! I will totally have
to revise my mental image of you!

12/18 ZKP/ironman,

Being a Hotshot is not for everyone as you have obviously found out.
Sometimes we are a little rough on the crews but no where near as bad as
when I started on crews in '75. I wonder how the rest of the crew feels.
If there is going to be a huge turnover in personnel on the crew you worked
on last year there could very well be a problem. I also wonder if it was
an IHC or a MEL Hotshot crew. My third question is, would you be invited
back on the crew if you chose to return.

Having worked on or supervised IHCs at some point in the last 4
decades, 70's, 80's 90's and now the 2000's gives me a little knowledge on
the subject, although I may be a little biased.

As far as being sick and tired I guess it all depends how sick and tired
people are. I would need more on that subject to address it properly. At
some point over a long season people are going to get sick, tired and
cranky. But we still need to do our job as long as we can do it safely and

The militaristic style has changed even in the military, so, I am not sure
what you are referring to. The military needs discipline and so do crews.
The military needs someone to take charge and so do crews. The military
uses a team based approach to accomplish tactical missions and so do crews.
The best crews are, as Old and Gray says, militaristic. The best crews
also treat people like people, and take care of their basic needs like
water, food, rest and a little appreciation once in a while for a job well

I have to surmise that you either were not prepared for life on a Hotshot
Crew, or, that you are not supposed to be a Hotshot right now. Possibly you
will never be. You know what? That is OK. Like I said it isn't for

Good luck finding a job that fits you.

A Wee Bit Gray
12/18 The Newcastle, WY firefighter who was drunk while
responding to a vegetation fire, rolling the water
tender and killing a 16-year old volunteer
firefighter, was sentenced to 14 to 18 years in prison


12/18 DV's request:

....list of all I's and S's course descriptions....

Field Managers' Course Guide September 2003
12/18 Ab

I looked at the familysaid site and it reminded me of all the empty chairs
around the tables this holiday season. I will raise a toast to the fallen
and those they left behind as I gather near the ones I love. I will raise
a special toast to Jeff and Shane and hope those of you still grieving will
find some peace this Christmas.

Terry T

Familysaid does wind down in the winter when firefighters are home. Poet's poem is a very nice one. To those who lost loved ones, I wish them peace as well. Ab.
12/18 Re: Tahoe Terrie's 3 things challenge

The good thing is you could show up on CNN's highlight reel.

The first bad thing is you could get fined $30,000 for making a cell
phone call in the end/deployment zone.

The second is you get smacked by a safety (or lack thereof.)

Vfd cap'n

Um hum, and do you think this is what Rothermel might have thought about plume-dominated fire? Oh yes, I can see the analogy... haw haw Ab.
12/18 Hey ZKP,

There are many great hotshot crews out there to work for, but guess what?.. The great ones have a military attitude! That's why the safety record of shot crews is so good. I would not want to work for any other kind. It sounds as if you're interested more in grabbing glory than fighting fire. Why don't you try for a jumper spot and see how that works out for you!

Good Luck,

Now, now... Let's keep this to issues. Ab.
12/18 About the wideband/narrowband radios.

I heard from a reliable source that the NIFC Radio Cache is going to be going narrowband for the radio equipment used for incidents in 2004.

The Federal Government has been mandated to be narrowband by December of 2004.

What this means is that older King EPH, all LPH and MPH radios can't meet the requirements. The main problem is that some frequencies can not be programmed in. All GPHs are Flexmode.

The way to tell if your King radio can be narrowbanded (King calls it Flexmode) is after you enter the password the radio display will say PASS.

This is going to be very hard to deal with as I still see a lot of LPHs out on fire that should have been replaced about 15 years ago.

It is interesting that when the FCC announced this public safety protested, saying that they could not afford to replace their radio systems. I received this explaining the outcome. The Feds are still changing by DEC 2004 and should be digital by 2010.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
FCC Issues Stay for Narrowband Rule

Fairfax, Va., Friday, December 12, 2003...The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a stay of the January 13, 2004 deadline that delays implementation of the narrowbanding rule. January 13, 2004 was the deadline set to prohibit the filing of applications for new wideband systems or modifications of existing wideband systems.

This results from a petition filed in August by the IAFC, International Municipal Signal Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Sheriffs' Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major County Sheriffs' Association and the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council.

The stay was granted to allow the FCC to review the various petitions for reconsideration of the narrowbanding rule.

The following deadlines are still in effect:
  • the FCC will no longer certify 25 kHz equipment after January 1, 2005
  • the manufacture and importation of 25 kHz equipment is prohibited after January 1, 2008
  • by January 1, 2018 public safety must migrate to 12.5 kHz systems.

It is possible that some dates in the migration from 25 kHz wideband to 12.5 kHz narrowband may be revised, but the requirement to narrowband will remain intact. Fire chiefs must continue to plan for the 12.5 kHz federal policy.

The FCC order implementing the narrowband rule stay is available for download on the IAFC Web site at www.iafc.org/downloads/index.shtml.


12/18 Re plume dominated fire:

Good: the fire moves right where you expect it to move (not unlike a goal directed, bullet thrown pass but in slower motion). If you're doing a Rx burn you hope it's not too bullet like, as you want the column to be hot and big enough to draw in fire from the sides while you're building line and burning out.

Bad: the fire column builds, wind direction changes and it collapses. The outcome is unpredictable, spot fires everywhere, unstable air mass that may push it around... who knows where it ends up, probably not at your goal line (like a really wild hail mary pass, at the top of its arc the football blows up and spreads bits of itself all over the field, only to be picked up by the winds buffeting the stadium?)

Bad: the fire (football) is intercepted by some other growing and powerful force and makes a run uphill away from your goal.

Happy Holidays everyone.
NorCal Tom
12/18 Teaser Quote:

"The truth about plume dominated fire is that it's like a forward pass in football. Three things can happen and two of them are bad." Richard Rothermel

Challenge: What three things?
Tahoe Terrie
12/18 More Quotes:

Don't worry boy, it's a controlled burn. - Homer Simpson

I don't know the chemical reaction, but fire made it good. - Homer Simpson

12/18 AB, or anybody else

Has anybody around done the hotshot & the rappelling thing?

I was on a shot crew last year, I enjoyed myself, but got really tired of the Military attitude. My particular crew (my feelings only) didnt really take the best care of their people when we were tired or even physically sick.

I know I wont be going back to the same crew, so can anybody tell me which are some of the better crews to work for? Or along the same lines, whats the highlights of rappelling? (Beside rotor time & the rappels)

I'm a PFT "back east" and i have my FMO's full support of going anywhere in the country to do anything i want to, as long as its in fire!

Feel free to post for others benefit, or email me directly @ ironman1997@hotmail.com.

Thanks, ya'll
12/18 Here's one "Friendly, fire isn't!"

12/17 Ab,

With all of the hubbub about how dangerous or not our job is I thought a
few quotes would be thought provoking. Some are serious and some are for
fun. Hope some others will be forthcoming from some of the lurkers and
regular contributors.

Later, Backburnfs

Good one. A
Paul Gleason “Become a Student of Fire” Backburnfs
Gordon Graham "Predictable is Preventable" Backburnfs
Chaytor Mason "The only time you learn from the mistakes of another is when they end in tragedy." Backburnfs
Ed Pulaski "The first man who tries to leave this tunnel, I will SHOOT." Backburnfs
Dirty Harry "Do you feel lucky, punk?" Backburnfs
Viscount Cecil "Prudence which degenerates into timidity is very seldom the path to safety." Backburnfs
Jack Handy "If you ever catch on fire, try to avoid seeing yourself in the mirror, because I bet that's what REALLY throws you into a panic." Backburnfs
General George S. Patton "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." Backburnfs
12/17 hi ab,

just want to wish everyone out there a merry xmas and a happy new year
and please lets all work together to make it a safe one.

ken hilder, jellat rural fire service
12/17 Re: current thread on the inevitability of firefighters deaths.

Just a few observations on this topic I would like to comment on. First is the fact that many of the replies to NCCrew's post begin with "I think", "I wonder", "I. . .wanted to comment", "I had to say", and even one "I don't think". I think the fact that you are thinking and replying is a great thing, it is the reason this web page exists. I agree with the intent of NCCrew's post and I also agree with the objective of the majority of replies.

One thing I've learned can be difficult is transposing your thoughts to writing in a way that everyone will know what you mean to say. If we were to take the first three words from Terrie's reply, "I don't think", out of context and use it against them, we may come to the conclusion that Terrie doesn't think. But that surely isn't Terrie's intent, was it?

I have some experience in posting here over the years. More than once I've been blasted hard (and rightfully so) for my failure to adequately communicate my thoughts. My intentions were good, but my words or grammar poorly selected. What if NCCrew had used the word probable instead of inevitable throughout the message? Would that have been less distasteful to some and better conveyed their meaning. As an introduction NCCrew specifically stated, "I am most likely going to have a hard time expressing what I really mean in text". With that statement they advised they were having difficulty composing their thoughts (and perhaps requesting a bit of indulgence).

I congratulate NCCrew for having the courage to publicly express their thoughts on an obvious thorny subject. Since I know NCCcrew is a long time contributor here who's previous comments other readers and myself have regarded highly, I may be more lenient when reading their current message. At the same time I do appreciate the thoughtful and mostly respectful replies.

I will take the opportunity to state that I personally would be proud to work alongside, be supervised by, supervise, or otherwise interact with NCCrew at any time. You might occasionally check the Chat Room to see if you can find them lurking there and hit 'em up for some good discussion to get a better understanding of just who they are.

And that's my unbiased opinion. Original Ab.

You can observe a lot just by watchin'. -- Yogi Berra
12/17 Write your congressman! now! I am saying thanks to the folks who have supported this bill, it works.

"Hometown Heroes" bill signed into law

On Dec. 15, President Bush signed into law the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act of 2003. This important law extends federal benefits to public safety officers, including fire fighters, police officers and other first responders, who die of heart attack or stroke while on duty.

The U.S Congress passed the legislation in November; it will apply to cases effective Dec. 15, the day the measure was signed into law.

The Hometown Heroes bill extends the current Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) Program to public safety officers who die as a result of a heart attack or stroke resulting from strenuous physical activity that occurred:
  • While responding to an emergency or participating in a training exercise
  • While still on duty after the response or participation.
  • Within 24 hours of the response or participation.

"The IAFC has spent the last several years working to get this critical legislation passed," said IAFC President Ernest Mitchell. "We are very pleased that it has been signed into law so that families of these fallen fire fighters can now receive federal assistance."

Heart attacks and strokes represent a significant risk among public safety officers, accounting for nearly half of all fire fighter deaths each year. In 2002, 37 on-duty fire fighters died of heart attacks.

The PSOB program, administered by the Department of Justice, provides a one-time financial benefit - currently set at $267,494 - to families of public safety officers (fire, EMS and police,) killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Prior to the enactment of this new law, the burden of proof was placed on the family to demonstrate a direct relation between the heart attack or stroke and the actions performed in the line of duty. The Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act shifts that burden to the Department of Justice by adding language presumptively qualifying heart attacks and strokes as line-of-duty deaths absent competent medical evidence to the contrary.


12/17 Hey I had a list of all I's and S's course descriptions but my computer
crashed. I dont know where I got the list. Can you help?

12/17 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 were updated yesterday.

Readers, there's a new classified up on the Classifieds page. It's an ad for Bendix King EPH5101S Flexmode radios under communications. If interested, please check it out.

For those looking for the special book for adult or child, please browse our Fire Books and Kids Fire Books pages. I have placed small chain saw ratings on this page to make browsing easier. (5 Saws is best.) If you order through Amazon, we get a small award that helps pay the bills here.


12/17 Ab and others:

I think what many upset many folks about NCCrew's
email about the dangers of firefighting was the
suggestion that if we don't accept death on the
firelines as a possibility, then we should find
another line of work. and in this instance, i don't
think many readers thought of death as a genetic heart
defect falling someone on the line, or some freak
occurrence - they thought of a burnover.

hand in hand with this is the comparison to police
officers and structural firefighters, two civil
service professions where death in the line of duty
can happen through no fault of the workers.

the differences between these profession and ours are
huge. no amount of planning or training can prevent
an police officer from being shot by a lunatic bent on
killing a cop. and a building collapse while ff's are
doing a search and rescue is a risk that structure
ff's acknowledge when they sign on for the job.

as for us on the wildland side, we are almost never
called to go into a fire where some person is trapped.
and there is no one trying to kill us. for us, our
deaths are more like the cops who don't use their
training when in a shootout, or structure folks who
blindly rush to save a player piano without looking at
building condition.

ab, you mentioned that many jumped on NCCrew for
merely suggesting that firefighting was dangerous.
but what i thought most were trying to say is that
firefighting doesn't have to be dangerous, and that
firefighting becomes dangerous when people don't know
what they are doing/or supposed to do.

coming from a crew that has an excellent reputation
for safety and work, i share some of the frustrations
that NCCrew's post has caused. we pride ourselves on
being an aggressive, hard working crew, but we would
rather give up an acre, 10, or a hundred to make sure
the job is done safely. looking back on some fires
i'm sure we could have dropped down somewhere and
shaved a day or two off our tour and saved some acres,
but the risks involved don't seem to be worth it.

in the end, no one asks me to lay my life on the line
in this job. i would probably risk my life to save
another ff, or someone who was trapped - but thats a
personal choice. but i certainly won't put my life on
the line to save some acres, or a house. if it comes
to that, then i will find a new profession.

12/16 Ab,

I am thinking I should just leave my post be and let people take from it what they want. But my comment was not intended to stir the proverbial "poop" pot. I think most of the readers are missing my intent; and my intent was not that of a callousness towards life, reckless disregard, or idiocy for being in a place that is a "loser". MY intent was that things will go wrong. Despite training, ppe, LCES, and learning form our mistakes. It my belief that these things all minimize your risks.

Someone spoke of the fire shelter in response to my statements... I think the very essence of a fire shelter almost proves my point. The shelter is a last ditch effort to stay alive when things have gone horribly wrong. If policies were removed, I would bet most of you would continue to carry your shelter (I know I would). Why? Because things can go wrong; and when you're fighting for your life, you want every available tool.

Do not make accusations that I would put my crew in harm's way. I know they want to stay alive and so do I. VFD, your comment was only destructive. I put my neck on the chopping block thinking we were discussing "philosophies".


Readers, If you haven't looked at it, or even if you have, you might read (reread) Hugh Carson's comments on the Swiss Cheese Model of Accident Causation or read the entire Human Factors Analysis and Classification System- HFACS article (pdf article). (Hugh's comment can be accessed anytime through the site map or documents worth reading pages.)

I think what is demonstrated on this volatile thread is that our Organizational Climate (slice 4), specifically Culture (norms and rules, values and beliefs, organizational justice) here on theysaid is so safety oriented that someone like NCCrew can't even mention that firefighting might be risky without many of you jumping on his/her case. On the one hand, this response is a healthy way to instruct those lurking firefighters who haven't yet addressed or internalized an attitude of safety. On the flip side, I think by jumping on NCCrew that you're preaching to a member of the choir. My opinion. Ab.
12/16 ref: NCCREW,

I think I understand what you're trying to say. That firefighters DO die while performing their jobs and that we all need to be aware that it could happen to us. And not all deaths are caused by the direct actions of the deceased, firefighters that die in vehicular accidents aren't all to blame, in some instances the drivers were either tired, driving recklessly, and in one recent case, they had been drinking. (Ab comment: It is now thought that they had not been drinking, only that they had purchased alcohol.) And we've all heard stories and read reports of crews not receiving accurate and needed weather reports which resulted in disaster. Heart attacks is another area that we can't control. We've all probably seen people in base camp that look like they need a good P.T. program mixed in with a dash of Jenny Craig, but it's not always those folks who go down. I'm reminded of a soldiers' death a few years ago that was investigated by a close relative of mine. This soldier was in his mid-20's, appeared to be in top shape, Ranger, and Special Forces certified. One day during a ruck march in the hills, he sits down from not feeling well, and in five minutes he's dead despite CPR being initiated almost immediately. My point is, that if this could happen to a special operations soldier in prime physical conditioning (on the outside anyway) then it can happen to us also.

None of us sign up for the job with the intent of dying, it probably only crossed our minds when concerned family members and friends brought it up. I received 2nd and a small amount of 3rd degree burns fighting a fire early in my career. I didn't like being burned, and I'd rather not die that way, let alone get burned again. Now years later as a company officer and instructor of fire, haz-mat and, of all things, incident safety officer courses, I can take that lesson learned and apply it to my crews so that they're never put in the same position I was. Injuries and deaths resulting from incidents such as mine can be avoided. One of my bosses is fond of saying that we didn't start the fire, things are already bad, we're just gonna do our best to make the situation better, but we'll do it safely.

As far as deaths by burns and smoke inhalation. Those can be avoided for the most part. Fire can be made into a mathematical figure. When all elements and conditions are taken in effect, the fire and it's behavior can be predicted accurately. One of my S-290/390 instructors told me, "Fire can amaze you, fire can astound you, but fire should never, ever, surprise you." The good thing about firefighting is that, unlike the military, we don't have a term called acceptable losses, because no loss is acceptable with us. While we can't foresee every danger in our way nor know for certain every person's health history. We still, in my opinion, are a very safe career field as long as experienced leaders are there to guide the new folks. And it's getting safer all the time. If my child ever wants to fight fire, I won't stop them, sure I'll be nervous, but I'll be comforted, and damn proud to know their bumping up a line in safer conditions, and with more of a voice in their assignments, than I had.

Sign me as
keeping them safe.
12/16 Hello all,

I think I understand where NCCREW is coming from. I don't think he/she
is saying that we have to face the fact that we're all going to die in a
fire someday, but more that we have to understand that the possibility
is there. At every fire/medical aid we go to, that anything can
happen. No matter how much control you think you may have on the fire,
something unexpected could arise, even if it is due to firefighter
error. But death is a possibility of the job. Take 9-11 for instance.
Did you see any civilians rushing back into the collapsing buildings to
save lives, no, they were all firefighters/police. And each and every
one of them knew that there might not be a chance of getting out alive.
But they accepted that risk to save as many people as possible, to do
their job. It's not that our deaths are inevitable, it's that we all
need to know the possibility is always there. And I agree that
firefighters need to be willing to accept that risk. Other wise we
would run or watch like everyone else in the crowd. Taking that risk is
part of the job, and yes there are things to do to possibly prevent
accidental deaths, but you can't prevent everything. I don't agree that
firefighter deaths are inevitable, just possible.


p.s. Thanks for this awesome site Ab.
12/16 I don't think anyone needs to worry about NCCrew being a yahoo.
He's safety oriented all right, knows his 10 and 18 and follows them.
Lighten up all of you.

12/16 NCCrew

I had to say something to your comments about Line of Duty Deaths... if that is really your attitude perhaps YOU need to seek another career! It is absolutely unacceptable to believe that line of duty deaths are just a part of the job. The attitude of "it could happen to me" tells me that you are not applying the 10/18/LCES and all the safety principles we teach and use on every response. I, for one, sure wouldn't climb on any rig where you're the leader nor would I allow anyone else to. Your thoughts sound like those folks that say your safety zone is on your waist (your shelter)! I spent alot of years throwing dirt, draggin hose and working on Incident Management Teams and line of duty deaths or injuries are NOT ACCEPTABLE, period.

Yes, accidents happen and folks do get hurt or killed but it is not acceptable and there was a reason it happened and we must strive to prevent the accident. There are a myriad of reasons that accidents happen, we research what happened and determine how to prevent it from happening again. Safety and accident prevention is a mind set that we all must have every day.

Yes, we are faced with changing conditions and are often dealt a crummy hand, we either mitigate the threat or change the strategy or tactic, we do not just accept the assignment. Houses and vegetation will regrow, firefighters don't.

We must always remember that the objective is to contain and suppress the fire and to make sure that EVERYONE goes home safely to their loved ones every time. That is the most important job of all management and every single firefighter on an incident.

Just my views on things.

12/16 Folks,

It is a risky job we've chosen for ourselves, but these risks can be
minimized but one with the right kind of experience will know they can't
all be completely eliminated.

Happy Holidays Terry T
12/16 NCCrew,

I think I know what you mean, it depends on whether the glass is half full (minimizing risk, choosing safety, maintaining situational awareness) or half empty (knowing ALL risk cannot be mitigated because humans make errors sometimes, making sure you have proper insurance for the sake of your family).

Is it time to be writing Mission and Vision statements? to clarify your safety attitudes? You one o them thar yahoos? Do we need to keep track of how many times you been run out, how many close calls youve had?

(Ab, you bad on combining those posts.)

Yep, my bad... Ab.

12/16 NCCrew,

I am wondering what you would do with a good PowerPoint show on "the
art of burning out"?

Given the first part of your post on the inevitability of LODD's and that safety
doesn't really belong in the fire service, all I can imagine is that you want to
teach your crew to play with fire and accept the deaths that result.

vfd cap'n

Hi vfd cap'n. Posting those two NCCrew posts together was my doing. I shouldn't have done that given the implications that arise by having both in the same post. Must be slippin'. Now yer in for it NCCrew. Ab.
12/16 NCCREW:

I can't agree with you less. For you to say that if someone is not willing to accept the risk of death in wildland firefighting they should get another job is ludicrous.

It is not now and never has been my job to risk my crews or my own life to protect a few acres of brush, trees or houses.

If you want to use the analogy that we accept the risk of death every we get in our cars and drive down the highway, and we do it anyway, I might be able to accept that. I don't believe that firefighting, for a properly trained and situational aware individual is any more dangerous and probably is less dangerous than daily driving. How many people died last year in traffic accidents 43,000? 35,000 due to drunks. Don't quote me on exact # 's but it is close for example's sake.

For police officers God Bless them all, I can't say the same. A fire is not out there trying to hurt anyone like a criminal is. If someone dies on a fire it is because they screwed up, period. Death is not an inherent risk of the job. I am not trying to make light of the sacrifices made when someone died trying to save a human life because like Jesus said "Greater love has no man except he lay his life down for his brother".

I think your last statement of accepting dying as a "possible inevitability" is a freaking oxymoron. Possibility does not equal inevitability. The fact that I am going to die someday is an inevitability. The chance that it could happen on a fire is a possibility that I have a great deal of control over. I am doing everything I can to improve my chances, and I am starting by REFUSING RISK.

12/15 Re: LODDs

I just wanted to make my comment on what Aberdeen and a few others have said about dying in the line of duty. I've noticed this topic pops up here and there.

I know this is an odd topic and I am most likely going to have a hard time expressing what I really mean in text but here goes... As firefighters or police officers, you sign onto the job knowing full well that death is a very real possibility. Should we needlessly lay our lives on the line, NO! But as a civil servant, taking a reasonable risk in the face of uncertain and potentially hazardous circumstances is something we are asked and expected to do. It is a risk I accept. And if one does not accept it, then perhaps a realignment in their occupation is needed.

Aberdeen, I have to disagree with you, firefighter deaths are inevitable. When you place someone in a hazardous environment, and as long as "to error is human", then things are going to go wrong sometimes. If we removed the inevitability of firefighters dying, I would dare say, we could not do our jobs effectively. For structural firefighters, no going into a burning house, no exterior attack from inside the collapse zone, heck no responding either, car accidents are a leading cause of deaths. For wildland guys, I don't know how we could do our job at all without putting ourselves at risk for the "inevitable"...death. If you do not accept dying in the performance of your job as a possible inevitability; then one should find a job without a beneficiary form.

On another topic, I need to ask a favor or the WLF family. If anyone has any good powerpoint shows or documents on the art of burning out i would love to get them.


12/15 Lobotomy,

"My training and qualifications don't relate any way to my current OPM classification... huh? I have asked the question.... have you?"

Yes. I am currently a GS-0301. I have also been the following series: GS-0401 (Biologist), GS-0499 (SCEP- Biologist Series), GS-0355 (Computer Clerk), GS-0025 (Park Ranger), and WG-02.

I had a hell of a time getting a position description that fit what I do- so I was misclassified for about 5 years. My solution was to help my agency write a state-wide position description for my job. The move from a "professional" series (requires a 4 year degree) to the "administrative" series for our position was greatly debated. My feeling was I personally could make the move because for once our position descriptions reflected the very quantifiable jobs we do (and the need for a four year degree for the position could not be adequately supported). I have been told this will harm me in my overall goal to become a manager/leader in the future- I hope not, but I have taken that chance.

I am fortunate that our management, agency, and personnel shop saw the need to create an accurate position description. I still have the 2 inches of PDs that we used to reach our final solution. Now the agency is working on national PDs to create a career ladder.

Maybe it is time to bring back the wildland firefighter series with KSAs that truly reflect the skills needed as Hutch explained. That way the ranking reflects the training/skills needed (ie HAZMAT experience/training is addressed). The key is being able to quantify a position regardless of the locale.

Lobotomy- your passion is impressive. I hope this gave you a better idea as to my background on the issue.


12/15 For the guy looking for pictures of Roman Nose


This is the best site for lookouts.

12/15 Mellie re history of the 456/462/460/401 series jobs, etc:

You have it right on the pre-0462/0455 (forestry technician/range technician) series. There was a strictly fire series for the Forest Service and I believe the BLM as well during at least the 50s, 60s and very early 70s. I do not recall any longer what the BLM series was, but with the Forest Service it was 0456 Fire Control Technician/Aid and the job descriptions were well fit to the wildland fire job. The series was a good launch for those that ultimately became covered under Firefighters retirement.

The agency made the change to the 0462 series in I think it was '71 or '72 when they eliminated all the specialty job series that they had previously used (fire, rec, timber). The justification given at the time was that by consolidating all the series into the single 0462 series an employee could more easily qualify for jobs in the "other series" and that it would also facilitate complying with job descriptions for the agency as it related to what we did when not fighting fire. It was explained that it would also better represent what the employees did. Well 30+ years later it is still being debated just as hotly as it was when it was instituted.

Now I would like to digress back to the Firefighter retirement issues for a brief moment. The original 0462 (forestry tech) fire position was amended to reflect the fire experience requirements of the old 0456 (fire control tech) series to be covered for the original rounds of fire fighter retirement coverage which the current coverage determination is based upon. Most of us that had time in the old 0456 series had to petition for coverage of previous work under firefighter retirement and include copies of our old position descriptions to receive coverage.

The discussions of the 456/462/460/401 series jobs have gone on for years and I suspect will rage for many more years. I would fully support the reestablishment of the old 0456 or a similar series to reflect what today's Wildland Firefighters do because fighting fire today is much more demanding than the 0462 reflects. For example college course work in biology and life sciences count for knowledge and skills for grade as a 0462 (forestry tech) but fire science (even wildland fire), Hazmat and EMT mean nothing when rating a application using the OPM and Agency guidelines. Management must address the accurate position description and rating issues which, I believe, would also resolve the pay, retirement eligibility, drug test, qualifications and a myriad of other issues they are choosing to side step or ignore with the 0462. I realize that some folks will probably disagree with this and that is fine. This is just one persons perspective and I would like to hear others!

Have a good holidays Everyone and remember to be safe out there even if it is winter.

12/14 Have a question that might be easy or hard to answer.

Has anyone one seen the pay scale for " Forestry Techs." in the Southern part
of R-5? If so have they seen the pay scale of other Fire Departments in the
same area? Why are the Feds. being fed peanuts to bust their butts on fires,
while other departments are starting out at 45,000 to 65,000 annually. Can
anyone shed some professional light on this subject?

- Just another Face

12/14 This came to me via a mailing list from my state training group. Greg

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Midnight, Danville California, heart pounding, sound
of sneakers on pavement, sockless, sweating,
adrenaline pumping. Two minutes ago I was climbing
into bed. Now I'm running down a pitch-black street,
full speed, fearing the worst.

Neighbor's sidewalk, dark, don't trip. KNOCK KNOCK
KNOCK. Doorbell too. DING-DONG-DING. C'mon, c'mon,
wake up! There he is. Open the door. I blurt:

CALLED 911!"

Two houses alerted. The next one is the hardest. It's
around the corner, nearest the blaze. Full sprint.
Hope the fire hasn't reached them yet. No sirens. How
long has it been since I called 911? Damn moonless
night. I can't see anything but the fire, now only a
patch of dry grass from the house. No lights. The
occupants are oblivious, probably in bed. Front
walkway is an obstacle course. Jump, guess, steps
maybe. Got lucky, no sprains.

CALLED 911!"

He's fast with the garden hose. Does that ever work?
One more house, then I'll load the car for evacuation.
Legs pump harder, pick it up a notch, sprint now, rest
later, make a mental list of what to take, what to
leave. Cats first, then unfinished Dilbert strips and
art supplies. Computers. Photos. How much can the car

The firemen have my address. Have to meet them out
front. Gotta hurry, but save some energy for the
evacuation. Nah, forget saving energy. Full throttle.
Adrenalin will compensate. Siren approaching. They're
fast, maybe 5 minutes since I called. I wave my arms
and point to the side street. The fire truck slows a
beat, reads me and accelerates toward the fire.

One truck. ONE TRUCK???? The whole hill is on fire. I
should have sounded more worried on the phone. It's my
fault if the neighborhood burns up. Okay, the
arsonist's too.

I fly up my stairs, three at a time. Quickly, survey
belongings. Might not see any of this again. Pam
already put two angry cats in the car; her arms are
bleeding. I throw possessions in empty bins. Look out
the window. I could hit the flames with a golf ball.
Nothing but dry underbrush separates us. Stay calm.
There's still some room in the car. Think, think. What
will I miss most? What am I forgetting?

The car is only half full. It's surprising how little
I "need" when it comes down to it. I sprint toward the
fire to see who's winning. A second fire truck passes
me. Now it's a fair fight.

The neighbors gather on the street, a ragtag theater
of bed- hair, pajamas, and gym clothes, chatting,
comparing stories. We watch, impressed, as the two
fire crews beat down the fire one square foot at a
time. They don't even seem worried. A dozen dark
shapes on the hill make quick work of the perimeter
and methodically mop up the smaller pockets. My pulse
slowly returns to normal. I unload the car and
apologize to the cats.

I often think about that fire, and about the many
ghosts that visited the neighborhood that summer
night. I'm sure I felt the ghosts of engineers who
created a technical miracle called the phone network,
that later spawned the 911 system, so I could report
the fire within 15 seconds of seeing it. And I know I
saw the ghosts of engineers who designed the fire
equipment that allowed two small teams of firefighters
to conquer a burning hill. And there were the ghosts
of all the firefighters who have lived before, having
bequeathed their skills and traditions to each new
generation. Most notably, that night I was also
visited by the ghosts of September 11th, my old
friends. Almost every day they visit to remind me to
be more alert, to investigate strange smells, strange
sounds, as I did that night, until finding one window
view that revealed the flames.

Philosophers have many views of the human soul. In the
end, it's undefined, unfathomable. The only thing I
know for sure is that no one really leaves.

Appreciate your ghosts, especially the ones you can
still hug. Have a great holiday.

Scott Adams

12/14 I am looking for info and pics on Roman Nose Lookout circa 1978-79.
I was the last one to man lookout. Can you help? Lookout located IPNF
Bonners Ferry ID, Selkirk Range.

Thank you
12/14 Hola,

I am an old man these days and no longer fight fires, I let my son do that but eons ago I worked Los Padres and some R-6. I am now collecting Hotshot and Smokejumper patches (As a military jumper I have over 1500 jumps including HALO, HAHO, Freefall and static just not into fires - water, trees and cactus yes).

I am an associate member of NSA and several good old timers have helped me get started and some others such as Dewey Warner and Wayne Williams have been helpful too

But I am always looking for more contacts and willing to send money for beer or patches to collectors.

Thanks, have a good holiday and keep the silk side up.
Rich Perry
12/13 > From your statements..... BLMgirl..... I know you are really supporting us....

"As you can tell I'm just trying to look at it from a totally different angle. We have wildland firefighting sections in our agencies just like realty, minerals, planning, recreation, or resources can all be parts of our agencies. It is a function of managing the land."

These are all COMPLETELY different job series.. Realty, minerals, planning, and resources (except for recreation who could battle for the 0025 series).... Different jobs... different series.... An agency is made up of many different series....

Different jobs and series make up a federal agency... your statement...

I ....." would like to state that I can see the creation of a wildland firefighting series with increasing education requirements, duties including resources responsibilities, and maintaining the positions within the current agencies."

"If we had a single federal wildland firefighting agency I would like to ask- who would your allegiance be to?"

My answer.... the American Taxpayer and Congress...... They dictate the allegiance.....

Basic Allegiance Test to the American Constitution....

Where do the American Taxpayers Act in their government?
1) Judicial Branch
2) Executive Branch
3) Legislative Branch
4) all of the above

If you answered #4 "all of the above"... you are an American. You have the right and responsibility to act in your congress. American citizens are totally in charge of where their government takes them. Participate or take the ride.......

P.S. - When we think about training.... I have had over 2000 hours of agency training to perform my current position.... Do I really need to have a 4 year degree just to perform the requirements of wildland fire job... nope...... Or is my wildland fire job and training the reason that I HAVE JOB..... I perform wildland firefighting... a job specialty not currently recognized by the OPM..... My training and qualifications don't relate any way to my current OPM classification... huh? I have asked the question.... have you?


Lobotomy, do not forget that ALL Agencies are part of the Executive Branch of government. Whatever the name of a new organization if there were to be one, the highest management on down to groundpounders would have to answer to the President before answering to Congress or the American People. Ab.

12/13 Anyone know where I can find a link to the R1 NRCG
Supplement to the Interagency Incident Business
Management Handbook?

12/13 From SoCal CDF, some random articles, thoughts, and rumors:

Taxed Twice! Summary of the extra fee to cover CDF expenses - for LAVE.

I have heard that CDF layoffs have begun. In LMU word is that they're laying off an Office Assistant, 2 Mechanics, a Forester II, a Forestry Assistant, and a VMP Division Chief. There are also rumors that 5 CDF Foresters are going to camps to manage CDF firefighting inmates because their jobs are gone. Does anyone know whether this stuff is true?

Congressional Field Meeting Held "Potential floods <in socal> are a threat to water supplies..."

County leaders criticize fire information

Does anyone know if the EAS (Emergency Alert System) was activated during the SoCal fires? I didn't hear anything. Seems it would have been a logical move in the communication department.

12/13 Wow. Has anyone seen the movie "Firefight"? I just rented the DVD. Please.... don't waste your time and money. It's terrible. And to make matters worse, the story revolves around a firefighter who starts a fire in order to rob an armored car.

Here is a summary from Amazon.com:

"An immense forest fire rages as an armored truck is engulfed in flames. But it's no accident! Fireman Jonas (Steve Bacic) and chopper pilot George (Nick Mancuso) have set the fire to cover robbing the truck. But now that fire is out of control. And it's about to get even hotter! A gang of psychotic thugs, let by menacing Wolf (Stephen Baldwin), is hungry for their loot. A dangerous race has begun... who will claim the stolen cash before it goes up in smoke?"

Remember the 1998 movie, "Firestorm" with Howie Long? Well, "Firestorm" makes "Firefight" look good. Much of the plot does not make sense, most of the acting is terrible, and it's about a firefighter gone bad.

I had never heard of "Firefight" until I saw it on the shelf at the video rental store. My curiosity got the best of me, and I rented it. Now I know why it was never released in theaters..... it went straight to video October 21.

Movie makers can do amazing things with Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), such as making you feel like you are in the middle of the Roman coliseum or a Star Wars battle, but they have a really hard time making forest fires look realistic. And this movie is no exception. As bad as the fire CGI is in this movie, the CGI is about 10% better than "Firestorm" and "Always".

12/13 alaskan "professional"....

wake up and enter the land of the United States... 1949 was a long time ago... you are now represented by the agencies of the United States........

Your views are understood.... they are from someone who doesn't understand the workings of the U.S. government and the Congress... you can educate yourself at http://thomas.loc.gov. Please feel to try out the many links that they provide.

1) The FWFSA has never stated or supported year-long employment that the agencies haven't requested. The agencies have requested positions or have settled with the requests of Employee Organizations that currently meet the 13/13, 18/8, or PFT positions. The agencies decide what positions are required year-round or on a seasonal basis. The FWFSA principles and goals can be found at www.fwfsa.org if you have any questions.

2) With all of your other questions, do you know the names of your state Senators?... the names of your Congressional Representative?... Those questions you ask are not ones that should be directed at the wildland fire community... Those are questions you should ask of your elected officials.... Ask questions here... (and) ask for answers by contacting your elected officials. Both forums provide answers. Maybe you could find some support contacting your elected officials by enlisting the help of your local friends... huh? This is probably the only site that you will find anyone listening to Alaskan concerns... Wake up... people are listening.... You know how many FOLKS BELONG TO THE FWFSA IN ALASKA?..... NONE....

If Alaska wants to be listened to by the voice of wildland firefighters, somebody in Alaska needs to sign up AND STEP UP and express the concerns of Alaskan firefighters. The FWFSA might even consider paying for you to attend our conference..... I'm not an officer of the FWFSA, but I've heard of them paying for the travel for folks who want to become national leaders in wildland firefighter reform. You should probably contact their website.

12/12 I have been reading all the various posts on creation of a "professional fire organization" and firefighter series. It has resulted in some headscratching, nodding in agreement and then talking back to the computer, so decided it was time to write.

In Alaska, that frozen land up north, we have a "professional fire organization", Alaska Fire Service (AFS). It is a BLM organization that was created to provide fire suppression/management for all of the DOI lands in Alaska. When it was created it received funding from the department for that mission. It was staffed for just fire operations and support. The firefighters were and still are in the 0462 series. The FMO's are in the 0401 series, and now that we have fuel specialists they are 0462s. For the decade or so after creation most of the employees worked 4 or 5 months a year because that was all that was needed for them to prepare for the Alaska season and staff fires up here. If there were fires in the lower 48 in August and September they were extended while on fires, but were laid off the day they got back to Fort Wainwright.

The past decade has seen a steady lengthening of the employment terms, with employees often in pay status for 8 or more months rather than the 4 or 5 of the previous decade. From the employees' standpoint this has been a good thing. They finally worked enough to qualify for health benefits, they put more into TSP, they had more money in their bank at the end of the fall, they didn't have to worry about maximizing OT as much and could get a day off in the middle of the season. Fuel specialists were added and we started doing more planning for fires. We added GIS to the mix of tools. We even attempted a few RX fires.

While this was going on at AFS, other DOI agencies were starting to increase their fire staff and the explicit funding from these agencies to AFS disappeared from the budget language. The distance from some of the land management agencies( including BLM) and AFS grew as the land managers expected AFS to do everything with fire suppression. Resource specialists who had previously been interested in fires and helped out became less so as they decided that they had no worries with AFS present. The various versions of the National Fire Plan and various policies started to come out of Washington, mandating that we do more. That giant increase that much of the rest of the country saw in their 2000 budget missed Alaska as we were already at a reasonable staffing level. The FY2004 budget cuts that everyone else has had hit up here. We just cut any seasonals who were on winter projects, unfunded all temporaries except the hotshots, meaning no rookie smokejumpers next year, and told all the career seasonals that they will only have 6 months of work a year for the next few years.

What is the point of this in respect to a "professional fire organization"?

As a fire organization with no real land base and no direct tie to a local agency you will have a hard time justifying keeping people around when times are slow (winter). With no tie to an agency what will you do when there are no trees to mark in the winter because you work for the Fire Service and the Forest Service has hired a marking crew? How do you keep "professionals" around if you can't offer them steady work? Without a tie to the land management agencies who will be an advocate outside of your organization for steady funding? Remember that the funding for this "professional fire organization" will be in the Interior appropriations bill, just like the USFS funding. How will you ensure that the fire planning process is close to correct and that you are funded correctly if the planners are from the land agency (or contracted by the agency)? How will you be integrated into the local planning process so that you know what is out there, what the fuel conditions are like and where the sensitive areas are? Will the veg maps that are produced by the land management agencies be useful to you in your "professional fire organization"? Will you end up duplicating the land managers work and adding a GIS shop so that you can have the tools you need when there is a fire or for whatever planning you may get to do? What will keep the land managers from adding fire staff back on they need the in-house expertise because the "professional fire organization" is too busy navel gazing or helping someone else? What happens when you start mission creep and the land mangers fight back and get dollars out of your organization? What happens when CBO or any other budget watchdog takes a look at what you are doing and decides that you are replicating the land mangers and tells you to cut back? Look at what has happened with the TSA, they got a bunch of money to start with, hired lots of employees and now are laying them off as Congress looks at their budget and decides to get a better bang for their buck elsewhere.

Not all of these problems have occurred at AFS, but many have. Maybe none of these problems will occur if the reorganization advocated by some on this forum takes place, but I bet that over time many of these problems will occur.

There is integration of fire staff going on on the ground already, primarily BLM and USFS, but they are staying within their parent organizations and remaining a part of the land management staff. I for one believe that fire management must stay within the land management agencies.

As to a firefighter series, sure make one up and use it for some fire only positions. Remember that you are now a professional firefighter (not fire management specialist or forest or range technician) and don't attempt to look for slow or off season work on a trails or timber crew because it will be outside your PD. If it is created it should be kept a technician and not used for the upper levels without some positive education requirements in a broad range of fields. Remember that the series are all pretty broad and can be used to cover a variety of positions. The descriptive language in the PD is what really counts. If you want to be accepted as a professional in natural resources, which is what you are talking about with this wildland firefighter, then you have to know more than that dry stuff burns and that a type 6 is smaller than a type 3 engine.

Anyway, enough of a rant for now.

Sign me an Alaskan "professional"

Thanks very much for the different perspectives expressed on this thread. I believe dialogue such as this is of great value to all of us. Ab.
12/12 I would like to state that I can see the creation of a wildland firefighting series with increasing education requirements, duties including resources responsibilities, and maintaining the positions within the current agencies.

If we had a single federal wildland firefighting agency I would like to ask- who would your allegiance be to? Your firefighting manager or the land managing agency? Each agency has a mission- they are all similar though distinct missions (otherwise they would have succeeded in assimilating us a long time ago). The reason we have wildland fire as a part of our federal agencies is that as an agency member we respond to our Forest/Field Office/Park/Refuge's priorities. We are responsible to our managers and in managing the land we need to integrate wildfire.

If you worked for a wildland firefighting agency would your boss want you to spend 25% of your time consulting on creating a Fire Management Plan for another agency (now multiply that by 5 agencies)? What about tracking fuels projects? Where does mitigation and education go? How do the clearances for the projects get done? Does the firefighting agency get to count the acres treated? Why, it's not their land?

If there was one federal wildfire fighting agency you would essentially be contracting your services (planning consultations, execution of projects, mitigation and education, etc) to the federal land managing agencies. Where would the allegiance be? Highest bidder? How would the project be prioritized? Why not just privatize the whole thing?

As you can tell I'm just trying to look at it from a totally different angle. We have wildland firefighting sections in our agencies just like realty, minerals, planning, recreation, or resources can all be parts of our agencies. It is a function of managing the land.

Just a few thoughts,
12/12 Re: National Engines / Handcrews

Until the national contracts the Forest Service never made an attempt to let true contracts for handcrews, or engines to be employed in the fire suppression mission until the National Crew/Engine Contracts. Until the national contracts, competition was not a factor - because the sign up lists used have never made an attempt to conduct a formal source selection process, or reward the better resources. They never had too; when we started you could fit all of the contractors in R6 in my bathroom. Now you need a small stadium. The regions do their best to manage but the market has exploded the last five years and created many problems that could not be foreseen.

Until the national contracts the Forest Service never made a firm commitment to the industry. Until the national contracts there was never any attempt by the Government, the agencies at NIFC, to group the safest, best trained, best managed and best led contactors. And the Fire Operations Managers don't like it. I wonder why? Especially since the Incident Commanders love it!

This (the NC) is a commercially bid contract. The specs can be downloaded at WWW.nifc.gov/contracting Award was based on many criteria - some being experience, qualifications, equipment, references, proposals, with price being factored in as well.

The current system is as follows
Step 1. Get the RFQ (request for quotation from the region you wish to work)
Step 2. Build an engine or assemble a crew.
Step 3. Get a cursory inspection, some are tougher than others. A lot of contractors use their ties with family in the agencies to skirt the edges.
Step 4. Finish your paperwork – submit it.

If you submit all of your paperwork on time, and meet the minimum spec – you will be awarded an agreement. It is not until you are issued an “E” number for a specific fire that your agreement will be a binding contract. Until you’re ordered it’s a total crap shoot. The government has promised nothing.

We were told that the National Contract will be extended for the 2004 season. NCR Engines and Crews are supposed to be dispatched ahead of all R6 agreements, and EERA agreements. Read through the dispatch specs on pages 26-30 of the agreement.

Its intent was to provide the customer (the USFS et al.) with the very best product. The customer has been very happy with the product at the ground level – IC’s, Operations personnel, etc. The hang-up has been with management up the line. I have no clue why but time will tell.

Question: How can I tell if a particular engine or Handcrew is on National contract?
My Answer: It will be identified with the line item ie; Engine NCR2A Crew NCR 3B etc.

Question: Are National Crews, Engine companies “Loose Cannons” that need policing?
My Answer: Probably not – as they were awarded based on reputation, performance, references, etc.

Question: Who Makes policy for National Contract Resources?
My Answer: NIFC has an interagency committee that developed the standards. They all exceed R6 requirements – Until the NCR specs the toughest in the Nation (as far as agreements go).

Question: How do I comment on them?
My answer: You can link at the NFC site www.nifc.gov/contracting. Click on the respective CO you wish to comment to

I hope this helps a little. We feel the NC is a step in the right direction. Some very dedicated personnel input into this contract and it took years to develop. In my opinion the biggest hurdle has been the implementation. The CO’s bust their butts to make it work, but only so much can be done from there. The ACOs really helped out this year. This year was 1000% better than last year. The contract has a few hurdles to solve but nothing that can not be solved for this upcoming season. For what its worth that’s my read on it. Later

Eric @ PW

12/12 To all those weighing in on the whole Firefighter classification / one fire organization / heck with the resource folks thread.

I think that the one thing that drives Fire Management is the same thing you folks seem to want to dismiss. The Forestry, Wildlife, Recreation, and Range disciplines are the things that set the framework for our Fire Management Plans. Our Fire management plans are the place we go to see how we are supposed to deal with that T and E species, or how to weigh the Recreational Values or Watershed Values, or how that Elk Habitat fits into our tactics, strategies and overall program direction.

The point is that Wildland Fire organizations in the federal government are not self supporting. Everything the Fire Program does, whether it's fuels management or suppression, is driven by the needs of Forestry, Wildlife, Recreation, and Range.

I say lets go back top the good old days where everyone in the organization including that FFT2 District Ranger was forced to do fire suppression as part of "other duties as assigned" and get rid of the whole fire program. Let Timber burn their own units after the logging is done.

Seems like a collossal waste of money since we have so many GS 3/4/5/6/7/8 firefighters (Oh, I mean Forestry Techs) standing around during a 90 day strength of force period. Seems to me the GS-9/11/12/13 resource guys who wrote the Fire Plan in the first place could use the O.T. as much as the fire folks could. Why do we need these overpaid firefighters standing around waiting for a fire, when we have all these productive PFT resource guys that could swing pulaskis?

Better yet, lets outsource it all, its got to be cheaper than portal to portal pft firefighters that don't want to be Forestry Techs..............

Haw, Haw, Haw,

Sign Me-
Heck with the Fire Firefighter Series,
I'm a 462
12/12 Anyone have a skidgeon they want to sell?

12/12 Backburnfs is absolutely right! The national firefighting effort will
always be less than it can be so long as time, energy, and money have to be
spent "integrating" all of the agencies that have fire suppression
prevention responsibilities. Just look at everybody's job descriptions,
forestry this, and land management that, and, oh yeah, fire stuff during
the summer months. A new "US Department of Wildland Fire (USDWF)" sounds
just great to me, however, there would of course be problems with that:

One agency making decisions about fuels reduction for National Forests, BLM
Lands, National Parks, etc., etc.??

How would local municipal city/county fire departments fit into that USDWF

I'm sure hundreds of other things that I'm not thinking about, but the
potential advantages of a USDWF are staggering. For one, accountability.
Look at the recent fires in California. During the aftermath, Congressmen,
Senators, and the public in general were asking "Who was in charge?" How do
you answer that question when you've got USDA, USDI, USDHS, Forest service,
Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs,
US Fish & Wildlife Service, CDF, State & Private Foresters, Cities,
Counties, States, Neighboring Nations, and anybody else you can think of
all taking ownership of their piece of the fire pie. Conflicting processes
and procedures, (efforts to the contrary notwithstanding), jurisdictional
and territorial conflicts, competition for funding, etc., etc..

I'd jump ship and join a newly formed USDWF. If for no other reason than I
love to solve complex problems and help create new things. What a massive
workload that would be.

12/12 Nice to here comments on the need for Leadership, Training, Experience,
Common Sense, Critical Thinking Skills, and just plain Fire Savvy needed in
the so called New fire organization. Well I have a few questions...

Why eliminate all folks above the age of 37? Wow talk about shooting
yourself in the foot at a critical time. Open the doors to the flood of
hiring . . . .why? Oh yeah there is a need for bunches of firefighters.
Yup firefighters, not all new firefighters, but firefighters. There is
such a vast amount of knowledge and experience out there not tapped. This
includes the stuff that feeds intuition and that Fire Savvy all are talking
about. Yeah yeah I know there is still the opportunity for these old type
folks to get out and still fight fire, but the actual supervisory positions
that are experience dependant are not open to the needed individuals. I
guess more have to perish before the message is driven home. I still think
good things can come out of the tragedies, but they have to be objective,
acted on and followed-up. Things NOT to do are as important as what TO do,
but I don't see the follow-ups to comments made from investigations. Lack
of knowledge, lack of experience, lack of leadership skills, they are all
there. Ok Ok, lets just throw more money at it and more training. Great
... this is fine for the future, but what about now. So let's just keep
fighting fire with what we have and eventually it will be up to speed.

Where are the firefighters with the knowledge and the know-how for the NOW?...
they are considered to be to old for those positions. I know
that there are a lot of great young firefighters out there and they are
doing an outstanding job, so then why am I still hearing the comments aimed
at the above issues. Yeah yeah and I know it will take time, but is this
the kind of time we can afford, and at what cost? Hmmmm.

Sorry to get on a soap box, but I come from the private sector and believe
it or not, when there is a program that needs to be done right (like all of
them) you don't make policies that cut off your right leg. You go get what
you need (best people, equipment and resources possible) to do the job and
get it done right ! I guess what the fire program may need is a little
competition to put a little scare in it. Competition? What am I saying
.... aren't the lives of firefighters a big enough concern to install the
ethic of doing a job the best way possible with all the possible resources
available? Guess I haven't assimilated yet.

I supposed you guessed it. I am over 37 and am interested in supervising
firefighters. I am a single resource boss and am not part of the actual
fire program, but they sure ask when they need me since our fire program
has minimal single resource qualified folks. And no some older folks
can't get a non-primary position due to someone's impression that they
don't have enough experience, and how are they supposed to get that
experience if they can't start at a lower position? They are considered
too old for that stuff. Wow what a catch-22. But wow look at all those
young firefighters with all the experience they don't have for the
positions they do have. Makes you think. Oh yeah one other thing ...
age....ok then how can a 60 year old person hold a seasonal fire job, work
directly next to a younger permanent firefighter doing the same job, for
the most part for the same length of season? Ok ok there is the early
retirement so that we don't have 65 year old firefighters, but how long do
you think all these new firefighters will be in their current positions
when this is the only way to get into government employment? Wow a whole
different issue.

Alright this is in conclusion. It may sound like this is all about me but
I really do have a deep concern about this new fire program as it is and I
can't be alone on this. I have sat with too may people getting on their
own soap boxes and the number seems to keep getting bigger.

I know there are plenty of new training programs, especially the new Fire
Leadership training and the apprenticeship program, but please some one
prove my statements wrong or set me straight. Sorry to be so negative but
I thought I may spark a little discussion. It aint all bad out there.

Thanks for the opportunity to post this .... I think

Just a concerned Irishman
12/12 Old Fire Guy, Hutch, one of you other old <¿heh?> retired or not retired <heh> guys, Can anyone tell us how the 0462 and 0455 series came to be? Didn't there used to be a firefighter series? Maybe I am misremembering. I recall someone telling me about a shift some time back like 20-30 years ago. What was that all about? I would like to know the history so we can have some perspective on all this.

There sure is a good discussion going - on several threads.

12/12 Lobotomy, You are not getting it. The Old Fire Guy is telling you that "it was good enough for us so why not for you?"

There needs to be a National Fire Service. Too many Agencies are involved in wildland fire. It used to be just the Forest Service.

Now the FS, BLM, Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, DOD and BIA all have their own wildland fire departments. We are all competing for the same money and every agency is building its own empire. We have to stop the madness.

Yes we need Foresters in the FS and Range dudes in the BLM. These agencies are loosing money in the other resource areas and sucking it off the fire programs to make up the difference.

Old Fire Guy, we need perspective in management yes but those managers we have now i.e. district rangers are moving up without getting the needed fire experience to manage the complexities of the fire program. My Ranger for instance is a Firefighter 2. Where is the perspective?

We need to down size the agency fire organizations and have them hire the planners (wildlife, fuels, timber) when they come up with a project such as thinning and planting they should contract it out to the thinners and planters the rec planners should contract out the toilet cleaning and trail building. Firefighting and Rx fire should be done by the firefighters.

We need to build a National Wildland Fire Service. Run by fire professional able to respond to all types of incidents and support the other agencies' missions to provide environmental stewardship by providing expertise and a labor pool for those functions that need the fire skills.

Most of the specialists in the agencies are no longer part of the militia of fire-going personnel and most fire program employees only work in the off season on the timber marking and other projects anyway.

Our duties are to be fire professionals not the jacks of all trades and the masters of none. I don't feel that I am too good to do these other jobs, I have built miles of trails, marked many acres of timber and cleaned hundreds of toilets. While this gave me a wide perspective on how the FS worked it was mostly done because those other functions didn't have any money to get their work done so they used the fire crews. Priorities in the Federal agencies do not lend to a professional fire organization and won't until more of the Old Fire Guys either retire or change their perspectives on what is important.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

12/12 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are all updated. Ab.
12/12 My frustration & anger levels headed for the high level again today! No, not from something I read on "TheySaid", but rather from reading an article from the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday, 12/10/03 that talked about the report on Steve Rucker's death on the Cedar fire.

The news article quoted the Novato Fire Chief, as well as some of the findings from the CDF report.

Some examples that I found especially maddening:

"They made....a mad dash for their lives."
"....attempting to create a fire break around a house...."
".....the wind shifted (90 degrees) bringing new gusts from the ocean on the West."
"The fast moving blaze covered a half mile in two minutes....".
"They were expecting the fire to go one way, and then it changed abruptly".
"....planned to regroup in a last ditch effort to save the house.......".
"Using water line, he tried to protect Rucker but got only 15 seconds of water before the engine's tank went dry.....".
".......we can train our personnel to do the right things....."
".....there was not much else his crew could have done differently."
".....created problems that many of us had never seen before.....".

So, looks like firefighter fatalities are inevitable, and we just have to accept the conditions, and have the term "America's Hero" carved on our tombstones?? Tell that to my wife and family!!

Without being critical of Steve's memory, it seems (from this article, at least), that the Chief is ready to accept another similar result the next time he sends a crew to SoCal for a Santa Ana event!

When do we stand up and address the reality of Interface fires:

  1. Homeowners are primarily responsible for making their homes FireSafe BEFORE a major fire occurs;
  2. We don't need to make LAST DITCH efforts to save homes when it puts firefighters at risk;
  3. Wildland fire weather and fire behavior is a complex interaction of many forces: if you're not real experienced in that environment, don't go without an "expert" at your side;

I know that the timing of the CDF report, the attendant publicity, and posts such as mine don't make it easy on Steve's family, especially with the Christmas holidays so close. My intent is not to cause them pain. But......other areas (Florida, the Southeast) are moving into their fire season even as the snow flies in the West. And, if we don't ask the hard questions, and make the necessary changes to our way of doing business, we'd better be ready for more fire truck funeral processions in the months and years ahead.


12/12 To the AB,

quite frankly, it's amazing that you can monitor this informative & welcome site so well - kudos! if half the readers come away with a small degree of what many have learned by reading all the "STUFF", they are ahead of the game. btw, "stuff" is now a PC term, ask Ahnold.

Seasons Greetings!

12/11 AB: Leslie Anderson at MTDC has the Fire Shelter pub translated into Spanish.

Dick Mangan

Do you know if that's online? I'll make a list of resources as we hear of them. The powerpoints of the basic courses might also give them an idea of what we stress in US courses. The text of those should be fairly easy to translate. Thanks, Dick. Ab.

12/11 Old Fire Guy, best wishes to you also this holiday season.....

I agree with you on 99% of your post. I do take offense that you think some of us are those .... "who feel they are too good to clear trails, clean toilets, mark timber..."

There are lots of folks within the Federal Land Management agencies who are "Professionals" who still have collateral duties identified ....and many of us still come out and clear trails, clean toilets, mark timber, teach classes, count fish, count eagles, paint buildings, ...etc....

Those of us who want a new series are not people who "feel they are too good" as you have said. We are people who are wanting to use the "tools" that the OPM and Congress have given the Agencies and US, the employees and citizens, to make a better workplace. As I have said before, for some reason, the Agencies are "unwilling" or "unable" to step up and fix the problems. There was never any intention of removing any of the other duties that the fire workforce completes year to year. None of us is "too good" to perform other duties and tasks... we just want proper classification.

The intention is to fix and remedy recruitment, retention, and training issues within the fire organization. We are going after these issues in a legislative means since the agencies can't seem to find their butts when asked to so by the GAO or by members of Congress. Ooops... hope I didn't hit a nerve.

12/11 Re: curso de oficiais de bombeiros/instrutor de bombeiros

boa tarde meu nome é marcelo pereira sou comandante de bombeiros voluntários aqui no brasil e gostaria de sabe o custo do curso mencionado acima, pois gostaria de aprender novas técnicas com os bombeiros americanos.

atenciosamente marcelo pereira.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ab's best attempt at translating from Portuguese:
Re: firefighter officials course/ firefighter instructor

Good evening my name is Marcelo Pereira. I am a volunteer commander of firefighters here in Brazil and would like to know the cost of the course mentioned above (below, in a post). I'd like to learn how to share technical news with American firefighters.

Considerately, Marcelo Pereira.

Marcelo, Pede sobre o curso de treinamento "Fogo de Wildland, Segurança no Fireline"? Alexander de Marty conversa sobre ele em 12/8/03.
Ou pede sobre Pulaski é curso de treinamento? Inclui "algumas simulações iniciais de ataque". Conversa sobre ele em 12/11/03.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Marcelo, Do you ask about the training course "Wildland Fire, Safety on the Fireline"? Marty Alexander talks about it on 12/8/03.
Or do you ask about Pulaski's training course? It includes "some initial attack simulations". He talks about it on 12/11/03. Ab.

Readers, is there a contact in Boise for foreign wildland firefighters? We sometimes get requests for training materials that could be translated into their language. Ab.

12/11 With the opening of the Department of Interior FIRES hiring system on December 15th closing in fast, I have a website that anyone who would like work as a wildland firefighter for the Nevada BLM should check out. The webpage is for the Elko BLM and it's URL is www.nv.blm.gov/elko/fire. You can find links to the DOI FIRES website (the second generation of Quickhire) and information about the Elko BLM Fire program including the Ruby Mountain Hotshots, Elko Helitack, and Engine Crews.

12/11 Firefighter Series? Can I play too?

Here are some thoughts: Foresters, biologists, range conservationists etc. all need a working knowledge of fire. It's a tool they need to be able to use to manage the land, and it's a natural phenomenon that has a valid role in ecosystems. So, don't anyone count on a "fire organization" that will claim fire as its own domain.

The 462 series lists work for which no 4 year degree is "required" although many in the series do indeed have a degree in natural or social sciences or arts. They do a wide variety of work. Some perform timber duties, recreation, wildlife, range, fisheries, and yes FIRE duties. Sounds like a "ranger" from the early decades. Here too, don't count on a future organization that would not utilize folks in the 462 series. They are our "militia" and we can't get the job done without them.

Should there be a separate, recognized series for "firefighters"? Heck, that's more than fine with me. But let's not set that up as an exclusive club that fails to recognize or appreciate the necessary role of other "series". The "firefighter" series could be helpful in identifying "career ladder" opportunities. One more time, don't count on that series as having the exclusive ladder to fire leadership. Top leaders do not usually come from a single resource background. Successful upper managers have a variety of background and experience…..it's called "perspective".

If there are any out there who feel they are too good to clear trails, clean toilets, mark timber, and are waiting for the "pure firefighter" job with yearlong employment…..good luck, your opportunities are limited.

But hey, it's the holiday season, and best wishes to all.

Old Fire Guy
12/11 Hi hotline

Responding to your question about gaining knowledge I think
that wildland fire history is very important. How many times
will the Butte fire situation trap other crews in the future.
How about the Loop incident and many other situations
that I see repeated.

I would hope that base knowledge would not only include
the past fire situations that are significant but solutions
using training that is performance based. We need to
know how to dodge the bullet on future situations.

The thirty mile lessons learned is deficient in my opinion.
I did learn that heads roll and serious discipline will result
from being involved in deployment and fatality accidents.
I am not convinced that disciplinary measures will result in significant
accident prevention. Furthermore I feel the situational
awareness while a good idea and beginning is just that,
a beginning. The mitigation measures are fire danger
elements and not fire behavior elements.

I ask myself the question, just what should have the firefighters
known before they were placed in the thirty-mile situation?
Staff rides are excellent but they have limited wide spread
use. The staff ride idea needs to expand to cover more firefighters.
I think there should be staff rides on well run incidents
as well as problem fires. There are a lot more successfully
run fires than fatality fires. We need to learn from our successes
as well. I think it is evident that more training needs to be supported
and training courses reviewed to assure they are useful in situations.

Academic training has been the primary training for years. I have yet
to see someone tell a fire story where they used Nomograms or
BEHAVE, S-290 or S-390 to avoid a situation like firefighters faced
on the South Canyon fire. Firefighters are avoiding hazards
with experience and intuition. Those who lack sufficient intuition
gained from experience suffer the consequences. Who's fault is that?
Learn more from the past and predict the future.

There is a lot to do before we can assure safety on the fireline.

12/11 JLB

Have you looked at Sierra National Forest? They're helitack crew is
located in Mariposa, CA. You can contact the Bass Lake District Office
@ (559) 877-2218 and ask for the number to the helitack base.


Sounds like a good idea to me. That's like some of the training I've
done in some fire command courses. It really helped to understand
everything that happens, and could happen, and how to handle it. Our
instructor would throw us curve balls once we got the hang of it. He
started off easy with very few "what if's", as we got the hang of it, he
gave us more and more "what if" situations. It really made you think,
and it helped to be be able to see the "what if" situations when out on
calls. It also helps you to be more aware of everything going on. It
makes good firefighters.

12/11 curious,

Perhaps you could clarify your question about the national crews.

Are you asking about national crews themselves and how they perform?
How can you tell who they are?
Are you asking about how the companies manage/ maintain/ train their crews?
Who are they?
Maybe you are asking about the national crew contract?
Are you asking if a national contract a step in the right direction?
Who makes policy for the national crews?
How does somebody comment about them?
Are they supposed to be better crews?
Better training?
What does "national" mean?

Please define "...more policing?"
Are the national crews, or the companies that provide them "loose cannons" that need "policing"?
Are they supposed to be more professional and/or better behaved than other contract crews? or Agency Crews?

Has there been success with national crews? or, have there been problems unique to the use of national crews?

Does your question also apply to national engines?

My questions apply to national engines as well. Does anyone know?

Just trying to understand all of it.

12/11 On the poison Oak subject-
The Horseshoe Meadow guys would always use Soap Root.
It works great and is found in the same areas as Oak. Our crew
was never without a piece in someones pack.
Ex beantown shot
12/11 Pulaski,

I spent last week at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland as a
student in the Volunteer Incentive Program. I took the 6-day "Command and
Control of Incident Operations" class. The course drew heavily on the
Firescope ICS guide from California.

In 2 days of intermediate ICS classroom instruction and 4 days of
simulations they forced us to tailor our command structure to the priorities
of the incident. The instructors kept hammering on us to quickly establish
only the divisions/groups/branches needed to solve the problem, while
maintaining unity of command and span of control. Then we had to assign
incoming resources to the most pressing priority.

The acronym they taught us was "RECEO VS." The first five letters are
written down the left side of the page, with the last two on the right, like

R - Rescue
E - Exposures V - Ventilation
C - Containment S - Salvage
E - Extinguishment
O - Overhaul

RECEO is the sequential order of incident priorities, with VS varying in
order depending on circumstances. In structural firefighting, ventilation
must sometimes be done before a rescue can be performed and often has be
timed with efforts to contain a fire to a single room or extinguish it
altogether. Salvage is sometimes the last thing we worry about, or it may
top the list when we protect computers and records at a commercial fire
(assuming rescue isn't needed or possible.)

A division could be responsible for the all or part of RECEO VS in their
geographical area, or they might work with a group that is assigned a single
function, such as rescue or ventilation.

When used in conjunction with proper size-up, RECEO VS allows the IC to
quickly form the incident action plan and communicate it to everyone else.

Not sure if this is Greek, but it makes sense to me. I don't see why it
wouldn't work for wildfire.

vfd cap'n
12/11 Dick Mangan, Lobotomy and others:

let me play devil's advocate for a minute: suppose
there is a wildland fire series created. then what?
us FF's roll up on a fire on a national forest, or blm
land, get out of our trucks to get after it, and a
biologist shuts us down - saying there are endangered
species at risk.

how has the professional series changed anything about
the job we do? is it simply a benefit issue for FF's?
i have nothing against that, in fact i'm all for it.

but i'm at a loss at how it will change the fire
operations side of things. what i can see is a lot of
headbutting going on, as biologists/foresters/fire
folks/etc. all try to claim priority on a fire. will
the fire series suddenly become a trump card?

just curious -

12/11 Hello,

First off I wanted to say what a great site you have.
Second of all, I kind of need some help from the readers. I have spent four seasons with the forest service three of them with a type 2 crew and one on a engine. This year I am interested in being on a helitack crew, location doesn't really matter to me. If anyone has names of some good crews and or contact information all the help would be greatly appreciated. There are only a few on the web that I can find.

Thank you again.
12/11 Great discussions everyone!

Not to derail the current topic, but I have a question for the board that I would like some feedback on. I am in the process of rewriting a training course that includes some initial attack simulations. At home over the last few years during our in house fire simulations we have made a practice that once the problem has been presented everyone, writes out what objectives they would set for the incident (beyond the standard protect lives and property). I presented this idea to my group for the training course and they all kinda looked at me like I was talking greek or something so I dropped it.

I like this exercise. To me it not only helps the IAIC look at the big picture but by providing concise, obtainable objectives, it provides the framework for everyone working on the incident (when done well) and helps get everyone on the same page.

12/11 ok, I can't resist jumping into the poison oak discussion

senario: after 1 "tour" on the LP, guess what? major outbreak of rash, first trip ... 2 NIGHTS home @ shot base then a return "tour". a month later while waiting to get a prescription filled at pharmacy, pager said call base *L* back to the LP for a third time! that winter was a series of injections, after testing by a board certified dermatologist/allergist M.D.

Larry, if you want to follow your dream, hope you have good medical insurance to prepare your body for any future firefighting in CA's middle elevation regions in poison oak territory. Flameboy is correct, some ppl are highly allergic & no guarantee where you will fight fire. breathing the smoke can cause an airlift trip to the ER to save your life. also remember Poison Ivy grows in eastern states. you don't want a maybe FIX after the fact.

aside to the "home remedy" ppl: peroxide? what ever happened to a generous slathering of a salt & vinegar mixture? or kerosene? thanks for the memories = comic relief!

12/10 Howdy

To anyone planning on applying on the quickhire website, make sure you
do not exceed the max number of characters allowed. I had to type my
resume approximately 15 times before it occurred to me why my resume
was not being saved. 500 characters means 500 characters.

Thanks, good luck
12/10 Ab, I think your comment to earthpig missed the point. He (SHe?) said he
didn't know what he was SUPPOSED to be doing, not that he didn't know what
he was doing. The point is (and I most heartily agree) that historically
the fire "management" department has a been expected to be everything to
everyone. Many still think we are supposed to be the strong backs that
cut trees, move furniture, mow the lawns, fill in on marking crews,
thinning projects, biological survey crews, as planting inspectors, clear
the roads, manage the facilities and fleet, maintain campgrounds and on and

Everyone acknowledges that times have changed and the technical leadership
requirements of wildland fire management has become extremely complex. We
still do that other stuff sometimes too, but without a clear statement of
"leaders intent" there will never be the government wide consistency in all
our processes that congress and others are demanding of professional
wildland firefighters.

I agree entirely with Lobotomy, earthpig and NorCal Tom. I also know the
folks mentioned by Dick Mangan, and know that they are doing their best for
us at their levels. Problem is, I know from personal experience how easy
it is lose touch with the people below you and their needs when you've been
away for a while. I hope the WO folks give the classification issue a
close look and not jump too quickly into a defensive mode.


Point taken. But I did say "supposed to be doing". That diversified system has existed for years and firefighters have performed their non-fire mission whether they liked it or not. The competitive sourcing process will make doing those tasks obsolete. Then what? The times they are a changin'. Ab.
12/10 Ab

FMS and others have made some excellent points. The problem now is not how
we did things in the past but how we should be doing things in the future.
The 455, 462 and the 401 series are not adequate to us working as
firefighters and fire managers. We most certainly are firefighters working
within fire management organizations at least I am! I guess some of us are
just foresters and range cons that occasionally fight fires. I thank all
of you working hard to secure the new classifications and look forward to
your success.

Terry T

You a member of FWFSA? haw haw, I hope so. Ab.
12/10 O'Highlander,

Some attributes of the firefighting professional: critical thinker, has leadership skills, communication skills, knowledge of fire behavior, use of tools from simple to highly technical, knowledge relating to staying safe, work ethic, safety ethic (but you're right, how to measure those), education is important nowdays, having career goals to work for; for a hotshot, I would say demonstrating a blend of fire technician and fire artist. Trained and certified in many ways in our complex FF environment.

I think leadership skills are critical but I see what you mean about ethics. The two are different attributes. Hitler might have been considered a good leader by Nazis of his time but he had some terrible ethics. On the other side, some FF with good ethics may not have leadership skills. (I can think of several recent examples.) Leadership training can help with gaining those skills. For some, all the training in the world wouldn't help.

You're saying that those who become wildland firefighters as an alternative to participating in extreme sports should be identified, mentored in thinking "safety" and not placed into leadership positions until they demonstrate a more mature attitude? We all joke about being adrenalin junkies... we are. Most of us need a few seasons under our belt to take the edge off that one. Longer if we don't have a good supt to straighten us out. I have been lucky. I can still remember my first big fire, just standing there in awe of the power of it until I got wacked up the side of the head by the supt.

It's pretty clear that you think writing out a personal mission & vision statement would better create or at least identify whether the person is even interested in an "environment of safety" on the ground. I know some people who are not smart enough for that. Some I've seen don't speak English well enough. Of course they're not going for leadership training either and they won't progress to supt. Some who want a supervisory job might put down whatever they think will get them the job, true or not. We always seem to have one or more like that. Some would be able to talk the talk but not walk the walk. I take it that's why you say personal track record for #5. Also why people who are hiring should call those references before hiring...

Don't you think your #2 about building a knowledge base should have training and experience come under it? Like below? How else do you get knowledge? OK. Just being in the FF environment you soak up some of the knowledge/culture. I guess new people gain some knowledge on theysaid too.

  1. Human element, a mission and vision statement reveals ethics.
  2. Acquiring a knowledge base.
    1. Training. Useful and performance based training.
    2. Experience. Know wildland fire behavior before OJT assignments.
  3. Personal track record tells all. Do not ignore it.


What do you mean, SOME knowledge. I'd say A GREAT DEAL of knowledge. If you aren't, yer not asking questions. Ab.

12/10 i was wondering what everyone thinks about the national contract crews.
are we heading in the right direction? still need more policing? no
political correctness needed or desired.

12/10 Mission: What it is that you do.
What you want to become.

In the fire service we usually see the mission as saving lives, property and resources.
The vision is not usually evident.

After working my way up the ladder from crewman to hotshot superintendent to D.F.M.O., I look back and review my own personal M/V's. I found that my Mission and Vision statements helped me understand and develop what I call my firefighting ethics.

Leadership skills are necessary but without a set of ethics, they can lead to disaster. In reviewing burnover situations I always wonder about the leader's ethics. Was the envelope being pushed?

I found that not knowing the person's ethics was a worry to me because I could not know how far the envelope would be pushed.

To me the order of importance in the development of a professional firefighter is:
  1. Human element, a mission and vision statement reveals ethics.
  2. Acquiring a knowledge base.
  3. Training. Useful and performance based training.
  4. Experience. Know wildland fire behavior before OJT assignments.
  5. Personal track record tells all. Do not ignore it.

I am interested in the readers' thoughts about how to describe a professional. I offer this as material for comment.

I will begin with posting a vision statement that I formulated which describes my own past ethics statement that I now consider a hazard.

A Hotshot Superintendent's Mission:

To engage the fire as in a contest. To do everything possible to control the fire.
Success or failure is accepted as part of the days work. To become physically
fit and hardened to the rigors of the life of a Hotshot. A Hotshot can work to
exhaustion with pleasure. A Hotshot can endure much discomfort and pain
without complaint. If we should be injured or die, we are going to be considered
heroes. The leaders of the Hotshots have attained the highest status of any
firefighter. The crew is awestruck with the crew leaders and the leaders
work to keep their admiration and trust.

The Vision:

To become the best crew in the world. To be known for our toughness,
tenaciousness, grit and discipline. Only good will result from our efforts.
No one will be seriously injured or killed.

What is wrong with this picture? I had good leadership skills but my M&V statement reveals that my ethics were what I now would deem incorrect. I was lucky to grow through that phase and come out with no fatalities. Some years later my old crew was burned over and more than half of them were killed. Was the personal mission and vision of the leadership a contributing factor? I think so. Would a M&V statement written honestly by the overhead have reveled a deficiency? That would be one way to know the ethics of the leadership. Is there an effective mentor for any of those placed in leadership positions? I did not see any supervisory mentoring from my Hotshot days on.

I worry most about the ethics of the leader when I send out folks on a wildland fire assignment.

Ab, if this is something of interest to the body of readers then I will follow up with my revised M&V statement at a later time that shows a change in my ethics as I grew up.


Welcome. Sounds interesting to me. Ab.

12/10 Larry;

There was a long discussion on FamilySaid about jewelweed soap. I’ve used and appreciated Tecnu, and I’ve heard good arguments for building an immunity, and all of the above. Never tried Oral Ivy but I’ve heard good things about it. Homemade lye soap has advocates. What worked for me was just getting it badly every spring for most of my childhood… now I just get a very mild case and I’m good for about two years of immunity. Things not to try: Bleach (the guy screamed _so_ bad), peroxide (just seems to spread it). I wouldn’t let it worry you as far as fighting fire goes; you’ll probably get it, and it’ll probably get better (both the effects and the allergy). Just an added incentive for keeping you head up and your eyes open. And like Flameboy and Fireweasel pointed out, make sure you know what the local variant looks like…it varies from place to place.

Nerd on the Fireline
12/10 Larry

TECNU can be your new best friend. It won't prevent it but it will sure
help after you have contact with poison oak. Also, I have never had
poison oak before (knock on wood) but a couple of my friends used to get
it pretty bad until they started getting the shot. They still get it
every now and then but they don't get it quite as bad anymore. And I
agree with Flameboy, if you get it that badly, stay away from the LP.

12/10 Hi Abs!

Forestry Suppliers and Ben Meadows sell a liquid poison oak remedy that works
incredibly well.

Add 5 or 6 drops of the Oral Ivy liquid to a glass of water prior to fire season or any
exposure to the dread oak and you should be oak free.

I used to get poison oak so bad that it was considered an on the job injury. The
most I get now is a small spot under my watch.

The stuff is expensive, but worth it.

Watch out for snow in the Central Sierra today!!

Captain Emmett
12/10 earthpig,

I think that having a vision and mission statement is important to any undertaking and critical for the PROFESSIONAL WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER at every level, whether on the ground or on up the foodchain. I can only speak from my highest level of experience. Management at the regional level has priorities that are more-or-less collectively decided by the FMOs and the Regional Chief based on input from all levels (and influenced for good or ill by the regional forester who is technically the boss of the Chief). In my experience if you see the process, decisions made at our regional level seem reasonable, often visionary, given the pressures from above and below. If the decisions don't hold up, adjustments are made, the process is fluid.

What gets considered? Sometimes concerns come from the ground up, from committees of the Engine Captains, Hotshots, the Division Chiefs or dispatchers, etc. Sometimes the BoD asks those committees to consider this or that. Why not ask those who know the subject, procedure or apparatus best? BoD members came out of the groundpounding ranks, they know where and how to delegate fact-finding.

Sometimes priorities are set in response to decisions made at the top which may be driven by the Public or by Congress. Remember that the President is the BOSS of those at the very top. Agencies are part of the Executive Branch of govt. His word is critical, he can hire or fire at will if he doesn't like someone's attitude or behavior, the budget or the direction of the Agency. Often there is not much wiggle room. But if the boss's word is a bad one, the Agency should stay true to its Vision and Mission, resistance should be offered and a better alternative proposed. The best agency leaders at the highest level are those who have a vision and a mission that can be expressed... and the force of personality and will to make it real. Unfortunately politics often get in the way. At worst politics causes brain damage and agency vision goes dark or at least gets murky.

What I'm saying is that the mix is complex, especially when you throw in accidents like 30mi, huge fires like those recently in socali, environmental constraints urged by the Public, outsourcing, regional forester mandates and some good pot stirring by the FWFSA. Almost always groundpounders at the bottom of the foodchain do not have the larger picture. Some don't want to have it, it's not their focus, they're busy learning about fire behavior and pounding line, not making policy. But some will become the policy makers of the future. Look at the BoD members who began as hotshots.

earthpig, I assume you're a groundpounder and probably supervise others who fight fire. I ask you, how do we raise up A PROFESSIONAL WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER who begins on a crew like yours but has the potential to work up through the ranks to management and even to the WO if they want to? We want to change the top, how do we raise the talent that becomes the top?

What is the definition of a professional wildland firefighter? Start at the ground level. What qualities do they have? What should be fostered as they develop? The emphasis is currently on leadership. What else should we be considering and fostering??? with the retirement of experienced groundpounder supts and other fire managers (hotshot supts, engine crew capts, Division Chiefs, BoD members, IC's)?

Thanks to those who make this site possible.
Norcal Tom

Yer welcome. Good questions. Ab.

12/10 Larry & poison oak:

Talk to your doctor about things you can do to build up a resistance to poison oak.

As a kid I would just think about poison oak and I would get it....really bad. I remember probably starting in my pre teens each year taking various kinds of anti poison oak medications. Sometimes it was pills (some you even had to make yourself and just made bigger or bigger doses each time), other times it was a shot. I even remember one time in college (after trying to show how tough I was by hacking right through the oak in a wildfire class) driving to the doctor while physically holding one eye lid open so I could see to drive.

The bottom line is that by the time I was 19 or so I would hardly get it and even if I did, it was just a very minor welt or two. It could have been just changes in my body that had nothing to do with any medicinal helpers (my dad used to swim in the stuff when we went to get firewood but never even got the mildest case until he was in his early 50's) or that I just got it so much I built up an immunity, but I sure think all those anti poison oak stuff I took helped. Since this was 20 something years ago, Im sure there is better stuff out there today.

Hope this helps
12/10 Larry

If you want a job as a firefighter in wildland and you get poison oak, good
luck. If you get it, the only thing you will be is comedy relief for your crew.
The Oak is every where in the west. Just stay away from the LP, they have
a gnarly form of oak that is brutal. It grows like in six inch vines. Even the
person that does not get oak will get it there.

12/9 Dick Mangan,

Thanks for your reply. I appreciate the folks like you who have been so strong and influential in the organization coming out to debate. I agree with a few of your points and disagree with many.

Obviously there are two schools of thought. Unfortunately, the only discussion of the issues is being done on this web site and in the Halls of Congress (with the FWFSA). The discussions need to be done on the local, regional, and national levels.... AND ACTION TAKEN.

I agree that the people you mentioned are true wildland fire program leaders.... I disagree that just because these folks are good leaders that the process works.... the process needs to be improved (as requested by Congress, OPM, and by GAO reports)... the agencies continue to flounder and are not willing to listen to what is really going on at the ground level. Ask the Forestry Techs that work in Flagstaff, Colorado Springs, L.A., Tucson, and every other interface area if they are more closely related to a firefighter series or a forestry technician series. I'm still a little confused how my job series is the same one for people who pick up trash and replace toilet paper in campgrounds.

My next statement is NOT meant to offend anyone. I feel that my agency has become a "puppy mill". We recruit and train some of the FINEST FIREFIGHTERS in the world. Those firefighters go on to productive careers with other agencies offering better pay, benefits, and working conditions. I know of very few people that we have hired in the last ten years who have any intention of finishing out their career with the land management agencies. They are using it as a stepping stone.

I agree with Tony Duprey's statement. If the agencies don't start working with the employees to fix the problems, Congress is going to take the lead and fix them.

Ab, thanks for the neutral site for expressing our issues.

12/9 The Jobs page is updated, as are the wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455. Ab.
12/9 Dick Mangan

its good to see that the age old "professional" /
technician spat is alive and well...

for those of us in the trenches maybe you can
articulate and put more "clearly into focus" the
"whole big "resource management" picture".
i am speaking usfs here.

for the past 20+ years i have been unable to figure
out just what it is those of us with fire
responsibilities are supposed to be doing.

yes, i remember and did work during the 10 am policy
era. and you know what, we all did a damn fine job
during that period, but more importantly we all had a
MISSION that was clearly stated, had objectives and
was measurable. (these are the basic tenets to any
successful organization).

yes the times have changed, but management for the
past 20+ years has been unable to clearly define what
our mission in fire is. "fire management" doesnt cut
it. as a result we are floundering and have lost
credibility with the politicos and the public.

even more disturbing is the complete lack of anything
even remotely resembling "leaders intent" from our
fire managers, including those people you mentioned.


Original Ab's reply: "I personally never had a problem knowing what I was supposed to be doing over the last 20 years." I add, why would you continue in a job in which you don't know what you're supposed to be doing?
12/9 Dick,

I have to agree with you that Jerry Williams and Tom Harbour are both very accomplished fire managers. Would it matter to you if they worked their way up through one series or through the many series that they had to step through to get to the top? Also, are we, that have been supporting the FWFSA "bad" people because we want to improve the recruitment, retention, training, pay, benefits, classification, and working conditions of Federal Wildland Firefighters?

I'm not asking to re-invent the wheel. I'm asking to set a job series that someone can go from the bottom to the top within. Dick, did you know that the OPM has created LOTS of series to accurately reflect jobs from the top to the bottom that don't fit anywhere else. Those jobs can be found at www.opm.gov/fedclass/html/gsseries.asp#0000. Within most of these series, you can start at entry level and progress through retirement. YES.... there are education, experience, and qualifications standards assigned. It could even mean you need a degree somewhere in the progression. IT DOESN'T MEAN YOU NEED TO HOP-SCOTCH FROM SERIES TO SERIES AND AGENCY TO AGENCY TO PROMOTE.

We all want to maintain the education, experience, and qualifications standards that we already have - and EXPAND upon them making the "Wildland Fire Management" series. It's a series that would have to be written by a group of people who are truly interested in improving the organization and not hindered by agency policies, programs, potential financial gain, or program area losses. The idea for a wildland fire series is not new. It's an old idea that has been undergoing a lot of discussion with NO action and a lot of attention. The Forest Service L.E.O.'s were Forestry Technicians not so long ago. It was a classification battle won.

Dick, I don't know what your NEPA background is, but assuming the positions you've held, I'm sure that even though a NEW WILDLAND SERIES is coming, all decisions within the Federal Agencies will continue to be interdisciplinary in nature. A new WILDLAND FIRE MANAGEMENT series will be a welcome addition to the interdisciplinary approach. New ideas may come from managers with degrees in Fire Science, Public Administration, Business Management/Administration, Political Science, Information Technology, Vocational Education, and others. The new X-118 standards will probably have placement factors and education requirements that the FEDERAL AGENCIES supply to employees, not those that the EMPLOYEES supply to the Federal Agencies. That's just another recruitment and retention perk: The Agency wants you to STAY, so THEY train and educate you to progress and nurture you. I guess that's a new concept in the Federal Government.

Keep your skilled employees. Educate them and give them experience. Provide them with reasons to stay with your business. Provide them with reasons to aspire in becoming a leader in the business. (from a business management textbook)

By the way, Dick, I qualify for the 0401 series and I still think it stinks. I'm a Wildland Firefighter, not a Biological Sciences professional.


12/9 Hello,

I live in Southern California and I am interested in becoming a wildland firefighter, but I am very allergic to poison oak. The last time I had it I had 1/2'' high blisters on my hand. I was wondering what you guys do about poison oak, are there any regions on the west coast that don't have to deal with poison oak? That is really the only thing that concerns me about becoming a firefighter.

Thanks for all your time and info,
12/9 I agree with Dick. We need those Foresters, Wildlife Biologists etc. in order to understand all aspects involved in the fire, and the more fire training they receive the more they understand our aspects as well. You have to understand all aspects in order to be a good firefighter. It's not just "put the wet stuff on the red stuff" anymore. There is a lot more involved.

I can't wait for the day Forestry Tech.'s are finally recognized as Firefighters.
12/9 Dick (Mangan),

You spoke volumes in the last paragraph of your post of 12/8 with the statement "Most US Land Management agencies are not, and never will be, firefighting organizations."

Exactly why we need organizations like the FWFSA. Exactly the reason we need a Wildland Fire Organization. Exactly the reason the Land Management Agencies will eventually lose the "fire" arm of their respective organizations.

Tony Duprey
12/8 Some Wyoming Engine and Rx burn pics are in. I put 'em on the Engines 9 photo page. If the person who sent in the photo of ANF E-36 could resend the info, I would appreciate it. Ab.
12/8 There were several comments in Lobotomy's latest posting that beg a response, specifically her/his comments about professionals and firefighting.

First, it's been my opinion for the past 20 or so years that we're not just in the business of just FIGHTING fires, but rather in the business of MANAGING wildland fire programs: determining which fires to fight, which to let burn; where to apply prescribed fire on the ground to meet a variety of resource needs, like timber, range, wildlife, wilderness, T&E species, etc; and determining fuels treatment needs based on site suitability, fire risk, etc.
The old days of the Fire Control Officer-mentality was OK in the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's, but it also caused many of the problems we have today: anybody out there old enough to remember the "10 AM Policy"?? Heard about Fuel Accumulation? We've moved beyond that, but it's been a struggle, especially for folks who don't have the whole big "resource management" picture clearly in focus.

As for being told how to "FIGHT FIRE" by .....FORESTERS ......(Lobotomy's emphasis, not mine), I've got to ask the question : SO WHAT??? Lets look at some of the FORESTERS that tell us how to fight fire. Starting right at the top of the USFS, Jerry Williams and Tom Harbour. Let's see, both Foresters: Jerry also had mucho years as a smokejumper, was a District and Forest FMO, Ops Section Chief 1, and now National Fire Director. Tom worked his way though the R-5 Fire organization, hitting a District Ranger along the way, and ended up as a Type 1 I.C. before moving into upper fire management. How about the Regions: from Greg Greenough in Missoula, Tom Zimmerman in Albuquerque, Mike Dudley in Ogden, Ray Q in R-5, Laurie Perrett in Portland and Mark Rounsaville in Atlanta........all well experienced on-the-ground fire folks who've also taken on the responsibilities of fire managers, rather than staying in the trenches.

Lots of us FORESTERS earned our way through Forestry school fighting fire on engines and crews, and then continued our fire experiences (both prescribed and wildfire) as professionals. Hell, I had a District Ranger who used to pack a drip torch on prescribed burns all the time, and other Rangers who went out as Crew Bosses.

There are OPM Job Series that will allow you to go to the GS-12 to GS-15 and SES in Fire (Tom Harbour is at SES training now!!): they're Forester, Wildlife Biologist, Range Con. Combine the education with good quality experience (and the ability to perform at those higher levels) and you can be a Fire Leader in the 21st century.

We DO NOT fight wildland fires "...just cause they're there". We suppress fires, light fires, treat fuels to meet resource objectives that are developed with a bunch of other resource professionals, and fire folks need to have a firm grasp on the basic concepts of total forest management, and then convince the others about the wisdom of our ways.
Most US Land Management agencies are not, and never will be, firefighting organizations. Our role as fire folks is to help influence direction, and then implement that direction. If a person wants to just "fight fire", the frustration will be intense, and never ending!

Dick Mangan
12/8 Ab & Tahoe Terrie,

I want to clarify what might lead to a misunderstanding of my use of the term, "Trigger Point". When I wrote the Campbell Prediction System book I was unaware of the same term used in Canada to describe the graph of air temperature and relative humidity crossover point. Marty Alexander, PhD, RPF (Senior Fire Behavior Research Officer/ Natural Resources Canada/Ressources naturelles Canada Canadian Forest Service/Service canadien des forets), was using the term trigger point first and I came along and confused the issue by adding another definition. Oops! Sorry Marty. If I publish my book again I will be sure to change "trigger point" to "decision point" or some other term. Until then all I can do is be sure to differentiate from the Canadian term.

As I present my subject and define the term trigger point, I would cover the following thoughts.
An important aspect of situational awareness is to know when and where there is potential for a fire behavior change. Otherwise you are never sure of being able to know if your L.C.E.S. is adequate. It has been very helpful to me to establish a trigger point in circumstances where there are variations in the fire behavior that could be dangerous. Sometimes I use trigger point to identify the terrain or fuels that can put the tactical plan in danger of failure. This identifies the point that the fire situation is beyond the threshold of control. When this happens, the proper tactic is to disengage or not engage because your suppression tactic will not be successful and you will end up wasting your efforts or getting yourself and personnel into a jam. These points or lines are displayed on maps and are used by me to communicate to firefighters in briefings. Over the years I find folks like this information, so I have added this tested procedure to my training program.

I enjoy all the discussions this site provides.

Have a grand holiday
Best regards to all

Thanks Doug. Ab.
12/8 Marty's follow-up comments to the Trigger Point/ Crossover discussion:

Thanks Tim. You are right on and these points are discussed in the CD-ROM based training course "Wildland Fire -- Safety on the Fireline". There is a U.S. version of this CD out now but I haven't seen a copy yet to know if the cross-over concept is discussed there or not. In any event, "cross-over" is a Canadian concept but I have been asked about its relevance to the U.S. and most recently, New Zealand as well.

and after he saw the crossover graphic via the link below:
The graph you have posted is from the original Canadian version of the CD-ROM "Wildland Fire -- Safety on the Fireline" as prepared by myself. Doug Campbell and I have communicated on this terminology issue before and this is why I made mention of his book in the safety summit paper. The "trigger point" term is increasingly being used -- see, for example, the Greenlee and Greenlee article (can be located on the Fire Management Today website) that I cited in my safety summit paper.

Hope this helps.

Thanks, Marty. Here's a link to the Greenlee and Greenley article "Trigger Points and the Rules of Disengagement" on page 10 of the FMT 63(1). This is a pdf file (1095K) and requires a little time for download if you don't have broadband. Ab.
12/8 I wouldn't like to speculate what Marty is referring to exactly, but in general I believe he is making reference to rules of thumb. His example "crossover" is reference to a rule of thumb used to indicated potential extreme fire behaviour.

Crossover is reached when the Temperature in degrees Celsius exceeds the relative humidity in percent. I.e.. 30 degrees Celsius and RH 29%. This usually indicates an increase in fire activity. What Marty is possibly referring to is the fact that we can experience extreme fire behaviour without this occurring. We also can have crossover without experiencing extreme fire behaviour.

Tim Greer

Thanks Tim. I see what you mean. Another reader sent in this Canada Crossover graphic. I presume this what you're talking about. Ab.
12/8 From Firescribe:

Cedar blaze put crews in unfamiliar territory
Urban teams underprepared for battle on wild land terrain

and from a few days back:
North (San Diego) County fire departments erase boundaries

12/8 To the readers, Mellie, IdahoBLMGuy, and Jerseyboy,

The FWFSA website has some updates on the Portal to Portal and Hazard Pay Bill.

IdahoBLMGuy, don't get my comments earlier wrong. The "Professionalism" I was talking about wasn't at the lower levels that we all serve in. Wildland Firefighting is a PROFESSION... how come we have FORESTERS, BIOLOGISTS, REALTY SPECIALISTS, and BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES etc... professionals telling us how to FIGHT FIRE at the Regional Offices and Washington Office levels?

How about a series that you can promote in (and receive education in) that spans from GS-2 to GS-15 and the S.E.S.? That series is possible if enough federal wildland firefighters express their opinions. Several other agencies and occupations have fought this battle. The difference in this battle is being fought from the bottom up, and not from the top down..... Why?

It's called the AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE PROCESS!!!! The folks at the bottom are the government. We elect officials to express our views and concerns. Our elected officials listen and support our concerns if WE EACH contact them. If we do not contact them, they don't know of the issues.

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) has submitted several reports addressing problems of recruitment, retention, training, pay, and benefits for federal employees. They have given specific recommendations to agencies. The agencies have been "unwilling" or "unable" to address these issues and fight for the actions to maintain a safe and productive workforce. As such, the incidence of accidents, injuries, and fatalities have increased. If you lose your most experienced people year after year, you fail to function and become a "liability" to the taxpayer.

Agency actions have actually been detrimental, as were the recent comments of Regional Forester Blackwell and Secretary Veneman. When the SoCal firefighters had a Q&A session in Washington D.C. during the signing of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 with President Bush, comments were made that were "a little short" of support for the troops in the field. Those firefighters that were directly there can provide the info. It sure would be nice to see the Agencies, FWFSA, NFFE, AFGE, and Congress take on the issues as a unified front.

12/8 All right, here's a photo sent to me, compliments of Doug Campbell, that
illustrates what alignment and trigger point mean as he uses the terms. Ab,
could you please post this? This kind of trigger point is not the kind that
Marty was warning about.

as the fire moves across the terrain.

Tahoe Terrie

I also put it on the Fire 21 photo page. Ab.

12/8 Hi Folks,

Can anyone point me to an electronic copy of the Fireline Handbook? (410-1).

12/7 Hey Mellie,
Holy Cr*p,

How did you hear about me and my orientation....? I didn't think CDf was that small.......but you are right. In training for the past 2 months and in my last week of paramedic ride-outs in the Coves. I have been assigned to Sta 43 in Blythe (since I still live in AZ. and you know where :o) )and will start after the 15th. Its been a great adventure so far working for CDF. Wouldn't change it for anything! Mom and Dad think that it's great! As a matter of fact, a old friend of my father, who happens to be the state training chief in Sac, pinned my badge on. Kinda cool. Due to reasons unknown to the graduating class "906", we had to give back our badges. They were sent back to Sac......

Ed Anderson,

Don't let anyone discourage you from applying for a fed fire job. In some parts of the country, that is the only wildland fire job. I have helped alot of guys and gals over the years in securing a seasonal fire job with the feds. I'm happy to say that most of them are working in appointments of either 18-8's or year round. Good luck to 'ya.

AZ Trailblazer
12/7 The National Geographic production of Women Smokejumpers is on MSNBC now 6pm west coast time. Ab.
12/7 Regarding Marty Anderson's paper,

I was wondering if he or someone could elaborate on or clarify what he meant by
"Avoid Placing too Much Reliance on 'Trigger Points'".

He went on to add,

By trigger points, I mean indicators associated with the onset of a specific type of fire behavior, usually severe or extreme; thus, trigger points have a different meaning than that as defined by Campbell (1998). The temperature/relative humidity "cross-over" concept in Canada is a good example; the use and limitations of "cross-cover" have been dealt with by the author in the CD-ROM based training course Wildland Fire - Safety on the Fireline (Thorburn et al. 2000).

Campbell's definition is not based on a graphical a crossover concept. His definition would probably be something like

The trigger point occurs where and when the fire arrives at a point where a fire behavior change is predicted and a change in tactics is warranted.

For example, the trigger point would be predicted when the fire reaches a south or southwest facing slope, after noon when the slope is warmest, and the local wind is upslope. You'd expect the fire to move upslope. Slope, time of day and wind would all be in "alignment" for the fire to take off. Fire managers should be considering whether a change in tactics is warranted at such a time.

A visual would help me out with Campbell's example. In my opinion, thinking in this way is valuable.

What is the Canadian concept and how does it differ from Campbells? I am not familiar with the training cd that Marty mentions. Is it a graphical temp and RH crossover?

Tahoe Terrie

12/7 Fred H
I have to fully agree with his statements. We need to quit fighting amongst ourselves, as a divided house will tend to fall, Old Man Of the Dept
12/6 After seeing many people write in and ask about fire jobs. I've been wondering where all of us might start out in our respective career if we could do it all over again, knowing what we know now. Would you work for a different agency, start out at another forest, park, state, etc.. Go from engines to hotshots? or hotshots to engines? or skip firework altogether and work on Wall Street? Take different training that might have moved your career up faster?

just a thought
12/6 Hey, AZ TRailblazer,
I hear your FFII-Pramedic assignment in socal begins after orientation on Dec 15.
Following in the CA big boots of your dad, eh?

Wish I could give you a hug, you Fed guy. It's the pits to work your ass off day and night, week after week on the SoCal fires and to come home to long lists of responsibilities on your forest and the volunteer work you do for federal firefighters everywhere. Stress does not abate, it seems. Hope you can rest up, m'dear! I really appreciate YOU and ALL YOU DO!

Remember that those who fought the Socal fires didn't have the chance to let down their guard while fighting fire for long days at a time. Someone put it well, I think he said he "felt his computer processor was overloaded" and he thought it might never get back to normal. Even managers at the highest levels had to be strong and encouraging for their "troops" all those days while the fires were threatening to burn everyone and everything up.

Once home, I know the stress has not diminished for many of you. The work continues: fire rehab, POLITICS - congress, local entities- planning new training, meeting "targets" required by the rest of your job, reintegrating with home families, the schizophrenic world of Blue Ribbon this and Holiday that, the ever-threatening outsourcing process, budget cuts, etc. Many, who can, will be taking leave in the "use it or loose it" mode, leaving the managers holding the "buck that stopped with them."

So I ask all of you, as you go about your work, please cut each other some slack. Give each other some well-deserved kudos and high fives. Appreciate each other. And when you think you still have an insurmountable task ahead, know that you probably need a good night's sleep to regain perspective.

In case I haven't told you lately,
I think ALL of YOU are GRAND. You're doing a difficult job, especially you PUBLIC SERVANTS. As I hang out in fire, I am amazed at your intelligence and expertise, your equanimity, and how well you take care of each other and the Public, often in the face of life threatening circumstances and lots of finger-pointing and blame-leveling from outside.

Love you all bunches! Stay well, stay strong!

equanimity - mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness; equilibrium, even-tempered-ness. Random House Dictionary

12/6 Being an ex-volunteer Firefighter /EMT, I like to find and read boards such as this very, very good one. During the time I was a volunteer, our district was the 8'th largest fire district in the state of Oregon, ( all volunteer other than the chief, a secretary and maintenance person no less). Our district had a very good working relationship with both the Federal agencies and O.D.F. .

To read posts regarding attitudes against other agencies is truly sad, kind of like spitting on the Flag . How long will it take each of you to realize no one is perfect, not even yourself. Learn from mistakes made by others and especially yourself.

To those who replied to the retired "Oldtimers ", who fought past fires, Take notice of what they write. Although the days of people off the street aiding in fire fighting are gone, something can be said about the how well things worked back in those days. Now with "Red Cards", SW190, etc...., fires are larger, costlier and more lives are lost all in the name of safety. ( ??????????? ) Course this is typical when the government gets more involved. The saying of "One foot in the red, One in the Black" reminds me of a saying our chief had "Put the wet stuff on the red stuff ". K.I.S.S. is a very good acronym, (Keep It Simple Stupid!). Unfortunately things keep getting more complex.

Although many people feel that these larger, costlier fires are due to urban, rural development, actually the policies, rules, etc...., are the current wildland firefighters worst enemy. To be very honest and to the point people, Direct Attack is the best action. We never in my day, sacrificed land to set-up a fire-line in advance. We worked directly down the line. If the fire was moving east, we started 2 attacks, 1 from the southern side and the other from the north side, moving towards the head of the fire in a pincher movement. What was behind you did not concern you as it was already dealt with. Basic Military type operation. Now with all the policies, rules, etc..., regarding fire engagement, the current wildland firefighter is facing an uphill battle before they even get to the fire.

Technology is also not being used to the extent that it could be either. I won't go into details there, as I am working with a Canadian company on a project that involves direct attack capabilities regardless of terrain, (up to 60% slope access) .

Anyway, just some food for thought, people.

Fred H.
12/6 Lobotomy hit on the issue of professionalism in the feds, and it will probably make some folks mad (it certainly had my blood pumping hard).

As a federal employee, and a member of a hotshot crew, i take a lot of pride in my work, and would say that the amount of professionalism exhibited by the feds is certainly no less than cdf or anyone else on the fireline.

however, i can see lobotomy's point about recruitment and retention. but look at how the feds (and i'm speaking from FS experience, but it surely carries over to BLM, FWS, etc) are structured: right now we are still a mainly seasonal workforce with most jobs requiring no formal education. would it help - sure it would, but it doesn't take a degree to be a gs-3 digger.

i understand that for employees who plan to stay with an organization for a long time and move into the management side a degree is advantageous. but for someone who plans to work during the summers only to make a little cash, it simply isn't necessary.

i look at it from the standpoint from which i was probably hired: i had no fire experience, no fire education, no range or forestry degree. but i was an athlete in college, had a philosophy degree, and had good work experience in natural disasters. apparently, i was an attractive candidate for hotshot crews because, as one supt. told me: "you have good pain experience. i can teach anyone fire."

so when trying to fill a crew, do you automatically look for someone who will stay for a long time, or do you hire someone who you think will be good at the job, and hope you can convince them to stay? if it were me doing the hiring, i'd say the latter. but where the FS goes wrong is that it forgets the second part of the equation: convincing folks to stay.

i guess the problem then is that there is a transition happening in the fire world now - one towards a profession. pretty soon the days of the college kid paying his way through school with fire money will go by the wayside, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

as lobotomy pointed out, the feds are behind the curve when it comes to "developing a profession", but i don't think this relates to the "professionalism" displayed by federal workers.

12/6 From Firescribe:

Fire response panel urges more resources Here's what all firefighters need...

"recommended that CDF hire someone whose only job is to teach elected officials about fire-related issues."

Erosion in fires' aftermath threatens drinking water

...wildfires that stripped forest hillsides have created threats to drinking water supplies for millions of people and to the already endangered California condor...

...could have mass soil movement; you could have mudslides into homes...

...Also at risk are the Sespe Oil Fields in Los Padres National Forest

12/5 To Edward Anderson and the "professional" lobotomy

I just want to let you know that the agency I work for (BLM) has seasonal fire positions about to open. You can go to your local BLM office or try the BLM homepage. As far as Lobotomy's post. That just doesn't sound too professional to me, but he has his/her opinion. I work in an area with a good deal of interagency cooperation, so I see the results of the National Fire Plan on a daily basis. All agencies working toward a common goal. Fire Prevention and Suppression. Yes, we have our problems, but I can't think of any industry that doesn't. Apparently Lobotomy seems to think the CDF is the ticket, but I can tell you that the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Land Management have fire programs that have good people also.

Good luck with the job search
12/5 Hello Lobotomy and Ab:

On 11/20 Lobotomy posted a SAFENET regarding communications on the Viejas
Fire. I'm currently working on a 800 MHz issue and was wondering if I could get a
clean copy of that SAFENET? Ab knows how to contact me.

Sign me.
Mike DeGrosky

Lobotomy's post had a safenet number on it. To find the specific report, go to our links page under safety and click on the safenet link. http://safenet.nifc.gov/safenet.nsf/SNmain1?OpenFrameSet Go to "View Safenet" in the left links bar and then to "View Safenet ... by ID Number". You can enter the number in their search utility. When it opens, it will be in a frameset. To get it to open on its own page so it's easy to print, place your cursor over the report, right click with your mouse, and choose "this frame, open in its own window". It gives you a clean copy of the report for printing: http://safenet.nifc.gov/safenet.nsf/ etc etc yikes 0,4SQNAUSAFE
12/5 To: Edward Anderson

Regarding Abs comments to Edward Anderson, that's just fine if your want to
work for a Federal Agency. There are many private sector companies that
employ firefighters as well. Most of these are in Washington & Oregon.
Consider all of your options Ed A. Also, check the Internet, as I am sure
that you are already doing.

12/5 Edward Anderson and every "WANNABE" fed wildland employee,

You should be applauded for taking the time for educating yourself with an associates degree in fire science, an EMT certificate, and a forthcoming FIREFIGHTER ACADEMY certificate.

I would welcome you as a member of my Federal wildland fire program... you seem to be someone who has a zest for learning and succeeding......

The California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection will be hiring seasonal positions soon......Stay away from federal agencies until they can get their act straightened out regarding professionalism and proper classification unless you want to just use them as a stepping stone to other agencies.....

Sorry federal folks...... professionalism starts at the top..... THERE SEEMS TO BE AN INACTION AT THE TOP TO REALIZE AND SUPPORT the problems of the federal organization.

IT's pretty sad that the lower levels of the organization (FWFSA) are fighting the battles... while the WO folks are affirming the problems and not fixing them?

Unfortunately, the Federal wildland agencies DO NOT recognize any of these qualifications for certification, qualification, or for advancement into the higher series.

Hopefully, someday, federal wildland agencies will add the degrees of fire science, fire administration, public administration, and business administration into their qualification standards......not biology, forestry, and range......... Hopefully, SOMEDAY, the federal agencies will work WITH the FWFSA to FIX RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION ISSUES.

12/5 Communications on the Socal fires was one of the BIG problems that needs fixing.
Look at this quote from the article Contract County Guy referred to:

"...estimated it could cost between $5 billion and $6 billion to overhaul the
communications system alone, and doubted that money would soon be
forthcoming in budget-tight times."

Now that makes me more than a tad nervous.
Tahoe Terrie

12/5 Here's a news release on the California Blue Ribbon panel's meeting in San Bernardino yesterday. Jim Wright from CDF laid it out that California is undergoing dramatic climate change. One of his quotes at the meeting (but not in this article) was "we are trying to run a 12 month fire season on an 8 month budget" and he stressed the need for new aircraft, expanded crews, and new communications systems to address the problem. Wright stressed that the problem we are facing will last decades and that we may need to spend billions in response to it.

This article from the San Diego Union Tribune covers alot of the subjects discussed.... you can imagine how the call for that much money went, given the depth of California's financial problems... www.signonsandiego.com

Contract County Guy
12/5 The Jobs page is updated, as are the wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455. There's an announcement up for the Redding Hotshots, an excellent Leadership Training opportunity.

12/5 Thanks Backburnfs, -- and others who have replied--

your statement "My job as a federal firefighter working for the FS is to be ready to go wherever and fight fire. It doesn’t much matter if you call me a firefighter, or a forestry tech. the job is the same."

You are correct. That's why the FWFSA is fighting FOR ALL FEDERAL WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS to get correct classification, pay, benefits, and training. THE JOB IS THE SAME. I agree with you again.

How come only a predominant number of California and western firefighters are supporting the FWFSA? If we are all the same, why haven't firefighters from many of the eastern, northern, and southern states signed on?

With those of us who are nearing retirement age or considering going to other agencies, proper classification, pay, benefits, and training are the decisions that make us think about leaving, not the love for the federal service.

Without Federal pay, benefits, and classification reform -- Why should I not to want to go to an agency that pays me 3 times as much per year, gives me better benefits, and gives me as much for retirement after 5 years of service as I would earn in 20 years? -- thats what the FWFSA battle is about.

For the congressional folks -- It's about recruiting, retention, and training employees. We are loosing our quality folks daily to early retirements and changes to other agencies.

The FWFSA is battling for proper classification, benefits, and pay.

Every firefighter needs, as Casey Judd (in an earlier post) said,

"What we need from all of you is a grass-roots effort to contact your congressional representative's offices, both in D.C. and in their districts to seek their support and co-sponsorship of the bill. If anyone out there wants a template for a letter, or a copy of our current position paper on the issues, please let me know."

SPEND A FEW SECONDS IN SENDING A LETTER TO YOUR CONGRESSMAN or CONGRESSWOMAN IN SUPPORT OF H.R. 2963 http://thomas.loc.gov or contact Casey at his numbers.


12/5 From Firescribe:

GIS Mapping Keeps San Diego Firefighters Informed CDF


Way to go Mill Creek and Del Rosa Hotshots. Trip to DC and hang with G.W.

I am absolutely in favor of any legislation that helps deal with forest
health and fire fighter benefits. Lets get behind those proposals. Send
some $ to FWFSA they seem like the ones that are helping the rest of us.

I was wondering how much of the actual bug kill was involved in the "Old
Fire"? I thought the fire was kept out of most of it, but I could be

And how do you get a cool name like "MAX COPENHAGEN", what do the guys at
home call you? "BIG CHEW"? "SNUFFY"?

Have a good weekend.

12/4 I appreciate the opportunity to update you on H.R. 2963 (HR=House of Representatives), the Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act as referenced by Old Fire Guy & Firen Water.

This bill seeks to provide portal to portal pay for our federal wildland firefighters while on emergency incidents. It also acts to include their hazardous duty pay in their retirement calculations.

There is a significant history behind this legislation, but in the interest of time and space, I offer anyone to contact me via e-mail or phone (916) 408-8934 for the history. First...politics 101:

The bill was introduced in July. The bill seeks to amend Title 5 of the United States Code. More often than not, such bills are considered "two year" bills. Each session of congress has two sessions (one year each). We have just concluded the first session of the 108th congress. The "second half" will conclude at the end of 2004.

Most "two year" bills, are not considered to be "stand-alone" bills. In other words, they are of not major significance that they are brought to the floor of congress by themselves, debated on and voted on. If you've watched CSPAN, debate is often on "stand-alone" bills. However those bills contain "amendments" which are actually the language incorporated into the "two year" bills and added on as "riders" to the "stand-alone" and "must-pass" bills.

Must-pass bills are appropriations bills (13 in all). Although congressional rules prohibit "legislating" on an appropriations bill, congress often suspends the rules (a change to Title 5 would constitute legislating) and allow amendments that "legislate" onto must pass bills. Recent pay reform for GS-0081 federal firefighters was included as an amendment to a Treasury-Postal appropriations bill in 1998.

As many of you know, the Interior Appropriations bill was recently passed. It contains a significant amount of additional money for firefighting. However the specific language of H.R. 2963 was not incorporated into the final version of this year's Interior bill.

Could the agencies use the additional dollars for such purposes prior to the specific legislation being passed and signed into law? Possibly. And we, of course, will continue to pursue an understanding of Congress and the agencies that portal-to-portal is absolutely critical to any reform measures.

At present, the bill is before the subcommittee on Civil Service & Agency Organization. This is the committee of "jurisdiction" for changes to Title 5. For over 7 years, leadership of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Assn. and myself have spent countless hours in meetings with, and providing data t, staff of the subcommittee. We have provided oral testimony to both this subcommittee and the subcommittee on Forest & Forest Health with respect to the overtime pay cap, portal to portal, and hazardous duty pay. Clearly, even according to subcommittee staff, we have been successful in educating both staff and members of the committee on issues affecting federal wildland firefighters.

The committee can debate the bill and do a "mark up" on the bill and send it to the full committee on Government Reform. Or as is often the case, the subcommittee chair will waive jurisdiction in order for the bill to be added as an amendment to another bill. They can, of course , also hold hearings on the issue. In fact, tomorrow I will be attending field hearings in Lake Arrowhead, CA being held by the Forest & Forest Health Subcommittee to discuss the So. California fire aftermath.

The bill currently has 20 co-sponsors. That may not sound like much, but the significant point is the diversity of who is on the bill, and the fact is although a Republican authored it, there are 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. That clearly shows bi-partisan support for the bill. Additionally, Curt Weldon (R-PA), who is a co-chair of the congressional Fire Caucus and founding member, is a cosponsor.

Congress has adjourned until January. That does not mean our work stops on the bill. We will continue to meet with congressional members while they are in their districts and will continue to hammer staff to acquire more co-sponsors.

HOWEVER: the number of co-sponsors on a bill does not necessarily dictate if a bill will be passed or not. Bills with one co-sponsor are passed, still others that have over one half the members of the House of Representatives on board as co-sponsors never see the light of day. Such is the weird world of politics.

The point is, we have a great dialogue and history with the subcommittee of jurisdiction and with the current list of supporters, I am extremely confident this language will find a place on a bill before the end of 2004.

What we need from all of you is a grass-roots effort to contact your congressional representative's offices, both in D.C. and in their districts to seek their support and co-sponsorship of the bill. If anyone out there wants a template for a letter, or a copy of our current position paper on the issues, please let me know.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Assn.
12/4 My name is Edward Anderson. I live in IL. I am 20y/o and am looking to be
a wildland firefighter out west. I currently have an associate degree in
fire science, I work as an EMT, and will be attending a fire academy in
early January 2004. What and when is the best way to apply for a job?

Thank you

You should apply to the USFS, BLM or NPS beginning in early January. Right now I would suggest you start looking at places you might like to work. Try to pick locations that see lots of fire. Call the FMOs of the forests that catch your attention. Ask them questions. Read this site. Ask the folks at the fire academy. We're all a little burned out right now and lots of people are on leave. But persist. This is the right time to be thinking about it and making plans.

Readers, if anyone wants to give Edward some pointers, please do. I haven't looked at this year's hiring process yet. Ab.
12/4 Re: Portal to Portal:

Well, dang. I was hoping for a really good Christmas present. Old Fire
Guy thanks for taking the time to look up the latest on the Portal to
Portal bill.....


12/4 Re: Public Safety Officers Benefit (PSOB) program
AB, you asked:

Does anyone have the answer to TC's question? At the time of the last news release, he asked whether federal wildland firefighters are covered under this law?

I don't think so, there is a bill in congress (HR 1101 & S 530) that address federal firefighter presumptive law.

Revised: 4/19/2002
Fire fighters are exposed on a daily basis to stress, smoke, heat, and various toxic substances. As a result, fire fighters are far more likely to contract heart disease, lung disease and cancer than other workers. And as fire fighters increasingly assume the role of the nation's leading providers of emergency medical services, they are also exposed to infectious diseases. Heart disease, lung disease, cancer and infectious disease are now among the leading causes of death and disability for fire fighters, and numerous studies have found that these illnesses are occupational hazards of fire fighting. In recognition of this linkage, many states have enacted "presumptive disability" laws, which state that a cardio-vascular disease, certain cancers and infectious diseases are presumed to be job related for purposes of workers compensation and disability retirement unless the fire fighter's employer can prove otherwise. No such law covers fire fighters employed by the federal government. Under the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA), federal fire fighters must be able to pinpoint the precise incident or exposure that caused a disease in order for it to be considered job-related. This burden of proof is extraordinarily difficult for fire fighters to meet because they respond to a wide variety of emergency calls, constantly working in different environments under different conditions. As a result, very few cases of occupational disease contracted by fire fighters have been deemed to be service-connected.

The Federal Fire Fighters Fairness Act, H.R. 2163, was introduced by Reps. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), Connie Morella (R-MD), Lois Capps (D-CA), Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI).

The Senate version of the legislation, S. 1845 was introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA). This legislation would amend the FECA so that cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and infectious diseases are presumed to be job related for purposes of workers compensation and disability retirement, and places the burden on the employer to prove otherwise.

The IAFF supports legislation to provide a disability presumption for federal fire fighters.


  • Many States have presumptive heart/lung, cancer and infectious disease laws on the books. It is only fair that the federal government also acknowledge the occupational hazards attributed to fire fighting.
  • Current law requires a federal employee to specify the exact employment incident which causes a disease in order to qualify for disability benefits. Under this law, it is nearly impossible for federal fire fighters, suffering from occupational diseases, to receive fair and just compensation and or retirement benefits.
  • It is only fair that the federal government should provide parity for federal fire fighters who are exposed to the same occupational hazards as other professional fire fighters.

On June 13, 2001, H.R. 2163 was introduced and referred to the Committee on
Education and the Workforce.

On December, 18, 2001, S. 1845 was introduced and referred to the Committee
on Government Reform.

Department of Governmental Affairs
International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO, CLC
1750 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20006
202-737-8484 202-783-4570 (F) www.iaff.org

Thanks for your input. Hickman also sent a query to the DOJ. Ab.

12/4 Someone had a question about where the FF's came from for
the ceremony on Wed in DC- below is an article from the Press

Inland Firefighters to Stand with Bush

Forest officials received a request from the White House through the Southern California Fire Operations Center in Riverside last Friday for 20 firefighters who helped extinguish the historic wildfires, said San Bernardino National Forest Deputy Supervisor Max Copenhagen.

"These are all folks who are very much rank and file, field-going, hot-shot firefighters," Copenhagen said.

The firefighters are from the Mill Creek and Del Rosa hot-shot crews. Members from another engine crew also will attend, though it was not known late Tuesday where that engine crew was based.


12/4 Anyone,

Why don't I ever hear of Los Angeles County's FSAs? I grew up
as an explorer with LACoFD and I was just wondering about the
home team. Are they the secret agents of the fire service?

Big Wannabe

They're LURKING. Ab.
12/4 Firen Water:
I just checked website http://thomas.loc.gov/ and searched for "portal to
portal" . It came up with HR 2963, and the current status is "Referred
to House Subcommittee on 8/25/03".

Holidays coming, new year is election year.......I'm not optimistic we'll
see any movement on this.

Old Fire Guy
PS Howdy to the "Hoosier Daddy".
12/4 Martin Alexander, thanks for your paper. I have been thinking about some of the points you raise and reading the issue of Fire Management Today (96 page pdf file) that you provided a link for in your paper. I must have hit the download at a slow time, but it was worth the wait. Anyway, I have found that very thought provoking and informative. Reviewing past fires is an excellent learning tool in my estimation.

Several containment actions including the strategy and tactics used on fires of recent years that I would like to see described and documented on paper are the Stanza Fire of 2002 and on the 2003 fire in the western Sierra - I don't remember the name offhand. It was already being fought by NorCal Team2 when all the lightning bust fires happened in early Sept. I heard that Overacker and others came up with an alternative strategy that allowed that fire to be caught with less acreage burned than expected. There also was use of some high tech aerial imaging.

NorCal Tom

12/4 Rick:

We use something we call an ape pack: it’s a homemade set-up, and we’ve put up to three hundred feet on a firefighter. I’ll send you pics and my inept directions if you’d like, but we don’t use ape packs for structure for safety reasons: first, even if you wear them on your front, they interfere with an SCBA, and second, it’s not the same as going in with a charged line. If you’re looking at something more high-rise style, where you don’t necessarily need to be under air or holding a charged line, it might make more sense. That said, was your rancho pack a horseshoe-shaped set-up held together with parachute cord? Your female end hangs out of the middle, you give it a good yank, and the pack pays out as you go?

Nerd on the Fireline
12/4 ABC news today had some video footage of President Bush signing the "Healthy Forest Restoration Act" at the offices of the Dept. of Agriculture in Washington today. He was surrounded by a "firefighters who fought the Western blazes" at least 5 or 6 had on yellow shirts, similar to firefighter's Nomex shirts.

Does anyone have any insight about how the photo op was staged? Who were these "firefighters" and where did they come from? Were they flown in from the west?

Here is a quote from an MSNBC article about the event which can be found at

"WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 - President Bush signed legislation Wednesday that he said would help prevent "sudden and needless destruction" from wildfires like the California blazes that destroyed thousands of homes. "With the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, we will help to prevent catastrophic wildfires," Bush said in a signing ceremony at the Agriculture Department. He was joined by firefighters who fought the Western blazes."


12/4 Buenos Noches Roberto,

You are correct in the mob guide....my bad. I meant to say that the local fire agencies and our local fed fire folks have had numerous problems responding into Mexico and local policy states that we will not respond, even on a "mutual aid" request. Our take on the situation is that we need to stay and protect "our own" and prepare, in the event a fire from south of the border enters the state.

Sorry for the confusion.

AZ Trailblazer
12/4 Good Day,

My Name is Rick Torchia, I am hoping that you can help me. Several years ago I worked in a small rural fire dept. in Northern California and spent much of my time working the job in a wildland setting. I have since moved to the Midwest and now work in a mid sized fire dept. here where most of our fires our structural. However, back then when working the job we used a "Rancho Pack" that carried 2 hose rolls of 1" single jacket line and the appropriate nozzles.

No one that I know of seems to know where these came from and who they were made by. Do you?? I was talking with one of the officers in my current dept. and came up with the idea that it may be possible to carry 1, 50ft. roll of 1 3/4 line and a nozzle. Having 50 or 100 ft of line preconnected to the engine pump and then deploying that when arriving on scene and then once getting to the entry point into the structure deploying the line out of the pack, thus eliminating 150 ft of line spaghettied out in front of the structure.

Do you know where I can get specs. on the rancho pack???

12/3 Here's a great slideshow of the Old Fire, San Bernardino National Forest.

www.cffd.org/old fire/slideshow.php

Contract County Guy

Nice one. Ab.
12/3 In the last couple of weeks the local papers have run articles about the various departments that sent help down to Southern Cal. in October's conflagrations. In two of the articles, Fire Chiefs of two local fire departments went as the strike team leader or higher. In the department I was with, the Fire Chief never went on out of county assignments. His take was that he was paid to take care of his Fire Department and he would send qualified people and stay and do his job. (boy that must have really sucked to have to do that to your self!)

I was just wondering out loud what other departments, fire districts, volunteer fire brigades, etc. have as a policy as to the Chief going on out of county assignments? I know that many times the chief has the most experience, but if you do send someone else, how do they get the experience and knowledge?

Retired L.A.V.E.

Accelerated OJT?
12/3 Does anyone have any info on the status of the Portal to Portal bill in
congress? We keep hearing rumors that it has a chance of passing soon and
the FWFSA site doesn't have anything recent on the subject.

Happy leave season all!

The Mendocino National Forest is in the early stages of developing an interpretive display and overlook, memorial trail and erecting crosses where 15 firefighters lost their lives while fighting the Rattlesnake Fire on July 9th, 1953. The project is planned to be completed sometime in late 2004. The Forest Service is working with other cooperating agencies and fire departments to complete this project. Donations toward the project may be sent to:

Glenn County Fire Chief's Association
Rattlesnake Fire
445 South Butte Street
Willows, Ca 95988

Attention: Chief Mallory

For further information, contact Jim Barry, Grindstone Ranger District at:

Thanks Jim. I know it's a costly endeavor, but worthwhile. Readers, send in your 10 bucks (or more). We could help make this happen. Ab.
12/3 in response to Jim in Indiana-

there will be several basic firefighter trainings in the state this winter
give me a call and i can give you the information!

Chris A Peterson
Forest Fire Mgmt Officer/ FAO
Hoosier National Forest
248 15th St.
Tell City, IN 47586

Jim, I'm sending info on another possible training at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Thanks for helping out you Hoosiers. Chestnuts to ya! Ah, how well this Ab recalls the large deciduous trees that got bare in the winters, skating on the farm pond in 17 degree weather, the migratory birds of the Whitewater Valley, and bat-banding in the fall and spring.
12/3 From JR for Hugh:

Governor Davis Names Members to the Blue Ribbon Fire Commission 11/05/2003

Thanks for looking that up. Ab.

12/3 I'm just looking to get my Basic Red Card Cert. But I'm not having
much luck. I live in Indiana and no one local has a clue. Can you
offer any advice ? Any would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You.
12/3 Can anyone direct me to a link that has listed the members of the Blue Ribbon
Panel that will look into the SoCal fires? It was on “They Said” a few weeks
ago but I can’t seem to find it. Thanks in advance.

12/3 Ab,

Im looking for any short video clips of Heavy Helicopters action like
Erickson or Heavy Lift. Any links would be appreciated.

12/3 Hey All,

This brief paper by Martin Alexander
Fire Behavior as it Relates to Firefighter Safety: Six Key Points for Discussionhas come in from several people who ask that it be posted. We received permission from Marty who added contact info and a Seventh Point to the discussion. Congratulations to Martin Alexander on winning the International Award for Fire Safety.

Here are some new photos. Chief Boots sent in some photos of the Cedar Fire that I put on the new Cedar Fire photo page. Be sure and read the description by clicking on the text under the photos. There are some nice engine pictures on the Engines 9 photo page and on the Grand Prix Fire page. Several new photos on the Handcrews 10 and Handcrews 11 photo pages. Some new dozer photos on the Equipment 6 photo page. Check the helicopters of SoCal 2002 season on the Helicopters 13 photo page. Some good photos of the Olinda Fire near Redding and SoCal Fires from 2002 on the Fire 21 photo page. If you missed looking at Fire 20, there are some excellent pics there as well. Thanks everyone.

Would whomever sent in the Angeles National Forest Engine 36 photo please resend the info? I may come across it today, but I may have lost it forever in the ethers.

Someone just gave me pointers today on how to create short digital videos for posting. As I recall, last spring and early summer some of you asked about whether we could post some of your short digital fire videos. If you have a video clip you could send me, I will try out my newly learned skills. So far all I have worked with is a clip of a bicycle race.

The key to posting video is to make them small and compressed while retaining clarity. Best format would be .mpeg or perhaps .avi, whichever your digital camera provides. If the file is very large or in a different format, please zip it. I know how to manipulate the videos to make them smaller and crisp. Hmmm, I'm trying to remember who among you asked the question. There were several as I recall. The Meat? Longboard? Matt?


12/2 The Jobs page and the wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated. Any of you lurkers interested in the position of Joint Fire Science Program Manager (Boise), best get your application in. There are also openings for Asst Supt and Squad Leader on the Union IHC... and for those wanting to work in the private sector, there's something there for you as well. Plan for next season.

Let me also take this time to make a plug for people visiting and nominating a wildland firefighter for the Stihl Heroism Award. The link is the banner at the top of the page. Go there. Read up on what is needed. Talk to your friends. It's not too hard. Send in your nomination for someone who went above and beyond the call of duty this last season. One of the characteristics of an occupation that is considered a profession is that kudos are handed out every so often, even if the one receiving doesn't consider themself a hero.

12/2 To everyone who has posted here, we need to once again acknowledge & thank the folk who make this forum what it is, a sharing of information & exploration of ideas. Now that fire season has slowed, many posts have been informative, some more than others. TY!
> sure hope those "Blue Ribbon Panel" members read what is posted here, and the "Trainers" realize what more information those training sessions can offer to their audience. (mutual aid is not new)

<grins> when will the media comprende there is a difference between a fire engine and a fire truck? most have figured out there is a difference between a fire contained or controlled ... or OUT!

be kind to yourselves and others; keep the faith; and during this holiday shopping season, don't forget www.wffoundation.org, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.


Do you mean to imply that posts here are sometimes NOT informative? or that they are less informative during fire season? <Haw><Haw> AB.

12/2 AB/TC:

If your position description has "5USC sec 8412" primary/secondary firefighter coverage listed on the classification cover, You are entitled to the benefits of the Act. Check out your "Official Personnel Folder" for a current copy of your PD. Forestry, Range or Conservation Technicians may be the series. You should know if you have "FERS/CSRS" coverage. Take a minute to look up this section using the "Govt Printing Office" web site. If you work for the Federal Govt, Your network will have a link to "gpo.gov". Just enter in 5USC8412. This is Chapter 84 - Federal Employee's Retirement System.

FWFSA is working on a "Professional Wildland Firefighter Series" which will be covered under PSOB. The current classification gives the Agency the right to "add or remove" the position from firefighter classification. If we have a Wildland Firefighter series, The coverage would not be a question. Hope this helps!


Thanks for the clarification. Ab.
12/1 I am not too proud to admit I had no idea that there was an agreement
to fight fires in Mexico. Last time I was in that area was prior to 1999.
Thanks BLM Roberto for the info.

12/1 Hola Fireout y AZ Trailblazer,

There has been an international agreement between the United States and
Mexico for fighting wildfires since 1999. All the states on the border are
included - Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Though the agreement
is between the federal governments of Mexico and the US, use of non-federal
resources is addressed in that there must be other agreements covering the
use of those non-federal resources. The agreement can be found (as usual
with these sorts of things) in the National Mob Guide:

Look in Chapter 40 on Page 153, with further info in Chapter 20 on p. 73.
Funny how many questions can be answered by 'reading the directions.'

AZ Trailblazer, you're not exactly correct that Arizona agencies will not
respond to Mexico for fires. Essentially, the agreement and the operating
plan describe the hoops that must be jumped through to go into the 16
kilometer 'Zone of Mutual Assistance.' US agencies must place a request to
cross the border - local operating plans address the procedures for those
requests. So I wouldn't go crossing the border without clear and explicit
permission, but it can be (and has been) done.

Requests for assistance beyond the 16 kilometer Zone of Assistance go
through NICC per regular coordination procedures.

Buenos dias a todos, su amigo mejor,
BLM Roberto
12/1 NVFC News Alert
For more Information Contact: Craig Sharman 202-887-5700
November 25, 2003

Congress Passes Legislation to Cover Heart Attacks Under PSOB

WASHINGTON, DC -- On November 25, the Senate gave final approval to the Hometown Heroes Survivor Benefits Act (S. 459 / H.R. 919), which will expand the Public Safety Officers Benefit (PSOB) program to cover public safety officers who die of heart attacks or strokes in the line of duty. The legislation, which gained House approval on November 22, now heads to the White House for the President to sign into law.

"This is a huge victory for public safety officers nationwide," said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. "The fire service owes its utmost gratitude to the bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives that worked so hard to ensure this bill's passage."

The legislation was originally introduced in the House by Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC), along with Representatives Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Michael Oxley (R-OH), and Curt Weldon (R-PA). In the Senate the effort was spearheaded by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), along with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jim Jeffords (I-VT).

Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees respectively, also played critical roles in moving the bill through the process.

The PSOB program currently provides a one-time death benefit payment of $267,494, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, to families of public safety officers (fire, police and EMS) killed in the line of duty, as well as to officers permanently disabled while on duty. The death benefit is payable to the survivors of a public safety officer who "has died as the direct and proximate result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty.

Unfortunately, in almost every incidence of death by heart attack or stroke, it has been ruled that the heart attack or stroke was not a direct result of an injury sustained in the line of duty and the family receives no benefits even though the deaths were clearly triggered by the rigors of the job.

The Hometown Heroes Survivor Benefit Act will correct that deficiency in the law, by ensuring that a public safety officer who suffers a fatal heart attack or stroke while on duty or not later than 24 hours after participating in a physical training exercise or responding to an emergency situation, is presumed to have died in the line of duty for purposes of public safety officer survivor benefits.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 37 firefighters died from heart attacks in the line of duty in 2002.

"There is nothing more important to the NVFC than ensuring the families of our firefighters that they will receive proper benefits should their loved ones fall while serving their communities," Stittleburg added. "Nearly half of all firefighter fatalities, though clearly caused by the rigors of the job, are not covered because they were heart-related."

Passage of this legislation has been a top priority for the NVFC in the 108th Congress.

Does anyone have the answer to TC's question? At the time of the last news release, he asked whether federal wildland firefighters are covered under this law? Ab.

12/1 Here's another article on the San Diego Co brouhaha.

County, state officials at odds over fire command center


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